Friday, December 6, 2013


I waited for a parrajeepney with a route from Greenbelt 1, Earth-44 to Greenbelt 2, Earth-89. One came but it was full. I held on the steel bars on the door to hang but the driver stopped me.

'Bawal ho ang sabit. Pasok ho kayo, may isa pa.' [You are prohibited from hanging. Please come in, there's one seat left.]

I was grateful that there indeed was one small space left for one passenger. I squeezed my self into the seat. It was too narrow for me. Only one cheek of my butt is sitting on the seat. But the jeep has already started running so I have no choice but to endure.

Along the way, I felt too uncomfortable that I decided to get off.

'Boss, para na ho dyan.' [Boss, I'll get off here.] I recon we might be at Earth-56 by now but it doesn't matter. My leg muscles are cramping due to my impossible position. I have to get off. But the driver stopped me.

'Bawal ho bumaba dito. May ParraPolice'. [You are prohibited from getting off here. There are ParraPolice in the area.] So I endured.

At long last, we arrived at Earth-89. It was a great relief. The passengers started getting off. I follow suit. But the driver stopped me, to my irritation.

'Bawal ho kayo bumaba. Hindi pa kayo bayad.' [You are prohibited from getting off. You haven't paid yet.]

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Death of the family

I will miss all of you. I will miss our fun times together. I will miss brother's noise. I will miss sister's nagging. I will miss father's advice and mother's concern.

I will miss our bonding. Our family time watching soaps on TV while eating popcorn. I will miss spending Christmas with you. I will miss our exchange gifts.

I will miss everything.

But it has to end here. You have to go. I have to let you go. I have to do this for myself. I have to be free. Free from all of you. You should not control me. You should not be dictating how I live my life.

So this is goodbye. After this I'll be free. And all of you will be gone. Stuffed in some gray box and buried somewhere in this forsaken room full of all my forsaken things. It's time.

I will miss you. But you have to go. Goodbye everyone. Goodbye my Sims Family. I had a great time playing with you.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Waiting Shed at the Border of the Blackhole

"Going South?"

"Yeah. How do you know?"

"My gift." She said, while pointing to the thin, pink almost gelatinous antenna on her forehead. "They call these caldousil. It's like an advance nose in your race."

I looked at it with feigned amazement. I've never seen it in person but I have read about them before, sometime over the last 40 years during one of my Xenopology classes. 

"I'm Klathykksi. You can pronounce it Klat with your tongue." She offers her hand to shake. But I know she's not shaking hands. I've read it before. So I pull my hand out, spit on the back of my palm and slaps it to the palm of her outstretched hands. She seem quite surprised by what I did, her black eyeballs widened. But her eyes then start to close into a slit. She is feeling the spit with her hypersensitive skin.

She is a Krayohian. From the 178th quadrant of the Andromeda galaxy. Marine-based lifeform. Salt-based. The have highly enhanced senses of smell and feeling. But almost completely blind. Life span of 255 Earthian years. Only female exists. They reporoduce asexually via psychomitosis. 

I learned it all from college.

Our race is one of the weakest lifeforms in the universe. We don't have special organs or body parts. We did not evolve any extraordinary appendages. Even the lower lifeforms in our planet are more equipped with special organs than us. What we excelled in is learning how to use tools and using them to our advantage.

That's why the Earthian government decided that we should excel in knowledge. But not the knowledge to exceed the Wikians. Their mental prowess are far, far superior than us. Almost infinite brain capacity. What we did focused on is on the 'street  knowledge' of the universe. What things do we need to know to protect ourselves. How can we survive out there. 

You may think it's almost combative and competitive in nature. Learning how to survive by finding out things about other races. Learning other's weaknesses.

But it's how we survive. How our species will survive.

'Nice meeting, you. You have a nice life ahead of you.' The Krayohian greeted as a warpbus docks. 'And by the way, if you happen to pass by 178th, just spittulate and they will know that we are acquaintances. See yah!'

In that entire conversation I said exactly only 5 words. And yet I have forged an alliance between two races from different corners of the world. My mission here is accomplished.

Another warpbus arrives. Time to proceed to the next target.

