Heights seniorsâ€™ folio 2011 Copyright 2011 Copyright reverts to the respective authors and artists whose works appear in this issue. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced in any means whatsoever without the written permission of the copyright holder. This publication is not for sale. Correspondence may be addressed to: Heights, Publications Room, mvp 202 Ateneo de Manila University, p.o. Box 154, Manila Tel. no. 426-6001 local 5088 heights-ateneo.org Heights is the oYcial literary and artistic publication and organization of the Ateneo de Manila University. Book and cover design by Jose Fernando Go-Oco Typeset in mvb Verdigris
Seniorsâ€™ Folio an anthology of seniorsâ€™ writing and art 2011
Contents Kyra Ballesteros 3 An Uprooting
Tasie Cabrera 15 I think. I think I think. I think of you. 16 Ramon Enrico Custodio M. Damasing
[May himig ang gabi na ayaw kong malirip] Habang Nahuhulog ang mga Katawan 21 Sa Mga Huling Araw 23 Tina del Rosario 25 Scars
Paolo Deyto Wish
Joven Angelo Flordelis 43 Pamamaalam 44 Miggy Francisco 49 Hunger 50 Perpetual Motion
Jose Fernando Go-Oco 61 Sense of Sight 62 Tulang Nagtatapos Sa Simula
Rachel Valencerina Marra 65 Mother, Forgive 66 The Conductorâ€™s Morning Prayer Pusali 69 Kuwentong Kulot 70 Jolens 79 Kakang Gata 91 Sarah Liliana Z. Sarmiento 101 Da Carpenters 102 Michelle T. Tan 113 The Librarian
Maria Amparo Warren 119 Alamat ng Ampalaya 120 Vessels 122 Halima Lyssa Al-Taie 125 End of Days 126 Then We Play 127 Andrea Marie Bautista 129 Mary 130 Owl 131
Jamie Bauza 133 Dream Catcher 134 Dream Weaver 135 Jose Alejandro Dolosa 137 Sugat
James Magalong 141 Pag-uwi 142 Untitled 143 Neil Palteng 145 Supling
Mark Perez 149 Yellow Sidewalks
Ria Rigoroso 153 Anatomy of a Poem Anatomy of a Poem Fog 156
Analyn Lao Yap 159 Generations 160 Of Hearts and Hands 161 Saturday Repast 162
Introduction March is always a strange month in the university: the cafeteria becomes less crowded, and less students throng the walkways and halls. The campus looks more deserted than usual, palpably feeling the absence of roughly two thousand students who will have graduated and received their diplomas by the time these words are read. More than anything, March is a strange month for these two thousand, a time when all academic and perhaps, extracurricular responsibilities are fulfilled, and many things are no longer necessary, say, for example, the simple act of setting foot on campus. It is a month for doing things like writing letters or setting meetings with favorite professors, turning over org positions, attending job interviews, all of these, perhaps, marked with the feeling that it is necessary to get used to, and even understand, the necessity of change. Not that we aren’t already used to this – this graduating batch has seen the transition from the Old Lib (no couches!) to the New, the feeling of walking on red brick where there once was gravel, the disappearance of Meron Pond and the various smockets, the phasing out of styrofoam and plastic containers in the cafeteria, Typhoon Ondoy (and its repercussions on our academic and personal lives), the building of Leong Hall and the introduction (or in fact, departure) of various personas in the administration and faculty rosters, including the positions President and Vice-President of the Loyola Schools. And so on — We could look at the works collected in this volume as testaments to the changes of these past four years, and perhaps, all the changes that have taken place in the lives of each artist and writer in this volume. On a very academic level, they show us an evolved (and evolving) aesthetic consciousness, challenged by the prospect of exploring different themes and techniques. I think that this is too academic a treatment, however: it’s always difficult to separate art and writing from the personal. The context from which we come informs our Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · vii
writing; loosely, this is the context of being an Atenean that is still nuanced and transformed by the disparity and variety of our personal experiences: or, in short, change. In one way or another, all these works hint at different forms of change: maturity, understanding, the passage of time, and many more. You could also say that perhaps what is more interesting about the works featured here is that they show, above all, a kind of constancy: a determination and loyalty exhibited by the writers and artists in the collection to practice their craft. It doesn’t matter anymore whether this love for art had been present even from childhood, or whether it was something that was cultivated within this university. What matters is that this, writing or creating art, is something that has been a constant in their changing contexts and changing lives and that, through this volume and perhaps, other means, they are able to share it with you. And this, ultimately, is the invitation we’d like to extend through this volume: to see how these various writers and artists, all students, have witnessed, in a very concrete way, the changes in their life and craft thus far, one last way of addressing and welcoming the changes that the end of March will bring. Tina del Rosario March 2011
viii · Introduction
Kyra Ballesteros ab communication / minor in creative writing
lles lives two tricycles and a jeepney ride away from the Ateneo. This piece is for the family she was given (Ma, Pa, & Jon) and for the family she found (Jamie, Peep & Ruby, Gail, Camille). This piece is for Paolo Tiausas, with whom she shares everything, including this space and these words.
An Uprooting His name was Lito Cingko and he wasn’t afraid of the shed, unlike his classmates. Three boys huddled behind the cracked glass windows of their classroom, waiting to see if Lito disappeared in the crack in the earth that swallowed old Celio Pasig.1 The boys said the land on which the old shed stood, behind the fifth grade boys’ bathroom, had been the last to be cleared of trees. They said the twisted, stubborn trunks were dense with moss and spider webs. The fire wouldn’t catch; the wood wouldn’t burn, so the construction workers sharpened axes. They mined for great roots and Celio became entangled in the sprawling limbs until he tripped, fell in loose soil, and disappeared. The teachers knew no better and could not denounce the rumors. The children of the construction workers who attended the school had all asked their fathers, who merely shook their heads and shushed them, telling them to concentrate on their lessons instead of exchanging pointless rumors. The canteen manang, wife of a construction worker, likewise remained mum.2 Therefore, the fifthgrade boys voiced their own outlandish speculations until Celio Pasig was an engkanto, a kapre and a dozen other things, besides. Lito pushed open the door of thin sheet metal. Much of what had been the roof, pieces of broken shingles and corrugated metal had been set aside in a surprisingly tidy pile. A breeze from the other side
They say the earth received him. Her name was Teresa. Every day, she boiled rice for her army of school children; she heaped meat into their mouths. When Charing Pasig died, her husband came home; he said he needed a shovel for Charing’s body. Again, her husband returned and she washed his shirt, scrubbed the persistent red mud until the white cloth was stained with blood from her own swollen fingers. The laborers had helped Celio bury her body. In bed, her husband was stiff and uncomfortable until she wormed her way to his side, propped her head upon his shoulder, stuffed a hand between his legs, finally warming him to her touch.
4 · Kyra Ballesteros
of the shed blew dust into his face, the mismatched planks left gaps between them; he smelled chicken feathers, old wood, and moldy paper and, strangely out of place, freshly baked bread. The door opened to sunlight, seeping through the natural grove behind the elementary school, to a pock-marked room, half invaded by leaves. Where he imagined a deep hole in the ground, into which Mang Celio plummeted, there was only a patch of cement much like the rest of their school compound, except, farther back, natural red mud erupted from around a man buried up to his waist.3 His arms rested across his chest, laid on his stomach. A small pile of chicken bones and curdled pig fat lay in a pile beside him.4 Lito stared at him, unable to avoid Mang Celio’s closed eyes, his unshaven beard, the wiry hair. Patches of mold grew on his elbows and neck. His head lolled dangerously as he slept, propped up against the wall. Lito’s first instinct was to step forward and measure himself against the planted man. He stepped carefully over the dirt. He was only a few paces away from Mang Celio’s large arms. He had to hold his breath, the man smelled strongly of rotting meat; each exhalation, as he snored, brought on another choking gust. Lito breathed through his mouth and mildly tasted spiced pork, some bagoong. Lito stood beside him, at least three inches taller, when Celio Pasig yawned wide, turned his head and opened his eyes. Lito stepped back and fell over broken chairs, a stack of magazines, afraid of being trapped by Celio’s large arms, maybe eaten, afraid that he might start growing moss on his cheeks
Every day, the earth took another three inches or so; he kept sinking into the red mud he helped seal from the air and sun, burying the earth. When the other construction laborers milled around him, asking if he can wiggle his toes, he laughed. He asked for bottled water, something to eat and, after they had gone, he stood in the backyard of the newly constructed elementary school. The first few days, he forgot to request for shade so that he grew browner everyday and his skin slackened, hung like a coat on his bones, and became tough like leather. He only saw his hands now, his legs had disappeared.
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 5
the way Celio’s forearms were covered with small, bright green leaves sprouting from his skin, like downy feathers. Celio looked at Lito, eyes squinted, like he needed a pair of glasses. Lito stayed on his knees in an awkward half-crouch; to straighten up was insulting. Lito recognized it would’ve disturbed the shift in power between them. He respected the way Celio craned his neck towards his face, picking out details.5 As he stared back, Celio bent down, hands on the floor, neck held stiffly upwards, a stunted man, a stray dog. He pawed forward on his knuckles. Horrified, Lito bolted, imaging Celio Pasig on the street, chasing bitches in heat towards their white bungalow. To his friends, he said the shack was an animal cage; the ceiling had been torn apart by hard rain. He saw the bones of small animals, flesh picked off. He lingered inside where, strangely, he smelled freshly baked bread. But did he see the grave, they asked, scratching their arms and hands. They pulled his dirty white uniform, his urinesoiled pants. Grinning with malice, they asked, what are you going to wear tomorrow? Lito insisted the shed was empty except for the smell of bread, the rusted remains of metal, and their stories. He brushed off as much of the dust as he could; he was terrified of going home to his mother, but he sat at his desk and looked outside where the shed stood, finally, in shadow. Lito’s mother did not believe he found Celio Pasig, the construction worker that ran out of earth and sky.6 She banished him from
His daily encounters were limited to Teresa, only, who snuck him some bread, coffee and meat. Her husband, Roel, arrived angry. He showed her a thousand-peso note and ordered her to bring him beer. When she came back from the corner store, he was listening to the television. Celio Pasig buried himself today, he told her, this was the money he gave me to look after his wife’s grave. Roel was a good man, like Celio, but he knew that the dead took up space, required rent and lodging. He thought of his own death, his own funeral, how it would impose on the living. Celio’s hands were already half-buried in the soil when Roel caught him on a Tuesday afternoon, to tell
6 · Kyra Ballesteros
their house and into the street for the afternoon, without so much as a piece of bread until dinner. She boxed his ears, too, for his dirty clothes. Did he trip, she asked, as she bent over the plastic tub to scrub the red dust from his polo. The obstinate mountain grit stuck to cloth. He should be more careful, he will tear his clothes and his father didn’t make enough as a part-time laborer. Lito shrugged, regretting nothing. When his father, Roel, arrived from Marikina, Lito bit his lip, restraining his questions, because his father was in a foul mood. The bridge architect had decided to lay off ten workers caught lounging an hour after lunch. Roel, luckily, had been taking a piss when his friends were caught smoking on the unfinished beams of the third floor. It was a hot, March day; an angry sun bore down on them. No birds infested the sky. It was the sun, too, that soured their friendship. When Roel returned, his friends accused him of telling the architect. They didn’t believe him when Roel insisted he was guiltless. His father sat at the head of their small, rickety table, whose rust-rheumatic legs of bent metal shook when he drummed his fingers lightly on the wood. He bounced his fists on his knees and shook his head. Lito chewed his rice and the tough flesh of the fried rooster, head bowed. He didn’t know how to ask his father without inflaming his anger, when his mother, equally frustrated with the meager sales of their small sari-sari store, related his adventure. She said Lito met Celio Pasig, he tripped in the shack that must’ve sprung up around Celio, said Celio turned into a dog and ran after him. Lito couldn’t look at his father, avoided his eyes, the story ruined by his mother’s hard laughter.
him Charing was buried on alien land. Celio, who shrank to five feet, merely smiled, offering his empty hands up, already adept at begging for mercy or scraps. The construction workers built him a shed, to hide his eminent death and his decaying life. The elementary school grew up around him.
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 7
His father turned to him and asked if Celio Pasig had indeed turned into a dog, if he had grown canine teeth, if he barked and howled at children, now. Did he still eat like a man, his father asked, chewing rice and instant noodles. Lito said the shack smelled like bread, there were clean bones, and stacks of newspaper. His father nodded and waved him quiet, behind him the news began and Lito’s stories must wait until the fantaseryes. His father slurped noisily and his mother receded to the dirty kitchen outside; Lito was left alone, wondering what he saw, if Celio Pasig turned into a dog, if he had really been buried to his waist and started growing into a tree. He walked to school early to count the leaves growing on Mang Celio’s arms, to look at his teeth. In his shack, Celio buried the chicken bones. He was asleep when Lito knocked before pulling the door open. It had rained the night before, the mud crept up his damp shirt, but his face was clean and his eyes were clear when he watched Lito pull out a sandwich from his backpack. Lito figured he should come with something to offer in supplication. Mang Celio shook his head, offered a smile and yawned. Dew ran down his neck from his hair and beard. Lito looked around: in the early light, the shack looked homey but care worn. He noticed a thick sweater and a soiled pillow, and the chick nesting in Mang Celio’s hair, the worm that peeked from his left ear. Lito saw him pull his hands out of the soil, easing out tendrils of root-like-flesh. Mang Celio waved the sandwich away, he pointed to a crumpled pandesal paper bag and the tin cup next to a stack of newspapers. Celio pursed his lips, waiting. He didn’t look at Lito.7 Lito didn’t know what to ask. How are you growing leaves, he wanted to know, but he thought all things that grew had leaves of
He remembered Charing. It began with her hair. He noticed she tied it loosely so that tendrils of her hair fell across her forehead and the nape of her neck. The change crawled down her face – she started wearing brash, loud lipstick that lingered in the cracks of her chapped lips. She became restless, started to sing their old ballads. He only realized she was dying when she fit in one of her old dresses, after she colored her hair. She said she was watching her life flash before her eyes; she wanted to be part of it, again.
8 · Kyra Ballesteros
some sort. He dusted a spot on the floor, near the door, so he could hear the bell signaling the start of class. Lito said his father helped build this school, so he was brave enough to enter the shack when none of his classmates were. His father was a construction worker, the way he heard Mang Celio had been. He said the boys were all afraid to come near the shed, they think the hole was real, they were afraid that anybody could disappear so easily. Lito confessed he lied about him, but he knew Mang Celio preferred to grow in peace, like his father and mother, forever telling him to grow up and be still, silent.8 Lito squirmed in his seat. He asked, what does the sun feel like, how does sunlight taste, are you ever hungry, while Mang Celio arranged his face in a grin. When he spoke, his voice was deep but so quiet, Lito couldn’t hear the words, he latched onto the way Mang Celio held the tin cup expectantly. Lito fell to counting the leaves along Mang Celio’s arms; he even found a small, white flower growing in Mang Celio’s hair. Mang Celio motioned to someone behind him; the school canteen manang who sold the halo-halo and kakanin in the early afternoon was walking towards them with a ten-peso bag of pandesal and a tin of hot coffee. “So, you’ve been found out, have you, Celio?” She frowned down at him. He nodded, sipping the coffee. “Ikaw naman, Lito, you might be late for class.” Her frown deepened into dislike which hardened into anger, “And ask your father for me – when did he last go to the cemetery?”9 Lito shivered, affected by her venom. He looked at the
He had grown most in silence. The day Charing bled and lost their child, he sat stunned on the beam on the eighth floor of a Makati high-rise, his loose shirt flapped around him. Their life was meant to remain whole, in silence. Maybe, he thought, they had no more room for anyone else in their love. Teresa’s stacked her cheap romantic novels underneath their altar and she read them whenever she couldn’t sleep. When her husband related how Charing died, her burial and Celio’s madness, she united herself to his cause and considered herself an accomplice in his final act of self-sacrifice. She cultivated anger towards Roel who sabotaged Charing’s burial.
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 9
hands, dirty with mud. He looked away, certain he did something wrong, ashamed of his confusion. Lito shook his head, he didn’t know. After she left, Celio beckoned him forward to share the bread. Lito asked him how the earth felt – were there subterranean caverns with pockets of gold, did salted ground feel like desert? Instead of answering, Celio said querulously, each syllable laboring to escape his thick lips, the color of new bark; your father helped build this school, helped chop the trees and build the desks, he must have known Celio, was one of the people who erected the shack, probably took care to find the rough planks to build the walls and the heavily rusted metal roof. He shook his head, he didn’t know, his father never mentioned the accident. “My father,” Lito said, “asked if you had become a dog, if you had the sharp teeth, if you growled.” Celio exhaled as the wind shook the leaves, outside, there was only sky and red dust, and sharp shadows doused the hard, hot cement. Celio said, limbs cracking as he reached over to the pile of newspapers, I am probably as much a man as your father. Remind him, Celio continued, that I once had a wife, too; but I had to bury her and seal the ground. You mean she died, Lito interjected, confused. He didn’t know what the words meant; it was like trying to read a constellation of shadows, the patterns of leaves. Celio must have sensed his confusion, felt him thump the ground with his fists in frustration. Celio managed a laugh; he twisted his torso and stretched his spine before leaning back and taking a deep breath. “If you can’t remember what I said,” Celio grumbled, eyes half closed, “tell your father I know the earth, some of it, and I can’t feel her, I can’t find her. Ask him where my wife is.” The bell rang for class. Running back towards his classroom, he stumbled on a deep footprint in the cement. His father’s mood had improved; it was midday when Lito returned from school, sweating and tired, grateful for the leftover cola his father had stuffed in their icebox. Over sweet bread and biscuits, he said that Celio insisted he was still a man. Lito counted his fangs. Celio had none, his teeth were yellow and blunt. He couldn’t 10 · Kyra Ballesteros
growl, he wheezed, Lito explained. His father nodded, half-absentmindedly, trying to accommodate his son’s voice while listening to the radio, tuning out the screeching tricycles that raced over the rubber humps. Most of the houses were slumped forward, hugging the streets, leaning towards the mountain: when the wind blew down the tunneled street, doors and windows slammed, a hollow noise filtered through the houses. Even their bones vibrated and the dark mud rose towards the sky, balding mountain cast a sharp triangular shadow over the lowlands. Eyes on the sun, Lito asked where Celio’s wife was buried. His father chewed his tongue, pointed his lips at Lito, looked at him, unfazed. Mang Celio’s wife, his father said, died but he didn’t have the money to bury the body. But Mang Celio was a laborer, couldn’t he dig the grave himself, Lito asked, looking at their cups and saucers, the plastic utensils from fast food restaurants and the small coin dish his mother refills, his father empties. Lito discovered the dead eat land, drink water from the earth, they must live with the roots of trees and he understood how Celio must’ve looked for his wife with roots that spread underneath him, traversing the earth entombed in cement. He was a construction worker like me, I was like him, Lito’s father continued. But when his wife died, he lied to us. He said her body hardened into a seed that he buried in someone else’s earth, with another man’s dust, and he planted himself where he couldn’t escape, to be with her. We dug a grave for her, but Celio, himself, buried her just within the forest, in a small clearing. He planted himself and refused to surface. The landowner discovered Charing’s shallow grave. Lito tucked his legs underneath him, while his father patted his shirt and pants pockets for a cigarette. We had to dig her up, Mang Celio didn’t have the money, none of us did. We had to burn
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 11
Charing Pasig’s body, past the wood and up a small river, so Celio wouldn’t smell the flesh burning.10 His father scratched his head, squinted at the ceiling and paused to listen to a show tune. He propped up his foot on his chair, rested his chin on his knee, before continuing: the clearing smelled like pine needles and the ashes were red, like the Antipolo mud. His father turned back to the television as the news began, leaving Lito with no explanations. He wanted to ask his father: how much does it cost to pay for a death, is the earth only a giant tomb, where did the bodies go, did the earth have bones underneath its soil and, most importantly, was he only soil from the mountains, how many people died to give them mountains. But Lito clamped his mouth shut on his questions; he knew neither Mang Celio nor his father would answer. They never answered questions, he thought, they upturned the earth and found nothing but more earth, they probably disregarded people’s bones. Lito looked up at the sky and exhaled his questions. In the early morning of the next day, behind their classrooms, beyond Mang Celio’s shed, Lito snuck towards the edge of the forest, barefoot. He left his socks and shoes behind; he did not want them mangled in the undergrowth of tangled roots, the uneven ground. Lito tripped often as he hurried through the trees; sometimes, he turned back to keep sight of the buildings and the end of the world. He found a small clearing of tall grass and weeds. He scrambled, digging between the blades, dew and sweat mingled on his forehead, insects crawled down his shirt and he swatted away grasshoppers, black bees. He burrowed beneath the bright green leaves, his hands stained yellow, until he found brown soil. His nails were filthy, he rubbed them clean on his legs, he stamped his feet, his toes found cool earth. He dug, cupping fistfuls of dirt, unpacking the topsoil with his
10 Roel Cingko insisted that the ashes spread over the clearing that ascended in smoke when they expanded the elementary school complex to build the fifth grade schoolrooms. They cemented the earth until the edge of the denser, knotted wood.
12 · Kyra Ballesteros
scratched hands until the brown dirt was the dark, luminous red of the mountain earth. He dug deeper, dissatisfied, until even his arms were caked with earth and sweat. He took a fistful from the bottom, the earth closest to earth, and he walked back, breathing calm and steadily. He breathed in some of the light so that his eyes were bright and his hair shone. Lito found Mang Celio awake, covered in dew. He knocked before entering and, happy to have answered for his father, presented his fistful of red earth, his soiled arms. My father said, he began, that your wife became the mountain. Mang Celio didn’t smile. He patted the soil over his chest; it had begun to encumber his breathing. He motioned for Lito to arrange the earth around him. Carefully, Lito laid down as much as he could, chipping the earth off his skin. Mang Celio took a large fistful, his breath was ragged and tired, and he opened his mouth, packed the soil down his throat. His eyes bulged as Lito watched his neck disappear, saw the earth sluggishly creep into his body. Lito was frightened, Mang Celio’s great hands took yet more earth and his breathing grew shallow, labored, until Lito ran out of the shed, screaming about being buried alive. His classmates offered no solace, they laughed about his grimy arms, his soiled polo, the beating he was due later that afternoon, taunting until Lito shoved two fingers into one of his classmates’ mouths, asking if he wanted to join the man who fell into earth and tree roots, if he wanted to know the color of his own dust.11
11 When he got home, filthy and bloodied from fist-fighting, his father asked him what happened. He said Celio Pasig had stuffed himself with mountain earth. Maybe now, Lito reasoned, Mang Celio would feel his wife in the bowels of his own belly.
