Monday, February 27, 2006

Barako Café

Since my colleagues on this blog have been inactive for some time now, I'd like to interrupt the Lola series to announce that my new blog--with my original and live journal archives--is up and running.

Please visit Barako Café.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Storybook 1: Lola's Revenge, Part 12

Continued from here.

While Juan was spying on his Lola, the old but definitely sexy toothless lady entered the house of her dapper neighbor. “Dap-py,” she sang out, “I’m heeeere.

But there was no answer. “Daps?” Lola cooed. She entered the kitchen and saw the dinner that her neighbor was preparing for tonight: steamed mountain rice and a platter of longganisang Lukban. “Oooh, sausage!” Lola squealed – and then realized, suddenly, that she was all alone in the house.

Where was Dappy?

She decided to quickly look around the house. Now was her chance to get at this guy’s tampipi. Copying and pasting heavily from Juan’s friend Northeast Sky, Lola:

“went to her neighbor's bedroom, went down on her knees, and reached for the tampipi under the bed. It was heavier than she thought. So now, there it was. She cradled the container on her knees, but hesitated. Should she do it? Should she open it and look at what was inside?”

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Storybook 1: Lola's Revenge, Part 11

Continued from here.

a bulging sack cloth bag that had been forced to fit into the tampipi. Underneath the sack, Juan could see what he thought must be a notebook.

Juan lifted the heavy sack out of the tampipi. When he loosened the rope tying it closed, he reached inside and pulled out a handful of old teeth. Each tooth had a sizeable gold filling that glittered at him.

He felt his lunch rising from his stomach. Juan put the teeth back in the sack and reached for the notebook. It was a ledger with page after page of names of men, and next to the names a single-digit number. My god, he thought, Lola is a real for sure gold digger!

Juan threw the sack and notebook back in the tampipi and ran out of the house. He had to warn their dapper neighbor. He had to stop Lola!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Storybook I: Lola's Revenge, Part 10

Continued from here.

And so, after spritzing herself with an old perfume that made Juan's eyes water, the old lady went to their neighbor's house. She was determined to get at the old man's tampipi.

Juan, on the other hand, also had a plan. While his lola was getting at the old man's tampipi, he would also get his hands on her tampipi.

He went to her room, went down on his knees, and reached for it under the bed. It was heavier than he thought. So now, there it was. He cradled the container on his knees, but hesitated. Should he do it? Should he open it and look at what was inside? His lola had always told him not to, that he was not ready for what was inside. He was never even really curious about it. Except now.

He took a deep breath and lifted the cover. He saw

Storybook I: Lola's Revenge, Part 9

Continued from here.

"So it's his treasure you're after, 'La, not his body. Come to think of it, he is skinnyassed. Not your type, no?"

"My dentures are porcelain, I deserve a better man," sniffed Lola. "Besides, I'm really after his tampipi. I've seen him lugging it around. I'm sure that's where he hides his treasure."

"Shall I find out for you, Lola?" Juan was pleased that he could be of help to his Lola.

"No, no, no!" The porcelain had started to click again. "I don't want you to grow up a thief, a cheat, and a liar. Why do you think I'm all dressed up when I should be dressing down in this miserable heat?"

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Storybook I: Lola's Revenge, Part 8

Continued from here.

hesitated. “What is it?” Lola demanded.

“’La, aren’t you a bit… old na po for this dating game?”

“What? Aba, kapalmuks ka! Who says I’m old?” the old, old lady said.

“Northeast Sky told me you’re way past 80, Lola. I'm just worried you'll get hurt.”

“And who is this Northeast Sky?”

“She’s my American Indian friend who lives two streets away. Daughter of Manang Littlefeather and Manong Dances with Wolves.”

“Oh, that Northeast Sky. Hmph! Don’t you pay her any mind, young boy. She’s got a wild imagination. Just likes to make up stories.”

“So you’re not way past eighty, then, Lola?”

“What if I am? Can't I try to find happiness?” Lola gritted her false teeth. “See, Juan, our handsome dapper neighbor is my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.”

Juan cringed at the cliché, but managed to ask, “You in love with him, Lola?”

“Sssshhh! Dapper neighbor,” Lola whispered, raising a finger to her lips, “hunts treasures in his spare time. So yeah, I may be old, but my mind’s still sharp as a, uhmmm, a -- oh, a Japanese sword.”

Storybook I: Lola's Revenge, Part 7

Continued from here.

After all, the most expensive thing he'd ever pulled was the diamond ring, and that wasn't such a big deal. He knew it was time to move on, but how could he when he still hadn't gotten over his guilt over what he did to Lola all those years ago? She had never forgiven him for that.

It was a summer afternoon and she'd just finished another rant about Japanese treasure when their next door neighbor, a handsome dapper old man, called. He asked her over for some tea, and that got her all worked up. She spent all of thirty minutes cleaning her dentures, making sure her smile would be sparkling, porcelain white. She pressed her best floral dress, took out a new pair of support hose, shined her black orthopedic shoes. When she'd put all that together-- teeth, dress, stockings, pumps--that's when he did it.

