Amirah

Fiction by | October 9, 2016

My neighbors are throwing sharp words at each other, piercing the wall that separates us. Very Manila, I tell myself. Sleep is becoming elusive the past days. The least I need are loud people crudely airing their dirty laundry at 1:30 in the morning while I prepare to do my Tahajjud. At this time at home in the province, everyone is halfway finished with individual supplications–no commotions in the neighborhood at all. After the prayer they would go eat the food that is already served in abundance. I glance at the table my househelp made.

Ya Allah, please bestow upon my parents a longer, healthier life. Please grant us a harmonious relationship within our family and relatives. Ameen ya Rabbul alameen.

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Pa

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.

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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)

Does It Matter What the Dead Think? (Part 1)

Fiction by | July 17, 2016

Her hand still holds the telephone handset. The sound of it dropping onto its base seemed like a closing door, banging and locking her into her guilt and uselessness. The clear blue skies outside her window in Armidale seemed to have turned overcast like the grey skies of her General Santos town. She cups her mouth as she lowers herself onto the floor and feels the tears roll down her cheeks. Her mother’s cry on the phone keeps playing in her mind.

Inday, ulahi na ang tanan. It was too late for all of us. We tried, but Nene didn’t make it to the hospital.” The old lady’s controlled voice showed the sincerity of their endeavors to save her sister. “We could have saved her if we’ve known beforehand.”

Melissa, or Inday to her family in Gensan, knows that her sister and her sister’s baby could have been saved had her sister been admitted to the lying-in clinic. There, midwives would have been able to determine her state of pregnancy earlier and prescribe a caesarian procedure at the hospital. Melissa had insisted that giving birth at home with the assistance of a midwife would be okay. This is what most women do in the Philippines. Nene agreed.

Continue reading Does It Matter What the Dead Think? (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.

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Annie

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

I Want to Surprise My Parents

Fiction by | March 20, 2016

I want to surprise my parents.

It is my nineteenth birthday and I want it to be unforgettable: the type that neighbors talk about during their children’s graduation parties and whispered after Sunday masses. After all, I am a year closer to full independence and grown-ups love talking about mature topics like that.

Our family never celebrates birthdays. I cannot blame them. It is unnecessarily expensive and a family of six can barely feed itself, cannot afford the luxuries that only the privileged enjoy. But it left a gaping, blank hole in my childhood. I never got to experience the awkward stares from all my friends and family as they chant in chorus the familiar “Happy Birthday” song. I never got to blow out candles for wishes or to take the first slice of that cake. I never received presents. So this year, I want to throw a surprise party that will not trouble my parents.

This is not the first time I try to make my parents happy. There have been several attempts but they always find out about my plans. Always. I am thinking it is because of my brother who likes to sneak around and check my phone to see what I talk about with my friends. Some of those text messages include my scheming. My brother also likes to be the best son, which is probably the only motivation he needs to tell me off. I have been scolded for my scheming, of course. My parents do not know how to handle those kinds of seedy situations and I pride myself for being the creative kid that thinks outside of the box.

This year, I plan to do things correctly. My parents have been fighting a lot lately because of the finances. All my other siblings have already graduated college with flying colors while I have been recklessly spending money because I cannot make up my mind. I have been to three different colleges and tried five courses, but they never felt right. These constant shifts added that to all the debt we have accumulated over the years. They try to be understanding but the wrinkles on their faces have increased and there are more patches of gray on their heads. They are growing older, and soon, they will not be able to support me anymore. I feel horrible for bringing them so much trouble, so I thought maybe a surprise could cheer them up to the point where they can forget their problems. Hopefully, this will fix things.

So far, the plan is going well. I am home alone so everything is going smoothly. My family will be home from the mall in a while and all is set. Just above the table, I hung a banner. I place seats around the living room. One chair is in the middle right below our low-hanging chandelier. This is where the surprise comes in.

I hear them arriving by the gate, along with the happy banter between my siblings. I am so glad they came home in a good mood. They will definitely feel better after they see what I have in store for them.

