Tiny-Titanic Thoughts

Thoughts have consequences, either small or big

Me V. The Dirt Devil February 24, 2009

Filed under: Humor — Jess Fernando @ 1:28 am

When we moved in to our new house three years ago, a Kenmore central vacuum was already in place. It conked out just after two months using it. We tried not to miss vacuuming and see if we could live with it. So, for the next two months our carpet has not been at all hostile to dirt and dust – till I could not handle the guilt anymore… I phoned Sears. To have a new central vacuum get install, Sears told me, I am looking at around 500 bucks. My wife told me just to get a handy cheaper vacuum under hundred dollars. To save us a few dollars more, I brought in the vacuum motor to Allen Motor shop at Agnes to get it repair.

The motor shop was dark, although lights were open. The whole place was stacked by piles of greasy motors and armatures from floor to ceiling gathering dust and cobwebs. The shop smelled like stale sweat doused with the odor of rusted iron and used oil. I was not impressed of the shop being open for business, had it not been for an old man came out from nowhere wearing an overall coated with soot. Surprised of my presence, I told the old man my problem. He exited to the other dingy room and when he appeared again, he said, he could do it for seventy five. Two days after, I got my repaired motor back.

Our central vacuum worked. My wife was happy. I was leery. I had feelings of doom coming. Two weeks after, our vacuum conked out again. I brought it in again to Allen’s to claim its job’s warranty. The shop was closed for business! The doom started to emerge. My wife warned: further escalation cost of the vacuum could get my bi-monthly allowance chopped off. In our household my wife took care of our finances.

My wife and I went to Canadian Tire, to check on those cheaper vacuums. We settled for the Dirt Devil. The Devil worked fine, although it took longer than usual to clean up the whole house. One day, the Devil stopped running. I consulted its manual. Oh, I have to check the dirt bag. I laid down the vacuum – seriously looking and studying which part I should open. Common sense told me it was the flap. I heard a click sound when I opened it up. And there, the dirt bag looked bulky. I didn’t have a new replacement bag, so I went to the Canadian Tire. The guy there asked what model is my vacuum. Oh, do I need that, I asked. Yes. The guy said. So I called my wife. Where’s that model number located in the vacuum? My wife asked. Just look in there, or look for the manual it must be lying there somewhere. My wife found the manual.

When I put the bag in, the flap didn’t want to snap. It wouldn’t want to close. Oh…Shoot…What happened. I checked it out. The two hooks to close it were chipped off. So, that was the clicking sound I heard when I opened it up. I used an inordinate force. I thought of two solutions. One was to use the duct tape winding up the flap, but duct tape is tightly sticky, unwinding it to change the dirt bag would be stupid and tedious. Second, this analogy of dressing up a kid popped out in my head. I would have an elastic band as the dress and the vacuum as the kid. So, I’ll get this elastic band run through the kid’s neck which is the vacuum’s handle till it reached the kid’s torso which is the flap. That was it. The elastic band would snap the flap securing the dirt bag.

The Devil’s handle cracked at another time. The handle was brittle, that with constant lifts and bumps, it gave in. So, when I vacuumed now, I hugged the Devil in squatting position pushing it against the carpet. It was hard. I was beginning to hate this Devil. How can I get rid of it? My wife couldn’t be convince to just buy a new one or throw it – not until I exhausted all the remedy, or it became totally incapacitated. Not wanting to get my allowance chopped off, I rummaged through the phone book. I checked every vacuum repair shops in Winnipeg and asked if they have a spare of this kind of Devil’s handle. One East Indian shop at Ness Avenue, said they have. I bought it for twenty five bucks.

The Devil’s motor continued running, but the outer parts disentangled one by one. I was just doing band aid solutions to make it work. But really, I had to get rid of it. An opportunity came when our basement got flooded because our sump pump got busted. I drained out all the water on the floor but the water in the tank remained. Only upon emptying the tank, I could get the sump pump replaced. But to get the water out, I need a bucket to scoop it, transport and throw it to the toilet sink. That would take long. Thought occurred to me that instant. It came in blinding speed, the same as that of what hit St. Paul at Damascus … yeah, maybe my Devil, could drain the water quick. So I sat the Devil up… with the Devil’s nozzle dipped into the water, I switched on the vacuum. The Devil whirred. It got me electrocuted. I survived, my Devil didn’t. That was good.

