Feast of the Nazarene, the air was cool and crisp. It was the second
week of January 1997. Thousands of people gathered on the street
during the parade of the Black Nazarene. Amidst the coolness of the
weather, everybody’s sweating due to the heavy crowd. Some are
praying, crying, shouting and some even fainted.
On the second floor in one of the houses in a small alley in San
Andres, two people were getting intimate , Sabel, 38, and
Michael, 23 years old. Aunt Sabel, as Michael fondly calls her when he
was young was his mom’s friend. She owns a small store while her
husband, Tony, works in the Municipal Hall of Metro Manila as a
security guard. She has two teenage daughters.
Overcame with passion, they were oblivious to their surroundings.
Suddenly, Oliver, Mike’s childhood friend shouted that Sabel’s husband
is coming. Micheal Jumped out of the window to find Tony face to
face. He was holding a baton and was about strike Mike on the head
when he heard a click behind him. Oliver was holding a revolver. He
was aiming it to Tony’s head while Mike started his motor and sped off.
Mike thanked his friends for covering for him while Tony was cursing.
Michael Benedicto, young, handsome and notorious with women. He
was born and grew up in Punta, Santa Ana Manila but moved to
Benavidez Binondo, the Chinatown of Manila a year after his father died
when he was two years old. His mom's ancestral home in Binondo was
big and old. It was a three-story house made of Tiesa wood and
Mahogany. It has many rooms and once belonged to his grandparents
on his mothers’ side. His mother is half Chinese and his Chinese
grandfather once used this house as a brothel and a gambling place.
When her mother’s parents died, the children abandoned the place and
had their own lives. Only Michael’s family came back to this house. His
mother had the rooms rented at an affordable price. It was usually
occupied because it is cheap and most people who stayed here were
transient. Some of them had odd jobs.
Michael’s father was hailed in Iloilo city, a good-natured and
hardworking man. He’s a mestizo with Spanish ancestry. He was once
a seminarian in one of the congregations in Santa Cruz Manila when he
was smitten by the beautiful and sweet Esmeralda. They were young
and in love and so in 1970, they eloped. Agnes was born in 1971,
Esther in 1972, and Michael in 1974. Life was doing fine. The young
couple was able to live a modest life in Sta. Ana Manila. Nestor worked
in Asahi Manufacturing Company as Production Head while Esmeralda
sells native delicacies like rice cakes. They were happy until Nestor died
of a heart attack. It was so sudden nobody was prepared for it. Michael
was barely walking at that time and his two older sisters were too
young then as well. His mother was in grief for one year until she
decided to sell their house in Santa Ana and move to Binondo.
The Benedicto children grew up well with the help of their aunt Victoria,
Esmeralda’s younger sister was then a teenager. She loves
Michael so much and he adores her. Wherever Aunt Victoria goes, he’s
with her. The time came when he has to undergo circumcision and his
mom wanted to accompany him but he refused. He only wanted his
aunt Victoria. When he turned eleven years old, a man came to their
house and talked to his mom. He was asking Victoria’s hand in
marriage. Young Michael didn’t understand anything about it until his
aunt had to move out of their house. He felt abandoned.
Priesthood is not a very enticing vocation for young Mike. He’d rather
go with his friends and play pool, or smoke cigars and once in a while,
dope. Nevertheless, he is a very caring brother and son to his mother.
He was able to finish High School but didn’t go to college. He was not
very fascinated in school so he accepted odd jobs like selling
newspapers, run errands, help at stores and sell things. Binondo is a
big town where everything sells as long as it has value. He loves
making money a lot- and older women. At night he used to eavesdrop
on some of their tenants and watch them undress. But he’s most
fascinated with married women especially single mothers. There’s
something in them that enamors him. It transcends from his manhood
to his soul. Maybe it’s their vulnerability or their nurturing.
My name is Cheska. Francheska Denise Dela Cruz. I am 20 years old.
My hometown is in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija but for half of my life, I
stayed here in Manila. I finished Elementary in my hometown and I
studied High School in St. Scholastica in Remedios St. Malate, Manila. I
stayed at my aunt's house in Leon Guinto and studied college at Miriam
College. During my college years, I stayed in a condominium so, I was
practically on my own though not all the time. I always had a
companion, mostly men of various ages and lifestyles. I am
promiscuous. I am not a nympho but mostly because I was lonely.