As my father unlocks the padlock, I climb up the chair propped in the middle of the room and wrap the noose tied from the chandelier to my neck. I tighten it and I can hear my father struggling with the gate. Good, gives me more time. When they get in, they will be spending ten more minutes outside to play with the dogs.

I take one final look at the banner I made myself, the stinging bold “I’M SORRY” hastily written with black paint. Soon, father finally undoes the lock. I breathe out all the air in my lungs and without further deliberation, kicked the chair aside.


Nal Andrea Jalando-on is from Koronadal, South Cotabato and sometimes writes in Hiligaynon. She is a former student of Philippine Women’s College of Davao.

Of Books and Dreams

Fiction by | March 20, 2016

I always find the time to read a book before going to bed. Sometimes I dream about that book, especially when I fall asleep while reading it. Last night I had read some chapters of a book on Italian grammar, and before I knew it I was already dreaming of running for my life, being chased by some possessive Italian pronouns.

Luckily I outran them, and I eventually came across a bar called Second Conjugation. Indeed, inside, some irregular Italian verbs were having a good time.

“Hey, you’re new here,” one of them said. “What are you?”

Since I was in an Italian grammar book, I needed to blend in. For a few seconds I thought of a plausible reply, and I came up with this: “I’m a singular, masculine Italian noun.”

“You don’t look like it, but well, you’re in the right place,” he said. “This is a singles bar. See those pretty nouns out there? There are a lot of them here. But here’s the catch: it’s hard to tell whether they are masculine or feminine.”

“It’s not that hard, is it?” I said. “We just need to know their final letters, right? -o for the guys, -a for the ladies.”

“Obviously, you haven’t met ‘colera’ and ‘mano,’ il mio amico.” He laughed.

“‘Mano’ is feminine?” I asked.

He said yes and pointed out why “mano,” or “hand” in English, is always feminine: “You know, when you are all alone, your hand is your girlfriend. If you know what I mean.”

I made a nervous laugh. To regain my composure, I said: “Yeah, Italian is a crazy language. We have female poems but male sonnets.”

He didn’t laugh. I was now more nervous. What am I doing here, I thought, talking to a group of irregular Italian verbs? What if they found out I’m not really an Italian noun? I slowly motioned to go out, but the two of them, “sedere” and “simanere,” asked me to sit and remain.

“It’s my pleasure. But as a singular, masculine Italian noun,” I said, in an attempt to be confident and witty, “I have some declension and possession to do. You know, I would like to spend time with you, but, you know, for now, I should decline—to possess that singular, feminine Italian noun out there.” I grinned and, with a wink, added: “If you know what I mean.”

They all turned their faces towards me as if I said something wrong. Their faces turned red. Some of them stood up, clenching their fists. Obviously, the Italian irregular verbs had a change in mood. It was also tense. To get my way out of this impending trouble, I immediately ran outside—but only to be chased again by the possessive Italian pronouns, which were still in pursuit of me.

I cannot remember what exactly happened afterwards, except that I awoke to the sound of the alarm clock, the book on Italian grammar in hand. On page 16, on the possessive case of nouns, the book says: “Italian nouns are not declined. Possession is denoted by the preposition ‘di.’”


Jade Mark B. Capiñanes is an AB English student of Mindanao State University-General Santos City. He is fascinated with books, dreams, and their connection with reality.

 

Dayang-Dayang

Fiction by | March 6, 2016

(A re-imagination of Ibrahim Jubaira’s “Blue Blood of the Big Astana”)

I.

Although the heart can no longer remember, the mind can always recall. The mind can always recall, for there are always things to remember: joyful days of privileged childhood; playing tag along the seashore; learning to love, lose, and everything in between. So I suppose you remember me, Jaafar.

The day of your arrival caused quite a stir in the astana. I was told that we were expecting someone who was supposed to take care of me. No one could have prepared me for you, five year-old Jaafar. You were made to live with us. We were around the same age back then. I didn’t know I could be looked after by someone who probably had the same wants and needs as I did.

