Lego House (Part 2 of 3)

Fiction by | September 2, 2018

Elias said, “Is there? I only know of the Yamashita treasure. It was my grandfather who told me about it. The Japanese General. Pero, wala man gihapon.”

“We can search for the treasure ourselves,” Tito persuaded Elias.

“Nabuang naman guro ka?” Elias had no hint of emotion on his face, but his mind swirled with images of gold. He looked at the tombs and on the ground and then pictured shiny and heavy gold bars underneath the asphalt ground.

Tito said, “They did find a treasure at the wakeboard area. There must be one or two here as well!”

Elias’ eyes widened and he felt a shiver down his spine. He was speechless. But, he saw a clearer vision of gold bars beneath his feet. . . everywhere, underneath all the tombstones, trees and the small obelisk. “Treasure hunting has long been banned,” he answered back.

“The authorities had been planning to excavate the graveyard even in the past. They want the gold for themselves. Don’t you want them too?” Tito said in a low voice as if talking to himself.

“What if we’ll get caught?”

Continue reading Lego House (Part 2 of 3)

Lego House (Part 1 of 3)

Fiction by | August 19, 2018

Elias Kupong crossed the pedestrian lane and paced toward the gates of Mintal Elementary School. He was on his way to One Network Bank where he left his bicycle. He carried a plastic bag filled with atchara, bulad and cooked rice. The sun shone brightly and exposed his narrow forehead, lazy brown eyes, large nose and dark thin lips. He was in his usual white long-sleeve shirt, khaki shorts and rugged slippers. He stopped by the school and scanned the field. Near the cream-colored school building were two headstones and an obelisk. Two little lads played tag close to the monument. An old memory of his flashed and he saw himself running across the vast field. School was fun and interesting, Elias thought. But, his family wasn’t fortunate enough to send him to college. Remembering those things bothered him. He had promised to never linger on the past.

There were many people outside the elementary school and he wondered why. He looked around and saw a young mother with a baby in her arms. Beside the young mother, a rather fat lady in sunglasses stood, fanning herself. Her glasses flashed for a moment, unlike her diamond earrings that shimmered steadily. She furrowed her brows and rolled her eyes.

She said, “Where is the President?” She fanned herself even more and few locks of her hair flew away repeatedly.

Elias went closer to the crowd and inquired, “Unsa diay ang naa?” However, he was ignored. The fat lady stared at him from head to toe and then continued fanning herself.

Continue reading Lego House (Part 1 of 3)

Errand Man (Part 2 of 2)

Fiction by | August 12, 2018

Arriving home, Evanswinda took her slippers off and searched for a dry shirt that she could change to. Her husband wasn’t home yet, which made her wonder where he went after seeing him outside the Granada’s residence. She didn’t wait for him and ate the cold rice and dried fish left over from their breakfast. When she lay back to sleep on the bed, she thought to herself what her life would have been if she didn’t marry her husband. Would she have been happier? Would she have not experienced the miscarriage? She did not know, but she easily concluded that she would still marry someone else and remain poor. No rich man would marry her. She knew she wasn’t pretty. Her flat nose looked like a small bump in the middle of her face and her eyes were large and unattractive. With that last thought, she dozed off to a dreamless sleep. She was awakened by the door opening and the sound of feet hitting the ground steadily. No light came from the small hole on their wall, which meant she slept throughout the afternoon. She hastily stood up, remembering that she had not prepared dinner. She went out the room and saw her husband lounging on the sofa in their living room.

“Hey,” he said, sitting up on the sofa. “I bought dinner. It’s on the table.”

She walked away without a word and went to search for the food. The food was put inside a plastic bag. Peaking inside, she saw that there were four cups of rice and two dishes, pinakbet and ginagmay. She prepared the table and called out her husband. The shuffling of feet could be heard behind her when she sat on the chair.

“How did you find out that I haven’t cooked dinner yet?” she asked.

“I just know,” he said, flashing a barely perceptible smile.

Evanswinda chewed her food first before she spoke. “I saw you outside the Granada’s. Why didn’t you tell me you were coming? What were you doing there?”

