heights vol. 65 no. 3 Copyright 2018 heights is the official literary and artistic publication and organization of the Ateneo de Manila University. Copyright reverts to the respective authors and artists whose works appear in this issue. No part of this book may be r eprinted or reproduced in any means whatsoever without the written permission of the copyright holder. This publication is not for sale. Correspondence may be addressed to: heights, Publications Room, mvp 202 Ateneo de Manila University p.o. Box 154, 1099 Manila, Philippines Tel. no. (632) 426-6001 loc. 5448 heights - ateneo.org Creative Direction by Dianne L. Aguas and Ninna Lebrilla Cover and Dividers by Dianne L. Aguas Layout by Dianne L. Aguas, Zianne Agustin, Kim Alivia, Rico Cruz, Justine Daquioag, Arien Lim, Diorjica Ranoy, Elyssa Villegas Folio Launch Team: Zianne Agustin, Sandy Añonuevo, Kim Bernardino, Brianna Cayetano, Gelo Dawa, Sofia Guanzon, Anton Molina, Trisha Reyes, Julien Tabilog, Bea Valenzuela, Charles Yuichoco Typeset in mvb Verdigris
Contents Benilda Santos 1 Ang Amen sa Drain ng Lababo Christian Benitez 2 Sapagkat Dumarating ang Panahong Hindi na Sasapat ang Pananalinghaga Mikaela Regis 3 Never Forget Ang Pinaka Mainit Na Araw Ng 2017 Martina Herras 7 Maynila Alyssa Gewell A. Llorin 15 Ang Tunay na Mukha ng Anghel Paolo Tiausas 16 Teatro ni San Francisco DC Mostrales 18 Notes from My Echo Chamber Karl Estuart 24 Drone Janelle Paris 26 In Spain, the word of God Joshua Uyheng 27 Calypso Teaches Odysseus How to Swim Michaela Gonzales Tiglao 32 Intercession Gabrielle Leung 43 This is a picture I did not take Regine Cabato 44 Editorial
Martin Villanueva 46 Elective Isabel Yap 47 Good Girls 63 An Ocean the Color of Bruises Jill Arteche 78 6:30 am Commute Isobel Francisco 79 News 89 King and Queen of Hearts Carra Amanda Dazo 80 the brink Julianna Sta. Ana and Aisha Rallonza 81 Chrysalis Kristine A. Caguiat 85 Bruiser Hermogenes B. Arayata iv 90 乱取り (Taking Chaos) Clare Bianca Tantoco 92 Ana (series) Marco T. Torrijos 94 Pizza Dinner
Editorial Throughout this year, heights has set out to recover the roles of art and literature in our social realities—to think about what it means for us to be making art and literature in our current context. That is to say, we have been turning our focus not only to the kind of works the Atenean community can make, but what these works might be able to say, ask, or even do. In our first folio, we challenged readers, writers, and artists to see the intersections of the personal and the political, and how these spaces might propel engagement. In our second folio, we looked at how past and present works might converse, and how this juxtaposition might generate further possibilities. As we push further in the year’s third folio, we must recognize the limitations in our efforts, which parallel the apparent trend of increased sociopolitical involvement on campus. In the age of the internet, our discourse often seems omnipresent and foreverongoing. Yet so much of the conversation taking place within our community is broadly representative of what we might call, as a shorthand, “Atenean” narratives and mindsets: products of a relatively similar middle- and upper-class context, and the ideologies that background and our shared education cultivate in us. To some extent, it is simplistic to talk about “Atenean” narratives as though they were homogenous or singular. But it is undeniable that there are general similarities both in terms of sociopolitical thought and with regards to our creative pursuits. As much as one might hope that the Ateneo (and within it, our artistic and literary community) is diverse, to put the truth simply, there are plenty of voices that this community leaves out. We must be willing to own up to when our privilege can blind us; it would more dangerous to deny that the Ateneo community does, vi
in general, have biases and assumptions. It would be irresponsible to continue on as though we represented a view from nowhere. It is useful to talk about these shared narratives and the institutions which cultivate them, in hopes that by naming and unpacking our perspectives, we might begin to see where they fall short. These lenses through which we see the world are themselves often invisible; so often, they are passed down or built up over so many years that we simply cannot imagine ourselves without them. And because they color how we understand the world, it becomes difficult to separate what is true from what our biases simply wish to be true. Attempts at engagement which are not open to questioning themselves lead to a stagnancy—true both of political action and of our creative pursuits. This folio asks how critical and even contrarian art and writing might be turned on the self and on the institutions that the self finds place in. In it, we attempt to unpack the ways our perspectives have blinded us to other realities, to a plurality of thought and experience beyond our own. In art and literature, after all, we take on the challenge of naming things, of articulating and giving form to what would otherwise remain amorphous, internalized, and silent. The works in this folio foreground thought process and vantage point—the often mundane, the given, the taken-for-granted. Pieces like Jill Arteche’s “6:30 am Commute” and Christian Benitez’s “Sapagkat Dumarating ang Panahong Hindi na Sasapat ang Pananalinghaga” take a closer look at otherwise ordinary encounters: a commute, a silence. But in rendering the experiences with a keen eye, they defamilarize the situations and bring light to the intricacies of intimacy and power dynamics that would otherwise escape notice. Often, it is this very familiarity that lends strength to the works of art and literature in this folio. Regine Cabato’s “Editorial” utilizes detournement, taking lines from student editorials from 1950 to 2000; the reader is struck by how similar the problems of the Ateneo community have been over the decades, bringing to mind
questions on the stagnancy of campus politics and the futility of attempts at stimulating discourse. Benilda Santos’ “Ang Amen sa Drain ng Lababo” situates the persona in a basic state of hunger, and describes the meal viscerally, almost with disgust. Still, the juxtaposition of these more primal urges with the ritualized language of faith draws attention to how the institution of religion continues to insist itself onto the persona. A critical look at our shared narratives can lend itself well to deconstructing the institutions we move through; the works in this folio cast an equally critical look at the self operating within those structures. The individual is not merely shaped by the communities that they belong to, but can instead take a self-reflexive and actively radical position. DC Monstrales’ “Notes from My Echo Chamber” is able to challenge societal issues such as the drug war, while simultaneously critiquing popular strands of analysis as well as the author’s own ambivalences. The distance that artistic and literary interpretation creates between the author, the reader, the subject, and the piece itself allows for a heightened sense of awareness as different ways of seeing are constructed and challenged. As sharp a tool for critique these turns towards deconstruction and defamiliarization can be, many of the pieces in this folio create spaces for ambiguity as well. In Hermogenes B. Arayata IV’s “乱取り (Taking Chaos)”, viewers are asked to engage and think about how they themselves are seeing things—and perhaps why and how they came to the conclusions that they eventually make about the pieces. The initial opaqueness asks the reader to become more aware of their construction of meaning; by engaging with and challenging our perspectives, there comes to the fore a fluidity of meaning which allows for the broadening of worldview. At the end of the day, the call to critically examine our perspectives should not be mistaken for an excuse for navel-gazing. We must not be satisfied with cursory acknowledgements of the shortcomings that our perspectives and institutions present. We must continue to mold and transform our narratives and lenses by engaging with viewpoints both within the Ateneo and beyond it (even, and perhaps viii
especially, with those which run contrary to our own sensibilities). We must grapple with ways that we might begin to expand both our theoretical and practical knowledge, and in doing so, take on the project of creating spaces for empathy and dissent within our own institutions. As our folio cover suggests, the task is not merely to call attention to the glass, but to shatter it. The task is to find a way to move beyond those perspectives, to continue to test out more fitting and nuanced lenses, to be willing to evaluate and reevaluate our own complicity in the structures of power which silence so many voices. With the contentions around suffrage and this yearâ€™s Sanggunian elections, the debate surrounding sexual harassment policies on campus, and the recently resolved cba deadlock and workersâ€™ strike, we are reminded to be critical of the structures of power even within our own community. Moreover, we are called to be careful of the often simplistic or even ill-informed narratives that are crafted around these issues. We continue to ask: whose voices are still unheard or silenced? The question, then, is not how we can find ways to speak for those voices, but perhaps how much we are willing to challenge and give up our own beliefs to make space for listening. Gabrielle Leung April 2018
Ang Amen sa Drain ng Lababo Kung minsan ang pag-usal ng panalangin ay kasing kabagot-bagot ng paghuhugas-pinggan pagkapananghali ulam ang suwaheng isinigang sa kapipitas na kamyas, na nang mabalatan, isinawak sa sukang pinatisan sa platitong malukong. Hindi pa ba sapat ang masiyahan sa kabila ng pagkulapol ng lansang masangsang sa daliring nagdeliryo rin sa sarap kasabay ng pagsingit ng malagkit na kanin sa kuko dala ng diin ng pagdakot, na, bunga naman ng pag-uulol ng gana? Bakit kailangang itaas pa sa nibel ng hinahon itong pagpapakabundat sa pamamagitan ng pag-uurong ng pinag’kanan nang wari nais makaligtaan sa ‘sang iglap ang naninikit na paraisong tinamo ng kayamuan eh, mahabang kasaysayan naman ang nag-iinat sa likod ng lahat? Sige na nga. Ikukumpisal ko na sa inyo na nakadukmo pa rin sa mesa, na hindi pa ako handang talikuran ang ginhawa at pagkapuno, ni ang pagbibingi-bingihan sa samo ng Banal na Santatlo na ‘wag na ‘wag hahayaang dumulas nang gayon na lamang ang Amen sa drain niyaong nangungutim at nagbabara na’ng lababo.
Sapagkat Dumarating ang Panahong Hindi na Sasapat ang Pananalinghaga1 Sapagkat ang gawain ng pagsusulit ng sarili, pagsusuri ng sarili, pagsusubaybay ng sarili sa isang sunuran ng mga malilinaw na napakahulugang pagsasanay, ang nakapagpapangyari sa tanong hinggil sa katotohanan—ang katotohanang abala sa pagiging ng isa, ng ginagawa ng isa, at ng magagawa ng isa—bilang pinakabuod ng pagbuo ng isang wastong suheto, sa mga pagkakataong ganoon nga, ang ibig sabihin—tulad sa tuwing sasabihing Gabi na, at tahimik akong tatanggi sa pagkibit-balikat ko sa bigat ng gabi, hanggang sa uulitin mo, nang may diin, Gabi na, na Oras na para umuwi, at magkikibit-balikat lamang akong muli, na akala mo, wala akong naririnig, at ganoon, hanggang sa, sa muling pag-ulit mo nito, na noon, higit nang mas tahimik, na Gabi na, na Oras na para umuwi, na Hindi ka pa ba uuwi, tatanggi akong muli, at tatanggi ako kahit sa mga balikat ko, sa kanilang pagkibit, tatanggi ako, at mapasasabing, Ayaw ko pang umuwi, at nang mas mariin, Huwag ka na lang din munang umuwi, at, matapos na kapwang ang mga balikat natin ay ikinibit, sa higit pang linaw, Samahan mo muna ako sandali, mananahimik, at ganoon na nga—ang ibig lamang sabihin.
Salin ang kalahati ng “Sapagkat Dumarating ang Panahon na Hindi Sumasapat ang Pananalinghaga” mula sa The Care of the Self ni Michel Foucault. 1
Never Forget Ang Pinaka Mainit na Araw ng 2017 napaupo na ako sa upuan sa ingay ng silid. Sa bawat sigaw ng mga nagtatakbuhang mga puti at kayumanggi, padiin nang padiin ang mga pasmadong palad ko habang tinatakpan ang pakiramdam kong nagdudugo ko nang mga tainga. Kasabay pa ng namumuong sakit sa ulo ang mainit na tirik ng araw na siyang dahilan ng pagkatuyot ng mga halaman at sanhi ng basang batok, kili-kili, hita, at noo ko. Walang binatbat ang kapal ng semento ng mga pader ng MapĂşa laban sa isa sa mga pinaka masamang elemento ng panahon namin ngayon: ang heatstroke. Naalala ko tuloy ang mga nag-aaral ng Edukasyong Pangkatawan sa labas. Sumilip ako sa bintana kanina lamang at rinig na rinig mula sa ikalawang palapag ang tunog ng pag-angal sa pinahabang oras ng pagtatakbo. Nakakaawa ngunit hinding-hindi ko gugustuhing malagay sa posisyon nila. Over my dead body, ika nga ni inay. Mabuti pa rito at may mga bentilador: apat sa kisame, isang nakatayo. Ngunit sa totoo lamang, walang nagagawa ang mga ito. Binuksan na ang lahat ng mga bintana upang magbigay daan sa hangin sa labas ngunit mga lamok at langaw lamang ang nagsisipasok. Ilang minuto na ang nakalipas ngunit hindi pa rin tumatahimik ang dagsa ng mga maliliit na bubwit sa silid. Nagawa pa ngang tumili ng isa. Sa tinis ng kanyang boses pakiramdam ko na may nagpasok ng maliit na karayom sa tainga ko. Sa galit, kasimbilis ng mga paa nilang kumakabig, tumayo ako at tinungtungan ang upuan upang sigawan ang lahat na manahimik. Ngunit, ako ang natahimik nang nakita ang nag-iisang nakaupo na si Archimedes. Tinatakpan din ng mga palad niya ang kanyang mga tainga. Kitang-kita mula rito sa itaas ang tatak na hugis-tala sa likod ng kamay niya. Excellent! Sabi ng tatak. Hindi ko na kinakailangang lumapit upang mabasa ang salita dahil gayun
din naman ang nakalagay sa palad ko. Kaming dalawa lamang ang palaging natatatakan. “andyan na si maaaaaa'aaaaaam!” Hindi ko alam kung kanino nanggaling ang babala, ngunit wala nang oras upang alamin at patay kami kung mahuli na wala sa upuan. Nang nakabalik at sa wakas, nanahimik, KlikKlakKlikKlakKlikKlakKlikKlakKlikKlakKlikKlakKlikK—biglang bumukas ang pinto at ang una kong napansin ang kinang ng ginto niyang mga hikaw. Sumunod ang tunog ng nagsasagian niyang mga pulseras. Ngayon lamang ako nakakita ng tunay na ginto at bagay na bagay ito sa sinasabi ni itay na gintong panahon namin ngayon. Pagkatapos kumaway, ipinasok ni ma’am ang mga kamay sa bulsa at natitigan ko nang mabuti ang mukhang mamahalin na maong niya. “I’m Me, ang bagong guro ng Baitang Lima, Seksyon Kabataang Barangay.” Walang kahangin-hangin sa loob ng silid ngunit tila nililipad ang mataas, mahaba, at itim na buhok ni ma’am. Napakaganda ng kanyang ngiti, hindi ko maalis ang mga mata ko sa kanyang matingkad na pulang mga labi. Kung kaya’t nang sunod na pumasok ang apat na seryoso at malalaking mga lalaki, hindi ko sila napansin agad. Tumigil sila sa bandang likod ni ma’am, nakatayo ng tuwid habang nakababa ang mga braso, nakapatong ang kaliwang kamay sa kanan. Sa mga suot nilang mga polo at pantalon ko nakita ang pinaka malinis na puti, pinaka planstado, at nakabubulag na itim sa buong mundo. Pagkatapos ng matagal na katahimikan sa pagkahumaling kay ma’am, biglaang bumalik ang ingay sa silid. Nais magpapansin ng lahat sa kanya at sa bawat ngiting natanggap, higit na lumalakas ang mga kahol nila. “Napanood siya ni itay sa Mother Courage. Napakagaling daw niya!” Sigaw ng katabi ko sa akin. Ngayon ko lamang narinig ang salitang Courage. Hindi pa namin natatalakay iyon sa Ingles, ngunit sigurado akong pangmayaman ang salitang Mother at marahil higit sa lahat, ang Courage. Alam ko ito dahil anak mayaman ang katabi ko at narining ko siyang tinawag na Mother ang inay niya. Sinubukan ko ring tawaging Mother ang inay ngunit binatukan at pinagtawanan niya lamang ako. Isang araw, narinig 4
