Lego House (Part 3 of 3)

Fiction by | September 9, 2018

The next day after painting graves, Tito and Elias took their time resting in the graveyard along with the other workers. The Barangay Captain had gone, leaving them with snacks. He supplied them with empaynada, pancit, and rice. Each had their own share and heartily consumed the food. Again, they were also given soft drinks. But, this time it was two liters of Sprite.

The older man among the three workers spoke, “There are hearsays about these people planning to excavate this cemetery.”

None of them said anything. Everyone intently looked at the man. He added, “The rich always get to do whatever they want.”

“But, the people won’t let that happen. There are… Ano? Maybe hundreds of dead people buried here,” the gaunt man said. His voice was surprisingly deep for someone whose ribs protruded over his brown skin.

Elias looked at Tito, wanting to see his reaction. He wanted to see the reaction of someone who had dug the earth and found a gold earring early in the morning. But, Tito remained calm and unaffected by what the other workers were discussing. He listened and relished his food.

Then, out of the blue, the teenager spoke, “Ah! Is that why there’s this Starex that had been passing by the cemetery lately?”

Continue reading Lego House (Part 3 of 3)

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)

Children of Homeland

Poetry by | August 19, 2018

I.

In their bamboo huts, where bullets
Could trace them, they tried to hide
Behind their mothers’ bodies as if
They could be infants in wombs again.

Their mothers’ pleas the only shield,
“Tama na! Mga sibilyan lang mi!”
But foes remained unmindful—the ears
Did not hear what the hearts refused to see.

Like dominoes standing, the mothers fell.
Blood ran to the edges of bamboo floors
Before they even hit the ground.
The children were left alone standing.

Datu Camsa sings their song in stillness,
They are now the birds of paradise,
Flying after their heads caught bullets
And their young hearts stopped to beat.

II.

Today they dance with Jamail. They swing
Their arms like leaves of banana trees
Of Tibungol swaying in the wind.
On the stage, they portray the birds

Of paradise, the children who were once
Like them but remained as children
Breathing now the quiet air of peace,
Behind them their watchful mothers,

Clasping hands with one another,
Remembering the previous nights –
The fumbling and the laughter
Shrill with surrender and innocence.

Papanok sa Surga still ring around
The hall. And in the huts left standing,
No traces nor shadows remain, only
The empty wind going and returning.


Mohammad Nassefh R. Macla is a Kagan-Bangsamoro native in Panabo City, Davao del Norte. His poem “Children of Homeland” has first appeared in Issue 85: Philippines of the Cordite Poetry Review, an Australian and international online journal of poetry review and criticism.

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)

Call for Applications for 2018 Davao Writers Workshop

Editor's Note | August 11, 2018

UPDATE: APPLICATIONS ARE NOW CLOSED.

The Davao Writers Guild is now accepting applications to the 2018 Davao Writers Workshop to be held on November 14-18, 2018.

Fifteen (15) fellowships are available, five (5) of which will be given to writers from outside Davao City but limited to residents living in Mindanao.

Applications are for the following genres: short fiction, poetry, essay, and play. They may be in English, Tagalog, or Binisaya. Entries should either contain 2 short stories (1,000 to 5,000 words), 2 essays (1,000 to 5,000 words), 2 one-act plays, or 5 poems.

Entries must be the applicants’ original works and should have not been accepted to another writers workshop or included in a creative writing thesis. Applicants should be a resident of Davao City or any part of Mindanao. Applicants should have not been an alumnus of the previous Davao Writers Workshop or a fellow to any of the national writers workshops. Accepted fellows will be given free board and lodging for the duration of the workshop.

Applicants are to:
1) Fill out the Application Form.

2) Secure a signed Certification Form.

3) Secure the electronic copy (.doc, .docx, or .rtf file) of the manuscript. Kindly include all entries in one document, and name your document as “[Last Name]_Manuscript for 2018DWW”.

4) Send your manuscript and certification form to
davaowritersworkshop@gmail.com with the subject: “DWW2018 Submission”.

Kindly use only one email address in the application process.

Deadline for submission is September 15, 2018. For inquiries, please send a message to davaowritersworkshop@gmail.com.

The 2018 Davao Writers Workshop is organized in cooperation with the University of the Philippines Mindanao.


Poster Design by Lyd Ejira Ducusin

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?”

Continue reading Errand Man

A Prayer for My Father

Nonfiction by | July 22, 2018

I was taught how to pray before I knew how to write. But my father made me learn both at the same time.

While my mother wanted me to memorize the Lord’s Prayer at the ripe month of six months, my father, a non-Catholic, had explained that a prayer only consists of four words: Thank, You, God, and Amen.

That, my father explained to her daughter, who would one day tell him she is a lesbian, is all you need in prayer.

So when I had learned from my CLE teacher in Grade 2 that a prayer had four parts instead of four words, I was skeptical in making my own prayer. I remembered thinking that my father knew prayers so well, maybe that was the reason the Lord’s Prayer started with an “Our Father”—to honor fathers. Years later, I would learn that the “Our Father” in the Lord’s Prayer was a form of adoration.

Being the ambitious kid who wanted to have the best written prayer, I told my teacher I didn’t know where to begin. Years later, I would take up a degree in Creative Writing and would still ask that same question—especially when I write about my father. My then late-30s teacher wrote the acronym A.C.T.S on my paper with her veiny hands and said, “This might help you write.”

I. ADORATION

A prayer must always start with adoration. Think of it as a letter heading. Put an addressee so that the letter wouldn’t get lost.

I had to make sure my prayer was heard by God and no other deity. It is meant to be sent. My CLE teacher told us to always start the prayer by saying His name or an adjective that connotes praise before His name. It shows respect to His power.

I hated myself for not having an adjective to describe my father. I felt like I had no respect for him since I couldn’t associate him to an adjective. Maybe generous? Because he gave me the toys I wanted and the books I wanted to read. As early as two years old, he knew I preferred books to toys.

Continue reading A Prayer for My Father