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I say death to the poem:
strangle all metaphors,
electrocute all images,
poison all rhymes,
shoot all synechdoches,
stab all allusions.

For heaven’s sake, stop being a poet
just for once. Murder all nuances
that confound the reader
and beguile him to tread
a labyrinth of words;
for once, hide nothing from him,

give him the gory head of a vision
on a bleeding silver platter
(it’s not your fault if he
lacks a well-oiled heart).
Yes, give it to him straight
from the subconscious

sans frills, sans artifice,
as visceral as possible—
gash and gore—
the elemental gangrene of speech
dripping with the smelly green
pus of wisdom.

Shove it in his face:
its eye sockets dark and deep.
Its caved-in nose;
a few molars missing,
its cracked dome shining in the sun:
a sonnet’s grinning skull.





I do not know who conscripted
me into this one-man army.
One day they just sent me an urgent
telegram ordering me to show
my face in the recruitment center
or else. I was neither issued
dog tag, rifle, nor uniform.
They did not even bother to send
me to boot camp for proper training.
Time is the enemy they said
whose army was fast approaching.
I even had to buy my own pad
and pencil. Then they quickly shipped me
to an invisible front where
I fought a secret war with words.

Asia Writes website:



Sometime in 1988 my live-in partner hired a second maid, a fifteen-year-old girl by the name of Bebet who was stocky, of medium height, with a pockmarked face and a dark, grayish complexion. I would often see Bebet walking absentmindedly in the yard while mumbling to herself. At that time we had a small altar in our bedroom where we regularly said our morning and evening prayers. Going back to Bebet, my girlfriend noticed that each time the maid would pass by our bedroom window while we were doing our mystical invocations, she would cringe and shiver for no apparent reason. At any rate we just dismissed Bebet’s strange behavior as a harmless coincidence.

Barely a month after Bebet moved into our house, strange things started happening. First, a drinking glass shattered in the kitchen without anybody touching it. Then one midnight, while on her way to get a glass of water from the refrigerator in the kitchen, my girlfriend saw Bebet seated on a sofa in the dark living room–as if waiting for someone since the front door was wide open. My girlfriend immediately accosted Bebet, who merely stared blankly at her and shuffled back to the maid’s room like a sleepwalker. When my girlfriend related the incident to me I had the suspicion that Bebet was up to something sneaky. Either she was trysting with a boyfriend, or was under the influence of shady characters that were planning to rob our house. From then on I kept a close watch on our teenage house help.

One day Bebet complained of a toothache that made her left cheek swell. My girlfriend brought the maid to the dentist who decided to extract Bebet’s tooth. Noticing that Bebet was a bleeder, the dentist gave her some capsules to stop the bleeding. Two days later Bebet couldn’t get up from bed and big blobs of blood stained her pillow and blanket. Strangely, her gums had started bleeding again. As a first-aid measure, I made pranic healing passes on her cheek, which stopped bleeding after a few minutes.

A week later another drinking glass mysteriously exploded in the kitchen in the presence of Bebet and my girlfriend. Alarmed, my live-in partner excitedly related the incident to me and concluded that we were under some sort of psychic attack. This was nothing new since we’ve had quite a number of peculiar experiences in the course of our spiritual quest. Because I had been practicing exorcism and psychic healing for many years, my girlfriend begged me to do something about the eerie goings-on in the house.

I dismissed the occurrence with a laugh and assured my girlfriend that there must be a scientific, physical explanation to the whole matter. Perhaps the drinking glass in question was near the stove that must have caused the thing to shatter. Vehemently disagreeing with me, my girlfriend claimed that the object was nowhere near the stove but on a tray near the washbasin when it shattered–surrounded by fragile wineglasses, which were all left intact. Still skeptical, I decided to do nothing about it.

