The Journal of Contemporary Philippine Literature

The University of the Philippines Press Diliman, Quezon City

LIKHAAN 6 The Journal of Contemporary Philippine Literature ©2012 by UP Institute of Creative Writing All rights reserved. No copies can be made in part or in whole without prior written permission from the author and the publisher. ISSN: 1908-8795

Gémino H. Abad Issue Editor Virgilio S. Almario Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo Associate Editors Ruth Jordana Luna Pison Managing Editor Anna Sanchez Publication Assistant Zenaida N. Ebalan Book Designer ADVISERS Gémino H. Abad Virgilio S. Almario Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio Bienvenido L. Lumbera FELLOWS Jose Y. Dalisay Jr. Jose Neil C. Garcia Victor Emmanuel Carmelo D. Nadera Jr. Charlson Ong Jun Cruz Reyes Rolando B. Tolentino ASSOCIATES Romulo P. Baquiran Jr. ICW STAFF Arlene Ambong Andresio Gloria Evangelista Pablo C. Reyes



An Introduction to Our Literary Scene in 2011 Gémino H. Abad SHORT FICTION / MAIKLING KUWENTO

3 Armor John Bengan 16 31 38 52 68 73 The Old Man and His False Teeth Hammed Bolotaolo Siren Angelo Lacuesta What They Remember Jenette Vizcocho Troya Joselito D. delos Reyes Ang Batang Gustong Maging Ipis Carlo Pacolor Garcia Gitnang-Araw Mixkaela Villalon POETRY / TULA 95 102 106 111 115 Sea Stories Merlie M. Alunan Stretch Isabela Banzon Four Poems Mookie Katigbak Parameters Joel M. Toledo Being One Alfred A. Yuson


121 126

“Alamat ng Isang Awit” at Iba pang Tula Michael M. Coroza Mga Tula Edgar Calabia Samar

130 Sa Kanilang Susunod Isang Kalipunan ng mga Tula Charles Bonoan Tuvilla 141 Mula sa Agua Enrique Villasis NONFICTION 149 166 178 194 The Last Gesture Merlie M. Alunan Traversing Fiction and Nonfiction in Travel Writing Vicente Garcia Groyon The River of Gold Jeena Rani Marquez Butterfly Sleep and Other Feuilletons Rowena Tiempo Torrevillas INTERVIEW / PANAYAM 207 Intensities of Signs: An Interview with the Visionary Cirilo F. Bautista Ronald Baytan Ang Tatlong Panahon ng Panulaan ni Rogelio G. Mangahas Louie Jon A. Sanchez at Giancarlo Lauro C. Abrahan SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY OF LITERARY WORKS, 2011 267 276 283 289 English Filipino Contributors / Mga Kontribyutor Editors / Mga Editor




Gémino H. Abad

What is a “literary work”? nything literary—poetry, fiction, play, essay—is wrought from language; “wrought,” the past tense of “work,” for the writer works the language, as the farmer the soil, so their medium might bear fruit. Thus, we call any poem or short story a “literary work”: a work of language. As wrought, the poem’s words (I use “poem,” from Greek poiein, “to make,” as generic term for all literary works) bring the past alive to the present, for the writer brings to life what he remembers, and thereby, offers the sensitive reader a gift; the reader need only open with his own imagination the writer’s present. The literary work is, of course, a work of imagination, even as language itself, ceaselessly reinvented, and its script are the finest invention of the human imagination. It may be that onomatopoeia, the mimesis of the sounds of nature and human situations, is the origin and fount of language and writing. Imagination entails work of memory; the ancient Greeks were right when they thought of Mnemosyne as the mother of the nine Muses. Memory brings to life what is past, what in one’s experience has moved one’s soul. I have always been struck by what Eduardo Galeano says of memory: “to remember,” he says, is in Spanish, “recordar,” which derives from Latin, “recordis,” that is, “to pass through the heart.”1 For the heart’s memory is the profoundest, that which has most stirred one’s whole being. Similarly, the etymology of “experience” from both Latin (experiri) and Greek (enpeiran) spells the very nature of all our living, for it denotes all the meaningfulness of our human condition: “to undergo or pass through, to try or attempt (hence, the English ‘experiment’ and ‘trial’), to fare or go on a journey, to meet with chance and danger, for nothing is certain.”



We consider the author’s work first as literary: that is, both as work of language and as work of imagination. As work of language, we regard its craft, mindful of what the philosopher Albert Camus says about style or the writer’s way with language: that it brings about “the simultaneous existence of reality and the mind that gives reality its form.”2 As work of imagination, we contemplate its vision and meaningfulness, for its mimesis or simulation of a human experience is already an interpretation of it. In short, we consider the literary work as work (labor) of art. Only then, I should think, might we consider other factors or forces that made it possible or that might elucidate certain aspects of its nature other than its literariness; such other factors as the author’s own life or experience (we would of course have to examine all his works), his psychology, the social and intellectual forces in his own time, his own country’s history and culture, etc. Here lies the value of other theories or approaches than the formalist (despite every theory’s limitations and excesses). Since theory is essentially a way of looking from certain basic assumptions, none is apodictic (absolutely certain). The literary work as work of language and imagination is basically rhetorical in nature: it aims to persuade and thereby to move and give pleasure. That is its dynamis, power, or effect (in Tagalog, dating): dulce et utile, says Horace—revel and revelation. Dating: the work literally arrives: that is, it stirs the reader’s imagination and, persuaded by the authenticity of the imagined experience, be that only an emotional outburst or a train of reflection, the reader is moved at the core of his being as human. The good and the true and the beautiful: these are clichés, abstractions, even (if you will) illusions; but when they come alive in a particular scene or human situation, with words and words through imagery and metaphor and other figures of thought which arouse the imagination, then the work, “the achieve of, the mastery of the thing,” arrives. The good, the true, and the beautiful—and their opposites, as well—arise in the flesh, as it were, and convict us without pity: we cry tears or are purged in laughter. “A book,” says J. M. Coetzee, “should be an axe to chop open the frozen sea inside us.”3 In sum: whatever the literary work’s paksa (subject or theme), it is the work’s saysay (point, significance, meaningfulness) and diwa (spirit, vision, stance or attitude toward reality) that endow the paksa with persuasive and emotional force (dating). What are requisite for any reader are a deep sense for language and a capacity for that close reading which opens the text: that word-weave, after all, has already come to terms with itself. Any interpretation



Lao’s “Swatches”.”4 And for cunning. for revel and revelation—that is the “literary work.” I might illustrate further with some striking passages: from Pauline Lacanilao’s “Love Language”— INTRODUcTION vii . Eva Gubat’s “A Telling of Loss”. Pauline Lacanilao’s “A Crowded Bus Stops Abruptly”. play of mind. R. Miro Capili’s “Monet’s Last Yellow”. too. play of mind because there are no absolute certainties. Nolin Adrian de Pedro’s “caxton”. for instances. Jasmine Nikki Paredes’s “This Poem Is a Mouth”. interpretations of paksa. his own heartland’s culture and history through fleeting time. Jordan Carnice’s “Relativities”. Trish Shishikura’s. dark and deep”. On that so-called universal plane. and Vyxz Vasquez’s “Epal. Of course. Vincent Dioquino’s “candescence”. Casuga’s “Graffiti: Five Lenten Poems”. Christine V. his wide reading. For craft. and diwa may vary because the reader draws from his own life experience. are informed by wit and satire: Anne Carly Abad’s “How the world got owned”. and thereby enhance its capacity to forge new forms or renew past “habitations of the word. saysay.” I beg then my reader’s indulgence for my remarks on the poetry wrought from English that. There are quite a number of remarkable poems that I personally would not hesitate to include in an update of A Habit of Shores should I venture again into those woods “lovely. could not all be accommodated in Likhaan 6. we are one species: homo sapiens. nationality is a legal fiction. Jan Brandon Dollente’s “When I say the sky opens its mouth”. too. play of language because one must ever try to override and transcend the voids and inadequacies of language by its own evocative power. F. Salazar’s “Clinch”. only the site of everlasting questioning. and one’s country is only how one imagines her as one stands upon his own ground: that is. only if anyone might presumptuously claim from the Muse what truly cannot be anyone’s possession in that “craft or sullen art. Play of language. presumably.” There are poems. biases and ideological advocacies. That universal plane isn’t the realm of eternal verities. that taking after other poets’ works and poems. each one for wholeness perfectly chiseled—Jov Almero’s “palindrome”. Jaime Oscar M. Torres Pandan’s “Remembering Our Future”. for embarrassment of riches.of the text is a coming to terms with it. On that plane.” Imagination herself is player and mimic with various guises and masks. Albert B. “The Manner of Living”. The “best among the best” in Likhaan 6 My calling is poetry—that is. Arlene Yandug’s “Aporia. and his own psyche which comprises his own temperament and predilections.

pulsates with a certain force because it has been ‘made’ (undergone poiesis) into a thing of beauty and meaning.” says this reviewer). Likewise. Or from Eva Gubat’s “Eurydice. each poem as a whole. The frame of a window yearns for a view of what extends it. the standards and tastes of the contemporary critic-reader of our literature in both English and Filipino. I might draw from their commentaries which exemplify. objective-subjective selection of the works for Likhaan 6. She will burn any stranger’s rope ladder hanging deliciously from earth’s tongue. I will call my child the same. Or from Miro Capili’s “Overture to a disturbance”— A house dreams of its rooms. As editor I have relied on my associates for their judgment.) As regards first the poetry in English. preferred poems that are “aware of the Filipino experience.” viii LIKHAAN 6 . we have reaped a bountiful harvest. I have edited their comments. (For brevity. I should think. but without losing their sense. Rebooted”— No need for saving. Their comments may also spur more and ever finer writing.If I ever learn the name of the moment after prayer when the Amen sheathes its blade but the hilt of want still glints. in choosing eight from “the crop” (seventy-two poetry collections of “generally fine quality. as regards the fiction and nonfiction in English. yet also conscious of poetry as the most potent use of language [so that] each word or image. and all the works in Filipino. I am most grateful to them and to all our reviewers who have been a great help in the final. While I am not at liberty to reveal our reviewers’ identities. one reviewer.

” and finally.” is (to adopt his own words) a “double-edged sword [of ] an antic mind” that celebrates a “moral order of aesthetics” where: Equipoise of execution Is all that’s needed for a crossover above rivers of demarcation. The subject of Merlie M. This reviewer comments in detail on individual poems from each of five chosen poetry collections: “Parameters.” there is a “‘letting go of all useless. between nations and genders. Toklas’s Cookbook. Toledo’s poems (likewise.” The other reviewer also clarifies a personal view: I like a poem that is at home in the world.” The final poetry selection limited each poetry collection to four/five poems.” and “The Difference between Abundance and Grace. in “Oath. INTRODUcTION ix .” “Parameters.” “This Poem Is a Mouth. The poem (and poet) is part of something larger and something older. Yuson’s lyric suite. very ‘real’ in its mythmaking. they’re like a song list for Balikbayan Videoke. only part of a suite called “Parameters”) the cycle—say.” “Akin to Feeling. “Being One. rhythmic regularity. Alunan’s poems (here only part of a series called “Sea Stories”) is “unmistakable in its immediacy. Such a poem has respect for a reader who is addressed or is allowed to overhear the speaker’s thoughts. and effective in its ‘aesthetic of catastrophe’.” In Joel M. confront frailty’.” “The Autobiography of Alice B. not one that denies meaning. It shows a discipline with thought and language … I praise the poet’s individual vision. in this century.” “In Lieu of the Visible.” “Stretch. it is intentional.” If there is a delay in meaning. Toss in genres.” Alfred A.“ “Grafitti: Five Lenten Poems.This reviewer chose “Sea Stories. but I also value his/her resonance with tradition. when read aloud.” and “In the Garden.” an untitled collection that began with “Angle Mort. and perceivable by the human senses. but the language and poetic structure refuse to let the poem fall into melodrama. from “Om” to “Oath. they have a strange. unnecessary fury’ without being weak but ready ‘to face mercy. Such a poem has urgency in what is uttered.” Isabela Banzon’s poems (in a series called “Stretch”) sometimes “seem undisciplined with their uneven lines but.” as preferred by one reviewer—resounds the “wonder of language and the world. sensibility.” “Akin to Feeling. or “reality as we know it. and there is a perceivable reward for such a tactic.

“The Outsiders” (a community’s “concerted effort” against new arrivals who bring changes forces it to grapple with its “uneasy collective conscience”). a Tale of the Baroque” (a family rivalry set against the backdrop of their town’s religious tradition). of these. a professional photographer. with well-drawn characters”). the significant details are palpable. Charles Bonoan Tuvilla. leaving her to declare the world’s end a second time”). and disciplining the language according to their various chosen ideological missions.” says Almario “the most recent thematic pursuits and the corresponding experimental poetic expressions in Filipino. carefully drawn.” for they are perfectly chiseled “in the puzzle’s core”: heart’s weather and mind’s “lit equations/of faiths we keep untrue for. “Still Life” (“the persona’s world ends when her son gets lost. other than those finally selected.” For all the works wrought from Filipino. The other reviewer chose six. Coroza “ably represent. however. one reviewer selected eight. I relied on our reviewers and on National Artist for Literature Virgilio S. when the latter exhibits his photographs of poverty and squalor in the Philippines. Almario. The poems by Enrique Villasis. and “Laws of Stone” (“a fantasy revolving around a quest. Edgar Calabia Samar. “The New Daughter” (“an interesting sequel to the Pinocchio tale”). and “The Photographer of Dupont Circle” (“the intricacies in the relationship of a Filipino and his American boyfriend. There were fifty-one poetry collections. which makes for a thought-provoking ending”). both grappling with loss of memory and its retrieval. “she meets in the empty ‘new world’ a young man who inspires her to again be the dancer she used to be. says one reviewer. are sympathetic.” there are. even while using the traditional tugma’t sukat or carving new forms in free verse. “two lives that intersect. The poets invariably display a high degree of mastery of modern Filipino. In Jenette N.And certainly not the least are Mookie Katigbak’s “Four Poems. Vizcocho’s “What They Remember. and Michael M.” but when the Rapture occurs. among them: “The Outsiders”. Four stories were finally chosen. the Filipino then retaliates. its world-building done with care. plot-driven. “Ecstasy at Barranca. “The Room by the Kitchen” (“a domestic helper in Singapore gradually becomes a surrogate mother to an 8-year-old girl whose parents are too busy”). four were among seven finalists in our reviewers’ list. he too turns into dust. among these eight (including the reviewer’s digest of the story) are: “Sugar and Sweetness” (a gay couple undergoes “the same struggle as other couples having to ‘come to terms with the brevity of things’”). and the characters.” In regard to fiction in English (fifty-nine short stories).” The x LIKHAAN 6 .

) The fiction in Filipino numbered twenty-five. disappears.” It is “as romantic in its way” as Bolotaolo’s narrative. irony is achieved through the effective use of the daughter’s (the culprit’s) point of view. for one character.” I combine both reviewers’ comments: it narrates “the transformation from self-absorbed to sympathetic character of a gay. a “deceptively straightforward narrative of a domestic helper suspected of stealing a piece of jewelry. there may be “release from her self-imposed exile. he attempts to win a beauty pageant by fashioning a unique gown with an ‘armored’ sleeve which actually makes him vulnerable. small-time drug-dealer who knows the syndicate will hit him.” a chapter from a novel. “on a dysfunctional family. “a wildly romantic tale set in a Manila rendered unfamiliar—yet eerily recognizable— by an immense flood. and becomes an urban legend.” As regards John Bengan’s “Armor. says Hidalgo. a door-todoor beauty stylist who sometimes choreographs intermission dance numbers for government employees. at the story’s end. Says one reviewer: “Sa aking palagay. and built around a most unlikely love token: a set of illfitting false teeth. meticulously cleans every day but never uses. “a story within a story within still another story: an old man tells a young boy how he courted and married a girl who later gifts him with the false teeth he lovingly.” says associate editor Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo. for the other. says one reviewer. as she ‘stares at her cell phone’s screen and its blinking cursor’.” It is. seen through the eyes of a child. says Hidalgo. “but even stranger elements have been tossed into the brew: drug dealers and death squads.” Hammed Bolotaolo’s “The Old Man and His False Teeth” is.” Angelo Lacuesta’s “Siren” is “focused.’” (Only “Armor” and “The Outsider” are among both story reviewers’ choices. But at the heart of the story is injustice. perverse though it might be. the town’s patron saint. the pain “finds expression. he tries to save his young assistant who crafted his armor. “Kung Bakit Hindi INTRODUcTION xi .” The other reviewer chose eight: among them. he risks his life to recover it. ang maikling kuwento ang prosang nalalapit sa tula sa puntong nangangailangan ito ng mga salitang may presisyon upang makapagpahayag ng damdamin (at ideang) ipahayag sa pinakamaikling maaaring paraan. ukay-ukay and a gay pageant held every year in Mintal on the eve of our Lady of the Immaculate Conception’s Day.” says Hidalgo. says one reviewer.” This reviewer chose three of which two were finally chosen: the third one is “Ang Baysanan. here made almost sinister by a total lack of remorse.characters’ “pain is all the more poignant for having been suppressed for so long. of which the reviewer says: “Matingkad ang kulay [ng kuwento] na sapat na nagpapakita ng pumupusyaw nang tradisyon.” It is.

and the other. “Physica Curiosa” (“a laudable exploration of the mysteries of existence and the world of science in a context of lies fabricated by a ruling system”). Garcia’s story takes on the guise. especially the two children”). Also selected by the first reviewer are: “The Old Man” (“a heart-tugging memoir about the author’s father rises to a universal truth about the complexity of father-child relationships”) and “A Dead Man’s Society” (“a character profile of Rizal that brings him back to life and makes him reachable as our neighbor”). “Birhen” (“a highly controlled series of lively encounters between a GRO and a geek where the ‘prostitute with the golden heart’ is given a more contemporary ‘take’ without mawkishness”). and “To My Granddaughter on Christmas Eve” (“the concern over a granddaughter’s future in the grandmother’s letter is candid. of a child’s story but is nonetheless as powerful and interesting a read. it is well-structured and deftly nuanced in its choice of incidents and tones”). five. seventeen essays). eloquent. delos Reyes’s “Troya” (“the principal character and his antagonist are clearly delineated. the mayhem after a natural calamity and the frenetic activities leading to the story’s end are well recreated”). as it were. I have combined their brief comments): “How To Play the Violin” (“an intimate and lyrical statement of the author’s artistic creed. its delineation of character is remarkable. apart from the story’s humor. and the deployment of graphic details impressive. As to nonfiction in English (in all. Joselito D. one reviewer chose eight. and “Ang Baysanan” (“a ‘traditional’ story which shows an extraordinary mastery of Filipino and traditional poetry”). ‘Troya’ uses humor as an integral part of its highly political allegory. National Artist Almario says that these three stories are among “more than ten exemplary entries in Filipino. The final fiction selection comprise Mixkaela Villalon’s “Gitnang Araw” (“its language is powerful. and Carlo Pacolor Garcia’s “Ang Batang Gustong Maging Ipis” (“a story simply but powerfully told. the insights deep.” All three stories are among both story reviewers’ choices. the narrative lines spare and uncluttered”). among these essays—other than those finally selected—both reviewers selected (and so. “Sa Sinapupunang Digmaan” (“a moving story about war and its effects on the characters. In contrast.Ako Katoliko Sarado” (“a complex but likeable persona’s observations show his understanding of the ‘mysterious’ world of religion and seminary life”). and touching”). ‘Gitnang Araw’ is remarkable for its consistent tone which is effectively employed to create a rich series of meanings. and its dominant tone effective in creating a rich meaningfulness”). The second reviewer xii LIKHAAN 6 .

Alunan’s essay is “a long. Its ostensible subject is the author’s trip to Spain to retrace a Spanish poet’s travels there—this by a fictionist who has never written a travel essay nor has ever been to Spain nor speaks her language. a candor both surprising and deeply moving. hence. and attributes it to the need to impose order on an unpredictable world. self-aware. obsessive-compulsive disorder. hard. the gravity of the commitment. believing. friendship and community. and ‘moments of unexpected sweetness’ which read like a prose poem. family.” Hidalgo notes “the dry. its ultimate solitariness—with an unflinching candor rare in the personal narratives of Filipino women writers. where ‘the last gesture’ is letting go the children now all grown up. the feuilletons are “part memoir and part meditations on a variety of things—dreams.” Groyon’s essay.added “Dao” (the author remembers “the houses his family lived in since his childhood and reflects on his own life experiences and how familial ties are forged and homes built”).” Vicente Garcia Groyon’s “Traversing Fiction and Nonfiction in Travel Writing. he said: “I accepted the task with a degree of cockiness. then one can write anything. “beautifully written.” and the essays of Rowena Tiempo Torrevillas—are also among both essay reviewers’ choices. is an honest.” Tiempo-Torrevillas’s series of feuilletons is a “lighthearted take on obsessive-compulsive disorder which combines smart sophistication with wistfulness.” Jeena Rani Marquez’s “A River of Gold. but feels obliged to filter Spain through a former colonial subject’s eyes.” For Hidalgo. The four nonfiction works selected—Merlie M. seemingly matter-of-fact narrative tone which makes it all the more poignant. disturbing look at motherhood. with my fiction writer’s bias. is “a biography of Cagayan de Oro where historical events are interspersed with personal/family vignettes. Alunan’s “The Last Gesture.” Marquez’s essay. that if one can write a decent story. when asked to explain why he accepted the assignment from the Instituto Cervantes to retrace the Spanish poet Miguel Hernandez’s travels in Spain. the same essay is “a moving piece about growing up in Cagayan de Oro and learning— sometimes at great cost—the many nuances of identity. very well written in a quiet. the incessant demands it imposes. self-deprecating humor” in Groyon’s travel essay. of it. it shows the range of the disorder through illustrations and anecdotes. it deals with the issue of the blurring boundaries between fiction and nonfiction. I have combined their comments.” INTRODUcTION xiii . which won the second prize in the 2011 Palanca. television cooking shows.” Hidalgo also notes that the essay “is a memoir of motherhood—the physical experience. unflinching look at the creative process in nonfiction.” For Hidalgo. humor with serious musing.

” Ronald Baytan’s essay. 2009): 61. Epigraph to Galeano’s The Book of Embraces. our indefatigable managing editor.wikiquote. “Intensities of Signs. cheer and industry of my associate editors. As regards the interviews. 2. of the University of the East. In Coetzee’s novel. especially his epic poem. 4. and the influences on his works by focusing on Bautista’s oeuvres—his poetry in English and Filipino. Antonio] who spearheaded the second wave of Modernismo through the literary magazine.” is an excellent introduction to Cirilo F. pangangahas. our anonymous reviewers in English and Filipino. Grace Bengco. Gass. and pagkamalay—in Mangahas’s writing life where the poet bore “great difficulties and personal sacrifices [in breaking] away from the dominant and popular tradition in native Philippine literatures. Simon & Schuster. tr. Ebalan. Abrahan in their interview-essay explore the three periods—pagbabalik-tanaw. 3. I came fortuitously upon this quote as I sought my source in Camus for his remark on style. The annotated select Bibliography of literary works in English by Camille Dela Rosa and in Filipino by Jayson Petras is indisputable witness to the vigor and riches of our national literature. Pison. and his translation of Amado V. and publication assistant. 1986). Bautista. the craft of poetry. Habitations of the Word Essays (New York: Touchstone Book. xiv LIKHAAN 6 . Louie Jon A. Reyes). Mangahas is one of the triumvirate of poets in the ’60s [the other two are Rio Alma and Lamberto E. W. Prof. Endnotes 1. Cedric Belfrage with Mark Schafer (New York: W.None of the critical essays (eight in English. Evangelista. Summertime (Penguin Books. Sanchez and Giancarlo Lauro C. Ruth Jordana L. I cannot end this introduction to “the best among the best” literary works without grateful acknowledgement of the generosity of spirit. 1992). the interview which follows reveals Bautista’s views on language. and Arvin Abejo Mangohig) and the Institute of Creative Writing (Eva Garcia-Cadiz. Leo Abaya for the Likhaan 6 cover. and the diligent staffs at the UP Press (Zenaida N. The Trilogy of Saint Lazarus. http://en. Dawn. Gloria C. National Artist Virgilio S. William H. his fiction in English and Filipino. three in Filipino) and six nonfiction pieces in Filipino passed. Dr. Almario and Professor emeritus Cristina Pantoja National Artist Almario notes that Rogelio G. and Pablo C. Norton. Anna Sanchez. Hernandez.



who used to go after drug pushers.” said Ronnie. Oliver was telling him now so he could leave town before they found him. In college. Ronnie had just come back from the seamstress. one of his neighbors paid him a visit. Ronnie had seen Tiago in the same spot and they’d waved at each other. crystal meth users. not after bodies had been found in empty. “I only got them for the pageant. “They’re after you. eyeing him as though he were a stranger. “The Death Squad. petty thieves. his go-to guy for crystal meth. right?” said Oliver. Ronnie soaked up his neighbor’s silence. “To prepare. the Death Squad. “I don’t even push. A day before the shooting.ARMOR John Bengan T he week Ronnie was planning to die. bringing home a newly mended sheath dress he would wear at the pageant. a list of targets. Instead. He would warn Oliver that he didn’t appreciate this kind of joke. Oliver was talking to him about a list they had at the community hall. Tiago. when Oliver showed up. leaned on the refrigerator and lit a cigarette. He thought of his stash in the pillowcase.” Ronnie considered what reactions were possible. They said a man on a motorcycle stopped in front of Tiago who was chatting with regulars outside his karaoke pub. He would back away from the Mylar-covered table where Oliver was nursing his coffee. but lately they’d been taking down street gang members. lose some weight?” “You’re joking. Where was the Death Squad when he regularly handed out shabu to the crew of wiry boys who had hung out at his beauty salon? They were hired guns. was one of those who’d been killed.” Ronnie said. “You bought from Tiago before he was shot. grassy lots around Mintal.” Ronnie had forgotten how nosy the neighbors could be. He hadn’t really known anyone who got killed by these gunmen until that time. Oliver never fit in with Ronnie’s clique: sharp-tongued 3 . Someone had tipped him off about Ronnie’s name being in it.” Oliver said. The man shot him through the lungs four times. You know.

he resembled a field bird with a handsome face. offering makeup. one of Tiago’s former drug runners. “Don’t you have any confidence in me?” Ronnie asked. To pay rent.” After seeing Oliver out of the house. to make pretend. Ronnie had to close down the salon and move to a boarding house in a compound used mainly as an automobile workshop. “Not buying today. hair styling. nimble body and long wingspan. gwapa!” The boy got up. Before the Death Squad entered the picture. he had already made his decision. ringlets of dirt around his neck.” Ronnie told the boy and moved on. “We’re looking so pretty today. and the Q&A. pressing his body closer to Ronnie. The pageant. Like the Miss Universe pageant. taking boxes of expensive hair coloring products on the way out. Haven’t you heard?” “You should be careful then. “Hi. the town’s patron saint. Ronnie resolved to stick to the plan. his assistant had emptied the cash register and split. “Maybe this year is my year. known to many as Miss Gay.bayots who thrived on banter. had left to marry a girl he’d gotten pregnant. swimsuit. As he was leaving his house to offer beauty treatments in the neighborhood. Ronnie’s straight male lover. was a competition among cross-dressing gay men. The betrayal came on the heels of a huge blow. 4 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . a backwoods copy of international beauty contests for women. revealing a set of small yellow teeth. “They took down Bossing Tiago. Ronnie found a young man squatting outside the gate. whom he’d supported through college. With his hard. Miss Gay involved a sequence of elimination rounds: national costume. I still have a few more left. they would have to race him down to that stage. he started going door-to-door. If the Death Squad were truly after him. as if he didn’t have time to assume a pose. evening gown. “Who said I was selling?” said Biboy.” Ronnie said. Occasionally he would choreograph dance numbers for local government employees who needed “intermission numbers” for their parties. There was always something open and raw about Oliver. Biboy was wearing a lime-green basketball jersey and camouflage shorts.” Ronnie knew him as Biboy. The pageant was held every year in Mintal on the eve of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.  Three weeks earlier. even manicures and pedicures.

naturally smooth. One bayot. who clamored nakedly for attention. frail and much younger. to which most of the bayots grudgingly agreed. He was about to fling himself before a truck hauling timber from Lorega when he noticed a banner fluttering at the entrance of the gymnasium.” Ronnie said. Miss Puerto Rico. Ronnie skipped lunch to sign up for the pageant at the community hall. He took a strip of paper from the glass. The organizers. he had entered every contest in Davao and in towns as far as Lanao. spotlights beamed on him. its carefully painted words heralding a coronation. his drowsy eyes framed by a small hard-boned face. a nation still winless in the Miss Universe contest. “What you have there?” a bayot asked him. The whole town would watch him compete again.  After serving his clients. Since he’d come in late. “You’ll have to see for yourself. Flaunting a callcenter-accented English. that they bow down to The Queen.One afternoon. from tarpaulin-bordered basketball courts at small-town fiestas to huge convention halls in cities. He was slimmer then. He had fished out Great Britain. Together with friends. resolved the matter by making contestants draw lots.” “Chos! ” sneered another one. “When was the last time you joined? The 1960s?” John Bengan 5 . see him in a long gown. The deadline for registration had produced chaos: people argued over who would get to be Miss Venezuela. who didn’t anticipate the complication. hundreds of his neighbors—who’d already written him off as a cautionary tale—would see him at his glamorous best. Ronnie had joined pageants in college. powerhouses in international pageants. and Miss Colombia. Ronnie knew that he still had one thing left to do before killing himself. Ronnie was thinking. the sunlight knifing his eyes. the most mestiza of the bunch grumbled when he didn’t pick Miss USA. Ronnie decided he’d had enough. with unusually pale skin that was almost gray. literally sang with joy when he plucked out Miss Philippines from the glass filled with nations’ names. He had long. He walked to the highway. as he woke up to the sound of melting steel. It was a thrill some bayots chased. ironed hair touching his bare shoulders. read what he got. “Secret. Ronnie found himself at the end of the queue. and quickly thumbed it into his shorts pocket. on that stage. Maybe it’s time. but he could live with it.

gwaps. There it was. Cased in a gold armored sleeve. When they reached the compound.Ronnie was going to say something lighthearted when he noticed the way the youngsters were looking at him. wires. he saw something on TV. and began sketching. You did not simply lose: you didn’t stand a chance. 6 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . after all. after lunching on a cup of rice and one salted fish. looking for icons. he saw Biboy again. the arm looked like it belonged to a knight. Afraid inspiration would wane.” he offered. it was as if he’d been waiting for Ronnie to appear. King Arthur. grasping at the plastic bags in Ronnie’s hands. her body glimmering so brightly. He picked up aluminum sheets. At the tricycle cab terminal. The one with flattened hair asked him. “Let me carry that. “So how does it feel to be a thankyou girl?” The phrase summoned the humiliating image of a contestant packing up his things after losing.”  The following day he still couldn’t figure out his national costume. The most remarkable part of the ensemble was her right arm. but I am already coming back. the boy got off and followed him to the gate. but he couldn’t find anything that inspired. and a can of gold aerosol paint. He took out a pencil and a pad of yellow paper. The way the boy beamed at him.” Biboy hopped in and sat beside Ronnie. He was mindlessly flipping channels—his landlord was thoughtful enough to share cable TV—when a vision seized him: a model marching from the stage wing in a flowing couture dress. he took it as the perfect moment to leave with a final barb: “You are still on your way. Ronnie noticed the boy was wearing the same green basketball jersey and shorts. metal shears. the gown that would send him back to the Miss Gay pageant one last time. The warrior queen stepped out of the tube and crossed into Ronnie’s living room. was British. Neither of you deserve any kind of crown!” When they didn’t respond. “You carry yourselves not with poise but with vulgarity. she looked as though she was swaddled in flames. Ronnie rushed to the hardware store. Ronnie bristled. blinding him with light. Then. “After you. moved closer to the TV set. he scoured old magazines. Desperate for ideas. tiny screws and nuts.

your arm plate is peanuts. Or he could stitch the arm plates with wire. Compared to that. make an inner sleeve that would look like chain mail. gwaps. “Really. Before I change my mind.” said Biboy. “I got a high mark in industrial arts. propping his feet comfortably on a beanbag.” said Biboy. I’m a very talented singer. following his initial sketches. I only need a place to stay. Please. so Ronnie would know exactly what kind of “singing” he had in mind.” said Ronnie. “What’s this? Excalibur!” Biboy chuckled. “Pick up your groceries.” “The bayot with the golden arm! Tripping!” “Maybe you want to sleep at the market tonight. gwaps?” Ronnie was about to shut the gate when it occurred to him. Shoo. “Small.” Ronnie spread the materials he’d bought out on the floor. blocking his way.” Ronnie said. If you want we can arrange something. “Maybe I can clean your house. gwaps?” “Just the arm.” said Biboy.” John Bengan 7 . “As long as you’re happy. For my project. I can help you with that. After peeping into the only bedroom. gwaps. He considered making three detachable parts to form the whole sleeve.” “What? This? You have a fever. boss. but cozy …” he said. or something rubbery. I’m happy. That’s my national costume for the Miss Gay pageant. “Suit of armor. He found the sketches Ronnie had made for the armored sleeve. He could really use some help after all. I made an iron garden set.” Then he smirked. “Sige na.” He brushed the boy aside and opened the smaller entrance.” “Uh.” Taking the bags from Ronnie’s hands. He was so tall that the top of his head almost cleared the iron spikes on the hollow block wall. yes. “Promise you I’ll be good. “I’ll wear it with a long gown covered in sequins. Perhaps he would get some mesh cloth. “Don’t tell anyone. “Quick. I have a lot to finish. the boy followed him to the house. before my landlord sees you.“I don’t have time.” The boy skipped in front of him.” Biboy tossed the sketches. Biboy reclined on the rattan sofa and shook off his flip-flops. “That’s what you’re here for. “You know.” the boy prodded. The grooves of his ribs showed through the jersey’s large armholes.

On the table Ronnie found a fist-size chunk of bread smeared with margarine. “There’s chicken siopao and orange juice in the fridge. pillows and sheets heaped on the floor. his helmet like a silver birdcage perched on his steel-padded shoulders. he’d begun a breakfast regimen of pan de sal.”  For the first time since he’d moved into the compound. For supper. with 8 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . which allowed him to splurge on wardrobe and accessories for the pageant. Holding a sturdy nylon umbrella. The café had opened behind the gymnasium where the pageant would be staged. Biboy had asked him to download pictures of medieval armors that they could copy. and blue swimsuit patterned after the Union Jack. in her younger years. There was one competition left. An attendant. He would not have lunch until the afternoon when he would buy Coke and a pack of crackers from the grocery chain across the street. pointed Ronnie to a vacant PC near the bathroom. He studied a photo of a knight in a suit of armor. Ronnie ducked out of the gate and walked over to Mintal’s newest Internet café. two Fortune cigarettes.” said Ronnie. which he had yet to secure.“Okay. On that hot windless day the paved roads seemed to wriggle under the heat. This saved him some money. The café was full of high school boys playing online war games. he would have a glass of water and a last cigarette. But that alone had eight components. Ronnie got out of bed early. he was relieved that he only needed the arm. white. The warrior’s torso was encased in plates of polished metal. Hunger sharpened his focus. and black. The dusty shafts of light cutting through the windows made it seem like he was in a different world. along with a one-piece red. The intricacy alarmed him. In a vacant lot not far from the church. sugarless coffee. After conceiving his costume. Mister Industrial Design. had worked as a choreographer in Brunei. He swallowed it. The living room was empty. The dress for the Q&A segment was ready. a shabby carnival had shown up. who was playing along with them. The boy had already left to shoot hoops. The streets of Mintal were fringed with brightly colored trimmings. He’d borrowed it from a woman friend who. He needed to build an armored sleeve and pair it with an evening gown. erecting a neon-lit Ferris wheel that loomed taller than any structure in town.

its bodice wrapped delicately in sequins and tulle. he dropped by his trusted seamstress a few blocks from the compound. Inside. the dress would look stunning on him. “Twelve pesos per bunch. Elated. “From US and Japan. After surfing the Web. He draped it around his neck like a scarf. but decided to try another tent. with only a few small tears. pulled another curtain from the heap. he didn’t even haggle. The gown was displayed between a life-size orca stuffed toy and velvet halter dresses that only the most unimaginative amateurs would be drawn to. He was hefty and sunburned in a perforated shirt and denim pants cut off at the knees. elbow. triumphant. he entertained the possibility of sewing a gown out of these curtains. forearm. detailed with swirling translucent beads. with his other hand. “How much for these curtains?” He lifted a beige sheet printed with what looked like cascading spirals of purple dahlias. After nearly an hour. First-class. he decided—flattered his skin tone. he found a teenage girl munching on corn chips. The vendor squinted up at Ronnie. He made a mental note to build three attachable parts. He was close to tears. Before going home. In a desperate moment. The silhouette was similar to what he’d seen on TV. or rubber—which he would then spray-paint in gold. covering the shoulder. the shopgirl took the dress down and showed it to Ronnie. and the color—saffron. Ronnie found himself sorting through a bin full of old drapes.  John Bengan 9 .” he barked. New items had arrived at the ukay stands just in time for the crowd to go shopping during the weeklong festivity. He could fix the aluminum plates over a thick material—fake leather maybe. mildewed lavender drape that probably had been hung in a hospital. clearly made by hand. He was sitting on a plastic chair made for little children. Finally his luck turned.sinister-sounding labels like Spaulder and Pauldron. Paired with an armored sleeve. He surveyed the line of tents but couldn’t find anything that pleased him. He stepped out of the tent.” Ronnie wrapped the cloth around his torso and. and hand. Using a long stick with a hooked end. Dangling from the ceiling was a heavily beaded serpentina dress. the fabric in good condition. He offered Ronnie a crinkly. he moved on to the stalls of used clothing at the public market.

10 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . All these assassins.” Biboy picked up a set of pliers from the floor.He tottered through the gate. He wondered if the gate was locked.” Ronnie walked over to the kitchen and took a jug of ice-cold water from the fridge. they said. He was about to doze off when the sound of an engine made him jump.” said Ronnie. “See. He flew out of his room and peered through the glass window slats. He drank it all in one swig. shut himself up in his room.” The boy had cut and bent the aluminum precisely into an oval shape that resembled a gold plate on a knight’s shoulder. “It’s only a half inch. Ronnie noticed a man across the road. “I drank a lot of water today. Told you it was easy.” he told the seamstress. Bougainvillea grew in tangled profusion beyond the dismantled corpses of trucks and cars in the yard. “I copied your printouts and made one for the shoulder.” Ronnie said. “That noise. The seamstress offered to give it another go but he refused. He wished someone from the landlord’s house would come out and check. observing him. “The hammer would’ve dented it bad. rode motorcycles. you did. But when Ronnie tried the dress on. He’d come to her shop hoping for a price cut since she’d been a loyal customer at his salon. the side zipper wouldn’t close. The flaws had been mended.  He went back for his gown the next afternoon. The seamstress agreed on condition that Ronnie would offer hairstyling and makeup at her granddaughter’s début. left the printouts in the sala.” “Yes. the bodice squeezed his ribs. The bald man was smoking inside an open-air canteen. Witnesses had sworn that Tiago’s hit man rode a motorcycle. for half his standard fee. the size altered. stepping out of the bathroom. The engine roared. Just this. The seamstress charged two hundred pesos. “I didn’t use a hammer. “What are you looking at?” Biboy said. gwaps. “Show me how you did it.” As he was leaving the dress shop. but Ronnie pleaded with her. Neighbors had been talking about how the vigilantes were closing in on Mintal after a rash of muggings and rapes in the village.” Biboy was holding out a scrap of aluminum.

He wore jeans and a military jacket, and he had one of those unfortunate underbites that sealed the face into a permanent scowl. Ronnie carried his gown across the highway. From the corner of his eye, he saw the bald man leaving the canteen. Ronnie hurried into the crowded street fair, making his way through the snarl of carnival goers around the booths. Surely they wouldn’t take him down here, not with all these people around. His breath quickened. He’d heard about targets shot openly in daytime, on streets filled with motorists and bystanders, at house parties before stupefied guests. He would be dead by the end of the week, but only on his own terms. He pulled away from the crowd, the dress still in his hands. It was dark when he reached home. The boy was slurping instant noodles at his dinner table. “Gwaps, I finished it,” Biboy said. Indeed there it was, a copy of the object he’d seen on television, fully realized. They had been working on the sleeve for the better part of the day. Ronnie had cut and shaped the aluminum, while the boy assembled the pieces. Biboy had done an excellent job of painting the whole thing in gold. Gently, Ronnie scooped the delicate thing from the couch. Made from spray-painted aluminum and rubber pads, the armored sleeve was better than he’d imagined, three cylindrical parts perfectly fastened as a whole piece.

On pageant day, Ronnie woke up to the sensation of little knives piercing his stomach. The walls were shifting. Two cups of coffee later, the pain didn’t go away, and his body was wracked with chills. He shook what was left of his stash out of the pillowcase. He held the resealable packet closer as if to smell it, then spilled the content into his palm. The tooth-shaped shard of crystal was slightly smaller than the nail on his pinkie. Before lighting up, he installed a mosquito net in the living room. He preferred to trap the smoke inside the net, ever so careful not to waste a wisp of the stuff. Squatting under the net, he turned the TV volume up to drown out the mechanics outside welding steel. He tuned in to CNN, anticipating a current events entry during the pageant’s Q&A portion; a paraphrased quote or two from a global headline would suffice. He poured what was left of his stash on a neatly folded sheet of tinfoil, held the foil gingerly over the flame, and with a tin pipe, began sucking the lush white vapor of melting crystal. Smoke billowed to the edge of the foil. Within seconds, he was vibrantly

John Bengan


awake. He was again the most attractive, vivacious, irresistible creature he knew. At 4:30 p.m., he prepared for battle. He strapped the first layer of tape over his stomach, rolling it tight around his waist, folds of excess flesh inching up his torso. He donned two feminine panties, deftly inserting pads over his behind. Carefully, he cupped his soft penis and testicles, folding deep to reach the hollow between his buttocks. To keep it flat, he wrapped tape around his crotch, then he threw on one last pair of underwear, a silky charcoal black swatch of nylon. He would try to fit into the Union Jack one-piece later for the swimsuit competition. Ronnie then slipped on ten pairs of pantyhose; the thicker the layers, the more the illusion of curved, shapely legs was achieved. For breasts, he placed beneath a strapless bra two latex condoms filled with water, which he’d tied in such a way that the rubber bloated into small globes. The tips of the condoms produced a somewhat realistic effect of nipples. On his face, he used a palette he’d always relied on. Violet pigment on the lower lids, copper line over the lashes, indigo eye shadow, slick scarlet mouth. He applied false lashes using the milky paste from a star apple leaf, for a lasting hold. The rest of his body he coated with liquid foundation. Under the glare of lights, the tone shimmered on flesh like porcelain. He topped it all off with a wig, chestnut brown styled into petals, a gift from a friend who had been to Dubai.

When he and Biboy arrived backstage, a few assistants were still strapping tape on their half-naked candidates, clipping extensions and spraying products on hard tiers of hair. The narrow space smelled of armpits; the floor was littered with tissue paper and torn fabric. There they were: bayots jiggling their hands to make manly veins disappear, while others, once their makeup was on, became stoic. There were long-limbed girly boys with taut dancers’ bodies toned after working in pubs in Japan as “entertainers” or male Japayukis, bayots with large breasts, bayots whose skin glowed from taking a cocktail of hormone pills. A few of them gazed at Ronnie coldly like they were in a trance. He wobbled as the boy helped him into his dress. The gown was still snug; he sucked in his stomach until Biboy could zip him up. Stale, rancid air


Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento

blew out of his throat. He’d had two boiled bananas and coffee for breakfast and nothing since, but he steeled himself. The boy took out the armored sleeve from a carton tied up in twine. The bayots stared. “Don’t mind them, gwaps,” Biboy said. “Next to you, they look like clowns.” Ronnie slid his right arm carefully into the sleeve, Biboy securing the last strap over his shoulder. After the metal clamped onto his skin, the length of his arm sheathed, Ronnie felt large and supremely complete. Lifting the sleeve close to his face, he felt like he could leap over the gymnasium and land on his feet. With a soft, victorious smile, he strutted regally in full view of the competition. “What a costume!” said one candidate, whom Ronnie immediately recognized as the flat-haired bayot who ridiculed him at the community hall. He was in a catsuit speckled with tiny mirrors. “Did you make that yourself?” he asked Ronnie. “How much did you pay for it?” “Is that real, ’Te?” another contestant asked. “Ava-ava-avant garde!” Their fascinated exclamations floated up and enveloped him. Ronnie was practicing his angles before a full-sized mirror when a contestant, looking petrified in a bright lavender kimono, startled him. The bayot stood unsteadily on six-inch clogs, his round face a shock of white makeup. He had on a wig of jet-black hair parted in three slick buns, adorned with a cluster of pink orchids. A sash was pinned on one of the kimono’s giant sleeves, signifying the nation he represented: Japan, lettered in blue glitter. Oliver shrank, bracing as though for a slap. It struck Ronnie with equal amusement and anger, a gossip mongering bayot trying to scare him out of competition. “So this is why you wanted me out of Mintal.” “Don’t flatter yourself,” said Oliver. Liquid talc had begun to dissolve around Oliver’s puffy jaw. His thin sideburns were perspiring. A few contestants, who’d been eavesdropping, descended on the neighbors. “Round One—Fight!” one of them cheered. Ronnie gamely aimed his golden forearm at Oliver’s face, but somebody tugged at his elbow. “Gwaps, calm down,” Biboy said. The boy’s presence calmed him. Biboy was still there, the one who’d been with him from the start. He thought about where the boy would go after all

John Bengan


this was done. Ronnie slipped his bare arm around the boy’s back and they turned away. Contestants were forming a queue behind the stage wings. Before leaving him backstage, the boy told Ronnie he would wait for him outside. To wild cheers and a thumping techno beat, the night’s twenty-six candidates breezed onto the ramp, and forming a half circle across the stage, performed an impromptu line dance. A makeshift runway, dotted with lightbulbs on the rim, stretched toward the huge hall. Bamboo arches from which hung loops of colorful metallic paper jutted out from both ends of the platform. Four big spotlights radiated from the ceiling. Beyond the stage was a hot, impatient swarm of people. One by one the candidates took turns at the center microphone. “Welcome ladies and gentlemen, this is a tale as old as time! I am Beauty— and the Beast will follow. My name is Desiree Verdadero, seventeen years of age, and I come from the beautiful island of ice and fire, Reykjavik, Iceland!” “Season’s greetings! The family that prays together stays together, but the family that eats together is probably a pride of lions. This dusky beauty standing in front of you is Armi Barbara Crespo, and I represent the smile of Africa, Namibia!” “Buenas noches, amigos del universo! All things bright and beautiful. All creatures great and small. All things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all. This is Guadalupe Sanchez viuda de Aurelio, nineteen years old, and I come from Caracas, Venezuela!” Then it was Ronnie’s turn. He drifted across the platform, the saffron gown rustling on his manicured feet. His eyes swept past the faces of judges. In one corner of the hall, he could see little children outside perched on the branches of a tree, peering through the open vents like hairless monkeys. His face lit up when he spotted, near the edge of the second row, Biboy raising both thumbs up. Ronnie posed before the microphone, and lifting his golden arm, addressed the audience. “A pleasant evening to all of you! The Little Prince said, ‘What is essential is invisible to the naked eye.’ My name is Maria Rosario Silayan, from the land of King Arthur and Lady Diana—Great Britain!” The crowd roared. Sweeping the hem of his gown, Ronnie waved his golden arm at them. This was what he had come here for, the chance to tower in heels, look down with unbending grace at a crowd filled with awe, to glide as though life were just as easy. After striking a last pose, he walked back to where the other candidates stood.


Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento

While the stadium listened to the next contestant, Ronnie discerned a figure rising from the middle rows, the thick body of a man getting up from his seat. It was the bald man, the very man who’d been watching him the other day, a pale vibrating shape trying to reach the front rows, elbowing people on his way. Could he possibly expose himself to these witnesses? Ronnie squinted, but there was no mistaking that underbite, the smooth hairless skull. Suddenly he was nervous. This death, it turned out, would have an audience. But the bald man, instead of taking aim at the stage, stopped behind where Biboy was sitting. He clutched the boy’s arm, forcing him to stand, as if Biboy were a child he’d been searching for all night. On stage Ronnie tried to move. He tugged and heard a rip—the armored sleeve had snagged on the hip of his dress. He fumbled to get the thing off but his large fingers couldn’t seem to close. He looked up and saw the boy’s long narrow body being pulled toward the end of the hall. Clasping the aluminum, he peeled the armored sleeve from his arm and flung it angrily, a gold husk arcing out of the stage, smashing into parts on the concrete, missing Ronnie’s target. The audience gasped. He could still catch them, he thought, as he hitched the dress around his hips, kicked off his high heels, and leaped from the stage. He landed hard on his knees and palms. But Ronnie got up, unfettered by his garments, his limbs springing back to life. Refusing to believe that the boy was gone, he thrust himself into the aisle. His body shimmering, he cleared the rows of bewildered observers, ran beyond the exit, and stumbled into a sudden, cool night.

