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Archive for May, 2013

ANTO


(Short-Story — English translation  of the original Filipino version of SI ANTO, anthologized in “Stories from Southeast Asia” edited by Muhammad Haji Salleh and published by Yayasan Penataran Ilmu, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 1997.                                                         

ANTO

by Rogelio L. Ordonez

I CHANCED upon Anto during a time of wandering.  That was a time when my soul was sort of feverish, delirious and groping for the stars, while poverty was some kind of a quagmire forever trapping me.  The city edifices then looked like blazing monstrous skeletons; the glaring neon lights seemed to pierce my soul; the sidewalks were gaping catacombs; the alleys, coffins; the lamp posts, candles standing stiff; and at every corner and passageway, I was encountering processions of robots and plastics.  It was a time when I felt nauseated with the debauchery and treachery of city life, and I could no longer recognise a friend from a foe. Each night, alone in my filthy and narrow rented room within a prostrate ramshackle dwelling beside the ever stinking estero, I was fervently longing to commune with the rustic scenery, a place where coconut trees seemed to beckon to me, where the grass seemed to dance with the murmuring breeze, and where the waves seemed to sing me a familiar lullaby.   

Lugging my typewriter and a suitcase of old clothes, I decided to go, one cold and damp dawn, to a far-flung place in Batangas, away from the howl of exhaust pipes and the cursing of money and what is called modern civilization.  I sought shelter with a family relative, in an ordinary nipa hut near the seashore surrounded by coconut farmland. And I felt how in such a pristine place, among common, honest folks, even poverty was exhilarating.    

It was there where I met Anto, on a day at twilight when I and my cousin Mando were drinking tuba on a banca lying idly on the shore.  I was getting a bit tipsy when I noticed a burly young man with sunburnt skin docking near us.  He beached his banca effortlessly out of the water and inside the fishing net which he carried on his shoulder, the fishes flipped and wriggled and I could see he caught a lot enough to overflow if poured into a bucket.    

“Ala’y looks like you made a good haul, Anto?” was my cousin Mando’s greeting.    

“Ala’y I made just enough,”  Anto answered softly while at the same time laying down the fishnet beside us.  He scooped out some fishes and put them inside the banca on which we were sitting.  

“These would go fine with your drinks.”  The fishes were still bobbing up and down.    

“Come, have a drink,” was my invitation and I filled the glass I was holding with tuba and was about to offer it to him.    

Anto stared at me.  I noticed those big eyes which always seemed in a quandary, probing, and as if fitted with his slightly flat nose and wide tight lips.   

“Meet my cousin, Anto,” Mando said.  “This is Manong Roger… he’s vacationing here.”   

It was only then Anto withdrew his stare.  

“No thanks, I don’t drink, Manong,” he said almost whisperingly.    

“Cigarettes?” I offered him anew.    

“Ala’y neither do I smoke, Manong.”    

“Ala’y he’s got no vices except fishing and planting,” Mando said.    

I laughed.  Anto did not even smile.  He gathered the fishing net and lugged it on his shoulder, glanced at us, then continued walking. I could not avoid following him with my eyes until the thick clumps of coconut trees in the near distance hid him from view.    

“Anto lives just behind the coconut grove.” Mando seemed to have guessed what was on my mind.  “Ala’y he’s living all by himself now, Manong.”    

I drank tuba and my eyes played with the wide expanse of the sea which, by now, was completely calm like a chest which has ceased to heave.  I was even startled to feel one of the fishes left by Anto inside the banca stirring near my feet.    

“Better, Manong,” Mando said, “I’ll bring these home, have them broiled for our pulutan.”   

I did not utter a word.  I could not explain why, a while back, that brief instance, a kind of mystery seemed to lurk behind those big eyes and in the way the wide lips which appeared to want to say and shout out something remained pursed.    

I did not notice Mando left me.  Meanwhile, the rays of the sun had become mere red lashes in the sky when he returned .  The broiled fishes were wrapped in banana leaves, still very hot, aromatic, and how in the province, the fishes were indeed fresh, and so were the people, unlike in the city where everything, including philosophies and dreams were rotten.    

The fishes tasted sweetish and I should have said thanks to Anto, I thought.    

“Did you say he now lives alone?”  I asked Mando rather absent mindedly.    