He didn’t answer immediately, knowing quite well that she was curious to know.

“They hired me to do errands,” he said. He focused on his food and wouldn’t look at her.

“What errands? I thought you hated them? You didn’t even want me to work for them.”

“Just simple errands. It’s just work anyway.” When she opened her mouth to speak he quickly said, “Let’s just leave it at that.”

She didn’t probe more and continued eating. She knew he hid something, but she could not determine what. He acted kind of edgy but tried to hide it well. He kept moving his leg under the table and looked anywhere but her.

Continue reading Errand Man (Part 2 of 2)

Errand Man

Fiction by | August 5, 2018

Evanswinda squatted on the washroom floor, scrubbing gently the clothes she had been washing. Left alone in the washroom of the Granada’s residence, she hummed to herself a song she heard in passing. The whirring sound of the washing machine and her soft humming broke the quiet morning in the household. She would have wanted to chuck the clothes she had been scrubbing inside the machine beside her if not for Ma’am Rissa’s instruction to wash them by hand because of the delicate fabric. She couldn’t afford to be scolded again in fear of losing her only job. A metal design on a dress shaped like a heart that she had failed to notice scraped her wrist. She yelped in surprise and quickly rinsed the shallow wound off with the soapy water. She continued washing, paying no attention to the stinging sensation while she scrubbed.

Ma’am Rissa’s daughter Christine, a young woman in her twenties, sauntered to the washroom and told Evanswinda to finish quickly before lunch came. As briefly as she came, she left. Still, she went ahead in washing the clothes slowly. She barely slept that morning after the talk she had with her husband Tiyong last night. She had gone to visit her parents in Maco yesterday. There was a fiesta in Maco that day and she accompanied her mother in the market to carry the vegetables, pancit canton, and a few slices of meat they bought. Obliged to lend a hand in cooking along with washing the dishes, she almost had no time to rest that day. She had been worn-out and couldn’t wait to go home. Her home was in Sto. Niño. This had been her home ever since she married Tiyong. Sto. Niño was not as clean and peaceful as the home she had in Maco, but she had become attached to the place after living there. The houses were disorganized with feeble attempts of fixing the leaking roofs and holed plank walls. The black canal surrounding the purok gave off a putrid smell. It was as if the canal has died and had been left there to rot. Of course it was not the shabby image of the town that she had liked, but the place full of life and sound despite the lives most residents had.

Evanswinda only had a few minutes of rest when she arrived home. Sitting up on the bed, she massaged her sore arms when her husband came. He had gone straight to their room to change and had ignored her unintentionally. His face, darkened by the sun, scrunched up in worry. Tiyong was out of sorts that night, staring unto nothing in particular and seeming to forget the food offered before him. Evanswinda felt offended for she had frantically prepared the table upon his arrival. After preparing for bed, he took his wife’s hand and spoke up what had been bothering him.

“It had been long since we lost the little one,” he started.

“It had only been two years,” said Evanswinda.

“That had been long enough,” he said. “Why don’t we start again?”

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Ang Mahiwagang Lagusan

Fiction by | July 15, 2018

Ang Sitio Tinago ay dating tirahan ng mga katutubong Mawe. Dito nagpapakita ang isang mahiwagang lagusan papunta sa kuweba ng paraiso na iilan lang ang nakakapunta. Nagbubukas ito tuwing nagiging kulay dugo ang araw. Subalit sa paglipas ng panahon ay kaunti na lang ang natirang Mawe at naging kuwentong bayan na lamang ang paraiso.

Madalas na ngayong binabagyo ang lugar dahil pinutol na ang mga puno at tanging nag-uumpukang mga bahay na lamang ang matatanaw mula sa mga burol. Sa dulo ng Sitio Tinago nakatira si Ligkaya at Apo Maye. Sila na lamang ang natitirang mga Mawe sa lugar at ang lupang kinalalagyan nila ang natatanging kakahuyan na naiwan sa buong sitio. Takot ang mga tao na pumunta roon dahil isa itong libingan ng mga yumaong katutubo at sino mang lumapastangan ay makakatikim sa galit ng mga pumanaw.

