Saturday, May 10, 2008

My Friend

My name is Pepe. I am 12 years old. People said nobody would read what I will write because I lack schooling and English is my second language but you see, I very much want to share with you the story of my friend Dave. I am confident that although I'm not really a writer, I hope I will be able to communicate the message I want to, through this story. My qualifications? I earned the "Best in English" in my grade six class. This is my story.

I met Dave one night in a bar. Right after I graduated from elementary, I worked as an errand boy for Paradise Bar. I wanted to earn to be able to continue my schooling the coming year.

Dave was not one of the "ugly Americans" as others call them. ("Go home, Yankees!" I often hear the cry of protesters in the streets.)

According to the women in the bar, he looked like Mel Gibson - the actor in Braveheart. ( I watched that movie several times with them, and I agreed.)

When the other airmen were noisily drinking, he was just in one corner, silently sipping his beer. He was also soft spoken and treated me kindly -unlike the other Americans. He always gave me a tip - not in coins but in paper- that was a lot for me.

Every night, he came to the bar, all by himself. The women would crowd around him and tried to talk to him, but in the end , he always preferred to be alone. One time when all the customers have left and I was done gathering the empty bottles, he called me.

"What's your name?" he smiled at me.

"Pepe" I answered.

"Where do you live?"

"Gueco Street."

"Do you want to work for me?"

I was surprised, "What work?"

" Just be my yardboy and clean the house once a week,"
he continued smiling at me. "Lighter work, and more pay"

" Yes, " I said eagerly.

" You can start tomorrow." he said.

I started working for Dave. He lived alone in a three - room apartment near their Military Base. I learned that he was a pilot - an officer - he had a "wing" symbol on his military uniform. At times when I was done cleaning the yard, he would talk to me about his family back in Wyoming. How he missed them. He said he had a younger brother my age. (Perhaps that was why he had helped me?)

He went less and less to the Paradise Bar as days went on. He allowed me to stay in the other room of his apartment. I went home during weekends to give money to "Nanay" (mother). I was earning more and I was able to save money too.

During evenings, we would barbecue at the backyard and just talk. He asked me about my family and my plans. I told him about how I wanted to go to high school; that I was the eldest of 5 children and that my parents could not get good jobs because they were not able to go to college too. I was not telling him this to ask for help. I was telling him because he was able to encourage me to talk and I didn't usually open up that easily. I think we were alike because we didn't talk openly about ourselves to other people.

One day when he came home;

" Myrna, this is Pepe, Pepe this is Myrna - my girlfriend."

I was shocked. I stared at her face and saw a smirk. I did not like her but I shook her hand anyway.

" Sige na, iwanan mo kami," (Go on, leave us alone) she said in the dialect, so I left them.

I could hear Myrna's laughter echoing in the house.

"You don't like her," Dave said when she left. I did not reply. "You'll like her when you'll get to know her better." he said and I nodded.

Everyday thereafter, Myrna came to the house even when Dave was not around. She ordered me around like she owned me. I am not new to this as bad people always do that to poor people like me.

"Pagkatapos mong gawin iyan, labhan mo ang damit ko!" (After you're done with that, wash my clothes!) She would bark the order at me.

I had no choice but to obey, she was my boss' girlfriend and I could see that Dave's happiness was complete with her around.

One day. when Dave was at work, Myrna came. She had a man with her. They went straight to Dave's room, and I heard her giggling.

" Eto, puede na ba ito" (this one, is this okay?)she asked the man.

There was no reply and when they came out, she was carrying Dave's big camera in one hand.

"Ate," I asked " Saan po ninyo dadalhin iyan?" (Where will you bring that?)

"Wala ka na doon", (It's none of your business) she pouted at me.

I could not do anything when she walked past me. When evening came, Dave arrived and I waited for him to ask about the camera but he said nothing , so I presumed that everything was well.

During the days that followed however, I noticed that Myrna no longer came to the house. Dave went back to his usual silent moods. I tried to talk to him but he answered in monosyllables.

"If it's about the camera, .." I started.

"No, don't worry about that," he replied, and that was that.

He did not want to talk about Myrna and I did not dare ask. By then I know that when Dave wanted me to know, he would tell me. As days passed, his mood improved. We went back to cooking barbecue and talking about his experiences: how he had slipped into a pond because he was rushing to school; how he and his brother enjoyed their first rodeo and many others. These were all new to me so I listened with awe.

When it was my turn, I went on to talk too about how I enjoyed reading so much and my interest in poetry and writing. He gave me a box of pocketbooks to read the following day, "here, they are all yours." he said.

It was halfway to June then and I had saved enough money for enrollment but not enough to buy my school materials. That was good enough for me though, the rest can be remedied, I was sure.

It was after several months that Olive came into our lives. Unlike Myrna, I liked Olive immediately. She treated me like Dave did. Her kindness was from the heart, because even when no one was around she treated me like a younger brother. I came to know that she worked as a nurse in the Base hospital.

