Poetry by | January 22, 2017

ko alam kung ano
ang nasa pagitan natin
noong gabing iyon
habang ginagalugad
kung saan pahihimlayin
ang mga salita

o baka naman wala
talagang nasa pagitan
katulad ng nawalang paligid
habang naghahanap
ng mga signos
sa pagitan ng sulyap
at usap

sa sugat ng ngayon
at nakaraan
ang pamamaalam

may ngiting nais
sa mga mata ko
subalit sinaway ito
ng mga mata mo

kilala nila ako

kapag ganito
kakorni ang simula
trahedya ang wakas
ng hinahabing
tula at kuwento.

German V. Gervacio is a Palanca award-winning author who teaches at the Filipino Department of MSU-Iligan Institute of Technology. He is the incoming representative of Northern Mindanao in the National Committee on Literary Arts for 2017-2019.

Davao Writers Workshop 2016: Learning Once More

Nonfiction by | January 22, 2017

November 30, 2016 was a holiday commemorating Andres Bonifacio’s heroism as usual, but for me, it seemed as if I went to my first day of class in a bigger classroom. That was the day I took off my hat as a teacher and put on the uniform of a student again for five humbling days.

The Davao Writers Workshop (DWW) 2016 served as my fast-paced, short course in Creative Writing. Everything happened in a snap from the time I submitted my manuscript with high hopes (as if I were submitting my school requirements) until the time I received the acceptance e-mail. Reading “Congratulations” really took me to Cloud Nine, as if I had won a prize. In fact, they said I had won a “fellowship.” At that point I wasn’t quite sure what it meant, but I told myself, This is it! I am ready to learn again.

Bringing along my backpack, I went to our “classroom,” The Big House: A Heritage Home in Juna Subdivision. When I finally met my “classmates” for that workshop, I realized they were fourteen diverse people coming from different parts of Mindanao.  Most of them were college students and two fellow teachers, Deejay Maravilla from Dapitan and Jet Paclar from Cagayan de Oro. Just like me, they also set aside their red pens and they were eager to learn from the pros. Despite our diversity of culture, age, and gender, it did not hinder me from relating to them and building rapport especially with my roommates, Krizza Udal and Emmylou Layog who were both senior college students. We were the only females in the group. It reminded me that learning and teaching is indeed a cycle–I may be a teacher by profession but during the workshop, we were all students.

Continue reading Davao Writers Workshop 2016: Learning Once More

Caught in the Middle

Nonfiction by | January 15, 2017

Whenever we talk about Marcos in the family, I do not hear stories of disgust or condemnation especially from my mother and father. Because of this, I grew up neither hating nor loving Ferdinand Marcos.

My father had a firsthand experience of the war in Mindanao during Martial Law in the late 70s and early 80s. His family was one of the bakwit, evacuees who transferred from one place to another to avoid armed conflict. Their community in Kiamba, Sarangani Province (back then Sarangani had not yet been declared a separate province of South Cotabato) became one of the war zones in the SOCSKSARGEN region. Thousands of families were displaced and many young Muslims joined the fighting. Because he could not anymore tolerate the injustices they had experienced in the hands of the Ilaga, the Christian paramilitary group tasked to purge Mindanao of Muslims, my father enlisted in the Black Shirt movement. By joining the Muslim militia, he helped avenge his fellow Moro brothers and sisters who had been killed by the Ilaga and the military.

As my father shared this war story, I was waiting for him to blame Pres. Marcos for it. But he put more emphasis on the effects of intense militarization and the chaos it brought to their lives. I wondered what their leaders had indoctrinated in them that their view of the war seemed only on the surface.

This sentiment is similar to what I heard when we interviewed Moros who had been victims of Martial Law. The Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) assigned our group to make a documentary film on Moro issues. We visited various places in Mindanao to interview Moros and Lumad who experienced marginalization through land dispossession, historical injustices, and human rights violations. In one of our interviews, we visited Malisbong in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat, which was one of the greatly affected places during Martial Law, and talked to the survivors of what is known as the Malisbong massacre.

As the survivors recalled, soldiers and officers of the 15th and 19th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine military carried out search-and-destroy missions around the coastal villages in Palimbang. The thundering sound and explosion of bombs and cannons overwhelmed the community, destroying public and private properties.
Continue reading Caught in the Middle

Armor (excerpt)

Fiction by | January 8, 2017

(Armor won 1st Prize in the Short Story for English category of the Carlos Palanca Memorial Literary Awards in 2013.)

The week Ronnie was planning to die, one of his neighbors paid him a visit. Ronnie had just come back from the seamstress, bringing home a newly mended sheath dress he would wear for the pageant, when Oliver showed up.

“The Death Squad,” Oliver said. “They’re after you.”

