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rosendo m. makabali
rosendo m makabali TODAY WE decide to put off the tricycle ride, walk all the way out of the subdivision, cross the highway, and hail a jeepney bound for the city proper to get to the public market. Earlier, it was a bit gusty and rainy outside; the evidence of a supposedly super typhoon turned out to be negligible and short-lived, hereabouts at least. The morning air is nippy—it feels like it should be thusly on the first day of December. (I start to forget I am sleep-deprived and somewhat hungover.)

We are heading for the open wet market, and I ask her to slow down a second so I can roll up my pants that are getting caught under my rubber sandals. She tells me there is no need for that, as she has only minor purchases in mind. (I remember it is Friday and that she does her serious marketing on Sundays.)

Sure enough, we stop at the first fish stand that we come to, at a safe distance behind the other marketgoers sploshing through the path between parasoled stalls. She lifts by the tail a milkfish that is fairly big enough for the "P65.00" marked on a piece of cigarette carton. She accepts the old lady vendor's offer to clean the fish, but gives instruction to just shave it, cut the belly, but leave the innards ("For the cats back home").

We retrace our steps towards the main street and pass by a rolling fruit stand. I tell her the papaya looks good. She picks a small one that she reckons will be most ready to serve on the breakfast table the next day. She hands it over to the vendor, who places the fruit on a rickety scale and then names a price. She asks for five pesos less. The vendor takes our money and perfunctorily wraps the papaya in a thin plastic bag. (Oh there is also cantaloupe, but the impulse presents itself too late.)

I follow her to another stand, where she promptly bunches up some tomatoes and salted eggs. I tell her I fancy the pork chicharon that hang in clumps over her few pickings. She plucks a medium pack that, the vendor suggests, for two more can go for only fifty pesos. Instead she negotiates an easy deal—a round fifty pesos for the tomatoes, two eggs, and one pack of chicharon. We save another five pesos. I comment how very good she is at this. (So far she has already ensured our tricycle fare, I am to later realize, after the commute back home.)

Across the street, she leaves me on the sidewalk vendors strip to browse over the music CDs, VCDs, and DVDs on sale—particularly for a Beatles "9 in 1" compilation that I espied a weekend before—while she goes into a nearby grocery store to buy us cigarettes and the current long weekend's supply of snacks for the kids. I discover one rare Thin Lizzy concert copy, which sends me tingling; but I do not want to ruin her spare budget, so I determine to browse more for my single objective. (I can always score the Thin Lizzy some other time.)

When she returns I am beaming proudly, waving the DVD containing the entire Beatles Anthology suite bundled with three more of the Fab Four's concert and video selections. She quietly tells me I might get the DVD for less than one hundred pesos that the amiable Muslim lady is flatly charging if only I tone down my eagerness. She briefly tries to bargain down, but pays up as fixed anyway. (I can sense she foresees the precious endless hours of happiness that the bought item will mean to the child in me.)

[About the author. Rosendo M. Makabali edits literature on-line for spread, a website dedicated to new underground guerrilla exploratory art + literature in the new medium. He primarily writes poetry and has published in the old Jingle Music Magazine, Philippine Graphic, Philippine Panorama, and Sunday Inquirer Magazine. His first chapbook of poems, Last Words, came out in 2005, as a grant under the UBOD New Authors Series project of the National Committee on Literary Arts (2001-2004) of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts.]

-Posted: 1:35 PM 1/1/07 | More of this author on eK!