Thursday, July 12, 2018

An Earthquake in Davao -- A Short Story

An Earthquake in Davao (Inspired by an older Filipino classic)
Story and Art by lordcloudx

It was only halfway through March, but the humid temperature was already reaching hellish levels in the fair city of Davao, Philippines. In a tropical country, the heat is often compounded by moisture and humidity, making it extremely uncomfortable unless you have a job that allows you to sit all day inside an air-conditioned room.  

Unfortunately for Attorney Farah Duarte-Isidro, the split-type air-conditioning unit inside of her otherwise lavishly adorned office was currently out of commission. It was a fairly new unit and still well within the five-year manufacturer’s warranty. Of course, it had been three days since the service center had informed her that her unit was on queue for repairs because of the busy work load of its authorized service repair technicians.

Still, the sweltering heat was of secondary importance for the 34 year-old budding lawyer. The truth is that she had a lot of things going on in the back of her mind. In a few months time, the local elections would be under way and she had a lot of ground to cover if she was going to secure and entrench her position as the next mayor of Davao City. Over the past few months, aside from regular business meetings with her brand managers, she also had to make public appearances at all kinds of major as well as minor events in the city from the opening of new business buildings and shopping malls to every funeral parlor in town.  

Fortunately, Attorney Duarte was not new to the limelight which was part and parcel of political life in the Philippines. After all her father and her father’s father before her were once mayors of Davao City as well. It was almost a given that the next in line in the Duarte bloodline would eventually become mayor as well. It was not a political dynasty by any means. Each and every Duarte who came into power did so on their own merits and not because of their family’s political affiliations.

With that aside, the good lawyer was currently taking a much-deserved break by browsing social media on her office desktop. A sly smirk crept across her face as she scrolled through the trending posts on political issues in the Philippines.

Anonymous 1: President Duarte is a madman! His idea of solving poverty is to kill the poor. No poor = no poverty.

Anonymous 2: You’re the madman. Why don’t you be the president if you’re so smart? Our great benefactor Duarte only wants the best for all of us. The reason that so many people are getting killed is because they can’t even follow the rule of law. It’s simple. You break the law, you deserve to die. I for one am happy that there’s a few less stupid people in the world – including you. I hope you and your family get murdered in cold blood too.

Anonymous 3: I don’t know about you guys, but Duarte’s tax reforms are having a definite effect and I don’t like it. I work the graveyard shift in a call center and I used to enjoy hanging out with my buddies at this local diner on the weekends. I can’t do that anymore ever since the huge inflation caused by his new tax laws.

Anonymous 2: You’re an idiot! Duarte’s tax laws follow the example set by Singapore. You’re only seeing the short-term effects right now, but you’ll be singing a different tune 3-4  years from now when the Philippines is super-clean with a booming economy. You can take Davao as an example. We Davaoenos’ know for certain the good work that Mayor Duarte did in his time. The old guy cleaned up drugs and crime in the entire city by himself. Look at where we are now.


Despite having a state-of-the-art Smartphone, Attorney Duarte was a woman of rather conservative tastes who still used a standard ringer.   A cursory glance revealed that it was someone she knew very well. She quickly swiped her finger to answer.
“Hello dear. How’s your day going? I’m still a bit busy at the office, but I am taking a little break right now. Did you want to talk?”

The voice of her husband, Nestor Isidro answered:

“Oh, not at all, honey. Just calling to remind you that we have a family date at the amusement park today after work. It’s Felicia’s birthday, remember?”

“Ah, certainly. She’d never forgive me if I missed that one. I’ll see you then.”
After the call was ended, Attorney Duarte’s fingers traveled to the 10x12” picture frame that she kept by her desk. It was a family picture of herself next to her husband, Nestor and their daughter, Felicia, who was just eight years old when it was taken.

