Last October 13, some members of the Davao Writers Guild (DWG) participated in Ilhanay 2016, the first literary festival of North Davao Colleges, Panabo City, through the initiative of faculty member Mohammed Nassefh Macla. Through Macla’s vision, the school’s former “English Week” turned into a celebration of contemporary Mindanawon writing, an unequivocal act of defiance toward the hegemony of English as a language of intellectual and literary pursuits in the Philippines. That day, it was clear that Binisaya is the language that speaks to and of the heart of the Mindanawon.
Panabo is a city in its own right, nestled between the larger cities of Tagum and Davao. Our trip there is part of the outreach activities of the Guild in order to ensure that aspiring writers from outside Davao also have the opportunity to meet and learn from more established writers. In the past, DWG as a group has gone to Samal Island, Digos City, Kapalong, Davao del Norte, and Bukidnon, and each time, participating writers came home inspired by the enthusiasm of the audience. In Panabo, I joined Noi Narciso, Darylle Rubino, Errol Merquita, and Macla in the usual forum and reading. What we didn’t know was that the students had actually prepared a treat for us.
Continue reading Ilhanay 2016: The Pleasure is Mutual
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
Two days before I was to leave for Palawan to join the first Adverbum Writers Retreat in Palawan, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit Central Visayas at past 8 in the morning. Soon after, social network newsfeeds were filled with initial images of the destruction it wrought. Later, television news programs provided more details. It broke my heart to see the ancient Baclayon and Loboc churches destroyed, but even more distressing were the number of human casualties. The earthquake was also felt in Davao City, but to a lesser extent, and with no reported damage. Still, I couldn’t help but feel anxious to leave my two children for a week to do something entirely for myself.
It was a palpable anxiety that I had been feeling since I learned about the retreat. Last July, I received an invitation to the writers retreat from Almira Astudillo-Gilles of Chicago, who organized the retreat to provide established writers with “time and space for creative work.” On October 17 – 22, I was to join Jose “Butch” Dalisay, Ed Maranan, Ricky de Ungria, and Juaniyo Arcellana in a private and secluded villa in Sitio Bobosawen, one and a half hours by road from Puerto Princesa City. With no mobile signal whatsoever, a two-kilometer stretch of coastline, and a view of the mountains, it did sound like a perfect writer’s destination.
Continue reading Shaken and Stirred: The Adverbum Writers Retreat in Palawan
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Month in UP Mindanao is “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures.” It is quite an honor for me to have been given this opportunity to deliver the keynote address. Yet, like Adrienne Rich, “I did not choose this subject; it had long ago chosen me” (15). This task has brought me face to face with my own disconnected, alienated girlhood, and forced me to think about how I shaped my futuredespite the betrayal of my mother.
Even though I lived with my mother in our ancestral house in Pasay City until I was 27, I have no fond memories of her. There were no bedtime stories, no lullabies. She was not a source of nurturing or comfort or validation, the way we are socialized to believe mothers should be. She had always been a career woman because my father had left her even before I was born. I always believed that she was simply too busy trying to be a father that she forgot the whole “motherhood” thing. And yet I know now that it was more than that. For how can motherhood be reduced to an algebraic equation? Rich notes that “motherhood is earned, first through an intense physical and psychic rite of passage—pregnancy and childbirth—then through learning to nurture, which does not come by instinct” (12). I remember feeling sorry for myself every time my grandfather told me the story of the first time I ran away from home.
Continue reading A Mother/Daughter Journey: Connecting Girls at a Time of Risk
Davao Writers Workshop Fellows with some members of the Davao Writers Guild:
From left: Dom Cimafranca (standing), (seated) Rene Estremera, Jhoanna Cruz, Aida Rivera Ford, Josie Tejada, Vanessa Doctor, Macario Tiu, and Jondy Arpilleda (standing).
PANELISTS Timothy Montes, Macario Tiu, and Januar Yap
Panelist JOHN BENGAN giving his lecture on “Writing the Vernacular in English”
Fellow JOCY SO-YEUNG of Sun.Star Davao receiving her certificate from Workshop Director JHOANNA CRUZ and Panelist ANTONINO DE VEYRA (also Chair of UP Mindanao Humanities Department)
First Prize winner of the 1ng Satur Apoyon Tigi sa Mubong Sugilanong Binisaya: AL PONCIANO DATU of Cagayan de Oro with Judges MACARIO TIU, DON PAGUSARA, and ARNEL MARDOQUIO. Also in picture is Davao Writers Guild president, JHOANNA CRUZ.
Editor’s Note: This is an experimental work of interactive fiction, one that requires feedback from you, the reader. Please take the time to read through the story and, in the comments section, tell us which ending you prefer.
