Thursday, January 31, 2008

Our Editor's Note

On November 6, 2005, we came out with the maiden issue of Davao Today, which never diminished in value even over time. Maybe, it was because we invested sheer hard work in it; maybe, love's labors were never (and could never be) lost. A click of the mouse sort of brought me back in time, makes me long for the moment when everything was just beginning, when everything was still on the verge of being.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Full Moon over the Bat Caves

On our way to a bat cave on Samal island, I knew that I was destined to see the bats taking their circadian flight with a full moon rising as the backdrop. I simply knew it. It was like the feeling you get when you're playing that game called "mastermind," and you've already figured out the colors and the exact arrangement of the hidden chips. I was very sure of it. The fact that I was switched in between Ja and a passenger next to Barry inside a crowded bus on a ferryboat bound for the island seemed a perfect reason why I should see the bats taking flight on a full moon.
"No, they don't cover the sky like clouds," the American scientist Jim Kennedy patiently explained how the skies look like when the bats start flying, leaving their roost to look for food at night. "They're more like a stream, undulating against the red sky when the sun sets." I did not say anything because I knew the moon will show up for me that night. It was something I can only feel in my gut. Simply because I have faith in the moon when it is at its fullest and that I was there to visit nocturnal creatures like bats, I was sure I'd get to see the two fascinating events happening simultaneously before my eyes.
Even Ja's prediction of rain did not bother me. "You see those rain clouds from the east? No moon would show up tonight," Ja kept saying.
We did not stay long to wait for the moon over the island.
I texted Mrs. Monfort as soon as we got back to Davao, to find out how the sky over Samal looked like when we left. Was it covered with clouds? Was the moon even visible? She replied that at that moment, it was already covered. But earlier, she said, the moon was very big and beautiful.
The Goddess was always known to favour women. I simply knew how the sky will clear to allow me a glimpse of the full moon, when the bats are in flight, if I had only been stubborn enough to stay and wait.
I knew Ja was wrong simply because he's a man.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Falling in Love with Butuan

I never thought I'd ever fall in love with a place like Butuan.
In my good old student days, it looked to me like a person with a shabby character that I had to avoid at all cost as I used to disembark from a boat from Cebu, jostling my way to the crazy Nasipit pier.
But what I used to see of the place then, was just the fleeting view of the pier and the bus terminal on my way home to Davao during the chaos of numerous coming home seasons.
In the previous years, I noticed young girls chatting away their time with bald, potbellied foreign men on their computer screens, in the cubicle next to mine in an internet cafe while I was doing one of those story assignments for Newsbreak.
But these days, Butuan is turning a friendly face to me. It has suddenly, become familiar, like the face of a younger sister.
One Monday, when I walked inside Urios University's highschool department, I felt my heart skipped a bit at the sight of 14 and 15 year olds, cramming for their third grading exams. I crossed the street to the St. Joseph Cathedral to discover the pleasant patterns of light above the altar. I stared at the letters of Fr. Saturnino Urios and Ferdinand Magellan posted on the wall. I sauntered into the dusty basement of Gaisano Butuan, and found old copies of the NewYorker magazines and Antique Journals, haphazardly strewn inside an abandoned box. Before I knew it, I was already coughing my way into the pages on Ramses II's life as Pharaoh of Egypt 3,000 years ago. I completely lost track of time.
Suddenly, Butuan ceased to be a stranger to me. It has become a family member, whose character is a delight to discover.
But I have yet to dig up its most exciting story as an ancient trading port in this part of Asia over a thousand years ago.
I could not make out anything yet of the writings on the wall.
That's why, JA was bewildered when I got back to Davao. "Are you crazy?" he asked. "Everybody hates Spanish so much they were so happy to get rid of it!
But now, you tell me, you want to learn Spanish? What do you want to learn it for?!" He was hysterical. "What has gone into your head? Everyone who speaks Spanish is already dead!"
"I saw letters of dead men on the wall of a cathedral in Butuan," I told him. "They were all written in Spanish. I want to read them."
Thus, I started another form of madness.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Sunny Notes for the Year!