kong nag-uusap si inay at ang kanyang mga kaibigan. Maghahanap daw sila ng gusali sa kahit anong unibersidad at ipakakabit ang mga apelyido nila upang masabi na sila ang nagpatayo nito. Baka sakali raw na payagan ang mga anak nilang laktawan ang ilang mga baitang sa eskuwela tulad ng anak ng mga pamilyang nagbibigay ng malaking donasyon sa paaralan. Pinagtawanan nila ang isa’t isa. Sinabi ko sa kaibigan kong pinapaalis na ng prinsipal dahil hindi makabayad ng matrikula na isulat na lamang ang apelyido niya sa gusali namin at binatukan niya rin ako. Nakangiti habang kinakamot ang ulo, inisip ko kung sinu-sino pa ang nambatok at tinawanan ako sa aking mga nasasabi nang biglang itinaas ni Archimedes ang kanyang kamay. Kitang-kita ang tatak niya na may matingkad na kulay ng krimson mula sa puwesto ko. Ako lamang ang nakapansin. Patuloy ang mga tili, sigaw, pagmamakaawa, pagpupuri, at kahol. “Pangalan?” Umalingawngaw ang boses ni ma’am sa buong silid. Boses na bahagyang mababa para sa boses ng babae. Doon natahimik ang lahat. “Archimedes Trajano ma’am. Nais ko lamang itanong, bakit kayo po ang pumalit sa dating guro namin? Hindi niyo naman po makukuha ang trabahong ito kung hindi po kayo anak ng prinsipal namin.” Sa sandaling iyon, dumapo ang isang malaking lamok sa kanang pisngi ko at dali-dali kong sinampal ang parteng iyon ng mukha ko. Napatingin ako sa kaliwa sa bigat ng aking kamay. Kasabay naman ng tunog ng sampal ang pagsampal ng mga kasama ni ma’am kay Archimedes. Lumipad palayo ang lamok ngunit sa sandaling iyon, dumapo ang isa pang malaking lamok sa kaliwang pisngi ko at dali-dali kong sinampal ang parteng iyon ng mukha ko. Napatingin ako sa kanan sa bigat ng aking kamay. Kasabay naman ng tunog ng sampal ang pagsuntok ng mga kasama ni ma’am kay Archimedes. Lumipad palayo ang lamok ngunit sa sandaling iyon, dumapo ang isa pang malaking lamok sa kanang braso ko at dali-dali kong sinampal ang parteng iyon ng katawan ko. Napatingin ako sa braso ko sa bigat ng aking kamay. Kasabay naman ng tunog ng sampal ang pagtagdyak ng mga kasama ni ma’am kay Archimedes. Lumipad palayo ang lamok ngunit 5
sa sandaling iyon, dumapo ang isa pang malaking lamok sa kaliwang braso ko at dali-dali kong sinampal ang parteng iyon ng katawan ko. Napatingin ako sa kabilang braso ko sa bigat ng aking kamay. Kasabay naman ng tunog ng sampal ang pagsaksak ng mga kasama ni maâ€™am kay Archimedes. Lumipad palayo ang lamok ngunit sa sandaling iyon, dumapo ang isa pang malaking lamok sa dibdib ko at dali-dali kong sinampal ang parteng iyon ng katawan ko. Napatingin ako sa polo ko sa bigat ng aking kamay. Kasabay naman ng tunog ng sampal ang paghagis ng mga kasama ni maâ€™am kay Archimedes sa bukas na bintana. May pulang mantsa sa kung saan ko napatay ang insekto. Sa wakas. Tiningnan ko ang aking palad at may kakaunti rin itong pula. Sa gitna ng pula ang napisil na katawan ng malaking lamok. Dali-dali kong ipinunas ang kamay ko sa aking pantalon. Kung sumigaw man si Archimedes o hindi nang nahulog siya, hindi ako makasisigurado. Kanina pa bumalik ang ingay ng silid. Malulunod sa mga tili, sigaw, pagmamakaawa, pagpupuri, at kahol ang boses ni Archimedes, kung umimik man siya. Marahil oo, karamihan sa kanila, hindi napipigilang humiyaw man lamang. Tumayo ako at pumunta sa mga bintana. Nais kong makita kung tumatakbo parin ang kaninang mga nasa labas ngunit si Archimedes ang una kong nakita. Bukas ang mga mata ngunit walang nakikita at hindi gaanong makita dahil magang-maga. Nakanganga ang bibig ngunit walang sinasabi. Baluktot ang mga braso at mga paa, kakaiba at interesante ang hugis na nabubuo. Makulay ang kanyang damit at balat kung saan nagkaisa ang itim, puti, kayumanggi, lila, berde na pinamumunuan ng pula. Hindi ko maalis ang mga mata ko sa lumalaking pula sa dibdib niya nang biglang dumaan ang mga kabaitang ko na kanina pa tumatakbo sa ilalim ng araw. Nakakaawa. Nang nawala sila sa linya ng paningin ko, biglang kumati ang kanang braso ko. Nang kinamot, naramdamang may maliit na paga sa balat ko na sigurado ako na kagat ng lamok. Doon, nanlaki ang mga mata ko, bumilis ang tibok ng puso, nanlamig, nanginig, at nanigas ang buong katawan, hindi mapakali, hindi makapaniwala, at kagyat na pinagpawisan. 6
na hindi natutulog ang siyudad ay pagmamahal sa oras kung saan pinakamaingay ang gabi.
May pusang nakatabig ng basurahan
Kailan ba naging ganito
na diniliman mo na ang mga ilaw, ang pagsabi
ng kuryente sa ilalim sa kabila ng pagpapaalam
Siyudad ang puso at nananalaytay ang kidlat
8 ang aking nahihingi. Hinahanap ko ang iyong
kung nasaan man ako, at sinasabi kong lubos akong mabuti kahit na pagpapatawad lang
kung nasaan ako, at ganito na nga, na wala Ka
dahil hindi ko ito naririnig
walang tunog galing sa pagbagsak ng yero, tahimik
kinukuha ang boses mula sa aking lalamunanâ€”
â€œiiwan mo rin ba ako
Wala kang kasalanan.
Tinutukso ako ng tunog ng tren,
ang aking katawan sa isang sakit na inakala kong
sagot ngunit nararamdaman ko lang na lumulubog
rin ako makakalayo.
ang aking nalalaman
kabisado ang mga daanan
Nakikita ko ang aking sarili
ang pangalan. Hindi
ang mukha ng mga abenidang
ko mahihila mula sa alaala
sa tuwing may hinahahanap ako
na lugar, hindi ko hinahanap Hinahanap ko
tungkol sa mga mapa:
ngunit malayo ako
sa kung saan man
na mga oras ng umaga,
mangmang na nagmamahal
bang nangangako na mamatay. Ako
umiindakâ€” indak na para
isa rin itong lampara
Siyudad ang puso
sa pag-upo sa dulo
ng naglalagablab na bumbilya.
na naghahanap ng init
alyssa gewell a. llorin
Ang Tunay na Mukha ng Anghel Mahapdi ang salita ng bata. Narito ang kutsilyong hindi lumiligoy sa patikim na pulang guhit. Narito siyang deretsuhang bumabaon sa puso. Pagmasdan ang itak na naka-usli sa dibdib. Humanga at manginig. Ito ang kapangyarihan ng katotohanan. Ito ang mga mamamatay-taong minamahal ng masa. Lahat tayo’y masokista. Lahat tayo’y nagsisinungaling sa ating sarili. Lahat tayo’y mamamatay. Lahat tayo’y nangangailangan ng bata sa ating buhay.
Teatro ni San Francisco Sa teatro na pinamumugaran ng lahat ng pangyayari, binabasbasan ni San Francisco ang lahat ng dasal. Gawin mo kong kasangkapan ng iyong kapayapaan, gawin akong liwanag saanman manaig ang dilim, tulungan akong patikumin ang bibig ng kaklaseng ayaw tigilan ang pagpuna sa palda ng aming bisita at ang paniniko ng kanyang katabi sa bawat hirit na paniguradong malaswa kung hindi sa mismong salita ay malaswa sa intensyon sapagkat minsan lamang makakita ng babaeng hindi uugod-ugod o nagtuturo ng dayuhang matematika gamit ang yeso sa pisara. Hindi ko naman kailangan niyan, sagot ko sa isip. Madami pa namang buhay na mas nakasasabik, matututuhan ko lamang pagdaan ng isang dekada, tulad ng dalawang taon na Passenger Seat ang kanta sa lahat ng intermission number sa mga recognition, science fair, sabayang pagbigkas, at kahit career talk. Dalawang gitara at isang kahon, minsan hiwalay pa sa mga iyon ang bokalista ng gawa-gawang banda, iindayog sa mga kathang-isip na alaala ang kabuuan ng mga mag-aaral na nakatanghod sa simpleng kanta. Noon pa lamang binibilang ko na ang pagkakataong mapabilang sa iba, ang makababa mula sa salamin ng pagkakahiwalay mula sa lahat ng mga nilalang, ang makapaghubad ng damit at makapagpalit sa lumang sakong may mantsa ng alikabok at abo, ang maging kapatid sa lahat ng mga nagkakapatid na bagay na nagkataong nabigyang-hininga ng diyos. Inisip ko rin ang pagkakataon na makatuntong sa entablado hindi para bigyang-puna o -papuri 16
kundi para maging pinuno sa pagbubuo ng awit na kikilalanin nang lahat bilang nagmamarka sa pagmamadali ng mga taon at taong nagdaan. Kaya siguro walang natupad sa mga pangarap ko. Babala na noon ang teatro na may mga palabas na totoo. Imbis na mangarap, ugaliing manood. Tumango lamang nang tumango dahil ang akala laro, rehersal na pala ng mga sandaling aakma ang pagiging bato, halaman, araw, tipaklong, asukal, hangin, tupa, hipon, amihan, tahong, batang lalake na nalipasan nang mala-pelikulang Iâ€™ve got all that I need / right here in the passenger seat dahil hindi kailanman nagsamateryal ang kotse, wala ring nagmamaneho at lalong walang pasahero, at sa gitna ng kalsada nakatayo ako sa pagitan ng mga ilog ng pulaâ€™t dilaw, hinihintay ang text ng panginoon na bubuksan na niya ang tabing, sige na, ikaw na, maghanda ka na, oras mo na.
Notes from my Echo Chamber 1. Anger begins with care. 2. The City. Or Too Many Assholes Who Cut In Line. Or Many Elbows in Close Proximity. Or If You Think Everyone Around You Is an Asshole, Guess Who the Asshole Is? 3. I know a radical feminist who voted for the Poon. Her reasoning: regardless of who sits in Malacañang, she will inevitably have to oppose them; she voted for the person most likely to address her specifically Bisaya concerns. One can’t presume to know the moral axis people subscribe to. 4. On the demographics won over besides the Bisaya: Classes ABC, Mindanawon, Moro—yes, still largely true according to my little bubble, despite the destruction of Marawi. 5. I can’t account for all these voices, nor will I attempt to. You can ask them yourself. If you don’t have anyone to ask in your immediate circle, then that in itself is telling. 6. We like to say how our anger, our voices are valid? But by the same logic of that tradition, have we considered that perhaps it is not our voices that merit the spotlight? “Taga-Mindanao ka ba?” 7. I am Mindanawon. But I will make a presumption: most of my readers are not. Here’s the confession: I am glad you didn’t “take your seat.” 18
8. Who has the right to be angry? If everyone is angry? 9. The City. Or The Nation. Or We Really Need to Learn How to Talk to Each Other. Or I Am Not a Fan of Using “Experience” to Bludgeon Discourse. 10. Pornography makes a spectacle out of the excess of body fluids. Semen, of course. But also blood, sweat, tears. 11. Go ahead, be angry. It is natural. It is valid. However, remember, that anger is no substitute for speech. Language is our mutual task. 12. Can’t you feel how hard it is for me to use words? 13. Pornography: Blood.1
Aries Joseph Hegina, “‘Pietà’-like Photo, PH Drug War Story on New York Times Front Page,” Philippine Daily Inquirer, August 4, 2016, http://globalnation.inquirer. net/142353/pieta-like-photo-ph-drug-war-story-new-york-times-front-page. 1
14. Do you disagree with me or do I just sound like a person you don’t want to be friends with? 15. The Nation is much too big for “friends”. Or Twitter. 16. On the Algorithm: I once called out a friend who was shookt that anyone from his immediate circle was admin-critical— this despite my consistent ingay since Day 1. Don’t trust your feed. 17. Aphorism: you can only love a person, not a myth. Aphorism, part two: if you love a politician, the politician vanishes. 18. Pornography: Sweat.2
19. No, I am not offering apologia nor am I reiterating the old anodyne about how we shouldn’t judge “bobotantes” too harshly because they have suffered. Nobly. “They had little choice.” Or “it’s not their fault they think that way.” I don’t believe in treating adults like children
Noel Cellis, “Face Towel Ni Presidential Candidate at Davao Mayor Rodrigo ‘Digong’ Duterte...,” April 28, 2016. Facebook Post. 2
20. No, what I am offering is exactly judgment. Yes, to listening. Yes, to empathy. But, afterwards, judgment. 21. Poetry makes nothing happen. 22. Neither does the essay. Or music. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. Nor will it be streamed. 23. Nope, nothing happening here either. 24. On the private sphere: Knock-knock. Who’s there? PNP. PNP who? *BANG* 25. Ece Temelkuran3 says, “Times of oppression create the spectacular oppressor and the spectacular victim. I am now supposed to fill the shoes of this person called ‘the victim.’ It is a full-time job, a non-stop act... [W]hen a woman from the audience, holding her hands together with the graciousness of the Pope washing the feet of the poor, asks me, ‘So what CAN WE do for you?’ I answer: ‘I feel like a baby panda that you’re trying to adopt on a website!’” 26. Once, I took a plane home. As my father and I were driving away from the airport, we saw a still-steaming corpse and a bullet-ridden SUV by the roadside. My dad asked me about what I plan to do after college. 27. Horror is a luxury. 28. Typhoon Sendong hit Iligan City over Christmas. There was a great debate on how to properly show solidarity and mourning for the displaced. “How dare they celebrate when Ece Temelkuran, “We Want Our Refugees and Exiles to Be Victims,” Literary Hub, 2017, http://lithub.com/we-want-our-refugees-and-exiles-to-be-victims/. 3
some people can’t.” Truth is, the displaced couldn’t care less about how anyone else felt. A kind of future had disappeared. They wanted someone to give that back to them. Otherwise, the only thing to be done was to keep walking forward. 29. The roadside corpse became a Facebook status. Friends from Manila were horrified; they offered words of concern and encouragement. Friends from home where delighted I was back. “Where do you wanna hang out!?” 30. Dorte Jessen working in Dadaab, Kenya during a 2011 famine, in the account of Mathew Sweet4: “They didn’t talk or express any emotion. They just kept walking. Once you are past a certain point of exhaustion, there is simply no energy to spare to get emotional.” 31. Sorrow is a luxury, too. 32. Please understand why I can’t regale you with a story. Why we have notes instead. 33. Pornography: Tears.5
Mathew Sweet, “The Luxury of Tears,” 1843, 2016. Maila Ager, “Frustrated ‘Bato’ Turns Emotional, but Vows to Reform PNP,” Philippine Daily Inquirer, November 23, 2016, http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/847167/ has-pnp-lost-publics-trust-bato-turns-emotional. 4 5
34. Maybe, politics is not what we feel. But what we do. 35. Martha Nussbaum6: “The victim shows us something about our own lives: we see that we too are vulnerable to misfortune, that we are not any different from the people whose fate we are watching, and we therefore have reason to fear a similar reversal.” 36. Secretary Vitaliano Napeñas Aguirre ii7: “We should be scared, if they can do it to me, they can do it to anybody, even to the Senators themselves.” 37. Pornhub is the most earnest place in cyberspace. When you could become rubberDaddyxXXXx, the idea of performance starts to vanish. Honesty emerges when everyone wears a mask. Here, there are no “friends”, only hunger. 38. A friend sends me a DM at 3 in the morning. She no longer believes in the change she used to wish for. But she couldn’t dare to say that in public. She didn’t want to disappoint her family. Despite all this, we still want to be loved. 39. This cannot exculpate me. When, I speak of the fragility of the human heart, I speak on my behalf. 40. Jesus said, “Become passers-by.” 41. Anger begins with care. But wrath is slavery to ourselves. 42. So begin. Martha Nussbaum, “Compassion and Public Life,” in Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions (Cambridge University Press, 2003), 408. 7 “‘I Was Targeted’: Aguirre Cries Intrusion of Privacy after Hontiveros’ Statement,” The Philippine Star, September 12, 2017, https://beta.philstar.com/ headlines/2017/09/12/1738411/i-was-targeted-aguirre-cries-intrusion-privacy-afterhontiveros-statement 6
Drone â€œBasinski has said that he finished the project the morning of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, and sat on the roof of his apartment building in Brooklyn with friends listening to the project as the World Trade Center towers collapsed... Stills from the video were used as the covers for the set of four CDs.â€? â€”News on The Disintegration Loops In a recording of drone music, the same note can be held for as long as thirty minutes. But to talk of it in matters of time is beside the point. Drone music may seem to be defined by how long it lasts and therefore how much it takes of time, but that is only a secondary consequence. The drone note is a human action. The action exists in time as consequence. Time is a condition of possibility for the drone note, but this is not the statement the drone note wants to make. What it states is what it does not. In sustaining this note, the composer chooses to withhold sustaining another. He does not have to explain for himself. Music cannot help but appear. The drone note should not have to explain for itself. There are things done for the sake of doing. There is a space that they have told themselves needs to be filled. It was never a matter of time. Boris holds the same loop for twelve minutes on Flood i to evoke the passage of a storm. Thunderous drums drown out the riff overlaid with itself, expressing thunder and the crashing of waves. The riff overlaid with itself, the delay between them growing in increments, the layers separable until the delay extends such that the notes of layer one fill in the intervals between the notes of the other layer. It makes of itself something other. The character of a piece of drone music lies in its steadiness. A note that is unlike a drone note is mired with expectation. A note unlike a drone note is always in longing for return. Basinski in his 24
Disintegration Loops stretches old reels of the drone note over a digital encoder. In the process, the reel, worn by years of neglect, erodes and crumbles, becomes completely unreadable, a garble of feedback. Basinski does not revisit them to recollect them. The drone note does not celebrate a moment by returning to it. As Basinski looks over his balcony, his music finished, only the converse can be trueâ€”a moment celebrates all the notes that will repeat it and fail. There is no before and afterâ€”the recording has always already been recorded. A moment is all its repetitions. The drone note is a return with the moment only as consequence. A drone note is a return without referent. It resists reference.