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 13
Tasie Cabrera bs psychology
Is intimately aware of what the world is like at 4 am. To life, to family, to friends, to science, to complex carbs, to people, to art, to personalities, to pets, to meta, to anti-histamines, to overthinking, to God. To cramming and inspiration. To triumph and stagnancy. To noise. To silence. I will always be your pupil.
I think. I think I think. I think of you. I. Ten minutes ago. I paced while I ate an orange. I paced while I ate an orange and I thought of you. The juice dribbled down my fingers because it was juice and I was clumsy. But I was careful. I sliced the orange open with precision. I sliced it open like you would slice a rare animal’s flesh or the packaging around an ex-bomb. The orange was perfect and my lines were perfect. The skin was porous and unremarkable, or what was it that I just said. I said. The orange. I cut it, I cut it into smiles and open mouths and perfectly. I ate it as I was walking around. There was juice on the floor and it made a line like a rule. A do not do that. A do this. Slowly. Perhaps. Don’t! I walked around and I thought of you, methodically, thought of you. I think I had to do that. I liked the orange and I liked the knife. I liked the slicing bit and I did not know where the juice had gone but I liked it. I don’t know if I like you. But I think about you. II. Five minutes ago. I was methodical about pacing. The orange was eaten and the juice had dribbled. The floor was a mess and the lines were scribbled where my pacing had rubbed them in. I thought of you. I thought of you. I thought only of you. I do not remember why there was the orange but I liked the orange.
16 · Tasie Cabrera
III. A minute ago. I should thank you for making me so careful. The knife was very sharp and the orange was handy. I almost carved in your name on the orange because the skin yielded so easily. I should thank you for making me so careful. The orange was sliced perfect. IV. Tomorrow. I think about you, I think only about you. I hope to see you soon. Maybe tomorrow. Tomorrow. Tomorrow I will run out of oranges.
Heights Seniorsâ€™ Folio 2011 Âˇ 17
Ramon Enrico Custodio M. Damasing ab philosophy / minor in literature – english
Lumaki si Monching sa Lungsod ng Cagayan de Oro. Lubos ang pasasalamat ko kina Sir Mark Cayanan, Sir Edgar Samar, Sir Allan Derain, Dr. Michael Coroza, Dr. Remmon Barbaza, at sa mga naging guro ko rito sa Ateneo. Sa Heights (sa Bagwisan (lalo sa mga dakilang sina Rachel Marra at Mike Orlino, at sa kapatnugot na si Nicko), sa eb ’10-’11, kina Mo, Momo, Rona, at Tasie, at sa lahat ng kasapi). Sa Block J. At kina Cat at Shek. Para sa lahat na hindi kayang magsambit at ipahayag ang loob sa iba.
[May himig ang gabi na ayaw kong malirip] May himig ang gabi na ayaw kong malirip. Baka tunog ito ng pagtatampisaw, o ’di kaya’y himig ng pagbabaliktanaw. Ikinukubli ng mga alon ang dalampasigan: kay layo, kay layo ng nilakbay ng liwanag upang iharaya sa aking katawan ang isang buntonghininga. Tahimik ang himig ng pagkubli. Pag-uwi ang inihihimig: tambog ng mga palad mo sa tubig, tinig kong nangangatal, mukha mong tumatanglaw na binasag ng isang kilapsaw. Kay lawak ng bughaw sa karit ng buwan. Kay pino ng buhangin na kinukuyom ko. Tila abo.
20 · Ramon Enrico Custodio Damasing
Habang Nahuhulog ang mga Katawan Habang nahuhulog ang mga katawan Maglalaho tayo nang panandalian, magiging anino habang nagkatitigan ang ating mata sa kanilang sementong mata. Manginginig tayo sa bawat pagliwanag ng langit. Habang gumuguho ang mata ng delubyo, paisa-isang nababasag sa sahig ang mga dalisay na mukha’t pakpak. Walang maiwiwikang dasal ang mga labi nating nangangatal, habang sinisimulang buksan ng lupa ang mga nakatagong sepulkro’t altar at iniluluwal ang nakaraan. Waring isang uri ng pagsilang ang paglanghap ng singaw, mata nating napapipikit, palad nating tinatapat sa isa’t isa. Yumuyukod tayo sa ating mga anino, sa hubog nating walang-muwang sa malaon nang pagguho ng ganitong mga sagisag. Tinititigan natin ang ating mga yapak na waring hindi sariling atin. Waring hindi atin ang ating mga luha. Nagsisimula tayong umutal. Mabigat ang ating paghinga habang binagtas ang mga kalye kung saan nakatitig sa atin ang mga durungawan ang mga ilaw-poste. Dinig natin ang laksa-laksang talampakan. Walang ibon ang dinaraanan nating mga puno. Sa isang kanto,
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 21
nakaamba ang mga uwak habang iniaawit ng isang baliw ang kaniyang nakaambang paglutang sa alangaang. Pilit niyang inaabot, iniaabot ang sariling langit sa atin nang gumuho ang nilililimang gusali. Kay tayog ng aking katawan, pahayag niya, bago naglaho ang kaniyang anino.
22 路 Ramon Enrico Custodio Damasing
Sa Mga Huling Araw Pinipigil natin ang ating hininga kapag sumasambulat sa gabi ang sanlaksang ibong tinatabunan panandalian ang ating mga anino. Tinatapat sa ating mga mata ang maitim nilang hubog, marahan nilang salimbay. Tanaw natin ang kanilang paglaho sa malamang mga ulap na unti-unting nababahiran ng abo. Patuloy ang kanilang pagsalimbay kahit hindi na sila kita, kahit nagaganap sa sandaling iyon ang pag-itim ng buwan. Ginaganap ang pagyao nila sa ating natatanaw, at bumabagal ang ating hininga. Kumukuyom ang marurumi nating mga kamay. Bumabagal at humihinto sa paghintay, sa pagsilay. Maitim ang langit nakaambang bumagsak.
Heights Seniorsâ€™ Folio 2011 Âˇ 23
Tina del Rosario bfa creative writing / minor in literature – english
Tina leaves the Ateneo with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Literature-English – and is hoping to be back next year. She has been a fellow in Creative Nonfiction to the 14th Ateneo Heights Writers Workshop and the 49th Silliman University National Writers Workshops. A recipient of the 2011 Loyola Schools Awards for the Arts, she has been published in the Philippines Free Press and the Ateneo Heights literary folio for both fiction and non-fiction. This is for the Heightsers (particularly the eb, Ria and Ace), who are some of the best and most talented people she has ever met; for MO2, Block E, the Katipfriends,and the OurPlace Club, for the many, many days and nights spent together; for some of the most inspiring people she has ever met (Martin, Ma’am Rica, Missy, Ma’am Beni, Sir Glenn, Sir Egay, Sir Krip, Sir Rofel, Sir Ray, Sir Bobby, Sir Pulan, Sir Mark); for all the fellows, panelists and persons associated with the 49th Silliman University National Writers Workshop. And especially for Glorie and Meg, the hamsterpoons, and Nico. She apologizes for struggling to find words adequate enough to express how she truly feels, but, for now – thank you.
Scars Of the many scars on my body, there is only one of which I know, in vivid and exact detail, its origin. It is a small dark spot on my ankle, directly above the slightly-protruding bone on all ankles. It is smooth now, although the mottled-brown color still remains to remind me of the time when, in the fifth grade, I cut myself on glass. It happened like this: I was lying on a couch, back propped up against one end and feet stretched out in front of me. My parents had taken my sister and I out from school early because we were going to attend the gala performance of a musical that night and we needed the afternoon to get ready. A book was in my hands; I was whiling away the hour or so left before we had to begin dressing. I wanted to shower before we changed because the day was hot and sticky so I decided to get up. I swung my legs over the side and the motion toppled a glass of water that had been resting on the floor. It shattered, and I raised my legs automatically, sitting cross-legged on the couch, calling out to ask for help. I waited, and after a few seconds, I noticed that there was something wet on the couch, under my legs. Perhaps water from the glass, so I rearranged myself, and noticed a tiny, tiny puddle of red, bright in the early afternoon, against the white fabric. I checked my thighs, my calves, and my feet â€“ and saw the spot on my ankle, weeping bright blood. I hobbled around the Cultural Center of the Philippines that night, with my ankle Betadined and bandaged. The little wound throbbed throughout the play, twinges of pain darting out of it every now and then, but the voices of Kim and Chris singing, the roar of the helicopter, the lone gunshot drowned it out. After some time, it hardened into a smooth little lump that when pressed, did not give and instead murmured in complaint. The white socks I wore to school covered it entirely, while the black patent 26 Âˇ Tina del Rosario
leather of my shoes curved under it. Nothing bore down on it but thin white cloth. The scar was just there, sitting on my ankle, quietly, but there was nothing particularly quiet about what was happening inside and outside my body, the body that sheltered it. It was hidden and remained that way. As early as then, we were being told to make ourselves ready for the confirmation that would take place in the next school-year. We had to be free from sin, our Religion teacher said. Our souls had to be clean and pure for when we were anointed with the holy oil. The thumb of the priest would bear down on our foreheads, one small stroke downwards and another to intersect the previous. It would be a mark only God could see. It wasn’t difficult to understand because of the lessons that had been drilled into our heads about invisible marks in religion: how each sin, for example, was a black smudge on our souls. Indelible was the word she used today. And I took that to mean that, similarly, only God could see that my soul had long been blackened by mortal sin. It was already difficult for me to go to confession even before this talk of marks. I went inside the cubicle knowing that I was lying when I said, That’s all, Father, at the end of a long litany of sins that involved lying to my parents, fighting with my brother and sisters, gossiping about a friend, cursing. Because how was I supposed to put into words things related to s-e-x? That I had peeked through my hand when a particularly passionate kissing scene was on, in the movie I watched with my parents? Even more, how could I say that I had felt something strange, a twinge of something I couldn’t identify, when I had seen the male lead’s hand rest right under the female lead’s breast? That, years earlier, I had flipped through a stack of folders an uncle had kept in his room and had read things that I would later come to know under the collective term “pornography?” And that I had kept coming back to
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 27
read them, because they were both interesting and strange at the same time? How was I supposed to tell Father Magsino these, when I was only eleven years old? I couldn’t. So I was silent. I remember praying extra Hail Mary’s and Acts of Contrition for a time to try to atone for what I couldn’t say, even knowing that this wasn’t allowed. It was cheating. What they taught us in confession, ever since the beginning was that you had to tell the priest everything or it wouldn’t work. But I couldn’t, and I knew that every single confession I was making was invalid. Knowingly withholding a sin was grounds for invalidation of the sacrament – and that also meant that sin could not be removed from your soul, and you couldn’t take communion. But I didn’t stop – I remember going to confession like clockwork, every two weeks with the rest of the class so my classmates and teacher wouldn’t think anything was wrong. It was the same with communion: I went to appear like everyone else, like a normal member of my family, and the congregation. If I did not move from my seat in the pew when the time came for me to walk up to the priest and receive absolution, the Body of Christ, I was certain that they would think the worst of me. I knew it never worked, not once, and every time I emerged from the little room or took the Body of Christ into my mouth, the guilt bore down on me, deepening the mark that the mortal sins I had committed, and was continuing to commit, had left on my soul. The fact that only God and I could see it didn’t make it any less important – it was still there, and it made me different from everyone else, a difference I felt strongly even if others couldn’t. I was not like the children of Fatima, or Marcelino with his bread and wine. The children of Fatima were different because Our Lady had appeared to them and revealed three secrets to them. The sun had danced because of them! Marcelino had brought bread and wine to a man on the cross, in a dark attic, every single night, because he looked hungry and thirsty. To Jesus, and Jesus Christ rewarded him for the pains he
28 · Tina del Rosario
took to show compassion to a statue. I knew, you see. I knew that children could be holy, and that I was not one of them. This knowledge grew to bother me; it was always at the back of my mind, persisting in its existence, even until my confirmation, which was a year and a half later. We were all in immaculate white that day, dresses with collars that circled the hollow of our throats, and sleeves that ended in lace trim an inch past our wrists. I remember walking up the aisle to face the bishop and feeling the hem swish against the outside of my ankles. I remember the gentle slap that we had been warned about, and the feel of his thumb, wet with oil, making the sign of the cross on my forehead. I remember Paula wearing too much make-up and I remember that droplets of sweat appeared on my neck, staining the collar the lightest of greys. Most of all, what I remember about that day is that I felt like a hypocrite. That day was different. That day, three different things warred in my body: the stain of mortal sin, the purifying Host and the indelible mark that was supposed to distinguish me as a full Catholic. It was the dark element, the jarring element that shone through the effects of the white Host that had crumbled in my mouth, the oil that seeped through my skin. I remember walking around that day with heat in my chest, one that I hoped would not burn through my cheeks, because I was ashamed. It was for these reasons that I grew to believe that I was a bad person, that there was no doubt that I would go to hell after my death. There was nothing I could do to remove the mark of sin; on the contrary, it grew darker and more pronounced with every failed confession I made, with every single thing I could not bring myself to say to the priest, with every single Host I took into my mouth. And then another day came, a year or so after this, when I woke up to find someone touching me. I was unsure, I thought I was dreaming, but when I allowed my eyelids to open a crack, it was true, and he was someone I knew and trusted, and I was frightened, and I didn’t know Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 29
what to do, so I shut my eyes and hoped it would stop, and when it did, I got up and showered, and scrubbed myself clean of every single fingerprint, but it was still there, and it felt dirty, and I was warm with anger and shame and the knowledge that I had somehow caused it. I took the Baguio souvenir shirt, and the nondescript black shorts that I had been wearing and shoved them deep into the back of my sister’s closet, and when she discovered them a week or two later and began wearing the shirt around the house, I felt something in my heart twist violently, and the familiar warmth flush my cheeks every single time I saw her in the shirt. The next time it appeared on her pile of clothes, I took it, and hid it under a pile of shirts I had stopped wearing years before. It would be safe there, I thought, and the only physical reminder of that day, the only one I could get rid of, at least, would be gone. That year was difficult for a number of reasons, one of them being that this was also the year that lolo was in the hospital, to recover from a series of operations. We visited him often, and every time we entered the hospital room, there was sure to be any number of family members in there, composed of a combination of my lola, titos and titas. They started discussing scars, one day, perhaps brought on by the bandage that was wrapped around lolo’s neck. The scars would be minimal, Tita Suzette said, relating to the others what the doctors had told her after the operation, which would be strange for such a major operation. That’s a good thing, then, isn’t it? Mom asked. It is, Dad said. But it’s strange for such a big operation and a big wound. But – remember what the doctor said about her before? He motioned to me, and all the adults’ turned to look. Suddenly conscious, I looked up. Huh? When you had that accident when you were a little girl. Do you remember? You were on the exercise bike of the neighbors, pedalling really fast. And for some reason, you decided to stand up while you were pedalling, and you lost your balance. Then you fell, right on the metal bar. We had to rush you to the emergency room. 30 · Tina del Rosario
There was so much blood, Mom added. I was so scared! Because you were crying and you were telling us all that it hurt so much down there. The doctors told us that it didn’t need stitches, because the wound wasn’t very big, but that there might be scarring when it healed. I remember for a long time we had to give you baths with water in which medicinal plants had been boiled, to help with the healing. The doctors said there might be scarring? Might be, anak. And how I hoped, in that moment, that there was scarring! I remember thinking that I deserved it, I deserved to have a disfiguring scar, something that was concrete, a mark of violence done to my flesh. It was a fitting marker for what was in my soul, for how disgusting and evil and tainted I had become. I remember thinking that it would be a fitting punishment for me – if I could no longer be normal down there, then I was no longer normal for the rest of my life. In that one fleeting moment, the quick jumble of thoughts and ideas, I hoped that there was something that could show everyone that mattered how irredeemable I was, that I was scarred. The talk of marks had not ceased in my classes since the fifth grade. Earlier that year, I had learned in Literature class what a Doubting Thomas was. The term had come up in one of the pieces we had been studying and our teacher had us open the Bible to John 20: 24-25, which read: 24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe. That part was easy enough to understand – a “doubting Thomas” was the literal representation of the saying “Seeing is believing.” But then, because my teacher was a member of a religious order, and a particularly devout one at that, she took some time away from the discussion at hand to tell us the significance of Jesus’ scars. The marks
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 31
on his wrists and feet, she said, were important because they signified the agony he had suffered during the crucifixion. Imagine having thick nails driven through the flesh and bone of your wrists and feet, imagine your entire weight supported by your wrists, imagine His suffering. Think of the blood and water that spilled out of his side, pierced by a lance â€“ think of the unnecessary brutality of stabbing a man in order to ensure his death. Think of enduring all of these tortures, in order to save, sanctify the human race. These were all important factors of our faith, she said, which is why our image of Christ is always the suffering Christ, as he was on the cross, bloodied flesh torn, wounds that would never develop into scars. It was a Sunday when we visited Lolo, and we left the hospital early, because I had school the next day. Lola had arrived a few minutes before we left and so, there was no time to catch up, only time to say goodbye. I remember hugging her, delighting in the smell of her perfume and the soft skin of her arms, and I remember what she said to me right before we left: Always be good, okay? Even if I know you already are. And something about it was so different, perhaps the certainty in which she said it, perhaps the strangeness of the reminder, perhaps because what she said was radically different from what I felt, but at that moment, guilt engulfed me, and I almost cried in front of everyone. I will, Lola, I said and my voice was thick with the effort of holding everything back. I pretended to be asleep on the drive home to Manila, burying my face in a bundled up jacket, so my parents could not see that I was crying. Before we went home, we attended Mass first, and it was here where I made the first honest confession, where I was brave enough to put into words, what had happened. I remember telling the priest that I had committed a sin of omission by failing to stop what was happening, that day. I remember waiting, holding my breath, in case
32 Âˇ Tina del Rosario
he told me that he could not absolve my sins, that he was bound by duty to refer the case to the bishop before allowing me to fulfil the sacrament of penance, and the few seconds seemed like an eternity. Then he said, “Just be careful about these things. God wants you to do that. Your penance is five Hail Marys.” And so, I went to the Blessed Sacrament and prayed five successive Hail Marys. I attended mass, and took communion – but still didn’t feel right about it. It wasn’t real, I thought. But on the other hand, I was forgiven for it – and that counts, doesn’t it? I thought it did. Through the next few years, there were instances much like those that plagued my fifth-grade self, and I allowed myself to confess generalities, telling the priest that I had impure thoughts or evil thoughts. I was always relieved, ecstatic even, when they did not add questions that required me to go into specifics. I could keep things hidden, unnoticeable, and still be forgiven for them. It was a strange coincidence that, in my fourth year of high school, during a particularly trying time, I came home one night to see my youngest sister wearing a shirt printed with cartoon drawings of strawberries, and Camp John Hay, and Mines View Park, and ponies. I felt the same familiar twinge of pain, the rush of heat that threatened to spill out of my eyes, and I was angry, and I shouted at her, telling her that she shouldn’t get things from other people’s closets, never mind that I hadn’t worn it because it was still mine and she shouldn’t have worn it! I demanded that she change shirts immediately and crying, she stormed off and returned, clad in a new shirt, and she threw my shirt at me, telling me that I could have it if I wanted! I remember clutching the shirt so tightly that my knuckles turned white, and storming up to my room. I remember locking the door and rummaging in my messy cabinet for the jar of red paint that I knew was there, except I couldn’t find it. I remember settling for a small jar of brown poster color instead, and I remember spreading the shirt open, unscrewing the jar of paint, and upending it on the shirt, coaxing small brown globs of paint onto the shirt.
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 33
I crumpled the shirt, staining it, and when it was sufficiently ruined, I threw it into the trash. I started to cry. Hours later, with swollen red eyes and unable to leave the room, I decided that I had to do something. The next time I went to confession, I stayed in the little room for the better part of an hour. I told the priest everything, beginning from my childhood. My voice broke a number of times, but he was silent, and I kept speaking, until I had told him every last, single, sordid detail, beginning from my childhood and ending with the present. And then he spoke, telling me that God had already forgiven me, no questions asked, and all I had to do was to pray, and take care of myself. Medicine teaches us that scars are there for a reason. When the dermis, or the thick layer of flesh-colored skin, is damaged, the body produces collagen fibers to mend the damage done, to heal the wound. Sometimes, too much collagen is produced, layer upon unnecessary layer, and the scars become raised, like the one on my ankle. I had grown used to running a finger over the smooth bump, and applying slight pressure, marvelling that it didn’t hurt. This was the case until last summer, when a slight accident at the beach opened the wound. I remember limping to the nearest firstaid station, trailing drops of blood on the sand behind me, while my friends murmured their worries. It was cleaned and bandaged, but this time, it healed painfully. I had to be careful about the shoes I wore or the way I slept because even the slightest pressure was extremely painful. I treated my left leg gingerly then, making sure to cocoon it in blankets whenever I slept, avoiding shoes with straps that dug into it, but that didn’t keep it from hurting, from sending intermittent flashes of pain. One day, not so long ago, I was lying down on the carpet in my apartment, a carpet made of woven fabric, rough to the touch. The fact that it had been here for four years, carried different bodies of different weights had not made it softer. I turned on my side, and my
34 · Tina del Rosario
ankle grazed the fabric â€“ there was a quick jolt of pain, and I sat up immediately to inspect the wound. It was bleeding, once again, but that was something I was used to. What intrigued me was the small piece of glass that lay on the carpet, right next to my foot. It was rounded at the edges like a five-centavo coin, and a millimetre or so smaller. It was the right thickness, I thought, for a drinking glass. I took a piece of tissue and blotted away the few drops of blood that had gathered around the opening. There was a small, clean slit in the skin and, acting on a hunch, I put my thumb and forefinger on either side of the slit and pushed inwards, causing the flap of skin to gape. The space inside was hollow, the perfect size to shelter the piece of glass that was no longer sharp, having had its edges worn away by time. It had grown comfortable in my skin. I returned my fingers to their former position and pushed: the flap opened once more, and I put the tip of the smallest finger of my other hand into the wound. I believed.
Heights Seniorsâ€™ Folio 2011 Âˇ 35
Paolo Deyto bfa creative writing
Paolo Cabela Deyto is a cw major. He indulges in every junction that comes to pass, adding every moment to his repertoire of ideas just waiting to be put on paper. He also has an infinite passion in the art of capturing stills and being in and out of the theatreâ€™s spotlight.