Ronnie considered what reactions were possible. He would back away from the Mylar-covered table where Oliver was nursing his coffee. He would warn him that he didn’t appreciate this kind of joke, not after bodies had been found in empty, grassy lots around Mintal. Instead, Ronnie soaked up his neighbor’s silence, leaned on the refrigerator and lit a cigarette.

Where was the Death Squad when he regularly handed out shabu to the crew of wiry boys who had hung out at his beauty salon? They were hired guns, the Death Squad, who used to go after drug pushers, but lately they’d been taking down street gang members, crystal meth users, petty thieves.
Continue reading Armor (excerpt)

NAGMAC’s Call for Submission for the Bulawan Literary Zine Issue 02: ‘Dissent/Defiance’

Editor's Note | January 1, 2017

Dissent, defiance: in Binisaya, supak, pagbikil; in Filipino, pagtutol, pagsuway (respectively). According to dictionary definitions, “dissent” as a verb means to hold or express opinions at variance with those previously, commonly, or officially express; while “defiance” is open resistance, or bold disobedience. The term is apt in articulating the responses to the turbulent events that rocked our everyday lives as residents of Northern Mindanao and the rest of the country.

Potential contributors are emerging and established writers who (1) are born and/or based in Northern Mindanao and (2) are Filipino citizens residing in the Philippines (outside Northern Mindanao) or abroad whose works are about the region.

We are looking for previously unpublished fiction and nonfiction prose, poems, and (unperformed) plays in Binisaya, Filipino, English, or a combination of these three languages. Contributors are asked to submit their best works in either of the following: 1 to 3 poems (not more than 60 lines each); 1 one-act play (15 pages); 1 flash narrative (500-1,500 words); 1 short story (3,500-5000 words); or 1 creative nonfiction/literary essay (3,500-5000 words). We are also looking for critical essays (3,500-5000 words – MLA citation format) about Northern Mindanao literature and book reviews (1,000-2,500 words) of works by Northern Mindanao authors. Except for poetry, all prose submissions should be in font size 12 in Arial, Courier New, or Times New Roman, and must be in Microsoft word (.doc) format. It should also be set in standard manuscript format; for more guidelines about manuscript formatting, look for William Shunn’s guide to Proper Manuscript Format. We are also looking for art works (at least 3) that will be considered for the cover art of the next volume. It should conform to the theme and it must be set in .jpeg file.

Send your manuscripts and artworks as email attachment to nagmac.submissions@gmail.com, together with a cover letter indicating your full name and contact information, as well as a 2-3 sentence bio-note. The email must have this subject line: “Bulawan zine submission, genre/art, and title of literary/art work” (ex. Bulawan zine submission, Flash Narrative, Bayo ni Dodong). For poetry submissions, choose one title for the subject line, while the document to be attached in the email must contain at least three (3) poems. Email sent without this subject line will automatically be filtered as spam and marked unread. Letters of acceptance and rejections will be sent out weeks after the deadline. Deadline of submission is until 11:59 p.m. of 31 March 2017.

The editorial board is composed of Mark Anthony L Daposala (poetry editor), Abigail C James (fiction editor), Vel Marie M Santillan (drama editor), and Alton Melvar M Dapanas (creative nonfiction/literary essay editor) with Zola Gonzalez-Macarambon as consultant. Eric John B Villena serves as the general editor.

Inquiries may be addressed to NAGMAC’s official email nagmac.submissions@gmail.com or Facebook page facebook.com/cdopoetrynight. The publication, as independently published, is unable to give honorarium to its contributors.

Eh di Howl! (after Ginsberg)

Poetry by | January 1, 2017

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by Internet memes, historical revisionist Youtube clips, dragging themselves through the darkest, amnesiac streets of remembering, Marcos apologist hipsters and bloggers burning to ashes the miserable memories of Martial Law,

who bared their image-driven brains to froth for the good-looking grandson who was London-educated but undeniably unknowledgeable about undervoting,

who Facebook-floated across virtual Wi-Fi waters and stayed on top Twitter trends, contemplating the alleged cheating in the vice-presidential race in order to pave and force the way of the unapologetic son to Malacañang,

who unwittingly sent their souls to Hell for promoting the banality of evil and saw Mephistophelian angels promising the hero’s burial and ascension of the wax-and-plastic-and-formaldehyde-long-rotten patriarch, but didn’t see the irony,

who passed through illumined universities yet spent more time in status-symbol coffee shops, discussing fashion styles and sheers, crop tops and jogger pants, ending up inadequately informed or misinformed or uninformed about the naked and obscene terrors of the autocratic rule and the detritus thereof,
Continue reading Eh di Howl! (after Ginsberg)

Masahe sa City Plaza

Fiction by | January 1, 2017

“Maygale naabtan pa ko nimo diri, Mam,” matod sa akong suki nga masahista. Iyahang bus-ok nga mga bukton mihulma sa iyang nipis nga puting sando. Milingkod ko sa gamayng plastik na lingkoranan ug gibutang ko sa kilid ang akong napalit nga karne ug utan, apil ang akong naukay nga mga blaws. “Ulahi najud tika na kustomer mam. Sayo man gud mi ugma sa Marawi.” Gipatong nako ang akong mga tiil sa iyang paa.

