Matanglawin Chapter 5


Chapter  5    The  House  of  Gnomes



By cool_ambo


The town fiesta is winding up and so is the procession. It is always the climax of any town fiesta, the procession. Alas for the Parish Priest, this procession had to pass by the House of Gnomes. People are terrified of this house. They would rather avoid it if they could. This procession could not avoid this house. Alas for the Padre Rufino, or Padre Pino for short, for while he does not fear the smell of death itself, he has no gall to hear the sounds coming from this house.


People talk about elfin duwendes frolicking around the house at night; sounds coming from the house as if somebody was being garroted to death, even eaten alive; gnomes kidnapping children to make dolls for the mangkukulam; ogres capturing people to make candles; and elephant-headed people collecting water from the nearby artesian well.  Much talked about is the witch seen flying around when the moon is bright, and tiny little dolls shaking the branches of trees. Anybody that happens  to pass by on the way to town shifts to a hurried walk or to a slow run to get off  the vicinity of this house.


Ric had to stop the jeep to let the procession pass. From this vantage point, the group had a perfect view of the procession, so perfect in fact that Padre Pino’s fear of the house was so obvious. He was so in a hurry that he tripped on a hole on the road, revealing what could have been a  colt .45  holster over a pair of green-striped pj’s under his white habit. Now his reputation in town was like he had a large repertoire of swear words. So this was the perfect opportunity to recite these swear words. And he did so, in litany mode.


Ric turned off the headlights to reduce the glare on the people. The lighted float bearing the statue of the patron Saint toppled over from the same hole on the road, breaking the head off and smashing the little statue of the baby Jesus. After being hastily collected and patched, the float trudged on with the saint’s head askew and a Barbie doll substituted for the baby Jesus.


By just sitting there, the dark House affected everybody’s disposition. In his hurry, the bass drummer bumped the mega-sized tuba player who fell down with the tuba wedged over him. This tuba player was as wide as he was tall so putting him up was like raising a dead horse.


Even more hysterically humorous was what followed afterwards in the floats. The tractor pulling the float that carried the Fiesta Queen and her consort suddenly lurched forward over the cavity on the road, spilling everybody off the float. The Reyna hit the ground butt first with the chair falling on her head. Her consort hit the ground butt-first, too, but his ankle got caught on the float and he got dragged over a distance which was enough to scrape a hole in his pants large enough for his mother to get worried about his virtue.

When the float was put together again, the reyna could not wear the crown well because of the sore lump on her head. She had to wear it sideways, like a jauntily placed beret. She had to give up her sash, or the one with the label “Reyna Ng Pista”, to her consort who wore it to cover the portion of his butt that showed. His ankle was swollen so he had difficulty standing. The reyna had a sore butt, so she had difficulty sitting. At every bump on the road, she had to go on a squatting position to raise her butt off the chair. Her consort had to lift his swollen foot. But after so many bumps both fell in to the rhythm of things. Bump, raise butt, raise foot, drop butt, drop foot. Bump, raise butt, raise foot, drop butt, drop foot. Bump, raise butt………and at every bump, the consort’s bare butt had to peek out from its cover.


At the sight of this humorous dance of pain, the band following the float flipped into hysterics. The trombone player could not find enough wind to blow on his trombone. The flute player could not put his lips together due to a snickering fit. The trumpet players  just could not purse their lips, and when they did, they could blow only fart sounds. The baton twirler just couldn’t twirl. Everybody fell off the road to clutch their bellies and stomped their feet to force out their pent up laughter. The band was scattered all over the place, so they decided to move the float to the last spot of the procession, to the delight of the electric generator servicemen who were actually positioned in that spot.


YES—-people are scared of the House. I would say, though, that it was the House that scared the people. This was  intended as a defense and at that moment I didn’t, wouldn’t say why or how. It succeeded to scare people away, including Ric who, in frightful anticipation of the duwendes, pulled up the driveway a little too fast, scraping the balimbing tree and to stop with a jolt. This brought chidings from Ding regarding Ric’s driving and his “colorum” driver’s license; to which he promptly replied that dissidents like himself are expected to possess nothing more than “colorum” licenses.


As Ding opened the large door(this was seldom locked) and lit kerosene lamps. I helped Perla alight from the jeep and then led her towards a long wooden bench beside a large tailor’s table. On the table were bolts of cloth, scissors and markers. On top the table was crudely-drawn a  five-pointed star which Grandma etched a while back. Ric  ambled in to see shelves all around a wall upon which lie various odd glass containers. They contain dead fetuses, frogs, toads, a brain, kidney small and large intestines all soaked in formalin. And from the ceiling was hung a completely assembled human skeleton which limbs rattle to the touch.


“Spices,” Ding called Ric’s attention to another wall section. On these shelves were dried bat wings, lizard tails, wood bark, dark chicken clotted blood, baby pigeon’s heads, turtle scales, goat hooves, and so forth. I rang the campanilla.The House of Gnomes is actually two separate neighboring houses bridged by a pedway on the second floor. The house we entered is from my mother’s family. The other house, which is on the verge of getting swallowed by vegetation, is from my father’s family. And from that house now came the patter of little feet followed by the shakes of big, heavy feet. Coming through the large door were two freaks. Ric froze.


Abra?”, I asked.

