Tag Archives: Philippines

If You Can Buy Some Land

Photo by Kitty Bantayan

If you can buy some land

surely you can buy some time?



If you have enough money for the lot

surely it won’t mean a lot



to let the lot

in your lot

move out without



a drop of blood?



If you have enough cash

to purchase that land

and land people with cash

in condos of lush;

and employ a lush lot

in businesses that encash,

grand and with brands,



then surely you shouldn’t gnash

your teeth when the lot

of people in your lot–

as poor as sewer rats,

as rotten as rotten rots–

refuse your will



for their shanties to be smashed?



For surely

you wouldn’t die

in a week or in a month,

in a year or even longer

–far longer than that–



if your businesses that encash

and your condos that land

lush people with lands

fail to materialize

before your eyes

as quickly as you would like?



For surely

you cannot die

of hunger

like this lot

of people in your lot

ragged as rats

rotted and rots,

barely human and humane,

living in your land?



For surely

the absence

of splintered bones and homes,

of shattered dreams and hopes



is infinitely more valuable

than cold hard









buildings that encash

and condos that land

landed people with lots

and a home for your lot

secure for years with brands,

as grand as grand

can get grand?



If you can buy a title

surely your tail

won’t rattle



if it takes years for the battle

to end without even



a scuffle?



For how can a man

watch his fellowmen

get clobbered and hammered

by the police

like pricey wooden sidings

of encashing commercial buildings?



How can he sleep soundly

when mothers weep loudly

through cold nights

in streets that are

as deathly cruel

as condos are

stylishly cool?



How can a man,


be capable of such deed,

just to satisfy a whim



to urgently plant

a residential unit or

a manufacturing plant

on land so soaked in grim?



How can a man do that–

it’s impossible, IMPOSSIBLE!


he sees the lot

of people in his lot

as nothing but

a nest

of two-legged rats?



So I ask you again,

you proud legal buyers,

you stash of cash stackers,



if you can buy some land

surely you can buy some TIME?



For “time is gold” they say

and these rats their gold

is just that



enough time to pass their stay,

time to play an unwinnable game



time to move out of your way,

finally–oh at long last–



and waste away,



waste away.


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Filed under Life, Poems

You’re Right, You’re Right

Oh, you’re right. Yeah, you’re right.
You haul big boxes on your shoulders every night,
Bruise them and heave some more boulders.
Oh, you’re right. Pain makes you right.

Girl, you’re the boss. Yeah, you’re the leader.
You strut around making friends with higher-ups,
Clowning around while whipping underlings.
Girl, you’re the boss. Two grinning faces slathered in sauce.

Man, you’re the go-getter. Flying to Finland for your future.
Give yourself a few months of utter failure,
You’re gonna come back to your homeland a sleazy winner.
Man, you’re the cash cow. Milk yourself and spill more grand!

Boy, you’re cool. Look at that! You’re nobody’s fool.
Hitting the road in your sleek, sleek car
After getting hit from behind by every Mr. Johnson.
Boy, you’re cool. You surely earned that tsk, tsk tool.

Guys, you’re on top of the world. Can’t see nothing but birds!
Directing your little armies in your dingy office
What more can you ask for? When your knickers strike fear?
Guys, you’re the lords. So go and make ’em sweep the floors!

Oh, people, you’re right, you’re right.
You’ve been through hell and back and now you’re hell as tight.
Kick ’em in their asses, these pansy Nancys
Like you kissed Mr. Johnson’s hiney before you turned holies!

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Filed under Life, Poems

Today, an Earthquake Hit Us.

The thing that’s scariest about death by earthquake is how innocent and, at the same time, how conclusive it is. Unlike illnesses, which we can partly blame on our lifestyles and, often, our lack of resources to pay for healthcare; or unlike murders, which we can directly blame on the person who pulled the trigger or shoved the knife — an earthquake is as faultless as an infant. We can’t hurl accusations of injustice of any degree on an earthquake. It existed before us and will persist after us regardless of anything we do or say or conceive. It may be the closest thing to an omnipotent deity. It has limitless powers, innocence, and, well — wrath. It is also decisive, final, ultimate. All our aspirations, political ideologies, hard disks filled with pictures of our loved ones don’t matter to the second that earthquake swallows us whole like a whale does to plankton. All our everything turns to nothing and you can’t imagine any other way for the narratives of our lives to end as nonsensically and abruptly as the way an earthquake destroys us. We just end. That’s it. No stories of how brave we fought through our diseases, no tales about how divinely or badly we treated people before we were murdered; no legends of our great wars, no letters to justify how unconditional and passionate our love was. The earthquake just erases us and we’re gone. And if something is more terrible than dying, it is dying forever without an echo.