I can see that Dave was happier with Olive than with Myrna. They were so in love. I was not surprised when they told me they were getting married that coming June. I was happy for them! They assured me, I can stay with them for as long as I wanted.

But that was not what happened. Fate had more surprises for me - the following June, Mount Pinatubo erupted. Tons of ashes rained and all US bases (Subic and Clark) were abandoned by fleeing US soldiers.

I was home helping my parents take shelter when the order for the evacuation of the US bases was given. I knew Dave would be looking for me. I braved the ashfall and rushed to Dave's apartment... but he was gone. Olive was there, packing things in boxes.

Image from: Wikipedia

"Nasaan siya?"(Where is he?) I asked her.

"Umalis na siya" (He's gone), she said with tears in her eyes.

I can't help but cry too. Dave was gone! I couldn't believe it. I had thought we would be together for long.

"Will you be okay?" I asked her , knowing she was feeling the same way, even much more perhaps.

"He promised to keep in touch," she assured me. "He left something for you."

She gave me a camera and an envelope... the camera ?

"It is brand new," Olive said when she saw the question on my face. " He knew about the first camera. It was Myrna. " she continued.

I opened the envelope. There was green money - enough for me to pursue my ambition of going back to school. I cried all the more, thinking how generous he was. You can always count on him - my Boss Dave - NO - my friend Dave!

One important lesson I have learned is that, no matter what race one belongs to, there will always be the bad and the good.


This story is from my archives.

Saturday, May 3, 2008


Image from: Free Digital Photos

They were in the school garden. She was 17; he was 18.

" You're late," she reprimanded him.

" Sorry, some last - minute chores."

" Perhaps that red head detained you again."

" Now, don't start with that..."

" Why not? because it is true?. You were ogling at her."

"What?" his eyes were round with concealed mirth and disbelief, "okay, enough of this childish jealousy, You know that's not true."

He held and kissed her. " I love you and only you."

The stars were back in her eyes.

Just then a male classmate passed by and twittered, "Hey Fiona, are you done with the group project?"

" Hi, Lex. No, not yet."

"Come on, let's finish it."

" Go ahead,.. be there in a minute," she smiled as Lex walked passed them.

"You were smiling so sweetly at him," he intoned.


"You had a smile as wide as a welcoming arm..." he went on.

"Hey, I did not."

"Yes you did."

" Come on, you said let's stop with this childishness."

She tried to pull him close, but the school bell rang.

He said, "See you," and left her staring at his retreating back.

Fiona did not see Tristan the whole day. It was apparent, he was still sulking.

Talk about the yellow devil rearing its head again. She too have been guilty of it by doubting him.

She called him up in the evening, unable to concentrate on her books.

" Hello honey, how are you?" she half whispered into her c.p.

" Well, I'm okay," he replied, after some minutes of hesitation.

" I love you," she said.


"I love you," she repeated, louder this time.

" mmmm, I love you too... but you promise not to smile at Lex anymore?"

He realized the inanity of the request. "Okay, okay, you promise not to love anyone but me?" he persisted.

" You know the answer to that one. I love you and only you."

There was a happy sigh at the other end of the line.

"Can I have a night cap with you, honey? I can't sleep."

"Come on over, " she smiled.

And the night went on unfettered.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


I drifted between bouts of consciousness and unconsciousness. It is in the interim of both, that I felt peace and quiet. The respite from the pain that wracked my body was like heaven to me.

After quite sometime, I finally came to my full senses. "Where was I?" I was disoriented. It was pitch black and I could not see a thing. My memory slowly drifted back to the previous hours.

Anxious, I tried to stand up, but found out to my dismay, that I was strapped to a steel chair. My tormentors were gone, perhaps to get some sleep, thank God.

I squirmed to set myself free, but the tight knot became even tighter.
"Keep calm", I reprimanded myself. " Take a deep breath and relax."

Image from:

After a few minutes of relaxation, I looked around me. There was a small window at the farthest end of the room - but there were steel bars on it! The room was almost bare except for the chair I was in, the rickety table in front of me and the piles of ropes and duct tapes around me.

I tried shifting my weight to move the chair but it wouldn't budge an inch. Just then voices started to drift in. I froze.

"This is incredible!" the hoarse voice exclaimed,"I wouldn't have believed it, If I haven't seen him with my own two eyes."

They were back! The devils were back! I can't stand the inhumane torture any longer.
I closed my eyes and feigned unconsciousness as I heard the door opened and banged.

" I've got to see my lawyer." the voice was insistent.

"This is martial law and you are not entitled to any legal rights", the man barked his reprimand.

The scent of cigarette and booze wafted to me as the man came close. He got hold of my chin, tilted my face and spat:" This is the wrong man, that explains the poor stamina. This one will be out in hours."

I felt my hands and feet freed of the tight ropes and the contraption, and carelessly dragged to some corner of the room.

"You are making a big mistake," the new "suspect" warned them.