“Wrong again, uncle,” she replied. “I’m Dabra. Abra is behind you.” And sure enough she was there with the  impish grin that make both of these twins lovable. The huge Quasimodo-looking  guy behind Dabra is Ugong, so named because he makes grunting sounds to communicate. He so much  crimped Ric’s disposition that Ric was forced to say goodbye and to leave hurriedly, scraping the statue by the driveway, with Ding’s loud chidings about his driving and his “colorum” license.

(end part 1, to be continude) :lol:

The House of Gnomes

This space is reserved for the House of Gnomes, Chap 5 Matanglawin.

Meantime,    SMILE,

and the Birds will smile with you……….

smiling birds

Witches Are Made…

Witches are made, not born.

and they don’t die, even if they wanted to,

before they have transferred their witchcraft

and their witch lore to someone else.


Hence they are felt around dark, lonely places

under dark, lonely trees

or just seen flying around alone

in half-bodied, frightful forms.


The next post below this  is described as plain as  could be described

the making of a witch, or rather, the transfer of witchcraft

and immortality.




Matanglawin Chapter 5 (The House of Gnomes) is skipped

Mainly because writer’s block has overtaken me. I am stumped

regarding how to present two midgets who are twins, whom

I have named as Abra and Dabra, and whose characters I

really have no idea how two midget women twins would act,

Or react.


Matanglawin Chapter 6 runs at the post below:


Matanglawin Chap 6

M A T A N G L A W I N  by  cool_ambo

Chapter 6Matanglawin

The Doctor Witch


ONCE  AGAIN  I  STEP  INTO  ANDANTE’S  PARLOR,  like a fly stepping into a spider’s web. No fret have I—this is not her parlor. This parlor is mine by inheritance, not hers, not even hers by relation, for she is not even related to me.

My father would have given this parlor to her, nonetheless;  and I would, too, even if my father did not; if only to show my gratitude for the countless times her eye shielded me from the many dangerous firefights I fought in Mindanao, most of which were won by a charge that I led with reckless abandon. Her powers were mainly responsible for my coming out of these fights unscathed. Indeed I would have given her the house if she asked for it, because I really do not need a safe haven anytime she is on my side.

Father made a contract with Andante. In exchange for awarding her the family name plus getting her through a medical course with a doctor’s degree, she would assure that I am safe. This would be a long time assurance for me because these ‘mangkukulams;’ or ‘monks’ for short, do not ever, ever die; unless, of course, their powers  were transferred to a willing recipient who would have been transformed into a new ‘monk’.

Now, my grandmother was reputed to be a ‘monk’ (which is probably the reason why there has been no love lost between the two of us). My mother passed away first. Consequently, before my grandmother can die, somebody has to receive her witchcraft,

meaning me, mostly, or else she would be doomed to roam the earth. Comes now Andante

who has agreed to receive her powers and the immortality that goes with it. In effect, Andante redeemed me from a deathless fate, which was in truth, worse than death.

AND  THERE  AGAIN  I  STAND  AT  WHAT  WAS  ONCE  A  BALLROOM.  It is all dark. The windows are all closed and barred. I see from the candlelight, the winding staircase, the gothic pillars, reproductions of Goya on the wall, Da Vinci, El Greco, Amorsolo and Luna. And shelves, a lot of shelves were added , and on which rest large bottles of deformed fetuses, cancerous livers, frogs,  snakes, and rats swimming in formalin. Also dried komodo tongues, lizard tails, bat wings, barks and herbs and huge facsimiles of human skulls and skeletons that rattled  as they dangle from the ceiling. And that square, tailor’s table etched with a huge pentagram at the center now brings to my mind some reminiscences of Andante, and the ordeal that I helped put her in.

I vividly recall her, oh how could I ever forget Andante in all her nakedness, sprawled in a stupor over this table with my grandmother the monk firing up incense that smelt like ether. The monk, who had me summoned from the adjoining house, suddenly turned to mark a smaller pentagram over my left breast with her fingernail that did not cut but burned through my uniform. She cackled as she did this. I never liked her when she does this cackling sounds. I covered nude Andante with my jacket as the monk pulled out a green empty can of half-and-half pipe tobacco, and took out about eight or ten porous lava rocks the size of marbles. One by one she proceeded to pop these rocks in her mouth and to swish them together with the dried things she was chewing. She pulled out Andante’s tongue and bade me to hold it out while she spat the chewed mush of lava rocks in Andante’s mouth. This gagged Andante. In the next instant, the monk brought out two flat, white oval stones and stuck them between Andante’s  cheeks and teeth. A

pentagram was then etched over her left breast pointed side up, drawing blood in profusion. Andante started trashing from her waist down to her feet which started to bang on the table repeatedly. I shoved a bolt of cloth under her heels to prevent them from fracturing. The monk flung away my jacket that covered Andante, adding that she should be initiated to her domain naked as the day she was born.

After a while, her trashing came in regular intervals, preceded each time by rumblings in her stomach. I had to shove the bolts of cloth under her ankles to those points requiring the buffer. Holding her feet down was useless because she was smeared all over with some greenish, slippery oil. All this time, the monk was mumbling and spraying some smelly liquid on the floor with a dry palm frond. Suddenly, Andante’s lower body stopped trashing and her upper body picked up the shakes. The monk kicked away her slippers to stand barefooted, pinning Andante’s left hand with her right, and Andante’s right hand with her left. I climbed on the table, sat on her belly, and pinned down her left shoulders with my knees and her head with my hands. With a choke, she spat out the pebbles. The monk called for the black duffle bag and slid it whole on Andante, feet first. After I tightened the bag around her neck, I found the monk slumped on the floor, exhausted.

