On Separation

Poetry by | March 12, 2017

Your parting kiss fell
like a mote of dust leaving
a bruise in my heart.

~ ~ ~
I still dare not move
the empty cup of coffee
you marked with your lips.

~ ~ ~
Her fragrance lingers—
dancing in the room, bottled
by the falling rain.

~ ~ ~
Years on, I’d still flinch
from hearing the song she sang
on the night we met.

~ ~ ~
A room full of stillness

Like volumes upon volumes of books—our words,
the ones we left unsaid—in a beautiful, lost library.


Gabriel is a graduate of UP Mindanao’s Creative Writing Program. He currently works as a web content writer.


 

Water Lilies of Tukanalipao

Poetry by | March 5, 2017

Under lilies’ round leaves
He hides
From bullets racing,
Left and right.

His pistol
Firm in his fist. The fiendish
Water stifles his breath.

The sun slowly ascends
Despite a spoilt slumber.
He rises

From the refuge
Of the river,
Witnessing fallen,
Armored comrades.

A revengeful morning!

In the mosque, he shoots
Presumed foes. Four
Defenseless carcasses
Floating
In their blood.

The water
Lilies in the river
Unmoving, but living.


Nassefh Macla is a Kaagan-Moro from Panabo City, Davao del Norte. He is a Creative Writing graduate from University of the Philippines Mindanao. This is in commemoration of the January 25, 2015 Mamasapano incident.


 

Tilamsik ng Dugo

Play by | March 5, 2017

(Unang Bahagi)

Tagpo: Isang lugar sa Mindanao

Mga Tauhan:

John: sundalo, may asawa.

Elaine: asawa ni John.

Abdul-Malik: nagnanais sumapi sa rebolusyon, may asawa ‘t anak.

Noraisa: asawa ni Abdul-Malik.

Farida: rebolusyonaryo, pangalawang asawa ni Abdul-Malik
(Magbubukas ang dula sa pamamagitan ng pagpapakita ng mga magsisiganap sa anyong pagdarasal – Muslim at hindi Muslim.)

KORO: Nanunuot sa kalamnan ang lamig ng hanging dumadampi sa pisngi lalo na sa may mga buhanginan sa isang isla ng Mindanao. Tumatarak, sumusugat ang mga kutsilyong mandi’y hawak ng dilim na bumabalot sa naghuhumiyaw na katahimikan ng lupa. Sumisirit ang sariwang dugong may mga katagang sumasabay sa pagbulwak ng mapulang likido. Binabaybay nito at niyayakap ang mga katotohanang pilit ikinukubli sa likod ng mga hungkag na pangarap. Ang dugo ay nananambitan, naghihinagpis, nanunumbat, humihiyaw. Ang bugso ng galit sa katahimikan at ang dugo ay iisa.

Elaine: Lagi na lang kasi yang uniform mo ang inaatupag mo. Pakiramdam ko ‘yang baril mo ang pinakasalan mo e.

John: Tama na Elaine ano ba? Kung anu-ano ang pinagsasasabi mo. Lagi na lang ba tayong ganito?

Elaine: Oo nga John. Lagi na lang ba tayong ganito?

John: Tama na, Elaine, pagod na `ko.

Elaine: Pagod na rin ako (katahimikan). Gaano ba kasarap haplusin ang baril? Ga’no nga ba ito kasarap hagurin nang hagurin? (Patlang) Paano ba maging baril?

John: Ilang taon na tayong magkasama.

Elaine: Oo nga, yun nga ang problema. Ilang taon na tayong magkasama. Dalawa tayo no’ng nagsimula, hanggang ngayon dalawa pa rin tayo.
John: Iyan na naman ba ang pag-uusapan natin? Siguro hindi pa ta tayo handa.
Continue reading Tilamsik ng Dugo

Haplas

Poetry by | February 26, 2017

Haplas or liniment in English
reminds me of my Nanay
from Vicks to Efficascent
from White Flower to Betet
she always had a stock of them
hidden in her brown colored box.
Whenever I travel
from our place to Davao
she would always hand me
the latest of her Haplas
telling me to use them just in case
and I would remember thanking her
and instantly see her face lit up.
So nights like this
when I lay in my bed
chest hurt from coughing
or legs sore from prolonged standing
like instinct I would grab a Haplas
and it works most of the time
Thanks to Haplas.
Thanks to Nanay.


