Poetry by | May 23, 2016

Anxiety and absurdity,
These are life’s character.
How can we deny if they speak of certainty?
With meaninglessness we wallow in despair.
Perhaps suicide may guarantee.
We believe in right,
But we’re still in blight.
We believe we’re free
But seem enslaved by dictates of society.
Existentialists say we cause life’s motion,
Determinists say it’s all illusion.
Are we the cause or being caused?
Are we in effect or being effected?
Are the social and political the blame?
Are we not aware they make us rationally lame?
Is the leader the answer?
What if he withers?
Are we to put life’s struggle in someone’s cuddle?
Are we too much exposed in the dark
That we seem so deliriously stark?
Are we to surrender and hope for a divine protector?
What if it’s only invented for man’s temporal cure?
Are we to wait while suffocated with pain,
While many young immersed in vain?
Are we to pretend fatalism has it to happen,
And continue to drag as if there’s ready-made essence?
Everything may be in uncertainty,
But writing this poem I am certain
Of absurdity and anxiety.

Justice Pagente is a lecturer at the University of Mindanao.

Unhan na lang Ta Ka

Poetry by | May 23, 2016

Unhan na lang ta ka
samtang di pa nimo mamat-an
ang gum-os nga habol sa imong kiliran
ug ang mga pipila ka buhok nako’ng namilit sa unlan;
samtang di pa nimo makit-an sa samin
imong kaugalingong nag-inusara na lang.

Unhan na lang ta ka
samtang di pa nimo madunggan ang kahilom
sa kuwarto diha sa kasaba sa imong mga damgo;
samtang di pa nimo mamatikdan sa puti nga dingding
nga wala nay kauban imong anino.

Unhan na lang ta ka
samtang imong mga kamot di pa makaduwa-duwa
tunga sa akong dughan ug mga paa;
samtang di pa nimo makuha tanan-tanan;
hantod wala nay mabilin sa akoa.

Unhan na lang ta ka
sa kinatapusan natong kadlawon
nga mubiya akong mga tudlo sa imong bukton;
samtang di pa musubang ang adlaw
nga gapanapaw sa kahayag sa mga bituon.

Unhan na lang ta ka
samtang tugnaw pa ang hangin nga gahikap
sa akong panit sa pagdagan sa jeep;
gitaban kanako ang init
sa imong halok nga nagpabilin sa akong wa-it.

Unhan na lang ta ka
sa di pa mamalong ang mga suga sa mga poste
nga nagkudlis sa kilid sa dalan;
samtang mahinumduman pa nako ang tanan;
samtang di pa muabot ang kabuntago’ng
di na usab ko nimo mailhan.

Arvin E. Narvaza is a language and literature instructor at Mindanao University of Science and Technology. He is a member of Nagkahiusang Magsusulat sa Cagayan de Oro (NAGMAC) and was a fellow for poetry during the 1st CDO Writers Workshop organized by NAGMAC and Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan Department of English Language and Literature.

Feng Shui

Poetry by | May 23, 2016



Face the heavy wooden door from the old house
to the direction of the rising sun and move on
from what is done and cannot be undone. Mirrors

must reflect the morning light and outdoor plants
—not the stubs of candles from last year’s feasts,
the cardboard boxes filled with broken electronics

or the moss-worn garden statues, grey and ruined
by the incessant rains, these sad errors of saints,
the fear of what is new and terrifyingly unfamiliar.

There is no testing the future with one naked toe
into the cold measures of foreseeing. It all flows
and follows the path of the waxing crescent moon

the uncertain rise of curling smoke of an incense
burning as a bird calls on starless night.

Continue reading Feng Shui

Childhood Memories

Poetry by | May 15, 2016

Cut scenes
of smiles and tears,
sunshine and rain,
but nothing to connect
what was in between.
Sunlight touching skin,
and tiny legs,
heavy like lead
from running around,
heart light as a feather.
Raindrops masking tears,
and frail shoulders,
slumped like half-filled sacks
of reality’s dirt and dust,
world closing in
in between—

Krizza Jan D. Ceniza is a BS Architecture Student from the University of the Philippines Mindanao.


Poetry by | May 15, 2016

(for Bartek)

Because I need to erase you.
Don’t haunt me with your pictures
in Rudnik and Sanem.
Don’t make me remember
that I had dreamed of walking in the desolate streets
of your hometown
with you holding my hand.

Because while it is perpetually summer in Davao,
I don’t need to touch snow
to feel winter, the chill I felt
as I look into your dead eyes,
“Do widzenia” as our last words
shattering me like frosted glass
and you not planning to even carry
a shard of me.

