Saturday, February 23, 2013

Fisherboy (3 of 11)

 2Rivers Feb 23 to March 1

Fisherboy: Imaginarily Directed By Ishmael Bernal
A Story by Jonathan Aquino (3 of 11)

Sunlight was pouring through the grills behind the open capiz windows. The sounds of jeepneys and tricycles outside filled the room. Jay was standing in the kitchen, wearing black shorts and a basketball jersey. He was staring at the kettle like a victim of a carnival hypnotist. He shook his head, regaining his senses, as he heard footsteps.
"Good morning, Jay!" Prudy said cheerfully, coming down the stairs in a latte-colored bathrobe.
"Good morning, sir," the boy mumbled. At the moment, the kettle whistled.
"Oh, you made breakfast!" Prudy exclaimed, pleased. "Wow! But where did you get the bread?"
"I found it in the fridge," said Jake, strangely inanimate, pouring hot water into a mug. "Half a loaf of Tasty." He suddenly stopped. "I hope you don't mind," he said, alarmed.
"No, no, this is perfect!" said Prudy! "I like my eggs scrambled!" He sat down. "Oh, yeah, I remember! I made tuna sandwiches yesterday! Come on, let's eat!"
"I'm not hungry, sir," said Jay, bringing him the steaming brown coffee. He seemed fascinated by the light-blue patterns on the linoleum floor.
"Why? Are you ill?" Prudy asked, concerned.
Then it dawned on him, an epiphany like a thunderbolt.
"Oh, my God! Jake, come here!"
The boy approached, reluctant but submissive.
Prudy put his hands on the boy's shoulders. "Jake, look at me," he said. Serious. "Is it because of what happened last night?"
"It's your first time, right?”
"Sir?"The boy was startled.
"Look, Jay," said the old bachelor. "I'm really sorry."
The boy fidgeted. "It's just that..."
"Are you mad at me?" Prudy asked anxiously.
Jay seemed to be actually thinking about it. Slowly, he shook his head.
            "You're too young to understand," Prudy said with an air of sorrow. "But I can promise this! You live with me now! You don't have to live in the streets anymore! 

A sparrow flew over South Cemetery. Prudy and Jay were surrounded by the dead as they navigate their way around the tombs. The sun was pale, as if a reminder that its light will, someday, die too.
"Here we are, Jay," said Prudy, stopping before a solitary tomb. He sighed. “This is Arman.”
            Jay put the flowers on the tomb reverently. He began to light the large candle he was carrying. A tiny flame came alive.
"He was only fifteen," Jay said softly, looking at the tombstone. "Just like me..."
"Would you like to see his picture?" Prudy asked hesitantly.
Jay nodded.
Slowly, Prudy took out his wallet and opened it. He handed it to Jay.
The boy looked at the photo. He shivered as he gave the wallet back. He sighed, looking at Arman's tomb.
"He looked just like me."
"The first time I saw you..." Prudy can't find the words.
Jay was contemplating the marble tombstone.
"What happened to him?"
Prudy shook his head. "There was a street rumble," he said, painful memories etched on his face.
 Jay would look at him, then at the tomb, then him again.
 "He fell with a street fraternity," Prudy continued. Suddenly, he felt very weak. He sat on a grave marker.
Jay waited, his fingers running lightly on the smooth surface of Arman's tomb.
"I told him many times to stay away from them," Prudy continued, looking at the statue of an angel standing over a grave, weeds growing around it. "I learned too late that he hasn't been going to school for months. He got kicked out. Then he began to spend most of his time at the gang's hangout in Baseco. into drugs." Prudy began to cry.
Jay went over and put his hand on the old man's shoulder, looking down with growing understanding.
"Arman was a good boy," said Prudy, voice chocking with tears. "An affectionate, thoughtful, intelligent boy! He loved to read. Those pocketbooks in the house? They're all his..."
 Jay sat on his ankle and put his arm around the old man.
"It's been three years!" cried Prudy. "Oh, God, Jay, I miss him so much!"
"Don't worry," said Jay, "I'm here and I won't leave you!"
"Thank you, Jay!" said Prudy, hugging him. "Thank you!" He wiped his tears and sniffed.
 Jay smiled as the old man ruffled his hair fondly.
"You know," said Prudy, "Arman used to call me Tsong." He chuckled. "I found it really corny," he continued, smiling at the memory. "But I would be really be happy if you call me that, Jay!"
The boy laughed. "Okay, Tsong!" he said, returning the old man's embrace for the first time.