We went to Regent Casino one time, and my wife saw this sign from a parked SUV truck. She pointed it out to me. The sign read: “We repair what you’re husband fixed” I knew what she meant. Trying to replace our sump pump, I left it undone in midstream, and double the cost my wife paid to the licensed plumber.


Reversed Pledge of Allegiance April 30, 2007

Filed under: Humor — Jess Fernando @ 9:42 pm

One day, at the Baliwag Town Plaza, beside St. Augustine Church where horse drawn vehicles (kalesa) parked, the three of us, Tabog, Pepit and I saw the man who tortured us with the singing of the Philippines National Anthem in the reversed order.

Three months after we’ve been tortured because of curfew violation, in hindsight, I thought of it as karma for our gate-crashing activities. That ingenious torture was the most severe we endured so far. Our indiscretion had its toll. It’s time to mend our ways. And as Tabog booked us in advance which dance parties, movies, barrio or town fiestas to hit, I thought if we don’t stop our gate-crashing, we could get killed. I voiced my fear to the two. Tabog charged, “You used your fingerling brain again!” I didn’t know why Tabog gave me that “fingerling” tag. I may be the tiniest among the three, but that doesn’t follow I have the brain of a fingerling! “That’s right!” Pepit agreed, “Your disaster thoughts derailed us … always, always. …And now, as usual, you’re chicken to take revenge.”

“Aha …! Revenge..!” The two, upon seeing the man who tortured us made up their minds to make revenge. The tall man, at the time was tending a horse. His left hand holding grass feeding it to the horse’s mouth, while his right had a bottle of San Mig, and took swigs on it. Scenes flash backed. We were kneeling naked on mimosa field where thorns of the plant pricking our knees, and our arms stretched sidewards, while I was wrecking my brain disassembling the natural order of the national anthem, so Pepit could isolate the lyrics from bottom up, and dictate it to Tabog, so he could sing the lyrics in its apt tunes. That was the most nerve wrecking stunt for the three of us under the nose of the gun. So fresh were these scenes, it seethed hate and anger in my heart. This revenge, I feared would boomerang. In the end, as I didn’t want to break my friendship with the two, they being good providers of cheap adventure, albeit sometimes dangerous, reluctantly, I go with the idea. But I said we should have a foolproof plan.

Our revenge was now on cue. We did an investigation first. We learned that the tall man’s name was Hugo. He was a Kalesa driver by day, moonlighting as BSDU (Barrio Self Defense Unit) at night. BSDU’s were paramilitary segments of the Armed Forces of the Philippines used as buffer to prevent infiltration of the insurgent’s NPA ( New People’s Army) of certain localities. Hugo was a mustachioed guy like Lee Van Cleft of the “The Good, The bad and the Ugly” movie. Had it not been for his Ernest Borgnine bulging eyes, we wouldn’t recognize him, as we remembered him clean shaven when he tortured us. We also learned he was a drunkard, and San Mig, was his favorite. One of his obvious mannerisms was his smoothing the arching end of his mustache whenever his left hand was free.

Time now came for the execution of our revenge. One afternoon, at the Kalesa parking lot, Tabog and Pepit approached Hugo. Pepit would negotiate with Hugo to bring us to Tenejero paying him more of what he usually get in one trip if he could take just the three of us as his passengers. While Pepit was doing this, Tabog dropped off “Auropac” pills on a pail of molasses where Hugo’s horse was drinking. “Auropac” pills, are lazy pills. My mother used it for her pig to get sleepy and do little activities. Meanwhile, I was waiting for a struck deal between Hugo and Pepit. When I saw Hugo gave a nod to Pepit, the cooler that I brought in with me which has bottles of San Mig in it, I loaded it up to the carriage. The three of us staged an atmosphere of fun at the back of kalesa’s interior. I scooped three bottles of beer from the cooler, uncorked them, and we started drinking amidst our boisterous laughing. I watched Hugo if our drinking had an effect on him. It had. As he was at the front reining his horse, he often times turned his head at the back, leaving the sight of the road, and giving us a conspiratory smile. I felt he was anxious for us to offer him a bottle. But, of course, the offer would come later when his salivating built up, till we reached the desolated part of the road, and once the horse responded to the Auropac pills. When the kalesa reach the end of San Roque, the border barrio separating Baliwag and Pampanga and the beginning of the desolated part of the road, I gave Hugo an uncorked bottle of San Mig. I saw his bulging eyes almost fell down from its sockets. Anxiously, he grabbed the bottle and emptied it quickly.