Filed under Life, Poems

The Strange Disappearance of the MRT Stored Value Ticket: A Conspiracy Theory

Where has the Stored Value Ticket gone?

Something fishy is going on with the MRT. For about two to three weeks now, passengers can’t get their hands on the stored value ticket. Apparently, it’s gone and no one knows where it is. If anyone in the MRT management knows where the card is, they’re not telling us. Like an abducted guerrilla without any trace of evidence, no drop of blood or sweat on the floor, the stored value ticket has magically disappeared, leaving nothing but a haunting air of mystery behind.

It Happened Before

I’ve been riding the MRT for years that I could say I know every nook and cranny of the sticky trains and the grisly platforms. In all my years of riding this rattling sardine can, I’ve never experienced a stored value ticket shortage on the scale of what’s happening now.

But interestingly, there was a precedent. A little digging on the MRT’s history reveals that stored-value ticket shortages similar to this scale happened a long time ago, back in 2005. Like what’s happening today, the MRT had no official announcement whatsoever about why they’re running short on single journey and stored value tickets. There were ridiculous cases when guards just signed pieces of paper to let passengers in and out of platforms.

Eventually though, it became apparent what’s the cause of all the unfunny comedy. The MRT management had resorted to withholding “old” tickets with Erap’s face on them from passengers. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was sworn in the year before in June 2004, and someone must have ordered the MRTC to phase out Erap tickets to make way for the GMA tickets which aimed to conquer the MRT universe as soon as possible. Until all the old tickets were replaced, the management decided to literally cut out Erap’s face from the old tickets so passengers can use them. Passengers used dismembered old tickets that didn’t work, so they can get to work. The result of all this hullaballoo is that stored value tickets (fewer in numbers to begin with) were all used up in the morning, and huge crowds lined up for the few single-journey tickets available.

Where’s the Official Announcement?

MRT North Avenue Station

The present situation is not entirely different from 2005. Frustrated and annoyed passengers rushing to their work to make money for this country and our public officials are forced to line up every morning for single-journey tickets. A suffocating volume of people fills up every breathing space in platforms just to get their hands on single journey tickets that get used up instantly. Passengers who are used to suffering inside the congested and poorly maintained trains and stations are made to suffer even more day after day, night after night just because the stored value ticket had vanished.

The ugliest fact in this is that the only answers passengers get from the MRT management about the disappearance of the stored value ticket are the hastily scribbled notes on typewriting paper taped on ticket booths: “Stored Value Tickets Temporarily Not Available” or “Wala pa pong Stored Value — SV.”

To the MRTC and DOTC: We know they’re gone. The question is WHY? Continue reading


Filed under Life

We Are Inedible Pieces of Meat


A few months ago, in this country, the media saw dozens of corpses — stabbed in the eyes, shot in the genitals, swarms of flies having a sumptuous feast — they said it’s “inhuman.”

I went a bit further and read about cannibalism. Apparently, it has existed from time immemorial in almost every part of the world. Asians did it, Africans too, and you bet, even Americans. Today, the Korowai tribe in Papua, New Guinea is believed to be still practicing the gory ritual. While filming a documentary, the crew of a television show attempted to rescue a 6-year-old boy from being ham dinner because he was accused of being a witch doctor. They failed. I have reason to believe the boy’s body now fertilizes the ground that grows all sorts of healthy shrubberies and trees there. It’s hard not to feel sick after you read all of this taboo trivia.