“Whom did you mean, Manong?” Mando stopped his tuba drinking.  

“Anto.”    

“Oh, yes, Manong.”    

“What about his parents?”    

Mando suddenly took a gulp of tuba. “Oh, Manong, a tragedy befell their family.  Ay, putang-ina, it was really tragic, Manong!”   

“What’s so tragic?”  I lighted a cigarette.    

“Do you see that coconut grove over there?”  and Mando pointed to the nearby coconut grove through which Anto passed a while ago.  “They used to own them, Manong.  Ala’y their house was rather grand then… over there,” and Mando again pointed to the coconut grove which by now was blanketed by a thin darkness.   

“So where’s the house now?”   

Mando spat out some phlegm.

“Ala’y it was demolished by the new owner. You know, Manong,” Mando continued, “since birth I had known that Anto’s father was the rightful owner of that coconut farm. Then suddenly, one day, Anto must have been ten years old then, a fat man with a pig’s face from the town drove in a shiny, black car and angrily told Anto’s family to vacate the land. He was claiming ownership of the land. Ala’y Anto’s father, Ka Basilio, was fuming mad. He got his bolo. Ay, putang-ina, Manong…had the fat pig from town not run and got into his car right away, Ka Basilio could have hacked him to pieces with his bolo.”

“Then?” I emptied my glass of tuba.

“Oh, what else?” continued Mando. “Ala’y they brought the case to the court. Ka Basilio lost the case because they said he had no title. A few days later, the fat pig returned tugging some policemen along. Ay, Manong, Ka Benita, Anto’s mother, suffered a heart attack, died right then and there. Ala’y after Ka Benita’s funeral,” Mando took another swig of tuba, “the man’s henchmen came one day, again accompanied by policemen, and intended to tear down their house. Ala’y Ka Basilio seethed with rage and drew his bolo. Ay, Manong… he went after them. He killed two of the bastards before the policemen could shoot him down. The one, Manong… you should have seen him,” continued Mando with a tone of regret. “Ay, Manong, this got slashed open!” pointing to his stomach. “He kept hacking and shoving in the bolo…ala’y the intestines spilled out like long earthworms, bloody and wriggling, and the other one, ala’y the head almost severed from the body. The policemen could not tear Anto from embracing Ka Basilio’s dead body, and his unmarried sister Juliana fainted. Ay, Manong, ala’y that Juliana is a lovely girl. In fact, I had set my eyes on her,” Mando sighed.

I drank in quick succession. The tuba seemed to have gone insipid.

“And Juliana?”

“Ay, putang-ina… how tragic, Manong,” Mando seemed on the verge of tears. “So she worked as maidservant in town in a rich man’s house near the municipal building. Ala’y one day she was found hanging in the bedroom, hanged herself they said. Ay, putang-ina, Manong. I don’t know, it was said that the rich man’s son raped her. It was fortunate that Anto found Ka Masyong to take care of him… the old man to whom he goes home now. Ay, Manong, I’m really moved by what happened to that family. Ay, putang-ina, is that God’s will, Manong?”

For a long while, I was staring out into the void. The fishes which Anto left with us no longer tasted sweetish. I found it hard to swallow anymore.

That night, Anto’s big eyes stayed in my pupils and despite a headache, I grabbed my typewriter and under the gas lamp’s flickering sad light, I was able to compose two lines.

“You are the eyes of my conscience.
“You are the mouth of my dreams.”

FROM then on, I always waited for Anto’s banca to dock on the shore, and everytime he would find Mando and I drinking on that idly lying boat, it became like a ritual for him to give us some fishes and for my part to thank him. From time to time, I kidded him that I was going home to their place to get the most of his kindness. Sometimes, I even teased him that he might not get a wife if he would spend all his life fishing and planting because, according to Mando, Anto had not even gone wooing a girl, nor talked to any lady in that place. In spite of those jokes, Anto never even once laughed nor smiled.

One afternoon, while Mando was in town selling vegetables and coconuts, I was biding time drinking alone on the shore. Anto docked early as the sea was rough, as if a storm was threatening to blow. His eyes wandered around when he noticed me but did not hesitate to approach to offer me fish.

“Don’t bother, Anto, thanks,” I refused. “Nobody will broil them. Mando went to town.”