“Whew! This beer kicked big and seems to have a funny taste”, he said.
“Do you know why?” I asked. “Because,” I showed him my bottle, “see this label, it said, Made in
Manila, Philippines. When you see that in the bottle, it means, it’s an especial brew.
“Oh… I didn’t know that.” He said. Of course, he wouldn’t know, because Tabog mixed his beer with aged “lambanog” (palm wine) which can contain about 40% percent alcohol. Hugo’s kalesa was getting slow. Hugo whipped his horse. But the more he whipped, the more the horse run slow, till the animal stopped. The Auropac worked. But Hugo was not yet drunk. We gave him more of our special brewed beer… till he passed out.

Lifting and bringing Hugo to the mimosa field, put strain in our collective energy. While Hugo was asleep, we tied together both of his elbows at his back. Pepit untangle the horse to its wagon and harnessed it to Hugo’s hip. We waited. Tabog practiced using Hugo’s whip. He seemed to like the swishing sound the whip made against the wind.

When Hugo opened up his eyes, as he rose to his knees, bones on his shoulder seemed to burst out of his flesh. He writhed in pain as he moved his arms, and much to his consternation; he saw he was tied up to his horse. The anguish we saw on his face gratified us. Retribution, here we come!

“Have you seen gladiator movies?” Tabog asked, his voice that of a master talking to a slave, slashing the air with Hugo’s whip. “What’s that got to do hitching me to my horse?” Hugo said. I was standing beside the horse, which was a few feet away, holding its rein; we didn’t want the horse to do something stupid yet. From my vantage, I saw Pepit slapped Hugo’s face. I thought Hugo’s head pirouetted. I sensed Pepit doesn’t want Hugo to get intelligent. “You should reply with respect” Pepit commanded.

“In gladiator movies, horse is use to trot out gladiator’s dead body? Do you want your body be trotted out?” asked Tabog, as he whipped the air. “Watch your tongue,” reminded Pepit.

“Of course. No, Sir”. Hugo said. Pepit smiled. “You’ll follow whatever we’ve asked you to do. If not, I’ll whip your horse so hard, so it will run amuck dragging your body, till all your bones disentangle. Understood!” Tabog said.

“But why Sirs… What did I do to you?

“Oh…you don’t know. You don’t remember us, the three kids whom you force to sing “Bayang Magiliw”. Tabog said. “Fuck …!” exclaimed Hugo bowing his head.

“Now, get yourself naked.” Tabog instructed.

“I am tied up. How can I do that?” Hugo said. Pepit slapped Hugo again. “Told you. Speak with respect”.

“Okey. Pepit, released his elbows”. Tabog said. Pepit cut off the bind from behind of Hugo. As soon as Hugo’s left hand got freed, it went right away to his moustache, smoothing its arch end.

“You really love that “caterpillar” of yours …huh. You did that before getting naked… huh! Let’s see what we can do with that moustache… Take off your clothes. All of it.”

Hugo undressed himself. A hulk of a man, yet he got a tiny pecker. That was strange. The three of us looked at each other. We were wondering if his pecker were real tiny or just shrunk.

“Now, since you love you “caterpillar” so much, I want you to pluck ten strands of white hair, while you’re on your knees, and swearing your right hand up in the air. Sounds like you, before …huh, remember. Eye for an eye. Tooth for a tooth. And once we had your ten white hairs, you’ll recite to us “Panatang Makabayan” (Pledge of Allegiance) in the REVERSE order. And we will not whip your horse and we’ll just leave you here.” Tabog said.

That was a tall order for Hugo. How Hugo would handle this dilemma? At the outset, Tabog seemed to have an ingenious array of getting back at Hugo. Hugo looked up the sky as though asking for help from his God. His lips locked up bitterly. His Adam’s apple was like a mountain’s peak cruising up and down to his throat at incessant speed. He cried out loud … then passed out, but not with our beer this time. We waited.

While Hugo was unconscious, we debated the ordeal Hugo had to face. First of all, I said, Hugo has no white hair. “That’s the idea there, stupid”. Tabog said. “We would see dual pains from him; emotional pain parting with his beloved mustache, and physical pain for the plucking. As he can pluck no white hair, it would get his upper lip bald. Then, his pain multiplied, on the amount of bushy hair he has. “That’s fun, don’t you think. In insurance, that’s “double indemnity”.