Her eyes were transfixed on her daughter. She was a lovely young thing. She had thin lips similar to her father, but the chinky, but intelligent brown eyes were unmistakably that of a true-blooded Duarte.  She had a chubby face back then, but of course, this was four years ago.  Felicia was 12 years old now and her face was beginning to taper and not only was she taller, the shapely, palpable changes in her spoke of the voluptuous beauty that she would become in her teenage years.

“I’ll certainly have to warn her about how to deal with potential suitors pretty soon,” Attorney Duarte remarked to herself.

She was a caring and pragmatic mother who viewed her public life as a Duarte as equally important as her private life with her family.

Still, she was quite glad that for all the physical changes that her daughter was going through, Felicia was still pretty much a child at heart. She had asked to have her party at the Dleonor Water Park in Davao del Sur a month before. She really loved the water slides there the last time the family had a get-together at that place. 

She was also really thrilled because her elusive  Grandfather, President Antonio “Anton” Duarte had actually been around at that time.  Farah recalled their conversation:

“Well, of course. You’re now too much of a smart-ass. You even spoke up against my policies on national TV. Do you know how much damage control my spokesperson had to do to play that off as a family feud?”

“Dad, you know very well that I have my rights too. I just don’t agree with your drastic tax reforms and you wouldn’t listen to me in person. That was a last resort , if any. And anyway, you won. Also, what’s this I hear about charges of political killings being filed against you.”

“Bah! Mere rumors, I tell you. Don’t even listen to a word the biased media here in the Philippines tell you. If you don’t hear it come from my official sources, it’s rubbish!”

“I sure hope so. You know I can’t condone taking lives in the name of politics.”

“And neither can I, my dear daughter. You definitely take after me. Still, I truly believe that these tax reforms are for the good of the people of my country. In fact, I have the full support of the senate and a majority of the house to continue with further implementation of my three-point plan. Also, I’ve pinpointed the top seven troublemakers in congress from the opposition. Don’t worry, they’ll be cleanly removed from power soon enough. As for the taxes, they will make the prices skyrocket for a while, but just you wait and see. Once things normalize, the Philippines will be just like – no, more of a haven than Singapore ever was. … in any case. How is your campaign going?”

Farah’s face lightened up. She knew that there were many nasty rumors floating around about her father and she did disagree with his tax reform policies, but over-all, she understood that he was simply a good man, a pure-hearted man with a sharp tongue – but one that this country required in order to impose some much-needed discipline upon the masses. It was like Plato’s republic. Some people are just born leaders and she and her father – however much they disagreed with each other, were cut from the same mold – people designated under the stars to lead.

“Well, Dad. There’s actually not much opposition ever since I announced my candidacy. Even my main rival, Mr. Francisco Depedro has conceded that he has very little chance. He’s actually a pretty charming fellow. We met at the grand re-opening of the NCCC Mall just last December. He told me in private that he’d really like me to win, but there are people who have made investments in his name so he has to keep his game face on and pretend to be a bit hostile in public. Anyway, I would say that it’s pretty smooth sailing so far, but it is eating in a bit too much into my own private schedule. “

“Indeed… politics is a dirty business and not for the faint of heart, but you are a Duarte. You were made for this sort of stuff.”

“That much we can agree on, Dad.”

“Huh? Why are you and grandpa arguing so much?” A third, innocent little voice entered the conversation.

“We’re not arguing, Felicia. We’re just having a really exciting talk. Also, how many times have I told you not to interrupt when adults are talking, huh?”

“Hmph! Your mother is such a spoilsport, isn’t she, Felicia? What do you think about this Water Park? Are you enjoying it so far?”

“Oh yes, Grandpa! I really love it here! This is paradise! I could spend 99 years in here and never get bored. Oh and… and mom! Can I have my birthday party in here?”

Farah hung her head low in thought for a moment and then she turned and smiled sweetly at her daughter.

“I’ll tell you what, dear. Since you’re turning 12 now, you need to learn to be responsible. Why don’t you try earning the money for your birthday party here by yourself?”

