TOMO 68 BLG. 2
heights tomo 68 bilang 1i Karapatang-ari 2021 Ang heights ang opisyal na pampanitikan at pansining na publikasyon at organisasyon ng Pamantasang Ateneo de Manila. Reserbado ang karapatang-ari sa mga indibidwal na awtor ng mga akda ng isyung ito. Hindi maaaring ilathala, ipakopya, o ipamudmod sa anumang anyo ang mga akda nang walang pahintulot ng mga may-akda. Hindi maaaring ibenta sa kahit anong paraan at pagkakataon ang kopyang ito. Maaaring makipag-ugnayan sa: 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.com facebook.com/HeightsAteneo @HeightsAteneo Malikhaing Direksyon: Patricia Grace R. Fermin Dibuho ng pabalat: Patricia Grace R. Fermin Paglalapat: Tricia R. Alcantara, Eli Alconis, Alfonso Arellano, Kessa Avila, Ven Bello, Jana Codera, Lia Datiles, Carmen Dolina, Sarah Huang, Giulia Clara R. Lopez, Anya Nellas, MJ Sison, Justin Dhaniel Tan, Trisha Tan, Mia Tupas, Dagny Eran Yenko Folio Launch Team: Angelika Portia Lapidario, Psyche B. Villanueva, Zianne Agustin, Robert Kwan Laurel, Ashlee Baritugo, Cad Dionco, Arnold Manuel, Lindsey Therese U. Lim, Louise Janelle Dimalanta, Justine Borja, Maria Carmela Cabanos, Mariana Gardoce Inilimbag sa mvb Verdigris
Mga Nilalaman Jerome Matthew L. Maiquez 1 obituwaryo ng panginoong merkuryo Ryan Gabriel B. Suarez 3 sa inyo na ang korona Amiana Joy S. Saguid 4 tira-tira ng tinola Lars Michaelsen V. Salamante 5 sipi mula sa 2039 134 Dugo ang Unang Kulay ng Bahaghari Paolo Miguel G. Tiausas 18 Where Are You From? Jerome Allen Agpalza 19 TITE Iago B. Guballa 21 Balay Dolor 72 excerpt fromThe Echoist Mirick Paala 57 Bastardo Angela Lanuza 59 I fear and I name Rei Warren 62 The one who takes the photo Andrea Posadas 94 HOW-TO: Draw Strength from Hate Stanley Guevarra 97 The Paradox of Dwelling and Travelling: Migrant Worker Mobility in Pinoy Sunday Cat Aquino 117 Bitter Soil
Kevin Castro 129 ipinagpapaliban muna ang pakikibaka 138 Terrarrium Rey Arriola 132 24 mins. Angelo C. Ramos 136 Habits Yuri Ysabel Tan 140 One thousand origami dresses
Editoryal In its previous semester, HEIGHTS opened a themeless call to provide a site for freedom and allow the community to define an era of historical turmoil in their own terms. Having set such precedent however, the publication’s previous folio ironically became a pronouncement of the afflictions that multiplied in manifold restraints that define non-freedom; be it in the corners of an estranged home, the grief suppressed in confinement, or the qualms silenced and shrugged by the institutions that contain us. A year hence has passed, yet HEIGHTS, along with the rest of the world, remained in a standstill. Albeit cure and assurance did come in the form of vaccines, dis-ease remained widespread in every headline of death trivialized, in every week compartmentalized into deadlines, and in every personal disquiet eluding mind, body, and home. In the unyielding feelings of dissatisfaction, discontent, and disenchantment, the 68th Editorial Board, in its second semester, found resolve by giving these preoccupations a place through a folio dedicated to grievances. Our folio’s call for contributions then, did not begin with questions. The publication, through its call, instead asserted how a grievance, beyond being a recognition of a perceived wrong, is an act that emanates from a founded resentment that emboldens the causes behind our burdens and our losses today. Grievances can transform into acts as a complaint as much as a criticism and a plea as much as a protest; palpable in the silence of grief and clamor of collective outcry. Such is visualized in works like Kevin Castro’s “ipinagpapaliban muna ang pakikibaka,” a personal angle on activism which spells both contingent resignation and hope in the image of a faded protest sign, and in Lars Michaelsen V. Salamante’s “Dugo ang Unang Kulay ng Bahaghari,” where a demonstration is captured with the colors of
the LGBT flag bleeding with both saturation and fervor for a cause. The publication, throughout the course of the semester, underscored how these acts have always been grounded and rooted in reason. In the folio hence, the constellation of grievances explored was borne from feelings of helplessness, frustration, and indignation toward undue treatment, robbed opportunities, and unjust circumstances. This is likewise depicted in works like Cat Aquino’s “Bitter Soil,” a historical fiction piece that recounts the abuses endured by indios under hacienda-owning insulares, in Mirick Paala’s “Bastardo,” where power is dichotomized between one’s body and the hegemony that controls it, and in Lars Michaelsen V. Salamante’s “2039,” where one struggles to restore agency in the face of a totalitarian society and is tortured into blind subservience. These corporeal grievances made in response to oppressive institutions can also be found in Iago B. Guballa’s excerpt from “The Echoist,” dense with themes on domination, sexual play, and BDSM–which directs resentment towards a social system that glorifies submission and aggression. Renouncing institutions as a form of grievance is also found in Guballa’s “Balay Dolor,” and in Andrea Posadas’s “HOW-TO: Draw Strength from Hate,” in which the former serves as a critique on the religious patriarch’s repression of homosexuality, represented in the characters’ escape from Balay Dolor, while the latter, similarly utilizing a tone of criticism, envisages a “hurt locker”—teeming with condescension and hate—for corrupt political figures. While these spoken declarations clarify where one’s grievances derive from, other grievances can also find pronouncement and are equally apprehensible in what is unsaid; in what is subtle and insidious, like the eerie epiphany of naming one’s trauma in Angela Lanuza’s “I fear and I name;” in the maddening rage of an inhibited spectator in Rei Warren’s “The one who takes the photo,” where the persona bears witness to his family turning a blind eye while dedicatviii
ing to a political ideology that systemically perpetuates the problems even outside the virus today; or in one’s way towards cognizance in Paolo Miguel G. Tiausas’s “Where Are You From?” where one vacillates from fear, second-guessing, to anger in conceiving the question: why does it matter where I am from? Whether internally or externally manifested, grievances embrace a self-consciousness and knowledge of the ills entrenched in our reality that also bleed into the imaginary. Almost unbeknownst to us, our grievances can take form in our dreams. In Jerome Allen Agpalza’s “TITE,” for instance, grievances are embedded in the telling of one’s precarious aspirations, where one dreams of the beacon of a good life in the West, and where one no longer dreams of just travelling, but more so escaping the life they’re living. In a similar fashion, Stanley Guevarra’s “The Paradox of Dwelling and Travelling: Migrant Worker Mobility in Pinoy Sunday,” analyzes how the illusion of mobility in the neoliberal system, framed in the dream of migrants, is dialectically at play in the paradox of physically moving forward while being kept in a state of perpetual economic stasis by the system. Grievances are intrinsic, not only in the convenience of thought packaged in dreams, but even more in how we cope with them. In Angelo C. Ramos’s, “Habits,” grievances are implicit in the routines and luxuries adopted by and available to privileged demographics in health, wellness, and meditation, which, in contrast, are absent for the persona in Amiana Joy S. Saguid’s “tira-tira ng tinola.” Saguid’s poem instead delves into the slow violence and the poignant anger arising from one needing to silently “stomach” (i.e., in Tagalog, “sinisikmura”) everything in the face of hunger, evidenced in the relation between the power hungry and those they’ve left to starve. Kevin Castro’s “terrarium,” portrays the difficulty of needing to cope in the first place, wherein, one is forced to grapple with the anxieties and the hallucinatory episodes that are amplified in prolonged periods of confinement. Finally, Ryan Gabriel B. Suarez’s “sa inyo na ang korona,” while upbraiding leaders who behave like kings and queens ix
in “the palace,” is simultaneously a satirical allusion that criticizes the act of praying the virus away and waiting for miracles as a means to cope. Many of our grievances today may as well mark the end of history, like that articulated in the folio’s opening piece, Jerome Matthew L. Maiquez’s “obituwaryo ng panginoong merkuryo,” where the dead are at the mercy of those who write their obituaries and those who write history, but the folio’s concluding piece as its counterpart begged otherwise. The folio’s final piece, Yuri Ysabel Tan’s “One thousand origami dresses,” assents to how grievances can become a site for empathy, a demand for justice, and a call for revival and hope in its reclamation of the memory of the one thousand Filipino Comfort Women, represented in each folded origami bearing a message of consolation for a future where the fight goes on. It is in this same spirit that HEIGHTS’s 68th year closes with a folio on grievances. Throughout the course of the publication’s first year into the pandemic, it has tirelessly stressed that, albeit we hold on to the hope that the haze of the global quandary will eventually lift, we know for a fact that, the issues, and our predicaments, aggravated before and after it, will prevail. In this respect, through HEIGHTS LXVIII No. 2, we come to see how our grievances today, whether personal or communal, are authenticated by our participation in and commemoration of a time when the world grappled with the idea of already facing its end. But we must not stop here. While it is important that we recognize how grievances are weaved into the way we create today, be it in art and literature, or the conversations we open in and through them, it is just as imperative for us to be cognizant of how our politics cannot merely be preserved in, defined, or reduced to our aesthetics, because, where there is reciprocity between crisis and creation, there must also be continuity in breaking the boundaries between them through action. We circle back to how grievances can trigger and transform. x
In our act of emulating and articulating our grievances through, and even beyond, the pages of the folio, we enrich the meaning of an already defined call. Zofia Lyne R. Agama May 2021
jerome matthew l. maiquez
obituwaryo ng panginoong merkuryo sanggalang ng manlalakbay:
ng naglayag sa lahat ng sulok ng mundong patiunang inangkin at ng naglipat-tanim ng lahi upang anihin ang bunga at iuwi
patron ng mangangalakal at magnanakaw:
ng nakipagpalitan nang patas— lakas-tao at yaman ang pinamili dugo at pagbihag ang ibinayad
tagasundo ng namayapa:
ng libo-libong nakatas ang pagkatao bago pa malagutan ng hininga ng libo-libong may-obituwaryong sa lagumang-aklat lang nakatala
poon ng mananalumpati at manlilinlang:
ng mga nangaral: ito na raw ang kalakaran ng kalikasan ng mga nangako: ito na raw ang katuparan ng kalayaan ng mga naggiit: ito na raw ang mukha ng kabihasnan 1
ng mga nagmalaki: ito na raw ang katapusan ng kasaysayan
ryan gabriel b. suarez
sa inyo na ang korona hanggang dasal na lang ba ang maiaalay ng mga berdugong nagmamarunong, nagbabalatkayo habang nakaupo sa kanilang mga palasyo? oda sa wala ang pagluha, ang paghintay ng dakilang himala— tanging liligtas sa ating bansa. katulad ni pontio pilato, idinaraan na lamang sa paghuhugas ng kamay— sapagkat hindi sila ang may sala kung mayroon mang mahawa. mas malala pang sakuna ang pananalasa ng mga naghahari at nagrereyna— tinatakpan ang mga labi ng karatula at nilalason ang tinubuang lupa.
amiana joy s. saguid
tira-tira ng tinola tumilaok na ang manok at ang almusal ko'y alikabok na may sarsa ng samu't saring babala ng kamatayang sasapitin sabi na nga ba't hindi ito pasaring uupo na sana ako sa may hapag para matikman ko ang tanghalian ngunit napagtantong baka lumabag ito sa loob ng mga makapangyarihan sisikmurain ko muna at agad na patatahimikin kung maaabutan ko man ang mumo sa wakas ng hapunan, gagalugarin ang paanan ng mga panauhin para lamang sa iilang butil ng puting kanin sino nga bang mas masahol pa sa taong nagbigay ng buto sa akin?
lars michaelsen v. salamante
sipi mula sa 2039* e-Dulang may Tatlong Yugto Halaw mula sa Nineteen Eighty-Four ni George Orwell [BABALA/PAALALA: Mayroong pagbanggit ang dulang ito ng maseselang paksa, katulad ng pisikal na pang-aabuso at sikolohikal na tortyur. Ipinapayo ang diskresyon ng mambabasa.] mga tauhan winston – Lalaking nasa early 30s. julia – Babaeng 19 taong gulang. kumander ong – Singkit na nasa late 40s. pecson – Nasa early 30s. tagpo Sa Himpapawid (Cloud)
* Itinanghal ang “2039” ng Tanghalang Ateneo mula Enero hanggang Mayo 2021 sa direksyon ni Kyle Tan. Nagsiganap sina Ethan Manalo bilang Winston, Angela Lanuza bilang Julia, Aric Mamonluk bilang Kumander Ong, at Mikaela Regis bilang Pecson.
Buod Dalawang dekada mula sa kasalukuyan, tuluyan nang nasupil ang kalayaan na maglahad ng anumang kairingan sa partido mula sa ilalim ng mga mata ni “Tatay.” Sa isang hindi natatanging umaga ni Winston Santos, pag-aalabin ng karunungan ng paglaho ng isa sa kanyang mga ka-opisina ang matagal na niyang nagniningas na mga agam-agam—na magliliyab lamang sa pagdating ng isang babaeng dadagundong sa gitna ng kanyang mundo ng ligalig. Habulang pusa’t daga naman ang magiging tanging paraan para kina Winston at Julia upang takasan ang kapalaran ng kanilang piniling paghihimagsik. Sa lunggang kanilang natagpuan, pansamantala silang makikilahok laban sa paglimot at kapwa mamamanata sa piling ng pangangamba. Ngunit sa habulang-seryeng ito, nagbabadya ang mga bitag sa bawat sulok; at kung ang wangis ng kanilang pag-ibig ay isang laro, oras lamang ang makapagdidikta kung sino ang matatalo. Sa loob ng Silid Ciento Uno, mamumutawi ang mga bangungot—nakapikit man o nakadilat ang mga mata. Sa kamay ni Kumander Ong, hindi lamang mistulang tutungkabin ang langib ng mga sugat ni Winston gamit ang iba’t ibang paraan ng tortyur, kundi sasariwain pa ito at pagduruguin ng kanyang pangungulila. Lalabo nang lalabo ang malinaw na pagitan ng tama at mali sa harap ng kanyang huling hantungan, at dito siya maninindigan kung tutuldukan ba niya o hindi itong kwento ng kanyang kamalayan.
IKATLONG YUGTO FADE IN ON: An imposing image of TATAY. Clock ticking, stops, echoes. Unang Eksena. boses
Santos. ANG MGA MATA. CUT TO:
WINSTON opens his eyes, replacing the face of TATAY. He scans the room. A low-ceilinged seclusion room. Eerily devoid of the bustle seen in previous episodes. A metal door opens. Battered PECSON is thrown in by force. pecson
Kakatwa. Di ko akalain... ikaw rin.
Just the quiet drip of water weeping through concrete. winston
Ano ginawa mo?
(laughing through the tears) Di ko rin mismo alam.
Hindi! Di naman nila ako dadalhin sa Silid Ciento Uno. Wala akong ginawang masama.
PECSON paces in place.
Di naman nila ‘ko babarilin. ‘No, Santos? (cries) Alam kong mapakikinabangan naman ako kahit isabak pa nila ‘ko sa gyera.
SILID CIENTO UNO.
The sound of metal door opening. pecson Hindeee! (calms down) Pakiusap. Di n’yo ‘ko kailangang dalhin don. Wala akong hindi aaminin. Wala. Sinabi ko na lahat. Ano pa bang kailangan niyong malaman ko? (points at Winston) SIYA. Hindi ako’ng kailangan niyo, SIYAAAA! He exits voluntarily, slowly. Heavy footsteps, to unveil... winston
(utter disbelief) Nahuli ka rin?
kumander ong Matagal na. (beat) Alam mong mangyayari ‘to, Winston. Huwag mo nang linlangin sarili mo. Ni minsan di ‘to umalis sa isipan mo. ON WINSTON: Just like that, all cards are on the table. DISSOLVE TO: Ikalawang Eksena. A rough hand runs a pair of electric clippers over Winston’s head. Huge sheaves of hair fall to the ground. MONTAGE: Physical torture methods used during Martial Law inflicted on Winston.
A. WINSTON lies between two beds. Each time his body falls, he is beaten. B. WINSTON’S head is submerged in a pail of water. C. Electric wires are attached to WINSTON’S fingers, arms, and head. kumander ong (v.o.) Alam mo ba kung nasan ka, Winston? winston (v.o.) Hindi. (beat) Hula lang. Sangay ng Paggiliw. kumander ong (v.o.) Alam mo ba kung gaano katagal ka na rito? winston (v.o.) Hindi. (beat) Linggo? Buwan? kumander ong (v.o.) Alam mo ba kung BAKIT ka naririto? CUT TO: Ikatlong Eksena. WINSTON lies on the hard table, unmoving. He blinks when he hears something. kumander ong (cont’d) Para gamutin ka. Para PATINUIN ka. Button pushed: ELECTRIC SHOCK. WINSTON shrieks in pain.
kumander ong Tandaan mo na sa itatagal nitong pag-uusap, nasa kapangyarihan kong parusahan ka kung gaano at kailan ko gusto. (beat) Alam mo mismo sa sarili mo, Winston, kung anong mali sa’yo. Matagal mo nang alam, ngunit pilit mo lang tinatakasan. NAHIHIBANG KA. Di mo sinubukang isalba ang sarili mo dahil di mo rin naman gusto. Kaunting sikap lang, Winston... pero hindi ka handa para gawin. WINSTON sobs, gasps for air. kumander ong Natatandaan mo ba nang sinulat mo sa’yong munting kwaderno: “Ang kalayaan ay ang kalayaang sabihing dalawa at dalawa ay apat”? winston
KUMANDER ONG raises four fingers. kumander ong Bilangin mo. Ilan ‘tong nasa kamay ko? winston
kumander ong At kung sabihin ng Partido na ito’y hindi apat, kundi lima. Ilan na ito ngayon? winston
ELECTRIC SHOCK. WINSTON in pain.
kumander ong Walang bisa ‘yan. Nagsisinungaling ka. (beat) Ilang mga daliri? winston A—apat. (beat) May iba pa ba? LIMA, o kung anumang gusto mo. Basta itigil mo lang. Masakit. (sobs) Pano ko pipigilan nakikita ko kung mismong nasa harap na ng mga mata ko? Dalawa at dalawa ay apat. kumander ong Minsan, Winston. Minsan ito’y lima, minsan ito’y tatlo. Minsan, pare-pareho silang tama. (beat) Ni ang nakaraan man, o ang kasalukuyan, maging ang hinaharap... ay umiiral sa sarili nitong katwiran. Ang realidad ay wala sa utak ng tao, na nagkakamali at madaling maglaho. Ito’y nasa utak ng Partido, na kolektibo at walang... kamatayan. (beat) Isa pa. winston
ELECTRIC SHOCK. WINSTON bristles in mute terror of a world he cannot understand. Shivering. kumander ong Ilan, Winston? winston
Apat. Pa—palagay ko’y apat. Sinubukan ko talaga. Sana kaya ko...
kumander ong Alin? Na mapaniwala mo ‘kong lima talaga nakikita mo, o ang MAKITA talaga ito?
Na makita talaga.
ELECTRIC SHOCK. The world blurs. kumander ong Ulit. Ilan? winston
(wailing) Hi—hindi ko alaaam!
kumander ong Mabuti. An electric wire is attached to WINSTON’S temples. kumander ong Ngayon... ilapat mo ang mga mata mo sa’kin. FINAL SHOCK OF ELECTRICITY. We are transported into WINSTON’S fried consciousness. DISSOLVE TO: Ikaapat Eksena. The view from a rice field. WINSTON and KUMANDER ONG sit on the grass, gently swaying in fictional breeze. kumander ong Kaya mo na ba bilangin kung ilan ‘to ngayon? winston
kumander ong Nakikita mo naman, kahit papaano, na ito nga’y posible? winston
Mahal kita. CUT TO:
The face of JULIA from his memory. julia
Mahal din kita.
GUNSHOT. Reveal: Julia, bloody. winston
Julia? Julia, mahal. Juliaaaaaa!
Ikalimang Eksena. CUT BACK TO: The low-ceilinged dirty white seclusion room. winston (unconscious, but eyes open) Julia. Julia. Julia. Julia. Julia— A voice. KUMANDER ONG replaces the image of TATAY on screen. kumander ong Tayô . (beat) TUWID. WINSTON’S broken body manages to respond as he forces it to rise. Image fades back to TATAY. KUMANDER ONG emerges, in the flesh. WINSTON, still dazed. 13
kumander ong Magtapat ka sa’kin, Winston. (beat) Ano ang tunay mong nararamdaman para kay Tatay? winston
kumander ong Hindi na sapat ang pagsunod lang, kailangang mahalin mo rin siya nang lubos. winston
kumander ong At bakit naman? winston
May bubuwal sa inyo. Anuman. Sinoman.
kumander ong Kontrolodo namin ang tao sa lahat ng antas. O baka naman... pinipilit mo pa rin ‘yang laos mo nang ideya na kayang magkaisa ng masa. Maigi pang kalimutan mo na ‘yan. winston (seeing the pieces fit) Basta. Di kayo magtatagumpay. Anupaman. May anumang diwa na di ninyo madadaig. kumander ong At anong prinsipyo ito? Itong “diwa” ng tao... kung maituturing mo pa rin ngang “tao” ang sarili mo? winston
kumander ong Kung tao ka, ikaw na lang natitira. They face a very dusty mirror. kumander ong Tignan mo sarili mo. Nabubulok ka na. ‘Yan na ang huli at kaisa-isang tao sa mundo. Kung tao ka, ‘YAN ang sangkatauhan. Di na rin tatagal pa. Pwede mo rin naman itong... takasan kung pipiliin mo. Sa’yo nakasalalay. winston
Ikaw. Ikaw ang humamak sa’kin.
kumander ong Hinde, Winston. IKAW. winston
Kailan niyo ba ‘ko babarilin ha?
kumander ong Nako. ‘Wag kang mag-alala. Hindi ka namin babarilin. Iba-ibang parusa ang nakalaan sa bawat isa. Pwedeng paglibing ng buhay, o pagputol ng bayag, ngunit para sa’yo... Squeaking and hissing of rats. winston
Hindeeee! Hinde! Ano ba gusto niyong gawin ko?!
kumander ong Gawin mo ang inaasahan sa’yo. winston
Ano? Sabihin niyo! ANO? (beat) Pakiusap.
