Saturday, May 24, 2008


Everyone has a story, they say. And these short stories I had written were mostly inspired by those shared with me by the many people I met since moving back to Manila.

It was an ideal match, for the most part. I was an avid listener and our local folks -- both young and old alike -- were wonderful storytellers. Some were quite animated at it which made learning about our local culture an even more engrossing feat.

It was virtually impossible, however, to determine the veracity of their stories; hence, the best way to pass them on, I thought, was to recreate them into works of pure fiction. Be that as it may, should there be similarities between any of my characters and actual persons that you may know -- living or dead -- rest assured, they are nothing more than coincidental.

All told, I had posted 29 short stories of fiction during a six-month period -- from September 30, 2005 to March 22, 2006. It was the first six months of my blogging efforts as Señor Enrique.

There should have been a 30th to this list. It was to be much longer than any I had written. However, while in the midst of it, I yielded to a growing interest to delve more into current affairs, as well as in certain historical facets of Manila. And soon thereafter, my interest in photography was rekindled. In the interim, the 30th piece was neglected; remaining on the back burner to this day.

I may get back to it one of these days but for now, thought I'd first organize and make a list of everything I had posted so far.

So, here they are:

posted: 9/30/05

It has been a daily ritual inside the family compound in Sampaloc -- Conchita asking the rambunctious children to stop playing out in the yard, and for the household help to refrain from any more sweeping of it until the next morning. This would be followed by a reminder for everyone to restrict all other activities inside the house.

It was once again twilight time -- the period when the "other friends," as Conchita fondly referred to them, would claim the ground for their own use and enjoyment.

posted: 10/04/05

Even at a young age, Maximo had mastered a lesson that both friends and rivals in school seemed unable to absorb: that the three most important features in a young man’s appearance are style, style and style.

And so with an allowance far more substantial than most kids his age, he frequented SM Manila and Robinson’s Malate to hunt for the latest pair of K-Swiss or Lee Pipe jeans. As for the other trendy outfits, electronic gadgets, or PC games, all he had to do was log on to or, place his orders, enter the number of his supplemental credit card, and have the items shipped to his father’s address in Seattle, Washington. His father would then bring those items home with him when he comes back for a brief visit every six months.

posted: 10/10/05

Funny thing, friendship. You spend a lifetime nourishing it but with only a single misunderstanding or misdeed, it can suddenly cease to exist. And only in very rare occasions could an altruistic act of forgiveness resurrect it.

Jepoy and Jekwah are best of friends; more like symbiotic twins, for one couldn’t seem to exist or be seen without the other. Those are not their real names received at birth, but nicknames, or more appropriately, terms of endearment given by one to another.

posted: 10/13/05

Although Layla has all the accoutrements of a grand dame, she is tired of the senseless shopping sprees, lavish dinner parties, and exhausting travels to outlandish places. She is tired of getting all dressed up but without any important place to go. Worst of all, she is tired of being alone.

As she has learned to accept her husband’s infidelity, she has also learned to wallow in similar wicked behavior. It doesn’t really matter whether her husband, Charlie, knows about it or not. At first she did it to spite him but now it’s to recapture pieces of her lost youth.

posted: 10/15/05

Walter could only grunt his consent when out of the blue, Ate Osang hastily flew home to the Philippines after receiving a letter from a cousin. She was rather vague about her reasons but Walter knew better than to press her for details. The more definite he wanted her to be, the more convoluted she would get. She assured him it would only be for two or three weeks the most. That was almost two months ago.

Married for almost 25 years, this was the only time they were away from one another. Had it not been for the Yankee playoff tickets he received as birthday gift, he would have gone with her. But then again it was Ate Osang who gave him the tickets. "Were these tickets part of some shady scheme," he asked himself paranoid.

posted: 10/18/05

The idea was not to tell a single soul. Neither Papa nor Mama should ever suspect that something was terribly wrong. They were both thousands of miles away from home, living in a foreign country; working hard to provide a comfortable life and a brighter future for everyone. And so as not to upset them, everyone at home must pretend everything was all right as always in Manila.

Right after promising she wouldn’t tell anyone, little Bechay decided to take a nap to sleep off her headache.

posted: 10/20/05

The middle-age doctor was telling his young patient how different it was in Manila when he was his age. With the influence of the church at its height and the pervasive sexual mores averse to change, people were imbued with feelings of guilt, inhibition and restricted beliefs about what normal sexual thoughts and behaviors were.