Monday, December 2, 2013


"The flight to Earth-203 has been delayed".

The huge speakers on the altport blared.

"The flight to Earth-203 has been delayed".

The huge speakers repeated.

I looked at the giant Jumbotron and searched for my flight. EARTH-203 slid on the ticker. DELAYED followed it.

I't doesn't bother me really. I have all the time in the world, or at least in the world I'm going to. I had an x-deal with self-203 last year. He likes to be alone, (I believe he is a painter) and he needs to be in total solitude while doing his art. But he have many very cheerful relationships in that world. ANd relationships means noise and distraction.

Good thing, I happen to be a loner in this world. A lone wolf going wherever I wan't to, doing whatever I want to. But loneliness gets wearisome at times. Depression is my enemy here. And I have resolved to be in good terms with everyone I know now.

But I don't want to start from scratch, start rebuilding bonds. It's too tiresome. Hence the x-deal.

I'll live his life of endless ruckus. He'll live my life of infinite solitude. And I'm fine with that. I'm tired of being alone.

"The flight to Earth-203 will proceed in 0200 hours".

I saw my altplane materializing on the dropway. As soon as the door opened, I saw many people got off. Most of them looks familiar but different.

Then I saw myself getting off.

 I look so goddamn awful.

When he looked at me, I feel like he's thinking the same thing.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Ihip at agos

Igapos, ikulong ito ay magwawala
harangin, ipiit ito'y maghuhulagpos
sa langit pagtanaw sila nga'y mawawari
sa puso pagdungaw ika'y mananatili

sa bugso ng ulap, halika't sumabay
paglipad ng dahon tayo'y sumakay
bawat ihip, bawat kaway masdan mo kanyang galaw
ihip ng buhay kasabay sa indak ng kanyang sayaw

itago, ilihis sa huli ay dadaloy
sa ating kalooban ito ay tutuloy
saan man bumaling tinig nya ay aawit
tinig ng pagsibol, pagasang makakamit

sa patak ng ulan, lika't humimlay
paglutang ng dahon tayo'y sumakay
sa daloy ng buhay, pagahon ay taglay
pagbangon paglaban salo ng ating kamay

ihip nyang nanghahawi, kung humiyaw buong sidhi
ay syang hiningang satin ay bumubuhay parati
buhos nyang sumisigaw bawat agos umuugong
dumidilig sa lupa nang bagong mundo ay umusbong

Friday, November 1, 2013


My name is Robert Berdugo.

Aka Obet.

A ghost writer. frustrated novelist, former obituary writer, now a travel/lifestyle columnist. 

If I tell you my job, you might say I'm very lucky. I write a column in one of the small press publishing in the country. You'll know it when you see it, a catchy tabloid title in shocking red font with a scantily clad woman on the front page. I write in the lifestyle section-- human profiles all around the country. That means I got to travel a lot. In the company's expense mind you. 


On the contrary. Have you heard of Mando Kalubig? How about Joaquin Mastino? Have you been to Palino? Or Catispal perhaps? Yes the last two are places still in the Philippines. And the two people? They are nobody.

That's the problem. My editors send me to the dark unknown corners of the country to interview some unknown personality. They tell me the place, it's my job to find a person of interest. Which is quite difficult to do, to be honest. How do my editors determine the place? Beats me. I've raised this to them once or twice. I requested places like Boracay or Matabungkay at least but they only tell me to do the job or some one else would. I stopped questioning after that.

Now here I am sitting (or squatting) on a kanga (a wooden carriage) drawn by a smelly carabao under a scorching summer sun. Here, bathing in my own sweat, with 10 or more others, also sweating and emitting a stench of something from hell. My only solace as we rode on the moonlike crater-laden road is my ice cold mineral water (at least 3 hours ago) which I bought a million miles from here. Better hold on to this as the swerving kanga might make it fall out of my gri... oops. There it goes.

My assignment for today is a town called Ayungin. Its a small rice farming town on the edge of Nueva Ecija, 6 hours away from Manila. Which doesn't really mean that it's far, it just means we have to travel 2 hours on a cramped bus, 3 hours on a bumpy kanga and an hour on foot. It's that remote.