CUT TO: JULIA is beside KUMANDER ONG. Watching it happen. Knows why it is happening. A hallucination. winston
A wave of nausea rocks WINSTON. The crushing realization slowly taking root, eating away his soul. winston Sa kanya n’yo gawin! Gawin niyo kay Julia! Kay Julia, basta ‘wag sa’kin. GAWIN NIYO KAY JULIAAAAA! This will echo, until we... CUT TO: Ikaanim na Eksena. A busy crowd rushing to beat the curfew hour. WINSTON sights a battered JULIA. He follows her until they reach a place away from any surveillance.Then, she finally acknowledges him. julia
winston Kamusta? A moment, staring at the horizon. At once, it becomes embarrassing to stand there in silence. julia
JULIA looks at him. A moment.
Trinaydor din kita.
Kailangan ko nang umalis. (beat) Magkita tayo muli.
WINSTON fights the urge, can’t help but finally look her in the eyes. Instantly with longing. winston
A moment between their eyes. Then, WINSTON looks away again. winston
Magkita tayo muli.
JULIA leaves. WINSTON’S eyes water into oblivion. FADE TO BLACK.
paolo miguel g. tiausas
Where Are You From? Nagtataas at nakakapagpataas-balahibo ang boses ng manong na nagtatanong tungkol sa tila bawas na ulam sa takeout. Binubugbog ng kaniyang dila ang hiram na Ingles habang abala sa paghalungkat ng resibo ang supervisor ng restaurant. Matamlay ang mga ulap sa mga siwang ng karatig na gusali. Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Yes, sir I’m trying to find it po right now sir kasi ilang siglo nang sinasakal ng utos itong pakikipagtuos sa lakas at tibay, ang baritone at bass, parang paghuhukay ng sariling paghihimlayan sa tuwing nakabinbin ang sagot na kundi talim ay may kapares na talas ng pagtataray, bakit, teka, sino ka ba? Sa sibilisadong eskinita nakatulala ang mga banyagang naghahanap at nag-aabang ng asawa, iisa lamang ang koro at pambungad: hey, where are you from? At paano kung Marikina, Pasig, Marinduque, at Bataan? Paano kung Parañaque, Taguig, Novaliches, Baguio, Caloocan, at kung sa itim na ilog may kuweba at sa kuweba may pabrika
at sa pabrika may silid at sa silid may napakalumang aparador, masasalansan mo ba kung alin ang aklat sa alikabok sa agimat? Sa di nabuklat na kasaysayan, nagsilipad ang mga plato’t platito sa mukha ng abusado. Binasag ang bote ng hot sauce at toyo, pinagwiwisik ang gisang bawang, ginawang ulap ang paminta, pinalayas ang maligno sa hapag-kainan. Subalit nagdidilim na at may banyagang sagot ang banyagang tanong. Hindi kulang ang ulam. Sadyang may gana lamang ang laging gutom.
jerome allen agpalza
TITE (or how to live my life as per Joey De Leon) When I retire, I wish to get my SS full. Para worth it ang hulog and all the OTs I endure. I will travel as far as wide as America, to Amsterdam where there’s ganja, to Italy where there’s pizza, I have never rode a plane, or have I been to NAIA. For now, I’m a good employee of a BPO Company. I ride the MRT-3, everyday to Makati. Konti na lang and I’ll be TL (dahil trip ako ng OM) But I always keep my head down coz I’ll never be fluent. Bukas, kinsenas na naman. Ang 20 kong basic, always pang kinakaltasan: kapos tong pantustos buwan-buwan to my mother, my father, my sister, and her son. I wonder what it’s like, on the other side, 20
in the home of this CX. I wonder how it feels like to say I fly United, I wonder what it’s like to live in Maine, maging irate, to not care what I say, for once, I wouldn’t know. In the Philippines, where I live, it never snows.
iago b. guballa
Balay Dolor characters fr. mario moran – 30s. A priest left in charge of Balay Dolor. marco – 30s. A career criminal. Mario’s brother. sebastian – 18. A ward of Balay Dolor. Homosexual. jude – 16. A ward of BD. A sociopath. isaac – 14. A ward of BD. Bound in a straightjacket.
time 1986, but regressive.
place Balay Ng Kalunos-lunos na Doloroso, a reformatory school for boys secluded within a mountain range. [content warning: This play contains themes of incest, sex, child abuse, homophobia, violence, self-harm, and gore. Viewer discretion is advised.]
*Staged online in three parts as part of Bahay Tanghalan: TA Online Festival in September 2020
ANG NAGNININGAS NA PALUMPONG - Isang Pambungad Balay Dolor’s courtyard. Sundown. 3 boys - SEBASTIAN, JUDE, and ISAAC, all in uniform, sit kneeling into an individual pile of salt. Each has a bible in front of him, with ISAAC, who is bound in a straightjacket, having the only open bible. Behind them is a weathered sign, with letters fallen out that reads “Balay Ng Kalunos-Lunos Na Doloroso: Tahanan ng Mga Binatang Nalingid Sa Diyos.” SEBASTIAN & JUDE are each reading their own material - SEBASTIAN is flipping through a worn issue of Playgirl, tilting it sideways every few pages to better see the centerfolds, and JUDE is editing his copy of The Bible. isaac
Gaano pa katagal?
Nagdudugo ka na ba?
(checking his knee) Di pa.
Silence. JUDE abruptly puts his book down. jude
(to ISAAC) Magbasa ka na nga ulit.
(bending down to read his bible) Sige. “Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the forest skin of her son, and cast it at his feet —
Hindi — forest skin?
(looking over to ISAAC’S bible) Foreskin.
Yung ano, balat mo dito.
(showing a centerfold from his magazine to JUDE) Bagay ba kami?
(points to his forehead) Fore-head kasi.
SEBASTIAN strikes a pose. JUDE looks at the page, then SEBASTIAN, then the page, then SEBASTIAN. jude
Ikaw ang ‘despair’ sa ‘desperado’.
sebastian Alam mo– Alam mo, isa lang ang pinagdadasalan ko. Silence tuwing gabi. Na isang hatinggabi, may dadating na isang NPA, mabangis at mabuhok at kamukha ni… ni FPJ siguro. O yung si, nasa “Insiang,” si ano… basta. Gwapo. Babarilin niya kayong dalawa, tapos si Fr. Padrino at si Fr. Moran, pero… pagdating niya sa harap ng kama ko… bibitawan niya ang kanyang baril, at ilalabas niya ang martilyo at karit ng pagka-komunista niya at sasalpukin niya ako hanggang sumabog ako parang bomba sa labas ng Malacañang. A beat. 24
Kahit “Oo” lang sinabi mo, sapat na iyon. Kaya nga nandito tayo ngayon eh.
sebastian Kung magsalita ka, parang di ka pa tumatakas dito tas nahuli. jude
Oo. Lumuwas ako. Kasi pinlano ko. Di ako lumuwas dahil lang di ko na matiis yung libog ko para kay —
Huwag ka nga! Di mo ako maiintindihan kasi siguro, wala kang tite.
Wala akong titeng bakla.
SEBASTIAN slaps JUDE with his magazine. JUDE slaps him back, unbothered. SEBASTIAN tackles JUDE, and he retaliates. SEBASTIAN & JUDE get into a small catfight. It comes to an abrupt stop when JUDE pulls out a knife. isaac
Huy! Pabalik na sina Father.
SEBASTIAN & JUDE quickly snap back into place over their salt piles, stuffing their book, magazine, & knife into their shorts. A beat. They remember to turn their bibles open. FR. MARIO MORAN enters, MARIO puts a letter on SEBASTIAN’S head. mario Sebastian, tapos ka na rito. At sana may natutunan ka.
MARIO exits. SEBASTIAN stands up, wincing, and follows. He flips
the other two off, then exits. Silence. JUDE sighs, then takes his knife out and lightly cuts both of his knees, unbothered, then stands up to exit.
(flatly) Father, dumudugo na po ako.
JUDE exits. Thunder cracks. ISAAC looks up at the sky.
isaac Nandiyan ka ba, Lord? Si Isaac ‘to. Alam niyo naman ang gusto ko. Kunin mo na ako. Isang kidlat lang, tapos na. A short silence. A light flashes, coming from the side of the stage opposite from where the rest exited, followed by the sound of a car skidding, then crashing into a tree. The light & sound of a fire crackling coming from just offstage follows. isaac
Mas asintado po sana, Lord.
MARCO enters, dragging a duffel bag behind him while sporting a headwound & ripped pant leg, blood flowing from that leg’s knee. Thunder cracks. MARCO looks around, disoriented, until he locks onto Isaac. marco
ISAAC nods. MARCO nods back, and begins to stagger towards the other end of the stage, but collapses halfway there. Silence. MARIO enters. MARIO sees the car crash & burning tree across the stage. He is 26
stunned. isaac May mama po diyan, father. Nasugatan ata yung foreskin niya. mario
MARIO spots, then rushes over to MARCO. mario
Kilala mo siya, father?
A beat. mario
A short silence. MARIO kicks MARCO’S unconscious body in the crotch. MARCO awakens in pain, but his scream is muffled by the sound of loud, foreboding choral music abruptly playing. It begins to rain. DUGO - Isang Udyok An unused classroom in Balay Dolor. Night. It’s raining outside. MARCO lies on a table, bandaged, pillows under his head and leg. MARIO watches him, FR. PADRINO beside him. He walks over to MARCO, looks at him contemplatively, then picks up the rosary around his neck. He slowly tightens his grip on the rosary, turning it into a chokehold. Thunder strikes. He lets go of the rosary and backs away from MARCO.
(looking up) Pasensiya na. Alam mo naman.
A moment passes. MARIO approaches him once again. He takes one of the pillows and holds it slightly above his face, tense. He looks behind him and sees FR. PADRINO. He walks over to FR. PADRINO’S wheelchair and turns it to make him face away from MARCO. He returns to MARCO and proceeds with attempting to smother him. MARIO presses down, changing his position until the rosary around his neck swings into view. He stops. He casts the pillow aside and leans over MARCO. He touches MARCO’S face for a moment, then pinches his nose shut. MARCO wakes up, gasping for air. MARIO quickly puts his hand over MARCO’S mouth. mario
Makinig ka. Gagaling yang binti mo paglipas ng siyam na araw. Aalis ka sa pampito. Kukumpunihin mo ang kotse mo at babalik ka sa putahan sa Olongapo na iniwan mo para manggulo rito at magpakaputa ka ro’n hanggang sa mabawi sa iyo yang sinayang mong buhay.
He takes his hand off his mouth and rushes over to FR. PADRINO’S wheelchair, ready to exit. marco
MARIO stops. marco
Hindi ako puta. Bugaw na ako, akalain mo.
MARIO quickly exits the room in frustration, FR. PADRINO in tow, then parks him aside. The sound of rain grows louder, signaling that he’s stepped outside. He begins to take a lighter and cigarettes out of his pocket, then notices the rain. He holds his hand out. 28
Rain drips on it, blood red. He wipes his hand off, then continues to light a cigarette. mario (to the sky) Sadista ka talaga minsan. PALAKA - Isang Talinghaga Balay Dolor’s dining room. Night. Everyone sits at the table, with the brothers on each end. ISAAC is sitting closest to MARIO and has his straightjacket off, hanging on his seat. SEBASTIAN sits close to MARCO. Silence. mario
(to JUDE) Baboy ba ito?
Nakita mo ba yung mga palakang pakalat-kalat sa likod kaninang umaga, Father?
MARIO nods. jude
Pinagpala tayo ng Diyos, Father.
MARIO and SEBASTIAN realize what he’s saying & stop eating. A short silence. MARIO clears his throat, and prepares to speak, as if to a congregation. mario Ako na ang magsasabi. Ito si Marco, kapatid ko. Pinalaki kami rito, noong bahay-ampunan pa ang Balay. Mabuti na dumating siya ngayong tayo-tayo na lang, dahil gusto ko siyang ipakilala sa inyo bilang larawan ng isang taong tumalikod sa disiplina ng Balay. Halimbawa—ano ba ulit ang mga naging trabaho mo pag-alis mo rito, Marco? marco
Wala. Sa mata ng batas, ako’y hamak lang na tambay. 29
Isang hamak na magnanakaw. Dorogista. Arsonista. Puta— Puto? Puta. Na naging bugaw, ipinagmalaki mo nga kagabi. Ano pa ba? Manggagahasa?
Wala namang humihindi sa ‘kin.
I don’t kiss and tell.
SEBASTIAN, curious, reaches for MARCO’S rosary (now hanging from his waist) under the table and begins to fondle it. MARCO feels this as if something else is being played with. mario
Gayunman. Maganda na rin na bumalik ka. Bihirang dumalaw sa Balay ang kanyang mga alumni. At isang gaya nito na sagisag ng pagka-balahura sa mundo. Isa siya sa mga dahilan kung bakit naging reformatory school ang institusyong ito. Alala mo yung sinabi ni Fr. Padrino? Ulitin mo nga, Father.
Silence. mario mario
Oo! Isipin niyo: ganyan kabigat ang kanyang mga sala— isang kanlungan , ginawang kulungan para sa mga kauri niya. Ninyo. Dapat nga siyang pasalamatan. Dahil sa kanya, nasa tamang landas na kayo, palapit sa Panginoon. Palakpakan!
MARIO begins to clap, persistently, until the boys join in. A beat of clapping, then MARCO joins. marco
(clapping) Isang napakahusay na sermon, Father.
Dati pa ba siyang ganyan?
Kung alam niyo lang.
Ba’t ka nandito?
(boldly) Bumalik ako upang mapalaya ang aking mga kauri. Iyan ba ang gusto mong sabihin ko, Mario? Sa tingin niya, isa akong subersibong balak gibain ang palasyo niyang pagkaganda-ganda! Kung kaya ko nga lang pasabugin sana.
The boys begin to ply MARCO with endless questions about him and the outside world, which he answers, with their conversation growing progressively faster, with the questions overlapping one another. sebastian/ (to MARCO) Magkano kinikita ng isang puta? Sori, jude/isaac Bugaw. /Magkano kinikita ng isang puta? / jude Totoo ba pinatay si Ninoy ng sarili niyang pamilya? / May dala ka bang mga cassette tape? Plaka? Dalawa lang yung nakukuha naming istasyon dito./ Nakisali ka ba sa rebolusyon? / May dala ka bang baril? / Nakulong ka na ba?/ Komunista ka ba? / Anong taon na nga ba ulit? / Mamamatay-tao ka ba? Ok lang kung oo. (Actors can fill in tone/era appropriate questions to achieve the desired length for this segment.) As the questions continue, the sound of frogs croaking begins to play alongside. ISAAC accidentally knocks a spoon off the table. MARIO sighs and reaches down to pick it up, and sees what’s happening underneath across the table (SEBASTIAN’S rosary fondling.) 31
MARIO wipes his mouth and exits in silence. They continue to ply MARCO with questions. MARIO returns, wielding what is either a wooden crucifix the size of a paddle or a wooden paddle shaped like a crucifix, and pins SEBASTIAN down to the center of the table. Both of them go through the motions of what follows. mario
Alam mo ang kasalanan mo?
Opo, Father. Ibinunyag ng mga kamay ko ang kanilang kabaklaan. Kabaklaan ko.
Alam mo ang parusa sa kawalang-hiyaan na iyan?
Tatlong hampas mula sa kanang kamay ng Panginoon. Hanggang maramdaman ko ang tunay na hapdi ng kasalanan ko.
MARIO spanks SEBASTIAN. SEBASTIAN is used to it. sebastian
MARIO spanks SEBASTIAN harder. SEBASTIAN and MARCO’S eyes lock onto one another. The rest continue eating. sebastian
Another spank, then another, followed by another. marco
(to MARIO) Wala talagang nagbabago rito, noh?
KUTO - Isang Panalangin ISAAC, straightjacketed, roams the room in pain from head lice. MARIO’S shadow follows him, as if in an interrogation. As the scene progresses, the itching in ISAAC’S scalp grows stronger, to the point where he begins to scratch his head against any surface he can find. Alongside ISAAC’S lines, MARIO (maybe accompanied by the rest) recite the following verse as a Gregorian chant, repeating it 'til the scene ends: PUTANGINA KANG BATA KA AYAN KASI ANG TIGAS NG ULO MO KUKURUTIN KITA SA TITE BASTOS KA WAG KANG MALIKOT WAG KANG UMIYAK KAKATAYIN KA NAMIN SALAULA KA isaac
Hindi ko sasaktan ang sarili ko, Father. Ang kati-kati ng ulo ko. Alam ko pinapaliguan niyo naman ako, pero baka—baka kasi expired na po yung shampoo, o may dalang kuto si—si Marco, o—o— di ko mapaliwanag, Father. Ngayon lang po ako nagkaroon ng kati-kating ganito, Father. Pakawalan niyo po ako. Hindi ako magpapakamatay, Father. Alam mo naman iyan, diba? Di ko katulad yung mga banong tumambling palabas ng mga bintana rito, Father.
Baka ganitong kati rin ang naramdaman nila. Pero mas malala ang nararamdaman ko ngayon. Hindi ako katulad nila. Matibay na po ang loob ko ngayon. Hindi ko sasaktan ang sarili ko, Father. Please. Ansakit na po. Ang kati. Mas mahapdi pa kesa sa mga kamao ni tatay at kuko ni ‘Nay. Alam ko 33
kasalanan ko yung mga nangyari noon. Pero iba ‘to, Father. Hindi ko ‘to kasalanan. Nagbago na ako mula nang iniwan nila ako rito. Bumuti naman ako, diba?
Hindi ko ‘to kasalanan, Father. Alam ko marami ako niyan, Father. Malikot ako. Tamad. Kasalanan ng ama, ina, lolo, lola, kamay, bibig, kinabukasan ko. Lahat non. Kahit ano, gagawin ko, Father. Anong pawis, dugo, utang ang kailangan kong ibuwis, kakayanin ko po. Para lang makamot ko na.
Mamahalin ko ang sarili ko, Father. Mamahalin ko ang sarili ko kung iyun ang kailangan. Kapag karapat-dapat na akong tao, Father. Pag tapos na ang penitensiya ko. Pag alam ko mabuti na akong tao—maginoo, matuwid, matibay, lahat. Lahat ng kinakailangan ng Balay. Pagkatapos po. Tapusin niyo na po.
ISAAC is in tears. MARIO stops revolving, and walks behind ISAAC. He scratches ISAAC’S scalp, embracing his head in the process. ISAAC looks as if he’s experiencing religious ecstasy. LANGAW - Isang Montage An upbeat pop song from the 1960s (in the vein of He’s A Rebel by The Crystals or You Keep me Hangin’ On by The Supremes) plays throughout the scene. MARIO, MARCO, SEBASTIAN, JUDE, & ISAAC are spread across the stage, each going about their own business, but moving to interact with one another throughout the scene. A. ISAAC is in the center, struggling to read a bible as in the prologue. MARCO is fixing his car, crutch nearby. SEBASTIAN is watching him from a distance, pretending to read something, every once in a while leaving to bother one of the other 34
characters. JUDE is in the kitchen, alternating between cutting meat for a meal and taking up a rifle or his knife and stalking/ miming murdering the other characters. MARIO is in his office, doing some sort of bureaucratic work, frustrated. B. MARCO decides to take a break, and as he crosses the stage, unlatches ISAAC’S straightjacket. ISAAC turns a page of his bible. JUDE pours MARCO a glass of water, spilling some of it on him. MARCO returns to his work. C. MARIO decides to get up and check on the other characters. He latches ISAAC’S straightjacket back into place. He sees SEBASTIAN and drags him elsewhere onstage by the ear. He returns to his office. D. MARCO takes another break and unlatches ISAAC’S straightjacket. He tries to light a cigarette, but drops his lighter, and SEBASTIAN rushes to pick it up and light it for him. E. MARIO latches ISAAC’S straightjacket. He once again drags SEBASTIAN by the ear away from MARCO. The cycle continues for as long as is necessary. Everyone’s business gets progressively repetitive and faster, to the point where SEBASTIAN & JUDE wind up sprinting offstage in frustration. F. As the song climaxes, MARCO & MARIO wind up each pulling on a side of ISAAC’S straightjacket a la Judgment of Solomon, until the straightjacket tears in half. They stare off, then rush to exit to opposite sides of the stage. G. MARIO returns to the stage to drag ISAAC with him, then rushes to exit once again.
KABULUKAN - Isang Parabula The grounds behind Balay Dolor. Afternoon. A bang. JUDE is holding a rifle. FR. PADRINO sits behind him. JUDE squints, looking into the distance, and shakes his head. He readies the gun and stares back. jude
Tinuruan ako ng tatay ko kung paano mangaso, katulad ng ginawa ng lolo ko sa kanya. Sabi ng Lolo ko, “Ang isang hampas-lupang may balak tumakas ay pareho ng isang bakang puro taba at walang gatas —may silbi lang bilang karne.” Oo, ginagawa ito ng Lolo ko sa mga alipin—pasensiya na, sakada nila, at siguro yung tatay ko rin, gaya-gaya. Di sila dinemanda. Ako lang, sa buong kasaysayan ng pamilya namin ang nademanda.