Malapit si Ligkaya sa kalikasan dahil alam niya na kung wala ang kalikasan, wala rin ang tao. Si Apo Maye ang nagturo sa kanyang magtanim at makiramdam sa kinikilos ng kalikasan. Naging palaruan na ni Ligkaya ang gubat at araw-araw siyang pumupunta ditong mag-isa. 

Isang araw, habang naglalakad siya papasok sa kakahuyan ay napansin niyang tila nagkulay dugo ang langit at nag-iingay ang mga ibon. Biglang nagdilim ang paligid at napatingala siya sa kalangitan. Nakita niya ang isang napakalaking ibon na lumilipad sa himpapawid. Namangha si Ligkaya at sinundan niya nang sinundan ito. Nagpapakitang gilas ang ibon at ipinagaspas nito ang napakalapad na pakpak na may matingkad na kulay at ito ay nagpalutang-lutang sa hangin.

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Si Fren

Fiction by | May 6, 2018

Usa ka mekaniko si Fren. Hingataw-un. Buntag hangtud gabii, siya gapang-ayo ug mga guba nga sakyanan. Siya kugihan. Adunay siya’y upat ka anak, si Budoy, si Paula, si Jose ug si Utitud ug asawa nga si Lalay. Simple lamang ang kinabuhi ni Fren ug sa iyahang pamilya. Makakaon lamang sila ug katulo sa usa ka adlaw, malipayun na sila.

Daghan mga tawo gikan sa nagkalain-laing parte sa susyudidad ang nagapaayo sa iyahang gamay nga syap kay tungod lagi maayo ug paspas iyang serbisyo. Adunay DJ sa radyo, propesor sa MSU, mga politiko, apo sa mga tag-iya sa mga dagkong kompanya o mga negosyante. Ug silang tanan adunay maayo nga relasyon kaniya. Usahay kung ako mulabay sa iyahang gamay nga syap, makita nako nga ginapalitan pa gani siya ug softdrinks sa iyahang mga suki. Ug kini nagadugang ug “tip” tungod sa iyahang kakugihan ug kamaayo. 

Sa sobra kakugihan ni Fren, pag-uli nako gikan sa trabaho matag gabii, makita gihapon nako siya nga adunay kaestorya nga kostumer sa gawas sa iyahang panimalay. Usahay daghan gapangita kay Fren sayo pa sa buntag,maong makamata ako sa kabanha sa mga iro nga ana sa lataran, kay silingan ra man kami.

Usa ka adlaw niana, paadto ko sa akoang trabahuan ug nakita ko si Fren nga bag-o pa lamang abot sa ilahang balay.

“Naay nangita sa imuha tong niaging adlaw, Bay.”

“Aw diay. Salamat, Bay.”

“Sige, diri sa’ko.”

Gitagbo si Fren sa iyahang mga anak. Mipadayun ako sa paglakaw.

Nilabay ang mga adlaw, matag gabii, sige ug paghot ang iro, ug dili ako makatulog, wala nay kostumer si Fren apan misilip ako sa gamay nga buslot sa bintana arun makita ko kung aduna bay tawo apan wala akoy nakita. Nibalik ako ug higda apan sa dili pa ako mahinanok sa pagtulog, nakadungog ako ug tulo ka pagpangnuktok sa purtahan nila.

Wala na gayud akoy kusog para usisaun kung kinsa katong mga tawhana, sa tumang kahadlok, nagbukot na lamang ako ug habol.

Tulo ka buto. Kusog nga hilak ug kalisang.

Apan wala ako’y nadungog, wala.

“Pasayloa ko, Fren.”

Ug gikuha ko ang pakete sa shabu nga aana sa ilalom sa akoang unlan.

“Hapit na ko matunton. Kinahanglan na nako muhawa niining dapita.”

