Nonfiction by | July 1, 2018

When mothers go bald, children would start to think that there is something going on. I guess it is a spur for every child, or perhaps it is only a way of thrusting into my mind that I wouldn’t think differently; that the curious mind of a six-year-old would think of the bald boy in school whom she laughed at, and then she would look at her mother again. She would look at her twice, thrice, until there would only be her mother and the void. Finally, it would sink in that her mother is beautiful even without her crown of black hair, and that she need not wear a hat.

It all started with a slip. I hunkered down to my mother who was lying on the bathroom floor, naked. Her lips were pale and her eyes were half open. A little while ago, mama and I were bathing together in the bathroom. She lathed me with soap from head to my tiniest toenail until she could consider me clean. Clean, for her, was the immaculate whiteness of our bathroom tiles and the dustless walls and windowpanes inside. I flushed stark and dark against the bleached background, and was a disappointment in her sight. She rubbed my brown skin patiently until it reddened, and then she washed the soap and body dirt away.

“Maryosep! Kang kinsa man kang anak?” My mother just disowned me and continued complaining that if only my father listened to her and refrained from taking me every weekend to Cuaco beach, that according to her standards was a place no better than a garbage dump, her only child would have had fairer skin. In a fit of pique her rantings caused, I defended Papa and proved her how cool he was by telling her how he threw me from a dock into the water without my floaters on for me to learn how to swim. It provoked her more and made her address my father by his full name.

Kani jud si Samuel Ruiz,” she paused to catch some air, “Bantay ra gyud na imong amahan pag uli niya.” She can threaten my father freely while he was still not home yet from work. Her fury flared as she ruthlessly scrubbed my knees. I tried to calm her down with the assurance that Papa always got my back and would never allow the sea to take me away. Her mouth kept on blabbering about the said matter as if she did not hear me or deem my excuses considerable. She stood up from a squat and lost her balance.

I thought she fell asleep. The sight of my mother lying against the white tiles disturbed me after long seconds passed. I felt the cold seeped into my soles as slow as the pace of panic. I called her name a few times and paused for a moment, then I screamed for help. 

Continue reading Slip

A Siege Means No Classes

Nonfiction by | June 24, 2018

Grey and black smoke rose from the city like leaning towers. Gunshots and explosions replaced the sounds of crickets in the evening. The smell of fire spread everywhere. War and death were right in front of me.

The Zamboanga Siege lasted for about two and a half months, causing destruction and death. It’s been four years now, and the world has moved on to worry about other deaths and destructions. What was previously a top news story is now forgotten by many.

I remember it in fragments. It was a carelessly developed plot that led to no profound meaning. The situation was straight out of a disaster film made solely for enjoyment. Except, of course, this was in no way a movie, and in no way fun.

Continue reading A Siege Means No Classes

Orange Hope

Poetry by | May 27, 2018

Antares placidly fades
from the deep and high blanket,
He absconds from being one
of the many faces in the crowd.
He will be the brightest one,
But not on this sky, langga.
Not this one.

Dark and deep blanket embraces
flush-tainted, vast spread;
the transition is both breath-taking
and dangerous.
Inevitable change has come to him
but he’s not afraid.
If anything, he’s excited.

Your overwhelming orange smile
rises from the east.
Whooping, screaming,
greeting delight and passion;
waking up what’s sleeping within
and fueling my dim ignition of hope.

Al Lorgentina is a BS Accounting Technology student at Ateneo de Davao University. She was born and raised in Toril, Davao City.

The Many Faces of Hope, Part 2

Nonfiction by | May 27, 2018

(Second part of the Keynote Speech delivered at the 44th Congress of the Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL) and the 31st Gawad Alagad ni Balagtas held in Roxas City on 28 April 2018 with the theme: “Kadulom kag Kasanag: Panitikan ng Pag-asa.”)

Kanya, another image of the bird na lumabas ay ang ibong malaya. Ito yong inawit ng mga makibaka-huwag-matakot na ang bokabularyo ay dominated ng tatlong “ismo” monsters. Sa kanilang paningin tayo ay nakakulong sa malaking hawla ng tatlong “ismo” at “isang dipang langit” lang ang ating nakikita.

Ang daming mga Messiah ang nagsulputan, isa na si Marcos who viewed the oligarchs and communists as the evil causes of our poverty, declared Martial Law, and offered the New Society as the sinalimba or hope of Filipinos. In turn, ang mga ismong activists viewed Marcos as the biggest demon in Philippine society. Nag-mutual demonization. Kaso, mas makapangyarihan si Marcos at pinaghuhuli, pinagtotortyur, at pinagpapatay ang mga aktibista. After twenty years nagcrash ang New Society and was replaced by Hope who wore yellow at EDSA. But it went phht very quickly.

One government after another has come and gone, offering hope in the form of millennium goals that went up in smoke, a kagang-kagang jeepney, matatag na republika na madaling nalosyang, and another sinalimba labelled “kayo ang boss ko.” But the country’s situation has worsened. We’ve mangled our Constitution several times, but the diaspora continues, not only to the States but also to Arab countries where our so-called heroes could end up being murdered and hidden in a freezer.
I continue to be stunned by our poverty figures. Lanao del Sur (ARMM) – 74.3%, Sulu (ARMM) – 65.7%, Sarangani (Region 12) – 61.7%, Northern Samar (Region 8) – 61.6%, Maguindanao (ARMM) – 59.4%, Bukidnon (Region 10) – 58.7% etc, etc. Nationwide, it’s still a shocking 25%. Self-rating surveys say 50% of Filipinos feel they are mahirap.