Tatay ko dati, ngayon, Father. Di pinag-iisipan ni Father yung mga ganitong klaseng bagay, noh? Paubos na ang tubig, bigas, lahat, di pa rin siya kikibo. Puro siya sulat, penitensiya, dasal. Kumbento na pala tayo, Father. Alam naman natin nawalan tayo ng titulo ng ‘eskwelahan’ noong umalis silang lahat At kasama pa yung mga ibang pari. Ikaw rin sana raw, pero alam mo naman ikaw, malapit ka nang—
JUDE fires again. He missed, and he’s out of bullets. He puts the gun down. jude
Tagal na pala ng huling kumpisal ko sa inyo.
JUDE sits beside FR. PADRINO as he reloads the rifle. He does the sign of the cross with a bullet in his fingers. 36
jude Patawarin mo po ako, Father. May kasalanan ako. Nangangaso ako. Kasalanan ba iyon? Di ko alam. Baka kasi, yung mga kambing na yan, pagmamay ari pala ng pastol. Thy neighbor’s kambing. Pagnanakaw ba siya kung gipit ka? Oo. Bobong tanong. “Kung mahirap ang ugali ng mga mahirap, hindi ba tamang pahirapan sila?” Isa pang hirit ni ‘Tay.
Baril niyo pala ito. Nakalagay sa plaka diyan, o. Saan niyo to ginamit? Para sa katulad namin? Malamang. Kinuwento samin ni Fr. Luciento ang dati mong… karahasan. Kelan ba kayo nagsimulang manghina, Father? Magkuwento ka naman minsan.
Sige, ako na lang. Ano na nga ba? Tatay ko. Siya rin, mahilig sa mga armas. Riple, balisong, latigo. “Di ka tunay na haciendero kung di ka marunong manlatigo.” Isa rin sa mga sinasabi niya dati. Di naman hacienda yung pinamamahalaan niya. Negosyante. Sinabi lang niya yun para matakot ako. Di naman umubra. Kahit kelan.
Baka tama ngang pinagpala ako ng Diyos. Pag tinitingnan ko ang ibang tao, wala akong nakikita. Hindi kasi ako bulag , Father, ikaw yun. Pag tingin ko sa ibang tao… di ko nakikita ang isang tatay na dapat katakutan , o Father na dapat respetuhin , o kaibigan... nanay, tiyuhin, kapatid, lahat sila iniwan ko sa loob noong nagkasunog. Patawad. Sinunog pala... noong sinunog ko ang bahay. Mas maganda naman ang bahay, Balay kung saan ako napunta. Mas tahimik. Mas nakakainip, pero mas mapayapa.
He snaps out of nostalgia, and looks back to the distance in front of the gun, and gets ready to fire. jude
Dakdak ako nang dakdak. Dami ko kasing pinagiisipan. Di ko alam kung ganito na ako simula nang pinanganak ako, o kung pinalaki ako ng ganito, pero pag tingin ko sa ibang tao, wala. Walang pakiramdam. Wala lang sila. Tao. Hayop.
He pulls the trigger, focuses on the distance, and makes an affirming look. jude
Karne. Sandali lang ha, Father.
JUDE exits, running in the direction he pointed the gun at. A short silence. JUDE returns, dragging a lamb carcass behind him. He brings his knife out and guts it, then immediately winces at the scent. The sound of flies buzzing. JUDE sighs, puts his weapons down and sits next to FR. PADRINO. jude Buti nga yung mga kamag-anak kong nasunog, di ba Father? Di sila kelanman nakaramdam ng gutom. PIGSA - Isang Himala The confessional booth in BD’s chapel. Night. sebastian
Fr. Moran? Fr. Padrino?
He waits a moment, then clicks the tape recorder on and holds its microphone in his hand. He gets comfortable in the booth. sebastian 38
Di ko na alam kung anong petsa ngayon. Huling diyaryo na dumating... antagal na nun. Dumating
yung sulat ni Martin nung isang araw. Sabi niya, sana maintindihan ko na tapos na ang pinagdaanan naming dalawa. Nagka-nobya raw siya sa probinsya nila. Nobya. May pangarap siyang magpakasal at magkaanak dahil TARANTADO SIYA. Buti pa siya.
Elsewhere onstage/screen, MARIO and JUDE strap ISAAC, unjacketed and shirtless, to a table. ISAAC’S back is covered in boils. sebastian Alam ko sa tingin ng nanay ko, ng parokya, ng… Diyos, isa akong manyak. At hindi man lang manyak na kaya mong galangin, dahil sa uri ko. Para akong puta, bold star, kaladkaring babae, salot sa anyo ng tao. Yung totoo, di nga kalibugan, o kalaswaan ang kasalanan ko. Baka pagiging madamot, o pagiging martir. JUDE brings a rag and a pot of boiling water into the room. MARIO puts a pair of oven mitts on. He soaks the rag as JUDE holds ISAAC down by the waist. Melodramatic music, the kind you’d hear in a radyoserye, begins to play as SEBASTIAN talks.
sebastian Hindi ako katulad ng ibang mga bakla. Di kababalaghan ang nais ko. Ayoko lumangoy sa isang kamang umaapaw ng matipunong katawang bangag sa alak at droga. Ayokong masaing na parang bigas sa loob ng isang bathhouse. Oo, hinuli ako dati sa cinema habang nakikiinom sa Coca-Cola ng mamang ka-edad ng tatay ko. Baka siya nga yun, kung sino man siya. Kahit noon, hindi lang aliw yung hinahanap ko. Dati, pag-ibig. SEBASTIAN laughs. MARIO applies the boiling rag to one of the boils. ISAAC winces in pain. 39
Nagdadrama na ako na parang babae sa radyo. Pareho naman ang gusto namin. Gusto kong ariin ang isang lalaki, o baka ako ang aariin niya. Simple lang diba? Iyan ang gusto ng lahat ng lalaking normal, gawing pagmamay-ari ang isang matapat, mapagmahal na babae. Sa mga pantasya ko… isa sa amin ang asawang naglalakwatsa’t naglulunod sa Pale Pilsen pagkatapos ng trabaho, at ang isa naman ang asawang nasa bahay naghihintay, tas binubugbog pag nasunog ang sinaing.
Iyon lang talaga. Kahit ilang bathhouse, cinema... department store ang kailangan kong galugarin, hahanapin ko siya. Ang lalaking mamahalin, kakalikutin, at papaikutin ako, hangga’t naniniwala na ako na mapapatawad ko ang kahit anong gawin niya. Tunay na pag-ibig iyon, diba? Diba? Ano ulit yung linyang yun?
marco Love means never having to say you’re sorry. The music stops. sebastian
ISAAC lets out a screech that overlaps with SEBASTIAN’S line. MARCO has been on the other side of the confessional booth for an unspecified amount of time.
Alam ko ang pinagdadaanan mo. Kaya nga ako bumalik dito. Di mo siya mahahanap, iyang kalaguyong nilarawan mo. Di nagmamahalan ang magkapuwa-lalaki. Hanggang laro lang sila. Ganyan talaga ang buhay. Mas mabuti na ngayon pa lang, tanggap mo na iyan.
MARCO exits his side of the confessional, and opens SEBASTIAN’S. marco
Tanggapin mo na lang ang inaalok nila, namnamin mo, tapos kalimutan. Iyan na ang pinakamalapit sa pag-ibig mong hinahanap.
He unzips his pants. SEBASTIAN nods in defeat, then kneels, and closes his eyes. As he takes the rosary around MARCO’S waist and strokes, he recites the prayer below, then starts to put it in his mouth suggestively. sebastian
Aba Ginoong Maria, napupuno ka ng grasya. Ang Panginoong Diyos ay sumasainyo. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgi—
Anlaki niya, Father. Sasabog na iyan.
Alam ko. Bilis, kumuha ka ng trapo, twalya, kahit ano, baka matalsikan tayo.
JUDE rushes offstage. ISAAC begins audibly wincing in pain. MARIO continues to hold the rag over ISAAC’S back but sees increasing signs of an imminent burst. mario Jude? Jude! JUDE!
JUDE returns just as the boil on ISAAC’S back pops, squirting pus on him & MARIO. He screams in pain, interspersed with MARCO letting out a climactic moan. SEBASTIAN disengages, crawling away from MARCO. He spits the beads of the rosary out on the floor, then lies on his back, gasping for air, used rather than satisfied. APOY AT YELO - Isang Paghahayag MARIO’S office in Balay Dolor. Night. MARIO is at his desk, writing a letter. ISAAC sits next to him, his upper body now bound with rope instead of a straightjacket. MARIO finishes writing the letter, folding it, and putting it into an envelope. He presents the envelope for ISAAC to lick and seal. Scoring the scene is the sound of hail & fire raining from the sky, which at times sounds like hard rain. MARCO enters, limping but no longer in need of a crutch. marco
May bagyo pala ngayon.
At may firefight sa mga katabing bundok siguro. Dinig na dinig ang barilan dito.
marco Mukhang bukas na umaga pa ako aalis. MARIO signals to ISAAC that he’s dismissed, and he exits. mario
Nagpaalam ka pa. Masyado kang maginoo minsan.
Ayos na ang kotse ko. Naka-empake na ako.
MARCO begins to walk away, then motions to close the door of MARIO’S office while he’s still in it. 42
Samahan mo ako.
MARIO sighs. The sound of the hail & fire hitting nearby ground. marco
O kaya palayain mo na lang yung tatlong yun.
mario Tapos ano? Magtatanan tayo, pagugulungin si Fr. Padrino pababa ng bundok, at gagawin nating isang malaking massage parlor ang Balay? marco
Pwede. Iyan o kahit ano.
mario Hindi mo ako naiintindihan. Tama lang, di naman kita gustong maunawaan. May tungkulin ako sa tatlong yun. Elsewhere onstage, SEBASTIAN burns the letter he’s been agonizing over. marco
Kung tungkulin ang pang-aapi sa kanila, maniwala ka, marami silang mahahanap na mag-aalaga ng pangangailangan nila sa baba ng bundok na ‘to.
Hindi nga. Gusto mo bang pakawalan ang mga iyan para dungisan ang mga inosente, ang mga tao sa dating buhay nila na nagbayad ng pera para maalagaan sila rito? Babalik sila sa dati. Hindi pa tapos ang trabaho ng Balay.
In the dark, JUDE opens a refrigerator. It’s empty. He sits in front of its light. marco
Ano bang klaseng tao sila dapat maging? Yung
ibang kasama natin dati — ilan sa kanila, naging matino ng ilang taon tapos nagpakamatay! At yung iba naman, sila yung sinasabi mong dumudungis sa mga inosente. Mga nang-aabuso sa asawa, mga bata... mga negosyante, trapo, kriminal at yung pinakamadungis sa lahat — mga tatay, mga pari.
ISAAC lies on the floor, still bound with rope, struggling to break out of his restraints. The rope begins to come undone. mario
Ayon sa dalubhasa ng dungis mismo.
Oo. Tingnan mo nga tayong dalawa.
Sa tingin mo ba, magkatulad tayo?
Oo. Marami akong nagawang marumi, pero di ako naninira ng mga bata.
A beat. SEBASTIAN begins to pack a bag, in a rush. mario
Siraulo ka na talaga.
marco Dati pa. MARIO slams his hands on his desk then throws his bible at MARCO. marco
At mukhang hindi lang ako.
Umalis ka na nga! Ba’t ka pa ba nandito? Ba’t ka ba dumalaw dito? Family reunion?
Sana nga magkapatid lang tayo. Hindi sana natin maintindihan ang ganitong…tindi. Pero mas ma-
talik pa tayo kesa sa simpleng mag-kuya, di ba?
Anong—Anong ibig mong sabihin?
Katotohanan ito. Kaya nga bumalik ako. Alam kong alam mo. Gusto mo lang marinig.
Hinde! Manahimik ka.
MARCO sweeps everything off of MARIO’S desk in one stroke. He leans over it in front of him. marco
Simulan na natin ulit. Sige na. Alam kong sabik na sabik kang gawin.
Suntukin mo ako. Gawin mo na. Sarap na sarap ka diyan dati, di ba?
mario Di ako babanat. Di mo ako masasangkot sa kalapastangan mong— MARCO pushes MARIO backwards. A beat. MARIO punches MARCO in the face. A short silence. MARCO’S grimace contorts into a smile. marco
A beat. The two begin laughing. MARIO strikes MARCO again, and MARCO begins to take his clothes off. MARIO begins to do the same as he reaches for the crucifix-paddle. MARCO bends over, and MARIO spanks him, his reaction making pain and pleasure
indistinguishable. He grabs MARIO, and they switch positions, MARCO spanking this time. They switch places again and again & faster and faster, to the point that they wind up playing tug-ofwar with the paddle, moaning and grunting accordingly as they struggle over it. The lights shift to the other side of the stage, where FR. PADRINO in his chair is staring directly into the brothers’ entanglement. FR. PADRINO suddenly slumps off the chair, dead. BALANG - Isang Sagupaan Balay Dolor’s dining room. Morning. A swarm of locusts buzzes outside. FR. PADRINO’S body lies on the table, on top of one sheet and covered by another. ISAAC’S jacket and the rope that replaced it are now gone, revealing arms covered with many old scars. JUDE and ISAAC are sewing the sheets together. JUDE is having breakfast as he works. isaac
Nangangamoy na siya.
Matagal pang kukuyog iyang mga bangaw sa labas. Magtiis ka muna. Malapit na tayong matapos. Sawa na ako.
Sabi ko nga malapit na —
Sawa na ako rito.
Sa tingin mo ba ikaw lang?
SEBASTIAN enters, packed bags in hand and the rifle on his back.
He puts the bags down. A beat. sebastian
Tatakas kami ni Marco. Pwede kayong sumama kung hindi kayo magulo. Ngayon na.
Paano si Father?
SEBASTIAN swings the gun into his hands. sebastian
Di tayo aabalahin ni Father. O ano?
ISAAC & JUDE look at one another. Jump cut to: the exact same shot, but with ISAAC & JUDE having packed bags next to them. sebastian
Sige. Teka. Anong nangyari kay Fr. Padrino?
Nahanap namin kanina. Patay.
...sigurado ba kayo na di lang siya natutulog?
sebastian Bayaan niyo na siyang mabulok. Hanapin ko lang si Marco. SEBASTIAN exits. JUDE and ISAAC cut their threads and toss FR. PADRINO onto the floor. jude
Sabi dati ni Father na mamamatay siya bago niyang makitang gumuho ang Balay. Bago yung huli niyang stroke. O baka yung panlabing-apat na stroke yun. Basta, bandang dulo. Tama naman yung sinabi niya. Naisip ko dati na baka mananatili lang ako rito hanggang maging katulad niya. Pero sawa na ako. Walang na akong magagawa rito. Walang nang 47
makakain, wala nang nangyayari.
Gunshots are heard. The sound of MARIO and MARCO screaming follows, accompanied by the sound of footsteps and someone falling down a flight of stairs. MARIO and MARCO enter, half-naked. MARIO’S hands have been shot through, each with a stigmata-like wound on its palm. SEBASTIAN enters, gun in hand, as MARIO screams in pain. sebastian
ANO YUN? ANO YUN! ANO YUN!!!
SEBASTIAN! Bitawan mo ang baril!
SEBASTIAN fires into the air. All but JUDE are rattled, with MARIO noticing FR. PADRINO’S corpse while backing up. sebastian
O ANO? BABARILIN MO AKO?
mario SEBASTIAN! TAMA NA! ANONG NANGYAYARI DITO? jude
Nahanap naming patay si Father. Nilalangaw.
Sa wakas. / ANO? FATHER!
MARIO begins to sob over FR. PADRINO, clutching the sheets, then remembers his hands have been shot through and goes back to moaning in pain. sebastian Nahanap kong nakahubad at nakayakap silang dalawa. Ginawa niyo ba lahat ng sinabi mong karahasang pambakla? Chupa? Tagos? Lengua? Halik? Pagmamahal?
Sebastian, baka… baka mali ang intindi mo sa mga nangyari sa atin noong isang araw.
(crying) Nilamon kita parang ostiya. Dinilaan mo ako sa kabilang bunganga ko. Pinasukan mo ako parang kumbento. Anong mali doon? Mahal mo ako, hindi ba?
Di mo ako pinakinggan noong isang gabi. Pero nagsinungaling din ako sayo. Na di kaya magmahal ang lalaki. Pero hindi kita mahal. Isa lang ang minahal ko, simula pa noong bata ako.
MARCO looks tenderly at MARIO, who is still writhing in agony and crying over FR. PADRINO. All three boys grimace in disgust. jude
Ako na lang ba ang hindi bakla sa bahay na ‘to?
Kung ganito ang pagiging bakla, ayoko rin.
sebastian Seryosohin niyo to! Ipokrito si Father. Lahat ng asin, hampas, pagbabawal, penitensiyang pinataw niya, dapat din gawin sa kanya. Isa siyang bakla, baliw, sinungaling. isaac Pero hindi—Pari si father, hindi siya—Di pwede na — Ibig mo bang sabihin na—Pero hindi—Lahat ng ginawa niya—Yung asin —Pagbabawal sakin— Yung dalawang taon ng—Buong panahon na iyon—Dati pa —Isa siyang—Bulag. Na—Na— isaac Kumakawan, ng mga bulag. ISAAC goes blank & dead silent. He calmly leaves the room. SEBASTIAN, seething, puts the barrel of the gun to the back of
MARIO’S head. He cocks the gun. sebastian
Alam mo ang ginawa mo? Ibinunyag ng bibig mo ang kabaklaan mo. Alam mo ang parusa para sa walang-hiyang palabas na ito?
MARIO is silent. sebastian
Salaula kayong dalawa.
Over the following monologue, rousing, patriotic music plays, as if to accompany a graduation or military conferment. mario
Hindi! Iba… iba ito. Iba kami. Hindi niyo ba nakikita? Lahat tayo, nalingid sa Diyos. Dapat ngayon, mas naiintindihan niyo na kami. Ako. Ang sumpang nilalabanan natin araw-araw. May mali sa anyo nating lahat. Ginawa tayo ng Panginoon na ganito, at ginawa niya iyun dahil alam niya na may kakayahan tayong labanan ang lason sa ating pagkatao. Oo, nadapa ako kagabi. Pero di niyo alam kung paano kami pinalaki. Di niyo alam ang nilabanan ko simula noong bumalik dito si Marco. Nadapa ako, at kung hayaan niyo, babangon uli ako. At kakalabanin ko ang kamandag na nagnanaknak sa loob ng pagkatao ko. Sasamahan niyo ako sa laban na ito, at magkasama tayong —
ISAAC re-enters, screaming, crucifix-paddle in hand, and in a fit of rage, hits MARIO at the back of the head with it. MARIO falls unconscious, and ISAAC continues to beat him, blood splattering onto his face. MARCO begins to wrestle ISAAC off of MARIO. SEBASTIAN aims the gun at MARCO, but after a few seconds, realizes he can’t shoot. He begins to strangle MARCO with the
rifle, and the resulting struggle causes the three to fall to the ground behind the table. JUDE continues to have breakfast. After a short struggle, SEBASTIAN hits MARCO at the back of the head with the rifle. MARCO is rendered unconscious. SEBASTIAN and ISAAC stand up, and the three boys look at one another. jude
Sori. Kinailangan niyo ba ng tulong?
SEBASTIAN takes the paddle from ISAAC and hits MARIO with the paddle. He wipes the blood from his face, then hits MARCO twice. sebastian Tatlong hampas. Mula sa kanang kamay ng Panginoon.
KADILIMAN - Isang Kontemplasyon Darkness. SEBASTIAN, JUDE, and ISAAC, positioned on different parts of the stage, click their flashlights on, positioning them under their faces, as if to tell a scary story. sebastian
Eto. Kalma na ako. Ano na?
Ano pa ba?
I… I-aano ba natin sila?
Ano pa bang pwede nating gawin? Pakawalan sila? Bumalik sa dati?
They think for a moment, then silently agree. They all click their flashlights off. Silence. ISAAC clicks his flashlight on. The other two follow. isaac
Paano natin gagawin?
Oo nga, paano ba?
jude Paano niyo gusto? Mayroon pang bala. Kutsilyo. Yung kotse. isaac
Kung i-aano natin sila, hindi ba magiging mas masahol pa tayo sa kanila?
Nasa isip na nga natin di ba? Masahol na nga tayo.
Tinatakan tayong ‘masahol’ noong pinabayaan tayo ng mga pamilya natin dito. Di na mamarka sa atin ang mantsa ng pagkamamamatay-tao.
A beat. all three
They all click their flashlights off. A moment of silence. ISAAC clicks his flashlight on, and the two follow after he speaks. isaac
Paano kung... wala tayong gawin?
Paano kung… iwanan natin sila, nakatali, at iyun lang? Wala tayong gagawin kundi iyun. Anong magagawa nila? Palayasin tayo? Parusahan? Nasa atin ang baril, kutsilyo, kotse. Wala silang magagawa kundi… maglaho na lang. Umiwas sa atin.
jude Iwanan sila sa kamay ng Diyos. Ganap. Para sa mga katulad nila. sebastian
They all nod in agreement. One by one, the flashlights turn off without a click. sebastian
Alam niyo ba kung saan nakatago ang mga baterya?
PANGANAY - Isang Lamay The following scene plays out like a silent film, with only the foreboding choral music from the end of ANG PALUMPONG NASUNOG playing throughout the scene. The characters mouth the dialogue, but it should not be heard — the dialogue appears on a separate screen after being spoken like in silent films, or as subtitles. MARIO and MARCO, bruised and bloodied, lie unconscious next to one another. They wake up, in pain, and look at one another. They help each other get up. The boys dig a grave for FR. PADRINO, winding up covered in dirt in the process. They carry the body in the sheet and throw it in, then proceed to shovel dirt back into the grave.