John Bengan


The Old Man and His False Teeth
Hammed Bolotaolo

hen the old man woke up one rainy day, it wasn’t because his cat was pawing at his face as it usually did to intimate its need to be fed. A dream about a woman handing him a set of broken false teeth made him bolt upright in bed with a painful erection and a sudden twitch of his head like he was on a puppet string. He knew he had wept in his dream with that shameful sob of despair children have, and was convinced that the woman in the dream was someone he knew, but couldn’t remember her face or pinpoint where and when they had met. For a moment his eyes oscillated between his dream and consciousness. His feet sought his slippers on the floor as his cold hands groped for his glasses. Although his vision was shrouded in white, almost as if he were tired of finding the things he sought, he glimpsed a glint that looked like an ember fighting its fated death. He put the glasses on and peered at the false teeth with a golden tooth beaming at him. His eyes then turned to a faded photo of a woman in a frame made of pearls, illuminated by a fluorescent lamp. He found his cat curled up next to his pillow stuffed with pigeon feathers on which he laid his feet to help him sleep. He looked up and saw the same constellations of cobwebs swinging from the ceiling. A wave of relief washed through him. Nothing had changed after all. He was still alone. At the center of the room was a credenza inlaid with cobalt flowers and helices outlined in gold, its feet resembling a lion’s and its drawer handle a cock’s plumage. It was the sole piece of furniture of value in the old man’s shack. Every day he would shine it to perfection, as he would polish his false teeth to make them whiter. It contained his umbrella and his wife’s clothes and shawls. On top of it stood the frame with his wife’s photo, a statue of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios, and a half-filled glass of solution with the false teeth in it. The bed was set in front so that the credenza was the headboard. Next to the bed, a box fan whirred in the perfumed air. The sampaguita garland draped on the santo and the roses in old shoes and tin can containers had



lingered. but its legs curled up suddenly announcing its death. he caught a familiar song he could not identify. as they might have cost her more than what was needed. even in decay. It took the old man some time to notice that he had forgotten to turn off the radio before he went to sleep. unlike the sentimentality of knitting. for it had gained his respect. Hammed Bolotaolo 17 . he held them to his face. the terrazzo sink that the old man had given his wife many years ago was still gleaming. for their wedding rings that he pawned when despair paid her a visit. and before he placed them on an embroidered towel bearing his name. from a place where the Black Nazarene was worshipped by thousands of devotees. When he stopped. He rose and took the false teeth from the glass. the old man felt something clutch at his heart. the spider to his delight moved and made a break for the wall. The old man failed to repossess the rings. and a miserable ottoman for the cat. she said. Alas. its jelly eyes shining with recognition. as one would do a hand puppet: Why do you always bleach me? … Because you are special … But you never use me to eat … Because you are precious. as if its mechanical nature. something about forgetting to remember. and the rain. reflected her true feelings. The old man tried to flush the spider down the drain. for they had already been auctioned off by the time he got the money to claim them. however. In front of the bed was a round table with two wooden chairs as ancient and worn out as the old man. although he couldn’t remember what occasion it was. they were not a perfect fit: they were bought from a store that sold second-hand dentures. the old man asked her why she chose the false teeth with a golden tooth. Behind the credenza was a dusty sewing machine with a hydrant-shaped body adorned with pink paintwork.turned brown. wistful and harsh. Noticing that they were quite unusual. He remembered the day his wife gave him the false teeth a few years before she died. They were a surprise gift. As the sharp smell of bleach mingled with the fragrance of the dead flowers. He also never quite understood why she didn’t just buy new rings instead of the false teeth. and the stale smell of his cat. As he poured the denture solution down the sink. trying to climb up to its web but failing to do so. Although it had suffered cracks and accumulated mold over the years. As he listened to the rain tapping on the tin roof. The old man let the spider live. pouring water on it. They were a substitute. This reminded the old man of one scorching day when his wife declared she wanted to sew with a machine. a black spider with eight legs crawled out. but their sweetness.

He saw a sailor-boy rowing a banca made from a large block of styrofoam held together with packaging tape. and debris from the outskirts of the public market. to reach for the clouds where light was more generous. He set the glass back on the credenza. except for families who had found a way to live with water. and gazing at a canine tooth in the lower denture. it seemed. it was barely discernible. all circling in silence before making their way to the nearby bay. the golden tooth. The flood had become too deep for anybody to walk through it or play in. and no fish dared swim in it. there were boys flying kites made of silk that looked like giant moths blotting the chiaroscuro from the sky.Looking through the window pane drenched with silver drops and waiting for sunrise. He filled the glass until it was half-full with water and mixed in it three tablespoons of bleach. Except for the sailor-boy calling for passengers. despite the drizzle. struggling on top of one another and making the alleys narrower. forcing them to settle with the illegal city-dwellers. He smelled the solution as he was stirring it. the slivers of tamarind-shaped rat droppings were strewn across the linoleum floor. he wondered whether his wife was happy where she was. Amid the flood were floating dogs. The whole neighborhood had been inundated for months by the chocolate water from the Manila Bay which drove the rats up from the sewers. He then placed the false teeth back in the glass with the new solution and remembered his wife telling him to be careful all the time. its luminous flickering undiminished by the solution. He imagined the lack of sunshine for a long time might have frozen the pipes. After a while the old man gargled with lukewarm water and rock salt. there was silence. were covered with open mussel shells so that they appeared opalescent from his window. The shacks. brushing his face with the salty fragrance of the sea. The old man turned the faucet on and gently held the false teeth under the cold running water which pricked him like needles. He looked out at the drifting clouds and the blue light of dawn and thought the rain that had turned into a steady drizzle would soon stop. intermittent and blunt like the rain. In his house made of old plywood and corrugated iron sheets. On the neighbor’s roof. the old man realized that it was the longest rain since he and his wife had sailed into oblivion. but there was no stink. stinging his eyes so that they turned watery and burning his nose. He opened the window and shuddered from the cold as the raw wind rushed in. so that the old man could hear his own thoughts. refuse. or if there was. The first floors of the shanties were emptied. People had built more shacks higher up. 18 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . I don’t want you dirtying them. We can’t afford to buy another.

I’ll take the train again after a long time. and deaths. he opened the credenza’s drawer and took out his umbrella and hung it behind the chair on which he sat down to eat. Man flies off building and breaks his wings. lots of deaths. its face rubbing against his ankles. I’m sorry I did the same thing to you. The old man looked at her. two cups. Woman gets burned and becomes a blossoming tree. the old man said. He made himself a cup of coffee and took yesterday’s paper from the door. I can play ermitanyo or any of his monsters inside that horror house to amuse children. but he had nothing more to give so he fondled its head. You look like an ailing ermitanyo. After finishing his food. Don’t forget to shave. You know how difficult it was for me to get a job. for he was certain that it would upset her if he didn’t pay her any attention. the old man opened a can of sardines and reheated yesterday’s rice. its whiskers twitching and its blank coral eyes staring at him. Roused by the smell of food they always shared. he noticed his reflection in the kettle and didn’t like what he saw. He knelt down and massaged its tortoiseshell fur. Same stories over and over again. we celebrate it with guitars and cards and alcohol. You must be sick of hearing about them every day. he said after reading the front page to her. He smiled at the photo of his wife. Young boy turns into fish and drowns in the bay. After setting aside his own share. The cat looped its tail around his leg and purred with understanding. Nothing to cheer you up these days. Took me months. You know I had no choice. he emptied out the can onto a finger clam bowl on the floor and placed half of the rice in it. and two spoons on the table which was covered with a white crocheted cloth. he read. he continued. Is death that important? Why. and he’s lucky to have me. as if they matter to the world. it’s coming. He then set two plates. Yes. fastened by a safety pin to his tee shirt. He put Hammed Bolotaolo 19 . You only get scandals. But I told the circus master he has nothing to lose. The cat began to eat the food in the bowl with great composure. the cat hopped onto the ottoman and licked its paws. Ignoring him. the cat approached him and circled around his feet. unknown people. When only the soft slurping of the cat and the song of forgetting filled the room. the old man put a copper kettle on the gas burner. its tail high in the air. flicking through the pages. mostly of ordinary people. Remember the day we took it when we got back from the sea? We were lost fools! With a golden key which he carried close to his heart. The cat strode toward the old man for more food. I almost forgot today is my first day at work. They said I’m too old.Humming the familiar tune from the radio about forgetting. He then began his routine of reading the paper to his wife.

tartar.  Don’t forget to put a towel on your back. Then. They are not as strong as your old teeth. Though battered by the sun all his life. upon closer inspection. Cleaning them was a serious business. as he saw. and that no plaque. and rolling. the old man’s face was gentle. or stain had materialized. They break rather easily. With his thumb and forefinger he held the sides of his upper teeth and jiggled them in his mouth. The old man placed a towel on the bottom of the sink to protect the false teeth should they slip through his fingers. and his face. On their journeys to San 20 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . despite their malady. musing on how events were mere recycling of the past and how men were unable to depart from history. And with the same gentle motion. while the cat leaped over the table and licked the plates. stroking the upper section with a circular and short back-and-forth motion. I won’t bother you anymore. next to the window. he held them to his face: Why do you always clean me? … Because you are special … I don’t like to be bleached … I want you to be bright always … Why? … Because you are precious. he brushed the lower section and then the ridge that connected the golden tooth with the gum. Although the rain had abated to a drizzle. On the wall. Rain and sweat will make you sick. He stood up and took the glass with the false teeth from the credenza. resembled bark waiting to be shed. His eyes. hung a broken mirror which made the old man drift into longing every time he looked into its icy fragments. only longed for laughter. He examined them to ensure that he had brushed them thoroughly. the sun was still hidden behind clouds when the old man looked out of the door and called for the sailor-boy who had been a companion to him since the whole place had been inundated by the rain and become a lake of melancholia.down the paper. for all his younger self flitting through his mind like a mirage shimmering on the horizon. And his wrinkled mouth. The waves of memory stretched in all directions. Although he never used them to eat. he rinsed them under running water and patted them dry. he brushed them with baking soda as lightly as if he were petting his cat. He repeated the slow brushing. gleamed like fish scales illuminating hues upon contact with the sunlight. sweeping. the old man smiled at the broken mirror. it seemed. and when he was satisfied. With the never-ending song of forgetting still playing. and the golden tooth glittered at him. Be very careful. as was his usual habit.

The unfortunate ones never find theirs. The sailor-boy. Take me to the train station. or to Hobbit House where he used to work with the dwarves. the banca passed through to the first street. Before the old man began his story. The old man. while raindrops made little ripples on the water that was once the paved street. the epic of the rajahs. Where are you going? The old man seemed lost and not sure of what to do. When the sailor-boy didn’t respond. Hammed Bolotaolo 21 . The sailorboy stopped rowing. like a child. but the sailor-boy held on to him. and the wind of yearning was barred from entering. but in his young mind the girl he was in love with was only meant to be looked at. Take me to the closest station. or to a half-buried Church whose choir loft windows were now the main entrance. The old man’s bronze face was wreathed in smiles as he said. like the legend of the sea. the same color as his eyes. The sailor-boy was pleased with the old man’s words. the old man would tell the sailor-boy stories. putting on his glasses. Besides she was not like him: she lived in a big house where walls were high. foolish and impassioned. Does it mean you will not tell me stories anymore? On the contrary. the sailor-boy confessed that he had fallen in love. But mostly he told stories about dead people. and I thought I want to be so again today. paddled in the water with his fingers. From the third alley. embroidered with his name. and he quickly paddled along the alley to fetch him. He opened his umbrella and adjusted the towel on his back. He ruffled the young boy’s wet hair. dogs were caged. The banca wobbled upon his step and the old man almost fell. where the perfumed ladies peeked from behind their curtains singing songs of regret. I was once young like you. the old man pointed his finger to the eastern sky. the sailor-boy noticed. notwithstanding the little drops on his head and the occasional splashing of water from the flooded street. little devil. You’re a lucky boy because your heart has found the beloved. The old man took his glasses off and wiped them with a handkerchief. The sailor-boy saw a flicker of light from the old man’s shack and recognized that it was coming from the old man’s golden tooth. he said. and other tales of the city. the old man said. I’m going to work. His face broke into a broad smile. beguiled by the fragrance of the perfumed ladies. rowed with a gigantic wooden spoon that he had carved from a fallen weeping fig. where the old man lived. did I not tell you? said the old man. extending his umbrella to the sailor-boy to help him get in the watercraft.Andres Market.

she was forbidden to leave the house alone. When her father had found out about their romance. Struck with an unbearable sadness in her heart. adjusting his false teeth. and all that has gone away will come back. a name written in the books. The wind of nostalgia brushed the old man’s face. A man of land. at the far end of the world. Our Lady of Remedies. And so. and a soggy mass of pigeon feathers tickled his nose so much that he began to sneeze. he said. He had taken a long journey from the sea. so you will have a good dream. the old man said. He marveled at how gentle she was. She came from a family with a name. he at once decided she should leave for the mountains before the school year ended. nor to talk to her friends. something that I have never told anyone before. Every Sunday he visited the Church to see her. She was wearing an ivory dress of raw silk as fine and light as spider webs. of timber. with a haunting voice that lulled the heart to dream. nor to go to the movie house. although he knew from the fluttering of her lashes that she was aware of his presence. when he. captured her heart. For the few months she had left to stay in the city. And no sooner had the wind brought him from the sea by fate. where the sun and the horizon met to mourn. he said. His teeth began to chatter. closing his eyes as he listened to the songs in the wind.  It began one Sunday morning when he caught a glimpse of her in the Church which looked out on the sunset. She was not allowed to sing in the Church. Sleep with your feet on the pillow. for that was the effect she had on him. her tears drying into translucent silk- 22 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . She was not looking at him.No fence is too high for a fearless man. If you have patience everything that your heart desires will come true. she cried herself to sleep every night. thinking she could glide in the air just by sighing. And her face shone like a revelation which left him breathless. Never a man of the sea. of gold. my son. the old man narrated how he had taken his beloved from the evil house and brought her with him as he sailed back to the sea. my son. She was not to see him ever again. I shall tell you a story. amid his sneezing. Trust me. for all his failings. where she would finish her studies and marry a man from a good family. singing hymns to Remedios.

Fresh from a long dream that revealed the next day would be the day of the deluge. Despite the drizzle men and women were exchanging merchandise and gossip. a swarm of tiny frogs leaped over the waters. he slept without waking for many days with the weight of the stars hanging over him until he dreamed of a great flood. We spent the first days of our existence in a water sac in our mother’s womb. Amid this commotion. Before dawn he cooed to her from the wicked gate and launched the paper plane toward her barred window. They had not gone far before they reached the second street where the water was cleaner. Some women were pulling each other’s hair and bellowing recriminations. their heads bowed in Hammed Bolotaolo 23 . He then folded down the new top corners and folded up the triangle at the bottom. He looked at the chocolate water. To eclipse his grief. then flipped over. I told you that many times. By now the chattering of his teeth had become convulsions and his gums started bleeding.  The old man’s sneezing continued. Water is the most noble of all elements. my son. Sailing is a noble thing to do. He folded the paper lengthwise and finally folded the edges up on both sides to make wings. There were soup vendors with slanted eyes and dark-skinned snake charmers and sellers of golden pocket watches baying at the poor patrons like hungry dogs. I was once a man of the sea. he folded the top two corners of the paper into the center and folded the top half down. and others fashioned from old furniture. They saw more bancas of different kinds and sizes crisscrossing the narrow stretch of water. With feverish impatience the sailor-boy waited for the old man to continue. As soon as his frenzied thoughts had been translated into words. then at the long row of street threads that she later used for sewing by the window and embroidering fabrics with his name. for one is never as entirely free as when one is on the water. soaring like birds and falling like a stones. his sad eyes steady upon the young boy. Some were made of bamboo and rusty steel. he said. and glided over the high fence and barreled along with the wind until it gently reached its goal. his jaws becoming stiff. he tore a page from an old calendar and wrote down a promise of eternal happiness and a means for their escape. The plane flew upside down.

It was what history books would later declare the strongest rain that had ever plagued the city. His daughter watched helplessly from the gate. as she treaded the water that threatened to engulf her. fire began to spread and consume the second floor. The pounding of the rain. but she was scared of her father’s dog. and with his heavy cane. he seized the dog’s head and slammed it on the forbidding wall.despondence. The young man brawled with the dog using his bare hands. The father shrieked with fury when he saw his dog’s broken neck floating in the water. Grabbing the dog’s leash he flew to the staircase and to his horror saw her opening the door. lightning hit the house. As she had feared. overwhelmed its fury. As she dashed down to the main door. suffering bites and losing a tooth when his head hit the door. He hurtled toward her room like a madman. She tiptoed out of her cage into her father’s room and grasped the key from a credenza with lions’ feet. It’s as if it was just yesterday when my fate was driven only by wind and tide. As the water continued to rise. a torrential downpour began. But she wasn’t there. and saw the dog going berserk. The sailor-boy interrupted the old man’s loud musings: What happened to the girl? Did she become your wife?  The old man resumed his tale. Ah. Her father woke up with a start. the sound of the explosion drumming in his ears. The young man climbed up the wall in no time and waited for her at their door. however. after her father had gone to sleep. As in his dream. another thunderbolt struck the house. He screamed her name at the same time her lover’s face appeared. she waited for the man of the sea. like a projectile hurled from a trebuchet. and flames shoved 24 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . He sprinted toward the young man. soaked with chills of both joy and trepidation. the smell of the sea. trembling in the rain that was beating on his face. As the father was about to smite the young man again with his cane. Despite the rain and the flood. there’s nothing like it. pummeled his face. That night. the dog in the house had smelled him and howled like a wolf. knocking out half the young man’s upper teeth. watching the dog barking in mute rage. The plan seemed sound. The house was split open in the middle. so that its master stayed motionless. Her frantic heart pounding like a piston so that she didn’t immediately hear his cooing below her window. He unleashed the dog and snatched from a terracotta jar a pewter cane with a snake head and a brass cleat foot. crying and shivering. grunting like a boar.

He believed every story the old man told him. but they were now on their way to the last street where neon-lit bars twinkled constantly like fireflies in the dark. The old man. he went back to his banca and stood there for a long time amid the flying frogs. tapping the boy’s shoulder. my little devil. and did not know how long the kiss lasted. Go home now. The young man swam away from the burning house. They sailed away to the horizon at the break of dawn. Just as the whole place was swamped a shaft of light appeared. the old man said. the sailor-boy saw clouds whirling like leaves in the heavy eddies of the wind.  Worried that he might be late for work. remembering his wife on her deathbed. Good-bye. for I fear another storm is coming.  The sailor-boy rowed with newfound zeal. With each step. using the umbrella as his walking stick. In the light of the dim street lamps and the unforgiving sky. the credenza. The cement ceiling caved in on the father. and before he was engulfed in flames. The old man had stopped sneezing and with the sailor-boy’s help he alighted from the banca. the old man went up to the station in a hurry. looking at the old man with greater admiration. The sailor-boy watched the small lonely figure walk away. his mouth foamed and his tongue hung out. The sky had become darker when they reached the station that breathed out the smell of dead rats and flowers for the dead. which they used to sail on the sea. Barely staying afloat the young man kept swimming while pulling the only thing that survived the fire. Don’t forget what I told you. Dragging it along with him.their way up to the roof. and the story of the flood was by far his favorite. he came to the girl’s rescue before she could be devoured by the water. He wanted to ask the old man about his teeth. He continued to sail. like submerged lights of forgotten houses of desire. whispered to himself in a song her last words: Don’t forget to remember me. and he cursed to the heavens that she would never carry a child in her womb. Hammed Bolotaolo 25 . promising himself solemnly that he would live to retell the old man’s tales. And then they kissed. Remembering all the stories the old man had told him. Here the water had a luminous quality coming from their reflections.

26 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . He took the magnetic plastic card and inched toward the entrance. before he reached his destination. which had turned to ice pellets. In case of any problem. The rain. The sky opened up filling the city with a subdued glow.” He then peered through his glasses trying to make sense of it: “I only accept one transaction at a time. please approach our courteous Stationmaster for assistance. for he had a strong sense of distrust of machines. lingering on faces and objects of the world he now felt alienated from. he saw himself and his wife sailing into the light. and for an instant. The station depot seemed to loom out of the dark.his body quivered with weariness from the cold. paying no heed to the silent cry of the desperate. please turn the cancel knob counterclockwise. Waiting in line his eyes turned to an empty newsstand that looked like a wire rooster coop: “NewsFlash: All yesterday’s news you read in a flash. He pressed a button. On the stairs he found a woman suckling a child in a sling made of dried leaves. He still had enough money after all. searching for himself among the anonymous faces. each alternating between buds.” His eyes wandered around the station. engulfed the city once more in a deafening cataract. To the old man’s astonishment. Her inflamed breasts were busy feeding two mouths. handing him a bouquet of dry flowers. Should you opt to change your desired destination or terminate your transaction. But the shroud of darkness came back as fast as it had opened up. As he was about to insert the exact amount into the coin slot. He stared at the Ticket Issuing Machine which was blinking with green lights: “Exact Fare and In Service.” When it was his turn. the transit line ran above an avenue built by the colonizers along grade-separated granite viaducts. there was a multitude of silent commuters queuing for tickets. there were more mothers and children with two heads asking for alms and selling flowers. It wouldn’t take long. only to realize that a few steps up. so he turned the cancel knob and selected this time the round-trip option. he delved for coins in his pocket and gave them to her. the old man realized that he needed a round-trip ticket. he thought. Flowers for the dead. sir. he continued to go up like the rest of the people ascending in procession. Without taking the bouquet. Covering a few kilometers of elevated tracks. The loud clack startled him when the machine ejected the ticket. It was as if he were trying to reconnect to people and reaccustom himself to the place. the old man moved hesitantly toward the blinking lights. Thinking he had few coins left. she said. He turned to look at a mass of black clouds gathering on the horizon. the light rail’s terminus.

although he was not certain whether it was his heart or the rain that he was hearing. carrying with it the fragrance of his wife’s garlands and images of her singing in the Church and sewing at home. The wind of nostalgia skimmed across his face.Following the people ahead of him. he saw a glint coming from the rail tracks. Don’t you know it’s dangerous? Feeling lost. drawing a collective gasp from the passengers and causing a momentary blackout. the throbbing cadence grew louder and stronger and all at once a whistle shrieked in panic right in front of him. To his great relief. looking at the people with no names. The blind men and women next to him moved to another lane. At the security station. a white light from the fluorescent lamps washed over him so that for a moment he couldn’t see. knowing he would need it to exit at his destination. He then heard a faint screeching in the distance like the raging in his heart and felt a growing vibration. At the same time lightning hit the transparent roof. The lights came back on and the air became stifling around him. the handicapped. Just when he thought he was having a heart attack. and he let it envelop him. The old man wiped his nose with his handkerchief and felt his heart pounding like the rain on the roof. dark clouds hovered over it like outspread wings. He choked with terror when he realized that his false teeth were missing. and his face scrunched up with anguish. He clutched his heart to stop the painful rush of memories. was a warning: “If you don’t want to fall onto the tracks. His eyes and nose became watery. He then retrieved it on the other side. As the old man entered the main platform. he sneezed like a mighty gale. The platform trembled beneath his feet. the security guard yelled.” The old man went to his designated area. Although the station had a transparent roof to allow the passage of light. however. It had no hands and its surface. stay away from the edge of the platform. and the elderly. but there was only the dazzling light. You are not allowed to go down. As he was waiting for the train. The first three lanes of the platform were condoned off for the use of women. appeared lacquered with copper paint. he heard a familiar song from the loudspeaker. rushing up to the old man. He looked up like he was ready to meet someone he had been longing to see. eroded in concentric circles. As he was about to climb down from the platform. he inserted the ticket into the fare gate which allowed him to pass through the turnstile. located after the first three lanes. the old man uttered Hammed Bolotaolo 27 . Hanging from the ceiling at the center of the train station was a doublesided brass clock with iron plates and wheels and a golden bracket attached to it.

What? My false teeth. he laughed. Like the security guard. While waiting he noticed that there were not as many people as there had been earlier. the stationmaster said. there was no other way to get there but to go down. pointing at them. revealing a man silhouetted against the light in the room. before the next train arrives? You cannot. He dried himself with his towel. like an octopus darting through the water. asked the old man. Using his umbrella to clear floating rubble. The wired window opened a little. The guard advised him to go to the other side of the station where the office of the stationmaster was. The old man took the papers with reluctance. We can’t shut down the operation just to pick up your false teeth. Everything was familiar all over again. The old man looked at him bewildered. not a single banca was to be found when he went down. The guard looked disturbed as he explained to the old man that he couldn’t go down to the tracks. You have to fill out these forms to report your missing false teeth. with a sign on the window: “Tomorrow or today?” The old man looked at the clock with no hands. The stationmaster told him to wait. he found the Station Control room closed. The Station Control room. my … false teeth. leaving the old man to his musings. Just then he saw something flash in the dark. The stationmaster returned and gave the old man some papers. When he reached the other side. To his misfortune. But they are not missing. and that the depot and the platform where he was mirrored the depot and the platform where he had been. they are right there! The old man pointed at the railway tracks on the other side. the old man repeated. The old man went right to it and without seeing the stationmaster’s face explained to him what had happened. the stationmaster told him that they couldn’t stop the train for anyone. not fully understanding 28 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . for he was very wet and his clothes had turned brown. There they brokenly. and looking down at the railway tracks. he decided to swim across. he said. and his silhouette dissolved into the chamber’s shadows. he called it. he cried. And because the station had side platforms with no overpass between them. take a banca. Can I not just go down there myself and get them. wondering what time it was and whether he was late for work. there were certain rules to follow or everyone would be stuck. making sure that he could still see the tiny wink in the dark. and climb up to the other side. and that in this place that sent people to their desired destinations. instructing him to fill out the forms. exposing his swollen gums.

and. he obeyed like a child. After a while he passed the papers through the window slot and noticed the stationmaster’s discomfort. for his glasses. he said. there was no one there either. he thought. he realized. The familiar song was still being played like a lost track of time. but got no response. The stationmaster took the forms and briefly looked at them. for his mind had gone somewhere else. The old man rushed down. He was about to leave to go back to the stationmaster when the figure of a woman emerged and began walking toward him.what the stationmaster meant. swam back to the other side. which had earlier been a symphony of ire. And when he came into the station. The stationmaster stamped the papers with a thump that startled the old man and directed him to go to the other side of the station where the guard who would assist him was waiting. And the pain that accompanied his recognition of her was such that his mouth moved in a spasm. had been broken. He heard the familiar tune again and recognized at last that it was the same song he was listening to in his home. He noticed that there was no trace of the women with two-headed children. The old man couldn’t see her well. But he couldn’t see his false teeth. There was no one he could ask for help. wavering and falling to his knees and staring at the familiar face of the woman handing him a set of Hammed Bolotaolo 29 . his umbrella in his hand. You have to do this again. When he had finished. for the rain had stopped and the frogs had leaped to some other place and the breathing of the water. Too many words and too much information needed for no reason. The old man stared at him in disbelief. It wasn’t difficult this time. No one was waiting for him. He realized to his embarrassment that his mouth was open. Finding neither strength nor will to argue. the sad guitar slowly vanishing in softest lilt. in the same way the mind wandered to a void to forget about disappointments or heartaches. gazing down into the railway tracks. had turned into a gentle sigh. There is a mistake. The figure slowly formed into an image and made herself known. He stood upon the platform. The old man examined the papers and felt a whirling sensation in his head. his legs shaking. using the last bit of his strength. For a moment he didn’t know what to do. All there was was a bright light. With unspeakable joy the old man wept. It took him a long time to fill out the forms. except for the flowers for the dead. he returned the forms. Like a shy boy he covered his mouth with his hand.

And others said he had gone back to the sea to forget about his beloved wife. Many years passed. it was the old man weeping. Some claimed to have seen him drowning in the flood. I started to write so that I wouldn’t forget. I don’t know where he went after I brought him to the station on that day. between oblivion and nowhere. the old man being gone.broken false teeth. Sometimes on cold windy nights when time is forgotten and I remember myself as a young boy listening to his stories. Or maybe because I needed to believe. drifting and smiling and no longer waiting for the aching sunrise. Tales about him abounded in the city. that he was not alone anymore. It was after the great flood that I started to keep a journal and to write down the tales the old man had told me. It was then that it occurred to him. with certainty. despite years of singing to Remedios. I also imagine the old man sailing back to where he had come from. At times it makes me sad. and the many stories about the old man faded away. 30 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . She had devoted her last years to sewing and had later died of sadness. Women believed that every time it rained in Malate.  Nobody knew what happened to the old man after the deluge. who. Children avowed that they saw him lingering on with the cat in his house. had not been blessed with a child.

When she heard her march past her bedroom she could not hold back her relief. he came. When she heard the jangling of keys she could not resist opening her eyes and poking her head out of the blanket. She followed her past the dining room. but she still heard the beat of her mother’s heavy steps and the slap of her slippers against the soles of her feet. slipped out of bed. A 31 . She didn’t dare go down the stairs until her mother had stepped off the bottom step. a good length behind. Her mother came down in one of those dresses she only wore on special occasions. and just as it seemed too late. So Anna promptly aborted the siesta. Her father always had the cleanest plate. his fork and spoon at five o’clock and the glass emptied on its coaster as though it hadn’t been touched. honking his horn from halfway down the street. she had insisted on waiting for her father to arrive from work before they started eating. The night before.Siren Angelo Lacuesta nna heard the door opening down the hall. A trail of ants was already making its way toward its rim and a darkening swarm was already advancing up the kitchen table toward her birthday cake. She put her head back down under the sheet. She didn’t hear anything or mind anything either. and followed her. She gripped the balustrade only as soon as her mother let go of it. Anna followed her to the kitchen. They had that cake for dessert that day. and they were going to have it—maybe along with the spaghetti and meatballs. She had passed that bakeshop on her bike rides ever since they moved in at the beginning of the summer. She shouted for Clara to open the gate. where the rice cooker had been left open. in dark chocolate chiffon and rainbow frosting. the fried chicken and the red potato salad that Clara prepared—into the next two or three days. where what remained of lunch still lay on the table. When her mother got that way there was no stopping her and there was no talking her out of anything. They had ordered it from the neighborhood bakeshop the way she wanted it.

sometimes it was just banana cue. and her father allowed her to try it out. But as Clara set down the coffee tray in front of his father. There was a buzzer sound and three different siren sounds. “South Sea!” she whispered.She also wore her special watch and large pearls on her ears. secretly reserved weeks ago. returned for by his father on one of his lunch breaks. On one of those visits she took out a little pouch of pearls.” she said to the woman. she resigned himself to this fate and strapped the horn on the handlebars of her old bicycle. her father told her that the bike would come around on her very next birthday. Those pearls were sold to her by a neighbor who showed up at their door with a bottle of wine one afternoon. sat on the seat. and wedged into the trunk of the car with the help of store clerks. who turned out to be a jeweler. “It’s an investment. Anna was at the table and Clara was always around to refill their glasses and their coffee cups so it couldn’t really have been a secret. That night. who came to the house almost every week after that with all kinds of treats. camouflaged by the black nylon jacket his father always had over his office chair. There was a wail made of two alternating notes that she often heard in foreign movies. There was only the spaghetti and the fried chicken and the cake and the salad and the horn. she begged him. cushioned by folded newspapers. lazy. just the model she had seen on that very bike in the shop they had visited weeks ago. She had put them on her ears and swept her hair back. She always brought some jewelry to show Anna’s mother. wavy sound that she associated with housefires—she had seen a couple not far 32 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . her father walked in with a small gift-wrapped box. and then. She stuck the two leads on the 9-volt battery. later on. turning it carefully so that the cup and saucer faced him. There was a sad. who turned out to be a distant relative. Anna tore away the wrapper and found the batteryoperated bike horn inside. to her daughter. and tried out all the sounds the horn could make. and trundled home at careful speed. if she kept her grades. She bent down toward her daughter to show them off. Sometimes it was cupcakes. then. Before the visit was over her mother agreed to buy the two largest of them by installment. But a very large part of her still hoped that the bike lay hidden somewhere. and as Anna nursed the lump that had sat in her throat since the beginning of dinner. picked up earlier that day. or sitting in the backseat. like she was telling her mother a big secret. Though it was late. Instead of a bicycle with a ribbon around it.

Her mother entered the room and Anna entered the room behind her. She even followed her as she ignored the meandering stone path to the maids’ quarters and trampled on the freshly laid squares of grass. They were just two small steps apart now. sanitary napkins. tubes of worn-down lipstick. Anna stuck her hand out to keep the back door from slamming and followed her mother out through the unfinished garden in the back. Her other things were neatly organized in the foreground. breaking apart the Angelo Lacuesta 33 . There was a fake bell sound that was her favorite. the blouses and t-shirts Clara wore on her days off. the way her father taught her to play tug-of-war. Her mother tried three or four keys from the bunch before she found the right one. careful not to touch her. There was also the urgent police sound that she also often heard whenever there were car chases on TV. trying to stand as much as possible where her mother couldn’t see her. Framed photos. She bent down and swept out the low closet compartment. with the big Santo Niño in the background and the candles and prayer books and religious figurines huddled around its plaster pedestal. His mother held the closet doors open and moved aside to let the light in from the window. She looked inside and made sure there was nothing left. because it reminded her of their old doorbell back in Quezon City. making loud sounds in the middle of the quiet afternoon. all sorts of stuff tumbling on Clara’s clothes. with colors like pink and baby blue. but never in real life. ceramic figurines.from where they lived—and the late arrival of firetrucks. plastic bottles of deodorant and cologne. until there was a snapping sound as the locks gave and the doors opened like a mouth letting go of a long-held breath. something Anna had been severely forbidden to do. She sifted through the stuff on the floor with her feet. Her mother reached into the closet and Anna heard her nails scratch against the wall as she scooped everything out. Her mother wasn’t quite done yet. She had never realized how small Clara was. smelling of sawdust and fresh paint and baby powder. Anna wondered where Clara was as she watched her mother pull at the handles of the closet doors with both hands hard. They looked like little-girl clothes. She pulled out Clara’s drawers and dumped all their contents on the floor: hairclips. It reminded Anna of the altar her grandmother kept back in the province. once. Inside the closet Clara’s clothes were neatly stacked in a small pile against the back wall. painted white and pale blue to make it look the Santo Niño was standing on a cloud. coaxing out a tumbled mess of slippers and shoes. twice. the twisting doorknob and the opening door.

They seemed to be playing a game. Anna wondered what kind of music was on those CDs and who would write Clara so many letters. frustrated breath. dragged it to the floor. Everything lay front and center as though Clara had known all along where she had hidden them. and Anna knew she was wondering how Clara had gotten hold of it.clumped clothes and the piles of letters with the thick tip of her slipper. There was something about the way they looked at Clara whenever her mother sent her out to the store on an errand. stinking up the air with the smell of frying and the smell of barbecue. behind old stuffed toys. and brushed past Anna out the door. keeping them awake with their music and off-key singing until way past midnight. planting her knees on the cushion of blouses and t-shirts. They walked up the hall back to Anna’s room. She fished out a tangle of beads and baubles from the can and clawed the trinkets apart with her hands. The lid popped off and when she saw what it contained she knelt on the floor. Anna followed her from right at the tip of her shadow. back into the unfinished yard. their white plastic tables and chairs spilling out of their tiny garage into the street. It didn’t seem so then. She blew an exhausted. or why anyone would. flicking each item away as she inspected them. She had upturned the beds and unloaded her closets. Anna felt his heart leap as she thought of the things she had hidden there. The women were always cooking and the men were always drinking. Her diaries. Her mother caught sight of an old candy canister. all the way from when they were living in that small apartment in Quezon City. Her mother knocked it aside and when it didn’t open she kicked it against the wall. the secret stash of books she had filched from the library. She pulled the sheet off the bed and gave it a good snap. They quieted down and nudged and whispered to each other and looked at her openly when she returned. under stacks of old textbooks. her slippers turning up clods of grassy earth. the air catching the dust. looked briefly at Anna. then four steps below her as she climbed the stairs. Clara was there. inspected the wooden bedframe. 34 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . When her mother entered the kitchen again and the shadow disappeared she counted five floor tiles behind her. but now she remembered their neighbors as noisy and troublesome. She grasped the mattress. cranking up their karaoke music so early in the day. the photos of boys she had clipped from magazines and printed out from websites. almost making a game of it. then returned her attention to the room.

They made sure it ended with something that was supposed to make you want to tune in the next day.” his father answered.” Anna looked at Clara desperately going through her things and she wondered how her mother’s earrings could possibly have found themselves in the deep recesses of her father’s drawers. until the day they moved house and she couldn’t pick up the radio show from the laundry area even if she strained her ears.” his mother muttered. Clara made her toasted bread with butter and sugar while she did her homework in the dining room that was also the kitchen. Angelo Lacuesta 35 . sent Anna up for her siesta. woozy. and the woman sounded like she was always on the brink of falling apart. I might as well have handed them to her. and she heard her mother tell him how she had just left her pearls out on the dresser for a few minutes while she spoke on the phone.” “Now that’s crazy. “You had me drive back from the office to tell me this?” “So now you’re defending her?” “No. she would creep down and sit on the stairs and listen to Clara’s radio shows while Clara hung up the wash on the clothesline. I thought something serious had happened. Restless. or in the middle of a chase scene with the cops almost closing in on them. “That girl. Today. Anna’s father was there. The police colonel who was after them sounded old and cruel. she saw Clara as if for the first time since she had entered their home. and his henchmen were always cracking jokes and making fun of each other. like right before a big revelation. just as Anna was almost lulled to sleep by the afternoon heat. Anna followed that story as far as she could. As she struggled to keep an emotionless face. At three in the afternoon she turned off the TV in the living room. almost right in front of her. I took them out and put them back in the bag. and that only Clara had access to the dressing area. The man had a deep voice that immediately made you think he was handsome and strong. Always. all of a sudden—as though it were part of the game. “She was in the room when I took them out. the buzz of tricycles and the jeeps and the karaoke next door would rouse her. Clara’s favorite was a half-hour drama where a man and woman were on the run from the law for a crime they didn’t commit. and went down to do the laundry and listen to the afternoon drama on her radio. despite the fact that it was still afternoon.This was probably the reason why Clara was under strict instructions to keep Anna indoors whenever she was home.

Anna saw him look at the cake from the night before on the kitchen table. and so it was decided. Anna counted her steps as she trudged back to Clara’s room. her feet would not even touch the floor. “They were an investment.” he repeated as he disappeared into the kitchen. “Those were good pearls. She thought of putting them all into one bag but decided to separate them into clothes.In her maid’s frilly uniform she looked like a teenage girl grotesquely put in a child’s dress. She’s hidden them somewhere. no one had entered the house or exited it. Anna found a bunch of garbage bags in the laundry area and entered Clara’s room again. He opened the fridge and crouched in front of it and seemed to consider its contents carefully.” her father said.” she told Anna. She didn’t take her eyes off Clara while she spoke. “Why don’t we take her to the barangay hall. “I’m sure the pearls will still be here.” Modus operandi was something Anna had never heard before. She skipped the path and took pleasure in bringing up clods of grass and earth with her slippers. Clara was so small that when she sat on one of the chairs. 36 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . then.” Anna’s mother said and ordered Clara downstairs. and everything else. Anna picked at the things on the floor. “In fact. letters and magazines. Anna followed Clara down to the sala.” To this her mother merely grunted. Nobody spoke until her mother took her eyes away from Clara and looked at nothing in particular and told her to leave. “Stop what you’re doing. “Idiot. or bored.” “They were good pearls. That’s their modus operandi. the pearls would have been sold already. Clara stood up. of course. feet dropping to the floor. In the sala she put the three black garbage bags by Clara’s dangling feet. as though she was actually being a little playful.” she said. Her father wondered aloud whether they could have just been misplaced. “Pack up her things and bring them here. She picked up the bags and walked out of the house and into the street.” She added that since she had discovered their disappearance just a few short hours ago. By that time. “Have her fill a blotter and maybe take a lie detector test.” her mother said. Dad. like she was also speaking for Anna. The closet doors swung freely now. Her mother snorted in disgust. There was nothing to do anyway until her mother spoke. Clara swung her feet a little bit.

walking quickly on the dark part of the shoulder. every other Sunday. but nobody seemed to notice her. We’re all alone now so we’ll all need to help out. already far ahead on the road. We need to sweep the house and sweep the grounds and look for those pearls. Angelo Lacuesta 37 . She’d be up early on those days to serve them an early breakfast.” Her father entered the room before she could go to the kitchen. She turned around and pushed forward and mounted the bike. Anna pedaled hard again. we all know what she’s going to end up. pumping hard on the pedals as she went down the slope of the driveway. It was quickly getting dark.“Anna. When the bike began to slow down. coasting as far as she could down the road on the momentum. right through the kitchen door screen into the torn-up grass in their backyard into Clara’s room. you go help your father in the kitchen. her garbage bags slung over her shoulder. but from the gate Anna could still see all the way into their living room and through the kitchen. as though she were determined to go wherever she was going. The only time she ever went anywhere was on her day off. It was evening already. “Well.” Her mother went upstairs and her father lifted himself out of the chair and went back into the kitchen. until she was breathless with the effort. In the silence that followed.” her mother said. He had overfilled his glass and water spilled on the floor. Anna looked at her father until he answered: “A whore. filling the street with the police siren’s wail. Before Anna could correct her mistake. There was Clara. It always startled Anna to her in face powder and lipstick. Anna crept out and took the bike by the handlebars. The gate had been left open. wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Clara had broken into a run and disappeared into the busy street. Anna pumped harder and pressed the button on the bicycle horn. her knees and her elbows sticking out. He exhaled loudly as he collapsed into the lounge chair. or sometimes a brightly printed blouse and a short skirt. dressed in her street clothes.

38 . but she would never admit to that. or the fried chicken that had grown soggy during the post-lunch hour lull. that the quota of gasoline orders were met. These days. so it was a common occurrence for him to be gone for days. She would rush into her house and hastily pry open a can of pork and beans or tuna or vienna sausages. each viand knotted in tiny. a steaming cup of rice to heat the already coagulating chop suey. She would do a week’s worth of his laundry every now and then. She bought by the bulk because she needn’t heat them before consumption. the pump boys in their proper uniform. and especially when she thought that their eyes judged her. before she could be bothered to wash them. hang them out to dry.What They Remember Jenette Vizcocho H e had been gone for almost a year. see-through plastic bags. and pegging her as some lonely homebody. Sometimes her kitchen sink boasted of six or seven forks. tried to figure out why she was buying a take-out meal four days in a row. tilting her head back and forking the food directly into her mouth. meals were single-serve. A lone cup she hadn’t rinsed out sat beside the water jug. Other times. She used to cook elaborate dinners. It was different before the accident. sun-dried tomato pasta with olives and capers. or the lunch ladies too slow. roast beef. his thick sweaters. These she prepared as early as a few days before he arrived. lamb chops. making sure the stations were up to par. she would speed past Aling Banang’s and hop onto the first jeepney headed toward home. back from inspecting the many franchises on his docket. some bought off a karinderia after work. making sure the neighbors saw her fussing over his cotton shirts. however. his office slacks. sometimes weeks at a time. each one slick with oil. He always did go on out of town trips. the office sending him to places as far as Davao and Dumaguete to visit the gas stations assigned to him. each having completed their training before handling customers or the equipment. when the lines were too long.

She could find nothing wrong with living in one’s scrubs. In her twelve years at Mount Cloud. furry bedroom slippers and shuffle off to the bathroom for a quick shower. But she still blamed the place for the rapid disintegration that took over anyone who came to stay. handling cases on a one-to-one basis. had a lot of activities going on. up and down the ramps or stairs. She agreed with him.She would be in bed as early as seven-thirty in the evening. feeding. a surgeon. a handsome doctor. helping her charge in and out of bed. she had worked with and lost seven patients. had lots of space. and find herself still awake the second time it aired very early in the morning. attended weddings. wearing clothes that made them look to old. were comfortable. and Scrabble. letter-writing. and were low maintenance. one lasting as long as five years with her. sitting Jenette Vizcocho 39 . she would find herself unable to sleep. and even in activities such as reading to them. she would be awake at five-thirty. one not even making it past six months before succumbing to her illness. or too cheap. shows that tracked down people stuck in a rut. In the last two years. or a sitcom she found quite funny. parties. even though his wife grudgingly admitted she was embarrassed to be seen with him. lots of trees. they could remind themselves to remember. meant what color scrub suit would she wear today? She watched those television shows. It defined her as a person. She didn’t know what it was about the facility. on the bad days. No matter how little sleep she had. would shove her tiny feet into her husband’s large. once even. or playing cards. reasoning out that they fit well. It was a large compound in Cavite. wondered if they had even the slightest idea of the fact that this was the road they were headed down. to the shower. taking medication. or too fat. she had been working with Tatay Fred. who practically lived in his scrubs. She still found the man handsome. even his own son’s graduation in them. she would catch a movie on HBO. She felt sorry for these individuals who came to her in order to die. as a professional. whose eyes didn’t flicker in recognition at the sight of their loved ones. She worked at a nursing home specializing in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. to the toilet. was bright enough. to hold onto that specific memory. mahjong. Fashion these days. or that if they did. a fifty-three year-old retired scuba diving instructor whose son checked him in because he would go missing from their home only to be found in full scuba gear. with dressing. Usually she would read a book or watch some television. watching television. or too young. Sometimes. but no matter how drowsy she became.

Tatay Fred would only become animated whenever his son showed up. the memories would flood her brain involuntarily. he refused any activity. mask. sometimes to no one in particular. the skin suit. don’t panic!  Sometimes at night. Her feelings would pull her back and forth. pinching the nose pocket and saying. images triggered to life by random actions …. she would prop pillows beside her. depending on what little thing she remembered about him. huwag mong kalimutan. fitting the straps above his ears. not really because of his visits but because of the things Marcus brought. fins. or the social hour he was required to attend daily. his entire scuba gear. an electric blue starfish lazily moving about in a small aquarium. Alam mo. I can sell it on eBay. regulator. or how her husband used to slowly. as usual. He would hold onto the railings on either side of his bed and shut his eyes. She would jerk awake thinking she heard the bedroom door close softly. when she was about to fall his boat. or the muffled flushing of the toilet. mauubos yung oxygen. minsan higher. He would start talking. an old album containing pictures of Tatay Fred and his many students and colleagues. Itong golden cowry. he touched each piece of equipment. He would get out of bed and totter over to the large ottoman by the window. On the day his gear was brought. smiling. a rare golden cowry Tatay Fred harvested illegally during one of his deep-sea diving trips. The first few months. struggling a bit as he pulled the mask over his head. Monica. the octopus. Since being committed to Mount Cloud. refusing to open them whenever she walked into his room. I went all the way to Samar for it. disliking the walks he was goaded into taking. pinch at the nose to release the air! Breathe through your mouth. saying he was waiting for his student Monica. five hundred dollars. and once. or whenever she was in between sleeping and waking she could trick herself into thinking that there was a warm body lying down beside her. steady breaths lang. so that whenever she shifted in her sleep. Every night. at times addressing someone in the empty chair opposite his. however. and oxygen tank. take whatever his son had brought in his hands and turn them over and over again in his fingers. she would forget that her husband was no longer there. glow in the dark kasi eh. carefully crawl into bed. and that she was late. Tatay Fred’s eyes would light up. When these were presented to him. how as she was stirring creamer into her morning coffee she would see a flash 40 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento .

These days.of him tearing a packet of Coffee-mate open with his teeth. stopping only when he grunted in his sleep. walk past the restaurants they used to frequent. she recalled their honeymoon with him sitting on their hotel bed laughing. feeling foolish that the knowledge that he would never play tricks like that on her again had made her feel so sad. Other times she would grab one of his books lined up in the shelf behind his bed and read to him. she would do bed turns every two hours. help him into a wheelchair. Upon seeing the towel she laid out folded neatly on the bed. when she reached out through the shower curtain. She would tell him he needed exercise. Those visions had come to her naturally. knowing it didn’t bother him and therefore it never occurred to him to clean up after himself … or how once. Despite his protests. and how as she was hopping into her room sopping wet to retrieve it. Despite her persistence about keeping their wedding portraits up on the walls. however. and get so irritated when the powder would sprinkle all over the dining table. Like how as she was cleaning a drawer out she found his collection of ballpens. she realized she had forgotten her towel in the bedroom. sometimes open his bottle of perfume that she still kept in her dresser drawer. She would play his favorite songs. Frank Sinatra. She had inadvertently started it for him after she had given him one she bought off a convenience store because it bore the logo of his favorite basketball team. wear his pajamas however large they were on her. and so while he slept. conjuring them up for fear that she would forget if she didn’t. Nat King Cole. she would play some of the CDs she found among his things. photographs she saw every day as she made her way to and from the house. smoke his brand of cigarettes. She felt something like a punch to the gut. something as small and stupid as plastic pens would hit her harder than the pictures ever could. shifting his position in order to prevent ulcers from forming on his skin brought about by his stasis. The Platters. she started crying. having taken all the towels hostage as a prank. The fact that all her actions were lately so effortful made the rare moments of when he popped in her mind without notice all the more jarring. bright smiles reminding her of how on the actual day of the wedding she at one point wanted to back out. Jenette Vizcocho 41 .  She had become used to the silence that Tatay Fred would retreat into whenever she entered his room. read over his old love letters. she found herself deliberately walking into them.

espasol from Lucena. and began speaking. She apologized. frozen durian from Davao. or how she was going to act around him. usually about his diving school. and he would stare at the murky water. allowing him to speak to her. Since then. But what she really wanted to know was who Monica was that his father could not shut up about her?  Her husband used to be on the road so much that whenever he would return. tupig from Pangasinan. he began telling her stories. as though he never treated her with silence. and colored cellophane wrappers littering the wooden dining table she had painstakingly polished with lemon-scented oil. she’s not. it would take her a few hours to get used to having someone around. He would usually enter the house and set his things by the door. she asked him while Tatay Fred was dozing. unsure of whether her replying would break this ease that came over him.and push him around the grounds. his son. banana leaves. 42 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . uraro from Laguna. silvanas from Dumaguete. He shook his head. He went into so much detail about her. ube jam from Baguio. Si Monica. a random gift from whatever region the head office sent him. Tatay Fred stood up and walked to the edge of the pond. Or how her skin never burned but reddened. Five dives na. how she was so white she almost glowed like a beacon. hair that in the water looked like seaweed. he scratched at his chin and stared at his father. in the end always coming back to Monica. about his adventures underwater. or the tentacles of a jellyfish. Is Monica your mother? Tatay Fred talks about her a lot. following the winding pathways around the large garden surrounding their facility. No. but still always runs out of oxygen during dives. Once when Marcus. Marcus did not answer for a long while. She wouldn’t answer. In one of their walks. grabe pa rin mag-panic when she’s in the water. Perhaps the reason why she fussed so much with the cooking and the cleaning was because she didn’t want to sit and think about what they were going to talk about. the papers. These little sweets they would eat after their meals. her hair that was so long that she refused to tie up causing it to fan around her face. She’s a good swimmer. sobrang hinang diver. passed all her tests. He sighed and finally shook his head. She would park him underneath a shaded area near a man-made pond surrounded by a low enclosure. was visiting. a duffel bag full of laundry.

