Poetry by | September 25, 2016

She went to walk to the other end of the stage
Her feet rises one after the other, as if jumping,
When she reaches the other edge, she raises her arms and stands a while

She did this for many times; sometimes running,
sometimes walking. Her eyes sometimes search
she is looking for something;
There is a little girl who came with her mother

First, the wave of prayer. “Santa Maria
Madre de Dios rega por nosotros…”
It is seconded by her feet: pak pak pak pak

“…pecadores ahora y hasta para cuando…”
No one complains, no one thinks wrong of it
even if everyone sits, kneeling, praying
The Holy Virgin sits on the table

Three: A little girl’s laughter

Floraime is a Basileña who majored in Literature, Linguistics, and Language Teaching at the Iligan Institute of Technology of the Mindanao State University. She is currently teaching subjects on Literary and Language Studies in the same university. The poem “Santifica” is the first Chabacano literary piece ever published in Dagmay. “Sanctify” is the approximation of the meaning in the Chabacano language, and not the translation, as indicated by the author herself.

Gatsby Wears Levi’s (Part 1)

Nonfiction by | September 25, 2016

My dad loves expensive clothing brands. He bought his first pair of Levi’s when he got his first pay.

This, people would assume, stemmed from the lack of luxury he experienced during his childhood. But there is more to it than just that. He would rather own just one pair of Levi’s than a dozen low quality jeans.

Dipolog, 1970

When he was only fourteen years old, my dad became the head of his family. Two successive deaths made him the caretaker of his mother and three younger siblings. His father (Jose), according to my lola, was stabbed multiple times by at least ten men because he wanted to build what could have been the first copra mill in their town. Later on, I’d learn that these men were members of the National People’s Army. Later on, I’d also learn that it was because lolo Jose left a woman heartbroken (having learned that he was already married to my lola), and that woman happened to be the sister of the NPA’s commander.

His eldest brother, Manolito, too young and too brave, joined the military to avenge their father only to be killed a month after. Both their deaths were accounted to the same rebel group.

Dad grew up in a town where relatives treated other members based on their status and the material things they own. Dad and his siblings ranked at the bottom because they wore nothing but relief clothes (relip or ukay) that lola had bought from the market. These clothes never fit them right. These were always too big and their color too pale, opposite to their cousins who were lavished with clothes from Dubai.

Dad’s sisters did the laundry. And the contrast of their clothes was obvious: while their cousins’ shirts hanged outstretched and clipped tightly to the rope, theirs were dumped in clumps and stacked sloppy on top of each bamboo pole.

I thought my dad, as a kid, surely must have complained about things. I was wrong.

Dad accepted his worn-out clothes and tattered childhood. He did not complain when they had to eat left-over food in the dirty kitchen, separated from their cousins. He explained to his younger siblings why they had to be really early for school and why they had to exchange torn pairs of slippers along the way.

But all these stories of misfortunes never came directly from dad.

I gathered them during our frequent November trips to his hometown in Dipolog City. These stories were dried divided seeds I loved to collect because then they were too tragic to be real. Because then they were only stories to pass while I sat on the bamboo floor full of lanzones and black ants that marched endlessly with time.

It was one of those harvest seasons when there were too many fruits and too many baskets to fill my afternoons. While my two younger brothers were busy helping the hired harvesters, learning first-hand the meaning of hard labour, I questioned my lola with the ardor of a young folklorist gathering what for me were distant stories.

Lola addressed these questions with snippets from her past. She began with the young and handsome Jose whom she never met until their wedding day. The man who turned out to be the father of her five children: Manolito, Leonardo, Ricardo, Rebecca, and Nemesia. The only husband she would take. Lola never lingered on drama, so no matter how sad the piece of story was, it would appear like a comedy, if not, a story of hope for me.

On our drive back to Cagayan de Oro City, my dad was surprised when I relayed some of these stories. While my mom calculated our time of arrival (and whether we should stop by to grab dinner in Iligan) and my two younger brothers munched their way through the big box of fruits on board, I confessed how I managed to know that when they were teenagers, my dad and uncle joined a local cult (more like a gang) that claimed immortality by eating shards of glass, and how a minute close to doing the most stupid decision in their lives, they were saved by my lola’s maniacal beating.