MARIO and MARCO stumble through the stage, holding on to one another. At the same time, the boys walk away from the grave and into the dining room of Balay Dolor, where they sit down, weapons in hand. The brothers reach the room. The boys sit at the dinner table, silent. The boys and the brothers lock eyes. The boys break contact and return to their silent vigil. MARIO attempts to approach them, but ISAAC flashes the bloodied crucifix-paddle. He stops. MARCO tries to do the same, but SEBASTIAN places the rifle on the table and cocks it. He stops. MARCO reaches into his pocket for the keys to the car. He can’t find them. JUDE dangles the car keys from his hand. MARCO attempts to approach the boys again, this time furious. JUDE flashes his knife. The brothers glare for a moment, then exit the room. MARIO and MARCO stumble across the stage as a shadow begins to creep over it from one side. They are now outside Balay Dolor. MARIO falls over out of exhaustion, hunger, and pain. MARCO follows suit. They struggle to get into a seated position. MARIO and MARCO look back to Balay Dolor, and notice the shadow approaching as it begins to envelop them in darkness. They see something distant inside the shadow.
Mukhang… kamukha ni Mama.
Hindi. Di siya… di iyan hugis ng babae.
Ah. Si Papa. Papa ko.
Hindi. Tatay ko iyan.
Kelan mo siya huling nakita?
The shadow overtakes the screen, concealing MARIO & MARCO in total darkness. Silence. The darkness begins to dissipate, revealing that MARIO & MARCO have disappeared. 2 identical piles of salt lie where they were. PASKUWA - Isang Katapusan Balay Dolor’s Kitchen. Afternoon. JUDE is sitting down on what used to be FR. PADRINO’S wheelchair, sewing what looks like one of MARIO’S old priest garbs. SEBASTIAN is washing the dishes. They are no longer in uniform. ISAAC enters. isaac
Nasa kotse na lahat ng mga bag. Humupa na rin yung baha sa daan.
JUDE finishes what he’s sewing, cuts the thread, and puts it on. He’s refashioned MARIO’S garb into a shirt/jacket for himself. jude (to SEBASTIAN) Tapos na ako. Ikaw na lang hinihintay. sebastian
Malapit na. Ayos naman ba yung niluto ko?
Pasensiya na. Alam mo naman. Daming asin na natira. May natira pa bang gasolina?
ISAAC nods. sebastian Pakikuha nga. At tapusin mo na para maka-alis na tayo. ISAAC exits. jude
Ba’t ka pa ba naghuhugas? Iiwanan naman natin dito, di ba?
SEBASTIAN drops the dishes, wipes his hands, and sits across from JUDE. sebastian
Mahirap pakawalan pag nasanay. Isipin mo —
Dapat ba tayong umiyak?
ISAAC re-enters, a gasoline container in one hand. isaac
Kinalat ko na sa labas.
Sige. Jude. Paandarin mo na yung kotse.
ISAAC throws JUDE the car keys with his free hand. Before leaving, JUDE stops by the door, spits on his hand and rubs it on the wall. He exits.
ISAAC spills the gasoline all over the table and the room, then sets the container down. isaac
Ikaw na bahala?
ISAAC throws him a box of matches, then begins to exit where JUDE did. He repeats JUDE’S motion of staring then spitting on the wall, then exits. The sound of the car starting in the distance, and its radio turning on as well. A few switches between stations can be heard, then static. SEBASTIAN remains seated by the table. He looks at the part of the wall where the other boys wiped their spit, then to where they exited. sebastian
The car horn honks twice. The radio static continues, before stopping on a station playing Heaven Is A Place on Earth by Belinda Carlisle. SEBASTIAN takes a match out of the box. Another honk. The music continues to play, gradually increasing in volume. SEBASTIAN lights the match, then drops it on the table. Darkness.
Bastardo Hindi ba ito ang inaasam— ang pasukin ng estranghero ang likuran na parang may espadang humihiwa sa laman, hinahalukay ang bituka hanggang matunton ang pinakainiingat-ingatang sityo ng sarap at sakit. Ang sarap at sakit. Walang kahiya-hiya, walang kawala-wala nagtitiwala, sumusunod sa katawang hinahawan ang daan tungo langit — May hitsura ka naman pala, ano. Hindi ka rin talaga makapagpigil, ano. Hindi mo rin maiwasan na angkinin itong karanasan, ano. Walang-wala kang maibibigay
kundi basura, ano. Dahil ikaw ito, lungsod. Ikaw ito na minamanipula kami laban sa aming katawan sa aming sarili at ikaw ang laging nagwawagi, magwawagi sapagkat sa iyo ang kamay na mahigpit ang kapit sa aming bituka panaginip, pighati. Ipinapamukha sa amin na ikaw, ikaw lamang ang kaasam-asam, ikaw ang diyos na magtatawid sa mahaba at malamig na gabi hanggang ikaw ay makaraos ikaw lamang ang nakakaraos samantalang kami, mga mabubuting mamamayan, naiiwan nililinis ang katawan pagkatapos ng dugo, pawis, at dumi.
I fear and I name a big plate and a small chicken leg and slowing down during a game of tag balloon strings slipping to the sky and shadows that hover around night lights and the invisible feet creaking floorboards and the wind behind curtains like the lungs of a giant frog on a shiny tray served in afternoons home early from finger-painting no breath in sight save for him, big voice and me, small yes metal tongue carving ghosts between the passage of thighs and statues for
his smile at the head of the table
dissect me a mile of inches
at the sliver of
without a word
for more than a decade cut me
show me where
this wound ends and
The one who takes the photo The women huddled near the entrance to the office, their hands still wet and sticky with tobacco juice. The rust-colored liquid was the uniform—it stained their clothes and dotted their masks. They were cigarreras, female tobacco workers, and they constituted the largest chunk of the workforce at a local chewing tobacco factory in Bicol. They were also about to be laid off temporarily—again. They saw it coming. It only took one person for this to happen. For the past week, the cigarreras would glance through the window of the office, and see the unoccupied desk of Eva, who in her 25 years of work as the company’s secretary, had barely timed-in late, let alone take a leave of absence. My dad made the call to cease operations until further notice after learning that Eva’s husband caught the virus. Eva herself had not tested positive, or at least it could not be known yet. But as the owner, he deemed it necessary to take proactive measures. Emerging from the office doorway, the newbie secretary delivered the news to the rest of the workers, interposed with frantic reminders that they were standing too close to each other. After finishing the last batch of tobacco rolls, the workers packed and left, one by one, without a word. The whole factory was bombarded with disinfectant the very next day. The resulting mist blanketed the coffee-brown worktables, the landline telephones that stopped ringing, the makeshift plastic dividers, the cardboard boxes, the heaping piles of papers and folders, and the picture frame atop a filing cabinet, an image of my dad standing beside none other than the president himself. In the streets of the humble and close-knit city that I call home, you are not identified with your name. You are not even your parents’ names, not “Manuel’s daughter” or “Emilia’s son.” Instead, in a strange embodiment of capitalism, people know you by your family’s 62
business. My name is La Corona, and so is my sister’s. We were crowned this name before we were even born, destined to breathe tobacco spores and tobacco dust. Upon reaching Grade 10, I transferred to a school in Manila and unknowingly distanced myself from that identity. Ever since then, trips back to my hometown were short and limited. The cigarreras, mostly in their 50s, used to chat and poke fun at me and my sister a lot back in the day, but as time went on, their gentle and mischievous nature seemingly disappeared. My interactions with them were limited to giving out payroll whenever I went back from Manila. The only words that escaped from their mouths were: “Thank you, sir.” What the pandemic has done to my world was not only to crumple it up to this tiny, claustrophobic ball, but also to fling that ball across Luzon, back to where I began, back to my family, residing in the old soul of the past. A day before the lockdown in Metro Manila started, I found myself boarding a plane to Bicol, joining the exodus of the lucky few who could afford it. In hindsight, I made the right decision. It was not going to be easy to face the slow disaster unfolding in the news by myself. The statistics, the timelines, the vaccine trials that never seemed to end, I soaked it all up like a sponge. I was left dripping with information, numbed with an empty feeling. There was only an expectation of a feeling, a stinging frustration that should have coursed through my body, but as I examined the roof over my head, I forgot. The process of numbing and forgetting continued as I holed up in another house far from the epicenter of the virus in the country. But at least I had people with me. My dad, my mom, and my grandmother were there. What wasn’t there was the factory—no, the families behind it. For when the enhanced community quarantine was extended to the whole of Luzon, our labor-intensive factory was forced to close for the first time. I could only see the wisps of brown dust around my dad as he asked for my help in sealing a hundred or so envelopes of cash advances for the employees, in applying online for workers’ subsidies that never materialized from government agencies, and because of the last one, in packing bags of rice and 63
canned goods as a restorative plan. Sometimes, in those moments, I would look at him, only to be met by a distraught face, still unaware of the great reckoning that came upon him—upon all of us really. Turns out the absent feeling earlier was merely a delayed shock. The pandemic made its first impression on me through televised addresses and mind-numbing reports, but it only manifested itself into my world weeks or months later. To return home was to plant my feet on a sea of sun-dried tobacco leaves, to hear the symphony of crackles and rustles, and to let the current of the earth run through me in full circle. I was there to witness reality secondhand, a reality that looped and strayed before reaching me, but reality nonetheless. With this in mind, I tuned in to the television one night, with its screen that shone like a beacon in our dimly-lit room. Resting on my dad’s belly was an air purifier necklace, the same one droopyeyed President Rodrigo Duterte was wearing on live broadcast. The midnight address was his last agenda, always, everyday. Open communication was a postscript to a letter, an afterthought squeezed in at the last minute. Here’s a man with a slurred speech, itching to go off-script. He always had something else to say. Waiting for a vaccine. Hand-washing with gasoline. Drugs. Yes, drugs were the enemy, not the virus, always, forever. As my economics professor once put it, “A tired rhetoric from a tired man.” That has really been the hallmark of this administration—a rhetoric stripped down to its crudest form. This is a language of cusses and quips. It prides itself in its representation of the ordinary citizen even if its ideals run counter to them. These are the words that have constructed a backdoor to logic, not to infiltrate it but to escape it. And it continues to flee from the reality that is this pandemic, because when you hear officials remark that a 45.5 percent unemployment rate is something to be glad about, or that this crisis is a “blessing in disguise” for accelerating the passage of a health care law, you can only change the channel, or scroll down the next post, hoping that what you saw was simply a digital mirage brought by tired eyes. To think that this man and his views were so distant from me would be a lapse of judgement in memory. I first met the bulbous 64
nose and its constellation of pores sometime around 2015, when talks about his bid for the presidency were still unfounded rumors. My dad and I cluelessly passed by him, closer than current social distancing guidelines would allow, at the Greenbelt shopping mall in Makati. At the time, he had already garnered a following and so naturally, some shoppers recognized the fearsome Davao mayor. My dad was the first to look back and notice the small crowd of onlookers who scrambled to have their pictures taken with him. The next thing I knew, I was holding a phone in front of my dad and Duterte, who wore a blue striped polo shirt with his hands tucked into the pockets of his black jeans. I took a picture of them, as they stood shoulder to shoulder, and that picture was the same one still towering above the filing cabinet in the office, eyeing the abandoned spaces that the workers depended on for their living. My father is the kind of man who kept another framed picture displayed in our living room, a photoshopped one this time, of him shaking hands with George Bush in the Oval Office—what I assume to be the epitome of 2000s kitsch. Just recently, I found an opportunity to test my presumptions. He was sitting on the sofa in that same living room, when I walked up to him, feigning ignorance, and asked, “Sino na nga ulit yung president dyan?” His weary eyes followed where my finger pointed to. As his gaze rested on the picture, an embarrassed smile emanated from his face. “Di ko na...si Reagan ata?” He was rendered mute for a couple of seconds, amused that he could not recall who the man in the suit was. And he was about to literally call a friend, the one who photoshopped it for him, until I muttered “Baka si Bush” under my heavy breath. Walking away, I heard him exclaim: “Ay oo nga, si Bush!” Now, I challenge myself to ask—does my dad remember why he voted for Duterte, a president that he actually shook hands with? I, on the other hand, could only remember the circumstances then. The allure of a staunch resistance against corruption and a promise for change convinced me. Change is coming. Change carries such an enormous weight of meaning and purpose. With little to no understanding of politics and governance at the time, I could only 65
conclude that change equals hope. Even if my dad and I have our differences, I would have cast the same vote had I been old enough at the time. We were both plagued by blissful ignorance, a shortsightedness that can only be remedied in a dynamic environment. That is what my father lacks, an environment that could challenge his beliefs. For most of his life he was stuck in Bicol, where he grew up, where he studied, where he worked hard for the family and where he continues to do so until now. He surrounded himself with a static routine and a static social circle that reveled in conversations about beauty pageants and sketchy nutritional supplements, whatever was a hot issue, a George Bush level of trending. Being vocal about one’s political leanings was not hot or trending, and the same went within our family. There was no need to talk about what must be talked about because we were fed and safe. Hence, my father complacently branded the La Corona name on his skin. He grew old with the cigarreras, hosted Lunar New Year parties for them, fixed up the factory after countless typhoons with them, saw how some withered into retirement and vanished into their caskets, and witnessed new life, as godfather to their marriages and their children. In spite of how the pandemic physically displaced him from the factory, he never stopped pouring all his energy into it. He loaned out a truckload of bicycles to the employees after the ban on public transportation was announced; he continues to call Eva, and check on how she and her sickly husband is doing. His heart may be in the right place for the workers, but it is sadly not enough to reveal the glaring contradictions he made the moment he cast his vote in the 2016 presidential elections, and even before that, the moment he placed the picture on top of the filing cabinet. And it still stands there today. When one’s political platform is hinged on correcting the mistakes of the “old elite” and the institutions they uphold, it becomes even more daunting to face the unprecedented problem that is this pandemic. The promise of change is predicated on the existence of a norm, but what kind of action do you take when confronting something eerily new? This is precisely the hole that the current administration dug 66
itself in. The pandemic cannot be solved with the reversal of laws, the uprooting of our Constitution, the dismantling of media giants, or any other reactive policy dependent on the unbridled hatred of the past order. Yet they continued to do so, distracted like dogs chasing their tails, and at a crisis when everyone should unite against a common, unseen enemy, the only reassurance they could provide was the language of blind optimism. For these reasons, I could no longer reconcile my father’s compassion for the workers with the image of him standing beside the man with the iron fist, stained with layers of dried blood and painted anew with the crimson dripping from the mouths of COVID casualties. Change is coming. Change came for me in time, showering me with the gifts of exposure and awareness as I moved to the capital, a dynamic environment, the center of everything that is bustling, and everything that is indeed changing. Duterte and his ideals had already won the race and the hearts of people. This was the era when he entered the political arena with a bang, his mouth locked and loaded to blurt out every controversial remark that could be conjured up by man. When I saw him again in person, a few years after that shopping mall photo-op, I only saw the faces of the drug war’s victims and their family members who were left to grieve. I saw those haunting faces, burned into memory from photos online, in a wedding reception by the bay. My dad was friends with the bride’s family, and the groom’s family had close ties to Duterte, way back when he was still a mayor. Everyone in that elaborately decorated hall knew the latter fact. Whispers about his imminent arrival dominated the night, and they travelled along the music of the wedding band and the hushed conversations between starving guests. It was hard to miss when he finally entered with a trail of bodyguards and a camera crew, and it was hard to forget the speech he delivered moments later. In the same manner I’ve grown familiar with, he read off a script, sending his well wishes to the couple for around five minutes, before putting the paper down, and started rambling about then Special Assistant to the President Bong Go for at least half an hour. His words may be incoherent but his purpose was clear. Those were the weeks leading 67
up to the 2019 senatorial elections, and he was up on a platform, facing a massive audience of Filipino-Chinese businessmen dressed in suits and gowns, adorned with glittering sequins and sparkling watches. The crowd roared in laughter every now and then. From the corner of my eye I could see my dad, sitting beside me, awkwardly switching back and forth between clapping and reaching for some peanuts from the table. His face beamed with fascination that night, eerily similar to when he watches Vice Ganda films. Political beliefs aside, I shuddered at the thought of him inviting the next snarky, sharpwitted politician he would admire to crash my wedding reception one day. But the more I looked at him and at everyone, the more my eyes drew closer to myself. What pains me more in summoning this memory is the fact that I was dressed exactly like all of them. In a sea of glimmer and sophistication, I had the same attire. I wore the same black coat and white shirt, the same necktie, the same polished leather shoes. If I could hear Duterte’s speech that night, it’s because I was meant to hear it. I was the son of a Duterte supporter with a mouth full of peanuts. I was the target audience for Bong Go’s campaign—a campaign that he won, in an election I took no part of, even though I was finally old enough. I did not vote. While I was legally old enough, my maturity and conscience could not catch up. All the reasons for withholding my vote did not mean anything now, as I continue to hope for the end of this lockdown that never comes. I took that picture. The one that stands on top of the filing cabinet. The one that has been duplicated and placed on another filing cabinet, in another office, this time in Manila, closer to the throne of the idol himself. I pressed the shutter button on that fateful day. I heard the echoing click that ceaselessly reverberates in my head. I fanned the fire of my dad’s imagination. A little bit of research took too much time, a little bit of care was too much effort. There was no perceivable reason to know more and to understand the consequences, or so I thought. 68
I was silent for too long. I understood this when I finally asked my dad a few days ago if he remembers why he voted for Duterte. “Oo, para magbago na ang korapsyon, yung pagnanakaw, tsaka yung mga monopoly ng Marcos.” I asked him if the president’s performance stayed true to his initial promises. He said it was not perfect, but perfectly enough. I held my breath. There was no whirlwind of anger thrown across the room in our brief conversation. It was as peaceful as the eye of the storm. He thought it was just an innocent question and meanwhile, I was simply in disbelief from his remark, logically flawed as it may be, that was so genuine. No longer was this the man who rode bandwagons of celebrities, of white presidents, of the latest air purifier necklaces, of the newest restaurants in town vouched by his best friends, of the kind of businesses that always made money, of the kind of life that always treated him well. In that moment of lucidity, as he uttered those words, the same glowing face back in the wedding reception confronted me. All along, he was armed with a belief so powerful that it could bend reality to merge contradictions. Admittedly, I was partly responsible for this exact outcome. I was complicit every time I stayed quiet at the dining table, in the car, in the living room, when Duterte’s name made a passing mention. It was me, how noble and enlightened, the one who travelled the distance, who carried the burden of knowledge but somehow, in the end, has nothing to show for it. The reality right now is the reality of rising deaths and cases, of rampant misinformation in our confined digital spaces, and of the growing distrust against institutions, medical and otherwise. Months into the lockdown, one of our employees approached me with a question, “When you got tested, did you see if the swab was sealed beforehand?” Not if it was sealed but if I saw it sealed. She spun an elaborate tale that if she were to get tested, she feared that the hospital would falsely claim a positive result for money, and though I would instinctively dismiss this as another conspiracy theory— dangerously close to that of flat-earthers and anti-vaxxers—I bit my tongue. I was reminded of decades of corruption and patronage politics, of medical populism in the middle of a pandemic, and of 69
the recent PhilHealth scams. How could I blame her for thinking like that? Her concern certainly does not add up rationally, and I reassured her anxieties about it. But how did this hesitation come about in the first place and more importantly, what was my part in it? At the same time, I face the reality of the future: even if my dad decides to reopen the factory soon, sales have been exponentially declining these past few months. Our family might remain unfazed for a longer time, but what would this mean for the cigarreras of La Corona? They could be cut short in the last leg of their working career, left with stooped backs and yellowed nails, bodies molded by the craft of hand-rolling sweetened leaves. I begin to wonder about the other businesses in our city. They need to be doing well, else even the most awkward representations of our identities, the adopted names of our own companies, might be phased out into collective amnesia. There is also a more immediate future, a day when Eva, the veteran secretary, tests negative and returns to work. Maybe, despite her punctual arrival, she will come in with eyebags shadowing her grief. Her co-workers will not know exactly what to say or whether they should turn a blind eye to the fact that her husband died after battling the virus for three weeks. Maybe they will try to avoid her, unsure if she could be still potentially infectious or not. She will carry this pain, and so will her thirteen year old son, as they continue to make sense of a world full of tragedies so unnecessary and so avoidable. The picture frame in the office shall greet her again someday, and she, in turn, will greet my dad as well once he makes his return to the factory. She will also greet me from time to time as usual, whenever I come back from Manila, and she might also consider getting used to greeting me more and more frequently as the years pass by. Although I doubt the latter scenario will ever happen, I can only wonder what goes through her head. In the face of suffering, is she making these connections between the absurdity of society and her personal tragedy? Is she thinking about the invisible thread that links the picture to my dad and to me? Maybe, through no fault of her own, she might not even have the time or liberty to think at all. So when that day does come, when she greets me good morning, I can only greet in reply, choking on my own words. 70
iago b. guballa
excerpt from The Echoist A play in 5 parts “I am the wound and the blade, both the torturer and he who is flayed.”
Charles Baudelaire, The Self-Tormenter
“A child weaned on poison considers harm a comfort.” “Sometimes if you let people do things to you, you’re really doing it to them.” Gillian Flynn, Sharp Objects characters dom – Ages from around 7 to 37 throughout the play. A male dominatrix. ate – Ages from 18 to 44. Dom’s Sister. Also plays: The Dealer - An Art Dealer who is also Dom’s madam. mom – Ages from 41 to 62. Dom’s Mother. Also plays: The Misis - A woman who confronts Dom about her husband. ‘tay – Ages from 47 to 59. Dom’s Father. Also plays: The Sensei - A man who teaches Dom about BDSM. andrew/male ensemble - Dom’s first love. As ensemble, he plays: The Echoist, Doggy, Etc. anna/female ensemble - Dom’s best friend. As ensemble, she plays: The Other Echoist, Oreo, Etc.
time –1980-something - 2019 stage – A space—somewhere between a modern S&M dungeon and a family home perpetually stuck in the 90s—that can quickly switch between both locations, among others.
content warning: Please be advised that this work deals with explicit and heavy themes, specifically those of physical and verbal abuse, homophobia, and sexual content.
