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The Talisman, Part 2

Fiction by | March 29th, 2015

Continued from Part 1

Fedawdaw laughed aloud. “Yes, indeed. You are old enough to marry. More than old enough, in fact. The men your age here already has children. But, inga, you don’t need an ungit. You don’t look bad, and you are educated. You don’t need a talisman to attract a woman. I can even arrange a marriage for you. My friend Datu Kling has a beautiful daughter. She’s—”

“The woman I like lives in the city.”

Fedawdaw fell silent.

“She’s a Catholic,” Tefu added. “She also works for the bishop, but as a secretary.”

“Well, I’m not surprised if you want to marry a Catholic woman. You are a Catholic yourself. The priest who sent you to school baptized you, didn’t he? He even gave you a new name. He calls you Ma . . .”

“Mateo. That’s who I am now. It’s the name I use in Cotabato.”

“Of course, inga. I understand. You want to marry a city girl. You want someone like you.”

“I’m still not quite like her, Iboh. She’s a college graduate. I finished high school only. I’m just a driver. She’s higher than me. I don’t even have the courage to say hello to her.”

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The Talisman, Part 1

Fiction by | March 22nd, 2015

Fedawdaw was overjoyed when Tefu, one of his sons, came home from the city. The Teduray huntsman prepared a feast. He asked his two wives to bring out and cook the salted meat that the family had been keeping. If consumed by the family alone, the meat could last for a fortnight, but because Fedawdaw invited the neighbors, in one sitting, the meat was demolished.

“Now, my dear husband, what are we going to eat tomorrow?” complained Amung, Fedawdaw’s first wife and Tefu’s stepmother. “I don’t see why you had to invite the whole inged. There is nothing special to celebrate.”

“Tefu is here,” Fedawdaw said. “That is special. I rarely see him, Amung. He is always busy with his work in Cotabato.”

“You always prepare a feast for him. When he finished studying in the Catholic school, you slaughtered a wild boar and two deer. But what do you do for your other sons? When Minted, who is your first son, was married, you butchered a boar, and only half of it was cooked for the occasion.”

“Stop griping, Amung. Tefu may not be my eldest or strongest child, but he is the most intelligent. He deserves to be honored by his father.”

“Oh, don’t tell me that, Fedawdaw. That’s simply not true. Mesila, your youngest son with me, is the most intelligent of your children. Mesila knows where to set traps in the forest, what the chirping of a temugen means, and when to plant crops based on the position of the stars.”

“But Mesila, Amung, doesn’t know how to read and write. He did not go to school. He doesn’t know how to drive a vehicle. Don’t compare him to Tefu. Tefu studied in Notre Dame High School, as a scholar of a priest, and he’s working in Cotabato now as the driver of the bishop. Don’t you know how important that job is? In the Catholic Church, the priest is the datu, and the bishop is the sultan.”

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Announcing the Fellows for the 15th IYAS National Writers Workshop

Editor's Note by | March 22nd, 2015

The IYAS National Writers’ Workshop of the University of St. La Salle, Bacolod City, has selected 15 Fellows for 2015, out of 72 applicants nationwide.

The fellows for fiction (in English) are Deo Charis Mostrales and Arnel Murga; (in Filipino) Heidi Sarno; (in Hiligaynon) Meryl Panuncio; and (in Cebuano) Mechelle Centurias.

Fellows for drama in Filipino are Eljay Deldoc and Bernalyn Sastrillo.

The fellows for poetry (in English) are Catherine Regina Borlaza, Elijah Maria Pascual and Maria Camille Rivera; (in Filipino) Juleini Vivien Nicdao and Aldrin Pentero; (in Cebuano) Adonis Enricuso and Dave Pregoner; and (in Hiligaynon) Patrick Jay Pangilinan.