When I came back after a change of clothes. I saw the duffle bag floating in the air with the monk feebly trying to hold it down. Andante was levitating. It appeared that she has defied gravity and is now floating in the air so lightly that the slightest nudge would have sent her flying off. I cut a long strip of cloth from the bolt and anchored the duffle bag a foot away over the table. This was the monk’s last set of instructions to me before she disappeared through a hidden door on the wall.

Pretty soon, a piercing shriek came from Andante. It grew louder and louder until little lightning sparks emanated from her body to touch the ground. The chandelier came crashing down and cracked the ballroom floor. And she came down on the table bodily with a thud.

She woke up an hour later, but before then I took off the duffle bag from her and wrapped her with cloth. Her pentagram was scarred and reddened. Mine was sore. Her left eye turned from blue to black. She got up and walked half-dazed, and began to dance around the floor. That was the most enchanting sight I have ever seen—-Andante in a light blue chiffon wrap, covered with an aura of sparks, dancing around with her feet barely touching the ballroom floor. If ever there were fairy diwatas in this world, I would see Andie as one of them. In this very once in a lifetime moment, I can ignore the dreadful stare from her eye, and drink only of  her graceful levitated turns, and her very intoxicating smile.

End Chapter 6—

(Please do not attempt to duplicate the procedure for transforming  a witch as described here if you are not a professional monk, as amateuristic incantations are  reportedly the causes of these fly-by-night joy rides.)


M a t a n g l a w i n


by cool_amboMatanglawin

Chapter 4   The Golden Warrior of Moroland

I first met this gangling teenage girl when I led a squad on an extraction operation to hogtie a hostile datu who lived by the seashore. We burst into a room which, to our surprise, was peopled with women and children, one of which was this girl unabashedly sporting  skimpy pj’s.  She continued brushing her auburn tresses as she turned to me with an inquisitive look and an unflinching gaze at the muzzle of my pistol. Behind her and on top of her dresser were two school streamers pinned on the wall. The Datu was not there. It appeared that the diversion raid that another group was assigned to was started too soon, and the Datu had to run towards the guard posts when he heard the commotion.


I got mad! I kicked just about every loose toy on sight. I crushed a mandolin-type instrument under my foot. It gave way and my foot got stuck. I frantically tried to extricate my foot from the instrument. The kids began to snicker at the sight of my struggle. I kicked the instrument off and it hit the facsimile knives on the wall. This fell down with a thud. The kids are by now laughing with glee. This girl shoved her foot stool in front of me and I kicked this one, too. It flew through the door, down a flight of stairs, and hit a pig that let out a lot of squeals. Everybody started laughing out loud, including I who was affected grossly by the kids’ laughter. So I led my squad out in disappointment.


I’ve completely forgotten all about her for several years after that incident, until I heard about a golden-skinned, redhead leading a band of moros that raided our camps all over, using some particular skirmish tactics which I was then assigned to scrutinize. I had a pretty good idea who this leader would be, but still, I knew it would be against their culture to allow women to bear arms, much less lead men at arms.


So I got myself in a military camp at Kampilan just before the time that we knew it would be attacked. I was to get some answers as to the invincibility of this Golden Warrior’s force. I was in the process of getting to a spot to observe the attack when I heard the tower sentry fall down with a crash. The attack had comnmenced! From out the window I saw other sentries lying dead. Shouting and running and shooting marked the chaos that followed. The Camp Commander was, of course, absent, him being the first one to be warned of the impending attack. I moved his table for me to climb to the ceiling. Too late! The door burst open and I came to look at the barrel of a sten gun while clinging to the ceiling with one hand and holding a pistol with the other.  I froze.Under  an olive-colored cap and a black hood were brown eyelashes, long and curled up. The face was moon-shaped and the cheeks were copper-colored. And those lips, they were indubitably feminine.


Upong sensing my hesitation and disbelief, she lowered the sten gun, looked at the ceiling, snickered at me, and went back to the fighting. I realized that I must have looked like a monkey, swinging from the ceiling with one hand. At any rate, from my vantage point in the ceiling, I watched her in front of her men moving in skirmish formation, firing as they advanced in the upright position. Those who had guns were in front. Those who had none were following behind, ready to pick up the guns from any fallen comrade to continue with the advance. Brilliant! I hissed, as though she could hear me. This way they would not need any more guns than were necessary. If I commanded my own regiment, I would have insisted on having a hundred of her people incorporated in one special unit. And as if she heard me, she stopped to look in my general direction, took off her cap and hood, and flashed her hair to the wind. She was blonde! Golly, I nearly lost my life to a blonde!


A year passed after this encounter with the Golden Warrior. Now I have all the reasons to capture this girl, er, woman. Within the last 20 days, three heavily fortified camps were overrun by Moros. It would have taken a full regiment to take each of the forts, but intelligence reports say that the Moros have enough weapons to arm only 100 to 200 men, and not a regiment. What is more, these arms have to be transported from one fallen camp to another without being detected. Afterwards, reports of a secret weapon began to trickle in, a secret weapon in the person of this Golden Warrior.