Anto did not speak. He threw the fishes back into the net. The fishes wriggled and flipped as soon as they hit the net’s bottom, as if overjoyed that I would not be having them for pulutan. Anto left silently and I thought perhaps he felt slighted by my refusal.

The sky was growing dark as nimbostratus collected. My mind was being gradually numbed by tuba when I was roused from behind by that soft and cold voice which seemed to blend with the blowing wind and could not be defeated by the sounds of the rushing waves.

“Here, Manong, for your pulutan,” Anto was beside me now.

“This is too much,” I said. “You took pains to broil them for me.”

Anto merely stared at me and sat on the edge of the banca, glanced at the sea and raised his head towards the sky.

“Ala’y it’s going to rain, Manong. This rain will be heavy, Manong,” he said as if absent mindedly.

I took in a pinch of fish. I felt the heat on my fingers and tongue.

“You broil fish deliciously, Anto.”

He looked straight at me as if mirroring in my eyes the truth about my statement, and I noticed a tinge of satisfaction in those big eyes. It seemed like this was the only time he heard words of praise, of recognition for what he has done.

“Ala’y I’m so sorry, Manong. I caught only a few today,” was Anto’s seemingly shy but earnest remark.

“But in fact… I should consider this my luck,” I quipped. “Do you know, Anto, that in Manila I had to content myself always with canned or dried fish or stale milkfish every once in a while. We had nothing but a whistle for our pulutan, of if there was a spare cash, we broiled dried squid which tasted like a shoe hide.”

Anto seemed incredulous of what he heard, especially from one like me whom he knew came from the reputedly rich city. I was about to pick a cigarette from the pack but it was empty and he noticed it.

“Don’t bother, Anto. When Mando comes home from town, he would surely bring home some cigarettes.”

“But he’ll be late, Manong, particularly if he gets caught in the rain. Ala’y you would have no more cigarettes.”

“In fact I could last for days without smoking,” I explained I know that the store was far away, some half kilometer from Mando’s house perhaps and, one thing more, I had no money in my pocket.

Anto did not insist any further. Again, he looked out to the wide expanse of the sea which has now become violent, exploding at the galloping of giant waves. The dark clouds had grown thicker and thicker, threatening to fall anytime. In fact, it was already drizzling here and there, but I have not consumed half the gallon of tuba which Mando left a while ago before he went to town yet there was only one more fish left on the banana leaves.

“Ala’y it will be better, Manong, for you to drink at home. You’ll surely get wet here,” Anto suggested.

“It’s all right. I like to bathe in the rain. The problem is you don’t even want to have a sip. It gives you a good feeling to drink, Anto, especially when you ask yourself who you are, what you are, and for what purpose you are.” I was being carried away by my thought perhaps because of the influence of tuba.

Anto stared at me, as if trying to fathom what I meant. Suddenly there was a downpour, the raindrops were compact and large like arrows shot from space. I thought that Anto was going to leave me but he did not budge from his seat; eyeing me while I poured tuba into my glass.

“Take a sip so you don’t feel cold,” I told him.

“Ala’y I really don’t drink, Manong.”

The tuba has almost taken complete control of my senses and I did not even feel cold despite the continuous onslaught of heavy rains. I suddenly became conscious, amidst the rains, to the accompaniment of the pounding of the waves, before Anto who was completely drenched and shivering, that I was telling him stories about the harshness and shamelessness of city life, the exploitation which I suffered in the various jobs which I took on. the incidents which forced me to abandon my course which I wrestled arduously through five years in a university, then fully devoted myself to writing fiction, articles, commentaries, and poems. I must have told him everything, including my dismissal from the Editorial Board of a national magazine because I learned to fight for the rights of my fellow workers, until often times I suffered hunger.

“You know, Anto,” I remember having said to him then. “You won’t be spared by hunger and poverty in the city if you never learn how to keep pace with the music and the trend of thought and of the kind of society there.”

I do not know how long Anto and I stayed in the rain but I remember, after I told my stories, Anto’s big eyes were reddening, blinking.

The day after, I had colds and fever, and Anto heard about it. He readily came to Mando’s house, carrying a bottle of goat’s milk for me. From that time on, Anto was not only an acquaintance — he became a friend to me.