The IYAS Workshop Director is Dr. Marjorie Evasco and the panelists for this year are Ms. Grace Monte de Ramos-Arcellana, Mr. Glenn Mas, Mr. Danilo M. Reyes, Dr. Dinah Roma-Sianturi and Mr. John Iremil Teodoro. IYAS Founder and Project Director Dr. Elsie Coscolluela also sits in the panel.

This year, the visiting writer who will be in the panel is Tim Tomlinson of the Asian American Writers Workshop of New York City.

The IYAS National Writers’ Workshop is co-sponsored by the Bienvenido N. Santos Creative Writing Center of De La Salle University and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, and will be held on April 26 – May 2, 2015 at the Balay Kalinungan Complex of the University of St. La Salle, Bacolod City.

Announcing the Fellows for the 54th Silliman University National Writers Workshop

Editor's Note by | March 22nd, 2015

The 54th edition of the Silliman University National Writers Workshop is slated to start on 11 May 2015 at the Rose Lamb Sobrepeña Writers Village in Camp Look-out, Valencia, Negros Oriental.

Twelve writers from all over the Philippines have been accepted as regular workshop fellows.

The fellows for poetry are Aimee Paulette O. Cando of Quezon City (University of Santo Tomas), Angela Gabriele R. Fabunan of Olongapo City (University of the Philippines-Diliman), Darylle Luzarita Rubino of Polomolok, South Cotabato (University of the Philippines-Mindanao), and Mohammad Nassefh R. Macla of Davao City (University of the Philippines-Mindanao).

The fellows for fiction are Luis Manuel Diores of Cebu City (University of San Carlos), Patricia Corazon F. Lim of Quezon City (Ateneo de Manila University), Kristine Abelink Patenio of Murcia, Negros Occidental (University of St. La Salle in Bacolod), and Rodolfo Eduardo T. Santiago of Quezon City (Ateneo de Manila University).

The fellows for creative nonfiction are Jona Branzuela Bering of Cebu City (Cebu Normal University), Rowena Rose M. Lee of Manila (University of the Philippines in Mindanao), Miguel Antonio Lizada of Davao City (National University of Singapore), and Edmark Tejarcio Tan of Quezon City (University of Santo Tomas).

Khail Campos Santia of Malaybalay, Bukidnon (Silliman University) will join them as a special fellow for poetry. The names of other special fellows from around the Asia-Pacific region will be announced later.

Four alternates have also been chosen in case any of the regular fellows declines the invitation: Christian Jil R. Benitez of San Mateo, Rizal (Ateneo de Manila University) for poetry, Edmond Julian Y. Dela Cerna of Davao City (San Pedro College) and Matthew Jacob F. Ramos of Cebu City (Ateneo de Manila University) for fiction, and Fritzie D. Rodriguez of Balaga City, Bataan (University of the Philippines-Diliman) for creative nonfiction.

The workshop, which traditionally lasts for three weeks, is the oldest creative writing workshop of its kind in Asia. It was founded in 1962 by S.E.A. Write Awardee Edilberto K. Tiempo and National Artist Edith L. Tiempo, and was recently given the Tanging Parangal in the Gawad CCP Para sa Sining by the Cultural Center of the Philippines.


Poetry by | March 15th, 2015

(for Myke)

It pains me to see
you wound up

your own existence

Your soul is a snail
twisting its viscera

to progress
          from embryo
                   to adulthood



the atrophy

before the unbearable pain
of bearing

the shell
of your sanctuary and prison

You must survive
this rite of passage

What is important is never easy

Genevieve Mae Aquino was born in Manila but calls Davao her home. She has a clutch of diplomas in molecular biology and genetics. She was fellow for Poetry in English at several national creative writing workshops.

Time Travel Please

Nonfiction by | March 15th, 2015

Any nerd who has ever put the words “what” and “if” together in a sentence would probably be pondering about the concepts of time traveling and alternate universes. I would know. I’m a nerd.

