• The Boat Captain

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    His giggly yelp jumped out of the yawl, signal for the shore people
    to swarm and meet us, help tie the knot that would steady us once
    and for all with the island. Some had baskets for the give-away squid
    or the trade-off fish for their muscles and bawls. He disembarked,
    waded small waves as if to break the dance between water and sand,
    like a light tower, eyes all around, keeping the sea where it should be.

    Serene he was, as earlier, when fists of water pummeled the hull of our
    chests, his brown gaze, shore to that expanse of blue. We followed his cue,
    splashed away our grateful feet as if to show the dance between city
    pavement and island sand. But as quick as wind, errands of waves gave way
    to thuds of dub amplifiers. One strip of beach had drunken yuppies and bikini
    clad ladies dancing truth or dare with the sunset. He glanced at them, house
    clothes dripping with salt and sand. We stared at the shoreline makeshift club
    in this camp-out island without phone signals. Our captain looked back, horizon
    now darkening, lined with trolley ships as street lamps, then tied the boat.

    * * *

    The Encargado

    Uphill, everything was uphill, tall grass barring speed and resolve.
    He was the encargado after-all, the color and contour of the land
    etched on his rugged brown face. And we, we were fence crashers,

    naked owners he never saw until that day. So we deserved a little
    disorientation. Uphill right, uphill left, down the hill to that stubborn creek with rocks and silt. Catching our breaths, we begged for him

    to take a break or deliver us the end of our trek via longu manu
    or give us a bite off the usufruct with occasional buko flesh or juice,
    or at least a short welcome to his payag to rest our legs. But there

    he was, farmer on a number three jersey set to make this forest
    his hardcourt, fastbreak without breakfast, dinalayap blade
    in hand—his rules. Earlier, he nodded lazily to all our prodding

    that the products be in parts, share and share alike. He laughed
    in disbelief when told he could get rich helping us bring the harvest
    to the market. That was not what he was told. His father, encargado

    before him, said they tilled the land so they owned the land, city
    dwellers never come back and leave the comfort of corporate life,
    canned sardines and condominiums. Why give tribute to an absent

    landlord busy walking the city pavements for dregs? That was his choice and his torrens title is paper that can’t grow trees. So off he went farther uphill and disappeared, slashing his way up the grassy bend.

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