Growing up, I used to be close to my dad. I was a daddy’s girl. I
always go with him whenever he goes to our rice plantation and rice
mills. He used to be very proud of me and calls me his angel. His
angel, until I reached the age of 12. Many people were telling him that
I don’t look like him. My skin is white, I have a long, slightly upturned
nose, deep-set of eyes with the color of brown. My face is heart-
shaped, which I got from my mother. None from my father who has
brown skin and big, black eyes. My cousins started teasing me that I
was just my mother’s daughter, not my dad.
My dad became distant, cold, and uncaring. My mother is beautiful.
They said I looked like her.She used to represent Queen Elena during
Santacruzan, a ritual pageant in Flowers of May festival in their town
when she was a teenager. I used to ask my mom If my dad was truly
my father. She would look at me and tells me I was being ridiculous.
My dad used to go abroad before I was born. My mom was working in
Manila when they met. My mom’s friend and godmother said it was
love at first sight. My dad went back abroad for one year and came
back to be with my mom. He brought my mom here in his hometown
and started a business. He bought a farm and had it rented to the
farmers. For the remaining part of the land, he hired people to grow
rice and corn.
I was 16 when I realized the truth. I was not indeed my father’s
daughter. No need for DNA to prove that. Staring at my beautiful face
in front of a mirror in a cheap motel, I can’t help but ask, “Who are
you?” while I was with a man whom I met at a party. He was telling
me over and over that, I drove him crazy. That was the last time I saw
A few months after I finished University, I got a call from one of the
prestigious publishing companies in the metro- Lunar Publishing
Company. The owner and Editor-in-Chief is Dale Trinidad, a lesbian. I
saw him made a speech in our school back in college and I must say, I
was dazzled by him. He has an androgynous personality. He was in my
mind the whole semester.
I never expected them to call me. I was asked to go directly to Sir
Dale’s office. His room was quite big but I must say, not quite as I
expected. It was rather plain, simple. With some books on the
bookshelf on the right, a computer and a laptop on his desk, some
office chairs, and that’s it. But his presence, there’s something about
him. A kind of panache combined with an enigma that could drive a
woman crazy. He’s in his mid-40s but he still looks in his 30s. Tall, slim
and seems to be of Chinese descent. He introduced himself and had a
quick interview. My heart was pounding wildly but I have to keep my
head. He has a timid smile but his eyes- his eyes stare back at me as if
he can see through my soul.
After the interview, he said that they will call. When I stepped out of
her office, there was a long line of applicants for the five positions. My
luck was slim. I went straight to the restroom and washed my face. I
was contemplating what I should do with my life when the door opened
and Sir Dale stepped in. I felt awkward. He smiled at me and he
washed his hands. “Tough day, huh?” he said. “Yes” was all I can
answer. I told him I have to go and he nodded. When I was about to
leave, he called me, “Cheska, you’re beautiful”. I was a bit surprised,
he called me using my nickname. I answered, “Thank you” and I went
out of their office. As I was walking along the street of Emerald Avenue
in Ortigas towards my condo, I couldn’t help but asked myself, what
was that all about? That night, I couldn’t get him out of my head.
Before I drift off to sleep, I received a message from Amanda. Dale’s
secretary. I got the job and I have to report to the office by 11 am for
my first assignment.
Before 10:30 am I was already in their office at Orient Square. I met
my team leader Ms. Therese. We were given a brief orientation about
the company. Immediately we had a brainstorm. There were five of us
new editors and writers and we were given a task to go to a particular
place or talk to a certain person. It was not easy because you’ll be
talking to a stranger without knowing their intentions. It’s a risky job
but the compensation is good. Dale is mild-tempered and listens to
By 1 pm, our lunch arrived. They’ve ordered Korean food. I was not
interested in Korean food because I am not into spicy stuff. Every time
my mom cooks something spicy, she cooks another dish for me. It
stings my tongue and mouth. I just looked at my food because it was
so red with Gochujang and Korean Chili pepper. Sir Dale was looking at
me and he approached me. He gave me something and he said, “Mine
is Beef Bulgogi. This is not spicy, have some Chapche. This is a Korean
noodle, thought you might like it too.” When I looked at him, he was
smiling at me. I told him it is okay. My food is fine. He insisted that I
should take his food. I said thank you and felt uneasy. Everyone in the
room looked at me including Ms. Therese. Sir Dale said, “I know her
father. He doesn’t like spicy food.” The image of my father suddenly
crossed my mind and it lingered for a while. My father likes spicy food
By 5 pm, we all know our assignments. We were given a budget and
some gadgets needed. A car will transport us to our destination and
will be picked up at a specific time. Our subjects were already called
and were expecting our appointment with us. I looked at the place
where I should conduct an interview and I must say I was appalled.