From my bedroom window, I watched your Babo wipe snot from your harelip. She really loves you, noh? She treats you as if you were her own. I was still watching you hug your Babo with your little arms when Amboh knocked on my door. She held my hand as we descended the stairs. It was time to go down and meet our newest tenant, five year-old Jaafar.

“Why are you like that?”

You seemed taken aback by my question. I could not blame you. But your harelip still held my attention. I have never seen a person with such deformity before. I could not stop staring at it.

“What happened to you?”

Your Babo explained how you got your harelip. My chest tightened with guilt by the time she was done. I did not know how such accidents could happen, and how much it affected an unborn baby. Still, I could not hold my flinch back when you tried to kiss my hand.

Despite the harelip, you were a good servant, Jaafar. You obeyed every single order without hesitation. Appah and Amboh only had good words for you whenever your Babo came to visit. But you wet your mat almost every night. I never did such a thing, and you were born one Ramadan before I was. You cannot blame me for laughing whenever your mat gets soaked after another night of failing to hold your pee in.

You were everywhere, Jaafar. I did not want any other playmates. They did not have a harelip like you did. There were times when I could not tell whether you were laughing or crying. I liked to play with you to see how your harelip reacted to the things I did. You even laughed along with me, even if you knew you were laughing at yourself.

I loved bringing you with me to my Mohammedan classes. My classmates, much like me, also found your harelip interesting. We tell you to do the most mundane stuff, like talk, or laugh, or eat, and your harelip became our class clown.

“Dayang-Dayang, do you need me to do anything else?”

“Jaafar, smile for them,” and you would gladly do whatever I asked you to.

Uyyy! Jaafar has a crush on Dayang-Dayang!”

“Dayang-Dayang has a harelipped boyfriend!”

“Do you like him too, Dayang-Dayang?”

These jokes from my classmates brewed something in you, Jaafar. I could tell. You liked it when we swam together in the sea. Afterwards, you washed my hair and rubbed my back, even if you did not need to. You took Goro’s beatings originally intended for me. I never asked you to. You know I would never do all these things for anyone, ever.

You were at your lowest point when your Babo died. I did not know how I was supposed to treat you during that time.

“I’m all right, Dayang-Dayang. I just want to be alone,” was what you would say whenever I would ask you to go to the beach and swim with me.

So I left you alone, Jaafar. But I overheard your conversation with my Appah. He was wondering why you refused my offer to visit the beach, like we often did.

“No one will love me like my Babo did, Pateyk.”

 

II.

We grew up together, Jaafar. You witnessed how I bloomed into a young teenager. I witnessed how you grew into a fine, young man. Your harelip stayed with you, even if everyone eventually grew used to it. The trips to the beach stayed, but the routine we have previously established went away with our innocence. During a particular time at the beach, you muttered a question nervously.

“Would you like me to rub your back or wash your hair, Dayang-Dayang?” I raised an eyebrow at you.

“Are you out of your mind, Jaafar?”

That day was the first and only time I left the beach alone. The days that followed were spent pretending that never happened. Things were back to normal after that. I never did learn to hold my laughter in during your attempts to capture my attention with your infamous harelip.

My other friends were starting to get married, one by one. Amboh hinted at arranging my marriage to a young Datu from Bonbon soon enough. I could not object. I did not know if I wanted to object. After all, my life was planned out before I was even born, and I could not ask for anything more. Appah and Amboh never deprived me from the luxuries they could offer. I had everything I needed and I was given anything I wanted.

“Do I deserve any of this, Jaafar?”

You looked at me, and your harelip trembled slightly as you raised your hand to touch my face.

“Don’t ever let anyone think you don’t deserve the world, my Dayang-Dayang.”

Appah arranged for a huge dinner to introduce me to my husband-to-be. I did not dislike him, but I did not like him either. The real issue was I did not know a thing about him. But I had to admit, the young Datu’s physical appearance did not hurt.