“Ala’y I’m amazed at you, Manong,” Mando once said. “He has become so close to you. Anto does not befriend anybody here. Why… he looks like an elusive wild cock whom you’ve tamed.”

“I’m amazed myself,” I said.

But what puzzled me most, despite the days that he would spend time with Mando and me, especially when I was inebriated and told nonsensical and humorous stories, Anto never even laughed nor let go a grin or a smile.

Always, he would simply stare at us, observing our drinking, listening intently to our conversation and if he noticed that we needed anything, such as cigarettes or drinks, he would quickly move and serve us like it was his duty to do so. He would not budge except when he had something to offer me. And not once, did he ever mention the bitter tragic incident which happened to their family which I consciously avoided inquiring about.

I HAD stayed almost a month in Mando’s house, in that quiet place which was a paradise of coconut trees and kissing companion of the waves. And I felt like a newly born, infused with new strength, with new small dreams, with a new steadfastness to face any challenges in life. The image of the city which I left had become hazy, splintered and carried away by the waves. Then, one day, on that banca which lay idly on the shore, in front of a gallon of tuba, before Mando and Anto, I said, “I’ll probably say goodbye to you on Sunday.”

“Ala’y we’re not asking you to go, Manong,” Mando said. “Or perhaps you’re getting lonely here and are missing the life in the city?”

“No, not that. The truth is I already hate living in Manila. I could just go home, to Itay’s province, to the farm.”

Anto no longer watched our drinking anymore. Often times, his eyes were focused on the wide sea and he looked spiritless as he broiled fishes for our pulutan. After a while, Anto sought permission to leave saying he had to buy something from the store. It took a long time before he returned, the tuba which we were drinking was almost consumed. Anto brought me a pack of cigarettes.

“This is for you, Manong,” he spoke in a very soft voice.

As soon as he handed me the cigarettes, he turned away, walked towards the coconut grove through which he passed on his way home.

I did not see him for two days and I thought he did not go fishing because of the bad weather, the wind was gusty and the waves were wakening up. That Saturday, however, the day before my departure for my birthplace in Cavite, it was very early yet when Anto suddenly appeared in my cousin’s house.

Anto was carrying a gallon of tuba on his left hand and on his shoulder was a newly butchered goat which had not yet been skinned. He was already shouting while still at the gate. And that was the only time I heard him shout; the voice was full, and cold, as though it harbored a mystery which was difficult to fathom.

“Manong Roger! Manong Roger!”

“But why? What’s that for? We’re not having a party here,” was how I greeted him.

“Ala’y before you leave us tomorrow, at least, you should have tasted one of my goats.” His big eyes were glittering. “Manong Mando and I will cook kaldereta. I’m good at cooking kaldereta, Manong.”

Mando even sent someone to buy one more gallon of tuba. We would really have a good time drinking, he said, and one thing more, he followed up that we should fully indulge in our buzz because I was leaving the following day. Meanwhile, Anto was busy butchering the goat, while Mando in preparing the spices.

With gallons of tuba and steaming and fragrant kaldereta, I did not know how to express thanks to a man who attended to me almost like a servant for reasons I could not grasp. I did not know in those days when Anto was drawn close to me, he saw perhaps in my eyes my deep understanding of the tragedy which befell their family.

“I hope to repay your kindness someday, Anto,” I said to him. He did not say anything, merely glanced at me, while munching a piece of kaldereta, but I noticed that he seemed in deep thought; from time to time, he would gaze at the seashore and, often, stare awhile at the nearby coconut plantation which used to belong to them.

I had taken a lot and the tuba drink was coming to my brain, and I thought of taking a walk along the shore, to survey that serene surroundings which I had learned to love but which I would leave behind the next day. I noticed that Anto followed me and when he had gone a little farther away from where Mando was, he walked alongside me.

“Manong, I’d like to ask you a favour,” Anto’s voice sounded pleading. I stopped.

“With me you don’t have to plead,” I said smilingly.

“Ala’y you really mean that, Manong?” Anto’s eyes grew even bigger. I nodded.

“Can you bring me along with you tomorrow?”

“Is that all? Yes, sure.”

“Ay, but you don’t understand, Manong.”

I stared at him. He bowed his head.

“What I mean,” it was as if Anto would choke, “is, ala’y, I’d like to live in your house, Manong.”