“That’s right,” Pepit agreed. “So what’s the deal with this reciting of “Panatang Makabayan” in the reverse order? I asked. “That’s our penultimate revenge”, Pepit said, “We would let him cracked his brain to figure that out. He did that to us with “Bayang Magiliw”. “So, you mean all along I was not included in this part of the plan” I asked. “We know you. You’re scared chicken shit”. You would just derail our plan.” Pepit said.

“But, you guys didn’t put logic on this plan. See, how Hugo can get to that Panatang Makabayan part, when he couldn’t get ten white hairs from his mustache. That’s stupid. It shows you’re not thinking. And Hugo himself would know once he woke up… He was just shocked for now. Besides, “Panatang Makabayan” is not the same as Bayang Magiliw. Every body knows Bayang Magiliw, but Panatang Makabayan, it is not as dug deep in everybody’s conciousness; probably, he wouldn’t even know a word of it. What do you guys want – to hold him in perpetual captivity… to wait for eternity for his compliance?

So what should we do to bring closure?” asked Pepit, sensing the logic of my argument.

As soon as Hugo regained consciousness, just in time, his horse jumped up its forelegs in the air scratching. I was thrown off. The rein slipped out of my hand, and when the horse’s forelegs dropped to the ground, the animal run wild trotting out Hugo.

The closure Pepit asked, he got it by accident. The “Auropac” probably, wore off its affectivity.

One day The Philippine Constabulary had been tipped off, that gangs of NPA’s (New Peoples Army) were spotted roaming around in our barrio. The PC raided our barrio, and the three of us, including all the males in the barrio were herded in one place. One man on the raiding team looked familiar. He was tall. He has moustache caressed by his left hand and he got a prominent mangled arms. He was Hugo. He saw us…


Reversed National Anthem March 11, 2007

Filed under: Humor — Jess Fernando @ 1:14 pm

Two types of discipline Ferdinand Marcos wanted to impose on Filipinos during his Martial Law: Harsh and subtle.

Harsh was, when Lim Seng, a big time drug pusher was executed by firing squad.

Subtle was, when Ariel Ureta, a T.V. host during the 70’s, pedaled his bike around Camp Crame for twelve hours for curfew violation – for which, Ariel Ureta turned up his mouth as producer of suds.

The Martial Law’s media machine drummed up the slogan “Sa ikauunlad ng Bayan, Disiplina ang Kailangan” (For the country’s progress, discipline is needed) to hammer up to people’s consciousness the consequence of non adherence to discipline.  But for the three of us, Tabog, Pepit and myself, of course, that slogan never get nailed in our brain. Therefore, when we were caught violating the curfew, like Ariel Ureta, we were meant to be punished – but, much worse!

The three of us were party junkies during Martial Law. One time, Tabog nosed for us this Tenejero place for our next dance gig. Although the place was hostile, spooky and fraught with danger, this gig would calm us a bit, as we had been jittery without fix for forty-eight hours. Tenejero is one barrio in the town of Candaba, Pampangga, west of Baliwag, Bulacan, where we lived.  The road to it was a long stretch of desolate, un-asphalted gravel track. Apart from being far from Baliwag – six hours walk – the road was a frequent scene of clash encounters between the Philippine Constabulary and the insurgents. Kumander Freddie, a leader of HUKBALAHAP, an insurgent organization, was ambushed and gunned down on that road by the military. Of course, we cared less of the danger of the dance venue. But, hey, we wanted to get “high”, and so, we went. We arrived at Tenejero ten in the evening. The party was progressing. We saw that the coconut palm-gated converted basketball court of the dance venue were guarded  by disinterested looking guys who seemed to be unmindful of  people’s comings and goings, Nonchalantly, we sneaked in.We didn’t waste time. Chicks were sitting around the periphery of the basketball court, and one by one, we started dancing with them, nonstop.On sweet tunes, Tabog and Pepit did their usual modus operandi of impressing chicks. Tabog would sweet-talked his partner – of his being a son of prominent family, that he study at the University of the Philippines taking up Marine Engineering, that he’s a member of the KM (Kabataang Makabayan), a patriotic youth organization. He projected himself as intellectual with good breeding. How can one sound so pompous yet humble? It was his voice, perhaps. It has a cool and kind quality of a midnight disc jockey, like everything that came out from his mouth are consumables. I had seen his effects on chicks – their eyes sparkled.

