Desire (Cont.): from MANILA NOIR

He thought he heard the policeman say, Ngunit — but — and then, “mga estudyante.” Epifanio did not want to listen anymore and turned away.

He found a few of the men gathered by the front door, whispering urgently to one another. Epifanio forced himself to approach.

As he took a step forward, and then another, he felt a slickness on his shoes. He looked down, and dully noted that something dark seemed to have smeared the soles of the sneakers that were practically brand new, bought from Gaisano Mall the day before he left Bacolod. He didn’t understand. His thoughts were slow. Perhaps that was Sheryn’s laugh he had heard, ringing in his head when he reached the urgently whispering men.

“Epifanio?” said Benedicto, the big man from Murcia. “Did anyone tell you what happened?”

Sheryn’s laugh was almost ear-splitting. The day was just beginning, but already he detested and feared it.

“Gonzago here thinks he heard something,” said another man, the one Epifanio knew only as Baby. Epifanio had heard some of the men gossipping about Baby. It was strange: he had angered his in-laws by slapping his wife, and they had made it impossible for him to remain in his own home, constantly abusing Baby in front of his own children.

Gonzago was old, almost forty. Everyone knew he roamed the halls in his sleep.

“If I did hear something,” Gonzago said, “it wouldn’t have helped. I might have heard this man’s soul leaving his body, yes. It sounded like water slipping down a riverbank.” Gonzago gestured, his right arm driving cleanly through the air.

Only then did Gonzago realize that the floor of the lobby was covered with the same dark substance that stained the soles of his sneakers. It was everywhere. There was even some of it smeared across one of the lobby’s light blue walls.

(To be cont.)

“Desire” in MANILA NOIR (Akashic Books)

The story hardly made a ripple. But it’s more important to self that it be read. So, she’s going to post it on this blog, in sections. Here’s section 1. The setting is Ermita, which is an older neighborhood of Manila.

She wrote this story in one go, to meet a deadline. She’s expert at writing things in one go. That is why flash is her little playground. This story is a bit longer than her usual.

The Assignment: to write something noir. Her stories are noir but she never had to decide they would be noir before writing. So, this story was an experiment (as the publishing here, in sections, is an experiment)

DESIRE

by Marianne Villanueva

Which parts of a bird are edible?

Epifanio did not know.

He would guess. Yes, he could do that. Not the internal organs. Not the beak. Not the feathers.

He wrote, laboriously: eyes, tail, breast.

Afterward, when they were gathered in the small lobby, they were offered warm Coke in thick glasses, no ice.

Why would anyone ask them a question about birds? They were there to study to be seamen: most of them were from Negros, like Epifanio. The rest were from Marinduque, Zambales, Cagayan de Oro, Davao. After two years on one of the inter-island ferries, and provided they received good evaluations, they might get the chance to work on one of the cruise ships that went to Hong Kong and Singapore. Epifanio clung to this hope.

He liked the young woman who had been waiting to greet them the day they arrived in Manila, but there was no sign of her the next day, or the next. By the third day, he began to notice a fat man who sat in a little room on the first floor. The room had desks and filing cabinets, like a regular office. Epifanio learned later that the man’s name was Leandro.

Epifanio pretended that the young woman had kindly shared with him a tube of toothpaste and he wanted to repay her. “Is she coming back?” he asked.

The man smirked. “She’s sick. Morning sickness. What’s your name again?” Epifanio gave his name. The man gazed down at a sheet divided into two columns.

“From Bacolod,” he said, and smirked again.

“Silay,” Epifanio said. And he thought: I have been to college. I have had two years in San Agustin. And you — ! He lowered his gaze and shrugged and gave a self-deprecating smile.

When Epifanio later replayed the conversation in his head, he hated the way Leandro seemed to know instinctively what Epifanio was after. And Leandro’s smirk would return again and again to his memory.

The rules of being a seaman: The shared toilets must be cleaned and ready for inspection at five a.m. When a passenger requests assistance, the seaman must smile and show his willingness to be of service. Even the most unreasonable guest will appreciate a smile.

Manila, this teeming city, pressed on him: dense, impenetrable. The sounds were many and various and ill-tempered. They abated only a little, towards dawn. His eyes were heavy from his dreams. Sheryn, I love you, he would dream himself saying aloud. In the dream she always laughed, as if she could hear him speaking, even across so many islands. I love you, I love you, I love you, he would say, his fists clutching the sides of the thin mattress.

