Friday, December 25, 2009

Blue Christmas

Icy December, lonely winter
Dreamily watching the snow flakes falling
In my flat just south of Lansing

Weary thoughts circling in mind-boggling proportions
To a far away country, a warm home in the tropics
Noche Buena, puto bumbong, and Misa de Gallo.

Christmas in a foreign country, alone in a cold bedroom
Just passing the time with nothing else to do

This time when I call home long distance
I'll tell my mother that --

I was blinded by the snow.

Philippine Daily Inquirer/ YOU Section
December 2003

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Her dreams of lonely tales
would touch the weary
creeping foolish complexity
of the human heart

Dalityapi Unpoemed/ Makata/ June 2003

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


I have a story to tell but it is not for the faint-hearted.

It happened about six summers ago yet my recollections are still fresh despite the years for I have never experienced that kind of thing before and I don’t want that harrowing experience to happen again, ever.

As you see, I came from an obscure town in a remote province in southern Philippines where belief in the supernatural is still a way of life.

So it will come as to no surprise when you will hear stories about creatures of the dark-like ghosts, dwarfs, “layog“, “kapre“, “tikbalang“, “manananggal“, etc. in daily conversations of the townspeople although nobody in our town at least to my knowledge had claim to have seen one or have been a victim of one.

Having live half of my life in the capital city of Manila, I brushed off these beliefs as nothing but some sort of tall tales and folklores created by people with wild imaginations and nothing else.

It has no place in the 21st century, so I said to myself until I went back to my hometown for a much needed vacation in the summer of ‘89.

I have a childhood friend whose family had been the victim of vicious rumors and is known all over the town that all of its members are “Layog“…

“Layog” in our folklore are creatures that are cursed to live and look like ordinary people by day but transforms into creatures that can fly and prey on people especially the pregnant and terminally sick people for its blood and innards by night.

It all started when the grandmother of my high school friend who was said to be the original Layog died and it was said that she passed on the curse of the Layogs to my friend’s mother.

For years this single family was the object of wild stories about the supernatural by people who had nothing to do but engage in gossips for almost everyday.

Of course, I don’t believe the rumors for I should know better having spent many days and nights in that household and noticed nothing unusual except for the fact that this family is not very fond of meat. In fact, they prefer to have fish for viand most of the time at least during the times that I was there.

Until one fateful summer night and it was a really hot dry summer night and the moon is full and silver. I was on my way to a card game of “Pusoy” a form of poker in the neighborhood when I passed by the concrete bridge and noticed the mother of my best friend sitting there alone and looking at the full moon.

I approached her and asked her where my friend was. She just looked at me and said nothing. She turned around, looked at me again and without saying a word continued gazing at the full moon oblivious of my presence. Her eyes is transfixed and focused only to the silver moon above!

I was taken aback by her unusual behavior which is a far cry from her usual accommodating self during my visits to her house but passed it off rationalizing that maybe she’s just tired from a day’s work or contemplating on something important and just doesn’t want to be disturbed.

So I went on to the neighborhood and played some poker games with my friends until it was already one o’clock in the morning when we decided to call it quits.

My friends and I went out of the local gambling household and headed for home.

As we pass by the narrow bridge, we heard an eerie sound coming from the sky. It was the unfamiliar sound of a bird harping,” Weeek-weeek” followed by the sounds of wings flapping above our heads!

I looked up in the sky and saw a very dark object that looked like a very big black bird as it makes its descent and gliding towards the three of us-


I shouted at the top of my lungs as we all duck for cover and fell to the ground while our eyes darts out, warily searching for the dark creature into the dark night sky.

From the lights of the lone streetlight we were able to see the familiar silhouette of a woman as it glides and hovers to the lines of Coconut trees on the other side of the dusty road. It stays there for a minute or two and disappeared as fast as we had seen her.

After what it seems like an eternity, we heard a very loud thud coming from the direction of my friend’s house the sound of which is likened to the impact of a bunch of coconuts falling to the ground!It was only then that we realized what it was and fear and horror crept into us as we looked into each other‘s eyes in sheer terror but not for long as we gathered our shaken selves and went on an impromptu Layog- alert watch that night.

Armed with stones and empty bottles of beer we deemed it safer to stick together and decided to spend the night away in the bridge exchanging colorful stories but warily looking up and above our heads once in a while and at the first crack of day went home as if nothing happened.

It took months before we finally broke our silence about the incident and freely talk about it. We do venture out at night for a game of poker but only if it‘s not a full moon.

Sighted by AXN- Asia: 2006

Saturday, June 25, 2005


One chilly Spring morning while
sitting alone by the banks of the Detroit River
thoughts meander on remote but vivid memories
of a foreign land-

1969 in Khe San
where I lost my soul, dreams and all...

the smell of burning flesh, rubber and gasoline
still reeks in my brain-
burning my nostrils and making my stomach sick
that cannot be eased by any pill.

In Wyandotte,
where the beautiful sunrise at six a.m.
looks like an orange fireball from afar
just like the sight of Napalms explodingfrom a forgotten war...

At night,
the ghosts are still there to haunt me
where I can feel the chill in my bones and
the bugs creeping in my skin...

In my solitudeI cry for the friends I lost
and to the comrades who were left behind.

And I solemnly pray for the ones who survived...

For some people who do not understand
The war is long over but for us who were there
It is a never-ending battle against the
Demons in our minds...

June 2005
International War Veterans' Poetry Archives

May 2005

Voices in Wartime

Saturday, July 31, 2004


Beneath Agnetha's forlorn face, you can still see
The traces of the things that she had been through --
Chasing rainbows that weren't there,
Dreams that turned into gruesome nightmares

She once had been caught, you see
In the shameless confusion that is the dark world
Of the pill-popping inebriated lost people, trying to find
Solace in the magical promise that never was.

For years and years she roamed
Into the underworld of the dark unknown
Many times, she could feel in her skin
The impending doom that is just lurking within.

Then in her wailing despair, she found him
Who took her aging hand and guided her
To take the golden steps into the long march
To the path of quiet awakening from her sonorous slumber.

At times, she admits that she could still hear those familiar voices in her ears
And her tongue still misses the taste of those orange pills.
But she's home now in his arms, wrapped in comforts
Finding the peace that she could never ever find anywhere.

You could see it in her brown eyes that she's now a different kind
She could now talk about her life and her spiritual journey with utmost certainty
In the shade of the trees, boldly towering in her mother's garden
She made a pledge amid the stargazers' beguiling presence
Vowing that she will never be the same, a hollow person again.

Philippine Daily Inquirer/ YOU/ July 31, 2004

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Truth or Dare

Words have no meaning
Coming from your mouth that spews nothing but fire
I have learned to take them on the cheek
And turn a deaf ear and shrug a cold shoulder.
I am not blind you know?
I just learned how to cope without my colored glasses on
I don't know where exactly it all began
But I know that it was not so long ago
When I was bewitched by your uncanny charm
And fell into a spell that I thought I would never recover
But I was wrong my dear and so are you
And that is something that you should know
I am better without you though not that great you know
But I am coming to terms with my life now
And one thing is sure though,
When I finally get my bearings again
You will not be there.
Philippine Daily Inquirer/ YOU/ July 2004

Thursday, May 20, 2004

May Jane

I picked you up in the garden,
One bright May morning.
I inhaled and smelled your fragrance
Soothing and calming my restless being.

I have watched your beauty
As it faded and wilted into
The heat of my sweaty palms
Crushing my illusions
Breaking my fragile heart
Into a thousand bits and pieces.

A requiem for the dead.

Philippine Daily Inquirer/ YOU/ May 2004