NOW, THE GOLDEN WARRIOR has surfaced here, in the village of Sabungan, close to where we were putting up dikes for river control. This village is adjacent to the property of Don Puti, being separated by a stream over which a wooden bridge was strung which was wide enough to accommodate a jeep. The dikes were 10 meters wide and 10 feet high, also wide enough to accommodate a jeep. This stream was used for irrigation and fishing purposes. Every summer, two water gates, half a kilometer from each other, are closed. The water is the pumped out to reveal lots of fish after the water is drained. The village folks are then allowed to catch all the fish they can, compliments of Don Puti. Within these events is hatched my plan to capture the Golden Warrior.


“How important is this Golden Warrior to you?”, asked Ric who was driving the other jeep which was fitted with a machine gun.


“Very,” I said, “I think I know her, too”


The sound of people loudly cheering alerted us. The water had been completely drained. All at once everybody ran down to catch fish, laughing, shouting, cavorting, or generally slipping in the mud. Ric pointed to one wearing a bandanna, deftly spearing at fish one stroke at a time. I saw her, too. That impressive height was unmistakably hers. I fired three shots in the air. Everybody turned except her. I jumped in my jeep and drove crazily past the bridge in time to see her get inside a hut. I kicked the door open and was met with a heavy whack from her spear. I tackled her and we wrestled on the floor. I noticed that she could not kick a lot, and she winced with every move she made. I pinned both her arms down. I tightened my grip every instant that she flailed and loosened it every time she calmed down. She got the message and finally settled down altogether. She emitted a loud shriek when I pulled her up to her feet. With a gasping breath and an agonized face, she whispered to me that she had broken ribs.

Ric opened the door for me so that I could carry her gingerly towards the jeep, which I drove very slowly as it was very noticeable her ordeal from every bump on the road.


We had not travelled far when a helicopter appeared and started to follow us. Helicopters, I mused, especially military ones, were not known to be present in these parts. Mindanao is down south and Korea is in another part of the world. I stopped the jeep and stood on its hood. The helicopter started circling us. I drew my pistol. It stopped to hover over us. This was then that I came face to face with the man wearing a red strip and a big bandage plastered on his cheek. Ric drew up alongside and aimed the M-60. The helicopter pilot pointed to my black beret with the black hawk insignia. Him and the red-strip guy argued, and then flew off.


I asked our pretty Golden captive, “Why did they go after us?”


Ding interrupted, “Maybe they ran out of band aids and only she knows where they are kept.”


When the laughter subsided, she said, “You must be Major Visconte.”


“Yes, how did you know?,” I replied, expecting an answer that depicted my fame and popularity amongst the people. But she pointed to my name tag and insignia, and laughter again from everybody.


She pulled out a pouch from under her blouse and handed it to me. Standard issue morphine, so I gave her a shot from one of the phials.


“My name is Perla, Perla Binaoro, and I am not supposed to win my battles every time.,” she shrugged. “That man in the helicopter is called Copperhead. Him and I, we argued. We fought. His kick broke my ribs. I slashed his cheek open.” And then the morphine took effect so she went to sleep.


She was dazed when we hit our camp. After supper, we decided to drive her to town to see a doctor. At dusk, I carried her to the back seat of the jeep and got her to lean on me so I could absorb the bumps on the road for her. The second pain killer was about to take its effect when I asked Ding about her golden complexion. She said that this was coppertone, a tanning lotion, and it should wear off after several days. Her skin may be lighter in color, considering that her hair is now reddish, and is not blonde as may be thought of to be. She will not be permitted to lead men if she were muslim.


“She looks young to me and exceptionally figured!” noticed Ding.


“Well, I don’t know about that,” I said, “she looks old enough to have had twelve children already. And from what I can feel from here, she’s top heavy and fat!”


Perla pinched me on the rib and I let out a YIP. Ric and Ding must have guessed what is going on in the back seat so they looked at each other and made faces.


“On second thought, head for the HOUSE  OF  GNOMES,” I told Ric.


Ric complained, “House of Gnomes? Oh no not that place again!”


Ding teased him, “Look at him——fearless leader, brave commander, salakay-na-walang-puknat, phi-kappa-phi awardee—takot sa duwende!”


“What has Phi Kappa Phi got to do with duwendes? Nobody studies duwendes!”


I looked down at Perla, with the red hair and copper-face, snuggling contentedly on my chest, and I said out loud, “Once my life depended on the sharp eyesight of this Golden Warrior. Now my life depends on the sparkle in her eyes.”


Another pinch on my ribs…..

and then she buried her eyes on my chest.



By Cool_ambo

Chapter 3  Maestra De Novicio



THE  DEAL  WAS  SIMPLE. Protection in the form of men and arms is to be provided by the men of Kumander Agila in return for a percentage of the harvests that will provide for his people. By about now a complete integration of both men at arms and the village people is visibly felt as there are incidents of good relations and proper decorum. Much concern was given the protection for the tractor detail of the three ‘Toopids’ namely Jesse, Tano, and Dok. And also the heavy equipment operators that widens the river and build dikes for flood control.