Continue reading The Many Faces of Hope, Part 2

Adidas sa Badjao

Poetry by | May 20, 2018

adidas sa badjao
perming galakaw-lakaw
gikan silas Dabaw
hangtud Oriental ang panaw
nahimong negosyante
makahangyo ka permi
gikan dosentos baynte
hangtud sa wan pepti

adidas sa badjao
ang halin ipamahaw
usahay lugaw-lugaw
aron gutom mahanaw
kung imong tan-awon
nanginabuhi intawon
isug natong mga igsuon
hagit sa kinabuhi gapadayon

adidas sa badjao
lig-on ilakaw-lakaw
bisan asa pa imong panaw
diha ilalom sa adlaw
pagkanindot suoton
dili gikan sa halangdon
sayon ra pod sukdon
sa tiil nga mga kubalon

mga adidas sa badjao
amping mos inyong panaw
ug kung mubalik mos Dabaw
patilawa kos inyong lugaw
dinhi pud sa Davao Oriental
duna mi daghang bahal
maghinay-hinay ta’g tagay
ug sa kinabuhi maglipay-lipay

Si Jovanie usa ka magtutudlo sa Davao Oriental State College of Science & Technology- SAN ISIDRO CAMPUS. Ang iyang mga tula namantala sa Dagmay. Siya kasamtangang nagpuyo sa munisipalidad sa San Isidro, Davao Oriental.

The Many Faces of Hope, part 1

Nonfiction by | May 20, 2018

(Keynote Speech delivered at the 44th Congress of the Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL) and the 31st Gawad Alagad ni Balagtas held in Roxas City on 28 April 2018 with the theme: “Kadulom kag Kasanag: Panitikan ng Pag-asa.”)

To all UMPIL officers and members, our Balagtas awardees, National Artist for Literature Virgilio Almario, fellow writers, guests, and friends, maayong buntag.

I find our theme very interesting: “Kadulom kag Kasanag: Panitikan ng Pag-asa” (Darkness and Light: The Literature of Hope).

We are all familiar with the Greek myth of Pandora, the beautiful girl who received all the gifts from the gods and goddesses. She was a very curious girl. She was told not to open a jar, but open she did, and all kinds of evil came out, darkening the world — calamities, hunger, diseases, plagues, giyera, ungo, kapre, aswang. Na-shock si Pandora, but she had the presence of mind to close the jar. Ang naiwan sa loob, HOPE. Pag-asa, Paglaom.

I’d like to interpret this myth as the origin of how humankind acquired hope, rather than as how evil got into the world. Hope was Pandora’s gift to us. Her brother-in-law, Prometheus, gifted us with fire. Si Pandora, hope. Yong evil of the world na lumabas sa jar, gawa ni Zeus. Maldito man na si Zeus.

Across the millennia, Hope took different faces, shapes, and sizes, depending on the type of evil that prevailed during a particular era. Whatever shape it took, it always meant something good or better than the situation people found themselves in.

Hope is what keeps the fire of Prometheus in us burning, it keeps us going despite all the challenges, hardships, calamities – personal man o communal.

Continue reading The Many Faces of Hope, part 1

Dogs Without Names

Nonfiction by | May 13, 2018

‘Man and animals are partly the same. Both deserve love, loyalty and law.’

I have two dogs. They don’t have names. They are Brown and Dalmatian. The latter is a combination of spotted black and white colors. One morning, when I woke up, I heard somewhere in the house faint crying voices. I was not sure what it was. And so I went outside from the main room. I found out that pups have just been delivered by the mother dog. They just went inside my house, and sought comfort at my terrace. I pitied them very much. I bought powdered milk, mixed it with water and served it to the little dogs and the mother dog.

I roamed around my neighborhood telling them that a dog has just delivered her puppies in my house, and they replied that the pups already belonged to me since they were born inside my house. The five little puppies grew very fast. My budget for food increased because I have six more mouths to feed.

When the dogs were still young, they were led by the mother dog to my immediate neighbor. After a few days, they returned back to my house where they were born.

One day, my neighbor asked to have one of the pups so that he could keep it as his pet. I didn’t hesitate to give it for as long as they are not going to be slaughtered and be served as food during celebrations or party.

It was very difficult to catch these dogs. With my neighbors’ persistence to catch one of the pups; they succeeded and finally, they placed it inside an empty sack.

Continue reading Dogs Without Names

Usa Ka Gabiing Nakighilawas ang Manananggal

Uncategorized by | May 13, 2018

iyang gitusok
sa tunga
sa akong gabilangkad
ug mga
bus-ok nga hita
ang iyang talinis
nga bitin.







ang akong kalag
nga murag molupad.
samtang hapit na nako
makab-ot ang langit
kalit lang niya
sa iyang taas nga kamot
ang lagaraw sa daplin,
sa akong kalagot
sa kalami
sa kasakit
sa kakatol
sa kangilngig
nga akong nabati
ako miikyas
ug nisinggit,

“Piste! Nabilin akong hawak!”

Lyda May Sual-Lozaldo is a graduate of Creative Writing.