Banaag Diwa 2019: Layaw

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EDITORIAL BOARD 2018-2019 EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Rosvir Kate Flores ASSOCIATE EDITOR Ram Manlatican MANAGING EDITOR Avegail Gimeno NEWS EDITOR Jamrell Vincette Buynay ART EDITORS Yves Mathieu Africa • Julien Jame Apale • Joseph Nasser SOCIAL MEDIA EDITOR Allyster Berthe Astronomo MEMBERS SENIOR NEWS WRITERS Kyrie de Chavez • Kimberly Maragañas SENIOR FEATURE WRITER Gerladine Mae Antegra SENIOR CARTOONISTS Christian Hel Cemine • Carlo Isiah Escarda • Stephany Kate Bergardo • Maria Cyra Jane Dealca • Demi Althea Padillo • Raf Maurice Tacder • Samantha Yap SENIOR PHOTOJOURNALISTS Hannah Lou Balladares • Jacymae Kaira Go • Loraine Rubi • Charlotte Billy Sabanal SENIOR LAYOUT ARTISTS Ralf Vincent Bajo • Myrile Cadalzo JUNIOR NEWS WRITERS Johanna Vaughn Dejito • Sofia Roena Guan • Czar Ysmael Rabaya • Percival Cyber Vargas JUNIOR FEATURE WRITERS Ronald Jay Ortiz • Gwyneth Marie Vasquez JUNIOR PHOTOJOURNALIST Maxine Lumbera JUNIOR CARTOONISTS Fe Lourence Valente JUNIOR LAYOUT ARTISTS Chloe Jan Cuaton • Moammar Nawang JUNIOR VIDEO EDITOR Rodrigo Pastor Jr. JUNIOR FIELD CORRESPONDENTS Allan Acera Jr. • Sheena Allison Dela Salde MODERATOR Dr. Cheryl P. Baldric


Volume 64 Number 5 Copyright 2019 by ATENEWS

This publication is not for sale ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Printed in Davao City, Philippines. This publication is protected by copyright and permission should be obtained from the publisher prior to any prohibited reproduction, storage in retrieval system, or transmission in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or likewise. To obtain permission(s) to user material from this work, please submit a written request to: ATENEWS The official student publication of the Ateneo de Davao University, G/F Arrupe Hall, Martin Building, Ateneo de Davao University, E. Jacinto St., 8016 Davao City, Philippines.

Tel. No.: (082) 221-2411 loc. 8332 Website: E-mail:


Introduction For three golden decades, Banaag Diwa has served its cause as the annual literary folio of Atenews. It had been a platform for aspiring literary writers and photojournalists to showcase their masterpieces. Ranging from the most mundane to the most critical write-ups and photographs, Banaag Diwa continues to challenge the status quo and elevate the level of discourse through literature. Banaag Diwa 2019: Layaw was crafted to challenge the Ateneo community to dig deeper beyond the surface. It was branded in a way that expects contributors to tackle relevant social issues and the underlying factors that constitute them. This year, Atenews received several entries from aspiring poets who used English, Filipino, and Binisaya as the medium of language. Some has contributed multiple entries with different content and style. Poems of varying lengths were welcomed. Generally, these entries revolved around three main Ps: pain, poverty, and patriotism. Vivid images were creatively presented through metaphors and rhymes. Unique styles of writing reflect how these contributors possess promising potential in poetry writing. On the other hand, there were only a few entries for this year’s short story category. Only those with brave hearts have said ‘yes’ to the challenge of sharing narratives through creative fiction story writing. The resemblance to real-life situations and rich story-telling of these intricate pieces gained them several pages in the literary folio. Moreover, the collection of photo entries complimented with the intricacy and rawness of the literary pieces. However, there is a need for more photojournalism enthusiasts because one photo would be able to convey a social reality that may raise public awareness and empathy. Nevertheless, reading through these pages of Banaag Diwa 2019: Layaw will make you rethink about your privileges and the society in general. Will you forever be limited by the blindfolds, or will you choose to listen to the unheard and immerse with the underprivileged?

Rosvir Kate G. Flores Editor-in-Chief (2018-2019)

vi Foreword POEMS Ang Huling Ermitanya TANGHALAN *2nd Placer Jannies Shyne S. Briones A Word to the Tyrants *3rd Placer Every Saturday Youth, take note Francis Clark David Dinhi Dapit Sa Amo Nung Muntik nang masagasaan ang aso


05 11 17 06 26

Jewel Mansia Bruised Instruments


Ranyl Christian P. Gregorio A Midnight Kingdom


Rosvir Kate Flores The Good Speaker


Comet i held you at gun point


Johanna Therese M. Luna In between





Rr LIVE Yves Mathieu Africa Serpent’s Dream

22 24


Percival Cyber Vargas Worn out


Ronald Jay Ortiz Diary of a Mortician In Room 258

30 31

Ian Derf SalvaĂąa

Elio When you finally go home, To the flowers of Heidelberg

32 33 34

When the heart flies from its place


Baler a habit of words The wind , the listener Tumaliktik after a long time

38 40 43 46

Special Note Margarita Valle The Pen indeed is mightier


viii PHOTO E S SAYS Ian Derf Salvaña They uttered in echoes


Amiel Jay Lopez

“Kita kita”


Julien Jame Apale Kaming nasa kabilang dako


Rodrigo Pastor Jr.





“Langoy para sa Kaugmaon”






SHORT STORIES Margaret Lopez

Brunch *3rd Placer






Karl Quilal-lan Matthew Van Michael Lapiz Magkaibang Gutom *2nd Placer


Gian Paolo Celis Mallo “That Night in Nineteen Ninety-nine”


Ron Ciego The Feast of St. John the Baptist



Rosvir Kate Flores



Gwyneth Marie Vasquez Ancestral Home


Jupiter Cabig Body Autonomy



Fe Lourence Valente Illustration for Bugaw


Maria Cyra Jane Dealca Illustration for That Night In Nineteen Ninety-Nine


Mykiesha Sta. Ana Illustration for The Feast of St. John The Baptist


The Contributors


The Judges



Foreword Banaag Diwa will always find someone to bother or comfort. When I got a hold of my first issue, a particular short story disturbed me so well that I could no longer bring back the innocent mind I once had. I was 13 years old back then with no hint of Atenews’ existence. Yet the way the author characterized the abject realities of urban crimes screamed of an organic and raw impression. One thing lead to another. And that marked my transition into social consciousness. Banaag Diwa, the annual literary folio of the student publication, has been the crossing point for Ateneans who seek refuge in expressing their creativity through writing and photography. As it celebrates its 30th anniversary, Banaag Diwa will remain as it was. The literary folio, as I see it, transcends beyond the ordinary. Our language and the mundane things that it attracts will eventually lose its voice despite the noise. And in viewing social realities around us, losing that voice leads to a deafening silence. A look at history tells us that silence is the frail twin of violence. Banaag Diwa, however, helps to counter it. This year, Atenews through Banaag Diwa: Layaw underlines what it means to have a silver spoon in one’s mouth. Despite our affinity towards social justice and the common good, we cannot deny that the Ateneo community stands on the ground of privileges. We may take pride in helping the marginalized sectors, but we cannot dismiss the fact that what we have as socially advantageous (i.e., social status and political influence) somehow perpetuates a society pregnant with social injustices. We may not have the power to fight this inherent duality, Banaag Diwa is here to remind us that silver tarnishes and corrodes. Banaag Diwa will always disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed.

Ram C. Manlatican Associate Editor (2018-2019)



Manunula(t) ka. Malikhaing naturingan. Gayo’y lapit ka kung kaibigan mo ang katapangan. Mayroon lamang akong ibibidang inililihim na tanghalan. Walang ni katiting na talsik na liwanag sa karimlan, Isang natatanging oras para sa balat-kayong anghel sa lipunan. Ihanda ang iyong sugatang mga kamay, Hahawiin natin nang sabay ang nakaharang na tangkay, Kikilatisin ang eksenang maskara’y galak sa lumbay, Kung paanong hanggang pagluha ng kaanak ng bangkay--Ang tanging nagagawa sa panakaw na salakay. Kung ang nasasaksihan mo pa lang na pagniniig, At ang natatanging halinghing na nadidinig Ay gawa ng iyong papel at panitik, Yayanigin ko ang iyong daigdig--Susubukin sa dilim ang iyong pag-ibig. Hindi tulad ng tula na bunga ng pagsisiping ng pluma’t haraya Ang uri ng pag-iisang katawan sa lalaking may kaya, Na kung hindi ibinenta ng sariling ama’t mga banta--Kung hindi dahil sa takot ipasubo ang tingga, Ay nakalilipad na sanang higit na malaya. Sa kabilang dako’y pakatitigan mo, Nakikita ba ng nakamulat mong mga mata mula sa malayo Ang mga pinatutubong palay na tila madali kung isubo?


Barya ang sukli sa pagkahapo, pauwi sa munting kubo, Madalas handugan ng pangako’t sa eleksiyo’y binibida ng kandidato. Halika, pupuslit tayong saglit sa eskinita. Ipakikilala kita sa ‘king pamilya. Payak na tahanan na hindi makailag sa lumilipad na bala, ‘Yan, sa may kanto. H’wag kang mabahala, Sisilip lang tayo nang may maisatinig ang ‘yong katha. “Berto, gabi na’t may dala ka pang bisita!” H’wag kang mahiya. Asawa ko nga pala. “Mahal, ito, manunula. Paparito muna.” “Nakakain na ba ‘yan? Naku, wala ako rito kahit pang-meryenda.” “Bayaan mo na’t kuwento ko ang hapunan niya.” Magpatuloy tayo. Ano, nakakaisang pahina ka na ba? Kapag may narinig kang mga ingay, galing ‘yan sa kabila. Mga nagliliparang gamit ‘yan sa kusina. Tapos, kapag may pagsabog, takpan ang mga tainga, Kabataan ‘yan na nagbabatuhan ng tirgas sa kalsada. Maingay dito sa amin tuwing gabi, Nahihintakutan nga pati hayop sa tabi-tabi, Kasi, kasunod ng mga maririnig mong paghikbi, Ang pagbulwak ng tawanan sa natripang batang pipi--O ‘di kaya’y walang saplot ngunit may supot na dalagitang kinse.


Aalon-alon pa dapat ang iyong taludturan, Subalit nagigimbal din ako na baka ika’y mahintakutan, Ihahayag ko sana ang isang nililihim kong dekada ang nakararaan Gusto ko kasi sanang maaarok ng kahit pahapyaw na tanaw ng iyong isipan, Ang binibihisang katotohanan na kahit ang nilalang na may robang puti ay sangkot sa tanghalan. Maghahating-gabi na pala! Mukhang napahaba ang kuwentuhang nating dal’wa. O, siya. Ihahatid na lamang kita. Hawak sa pluma--Sandata. Sige, humayo ka’t bawat hakbang mo’y babantayan ko, Diretso lang, ‘wag hihinto. Tapos, sa kanto, saka ka lumiko. ‘Pag may dugo sa paanan ay umakto munang walang alam, Bukas o sa makalawa, saka mo ihayag itong tanghalan. Mag-ipon ka ng ibayong lakas, ngayo’y puntirya ka ni kamatayan. Ganoon talaga, lalo’t marami ka ng nalalaman, Mahilig ang makapangyarihan sa mga nagbubulag-bulagan, Dalisay ang kanilang laro kapag lahat ay mangmang na naturingan. Mag-iingat ka at nasa iyo ang tinig ng mamamayan, Magpakatapang ka, ‘pagkat ikaw ang kandila sa karimlang bumabalot sa bayan.


A Word to the Tyrants JANNIES SHYNE S. BRIONES

Now you stand proud and tall Reveling in your plastic glory As you watch us fall. For ages we laid in darkness Without comfort of light nor sound, Beneath the mud & murk— Like seeds buried in the ground. Yet soon the seasons will invite the grand and destined hour when the Banaba tree blooms a thousand sprightly flowers. Then our skins will feel once more the youthful warmth of spring and you will wonder why the Mayas to us will sing, “Love and liberty you beget! The sun of your fair hope shall never set!” Though now you beat us with steel rods and sticks, riddle our bodies with bullets, and strike us with whips. In return for your cruelty we give you not revenge, but a brief warning—a prophecy of your reign’s end: Though now you are merry, blinded by your greedy pursuit, soon you will come to us kneeling —begging for fruit.



Dinhi dapit sa amo, Duol kung asa ko nakapuyo, Naay bakanteng lote nga dako Kung asa ang dulaanan namo. Gitawag namo siyag sagbutan Kay mubo na sagbut siya gipalibotan Diri ang tambayanan namong tanan Tambayanan namo sa akong mga silingan. Dinhi ang sentro sa among kalipay Dinhi mi tanan naga-dakpanay Usahay diri sad magsugod ang away Akong mga amigo mukalit nala’g sumbaganay. Hapon na ug muhawa na ang adlaw Nagtapok mi diri nagkanstaw-kantsaw Tingog sa suko nga lalaki ang kalit ni labaw Ang tingog sa mga plato nikalit lang ug karaw. “Kadyot kay murag tingog to sa imong amahan”, Maoy ingon sa akong mga silingan Ako pud nagdali ug nidiretso ug dagan Tan-awon kung unsa to ang akong nadunggan. Nagkusog ang pulso sa akong dughan sa kahangak Pag-abot sa balay, ang purtahan akong gitulak


Nakita nako ang akong inahan nagyuko ug naghilak Giduolan siya ug kalit sa akong amahan ug gihapak Nganong nahitabo man kining butanga Unsa kaya ang ilahang problema Lipay pa man unta kaayo si Papa ganina Galambinganay pa man gani ni sila ni mama Sukad ato nga adlaw Si Papa permi nalang suko kada-adlaw Nagsugod na ko sa iya ug kaulaw Sa iya, lahi na akoang paglantaw Pauli ko gikan sa eskwelahan Pag-abri sa purtahan, ako nakuratan Sa balay siya akoang naabtan Atbang sa salamin iyang sarili ginakataw-an Papa, naunsa naman ka? Nganong nagpula na imong mga mata? Dili man ka ing ani sa una Nganong murag di na tika kaila. Usa ka-adlaw nihawa ka Dala ang bag na astang dakoa Nigakos ka ug maayo sa akoa Ug niingon na mubalik ra ka “Papa, asa man ka?” “Nak, naa lang ayuson si Papa” “Mubalik pa man kaha ka?” “Mubalik pa si Papa”


Gahulat ko sa Papa nako Sa lugar dinhi dapit sa’mo Kada gabii permi nako ginaampo Na iyang pagbalik unta karon mahitabo. “Papa, kanus-a pa man ka mu-uli Mingaw kaayo kung wala ka diri Ug kung mubalik man ka o dili Ang balay, sa imoha permi abri Usa ka gabii sa balay, ako nanghinoktok Higda sa sofa ug sa kisame nagtutok Gahulat sa purtahan na naay mutoktok Pero wala ug ako sa buhok nangutkot Usa ka buntag ako nakamata Tungod sa tingog na hastang sabaa Pagkabalo nga tingog to ni Papa Nagdali-dali dayon ko ug bangon sa kama Nibalik na jud ang akong amahan Dala ang iyang maayong kabag-uhan Kung sa una ako siyang kahadlokan Karon dali na lang kaayo siya duolan Ang away sa’kong ginikanan naundang na Unta katong mga adlaw dili na mubalik pa Among kinabuhi karon lahi na kaayo sa una Salamat kay karon nagbag-o na si Papa


Among pamilya kay sobra na kamalipayon Mga lisod na problema karon sobra na kasayon Mas nilambo ang among tinig-isang relasyon Adlaw-adlaw espesyal masking way okasyon Si Papa ako na perming duolanan Labi na sa problema na dili nako makayanan Pati sa pagskwela di ko niya ginapabayaan Pati si Mama iya ng permi ginaalagaan Kada uli gikan trabaho naa siyay dala pagkaon Usahay burger, balut, pansit o bihon Tawagon mi niya ug iyang dala among saluhon Sagulan dayon ug paborito namong ilumnon. Usa ka gabii, siya ginahulat namo Ginahulat kung unsa iyang dala para sa’mo Mag alas nuwebe na lang wala pa siya sa amo Nganong nadugay siya, unsa kaya iyang ginahimo Pila ka minuto naay nitoktok sa purtahan Usa ka babae na gadali-dali ug dagan Ako kay natingala ug nakulbaan Nagkusog ang dagan sa’kong dughan Ang babae kay grabe iyang hilak Dili kastoryag tarong kay siya gihangak Naa daw tingog nga kusog kaayo ang bundak Diay naay lalaki ng gibaril human kini misupak


Ang lawas sa lalaki nakita namo Sa lugar dinhi dapit sa’mo Sa sagbutan na dulaanan namo Ug nakita ang tao nga importante sa’mo Papa, giunsa ka nila Unsa imong sala sa ila Nganong giigo ka sa bala Nga karon nagbag-o naman ka Kinsa na ang akoang duolanan Kung naa koy problema na dili na makayanan? Abi ba nako ug dili na mi nimo biyaan Ana ka nga permi mi nimo alagaan Ang lugar na dulaanan namo Sa akong mata karon mura nag lamo Pagpatay sa akong amahan kay gihimo Dinhi dapit sa’mo



Mama tells me to enjoy Because Tito has for me new toys. On Saturdays I find her gone, “I’ll come back when my work is done.” Tito showers me with many gifts. Says again and again I’m his fav’rite kid. He buys me candy—lots and lots of sweets: Choc-Nuts and taffies, more than I can eat! But Tito always plays strange & curious games. Every now and then the rules change. “Don’t tell Mommy,” he would always say. “I’ll come back for you next Saturday.” So that is how my story ends And begins no different every weekend. Every Saturday Mama tells me to enjoy Tito has for me new toys.


