Thursday, March 30, 2006

A Simple Love Story 2

It's been three weeks and I haven't seen her. Not in class, not around campus. Where could she be? God, I miss my ballpen. I hope she didn't lose it, Ana would freak if I lost it.

Ana gave me that pen on our second year anniversary. Now, she's with George. That's love, I suppose. My pen doesn't change sides; in fact, we've been through some tough times together. Quizzes, long exams, finals, essays, poems, even love letters to Ana. I miss those times. My new Pilot ballpen isn't the same as the Cross pen. It has a different feel, a different weight, a different way of writing. I'm not the same person I used to be without my Cross. I had to find that girl! Where could she be?

The bell rang and Miss Marcela concluded her lecture by encouraging us to vote in the upcoming Barangay Elections. Wanda must've used up all her cuts by now. I walked up to Miss Marcela to ask her if she knew where Wanda could be.

"Um, ... ma'am, do you know if Wanda has dropped this course?"

"Wanda? Ah! My dear, she dropped this course during the first day."

The first day! The day I lent her my Cross pen. I mentally kicked myself, cursing myself for my stupidity. I kept my composure and asked Miss Marcela if she knew where Wanda might have transferred to.

"My dear, do you think I could remember what was written on her load revision form? I think not. Now, if you don't mind, I have to prepare for my next class."

Miss Marcela packed her dilapidated Philippine Constitution into her briefcase. I turned and left, thinking about how life is going to be more miserable. I heard someone calling my name. It was Miss Marcela. I turned around and faced her.

"I do remember seeing the Psychology department chairperson's signature on it, though."

"Thank you, it's as good a lead as any," I said. I quickly offered to help her carry her bags but she declined, urging me to go ahead and begin my quest.

I quickly hurried to the Psychology department and talked to the secretary.

"Excuse me, ..."

"In a minute," she said as she typed a few more lines into her computer. "Have a seat."

I sat on the chair opposite her and looked around the room. Pretty cozy department, with classical music playing in the back and the smell of coffee in the air.

"What can I do for you, young man?" the secretary asked.

"I'm looking for Wanda, one of your students."

"Wanda who?"

"Well, ... I don't recall her surname."

"I think you have a problem there. Do you know what year she's in?"


"You definitely have a problem. You don't know her year, you don't know her surname, for all you know, this Wanda might just be her nickname. What do you want me to do now? Gather some psychics and look for her?"

"It's okay, I'll find her on my own. Thank you very much for your help." This secretary was too hyper for me. I started to get up when the door to the department chairperson's office opened. I heard two voices.

"Are you sure I can do what I want with it?" said a woman’s voice. It sounded oddly familiar.

"Definitely," answered an older female voice.

"Okay, thanks for taking time out to talk to me."

A hand gripped the door.

"Wait a minute, do you have one of these already?" asked the older voice.

"No, I haven't gotten any." The hand disappeared back into the office. The younger voice sounded familiar. Could it be? Could it be her? The door opened again and a girl stopped in the door frame. "Thanks," she said. I looked at the secretary but she had gone back to typing her work. I stood up straight and waited for the girl to emerge from the office. The girl turned around and let the door close automatically. I caught a glimpse of the Benetton bag slung over her shoulder. She waved good-bye at the chairperson and walked towards the front door. It was Wanda!

"Bye, Beth," she said to the secretary.

"Bye," said the secretary, not even looking up from her work.

Wanda looked directly at me and smiled. She had the most penetrating and sparkling eyes I had ever seen. And that smile! My legs started to wobble and I could not help myself smiling back at her. I stood there, transfixed. Before I knew it, she had already turned the knob and went out the door.

She didn't remember me!

The door slammed shut and I realized that if I let her go, I probably won't see her again. I had to get my Cross back.

"Hey, ..." I began to say, and rushed for the door. I pulled it open and just saw her turn left at the corner.

"Excuse me, miss..."

She turned around, her right hand clutching her bag. "Yes?"

"I don't think you remember me," I said. "Three weeks ago you were in Miss Marcela's class? Remember you came in late? Do you recall that you wrote in your journal that your boyfriend broke up with you, that you felt the your relationship wasn't going anywhere with him? Do you remember the pen you used? Well, I'm the owner of that pen and I want it back."

"Wait a minute! Have you been reading my journal? Don't you know the meaning of 'private' and that journals are under this particular heading?"