As Gemma, our other maid in her mid-twenties, was cooking scrambled eggs one morning, she distinctly heard some grating sounds in the frying pan. She deduced that tiny fragments of eggshell had accidentally dropped into the pan and were responsible for making the sounds. Without bothering to inspect the eggs, Gemma served them to me on an oval plate. On my very first bite, I heard a crunching sound and felt something lodge between my teeth. Prying the thing loose with a toothpick, I was shocked to find out that it was a sharp sliver of glass. It suddenly dawned on me that I was lucky the glass did not pierce my gum. Prodding the rest of the scrambled eggs with my fork, I discovered that they were studded with slivers of glass! At that point I realized that we were really under psychic attack.

During that time my girlfriend and I were in the process of scouting for a new residence since her mother, who owned the house we were occupying in Loyola Heights, had decided to sell it to a condominium developer. Leafing through the pages of a newspaper one Saturday morning, I saw an advertisement about a lot that was for sale in Conception, Marikina. I got in touch with the real estate agent at once and set an appointment to visit the place that very same afternoon. Unfortunately, my girlfriend and I found out that the lot was not to our liking. It was then that I spotted a two-story chapel nearby with a big sign in front which read: “St. Anthony’s Spiritual Healing House.” I pointed it out to my girlfriend who looked at me with surprise. All of a sudden both of us had this terrible urge to visit the healing center.

Excusing us from the real estate agent, my girlfriend and I went straight to the healing center and were met by a small, fair complexioned woman in her late thirties. She introduced herself to us by her nickname “Lucky” and that she was healer-medium in the place. Aside from the chapel where healing and mediumistic sessions were held regularly, there was also a man-made underground cave about ten feet deep and thirty feet long. At the bottom of the cave was a natural spring that supposedly gushed forth with miraculous healing water.

Without ado I told Lucky about our hunch that perhaps we were brought to the healing center by our spirit-guides for a special purpose. Lucky smiled, nodded in agreement, and strode toward the front of the chapel. She then sat on a throne that was in front of the altar. Uttering some mystical words in pidgin Latin, Lucky immediately fell into deep trance and spoke Tagalog in a tiny man’s voice: Welcome to St. Anthony’s Healing House. I am Calixto, King of the White Dwarves. I know that the two of you are on the spiritual path and have guided you here on purpose. Beware! Your lives are in danger. The dark forces are attacking you. Do you have any questions?”

“You are correct,” I said in astonishment. “Strange things have been happening in our house. King Calixto, please tell me who is behind the psychic attacks and how they can be stopped.”

“I know fully well who is behind the evil deeds. But you must find out for your self—and you will—soon! Use your own psychic ability to overcome the entity. Also bear in mind that there is someone in your house who is being used as an instrument by the entity. Find out who it is and you’ll succeed in defeating your foe.”

“Thank you for your advice, King Calixto,” I said gratefully. “Can I ask another question?”

“Go ahead,” King Calixto replied.

“A relative of mine has recurring asthma. Would you kindly recommend a cure for him?”

“Tell your relative to gather the tiny roots of a pine tree at dawn on a Friday. Remind him to boil the roots for seven minutes before drinking the concoction. I assure you his sickness will disappear within seven days.”

Shortly after giving advice to the rest of the people who had gathered in the chapel, Lucky finally came out of her trance.  My girlfriend and I thanked her profusely and voluntarily donated fifty pesos to her cause. We promised Lucky that we would visit her again hurried back home to find out who really was the mastermind behind the psychic attacks.

It was already dark when we reached our house and food was ready. We decided to have dinner first before subjecting the two maids to an investigation. My girlfriend thought that it would be best if we talk to the girls separately so that they wouldn’t have a chance to compare notes. After getting the consecrated medallion I used for psychic combat and a glass of ordinary tap water, I immediately called Gemma.

“Touch this medallion,” I said. Gemma obeyed me at once and touched the medallion.

“Do you feel anything?” I asked.

“Nothing. The medallion feels normal … just like a piece of metal,” Gemma replied.

Afterward I told Gemma to drink from the glass of water on which I had earlier prayed over and magnetized with a secret mantra.

“How does the water taste?” I asked.