My fascination with time travel began when my Kuya told me stories about comics heroes from Marvel and DC. He told me about how Scott Summers was seduced by Emma Frost and how Jean Grey shat bricks and turned into this flaming hot babe named Phoenix all because of jealousy. (Disclaimer: Kuya told me this story when I was nine years old. Did this happen in the comics or was it a figment of my imagination?) But I digress. A few months later, he told me about another comic where Emma Frost failed to seduce Scott because Jean Grey travelled back in time and prevented it from happening.

At nine years old, I learned that it was theoretically possible to travel through time and that slutty bitches could push decent women to crawl into a portal and change the course of history. Or at least, not let their man sleep with conniving whores.

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Trees beyond the window pane

Poetry by | March 15th, 2015

Trees beyond the window pane
a retreat caught between the threshold
of gentle tension between time and void
a conversation amongst creatures
older than us
younger than us
or the same age
Barely touching but deeply felt
Silent conversation
Peeping and teasing
The wind tickles, they flutter
Minuet flipping, flapping
Then they stop

Noy Narciso teaches at Ateneo de Davao University.

Jollibee Chickenjoy and Space Battles

Fiction by | March 8th, 2015

Nanay cried again yesterday. I have only seen her cry twice in my life. And this time, it was because of the rain. And the thunder. And probably the lightning, too. I think Nanay has always been scared of storms. And it was really scary, the storm last night.

I’m also scared of storms. I always worry that the thunderclaps would make me go deaf, like my friend Alicia. I talk to her by writing on little pieces of paper. I asked her once if it was hard, being deaf. And she said it was. I wanted to ask if the thunderclaps made her go deaf, but I didn’t want to be embarrassed if I was wrong. Alicia is my friend from school.

Another thing I’m scared of during storms is the possibility that the rain might drown the whole world. I don’t know how to swim so I’ll probably drown with the world, too.

It was two hours after dinner when Nanay cried. We had Jollibee Chickenjoy (my all-time favorite), and I had warm milk after. It started raining right before we ate. Every time the sky growled, I felt the ground shake. The heavy pouring of rain drowned not just the streets but also the sound from the cars passing by. It reminded me of the sound of the bullets in a war movie I saw with Tatay. Nanay and Tatay had a fight that night because she didn’t like me watching violent movies. It was a year ago, I was nine.

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When a Poet wants to be a Statistician for a Computer Scientist’s Sake

Poetry by | March 8th, 2015

I wished I was a statistician,
That I would’ve dealt with a list of n,
Say unsorted values of anything.
And find its median.
Or the median of its median.
That I would’ve studied numbers,
Across samples.
That I would’ve befriended Euclid and Mahalnobis,
And Charles Babbage so close.

I wished she recognized me,
And admired me like I do to her,
Or like when Statistics and Computer Science
Found usefulness from each other,
When both attracted to each other,
When both fell in love with each other.

Look how the Order Statistics was used
To make the work of a Computer Scientist easier,
Especially in sorting.
Or how Clustering in Statistics finds solutions
To some of her problems, given a list of data items,
Where she can use such strategy
To data mining, retrieval of information,
Or to web search, and image processing,
Partitioning the items into similar groups.
It’s as good as making her smile,
And making her laugh;
It’s as good as how I’m capable of caressing her
All day long.

If I was a statistician, I would’ve given every bit
Of my knowledge to her.
I would’ve shared a million times with her,
And that each of these times were likely to be medians,
Because each of these times
Would definitely be special.

But that’s if I was a statistician,
But I’m not.
I’m not a statistician at all,
So this Computer Scientist
Walks away from me now.

Nassefh is a UP Mindanao graduate. He didn’t take up any Math-related courses, although he wished he did.

Erratum and Apology: Author of “Valid Measurements” is Ria Valdez

Editor's Note by | March 3rd, 2015

We published the poem last March 1, 2015 under the name of Darylle Rubino. This was in error. The author of the poem is actually Ria Valdez. We have corrected it and will run the poem again in March 8 with the right attribution. Apologies to Ria and Darylle.