 

On the sixth day, there was no one in the little office. Papers were scattered on the floor. The filing cabinet drawers hung open. The desk had been overturned. A policeman stood by a window, speaking into a cell phone.

Epifanio stared.

(To be continued)

PROLIFIC: Title of an Ilocano Grammar, Published 1627 in “The Most Noble and Ever Loyal City of Manila”

Other PROLIFIC:


The book’s original title was

  • Arte de la lengua iloca compuesto por el Padre fr. Francisco Lopez de la Orden de San Agustin (translation: Ilocano Grammar, compiled by Father Francisco Lopez, Augustinian Priest)

For its second edition, published 165 years later, the title had become

  • Compendio y methodo de la suma de las reglas del arte del idioma ilocano, que a los principios del siglo pasado compuso el M.R.P. Fray Francisco Lopez del orden de S. Agustin, y a los ultimos de este siglo apunto otro religioso de la misma orden, el M.R.P. Predicador Fray Fernando Rey, Examinador synodal de este Obispado

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

STORY: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 7 March 2018

“Be a visual storyteller.” — Jen H., The Daily Post

  • Self’s seatmate on the plane from Manila to San Francisco hailed from San Pablo, Laguna. He was bringing back to the States five of a Laguna specialty: coconut pies.

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  • On her most recent trip to Manila, in January, self dropped by the oldest university in the Philippines, the University of Santo Tomas, founded 1611. She dropped by the Creative Writing Department, and the faculty asked her to pose with them for a group shot. YAY!

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  • Christmas 2016 was a devastatingly lonely experience, one self vowed never to repeat. Christmas 2017, self was in Paris. A woman from China agreed to take her picture standing in front of the Arc de Triomphe.

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Admiral George Dewey, 1 May 1898

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Admiral George Dewey defeated an outdated and woefully under-equipped Spanish fleet at the Battle of Manila Bay, 1 May 1898

“Don Alfredo and Jose Rizal” in Sou’wester, Spring 2007:

  • As Jose Rizal was lined up before the Spanish firing squad, labeled renegade and underground solidarity worker, George Dewey entered Manila Bay.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading: Manuel D. Duldulao

  • The greatest link . . .  to the Spanish past is Intramuros. For almost 400 years until its destruction, Intramuros was Manila.

The Filipinos, Portrait of a People, by Manuel D. Duldulao

MANILA NOIR: “Desire”

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Manila Noir was edited by Jessica Hagedorn and published by Akashic Books in 2013.

Hagedorn wanted a brand-new story, so self wrote her one, which she titled “Desire.”

“Desire” can be found in Part III (“They Live by Night”) of the anthology. The story’s setting is Ermita.

What parts of a bird are edible?

Epifanio did not know. He would guess: eyes, tail, breast.

Afterward, when they were all gathered in the small lobby, they were offered warm Coke in thick glasses, no ice.

Why would anyone ask them a question about birds? They were there to study to be seamen: most of them were from Negros, like Epifanio. The rest were from Marinduque, Zambales, Cagayan de Oro, Davao.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Beloved 2: From Self’s Recent Trip to Manila, January 2018

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First cousin on mother’s side: Maitoni Cu-Unjieng

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Home-Cooked Food, with Lots of Fried Garlic

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Self is named after this iconic Filipino soup from the central Philippine islands: Batchoy

Beloved: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 31 January 2018

Can you believe January 2018 is over? Self can’t.

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is BELOVED.

We’re asked to “share a photo of something that is dearly loved.”

Here are a couple:

Museums. Self loves museums. This one is a picture of the last museum she visited, in the University of Santo Tomas, the oldest university in Manila (founded 1611):

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The Art and Natural History Museum, University of Santo Tomas

Another thing self loves is history. And the University of Santo Tomas having been founded in 1611, there’s a lot of history there. Here’s the Main Building:

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Main Building, University of Santo Tomas

Last but not least, she loves her son. Here she is with him, in a picture taken about 10 years ago. He lives in southern California and last October married a wonderful girl, Jennie, who hails from New Mexico:

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Andrew and Self at the Beach Chalet off the Great Highway, in San Francisco. The picture was taken approximately 10 years ago.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

#amwritinghistoricalfiction: Manila, 1757

Self making this up as she goes along. From her novel-in-progress, Blue Water, Distant Shores, p. 135:

“Manila is a city of 50,000 souls,” Saturnino says, with an air of pride. “It is one of the largest cities in the Orient. A river, the Pasig, empties into the bay just below the Fort. Both sides of this river are built up with industry. You will find no want of commerce here.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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