To Be Continued Next Saturday Night On The 2Rivers Saturday Evening Posts

(Photo courtesy of

From The Journal of Jonathan Aquino aka Huggybear

Feb. 25, 2013
11:18 p.m., Monday

My last night in Pooc, Talisay in Cebu. Typing this on the guestroom, waiting for
sleep. Tired, long travel from work in Lahug City. Will move there tomorrow. Just
had dinner. On the way in Tabunok, I bought a P10 porkchop and "puso" (pronounced
pu-SO), locally cooked rice wrapped in coconut leaves the size of pingpong balls,
3 for P10. But my favorite is "humba," a local pork dish that's like adobo and
paksiw combined. Speaking of food, I learned that "inasal," which is a popular
term in Manila, is just the Visayan word for "lechon" (roasted)

Today is the start of my third week in Cebu. I have neglected my diary for the
past weeks. I need to organize my thoughts and write down my adventures and
lessons learned in my journey. Will do that this weekend. I have painful
experiences but I don't want to be too detailed, but at the same I have to leave
a record or else I would regret taking for granted a significant event in my
life. My FB post earlier this week says it all: "Since I came here, I had
semi-new experiences that I swear to God will never happen again."

I am thinking: here in Cebu I have a beach in Talisay where I can swim for free;
a mountain hang-out in Lahug with a breath-taking view of the city; a jogging
lane at the I.T. Park; a decent gym with very affordable membership. Another
hang-out is the public library near the Capitol with nearly all the books I've
always wanted to read. I like my new company. I have more reasons to stay. When I
become eligible for vacation leaves, that's when I could travel to Bohol, Davao,
Thailand, Peru, Australia or any other place. Cebu will be my homebase

But I won't be here forever

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Fisherboy (2 of 11)

2Rivers February 16-22 
Fisherboy: Imaginarily Directed By Ishmael Bernal
A Story by Jonathan Aquino (2 of 11)

"My golly, you're so young!"
"I'll be sixteen in January!"
"It's only March so that's next year!"
"But I really need a job, ma'am," the boy implored. "Please, even for just a couple of days!"
"Hmmm." Maxima liked the boy. But for all she knew about him, he could have come from outer space. "Do you have an NBI Clearance?" she asked. "Biodata?"
"Uh, no."
"Now what?"
"Don't worry, ma'am," Jay assured her. "You will hold the cashbox--"
"I like the sound of that!" Maxima said merrily. "Some people call this a portable plastic toilet!"
"I'll do everything!" promised Jay. "I'll carry the deliveries, I'll call the customers, clean the store, everything! You won't have to do anything except sit down and take the payments!"
"I'm now the Doña!" Maxima beamed. "It's me!"
She turned to Jay. "Alright, I'll take you - but! Only for one week, okay?"
"Gosh, thank you Aling Max!" the boy whooped happily.

I'm very lucky to be working for Aling Max, wrote Jay in his diary three days later. "She is super kind. She doesn't snoop about my personal life. But she always give me advice. She treats like a son than a houseboy.

"Jay," said Maxima the next night. "It's nearly 9 o'clock. We can close the store now."
"Shall I get more carrots tomorrow, Aling Max?" said Jay, starting to put up the plywood boards. "There's still a lot left."
            "Not yet," replied Maxima. "My kumpare delivers to me every Sunday. He's from Bukidnoon, goes to Manila once a week.
"I don't have to get vegetables tomorrow?"
"We still have enough," said Maxima.
"Wait, Baguio beans, onions, yup! We'll just get them from my kumpare."
"Okay," said the boy. "Oh, by the way, Aling Max? I heard you talking with your niece on the phone earlier."
"Ah, yeah," said Maxima. "Iya will be arriving this Tuesday. She was asking what I want her to bring. I told her she doesn't have to bring me anything, just as long as she doesn't give me aggravation! Hehehe!
Jay laughed but still felt anxious. "Uh..."
"Oh, son, I know what you're thinking," consoled Maxima. "Actually, I've been asking around if anybody knows somebody who needs a houseboy or a stay-in helper. Don't worry," she promised. "I won't let you go back to the streets!"

That Sunday, Maxima was pleasantly surprised when one of her regular customers dropped by. "Oy, Mang Prudy!" she exclaimed."Long time no see!"