Or the time when my dad patiently squatted near the rice thresher, he gathered the bitter bran that was left for their meal, until one rice shell went inside his eye. Lola cried and blew hard to remove the shell that had already sunk its way inside dad’s eye. She begged God to spare my dad from blindness, her clayed fingers trembling while repeating the sign of the cross. God heard her and she became a devoted Christian.

A small scar on my father’s left eye is the only remembrance of that day.

Marawi, 1980

But many invisible scars followed.

The only redemption he considered was to enter college and graduate as an engineer. He passed as a full-time scholar of Mindanao State University. He also had to leave his family. He kept a clear vision of the future he dreamt of: to be established and to never go back to where he was. He studied and worked hard to get as far as he could from poverty.

He was Gatsby before I even met Fitzgerald in my under graduate literature class. But like Gatsby, my dad had his fair share of secrets, too.

And secrets were the currency of the silenced 70s.

Marcos still ruled the country even if the roaring 80s already began. Dad’s future, along with the many, did not count much. Freedom was the only thing that mattered. Together with his fellow MSU-ans, dad joined the academic boycotts and learned life’s lessons outside the classroom. Many were with him in the streets. Finally, Cory won.

And Dad lost his scholarship.

The expired revolutionary Engineering major, would either pay his full tuition and continue his academics or go back to Katipunan, his hometown, and sow the field. With the pressure of his own home hanging from his oxen shoulders, my dad stood facing the stillness of Lake Lanao, and was made aware that the golf course was no different from his family’s land. The same land that produced copra.

I didn’t expect that more than two decades later, I would be standing on a rooftop in one of Cebu’s dormitories with the same desperation. Having been fired from my first job, I was alone with nothing left in my account but the senseless pride of leaving home. The stillness of the city’s landscape was suffocating.

So was the fog that covered the pine trees of Marawi, enchanting young minds to dream of the future. A future that dad did not want to give up.

Dad had to double his work load to pay for his tuition. He was accepted to work part-time as a dishwasher at a dormitory. It was managed by an agriculture professor who was known for his four single Ilokana daughters. The eldest of the four was mom.

Dad was blessed with three things: brain, spirit, and charm. The third made him popular with the tenants, most especially with the ladies. It did not take long before he started dating mom. Mom, then a Filipino education major, not only found a boyfriend, but also a private Math tutor. Dad found his reason.

There was, however, the obvious gap in their status. Mom was a Valdez after all. Her family owned the lands that they farmed. Dad’s only property was the copra mill that was never realized. Their relationship was branded the Shawee-Gabby love team and personified Sharon Cuneta’s famous 80s song Tubig at Langis.

But dad had already decided to marry my mother.’

Christine Faith Valdez Gumalal teaches literature at Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan. She was a fellow for creative nonfiction at the 2016 Silliman University National Writers Workshop.


Poetry by | September 25, 2016

Ya anda le kamina para na otro punta del entablado
Ta alsa alsa un pies acaba el su otro, como ta brinca brinca,
Llega otro lao, ya alsa le su maga braso y ya para un rato
antes le abaha na jutay escalera del entablado

Ya hace ste ele por cuanto vezes; tiene vez ta kore,
tiene vez, ta camina. Su ohos tiene vez ta mira mira
na areredor, como tiene kosa ta anda busca;
Tiene jutay mujer ya anda sigui con su nana

Una, el avenida del reso. “Santa Maria
Madre de Dios rega por nosotros…”
Ta segunda su maga pies: pak pak pak pak

“…pecadores ahora y hasta para cuando…”
No hay quien ta reklama, hende ta pensa malo
masquin sila todo ta sinta, hinca, y ta resa
El santissima virgen cintao lang alya na mesa

Tres: Risas del jutay bata mujer.

Floraime is a Basileña who majored in Literature, Linguistics, and Language Teaching at the Iligan Institute of Technology of the Mindanao State University. She is currently teaching subjects on Literary and Language Studies in the same university. The poem “Santifica” is the first Chabacano literary piece ever published in Dagmay. “Sanctify” is the approximation of the meaning in the Chabacano language, and not the translation, as indicated by the author herself. You may find the English translation of this poem here.

