ZAMORA wished to make a 17’-tall rubber stamp. She wanted to build it in secret and had no wish to show it after the completion. Metal, wood, papier mâché, no, the materials mattered less than the height. The rubber stamp shall be set to 23 JUN 2018, the date a Quiapo seer marked for her “unavoidable transformation”. She had the art for this, yes, but the rent went to 40 sqm worth of Angono space, and the ceiling allowed only the height of her husband carrying her youngest on his shoulder, with her youngest always advised to avoid the bulb. She has taken to sketching rubber stamps on the unused pages of her eldest son’s old notebooks. She draws one rubber stamp at dawn, before cooking rice, and only every other day, of course, but Zamora will dull those pencils for the rest of her life. The rest of her life being well beyond the seer’s mark.
AT some expense and with great difficulty, Rico managed to set up a cage in the middle of the slums. Inside this cage, he set himself to carving a Grecian bust. Socrates the ugly had always been the true north of his father’s moral compass. He taped his father’s picture on one of the bars, but the kids kept trying to snatch it, so he taped it up higher. He wanted it at eye level, but he knew he would have to make many adjustments. The critics suspected the truth: the adjustments were to be a part of it. One such adjustment was the surgical mask. It was neither the gutter smell nor the flying chips of marble. He simply did not wish to talk.
Rico survived the mosquito bites, the mocking guitars, the clothes hung on the bars of his cage. He worked at a fairly constant pace despite the forks clanging on his bars, the children spitting on his tools. Someone pissed on his sandwich once, while he was crouched against the bars, taking a nap. Another time, a woman clung on his bars and wept. Her husband had been cheating on her. The sculptor did not give her pause, but he began to dust and polish when he knew that he should have been chipping away on the block.
Rico survived the demolition team as well as the megaphones and placards that repelled them. Everyone survived the secret arsonists, but only a few hovels were saved. The sculptor was sleeping at the time, but the squatters broke the lock of his cage and yanked him out to safety.
The unfinished bust survived, as did the cage. Many pictures were taken of it, and the images went viral on the Internet. The protesters used it as a symbol but so did the critics, and they failed to agree on what it stood for. Rico received many offers for the thing-itself, with the largest sum on the table enough to buy a second hand car. He gave the bust to the weeping woman to dispose of as she wished. She covered it with an old shirt and refused to sell it.
Homez liked most songs, favored no genre, except once in a while when she went out of her way to listen to violins. She cut out pictures of violins and violinists from the papers and placed them in a long brown envelope. She read the newspapers too, by the way, and it had always been something her parents did when they were alive, but she only picked up the habit two years ago and never dropped it. She was in real estate so perhaps the papers came in handy. There were many other things about her, random things, in particular the fact that if she ever bore a son she would name him Archimedes.
Now, when considering this fact, the sequence is important. First, she heard the name. Then she wanted it for her son. Then she read about Archimedes, pages of Archimedes, and only after that did she desire a crash helmet the size of the earth. She wanted it built.
In truth, Homez wanted to build it herself. The world was busy building other things, according to the papers. Also, for two whole months there was neither picture nor mention of a violin, not even in the ads. Existing ads suggested she buy a motorcycle, but it would have been a waste of time to learn it. Instead, she went up the 5th floor of the old alma mater, but she climbed the stairs in vain, for once up there—despite the view of the mall and the slums and the flagpole—there was no jumping. Life did not fit. But there was no jumping today.
A crash helmet was precisely what the world needed, this she knew, and in this she was correct.