Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Little King (part 1): Transitioning

There was once a little boy named King. Born from a well off family, and an only child. He was simply living a normal childhood at the age of five, with toys so many that his neighbor kids envy and clothes that only worn by the wealthy. His skin was as smooth as a newborn's, a sign that he was a well sheltered boy. King, always get what he wants, new toys, and the most expensive ones too. He enjoys traveling at a very young age and by army helicopters courtesy of his wealthy and powerful uncle and by commercial planes when nothing was available. He was a bright and talented little boy who belonged to a clan of the rich and politically influential in the southern islands.

For some circumstances, King's mom met a guy, a someone, named Donald. Who lives in a slum area in a spot alongside a street called Lantana, in a place called Cubao. King and his mom would often go there for some reason unknown to him. He was shocked by what he saw the first time he went there. He saw people living in rooms that seemed to him that were like cardboard boxes but actually they have plywood for walls and doors. They find their way through a maze of wet and slippery alleyways and as he looked up to the sky, he saw nothing but the jumbled electric wires and wet clothes hanging from above. There were people shouting, shirtless drunk men at every bend and tiny stores selling cheap goods at every alleyway they go. That was his first sight of poverty.

One day, King's mom packed their bags and told him they were leaving and that his dad is not coming home anymore, which was at that time working abroad as an engineer. He has subtle and faint memories of his dad, he couldn't even remember his face. The next thing he knew was that they were in Sta. Rosa, Laguna in someone else's house.

King and his mom moved in with a huge family of 10 in a big apartment in Sta. Rosa. They had a little grocery store on the ground floor and the rooms were at the second floor. The owners of the apartment were so nice to them, specially to him. When the owners of the apartment would scold their kids, he would be treated so nicely that their own kids hated him. He felt bad and started feeling left out, so he thought he should help out  with manning the store and taking care of the deliveries of the bottled soft drinks to nearby houses and sari-sari stores. He learned to bike at age five, but with a side car. He was so good with it that he can drive it nearly on it's side for a few meters before he needs to have the sidecar back down on the ground or else he would be out of balance. He was happy, and he adapted quickly to his new environment.

King saw his mom packing their bags again one hot summer night, and they moved to their own place, a somewhat bigger one in Calamba, Laguna. He and his mom had nothing but a few bags of clothes, a Sony colored T.V., a portable water heater and a foldable table with them. He still remembers his blue Mighty Kid rubber shoes; those were the last items of their former wealth. Most of the time, King would just watch T.V. and he liked Michael Jackson so much that he memorized almost every dance step his idol does and sing to every one of his songs. King loves to sing and dance, and his number one fan was his mom.

King and his mom were packing their bags again, they are moving to another house after just  a few months in the big house they just settled in, and they barely settled at all. The next place was still somewhere in Calamba, just a tricycle ride away was their new home. The new place was just as big, with kid neighbors and he remembers seeing a big palayok on top of a cement pillar in the middle of a plaza a few walks away from their new home. He remembers an old house, which he knew later on was Jose Rizal's ancestral house just almost across the plaza with the palayok. Although the house that they just moved in was bigger, it was not any nicer, it was old and it creaks, with cracks on the wooden floors as well as on the walls, the windows were made of old style framed windows with capiz shells, just like the one in very old Hispanic houses, it has high ceilings and big rooms. One has to go through a small, long and dark alleyway just to go to the main road and back to the house. There was a very big and old santol tree a few meters outside their rented house whose wide branches extends beyond the rooftop and gives shade during a hot noon. Their colored T.V. was gone and was replaced by a small portable AM/FM radio without even a cassette player. King has his own room although it was empty except for a small box bought from the nearby market to store his clothes and for a weaved mat (banig) for him to sleep on, he has a small pillow and red checkered blanket. It was the night of his birthday, Donald gave him a blue toy robot and his mom introduced Donald as his new father.

Donald was dark and bald, big and fat, so fat that his neck was almost non-existent; with tattoos all over his body and scars of what seemed to be bullet wounds patched across the skin of his arms and thighs. He has a big black-eye that never went away on his left eye. Donald smoked a lot, menthol was his choice of cigarettes and he would wear only his sando and briefs whenever he's around. He would disappear for months and would only stay at their place for a few days, then disappear again. King never spoke a word to Donald, not even a mere "hi" or "how are you?". Whenever Donald was around, King would just stay in his big and dark empty room. He started to wonder where his real father was.

When King started to ask his mom where his father was, his mom would reply that he is never coming back and that Donald is now his new dad. King was furious, but he never showed it to his mom. One night, Donald was in their house, smoking his usual stick of menthol cigarette by the window, he asked his mom "I want my daddy, my real daddy, where is he?". His mom replied that Donald was his new dad and his dad left them for good, King replied in a young little boy's high tone of voice "I want my daddy back, Donald is not my dad, he is just some jerk in his underwear with a big belly!"; Donald slapped him on his face so hard he fell to the creaky wooden floors. King cried out loud, saying "I want my daddy back, I want my daddy back!"as tears fell down his reddish face. His mom picked him up, embracing him, comforting him like a baby; saying that his dad is away and he has a new dad now. King sobbed quietly while his arms was around his mom's neck, whimpering "daddy daddy, where are you?", and he fell asleep on his mother's arms with his head quietly on her shoulders.

During days when Donald was not around, was King at his happiest. He would play outside with the other kids and watch Shaider through the neighbor's window. King would peek through a huge window with twisted iron grills and held on to them as he enjoys Shaider defeat the mignons of Puma Ley Ar.

The santol tree was bearing fruits and his kid neighbors would climb the tree and pick some. There he had a taste of his first santol fruit. King was didn't like the taste of the meat, but he loved the juicy, cottony soft seeds it, with its sour taste with a hint of sweetness. The rainy season came, King loves the water. He loves the water so much that he always liked to bathe in the rain if it is hard enough. One day, while he was bathing in the rain his right slipper broke, so one of his older guy neighbor friend did, was to make him a boat out of his broken slipper, a few wires for the fence of the boat and a little piece of plastic for the sail, King was very happy. The rain gave me a strange comfort.

It was Fiesta time in Calamba and there was a perya (fair) in the town Plaza. King and his mom happily checked out what was there to see in the town fair, it was a warm evening and his eyes caught the attention of the three colored cubes with a different color in each side of each cube, it was called the color game. People would bet on a table with squares of different colors that are also in the cubes; the cubes are placed atop a briefcase like case held by a length of wood, when the wood is released, and the cubes fall, the color on top of the cubes is the winning color. King's mom gave him a few coins, and he bet on a few colors he fancied, luckily he won every bet he made, doubling at each bet. He and his mom bought rice cakes that night from the money he won. With a few more money to spare from his winnings, he had his first ferris wheel ride.

His mom told him they are moving to a new place. So they were packing their bags again, this time, the bags were replaced with boxes for their clothes and with such very few stuff left, they had only 4 boxes of belongings plus an electric fan which he was asked to carry.

to be continued...


  1. I like it. A dark fairytale. Let's hope for its own happily ever after.

    grabe ang hirap siguro ng palipat-lipat ng bahay.

  2. bat sila palipat lipat? mystery eh'

  3. I guess this is your life story... feel ko lang.

  4. ooohh i like it, i waas totally glued reading hanggang sa natapos ko! excited na ako sa susunod!
    *going to part 2!*

    (i'm starting to thinking na this might be your story. there was a part that said "The rain gave me a strange comfort.")