Bruised Instruments JEWEL MANSIA

Deities walked on this elevated ground, Painting Stan Smith with dirt. And them, Cinderellas in friction with the surface. Washed with their own blood and dried. Cinderella will never find her missing shoe.

“Sing for their mercy!” they exclaimed As if their throats were never hacked Only for their crumpled hands to receive printed heroes, Rainbows narrowed in their wallets. The dropping of rust is a song of stardust.

Below them were bodies steamed in jeepneys that Carry names of busy streets and colorful races. Different stories of ten from two sides Exhale smoke of routine destination. Sweat wiped with a white good morning.

Earphones plucked; streamed to A country song to take you home. Ignoring the sound of the lost tune. Maybe it’s really hard to be alone, but I guess you never intended to return.


Their pitch black eyes cry sweat To fill this once full tin now rusted. Guitars with wires, and flutes with bandages. Fingers of altitude in drought. A monotonous panting breath.

Can’t your hands of ivory holding bags Of various names but still the same, Spare them a penny of generations? Touch these hands harassed by time. Listen to the melody of a promise broken in the promise land.

To the inhabited place or to the Olympus Where Karl Marx would never step in. This is not the stairway to heaven; This is a skyway of bruised instruments, Of wrinkles, and of empty fast food cups.



At a time when the world sleeps Drifting towards their fantasies I live out mine as an aloof king Within the four corners of my room Cold, quiet, and dimmed lights An isolated kingdom comes to life Far from disturbance of any invasion Only the distant glistening stars Take note of each action I take They twinkle like a camera’s flash The moon shines down its light Illuminating the window behind me Faint, I can hear the crickets outside As they sing the song of midnight Each action I impulsively take Every outburst of emotion They are the only witnesses The kingdom reaches a point Where it declines to oblivion As the sun rises in the place Of the moon and the stars One by one, the crickets sleep The world is slowly waking up I return to my dreaded reality A midnight kingdom no more Swallowed by the morning


However, the cycle will repeat Another kingdom will be born And will disappear to the air again But I will build and crash kingdoms On an endless loop, a cyclic routine If only for a few countable hours I can be myself, and I can be relieved From the struggles of living a day Full of unexpectedness and stress If only for a brief, fleeting moment I can truly feel like everything Is in control with my weary hands



He is the good speaker Crowds laugh at his horrible jokes Though full of bigotry and misogyny Labelling women under patriarchy Yet recklessly kissing them publicly Like a celebrity, this way he goes The good speaker is he. He is the good speaker People believe in his promises Though empty and mostly petty Three-month rule preferably Drugs will be gone entirely Three months turned into three years The good speaker is he. He is the good speaker Rape culture perpetuated in his speeches Granting privilege to the abusive army Like it haven’t gained controversy already Yet so far he haven’t been sorry Saying people should know that it’s his nature The good speaker is he.

The good speaker is he Like the previous dictator, he stands His word is considered law and sole authority People praise his style and unique branding Blindfolded like choosing worse than better Three years after, he still reigns Because for many, he is the good speaker.


Youth, Take Note JANNIES SHYNE S. BRIONES Are you listening, dear youth? To the protracted rhythms of your mother’s cry? See! She is troubled even in her slumber, Dreaming horrible dreams at night.

Youth, take note! Are you paying attention? Then why are you now so timid? When you were once so brave & strong! Who has stolen your laughter? Who has silenced your song?

Youth, be free! For why should we keep you shackled to the pillars of tradition? Look! A new path rises from the ground To lead you away the valley of condemnation.

Youth, pursue justice, wisdom, and more! Anything to keep your faith firm. But child, one last reminder: to love is greater Than anything you can ever learn.


i held you at gun point COMET

we are soldiers, right? comrades, always there for each other

no one was watching us, right? it was just you and me in the middle of the night

you said it would be quick, right? your words were sweating behind my ears

you started leaning closer, right? a little closer, a little closer

our lips touched for the first time, right? those crusty, salty peaches bursting with flavor

i tasted your tongue, right? it simmered with saliva, marinated with alcohol

your hands were all over me, right? down my hair to my jaw to my neck to my


we peeled off our uniforms, right? our clothes like shed skin, sinking to the floor

you pressed your chest against mine, right? the warmth of your skin sent chills down my spine

your hands slid beneath my trousers, right? slowly unsheathing the loaded pistol

i held you at gunpoint, right? you pulled the trigger inside your mouth

but we said we wanted this, right? heavy breaths as white blood dripped to my skin

we are comrades, right? tomorrow will just be another day


In Between JOHANNA THERESE M. LUNA There are worlds we envision Far beyond the abyss of our minds Be it with harmony, such perfect nations Vast places we’ll never actually find

There are worlds that let us lose hope Depriving our voices, shrinking them to silence Looking for an inner hold arduous to grope a debacle, a phenomenon so timeless

We are vessels, possessing powerful eyes To act beyond chaos in the scene To seek the spark of another world to arise yet, we chose to stay in between


Memories SIKUDU

o immerse me more. is me or is me

me? mos. ire o mesmer-ise mime or

mome sire memorise e-memoirs

me moi res mem-o-ries “memoriesâ€?‌?



Isidro is waiting, The line is too long and his card wrote 666, Isidro is waiting, He remembers his wife crying and their house needs to be fixed. Isidro is uneasy, He hears his children’s bellies aching, Isidro is uneasy, His thoughts tightened and dreaming. Isidro is persistent, He tries to hide the pain through a smile, Isidro is persistent, 204... 222... on the third aisle, Isidro thought of backing out, He has a long way to go, Isidro thought of backing out, He is still standing on the farthest row, Isidro is hardly waiting, But now he is confused and his head is heavy, Isidro kept waiting, Yet the time is ticking slow and airy, Isidro must do it now, He waited long enough

Isidro do it now! He pulled out a gun and fires, Isidro yelled, The place became loud and dire, And the bank ringed their bells Isidro ran so hard, The cops were all behind him, Isidro, now have the money card


“This is for the good life� he grins, Isidro ran, and ran, and ran... Until he ran no more,

Oh Isidro, I am waiting... He lay cold and red in an alley floor, His life flashed and gone before him like lightning, Isidro is almost home. Isidro is mine alone.



Woven lies, fleeting cries Seasons change and breaking ties Cities burn, a distant call Feigning lives, a silent call Hidden smiles in golden masks Crimson red of blood they bask The rising sun, the dawn of day Flesh and bones from dust and clay The meadows bleed of barren tan Ruthless voice of a clever man Mothers pray for poison trees Fathers drop upon their knees “Deliver Lord” they pray to thee Falling fires and roaring seas The silver line, a leader’s pledge A puzzled world, a tale to dredge The serpent’s dream is close at hand Hell, on earth is bound to land The holy Queen, mother of earth Mercy pray, for all one is worth A serpent’s call, the nastiest of sins An old foe, a devil’s grin Forged in gold and black of night The chains of old and scarlet light



worn out but not alone unknown, anew but old durst dent, discontent parallelooping coarse hairs on skinned sole stained with salt and soil crammed in tests the mold retained unwaned and waxed the shape thru careful cycles scrubbed sheened buffed gleamed a pair: of hot airy sighs for tomorrow’ll be just the same


Nung Muntik Nang Masagasaan Ang Aso FRANCIS CLARK DAVID

Isang ordinaryong araw lamang Nakikipag-usap sa salamin na parang timang Naghahangad ng kakaibang magaganap At yun nga’y sa ordinaryong araw may nahanap Lumabas ako kasama si bantay Nang sa gano’y mawala kaniyang lumbay Nalinga’t lang ng isang sandali Ang aso ko’y muntik ng sa aksidente’y matali. Naaksidente siyang muntikan Dahil sa sasakyang paparaan Buti na lang may binibining Sumagip at ang sasakya’y pinatigil. Imbis na magpasalamat ako Heto ako’t tuliro Tinamaan na ata ako sa’yo Binibining lumigtas nang muntik nang masagasaan ang aso. Tayo’y nagkakilala Ang ganda mo’y di makaila Iniisip kong di tayo magkapareha Sapagka’t di kagandahan aking itsura


Itsura ko’y iyong binalewala Oras mo sa aki’y pinagkatiwala Laging ako iyong kasama Kaya tayong dalawa’y magkalapit na Isang araw kausap ko na naman ang sarili sa salamin Sabay sabing, “Uy! Namimiss ko na siyang kausapin” Pinangakon ilalaan bukas buong araw ay sa amin. Mag-uusap, kakain at tittignan magagandang tanawin. Sinimulan ang araw sa sala Tayong dalawa’y naglalaro ng baraha Sunod ay kumakanta sa karaoke Habang sinasawsaw sa asukal ang nilagang kamote. Inangkas kita sa bisikleta Papunta tayo sa Luneta Nasa atin mga mata nila Parang lahat ng tao hinuhusgahan tayong dalawa Dahil sa masama nilang titig Ikay’ napatahimik Na para bang may gustong sabihin Mata mo’y malungkot na nakatitig sa akin. Bilang lalaking umiibig Di ko kayang ikaw lang ay manahimik Parang ako’y di mo na marinig Matapos ang isang buong araw na ika’y kapiling


May naisip akong pananggal ng iyong problema Dinala kita sa lugar kung saan ako kumakalma Pakikipag-usap sa sarili ang gamot Sa salamin ko ika’y dinala dahil ito lang alam kong sagot. Sa kwarto ko tayo’y pumasok Para matanggal sa puso mo ang tinik na nakatusok Pagharap sa salamin, ako’y natulala Bakit sarili ko lang ang aking nakikita Akala ko’y sumama ka sa akin At sa silid ko’y sarili mo’y kakausapin Ba’t ngayo’y mahirap ka nang hagilapin Ang bilis mong nawala, o para kang hangin Naglalakad kasama ang aso ko’t nagbabasakali Na sana’y makita ka’t masagi Napansin ko si bantay na sinisighot Dyaryo na para bang naiwan dahil sa limot Laking gulat kong naroon ka Sa dyaryong aking binasa Ako ay biglang napatulala Sumunod ang patak ng aking luha. Puso ko’y gumunaw Buhay ko’y natunaw ‘ Di ko inakala Taong walang buhay ay nakilala.


Hindi ako makapaniwala Nakikipag-usap lang pala sa wala Masasaya nating mga alaala Ay imahinasyon ko lang pala Salamat sa iyong sakripisyo Ikaw ay bayani, mismo Binigay mo ang buhay mo Nang muntik nang masagasaan ang aso.


Diary of a Mortician RONALD JAY ORTIZ Confessions of a Coroner

What a wonder it is

In caskets below dirt

To be the one given the privilege

Though all these I say won’t reach you

Of opening you up

For what are you than a cadaver

Getting the pleasure of knowing you

And I, a doctor

The true you

But nevertheless

Not the lies lacquered upon your skin

I feel the need to address this,

But the real persona underneath

This monumental moment

All these small details that makes you

With profound prose

Such beauty


Such grace there is in you

Heave ho

Within you

To the organs

I see it with my own eyes

To the bones

The feelings

To the muscle and nerves

The emotions

As I reach inside and take away

The person beneath

I am content

I feel the utmost honor

I am happy

The utmost joy

I am alive

For it is no simple ordeal

This further gives meaning

Given the right

That there is truly

To be the one who undresses you

Life in death.

In this hour untimely This moment we have will be remembered But not only in memories Also in morgues and in jars




A step after another I come closer and closer As she came closer and closer For me it was towards her For her, it was towards Him I had not known she was at the brim Her light was getting dim My light was closer to a point wherein She no longer became a part of it I arrived in a room well lit But with an extreme darkness I was hit In my state I almost threw a fit She was no more I hadn’t even reached the door But when I did I dropped to the floor My heart felt sore I couldn’t even say goodbye All I could do now was cry Until my eyes get dry Because there is nothing I can try To regain my lost mother.



IAN DERF SALVAÑA for N Call me by your name or by your deep thoughts on Heraclitus or simply by the mystery that speaks from that David’s star hanging on your neck, call me whatever you want, for I am yours, for I belong in the linens of your bed, in the fabrics of your shorts, in the little hairs of your chest and down under, and do whatever you want, for the house has gone astray with its own secrets, for its rest is only within the trees keeping our weakest selves from the shadows of the moon when people are asleep: apricots, pomegranates, peaches— do whatever you want, Oliver, to me, that is to say, come close on me as I pretend to breathe in my sleep, and then slowly catch it as your lips finally read mine when they touch, and when they do, finally leave the room, thinking of you as me, and me as the happiest to have known you laugh, dance and make love—

after Andre Aciman


When you finally go home, IAN DER SALVAÑA

remember, I am still writing an elegy about skins. Don’t yet forget that our bodies first met, all the frictions of sweat suffocating the humid air, before words came out as babbles. This is not to say we sin when we dissipate in darkness, eating each other’s flesh, bathing nipples, tongue to tongue, writing a temporary code, encrypted with saliva’s mischief, as I see your eyes completely black. Yes, it is dim and we are yet to know each other’s names, the names we use when we hide our real selves, real lives, real feelings, because we should be devoid of feelings when we are hungry as we turn the room into a pyre of bodily heat. If the moon will peek through the nuder walls, it will uncover drips of water forming within the inner secrets of my pillows. The covalence really is about your tired eyes, your closed eyes, your still face when you escape the world after we pass our body’s own checkpoints. Yes, we only lose ourselves when we cum twice and we catch our breaths for hours, naked and unconcerned of tomorrow, knowing we are strangers to one another. You will go home knowing I am Gino, and the night’s young stars will cradle you to sleep on the other side of the city only to forget me when you chat once more and ask,“Hey, what’s up?” Tonight, the cold wind will be my blanket as I lay lifeless in a bed wet from mourning. When I fall to sleep, I will dream of drowning, a sea without water, a desert of sadness, as I wait in contempt for another night to burn our bodies.


To the flowers of Heidelberg* IAN DERF SALVAÑA

You remain tall, petal colors astonishingly bright, in the quiet creeks of a White city. It isn’t Tondo that looks at you with great sin, and you do not seek anymore the life of the slum besides black, brown, black. Tomorrow, you will blossom near the pond overlooking the kissing of clean buildings and fresh air. It isn’t Luneta that looks at you with great prize, the stone people only barely move, frustrated that your kind hides in utopia. In Bagumbayan, the future seeks you to nourish the past, and the past seeks to make sense of your belongingness. Once you maximize your wandering off the coast of an unknown Pacific archipelago, remember Dapitan, and for the last time, smell the absence of revolt, of hiding from untimely bullet holes speared through chests of fallen soldiers resting in Libingan ng mga Bayani. Here, your sisters, chrysanthemums and other white plants, lay bare their own dirtiness—no matter their beauty—when they are overlooked in seeking justice for lives missing, lives lost in the history of our independence. Look at how we fought in the changing games by strongmen in position and despise monuments built after their death.


Look at islands in isolation, they seek the souls of guerillas filled with hatred, from then to now, from dawn to dusk. Luckily, you were born to forget your own colonial past. All you do now is remember the quiet water behind where you sit pretty, gushing towards a stream that hasn’t tasted blood in a long while.

*Nominated by The Brown Orient for the 2019 Pushcart Prize


When the Heart Flies from Its Place IAN DERF SALVAÑA After Eric Gamalinda & Mookie Katigbak-Lacuest

The line of the poem always begins here: its first words its home But: longing, and still amid age, wandering, finding meaning in the shaping landscape of water where there is no fixed geography. Already, the dying of language, of memory, of love. Here in Bacolod, waiting for the rain is an art of un-telling of missing home. When it finally comes, the sea rejoices in calmness. I imagine continents as short distances travelled by the rain, by the ocean, during days wanting to wane. I have traversed half the world just to understand the meaning of forget: time and space unlearning us. But what is it that movedthe wind to carry me here, in the vast middle of the ocean,just to forgive him? The memories are the first to go, and nowlove, and now language. Stansik must have lost his hearing by now, unlearning English again. His grandchild reads off stones from a cemetery in America. Nearby, a pond, primal, and slow creases of water ripple. He doesn’t hear the voice of the girl, no older than the age he first arrived there. Her language is as thin as the landscape of his memory but he hears his Russian in his mind and he must’ve stared hard near the water. He writes me this: I do not have nightmares anymore. I have

already forgotten the sound of tractors, the smell of grass, the warmth of day. And he says,I miss you. She must’ve sat near him, in the line of benches that tamed the wildness of autumn trees, must’ve asked him who Matilda is, his dearest, in the letter he must’ve held. And this he must’ve heard, and he


says a stranger, but he understands the silent migrationof his feet towards the water and his hand touches it. He speaks in a tongue foreign to her: How does

the place fly from itsheart? The last letter dates five years back, and since then, the water has been our tipping point as it reaches me in a foreign land,and since then, we contain the geography of love towards home.