Many were not allowed to express themselves in sexually healthy ways; a rare sight it was for unmarried couples to hold hands in public, let alone display a more intimate act such as kissing or hugging. It was an era of repressed sexuality that even single girls who went beyond kissing with their boyfriends were instantly regarded a puta, the doctor claimed.

posted: 10/21/05

It has been an arduous morning for Teresa -- fielding David’s redundant questionings, as well as vehemently denying false accusations of her seeing another man behind his back.

She realized the only way she could ignore his belligerence was to get up and leave his house. She came over to give them some chicken salad she made the night before; instead of gratitude, she got another one of his outbursts incited by deep-seated insecurity.

posted: 10/22/05

Divisoria, at 3 o’clock in the morning, would be abuzz with its usual hustle and bustle; wholesale dealers negotiating the day’s selling prices with regular customers, some of whom are public market stall merchants and pushcart vendors.

There would be loads of fresh vegetables and fruits off the trucks from Batangas and Tagaytay farms, as well as produce from the merchant ships docked at the nearby piers, which sailed from China, Taiwan and other Philippine islands.

posted: 10/24/05

An old proverb claims poverty is a mental disease; a state of mind. And that a man must first experience prosperity in his consciousness before it can manifest into his world. If correct, then Isabel of Pasay City would be the ideal walking testament to this truth.

Shunned by neighbors for being enthralled by other people’s good fortune, Isabel would incessantly talk about this or that who suddenly got these and those; people who experience good fortune unexpectedly.

posted: 10/26/05

According to empirical wisdom, adolescence, like measles, ought to be experienced once and for all while young, for a recurrence in middle-age may produce serious consequences.

Such was the case with Manong Odi. At age 50, he found himself with too much time on – but nothing to do with – his hands.

Daunted by the grim prospect of having to assimilate into a new corporate culture, as well as having to answer to younger superiors, he opted for early retirement when the bank where he was working at for many years as a senior commercial mortgage executive was bought by another but much larger bank.

posted: 10/28/05

Anita was exasperated. Nothing was good enough for Helen, her sister-in-law who was vacationing from New York and staying at their house. This balikbayan was definitely getting on her nerves with her wry comments about everything Filipino. Helen would deliver them succinctly, with a menacing smile, and in English, too. Anita thought, only five years of living in the States and this woman has already forgotten her Tagalog.

From the sweet-tasting spaghetti sauce to the vivid palette of her home interior, Helen was unstoppable when it came to dispensing unsolicited critiques of Anita’s housekeeping skills. With a slightly toned down sarcasm, Anita would then apologize for not having yet attained Martha Stewart’s level of mind-boggling ingenuity.

posted: 10/31/05

Judy works at a law firm on Eighth Avenue and 52nd Street as a filing clerk while her husband, Benjie, is a car mechanic at 10th Avenue and 57th Street; both are in Manhattan. After work, they will meet at their son’s office at 23rd Street between 5th and 6th Avenues. From there, the three will head home to Brooklyn Heights, a quaint neighborhood on the edge of Brooklyn that overlooks downtown Manhattan.

They have been living as permanent residents in America during the past six years but it was only a year or so ago when they began enjoying life.

posted: 11/2/05

Fourth of nine children, Nenita was forced to leave home and venture to Manila to find a job and help her poverty-entrenched family. She was miserably homesick, longing to go back home, but had no choice in the matter.

Her father, only in his forties, was a strong man but too afflicted with a passion for brandy and cockfights. He would waste his money earned from the harvest on foolish vices instead of providing for his family.

Her mother, a 'modern-day Sisa,' would often plow the fields herself whenever her husband was too hung over from the previous night’s carousing, which was almost always the case.

posted: 11/05/05

It was a means to escape an impoverished life. To provide a better future for her son, Tomas, whose father turned out to be a married man with four children. She was young and gullible then; desperately believing Mario’s drunken words of a blissful eternal love. But as soon as she uttered the word pregnant, Mario flew out of their love nest like a bat out of hell.

Nine years later came Mr. Stanley, a retired dockworker from Baltimore, Maryland. The two benefit checks he receives regularly, one from social security and the other from his Teamster pension fund, amount to almost a quarter of a million pesos a month. When he proposed marriage, Feliza, with just a hint of pretentious reluctance, said yes.

posted: 11/07/05

It was always a much anticipated event; far more exciting than Christmas, in fact — Uncle Jerry’s annual homecoming from his job abroad. There'd be lots of presents and chocolates, as well as trips to the mall for lunch and then shopping for toys for all the kids.