"I'm sorry but my curiosity got the better of me. You were very depressed and all."

"Oh! I recall now! You were the one who gave me tissue paper. The silver Cross pen? Well, ... I don't have it with me."

"Huh?" I almost fainted.

"Don't be alarmed, I just didn't bring it with me today. I could return it to you on Wednesday, right after Miss Marcela's class. Is that okay with you?"

"Okay, I guess that's reasonable enough. There's nothing else I could do, right?"

"You'll get your pen back, I promise. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to catch my carpool. See you!"

"I'll be counting the minutes..."

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A Simple Love Story 1

She walked into the room. All heads turned toward her. She was wearing a plain white shirt and blue jeans; her looks weren't stunning, yet there was an air about her that made people look twice. Slung over her shoulder was a United Colors of Benetton bag containing all her school things.

"Find a vacant seat and sit down, young lady," said the teacher, Miss Marcela.

She scanned the room and spotted the empty chair on my left. She walked along the side of the room and stopped beside me.

"Is this seat taken?"

I shook my head and gestured for her to sit on the vacant seat. She sat down in the chair, placing her bag on the floor in front of her. The other students turned their heads back to Miss Marcela, who continued where she left off, describing the present political situation in the Philippines. I asked the girl her name.

"Wanda," she said, and then ignored me. She leaned over the armrest and opened her bag. She took out a Corona medium sized 60-sheet notebook. She placed it before her and started to look for a pen. She searched the pockets of her bag but could not find any writing material. She turned to me and asked if she could borrow a pen.

"Sure," I replied. I reached into my pocket and handed her my silver Cross ballpen. She thanked me and opened her notebook. I assumed that she was going to take down notes but she started writing in her notebook, completely ignoring the teacher’s lecture. From time to time, she brushed back the shoulder length hair that fell across her face. She continued to write, oblivious of the discussion going on between Miss Marcela and a student in the front row about the rice shortage affecting the purchasing power of the Filipino peasant. I peeked at what she was writing. It was a journal. From what I could determine of her handwriting, she had just broken up with Tom, her boyfriend, because she felt that their relationship wasn't going anywhere.

I looked at the teacher, who was now lecturing on the subject of human rights and how we students seemed so apathetic to what was happening around us. I glanced back at Wanda and discovered that she had stopped writing. Her eyes were closed and tears were streaming down her face. I reached into my back pocket and took out a pack of tissue paper I bought from the cafeteria a few minutes before the class because I left my handkerchief at home. I opened it and took out a sheet. I handed the tissue to her. She looked at my outstretched hand for a moment before accepting the tissue. She wiped the tears from her eyes and looked at me. She crumpled the paper and whispered, "Thank you."

I nodded and asked, "Are you all right?"

"I'm okay," she said. She looked at her watch. I looked at mine. Miss Marcela was wrapping up her lecture on how the Cold War hadn't ended. The class was about to end; everybody was closing their notebooks and crumpling their sketches and got ready leave. Wanda closed her journal and shoved it into her bag. The bell rang, she zipped her bag and stood up. She slung her bag over her shoulder and moved to the sides.

"Sorry," she said as she stepped on my shoes.

"It's okay," I said. She walked to the front of the class. She approached Miss Marcela, who was placing her notes into her bulky briefcase. They talked for a while, Wanda making some gestures with her hands, Miss Marcela nodding and opening a folder in front of them. The teacher got out her pen and signed something on the folder. They both smiled and Wanda quickly left the room. I watched how she walked, performing that strut of her that made more than a few heads turn. She disappeared from my vision before I realized that she still had my Cross ballpen! I quickly packed my notebook and the handouts Miss Marcela gave on the current issue of the oil price hike into my backpack. I rushed outside and headed for the stairs. I nudged my way through the crowd, stepping on a few toes and elbowing some poor guy in the ribs.



I finally got down the steps. I looked left and then right. Wanda was nowhere in sight. Damn! That was a fine ballpen. Oh, well, she'll probably give it back to me during the next class.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

The Missing 1

illustrated by Joel Cotejar; written and colored by Reginald Ting

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*Originally appeared in Hiwaga Illustrated Stories #2831, published by Atlas Publishing, Inc., December 2001.

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

DC Kids and Superheroes #24

DC Superheroes #24 reprints the finale (part 5 & 6) of Superman/Batman: Supergirl From Krypton by Jeph Loeb and Michael Turner; and Supergirl #0 / Superman/Batman #19 by Jeph Loeb, Ian Churchill and Norm Rapmund.