            "Hello, Maxima!" smiled Prudy, who looks like Dolphy. "Well, you know my work, always back and forth from Manila to Bicol. Trip can be tiring!"

            "Not only that!" declared Maxima. "I bet you're growing gills from all that fish you're delivering!"
            "True, true!"
"Perfect timing!" said Maxima proudly. "All the vegetables in front of you are all fresh! They just arrived today! What are you planning to eat? Pork sinigang? Beef nilaga? Chicken afritada?"
"Oh, dear, my doctor has ordered me to cut down on meat," said Prudy in a wistful tone. "Just give me all I need to make chopsuey! By the way," he added, "looks like you have a new assistant!"
"Oh, this is Jay!" smiled Maxima. "He's helping me until my niece arrives day after tomorrow!"
"From where?"
"From our province, Aparri."
"No, I meant Jay!"
"Ah! Well, Marikina! You don't happen to need an assistant delivery boy, do you, Mang Prudy?" Maxima asked hopefully.
"Well," said Prudy. "Matter of fact, I do!"

That's when I met Mang Pruding," Jay wrote in his diary that night. He's like Aling Max, fun to be with and not pretentious, even if they are already successful in life. They are very different from most people I've met. Thank you Father God!

Tuesday came along with Maxima's niece, Iya. It was time for Jay to leave, and Prudy was there to take him away to a new life.
"Jay, you be good, okay?" said a sniffling Maxima. "Don't let me down!"
"Promise, I won't!"
"You won't be good?!"
"Oh, Aling Max!"
"First time I saw Jay," Prudy told Maxima, "I already knew he's a good person. I'm very sharp in discerning character."
"You know, Mang Prudy," said Maxima, "I do believe that this boy will go a long way!"
"Farther than Bicol," Prudy deadpanned. "Well, Jay, ready to go?"
"I'm ready, Mang Prudy," he replied. He turned to the woman. "Aling Max..."
"Oy, oy, oy, don't you dare cry!" she warned jokingly. "I might cry too, and that will ruin my make-up!"
"Thank you," said Jay softly, laughing while holding back the tears. "Thank you..."
"Don't worry, Jay," Prudy assured him. "We'll always drop by here when we deliver fish."
"Oh, look, you made me cry!" wailed Maxima.
"Can't blame you, Maxima," said Pruding. "I feel it's very easy to love Jay."
"I don't understand it, Mang Pruding," said the crying Maxima. "Jay has been with me for only a few days but I've grown to love this little rascal! Come here boy, give me a hug! Okay, that's enough, I hate melodramas! Next time you visit, bring me some talakitok, okay? We'll cook it in coconut milk!"

Jay and Prudy rode a jeepney and got down in another part of the city.
"Let's eat at my friend's restaurant," said Pruding.
            "What's this place, Mang Prudy," asked Jay, looking up at the elevated railway.
"This is Santa Cruz," replied Pruding, settling down at a table in one of the open air restaurants. "Those stairs lead up to LRT, Carriedo station."
"I've never rode the LRT," said the boy.
"I'll take you around the city one of these days."
"Really, sir?"
"Just do everything I say."
"Yes, sir."
            "Everything, sir!" the boy promised. "Just say the word!"
"I'll remember that," Prudy said cryptically. "Hi, Wilson!"
" Prudy " greeted Wilson cheerfully. "Long time!" He looks like Tony Mabesa in Ploning.

"Wilson and I have been friends for a long time, Jay," Prudy told the boy.
"Good afternoon, sir!"
"Oh, polite!" Wilson exclaimed pleasantly, as if used to barbarians. "Not like the one you brought last time," he told Prudy.
            "Wilson!" said Pruding in a tone that means, "Zip your trap!"
"Hi Jay," said Wilson pleasantly. "How old are you?"
"Fifteen, sir!"
"Ah," Wilson said triumphantly. "Well, anyway! Yeah, Prudy and I go a long way back. We were classmates at Sineng Kayumanggi in Mehan Garden!"
"What's that, sir?" Jay asked. "A school?"
"Oh, long story," said Prudy, changing the topic nonchalantly. "What do you want to eat, what's your favorite ulam?"
"I eat anything, sir," said Jay. "Oh!" a thought struck him. "Except ampalaya!"
"Taste my chopsuey, Jay," Wilson recommended. "And by the way, Mehan Garden is not a school!"