I gaped.

THE NEXT day, the rays of the sun had not penetrated the coconut grove when Anto appeared near the stairs of Mando’s house, carrying a bayong of old clothes. The white polo shirt which he wore, though clean, seemed almost ready to burst open as it hugged his body. His faded denim pants hanged short and he wore rubber shoes though without socks. Nonetheless, Anto’s long hair was very neat, properly combed, parted on one side, and daubed with pomade.

Before we finally walked to town, I convinced him to take me to where he was staying, Ka Masyong’s house, so that, as I told him, I might be able to pay my respects to the old man.

“Ala’y son,” Ka Masyong said to me, “I hope you take care of that boy. Ala’y I don’t understand what that boy must have eaten that he can’t be dissuaded from going. Ala’y I have not scolded him or anything. If after a while he won’t like to stay with you anymore, son, ala’y I would beg you to please bring him back here.”

Ka Masyong was in tears when we left him.

I noticed that Anto stared awhile at that thick coconut plantation which they used to own beside Ka Masyong’s farm.

It was as if a momentary fierceness visited those big eyes which were always questioning, searching.

SINCE that time, Anto became not only my acquaintance, nor just my friend, but also my brother. The truth is that I really did not have a brother and, I thought, he would be of help to Itay in tending the gardens, in plowing the piece of land which we had inherited from grandpa.

As soon as Anto woke up an hour after the roosters crowed at dawn, it became his habit to clean the yard, sweep the fallen dry leaves of the mango trees, and clear off any undergrowth or thicket. Afterwards, he would water Itay’s vegetable plants. Before breakfast, he would have fed the three pigs which we raised, and also the chickens. Almost often, I just stayed in the house, in front of my typewriter, while Anto helped Itay in the farm. Once in a while, I went to Manila to submit my articles and articles for publication, and not a few times did I tell Anto to go with me so, I thought, he could at least see the City.

“Ala’y let me just stay here, Manong. No one will be left to help Itay,” was the excuse he would give each time in that full, cold voice.

I could see that Anto seemed happy and content living with us; Itay treated him nicely like his own son. Yet, despite all, I had not seen him laugh or even smile. The wide mouth seemed to have been totally deserted by even a slight grin.

“Anto is an industrious boy,” Itay said to me one time. The only trouble with him is I don’t see him laugh.”

“So you noticed that too,” I said.

“Is he really like that?” Itay seemed incredulous.

After that season’s harvest and when Itay had sold some cavans of palay, and also the three pigs which grew almost entirely under the care of Anto, he bought some clothes for Anto, and two hundred chicks for Anto’s pasttime because Anto did not even go out with friends, would not care to watch movies in town on Sundays and, most of all, would not drink. At night, he would just listen to the radio for a while, to songs and music, and then go to sleep.

Anto took very good care of the chicks; he would not even allow ants to crawl on their cages or houses which he himself built from bamboos which he himself cut, but one morning, just almost after having woke up, I heard Anto’s voice, not soft but loud, not cool but angry.

“Ala’y putang-ina!” that was the first time I heard him cursing. “Ala’y I’ll kill those rats!”

There were some five chicks which lay dead inside the cage, bitten by the rats. And that night, Anto did not go to sleep. Carrying a flashlight, and a piece of wood, I saw him entered and sat down on one corner of the cage.

When I woke up the following morning, I was greeted by the sight of Anto grinning from ear to ear, seeming to want to laugh, while holding on the tail two big, badly beaten rats.

“Ala’y, Manong… I killed the putang-ina!” Anto quipped. “Do you see these?” and he even slightly brandished the dead rats.

I gaped stupefied.

Then one afternoon, after Anto arrived from the farm, I sent him to buy Ginebra gin at a store near us. I could not continue with what I was writing then; my mind was like water that would not flow; it was as if a load of steel lay on my chest. In a short while, Anto rushed in, bringing a bottle of Ginebra, letting out a grin and his big eyes sparkled with excitement.

“Did you hear that news, Manong?” he immediately asked me.

“Which?”

“Ay, Manong,” his whole gums almost exposed while grinning. “What else? Ala’y Ka Berta has died, that old usurer in our place. They say she died in her sleep, and that her face was contorted. Ay, Manong, they say that she was even biting her tongue!”

