“So, what do you think? Isn’t my handbag pretty? I got it for 250 pesos at the ukay-ukay,” says Nene. “It goes well with my shoes manash. Say mo?!” and she giggled in delight.
“Ateng!! Taray mo!” shrieked her she-male companion in an irritatingly brain-numbing voice.
While listening to the two talk about fashion accessories beside me at the other table while I was having a Big Mac, I can’t help but flash a grin as I took a bite of my early dinner.
“Kuya,” Nene addressed me, “Am I not gorgeous with my handbag? Look oh.” I turned my head towards her as she showed me the most garish-looking purple and yellow faux Chanel (or is it Prada?) tiny bag I have ever laid my eyes on. It had a faded golden strap that screams “Look at me. Am I pretty?” The bag looked more like it was from some uber-fashionista Korean’s closet from the 80’s that found its way into the bins of those ukay-ukay shops. I remember a conversation with Vicky where she told me that the items sold in these shops came in container vans shipped from
“Yeah,” and I smiled at her in reply.
“You have taste Kuya”, she said and gave me a toothy smile.
“TANGNA MOOH! After you use me you’re not going to pay me?!! Hayup kang bakla ka!” Nene was screaming her lungs out limping and barefoot, holding her heeled sandals in one hand and the purple-and-yellow handbag in the other. I could see her walking towards Toto’s Videoke gnashing her teeth and ready for a fight that night.
“Give me back my money you faggot!” she continued with her wild wailing and screaming towards the videoke, as one-by-one the usual hangers-on along Libertad started to gather and see what the commotion was all about – including me.
“Her bakla companion Shaina spent all of Nene’s money buying beer and pulutan for some boys at Toto’s videoke,” Manang pointed her lips towards the place as I was buying cigarettes from her.
“Her money?” I asked.
“Yeah. That’s the money she earns prostituting herself while her husband is asleep. Her husband went into the videoke looking for Shaina.”
Just then, a loud crashing of bottles was heard from that place. It was followed by a loud thud and all eyes turned towards it. A man was shouting from inside, a woman was shrieking and like a bar room brawl scene from an American cowboy movie, a man (well, a man in female’s clothes) sprawled out of the doorway onto the sidewalk with a nasty gash on his upper lip. Following on his heels was Ariel – Nene’s husband – fuming mad.
“You thief! You give back my wife’s money or I’ll twist your balls into your mouth!” he demanded. Like the hero that he is, Ariel picked up Shaina by the collar of his blouse and started to threaten him.
“Fuck you and your wife!” Shaina screamed back at him. “She owes me more than the 700 pesos I spent tonight. She owes me all her clothes and money for all the guys I pimped for her while you were sleeping or selling fish in the market! She’s a WHORE!” Shaina glared and screamed defiantly at Ariel’s face.
Still holding on to Shaina, Ariel looked at Nene and she stood there fixed like in a trance, holding her sandals and the ugly 250-peso ukay-ukay bag. Her screaming stopped.
And like a silent wave, the small crowd of people that gathered around to witness the debacle started to whisper to each other.
“Tsk… tsk… tsk. Ariel just found out the truth about his whore of a wife,” Manang told me in a hushed voice as if to seal the story.
Ariel loosened his grip on Shaina’s collar and started to let go. He patted the she-male on the shoulder, turned his back away, walked through the crowd and down the street without even glancing back.
Meanwhile, Nene was left behind. Still holding her sandals and bag, she approached Shaina and said, “Puta ka.”
She walked away in the other direction.
Artwork part of "STORIES FROM MY WINDOW" exhibit on May 11, 2006 at KAIDA Gallery.