“Huh? But like how, Mom? Do you want me to go to work at the office like you and dad do?”

“No, of course not. You’re too young for that… but… you could have a garage sale. You do have lots of extra clothes don’t you? I’m sure a lot of other parents with young children would love to buy some of the clothes that you no longer use. Also, those Lalaloopsies dolls and dollhouses that you don’t even play with anymore – I’m sure they’ll make some other little girls very happy.”

“Wow! That sounds like a great idea, mom! You’re a genius! You really know everything, don’t you?”

Felicia turned out to be a natural hostess. She started out a bit awkward at first and didn’t know exactly how to deal with the influx of customers, but after some coaching from her Dad, she was moving around and assisting potential clients much better than your average department store shop attendant. What is more, she really enjoyed the experience of earning her own money to finance her birthday party.

“And today is that day… my how time flies.”


The ringing of her phone jostled Attorney Duarte out of her memories and back to her desk.


“Attorney? It’s Frank . Just calling in to remind you that you have a business meeting with the City Development Planning Council after lunch. They want your input on turning the Port Area into a shopping mall. An investor from Iloilo is extremely interested in the project.”

Frank De La Cruz was Farah Duarte’s secretary, driver and all-around assistant. One could be forgiven for thinking of him as nothing more than a lackey, but that assumption is totally false. Frank was a magna cum laude graduate of UP Diliman and aside from winning various scholastic contests during his time, he was an amateur wrestling champion who had even been scouted by the URCC and ONEFC at one point. While having a nerdy look with his naturally curly hair and wearing very thick glasses, Frank was the epitome of the modern renaissance man, one who was competent and even excelled in a variety of fields. Farah personally scouted him out when she saw one of his amateur wrestling matches on TV and the commentators mentioned he was a scholar from UP.

In any case, it was a bit like pulling teeth getting Frank to agree to become her personal assistant, but Farah persevered and in the end, she got what she wanted – at the price of 250,000 pesos a week in salary with bonuses and benefits. Certainly an attractive offer and much more than the 13,000 pesos that an average white collar worker receives, but for Farah, Frank’s services had become invaluable over the years and she certainly did not regret a single centavo of what she paid him.

As an assistant, Frank had a curt, almost disrespectful nature when he spoke and although he was silent most of the time, he never held his tongue back if he thought he was in the right. In fact, Farah could not recall the last time she had won an argument with him, but he was also very professional. If there is one thing that Farah really admired in her assistant, it would be his ability to get the job done – competence.

“Ok, Frank. I’ll be right down and we can grab a bite by Mang Inasal on the way. I know you must be hungry.”

“Mang Inasal, is it? I’m actually cutting down on carbs, so no unli-rice for me, but sure thing. You’re the boss.”
“Be right down. Get the car ready.”


It took Frank no more than five minutes to get the car ready downstairs, much faster than the fifteen minutes it actually took Attorney Duarte to finally leave her office. Farah used a White 2008 Nissan Sentra as her main mode of transportation.

Of course, the family had a larger car for long overnight trips, but the trusty pearl-white sedan had been a gift from her father and she had maintained it meticulously with her own hands – even going so far as to read every inch of the instruction manual from cover to cover and ask for tips from the local greasemonkeys at the Nissan Service center on proper car maintenance.

Farah herself was quite confident that she could handle a few simple breakdowns or two. Of course, she didn’t even need to do that much. Frank would handle everything just fine on his own in case they did have a breakdown. Aside from being a Political Science major, he had several TESDA certifications in almost everything from repairing cellphones and electrical wiring in buildings to plumbing, welding, and of course, fixing cars. It goes without saying that Farah had complete trust in Frank and his capabilities.

The nearest Mang Inasal was only 30 minutes away under light traffic conditions. Farah checked her scheduler app and saw that she had plenty of time. The meeting was still at 2:00 PM and it was just about 11:30 AM.
“So, Frank. How are your law studies going? I’m not keeping you too busy to study, am I?”