Wish I will always nag Mama and Papa about the milk, not Lactum but Promil Gold. I will tell them to always make sure that it is exactly lukewarm so it would be okay to drink. I will always keep the bottles sterile, and remove the annoying ants that always try to make their way inside. I will always make sure to change the diapers when needed and I will always secure the tape and latch it on properly. I will wake up in the middle of the morning to sing lullabies, sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” or hum an invented tune, probably not in the most serenading manner but I will try. I will watch and hear the crying that wakes up the neighbors and I will go through all of it because that is what brothers do. I will play with the assortment of dolls and the pink teddy bear from Tita Girlie and the Hawaiian Barbie even though the whole room is literally pink and that I really think pink is an annoying color. I will make funny faces just so a giggle would ensue. I will read aloud bedtime stories about all the famous fairytales, about Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Snow White, even though it is embarrassing for me to do so. I will occasionally tease and pinch the fat on the arms. I will always press rewind on the lousy Sony vhs whenever Barney finishes “I love you, you love me” and dance and sing to it even though I would rather listen to loud rock music or Backstreet Boys because that is what brothers do. I will wrap the books and notebooks from school, I will always just buy one roll of wrapping plastic from National Bookstore every year even though I know at the back of my head that one roll would not last until high school and yet I still do because I like the responsibility and the attention. I will be a bully and exercise how it really is to name call, and yet I will make sure of allowance, of vitamins and schoolbags, of knowing if books are needed for Monday or Tuesday or both, of knowing what time dismissal is. I will worry because heavy bags can cause back pains and so I will still urge to use bags with wheels 38 · Paolo Deyto
even when it is a social suicide around grade six or seven. I will ride with the school bus driving to Immaculate Conception Academy if I have to, and just go down there and walk my way right across to Xavier because that is what brothers do. I will go to the parent-teachers conference if I have to, in place of Mama and Papa if they have work. I will comment afterwards that my sister is too much of a suck up to the teacher. I will laugh but silently be proud. I will be first at the First Communion at the Mary the Queen Parish church, with Mama and Papa, just like during the baptismal, and I will take pictures and keep memories I wish never passed. I will watch the recital about nature, or about any play at all, just as long as I get to sit in front, be proud, and occasionally tell the person beside me that I am the brother. I will watch volleyball games and intramurals and scream my lungs out just so I could distract the opponent. I will bring banners and even pompoms if I have to. I will fight with the referee if the situation calls for it because that is what brothers do. I will always text and call when there is a soiree that will happen over the weekend. I will prompt myself to always check the length of the skirt or how revealing the shorts are. I will be strict. I will set guidelines because I know boys and boys just stare too much when there is too much skin showing. I will glare and scold and say no one ever listens to me when it is late and I am left in the parking area waiting for the party of little girls who invited a few boys who think they have reached puberty to finish. I will always say yes to driving to Greenhills or Corinthian Gardens even if I do not want to because I used to drink there too and getting drunk means doing stupid things we might regret in life. I will always be the one to give a warning about vices, even if I have vices too. I will always get angry because that is what brothers do. I will look straight into the guyâ€™s eyes when he comes knocking at the doorstep. I will make him knock for a good hour or so because our house does not have a doorbell. I will be protective and suspicious of his character. I will check his Facebook account and do a background check on him. If he becomes an asshole I will dig a crater on his face, I will beat him down. If heartbreak occurs I will be the one to bring Heights Seniorsâ€™ Folio 2011 Âˇ 39
chocolate ice cream or gelato or yogurt, it does not really matter, and spend my first paycheck on whatever begets happiness. I will say life should go on and that the guy was a waste of time. I will try to encourage studying and discourage dating because I do not really care about socializing. I will be shunned and shouted at by my own sister, I will probably want to retaliate but will not because I would still have to change the pillowcases when they finally get too soaked with tears because that is what brothers do. I will help with college life, with its tumbles and turns. I will share tips on how to survive it and what things to avoid and aim for. I will comment on the choices of courses but will eventually not interfere. I will say that aiming for a medical course is lame because doctors I know always look old and that they have really bad handwriting. I will support the organizations and extra-curricular activities. I will try to help with college algebra and statistics and those symbols that are indecipherable even though I know mathematics really does not fall under the category of Fine Arts, and because the family can sure have a Summa Cum Laude graduate. I will still watch the volleyball games only now I will be at the sidelines because having a brother cheer full on is quite discomforting. I will try to dance at the Mandarin Hotel with the debutant but still pull up the gown even when it gets recorded on video because it shows too much chest and because that is what brothers do. I will be at a wedding, and be at the altar with my wife to be. I will ask my wife to allot a seat near our table for that girl who was always the number one fan of our relationship, that girl whom I have seen grow from playing with dolls to putting make up, that girl who fancied volleyball but is now on her way to med school, the most important bridesmaid in my eyes. I will make her document the whole event, and put icing on her nose come the after party. I will start a family of my own and make her the favorite aunt not only because she gives good gifts but because she is my sister. I will put a smile on my face and yet be saddened when the girl gets the bouquet because it will not be long before she throws her own and leave us, and because that is what brothers do. 40 路 Paolo Deyto
I will be at another wedding, only this time it is not mine. I will be old and have a family of my own then but I will still be at this wedding. I will volunteer myself to escort the bride to the altar if Papa is too old to walk. I will be behaved but will still cheer quietly or even just imagine myself cheering. I will be sad because I am finally letting go. I will not show it though, because my wife might slap me for crying and drawing attention to myself. I will call her Chris-taba one last time, congratulate her, and punch her softly in the arm because her wedding cake was bigger than mine. If Papa permits me, I will also make a toast, and even though I do not want to, I will join the crowd when they ask for a kiss from the couple. I will, rest assured, give the biggest gift because I am the biggest fan and she knows very well that I am competitive and that in spite of our misunderstandings there is still that speck of love present, and because that is what brothers do. I wish you had made it, only then would I have gotten to know you.
Heights Seniorsâ€™ Folio 2011 Âˇ 41
Joven Angelo Flordelis bs management / minor in literature – filipino Kay Jemika, Dave, Krys, at Macoy na kasabay kong kinalyo ang mga paa sa daang malubak; sa Q1 (lalo na kay Ople, Maia, Mariel, Jopy, Sam, Patty, Rk, Samuel, Bea, Angela, Niko, at Pau) at Block A (higit kay Ivy, Nica, at Alex) na tulad ng paglubog at pagsikat ng araw: laging maaasahan; sa Musmos (kay Cherie, Vince, Verns, Tal, Reggie Ann, Janine, at cg2010), sa Heights (kay Tina, Kyra, JC, at eb2011), sa coa (kay Les, Chay, at Recweek Core), at Enta, hindi lamang trabaho ang nabuo sa ating pagitan: pagkakaibigan; Sir Jerry, Sir Bobby Guev, [Sir] Ariel, Ma’am Natividad, Sir Jope, at Ma’am Rosana, hindi ako natuto sa mga leksyong ibinahagi ninyo, kundi natututo — patuloy na matututo; sa Matteo down, caf down, old at new Rizal Lib, Cornfield, North/East/som parking lot, at mvp, lumindol man, hindi kayo magugunaw sa aking isipan; kay Mike Felipe, gusto kong malaman mong sumasaisip pa rin hanggang ngayon, ang habulan natin sa may giant slides. Alam kong nakangiti kang binabasa ito, kasama Niya. Hintayin mo kami ni Jim; kay Mrs. Somera, Sir Selorio, Ms. Lim, Ms. Moran, Mrs. Samson, Mr. Galvez, Mrs. Shih, Ma’am Josie, sakaling hindi ko man nasabi, hinahangaan ko kayo — isang biyaya ang maging estudyante sa inyong silid; sa mga magulang kong hindi makatulog tuwing uumagahin ako ng uwi, sa inyong lahat, salamat. :) P.S. Kung lamunin man ng Corporate World ang gutom ko sa pagsusulat — ang sagot: Bulimia.
Pamamaalam Hindi ko na nagawang magpalit ng damit. Sando lamang at shorts ang naipanlabas ko. Sa loob ng tila isang panaginip, nirerebolusyon na ni Papa ang Corolla nang marating ko ang garahe. Kung saan man kami pupunta, kung anuman ang gagawin, si Papa na ang bahala. Binuksan ko ang pinto ng lumang sasakyan. Nagulat ako nang makitang nakabarong si Papa. “Pa?”Nagitla ako sa kakisigan ng lalakeng nasa loob. Pumasok ako sa kotse at napansin kong basa ng gel ang buhok niya, at may kung anong bango ang naaalala kong huli kong naamoy noong isang taon — nasa likod pala ang mga paboritong Camia ni Mama. “Sa araw na ito, ikakasal kami uli ng Mama mo,” may ngiting nakaukit sa labi ni Papa. Isinara ko ang pinto ng kotse at umandar na agad ang Corolla. Nang minsang ayusin ni Papa ang rearview mirror, at magtagpo ang mga mata namin, hindi ko naiwasang salaminin ang kasabikan ni Papa sa pamamagitan ng sarili kong ngiti. Ngayon nga pala ang araw na iyon — naalala ko. “Cholo,” ipinarada ni Papa ang kotse at may kung anong dinukot siya sa kaniyang bulsa. Inilabas niya ang kaniyang kamay at ipinakita ang dalawang gintong sinsing sa akin. Isinirku-sirko niya ang mga iyon sa kaniyang daliri bago iabot ang mga ito, “Gusto ko sanang ikaw ang magbigay sa’min nito mamaya.” Marahan kong tinanggap ang mga singsing mula kay Papa. Mabigat-bigat din pala ang mga ito. Pinatalun-talon ko sila sa mga kamay ko at namalas ko kung paanong gumagaan ang lahat sa ere. “Cholo, ingat lang ah. ‘Wag mong iwawala ’yang mga ’yan kundi kukutusan kita. Haha!” Binuksan ko ang pinto ng sasakyan at naroon kami sa harap ng isang simbahan. Marahil naghihintay na sa loob ng simbahan si Mama — marahil nakapustura rin tulad ni Papa. Ngunit hindi ako dinala ni Papa sa loob ng lumang gusali. Lumihis kami, at dumaan 44 · Joven Angelo Flordelis
kami sa gilid ng batuhang pader, doon kung saan, sa pagkakaalala ko, may isang burol. Habang tangan ko sa mga kamay ko ang mga singsing, nakita ko na nga ang tumpok ng lupa kung saan kami dati naghahabulan ni Papa. Madalas kaming pumunta roon para makasama sila Lolo at Lola. Buong hapon kami uupo sa damuhan habang minemerienda ang ginataan ni Mama. Napakasarap magluto ni Mama. Ngunit hindi na ito ang dakilang burol na naaalala ko. Nawala na ang dating kalusugan nito’t animo’y alanganing kimpal na lamang ng lupa sa gitna ng kapatagan. Hindi na maganda ang tubo ng damo gaya ng mga lumipas na tag-init. Gumuguhit din ang alimuom ng lupa. Ang hangin, kay bigat, at tila may kung anong musikang isinisipol. Ngunit sa tuktok ng burol, naroon ang isang mahinahong pigura. Sariwa sa paningin ang kulay puting sumasalba sa pangkalahatang sepia. At kasabay ng hangin, tila iniimbita ako ng pagwagayway ng busilak na pustura. “Ayan na ang mama mo,” hinawakan ni Papa ang kamay ko habang baon pa rin ang kanina pa niyang ngiti. Naglakad kami sa gitna ng kalikasan, tungo sa burol, patungo sa puting pigura. At tila humahalo sa hangin ang itim na buhok ni Mama. Tinatawag niya kami. Ilang hakbang pa, hindi ko namalayang kaharap na pala namin si Mama. Napakaganda niya. Hindi traje de boda ang kaniyang suot, kundi liwanag. Hindi ko alam kung dahil ba sa umagang hamog na dumidilig sa porselana niyang mukha kung kaya’t may kakaibang kislap ang kaniyang mga mata ngayon — o dahil sa pagsilip ng mga luha. Nasa gitna ako ni Mama at Papa nang saluhin ng mga daliri ang luhang hindi man lamang binigyan ng pagkakataong tumulo sa pisngi ni Mama. “Lea, alam mo ba kung gaano ka kaganda ngayong umaga?” matamis na tanong ni Papa habang pinupunasan niya ang pisngi ni Mama. “Gener, mahal kita. Mahal na mahal ko kayo,” binalingan ako ng tingin ni Mama.
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 45
Niyakap ni Papa si Mama nang walang kasinghigpit. Halos maging isa sila. Pinigilan lamang nila ang katuparan ng himala upang bigkasin ang pangakong nakaukit sa bato: Even in death, we shall never part. Sabay silang tumingin sa akin. Si Mama at si Papa, tila may hiling. Binuklat ko ang aking mga kamay ngunit wala na ang mga singsing.
46 路 Joven Angelo Flordelis
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 47
Miggy Francisco bfa creative writing
A huge thank you to Ace, August, Fourth, Gel, Heinz, Jamie, Kip, Mark, Max and Quinito, for making the good life better, to Anna, Aran, Dan, Issi, Jacob, Nathan and Nikki, for always being close even when we are miles apart, and to the Heights English Staffers, for the dramatic situations, the patience, and the irreplaceable and epic moments. For my family, for being who they are.
Hunger It was exactly 3:15 in the morning, and there were four cars ahead of me in the drive through line. I’ve always gone to that branch, in all instances ten to fifteen minutes after three in the morning, and always the first and last one in line. You could ask Melina. Once she hears me greet her back with a good morning, I’m assured that my Big Mac, fries and drink will be waiting by her window in three and a half minutes at most. The burgers were at their best at that time of the day. If there’s a prayer that is only prayed every three in the afternoon, then there’s a burger that could only be made at three in the morning. The buns would be pressed against the griddle slick with oil from the meat. The cooked side would always be crisp, slightly and teasingly bitter, while its soft and plump insides were soaked with melted cheese that still tasted like milk. And of course the meat oozed loudly, a fair trade for having its juices squirted all over one’s face and clothes. But because there were more people to cook burgers for, I wasn’t sure if I was going to get the well-prepared meal I deserved. After three minutes of waiting, the first car in line moved, and my stomach felt nervous and hungry at the same time. And yet it seemed that I had to wait longer than usual, because the bastard ordering in front of me looked like he was chatting with a long lost lover, and had no plans of bringing his head back into his car. Hunger wasn’t something that could wait — it grows stronger when it is starved, but dies if you feed it. I know some people who still don’t understand this. My co-worker in the call center we used to work in almost killed himself from crash dieting, unsupervised exercising and abstinence from his favorite food just to impress some girl. But when he tried asking her out, she had already gone with another guy who didn’t bother with the unnecessary fasting — me. I blew my horn once, twice, thrice when the car was still giving his order even after all the cars ahead of it have gone. When it was my 50 · Miggy Francisco
turn, I pulled down the window and heard Melina’s voice through the speaker. She still sounded like there was no other person she’d rather talk to even if all she had to say was “Good morning! May I take your order?” “O Melina, the usual ha.” “Ay Sir ikaw pala yan! Sorry ang bagal po. Dami kasi inorder ng customer kanina eh!” “That’s all right. I can forgive you.” She giggled, impressed by my straight English and matching accent, but laughed loudly when I added, “If you give me your chicken nuggets.” “Sir naman oh, ako malalagot pag nalaman to ng mga baguhan! Pero sige, I’ll do my best po. Can you wait a moment please Sir?” “No problem!” There was a moment of silence on her end. Eventually I heard the sizzle of meat being cooked, the white noise sound of frying potatoes, and the wide vocabulary of expletives an employee showcased when cooking oil seemed to hit him. I didn’t rat out to whoever was manning the speaker system that Melina forgotten to switch it off. “Melina, ganito ba kadami yung inorder ng customer?” I heard the man who cursed contest with the noise. Probably the new guy Melina was talking about. “Hindi. Dinagdag ko yan para tumaba at sumabog siya!” She laughed afterwards. “Eh baka hindi na siya bumalik.” “Kaya nga!” I tried not to laugh after she returned to check back up on me — unaware that I heard everything — in her usual kind voice. “Gusto mo po ng extra ketchup Sir?” I nodded, trying to keep my laughter in as I watched the guy in front of me look disappointed that it wasn’t Melina who gave him his food. As I expected, Melina was already by the last window as I moved in line. I carefully dropped the bills and coins on her hand. But she grabbed them from me, her glossy manicured nails rubbed the face of my palm. Then she served me my food. “Thanks, as usual.” I said before shutting the window. I stopped Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 51
when she waved both her hands at me, while her lips mouthed stop repeatedly. After I fully opened the window, she still refused to speak and brought a finger to her lips, making a hushing gesture. She went away for a moment, and returned to check if anyone was watching. “My treat.” She whispered this with a wink, as she heaved a plastic bag containing an extra order of steaming supersized fries still slick with oil.
52 · Miggy Francisco
Perpetual Motion She awakened to the sound of bells ringing. It was a dream — her drowsiness was just playing tricks on her, she reasoned. She kept her eyes closed, and squeezed the pillow with her arms and legs before letting her body relax. The sounds stopped, and she felt weightless. Though the ringing of the bells ended, its melody continued to reverberate in her skull like aftershocks of a quake. Involuntarily, she visualized a ledger line dotted with half notes. “Is it morning already?” She asked the outline of her husband on her bed. She did a double take as she sat up. But no matter how many times she blinked and rubbed her eyes, nothing filled the depression on their bed. Noticing the lethargy in her voice, she thought that washing her face would relieve her of sleepiness. After setting her cellular phone on stop, she twisted to her right and dropped her feet on the floor. The blanket entangled her legs but she didn’t mind. She trudged on with eyes half-closed towards where she knew the window was. When she groped for the string that pulled the wooden blinds up, only the sensation of cold stone welcomed her fingers. She realized that she was in a different place. She was in her new home, she reasoned. New house. No, me and my husband’s new house. She disrobed herself of the blankets that constricted her as if parts of a silk kimono as she pulled the proper string for the window blinds. The morning sun defogged the remnants of her haziness. As if mollified from a trance, she began her daily morning ritual of fixing the bed. She remembered that they had been in that new house for two weeks already. It was part of their plan of starting over. She already accepted the fact that there were a lot more women in the world that she thought — most of them emotionally stronger than her, perhaps more attractive, some tempting. And, that her husband thought the same about one of them. She couldn’t blame the girl as much as she wanted to, not even the characters involved Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 53
in his previous relationships. After all, she knew that her reason for falling in love with him was the same as that of the others. He was not the talkative type, but he was a good violinist who expressed through music what he couldn’t say. But only she was able to see him as someone more than that. She looked at the slightly sunken patch on their bed. Her hands traced the impression her husband’s body left and the imprint of his head facing where she rested hers. She too was used to hearing his consistent, long and steady breaths as he slept. It was her way of knowing that he was sleeping well, and it helped her catch her forty winks also. Then she wondered if she was able to offer him the same kind of comfort when he found himself unable to sleep in their first nights together. She was very gentle in bed, sometimes as if she was never there, and she didn’t know if he was just too polite to complain. Her hands smoothed the remaining wrinkles on the bed sheets and fluffed the pillows with a mighty smack. Afterwards, she flattened every crease on the blanket before folding it into a perfect square. The sound of bells impregnated the air once more. And she finally remembered that it too was part of their plan of starting over. They both agreed to use the sound of wedding bells as their alarm and message tone. When she ended the sound, she discovered a new message. It was from her husband. “From the future, with love.” Her lips widened into a smile. He had been sending the same message every morning since he left for Japan three days ago for a recital. There, time was ahead by an hour. The message was just a part of the gimmicks he used to help her adapt to their new life. When they first arrived at their new house, he told her that the mailbox had a letter for her. As it turned out, the sender’s address was that of their old home, and it contained a piece of paper that simply said “From the past, with love.” Remembering that her husband would come back that afternoon and most likely say “From the present, with love,” she decided that she would cook something grand for him. But before she was able to 54 · Miggy Francisco
choose a dish, she decided to look at his letter first. Perhaps she was going to find it easier to adjust to their new life together, she told herself. When she noticed that the weariness in her voice had vanished, she was confident that she would.
*** The kitchen was her domain, but it had traces of her husband’s presence all over. Against her will, he forced her to sit down and listen to the demands of her body while he unpacked the contents of the boxes during their first day in that house. She listened to him that time, and sat on a stool with her hands cradled on her lap. He hummed tunes as he dressed the bare kitchen with a mix of old and new wares. She guessed the titles of his melodies while he scrubbed the kitchen counter until it bore her reflection. It always made her giggle when his tone changed as he tiptoed to oil the long untouched hinges, or when he crawled on his knees to insert the plugs of the refrigerator and stove in the sockets. She stepped out of her reverie when she saw that she already had her apron on, and her mitt covered hands were holding a pot. She couldn’t help it. Every morning she made him his favorite breakfast, oatmeal. Before referring to the queue of instructions that reeled in her mind, she took one more moment to admire the handiwork of her husband. The pots hung by their handles on a wall rack, like musical notes in a staff. The magnets scattered on the refrigerator appeared as if they coded a song. When she was satisfied, she filled the pot with three cups of milk, two of water, and three teaspoonfuls of brown sugar. Then she poured one serving of oats, set the stove on high and watched until the first bubbles floated and popped. While waiting, she read the labels written on the box of oats. “Serving size eighty-one grams, calories three hundred seven, calories from fat forty-four, total fat five grams, saturated fat one gram,” hearing her ordinary voice, she continued reading quietly using the
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 55
voice of her husband, â€œzero cholesterol, eight grams of dietary fiber and eleven of protein, provides nineteen percent of iron needs, based on a two thousand calorie diet. Known to reduce cholesterol as much as twenty-three percent in two weeks. Very healthy for the heart and belly!â€? She dumped one more serving into the boiling pot.
*** She guessed that her husband would come home tired, with drooping eyelids and quieter than usual. It was always the case, as playing the violin was not as easy as it seemed. She attempted to play it once, and found that the instrument was very light, fragile and sensitive to the tiniest adjustments. And ironically, it only made crisp and clear sounds when bowed with force. But once he gets a taste of her dish he would forget all about his violin and the tiredness he gets from playing it, she reassured herself. At first she did not think that she would be able to make a gourmet meal out of the raw chicken before he arrived. She had spent too much time washing the pale and almost transparent meat, and even more in bathing it in a tub of choice spices and sauces. Even after she saw the red-orange mixture seep and flow in the chicken like blood, she took time to massage it, rub all parts back and forth until nothing was left untouched. The timer in her head said that she was late by five or so minutes, which was more than enough time to make a crucial difference in the outcome as she learned in her previous attempts. Quickly but carefully, she shoved the dressed chicken in the oven. She spent no minute looking away from it. If one stray flame seared the meat for too long, the dish would not come out perfect. Nearly unblinking, she watched the chicken as she adjusted the oven knob seeking for the proper amount of heat. Before she knew it, she noticed that she would be able to prepare dinner in time after all. The once embryonic thing that hung limply in her hands was now bigger and looked healthier from glazy brown,
56 Âˇ Miggy Francisco
orange and red colors. After putting on mitts, she carefully removed the chicken from its incubator, served it on a blanket of fresh lettuce, and let it taste more of her spiced sauces. She swore she could’ve spent more time garnishing the food. However, as his husband promised, she did hear the doorbell ring at around eight in the evening. As she expected, her husband looked very tired. His slouching back made him noticeably shorter, but she still had to raise her arms a little to wrap her arms around his neck. He dropped his bags on the floor, save for the violin case which he nestled gently on the sofa. Without speaking anything else than the usual how were you’s and I really missed you’s, they walked directly to the dining room, sat in their respective chairs and ate. He moaned as he took the first bite of her dish, but did not hesitate to keep it in his mouth even if it was still scalding. It was very cold in Japan, and most of the food was raw. It was the only thing he said before devoting his lips to fully savoring the juicy and salty meat oozing with juice and hints of blood. She did the same, whilst unable to get over the clear delight in his eyes. But unlike him, she wasn’t able to withstand the heat. Against the spiciness in her mouth, she swore that the water she gulped had traces of ginger and lemon passing through the rims of a glass kissed with salt and sugar. It was cold against her throat, and it chilled her belly briefly before bringing it warmth. They continued wolfing down their meal, as if their hunger knew no bounds. As their palates staled from the same salty pang of the now warm meat, they had the sudden urge to dip the succeeding bites in chili paste. Their appetites were sparked once more with each bite and swallow. They ignored each other’s reddening faces as they continued to sweat and sweat into the night.