“Oh. eh may CR. if I can. As soon as she finished clearing the kitchen out. when the program cut to a commercial. wasn’t there anyone else who could be sent off to do it? Or. more than now? You’re gone most of the week. may Jollibee at Chowking pa. why did they have to waste so much gasoline driving and flying off to see how their efforts were doing? Or. it was fine. Once. of the clink of the glasses being lifted and set back down were more comfortable. may convenience store. They would allow the quiet to take over. but I might be away at the office a lot. always mindful of predicted oil price hikes published by the German Technical Cooperation. did he even think about those things before accepting? Jenette Vizcocho 43 . I have never been to one of those. I’m scheduled to fly to Visayas and Mindanao. sitting primly on her side of the couch. and Mindanao. cursing in that low voice of his whenever they looked bad to the consumers. He was always on the lookout for how their brand was priced per gallon compared to the competition. Tapos ang daming newer. She wanted to say so much. mapping through most of Luzon. may service station. Like. comprised of chewing and swallowing. putang ina. it was the Sinulog Festival. larger stations. on whether they or the rest of the Big Three increased prices first. Visayas. I’ll file for a leave. After dinner. I’m sure I’d find something to do while waiting. smoking while watching the news. she would join him in the living room. He would be exhausted from his trip and she would struggle with things to say. he told her that he would have to start traveling heavily. Oh. Hmmm.Meals were mostly silent. He sighed and kicked at the throw pillow his feet were propped on. yes. The conversation made with the fork and spoon. then. I’ll try to join you. eh. his socked feet propped up on a low coffee table. tapos I’ll have a car to go around in. as though she agreed with everything the news anchor said. Well. A few snippets of conversation would be attempted. Masyadong bumaba ang ROI ng mga Bulilit stations. There are LPG stations in the province. if their company was really concerned with saving fuel and going green like what all their Go Clean Fuel marathons and commercials insisted. I need to re-evaluate if it’s worth keeping the smaller stations open. you’re welcome to join me next time. her husband would sit in front of the television. How was Cebu? Oh. She would nod as he watched the news. You mean. you’ll be driving a lot?” “Well.” She turned back toward the television at hearing the finality of his words.

you’re lucky. the taste insistent even after she drank several glasses of water. Marcus walked into Tatay Fred’s room with a woman following in his footsteps. She used to bring whatever was left of her husband’s presents to share with her coworkers. alam mo naman I can’t leave the resort just like that. her credit card debt. smile and nod. on her finger a ring unmistakably a wedding band. Her twelve-hour shift was from seven in the morning to seven in the evening. Marcus said. huh? Well. her shoes sensible and flat. her latest drunken spree. He’s somewhere in Itogon. Travelling pa rin. He looked up at her before snatching his hand back. he always buys you presents when he gets back. and bananas. The woman smiled and hesitated before laying a hand on top of Tatay Fred’s. like the blinking of a light bulb. her floral dress reaching down past her knees. Buti ka pa! She would avoid Ivy’s gaze. Cheding Peanuts from Iligan the next. So she was forced to commute to Market! Market! to shop for different delicacies from all over the Philippines. setting the basket down and then urging his mother toward the bed. always promising to join next time. grabbing Tatay Fred’s chart and fussing over it more than was necessary. her night reliever for Tatay Fred a young. mangos. Whenever they would part. Whenever her friends asked her to have dinner after their shift or to catch a movie with them. Her face would drain at the question. ’Tay. just as she was about to leave at the end of her shift. How’s Lito? Oh. I’m here with ’Nay. Freddy. Oh. Marcus brought a heavy basket of coconuts. Sino ka? The woman’s smile faltered before resurging all the brighter. Ivy teased her about no longer bringing her desserts. or when they did. the deep purple texture now dull as though having gone through several exposures to oil or water. pineapples. the drop of her lips almost imperceptible. I have something for 44 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . Ivy would ask. as she was charting at the nursing station. She never partook of them after choking on the sweetness of the yema in the pastels. kumusta? He didn’t answer and so she pressed on. Marcus came for me. she would beg off. they stopped asking. single girl named Ivy. her wide feet straining the tensile strength of the leather. They would usually run into each other to and from shifts and Ivy would talk nonstop about herself. became less persuasive in their efforts. her boy troubles. Once. Tatay Fred’s favorite fruits. VJANDEP pastels from Camiguin one week. In the woman’s small hands was a picture frame that seemed to once have been lined in velvet. Once. At some point.

He chased me around the resort with a knife once. his arms around her waist. the enhanced sense and sensitivity to smells. Tatay Fred looked at the picture before he knocked it onto the floor. What she mistook for a bout of flu that had been going around the clinic was actually her body going through the changes expected in pregnancy. one hand wrapped around his back. Ano ba? Bakit niyo ba ako niloloko? I don’t know who you are. Finally.  Lito was away in Sorsogon when she found out she was pregnant. as though she were to blame for his father’s reaction. I didn’t want Freddy to come here. Putang ina. the other at her hip. nakaharang sa daan. micropore tape. we’d be talking or he would be sleeping. listening to his music and clapping along to the beat. swiping at the side table over and over again until he succeeded in pushing off the rest of the items on top as well—bottles of pills. She set the picture frame beside his bed. the picture frame in her hands. is it important? The secretary signaled that it was her turn and she whispered Jenette Vizcocho 45 . he would look at me and he wouldn’t know who I was. his mother spoke up. her head resting on his shoulder. He scowled and turned away. Ano ba yan. Can it wait? May rally dito sa Bulan. Kaya naman ako pumayag sa desisyon ni Marcus na dalhin na si Freddy dito e. the increase in hCG and estrogen hormones. minsan. the stand slightly cracked. He sighed impatiently. no one can enter or leave. asking me where was I keeping Monica? Can you believe it? Twenty-seven years of marriage. a vial of alcohol. she walked back out to the visitor’s lounge and asked them. she dropped her work and rushed into his room. things she memorized in nursing school but never fully understood until then. She was in the waiting area at the OB Gyn when she finally mustered up the courage to call her husband. Hey. a colored photograph of them dancing during their wedding. When Tatay Fred had settled back in bed. jeepney drivers parked around the gasoline station and left them and cotton flying everywhere. intertwined with his. do you have a minute? Why? I have something to tell you. okay. What happened? Marcus had a protective arm around his mother. gauze. you are not my family! At the sound of Tatay Fred’s voice. patting her back rhythmically. and it’s Monica he’s asking for. what a mess! Oh. ushering Marcus and his mother out before calming her patient down.

She surfaced more than once to determine where Tatay Fred was. and mutton in a mixture of soy sauce. her eyes brimming over as she cursed herself for being so careless as to leave without endorsing him to one of the idle nurses at the station. her heart thudding in her ears. garlic. rice wine. finally noting faint ripples coming from beneath the surface. She kept her secret for three days. and lemon. despite his numerous travels. her breath flowing out of her mouth in strong bursts. adding minced peppers. In her shock. smiling as she made dinner or did her duties at work. excited to finally have a guaranteed piece of him with her always. The night before her husband was due to come home. her limbs starting to feel heavy. he was missing. feeling a wave of nausea and running for her thermos of watermelon-lemon juice she kept chilled in the staff kitchen. she jumped in. Without thinking. hon. gasping for air. peering into each of the doorways she passed. wishing it Lito’s height and sharp nose. When she returned to his room. looking for some sign of disturbance. she marinated an array of chicken. She raced to the manmade pond. She had cooked satay for Lito one time. what he would look like at her news. seeing Tatay Fred’s robe strewn on the grass.into the phone. She thrashed around in the cold. and he had been raving about it ever since. She tried to imagine how he would feel. her thin cardigan feeling heavier and heavier across her back and arms as it grew sopping wet. the thin sheet she had fitted around his sleeping figure now in a bundle on the floor. seeing the golden cowry and the picture albums. She had covered the entire floor without catching any sign of him. the side rail of his hospital bed lowered. She surveyed the water. peanut butter. it can wait. the loose material of her scrubs billowing and filling up with water. She ducked out of Tatay Fred’s room as he was sleeping. or who it would look like. the halls unusually quiet. her dimples and the shape of her fingers and toes. She had never been a strong swimmer. her throat burning up as her body caused her to reflexively inhale. she found herself wandering back to his room. and cilantro. beef. all she could think about was what sex the baby would be. Tatay 46 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . When are you coming home? Sa Friday. something she had been craving the past few days that oddly calmed the churning of her stomach. noticing the open closet for the first time. She awoke to find herself in an empty room. ginger. but not the scuba diving gear. no. At work. She rushed out of the room. thankful for the fact that Tatay Fred had retained his slim physique that the bed turns and transfers were not too difficult for her to manage. see you.

not knowing how to answer him. she came home to find his car and his duffel bag gone. buddy system! Lito arrived at the facility a few hours later. refusing to talk about what happened. he said quietly. He used to nag her Jenette Vizcocho 47 . You don’t know how you’re doing? No. how he was more relaxed and alert. She hesitated. She would refuse the modest meals he would cook for the both of them. he interrupted. Honey.Fred standing over her. How are you. she immediately noticed how clean the house was. they noticed there was some clotting. She started talking about Tatay Fred. stay close. Sometimes. he asked. still in his wetsuit. Please sit with me and eat. She expected it. a pot of stew and two bowls in front of him. I’m trying. He touched her hair.  She remembers clearly how things were. she said you were pregnant. she is afraid that it will be the thing about him that she will never forget. the laundry done. I don’t know how to talk to you anymore. when she got home from work. the bed fixed. asked to be assigned to stations within the city. waiving the leave she was offered. Monica. The next day. She would stand up and walk out of the room whenever he approached her. sabi ko sa iyo eh. Lito tried for months to make up for the fact that he wasn’t there for her. that they had lost their child. Sitting at the dining table was her husband. He dropped his bag and a plastic full of pili tarts onto the floor. would get up and out of bed every time he tried putting his arms around her while they slept. She said you had drowned but that a patient rescued you. I was on the road when Ivy called me. That was what she remembered of him. pushing wisps of it aside. how the trash had been disposed of. She opened her mouth in attempt to speak. She dropped her spoon onto the bowl with a clatter. She turned away. couldn’t stand having him touch her. She forgot to cook and clean. I don’t want to know about how work is. and patiently dealt with her grief. taking long naps when she got home. cleaned you up. One day. closed it when no words readily came out. and that she did not know if you knew. Please don’t. He tried over and over again to tell her how sorry he was that he didn’t talk to her when she called to tell him of her pregnancy. She complied and they ate in silence. I don’t know. She returned to work immediately after her miscarriage. after work. After they found you and revived you. about how he seemed to be making progress with a new drug Aricept. the dishes washed and dried. but I don’t remember.

He had been researching nonstop on ways to increase the probability of conception. disappointed when another month saw her reaching into the closet and pulling a packet of sanitary pads out.about having children. all the while repeatedly whispering. every dinner discussing some technique he read off the internet. yet another coming to work in the middle of the afternoon in her pajamas. how she quit her job in a fit of rage over a misplaced chart and stayed at home ever since. How he took her basal body temperature in the mornings. although she never spoke of it. methodically. At night. she was alarmed when her colleague seemed to fare worse and worse as she grew larger. knowing it was the quickest way to arouse her. one time locking a patient inside his room and refusing to let him out because he did not finish his vegetables. then still working at the head office in Pasig and usually home at roughly the same time as her. He began making side trips to the grocery. gently nudging her awake before commanding her to say “ah. After making love. or relaying advice from his female coworkers. setting a timer beside her and fussing over her as she lay there in bed. the buttons misaligned. a slight furrow between his brows. She spoke of how she woke up and cleaned her entire house. stroking her hair and smiling down at her. How when he determined she was fertile he would then begin kissing her on the ear. Although aware that pregnancy normally resulted in some hormonal and psychological changes. She was hesitant. telling her they were nearing forty and he was really envious of his friends who were on their second or third child. forcing her to eat plenty of fruit for breakfast. banning beef and 48 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . buying a wide array of vegetables. or testing her cervical mucus with his fingers.” a basal thermometer in hand. her distended belly straining the material of the pajama top. She would laugh or cry or throw a temper tantrum for seemingly no reason at all. only rushing off to work when she remembered it was a Monday. pumpkin. Lito seemed to become more and more desperate as time passed without any success. viscous liquid over and over again between his thumb and pointer finger to tell whether she was ovulating. beans. it’s okay to be a little late today. another crying for three hours straight because she said she never saw anybody visit the woman who was in room number 17. She felt slightly mortified at how he began to approach sex scientifically. stretching the cloudy. unable to shake the thought of how one of her colleagues had gotten pregnant and started acting out of the ordinary. carrots. charting her monthly period in a calendar. and peas. Lito would be waiting for her. he would insist she keep her legs up for ten to fifteen minutes.

beautiful and quiet. Fred would be up by four o’clock in the morning. rolled her eyes at his instructions and kept her Walkman turned up even as he briefed her at the start of each dive. She found him sitting at her side of the closet. would refuse to tie her hair. When Tatay Fred was twenty. limiting her salt and sugar intake. She would be wearing the same diving suit everyday. covering the expanse of their rusted hulls. even when they started to tarnish in the salt water. the Lycra clinging to her boyish frame. Fred would power up the small speedboat Scuba Haven I and maneuver the craft to San Quentin. One night. how she was so happy with her baby and that it was the cutest little boy she had ever seen. Jenette Vizcocho 49 . making her snack on yogurt even though he knew she disliked its sour taste. broken bits of English he acquired through years of working with the foreigners he taught how to dive. She would always be late for their appointed five-thirty schedule. he fell in love with this girl who vacationed in Subic during the summer. Joey. would pace back and forth outside their gate. and asking her to quit her three cups of coffee a day and pleading with her to drink milk in the morning instead. He mentioned the possibility of meeting with fertility doctors and carefully asked her if she thought it was a good idea. and purchasing white meat instead. would check and recheck all the equipment. an old purse she kept hidden beneath a pile of shirts turned inside-out. to man the boat while they would dive into and around the ships turned over on their sides. She would hardly listen to Fred.  This is the story of Monica. sloppy manner a girl of sixteen would typically do. or remove her assortment of rings and bracelets. her father owned a house near his family’s resort Scuba Haven. she came home from work excited to tell him that her friend visited the office with her newborn. She was a sullen kind of girl. wanting her to do something besides sitting at home and sulking. the son of the resort cook whom he had practically raised. did everything in a half-hearted. or El Capitan. She listened to rock and roll and made fun of Fred’s way of speaking to her. There were plenty of wreck dive sites near the resort.pork. clothes strewn on the floor. Her father had signed her up for early morning private lessons. kicking up mounds of sand that allowed him to measure time by the depth of the trench his restless movements created since he never wore a watch. a half-empty packet of birth control pills in his hands. leaving his assistant. He had seen her over the last few summer breaks.

laughing with her arms around Joey. Fred dove into the water. bumbling desperately for her attention. A few seconds after. checking under the portside and around the upper and lower decks. would keep him dangling. She knew he was smitten with her. didn’t I. underwater. circling the wreck over and over again. or his neck. preventing him from diving down and alerting Fred that she was safe. and then would pop out of nowhere laughing so hysterically that she often ran out of oxygen. Monica. sitting in the boat. resurfacing only when he was all but depleted. There she was. just as she had a week’s worth of time left before she had to leave. why? And he would redden and mumble his invitation to dine with him in one of the nearby restaurants. yeahyeahyeahyeahyeah. a bunch of her bracelets floated up from where she had landed. and refused to speak to Monica even when she hung out in their resort. and he reminded her to regulate her breathing. Gotcha. she said. but just as he was cutting the engine of their boat. she hit the water without warning. the different kinds of fish. the plankton. She would leave the film with him soon as she used them up. an 8. but would always send her yaya out with a flimsy excuse of a stomachache. or how she wasn’t hungry. or the side of his face. Fred climbed aboard the boat and drove home. At the end of that summer. may plans ka na ba for dinner? She would hedge and say. However. He would ask her at the end of each dive. even when on her last day. taking pictures of the ship. She would say maybe. would swim so close to him that her untied hair would caress the skin of his arm. the majority of them photos of him. to stay within eyesight. trying not to panic when his Submersible Pressure Gauge indicated he was low on oxygen. She cracked her gum at his words and said. hoping. 50 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . It would be one of the deepest dives Monica would have to make. Or she would disappear from view even when he had explicitly reminded her at the start of every dive to be within range so that he could come to her whenever she needed assistance. he got into an argument with her. giggling. They had scheduled to go to the site of the USS New York. or yes.150-ton armored cruiser some 87 feet.She had one of those plastic underwater Kodak cameras she took with her and would try to enter the vessels. whenever they were underwater. she dropped off an envelope full of underwater snapshots. she would tease him with her touch. her bracelets back around her wrist. or a migraine. making him drop them off and pick them up at the nearby photo centers.

like her. suspended just beneath the surface. and stopped at Lito’s name. her child had felt the panic she did when she had swallowed so much water. She stood there by the pond. The woman dropped the butt onto the grass and ground it up under her shoe before walking back into the building. unconsciously avoiding the place. wondering if at nine weeks pregnant. Swerte na ako whenever he talks to me. She opened a new message and stared at the screen. and stopping lately by a huge fountain instead. she ran into his wife outside. how do you do it. shaking as she dragged deeply. the color of her eyes. her neon green scrubs drowning out her shape and color. She fished for her cellular phone. was overcome by this calm just as she passed out. the softness of her hair at his fingertips. as though she had never heard the story before. he doesn’t even look at me anymore. the number of friendship bracelets encircling her thin wrist. listen to him speak of someone else? We used to talk all the time. On her way home one time. at the blinking cursor. scrolled through her contacts. Jenette Vizcocho 51 . her sunken cheeks sucking in. at how dead leaves from the trees collected at the edges. to the empty ottoman opposite him. possibly. and unrecognizable. at how she had become pale. all these he recounted to whomever would listen. not having stopped by it since her accident. She stared at her reflection. even to his wife who nodded patiently. the older woman smoking a cigarette. But all these he remembered. always walking past when she took Tatay Fred around in his wheelchair. not having cried in almost a year. She stared at the water. or if it. or the next. the smell of her sun block. Lately. probably off to college and then real life. her hair slack. thin. She smiled in greeting but stopped and turned back. too. at how it was unmoving. She was surprised to feel tears on her cheeks.She didn’t return the summer after. asked. recreated even to the smallest detail.

Joselito D. delos Reyes


a gitna ng kalamidad, maraming dapat unahin ang chief executive ng isang first-class city na laging binabaha: asikasuhin ang evacuation ng mga tao lalo na kapag nagpawala ng tubig na kulay tsokolate’t may tangay pang retaso ng troso ang Angat Dam; alamin kung may sapat na supply ng bigas, instant noodles, asukal, sardinas, kape, at bottled water para sa mga apektadong residente; makipag-ugnayan sa National Disaster Coordinating Council para sa mga tulong at ayudang bigas, instant noodles, asukal, sardinas, kape at bottled water galing sa national government; itulak ang pagpasa sa resolusyon na nagdedeklarang nasa State of Calamity ang kaniyang nasasakupan kasama na ang paggasta—nang hindi dumadaan sa bidding—ng calamity fund para sa mga nasalanta at masasalanta; ayusin ang pagdi-dispatch sa mga amphibious rescue vehicle na pahiram ng AFP at six by six truck ng city hall na paroo’t parito sa mga apektadong barangay; sumagot sa mga interview sa radyo at telebisyon, manawagan ng tulong sa kapuso’t kapamilya ng sansinukob; magpabaha ng maraming press release na nagsasabing “the situation is manageable, Valenzuela under flood” sa lahat ng diyaryo, hao siao man o hindi; alamin sa PAGASA kung may papadaluyong pang bagyo—na Lupita ang susunod na ngalan—at delubyong makapagpapasidhi sa baha, kung kailan ito tatama, kung iiwas o lulusob, kung ang tinamaan ng lintik na bagyo ay sadyang tumatarget sa kaniyang abang nasasakupan; tawagan nang nagmumura at tanungin nang nagmumura ang Meralco kung kailan mawawalan at magkakaroon ng buwakananginang koryente, mag-“thank you for your prompt response and cooperation” pagkatapos. Ligirin ang nasasakupan kasama ang camera crew ng mga network habang ipinaliliwanag na force majeure ang lahat ng nangyayaring baha at delubyo sa lungsod na iyon sa puwit ng Metro Manila, at sabihin—mariin at nanginginig—“handa kami sa lahat ng uri ng disaster!” habang binabayo ng ulan sa ibabaw ng pump boat na bumabaybay sa kalsadang nagpapanggap na ilog, at palakasin ang loob ng mga kababayan at sigawan sila: “kayang-kaya natin ’to, mga


kababayan!”; ipahukay, katulong ang MMDA, ang bumababaw at kumikitid na Meycauayan River at Tullahan River upang maayos na dausdusan ng tubig-ulan na manggagaling sa panot na kabundukan ng Bulacan at Rizal; dumalaw sa mga evacuation center at magsama ng mga doktor at nars na titingin sa mga batang magkakalagnat at magkakaalipunga, at siguraduhing may sapat na supply ng paracetamol, cough syrup, mefenamic acid, at antibiotic na malalaklak ng mga taong nangangaligkig sa ginaw; magsama ng mga photographer para sa isang dramatic photo-op na astang kumakalinga sa mga nilalagnat, inuubo, inaalipunga; ipaliwanag sa pangulo ng bansa na “everything is under my control, the flood will surely subside, Ma’am.” At “everything will be all right as soon as the weather clears, Ma’am.” upang hindi mabulyawan sa harap ng media gaya ng ginawa ng Pangulo sa isang gobernador noong huling manalasa ang bagyo—na nagkataong Gloria ang ibininyag ng PAGASA—sa lalawigan mismo ng high school level na gobernador sa Luzon na hindi alam ang pagkakaiba ng resolusyon sa ordinansa at Local Government Code sa Local School Board. Hindi dapat magutom, magkasakit, malungkot ang mga tao sa evacuation center. Walang dapat mamatay. Punyemas! Lahat ng gagawin ng meyor sa kuwarenta y otso oras ay para sa tao! Simberguwensa! At walang panahon ang isang pinagpipitaganang meyor sa panahon ng baha at delubyo para sa isang kabayong maaagnas! Punyeta! Ibig sabihin, hindi matutulungan ni meyor si Kapitan Timmy Estrella sa suliranin nito: kung paano ididispatsa ang isang patay at malapit nang mamaga’t mangamoy na malaking kabayong nakasalalak sa makitid na ilog ng malurido sa bahang barangay ng Coloong. Walang ipahihiram na crane na babaybay sa ilog ng Meycauayan para dumukot sa malaking kabayo. Walang pulis dahil naka-dispatch lahat kasama ng mga amphibious vehicle na hiniram sa Camp Magsaysay at Camp Capinpin. Walang rescue team dahil maraming taong nire-rescue sa buong lungsod. Walang panahon para sa kabayo ang lahat ng may kukote sa loob at labas ng city hall. “Unahin ang tao, Kap. Hindi ang kabayo,” tagubilin pa ni meyor sa kaniya sabay tapik sa basang balikat niya bago siya lumabas ng opisinang parang binabahang ilog sa dami ng umaagos na empleadong, gaya ni meyor ay litong-lito sa ginagawa. Naging isang malaking pabrika ng relief goods ang lobby ng city hall. Nakita niya si ex-Kapitan Trebor, ang tinalo niya sa eleksiyon at kanang kamay ni meyor, na nagmamando sa mga tagasupot ng relief goods. Kinindatan siya ni ex-Kapitan Trebor, ngumisi. Nabantad ang lahat ng nikotinadong ngipin.

Joselito D. delos Reyes


“’Musta ang Coloong, Kap? Sagwa ng unang araw mo sa pagiging kap, he he,” bati pa ni ex-kapitan. Unang araw ng panunungkulan ni Kapitan Timoteo Estrella o Kapitan Timmy. Hindi gaya ng ibang eleksiyon sa barangay na buwan ng Mayo o Oktubre, Hulyo ginawa ang halalan noong 2002. Unang araw ng Agosto ang pagbasal sa bago niyang opisina sa barangay hall. Hindi lang basta nabasbasan sa unang araw ng panunungkulan si Kapitan Timmy, binaha, binagyo, dinaluyong siya ng hindi benditadong tubig mula sa kaitaasan. Sinundan ni ex-kapitan si Kapitan Timmy palabas ng city hall. Tinabihan ni ex-kapitan si Kapitan Timmy habang kini-kickstart ang motorsiklo niyang Kawasaki Barako 175cc na nalunod habang sinasagasa ang lampas-tuhod na baha patungo sa city hall. Tunog ng hinihika ang tadyak niya sa Barako. Nabasa at nalamigan ang spark plug. Tubig ang isinusuka ng tambutso. Pumugak-pugak ang makina. “Kabayo lang ’yan, Kapitan. Kayang-kaya mo ’yan, he he,” nagsindi ng sigarilyo ang bigotilyong ex-kapitang kumakawala ang tiyan sa kamisetang kulay pulang may mukha ni meyor.

Dapat nakakatawa ang mga huling salitang binitiwan ni ex-Kapitan Trebor sa miting de avance ng eleksiyon para sa kapitan. Ang mga pamatay na salitang iyon ang ipinayo sa kaniya ng campaign manager niyang kagawad ngayon ng barangay, ang pamatay na mga salitang iyon ang magdadala sa kaniya sa tagumpay, ang maghahatid ng kaniyang ikalawang reeleksiyon. “Kung gusto ninyo ng kapitang malamya at lampa, iboto ninyo ang kalaban ko! Iboto ninyo si Kapitana!” Walang natawa sa nakikinig ng miting de avance. Nanalo si Kapitan Timmy. Landslide. “Kakayanin ko ’to. Wala e, gusto ng mga taga-Coloong ng lampa,” parunggit ni Kapitan Timmy habang humahagok-pumapalahaw ang makina ng Barakong nirebo-rebolusyon. Sumuka ng tubig at puting usok ang tambutso ng Barako. Pinasibad pabalik sa Coloong, ang barangay na untiunti nang nilalamon ng baha. “Bakla,” bulong ni ex-Kapitan. “Makikita ng taga-Coloong ang hinahanap nila sa kapitang babakla-bakla.” Kaiba si Kapitan Timmy kompara sa tinalo niyang kapitan. Hindi mo mahuhulihan ng umaalsang baywang dahil sa baril. Miyembro siya ng Legion of Mary. Katekista dati sa Coloong Elementary School. Laging naka-sky blue


Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento

na polo shirt dahil hangad niya ang kapayapaan. Mahinahon si Kapitan Timmy. Kaya siya nanalo. Kaya siya minahal ng mga taga-Coloong. Kaya nagsawa at inayawan si Kapitan Berto. Si Kapitan Berto ang hindi si Kapitan Timmy. Epitome ng kontrabida sa pelikulang Filipino noong dekada ’80, barumbado at laging armado si Kapitan Berto. Bertong Boga at Ka Trebor siya noong kagawad pa lamang. Bertong Armado at Kapitan Trebor noong kapitan at de-primerang alalay ni meyor. Okey na sana kung hindi nababalitaang nalalasing ang barumbadong kapitan. Ang kaso, goma yata ang atay ni Kapitan Berto. Sa Empoy nanghihiram ng tapang. Araw-araw kung magmamam ng Emperador, ang inumin daw ng isang tunay na Trebor. At kapag nakakalaklak, lahat ng taga-Coloong, kakampi man niya o kalaban sa politika, gustong subukan sa duwelo. Ang islogan ni Kapitan Berto noong nangangampanya: “Kay Kapitan Berto, Coloong Disiplinado!” Hindi nakaiwas sa pananakot si Kapitan Timmy. Noong kampanya, lalo na kung inuman, laging nagmomonologo si ex-Kapitan Trebor sa mga kainuman. “Iharap n’yo sa akin ang baklang ’yan at gagawin kong lalaki,” hiyaw ng ex-kapitan. Ilililis ang ladlaran ng kamisetang pula para sumungaw ang tatangnan ng 9mm. “Baka nga sa kagat ng aso hindi kayo maipagtanggol n’yan e,” tatayo sa gitna ng umpukan si ex-Kapitan Trebor, akala mo’y nangangaral. Bitbit ang tagayan ng Empoy. “Kung gusto n’yong dumami ang adik, bakla, at adik na bakla dito sa Coloong, si kapitana ang iboto n’yo,” gagayahin ang mabining paglakad ni Kapitan Timmy. “Hmmmm halam ko pong gustoh ninyoh ng barangay na mapayapah at matiwasay hmmm,” gagayahin ang mahinahon at malambing na pananalita ni Kapitan Timmy habang naglalakad, habang kunwari’y nangangamay sa tao, habang kunwari’y umaakbay sa mga kinakampanya. Didiinan at hahaplusin ng dating kapitan ang balikat ng kunwari’y kinakamayang lalaki. Kukurutin ang braso nang magaan na magaan. Itatalikod ang mukha, kakagatin ang labi, pipikit nang mariin, magbu-beautiful eyes. Sasabayan ng tawa ni ex-Kapitan Trebor, tawang Romy Diaz, umaalog ang katawan katatawa. Tatawa din ang mga kainuman. Lalo na ang mga alalay ni Romy Diaz. “Kapitang binabae, ha ha! Nananantsing sa kampanya.” “Galit sa maton ang mga taga-Coloong,” katwiran naman ni Kapitan Timmy sa mga nagtatanong kung bakit siya nanalo. Laging naghahamon ng

Joselito D. delos Reyes


away ang dating kapitan. Laging ipinagmamalaki ang koneksiyon niya kay meyor. Laging may nakabukol na baril. Naging kingpin. Naging warlord. Tahimik ang Coloong. Ayaw ng Coloong sa gulo. Kaya siya nanalo. Nang tanungin si Kapitan Timmy kung hindi daw ba siya natatakot kung hindi matatanggap ni Trebor ang pagkatalo: “Bakit naman ako matatakot, kakampi ko ang nasa ’taas.”

“Kapitana Congrats! Sa unang araw mo sa puwesto may regalo ’ko sa ’yo!” sigaw ni ex-Kapitan Trebor na may hawak na basong may lamang Empoy kay Kapitan Timmy ilang araw matapos ang eleksiyon habang ngumangata ng makunat na tapa. Kumalat sa buong Coloong na maghihiganti sa pagkatalo ang dating kapitan. Baka pumatay na ng tao at magkatotoo ang tsismis na marami nang itinumbang kaaway si ex-Kapitan Trebor. Bala daw ang ireregalo kay Kapitan Timmy. O kaya ay itim na laso. O maliit na kabaong. O bulaklak ng patay gaya ng ipinapadala ni meyor sa mga lamay sa Valenzuela. Lumipas ang dalawang linggong walang nangyaring patayan. Katunayan, higit pa ngang naging matiwasay ang Coloong sa kabila ng pagkababad nito sa matiwasay at kalmanteng baha. Maayos na nagpapaalam ang ex-kapitan sa mga nasasakupang pumupunta sa barangay hall para manghingi ng barangay clearance para makapagtrabaho, at magsampa ng reklamo sa kung sinong nangutang na hindi nagbayad at sa kung sinong nagtsismis ng kung ano, kung kanino, kung kailan. Kabayo lang ang namatay. Nalunod marahil sa baha galing sa kung saang barangay at tinangay sa bunganga ng ilog sa Coloong, at hindi maanod sa mas malaking ilog ng Meycauayan dahil sa inutil na floodgate na kumapal at bumigat na sa lumot at kalawang. Huling araw ng Hulyo nang masipat ng PAGASA na dadaan ang bagyong Koring sa Central Luzon. Mahina ang hangin ng bagyong Koring pero maraming dalang ulan. Signal number 2 ang Metro Manila. Dalawang araw nang walang puknat ang ulang nagsimula nang tikatik at bumuhos na nga sa unang araw ng panunungkulan ni Kapitan Timmy. Pinulong ni Kapitan Timmy ang katatalaga lang niyang ayudante, si Tanod Ex-O Rodante na dating natsismis kay Kapitan Timmy (Akmang suntok ang isinasagot ni Kapitan Timmy sa tuwing tatanungin siya kung kainuman na naman niya sa Marilao at Monumento si Tanod Ex-O Rodante, ang pinakasikat at pinakamayamang welder sa Coloong.).


Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento

“Gago, (o gaga kung babae ang mambubuska) malisyoso kayo. Pamilyado ’yung tao ’no,” mahinahon at malambing na pambabara ni Kapitan Timmy. Sa pulong, kasama ang bagong kasusumpa sa puwestong dalawampung barangay tanod, idinrowing ni Kapitan Timmy ang sitwasyon. “Walang nanalo sa kagawad natin, lahat ng kagawad busy sa pamimigay ng relief goods ni meyor at ni Ka Trebor, tayo-tayo lang ang magtutulungan dito,” panimula ni Kapitan Timmy. Pinipilit maging mariin at malakas ang sinasabi dahil nasasapawan ng ingay ng ulan ni Koring sa labas ng barangay hall. Idinrowing sa malapad na white board ang korte ng ilog, ang bunganga nitong pinagtayuan ng huklubang floodgate na kasintanda ng humukay ng ilog. Iginuhit ang puwesto ng mga puno, ang kurbada ng mga pilapil sa paligid. Iginuhit ang huling pormang nakita sa patay na kabayo: nakahigang nakabuka ang lahat ng paa. Lutang ang nakabukol na tiyan. Labas ang dila ng malaking kabayong chestnut brown. Iginuhit ang mga dadaanang pilapil ayon sa mapa ng Coloong na nakadikit sa tabi ng white board. Step by step na hakbang kung paano iaahon ang kabayo sa ilog ng Meycauayan at kung paano ipatatangay. Nakasulat sa white board kung anong oras ang paghupa ng baha. Nakasulat din ang mga pangalan ng tanod at kung saan sila nakapuwesto sa pag-aahon ng kabayo. Lahat de-numero. Naputol ang pagsasalita ni Kapitan Timmy. Humahangos ang isa pang tanod. “K-k-kap, tumataas ang bahah. ’Yung k-kabayo Kap, ambantot na, ganun pa rin pop-p-porma,” hingal na hingal na sinambit ng basang-basang tanod. Mas maganda, sabi ni Kapitan Timmy. Madaling maiaangat ang bangkay at maihuhulog sa ilog ng Meycauayan. Matatapos bago mag-alas sais ng gabi ang Oplan: Tambog-kabayo. Balik sa drowing. Labing-anim ang hahatak pataas sa kabayo at maghuhulog sa ilog ng Meycauayan. Lima ang tanod na lulusong sa halos limang metrong lapad ng ilog para itali ng makakapal na lubid ang mga paa at ulo ng kabayo. Isang tao, isang lubid ang hahatakin pataas. Markado ang lahat ng pupuwestuhan ng tao. Parang krokis sa basketbol sa huling segundo ng isang kritikal na laban. May limang tanod na mangunguna. Tatagain ang lahat ng siit at sanga ng bakawang nakahalang sa daraanan ng grupo. “Let’s go!” sigaw ni Kapitan Timmy. Bago umalis, ipinamigay ang mga bago’t puting puting good morning towel na inispreyan ng Axe. Wala nang kapo-kapote, hubad-baro ang ibang tanod, naka-body fit at dri-fit na

Joselito D. delos Reyes


” usal ni Kapitan Timmy sa sarili. “Heto na ang giyera. nagsimula nang sumuot sa ilong ang lansa. Naroon ang isang six by six ng city hall.  Lalong lumakas ang dalang ulan ni Koring. Puno ng relief goods ni meyor. Dumaan sa harap ng eskuwelahan ang tropa ni Kapitan Timmy. naka-cycling shorts. nakabalsang gawa sa pinagtali-taling drum. Sumisingasing ang ulan at bangaw. Nadapa. Wala na ring good morning towel sa ilong. si Tanod Ex-O Rodante. Tumingala. nakabantay si ex-Kapitan Trebor. Napahinto nang akmang lulusong na ang unang tanod na magtatali sa paa ng kabayo. Halos maubos ang sansupot na dala ni Kapitan Timmy. at Kapitan Timmy. Malabo ang daraanan dahil sa ulan at sa mga nagdo-dogfight na bangaw. Ibinuka ang bibig na may salasalabit na ulam at kanin.kamisetang Nike at nakatokong na shorts si Tanod Ex-O Rodante. Nakadila sa kanila ang kabayong naka-side view. Hindi pala. Umatras. Mabantot. Nawala sa balikat ang lubid. Akala mo namaligno. Sumambulat ang adobong kangkong at Lucky Me 58 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . Sa gate ng eskuwelahan. Umuugoy-ugoy sa pagkakalutang. nakasampay pa rin ang mga lubid sa balikat. Isa-isang nagtali sa ilong ng good morning towel na may Axe ang mga tanod. Tumayo sa pagkakadapa. Nagsubo ng tigdadalawang kending Halls na puti ang mga tanod. naglalakad. Tumakbo palayo. Narating ng tropa ang dulo ng pilapil. at pangharabas sa bahang sandalyas si Kapitan Timmy. Nagsasagitsitan na ang langaw. Dilat na dilat. Lapat na lapat sa pagkakabasa ang sky blue na polo shirt. “Good luck. nakabangka. Yumuko lang. Ipinansahod sa ulan ni Koring ang mukha. Iniikutan ng mga langaw at bangaw ang ulo ng kabayo. Nakataas ang dalawang paang mapagkakamalang kawayang lulutang-lutang sa ilog. Kapitana. Putlang-putla. Sa Coloong Elementary School na gagawing evacuation center. Estatwang-estatwa. Isinuka pati ang kending Halls. naninigarilyo. Nakakapote. Sumuka.” pahabol pa ng ex-kapitan sa tropa ni Kapitan Timmy. nagsisimula nang dumagsa ang tao. Makapal ang damo kaya hindi na makita ang pilapil na nilalakaran. Pinapasok pa lamang ng tropa ang loobang dadaanan papunta sa pilapil ng ilog. Naglalagitikan ang mga sangang tinataga. sumisingaw ang amoy ng Empoy.

Umahon agad ang sumisid. boys!)” palahaw ni Kapitan Timmy na akala mo’y ngongo. Nilangaw ang ulo. “H-hindi ko kaya. moys!. “Ngo. Yuko uli. Tingala. Bo-boss. Inaaninag sa ulan ang pag-thumbs-up ng hepe ng sandatahang lakas ng barangay. Habol ang hiningang tumango ang tanod. Sinisid na ng tanod ang nakalubog na paa ng kabayong naka-side view. dahil sa tumatakip sa ilong nitong good morning towel na babad na babad sa Axe at ulan ni Koring.” pauntol-untol na sigaw ng tanod kay Tanod Ex-O Rodante sa pagitan ng paglalabas ng kanin at ulam. Joselito D. Hinugasan sa malakas na ulan ni Koring ang mukha at bibig at ilong na may nakasabit na usbong ng kangkong at mahabang noodle ng Lucky Me Pancit Canton. Hindi na pinalapit sa floodgate ang kulay hugas-bigas na tanod na assistant welder pala ni Tanod Ex-O Rodante. Ngumiti si Kapitan Timmy pero hindi na ito nakita ni Tanod Ex-O Rodante dahil humahaginit si Koring. at paghigit ng hanging may langaw.” nagsimula nang umakyat sa floodgate ang mga nalalabing tanod kasama si Kapitan Timmy. Umahon sa ilog. moys! (Translation: Go. Hindi na maamoy ang Axe na kanina pa sumama sa ulan ni Koring. ambaho. Nagmamando lang si Tanod ex-O Rodante. Pinutakti ng mga langaw ang mukha. Naihagis ang lubid sa hatak-boys sa itaas ng floodgate. Nanlalabo ang buong paligid dahil sa ulan ni Koring. Suka. Napansin ng mga langaw ang pagkaing lumabas sa bunganga ng tanod. Naitali ang dalawang paang nakalutang. Kinuha ang good morning towel na nakasampay sa bakawan.Pancit Canton na tanghalian ng tanod. “Naitali mo?” tanong ni Tanod ex-O Rodante. “Mahina ang tiyan!” sigaw ni Tanod Ex-O Rodante habang iminumuwestra ang tiyan kay Kapitan Timmy. Ipinampunas sa nagmamantika niyang mukha. delos Reyes 59 . Naghihintay ng go-signal kay Tanod ex-O Rodante kung puwede nang hatakin pataas ang kabayong chestnut brown. Siya ang manager sa itaas ng floodgate. Si Tanod Ex-O Rodante ang rumilyebo sa assistant welder nitong nagtatanggal ng sumalalak na kangkong sa lalamunan pagkatapos isuka ang lahat ng tanghalian. Naitali ni Tanod Ex-O Rodante ang ulo ng chestnut brown na kabayo. Pagkasabi ng “Ngo. Si Tanod Ex-O Rodante ang manager ng kanina’y limang lubidboys sa ibaba. Nakamasid ang mga hatak-boys sa itaas.

Nakayuko lang sa nagmamantikang tubig. Dumura-dura. Nag-thumbs up si Tanod ex-O Rodante kay Kapitan Timmy sa itaas ng floodgate. Kumuha uli ng hangin pero ulan ni Koring at langaw ang nasambot. Nang maibuga ang langaw. Ayos. Boss. Malalim ang hiklat ng paa ng kabayo sa ilog. Hinahanap ang mata ng maninisid. Bikaka ang paa ng kabayong chestnut brown. Nakamatyag si Kapitan Timmy. kumuha uli ng hangin. Parang may putong na koronang langaw sa ulo ang tanod. Parang kinuhanan ng retrato. Hindi tumitingin ang tanod. three. Napatigil ang lahat. Humuhugot ng mabantot na hangin. Puwede nang hatakin kahit hindi nakatali ang isang paa. hatak!” 60 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . Dahan-dahan muna ang hatak hanggang lumapit ang chestnut brown na kabayo sa kinakalawang na pintong bakal ng floodgate. Kumakatas na ang sebo ng chestnut brown na kabayo ng kung sinong demonyo.” Dumura-durang sabi ng tanod. Nakadipang patagilid ang senyas. Pumorma. Hindi matunaw ng ulan ni Koring ang naglilinab at masangsang na mantika sa ilog. two. Mga sampung piye ang taas ng aahunin ng bangkay. three. Nagliparan ang mga nakadapong langaw sa ulo. “H-anlalim Boss. senyas ng maninisid. Umiling uli. “One. Nakaturo pataas ang hintuturo. Naghahabol ng hininga. “Okey na ba?” ulit ni Tanod ex-O Rodante. “Okey na?” tanong uli ni Tanod ex-O Rodante. Umiling ang maninisid. Nawala ang tanod sa nagmamantikang tubig. Sisid uli. Ipinatali na lang ni Tanod Ex-O Rodante sa dalawang paang nakalutang ang lubid na hindi naibuhol sa paang nakalubog. hatak! One. Umahon ang ulo ng tanod. two. Sabay kulog at kidlat ni Koring. Inubo muna.Nag-ipon ng hangin ang tanod na maninisid. Umiling-iling. Dumura-dura bago dumipa sa tubig. Mas mabilis kaysa kaninang pagsisid. Pinagkaguluhan uli ng langaw ang lumutang na ulo ng tanod. Nagkilusan ang mga hatak-boys. Naka-thumbs-up pa para kung sakaling hindi madinig ang tanong. Tumingala. “Subukan mo ule!” hiyaw ni Tanod ex-O Rodante. “’Indi talaga kaya. Sinisinga-singa ang tubig sa ilong. Langaw lang ang gumagalaw. “Pagbilang ko!” sigaw ni Kapitan Timmy sa hatak-boys. Lumusong uli. Nakayuko namang humigop ng hangin.” sigaw ng naghahabol sa hiningang tanod. Humanda na sa paghatak.

napilas ang leeg ng chestnut brown na kabayo. Parang nakawalang dambuhalang kabag. Hinagod-hagod ang likod. Sinundan ng laksa-laksang bangaw ang tanod. Nalukot ang mukha ng lahat ng tanod sa baho ng hininga ng dilat na kabayo. Napatalon sa ilog ang nahulog na tanod nang matauhang nakasubsob siya at lulutang-lutang sa nakaumbok na tiyan ng kabayong chestnut brown. “One. Nagsalimbayan ang paglipad ng langaw sa ulo ng kabayo. Isinuka pati kanin. Inalalayan ng ibang tanod. two. Sumuka nang sumuka habang kinakalag ang lubid sa braso. “Walang bibitiw. Lumubog-lumutang ang tiyan ng kabayong may tanod sa ibabaw. putangina!” nagulat si Kapitan Timmy sa nasambit. Sa lakas at bilis ng hatak sa ulo. Nagkakawag patungo sa pampang. Siya na dating katekista at Legion of Mary. Inagasan ng malapot na mantikang puti. Joselito D. two. Natangay ang isang matalinong tanod pababa dahil nakapulupot at nakabuhol sa braso niya ang lubid na hinahatak. Kahit ilong ay nilabasan ng suka. Kumukumpas sa hatak-boys. Sumingaw ang amoy nang lumabas ang bibig na binabalungan ng naninilaw na tubig. Dinurog sa nguya. at pula ang napilas na leeg. Nasalo ng nakaumbok na tiyan ng kabayo ang nahulog na tanod. three. pati yata pinong tinik ng buntot ng bangus. hatak!” nakasumpal sa ilong ni Kapitan Timmy ang basang-basang good morning towel. delos Reyes 61 . Bumigat ang hatak ng iba. Nang makaahon. Halos hindi na makita ang kumpas ng kapitan sa kapal ng ulan ni Koring. nagmura nang ubod ng lutong sa unang araw ng pagiging kapitan niya. three. Sumama sa ilog ang katas. Giniling na bangus at tilapia ang laman ng sikmura ng tanod na nahulog. Nasundan ng isa pa. humalik uli sa ilog. yumuko. Matigas pati dila. Lalong sumingaw ang amoy. dilaw.Umangat ang ulo ng chestnut brown na kabayo. Nangawit ang mga hatak-boys. Kinagat niya ang kending Halls na kanina pa nasa pisngi. Dilat na dilat. Ang napilas na leeg naman ang dinumog ng laksa-laksang bangaw. Lumubog-lumutang ang salbabidang kabayo. Bumaba nang bahagya ang lumitaw na ulo ng kabayo. Isinampay ang katawan sa pinakamalapit na punong bakawan. Nakabitaw. Nagliparan ang lubid at langaw. Hindi man lang napaangat sa paghatak ang nakalubog na namamagang katawan. Hindi nakaya ang buong bigat ng namamagang katawan. Tunog ng tambol ang pagbagsak ng tanod. Bumitaw sa hatak ang isang tanod. Umalingasaw lalo. Muntik nang mahulog sa floodgate ang mga humahatak sa ulo. hatak! One. Nag-dive na una ang puwet.

Nakisama naman si Koring. Tinatanuran ng bangaw na nagmula pa sa ilog. gate at bakod ng barangay hall. Nag-amoy Joy at namamagang kabayong chestnut brown ang madilim na covered court at barangay hall. at kangkong na ilalabas ang pigang-pigang sikmura. kasama nila ang kabayo dahil tangay ng maninisid at ng nahulog na tanod ang lahat ng halimuyak ng chestnut brown na kabayo. Naligo ang tropa ng bari-bariles na tubig-ulan na may Surf. Hindi kinaya ng anghang ng sandakot na kending Halls na puti ang sangsang ng nakadila at bondat na kabayo.” Kung hindi dahil dito at sa suweldong tatlong libo bilang tanod ex-o.” bulong ni ex-Kapitan Trebor kay Kapitan Timmy. Mistulang galing sa isang walang-panalong giyera sa Iwo Jima ang tropang hinahatak ang sarili sa tubig-bahang hanggang pige. Nagtatakip ng ilong ang lahat ng madaanang may ilong at nakakaamoy. Nagpabili si Kapitan Timmy ng dalawang dosenang Joy Antibac at Joy Lemon. gate at bakod ng kahit anong pupuwedeng i-welding—sa bulsyet na barangay na ’to. Napailing din si Tanod Ex-O Rodante. Ang tanod na maninisid. at sabong pampaligo.Nagkaroon ng konsiyerto ng pagsuka. nagbuhos pa ng makapal na ulan para ipanghalamos sa mga nagsusuka. Nakasampay sa mga balikat ng kasamahan ang limang tanod na naubos ang laman ng sikmura kasusuka. pagkumpuni sa sirang covered court. Sumuka uli kahit wala nang kanin. Nabuhay ang unang nasuka. “Balik tayo. Lima ang sumusuka nang sabay-sabay. At dose-dosenang shampoo. Napailing si Kapitan Timmy kay Tanod Ex-O Rodante.” sambit ni Kapitan Timmy. Nagmamantika ang katawan ng maninisid. Maaaring ipinatangay na lang sa ilog dahil akala’y dirediretso ang ilog patungo sa mas malaking ilog ng Meycauayan palabas sa 62 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . Tatlo. May nakaisip ng Joy na pantanggal sa sebo ng plato at kawali. “Siyet. Bulsyet. conditioner. Malalata. Naging apat. hinding-hindi niya ito gagawin. Lucky Me. Sugatan.” bulong ni Tanod Ex-O Rodante sa sarili. “kung hindi lang dahil sa mga ipapagawa ni Kapitan Timmy—gate at bakod ng Coloong Elementary School. Binabayo ng ulan ni Koring. Maaari daw nalunod at hindi na ipinalibing ng matanda dahil baha. May sumuka uli.  “Kay Tandang Isko ang kabayo. Matanda na raw ang malaking kabayo ni Tandang Isko na taga-Barangay Mabolo. Pakiramdam ng iba.

ito ang solusyon. Tinira ng mga natitirang malakas na tanod ang softdrinks kahit hindi malamig. Humagalpak. Tawang Paquito Diaz na nakabihag at nakapambugbog ng FPJ. Kinabukasan pa daw magkakaroon ng koryente. Naubos naman ang sanlatang Fita. nakaparagan sa pulang kamisetang may mukha ni meyor at logo ng city hall. Napasigaw ng matinis na “Eeeeeii!” si Kapitan Timmy. “Salamat sa regalo. Nang mapansin niyang napatinis ang sigaw niya. naaninag ni Kapitan Timmy ang sumusungaw na bondat na tiyan ni ex-Kapitan Trebor. Nagdala sa barangay hall ng kilo-kilong tilapia at bangus si ex-Kapitan Trebor na gusto raw makatulong sa problema ng kabayo. Aandap-andap ang rechargeable lamp sa mahabang mesa sa barangay hall na amoy Joy Antibac at kabayong chestnut brown. heto pa.” pagyayabang ng dating kapitan. mas matigas.” kinuha ang dalawang granada. delos Reyes 63 . Hindi nagalaw ang naninilaw sa lapot na arroz caldong ipinahanda ni Kapitan para sa mga tanod at kagawad. Inilabas ang isa pang granada. Galing ang mga isda sa palaisdaan ni meyor sa Coloong na tinatauhan ni ex-Kapitan Trebor. lalo na ang namuting si Kapitan Timmy na binayo ng kaba. Lumabas ng barangay hall si ex-Kapitan Trebor. pagalit—“Tangina naman o. “Hindi makukuha sa palampa-lampa ’yang problemang ’yan. “Kung ako sa ’yo Kap. Inilabas sa jacket ang isang granada. ipinatong sa mesa. Ibinalik sa jacket.” “May pin pa ’to. Sumisingaw ang amoy ng Empoy sa bibig. Sa dilim at kahit balot ng jacket. si Tanod Ex-O Rodante. Naubos ang dalawang supot ng Nescafe 3 in 1. ha. Babalik daw sa kubo sa palaisdaan ni meyor na may generator na nasa bukana ng ilog ng Coloong. sabi ng city hall nang radyuhan ni ex-Kapitan Trebor. Naalala ni Kapitan Timmy ang nilalangaw at namamagang tiyan ng chestnut brown. sumigaw uli. “Pasabugin ang kabayo.dagat.” usal ni Kapitan Timmy sa sarili. Kung hindi kaya ng isa. Nakalimutan yata ng matandang may sirang floodgate sa bunganga ng ilog ng Coloong. Kulang na lang ay maiwang mag-isa si ex-Kapitan Trebor sa loob ng barangay hall. tanggal ang problema. Naglayuan sa mesang may granada ang mga nakapalibot na kagawad. nakasuksok ang 9mm na permanenteng residente na ng baywang ng dating kapitan. Joselito D.” dagdag ni ex-kapitan. Pinarte sa tanod ang mga isda ni meyor na isda na rin ni ex-Kapitan Trebor na isda na rin ng mga tanod.” dinukot ang kabilang bulsa ng jacket.