The period after the encounter was spent by both sides in realigning their positions so that a buffer exists between the dominions of both. Such a zone is neutral and may be trespassed only for purposes related to trade, supply and emergency aid for any one side. At about this time of truce fell the plowing season. Shanties and tents for shelter were built to house the men that till the earth. Working non-stop and in shifts, three tractors can plow 24 hectares in 24 hours. Agila’s men were put to good use spelling the ‘Toopids’ off their shifts.


About mid-morning and just when the tractors have unearthed their first hectare, three military-style jeeps sprang up from the woods and headed towards our tent. I blew the whistle and everybody took up defensive positions. I saw with my binoculars a fully-armed man standing on the bouncing jeep and waving his cap. I recognized the leather jacket so I blew the whistle twice to ease the men. And that’s when I saw a girl in painted skirts waving and yelling.


“Erwin, Erweeen!” That was what she was yelling.


“Oyoyoy,” I said, “it can’t be!”


The jeep halted in front of me, and she jumped down as if from a horse. Still grinning, she uttered my name slowly, deliberately., “Erwin Pele Visconte, magiting na bayani, asintado, palikero, gigolo ng mga atsay!”


Lourdes Bourbon,” came my retort, not to be outdone, “alembong, maestro de primera klase, graduate ng Puro Walang U____!”. And we laughed. And we hugged. And she kissed me.


Ric Cordero, leatherman, cut in, “I gather you are kissing cousins, no?” When I ignored him, he added, “In case you still do not know, she is now my wife. But it’s ok, Pel, she already told me about you. This is why I told you that I suspect our kinship, remember?”


“Yes, she seconded, “he knows all about us,” as she fought my effort to unlock her hands from around me. She just stood there with her brow resting on my chest, rocking us sideways back and forth as if trying to lull us both to sleep.


I turned to Ric and asked, “did she also tell you that she taught me all I know?”


“About sex? Yes.”


Mama mia,” I said.


“No, Pel,” she said, “not mama mia—–it’s me-a-mama.” And the three of us laughed.


“I know what you mean, Pel, I can testify that Luding is Master of the Arts.” More laughs around.


Ding finally eased her arms around me and grabbed Ric’s arm. “You are a good man, esposo, and what’s more you are a good esposo. I am really lucky to have you.”


“It is I who am lucky Luding, only in the afterlife could I ever hope to meet one like you, much less have her as a wife..” And they looked in each other’s eyes, and they embraced, and look again…..


“O, siya, siya,” I said in perfect imitation of Don Puti, “Let’s get inside the tent before we start the whole camp embracing everybody else, Daig pa natin ang soap opera.” And so we went inside the tent with an arm around each other’s waist.



While Ding was warming the pot of guinatan, Ric confided in me that there was an all out operation to foil the success of this agreement between Agila and Don Puti. As a result, Agila authorized heavier wqeapons to be supplied here. One M-60 machine gun was being emplaced on the West Dike facing Blanca Nieve. The other M-60 was being set up on the East side facing Barrio Sungayan. Barrio San Ignacio and the hacienda guards are to the North, and Agila is in the Southern hills. The Hacienda Cecilia will be our principal source of provisions from now on.


Afet the most unprofessional display of culinary expertise, followed by sloppy ladling of the guinatan to the bowls on the table. I teased Ding about her cooking, stressing the fact that she can never be a cook, to which Ric agreed readily.


“Is that a fact,” she snorted, “and I suppose that Consuelo-what’s-her-name beer seller of yours can do better, ha? HA?”


Consolacion, “ I corrected her, “and how the heck did you find out about Sol?”


I looked at Ric for help but he was already halfway towards the East emplacement. Ding sat down slowly and, with a sigh, started stirring the guinatan with a spoon.

“I spent the whole night last night cooking this for you and what do I get?,” she whimpered. What followed next was a whole series of childish whines. This gave me the chance to secretly ogle her arm again like I used to whenever she was occupied with something else. Her arm had a pinkish tinge from root to end, and the sun did not have anything to do with this. I ran my fingers furtively down the arm. She recoiled with a snarl. I held her hand and she slapped my hand away.


Ding,” I whispered, “I do appreciate your bringing me this suman which actually looks like it was sat on by somebody who was riding on a bouncing jeep. I appreciate this puto bumbong that looks like somebody could not control herself and pinched half of it away.”


Her face was completely hidden by her dark brown locks but the snickering heave of her shoulders were visible, so I continued—


“And I appreciate your cooking this guinatan for me expertly, but let’s face it, there is no such thing as guinatan with no coconut cream on it!”


That did it., Her snickering now becomes audible. So I moved my seat closer to hers, “Do you remember that it was your inability to cook your own food that provided you with the excuse to hire me as a cook? I had to go to your apartment to prepare lunch for you. I was so innocent then, and you were so experienced, so…..(she jammed an elbow at my ribs, which of course gave me the excuse to put my arme around her.)


She began talking even before my arm got settled around her shoulder, “I remember the time when you would not touch my knee even when I offered it to you. I remember the time when my father, your distant uncle, nearly caught us together at the dining table, but didn’t because you pretended that you were teaching me how to peel a banana.” (I began to kiss the pinkish arm). “I remember those times when all you think of was sliding your hand up my skirt..”


“I had a good teacher,” I said as I kissed the cup of her hands and wrapped her palms around my cheek.


“I did not teach you this!,” she uttered in disbelief.


