June 27-July 15, 2001

Cheap M—

By Ramuel Mendoza Raagas

On the front doors of the taxis: Tantantini, Rincodetu, and others. They don't insinuate anything--- mind you--- I've had my fill of insinuating radio commentators, especially those from the provinces, such as Dipolog City. That damn place doesn't even have a single taxi cab--- just droves of dengue-laden mosquitoes.

Rekjadu, Minderbat--- more taxi names. On the popping lips of the crowd: fat, sweltering and ugly. The taxis are scrabble blocks. I have my own bench of them. Most are on the playing board while I write a birthday card for my son, Kim, who's in a place I won't disclose. I'm even one of those sparse Filipino who uses encrypted e-mail. Ou-est-il? Pas en Paris! Ha-hah. I was just thinking of a Steven Segal movie, the one with the train. I'll give you a code name: Byzagigi! ??? That's the name of the taxi that will try to escort you there.

I am the most beloved of taxi lords. I'll never count on a monopoly, but my boys have the image of my smiling eyes on their dutiful shoulders.

"Stop! Two by two in the gutter. The speckled one actually limps. It is the underdog. We are all too sinful. Swoosh. Swing." Wipe. Wipe.

"There goes Fatso once again, harrassing all the pedestrians."

"Yep. I hope he doesn't get to fetch a ride again from Mang Doti or Boy."

"Sunnyside. Twenty a head."

"Hey. It's old brother Edward... Edong!"

"He has a fanful of bills from his earnings on this hot day."

"Hey, Ed! Later, let's..."

Arlene Ecto, with her brown eyes, darker body and hair the tone of cigarette filling reaches out a pancake flower of a vehicular wipe to Mr. Danny Valero, who hangs on to the branches of his steering wheel. The pancake has whites of undershirts, as well as mosaic cells of day blue, besides tablecloth red. Danny boy grabs it. His old one is already burnt and soiled with soot.

Danny (We go a long way back, since Tandang Sora.) says a word, the reply of which has him piecing together a small stack of chips from his front row of remunerative units. I, secretary for an office opposite the favourite Embassy, chip my violet nail polish on the pesky yellowless but otherwise flag-schemed sticker directly above the alms box for passenger garbage. It is a half-husk of an emptied brake fluid container— grimy, of course, underlining the - - NASAN which I hope to efface like a reverse hangman game. Of course, I’m not hiding from you, fellow Filipino reader, the name of—- Bingo! I, your everdearest Yolanda Macadaet, was simply pulling off his publicity from subliminal impulse impressionistic voters way back in 19**.

Mr. Danny Valero — whose name remained more completely spelled out on his FEJODAP hanging tag than his fading hero now at the purple claws of my keyboard-happy hands— has now lit up a long cigarrete, which has me defer unwrapping my own green loose change of eucalyptus. I pull out my second-hand handkerchief: a gift from Agueda, the street.

“Is it OK?”

I almost stumble into giving my answer for “Do you mind?” He turns back around anyway, not at all conscious of my high skirt, due to my dorsal adjacence to the backboard of his front seating row.

He whittles away.

Hi Miss B.U.T.T.ful, sitting right next to my black-bulbed gearstick. My eyes are on you— in the way that (Y?) the nerdy, shorter fair one behind us is checking me (and not the greater U) with periodic stares. Of course, I check the road, too. Its length is gray, at times beige.

Sir keeps on staring at his right-hand passenger. She seems to have a nice... Anyway, he got an item from me. Huh... should I sell cigarettes as well?

(Uhfu! Uhf!)

This in from separate accounts by Mr. Valero and Ms. Madaet: that was the front seat passenger.

What a ----. I have to write a page on this Lope K. Santos book. Why can't I just throw it away like President Quezon did his other book? Anyway, as a point of triv, I threw away a book by the latter's grandson. It was a s----- X-mas present. I got it from crummy Aunt Beng. She tries so hard to be nice to me, but she looks like a... I mean, so what, if she buys expensive clothes and accessories. The things she gets are not like those of my other aunts. Even mi dulcisima abuela grandmother Adela from Malabon gets much more attractively dressed. Grandma's body is not as voluptuous as that of my--- anyway, she looks soft, but firm (al dente, I guess, is the Italian word for it, although I do not know venti of words from that language). Besides, she makes a great orange-hued dish of fine Filipino noodles. Is it not her husband Edbert who keeps on pointing out, "Now that's the true blend of it. Let's chow--- for long life!" Grandpa Edbert is not a man of fancy words (although he's better at speech than Aunt Beng, who hails from San Francisco--- Zoo), but he likes to talk and he knows how to make humorous expressions, especially when making jibes at Aunt Beng. Edbert doesn't smoke a pipe, nor does he smoke cigarettes. Aunt Beng gave him an engraved pipe for Christmas, which I hope he also.... Anyway, quoth Edbert, "Are you trying to make a kafir out of me! Ho-ho-ho! I am Santa...".