Pepit, on the other hand, was the opposite. He has this voice of booming baritone quality. Chicks would snap at attention, and then when he mixed his repartee with self deprecating humor, chicks get at ease shedding inhibitions. For chicks, Pepit was a sports buff who used to mingle with Amang Parica, famous billiard player in Manila. He was a student of Lyceum University, and a member of SDK (Samahan ng Demokratikong Kabataan) Organization of Democratic Youth. As for myself, I was the boring guy who just dances, but I had this ability to recognize disaster before it comes. Like when I saw bunch of people coming in the middle of the dance floor carrying ribbon plates. I knew those ribbons were for us, because at the time, we were dancing with beauty contestants. Once those ribbons were pinned, we can be obliged to put money on the plate, payment for the privilege of dancing with the barrio’s beautiful ladies. As Tabog and Pepit were so consumed performing their antics, even before those “plate” people come close, I said to my partner that I had to walk her to her sit, as I needed to pee.

Tabog and Pepit were so mad. Knowing I was able to avoid the rip off. They blamed me for not giving them warning. That dampened our spirit to stay. So we decided to start our trek home.At San Roque Labak, the border barrio between Candaba and Baliwag, we were stopped at the military check point.  “Where are you guys going”? Asked by a man, holding what seemed to be a Garand Rifle. A soft streak of light from the moon perched on the barrel of the gun. The gun traveled toward my chest. The metal felt colder than the night. My hair stood on end. Why the military man chose my chest to poke his gun with, was beyond me “We’ve been to a party, boss, and we’re heading home”, Tabog volunteered. The tall man, switched the barrel to Tabog’s chest. I felt relieved.“Do you know what time it is?”

”I think its 1:33 in the morning Sir, and we still have a lot of walking to do before we reach home, Sir.” Pepit said. Now, the barrel went to Pepit’s chest. “Are you students”? The nose of the rifle runs up and down on Pepit’s chest.“Yes Sir. I am from U.P. Sir. I am a KM member Sir.” Tabog said. “And I am an SDK member, Sir.Pepit followed.” What the hell these two are thinking?  I said to myself… Where do they think they are? Still at the party, talking to chicks?

“Student Activists…Huh. So you’re NPA’s? The military man said. I surmised that check points was to catch or discourage movement of the NPA (New People’s Army) the biggest insurgents’ movement at the time. And lots of student activists from the different universities in Manila went underground, and became NPAs during Martial Law.  I remembered Marcos picked up thousands student activists immediately after he imposed Martial Law, and gave them a hair cut. I was hoping that this tall man would just give us a hair cut.

“It’s curfew time boys,” The man whose rifle was on Pepit’s chest, said, “You know what this means” With that, Pepit run. His feet, as if were bicycling the air. We heard a gun fire. It tore off the silence of the night, “Come back here, you stupid” The man in uniform, yelled.  Pepit came back. Now, he was sobbing.

“Alright. Now, the three of you, get yourself naked,” commanded the man. This scene was quite familiar. I knew the three of us had been on this situation before.  We were beside the road, and the ground we’re standing on was a mimosa field. We started removing our clothes leaving just our briefs. That, too. The tall man said. And we were on our birthday suits. We saw our maleness shrunk, because of the cold or because of fear…I didn’t know.

“For curfew violation, here’s what you will get,” said, the man, “you’re going to kneel and spread you arms sideways, then sing “Bayang Magiliw”. Thorns of the mimosa plant were pricking our knees, we’re freezing to death, and we felt our arms hanging numb in our shoulders.

Oh that was easy, I consoled myself. We know the national anthem since Grade One. In unison, we belted the national anthem. The dissonance felt breaking our ears, but should we care? I heard crisp thud of the barrel landing on Tabog’s face, then on Pepits, then on mine.  The sting the barrel left on our faces made us really cry out loud. I was thinking, had it not been for Tabog and Pepit antics about the stupid KM and SDK, thing, perhaps we would get lesser penalties.

“That was not the way I like it”. The uniformed man yelled, “I wanted you to sing it in the reverse order. Start it at the end ‘ang mamatay ng dahil sa iyo’ then up, but with the apt original tune for each line.  And you can’t go, till you get it, with the right tune”  “Just kill us,” Tabog said bravely, “That was impossible to do” It was too late for Tabog to be a hero…

“That’s your problem, because you’re going to stay here till the dawn breaks and people would see you naked with your pecker hiding behind your crotch.Oh… that would be so embarrassing.  We have to find ways by which we can sing the reversed national anthem. I devised a way… I recited the lyrics in the natural order, and I asked Pepit to isolate the last line going up to the top line, and Tabog will sing the isolated part with the right tune.We did that till the sun rise up. We’re so engrossed with the process that we didn’t realize that our tormentor was already long gone. But that’s the face of the man I would never forget in my whole life. And we’re going to get back at him.


