Illustration by Rob Cham
Suburban legends: A trilogy of terrors year III
Stefan Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) - October 28, 2016 - 6:40pm

MANILA, Philippines - Boil, boil, toil and trouble, and we’ve got plenty.  The remainder of PDiggy’s term may be fraught with horror, but that doesn’t stop us from bringing you the bloodiest of tales in living color.  Stranger things abound when you live in the Upside-Down.

Episode 1: Hair Everywhere

Does she need freedom or does she need discipline?

There was a time when shampoo, conditioner, and probably a weekly hot oil treatment solved everything. Mocha Uson used to think so as well.

After a plethora of attempts to shut down her Facebook page she called her blog, Mocha’s once-flawlessly smooth hair has become an awry mass of wires. “Aswang,” her condo neighbors whispered about, giving the impression that the manananggal and its ilk can thrive in an urban landscape.

Once a social media darling, Mocha now resorts to midnight comments section readings and trolling. The refresh button she used to call her talisman has been working against her ever since her right to free speech and misinformation  has been trumped by online responsibility campaigns.

Her disheveled weave has since taken a life of its own.  Even in unholy hours when she herself is asleep in her sofa bed, her locks of anguish continue to charge through the night for any sign of lies and misplaced angst just to sustain themselves.

Until then, we are inclined to smile through our fears and anger.

Episode 2: Not Your YA Dystopian Fiction

The year is 2020.  A tsunami of ambiguity has inundated the entire nation.  Making amends for years of shooting from the hip, the President has decided to address the nation every late night through interpretative dance.  After all, Andanar, Yasay, and the lot have long since submitted their resignation letters to work for the power sector, hoping to make use of their spinning skills for turbines.

Meanwhile, classrooms across the country have replaced Vengeance Is Not Ours, It’s God’s and Invictus with Mocha Uson’s Do We Really Need Freedom? for the annual declamation piece.  Whoever wins the gold medal for embodying the social media queen’s wrath also wins the grand prize: surviving another day in the dystopia.

While several hapless barong Tagalog-clad children get slaughtered for alleged drug trafficking, China has gained precedence over the Philippines through massive exports of cardboards and packaging tapes.  The country now subsists on Leni Robredo’s alleged lugaw on the brink of economic collapse.  On the bright side, this carb-laden diet continues to prove beneficial to Manileños and Manileñas who have resorted to parkour in an effort to combat the daily EDSA traffic.

It has been a year since George Orwell rose from his grave only to mutter, “I told you so.”  He has since been appointed as the head writer for PBB.

The fate of Filipinos hangs in the balance. How do three fingers and a proverbial Mockingjay win against a fistbump emoji?

Episode 3: First Encounter with the Unknown

I knew it spelled bad luck the moment I lit the candle with my Pall Mall, but I did it anyway.  I was one to believe basic Wiccan-wannabe BFFs—that the Mercury retrograde was to blame for everything and that ensconced in the heart of the Blood Moon was the answer to life’s most mystifying questions.

Yet, there I was, putting chalk to cement.  An inverted pentagram shone in the light of the full moon, with sacred names Primeumaton, Tetragrammaton, and Anaphaxeton scribbled in what was supposed to be a spiritual fortification for my conjuring ceremony. The bar’s parking lot was empty, and it certainly passed for a grove of occultism amid a concrete forest.

In the middle of the star, I placed a full bottle of Brew Kettle and my smartphone set on Tinder.  Those were the most potent ingredients I could find.  I knew it was only a minute or two before something broke the surface.

“Hey, or something,” a boy mumbles through his beanie and plaid button-down, emerging from the shadows of the Michael Cera stereotype. “I used to be exactly like you.”  The smoke enveloping him was either otherworldly or emanating from his vape.

Thus spoke the softboy.

* * *

Tweet the author @Watdahel_Marcel.

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