One thing I learned from my stint as an obit writer is that you get the purest, most raw emotions in the face of death. That's why when I arrive at any town, I only go to two places first; the graveyard and the funeral homes, depending on the time of day. When it is still early in the morning, I go to the graveyard. When it's about to get dark, I go to the funeral homes. After all my days as an obit writer, I'm still a whiny little coward.

The sun is still high up in the sky so I proceeded to the graveyard. As usual, it's very, very quite here. And as usual, it smells different. Not really a stench of rotting flesh like what you'd expect (it actually just smells like freshly cut grass and dishoveled dirt). But there seems to be an aroma of death and sorrow suffused with it. I don't know how one could smell death and sorrow but that's what I get from it. 

I immediately asked for the town's sepulturero (or gravedigger). Mang Temyong as they call him here. If I have my way I'll just write about every sepulturero in each town but I've already done two or three of those and my editors became quite nosy. Write about other people or we'll have someone else to write them, they would say.

Mang Temyong looks like your typical small town old man. He is thin, with wrinkly skin, hair still black but with white strands protruding on the edges. He coughs every few seconds but its a cough which doesn't look like a sickness, more like an acquired habit through the years. He also has this habit of inhaling very very deep and then making his nose move as if he smelled something bad. Maybe it's the smell of death and sorrow. Maybe one gets to know the smell if one stays long enough in places like these.

There's this imbalsamador (embalmer) who has a habit of pinching his nose every few seconds. Then he clears his throat as if he has something in his throat that he want to vomit. There's also this one who has a habit of blinking hard and a little longer than usual. Like he sees something and he want to unsee it. I guess that's what happen when you work in the face of death, you acquire unusual habits that make you seem like you are sensing something out of this world. Or maybe there is indeed something. Maybe Mang Temyong smells death, or that imbalsamador tastes death, and other guy sees death.

Anyway, I didn't come all the way here to think about all those things so I just went ahead to interview Mang Temyong. I already have a set of questions ready for this phase of my research.

When is the last death?
About how many attended?
How are the attendees related to the dead person?
Who is the noisiest crier?
Any noticeable characters during the funeral?

These are the questions I use everytime to find the person to interview. But these are just starters. I always find that the sepulturero or imbalsamador tells more things, juicier subjects, on their own. But from these five questions, I get all that I need. From here I get my story.


The moment Mang Temyong the grave digger answered my first question, I know that there something spooky going on this small town. I suddenly realized why Mang Temyong does those mannerisms like coughing involuntarily, frequent inhaling deeply and hands that jerk nervously. I've seen those in people trying to quit smoking after years of addiction. Those aren't mannerisms. Those are symptoms of withdrawal. 

When I asked Mang Temyong when is the last death, he didn't answer with a straight response. It's probably last week, the memory is still very vivid, no probably 2 weeks ago or a month perhaps. Or two. But it's very recent. Maybe 3 months ago. No, I think it was last year. 2 years latest. I asked him if he could show me the last lapida that he assembled. When I saw it, I felt goosebumps in my entire body. I asked him if he is sure this is the last. He seems confident. 

Juan Kalos 
Born: December 1, 1972 
Died: December 1, 1992. 

There are so many things wrong about this. First, the death was 20 years ago. So no one's ever died since then? According to Unicef, the Philippines has a death rate of 6% per year. I don't want to do the math but that figure there simply means there should be someone dead every year (not that I want to, I'm just saying the statistics). But here, nobody's died for 20 years! That's enough to be spooked of. Maybe the people just migrated after that, I don't know. But maybe that's just rationalizing something pretty unnatural.

Second wrong thing is that the person, Juan Kalos' death is 20 years after his birth, to the month and day. Now, how often does that happen? Not often. That's pretty creepy. Maybe it's just some extremely weird coincidence. Maybe I'm just rationalizing again.

