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Friday, February 26, 2010

THE CRIME [The Calling]

THE STRIP IS a stretch of roughly a little over one kilometer. Or it could be two, or even more. It intersects three well-known roads in Makati, namely, Makati Avenue, Sen. Gil J. Puyat Avenue (formerly known as Buendia) and Ayala Avenue. The street sign does not label it as a “street” or an “avenue” or a “boulevard.” Instead, it is designated as a “paseo”, a word of Spanish origin that is loosely defined as, or is equivalent to, a “passageway” or a “path” or a “walkway.” It was thought of that the word may have been derived from the Spanish verb “pasear”, meaning “to walk.” Come to think of it, there is no other road or street in the city of Makati that has the tag “paseo” except this strip.

Paseo de Roxas. We have at times referred to it simply as “Paseo.”

Some of the city’s modern buildings are located on both sides of strip. During rush hours, hordes of the city’s office workers populate the sidewalks of Paseo---they pass through the area on their way to their offices. Expectedly, Paseo becomes clogged by vehicular traffic; for this reason, the city authorities always man the area with traffic officers to enforce discipline on the motorists...

[Note: Read the complete story in the book "You Filibini?" Stories and Other Writings by Amador F. Brioso, Jr., published May 2010]

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

THE VICTIM [The Ballad of Avenida]

ITS HEYDAY WAS during the early part of the last century. The avenue was basically a magnet to everyone, from all walks of life. Upscale shops. Fashionable stores. Chic restaurants. And first class movie houses: Avenue Theater, Ever Theater, Galaxy Theater, Ideal Theater, Scala Theater, State Theater. Most of these movie houses (referred to as “standalone theatres”) were built during the 1930s and were designed by prominent architects who were, in the latter part of the century, declared as national artists. One basically found it hard to ignore these theatres after visiting the shops and restaurants. After the last world war, Manila strove hard to reconstruct its structures. Those in the avenue was able to restore themselves, back to their pre-war glory; they thus kept their supremacy over anyone else, save those located in Escolta Street, the favourite place of Manila’s rich and famous. By the time the decades of 1960 and 1970 had set in, challenges were being hurled against the avenue’s dominance. The challengers were led by Makati’s Ayala Avenue and Cubao’s Araneta Center. In the 1980s, the avenue—famously known as “Avenida” (its official name is “Rizal Avenue”, taken from the national hero Jose Rizal)---began to descend: it had started its trek on the dark road to perdition. The construction of an elevated railroad---locally known as Light Rail Transit (or “LRT”)---served as the signal of Avenida’s demise.

Thus, nowadays, what can one find in Avenida? Most of these theatres have now been demolished, if not turned into ghost-haunted structures. Some buildings are already more than half-century old: by today’s standards, they’re supposed to be condemned for demolition. The shops that line Avenida sell cheap merchandise: some were smuggled into the country (like re-conditioned TVs from Korea, unknown Chinese branded DVD players, sleek-looking, but definitely of inferior quality, stereo CD players, radios, etc.); others are pirated CDs and DVDs (both pornographic and non-pornographic); some are second-hand clothes, bags, household items, etc., that came from China and US (locally termed as “ukay-ukay”). Magazine stands occupy some areas of the sidewalk. Side-by-side with these stands are also some vendors, seated behind a small glass-box perched atop a rectangular wooden box: seen inside the glass-box are various cell phone units (some already outdated, some are new), still cameras, watches, etc. Buying any of these items comes with a caveat: be sure the vendor won’t be able to track you down, lest you’ll find yourself becoming an accessory to robberies or muggings: what you’ve bought were proceeds of those crimes (“You’re being charged of having violated the ‘anti-fencing’ law”). Convenience stores vie for customers vis-a-vis cheap eateries. Late vintage fastfood restaurants can be found on some corners. A handful of small-time department stores vie for attention too: these stores sell new, but unbranded, shoes, bags, apparels, etc., made from cheap materials that, after a month or so, will be worn out from normal use. Also, several banks get into the picture: they cater to the owners of the shops that still generate a killing in the area. Not to forget, too, are the pawnshops: they’ve shrewdly added the “tele-money” service that easily gets hordes of customers...

[Note: Read the complete story in the book "You Filibini?" Stories and Other Writings by Amador F. Brioso, Jr., published May 2010]

Tuesday, February 16, 2010



“Congratulations, Danilo! It’s a bouncing baby boy!”

Danilo turns up his head, then almost jumps up from the bench where he is seated. He is outside of the delivery room in a hospital.

“Thank you, doctor! My God, finally! After hours of waiting!” Danilo gleefully hugs the doctor. “How’s my wife? Is she Ok, doing fine?” He takes out a handkerchief, then wipes the film of sweat off his face.

“She’s just fallen sleep. Pretty tough labor she had there. But she’s fine, just some rest. Tomorrow, she’ll be ready to go home.” The doctor’s mopping his hands with a white cloth. He covers his mouth, to stifle a cough. From his pocket, he takes out a stick of cigarette.

