BATU, Indonesia. Photo by Jes Aznar

Saturday, January 22, 2011


It is 1:30 am, an hour when most of the world is already in slumber.  Jes and I drive to 10th avenue, Caloocan to attend the wake of Ed Manalo's brother. The heavy rains all night have just subsided. We reach the street. There is a black cloth bearing the name of the funeral service company. At this godly hour, men, women and children are still wide awake -- drinking coffee, drinking gin and whisky, playing cards and what-have-you. 

Ed's brother is a kapitan. His colleagues and all those he helped are in mourning. He left behind grown up children and a teenage daughter. The mother of the children is in tears. She is wearing a white shirt. Ed's brother succumbed to cancer. In between sips of whisky, Ed shares vignettes about the place, the life of his brother, friends who lived in the maze-like interior and years and years of living. 

Ana warns Ed to take it easy with his drinking and smoking. Life is short, Ed replies, so better enjoy it. 

It's time for us to leave. We say goodbye. The relatives offer to lead us out. "Bawal maghatid," I say, referring to the Filipino tradition. 

It is almost 4 am. In a few hours, the roosters will be crowing and the sun will be out and it will be another day to live and survive. It can be another day to be with our loved ones and to enjoy each moment with them. It can be another day to fulfill one's dreams and to confront one's nightmares; to wake up happy and to be thankful for all the blessings; to nurture a relationship; to forgive; to drink whisky; to hold hands; to write; to take a photograph; to capture a moment; to embrace one's child; to smile; to hug; to melt in each other's arms; to love and be loved. To hang a curtain in the new house.