Five-Hour Connections*

MALACCA, Malaysia — We stepped out to the garden almost at the same time. And almost at the same time we placed a bottle of softdrink on separate tables. “Would you mind if I smoked?” I asked politely. “Absolutely not, I’m here for the same reason,” he smiled and introduced himself. His name is Aurelien,…

The 2AM Call

BATANGAS, Philippines — She stood by the road just across our house in Batangas and waited there. She had stayed with my parents for almost a month, and it was time to head back home. The bus would be leaving at 3am, and she needed to catch a jeepney that would take her to the…

Scars and Mirrors

He comes bearing change. The little boy stretches his arms forward as he tiptoes toward my table with utmost caution. His cupped hands carry a couple of bills under a small mound of coins. His mother, the cashier-slash-waitress at the small eatery, watches him do the delivery from behind the counter. “Thank you,” I tell…

Layers

Outer Cover. TAAL, Philippines — It took two teenage boys to get the sacks of rice from the back of the pickup truck into the building, a shelter exclusively for abandoned or abused little girls . From the passenger seat, a middle-aged woman emerged and walked without looking at either of them. Until that moment when…

Everyone’s Looking

BANGKOK, Thailand — “Dance with me.” His order is delivered with an adhesive stare and in a stoic tone. No distinct accent. Deep, raspy voice. But it is his deeper eyes that scream a million sexy words. Just ten minutes earlier, he said I could call him Ray. He pressed his back on the wall next to…

Obedience

What caught his wayward attention was the pile of newspapers sitting on the bench on the porch of a neighbor’s house. He tore a page and made paper planes, sometimes stealing a line or two but not any longer for he did not understand senators and cabinet members (did they live inside cabinets?) and puppets…

6 Things About Childhood That We Miss Terribly

Children avoid it and adults will give everything to have a piece of it — rest, staying still, a moment of nothing. When we were kids, our parents would force us to take a nap in the middle of the afternoon and we would do just about anything to resist it. We escaped to the…

Today I made a decision.

Today I made a decision. Six years ago, I had one dream. I wanted to become a diplomat, a herald of peace. I hold a degree in Film so I had to work my hardest and gave my all to reach it — sleepless nights of memorizing the ASEAN Charter by heart, mornings of burying my…