“Can I see them? How the baby looks like?”

“Yeah, sure, sure, Danilo. Just go right in there.” The doctor points toward the double-doors of the delivery room, then starts to leave...

[Note: Read the complete story in the book "You Filibini?" Stories and Other Writings by Amador F. Brioso, Jr., published May 2010]

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


MURDER. WHO WAS it who’d said that this heinous deed is as old as mankind? He was referring to what Cain had done to his brother, Abel. Anyhow, murder is the crime charged in the case I’m handling. I’ve handled a lot of murder cases. But this one is a cut above the rest. My client, of course, denies the charge. He was, according to him, not at the crime scene. Not in his lifetime. But how did he get involved in this? That he could not explain. I’ve had my doubts the first time I talked to him. His story just isn’t credible. It won’t stand in court. Right off, the judge (once he hears my client’s story) will surely throw it out of the courtroom for being ridiculous, outright incredible in light of the circumstances surrounding the case. But, as I'm bound by the lawyer’s oath and ethics, whether or not I doubt my client’s innocence, whether or not I believe he’s guilty, I as his advocate shouldn’t be bothered by what I believe. I'm bound to defend him at all cost, in accordance with the legal procedure, with the system of law...

[Note: Read the complete story in the book "You Filibini?" Stories and Other Writings by Amador F. Brioso, Jr., published May 2010]

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Wednesday morning.

INSIDE THE COFFEESHOP at the Hotel Intercontinental Manila. Three people were gathered in one table near a corner. One was sipping a hot cappuccino. The two others were having a light breakfast.

“Say, Johnny, how’s your car?” asked one of the seated men while blowing the steam off his cup of cappuccino.

“Drives perfectly. No problems. You’re intending to buy a new Mercedes?” Johnny lifted the table napkin. He started wiping the corner of his mouth.

“I’m still thinking about it,” replied the man with the cappuccino as he raised a hand, gesturing the waiter to approach him. Afterwards, he stood up. “I’ll just get some salad.” He went to the buffet table.

“How can I broach the matter?” asked the man seated beside Johnny. He took off his eyeglasses and placed it on the table.

“Well, once he comes back, I’ll leave you two here. Then, you bring up the case. Tell him your offer. As simple as that.” Johnny was grinning.

“How long have you known him? Is he like a close friend of yours?” The man was now fiddling with his eyeglasses.

“Let’s say he’s a close acquaintance. I’ve known him for some time now. I assure you he delivers. But at the right price. You get the drift?” Johnny spoke in lowered tone.

“Hey, Johnny,” the man with a plate of salad said, “check out the gal there in the buffet table. I’m sure she’ll get your attention.” He had returned, giving Johnny a wink.

Johnny gave out a chuckle. “You still have the sharp, keen eye on women, Mon.” Johnny started to rise. “Well, I’ll check out the merchandise. I’ll be back in a minute.”

The man with eyeglasses was slightly grinning at what Johnny had said. “Sir,” he began slowly, “has Johnny told you about our case?”

“Ah, yes,” Mon drawled. He took another sip of his cappuccino. “A big case.”

“Yes, Sir. We really need to get this one.” The man with eyeglasses spoke with caution.

“How much is your offer?” Mon was jabbing the salad leaves with his fork.

The man with eyeglasses took a deep breath. “A million bucks, Sir.”

Johnny’s face was devoid of reaction. “Quite small, son.”

“Oh, Sir. How much would it be then, Sir?” The man with eyeglasses was folding his table napkin.

“I’ll let you know soon. Meantime, just proceed with the filing of your petition.” Mon was now almost done with his salad.

“You were right, Mon.” Johnny was nodding his head as he returned back to his seat. “One fine, voluptuous lady. Check this out,” Johnny was dangling a small piece of paper. “Her mobile number.”

Mon let out a guffaw. “You’re really my idol, Johnny.”

The man with eyeglasses stood up. “I’ll just go to the bathroom. Where is it?”

“It’s over there, Danny, straight ahead, then turn left,” Johnny said.

“You need a bigger amount, son.” Danny heard this just after he stood in front of the urinal. Turning his head to his left, Danny saw Mon standing just beside him, also about to take a pee. Nobody was inside except the two of them.

“How much would it be, Sir? So that I can relay the amount to my boss.” Danny has stepped near the sink, about to wash his hands.

Mon walked beside him, eyeing Danny in mirror. He slowly draped an arm around Danny’s shoulders, then raised his other hand, with three fingers extended. “Three.”

“Three million, Sir?” Danny’s face seemed confused.

“Thirty million.”

“Oh.” Danny suddenly felt like being hit by a sledgehammer.

Mon was already at the door. “Just tell Johnny if you’re OK with the price. Then we have a deal. OK, son?”

“Yes, Sir.”


[Note: Read the complete story in the book "You Filibini?" Stories and Other Writings by Amador F. Brioso, Jr., published May 2010]