To Be Continued Next Saturday Night On The 2Rivers Saturday Evening Posts

(Photos courtesy of,,

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Fisherboy (1 of 11)

2Rivers February 9-15

Fisherboy: Imaginarily Directed By Ishmael Bernal
A Short Novel by Jonathan Aquino

The sun was playing hide-and-seek in the gliding clouds above Divisoria. The sprawling market was bustling with people like a town celebrating the fiesta. A vegetable vendor in one of stalls near the sidewalk was calling out to customers.

 "Hey, suki, you can be sure, vegetables are always fresh!" said Maxima, who looks like Gina Pareño in Kubrador

A young Indian guy was in his daily round to collect debts. "You're really one of a kind, Aling Maxima," he said admiringly as he parked his scooter. "You sound like a drugstore!"

"Patel," said Maxima maternally, "if you just eat more vegetables, then you won't need medicines!"

"You look happy today!" said Patel, who looks like Sam YG

"And since when did you see me look like a witch, aber?" replied Maxima gaily. "Besides, today's my last payment to you! Here, it's three hundred, right?"

"Thank you," said Patel, accepting the money. "Another loan?"

"I've just paid my debt and you want me to get another one?" 

"Nothing wrong with borrowing money," said Patel with conviction. "As long as you pay it, of course!"

"Marketing guru!" 

"Want a DVD player?" asked the young businessman. "Only 500!"

"It's only 500 but that's 500 everyday!" replied Maxima. "Hello!" 

"It's called installment!" 

"Can you make it consignment?" kidded Maxima. "I'll return it after my movie marathon!"

"I really like talking to you, Aling Maxima," said Patel, laughing. 

"Like?" said Maxima. "What am I, Facebook?" 

Later that day, a young boy who looks like Jake Vargas in Tween Academy approached the stall.    

"Good afternoon, ma'am," he said politely. "I'm sorry to bother you, but I'm looking for a job. My name is Jay. Uh, I noticed that you don't have any helpers, so I would like to apply."

"Gee, son, but my niece is coming next week," said Maxima, feeling sorry for the boy. 

"Oh," said Jay, crestfallen. "I see." Then a thought struck him. "Well, she won't be here until next week. Maybe I could work for you for even just a couple of days." 

And before she could reply, he added, "Please?" 

"Have you tried others?"

"I've been around the entire market," said Jay matter-of-factly. "All the canteens, hardwares, even the ice factory and the slaughterhouse!" 

"Where do you live?" 

"Uh, Marikina."

"So what are you doing in Manila?" 

"Oh, I went to somebody I know in Juan Luna," the boy explained. "But he gave me a wrong address." 

"Then why not go home?" 

"Well, the truth is, I came to Manila to find work." 

"How old are you, anyhow?" 


To Be Continued Next Saturday Night On The 2Rivers Saturday Evening Posts

(Photos courtesy of,,,

Saturday, February 02, 2013

February 2-8

On Chink Positive: Through the years, my Sunday evening habit if I'm awake and at home is tuning in to Inner Mind. Also for months now, my Sunday mornings would start with Chink Positive.. As I write this on Jan. 30, 2013, my entire life is about to change drastically. Again. I may not be able to tune in regularly, like what happened when I couldn't listen to the radio broadcasts of Charles Morris and Chuck Swindoll anymore. Here are some of the lessons I got in my continuously improving life: Investment is spending to get a profit. If you buy a vintage car and sell it a higher price, that's investment; if you have no intention of selling it, that's not investment: it's acquisition. Chink is preparing a marathon seminar on the success secrets of Chinese-Filipino business titans, all of whom show a common admirable trait: humility. Here is one: Never invest out of ignorance, greed and fear. To focus your life: Ask: What do I want? How do I get it? Why do I want it? WHAT, HOW and WHY

On Martilyo Gang: A group of thieves broke into a jewelry store inside SM Megamall some days ago. Apparently, they bought a hammer from a hardware shop inside, which they use to smash the glass cases. The police, with their media-oriented knee-jerks, called them the Martilyo (Hammer) Gang, a generic name for all syndicate groups with the same modus. Public outcry, naturally. Knowing the culture, I'm not surprised by level-up self-righteous condemnation. Some blame the security guards. So the next episode is the inevitable power-tripping of the guards. It's a cycle. All the public criticisms will not stop thieves. There are no winners here, just more victims: the mall-going public. The only deterrent to crime is swift detection and capture. But the guards will be busy harassing innocent customers, treating them as potential thieves. Expect SM to become hostile to customers like paranoid Puregold