DC Kids #24 reprints Teen Titans Go! #24 by J. Torres, Mike Norton and Lary Stucker; and Justice League Unlimited #4 by Adam Beechen, Carlo Barberi and Walden Wong.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Tales From College: Otherworldly Stalker

To save on gas, Annie and her friends decided to carpool on their way to a party. Her friends parked their cars in one of the parking areas in their school, and they all piled into Henry's car. After the party, they all returned to pick up their cars. The others quickly left, and only two cars remained in the parking area: Henry's and Ramon's, another one of their friends. Henry and Annie (who was hitching a ride with Henry) talked a little more with Ramon.

Ramon's car was an old one, a car that he had painstakingly restored to become roadworthy again. It was one of those '70s models, and he was really proud of his achievement in getting it to work.

But that night his car would not start. He popped the hood and checked the engine for any loose connections. Henry and Annie didn't know much about cars so all they could do was watch and offer Ramon encouragement.

Now off to the side of the parking lot was a big calachuchi tree, and beside it the generator unit for one of the school's buildings. There was some shrubbery growing around the base of the generator unit. This last bit may seem like a trivial detail but what drew Annie's attention to them was that they started moving of their own accord! There was no breeze in the air, and the temperature suddenly dropped. Annie grabbed Henry's arm, surprising him.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"Something's coming towards us," she said.

Henry looked around them but saw no one. "Are you sure? I don't...," he began to say, but he wasn't able to finish because he saw the bushes by the generator unit sway back and forth. Slowly at first but then they began to shake rather violently.

That's when they heard the click-clack of hooves striking the pavement. It was a distinct sound, and even Ramon looked up on his work to comment on it.

"Did you guys hear that?" he asked.

Henry and Ramon glanced at Annie. She was staring straight ahead at the calachuchi tree.

"Annie? Are you okay?"

Annie seemed to shake herself out of a trance. She got up and headed to Henry's car.

"Let's get out of here," she said. "I think you should just come back for your car in the morning, Ramon.”

Without argue, the three of them piled into Henry's car and drove off towards Ramon's house. It was only during the trip that Annie revealed that there was a kapre residing in the calachuchi tree.

Annie had known about the kapre. She had seen it watching her whenever she would pass near the tree during the day in school. Sometimes she would see it following her, but it would keep its distance.

Tonight, though, was different. When they heard the click-clack of hooves on the pavement, it was the kapre. It had gotten down from the calachuchi tree and was advancing towards them, towards Annie. That was when she urged the others to get into Henry's car and leave.

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*First appeared in True Philippine Ghost Stories book 11.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Tales From College: The Knight

Jenna's brother, Joey, was depressed. He had just found out that the girl he was courting likes someone else. He was also angry because the girl had strung him along all these months. The least she could have done was tell me that I didn't have a snowball's chance in hell, Joey thought.

Joey found out about the girl's feelings through a friend of a friend. Apparently, the girl had confided to that friend some time ago that she fancied someone else (other than Joey) even though Joey was such a nice guy. She said that Joey wasn’t the type of man she wanted to be seen around with. When this bit of news reached Joey, he took it hard. He hit the bottle, determined to get wasted.

Jenna had just come home and saw her brother drinking by himself in the living room. Their parents were out that night and wouldn't be back until early morning. Marty (her boyfriend at that time) had brought her home and was still outside. She asked Marty to stay and help her with Joey. She called Annie and told her the problem, and they all agreed that Joey shouldn't be alone that night. They dragged Joey to his place to talk over his problem over a few cups of coffee.

But even with the fine company and good food (Jenna is an excellent cook), Joey couldn't get his mind off the injustice he felt was done to him. They were all talking in the sala when Annie cocked her head to one side and sort of zoned out.

"What is it?" whispered Jenna.

"Oh, it's nothing," Annie said.

"I hate when you do that."

"Do what?" asked Marty.

"Nothing. I just spaced out a bit there," said Annie.

Then they heard strange sounds inside Marty's house: a jangle of harness and the clip-clop of horse's hooves.

"Does anyone else smell that?" asked Marty. He sniffed the air. "Smells like wet leather?"

"There's someone else here with us," Annie said.

"Oh no, not in my house. My parents would freak!" cried Marty (he had known of Annie's abilities through Jenna).