Inside an almost-empty bus treading the terrains of Sierra Madre,he feels cramped up, knowing breathing noiselessly is never a tender thing. He asks himself a thing or two how roads up here are mercilessly less of an untended needle thread. He remembers the road back to Cateel, the heaving of nature in its own silence, its own accord, consumes his own journey finding home. He slips into periodic naps and in between, he longs for the time to reach the sea. The saltiness of air writhing below his nose must’ve reminded him every time of the Pacific, this side of the ocean the keeper of all his silences. He has left it to seek for anotherwater, to build entire mountains away from home, and he must’ve momentarily forgotten why he is lost in this Luzon forest he cannot picture out in map. He only knows it’s his way of dealing the burdens of home, his own self-doubt: to escape the mirrors of the ocean, its vast unconquerable body unrepentant of swallowing all emotions he cannot fathom, does not try to avoid. When he finally reaches the shores of Aurora, he feels the same ocean is looking at him, observing the same still face he has since he left home, as he finds the shape of water strangely familiar. It’s as if he never left, never knowing the reasons for his leaving. For a long time now, his feet has longed to swim in the moist and warmth of the sand as he imagines the music the waves make when it is night and the world is still black. He feels the same feeling watching these unknown waters in a faraway land. He eases his breathing and breathes with sound. He must’ve loved the ocean so much


to find fragments of himself in different seas, whole images of his face, his body, blurry even if the shore is calm. He must’ve searched the parts missing from him to cross lands only to find the same cold water. He must’ve known he can never glue brokenness together when he doesn’t know its first cause. He is so used to standing near the ocean, contented from a distance, watching the sea recede like a love that’s never consummated.

for S


a habit of words IAN DERF SALVAĂ‘A

every night he sleeps for two hours, two hours shy from his first class, another two hours before he finishes his 60th book in the week: gone with the wind by margaret mitchell. as to how the plot unfolds, a string of pasts and presents, he might be deluded with the world of her words. but he persists, and last night, his saturday breather, is a breather for some more books to read, books unable to breathe in a dim cabinet in his apartment. the bask of fiction becomes real in the work of night chased by day, and he forgets it’s 6am when he opens his window blinds to greet his cactus breeds. the morning sun greets him and he greets back with a shy smile, checking the room empty aside from books and more books to come. he sleeps a little longer this time, his sunday rest, and he mourns for the sins of the reader the unfinished act of reading. he gets back to some creased chapter, and he loses himself until noon time calls, and again, the ritual of the sunday afternoon man begins. he takes a break from the litany of reading, he showers, takes mitchell inside a tote on the jeep after, and starts counting blocks until his shirt smells of meat, fish meat to be precise, and finally, citrus scent. his eyes squint at the squalor of fruitstands at bankerohan, the river alongside the busy streets named after it, a separation of bodies of land, the south a hotbed of infested robots swarming in on a sunday to get good bargains. santol, 50 pesos a kilo, rambutan 60, lanzones 45. the sunday afternoon man is the ritual of a slow-paced life, back-laden in the passing of time. he sees a girl inattentive of the fruits she sells, but he sees her holding a book,


an untamed picture, the dislocation of circumstances, ascribed to the daily ramblings of the mind, and yet it is real, that the girl, whose mother from the distance calls her “inday”, shouts words fainting under the logic of heat, must be murmurs for: a fixation for money, inday, the customer, the customer. a managed sigh, a meager halt, and inday meets eyes with the sunday afternoon man. the man doesn’t ask inday of langka, or the elusive durian, 125 pesos a kilo, not in season; he asks of slavery and inday asks, “huh?”, and he said, the book, roots. “ahh…alex haley.” “yes, what do you think of it?” the tears of paper fidget around the routinary touch of fingers idly playing without their mother. “no freedom, sir, like caged birds.” a battered romantic affair between sufferer and more sufferings. “a smart girl.” some touching of pomelo, weighing it, some more with the other fruits. the bag resting on his shoulder unhides mitchell and he gives it to her. “you like reading?” “yes, sir.” he pays for some bananas, some langka and he went home to start reading again. the next sunday he talks with the mother and learns more about inday, the shy girl who talks about flowers and their anguish of blooming, of petals withering at the behest of the sun’s happiness. he learns of the caged bird who sings in silence, speaks babbles, and go mum when not reading. more weeks and more months to come: a winter, but here, no snows, no hales, just the cold wind briskly soothing inday’s chest. she finally graduates high school. and he sends books, weekly, books his reading chair has had companionship with, books bidding byes and founding new


homes, permanent homes, for the mean time. when june comes, he said to her mother, inday will go to college. “but, sir, my husband only gets enough from the talyer.� he says no worries, she likes books, enjoys their company. so she hugs him, so tight he loses all of his nerves from fatigue, an everyday tradeoff just so he can read more. he says farewell for now, and the mother makes a gesture of conviviality. she hugs once more, and by june, inday went to college. in the months to come, they see each other beyond sight: inday grows in maturity with books, the man just grows old. but they persist in their own worlds: inday the holy redeemer of poverty, the old man of his memories of the world. he has written about the sun, the occasional showers of the sky, the empty roads at night, the foam framing the shape of water in the nearby sea. he interrupts his philosophical interrogations about the world only on sundays, and although he seldom meets inday now, he still eats fruits the same way he does each weekend: to speculate for the best produce, to talk about the farm with the vendors, to look at the sky as if looking at the mirror. such is the ritual of the sunday afternoon man, now hoping to finish all his books to give to some more reading kids, more hope from the loneliness of this city, more dreams for inday who must direly miss the market stands at bankerohan today.


The wind, the listener IAN DERF SALVAĂ‘A

Write what I know. Always the arguing disposition of the mind uncertain, crowded with thoughts only known to the heart, possibly unknowable to the world, unkempt in history, losing vivid images grasping to be pictured out. The walls are bleak in silence. Must’ve been the hardest truth in years, never contempt, never accepting of the wind creases of the window curtains. Their swings reserved, smooth as words of a poem locked out of imagination. Today is a rest day for the mind. The best time to space out, loosening grip on imagined thoughts for years I try to write not. But if failure is a friend, almost always it is in the form of poetry. Or maybe just lines busy making themselves poetic, the thinking thing behind the pen never really knowing what it is doing.


Perhaps, I have never figured out the room. And the verses the wind sings as it soothes the walls bleak in silence. I just knew now, in listening to it, that I have missed many words freeing random thoughts, pondering whether or not I am ready to write again. Write more of imagined thoughts, any thoughts, really, just thoughts to preoccupy the shrouded mind, the mindless mind. Any time now, a poem is born out of the mundane mind, this mindless mind minding the poetry of the outside life. The mind uncertain is a mind intent in listening to itself, as the sun waits for its last sunlight to visit the wind silently lingering inside the room. By the hint of the last remorse of breaths from the silent poet, the silent mind, thoughts uncertain, passing in time, light slips from the sky’s hidden haven.


The weary mind finally rests in the passing of another day. I must’ve been focused closing my eyes to see nothing but only a darkening outside, the color of a sparrow leeched in the lonely tree, the lonely wall bleaker now too. I finally begin to write, one word at a time, to let a sigh on paper, the ink the ruminations of the mind uncertain. What must be done at this hour is always a miracle, as was in the days that gathered the poet whole. Whatever poetry will be conceived by then, the only reader it will know will be the wind. The slow dance of the curtains tells me it is waiting.

Cateel, June 12, 2019


Tumaliktik after a long time IAN DERF SALVAĂ‘A

Zagajewski told me before that he no longer learns from philosophy, poetry and curiosity, and he has forgotten to write long lines of metaphors and onomatopoeias. * I forgive him because his time to dive into the waters of the past made him unchanging, immovable, and not the city, certainly not the town, not this small hill in Tumaliktik where I sit in the nearby cliff to watch the angry ocean. * It is not really angry, it’s just the Pacific, most of the time misunderstood for the breathing lungs of its riptide. In truth, it desperately needs more poetry than our senses can provide. It seeks solace from us. * The waters now are too far for it to reach this hill, where the leaves sleep during the day and pray of rain shower to the stars during the night. Since I left, fewer kangga tread the concrete roads with fruits, vegetables, others goods because no one wants to man carabaos anymore. *


I feel this by looking into the horizon, hearing no chirping birds and only the heat of the air coming from the sun. Zagajewski must know this: the rain has left us since the day I left for the city. * It must be that old philosophies are dying with the rain, as more people leave than do waves from the sea. It must also be that while people leave, the sea remains so curious to know when will they ever go back. * I have found my way back here to ebb in apology, to call the rain from the mountains, the river, the sea to come again and bless us with life.


The Pen indeed is mightier

For my dearest fellow Atenews colleagues, This one’s long overdue as I have been really occupied for the past year to even jot down a few lines for Banaag Diwa. But then, there’s that saying from a sage that goes: there’s always a time for everything under the heavens, (or more like it )… That recent “longest journey to hell” as I have been trying to describe it in just a few words was really a turning point for someone like me who have been doing human rights work through my writings for ages. Not for the worst, but for the best, and believe me, I really didn’t exactly wanted it that way (but who would?). It was shocking as it was life-threatening. But then I thought, God must have a plan, because as I was going through that torment, it was a faceoff with my God of justice. As I prayed and asked God to guide me through that tribulation as I did not have control over what could have happened in the next few hours when I did not have any idea where my tormentors were taking me, so many possibilities came to my mind. There are circumstances that we can never really say no, we cannot refuse… At that moment, never did it crossed my consciousness that something was afoot. When the ‘storm’ passed as it did quickly it seemed the way it came as fast, I still couldn’t believe it happened, and that I was still alive. Only when I was able to talk again to my dearest cousin and my family that it hit me so hard and left me breathless that I just had to let it out as I howled my emotions out, my anger foremost was uncontrollable. Then I realized that I have become the face and living testimony of the monstrosity of what many Mindanaoans thought as “friendly Martial Law” (kuno), as there have been countless victims of trumped-up charges leading to arrests with or without warrants, extrajudicial killing and disappearances happening in our midst, but sadly, a lot of Mindanao people did not want to believe at all that these are happening. Unfortunately, even many among my friends and so-called relatives who are all die-hard DDS still could not grasp the seriousness of our situation today


especially in Mindanao even I went through that ordeal. My case though was just one glaring example of abuse among police authorities and the military complex that seeks to intimidate and harass not only the media but mostly the advocates of Human Rights, justice and peace workers, and all of the critics of this administration. Though they tried to make us believe that the injustice and disrespect they did to me was just a case of “mistaken identity”, they just could not convince people of this lame excuse. It was plain and simple intimidation and malicious display of disrespect for a citizen who has been paying taxes that the government use against them, and for all the Filipinos who have been unjustly treated like criminals, outlaws and terrorists. In reality they are the ones terrorizing the citizens of this land. With their lies and deceit, they spread disinformation in a cowardly manner, hiding behind the banners of untruth that they painted on black cloth and on walls and running away to avoid being identified with their dastardly deed. Is that not an act that only COWARDS are capable of doing? Learning their lessons hard I will not pretend that I was not affected. Of course I was, but maybe, they too might have learnt some lessons there. They knew that I know I was their target, because they approached me without any hesitation, as if they knew exactly who they were after. The police made themselves look stupid with that concocted reason of making a ‘mistake’ of identifying me for someone else. They knew that. Still, even as I asserted my rights and my identity, they were just fool enough to think that I would just let them get their way without resistance, without asserting my rights. The CIDG as a whole is composed of brainless “officers” who are letting themselves be used as tools for persecution. There may be some really good elements from among them, but sorry to say all of them are besmirched by the dirty game being played by the greedy ones who are after cold cash. They could have thought that they can fool an ‘old woman’ who looked like she can be hauled off without any hitch. That’s underestimating an old lady, really. I may look vulnerable but definitely not easily duped. I learned during that “longest journey to hell” that all the lies they wanted me to believe did not stand up against the TRUTH that stare them on their faces. The LIE was clearly written on their faces such that they could not hide it. I did not have their numbers, in fact I was surrounded by almost a dozen burly men from the police and the military who I later surmised were all cowards


in the face of TRUTH. They did not have their uniforms on, nor did they properly onformed me of their identities. Isn’t that the work of weaklings? Were they afraid that an elderly can still remember names and faces easily? Uncouth, that’s what they were, like their commander-in-chief who has been unravelling his true character since day one in public office. Shame. Shame. When they took pictures of me at the airport, in every police station in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City, and took mugshots of me, I did not cringe or even tried to cover my face, because I know in my heart and in my whole being that I HAVE NOTHING to hide. But when I and the rest of the young media practitioners in Pagadian tried to take pictures of them, all of them disappeared like thieves in the night, afraid that their faces might be published and be seen as what they are: the cowards hiding behind the façade of so-called authority. Even the team leader of that biggest blunder in the history of CIDG did not want to appear before the video camera, for fear …of what? Plato had said it: “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” Indeed, it is. And that is the irony of this system that is run by men who are menacing when they are together, bearing arms of mass destruction and their ego inflated by their arrogance, but who are in reality afraid to face the truth, when they are by themselves, without the weapons they haughtily carry as they go about their wickedness. They would gang up on the physically weak, and feed on the materially poor, those whom they can easily intimidate and harass and overpower with their might, then beat their breasts when they make their innocent victims admit to the crimes forced on them. But alas, people are beginning to see these so-called authorities for what they really are: a bunch of nincompoops, pretending to be in authority. My dear colleagues, the military complex built by billions of pesos paid for by our taxes is being used by this despotic regime to spy and prey on its own citizens, the development workers, human rights advocates and simple folks among the very poor and marginalized. They are nothing but paper tigers of this despotic administration whose credibility is fast eroding. They are fed by corporate greed who wanted all the resources they could get their hands on to feed their lust for power. These are the plunderers of our environment using the so-called armed forces of the Philippines against those whom they vowed “to serve and protect”, the powerless, so that they can amass unlimited wealth at the expense of the people.


Just like before, I am all the more embolden to continue fighting for what is just, especially for my grandchildren and all the children of tomorrow who are being deprived of a better world that they deserved. My generation has been remiss of its responsibility, and we have allowed the destruction of the world that we only borrowed from the next generation. Shame on us!! That is why I will continue to denounce and fight this barbaric administration and join the rest of the Filipino masses in holding this regime accountable for its misdeeds, not only against my person but for all the innocent victims who are voiceless in our midst.

So help me God.

Margarita Valle Atenews Alumna

They uttered in echoes Photo by Ian Derf SalvaĂąa

They uttered in echoes Photo by Ian Derf SalvaĂąa


They uttered in echoes An ode to the unforeseen: night crawling in the bamboo floors, sleeping with the snores of the Badjao, quiet, still quiet, like Amihan’s winds, never whimpering with the cold feet of the kids as they dream of a clean ocean, a foam of sea forming, cleansing the sins of displacement. The water only hums in the nearby shoreline, a distant lover of the moon, a temporary luminance of quiet, still quiet life, as in the night, the Badjao sleep, tamed, dreams untamed and singing, becoming void-less, loud, louder, as the foam shrinks back to its skin and shapes how the shores listen, voice never whisper-thin, in the echoes of hope tomorrow.








63 64

“Kita kita� Nakita nakong apektado kaayo kita sa sistema nga gaguba sa atong kinaiyahan... Kita-kita ra pud ang nagbuhat niini og apektado paglabi Nakit-an nako ang nawong sa tawo nga naapektado kaayo niining problemmaha -- ang atong mga kaigsuonang bajau (mga sea indigenous people).




Nibuhat ko’g akoang sariling bangka gamit ang basurarang tsinelas. Way pampalit og dulaan maong ako-a ning binuhat. Makita man siguro nimo hugaw na ang dagat. Apan paunsa nalang ni makalarga akong barko kung daghang galaray nga basura sa dagat? Unsaon taman wa may disiplina ang tao. Dula nalang ta’g padayon!


Unya nakita nako ang isa kairing na perting kaon ug lamaw na gilabay dapit sa dagat. Gikaon intawon kini kauban sa mga ginagmayn basura og giingkit sagol ang ubang pagkaon. Kaluoy sa iring, apektado sa problema karon.