But to me, it all comes down to one thing: We’re meat and we hate it. Continue reading

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Filed under Random Thoughts

Cowboy na Kumakain ng Pizza sa Ortigas

Isa sa mga pangarap ko ang sumakay ng kabayo habang kumakain ng mainit, mabango, malaman, maalat at maasim-asim na pizza. Eh kasi naman, ‘di pa ko nakakasakay ng kabayo sa ta’ ng buhay ko, pero mahilig ako sa mga cowboy films kung sa’n laging nangangabayo at namamaril ang mga bida sa harap ng papalubog na araw, pwera lang Brokeback Mountain. Gayundin, mahilig ako sa pizza kasi angsarap-sarap nito at angmahal-mahal. Kadalasan nga, parang nagpapasarap sa kanya yung presyo nya. Gano’n naman yata lahat ng bagay.

Gusto ko talagang magsuot ng cowboy hat, sumampa sa kabayo, umakyat sa isang cliff, at dahan-dahang masdan ang kabuuan ng mundo sa aking mga paa at mga kuko ng aking kabayo. Bigla ko lang naisip, mas ok kung papangalanan ko ang kabayo ko na “Matias.” Kulay tsokolate sya at nag-aapoy ang mga mata lalo na pag may nakitang makikinis na kabayong babae. Si Matias at ako — naka-cowboy hat — sa tuktok ng isang cliff, pinapanood ang buong daigdig — ‘di ba’t kayganda?

Tapos sa loob ng sukbit kong bag, huhugutin ko ang isang kahon ng mainit, mabango, malaman, maalat at maasim-asim na pizza. Hindi ko masabi kung anong brand basta kasinglaki sya ng Sbarro, kasinglasa ng Yellow Cab at kasing-arte ng Pizza Hut, may stuffed crust at kung anu-ano pang pampabongga. Ginamit ko yung salitang “bongga” pero hindi ako Brokeback. Tawagin na nila akong homophobic pero isa akong tigasing cowboy na kumakain ng umuusok na pizza sa tuktok ng isang cliff.

Tapos sasakyan ko si Matias hanggang Ortigas. Magkakatrapik-trapik dahil hindi sanay ang mga tao na makakita ng isang cowboy na kumakain ng pizza sa gitna ng kalsada. Maluluma kahit anong sasakyan, kahit yung pinakabagong model pa ng Ford o BMW. Kasi sa totoo lang, pare-pareho naman ang itsura ng mga kotse. Lumalaki lang, lumiliit, numinipis, lumalapad, nadudumihan, kumikinang — pero kotse pa rin, apat ang gulong, ang usok masakit sa ilong, at sayang lang dahil hindi makausad sa buhul-buhol na trapik ng Maynila. Eh yung kabayo ko, kabayo yun. Kulay brown at nag-aapoy ang mga mata lalo na ‘pag nakakakita ng mga makikinis na kabayong babae. Pagtitinginan talaga kami ng mga tao kasi espesyal kami at wala kaming brand. Continue reading


Filed under Random Thoughts

Bohol, Manila , and the Two Faces of Nature


September 26: The day started with the unmistakeable conclusion that we were unlucky. Chemae, my girlfriend, and I woke up at 6:30 in the morning, still groggy from drinks we had the night before with friends. An airplane headed for the beautiful province of Bohol was waiting for us at the airport, ready to fly at 8:30 AM. We had reserved that plane five months in advance. We thought we’d never make it, but we did. It turns out we were lucky after all.

Outside, the typhoon that would unload the heaviest rainfall on Metro Manila in four decades, and that would take away hundreds of lives away through raging floods, was approaching…

Bohol: Awe at Every Turn

The plane kept shaking because the weather was bad but we still made it to Tagbilaran Airport after about an hour and 20 minutes of flying. I was still dizzy when Val, our tour guide, fetched us at the airport and drove us through the capital. Val’s service included a complete tour of all the tourist spots in Bohol for just Php 2,000.

First, we went to Baclayon Church , the oldest Catholic church in the country built in the 15th century. Chemae and I went inside the old museum next to it and looked at some intricate antique pieces of church items, such as Bibles, idols, and candle holders. Then, we went to see the longest living python in captivity in the country located at Albuquerque . It was mind-blowing to see more than 23 feet of snake muscle twirled inside a cage. Continue reading


Filed under Life