Monday, May 12, 2008


Ariel (The Fish Vendor)
pen and ink on paper

14” x 20”

“Why can’t you just stay put?!! Instead of going out with those good-for-nothing friends of yours every night to God-knows-where you guys go to?!!” I could hear a young man’s shrill voice scraping through the loud racket made by the lone tricycle knifing through the silence of this Black Saturday night.

“WHY NOT?! Those are good friends of mine! I have known them way before I knew you. Besides, what’s wrong if I hang out with them?! Hah!!” screamed back a familiar female’s voice.

Like the curious cat I am, I looked out of my window trying to find the source of the heated exchange. Glancing from left to right, I saw the couple standing a few feet from the corner of Park Avenue and Libertad where Manang Alice the balut vendor holds her reign. The agitated female voice belonged to Nene. She was standing there with her arms on her waist and bearing her rather hefty frame in a fighting stance in front of Ariel, the guy who’s responsible for my early morning fish and her rather timid, mouse-like boyfriend.

Pointing a freshly red-coated finger at him, she continues, “And besides when you come home every night, I can’t stand the smell of fish on you body. Even your penis smells of fish!”


“I heard you and Nene fighting again last night,” I chided Ariel as I handed him the money for the kilo of talakitok I bought from him for Mama Ching’s Easter lunch.

“Yeah. Sorry man. Everyone in the street could hear us,” he said while avoiding my gaze as he handed me the fish.

“It’s okay I guess. Though Christ was dead, you guys managed to wake up some Philistines around,” I said jokingly, though I doubt if it did come across as a joke.

He kept his head low and was silent as he fumbled in his pocket for the change. He pulled out a bunch of bills and counted the money he was going to give me. Just then, I noticed a tear dropped on his hand that was full of fish scales. I suppose he can’t help the tears from flowing. He lifted his arm, wiped his face with the back of his hand, sniffed and rubbed it on the back of his shorts.

Handing me my change and his head still bowed, he mumbled, “I can’t control her. She just goes out whenever and wherever she wants to with her friends. She doesn’t even take care of our baby.”

I took the change from him and slipped it in my pocket.

“Hey man. Cheer up. It’s Easter. Christ is alive today. Go out with your kids and do some egg-hunting,” I said cheerfully, gave him a wide grin and tapped him on the shoulder.

He just gave me a weak smile.

I walked the short distance home from the market to my place bearing Mama Ching’s fish. I told myself, I must remember to give her a small drawing I thought would go well as an Easter greeting together with this scaly prize.

When I got up my stairs, I slipped my hand in my pocket to bring out the change I got from Ariel. I took it out and counted the money and realized he gave me 200 pesos more then the actual amount I gave him for the fish.

“Damn. This guy has to cheer up or he’ll lose his business,” I sighed, then went down my steps to return the excess change to him.


Artwork part of "STORIES FROM MY WINDOW" exhibit on May 11, 2006 at KAIDA Gallery.


Unknown said...

you told a pretty powerful story here, Daniel. i shed a few tears myself---for Ariel, for the baby...for those men, women and children whose lives are still in the muck no matter how hard they work.

Señor Enrique said...

I like your Libertad neighborhood. It's so full of life. Hope everything turns out all right for Ariel and his family.

palma tayona said...

@ luna: it is hard to feel distant to the plight of some of the people here in pasay. sometimes there are strong emotions that surface when one hears of their stories and some of the people's lives here are very interesting to tell of.

i suppose i took it upong myself to tell their stories through the way i interact with them. ;-)

palma tayona said...

@ senor : yes, i love this neighborhood too. once i leave this place, it'll always have a special place in me.

i haven't seen ariel selling his fish since that scuffle with Shaina (the transvestite)

palma tayona said...

@ senor : yes, i love this neighborhood too. once i leave this place, it'll always have a special place in me.

i haven't seen ariel selling his fish since that scuffle with Shaina (the transvestite)

shy said...

you get a lot of material for your stories and paintings from your very colorful and lively Libertad neighborhood. and though it has its lows, i'm sure you'll miss it.

i wonder how long from the time you leave, to the time you come back "just to visit". you'll miss the drama, i bet! :D

palma tayona said...

@ shy: naku.... i'd still be hanging around here. trust me. i still have the saturday squaredancing with mama ching, remember? :)