Paano daw dadalhin ang napakaraming adobe? Plano numeros dos: iahon sa pilapil na humahangga sa ilog ng Meycauayan ang kabayo. Kakalat lang ang inuuod na laman. Tatagas ang uod. 64 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . at ni Kapitan Timmy ang susunod na hakbang. Mahirap kumpunihin ang sirang pilapil kung mataas ang tubig. Bagsak uli sa tanod at konseho. Plano numero sais: hayaang mabulok. Plano numero tres: wasakin ang floodgate na binahayan na ng kalawang. Tatlo ang nagsabing magre-resign sa pagiging tanod. Malambot na ang pilapil. palubugin. padaanin ang kabayo sa guwang. Maraming-maraming adobe. Talian at lagyan ng pabigat na adobe. Baka pagsimulan pa ng epidemya lalo’t may mga evacuees sa barangay at malaki ang baha. Bagsak sa konseho. Plano numero kuwatro: biyak-biyakin ang kabayo. Pagkawasak. Magkakasakit ang buong Coloong dahil sa amoy. Bagsak kay Kapitan Timmy. Babaha lalo dahil mas mataas ang tubig sa Ilog Meycauayan. madali. Hatakin pataas ang bawat inatadong parte at saka ihulog sa ilog ng Meycauayan. At hindi garantiya ang granada sa isang namamagang kabayo. Ang plano numero uno: kung hindi maiahon ang kabayo. Baka magkasakit ang mga lulusong. Bagsak sa lahat. Bagsak sa konseho at tanod. Plano numero siyete: hatakin pabalik kay Tandang Isko ang kaniyang kabayo. sasamahan muna daw ang pamilya hangga’t hindi humuhupa ang baha. Hangga’t siya ang nasa posisyon. Gaya din ng argumento sa plano numero dos. ni Tanod Ex-O Rodante. walang puwang ang dahas. Bagsak sa konseho. Dadami at lalaki ang problema. Ipapaanod lamang uli ng matanda sa ilog ang nabubulok na kabayo. Maaaring gumuho. Puwede nang pagtiisan ang amoy para maatado. ng mga kagawad. Plano numero singko: dahil nakatali na ang kabayo. Babaha lang lalo. Sino ang uupak para magkahiwa-hiwalay. At ang dalawa. Bagsak sa konseho. Hindi na raw sasama sa susunod na operasyon ang limang nagsuka dahil sumasakit daw ang tiyan at nilalagnat. Paano hahatakin? Paano kung hindi magkahiwa-hiwalay dahil maganit at may buto pa? Kung balat lang ang kabayo.Halos maubos ang tropa ni Kapitan Timmy kinabukasan. Not worth the risk. Baka anurin pabalik ang kabayo at sumalalak uli patungo sa ilog. Plano numero otso: ataduhin at gilingin ang bulok na kabayo sa pamamagitan ng granada. Pinagpulungan ng mga natitirang tanod. hatakin sa iba’t ibang direksiyon para magkahiwala-hiwalay. Babaha ng uod.

Isinama ang hepe ng tanod.Humina na si Koring pero palaki pa rin ang baha dahil umuuho pa ang tubig galing sa kalbong bundok ng Rizal at Bulacan. Hanggang sa ikalimang lubid. Naubos uli ang Joy Antibac pagbalik ng bigong ekspedisyon ni Kapitan Timmy. Nakadila pa rin pero puti na ang matang untiunting natutungkab. Nagsubo pa ng kending Halls. Minamanyanita ng umuugong na langaw ang tropa. Tatlong kamisetang naliligo sa shampoo ang nakabalot sa mukha puwera pa ang nakapaloob na mga good morning towel. Samasamang ibinato sa kabila ng ilog. Paghina ng ulan. Nagdala uli ng lubid si Kapitan. Ayos din ang ikalawa. Binaybay ang pilapil hanggang makarating sa flood gate na kinokolonya na ng lahat ng langaw ng buong Valenzuela at Bulacan. at kape na tinira niya bago lumakad. Panay ang inom ng orange juice na nasa bote ng mineral water para hindi masuka. Higit nang namamagang kabayo. Humiram ng bangka si Kapitan Timmy sa isang kaibigan. At ng maraming-maraming kending Halls na puti. Joselito D. Eksakto ang bato ng una. O kahit siguro tone-toneladang pang adobe. si Rodante. Umiimpis-lumoloboumiimpis naman ang pisngi ni Tanod Ex-O Rodante. Fita. Nagsama ng limang tanod. Sumasambulat ang kolonya ng bangaw sa tuwing ibabato ang lubid na may adobe. Itinali ang mga adobe sa dulo ng mga pinagputol-putol na lubid. good morning towel na binasa ng malapot na shampoo. Walang nakatulog dahil sa alingasaw kahit ilang good morning towel at botelya ng Axe ang gamitin at ubusin. sa lagpas ng kabayong naka-side view. delos Reyes 65 . Hindi kayang palubugin ng mahigit sampung adobe. Inakay ang bangkang karga ang mga adobe. Madaling-araw kinabukasan ng saludsurin ni Kapitan Timmy ang hanggang baywang na baha. Paputok na ang araw nang dumating sila sa floodgate. Balot na balot ang mukha ng limang tanod. Hindi man lang lumubog kahit kaunti ang magang-magang kabayo. Nginitian sila ng kabayo. sumabit ang lubid sa namamagang tiyan. nangibabaw ang alingasaw ng chestnut brown sa buong barangay. Humingi ng ilang adobe sa isang hardware and construction supply sa barangay. Umaagas ang pula-puti-dilaw na langis sa biyak sa leeg at sa bunganga ng higit nang malaking kabayo. Halos mamuwalan sa kendi. At may balitang magpapakawala ng tubig ang Angat Dam. Pinigil ni Kapitan Timmy na hindi iduwal palabas ang pandesal na may palamang coco jam.

Dumating na ang bagyong Lupita. Napagkamalang kulog. malutong ang boses ni Gus sa harap ng camera habang 66 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . Umaalog ang bondat na tiyan sa pagtawa. Umulan uli nang buhos. May nagising rin sa barangay hall. “Babakla-bakla kasi e.Dumadagsa na ang reklamo sa amoy ng kabayo. Hindi maikakaila ang tawang Paquito Diaz. Sinundan ng isa pang pagsabog pagkatapos ng halos wala pang isang minuto. Panghugas sa Coloong na sinisimulan nang kolonyahin ng uod na produkto ng chestnut brown na kabayo. ang mga kagawad na nagpanukalang gilingin ang chestnut brown sa pamamagitan ng granada ni ex-kapitan Trebor.” hindi maikakaila ng namamagang tiyan kung sino ang nagsabi kahit pa balot ang mukha nito at mata lang ang nakikita. Ngumiti ng isang nikotinadong ngiti bago itinago muli ang mukha. Nasa tindahang malapit sa barangay hall si ex-Kapitan Trebor. Tinagay ang Empoy sa baso. “Salamat uli sa regalo. paputol-putol. Naningkit ang mata sa pagtawa ng may-ari ng boses. Inaagasan na ng uod na tinatangay na palapit sa barangay hall at sa evacuation center. “Kabayo lang ’yan Kapitana. bumalik uli sa mabahong pagkakahimbing ang buong barangay. Kumurot ng tapa. Nang matiyak na kulog lamang ang narinig. “Pinasabog nga ba ng dating kapitan ang patay na kabayo sa kasagsagan ng bagyong Lupita? O may foul play? Ano ang kinalaman ng naaagnas na kabayong pinipilit ngayong iahon ng pulisya para isama sa imbestigasyon kasama ang katawan ng dating kapitang binistay ng shrapnel?” garalgal.” pigil at manipis na tawa ang sumunod.  Alas-onse ng gabi nang umalingawngaw ang pagsabog sa barangay galing sa direksiyon ng flood gate. Hinubad ang tabing sa mukha. Nadinig ni Kapitan Timmy ang huling sinabi ng dating kapitan. Bahagyang umaraw kinahapunan. Marami raw batang inuubo at nasusuka sa evacuation center dahil sa amoy. Dalawa rito ang kagawad ng barangay. Mas maraming dalang ulan kaysa Koring.” usal ni Kapitan Timmy sa sarili bago siya lumabas ng barangay upang maghanap ng solusyon sa suliranin ng kaniyang nasasakupang malurido na sa ulan at baha. May nagising sa paaralang elementaryang rumirilyebo bilang evacuation center. Lalong umalingasaw sa buong barangay ang kabayong chestnut brown na unti-unti nang nagiging puti. Nalunod ang tunog ng pagsabog sa malakas na hangin at ulan na dala ni Lupita. May ilang nagtatae. lumabas ang tatangnan ng 9mm. Nagtawanan din ang alalay ni Paquito Diaz.

to intimidate my good and efficient administration. tumingin at ngumiti muna si Kapitan Timmy kay Tanod Ex-O Rodante. delos Reyes 67 .O. Isinabay pa nila sa kalamidad. magkasama ngayong iimbestigahan … abangan sa pagbabalik ng S.nakalusong sa hanggang tuhod na baha sa humahalimuyak na Coloong. o Scene of the Crime Investigation. kulay na tanda ng kapayapaan.C. Political vendetta.I. or perhaps. ang matapat niyang ayudante. Inayos ang gusot na polo shirt na sky blue.O. We will leave no stones unturned.I. Joselito D. Napakabuti ni Kapitan Robert. Napakawalang puso. Pabaon pa ni Gus bago magpatalastas: “Mga piraso ng katawan ng kabayo at katawan ng dating kapitang binurdahan ng shrapnel.” Hinawi ng napapayungang Kapitan Timmy ang buhok. para sa panayam. habang binabayo ng ulan na buntot na lamang ni Lupita. Napakalupit. Nakaririmarim.” Footage ng interview ni meyor sa loob ng opisina: “I believe there’s a foul play.C. I believe this is political in nature. Bago rumolyo ang camera ng S. How barbaric.

Ang Batang Gustong Maging Ipis Carlo Pacolor Garcia I sa siyang mabait na bata kaya lagi siyang nagpapaalam. malambot sa loob. Ang sabi ng nanay sa tatay: “Dinala kahapon nang madaling araw. sinabihan siya ng tatay na hindi na siya puwedeng maging alimango. sinabi ng ate niyang masakit mamatay ang mga alimango. hindi alam ng nanay ang gagawin do’n sa bata. kung pa’no sila madulas sa pagsubok. Pagdating ng nanay galing trabaho. ang sabi niya. Noong gusto niyang maging alimango. Kasi raw noong Sabado. Lumaban pa raw kasi ’yong bata. tinawagan niya muna sa ospital ang kanyang nanay kung saan ito nagtatrabaho at nagtanong. pilit na inaakyat ang kama. oo. mabilis ’tong nagtungo sa kuwarto nilang mag-asawa. Ngumisi ang ate ng bata. “’Nay. ’kala mo kung sinong matapang. puwede po ba ’kong maging alimango?” “Oo. may dumaan na mamáng naglalako ng alimango at nang bumili ang tatay nila. luwa na ’yong bituka. matigas sa labas. nakita niya kung pano magpakitang-gilas ang mga ’to. kung pa’no magkumahog ang mga alimango na makaakyat. kumukulo ang lahat ng laman nito kapag iniluluto. hindi ko naman masabi sa kanya na hindi ko na ho ’yan matatahi. Tinawag nila ang ate nito para siya kunin. Di rin siya napansin ng kanyang mga magulang nang pumasok siya sa kanilang kuwarto. “Gusto mong mapakuluan ang bituka mo?” 68 .” ang mabilis nitong sagot sabay baba ng telepono. ginagaya ang kanyang nakita. ’di pinansin ang anak na nakakipkip ang mga kamay sa pagitan ng mga nakatiklop na alak-alakan at naglalakad na parang alimango. kung pa’nong napapasigaw ang mga nasisipit nito. “Bakit mo gustong maging alimango?” tanong ng ate niya na tuwangtuwang nakikinig. Nakuha din naman lahat. tahiin ’nyo ho tahiin ’nyo ho. kung ga’no sila kahirap mahuli.” Nabaltog ang bata pero hindi siya umiyak. Sinabihan siya ng nanay niya na mag-ingat. anak.

parang buhay na buhay.” ang sagot nito nang humihikab. di sila matigil-tigil sa pagkawag. Gusto mong pumutok iyang ulo mo?” Hindi na naging hito ang bata kahit kailan. narinig na lang ng nanay at tatay habang nag-aabang ng balita. nakita niyang hinuhuli ang mga ito at kahit na alisin sila sa tubig. walang tigil ang gripo sa pagpugak ng tubig. nakakatawa pa. Pero ang mabait na bata. kasama ng mga kumpare ng kanyang tatay. Dagsaan ang mga reporter. “Palaka ’nay. inalisan siya nito ng bigote. Dahil daw noong isang Sabado. di ka na puwedeng maging hito. “Bakit mo gustong maging palaka?” tanong ng ate na siyang-siyá na nakikinig. kumikiwal-kiwal at naglagay pa ng dalawang guhit ng toothpaste sa ibabaw ng kanyang mga labi. “Bakit mo gustong maging hito?” tanong ng ate na aliw na aliw na nakikinig.” at naglaho ito sa kabilang linya dahil may dumating na pasyente. ako na!” Habang nag-iimis ng pinagkainan. hindi na ’ko pumasok sa loob. at habang pinubulbusan.” Sa banyo. sa balita mamaya: Pasyente Naging Bayani. Manghang-mangha ang bata sa isdang kayang huminga sa lupa. nagulat sila nang magpunta ito sa banyo para maghilamos nang di inuutusan. anak. noong pumunta sila ng tatay niya sa bagsakan ng mga isda. sumigaw pagkakain. Noong sumunod na linggo. may bigote sila! Ngumiti ang ate ng bata. sige. ang sabi sa kanya ng nanay. hinatak siya nito patayo. laging nagpapaalam. Mahirap silang mahuli ang tugon ng bata habang nagmumuwestra: noong Sabado raw. sagot ng bata. Maya-maya. Nagsasayang ka ng tubig.Hindi na naging alimango ang bata kahit kailan. May sumunod pang linggo’t gusto naman niyang maging palaka. Kaya pala di pa lumalabas ang bata! Ito ang kanilang naabutan pagbukas ng pinto: ang bata nakadapa sa sahig. nagpunta sila Carlo Pacolor Garcia 69 . puwede ba?” “Sige. tingnan mo. puwede ba. tinawagan niya ulit ang nanay niya sa ospital at nagtanong: “Puwede ba ’kong maging hito. “Hinahawakan sa buntot saka hinahampas ang ulo sa bato. gusto kong maging hito!” “Kung ano’ng gusto mo. Kung ako ’yon. Hinanap niya ang kanyang nanay at nang marinig ang boses nito’y nagtanong. “Nakita mo ba kung pa’no pinapatay ang hitong malilikot?” Hindi. di naman niya kaano-ano. Tinawag nila ang ate para bihisan ang bata. “Ako na. Pagkatapos ng hapunan. ang kuwento ng nanay sa tatay: “Sunog ang buong balat. ang sabi sa kanya ng tatay.

yumakap ang nanay sa tatay at nagkuwento: “Kung ako ’yon. ayoko nang mabuhay. tahimik siyang nakikinig sa bida ng nanay niya tungkol sa isang sanggol: “Akalain mo ’yon. pinapaalalahanan na lang siya lagi nitong gawin mong assignment mo at pag dumating naman ang kanyang nanay at tatay. walang ibang tunog kundi ang mahinang tibok ng kanyang puso.” Saka may kumalabog sa kuwarto ng bata na nasundan pa ng isa! Dalidaling bumangon ang nanay at tatay at ate at nang buksan nila ang ilaw. sino ba namang hindi iiyak kung hindi na makagalaw ’yong asawa mo? Lasenggero yata. Aba ’ka ko. nagpapaalam kung puwede na ba siyang magtoothbrush. “napipipi sila ’pag nasagasaan. meron bang nakasalo. Iyak nang iyak ’yong misis. Hihiga siya nang di pagod at kadalasan umaalingawngaw ang mga kuwento ng kanyang nanay hanggang sa siya’y makatulog. muntik nang sumuot ’yong sasakyan sa ilalim ng trak. Pero pinalo siya ng kanyang nanay dahil natakot ito. Hindi natamaan ang bata. ganito. Walang ibang gumagalaw maliban sa kortina. maghilamos.” ang sabi ng ate niya sa kanya. Wala ding tanong ang ate niya na “Bakit?” na gustong-gusto niya laging sinasagot. mga isang palapag yata ang taas. ate. “Masakit mamatay ’pag palaka ka. Lumipas ang ilang linggo na hindi tinawagan ng bata ang kanyang nanay para magpaalam. sinigawan siya ng kanyang tatay na hindi na siya puwedeng maging palaka. nahulog siya. hindi na muna siya isinama ng kanyang tatay sa mga lakad nito. Maaari siyang antukin dahil dito. sinindihan ng bata ang ilaw at pinagmasdan ang katahimikan ng kanyang kuwarto. ganito. mabilis ’tong dumulas sa kanyang mga kamay at di na niya nahabol dahil sa liksi nitong lumundag. Tumawa ang ate ng bata. himala!” Nang sumunod na gabi’t hindi ulit siya dalawin ng antok. Kinagabihan. nahulog! Pero buhay! Tanong ko. paghiga ng kanyang mga magulang. Dahil noong mga nakaraang Sabado. matulog. Pag-uwi niya mula sa eskuwelahan. wala raw. Sa hapagkainan isang gabi. liban sa napansin niya ang isang ipis na tumatawid sa sahig. ha. meron bang halaman o malambot na bagay. nakatulog sa manibela. sinigawan siya ng kanyang ate dahil ito ang maglilinis ng kalat. Nakita na niya ang nanay 70 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . nakita nila ang batang tumalon mula sa isang mababang estante na kasabay nitong bumagsak. wala raw. gusto mo bang mapisak?” At hindi na naging palaka ang bata kahit bukid para manghuli ng mga palaka at nang makakuha raw siya ng isa. isang taong gulang. sinasagot niya nang maayos ang kanilang mga tanong tungkol sa kanyang araw nang di masyadong gumagalaw sa kinauupuan. sinasagot ito ng po at opo.

di ngumisi. hindi raw iyon lugar para sa mga bata. gumapang siya sa may paa nito at bigla ’tong nagtitili. dinagit niya ito at bigla itong napayuko. papayagan mo ba ’kong maging ipis?” “Oo. pagdating ng kanyang ina. tinubuan siya ng antena. lumaki ang kanyang mga mata. kahit kailan. ngumiti o tumawa. sige na. di na siya masasaktan. habulin ng walis tambo para hampasin ang ipis—pero hindi ’to mamatay-matay. tinubuan pa siya ng apat na paa. mula sa sulok ng kisame. habang nagluluto ang kanyang ate. nagkukumahog itong naghanap ng tsinelas at iwinasiwas sa hangin pero hindi siya nito matamaan. hinabol siya nito ng walis tambo. maliit na siya at mabilis gumalaw. hindi sila nasasaktan.” At pagdating na pagdating ng kanyang tatay. puwede ba ’kong maging ipis?” “Bakit mo gustong maging ipis?” “Kasi hindi sila namamatay. Di maganda ang gising nila dahil sa takot at hihikab-hikab ang mga ’tong nagsipasok. hindi na sila kailangang mag-alala. nakita na niya ang ate niyang gawin iyon. hindi siya nito isinasama sa ospital. sige na. gusto kong maging ipis. di na siya mamamatay.” Nagtatalon nang nagtatalon ang bata sa tuwa! Kaya naman. Hindi napansin ng nanay ng bata na sumampa siya sa bag nito. noong hindi pa siya ipis. tinawagan ng bata ang kanyang nanay sa ospital para magpaalam: “’Nay. muntik nang mapasigaw ng saklolo. “’Tay. sinalubong niya ito ng.niyang gawin ’yon.” Nagkibit-balikat lang ang kanyang ate. inaantabayanan ang kanyang bawat pagkilos. binilot niya ang diyaryo’t pilit siyang pinaghahataw pero mabilis siyang nakatakas. nagbilot ng diyaryo para hatawin ang ipis. isa ka nang ipis. “Ate. Hindi nakapaghapunan nang maayos ang pamilya ng bata dahil di siya tumigil sa pag-aligid. nakadilat ang mga ito. kumuha ng tsinelas para pisakin ang ipis.” sabay-baba ng telepono dahil may namamatay na sa tabi nito. Hanggang sa pagtulog.” “Tanungin mong ate mo. nagbabasa ng diyaryo ang kanyang tatay. nakita na niya ang tatay niyang gawin ’yon. Walang kuwento ang nanay niya noong gabing iyon dahil panay ang tingin nito sa kisame. nagtatakbo. Noon lamang siya nakatulog nang mahimbing. Pero para sa mga ipis kaya? Paglabas niya Carlo Pacolor Garcia 71 . Kinabukasan. “Tanong mo kay tatay. tinubuan siya ng pakpak. tumawid siya sa leeg nito at bigla itong nagtatarang. gayundin ang tatay at ate niya.

Naabutan niya ang isang piging. may ibang umiiyak. tinapay na kinagatan. langaw. Tinunton ng ipis ang dilim kung saan hindi niya kailangan ng mata para makakita hanggang sa makalabas siya sa isa pang butas at nasilaw siya ng liwanag. sagutin ang tanong na bakit. Dahan-dahan niyang inakyat ang basurahan at pumasok siya sa isang siwang. Pero ano ito? Muntik na siyang maapakan ng makikintab na sapatos. lahat may inaasikaso. hanggang sa makarating siya sa isang buto ng pige ng manok na may nakasabit pang laman at tatlong ipis ang ngumingima. langgam. muntik na siyang maispreyan ng disinfectant! Nagtago siya sa isang sulok. 72 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . at di lamang iyon. gusto na niyang umuwi at maglaro. may ibang naghihingalo. may ibang nalalagutan ng hininga. Nakaramdam siya bigla nang matinding lungkot. Dali-dali siyang dinala ng kanyang mga paa sa silong ng likod ng isang basurahan kung saan paroo’t parito ang sanlaksang ipis. maging mga daga. muntik na siyang magulungan ng kama’t wheelchair. noon niya nakita ang iba pang tulad niya. sumuot sa isang butas at nang tumingin siya sa dilim. muntik na siyang mawalis. Noon lang niya naalala na hindi pa pala siya kumakain. babolgam. Ito ang una niyang kagat. Lumakad siya sa ibabaw ng isang tisyu na puno ng sipon. tahimik lang silang nanginginain. Styrofoam na mayroon pang lamang kape. maging iba nang hayop. walang nakapansin sa kanya. sapal ng mangga. At hindi na siya naging bata kahit kailan. Pero wala sa mga ito ang sumagot. toothpick na may tinga. at ang di niya inaasahang katakutan. “Puwede ba ’kong makikain?” tanong niya sa mga ito. mga hayop na nakalimutan niyang maging. lahat nag-uusap ng mata sa mata. Mabait siyang bag. Mga hayop na sa pakiwari niya’y di rin namamatay. Noon niya nahinuhang hindi na niya kailangang magpaalam—at lalo nang hindi na niya kailangang maging mabait. gusto na niyang magpaalam: “Puwede na ba ’kong maging bata ulit?” Pero wala sa kanila ang sumagot.

mainit na mainit sa Gitnang-araw. pero Hulyo pa lang ay bumubuhos na sa kalsada ang kasabikan ng buong pook. bumabaha ang lansangan at ginagawang swimming pool ng mga bata ang kulay pusali na tubig. Nagdarasal naman ang nanay niyang si Wendy na madapuan ng suwerte—maka-jackpot sana sa lotto. Parehong nangangarap ang mag-ina ng mas magandang bukas. Tuwing tag-ulan. at iba pa. Pumapatak sa Agusto 4 ang Pista ng Gitnang-araw. lubak-lubak ang kalsada maliban kung malapit na ang eleksiyon. pagkain sa mesa. pinatitigas at pinakikinang ang lahat ng tagarito. Simple lang ang panalangin ng mga tagarito: maaliwalas na buhay. Tuwing panahon ng pista. patron ng Gitnang-araw at mga dalubtala.” Oras-oras din ang traffic dahil sa gitna ng kalsada nagbababa ang mga jeepney. parang matinding apoy sa pandayan. Dito. sari-sari store. halos hindi na makausod ang nagsisiksikang bahay. Nananalangin naman ang tanyag na pintor na si Boy Tulay ng inspirasyon para sa kanyang susunod na obra. Walang patawad ang tanghaling-tapat. kapatawaran sa kanilang mga sala. May eskinitang laging tinatambakan ng basura sa tapat ng babalang “Bawal magtambak ng basura dito gago. Nangangarap si Boy Tulay na 73 . o mapadaan sa bahay nila ang game show host na nagpapamudmod ng pera—para mapagaral niya ang kaniyang nag-iisang anak. inuunahan ng mga lelang na naka-daster ang tandang sa pagtalak. napupuno ang simbahan ng mga panalangin kay Santo Domingo de Guzman Garces. junkshop. Sa taong ito. nagdarasal ang batang si Agustus na makapag-aral. Tuwing tag-init. tulad ng nakaraan.Gitnang-Araw Mixkaela Villalon P amilyar ang daan papuntang Gitnang-araw. at beterano sa pagsingit ang mga tricycle at pedicab. Dito. at matinong signal ng cellphone. Kamakailan kasi ay natagpuan niya ang dalagang mamahalin niya habang-buhay. at madalas magbasagan ng bote ang mga lasing sa videoke. manalo sa kontest. Binabasag naman ng sintunadong pagkanta ang gabi. bakery. Sa umaga.

” reklamo ng batang nawalan ng baon. At dahil alam ng lahat na dalawang subo lang ang layo ng pulubi sa kawatan. sa pusod ng semento. Isasabay sa araw ng pista ang pagpapatayo ng rebulto ni Tonio sa bungad ng Pook. Hindi man matataas ang mga bahay sa Pook Gitnang-araw. Wala kasing sariling baon si Tonio at madalas siyang manghingi sa katabi. Pero ang tunay na nakapagpalapit ng loob ng kaniyang mga kapitbahay ay ang hilig ni Toniong magpakamartir. aspalto.makalikha ng napakagandang sining na pag-uusapan ng buong Pook at magsisilbing simbolo ng kanyang pag-ibig. Samantala. Ito pa naman ang unang pista na wala sa piling niya ang kaniyang anak. libag. Saan man ang anak niya ngayon. siya ang napagbintangan. nakabibingi ang ingay ng mga nagsusumamong pangarap. Gustuhin man niya. “Hindi yung tig-pipisong pandesal. hindi siya makapag-alay ng bulaklak sa Santo dahil kasalukuyan siyang nakakulong sa Muntinlupa. kinilala siya ng pangulo ng bansa bilang makabagong bayaning Filipino. tiyak na sumasayad sa langit ang mga pangarap ng mga tagarito. Maging si Balbas na siga ng Pook Gitnang-araw ay nagdarasal. Sakto sa araw ng Pista ang araw ng kanyang pagbitay. nangangarap pa rin si Tonio ng manit na sabaw at isang bandehadong kanin. buhol-buhol na kable ng koryente. Ginuaco Si Tonio Ginuaco ang paboritong kapitbahay ng lahat ng naninirahan sa Pook Gitnang-araw. para bang hindi niya kayang mag-isip ng masama sa kaniyang kapuwa. ha? Yung tig-tatlong piso at may palaman na tuna. Simpleng tao lang si Tonio. Nangangarap si Balbas ng kapatawaran at kinabukasan— maaliwalas man o hindi—basta’t naroon siya’t humihinga. Malumanay magsalita at maamo ang mukha. tiyak na dudumugin ng mga kapitbahay ang kaniyang karinderya.” 74 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . Nitong huling linggo. 1. halos walang panahon si Aling Taptap magdasal dahil sa paghahanda niya para sa araw ng Pista. ipinagdarasal ni Aling Taptap na ligtas ito at hindi nagugutom. Sa kabila nito. napagbintangan siyang nagnakaw ng pandesal na baon ng seatmate niya sa eskuwela. “Malaki pa naman ’yon. Bilang pinakamahusay na kusinera ng Gitnang-araw. Hindi tiyak kung ugali ni Tonio Ginuaco ang magdasal pero tila nasagot na ang mga panalangin niya. Sa gitna ng walangpatid na ingay ng lansangan. at kalawang ng Pook na nagbibilang ng petsa bago ang araw ng Pista. Noong nag-aaral pa si Tonio.

Nakakaadik ang pakiramdam. ninenok ang ilang kahon ng sardinas. Kumain pa siya ng chalk kaysa umamin. Eto pa. at sampung piso. Habang iba’t ibang bersiyon ng nangyari ang naglipana. ha? Kumakain pa raw ng bubog ’yon. Dahil likas na usisero ang mga taga-Gitnang-araw. nakalimutan ipasok sa bag ng alaga. Naiwan lang pala ito sa bahay. pinakain siya ng chalk. at dito siya masaya.” sabi ng guro pagkaupo ni Tonio. a.k. Tonio. puwede palang maging kung sinong magaling at matapang. nakasanayan ni Tonio na umamin sa lahat ng kamalian sa paligid niya. “Ay hindi mo na uulitin. Tonio.“Tell the truth. Bilang sagot. Nagkibit-balikat ang guro at ipinabalik si Tonio sa upuan. at ipinamigay sa mga kapitbahay. “Si Tonio G.” “Si Tonio Ginuaco. pinipitik. Nagbinata si Tonio na pasan ang lahat ng kasalanan ng mundo.” kuwento nila. Kalahati yata ng buong Pook ang nandoon. hard core talaga. naihi si Tonio sa shorts. tahimik lang si Tonio na pinagagalitan ng guro. Pagkatapos. E nagmatigas. nagnakaw ng tatlong pandesal. “Si Tonio. Ang patpatin at tahimik na Tonio Ginuaco. nahihiya sa sasabihin ng iba tungkol sa kanyang “pagnakaw.” bulong ng mga estudyante sa isa’t isa sa loob ng CR. Tonio Gangster. Magmula noon. si Tonio lang ang nangahas umamin. anak ng magnanakaw.” Pagdating ng kuwento sa mga tambay sa labas ng paaralan. agad pinuntahan ni Tonio Mixkaela Villalon 75 . Pero nag-iba ang kuwento sa bawat labing madapuan nito. Inakyat daw ang warehouse ng delata sa labas ng Pook. di ba?” Nakayuko si Tonio na lumabas ng paaralan.” Laking gulat niya nang sinalubong siya ng palakpakan paglabas niya ng eskuwelahan. “Ayaw aminin. kaya pinakain ng chalk. Halos lahat sila’y gustong makipagkamay sa bata. Nang manakaw ang TV sa karinderya na gabigabing dinudumog ng mga kapitbahay.a. “Maski pandesal at de-lata. nadiskubre ni Tonio ang kakaibang pakiramdam ng walang-sala pero napagbibintangan. isang lata ng tuna. “Ang mahalaga. kumalat palabas ng classroom ang balita ng nangyari kay Tonio..” usap-usapan naman ng mga guro sa faculty room. Bago matapos ang araw ng eskuwela. Pinag-uusapan siya ng lahat. tulirong dumating ang isang yaya na dala-dala ang nawawalang pandesal. Nang maputulan ng koryente ang buong Pook.” utos ng guro matapos kaladkarin si Tonio sa harapan ng classroom. nag-aapiran pa. Mula sa karanasang iyon. Nang mawala ang dalagang anak ni Aling Taptap. nakarinig ng kagitingan ni Tonio. dahil raw ito kay Tonio. bidang-bida na si Tonio.

nahihiya sa sasabihin ng ibang tao. Hindi nila matiis na ibigay kay Tonio sintu-sinto ang puri ng kanilang pinaghirapang krimen. Tinawag siyang “Slumdog Criminal Mastermind” ng mga pahayagan dahil sumuko man siya sa mga awtoridad. Hindi nagtagal. Tonio. “Big break mo na ’to. Detalyado ang pagkuwento ni Tonio kay Aling Taptap kung paano niya binigyan ng sopdrinks na may halong pampatulog ang dalaga. halos wala nang maniwala kay Tonio tuwing umaako siya ng mga kasalanan. at naka-upload sa Friendster. pinuntahan ni Tonio ang estasyon ng pulis. Inaresto nila si Tonio sa kabila ng dalawampung testigo na sumusumpang hindi siya ang nangholdap.” sabi ni Aling Taptap. Kumbinsido sa wakas. Umuwi ka na nga. tawang-tawa sa pagkahulog ni Ginuaco mula sa kaniyang pedestal. Hindi rin matagpuan sa bahay ni Tonio ang perang ninakaw pero idineklara ng hepe ng pulis na tagumpay ng hustisya at karangalan ng Pulis Maynila ang pag-aresto kay Tonio Ginuaco. dahil may nakita si Wendy na ibang taong umaaligid kay Boy Tulay bago mangyari ang krimen. Sumunod sa bawat hakbang niya ang alingawngaw ng mga preso. mag-isang nakapagholdap ng bangko. “Oo na. nasa TV at diyaryo. kuha sa sariling cellphone.” sabi niya. at ngayon ay pinag-uusapan ng buong bansa. Nakayukong lumabas si Tonio mula sa kulungan. at sapat na iyon sa mga imbestigador. tinadtad niya ang katawan at hinalo sa adobo. Ipinakilala ng hepe ng pulis si Tonio sa ilang kilalang personalidad ng panahon. Ang patpatin at tahimik na si Tonio Ginuaco. “Ako’ng may gawa. Simula noon. sinugod ng Asong Ulol Gang ang presinto at galit na sinabing sila ang nangholdap ng bangko. natagpuan sa ilalim ng headline ng bawat diyaryo ang mahiyaing ngiti ni Tonio Ginuaco.” sabi ni bahay ng Ale para sabihin na siya ang dumakip sa dalaga. Mabuti na lang at nariyan ang Pulis Maynila at ang mahaba nilang listahan ng mga hindi malutas na krimen. Pero imposibleng siya. 76 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . Gin’wako. Bahagyang nagkagulo sa presinto dahil ayaw ni Tonio mapalaya. Kinabukasan. at nang mawalan ng malay. sinabi ni Tonio na siya ang may sala. Nagsisigaw siya doon ng “Gin’wako! Ako! Ako ang gumawa!” Napilitan tuloy ang Asong Ulol Gang na maglabas ng ebidensiya—mga litrato nilang mayhawak ng mga baril at nanghoholdap ng bangko. pinalaya ng mga pulis si Tonio.” Nang naholdap ang malaking bangko malapit sa Pook. Nang masaksak si Boy Tulay sa may paaralan. walang may alam kung saan niya itinago ang pera. “Gin’wako. Hindi masukat ang kalungkutan ni Tonio Ginuaco noon. “Gin’wako.

at gamit na mga balota. “Gin’wako. Tuwing panahon ng Pista. maghuhuramentado ang mga hurado. Sa tulong ng hepe ng pulis. at bakit tumataas ang presyo ng pamasahe halos kada-buwan. Mabuti na lang at walang paligsahan ng pinakamadayang negosyante sa Gitnang-araw. huwad na dokumento. Wala man siyang diploma. “for exemplary services to the country. Mumurahin nila ang kalangitan. kataka-taka kung bakit lagi rin siyang nakakalaya sa bilangguan. Ang tahimik na si Tonio Ginuaco. Dahil isinasabuhay umano ni Tonio ang mabuting ugali ng pagsasabi ng totoo. at reporter. laging inuuwi ni Balbas ang First Place sa paligsahan ng palakihan ng tiyan. Hindi nakapagtapos ng pag-aaral si Balbas pero matalino siya. Mag-isa niyang pinatay ang napakaraming magsasaka. balde-baldeng droga. Luluha sila’t maghihinagpis dahil sa dami ng sasaling mandarayang negosyante. Siya ang rason kaya palaging traffic sa EDSA. pinarangalan siya bilang makabagong bayaning Filipino. ngayon ay kilalang tao na. Shabs Small-time drug dealer si Balbas. huwag kang tatakbo.” sagot ni Tonio sa lahat ng ibintang sa kaniya. Sa dami ng mga krimeng inako ni Tonio. “’Pag nalagay ka sa alanganin. Pasan ni Tonio sa kaniyang mga balikat ang ugat ng kahirapan sa bayang Pilipinas.” 2. makikilala siya sa kaniyang malaki at bilog na tiyan na resulta ng madalas na pag-inom ng bilog sa tindahan.” payo ni Balbas kay Boy Tulay minsan. Lagi namang Second at Third Place lang ang tinyente at hepe ng Pulis Maynila. aktibista. Iskolar siya ng mga kalsada ng Gitnang-araw.Tony. Doon malalaman na walang matapat na tao sa Pook Gitnang-araw. Maliban sa kaniyang makapal na balbas. nasa honor roll siya kasama ng mga Magna(nakaw) at Suma(sampa sa gate) cum laude ng lansangan. inaabot sa kaniya ang mga pekeng passport. Mula huwes hanggang barangay tanod. Isasabay sa araw ng Pista ng pook ang paggawad sa kaniya ng Lungsod ng Maynila ng rebultong itatayo sa bungad ng Gitnang-araw. “Gin’wako.” sabi ng hepe. Mixkaela Villalon 77 . habang nag-iinuman sa karinderya ni Aling Taptap.” laging sabi ni Tonio habang pumipirma ng autograph o testimonya. gustong makipagkamay at magpa-picture kasama si Tonio Ginuaco. Siya ang mastermind ng mga kompanyang sangkot sa pyramid scheme. dumami ang mga kaibigan ni Tonio sa gobyerno. Sakaling mayroon.

shabu na may dinurog na Cherifer. ang shabu ni Balbas—may flavor. Imbes na makipagbakbakan o tumakbo paalis. Balbas’s flavored shabu. 78 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . “Mami. nakakita si Balbas ng oportunidad na ipagbuti ang kanyang negosyo.” isip ni Balbas. Sa sampung pisong droga na hihithitin. Habang lumalaki ang merkado ng shabu ni Balbas. Para sa mga nagda-diet. babad naman sa pawis ng kilikili niya ang naiuwing droga. Para sa mga bata. hindi nila matapatan ang inobasyon ni Balbas. sisenta porsiyento lang ang tunay na shabu. inipit ni Balbas ang ilang pakete ng shabu sa kilikili niya at nagkunwaring napadaan lang sa lugar na iyon. hinahaluan ni Balbas ng dinurog na asin ang ibinebentang shabu. Sa kongkretong kagubatan ng lungsod. Pumipito pa siya sa sarili habang naglalakad palayo. Nagtutungo sa ibang bansa ang malalaking drug dealer para hindi sila tiktikan ng pulis. Sinubukan niyang haluin ang shabu sa iba’t ibang sangkap na mahahanap sa kusina. Lasang asin (at marahil kilikili). Dekalidad daw ito at malakas ang tama. nagkakaroon ng iba’t ibang demographic ang mga suki niya. isusumbong ako sa pulis?” Hindi nagtagal. whooh! Kahit nang magsibalikan ang mga big-time na drug dealer sa Pook. para siguradong tatangkad. abot-langit ang presyo ng shabu. Splendaflavored shabu. iisa lang ang batas: ang batas ng supply at demand. bisto ang ilang malalaking tao— ang kumpare ni senador. Tuwing nagkaka-raid. At eto pa. Cool na cool ang itsura. ang may-ari ng estayon sa TV—at si Balbas sa gitna ng barilan. Dahil dito. cool ka lang. Dito nakakita si Balbas ng pagkakataong ibenta ang kakarampot niyang droga.“Pagka natutukan ka ng baril.” Natutuhan ni Balbas ang leksiyong ito nang minsang natunugan ng mga pulis na magkakaroon ng malaking bentahan ng shabu sa garahe ng isang kilalang bus liner. kinahiligan ng mga adik ng Gitnang-araw ang shabu ni Balbas. Para sa mga may diabetes. minsan asukal. Minsan asin. Para sa mga binata’t binatilyo. Ano ba’ng gagawin nila. Nag-eksperimento pa si Balbas. Kumokonti tuloy ang droga sa lansangan pero hindi nagbabago ang dami ng mga adik. “Mga adik lang naman ang dinadaya ko. Para maparami ang benta at para na rin takpan ang anghit ng kilikili sa kaniyang produkto. shabu-lite (70 porsiyento less shabu). May pagpipilian na ang mga adik na sweet o salty. Unang natetepok ’yung mabilis nerbyosin. hinahaluan ni Balbas ng Tang orange juice ang shabu. sabi ng mga adik. wala na bang Tang!” sigaw ng mga bulilit na nanginginig at nangingisay sa tuwa. “Okey lang. Nang i-raid ang garahe.

ano na lang ang mangyayari sa mga bata?” “’Wag kayong mag-alala. Baka dumami pa kakompetensiya ko. Mas mabuting maging mga doktor at abogado na lang ang mga bata. isip ng mga kapitbahay. habang sumisirko-sirko ang mga mata sa likod ng mamahaling shades. Madali lang pala intindihin ang mga Inglesero kapag may tama na. mabuting tao naman si Balbas. Dahil karamihan sa kaniyang mga customer ay taga-Gitnang-araw.” sumbong ng principal ng paaralan ng Gitnang-araw nang minsang magawi sa bahay ni Balbas “Kulang talaga ang ibinibigay na pondo para sa mga public school. basta hindi madamot. ma’am” sabi ni Balbas. Spectacular. Carnivalesque. konting rugby) sa kaniyang negosyo. “This must be the best shabs in town.” bungisngis ni Balbas. Postmodern. Sa dami ng shabu na ibinebenta niya. Ano ngayon kung drug dealer.Naging kilala at malaking tao sa Pook Gitnang-araw si Balbas.” “S’ya nga?” ani Balbas na nagbibilang ng perang i-donate sa paaralan. Hindi madamot si Balbas sa kaniyang pera. pero hindi rin siya naisusumbong sa pulis.” “Ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan. Nagdagdag na rin siya ng student discount (P9. Tuluyang dumami ang bagong customer ni Balbas. It is comparable to sipping the finest French wine grown in the orchards of Madrid. Hindi niya sinikreto mula sa mga kapitbahay ang kaniyang negosyo. “You will not believe the phantasmagoric sights I have seen under the influence. may libreng kape at tinapay ang mga manggagawa tuwing breaktime kapalit ang pagbababad ng droga sa kanilang pawisang kilikili. “I agree.” sabi ng isang konyong dayo mula sa Golden Apples Subdivision. Icky. natural lang na magbalk si Balbas sa kaniyang Pook. Mister Balbas.” “True dat. Nilapitan ni Balbas ang mga obrero na nagtatrabaho sa itinatayong mall sa labas ng pook. in Morocco.” sambit ng kasamang edukado habang humihithit ng shabu mula sa aluminum foil.50 sa halip na P10 kada higop) at value pack promo (konting shabu. icky poo. “Si Rizal pa ang nagsabi noon.” sabi ng tricycle driver habang nagpapahid ng mapungay na mga mata. “Budget cut na naman po. Masama sa negosyo. “Ako’ng bahala. Number one sa akin ang edukasyon ng mga bata. poknat. hindi niya kayang ibabad ang lahat sa kaniyang kilikili. Sa bahay ni Balbas. Bakit pa. Mixkaela Villalon 79 . Kung ipapasara ang eskuwelahan.” wika ng principal. “Ayoko lang dumami ang drop-out sa Gitnang-araw.

Wala ni kurot ng shabu sa buong bahay ni Balbas. 80 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . Para raw maalala siya ng kaniyang mga kapitbahay. nalamang asin. Pakonti nang pakonti ang dami ng shabu kompara sa mga hinahalo niya para magkalasa. Kahit walang mahanap na ebidensiya ng droga. Higit sa lahat. arestado pa rin bilang drug dealer si Balbas sa kabila ng pagpupumilit ni Tonio Ginuaco na siya ang may sala. Nag-unahan ang mga TV station sa exclusive rights ng nationwide live telecast ng pagbitay ni Balbas. Nangako naman ang Ajinomoto. at kung paano ito pararamihin. Kahit daw ’yung mga hindi nagshashabu. Tang orange juice. mahirap. nagsasama-sama? Nagbibigayan? Dito lang sa bahay ko.” paliwanag ni Balbas minsan sa sanlaksang adik na araw-araw tumatambay sa bahay niya para humithit. hindi droga ang ibinebenta ko. Kung sino man ang nagreklamo tungkol sa negosyo ni Balbas. bumibisita doon. nagbabakasakaling makakita ng artista o kung sinong bigtime tulad ni Ginuaco. naging singkuwenta. Nahuli sa akto ang higit dalawampung adik na humihithit.” Mabuti man ang adhikain ni Balbas. asukal. di ba? Saan kayo nakakita ng bata. Ni-raid ng malaking puwersa ng Pulis Maynila ang bahay ni Balbas. at kung ano-anong legal na kasangkapan lang ang ginagamit. mabanggit man lang ang pangalan niya habang nag-iinuman. “Kung droga lang ang habol ninyo. hindi na mahalaga. Pera pa rin ang laging nasa isip. Nang imbestigahan kung ano ang hinihithit. Hinatulan si Balbas ng pagbitay. Kung ganoon. Patuloy naman ang pagdami ng mga customer ni Balbas. Tinaguriang “the place to be” ang kaniyang bahay kapag nagawi sa Pook Gitnang-araw. Ngunit walang bahagharing nagtatagal. Mabuti na lang at naging masugid niyang customer ang anak ng huwes. para marami-rami ang magpunta sa simbahan at mabingi ng mga dasal si San Pedro habang sinasampa ni Balbas ang gate ng langit. Tapos kuwarenta. SM Bonus Sugar. mayaman. maraming nagbebenta diyan. Nakapag-apila pa siya na itapat sa araw ng Pista ng Pook Gitnang-araw ang kaniyang pagbitay. ang ibinebenta ko ay ang tunay na diwa ng pagkakaisa. Ang minsang sisenta porsiyentong shabu. dugong negosyante pa rin ang dumadaloy sa kaniyang mga ugat. Pero nan’dito kayo para sa ambiance.“Kung tutuusin. matanda. at Tang orange juice na magiging official sponsors ng telecast at ng Pista ng Pook Gitnang-araw bilang pasasalamat sa pagtangkilik ng mga adik sa kanilang mga produkto.

magagaling kumanta. dala-dala ang mga bahay ng posporo na pinagtataguan ng mga mandirigmang alaga. Doon. Basketball player naman ang anak ni Rechel. Kapag nanalo.” dasal ni Agustus sa Santo. Emperador Mahal na mahal ni Wendy ang anak niyang si Agustus. Nagpalakpakan ang mga guro at kaklaseng babae na nakasaksi sa hiwaga ng buhay. wala silang binatbat kay Agustus. best in science sa eskuwela. Pinangalanang Agustus ang bata.” Ang anak ni Bebang mananahi. “Kung anumang grasya ang dapat napunta sa akin. Naisip ni Wendy na mas mabuting maging dalagang-ina mag-isa kaysa matali sa binatang hindi pa handang maging ama. may hati ang mga bata Mixkaela Villalon 81 . Iyon ang una at huling araw na nakatungtong si Agustus sa paaralan. Ipinanganak si Agustus sa ibabaw ng teacher’s table. Pero para kay Wendy. Kani-kaniya ang mga bata sa paghahanap ng kakamping jeepney driver na pupusta sa kanila. Pitong taong gulang na siya ngayon at hindi pa sumisikat ang araw na umandap ang pagmamahal ng nanay niya sa kaniya. Bakat kasi sa mukha ng lalaki ang takot. Simula nang nakapaglakad mag-isa si Agustus. Sa may karinderyang kinakainan ng mga jeepney driver tumatambay si Agustus. “Tulungan n’yo pong matupad ang lahat ng pangarap ni Agustus. Ang kambal ni Tanya. Lubha itong ipinagmamalaki ni Wendy. “Sana po mahanap ko si Papa.” dasal naman ni Wendy. na pangalan din ng emperador ng Roma na pinag-aaralan ng klase sa araw na iyon.3. siya pa rin ang kasalukuyan at hindi pa natatalong kampeon ng labanan ng gagamba sa buong Pook. Doon nagkikita ang mga bata ng Pook. nagaalay ang bata ng bagong pitas na mga bulaklak sa altar ni Santo Domingo. habang nagsanduguan ang mga kaklaseng lalaki na hinding-hindi na makikipag-sex. pero si Wendy ang tumanggi. High school pa lang si Wendy nang mabuntis ng boyfriend. Ipinatawag ng guro si Aling Taptap na hindi lamang may-ari ng karinderya kundi kumadrona rin ng Pook Gitnang-araw. nakikinood ng labanan ng gagamba. kasama ng maikling panalangin. Hindi man nakapagaral si Agustus. sa gitna ng history class. taon-taon itong sinasamahan ni Wendy sa simbahan tuwing palapit ang Pista. ibigay n’yo na lang po sa kaniya. Pananagutan naman daw siya ng lalaki.

puno ng liwanag ang mukha—liwanag ng lightpost na kasalukuyang kinakabitan ng jumper ng mga kapitbahay. kasimbilis ng kidlat ang pangyayari. kailangan muna ni Agustus ng sarili niyang pambato. Mabagal. masyadong maliit si Papa. Limang Papa siguro ang katumbas nito. tantiyado ang galaw. Ibinibigay nila sa mga magulang ang napapanalunang pera. “Laking Gitnang-araw. Pero nanatili lang ito sa kaniyang dulo ng tingting. Pabalato raw sa hindi pa nababahirang rekord ni Agustus. nakikilala siya ng mga jeepney driver bilang ina ni Agustus.” sabi ni Boy Tulay kay Agustus. Kadalasan ay nalilibre pa ang pamasahe ni Wendy. Tahimik ang mga manonood. Kahit mga bata ay may papel sa pagtakbo ng Pook. 82 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento .sa pusta. Matapang nga ang gagambang nahanap ng bata.” tukso ni Balbas na nakikinood sa labanan. Unang hinamon ni Agustus ang kapitbahay na si Buknoy at ang alaga niyang gagambang bayabas (dahil nahanap ito sa puno ng bayabas). mahaba ang mga paa.” sabi ni Agustus isang gabi. “Baka matapakan n’yo si Tyson. Nang magkaharap na ang dalawang gagamba.” “Dapat pala Pacquiao ang pangalan n’yang alaga mo. Mukhang paniki si Tyson na nakabitin patiwarik sa patpat ng walis tingting. Para makasali sa labanan ng gagamba. Nagmamadaling ipakita ni Agustus ang bagong alaga sa pinakamatalinong tao na kilala niya.” sabi ni Aling Taptap. Malaki ang gagamba ni Buknoy. Hindi ito gumagalaw. umatras na ito. “Walang gagalaw!” natatarantang sigaw ni Buknoy. Nakadiskubre siya ng gagambang gumawa ng sapot sa likod ng kabinet ng nanay niya. champion sa labanan ng gagamba.” sabi niya kay Agustus. Matapang. si Aling Taptap. tuloy-tuloy na ang pagkapanalo ni Agustus at Papa. “Nanay. gusto kong maging astronot paglaki. “Ito si Tyson. Maliit lang ito at kulay brown. “Gagambang pitik ’to. Gumapang papalapit si Tyson kay Papa. Ganito ang gawi sa Gitnang-araw. Kasinlaki lang ng kuko sa hinlalaki ng matanda ang gagamba. Isang pitik lang ng paa ni Papa. “Papa” ang ipinangalan ni Agustus dito. Lumilipad naman sa ulap ang puso ni Wendy tuwing nakikilala ng ibang tao ang ningning ni Agustus. talsik sa tingting si Tyson. Sa kabilang dulo ng tingting. Simula noon. “Nanigas na ’tong isa.” pakilala ni Buknoy sa alaga. “Hu!” kolektibong bulalas ng tulalang manonood. Tuwing sumasakay siya ng jeep. Kung ibang gagamba siguro si Papa.