“Just like plain water,” Gemma said in an amused tone.

I felt relieved that the results of the psychic tests I gave her to determine if she was being possessed by an entity or was the under spell of a witch were negative.

“Thank you, Gemma. Please call Bebet. Tell her I want to talk to her alone.”

In a short while Bebet  approached me shyly in the living room.

“Did you call for me, Kuya?” she asked.

“That’s right. I just want you to do a few things for me.”

Bebet nodded and her lips curved into a half smile.

“First, I want you to touch this medallion,” I said.

The moment she held the object, her hand jerked as if it had touched a live wire.

“Why, what happened?” I asked.

Kuya, the medallion throbbed and felt very hot,” Bebet answered in a tone of alarm.

I shook my head and gave her a new glass of water on which I had also prayed over with a mantra.

“Drink this. Just take three gulps,” I commanded.

The moment Bebet drank from the glass, her face contorted into a mask of discomfort.

“How does it taste?” I asked.

“It’s awful…very bitter…just like gall,” Bebet complained.

Since Bebet’s reaction was positive to the two tests, I knew that she was the one King Calixto was referring to and bombarded her with more questions.

“Have you experienced anything strange lately, Bebet?”

“Yes, Kuya, strange things have been happening to me,” she readily admitted.

“In that case tell me about it,” I said.

“The first one happened six months ago. At that time I was still working for a couple that lived in Antipolo. One night my mistress told me to buy something in the sari-sari store. It was already eight in the evening and the road was dimly lit. I noticed that a tall man was following me. I became afraid and tried to walk faster but the man, whose feet seemed to glide in the air, caught up with me without effort. When I looked back, I came face to face with a stranger who had glowing red eyes and a pair of fangs. Horrified, I sank to the ground and blacked out. However, before losing consciousness, I felt a strong energy—which felt like an electric current—enter the soles of my feet. When I regained consciousness, the terrible-looking stranger was gone.”

“What happened afterward?” I asked with interest.

“Since then the strange man started appearing in my dreams and waking moments.”

“What does he want from you?”

“He is very powerful and orders me to do odd things. Like the night madam saw me all alone in the living room. Before that I was already asleep in my room. The man mysteriously appeared in my dream and commanded me to go to the living room and open the front door for him. After that I just found myself in the living room and the door was wide open. Fortunately, before he could enter, Ate came to the rescue and woke me up from my trance.”

“What did the man want you to do then?”

“He said in my dreams that he wanted to give me some candies to eat.”

“How about the strange things that have been happening here, is the man also responsible for them?”

“Yes. He wants you to become afraid and confused so you would stop praying and healing other people.”

“Do you know what kind of man he is?”

“ I know-he’s a vampire! But I’m too weak to resist him.”

“You know it’s a good thing you haven’t eaten the candies he has been offering you, otherwise you would have been under his complete control. I can help you, but you must give me your full trust and cooperation.”

“Please help me, Kuya. I can’t stand it any longer,” Bebet begged.

My girlfriend and I led Bebet out of our bedroom, put a chair in front of the altar, and told her to sit. Then I tied her to the chair and ordered her to keep still. After lighting some candles and incense on the altar, I made circular passes at Bebet’s body with my magic wand–which I had personally carved out of black coral and etched with the appropriate kabalistic inscriptions–to cleanse her aura. At that juncture I invoked my spirit-guides and read the passage from John: 17 in the Bible which I have always found effective in when performing exorcism.

“Relax, Bebet. Now I will I capture the vampire’s soul and let it enter your body so I can depower and interrogate it.”

Bebet nodded in silence. I pressed my lips close to the crown of her head, uttered a secret Latin mantra, and blew upon her fontanel. Almost immediately Bebet had a seizure and sank into deep trance. I felt a gross, powerful energy envelop Bebet’s body and knew that the vampire had already taken possession of her.

“Tell me your name!” I shouted at the entity.