Ngisi gihapon miski magkina-unsa: miski maghugaw ang silong na dagat, ngisi lang. Miski grabe ang pag-antos sa kapobrehon, ngisi lang. Miski pa nagkagamay ang paglaum, ngisi lang. Ngisi gihapon miski naglisod kita. Kit-an nimo ming mga bata, kami apektado pag-ayo sa inyong binuhatan.


69 Atubangi mi og ubani mi para makabalo mo kung unsa kalisod ang kinabuhing pobre og apektado pag-ayo. Kit-an tika naglabay og basura sa dagat, kit-an tika se’g palit og di man pud kinahanglan.

70 Mubalik gihapon ko sa akong balay -- ang akong mahal nga dagat. Hubo nga mubalik pabalik sa balay. Nakit-an nako sa dagat ang paglaum magpadayon mabuhi og ang kasakit sa epekto sa pagkaguba sa atong kadagatan.






Silang naghihintay sa pagbabalik ng kanilang mga magulang, si Kuya muna ang kakandong at sa duyan muna sisilong.


Silang tumatakbo na hila-hila ang lubid na nakatali sa laruang kotse.


Silang bilad sa araw at ang makikitid na taytay ang kanilang buong palaruan.



Silang sanay sa larong kalye at sanay na rin sa tambak na basura sa mga kalye nila.


Silang malapad at walang alintanang ngumiti sa harap ng aking lente.



Silang mga anak ng Isla Verde, Boulevard na sa gilid ng taytay, at sa ilalim ng tindahan naglalaro ng baraha tuwing umaga.



Limos Photo by Rodrigo Pastor Jr.




Limos Photo by Rodrigo Pastor Jr.


“Kimud” - mandaya dialect for “Youngest Child” Photo by Rodrigo Pastor Jr.



Langoy para sa Kaugmaon Photo by Rodrigo Pastor Jr.




Langoy para sa Kaugmaon Photo by Rodrigo Pastor Jr.


“Good”jao Photo by Rodrigo Pastor Jr.


untitled Photo by Rodrigo Pastor Jr.


Brunch Rr

The dining table is long and silent, the room was lit bright by the sun from an open window in front of me that made our dining floor looked like a field of pale yellow gumamelas, marking that it is almost afternoon. I sat lenient on my chair almost shocked by the bounty of food we have for breakfast, I can hear Mama running around busy putting more food on the table, one dish after another... “naghinuktok paman ka diha manang, kaon na!” she said grinning, while putting scoops of newly-cooked rice on my plate. She looked proud than ever, maybe because I never liked mais na kan-on, and what was in front of me right now… is not mais na kan-on. She told us before that we can only afford mais na kanon because it is way cheaper than other varieties of rice. Today must’ve been sweldo, but I find it hard to believe, when most days we fought-fully share over bulad, and times where toyo og mantika cloys to the tongue as it is mixed with mais na kan-on. My chest suddenly tightened; I’d rather have toyo og mantika in front of me right now... “Mama!!” A loud cry raised that got me jolted on my seat. The cry was coming from a plywood separation that divides our dining room and the room that was behind me. “Dili na lagi ko muusab...” It was my younger sister wailing an indistinct plea as she continued crying. Mama turned to me almost unbothered, “Nya dai? Dili ka mukaon, kay ikaw juy musunod saimong manghod, sige ka!” then quickly turn around to continue chopping cuts of chicken meat on the banggera. I look down the dining table with confusion, what should I eat first? I feel heavily pressured and was about to cry. The steam dissipating from the rice that is on my plate is irritating me, I now hated 7 tonner. I decided to quickly reach for the hotdogs, since it was the nearest. My eyes were teary and I promptly closed them drawing the tears back in, successfully. I took a bite, and the taste was an illusion. It‟s like one of those days where me and my sister tries to figure out the taste of hotdogs on the television advertisements… I took another bite, none… and another, and ano-- it tastes nothing... Then, a loud thud cut through my denial, my body jerked to face the noise. “Mama tabang!” “Tabangi ko!” I saw my sister crying and bruised in the face, “Agay!” This time, her voice was helpless, “Agay” a man was holding her by the neck. “Way ayo ni imong kamanghuran...” The man exclaimed as he heedfully gazes into my direction, “kana siya...” almost whispering and eyes are preying, “Kana nalang imong dalaga, doblehon nakong bayad pangkonsumo ninyo.” He said eagerly. I was left sitting frozen and my tears came uninvited. Mama didn’t speak a sound. She never looked proud than ever. I look back down the dining table, I knew today isn’t sweldo. “Dili ko ani... gusto kug toyo og mantika.”


“Bugaw” Karl Quilal-lan Mama rested her palm on my cheek, and papa watched as he basked at the corner. An unfathomable affection, mama’s gestures always were. Though flawed in grace, they always posed ever powerful as an amenity. Papa may distance himself, but I can still feel his care. Through the crescent smiles he offers, I know. We were never blessed with coin and land. We were penurious in wealth, the four of us. We could have avoided our state of destitute if the loving Father opted not in taking Ate. Our family fled the city when we heard of her passing, we couldn’t afford a life there without her. With tears flowing with the harsh rain as each drop fled my face, I was with my parents in their plight as they sought for a new home in the timberland, in the mountainous provinces where we hoped for a prosperous beginning. Ate was kind to me just as mama was – but, only to me. Her attitude towards our parents were deplorable, especially towards mama. Mama never did anything to amend whatever sin she kept, nor did Ate. Oftentimes, she’ll yell at mama for trying to embrace me. I was confused for I didn’t know what reason, and I cradled with such ignorance until I bled like Eve. “A precious flower”, mama told me “a fragile, fragile thing”. She said that to me when I froze in shock at the sight of blood beneath the loose, dirtywhite apparel adhered from my shoulders. I asked what was wrong, and she soothed my worried mind when she assured me that it was a part of the woman’s design, as prosaic as the loving Father intended. That day, I wished to share such experience with Ate, but she was absent in her usual dwelling. I inquired papa of her whereabouts, but he didn’t answer. Rather, he asked me to make a turn. “A lovely dress” I thought to myself. I was proud he noticed my newly-sewn kirtle. I teased him, I said no. “I said turn!”, papa yelled. I was shocked when he insisted, I smelt his drunk breath as it reached my face. A tear left my eye as I obeyed. I took a turn, and I saw mama. Little to my knowledge, she was just there peeking, eavesdropping through the tiny holes on the wood-knotted wall separating the room where papa and I was. I was taken aback by her passivity. I thought she would rush to my side to comfort me. That night, I had a terrible nightmare. It must have been due to how mortified I was when papa looked at me with strange eyes as I twirled in front of him.


I dreamt about Ate leaving. I saw a long rope in her grip. I saw myself lying on a wet ground with my hands tied on mama’s feet. Mama’s face blocked the sun’s light, she was standing right above me – strong, as the great old mango tree at the back of our house. It was very strange, it made me so uneasy. Then, I felt a slight pull on my waist. As I looked south, I saw Ate on the edge of a cliff beside a highway. It was far away, but I could tell. Such fantasy felt so genuine. I blinked to clear my eyes, and Ate’s figure became clear. I could see Ate’s neck shackled with the rope that was on her grip. My eyes followed the other end of such baleful lace, and I found it tightly fettered on my waist, thus the erstwhile pull. “I’m sorry”, Ate muttered. I couldn’t hear it in my dream, but I can tell from how she moved her lips. I yelled her name to halt her intention. “Shhhh!”, mama whispered – and Ate jumped. I heard the tremors on the ropes, then I heard my spine break. I screamed as I witnessed my hip tear, hurrying towards where Ate fell – but I woke up. My eyes opened before I could cease my shout, for alive as I am, I never knew what death was like. As I tried to calm myself from my abrupt rising, the sun greeted my face. The heat thawed the cold preserved under my bareness, when I threw my blanket off during such horrible dream. Just a moment after my tranquil resolve, I heard faint rumbling on the ground – wheels! From a motor tricycle. I was curious, I had a thought that it was Ate finally coming home, a revenant I so longed to see. My hopes were forfeit as my eyes met with the three men just hopping out of the carriage. “Morning, darling. Is your father home?”, asked the smallest among the three strangers. “Papa said I dare not talk to strangers”. After my reply, I heard a chuckle on my back. I looked, and I saw papa coming our way. “Papa taught you well. Now, run along”, papa jested. So, I reckoned he knew them. As I slowly left the three men in papa’s company, I heard the biggest one whistle through his lips. I was scared, and so I hastened my pace. “Is that who you told us?”, though faint, I heard the small one as he asked. I heard no further after the question, I was adequately far to have my peace. I walked towards the river. Such a harsh morning demanded a winding down.


As I arrived, I hurried to drown my worries in the waters, and take solace in my morning bath. I sank bare in the cold bluish lake, and I wondered what those three men’s business was with my father. The big one had a frightful gaze, and the small one had a big mouth and a rather funny voice. Those two were freaks compared to the other one, who was featly and meek in demeanor. Their features became even clearer when I saw them nearing the lake. I saw papa coming with them. He was talking to them things I guessed were about me. They were watching me as they drew closer, and I was mortified for I was nude. I hastened towards my garments, and I changed in the shallow part close to the serried concealing verdures. I rose from the bank with sodden clothing. Papa walked towards me, offering a warm towel. I asked papa why they came to fetch me in such a volume the three men would not notice. “These men are just here to talk about your Ate” Papa whispered. Though relieved upon the unraveling of the strangers’ motives, I still suspected unborn atrocity. At last, we arrived home. Papa was with me while the three followed our way. Apparently, they just escorted me back home. Mama was nowhere my sight as I entered. I was a little excited for whatever would be served. “Mama!”, I hollered “guests are here”. “Come now, love”, papa said “Mama has something for you”.Forth came mama, from the mess we call kitchen. She was holding a plate carrying four cups of cheap coffee. “Let’s head at the back”, she addressed the visitors “I prepared a table”. A small and rather cozy table was set outside under the shade of the great old mango tree. Five chairs were gathered round. Apparently, mama wasn’t joining. I enjoyed the coffee mama served. I was never allowed to drink one before, mama probably thinks I’m a big girl now. I observed the others around the table, and I just saw papa and the three guests sitting still, leaving their drink grow cold. Just as I placed my empty cup in the mat, I heard the small one taking a loud inhale as if something they have waited was finally over. “Now, now!”, the big one broke the silence. “We’re here to talk about your sister”, said the small one – or so I thought. Drowsiness kicked in, and I started to feel weaker than when I was heavily sick.


Artwork by Fe Lourence Valente


My head tilted forward, and I hit the table hard with my forehead as I fell. I was slightly conscious when I saw the gentleman, the handsome one among the three, taking me into his arms. He carried me inside my papa’s daybed. He placed me gently, and he gracefully stood away from the cheap cot as he reached towards the drawer where papa keeps his stolen fiddle. “Lie softly, dear”, he said. He placed the violin on his broad shoulder. As the bow reached the pinnacle of its perfect placement, he delivered a tender stroke and in clemency for my state, played a melancholic tune. Then, everyone came in. The small one shook papa’s hand, and the big one handed him an envelope of which I presume was containing money. Both the hideous-looking strangers started to strip. I was frightened of what they would do, but I couldn’t move. I was awake, yet I was asleep, and I couldn’t begin to comprehend what was happening to me. The small one rashly climbed the bed, harshly placing himself on top of me. He pressed his weight, and his lips went straight to my right ear. “Do pray, dear”, the small one whispered “for I am huge”. The small one started moving, and I gasped. It hurt like the pain I imagined when my hip was torn from my body as Ate jumped off the cliff beside the highway in my dream. I couldn’t help but shed tears, it was the only thing I could do. I was so angry, but I could only exhibit a moue of distaste at the display of the small one’s repulsive visage. I asked myself where the loving Father was, his angels and the saints we had on frames on the wooden altar just above my head. I looked left, and I saw the gentle one playing papa’s fiddle with eyes closed, a hint of pensiveness in the passivity of his expression. I looked right, and I saw the big one with a hefty grin as he stood in wait for his turn. I saw both my parents counting the payment for their daughter’s flesh. I tried to cry out, I must have been laboring under the delusion that mama and papa would come to my aid, despite my ungodly knowledge that such predicament I was in was born from their plots. The small one licked my face, from jaw to temple, as he pulled out. Then, it was the big one’s turn. He was on me, and I could hardly breathe. This must have been Ate’s fate, and there when I was being defiled, I had the outrageous thought that she took her life. No wonder how bad a daughter was she towards my parents, she must have suffered this over and over until she couldn’t take it anymore. No wonder she gets angry whenever mama


tried to pull me close to her, she was being protective of her little sister. Now, the sharks turn on me. I was ripe for the taking, papa saw that. As I was desecrated, I wished I was not a woman. I wished both Ate and I were a man in a man’s world. I doubted the Father’s benevolence. Was He ever this loving? I asked myself, that He put mama and papa on earth and tasked them to my care. I knew we were impoverished, and we really needed the money – but, I was their daughter! Someone they should have loved, someone they should always protect. Yet, they betrayed me. “Oh, my girl” I heard mama’s voice. “a fragile, fragile thing” I looked slightly downwards with the strength I could muster, and I saw mama coming towards me. Her presence was drawing nigh, but I never was relieved. The melancholic tone slowly shifted to a spine- chilling tune, and as it did, the big one went faster. I stretched my neck out for air. I hardly indulged an inhale knowing that each breath would only prolong my pain. Ate must have known that too, that while she lives, she’ll feel the violation. I glared towards mama, then she rested her palm on my cheek, and papa watched as he basked at the corner.


Magkaibang Gutom Matthew Van Michael Lapiz

Alas nwebe na ng gabi ngunit wala pang laman ang tiyan ni Benji. Namumutla siya at tila nahihilo nang kaunti. Naririnig niya ang malakas na tunog gawa ng kanyang tiyan. Alas tres pa ng hapon nang huli siyang nakatikim ng pagkain at pandesal lamang ito. Naging abala siya sa pag-aaral buong araw kaya hindi niya namalayang wala pa siyang kain bago magsimula ang kanyang pagsusulit. “Hmm… Amoy na amoy ko na ang paborito kong Adobong Manok.” sabi ni Benji sa sarili. Adobong Manok ang paboritong putahe ni Benji kapag ipinagluluto siya ng kanyang Mama Fe. Sumagi rin sa isipan niya ang kapares nitong mainit-init na kanin at malamig na Iced Tea. Parang nalalasahan na niya ang mga ito kaya sumigla ang kanyang puso at naging mabilis ang mga hakbang niya papalabas ng paaralan. Maya-maya ay narating ni Benji ang Molave Avenue ngunit napansin niyang wala na ang rutang sinasakyan pauwi. “Hays! Sa may kanto ng Kalye Narra na lang ako sasakay ng jeep.” sabi ni Benji sa sarili. Malayo-layo ang sakayang ito kaya dumaan si Benji sa eskinita ng Tatlong Bituin. Tatlo lamang ang posteng may ilaw rito at magkalayo ang bawat poste sa isa‟t isa. Parang mga bituin ang ilaw ng bawat poste sa malayo kaya tinawag itong Tatlong Bituin. Madilim ang eskinita sa pagitan ng tatlong poste dahil hindi nito kayang ilawan ang buong eskinita. Dahil dito, walang taong dumaraan dito sa gabi. Makipot ito ngunit mahaba. Kahit ganito ang Tatlong Bituin, mas mabilis makararating si Benji sa kanto ng Kalye Narra kung tatahakin niya ito. Matulin pa rin ang paglalakad ni Benji ngunit may nabangga siyang batang lalaki sa kanyang pagmamadali. “Sorry.” sabi ni Benji sa bata. Nasa pagitan ng siyam hanggang labing-isa ang edad ng bata. Nangangayayat at nangangamoy-basura ito. Gutay-gutay ang t-shirt niya at mas malaki pa sa katawan niya. Butas- butas naman ang gilid ng kanyang shorts. May alambreng nakatali sa kanyang mga tsinelas para hindi maputol ang kanyang tsinelas.


