Mister Kapre and I say, “Hello World!”
Saturday, 1 February 2014

After struggling for the past couple of years trying to keep Kutitots up to date, I’ve finally accepted the inevitable: I have to let go. The passion for it just isn’t there anymore, you know? Every now and then, I’ll probably post an entry there or two, but I won’t even bother apologizing for the lack of updates.

Of course, I’ll write a pseudo-farewell post on Kutitots for everyone who stuck with me through all these years and invite them here on my new personal blog, Dialogues with my Neighbor, The Kapre.

So, what’s up with the blog name? Well, if you’ve seen my Twitter and Facebook updates (yeah, I know! It’s so weird maintaining a Facebook page dedicated to yourself), you know by now I’ve recently gotten back to fiction writing. Ever since I wrote down the outline for the plot bothering me for who knows how long, story ideas kept coming in my head so fast, my already busy schedule couldn’t keep up. My husband, Marc, told me it was probably because of the “Kapre” — a mythical creature in Philippine mythology described as a giant, hairy man who smokes cigars and wears only a loincloth. According to our neighbor, the Kapre lives on a tree in the garden of the empty house in front of ours.

No, I didn’t marry a crackpot, if you’re wondering. Marc has his quirks, but having hallucinations isn’t one of them. Let me backtrack a bit.

The Kapre story came from the guy next-door, whom Marc chanced upon staring at a tree from his home.

When Marc asked the guy what he was looking at, our neighbor answered, “there’s a Kapre.” He couldn’t even point, afraid he might disrespect the mythical creature known for its volatile temper. Marc nodded, made sure he was inside the house before he told me about his encounter with the weird man. We laughed about it, and it became a running joke between us. We blamed the Kapre when things went missing, like the mysterious disappearance of my chocolate bar. My husband, his teeth specked with the telltale signs of stolen chocolate, vehemently insisted it wasn’t him. It was the Kapre, he said.

A week or two after Marc’s encounter with the neighbor, we came home past midnight from a get-together with friends. Already sleepy, we struggled to keep each other awake on the drive home. When the car headlights lit up our gate and a flower bush on the neighbor’s property, our eyeballs nearly jumped out of their sockets.

A topless man smoking a cigar sat in a squat on the highest mound of next-door’s yard.

HOLY CRAP… IT’S A KAPRE!

It only took us a few seconds to realize what stupid thought it was. Rubbing our eyes off the sleepiness, we saw the smoking man was no Kapre, but the odd neighbor who told Marc about the mythical creature. The man was just weird, preferring to squat among the flowers in the dead of the night wearing nothing but his boxers as he smoked one cigarette after another. Later on, we found out from his sister he smoked on the same spot around the same time every night. No one had any idea why, but apparently, he practiced a similar ritual before moving from their province to his sister’s home in our village.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the supernatural just as much as anyone brought up in the Filipino culture of beliefs and traditional sayings. Maybe there really is a Kapre living across our house. I wouldn’t know, I’ve never seen it. And no, the semi-naked, chain-smoking neighbor doesn’t count either.

With a Kapre possibly living right in front of us, questions started popping in my head.

What if there really is a Kapre living across us and I can speak to him? What will he be like? What will we talk about?

So there. Dialogues with my Neighbor, the Kapre was born. As the title implies, this blog will chronicle my “conversations” with my plausibly-existent neighbor Kapre. Although the blog will serve mostly as my dump site of random thoughts and ideas, I find it much easier to write openly if it seems like I’m actually talking to someone, albeit imaginary. One of the things that pushed me to abandon Kutitots was my inability to write without any concern for everyone’s expectations. Hopefully, Mister Kapre will be more open-minded and we’ll be able to “converse” with less constraints.

Thank you for finding the time to visit my blog. And again, I’d like to welcome you on Dialogues with my Neighbor, the Kapre: A blog by Gail D. Villanueva. I’d love to bring you along for an entertaining ride with Mister Kapre in the years to come. Feel free to join in our dialogues through the Comments section. Mister Kapre and I don’t bite, we’d like to know what you think 🙂

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