Appah wanted us to get married as soon as possible. The days that followed our first meeting were spent for pre-wedding flurries. The only thing I had to do was to fit what I had to wear for the occasion. Everything else was up to Amboh and Appah.

I should not complain. I had every reason not to. I am one of the most blessed daughters in the world. But I did not want to be away from my parents. I was not ready to leave the big astana behind. All my life, I was with people I trusted. Why am I being forced to marry a stranger?

But there I was, waiting for my life to take that terrifying leap it won’t recover from.

The wedding day came two weeks after we met. Datu Muramuraan knew so many people, I can hardly keep count. So that was what the astana extension was for. Appah wanted our astana to accommodate these people who came to celebrate the union of two strangers in the name of marriage.

I caught you watching us, Jaafar. Your harelipped smile made me stifle a laugh in the middle of the supposedly sacred ceremony. That little exchange was my favorite memory during that night.

 

III.

On our first night as a married couple, I forced myself to be intimate with Muramuraan.

“Dayang-Dayang, I will take care of you.”

I let him take care of me.

I let him explore my innermost crevices.

I let him roam every part of me.

Years flew by. I have learned how to tend a family. Waking up meant another day of looking after the people I love the most. The time has come. Finally, I am being referred to as Amboh. My husband has been nothing but good to me. Together, we live a peaceful life in Bonbon with our beautiful children.

Amboh and Appah could not be happier. The astana buzzed with life whenever we come home to visit. My sons came to love the place we grew up in. Where were you, Jaafar?

“Dayang-Dayang, we couldn’t find Jaafar after your wedding,” Amboh answered me as she combed her fingers through my hair.

I could have made you come with us. You could have lived with us, Jaafar. You did not need to be away from me. I did not want to be away from you. I did not know how to live without you, harelipped Jaafar.

Visits to the astana became less frequent after things got hectic. My sons grew old enough to go to Mohammedan school. On weekdays, I had to wake up before anyone else did. I had to take a bath and prepare the things they needed for school. I cleaned the house up a bit. Afterwards, I had to cook breakfast for everyone. No, I did not have anyone to help me do all these. Life is so much different from the one I was used to. But I grew used to this one, too. The love from family I made with Muramuraan was enough to keep me going.

That is, until Muramuraan got arrested. Jaafar, I did not know life could get this cruel. He dragged Appah with him to a mess he insinuated. I did not know he was brave enough to rebel, Jaafar. I did not know he could risk the life we built together for something he was more passionate about. To top it all off, Amboh died after Appah got arrested with Muramuraan. Everyone has left me.

But I had to be brave, too. Not in the same way my husband was, but in my own way. My sons did not have anyone else to depend on. I would never, ever, let go of the most precious gems in my life.

Jaafar, I was thankful the day you decided to show up. I thought you were dead. I was finally starting to get used to not depending on anyone, Jaafar. My sons needed me, my sons had no one else but me. But when you showed up, I could not hold back my tears. How I missed that harelip!

“Oh, Jaafar!” I hugged you with all the days I forgot to remember you.

Catching up meant having to accept how much you have went on without me.

“I live in Kanagi now, Dayang-Dayang.”

“What are you doing here in Bonbon?”

“I’m here for business. Panglima Hussin has cows he wants to sell.”

I wanted to ask if you were married, Jaafar.

“I see you’re a landsman now, eh?”

“Why, if Dayang-Dayang can live unlike the old days, then I can, too,” you were chuckling.

I felt ashamed of where I stand now. I turned away from you as I felt tears brim my eyes. I am sorry for being rude, Jaafar. But you do not need to see me crying now.

“May I go now, Dayang-Dayang?” I could not do anything but hope you saw me nodding my head. The sound of your footsteps disappeared after a little while. I was certain you would never leave me, Jaafar. I was ready to welcome you back into my life.

