Monday, October 23, 2023
Thursday, September 21, 2023
"Let's pretend we're on a magic cloud and the sky is an infinite ocean." Sean, my son said.
Wednesday, July 12, 2023
This morning eternity called.
She is waiting for an answer.
I have her on hold.
“Cole, they’re here!” My wife called to me.
I stepped outside the house and saw Ramil pull up in his center car. I knew the pig would be in the back where the passengers usually sit. Ramil pulled up alongside of me and we gave each other our warm wordless greetings.
I walked over to the back of the center car and looked in. There on the floor lying quietly on its side was an adult pig. All four of its legs were firmly bound with twine. I looked at the pig’s face. It was calm. Its eye stared up at nothing. I could see it was breathing but nothing else.
Up front on either side of Ramil were two of his kids, Marisol and Ramil Jr. They both looked back at me, eyes wide with excitement, and then down at the pig.
About then Datu pulled up on his motorcycle and motioned for me to hop on.
“Let’s go.” He said with an easy grin.
I hopped on the back of the bike and we all sped off into the Filipino night.
Is “perfectly good” any more perfect than “perfectly bad?”
I suppose that is a legitimate philosophical question and I presume the answer is “no” but I still find it unsettling. Of course, that’s just the human in me. Always wishing for things to be good. Or at least for things to make sense.
Calbayog City at night is exquisitely chaotic. The dimly lit streets are alive and jammed. Motorcycles, tricycles, hordes of people all crossing the street at once. And noise. Motorcycle engines, blaring horns, music blasting. And smells. The smell of cooking street food. Smoke. Exhaust fumes. Datu’s motorcycle followed closely behind Ramil’s center car with me holding on for dear life.
Shortly Ramil’s center car pulled off the main stretch and turned down a narrow back street. Datu and I followed behind. Halfway down the narrow street the center car turned again into an even narrower alley. We followed again. Tall buildings loomed darkly on either side us. A few windows were lit in yellow light. Presently the alley opened up into a driveway and we pulled in.
I got off the motorcycle and went over to see how the pig was holding up. The kids got out as well and presently a few other people were there milling around speaking Tagalog. I looked down at the pig. It was breathing heavy now and its eye was wide open now. The whites of the eye showed as it looked back at me.
Suddenly the pig tried to run. It thrashed around furiously trying to gallop with its legs bound, squealing loudly. The pig’s outburst made the kids laugh. After a moment the pig quieted down. It lay motionless again with heavy breathing. And wheezing.
Ramil and Datu came over to the car with a couple of men that I didn’t recognize. We all gathered around and looked down at the pig. I noticed that the pig’s underbelly was lined with two rows of large nipples.
“Girl?” I asked, surprised.
“No, boy.” Someone answered.
“But look.” I pointed at the nipples in confusion.
“Boy” They all assured me.
“Transgender.” I joked and everyone laughed.
Except for the pig.
Is “perfectly good” any more perfect than “perfectly bad?”
Personally, I’m going to hold off on answering that question.
I will say this though, if I have learned anything in this life it is that nature is completely indifferent.
I guess that’s also a type of perfect.
The kids moved around to the front of the center car. I joined them to be out of the way as the men got to work.
Several men reached in and grabbed at the pig. The pig screamed and twisted its head around violently as hands grabbed at its legs and tail all pulling hard. The pig’s mouth opened wide showing teeth, and it tried to bite.
“Watch out for those teeth,” I thought but the men were all laughing in the excitement.
After much pulling and fighting the men had the pig up to the edge of the car and then with a final heave the pig fell unceremoniously to the ground.
Quickly the men unbound the pig’s legs and then they tied a single rope to one of the pig’s front ankles.
The pig stood up with the rope tied to its ankle. It looked dazed. The men gathered around the pig talking.
Then one of the men pulled on the rope tied to the pig's ankle and the pig stumbled forward.
I watched in awe.
The man pulled again, and the pig stumbled forward again. This time though the pig recoiled and dug in its front legs and began bellowing loudly.
But the pig's resistance was futile. The man gave another firm pull to the pig’s ankle and again the pig stumble forward. A few more steps. Bellowing and squealing as it was grimly led forward.
And I thought about those trucks, all in a line, filled with Polish prisoners. Traveling slowly through the dark fog, into the Katyn forest.
When the trucks had pulled to a stop the men were led away. One by one. Into the forest. Hands bound behind their backs. Blind folded. Some must have resisted. Some must have yelled.
“Cole.” I looked up.
Datu was motioning for me to come. The pig was being led down a narrow path between two buildings.
I followed behind and watched the pig as it stumbled forward, slowly making its way through the dark narrow, into a yard, where it met its final master. A little girl.
The girl looked like she was about ten and she was standing there waiting for the pig.
The man handed the rope off to the little girl and she began leading the pig toward a little metal cage.
The pig saw the cage and would have nothing to do with it. It turned as if to flee and the little girl hauled off and savagely kicked the pig on its side.
The pig was rightfully shocked and momentarily turned back to the cage but then it turned again and tried to flee and the little girl kicked it again. And then again and again slowly kicking the pig into the little metal cage.
I still have eternity on hold.
I know she’s waiting for me, but I just don’t want to pick up the phone.
I still have some things and honestly, I don’t want to take anything with me.
The next day was my daughter’s birthday.
And the pig’s final appearance.
My daughter is three and it was a gala affair with a freshly roasted pig taking center stage.
And folks, it was delicious. Not gonna lie. A treat really. If you ever have a chance to eat freshly roasted lechon do so. It really is good. And the skin is crispy.
Like super duper bacon.
Peter, the ancient Chinese told us. They told us that the only reason why we have beauty is because we have ugly. Even though it drives us mad, what is, simply is. And try as we might the best we can do is raise a royal middle finger up to God and scream FUCK YOU!
But we all still love beauty.
Calbayog City 2022
Saturday, April 15, 2023
“Odd plus odd equals even." Sean, my son, informed me.
I thought about that for a moment and then Sean added, "And odd plus even equals odd.”
He was building a Legos tower on my desk. We've been learning numbers recently. He continued to look at his Legos tower while he talked.
Odd plus odd equals even... I had never thought about that actually. I gave it a run through in my mind and... he was right. And odd plus even...
“That’s actually true,” I said giving him a sideways look. "Where did you learn that?”
“From Number Blocks.” he said continuing to look at his Legos tower. “This is going to be a masterpiece,” he said with pride.
Have you ever stepped on a Legos piece in the middle of the night? Parents will understand.
“Daddy,” Sean stopped and looked up at me, “Why is Hell bad?”
Oh my, that's going to take some explaining. Where to begin. And what to leave out. I imagined a painting by Hieronymus Bosch and began to formulate my answer.
Then he continued, "You told me that it was OK for me to say, 'What the heck' but that it was bad for me to say, 'What the Hell'. Why is 'Hell' bad?" He looked at me and waited.
I looked back at him with some relief. He meant the word "Hell" not the place "Hell." That's easier. Why is it bad to say the word 'Hell'?
"Well," I started, and drew a blank. I looked up at the ceiling waiting for help.
After a moment Sean said, "Daddy?"
"Yah." I said looking back down at him.
"Do 'Heaven' and 'Hell' sound similar?"
This was getting complicated.
Calbayog City 2023
Calbayog City 2023
Wednesday, March 15, 2023
Saturday, February 4, 2023
Tuesday, January 31, 2023
Hi John and everyone.