“We would like to give him corporate sponsorship. and your mother has to sign this contract. Gusto raw ito ng bata. na binabasa ang kontrata ng businessman. Tumawa ang businessman. Pila-balde ang mga batang nagpahiram ng kanikanilang mga alagang gagamba bilang sparring partner ni Papa. “My good woman. may bumisitang lalaki sa bahay ng mag-ina. Nagpakilala ang lalaki bilang representante ng mga businessmen na nakarinig sa potensiyal ni Agustus at kaniyang gagamba.” sagot ng Ingleserong lalaki. “Pangarap. Masama ang kutob niya sa mga taong mahilig mag-Ingles kahit wala naman sa States. why would you need insurance? What could you possibly have that needs to be insured?” “Ewan. “Kaya n’yo po ba akong gawing astronot?” tanong ni Agustus sa businessman.” sagot ni Wendy. at dinumog din ito ng mga taga-Pook para makiusyoso at para kupitan ang mga dayuhan. and a car that goes just as fast. “You’ll need a spaceship for that. All you have to do is win the spider-fighting tournaments. kahit hindi niya tiyak kung ano ang astronot. ’Yon lang ang meron kami.” Ayaw sana pumayag ni Wendy. “We can give you a house as big as a spaceship. pero tiyak na hindi naintindihan ng businessman ang kaniyang sinasabi. “There is an international spider fighting tournament next month.” lambing pabalik ni Wendy. Kumalat sa Pook ang balita na pambato ng Pilipinas si Agustus sa magaganap na kontest. Na-iinsure ba ’yon?” tanong niya. siguro. Idinaos ang tournament sa buong buwan ng Hulyo. Galing daw siya sa Golden Apples Subdivision. Si Agustus lang ang nagpumilit.” sabi ng lalaki kay Wendy.” “Wala bang insurance ’to?” tanong ni Wendy. Pinirmahan na lang ni Wendy ang kontrata alang-alang sa pangarap ni Agustus. We would like your son to join.“Ipagdasal natin kay Santo Domingo. He will bring honor and hope to the country. “Magiging ’stronot din siya. Kahit maiwang baldado ang kanilang mga alaga. Buong-lakas na sinuportahan ng Gitnang-araw ang bulilit nilang kampeon. Baligho ang mga pangungusap at hindi pamilyar kay Wendy ang mga salitang Ingles. “E si Papa?” tanong ng bata. karangalan na rin ang makaharap ang tandem nina Agustus at Papa sa kabilang dulo ng tingting. Sa tabi ng papag ng mag-ina natutulog si Papa sa kanyang bahay ng posporo. sa basketball court ng Pook Gitnang-araw. Nagdagsaan dito ang mga foreigner para makilahok o makinood.” sabi ni Wendy. Minsan. Mixkaela Villalon 83 .

At kung may isang bagay na likas na magaling ang mga taga-Gitnang-araw. Umaga ng huling pagtutuos: Philippines versus Brazil. Tuloy-tuloy na ang pagkapanalo ni Agustus. ganyan ang itsura ng aming mga gagamba. “Kung natatakot kayo lumaban. tinatahi ni Wendy ang uniporme ng anak para sa unang araw niya sa eskuwelahan. pinatalsik na ni Papa ang alakdan. Ninakaw pa niya ang watawat ng Pilipinas mula sa paaralan para isampay sa balikat ni Agustus. Default naman ang pagkapanalo ni Agustus nang hindi sumipot ang pambato ng Amerika na si Spiderman. Halos walang nakapansin sa misteryosong anino ni Batman na laging umaaligid at sumusunod kay Boy Tulay saanman siya magpunta. Nagtipon ang mga tao sa basketball court para panoorin ang makasaysayang labanan. ito ang mahigpit na pagkapit sa patalim. habang mahimbing na natutulog si Agustus. Paano pa at itinapat sa unang linggo ng Agosto ang huling laban ni Agustus. pati na rin ng bahay at lupa para sa kanilang mag-ina kapag nanalo si Agustus sa Finals. Sa gabi.” sabi naman ni Agustus.” sabi ng Tsino. bago ang huling laban. “Putris. Nasa dulo na ng patpat ng walis tingting si Papa. Nagpalakpakan ang mga jeepney driver. adik. Agustus and Papa!” pahayag ni Boy Tulay pagkatapos ng laban. at pormal na sinimulan ang laban. “In dis corner. alakdan na ’yan e!” “Sa China. tambay. Pusta ng mga taga-Gitnangaraw na wala nang pipigil pa sa kanilang kampeon. Wala pang limang segundo. kundi sa kung gaano kahigpit ang kapit sa tingting. Sunod na tinalo ng Team Gitnang-araw ang Egyptian Camel Spider. “Foul!” sigaw ni Boy Tulay mula sa gilid ng basketball court bago magsimula ang susunod na laban. at sari-saring lumpen ng Pook. Sa bisperas pa mismo ng Pista ng Gitnang-araw nataon ang Finals. Nasa lalamunan na ang puso ni Wendy. Hindi bale kahit gaano pa kalaki ang pambato ng kalaban. 84 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . weying kalahating sako ng bigas. Pinangakuan ng businessman mula sa Golden Apples Subdivision si Wendy ng scholarship para sa kaniyang anak.Binuksan ni Agustus at Papa ang contest sa pagkapanalo nila laban kay Watsuhiro ng Japan at ang kanyang Yakuza spider. kampyon ng Pook Gitnang-araw. Pinatunayan ni Agustus at Papa na wala sa laki ang labanan. Philippines versus China na. Aksidente itong napukpok ng tubo ni Balbas sa pag-aakalang taga-Meralco ito at nasa bubong ng bahay niya para putulan siya ng koryente.” “Walang inuurungan si Papa. at di hamak na mas malaki ang pambato ng Intsik. magprotesta kayo.

“Papa!” iyak ni Agustus na hinding-hindi na magiging astronot. “Pati ba naman pinto ng bahay ko.” bulong ni Aling Taptap sa sarili nang makita ang huling obra ng pintor. “Gin’wako. Kung saan-saan din makikita ang ibang gawa ni Boy Tulay. 4. kaya niyang pagtiisan ang kulay itim o asul o ano pa man. pipitik ng pintura sa construction site. BOY TULAY GUWAPONG TUNAY BOY TULAY PINTOR NA MAHUSAY BOY TULAY AY-HAYHAY-HAY Tuwing gabi lang nakakapagtrabaho si Boy Tulay.Pinakawalan ng Brazilyano ang pambato niyang Brazilian Spider Monkey. Mas mabilis pa sa pagpitik. hindi pinatawad. Konting shot ng gin. Tugma Pula ang paboritong kulay ni Boy Tulay. Minsan sa overpass. konting gulong ng shabu ni Balbas.” taas-kamay na sinabi ni Tonio Ginuaco mula sa hanay ng mga nanonood. dahandahan ang pagtulo ng luha sa pisngi ni Wendy. hinablot ng unggoy mula sa tingting ang gagamba ni Agustus at kinain nang hindi man lang ngumunguya. minsan sa MRT. “Hu!” kolektibong bulalas ng tulalang manonood. madali lang malaman kung sino ang may-akda. Canvas niya ang buong Pook. Pero kapag walang ibang pagpipilian. Isang tingin lang ng mga tao sa gawa niya. Tanyag ang mga obra ni Boy Tulay sa buong Pook Gitnang-araw. Habang ngumingisi at pumapalakpak ang unggoy ng Brazilyano.” BOY TULAY GUWAPONG TUNAY sigaw ng pulang pintura sa pinto ng bahay ni Aling Taptap. Hindi naman masyadong nabahala si Boy Mixkaela Villalon 85 . Marka kasi ng magaling na pintor ang pagpili ng pinakaangkop na kulay. Gabi nagtatrabaho si Boy Tulay dahil babatutain daw siya ng pulis kapag nahuling nagpipinta sa mga pader. Lahat ng bakanteng pader na makita niya. pati mga pinto ng pampublikong palingkuran ay nagiging espasyo ng kaniyang sining. alam agad na si Boy Tulay ang may-akda. At siyempre. Matingkad kasi ito sa mata. “’Tang inang Boy Tulay ’yan. at siya’y handa na. Gabi kasi madalas dumapo ang inspirasyon. Hindi na nakaporma si Papa. Nakakaagaw-pansin.

Tulay. Sa loob ng tunnel sa bungad ng Pook Gitnang-araw. Mahirap makaisip ng parte ng katawan na katunog ng “tulay” maliban sa sa “atay” pero ang pangit naman kung BOY TULAY MALAKI ANG ATAY. at bakat sa mukha ang gulat. inumpisahan ni Boy Tulay ang kaniyang susunod na obra. Sawa na kasi siya sa “GUWAPONG TUNAY.” Gusto niya sanang isulat ang BOY TULAY MALAKI ANG BAYAG pero mababasag ang tugma. hindi lang niya maalala kung saan. Babae na kasing edad niya. sa dilim na minsang naliliwanagan ng headlights ng nagdaraang mga kotse. naisip ni Boy Tulay na dati na niyang nakita ang dalaga. Habang iniisip pa ni Boy Tulay kung paano tatapusin ang obra. Tumulala si Boy Tulay sa pader ng tunnel. Hindi niya makalimutan ang mga matang iyon.” bulong ni Aling Taptap isang umaga nang makita ang pinto ng kanyang bahay: BOY TULAY TUNAY NA REPO Nagkalat ang pinakabagong obra ni Boy Tulay sa buong Pook. isinulat niya ang simula: BOY TULAY Pinagmasdan ni Boy Tulay ang kanyang gawa. 86 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . pero hindi makuha ni Boy Tulay na tumira ngayon. Laging tinutuligsa ng makikitid na utak ang sining. Pinagnilay-nilayan pa niya ang susunod. bago manumbalik ang kadiliman ng tunnel. kulay lupa ang balat. Perpekto ang bilog ng O at maarte ang lawit ng Y. Walang imik na tinalikuran ng babae si Boy Tulay at tumakbo paalis. halos hindi makaisip nang tuwid si Boy Tulay. may bumangga sa kaniyang likuran. nakita ni Boy Tulay ang paintbrush at timba ng pulang pintura na hawak ng babae. Napapalibutan siya ng sampung adik na humihithit ng kung ano. Doon.” giit ni Boy Tulay minsan habang nakatambay sa bahay ni Balbas. Ganito talaga ang buhay-artist. Sa bahagyang liwanag ng headlights ng nagdaraang mga sasakyan. nagmukhang sapin-sapin ang Pook Gitnangaraw. Isang gabi. “Nakita ko na talaga siya dati. Pagkadaan ng kotse. Naaalala lang niya lagi ang babaeng nakabangga sa loob ng tunnel. Nagbanggaan ang kanilang mga mata. Babaeng pintor na pula rin ang paboritong kulay. Hindi nagtagal. Nagkandarapa naman ang mga MMDA na takpan ng sariling sining ang gawa ni Boy Tulay. “Putang ina ’yan. pero hindi rin niya maalala kung saan niya ito unang nakita. Mahaba ang buhok. Nakaramdam si Boy Tulay ng kurot ng pag-ibig. Sa mga susunod na araw. nagtatalo ang mga kulay ng pintura sa bawat pader. Maganda. nakasulat ng pulang pintura malapit sa pangalan niya: TUNAY NA REPO Parang sininok ang puso ni Boy Tulay.

Doon. Malaki yun. Bumalik si Tunay na Repo sa lugar nila. Baka lumipat na ng Pook. Baka napagod. SAAN KITA MAHAHANAP?—BT sulat niya sa bawat pader na madaanan niya. Dagdag pa doon. sa ibabaw ng MMDA art. Pero hindi rin niya mahagilap ang babaeng si Tunay na Repo.” “Baliw.” tukso ni Balbas. pero mistulang naglaho ang babae. Pagbalik sa tunnel. pero paano mahahanap ang babaeng naglalaho’t nagpaparamdam na parang mumu? Kung saan-saan na nagpunta si Boy Tulay. natakpan na ng lechugas na MMDA art ang obra maestra nilang dalawa. kahit traffic sign o wanted poster. “Para kaming si Romeo at Juliet. Malapit na siyang panghinaan ng loob nang mapadaan muli sa tunnel kung saan unang umusbong ang kanilang pagmamahalan. At nang hindi mahanap ang lalaki. Mixkaela Villalon 87 . Hindi na nga niya mahanap si Tunay na Repo.Hindi siguro makakapantay ang pinakapurong shabu ni Balbas sa high ng pag-ibig na nararamdaman niya. talo pa ang bulilit nilang kampeon. Nakasabit kasi siya sa humaharurot na jeepney noon at napupuwing ng lumilipad na buhangin mula sa construction site. Alam niyang si Tunay na Repo iyon dahil pula rin ang pintura at kapareho ng sulat ng babae. may sulat si Tunay na Repo para sa kanya. Saan doon? SAAN SA KANAYUNAN?—BT WALA BA KAYONG MGA SELPON?—Aling Tap2 Ilang linggo rin ang dumaan at wala pa ring sagot si Tunay na Repo. nakikialam sa pagmamahalan namin. naburat sa klase ng pamumuhay na tago nang tago. marahil hinahanap din si Boy Tulay. sinikap ni Boy Tulay na mag-iwan ng mensahe para kay Tunay na Repo. Baka nahuli siya ng pulis. Hinanap siya nang hinanap ni Boy Tulay. Hindi nagtatagpo. “Baka sa panaginip mo siya nakita. Pati MMDA. Wala siyang pinatawad. O baka nakahanap siya ng iba at tuluyan nang kinalimutan si Boy Tulay.” bintang ni Tonio Ginuaco na nakasabit din sa jeepney. Doble pa ang lungkot ni Boy Tulay nang umuwi mula sa huling laban ni Agustus. Hindi ipinagsasama. Minsan sa overpass. nangingilid ang luha sa mga mata. pakiramdam ni Boy Tulay na parang may sumusunod sa kaniya. “Para kaming langit at lupa. “Hanapin mo kaya?” Parang ang dali lang ng payo ni Balbas. Pumusta pa naman siya sa batang ’yon. sinulat na lang ang sagot sa tanong ni Boy Tulay: TUMUNGO SA KANAYUNAN Sa kanayunan! … Teka. Dahil walang naniniwalang tunay at wagas ang nararamdaman niya. Para bang may nagmamanman sa kaniyang mga galaw.” malungkot na buntonghininga ni Boy Tulay. minsan sa MRT. Parang gin sa kumakalam na sikmura.

mabilis na kumaripas palayo ang masamang-loob. Ang tatay man ang nag-uuwi ng kakarampot na kita. Ang kanin bahaw ngayon ay sinangag bukas. Sa kusina niya natutuhan na ang nanay talaga ang nagpapatakbo ng pamamahay. Sa kanyang huling mga sandali. Pangpaksiw ang lumang isda. sa tagiliran ni Boy Tulay. sinubukan niyang maging mabuting tao.” Natutuhan ni Aling Taptap ang mga pinakaimportanteng leksiyong pambuhay sa kusina ng kanyang ina. Minana pa niya ito mula sa kaniyang ina: “Wag kang maaksaya. magpasagasa sa bus. nakasulat sa dugo: —ANG TRAHEDYA NI BOY TULAY— PINTOR NA MAHUSAY SINAKSAK SA ATAY KAY TUNAY NA REPO INALAY ANG HULING BUGSO NG BUHAY 5. trabaho ng nanay na pagkasiyahin ito sa pamilya hanggang makakaya. “Puwedeng panghugas ng pinggan ang pinaghugasan ng bigas. pero alam niyang ito na ang kaniyang katapusan. May halong katakam-takam na amoy ang bawat payo ng kanyang nanay. Hangga’t maaari. malalim. ’Wag kang maaksaya.” payo ng nanay niya habang nagtatrabaho sa kusina. Batman?” sigaw ni Boy Tulay na nakalupasay sa kalsada. Gusto niyang maglaslas. hindi siya nag-iisip ng masama tungkol sa kanyang kapuwa. Iisa ang motto ni Aling Taptap. biglang natamaan si Boy Tulay ng inspirasyon. “Puwedeng gamitin ulit ang mantikang pinagprituhan. Pauwi na sana si Boy Tulay para magmukmok nang bigla siyang sinaksak ng isang nakamaskarang salarin. “Ba’t mo ginawa sa ’kin ’to. dala niya hanggang pagtanda. “Putang ina! Lilipat na ’ko ng barangay!” sigaw ni Aling Taptap sa madaling-araw nang buksan ang kaniyang pinto. Kalan Buong buhay ni Aling Taptap. tumatatak sa isip at nauukit sa kumakalam na bituka. Simple lang siyang tao na naghahangad ng simpleng buhay. “Magagalit si Lord. Parang wala nang saysay ang buhay.Nawalan na siya ng gana magpinta sa mga pader.” 88 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . Isang saksak lang. Bukas pa naman ang Pista ng Pook Gitnang-araw. Mas maganda sana kung may kasalo siya. Sinubukan niyang pigilin ang pag-agos ng kanyang dugo. uminom ng pintura. Nakahandusay ang walangmalay na bangkay ni Boy Tulay sa harap ng kaniyang bahay. Dapat walang nasasayang. Tapos. At sa kaniyang pinto.” bilin ng nanay niya noong siya’y dalaga.

“Dapat matikman mo ang luto ko ng asusena. Nakasisigurado rin ang mga tao na malinis ang pagkain ni Aling Taptap. at binulungan ng impormasyon. pinaghugas ng pinggan. Dito rin sa naasinang lupa ng Gitnangaraw niya itinanim ang mga pangarap ng kaniyang pamilya. Kahit nang tumaas ang presyo ng mga bilihin. iho.” “Ilokano ako. Mula sa mga ninunong kusinera. hindi tumaas ang presyo ng pagkaing ibinebenta ni Aling Taptap. Wala kasing daga sa buong Pook Gitnang-araw. naitaguyod niya ang kanyang munting pamilya kahit nang siya’y mabiyuda. nagmukhang pancake. Itinago niya sila bilang mga pamangkin. Nakapagtayo siya ng karinderya malapit sa paaralan ng Pook Gitnang-araw. Sa pamamagitan nito. binigyan ng pagkain. tangan-tangan ngayon ni Aling Taptap ang kaniyang gilas sa kusina. Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan si Hermana Luciernaga na kilala rin bilang Ka Lusing. Nanggaling pa ito sa ninuno niyang kusinera ng mga prayle noong sakop pa ng Espanya ang Pilipinas. Ni minsan ay hindi itinaboy ni Ka Lusing ang mga Katipunero. Masama ang maaksaya. inutusan siyang magluto para sa party ng squadron ng Pulis Maynila na gaganapin Mixkaela Villalon 89 .” sagot ni Aling Taptap. “Panalo ’tong sisig n’yo. “Kapampangan kayo. Ni minsan hindi niya itinaboy ang sinumang nanghingi o nangailangan. “Painitin mo na lang ang kalan. Dito siya nakilala ng Pook bilang mahusay na kusinera.” Labimpitong taong gulang lang si Taptap nang unang magluto ng asusena. Mayroon siyang mainit na kanin at ulam para sa sinumang nagugutom. pinapahid ang kanyang luha. Minsan. no?” tanong ni Balbas na suki sa karinderya. Nasagasaan kasi ng pison ang alaga nilang si Bantay kaya napipit ang aso. Nagsisimula pa lang kumulo ang rebolusyon ng mga Indio nang palihim na lapitan ng Kataas-taasan. laging handa ang kaniyang kusina.Sadyang nasa lahi raw ng pamilya ni Aling Taptap ang pagiging mahusay sa kusina. Dumating man silang sugatan o gutom. Tinuruan siya ng nanay niya.” Hindi lang magaling sa kusina si Aling Taptap. Kinikiskisan din ni Ka Lusing ng dinurog na siling labuyo ang mga salawal ng prayle tuwing Linggo. lumapit ang hepe ng pulis kay Aling Taptap.” sabi ng nanay niya. at napapangiti sa likod ng kaniyang belo tuwing hindi mapakali ang nangangating prayle habang nagmimisa. sadya rin siyang mapagbigay. “Tahan na. Umiiyak na inuwi ni Taptap ang mala-papel na alaga para magsumbong sa nanay niya.

Kung hindi nila tutulungan ang isa’t isa. Walang maisip na dahilan si Aling Taptap para lumipat ng tirahan. Blueberry cheese bibingka ang iniluluto ni Aling Taptap habang naghahanap ng rekados ang anak niya para sa adobong desaparacidos. lalangoy?” ani Aling Taptap. “Kakaiba ang lasa. Nay. siguradong busog ang mga bisita. Kinabukasan. “Saan ka ba talaga pupunta?” tanong ni Aling Taptap. Paano ka pupunta doon. Tamang-tama ang texture. Umiiyak na lumalapit ang mga mag-anak.” pabirong sagot ng dalaga. napamahal na sila kay Aling Taptap. magdamag nagluto ang mag-ina sa kusina. dito siya nagbibigay ng payo. Maging si Boy Tulay na laging nagsusulat sa pinto ng kanyang bahay ay pinapakain niya sa karinderya. Madalas ding lapitan si Aling Taptap para magluto tuwing may handaan sa Gitnang-araw.” sabi ng isang pulis habang ngumunguya. mamamatay-tao. “Ang lambot ng laman. sapatos. “Aakyat ako sa tuktok ng bundok at lilipad.” madaling sagot ng dalaga. Dito itinuro ni Aling Taptap ang lahat ng kanyang nalalaman. muntikan nang tumulo ang itim na sabaw sa uniporme niya. chumibog ang mga pulis sa pinakamasarap na dinuguan na natikman nila. “Mahirap ang buhay doon. Sa lamay. Nay.kinabukasan.” sabi ng katabi nito. Sigurado ring sarado ang kabaong. Tinatanong naman ni Aling Taptap kung sino ang namatay. Mababait ang mga tao sa Pook Gitnang-araw. gaano katangkad. sino pa ang tutulong sa kanila? “Bukas na ang alis ko. “States? Ni wala ka ngang visa. lalo na kapag may namatayan. Mahirap man sila rito.” babala ni Aling Taptap. mababait ang mga tao sa Pook. “Sa States. Binayaran ng hepe si Aling Taptap ng mas mababa sa totoong presyo ng serbisyo at produkto niya. Magtatrabaho. Nagulat naman ang mga pulis pagbalik sa kanilang barracks nang malamang nawawala ang lahat ng mga bota.” sabi ng dalagang anak ni Aling Taptap isang gabi habang sabay silang nagluluto sa kusina. paano namatay. at ilang baril at kahon ng bala nila. babae ba o lalaki. Sa kusina naguusap ng masinsinan ang mag-ina. 90 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . luko-luko. Kahit sila’y pawang mga adik. Walang oras si Aling Taptap mamili ng mga rekado. nakikiusap kay Aling Taptap kung anong luto ang puwedeng ipakain sa mga bisita ng lamay. at iba pang salot ng lipunan. shoe polish. Hindi niya maintindihan kung bakit kailangan lumayo ng kaniyang anak. magnanakaw. gaano kabigat. Kasama ang dalaga niyang anak.

at ang anumang nagmula sa Gitnang-araw ay hindi makakalimot at hindi malilimot ng mga tagarito. Saan na lang makikikain ang mga patay-gutom na kapitbahay kung pareho tayong aalis?” Kay Aling Taptap lang nagpaalam ang kanyang anak na aalis na ito. naku. Kailangan painitin ang kalan. kaya manaka-nakang nagpapakita ang multo nito sa may tunnel sa bungad ng Pook tuwing gabi. Kailangan magpatuloy ang buhay. Nay?” “Hay. “Putang ina! Lilipat na ’ko ng barangay!” sigaw ni Aling Taptap nang binulaga ng bangkay ni Boy Tulay ang kaniyang umaga. Hindi lang ’yon. Ayoko sa States. O baka naman totoong pinatay at kinain ni Tonio Ginuaco ang dalaga. sa buhay. kusang nalimutan ang tsismis tungkol sa dalaga at hindi na muling inusisa ng mga kapitbahay. at hindi ko kayang manatili dito habang maraming nagugutom at nangangailangan. ayaw ni Aling Taptap ng maaksaya. Umaga pa lang ay nagsilabasan na ang mga tao mula sa kani-kanilang bahay. O baka sumapi sa mga rebelde at namundok. Dito siya nakatira. pero walang patutunguhan ang pangungulila.“Alam ko. Sama ka. dapat walang nasasayang. Kahit iniwan siya ng kaniyang anak. Dito na lang ako. Agosto 4. hindi lilipat si Aling Taptap. Ano pa man ang usap-usapan. Sa Pook Gitnang-araw pa kung saan inuusyoso ng mga kapitbahay ang kilos ng lahat. Mixkaela Villalon 91 . Araw ng pista. Kaya nang maglaon. maraming tsismis ang umikot tungkol sa pagkawala ng dalaga. Sino pa ba ang dapat tumulong sa kanila kundi sila rin? Kailangan magpatuloy. O kaya baka nakahanap ng nobyo at nagtanan. Araw na kinasasabihan ng Pook Gitnang-araw. Ang iba’y nagsabi na nabuntis ang dalaga at lumayas para magpalaglag. Napamahal na sa kaniya ang mga tao rito.” sambit ni Aling Taptap. Sa pagkain. may tutulong sa kaniya. karaniwan lang sa bayan na ito ang mga biglang nawawala. “Pero may pananagutan tayo sa isa’t isa. Ito na ang kaniyang tahanan. Ang iba ay nagtungo sa simbahan para sa misa na iaalay sa patron. nagsulat pa si Boy Tulay ng kung ano sa kanyang pinto bago mamatay. Higit sa lahat. Kung nandito pa sana ang anak niya. Mag-isang hinila ni Aling Taptap ang katawan ni Boy Tulay paloob ng kaniyang bahay. Sa kabila ng ganitong takbo ng buhay sa Pook Gitnang-araw—bigla na lang may mahahanap na bangkay sa labas ng pinto—hindi pa rin makuhang iwanan ni Aling Taptap ang lugar na ito. “Pulos hamburgers ang kinakain doon. gigisingin siya ng perwisyo. Araw pa naman ng Pista.” sagot ng kaniyang anak. at sa pamamalagi sa Pook Gitnang-araw. Marami pang nagugutom sa Gitnangaraw.

Malakas daw ngayong taon si Buknoy at ang kaniyang gagambang koryente (dahil nahanap ito sa kable ng koryente). “’Di naman po ngayon matatapos ’yon. ang una nitong hinahanap ay si San Miguel. e kapag may problema si Balbas dati. Wala pang tanghalian. nagkakantahan na ang mga sintunadong lasenggo’t adik ng Pook. Pang Pista talaga ang handa. nagtataas ng mga bote ng beer. “Bayani na ako. Balak sana nilang magpapinta ng mural para kay Balbas sa pader ng estasyon ng Pulis.” sabi ni Tonio Ginuaco. “Eto?” sabi ni Aling Taptap. Paano pa. ay kuntento na munang manood lamang. Aling Taptap. Tonio. at ang kinasasabikang panoorin ng lahat na labanan ng gagamba. kasimpula ng puso o pintura—tiyak na bestseller ng kanyang karinderya ngayong araw ng Pista. Karangalan para sa inyo na dito ako kumakain.” WAKAS 92 Likhaan 6 • Short Fiction / Maikling Kuwento . “Araw na ng Pista. “Menudo. Aling Taptap. Pirapirasong malambot na karneng lumulutang sa malapot na pulang sabaw.” “Bakit wala ka sa bungad? Di ba nagtatayo sila ng rebulto mo?” tanong ni Aling Taptap. Sigurado sila na nasa langit na si Balbas ngayon. palagi pa rin siyang pinagbibigyan ni Aling Taptap. ang dating bulilit na kampeon. Pero kahit abot-langit na ang listahan ni Tonio. pabitin. Sa barong-barong na tahanan ni Agustus at kanyang ina na si Wendy. Magpapatuloy hanggang gabi ang pagtagay at pagkanta ng mga lasenggo. libre ’to. habang si Agustus. “Dapat nga. Ano ba ’tong ulam ninyo?” Binuksan ni Aling Taptap ang kaldero ng katakam-takam na ulam.” sagot ni Tonio na masayang kumakain sa karinderya. Sayang nga at hindi nila mahagilap si Boy Tulay. muntikan nang tumulo ang pulang sabaw sa kanyang t-shirt. Kinakampayan nila ang alaala ng matalik nilang kaibigan at pusher na si Balbas.Nagtakbuhan naman ang mga bata sa lansangan para sa mga palaro ngayong Pista. kumakaway sa hangin ang nakasampay na unipormeng pang-eskuwela sana ni Agustus. Magkakaakbay sila’t gumegewang sa kalsada. “Sarap nitong luto n’yo.” sabi ni Aling Taptap habang nagsasandok ng kanin at ulam sa pinggan ni Tonio. Pampabusog sa mga tiyan na halos buong taon kumakalam at ngayong araw ng Pista lamang makatitikim ng masarap. May palosebo. Magbayad ka naman ng utang.



landlocks. watching the grain drying in the sun. scent of the ocean rising from the mangled flesh into their lungs. they say. that’s why it comes without fail to lick the edges of the barrier sand.Sea Stories Merlie M. smashing its salt-steeped flood on guardian cliffs. villages by the water. or tending the boiling pot or gutting a fish for the fire. Only the old women hear the ceaseless warning. forests. fingers bloody. clothes stained. towns. breaking itself against rock faces. deaf to the wind shushing the sea’s sibilant sighing somedaywecome somedaywe come someday…. reaching through to fields. cities where people walk about in a dream. rolling through rafts of mangrove. Alunan Old Women in Our Village Old women in my village say the sea is always hungry. country lanes. 95 . hills. grazelands.

they hear the sea endlessly muttering as in a dream someday someday someday…. the women say. one uncharted day. high waves. the sea will open its mouth and drink in a child playing on the sand. and still unsated. great ships laden with cargo. each a survivor of storms. suck up cities towns villages— one huge swallow to slake its hunger. and the sea’s vast loneliness. Nudging the old men beside them. who knows. and sleep. their mates—empty-eyed seafarer. a fisherman with his nets. tuning their ears to the endless mumbling….Nights. As to when or how it would happen. somedaywecomewecomewecome somedaywecomewecomewecome somedaysomedaysomeday 96 Likhaan 6 • Poetry / Tula . as they sit on their mats rubbing their knees. now half-lost in their old age amid the household clutter— old women in my village nod to themselves and say. they say. but this much is true—no plea for kindness can stop it— nodding their heads this way and that. waiting for ease to come.

A tricycle stops by the locked gate. This story goes the rounds of Cardo’s motorshop. Not a sound from them throughout the ride. or wherever it is that drivers go to pass the slow time of day. his hands. his wife. Now the man digs into his pockets for fare and comes up with a few clamshells. as fast as he can. “Delgado. and nothing to save a shivering earth from death by drowning.” the man had said.” says the man. but the house never lights up and the man never returns. the driver flees. The story grows with every telling— barnacles on the man’s neck. Tentay’s caldohan. people in my village rehearse this story— An empty house in Delgado Street. cuddling an infant close to her chest. the one word that brought them to this unlit house on this lonely street in our village. holds them out like coins to the driver. or when rain forces them to seek shelter. a boy of five or six gripping her skirt with bony fingers.” and goes into the unlit house. his ears the woman’s hair stringy like seaweeds the infant in her arms swaddled in kelp —and did he have fishtail instead of feet? Merlie M. terrified. pursued by the reek of fish in the wind. “Wait here. Alunan 97 .The Tricycle Drivers’ Tale On nights when rain pours as if the very gate of heaven is open. everyone following him.“I’ll get the fare. Seized by a strange suspicion. A man alights.

98 Likhaan 6 • Poetry / Tula . the sea grumbling grumbling sleeplessly— somedaywecome somedaywecome somedaysomedaysomeday…. and claws to grip us cold. as though his eyes were wells of plankton— was that a starfish dangling on his chest seasnakes wriggling in and out of his pockets The house in Delgado waits empty and dark as on the day. hand. eleven years ago when the M/V Doña Paz with two thousand on board. always in our mind. grateful of the house above the earth. you might say. feet with every telling.The boy’s flourescent stare. the warm body we embrace to ward off the tyranny of rain pelting our fragile shelter—a mere habit of those who breathe air and walk on land. ten. fist. remembering. growing hair. the dry bed on which we lie. a wake. funerals winding daily down the streets. but still. We cower in the dark. No driver in our village has made a claim to the telling of this tale. in almost every street. the old women in my village remember coffins on the dockside. yet the story moves like a feckless wind blowing breath to breath. became grub for the sea. stench in the air. Of that time.

The drowned littered the city streets. terrified. That task. Then the flood rolling down the mountain. flushing the city to the sea. He was tired. was his alone to do. we arrived much later. three days after the flood. brother and his wife. food and drink.D. the dead. At mid-afternoon. Alunan 99 . Darkness but for guttering candles and sooty kerosene lamps. laid them all in one grave. huge abandoned dolls with arms held out. 1991 First the rain. all in thirty minutes flat. never mind the infants whose bodies might have shredded in the debris. huddled in any shelters they could find. brought them to Ormoc’s hilltop graveyard. and then gone. cold. and the burial. and one of three children. no grieving. He was the one to walk to look for our dead. no ritual. finding the bodies. A. That’s as it should be. We visited the common grave as he had urged. Dazed. waiting for news. Out of the water he pulled them with the help of strangers. Everyone hungry. no one in the city slept that night.Rafael: Ormoc. and found everything satisfactory. so tired he was. not even grief could blight his need for rest. Enough. hoping for the rare miracle. legs spread and bent as in prayer or embrace. A slow walk with throngs of others from Cantubo Bridge to the shorelines of Sabang and Alegria. You understand. no coffin. Gathered around the neat mound Merlie M. He started from sun-up. he found the bodies floating face down among hundreds of others in the shallows of Linao—father. counting the missing.

houses rebuilt. like us. But who could feel safe now? As the moon waxes and wanes. is growing old. the terror lurks unappeased—when will the sea grow hungry again? Somedaywecome somedaywecome Wecomewecomewecome … someday … Sendai. The streets of Ormoc have been repaved. so it seems. He’s not mentioned that time since. houses. March 10. just as he was. broken bodies. than mere obeisance to the dead. that’s what we’d like to think. he too. animal bones. shells. We still do not talk about that time. bottles. the hearth to make anew. More urgent to us then.his spade had formed over the grave. 2011 Michiko chan was picking flowers the day the rocks heaved and the sea rose on its toes to kiss the hillsides. Twenty years since. and now. so the tide too rises and ebbs—a daily ritual the sea could not help. the claims of the living. Behind his eyes watching the waves. by thick strong concrete dikes. we were empty of words. We soon left the graveside—we still had to dig out the old house from the silt. Everything behind us. the river that runs through its heart tamed. cars. Now a thousand things litter the beach at Sendai— boats. 100 Likhaan 6 • Poetry / Tula . felled trees. the altar to rebuild.

Now on the sand at Sendai. Only the little waves drift back to me.O Michiko. Among the seagrasses. almost— cannotsay cannotsay cannot say— Merlie M. I dreamed to see you this spring under the sakura orchard with the moon glow caught in your black hair. sighing. licking my feet. red gay yellow. I want to ask the sea. pink. Alunan 101 . The water has nothing to say from its deep black heart. Which one is Michiko’s? but no use. these countless shoes in hues of orange. all without pairs. blue. these drying seaweeds.

Has it been an age since we croaked at love? Surely. call me a fool.Stretch Isabela Banzon I Loved You. swamp of stagnant sorrow? Is it in doubt. This fierce night unclots to meet the self in repossession of itself. 102 . dear. perhaps. What does it take to free the heart of memory? Is it to mock our taking on the years of hush and roil. does it matter which? The clearing of the head pumps words without blood. dear. in fierceness shaken that the tranquil mind’s leap into a sludge of words revive girl dreams of ever after? I fear. and now let go— mock me. the rush of antiquated folly? What passes for the possible is cold infinity— why palpitate again against the real. you’re a goner. because my love is scalpeled. Dear I loved you. abuse me.

Once you too sped across continents on a knapsack of dreams. Isabela Banzon 103 . Nothing out of place in memory. leave you emptied in a house full of presence. They’re on the road revved up for the one ride of their lives. But here where ashes settle. now motherless. Those boys you fathered. Five tortoise years of caring for the sick wiped out as suddenly as death when you took the roundabout back to Penny Lane. it all begins again. nothing changed. where cactus flowers bloom. your daring man size as your sons grown.Theme Song There you go beneath the blue suburban skies after inching toward a finish line you wished never to cross.

calling out to the poet to fluff up the pillows and hand her a change of sheets and the vacuum cleaner which only the other night. snug between syllables or perfected in rhyming couplets. Muse My congratulations to the woman readied up for a tryst. she had thought to surprise him by having it fixed. they will sustain you. the red of her mouth opening like a bud. each attempt at tenderness. No doubt she’s been imagined in a poem or two.In albums. in a bareall mood. while watching him mumbling in sleep. drawers. in near replication. each act of exposure. in the back seat of your rusted car. her gift of meaning. at heat. on a king size bed. No doubt she hasn’t been taking the show-don’t-tell lover role too much to heart. 104 Likhaan 6 • Poetry / Tula .

we just might arrive at a point of connection. thicken with time. we could give in to love’s pull yet never land. If we were to stretch like the moon on the wing of a plane crossing an invisible equator. our assent the point of destination.Elastic If you were to fly at giddy heights over ocean and bush and I above channels between 7101 islands. Between us the summer night heat and just enough starlight to see us through emotions that tense with distance. Isabela Banzon 105 .

the itch For the finish a wriggle in my thigh Like a boy’s last seconds before a urinal Or the last shudder into love. I bruise where his arm tugs my rib. Leering from a diving board. My arms tear at water Like claws into skin. It races through me like ivory teeth In a mess of hair. I am there. I flash without air Into a record eighteen seconds. then slump And sink into chlorine. He knits His torso to my spine—this is true.Four Poems Mookie Katigbak Snapshot Snapshot of a father and child: I’m six. Hoisted to rescue and catcalls after—This is 1986. nudge his head 106 . Stop clocks blink their digits on a smarting Screen: I’m six and all blood. Decades after. My father at forty seven has never told me One useful thing. he’ll edge wordlessly toward My mother on a hospital bed. Then my father’s khakis plunging in. A gun goes off. The sun a piss-green slog in dirty water. They think I’m drowning. has never let his belt Lick my thigh like a cattle hand branding a nag.

Dirty brine.Over and over against hers. the words scroll down a famous mystery: Mookie Katigbak 107 . I hazard. The chlorine as strong to the eye as seawater. thirteen across. Black on white. Remove: to move again or take away like players on a board. It inks a lazy bet on curb. Mitchell. dear Margaret. No one will know What it means. swim. the tenth inked out. that’s eight. Puzzle Leaves in their last light beg of dust a last immortal minute. a New York Times I’ll not look at flusters a chair. In easy sight. Black on white. a six letter word you’ve chanced with Temper. her body A jackknife in difficult water—knows she’s Swimming for her life as fast as she can. not enough archaic. only that in his final hours. her heart on its second wind. A puzzle leaves a gaping clue: best-selling woman writer of 1922. Giving in. The whole human length of her Crying swim. nine letters. He never asks for his absent child. the child like scrawl defeats your careful hand. As though He knew again the limits of her air. And easily the word admits to 20 down.

You never left a puzzle bare. a father tells his child how stars we take as token signs are actual: Bears. into a grid as straight as a private’s spine. as plain to the eye as satellites seen from the window of an initial descent. It meant to call you back into your chair. Not meant for me to lose you less. put there for show. “And Ursa Minor’s a small bear in the high wild?” “Absolutely. Naming Stars Once. archers.” Solving the riddle on an evening sky. 17 down? Why should I dream dark words into so many white boxes. to ease a nighttime terror. Years later. or let you go. sovereigns. Words of pure invention. the father reads a poem in a book where his child describes how the three moles on her lover’s thigh are an archer’s constellation.” “And it isn’t the eye pretends it there?” “Of course. she says. a poet’s lie. she never did see girth or paw. chiseling your absence in the puzzle’s core: Old diamond. So why should I care for Tokyo’s claim to a pacific name. He notes the brisk 108 Likhaan 6 • Poetry / Tula .

Mookie Katigbak 109 . “Absolutely. I have seen this air in movies where presidents and generals cloud rooms with smoke and secrets.arpeggios of her hand against her thigh. They crack dried watermelon seeds between their front teeth. talk turns to maladies or weather. pelt tables when the bowl fills.” If one should disbelieve the other. The mouths know by rote the Lenten kiss: Salt and pit. both know it can’t be righted. When a door slams. and “Of course. No one lets us in on their dangerous laughter. Women Talking I see hard hands turn slack with diamonds and pearls. and why there isn’t a lie a man won’t tell his child. As we posit lit equations of faiths we keep untrue for.” he says. I’m a crown of hair below a window screen.

She whispers them Between the crack and pelt of dried seeds. They smear my mother’s teeth with lipstick. I can’t be told. 110 Likhaan 6 • Poetry / Tula .Everything I need to know about the stranger is in those words. Even salt. Everything I need to hear. I’m too young to know anything in time can turn a mouth tender.

111 . The mind on lease comes back to the beautiful clear. it invokes sound clarity— To break it is to give in to pure silence and surrender everything.Parameters Joel M. that thunderbolt in the night sky. How to cross that line? Exhale. that shock. Grace. Now watch it bleed. What touches its face is wind. slowly. Hours we’ve counted leading us to this need. The monk awakens to black: evening. listening—Om mani padme om. Amen. Place is its own discovery. The world is coming back immensely. none to anoint. When all this time we keep missing the point. inhaling the stench and counting all the deceased history keeps pointing to. We’ve knelt down and hurt at that sharpened joint. accept patience as the monk closing his eyes to memory having just read Lao Tzu. Amen. Toledo Om Rhyming. Penitence We kneel down and hurt at that sharpened joint. The sky relents from blue. He is hearing loss. is deliberate. I see no burning tree.

to quench the thirst of burning seed. The sound will never plead: “All this time we still keep missing the point!” Go palm the beads. (Everything amounts to fourteen pesos. (Though all this time we keep missing the point. Anonas station. Scrape and bruise. Para Que— Everything amounts to fourteen pesos. that much appoint To root. Confound these names! All these declarations! All these stations I have to cross! I count the change that bridges cost— To arrive at trees. Two trees grow wild between the loss. the skin will reappoint With scar. go feel from point-to-point. A palace stands embraced by moss. Until you reach that cross where doubt is freed. All these stations I have to cross.) The cracks along the path lead to disjoint.) 112 Likhaan 6 • Poetry / Tula . Everything amounts to fourteen pesos. We kneel down and hurt at that sharpened joint When all this time we keep missing the point.The well inside the heart. or heal. to get to Quezon. Only one’s underground: Katipunan. before Diliman. Locate that fault and fix with blinding speed! Let’s kneel down and hurt at that sharpened joint.

he compensates with feel. To arrive at any gentle measure is to grip firmly the rope. secure. Everything amounts to fourteen pesos. He knows how to relocate. Toledo 113 . The science behind flag-raising: hoist. Divisoria sale’s always the reason. All these stations. Spaniards came.Eleven stops. too. I need to cross! Heart Against Noon Flag and wind become indistinguishable on some days. Renamed the host. Synesthesia’s keel is never off-center. Today it’s in the middle of a pole. place. They called it centavos. a different awakening. Try balancing prow with stern. is its own window). Heart against noon casts the perfect shadow (and water. I have to cross. And that other thing called grope— each day begins with that. All these stations. Spell Recto backward and it’s Santolan. Joel M. pull. The blind is full of it.

all disturbances.Oath Rhyming invokes sound clarity— Slate of unblemished sky. to face mercy. disappearances. watch me intently. To hum and to die when bothered is given of the bee. it is but calligraphy. confront frailty. not to be auctioned off. I wish of the world to dismiss all impunity. 114 Likhaan 6 • Poetry / Tula . Welcome. unnecessary fury. watch me get lost. company. this little song. grace offered. I am ready to be. unguarded sea. this synecdoche. Dear family. denying light. Loneliness is never sadness. Nowadays barely enough space for epiphany. I want to keep living in this possibility. See the clouds coming in. how they become canopy. I am letting go of all useless.

Being One Alfred A. a sense of joie de vivre. all those may serve as further test of barriers. a few au courant suggestions that may masquerade as nuggets of wisdom. to see how much the other can take. Aiee. Dunno if it’s best. will o’ the wisp of notion and imagination. without going haywire. but could be so. 115 . ensembles? Maybe. The moral order of aesthetics I like to think we share dictates we do. aye. Do we tell on one another’s extras. Yuson All … All I can offer is the fun of an antic mind. On the other hand. parameters of emotion. there’s the rub and the fear.

The other drags the core down to now dull. Maybe we say. or catches itself slip-sliding away. so secret. questions. all that can be. yet how be sane when obsessed? *** I am sorry for being a double-edged sword. When all that matters is the hour the minute the moment when you are all there is. Why. how be jealous when one is not possessed. now sharp extravaganzas of misery. if we find that we don’t mind. biceps bulging 116 Likhaan 6 • Poetry / Tula . we need a group grope towards white noise. if querida in Spanish means dearest. If you just crash into me or upon the collective meme.Then again. Being One In an era of inappropriate content. One blade cuts to the quick and pares off all raiments to arrive quickly at joy. conundrums of net loss may strike the strangest dude —the way Nadal grunts. When one crosses the border from colonial to native? Questions. must it be downgraded to mistress in our understanding? Does there have to be another room. beloved. either it enters an even more special niche of relations. almost with venom.

No matter.adroitly for a southpaw. more fears. The heart leaps to illumine imagination. a swift great light that struck a tree. We are one. crackling tongues ablaze. Gauche? Always get them to surrender without a firefight over any bridge above sludge and muck. but it only opens up greater dark. and imagine missing the spittoon with our phlegm of gravitas. Where did the fire come from. like the spirits we conjured before we learned of nights aglow. dancing shadows. Yuson 117 . In an era of viable alternatives. As discontent providers we have to look at the moon a different way. Toss in genres. The dark is dispelled. turned it alive— into what seemed at first as horror. Alfred A. We are bridged. between nations and genders. the gavel may be banged on duplication of simulacra. Equipoise of execution is all that’s needed for a crossover above rivers of demarcation. The Long Poem of Faith All faith begins with a little flame in a cave. where did the fire begin? It was from the sky.

118 Likhaan 6 • Poetry / Tula . the little flame in the cave that painted pictures for our solace. with whom we can share. A human hand grasps the other and becomes that of a hero. after telling us this. in the cave.That spark created warmth. And the shadows disappeared. brethren. this. Until we came to the gist of the narrative. gospels and wars for bragging rights of sundry gods. how it singes fowl. That spark had no beginning but sky. heat. there is always a brave one who approaches mystery as if it were food. how the burnt taste precedes softness. Love begets family. Water and wind assault our bodies but it is our brothers that hurt us. in our hearts the sparks speak of more mysteries— how the fire only honors wood. We need to keep going back to the source of our courage. There was a brave one among us. In the open. There is a flood and there is a rainbow. stayed our sorrow by giving light. This starts our faith in something beyond us but with which we can share. There is a branch afire at one end. and it is as if we invented angels. From candle to brimstone is a leap as mighty as we made over centuries of abyss. and this—a myriad of tales that spun around and defined the truth: There is a savior and there is the story of a savior.

