The Treasure Trove


Once there was a boy who hid himself one day inside his parents’ wall cabinet. Within that newfound lair, he discovered a wooden chest he took as treasure trove. Excitedly, he pulled it open and rummaged through the loot. To the boy’s consternation, he discovered no candies or toys but these sad mementos: a bundle of mooted hopes; two stacks of mistaken joys; an array of anger; three nice rolls of regret; a neat sheet of tragedy; some stocks of depression; a deck of distrust; two packs of pride; four canisters of sorrow; a thick envelope of disappointment; a bottle of bitterness; six purses of pain; and a heavy bag of guilt. The boy, perplexed at his find, emptied the chest and filled it with broken innocence. He grew up long time ago, but the child is in continual quest—collecting boxes of love and cans of forgiveness.




Everyday, we caress our emotions like broken homeless people, carving hope in the cold pavement we erroneously call home, when in fact we’re just passing by. We can’t hold on for long to something untenable even if it feels so perfect; we just can’t stay at the same place forever. Human journey is just as far as we can hold on breathing. Much of that notion lies at the fact that at some point, when some of us reach a crossroad, our hearts turn numb and our minds get suspended at a pendulum of expectations that swing our hopes nonstop, only to hurt us ineffably until we shrink at the backdrop of our own frailties. Some things bind us tight on the belief of life’s arbitrariness. Each moment becomes a gambit and we cast our dice uncertain of what fate has in store for us. Never mind what color of thick layers of blinders we put on our eyes because our defeatist self is always ready to embrace false percepts of reality. Thus, we follow the lead of the crowd along the fences of our own self- imposed limits; the flow of structured life: frigid, dull and distant. Just look around and see how people make shovels out of their weak spirits and dig their own graves. Hopelessness abounds; pessimism drumbeats the agonizing message of unhappiness. Sadly, this is a piece of tragedy destined to haunts us all each time. We are, after all, mere humans; no single juncture in our life is actually meant to be the same or eternal. So, we walk on. No one really dares to stop. But here’s one truth about life: even if a destination is a made-up lie, we’ll get there still and find it real. Our will keeps our fortitude; our decisions in life make us who we are at the end. But it wouldn’t’ hurt to be bold and pause for a while amidst humanity’s procession in life’s narrow path. For I tell you, desolation is home even for the fools who halt the journey to appreciate a rose by the roadside.

Amorphous Encounter


As she softly recounted the tale of their speckled love, he listened like a man on vigil; the night solemnly stood still as heartaches diffused like the glow of the shaded lamp on the nightstand. As more words floated and tears flowed and dried up on crumpled napkins, he imagined hope between gaps of her gasping where truths lie like a brimful glass of red wine spilled over her chest. He imagined it like a caldera about to burst and spill more burning sulfurous words of life’s pain. As their eyes get fixed to each, sudden memories of guilt tangled; the door of silence bolted shut. Her delicate hands wrapping the white bed sheet trembled and wrinkled the linens of hope and despair. Inside that dim cramped room love lasts into eons, but still too short a bliss. Just as they caught their last words with their lips, they knew they would soon speak more of life’s stains.



I dreamt I was a lost ancient warrior, garbed in bronze helmet and leather body armor. I saw myself seated on a boulder, shaking off dusts and dirt beside a stranger’s flower bed. For a while, I thought the carnation and roses gave me the scent of peace. As I gazed at the green pasture from afar, I saw the dancing shadows of clay pot-makers along the sandy riverbank. Then everything went dark and silent. I heard a short bip, then a blip. I saw afterward glitters of freed bubbles as more bips dragged on. A metal chinked. Then I woke up—still in yesterday’s work clothes. Drowsy, I hastily dragged my feet and lowered the window blinds. Outside, I only saw congested concretes and sparkling metals whizzing past.  Beyond my windowsill, the world was running wild. Just as some beasts of steel slithered through a neighbor’s garden, I rolled back to bed, defiant against the sun that rose proud. I knew the clock turned 10 AM as my phone rang. But the warrior is long gone.

Keppel Shipyard Tragedy


Life is a heavy load, they say. But so is death, literally, for six men who took the brunt of a 42-ton steel scaffolding that plummeted down their heads at the forward dry-docks of Keppel shipyard in Subic. After that ramp crushed their tired, scarred bodies, one has to ask if those damaged lives were less heavy or more impaired than the 22,650-ton container ship they tried to repair. I wonder what their last thoughts were at 10:20 AM on that fateful seventh day of October. Do you think they have thought of a hug or a kiss from an expectant wife or a sweet embrace from an excited child? Nah, it was a cruel death; no room for romance. But life ought not to get snapped out in a split second. True, life is scaled to find its worth at some point. By what measure? We can’t say. An utter despair! Here’s what was left from that industrial carnage—just mere body count and scattered limbs. A message to the Philippine government and Singapore’s Keppel Shipyard Limited: get sucked up on your excuses, but reserve silence for the bereaved.

This piece was originally written two years ago in the wake of Keppel Shipyard tragedy in Subic, Philippines.

Reaping at Sierra Madre


The night was dead and the moon grieved at the foot of Sierra Madre. As crackling shots and screams logged to our brains, we knew more bodies fell. The nightly dirge of sudden shrieks, wails, and cries brought in more ghosts of fright—exigent storm about to devour the land; the life. Every sharp strike of mattocks to some parched grounds bore graves—numbered cliffs of unmeasured pain. Gone are the nights that entreat rituals of laughter and reverie at the golden field. Those nights when after the hard days of work, humble fathers pride the fruit of each outlaid sweat, while the children dart soft trails of the rich rice field; mothers behind in joyous pursuit of a kiss. Gone are those nights except for the nightly procession of dead kin who nourished the land. Indeed, gone are those nights, extinguished like the children’s mirth. The summer reaping was delayed, but the land is waiting. Soon the sickle will slash the mighty wind around the robust mountain.



Nature’s Nobility

Even blades of grass
Pay homage to still air;
Vow to a short hush


Brown earth, green foliage
But gathering clouds now shade
The valley—a creed