Take Me

Poetry by | August 14, 2016

Take me to a place where birds are not caged
Chirping softly as they hover from bough to bough
As soon as a sheet of darkness roll up
Let there be a place to dwell in
Take me to a place where fishes are not doomed
Metamorphosing baits into treats
Swaying from reef to reef
Amid the greed of humanity
Take me to a place where the ocean meets the sky
The breeze and the shade it shares
Emboldens the wandering souls
In quest to fill the dearth
Take me to a place where solitude upholds peace
As the pebbles gets drenched by distress
Pull them back to the sands of hope
Take me to the place I can call my own.

Jeane Lucitte C. Marcera is a psychology major at Mindanao State University. She is from Pala-o, Iligan City.

Call for Manuscripts: 2016 CDO Writing Clinic

Events | August 14, 2016

The Nagkahiusang Magsusulat sa Cagayan de Oro (NAGMAC), in partnership with the Xavier Center for Culture and the Arts (XCCA), is now accepting applications for fellowship to the 2016 CDO Writing Clinic to be held at the XCCA Conference Room, 3/F Museo de Oro, Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan.

The CDO Writing Clinic is an annual literary fellowship for 24 up-and-coming poets, fictionists, essayists, and playwrights born and/or based in Northern Mindanao. The writing clinic is subdivided into four literary genres — Poetry Clinic (18 September), Fiction Clinic (16 October), Literary Essay Clinic (20 November), and Drama Clinic (11 December).

Six fellowships are available per genre. Applicants may apply for more than one genre.

Manuscripts may be in Binisaya, Tagalog, and/or English. Entries should contain 4 poems, 2 short stories, 2 literary essays, or 1 one-act play. The entries should be the applicants’ original and unpublished works. The applicant’s name should not appear on the manuscript.

Applicants should not have been fellows to the CDO Writers Workshops, or any regional and national writers workshops.

Accepted fellows will be provided with a certificate, lunch, and snacks, but will have to shoulder their own transportation. There is no registration fee.

Electronic copies (preferably in .docx/.doc format, Garamond font 12) of the manuscript may be emailed to nagmac.submissions@gmail.com with the subject “<Genre>_CDO Writing Clinic”. On the email’s body, include your full name, address, institutional affiliation, mobile number, and a short bio note.

Deadlines for submissions are 31 August for poetry and fiction, and 30 September for literary essay and drama.

You may direct your inquiries to NAGMAC’s official Facebook page.

Pangandungan: Young Pens of GenSan

Editor's Note by | August 7, 2016

Some young writers in General Santos City have recently formed a group to help enrich the literary heritage of the SOCCSKSARGEN Region. Named Pangandungan, after the largest gong of the kulintang, the group is composed of young professionals and students in tertiary and graduate school. The initial members are Saquina Karla C. Guiam, Kloyde Caday, Jade Mark Capiñanes, Adonis Hornoz, Ronnie Barrientos, Norman Ralph Isla, David Jayson Oquendo, Katrina Buhian, Ken Rix Baldoza, Adnan Razul, and Paul Bastareche. Pioneering writers Gilbert Tan and Noel Pingoy act as advisers. Membership will be opened soon to other literary enthusiasts. As its first activity, Pangandungan held a poetry reading on July 29, 2016, in General Santos City. Dubbed #Hugot Gensan, the event also featured spoken word performances. The group can be contacted on its Facebook page (Pangandungan) or on Twitter (@pangandungan).

‘Nuage de Pluie’ is French for ‘Rain Cloud’

Nonfiction by | August 7, 2016

Everything about my life in my twenties so far has been about self-discovery. The endless nights I’ve had questioning myself over and over (“Who am I? Do I like who I am? Who do I want to be?”) have inevitably resulted in an obsessive analysis of my name. Do you do that too? Have you ever spent an absurd amount of time just wondering about it? I mean―your name has just been given to you, chosen by someone else, and usually it’s not because of the newborn you were at the time, but what your name givers had hoped you’d grow up to be. Given that it was just assigned to you, do you feel like your name fits you now that you’re older and an actual person of your own? Some names have histories and meanings―do they ring true for you? And some have namesakes and legacies―do you feel like you’ve lived up to them? When someone calls it out, can the deepest, darkest recesses of your heart honestly answer that that’s you?

I know that it’s just a name. Like all labels, it doesn’t define you. But, it’s your name: You wear it. You bear it. As Rick Riordan ominously wrote in his first Percy Jackson book, “Names have power.”

Continue reading ‘Nuage de Pluie’ is French for ‘Rain Cloud’


Poetry by | August 7, 2016

You often ask me what I believe in.
Both the Bible and Pablo Neruda talk
About biting into an apple:
And I choose to believe in Neruda.
So forgive me if sometimes I bite your apple-like lips.
Because, to quote the poet, I want to fill my mouth with your name.

So here we are in the throes of Passion.
As our fingers intertwine, I hear the clank of nails.
My love, you twist together a crown of thorns and set
It on my head while, cloth by cloth, I undress myself.
Using the veil of Veronica, you trace the stars
And the scars on my face, and your hug covers
My body with the Shroud of Turin.

Like hammer against nail, your lips touch
My lips. Your tongue is a rattlesnake
Whose tail shakes and dances inside my mouth,
And all the time I dance with it, following
Its steps, movement, and rhythm, setting
Aside that it carries with it some poison.

