eK! is electronic Kabalen, a web-exclusive Kapampangan journal of ideas

rosendo m. makabali
rosendo m makabali I AM tailing; the jeepney ahead of me tries my patience. Something about my old red hatchback Kia Pride's air-con unit's not right, has always been unright. I try hard to amuse myself with the words slapped in faded navy blue paint on the grimy gray splash guard hinged below the rear step of the jeepney.

What's the "12" all about anyway? Does it boast (but emptily, I see) how many passengers the vehicle, pint-sized and spastic, can cram onboard? It's more like 12 minutes, the driver (Mang Ben?) may want to warn, about how long anyone trailing behind must suffer at his every stop—almost mid-lane on every corner and by every random roadside, as he trawls for fare eternally, infernally in the never yielding parched season of the road.

Unlike you, Mang Ben, I have someplace specific to get to, some occasion I must be on time for. The opposite lane is just as impossible to steer onto to get past you. It is the same country of motorheads like you and me engaged in the torpid politics of tails and snails.

How long must I endure your tyranny of slowness, Mang Ben? I try my best to be cool and civil—The Beatles on RJ-FM helps a bit ("All You Need Is Love"). But the blare of horns of those following me cope hotheadedly by a different tune ("Revolution").

What else can anyone of us at a crawl behind you do, Mang Ben, when you are both king and slave of the road? You are Lord and Father Time here, clocking and legislating the flow of traffic by the lengths and breadths and epochs it takes to earn a decent day's keep, or perhaps to just fulfill a "boundary" so you can basically feed yourself and family.

Maybe we can be brothers, Mang Ben, in envy of the ones who can weave through it all with ease on motorcycles, joyriding or hauling merchandise, or of the lucky others who cruise on fancy mopeds with a pretty chick back-riding. Also, don't you just envy people gliding along past us on bicycles, oblivious of the rising boil of motorists and commuters—Buddhas vainly picking their navel and Beelzebubs contemplating murder, while haplessly pinned on your bum?

[About the author. Rosendo M. Makabali is literary editor of , a website dedicated to new underground guerrilla exploratory art + literature in the new medium. He has published poetry in several Philippine print magazines and online in spreadhead.net and . A few of his poems appear in Slam the Body Politik, the Revolutionary Multi-Arts, Multi-Media CD ROM released in 2004 by the Australia-based . A chapbook of his, Last Words and Other Poems, 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: 2:12 PM 1/12/07 | More of this author on eK!