In Spain, the word of God In the school cafeterĂa I begin to tell Jorge about liberation theology. In English I am overly excited, in Spanish I trip over translations. But the language of Our Social Justice Warrior Jesus knows no errors in syntax so I proceed. What it knows is that the Guardia Civil should not have come with batons and riot shields when the Catalans lined up for the referendum. In the beginning I was not sure if Jesus spoke Castillan. Maybe in the years of Franco he had the accent and spoke too loud and fast and people did not understand. And maybe years later when they made the Pact of Forgetting they forgot him too. Maybe now he only speaks to those people on tv5 who have been asking for state housing in the tiny Spanish pueblo where they live. Around 500 of them in that town on top of a hill. Remote thus sacred. Jorge tells me my Castillan accent is perfect. I wish the same of my grammar. After all I want to talk about the Kingdom of God with classroom fluency. I imagine God will be grading me.
Calypso Teaches Odysseus How to Swim Like a lover, a wife, or any dubious ally, the ocean keeps but a single secret— and the sooner you understand this, Hero, the sooner you’ll keep yourself from giving yourself to it—don’t you know this, isn’t this the body’s faithful duty—which some have called design, though I beg from mere experience to disagree—isn’t this all the body has to hoard for
itself, has hardly any choice but to obey—to remain absolute, keep above the restless pull of sameness, the black and thronging intransigent hands of sameness— irrevocable, irresistible— as they reach out to gently touch your face— oh, the upsurge and down-spiral and the sickening fever of what must pass, even in the ocean’s body, for desire—and you becoming
aware of it, too— and you sharing in it, what you must kick (and kick faithfully) against, what you are obligated by your very own soul to thwart—and though your body may shiver in response, this time, revolt— you must remember your life and what your life represents—dear Hero, dear paragon, dear protagonist of this single myth—your honor, your mission, your men, your far-off kingdom, your ruddy-faced and toothless son, your dear devoted wife by the highest window, forever
tethered to her loom—forget the coolness you feel now, all your perhapses, and perhaps even the heaving pleasure of knowing—as you kick against the impossible depths, as you tread and pace out your one human breath— there is something vast in this world which loves you terribly and yet may allow you to elude it— (should you only thrust your
thrashing against it)— even as it comforts you so—even as without requisite it embraces you— blooms a warmth through the rippling swell of your chest, sends a reckless and unnameable quiet into your weather-beaten heart, your dutiful heart, your steadfast and fighting and tiring limbs.
michaela gonzales tiglao
Intercession juli was not so astonished to find Doña Corazon and her son together in the sala as she was at the sight of the woman crouched in front of the young boy with a firm grip on his chin, inclining his scowling face towards the windows where the early noon sun could illuminate his right side: a fresh bruise blooming around the eye, now swollen, the white around his iris glistening pink and contrasting against bluish-black skin. Her alarmed inquiry was cut short when she was pushed out of the way by another presence, Carmelo dashing towards mother and son with a dishcloth bunched up in his hand. “What has happened?” Juli finally spoke, surveying the scene with alarm. She was both confused and concerned Doña Corazon showed no signs of distress; Doña Corazon merely took the dishcloth from Carmelo and brought it to her son’s face, tending to the bruise as she might wipe the surface of the pianoforte in the corner of the room. Nothing seemed out of place: the portraits of Doña Corazon’s ancestors hanging on the wall remained aligned and pristine, the tables and chairs below them immobile save for the gentle fluttering of the tablecloths from the noon breeze outside. Even the Sto. Niño, there on the altar behind where Doña Corazon’s son, Jaime, stood, had its brown face benevolent and playful. Jaime twisted behind him slightly and scowled once more. “Carmelo, how do you explain this?” Juli demanded her own son. She mistook the silence as guilt; now Carmelo startled in his spot and turned to address her with wide eyes. “It is not his doing,” intervened Doña Corazon. Her unruffled behavior bothered Juli, who was now frowning deeply. To Jaime, she said in levelled tones, “You will let him do as he pleases next time, yes?” “Then I would be in a worse condition!” “He would have gotten bored,” said Doña Corazon. “Change into 32
proper clothes now and we will call for the physician after merienda. Juli, you and Carmelo will eat with us; we prepared too many for just two people, and you must be tired from the errands I sent you off to do.” Afterwards, with the sun sinking behind them as they made for home, Juli could not help but pry for more answers from her son. Carmelo, carrying the bilao of leftover suman Doña Corazon had insisted they bring with them, sighed in frustration. “I did not hit him, Mother.” “Who, then? Was there someone else in that room I did not see? Or are you telling me Doña Corazon would dare lay a hand on her own son? Is this a laughing matter to you?” Juli demanded. “It was neither of us, Ma. It was the Sto. Niño.” Juli tripped but regained balance. Carmelo had turned in surprise—then blanched at the anger he found on his mother’s features. “This is a joke to you?” “No, I swear it! I was there! We had gone to the sala for Jaime’s writing tools—he wanted to write to Don Geronimo in Manila, you see—and suddenly there was the Sto. Niño standing alone in the sala—and I knew it was him because he had stripped his vestments on the floor and wore only a fisherman’s attire—and he wanted to play but Jaime cautioned we ignore him, and I hadn’t even blinked when the Sto. Niño jumped at Jaime, gripping his hair and laughing so gleefully, that before I could intervene they had both started to box each other and I could only rush out of the room to call for Doña Corazon!” Juli was mortified. “Ay, ay! Such excuses!” “But I am not lying, Ma!” “Enough of this! Doña Corazon has been too kind on you. What does this say about us?” Carmelo closed his mouth, seeing the 33
obvious distress he had brought upon her. Juli felt a great fear rise in her chest as she watched her son walk ahead, disappointment written in the lines of his shoulders. He had grown taller since they arrived at this island; he was long-limbed now and remained pale despite the scorching sun. He moved with a certain carefulness, the way his father had when she had first met him. Carmelo seemed to be growing more and more into an uncanny likeness of him. Juli took comfort that though he had her husband’s slender nose and smooth skin, his eyes—large and dark and soothing—were like her own. At last their nipa hut came into view, and Juli was seized with the familiar feeling of dread and trepidation. Against the setting sun the branches of the molave trees around them turned dark, leaves outlined in gold, or perhaps this was the illusion of fireflies now gathering and blinking their lights. There was enough of the sunlight to illuminate their path and the crops Juli had planted around their nipa hut. This part of town was known for its quiet seclusion; the next hut was a couple of minutes from theirs. The first night they settled here, Juli could not sleep from the paranoia of thieves breaking into their home, or worse, bloodied ghosts appearing inside out of nowhere. No harm had come to them, though, at least not by either, and so she grew accustomed to the silence of this part of town. One of their neighbors, a woman wearing black mourning attire, now passed by mother and son. She ignored them and kept her head down low, which was nothing unusual to them, and besides they only crossed each other in the evenings. They neared their hut, and indeed Juli’s husband stood waiting for them on the balcony, his lips pursed. His eyes narrowed at the bilao Carmelo held in his arms, Carmelo keeping his head low as he climbed up the bamboo ladder, muttering a polite greeting to his father, before ducking inside the hut. Her husband’s eyes then slid toward Juli’s, unreadable. “Alas-singko y medya na,” he reminded her. “Where have you been?” “Doña Corazon asked me to deliver something in Looc. Then she invited Carmelo and I for merienda before returning home,” replied Juli softly. 34
“What? Hindi ka ba nahiya?” His cheeks had begun to flush. “Did you want us to look like beggars?” “No,” she stammered, “she insisted. It would have been worse if I declined her request.” She waited fearfully for his response. She could never guess what he was thinking: the last time he hit her was because he had spilled hot rice on his own crotch. He had blamed her for preparing it that way by striking her in the face as soon as she had knelt down to help him. Her cheek was sore and did not lose his handprint for three days. There were more incidents, more reasons he found to use all the time—when they happened, it was still when she least expected it. “If you came home empty-handed it would have been worse,” her husband finally said. “You were thinking. Now prepare dinner before either I or your son complains.” He spun on his heels and entered inside. Dinner was a silent affair. Her husband helped himself to heaps of sinigang and left some small portions behind. When he retired for the night, Carmelo waited until he was out of sight and earshot when he said, under his breath: “He never does anything.” Juli spun to face him, eyes wide. “Huy. Do not talk about your father that way.” Her tone made Carmelo flinch, but the fear that wound its way to her heart was wild and hammering. “Why not?” challenged her son. “It is true.” “Whether it is true or not, you will keep it to yourself, understood?” Carmelo’s eyes, determined and ablaze, widened when he finally did. Pain and sadness sliced his features; he nodded briefly, tightly. Later, Juli would not be able to fall asleep, remembering over and over again her son’s sudden reaction. She woke up later in the day the following morning, roused by a kick administered to her hip from her husband, who moved about their room with mild haste. She watched him from the corner of her eye as she folded their blanket: he dressed quickly in a camiso, then took his rosary from their desk and held its beads between his fingers for a few seconds, before placing it into the pocket of his trousers. 35
Her husband’s devotion was another aspect that puzzled her— she knew this island’s inhabitants were deeply religious, and yet for someone like her husband who despised everything about the place, he was still deeply ingrained in it. “Where are you going?” Juli now asked tentatively. It did not seem like he would answer. Eventually, he said, “Atanacio has a game. I’ll be back before dinner. You had better be here before I am.” She did not miss the threat of if she did not. Carmelo uttered a greeting as his mother and father emerged into the common room. His father responded by placing his palm briefly on his son’s slender shoulder. They waited until he left their hut before beginning with their daily activities. Juli, heart aching at the warring emotions on Carmelo’s eyes, whose features had first melted into a certain softness and tentativeness at the manner upon which his father had regarded him, knelt and took her son’s hands in hers. “Shall we ask Doña Corazon if Jaime would like to accompany us today?” Carmelo looked at her questioningly, but could not conceal his pleasure. “Can we?” “Of course. I cannot see why she would not allow him to.” Juli felt the island’s peerless beauty when the sun rose and the locals began their daily routine. They passed around the gentle face of a mountain whose wide, golden path curved to present a breathtaking view of the ocean that glittered like sapphires and that spread out to meet the horizon. Here the air smelled only of salt, and the winds were crisp and warm. As they descended, the path flattened, and tall crops and overgrowth bloomed along the base of the range; the constant ocean on the other side was dotted with mangroves here and there along its shoreline, of little and larger sizes, sturdy against the steady tides. There were shrieks as younger children chased one another with fistfuls of sand; their sharp laughter pierced the morning air.
Doña Corazon accepted their invitation with the agreement that Jaime was to be escorted back in time for supper. Juli and Carmelo waited outside the large house that spilled with music—Doña Corazon was entertaining guests hailing from all over the place, but had promised to fetch Jaime. When Jaime met them, his cheek bandaged, he was pensive. “What is it?” asked Juli in concern. “Mother and I can’t seem to find the Sto. Niño,” frowned Jaime. “Do you suppose it is because it is the Santa Cruzan tonight?” Carmelo had been watching his mother as Jaime spoke; Juli hid her unnerve. “Ah, the Sto. Niño would be a fool to miss our beautiful girls, no?” “I suppose.” Jaime relaxed. Juli bit her tongue from further questioning. Instead, they followed the narrow dirt track running perpendicular from them, which opened into the town: a network of establishments and houses strewn with May flowers and draperies; young men and young ladies rehearsing the processional dance on the wide noisy streets; Manileños flocking around eagerly, bringing with them their innovative minds as they entered from house to house, for the locals always opened their doors when there was a feast. The townsfolk mostly anticipated the culminating event in the evening: when the parish priest bid them spread the Good News, the mayor would open his doors for the gala, but because there were too many of the townsfolk he would instead light the shore in front of his home with torches, bring out a portion of the orchestra, and redirect more guests towards that space, where the revelry would last until the following morning. They stayed a while in the home of Jaime’s godmother, for the old woman demanded company for her ritual novena. They watched some games and sang some songs with the more avid townspeople; when they had tired of the noontime sports they made their way for the parish further into town, shielded by verdant trees, its belfry ringing the midday toll.