Yuson 119 . Hail the burgeoning faith in prayer and moral compass. And that arc of colors in the great sky will precede vendaval or scirocco.This earth. And everything breaks apart. or swift killings when cross and crescent toil across deserts for the clanging of blade and bone. sunder our myths and fables until we speak of the same flood but vary in our measure of water. for millennia— burning bush stone tablets preach sermon great cathedral spire nave altar belfry bodhi tree the lotus the six-armed goddess and there are those who will deny creation. And everywhere the weakness spreads. monsoons whip boats and ships towards new islands and the recognition of sin. give the lie to serpent and apple man and woman weeping wall synod synagogue rabbi muezzin mecca pilgrims beatitudes divinity as power tongues of fire seraphim demons ghosts bogeys messiahs saints in frescoes canticles scapulars incense and gongs sticks clapping the blood sacrifice dark bowels of the earth rockets to the moon space suits from blue planet heliosphere chandeliers bonfires witches at the stake hymns missals crucifix martyrs heretics nailing paper to a door the virgin adored the woman as friend the woman stoned for going beyond friendship with other than her other the pious mother … Alfred A. the submission to felicitous vision. The fervor may burn through slow march of ages. in astrolabe and hands clasped together. this weather. Terrain will separate tribes. the temper of the season will divide us.

applied. when sunrise is all silent or twilight turns terrible with time’s own pause. whisper. burst it into flames — thence the food bones flesh wine miracles marvel amazement credence the flint solace sorrow Voice The human voice in sheer ether of adroitness can be. aria. Or that birds prey on lament on our tenderest mornings. 120 Likhaan 6 • Poetry / Tula . The human song. the human cry— no accident of nature— is learned. Do not tell me the sea’s susurrus is lullaby for all ages. Scat. must be the loveliest sound in the world.All these stories have a grip on our inner recesses from the time thunder bade lightning to strike the tree. searing spit of love. As marvelous alone As sob.

Coroza Alamat ng Isang Awit Saan ba nanggagaling ang isang awit? Sa puso diumano ng tigib-hinagpis o sa diwang bagaman batbat ng hinala’t sumbat ay nagkikibitbalikat sa hindi maampat na liwag at liwanag. Ano nga ba kasi ang isang awit? Higit marahil sa himig o titik.“Alamat ng Isang Awit” at Iba pang Tula Michael M. Maaari rin sigurong biyaya ito mulang langit—maningning na kerubin na lumapag at nagtiklop ng pakpak upang magpabukad ng ngiting sinlawak ng habang buhay na pangarap at magpahalimuyak ng sutil na pananalig at hangad makalipad. higit sa sasál o bagal ng pintig. bunsong talinghaga ito ng isang makata na sa husay maghimala ay hindi masupil magsupling ang salit-salit na salita. 121 .

Nakalulunod ang nakalulunos Na balita tungkol sa nagdaang unos. Isang buong bayan ang lumubog At naanod lahat ang mga bahay at búhay. Sakay ng helikopter, itinutok ng reporter Ang kamera sa mga nakalutang na troso At bangkay sa kulay-tsokolateng delubyo Sa paanan ng isang bundok na kalbo. Sa iskrin ng telebisyon, mahirap mapagwari Kung tao o troso ang nangakalutang. Ganito rin siguro ang tanaw ng may-ari At mga utusang utak-de-motor-na-lagari. Kahoy lang talaga ang kanilang itinutumba. Tao ba ’ka mo? Huwag ka ngang magpatawa.

Ibong Sawi
Ako’y isang ibong sawi na hindi na makalipad At sa puso’y may sugat, wala pang lumingap; Inabot ng hatinggabi sa madilim na paglipad, Saan kaya ngayon ang aking pugad? Musika ni Juan Buencamino at letra ni Jose Corazon de Jesus

Sa isang sulyap mo, ako’y napapitlag. Sa isang ngiti mo, ako’y nagkapakpak. Sa isang kaway mo, ako’y pumagaspas. Sa isang tapik mo, ako’y nakalipad. Inawitan kita, ika’y napaluha. Niligiran kita, ika’y napamangha. Niluksuhan kita, ika’y natulala. Dinapuan kita, ika’y nagbunganga.

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Sa isang irap mo, ako’y nabulabog. Sa isang ismid mo, ako’y nagkagapos. Sa isang palis mo, ako’y bumulusok. Sa isang tampal mo, ako’y nabusabos.

Kaninang Umulan
Kanina, bumuhos nang kainaman ang ulan at humampas nang napakalakas ang hangin. Halos humapay ang mga punò at halamang mga paslit waring kakawag-kawag sa pagtutol sa katigasan ng inang paliguan sila. Mag-aalas tres pa lamang, ngunit mistulang pasado alas-sais ang paligid. Napuyog at naanod sa kanal ang pagmamadali na kani-kanina ay nagpapasidhi sa alinsangan at laksang alinlangan sa lansangan. Kung hindi nakapayong, nakapandong ng peryodiko o kartong walang pag-aatubiling hinablot o dinampot kung saan ang mga nasukol ng sama ng panahon— bubulong-bulong, nagsusumbong wari sa tumutulòng bubong ng saydwok bendor o sa nag-uulap-ulap na salamin ng gilid ng gusaling pinagkanlungan. Inagaw ng ulan ang aking pansin mula sa mapaglagom at makulay na iskrin ng kaharap na kompiyuter. Sa tanggapang kinalalagyan sa ikatlong palapag, panatag ang lahat at tuloy ang gawain may bagyo man at dilim. Hindi ko napigilang lumapit sa lagusang-tanaw na bintana. May kung anong humila o nagtulak sa akin upang saksihan ang ulan. At umalingawngaw sa gunita ang hagikhik ng mga paslit— hubo’t hubad na lumuhod-tumayo-tumalon sa pagsahod sa biyayang búhos ng langit: walang agam-agam, walang muwang ang talampakan sa lawa ng lansangan.

Michael M. Coroza


Hanggang sa bangungot-waring kumatok, pumasok ang tagapagdulot ng umaasóng kape. Nakangunot na tangô ang tugon sa kaniyang pagyukod. Birtud ang matapang na pampagising ngayong naninibat, nanunumbat ang gawaing nakabinbin sa kompiyuter. Nang muling lumingon at lumapit ako sa lagusang-tanaw na bintana: Lumipas na ang ulan. Nagdudumali na naman ang lahat sa lansangan. Kasabay ng hiningang nagbunton ng ulap sa nakahadlang na salamin, nagpundo ang dilim sa ituktok ng bundok sa isang sulok ng haraya: sigwa na ibig kong sarilinin sakali’t di mapipigil ang pagdating.

Kung tunay mang may pook na sagana sa lahat ng pangangailangang ilampung ulit na higit sa batayán at pangunahin, naliligid ng pasadyang pananggalang sa nangakaumang o sisibasib na panganib, laging may tulad kong hinding-hindi papanatag. Sapagkat hindi maililihim ng lamlam ng mata na laging may kulang at sayang. Laging may nawawala na dapat hanapin. Laging may palihim at alanganing tinatanaw: malayong pook na ga-tuldok sa balintataw. Laging kailangang lunukin ang sulak ng lungkot at pasakan ang budhi ng bulak na tubóg sa paglimot. Laging kailangang papaniwalain ang sarili na wala nang wala upang matanggap na langit ang nasapit. Sapagkat ang totoo, nagniniyebe ang dibdib at hindi maiunat ang gulugod sa masidhing sandali ng pangungulilang nanunuot sa kalansay at humihimay sa málay. At may halik, haplos, at yapos ng sinauna’t walang muwang na pag-irog na ginuguniguni, sinusumbatan, inaawitan.

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Bakit pipiliin ko at higit na hahangaring manatili sa isang pook na salat maging sa alat? Sapagkat dito ko natutuhan kung paano manimbang, tumimbuwang, humakbang. Dito ako napapalagay. Dito ko ibig humimlay. Dito ko nakakasiping ang panaginip na tahip ng minulang sinapupunan na dambana ng mga antigo’t kabisadong ritwal na ginagampanan kong banal, itinatanghal noong diumano’y bago tinangay, sinaway, at pinasayaw ang laya’t layaw sa litanyang lagutok ng isang libo’t isang nakayuyukayok na himutok.

Michael M. Coroza


Mga Tula
Edgar Calabia Samar

Pitong taon ako nang una ko siyang makita: hindi tao, hindi hayop, nakasiksik sa sagingan na tinatanuran ng matandang poso. Tiyanak! Sabi ko, nanlalaki ang mga mata. OA, sabi niya naman, naroon at wala sa panahon. Saka siya lumundag at tumuntong sa balikat ko, buong buhay kong pinasan, mahigpit ang kapit sa ulo ko. Hindi siya nakikita ng iba— ang halimaw na laging may puna sa iniisip ko’t binibitiwang salita, tulad ng, “Pitong taon ako nang una ko siyang makita,” dahil bulag ako’t naliligaw at siya ang nakatagpo sa akin.

Ang Kasiyahan ng mga Isda
Wala silang alaala, at hindi nila iyon inaalala. Ang unang kamangmangan ng tao: na sukátin ang panahon, na sabihing may sandali’t—saglit lamang— Hindi ko na nakikilala ang mga ilog na nilanguyan namin noon, bagaman pinapangarap ko ang muling mga pagkikita. Na hulihin ang kidlat sa ikalawang pagdapo sa iisang puno, ikulong sa bitag ng baboy-damo, kamukha ng mga sinaunang diyos. Walang apoy dito, sa kung gaano kalalim ang pagnanasa. Tutubo mula sa lupa, mag-uugat ang mga alamat ng kung ano-anong puno’t halaman, uulan ng damulag at kumag sa santinakpan sapagkat kailangan, sapagkat kailan ba nagkulang ang kalikasan sa ating pangangailangan. Umiikot ang usok ng bagong-sinding katol sa pampang.


Bagong panahon at bigong paglilimayon ng insekto’t insurekto ng sibilisasyon. Magkaniig gaya ng mga sinaunang hayop na nangawala na bago pa man binasbasan ng pangalan. Sumpa ang gunita at ibig nating manumpa.

Sa Isang Madilim
Gubat ang laberinto sa gaya kong lumaki sa Ciudad. Naroon ang katawang naliligaw bagaman may kaluluwa ang mga kiyapo at lawan at banug at halimaw na maaari sanang hapunan ng pagal na isip. Narito ang Pluralidad na hinananap: Sanlaksa ang biyaya, at hindi mabata ng tao. Kaya’t ipinakilala ang Diyos: Nag-iisa at madilim ang pinagmulan, ipinamana sa atin ang paghahangad ng liwanag, na bahagya, lamang ay—Ay! Anong panglaw, anong sarap mahulog sa ningning!

Samantalang Sakop
Nakabitin sa paa ng halimaw ang kuting, inaakalang ina niya ang hayop na iyong maglalaho sa balat ng lupa. Ikinadena ang lahat ng demonyong natagpuan sa ating panig ng daigdig. Pinatitig sa sariling anino’t binuwang. Nakapalig ang kuliglig, at umaapaw ang salimbayang tinig sa paligid. Darating ito, ang gabi, sanlaksa ngunit iisa ang mukha, gaya ng lahat ng mga multo sa araw ng paghuhukom. Nagkakalas ang hinagap, samantalang iniisip ko ang lahat ng baliw sa mundo. Hinangad namin noon na maging mahigpit ang tula, manaludtod, pilantod na sumasayaw sa hininga’t pahinga ng kapansanan, ng pinapasang karamdaman. Maanong linya na lang ang nalalabi sa mga pinaniniwalaan ko? Gurlis sa dibdib. Haba ng sibat. Patlang sa pagsusulit. Panlalabo ng abot-tanaw. Nakamata ang maninila sa katiyakan ng panganib, sa dunong ng mga bulaklak, sa dungong pintig ng pantig ng mga salitang mababaon sa limot. Pangako, narito ang sentimental sa pananakop, ang karumal-dumal sa pakiwari. Ang paglalabo-labo ng mga kahinaan ng

Edgar Calabia Samar


humihigpit ang sandali. at saglit na sumasabog. bunot. kahit gising. sa dapat dibdibin. paglaya. Lumipad. sapagkat iyon ang bulong ng panahon. Ang pagbaril sa tatlo. sampalataya! Pangawan Nanaginip ang bata ng mga tala na bumaba upang maligo sa lawa. walang talinghaga. palakpakin. dahil nagngangalit ang oras. upang sumulong. Kabiguan ang katiyakan ng mga bagay. sampalok. Walo ang diwatang nag-aatas ng pagbabago. Hindi nakikipagkaibigan ang daigdig—at anong panig iyon—maaabot ba nitong balangay? Tinuruan tayong makipagkamay. ulitin ang daigdig sa bawat pagkakamali. pandin. anong diwata. Walang baon. at minsa’y lumabas siya’t tinubuan ng pakpak nang dapuan ng liwanag ng buwan ang gulugod.mundo. o. kalibato. at naiwang alamat ang inang nakamulagat sa durungawan at nagdaan. apat na bata nang basta-basta. dahil walang linyang pipigil sa paningin. at 128 128 Likhaan 6 • Poetry / Tula . kumaway. Nagluksa ang pitong lawa dahil lumisan ang bata at iniwan ang pagtula. muhikap. na magbago. o mahulog sa pag-uulit. dalit ng panginoong di nakikilala. Walang biro maliban sa pagsukob sa mabigat. Layag. umalalay sapagkat naroon ang palad. Paghawak ng Panahon Samantala’y sakop ang daigdig. gaya ng yambo. magdidikta ng kahulugan.

saka ko pinag-isipan kung bakit hindi ako sumigaw. sapagkat hindi siya magpapakita gaya ng ninunong nagpakalunod sa lawa upang huwag mawala ang tiwala natin sa hindi masasabi ng salita. sapagkat dito lamang sa daigdig ng salita. ang tadhana—ang guhit na nag-uugnay sa akin at sa mga salitang unang binigkas para pangalanan ang bayaning naglalakbay ngayon sa kung saan. Sumigaw man ako. ako na nagbibilang ng malas. paano. ng tulang daigdig ko mahahawakan ang panahon na humahawak sa atin—at kapag napagod ang isa man sa atin ay ilalahad ng kaninong palad. at wala tayo sa wakas. ano kaya ang inihiyaw ko sa bangin? Bangin. Pananahimik ang magtatawid nitong katinuan sa pag-uwi … Edgar Calabia Samar 129 . ang nakapagitan sa mga lupain ng damdamin! Damdamín man ng mga lawan at layag ang pananahimik. sapagkat ano na nga ba ang nangyari sa atin? Alingawngaw Pag-uwi. salamat sa mga salita ni Laurenaria at ni Ligaya.ang kamay niya sa aking leeg. sakaling nakamata ang talinghaga kahit wala siyang larawan. sapagkat wala tayo roon. gaya ng alamat ng buhay.

magsasalikop ang mga palad. itutupi ang katawan. basura. silang may tungkod na kumakalmot sa gaspang ng aspalto. silang may basyong napupuwing sa kalansing ng mga mamiso. Gaya ng bawat posteng nalalampasan. Mabuti na lang. susuyurin ang gawa-gawang abenida ng mga diwata’t aswang. ang mag-inang namimitas ng bote’t lata. Madalas. madilim ang lungsod. may mapa ng santelmo sa aking palad. Kailan ka pa lalakad? Ekisan ang mga walang-petsang kahon sa kalendaryo. alam ko ang hinahanap ko.Sa Kanilang Susunod ISANG KALiPUNAN NG MGA TULA Charles Bonoan Tuvilla Kailangan ng Ilaw sa Maraming Lugar Bulag lamang ang nangangapa sa lungsod ng karatula’t etiketa. sa paanan ng abandonadong pabrika. lumalamog sa kongkreto ang rapas na talampakan. poot. Saan ang tagpuan? Hanapin sa punit na pilas ng lumang talaarawan. Ang problema. Madilim ang mga kalsada at hindi ko maikubli ang takot. Nagdarasal ka pa pala? Sa dambana 130 . madawag kung humawan ang bagamundong hakbang. kumakapit sa aking paa’t bisig ang sangsang at dahak ng mga kalye’t eskinita— sulputan ng iba’t ibang kulay at hugis ng supot. May ningas ng pagkapanatag sa bawat estrangherong nalalampasan— sa may barandilya. liliko sa mga sukal ng agam-agam. marahang hahakbang. Saan na nga ba ako? Kailangan ng ilaw sa maraming lugar. Muli. Lilingunin mo ang natutunaw na anino. ang nakabalagbag na taong-grasa. Bata pa ma’y natuto na tayong yumukod: makikiraan lamang po.

Hindi lang ako. binubusalan ng sanlibong atungal ang mga usal: tabi-tabi-po. kaming kinaladkad sa tarik ng mga kawing-kawing na braso ng mga baging at sanga. masama ang panahon. makikita mo dahil hindi pa kayang bitakin ng iyong pagkuyom ang bubot na bunga ng kongkreto’t bakal. Nangangapa sa tambak ang mag-ina. iyong winika. may ilan ding sumugod sa mga misyon ng kamusmusan. kaming sumisid sa mga lunting dila nitong burol. Matagal nang naihalo sa graba’t semento ang sandangkal na tore ng punso. Saglit. hindi lang ako. Doon sa bangin. ang sanlibong kalmot ng dama de noche sa iyong binti habang hinihila ka ng hingal at kinakaladkad mo paakyat ang pagal mong katawan. dahil panay likod ng mga panganay mong pinsan ang iyong sinusundan. Panay marurupok na sulok ng sindak at bitakbitak na suhay ng pangamba ang itinirang muhon ng alaala: ang kalawanging bakod ng maliit na kapilya. Ayon sa Matatanda May sandaang baitang ang Sentinela. kaming yumakap sa leeg ng tuyot na palapa. kaming nagtampisaw Charles Bonoan Tuvilla 131 . makikita mo. Balang-araw. tanaw ang lahat. Balang-araw. tila nagbubungkal ng bisig para sa pundidong parola. Sa pagtawid. ang nakangingilong amoy mulang silid ng dentista. ngunit tuwing binabalak mong bilangin at balikan ang hakbang: may nag-aabang sa Lungsod. habang minsan na silang ngumata ng mga dahon nito’t lumusong sa ragasa ng Ilog Bago. Bago ako. aandap-andap ang bombilya.

Narito ang pilat. babalik tayo doon. kaming hingal na humimlay sa buntong-hininga ng mga nangangalukipkip na makahiya. Minsan. Binubulabog na ng mga banyagang tugtugin ang siesta ng alon at bato.” mungkahi ng serbidora. nagkagalos ako sa siko’t palad. makikita mo. Dito. hitik sa mga pisngi ng ulap. tignan mo. Makikita mo. Sa Paghihintay Who looks outside. “Baka gusto ninyong pumasok. Dinudungisan ng mga magkasintahan ang orisonte sa aking tapat. ang maghapong pagsusuklay ng hangin sa parang. dreams. Balang-araw: Dito kami nabuwal. nagkalat ang mga turista. at narito ang sugat. kanina lamang ay isang bughaw na telon. Halos apat na oras na rin. 132 Likhaan 6 • Poetry / Tula . habang abala sa pamimingwit ng suki ang mga waiter. nawalan ng kakapitan. Mga pilas sa laman na ramdam at naungkat lamang kinabukasan. Gaya ng mga tuyong dahon ng ipil. narito ang lamat sa sakong.” Hindi ko ito napansin. nagpaukit ng mababaw na sugat sa tuhod at balikat. Doon. ituturo ko kung saan kami nadulas. may naghihingalo’t nakaluhod na kubo. Boss. Dito ka muna. Nabanggit ko na ito di ba? May sandaang baitang ang alabok-putik ng matandang lupa. awakens. pain ang serbesa’t bagong-hangong talaba. Hula ko. akbay ang kayumanggi nilang nobya. “Mukhang uulan. Who looks inside. Carl Jung Bumabangon nang muli ang mga upuan. narito ang mga gumuhong hakbang. hahanapin ko sandali.

” himok ng guwardiyang nakakapote ng itim. nagluluksa sa walang-tilang ulan. Kinakalawang ang hanggahan. patak. Boss. Maya-maya. mga daliri ng niyog.” Sa loob. May nagbukas ng payong. hinihintay ang patak pagsasamukha ng kanina’y patak parang tenga. parang tumila na sa labas: kita ang pagdadalamhati. Sa Kabilang Banda Kapayapaan ay laging sumainyo. May dalagang kinulam. ang sampayan ng mga di-matuyong agam-agam. Lalo pa’t walang buhangin dito: plastik at kongkreto ang nasa talampakan ng breakwater. Tuwing kumakatok siya sa aming mga pinto. silang nakasilong. May langib na puting rosas ang nagnanaknak niyang balat. niyakag nila ang mga tao tungo sa mga gawa-gawang bubong ng paligid. ang paghuhukay ng takipsilim. umaambon ng sampaga sa aming bayan. pagsang-ayon sa hinagpis ng hangin. tila naghihintay na lumampas ang karo ng di-kilalang bangkay. naglunsad sa karera ng sanlibong alabok. ngunit hindi marinig ang paghikbi. Isa-isang hinila ng guwardiya ang ilang upuan. bawat bisagra’t bintana ay kapwa yakap at taboy. Ilan na ba silang naligaw lamang sa gubat ng ambon? “Pasok na. Maya-maya. ang mga di-inaasahang silong sa mga biglaang dalaw ng ulan. Ang masama. bawal siyang tulungan. pagkapikit ng pinto. At nang rumagasa na nga ang mga supling ng maghapong pagtitimpi ng ulap. Charles Bonoan Tuvilla 133 . ngayo’y balikat sa nakalutang patak na ulap ng kandila. Dito kami natutong magtayo ng mga tahanang gawa sa pinto. “Matagal pa ’yan. ang libing ng maraming hindi-pagdating. Apat na oras. ang braso ng poste. Patak Nakatamdag ka sa batya. parang ilong. Maraming nakiramay. ito yata patak ang bibig.Matagal ko nang hindi nakakasalamuha ang tabingdagat.

nakatingkayad mong binubuksan ang marupok nitong pinto. Sa Ipinaglalaban Nakayukayok ang kinakalawang na tuktok ng isang latang hindi matamatamaan. pingas na labi ng tasa. Silang nakatingala. Kung kanino. tila pagbabaklas sa dibdib ng matandang anghel. Marahil. nilalangaw. ang langit ay pugad ng apoy at subyang. sa isang lumang kaibigan. Narito ang imbakan ng paborito mong medida. nagsasatitik ng konstelasyon ang mga kalawang sa pusod ng itim na batya. kilala kita. at siya. silang araw-araw na binabati. At gaya ng pagpapatunay ng lobo sa isang kantang-bayan. Sa bandang itaas. nakatalikod. karayom. 134 Likhaan 6 • Poetry / Tula . sapat na ang karton. Dito nalulusaw ang pulso. silang nakaturo. Pansinin ang isang matangkad na estante sa sulok. o maaaring sa estranghero— nakasalubong mo sa botika habang bumibili ka ng pampatulog. Sa halip. Sa Paglingon Narinig mo na ito minsan: Muli’t muli.At sumainyo rin. habang naghihingalo sa mababaw na burak ang mga walang pares na tsinelas. Kilala kita. hindi mo maalala. Ngayon. lumilingon sa mali. naglilimayon. Dati. sinulid. May pangangati ang palad.

Sa tapat ng iyong kaliwang dibdib. Lamig. at gaya ng dingding ng aking iniwang silid. ang mulat na pagkalinsad sa mga di-pamilyar na halika na. pero nasabi mo na ba sa kanilang may mga hinihintay? Unang iyak. sandangkal na litrato. Babangon ka. Ilang gabi ka na bang nilalagnat? Sa umaga. mga retaso ng mga di-sinasadyang pagluha. Sa Panahon Pwede bang itigil muna ang pag-ikot ng mundo?—Eraserheads I. halika na. ang kuyumos at tagpi-tagping kumot.naalagaan. ang pataba sa luksa’t panimdim. ipinandidilig sa ligamgam ng inip. Muli’t muli. bus pabalik ng probinsiya. Charles Bonoan Tuvilla 135 . Nakapagtataka: wala ito sa loob ng kahon. inuunti-unti sa daan. Alam mong hindi ito ang unang pagkakataon. Lagi. Tag-ulan: napapadalas na ang pagsibol ng mga bulak-pawis sa ilang bagay na walang-hininga. at sa paglingon. Tulad ng dati. kalansing ng barya. tila pinupulbusan rin ng amag ang aking dibdib. Siguro. Nasabi mo na ito minsan: ang mahalaga. ang iba’t ibang wika ng lungkot— ang hungkag na matres. wala kang maalala sa iyong panaginip. Linyang may pitong pantig. marahil. ang sampikit na pag-alis. isang bote ng nagyeyelong tubig na isinuksok ng dalaga sa bulsa ng kanyang bag. tila punit na seda ang talukap ng iyong mata.

tunay ito. Nakasilid dito ang isang tampiping may ngipin ng sanggol. Tatanungin mo rin siya kung anong oras na. Sasagot siya. “sa kasalukuyan. O misis na may kipkip na sanggol. ang mga alon ng pangungulubot na tila mga tikom na labing ayaw nang bumigkas ng pagsalubong o pamamaalam. tiyak na may lihim siyang bulsa. Maliban sa taludtod ng mga alamat na narinig at kinabilangan niya. Tatanungin mo ang matanda kung nasaan na kayo. Mapapansin ang ilang palapag ng guhit sa noo. Tag-araw sa kanila. Sa katunayan. ngunit hindi sila makararating. Nakatigil ang bus sa ngayon. “San Fernando. Linyang may pitong pantig.” Hindi ito totoo. Kukunin mo ang iyong kuwaderno.” Malayo-layo pa. IV. V. Sa kabila. Linyang may pitong pantig. III.II. mga lamat ng taon sa leeg. at sandakot na alabok. ngunit parang may inuusal maging sa kanilang katahimikan. O mamang putol ang paa. at isusulat: Nakapikit ang gabi.” Hindi na ito totoo. Matagal ka nang hindi nagiging bahagi ng ganitong kadiliman. tunay ito. minsan walang malay minsan h a b a n g buhay Halimbawa: Linyang may pitong pantig. may matandang nakadungaw. Para sa isa sa kanila ang pag-aabang ng kalansing ng barya. Linyang may pitong pantig. 136 Likhaan 6 • Poetry / Tula . Sasagot siya. mga hibla ng buhok. Patawad. Bigla mong naalala ang isang mama sa lungsod na nagalok sa iyo ng makintab na relo: “Boss. may pulubing kasama dito.

Nagbalik ang matanda. Santa Catalina.VI. kinalampag ang kampana’t iwinagwag ang sanlibong banderitas ng lumang bayan. San Ildefonso. at sa pagsisimula pa lamang ng kanyang pangungusap. kanina. habang inaamag ang mga eskaparate’t kisame ng aking dambuhalang silid. sa wakas. Santa Maria. Santa Cruz. Noong unang panahon. Simula. ang pagpapalit-daigdig. ambon. ay inaabangan na nila ang pagtila ng hinala sa dibdib. ang panghuhula sa dulo ng kuwento’t kani-kaniyang bugso ng ambon. ang paglingon at pagbalik ng panahon. Gaya ng inaasahan. Gaano kahirap ang pagbalik? Tanging mga bayan ng San Juan. Ngayon. Alam ko na ito. VII. noong isinilang ang alabok at bagong dilat ang langit. Magtitipon ang mga tao sa liwasan. ito tila umuulan dito titila ito lamang. Narinig ko na ito dati. Santo Domingo at ilan pang mga ngalan ng santo ang iyong maaalala. Gaano kapayapa ang pag-alis? Mas marami’t malalim pa ang lubak ng iyong sariling talampakan kaysa sa mga kalsadang iyong daraanan. ang pagsalubong ng hangin: iniwan ang aplaya’t bundok. ang pagpili ng tauhan at katauhan. ang habambuhay na pagtatagpi-tagpi sa mga haka-haka ng alaala. Santa Lucia. ako lamang na naman Charles Bonoan Tuvilla 137 .

Minsan lang (na) naman. 138 Likhaan 6 • Poetry / Tula . Nakakainip. Sa Pagtambay I.silang ilang pagsilang ilang ulit palagi ulit na lang lagi-lagi. May basag na naman kagabi. Alam mong. tulad ito nito. minsan. mamaya. paulit-ulit na lamang. Ngayon parang kanina na naman at muli. Kasama ang ilang tuyong bulaklak ng naghihikab pang bogambilya. May pipilaypilay na pusang tumawid. Minsan. Sana dumating na ang pansit. Ilang minsan na. Minsan. hinakot ko ang mga bubog.

II. Marahil.   May pusang pisa sa gitna: pasador sa hiwa ng daan. magkatalikod ang mga askal. huli na niyang buhay.  pinili kong ilabas ang mga ipinasok ko rin noon. Nagbuhat din ako nang bagong-lipat sila dito. III. Nakakapagod. Paikot-ikot. IV. Pauwi na silang lahat.   Habang mahimbing ang matandang poste. nais nang makawala sa isa’t-isa. “Are you having fun yet?” Sandali na lang. nakalusot. papatayin na si Sinatra. Nang mag-isa kong itinawid ang mesa sa pinto. sa pansitan. Maaga-aga rin akong mag-aabang muli. Maagang magsasara ang bahayaliwan. Halos wala nang natira. napunit ang ngiti  ni Mayor sa poster. Hinihigop na ng sulok ang mga anino. Charles Bonoan Tuvilla 139 . Nagkasalubong ang tatlong butiki sa abenida ng pader. Ang mahalaga. pinapatahan na rin ang videoke. Ngayon.

Animoy lumingon din ang puno ng mangga.Sa Mga Pagitan Marahil. bumulusok. at nambulabog. angkop lamang na magmungkahi ng simula’t hanggahan: isang silid. pinunan mo ang namamayaning bulong. tulad nito: kanina. Ang ibig kong sabihin. Pansinin ang pilapil ng sapot sa kisame. ang mabigat na langitngit ng pintong nasa bingit ng bukas-pinid. Pangalanan natin ang mga pagitan. na magiliw nating sinasalubong ng ating mga basura. Gaano na nga ba katagal sumisilip ang sariling tsinelas? Sa kabila ng lahat. lungkot. ang pagpikit ng dalampasigan. Dito. ang paghahanap sa mga hakbang. ang busina tuwing alas-siyete ng umaga. subalit nakahakbang ka na. “Tumuloy ka” ang nais kong sunod na sabihin.  Ito. lalo na ang mga dina-masabi. dumudungaw ang ganap sa mga agwat. Sapat na ba ang mga patlang? Sa sulok. pinto. katawan. Nakarating na ba sa iyo ang lumang kuwento tungkol sa pagpapalit-tahanan ng dila at puso? Nauutal ang mga hulagway sa ating paligid. hanggahan. lagi. katahimikan. ngunit maliwanag sa ating umaga na: inilalatag ng matador ang mahimbing at kalahati-na-lamang na katawan ng baboy sa tabla. 140 Likhaan 6 • Poetry / Tula .  Madilim pa. Saglit. ang puwang sa pagsilang at kawalangngalan. ang pagbibigay-anyo ng sinag sa humuhulagpos na anino. unan ang duguang sangkalan. bintana. kadalasan. at nagsisimula nang pagdudahan ang mga di-pa-nasabi. katawan. mga alon mulang bakas ng basang gulong sa tagaraw. nakakulong. may hubad na banig. nakatanghod. binuksan mo ang bintanang matagal nang tikom at tila kapuwa tayo naumid sa buntong-hininga’t daing ng buong silid. bintana. sa aki’y may lagusan: balikat. pinto. hanggahan. at sa pamamagitan. Ilang beses na bang nagkulang ang tiyak? Minsan. mga alinlangang di winika’t sa lambat ng dila na lamang iniiwan. kaya’t nabitiwan ng mga sanga nito ang mga dilaw na pusong hinog-sa-pilit. Ganito: madilim ang tabing sa bawat hikbi’t tibok. hadlang: ang butas na tubo sa kalsada. pumutok ang mga dibdib. ang simula. Samakatwid. May nasabi ba ako? Tanghaling-tapat at sa huli. at tila nagtatapat ang pader na. nag-uukol tayo ng pagkukulang. ipinasok maging ang sapatos. sinisiyasat ang mga buod ng pagsasara: balikat. pagitan. malaon nang nilipol ng mga insekto ang hukbo ng mga basyo ng serbesa. taimtim ang nais na huwag malupig ang ngayon at ang loob. pagitan.

Nabasag na asin ang kaninang Dumuduyang kislap-tubig-dagat. Nakikipag-unahan Ang kabog ng puso sa ungol ng motor.Mula sa Agua Enrique Villasis Lumba-Lumba Nangangalay sa pagkakasabit ang largabista. Hindi mapatid-patid. 141 . Nasa unahan na raw namin Ang hinahanap. ayon sa giya. Ngayon ko lang napansin ang bahaghari na tila-ahas Na buntot ng baroto. Kailangang maghintay. Kanina pa kami rito. Bumalik sa dibdib Ang largabista. May itinuro ang giya. mabibigat na imaheng gumagapang Sa mahabang pilas ng seluloid na handang maputol. Humalik Ang largabista sa mga mata. Nasa iisang pintig na ang hugong Ng motor ng baroto at ng sarili kong paghangos. Panatag nang nakaduyan Sa sapot ang kislap ng kaninang tumilamsik Na tubig-alat. Inihalik sa paningin Ang layo’t anumang nagtatago sa rabaw ng dagat. Isinilid nila ang mga sarili sa dilim ng ilalim Nang madama ang pagkabulabog ng mga alon. Naroroon sila. Humimpil ang bangka. Nagbabaras na sa ilong ang lansa at gasolina.

Ang mga lambong ng kulap na umuunat sa pagsapit Ng unang liwanag. O ang ipaubaya sa idlip ang bawat pagkabagot Ng mga pasahero. Retirado itong ang tanging hiling ay isa pang paglalayag. Patuloy pa rin ang paghiwa nito sa pahina Ng dagat.Barko Wala nang ibang sisisihin sa pagkaantala kundi Ang kalumaan nito. Hindi maitatago na sa pagitan Ng hugong ng kanyang pagtawid ang ritmikadong Pagpugak na tila tisikong ginigising ng sariling Paghuhumingasing. Papaano ba idadahilan Ng mga tripulante na iisang makina na lamang Ang tumatakbo? Kaya napipilitan silang paulitUlit na ipalabas ang mga pelikula ni Dolphy. Sa pagkakahimpil nito sa laot. Isa pang paglalayag bago ang huling paghuhusga. Mula sa ispiker. May magbabakbak ng pintura sa hamba At ilalantad ang kalawanging langib. paumanhin ang hiling ng kapitan. ang kalumaan Ng barko ang tanging mapagbubuntunan nila Ng inis. Kung magising silang palyado Ang makina’t inaalo sila ng alon. binubulong ang mga nakasalubong na alon. Habang ang mga kasabayan Ay naging limot na alaala ng di-mabilang na sakuna O namamahingang binabalabalan na ng kalawang. Ngunit hindi ng barko. may ilan namang Idadaan sa iisang pangungusap ang kanilang mura At opinyon sa halaga ng segunda-manong bakal. 142 Likhaan 6 • Poetry / Tula .

May kumakatok na bangaw sa aming tainga. Wala nang silbi ang mga elehiya Sa mga bagay na niyapos ng banlik at nilansag ng baha.Imelda Inihatid ng ulan ang lawa sa lungsod. Ang muling makatikim ng hangin ng tinakasang baklad. nagbabaras ang alingasaw Ng pagkaagnas sa bawat sulok. Ngayong humupa Na ang pag-ibig ng tubig sa lupa. Humahangos ang mga palikpik habang hinahatak Ng buntot ang katawan na makalayo sa pagkakasadsad. Nananahan na Ang pulutong ng mga langaw sa mga naligaw na isdang Nakasampay sa mga halaman o nasiksik sa banlik. Nangungupas Ang kulay. Masuwerte pa nga kami. At may isang dadagan sa talukap ng hasang ng imelda. Kung papaano umaatungal ang mga bulldozer sa mga bangkay Na kanilang nalilimas. May pumupusag-pusag  na imelda sa mga kinumutan Ng putik. May ilang hindi tagaroon. tila isang naghihingalong sanggol. inilabas na ng kapitbahay ang kanilang aso. Mula sa kulungan. Marahil nadinig Ng imelda ang atungal ng pagkalam ng aming sikmura. kung papaano dumadahak ng lapok Ang mga patay na nakasuksok sa ilalim ng mga inanod na guho. Tila salbabidang handang pumutok sa pamimintog ang lawas Ng alaga. May nagbalita sa sinapit ng kalapit-bayan. Panatag na mapapalapat ang mga kaliskis bago sa pinakahuling Pagkakataon ihihinga nila ang pagsuko. Enrique Villasis 143 .

Umaalalay siya sa mga nagluluksa. Ang milagrosong tuwalya ni Veronica. May gutom sa mata ng mga nakaantabay na pusa habang kaisa ka Sa mga nakikipila para makapahid sa naagnas na mukha ng Kristo.  Makailang ulit na siyang naghatid ng mingaw. pinamumulaklakan ng nobena at lansa ng dahan-dahang Pagkabulok ng aligi. masamang balita. Bangka Ang totoo. Napakumpisal sa ginawang pagnakaw sa kalapit-palaisdaan. Tinatawid niya ang bangkay at dalamhati sa kabilang pampang. napakurus ang nagluto.Alimango May mukha ng Kristo na natagpuan sa lawas ng alimango. nanalig siya sa kalungkutan tulad ng pagtatapat Sa isang matalik na kaibigan na tanging katahimikan lamang Ang maiaalok. Papaano pa nila ito gagawing pulutan? Kaya nakatanghal ito Sa altar. Habang hinihilot ng di batid na karamdaman ang iyong gabi. sukbit-sukbit Ang kanilang mga sakit at pananalig. Minsan. Walang ipinagkaiba ang bigat ng luha sa tilamsik ng dagat. Madalas. sumusunod sa kanyang paglalakbay ang amoy Ng kandila’t dama de noche. Ito ang kanilang turin. 144 Likhaan 6 • Poetry / Tula . Paniwalaan. Gumagalaw ang Diyos sa kanyang nais. Tatlo na lamang ang paa at wala nang sipit. kung makailang ulit Nilalamukos ang aliwalas sa mukha ng mga nag-aabang. Walang sementeryo sa baryo Na kanyang pinagsisilbihan. Hindi ba makailang ulit nang lumitaw ang ulo Ng Kanyang bugtong na anak sa palapa ng saging. Bigyan mo siya ng dila’t kanyang Ibubulong kung paano gumagaod ang gaspang ng palad Ng mga hindi dininig ang panalangin. Dagsa-dagsa na ang tumutulak sa liblib-baryo. sa nalapnos Na dingding. o sa namuong patak ng kandila sa tubig? At nang maihango ang nilutong alimango. Wala siyang pinipiling Sugo.

Sa mga huling taon niya. Enrique Villasis 145 . Pumipintig ang mga ilaw na tila pumupungas na lungsod Sa kalawanging balat ng madaling-araw. sa unang pagkatuklas sa pugad ng alitaptap— Kung paanong sa likod ng bakbak na balat ng dapdap sumibad Na tila antigong kaluluwa ng puno ang mumunting liyab. mas nakikilala niya ang hinagpis habang Nakikinig sa naghihingalong pagtangis ng mga bituwin. solitaryo siyang Nakahimlay. Mainam na ito Para sa kanya. Likas dito ang ningas. Isa itong pagbabalik Sa kamusmusan. Sumisilay dito ang panganib. Laging Bagong taon. minsang sinulat ng unang nangahas lumandas Sa kailaliman ng dagat. sinasariwa ang ningning Ng kanyang kabataan at katapangan. May babala ang katagang ito. Umaasa siyang may pupuslit na palos mula sa mga butas. Wala siyang ibang pangitain sa ilalim kundi natutulog na lagim: bungo ng hindi kilalang halimaw ang mga bato’t patay na korales na maya’t maya’y bumabalikwas at napapahikab sa pagyugyog ng alon. Mapanila ang silaw. Tagiwalo Bagong hunos siya nang lumusong sa lawod. Ano pa nga ba ang silbi ng kamandag? Mas higit pa ngang mapanganib ang pag-iisa. Saligan niya sa pagbabagongbuhay ang dagat. sinasabing Mas madalas siyang nakapikit. Iniwan na niya ang pangamba sa pampang kasama ang lumang balat. Tanging siya lamang ang nakikita ng libo-libong bula. nilalayuan kahit ng mga alon.Tuwing tinutunaw ng pagdilim ang mundo. Nambibighani Sa malay ang pagkurap ng mga liwanag. Matutunghayan na hindi umiinog ang oras dito. May paanyayang matitimbang sa palad ang mga bituwin. Deep Sea Diver Hindi ito ang mundong madilim. Ito ang kanyang huling winika bago natulog at di na nagising.

Ilan na ang biglang lumutang Sa kamatayan. PugitaBampirang kumakapit sa batok o ang aninong kumakatok Sa salamin habang bumabagyo. 146 Likhaan 6 • Poetry / Tula . Madalas Tinatawag niya itong impiyerno. Sa pagkakahugot Niya sa pusod nitong lawod umaahon siyang isang bagong tao. Dito naibubulong niya ang mga limot na libog at lungkot. Ang mga sariwang sugat ng pagkatakot. salaysay ng nagsulat ng kanyang talambuhay. ang mga haraya Ng mga alamat noong pagkabata at nagsasaanyo ang mga ito Bilang mga alipato—mumunting luminosong diyablong Kumakahig ang mga pangil sa sahig-dagat. Isang napakahabang yungib. Matagal na siyang nakatungtong sa kabilangBuhay.Sa bawat biglaang pagdating ng dilim humuhubog sa alon Ang mga halimaw na nanahan sa alaala’t kasaysayan.



I do not walk. they just seemed to happen—from the tearing of the flesh in the motions of parturition. The child is expected in October. grown up now. now and then). checks 149 . and half of November is almost gone.The Last Gesture Merlie M. and all it comes down to is the last gesture. For motherhood is just something you go through with as little thought as possible. Maybe you got the dates wrong. all you have are random memories. I am still big as a house. A question to which there probably are no answers. my nurse aunt. don’t they have a say in the whole business of growing up the way they did with the kind of mother that they did have—best keep quiet and let the years put the memories away. No answers that anyone could lay out categorically as one would. tells me. aside from all that it requires of your body. Lying on my side. motherhood claiming all that it requires from you just like that. the things one had to do or did were a matter of course. does anyone out there want to know? And the kids. I sag like a badly stuffed sack. whether you have ever thought of those requirements or not. He palpates my belly. to feeding. Tita Meding. Then there’s the other question: What do you think of motherhood? When it comes to that. I cannot lie on my back. The middle of my body bloats with the unaccustomed weight. I waddle. your time and any effort it might demand. to reshaping your body to create hollows where a body may cradle or finding a place on one’s shoulder where a head might rest. My center of gravity has shifted to my belly. “How did you raise your kids?” If I had the answer. Still it keeps cropping up. and you had no choice in the matter but to go ahead and act as instinct and intuition demanded. When all is said and done. I am seeing Dr. and afterwards. how to make guava jelly or papaya marmalade (which I love to do to this day. I find myself even dumber. Thinking back. Ramiro on a weekly basis now. I t’s a month late. say. Alunan “How did you do it?” It’s a question frequently asked. all five of them and self-directed adults.

It’s time. I go to market. supper over. A little piece of myself had taken a life of its own. I ask myself: What does it mean. Perhaps. vegetables. I am all by myself again. I smile. We eat lunch untroubled. fruit. but there’s no pain yet. He nods his head and does not appear bothered. Nothing much else to do now but wait. the 17th of November 1970. I am too uncomfortable and uneasy to read. So I go home and try not to think of anything. gone. Tita Meding comes to visit and tells me: You might dry up. perhaps I will never be whole again. I tell myself without panic. We go to the doctor’s clinic. Thus. It must be cold. and the pain is coming in regular intervals now. In the meantime. Go to the hospital when the pains are coming in regular intervals. I hear an infant crying. On the third day. A piece of myself. I tell him. buy fish. put on a napkin to catch the drip. hovering between sleep and dream. My womb feels hollow. I attend to the tasks of the household. Let’s go. I feel the first twinges. As they wheel me back to my room. It goes on for two days. While they are cleaning me up. go home. beautiful and perfect. He gives a slight nod. I say to myself: You are complete now. Something of mine. I am relaxed. I succumb to sleep. complete? I feel for my last rib—it’s still in the old place. back to myself. I go home as he advised. So what do I do? Is there a way to stop this leaking? She shakes her head. and brings his stethoscope down to listen to the heartbeat. taken away. Except for that little bit of flesh which had been torn from me out there in the nursery. and go about the usual business of the household. the baby’s head is well-engaged. I cook. I tell him. A will of its own. 150 Likhaan 6 • Nonfiction . my first daughter. Recheck the small suitcase stuffed with the things I will bring when I go to the hospital. Relax. he tells me. They’ll be bundling her up soon so she’ll be warm. Nothing to worry about. She arrives at dawn. From here on I’ll have to be chasing after that little piece of myself. I feel a rush of fluid down my thighs. Complete. It splashes on to the floor at my feet. and he examines me for the nth time that month. Count the layette over and over. You’re both fine. An hour passes. apart from mine. It’s here. you have become a mother. stocking up the household for when I would stop doing all these for the Big Event. he tells me.the infant’s head. It’s now. On the 15th of November while tending the rice slowly cooking.

They wheel me at last to delivery. the nursing staff tells me. But he’ll only tell me back: Such a waste of time. Too tired. That’s why it took so long. More patience. push. he reasons. not he. Dr. They time the pains and walk me to the labor room. I can do this all by myself. he tells me. but without progress. Go on. Not to worry. sounding almost as if he’d had a hand in its making. I remind myself. In fact this is all mine to do. It’s just a matter of getting it over with. I tell him. He pokes me with his stethoscope. Alunan 151 . Hold it. It’s not ready yet. But a voice in my mind wants to say: Please stay with me. there’s not much I can do to help. he tells me before he goes. he urges me as a wave of pain engulfs me and the warm soft wet mass slides out of my womb. the midwife assisting tells me each time the contractions come. It must be nearly four in the afternoon. Three times. Push. or else he’ll strangle. At dawn the pains come in closer intervals. Merlie M. Some calls to make. I tell myself. The pains come faster at past two in the afternoon. Another time. We’ve done this before anyway. everyone in attendance. Ramiro says. No time to think. There. pleased with his accomplishment. at least wait with me. Yes. My performance rating. The nurse tells me: The father’s outside. So they walk me back to my room to wait some more. I ask the nurse as the hours progress to noontime. I’ve to hook my finger on it. Now go. The cord is coiled round its neck. I think to myself. Why is this taking so long. I’ve to work tomorrow. hold it. Maldito. They strap me to the table. I drift off to sleep. you’re having the baby. he tells me. the doctor says. Why does he have to work today? Well. Dr. The familiar pains arrive early at night just after dinner. Just ring if you need anything. he tells me proudly. You have a son. I pace up and down my room hoping to hasten the pace of this slow birth. So he goes. But I’m too tired to put it into words. Ramiro arrives after lunch. Once there the pains space out again. I’m alone in my room. this child’s waiting for his father. I do not need his help. remember? They’re always at my back for that. Besides. there. All night the pains come regularly. He takes me to the hospital and leaves me there. He goes to his clinic to see more patients. stupid. No. But at the peak of one tremendous spasm. a quota to meet.

Or if not. No. So what do I do to stop it? Sumpaa na ’day. He’s just a natural magnet for disaster. He escapes none of the ailments of infancy. In his eighth month. He’s not a weakling. he’s active and vigorous. diarrhea. or any chance to get hurt. but the purchase avails nothing. But this second child does get everything in the books: colds. will you please? Okay. stumbles quite often while learning to walk. not all the hope. Once it’s apart. I’ll give you three pieces of coconut. Medical fact? I ask her. maybe they’ll let him be. as though all these had been prescheduled for him. he falls from the bed. she says. asphyxiates on a bean he has stuffed into his nostril. You could buy him from the devil if you please. But the symbolic purchase avails nothing. and adds: They also tend to be sickly. all right. scrapes his knees. three blocks away from the house. it means he isn’t yours any more. Someone must buy him from you. not even all the love in the world could ever restore him to the womb’s safety. He still gets into scrapes. repeating what the doctor said. I tell her. I ask Tita Meding: Buy him. asthma. The marketplace. or maybe the first of June ’75. measles. it goes off to fulfill the promises of its own life. If somebody buys him from you.  This is the end of May. bronchitis. Tita Meding explains. whooping cough. That’s the way it is—every child is a piece of one’s flesh wrenched away to have a life of its own. and the fire has crossed the street to our block and is 152 Likhaan 6 • Nonfiction . fevers. It’s a way of tricking the Invisibles ruling our life. breaks his forehead open on the corner of a table. A non-event as births go. she says. They’d like to have him for their own. in his first two years of his life. Only a Bisaya would understand what this means. Not all the wealth. Maldito. all. Maldito. mumps. she tells me. just an old belief. Even she does not believe her own story. and he’s mine. How much should I sell him for? Who will buy? She laughs. is burning. Sirens awaken us about dawn. So she gives me three coconuts from the trees in her yard. I come home from the hospital with my third child. Tita Meding comes comes to visit the next day and tells me. Perhaps they envy you this child. He’s yours now. slips on wet floors.

It will take some time before electricity is restored. He has a job to do. and try to resettle ourselves. As daylight comes. I call the girls in the eerie dark. So off he goes to his out-of-town beat. Bughat na. the pots and pans strewn on the floor. I have two young girls. Fifteen minutes and the rush continues. we unload the household stuff and return them to their places in the house. I tell them. to help me out. Merlie M. laden with the smell of smoke and heat from the burned area. The streets begin emptying at nine. The refrigerator is plugged in. main transport service in the streets of Tagbilaran. I’ve collection calls to do in Jagna. Well. I can feel it. Past curfew I begin to bleed profusely. and he must not shirk it for any reason. Two testy children lacking sleep and excited by all the to-do. I lie still. Fire or no fire. hoping it will pass. But the fire spends itself and stops just three houses down the road. reeling from the calamity of the fire. We improvise a kerosene lamp with a jelly jar and some aluminum tinfoil wrapped around a wick made of a torn cast-off cotton t-shirt. I sit on the sofa cradling the baby while the girls get busy putting things back in place. the clothes still in bundles. He turns his back on his own disheveled household. and to keep me company. My back is wet now. I’m bleeding. Linda tells me. I need to go to the hospital. Martial Law is in force and the ten o’clock curfew drives everyone home early. Manang. makes the blood surge. We load the household essentials into the van. We wait for the right moment to abandon everything to the hungry spreading to the nearby houses. Alunan 153 . I am still bleeding and can’t be moving around too much. waiting until suitable arrangements for temporary shelter can be found. The older children are asleep. and a four-day-old infant. of those who escaped the fire with only the clothes on their back. it’s not his business to restore order here. Stories are rife. There’s something monumentally important about his work that brooks no argument. he announces: I’ve to work. but we do not drive away. Linda and Angie. the least movement. at least. I feel no pain. and the newborn lies quiet in its crib. like a fully-opened faucet. The girls have a name for it. including tricycles. As soon as the big things are in place. but there’s no electricity. soaking into the mattress. but I dare not get up. The streets are lined with folk huddling around the few goods they have been able to save. He turns his back on an unsettled city. even a little cough. just blood passing out like an unhampered spring.