“No, not at all, Attorney. Also, it seems that your father has made some arrangements for the next year’s bar exams. I think we can expect a sudden influx of new lawyers by then.”

“Ugh… there goes my Dad again. Always doing something unnecessary.”
“’Unnecessary’ Attorney?”

“Well… sure. I mean, what do you think about his so-called arrangements, Frank? You’re a smart guy. I mean, of course you are. Don’t you think he’s demeaning the profession that way?”

“Can I be honest with you?”

“Of course…”

Farah Duarte braced herself. When Frank asked to be honest, it usually meant he would be very brutally frank – pun intended, and downright savage.

“I think that for the bar exams, the system was already broken from the start – what? With UP and Ateneo always dominating the top positions even though the curriculum is supposedly the same nationwide for all law schools. So I think that your father breaking the already broken system doesn’t do any harm. There was no integrity in the bar to speak of in the first place. All that talk about law being the noblest profession is just reassurance by those who have been through the hell of law school in order to justify their suffering.”
“Um… you’re serious aren’t you?”

Frank looked back at her from the driver’s seat with an almost piercing glare in his eyes.

“Yup, you’re serious, alright. And keep your eyes on the road. I trust you, but I doubt you have eyes in the back of your head.”

“Frank, do you… have a problem with the way my Dad handles his government?”

“In the first place, Attorney. It’s not his government. It’s a representative entity that belongs to the people of the Philippines and not just President Duarte. Secondly, no… if he thinks that raising taxes and nearly causing an economic collapse in order to fund long-term government expenditures is a positive development, then who am I, a mere political science graduate to argue? Of course, my position might change after I get my Attorney to my name. That’s why for now, I fully support his plan to allow more new lawyers in the integrated bar.”

“Yeah but…”

“Ah, we’re here, Attorney.”

“Wait a minute, I had something else to say… ugh, forget it.”

In her head, Farah Duarte was imagining her fist connecting with Frank’s arrogant nose, but even in her head, her assistant effortlessly deflected the blow and walked past her like it was nothing.

The Mang Inasal restaurant was jam-packed with customers at lunch time. Fortunately, the manager immediately recognized Farah Duarte and insisted on having the secluded area usually reserved for private parties opened up just for her.

Just then, Farah spotted three young individuals who were at a loss because there were no empty tables left in the restaurant. Farah waved and motioned for them to join her in her special table.

A scrawny, pimply faced young man was the first of the trio to greet her.
“Thanks, miss. We just arrived from the airport. We’re really famished and this was the closest restaurant. We should have known it’d be full at this hour.”

One of his companions elbowed him gently at the waist.

“Joseph, you doofus! Show some respect, don’t you know who this is?”

“Eh, what? Is she some kind of celebrity?”

The third individual, a quiet looking guy with scruffy hair that partially covered his eyes spoke up.

“Hmm… at the very least, she’s popular. You’re  Attorney Farah Duarte, aren’t you? The daughter of President Anton Duarte?”

Farah smiled and nodded in approval.

“Who-whoa! So sorry, about that Miss… umm.. Attorney. Forgive my rudeness!”

She held her hands up to calm the young man down.

“Relax, relax. It’s not a mortal sin not to know me. Anyway, I like having some company for lunch… well, there’s my assistant Frank who is ordering for me over there but that guy is like a robot, I tell you; totally devoid of emotions.”

Farah motioned at her assistant waiting in the queue. Frank nodded in affirmation.

“Anyway, guys. Lunch is on me today. I hope you guys don’t mind the PM 1 set. I just had Frank order for three more people.”

“Thank you very much, Ma’am. We’ll gratefully accept your offer,” the scruffy looking kid said immediately.”