*** Just when she thought she was in a dream, she awakened to cold sensations in areas her blanket left exposed. She blamed the spicy sauce she added to the last bites of her meal for making the nightly winds feel stronger as it cooled the sweat off her skin. But she didn’t regret it. Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 57
She enjoyed how she and her husband fought for the remaining contents of the pitcher, only to discover that drinking water only spread the fire on their tongues. When she found out that her husband was not beside her to share the cold breezes with, she slid her feet into her slippers, not bothering to unwrap the blanket that garbed her. The faint sound of music whispered in her ears as she opened the door of their bedroom. Light leaked into the dark room, inviting her to follow the melody. As she crept closer to the source of the sounds, she stopped by the foot of the stairs to peek. It came from none other than her husband. She had to fight against the urge to chuckle. He was in his sleepwear, playing a piece meant for children as it only had three sets of repeating melodies. His tall height and shoulders broadened by carrying pedestals and books, and from practicing his strokes everyday made him look less fitting for the role. It felt almost like a crime to observe him because he looked solemn nonetheless. She was entranced when he stopped playing to start from the top, just like a child hearing the music of the Pied Piper for the first time. “Perpetual Motion, by Shinichi Suzuki,” he declared before bowing. He started by fiddling the violin he named Shannon with playful fingers, checking if it could perform as well as he wished. They started slowly, scrutinizing if the tunes, hums and melodies sounded right. He winced when there was a screech as if he had just injured her. Like an apology, he fine-tuned the violin, twisted its pegs with a tentative hand while using his other to pluck the strings. Shannon seemed to like it from the way her sounds exceeded perfection. By then he was ensnared in a daze, continually stroking and fingering before he wielded his bow once more. And they played. He continued with flimsy vibratos that picked up into steady trills, hammering martelés and unnamed blows that made the strings puff smoke and almost snap, until each stroke turned faster and faster and went closer and closer to the f-hole until notes drowned the air. And she sang too. 58 · Miggy Francisco
Tilting abruptly as if he was caught doing a crime, he almost fumbled the violin. He just smiled as he approached her. She did not say anything back, but let his free hand accompany hers when they went back upstairs. The cold ring of callus was still big and tough on his middle finger from all his fiddling. They went back to bed in the same positions they have been using ever since they shared the space of beds. He slept with his face looking at hers — his breaths were warm on her skin. But it did not help her get some sleep. Though she was very gentle in bed, she writhed from the scent of rosin stuck on his skin. She focused on his breathing once more and tried to match it with her own, but his breaths grew unpredictable. She tried thinking of wedding bells and its consistent, long and steady ringing. After she had gotten used to it, all the music in her mind blended into one distant and flat melody. She had already fallen asleep before she could even realize that she had been thinking of grave bells instead.
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 59
Jose Fernando Go-Oco bs computer science
His works have been published in Heights, Matanglawin, and Spindle. He would like to thank the Heightsters, old, new, or retired â€“ particularly the eb; his friends; the professors and friends who has helped him in reading and thinking; his family; and, most especially, Ria. Pepito is not graduating this year; he still has two full semesters ahead of him. Never mind anachronism, never mind the appearance of an end, never the end. He refuses to conclude.
Sense of Sight If you close your eyes, the horizon becomes a moment. A flash â€” light rumbles, looms: a sign of lightning; the moment is past, on the verge of utterance.
62 Âˇ Jose Fernando Go-Oco
Tulang Nagtatapos Sa Simula* Sa wakas maaari nang magsimula Sa wakas maaari Nang magsimula sa wakas Maaari nang magsimula
Previously published in Spindle <spindle.ph> on 7 February 2011.
Heights Seniorsâ€™ Folio 2011 Âˇ 63
Rachel Valencerina Marra bfa creative writing Si Ace ay mahiyain. Siya rin ay kulot. Nais kong magpasalamat: sa aking mga magulang na sina Fe at Arnold, para sa suporta sa aking pagsusulat sa aking mga kapatid: kay Alli, para sa pagbabasa ng mga kuwento ko kahit na hindi pambata, at kay Kuya Daryl para sa pagbibigay ng palayaw na “Ace” kina Tito Ped at Tita Sweet, para sa pangongolekta ng Heights basta nandu’n ang gawa ko sa mga kaibigan ko mula high school: Frexy, Noh, Fressie, Nessie, at Krisa — ang mga unang naniwala sa akin, at patuloy na naniniwala sa una kong pamilya sa Ateneo: Miggy at Fourth — balang-araw, hahalungkatin natin ang ating mga alaala at ngingiti tayo sa ating mga makikita; Jamie at Gel — distance will never be a hindrance, though I cannot promise the absence of tears (go get your Danny, JGL, Cam, Merripen, Sebastian, Matt, Anthony, Colin, and Darren!) sa Heights: Brandz, Walt, Fid, Ali, Kevin, Lyza, EJ, Mike at Jaja, JC, Tina, Nicko, Monching, ang Bagwisan, Kyra at Pao — para sa pagbibigay sa akin ng lakas ng loob na sumabak sa landas na ito sa Block E at WriterSkill, lalong-lalo na kina Mich, Rai, Heinz, Addi, Diego, Iggy, at Chris — tawid lang, hindi nakamamatay sa Office of Admission and Aid: kina Ate Tin, Ma’am Jolly, at Father Nemy — para sa pagbibigay ng oportunidad sa mga naging guro ko na sanhi ng aking pagpupursiging magsulat: Sir Egay, Sir Derain, Sir Yuson, Sir Larry, Miss Daryll, Sir DM, Sir Marx, Martin, at Sir Exie; at sa buong Fine Arts Program: Ma’am Beni, Xander, Missy, at Ate Roxanne — sa pasensya, tiyaga, alaga, at pagtitiwala. “May naiiwan sa bawat pagtatagpo!” – Mesandel Virtusio Arguelles, 23 Hulyo 2010
Mother, Forgive Mother, forgive. I set your high school yearbook on fire. I watched the flames devour those faded black and white photographs of you and your girlfriends posing under the Acacia, you and your prom date in the midst of a waltz and a laughter, you and your spray-netted bangs and shoulder-padded blouse. Now there is no need for you to stay up late, mourning for the dawn to retrace its course. No more will I hear you sobbing in tune with the soft flipping of yellow-edged pages. Mother, I lost a button on my uniform. It is in need of mending.
66 路 Rachel Valencerina Marra
The Conductor’s Morning Prayer You know who does not pay. I know better. I remember their faces, their voices as their coins travel from one palm to another until they reach mine. I am one of them. They tell me their destination. I know how much each will cost. I tell them, and it will save their time digging through their wallets for extra money, knitting their eyebrows with extra worry. So dear God, I shall not ask for forgiveness when men’s arms graze on women’s (and sometimes girls’) breasts, when my driver slams the brake missing the stop, missing the point of pulling the string, when I let ladies sit beside me and I’d secretly guess what shampoo they use,
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 67
when the passengers ignore the rumbling of the stomachs of these children who held rotting rags for wiping shoes in exchange for change, if there is any (and when I shoo them away). Inside the jeepney, there is only enough space for prayers on the wooden ceiling. Forgiveness can only be delivered at the end of the day when all sins have been done. So dear God, bless our trip.
68 路 Rachel Valencerina Marra
Pusali Nabalisa ang pusang naliligaw sapagkat nagsimula nang lumapad at tumangkad ang mga aninong nakalapat sa kalsadang nilalakaran. Daratnan siya ng gabi. Tumakbo sa pagkagitla ang pusa sa biglaang pagbagsak ng mga anino sa kaniya, tila mga domino na nakahanay â€” walang katapusan. Kalsadang malawak, mga tambak ng basura, isang madilim na sulok, malalim na kanal: doon siya nais dalhin ng mga anino. Sinilip ng pusa ang kanal at pinagmasdan ang mga samoâ€™t saring ligaw na kaluluwang nagpapalutang-lutang sa maitim, malapot, at umaalingasaw na burak: plastik ng tsitsirya, upos ng sigarilyo, patay na daga, tiket ng bus. Bumuwelo ang pusa at sumisid.
Heights Seniorsâ€™ Folio 2011 Âˇ 69
Kuwentong Kulot Manakit-nakit pa rin ang anit ko dahil sa matinding paghatak ng suklay at brush ng parlorista tuwing magkakabuhol-buhol ang mga hibla ng aking buhok. Dama ko pa nga ang init sa mga tenga ko dahil sa ilang-ulit na pagbuga rito ng mainit na hangin mula sa blower. Nangangati na ang leeg at batok ko dahil sa pagkakatali ng telang tila kapa sa akin. Nangagawit na rin ang aking likod sa pag-upo nang tuwid sa upuan. Tuwid, unat, at makintab. Iyon ang buhok ko isang araw sa harap ng malaki at makintab na salamin ng parlor. Hawak-hawak ang blowdryer sa kaliwang kamay at ang suklay sa kabila, tuwang-tuwa ang bading na pinagmamasdan ang obramaestra niya. “Ayan Ate, ang ganda-ganda!” Oo nga, maganda ang ginawa niya sa buhok ko. Para akong nasa patalastas ng Rejoice (shampoo lang ’yan!). Natuwa nga ako sa tiyagang inilaan niya para sa ganitong resulta. Sa sobrang ganda ng buhok ko, parang hiwalay na itong nilalang ko sa ulo ko. Dahil naging tuwid na ito, nakita ko ang tunay nitong haba na abot hanggang kilikili. Inilarawanan ko na sa isip ko na pagkaligo kong muli, kukulot uli ang buhok ko at magmumukhang hanggang balikat na lang ito. “Ipa-relax mo na kasi Ate, para wala na ’yang salot na kulot!” Napilitan akong ngumiti. Nangyari ito noong bakasyon bago magsimula ang ikalawang taon ko sa kolehiyo. Nagpasama ako sa mama ko sa parlor. Biglaang desisyon lang ’yun. Hindi naman kasi ako mahilig bumisita sa mga parlor o salon. Sa katotohanan, isa ito sa mga pinaka-ayokong lugar. Malalaking salamin, mga larawan ng mga magagandang babae sa mga dingding, mga iba’t ibang babae na kung anu-ano ang ipinagagawa sa kanilang mga buhok at katawan — hindi ako komportable sa paligid ng mga bagay na iyan. Sa bawat pagkakataong uupo ako sa harap ng malaki nilang salamin, nakikita ko lang ang lahat ng mga tila mali sa akin bilang babae: mula
70 · Rachel Valencerina Marra
sa aking unisex na pananamit, sa pagiging mataba, sa pagkakaroon ng balat sa mukhang parang hindi na lumagpas sa puberty samantalang lumalamlam at tumatanda lalo ang aking mga mata dahil sa eyebags, hanggang sa kulot kong buhok. Isabay pa ang pagtatanong minsan ng mga parlorista tungkol sa personal kong buhay (bakit wala ka pang boyfriend, ’teh?). Sa repleksyon ng salamin, kita ko si mama na nakaupo lang sa may likod ko. Pilit din ang ngiti niya. Malalaman ko pag-uwi namin na hindi niya nagustuhan ang istilo ng paggupit na ginawa sa akin. Pinlantsa muna kasi ng bading ang buhok ko, at saka ako ginupitan gamit ang pinakasimpleng paraan para sa isang layered na gupit. “E di sana ako na lang naggupit sa ’yo,” sinabi niya sa akin. Nagkusa akong mag-aya sa parlor dahil gusto kong magpalagay ng bangs. Naisip ko lang na tutal nasa kolehiyo na ako, gusto kong magkaroon ng iba sa buhok ko. Matagal nang uso ang bangs noong panahong iyon — mapa-full bangs, baby bangs, side-swept bangs, o (at lalo na) iyong super-emo-side-swept-full-bangs. Hindi rin naman ito ang unang pagkakataong ginusto kong magkaroon ng bangs. Noong Grade 4 ako, may bangs ako kaya lang hindi maganda ang kinalabasan dahil una, hindi pa ako marunong mag-alaga ng buhok noon, at pangalawa, nabigyan ako pansamantala ng palayaw sa bahay na “Bebang” — iyong isa sa mga persona ni Michael V. sa isang palabas sa gma 7. Eksakto naman kasing kung kailan nagpa-bangs ako, nagkaroon din ako ng malaking gasgas sa pisngi, kung saan may bálat si Bebang na mayroon ding full-bangs. Mula noon, sabi ko hindi na, kahit kailan. Pero noong bakasyong iyon, bigla ko lang naisip na bakit hindi uli? Baka kaya ko nang dalhin, naisip ko. Hindi naman sa wala akong tiwala sa pagpapagupit kay mama. Sa katunayan, sa kanya lang ako may tiwala pagdating sa paggugupit ng buhok ko. Pero mula elemetarya, siya na lagi ang naggugupit sa akin at halos pare-parehong istilo lang din. Layered o shaggy kung mahaba. Layered na maikli (hanggang batok o hanggang balikat) kung pakiramdam ko mabigat na sa ulo ang buhok ko. Ganu’n lang nang ganu’n buong elementary at high school. Akala ko kasi maga-
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 71
ling ang mga tao sa parlor. Ako pa tuloy ang pinagalitan ng parlorista dahil hindi raw dapat nagba-bangs ang mga kulot, dahil nga kukulot lang ’yun. Sa bahay, inudyukan ko ang mama ko na siya na lang maggupit ng bangs ko. Para akong manika ni mama noong nasa kinder ako. Araw-araw iba ang ayos ng buhok ko. Marami siyang naisip na mga disenyo at gimik sa mahaba kong buhok. Hindi ko pa alam na kulot ako noon, wala pa siguro akong pakialam o sadyang hindi ko lang din nakikita ang sarili kong buhok — ayaw kasi ni mama na nakalugay ako, gusto niya laging masinop. Hanggat maaari nga walang “baby hair” na makikita (iyong mga bagong tubong buhok, na paglaki ko’y malalaman kong tinatawag ding “tutsang”). Kaya bata pa lang ako alam ko na kung ano ang hair gel. Inaabangan at kinaiinggitan daw ng mga kapwa niya nanay sa kindergarten ang mga ayos ko dati. Magaling magtirintas si mama, minsan pa nga French braid ang ginagawa niya. Alam din niya kung paano magtali nang maayos na ponytail, half-ponytail, pigtails, at half-pigtails. Marunong din siyang pumili ng tamang ipit para sa tamang istilo: clips, mini-clams, elastic hair bands, barrette, at iba pa. Marami siyang nagagawang disenyo sa mahaba kong buhok at walang araw na hinahayaan lang niyang nakalugay ako. Madalas naikukuwento sa akin ni mama kung paanong pinag-aralan ng mga nanay ng iba kong kaklase ang ayos ko kung may pagkakataon sila. Ngunit bilang bata, mas naaalala ko iyong mga sandaling pagagalitan ako ni mama dahil malikot ang ulo ko habang inaayusan niya ako. Natutuktukan pa nga ako ng suklay kung hindi sumasapat ang pananaway niya. Naaalala ko rin iyong madalas na pananakit ng anit ko dahil sa maghapong mahigpit na pagkakatirintas o pagkakaipit sa akin. Lumaki rin ako na hindi ko alam kung ano talaga ang kulay ng buhok ko. Basta tuwing sasagot ako ng slum book, brown ang lagi kong isinasagot sa hair color. Mayroon kasing pinsan si mama na laging nagbibigay sa amin ng henna powder. Natural na kulay tsokolate ang
72 · Rachel Valencerina Marra
nililikhang kulay ng henna. Iyon bang tipong mahahalata mo lang kapag may tumamang kahit anong klaseng ilaw sa buhok mo. Ititimpla iyon ni mama sa kape, ipapahid sa buhok niya, at babalutin niya ng tuwalya ang kanyang ulo buong magdamag. Kapag may tira siyang henna solution, pinapahiran niya rin ang buhok ko. Kinabukasan, parehong amoy henna ang unan naming dalawa. Nasa ganoong gulang din ako nang magkaroon ako ng mga lisa sa ulo. Sabi ni mama, dahil daw sa pagpapaaraw ko at sa shampoo na ginagamit ko: Ivory for kids. Tuwing hapon, hahanapan niya ako ng mga lisa. Ginagamitan din niya ng suyod ang buhok kong nilangisan ng baby oil upang magbakasakaling makahanap ng kuto. Masakit man ang buong proseso ng pagsusuyod, gustong-gusto ko ang pakiramdam ng mga daliri ni mama na gumuguhit sa aking anit. Kasabay din nitong pagkakaroon ko ng mga lisa ay ang pagpapaikli ng buhok ko. Buti na lang wala pang Dora the Explorer noon, kung hindi sanaâ€™y naging tampulan na ako ng tukso. Hindi ko naman masasabing tila may bunot sa ulo ko, ganoon lang talaga kaikli ang pagkakagupit sa akin: eksakto na hindi lalampas sa tenga, at hindi man lang magdidikit ang mga dulo ng hibla ng buhok ko sa aking batok. Pero ayos lang sa akin iyon noon, may lisa kasi ako e. At kahit na hindi na ako magawang tirintasin ni mama, binilhan naman niya ako ng maraming mga headband at hair clip. Lalo na iyong mga nauso nooon, ang mga pinakasikat ay ang headband na shades na barrette at iyong paru-paro na tila lumilipad kahit na nakakabit na sa ulo mo dahil sa mga spring. Sa puntong iyon, naroon pa rin ang mama ko para ayusan ako tuwing kailangan ko. Bago ako naging ate, hindi ako marunong magsuklay. Kaya ko, pero nasasaktan ko lang din ang sarili ko. Dahil kasi kulot ako, mas madalas na nagkakabuhol-buhol ang mga hibla ng buhok ko. Hindi ko pa rin alam noon na para sa mga tulad ko, ang mga suklay na dapat sa amin ay iyong malalaki ang agwat sa pagitan ng mga ngipin, at hindi dapat kami gumagamit ng hair brush. Hindi rin ako marunong mag-ipit sa sarili ko, maski iyong simpleng ponytail o half-ponytail lang. Lalong hindi ako marunong magtirintas sa sarili ko. Hindi ko
Heights Seniorsâ€™ Folio 2011 Âˇ 73
rin alam kung paano hatiin nang maayos ang buhok ko — ni hindi ko nga alam kung nasaan ang natural na hati nito. Nang magbuntis si mama sa bunso naming si Allison, hindi na niya ako gaano naayusan ng buhok. Napakaselan pa man din ni Allison noong nasa loob pa lang siya ng tiyan ni mama: ayaw niya nang may dumidikit sa tiyan ni mama, agad-agad siyang sumisipa. Nasasaktan lang si mama. Maikli lang din ang buhok ko noon, hindi lalampas balikat ngunit hindi pa rin kayang iipit sa ponytail. Grade 4 ako nang ipanganak si Allison (kasabay ng panahong pansamantala akong binansagang “Bebang”) at mas naging abala si mama. Mas marami nang mga bagay na kailangang pagtuunan ng pansin at pagisipan kaysa sa kung ano ang magiging ayos ng buhok ko araw-araw. Kung anu-ano ang pinag-aralan kong gawin. Unang-una ay kung paano gumamit ng hair pin para maitago ko ang bangs na kaakibat ng pagiging “Bebang” ko, tapos kung paano maghati ng buhok (gitna, kanan, kaliwa, o zigzag), kung paano gumawa ng pigtail, at kung paano maging pasensyosa sa sakit ng ulong dinudulot ng mga headband. Ngunit sumuko rin ako dahil wala akong tiyaga sa pag-aayos ng buhok. Ang mama ko ang eksperto sa mga ganyan. Imposibleng hindi lilipas ang araw na hindi ako gagamit ng hair gel dahil ayoko ng mga tutsang. Hindi pumipirmi ang mga hair pin dahil may hindi rin mapirmi ang pagkakulot ko. Tanging simpleng ponytail lang ang natutuhan ko — iyong wala pang arte sa hati. Pagkagising ko sa umaga, kahit na basa pa ang buhok ko, mahigpit ko na itong itinatali. Madalas, kahit na gabi na at patulog na ako, basa pa rin ang bahagi kung saan gapos-gapos ito ng pantali ko ng buhok. Tatlong taon ang lumipas na nagpahaba lang ako ng buhok para gupitan lang uli nang sobrang ikli kapag nagsawa na ako. Minsan lamang sa isang taon, sasabihin ko sa mama ko na kailangan ko ng gupit at siya na ang bahala. Nauso ang pagpapaunat ng buhok noong nasa sekondarya ako. Pero bago pa magpaunat halos lahat ng mga kakilala ko (kahit na iyong mga tuwid na naman ang buhok), nauna na ako sa kanila. Sinamahan ko ang isa kong tita sa mall dahil magpapa-unat. Nagkataong may
