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I.

 

1. INT. MALACAÑANG GRAND BATHROOM. NIGHT.

The President has just finished her hot bath. She faces the mirror. She dries herself—nape, armpits, waist. She combs her hair. She dabs perfume on her neck, shoulders, and back. She rubs lotion onto her skin.

She stares at her reflection. At her hips. Breasts. Face. Mole. She wonders how she managed to squeeze so much evil into such a petite frame.

PRESIDENT

I’m still beautiful, noh?

 

She puts away her bathrobe, then goes into her room.

CUT TO:

2. INT. ROOM IN MALACAÑANG. NIGHT.

On the huge bed, the First Gentleman is already waiting.

 II.

(883)

Ate, ate, another woman was killed near the terminal. Two bonnet-clad men on a motorcycle shot her as she stepped off the bus.

(884)

It was a man this time. Someone bought cigarettes from his store. As he handed over the change, he was peppered with bullets—right in front of his wife.

(885-6)

A married couple was ambushed on their way home one afternoon. Luckily, the child witness escaped unharmed.

(887)

Even a human rights advocate wasn’t spared. The body was dumped in a grassy field.

(888)

Just recently, a student leader was abducted on his way to school.

(889)

Ate?

Where are you?

III.

I’ve lived in the forest for years. I know each branch and limb by heart.

I’ve memorized the twitter of every bird, the hum of every cicada.

The forest isn’t really that impenetrable. Sometimes you get to the barrio quickly without getting pricked by thorns in the underbrush. Once you’re used to it, you can complete a two-hour trek up and down the mountain in just twenty minutes. It’s tiring sometimes. But the only opponent here, they say, is death in the hands of the enemy.

We have to cross three mountains today. It’s planting season in the next valley.

 

*The third segment, entitled NPA, was published in UNDER THE STORM: An Anthology of Contemporary Philippine Poetry (2011). 

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