This time was no different. Almost every night there were unexpected friends dropping by to say hello, and as always, Auntie Myrna would quickly prepare something for the guys to nibble on to go along with their San Miguel beer, Emperador brandy and never-ending conversations.

posted: 11/10/05

Depending upon one’s perception, it’s either exhilarating or frightening how swiftly time seems to move. Conrado remembers as if only yesterday when he and his wife bought Boyet school supplies for his kindergarten class. And now, as if suddenly, his only son is entering his third year of high school at the end of the summer.

Nowadays, he worries that Boyet, who is autistic, might get lost in transition into adulthood without the capacity for adequately understanding the rigors involved in relationships. Will Boyet who is now getting more curious about girls eventually find someone to love who will love him back?

posted: 11/11/05

It was a brutal beating. Dennis suffered a broken jaw, a broken arm, a hideous black eye, and bruises on his arms and back. It was a beating fueled by pure hatred; mercilessly executed by someone bigger and stronger. It was his older brother, Junior.

Their mother was hysterical. She was shocked to see his older son letting loose on his little brother as if he were a rabid animal that had to be killed. The sound of the older boy’s fist pounding on the young boy’s chest and back reverberated into her heart; stifling her breath until she passed out.

posted: 11/17/05

If Pilosopong Tasyo was of this day and age, he would point out with utmost cynicism what gambling chips and credit cards have in common – plastic. And that plastic actually obscures the true value of money. Therefore, one tends to gamble or spend more with a piece of plastic than with actual cash as in Suzette’s story.

On the day she received her credit card, she took her boyfriend out to dinner after work at Friday’s in Robinson’s Malate. It was to celebrate her entry to the world of privileged adulthood: a major bank has entrusted her with a credit line twice the amount of her monthly gross salary.

posted: 11/26/05

Manang Seta is able to do remarkable feats in her dreams—she can be the prima ballerina of the national ballet, overcome her fear of snakes, sail solo to distant seas on her high-tech yatch, or become a sultry jazz singer in New York’s Carlyle Hotel with Bobby Short on the piano. And through it all she never once doubted her abilities to become any of those things.

However, in her waking state, Manang Seta is a fearful, doubtful woman. Even the simplest of choices would make her eternally indecisive. Her basic arithmetic skills would escape her; she’d leave the market always feeling short-changed. Her sense of direction would get hazy; driving to and from nearby destinations has become a daunting task.

BY ALING MEDING (Part 2 of 2)
posted: 11/26/05

I left my husband, mind you; she, on the other hand, was abandoned by her husband. The fool ran off with his secretary. Not only that, her daughters decided to live with their father, not with her. That should tell you enough about Manang Seta!

So, what is so wrong about my expecting her to help me out? She has money; I don’t. Yes, I admit if it wasn’t for her and our brother, Edward, none of my children would have gone on to college. I thank them very much, but hey, I have six grandchildren now and you know how fast time flies. Before you know it, they’ll be getting ready for college as well.

posted: 12/5/05

Aling Rosalinda was down in the basement folding the clothes from this morning’s wash. From where she was, she could hear her son, Willy, and his wife, Ishang, upstairs—still at each other’s throat. Arguments between husband and wife have been happening more frequently since Willy’s unemployment benefits had run out and the cash from his severance package began to dwindle.

With their older son attending college in Ohio and the youngest a senior in high school and a member of the hockey team (the most expensive sport in terms of equipment) the boys’ school expenditures are eating up the family’s cash reserve at an alarming rate. They have staggering loan payments that must be duly attended to, plus the monthly utility bills. The couple is at their wit’s end; constantly scrambling which obligation to prioritize.

posted: 12/12/05

As they say, one’s anger can breathe life to a not so innocuous murmuring, and with the help of others with similar sentiments, turn it into a full-blown gossip. Regrettably, whosoever is the target of such rumor is doomed with a double whammy: correcting the wrong said and in so doing accuse the culprits of outright lying.