The more I was unable to continue my writing, the more I drank. And we ate supper together with Itay, Anto was full of appetite; he took in big mouthfuls of food in succession.

It took some time before I could sleep that night. Anto’s grin danced in my mind.

The incident was repeated one day when I came home from Manila after submitting a story to an allegedly well-known magazine. As I was lucky to have been paid for an article I published, I thought of buying Anto a pair of rubber shoes and two pairs of socks so that, it occurred to me, if he thought of going to town to have a good time, he would have something presentable to wear because his old pair was already full of holes and seemed hardly fitted for his big feet.

Anto readily met me, he was grinning, with eyes seeming to laugh as well.

“I bought this for you, Anto.” But he did not even bother about what I was offering him.

“Ay, Manong Roger,” he seemed to want to break in a guffaw. “Ay, Manong… am sure you haven’t heard yet. Ala’y Ka Ignacio’s house burned down a while ago, completely reduced to ashes. Not even their clothing was saved. Ala’y they say has not stopped crying till now… they say he’s almost insane.”

Anto was referring to one of the rich landowners who owned a thousand or so hectares of ricefields in our place and who brought home even the chaff, would haul off his tenant’s share even if they were left with nothing especially if they could not pay their debts right away.

Anto did not even bother to open the shoe box. He did not ask either about what they were.

SOMEHOW it seemed like misfortune was our lot, our twin; indeed it is difficult to escape from povery; it is like a shadow which follows you around, then attacks, whenever or wherever without warning, not respecting any feeling or thought.

All of a sudden, one afternoon, Anto led home Itay who was writhing because of severe abdominal pains, his body wholly cold. Since the town was too far and there was no doctor in our barrio, I asked Anto to fetch Ka Mentong, an herbolario. We roasted rice, made into a coffee-like brew, and served it to Itay. Ka Mentong even asked for some banaba leaves, heated them, then placed them on Itay’s abdomen as a poultice. But Ka Mentong’s herbal powers proved ineffective.

Very early next day, I took out from a small chest box in a corner of the bedroom the small amount which Itay had saved. I hired a karitela and Anto and I carried Itay into it, brought him to town to an allegedly good doctor. The doctor, however, simply advised us to bring Itay to the hospital; his ulcer was acute and needed an operation. Itay was brought in the municipal ambulance to the provincial hospital. We were forced to mortgage to Ka Mamerto, also another landowner in our town, the piece of land which was Itay’s inheritance from his father. I was forced to sign up, upon permission from Itay himself,an agreement which stipulated lthat if we redeem the land following harvest season, Ka Mamerto had a right to confiscate it, foreclose it.

Itay was well now, had been discharged from the hospital, but needed to rest at home for a few months so that it was Anto who assumed the work in the farm. I saw in Anto’s face the strong resolve to do all he could, fully take care of the plants, rid them of insect pests, clear the harmful weeds. He would always come home when the sun had already set.

The beautiful harvest was redolent, the palay full, the vegetables healthy, and Anto’s chickens fat. Hope was simply there, dangling on, and just waiting to be picked in due time.

But, barely a month before harvest time, misfortune, as if brought about by chance or allegedly by will of God, was like a monstrous crocodile which attacked, pounced upon and gnawed away at the smallest fiber of our hope. A strong typhoon wrought havoc, the floods came, and Itay’s crops were totally destroyed, and Anto’s chickens caught a pest, weakened one by one and died.

“We’ll be fine,” Itay’s faith remained strong. I’ll request Ka Mamerto to allow us to postpone payment of our debts until the next harvest season. He’ll understand.”

From that time on, Anto lost his appetite. He hardly bother about eating. Mornings, he no longer spent time sweeping the yard and often he would stop and stare out blankly. At the farm, whenever he accompanied Itay in weeding out what the floods destroyed, it was often he would just sit on the dikes, stare at the void. He no longer listened to the radio at night, would lie down immediately and bury his face in the pillow.

Itay failed with Ka Mamerto.

“Ala’y what will happen to us now, Manong? Where else do we go?”

Anto’s voice was no longer cool that night, about three days before Ka Mamerto would confiscate that land which Anto seemed to have learned to love very much. Itay sat near the window, hands on chin, like he was figuring something out in the dark sky.