This story was supposed to run on October 9, but we are publishing it early so as to get as much feedback. This is for a paper that Jhoanna is writing.
“Perhaps I should take the ferry out with you.”
The moment she hit “Send,” she regretted it. She realized how difficult it would be to coordinate their schedules. He was just going there to shoot some additional footage for a documentary a friend was making. But she convinced herself she could swing it; call in sick and stay sick for a few days. It was unlikely anyhow that she’d meet another malingering call center agent in Siquijor Island in July. But more than logistics, she realized how loaded that suggestion was – even reminding her of Charon and his boat. Reminded her too of her high school teacher who had pronounced it “Sharon” and how she had believed him until Wikipedia enlightened her.
Continue reading Flash Forward
Natawo si Saturnino Pinoso Apoyon sa Lincod, Maribojoc, Bohol sa Disyembre 24, 1935. Sa Bohol, nagtrabaho siya isip koresponsal sa Bohol Chronicle, ug sa edad nga 25, milalin siya sa Dabaw. Dinhi na siya sa Dabaw nagpuyo sulod sa kapin 50 anyos. Sa Dabaw, nagtrabaho siya sa Department of Social Welfare and Development sulod sa 11 ka tuig, ug sa Philippines News Agency sugod 1980, ug miretiro sa 2001.
Bisan sa iyang trabaho, gipalambo niya ang iyang panulat, ug nahimong aktibo sa mga kapunongan sa mga magsusulat. Usa siya sa tigtukod sa Diwa sa Dagang Bisaya (DIDABI) niadtong mga tuig 1960, ug maoy unang presidente sa Davao Writers Guild, Inc. Siya ang nahimong representante sa Eastern Mindanao sa NCCA Committee on Literary Arts gikan July 2001 hangtod June 2004.
Ang iyang obra molangkob og 65 ka mubong sugilanon, upat ka nobelang namantala, 57 ka mga balak, ug daghang mga artikulo, komiks, ug pakatawa. Midawat siya sa unang ganti sa tigi sa Bathalad-Mindanao sa 2000. Ang iyang libro sa mga mubong sugilanon nag-ulohan og Ang Gakit ni Noebong ug Ubang mga Sugilanon (2008) gimantala sa NCCA ug Davao Writers Guild.
Isip pag-ila sa iyang mga nahimo sa pagpalambo sa panulat sa Dabaw ug sa Mindanaw, gihatag sa iyaha sa National Commission for Culture and the Arts ang Taboan Literary Award sa ika-3 Taboan Philippine International Writers Festival nga gibuhat sa Dabaw atong Pebrero 2011.
I wish I could tell you now
that you were right—
after two years
the pineapple head you had thrown
in the backyard has grown
and in fact, the strange
bromeliad is now the throne
of a lovely little piña,
still magenta in the base,
but already wearing a crown.
It competes with the thorns
and constant flowering
of the pink euphorbia beside it.
Also, the golden bamboo
you planted in the clay pot
to keep it portable
has broken through and proudly
taken root, right beside
the bougainvillea that had threatened
to die when the carpenter
chopped it down
to a stump.
It now bursts madly
into fuchsia revenge.
You have always known
it would all come to this,
My wilderness of a garden
is profuse with paradoxes
and I grow lush
with a hundred eyes.
Continue reading Gardening by Accident
This won 3rd prize, Essay in English, Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature 2008
“I looked at Maria and she was lovely. She was tall…and in the darkened hall the fragrance of her was like a morning when papayas are in bloom.”
On our first Valentine as a couple, he gave me a bowl of white nondescript flowers. They had a distinctly sweet but faint scent. I had never been a fan of Valentine’s Day nor of love like a red, red rose; but that day, I became a believer. He told me they were papaya blossoms from his mother’s garden. At that moment, I knew I would one day marry him. We had started dating only three months ago, but I knew I would be Maria to his Leon. Why, he even had a younger brother the same age as Baldo! And even though they didn’t live in Nagrebcan nor owned a carabao, the town of Itogon, Benguet was remote enough for me. I have always enjoyed teaching the Arguilla story for its subversive take on the role that one’s family plays in a marriage; but having been born and raised in Pasay City, I had no idea what papaya blossoms smelled like. I imagined that my new boyfriend had read the story in his Philippine literature class and meant for me to recognize his gift as an allusion. In fact, I imagined we would defy societal norms and prove that love conquers all. Instead of a “theme song,” our relationship had a story to live up to. It was a disaster waiting to happen.
Continue reading Sapay Koma
Waves in kimono,
two pails, his jacket, and hat
drowning in desire.
She wears his clothes and becomes –
man enough, to fetch water.
Continue reading Three Poems