“Kuya, pwede bang humingi ng pera o kahit pagkain?” sabi ng batang lalaki habang inaabot ang kamay kay Benji. “Sorry ha. Wala kasi akong pera o pagkain. Kailangan ko nang umuwi.” sagot ni Benji. Mas naging mabilis ang paglalakad ni Benji at hindi na siya lumilingon kahit saan. “Teka, kuya!!!” tawag ng bata. Nagbingi-bingihan si Benji at pinagpatuloy ang paglalakad. Laking gulat niya nang napansing nakabuntot sa kanya ang batang lalaki. “Bakit ka ba sunod nang sunod sa „kin?!! Di ba sabi ko wala nga akong maibibigay sa iyo!!!” sigaw ni Benji. “Kuya, kailangan ko lang talaga ng konting pera at pagkain kasi may sakit ang tatay ko at wala kaming pangkain.” pagmamakaawa ng bata. Tumalikod agad si Benji at umalis. Makalipas ang ilang segundo, lumingon siya at labis na lang ang kaba sa kanyang dibdib nang malaman niyang nakasunod pa rin ang bata sa kanya. Isa lang ang naisip niya sa mga sandaling ito… ang tumakbo. Tumakbo siya na parang walang nararamdamang pagod at pagkahilo. “Dios ko, tulungan niyo po ako. Sana „di na po ako habulin ng batang iyon.” sabi ni Benji habang tumatakbo. Tila nagkaroon ng isang marathon sa Tatlong Bituin dahil naguunahan si Benji at ang bata makarating sa kanto. Walang gustong tumigil dahil desido ang bawat isang maabot ang kanto. Nang makita ang huling posteng may ilaw, nagpahinga muna si Benji dahil alam niyang malapit na siya sa kanto. Hingal na hingal siya at mabilis rin ang pagtulo ng pawis sa kanyang katawan. “Hay Salamat!!!” sabi ni Benji nang mapansing wala na ang batang humahabol sa kanya. Maya-maya ay may biglang humawak sa kanang braso niya. “AAHHH!!!” nanginginig na sigaw ni Benji. Bumitaw ang batang lalaki sa pagkahawak niya sa braso ni Benji. “Wag mo „kong sasaktan.” paluhang sinabi ni Benji. “Di kita sasaktan, kuya. Kailangan ko lang ng tulong niyo kahit konting pagkain man lang o pera para sa pamilya ko.” sabi ng bata.


Nanlisik ang mga mata ni Benji, “Di ako naniniwala sa sinasabi mo! Maraming modus ang mga sindikato ngayon at baka isa ka sa kanila. Posible ring gagamitin mo lang ang pera sa droga o rugby.” Nagmakaawa muli ang bata, “Totoo ang sinasabi ko kuya. Maawa naman kayo.” “HINDI!!! Di kita bibigyan ng pera!” sigaw ni Benji. Hindi nakaimik ang batang lalaki. Yumuko lang siya nang tumalikod si Benji. Hindi na siya gumalaw mula sa kinatatayuan niya. Nang marating ni Benji ang kanto, may bagay na biglang lumagapak sa kalsada. “DIOS KO PO!!!” sigaw ni Benji. Nakahandusay na ang batang lalaki sa gilid ng eskinita at walang malay. Hindi mapakali si Benji dahil nag-aalinlangan siyang tulungan ang bata. Maaaring sisihin siya nito sa nangyari o hindi kaya‟y nagpapanggap lang ang bata para perahan siya. Sampung metro lang ang layo niya mula sa bata at tinitigan niya ito nang mabuti. Nasabi ni Benji sa sarili niya, “Malapit na ako sa Kalye Narra at wala namang tao rito. Walang makakaalam kung iiwan ko lang iyan dito.” Sa mga sandaling iyon, panay tulo ng pawis ni Benji sa kanyang mga pisngi at leeg. Nanginginig din ang kanyang mga kamay at mabilis ang pagtibok ng kanyang puso. Naghalo na lahat ng nararamdaman niya mula sa gutom, pagod, kaba, at takot. “Bahala na!” sabi ni Benji. Humakbang si Benji pabalik sa bata at tinapik niya ito. Nang hindi nagising ang bata, binuhat niya ito at dali-daling naghanap ng taxi. “Sa San Pablo Hospital po tayo. Pakibilisan lang po.” sabi ni Benji sa drayber ng taxi. Habang nasa taxi sila, pinahiga niya ang bata sa balikat niya at nakatingin lang siya rito. Labis ang pag-aalala niya para sa batang lalaki. Nagsasabi nga ng totoo ang bata at pakiramdam niyang kasalanan niya kung bakit ito nawalan ng malay. Makalipas ang tatlumpung minuto, “Sir, nandito na po tayo.” sabi ng drayber. “Salamat po.” sabay abot ni Benji ng bayad sa pamasahe.


Agad binaba ng mga nars ang batang lalaki mula sa taxi at inihatid sa emergency room para maasikaso agad. Umupo lang si Benji sa tapat ng bata habang hinihintay ang doktor. “Ikaw ba ang naghatid sa bata rito?” tanong ng isang doktor habang papalapit kay Benji. Tumango si Benji at nagsalita, “Okay na po ba siya, dok?” “Nawalan ng malay ang bata dahil sa dehydration at walang kain. Kailangan niyang magpahinga muna, makakain ng hapunan at marehydrate.” paliwanag ng doktor “Salamat po dok.” tugon ni Benji. “Alam mo, maswerte ang batang iyan at nakilala ka niya dahil, di mo siya pinabayaan sa kalsada.” sabi ng doktor. Hindi sumagot si Benji at ngumiti lang nang kaunti dahil natigilan siya sa mga sinabi ng doktor. Napagtanto niyang ang magkaiba ang gutom na kanyang iniinda sa nararamdaman ng batang lalaki. “Anak!!!” tawag ng isang babae. Lumingon si Benji at nakita niya ang kanyang mga magulang. Kani-kanina lang ay ipinaalam niya ang mga nangyari sa telepono kaya agad silang pumunta sa ospital. Umupo sila sa tabi niya. “Ma, hinusgahan ko siya. Inuna ko iyong sarili ko kaya, di maalis sa isip kong kasalanan ko to.” sabi ni Benji. “Ang importante, nak, di mo siya pinabayaan sa kalsada.” sabi ni Fe. “Ang mabuti pa umuwi ka na Benji at ako na ang maiiwan dito sa ospital. Galing ka pa sa exam at siguradong pagod ka na. Wala pang laman ang tiyan mo kaya sumama ka na sa mama mo.” payo ni Jun. Tumanggi si Benji sa alok ng ama. Walang nagawa ang kanyang mga magulang. Umuwi na lang ang mga ito ngunit binayaran na nila ang gastusin sa ospital. “Heto. Kunin mo „to panghapunan mo.” sabi ni Jun sabay abot ng 500 pesos kay Benji. Tinanggap ni Benji ang pera kahit sapat pa ang pera sa kanyang pitaka. Naiwan siya sa tabi ng bata. Hindi niya alam saan nanggagaling ang nararamdaman niyang pag-aalala sa batang lalaki. Para sa kanya, hindi naman


sila magkakilala o magkamag-anak ng bata pero labis ang kanyang pag-aalala rito. Maya-maya ay nakatulog na siya sa kanyang upuan habang binabantayan ang batang lalaki. Makalipas ang ilang oras… “Ba‟t ako nandito? Anong nangyari?” sabi ng bata. Laking gulat ng batang lalaki dahil akala niya ay namamalikmata lang siya at wala talaga siya sa isang ospital. Pagkabangon niya, mas ikinagulat niyang makita ang lalaking ilang beses siyang tinanggihan, tinalikuran, at tinakbuhan. Unti-unti niyang naalala ang mga nangyari kaya dali-dali siyang tumayo sa kama at umalis sa kwarto. Hindi niya napansing napalakas ang pagsara niya sa pinto kaya nagising si Benji. Agad hinanap ni Benji ang batang lalaki at mabilis na tumakbo papalabas ng ospital. Namataan niyang naglalakad ang bata. “Teka muna! Sa‟n ka pupunta?” sabi ni Benji habang papalapit sa bata. Lumingon ang bata at sumagot, “Kuya, uuwi na ako sa amin. Siguradong hinahanap na ako ng nanay at tatay ko.” “Bago ka umalis, kumain muna tayo.” sabi ni Benji. “Sigurado kayo?” sabi ng batang tila naguguluhan sa mga pangyayari. Tumango si Benji, “Dito ka lang ha. Sasabihan ko lang ang nurse na aalis na tayo.” Nakaupo lang sa gilid ang batang lalaki nang makabalik si Benji mula sa loob ng ospital. “Tara! May lugawan malapit dito.” sabi ni Benji. Limang kanto ang tinahak nila para makarating sa Lugawan ni Nay Maria. Sa kanilang paglalakad, hindi umiimik ang batang lalaki at nakasunod lang siya kay Benji na parang asong sinasamahan ang amo nito sa paglalakad. Tahimik lang din si Benji dahil alam niyang hindi siya kakausapin ng bata. Nang makarating sa lugawan, nagkatinginan ang mga customer dahil sa batang kasama ni Benji. Nahiya ang bata at nagdadalawang-isip dahil baka paalisin lang siya sa lugawan. “Hayaan mo na sila. Umupo na tayo.” sabi ni Benji. Umupo agad sila sa isang mesang may dalawang upuang magkaharap sa isa‟t isa. “Dalawang lugaw at dalawang iced tea po, ate.” order ni Benji.


Nakatingin lang ang bata kay Benji ngunit hindi na niya napigilan ang sarili kaya bigla siyang nagsalita. “Kuya, ba‟t niyo ako tinutulungan? „Di ba ayaw niyo akong tulungan kanina?” sabi ng bata. Napainom ng tubig si Benji at huminga nang malalim. Kanina pa niya iniisip kung paano kakausapin ang batang lalaki at paano siya hihingi ng tawad dito. Naisipan niyang magpakilala muna sa bata. “Ako pala si Benji Generoso. Kuya Benji na lang. Ikaw?” pakilala ni Benji. “Efren Asuncion.” sagot ng bata. “Efren, di ko maalis na mag-alala sa‟yo dahil kasalanan ko kung bakit ka nawalan ng malay. Kung tinulungan lang kita kaagad, baka nasa bahay ka na ninyo kumakain.” “Naku, wala „yon. Sanay na akong tinatanggihan at „di pinapansin.” Lalong nalungkot si Benji dahil naramdaman niya ang paghihirap na dinaranas ni Efren. “Sorry pala sa ginawa ko kanina. Naging mapanghusga ako at makasarili. Mas inisip kong sasaktan mo ako at nadala ako ng takot ko.” “Pasensya rin, Kuya, kasi hinabol ko kayo at kinulit-kulit. Kailangan ko lang talaga ng tulong.” Inihatid na ang order nilang lugaw at dali-daling kumain si Benji. Mainitinit pa ang lugaw ngunit naubos agad ni Benji ito dahil sa gutom. Sa kanyang pagmamadaling kumain, hindi niya napansin na kaunti lang ang kinain ni Efren. Halos kalahati pa ang nasa bowl ni Efren kaya gulat na gulat si Benji. “Efren, bakit „di mo ubusin ang lugaw mo? Gutom ka di ba?” Napakamot ng ulo si Efren at humingi ng cellophane. “Bakit mo pa ilalagay sa cellophane?” “Para po sa pamilya ko, Kuya. Mas kailangan nila ang pagkain kaysa sa akin.” Hindi nakasagot si Benji. Nakita niyang sa murang edad ni Efren, mas inuuna na nito ang kapakanan ng pamilya kaysa sa sarili. “Ilan ba kayo sa pamilya?”


“Lima po kami. Ako, si nanay, si tatay, si Neneng, at si Juan, ang pinakabata kong kapatid.” Agad umorder si Benji ng limang lugaw para ibigay kay Efren pauwi sa kanila. “Ubusin mo na iyan. „Wag ka nang mahiya.” “Maraming salamat po.” Nang makuha na ang mga order, umalis na sina Benji at Efren. “Samahan na kita pauwi. Madaling araw na rin kaya delikadong mag-isa.” “Wag na po.” Nagpumilit pa rin si Benji kaya pumayag na rin si Efren. “Sa Bonifacio po ako nakatira. Malapit lang dito.” sabi ni Efren. Ilang minuto na ang lumipas ngunit hindi ito napansin nina Benji at Efren dahil patuloy sila sa pag-uusap tungkol sa buhay ng isa‟t isa. “Nandito na po tayo.” sabi ni Efren habang patuloy sila sa paglalakad. “Dito?” tanong ni Benji na napaisip kung saan ang bahay ng bata. Tumango ang bata at dali-daling tumakbo papalapit sa isang pamilyang nakahiga sa kalsada ng Bonifacio. Nakahiga ang tatay ni Efren at humihilik habang natutulog. Tila nilalamig ang tatay ni Efren kaya nakayakap sa kanya si Neneng na tulog rin. Nagpapadede naman ang nanay niya kay Juan. “Nay, may dala akong pagkain para sa inyo. Kain na po tayo.” sabi ni Efren. “Sino siya?” tanong ng nanay ni Efren. “Tinulungan po niya ako, Nay. Siya si Kuya Benji. ” Ngumiti si Benji at nakinig lang sa mag-ina. “Nilalagnat pa rin ang tatay mo. Kailangan niya ng gamot, nak.” “Pakainin muna natin si tatay.” Labis na nadurog ang puso ni Benji sa mga narinig niya kaya kumuha


siya ng dalawang 500 pesos mula sa pitaka niya para iabot sa pamilya ni Efren. Ang isang 500 pesos ay kanyang ipon para sa damit na nais niyang bilhin para sa kanyang kaarawan at ang isang 500 pesos ay ang iniwan na pera ng mga magulang niya kanina. “Alam kong maliit lang to sa mga pangangailangan niyo pero tanggapin niyo na po bilang tulong ko sa inyo.” alok ni Benji. “Sir, maraming salamat po. May mababait pa palang tao sa mundo.” sabi ng nanay. Napaiyak ang nanay ni Efren at niyakap nito si Benji. “Naku, wala po yon.” sagot ni Benji. Dahan-dahang tumulo ang luha mula sa mga mata ni Benji nang hindi niya napapansin. Labis ang kanyang nararamdamang awa at lungkot para sa pamilya ni Efren. “Kailangan ko na pong umalis.” sabi ni Benji. Nagpaalam na ang mag-ina kay Benji at agad binuksan ang lugaw na dala nina Efren at Benji. Nakarating na sa sakayan si Benji. Ngayon, mas nanaig ang saya sa puso niya dahil natulungan niya ang isang pamilyang nangangailangan. Pumara na siya ng jeep nang may tumawag sa kanya. “KuyaBenji!!!” Lumingon si Benji at hindi tumuloy sa pagsakay sa jeep. Tumakbo si Efren papalapit sa kanya at niyakap siya nang mahigpit ng bata. “Maraming salamat, kuya!” Umiyak si Efren sa harap ni Benji. Si Benji naman ang yumakap sa batang umiiyak. “Efren, „wag ka nang umiyak. Pangako, di pa ito ang huli nating pagkikita.”


“That Night in Nineteen Ninety-Nine” Gian Paolo Celis Mallo

I remember the year 1999 where I have admired someone throughout my college life. I‟ve never got a chance to talk to him since we‟ve never been classmates in every minor subject, but when that night came, it was totally unforgettable. We both studied at the same university, but we took courses differently. I was in AB Communication Arts while he’s in BS Industrial Engineering. That night, it was only us who are walking and if only the stars could have a picture of that moment, I would ask for them. Everything was so simple back in 1999. How about I rewind the tape for you. There was a house party on that night and everyone, including my friends and I are having fun while the Backstreet Boys are blasting throughout the speakers. Some of us are singing their songs out loud while holding a red cup. We don’t care if we spill some juice on the floor while dancing the played disco hits. One thing that I noticed in the party is that he was there, dancing on the floor. I continue to dance until I accidentally bump on him. “Oh, I‟m sorry.” I apologized to him. Instead of giving me a reply, he flashed a grin on his face. When the party was over, most of us got drunk except me. I slowly packed my things and bid farewell to my friends. I carried my backpack and walked towards the front door. As I open the door, I freeze for an instant when I see him standing in front of me. Our eyes met for the second time after I accidentally bumped him during the dance. “Um, hi.” I greeted. “You want some?” He offered me a can of beer. “I don‟t drink.” I replied. “You should, especially that you‟re already 20.” He said in his deep voice. “No thanks.” “Come on! Just a sip.” “I told you, I don‟t.” “Okay, as you wish.” He let me pass through him and then I walked away from the house. As I walk in this empty street, I enjoy the silence that the night brings. Above me is the countless stars that twinkle in the dark sky. Later on, I heard him calling me.


“Hey you!” I started to walk as fast as I can. While I continued walking, I accidentally tripped my leg and fell on the ground. Then, I heard an approaching footstep. When I turn my head upwards, I see him offering his hand to me. I grab his hand and he lifts me from the ground. I brush the dirt out of my jeans and then I begin to talk. “It‟s you again.” “Be careful next time, will you?” He said. “Let me take you home.” When he offered me to walk with him, I considered resisting but why should I resist on something that may not happen again after this night? “Is it okay for you to help a stranger like me?” I asked him. “Where is your house anyway?” He gave me a question instead of a reply. “Um, I don‟t live in this area.” “Then maybe I can take you to the road where you can ride a cab to your house.” There is something strange in him on why he suddenly offered me a walk. I wasn‟t that pretty for him to accompany me. “I’m just a stranger okay.” I start to walk away from him but he blocked my way. “I do not mean to bother you but I just want someone to talk to.” He said. I paused for a while and I thought of why he wants to talk to me. I guess his friends were drunk. There are no people in the street except us. This is the moment that I‟ve been dreaming of, walking together with him in the silence of the night. While we are walking, we had some small conversations like introducing ourselves and the course we took. It’s awkward to talk to him at first, but in the end, I feel comfortable. “You know, you‟re a good dancer.” He’s referring to what happened earlier when I accidentally bumped him while dancing. “Oh no, I’m not! I just feel the rhythm while dancing.” I said. “How come I don’t see you much around the campus?” He asked. “Because we have different class schedules and there are a lot of students inside the campus.”


