“Kanus-a di–diay mouli si Mama, Pa?” pangutana sa siyete-anyos nga bata.
“Katulog na lagi! Ayaw na og pangutana, Rem. Lili-a ra god ang langit. Talagsaon na lang kaayo moduaw ang ulan. Nag-problema nako. Unsaon na lang ang atong kahumayan. Ako na lang biya usa ang nag-atiman ato.” tubag dala singhag ni Dodong samtang gahapnig sa banig aron higdaan nila sa iyang anak nga si Rem-Rem.
Mabatian sa amahan ang pagkabalaka apan nakita niini nga dili gyod madala og kasaba ang iyang anak matag udto. Ikapila na sad niya mabantayi ang anak nga gahinuktok sa paborito niining ginapongkoan nga bangko.
Dili mapugngan sa amahan nga mabalaka. Ug sa walay pagduha-duha, gihawiran niya sa abaga ang bata ug gidala niya kini padulong sa bintana nga gama sa kawayan. Padayon silang gatan-aw sa dag-om nga nakahatag og rason sa amahan aron mobuhig tam-is nga ngisi.
“Milagaro! Usa ka milagro! Salamat, Ginoo.” ingon sa amhan. Hinay-hinayng mibuhi ang amahan sa abaga sa iyang anak. Nabantayan kini ni Rem-rem ug nahilom siya.
Sukad mibiya ang inahan ni Rem-Rem sa ilang panimalay sa bukid, mao pud ang pagkawala sa iyang gana nga matulog kada udto. Maski si Dodong wala nasayod sa tinuod nga rason nganong kalit kining mibiya. Walay pagpananghid kaniya o kay Rem-rem. Kon buot hunahunaon, kuwatro anyos pa si Ren-ren sa pagbiya sa iyang asawa. Walay rason para layasan ang anak sa iyang pagkapuya.
Usa lang ka rason ang iyang nahunahunaan: posibleng milayas kini sa ila ug miuban sa iyang ka-textmate sa pikas baryo. Ambot lang sad kon unsa ka tinuod ang mga tsismis nga gapanglupad sa ilang lugar. Pero kini ra ang mahunahunaan ni Dodong luyo sa pagkawala sa asawa sama sa usa ka bituon nga hagbay rang mibuto.
Continue reading Banig
You are at school. The teacher decides to change the seat plan since the current one isn’t working out. It’s her fault for putting the good kids on one side and the shitty ones on the other. What did she expect you shitty students do? Actually study? Of course you’re going to cheat. Too bad one of your friends got caught writing keywords on the palm of his hand. You told Jimmy to write on the sides of his fingers instead so he can cover them up. He didn’t listen, and now he’s serving a week of community service while the rest of you have to transfer seats. The teacher talks about this phenomenon called the ripple effect where the “actions of one can have an indirect and drastic effect on others”—her words, not yours. She is in a good mood, so she decides to let everyone pick where they want to sit. Of course, she’ll make some changes once everyone has settled down. But for the most part, the students’ choices matter.
Miraculously, Jade Teñoso is absent. Apparently, she’s off attending some relatives’ wedding somewhere in Davao. You think it’s most likely at Eden Resort. Jade’s relatives are loaded, except for her family, though. Jade’s father got into a fight with his father who decided to disown him and his family. The grandfather’s long been buried six feet under so everyone’s welcomed them back with open arms. They’re still poor, though. No one’s bothered to give them a million pesos or something. And how do you know all this? Well, you learn a lot about someone if you’ve lived beside them for the past sixteen years.
You’ve wanted her seat for a long time. Besides the fact that you can’t see shit from where you’re sitting, which really far from the board. She sits beside that friend of hers you think is quite the looker. Nadine’s her name, and you usually waste the hours in class staring at her back, at the cost of your quiz scores.
With Jade out of the way, you’ll get to spend the rest of the year besides your one and only love (your Ate laughed at you when you told her this and shook her head).
Continue reading Seat Plan
Nakamata si Fatima tungod sa salibo nga misulod sa iyang kwarto. Dili pa gyud unta siya mubangon kay lami pa matulog og balik. “Panuway man ning ulana oy!” gisapot nga naghuna-huna si Fatima dungan sa pag sirado sa basa na nga bintana. Nagbukot kini og balik sa iyahang habol ug gitandayan ang duha ka unlan hangtod nga nitikongkong na kini ug taman tungod sa katugnaw. Day-off niya karong adlawa ug wala siya’y ubang plano kun dili matulog kay gikapoy siya sa iyang duty sa milabayng gabii.