“Mag unsa mo didto dong?”

“Didto mi mobotar mam,” matod niya dungan sa pagbubo sa uwil sa iyang mga kamot.

“Ha? Didto diay ka narehistro?” Iyahang gisugdag masahe ang akong mga bagtak nga mihawoy sa pagtindog og dugay sa ukayan.

“O, pero sila ra ang garehistro sa amo mam. Igo ra ming nagpirma sa form na ilang gihatag, tapos sila ray nagpadala dadto sa Marawi.”
Nahimatikdan ko ang iyang nawong nga nabaknot, ang singot gatulo naingog duga sa iyang mala-Adonis nga nawong.
Continue reading Masahe sa City Plaza

Panahon ang Lumay

Poetry by | December 25, 2016

Usahay ugtas
ang atoang kaagi
sa kahiubos

mga pasangil
sa pakyas nga pasaad
lugda mipisil

sa kadugay sa
oras, gaduhaduha
kun mupadayon

ang gugma nato
ma wahig ug pagbati
mawad-ag awog

apan kani ra
akoang maingon sa
imo pangga, ko

Kung igarapon
ang tui-g nga miagi
sama sa lana

mahimo kining
ang pinakakusgan sa
tanang gayuma.

Glorypearl Dy is a filmmaker based in Davao City. She was a fellow at the 2011 Davao Writers Workshop.

Where He Left

Poetry by | December 25, 2016

The room smelled like the pomade
Grandpa put on his hair
the moment
he got out of the shower.
The vines he used to trim
in the mornings
had crawled
to the grills on the windows
from the rusty gate
where he stood by
as he watched
me and my cousins
play hide-and-seek
along Almond Drive
on Sunday afternoons.
Mama was cleaning out
his medicine box
when I realized
all the containers
had not been emptied out.
Uncle carried
the plump luggage
to the top of the closet
filled with naked hangers.
Grandma could not seem to fold
the blanket on his bed
the way he used to do it-
corner to corner, edge to edge.
Tony Orlando started squeaking
when the CD player played
“Tie A Yellow Ribbon,”
but Grandma listened
and danced with the air
in the same way
she danced with Grandpa
at the wedding reception
of their golden anniversary.
I hold this scarf
that he wrapped himself in
as he sat on his wheelchair
one windy afternoon
when we drove him
to the beach.
Nobody dared to sit
on the rocking chair
in the balcony
where he used to nap
during sunny days
that reminded him, he said,
of the Panglao beaches
where he used to play
when he was young.
But now he’s rested
somewhere peaceful,
where I could no longer
massage his feet
as he rocked himself to sleep.

Marie Crestie Joie Contrata is a Creative Writing student from the University of the Philippines Mindanao.

On Meranaw, Mindanawon Writing

Nonfiction by | December 25, 2016

Bismillah. Assalaamu ‘alaykum.

My name is Diandra-Ditma Macarambon. I am a Mindanawon. I write. Or, at least, I try to. And, that makes me a Mindanawon writer. But, really, what is the Mindanawon writer? Or who is the Mindanawon writer?

I was raised in the Islamic City of Marawi; I spent most of my adult years there as well. Marawi is a place distinct from any other place. It’s very different from its nearest neighbor, Iligan City. I remember my father saying that, from any other city in the Philippines, when one reaches Marawi, it is as though one has reached a different country or even a different planet, he joked. Now that I’m older and “wiser”, I know that he was right. Marawi is a special place and it has definitely shaped me into the person that I am today.

Marawi, obviously, is part of Muslim Mindanao (or the part of Mindanao whose population is generally Muslim) and this fact has really influenced me in so many ways. Of course, we all know that one embodies the culture in which s/he is raised. I am no different. I am not just a Mindanawon, I am not just a Muslim Filipino, I am a Meranaw. And, my being a Meranaw differentiates me from others. Not in a special or superior way, no, but in terms of traditions and practices. I belong to a family that sticks to and honors the traditional ways of the Meranaw. In everything that I do, I am this way. And, of course, even in writing, I am a Meranaw.

Now, being a Meranaw writer and accepting that I, we, as Meranaws, are different from others, does that mean that I write differently, too? Are my works limited to the Meranaw experience? But, then, a question comes to mind, is the Meranaw experience really that unique? Say, compared to the Mindanawon experience as a whole?
Continue reading On Meranaw, Mindanawon Writing