74 · Rachel Valencerina Marra
sobra siyang pera, kaya idinamay na rin niya ako. Pag-uwi ko, wala nang nagawa si mama dahil tuwid na ang buhok kong layered. Sa unang pagkakataon, hindi lang ako nagkaroon ng pakialam sa itsura ko, naging banidosa rin ako. Tuwang-tuwa ako dahil mas madali nang pakisamahan ang buhok ko, sanhi para alagaan ko ito nang sobra — naging “easy way out” din kasi ito sa problema ko pagdating sa pag-aayos ng buhok. Pinambili ko ng Mane n’ Tail — iyong shampoo-conditioner combo na pangkabayo na tinatangkilik at ipinapatalastas ni Kris Aquino — ang pamasko sa akin noong taong iyon. Hindi rin ako lumalabas ng bahay na basa ang ulo ko, kaya kahit na mahuli ako sa klase pinagtitiyagaan kong patuyuin ang buhok ko gamit ang blow-dryer. Sa sumunod na Pasko, ipinaunat ko uli ang buhok kong hanggang balikat na. Akala pa ng iba kong mga kaklase, natural na tuwid ang buhok ko. Dumating ang puntong may mga pumupuri sa kakaibang pagkatuwid nito. May nagsabi rin sa akin na mas bagay daw sa akin ang tuwid na buhok dahil nagmumukha na akong dalaga. Kasama na rin siguro ng pagiging estudyante sa high school ang pagiging banidosa. Ito kasi iyong panahon na kahit sinumang babae hindi makatatagal sa labas ng kanilang bahay nang walang dalang suklay, pulbos, at lip balm. May mga pagkakataon pa nga na may dala-dala rin silang gunting para sa split ends. Sabay-sabay na nagiging malay ang mga dalagita sa kanilang mga anyo, sa kanilang pagkababae (na kakabit ng pagtatantong mayroong mga lalaki), at sa kung ano ang batayan ng pagiging maganda — na simple lang kung isasalita: sexy, makinis, at mukhang artistahin. Lahat halos ng mga kaklase kong babae noon, may insecurities. Kesyo hindi sila sexy, pangit ang kanilang buhok, wala silang boobs, o hindi matangos ang ilong nila — na para sa akin, walang punto. Kung hindi lang siguro ako magaling sa klase, naging tampulan na ako ng tukso: ako ang lahat na hindi “maganda.” Hindi lang ako basta chubby o siksik ng baby fat, mataba talaga ako. Ngayong binabalikan ko ang buhay-sekondarya ko, nakaiilang na maalalang ako ang pinakamatabang babae sa klase namin. Hindi rin ako matalinong-matalino, matalino lang ako. Minsan, nakakaakyat ng stage at nakatatanggap ng certificate. Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 75
Madalas, taga-palakpak para sa mga kapwa kaklase tuwing Recognition Day. Nang makapasa nga ako sa Ateneo, may mga nagsabing nangyari lang iyon dahil may kapatid akong Atenista. Hindi rin lang naman ‘hindi tuwid’ ang buhok ko, kulot ako. Nakakainis kapag may mga nagsasabing kulot sila pero hindi naman talaga — iyong tipong maalon lang dahil sa natural na paghubog ng kanilang buhok ayon sa hugis ng kanilang ulo at mga kurbada ng kanilang mga tenga, batok, at balikat. Wavy lang, kumbaga. Noon, iisipin kong kung kulot ang buhok mo, ano pa bang itatawag mo sa buhok ko? Pero ngayon, buong pagmamayabang kong iisipin na hindi iyan kulot, ito — itong buhok ko ang kulot. Marahil, kahit papaano naiangat nang kaunti ang mga insecurity ko noon dahil sa pagpapaunat. Nakagagaan at nakalalakas ng loob, sa totoo lang, iyong pagtatanto na may kontrol ka sa anumang bahagi ng katawan mo. Sa lagay ko, nakita ko ang matagal ko nang hinahanap na kontrol nang magpaunat ako ng buhok. Nalaman kong may magagawa pa pala ako, kung hindi man sa buo kong sarili, ay sa isang bahagi lang ng aking sarili. Hindi man naging pasado sa pagiging “maganda” ang mukha ko at pangangatawan, naging panlaban ko noon ang aking buhok na tuwid. Pamilya kami ng mga kulot, pero parang sa akin naitambak iyong mga sobrang gene para sa katangiang ito. Parang onion rings ang pagkakulot ng dalawa kong lola, ng isa kong lolo, at ng daddy. Kulot sina mama at kuya na may pagkakahawig sa mga alon ng dagat. Noong ipinanganak ang bunso namin, akala ko may totoo na akong karamay dahil tila ringlets ang buhok niya. Ngunit nang lumaki na siya, para akong pinagtaksilan dahil lumabas na tuwid ang makapal na buhok ni Ali. Ako ang litaw na litaw. May litrato ako noong limang buwan pa lang ako at parang pinagbuhol-buhol na kurdon ng telepono ang buhok kong tila ipinatong lang sa ulo ko. Ngayon, tila kurdon pa rin ng telepono ang aking buhok — ’yun nga lang, higante ang telepono. Bago matapos ang buhay-sekondarya ko, hindi ko na ipinagpatuloy ang pagpapaunat. Nagsawa na rin ako dahil tulad ng nauna kong siklo ng pagpapahaba ng buhok at pagkatapos ay paiiklian lang nang todo, tila naipit lang din ako sa siklong pagpapaunat at pagpapaunat 76 · Rachel Valencerina Marra
uli kapag nagpakita uli ng pagkakulot ang buhok ko. Para bang sinasabi rin sa akin na kulot ka naman talaga e, ikaw lang ang makulit. Kaya rin ayoko ng mga parlor — isang lugar na punong-puno ng mga taong tila di pa sasapat para sa sarili nila. Kung saan, ang mga kulot ay nagpapaunat, at ang mga unat ay nagpapakulot. Para silang nakahahawang sakit, pag-iisipin ka rin nila na hindi ka rin sasapat sa iyong sarili. Ayoko uling maging tulad nila. Ngayon, mahaba na ulit ang aking kulot na buhok. Kapag basa ito, ilang pulgada na lang matatakpan na nito ang aking buong likod. Kung tuyo naman, natatakpan nito ang kalahati ng aking likod. Kapag natapat ako sa ilalim ng liwanag ng araw, tila nagiging kulay kape ang aking buhok (para bang hindi na nawala ang henna sa aking buhok). Lagi akong nakalugay at miminsan lang ako mag-ipit: hair clip kung nagiging abala sa aking paningin ang bangs ko na ako na ang naggugupit, ponytail o clam kung ipupusod ko ang aking buhok dahil sa init ng panahon, at marunong na rin akong magtirintas sa sarili ko at ginagawa ko lang iyon kapag nararamdaman kong may tiyaga at pasensya akong makipagbuno sa natural na pagkakulit ng aking kulot na buhok. Magsuklay man ako o hindi, pareho lang ang itsura nito. Naaalala ko pa nga iyong pag-uusap namin ng isa kong kaibigan. Wala akong dalang suklay kaya tinanong ko siya, “magulo ba buhok ko?” Ang sagot niya, “hm, I really can’t tell.” Nakakatuwang nakakaasar na para sa akin, iisa lang ang ibig sabihin ng magulo at maayos. May nakapagsabi pa nga sa akin na mukha talaga akong manunulat dahil sa ayos kong ito. “Napaka-Cubao X,” ika rin ng isa ko pang kaibigan. Ibang-iba ang mundo ng kolehiyo para sa akin. Dito, hindi ko lang tinanggap ang pagiging kulot ko sa dahilang ito talaga ang uri ng buhok na mayroon ako, kundi dahil minahal ko na ito bilang malaking bahagi ng kung sino ako. Ito ang nagiging dahilan kung bakit ako naiiba. Nakatatanggap pa rin ako ng mga komento mula sa mga ibang tao na “bakit hindi ka magpa-straight?” lalo na mula sa mga parloristang nagkakataong nakakasalamuha ko. Kamakailan lang, sa photoshoot namin para sa college yearbook, walang paalam na inunat ng stylist Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 77
ang buhok ko para sa toga shot. Inisip ko na, sabagay ginagamit sa mga resumĂŠ kapag naghahanap na ng trabaho at medyo kailangang magmukhang â€œmature.â€? Ngunit para sa litratong pang-yearbook talaga, hiniling ko na kulutin uli ang buhok ko. Kitang-kita ang pang-hihinayang sa mukha ng stylist dahil pinagtiyagaan talaga niyang plantsahin ang napakakulot kong buhok na halos nilalakbay na ang aking mga balikat hanggang sa kalagitnaan ng aking likuran. Binalikan ko siya ng isang matipid na ngiti. Sa isip ko, inalala ko ang punto ng pagpapakuha ng litratong iyon: upang ipakita ang apat na taong inilagi ko sa kolehiyo. Kung haharap ako sa camera na tuwid ang aking buhok, hindi na ako iyon.
78 Âˇ Rachel Valencerina Marra
Jolens Pinagmasdan ni Laurie ang ulam sa baunan niya: ginisang ampalaya. “Gulay na naman,” mahinang reklamo ni Laurie sa kanyang sarili. Mula sa kanyang upuan ay inggit na inggit niyang sinilip ang makukulay na laman ng baunan ng kanyang mga kaklase: matitingkad na pulang hotdog, mapuputlang cheesedog, rosas na hamon, at mga ginintuang chicken nugget. Ngunit sa lahat ng mga pagkaing ito, napako ang kaniyang paningin sa katakam-takam na kahel na mga hipon ng katabing si Doreen. Sa siyam na taon ng kaniyang buhay ay hindi pa siya nakatitikim ng mga hipon, alimango, at ng iba pang mga lamang-dagat liban na lang sa mga isda. “Bawal sa iyo ’yan anak,” laging sambit ng kaniyang ina tuwing hihilingin niyang makatikim maski isang piraso ng hipong nakalukot. Napansin ni Doreen na panay ang sulyap ng katabi sa kaniyang kinakain. Inirapan nito si Laurie at tumalikod upang takpan ang kaniyang baunan. Simula pa lamang ng pasukan ay mainit na ang dugo ni Doreen kay Laurie. Usap-usapan noon sa klase nila, Grade 3 — Courteous, kung paano namula sa inis si Doreen noong nakita niyang may kaparehas siya ng bag sa unang araw ng pasukan. Dalawa lamang sila ni Laurie noong may bag na de-gulong, ngunit higit pa rito ay naroon ang mga mukha nina Jolina Magdangal at Marvin Agustin sa pink na disenyo. Kasagsagan noon ng Jolens craze, ang panahon ng Chuva Chu Chu, at walang ibang idolo ang mga batang babae kundi si Jolens. Nagmistula uling hinog na kamatis ang mukha ni Doreen dahil sa inis noong inayos ang seat plan ng klase — ipinagtabi silang dalawa ni Laurie. Kinabukasan, buong yabang na hatakhatak ni Doreen ang kanyang bagong bag. De-gulong at naroon pa rin ang mga mukha nina Jolina at Marvin, ngunit dilaw na ang kulay nito. Pagdating ni Doreen sa kanyang upuan, minata niya agad si Laurie. “Mas maganda ang bag ko kaysa sa ’yo.” Sinundan pa niya ito ng pagbelat. Mula noon, iba’t ibang klaseng pag-irap at pag-ismid ang tiniis ni Laurie mula kay Doreen. Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 79
Ni minsan, hindi pumasok sa isip ni Laurie ang lumaban. Malaki ang bulas ni Doreen, kumpara sa maliit at yayat na katawan ni Laurie. Bilang bagong estudyante sa pampublikong paaralan ng San Jose, wala siyang ibang kaklase at kaibigan na maaaring magtanggol sa kanya. Kung tutuusin, hindi naman siya ang nag-iisang nakatatanggap ng mapait na pakikitungo ni Doreen — nariyan si Melay na binansagang Melay Pilay dahil sa paika-ika nitong paglalakad, si Precious o Precious Bangus na ibang-iba sa lahat dahil sa kanyang pagiging mestisa, at si Rene na pinasikat ni Doreen bilang Boy Chikinini dahil sa madalas na pamamantal ng balat nito. Iisa ang payo nila kay Laurie: pabayaan na lang si Doreen. Hindi lamang dahil takot sila sa kaklaseng mapang-api, kundi sa dahil sa nanay nito. Kilala si Aling Jenny, ang nanay ni Doreen, bilang ang may-ari ng Doreen’s Fish and Seafood Stand sa palengke, ang pinakamalaki at pinakamabentang puwesto ng mga isda at lamang-dagat sa San Jose. Lagi silang kumpleto ng mga itinitinda at lahat ay sariwa pa. Solong-solo ng kanilang puwesto ang lahat ng mamimili. Kilala rin si Aling Jenny bilang ang pinakamasungit at pinakabungangerang tao sa palengke. Kaya walang nangangahas na humingi ng tawad sa mga paninda niya o ‘di kaya’y magpalista muna. Sa kabila nito, pinipili pa rin ng mga tao na pakitunguhan siya nang maayos dahil ang kapalit naman noo’y sariwa at malalaking lamang-dagat. Madalas, ginagamit itong pambanta ni Doreen sa mga inaaway niya: “Sige ka, isusumbong kita kay nanay nang ‘di na kayo makabili ng isda kahit kailan!” Bumuntong-hininga si Laurie at dahan-dahang isinara ang kaniyang baunan. Sa takip nito, nakangiti sa kanya si Jolina. Sa isip ni Laurie, “Nakuha ko nga itong pangarap kong baunan, hindi ko naman gusto ang laman.” Pagkatapos itago ang baunan, ibinaling na lang niya ang kanyang tingin sa mga kaklaseng naglalaro sa labas ng silid, hinihintay na dumating ang kanilang guro bilang hudyat ng pagtatapos ng recess. Nang matapos ang isang buong araw ng klase ay mag-isang nilakad ni Laurie ang daan pauwi. Nasa likod lamang ng eskuwelahan ang tirahan nila, inaabot ng hanggang limang minuto ang araw-araw 80 · Rachel Valencerina Marra
na paglalakad ni Laurie. Medyo liblib ang lugar, kumpara sa dating tinitirhan ng mag-anak sa Batasan, Quezon City. Sa nakasanayang lugar ni Laurie, tila nagkapatong-patong ang mga sementadong bahay, na dating mga barung-barong, sa tabi ng highway. Sa San Jose, panay mga tindahan at kainan ang nasa tabi ng kalsada at maraming pasikot-sikot ang kailangang galugarin tungo sa mga kabahayan. Maliliit man ang karamihan ng mga bahay, lahat mayroong bakuran na may mga iba’t ibang halaman at minsan pa nga’y mga matatayog na puno. Ganoon din ngayon ang bahay nina Laurie. Ngunit hindi pa rin siya sanay sa malambot na lupa ng San Jose. Inis na inis siya tuwing mararamdamang tumatalsik sa kanyang mga binti ang putik tuwing maglalakad siya, lalo na kung basa ang lupa dahil sa ulan. Gayong sementado na ang mga pangunahing kalsada ng San Jose, ang daanang tinatahak ni Laurie mula sa eskuwela hanggang sa kanilang bahay ay baku-bako pa. Nababaon pa kung minsan ang gulong ng kanyang de-hatak na bag sa mga uka ng lupa at bato. Pag-uwi, pinupunasan niya agad ang mga mukha nina Jolina at Marvin sa kanyang bag na naputikan. Hinahanap-hanap niya ang matigas na aspalto ng Batasan. “Mas makabubuti sa kalusugan mo ang ganoong lugar,” paliwanag ng kanyang ama pagkatapos ibalita sa kanilang mag-ina na nakakuha ito ng paupahang bahay sa Montalban. Dagdag pa ng ina niya, “Maski lakarin mo ang daan papasok ng eskuwela at pauwi sa bahay, hindi ka naman mapapagod at sariwa pa ang hangin.” Ang hindi maintindihan ni Laurie ay kung bakit kailangan pang ipaliwanag ng mga magulang niya kung bakit sila lilipat, hindi naman siya makatatanggi. Hindi naman siya magrereklamo sa kanila kahit na nalayo siya sa mga kaibigan niya sa dati niyang paaralan at ngayo’y nahihirapang makisama sa mga bagong kaklase. Alam naman kasi niya kung bakit — palagi na lang ang matindi niyang hika ang dahilan. Sa isang tingin pa lang, mahihinuha na agad ang karamdaman ni Laurie. Payat na payat ito at maliit para sa isang estudyante sa ikatlong baitang. Laging malalim ang hugot ng kanyang hininga. Malalamlam din ang mga mata nito. Walang pagkakataong lumalagpas ng batok ang kaniyang buhok, para raw laging presko at Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 81
maiwasan ang pagpapawis. Noong nasa Batasan pa sila, walang araw na hindi siya gumagamit ng face mask upang proteksyon sa usok at alikabok. Kung may isang bagay na ipinagpapasalamat si Laurie sa paglipat nila sa Montalban, iyon ay ang pagtigil ng kaniyang pagsusuot ng face mask. Sa kabila ng mga biglaang pagbabago sa kanyang buhay, nananatiling masaya pa rin kahit papaano si Laurie. Aminado siyang hindi na siya madalas atakihin ng hika, halos hindi na niya kailangan ang inhaler. Natutuwa siya kapag nakikita ang mga magulang na hindi nag-aalala dahil sa kanyang kalusugan. Walang anu-ano’y tumigil si Laurie sa paglalakad. Naalala niya ang baong ni hindi man lang niya ginalaw. “Pagagalitan ako ni mama ’pag nalaman niyang ’di ako kumain.” Pagkakuha sa baunan ay binuksan niya ito. Sumalubong sa kanya ang mapait na amoy ng ulam kaya inilayo ito mula sa kanya. Naghanap siya ng isang sulok kung saan puwedeng itapon ang pagkain. Sa tapat ng isang puno ng makopa ay bahagya siyang yumuko, at itinaob ang baunan. Eksaktong sinalo ng puwang ng dalawang ugat ang kanin at ulam ni Laurie. “Chuva chu chu, chuva chu chu… Heaven! Nasa heaven ako!” masayang pagkanta ni Laurie kasabay ng pagtaktak nito ng baunan sa katawan ng puno upang walang matira ni isang butil ng kanin. Meow! Tumigil si Laurie sa kanyang ginagawa at hinanap kung saan nagmula ang matinis na tunog. Tumayo siya nang tuwid at itinago sa likod ang baunan. Meow! Mula sa isa pang pumpon ng santan ay lumabas ang isang pusa. Nakilala ni Laurie ang pusang iyon — iyong laging nasa eskwelahan at nag-aabang ng mga tira-tira mula sa mga estudyante tuwing uwian. Madalas itong lumalapit kay Doreen dahil nagmumula sa kanya ang pinakamaraming tira, halimbawa’y mga tinik ng isda o balat ng hipon. Ang tawag sa kanya ay Baka dahil sa kulay ng balahibo nito: may itim na bilog sa isang mata, sa batok, at sa bandang puwetan at puti na ang buo nitong katawan. Mabagal itong naglakad tungo kay Laurie. 82 · Rachel Valencerina Marra
Meow. Bahagyang natakot si Laurie dahil isa sa mga bilin ng kaniyang mga magulang ay ang pag-iwas sa mga hayop, partikular na sa pusa. Ngayon lamang siya nagkaroon ng malapitang engkuwentro sa isang pusa. Inamoy-amoy ng pusa ang lupa, hanggang sa matunton nito ang pagkaing itinapon sa ugat ng puno. Maigi nitong tinanggal ang ulam na ampalaya sa ibabaw ng kanin gamit ang nguso, saka kumain. “Hm, palagay ko ayaw mo rin ng gulay. Pareho tayo!” Iniangat ng pusa ang ulo nito na para bang tumatango. Meow. Pinanood ni Laurie na ipagpatuloy ng pusa ang pagkain. Napansin niya na may sariwang sugat ito sa isang paa. “Uy, may sugat ka. Sa’n galing ’yan? Ay, alam ko na! Babalik ako ha!” Tumakbo si Laurie pauwi. Madilim pa rin sa bahay nang makarating siya rito. Sa unang pagkakataon, ipinagpasalamat niya na parehong may trabaho ang kanyang mga magulang dahil hindi nila malalamang kukuha siya ng mga benda mula sa kanilang first-aid kit at ng isang kahon na ginamit nila sa paglilipat ng mga gamit mula Batasan. Tumakbo uli si Laurie sa puno ng makopa, umaasang sana hindi pa umaalis ang pusang mukhang baka. Pagdating sa puno, naroon pa rin ang pusa, nakaupo sa ugat at dinidilaan ang sugat sa isang paa. Inilapag ni Laurie ang kahon sa tabi ng puno nang ang nakabukas na bahagi ay nakaharap sa gilid, at hindi sa itaas. “Wisswisswiss…Halika, lalagyan kita ng band-aid.” Meow. Paika-ikang lumapit ang pusa sa kaniya. Marahan nitong kinuskos ang kaniyang katawan sa mga binti ni Laurie. Nabigla siya sa ginawa ng pusa; hindi niya akalaing ganoon kalambot ang balahibo nito. Yumuko si Laurie upang haplusin ang ulo ng pusa, isang unang pagkakataon para sa kanya. “Magmula ngayon, ‘Jolens’ na ang itatawag ko sa ’yo.” Halos dalawang linggo nang hinahatiran ng pagkain ni Laurie si Jolens. Regular din niyang pinapalitan ang band-aid sa paa nito. Malugod namang kakain ang munting hayop, nilalasap ang pinaghalong kanin at sabaw ng mga sari-saring ulam: ginataang kalabasa, Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 83