Now they’re wondering how they came to be with us and not with Nang Miling and Noy Ed who live next door with their own brood of six. swollen with milk. Did we choose them. 154 Likhaan 6 • Nonfiction . I ask to put the baby to the breast. My breasts are painful. They’ve seen the fourth one grow in my belly. it was too much for you. less painful. am I? I ask her. she assures me. when he gets hungry enough. They are peasant girls. I turn over the mattress so I won’t have to see the blood when the sheets are changed. It’s two days before the bleeding stops. instead of those other children running around in the neighborhood? There are now four of them. The hungry infant cries in his crib beside my bed. My breasts are still painful. I can’t die yet. Linda stays to take care of the two older children. He comes to take us home. Don’t worry about it. full of milk. Angie goes with me to the hospital. Angie agrees. used by now to the breast. At the hospital they pack me up with gauze to staunch the bleeding. plying their trade on makeshift tables beside the charred remains of the old buildings. For I am seized with a sudden terror of death. the fire. on patrol duty in a motorized tricycle. Dr. carrying the newborn. a huge dark map of blood which is dry now. During the pregnancy I would let them feel the fourth one kicking inside me.  They’re wondering how they came to be with us. Ramiro tells me to stop breastfeeding so as to quiet the womb.Bughat gyud na. This is not unusual to women in the places where they come from. down the stairs to the tricycle. Two policemen in plain clothes. It’s the stress. They rush out to look for a ride. The infant. The infant can hardly swallow fast enough as milk rushes to fill his mouth. he’ll feed. now only charcoal and ashes on the ground. refuses the bottle. chair and all. and they volunteer to take me to the hospital. The girls tell them the problem. I tell myself. they tell me. hail them for curfew violation. I examine the bed when I get home. They sit me in a chair and haul me. The vendors are back. One morning I wake up hungry. the nurse tells me. My side of the mattress is stained. I am alive. I will live. not while I have these young children to care for. My breasts begin to feel lighter. We pass the market place. I’m not dying. You’ll be fine.

We’ll take him in. an explanation to satisfy their need. says the eldest. For most things. Merlie M. that is. He won’t give me a chance to use the bike. Rat. I can drive faster than you. You decide now. I’ll go talk to Pareng Ed and Mareng Miling. but the third one. chortling with glee. or if we survive long enough till life comes along with the answer. time has the answer. Romy is bigger. there’s always a bit of jostling and shoving and shifting among the siblings to fit the new one in. Maybe they can take on another one. The youngest is too young to realize what’s going on. Yes. rat girl. Years later it comes up again.  Each time a new child arrives. rat. The fifth—and last— child has finally arrived. rat. yes. Alunan 155 . You’re always ratting on me. Which of you want to go? The question stops the quarrel. You just ride up in the back. send him away. That’s settled then. and you take his place.Well. Girls don’t play with bikes. There’s much laughing and shouting as they run after the marbles rolling all over the floor and under the chairs. each by his or her own lights. I should drive. He holds it out to the baby who grabs them and throws them on the floor. If he goes away. listening in on the argument. He digs into his pockets and comes up with a handful of marbles. I stay. he could help Mama in the house. You’re a rat girl. I’ll talk to Pareng Ed. but by this time. The older one says: You go. You go too fast and hit all the furniture in the sala and make Mama mad. I hate him. I’m older. I’m a boy. The third one digs out more marbles from his pocket and hands it to the baby who grabs them and promptly strews them on the floor. and I drive. argument temporarily suspended. They have found. they are a little older. is round-eyed and speechless. So which of you goes? He stands up as if he really means to go off and make the deal. The question is forgotten in the scramble to find all the marbles. if we stay on with it. You’re the troublesome one. would you prefer to be there? he asks. stronger. You go. You’re a girl. Or maybe you can exchange places with Romy. But you won’t let me. Then I do not have to frame the answers. the younger boy says. The quarreling pair dive to the floor to pick up the marbles. I’ll have the bike to myself.

by giving her away to the junkman who passes by the house every day in his dilapidated bike to which a sidecart had been attached. Not like the way we were surprised when you came. right. The newborn displaces the older child who then regards it as a usurper. anak sa fairy. my lap. when we woke up. We have to ask them first. must be disposed of as quickly and as neatly as possible. Don’t cry. and the territory of privilege. Could they be asking: If she’s a fairy’s child. You’re my very own sweet child. I feel that no one could reach in to give her comfort. I tell her: We’ll do it tomorrow. as she huddles in a corner. She has to know first. “Please take care of her for me. amazed at this strange event and stare at her. anak sa fairy. The older kids gather close. Oi. They are uncomfortable in the face of such deep and sudden sorrow. the boys start chanting. She has prepared an old plastic laundry hamper in case we finally make up our mind to get rid of the undeserving newcomer. I keep watching her face as I tell this tale. you know. anak sa fairy. into which he loads all kinds of broken stuff for recycling. Stop crying now. there you were in a basket at the doorstep. There was a little note. what about us? Where did we come from? Did you also have to take us in? I put the baby in her crib and take the sobbing child in my arms. One morning. The usurper. Fairy. front. oi. the better to hear this interesting bit of history. it said. We’ve all agreed that this is probably the best way to deal with the problem. She nods seriously. The older children stop chanting. dancing around her. Her eyes grow large. We have to make sure she’s willing to take her in. say. We don’t mention anything about the fairy or the junkman all through supper and bedtime.” It’s a long time before she is quiet in my arms. My lap is always acknowledged to belong to the smallest and the youngest. Then her face crumbles and she breaks into sobs. We’ll talk to the junkman today so he can ask his wife.” A fairy gave you to us. not even 156 Likhaan 6 • Nonfiction .The territory of constant dispute is the place next to me. to her mind. We can’t be sure if the junkman and his wife would take in this little one though. it’s best that way. We were very happy to have you. fast asleep. you know. not even reacting to the boys’ teasing chant. We picked you up and took you in. It’s late afternoon when she wakes up. You were quite a beautiful baby. left. I rock her gently. oi. She is very quiet for a while. and she falls asleep. deep heart-rending sobbing. I tell her: He can’t just surprise her. “It’s all right.

to make a joke. The next morning right on schedule, just as we are sitting down to breakfast, we hear the junkman call out, “Booootilya, puthaw, plastic, diyaryo,” in his inimitable singsong. Every one turns to me as the junkman’s call gets nearer. She too turns her head to the voice outside the gate and looks at me. “We’re not giving anyone away,” I assure her. Everyone breathes easily. “Oh yes,” he says, “we’re keeping everyone. Unless, maybe, one of you wants to go …” Everyone smiles and shakes his head. The fairy girl smiles and bites into her bread. When the baby cries in the other room, she runs off to check on her. “Don’t cry. We’re not giving you away,” I hear her telling the little one. “We’re keeping you too.” So we keep all of them, for as long as it takes. They grow up, jostling and shoving and pushing each other to make a better fit, for themselves and for one another, taking up or yielding spaces, making room or crowding out one another in a house that’s quickly becoming too small for their growing bodies, staking his or her own claims on the family that’s already turning out to be too small and dull and tame for their expanding wits and burgeoning powers. Soon even the littlest one outgrows my lap and has to be let off to her own adventures.

It’s all mostly about letting go, one discovers in a lifetime of living. One grieves for the tiny pieces of self, torn in an agony of blood and pain from one’s body at birth. I have no right to say what men feel as they wait for the little miracle. My own experience cannot be a gauge, my own observations, this sense that since this little event takes place outside men’s bodies, they are not really involved in it, they are only lookers on, waiting. These are my own private thoughts, forced by my own experiences. They explain, to me at least, why, while the birthing goes through its stages, men can do many other things that have nothing to do with it—like talk politics, fight wars, sell warehouses of detergent bars, or talk to a client over coffee in a coffee shop where the temperature, the light, the music are carefully combined and modulated for optimum comfort and civility. Men wait out the birth process, discovering for themselves various strategies of indifference, for any reason, but mostly, perhaps, to escape the unavoidable anxieties and guilt.

Merlie M. Alunan


Birth, whether it takes place in the aseptic environment of a hospital or a lying-in clinic, attended by a host of health care givers, or in a farmer’s dark shanty, lighted by a kerosene lamp with only a palter in assistance and an assortment of women relatives to provide comfort and help, is essentially a woman’s job to do alone. It is a primitive, starkly animal process, in which for the rarest time in her life, she does nothing but focus on the most basic life processes, breathing, listening to the rhythms of her body, the pulsing of her muscles, attending to every signal it gives, until that one ultimate uterine spasm rises, demanding her fullest, most total involvement, an intense screaming moment when the beast in her blood takes over, propelled into being by the purest pain, so completely beyond her will, beyond memory, the wildest, deepest, most intense, most magnificent orgasm of all. Still, when it’s done, there’s no glory in it, despite what they tell you in most religious tracts about birth and motherhood. When the milk begins to flow and one’s breasts engorge in the eager flood of animal blood, and your nipples grow sore from the endless suckling as the infant begins to feed seriously, it is just one cycle of ache and pain and soreness. It’ll be better soon, everyone tells you, the old palter, your own mother, your neighbor who has a passel of children running around in the streets. Everyone urges you, “It’s going to be fine soon, that’s just in the beginning.” So I wait for when things will indeed be better, but they never do, going from day to day trying to redefine a new center of gravity with an emptied womb and overfull breasts, smelling of milk and sweat, grabbing sleep whenever I can, as I become, in this new state of being, an absolute slave to an animal I had helped bring into the world, and to whom I am obligated for as long as it takes, until it’s able to find its own place in the sun. No, there’s no glory in it, I will tell any woman who believes motherhood is her ultimate destiny and who thinks that if she fails to become one, her life will not be meaningful enough. Part of me becomes a distanced uninvolved observer, watching that other part that’s going through all the motions of mother care, her day absorbed by the routines of feeding, cleansing, diaper change, putting the infant to sleep, worrying about mosquitoes, witches, and such, who might catch this helpless infant unguarded and inoculate it with all kinds of diseases and unnameable evils which she (I) am helpless to ward off—doing all these in absolute surrender of all else I might be, or want to do, an impeccable dam to her whelp, if I might say so myself. Except for that watchful half of me with its own tab of reminders. Hey, this is no way to live; your brain will turn into putty if you go on this way;


Likhaan 6 • Nonfiction

you can’t be doing this all your life; how long can you put up with this … ad nauseam, ad infinitum. The watching half of me complains and scolds, angry and resentful for the time and space it has lost to this selfish demanding little beast that all infants are, jealous and envious of all the attention it takes for granted as its inviolable right. At the same time, I feel guilty over the grudge I keep well out of sight, out of the face I show to the world, out of my touch, out of my voice when I talk to this helpless, needy little tyrant, asking to be fed or changed, or warmed, for whom I believe I am ready to die, should it ever be necessary to do so for its life, despite. So it goes on. I go through this process five times in my life, all within a ten-year period. There is no reason for it, except that it just happened. And still, things do not become better, birth after birth, child after child. Sometimes it is simply enough to be without of pain, or to have a night of uninterrupted sleep. Or to have a little time to be alone to think my own thoughts, without anyone of them showing up with a scraped knee, a smudged face, a running nose. The self has fractured into as many parts as there are living children torn out of my flesh, the unitary solidity of my life has fragmented into each child, each fragment holding on to a piece of my heart with the cunning and insatiable greed of children. It has become entirely impossible to be apart and whole within the mere bounds of my own skin. They are very cagey, they are quick to know I’m there, or not there, eagerly grabbing me back every time I make the slightest move, always intent to keep me within the reach of their little hands, their little arms, their call. Despite the ironical other half of me that’s holding back from being completely absorbed, they become a habit I can’t beat, a habit I pick up from everyone of them, sustained, my ironical self tells you, by a mere illusion, the illusion of their need. They’re good at sustaining that illusion too. One day, the three-year old youngest tells me: When I grow up, I’ll travel all over the world. That’s great! You’ll be coming along, wherever I go, she announces with conviction. I’d like that very much. But I’m afraid I’ll be too old by then. I may not even be able to walk. We’ll get you a wheelchair. Where does she get this wisdom of hers, all three feet of her and only four years old. Around the world in a wheelchair? Wow! I don’t pit my wisdom against hers. I’ll push you. I’ll be big by then. Sure, honey.

Merlie M. Alunan


Her illusion that she will need me by her side forever—despite my straining, stressful, uncomfortable, uneasy, ungracious, guilt-ridden motherhood—I have wished for this to be true. But of course she won’t need me that long, none of them will, the observer part of me says with emphatic irony. Children never do, she tells me relentlessly, it’s one of the ground rules; you had better note that, let go when the time comes. Look out for that, when they’ll be on their own. You must practice when, and how. You owe it to them. And you owe it to yourself. In the long run, you see, what it’s all about is letting go. Yes, yes, yes.

“Do they quarrel like this all the time?” She grew up as an only child. I don’t blame her. She’s my houseguest, forced to share a room with four young kids. She’s been listening to the kids arguing all morning, and she must be quite tired of it. “With tooth and nail,” I assure her. “They shout and scream and kick each other from room to room. Impossible to stop them once they’re started.” “And what do you do?” She’s genuinely worried, turning to the rambunctious argument going on. “Just listen. And try to keep out of it.” “What if—” “One’s right and the other is wrong?” “Yeah. Or one’s bigger and stronger and bullies the smaller one?” “You got to teach the small one to stand up for herself, so you try not to take sides. And about being right or wrong, you can’t rule about that all the time, you know. Sometimes they’re both right, and both wrong, both all at the same time. They’ll try outshouting each other. You just plug your ears so the noise won’t get to you.” “Like now?” “Like now.” “You don’t stop them?” “They’ll stop themselves after a while. When one gives in. Or the other gets tired, or gets his way. Or something else distracts them. They get to settle their own issues if you leave them alone.” “There must be some ground rules.” “There’s a ground rule, yes. Don’t get physical, that’s all. Once they start clawing at each other, separate them and let them cool off in different parts of the house.”


Likhaan 6 • Nonfiction

“So they do become physical sometimes?” “Even babes go physical, they throw things, they hit you in the eyes with their little fists, they bang their own head on the wall to get attention, things like that. But it’s still a good ground rule, sure. You just see to it that it’s obeyed. You sort of grow eyes all over your head so you can see behind your back without actually turning your head. You become a wireless receiver to detect everything that’s going on while they’re playing in the other room, or when they’re suddenly very quiet. You’re watchful but not actually watching, that sort of thing.” “How d’you know your ground rule works?” “Oh, I don’t know. It must work, or else they could have killed each other already. At least as you can see, they’re still alive, no one is blind, no one has lost a limb, and they’re quarreling almost every hour of the day. Oh, I have other ground rules, but they’re more for me than for them.” “Ground rules for you?” “Yeah. For instance, don’t lie to the children. Don’t play tricks to get your way. If the medicine is evil-tasting, tell them so. If an injection is going to hurt, don’t deceive them by saying it won’t. Because if it does, you’re teaching them it’s okay to put one over someone else to get your way. It won’t be long before they’ll be putting one over you to get their own way. If they can’t go where you’re going, go out of the front door, don’t steal out of the back, just so they won’t cry when you leave. Of course you’ve to tell them why they can’t come. If they cry and protest, just let them, they’ll stop soon enough. It’s okay to let them cry. If you punish them and they cry, that’s okay. If they cry because you’re going somewhere without them, that’s okay. At least they know what’s going on. You can even tell them, You can cry if you want, but you’re still not going. Then they can’t use crying as a tool to get their way.” “That simple?” “No, no, not that simple. It’s simpler to lie to them, you get an easy way out. By telling them what’s what, you have to deal with the crying, you know, the sulking, the tantrums. So inconvenient, so messy. Like when a kid wants you to buy him a toy but you won’t, so he screams and jumps about and rolls on the sidewalk, crying fit to bring the sky down on your head. Just stand by till he gets over it. He’ll get over it. Of course people will stare, and that’s what forces some moms and dads to give in—the embarrassment of an intractable child cutting up a tantrum on the sidewalk. It’s okay, you’re not beating him up or anything like that. He’s just letting off steam. When it’s all out of him, he’ll stop screaming. You could brush him off a bit when he’s done and then

Merlie M. Alunan


you can go on your way. No need to scold. A cone of ice cream at this point wouldn’t be a bad idea, and you can tell him why he can’t have the toy. They get over this stage, you know, and you’ll both survive it. You will, he will, I assure you.” “What if you tell him, ‘Hala, see that policeman over there? He’ll get angry and put you in jail. You better stop crying now, or else …’” “Keep the policeman out. The issue’s between you and him. He’s badgering you to do something you don’t want to do. It’s a minor blackmail—‘Buy me my toy or else I’ll do something embarrassing …’ And the policeman, who might be a father himself, will probably advice you to buy the thingamajig, for heaven’s sake, to keep the peace. That would weaken your moral position.” “You make them sound like little devils. Kids can’t be like that.” She tries to smile. “Oh yes, they are. Little devils, barbarians, villains, blackmailers, thieves, bullies, manipulators—name it, they’re all these things. It’s their second nature. They’re born to think the world revolves around them. It’s their natural survival equipment. We adults pander to them because we’re predisposed to think of them too as helpless, innocent, sinless little angels. It’s in our nature to think of them this way, or else, how can we stand them. Well, I suppose they are that, up to a point. Soon enough they find out that if they cry, food comes, or a change of nappies, or someone picks them up to amuse them. So they’ll be crying more often to get attention. That’s the end of the angelic stage. Weaning involves more than taking away the breast or the bottle. It also involves letting them realize you won’t be dancing attendance to them all the time. Understanding human rights begins in the cradle, I’d say. And it’s bloody tough getting kids to realize this.” She’s getting uncomfortable. She comes out with the handiest weapon she can find. “You don’t like kids much, do you?” she accuses me. End of conversation. Maybe she’s right. I don’t like kids much. I never did, not even my own. I don’t go around now proclaiming enthusiasm for other people’s children, or for children in general, no matter how cute they are. Children are not picture postcards to be admired for their cuteness. On the other hand, children don’t seem to like me much either. That’s fine. But I respect kids a lot. I’ve tremendous sympathy for their state of being. It’s awful to be a kid and to have to learn all those life lessons at the time when all you want to do is gorge on junk food, play with your Game Boy,


Likhaan 6 • Nonfiction

confidence. Somewhere in the background must be some mothers who loved their children so well. Alunan 163 . or too unfortunate. or better. The thieves in high office. respect for others. earning one’s keep. If they can forgive me my mistakes. why shouldn’t I forgive myself?  Merlie M. if I had more patience. or too lazy to provide for one’s needs and there is nothing you can do about it because you’re just a kid. Times I think I could have done more. But this is something for fathers to think about. honor. sleep when you want. more energy than I could muster—these thoughts nag my conscience the whole time I am raising them. But all the five are grown up now. if I had more time. Whether I’ve done well by them or not. What about fathers. Raising children is initiating them into human civilization. that’s where this long complicated process begins. good manners. go anywhere you want and go home anytime. Or to have the biggest appetite in the world and to be hungry because one’s parents are too poor. the insatiable natural greed that knows no limits and is beyond satisfaction. but remain infantile as far as their humanity is concerned. All I can say is I’ve done my best for my own kids. Fathers on the other hand are either absent or do not participate in the rearing process. perhaps this too. are the prime suspects for the kind of character that children develop over the years. stoking without their knowing it. diligence and perseverance. I don’t know. more kindness. humility. is part of the problem. every little whim. none of them seems to hold any major grudges for their upbringing. Thus they might leave kindergarten and become grown men and women. On the other hand. even for us adults. Civilization is a tough thing to assimilate in the all too brief years of childhood—cleanliness. Civilization—a big word. go out slumming. that’s what I think. the ones that bring this country to shame time and again and suck the lifeblood of this nation are children who haven’t learned what civilization’s all about. Anyway. responsibility for one’s actions. more television all hours of the day. you might ask? Why blame only the mothers? Because in this country the mothers or their surrogates are the constant presence in almost every child’s life and hence. they can only think to indulge every wish of the stomach. respect for one self. As far as I know. good speech. I tell myself. They’re spared from blame by default. get as dirty as you could be and not have to be forced to take a bath. industry. The ifs continue to grate in my conscience even now. If I had more money.

All those things are “natural” with children and mothers. yes. Not many of these memories are happy ones. mainly because the child is grown now. I should say. It’s over and you did a great job. awkward. why do you remember only the bad? They’re not bad. the room. as far as I’m concerned. the inevitable wound in one’s center. Flesh torn from my body they might be. yes. or at least. it is to be raking up these useless memories. and is apt to say: How tacky it is for Mom to talk about what’s over and done with. can’t you just leave all that behind? Aren’t things better now? For you. I should let them know they’re what bind us to each other. smelling of blood. dismissively. I agree with them.I’ve nothing great to say about it. they tell me. as other imperatives overtake us. I’ve no great thoughts about this business called motherhood. are memories. or have the wrong view about them. devastatingly: Enough of that drama. one of them might chide me. one loses the right even to one’s memories. But it’s also true that as one grows older. I should tell them. the sheets. the very second they start breathing 164 Likhaan 6 • Nonfiction . Come on. I keep hearing these things until I too lose my own particular perspective. Why should I even indulge in remembering anything at all? they ask me. all of you. for us … Afterall. You have it all wrong. They can’t follow me into my own labyrinth. they’re what bind me to each one of them. hey. surely there are good things to remember too. no matter how much you air the beddings or dry them in the sun. throbbing with the spasms of birth. sore breasts. Or. or I’m not cool enough. I have only my memories. I keep dredging these messy things up when I should just let them pass as they deserve. how silly. but this I know at every moment of birth. You can’t dwell on that forever. it’s done with. What’s the point in hauling up the past over and over till one sounds like a broken vinyl record? There’s more than enough in the present to keep us occupied. sticky. How correct they are. the pillows smelling of pee. in my mind. it couldn’t have been that bad. Yes. they tell me. What about sleepless nights walking a sick child? Oh. No one really wants to listen to these memories. they are to be expected. sweat and milk. not even the child about whom they are. I am ashamed to consider that indeed I may be remembering the wrong things. it happens to everyone. indeed. someone’s bound to tell you. as anyone can see. right here in my heart. Much of what remains. But their memories are different from mine. Or another one would say: Well.

yes. even of the memories.on their own. or else. Merlie M. and helpless as they are. To let go now. Let go. how will they get on with living? Yes. arms to hold them and give them comfort— they’ve won from me and from the universe their freedom to be. I know what they’re asking from me now—the last gesture. if I can. yes. the final act. Alunan 165 . already brawling and squalling for what they need—food. warmth.

The relationship between fiction and nonfiction is. and still seems. and wanted to send three Filipino writers to Spain to visit the places in which Hernandez had lived and worked during his short life. then one can write anything. but even then was stymied by the scope of the assignment. I accepted the task with a degree of cockiness. and living the same life. hellbent on an orderly taxonomy. Forever attached to each other. believing. Up to that point I had written only fiction and the odd feature article or two about smaller places— restaurants. that of conjoined twins. resorts. I believe. found myself en route to Madrid. The Instituto Cervantes in Manila was planning to commemorate the centenary of the Spanish poet Miguel Hernandez the following year. sharing vital organs and bodily fluids. and I embrace any opportunity to travel. I received an offer for a rather strange commission. accompanied by scholarly essays by Hernandiano experts.Traversing Fiction and Nonfiction in Travel Writing Vicente Garcia Groyon I n 2009. I spoke very little Spanish. Still. I had done some preliminary research into my purported topics. Was I to focus on Hernandez and his troubled life? Or was I to concentrate on the country? Or should I use Hernandez’s poetry as a lens through which to view Spain? I have no claims to being a travel writer. Well-meaning society-at-large. cities—never an entire country. It was only when I was finally there that it sank in just how unprepared I was for this endeavor. with my fiction writer’s bias. and knew next to no one in Spain. I had never been to Spain. so I accepted the project and. and to each write a travel essay about the experience. would prefer that the twins be separated so 166 . Still. One would imagine that a centenary edition of his poetry. after a flurry of preparations. could read even less. I call it a strange commission because it seemed. that if one can write a decent story. would have been more apt. a rather roundabout way of memorializing a poet’s life and work.

whose realistic novels claimed to be true stories. with their own individual identities. Further back. These days. as in Truman Capote’s nonfiction novel In Cold Blood (1966). memoirs. the better to boost credibility and. in an age when romance had become a debased and derided form of reading material. The recent to-dos about the fictiveness of certain books and films presented as nonfiction. It is the union of history and romance. to bolster support for their expensive expeditions. the precursors of the still popular “I-novels. one merely qualifying the other.” Real-life stories of crime and passion were written down and read as sensational potboilers. indicate how far we have come from journalist Daniel Defoe. Readers are all too willing to believe the veracity of something that they’ve read: there is a pleasurable frisson in the certitude that this really happened. As a fiction writer. Realism is the point where fiction and nonfiction are joined. which accounts for the success of even the most banal biographies. what results is a mere version of reality—a fiction. that his Quixote was a mere translation of a found manuscript. or histories. as did many of the writers of his time. Miguel de Cervantes pretended. and we are used to seeing the world as a large gray area. Once reality is filtered or curated by an individual consciousness. the advent of the New Journalism in the United States saw nonfiction writers blurring the boundaries between fiction and nonfiction. yet even Capote’s “invented” genre maintains the separateness of the two categories. but to me. therefore. and if they actually happened to me.each can function autonomously. how many of the epic writers believed that they were writing histories for the future generations of their societies? In a more recent era. If we proceed further to the beginnings of narrative. no matter how close to the truth it comes. I often deal with readers seeking to confirm that events in my fictions actually happened. the idea of multiple truths arising from multiple subjectivities has gained comfortable purchase in mainstream thought. conquistadors embellished their logs and journals with fantastical details. and their children carry their mixed DNA blissfully unmindful of the contradiction. and autobiographies were presented and read as novels. and repositioned the border between fiction and reality by showing his heroes responding to a world that had read about them in the best-selling first volume and now treated them as celebrities of a sort. Vicente Garcia Groyon 167 . it seems physiologically impossible. most famous being the scandal of James Frey and A Million Little Pieces (2003). In medieval Japan. respectability. travel journals were stylized to produce deliberate and specific emotional effects.

which accounts for the frantic urgency with which I initially approached the assignment. to obtain leads on “the Spain of Miguel Hernandez. I did so as a naïf. ready to absorb the experience as fully as I could. in particular—in favor of getting at something more “real. However. Pritchett’s The Spanish Temper (1954). veracity.” and in Orihuela I would be hosted by two Hernandiano experts who would tour me around the city and answer any questions I might have. supposedly instrumental in shaping the image of Spain for America and England. In Madrid I would meet with writers and scholars who had studied Hernandez. When I took on the travel essay assignment. which was set during the period of Miguel 168 Likhaan 6 • Nonfiction . While I had read a fair amount of travel literature over the years.Writing students are usually taught the value of precise. Still. where he died and is buried. The slippery notions of truth. where Hernandez had spent several years as a rising literary star and an ardent freedom fighter in the Guerra Civil.” whatever that was. and factuality are all that separate these genres of writing. In fiction. concrete language. this skill finds its way into description—the hallmark of realism. and landed in Spain with my senses on red alert. a revered English perspective on Spain. as it turned out. Nonfiction writers are taught to use the techniques and tricks of fiction. the better to render reality with fidelity and accuracy on the page. as well as Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940). as I discovered while working on the commission. I don’t believe readers are yet ready to take down the boundaries. I had also been advised to avoid the clichés of Spain—the bullfight and flamenco. S. which strives to create in words an unimpeachable illusion of reality. to having permeable boundaries between these genres. or what it would be about. and writers find that there are advantages. Through my research. I hadn’t a clue how to actually write a travel essay. I had read and enjoyed Sir V. nor could I sense what the finished essay would be like. I had decided to limit the range of my tramping to Madrid. I gamely put my best foot forward. as well as pitfalls. as well as each writer’s degrees of commitment to honesty and objectivity. to Orihuela. Packing too much into my itinerary would have reduced the country into a meaningless blur. the small city in the Valencia region where he grew up and which figures prominently in his poetry. Just how much Spain could I take in. I had two weeks and a limited amount of funding. and to Alicante. the better to make the reality they are documenting come alive. given my time and resources? Not a lot.

my nationalist historical education has tended to cast Spain as the oppressive empire from which we had to fight to liberate ourselves. All Filipino students are required by law to read the two novels of National Hero Jose Rizal (Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo). It didn’t help that Rizal was executed for treason and subversion against the Spanish crown. I had jumped greedily at the chance to see Spain at another’s expense. The Philippines was a colony of Spain for three centuries. In the finished essay. and continues to bear the name of the most significant monarch of the Siglo de Oro. this state of mind is readily apparent in the photos I took in Madrid. This was the nature of the raging inferiority complex that beset me as I took in the wonders of Madrid for the first time. symbolically shutting the door on our colonial past and ensuring that when I arrived in Spain. I wrote: In Madrid. were finally stricken by law from the curriculum. This proved quite tricky and fraught with hidden landmines. Madrid throbs with pride and confidence. In hindsight.Hernandez’s guerrilla career. While the Philippine Revolution against Spain is much too distant to have any tangible impact on someone of my generation. long a requirement of collegiate education. at last. that such a country could have wanted to rule the world. shunning human contact unless absolutely necessary. imposing its gargantuan will and its power over nations too weak or clueless to defend themselves. I felt that using this lens as I worked on this project would be akin to biting the hand that bought my plane ticket and paid my hotel bills. I fixated on the grand. having felt it bubble up in the wake of an insensitive remark or gesture from Spaniards I have encountered. steadily acquiring half of it. its magnificent Vicente Garcia Groyon 169 . gaping quietly as the unfamiliar sights. It is a resentment that I am aware of. I harbor a received resentment of the former colonizer. it seems clear. but I had never had to confront it directly. On the other hand. forever looking up at things. Spanish language courses. I would have to carry a phrasebook and dictionary with me at all times. I was overly polite and meek. finding myself in Spain for real. Although my relationship with Spain is largely secondhand. large edifices. and yet I felt I had to remain loyal to my countrymen. Yet. taking them in from a distance. so I was somewhat beholden. even obvious. if I was to write about it at all. I realized that I needed to find and shape my own perspective on the country. neither of which cast Spain or Spaniards in a favorable light. as if I had been reduced to a tiny insect on the sidewalk.

In my case. without an articulated agenda. but I quickly realized the futility of such a strategy. approaching a place with an assignment in mind already colors the experience. an outsider unfamiliar with the country. the stranger it became. and as I traveled about. For instance. and strangers are kept at a distance. as well as filter it through the sensibility of a long-dead poet. my “I” was a newcomer. eliminating any aspirations to objectivity one might hold at the onset of traveling. whether or not this entity chooses to reveal itself as an explicit “I” in the narrative. Thus it would not matter if I ended up writing about Spanish clichés. 21stcentury participant-observer. fiction writer. in my relentless pursuit of the ghost of Miguel Hernandez. my own contribution would be insignificant if I did not infuse it with that which only I could contribute to the subject: my own personal. Not only did I have to convey my first impressions of an unfamiliar place. a sensibility. and bearing various other signifiers: Filipino. To begin with. I grappled with the assignment the whole time I was in Spain and for several months after. 170 Likhaan 6 • Nonfiction . as I labored to complete the essay. and I wonder what sort of essay I might have written had I done so. I blinkered myself quite effectively. because the clichés would at least have been experienced by and through me. The more I thought about the assignment.buildings shouting “Look at me. but I also needed to consider it alongside its historical existence in the 1920s and ’30s. I planned my itinerary with my purpose in mind. Undoubtedly. all of which I realized I must have passed on one of my rambles. wanting to place the subject matter front and center in my essay. I initially resisted the role. or not.” Everything seems designed to be seen from a distance. I completely forgot about an aspect of Madrid that was closer to home and would have excited me to no end had I remembered—the city had once been the stomping grounds of several 19th-century Filipinos who went there to study and returned home to lead the Philippine Revolution against Spain. as well as a few memorials and markers. my impressions of Spain would have been quite different had I gone in cold. biased perspective. and therefore worth a closer look. moving through a place and an experience. all travel writing is simply the story of a consciousness. leaving me with the niggling feeling that I was only experiencing a small fraction of what Spain had to offer. I mentally categorized things as useful to the project. so to speak. Many of their haunts still stand in the old quarter of the city. I recognize that a travel writer is never objective—in a sense. Given all the material that has been written about Spain.

the travel writer is expected to be an authority. and allow sensation and impression to land and take root as they normally would. finally. Would that travel writers could work in this way. and to make it my story of my trip to Spain. which creates its own fictions. to me. and then the frequency of writing gradually dwindles. Thus. Just how factual did I have to be? Which brings me to another roadblock: I’m a terrible note-taker. When I have a camera with me. the contents of my Spain diary are typical: an outburst of words and details the first few days. and I was able to take notes continuously in my seat. ensconced behind glass in a comfortable chair with a convenient tray to write on. receipts. the most daunting aspect of the assignment—having to know enough about Spain to write about it credibly. To a large extent. A detail is selected for retention while one is discarded. cards. pressed leaves and flowers— markers of significant events or stops on the journey that might or might not trigger memories. my journal is supplemented and then supplanted by the photos I take to document my trip visually. The train ride afforded me several hours of idle time.Embracing this released me from another burden—that of knowledgeability. The limitations of my self and my travel would undermine all my efforts if I chose to write the essay as an authority on the country. able to provide facts to explain his observations. mementos. And then. to travel is to move constantly. I saw that if I was to write about the subject truthfully. I allowed myself to relax. As with my other attempts at keeping journals. This has led me to wonder how much travel writing emerges from the unreliable workings of memory. I finally found myself on familiar ground. acknowledging the narrative underpinnings of my assignment. the changes in scenery. and in this framework. But most of the time. I take Vicente Garcia Groyon 171 . with very little time to sit in the reflective mood necessary to produce coherent writing. just lists—inventories of events and places—assembled from memory after I had returned home. I have tried to be an assiduous journalist. Readers often look to travel writing for information. in a train hurtling across the plains of La Mancha en route to the Eastern coast. when I know that I will only have a limited amount of time in a certain place. On my third day in Spain. Usually. of the names of stations. to stop worrying about what I needed to think about what I was experiencing. I needed to become an explicit presence in the essay. On my previous travels. so all I needed to do was follow it. often unconsciously. recording my trip with as much accuracy as I can muster in a travel diary. This was. my itinerary had already been mapped out by Hernandez’s life. to be replaced by scrapbook-style pages covered with ticket stubs.

the mountain range continues to the neighboring city. But I felt that I had arrived at the most feasible route to my quarry. and it was small enough to explore thoroughly and in a more leisurely fashion. Orihuela retains the air of the medieval about it. 172 Likhaan 6 • Nonfiction . the street corner where he slipped his wifeto-be a sonnet. hoping that I will be able to re-experience the place vicariously through my photographs. both the old section and the newer districts across the river. the ocean glitters in the distance. with its size and noise. He returned constantly to Orihuela. drawing on it for inspiration and imagery. given my limitations. as I reconstructed Hernandez’s youth. Its strategic location led Moorish invaders to build a castle fortress atop the mountain. foregoing a direct immersion. From the top of the peak. To the west. with walls that snaked down the slopes to enclose the city in a protective embrace. but also for its revelations. The company of the Hernandiano experts allowed the city to come alive in my imagination and contributed immensely to my historical research. were spent in Miguel Hernandez’s birthplace and the site of his youth. Inevitably. one sees a sweeping panorama of Orihuela. Orihuela lies nestled in the crook of a mountain range. Madrid. The breakthrough came when I visited one of Hernandez’s favorite haunts. I sat in the backyard of Hernandez’s well-preserved ancestral home. the plains stretch away to meet other mountain ranges and hills. Portions of El Castillo and the walls still stand. To the north and south. some eight frantically. I reluctantly drew parallels between my subject and myself—our writerly ambitions. To the east. still hoping to efface myself and retain the focus on the poet and his country. perhaps the only one. leafing through a collection of his poems. I retraced his steps around town to where he had studied and worked. our eventual migration to the capital to pursue our dreams. our smalltown origins. On a plateau halfway up the mountain. they built a mosque. I say reluctantly because I was still unwilling to put so much of myself into my essay. bounded by a river. the longest part of my trip. This part of my trip remains the highlight not only for its unexpected wonders. and it takes a mere half-hour hike up rocky inclines to attain the summit and an excellent view of the surrounding plains. since razed and a Catholic seminary built on its ruins. seemed worlds away from this enclave. and it was not difficult to drop back in time and gain a sense of the world as the young Hernandez might have known it. As it happened.

I spread my arms to measure the breadth of Orihuela and found that it fit comfortably into a relaxed embrace. Storytelling is a sense-making process. and in that moment I felt I had come to a kind of ineffable understanding of Miguel’s relationship with the city of his birth and why it figured so prominently in his writing. market vendors. sometimes even preceding it. the dawn mist lifted and the city came to life as the sun rose. Although I was hard-pressed to articulate my epiphany at the time. Vicente Garcia Groyon 173 . gazing down. I realized I had to frame my essay as the story of my search for Miguel Hernandez. where he could read to his heart’s content while tending his father’s goats and sheep. as when clarity descends only after one has shared the details of a confusing or distressing experience with a close friend. I had begun. I was aware that I had stumbled upon the organizing element of the essay I had to write. and ended.1 Because I was no expert on Spain and had no hope of becoming one after a mere fortnight in the country. one of the twelve that Hernandez was incarcerated in during his last years. and fitting in a day trip to the city of his death and burial. Joseph Campbell) really the only story one can tell? This gave my essay its ultimate shape. and that of my own trip—and they did not align. where Hernandez had spent part of his adulthood. I recalled too that the seminary below had served as a prison during the Guerra Civil. Alicante. The act of narration proceeds in tandem with that of understanding. and all my subsequent experiences in Spain would be fitted into this armature. To be held in the darkness of a Franco jail within sight and earshot of his beloved hometown must have been the most exquisite torture for Miguel. and guided the decisions I later had to make regarding structure. Then the bells of the thirty-three churches in the city began to toll the hour. As I stood on the peak. in Madrid. television sets. An odd acoustic effect made the city far below sound extremely close. I had finally begun to fictionalize. schoolchildren. Almost immediately. and radios wafted up to me on the breeze. The sounds of traffic. I had to deal with two sequences of events—that of Miguel Hernandez’s life and progress through Spain. and isn’t the quest narrative (cf. the details of my trip thus far were rearranged in my memory into the beginnings of a structure. before proceeding to his hometown. One of the few photographs of him smiling shows him sitting on one of the rocks of the fortress.It’s said that Hernandez liked to stay on the mountain.

Summary is generally used to speed through stretches of story time during which nothing is happening. looking back at the events of my trip first from the Philippines. history. although point of view is usually classified as either 1st-. As in fiction writing. Because I was no longer narrating as I experienced the trip. but maintain 174 Likhaan 6 • Nonfiction .Furthermore. Given the disparities. I was free to allow my mind to shuttle back and forth across chronological time. I worked on the essay from June to October of 2009. freezing action and halting momentum to examine in detail. The narrating “I” digresses into opinion. The functions of summary and description in essays are straightforward and familiar enough. I am indebted to the nonlinear blossoming of memory into story that he made famous. 2nd-. and literary criticism along the way. drawing together the disparate aspects of the assignment. In reality. The problem of how to manage a truthful rearrangement of my itinerary was resolved when I considered the matter of point of view. nonfiction makes use of three modes of narration: summary. as this was the point when I felt that my search had ended. coaxing them into the chosen structure. I needed to bend the facts of my trip and rearrange the sequence of my itinerary to generate some semblance of rising action that could build up to the climax in Aristotelian fashion. usually through accumulation of information. slow down the narration enough to render a scene beat by beat. I had decided that my epiphany on the mountain would function as the climax of my quest. using my consciousness moving through memory to generate the thread of my narrative. Scenes. description. but in a piece of fiction. biography. A biographer or memoirist looking back on history will usually use chronology as an organizing principle. but the most compelling storytellers know that this need not always be the recourse. In fiction. The finished essay thus moves from memory to memory as the narrating “I” recounts the quest for Miguel Hernandez through contemporary Spain. Although I am no great fan of Proust. but from a distance of time as well as space. it really is all in 1st person—the storyteller’s position—and the variations arise from the extent to which the narrator makes himself an explicit presence in the narration. then the United States. The adoption of a dramatic structure for a piece of nonfiction seemed perfectly natural to me—the most satisfying essays I had read intensified to a high point towards the end. or 3rd-person. and description is akin to hitting the pause button on a video player. and scene. these modes represent the dull bits. or at the very least used a punchline of sorts to provide closure. in comparison.

I’ll never know. and the falling action of my quest narrative. and laid them on the ledge of the niche. I begin the essay with my trip to the nearby city of Alicante to visit the tomb of Miguel Hernandez—the chronological end of Hernandez’s life. I had bought some roses from a florist outside the cemetery. like condominiums for the dead. To make my experience of Spain come alive on the page. I needed to render certain incidents as scenes. I realized I needed to include this encounter in my essay without sacrificing the air of confident authority that I had to establish as the travel writer. but I pretended to understand her and offered a variety of nods. and sighs to indicate I was listening. I’m not quite sure why. Using an old storyteller’s trick. by the passion she showed upon recognizing Hernandez. however. but only to compare it to the more appropriate memorial. She recognized the name of Miguel Hernandez and began to speak to me in rapid-fire Spanish which I could not follow. a certain amount of selection and glossing over was called for. just the words “Miguel Hernandez Poeta” scratched into the cement. I was approached by an elderly woman who wanted to see what I was photographing so avidly. since I needed to get to the point. or my solemnities at an empty grave. None of this made it into the essay. There was also the problem of pacing—taking my reader through the entire laborious process would have taxed their patience. Clearly.momentum by delivering the event as it happens. A train ride and a bus ride took me outside city limits to the Cementerio Municipal Nuestra Señora del Remedio. imbuing it with immediacy. At the tomb. which oddly had no marker. This is how I ended up rendering the scene: Vicente Garcia Groyon 175 . but I could not help feeling pangs of guilt at betraying reality. smiles. She might have noticed my dissemblance. although this was what really happened. I do mention the former resting place. the midpoint of my trip. My poor understanding of Spanish led me to Hernandez’s old tomb—really just a niche among many. neutral grunts. I was struck. but in doing so I needed to walk the line between fiction and nonfiction again. I found it terribly undignified. and a quick phone call to one of my guides in Orihuela corrected my error. in a wall among many. She appeared familiar with him and lingered to read the poetry inscribed on the memorial aloud. I retrieved my roses and found the correct tomb in a small fenced-in memorial that I had passed earlier. I had no desire to highlight my ineptitude and call attention to my taking back of my floral offering.

” she exclaims. I can only murmur a faint “Sí. and perhaps I had been unfair to load a chance. stooped with age. and half to the world in general.”2 Absorbing the words’ meaning. reading it. Truman Capote and Norman Mailer had taken far greater liberties in their own fiction-nonfiction hybrids. she repeats the lines.” She begins speaking rapidly. I imagined how I would react to being censured by Oprah on a live television show. but the tone of her voice suggests recognition and rue. half to me. I had taken some creative license to make myself look less foolish and to streamline my essay. her hair silvered by the years. as though testing how the words feel in her mouth. more than my rearrangement of chronology.” guessing that it’s unlikely that she can speak in English. She reads the poetry inscribed on the tomb aloud. She makes another rueful noise. She sets the bucket down to rest and looks at me curiously. I have no idea what she’s saying. one that was necessary to my essay. And yet my decision seemed correct. Finally she falls silent and we contemplate the tomb together. and biographers have been known to insert full-blown scenes into their accounts. and then at the tomb.As I stand there regarding the tomb in silence. However. and contesting my version of events? I felt that I would be safe from accusations of falsification. and they become her own. and continues on her way. a lady in a pink tailored suit. Miguel Hernández. Siénteme libre. casual encounter with as much significance as I did. I wasn’t writing news. Caught off-guard. passes by. complete with quoted dialogue. still talking and gesticulating with her free hand. There was no one else near us at the time. / Sólo por amor. el poeta. haltingly. who fabricated a Pulitzer-Prize-winning story for the Washington Post in 1980 and was forced to return the prize and resign in shame. smiles at me. where they would have had no way of knowing or recording what had actually been said or done. her hands waving in the air. I recalled the infamous story of Janet Cooke. carrying a bucket of water. I haven’t the heart to tell her “No hablo español. gesturing at the tomb. and yet the deliberate liberties I took with reality continued to bother me. “Ah. “Libre soy. 176 Likhaan 6 • Nonfiction . or history. but it did not feel dishonest. and failing to muster the little Spanish I know. Not quite the whole truth. I felt that my dramatization had arrived at a kind of truth. and what were the chances of this woman happening upon my essay. I compose my features in an expression of attentiveness and nod from time to time.

For a detailed discussion of narration as sense-making. 2. 31-58. surreptitiously. and is perhaps just as fictional as the stories it polices. see Yiannis Gabriel’s Storytelling in Organizations: Facts. even as writers pass back and forth freely and. It both matters and doesn’t matter at the same time. and yet the boundary between fiction and nonfiction continues to stand and continues to be taken seriously by readers. 2000). perhaps. From Miguel Hernandez’s “Antes del odio” in his El cancionero y romancero de ausencias (1941). Vicente Garcia Groyon 177 . Perhaps it is a problem of labeling. Fictions. Notes 1. of representation. and Fantasies (Oxford: Oxford University Press. It is a boundary that is constantly negotiated with each new piece of writing.James Frey claimed that his publisher had slapped the word “memoir” on a novel.

minicabs. But the passengers who spoke to each other in decibel levels that competed with the din of the motorelas seemed to have more pressing concerns than looking for a fish made of gold. then. whose gleaming crimson Mercedes stood out among the queue of motorelas. I would wonder if any of those motorela passengers or drivers had seen it. It never did. And there were men who would painstakingly hand paint movie billboards on the far end of the bridge. But the fish couldn’t very well be an uppity snob. it chose the people to whom it revealed itself. I had wanted to see the bizarre fish so badly. it might just show itself to me. but I was told that. Even at night. like the man with a fleet of vintage luxury cars. It was just there. could it? There were half-naked children laughing in the water and contending with the kinetic force of the torrent the river becomes after the rains.” at least from my side of the city of half a million people. like the engkantos in the suburbs.The River of Gold Jeena Rani Marquez I hen I was six I was brought to a place where a gigantic fish made of solid gold swam in the depths of the first river one sees after coming down from the city’s airport in a valley. Some of the older people of the city W 178 . when city lights transformed the turbid river into a glass sheet of orange shadows. It was almost sacrilegious to proclaim “there is no fish. Well. In my mind’s eye I could see it glistening in the sun and gliding beneath the river’s old steel bridge of cold gray. The city’s motorelas—little vehicles built with the heart of a tricycle and the body of a six-passenger jeepney emblazoned with its owner’s name in bright red— raced through the shaky Carmen Bridge when traffic was light. the golden fish did not show itself to anyone. it was down there. maybe some of the city’s swankiest. But none of them said anything about actually seeing the fish. Who had seen the fish? No one knew. I would wait for the fish to emerge from its murky home. but oh. living among us. and Japanese cars on the bridge.

The city center didn’t have the sprawling greenery of its countryside. notebooks and décor. fast food chains. well. It was so huge that all of Cagayan de Oro City shook violently in a mighty quake when it came out of the depths of the Cagayan River. It was a sleeping red dragon which lived in an invisible river beneath the San Agustin Cathedral on one side of Carmen Bridge. with headwaters as far as the Kalatungan mountain range of Bukidnon. not a single one. And then there’s the ancient Bukidnon word cagaycay. According to the city’s elders. it can also refer to gold ore from streams or rocks gathered from a river. it couldn’t have been because of its towering height and the power of its majestic movement. The closest people could get to the famous burgers was through television Jeena Rani Marquez 179 . either. Everything else one would have to find in Gaisano and Ororama. no. And there were no malls. Stores. Those who had seen it in their childhood claim it was not a fish. in glass cabinets that were always locked. for obvious reasons: a river does run through the city. Another place name origin version claims Cagayan means “place with a river. The tallest building in the city was just going to be built—a six-storey edifice that was going to be called Trinidad Building. kagay (river). The Cagayan River is the dividing line between Cagayan de Oro’s two congressional districts and is believed to be the city’s sole witness to its ancient secrets.” from the Malayo-Polynesian ag (water). The golden fish in the river was supposed to explain the de Oro part of the city’s name. Beneath the Cathedral there are secret passageways which priests had used as escape routes during the Japanese Occupation. There were small shops like Suy Tiak and Golden Friendship which sold earrings and cups. and restaurants seemed to be indicative of a place’s urban status. one underground tunnel goes all the way to the pier of Cagayan de Oro because the body of the priest who had bathed in the river and disappeared was found at the pier.swore they had seen it. where my mother would hold office on its top floor. II I first saw Cagayan de Oro in 1979 when the place must have been caught in that nebulous space between city and country. but it didn’t have the skyscrapers of a modern city. which means to rake up earth with a piece of wood or one’s bare hands. The colossal fish had emerged from the Cagayan River sometime in the 1950s. But Cagayan de Oro then did not have Jollibee or McDonald’s.