The last wrong thing, and probably the scariest is this fact: today is November 30, 2012. Exactly 20 years after the last death, minus one day. I know nothing about the happenings in this town but let me set the facts straight (it makes me shudder just thinking about this): Juan Kalos died 20 years after his death. After his death no one has ever died for another 20 years. Tomorrow is the exact twentieth year. Which means something terrible is going to happen tomorrow, right here. Which means only one thing: I have my story.


It's just 3' o clock in the afternoon. I still have a lot of time before night falls in. So I went to the town hall to ask somethings. There's a woman in her late 40's sitting in one of the desks fanning furiously with a small cardboard which looks like some kind of an election paraphernalia for some politician. She's very pretty with her pearly white teeth and her sweet smiling lips -- the politician on the cardboard fan that is. The woman official saw me coming and she gave me her version of the politician's smile, albeit not as sweet.

After some introductions and some small talk here and there (I learned that she is named after Marimar the actress), I went straight to the juicy part. I asked if she was aware that there's no death for the last 20 years. She is aware. I asked her if it does not creep her out. Not really, she said. Have you been talking to Mang Temyong, she asked. Then she turned her back to open a cabinet of files and folders. She rummaged through the piles of papers looking for something. When she seem to finally find it, she exclaimed a loud A ha and faced me again.

She handed me a letter. On its heading, it read Baranggay Decree No. 455. As I started to read it, Aleng Mari, began to tell me the contents much to my relief since I don't want to read this long legal document. She tells me that 20 years ago, Juan Kalos died because of water poisoning. She tells me that the the toxic substances from the cemetery went its way to the water reservoir under the town. So the baranggay ordered to close the cemetery once and for all. They now bury their dead on the next town. 

What a bummer... And I thought there is something supernatural about it.

I asked about the death of Kalos, why it happened 20 years after his birth. Plain coincidence, she muttered. My mother died exactly while giving birth to me. My father died exactly 60 years after his birth. My uncle was born during an eclipse. My children were born exactly 2 years apart. How many more examples do you want?

My creepy conspiracy theory goes down the drain.


That night I went to the funeral homes. My creepy story did not pan out so I need to find something else. I just wasted half a day chasing a story which I thought would be something. Now I'm back to square one. Sad thing for me is that there is no funeral homes in this town. With the closing of the cemetery, the funeral homes also moved to the next town. But with existing competition there, they ultimately went bankrupt and out of business. I asked around if the former embalsamador still lived here, but to no avail. Some say he's dead. Some say he's moved to other places. Some say he went crazy and lived inside the forest as a hermit. Some say he is now an aswang. Small town stories.

Without the embalsamador there's no one to ask for my valuable topic. And it's too dark to still go to the graveyard for the sepulturero. So much for my five-point questions.


I set my phone alarm clock to 6 AM. I want to start early so I could go home early. My plan of attack is this, I still go to the sepulturero to ask him my five questions. Maybe he'll tell some interesting stories and some fascinating characters. But as an alternative, I'll do it from another vantage point. I think that the Marimar baranggay official is an interesting character and I think I can do a write-up about her. A last resort really, but that's all I can afford at the moment. I'll have to go home tomorrow so I need to have a story by then.

Having set my strategy, I just went to sleep on the hard bamboo bed. Thank my editors they gave me some budget to rent a room even if it's just this small, dilapidated, stacked up shack which is a sad excuse for a house. 

My muses apparently felt pity for me, because that night I slept a dreamless sleep. The night is so quiet, like a graveyard.


I was awaken by the signal of my phone alarm clock. I sat up from my bed but it's still very dark. I checked my phone on the table and it says 6 AM. But it's too dark to be 6 AM, i thought to myself. Maybe it's that way around here. When I put down my phone on the table again I noticed a small sheet of paper. I picked it up. Somethings written. I illuminated it using my cellphone.

Today. None. Nothing. You. You.

A bunch of scribbled nonsense, I thought. But who would have left it here? 

I stood up and tried to find my way to the door using my phone as my flashlight. I was able to go outside. It really is very dark. The night sky is very dark. Starless. As i walk towards the town center, I realize there's no light from any of the houses in the town either. I can't see anything from here. 