But I do not deserve you. I have been nothing but horrible to you, and it is unfair of me to expect the opposite from you. But you must know that I could never forget you, Jaafar. You are still everywhere—you and that harelip of yours.


Emmylou Shayne L. Layog is a student of the Creative Writing program of the University of the Philippines Mindanao.

Tequila Sunrise

Fiction by | February 6, 2016

“Wa ko kasabot sa akong gibati,” akong gihunhong sa akong kaugalingon. Naglingkod ko sa tunga-tunga sa simbahan sa San Pedro. Wala kaayo ko gasimba o unsa. Wala gani ko naghunahuna nga muadto diria apan kalit ra ko nilingkod ug nagtan-aw sa mga pagbag-o sa sulod sa simbahan. Wa ko kasabot sa akong gibati. Ako na usab nahunahunaan. Nagtutok nalang ko sa suga sa luyo sa krus sa may altar. Ako nalang gilingaw akong kaugalingon sa kaanyag sa altar aron modugay akong paglingkod. Wala man pod koy laing gibuhat.

Lipay ba ko sa akong kinabuhi? Hangtod karon di nako mahunahunaan kon unsa ko kasuwerte isip usa ka indibidwal. Di man maingon nga pangit ko ug dili gyod kaayo ko hitsuraan. Wala man kaayo ko galisod sa kwarta kay makapangita man gyod ko ug paagi para makakuha ug ikagasto sa mga kinahanglanon nako. Utukan ko, kabalo ko. Madiskarte, alangan. Kontento? Dili. “Ang tao dili gyod makuntento,” ingon sa pari sa atubangan. Wa na nako mabantayi nga ning-apil na ko sa misa. Ug kay kabalo naman ko nga madugayan pa ni, ug wala koy interes mangalawat, nitindog ko ug nilakaw. Sakmit dayon sa cellphone aron ingnun naay nanawag. Para dili kayo ulaw.

Wa gihapon ko kasabot sa akong gibati. Naguol ko sa usa ka butang nga wala ko kabalo. Maayo nalang nakasabot ko gamay nga naguol ko. Naa koy sugdan sa paghunahuna unya. Ningbaktas napud ko nga walay destinasyon. Di ko sigurado asa ko padulong, basta magbaktas lang ko. “Sir, ikaw ra o naa kay kauban?” pangutana sa lalaki atubangan sa usa ka imnanan. Sosyalon siya nga imnanan sa Rizal. Kanang mahal ang ilimnun. Ningsulod ra ko dayon nga wala gitubag ang lalaki ug ningdiretso sa mismong bar. Gihatagan dayon ko og baso nga naay ice ug gipuno ni ug murag Tanduay pero dili mao ang humot. “Para sa imong bug-at nga gihunahuna sir. Sa imong kaguol. Libre nang whiskey sir basta mo-order pa ka og laing cocktails.” Ningtando ra ko ug ningisi. Plastic kaayo nga ngisi, kay kabalo ko nga wala ko nalipay karon. Ningtan-aw ra ko sa gipasalida sa ilang TV. Kataw-anan dapat siya nga salida apan wala jud ko nakangisi sa tanang pakatawa o panghitabo. Usa ka whiskey ug grape margarita na ko. Wala man nuon koy nahunahuna nga solusyon, o kinahanglan ba gyod ni sulusyonan nga kaguol. Ningbayad na ko og 300, sobra kaysa sa akong mga nainom, wa pay apil ang libreng whiskey. “Sir salamat sa sobra nga tip, huwat ra sir hatagan ta ka og pantiwas.” Nagandam siya ug duha ka shot glass ug nagduwa na sa iyang mga gamit. Gihatagan ko niya ug shot sa Daquiri daw. “Pampatulog sir, cheers.” Gisabyan ko niya og shot ato. Ningisi ra ko pagkahuman. Di na siya plastic. Ninglakaw nasad ko, apan karon kahibalo ko nga naa koy gusto adtuan.