When she was not at Doña Corazon’s—the woman did not think she would need Juli all the time and so had told her to come to their house from time to time—Juli would make for the Sta. Maria Church. It was small, its limestone bricks seeping with mold, yet the townsfolk boasted of it. She had not intended to volunteer to clean the church, but its name had reminded her of her hometown, the place she had given up for her husband’s. He had told her, when they had first met—he a passionate, solemn man seeking respite from the memory of a dead, brutish father; and she much younger, much tender, brimming with the full force of adoration—how he had longed to leave the island completely, body and mind. Yet they found themselves in it, and he, embraced by the suddenness of events, was changed little by little by a hard bitterness and madness, as if the ghost of his father pursued him, relentlessly, accusing him for the debt that allowed him, his wife, and his son to return. The widows of the town were nearly done sweeping through the church when Juli arrived. Nena nodded to her in greeting. She was the parish’s most devoted patron, for when her husband disappeared without any trace—there were rumors of him having a younger lover, but it was not evidenced, and Nena refused to speak of it—she had found refuge in the sanctum of the church. It was the same for the others; they had all found comfort within the limestone walls. A year later, when Juli would arrive for the first time, the widows would confide to her how they had felt the full grace of the Almighty, the Virgin and her Son, and even the saints, amidst the turn in their lives. Carmelo and Jaime sat on one of the pews and conspired solemnly between themselves. Juli started with wiping the altar; she offered a short prayer when she reached the Virgin and her Son. She finished with the rest of the saints, shuddering when she finally reached Sta. Rita de Cascia. Unlike all of the saints, Sta. Rita de Cascia was made poorly out of wood. Whoever had made it had not bothered to paint her skin evenly. Her eyes were disks that made even the most daring of children recoil; her lips were not curled up into a smile. She was drabbed completely in black vestments with only the pale sliver of her face peeking out. 38
Her hands, wooden and stiff, held a skull and the crucifix. “Aling Juli.” Jaime’s voice at her elbow startled her; she pushed down a yelp, heart pounding wildly. “Did you know the skull belonged to her dead husband?” Carmelo looked mortified. Juli, no longer able to play along, frowned. “Jaime, it would not do you well to behave so imprudently!” “Ah, but it is true,” persisted Jaime with great annoyance. Offended, he took Carmelo’s hand and pulled him towards the side of the church, Carmelo eyeing his mother pointedly. Juli ignored them and went on to the task of wiping the saint. Sta. Rita was the one covered in the most dirt out of all of them. The moss and mud around her feet must have seeped into her encasement from the old walls of the church. Juli finished and realized she had been holding her breath throughout. Her husband hit her the moment she crossed the threshold of their home. It was a punch to the face this time, and Juli remembered the last time she had received one such—it had been when Carmelo was three. They had still been in her hometown then. She had left him while he was sleeping to purchase salt for their dinner and she had come home to Carmelo screaming and crying. She had taken longer than she had planned. He had woken up and her husband had been the one to find their son alone. Now he punched her because she did not make it in time to prepare supper. There was blood on her lips; Juli could feel the intense throbbing of her head, her eyes, her nose. Her vision danced before her, but she could see the outline of Carmelo behind her husband, pale and trembling. He had waited till Carmelo entered the hut before reaching and fisting the front of her shirt with one hand, the other delivering the blow. Carmelo had shouted; now tears escaped him, uncontrollable, and he was shaking.
“Carmelo,” Juli moaned, words garbled, mouth already stiff. “Go to your room.” Her husband was drunk. She could smell him—the overpowering stench reached her from where she had fallen in a tangle of limbs on the ground. He was red and breathing heavily and it seemed any moment now any movement or any sound could leave him spinning around to strike. The realization forced her to sit upright, jerkily and heart hammering, as frantic, bleary eyes darted to see if her son had listened to her. But her son remained where he stood behind his father. Her husband saw where she was looking and turned sharply around, staggering, as Carmelo’s eyes widened with fear—and the fear in his eyes was familiar. Carmelo stumbled back a step; before her husband could reach him Juli had already risen to her feet and launched herself at her husband, fingers clawing at his hair, a surprised—outraged—scream caught in her throat. He swung around forcefully, and she was flung to the floor again, this time with her arm absorbing the impact. He was panting. He looked like he did not know who she was. Carmelo seemed not to know what to do when Juli repeated, through the haze of her pain: “Go to your room.” With a strangled cry Carmelo retreated behind the partition of his room, and this was the last she saw before her husband brought his fist to her face once more. Juli could not move the following day. Carmelo refused to leave his mother alone. But because she could not move, she would not be able to watch Carmelo around his father, and she could not bear the thought. “Go to Doña Corazon and tell her I am ill,” said Juli. “Stay there and come back when it is evening already.” Carmelo nodded reluctantly. She watched him climb down the bamboo ladder from her seat on the balcony, Carmelo turning around halfway to wave back at her. She forced herself to smile, but it was painful. 40
Juli was alone for the rest of the day. Her husband had gone off somewhere. Every time she thought of him she would feel the bruise around her eye throb, or see her son’s terrified eyes, achingly familiar to her. She would remember, most of all, the moment she had flung herself at her husband. The fury she had felt then—the heat that had coursed through her chest, the wild pounding of her heart—would accompany the recollection. The more she felt it, the more she grew acquainted with it, and though she did not think the emotion would be waning soon, she made sure she kept it at bay. Juli did not realize she had fallen asleep until she jolted in her seat. She blinked groggily, eyes adjusting to the sinking sun. The sky before her was a conflagration of rose and fiery hues, framed by the canopy of trees, where fireflies swarmed the branches below. A cool breeze ruffled the short hairs on her forehead. Juli was about to drift off to sleep when she felt the odd sensation of being watched. Sitting straighter and looking across the balcony and toward the street, she saw a figure standing by one of the molave trees. It was the woman in black mourning attire. Juli still could not see her face because of the distance, but the woman was indeed turned towards her, staring. Juli was more aware now of the bruise around her eye, large and ugly; she raised a hand to greet the woman nevertheless. The woman only stared. When Juli woke up the following day, she felt enough of her energy restored to continue with her daily routine. Her bruise no longer throbbed as intensely as the day before. She rose from the mattress to prepare breakfast. Carmelo took his seat as Juli set the table. When the food was placed before them, they sat, waiting for Carmelo’s father. Already, Juli could feel the heat from yesterday returning inside of her. “Are you feeling better?” Carmelo asked. He was staring at her, a perplexed expression on his face. “Yes, I am.” Juli offered a proper smile. Noticing her son’s confusion, she frowned slightly. “What is the matter?” 41
“Your bruise is no longer there, Mother.” Juli stilled. Her fingers reached up to her eye. The skin felt smooth, even with the other side of her face. Carmelo did not see her hand shaking. They waited for another hour for Carmelo’s father. “He must have passed out from whatever he did yesterday,” rationalized Juli calmly, and told her son to eat. Both spared no leftovers. They cleaned the hut afterwards, sunlight washing the floors and walls of cogon. Juli locked the door behind them as they left the house; she told herself it was to prevent thieves from breaking in. But she knew by now there were no thieves here, and she knew, with a sinister giddiness, she had done it to spite her husband. She arrived in Sta. Maria Church just after dropping Carmelo off at Doña Corazon’s—and Doña Corazon, upon receiving her, had wrapped her arms around the surprised Juli, who caught Carmelo’s resolute chin before he slipped inside the house. Doña Corazon had studied her gravely. “If you should need anything, you will come to me, yes? Yesterday, Carmelo would not play with Jaime until I promised him so.” Her Carmelo, who continued to surprise her. All her life her actions had been for the sake of her son; surely his fierceness did not come from either her or his father. Juli, feeling the sting of tears, had nodded and held the other woman’s hand firmly. The widows were already sweeping the floor of the church. They dusted each and every corner until the only mark on the interior was the mold, and Juli started the task of wiping the altar and the saints, offering short prayers to the Virgin and her Son. Juli told herself not to shudder when it was Sta. Rita de Cascia’s turn. There was the moss and mud again, on her feet; she scrubbed rigorously. She used the clean side of the cloth to wipe the saint’s pale face, followed by her chest, then the crucifix on her left hand. Juli wiped the skull as quickly as she could, shuddering now— She paused. The cloth had stuck on to something. Juli lifted the cloth from the saint’s hand, and saw, to her immense confusion, what seemed to be the likeness of her husband’s rosary tucked beneath the skull, swaying slightly. 42
This is a picture I did not take of Lake Palakpakin three moments before sunrise on the last day of the research mission; my field notebook is filled with fishkill numbers; Aling Lucy calls them out as she counts and recounts the baskets of fish her husband pulled onto the dock; he shakes his head because their already-dead corpses were floating silver in the light; my back is pressed against the floor of their hut; what makes a species invasive; the early morning chill comes up through the bamboo slats overhanging the water; in it, dozens of waxy green leaves catching the dew between makeshift pens; Aling Lucy had insisted I was a guest; this means I would not have to help sort the dayâ€™s catch; and besides, my hands were too soft; the scales would surely cut them open; and the words our professor had us rehearse were ringing hollow in my ears; Iâ€™m here to help you; so I jotted down this moment instead; the sunrise a brilliant gold; the water hyacinths floating in the soft current; their delicate tendrils blocking off the sea.
Editorial1 Sorry the September 16th ‘GUIDON’ came five months late. (If read five months late, however, please disregard apology.) It has been an oft-repeated theme that despite claims to the contrary, the Ateneo is nothing more than a small duplicate of Philippine society, complete with controversial politics, but at the same time, possessing a populace seething with indifference. Is the Ateneo Filipino? We cannot but maintain that, owing to their privileged positions in our society, all these institutions properly belong within the structure of the power elite. It is only left for us to sit down and write, write on anything that is true and beautiful and good. Marcos ii nauseates like a bad trip. The burial of Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani casts a terrible shadow on the memories of those lives lost during the dark days of martial law. Could our generation not be counted upon to clean up the mess left behind by this man Marcos? Here in the Ateneo, suppression and deception are also the order of the day. The Ateneo does not have a treasure from which it can conveniently draw money to build. Furthermore, other problems have emerged, whose solutions might be found in a coeducation policy. People of fair Quezon City have been heard to remark—“this is terrible!” Many times it seems that the elections will be turned into a circus. The This piece is constructed from sentences in various editorials of The GUIDON ranging from 1950 to 2000. 1
Central Board has an image problem. cb does not stand for crystal ball — no one knows what this thing is yet. (Have an idea? Drop us a line at the Publications Room. The most creative suggestion wins a free The GUIDON t-shirt.) Remember when they had to drag people in from the corridors to vote in order to meet the 60% election requirement? comelec teasers threatened “vote or die” in red. Now you get the picture. Maybe we just don’t care as much about our school administration as we do our nation’s, and that’s the paradox. There were fears these innocently looking clubs are fertile hot-beds of communism. Cutting in lunch lines has become a custom. The English Rule, a dead law. Students complain of the lack of parking spaces, the danger of theft, the makeshift conditions of the parking lots, the distance of the parking slots from classrooms. Found on a blackboard in Room 206: “Did you know that Dante went to Inferno just for the hell of it?” In the Ateneo alone, a 16% tuition hike. The college cafeteria sells an average of 7 packs of cigarettes a day. The GUIDON boss keeps two air pistols in his filing cabinet. Elitist bullies. Tomorrow, murder shall be a legal act. Our God, the qpi. This restlessness will end within us when we reach our true home — Christ. A giant casts its shadow across the Ateneo of today. The dreaming stage is over. It is time for us to face facts, face reality: the declining Atenean. Turning point. Let’s hope that next time, we can overcome our chronic political immaturity. The Super Atenean is not dead—no, he’s only changing for the better. History is threatening to repeat itself. Shall we learn from the past? If the Atenean is to think in the real world, he ought to think here, too. We, the students, are entitled to nothing less. So what are you doing sitting around reading this editorial? 45
Elective1 This is an inquiry into the idea of a proportional response, a stimulated engagement that aspires for an attractive relationship between parts of a whole. This is explored in how it manifests in different forms by different actors within a state (e.g., the governing of thoughts and actions, the servicing of basic needs, and ultimately—most importantly—a citizenry’s response to these [e.g., protest, discourse, art] in light of the consequences for doing so [e.g., suppression, punishment by the state, friend/community/collective-affirmed stupidity]). In law, proportionality is the principle that determines fairness in corrective measures; it ensures that the punishment fits the crime. In war, a proportional response is a retaliation to prevent further attacks. Thus, to proportion is to adjust and to regulate that which cannot be or that to which we are perpetually subjected. A proportional response then—in reality—is futile if not multitudinous and self-reflexive. This course then is important and will not change you.
First published in High Chair (2016).
Good Girls1 you’ve denied the hunger for so long that when you transform tonight, it hurts more than usual. You twist all the way round, feel your insides slosh and snap as you detach. Your wings pierce your skin as you leave your lower half completely. A sharp pain rips through your guts, compounding the hunger. Drifting toward the open window, you carefully unfurl your wings. It’s an effort not to make a sound. You’re a small girl, but it’s a small room, and though your boyfriend is snoring you can’t risk being caught. You look back at him, remembering how he’d breathed your name a few hours ago, pouring sweat as you arched beneath him—Kaye, baby, please. You wonder if he’ll say it that way when you eventually leave. The half you’ve left behind is tucked in shadow: gray, muted pink where your intestines show through. The oversized shirt you’re wearing hides the worst of the guts that hang from your torso as you glide into the sticky night air. You suck in a deep breath as the living bodies of your housing complex flood your senses. A girl sobs in her bedroom while her father hammers at the door. A pair of elderly foreigners lie in each other’s arms. A stray dog licks its balls outside the iron gates, while a security guard dozes in his cramped sitting room. Manila is a city that sleeps only fitfully, and you love it and hate it for that reason. * The first thing taught at the Bakersfield Good Girl Reformation Retreat is the pledge: “I’m a good girl. A good girl for a good world. And while I know it is not always easy to be good, I promise to at 1
First published in Shimmer Magazine (2015).