He stood in front of her and said, "'La?"

"Yes, Juan?" She was beaming.


Thursday, December 08, 2005

Storybook I: Lola's Revenge, Part 6

Continued from here.

cannons. She also talked about her Japanese lover during the war and about some hidden treasure. He winced at the memory. He remembered how she would shake him and insist that he find the gold before the others did. He never believed her, of course. By that time, she was past eighty and seemed slightly demented.

"Okay, enough of this," he muttered to himself. The Christmas crowd in Cubao was becoming unbearable. He and Gretchen were supposed to have dinner in a restaurant there, but now that Gretchen had left him, he didn't know what to do with himself.

He started walking towards a cheap noodle place, thinking he would have an early dinner by himself and then just go home. There was a jewelry store beside it and an old, bald man was looking at the glass display case. Very gently, he swiped the man's wallet and walked away. Sitting in the noodle house, he examined the wallet: some pictures, bus tickets, calling cards, P625. Not bad for a five-second job.

But he was bored. He had been doing this for too long, these small-time jobs. He was very good at it, but it seemed time to do something else.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Storybook I: Lola's Revenge, Part 5

Continued from here.

Hmmm, now that was a thought. A Japanese sword -- he'd always wanted one. But then those things cost an arm and a leg (not necessarily chopped off) and how could he afford one? He remembered the diamond ring, felt for it in his pocket. If Gretchen didn't want it, then neither did he.

Once again, another memory: Lola used to talk about weapons a lot -- swords, shotguns, even

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Storybook I: Lola's Revenge, Part 4

Continued from here.

Ouch! He banished an image of Lola, dentures clicking and feather duster flying. She was ancient even then, but she could make the feather duster whistle like a Japanese sword.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Storybook I: Lola's Revenge, Part 3

Continued from here.

He was 7 years old then and had just swiped and gobbled up his younger sister's share of sumang dapa, when Lola walked in on him and asked, "What did you do to your sister's suman?!?" He had replied, trying to sound innocent, "Suman, 'la? What suman?" Of course, that hadn't worked with the old bag, who pounced on him with a flip flop, all the while screaming, "Liar, cheat, and thief!" As it turned out, he did end up becoming a thief by profession.

But he was no longer a liar, so when Gretchen had asked him, "Where did you get this diamond ring?" He told her: "I stole it." He still couldn't understand why she was so upset. After all, he did tell the truth.

He shrugged his shoulders. He felt he should have been more bothered by Gretchen's departure--she had been fun in bed. But then Lola came to mind. I must be weird, he thought. Lola? Lola?!?

Friday, December 02, 2005

Storybook I: Lola's Revenge, Part 2

"You're a cheat, a liar, and a thief!"

Storybook I: Lola's Revenge, Part 1

Dear reader,

You'll be right if you think this entry isn't finished; in fact, it's just begun and we're hoping it will go a long way, so please bear with us. Secondcup, Northeast Sky, Lukban and yours truly will take turns stretching this story to... well, as far as we can take it. We hope to have fun doing this; we hope you enjoy reading.



THAT'S IT, THEN, the man thought to himself as he watched Gretchen walk away.

“Shit,” he whispered, leaning against the wall. He closed his eyes and struggled to remember something. Hadn’t all this happened before? Had he not, so many years ago, listened to another woman say exactly the same thing as Gretchen just said? Sure, the other woman was his toothless grandmother, whom he would not have kissed with that kind of passion. Still, the words, the accusation, was the same.

His lola had said, all those years ago:

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A memory

Tukod-langit is a kind of leaf vegetable. The name means something like “pillar of heaven” or, less poetically but perhaps more accurately, “support of heaven” in Tagalog. It has beautiful pink, red and brown thin, tubular stems topped with small, dark green leaves. They are, if memory serves me right, about as big as the more common kangkong, and about as firm in texture. Its flavor, however, is sweeter and more delicate. They are cooked in a saute of garlic, onions and fish sauce, and flavored with ripe guavas.

I’ve eaten this dish a few times when I was small. I remember it well because, as a child distrustful of vegetables, its flavor astounded me. It was delicious, and its name, tukod-langit, seemed to fit its sublime flavor and beautiful color. My mother told me that it appeared in the market rarely because it grew in the jungle and could not be cultivated.

After those few times that tukod-langit appeared on our table, I didn’t see it again. My mother said that she could not find it in the market anymore. It has disappeared. Just as the jungle where it grew has probably disappeared, overrun now by a burgeoning population, and just as the old market where my mother bought it seem to be disappearing, swamped now by the malls and oversized grocery stores.

Of course I might be romanticizing this simple vegetable. For all I know, it’s now available in supermarkets, packed in styrofoam trays and sealed in plastic.

Are they?