"What are you talking about?" asked Joey. He didn't know of Annie's abilities. Yet.

"Don't worry, this is only a one-time thing," said Annie. "He said he had to show himself because Joey's in great need."

"Me? Who's showing himself?" Joey asked.

Jenna put a hand on Joey's arm. "Shh. Annie does this sometimes. It's one of her gifts, or curse, depending on how she feels about it."

"You mean she talks to spirits and stuff?"

They heard a clanking of armor.

"Okay, I heard that. What's this ghost like?"

"He's not really a ghost, per se, but a spirit guide of yours. He looks like a knight, and he's fully armored, like he's about to go to battle," said Annie. "He said not to worry, that everything would turn out fine. Stop agonizing over that girl."

"And how does he know that? Has he seen the future?"

"He could be an ancestor or even you in a past life," said Annie. "Apparently he has seen your future. He also said to tell you that you were never meant to be together, that someone much better is waiting for you."

"Well, what can I say? That's good to know, I guess," said Joey.

And with that, the knight left. There was a cold gust of wind, but all the windows were closed. Marty, Joey, and Jenna looked at Annie.

"Don't look at me, I just told you what he told me," said Annie defensively.

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*First appeared in True Philippine Ghost Stories book 11.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Tales From College: The Video Project

One of the assignments of Ms. Aguirre's English class was to come up with a short video documentary. Patrick and his group mates chose to tackle ghosts in school.

The university Patrick was in is one of the older ones in the country. It was rumored to have been built over wide meadowland, which was used during Spanish times as a gathering point for local insurrectionists. It was even rumored that a massacre of local Filipinos by a Spanish platoon had occurred there.

One of the more interesting stories they learned was that of the Chemistry building. It was rumored that a ghost haunted its halls, especially the stairwell. Some say it was one of the old teachers, still wandering the hallways after he had died. Some say that it was someone who was murdered and that his soul continues to look for justice.

Patrick's group took some video footage of the exterior of the Chemistry building. When they got home and viewed what they took, they got the shock of their lives.

The stairwell of the Chemistry building could be seen from outside, as the walls on that particular side were made of glass panels. What Patrick caught on camera was a white silhouette going up the staircase and turning into one of the rooms. Everybody who saw the video could not believe their eyes.

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*First appeared in True Philippine Ghost Stories book 11.

Tales from College part 1

Jenna attended college in Los Banos. She rented a dorm room nearby and went home to Manila every weekend. Since the move, she has had to adjust her life. She missed her friends, her barkada, back in high school the most.

Her best friend in high school, Annie, went to college in one of the schools on Katipunan. She had an active third eye, and she would see things that normal people wouldn't see. The only person she confided this to was Jenna.

Jenna called Annie and Berna (the third person of their barkada) and invited the two of them to spend a day with her in Los Banos, so that they could hang out and catch up with each other's lives. The three of them went around town and after dinner, they went back to Jenna's dorm. They talked about adjusting to college, their crushes, and all other things girls talk about.

Jenna's room was on the second floor, and she had a small balcony outside her room. As Jenna went to the bathroom, Annie went out to the balcony for a cigarette. Jenna was not a smoker and disapproved of Annie's habit.

A few minutes later, Annie came back inside the room. She was pale and visibly shaken.

'Annie? What wrong?' Jenna asked. Thinking that Annie might have seen something horrible, she added, 'Did you see anything that scared you?'

'No, no, I was just surprised, that's all,' said Annie. She sat down and drank some water.

'Er, is it here with us?' asked Berna. She nervously looked around the room.

'No, Berns, it's not here,' said Annie.

'So, what did you see?' Jenna prodded.

'I saw a woman walking on the ground floor. She was in white,' Annie said. 'I didn't mind her at first, but I knew something was different about her. I watched her walk, and to my surprise, when she stopped right below me. She looked up and me and suddenly she flew up right in front of my face!'

'That is so scary!' Berna said. 'Do you have any more stories?'

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*Appearing in True Philippine Ghost Stories book 11.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Sara's uncle Lando had a massive heart attack and was confined in the ICU of a well-known hospital in Makati. The doctors didn't give her uncle Lando much time to live. He had slipped into a coma and they fear that he would not wake up anymore. Uncle Lando's relatives decided to take turns watching over him, in the event he did wake up. Being a night owl, Sara volunteered to take the graveyard shift (from 12 midnight to 5 a.m.).