Part 1: The Gag Lights fade in on DOM, bloodied and beaten, lying unconscious centerstage. He slowly returns to consciousness, picking himself up slowly, almost limb by limb. He sits up for a moment, trying to assess what’s happened to him. A slide that reads “2019” is projected onstage. (The slides projected throughout the play are in the style of slides you would see in a Viewmaster, or an old projection machine.) He staggers over to a piece of furniture, and leans over it as if it were a bathroom sink with a mirror in front of him. He looks at himself, then wipes some of the blood off of his face. He checks the time.
In a sudden rush, he procures a piece of rope from a box onstage, sits down, and begins to manipulate the rope into something. He slows down, and looks at the audience. dom
Hi. One moment.
He continues to manipulate the rope, quickly tying it into a noose. He holds it up in front of him, then stands. He climbs onto a piece of furniture & fixes the noose onto the ceiling. He stares through the noose for a moment, then returns to the floor. A slide that reads “The Gag: An orally-fixed device that can come in different forms such as the ball gag, dental gag, etc. that primarily serves to mute its wearer or restrict their ability to speak“ is projected onstage.
Whenever I begin with a new client, I say this: 1) My name is Dom, and that’s also what I will be to you. I don’t submit, and no amount of cash
you’re willing to pay will make me do so. 2) Please tell me what you prefer to do before we begin, and if you don’t know, we’ll figure it out as we go. 3) If you want to stop or if you feel you’re at very real risk, use the safe word, which for you, is…whatever flavor of ice cream that client reminds me of.
But I’m not working right now, and you aren’t a client.
Dom takes the box he procured the rope from and sets it on a surface (This box will be where most of the props used throughout the play will come from). dom
I make it a point to go through this every year. To keep track of my progress. Every year, it becomes easier to think about and harder to remember, some of the parts I’m about to tell you. It’s 2019. I work as a professional dominatrix. Yes, professional. Yes, dominatrix. Oo, sex work siya, but don’t be alarmed, try not to judge—Nobody forced me into this. I had other choices, as many, many people have reminded me, but I chose this. And it’s never anything outright sexual nowadays. People pay me to feel owned, to be hurt, if only for a few hours. They pay well. And that takes experience, knowing how to hurt, own people correctly. It takes research. I’m not going to lie to you: I’m not the best person to tell you this story, but I’m also the only person
who knows this story, it being mine. Memories aren’t reliable, and the way I used to feel about this one, more so. But I think the only way you really overcome something is to stop feeling like it’s a tragedy and start treating it like history. Like facts, things that are, were, controlled. A slide that reads “1998” is projected onstage. Dom’s family begins to enter one by one, ‘TAY first, then MOM, then ATE. They sit around & across from each other onstage, as if at a dinner table. dom
It’s always best to show rather than tell, and if I were to tell you about my family… I think it’s better to show you what an average night at home during those crucial teenage years was like. To be objective, if that’s even possible.
DOM! Baba ka na!
Dom sighs, then joins the rest of his family for dinner. mom
Bakit late ka umuwi kanina?
dom Si Bobby kasi. Na-detention, and we had groupwork to finish. (to the audience, as his adult self) But really, I think I was sucking someone’s dick that day. More on that later. mom
‘Yang Bobby na iyan talaga ha. I’ve been telling you since you were Grade 7, he’s just going to bring you into his mess and mahina na nga ang hawak mo sa schoolwork as it is. Huwag na.
(to Ate) Ikaw, how was your day?
Good. I had coffee with Michelle. Carlo picked me up. I found out my first sit-in’s next Wednesday na. Family Court sa Pasig.
Ano naman yung kaso?
Boring stuff. Another annullment.
Di ako masyadong invested sa family proceedings kasi… you know, sobrang gulo ng proseso whenever there’s family involved for whatever reason. Depressing, really.
dom (to the audience) Fun fact: In 2014, Ate was cited in a magazine nobody reads as the 9th best family lawyer in the Philippines. By Family Law, I mean mostly annulments. She was a natural at dismantling marriages. I guess we have that in common. ate
But I have to go, anyway. Graded pa rin yung attendance and everything, and kailangang nakafull regalia kaming lahat.
A beat. ate Silence.
Which is why I need a new suit.
'tay You have a new suit. Binili mo lang nung isang linggo. ate I have a new blazer. I need a suit. May kasamang top & pants. 'tay
Kailangan ba talaga?
ate They tend to respect you more if you wear pants, if you’re a woman. So really, ayoko talagang bumili ng bagong suit— 'tay
Ayan pala eh.
But I need one.
She needs to look her best for this. Hindi lang naman vanity. Narinig mo siya, they grade women for appearance. It’s not something you’d understand.
Hindi ko lang naman maintindihan kung ba’t naging problema ko ‘to. Kasi alam mo, noong college ako—
A collective sigh from everyone else at the table. dom
(to audience) Ay. ‘Tay’s favorite story. The boulder on his shoulder. Ang malagim na sanhi ng kanyang pagdusa. Ngayong gabi, sa MMK.
—isa lang yung pares ng sapatos na ginagamit ko.
While ‘Tay continues his story, in the living room, THE ECHOIST enters, and stands at the side of the room. 'tay Isa lang. ‘Noong nasira na yung goma ng isang paa, alam mo yung ginawa ko? Hindi ako bumalik sa Pampanga para magmakaawa sa Lolo niyo dahil nasira ko yung binili niya para sakin, hindi ako nanglimos sa harap niya para makabili ako ng bagong sapatos, hindi ako humingi ng awa, pera, tulong kahit saan. Nagtiis ako. Do you know how to do that? mom
Tama na ‘yan.
'tay Tapos nagbenta ako ng mga dati kong matchbox car, mga dati kong textbook—basta. Gumawa ako ng paraan. mom
'tay Ikaw, kaya mo bang maghiwalay sa mga punyetang Beanie Babies mo diyan sa taas? 22 years old ka na. Kaya mo bang magtrabaho? Kasi alam mo, yung ibang Law Student na alam ko, hindi lang nag-aaral para samom
dom I don’t have to explain my family, and they don’t really have to explain themselves either. What I do have to explain, is him. (Gestures towards The Echoist) An Echoist. We don’t really have those anymore, in the enlightened time of 2019. But for a time, as simple as some of you would a driver, or a
yaya, you could pay someone to hurt. To take all that anger & sadness that only comes out of your knuckles. Nowadays, you have to get creative.
ANNA, as her 30-year-old self, enters. dom I think we have the time to be technical. What is an Echoist? I think Anna, my best friend & recently tenured sociology professor, said it best during this 2012 lecture: anna The practice of Echoism is representative of the intrinsically Filipino need for more than a simple cathartic release, but one that is hierarchical in nature—that of a boss over an employee, an older relative to a younger, parent to child. Echoism commodifies acts of physical catharsis. This practice can be dated back to the early 1800s, where rich... dom
Academics can be boring, I know. Says the Lit Major. We can skip ahead.
...the case of Ella Samira. Ms. Samira worked as an Echoist for 35 years, at least 15 for the same family. Every other night, she would be beaten to neardeath & put herself back together before breakfast the next morning. By the time she had died, the family couldn’t file the proper papers because of Echoism’s no-name policy, and previously, during the Anti-Echoism Hearings of 2001, she couldn’t testify either, because of Echoism’s mutism policy. Her family never found justice or any form of reparations for what she...
dom Like I said, telling’s not showing. And as someone who’s sat through 25 years of Anna’s speeches, I think I’d like to save another person from that kind of labor. ANNA exits. The scene at dinner resumes. mom
Anong tama na?
Silence. ATE is completely still and blank-faced, but seething. She stands up, picks up her glass, and walks to the side of the stage close to where THE ECHOIST is. She picks up a pitcher of water and fills her glass. She drinks. Silence. She smashes the glass over THE ECHOIST’s head. He falls over, unconscious. A beat. ate
Excuse me. I have readings.
ATE exits. THE ECHOIST picks himself up. A beat. The family resumes dinner. They hold a cautious silence for a few seconds before— 'tay
(to Mom) Yung pagka-entitled ng dalawa na ’to, nagtataka talaga ako minsan, kung saan iyan galing.
Alam mo, I want a good life for my children. The best, even. Unlike some parents. Elsewhere.
May pinagkaiba ang “good” sa “nalulunod sa dami ng stuffed toys ko.” Ang tawag diyan spoiled.
I have a better word. Damot.
‘TAY slams his hands on the table and stands up. He unbuckles his belt, grabs THE ECHOIST by the collar, and drags him offstage. Loud slaps and hits are heard, as well as grunts of rage. No sounds of pain are audible. ‘TAY re-enters, disheveled. He drinks his glass of water, then exits. MOM follows, begrudgingly. mom
You know, baka tawagin ko nga yung nanay ng Bobby na iyan sometime soon. I think it’s for the best. Excuse me, anak.
She exits. DOM walks offstage, then re-enters, dragging THE ECHOIST’s body in. DOM pulls up a chair to watch him as he lies unconscious, recovering. dom
This was always my favorite part, watching him put himself back together.
THE ECHOIST recovers, the sound of bones snapping back into place accompanying his process. (The process is similar to how DOM picks himself up at the beginning of the play.) dom
(to the audience) I was always curious, how Echoists were able to do that. Mom said it wasn’t our place to bother with how Echoists did their job. “They do what they’re paid to do, we don’t have to force them to do anything else for us,” is what she says. Na-gets ko iyon. At the time. Ngayon, di ko alam kung paano ko siya nakilala for almost 4 years without ever learning his name.
THE ECHOIST exits. 81
So there. That was any day in that house for almost 10 years. That was… normal, to me.
ANNA, as her 12-year old self, enters, eyes glued to a gameboy. She sits next to DOM on the floor. dom I would talk to Anna about him all the time. Anna lived two streets away, in the same village. Two things to know about our friendship shaped it early on: My family was very much better off than hers money-wise, and since we were kids, she was… always just better than me, at everything. What a bitch. (to Anna) I always feel guilty. That it’s him they’re hitting and not me. anna I’m sure na that’s what they want. Ya, that’s the point. dom
Then why not just hit me? Or Ate. Her dapat.
Because. Parents. Grownups. They wanna think they’re better than us, and each other, and our lolas & lolos. Di ko alam how to explain.
Did your parents ever—
Yeah. Before, when I was small small. Pinalo nila ako so hard this one time, nasira yung walis.
Ouch. Walis Tingting?
Tambo. The handle.
OUCH. Did they at least say sorry?
ANNA stops playing, looks at DOM, and laughs in his face. anna to
That’s funny. Grownups don’t say sorry, bobo. I think it’s a rule. When you turn 40, you’re allowed
Is that true?
Can I have my gameboy back?
never say sorry ever again.
ANNA glares at DOM, gives the gameboy back, and exits. ’TAY, MOM, & ATE re-enter, each holding one chair in each hand. They claim a place onstage, place the chairs in pairs, and sit on one. dom
Maybe it was a little unfair of me to show my family altogether. That’s when we’re all at our worst. So… eto. I’ve had to think of simpler ways to talk about my family as I’ve gotten older. So whenever somebody would ask about a member of my family in particular, I would always tell them about that one time in the car, and all of them gave me some kind of time in the car:
DOM walks over to ‘TAY’s open chair and sits. A slide that reads “1995” is projected onstage. dom 1995. I was 13. ‘Tay picked me up from soccer almost every day that summer. Yes, they made me do sports. (to ‘Tay) Can we stop for McDonald’s? 83
May hinanda na raw si Manang.
I got tired & hungry from all of the kicking the ball.
(to himself) You didn’t even get a goal.
Wala. If we get McDo, your Ate will be mad that we didn’t get her anything.
She likes cheeseburgers.
‘TAY sighs. 'tay
That’s already so much food for one trip.
(to the audience) This was 1995; a cheeseburger cost what? 50 pesos?
(to ‘Tay) There’s a Jollibee near here.
(to the audience) Everything was 10 pesos cheaper there.
A beat. 'tay
(to ‘Tay) I’ll finish my food before we get home. Fine.
‘TAY motions to make a turn, then starts honking his horn. 'tay PUUUUCHA! ANAK NG—This fucking guy. (to DOM) Sana naman masarap iyang Jollibee mo, ha?
DOM walks over to MOM’s open chair & sits. A slide that reads “2000” is projected onstage. dom
2000. I was 18. Mom picked me up from school, a week after… something.
(to Mom) Can we get McDonald’s? mom
Maybe, if there’s one near here.
There’s one after the next turn.
A moment passes. dom
You missed it, Mom.
She makes a motion to abruptly stop the car. mom
What did I do? Huh?
Where did I go wrong? What did I do that made you so… That joke you made the other night.
It wasn’t a joke.
Yes, we know that now. God. God! It’s like people keep disrespecting me.
(to the audience) I think she was having trouble at work at the time. She was working in PR, I think, back then, back when—
Hello? May tumatalab ba sayo?
DOM looks at the audience with genuine concern, as if he’d never been interrupted before. dom
Yes! Can we—can we please talk about this at home na lang, please?
MOM continues driving. mom
You need a haircut. And your nails need trimming. God, it’s really like gusto mo talagang mabulok. You know, other boys your age, they try. They try! But you—it’s like people always have to take care of you for you.
A beat. mom
Akala ko, you wanted to go to McDonald’s.
But I thought—
What do you want? Gusto ko yung may happy meal toy. I need something happy.
mom Roll down your window. DOM does so.
mom (suddenly cordial) Hello, dear! Dalawang happy meal po. DOM walks over to ATE’s open chair and sits. A slide that reads “2006” is projected onstage. dom 2006. I was 24. This was after… after the will reading. ate I’m mad. I’m so fucking mad. After everything, he really just—Ugh. Puta. You know how I always used to tell you, if Mom or ‘Tay does something stupid, the best way to make them pay for it is to make them pay for it? With clothes, or books, or something, anything?! dom
That’s what he was thinking when he signed those papers. Just how we’re a bunch of fucking brats who’ve done nothing but suck the capital out of his miserable fucking life. God! We get the house. A fuck ing Pasig City one-story piece of shit, and that’s it. That’s it? That’s it! And all our fucking titos & titas sitting on their bloated fucking asses get the money. Fuck! You know, I bet we can contest that fucking will, and say that bastard wasn’t of sound mind. Obviously! Obviously, he wasn’t.
Can we get McDonald’s?
I need a fucking McFlurry.
She makes a sudden swerve, as if a car almost grazed hers. ate FUCK! WHAT THE FUCK! Student driver my ass, punyeta— ATE rolls down the window and screams. She rolls it back down, and continues to drive. A moment passes. ate
Do you know what you want?
Ok. Roll down your window.
DOM does so. ate
(suddenly polite) Hello, good afternoon po! May we please get a—
There’s a pattern here. Papa bear’s anger was too hot, Mama bear’s anger was too cold. Ate bear’s anger was… understandable, in hindsight. I think that ride with Mom needs context. Might as well talk about it now, the night I came out. It was I think 3 days before that.
A slide that reads “2000” is projected onstage. dom
It’s unfair to pinpoint one instance in your life that explains everything that’s wrong with it, but until 10 years ago, I would’ve said that night was it. The night I came out. How do I start? You know, I won’t. I don’t have to. It’s what? Just 2
words, at least? I’m gay. I’m a lesbian. I no longer believe in the Christian God whose wrath you invoke. Coming out’s simple. It’s barely a sentence, and whispered. What really speaks volumes, is the aftermath. How everyone reacts. A beat. ‘TAY, MOM, & ATE break out into laughter, and the sound of a live studio audience’s laughter accompanies them. A moment passes. They all stare at DOM blankly. They look away, almost in unison, processing. ‘TAY puts his paper down and stands up. The sound of a live studio audience gasping & reacting in shock. ‘TAY storms offstage. The sound of a beating, this time more brutal than the previous offstage one, accompanied by studio audience laughter. A short silence. mom This is a joke, right? You know, don’t answer. We all know it is, anak. There’s no way—we can talk about this later. She exits, and the sound of beating offstage grows louder. The invisible audience’s laughter increases in volume. ate I want to say “good for you,” but we know it’s gonna be hard. ATE exits the opposite side of the stage from where MOM & ‘TAY did. Aggressive grunts and sounds of violence from their side grow in volume once again, accompanied by increasing studio audience laughter. dom
Later that night, I saw The Echoist was still completely malformed in the kitchen. I thought he was dead. But it’s impossible to kill an Echoist while they’re on the job. What you can do, is beat 89
them in a way that lasts. That takes longer to heal than reasonable. He stayed twisted up like that for 2 days. He began to smell, but nobody seemed to mind, besides me. When he was all fixed up, he quit the next day. My parents got a new Echoist the next month, this time a girl.
THE OTHER ECHOIST enters, and stands where THE ECHOIST had previously. dom
They never beat her as hard as her predecessor. I don’t know if it was because she was a girl or be cause the worst of it was over.
“I’m gay.” Saying that probably caused the most damage I’d ever make until… you know. But I’m not done with that night. And she wasn’t, either.
MOM re-enters, and sits across from DOM. She’s wiping blood from her knuckles. mom
You know what I think your problem is? You don’t understand yet what things mean for other people. Things about you. No man is an island, Dom. What you do, it echoes. The things you do, the things you are, people will think come from us. As a family.
It’s selfish, to do something, to choose to be something that puts the people around you at risk. And you know, if you’re that selfish, maybe you don’t care about that. Maybe you only care about what people will think of you. And it’s the same. They’ll never see you as a good, normal person when you tell jokes like the one you just did. You’ll never get to live normally, anak. You won’t get to
have a proper job, and a proper love, and a proper family. Think about that if you don’t care to think about anyone else.
She stands up. mom
What you’ve said… it’s a joke, as far as anyone out side this house knows. Good night.
MOM moves to the back of the stage. DOM is shaken for a moment, then addresses the audience. dom
Maybe I’m being unfair. All I’ve been showing you are bad times. With them. But there were good times too. Of course, there are. Sadly. For me.
‘TAY & ATE re-enter, and MOM & DOM join them in sitting on a piece of furniture, cramped next to each other on what seems like a couch (similar to The Simpsons during the show’s opening credits.) They sit in silence. The sounds of beating & studio audience laughter from earlier play softly in the background. dom
There are moments like this too. Moments of silence. Doing nothing. Those were the good times. That illusion of being far away from everyone even if you’re in the same room. When the way you live with someone is all pain, almost all the time, the only real gifts they can give you are their silence, and their distance. But even then, everything they’ve done to you… she’s right, it echoes. Especially when it’s silent, and you can think to yourself. But at least they’re not with you. In that moment.
The sounds of beating and laughter continue to increase, then abruptly cut off as the lights do.
Now, you might think that building a hurt locker costs a lifetime’s worth of rocket science and elbow grease. It doesn’t. Take your global goods with you — and from the shit that I’ve seen, you don’t have that many — and bathe them in seclusion. A place with an emptiness so depressing, you’d might as well think that the world’s your punching bag.
This stunt, in layman’s terms, is called a pain signifier. A representation of your pain, whatever it is you may have gone through. Are you catching on? Good. Just tell me when things are getting too complex for your understanding, and I’ll dumb it down for you.
Remember him. Turn your hate into hurting. Draw from it, the strength they see.
Take, for instance, a hurt locker.
If someone tells you that hate’s too strong a word for their liking, Make it a part of your life-line. Or, better yet, the lines of your life.
HOW-TO: Draw Strength from Hate
Say that you know an asshole when you see one.
Say that he’s a self-absorbed protégé. A reminder that corruption breeds in the classroom. Say that he’s strong, so you must be stronger.
The same people who fear hate will ask you why you’re doing this.
Locker-warming gifts are always in season. These may include a hand-sewn doll (make sure to capture his Blue Rose Award for Most Likely to Become a Corrupt Politician), a cork board filled with his drunk selfies on Instagram, a dart board with his favorite book pinned smack-dab on the center, lined by daggers and matches, a wooden puppet fit for all the lies he’s made, his A-worthy portrait from 4th grade, the one that showcased his desire to become a policeman, his rejection letter (not to him, but to you, from him), and a clay sculpture of yourself with his decapitated head.
Channel that heaviness. Amp it up. Set it aflame. You’re almost done.
The same shape of his humble abode. A palace fit for a president.
When you close your eyes and dream, what’s the shape of your hurt locker?
Count the number of times he’s appeared on your screen.
Consider all the years you’ve spent trying to bite his bark, and every measure of his success that your hate wouldn’t dare touch.
And when you’re done, throw yourself in it. Live in it.
Your hurt locker is yours to wreck.
Think of when he judged you for living and all the times he’s wondered what you were doing, brain-dead under his reign. Think of when he desperately wanted to keep you on his team only to shame you for being right, and the core memory that was him breaking your words apart in art’s name. Think of when your story meant more to him than your own life.