“Is Communication Arts, an easy course?” I was shocked when he asked me that kind of question. “How can you tell that it’s easy?” I gave him a question instead of an answer. “I don’t know. I just heard it from my friends.” “There is no easy course. They’re all the same.” I said. “Don’t ask mine either because obviously.” I know what he meant. Engineering is not as easy as a preschool math. “How lucky that you were about to graduate while here I am, I have one more year to take.” “Just continue studying and then you‟ll have that toga.” “I hope so.” He flashed a grin on his face again like what I saw earlier. “You know, I like your smile.” “What did you say?” I shouldn‟t compliment things like that because he might think that I have a crush on him. How stupid I am! “Um, I mean the song by Shanice.” “I know you meant my smile.” He smiled again. “Now you‟re giving me the creeps.” His smile faded when I said that to him. “You like my smile.” Oh no! I think he guessed it already, that I had a crush on him. I couldn‟t reply on what he is saying right now because I‟m afraid I might commit a mistake. “I like your cute face.” He said. “What?” I‟m surprised to hear those words coming from my crush. „Why did you tell?” “Because it‟s true.” “Oh, thank you.” I smiled at him. I‟m a little nervous right now because my cheeks are starting to get red. You know how it feels when your crush said


that to you. What happens next is the silence again. We have nothing to talk about except staring at each other. If only I‟m an engineering student, maybe we could talk about math or how do we solve an algebra problem. Suddenly, he sings the opening theme of Friends. “You watch that TV show?” I asked. “Everyone loves that show.” He replied. “Great! Can we talk about it?” “Sure.” He said. So we talked about that sitcom, might as well our favorite characters. We also discussed the episode that aired last week. “Hey, since I heard you singing, I think you have a good voice.” I said to him. “I‟m not a good singer.” He denied. “You‟re a liar!” “Really, I‟m not.” He repeated. “Then why did you sing?” “Because everything is so silent.” “Is that it?” “Let‟s own this night, shall we?” “What do you mean?” I asked. “Let‟s have fun. We could scream our names out loud or whatever.” I thought he wants to make out with me but what am I thinking? God, I‟m not that lustful! “But we might wake the neighbors!” I warned him. “I guess they can‟t hear us if they are fully asleep.” He said. He started to scream his name like he owns the night. How I wish I could scream out my feelings to him but things won‟t work that way if I say it directly. I‟m worried right now because he might wake the neighbors, but it seems like I heard nothing from them since they‟re asleep. In because of such, I screamed. “I wish the night can listen to us both, might as well our hearts!” “Our hearts? The night should!” He said. When I look into his eyes, it was filled with joy earlier but now it‟s drenched with tears. “Hey, why are you crying?” I asked him. There was no reply from him but instead, he flung his arms towards me. He gave me an embrace that I won‟t forget.


Artwork by Ma. Cyra Jane Dealca


“Have I done something to make you cry? If I do, I‟m sorry.” I apologized. Still, there is no reply and now he‟s sobbing on my shoulder. He begins to cry out a name, probably from a girl that I don‟t know. “Why can she do this to me?” I figured it out. It was all about his girlfriend that made him cry in this lonely night. I did not know he has a girlfriend already and it breaks my heart to hear him screaming her name. “Did you break up with her?” I asked him as my heart begins to bring weight. “No.” He answers while wiping his tears. “She doesn‟t feel anything in our relationship. I don‟t know why, but I gave everything to her. How can she say that to me, earlier?” “Maybe she wants to be with herself more.” “No, it‟s not because she wants to be with herself. I really don‟t know why she feels so tired being with me.” We sat together on the side of the road. “Our parents had already agreed on us being lovers.” This night, I had a chance to be with him but that doesn‟t end there. I also had the chance to face the truth that he can‟t be mine. They are legal with each other now and here I am, just admiring him. “Do you really love her?” I asked him. “I do love her and I want to marry her once we graduate.” He started to cry again. All I can do now is to pat his shoulder and try to cheer him up even if it hurts. My heart is getting heavier but I can fight this over. “I guess she‟s feeling complicated right now, but the two of you should talk.” “I can think of that maybe tomorrow.” He said. “The two of you should talk to clarify things. Communication is the answer.” I smiled to him. “You really are a Communication student.” He smiled again. He embraced me again, for the second time. We stood up from the ground. I realized that we have reached our destination, the highway where I can ride a taxi or a jeep. I waved on an


approaching taxi to fetch me on our spot. While waiting for the taxi to arrive, I turn my head towards him. “Thank you for walking with me tonight.” I said. “You’re welcome.” The taxi finally came to our spot. Before I hopped in, I embraced him again for the third time or should I say, for the last time. After that, everything is back to normal as the taxi begins to drive away from him. This time, I unleash all of my tears after knowing the truth that he has someone already. It hurts but at the same time, I‟m glad that I’ve spent some time with him. I‟ve never seen him again since that night in 1999. When social media becomes a thing at this age, I can see him with his wife and his children through the pictures. They were so happy living together. It hurts for my part that he can‟t be mine, but I‟m still happy that I‟ve spent a special moment with him even if it lasted for only a night. When he turns on the radio, I hope he remembers me, a communication student who gave an advice to him. I‟m already a DJ on a local radio station. I was thinking, what if I confessed my feelings to him that night? Maybe he‟ll leave me alone. How can he love someone who has the same gender as him? I hope you get the picture of who I really was. If I could turn back time, take me back to that night in 1999.


The Feast of St. John the Baptist Ron Ciego

Sister Josephina closed the chapel tonight; the whole congregation just finished compline, and it was time for bed. The rest of the sisters, all 20 of them now went to their individual cells, but Sr Josephina, being the youngest at 23, had to stay and blow out the candles and lock the gates. After she locked the gates of the chapel, she genuflected afront the tabernacle and heard rustling from the outside. The whole convent was in a remote hill covered by trees, aptly called Bantay Sinai; the nearest house was a mile away, and the police were about thirty minutes‟ drive by four-by-four truck. So, when the nun heard rustling, she would not think immediately that it was a crazed maniac trying to kill her. Instead, she thought it was Roque, one of the three convent dogs, who could not seem to sleep tonight. She did not mind it, therefore. She closed the entrance to the chapel behind her. The rustling was still there; later, it turned to footsteps. It sounded like meat being slapped on a chopping board. It was bear feet on tiles, not Roque. Sr Josephina called out in the dim: “Hello?” It did not answer. The nun was in the corridor, and in the corridor, the lights were only as bright as candles. In the dim, where the footsteps originated, was a shade, like a soul in Dante‟s Inferno: naked but clothed by the dark. The shade stopped walking. Sr Josephina tried to holler once more at this mysterious guest, but, knowing that she held nothing, she ran towards the refectory as fast as she can. She turned left towards the refectory door, but it was bolted shut from the inside. If only she went the other way, where the shade stood from, she could have gone straight to the sisters. Now, she was too far to be heard. She pushed the door, and pushed, but the door was too thick to budge. The shade still stood there, straight like a boy scout. It stood like it wasn‟t real. In the dark, like a shoot, it was still. Nothing in him but darkness and nakedness. Upon closer look, the only thing that bent the light was the knife he held.


Sr Josephina, nowhere to go, refectory locked, windows grilled, corridors walled, only had her wits with him. From the wits of her mind, and from the pocket of her habit, she clutched the rosary. Finally, from the bottom of her lungs, she screamed. The shade ran towards the screaming contemplative. The shade then shut her up with a blow to her mouth. Sr Josephina spit blood immediately. The shade gave her another punch towards the nose, which broke in an instant rendering her half-conscious. The shade towered over the bloodied-up nun. His left hand held the knife; the other hand, he used it to reach his groin area to unzip. The shade said: “Leda, it is I, Zeus. I have been blown by two opposing winds that shall never slack. I am the heir of Achilles, Paris, Tristan, and Cleopatra. The spoils of Adam are my clothing, the error of David is my banner. And you, my dear Leda, who I shall suspend mid-air shall be my Juliet.” The shade overshadowed the nun with malice and scornful passion. There was no beauty in the shade. There was no light in the shadow. It never helped that it was night. The habit, ripped off, now red, was not longer white. The shade said

“How can those terrified vague fingers push The feathered glory from her loosening thighs, And how can body, laid in that white rush, But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?” It was June 23. *









After the police came and went, and after all the closest residents passed from being bystanders to being disinterested mourners, —it was 6:30 pm—Fr Nino Balagtas OFM, gathered all the nuns to the refectory and relayed to them all the police said that Mother Superior was unable to relay because of grief; later, he‟ll talk to her. “All we know for now, according to 911, is that Sr Jo is not yet…I mean, she is still alive. Thank God. We all know what happened was a terrible act—a horrible thing. But, „nong Bert and his team assured that they are in on it, and swift justice shall… Pray, sisters that—pray hard—that justice shall prevail. It is, I believe, time for your evening prayers. Keep Sr Jo in your hearts and pray for her recovery. I am


still to talk to Mother Superior about this; she is in her office, trying to wrap all this in her head…That is all.…O, um, we will offer mass for her tomorrow.” Fr Saturnino, or Nino, as he was called by his brother friars, after his talk with the congregation, went to the office of Sr Mary Elizabeth de Avila. Fr Nino was middle-aged, there were white strands on his head. He wore the brown habit of Francis. He was also the confessor to the sisters of the Congregation of St. Agnes. On the other hand, Sr Mary Elizabeth, or Sr El to the younger nuns, was about 75 years old, both cheeks were sagging, eyeglasses were thick as the bottom of coke bottles, and her voice was feisty but humble. “How can we still feel safe?” Sr El said. “I have lived in this convent for forty-five years, and this is the worst thing that has ever happened. I thought a fire would erupt, or an earthquake would render it…. Nino, I do not want to die while a crazed maniac is on the loose! I just cannot. What devil could infect a mind like that. What does God want to say? What does He want me to do? Father, I have come to an age where I do not fear for my life. What I fear is that I may die not in peace! This will bug me for every night; in my prayers. Everything! Do you understand?” “Mother Superior, just so you will know, Sr Josephina survived a stabbing, and a rape. I‟m sorry I have to say it. She was stabbed seven times through the heart, but she survived. Indeed, I do not know what is going on, but God is on her side. If that is so, then His justice shall be close to us as well.” After some more chats with Sr El, the friar went to the friary to have some rest and pray. He met Ronilo Dementio, the town‟s mayor, at the friary door. Mayor Rody was a stocky man with two chins; he carried a cane with him all the time. He has a suave mustache that he strokes most the time people talk to him. Fr Nino was the first to greet. “Mayor, good evening. What brings you here?” “Father Nino, I just came to ask about the nuns,” the mayor said. “Did you not ask the police?” “I know what happened. But, how are they?” “As any family would in a tragedy like this, they grieve angrily.” The mayor came closer and waved at the priest to do the same. An inch from the priest, he said “The chief told me something. He said that the victim and the perp had a sexual past, and this was revenge, or something.”


“They found out who did it?” “Oh, no. I‟m sorry,” Said the mayor. “That‟s the suspected motive…. What I really came here for is to ask you something. I read the report, saw the pictures and all that. Listen to this. On the back of the nun—she lied naked supine, remember—on the back were the words carved on her flesh with the knife: una lonza leggiera e presta molto.” “That‟s from Dante.” Fr Nino felt his heart weigh down. “Precisely why I came down here to ask you. You know about all this stuff. I can‟t understand Latin or heck.” “It‟s not Latin; it‟s Italian.” The priest had to think for a while. “And the way he chose a line from one of the greatest poems ever written aptly to taunt us is very telling. Our perp is a literate man who read Dante, and not all the literate read Dante, much more the Filipino. Our town does not have a library, and we do not have a book store, as far as I know. So, we could say that this rapist is not from here, or that he studied outside here.” “Yes, I like it when your mind churns. Keep that up. Maybe you can solve this case yourself without all the technology mumbo-jumbo.” The Mayor scratched his chin. “Which reminds me, they found semen samples, which they would have to send to the City. It would take a long time, I think, to get a match. So, you can help us bring swift justice with your approach.” “I‟ll try.” Fr Nino said. “God help us.” “What did that mean—the Italian verse, I mean?” asked the mayor. “It‟s a metaphor. It‟s about lust.” *









It was a bright noon, six months after, when a habitless Fr Nino knocked on the inn door of some Herbert Mhanykis, a tourist. Then, a bright white man opened the door. His nose was long and sharp, head bald and shiny. He was shirtless, and he wore khaki pants. He was thin as a toothpick. “May I help you?” the thin man said. “Don‟t bother fleeing, the police are close. I just want to talk to you,” Fr Nino said. He entered the room without being invited in. He was ready for any encounter with this resident alien. “Sit down. I want to talk.” “Excuse me, sir. You cannot just do this. What the—”


Artwork by Mykiesha Sta. Ana


“Sit down, man!” Trying to avoid anymore trouble, the white man obliged. They sat face to face on a small round dining table. The priest leaned back while the white man had his elbows on the table. “What‟s wrong?” asked the white man. “I know you did what you did to Sr Josephine. Again, the cops are close, I told them where you are…. By the way, I‟m very much capable of whipping your ass. All you have to—” “I will not confess to something I did not do,” the white man said.

“Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’entrate.” The white man sneered and straightened his back. “I thought I was the only one who read the Comedia….” The white man chuckled, then eventually leaned on his chair. “I never intended to leave clues. Those were just my…my art. The artist always signs his works, right?” The white man did not know but Fr Nino clenched his fists under the table. He deepened his breathing and kept himself relaxed. “Now let me ask you, Herbert—Herbert, right? Well, let me ask you: are you a Catholic?” “No, father.” “Protestant?” “Please, I lost my faith, not my wits. None of them would ever do what I did!” “Not a sane man would do what you do.” The white man straitened his back again. “I may not be Christian, but I am an evangelist. I say, „here is a lamb, blameless, unblemished. Behold, I, the sin of the world!‟ All I‟m saying is Pleasure is now our god. She controls everything! I could rape a sister in a habit because I worship this god! I offer her sacrifice unburnt. I submitted myself to her prostrate. So, now, her will is my will. I am just the evangelist.” Fr Nino whispered, shocked by what he heard, “Masapul a dinto uminom iti arak wenno uray ania makabartek.” “Oh yeah? Let me tell you this. It is true that God‟s ways are mysterious; but the ways of Pleasure are obvious. Example? I know how pleasurable it


is for you to whip my ass. Oh, how I feel your blood boil, how the heat of it needs expression. You must really feel to blow out steam. Oh, how pleasurable avarice. To finally do justice.” “That is not justice,” Fr Nino said. “You think it isn‟t. You want swift justice, don‟t you? Why not put me to Hell right now. Imagine punching my face broken, my nose splitting, my eyes busted into my head. Imagine me, the one who raped what‟s-her-name, bloodied and bruised pleading for mercy. But you‟d think, My God is a God of Mercy, I must spare this man‟s life and let God.‟ Ho hum! But, you‟re also the guy who‟d think, „He already decided to forsake God, he is beyond redemption.‟ I‟d say: both compelling arguments. So, let me counsel you. The only way to remove injustice is replacing that injustice with something that is less of an injustice. And in this case, father, it is to remove the perpetrator of injustice. That‟s the closest thing to justice you‟ll get.” “I am not God! I own no one‟s life!” “Then beat me up! Mutilate me. Satisfy your whetting. Let my blood run for your catharsis. Break my neck! Break my arm!” “Shut up, you!” “I raped her! Stripped her off her garments and f—” Fr Nino let out a haymaker of a right hand across the white man‟s face. The white man dropped to the floor clutching his jaw. He was hurt. His face reddened by the stun. But Fr Nino saw that this face was smiling. “Yes,” said the white man. “Hit me! Gratify your appetite! She smiles at you. Feel the rush!” Fr Nino calmed himself in his chair. “Enough with you! This god you talk about? This pleasure? She has been dealt with. Christ has vanquished this deity with his truth that ran like a sword through her throat. She has been exposed. Her entrails run down the sewers. I left her in the desert parched and hungry. Then the Blessed Mother took me under her care brought me to the house of our Lord for supper. In there is true pleasure! Not a mutated abomination.” “Enough with your homily, priest!” “You, have you put on a sackcloth? You are the Evangelist? You even hold no office in the tributaries. Your god bathes in the pig sty. You have been baptized by mud! Who is this Pleasure? I do not live for her. And neither should you.”


