He unhooks the rope, places the knot to the skiff
and drags it towards the water. Unreadable, the waves
are pages that keep on rewriting themselves, like thoughts
of the American President on China’s artificial islands
at West Philippine Sea. He could see the structures
from where he stood, as if some rich neighbor
decided to build a strip club on a sand bar. But he was not
bent on avoiding them, these “builders in bad faith,”
as the Barangay Captain calls them. For he, his father
before him, and all the village fishermen had long
considered that reef as their inter-island waiting shed,
shoal away from shore. So he packs his provisions of fresh
water, dried fish, rice, kerosene lamp, transistor radio.
He fixes the nets and of course, the bayonet. He once
found it during an oyster dive, sharp metal stabbing sand,
glinting in underwater sunlight. Did some WWII soldier
drop it to mark our Exclusive Economic Zone as prelude
to the UNCLOS? He asks himself, aware of the proviso
in the Constitution reserving all archipelagic marine
resources for Filipinos. He pushes for the sea, the skiff,
a sharp pen piercing through sand and waves as if writing
land titles. Better occupy the waves than be written off.
Treaties redefining territoriality become useless in the context
of man-made shores and artificial islands. He turns the radio
on and Floyd Mayweather is now being booed, declared
winner over Manny Pacquiao. The “Pambansang Kamao,”
they say, carried the game, the elusive American, all form,
all technique, won by points before a jeering live audience.
Is this how boxing should be, won by crafty non-fighters
with cheap tricks? Boxing can’t win wars. He thinks. “I thought
I won,” said Pacquiao, apparently, more dizzy with the defeat
than the punches. Manny, you can never win against Money, no.
Not against this undefeated American in US shores. Their government
needs him in this age of ISIS and Chinese threat. He tells the Las Vegas
prize fighter, still thinking of how Obama danced around, ran,
hugged, elbowed, jabbed, and smiled his way off a China issue,
whether or not the Philippines can expect American military
support in case of war. His motor is roaring now, in full throttle
towards the Chinese firmament. “Manny can’t beat Floyd
because he’s not bright enough,” he hears Floyd’s father.
So he throws the net down the water, a Chinese vessel
speeding towards him, his bayonet shining under the sun.
- 94: EARTHSUBMIT to M Takolander 93: PEACHCOMING SOONwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRO AUSTRALIANwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones