Subay sa Tradisyon sa Tagay: Nganong Gipalabi ko ang pagsulat ginamit ang dila ni Lapulapu. Unang Bahin

Nonfiction by | June 26, 2016


Una sa tanan, I would like to thank Nagmac and Xavier University Department of English and Literature for giving me the opportunity to deliver a craft lecture on Binisaya Literature.

Sa dihang nadawat ko ang invitation for this event, wa ko kabalibad bisan tuod nga hagip-ot na kaayo ang panahon. Kana tungod kay mao gayoy akong dakong tinguha nga molipang ang writers community dinhi sa atong dapit.

Akong madumdoman nga niadtong naghinapos ang Dekada ’90, pipila lamang gayod ka mga magsusulat ang nagtikawtikaw sa Cagayan de Oro.

Sa HomeLife Magazine ug sa Philippines Free Press, ang regular contributor nga gikan sa Cagayan de Oro maorag si Arlene Yandug lamang ug ako. Ug kining duha ka magazine nga akong gihinganlan pulos na Anhing Wa Na!

Samtang sa Bisaya magasin, morag nag-inusara si Mario Batausa.

Apan kining atong gihimo nga writers workshop karon usa ka testamento nga nagpakita nga milipang ug nagalipang na gayod ang writers community sa Cagayan de Oro.

Continue reading Subay sa Tradisyon sa Tagay: Nganong Gipalabi ko ang pagsulat ginamit ang dila ni Lapulapu. Unang Bahin

Agua de Viuda

Poetry by | June 26, 2016

I forgive you
for teasing me I smell good—
fragrant like a viuda.
But I have not buried my husband,
nor do I want to.

The only viuda I knew was my grandmother,
who spent her days playing cards
with the neighbors, and died
two years later of heart failure
on grandfather’s birth anniversary.
A sweet ending, some might say.
But not for me.

Continue reading Agua de Viuda

Mahal kong Diyosa

Poetry by | June 19, 2016

Mahal kong Diyosa (Cebuano)

Matag gutlo ug tipik sa gutlo
nga nagalakat ang akong mga tudlo
sa hubo mong lawas gikan ulo hangtod tuhod,
migilok ang mga unod sa akong handurawan.
Naghinam ko nga nakuyawan, nagsud-ong
sa bililhong hiyas sa imong pagka babaye—
katahomang gitukib ug giawit sa mga baylan
latas sa daghanang kaliwatan.

Continue reading Mahal kong Diyosa

Fiction Making and History in the Era of the Selfie, Part 2

Nonfiction by | June 19, 2016

Fiction Making and History in the Era of the Selfie, Part 1

WHAT HAS CAUSED the monkey’s outrage upon hearing this inadung? Indeed, the inadung has aroused the monkey’s empathy, he has seen himself in it—and that is really the goal of every writer, is it not? Unfortunately, however, the monkey’s empathy is not of an introspective, but of a possessive kind. “This is about me and no one else, least of all about humankind. And I do not like how it reflects my character.”

To understand literature as the portrayal of ourselves as human seems to require two things: It calls for the examination of diverse cultures, and it calls for introspection (i.e., meditating on oneself as an exemplar of the human race); and these are part of the same mental act, a matter of asking, “What would it be like to be who-I-am-not?”

Continue reading Fiction Making and History in the Era of the Selfie, Part 2

Fiction Making and History in the Era of the Selfie, Part 1

Nonfiction by | June 12, 2016

I am told that I have all of 15 minutes to deliver my spiel, so I will self-indulge by sharing with you a Subanon masterpiece—a whole epic, including its contextual frame and a considerable amount of my commentary on it—all of which I will squeeze into 15 minutes.

First the narrative frame, before the epic itself:

A gutung ‘monkey’ was looking for someone with whom to share a jar of gasi ‘rice wine’, which he was carrying on his shoulder—in exchange for an inadung, which is the Subanon epic. He met a babuy, who assured him it could sing the inadung. So they drank wine, and when it was time for the pig to sing the inadung, naturally all that came out of its mouth was the squealing of a pig. What did he expect?

So then, when the monkey next met an usá, who said it could sing the inadung, the monkey was a bit more suspicious and had to ask, “Can you really sing the inadung?” The deer assured him yes, and so they drank the wine. But when the usá began to sing, what came out of its mouth was its natural deer squeak.

Next, came the lebuyu ‘chicken’, which could only crow—and only after it had drank some of the monkey’s wine.

Continue reading Fiction Making and History in the Era of the Selfie, Part 1

Return to the Princely Home

Fiction by | May 29, 2016

I hurriedly penned the highly peculiar contract as instructed by the Prince. As experienced a scribe I was, I still have difficulties in creating hurried royal contracts especially something as odd as this one. The terms the Prince specified were downright out-of-this-world. One Kahel Mayari is tasked to maintain the stars and the weathers on the Prince’s absence as well as oversee the ascension of the new Babaylan along the orders of the Great Bakunawa, in return he shall have access on the Prince’s archives for an hour. One Delfin Magnos is to keep the search of the lost son, ensure his death and continue the neutralization efforts against the forces of darkness to which he shall be rewarded the barren island of Munting Lupa on the far east of the continent. And the last was for the famed General Sebastian Ramosa, who is to ensure proper ascension, education and upbringing or the rightful heir, whoever he may be, in the event of the Prince’s untimely demise. For this service, the general shall have his debts cleared.

It was three in the morning when the Prince called for me at his balcony. He was having breakfast with three men of noble countenance. One looked sickly wearing a black toga. He had bloodshot eyes and a long nose. The General, I knew from his portraits. He seemed to be the oldest in the group. He had salt and peppered beard and was wearing his best uniform. The third was a young man. He was tall and had long hair. His eyes had a tint of bright orange. There were no other words to describe him except for beautiful. Even the way he moved was noticeably graceful and silent.

I took a deep bow and presented the contract to the Prince. He took the contract, wore his spectacles and began reviewing the contents.

Continue reading Return to the Princely Home


Fiction by | May 22, 2016

I stepped out the front porch and felt the cold autumn air, and shivered in my coat. I placed my hands inside the coat’s pockets and started walking down the sidewalk. I took a turn and went inside a coffee shop, the smell of roasted coffee beans filled the air and I let out a smile.

I waved at Bob who was working behind the counter, then sat on my favorite seat at the very edge of the cozy place, away from the crowd. I looked out the small window beside me and sighed. I felt a presence, I looked up and she asked, “What would it be today sir?” She asked with a cheerful smile.

“Black,” I replied glumly.

“Do you want anything with that?” she asked.
“If I wanted anything else I would have said so,” I replied irritated. Today was not my day.

She giggled and didn’t mind my grumpiness. I looked at her with a raised eyebrow. “Your order will be in a minute,” she said with a sweet smile and left.

My coffee came within less than a minute, served by the same waitress who’d experienced my unpleasant mood.

She was about to leave in order to attend to another costumer when I decided I needed to give her an apology. I may be a jerk but not a bastard of a jerk.

“I’m sorry about earlier.” As those words stumbled out my mouth, it tasted more bitter than my black coffee. She giggled again and smiled her sweet smile. “It’s no big deal sir,” she replied and left.

Continue reading Annie


Poetry by | May 22, 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 22, 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.