One night (early morning actually) Sara came home from the hospital. As was her habit, she took a quick shower before turning in. But as she stepped out of the shower and toweled herself dry, she smelled the aroma of sampaguitas. Not just a whiff but a strong fragrance, like the bathroom was filled with the scent of flowers. The aroma lingered for a minute or two before disappearing.

Tired, Sara shrugged it off as her imagination. Just as she was about to sleep though, her phone rang. Who could be calling at this hour? She thought. But deep down she knew that there was only one reason for anyone to call her. She picked up the phone.

'Sara, uncle Lando has passed away,' said her cousin.

'Thank you,' was all Sara could say, as she numbly put the phone back into its cradle. Instead of the deep sadness she expected to feel, she felt peace, as if her uncle had said goodbye to her before he moved on.

Later in the afternoon, uncle Lando's relatives gathered at the funeral parlor while waiting for his body to be embalmed. They were all quiet and sedate, each one silently reminiscing the happy times with the jolly uncle Lando.

Aunt Vera (who isn't really a relative but a close friend of the family) arrived and gave her condolences to uncle Lando's wife and children. She sat down and waited with the family.

'I was having lunch with some friends when the most peculiar thing happened,' aunt Vera said. 'Just as we were finishing our meal, we all smelled sampaguita and calachuchi. It smelled like we were in a funeral home. It wasn't just me who smelled it; my guests and household help smelled it too.'

'That was Lando probably bidding you goodbye. You know how much he loved to tease you,' said uncle Lando's sister.

'It probably was. But the funny thing was, I only found out about his passing when you called me this afternoon,' said aunt Vera. True enough, the family had only informed close friends and relatives about uncle Lando's passing. The obituary would only come out the next day.

A little while later, a middle-aged man walked into the funeral parlor. By this time, uncle Lando's body was laid out peacefully in his coffin.

'Um, I'm looking for Mr. Lando Reyes?' said the man.

'Yes, I'm his widow. May I help you?'

'You see, ma'am, I have his car outside. He told me this morning to deliver it here when I was finished repairing it,' said the man. He looked confused as it dawned on him that the owner of the car was lying in a casket.

Everybody looked at each other. 'Please, tell us about it,' said Sara.

The man identified himself as mang Erning. He's the mechanic uncle Lando went to for all his car repairs. 'Early this morning, Mr. Reyes came into the shop. We even talked and joked a bit, you know how he is. I mean, was. He asked about his car and I told him that it would be finished within the day. He said to bring it to this funeraria when I was done.

'I didn't question him about his choice of location. Maybe he was visiting someone here, I thought at the time. What I didn't expect was that he'd be the one lying here!'

'What time did you say he visited you?' asked Sara.

'About 8:30 this morning,' said mang Erning.

'He died at 5 in the morning,' said uncle Lando's widow.

And it doesn't end there.

Mrs. Reyes (uncle Lando's widow) had ordered a couple of maidenhair ferns from her florist, mang Dan, to add to the decor at the wake. They had agreed that mang Dan would deliver it to the Reyes residence and that the family would take care of bringing the ferns to the funeral parlor.

Mang Dan's farm was in Cavite, and he made a special trip that day to get the plants to Mrs. Reyes. He had delivered several orders before to the Reyes residence and knew how to get there.

But that night, he got lost. For some reason he kept turning into the wrong street. When he finally got to the Reyes house, it was near midnight. He just dropped off the plants with the household staff and told them that he'd return a few days later to collect on the payment.

A few days later, he got lost again going back to the Reyes house. He had talked to Mrs. Reyes earlier, and they had agreed that she was leaving a check with the maid, so that mang Dan can come and collect it at anytime. When he finally got there and got the payment, he suddenly smelled an almost overpowering sampaguita fragrance. He quickly got into his pickup and drove off.

Later, when he related this story to Mrs. Reyes, she said to him, 'That was probably my husband, most likely asking you why you were late. You know him, he was always prompt and expected everyone to be the same.'

*Appearing in True Philippine Ghost Stories book 11.

Monday, March 20, 2006


Due to unforseen circumstances, there will be no comic today. Come back next week.

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Prize Catch 8

illustrated by Rol Enriquez; written and colored by Reginald Ting

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Monday, March 06, 2006

Prize Catch 7

illustrated by Rol Enriquez; written and colored by Reginald Ting

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