“I had a very good teacher,” I said looking deeper into her silvery eyes. In one swoop, she put my head on her chest and began to rock me again as if she were trying to put me to sleep.


“You say the nicest things, primo mio, you say the nicest things to me,” she sobbed.


I looked at her eyes again, this time with intense longing, “I have always told you the truth, Ding, and I say this to you now—-I have never been with anybody like you now and at any other time.”


She stood up sudden-like, and with her most sheepish smile she asked, “And what about Consuelo-what’s-her-name-again?”


Consolacion,” I corrected her.


“Consolacion, Consuelo, or what have you and whatever gratification she gives you—-she is not for you. Choose somebody who does not go around barefooted.” She then looked at me with a lingering gaze—“I have to go.” She said, and brushed her body against mine as if saying not-tonight-but-eat-your-heart-out-anyway.


I watched her move away from me. The last time she did this to me was when she was forced to marry against her will. And now she has Ric. If I Know this teacher of mine, she will get what she wants, and she does not have to get what she does not want.


As she turned to me with skirt a-swirling, she yelled, “And cut off that mushy hairdo of yours. You’ll begin to look like Elvis Presley if you’re not careful.


God, what a scary drill sergeant she would make!


(Next: A woman warrior, no not another cousin, It’s just that I’m on a roll here.)

M a t a n g l a w i n


By  Cool_amboMatanglawin

Chapter 2  The X-MEN


KUMANDER  AGILA  and Don Puti sat across each other from a fairly large circular table under a fairly large coleman lamp. All at once they started threshing out what they came to talk about, meaning the Hacienda Cecilia and the rest of Agila’s men.

After the traditional felicitations between Ric and I came the exchange of weather forecast and the preferred planting days as foretold by some familiar almanac. I bade Ric to sit with me about a small rectangular table meant for two which is beside the window that overlooks the gravel road. He smiled when he noticed that the chair that I chose had no arm rest unlike the chair he was sitting on. Armchairs interfere with my draw. And then I saw through a billow on Ric’s shirt-jac a familiar gun butt.

“Mauser pistol?” I asked.

“Yes,” he replied, unzipping his jac fully to unholster it from his shoulder strap and hand the gun to me. “It was given to me by a North Korean colonel who was a classmate of mine in Moscow.”

“Beautiful,’ I said, “I like the balance. It should have a faster rate of fire. But I imagine it is not easy to find ammunition for this, nowadays.”

“Not really,” he said, “Mr Guday can provide ammo for any type of weapon, even for the old colt .45 that you are using.”

“You’re telling me. I need to restock my ammo supply.”

“Now tell me, Major, why do you keep using an old service colt .45 when the new issue are Glocks?

I explained, “The Glock automatic pistols may hold more than twice the cartridges in the butt, but that alone makes the grip too bulky for me. The 9 mm shell that it shoots is 1.4 mm smaller than the .45. The glock may load more bullets but I need only one shot from this colt to bring down a berserk moro.”

“I get your point there. You are a sharpshooter just like your Dad. I have seen him bring down a mango from a swaying branch 60 feet up.”

“Yes, my Dad can do that alright, but his shots hit the fruit. My shots can hit those mangoes by their stems.”

I was asking Ric for the location of Mr Guday when we were interrupted by Don Puti’s demand for something to drink. So I got up to open the North window and called for Sol, who immediately came running up the stairs amid the hoots and whistles of the men farther away. Without looking up, she again disappeared to another stairway and then reappear with a tray of four de-crowned San Miguel beer bottles plus another four unopened ones.

Ric was watching her closely. I was, too—-all the fully-blown  eighteen jiggly years of her. When it was our turn to be served, she cupped one hand around my ear and whispered that she couldn’t locate her house keys and that I should give her a duplicate of the ones that I keep. Embarrassed, I waved frantic signals for her to return to her house, which she did.

With a smirk, Ric said, “I guess they call you Matanglawin for more reasons than one, ha?”

I cleared my throat to start explaining to Ric that Consolacion, or Sol, is the sister of Totoy Buencamino who died when he was with the Bereta Ranger unit. Sol inherited the house and now operates the beer store beneath us. I  have given my word to Totoy to watch over her when he is not around and I happen to a man of my word.

“Sure, sure,” Ric chuckled, “bantay-salakay.” This led to a gleeful, back-slapping, feet-stomping fits of laughter between us. Even the two political protagonists under the coleman lamp came to join the merriment.

And merriment was galore in the house that afternoon, till about dusk when an ice truck pulled up and started to unload blocks of ice for the store. Ric grabbed his pistol from the tabletop and whispered “mga pulahan” to Abner who suddenly pushed Don Puti  unceremoniously under the table.

In the instant that I drew my pistol, Ric had already fired three shots at a man coming out from the back of the truck. I pulled myself up in time to see the driver of the truck set his rifle on top of the truck’s roof. I did not give him time to aim. I fired once and hit him on the temple. Then all at once more men started scampering from the truck. Women started screaming from the other house. Ric fired some more to bring down another two. I hit the front passenger man through his gunsight. More screams from more women. Sol was pulling a block of precious ice from under a dead man, and men from both sides of the roads were loading their guns.

I grabbed Lolo’s white hat and jumped down from the window and waved the hat in a circular motion. As if on cue, Ric and Abner ran down the stairs with flailing hands. It took a while, and a lot of disciplne from both sides, to put the situation under control.