At first the entity stubbornly refused to answer. I uttered another powerful mantra, this time in Sanskrit, and pointed my magic wand at Bebet’s third eye located in the center of her forehead. The entity growled and cursed. Bebet’s head started moving up and down and from left to right involuntarily. Fearing that Bebet might break loose from the chair after her body kept on shaking violently, my girlfriend held her in a bear hug and prayed the Gayatri mantra. A few minutes later, Bebet’s body became limp–an indication that the entity had already weakened.

“Now are you ready to surrender?”  I asked in a loud voice. “Or do you want me to douse you with holy water?”

“I give up! I give up!” the entity shrieked in a man’s voice.

“I command you to reveal your name and identity to me,” I said firmly.

“My name is Roberto ————–.” The vampire answered in a low, humble tone. “I live in Antipolo where I work as a casual laborer in the Department of Public Works.”

“What have you been doing to Bebet?”

The entity hesitated to answer. I immediately inserted a cone-shaped seashell between Bebet’s fingers. The entity howled in agony.

“Stop! Stop! I’ll tell you everything,” the vampire pleaded.

“As a vampire I am not able to prey on a victim every time I’m thirsty for human blood. That’s why I have been using Bebet as my reserve food. Instead of draining all her blood in one sucking, I feed on her little by little lest she die.

“Actually it is not the physical blood that we vampires suck, but its astral counterpart which gives vitality to human beings. Once we prey on a victim, the physical blood turns watery and anemic.

“The truth is we vampires don’t have the power to attack our victims physically. It is the astral body of a particular victim that we puncture and suck energy from while he or she is asleep or unconscious.”

“How many people have you killed?” I asked.

“Many…” the vampire claimed. “Please forgive me.”

“How did you become a vampire?”

“My mother passed on the power to me when I was twenty-one years old. She made me swallow a black shiny stone.”

“From now on you will cease to be a vampire. I will remove the curse your mother has bequeathed to you,” I said and pressed Bebet’s solar plexus.

Moments later Bebet burped and opened her mouth as if wanting to vomit. I cupped my right palm and placed it near her mouth. Then she retched and I felt an invisible stone-like object drop in my palm. Placing my left palm over my right one, I crushed the astral object.

“Now you are free from the curse. Go back to your body and leave other people alone. Repent your evil ways and live a normal life. Go in peace and may God forgive you.”

I uttered a secret mantra, tapped Bebet’s head, and commanded: “Leave now!”

Suddenly Bebet’s body became limp, and her sickly pallor slowly regained its normal color.

“I command you to wake up, Bebet,” I whispered in her ear.

As if responding to a post-hypnotic suggestion, Bebet immediately woke up and I gently untied her from the chair. When she realized what had happened, Bebet broke into tears and thanked my wife and I for releasing her from the bloody clutches of a vampire. Based on my own knowledge and experience, there are two types of vampires- the conscious and the unconscious. Conscious vampires are just like Roberto in the aforementioned story I have related. On the other hand, unconscious vampires are ordinary people who lack vitality and involuntarily siphon energy from healthy individuals as reflex mechanism to recover their lost energy.

It is a common occurrence that one bumps into a stranger in a public place and right after the seemingly harmless encounter, one feels lethargic and drained of energy. This is a glaring case of unconscious vampirism that leads to a temporary loss of energy on the part of the victim. This phenomenon is commonly referred to in Tagalog as “nausog” or “nabati.”



(Originally appeared in Magical  Blend’s Natural Health & Beauty Magazine)

 by Felix Fojas

Beauty is a word or concept that lends itself to multiple definitions, a legion of denotations and connotations, a swarm of metaphors and symbols, and seemingly wears the innumerable faces and disguises of Mata Hari herself, the queen of spies, instead of just possessing a single countenance and a set of few, fixed characteristics. Which inevitably entices us to pry open the Pandora’s box of our curiosity, unleashing a host of provocative questions like: Is beauty a purely aesthetic experience? Is it exclusively a sensual encounter with a beautiful object, whether animate or inanimate, that gives us a frisson–making our hair stand on ends and gifting us with a sublime or elevated feeling occasioned by a tingling, subtle sensation caressing our spine? Or is beauty an elusive, abstract butterfly whose astral wings are impossible to crucify with the pins of our five senses on the solid wall of reality? Is beauty skin deep or is it something that inhabits the very core of our being?