The Paradox of Dwelling and Travelling: Migrant Worker Mobility in Pinoy Sunday When Taiwan implemented the Employment Service Act in 1992, Taiwanese employers began to recruit low-skilled migrant workers in response to the high cost of labor. This was followed by the introduction of the Go South policy in 1994, where alternative alliances were created with Southeast Asia to develop industry and policy coordination. In the wake of a growing economy combined with inter-governmental negotiations, it was thus in the 1990s when Taiwan readily opened its doors to foreign workers. Concurrently, it was also during this time when the Philippines witnessed its third decade of labor migration. The Philippine government saw the necessity to export more working Filipinos abroad to lessen internal pressure and reinforce its source of funds from remittances (Sills and Chowthi 192). Predictably, formal ties between placement agencies in the Philippines and labor brokers in Taiwan developed, which explains the trend of Filipinos migrating to Taiwan in search of economic opportunities. Taiwan’s reception to Filipino migrant workers, however, has been far from accommodating. Working conditions can be inhumane, starting with a lack of opportunities for socialization or acculturation (Sills 192; Chen 236). Moreover, there is an underlying system that puts migrant workers at a disadvantage by placing them in “legal servitude” (Chen 238). This involves setting maximum limits on their stay, restricting labor into gendered categories, and shortening one’s length of contract to avoid acquiring citizenship. In an ethnographic study conducted by Stephen Sills and Natassaja Chowthi, findings
reveal that Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Taiwan face rigid ethnic boundaries shaped by “essentialist stereotypes and geographic and social alienation” while being supplied with economic opportunities (211-212). In a broader context, these flows of migration can be understood as diasporas underpinned by the workings of globalization. According to diaspora specialist Robin Cohen, globalization and diaspora are “separate phenomena with no necessary causal connections, but they ‘go together’ extraordinarily well” (154). Characterized by a globalized economy, international migration, cosmopolitan sensibilities, and even religion, diasporas are in “a continuous state of formation and reformation” (141). It is no surprise that neoliberal sensibilities fuse well in migrant worker flows as the demand for labor in the international economy increases. Scholars like Wilson and Aminzade define neoliberalism as economic reform policies characterized by those that “liberalize the economy, reduce the role of the state in the economy, [and] contribute to fiscal austerity and macroeconomic stabilization” (ctd. in Boas and Gans-Morse 143). For activist Antonio Tujan Jr., this market “flexibilization” allows for host countries to adopt migrant workers from poorer countries on a contractual and cheapened basis to meet shortages in the national labor market (ctd. in Chen 239). Despite this overt exploitation, neoliberalism also creates a sort of fantasy among migrant workers as they pursue their personal goals under the logic of capitalism (Chen 240). Amid labor exploitation, cinematic depictions of migrant workers have surfaced to properly represent migrant realities. In analyzing films portraying the lives of diasporas in Taiwan, scholar Tzu-Chin Insky Chen argues that immigrant films “function as a form of recognition and thereby challenge the homogeneous Taiwanese national identity” (236). Ho Wi Ding’s Pinoy Sunday (台北星期天) is a notable example. Targeted towards both Taiwanese and Filipino audiences, Pinoy Sunday is successful not only in furthering discourse 97
between migrant peoples and local society, but also in representing diasporic flows by way of cinematic symbolism. Self-aware of its artistic articulation, the film presents a well-grounded framework from which diasporas can be perceived. This paper examines the diasporic mode of mobility among migrant workers as it is artistically represented in Pinoy Sunday. It argues that migrant workers are rendered provisionally immobile by being subjugated between the tension of dwelling and travelling. This paradox of stasis and movement is propelled by the reciprocal interplay of diasporic agents’ intersubjective desire for “the good life” as well as the transnational forces that situate migrant labor in the thrust of neoliberalism. That is, the mobility of dwelling and travellling is designed to be transient, a system made to exhaust foreign labor until it is replaced by inbound migrant workers set to adopt the same dialectic. In reading Pinoy Sunday this way, viewers are urged to challenge the system that perpetuates migrant worker oppression and imagine more humane possibilities for foreign labor regulations in a modern, globalizing world. DWELLING AND TRAVELLING Travelling is the disruption of stasis. It is a movement performed in space that determines intersecting modes of reality. Without travel, networks cease to produce and reproduce social life and cultural forms. According to British sociologist John Urry, “cultures are themselves mobile as a result of the mobilities that sustain diverse patterns of social reality” (49). These travel mobilities are not limited to corporeal practices, as they are also dependent on object, imaginative, and virtual travels. There is travel in the mobility of objects, the consumption of media like television and radio, and the immersion to cyberspace as there is in walking, train riding, or driving. In any form of travelling, there is the inherent communication of sociocultural devices, as in the shared experiences in imagined travel, the loaded meaning of things-in-motion, or the flexibilities of 98
the car in relation to modern socialization. In other words, travelling is the actual performance of sociocultural negotiations that allow life to flourish and survive. If travelling is a mobile performance across spaces, one can understand dwelling as a “staying of things.” Nonetheless, contemporary forms of dwelling challenge such a schematic definition. For Urry, they “almost always involve diverse forms of mobility” (132). Dwelling can range from local or intersubjective belongingness to diverse forms of heritage, nation, and diaspora. Put differently, dwelling is less about shared space and more about relationships by way of loose, network-like patterns. Urry clarifies that it involves “complex relationships between belonging and travelling” (157). Dwelling is thus embedded in various mobilities, especially when human connections are involved. For the sake of distinction, however, I emphasize a constant variable in dwelling, that which is stasis. Whereas travelling breaks free from it, dwelling constitutes it. There is significant research potential in dwelling or travelling alone; put together, the possibilities are all the more inviting. While Urry has elaborated on the individual complexities of either, it is the scholar James Clifford who suggested probing into the dialectic interaction between dwelling and travelling. His agenda was simple: to rethink cultures as sites of dwelling and travel. Putting transnational politics into consideration, Clifford asserts that “cultural dwelling cannot be considered except in specific historical relations with cultural travelling, and vice versa” (45). Neither dwelling nor travelling is exclusively static or mobile; rather, it is in a constant negotiation of movement with each other which, in turn, unearths a hybrid form of mobility. The facilitation of dwelling and travelling among mobile subjects is not innate. Depending on the framework of analysis, one may interpret these mobilities on the individual or the structural level. 99
In sociological terms, these follow rational theory and the structural tradition, respectively. The demands of dwelling and travelling, however, point to somewhere in between. Factoring global flows into the picture, it becomes even clearer that neither theory holds. In the diasporic context, it is best to see the dialectic of dwelling and travelling operating in the reciprocal relationship between agents and structures that shape and are shaped by each other. To illustrate, Cohen underscores how institutional and social mechanisms manage and structure the marketplace while agents engage in market transactions (142). This paper therefore considers critical realism, which understands social structures as “systems of human relations among social positions” (Porpora 195). Daniel Finn explains the critical realist theory comprehensively: “social structures emerge from the activity of individuals, yet have independent causal impact on people through the way structures affect the (free but constrained) choices persons make” (138). Following Clifford’s research recommendation, this paper employs critical realist theory to examine how Pinoy Sunday deconstructs dwelling and travelling to represent migrant worker realities. On the individual level, it employs Gaston Bachelard’s phenomenology of imagination and Lauren Berlant’s concept of “cruel optimism” to elucidate migrant workers’ role in sustaining a paradoxical mode of mobility within the tension of dwelling and travelling. On a wider scale, it specifies working and living conditions in Taiwan represented in the film that reinforce the oppressive characteristics of the in-betweenness of dwelling and travelling. Finally, it reconciles agent and structure by critiquing the consequences of transience implicated by migrant worker mobility given their provisionality. Pinoy Sunday (2009) It is the 2000’s, almost two decades after Taiwan began hosting their country for migrant workers from the Philippines. Happy-go100
lucky Manuel Dela Cruz (portrayed by Epy Quizon) and troubled Dado Tagalog (Bayani Agbayani) are migrant Filipino workers in Taipei City, each with their fair share of problems. Manuel is a lovesick adult facing rejection after rejection from the girls he pines for, while Dado is a father looking to earn for the family he left behind in the Philippines. On one Sunday, supposedly the priceless day-off for many Filipino workers in Taipei, Manuel and Dado find an alluring red couch abandoned in the middle of the street. Driven by the desire to make their after-work hours more comfortable, the adventure sets in motion as this iconic duo strives to bring the couch back to their dormitory whatever way they can—involving a wacky encounter with the police, a boy about to jump from a building, and an escape from the incessant interrogation of the media. The pair fails to bring the sofa back to the dorm, a failure that also involves not getting back in time for curfew. Manuel and Dado are deported back to the Philippines, and the film ends with the two talking about opening a global furniture business. Throughout the entire story, the film hints at the emblems of carrying a sofa in the streets of Taipei in relation to the migrant mobility of dwelling and travelling. Interestingly, there are three ways in which the sofa is traversed in the city: by walking, by a hybrid vehicle, and by pushcart (figures 1, 2, and 3). These can be attributed to the varied circumstances that challenge Manuel and Dado’s goal. However, the sofa is the primary determinant behind their movement; it can weigh them down, offer a space to rest, or get them in trouble. In any case, it is the sofa that determines Manuel and Dado’s mode of mobility: a combination of dwelling and travelling. The presence of the sofa itself is already representative of respite, a gesticulation towards dwelling. It also amplifies Manuel and Dado’s relationship, which signifies a stasis in human connection. In contrast, the necessity to put the sofa in motion calls for travel. This is the paradox of dwelling and travelling, which renders Manuel and Dado immobile literally and sociologically (figure 4). The next sections will explore the symbolic implications of the sofa and the 101
2-3. In Pinoy Sunday, Manuel (yellow shirt) and Dado (blue shirt) make the most out of their day with the goal to bring an abandoned sofa back to their dormitory. The duo employ motion to the sofa through walking, a hybrid vehicle, and a pushcart.
4. Manuel and Dado are rendered immobile amid movement due to the demands of the sofa.
mobile conditions it deploys to Manuel and Dado as migrant workers. IMAGINATION AND CRUEL OPTIMISM The sofa is a symbol of comfort. Even before Manuel and Dado’s first encounter with the sofa, the furniture has already plagued their thoughts. The night before Sunday, Manuel tells Dado that their dormitory rooftop would benefit from a sofa, following a dream sequence involving Manuel kissing his OFW crush, Celia (Alessandra De Rossi) (Pinoy Sunday 11:27-11:40). The next morning, Manuel and Dado see a billboard advertisement for a sofa, which prompts their individual desires: Manuel longs to lie comfortably with Celia, while Dado wishes to share the furniture with his family (Pinoy Sunday 14:22-14:45) (figures 5 and 6). When they finally get the opportunity to take a sofa back to their dormitory, Manuel’s imagination runs wild. Convincing Dado to take the sofa to their residence, Manuel performs a detailed monologue: Manuel: (in Filipino) Picture this. You’re back from work. You’re overly exhausted. So tired, you can’t even tell you’re tired. But it’s all right, you have a beer in your hand. Taiwan beer, but it’ll do. Ice cold! The entire rooftop to yourself, but something is different. 103
5-6. The sofa induces Manuel’s and Dado’s individual desires and affirms their autonomy through the imaginative faculty.
Something new. A couch! Sit, go on put up your feet. Now, look up. Not bad, eh? Night sky. Stars are sparkling. You ask yourself, “If that’s heaven I’m looking at, then where am I? Or, if I’m already in heaven, then what is that I see?” (Pinoy Sunday 28:50-29:52) The monologue details the comfort of inhabiting inherent to the form of the sofa. More importantly, this very potential elicits a kind of imagination that reinforces autonomy. In Gaston Bachelard’s phenomenological essay entitled “Shells,” the philosopher muses how the shell prompts imagination by virtue of its capacity to be inhabited (115). Similarly, the inhabiting impulse generated by the sofa is the antecedent to Manuel’s and Dado’s imagination. In the face of harsh living conditions and social exclusion, Manuel and Dado turn to imagination to transform their day-to-day lives. In imagining
his crush, Manuel is portrayed as a lover, and because Dado is more concerned with his family, he appears as an archetype of a father. It is because of imagination that Manuel’s and Dado’s individuality are fleshed out—an imagination that is evoked by the inhabiting capacity of the sofa. The furniture’s presence supplies the fullness of Manuel’s and Dado’s identities. The sofa, along with its inherent function to be inhabited, thus engages with their consciousness and validates their individuality even as diasporas in a hegemonic society. Manuel’s and Dado’s attachment to the sofa can, however, be dangerous and toxic. As an object of desire, it allures them by promising possibilities instantly and at present. It generates a kind of optimism, as evidenced by Manuel’s monologue, yet it is an optimism that involves an attachment to a significantly problematic object. This is the concept of cruel optimism, as coined by the scholar Lauren Berlant. She defines it as “a relation of attachment to compromised conditions of possibility whose realization is discovered to be impossible, sheer fantasy, or too possible, and toxic” (24). As persons who are cruelly optimistic, Manuel and Dado essentially complicate their individuality by placing themselves in a system of attachment, that which is essentially a neoliberal fantasy. A partial truth unfolds: Manuel and Dado are somewhat responsible for their struggle. Because of the sofa, they make the active choice to situate their mobility to the in-betweenness of dwelling and travelling by carrying the sofa back to their dormitory. One without the other crosses out the struggle to bring the sofa back to their residence, yet neither grants them the possession of the furniture nor aligns with the imagination and optimism they ascribed to it. Consequently, the two transform their mobility to a paradox that not only slows them down but also sets them in various situations that risk their stay in Taiwan—rendering them provisionally immobile in the illusion of movement.
In sociological terms, as soon as Manuel and Dado choose to be subjugated by the dialectic of dwelling and travelling, they compromise their mobility to a struggle where the goal, that which is “the good life,” is too good to be possible. This choice is made possible with the consent of their imagination; in translation, autonomy. Either Manuel or Dado could easily abandon the mission, but their imaginative faculty prevents them from doing so. Even more illuminating: both are well-aware that their fantasy is impossible. When Manuel gives up on the sofa, he says to Dado, “I lied. We’re not going to make it.” Dado replies, “I know” (Pinoy Sunday 1:06:581:07:11). The operation of imagination and cruel optimism in Manuel and Dado’s choice represents the reality in which migrant workers exercise their individuality in the face of oppressive, neoliberal social structures. These structures are next in discussion. STRUCTURES AND LIVING CONDITIONS While there is the acknowledgement that Manuel and Dado are autonomous in employing the dialectical mobility of dwelling and travelling, social structures are just as integral to the discussion in the lens of critical realism. According to Finn, “social structures have causal impact on the decisions of agents by means of restrictions, enablements, and incentives” (154). This, however, is not as simple as saying that social conditions pre-determine one’s actions; rather, it can be understood better as an environment wherein the human person is free to exercise their individual agency. Individuals can freely choose between conforming to or resisting the emergent properties of social structures. Finn clarifies this by saying that “persons retain their freedom, even though that freedom is exercised within the constraints that make some choices more costly than others” (152). In the neoliberal world, social structures create a kind of environment for migrant workers where dwelling and travelling become the most practical, albeit consequential, choice. These structures are there to contradict migrant workers’ desire for the 106
good life. The paradox of dwelling and travelling is essentially a mobility that emerges from the clash between the optimism of the imaginative faculty and the harsh living conditions established by social structures. Without the oppressive factor in these structures, migrant workers can maximize labor opportunities and the good life becomes a reality, which is economically detrimental to the host country whose goal is to temporarily take advantage of the bare minimum of foreign labor. In Pinoy Sunday, these social structures are manifested in three ways: foreign labor policy, media, and unwritten contracts. Although there are many foreign labor policies in Taiwan created specifically to constrain migrant workers’ mobility, Pinoy Sunday underscores the weight and implications of curfew. Minutes after the movie begins, viewers are immediately introduced to the disappearance of Carros Romeo (Nor Domingo), an OFW who went into hiding to avoid deportation. In Manuel and Dado’s conversation, Manuel explains that Carros must have exhausted his three strikes for missing curfew (Pinoy Sunday 2:20-2:45). Later, Dado sees Carros being chased down, handcuffed, and arrested in a mall (Pinoy Sunday 18:19-18:44) (figure 7). Equally prominent is when Manuel is locked outside the dormitory seconds before he could get past through the gate (Pinoy Sunday 7:47-7:56). Such scenes function as foreshadowing devices for Manuel and Dado’s eventual demise. Because of the sofa, Manuel and Dado fail to get back to their dormitory by curfew and are consequently deported in the end. The curfew is symbolic of the entire foreign labor policy in Taiwan that constrains the movement of migrant workers by governing their labor with the intent to generate struggle. Media also plays an important role in hegemonizing migrant worker mobility by deliberately Othering them. In Li Jung Wang’s cultural policy research, the author explains how Taiwanese mass media portrays migrant workers as criminals, even when their crime rate is lower than the Taiwanese’s (173). This is the same phenomenon 107
7. Carros Romeo is pinned to the ground and arrested for violating curfew regulations.
depicted in Pinoy Sunday. In a scene where a television reporter chases Manuel and Dado to interrogate their possession of the sofa, there is the intention to sensationalize their Otherness by criminalizing them. When the reporter finally gets a good shot of their “escape,” she turns to the camera, puts on a credible face, and says, “What is actually going on? Are we witnessing a robbery? And finally, what is it about this couch that makes these migrant workers risk their deportation over it?” (Pinoy Sunday 59:12-59:24) (figures 8 and 9) Instead of conducting further investigation, the reporter jumps to the speculation that Manuel and Dado are criminals who could potentially be deported. Moreover, the succeeding shots exhibit Taiwanese viewers from the comforts of their own homes, implying the omnipresent Taiwanese gaze of the public eye encouraged by the media that puts Manuel and Dado in a constant state of fear. Finally, unwritten contracts in Taiwan demand more labor from migrant workers than they should. Unwritten contracts are the extra conditions that certain jobs entail; these are the backdoor procedures that employers necessitate from workers to take advantage of their service. In Pinoy Sunday, unwritten contracts are especially demonstrated by the secondary characters, which detach from the narrative of the sofa to depict dwelling and travelling on more literal terms. Anna (Meryll Soriano), Dado’s love interest, is an example. In a conversation with Dado the night before Sunday, Anna tells him of
8-9. Manuel and Dado are chased by the media for their possession of the sofa. The reporter speculates an act of theft and a possibility of deportation.
how she is supposed to take a day-off from tending to a senior of the family she is working for. The next day, she goes to church and meets with Dado along with the senior. In this case, the unwritten contract of being a caretaker is working even during rest days. Anna: (in Filipino) I’m off tomorrow. What do you want to do? Dado: (in Filipino) (pointing to the senior) What about her? Anna: (in Filipino) They’ll probably be back by night. Dado: (in Filipino) How sure are you? Anna: (in Filipino) They better be. I haven’t had a day-off in two months. (Pinoy Sunday 5:24-5:40) This is similar to Celia’s situation, a domestic worker who is made to engage in sexual activity with her boss. The film even includes a short sequence to represent Celia’s lament, though ironically, 109
through song. Singing “Touch Me Tonight,” Celia is portrayed to submit her body to the authority figure (Pinoy Sunday 40:46-41:54). The lyrical intimacy of “touch me” in the song stands in stark contrast to how she is literally “touched” under the unwritten contract of her work, which takes away the autonomy behind what she is singing. Her individuality is validated in the lyric, yet its meaning is twisted and juxtaposed under the exploitative parameters of her work. This is a demonstration of the interplay between agent and structure that temporarily sustains the migrant worker mobility of dwelling and travelling. The implications of such are explored further in the next section. THE ONTOLOGY OF TRANSIENCE Pinoy Sunday begins with Manuel, Dado, and Carros arriving in Taiwan for the first time. Later, Dado uses the public restroom wherein he encounters a kababayan who is peculiarly handcuffed. While washing his hands, the man tells Dado, “I’m going home” ( 1:15). Once Dado steps outside, he sees the same man being escorted away by two policemen. This is a plant that sets up the reality of deportation, whose pay-off is ultimately realized through Manuel and Dado. To an extent, the two being exposed to the exile of their fellow OFWs is indicative of their self-awareness of the transience of their mobility. They know their stay in Taiwan is only temporary, and yet they continue to offer their labor to the host country as if they could make the most out of their work. The film is representative of migrant worker flows—particular to Taiwan, but also applicable to many diaspora nation-states across the world. Manuel and Dado’s escapade with the sofa is largely emblematic of the situation that most migrant workers find themselves in. The denouement is especially crucial: Manuel and Dado enter a dreamlike state where they sing “Laging Tabi (Always Together)” while the sofa is drifting peacefully through the stream
(figure 10). They wake up the next morning, with half the sofa submerged underwater and having realized that they missed curfew (Pinoy Sunday 1:12:56-1:15:42). In their fantasy, the sofa represents “the good life”; in reality, it is no more than an impediment to fulfilling their dreams—a materialization of their immobile position. Ultimately, they abandon the sofa on the stream (figure 11). Manuel and Dado have expressed their desire to go home multiple times throughout the entire film. The only thing that has stopped them is the neoliberal fantasy elicited by the sofa. Manuel calls attention to the sofa being a “gift of God.” While this is connotative of a blessing, it is also indicative of a kind of fatalism—the only thing that the sofa can promise to Manuel and Dado. The providence: the sofa is meant to be discarded, the neoliberal fantasy shattered, their position as a migrant worker left behind. The modern world is constructed in a way that migrant workers are not meant to find footing in the host country. Their state of being as diasporas is meant to be transient. The sofa is not unique to Manuel or Dado; their adventure is a symbolic narrativization of the migrant worker mobility of dwelling and travelling. Its appearance is not a random occurrence; it is a creation of the diasporic subject and social structures that determine a mobility of dwelling and travelling. One may argue that if chance had not allowed the protagonists to get their hands on the sofa, the two would have lasted in Taiwan and they could have most likely avoided deportation. Regardless, as long as the reciprocal relationship between the imaginative faculty and social structures are in operation, there will always be a similar situation not only for Manuel and Dado, but for migrant workers in general. The fact of the matter is, dwelling and travelling is an oppressive kind of mobility constructed for the modern, globalizing world.
10. “The good life” only exists in the imagination of Manuel and Dado. By drifting through the stream, the sofa here facilitates the mobility of Manuel and Dado instead of rendering them immobile.
11. Manuel and Dado abandon the sofa on the stream, indicative of forsaking the neoliberal fantasy that they believed for so long.
