USLS Announces the 16th IYAS National Writers’ Workshop

Editor's Note by | January 20, 2016

The University of St. La Salle-Bacolod (USLS) is inviting young writers to submit their application for the 16th IYAS National Writers’ Workshop which will be held on April 24 – 30, 2016 at Balay Kalinungan, USLS-Bacolod.

Applicants should submit original work: either 6 poems, 2 short stories, or 2 one-act plays using a pseudonym, in two (2) computer-encoded hard copies of entry, font size 12 pts., double-spaced, and soft copies in a CD (MSWord). Short stories must be numbered, by paragraph, on the left margin.

These are to be accompanied by a sealed size 10 business envelope, inside of which should be the author’s real name and chosen pseudonym, a 2×2 ID photo, and short resume. Everything must be mailed on or before February 19, 2016.

Entries in English, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Tagalog or Filipino may be submitted. Fellowships are awarded by genre and by language.

Fifteen applicants will be chosen for the workshop fellowships, which will include partial transportation subsidy and free board and lodging.

This year’s panelists include Grace Monte de Ramos, RayBoy Pandan, D.M. Reyes, Dinah Roma, John Iremil Teodoro and Marjorie Evasco as Workshop Director.

Please submit your application to: Dr. Marissa Quezon, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, University of St. La Salle, La Salle Avenue, Bacolod City. For inquiries, please email

IYAS is held in collaboration with the Bienvenido N. Santos Creative Writing Center of De La Salle University-Manila and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

For the people: How a Scientist Became an Activist

Nonfiction by , , | January 10, 2016

Kim Gargar told us to wait outside for our interview. We wanted to ask him about his life, what got him into activism and why he had been thrown into prison. Prior to the meeting, we had also heard about Panalipdan Southern Mindanao and we were buzzing with the questions we would ask him. It was hard to believe such a famous person was just an ikot jeepney ride away, in UP Mindanao where he currently teaches Physics.

Kim Gargar
Kim Gargar

After a few moments, Kim Gargar came out of the CSM building. All of us made our way towards the huts by the little bridge where it was quiet enough to do the interview. We asked him immediately why he became an activist. He looked amused by the question and answered it with a question of his own. “What do you think activism is?” I gave him the most honest answer I could think of: a way of fighting oppression. He said my answer was right then told me about his activism’s roots.

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Si Dodo ug ang talisawop nga adlaw

Fiction by | January 3, 2016

Nagkadungsingot si Dodo sa iyang pagbinugha sa kahoy aron gamitong sugnod. Dinhi man god sa Bario Obrero, halos tanang tawo naggamit sa kahoy sa pagluto sa ilang inadlawng pagkaon. Pipila lamang ang nakagamit sa gasul. Kadto ra gayong tubigtubigan sa katilingban …kadtong nagtrabaho sa goberno ug ang mga asendiro sa tubo.

Kaniadtong Marso, natapos ni Dodo ang edukasyong sekondarya didto sa Bais National High School. Ug kay bakasyon naman, maoy iyang kalingawan ang pagbughag kahoy. Anak siya sa usa sa mga tapasiro sa asendiro og tubo sa Bais.

Gibati siyag kakapoy. Busa miundang una siya sa pagbugha aron trapohan sa labakara ang singot nga midagayday sa iyang tampihak. Apan sa kalit lang, dihay misangpit sa iyang ngalan gikan sa iyang likorang bahin.

Milingi siya ug maoy iyang nakita si Junjun, iyang silingan ug kasaring sa BNHS.

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The Farm

Poetry by | November 29, 2015

This will be yours, you said,
yours and your sister’s, though not
grandly, only as a matter of fact.

Five hectares of fruit trees sprawled
before and around us, paths
stamped through grass from

decades of walking, which you
were doing slow now but expertly.
Behind you, I swore and scratched

at cuts weeds scythed across my
shins, pausing only when I saw fruit
bruising on the ground,

wind and rain plucking them
from branches that would have
fed them sweet.

Such a shame, I said, but this
you only shrugged at. At sundown
the trees were fractal, the farmscape

a teeming code my urban eyes
could not probe, but I loved this strange,
living land and love it still

because you—gray-headed,
sure-footed—were on and within it,
as a matter of fact.

for Dad

Charisse-Fuschia “Peachy” A. Paderna finished high school at the Stella Maris Academy in Davao City and college at the Ateneo de Manila University (AB in Philosophy). Her poems have earned her the Ateneo de Manila University’s Loyola Schools Award for the Arts, and more recently, her collection “An Abundance of Selves” won first place in the 65th Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature in Poetry category English Division. She is currently based in Manila, where she works as a communications consultant for the Department of Budget and Management.

The Poem

Poetry by | November 29, 2015

It speaks where your world is:
the bending moan of a train speeding off,

your mother’s whistling in the kitchen.
It moves in the stories unknown to you,

the ones that escape your possession:
a war removed from you by decades,

a shrub blossoming in another country,
a letter unanswered.

It rises too, by the thousands,
from men and women lush with words,

here and there releasing their bodies
to a new language, a new

eloquence for ways of living
otherwise discordant.

It occupies song and silence,
the interstices from breath to breath.

It is born of thought aching or joyous,
of the quickening verb that is you.


Nonfiction by | November 29, 2015

An afternoon, early summer of 2010, at the pathway to the CHSS building of UP Mindanao, I first saw the girl I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with. Her name was G, a freshman. She had a shoulder-length hair, parted at the center, a thin physique which was emphasized by long sleeves shirt and pants. In my vision, she walked as if her feet stepped on piles of cotton—softly and lightly.

I have always felt a tinge of envy every time I hear stories of romance from people close to me. All of them seemed so easy as though it has long been planned and only the perfect time had to be waited for before the execution.