Hannah Lecena is a graduate of BSED Filipino at MSU-GSC, a member of SOX Writers Group, former spoken word performer of TINTAsyon, an existing organization that supervises various events in Restobars and Cafe in GenSan, Polomolok, Tupi and Surallah South Cotabato. Her first Zine entitled “Ala-ala ng Paglimot” in collaboration with Alvin Pomperada was published last Zines Festival held in GenSan. She is from Sarangani Province. Her flashfiction “Ig-agaw” was published at Cotabato Literary Journal, as well as her poem “Kung Ako ang Pasultihun,” in the same year. Her winning piece during GenSan Summer Youth Fest 2017 in which she was the champion, “Pangatlong Mata” was also published by the said Literary Folio. She is now busy organizing and promoting spoken word poetry events around General Santos City.

At the Terminal

Fiction by | May 6, 2018

Dear You-who-have-left,

I hope you are doing fine.

I hope the sun’s warmth wakes you in the morning and the cold breeze tickle your toes. As the rooster crows and the smell of your brewed coffee combines with the scent of freshly washed linens, I hope you long for home. I hope you have seen the waves that chased after each other as they crash altogether on the arms of the shore. I pray that you have watched the stars as they not only form constellations but reminders of the promises you made. And as you sleep, I wish that you dream of the love you have left and that your heart may always remember.

I have felt how her shoulders heaved on your last embrace. How she forced her knees to unshaken. How she forced her lips to curve, to make you see she is fine. How every drop of tear was stopped on the brink and how she bit her tongue to unlet the words “don’t go” spill-out. I have watched, as you slowly stepped on the train’s platform; the heaviness of her shoulders have let her arms just hang low and her heart, sank in an ice-cold ocean. I have watched, as every tear came rushing as you waved your hat and bade her goodbye. I have seen, as she ran to catch the last glimpse of you and how her frail voice cracked the words “I love you.” But you could hear no more. The train’s whistle and your dreams have drowned her little heart’s voice in tears.

And sometimes, you know, I wish I was you.

I hope there was someone who would shed tears as I ride the train too. Someone who would keep a photograph of me in a wallet, on a purse or underneath the pillow. Someone who would softly touch her lips on my forehead and say “take care.” Someone who would give me a long embrace as the conductor calls for the last passengers. Someone who would hold my hand firmly and look into my eyes and say, “Dear, I will be waiting.” I hope there was someone, hoping each night to be with me and would be waiting for my return patiently. And when I finally come home, someone I could wrap my arms with and I could say “we belong with each other. I wouldn’t leave again and I am here to stay.”

But sometimes, I also wish, I was someone who was left.

Someone, who awaits your crashing into my arms, like the shore patiently waits for the waves. Someone, no matter how long it takes, will wait and hold on to every promise we made. If there was no more you who would come back, I will feel every piercing pain in the chest. It would take years to heal, but at least, at least I have felt. And if one night, you appear on my front door, you will grab me by the hand and we’d kiss and we’d hug and you would swing me and we’d dance under the moonlight. We’d sit under the stars and you’d tell me of how you have reached your dreams; of how you have discovered that you can be an author, an astrologer and that you can be anything you want to be. You’d tell me about how your soul has been searched, and yet your heart yearns for me. I would rest my head on your shoulders and nuzzle into your hair and I would tuck you into my arms and never let go of you again.

I wish I was either.

But I am just here. Meant to watch every departure, meant to see every arrival. I was just, meant to see, meant to watch and not to feel. Meant not to belong to anyone, meant to love no one.

I still hope to see you together very soon.


Ten Ilajas is currently lost in the dunes of the Middle East.

Speedy and Jet

Fiction by | February 4, 2018

Speedy and Jet won 3rd Place Palanca Award for Short Story for
Children in English in 1997.

Once upon a time, in a distant valley, there was a small vineyard tended by a farmer.

Early each spring, the farmer made sure that the grapevines grew solidly from the arbor down to the roots. He knew that when the vines slowly crawled and reached the top of the arbor, they would spread out and start to bear fruits.

In the late summer or early fall, bunches and bunches of large plump grapes could be seen hanging from the arbor. The farmer allowed the fruits to grow into their ripe color.

One day, all the grapes had turned into a purple color.

“It is time to harvest the grapes,” said the farmer.

Continue reading Speedy and Jet