“I’ll introduce us, Attorney. That guy with the funky hair is Simon, the one to my right is Joseph, and I’m Ronald. We all work at a call center in Manila. We’re just in Davao for a short vacation. We took our paid vacation leaves together. ”

“I see. I think you’ll have a lot of fun in Davao. In fact, I think I know a few places that young people like you might enjoy. Anyway, let’s get to know each other better over lunch. Tell me more about yourselves, boys.”

“Oh, excuse me.” 
Frank joined the table with a polite bow at everyone. He took a seat adjacent to Simon.

Ronald was the first to reply. It seemed to be a given that he was the spokesperson of the group.

“Well, the interesting thing is that we’re all professionals, actually. We were all nurses at the same hospital before working at the call center.”

“That’s interesting, Ronald. So what made you choose the call center over being a nurse?”

“Right, well… there’s the fixed working hours, the more comfortable work environment and…”

“Let’s cut to the chase and in a hurry shall we?” Suddenly, Simon, the kid with the “funky” hair spoke up.

“The real reason is because we couldn’t stand the so-called professional work ethics required of us as medical personnel.”

“Simon, are you going to tell them about that…?” Joseph interrupted.

“Interesting,” said Frank with one of his eyebrows raised up.

“We once worked on a patient together. When the family called us up to their deluxe room, the patient was unconscious. His respirator had been removed and he wasn’t breathing at all. I personally did a check of all his vital signs and they came up negative. For all intents and purposes, he was dead. We knew he was dead. We’d seen it before… but his relatives were watching us, hoping we could do something. So, we went by the book. We followed professional protocol and took turns performing CPR on the patient. At that point, we all understood that he was dead and there was no reviving him… but we kept doing it. We went through 20 CPR cycles before the attending physician arrived.”

“Oh my… was it the Physician’s fault?”

“With all due respect, Ma’am. Dr. Robles is a professional, so it wasn’t her fault. No one is really to blame… except maybe the hospital that assigns a single doctor to more than fifty patients. The reality is that our government hospitals are short of both nurses and doctors.”

“But, there’s a huge demand worldwide for Filipino nurses.”

“Exactly! That’s why most nurses would prefer to work abroad. The only reason that most of us work in hospitals here is to gain the necessary 2-year work experience to work in a hospital offshore.”

“So what happened to the patient?”

“Dr. Robles certified his death and we were basically off the hook. The only reason we kept trying to revive him was so that we don’t get blamed for the patient’s death out of a technicality. The local radio stations would have had a field day over that. We all decided to quit the job shortly after that. It was just too much stress. Also, Dr. Robles no longer practices. She actually joined the same call center as us a few months later. She said that she couldn’t stand the hypocrisy required of the medical profession. Even if it really is your fault, you have to make up some excuse so that it wasn’t – otherwise, you get blamed for malpractice. Of course, as long as you’re smart enough to fool your clients with medical jargon, it’s not a problem – but Dr. Robles is a person of conscience.”

“Wow, you seem to think really highly of this Dr. Robles.”

Ronald and Joseph smirked in unison.

“He should, Attorney. She’s his girlfriend,” said Ronald.

Simon’s cheeks reddened a bit.

“Well… at least you boys found your niche at the call center, right?”

“Hmm… I suppose,” Simon paused for a while and scratched his chin, “but it’s been getting a bit hard recently.”

“What? Why is that?”

“It’s the taxes and new curfew laws. We actually work the graveyard shift at the call center, and well, it leaves us mentally and physically exhausted. So we try to recharge during the weekends at a local diner and basically spend it drinking the night away. We usually finish by around 2-3 AM, which is out of the question now since the curfew law requires all business establishments to stop serving alcohol after 12:00 and anyone caught with alcohol on their tables can be arrested too. The new taxes make most of our hangout places a bit too expensive for our budget as well. Ronald over there has to pay for the schooling of his three siblings on his own. He has a sister who is a nurse abroad, but she has a family there too, so she can’t help out much. Joseph is in debt because of a business investment he made that went bad. And me, well… you could say that I’m paying for a debt that wasn’t my own to begin with out of my own pocket.”