Abi Andoy is an alumna of Ateneo de Davao University. She’s a “haplas user” for as long as she can remember.

Radioman

Poetry by | February 26, 2017

for Fernando Solijon

History remembers you now
not as the martyr
for an Abstract chained to purses and legalese
but sprawled mind-blown all over newsprint, arms
spread in a reverse hallelujah. Before sunlight
hits gridlock you once scalded with your tongue
the morning grind, and sailed through
headlines and commentary, but croaked
when you couldn’t find their roots.
It is said that anchors hit the unseen floor
to keep the ship upright
as the waves rock it.
Instead, some thought you would tip the ship over,
not knowing the point was to show the muck
that came beneath the current:
“Expensive houses and cars!” “Off-country vacations!”
“Fancy restaurant dinners!” “What happened
to the foreign aid?” “How much
of the budget are their Majesties juggling
from their air-conditioned thrones?”
And then, a phone call: “Capin is ready for you.”
The answers, always,
are another matter. Anyone can write them
or proclaim them on air but they break wills.
They leave bloodstains and broken bones
over brash words hitting air but sing praises
to paintjobs on broken stones,
even claiming to solve our woes and know
who we should vote
come next election.
It is said that Fate
missed you three times in your life—
two from murky waters, another
from the murky waters of politics. When She didn’t,
that evening She came by motorcycle, serving
canned death for dinner, the tins left by the door.
As you run aground, we are told, we must commit
to keep alive longing for truth. We hear static.
You see bloodstains on broken stones.


John Oliver Ladaga is currently a fourth-year student taking up BA English at the University of the Philippines Mindanao. He likes warm soup and is attracted to flowers growing through cracks in the wall. He is from Iligan City.

Aspiration

Poetry by | February 26, 2017

for Izumi Shikibu

If I could cup
rainwater
in my hands
the way you
bottle pain
in five words

I would be
whole.


Mary June Tesorero-Miguel is a graduate of the Creative Writing program of the University of the Philippines. She works in local government.

Katas ng Pawis

Fiction by | February 26, 2017

Umiikot sa ilaw, nararamdaman nya ang init nito. Kumuha siya ng tubig at binuhos ito sa nagliliyab na apoy. Ang bato ay nanghina, napolbo, naging abo at usok sa sanlibutan.

Saksi ang kawayan. Malapista ang saya. Amoy pasko na ang kapaligiran. Sisig, ibang klaseng maanghang na pagkain na nanunuot sa aking lalamunan. Ang tinatagpi-tagping kahoy ay nagsisilbing upuan na bakat na bakat pa ang ugat nito. At sa saliw ng musika ay sabay-sabay na umiindayog ang mga dahon sa kawayan. Samantala ang haligi ay tayung-tayo sa kanyang kinalalagyan.

Ako ay nasisilaw sa liwanag na nanggagaling sa butas ng bintana. Tanaw ko ang liwanag na pumasok sa pagiwang-giwang na pintuan na gawa sa kawayan. Ang hangin ay maaring hindi galing sa langit o baka ito ay bunga lamang ng isang panaginip.

Gusto kong ibuhos ang aking galit sa awit at sayaw. Sa sinuman na kaya akong mahalin ay naaaninag ko ang walang pag-asa sa buhay. Ang lalaki ay hindi sigurado sa kanyang paa ganoon din ang babae.

Gusto kong takasan ang apoy, ang pagawaan ng kutsilyo, ang pagawaan ng uling. Kailangan ko rin ang tunay na pag-ibig. May karapatan ang sinuman mahalin at magmahal. Sadyang hindi lang pantay ang mundo.

