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HomeNon Fiction | Page One - Huling El Nino: Looking for the...

Non Fiction | Page One – Huling El Nino: Looking for the Partido at the End of the Mundo

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The boy looked at him with quizzical eyes as he made the turn to the left of the eskinita.

The waif, dark-skinned, thin, his shorts down to his knees, was squatting by the walkway where a small strip of sand separated the narrow well-cemented alley from the ramshackle hut the boy calls home with seven other siblings and his parents.

“Bata ni Tay Erning (The son of Tay Erning),” he thought, the youngest in the brood of their masa in one of the populated villages or barangays that he knows is one of the main drug trade centers in

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A whiff from the earth heated by the searing heat from the morning to afternoon sun reminded him that what he smelled was not just salt spray.

It was like the smell from those left by stray dogs all across this small sitio that had been home to him and his collective for years even before the sentro fell apart after the death of Ka Putin.

It was past 5pm but the sun was still an angry ball in the west, perhaps starting to make its way down into the horizon.

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“Kamusta kamo tanan karon nga mainit nga kahapunanon sa pihak sang init nga kwarentay uno digris selsyus!” the announcer said over the radio as he passed by the house of Tiyay Pinang, the aging secretary of the Party branch whose daughter worked in one of those massage parlors with happy endings.

He used to come home here with Ka Leslie from their office in a rundown building near a public market that bad now become more of a pig sty.

That office was once their imagined “batog batog sang rebolusyon,” the place he and Leslie once imagined as the center of Red political power in the urban center.

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“Kamo ang mga diplomat sang rebolusyunaryong hublag sa kasyudaran,” Ka Frank Fernandez once told him after swearing him in as a full Party member deep in the mountains of Sipalay City in a place codenamed Emporium, a sprawling complex of caves, forests, and mountain communities in Sipalay, Hinobaan, Candoni and neighboring areas.

Leslie was his buddy in urban operations. They were the first to stay in this safehouse spirit of sorts, a balay bagsakan where he and his other collective members had L2 meetings or “Level 2” – secret meetings of Party members who were tasked to do propaganda, alliance, and resource generation works in the “sentrong syudad” classified by the Party as a political and propaganda center.

Some nights, when they had more than a shot of rhum, lapad as they called it, they would turn up the volume of the cassette player a bit louder, the revolutionary songs of the kahublagan now heard by those even outside the ramshackle house they call home.

They usually sing the intro of the song Dakilang Hamon together:

Sindihan nating muli
ang sulu ng karunungan
muling pag alabin ang diwa ng himagsikan
apoy ng mga larangan ay paglagablabin
itoy dakilang hamon
paninindigan natin

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Julius D. Mariveles
Julius D. Mariveles
An amateur cook who has a mean version of humba, the author has recently tried to make mole negra, the Mexican sauce he learned by watching shows of master chef Rick Bayless. A journalist since 19, he has worked in the newsrooms of radio, local papers, and Manila-based news organizations. A stroke survivor, he now serves as executive editor of DNX.
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