There were times when I would catch myself smiling at random pictures of my high school classmates with their boyfriends or girlfriends beside them. There was always a hollow in my chest. Scanning through photos on social media, I would sigh and every breath sent air right through the hole in my chest. I could not help but tell myself: I was not one of them. My true identity, as others would call it, was unknown to me until I turned seventeen—a sophomore at UP Mindanao, thriving, getting by, trying to get over with the academic life. It was as if the universe handed me what I could not give myself—a means to determine who I was.

A lot of people have given testimonies before about time and motion slowing down when they meet somebody who could possibly be their other half. And for me, that somebody was G.

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Mr. Webster, Spider

Fiction by | November 22, 2015

Be careful you do not get an appetite for words or you may end up like Mr. Webster, a hopeless word addict, helplessly becoming every word he ate.

There was once a spider with a round gray body covered with yellow stripes on the upper part of it, fuzzed all around with tiny feathers, even on its thin wiry legs. He wore eyeglasses that were so tight they stuck to his head even when he climbed up a steep wall or walked upside down on a leaf.

Mr. Webster was his name. He was always collecting words. He would scuttle onto a book shelf when nobody was looking, go into the loose pages of a book and read and read and read. When he came upon a word he liked, such as “refurbishment” or “incantatory” or “felonious” or “derelict,” he would stop to think, rocking on his long legs while he thought about the word, what the word could mean, and try to use it in a sentence over and over in his mind. He was quite a genius, this Mr. Webster.

And sometimes where there was a word he particularly liked, he would cut the word out of the book or magazine with his little sharp jaw cutters and eat the word letter by letter until he digested it. Then he would climb up to the rafters or ceiling of the big library where he lived and there weave a web house where he could sleep until it was time for the next meal.

After a while, he got to be master of the printed word, so that when he wanted to fall asleep, he would go into a book and look for the word sleep, eat it and instantly fall asleep. Or if he wanted to taste something sweet, he would go into a loose-leaf recipe book, look for the word honey and eat the word.

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Fiction by | November 15, 2015

The markings on the chest of the old man lying on the ground glowed brighter than the moon that night. Light blue. The light crawled throughout his already pasty skin. When the last drop of blood fell from his head, which was hanging above the rest of his body, he finally spoke.

He asked me what I was doing there and why I was just staring blankly on a dead headless body. I told him I was hurting and that the body, headless, reminded me of my own. He seems to have tried tilting his head in confusion, but failed. He realized he could not tilt his head without his neck. He stifled a laugh, and said, “Sometimes I forget that I do not have a body.”

I wondered if sometimes the body forgets that he does not have a head, but of course it cannot. It cannot even think. Without the head the body could not even function.

“So you told me that my headless body reminded you of your own?” he asked, breaking my train of thought.

I looked him in the eye and I asked him.

“What is that glowing thing in your body?”

He was disappointed when I answered his question with another inquiry, but he still answered my question. Although, he was hesitant at first.

Continue reading Heartless

Kissing Scars

Fiction by | November 15, 2015

“What is this?” he asked, looking at my arms. I breathed deeply. The tension began to strike.

I stared at him uncertain whether I would reveal to him the truth or tell him white lies. If he were not to poke my arms then surely he would not see anything, would not see any white spots on my skin.

My dad used to tease me when I was a child. “Your husband will be surprised with your first night together.” He laughed. It was a joke. But it bothered me whenever I thought of Lee. What if my dad’s joke would turn into reality?

It scared me, knowing that maybe Lee would be the same as my high school friends.

“Psoriasis! Psoriasis!” They kept shouting even after the class had long been dismissed. It was on the day when my report on our biology class was about the skin as a part of the integumentary system, the organ system that protects the body from various kinds of damage.

I was ashamed of what they did. I could not move my entire body and could not stop from crying. Nobody cared to ask me why I was crying.

“Wala, wala,” I said. “There is something in my eyes.” That was only alibi that I could think of.

I treated them as my “barkada,” but they never went back to the classroom for me. They never even asked me why or what happened. In the first place, they never even knew how painful it was to reveal the entrusted secrets I tried to bury. For three years of being with them, I kept those hard feelings. It was just that I never wanted to destroy the friendship that we have made, friendship that left scars.

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Of Remembering

Nonfiction by | November 8, 2015

The only sound that resonated in one of the crowded rooms inside the lonely mansion at Lugay-Lugay Street was her loud, ragged, and pained breathing. It was 9:45 in the evening, the night after Christmas in 2007. Families, relatives, and friends, rushed from different distant cities and countries to Cotabato City to be with her in her final moments. The golden silk curtains were drawn, the air-conditioning unit was turned off, all the lights were switched on—brightly illuminating every inch of every face, and of everything—in the house, and the white narra door that was always locked was now left wide open for the people to enter and see her in such a heart-breaking state.

She was lying on a hospital bed bought by her eleven children, six sons and five daughters. IV needles were injected on her bruised right hand. She was wearing an oxygen mask that did nothing but to amplify her agonized gasping for air. Her black, thinning hair was tied into a messy knot. Here caramel skin was too big and too loose for her now thin body. As I sat silently in a corner, my back against the whiteness of the walls, she looked very small and shriveled as a leaf that had fallen from the mango tree her firstborn son had planted in her garden.

The hushed sobbing of the crowd. The soft rustling of clothes being smoothed down and brushed. The anxious patting of the bare and naked feet, as the people in the room shifted their weight—left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot. The holding of breaths. The passing of time. Her breathing slowly fading away. Silence. Her youngest daughter’s horrified wail followed by her youngest son’s urgent warning, “Stop it, stop it. Do not cry.” Her husband’s nervous laugh as he tried to crawl out of the room. These were the sounds that pulsed in the room as my heart thumped heavily in my chest.

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