“Everyone’s circumstances are different,” Frank said in a low voice.

“Bingo, um… Sir Frank was it?”

Frank nodded.

“But, you guys are here on vacation, right? That means you have some extra cash.”

“Actually, Simon here managed to have our boss write it off as a business trip, so the company’s paying for it. Pocket money, plane trip, hotel, basically everything.” Ronald answered.

“Hoho, I never pegged you to be that sly, Simon.”

“Heh, thanks… you’d be surprised at what a lot of people are capable of, ma’am.”

“With that aside, I think you should just bear with the taxes for a little while. Spend a little bit less and in 2-3 years, you’ll see some definite results.”

“Hmm… if you’re talking about President Duarte’s promise of an economic boom in 2-3 years… I just don’t know about that. It’s not a guarantee, is it?”

“What do you mean, Simon?”

“I think what he is trying to say, Attorney, is that there’s no reassurance of any positive results after 2-3 years and if it doesn’t work, your father can simply ask for an extension of 2 years, 3 years, who knows? 99 years on his plans? Meanwhile, the people are actually dealing with the effects of the tax reforms right now.” Frank intervened.

A deafening silence followed, which was only broken by the meals being served a few moments later.

Everyone then took to conversation by themselves. Joseph and Ronald continued conversing with Farah about their plans over their vacation trip with the Attorney sharing her knowledge about her beloved city with them. Meanwhile, Frank and Simon talked about political issues, which somehow drifted off into philosophy and even the plausibility of reverse time travel through multiple parallel worldines.

Sometime after everyone had eaten their fill, Farah noticed large ripples forming at the center of her water glass.

“It’s an Earthquake,” Frank noted, “Seems to be a strong one too. Everyone under the table, quickly. It’s hardwood, so it should protect us just in case.”

“Everyone! It’s an earthquake, under the tables and kitchen counters, quickly!” Farah Duarte’s natural leadership instincts that had been honed since she was but a little girl kicked in. She knew that this was the time for her to be looking out for her people.”

“Understood! Everyone do as she says!” The manager barked the orders to his staff as well as to all the customers inside the restaurant.
“You get under the table too, ma’am.” Simon urged her.

Farah took a quick look around and upon seeing that everyone else was safe, she also took her place underneath the table.

The tremors were strong and shook quite a few glasses off the tables causing them to shatter upon impact with the ground. This elicited some screams from the female patrons. The chandeliers swayed back and forth in every direction, very much like a swing on a children’s playground that had gone out of control.

Fortunately, it only lasted for about two minutes before things started to settle down.

It took about 20 minutes for Attorney. Duarte and her assistant to go around the entire restaurant and ensure that everyone was safe, including a few bystanders on the outside tables. Fortunately, there were no injuries except for one little boy who had bumped his head under the table.

“Sorry that had to happen during your vacation, boys. I have to go and check the entire city now for any casualties… Frank, cancel that meeting.”
Frank nodded in affirmation.

Afterwards, the boys thanked Attorney. Duarte for her hospitality and bid her and Frank farewell.

“We’re going straight to our hotel room to rest up for a bit. That was a little too exciting for our first day in Davao,” Ronald remarked.
Farah pulled up her smartphone.


“Hello, Nestor? Are you okay? What about, Felicia?”

“We’re fine, dear. How about you? You’re not injured are you? We were in the mansion when it all happened. Your grandmother’s antique vase was the only casualty.”

“Oh pish-tush. I never cared for that old thing anyway, Nestor. I’m going to check around the city for any casualties. I need to be there if something big has occurred. Hopefully, nothing serious happened. Tell Felicia to wait for me. We may still be able to make that trip to the Water Park. I checked on twitter and they say they’re functioning normally. No damage and no need to close down the park for the day.”

“She’ll be delighted to hear that… hey, Felicia!”

