15 June 2013


Locus Focus: Take Ninety-Six!

June 2012 wasn't too hot for Locus Focus, but this year is totally making up for that. Last year, I was scrambling around for decent settings to feature. This year, my only trouble was deciding the proper order in which to feature them.

Last week, I wrote about that "typically Filipino setting" of the nipa hut and homestead. This week, I remain traditional . . . but with a twist!

Remember that you can write your own Locus Focus post and link it up any time before the Annual Giveaway ends, for extra points!

Quiapo Church
Skyworld, Volume 1
by Mervin Ignacio, illustrated by Ian Sta. Maria

People pray for different things. Some ask the gods not to put them to the test. Others beg forgiveness for their sins. Many barter good deeds for some sort of blessing. But the ones the gods always seem to notice are the desperate few that dare to ask for miracles.

The boy's name is Andoy. He comes here every night because he believes that lighting a candle and whispering a few words can somehow make his whole life better.

He lifts his voice up to the heavens, thinking that someone out there is listening . . .

"Don't be afraid, Andoy."

. . . never thinking that someone so much closer has the answer to all his prayers.

Back when I had an overtly religious Catholic blog (as opposed to the shredded subterfuge you get here), one of my favourite topics was that embarrassment on the face of Christendom we all know as Quiapo. It's a district of Manila most famous for its church that houses the ancient--and some say, miraculous--image of the Black Nazarene, and which draws, in equal numbers, pious devotees, desperate beggars, and the buyers and sellers of fortunes and other occult wares. (I love it.)

It makes sense that this hotspot of history and culture, this seething mess of semi-pagan humanity (Credo, Domine, adiuva incredulitatem meam!), should also attract a fallen skygod, a heroic Tikbalang warrior, his mischievous Duende sidekick, and the vengeful queen of the Asuang. But don't think that these creatures from ancient Filipino legend are there to do homage to "the gods of Spain" . . .

To put it baldly, Jesus is not a player in the epic battle which is about to begin. Which is as it should be: the once-and-for-all sacrifice having been offered, our redemption is complete . . . and signs and wonders are really not all that necessary for the salvation of souls. So let the bloodthirsty Asuang take over Manila and the ravenous Bakunawa rise again from the sea. They can't be any worse than the current crop of politicians. =P But that's just my Punk Catholic take. (You're welcome.)

Back to Quiapo now . . . I think Skyworld, Volume 1 perfectly captures its mystique--at once fascinating and repelling--in Kaio the Duende's remark when he and Makabo the Tikbalang, after centuries of searching, finally come across the skygod Kaptan: "It's not every day you find God in a place like this."

Yes, exactly.

Question of the Week: Where is the weirdest place you've ever "found God"?

Image Source: Skyworld, Volume 1 by Mervin Ignacio, illustrated by Ian Sta. Maria

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