Where on earth is Sandoval Avenue? I have lived here in Pasig City for
more than four years since college days but I haven’t heard of such a
place. I have never reached that far. My mother will be horrified if she
learned about this. I have an older brother, by the way. She’s my
mother’s firstborn from another man. They didn’t get married because
my mother said they had fallen out of love. Their separation was
amicable. My older brother is now 35 years old and he has two kids. He
used to tell me to take good care of mom. “No matter what happens,
don’t leave her.” He used to say. I told him I won’t.
The following day, I found myself in one of the busy markets in
Sandoval Avenue. He lives in Acacia alley, near a dike. It was a rugged
and dangerous place. I was told to look for my subject there. My first
assignment was to make an autobiography of a man who was
considered as no shame, no dignity in his time. It was kind of intriguing
but when I got to the place, I nearly backed out. I was in deep thought
about whether to continue or not when I heard a voice behind me
asking me where I was going. In front of me stood a man with a kind
expression. I told him I was looking for Michael Benedicto. He told me I
was looking at him.
Michael BenedictoI went to Sandoval around 8:30 am just like we agreed. He told me he is a morning person and he is always busy. Nevertheless, he ushered me in his clean and modest house with lots of plants, some vegetables like eggplants and bitter gourd which hangs on its vine. He has some fruit trees like Jackfruit, some mango trees, and caimito. I was amazed
It was 1994 I felt ecstatic because, for the first time, I had a real job. I felt important and proud. I was then twenty years old and my mother cooked Pancit Malabon and my favorite Kare Kare. My mother was the best cook in the whole town of Binondo and people often asked her to cook for them during parties. My oldest sister inherited this talent. After rigid two months of training, we were sieved and I belonged to the ten lucky ones who got the position in
December of 1996 was the most fantastic month of my life. For the first time, I felt complete. I learned how to dream. I have decided to enroll in a computer school because I wanted to learn how to use Microsoft office. I wanted to learn about the internet because at that time it was the rave. They said it was just dial-up but I still can’t get the grasp. I have learned to use Lotus 123 because that is what most people in the office use. It was not easy because I have to memorize a <
I used to call her aunt Katerina when I was young. My mother didn’t like her because she says her morality is questionable. Oliver’s mom didn’t like her either but her husband told her that she’s their youngest sister and he has to take care of her. Besides, she doesn’t stay in their place all the time. She has three children. Her two eldest children were from another man and the youngest was from another man. Her oldest
Cheska didn’t notice the time. It was already 6 p.m. and their company driver messaged her that he is on his way. She already had lunch with Uncle Mike as she fondly calls him. It was already her third visit and by Saturday which is the following day she has to report to the office for her weekly submission. He cooked Menudo for lunch and while eating, they talked light stuff like their families. He told her about her 3 nieces The whole Sunday I was trying to compile everything that I had gathered from my conversation with Mr. Benedicto. I was still at the beginning of the story but I’m already anxious about what comes next. My mind was like a windmill that weekend and I have to drop everything just to think. Michael Benedicto, who are you? What was your effect on women in your time? Looking at him now he seemed to be so mild, ple
The 36th of Michael Benedicto Chapter 7
The whole Sunday I was trying to compile everything that I had gathered from my conversation with Mr. Benedicto. I was still at the beginning of the story but I’m already anxious about what comes next. My mind was like a windmill that weekend and I have to drop everything just to think. Michael Benedicto, who are you? What was your effect on women in your time? Looking at him now he seemed to be so mild, ple
Katerina was an extraordinary woman. She was seventeen years older than me and has more experience in sex. She was my mentor. She taught me various unimaginable positions, doing it non-stop for hours. She was a wild woman and she drives me crazy. Our relationship was just lust and we do it anywhere in particular. We’ve done it in every corner of her house. We’ve even done it while her daughter was slee
December 21, 1996, Saturday. It was our Christmas party. It was a gratifying evening and despite the economic crisis that our country was facing at that time, our company was generous enough to give their employees a big party and lots of gifts. It was the most joyous event that we’ve had. I was talking to my colleagues when Martina joined us. She’s wearing a red dress that highlighted her silky smooth skin and