Lives of Mangroves

By | 31 October 2021
Before rich people-politicians dumped hectares of subdivision-soil in the town of Las Piñas in Northern-Manila-then-Rizal, the ocean had cut through the former-railway-slum communities, and tilapia farms had been all over and behind the house. Now and then kansusuwit would get entangled in the fish nets and we’d have more choices for game, and come summertime-low-tide, the neighborhood kids would leap one after the other from the Spanish bridge into the fresh murk that the ocean had left behind. Old folks said that whenever the infamous bamboo organ played, a new bakawan would rise by the shoulders of the inlet and, when they’d grown dense enough, fishermen would find a week’s worth of catch snagged under the tree, particularly during full moons. Then my friend Sexy disappeared, they said murdered by local policemen for being a snitch. The Tasaday turned out to be a hoax. More Camella Homes villages had ribbon-cutting ceremonies. An uncle who had been fired from Phillips went into rehab for years. Lolo contracted hepatitis. The sun shone brighter, hotter, on the surrounding tambak, and the rest of the water retreated back to the coast. Thankfully, the next-door-kid Almar got into a good university. But Mother died and I had no reason to visit anymore, let alone stay. I have two or three cousins left, and two uncles, I think. Memory is a fog and I believe most things come in pairs: a voice diving into a well and its echo, breath and death. During typhoon season, recent residents would hear something moving under the floor, trying to break through from the foundations. They all wake up having had vivid dreams of fish and drowning. In the now-city’s church, the organ keys moan their years and it gets really hot during mass. I’ve no roots there anymore, but I can’t be sure as it’s been so long.

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