Of course, my genuine incestuous crush is my cute, cuddly cousin Connie. Fine, she gets that bastard Spanish jibe for her name in conjunction with her religious upholding of upper middle-class Filipino get-ups, but underneath all that I love the way she her chest breathes by my body when we embrace at the airport right before her several trips to continental Europe (the land of many languages she can't speak; she never gets any better at it.). I do get p------- however when Aunt Beng pesters her upon arriving from abroad. That w---- aunt keeps torturing her to belching out praises for French men and Italian men. Fuck them alll! Of course...

I can't wait to play Counter Strike. I'll probably txt Marc and/or Javi.

I also want to throw this Diwa ng Sawakarin book, but I need to get at least a... I wasn't the one computing the running tally of my grades. Our teacher, Mrs. Ruth Lesboa, had to pitch it to each of us in our son of a smoked fish Pantitikan class. Proverbs, Riddles--- bugtong, burtia, whatever the heck--- are so damn irrelevant.

I'm glad to have a cap. The heat is so... I wonder if I should go all the way bald, like Teofred and Jaime and who not else. "Hey don't take my cap! R-- Take my book instead! Look at the kid!"

"She's gone off already."

"At least, she didn't get your phone!"

"Squa--- I mean, bitch! I'll catch up with you and..."

"Don't bother anymore, son."


"Is that what they teach you? And you're even from St. Francis."

"Old sister, ----"

How gravely the boy assaults the nice old lady.

"Disgrace awaits the kid!"

"The old lady's right! Stop the schoolboy!"

Huf! Huf!

If I see a rugby kid wearing that precious Thailand-sewn sports cap of mine when I walk hereabouts someday, I'll break its [sic] knees.

"Old Sire, did you chance to see a kid scrambling by with a cap in hand."

"Sure. She went thattaway!"

"Thanks, dear sir." (Full gallop without the rider on top).

"White boy."

Is he going to get her?

"I forgot to tell him that she was Insiang."

Insiang, the sister of Arlene?

"The same."

I'll tell on her to their Papa Eloy, so that he could b---

What a son! He even sent me a camisa for my birthday! Through the years, our bonding is quite... as if its logo was even shedding the lagrimas for me. Oh, this shirt may be standard fair for Filipino middle-class and so on, but it's... the thought. This, folded and envoyed, is my kind of news.

Why am I only getting three years? I hope my lawyers work this out.

Anyway, my taxis are now kicking in two-peso clicks with a twenty-five peso headstart. Yes!

What's that?

I see a light.

Pretty girls I see. Silly speech I hear. I’m glad I’m back here. I do better at the day time, however. This coffee lounge is too… I can't tell one day's flavour from the next. I pay too much attention to the cream and the maraschino cherry. Someday, I'll have a beer.

Bruce waves at me.

"Did you see Marc?"

"E-Text him."

"My phone's down."

"No credit?"

Would I...?

Actually I dropped my phone and picked it back up in a couple of seconds after running after this stupid urchin

Excuse me. I mean, pardon... but what is an urchin?

An urchin is a low-form of life, fed on wrigglers, bred by vermin and...

Wait, I have my dictionary.

Someday, I'll learn your language, too.

"That's nice to know. Maraming salamat!"


I don’t want to be seen hitting on strangers.

"Look at the kid's cap. What happened to it?" says a guy in a black silk shirt.

"Perhaps he just got it from a surplus shop."

"Talk about a FACTORY REJECT!"

"Will you stop reading?"

"Why, I'm only bringing up our country's GNP."

"Amazing! Arguilla’s “You may come” is an untortured substantial phonetic preservation of the Ilocano Umayka.

"Son of a smoked fish--- OK now, well, why don’t you translate Arguilla into Iloko-loco?"

I’ll write an anti-Marcos story in Ilocano.

It’s already been done. Ikkis ti...

Hey, dude, how are you supposed to pass

"Anyway, the important thing is... look where my elbow is pointing three tables away. Doesn't the girl there have a cute smile?"

"She has a pretty crotch too to go with her Chevignon jeans."

"She reminds me of Riza. Riza is my national hero."

"Don't say that. She might give you an 'El ultimo adios!'"

"A pretty girl that was who wore a black top. The car’s a Honda."

"So, I have one too!"

"A girl like that?"

"It's good that she's here--- to neutralize the annoying presence of those ugly fags!"