Is it just me, or you can turn your saliva into wine?
Or better yet, your kiss tastes like a whole vineyard.
Even your breasts smell of freshly-baked bread,
And it is where my tongue always end up to.
I remember carrying the cross to Calvary
As I crawl and find my way around
And across your neck, towards those hills,
On top of which you nail and crucify me.

Forgive me if sometimes you think
I do not know what I do. But perhaps I do.
Truly, I say to you, today you will
Be with me in Paradise.
But even then, there, I shall thirst,
And it shall never be finished.
My love, it is into your lips that I commend my spirit.

All this is a giant leap of faith.
I believe in the scriptures that I taste from your holy lips.
I believe in the gospels written by your divine tongue.
I believe in the pulpit which I find,
And always find, at the church inside your mouth.
I believe that your whole body is the Eucharist turned into flesh.
I believe that every breath you take is a glimpse
Of my salvation and redemption.
And even if I die every time you inhale,
And you bury me in the crypt between your lips,
I know, and I’m sure of this, after you exhale
I shall rise again.

Now, even if you see no holes in my palms,
No wound in my side,
Reach out your hand and have faith in me.

Jade Mark B. Capiñanes, an AB English student at Mindanao State University – General Santos City. This is the piece he performed in “#HugotGensan: Ang Unang Tikim,” a spoken word event organized by Pangandungan, a newly-formed writers group in GenSan.

Notes on Peace: In Ciudad de Sambuwangan

Nonfiction by | July 31, 2016

The rugged coastline came into view as our plane approached the airport of Zamboanga City, Sambuwangan to the ancient Sama people. This was only my second time to visit this city. The first time was a quick stopover as we transitted for Tawi-Tawi. But this second visit, only days after the Zamboanga Siege, and with the city still trying to salvage itself from the trauma of those days, brings out various emotions in me.

As we neared land, houses on stilts below us grew larger, ships lining the coast called eager young men and women to a better life, perhaps in Sabah. Flooded houses also grew more vivid, reminding the plane’s passengers of yet another recent calamity that hit the city.

I searched within me if I’ve come prepared for the work ahead. Have I read enough materials on this siege? How much do I know of the ethnic diversity in the area, to better understand the situation? How sensitive am I to woundedness? Will anyone be ever really prepared to face such monsters as trauma and grief?

Continue reading Notes on Peace: In Ciudad de Sambuwangan

Fatima, the War Nurse

Poetry by | July 31, 2016

In her clinic in the camp, she whispers
Her prayers, hoping no one had been hurt.

But when the forest hushes from gunfire and grenades,
She hears howls of pain, Tabang! Tabang kamo!

Her instruments were all set, laid on the bamboo table—scissors,
Syringe, and bandages—waiting for the wounded.

A bloodied brother in front of her came with a headwound.
Scalp grinning, slit by a bullet. And she stitches it

The way her mother had sewn her pink abaya.
Curious eyes peeking, vision passing through amakan walls.

Veiled women outside covering their mouths.
Pink, sequined veil covers her head. “The color relaxes

The patient,” she remembers. As she buries the needle
In the warrior’s skin once more, she recalls how an old patient

Repelled her, refused her care, for she was wearing a veil.
She had not removed her tondong.

She had turned to another patient, since then.
She gave a slight smile behind her surgical mask

When “Alhamdulillah” came out of the wounded man’s mouth.
Fatima hears gunfire go off again as she washes her hands.

She closes her eyes and waits
For the forest to be completely silent.

Mohammad Nassefh R. Macla graduated from the University of the Philippines Mindanao with a degree in BA English, major in Creative Writing. He is a Kaagan-Moro writer from Panabo City, Davao del Norte.

May you also love me like a fever

Poetry by | July 23, 2016

Translated from the poem by Adonis Durado

May you also love me
like a fever,
Fever whose heat would not subside.
Heat born with chills.
Chills that disdain covers
Source from a deep jealousy.
Jealousy that cannot be appeased
Having been assured too many times.
Assurance expelled in one cough.
Cough of one so delicate, may be
sprained by a tickle to the soul.
Soul that’s a swelling in your loin
but a swelling in my chest.
Chest, ah, this chest of mine
ever breathing your
moods, antics, will…
for I am your refuge,
your one piece of blanket,
your single teaspoon of medicine.

Anthony L. Kintanar is a member of Bathalan-ong Halad sa Dagang-Sugbo (Bathalad-Sugbo), the foremost organization of writers in Cebuano, and has contributed to its publications as author, editor, and translator. He attended the Silliman University National Writers Workshop and was an associate editor of the Sands and Coral, Silliman’s literary journal.

Does it really matter what the dead think? (Part 2)

Fiction by | July 23, 2016

Ted chews the pancit he has shut into his mouth. He stares at Melissa and raises his brow, as if to ask her if anything’s wrong. She hasn’t said much throughout the meal, and she’s only spoke to him intermittently since he arrived.

“Have I told you this pancit is delicious?” he mutters.

“Thanks,” she says, folding her arms.

He piles strips of cabbages and mushrooms on the side of his plate. “I don’t like vegetables, darling,” he’d say, “I just like the noodles.” She used to argue with him that the taste of the vegetables have seeped into the noodles anyway, and that’s how the real pancit guisado should come as, so he might as well eat them, the lot. She can’t be bothered now, though. Besides, in their arguments, he always wins.

Continue reading Does it really matter what the dead think? (Part 2)