Usa ka nurse si Fatima apan dili gyud kini ang iyang gusto nga trabaho kaniadto. Bentaha daw kung nurse kay maka-abroad pagkahuman ug eskwela; butang nga makatabang sa ilang tumang kalisod. Ug tungod kay mahal mu-eskwela ug nursing sa Davao, nangita sila ug barato nga tunghaan. Hantod naabot sila sa Marawi City sa diin full scholar siya hangtod nga maka-gradwar.
Continue reading Sa Balay ni Fatima
“She’s here,” says the man outside.
In your mind you see her lay on the narrow table the food she always brings. Until now it escapes you why she does this when she knows you have stopped eating it since the incident. Is it her way of letting you exorcise your demons?
You met her father on this generation’s luckiest day: 8-8-88. You were at your favorite restaurant when he asked if he could join you. You were actually done but good manners aside, you didn’t want to foist bad luck on him by leaving just when he was about to eat. And so you broke into a half smile and nodded.
Continue reading Spaghetti
Raindrops poured and the fragrance of wet grass and mud wafted in the dense air. A thin layer of fog blanketed the cluster of trees and chilled the nights of the distant homes within sitio Bago-Nalum. It was two weeks after the incident that happened at the highway of crossing Bago. Nights were filled with the sound of thunder and flashes of lighting since then. Rumor went around that the family failed to light a candle for the soul of Tata who died in the accident. His body was found with an envelope that bore the mark of the Eagle. Rain had washed away his blood and the morning sun has long dried the concrete. In sitio Bago-Nalum, where the man used to live, a rumor has been making rounds. Amidst the silent persisting downpour, whispers could be heard. Santelmo. The forgotten soul shall haunt.
Berto Dimahunong heard the whispers at Bugak as he was filling four containers of water. In Bugak people fell in line, carrying with them containers to be filled with fresh water, or gathered to do the laundry. Water flowed from the ground, through the years-old pipe, and into the container. The first one in line was Berto. He was a fireman and a dutiful son. He intended to do his chore as quickly as he could, but he could not help overhearing what everyone was talking about. Amidst the patting of fabric and the splashes of feet entering the shallow pool, people were in careless exchanges.
Continue reading Pabilo
“Ma, unsa’y handa nako sa akoang birthday?” pangutana ni Inday sa iyahang inahan nga naghaling sa abuhan. “Si Amber gud ma kay kuyog iyang mama gipakaon me ganina og Spaghetti sa room.” Gikudlit sa inahan ang posporo ug gisindihan ang goma nga gikan sa guba nga tsinelas. Gibutang dayon niya ilalom sa mga bunot nga giplastar. Sa dihang nag-aso na, gikuha sa inahan ang kaldero gikan kay Inday ug gibutang sa sug-angan nga bakal nga gipatong sa duha ka hollow block. “Magpakaon pud ko sa eskwelahan ma ha?”
“Maayo man to sila ‘day kay daghan man sila’g kwarta,” nanghinawak nga sulti sa inahan. “Pagkuha og kamunggay didto. Harusa, kay atong isagol sa gulay. Pagdali,” gitudlo sa inahan ang punoan sa kamunggay.
Nangyam-id si Inday pagtalikod niya kay wala siya kauyon sa tubag sa iyang inahan. Gawas niana, gulay napud ang ilang sud-an. Bug-at ang bundak sa iyang tiil, “Wala gyud napul-an.”
Continue reading Birthday na ni Inday
The stores in the mall are closing already when a woman in her early twenties pretty and smartly dressed breezes out the door. Click, click, click. Her heels resound as she hurriedly walks down the stairs. She turns a corner and collides with a man—tall in long sleeves and tie. They hastily apologize and quickly move on—she, blushing, for he is rather handsome. She crosses the street and hails a jeepney.
As the jeepney moves away she looks at the familiar sight of office buildings, the market and the small ukay-ukay store which was so popular with her and her classmates during their college days. She sighs because it’s late already. She still has to start with her pile of paperwork. Inwardly she feels pressured yet proud at the same time. She is proud to be trusted so much by the bosses but with a small nagging voice telling her that she is simply being taken advantage of.
Continue reading Jeepney Ride
You’re at the basketball court watching the grown-ups play. It’s the barangay fiesta so your mama took you to the liga with your cousins like she always does every year. You keep staring at the kuya holding the ball and running across the court. You like the way his arms look when he shoots the ball. They look like Popeye’s arms after he eats spinach but smaller and not like they would explode if you prick them with a needle. Auntie Ely, the granny next door who gives you chocolates, told you once that if you like someone you will keep staring at them. So does that mean you like that kuya? But he’s a boy. Boys can’t like other boys.
Continue reading Boy