I still want to start the year right, so, I came up with a list of things that make me smile [and keep my soul warm and my heart beating for the rest of the year.]
1. DavaoDiaries [on the bottom five---hahaha!] of the top 100 Mindanao blogs and seeing my friends up ahead.
2. Taking a walk with Sean on the road down the creek.
3. Looking at Karl's drowsy eyes every time he confronts his notebooks.
4. Catching a glimpse of a couple of white egrets, making a courtship dance in the swamps. (This was in October when the egrets were still on the way to Australia. In February, they'll be passing by again on their way to China, or Siberia, or whereever they may have come from.)
5. The rare sight of the Rising Crescent at the strike of the New Year!
6. An old, fat cat snoring on the dining table on drowsy afternoons when Ma is not looking.
7. Topol singing "If I were a Rich Man," as Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof."
8. Everything about Franz Bardon
9. Antares
10.Pirates of the Caribbean
11. The Three Wizards who followed the star to Bethlehem.
12. Magick
13. A Recipe for Poor Poets
14. All my favorite blogs [and there are millions!]
15. House lizards cocking their heads on the wall to listen to Don McLean's and then, Madonna's "American Pie" on YouTube.
16. The sound of a baby gecko in the farm.
17. The soft, creamy taste of Mandaya Moore-Orlis' cinnamon rolls. (Melts in your hands, not in your mouth, I swear!)
18. Sunrise! (not sunset, take note.)
19. The feel of sands on my feet.
20. Tchaikovsky's Piano Concierto No.1
21. Smell of coffee
22. Waltzib's "Papa's Paklay," and whatever came of it.
23. News from Bosom Friends, near and far!
24. Ceramic Bowls
25. Scent of freshly-cut herbs
26. Laughter (especially Sean's)
27. And Many More
You see, the list is endless. I will never run out of reasons to celebrate!

Happy New Year!

Dasia and I finally got to meet each other yesterday. “You’ve not updated your blog,” she said, glaring at me. “I still read Mariannet--and it’s already New Year!”
“Can you feel it?” I asked her.
She gave me her puzzled look.
“The ground is shaking,” I said. She stopped on her way out the door. She must have been thinking of earthquakes.
“The ground is not solid anymore,” I said, but noticed that the words didn’t sound right to my ears.
“I mean, we’re no longer standing on solid ground,” I corrected myself but that didn’t sound right, either. I was sweating. “Can’t you feel it?! The ground where we’re standing is not solid anymore. It’s so shaky!” I blurted, with a hint of panic, because of my inability to express myself.
As usual, Dasia was still her cool, reliable self. “That’s only because you’re thinking too much about it,” she said.
Actually, I wasn't thinking of anything. I did not tell her I got colds, and that, I've even been having trouble breathing since Christmas.
She paused and noticed my eyes. “Too many dark rings,” she said. “You’re excused tonight.”
She said, she’ll just tell Banana and Mandy that I couldn't make it.
We were supposed to go to The Café, where some time in early December, we saw Tec talking to Batman in another table. We never thought that was the last time we would see Batman alive. He was the fifth journalist to be killed in the Philippines before the turn of the year, the 91st since democracy was restored in 1986, according to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) list.
In November 2004, he still joined the march for dear friend Geneboyd, the 59th on the list. Urggh, the terror of numbers! Who would have an inkling who'd get to be the 91st?! During that march, Batman was bringing along with him a copy of an article about him on the Mindanao page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Batman told JA he decided to frame the article because he considered it an "apex" of his career as a "hardhitting" radioman to get printed on the page.
When I think about this, I often pause and wonder how he would have taken it, to know that he even made it to the front page banner headline nowadays? But, of course, that is such a bad joke. He could not have known!
"Kung mag-inday-inday ka, wa kay madawdaw," he used to say, showing off the old scars he got from an attack he survived over a decade ago. Everybody knew he was identified with a politician. But what was it that he said that got the bullet into his head? Was that bullet intended to silence him?
At The Cafe, we just waved, because all of us at our table were so busy talking about a dizzying range of topics from Mariannet Amper, the Digong-Nogie war and Lex Adonis.
If you happen to live in Davao, you would see the connection.
We were talking about covering disasters and whether or not journalists were at fault at the Manila Pen coverage (because earlier, at the PCIJ training at the Chateau del Mar, Malou Mangahas of PCIJ said, probably, they were!) We never kept track of the time (how could we, with Mandy and Banana around?!) so, the next time we looked up, we saw Tec and Batman waving, turning to go.
Then, in the morning of Christmas Eve, we just became dimly aware of the music from our cellphones, bringing along the message that another journalist was killed.
Brrrh. Is this the way to celebrate New Year?!