IF IT ISN’T BROKE, DON’T FIX January 7, 2007

Filed under: Humor — Jess Fernando @ 12:24 pm

Mrs. Manalastas, our Grade Four teacher had her maternity leave, and so we had Miss Grace as our new substitute teacher.

Miss Grace was from Malolos, Bulacan’s capital and we wondered why an urban teacher like her would try her luck teaching in rural school like ours, the Central Baliwag Elementary School.

Miss Grace always smelled good, sweet, amiable and cute. Every boy in class had a huge crush on her, especially Pepit. These boys would do anything to suck up to her or get noticed. I had crush on her, too, but not big enough that I would volunteered erasing the blackboard, cleaning the eraser or helping out in the class. 

One day, Miss Grace instituted change in our class’ morning ritual.  

Under Mrs. Manalastas we had this “The first number of our program” thing, to start the class – an impromptu program where anyone could be asked to sing, recite a poem or dance. I hated this ritual because towards the end, there will be inspection of clean fingernail and hankie, and if you don’t have both, Mrs Manalastas would slap your hand with a stick. Tabog and I always had a good slapping every morning. Tabog could never let go of his black thingy under his fingernail, and I never could bring a clean hankie, because, hankie was not a priority for a poor family – food was.  

Miss Grace changed all these with her “Show and Tell”. She told us, every one would have a chance to bring to class, thing that we think is interesting. We have to show it in class, and tell what makes it interesting. This posed a problem among the barrio kids. First of all, we don’t have or own a thing. Second of all, even if we have a thing, it couldn’t be classified as interesting. We didn’t hear Miss Grace mentioned punishment for non compliance. At least, that was a saving grace for me and Tabog.

Gualberto Gomez, one of the rich town kids, volunteered to do the first “show and tell”. He brought to class his stamp collection. Every piece of his stamp, he impressed us of what he learned about it. I saw Pepit yawning while Gualberto had his show. “That’s an interesting collection you have, Gualberto”, Miss Grace, said, “Now, would you like to clean the eraser for me.”

During our recess, I and Pepit saw Gualberto cleaning the eraser. Pepit was so mad and jealous; he had his fists bulging in his short pocket. “How can we top up Gualberto’s show? He asked.

The next “show and tell” performer was another town kid. He brought to class his collection of miniature cars in match boxes. Followed up with another one with a collection of text cards, then another one with collection of marbles, tops etc… Some rich girls in town brought dolls, legos, battery operated toys, etc…

Then, came, the barrio kids’ turn.  No volunteer, so, Miss Grace picked Tabog.

Tabog brought to class this rusted can of Darigold Evaporated Milk. He tilted the can toward the class so we can see his collection. “This is my collection”, he said, beaming with confidence, “cigarettes butt”. Tabog pick up on one butt out of the can. “This butt is a filter, remains of a cigarette called Kingscup. He put back the butt and gets another one. “This one is from Oldgold. Collecting cigarettes butt is a good hobby. I can proudly recommend it to anyone” Tabog said.

 All the while Tabog’s performance, Miss Grace’s face grimaced with disgust. But the barrio kids reacted jubilantly. We stood up in ovation and gave Tabog a welcomed applause. Now, it seemed everyone among the barrio kid had the courage to participate in “show and tell”.

Next to perform was Sianong Paksiw. He brought in boxes of dried dung of different farm animals; cow, carabao, goat, horse, dog, cat.  He even labeled them each.

Eulalia brought to class her friend, Suzie, a live hen. She sat her on Miss Grace’s desk in front. And while Eulalia was citing her friend’s attributes, Suzie, worried perhaps about her chicks left at the farm, cackled and pooed. This time, I saw Miss Grace’s amiable face turned sour. 

Every barrio kid performances seemed to be an added strain on Miss Grace’s face. She was young, yet, I believe, she was having high blood pressure.

My turn has come. I brought to class crushed frogs and toads. I spent one whole Saturday in a highway, collecting those frogs that run over repeatedly by vehicles. Miss Grace, probably in peak of irritableness, cried with my performance.

Pepit’s turn came. He made good preparation for it, as he wanted really to impress Miss Grace. He even asked for my help.  One day, before Pepit’s show, I accompanied him to Mang Oning’s animals’ barn and dug up some earthworms. We picked the earthworms whose sizes were that of a thumb and longer.