pinakbet, ginisang sitaw, adobong kangkong, at iba pa. Gagawing upuan ni Laurie ang bag niyang de-gulong habang nagkukuwento sa pusa tungkol sa mga nangyari sa eskuwelahan. Kung hindi nakaupo sa may paanan ni Laurie, sa loob ng kahon nakahiga si Jolens habang tila nakikinig sa mga pagsasalaysay ng bata. Madalas tampok sa mga kuwento niya ang kaklaseng si Doreen. “Alam mo ba, si Doreen merong headband na katulad ng kay Jolens. Yung shades, na puwedeng gawing hair clip, at head band! Lagi niya yung gamit. Ipinagmamayabang niya ’yun sa ’ming lahat. Pati yung ipit na butterfly, ’yung gumagalaw na parang buhay! Lahat ’ata ng kulay, meron siya nu’n. Minsan parang garden yung ulo niya, laging dinudumog ng mga paru-paro.” Meow. “Sana may ganun din ako…Kasi, lagi niya akong inaasar. Hindi raw original ’yung baunan ko. Peke lang daw ’yun kasi hindi kasama si Marvin Agustin.” Meow. “Ay! Kamusta nga pala ’yung sugat mo?” Lumabas si Jolens mula sa kahong para na rin niyang naging bahay upang kumuskos sa mga binti ni Laurie. “Ayaaan, gumagaling na a!” Pumalakpak si Laurie at pagkatapos ay kinarga si Jolens. Para kay Laurie, si Jolens ang una niyang kaibigan sa San Jose. Kinagabihan, habang nanonood ng Labs ko si Babes, napansin ng ina ni Laurie na umuubo ang anak. “Lau, umuubo ka na naman.” Lumapit siya kay Laurie upang haplusin ang likod nito. Kahit anong pilit ni Laurie na pigilan ang mayamayang pag-ubo, para bang may sariling buhay ang kanyang mga baga na nagbubuga ng hangin. “May nakain ka bang magtri-trigger ng hika mo?” “Ma, wala po.” “E baka naman naglalalapit ka sa mga hayop.” “Hindi rin po.” “E di ka naman aatakihin ng hika kung walang magtri-trigger,” suspetsa ng ina ni Laurie. “Bago ka matulog, iinom ka ng gamot ha.” 84 · Rachel Valencerina Marra
“Opo.” Ipinagpatuloy ni Laurie ang panonood ng telebisyon. Ang ibig sabihin ng Biyernes sa eskuwelahan nina Laurie ay P.E. day. May flag ceremony sa umaga na ginaganap sa kanilang quadrangle. Pagkatapos ng flag ceremony, doon na rin sila pinag-eehersisyo nang sabay-sabay. At pagkatapos noon, kaguluhan. Nagiging playground ang buong quadrangle kung saan malaya ang mga batang maglaro ng kung anuman. May mga naglalaro ng agawan base, langit-lupa, luksong tinik, luksong baka, at iba pa. Malaya rin ang mga estudyanteng magdala ng mga teks, holen, garter para sa Chinese garter, at mga yoyo at trumpo. Lahat ng ito, pinanonood lamang ni Laurie mula sa isang gilid ng quadrangle kasama sina Rene at Melay. Silang tatlo ay liban sa ganoong klaseng mga aktibidad ng eskuwela dahil sa mga kondisyon nila. Kung si Laurie ay may hika at si Melay ay pilay, si Rene naman ay sensitibo ang kanyang balat sa sobrang sikat ng araw at pati na rin sa pawis. Kapag nagsasawa na sila kanonood sa mga kaklaseng naglalaro, nagja-jack-en-poy o sen-sen-sen o bahay kubo na lang sila. Noong Biyernes na iyon, lumiban ng klase si Melay kaya si Rene lamang ang kasama ni Laurie. Nasa kalagitnaan sila ng paglalaro ng jack-en-poy nang tila may naaninagang maliit na puting hayop si Laurie. Tatanawin pa sana niya kung saan ito pumunta at kung ano ito nang lumapit sa kanila si Doreen. “Kayo na pala ni Boy Chikinini, haha!” Parang namantal ang buong mukha ni Rene dahil sa hiya. Napasimangot naman si Laurie kay Doreen. Inirapan muna silang dalawa ni Doreen bago ito pumasok sa gusali ng kanilang eskuwelahan. “’Yaan mo na ’yun,” sabi ni Laurie kay Rene. “Hindi pa rin ba siya naniniwala sa karma? Alam mo ’yun, yung — ” “AAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!” Nagsitakbuhan ang mga estudyante at guro tungo sa silid ng Grade 3 — Courteous, kung saan nanggaling ang matinding pagsigaw. Sumama sina Rene at Laurie sa agos ng mga nagsisitakbuhang estudyante. Nakipagsiksikan sila upang silipin kung ano ang nangyari kay Doreen para sumigaw siya nang napakalakas. Nakita
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 85
nilang lahat na nakatayo si Doreen sa tabi ng kanyang upuan, umiiyak habang kinakausap ng isang guro. “Kadiri o, tingnan n’yo yung puwet niya!” Napatingin ang lahat sa puwetan ni Doreen. Para itong nilamutakan ng putik. Napansin din ni Laurie na may dumi rin sa upuan ni Doreen. “AY NATAE!” Nagsihagalpakan ang mga estudyante sa paligid ng silid. Mas lalong lumakas ang pagngawa ni Doreen, walang magawa ang mga guro upang mapatahan ito at para mapatahimik ang mga mag-aaral. Hindi iyon ang unang pagkakataong napahiya si Doreen. Noong Lunes lamang, natagpuan ang kanyang bag na may dumi. Basa rin ng ihi ang mga gamit sa loob nito. Iyak nang iyak si Doreen sapagkat iyon ang dilaw niyang Jolina–Marvin na de-gulong na bag. Iniwan lamang niya ito sa koridor at pagbalik niya mabaho na ito at mapanghi. Nang sumunod na araw, knapsack na lamang ang bag niya at hindi na tulad ng dating Jolina–Marvin, sa halip ay Mojacko ang disenyo nito. Ang sabi ni Precious kina Melay, Rene, at Laurie, “’Yan! ’Yan ang karma niya dahil sa ugali niya!” Nang dumating ang prinsipal at nailagay na sa ayos ang mga estudyante, pinauwi na muna nila si Doreen na nakapagpalit na ng damit. Buti na lang may extra panty at shorts si Doreen sa kanyang “shoebox” — lahat ng estudyante meron nitong naglalaman ng sipilyo, toothpaste, maliit na sabon, plastik na baso, cologne, at pamalit na damit. Hindi na siya pinapasok sa ikalawang kalahati ng klase para sa araw na iyon. Sa silid nina Laurie, maingat na ipinaliwanag ng kanilang punong-guro na hindi natae si Doreen, kundi mayroong ibang natae sa kanyang upuan, at naupuan niya lamang ito. Sa kabila ng paglilinaw ng kanilang punong-guro, hindi pa rin nabawasan ang mga estudyanteng napapahagikgik kapag tinitingnan ang espasyong iniwan ng upuan ni Doreen — na nasa quadrangle at pinatutuyo sa ilalim ng init ng araw matapos linisin ng kanilang janitor. Simula noon, hindi na muling nagreklamo si Laurie kay Jolens tungkol sa pang-aasar sa kaniya ni Doreen. Palibhasa, sa kanilang
86 · Rachel Valencerina Marra
klase ay si Doreen na ang tampulan ng tukso. Nang minsang nagtangka si Doreen na kutyain ang mga ipit ni Laurie na binili lamang sa bangketa, nagsisi lamang ito sapagkat siya naman ang binalingan ng iba nilang mga kaklase, na pinangunahan ni Precious. “E ano ngayon kung peke? E ikaw, amoy tae!” “Haha oo nga. Si Doreen Na-dumi! Si Doreen Na-dumi! Si Doreen Na-dumi!” Isang kumpol ng mga batang lalake ang sumunod sa halimbawa ni Precious. Nagtapos ang lahat sa opisina ng prinsipal nila. Isang tawag sa telepono lamang ang kailangang gawin ni Doreen at naroon na agad ang ina niya para saklolohan siya. Walang tigil katatalak ni Aling Jenny. Sumugod siya sa eskuwelahang hindi nagpalit ng damit. Umaaalingasaw sa lansa ang apron at daster ng ale at sa bawat pagtatapos ng pangungusap ay ikinukumpas niya ang kanyang mga kamay, dahilan upang maipamaypay kina Precious at sa iba pang mga batang sinesermonan ang amoy ng sari-saring isda. Wala namang magawa ang prinsipal nila kundi ang manood at pigilan ang paghinga. Suki siya sa puwesto nina Aling Jenny at ayaw niyang mabigyan ng bulok na isda kung sakali sa susunod niyang pamimili rito. Tuwang-tuwa si Laurie na ikinukuwento ito kay Jolens. Kung hindi si Doreen ang tampok para sa araw, ang palabas nina Jolina at Marvin ang sentro ng pagsasalaysay ni Laurie. Noong panahong nagkakalabuan sina Jolina at Marvin sa palabas, iyon ang panahong kilala na si Doreen bilang “Doreen Na-dumi.” Nang dumating ang dating kasintahan ni Marvin sa eksena, nagsisimula nang lumiban sa mga klase si Doreen. Tuluyan nang naghiwalay sina Jolina at Marvin sa telenobela, habang tuluyan na ring gumaling ang sugat sa paa ni Jolens. At noong bumisita uli ang ina ni Doreen sa opisina ng prinsipal, naging sina Jolina at Marvin uli. Sa wakas, sa katapusan ng palabas ay kinasal ang mga bida. Sa paaralan, parehong bakante ang mga upuan nina Doreen at Laurie. Ilang araw na hindi nakapasok sa eskuwelahan si Laurie dahil inatake ito ng malubhang hika. Nanatili lamang siya sa bahay, pati mga magulang niya ay lumiban pansamantala sa mga trabaho nila para mabantayan ang kaisa-isang anak. May mga araw na nagdedeliryo Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 87
si Laurie, inuungol ang pangalan ng malapit na kaibigan. May mga gabing maalimpungatan sila dahil sa pagdedeliryo ng bata. Kalahating dilat ang mga mata nito, nakatingin sa bintana. “Jolens, Jolens. May…ikukuwento ako…sa ’yo…” Inisip na lamang ng mg magulang ni Laurie na nananaginip lamang ang bata gayong alam nilang hindi basta-basta ang mga deliryong ito. Buong magdamag silang gising para lamang siguraduhing hindi magiging huli ang lahat kung sakaling kailanganing itakbo sa ospital ang anak. Isang linggo’t kalahati ang nagdaan, balik-eskuwela uli si Laurie. Samantalang nanatiling bakante ang upuan ni Doreen. Hindi nila alam kung nasaan na ito. Ang sabi ni Melay, nakita raw ng mama niya na kasama ni Aling Jenny si Doreen sa pagbabantay sa puwesto nila sa palengke. Sabi naman ni Rene, may mga kaibigan siya mula sa kabilang pampublikong eskuwelahang may bago silang kaklaseng masungit. Ngunit sa kabila ng lahat ng haka-haka, malinaw na makikita sa mesa ni Doreen ang iniwan niyang alaala sa paaralan: Doreen Na-dumi. Sa unang araw ng muli niyang pagpasok sa eksuwela, ang uwian ang tangi niyang kinasabikan. Nagmadali siyang tumakbo pauwi, at tumigil sa puno ng makopa. “Wisswisswisswiss…Jolens! May pagkain ako!” Ngunit ilang saglit ang lumipas, walang pusang lumapit sa kaniya. Naroon pa rin ang kahon na naging tahanan ni Jolens nang umiika pa ito dahil sa kanyang sugat sa paa, bagamat malambot na ang karton at lasug-lasog na ito sa ibang bahagi. Sinubok niyang maghintay pa uli ng limang minuto, hanggang sampung minuto, hanggang kalahating oras. Inabot na siya ng gabi roon, at naabutan siya ng ama galing sa trabaho na nakaupo sa ugat ng puno ng makopa, umiiyak. “Si Jolens po…” sambit ni Laurie sa ama sa kalagitnaan ng pagluha nito. Napabuntong-hininga ang ama ni Laurie, hindi niya alam kung ano ang gagawin upang mapatahan ang anak. Kinarga niya na lamang ito pauwi, habang hatak-hatak ang bag na de-gulong ni Laurie. Kinabukasan isang dosenang poster ni Jolina Magdangal ang 88 · Rachel Valencerina Marra
ipinasalubong ng ama niya, bumili rin ang kanyang ina ng headband na shades na pwede ring ipit, ngunit nanatiling matamlay pa rin si Laurie kahit na lubos nang maganda ang lagay ng kalusugan nito. Dumaan ang ilang mga araw at linggo, lalo pang bumuti ang kalagayan ni Laurie. Tuwang-tuwa ang mga magulang niya dahil nagkatotoo ang palagay nilang mas mabuti para sa anak nila ang mamuhay sa isang lugar na tulad ng Montalban. Sa katunayan ay binigyan na siya ng permiso ng kanyang doktor na kumain ng mga lamangdagat. Kung noon ay labis niya itong ikatutuwa, ngayon ay hindi na niya ito kinasabikan. Isang araw, ginising siya nang maaga ng kanyang ina. Pagkagaling na pagkagaling ni Laurie mula sa banyo, iniabot agad sa kanya ng kanyang ina ang isang basket. “Ngayon, sasamahan mo akong mamalengke. Hulaan mo rin kung ano’ng ulam natin ngayon.” Unang pagkakataon iyong makarating ni Laurie sa palengke. Nilakad lang din nila ito, halos katabi ng kanilang barangay ang palengke ng San Jose. Sumalubong kay Jenny ang iba’t ibang amoy: hamog, kanal, goto, karne, pan de sal, usok mula sa mga tricycle, at isda. Huli na nang mapansin ni Laurie ang malaking karatulang nagsasabing Doreen’s Fish and Seafood Stand. “Oy, ngayon ka lang nagawi rito ha!” Litaw na litaw ang boses ni Aling Jenny sa ingay at mga kaluskos ng mga tao sa palengke. “Oo nga e. Bawal kasi kay Lau ang seafood, e ngayon sabi ng doktor, ok na.” Hinawakan niya si Laurie sa balikat. “O, anak. Pili ka na ng gusto mo.” Naroon sa harap ni Laurie ang iba’t ibang uri ng isda at lamangdagat na matagal na niyang pinapangarap na kainin. Malansa man ang amoy ng mga isdang nagkakaiba sa kulay, hugis, at laki, alam ni Laurie na masarap na kapag naluto at sariwa ang lahat ng iyon. Pumipili pa siya nang mapako ang kanyang paningin sa isang baldeng puno ng mga malalaking hipon na buhay pa’t nagsisitalon. Mula sa isang sulok, may naaninagan siyang pagkilos. Isang puting bagay sa loob ng puwesto nina Aling Jenny. Tumingkayad siya upang makita Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 89
kung ano iyon: si Doreen na nagtatago sa likod ng estante ng mga pinatuyong isda. Muntik nang matawa si Laurie dahil sa laki ng bulas ni Doreen, imposible talagang hindi siya makikita sa likod ng estanteng iyon. Hinatak agad ni Laurie ang braso ng ina. ”Ma, gusto ko ng fried chicken. Fried chicken na lang po.” “E anak, ayaw mo ng seafood?” Bakat na bakat ang pagtataka sa mukha ng ina ni Laurie. “Ayoko po, fried chicken na lang po.” “Ok sige, anak…Pasensya na, Aling Jenny. Iba pala ang gusto ni bunso.” “Ay ayos lang! Mga bata talaga ngayon, fried chicken lang ang alam na ulam! Maski ang Doreen ko, ganu’n din! Basta sa susunod ha!” Magkahawak-kamay ang mag-ina na naglakad papalayo. Habang abala ang kanyang ina sa pagtahak sa daan tungo sa puwesto para sa mga manok, palingon-lingon si Laurie sa puwesto ni Aling Jenny. Sa unang paglingon, nakita niyang lumabas na si Doreen mula sa kanyang pinagtaguan. Sa pangalawa, ang pagtalon-talon ng mga hipon sa balde. Sa pangatlo, mabilis na pagkilos mula sa isang maliit na puting hayop.
90 · Rachel Valencerina Marra
Kakang Gata “Ginataang kalabasa,” sagot ni Neneng sa labing-isang taong gulang na si Jun nang tanungin nito kung ano ang nakahain sa mesa. Nanamlay ang pustura ni Jun, bumagsak ang mga balikat nito, at pumungay ang mga mata. Gata na naman. Tinitigan niya ang ulam (durog ang kalabasa na lumulutang-lutang sa malapot na gata), pagkatapos ay ibinaling niya ang tingin sa kasama sa hapag. Sumasandok na ng ulam si Neneng, ang katulong nila sa bahay. Suot nito ang karaniwan niyang daster at naka-headband ang maikli at kulot nitong buhok. Sa tantsa ni Jun, hindi lalampas sa edad na tatlumpu’t lima si Neneng. “Magiging matandang dalaga ka na niyan kung ’di ka maghahanap ng asawa,” tukso madalas ng kanyang ina kay Neneng. “Sino naman po’ng papatol sa ’kin? Lumba-lumba na ako!” Itinulak papalayo ni Jun ang platong puno ng kaning umuusok sa init at tumayo. “Busog po ako.” “Bahala ka, isusumbong —” Hindi na narinig ni Jun ang banta ni Neneng dahil mabilis itong tumayo at lumabas ng bahay. “Bad trip sa bahay, ’sang linggo nang gata ulam namin!” Nakaupo sa isang bilog sina Jun, at ang mga kaibigan nitong sina Marco, Reggie, at Nilo. Mula sa kanilang bahay, dumiretso si Jun kina Marco. Dahil Sabado naman, tinawagan nila sa telepono sina Reggie at Nilo upang ayain silang maglaro. Lahat sila’y nakatira sa iisang subdivision, kaya walang limang minuto, naroon na silang lahat sa kuwarto ni Marco. Naglalaro ng Yu-Gi-Oh cards sina Nilo at Jun, pinanonood sila ni Reggie, habang si Marco ay abala sa kanyang Gameboy. “Kailan ba kasi babalik mama at papa mo?” tanong ni Nilo. Bumunot siya ng isang baraha mula sa kanyang deck at inilapag sa sahig kasama ang iba pang mga baraha. “Defense!” “Next week pa.” Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 91
“Bakit kasi hindi ka sumama?” tanong ni Reggie na nanonood sa laban nina Jun at Nilo. “E ’tamong may klase e. Ayaw nila akong um-absent. Attack!” Isinalpak ni Jun sa sahig ang isang baraha sa sahig at kinuha niya ang barahang kalalapag lamang ni Nilo. “Tsaka, sabi nila, mapapagod lang ako sa biyahe.” Bahagyang tumingala si Marco mula sa kanyang paglalaro ng Gameboy. “Ay! Naaalala n’yo pa ’yun, nu’ng field trip natin?” “Oo nga! Nu’ng sinukahan ni Jun si Teacher Rose!” “Nag-stopover pa tayo nu’n kasi nangasim buong bus!” “Oo na, oo na! Biyahilo na kung biyahilo, panalo naman ako sa round na ’to! Haha!” Ipinakita ni Jun sa tatlong kaibigan ang limang baraha na nasa kanyang kamay. “Nabuo ko ang Exodia, panalo ako haha!” Natatawang umiling si Reggie sa direksyon ni Nilo. Hinagis ni Nilo sa hangin ang mga natitira niyang baraha bilang pagsuko. “Lagi na lang!” “Ganu’n talaga! Sige, banyo lang muna ako.” Kabisado na ni Jun ang mga pasikot-sikot sa bahay nina Marco. Kahit na nakapikit alam niyang sa ikalawang palapag, magkatabi ang mga kuwarto ni Marco at ng kuya nitong nasa ika-apat na taon ng sekondarya sa eskuwelahan nila. Bago dumating sa hagdan, naroon ang banyo. Nang madaanan niya ang pinto ng kuwarto ng kuya ni Marco, nakarinig siya ng mga kakaibang ingay. Sumilip si Jun sa makipot na puwang sa pintong hindi nakapinid nang maayos. Nakita niya ang kama — nakahiga rito ang kuya ni Marco, at sa ibabaw niya ay nakadapa ang isang dalaga. Naghahalikan sila. Lumapit pa si Marco sa awang ng pinto upang mas makita ang nangyayari. Malikot ang mga ulo at kamay nilang dalawa. Kitang-kita ni Jun ang pagtatagisan ng kanilang mga labi, ngipin, at dila. Namawis ang noo niya nang maaninagan niyang gumagapang ang mga kamay ng kuya ni Marco mula sa balikat ng dalaga tungo sa dibdib nito. Nag-init ang buong katawan ni Jun at naramdaman niyang parang sumikip ang kanyang brief. Umangat ang ulo ng dalaga sabay paghugot ng hininga. Napaatras bigla si Jun. Kilala niya ang babaeng iyon. 92 · Rachel Valencerina Marra
Si Cherry ang mentor ni Jun sa Chess Club nila sa eskwelahan. Nasa ikaapat na taon na rin ito ng sekondarya, tulad ng kuya ni Marco. Matalino at responsable, walang pagdududa mula kay Jun na si Cherry ang magiging valedictorian pagdating ng kanilang pagtatapos. Kung hindi pa nakita ni Jun ang nunal sa baba ng dalagang kasama ng kuya ni Marco, hindi niya makikilala si Cherry — idagdag pa rito na hindi niya suot-suot ang kanyang salamin. Nagmadaling pumunta si Jun sa banyo at naghilamos agad. Hindi siya makapaniwalang si Cherry ang nakitang dalaga. Akala niya siya iyong tipo ng babaeng nangangako sa kanyang mga magulang na magkakanobyo lamang kapag tapos na sa kolehiyo. Tinitigan niya ang sarili sa salamin, paulit-ulit na dinadaanan sa alaala ang nasaksihan. Si Cherry na matalino, responsable, at magaling sa chess ay pinanood kong makipaglaplapan sa kuya ni Marco. Naramdaman na naman niya ang kakaibang pag-init ng kanyang katawan, pati na rin ang paninikip sa kanyang brief. Mula sa salamin, dumako ang paningin ni Jun sa kanyang shorts. Inangat niya ang garter ng kanyang shorts at brief. May nag-iba sa kanyang ari. Tumigas ito. Natakot si Jun. Hindi niya alam kung anong gagawin niya. Ayaw din niyang hawakan ang ari dahil baka kung ano ang mangyari dito. Dapat hindi ko na lang pinanood si Cherry na makipaglaplapan sa kuya ni Marco — si Cherry na matalino, responsable, at magaling sa chess. Inayos na lang niya ang kanyang salawal at hinatak paibaba ang kanyang kamiseta nang sa gayon ay matakpan ang pag-umbok ng kanyang ari. Dahan-dahan siyang naglakad pabalik sa kuwarto ni Marco nang nakatakip ang mga mata. Ayaw niyang makita kung ano pa man ang ginagawa nina Cherry dahil baka lalo pang lumaki ang problema niya sa pagitan ng kanyang mga hita. Pagpasok niya sa kuwarto, hindi siya pinansin ng mga kaibigan dahil abala ang mga ito sa panonood ng Saw 3 sa portable dvd player ni Marco. Nakaupo ang tatlong bata sa sahig, kaya pumwesto si Jun sa paanan ng kama ni Marco nang may unang nakatakip sa kanyang mga hita. Sa maliit na screen, may isang lalaking dahan-dahang nilulunod sa dinurog na mga bulok na katawan ng baka.