Five men, wearing red strips of cloth around their heads, attempted to spray the occupants of the house with M-16’s but failed to accomplish their task due to poor coordination between the five, the blocks of ice became obstacles for the other men to trip over, and the ice truck was a converted weapons-carrier and therefore had a higher roof over which to fire accurately.

Upon looking at the faces of the gunmen, Ric and Abner pulled Grandfather aside to talk in whispers, all the while making glances at me. Finally they spoke to me, “We know that you work for the Counter Insurgency Operations, and that your mission is to locate Kumander Cobra. We are telling you now that fixing his identity is impossible, much less locate his position. He is ever in the company of five. There are more to this than two opposing suides. These men in red headbands belong to an outfit called X-men. Their main job is to exterminate. This unit should not be mistaken for another unit called Ex-men. Their job is to execute people. Both units are more like licensed hit squads. However, if you Major Visconte, are willing to help the agreement that I made with your Grandfather, you are welcome to my protection.”

“Wow, what can I say,” I uttered, “I’ve always wanted to live a peaceful life.” And this started another round of jokes and laughter between the four of us.

Before we parted, I complimented Kumander Sundang for his speed with the Mauser pistol, for which he said in turn that they do not call me hawkeye for nothing.

Settling in our beds that night, Don Puti explained to me that there are a lot of units who would not want this agreement to foster. These are those who want to remain in uniform and get promoted. These are those who want the conflict to continue. These are those who wag the dog.

Kumander Agila agreed to bring his men down from the mountains and join my hacienda guards and their families would be living as part of the community. In return, they will be safe here as members of the private subdivision that is Hacienda Cecilia, living in houses that will be built for them. I will work for the general amnesty for them and will give them first crack at all the labor needs of this hacienda, such as construction, teachers, farmers, drivers, and so forth. But the one item they like best is the 50-50 sharecropping awas-gastos that replaced the 60-40 sharecropping. I will also provide loans with no interest.”

From all this, something still bothers me—who were these men really after when they fired indiscriminately?

(Next–meet my cousin, another one, the Maestra de Novicios)





Chapter 1   Encuentro


Don Ignacio Caldeza Visconte y  de Borbon, known to everybody as Don Puti, stood up from a makeshift bench to shuffle across the gravel road that fronted the house. He stopped to stare at a piglet munching on a corn cob across the street while he adjusted his gun belt. With overpowering intimidation, he spat what’s left of the Granger Chaw in his cheeks towards the piglet, which then ran off with several grunts and a lot of squeals.

The house he stepped out of is owned buy Anong, a burly man union leader and Don Puti’s head overseer, or Katiwala. Upon Don Puti’s insistence, the garage is converted to a gareta, a meeting place. On this place sat Anong, his wife, Jesse, Tano, and Dr. Dok; the last three named are the ones referred to as the “Three Toopids”, a most emphatic reminiscence of the Three Stooges by my grandfather, Don Puti.

“Tell Kumander Agila that I propose to meet him instead in Buencamino’s house, which is halfway from where he wants us to meet,” and then lit one of the Marlboro Longhorns I gave him. The people in the gareta, including I, looked at each other to determine whom he was talking to. Upon recognition of the problem, Anong got up to do the Don’s bidding. And rightly so because Anong is not only the owner of the house, he was the sole medium by which Kumander Agila and the Don communicate.

“And tell him I will come unarmed,” he called to Anong who in turn gave his nod. We all watched the wet gravel road give way to Anong’s stubby hulk as he walked towards Don Puti’s south guardpost which Agila has taken over. One of the tractor detail, Jesse Cape, started ejecting the rounds from his M16 one at a time. Tano, friend to Jesse in good and not so good escapades, repeatedly made attempts to reshape his fedora. Dr. Dok, friend to Jesse and Tano in addition to being a necessary evil, brought out his guitar to try and add to the tension.

Jesse is the most “cowboy” of the outfit. He assumes this distinction easily as regards, dress, mannerism, and lingo. Even I, with all the resources at my command, would not hope to surpass him in the way he imitates Gary Cooper. Two things he would give an arm and a leg for are : a horse, and a pair of boots like the ones I am wearing now.

Pel,” The Don called.

Po,” I replied by force of habit.

“You will come with me to the house of Totoy Buencamino,” he said matter of factly.

Opo,” I replied, as if I had a choice in the matter.

“I wish I had that rifle now…” Grandfather said to himself, and his countenance changed to a depressed look. He does this in all those times he thinks about the missing rifle, one e that can hit targets a kilometer or two away and, he assured me, one does not have to aim the rifle, one just commands it.

I believe him. He is widely known as the second Matanglawin, and as such he should be a deadshot, a sharpshooter, a hawkeye. But he isn’t now. His fall from the tractor broke his arm, so he draws a bead from his left hand. That rifle surely would aright things up again.

I surmise that if I find the lost First Matanglawin, I would know for sure where that rifle would be.

But now, in one motion I pulled out my service automatic and released the magazine for inspection. I made sure an extra round was chambered and two full magazines were in my belt. Jesse offered to lend me his folding-stock M16 but I declined the offer for reasons that I would have to carry the added weight of the rifle plus spare magazines for it. Furthermore, my being armed already violates the terms of the encounter. In truth, I had not the heart to tell Jesse that I do not carry weapons that I did not clean myself.