Pepit presented the earthworms to class as the Robinson’s family. He picked the biggest and longest, and introduced it to the class as Mr. Robinson. Then Pepit introduced the wife.  Miss Grace seemed could not anymore get to Pepit introduce the Robinson’s children – she was already puking hard.

If it isn’t broke, don’t fix. Miss Grace had probably got the gist of this adage.  Next Monday morning we had a new substitute teacher.


To Each According To One’s Deed November 26, 2006

Filed under: Humor — Jess Fernando @ 12:12 pm

The three of us, Tabog, Pepit and myself while watching the shoot of Maruja at Bustos Bulacan, sometimes in the late 60’s, made a promise – it would be imperative for us to watch the movie once released in theatre.  

Imperative could be imperiled, though, as the Henson Theatre which would likely show the Maruja movie hired a new security guard. His name was Teryo Taramindo, a menacing figure, a cross between cro-magnon and Kingkong whose biceps resembled that of a tamarind fruit. For theater sneakers, like us, Teryo was a total terror. He could pulp us to smithereens, once he caught us sneaking.     

The lure of Maruja defied fear, however. We followed the novel in “komiks.” We watched the shoot. The movie starred Romeo Vasques and Susan Roces, both superstar of the period. And we wanted to know how truthful the movie is to the novel it was based from. 

So, the movie came at Henson Theater at Baliwag, Bulacan. One Friday night, we did the sneaking scheme devised by Tabog that afforded us to see weekly movies free. 

The scheme seemed faultless. One of us, say Pepit, would deposit, five pesos to the ticket lady at the door – looking for someone inside, as one’s excuse. Movie tickets then are sold 80 cents apiece, so for five pesos as deposit, the ticket lady would think, Pepit wouldn’t stay inside. Once Pepit was inside, he would lift the latch of the exit door at the side street, where Tabog and myself were waiting for it to be deserted. Once we thought no one would see us, we would push the door with just enough space for us to sneak in. As we made it now inside, Pepit would then get his deposit back, get to the side street, and it was now our turn to lift the latch for him. 

This scheme worked for the previous lazy guard. Not with Teryo, though, as we lately realized. Teryo had different routine. He made round every hour and on one of his runs, he saw streak of light pouring in from the outside, that we made. We’re toast! Caught in the act! 

Teryo brought us at the roof top room of the theater. He made us lined up like cadets. Teryo looked like the towering and menacing brute.  

“So you’re the “lusut gang” huh! Since when, you’re doing this?” Teryo thundered.  I peed on my pants. 

“Months now, Sir”, I said. Pepit stepped on my toes, as if saying, stupid, why should you be honest. It wouldn’t help. 

“Sir, we’re sorry, we just tried it now” Tabog interjected. 

“Yes Sir,” Pepit seconded. 

“Get your pants and underwear down”, Teryo commanded. What? Would he like proofs of my pee?  

Right away, I pulled down my pants and underwear. Pepit stepped again on my toe. “tang na ka”. Pepit mumbled. Tabog and Pepit reluctantly followed.  

“So, who’se the mastermind here? Teryo asked. 

“It’s him,” I fingered Tabog. If he could just crush me, he would do it, from the way he looked at me. Teryo confronted Pepit, tapping his finger on his chest. “And you, what are you? 

“He’s the second in command, the Lieutenant, Sir…” I volunteered. “Tarantado”, Pepit said to himself. 

Teryo turned to me. “And you, what are you?” 

“Sir, I am just the fingerling”, I said, meekly. 

“Stand still here, and don’t move till I come back” Teryo instructed and left locking the room behind him. 

Pepit and Tabog rattled me of their sharp tongues for my suck up stunts when we were alone.   

After 30 minutes, Teryo came back with paper bag on his hand. He took out something, a yellow cashew fruit! He gave it to me. I was about to bite it, when he said, “Stupid, who told you to eat that? Since you’re just a fingerling, you’re going to ripe it in your ass.” 

“But Sir, it’s already ripe” 

“Rot it in your ass then.” Teryo barked.  

I cried while sitting on top of the cashew on the dirty floor. Shit, I felt million germs nibbling my bare butt. 

Then I saw Teryo took another item in the bag. Green Papaya, a good size for Tinola. He gave it to Pepit. “Rot this also on your ass, Lietenant,” Teryo said.  I stopped crying seeing this. I felt lucky. To ripe that Papaya, it would take Pepit longer, how much more to rot it. 