For a man well-known as reserved, though affable, the last thing Tito Romy would want to do is to publicly engage in a verbal battle against these women — the self-proclaimed social historians of the neighborhood. Besides, there is some truth in what they’re talking about -- that he has been enjoying a sort of afternoon trysts with the local beautician, while his wife, Tita Nely, was abroad.

posted: 1/21/06

Everyone was at a loss for words when told what happened to William. He’s a friendly and soft-spoken guy not prone to macho posturing or senseless violence. Most see him as too timid and docile to provoke or engage in any caustic arguments

He remains in critical condition; one bullet remained lodged inside his chest. The other two — one on his left shoulder and the other on his left bicep — were already removed earlier. The remaining bullet requires a more invasive surgical procedure, and at his present condition, William may not survive such operation. They have to wait.

posted: 1/26/05

Meet Paraluman Peralta of Dasmarinas Village, Makati City; age 24.

Well, not exactly her real name and locale. Neither is it her true age. She’s more commonly known as Puring who lives in Moriones in Tondo, Manila. She celebrated her 48th birthday last month.

She’s a grifter, and quite good at it. She preys upon unsuspecting men and swindles them not of money, but of their time and attention. Her base of operation: the Internet shop at the corner of J. Abad Santos Avenue and Batangas Street. Her mode of ensnaring: her blogsite at

posted: 2/16/06

Omar has been sitting for quite some time now on the bench by the videoke machine at SM Manila’s third floor. There's a young man singing a number of original Pilipino music or OPM tunes as they’re commonly referred to. Omar wasn’t so much captivated by his renditions, but simply lost in thought. He is thinking how life can be as deceiving as some of these popular pop tunes. The beat is infectiously bouncy but the lyrics of the song itself, if one only cares to pay a bit more attention, usually speak of depressing heartbreaks.

His thoughts then turned to his upcoming high school reunion. He always enjoyed these festive opportunities -- to mingle with old friends and trade personal updates. One of which was Roger who used to talk endlessly about his handgun collection; the other was Willy, although a resident of Los Angeles, would make it a point to come home every year to attend this get-together. Unfortunately, Roger and Willy won't be attending this year.

posted: 3/02/06

As the plane taxied onto the runway, Carol gazed at the horizon whose orange hue indicated the sun about to rise. Not too many passengers were on this early morning Narita-bound flight, but the connecting flight from Narita to Kennedy would be a full one as is usually the case, she thought.

As the high-pitched sound of the whirling engines intensified, the plane began to gain the necessary speed for a lift off. So as to assuage her pre-flight jitters, Carol thumbed through her copy of Umberto Eco’s The Rule of Four; desperately trying to find the last page she was reading. She had absent-mindedly used her boarding pass as a bookmark; however, when she pulled it out to present to the gate attendants, she lost her place in the book. What she found instead, stuck in the middle pages, was what she has been using originally as a bookmark — a 3 X 5 photograph of her 92-year-old mother and herself taken underneath the mango tree in their backyard a week ago. And then suddenly, that recurring despicable thought once again flashed into her mind — when will she die?

posted: 3/13/06

The relationship between Leo and his son has been increasingly turbulent, especially since Junior recently dropped out of high school with only less than three months left on the school calendar.

This incident convinced Leo that his son was indeed a congenital idiot for having done it. He wasn't about to blame hormonal imbalance as the root cause of Junior's troubles because he had already passed puberty. Leo reached for a cigarette as if he could smoke away his troubles with his only son and namesake.

posted: 3/22/06

They had a good plan then: Linda would be the first to go and get settled in New York, while her husband David would stay behind to mind the children as they continued their schooling in Manila.

However, misfortune struck when only six months after Cindy had gone, the oldest of their three children, Tina, became pregnant; she and her boyfriend were only 17 at that time. Tina was supposed to earn a degree in Physical Therapy and then go to New York immediately afterwards, but her emotions precluded her better judgment; succumbing to the boyfriend’s carnal desires and now she’s pregnant. She had also moved out to live with her boyfriend at his parents’ house. Both David and Linda were heartbroken.

* * *

Please note:
I very much appreciate my articles and photos appearing on fellow bloggers' sites, popular broadsheets, and local broadcast news segments, but I would appreciate even more a request for permission first. Thank you!



posted by Señor Enrique at 9:03 AM


Blogger DatuPanot said...

congratulations, senor enrique for being such a prolific literati/photographer. your photos are truly inspirational.

May 24, 2008 10:37 PM  

Blogger nutart said...

WOW! I guess you have taken in a lot of stories from so many people! I also like listening to stories but sometimes I tend to empathize too much causing a lot of inconvenient moments.

I am still reading your stories but as now, i like the story of Leo "Changes"... a man of inner peace and realization! Thank you, Eric!

May 25, 2008 8:47 AM  

Blogger EM said...