On Sean Connery: I love Sean Connery. One of the earliest movies I've seen as a kid was Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade. I felt he was really special, from there to Highlander (watch here the FULL MOVIE)  to The Hunt For Red October, to The Medicine Man, to The Rock, to Entrapment, to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and to Finding Forrester. He is actually one of the first people who I looked up to as a father figure, imagining that my real dad, if he was alive, would have been like him 

See the special Huggybear story on Finding Forrester

On Marco Polo: I don't care if everybody else wants to be Alexander The Great. I still remain like Marco Polo. And not even Kublai Khan can tell me what to do with my life. This is a metaphor, on the level of Ideas, not People. But I can imagine some insecure people will get paranoid. What do they think of me, thinking of them? I find it bemusing that there's a lot of those who pathetically keep overestimating their importance, as if they're the center of other people's lives

On Lou Salvador Jr: My beloved late grandmother once told me that my father looked like the 50s matinee idol Lou Salvador Jr., known as The James Dean of the Philippines. Wow! Even more important, my father was a decent man, who had a "ginintuang puso (a golden heart)." I'm proud of my dad, and of course, my mom. My parents died when I was a baby so I never knew them. I just hope that, if they can see me now, they would be proud of me too 

Watch full the Lou Salvador Jr movie Faithful here on 2Rivers

Heart of Gold by Neil Young 

"If you can see me now..." 

Loving Arms
Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge 

On Bill Murray: "A rolling stone gathers no moss." WHO. NEEDS. MOSS? That was my Facebook mobile post last Jan 29. It reminds me of Bill Murray. I really admire that guy. I read in a Time article that people were telling him to compromise to get more film assignments. You attract more flies with honey than with vinegar, they said. He replied, in his famous deadpan: "Who. Needs. Flies?" His artistic integrity remains inviolate because of his total lack of interest in sucking up to people. That's what led him to landmark films like Lost In Translation that earned him the respect of fellow artists and independent-minded people. Huggybear’s favorite Bill Murray movies are Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day

From The Journal of Jonathan Aquino aka Huggybear

January 21, 2013 
9:30 a.m., Monday 

Someone just told me I'm a young man in a hurry. Zoom! My off-work weekends are sacred to me: they're the only time I can pursue my real passion, which is writing, and other personal stuff, like my studies, and also, with the help of Tony Robbins, (See Huggybear's Virtual Life Coach), fine-tuning my mindset and strategies to achieve my goals. I'm getting results too! 

I go the extra mile to maximize every moment by focusing on my priorities. Sometimes it would take time before I can reply to non-emergency text messages because I seldom get SMS prepaid load, always regular load to send MMS which would be consumed immediately. Some people label me as a Type A personality: always on the go, always on the rush 

That's weird because I'm more of the hippie, bohemian artist type, like the characters in Rent, my favorite Hollywood movie. And yes: 

"No other road, 
no other way, 

For me, its not so much as being in a hurry as making up for lost time. I would do things I have to do as fast and as efficiently as I can, so I could do the things I WANT to do with a chillaxed, creative mind. I'm doing now a lot of things I should have done before, but I was then learning lifelong lessons and undergoing experiences that made me a better person. 

So "all in all, I've no regrets," as Tiffany sings in All This Time

"The sun still shines, 
the sun still sets; 
and the heart forgives, 
the heart forgets..." 

One thing I make it a point to avoid taking for granted is my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I'm not holier-than-thou and I admit I had my share of casual sex with strangers. So I don't label myself as a Christian but unlike some religious people I've encountered, I'm not self-righteous. I don't go to Mass but I go to churches when there's none, like in this photo I took of Santa Cruz in Manila in January

I pray almost all the time, for thanksgiving and kinda just checking in, even when I'm drinking coffee while having a cigarette alone, like telepathically talking to a respected friend, a mentor.  I'm more at peace with spontaneously praying with my heart even without the words, rather than praying with memorized words but with an empty heart

About Huggybear’s photo: 

Taken December 2, 2012, in Quirino Avenue, in Manila, where I used to live. It's across the bus stop of the busses going to Naic, where I'd get in when I go to Tanza, and General Trias, in Cavite, where I both also used to live. Reminds me of Carole King: 

"So far away, 
doesn't anybody 
stay in one place anymore..."