On the whole, dwelling and travelling is a mobility manifested in the paradox of stasis and movement that renders migrant workers provisionally immobile. To dwell and to travel simultaneously is essentially analogous to “not going anywhere” while “going somewhere.” In terms of migrant flows, this translates to situating workers in a neoliberal fantasy where economic opportunities are made desirable in the imaginative faculty yet living conditions in reality are harsh. It is a conundrum fabricated in such a way that labor becomes contractual and temporary. The logic is simple: the host country benefits from foreign labor, but on unequal terms on part of the migrant workers, who are restricted from acquiring citizenship, receiving benefits, or feeling like they belong in society. Accordingly, they are eventually made to return to their home country while it continuously exports workers who will undergo the same trajectory. In a literary study by Hope Sabanpan-Yu, the researcher argues that “diaspora should not be seen as static but as a provisional position” (181). Pei-chia Lan asserts the same, though in a more critical light: in the “guest worker” system, there are “quota controls and other rules that render migrants transient and immobile” (108). Unless there is some permanence in their work, migrant workers are not made to last long in the host country; hence, their mobility is always temporary. This ontology of transience can be perceived in two ways. On the one hand, migrant workers’ provisionality is detrimental to their economic welfare since they cannot sustain their jobs for long. On the other, it is an opportunity for them to go home and turn their backs on their lives as migrant workers. CONCLUSION In a world that is increasingly riddled by neoliberalism, migrant workers have yet to find their place. It may seem like migrant workers can optimize globally economic and cultural opportunities as diasporas, but many find themselves more disenfranchised than they previously were. Pinoy Sunday depicts a diasporic mobility 113
unique to migrant workers. This is the dialectic of dwelling and travelling, a paradox that renders these workers immobile through the reciprocal interplay between the imaginative faculty and social structures. Migrant workers maintain the optimism to achieve an economically stable life, yet social structures—some of which are made manifest through foreign labor policy, media, and unwritten contracts—continue to bring them down. There is the tension in which imagination and reality clash, and migrant workers are kept under the influence of this neoliberal fantasy until their imagination runs dry, when they realize that the good life might be too impossible. Their struggle is temporary, but at the expense of their labor and at the advantage of the host country. They go home when employers have exhausted their labor, and as soon as they return to their home country, a new group of workers is set to go through the same situation. By reading into Pinoy Sunday with sociological intent, one could recognize diasporic realities that have been exploiting migrant workers. While the struggles faced by the common migrant worker can be avoided by reinforcing workers’ autonomy, this does not erase the fact that working conditions can be oppressive. It follows that social structures bear more responsibility for the very reason that they are designed to marginalize laborers and take advantage of their imagination and optimism. Pinoy Sunday urges viewers to be critical with the kinds of mobility that social structures deploy upon migrant workers, including the paradox of dwelling and travelling. It demands policymakers, government leaders, and changemakers to amend the power imbalance in the relationship between agent and structure in migrant worker flows. One must have the privilege to exercise their autonomy without the hindrance of harsh social structures as well as the transience they subscribe to. Finally, Pinoy Sunday invites local and global citizens alike to challenge the system that perpetuates migrant worker oppression and rethink how foreign labor regulations are crafted and implemented.
Works Cited Bachelard, Gaston. The Poetics of Space. Translated by Maria Jolas, Beacon Press, 1994. Berlant, Lauren. Cruel Optimism. Duke University Press, 2011. Boas, Taylor, and Jordan Gans-Morse. “Neoliberalism: From New Liberal Philosophy to Anti-Liberal Slogan.” Studies in Comparative International Development, vol. 44, no. 2, June 2009, pp. 137–161., doi:10.1007/ s12116-009-9040-5. Chen, Tzu-Chin Insky. “Making Southeast Asian Migrant Workers Visible in Taiwanese Cinema: Pinoy Sunday and Ye-Zai.” Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review, vol. 9, no. 1, May 2020, pp. 234–267., doi:10.1353/ ach.2020.0005. Clifford, James. Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century. Harvard University Press, 1997. Cohen, Robin. Global Diasporas: An Introduction. 2nd ed., Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2008. Finn, Daniel. “What Is a Sinful Social Structure?” Theological Studies, vol. 77, no. 1, 2016, pp. 136–164., doi:10.1 177/0040563915619981. Lan, Pei-chia. “Legal Servitude and Free Illegality: Control and Exit of Migrant Workers.” Taiwan: A Radical Quarterly in Social Studies, vol. 64, 2006, pp. 107–150. Pinoy Sunday [台北星期天]. Directed by Ho Wi Ding, NHK / Changhe Films, 2009.
Porpora, Douglas. “Four Concepts of Social Structure.” Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior, vol. 19, no. 2, 1989, pp. 195–212., doi:10.1111/j.1468-5914.1989. tb00144.x Sabanpan-Yu, Hope. “The Burden of Globalization: Diasporic Dimensions in Peter Bacho’s Cebu and Elaine Castillo’s America Is Not the Heart.” Kritika Kultura, vol. 35, Aug. 2020, pp. 180–193., doi:10.13185/KK2020.03510. Sills, Stephen, and Natassaja Chowthi. “Becoming an OFW: Renegotiations in Self-Concept Among Filipino Factory Workers in Taiwan.” Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, vol. 17, no. 2, 2008. Urry, John. Sociology beyond Societies: Mobilities for the Twenty-First Century. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2000. Wang, Li-Jung. “The Formation of ‘Transnational Communities.’” International Journal of Cultural Policy, vol. 11, no. 2, 2005, pp. 171–185., doi:10.1080/10286630500198179.
Bitter Soil* Juana discovered the tree on the outskirts of Hacienda Isabella during the harvest season of 1745, while other towering trees began to bow with the weight of ripe, golden fruits and rain leaves all over the plantation’s muddy grounds. Day hadn’t yet broken when she decided to walk to the Del Valle manor, leaving the hut she shared with four other cooks to wander into the stretch of land beyond the rice paddies and banana stalks. She’d awakened to hunger pains and a dry throat, and wanted to pluck a fruit from a tree before an encomendero could catch and whip her. This was one of the first rules she learned from Aling Nena, who’d imparted her wisdom over a pot of boiling coconut oil. “Watch out for the whippings,” she said, “they’re worse than what your mother could’ve ever given you at home. Just keep your head bowed.” For a seemingly endless expanse of plains and trees, the hacienda was uncompromising. Early morning light trickled through a thick canopy of leaves. Juana ached for the barangay of Santa Cruz, where she used to eat the fruits of Hacienda Isabella without fear, and her brother Manuel used to return to their nipa hut with baskets spilling with fresh fish and mangos. To Juana, there was nothing better than feeling her teeth slice through the sweet fibers or her lips pucker at the taste of a barely ripe fruit. She looked forward to the days when she would cook small feasts for their home of five, sometimes inviting other girls and boys from the neighborhood to share the chickens she gutted with knives, and the fruits of Manuel’s labor. Manuel always ate more than everyone else, and sometimes whole meals would pass without him saying a word.
published in Strange Horizons (2020). Podcast version read by Kat Kourbeti.
It was on a night like that when Juana last saw him. Nanay, Leon, and Maria were asleep on their cots. A rustling outside woke her up, and she rolled out of her hammock to find Manuel’s empty. She found him sitting by the door of their hut, carving into a block of wood with a machete. Even though he was only two years older than her, Manuel had arms and hands browned from tilling the hacienda fields and the slouch of an old man. They talked quietly of nothing in particular, careful not to let their family hear through the bamboo walls, with Manuel slicing wood and keeping his fingers dangerously close to the blade. When he turned his wrist, Juana noticed the calluses on his hands and the sheathed bolo resting against his leg. There was a mark on his arm in the shape of a sun. “What’s that?” Juana asked. Manuel had been working at the hacienda for months now, but there were some things he refused to talk about. “Just a wound,” he said. Juana knew he was lying. He wasn’t looking at her. The mark on his arm looked too dark to be old blood. Manuel caught her staring and finally spoke. He filled up the dead air with how the orange sunrises greeted him during the picking seasons. He and Isay, another farmer, would wake up early to see them, and chuckle whenever the rich Spanish family who owned the hacienda spoke Tagalog in a funny accent, during the few times they descended from their mansion to speak to the encomenderos. How he, Isay, and their friends would drink after a long day in the fields. He left the next morning without a goodbye. Weeks passed and no one in Santa Cruz knew what had become of Manuel, not even the old women who gossiped at the daily masses Juana attended. The few pesos her mother was making while washing Jesuits’ robes weren’t enough for the old men who ran the rice granaries of Laguna. Juana, Leon, and Maria had to stop attending the Jesuit school in the center of town, and soon Juana became tired of cooking the same meals over and over again, flavorless without the spices she would have spent on. They had felt hunger before, after her father had died, driving Manuel to work as a farmer. But the hole in her stomach felt deeper 118
this time. Perhaps Manuel’s disappearance was a betrayal. Had he left them for Isay, or decided to keep his bounty of fruits in the hacienda? Juana understood why her brother might want to leave them behind, for she often thought of doing so, too. One afternoon, after burning the small fish she was able to catch from the nearby creek, Juana held her mother’s hand and proclaimed she would go to the hacienda herself. That was six days ago. As Juana now treaded the forest floor, she thought about how much of Manuel’s stories were true. Other kasamas refused to speak about him. It was as though Manuel’s name were a dirty word, the kind that Juana would go to confession for. Maybe he did elope with Isay, or become a tulisan on the slopes of Mount Makiling. She found herself in the clearing. A circle of muddy ground surrounded a single tree, isolating it from all other forms of life. It was shorter than all the other nearby trees and no taller than Juana’s thin, brown shoulders, with a trunk that was twisted and gnarled like that of a balete tree. Juana held the single bulb that dangled from one of the twiglike branches and rolled it around her palm as though it were a gem. How strange, she thought. She had never seen such a crop—not in any of the markets of Santa Cruz she used to frequent or on the hacienda. The fruit had the texture of old skin and shared the color of chico. Peeking out from the peeling rind were clear, gelatinous berries, and Juana’s mouth watered at the sight of them. Would they be as sickly sweet as lansones or sour as tough mango fibers? Could she dice and drop them into the frog stew she and her fellow kasamas slurped daily, sweetening the dreary brew into something akin to ginataan? Perhaps Manuel might’ve known its name. The clanging of distant bells interrupted her reverie. It was time to head to the kitchens of the Del Valle mansion, where the encomenderos would no doubt be awaiting their first meal of the day. Juana let go of the fruit. * 119
The Del Valle family owned the hacienda, but Aling Nena was certainly the lord of the kitchens. Juana and the other cooks scrambled around while she barked orders in swift Tagalog, concocting a melody of foods for the encomenderos: tablea chocolate, lumps of rice cakes, sausages, nuts, and pristine eggs. Juana would have been afraid of her, but she knew that Aling Nena was like jackfruit—full of spines and hardness but sweet inside. It was Aling Nena who clothed her in an old muslin dress and showed her around the plantation. Yet like the jackfruit, Aling Nena kept her secrets. When pressed about Manuel, her old, yellowing teeth formed a grimace. “Who knows?” she said. “Nobody knows what goes on here anymore. All we do is put food in our bellies.” By the time the food was delicately placed on china plates, the encomenderos were lounging in the mansion’s high-ceilinged comedor, puffing on cigars and pink-skinned from the Philippine heat. The air was thick with smoke and cologne. Paintings of pale men adorned the comedor. Don Esteban Del Valle sat at the head of the table. According to the women of the kitchens, he was only in Hacienda Isabella once a month, as he had a larger mansion in a faraway town fit for him and his insulares family. He was a robust man whose mustache bobbed as he spoke in Spanish to the men around him. They scarcely glanced at Juana when she set their meals before them. Juana strained to decipher their speech as she and the other cooks stood with their backs to the walls. “Are they still difficult?” Don Del Valle asked. “Who?” said Don Perico, through a mouthful of meat. “Them.” Don Del Valle gestured his cigar to the wide window that overlooked the hacienda fields. Juana could barely see the kasamas toiling in the fields. From afar, they looked like ants. Don Arcos, whom Juana had seen stalking the fields of the hacienda, drummed his sausage-like fingers on the table. He was a stout man with a cotton-white beard. “You know how indios are. Indolente. Sometimes I catch a man sleeping under a tree, and sometimes men count rotten fruit when we take stock of the harvest. Like all children, they need a beating or two. But no, they haven’t been 120
difficult since August. They’ve learned to fear my men.” August? Juana thought. That was the month Manuel left. Without warning, someone spat with gusto. It was Don Santiago. He’d coughed out a wad of sausage, bright red and mangled. It was still raw. His eyes bulged behind gold-rimmed spectacles, and his hair was greasy with sweat. “Which one of you is responsible for this?” he said. There was silence. Aling Nena had her hands clasped so tightly together that her knuckles had whitened. She was the one who’d thrown the necklace of sausages into the fire. The impact had left a burn on Juana’s arm, as she’d been working beside her. Now the fresh red welts on Aling Nena’s nape peeked from under her dress collar. Juana saw her tremble for the first time. Another moment of stillness. Juana stepped forward and felt her mouth go dry. “It was me,” she said. She did not dare look at Aling Nena. Don Arcos grunted and stood up, picking up the lash he’d set on the floor beneath him. When he pulled the sleeves of Juana’s dress to expose her shoulders, she wanted to cry, run back to Santa Cruz, and hide in her mother’s arms. Arms crossed to protect her chest, she tried to keep track of the lashes. One. Two. Three. Four. Each one fell with a crack. Each time, Juana felt a sharp pain shoot through her spine. The men continued smoking and eating, but Don Santiago watched with a glint in his eye. Once it was finally over, she was dismissed back to the kitchens. The other cooks weren’t permitted to leave until the men had finished their breakfast. Juana took shelter beneath one of the tables and pressed her hands to her wounds, finding blood trickling down her fingers like oil. Her shoulders wouldn’t stop shaking. Aling Nena returned not long after and put her arms around Juana. “You foolish child,” she said. Juana broke into quiet sobs while another cook named Feliza pressed a water-soaked rag to Juana’s wounds. The other cooks gathered around. Feliza hugged Juana too. Juana buried her face in Feliza’s hair. “Those bastards,” Feliza said. “I’m so sorry, Juana. You don’t deserve this. No one deserves this.” 121
Aling Nena laid her hand on Juana’s head. “Thank you, anak,” she said. Feliza held Juana’s face in her hands. “You should come with us,” she said. She told Juana that she and many other kasamas would be meeting on Sabado evening to talk of revolution, change. Kilusan, as she called it. “Come with us. Help us fight back.” The other women in the room began to whisper in agreement, while Aling Nena inhaled sharply. “Feliza.” “What? She can think for herself. Surely she knows how wrong this is.” Fight back. Juana recalled the stories her mother had told her of men taking up arms in Batangas, setting fire to their masters’ houses, and raging over barren hills. Did Feliza mean the same? Juana didn’t respond. Tears were still falling. Feliza touched her hand. “Eleven tonight at the biggest hut. Just follow me. We can tell you about your brother, too.” * The rest of the week passed without incident. Juana and the women cooked for the encomenderos every day, soaking their hands in oil, flour, and chicken blood. Juana’s tears dried, but her wounds were slow to heal—she felt them sting whenever the cloth of her dress pressed against her skin. Whenever a dish lacked a vital ingredient, Juana was sent out to the fields to retrieve it. The way to and from the mansion was long, but thankfully paved with dirt roads. Men stooped over rice paddies and stations to continue their harvest—a cycle of bending, gathering, and shifting. Flies hovered over carabaos. The air was hot and unforgiving. Straw hats shaded the kasamas’ faces, and pants were rolled up to avoid mud. As Juana anticipated that night’s meeting and finally learning what had become of Manuel, the hours crawled by. Curiosity ate away at her like a termite. Juana was crossing a rice field when she heard shouts from behind her. A young man with a rough sack across his shirtless back was 122
having words with an encomendero. The encomendero was stern and spoke Tagalog with a thick accent. “You’re not getting any more rice or money from me. Get back to work.” “Letse. You’re killing us,” the young man said, turning around and spitting on the ground. The next thing Juana knew, the young man had been grabbed by the collar of his shirt. A fist slammed into his stomach. The blow was so strong that he crumpled to the ground. The farmers in the fields looked up with fear. Juana bit her lip and picked up the pace. She didn’t want to be caught staring. * That night, Juana followed Feliza through the small forest of workers’ huts with a torch lighting their way. The hut Feliza spoke of was made of nipa and cogon grass, full of warm bodies illuminated by firelight. The mat on the floor crumpled under the attendees’ weights, and once Juana and Feliza had sat down, Juana looked up to see the young man she’d seen hurt that afternoon. He was in the middle of a rousing speech, and all eyes were glued on him. His name was Amado, and he was a handsome man with a high forehead and a set jaw. He wore a red bandana around his neck, and his hair and face was streaked with dirt from a day’s work. He stood proud and tall over the other workers, pounding his chest and speaking in a booming voice. “Every day the fields yield sacks of rice and tiklis of fruits, but where is our share? What do we get for feasting on the fruits we picked? Whippings and beatings. We can’t leave because of our debts. Four reals a month cannot feed a man or his family or satisfy the debt. The system is violent and must be stopped with violence. Though we must be wiser this time; we cannot let what happened last time happen again.” He slammed his fist in his palm and murmurs of agreement rippled throughout the room. He went on to detail a plan, to which more voices began to chime in and patch the scheme 123
together. The Don’s family would be arriving soon, and they would strike under cover at night, slitting their throats. The insulares would die screaming and the hacienda would be the first indio plantation. The bolo knives and daggers would be stored in Amado’s hut. While the men fleshed the plan out with more details and proclamations, Juana scanned the hut for Manuel. He was nowhere to be found. Tuba was passed around in coconut shells, and as the kasamas drank from it, the air seemed to lighten. Laughter and cheers began to fill the hut alongside talk of revolution and violence. Juana felt her muscles relax. Everyone wore happiness well. In the haze of alcohol, Juana approached Amado. After introducing herself, she said, “Feliza told me you might know what became of Manuel. He was my brother.” Amado’s machismo fell away. His eyes clouded, and he took Juana’s hand. “Follow me,” he said. He led Juana through the trees she had wandered through just a week before. The hacienda looked different in the darkness—the sheer number of trees created a maze, while cicadas chirped and fireflies danced. Bats looked like fruits hanging from trees. The Del Valle mansion lights winked in the distance. “So you’re Juana,” Amado said. “Manuel always spoke fondly of you and your cooking. Your brother was a good man.” “If he was a good man, then what happened to him?” Juana asked, picking up her pace to match Amado’s. His arms were crosshatched with scars, and a bolo was strapped to his waist. “Please tell me. I came here to look for him. Did he leave with Isay?” Amado shook his head and swore. “So no one told you. Very well, then. We tried to take the hacienda last August. It was my father’s idea—that month no one was receiving coins, the rains wouldn’t stop, women were being hurt, and we were starving. It would have taken us ten lifetimes to pay off each of our debts. We spent many years praying for God’s help or a bountiful enough harvest, but neither came. So fifty of us branded ourselves with the symbol of a sun and swore an oath under St. Isidro, and we marched to the mansion one morning with spears and knives. But the encomenderos had guns. I 124
saw the bullets rip through their chests and heard them screaming like beasts, so I fled. Like a coward.” He shut his eyes and hung his head. Juana felt the air turn heavy with anger and sorrow. “That night Don Arcos rounded up every man and woman here and we saw piles of what were once men, barefoot and limp, loaded in a cart with flies flying over them. I saw my father’s eye being feasted on by maggots. The Don told us to remember that sight; remember it and never take arms again. This is what God does to fucking sinners. He and his men dug a hole in the ground and made us watch each body fall.” Amado put his hand on Juana’s back, and she felt her stomach sink like a stone the second he said: “Juana—your brother was one of those bodies. They buried him here, beneath that tree. Isay, too.” They’d arrived in the clearing with the lonely tree and its circle of mud. Juana felt a sharp pain in her chest and dropped to her knees. Amado was saying something, but she could not hear him. Manuel was gone. Manuel, who'd cared for her all her life. Manuel, who'd taught her to fish in the creeks and told her bedtime stories. Manuel, who'd fought to put food on her table, and to live. Her fingers clawed at the dirt. She wanted to dig him out from the ground and hold him and shout and cry until the entire hacienda heard, but nothing came out from her mouth besides labored and tired breaths. * Juana spent the next few days foraging for flowers for the unmarked grave. Mango flowers, ylang-ylang, kalachuchi, and champaka now encircled the base of the tree, and Juana found herself praying to St. Isidro, day and night, for the eternal repose of Manuel’s soul and for the chance at receiving her salary at last. Aling Nena noticed Juana’s swollen eyes and gave Juana more kitchen work, thinking that it would distract her from staring into space and crying like a child. Amado sometimes visited Juana’s hut to invite her to more midnight meetings. She accepted them and helped the men coat their blades with rust. She wondered when she could return home and tell her family the truth. Perhaps she could steal a fruit or two, just like Manuel did. 125
She took more walks through the trees, flowers in hand. She couldn’t help but imagine how he must’ve felt in his last moments, charging at armed men with a sharp bolo and a fistful of rage, the wave of bullets and the agony of death. Juana laid the flowers by the tree and knelt to pray a novena for the dead. Once she had finished, she gazed up at the fruits. She plucked one from its stem, but just as she was about to sink her teeth into it, she heard a rustling from behind her. A man had emerged from the trees. Don Santiago. Juana’s heart thumped with fear. “What do we have here?” he said, closing the distance between them. “Perdón, senor,” Juana stammered. “I just wanted some breakfast.” She wanted to run, but she was frozen. She had not yet changed into her kitchen clothes, and could feel the breeze through her thin night dress. Don Santiago’s gaze would not leave her exposed legs. He took the fruit from her hand and bit it. Its juice dripped down his chin and he licked it without shame. “Ah. You’re the girl who I had whipped. I remember you.” Prayers came to Juana’s mind and left in an instant. She felt his hand rest on her bare shoulder. He kneaded her skin and leaned in close, but when she pushed him away, she felt a brutal punch strike her stomach. The breath was knocked out of her, and the don pushed her down on the ground. His hands pulled her hair and shoved the hem of her dress up, and as she screamed a hundred nos and helps she tried to keep her legs together, kicking and attempting to resist his weight and break free—until suddenly the don’s hands found his throat. His eyes bulged like a fly’s, and his skin turned blue. He gasped for air, choking, frothing blood at the mouth, unable to speak. Juana crawled out from underneath him and watched as a spasm overtook his body. He crumpled to the forest floor and made no more sounds. The fruit lay next to him, crushed by his palm during his anguish. Juana slowly began to breathe again, and picked up what remained of the cursed fruit. Its berries glistened in the sun, but now her mouth was dry.