Another big applause! Mag join na ako ng fans club mo! Ay, matagal na pala akong kasali...

I just love your short stories!

Let us know pag may book ka na!

Keep it going please... God Bless

May 25, 2008 12:27 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Many thanks for your kind words, DatuPanot! Truly appreciate them :

May 25, 2008 1:54 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

That's right, Bernadette! After being absent from the country for so long, I couldn't help but be absorbed by the many stories I was told by our local folks. And yes ... these short stories, for the most part, reflect those that I was told :)

Glad you like 'Changes.' Check out "Windfall' as well :)

May 25, 2008 1:58 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Golly gee, EM ... pinapalaki mo namn ulo ko :)

Thank you very much.

Hayaan mo, pag may na-meet akong backer, i-publish ko book ko ... hahaha!

God bless, too!

May 25, 2008 2:00 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

very nice collections of short essays and meaningful pics Eric :) You should think about writing in a daily paper :)

May 25, 2008 9:25 PM  

Blogger  gmirage said...

Senor, its time to have this printed as a book!

I remember going back to your archives and reading those stories (game design, fragile, secret and modern love were some that I remember well).
I like the way you wrote Modern Love, I wa surprised by the ending, hehe.

Congratulations once again and thanks for the inspiration!

May 26, 2008 1:33 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is quite a treat eric, especially to those who are fairly new to your blog. As for me, I've had the pleasure of reading some of these the first time you posted them.

I agree with bw. You should write in a daily paper, or think of submitting some of these. :)

May 26, 2008 3:33 AM  

Blogger FilMasons NSW said...

Hi Eric,

Reading your earlier posts showed me how your blog metamorphosed into what it is now: a photo blog of Manila.

I've read the short stories as well, but this post looks like you are coming full circles. Thanks for cataloging your short stories. We are seeing an earlier facet of Senor Enrique.


May 26, 2008 7:00 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thank you very much, BW.

Also appreciate your encouragement; however, writing is actually not that easy -- unlike the pros who are gifted with the ability to write anything out of the blue on a daily basis ... hehehe.

May 26, 2008 7:43 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thank you, Mirage2g! Glad you enjoyed reading these short stories :)

Ok, will work on putting some of these into a book form ... hehehe.

May 26, 2008 7:45 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

That's right, Irene! You and Sidney were my very first readers :) How time flies, eh?

As always, many thanks!

May 26, 2008 7:47 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Next to catalog are my articles historical aspects of Manila, Mario.

Problem with my blog template is that it doesn't show categories as per the tags on the entries.

Thank you for taking time to read them, Mario :)

May 26, 2008 7:50 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Em. Applause, applause! We actually had a brief discussion about one of them. Ayan, we talked behind your back! hehe :-)

May 26, 2008 3:34 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I hope it was all good, Juleste ... hehehe.

Thank you very much! I truly appreciate yours and Em's support for my works :)

May 26, 2008 6:40 PM  

Blogger -= dave =- said...

I remember reading these and being blown away. When I first stumbled upon your blog, you already had this collection of stories based on real-life experiences. If I recall correctly, your blurb still stated something about truth being stranger than fiction and life imitating art.

May 27, 2008 12:27 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Being blown away, Dave? You're muct too generous with kind words. Nonetheless, coming from a fine writer that you are, such words inspire confidence. Maraming salamat, Dave.

Yes ... you remembered correctly. What sharp memory you have, my friend :)

May 27, 2008 6:53 AM  

Blogger escape said...

amazing stories. this is something that i plan to post once in a while in my blog. i love stories of the ordinary people. they teaches us a lot of virtue that is very visible in their way of life.

i agree with gizelle. this can be compiled as a book.

congratulations senor.

May 29, 2008 10:43 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thank you donG! Glad you enjoyed reading these stories. Yes, wish many more would share their stories of fiction -- there's sometimes lots of truths in there than realized :)

Looking forward to reading yours!

May 30, 2008 7:23 AM  

Blogger INKBLOTS said...

It is always quite a form of "retreat" read your stories/anecdotes eric! It brings me to that plane that no one can disturb.

I hope to read more of your fictions. However, I also marvel at your childhood anecdotes in Sta. Cruz and Zambales.


May 31, 2008 11:54 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thanks, Ding! Glad you enjoy reading them :)

June 01, 2008 1:36 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

your awesome :)

June 05, 2008 9:37 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

And you're so kind, Hana :)

Many thanks!

June 06, 2008 8:19 AM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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