• The age of the drowning man has arrived.
  • Consequences of choices are ripe for the picking.
  • Candlewicks pick up flame and lick thick waxes down.
  • Entities dance to tuneless dirges.
  • Dreams of aisles and veils portend the desire of a dying heart.
  • Unnurtured soul cries — silently, bitterly — behind fierce mask.
  • Lost believer making their way back to the beckoning fold.
  • Pains, joys, tribulations mingle for perfect sustenance.
  • Cast adrift in sunless seas, tides ebbing, flowing to final oceans.
  • Ends of worlds no longer matter.
  • Maps no longer bear compass points to lead the way.
  • Directions are meaningless — the only choice left is to trod onwards.
  • Forward, forward, forward to bleak horizons feet doing the work.
  • Goodbyes are spent, hellos are still minted and unused.
  • Oceans swallow sleeping ships and spew them back to empty piers.
  • Baggages are packed, unpacked, and packed again. Continue reading Lystan

Tomes of My Fathers

Let’s see… It’s already been two months and three days since I’ve become a roomer in a boxlike 6 meter square cave near the Shoe Factory. And I am still unhappy as a bee taken off her Prozac prescription.

And this unhappiness is brought to you by the constant yo-yoing of oil prices and the all-time-high inflation in the market. I’m not blaming the president though. She has so much on her plate already. If I were running a nation where the average woman’s head scrapes the 5-foot measure, I would surely have serious self-esteem issues. But that’s my personal politics, and I beg you to ignore that. 

There is no relief from this escalating madness, and we might as well chomp on the bit for a little longer. I have a new mantra now: “For all things, give thanks.” Hmmm. It keeps me sane with all that’s been happening. But I’m willing to bet that my blood pressure’s escalated again, keeping up with the trend.

Still we say, as cliche as it may sound, that life goes on.

Well, I was home in the Tropical Jungle over the weekend and whiled the 36-hour reprieve from the boiler-room heat of the cave in the lowlands by coercing my old buddy, the washing machine, to spin and soak/soak and spin my laundry while I watched a pirated copy of Journey to the Center of the Earth 3-D and, at the same time, tied old books in bundles.

About those books… my family had those old and musty tomes as far as I could remember. Most bear the mark of the passing years: yellowed pages, insect-nibbled edges, termite-gutted bibliography and index sections (my mother would raise hell when she finds out), waterstains, coffee stains, ketchup stains, scribbles on the margins, highlighted sections, squashed bugs between pages… They’ve encroached all available space in my cottage. Some are languishing in our makeshift library where they get to be the accommodating beds to several generations of woodland mice. I’ve stacked paperbacks and hardbound first editions in every possible nook and cranny; some have begun falling on unsuspecting souls’ heads when things get dull in the house.

But I just can’t throw them away. Would you do that to your 70-year-old grand aunt who taught you to read, to bake cookies and to douche? Okay, I don’t douche. But the point is, would you throw things out if they helped shape how you look at the world? So I endure and put up with the mustiness; every once in a while, I get a fit of the cleaning bug, and I spend a day bundling stacks of these well-loved warped bound sheaves for a reshuffle of their storage places. An aside: I learned the Greek alphabet through my great grandfather’s lexicon, and I could read some words in the language if you’re willing to bet. Sometimes, for nostalgia, I pull out our tattered copy of The Church of Our Fathers, a really ancient book that may already be out of print — one of my mother and father’s textbooks in the seminary — and look at the the woodcut illustrations of how the Christian church was founded. Those pictures scare me. Image montage: blood, gristle, violence, the burning times, the Inquisition, pregnant popes, homicidal landgrabbing bishops… but it’s just my paranoia so I ask you to ignore that. Just please don’t conclude that my childhood was one unhappy mess. It wasn’t… partly.

This weekend, I stashed some editions under the stairs, away from the leaking roof. Some found a new home beside the clothes shelf. At least, there are no termites this time of the year to get at them.