Her mind went blank. Her feet carried her back to the tree, and she picked more fruits from their stems, cradling them in her palm before placing them in her pocket. She left Don Santiago where he belonged—in the dirt, exposed to the elements. When she returned the next morning, his body had disappeared, as though it had been swallowed by the bloody earth. * News of Don Santiago’s disappearance spread like wildfire. On the day before the Del Valle family’s arrival, Don Arcos rounded up every kasama and cook on a patch of land near their homes. Everyone was ordered to take their hats off and watch as guardia civil searched their huts. They stood uneasy in a line of bowed heads. A uniformed man emerged from Amado’s hut. In his hands were two rusty bolos. Don Arcos dragged Amado from his spot in the line and spat on his face. The men who tried to stop the don were shot in the head. Juana wanted to step forward like she had for Aling Nena, but Feliza held her back with a firm grip, and the terror of her encounter with Don Santiago washed over her like a wave. A rope was hung around Amado’s neck and strung around a tree branch. Juana watched, her belly ripped open with horror, as Amado’s strong legs danced in the air and his neck snapped after a slow few minutes. A torch was set to the wall of Amado’s hut. The nipa erupted in flames, crackling like laughter. No one spoke. There was nothing else now. * Later that night in the crowded kitchen of the Del Valle mansion, Juana prepared the simplest food she knew: rice. Sifting the pot of white grains and feeling granules between her rough fingers. Boiling water with salt. Patience and attention. Juana then took a knife and disembowelled the fruit, separating the peel from the pulp and
crushing the berries into a juice that smelled of sweat and dirt. She mixed it into the rice bowl tinged with rosemary and lemongrass, hoping that the herbs would mask the smell of death. She reveled in the power her hands now had—how easily it came. Juana opened the doors leading to the comedor herself and served the fruit-tinged rice on each of the encomenderos’ china plates. She waited with her back to the wall, patient and eager to see their mouths taste their fill of blood and dirt.
artist statement for ipinagpapaliban muna ang pakikibaka Paumanhin, mga kasama, at mukhang maisasapanganib ang kapayapaan ng aming hapag-kainan, ng aming tahanan kung makikilahok ako sa pakikibaka sa lansangan. Ngunit, pangako. Hindi ito magtatagal. Hindi ako makukuntento kung hanggang sa internet na lamang ako makikialam.
Kevin Castro. ipinagpapaliban muna ang pakikibaka (1). Digital Photography. 4000 x 6000 px.
Kevin Castro. ipinagpapaliban muna ang pakikibaka (2). Digital Photography. 4000 x 6000 px.
artist statement for 24 mins. Twenty-four minutes of pretending In this space At this time This is my freedom.
Rey Arriola. 24 mins. Digital. 2150 x 4000 px.
Lars Michaelsen V. Salamante. Dugo ang Unang Kulay ng Bahaghari (series) I. Tanghaling-Tapat sa Mendiola. Digital photography. 1646 × 2481 px.
Lars Michaelsen V. Salamante. Dugo ang Unang Kulay ng Bahaghari (series) II. Dapit-Hapon sa Marikina. Digital photography. 2520 × 3776 px.
artist statement for Habits Getting rid of bad habits and building better ones has truly been rewarding for me. Sleep more. Meditate daily. Eat healthily. Don’t forget to take breaks. I started seeing changes everywhere and I’m very grateful. There is also value in self-care most especially during difficult times!
Angelo C. Ramos. Habits. Photo-painting. 2400 × 2400 px.
artist statement for Terrarium This piece serves to document my feelings as I’m deprived of true privacy by the very design of my own home. I see you and you see me, whether we want it or not.
Kevin Castro. terrarium. Digital Photography and Photo Manipulation.
artist statement for One thousand origami dresses One thousand origami dresses attempts to reclaim the memory of the one thousand Filipino Comfort Women by appropriating 千羽鶴 (senbazuru—the Japanese tradition of folding 1000 paper cranes in exchange for a wish). Few comfort women are still living but they continue to fight as the Japanese government refuses to apologize and continues its attempt at rewriting histories of violence. I spent three and a half months making one thousand origami dresses—and as an act of solidarity, guests were invited to participate by taking a dress, writing a wish or a prayer for the Lolas, and hanging it up on a structure.
Yuri Ysabel Tan. One thousand origami dresses (process). Interactive Installation. Dimensions Variable.
Yuri Ysabel Tan. One thousand origami dresses (installation view). Interactive Installation. Dimensions Variable.
Yuri Ysabel Tan. One thousand origami dresses (installation view). Interactive Installation. Dimensions Variable.
Yuri Ysabel Tan. One thousand origami dresses (installation view). Interactive Installation. Dimensions Variable.
Yuri Ysabel Tan. One thousand origami dresses. Interactive Installation. Dimensions Variable.
Mga May Akda
Jerome Allen Agpalza (2 BFA Creative Writing) Si Jerome Agpalza ay isang manunulat na tubong Tondo. Ngayo’y naninirahan sa Quezon City, kasalukuyan niyang tinatapos ang kursong BFA Creative Writing sa Ateneo de Manila University. Makikita ang iba pa niyang mga tula sa heights at Ateneo Art Gallery. Atlas For Kids ang una niyang librong napagtripan. Cat Aquino (AB Literature-English 2020) Cat Aquino is a writer, educator, and cultural studies researcher who wants to combat the unjust and make sense of the unexplained through fantasy, horror, magic realist, young adult, and historical fiction. She is a former bookstore employee for Fully Booked, a grade school Philippine history teacher at Immaculate Conception Academy, and the Associate Editor of the heights Ateneo 2018-2019 Editorial Board. She received the 2020 Loyola Schools Awards for the Arts in Creative Writing (Fiction), the 2020 University of Sto. Tomas National Writers Workshop fellowship for short stories in English, and the 25th Ateneo heights Writers Workshop fellowship for fiction in English. Her works have been published and are forthcoming in by Berghahn Books, Strange Horizons, Rookie Magazine, University of the Philippines Graphic, The GUIDON, Anak Sastra, and Ampersand. cataquino.net Rey Arriola(1 BFA Information Design) Rey is a first-year information design student and digital artist. He hopes to hone his skills and gain experience to better convey his thoughts through his work. He plans to create and share more personal pieces in the future. Kevin Castro (4 BFA Information Design) Kevin looked the gift horse in the mouth and the guy who got him the horse was like, “Are you f***ing kidding me?” and used his horse magic to get the steed to bite Kevin’s finger. Kevin held it together, 147
then he didn’t. He bleeds for his work, and he’s hoping to heal through his work instead. Iago B. Guballa (6 BFA Creative Writing, AB Communication 2020) Living imaginarily under truthful circumstances (i.e. delusional). Stanley Guevarra (2 AB Literature-English, Minor in Global Politics) “Hey wind, is it around here still? / That loneliness that was born right here / Of when I went away without saying anything / Please blow this way.” — Yuta Orisaka, “Loneliness” (Translation by Danilo Tuzita) Angela Lanuza (2 BFA Creative Writing) As a child, Angela fashioned novels out of poorly stapled bond paper. Currently, she dreams of building a career in making sense of the real (and projecting her experiences into fictional characters). John Joseph D.J. Gabata (3 BS/M Applied Mathematics with Specialization in Mathematical Finance) Sumusulat upang makapiga ng kahulugan mula sa kaguluhan. Ryan Gabriel B. Suarez (1 AB Development Studies) Kasalukuyang kumukuha ng kursong AB Development Studies, pinapangarap ni Ryan Gabriel maging isang manunulat para sa bayan, patuloy na lumilikha at patuloy na lumalaban. Jerome Matthew l. Maiquez (2 BS Environmental Science) sobrang validating kamo ‘pag natanggap sa folio ‘yung tula mo, kahit isang beses lang. feeling mo, part ka na ng isang top-secret world of literary aficionados. feeling mo, malaya ka nang ipagkalat sa buong mundo mga pinagsususulat mo, kasi alam mong sang-ayon ang mga eksperto, ang mga may good taste, sa bawat like sa tweet o ig post mo. kaso, in my experience, parang droga ang validation. kailangan ng isa pang hit. kaya ito ako, dumudulog, na parang opioid addict sa ospital. parang awa niyo na, isa pa.
Mirick Paala (BS Management Engineering, 2013) Kasalukuyang tinatapos ni Mirick ang kaniyang MA sa Malikhaing Pagsulat sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas – Diliman. Dati na siyang naging fellow sa Ateneo at UST National Writer’s Workshop. Lumabas na rin ang kaniyang mga akda sa mga sumusunod na publikasyon: TLDTD, Katitikan, Talas, Revolt Magazine, heights, at Katipunan Journal. Andrea Posadas (2 AB Communication) There’s merit in writing for yourself — it’s free of inhibitions and prejudice. This is one thing Andrea has learned from her 13 years (and counting) of writing experience. Yes, the aspiring author does not just gush over her favorite K-pop groups; she has also loved to write since childhood and now runs a WordPress blog for her short stories, poems, and essays. She hopes to become a New York Times bestselling novelist one day and have her words touch people’s hearts, one story at a time. Angelo C. Ramos (2 BS Management) Angelo Ramos was born in Quezon City on March 6, 2001. He is currently in his second year of studies towards a Bachelor’s of Science in Management. He is a scholar and is currently a member of the sector-based organization Ateneo Gabay wherein he also plays the role of being a layout artist for its Publications department. In 2020, he took an interest in graphic design as well as in UI design and has produced a variety of passion projects including his very own printon-demand store online. Even while having online classes, he is still improving on his skills in designing and aspires to contribute and become a part of the automobile industry in the future. Amiana Joy S. Saguid (1 BS Chemistry) Si Amiana Joy S. Saguid, 18 taong gulang, ay kasalukuyang isang freshie sa Pamantasan ng Ateneo de Manila. Nag-aaral siya ng kursong BS Chemistry at naniniwala siyang nagtatagpo at nagsasalitsalit ang mga akademikong disiplina sa realidad dahil gayon ang kaso ng sining at agham. Para sa kanya, hindi hadlang ang pag149
aaral ng agham para sikaping hasain ang kanyang kasanayan sa sining. Simula nang bata pa, nagsusulat na siya ng mga kuwentong pambata (na ginuhitan ng mga larawan) at nang lumaon, napadpad siya sa isang pang-agham na sekondaryang paaralan. Dito niya natuklasan ang mundo ng mga tula. Wala mang pormal na karanasan sa pagsusulat, maipagmamalaki niya na minsang nakatulong siya sa isang proyektong kawanggawa sa pamamagitan ng, hindi salapi, kundi pagsusulat ng iilang tula at pagguhit ng larawan. Lars Michaelsen V. Salamante (3 AB Interdisciplinary Studies, Minor in Literature-English) Lars is a storyteller across the stage, in print, and on screen. As an Interdisciplinary Studies junior, he is currently taking his formal training in theater, media studies, and literature under his mentors Guelan Luarca, Jerry Respeto, PhD, and Nikki Carsi-Cruz. For the past two years, he has worked ceaselessly in a wide range of capacities and formats for the Areté, Loyola Film Circle, Ateneo ENTABLADO, heights, Mokoa Animation, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines. In 2021, his adaptation of George Orwell’s novel “1984” was staged by Tanghalang Ateneo, his photographs featured and auctioned in the exhibits by the Supreme Court and Teach for the Philippines, and his plays mentored during the 26th Ateneo heights Writers’ Workshop facilitated by Rody Vera. Yuri Ysabel Tan (BFA Information Design 2018) "Love makes us." ~ Lee Taeyong Yuri (pseud. chen youli) is a visual artist and photographer. They work primarily with scanography, image-text hybrids, and mixed media as they have a greater affinity for concept rather than form. Central themes in their work include body politics, domesticity, and memory. Yuri’s works have been published in heights Ateneo and ARTCONNECT Magazine. They have also been featured in Young 150
STAR, Inquirer.net, and Japan Times. See more of their work on their instagram: @cyl.lychee Paolo Miguel G. Tiausas (BFA Creative Writing 2013) Si Paolo Tiausas ang may-akda ng chapbook na my heart is an edge / ang puso kong hiwâ (self-published, 2019) at ng mga koleksiyong Lahat ng Nag-aangas ay Inaagnas (self-published, 2020) at Tuwing Nag-iisa sa Mapa ng Buntonghininga (UP Press, darating sa 2021). Nailathala na ang ilan sa kaniyang mga tula sa Likhaan: The Journal of Contemporary Philippine Literature, Voice & Verse Poetry Magazine, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Kritika Kultura, The Philippines Free Press, at iba pa. Katuwang niyang patnugot si Nikay Paredes sa TLDTD (www.tldtd. org), isang biannual na online journal para sa mga tula at makatang Filipino. Rei Warren (3 BS Legal Management) Let this serve as a written time capsule that at this point, I am beginning my journey as a late bloomer to anime, desperately trying to keep my potted herbs alive, managing mini heart attacks from Canvas notifications, fighting (and succumbing to) the urge to space out all day, dealing with an unusual amount of family drama, dealing with the usual amount of self-deprecation, losing grip on love, pouring anger with words, and little by little, learning to pick myself back up everyday.
Pasasalamat Fr. Roberto C. Yap, S.J. at ang Office of the President Dr. Maria Luz C. Vilches at ang Office of the Vice President for the Loyola Schools Dr. Leland Joseph R. Dela Cruz at ang Office of the Associate Dean for Student Formation Dr. Josefina D. Hofileña at ang Office of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Dr. Jonathan Chua at ang Office of the Dean, School of Humanities Dr. Priscilla Angela T. Cruz at ang English Department G. Martin V. Villanueva at ang Department of Fine Arts Dr. Gary C. Devilles at ang Kagawaran ng Filipino Dr. Allan Alberto N. Derain at ang Ateneo Institute of the Literary Arts and Practices (ailap) G. Ralph Jacinto A. Quiblat at ang Office of Student Activities Bb. Marie Joy R. Salita at ang Office of the Associate Dean for the Student and
Gng. Liberty P. Santos at ang Central Accounting Office G. Regidor B. Macaraig at ang Purchasing Office Dr. Vernon R. Totanes at ang Rizal Library Bb. Carina C. Samaniego at ang University Archives Bb. Ma. Victoria T. Herrera at ang Ateneo Art Gallery Bb. Ma. Mercedes T. Rodrigo at ang Areté Ang MVP Maintenance at ang mga Security Personnel Dr. Vincenz Serrano at ang Kritika Kultura Bb. Angel Ramos, Marketing and Events Director ng
Teach for the Philippines
Bb. Ednalyn Lebrino, Bb. Issa Yang, Ms. Carol Estudillo, 2018 Teacher Fellows ng Teach for the Philippines Bb. Kristine Nuyda, Instructional Coaching Manager ng
Teach for the Philippines l
Bb. Danielle Margaux R. Garcia at ang The GUIDON
Bb. Caila Noche at ang Matanglawin Ang Sanggunian ng mga Paaralang Loyola ng Ateneo de Manila,
at ang Council of Organizations of the Ateneo - Manila
At sa lahat ng nagpapanatiling buhay ang panitikan at sining sa komunidad ng
Pamantasan ng Ateneo de Manila sa pamamagitan ng patuloy na pagbabahagi ng kanilang mga akda at patuloy na pagsuporta sa mga proyekto ng heights
Patnugutan Editor - in - Chief Zofia Lyne R. Agama [ab lit (eng) 2021] Associate Editor Alyssa Gewell A. Llorin [bs aps-mse 2022] Managing Editor for External Affairs Giane Ysabell C. Butalid [ab ec-h 2021] for Internal Affairs for Finance
Justin Nicholas C. Barbara [bs mis 2021]
Nathan Myles U. Lim [ab ec 2021]
Art Editor Clare Bianca F. Tantoco [bfa am 2021] Associate Art Editor
Justine Clarisse S. Valdez [bs ch-mse 2023]
Design Editor Giulia Clara R. Lopez [bfa id 2022] Associate Design Editor
Patricia Grace R. Fermin [bfa id 2022]
English Editor Jose Antonio D. Carballo [ab lit (eng) 2022] Associate English Editor
Stanley Triston Y. Guevarra [ab lit (eng) 2023]
Filipino Editor Cydney Maegan M. Mangubat [bfa cw 2022] Associate Filipino Editor
Bernardine B. de Belen [bfa cw 2022]
Production Manager Cesar Miguel V. Fabro [bs ch 2021] Associate Production Manager
Paul Stanlee V. Añonuevo [bs mis 2023]
Heights Online Editor Gianna Paula T. Sibal [ab com 2022] Associate Heights Online Editor Simone Andrea L. Yatco [ab socio 2023]
Head Moderator and Moderator for English Martin V. Villanueva Moderator for Filipino Christian Jil R. Benitez Moderator for Art Alfred Benedict C. Marasigan Moderator for Design
Tanya Lea Francesca M. Mallillin
Moderator for Production
Micah Marie F. Naadat
Moderator for Heights Online Regine Miren D. Cabato
Mga Kasapi Art
Lucas Abaya, Mika Alvear, Jude Buendia, Kimiko de Guzman, Regina Due, Pilar Gonzalez, Andrea Isaac, Kevin Javier, Yuji Los Baños, Ana Lucia Pineda, Alexa Denise Salcor, Carla Saludes, Rachel Maxine Tan, Lance Teng, Stel Zafranco
Design Tricia R. Alcantara, Eli Alconis, Alfonso Arellano, Kessa Avila, Ven Bello, Lia Datiles, Carmen Dolina, Sarah Huang, Anya Nellas, MJ Sison, Justin Dhaniel Tan, Trisha Tan, Mia Tupas, Dagny Eran Yenko English
Ma. Arianne Aleta, Cat Aquino, Alexie Cruz, Ariana Gabrielle S. Domingo, Gayle Dy, Sophia Alexis E. Escarez, Harvey Felipe, Alexandra Glorioso, Maria Angela D. Lanuza, Marty R. Nevada, Ysabel Nicdao, Andre Noel D. Pandan, Andrea Posadas, Nina Respicio, Trisha Reyes, Bea Pauline V. Salcedo, Patricia Sarmiento, Lyle Surtida, Madeleine Sy, Lance Teng, Justine Tiongco, James Tiu, Andie Villegas, Nigel Yu
Jerome Allen Agpalza, Iggy Bunag, Benzi Castro, Angela Cole, Rouella Danao, Frances Joson, Maria Larga, Iva Magsalin, Jerome Maiquez, Psy Panaligan, Mikaela Adrianne Regis, Fide Ramos, Nina Romero, Lars Salamante, Joaquin Santana, Lulay Santiago, Faith Santos, Ryan Suarez
Zianne Agustin, Ashlee Nicole L. Baritugo, Justine Borja, Maria Carmela Cabanos, Brianna Louise M. Cayetano, Louise Janelle Dimalanta, Cad Dionco, Alexis Nicole Ferreras, Mariana Gardoce, Sofia Guanzon, Angelika Portia Lapidario, Robert Kwan Laurel, Lindsey Therese U. Lim, Bianca Mallari, Arnold Manuel Rillorta, Aisha C. Said, Faith Santos, MM Silverio, Psyche B. Villanueva, Charles Bernard Yuchioco
Julia Carpio, Kelly Daphne Y. Choy, Gabrielle Christina A. Cortes, Bettina Coz, Natania Shay S. Du, Mariana Gardoce, Hazel Lam, Arnold Manuel, Maiko Aira Ng, Aletha Payawal, Allianza O. Pesquera, Tamia F. Reodica, Kenzie Sy, Jacob Tambunting, Andrea Tibayan, Kristine Torrente, Iya Zafra
the 26th ateneo writers workshop February 25 and 27-28, 2020 Online: Facebook, Zoom Panelists Rodolfo Vera Christine V. Lao Dr. Edgar C. Samar Gabriela Alejandra Dans Lee Dr. Conchitina R. Cruz Dr. Jose Y. Dalisay Jr Vincenz Serrano Eliza A. Victoria Martin V. Villanueva Fellows Maria Angela D. Lanuza [fiction] Shelby Ann Ortega Parlade [nonfiction] Marie Clarisse Z. Cabinta [poetry] Samuel Franklin Tan Gomez [fiction] Stanley Triston Yap Guevarra [fiction] Mary Justine B. Tiongco [fiction] Nina Gabrielle J. Collado [fiction] Pilar Augusta Andrea H. Gonzalez [fiction] Gabriel John C. Ceballos [poetry] Andrei Narciso [nonfiction] Natania Shay Solon Du [nonfiction] Annette Alexis Marie L. Andal [maikling kuwento] Jerome Allen C. Agpalza [tula] Lars Michaelsen V. Salamante [dula] Workshop Director Gewell Llorin Workshop Co-Directors Lucas Abaya Sola Fide Ramos Workshop Deliberations Committee Ms. Carissa Pobre
Ms. Bee Leung Ms. Christina del Rosario Mr. Jonnel Inojosa Ms. Carissa Natalia Baconguis Mr. Jerome Flor Workshop Guest Lecturers Ms. Catherine Lianza A. Aquino Mr. Glenn Diaz Ms. Daryll Delgado Workshop Committee [programs and logistics] Lindsey Lim, Ignacio Bunag, Sean Carballo, Ryan Suarez [design and programs] Julia Carpio, Maiko Ng, Tamia Reodica, Tricia Alcantara, Justin Tan, Harvey Felipe [documentations] Rachel Tan, Andrea Tibayan, Kelly Choy [lectures] Cesar Fabro, Bianca Mallari, Brianna Cayetano Finance Nathan Myles U. Lim Online Gianna Paula T. Sibal Simone Andrea L. Yatco Workshop Moderator Martin V. Villanueva Christian Jil Benitez Head Moderator Martin V. Villanueva
The Second Regular Folio for AY 2020-2021. Heights is the official literary and artistic publication and organization of the Ateneo de Manil...
Published on May 20, 2021
The Second Regular Folio for AY 2020-2021. Heights is the official literary and artistic publication and organization of the Ateneo de Manil...