Instead of giving him a reply, I heard grunts of pain as they turned him into a punching bag.

I winced as they continued to beat the daylights out of him. Perhaps I could do something, but my muscles were still raw and numb. The bastards! I hope their day of reckoning would come soon.

They stopped when they finally had worn themselves out, "Now let's start with the questions."



They proceeded with the same line of questioning they conducted with me.

I can see that the new suspect was undaunted. He rarely cried in pain - all I could hear were controlled groans and muffled cries.

The interrogation went on for several minutes and I could hear, they weren't making any progress. The circulation was slowly creeping back into my veins. Tentatively, I opened and closed my fists and tried to stretch my legs. I peered through the darkness and assessed the situation.

There were only two of them. One was standing close, with a dangling cigarette in his mouth, while the other, bigger man had his face close to the "suspect". The "suspect" was blindfolded! The poor guy, had a mangled face due to the beating.

The smaller man glanced backward like he had some premonition, and I slumped back, feigning unconsciousness.

" Where are your accomplices?", the bigger man repeated the question.

" I don't have any, " the suspect whispered.

"You've got to hurry," the smaller man warned his companion, "soon the Governor will be back, and he would like results."

" You planned to assassinate the governor, didn't you ?, How much did they pay you?"

They were so engrossed with their activity that they did not hear my approach.

With the agility of a seasoned gunman, (that surprised even me) I grabbed the small hand gun from the waist of the smaller man and shouted: " Stop now, or I'll blow your brains off."

Everything froze as they turned to me with incredulous looks on their faces, I squinted from my half closed eyes and returned their stare.

" Now, turn your back slowly." I instructed the smaller man to untie the suspect
and tie his cohort instead.

"Make that tighter," I shouted with all the strength I could muster, lest they will notice the quiver in my voice.

When the bigger man was bound, I "roped" the other man myself.

Now I have learned that survival is the father of audacity! ha ha! What a way to learn it! I could not imagine myself doing this, a few days ago...but now...

I gently shook the "suspect" to consciousness. "We've got to run now," I said urgently.

He shifted his weight unto my shoulder and we trudged to the door. There was an unexpected blast of the early morning air as we stepped into an open field. Another day had started. I can see then, that the "room" we had been in, was actually a concrete, solitary den - away from civilization.

Arm in arm, We half-ran. half jogged away to freedom. He was fast recovering now and I could see that he was definitely more physically fit than I was.

We took 5- minute rests as we skirted our way, to follow the trail out of the forest.
We went on for about an hour before he motioned for me to stop.

He looked at me worriedly , so I assured him " I have knocked them out cold. They will sleep for hours, don't worry." But he continued to stare at me, with a baffled look on his face.

"I am Arvin, " he finally said, "what's yours?"

"Angel," I replied

" You can leave me now, Angel, and thank you."

"You're not curious why they took me in?" I asked incredulously.

"Well, apparently, they mistook you for me."

"Really," I said sarcastically.

"Go now, before they could organize a hunting party."

"What about you?" I couldn't help but ask.

Just then, there was a rustle of leaves and I heard him whistle.

I blinked as 15-20 men materialized out of nowhere. They were all dressed in
fatigue uniforms and had guns of different calibers. They found us ! I started to run for cover, when Arvin's hands held me in a firm grip. "These are my comrades, Angel," his hand indicated the group in one swift motion. "And this is Angel",he stated this like he had known me for quite sometime now.

I blinked again in disbelief, as one by one, his comrades approached me and gave me a handshake.

"Now, go back to where you belong, and fight the peaceful war."

They will hunt me down if I go back. I thought...what charges would they arrest me for? Rebellion? Resisting arrest? Physical injury to an officer? What else? But all I said was, "I can't go back.".

"You can. I will see to it that you will. Follow this trail and within 30 minutes, you will be in the next town."

Before I could protest, he turned his back and motioned to his comrades to follow him...and they were gone in a flash, like the silent wind, here now - and gone the
next moment.

It was as he had said, within 30 minutes, I found the town. I sneaked in and out of the streets, fearful I was being followed - but no one paid any attention to me.
My face was mending, except for a few bruises and my body aches were slowly receding.

I finally hitched a ride home.

The following day, the newspapers screamed the headlines:

"The New People's Army Strikes Again"

Two policemen believed to be members of the
private army of Governor Samat have been
summarily executed by rebels in a hideout, northeast
of Baguio.

This was written and taped to their bodies:
" A warning to scalawags in the police force.
Mend your evil ways, or you will be next."

My vision blurred as memories of yesterday came back.
Was it only yesterday? It seemed eons ago!

I stared at the handsome face of Arvin. He looks exactly like me, except for the wavy hair. Mine are about strange coincidences...could he be my...????

I shook my head at the absurd idea and continued packing for school. I had an exam on Criminal Law 1.

"Go back and fight your peaceful war." Arvin's voice was still resounding in my ears as I ascended the school grounds.