Continue reading Katas ng Pawis

Mga Naiwang Tagpo at Tala sa Talaarawan Nitong Huling Dekada ng Kalungkutan

Poetry by | February 19, 2017

UNANG TAGPO:
Nakatira ako sa tuktok ng bundok
kung saan abot ng dalawang talampakan ko ang mga ulap.
Isang umaga, pagkagising, narinig ko ang himig ng mga tutubi
Na salit-salitang dumadapo sa mga nakatitig na bulaklak.
Hinuli ko ang pinakamatandang tutubi,
Pinitas ang mga pakpak nito, ikinulong sa palad, at iniuwi.
Marahan ko itong inilagay sa bilog na garapon,
At saka buong araw itong tinitigan at pinanood,
Habang ang kulay nito’y nagbabago-bago,
Berde, pula, asul, at ang ‘di maipintang kulay ng buwan
Tuwing makikipagsiping ito sa kasintahang bituin.
Iyon ang unang pagkakataong nakahuli ako ng tutubi,
At simula nang araw na iyon, lagi na akong dinadalaw ng kanilang lupon
Sa panaginip, nakikipag-usap at nagtatanong:
“Bakit nga ba napakaraming kalungkutan sa mundong ito?”
Kumurap ang kaliwa kong mata, kumurap din ang kanan niyang mata.
Isang pagkahaba-habang hikab ang ibinalik ko sa tutubi,
At saka malakas na malakas na pagtawa,
At ang tawang iyon ay para sa lahat ng hindi marunong tumawa.

Continue reading Mga Naiwang Tagpo at Tala sa Talaarawan Nitong Huling Dekada ng Kalungkutan

Cruel February

Fiction by | February 5, 2017

Today is the first day of February. But unlike the previous Februaries, this one is not merely the second month of the year having twenty-eight or, as in the case of leap years, twenty-nine days, this month might be daddy’s last.

The smell of newly applied paint could have lured me to stay longer. I like the house better now with its green walls and white ceiling. However, the stench of the canal continues to permeate the house. The living room, empty of appliances, creates a dull and muffled sound to my ears. When I suggested that either the radio or the television should be returned to the sala, I was told that a sick man does not really need much.

I went to visit daddy today. They finally resigned to put his bed in the living room. Hospitals are for those who could afford to postpone death. I would like to think that we can’t instead of we won’t.

He looks thinner now than he did when I last saw him. Strength abandoned him completely. Daddy cannot tuck his cigarette between his middle and forefinger anymore.

The problem of a human mind, I think, is the idea of free association.

We watched an action movie after dinner. Before the lead actor goes into battle against a major drug syndicate, Mama suddenly wailed. She claimed that the actor (his mestizo features, compact physique and arrogant stance) looks like daddy. I agree with the claimed similarities.

But there is a difference. Continue reading Cruel February

The Feast at Barangay Bagontapay

Nonfiction by | January 29, 2017

The news that someone had gotten into a motorcycle accident at Bagontapay Crossing, two kilometers away from our house, reached our neighborhood a few minutes after it happened. It was just after the second power outage that day. I was sitting in our terrace when Ante Doday, who lives across our house, walked toward our rusty pink gate and casually informed me about the accident. She is a wellspring of information in our area, spending most of her day sitting on a wooden bench attached to her small sari-sari store and talking to customers who dish out the stories.

Bagontapay Crossing, where the “roundball” or traffic circle is located, became an accident prone area after its construction. According to my father, who had worked in the road construction, the original road junction – three triangle islands – was safer because of its limited size and intricate course that slowed down the vehicles. It’s interesting how we, taga-Bagontapay and other nearby places, call the roundabout, “roundball.” I guess it is because of the circular concrete wall that looks like a big wishing well in the middle of the intersection. This also reminds me of how we call the sickle, “cycle,” because, again, maybe of the rotating movements of the hand when cutting long grass.

After hearing the news, I remained still in my seat, just waiting for my parents to come home from work. Because it happens all the time, news of the accident didn’t bother me. Unless, of course, I know the person involved or it happens in a very strange way like that time a husband was caught by his wife early in the morning in another woman’s house at the market. I was more worried about how I would spend the remaining one month of my long school break before I go back to Davao City for enrolment. In fact, I couldn’t wait to be a second year college student.
Continue reading The Feast at Barangay Bagontapay