“Come what may!” I said absent mindedly. Go, buy me a bottle of Ginebra.”

“Ala’y let me drink this time, Manong. Give me just two shots.” Anto was emphatic and there was violence in his big eyes.

I consumed two bottles of Ginebra that night and I did not recall if Anto did drink or not.

The next day the news reverberated that Ka Mamerto was killed, his throat slashed, his abdomen hacked and, allegedly, the intestines spilled out.

Since that day Anto had disappeared.

I now have a wife and five children.

And I am still looking for him. #

(Translated by Nur Amir Nonilon V. Queano)
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GLOSSARY

estero —– small river in a city turned into a dirty canal.

tuba ——- an alcoholic drink made from the juice of palms or coconut.

Ala’y —— contraction of ala (fr. Allah) and ay;
sometimes it is written ala’e.
Manong — == apellation for an elder brother, father, or elderly person.
pulutan —- tidbits with wine.
Ay ——— an expression or exclamation.
putang-ina — literally “whore mother” an exclamation synonymous with “son-of-a-bitch”
ka ———- apellation for an elder person, male or female.
Itay ——– father: var. of Tatay and Ama.
kaldereta — meat stew of goat’s meat, mutton, or beef.
bayong —— bag or sack of woven buri palm leaves.
herbolario — a quack doctor
banaba ======= timber producing deciduous tree, also cultivated for its beautiful lilac-purple flowers and medicinal value.
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Musika Mo’y Minamahal Ko


(Tula — malayang salin ng orihinal kong Your Music I Love)

musika mo’y minamahal ko
mga tunog ng tambol
sa maitim, nananangis na gabi
umaatungal na ritmo
ng mga putok ng baril
sa labirinto ng kaisipan ko
hitik sa sumisikdong kadensang
humahagupit na lintik sa gulugod ko
naglulundo sa dagundong
ng sumabog na mga bombang
nanunuot sa kaluluwa at pandinig ko.

musika mo’y minamahal ko
dumadagok sa pandama ko
ginigising ako nang husto
pinaluluwang mga mata at ilong ko
at nginangatngat himaymay ng puso ko
humihimig ito ng mga notang mapanghimagsik
sa dugong dumadaloy sa aking mga ugat
pinupuno kalis ng katauhan ko
ng mainit na agos ng rumaragasang mithiin
para sa akin at sa iyo
para sa namimighati nating mga supling
sa ilalim ng ginintuan, di madakmang araw
upang, sa wakas,
mabulas na mamukadkad magpakailanman
kinandiling pula, pulang mga rosas
sa hardin ng walanghanggang pangarap.

musika mo’y minamahal ko
pinag-aalab nito himaymay ng laman ko
para sinlakas ng kulog na murahin, durugin
nananakmal, mapaminsalang mga diyus-diyosan
nililinis nito ang kaluluwa ko
upang siilin ng halik
buong timyas na yakapin sagradong mga adhikain
pinatatalas nito ang paningin ko
upang makita nakasusulukasok
na mga kabalintunaan sa lipunan
at nagnanana nitong mga pigsa
at nagdaralitang buhay ng masa.

musika mo’y minamahal ko
ipinaririnig nito sa akin tagulaylay
ng uring dayukdok at alipin
lirika nito’y kumukulo sa pagaspas ng amihan
itinataboy itim na balumbon ng mga ulap
sa papawirin ng kawalang-pag-asa
koro nito’y hitik sa alimura
tinatagpas ng matatalim na mga salita
ulo ng iilang hari-harian
sa nabubulok, nangangalingasaw na palasyo
ng abusadong mga hari’t senturyon
ng kasakiman at inhustisya.

musika mo’y minamahal ko
lagi’t laging pumapailanlang
mga nota ng naghuhumindig na pag-asa
mga lirika ng patuloy na pakikibaka
ng inaaliping sambayanang masa
silang itinanikala ng luha’t dalamhati
sa lupaing binaog, kahabag-habag kong bayan…
sa la tierra pobreza ng di matingkalang dusa
at himlayang lagi ng araw-gabi kong mga pangarap
oo, musika mo’y minamahal ko
dahil sa naglalagablab, mapagpalaya
at rebolusyonaryo nitong lirika!

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