least try.” The girls are made to repeat this three times at orientation, and one girl seems moved enough to shout “Amen!” at the end. Or she could be mocking it; Sara can’t tell. The girls on either side of her are listless, mouthing the pledge without care or conviction. One scratches her knee then digs underneath her fingernails, puckering and unpuckering her mouth like a goldfish. Sara suspects she’s wearing a similar expression. She frowns and squints at the clear blue California sky, the same one from the home she was just forced to leave. Afterward they’re herded onto the field for physical exercises and split into groups. Sara’s group starts running. She quits on the second lap out of five, short of breath and thinking nope, not worth it. She jogs off the field and is trying to disappear someplace when Captain Suzy, who is in charge of PE, catches sight of her. Captain Suzy frowns and starts heading for her, except the flag football team erupts in a hair-snatching free-for-all. Captain Suzy surges into the brawl and flings girls away from each other, so that by the end mud and grass is strewn everywhere and more than one girl has fainted from the heat. Later, Sara learns the fight was because of a butterfly knife that someone had snuck in and stupidly showed off. Lots of girls wanted it. They’re given Exploration time after lunch, with the stern reminder that they have to be prepared for Group Sharing (4:30 pm), followed by Journals (6 pm) in their respective rooms before Dinner (7 pm). After leaving the dining hall, Sara surveys the abandoned schoolhouse where all Good Girls are forced to stay. It’s mostly dusty classrooms with chalkboards. Tiny white bugs swirl in every sunbeam. Most chairs and tables are child-sized, and colored mats cover the floor. A mesh-wire fence circles the entire yard, and past it, a tall rusted gate. Beyond them lie endless fields, roasting under the sun. The fence is too tall to climb, and Sara is neither agile nor motivated. She heads back to her room and decides to Explore her bed. There are meals all over the Metro, so many routes to explore. You’ve mapped them out over years and months of 48
nightly travels: countless delicacies, different treats for different moods. The only difference is your start point, your end point. You never last more than a few months in the same place. You always need to find someone new to take you in – to believe you’re human, just like them. Tonight your hunger is confusing. You don’t know what you want, what will satiate you. You decide to start upscale and work your way down, so you veer toward the part of the city with its lights still on. Music pulses loudly from a club. Three high school girls totter out on four-inch heels, standing awkwardly on the carpet to avoid the potholed road. One of them is holding a phone to her ear. A car comes up; a maid hops out of the front seat and opens the door for the girls, and they climb in, unsteady from lack of practice or too many vodka Sprites. You think about dancing, about what it’s like to occupy the skin of a beautiful party girl, something you can do with ease— slipping into a bar with confidence, slipping out with someone’s fingers twined in yours, ready to point at the stars and laugh then lean in close for a kiss. They can never smell the blood and sputum underneath the liquor in your breath. Humans make up wonderfully intricate rituals, pretend to have such control—but they easily devolve into animal longing, just heartbeats flaring in their cage of skin and bones. * Something is knocking at Sara’s door. A monster of some kind, an overgrown baby bleeding from the chest. Its clawed fist is tapping in a way that’s supposed to be quiet, almost polite— then Sara realizes she’s asleep and scrambles out of bed. She opens the door. It swings into the hallway and bumps into the girl standing there. “Sorry,” Sara says. Her shirt is soaked in sweat. “No worries. I’m Kaye! Nice to meet you.” The girl’s hand is cold and dry in Sara’s gross sticky one. “Sara,” Sara says. “So I guess we’re roommates?” “Yep,” Kaye says. She is petite and gorgeous, with shiny black hair 49
and flawless honey-colored skin. Asian, but Sara can’t guess which. She wears an easy, friendly grin as she wheels in her luggage. She stops to note which bed Sara has occupied, then throws her backpack onto the empty one. Sara shuts the door and sits on her bed. She picks up her regulation Pen + Diary in a half-hearted effort to prep for Group Sharing, but ends up watching Kaye unpack instead. Kaye unzips her overstuffed luggage, displaying piles of neatly folded clothes and small colorful snacks: Sweet Corn, Salt and Vinegar Chips, Boy Bawang. Notebooks and papers are wedged between socks and shoes in plastic bags. Kaye fishes out a pair of slippers and slaps them on the floor triumphantly. “So what’s your deal?” Sara asks, as Kaye peels off her shoes and socks and sticks her feet into the slippers. “I eat fetuses,” Kaye replies. “If I feel like it, I eat organs too.” Sara frowns and shuts her notebook. Kaye doesn’t elaborate, and starts sorting clothes on her bed. Sara leans forward so that she can better inspect Kaye’s luggage. There are stickers all over it. One says Fragile, another says Delta Airlines; three are written in Chinese Characters; two read Wow! Philippines. They’re faded, the edges picked off as if someone with long fingernails was extremely bored. “You came from abroad?” “A few months ago.” She opens a pack of chips and holds it out to Sara. Sara peers in; they look like shriveled corn kernels. She shakes her head. “So you were flown all the way out here to stop eating babies,” Sara repeats. Her gut churns, and a voice in her brain goes no, no, no. “Unborn babies,” Kaye clarifies. “But it’s not like I can help it.” She starts laying out her clothes on the bed, methodically. “I would tell you what they call me, but you wouldn’t be able to pronounce it anyway.” “Try me,” Sara says. Kaye smirks and rips out a page from her regulation Diary, then scribbles something on it. She holds it up for Sara to read. “Manananggal?” Sara tries. Kaye collapses onto her bed laughing. 50
* The sky is outlined by skyscrapers, some still in construction. A half-finished high-rise condo is fenced off with boards bearing the image of the newest starlet. She’s wearing a red dress, hair fetchingly arranged over one shoulder, glass of champagne in hand. The flowery script next to her head reads: Where luxury and comfort reside. The giant open-air shopping complex next to it is almost empty. A few cafes remain lit, although the chairs inside are turned up. A barkada of young professionals staggers back to the parking lot, high on caffeine and the adrenaline of overwork. They are laughing louder than the silence calls for. One man swears he will kill their boss the following morning. You like these declarations. They can only be made at this hour—witching hour, your hour. You like them because they’re not true. * The Group Sharing discussion leader is named Apple. Sara ends up on her right, legs curled on the pink-and-orange mat. Apple greets everyone with a giant smile, then takes attendance. There are five girls in the sharing group, including Kaye. Apple begins by saying how happy she is that everyone has come to the Good Girl Reformation Retreat, where all girls are expected to be supportive and encouraging in their journey toward goodness. “In order to get to know one another better, I would like each of you to tell the group which particular circumstances brought you here. There is no need to be shy or secretive about it. While we know it is not always easy to be good, we are now at Retreat, and we are going to try.” Tamika, seated on Apple’s left, starts: She knifed her last boyfriend in the ribs. Trang has a habit of setting small fires because they are very pretty. Lena stalked her favorite lab teacher and sent threatening 51
messages to his wife. Dana doesn’t say anything, but she pulls up her shirt and shows everyone a scar that cuts across her extremely toned belly. Sara notices Kaye looking at the pinkish flesh marring Dana’s brown skin with a sad smile. “You have to tell us, Dana,” Apple insists. Dana says, “It hurt,” and that’s all she can be persuaded to say. “Maybe next time then,” Apple says, with too much hope. “And you, Kaye?” “I was brought to the US to marry someone,” Kaye says, the perfect mix of defiant and ashamed. Someone gasps. Sara’s mouth drops open, but Kaye doesn’t notice, and adds: “I’m not as young as I look.” She gives a tiny, tired grin, before proceeding to tell them about the drug bust at her husband’s place, her illegal papers, how no one will pay for her flight back to Manila. How the US government took matters into its own hands, and sent her here. How she’s homesick and rattled and maybe it’s for the best that her husband of two months OD’ed, but really mostly she’s glad to just be here, it seems safe. Everyone nods solemnly, and Dana reaches out and holds Kaye’s shoulder, briefly. Liar, Sara thinks, but no, this is the truth, of course this is the truth, and Kaye was just messing with her. Kaye was just having a little fun. Then suddenly Apple says, “Sara? What about you, Sara?” “I—” Sara says, and wonders how she can explain. * Manila’s gated communities, home to the rich and famous, swanky as fuck. You flap past some consulates, flags drooping from their balconies, but you’re not interested in foreign food today. You sweep closer, lower, appreciating the distinct features of each house: angels cut into columns, black iron gates with gold accents, circular driveways sweeping up to meticulously lit front doors. Gardens overflowing with gumamela blossoms and palm trees. All
the houses are humming with electricity, air conditioners running at full blast. The humans moving inside them are less electric: house-helpers clearing leftover party dishes, children stuck on their game consoles, everyone else asleep. It’s all boring boring boring until you smell tears—so much sorrow in the saline—from the odd modest house, a little decrepit for the neighborhood. The sound of sniffling is amplified. You stop and circle the air with interest. * Sara explains it like this: “It started after I dropped my sister’s baby. Nobody knew if the baby would be okay. Then the baby was okay, after they’d checked it out at the doctors’ ‘cause everyone was convinced that the bruise was some kind of tumor. I was just playing with it. I just wanted to hold it for a little while. So anyway after that, I was forbidden to touch the baby. That was okay. I could deal with that. “The problem was, I started always thinking about babies. Because a baby is this terrible, fragile thing, you know? And so many things can happen to it. I just kept theorizing: if you keep pushing your thumb into its head, won’t your thumb actually sink into its brain? Or if you hold it upside down for too long—like those dads on tv you know, always swinging their babies around?—like maybe all the blood fills up its little brain and it gets a mini-baby-stroke. It got so bad that whenever I saw a baby, any baby, I got the sense that like—me being alive—like it could cause that baby to die. Them or me, you know, and why the hell should it be me? “So I started thinking I should fix that. I started looking out of windows and thinking I’m better off—you know—out there. Like when I’m in a moving car. Or when I’m on the fourth floor corridor of my school building. I get this sense that I can jump out and all the babies in the world will be saved. I kept trying, but something would always stop me, and when they asked me what my problem was—you see how hard it is to explain? So I would just tell them—I want to fly. That’s all I could say. I want to fly.” 53
* She is pregnant, the private-school princess in her immaculate bedroom. The tiny thing growing inside her is incredibly fresh—six or seven weeks old—and she’s just found out, or just admitted it to herself. She doesn’t know what to do. She’s composing an email to her boyfriend, or maybe her best friend. She types in quick bursts, interspersed with falling on her bed and beating her pillow with impassioned fists. You imagine the taste of her child in your mouth; you consider sucking it up and sparing her the agony of waking tomorrow. Wouldn’t that be a mercy, to this child? Not having to live with the shame of bearing her own, so young, and her parents so disappointed, and her schoolmates so ready to talk shit about her? You settle on the roof, testing the tiles, positioning yourself above her bedroom. Then she starts playing a Taylor Swift song. It’s blaring from her iTunes and she is wailing on the bed, and suddenly it’s so hilarious that you can’t bear to end it. Besides, you don’t want to wait for her to fall asleep. She might not fall asleep at all. You sigh, take off again, and decide that it’s time for a change of scenery. * “So that’s your story,” Sara says that night, eyes gazing into the pitch darkness (Lights out at 9, 9 is so early, do they think anyone can actually sleep at 9?). “Mail-order bride. Drugs. Gross old man. That sounds really terrible, but that... makes more sense.” “That’s why I’m here, but only you know the truth about me,” Kaye says, an undercurrent of laughter in her voice. She sits up in bed, looks across at Sara, and Sara’s just imagining the weird light reflecting in her irises. “Hey, Sara, I’m glad the baby was okay, by the way. It wasn’t your fault you were careless. Well I mean, it kind of is, but can anyone really blame you? Babies are such fragile things. I 54
don’t know why you girls keep having them.” “Says the baby eater,” Sara says, with what she hopes is humor, but she’s exhausted and suddenly imagining a baby tumbling down the stairs. “You don’t believe me, do you?” Kaye laces her arms across her knees. “That’s okay. I only told you because I thought maybe you wouldn’t—haha. If you did believe me you probably wouldn’t like me, and I’d have to say it’s in my nature, and then we’d fight, and god I’d have to leave again, when I’m not even hungry yet. When I’ve got nowhere to go.” “You’re weird,” Sara says, because clearly Kaye is more messed up than she lets on. Kaye laughs. There’s so much laughter in her, it surprises Sara. Kaye crosses the room and sits on the opposite end of Sara’s bed—so quickly, suddenly she’s there and Sara sits up and draws her knees back reflexively. She should be freaked out, but after weeks of being treated like broken glass back home, in school—this proximity is—not entirely unwelcome. Everyone sidestepping the baby issue, Dad and Mom hissing about suicide treatment in the kitchen after dinner, her meager friends suddenly evaporating. A person who treats her like she’s real? It’s an odd relief. Kaye leans closer. She smells nice, and her eyes crinkle. “Tell me about your home,” Kaye says. * You head for a shantytown: homes made of hollow blocks, roofs of corrugated metal. It’s hardly a mile from the fancy neighborhood. The nearby river is peaceful, although the banks are still torn up from the last typhoon. From a distance you can already smell people, piss, dogs with festering sores, wet grass, shit, washing detergent. The earth is always damp here, soaking up rain, and the proximity of the houses makes everything feel warmer, more alive.
* They do this nightly talking thing a lot, exchanging stories, doodling on each other’s Diaries then laughing and ripping out the pages. Then shushing each other. There’s no tv and no nail polish and no ovens to bake brownies in—only these, their words, their memories. Sara finds herself in Kaye’s beloved Manila: garish colors everywhere, clogged highways, grimy naked children running next to spotless cars, in which the bourgeoisie sit with a driver, a maid, sometimes a bodyguard. Sara doesn’t have much to say about her own suburban neighborhood in Pleasanton, but Kaye seems fascinated by America anyway, so Sara tries. She explains the difference between Democrats and Republicans, and the nuances of California slang: Hella bomb, they repeat. Hella sick. Kaye describes the parts of the body she likes best—she eats the fetus pretty much whole because it’s the tastiest (“I take it down my throat, and, uh... it’s a little hard to explain,”), then the heart, liver, stomach. Kidneys are surprising flavorful. It must be the bile. When she talks about her monster self Sara just holds the thought apart from her brain. It’s too weird. It’s almost funny, how earnest Kaye is about it. Sara recounts her sister’s wedding in Vegas, which they couldn’t really afford, but it was cool to act touristy and kitschy, posing next to the unsexy French maids in the Paris Hotel casino. It was stupid, and that’s what made it fun. * You count the number of warm bodies in each house you pass, considering the possible damage. Family of four, six, another six, three (absent father), four (absent mother), five (including grandmother). That one won’t manage if you eat the mother, because Lola is sickly and Tatay beats the children. Interesting drama, but you seem to be craving something else. Entrails won’t do tonight—you want a baby.
You’re enchanted by the amount of closeness you find in many homes: sweaty couples pressed together, children crowded on either side, useless electric fans whirring. It’s love and hunger bound up in acceptance, minute joys punctuated by a mostly typical dissatisfaction, the longing for something better, some way out of this. They’re not exactly unhappy, despite everything. You think you understand that. Very lightly, you settle on a gray roof with a gaping hole in the corner. You look down at the man and woman tangled and snoring on a bed, their two-year-old squashed between them. The scent of fresh mangoes is just enough to entice you. There’s only so much time left to properly enjoy your meal, so after a brief consideration you open your mouth and let your tongue slip through the ceiling. * The Retreat is all routines. After the first day, it’s only variations on a theme, and it gets harder to remember when they started, although that’s what the Diaries are for. Sara isn’t too worried. It must be expensive to run the retreat. Girls come in batches, sponsored by donations, desperate family or community members, and government money; they can’t stay forever. Three weeks, she figures. Four. In the meantime: free food, thirty other girls that are just as fucked up as she is, and even the daily exercise is starting to become manageable. She figures things out. The cooks are on rotation, and the one every third day actually makes edible food. If you wake up at 5 there’s still hot water left in the showers. It’s okay to walk quickly instead of running during laps, as long as you finish all five. Apple expects you to write at least a paragraph in your diary every day, or else you’ll have to do a long-ass recap at the end of the week. If only there was more to say. Most girls stay in their rooms during off hours. If the retreat is for repentance, Sara’s not sure how effective it is. At night she can 57
usually hear sobbing down the hall, or hard objects (bodies? Heads?) smacking against the walls (sex? Fights? A mix?). Girls who act out are given warnings and punishments. There are no field trips, but they do painting and basket weaving, and learn an alarming number of songs in different languages. If not for the fact that someone always showed up for music class with a burst lip and a black eye, it would almost be like summer camp. Even the Captains turn nicer, only harsh when someone gripes about exercise or doesn’t finish her tossed greens. Still, despite the moderated peace, restlessness is starting to build beneath the monotony. Someone claims that on their last day the teachers will clear out, and they’re going to gas the place, kill all the girls. It’s a stupid claim, but it has its effects. “What the fuck are we doing here?” becomes a common question, a chant: in between tooth brushing, or eating soft-but-actually-hard rolls, or making honest-to-god charm bracelets. Sara asks it, herself, sprawled out on her bed. It’s Going to be Okay! is the motivational statement Apple has assigned them this week. It’s pretty weak, as far as encouragement goes. “What the fuck are we doing here?” She doesn’t really expect an answer, but Kaye says, “Learning to be good girls. Right?” “Well when do we get to say okay already, I get it, I’m good?” Kaye shrugs. “What are you going to do when you get out of here, anyway?” Sara doesn’t answer, but she pictures it: going back, holding up her nephew triumphantly, the mediocre joy of normalcy after so much exposure to other people’s shit. So she’s thought about killing herself and has a weird thing about babies. She’s never actually hurt anyone. I’m not like these girls, she thinks, and it makes her feel both proud and disgusted. Then she sees herself climbing onto a balcony, feeling the salt edge of the wind, wondering if there’s still a part of her that wants to leave everything. “Hey, Sara. Were you serious about wanting to fly?” Sara feels jolted. Kaye’s eyes are opaque on hers. “What do you mean?” Her heartbeat quickens. Kaye smiles and looks out their window. 58
“You get to decide. Are you going to be good when you leave here? Are you going to turn out all right? You could, you know. You could. There’s no need to stop trying.” She stands and stretches, then clasps her hands over her stomach meaningfully. “But not me. I don’t get to pick. I never get to say I’m good. I can try, but I’m powerless against my hunger. I mean, we all need to eat sometimes, right?” Sara swallows. Her saliva sticks in her throat. She isn’t afraid of Kaye. Kaye is her friend. Her gorgeous, crazy, baby-eating, compulsively lying friend. Kaye crosses the room, lightning quick, until she is standing before Sara. The setting sun turns her face a weird shade of orange. She crouches down so that she’s level with Sara, stretched on her bed. “You know,” she says, face contorting, like she’s holding back tears. “I’m getting hungry. I’m going to need to feed soon. Promise me something. We’re friends, right, Sara?” Sara pauses, maybe too long, before nodding. Then, to increase her conviction: “Yeah. Of course.” “When I feed—promise me that you won’t care. You can just—sleep. It doesn’t really change anything. I’ve always been this way, you know? And all you girls—” she shakes her head, stops herself. “You do that for me, I’ll let you fly for one night. It’s nicer here than in Manila. It’s cooler.” She pats the top of Sara’s head. Which is funny, because she’s shorter than Sara. “What do you think?” she asks. “I can fly, you know. I’m pretty fucking great at it.” Sara thinks of falling, of landing on the pavement and hearing her shoulder shatter, seeing her own blood streak out past her vision. Her mother sobbing by her bed at the hospital, saying I can’t do this anymore, honey. It has to stop. And after being released, how she’d had no idea, how the van had come one day, and in a haze of anti-depressants she’d stepped onboard. She’d come here. If Kaye could fly—hold her—dance her through the air—she’d be able to see. If it’s safe to go back. If she’s tired of being this way, at least for now. But more than that, Kaye just wants her to pretend everything’s fine. She can do that. She’s had a lot of practice. 59
She reaches up and puts her hand on top of Kaye’s, not feeling scared or threatened or awed. Just tired. Bonesucked tired. She squeezes Kaye’s hand and says, “Okay.” * Your tongue settles on her stomach, and you start feeding, sucking greedily. You’re starving, and it tastes so fucking delicious. The woman squirms, and the child next to her utters a short, soft moan. You don’t want this. You do. * Sara wakes up sweating. It’s sometime past midnight? It’s too early. She needs to go back to sleep. She shuts her eyes. The sound of her breathing is too loud. She decides to get a glass of water and stumbles out of bed, bumping into something in the middle of the floor. She falls backwards, landing on her ass. The window is open, the metal fastenings they installed after some girl attempted escape somehow undone. A cloudy moonbeam streams through it, illuminating the lower half of Kaye’s torso and her legs, her feet still in their slippers. It is standing erect, perfectly immobile, like someone sliced a girl in half and left it there for fun. The insides are shimmering, grisly, unreal. Sara crawls back under her sheets and goes to sleep. Sometime later something slides in next to her, nudging for space on her pillow. Something wraps its arms around Sara and puts its forehead against the small of Sara’s back. Sara smells blood mixed with the faint tinge of—mango?—and after a moment’s hesitation she holds those arms against her. The back of her shirt grows damp with what might be tears. * When you’re finished, when you’ve shriveled up everything inside her stomach so that your own is full, you spool your tongue back into 60
your mouth and breathe deeply. The horizon tells you that you have about an hour before the sun rises. That’s just enough time to head home, rejoin your lower half, shuffle back into bed. Good girls don’t get caught with babies in their bellies; good girls don’t lie; good girls don’t sneak out wearing only their boyfriends’ shirts. You know what you are; you know what you aren’t. * In their twentieth session, Apple says they’ve all been exceedingly Good Girls, and they’re going to be moving on the following week. The girls have demonstrated that they’ve absorbed the values of the retreat and are ready to rejoin the good world. Once Admin gets their paperwork done, the Captains do their sign-offs, and the discussion leaders file their reports—the girls will be free. “You get to go back home,” Kaye says, while they’re packing. “So do you,” Sara says, but she’s suddenly not sure. Kaye flashes her teeth, feral. “I told you, girl, I don’t have one. I go where the wind takes me!” She flings out her arms, dramatically, and flops backwards on her bed. “This was nice,” she says. “Even when it sucked it was okay. I should hang out with girls more. They don’t want as much from you as guys do. I can stay full for longer! Girls are like fiber.” Sara doesn’t like the wistful tone in Kaye’s voice. Sara doesn’t like how her own heart squeezes, or how lonely she feels. How afraid she is of going home to find—but no, it’ll be okay. She’s different now. She’s going to do better. You get to decide, Kaye said. It’s not that easy. But she can try. Some girls will break their promises, lose their homes, keep on rattling against the gates, biting and sobbing and breathing. Sara, if she wants to, can change. Kaye rolls over on her bed, arm covering her eyes. She lifts it to peer at Sara. “I still owe you. How about tonight?”