Because I don’t want to remember
all of your warm smiles,
all dreams of our fingertips touching together,
all the postcards you sent me,
or the printed plane ticket to Davao.
They have all have been hidden
in the deepest layer of my cabinet
locked away into oblivion.

Yes, go,
Forget me,
Because the flowers in Davao
do not need winter, nor spring
to grow and
to have a new life.

Glyd Jun Arañes works as a linguist at Appen. He was a fellow at the 2010 ADDU Writers Workshop and the 2011 Davao Writers Workshop.

Of STEMIs, Sojourns, and Summonses

Nonfiction by | May 15, 2016

There is something transcendent in the arbitrariness of things that instigates in me a tacit appreciation that despite the hysteria and the bedlam of random life, there is a hand that steers my keel towards safe harbor.

Contrary to pervasive belief, Dubai can get really chilly during the winter months when the ambient temperature plummets to 14 degrees Centigrade. Despite the weather, the adrenaline rush of the Friday graveyard shift is on fever pitch. It is dark and cold outside. A fifty year old local complaining of severe chest pain has just been wheeled into the Emergency Department. Within the prescribed “golden hour,” nurses on duty should have taken the ECG, identified the critical rhythm (in his case, an ominous ST segment elevation), sent in the requisite labs, and prepared the gentleman for transfer to the Cath Lab. He is having an acute heart attack (in medical parlance, a STEMI – ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction). I am the Team Leader tonight and there is a collective whoop among nurses – Kabayans mostly – after the ED doctor complimented the group’s efficiency. The patient is in stable condition now. Still there is an unutterable twinge I could scarcely quench that takes the edge off the exhilaration of the moment.

This is one of the rare times when things sputter up out of my daily routine like fire out of ashes I’d thought were long since departed, and by the flickering, I envision things, or imagine I do, that for too fleeting a time may not count much in the ruse of events but just enough of a tug to linger in memory like a pleasant dream. And upon waking up, I begin to ask myself questions: Have you ever felt that there is something that you were supposed to be doing? Do you experience a nagging feeling deep inside you that you are not supposed to be in the time and place you are in now? Would you rather be the person receiving the patient at the Cath Lab and not the one endorsing him to further care?

Continue reading Of STEMIs, Sojourns, and Summonses

Guavung (drought)

Poetry by | May 8, 2016

The ‘pipip’ is chirping a rhythmic pattern,
which it is named from among the branches
of blossoming Lanahon and Katii trees.

The signs are all pointing to one end:
guavung is coming; a rainless period
and intense heat for 7 months to one year.

The loamy clay soil of barangay Manobo
cracks and Kabacan River is covered
with crawling vines taking the part

of the river where the water flows.
People cannot till their lands–
there is little to no water at all.

Therese Tinio is a fourth year BA Anthropology student at the University of the Philippines Mindanao. The poem was written after her field school in Magpet, North Cotabato, for her academic paper on the types of violence that affect their agriculture and livelihood.


Poetry by | May 3, 2016

Sa aking mapayapang silid, di ako pinatulog ng mga bangkay,
Hinila nila ako pabalik sa silya’t inutusang bigyan ng buhay
Ang mga titik, tumirik mga mata, nakatirik puting kandila,
Sinulat ko kanilang kwento, gamit kong tinta’y kanilang dugo.
Biglang buhos ang agos ng imahinasyon at gunita,
Di kayang makalimot sa karahasan ng kahapon. Nagmistulang musika
Ang kalansing ng mga basyo ng bala sa tuwing humahalik sa lupa.
Dambuhalang sigaw ng mga bomba, duweto ng mga baril at granada,
Mura ng mga sundalo sa moske, pintig ng mga takot na puso
Iyak ng kapatid na nawalan, hikbi ng naulilang anak,
Na pilit ginigising ang inang duguan sa inaakalang pagtulog.

Sa bawat higpit ng kapit sa baril at kalabit ng gatilyo, bitbit nila’y hibik at hindi galit,
Animo’y nagmamakaawa. Naisin mang ipakita’t iparinig ang totoong daing ng puso,
Ngunit nagsiliparan na ang mga bala sa gitna ng kagubatan,
Nasugatan na ang mga balat na kinalyo sa hirap ng buhay,
Bumuhos na ang dugo, umagos na ang mga luha,
Kaya ang pusong binalot ng tapang, lahing nagmula sa magigiting at mapangahas,
Alas! Bakit pa nga ba aatras? Dahas laban sa dahas.
Kung noo’y tinataas ang kamay na nakabukas ang mga palad,
Nakadaop sa batok habang ang lupa’y hinihila ang mga tuhod,
Di kalauna’y natuto na ring isara ang mga kamao at lumaban sa mga ahas.