 

Alas otso na katong nakasakay ko og barge padulong Samal. Ningpalit sa ko ug isa ka kaha nga sigarilyo sa Convi didto sa pantalan, human nisakay dayon kog habal-habal diretso sa may resort sa San Remigio. Pag-abot didto kay alas nuybe na kapin. Kasiplat kog usa ka motor didto sa may parking; basig panag-iya kini sa tag-iya o tigbantay didto. Mahuman og bayad sa entrance nilingkod ko dayon sa may lingkuranan atbang sa dagat ug nagsindi og yosi.

“Ikaw ra usa?”

Nalagpot ang yosi sa akong kakurat. Ningtando nalang ko ug nakatawa. Wa ko kasabot apan nahanaw kadali ang bug-at sa akong dughan. “Sorry brad,” ingon niya, apan nakatawa pod siya sa akonng kakurat. “Problemado ka no? Ikaw ra man isa.”

Ningtando ko utro ug nagdagkot usab og yosi. Ninglakaw siya dayon samtang gibilin ang cellphone sa akong tapad. Pagbalik niya kay nagdala siya og icebox. Dala kuha sa usa ka botelya sa Tequila. “Para sa atong mga problema ug aron mostorya ka, karon kay magkauban naman gyod tang duha, mag-inom ug storya nalang ta e.”

Nagstorya mi sa among mga problema. Nangatik ra ko sa tibuok panahon nagstorya mi. Wala man pud god ko kabalo unsa gyud akong problema. Mahuman sa problema kay puro na kinabuhi namong duha among giistoryahan. Namakak nasad ko. Mahumag hisgot kabahin sa among kinabuhi kay mga politiko nasad among naistoryahan, unya ang ideyolohiya sa NPA, ug ang relihiyon. Maayo nalang halos pareho ra ming duha ug tan-aw sa maong mga butang. Nahurot na namo ang sulod sa botelya apan murag wala gyod mi nahubog ato. Nagyosi nalang ming duha ug gihuwat ang paggawas sa adlaw. Gugma na among nastoryahan ato.

“Naa koy nabasahan ba. Kabalo ka ang halok daw bug-at na og pasabot, dili na siya palami lang, o para sa gugma lang. Usahay makahipos na sa mga butang nga kun-ot, sama sa kinabuhi,” ingon niya sako dungan tan-aw sa nagabag-o nga langit.

Ningtando ra ko kay hanap sa ako iya ginapasabot. Naglutaw na guro akong hunahuna tungod sa yosi, ilimnon, ug pinulaw namo. Katpng nakit-an na namo nga naa nay hayag sa kapunawpunawan, ningtindog ko ug niadto dapit sa may tubig. Kanang igo ra maigo sa dagat ako tiil kada bagnos ani sa baybay. Ningsabay siya.

Nitindog mi didto hangtod mihayag na gypd ang langit.

“Bakakon kayo ka.”

Nakalingi ko ug nakuratan sa iyang pag-ingon ato.

“Tan-awa, namakak gyud ka.”

Gigunitan niya akong kamot ug gibira ko kalit hangtod duol na kaayo amo mga nawong.

“Mokun-ot man god imong agtang inig mangatik ka.”

Gihalukan ko dayon niya ug wala ko kasabot ngano pod nga nibalos ko. Lami siya m-halok, ug wala ko namakak sa pagbalos sa iyang halok. Ningisi siya ug diretsong nilakaw padung sa among gamit, samtang ako nagpabiling gabarog.

“Bakakon pod ka. Wala may nahipos sa mga kun-ot sa akong kinabuhi,” akong ingon sa iya.

“Wala ko namakak. Tan-awa, taod-taod mahipos na nang kun-ot sa imung agtang.”

Nakangisi ko sa iyang giingon. Kanang tinood na ngisi. Samtang gasaka ang adlaw sa hilayong dapit, nawala akong kaguol. Bakakon lage siya, dungan kun-ot sa akong aping.


Reyl is a 5th year BS Architecture student from University of the Philippines Mindanao