* You’ve never detached with someone watching. You’re so fascinated by her gaze on you that you hardly notice the pain. Sara’s big blue eyes are an excellent mirror—how there are stringy bits when you twist off, how the way your spine tears from sinew is fluid, almost graceful. Your shirt is short this time so she sees your entrails hanging out, nearly glowing with all the slick against them. To her credit, Sara doesn’t vomit. You move slowly over to the window, keeping your wings folded, and undo the latches with your knifelike fingers. You drift out and motion for her to stand on the desk. She climbs up, shakily, and says, “Can you really carry me?” You like to think your smile, at least, is familiar—even if the pointed tongue between your teeth isn’t. “Yeah,” you say. “Trust me.” This is you: this is your life, the strength that fills you as you fly, feed, move on. Spanning provinces, cities, countries, continents. Finding new homes to leave, new bodies to keep you warm when you’re not hungry, new strangers to suck dry when you are. And you’ll keep on doing this, as long as you can make it back in time. Before the sun rises, or someone finds the parts you’ve left behind—something must always be left behind. This is how you survive. Sara will get to go home. You’ll just have to find a new one. “You ready?” The trees are crowding out most of the wind, but you can still taste the breeze, drifting over the dormitories where so many girls are sleeping like wolves, retreating from the world. Just waiting to bare their fangs. Sara nods. You can’t read her expression—like she’s about to scream or laugh or cry. You squeeze her hand as hard as you can without hurting her, and spread your wings.
An Ocean the Color of Bruises1 the budget hotel is empty and desolate, the lady behind the check-in counter drained of color. Her eyes are wide and fraught as she looks over our reservation form. “Two bedrooms with double beds?” We nod. Rich passes her his credit card. “Five keys?” We nod again. She hands the keys to Rich with a frown. “So... I know it’s off-season, but why’s it so empty?” Heinz asks, as we thump down the hallway. Heinz, the Electrical Engineering major, loves questions. He’s got a solid job at ibm. He’s not thrilled about it, because he has to wear a tie every day, but he earns a pretty sweet salary. “I mean, this isn’t the worst place you could go, but it’s not good by any stretch,” Josie says—tired, possibly hungover. Tired Josie is grumpy Josie. Josie took CW and works for a start-up news site. She’s the artsy-est of us, the most lasingera, capable of downing seven San Migs with room for tequila. We all love Josie and secretly ache for her to love us back, at least as much as she loves her poets. None of us, not even Chino, the sensitive guitar-playing dude, can quote more than a few lines of Neruda or cummings. “Maybe everyone’s worried about the storm,” Heinz adds, ignoring how Chino pinches his arm in warning. “The storm’s not supposed to cross here,” Josie snaps. “Don’t you think that lady was kinda weird?” Nina asks. Nina is the queen of diverting conversation. She always says what’s on her mind. We like that about Nina: it makes her a little more real. She went through an awkward phase in freshman year, and emerged from it gorgeous and swanlike, the unintentional heartbreaker of our 1
First published in Uncanny Magazine (2016).
college class. She friendzoned at least half the kids with crushes on her; the other half never mustered up the courage to confess. Nina also graduated magna cum laude, but she’s mostly a ditz outside of her report card, which makes everything else about her endearing. Nina models full-time. There was gossip for a while about her artista leanings, especially when she had that brief fling with that senator’s son, but now most of our peers are content to like her bikini shots on Instagram and Facebook. We’re a little smug about being Nina hipsters. We know the real Nina: the one that’s beautiful sans the beauty. “Yeah, she was weird,” Chino says. “I mean, the TripAdvisor reviews said the service here isn’t the best. But so far it just doesn’t really feel like we’re in Punta Silenyo. I thought it would be... a little... more lively. Or something.” “Chill, pares,” Rich says. “We just got here. It’s only, like, ten in the morning. We’re still tired from the flight. It’s going to be awesome, ayt?” Mr. Default Leader, Mr. Shades Even Indoors. Mr. So Cool Until You Get to Know the Kid Deep Down, Plank Enthusiast, Weed-Dealing Wonderboy. “Well you’re the man with the plan, Mr. Martinez,” Nina says. “I expect much from you.” Rich smiles at her. We’re not sure if she sees, because she’s busy twisting her key in the lock. It turns, then snaps in half. The door swings open. “Oh no,” she says helplessly, but we can’t be mad at her. The room has two threadbare double beds, a wicker stool, a table, a mirror with an elaborate wooden frame, and a mini-ref with a stained microwave on top. Josie removes her backpack, but Chino puts down his guitar and says, “No, the lock is broken, you girls should take the other room.” Heinz’s arm has slipped down Chino’s shoulders and is now circling his waist. Grumpy Josie shrugs and says, “I have to pee.” She enters the bathroom and shuts the door. She screams. Heinz, who is closest, grabs the doorknob. Hesitates. Josie bursts out, and Heinz falls on his butt. “There’s a giant cockroach waving its feelers at me from the toilet,” Josie says, in her most controlled voice. “Somebody kill it, please.” 64
Rich makes a face. “I don’t want to use my slipper.” Nina hands Rich her slipper. He sighs and enters the bathroom. A loud thwack, a muttered “Shit!”—another thwack, then silence. Nina sticks her head inside. Rich is picking up the cockroach corpse with wadded toilet paper. Nina grabs her slipper from the floor and washes it in the sink. We try not to watch the brown bits drain away. * Several years ago there was a storm in Punta Silenyo. Which, as you probably guessed, is a tiny, exclusive island. We might have read about it in the papers, seen it on tv, discussed it over breakfast. Lashing rain, bent trees, wind pounding everything—typical. Except for the victims. Because it was Beach Week, for all the fresh grads: college and high school kids, blowing their meager savings on this chance to have a story to tell, even if what happens in Punta Silenyo stays in Punta Silenyo. Back then it was already Boracay’s cheaper alternative. These kids were caught on the sand, in their bikinis and trunks, the rain whipping their bodies. Some reports said it was a wipeout. Others said it was almost like they dove into the water. They partied like it was the end of the world, until the last possible second, dancing and howling in the storm—they never tried to take shelter. It happened so quickly. Only a handful of bodies were found. You think our government could spare a diving crew? Even with private money funding the rescue missions, it was no use, it was too late. The reporters interviewed the deceased’s parents in their homes: quaintly sobbing early-fifties Manileños, so poised and refined compared to the crying masses often on the news. Their grief was strange, their pain controlled. Their words anguished just so. Then the news crews went to different campuses, where faculty tried to be consoling and methodical about the tragedy. But we saw through their blinking eyes, the tremors in their voices—of course they were shaken. The students were interviewed last: the ones who were too prudish, lazy, tired, or cheap, who stayed behind. It was hard to tell 65
if they wished they had gone or were glad they stayed. Everyone was guilty and there was nothing anyone could do. Shock, the inevitable media circus, then things going back to normal. We were in early high school then. It became the kind of thing where you said, “Remember that time...?” but without any real pain, any real sadness. Our parents’ friends, maybe they lost children, but we didn’t know anyone directly. Someone’s kuya. Someone else’s cousin, neighbor. The tragedy wasn’t real to us. Typical Philippines: large swathes of people cleared out in one go, like a giant hand had slapped them off the earth. Everyone thought Punta Silenyo wouldn’t recover, but even if it never regained its former glamour, people came just the same. Even the ghost-hunting tours stopped after a while. Death is only one other song often played on these islands. * Heinz and Chino pass out on the bed while the rest of us change and complain about the humidity. They’re dating, now, finally, at last—though they’ve never admitted it. We know Heinz got a ton of shit from his conservative Chinese-Filipino family when he came out, but there’s some kind of shaky equilibrium now. Chino got drama too, from the army of admirers he amassed while playing gigs in Katip and Malate through high school and college. Even as he fell in love with Heinz, he kept trying to convince himself he wasn’t into guys. In senior year things were different. They just looked at each other different. It wasn’t until after graduation they showed up to one dinner holding hands, fiercely blushing. Rich hooted. Josie declared it fate: a nice, simple love story. They groaned, but they were smiling; they were happy. When we leave the room, Heinz’s arm is splayed across Chino’s chest. They’re curled into each other, mouths open, approximating fishes. We think that’s sweet. That works. Nice to see things going smoothly.
* We walk past the lobby. The dead-eyed lady is gone. We can hear the ocean, smell it, and soon see it stretching before us. Rich props his Ray Bans on his head. We squint, and watch the waves lap the shore. There are people up and down the coast, but not as many as there should be, even for late summer. There’s a cluster of them by a big rock outcropping squatting down, drawing in the sand. Josie crosses her arms. “Dang, this place is even sadder than I thought it would be.” “No negativity allowed,” Nina chirps. “Beach, ladies?” Rich asks. Josie shrugs. The sand doesn’t burn our feet when we walk across it. The sand looks almost blue. We pass two children building a sandcastle, their heads bent in concentration. We are distracted by the severe pink of the little girl’s bikini bottom. The boy looks up and Nina thinks his eyes look wet, hungry. She’s kind of hungry herself. She smiles at him, but he doesn’t smile back—he just stares awkwardly, so she looks away. We reach the water. Josie sticks one foot in, then the other. “Is it cold?” Nina asks. “Not super,” Josie says. The best way to describe it is that tepid warmth after some kid pees in the swimming pool. Rich stoops as a wave rolls in and flicks water at Nina. She shrieks. The sharp, lilting sound slices the air. Rich yanks his sando over his head and drops it on the ground, and Josie and Nina make faces at each other. Even with abs, Rich isn’t as hot as he thinks. “I hope I don’t step on a crab,” Nina says as she wades in. * What is it about beaches that make everyone sleepy? We don’t last more than an hour, walking up and down the coast, kicking in the low tide while clouds hang above us. We’re used to that from Manila: sudden downpours. A few clouds don’t scare us. They’re not going to ruin our trip. 67
But when rain starts falling we decide to stagger back to our rooms, maybe take a nap, have dinner, get up early enough to do something fun: whale watching, sunrise viewing. Two nights, three days. Two nights and two days, now. It shouldn’t have cost this much, a little trip. With our shitty jobs and their sad paychecks (excluding Heinz), it was a bit much. But we wanted to see each other. We wanted a chance to hang out again—alone, instead of in the newest mall or swanky themed club. Besides, didn’t we earn this? Suffering through sleepless nights, the pain of a B-, the group projects that made us want to choke each other on frappuccinos? Didn’t we deserve this after taking our first jobs (except modeling for Nina, because that’s kind of cool), realizing we weren’t hot shit, that the rest of the world wanted to stomp us? We don’t mean to sound whiny. It’s all right most of the time. Except when it’s really not. The room isn’t far away but we take our time getting there, because of the wet sand in our slippers—we fucking hate wet sand. We open the door without knocking, and then remember the lock is broken anyway. Heinz and Chino are spooning like good little lovers, and that makes us feel content. But we won’t let them hog all the fun. Anyway, it’s clearly siesta time. Josie squeezes in behind Chino, and Nina and Rich crawl into the other bed, facing opposite directions, heads resting against crooked arms, and we all fall asleep this way. * How did we come together? You already know that Chino and Heinz are in love, that maybe we’re all in love. You should also know that Chino and Josie are second cousins on their mothers’ sides, that Rich and Nina live five streets apart in the same subdivision; that we all had passing knowledge of each other through elementary and high school, because that’s how Manila works, interlocking webs of friends-relatives-acquaintances, piled into the same human stew. Then we became blockmates in freshman Lit and English. Three 68
times a week in Gonzalez Hall, for two hours, despite our varied majors. 8:00 am, which was a pain. We bonded over that pain during lunch break. Walking to the caf, to eat tapsilog or chicken nuggets and gravy over java rice. Lunch was for gossiping and speculating about everything and nothing: what a clusterfuck that midterm was, the coincidence of matching outfits, the future in all its murky glory. So that’s how friendship happens, sometimes: sitting next to each other, having the same visceral disgust at a prof ’s unnecessary freak-out about cheating, the shared dream of backpacking across Europe before we’re twenty-five, the same desire to be reckless-wild-and-free, the same fear we will never be. These things keep us from being alone, so that even now, a year after graduation, we’re comfortable enough to be half-asleep in the same room, dreaming in the same sticky air, breathing each other’s breaths. * The requisite beachside dinner: fried fish. We order, seated at the mint green plastic tables with wobbly legs. The rain has stopped. The candles on the tables don’t keep away the flies. It’s both picturesque and dirty. We grab San Migs from the giant cooler with melted ice and look at each other’s faces, grinning almost shyly. The fish comes and it’s full of tinik and not very tasty, so we douse it in Knorr and calamansi. The fishes’ fried eyes are turned accusingly towards us. There’s a bonfire crackling in the sand, but no band playing. “Where’s the music?” Heinz asks, loud enough for the waiter to hear, but he ignores us. “Where’s everyone else?” Nada. We expected music, the cheesier the better. There’s not even a Magic Sing hooked up to the tv. Chino says, “I can grab my guitar.” We forgot that he brought it. Nina and Josie order a round of shots. The waiter comes and takes our massacred fishes away. We down the shots. Rich buys another round, just as Chino reappears, guitar in hand. 69
We get up from the table. We’re not drunk yet, but we don’t want to keep staring at each other’s faces in the candlelight. The sky is dense with clouds, and maybe it’s the tequila but everyone’s features suddenly seem warped, alien. Here we are at the end of things, fearless and free as we’re allowed to be. We move closer to the fire. Chino starts playing and god, his voice, it’s so gorgeous, it’s like butter sliding down our throats: Now you say you love me, you cried the whole night through... “You and your senti,” Nina says. “I know you only learned that ‘cause of V for Vendetta.” She gestures like she’s going to swat Chino on the arm, but she doesn’t. Really she’s just sad he’s not doing this for a living. Instead he’s part of IT at Globe and suffering. Well you can cry me a river, cry me a river, he sings anyway. We’ve always thought Chino’s eyelashes were exceptionally long for a dude’s. They seem to catch the firelight now, glowing as he sings. That’s my fucking boyfriend, we think. Nina and Josie kick off their slippers and dance with each other in a close hold. “Look at that couple,” Nina whispers in Josie’s ear. Josie squints as we spin around slowly. The couple emerges from the water, snorkeling gear still on, too much seaweed dangling off them. They’re holding hands. In the dark their skin looks pale blue. Foreigners, probably. They walk slowly toward the giant rock. “Ew, I wouldn’t want to fuck there,” Josie replies, and we giggle. One of us should have brought some shit to amplify this moment. Usually Rich is the man for those things, but Rich already looks high despite being empty, leaning back on his elbows, drinking in the fire and Chino’s voice telling us we told him love was too plebeian, watching two girls he loves slow-dancing with each other. There are no fireflies, only flies. But there are times when the only thing to do is sway one’s head and take it in, take it all in. For all our faults we at least know these moments, even if only when we’re already in them.