Habang ang tugon ng karamihan
Di na daw baleng maging alipin basta’t pinapakain,
Walang pinagkaiba sa “di na baleng kitilin basta’t ililibing,”
Sa kariktan ng mundo’y nauhaw, nabulag ang mga duwag!
Handang isakripisyo mga prinsipyo kapalit ng kakapiranggot na habag.
Ibahin ang paninidigan nila. Bigkis sa sandata’y may simbuyo’t poot,
Kaya milagro kung maaninag kanila’y buto’t balat na tabas,
Pagkat magtataka kung pa’no napapasan ang mahahabang armas
Sandamakmak na bala, tig-iisang pusong laman ay pamilyang iniwan
Walang pagtiyak kung makakapiling pa nilang muli, makakasalo pa kaya
Sa noo’y pinaghahatiang kamote at tubig sa batis.

At nakabalagwit sa kanilang balikat ang anino ng nakaraan,
Mga kubong kumain ng bala, at dumura ng dugo.
Sa loob ay mga batang pinagkaitan. Dumi sa kanilang kuko,
Alikabok sa kanilang mga paa. Ngayo’y humalo sa dugo
Galing sa pusong sariwa na tumigil na sa pagtibok.

Nakita ang anak na lumipad dahil pinaulanan ng kanyon.
Nilapitan, tiningnan sabog niyang mukha di na maipinta.
Pinulot, kalong-kalong sa mga bisig – ngayon itatanong niyo pa ba
Kung bakit gano’n na lamang ang galit nila?

Mahigit apat na dekada ng pakikipagtunggali,
Di lang apatnapu’t apat na sawi ang dapat ipinagluksa,
Libo-libong mga batang walang kamalay-malay, mga kababaihang
Hangad lamang ang mapayapang pamumuhay,
Kung rebelde mang maituturing, sila’y mga rebeldeng ninakawan.
Ngayon ipagkakait niyo pa ba ang kapayapaang hinahangad nila?

Tayo’y namumuhay sa mundo ng kabalintunaan.
Mga taong sumisigaw, sila ang hindi napapakinggan,
Kailangan ng kaguluhan upang makamit ang kapayapaan
Si Fatima na nakatakip ang mukha, sumunod sa utos ng Panginoon,
sa Pransya siya’y hinuli’t pinagpiyansa,
Habang si Anna’ng nakahubad, nagbibigay-aliw ay binabayaran pa?
Ang mga taong nakabarong, mga kagalang-galang sa paningin,
Pangalan ma’y santo, nais naman ng kaguluhan.
At sino pa yung piligro’y di na bago sa kanila, mahahabang riple
Nakasabit sa dingding, mga mata’y susubok-subok sa dilim
Mga aparato ng bomba’y nakasilid sa pinaglumaang karton,
Kung sino pa ang mga terorista sa paningin ng iba,
Sila pa ngayon ang nagtitimon para sa katahimikan ng madla.

Tunaw na ang kandila. Sa dalawang pahinang naisulat,
Tila kumawala ang sapi na nagtulak sa aking idibuho ang mga gunita
Gamit ang mga palambang titik na nagkapit-kapit upang mabuo ang isang obra.
Dumungaw ako sa bintana’t nasilayan pitong talang makinang,
Sa pagtingala’y tila nga’y malayo pa ang dulo, napaisip ako.
Noo’y abot-tanaw lang.
Ngayo’y malabo na naman.

Nassefh graduated from the University of the Philippines Mindanao with a degree in BA English, major in Creative Writing. He has performed “Mujahideen” in several events, including Young Davao Writers’ LitOrgy and the recent Kumbira 2016 with the Davao Writers Guild.

Interloping The Real And Surreal In Creating Fiction

Nonfiction by | April 24, 2016

The title of my talk seems awesome but I will avoid any heavy literary term and speak to you from the heart; and since you are young writers seeking to create masterpieces through your fiction or poetry, I will share with you my earliest attempt at short-story writing. Strangely enough, these attemps have become my most anthologized stories – “The Chieftest Mourner” and “Love in the Cornhusks”.

Soon after the war, my mother put me on a rice truck over dark mountains from Bacolod where my father was a retired judge to Silliman University in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental.

Silliman was a close-knit scholarly community with huge shady trees lining its avenues and the park with an ampitheatre where we held the first Shakespeare plays – in 1946 “The Taming of the Shrew” where I was Kate the Shrew; and in 1948 ”As You Like it” where I transform from Lady Rosalind to the page Ganymede in the Forest of Arden. Reuben Canoy played the princely Orlando.

Continue reading Interloping The Real And Surreal In Creating Fiction