When my 36 hours in the mountains were up, I rode down to the cave with my clean clothes crammed into a bag, far far lonelier but not yet beaten.

I have a backup plan:

You know, when I win the Aegean Lottery, part of my winnings will be used to rehabilitate all those books in a humidity-controlled chamber, complete with a restoration area and carbon-dioxide-minimizing technology. And it shall be housed in a chrome and steel edifice that I shall call bibliotek.

Here’s to making our dreams into realities.


[image courtesy of]

Today’s Special: Broken Coffee Cafe Apartment Fried Chicken

Enough of the blind items for now.

I am feeling peckish today, so allow me to lead you as we traverse the more pleasurable alleys of gustatory delights. Today, just for today, I will share with you a recipe I came up with while still staying  alone with a pit bull and a mongrel dipped in the Japanese spitz genepool in an apartment right by the side of a highway where at nights, car drivers loved to drag race.

Actually, it’s my take on my favorite comfort food, the humble fried chicken.

It was still during my college days. I remember that it was during midterms week that company was coming one evening and I had nothing to serve for dinner. I think I promised them fried chicken or something, but with my “hectic” college schedule, I wasn’t able to marinate, in the night before, some chicken for frying. The boiling process recommended here is done to speed up the chicken’s absorbing capacity of the marinade, as the guests were scheduled to be calling in three hours’ time — which was also the time I was trying to clean up the living room to make it look presentable and banishing my dogs to the second-floor bedroom.

I leafed through my dusty memory for the recipe for chicken that’s tender and bursting with citrusy freshness on the inside while crispy crunchy on the outside.

Here’s how you go about it, in case you are in a bind with company coming over for dinner in, say, two hours’ time. Otherwise, you can marinate the chicken overnight, omitting the precooking process.

Take 12 slices of chicken thighs and/or drumsticks. Precook in a pot of water but don’t overdo the boiling; just be sure that the bloodiness is gone and the flesh is still intact and not falling off the bone and your chicken’s good to go. Drain and set aside while you prepare the marinade.

In a deep bowl, drop five finely chopped garlic cloves and one teaspoon of ground pepper in half a cup of Worcestershire sauce, two cups of soy sauce, one-fourth cup of calamansi juice, and two tablespoons of brown sugar. Mix under brown sugar is dissolved. Place chicken; make sure that each slice is well immersed in the marinade. Cover and place in the refrigerator for an hour or two, agitating or turning once in a while to get an even coating.

When the time’s up, drain the chicken and save the liquid. Ensure that the slices are dry enough for the coating. You don’t want to end up with a gooey mess that absorbs more oil that all those high-tech equipment corporations are using to clean up their oil spills in oceans all over the world.

For the coating, you need a cup of flour, no sifting necessary. Place in a plastic bag together with two teaspooons of ground pepper, two teaspoons of chili pepper (optional), a couple of teaspoons salt, and two tablespoons of powdered milk. No, breastmilk cannot be a substitute.

Drop the chicken pieces, one piece at a time, into the flour bag. Shake for an even coat.

Heat oil (deep-frying measure) in pan, and when the temperature is right, drop, again, one piece at a time, the chicken pieces into the pan. Make sure that the pan does not get crowded. Brown chicken on both sides, about three minutes each side. Take out from pan and lay on paper towels to drain off excess oil. Do likewise to remaining chicken pieces. (Take your time here, as the guests will still have to settle down after exploring items of interest all over your house. The smell of cooking food is an assurance that they will be fed in good time, so they would not worry that you are not there to entertain them as they try to figure out your toenail collection.)

Serve with hot rice or mashed potato and gravy.

Remember the marinade? You can boil a cup of it to serve as dipping sauce, replacing the ketchup or gravy.

Bon appetit.