I turned back to return to my rented shack. But it's pitchblack from my position. I illuminated the ground with my phone but the light never went a meter farther. I walk blindly somewhere, I don't know what direction. I started to call people. Hello. Anybody there. I began to feel frightened. Am I alone? Where are the others?

I began walking faster. Still calling out. 

I'm running. To where? I don't know. I'm sweating. But I feel cold.

I'm shouting out now. Crying for help. 

In my haste, I tripped face down. The pain shut me up. I had to clear my head.

I realize, Hey I have a cellphone in hand! So I dialled one of my editor's number. No signal. Crap. It's no use.

I realized I was still holding the piece of paper. Maybe it holds a clue. Maybe this is the answer. 

I looked at the written words again. Maybe these words are the answer. These five words.

Five words...


When is the last death?
About how many attended?
How are the attendees related to the dead person?
Who is the noisiest crier?
Any noticeable characters during the funeral?

It's too quiet. Like a graveyard.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Tales from the Snowflake

This Earth is a tiny crystal on the snowflake of the multiverse. We are all living an alternate life, a parallel reality with another 'us' on another world on the other  side of the snowflake.

We are the stories they write. We are the parallel worlds. We are the imagined possibilities. This earth is what the beings on the other side tell tales about.

There, in the earth where computers were not invented. There they write with pens and papers about a world where magic square boxes can show moving images and can magically speak. There they write about us.

There, in the earth where telepathic communication technology flourished. There they mind-talk about a technologically backwards world who communicate with noise. They mind-talk about us.

We. Here. This world. Our reality is their fiction. We are all fiction in their heads.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Corned Tuna Mayo Toast

   1 can corned  tuna
   2 slices of white bread
   4 tablespoons of mayonnaise

  1. Mix the mayonnaise and corned tuna.
  2. Spread the mix on the bread slices.
  3. Toast the bread in the oven for 5 minutes or until brownish.
"This tastes like crap".
"Damn. I think I missed an ingredient. The most important one."
"And what's that?"
"An ounce of love."
"I hate you."

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Prawn Crackers

It started with a crackle. Then a spark. Suddenly the entire room is brimming with electromagnetic field lines glowing bright purple like the insides of a neon light. Oishi's body was engulfed with the psychedelic lights.

As he look around him, he found himself floating in the middle of his room. The ceilings and the walls are all radiating with blinding light.

The purple light started to creep into Oishi's feet. His limbs are now glowing as well. It crept towards his torso in a very steady pace. In another minute his whole body is glowing bright purple as he float and rotate like a satellite inside his room.

Moments later, a beam of light emanated from outside his window. The beam target his body. He was being pulled into the light, head first. Slowly, he floated towards the window until finally he was out. Suddenly, it went dark. The room is back in its normal arrangement. But Oishi is nowhere to be found.

The red indicator from the CCTV camera continued to blink.

A week later, the news headlines reported the  first ever alien abduction caught on camera. A month later,  with the new hard evidence they gathered, the Earth government revived the case against the Martians for illegal abduction on Earth's premises.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Tiny Cars and a Yellow Curtain

It's just 10 in the evening and I had 6 cups of coffee already. That would last me another half-hour at least. It's been 10 days -- two hundred and thirty nine hours and fifteen minutes to be exact -- since I last saw you.

'I'll see you on the next iteration,' you said, as you turn the lever to full throttle. In an instant, your time bubble vanished and what's left in its stead is a yellow whiff of smoke and some tiny sparks.

You said you'll send an indicator if you will arrive soon. Soon. I don't know how that concept applies now. Here I am waiting for sometime now. Anytime now, that is soon, for me. But you have the entire universal timeline to traverse. How long is 'soon' if you can outlive the universe itself? What is 'time' if you can come and go as you please?

'Just look at the things that make you safe, at this instant of time.' you had said before you left. 'Just look at them and you'll know when I'll arrive.

What makes me safe at this instant? Coffee? Well, it keeps me awake but not safe. My yellow curtains? Probably. It keeps me safe from perverts looking into the room with their powerful telescopes from across the building. (Yes, I'm that paranoid.). My 1:64 die cast cars on the drawer? They keep me sane, that's for sure.