Don Ignacio, and Lolo Asiong to me, wheeled abruptly to face us who were in the gareta. The action caught Dr. Dok by surprise, and his plan to belt off with another of his songs was aborted. Still in deep thought, Don Puti whispered to me to get ready. Instantly, I gave orders as regarding positions and signals after which everybody just vanished, all except Anong’s wife who was unabashedly nursing her baby. Don Puti went back to his seat, crossed his legs, took off his bleached Baliwag-blocked hat, and lit one of his own Mexican brown cigarillos.

I looked at him as I have often looked at him, thinking of things I have often thought of about him. This, I reflected, is the father of my father; three times mayor of Santa Teresa; reputed to own horses that run faster than automobiles, renowned for bringing in criminals by sheer force of personality and admonitions; famous for humanitarian affinities and wartime heroism; unheralded for being the first to institute “jueteng” lotteries in this part of the country; praised for using his vast landholdings for the uplift of his tenants; and so forth and so on. This community was actually built by him! It is peopled by his tenants, their houses being constructed from the profits of Hacienda Cecilia. No wonder this community is named after him—San Ignacio.! And he is not even a saint!

(End Chapter 1 Part 1 Encuentro)





by cool_ambo


Chapter 1 Part 2  Encuentro


Tragic it is that Don Ignacio was born under feudal times, and that this feudalism would dictate his philosophy in life. In his eyes, there are three classes of people ; the upper class, the lower class, and the lowest class. The upper class (the ilustrados) are pure, and therefore they should rule. All the other classes are disparaged and have shortcomings in one way or another. I, for one and like the multitude of others, is a half-breed, and therefore rated as one lacking something, which happens to be my inability to learn and speak his language. Moreover, according to the father of my father, no other system is better than feudalism, whether this may be democracy, or communism, or socialism, despotism and even fascism. If Grandfather and his feudal system can provide what communism promises to but is unable to, then there can be coexistence between him and the dissidents. In exchange for peace and protection, his domain of San Ignacio will provide the realization of the communist dreams without the imposition of communist methods and ideology. In short, they can get what they want as long as he says they can.

The familiar crunch of gravel being trodden underfoot alerted everybody.As Anong came rounding the bend of the road, he signaled that the meeting is a go. Don Puti unbuckled his gun belt and handed it to Anong’s wife. I signaled with the Baliwag hat and the two of us started for the Buencamino house. Now I asked myself, why the Buencamino house? Does Grandfather know that Buencamino and I are agents for the Counter Insurgency Operations?  If he did, would he still have chosen this house?

We did not take the jeep.We stood a better chance if we were on foot than in a burning jeep hit by rpg. I keep reminding Don Puti about what he emphasized to me all my military life—“confianza mata hombre”—and now he is going to meet the feared Kumander Agila unarmed. To this questions he replied in a more forceful Spanish accent that he is also a very good judge of character.

From the corner of my eye, I can spy some bodies in a house scampering towards the windows. These are hacienda guards. I positioned myself on his righet, as I am right-handed, and also because when we come around the bend I will be first to be spotted. The Buencamino house came into view. I see buri hats in a line against the cassava plants used as fencing. I see some more among the corn stalks to the right of the house. Some of them point their fingers at me. Still some reveal themselves more to get a better look at me. These are very noticeably young boys with mouths agape at the march we make. I realized then that Don Puti and I were not considered targets, so I relaxed a bit.

At the foot of the stairs, we were met by a middle-aged, balding man in a flannel shirt with a British sweater-uniform over it. Accompanying him was a younger man with a swagger, about my age and wearing a white shirt-jac under a bombardier jacket, leather pants and pilot’s boots.

The older man spoke first, “Mano po Ninong.”

I thought he had a nasty sense of humor because we are still in the middle of April and Christmas is a long ways off for hand-kissing.

Abner,” Lolo replied. Abner must be the man’s name, I thought, because I do not recall the word abner to mean ISTIGOSANTO, or whatever, in Spanish.

Magandang hapon po,” the younger man greeted with a bow.

Magandang hapon po naman,” Lolo and I answered in unison.

Turning back to the older man, “Ito po ang aking apo, si Pele Visconte. Pel, ito si Kumander Agila. Inaanak ko siya sa kasal.”

“Ang inyo pong lingkod, Abner Giron. Ikinagagalak kong makilala ang isang tanyag na tagapaglingkod sa bayan na tulad ninyo.”

“Sa akin po ang karangalan, Kumander, laganap din po ang tagurian ninyo sa buong bayan,” I replied as I shook a calloused hand.

The leather-man shuffled forward to offer his hand to me and spoke in flawless English, “Permit me the honor of shaking your hand, Major Visconte, your exploits in Mindanao are legend. Stories of your valor are not uncommon around here. My name is Ric Cordero, aka Kumander Sundang. Please treat me as family. I suspect my kinship to you.”


To this I replied, “Kumander, I have always treated as family those who wish to be family. I would have considered you as such even if you had not wished me to do so.”

And afterwards, there were smiles all around, a timely relief for the anxious men at arms on bothe sides. The biggest smile, however, was noticeably Don Puti’s.

And as signals of peace went to both camps, everybody went up the stairs. It was even suggested that this occasion calls for beer!

(End Chapter 1, Next The attack of the X-men)