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 93
“Wooooahhh, ang cool.” Hangang-hanga si Reggie sa pelikula. Napahinga naman nang maluwag si Jun dahil bumalik uli sa normal ang pakiramdam niya habang nanonood. Halos gabi na nang umuwi si Jun. Pumunta siya sa kusina upang kumuha ng isang basong tubig at doon niya naabutang nagpipiga ng kinayod na laman ng niyog si Neneng habang sinisipol ang kantang Sayaw, Darling ni Willie Revillame. Umiindak-indak pa ito kasabay ng tiyempo ng kanta. Tumigil lang si Neneng nang mapansing naroon na si Jun. “Sa’n ka galing? Buong maghapon ka na sa labas a.” “Kina Marco po.” Mabilis na uminom si Jun at dumiretso tungo sa kanyang kuwarto. Pagkasara niya ng pinto, sinigurado niyang naka-lock ito at ibinaba rin ang mga blinds ng bintana. Humiga siya sa kama. Si Cherry na matalino, responsable, at magaling sa chess ay pinanood kong makipaglaplapan sa kuya ni Marco. Pinanood ko si Cherry na makipaglaplapan sa kuya ni Marco — si Cherry na matalino, responsable, at magaling sa chess. Tila mantrang umulit-ulit sa kanyang isipan ang mga pangungusap na iyon, ngunit hindi na malinaw ang eksenang bumalik sa kanyang alaala: babae at lalaking nasa kama, naghahalikan. Namayani ulit ang init sa kanyang katawan, ngunit hindi naging lubos ang paninigas ng kanyang ari. Hinubad niya ang salawal at brief, at pinagmasdan ang sariling katawan. Nagtaka siya kung bakit ito nanigas nang ganoon, ngunit mas nagtaka siya kung bakit mas matigas ito noong nasa bahay siya ni Marco kaysa ngayong mag-isa na lang siya sa kanyang kama. Naalala niyang mayroon siyang litrato ni Cherry. Tumayo siya, hindi alintana ang pagkahubad. Sa loob ng cabinet ng kanyang study table, nagkalat ang iba’t ibang litrato ni Jun na panay kuha sa eskuwelahan. Inisa-isa niya ang mga ito hanggang sa makita niya ang hinahanap na litrato. Magkatabi silang dalawa rito. Walang suot na salamin si Cherry. Bahagya ring nakabukas ang kanyang bibig, at hawak-hawak niya ang itim na piyesang hari. Katatapos lang nilang maglaro ng chess — puti si Cherry — at talo si Jun. 94 · Rachel Valencerina Marra
Bumalik siya sa kama dala-dala ang litrato. Pinagmasdan niya si Cherry, at unti-unti luminaw uli ang eksena. Si Cherry na matalino, responsable, at magaling sa chess ay pinanood kong makipaglaplapan sa kuya ni Marco. Pinanood ko si Cherry na makipaglaplapan sa kuya ni Marco — si Cherry na matalino, responsable, at magaling sa chess. Si Cherry na mapaglaro ang mga labi. Si Cherry na kinakapos ng hininga. Si Cherry na may boobs. Si Cherry na malikot ang mga kamay. Si Cherry na hawak-hawak ang hari. Bumalik uli ang paninigas ng ni Jun. Inilapag niya ang litrato sa tabi niya at hinawakan niya ang kanyang ari. Hindi niya alam kung tama ba o mali ang ginagawa niya, basta ang alam niya dapat may gawin siya. Hinahaplos-haplos niya ito at napa-ungol siya dahil sa sarap ng pakiramdam. Hindi siya makahinga ngunit gusto niya ang paninigas ng mga laman niya sa kanyang mga hita at binti. Ipinagpatuloy niya ito hanggang sa pabilis na nang pabilis ang pagtaas-baba ng kanyang kamay na mahigpit na nakakapit sa kanya. Sige pa, sige pa. Si Cherry na matalino, responsable, at magaling sa chess. Si Cherry na mapaglaro ang mga labi. Si Cherry na kinakapos ng hininga. Si Cherry na may boobs. Si Cherry na malikot ang mga kamay. Si Cherry na hawak-hawak ang hari ko. Si Cherry na mapaglaro ang mga labi. Si Cherry na kinakapos ng hininga. Si Cherry na may boobs. Si Cherry na malikot ang mga kamay. Si Cherry na hawak-hawak ang ari ko. Si Cherry na mapaglaro ang mga labi. Si Cherry na kinakapos ng hininga. Si Cherry na may boobs. Si Cherry na malikot ang mga kamay. Si Cherry na hawak-hawak ang titi ko. SiCherry siCherry siCherry siCherry siCherry siCherry siCherry siCherry siCherrysiCherrysiCherrysiCherrysiCherry CHERRY Nanginig ang buo niyang katawan habang sumisirit ang mainit na semilya mula sa kanya. Hingal na hingal siya at patang-pata. Ilang saglit lamang ang lumipas matapos tumagilid ni Jun sa pagkakahiga, nakatulog na ito. Naalimpungatan si Jun sa ingay ng mga tricycle. Gayong sarado ang mga blinds ng bintana, nakatakas pa rin sa mga siwang nito ang liwanag ng araw. Bumangon siya at nagtaka kung ano iyong naninikit sa kanyang palad at mga hita. Nang makita ang litrato nila ni Cherry sa Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 95
kama, naalala niya kung saan nagmula ang puting mantsa. Sinubok niyang punasan ng lumang kamiseta ang mantsa ngunit nanikit na ito sa kanyang balat. Isinuot niyang muli ang kanyang mga pang-ibaba at tutungo na sana sa banyo upang maghugas, nang mapansing may mantsa rin sa kobrekama niya. Patay. Wala dapat makakita nito. Kinuha muna niya ang litrato ni Cherry, tinupi nang sa gayon ay si Cherry lamang ang makikita. Itinago niya ito sa kahon sa ilalim ng kanyang kama kasama ang mga pinakaiingatan niyang Yu-GiOh cards. Pagkatapos ay hinatak niya ang kobrekama, sanhi upang bumagsak sa sahig ang mga unan at kumot. Hindi muna niya pinansin ang pagkalat ng mga gamit sa kanyang kuwarto. Ang nasa isip lang niya noon ay madala agad ang kanyang kobrekama sa labahan upang maibabad. Paglabas na paglabas ni Jun mula sa kuwarto ay si Neneng na kumakanta ng Ikaw Na Nga ang nakasalubong nito. Kung wala lang dalang gamit si Jun, kukuskusin niya ang kanyang mga mata. Nagulat siya sa nakita. Naka-gel ang maikli at kulot nitong buhok. Natatakpan din ng makapal na kolorete ang mukha niya — alanganin ang pagkapula ng kanyang mga pisngi sa pagkatingkad ng labi niyang pink. Hapit ang blusa nito na ipinapakita ang kurbada ng kaniyang katawang mapapares sa bote ng Pepsi. Ang pantalon naman niya ay iyong checkered at hapit. Sa braso niya, nakasukbit ang bayong na tila ba isang mamahaling bag. Nailang si Jun sa bagong anyo ni Neneng. “Saan mo dadalhin ’yan?” “A, paaarawan ko lang po.” “Sa’n ho kayo pupunta?” “Mamamalengke lang.” “Sa talipapa?” “Oo, sa’n pa ba?” Pagkaalis ni Neneng, nagmadali si Jun papunta sa labahan. Nagipon siya ng tubig sa isang balde, at doon inilublob ang kobrekama. Ipinaapaw pa niya ang tubig upang masiguradong babad na babad ang tela. Walang pakialam si Jun kung ano uli ang itatanong sa kanya
96 · Rachel Valencerina Marra
ni Neneng pagbalik nito, ang mahalaga para sa kanya ay walang makakakita ng ebidensya ng ginawa niya. Ang refrigerator ang una niyang pinuntahan pagpasok sa loob ng bahay. Pinaalala ng kumukulo niyang tiyan na halos isang araw na siyang hindi kumakain nang maayos. Pagbukas niya ng refrigerator, sinalubong siya ng lamig at ng sari-saring amoy ng pagkain. Mayroong mga saging at ponkan, mantikilya, kalahating rolyo ng cake, dalawang bote ng softdrinks, at mga naka-tupperware na tira-tirang ulam na ginataan. Sa freezer, natagpuan niya ang pake-paketeng mga hotdog, burger patties, longganisa, at tocino. Nagulat si Jun sa dami ng mga pagkaing nasa freezer. Tantsa niya na sobrang tagal na ng mga iyon sa refrigerator dahil sa kapal ng yelong nakabalot sa mga ito. Kasabay din noon ay ang pagtataka niya kung bakit sa dami ng mga pagkaing puwedeng iluto ni Neneng, araw-araw pa siyang nagaabalang pumunta sa talipapa ng kanilang subdivision ngunit panay naman gata ang niluluto niya. Mabilis siyang kumain ng isang hiwa ng cake at sa mismong bote ng softdrinks na siya uminom. Nagpasya siyang sundan si Neneng. Hindi naman ganoon kakomplikado ang daan tungo sa talipapa — lalo na’t katabi lang ito halos ng basketball court, ang sentro ng kanilang subdivision. Maraming mga namimili, ngunit hindi gaanong makapal ang mga tao. Naging madali lang para kay Jun ang matuntong si Neneng. Sa laki ng pangangatawan ni Neneng, imposible yatang hindi ko siya makita kahit saan, isip ni Jun. Naabutan pa niya ito sa gulayan na bumibili ng mga hiwa nang gulay. Pagkatapos ay sa bilihan ng niyog. Doon niya nakita ang isang lalakeng matipuno ang pangangatawan. Wala siyang pang-itaas na saplot habang nagkakayod. Maya-maya niyang inaagapan na huwag tumatagaktak ang pawis sa kanyang ulo at katawan gamit ang isang tuwalya. Nangingintab ang kayumangging balat ng lalaki sa init ng araw. Isang kumpol ng mga mamimili — pawang mga babaeng bihis na bihis at makapal ang kolorete sa mukha — ang nakapila para bumili ng niyog. Isa roon si Neneng. Manwal ang kayuran ng niyog na ginagamit, sa isang sulok ng
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 97
tindahan ay naroon ang de-makinang kayuran ng niyog na may nakasabit na karatula: SIRA. Sa bawat paggalaw ng katawan ng lalake ay umuunat ang mga laman nito, lalo na sa mga braso. Dumating ang pagkakataon ni Neneng para bumili. Dalawang niyog. Muli, walang tigil sa pag-indayog ang katawan ng lalake. Pagkasupot nito sa kinayod na niyog, dumampi ang kamay niya sa kamay ni Neneng. “Hm, kaya pala,” sambit ni Jun sa kaniyang sarili na natatawa. “Bukas uli ha,” Brusko at magaspang ang boses ng lalake. Abottenga ang ngiti ng matandang dalaga kahit na tumalikod na ito para lisanin ang pila. Tumakbo pauwi si Jun para maunahan si Neneng. Pagdating sa bahay binuksan agad nito ang telebisyon. Narinig niyang bumukas ang gate kaya nagmadali siyang umupo sa sofa, nagkukunwaring nanonood ng cartoons. Pagdating ni Neneng na dinaanan lang niya si Jun at dumiretso sa kusina. Hindi niya sinita ang bata dahil sa panonood ng telebisyon nang ganoon kaaga, tulad ng nakagawian. Hindi man lamang nito napansin na pawisan at humihingal ang bata. Eksaktong alas-dose ng tanghali ay naghain ng pananghalian si Neneng. Suot na nito ang karaniwang gayak nitong daster, nakaheadband na rin ang kanyang buhok. Wala na rin ang kolorete nito sa mukha. “Oy Jun,” babala ni Neneng, “’pag di ka kumain ngayon hindi kita papayagang lumabas para maglaro.” Nilalapag pa lamang ni Neneng ang ulam sa mesa ay nakakunot na ang noo ni Jun. Walang sigla siyang nagsandok ng kanin at ulam. Sumubo si Jun ng isa at pinilit ang sariling ngumuya. Pinaglalaruan niya ang kanyang pagkain gamit ang kutsara nang pumasok sa kanyang isipan si Cherry — si Cherry na matalino, responsable, at magaling sa chess ay pinanood kong makipaglaplapan sa kuya ni Marco. Pinanood ko si Cherry na makipaglaplapan sa kuya ni Marco. Si Cherry na matalino, responsable, at magaling sa chess. Si Cherry na mapaglaro ang mga labi. Si Cherry na kinakapos ng hininga. Si Cherry na may boobs. Si Cherry na malikot ang mga 98 · Rachel Valencerina Marra
kamay. Si Cherry na hawak-hawak ang titi ko. Lumunok siya. Si Cherry. Si Cherry si Cherry Si Cherry. Mapaglarong mga labi. Kinakapos ng hininga. May boobs. Malilikot ang mga kamay. Mahigpit na pagkahawak sa titi ko. Pinagmasdan niya ang sabaw na pinaliligiran ang kanyang kanin. Si Cherry at ako sa kama. Mahigpit na pagkahawak sa titi ko. Si Cherry at ang kuya ni Marco. Taasbabataasbaba. Si Cherry at ang mangkakayod ng niyog. Taasbabataasbabataasbaba. Si Cherry na pinipiga ako. Taasbabataasbabataasbaba. Sumubo uli siya. Bahagyang nakabuka ang mga labi ni Cherry. Hawak niya ako. Bukas ang kanyang mga labi. Lumunok siya at pumikit. Pagdilat niya, ang unang-una niyang nakita ay si Neneng na sunod-sunod ang pagsubo ng pagkain. Isang linya ng maputing gata ang gumuhit mula sa sulok ng kanyang bibig hanggang sa baba niya. Napasuka si Jun sa mismo niyang plato, at bago pa man muling mangasim ang lalamunan nito ay tumakbo siya tungong banyo at doon ipinagpatuloy ang pagsusuka.
Heights Seniorsâ€™ Folio 2011 Âˇ 99
Sarah Liliana Z. Sarmiento bfa creative writing
Si Sarah Sarmiento ay steady na estudyante, proud Ateneo speed member, lay low WriterSkill Creative Circle member, lihim na choir singer, nagfeefeeling na runner, nagpapanggap na mountain climber, mapagmahal na best friend, mas mapagmahal (at cheesy) na girlfriend, loving daughter, (madalas mataray pero overall) masayang sister, firm believer. At oo nga pala! Matinding eavesdropper at people-watcher kaya madalas ay (hardcore) writer. Maraming salamat, unang-una, kay Lord at sa aking pamilya: Papa, Mama, Nainey, Storm, Boey at Snow, Bangks, Tata Me at Pat. Salamat rin ng marami sa Ateneo speed, wscc, Block E. Salamat sa sajas, lalo na sa aking college support system, Sevs, Ives at Kat. At kay Sir Glen, siyempre. Nais ko ring pasalamatan ang mga karpintero ng Dama de Noche. Walang mabubuo pag â€˜di kayo kumakanta at nagpupukpok umaumaga. Salamat. Para sa inyo â€˜to. At siyempre, lubos na pasasalamat kay Marlon, ang tunay na Lon. Kahit gaano pa man katagal, ikaw pa rin babalikan ko, ikaw lang uuwian ko.
Da Carpenters mga tauhan Manong Gorio – Siya ang pinakamatanda sa grupo. Mainitin ang ulo at mabilis mawalan ng pasensya dahil sa tingin niya, masyadong kaunti ang pinagaralan ng dalawa para sa edad nila. Lon – 23 taong gulang at mahilig kumanta ng malakas. Sa tatlo, siya ang pinakamasaya at kuntento sa disposisyon niya sa buhay. Ado – Siya ang pamangkin ni Manong Gorio na 20 taong gulang. Ang pinakamaingay, lagi silang nag-aaway ni Manong Gorio dahil sa pagkagago niya.
Ang palabas ay magaganap sa entabladong mukhang hindi pa tapos na bahay (“scaffolding”). Maraming mga gamit ng karpintero ang nakakalat sa sahig.
act 1 Magbubukas ang isang ilaw sa entablado. Makikita lamang ang dalawang mas nakababatang lalaki. Si Ado ay nakahiga na sa may gitna ng entablado. Si Lon ay nasa gilid, nakatayo sa pwesto kung saan tinitingnan nila ang kapitbahay. Siya ay nagpapalit ng pantaas. lon
Di ka magpapalit?
Iikot si Ado at tatalikuran si Lon. ado
Matagal bago may magsalita sa kanilang dalawa. Magkukunwaring natutulog si Ado, paikot-ikot sa higaan. Si Lon naman ay makikitang naglilinis ng
102 · Sarah Liliana Z. Sarmiento
sarili, pinupunasan ang mga braso gamit ang isang maliit na twalya. Kikidlat sa buong tanghalan, papatay-patay ang ilaw ngunit wala itong tunog. lon
(Mapapatigil at nakatingin sa itaas.) Mukhang malakas ang ulan no?
Hindi sasagot si Ado. Matagal ulit ang katahimikan. (Matinis, iniinis si Ado.) Oo nga, Lon. Mukhang uulan nga. (Matatawa.) Hindi pa rin titingin sa kanya si Ado. Kikidlat ulit. Tignan mo, Ado. Nagwewelding rin ang Diyos sa langit o. Sabi ko na sa nanay ko eh, astig ’tong trabaho natin! Titingin si Lon sa langit. Titingin rin siya kay Ado. Mawawala ang ngiti sa mukha niya ng makita niyang hindi man lang kumibo si Ado. (Malambing.) Ads naman — ado
(Nawawalan na ng pasensya at masungit.) Lon, ano?
(Pang-asar.) Sungit naman neto.
(Mas malumanay). Patulugin mo na lang ako, Lon.
Tatahimik na si Lon. Ipapagpag niya ang pwestong tutulugan niya. Dahandahan siyang sasandal sa posteng kahoy, ipipikit ang mga mata at tatakpan ang mukha gamit ang kanan niyang braso. Matagal ulit ang katahimikan. Kikidlat nanaman sa buong tanghalan, mamamatay-sindi ang ilaw. ado
(Mauupo.) (Matatawa.) Tss. Nagwewelding ang Diyos! Sino ba niloloko mo, Lon?
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 103
(Nakapikit pa rin ang mata at tinatakpan pa rin ang mukha.) (Matatawa.) Nanay ko. (Bubuksan niya ang kanyang mga mata.) Eh ayaw niyang maging karpintero ako eh. (Matinis, ginagaya ang boses ng babae.) Mababang trabaho yan, Lon-Lon. Bakit di mo na lang tularan ang tatay mo? Paano mo pinapakain ang anak niyo ng asawa mo? Haay nako, Lon-Lon. (Matatawa.)
(Mapapangiti.) Ano sabi mo?
Eh yun nga. Di ko alam kung bakit ko ba napasok ang Diyos. Kumikidlat rin siguro nung gabing yun. Sabi ko mataas na trabaho ang pagiging karpintero dahil sa Diyos, ’Nay. (Matatawa.) Dahil nagwewelding rin siya sa langit!
Buti di siya naburat!
Aynako! Di mo lang alam! Ginatungan pa kasi ng misis ko! Kristiyano kasi. Sabi niya o: (Mauubo muna bago magsalita ng matinis, ginagaya ulit ang boses ng babae.) ’Nay, mismong si Jose na tatay ni Hesus ay karpintero rin! (Matatawa.) Tapos gumatong rin tatay ko: (Mauubo muna bago magsalita ng mababa.) Oo nga naman, Ma. Ginagawa na rin ng Diyos ang tutuluyan natin sa kabilang buhay. Pero di ko lang alam kung papayagan ka niyang tumira don, pinagtatawanan mo lang trabaho niya eh. (Matatawa.)
(Matatawa.) Okey rin asawa at tatay mo ah. May pinanggalingan rin pala ang pagkagago mo!
104 · Sarah Liliana Z. Sarmiento
Oo, oo. (Mapapangiti.) Mabait nga si Tatay. Pati naman si Nanay. Pagkatapos non, di na niya ako pinilit maging taxi drayber parang si Tatay.
(Magseseryoso.) Buti ka di ka nila iniwan.
(Mapapatingin siya kay Ado ng matagal.) (Matatawa.) O sige! Tumalon ka na sa bangin! Sige na! Pakamatay ka na! Pakealam ko! Umuwi ka na! Para kang sina Juday!
(Mapapatingin siya ulit kay Lon ng matagal. Matatawa na rin.) Kami na lang kaya ni Misis ang magsasama. Pareho naman kaming mag-isa lang dito sa mundo.
Misis? Anong misis?
Yung misis sa kabilang bahay! Yung kanina mo pa tinitignan nung nag-iinuman tayo nina Gorio! Ano ka ba naman!
Aah. Tangina. Akala ko misis ko gago ka.
Labo mo gago. Ni di ko nga alam kung anong hitsura ng misis mo eh.
Mataba. (Matatawa.) (Mapapatingin sa kanya si Ado ng matagal.) Di nga! Mataba nga! Seryoso ako! Bakit, ano ba problema mo sa mga mataba?
Tangina Lon. Mga hilig mo pala, crispy pata! (Matatawa.)
Tatakbo si Ado papunta sa pwesto ni Lon, kung saan nila tinitingnan ang kapitbahay, at sisilip. Pilit niyang papahabain ang leeg niya para makita ang kapitbahay ng maayos. ado
Wala na siya. Heights Seniorsâ€™ Folio 2011 Âˇ 105
Titingin rin si Lon sa kapitbahay. lon
Gabi na kasi. Tulog na yun.
Eh ano bang pake mo, diba? May misis ka namang mataba! (Matatawa.)
Kapag ang mapang-asawa mo’y mukhang litson... ano...uh, reregaluhan kita ng Mang Tomas. (Matatawa.)
WEH. Di ka nakakatawa.
At kapag mahal mo ang tao, wala ka ng pake kung mataba man siya o hindi. Di na importante yun.
Opo, Pader. (Matatawa at mamano kay Lon.) Para kang pari kung manermon eh!
(Mapapatingin sa kapitbahay.) At kahit iiwan ka nila, kung alam mong mahal ka nila, babalik ’yan sa’yo. Tignan mo ako: Babalikan ko asawa ko pagkatapos nito, kahit gaano pa man katagal, dahil mahal ko siya.
Magkukunot ng noo si Ado at mapapatingin sa paa niya. Titingnan niya si Lon at susundutin ito sa tagiliran. ado
Taba naman siya! (Matatawa.)
Matulog ka na nga gago.
Mahihiga na si Lon sa pwesto niya. Babalik si Ado sa higaan niya kanina at matutulog na rin. Unti-unting mamamatay ang ilaw sa entablado hanggang dumilim na. ado
(Malakas na pabulong.) Taba.
Matagal bago may magsalita ulit dahil nakatulog na ang dalawa. Maya-maya, maririnig ang malakas na busina ng kotse. ado
Saan galing yun? Tangina! (Magkakamot ng mata.) Gabing-gabi!
106 · Sarah Liliana Z. Sarmiento
Babangon si Lon at sisilipin agad ang kapitbahay. lon
Nakauwi na si Mister gago. Ado, Ado, dali tignan mo!
Tatakbo agad si Ado papunta sa pwesto ni Lon at pilit na titingnan rin ang kapitbahay. Lalabas si Manong Gorio mula sa kaliwang bahagi ng entablado, may nakapulupot na twalya sa may bewang niya. manong gorio Eto na naman po tayo. Iisa lang naman ang tinitignan niyong dalawa! Ano bang pinagkaiba ng misis na yan sa kaninang umaga? Wala naman ah. ado
(Hindi titingnan si Manong Gorio.) Sssshhh. Tiyo, ang ingay mo!
manong gorio (Matatawa) Aba! Ako pa ang naging maingay! Eh anong tawag mo sa bumubisina na â€™yan? Pipe?! lon
(Titingin kay Manong Gorio na nagbibihis.) Onting kasiyahan lang, Manong Gorio! Nakauwi na si Mister o. (Ituturo niya ang kapitbahay gamit ang nguso.) Masaya lang kami para kay Misis.