Questions inevitably beget more questions. Does beauty belong to the realm of forms or to the realm of essences, or perhaps both? Does beauty, as the cliché goes, “lie in the eye of the beholder,” or is it an enigmatic and mysterious aura, charisma or ethereal force that radiates from one’s soul or spirit? Is beauty dictated by one’s whim and fancy? Is there any scientific explanation to beauty and is it, like Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, determined by one’s acceleration and position in time and space? Or can beauty be measured by a clear-cut, rigid set of universal aesthetic standards?

And how do we perceive beauty? Through a glass darkly as seen through the telescope of a woman-hater? Or through rose-colored glasses worn by a lovestruck swain? Is beauty like the many shiny, multicolored fragments in a kaleidoscope? Or is beauty best probed at extreme close-up, through the lens of a microscope, revealing minute hairs, pores and pigmentations magnified to the nth degree? Perhaps beauty is a hologram, a continuum that stretches beyond time and space, into eternity itself. Are we then forced by circumstance and necessity to invent the ultimate probing device, a newfangled “beautyscope,” to mint a novel word, if only to perceive beauty in its totality, from all possible angles and dimensions?

More questions arise and enthrall us like dancing houris. Is the appreciation of beauty inherent in man’s being? Is beauty largely conditioned by one’s cultural programming through traditional social graces and rituals as well as through brainwashing by the mass media? Is perception of beauty dictated by one’s personal state of evolution, depending on whether he is the physical, emotional, mental or spiritual type? Yet casting people into stereotypes has its obvious pitfalls. In reality, the typical man is a much more complex being and weighs beauty through a combination of so many criteria that varies from person to person. And at this point we have not even tackled the gender- sensitive question: Does man’s appreciation of beauty differ from that of woman?

Poets and philosophers throughout the ages have attempted to define the truly beautiful. When the Romantic poet Keats exclaims, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever,” he is not alluding to physical beauty, which is fleeting or ephemeral, but to that winged species of beauty that miraculously descends from what celestial sphere. From the aesthetic standpoint the philosopher Edmund Burke, in his treatise A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful (1776), gives seven specific tangible qualities of beauty:

On the whole, the qualities of beauty, as they are merely sensible qualities, are the following:  First, to be comparatively small. Second, to be smooth. Thirdly, to have a variety in the direction of the parts; but, fourthly, to have those parts not angular, but melted as it were into each other. Fifthly, to be of a delicate frame, without any remarkable appearance of strength. Sixthly, to have its colors clear and bright, but not very strong and glaring. Seventhly, or if it should have any glaring color, to have it diversified with others. These are, I believe, the properties on which beauty depends; properties that operate by nature, and are less liable to be altered by caprice, or confounded by a diversity of tastes, than any other.

So says Edmund Burke.

The latter-day writer Diane Ackerman boldly declares: “A beautiful face is enough to start the engines of love.” If indeed, beauty is purely physical, then it can be preserved and shielded against the ravages of harsh elements and old age through a fine combination of healthy diet, the skillful application of cosmetic products, wearing fashionable clothes, and reconstructive surgery. I will not belabor the point, for thousand of books and tips have already been written about the physical aspects of pulchritude. At any rate, outer beauty is skin deep, which is the impermanent manifestation of beauty that is perceived through the senses by one’s ego or lower personality. In fine contrast, inner beauty is the essence of one’s being that is perceived directly by the soul or spirit and is therefore everlasting.