The Story of Lake Mainit

Poetry by | September 18, 2016

The virgin forest
The rain forest
The orchids of the forest
The gold and silver of the forest
The unending music of the sky
The waltz of clouds
The rolling hills of clouds
The roaring thunder,
The sparkling lightning
The heaven of silence
The beautiful sleeping lady
White dress embroidered design
A very long hair
A perfect clothing
Adored with silver
The chant of the wind
The cascades of falls
The hiss of the leaves
The whispers of the river
The kiss of the dust
The touch of the branch
The hug of the air
The eyes of the mountain
Continue reading The Story of Lake Mainit


Fiction by | September 18, 2016

Tahimik kong tinanggap ang mga pangaral ni Lola kahit na gusto nang sumabog ng dibdib ko sa pagpipigil na masagot siya.

“Hindi ko naman napapabayaan ang pag-aaral ko, ‘La,” ngali-ngali kong isagot na ang tanging dahilan lang ng pagtitimpi ko ay ang pananahimik sa tabi ng Tatay ko.

Isa pang dumagdagdag sa pag-iksi ng pisi ko ang kuya kong kararating lang mula Maynila. Panay ang gatong at sulsol kay Lola na nagbanta pang tatawag sa kapatid naming nasa America na at sa ilan pang nasa Maynila.

Tinapunan ko ng tingin ang Tatay ko na hindi kumikibo sa panggigisa ni Lola sa akin at kausap na ngayon ang aking Tiyo. Parang tinarakan ang dibdib ko sa kawalan niya ng atensyon sa ginagawa sa akin. Mabilis kong inalis ang tingin sa kanya at nadaanan naman ng aking mga mata ang dalawa kong pinsan na bakas ang yabang sa mga mukha. Napatiim-bagang ako at inis na ikinuyom ang mga kamay ko.

“At sa inyo pa talaga ako ikinumpara! Eh mas mahirap naman mga lessons naming kaysa sa inyo!” bulyaw ko sa aking isip nang sumilay ang nakakalokong ngisi sa kanilang mga labi. “Pusang gala! Class A ako at nakikipag-kompetensya sa mga ka-lebel ng utak ko! Naging top lang kayo sa class section na Class B at C. Anak ng pusang gala! Matalino na yun?” Pagraragasa ng isip ko at isang irap ang ibinato ko sa kanila nang hindi nila nalalaman.

Continue reading Pa

The Third Waterfall

Poetry by | September 11, 2016

Her brute force rattles you
To the core, even from a distance.
She drops with such heaviness,
Such strength, that she sends spray
Back up the air, higher than her,
Ramming the forested slopes around
With her rumble, causing leaves
To tremble, your heart to flutter.

The most beautiful is the most
Terrifying, you tell yourself, humbled
By your smallness, by the mortality
Of your body. You stand still
Before her, and in mere minutes—
In your ears and eyes, her roar lowers
To a murmur, her fall slows
To a flow. She becomes something
Whose power you can harness,
Whose beauty you can sell.

Beasts stalk their prey, and before
They devour it, they pray.

Lake Sebu, South Cotabato
September 2016

Jude Ortega is from Sultan Kudarat Province. He was a fellow for fiction at the 2016 UP National Writers Workshop.

Tungang Gabii sa Divisoria

Poetry by | September 11, 2016

(Alang kang Krishna Mamoko)

Nibiya na ang usa ka kamot sa orasan.
Lagmit nagduka kon kinsa ma’y naniid nato
samtang nagbarog ta sa eskina. Kandado na

ang mga tindahan sama sa atong kahilom.
Ang salin sa kainit sa imong kamot
akong gikuptan samtang gapaabot
sa imong tagad, apan sama sa mga lampara

sa Divisoria, kapundiron imong mga mata.
Unta, mahabwa na ang tanang buot ipadayag
nga nadan-ok pa sa tutonlan.

Ug sama sa kawatan, kalit lang moikyas
hangtod ulahi na ang kahiamgo dungan
sa pagkahanaw unya sa tanan natong
gibahandi. Wala gihapon ta’y imik.