“Our cult is ever wider, priest. The West have defiled already the banner of your Virgin! Hear the children, they say „we should not put so much importance on our virginity. It is our right! It is our choice!‟ This is freedom.” “Tell me, Herbert, in your pleasure-ridden life, are you free? You can‟t say no to your god, can you? Is that what you call freedom? There is no pleasure in seeing you die. There is more pleasure in seeing you live! This is how God‟s ways are mysterious, counterintuitive. You must live, says my God, live to the fullest! Take back your talents shunned by your pleasure. Take back your abilities, and your beauty. Love again, be loved again. Be joyful, once more! There is no justice in killing you, because it denies you of a gift. Do you know what real justice is? It is when a man unworthy of redemption is redeemed, that‟s justice….” Later, the police knocked on the white man‟s door and found the white man sitting on a chair silent, staring deeply into space. Fr Nino left for the friary to wash his face.



Rosvir Kate Flores

The cold wind caressed my cheeks. The sea breeze is my favorite part of our retreat. I breathed in and out and felt how my lungs were filled with the oxygen that I need. This is a literal ‘breather’ for me. I sashayed my way towards the session hall. Everybody has found their comfortable seat and preparing for the consciousness examen. I actually like this kind of silence during guided reflection. Although most of my classmates fall asleep in the middle of this reflection session, I choose to pay attention and really focus on self-evaluation.

“I want you to close your eyes and remember the exact moment when you woke up this morning,” our retreat guide softly instructed. I closed my eyes and tried to recall my not-so-good morning. My head was throbbing the moment my alarm clock went off. If I remember correctly, I slept at around 5am. My hands are still numb from all the plates that I did last night. I did not want any back logs, so I tried to finish my major plate for Fundamentals of Design 2. It’s not easy for someone who doesn’t really like architecture in the first place. To be honest, it’s not an easy course just like what my parents would always say. I groaned when I saw that it was almost 6 o’clock. The call time for the retreat was 8am. If I don’t get up, I’ll surely be late. Today’s a Monday and traffic is bad at Bangkal proper. “Nak, pamahaw sa diri. Gitimplahan pud tika og gatas Frances,” my Yaya invited me to breakfast. I was tempted to sit down and eat the mouthwatering honeycured crispy bacon and eggs on the table, together with some avocado toast. I looked at the clock. It’s quarter to seven. I asked her about where mom and dad were. She told me they left early to visit the new office of our architectural firm. They can’t even afford to at least say goodbye before they left, not even a text. “O ayaw na pagmug-ot diha. Mawala ang kagwapa Ces. Nagbilin imong Daddy aning envelope para sa imo. Allowance ata,” Yaya tried to console me. I checked the contents of the envelope and saw some blue bills. I sighed. I suddenly lost my appetite to eat. Mang Kardo, my personal driver was already waiting outside with our white Fortuner. Maybe my parents used the Land Cruiser, instead. For a few moments, I just stared at our sleek red gate. Then, I decided to go back to my room to get a few things. When I reached our school, my classmates were already forming a line to ride


the big blue bus. I decided to sit at the very back and nobody dared to sit beside me. I’m used to this kind of treatment. Almost everyone calls me ‘hilas’ and ‘pamati’ because I have a personal driver and my clothes are mostly designer. Well, I don’t like to deal with insecure people either. We arrived at our destination and my eyes immediately sparkled with awe when I saw the beach. The retreat house was located near the shore. Strands of hair covered my face when the wind blew towards us. I let out a chuckle. I am surely going to love this retreat.

“Now, I want you to listen to your surroundings. Notice the chirping of birds and the subtle sound of the waves. Notice your breathing,” the instructor continued. My concentration was disturbed when I heard a faint sound of gasp and silent sobbing- or at least she tried not to let others hear her cry. I opened my eyes and saw Bea, being comforted by her seatmate. Bea is one of my not-so-mean classmates. She actually went to our house once when we were partnered for a research paper. She was holding her phone with eyes shut and shivering lips. When she couldn’t contain it anymore, she burst into tears and started to breakdown. Now, she got everyone’s attention. When she was able to recollect herself and pacify her sobs, she was asked about what her problem is. I suddenly couldn’t hear anything. But I don’t know why I was able to read her lips.

“Si Frances daw, nagbigti sa iyang kwarto ganinang buntag.”


Utong I squeezed my eyes shut as the tears rolled in perfect mixture with the water. It blended effortlessly, as if my tears were made for it. Down here is cold and limited. Underwater is a might-perfect way to cover the shame of crying. The unsettling clashes of water, rough and undetermined waves create an unhelpful dullness to the ears which brings a painful yet simulative mute.

How long have I been down here? This feeling of heaviness and numbness is my life taken away from me. Everything is now in a slow-motion, not even physical resistance will hear the roaring yell of a composed lungs, I wanted to gasp for air! But the water is surrounding, wrestling my weakened body. No! If this is a choice... then, let me choose it. I am just a chained inevitability.

One more second... One last... A hand grasped my hair with assertive violence, strongly dragging me up the waters, “... Lalaki ka o dili?!� a question of painful exclaim. The hand pushed me back again into the circular ends of the water barrel. Cold and limited. The rough clashes of water blanketed me like acceptance. I know who I am.


Ancestral Home Gwyneth Marie Vasquez

The room felt unusually quiet, despite my cousins’ hushed voices talking about a lady who may be looming the dark. It had the fragrance of Grandaunt Trinidad’s sampaguitas, yet the odor of musty pillows littering the sofas heightened my fear of the lady. Later, I would realize that that scent resembled death— the death of a memory. A black and white family portrait hung on the opposite side of the wall. In the photograph, I recognize my great grandfather, who toiled and toiled in the aftermath of war to build his house. If he were alive to see this day, he would be terribly disappointed. The year was 2008. My cousins and I were having a sleepover at the Valdez ancestral home, which was then occupied by my grandfather’s siblings. The Valdez home, built in the late 1940’s, was painted white and was like a cross between a house, a vintage hotel, and a museum. Whenever I found myself inside it, I often felt that I was entering a time capsule. Green checkered cushions, dark upholstered cabinets, and thin silk curtains stood and hung passively in their own corners. Wooden square tables wrapped in manila papers were strewn on the wide living room, ready for the elders’ nightlong mahjong race. Apart from being extremely large with eight bedrooms, two living rooms, and a kitchen bigger than a college classroom, it also kept all kinds of antiques and souvenirs. My grandfather and his younger brother Paciano were enthusiasts for local history. They loved to collect saucers, pots, and even old rocks and relics to prove that the first mass took place in Masao rather than Limasawa. When the antiques became numerous enough to be called a collection, they arranged these beside their sisters’ glass cabinet of keychains, magnets, and figurines. In contrast to their brothers, Trinidad, a mother of six, Saturnina, a traveling educator, and Pianing, a nutritionist in New York, were sentimentalists for Europe, the Caribbean, and especially the United States. Grandaunt Trinidad, in her youth, was the most well-traveled of all


the Valdez siblings. During the outbreak of martial law, she with her husband and kids fled to the United States where the children later went to college and settled down. A balikbayan at the time we had a sleepover at the Valdez home, Grandaunt Trinidad brought along four of her grandchildren for their first vacation in Butuan. Meeting our ‘American’ cousins was awkward, but one of our aunts ingeniously suggested that we, the Butuanons, should have a sleepover with them so that we could get to know each other better. Of course, we were hesitant at first— the house was rumored by our aunts and uncles to be haunted— until Grandaunt Trinidad bribed us with a pack of M&M’s and a box of Nerds each. “Each!” I had thought. Before we knew it, all ten of us Butuanons were huddled up in three large mattresses with our American cousins nearest to the electric fan. The rest of us were freezing from the cold December wind, yet the Americans did not even bother to unfold their blankets. Feasting on the M&M’s given by Grandaunt Trinidad, the Americans laughed at one of my Butuanon cousins for eating his M&M’s with boiled rice. “Doy, you’re not supposed to eat it that way! Ha ha!” Cousin Nikka, the eldest of Grandaunt Trinidad’s grandchildren, chuckled. “Madyaw ba nga parisan hong kan-on para makabusog,” seven-year old Cousin Doy answered strongly. “He said it’s good to eat rice because the tummy will be big,” Cousin Liling, the eldest of the Butuanons, tried to translate. After watching The Messenger and The Grudge, Cousin Liling decided to share some horror stories to the group. I was only nine years old then, yet I admired Cousin Liling so much for her artistic fervor in the horror genre. She was wearing a yellow Spongebob shirt, with the character’s eyes just in front of her budding breasts, so that it looked like Spongebob’s irises were actually her


nipples. She looked funny. “And just when Papa opened the bintana, the white lady was—”

“OMG! Did you hear that?” Nikka, interrupted Liling’s storytelling.

The half-American’s white face turned even paler.

Everybody became quiet as Nikka held up her index finger to her lips.

We did not hear anything at first, except for the whirring of the electric fan. The only light which illuminated our makeshift bedroom was the white fluorescent lamp installed on the nearest mango tree. Inside, the light was faint— enough to only allow us to recognize each other’s faces. The area directly in front of us, where the wooden stairs connected the living room to the uninhabited second floor, was completely black. The hairs on my arms and at the back of my neck began to rise as I heard the squeaking sound, as if the person, or entity, or spirit, or whatever it was, was wearing wet shoes. I closed my eyes and covered myself with the thin blanket. All my other cousins did the same, even the Americans. Curled up in a fetal position, I did not sleep that night, nor did I ever sleep inside that house ever again.

I was 12 when I started to suspect why and how there could have

been spirits living in our ancestral home. Apart from the myths of creatures living in huge and old mango trees, I also began to notice that the Valdez home was a frequent venue for wakes of most of our deceased relatives. Once, when Aunt Josefina died of colon cancer, Mother asked me to accompany her for the vigil.

“Ging, mag vigil naa kita. Sa kwarto ka lang ni Auntie Pianing matug

kung di mo na ma antos.”

I stayed awake for the rest of the night. There was no way that I would

be sleeping in a room directly behind my dead aunt’s coffin, I thought.

Grandaunt Pianing, when she was home, loved to hang pictures of

deceased family members on the wall— my great grandparents, Uncle Andres,


even a cross-stitched image of an angel whom she said was the unborn child of my middle-aged cousin. Sometimes, I was convinced that the spirits of our dead relatives resided in those pictures. One time, we forgot that it was the day of Uncle Andres’ death anniversary. We were surprised to see the day after that his picture frame had been shattered on the floor.

The only time that I ever felt unafraid of the Valdez home was during

the week of Uncle Boboy’s wedding. All five of Uncle Boboy’s siblings and their children flew to Butuan to witness their youngest sibling’s union with a Chinese-Filipina from Surigao.

The preparations for the wedding and even the reception took place

at the Valdez home. Grandaunt Trinidad’s children and grandchildren also occupied the rooms upstairs for the first time in more than a decade. Still, I was spooked at the thought of my loud American cousins probably bothering the lady. Besides, they did not know how to say, “tabi-tabi, po,” a Visayan expression believed to prevent spirits from harming the living. To my dismay, Uncle Boboy had all his teenage Butuanon nieces join the entourage. With the wedding’s purple and gold motif, my pale and chubby figure looked like the local rice delicacy sapin-sapin. My American cousins, in contrast, looked like Sharpay from High School Musical.

With the cream of Butuan and Surigao society as guests, sixteen pigs

and two cows were slaughtered for the wedding feast. We all witnessed how Uncle Boboy’s bride bent back as he kissed her and how Grandaunt Trinidad cried while she was delivering her speech. Uncle Boboy, clad in his crisp barong tagalog, then rose from his seat to thank the guests. “Mag Binutuanon naa kita kay nia ba kita sa Butuan.” I was surprised at his flawless Butuanon accent.

”Magpasalamat kunta ko kaniyo nga tanan sa pag kanhi sa kasal

ko, samot na sa mga suon ko nga mitabang sa preparasyon. Pasensya kung nagsinamok kami diri kaniyo, pero di ba gyud ni mahitabo nga kasal kung wa mo,” Uncle Boboy expressed.


“Basta ikaw, Boy!” yelled someone from the crowd.

“Basi di na kaw magpada nga minyo na kaw, o!” another one joked.

Uncle Boboy only smiled. After the reception, he and the other

adults drank and even discoed in the yard. Meanwhile, my cousins and I stayed inside, playing board games, pass-the-message, even hide-and-seek and tag.

No sleepover happened that night, but what surprised me was the

utter transformation of the Valdez home. The mango trees outside, instead of looking like a kapre’s dwelling, shone as if they were part of the wedding decorations. The throw pillows, which used to gather dust and molds, found themselves on the carpet while my little cousins pretended to make houses with them. Dark corners which I feared were infested with spirits and little creatures, lit up and were transformed into spaces of conversation for my intellectual aunts and uncles. Music filled the air as Grandaunt Trinidad played Frank Sinatra and Matt Monro. For four Christmases, the Valdez home was my happy place. I was comforted by the fact that it was the only place where I could see all my extended family together. During the holidays, Grandaunt Trinidad would invite everyone for a feast on the long dining table which stood beside her large Christmas village. My aunts would be busy preparing hamon and queso de bola in the kitchen. My uncles would be so loud out in the yard, drinking and arguing about local politics. My cousins and I still shared horror stories to one another, but that time, we often laughed because the house looked too alive to be called haunted.

All of that changed when Grandaunt Trinidad died. On the 41st

day after her death, her husband closed his clinic and left for the United States. Without Grandaunt Trinidad, no one else was willing to initiate family gatherings. Grandaunt Saturnina, now a senile 84 year-old maid and Granduncle Paciano, still an able-bodied bachelor but a drunkard and heavy smoker at 68, were left alone in the big old house. Grandaunt Pianing, the youngest of the Valdez siblings, then decided that it was time to leave New York for home permanently. For a time, the


house was brimming with people who wanted to receive portions of Kirkland pistachios or Hershey’s chocolates and servings of Grandaunt Pianing’s pasta with parmesan cheese. When the supply of pasalubong ran out, however, the house became silent again with the only sound coming from Granduncle Paciano’s coughing and Grandaunt Pianing’s frying of bulad. I went away for college knowing that the ancestral home, though less scary than it used to be, was far lonelier than it had ever been. The most shocking change of all happened on the day of my first homecoming to Butuan. My parents were taking me to visit my maternal grandparents, whose house was located four blocks away from the Valdez home. As we passed by the huge expanse, I was appalled to discover that the glorious facade of our ancestral home was gone. In its place, a grey fortress as tall as the mango trees stood. From where I was looking, it looked like a bull that was ready to charge but was planted firmly on the ground.

“Ma, ngan ba ‘yan?” I asked Mother. She must have felt the hostility in

my voice because she answered gently,

“Ah ‘yan? Function hall ba bati ko. Gipa tukod ni Uncle mo Boboy.

Nabalhin na ba kaniya ang title sa ba’y.”

At the mention of Uncle Boboy’s name, I felt blood rushing through

my veins. I remembered how good my impression was of him when I first saw him. Among Grandma Trinidad’s children, I had liked him best. I even thought he was the most ‘Filipino’ and the least ‘Americanized’ among the siblings.

“Pero ang ba’y? Piga-guba na sab nila?”

“’Wa ba, yadto ra sa likod sa function hall.”

“’Wa pa,” Father corrected her.

At my request, we visited my grandfather’s siblings the day after. The

thought of our ancestral home being demolished for business sickened me. Worse, I felt betrayed by Uncle Boboy. I was surprised to see such a big change in such a short span of time.


The wide yard in front of the house, where my uncles used to drink, was gone. The mango trees, which had been planted by my great grandfather himself, had been cut down. The front porch of the house, where Granduncle Paciano used to smoke, was destroyed. A portion of the protruding roof up front had also been sliced away to make for the thick back wall of the function hall. The new building was built too adjacent to the house that Grandaunt Pianing had to permanently close the front door. The only entrance and exit to the house were through the dirty kitchen.

The familiar scent of Grandaunt Pianing’s cooking and Granduncle

Paciano’s cigarette smoke greeted me as I entered. But what caught my attention most was the shrunken figure of Grandaunt Saturnina sitting almost motionless on her wooden chair.

She looked far worse than the last time I saw her. The skin on her

cheeks and arms had sagged terribly. I was told that she had recently been discharged from the hospital due to a fractured ankle.

“Sino ba kaw?” She asked Mother.

“Si Lynn ni, Auntie,” Mother answered casually.

I must have thrown a look at Mother which bordered both curiosity

and awe. She had been Grandaunt Saturnina’s personal private nurse ever since Grandaunt Saturnina underwent a pacemaker operation nine years ago. It was impossible for Grandaunt Saturnina to have forgotten her name, unless…

“Alzheimer’s,” Mother looked at me and mouthed the word, as if it

was still a secret.

Everyone in the family knew that Grandaunt Saturnina was getting

senile. She tended to forget about a few things or would be extremely harsh towards other people, but Mother saying the word Alzheimer’s felt like a final verdict on Grandaunt Saturnina’s cognitive ability.


