Archive for August, 2014



On my way to work today, I saw a 15-foot billboard of the Mandaluyong City Ordinance against riding-in-tandem. Riding in tandem is the Filipino equivalent of a drive-by.

The said ordinance prohibits two males from riding the same motorcycle together, unless they are father and son. It sounds absurd, but wait till you see the pictures.

I remarked on the billboard and the taxi driver weighed in… (I’m paraphrasing)

He explained how terrible the problem of riding-in-tandem is. His neighbor, who was having coffee in front of his house one morning was shot 10 times on the head and face by two armed men on a motorcycle.

The two strangers rode up to the front of the house asked the neighbor what his name was and bang– (times ten)

Wait, there’s more…

The motive? The men were hired by a trader from whom the victim owed 8 sacks of charcoal. (that’s Php1,200/$30+) It’s so fascinating how some people can so arbitrarily assign a value on someone’s life. And because they do, seemingly absurd solutions turn into City Ordinances.

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Was it right over left or the other way around? He clutched one hand with the other over the unmoving chest— it doesn’t matter, just pump the shit out of it.

One, two, three, four… he should have paid more attention, but there’s no use arguing with himself about it now. Man, if this worked, he’d be a hero. If it didn’t—

Two days ago, in the toilet, he was just imagining this exact same scenario. If he did die, would he feel anything? Maybe regret. Maybe frustration that he didn’t feel the feelings one does in the situation. Definitely guilt.

Has he succeeded in completely numbing himself? Does that make him a terrible person? Less human? But, he shed a tear with that slightly forgettable advert, out of the blue. Why don’t the feelings ever come at the exact moment they’re supposed to?

He checks for a pulse, pinches his nails to check for circulation. Was it appropriate to say “hey, hey, are you okay?” It just seemed awkward.

How long has he been unconscious anyway? Not so he can gauge the chances of resuscitation but because he wanted to make sure it was acceptable to stop trying.

What went on in his mind was not a feeling of sadness, or fear, or helplessness. It was a familiar non-feeling. It was an awareness that something was absent- a something that did not leave a hole, but would have made the moment richer, or more important.

It was this awareness that kept him within bounds. That kept him from crossing over into the region of social disorder.

He went through the motions automatically. He didn’t realize that there was a faint beating where his fingertips touched his wrists and the color on his lips moved from purple to blush.

Then suddenly- he gasped for air, then coughing and then tears. His hands clutched him and he held out his arms, cradling him as he should.

“I thought I had lost you.”

“I felt my life passing before me.”

“I wouldn’t know what to do if you didn’t come to.”

“But I did. I’m here now. I love you.”

“Sure.”