In the slim book The Fragrance of Beauty, her tour de force, Joyce Landorf–a homemaker, career woman and spiritual seeker all rolled into one–shares her profound concept of inner beauty:


When a man sees a woman, he looks first at her physical qualifications. It’s a built-in natural trait with him. He’ll look at her face and her figure, but not necessarily in that order. Then, if a woman has those marvelous inner qualities that are of God, the man will see the shining reflection of God. The physical and inner looks blend into one picture, and the total woman comes into focus. The entire scene in his mind becomes one of pure joy. The woman is warm, giving, alert, fun to be with, loving and, yes, spiritual, but she also has an earthly sexiness that is uncommonly beautiful, and all he can say is, “Wow!”

St. Peter states: “Be beautiful inside, in your hearts, with the lasting charm of a gentle and quiet spirit which is so precious to God” (1Peter 3:4). The following are practical tips on how you can radiate inner beauty, no matter what your sex and gender, no matter what your age. I deliberately used the word “radiate” and not “cultivate” or “develop.” For beauty is neither outside you nor is something you must acquire. Beauty is more than an enchanting mask you have lost and must find again. Deep within, you already possess beauty that can never be lost.  All you have to do is not to discover but uncover your inner beauty—that rock-encrusted gem, clean and polish its facets, and make it permanently shine like a diamond or emerald this very moment:

1. Rid your consciousness of negative emotions and thoughts. For negative emotions, like fear and anger, and negative thoughts, like wanting to deceive or harm your fellowmen, are dynamos of bad vibrations. In turn this will repel those around you who’ll find you ugly and repulsive, no matter how physically attractive you are. Moreover, these negative tendencies also drain your youth-preserving vitality and life force called chi in Chinese or prana in Sanskrit, causing you to age long before your time.

 2.    Believe in the power of daily prayer. Kneeling down or seated, with your eyes closed and your hands clasped in a gesture of prayer in the center of your chest, inhale and exhale deeply seven times and silently, fervently pray: “Lord, bless me with inner beauty and divine love.” Intone this three times and end your prayer with the word “Amen” or the phrase “So be it.” This will anchor or ground the energy of your prayer to the earth. Repeat the same prayer immediately before going to sleep.

3.  Believe in the power of affirmation. After washing your face each morning, look and smile at your reflection in the mirror, and say in a low voice but with conviction three thrice: “I love myself unconditionally. I love my fellowmen unconditionally. Everybody loves me unconditionally. Like the sun I radiate unconditional love and beauty in all aspects of my being–physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. 

4.  Believe in the power of visualization. Sit on a chair or on the floor (half or full lotus position) with your eyes closed and your spine erect but relaxed. Put your hands palm up on your lap with the tips of the forefinger and the thumb of each hand touching each other and forming a ring, and with the tip of your tongue lightly touching the roof of your mouth, to keep your body a closed circuit and your psychic energy from leaking out. On the first inhalation, visualize a white, luminous shaft of light coming down from heaven, entering through the top of your head, and nestling in the center of your chest. On the second inhalation, visualize another white shaft of light coming up from the center of the earth and meeting the shaft light of heaven in your chest, transforming into a white circle of light one inch in diameter. You now have a balanced polarity of yin (female) and yang (male) or negative and positive energies. Inhale and exhale seven more times.

5.  Believe in the power of color meditation. Pink is the color of love and beauty. You can charge or empower yourself with pink energy anytime of the day or night. While in a kneeling, sitting, or standing position, raise your hand with open palms to heaven. Breathe in and out seven times. Every time you inhale, visualize a pink shaft of light descending from heaven, lodging in the center of your chest, and turning into a circle of pink light one inch in diameter. During exhalation, imagine the pink light expanding and filling up the entire cosmos.

Apply one or any combination of these techniques that is best suited to you. Note that the more you radiate beauty and unconditional love from your soul or quintessential self, the more outer beauty you possess. Consequently, you attract more beauty and unconditional from other men and women, from other creatures on earth, and from the entire universe itself until you become the graven image of the Supreme Cosmetologist and Beautician—the ultimate creator/creatrix of outer and inner beauty, and of love human and divine. And in nurturing and radiating your inner beauty, the old dictum “Practice makes perfect!” is of the essence.