Seventh cup. The waiting is killing me. I go out to the balcony. It sure is so bright tonight and noisy. Or is it just the coffee? From up here, the ground looks so near. It would be so easy to jump, except that I'm 19th floor high and I'm not insane. I feel nauseous all of a sudden.

I went inside. I closed the door and windows and just opened my orange curtains. When did I change curtains? And when did I start collecting 1:50 die cast cars?

A whiff of yellow smoke appeared in front of me. And some sparks.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Two Moons: Ikalimang Yugto

Technocidal Tendency

Ang susunod na liham ay encrypted Base-128.

Mahal kong talaarawan,

Ngayong araw ay sisimulan kung gumawa ng isang talaarawan. Bakit ngayon pa kamo? Kasi ngayon lang nagsisimula ang buhay ko. Magmula ng makilala ko siya, ay wala na akong ibang gustong gawin kundi makita siyang muli. Nagbago ang kulay ng mundo ko. Naging makulay. Ika nga ng matatanda, parang isang batang kakalabas lang sa clone vat. 

(Parang nagiging love letter…)

Hindi yun ang gusto kong ikwento sa yo. Alam mo naman siguro na meron na lang akong dalawang buwan. Ilang digicreds na ba ang nagastos ko ngayong araw? Malamang kulang dalawang buwan na nga lang ang meron ako. Anuman ang maiiwan kong pag-aari,  kung meron man ay mapunta sana sa pamilya ko na nasa langit na ngayon--sa kanilang Zepellin Mansion.

(Nagiging last will and testament…)

Gusto ko pang mabuhay. Napakasarap mabuhay. Pero mukhang hindi ko maaafford yun ngayon. Nung kinwenta ko ang aking gastusin para sa dalawang buwan ay nakalimutan ko na ngayon taon din nga pala ang expiration date ng Fusion cell na nagpapatibok ng heartpump ng neural system ko. At kung walang neural system, mawawalan ako ng access sa Cyberstream. Mas mabuti pang mamatay na lang ako, kesa maging isang inbalido at kung mas malala pa ay baka maging isang burado.

Napagtanto ko ang lahat ng ito kahapon ng makilala ko siya. Pagsakay niya ng elevator. Nung sandaling yun biglang tumibok ang heartpump ko. Tugss. Tugss. Tugss. At nablanko na lang ako bigla. Hindi dahil sa kung ano mang emosyon, kundi dahil sa takot. Sa takot na biglang tumigil ang tibok. Tugss. Tugss. Tugss.

Kaya naman kung anong tindi na lamang ang kagustuhan ko na makita syang muli. Upang tuloy tuloy na tumibok ang puso ko. Dahil alam kong oras na tumigil ito, ay matatapos na ang lahat.

O aking talaarawan, marahil alam mo na kung gano kahalaga sa akin na makahanap ng trabaho sa loob ng dalawang buwan. Salamat sa iyong pakikinig. Ngayon, ipiprint ko ito sa isang carbon fiber sheet at dadalhin lagi kahit saan ako magpunta, para kung bigla akong maging isang burado ay mayroon pa din akong pagkakakilanlan sa mundong ito. Sana naman kahit itong liham na ito ay hindi mabura sa kasaysayan. Sana ay hindi ako makalimutan ng tuluyan.

(Ayan, suicide note na.)


PS. Kung maging burado man ako at maging isang tila multo na lang na pagalagala sa Realspace ng walang access sa Cyberstream, kung sino man pong makakabasa nito, pakiusap, bisitahin nyo po ang cybergrave ko sa address na to: httpsq://112304.321.22312.77654019/G65%4#jkjdll.?cyber&hhgslong. Kahit isang pirang cyberrose ay ayos na po. Tatanawin yun na isang malaking utang na loob mula sa isang nagpapakumbabang nilalang na naoffline nang hindi pa nya panahon. 

PSS. Kung may extra creds at ontime pa kayo, baka gusto nyo din ituloy ang nilalaro kong Utotpia Online, o kaya pakainin si Spyke, ang aking Quantumpet,  o kaya ituloy ang aking Fantasy Doctor’s War. (Nasa cyber grave ko ang mga username at password).