Pepit sat on his Papaya, his head down crying, while clasping his hand as if on prayer. Meanwhile, Tabog had this all-knowing smile at our fate.  

Then I heard Teryo called Julio. 

I consoled Pepit. “You know, at least you’re better off, much much more fortunate than our boss.” 

 “Why?” Pepit asked.  

Look, I said. The one that Teryo called Julio appeared in the room carrying on his shoulder a pig size JACKFRUIT!  


The Bofu bofu Scare November 20, 2006

Filed under: Humor,Uncategorized — Jess Fernando @ 4:07 am

I net googled “Palakang Araneta,” in search of a frog’s description that would match my remembrance of it, and its exact name. The Filipino sites didn’t yield enough info, except that the frog’s appendage “araneta” came from “Araneta Coliseum” because of the frog’s hugeness. However, at Wikipedia dictionary I found the frog’s description that matches my remembrance of it. I just don’t know if that is the real name of the specie found in the
Philippines. Wikipedia called it Bofu bufo, or Common Toad. The Bofu bofu frog can grow up to seven inches – truly big, and its skin full of pockmark warts crinkled throughout. Its color ranges from green to brown. It’s like an ancient fish which had on its scales the attributes of an ocean rock. 

My skin morphed into that of a Bofu bofu one day, reminiscent of my childhood’s mischief, upon which my proclivity to naivety had taken its toll.   

Among the two of my close barrio mates, I wasn’t the street-smart, but the most naïve. And my naivety always court disaster, courtesy of Tabog and Pepit.  

Tabog and Pepit asked me one time to join them stealing guava fruits from Mang Asyong’s farm.  While we were on top of the tree picking, we heard swishing of pellets coming from a slingshot. As I enjoyed feeling my belly bulged with fruits – I used my tucked shirt as basket – I continued filling it up, not minding that my two rascal friends already climbed down and run away. Meanwhile, not far from the branch I was perching in, one pellet of the slingshot hit a beehive.  When I looked down, I saw Mang Asyong waiting under the tree. I was given a choice. Who would I like to kill me first? I chose the bees. The bees feasted on my body not realizing Mang Asyong was a very patient man waiting under the tree.   

I climbed down when my skin couldn’t handle the bee’s bites anymore. Seeing what happened with my skin, Mang Asyong smirked. He confiscated all the fruits tucked in my belly and let me go. I felt my face itchy, thick and puffy. My eyes half closed. My torso bloated.  

Out of nowhere, as I walked away from the farm, Tabog and Pepit jumped out in front of me.  

“Oh… my God! You looked like Palakang Araneta”, Tabog said. Then Tabog and Pepit blamed me for not coming down early.  

“We warned you”, Tabog said, “but you didn’t listen.” 

“I don’t like to be seen like this by my mother? I feared my mother’s wrath”.    

“I know.” Pepit said, “We can get that skin healed”.   “How…?” I asked. “Soak yourself on where the water-buffalo take their bath”  

“What?!” I exclaimed, “Shouldn’t it gets worse?”  

“No. Because carabao’s dung residue is good for bees’ bites,” Pepit said.  

“Yeah.” Tabog seconded. So I soaked myself to that pool of water where carabaos have their nap. Several minutes after I came out from the pool, I felt myself more expanded, and exceedingly bloated. Tabog and Pepit were aghast.   “Okey,” Tabog said, “Pepit’s idea was bad. Try mine. You should wash yourself in water-lily’s pond” 

Sucked in now so deeply and desperate to heal my skin, I heeded to Tabog’s advice.  I washed myself in water lily’s pond, and felt terribly itchy when I came out. I seek refuge on bark of the acacia tree nearby and scratch my back against it. My back got reddish like its burning; blood seemed oozing out. Tabog and Pepit panicked.  

“Let’s powder your skin with “apog” (white powdery substance use as disinfectant) Pepit was gone for a while and when he came back, he powdered my whole body with “apog”.  

When my mother saw me, bleached white in “Palakang araneta” skin, and puffy body, she spouted off expletives, and asked me who did this horrible thing. I said, Tabog and Pepit.

“Have you got any other kids to go with? You stuck yourself with those rascals! Next time you go with them, I’ll make you eat that ugly “palakang araneta”. She threatened.  

“I heard that frog is poisonous,” I said. 

“That’s right”, my mother said with conviction.