An Update from the Cave

Just so the public may know, I am on the way to recovering my equilibrium. In my latest trip to and from my beloved tropical jungle home to visit my tribe and procure neccessities for my cave near the  Shoe Factory, I did manage to lug the following down from the mountains:

  • a bagful of books, mostly of the spy thriller variety cooked up by Mr. Ludlum
  • a guide to being a tightwad, The Tightwad Gazette II
  • an old issue of Vogue
  • four dictionaries: regular English, mispronounced and misused words, American slang, and Oxford’s dictionary on euphemisms. Why four? Honestly, I don’t know
  • a batik painting from my beloved uncle Zio
  • a table cloth
  • clothes hangers
  • masking tape
  • thumbtacks
  • scarves. For what is a world without scarves?
  • empty chocolate tin cans for my sugar and coffee.

The sight of familiar things really did wonders to my flagging sanity. I found out that I can again smile upon waking up.

Things are shaping up rather nicely.

I shall be using my spare time to blog and practice Haitian voodoo.

[Note to self: Bring sewing kit next time around.]

A Sore Monday

I am thinking of ways by which to dominate the world while a bag of newly purchased groceries is wedged between my feet, for fear that I’d forget and just leave my week’s ration of noodles and, hoohay something new!, instant curly spaghetti and no-cook just-add-boiling-water soup on the internet cafe floor when I get up and go home. Mmmmm! My jaded salivary glands just water at the thought of another MSG and sodium overload.

Apologies to all who drop by and see that I haven’t written anything insane for some time now. There’s the situation in The Shoe Factory, where everything passes through the newly installed pirated version firewall. The fear of being suspended from work for three to five days without pay grips my heart each time I key in www in the address bar of my browser. IT’S THAT BAD, boys and girls! Someday, furtive glances would not be allowed anymore, and we elves will be required to look each other squarely in the eye so that the Host of Unimaginative Shoemakers are assured that we are not cooking up ways of dominating the world while stuck for a quarter of the day in the dreariness of the factory and that our glances mean nothing else than attempts at flirting with the cute guy two rows away. Sorry. I must recant that. But then again, dang and tarnation! I do blog in the office… sometimes. And another thing is that I am still feeling wretched and lonely that I can’t bring my carcass out of coma to head off to an internet cafe with a bit of decent connection. I can’t, really can’t.

But something has got to give. Addictions are really hard to banish, so says a crack peddler to his new protege. I’m here now, clacking away like a deranged… clacker.

This is how it came to be:

I finally escaped the suffocating heat of my boarding room and rode the mini-jeep (I shall not call it easyride too often, as the word conjures images of highly impregnable females in my already malicious mind) to the city after rolling around in the upper deck that I’ve transformed into bed and getting nothing out of it except the feeling that I am a limpid lumpiang sariwa drenched in garlic sauce.

In the city, I marvelled at the pace of everything… fast, blurred, and confused. People wore confused expressions on their faces. Or is it just me? It’s been three solid weeks since I walked around the downtown area and mingled with my fellow mortals. To acclimatize myself, I ate in my favorite carinderia while on half a shoestring budget and then proceeded to the grocery to stock up on semi-eatables for my daily subsistence in the boarding house.

Some people might think that I suffer needlessly from my diet of noodles and other curlicued carbohydrates and that I have a choice between eating a freshly cooked meal or bomb my system with all that sodium and gunk. Yeah. Let’s just say that I am a masochist.

After getting my groceries, the afternoon sun’s still high overhead. I’m loath to go back to the boarding house this early and was wondering if it would do me good to hang out by the boulevard. The last time I did, I got propositioned by a desperate soul for a two-hour stint in a nearby hotel/motel. I told the poor guy my sores* were still raw and I was off duty that day. I opted to stroll and window shop this time.

So walk I did. Then I came by rows and rows of internet cafe offering promos for their per-hour computer rental. Alrightee. The addiction has to be fed.

Here’s where I am right now. This is NOT in the office, that’s for sure.

And about my plan for world domination? I’ll keep it to myself. But it does begin with cartons upon cartons of instant pancit canton being unloaded on the docks of major city ports all over the globe.


*Kidding about the sores. Ask my physician.