Sssshhhh. Ssshhhh. Lumabas na si Misis ng veranda!
Sisilip agad si Lon. lon
Tangina! Talagang kalbo siya no! Puta ni di nga uno yan eh!
Paakyat na ba si Mister sa kwarto nila? Ay oo! Ayan na!
Titingin si Ado kay Manong Gorio. Tingnan mo, Tiyo. Ang saya niya. Mapapatigil si Manong Gorio. Pagkatapos ng ilang segundo, maglalakad na rin siya papunta sa pwesto nina Ado at Lon. Sisilip na rin siya. manong gorio (Mahina.) Binalikan na rin kasi siya. Heights Seniorsâ€™ Folio 2011 Âˇ 107
Walang papansin sa sinabi ni Manong Gorio. lon
Nagkita na sila! Ang daming dala ni Mister ah! Parang di natuwa si Misis, no? (Matatawa.)
Onga no. Parang mga tatlong supot yata yan. O apat ba? Di ko makita ng maayos.
Ipipikit-pikit ni Ado ang mata niya. Ano yang nilalabas niya? lon
Tatlong peluka. Dilaw tangina. At dalawang itim. Ano ba ’tong lalaking ’to! Kung ganyan kaganda misis ko, bibigyan ko siya ng —
manong gorio Gamot? Gamot ba yan? Bakit niya binibigyan ng gamot? lon
May sakit yata ’tong babaeng ’to eh.
Baka no. Tignan niyo, medyo maputla siya, ano? Parang bangkay lang. (Matatawa.) At parang ang bata ng mister niya sa kanya. Naka-sumbrero pa si gago. Di sila bagay!
Putangina nasusuka ba si Misis? Tignan niyo nga. Puta. May sakit nga ’to.
O, o, o, bakit nagagalit si Mister???
Tatayo si Ado sa isang kahoy. Lalaki ang mata niya. Putangina! ’Wag niya sasaktan ’yang babaeng ’yan kundi... manong gorio Ano? Kundi ano, Ado? (Babatukan si Ado.) Ikaw talagang bata ka, hanggang ngayon, nalilimutan mo pa rin na di ka nila kilala!! ado
Ay. Yun. Puta, akala ko sasampalin niya eh.
108 · Sarah Liliana Z. Sarmiento
Teka, teka. Huwag nga kayo magulo. Tingnan niyo. Umiiyak na. Umiiyak na siya. Huwag kayo maingay, baka marinig tayo. Ssshh.
Tatahimik ang tatlo. Sisilipin nila lahat ang nangyayari sa kabila. Mahabahaba ang katahimikan. Tinatanggal ng lalaki yung sumbrero niya! Huwag mong sabihin... manong gorio Kalbo rin si Loko! (Matatawa.) ado
Ang haba na ng buhok niyan dati eh! Lokong yan! Pinaahit lahat! (Matatawa.)
Natuwa yung babae no? Natuwa siya! Tingnan niyo dali!
Unti-unting lalayo si Ado mula sa tinatauyan nila. Natatawa pati siya. Ang higpit ng yakap niya sa lalaki. Dahan-dahang maglalakad siya palayo. Titingnan siya ni Manong Gorio at Lon. manong gorio O. Ang labo mo talagang bata ka! Kung kailan malalaman na natin ang kwento nila ayaw mo na big — ado
(Susumbat ng mahina) May mga bumabalik rin pala no? May mga bumabalik rin pala.
Unti-unting mamamatay ang ilaw sa entablado.
act 2 Magbubukas ang ilaw at makikitang nagbibihis na ang tatlo para sa trabaho. May ilang mga lalaki, mga “foreman” at iba pang karpintero, ang papasok sa entablado, dala-dala ang mga bag nila, nagkakawayan, nagkakamayan at nag-uusap.
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 109
(Kumakanta.) Long ago, and oh so far away, I fell in love with you before the second show. Your guitar it sounds so sweet and clear. But you’re not really here; it’s just the radio...
manong gorio Hoy! Lon! lon
(Kumakanta pa rin.) Don’t you remember you told me you loved me, Baybehh! You said you’d be coming back this way again...
manong gorio Hoy, Lon! Lintek na! Nandito na yung iba o! lon AT ado
(Sabay na kumakanta at parang walang narinig.) Baybehh, baybehh, baybehh, oooh baybehh! I love youuu! I really doooo! Don’t you remember you told me you loved me, Baybehh...
Tuloy-tuloy silang kakanta hanggang unti-unting mamamatay ang ilaw sa entablado. manong gorio (Mahinang kumakanta.) Don’t you remember you told — lon
Gorio! Lintek na! (Matatawa.)
– wakas –
110 · Sarah Liliana Z. Sarmiento
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 111
Michelle T. Tan bfa creative writing / minor in literature – english
Mich concludes her stay in Ateneo this year by graduating with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in English Literature. A recipient of the 2011 Loyola Schools Awards for the Arts, she has been published in Philippines Graphic, Philippines Free Press, Asia Writes, Heights, and Blue Crow magazine. She was a fellow to the 15th Ateneo Heights Writers Workshop and the 10th Ateneo National Writers Workshop. Since this might well be her last Heights write-up, Mich would like to take this opportunity to thank the following people: her family, of course, for keeping her alive and well-fed during her college years; Danica, for the daily laughs and Facebook chats; Kris, for his constant teasing and undying support; Eandra, for random late-night conversations over McFlurry; Mike, for the occasional meet-ups and sharing of tmi’s; Pan Pan, for sending her love from places all over the world; and Maki, for all the recent happiness. Mich also extends her gratitude to the classmates, friends, panelists, and teachers who have helped her so much with her writing: Ace, Iggy, Heinz, Ma’am Beni and the Fine Arts Department, Sir DM, Sir Exie, Sir Martin, Sir Vim, Sir Egay, Sir Marx, Sir Ypil, Sir Yol, Ma’am Daryll, Sir Krip, Ma’am Rica, and many others without whom she would not have made it anywhere near this page
The Librarian She did not use to eat paper all the time. At eleven, she passed for a normal kid — shy/pallid/awkward like all the others. By nineteen, she had blossomed into a fresh-faced girl with too few secrets and too many dimples. Five years after, she found herself collections assistant at the National Library — and nine years later — head librarian. She did not even begin the habit then, but only several months later. She had been looking for a particular novel to put on hold — F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby — when she came across a stack of unsorted books on the PS section’s bottom shelf. She had paused to pick it up and carry it back with her when a stray page from Gatsby flew from between its covers. Balancing the stack on her knees, she grabbed it and held it with her mouth, leaving both hands free to struggle with the books. Back at her desk, she intended to return the wayward page to its proper place, but by then it had already vanished between her lips. The next morning, it happened again. She had been filling out a time record for a new employee when a patron called to inquire after some books. The librarian caught the index card in her mouth as she scribbled down titles, receiver pressed between shoulder and ear. By the time she put it down to cater to the request, the card had disappeared, and she was aware of a sudden dryness in her throat. It did not take much longer after that. She experimented with sizes/types/colors, but found that she liked book pages the best. And so she began with flyleaves; she knew nobody would miss them. She eased her way into a rhythm, of nibbling/chewing/biting, in between sorting new acquisitions and restocking borrowed books. For a while she tasted nothing of ink except by way of dingbats. In several months she went through A – Z of all the library’s collections, discovering many misplaced volumes along the way and receiving praise from the director for her inordinate persistence. She smiled, but even then she knew she had not done enough. She wanted more. 114 · Michelle Tan
She dug up old files — request forms/time cards/permissions slips/ library cards. She ate her way through all of them, and then one day she had nothing left to feed on except dull newsprints. She thought she ate too fast and made an effort to slow things down. She rationed her supply, told herself ten pages should be enough for a day. But it wasn’t. Her resources continued to dwindle, and still she found herself wanting more. By the time she started on printed pages, eating paper for her had evolved from a simple matter of consumption, into an art. She no longer fed at random. She opened books/scanned paragraphs/ chose sections. Sometimes it took her as long as three hours to find a page worthy of ingestion. She digested them words-first: she would read/rereadbeforefinding satisfaction and swallowing. She found that different authors tasted differently. Vonnegut: uneven/escalating/makes you wait for the kick. Nin: wet/flavorful/surprising. Saramago: extended/difficult to digest. Hemingway: clean/turns the stomach. Murakami: bland/rough/takes time to chew. Achebe: even blander/with an exotic aftertaste. (Once she nibbled on a paperback inside a bookstore. It didn’t taste the same.) She told everybody she spent her time rechecking inventory, making sure everything worked well with the new automated system. Nobody doubted the librarian. She was the best they’d ever had. After some time readers started complaining of missing pages, and soon they could no longer remain unattended. The director ordered a fumigation of the entire library, to kill all rats and termites. At first they thought that had done it. For weeks they scoured halls for pests, recalled damaged books,acquired new ones to replace them. Everyone was busy. The librarian kept a low profile. She again forced herself to endure a daily sustenance of newsprints, but that did little to satisfy her. She pined for Austen, Süskind, Ishiguro — for Proust, especially. His books had a taste she could not identify. Soon she was back in her old habit, and things went smoothly for a while until someone discovered the copy of Anna Karenina she had half-eaten through (she could not help herself, it had tasted like home). The staff rose in an
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 115
uproar. Subscriptions dwindled. The director berated them for their ineptitude. The librarian shrank away. The cameras came later. Video security was a new thing at the time, and the director wanted to be the first at everything, so he had everything installed quickly. After that, it did not take them long to find out. They changed tapes several times to confirm. On a black-and-white screen they observed the librarian at work — for hours every day that past week. They watched her read/reread/tear/nibble/bite/chew/ gulp down page after page after page. She worked with mechanical movements, as if her actions were merely routine, part of the job. Once she looked up and flashed them an awkward grin, as if aware that she had been caught in the act. Her smile had appeared lopsided, the ink had blackened her teeth. She had already escaped by the time the authorities secured a warrant. She left everything — clothes, shoes, wallet, cellphone, cat. From the looks of her apartment, it seemed like she had only fled moments before. On her bed they found an empty cash box. Under it, they found paperbacks, magazines, old newspapers. Most of the books were her own. Between their covers, not a single page had been touched. They collected the few ones she had taken home from work and returned them to the library. Other than that they didn’t touch her things. Nobody wanted to. The police left the apartment shaking their heads. If they had thought to come back a few weeks later, they would have discovered in the closet something with wiry hair, an emaciated body, and ink-blackened nails. It would have been wearing a uniform, complete with nametag, and if they looked closely they would have seen that the writing on the tag had been licked off. Around it they would have found the library’s six volumes of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, mutilated almost beyond recognition. In between its bony fingers they would have found volume seven.
116 · Michelle Tan
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 117
Maria Amparo Warren ab communication
For most of her college life, Peep has been a proud Child Life Volunteer for Kythe-Ateneo, practicing ‘healing through simple sharing and togetherness’ with pediatric cancer patients in Kythe-affiliated hospitals. Her band Ephesus released its first full-length album, ‘To Speak of City Lights and Skyscrapers’, last year, and the music is available for purchase at Team Manila Lifestyle in The Rockwell Centre. Peep’s dabbling in poetry led her to the 16th Ateneo Heights Writers Workshop, published works in Heights and Philippines Graphic, and inclusion in Alfred Yuson’s upcoming anthology from the Ateneo Press, ‘Ateneo Poetry 2001-2010’.
Alamat ng Ampalaya “What matters,” quoth the fairy godmother, “Is not the outside, but the inside of one — you must be a grade-A pesticide-free princess!” So I ruminated and tossed my thoughts back and forth in my second stomach, till they were as chewed up as day-old cud. And I stumbled upon a strange little reality that devoured with its own jaws, wracked by the curse of blandness, the bits that tasted best, fit best, worked best, swam best inside of me. I ate the existence that itself ate — it was terribly profound, as well as messy — and I ingested at high velocities, green and gold (various other shades of gems, as seen in hardboiled fictions), those tangerine curves I always envied, dimples like the puckers of apple dumplings, the lack of poetic in a carrot’s orange, the many glittering eyes of a bittering melon. I ate all these alliterations. 120 · Maria Amparo Warren
“Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?” Yes and I did. I ate them all, awkward thing that I am. But it was quite enough, there was no more room in my third stomach. And now I am crafted like one hideous, still unforgivably bland, ruined by indigestion. At the very least, ’mother, in the next few ticked-off centuries, I might as well be all-natural.
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 121
Vessels [as part of the Hymns of the Temple of Light]
Because you depend on the shafts of light Drunk by the ancient gods upon their hearths During feast after bacchanal feast — bunches of grapes in bowls of polished wood, Tended by toils in the harsh sun, in vineyards — Pledge your worship upon me, Salt of your earth and your sacrifice. I watch, above your candlelight, Behind the silk curtains of my shadows. Virginal, fertile, unyielding. ~ For we who longed in our boyish youth To lift the misted kerchiefs from your white breasts, To press our lips against the pearl of your skin — Would that you lift your feet, the lightest soles in heaven, And dance closer before our humble eyes? We offer the fruits of our palms, Finely pressed, in holy chalices, At a banquet in your celebration. ~ My bejeweled hands, rings upon their fingers, honor you, Warmed to understand — only to understand; What must we know about the mystery of desire? 122 · Maria Amparo Warren
Desire is knowledge — it is sketched upon the skies In the beautifully distant planets, In little cups of lustrous silver… I hold you closely, intimately to my senses. I fathom, somehow, your furthering, In images of your glory, robed and disrobed; Smilingly I trace closer with promises Sweet as the wild honeycomb of my gardens. Dance with your maidens, nymphs in waiting, To the altar of my repose. ~ Far from the cold stones I imprint my ghostly graces. I fall upon you, rend you, Young boys and kings. Into a hundred helpless wisps You scatter — In the pouring of me, in vessels of shimmering, shattering light.
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 123
Halima Lyssa Al-Taie ab communication
Sa Barangay Hallsy, taga-rito ka!
End of Days. Cross-Processed Slide Film & Diana Mini.
126 路 Halima Lyssa Al-Taie
Then We Play. Cross-Processed Slide Film & Diana Mini.
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 127
Andrea Marie Bautista ab interdisciplinary studies
The drawbacks of an artist
Mary. Pencil and pens.
130 路 Andrea Marie Bautista
Owl. Pencil and pens.
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 131
Jamie Bauza bfa information design
Goodbye papers, orals and long cashier lines! I will not miss you! To my course mates, my Heights family and MO2, thank you. I will miss you â€“ a lot.
Dream Catcher. Watercolor.
134 路 Jamie Bauza
Dream Weaver. Watercolor.
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 135
Jose Alejandro Dolosa bfa information design
Jose Alejandro Dolosa is an artist and experimental photographer.
Sugat. Watercolor, oil pastel, colored pencils.
138 路 Jose Alejandro Dolosa
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 139
James Magalong bfa information design
James is an avid photographer and part-time designer. He likes basketball and volleyball, but not philosophy and theology. He would like to dedicate his photographs to the world, for letting him take them.
Pag-uwi. Film Photography.
142 路 James Magalong
Untitled. Film Photography.
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 143
Neil Palteng ab management economics
â€œBe daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.â€? â€“ Cecil Beaton
146 路 Neil Palteng
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 147
Mark Perez bs management
I started trying out photography just before my second year in college. Since then, I just had the passion to bring it around with me almost everywhere I go, taking pictures of everything I see. From there, what started out as nothing became a serious hobby for me. Almost in to my fourth year with my camera, I still continue learning and drawing inspiration from other people and the world around me. Last year in college, I’d have to say I enjoyed it a whole lot more because of photography. It’s not just what we do that defines us, it’s what we stand for.
Yellow Sidewalks. Photography.
150 路 Mark Perez
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 151
Ria Rigoroso ab psychology
Thank you to my friends, to Heights, and especially to Pepito. Who would have thought that, one day, Iâ€™d be able to create?
Anatomy of a Poem. Mixed media.
154 路 Ria Rigoroso
Anatomy of a Poem. Mixed media.
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 155
Fog. Letter transfers on “Fog”, by Vincenz Serrano.
156 · Ria Rigoroso
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 157
Analyn Lao Yap bfa information design
Salamat Lord. Tinapay lang ang hiningi ko, burger ang binigay mo. May fries pa! Nuggets, at upsized drink pa! Thank you to my family, The guidon, bfa id 2011, and to you.
160 路 Analyn Lao Yap
Of Hearts and Hands. Photography.
Heights Seniors’ Folio 2011 · 161
Saturday Repast. Photography.
162 路 Analyn Lao Yap
Pasasalamat Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, sj at ang Office of the President Dr. John Paul Vergara at ang Office of the Vice-president for the Loyola Schools G. Rene San Andres at ang Office of the Associate Dean for Student Affairs G. Eduardo Jose E. Calasanz at ang Office of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs G. Chris Castillo at G. Dino Galvey at ang Office of Student Activities Bb. Marie Joy Salita at ang Office of Administrative Service Bb. Leonora Wijangco at ang Central Accounting Office Bb. Christina Barzabal at ang Purchasing Office Bb. Consolacion Concepcion at ang Ateneo Placement Office Dr. Ma. Luz Vilches at ang Office of the Dean, School of Humanities Dr. Jerry Respeto at ang Kagawaran ng Filipino Dr. Marianne Rachel Perfecto at ang English Department Dr. Benilda Santos, Mr. Xander Soriano at ang Fine Arts Program Bb. Christine Bellen at ang Ateneo Institute of Literary Arts and Practices (ailap) G. Rodolfo Allayban at ang University Archives Bea Cupin at ang Guidon Tresa Valenton at ang Matanglawin Sa Sanggunian ng Mag-aaral ng Ateneo De Manila at Council of Organizations of the Ateneo Sa Haranya ng ua&p, Thomasian Writers Guild ng ust, Malate Literary Folio ng dlsu, up ugat, up Writers Club at up Quill Sa High Chair Sa mga panelists ng 16th Ateneo Heights Writers Workshop Sa mga kasapi ng ahww committee Sa mga kasapi ng Buwan ng Wika organizing committee ng Kagawaran ng Filipino Ang mvp Maintenance and Security Personnel At sa lahat ng tumatangkilik sa mga gawain ng Heights, sa patuloy na nagpapasa ng kanilang likha at nakikiisa sa paghubog sa ating panitikan at sining!
Editorial Board Editor-in-Chief Associate Editor Internal Managing Editor External Managing Editor Art Editor Associate Art Editor Design Editor Associate Design Editor English Editor Associate English Editor Filipino Editor Associate Filipino Editor
Tina del Rosario Joseph Casimiro Kyra Ballesteros Joven Angelo Flordelis Alfred Benedict C. Marasigan Jessica Amanda Bauza Jose Fernando Go-Oco Isabel Krista Bollozos James Soriano Cedric Tan Nicko Caluya Ramon Enrico Custodio M. Damasing
Allan Derain Mark Anthony Cayanan Wilford Almoro
Staffers Art Veron Ao, John Alexis B. Balaguer, Tasie Cabrera, Juan Viktor Calanoc, Niki
Calma, Pamela O. Celeridad, Wilbur Hernandez, Mon Esquivel, Momo Fernandez, Mark Lacsamana, Mo Maguyon, Gracie Mendoza, Io Ocier, Eli Padilla, Therese Nicole Reyes, Ria Rigoroso, Tasha Ringor, Aaron Villaflores Design Sam Bautista, Sara Erasmo, Pamcy Fernandez, Paola Lizares, Madi Vilela English Nicole Acosta, Carlo Francisco Adajar, Marie Felise Aurelio, Mia Katrina Avila, Deirdre Camba, Isabela Cuerva, Gian Dapul, Miggy Francisco, Julienne Alexis Joven, Kathryn Lantion, Sydney Roxanne Lau, Joseph Ledesma, Deo Charis Mostrales, Kathy Ong, Hannah Perdigon, Carissa Pobre, Anna Katerina Rara, Margarita Reyes, Anna Maria Eliza Reyes, Ara Marie Leal Rodriguez, Miguel Antonio Sulangi, Jillian Tan, Pauline Marie Villar, Sophia Diane Villasfer Filipino Lester Abuel, EJ Bagacina, Japhet Calupitan, Geneve Guyano, Roselyn Ko, Rachel Marra, Karen Medriano, Mike Orlino, Karla Placido, Lorenz Revillas, Jero Santos, John Solito, Paolo Tiausas Production Camille Joy Cruz, Aiane Bernadette U. Lim, Pat Santos, Angeline Ople, Edgar Resma, Lorianne Buena, Cara Bautista
Loyola Schools Awards For the Arts 2011 Creative Writing: Fiction Kyra Camille C. Ballesteros, IV AB Communication Miguel I単igo R. Llona, V BFA Creative Writing Rachel V. Marra, IV BFA Creative Writing Michelle Abigail T. Tan, IV BFA Creative Writing Creative Writing: Literary Essay Christina Mae G. Del Rosario, IV BFA Creative Writing Gerald Gracius Y. Pascua, V BS Chemistry with Applied Computer Systems Creative Writing: Poetry
Ramon Enrico Custodio M. Damasing, IV AB Philosophy Theater Arts
Sarah Delphine C. Buencamino, IV AB Humanities Dean Jantzen L. Chua, V BS Management major in Legal Management, BFA Theater Arts Tito T. Cosejo, Jr., IV AB Management Economics Zennon Jean S. Gosalvez, IV BS Management Information Systems Melchor D. Pante, IV AB Communication Screen Arts Gabriel Gonzalo D. Puyat, IV AB Communication Rachel Marie Frances G. Vergara, V AB Communication Visual Arts: Graphic Design Mary Joy T. Gacho, IV BFA Information Design Lalaine P. Lim, IV BFA Information Design Nicole Ernestine M. Severino, IV BFA Information Design Vianne Franchino E. Viceral, IV BFA Information Design Analyn L. Yap, IV BFA Information Design
Visual Arts: Illustration Jessica Amanda G. Bauza, IV BFA Information Design Robby Derrick S. Cham, IV BS Management Rafael Alberto N. Tuaño, IV BFA Information Design Visual Arts: Photography Jose Alejandro P. Dolosa, IV BFA Information Design Kevin Christopher C. Tatco, IV AB Political Science Analyn L. Yap, IV BFA Information Design Music
Anton Luis A. Avila, IV BS/M Applied Mathematics major in Mathematical Finance Gianina Camille G. Del Rosario, IV AB Communication Duo – Reese and Vica c/o Maria Therese E. Lansangan, IV BFA Information Design Victor B. Robinson III, IV AB Communication Ryan F. Uy, IV BS Management (Honors Program) Dance Tara Alessandra S. Abrina, IV AB Economics
The 2011 Seniors Folio of Heights Vol. 58. Heights is the official literary and artistic publication and organization of the Ateneo de Mani...