* We get up groggy, our mouths feeling funny, at around ten-thirty. Still too early for a proper sleep-in. None of us are in the mood for breakfast. We walk to the beach and it’s totally empty. “Well, we can just turn it into a nudist colony,” Josie jokes. Her better mood makes us all happy. We buy chips and soda from a sari-sari shack and sit on the sand, crunching, until Rich says, “Parasailing. Who’s game?” The activities dock is on the opposite end. We walk towards it, wary because we haven’t seen anyone doing anything. No one zipping around on banana boats, no foreigners with young wives in tow, trying for romance while surrounded by screaming children. Two manongs are squatting on a small inflatable boat, smoking, when we reach them. One is bald, and the other one is shirtless. Heinz asks, “Kuya, may parasailing ba?” The bald manong makes a kissy face towards a boat resting against the shore. “Dalawang libo isa,” he says. “Discount na yung pitong libo.” Rich reaches into his pocket, but Heinz protests and says they’ve at least got to split the cost. Bald manong counts out the bills, and stuffs them into his back pocket. Shirtless manong clambers into the boat and pulls out a ladder. When we climb in, he hands each of us a neon life vest. We slip them on, feeling silly as we click the straps into place. “Puwede ba kaming lima?” Heinz asks. Shirtless manong shakes his head. He pulls out the parasailing contraption from a side panel. There’s room for three. After some shrugging we decide that the guys will fly together and the girls will fly together. Bald manong starts up the motor. We lean over the edge and watch the water churn. For a moment we see faces in the water: of classmates or people we might know, mouthing words that emerge as white foam. They’re expressionless. When we blink they become corals that only look like people. We watch for darting fishes, but it’s difficult to see when we’re moving through the water so quickly.
Shirtless manong gestures for the guys to sit down. He hooks them up to the parasailing contraption, then tugs on their vests to make sure they’re secure. As the boat picks up speed, the parachute fans out behind us, a garish red-white-blue, and we’re slowly pulled away. It’s terrifying, then exhilarating. Up in the sky, flying over everything, it feels okay that we have no idea where to go. It’s okay that our lives are—kind of shitty right now, and maybe only in the sense that we thought for some reason it’d be better. Life is bluegreen, deep and swallowing. What if the faces beneath the boat are really merpeople, or the dead bodies of those college kids who braved the storm and lost? What if the rope snaps, despite the cables, what if we’re torn away by the wind, what if this fear is enough to overwhelm us, make us beg to pulled back to the boat, to safety? But even the boat isn’t safe. Nowhere is safe. It’s almost safer to be up here in the sky. What do you talk about, this high in the sky? Why do we need to talk anyway, when we know each other so well, we don’t know each other at all? * Over dinner the waiter is restless, even as we rack up our bill for drinks. He glowers as he brings us greasy calamari. The air feels electric and our arms are tingly, again with the heat from that crappy bonfire. Chino left his guitar in the room, but we’re all thinking tonight is for a different kind of music. We’re all thinking: we go back tomorrow, back to our lives—and nothing has changed. It starts to rain, just lightly, but we decide it’s not worth staying on the beach. The waves are a soundtrack none of us want to listen to. It’s too much like ourselves, lost and rolling, in and out and in again. Still, we drink and wipe our oily fingers on thin paper napkins and keep it together until we reach our rooms. Heinz and Chino crush themselves against the door, mouths fastened. Rich brought some weed after all, he just didn’t bring it out earlier ‘cause he wasn’t sure what we’d think of him still doing this. We’re too drunk to think much of anything. He lights up. It smells like sweat and melons. Chino 72
has his lips on Heinz’s throat. Josie complains about how noisy the rain is, as Rich rolls up a joint for Nina. The moon beyond the open windows is shrouded by clouds. We stumble into our room to crash on the bed, thinking this isn’t like the movies because this is better, this is real, thinking I don’t care how many girls you’ve fucked after your gigs because you’re here with me and you’re mine, thinking of shame, thinking of family, thinking fuck them. In the room next door we watch Nina stagger to her bed, giggle, fall asleep. We imagine her going down on someone, for no reason at all. There’s just this image of Nina sucking someone’s cock, and it’s bizarre, it doesn’t suit her at all, we hate ourselves for thinking it. She curls up, already out after one joint and some basi, and Josie reaches down and brushes Nina’s hair away from her face. Rich watches Josie do this with a strange hunger, so powerful he almost throws up his grilled squid. He can’t take his eyes off Josie as she moves to sit next to him. “Is this why you don’t have a girlfriend, Mr. Martinez?” Josie asks, in her husky, slam-poetry voice. A few strands of hair are in her mouth. “Staring at the girl you love and doing nothing?” “I only love her like I love the rest of you,” Rich says. Josie nods with satisfaction. She pulls her sundress off, drops it on the floor. Then she lifts her pointer finger and touches his forehead, a stupid little nothing-touch that jolts him anyway. She traces that finger down his nose and over his lips then unfolds her whole hand, sliding down his chest before palming his cock. Rich moans, scattered, angry. He won’t jerk against Josie, doesn’t want to give her that much power, so he says, “Are you thinking of Nina?” and Josie whispers, “Only if you are,” then Rich grabs Josie by her hips and drags her into his lap and bites the skin above her left breast, she gasps, why the hell is she wearing that damned bikini bottom, she throws her head back so that her neck is in sharp relief against the faint light as she lets out a long sigh. Then a drowned person climbs in through the window and embraces Josie from behind.
* We all hear her scream. The drowned person has cold skin and is moaning, maybe because it’s trying to get in on the action, it doesn’t understand that it’s dead. Josie jumps away and it wails sadly. Rich stands, disoriented and aroused. Nina rolls over, asking what’s wrong. Heinz and Chino appear at the door, wearing their boxers, and the drowned person gazes at us in sorrow. We’re frozen in that moment until another drowned person sticks its face through the window. We run out of our room, into the hallway, down that long forever corridor. We hear the drowned behind us, not running but not staggering either. We run past the lobby and the lady is sitting there. She sighs and shouts after us, “We are not responsible for stolen objects.” We run out of the hotel, onto the wet, squelchy sand. It feels alive. We’re blinded by the sheets of white rain, until our eyes refocus and we see them. Most are pale blue, but some are pink and raw like they’ve been scraped against corals, like they’re walking wounds. They look eerily familiar: that one resembles our coworker, that one the slacker from Intro to Theo. Some are naked, others are still in their swimming clothes, stuck to their skin so tightly they could be tattooed on. Their eyes are the color of seaweed, of classic Coke bottles: beautiful eyes that flicker between green and blue. “Fuck!” Rich screams. He sounds more afraid than we’ve ever heard him—our brave, swaggering Rich—and this freaks us out. We should have grabbed things to use as weapons. We should have asked the lobby lady what the fuck to do, because we don’t know, and the drowned are puckering their mouths at us—like they want to eat us, maybe, or kiss us. They’re clustering together, others squatting on the sand, drawing on it despite the rain. They come towards us, looking doleful, their fish-flapping mouths working rapidly. We can’t hear their words. We don’t want to. Their arms are held out, like they want to embrace us. We’ve stayed in place too long and suddenly a little girl in a bright pink bikini, so blindingly bright in the white lashing rain, latches onto Heinz’s leg and kisses 74
his knee. Part of her skull is showing. He shakes his leg and screeches for her to get off, like she’s a dog instead of a girl, but she clings until Josie hauls her away by the armpits. Josie flings her like a beach ball. The drowned moan in protest. We start running, kicking up sand behind us. We end up at the rocky outcropping. We know this is a really fucking terrible idea before we even start climbing. Too late. Rich reaches the top first, then Josie, then Nina. She cuts her heel on the jagged surface and her scrunched-up face tears at all of our hearts. Some of the drowned have lumbered after us. They reach the edge of the bluff as Chino is making his way up. They start pulling Heinz, who is still on the sand; he flails as they drag him away. Chino starts climbing back down and we yell at him don’t, no, it’s useless—fuck, that was the wrong thing to say —we’ll find another way—none of us have any fucking clue what to do—but Chino leaps down and fights through the drowned people to grab Heinz’s hand. It’s like the love they’ve never confessed. The drowned jostle the two away. Nina and Josie shout for Chino and Heinz, their cries turning to gurgles in the rain. The drowned drag Heinz and Chino through the sand to a pile of seaweed in the middle of the beach. They are forming words with the seaweed—or some kind of shape. “It looks like a heart,” Nina sobs, we think that’s what she sobs. Rich is so scared he forgets himself and spins Nina around, tries to kiss her. She shoves him away. Screams, “Really, right now? Are you out of your fucking mind?” But the words are blurred, and Nina never curses; so maybe she’s saying: I love you too. Josie can’t feel anything anymore, standing there in her soaked bikini, the lukewarm rain battering them everywhere. More drowned appear at the base of the rocky structure: clamoring, pleading, yearning for us. We watch Heinz and Chino get draped with seaweed, arms fastened. Then the drowned people lift them and walk into the sea. “No,” Josie says, “No no no,” she can’t shout anymore, her throat hurts too much. “No, I’m not just standing here,” and anyway the drowned have started to climb up after us. The fastest one heaves both 75
elbows onto the rock. Rich starts kicking its face but that isn’t going to change anything, so while he’s doing that we look at each other. We come to an understanding. We dash to the rock’s edge, holding hands, and leap off. Because if we can hit the water maybe we can save Heinz and Chino, maybe Rich will stop being afraid and will save us all. The rain will decide we aren’t worth tormenting, the drowned will wake up and they’ll be alive again, they’ll be themselves again and not blue, not hungry, not lonely. Rich screams our names as we fall. * The truth is: even the terror of that night might have been better than the terror of living that loomed over us. We didn’t know where to go, what to do, in the real world. We never believed the beach had answers. But at least for a while, between the sea and the sand, we thought we could find a shape again, instead of being adrift. It wasn’t that the drowned were terrifying. They didn’t even seem bent on killing us. They just wanted their stolen lives back. Maybe they wanted love, to be human again, but they lost that chance. How is that scary? It’s only tragic. But we were afraid, we can’t lie, because the water was bruise-colored and smiling as we sped down towards it. * We always knew that when pushed, Rich would drop the act, stop being Mr. Suave. That for no reason at all he’d be guilty, he’d blame himself, and we’d be fine with it. Still, we don’t expect him to go this far: jumping in after us. Throwing away what would have been a more or less perfect life. We don’t want to let them take each other. Not even if what’s beyond might be worse. “There’s still so much I want to do,” Nina sputters, and yes, that’s how it feels. We’re just about ready to fight the sinking, we’ve just about had enough. Through the crashing waves we see the lobby lady, the grumpy waiter, the bald and shirtless manongs 76
standing on the shore, arms crossed. They’re looking at the drowned sand art like it means something, like they’re numbed to this. The water seethes around us, nightmare-deep. We dive down to recover Heinz and Chino. We slap and shove the drowned away from them, Rich taking lead on the offensive until we manage to peel our boys from the group, struggling up to the surface. They’re covered in seaweed, bubbles streaming from their mouths and noses—but they’re alive, still alive. We break the surface, gasping. The drowned below us look extra scary underwater, white and woebegone. “Let’s swim,” Rich pants. “Let’s get away, we’ll figure everything out later.” Nina holds Chino and Josie holds Heinz, and Rich holds Nina and Josie, and we start swimming. We feel the drowned people’s hands stroke our shins, arms, shoulders, but they can’t stop us—or they’re not really trying. Maybe they want us to get away. We’re kicking, dog-paddling like crazy. The tide is warm, gritty, holding us in its arms as we try to go somewhere, anywhere, as the waves lash our lips. In our mouths it tastes like beer and salt and the wreckage of our lives, so familiar we could choke on it, and keep choking.
Jill Arteche. 6:30 am Commute. Colored pencil and orange marker. 11.6 x 8.3 in.
Isobel Francisco. News. Oil on canvas. 30 x 40 in.
Carra Amanda Dazo. the brink. Ink on paper. 11 x 14 in.
Julianna Sta. Ana & Aisha Rallonza. Chrysalis (comic) i. Digital.
Kristine A. Caguiat. Bruiser (view 1). Bone China sculpture. 7 x 7 in.
Kristine A. Caguiat. Bruiser (view 2). Bone China sculpture. 7 x 7 in.
Kristine A. Caguiat. Bruiser (view 3). Bone China sculpture. 7 x 7 in.
Isobel Francisco. King and Queen of Hearts. Oil on canvas and mixed media on frames. 60 x 48 in.
Hermogenes B. Arayata iv. 乱取り (Taking Chaos). Enamel on canvas. 27 x 36 in.
Clare Bianca Tantoco.Ana (series) 1 They didnâ€™t think I was sick. Paper. 6 x 6 in.
Clare Bianca Tantoco. Ana (series) ii So I didnâ€™t think I was sick. Paper. 6 x 6 in.
Marco T. Torrijos. Pizza Dinner. Ink on paper. 33.1 x 23.4 in.
Pizza Dinner. Ink on paper (detail 1). 33.1 x 23.4 in.
Pizza Dinner. Ink on paper (detail 2). 33.1 x 23.4 in.
Pizza Dinner. Ink on paper (detail 3). 33.1 x 23.4 in.