Wala’y tingog gawas sa minghoy nga awit
sa radyo dihang gipasakay tika’g taxi hangtod
nahabilin ko ug ang akong anino nadum-ok

duol sa bata nga gahithit og rugby. Nagpadayon
ang kagabhion. Giwitik ko ang sigarilyo
ug gisakmit ang abo duyog sa panghupaw,
nisakdap sa dalan nga taas

ang kadulom. Bugtong saksi ang buwan
niining tanan sa wala pa hingpit
nga gitukob sa gabusdik nga dag-om.

Mark “Ton” Daposala was born and raised in Cagayan de Oro City. His works have been published in Bisaya Magasin and Kabisdak. Ton now works as a faculty at Humanities and English Department of Capitol University. He’s also a member of CDO writers bloc, Bathalad-Mindanao, and NAGMAC.

Tablea Tales, Part 2

Nonfiction by | September 11, 2016

Tablea Tales, Part 1

I was 19 when I first experienced harvesting cacao fruits with my father. I realized it was my father’s first time to pluck cacao fruits off the tree as well. He was surprised how difficult it was to remove the fruits from their twigs. We discovered that the fruits were so attached with the tree that they just dry there hanging on the twig and only fall down when they were entirely black. The tree looked grim with all the hanging black, rotten cacaos. We plucked them off and threw them on the ground. It was as hard to remove as the fresh fruits.

My father rarely talked when we started harvesting and collecting the ripe cacao fruits. The only times he talked was when he would tell me to pick up the fruit that fell on the ground and put it on the huge plastic bag I was holding.  I was used to having imported chocolates in golden foils handed to me by my father when he would come home from work abroad. And after years of struggling overseas, here was my father with me in our backyard, harvesting yellowish cacao to add to the dozen I already had in my bag.

When I was a kid, I never wanted anything else but the chocolates father brought home almost every year. It didn’t matter then whether he was home for Christmas or not. We grew used to it. We grew used to having chocolates as a consolation for his long absence. But now as I was plucking off cacao with him, I realized I wanted him more than all the creamy, bitter-sweet chocolates combined. He had been away for years and I realized, as his calloused hands were struggling to pluck off some ripe cacao fruit, that there was nothing more beautiful than this moment.

Continue reading Tablea Tales, Part 2

The Song of Kagan, the Song of Unity

Poetry by | September 4, 2016

Bayok ng Kagan, Bayok ng Kakaysa (Original Kagan)

This is a call for everyone
Whose spirits will soon taste death
Rich and poor, you must remember
So your faith may increase.

This is to wake those sleeping souls
In a hopeful remembrance of their kin.
Cut not your ties
For Allah forbids it.

Empty the souls from enmity.
Stand for unity.
Stand for faith.
So you may fulfill our noble pledge
To Allahu Ta’ala.

Follow His commands.
And sow the unity in your heart
While it still beats.

English translation by Mohammad Nassefh R. Macla

Abdul Khaliq Tayongotong is a Kaagan-native from Lupon, Davao Oriental. He is currently taking up Bachelor of Education and Islamic Studies in the Davao Regional Arabic Academy, Inc. The poem Bayok ng Kagan, Bayok ng Kakaysa is originally a Kagan song, composed and sung by the author.

Bayok ng Kagan, Bayok ng Kakaysa

Poetry by | September 4, 2016

The Song of Kagan, the Song of Unity (English Translation)

Yani yang pagpasampay sang kariko natun
Na yaga-onawa da yang kamatay
Awnan aw miskinan, wajib na taduman
Sopaya magdogang yang iman ta.

Yani na pagpokaw sang yamatog na ginawa
Gaw na makatadum sang kawaris nan.
Di ta pagpotokon yang pamagutan ta,
Sabap pyaga-haram inyan ng Kadunan ta.

Tanakun natun sakit sang ginawa ta.
Paindug ta yang kakaysa.
Tabangan ta paglindog sang agama.
Untak matorid yang ongaya ta
Sang Kadunan ta.

Dayt na inangun ta uno na pyagasugo Nan.
Aw lilindug ta sang ginawa ta
Nang wa pa yang kamatay.

Abdul Khaliq Tayongotong is a Kaagan-native from Lupon, Davao Oriental. He is currently taking up Bachelor of Education and Islamic Studies in the Davao Regional Arabic Academy, Inc. The poem Bayok ng Kagan, Bayok ng Kakaysa is originally a Kagan song, composed and sung by the author.