You never did tell me,
How you did those chicken legs justice
On bright or gloomy Sundays where I
would sit on the stairs watching your
back, as you made do with a kitchen
I forgot to tell you many things,
Things I buried deep, deep
inside my chest. For I thought
they were meaningless.
But your funeral was
it had to
Can you look at me now,
All the sorrow I was able to bear,
in the name of responsibility,
in the name of sanity,
Marius Carlos, Jr. is a storyteller, essayist, and journalist. He is the current editor-in-chief of Revolt Magazine and Creative Director at Vox Populi PH. He is also the English editor of Rebo Press Book Publishing. He is an independent researcher focused on transnational capitalism, neocolonialism, empire, and pop culture. Contact him for writing projects. Visit Marius’ profile on Minds, MeWe, and Twitter. Email Marius: email@example.com. …
Death will always be a death, no matter how you spin it. The weight of the tragedy doubles, triples, and increases interminably, when you find out that possibly eleven men caused it, and the death was the result of rape. Death becomes more than just death, but cold-blooded murder, one committed against the most helpless of victims. It goes without saying that we need to sit down and talk about certain things, things that were probably not spoken of at home, between mothers and sons, or fathers and sons. These things are locked down deeper than illicit Marcosian wealth.
It’s about the nature of power, respect, and being humane. …
We clamber from mounds of ashes,
Covered in soot
Raising our hands in immaculate
To an absent God. How dare
We live, when all we have ever known,
Is to die.
We bid farewell to the kind of year that we thought this generation would never experience. Epidemics and pandemics are the stuff of the history books, or so we believed. I lived through several outbreaks myself, as a child, in my province — tuberculosis, malaria, cholera, dengue… Each time, the country was thrown into turmoil, because we were never prepared. No matter how much machismo we inject into the narrative of being a Filipino, in the end, we only grasp at the invisible straws of resiliency and pray to our gods for help. …
Jimmy almost fell asleep on the wheel. A fellow eighteen-wheeler honked at him hard four times. On the fourth honk, his eyelids flew open and his first instinct was to grip the steering wheel of his semi-trailer and bank to the right, toward the soft, grassy shoulder of the North Luzon Expressway. He was delivering cargo from the Port of Manila to Isabela on Christmas Eve. It wasn’t supposed to be like this, he thought, as he breathed out the exhaustion and switched to third gear. He had been pumping the gas at fourth gear in the few short minutes he had fallen unconscious. It’s all muscle memory, he reminded himself. Muscle memory is both a blessing and a curse. …
He crossed the Aegean Sea on a powerful trireme with fifty slaves rowing nonstop on both sides of the vessel. The oracle warned him of the absolute certainty of his failure. He sailed anyway.
“There is no cure. Not all the gold in the world can put a stop to it.”
He did not take the oracle’s words to heart. Instead, he spoke to other mystics and seers. He poured libations in honor of a handful of gods in the hopes of arriving at a solution. None came. …
Judy smiled when she counted more than a hundred pesos in her purse. It was always a good omen when she had at least a hundred before lunchtime. She had a few hours left before the afternoon period in school, and things were looking up. ZM North Mall was always a good place to sell her ‘special, homemade snacks.’ She just had to know who to approach, and when. She had been spending time near local malls lately, waiting for patrons who might be interested in buying empanadas and rice cakes. The sweet smell of the food wafted from her green, plastic basket, enticing customers. The letter helped, too. When she started selling food to help with household expenses, she was initially embarrassed by the letter. …
I tend to embrace too tightly, holding people’s fragile hearts in my hands for I fear if I let go, the crumbling parts will fall away completely.
I will be there when the last curtains are drawn when my brother blows out the candle of life.
I will walk with those left behind: into their cars, houses, and hotel rooms until the darkness of loss begins to lift and they are ready to continue under the bright glare of life.
I tug at your heart as I sew it, for it is broken and bleeding. I am the constant seamstress of torn souls, too. For some, my work lasts a lifetime. …
The assembly took place at exactly 12 midnight, behind a lone McDonald’s along Mindanao Avenue. Twenty of the city’s toughest killers, thieves and criminals gathered for this historic night to determine the leadership for the coming year. At 67, the gang leader, Arnulfo Dimagiba had held the same position three years straight.
The others are still convinced that he is the best man for the job. Several counts of assault, armed robbery, illegal narcotics — you name it, Arnulfo has done it in his lifetime. His face and body bore the brunt of endless abuse and intoxication. …
Walang katapusan ang pangangailangan ng Pilipinas sa mga bayani.
Sa isang banda, hindi ko na rin siguro masisisi ang mga karaniwang mamamayan kung bakit sa halip na harapin ang mga problemang panlipunan ay naghahanap na lamang sila, sa iba’t ibang panahon, ng mga taong magliligtas sa lahat. Parang superhero ba. Madaling mahumaling ang mga Pilipino sa ideyang may superyor na nilalang na may dalang buslo ng mga sagot as solusyon sa kasalukuyan at hinaharap. Sabay-sabay pa ngang titingala sa entablado ang mga Pilipino bago mag-eleksiyon at masisilaw sa mga personalidad na sa telebisyon at Facebook lamang nila nakikita dati. Na para bang dahil nagkatawang-tao na ang mga tulisan ay nalabhan na rin ang masasamang record ng mga ito laban sa sambayanan. Makikipag-kamay sila at maaamoy ang hand sanitizer at mamahaling pabango sa mga kandidato. Kay-inam ng buhay. Dumating na ang mga tagapagligtas sa wakas. Hindi ba’t nangako naman sila na uunahin nila ang pagseserbisyo sa atin kapag sila’y naluklok? …
“Cold Christmases” was first published in January 2009 by Playboy Philippines. This is a revised and updated version.
It was nearly 2 AM when Gindo left his workstation at a call center in Makati. He had been answering a nearly endless stream of calls from foreign nationals, receiving abuse, the occasional praise and questioning voices that begged to ask, ‘where are you from?’ and ‘why are you answering my call, anyway?’
An irate Australian national once screamed at him: “I wanted to talk to someone from fucking Boston!” The caller slammed the receiver so hard that it hurt Gindo’s ear.
But it was all over now. Gindo breathed a sigh of relief that he had survived another day. Walking quietly toward the exit, Gindo’s hands were searching his pockets for loose change. He wanted to buy a coffee before waiting for a cab. From experience, Gindo knew that at this hour, some taxi drivers transformed into muggers. He was wary of a potential mugging but had no choice. …