“Mommy! We’re definitely going to the Water Park today, ok? Ok? I saved up for it all by myself, you know!”

“Haha! Certainly, honey. Wait for mommy to come home, ok? I love you. Take care of yourself and I’ll see you in a few hours.
“Ok Mommy, see you.”


With the call ended, Farah breathed in deep and then she turned to Frank.

“Shall we go? We’ve got a busy day ahead of us.”

Frank nodded in affirmation.

The day actually proved to be mostly uneventful. There were some mild aftershocks from the Earthquake but nothing particularly worthy of note. The local radio station stated that it was a magnitude 4.7 earthquake. Some street signs had been broken and several cars had crashed into each other, but fortunately, only their bumpers were damaged. There were also a few cracks along the major highways so some roads had to be closed down. For the most part, it was business as usual in Davao City. The Davaoenos are a hardy lot after all and a tiny earthquake was no excuse for anyone not to be doing their job. Farah felt a sense of pride as she thought about how resilient her people were.

The only casualty was a senior citizen who had died of heart attack from panicking when the major tremor occurred. Farah paid the family a visit and expressed her condolences. Even though they were obviously impoverished still living in a makeshift house made out of scrap materials, the family offered her some food and drink, as is the custom for Filipino families, but she had to politely refuse since she was still full from lunch.

 When they left, Frank slipped five thousand pesos into the pocket of the eldest son. It wasn’t a bribe, by any means. Such things were considered standard operating procedure as far as Philippine politics is concerned.

By 4:00 PM, they had finished touring the most noteworthy places where the quake might have caused damage. She sent a text message to Nestor, but there was no response.

Farah decided to call it a day early. She dismissed Frank at this point and drove the rest of the way home by herself.

“I bet Felicia will be overjoyed to see me home early. That girl… she’s growing up so fast. Not too soon, sweetie. Mommy and Daddy still want to spend a lot more time with you,” she thought to herself.

It was upon arriving at the gates that she noticed that something was amiss. The gates were left hanging wide open. The Isidro family did not employ any security guards. They hardly needed any because Davao City was such a peaceful place. They did have cctv cameras all over the premises and a burglar alarm at night, but that was the extent of their home security system.

“Perhaps Nestor forgot to close it earlier.”

She parked her car in the garage and it was then that Frank’s parting words from earlier crept into her mind.

“Attorney, it’s a bit out of my job description to be saying this, but you should carry a gun with you. You never know when you might need it in your line of work.”

Foreboding thoughts gripped Farah Duarte-Isidro at that moment. She realized that she hadn’t made contact with her family for the last few hours. Her fears were multiplied when she approached the doorway. The door was hanging open and the knob had been wrenched off.

She tiptoed across the hallway, there dirty shoeprints all over the carpeted flooring. With fear and emptiness in her heart, she crept across the halls leading to the kitchen and dining area.

It was there that she saw it. A circular crimson, darkness, splotches of red on the table, across the floor and into the microwave oven.

“AHHH… AH… “ She wanted to scream but all that would leave her throat was a pained gurgle, almost a primordial snorting sound like a primate would make.”
“N-ne..nestor? Wake up.. Nestor? Nestor?” She nudged the limp body laid out on the chair by the dining table.

No response.


With the energy completely drained from her body, and with time seemingly moving in slow motion, it took what seemed like an eternity for Farah to answer her phone.

It was Frank’s voice.

“Hello! Hello! Attorney? Is this you? I’ve been trying to call you for the last half hour but the hospital had a signal blocker in the emergency room. I had to run all the way up to the top floor. Are you ok? I’m sorry for your loss, but… I’m calling to tell you that I’m at the Davao Doctor’s Hospital. There was a wound to the chest, but the bullet passed through. She’s safe, Farah. Felicia is safe.”


And then the call was ended. The earthquake in Davao was over, but the results of the aftershocks shall remain forever.



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