Hermogenes B. Arayata IV (4 BFA Information Design) Artist. Martial Artist. Judoka. Jill Arteche (BFA Information Design 2017) Jill Arteche is a visual artist, illustrator, and graphic designer. Just last May, she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Information Design and was honored the Loyola Schools Awards for the Arts: Excellence in Illustration from the Ateneo de Manila University. She is also a current member of Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan, the Philippinesâ€™ first and only organization of illustrators for children. Jill primarily enjoys doing editorial and book illustrations, with works that have been published in adobo, Rogue, Pepper, and Young STAR. Moreover, she also enjoys painting exhibition works, with works that have been exhibited in the Ayala Museum, Globe Art Gallery, and the Tokyo Midtown Design hub in Japan. As a visual artist, Jill is a firm believer that there is beauty in the unattractive, which she expresses as it is, in all its comically grotesque glory. Christian Benitez (Kagawaran ng Filipino) Hinirang na Makata ng Taon 2018, si Christian Benitez ay kasalukuyang nagtuturo sa Kagawaran ng Filipino ng Pamantasang Ateneo de Manila, kung saan niya tinapos ang programang ab-ma Panitikang Filipino. Nailathala ang ilan sa kanyang mga akda sa SOFTBLOW, High Chair, Diagram.
Regine Cabato (AB Communications 2016) “Give us writers, yes, but before that give us moral men.” —The GUIDON editorial, March 1978 http://medium.com/@RegineCabato Regine Cabato currently works as a journalist for both broadcast and digital platforms in Manila. Her work has been published in Kritika Kultura, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Cha Literary Journal, and Rambutan Literary. In her college years, she reported for The GUIDON’s Beyond Loyola section. She received a Loyola School Award for the Arts for poetry and a Raul Locsin Award in explanatory journalism. She hails from Zamboanga City. Kristine A. Caguiat (BFA Information Design 2010) Kristine A. Caguiat is a collage artist and illustrator from the Philippines. She was part of the first batch that graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts, Information Design from the Ateneo de Manila University in 2010. She received certifications in illustration and art theory from the Slade School of Fine Art in London, the United Kingdom and from Peking University in Beijing, China. She enjoys eating spam and playing with poodles in her spare time. Carra Amanda Dazo (3 BS Life Sciences) A Life Sci student who engages in various forms of self-expression when time permits. Karl Estuart (4 BS Applied Mathematics Major in Mathematical Finance) Furnishing myself with pretexts for running after rooftops.
Isobel Francisco (AB Humanities 2009) Isobel Francisco graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University with a major in Humanities (Literature and Fine Arts) and a minor in Japanese Studies. Since her first group show in December 2011, she has exhibited in Hong Kong, China, and various corners of Metro Manila, and she has been featured on numerous print and online publications. Her website is www.stainedpaper.me. Martina Herras (3 AB Literature-English) “My desires have invented new desires, my body knows unheard-of songs.”—Hélène Cixous para sa hapon na sinamahan Kita na maglakad pauwi. tinyletter.com/alun-sina Gabrielle Leung (4 BS Physics) for Aling Lucy, who deserves the impossible Alyssa Gewell A. Llorin (1 BS Applied Physics/Materials Science Engineering) Isang baguhan sa buhay-Ateneo at panunulat pero kayang magkunwari. Madalas hindi napapansin pero kayang maghintay. Hindi pa rin alam kung anong aatupagin sa buhay pero kayang magpursigi. DC Mostrales (MS Chemistry 2017) Having just finished his Master’s degree, DC is still trying to figure out the way forward. For reasons you can guess, he doesn’t want to go back to Iligan City, Lanao del Norte in this [political] climate. You can @ him on twitter-dot-com; he goes by @kittychoclit. He can and will fite you.
Janelle Paris (AB Communications 2017) Janelle currently works in Spain, where she talks to her colleague Jorge for an hour—30 minutes in English, 30 minutes in Spanish —every Tuesday. Sometimes they talk about the city of Burgos and sweet potatoes, sometimes about Trump and Jesus. Marga, the lunch lady, hears everything and understands half of it. Aisha Rallonza (2 BFA Creative Writing) Living life like a bad guitar solo. Mikaela Regis (2 BFA Creative Writing) “Ang bagong normal na ba to?” —Pablo Baens Santos. Estetiko ng Murahan. Instalasyon. Para kina Mama, Papa, at Ate Pau, maraming salamat sa pagmamahal at tiwala. Para kina Lola Aurie at Lolo Ber, binigyan ko po kayo ng mga lumang heights folio noon, mabibigyan ko na po kayo ng bagong folio na may akda ko. Para sa mga bagong bayani. Clare Bianca Tantoco (1 BFA Art Management) Clare (or Clarke or Bianca or Binky or Binx or whatever as long as it’s not Claire) is a bfa Art Management student who loves cutting paper but is afraid of paper cuts. She’s also easily amused by irony. Julianna Sta. Ana (4 BFA Information Design) Wants to make more comics and sleep Benilda Santos (Dean of the School of Humanities 2016-2017) Kasalukuyang nagtuturo ng isang klase sa Kagawaran ng Filipino si Ma’am Beni, o Benilda S. Santos, PhD., at nagrerebisa ng kanyang manuskrito ng mga tula na malapit nang ilathala.
Paolo Tiausas (Kagawaran ng Filipino) Nagsusulat si Paolo Tiausas mula sa siyudad ng Pasig. Kasalukuyan siyang nagtuturo sa Kagawaran ng Filipino sa Pamantasang Ateneo de Manila. Nakapaglathala na siya sa Kritika Kultura, Likhaan: The Journal of Contemporary Philippine Literature, Rambutan Literary Journal, heights, SOFTBLOW, Plural: Online Prose Journal, at The Philippines Free Press. Nagkamit siya ng Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature noong 2016. Kasalukuyan niyang tinatapos ang kaniyang ma ng Literature-Filipino sa ADMU. Bahagi ang “Teatro ni San Francisco” ng kasalukuyan niyang binubuo na proyekto na pinamagatang Tuwing Nag-iisa sa Mapa ng Buntong-Hininga. Michaela Gonzales Tiglao (4 BS Psychology) Michaela Gonzales Tiglao is a senior at the Ateneo de Manila University majoring in bs Psychology with a minor in Creative Writing. Her stories have been published in heights Ateneo, where she is currently the Editor-at-Large. She was a fellow for fiction in the 22nd Ateneo heights Writers Workshop. If you are from Dumaguete, please e-mail her at email@example.com so she may settle her suman delivery. Marco T. Torrijos (4 BS Management) Chungking Express (1994) Blue Valentine (2010) Raging Bull (1980) Love (2015) Boogie Nights (1997)
Joshua Uyheng (BS Psychology 2016, BS Mathematics 2017) “Let there be no more dreams of being / more than a beginning.” —Mary Szybist, “In the Beginning God Said Light” Josh currently teaches mathematics and psychology at the Loyola Schools. He would someday like to learn how to swim. Martin Villanueva (Department of Fine Arts) Martin Villanueva is currently Chair of the Ateneo de Manila University Department of Fine Arts where he has taught creative writing courses since 2008. He is also associate editor for the literary section of Kritika Kultura, and the faculty moderator of the heights English staff. He released his first book of poetry entitled Account in 2017, and participated in the Writers Immersion and Cultural Exchange residency, the Queensland Poetry Festival, and the Melbourne Writers Festival. Isabel Yap (BS Management 2010) Isabel attended Ateneo from 2008-2010 and was English Editor of heights in her sophomore year. She likes writing stories about monsters, playing the ukulele, crying over good fiction, and drinking powdered coffee. She would like to thank Nica and Stef for always indulging their silly mom-grandmere. She is currently based in the California Bay Area. You can find her on Twitter at @visyap.
Errata In heights vol. 65 no. 2, the title of Ida de Jesus’ work should be “Does flesh make us human? (showmewhatyourinsideslooklike)” instead of “Does flesh make us human? (showmewhatyourinsideslooklike)!” The contents of Jolo Urquico’s piece “The Prophet” and “The Elder” should be switched. Alfred A. Yuson’s bionote was not included. Yuri Ysabel Tan’s work “Artifacts of Domesticity” is missing a photo. Regina Ira Antoinette Geli ’s work should read “Bird Studies” instead of “Bird Studes.” The word “break” in Corrine Victoria F. Garcia’s piece “breaking the pithos” should not be italicized. All errors have been rectified in the online version of the folio. The heights editorial board would like to apologize for the aforementioned mistakes.
Acknowledgments Fr. Jose Ramon T. Villarin, sj and the Office of the President Dr. Ma. Luz C. Vilches and the Office of the Vice President for the Loyola Schools Mr. Roberto Conrado Guevara and the Office of the Associate Dean for Student Affairs Dr. Josefina D. HofileĂąa and the Office of the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Jonathan Chua and the Office of the Dean, School of Humanities Dr. Isabel Pefianco Martin and the English Department Mr. Martin V. Villanueva and the Department of Fine Arts Dr. Joseph T. Salazar at ang Kagawaran ng Filipino Mr. Allan Popa and the Ateneo Institute of the Literary Arts and Practices (ailap) Mr. Ralph Jacinto A. Quiblat and the Office of Student Activities Ms. Marie Joy R. Salita and the Office of Associate Dean for the Student and Administrative Services Ms. Liberty Santos and the Central Accounting Office Mr. Regidor Macaraig and the Purchasing Office Dr. Vernon R. Totanes and the Rizal Library Ms. Carina C. Samaniego and the University Archives Ms. Ma. Victoria T. Herrara and the Ateneo Art Gallery The mvp Maintenance and Security Personnel Ms. Gabrielle Gabaton and the Sector-Based Cluster Dr. Vincenz Serrano and Kritika Kultura Mr. Arjan P. Aguirre and the Martial Law Museum Mr. Robbin Dagle and The GUIDON Ms. Micah Rimando and Matanglawin The Sanggunian ng Mag-aaral ng Ateneo de Manila, and the Council of Organizations of the Ateneo And to those who have been keeping literature and art alive in the community by continuously submitting their works and supporting the endeavors of heights
Editorial Board Editor - in - Chief Gabrielle Frances R. Leung [bs ps 2019] Associate Editor Yuri Ysabel G. Tan [bfa id 2019] Managing Editor for External Affairs Neil John C. Vildad [ab lit (eng) 2018] for Internal Affairs Marco Emmanuel T. Torrijos [bs mgt 2018] for Finance Alexandria T. Tuico [bfa am 2018] Editor -at - Large Michaela Marie G. Tiglao [bs psy 2019] Art Editor Celline Marge Z. Mercado [bfa id, am 2019] Associate Art Editor Jayvee A. del Rosario [ab-ma pos 2020] Design Editor Dianne Manselle L. Aguas [bfa id 2018] Associate Design Editor Ninna D. Lebrilla [bfa id 2019] English Editor Sophia Alicia S. Bonoan [bfa cw 2019] Associate English Editor Catherine Lianza A. Aquino [ab psy 2020] Filipino Editor Martina M. Herras [ab lit (eng) 2019] Associate Filipino Editor Jose Alfonso Ignacio K. Mirabueno [bs cs 2019] Production Manager Cesar Alfonso S. Castor VI [ab psy 2018] Associate Production Manager Lorenzo Miguel S. Reyes [bs mis-mscs 2020] Heights Online Editor Corinne Victoria F. Garcia [bfa id 2018] Associate Heights Online Editor Nolan Kristoff P. Sison [bfa id 2018]
Head Moderator and Moderator for Filipino Allan Alberto N. Derain Moderator for Art Yael A . Borromeo Moderator for English Martin V. Villanueva Moderator for Design Tanya Lea Francesca M. Mallillin Moderator for Production Enrique Jaime S. Soriano Moderator for Heights Online Regine Miren D. Cabato
Eunice Nicole Arevalo, Jude Angelo S. Buendia, Aisha Dominique Q. Causing, Rico Cruz, Fernando Miguel Lofranco, Kimberly Que, Andrea Ramos, Robyn Saquin, Jose Carlos Joaquin W. Singson, Clare Bianca F. Tantoco, Andrea Janelle G. Ting, Dexter Yu, Charles Yuchioco
Design Andrea Adriano, JJ Agcaoili, Zianne Agustin, Kim Alivia, Rico Cruz, Diana F. David, Justine Daquioag, Zoe C. de Ocampo, Arien M. Lim, Arien M. Lim, Riana G. Lim, Ninielle Pascual, Diorjica Ranoy, Jeanine Rojo, Pie Tiausas, Jonah Velasquez, Dyan Villegas, Elyssa Villegas English
Alec Bailon, Helena Maria H. Baraquel, Sofia Ysabel I. Bernedo, Danie Cabahug, Karl Estuart, Trishia Gail G. Fernandez, Jamie Gutierrez, Daniel Manguerra, Ryan C. Molen, Marty R. Nevada, Lia Pauline P. Paderon, Mikaela Adrianne C. Regis, James Andrew Reysio-Cruz, Trisha Anne K. Reyes, Lukas Miguel A. Santiago, Patricia Clarice A. Sarmiento, Madeline Sy, Alie Unson, Nigel Yu, Timothy Vincent Yusingco
Carissa Natalia Baconguis, Danielle Michelle B. Cabahug, Charlene Kate D. Cruz, Gewell Llorin, Cymon Kayle Lubangco, Gerald Manuel, Angela Bianca C. Mira, Jelmer Jon Ochoa, Dorothy Claire Parungao, Mikaela Adrianne C. Regis, Paco Rivera, Elija Torre, Josemaria L. Villareal
Production Zianne Agustin, Sandy Añonuevo, Justin Barbara, Kim Bernadino, Giane Butalid, Madi Calleja, Brianna Cayetano, Gelo Dawa, Louise Dimalanta, Sofia Guanzon, Gerald Guillermo, Cesar Fabro, Gio Lopez, Anton Molina, Trisha Reyes, Julien Tabilog, Bea Valenzuela, Charles Yuchioco Heights Online Zoe Andin, Marianne Antonio, Gaby Baizas, Helena Baraquel, Maia Boncan, Angela Cortero, Hazel Lam, Kayla Ocampo, Aga Olympia, Patrick Ong, Jonina Ramos, Tamia Reodica, Julien Tabilog, Sam Wong
23rd ateneo heights writers workshop
february 16-18, 2018 Boso-Boso Highlands Resort and Convention Center, Antipolo Panelists Conchitina Cruz Tim Dacanay Allan Derain Glenn L. Diaz Christine V. Lao Gabriela Lee Glenn Mas Allan Popa Vincenz Serrano Fellows Alec E. Bailon [nonfiction] Sabrina Basilio [dula] Carissa Natalia Baconguis [tula] Helena Maria Baraquel [poetry] Sophia Alicia Bonoan [fiction] Karl Lorenzo San Jose Estuart [nonfiction] Nathan Myles Lim [fiction] Dorothy Claire Parungao [tula] Jamina Marian Nitura [dula] Jose Alfonso Ignacio Mirabueno [maikling kuwento]
Workshop Directors Yuri Ysabel Tan Martina M. Herras
Workshop Deliberation Committee english Catherina Dario Carlo Flordeliza Nikay Paredes Stephanie Shi filipino Christian Benitez Jerome Ignacio Jonnel Inojosa Rachel Marra Workshop Committee Kim Alivia, Sandy Anonuevo, Marty R. Nevada, Daniel Manguerra, Ryan C. Molen, Mikaela Regis [volunteers] Cat Aquino, Gabrielle Leung, Neil John Vildad [online team] Finance Alexandria Tuico Charles Yuchioco Design Dianne Aguas Zoe de Ocampo Pie Tiausas Head Moderator Allan Alberto N. Derain
The Second Regular Folio for AY 2017-2018. Heights is the official literary and artistic publication and organization of the Ateneo de Manil...
Published on Apr 20, 2018
The Second Regular Folio for AY 2017-2018. Heights is the official literary and artistic publication and organization of the Ateneo de Manil...