Bending down, I took her thin and shaking hand gently in mine and

touched it to my forehead.

“O, sino ba sab ini?” She asked to no one in particular.

“Si Ging ini, La,” I answered with a smile.

“Manghod mo ini?” She asked Mother.

“’Di Auntie, si Ging ba ini, anak ko” Mother proudly introduced me, as

if talking to a stranger.

“Tulo ba diay anak mo? Abi ko duha lang. Si Ginny hasta si Ray.”

“Auntie, si Ging gani si Ginny. Mao ni si Ginny, or Ging for short, unya

ang manghod si Ryan.”

“HA?” Grandaunt Saturnina’s voice had risen. Her eyebrows were

furrowed. An expert with Grandaunt Saturnina’s moods, Mother knew better than to push the subject.

“Auntie, mikapalit na ako hong tamba mo. Miingnan na sab ako ni Dr.

Gonzaga nga iundang na naa ang senokot mo. Mag walking na dapat kaw para maka intawn ka.”

Grandaunt Saturnina, even with a walker, could barely get to the

dining table without any assistance. I thought Mother’s suggestion was insane.

“Nah! Di ko ba ‘yan kaya. Mikapada na ba si Boboy hong kwarta?”

The speed by which Grandaunt Saturnina was able to change the

subject surprised me. But what was more shocking was that she remembered Uncle Boboy’s name.

“O, pada ni Boboy ang gibili ko hong tamba.”

Weeks later, I learned that Uncle Boboy, after a long negotiation with

my grandfather and his siblings, had dropped his original plan of demolishing


the ancestral house. Instead, he would convert it into an American restaurant while the function hall would operate in front. However, Grandaunts Pianing and Saturnina and Granduncle Paciano would have to be ‘relocated.’ Grandaunt Pianing, ever the kind but strong-willed woman, refused to the proposal.

“Mikaat na kaw? Piga hinang ni nga ba’y ni Lolo mo para yaon

kita’y lugar nga magka tapok. ‘Di ako makabaya haon! Gubaon mo lang para sa kwarta? Susmaryosep!” I once overheard Grandaunt Pianing complain to Uncle Boboy.

In the end, though, Grandaunt Pianing lost to the argument. On a

small lot beside the function hall, Uncle Boboy had his workers build a pad for the three elders. Grandaunt Pianing hated how small her kitchen was in the pad, but she had no choice since Uncle Boboy was the one paying for their utilities now that her savings had been spent.

I felt lonely the first time I ate at Uncle Boboy’s new restaurant. It

looked nothing like the Valdez home that I was familiar with. Worse, it made me feel disconnected with my ancestors. To make the place look even more modernized, Uncle Boboy erased every evidence of Filipino culture in the house. He retained the glass cabinet of souvenirs, but my grandfather and Granduncle Paciano’s collection of antiques was gone. The cushions, from being checkered green, were transformed into gray. The dark wooden walls were substituted by a blinding white, and the family portrait which hung on the wall was nowhere to be found.

After a year, the Valdez home became a booming American

restaurant. It was classier than fast food chains yet equally affordable. The function hall was always fully booked. Uncle Boboy would be in Butuan almost every month. He was the hero of our family and of Butuan, providing jobs for the unemployed and bringing the taste of America to the hungry locals.

We might have been wrong about his business being a hit, though.

On the summer after I graduated from college, I was surprised to discover that the restaurant was closed.


“’May ra ba sa sugod ang negosyo ni Uncle mo, pero idtong ni dugay-

dugay na nagkagamay ba ang customer. Ang function hall sab daghan na ba’g kompetensiya,” Mother said.

“Ngansi ba? Abi ko imported ang gusto hong mga Butuanon,” I asked


Mother then exhaled, as if she was disappointed with my ignorance.

“Ging, diba ikaw sab mas gusto mo ba ang gi hinang ko nga hamburger

kaysa sa hamburger sa McDonald’s?”

Mother really had a way of not saying things directly. It made me

look dumb sometimes.

“O, mubili lang ba ako sa McDonald’s kay paspas ba ang order hasta wa’y daghan hasol.”


“Basi mi tagaw lang ang mga tao sa sugod. Nagkadugay mipangita ra

gihapon hong timplang Pinoy.”

When the restaurant was closed down, nobody knew what to do

with it. Uncle Boboy had flown back to the States. Grandaunts Pianing and Saturnina and Granduncle Paciano refused to return, insisting that it was no longer their home. Some of my other relatives suggested that we should just sell it. Until they would arrive at a unanimous decision, the Valdez home sat idly at the back of the huge function hall.

That was three years ago. The white paint of the house is now peel-

ing off from the decades-old hardwood. Cobwebs are also creeping throughout dark corners and along unused windows. Although it is looking totally like a haunted house now, I have never missed it more. Sometimes, I catch myself wondering if my cousins and I could have a sleepover there again and if Uncle Boboy’s misfortune had been a work of the lady which used to scare me.


Body Autonomy Jupiter Cabig

for Abby, feminist

Soon after the flashflood that covered half of Ikay’s house in Brgy. Carmen has diminished, she raced through the nearby mangrove forest, despite her mother’s request to look after their youngest, to converse with Ken about a serious dilemma they had kept tightly for over a week. Ikay tried to calm her pounding chest from running swiftly along a rocky alley occupied by mothers washing clothes, vendors of ginang-gang, children playing spiders, and drunk husbands who are drinking since yesterday. Her eyes struggled to avoid the neighborhood’s judgmental stares. Just a few meters away, Ken positioned himself calmly; his fists closed, and knees stiffened. The morning low tide afforded them enough space to discuss or argue if necessary. As they shared glances, both of them already knew that something will get worse. “Should I unleash this animal?” “No,” Ken responded out of boiling frustration. He thought they already talked about raising the animal together. “It’s so easy for you to assume that I am capable of carrying this.” Deep inside, Ken agrees that raising the animal will cost their teenage freedom, putting an unbearable weight of accountability on their shoulders. He always thought of the animal’s future. Its food will be more expensive than a can of sardines. Its presence will hamper movements in their house, made only out of scraps from recent fire incidents or donated wood, nail, and roof from the barangay council. For now, its future only appears in Ken’s daydreams, but the animal will be part of his nightmares, soon. “This animal will bring no good to the both of us,” Ikay tried to reinforce her idea of disposing it. She can’t get rid of the mental images where her father disapproves Ken’s decision. She can be beaten to death or be banished to their province. The moment the animal is revealed to her parents, she’s only left with brutal options.


“I only have an hour to convince you,” Ikay continued to pressure Ken. “We are among the poorest teenagers in our barangay. Unlike other teenagers, we got no luxury to raise another being. Even though we think of having a choice, the truth remains that poor people only live in constant urgency. In this case, we are urgently called to survive and not add anything to make living more difficult,” she continued. “But you don’t understand,” Ken replied with a softer tone. “This is not about poverty or about our current situation. Rather, this is about making a choice for your body. Even if you come up with the strongest argument on our financial incapability, you need to make a choice not because of our situation but based on the freedom to own your body. If you want to keep the animal, own it just like it’s part of your body.” He paused; knowing from within that he succeeded in making a point. “You may be right, but what you said is purely idealistic,” Ikay opposed. “For poor women, it’s delusional to think that we own our body. Since then, men and our situation both forced us to either keep or discard this being. We are vulnerable. Talk about domestic abuse, forced conception, embarrassment, guilt – all inscribed fear and powerlessness in us. So, don’t ever talk about owning our body. Men should never impose what they think of our body,” she proclaimed. It’s noticeable how the saltwater is rising, slowly submerging the landmass where the couple is located. They know that the argument has to stop immediately. By now, Ikay’s mother will start to suspect about missing her chore to safeguard their youngest. Also, Ken needs to start his daytime job as a trisikad driver, or else he’ll receive harsh words from her drunk mother who’s addicted to playing bingo and mahjong, if he can’t bring anything for dinner. “I am sorry for forcing you to go through all of this,” Ken blurted out. He swerved his head away from the sight of her girlfriend while letting his calloused fingers to catch each drop of tear. “Before this, I’ve always believed in fate – that the universe will always find a way to deliver goodness in life. I thought that the animal is all part of the universe’s blessings. But none of this is true. It’s just your decision that matters,” he talked despite a broken tone. “It’s the fault of the both of us,” Ikay replied to lighten up her boyfriend’s guilt. She wanted to cry but she needs to sustain her composure. “You know that I’ve always wanted you to be the father of this animal. You are brave enough to think of our future. You are selfless for serving your troubled family since


your father had left. You may be inexperienced in life, just like I do, but knowing how much you care for the people you love is enough,” Ikay did not bother to notice the tears flowing since she started talking. “Soon, you will be a great father.” “I know,” Ken smiled. “I should unleash this animal.” The saltwater drowned the landmass soon after the couple had left. No traces were left; just the music from the moving waters, singing insects, and screeching mangrove twigs. The secret spot near the mangrove forest is finally abandoned.



RANYL CHRISTIAN GREGORIO is a graduate of BS Chemical Engineering Class of 2019. Aside from writing, his interests include music, movies, and anime. JEWEL ROSE MANSIA is currently a 2nd year AB-English student. Apparently, anything related to Taylor Swift interests her. Weirdness can surprisingly catch her attention. She does art both in visual and literary. FRANCIS CLARK DAVID is a second year student taking up Bachelor of Secondary Education major in Math. He is interested with stories, especially romance, with tragic endings. Even though he’s not into reading, Clark considers writing as his outlet to express his ideas. ANG HULING ERMITANYA isang dilag na namangka sa nakasanayang sapa, ngunit nangahas sumagwan patungo sa karagatan nang may tapang at tiwala. Joke. Ronalyn Arangale, AB-Psych student and a patriotic woman who loves Philippine literature--- the one who admires her own language. PERCIVAL CYBER NIDEA VARGAS is a cinephile and a Human, who considers film and poetry as the greatest art forms existing today. He is a senior news writer of Atenews and vice-president external of The Society of Ateneo Literature and English Mavens (SALEM). “Percy” is also an ardent devotee, but only of David Lynch, e e cummings, and lately, José Garcia Villa’s opuses. AMIEL LOPEZ is a graduating BSEd Biological Science student of Ateneo de Davao University. He is an aspiring environmental anthropologist and a YSEALI Academic Fellow - Spring 2019 Alumnus. He is the founder of Project DYESABEL (Davao Youth’s Environmentally Sustainable Advocacies Building and Empowering Lives) and was awarded as an Everyday Dabawenyo Hero by the City Government of Davao (2019). He’s passionate about inclusive and quality education integrating it with environmental conservation, and co-creating innovative solutions towards sustainability.



MATTHEW VAN MICHAEL LAPIZ Isang incoming fifth year Accountancy student na nangarap maging isang manunulat noong bata pa siya. Sinusubukan niya ang pagsusulat ngayong nasa kolehiyo na siya. Sinimulan niya sa mga tula at ngayon naman sa isang maikling kwento. Sana hindi pa huli ang lahat para magsulat siya ng mga kwento at tula. RON CIEGO is currently looking for a job. He enjoys reading authors like G.K. Chesterton, Stephen King, Salinger, and many more. He listens to Bob Dylan, Kendrick Lamar, and often—when he’s bored in the bus—Charlie XCX, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Billie Eilish. He considers Nick Joaquin, Horacio de la Costa SJ, Bp. Robert Barron, and Ignatius of Loyola (among many) to be his heroes. He now hates Twitter. GIAN PAOLO CELIS MALLO is a Communication Arts sophomore in Ateneo de Davao University. He is a visual artist on Instagram under the username gigidrawer. He usually draws his own characters with the backdrop of Davao City set in the 80s or 90s. Two of his artworks were previously published in the 2019 issue of Diwanag – an art folio of Atenews. He also writes poems and stories that contains LGBT content. KARL QUILAL-LAN is a second year Psychology major (Sy. 2019-2020). Loves dogs. GWYNETH MARIE VASQUEZ, currently serving as the Associate Editor of Atenews, is a self-styled feminist who hails from the historic city of Butuan. She has recently dug into herself and realized that she has a love for the outdoors. While she is majoring in political science at the Ateneo de Davao University, she hopes to pursue a degree in Anthropology very soon. ROSVIR KATE FLORES is an aspiring future educator who would love to dedicate her life in service for the Filipino youth. She loves dogs as much as she loves children. Aside from her interest in literature and journalism, she also spends time for volunteer works. RR is a second year Marketing student of Ateneo de Davao University. Rr is a member of the LGBTQA+ club in the University known as the Ateneo Libulan Circle and is known her afro curls, creative looks and wide love for arts.



Short Story Reil Benedict Obinque Reil is a graduate from Ateneo de Davao University. Some of his works have been published in Dagmay, the Philippines Graphic, the Brown Orient, and the Manila Times. A member of the Davao Writers’ Guild and a fellow to the Iligan and Silliman University National Writers Workshop, he currently works as a calculus teacher in Ateneo de Davao Senior High School. Jill Esther Parreño Jill is a second year BS Development Communication student in the University of the Philippines Los Baños. She was the champion of the Kabataan Essay category in the 66th Palanca Memorial Awards, with her essay titled “To Thine Own Self Be True” winning first place. In 2018, she was awarded as JCI Davao’s 51st Most Outstanding High School Graduate. Her MOHSG project Sidlak Stories, which developed bilingual Bisaya-Tagalog storybooks and held storytelling seminars for parents, also won best project. Macario Tiu Macario D. Tiu is a homegrown Mindanao scholar, historian, a community poet, famous writer, editor, and researcher for English and Visayan story primarily fiction in verse. He is a professor in literature at the Ateneo de Davao University who has a doctorate in education. His fictions and poems which was written in Cebuano and English have appeared in Philippines Free Press, Philippines Graphic and Bisaya. He received three Palanca golds for Short Story in Cebuano, and is a recipient of the National Book Award in 2005 for Davao: Reconstructing History from Text and Memory.



Poetry Maria Gliceria Valdez Ria Valdez was a writing fellow for poetry in the Davao Writers Workshop (2014) and for creative nonfiction in the UST National Writers Workshop (2018) and the recent Silliman University National Writers Workshop. She was also a guest panelist and craft lecturer in the Cagayan de Oro Young Writers Studio (2018) and the 1st Ateneo Libulan Circle LGBT Writers Workshop (2018). Her works are published in Dagmay, UP Press, and Marias at Sampaguitas. She is currently a member of the Davao Writers Guild and a teacher of Creative Writing and Creative Nonfiction in Davao City National High School. Jhoanna Lynn Cruz Jhoanna Lynn B. Cruz is Associate Professor of literature and creative writing at the University of the Philippines Mindanao. She received her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and a Master of Arts in Language and Literature, major in English, both with high distinction, from De La Salle University-Manila. Her first book, “Women Loving. Stories and a Play”, published in 2010 by De La Salle University and Anvil Publications, is the first single-author collection of lesbian-themed work in the Philippines. In 2015, her stories were published as an eBook entitled “Women on Fire.” Her poetry chapbook, “Heartwood” was published in the Road Map Series in 2011. She has received Carlos Palanca Memorial Literary Awards for her writing. She is currently a PhD Candidate of RMIT University, Australia. Ian Derf Salvaña Ian Salvaña is an AB Political Science graduate of Ateneo de Davao University and the former associate editor of Atenews. He has been recently admitted to and offered scholarship by the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, Hungary and Vienna, Austria for the one-year program of MA in Political Science. He is engaged in multidisciplinary research projects in the social sciences, focusing on peace, conflict and security. He has received various fellowships in peace, leadership, journalism and literary writing around the country, the latest being the Ateneo National Writers Workshop and the Philippine Climate Journalism Workshop, both in June 2018, and the PUP National Writers Workshop in May 2019.


About the cover BANAAG DIWA 2019


What confronts the artist, time and time again, is the challenge of transforming a theme into an imagery that confidently and effectively relays the idea behind an art. Aside from the challenge of breaking away from the vast impositions of already established ideas which the viewers, including the artist him or herself, impose over everything in this temporal world, the artist constantly finds him or herself in a quest of reflection and rediscovery. And the art editors of Atenews, in finding a fitting theme to continue the literary folio’s legacy and in translating the theme into visual representations, has seen this process as both a struggle and joy in the discovery and defense of the new. We incorporated the red blindfold to signify the privileges each of us has, that when left unchecked, can ultimately impair our vision of the realities the victims of underprivileged societies are facing. The blindfold is red precisely due to the intensity of the color that conveys strong human sensations such as rage, desire, and determination. The sight of the repugnant injustices our blindfold had once prevented us from seeing should anger us. It should imbue our blood with an intense desire for change and liberation. The need and want to challenge and reform the structures that keep injustices stable and burgeoning should be as inundating as the color of the blood which has been exploited by and for the privileged. Literature and photography should reflect this kind of determination. The rediscovery of structural injustices should be written, captured, and echoed through different platforms to rid ourselves and others of the blindfolds, to realize what has kept us on the platformsto begin with.

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