Walking around the city meant making slow. The expression means. which for many is an affliction to be avoided at all costs. She was always in a hurry. a term which also means missing someone. The children on our street of hardware stores kept their distance. in the long exchanges of pleasantries when acquaintances or old friends saw each other on the street: “Aka gikan? … Oy. right?) “Mag hinay-hinay na mi. until she found herself in Cagayan de Oro where she gradually learned to slow down. 180 Likhaan 6 • Nonfiction . nanambok lagi ka. they would cringe and say. pero morag niputi ka. baklay. marked by wild peals of laughter whenever family or friends gathered together. oy. in a house with a circular veranda of white columns and red paint. the little people living in my doll house. Visayan has a special word. The collective lethargy was confined to the movements of people. The spirit was anything but sleepy.” distinct from the direct translation of “walk”: lakaw. My mother and I didn’t have a single relative there. animated tones. I was all alone. But even in pre-Jollibee Cagayan de Oro. but I think you’re skin’s lighter. “Unsay probinsya? Siyudad ni. “province”? This is a city. They would smile but none of them could speak Tagalog or English.) Many people in the city walked on its narrow streets—a choice governed more by economics than romance. Solitude is melancholic kamingaw. We lived on Osme a Street. so I had no one to talk to except my talking doll. as in lakad in Filipino. Kagay-anons love the word bibo. people in the city resented the term “probinsya” which Manila people would casually drop to refer to any place outside Metro Manila. When they would hear noontime show hosts say it. I had not met a Kagay-anon who chose to be alone. always rushing. so when she was working in her office.” My frenetic mother lived the cliché “fish out of water” in what she called the phlegmatic region of the Philippines.” people would say.commercials. but we had to relocate there because of my mother’s job. moving from place to place.” (What do they mean. steady strides while chatting the hours away in loud. for “walk” which means “not ride. In Manila there is no word for baklay.” but the literal meaning of hinay is “slow. in the unhurried pace of an afternoon visit. This glacial pace was everywhere—in the way a cashier punched the buttons on the cash register. and the imaginary friends living in my head. mostly friends or family. you’ve gained weight. “We will go now. Many of them enjoy being with large groups of people. no?” (Where did you go? … You know.

characterized by shouting in two languages. leave them. was disastrous. of course. It was terrifyingly solemn. I didn’t understand why this was happening. I remember my mother inviting children in our neighborhood to come and play with me. My mother brought me to San Agustin Cathedral so I would have some kind of religion at a time when she no longer wanted one. She had been a nun for the Catholic church. which she had left. They were as congenial as the adults. but I remember telling her after that first visit to San Agustin that I no longer wanted to go back to church. beside the procession of flowers from behind which vendors sitting on stools watched over their wares. filled with the humming silence of an empty church. I saw a corner of burnt cement and iron grilles of melting candles where a man in a faded blue shirt was stooped over dying embers. But because I was growing up. but there seemed to be a belief about children being a potential embarrassment to visitors. and other -isms. I would get all my toys. and was still searching for answers to her metaphysical questions. too. she was concerned that she had nothing religious to pass on to me and that I would be growing up not knowing what to believe. perhaps because I could sense it was not important to my mother or maybe because I was just a child in search of amusement. So we went to the place people called katedral when there weren’t too many people. lock myself in my room. and sob. Jeena Rani Marquez 181 . Outside it. but the languages we spoke were mutually unintelligible. which. Buddhism. I don’t remember what she told me.What was stranger than a girl like me talking to inanimate objects aloud was the way children were hidden from guests when people visited homes. It was a familiar fixture of the city: a concrete remnant of its past and a vibrant element of its present. When we all got frustrated by our inability to communicate with one another. III Above our invisible river. she had tried Hinduism. They would speak to me in Visayan while I spoke to them in English and Tagalog. which of course I did not find in the silent walls of the San Agustin Cathedral. but left them all. I asked my mother why people lighted candles there and why they appeared to be whispering something. a few steps beyond the edge of Carmen Bridge stood the San Agustin Cathedral—a splendid old church of stained glass windows and rows of flower buckets lined up along its façade.

fajitas. A little girl with golden corkscrew curls came up to me and said. in a building which didn’t have images of saints in it. too. Jenny never left my side the entire morning. But Jenny and her family loved kinilaw—raw fish soaked in brownish tabon-tabon. It was the first Sunday morning I spent singing songs. which Jenny and I loved to wear together. where I had my first taste of do-do (raw saba dipped in guinamos) and durian.We didn’t go back there again. and my favorite sweet white divinity. I had gotten used to being mute around other children so I didn’t say a word when I stepped into the church. She taught me to eat kinilaw in her house. I would stay in Jenny’s house. Her dad 182 Likhaan 6 • Nonfiction . but one’s relationship with the Being who had answers to my mother’s questions and who could possibly end her quest for truth. we’ll play a game. The church was on the corner of Tiano-Montalvan Streets. Her mom sewed identical dresses for us. Jenny’s house had a sprawling front lawn with chico trees and a backyard with an outhouse. I loved sitting on their kitchen stool watching her mom make burritos. we spent the afternoon riding her bicycle and playing Atari with her dad. She had met someone who told her it was not religion that truly mattered. and tuba vinegar. spices. Her house smelled of pecan pie and caramel cake. “Come. I don’t know how I managed to play hide-and-seek by myself. One Sunday morning my mother asked me to put on a dress because we were going to church again. When my mom went on an out-of-town trip. Sunday mornings we would go to MacArthur Park along Velez Street where I played in bright red and yellow metal space discs. join us. ensaymadas. local suha. and listening to stories. even if I was mortified to be eating raw fish for the very first time. It was in Jenny’s house. Jenny taught me my first Visayan words and introduced me to the children who always gathered around her. From a distance I could hear jubilant singing and the voices of children who were singing and laughing like they were truly happy. I heard about the abundance of fish from a little child’s baon of two and the battle between a red dragon and a woman clothed with the sun.” She spoke American English but with the very same tongue spoke impeccable Visayan of an unmistakably native variety. and she invited me to her house for lunch. but there was room for hiding up in the spaceships before I emerged through the doors and slid onto the grass below. playing games.

and I had to painstakingly relearn it when I went back to Cagayan de Oro.” Jenny told me when she grew up she was going to study criminology and be a full-fledged detective.brought home Betamax tapes for everyone—drama for her mom. which. Sometimes I would go back to Manila with my mother but I would forget my Visayan. Napakasalbahe ng mga tao doon. When Jenny got tired of staying indoors. The house belonged to the relative of one of Jenny’s school friends. We would brush each other’s hair and dream of marrying brothers. we would go out and look for clues to mysteries we made up. “Look at that syringe on the road. was where I was enrolled—Kong Hua School in Kauswagan. In one of our visits to my cousin’s house in Manila. we would go to the beach. My mother was enthusiastically telling my relatives about the friends I had made when one of them blurted out. my relatives were updating each other about my cousins’ lives when the conversation turned to our life in Mindanao. cartoons for her younger brother. IV I stayed in Cagayan de Oro with Jenny and her family. of course. and trays of eggs for homemade pastel (yema-filled buns) the grandmother of the house would make. I told her I didn’t want to go. which was ten minutes away from her home. horror for Jenny. My mom also invited Jenny to our place where we spent afternoons reading my books or watching He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. In Camiguin Island we lived in an old wooden house where there were cans of butter. She didn’t say a word.” I deeply resented the harsh remark. Jenny convinced her older sister to take us to nearby Camiguin Island where we would bathe in the volcanic heat of Ardent Springs. She would bake herself in the morning sun while I sat in a hut reading. “Mag-ingat kayo sa Mindanao. Sometimes we would run around Greenhills Cemetery in Bulua and sit near its tombs eating homemade polvoron. disturb the stillness of the underwater cemetery. and walk miles to see the glorious waters of Katibawasan Falls. The next time my mom asked me to pack my things again because we were going back to Manila. romantic comedy for her older sister. “It’s a clue. but she didn’t force me to go. Jenny had convinced her parents to take her off home schooling so she could go to a regular school.” she would say. When we were off school. huge baskets of flour. but I didn’t say anything. There in that house Jeena Rani Marquez 183 .

but he just suffered in shameful silence as the otherworldly being usurped his matrimonial bed. the sixteen-year old girl who told me how her daily path from school actually belonged to the kingdom of the enchantress who appeared to her in her dream. When Mercedes was still alive she eloped with her lover because her father was forcing her to marry a man who had gotten her pregnant. And there was Manang Minda who told me she had a sister who was half-human and half-dili ingon nato because her mother had a lover from the other world who would come and visit her in her home at midnight. away from where the gold was. But one had to be chosen to step into their world. but there was no way I was going into the woods to look for the water lily woman. Ibay would see herself in her dream walking in the woods. she would see the contorted tree—she was certain she wasn’t dreaming. a dog let out a piercing. like Ibay. When she was old enough to leave Mindanao. from which came beings of the spirit world. We shared our spatial world with them. As Mercedes and her lover crossed a river. but just as they were about to step into the impenetrable grove. When she would come home from school. Her lover had not been found. she went to Manila. Jenny didn’t stop until she found someone who would do it. 184 Likhaan 6 • Nonfiction .we were told about a girl named Mercedes. which was why people believed Mercedes was wandering about in search of him. three frogs had come out of it. Manang Minda said her father knew about the affair. the water rose so high they both drowned. where the woman would suddenly appear and tell her to go to a gnarled tree and step inside the spot covered with twigs near its roots because there was gold hidden there. a spirit who lived in the woods of Mambajao. Ibay never did. When the red dragon of Cagayan River opened its mouth. where she never saw the enchantress again. but they inhabited a parallel realm which Jenny desperately wanted to explore. She was not the only resident white lady in Camiguin. Camiguin. The enchantress kept visiting her in her dream. she was determined to meet her. When Jenny found out about Mercedes. hair-raising howl that sent all of us running as fast as our legs would take us away from where Mercedes lived. like the one which inhabited the image of Mercedes—mga dili ingon-nato (those who are not like us). I brought Jenny and the Camiguin girl to the edge of the forest. repeatedly telling her to step inside the charmed spot and get the treasure there. the exact same path she would take every day. but she would walk faster. People said they found Mercedes at the bottom of the river with her hair tied to water lilies. so she asked me to go with her.

Then Jenny wanted to go to Maria Reyna Hospital to look at the adulterous couple who had killed themselves because of shame. I wanted to bolt. I watched her walk so very slowly to the coffin to look at the woman’s face. It would be a shameful scandal if she didn’t. Jenny convinced me to climb the rungs on the side of Liceo de Cagayan’s building just to look at the dried-up cadaver on its top floor. “You’ve seen her. Did she? Nobody knew. The night we went to see her was the last we heard of Lady Lazarus. and yes. because people had already been told she would. Word got around that they had been brought out of the hotel naked. Their black hair went down to their waist and knees. When we walked out of Greenhills. so when she realized she probably was not going to see any dili-ingon nato. We were surrounded by women in calf-length white skirts and loose white tops. And the dead.I was told that these beings show themselves to people with no philtrum— the groove most people have below their noses. while others said they looked into each other’s eyes and willed themselves into not Jeena Rani Marquez 185 .” She smiled at one of the long-haired sentinels and asked her when the master was coming and if he was really going to do it. The man had locked himself inside the woman’s body. Jenny’s big round eyes sparkled in the dark. they could not undo themselves. she loved looking at dead people’s faces. and they were staring at us through their sunken eyes. so some said they ingested poison together. I fidgeted with my hair and whispered to Jenny. The woman smiled back and answered her questions: he was coming tomorrow. Can we go now?” “Just a minute. Then she would take me wake-crashing in Cosmo and Greenhills just so she could look into strangers’ coffins. I don’t remember how she did it. She had to see the woman and feel the death-air surrounding her because she wanted to be certain the woman was dead enough to be raised to life. Jenny was pretty convinced the woman was going to rise from that coffin the following day. Oh. she looked for adventure in Cagayan de Oro’s human world—among the living. until somebody thought of wrapping them in a blanket before they were brought to Maria Reyna. Jenny and I have them. Jenny found out from one of her friends that a dead woman was going to be resurrected by her religious master. he had power to bring dead people back to life. but she convinced me to go see the corpse with her. The moment I stepped into the funeral home.

which her teacher’s salary could not give her. From Cagayan de Oro City we cruised along the highway to Tagoloan. piercing scream. until she was found hanging from a beam. they did not breathe. she was caught. and the word about Ma’am stealing panties spread around the town faster than a shark swimming downstream. “Tungod sa kaulaw.breathing. V Since my summer was going to be spent without Jenny. dangling from shame. so I got it and gave it to my mother. Jenny would have loved to see that face. Jenny would have gone to see another shame-suicide there. while I sat in the back reading a children’s edition of Pilgrim’s Progress. where my mother was sitting. not even landline telephones (it took an average of ten years for a telephone line application to be processed). Then a sharp. We were trapped in the warped vehicle. The road was empty. so the truck hit the right side of the Land Cruiser. One day she decided to go and get it by shoplifting. but she had a network of friends who would tell her where to go and what to do. Horrors. If we had been old enough to go to nearby Manticao ourselves. The sweltering heat of summer on the road made my mom’s L’Air du Temps waft to the backseat where I was. A young woman had been wanting a new pair of underwear. She refused to leave her house for many days. Blood on my mother’s face. When Jenny and her family left for their annual trip to the States. I didn’t look out the window because I had sunk into the world of the boy with the burden on his back. We didn’t have Internet.” (Because of shame. Blood on my book. Our driver had swerved to the left to avoid a head-on collision. Blood on my blouse. Seconds ticked away in the eerie silence that descended over us. I was hysterical.) Jenny knew where the most bizarre and fascinating happenings were in Cagayan de Oro City. mobile phones. 186 Likhaan 6 • Nonfiction . I saw my white water jug stuck between the window and the upper part of the grotesquely misshapen door beside her. We hugged each other at the airport and vowed to write each other while we were apart. I went with my mom on a trip to Butuan City in a white Land Cruiser. wala sila ni-ginhawa. We had been hit by a Caltex truck from the other side of the road.

humming songs I had learned in Sunday school. gently removing the crusty blood from each strand. There was Kuya Danny who came to the accident scene and documented the horror of its aftermath for the court case my mother would file against Caltex and the truck’s drunk driver. The people we had met and known in Cagayan de Oro appeared in the hospital. There was Ate Mar who lovingly detangled my blood-encrusted long hair with baby oil. They came. There was Ate Nan who fed my mother with a spoon. In the hospital I stared at a blank wall. I was trapped inside the monstrous vehicle. When I looked down at my feet I saw my right foot’s gaping wound and blood was oozing out of it.” (Shhh … she might hear you. A woman who sat across from me in the jeepney gently comforted me and reassured me that my mother was not going to die.From the corner of my eyes I saw a farmer in a straw hat emerge from the woods. I was repeatedly whispering something about losing my mother and being all alone. There was no ambulance. He stared at us and our macabre tableau and then I saw his mouth moving. There was a policeman who took care of our blood-stained bags and my blood-stained book and gave them all back to us. Word had been sent about our accident.) In that space of magnified fear.” (It has to be operated on. I saw a man carrying my unconscious mother away in her blood-stained silk maroon dress. he was shouting something and waving his hands. all I wanted was to see a familiar face.) “Operahan na. so I pushed the front seat which was pressed against my chest and I tried to step out so I wouldn’t be left behind. hordes of them. and they all came. I thought I was going to lose my mother. not to visit but to stay and take care of my mother and me. Total strangers were coming out from everywhere to rescue us. There was Kuya Boy who held Jeena Rani Marquez 187 . We were brought to a jeepney with injured men on the floor from the Caltex truck that hit us.” (It’s quite deep … the child’s head. She was as lifeless as the corpses Jenny and I had hunted. but I had to force myself to walk to where the man was taking my mother. I mindlessly played with the blood-stained yellow clip from my braided hair while I listened to the confusion of voices around me. I could hardly walk.) “Shhh … madunggan ka. I heard two nurses talking: “Lalom biya … ang ulo sa bata ba. They all came out.

until I found myself building a life in Manila with my husband and children. But it didn’t matter. My mother brought me back to Manila after high school. I would look for written accounts about the city and its secrets. Even as a graduate student in Manila. None of them were blood relatives. As for Jenny. she was made to go to the States and live there. two warring chieftains lived on the River’s opposite sides. VI I have not forgotten about our golden fish and the treasures I had found in Cagayan de Oro. Thousands of years ago. but eventually left and became a restaurant manager. There I discovered a story which took place along the Cagayan River. Mansicampo of the eastern side one day decided to settle the longstanding conflict by declaring war against Bagongsalibo. the American girl with a Kagay-anon heart. I was at first a stranger in the big city. Jenny got married on my eighteenth birthday and is now raising her two children in the States. She did not become the detective she had wanted to become. My lifelong friends in that city have taught me that having friends like them is like having a large and loving family. which had a tongue twisting precolonial name: Kalambaguasasahan River. I got that same outpouring of care from my high school classmates who took care of me when I fainted on our school grounds during our Citizen Army Training officers’ initiation rites. I did not want to leave my city of friends but my mother believed in a future for me in the capital city. One day I came across typewritten sheets of paper in a collection called The Local Historical Sources of Northern mother’s hand as she had to be lifted on a forklift to get on a plane to Manila for a kneecap surgery. we had planned to go to college together but though she begged her parents to let her stay in Cagayan de Oro. I spent my days recovering from my own surgery and shock among people whose overwhelming expressions of kindness I have treasured for many years. so I went back to my birthplace. the Muslim 188 Likhaan 6 • Nonfiction . She tried working in a fire department. I wholeheartedly believe what the people of Cagayan de Oro say about themselves: tinabangay gyud (they really help each other). And from our neighbor and pastor who took care of things after our house was robbed and ransacked while my mother and I were in Manila.

he sent his warriors away. fled to the hills of nearby Lumbia. Bagongsalibo was only too pleased to give his daughter’s hand in marriage to Bagani if only to avert the impending war. I couldn’t understand why among such extraordinarily caring people. he discussed marriage plans instead.” Like him. and Bai Lawanen. but Mansicampo was determined to go for it. I did not have a picture story book to go with the narrative.” “Ashamed? In his home? He shouldn’t have been ashamed. but to me what mattered more was discovering a cultural treasure in a story. I wondered if I would have said the same thing had I been told this when I was brought to the place of shame and gold many years ago. introduced me to Manny Gaerlan. Some of the people I met emphasized the story’s lack of historical validity. a fifth-generation descendant of the Maranao royal Samporna clan.” I wondered why as a child I had never been told this story. VII My husband. who went on business trips to Cagayan de Oro City. and vowed never to return to his home. When Mansicampo found out that his son proposed marriage to the daughter of his enemy. Bagongsalibo didn’t want the war.Datu who lived on the other side. “Why did Mansicampo go away?” “Because he was ashamed. but he listened intently as I read from the typewritten manuscript I had found. so he gathered his followers on the eastern side of the River and prepared for combat. whose princess Bai Lawanen had averted the war between Mansicampo and Bagongsalibo hundreds of years ago. He then asked me. When my son was seven. She was so exquisite that Bagani forgot all about the war. He sent his son Bagani to Datu Bagongsalibo for a council of war. As Mansicampo’s son was conferring with the Datu. understanding how a place’s name could affect a people’s perception of themselves—people who would otherwise have reason to be proud of building a city of real gold. I also wondered how many other children of Mindanao knew about our golden fish but not our Bai Lawanen story. Manny spoke of how the Maranaos from Lanao had migrated to Cagayan in the Jeena Rani Marquez 189 . some would allow the overpowering sense of shame to drive themselves to suicide. which he then called Kagayhaan—“a place of shame. I told him about what had happened to Bagongsalibo. a woman peeped from behind a door and looked at Bagani. Mansicampo.

I was told.” I asked him about other Visayan concepts such as dungog (honor) and how they are related to the idea of shame: “The man in the family is expected to defend the family’s honor. no? Maulawon lang gihapon.” I believe he’s right: the root word ubos literally means “down. whether or not she wants to: “Gipakaulawan mi nimo. “They were shamed. Kinahanglan bawion nimo ang dungog sa pamilya. Of course I wondered if he didn’t find it more shameful not to show up when I had been all dressed and ready to go. When my great grandmother. Even shyness is rooted in the concept of shame: maulawon. the guy had a sudden kaulaw attack. if a girl gets pregnant. You need to redeem the family’s honor.) This must be Kagay-anon parents’ way of telling their children to stay out of trouble. Do they get in trouble precisely because of kaulaw? I don’t know. And somehow it is valued as a virtue among young ladies: “Wala siya mausab. And the very absence of war and the way people of conflicting beliefs have lived 190 Likhaan 6 • Nonfiction . Dalagang Pilipina gyod. The Maranaos who migrated to Cagayan de Oro were of the royal class. but I had been stood up on a blind date because. and they brought their slaves with them. But I guess it doesn’t really matter how shy or bold she was. For instance. “Is pagpahiubos (humbling oneself ) a social expectation and practice?” “It’s the way people are brought up there…. “Can you imagine that? The Hiligaynon warrior married a Maranao princess!” Manny believes the shaming of the people in our place centuries ago has a lot to do with what he perceives as a general lack of self-confidence among the people of Cagayan de Oro. has she? She’s still shy. The concept of pagpahiubos came from the social hierarchies of the time. She didn’t exactly go out and introduce herself to Bagani. You have to get married. to the mountains nearby. I asked him if people are taught to put themselves down. Cagayan’s first settlers.15th century. would bathe in the river with her slaves. her father will force her to marry the guy who got her pregnant.” (She hasn’t changed. which pushed the Hiligaynons.” (You have shamed us.” Manny emphatically exclaimed. She is truly a dalagang Pilipina. “It’s a daily thing: Ayaw pagpakaulaw dinha. Kinahanglan magpakasal ka.) According to Manny.) Was Bai Lawanen a shy princess? Maybe she was. Vivencia Velez. pinapayungan pa siya….” (Don’t do anything shameful. she just peeped through a door to look at him. those eyes peering out of her exquisite face had power to avert a bloody war.

The taxi didn’t go to our Carmen Bridge of old. The new Vicente de Lara Park has paved paths and fountains. We were hundreds of feet above the ground. a flood had suddenly come out of its mouth and filled parts of the city. A little girl from Bukidnon who was brought to Cagayan de Oro for medical treatment had died in the floating ambulance that was caught by the flood in Lapasan highway where my old high school stood. The people had not seen a flood like it because typhoons didn’t use to hit the city. I had a strange feeling I would get lost in my own home were if not for the taxis and their drivers who give their passengers exact change. look! Look at those mountains!” My son hurriedly unfastened his seat belt the moment the plane came to a standstill after the big thud and plunge when it hit the tarmac. because the products are available almost everywhere in Cagayan. We came via the new 20-meter Carmen-Tibasak Bridge. It has become Pueblo de Oro where multi-million peso houses have been built in the subdivisions which is what the expanse of farm land has become. too. which used to be the only entry point from the airport to the city. The motorelas have a new look. The metal space ships are gone and so is Mac Arthur’s name. And in the middle of it all stands SM Cagayan de Oro. And now there are malls in the city. The mahogany and germilina trees were still standing by the Lumbia airport roadside. especially in the area Jeena Rani Marquez 191 . but people no longer call it Kilometro Singko. fronting a row of commercial establishments along Velez Street.peaceably in this city in our war-torn island give us reason not to be ashamed of it. They now have big numbers on top and are no longer swept about by the winds of destiny. and my little boy couldn’t help exclaiming: “Mommy. VIII My husband and I brought our son to our city of gold. The mystique of brands advertised on Manilabased television is gone. I didn’t know what pasalubong from Manila my friends would like. But the dragon is still there beneath the church. to a city that has become the commercial center of Northern Mindanao. I remember calling my Cagayan de Oro friends from Manila to help organize relief operations for people whose houses had been carried away by the flood. In January 2009.

and soon people were burning CDs of it and copying it from thumb drives. which has been guarding the gold in the Cagayan River. is also a fairy. Then I told my boy: 192 Likhaan 6 • Nonfiction .” Then I asked them about the fish. When our friends in Cagayan de Oro found out. but the whole family. It was a classic 21st century urban tale—a married woman with a managerial post in Limketkai had videotaped her sexscapade with an employee. The next day my husband and I walked with our son to the side entrance of San Agustin Cathedral from where we could see its stained glass windows.near our house. I just had to go and look for it again. I asked them. they told me about the recent shameful sex scandal in the city. “We care so much about what people say. A strip of restaurants and cafés have made it one of the busiest parts of the bustling new city. Someone made a copy. After about a week of relentless rain. We always need to keep up appearances. I thanked them all profusely for being a part of my two-day trip. He and his wife were brought to a hospital in Japan where they knew no one and didn’t speak a single word of Japanese. After the obligatory updates about our batch. said. my old classmates: “What is it about shame that makes it such a significant part of who we are?” One of my dear friends. Twelve high school classmates came to see me at Limketkai Mall. steady pace. and forgetting all about it had hired a technician to fix her computer when it crashed. is based in Kibawe. One of them. word was sent to a Kagay-anon who lived four hours away from where Jenny’s parents were and this man took care of them until they were ready to board another plane to the US. but apparently she’s back at Limketkai. She was suspended from work for a while. People said her estranged husband had to get her two children from her. I also found out from old friends that Jenny’s 80-year old father had a stroke on the plane en route to the US. the earth swallowed the flood and Cagayan de Oro went back to its slow. Abigail. Abigail said her grandmother had told her that our golden fish. but I was relieved it wasn’t another suicide story. Whatever people say or whatever shameful thing we do disgraces not just us. stored it in her computer’s hard drive. The woman had been separated from her estranged husband when it happened. a doctor. and had travelled four hours to come to Cagayan for our get-together. I felt sorry for the children. Bukidnon. they suffered much from the shame which the scandal had brought on the family.

and three women were washing clothes in it. We were looking down on the water when I said to him: “You know. but the one who got the gold died an inexplicable death. A child was bathing in the river.” My son was unusually quiet as he put his chin on the grey steel beam of the bridge and stared into the water below. Look here. Then he looked deep into my eyes. We could feel the ground beneath our feet quiver when the cars and taxis drove past us. I put my arms around him. A few minutes later. there’s a gigantic golden fish.” (Its tail is in the pier. white streaks of river foam trailed behind the jet skis that raced on the caramel-brown water of the Cagayan River. One solid bar of gold was found underneath its roots. He said only the spine and the gills were of pure gold and with his fingers he drew a curve in the air to show me the golden arc of the fish from the top of its head to its tail.) He also told me the fish has eyes like the moon. According to Roger. an acacia tree had been felled near the bridge many years ago.” Jeena Rani Marquez 193 . Roger looked up at the acacia tree beside the bridge and told me a spirit being lives there. He seemed entranced by the magic of our afternoon together on Carmen Bridge. “Mom. two men were hoisting a varnished bamboo sala set on to a motorela. Little islands of lusterless light from above the bridge cast a pale glow on my son’s face. Mom? Awesome!” I held his hand as we walked towards old Carmen Bridge where a stream of orange and yellow banderitas had been hung for the upcoming fiesta. I saw something yellow move in the water over there. but it is the fish that keeps people like them from getting the gold. Oh. Others have also taken residence in most of the germilina trees along the Cagayan River. there’s a dragon sleeping down there. I think it’s the golden fish.“You know what. A man in a banca cast a net on the still water. I asked one of the men if the fish was still down there. The man named Roger told me that foreigners had wanted to dig the gold from under the cathedral. Deep down in the water. yes it was. Beside the bridge and across from the new City Hall that was still under construction. “Tua sa pier ang ikog ana. I asked him if the fish in the river was really made of gold.” “Really. some people say it’s not a dragon sleeping in the invisible river over there. The incessant rattling of the relas on the bridge rose to a crescendo. he said. “Buhi pa” (It’s still alive).

there would be a chimney on the roof with smoke curling upward: an archetype that constitutes every child’s first attempt at dimensional representation for one of the most basic of human concepts. The image used by the Safari Internet service provider is that of a compass. I never really entered the home of Acoy. the signifier for the “Home” function came with an icon. there’s a coconut grove. the bucolic regions behind our backyard where as children we took the short cut to school. The old Microsoft icon for “home” had looked to me like one of the nipa huts from my childhood: a formulation. in the Western hemisphere.Butterfly Sleep and Other FEUiLLEtONS Rowena Tiempo Torrevillas Icon for “Home” M y eyes brush across the Safari icon my on laptop toolbar. It’s now the icon for “Help” on the new TextEdit program on this machine. In the early days of Internet access. an entire milieu: for me. Home. dappled in the sunlight of an unending afternoon. the huts of the cocheros. seems perfectly emblematic of the metaphysical journey we’ve taken from on the World Wide Web. in place of the stilts and ladder. to which one might add a horizontal rectangle for the window. the rustling palm fronds overhead and the distant thrum of a ukulele or the plaintive strains of the theme from a radio soap opera. invisible and vivid. home. a cognitive signifier (a triangle and rhombus for the roof. It’s been nearly two decades since that icon evolved—from a house to a compass—and its imagery. the tartanilla driver. Children across the world draw sticks at the base of the rectangle and a ladder to indicate this dwelling is tropical. a rectangle within which appeared a vertical rectangle for the door). now superimposed on the Mac’s default “cosmos” desktop screensaver. a familiar little box with a peaked roof and an open door. Beneath that one-dimensional sketch lies. the only bamboo-and-thatch hut I entered on a regular basis 194 . probably rural Filipino. All of this is symbolic.

away from our home. spotting the significance Rowena Tiempo Torrevillas 195 . those buried treasures of puns or inventive configurations of the various untidy sloggings through one’s daily mire. no play on words in the truffle to arrive at some understanding of a vulnerability—an unresolved issue. one finds no delight in the vocabulary of the subconscious. and the sureness that my father and mother would always be there. Beyond her house lay the Baptist Student Center. where during the year I was ten. existing only on that Platonic plane of Being. whatever—that one has willed away from one’s awareness. This spot marked the neighborhood boundary my parents felt I’d be safe to wander alone. is encapsulated in those geometric forms. between waking life and this fabrication of the sleeping mind. Set at night in localities whose vague familiarity brings disquiet: searching for a classroom or a ride to a waiting airplane. recognizing correlations between past dreams and this present REM scenario. its fears of the unknown. The idea of a house. On waking.  Butterfly Sleep i D reams have begun to be for me an unrestful reflection of waking consciousness. with the highly polished wooden flooring and the acacia leaves that pattered like rain as Bising ran her dressmaker’s tape down one’s shoulder to the knee and around one’s midsection to measure one’s “heaps” (hips) as she scrawled the centimeter numbers designating her clientele’s bust-waist-hips … calibrations of one’s growing. Even the occasional flash of lucid dreaming—the critically trained mind reverting to its discipline. Bising’s house leaned somewhat crookedly. west of the coconut grove and across the main road: redolent of the hog she raised under the house and the industrial acridity of the 3M oil from her atras-avante Singer sewing machine. a quarter-century after attaining the PhD … these are simple to decipher. arriving late or unprepared for an otherwise easy exam in a class I’m taking and not teaching. I would while away solitary summer afternoons reading the novels of Grace Livingston Hill. But with that ideograph is an entire childhood and its aromas and its a child was Bising’s: our dressmaker’s tallish bamboo and sawali house.

florists. tattered shreds of the dream still weighting down my eyelids. comfortably unostentatious and warm present is perfect company for middle-to-late afternoons in my quiet suburban study-room on Sweetbriar Avenue. were one given the choice of the means and time of departure. the show’s masculine presence provided by a series of occasional. Today. even for me who—intimidated by my own mother’s seemingly effortless efficiency in the kitchen—arrived relatively late in discovering the Joy of Cooking. the husky contralto and plump brunetteness of Ina Garten in her kitchen in the Hamptons. Watching Ina strolling briskly with a light step from kitchen counter to vegetable market makes me think of my mother. Mancao’s history classroom. amiable high school classmate from forty years ago. when we were walking out of Mrs. ii And I? I wake to the silence of the house on the days I don’t teach. Alex Ybarley—always so self-effacing and unruffled in the acnepitted craters of his already-mature face when we were both fifteen—had died in his sleep. I imagine Mom preparing her solitary meals high in the hills of 196 Likhaan 6 • Nonfiction . whose show follows Ina Garten’s. Her beloved husband Jeffrey is usually away deaning at the Yale School of Business. Her recipes are within reach.of images deployed by the mind’s symbol-making faculty as even as one is living through the dream’s artifice of plot and premise—these bring paltry pleasure. mine also—is the MittelAmerikan housewife. a faint panicking awareness of my inadequacy to meet the hours on my own. But Ina’s orderly. Romulo and Randy. that self-satisfied and incurious creature epitomized by smugly preening Sandra Lee. They remarked separately in the course of our alumni e-mail chats that on waking from sleep each morning. though we’ve come many miles and many years from the place we first knew each other. On hearing this I thought. are now retired from the US Navy and live close to the ocean in southern California and the Pacific Northwest. a lifetime ago. they offer a prayer of thanks for another day of life. Two of my other high school classmates. I find it soothing and undemanding. as he had in life. I learned that my quiet. and genially epicene. The high point of my weekday afternoons during those non-teaching days is The Barefoot Contessa on The Food Network. He left us quietly. sometimes with heart pounding in the residue of unease. My mother’s bete noir—and at times in my own generation. And then: he left us in the best way possible.

let it not be so) has a terminal illness.Shatin. shoveling a path from our driveway to the sidewalk to the street. salt. as the first Elisabeth Luce Moore distinguished Asian professor appointed by the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia … and I think Mom may have moved then in her kitchen with the same kind of quotidian joy that Ina Garten exudes easily. food. The taste of water right after you’ve vomited. W Rowena Tiempo Torrevillas 197 . lifting the everyday toward the sublime. solitude. open space? Memory. Last night I dreamed. iii Chuang Tzu says famously: “Last night I dreamed I was a butterfly …” Would it indeed be preferable to be a butterfly dreaming it was human? The transience of this. The salt we spread to clear the walkways of our waking lives is as the tears we drop into the wounding awareness that all this. glitter in the nothingness. brightly. all of it. she is taking him there for tests to find out if Jim (Lord. an intrinsic spiral in the DNA code of humanness. Which is the butterfly’s dream?—the silken cocoon of events and ideas and interpretations and the games the rational mind plays upon itself. a faithful friend appears in the darkness. that we call being alive? Or is it waking into the unknowable. and with each snowfall this season. at this very moment. grief. replacing the bile of your bodily wretchedness with the restorative sip of the first and most basic element of biologic life. As I write these words. because he won’t go himself. the semester she was teaching in Hong Kong thirty years ago. into my own afternoons. beyond that other sleep we call dying …? Will we have wings in that unknown realm.  Moments of Unexpected Sweetness e all have them: sudden interventions that break into one’s awareness. has only one terminus. one day. all: snow falling. snow. or will the flight consist only of our consciousness fading into inert brain cells into dust into. The first time a child speaks your name. my daughter is driving that family friend to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. a figure in the winter night. wings.

its transcendent beauty—I find 198 Likhaan 6 • Nonfiction . The statue’s hand was broken off during a riot at the Signoria piazza. reader.Those moments are the favorite snapshots in one’s personal album of the fleeting and uncelebrated: the golden leaf of autumn that falls at your feet as you walk down a busy sidewalk. So here’s my list of Moments of Unexpected Sweetness that I’ve experienced as a grateful viewer. rising triumphantly above the urban drabness—a passage of casually playful redemption. the immediacy of absence-as-presence—that aching vacuum that Vincent sought to fill with pieces of his clumsy. and later reattached. or the green fronds of the prized. one can see the crack in the stone. • Sculpture: the veins on the marble hand of Michelangelo’s David. There is no infant in this portrait: only the weather-worn face of the peasant woman of the Camargue. yearning heart—the unseen. perhaps that’s the reason for art. uncultivate-able Oriental poppy that poke out of the flowerbox in late summer amid the dried stalks of the played-out previous blooming that lasts only five days each year. en route to another theme. testifying to the violence that had been wrought. listener: • Music: The trumpet soaring in the Beatles’ “Penny Lane. to me. bitterness or the crushing weight of banality: the artist’s inadvertent epiphany. emblematic of the painter’s fierce. They are sweet because they are embedded in. But it is not the survival of this iconic work—the damage and its restoration. and her strong work-roughened hands folded over the wicker handle of a rustic cradle. Perhaps created work holds those moments in fixity. The universal and the personal intersect in those lists. unheard lullabye is. ultimately. Among the “Bucket Lists” one tabulates periodically—the places in the world you hope to visit before you kick the bucket—I believe we regularly update our private Top Ten Things That Make Life Worth Living. As with the chair left behind by his friend Paul Gauguin. and spring forth from.” An enumeration of the otherwise unregarded lives on a city street: “… there is a barber showing photographs … the nurse pretending she is in a play / She is anyway …” is followed by a trumpet voluntary. the first crocus of the spring. the matter of “sweetness” is futile to quantify. • Painting: Van Gogh’s La Berceuse (The Lullabye). brief theme.

And from the same era as Vaughan. my husband and I have had encounters with these eccentric serendipities: on my birthday. It is David’s other hand I’m looking at: the hand that’s poised above the slingshot. But don’t tell anyone. bright afternoon. What comes first to mind is when Lear tells Cordelia: “Come. For now. wildflowers of yellow and purple outside our cabin and knee-deep everywhere my eyes reached. Robert Herrick’s cri-de-coeur over his faithless mistress in “Cherry-Ripe. and personal history that fulfills the definition of unexpected sweetness. That was sweetness. in that moment before he steps forward into the ages to assume his role as the heroic image of a nation about to be born. – Tommy Lee Jones’s smile at the end of The Fugitive. so transient they catch one almost unaware. when. • Poetry: too many to be named. throughout: sharp and unadulterated. across the Crazy Woman Mountain in Montana.” And Henry Vaughan’s vision of Christ’s hair filled with drops of dew as He walks through the night. to which Kimble says: “I thought you said you didn’t care. let’s away to prison: We two alone will sing like birds i’th’cage … And laugh / Like gilded butterflies …. and. the benisons come unsought and breathtaking. Pennsylvania. One of our trips brought us the confluence of sight. when the young boy lifts the vial of perfume and pours it over his head.” • Drama: Shakespeare. During our quest to set foot on all fifty states of the Union. the poems of Rilke. all that long. taking him in custody. song. we found Rowena Tiempo Torrevillas 199 . trying to find the Motel Six where we’d made reservations. 4 of the Sonnets to Orpheus (“Oh this is the animal that never was …”) and the final sentence of “Archaic Torso of Apollo. a young boy ready to walk over the threshold into manhood.” • Film: – The moment at the end of the French film L’eche le blanche/Secret World (1969). and as the sun was setting. gives Kimble a packet of ice for his bruised head. cultural iconography. one knew it was joy. walking through a hillside meadow. We were driving through Harrisburg.” Tommy Lee Jones’s rugged features light up in a rueful laugh of surpassing gentleness when he says: “I don’t.” Wandering the world. as the relentless Lieutenant Gerard he pursues Harrison Ford’s Richard Kimble. again too many to be isolated. perhaps: II. so that even as it was happening.inspiring.

a world away: Michael Franks’s “Dragonfly Summer. first heard when we were across the sea.ourselves back on the same stretch of highway. the horse trotting under the leaves of tall old trees. there it was: the carriage with an erect. in the light rain of early morning. I had already seen them in movies. A light rain was falling as we pulled onto the road. declared was Amana: “Here we stay.” So I would not have been disappointed if. But on that Pennsylvania morning in May. bonneted ladies occasionally at the Aldi grocery store in Iowa City. more condensed in its bucolic consistency than the prairies where we live. and two thousand miles from our transplanted home. driving their horsedrawn carriages in Kalona. So to Lancaster we went. weatherscoured man holding the reins. The following morning we rose at dawn. books and movies like Witness with Harrison Ford had made that awareness a part of my visual vocabulary. the song flowed through our black Ford Escort—an old favorite. And in eastern Iowa we’d see the Amish and Mennonite farm folk all the time. on that morning. and did not see any black-coated gentlemen in stovepipe hats and spade-shaped chin-beards.” 200 Likhaan 6 • Nonfiction . we drove through Lancaster.” he declared helpfully. but somehow denser. Pennsylvania.” a stream running through the rolling hills of the territory that the German settlers a hundred fifty years ago. There. Lem had randomly popped some music into the car’s CD player. standing in a shaft of sunlight. its contours faintly familiar. and tumbled into our Motel Six bed tired out from driving across Illinois and Indiana. coming out of the mist. in paintings and the book of photographs by John Zielinsky that stood among the folio-sized volumes in our study. Just as we were pulling onto the road. at the northwest edge of town we’d sometimes drive past the bridge over a river that the sign designated as the “English River. refreshed and determined to reach Connecticut by afternoon. while the raindrops fell in the gentlest and most matter-of-fact of benedictions. in real life. “The nearrrest Moootul Six whar you can find a room for sure is in Lanhcasturr. and I’d nodded at the cheerful. I knew that the Amish lived in Lancaster. This was farm country. Finally one of the Bengali/Urdu gas-station owners who have set down their lines of convenience stores all down the East coast told us in his gruff singsong that our best bet was to get to Lancaster. Twelve thousand miles from where we first heard it. seemingly always returning to the same place.

” and how anxious I’d be if I inadvertently misinformed a visitor at the house who asked if my parents were in (“I said you weren’t home. all unknown to oneself. I must add) how my nursery-school teacher commented that “Rowena is so fastidious. like me have. and while it evoked from me a responsive chuckle. from walking down the breakfastcereal aisle of Hy-Vee to pick up a box of oatmeal! I remember my mom recounting (numerous times. a couple of which I’ve outgrown … but one of them—the leeriness about germs and the fear of contamination—continues to manifest itself in my need to take at least two baths a day without fail. it also led me to thinking about my loved ones who. through the fine rain. describing the symptoms of childhood onset of OCD … because I experienced at least three of those. I laughed just now when I read the little checklist in the article. even if (or especially if ) during the day I’ve dropped by a public place like the grocery. minor manifestations of the condition—behavioral quirks so mild as to be barely considered as eccentricities. or have had. memory takes shape: A chorus of sparrows in summer Is how I remember you The fire of maples in autumn Is how I remember you The silence of snowfall in winter Is how I remember you  ROYGBIV and Other OCDs I ’ve just read the Time article about obsessive-compulsive disorders. According to the list of symptoms. into the timeless space where. I recognize in myself a few of the compulsions. Reading the descriptions of the disorder. The one taken before I go to bed is especially important for my sense of well-being. Rowena Tiempo Torrevillas 201 . God alone knows what germs I may have encountered in the air and that subsequently cling to my hair and skin.The Amish carriage slipped quietly past us. because I didn’t know you were. Was that all right?”) … and all the unspoken dread and guilts that plagued my childhood. out of the mist. she keeps washing her hands. I must be the sister of The Monk.

well-intentioned “offender. who’d pick up all the crayons the kids would use and put them away in rows of red orange yellow green blue indigo violet … and all the gradations between in the Crayola box. otherwise she’s … uneasy. Including the one that comes when my eye falls on the knife-block on the kitchen counter—as I’m washing my hands. passing thoughts. just from looking at his pale anxious eyes and the distance he was careful to keep between himself and the person seated next to him. So it’s no laughing matter. when folding a T-shirt. she spots a perfectly white sock that has been rolled together with one that bears the faint marks of washed-away grass stains. specific order—sorted and piled according to the color spectrum. at the sink!—and the fear that I’ll suddenly snatch up one of the big knives and. even if the dozen socks are otherwise identical. ROYGBIV. as she and her husband as sorting clean laundry together. This organizational structure is exactly the one followed by one of Rima’s earliest babysitters. It offends our sense of order so acutely that we’ve been known to secretly and discreetly (so as not to hurt the feelings of the helpful. now partially conquered. God forbid. One of my daughter’s friends. and I am so relieved to know that others share them. the sleeves must be folded such that their shoulder seams are symmetrical. One could tell. the socks must be paired according to the gradations of wear.” usually the 202 Likhaan 6 • Nonfiction . no matter whose home she’s in. One of my students. I have a comadre (Rima’s godmother and my best friend. Yet here I am so worried that harm may befall Lem or Rima. Moreover. as described in the article.We all have bizarre. too. possessed by madness or in thrall to an irrational urge. a bridesmaid at Rima’s wedding. a few years ago. Is it the need to impose order on an unpredictable world that leads us to perform these rituals in an attempt to control even a small arena of turf … and then these compulsions in turn control us? My daughter must have inherited that finicky sense from me: it offends her whenever. arranges her underwear in her drawer so the panties are in an immutable. such that I’ll clamber aboard the motorcycle they so fearlessly drive … even though I myself hate the precariousness of it all. He wrote of needing to scrub his hands for hours each day. wrote an essay about his OCD. so one can tell which socks were previously worn together. plunge it into my heart or into one of my loved ones. The reasoning is that my presence riding pillion will somehow ward off disaster. there was something “a bit off ” about Sean. born a Virgo—as if that explained her heightened tidiness and perfectionism) who needs to align all the pictures on the walls and to straighten the books the shelves. of course.

Thus there’s hope. so the article says. that wonderfully fantastical word. or whatever part of the brain controls these imaginative/ anxiety-producing functions. Is this behavior neurotic … or just an overdeveloped sense of conscientiousness and responsibility. and not the little kid who crossed the road behind the car when we went by. Editors and mustached Belgian sleuths. Meanwhile. And we’re also the ones who circle the block to make sure that the little bump we heard when driving past was just a pothole. you keep straightening up those books and picture frames. Rowena Tiempo Torrevillas 203 . is now being closely studied. or the heightened fear of future guilt? The amygdala.hapless spouse) go back and re-do the job so the symmetry is as perfect as we can discern it to be. and I’ll keep arranging the mismatched silverware just-so in the kitchen drawer in the order known only to me. before I can take my before-bedtime shower at two in the morning. that we’re normal after all (whatever that is). and me.



Cirilo F. de Ungria. Gémino H. Bautista.Original PLAC: (Left to Right) Alfrredo Navarro Salanga. and Felix Fojas. Alfred A. Eric Gamalinda. Marne L. Ricardo M. . Kilates. Abad. Yuson.

and awe from his students. It was January 1991 when as a literature major. Bautista is a great writer is an understatement. He had a formal demeanor about him. Bautista at the Dumaguete workshop. Cirilo F.Intensities of Signs: An Interview with the Visionary Cirilo F. This sense of awe at Cirilo’s genius and strength of character would stay with me. Bautista Ronald Baytan T o say that Cirilo F. respect. I enrolled in the poetry class of the renowned Dr. even until the time I interviewed him in his home in Cirilo F. and he commanded attention. 207 . Bautista.

and Cirilo remained the same: the same composed intellectual with a serious mien. and a compelling sense of irony about the world and about himself. a little weaker. but during the interview. but still prolific and undaunted by time like Tennyson’s Ulysses. Alfred A.” a sign so intense that “it is always contemptuous of language. I had already been teaching for almost twenty years.Original PLAC on a Cavite beach: (Top) Alfrredo Navarro Salanga and Cirilo F. Bautista worked as a newspaper boy and bootblack when he was still young. Ricardo M. (Bottom) Felix Fojas. he is now seventy-one years old. Quezon City on February 28 this year. Born in 1941. To Cirilo. yet it is nothing without it. white hair and all. demands an intractable imagination and an uncompromising dedication to the craft—and Cirilo has demonstrated nothing but this in his career as a writer.2 Poetry. Only one thing had changed: his age. an art considered by many to be impractical and financially unrewarding. Coming from a poor family. he worked as a checker at the University of Santo Tomas to support himself through college. It is not easy to devote one’s life to poetry. But he did not disappoint himself and his family. Abad. de Ungria. definitely older. Bautista. He was 208 Likhaan 6 • Interview / Panayam . I can still remember quite vividly Bautista’s first lesson. as intense language. He wrote on the board his favorite line from Lawrence Perrine’s Sound and Sense: poetry “as a kind of language that says more and says it more intensely than does ordinary language” (italics in the original). a low confident voice. I would still stare star struck. poetry is a sign. a commanding presence. and Gémino H. Yuson. “a sign of signs.” 1 More than twenty years after.

Bautista writes fiction and nonfiction. The questions centered on his poetry. Early on in Bautista’s career. His essays. one often finds this blurb from Villa. MA Literature. magna cum laude. In Cirilo Bautista’s universe. So are the unmistakable grasp of the language and the pleasures of the intellect which are a hallmark of the creative universe of Bautista. but I was also interested in his other literary pursuits: fiction. In his introduction to The Cave and Other Poems (1968). Bautista has woven together the stories that we make up and make us up. the craft of writing. he had already established himself as an extraordinary poet. class valedictorian at Mapa High School in 1958. dense. informative and earnest. a fact which both Nick Joaquin and Jose Garcia Villa acknowledged.” Through the paradox of pentametric lines. Nick Joaquin had this to say: “This is a young poet who demands attention and patience from the reader but who rewards a close reading with a wealth of imagery. especially the Trilogy. Man (or Woman) is an infinitesimal being wrestling with language to articulate what cannot be articulated and to unearth what history has buried in the “boneyard of memory. magna cum laude. The Cave and Other Poems Ronald Baytan 209 . the narrators are thinkers pondering the nature of existence. His earliest collection. cerebral—these are perhaps the words that best describe the poetry of Bautista. creative nonfiction. from UST in 1963. He eventually received his DA in Language and Literature from De La Salle University in 1990. Cirilo F. with more gradual revelations. I also wanted to ask him about specific works. a quote from his letter to Cirilo: “Already. the incandescence of irony. from Saint Louis University in 1968). Despite Bautista’s achievements. Aside from poetry. mostly from his weekly columns in Panorama and compiled as The House of True Desire (2010). and criticism. This provided the opening of our interview.” Difficult. BA English. his masterpiece. are by turns lyrical and ironic. and the majesty of metaphors.a consistent honor student from grade school to graduate school (fourth honor at Legarda Elementary School in 1954.” In Bautista’s books. and his teaching career. His fiction (Stories and Galaw ng Asoge) is quite philosophical. the stories of our solitude and grace as a people. The Trilogy of Saint Lazarus—especially its last installment. In the novel. the writer is having an intellectual feast with his use of metafictional devices. you write like a Master: with genius in language and genius of imagination. In the short stories. Sunlight on Broken Stones—remains understudied. The commanding voice—the firmness of the “I”—is ever present. translation.

What I find central to Boneyard Breaking are “Poems from a European Journey. Charts (1973).” This cycle of poems explores the postcolonial poet’s consciousness as an Other. the formal experiments. and Alfred A. Gémino H. de Ungria. exemplifies the modernist Bautista in such lyrics as “A Man Falls to His Death” and “A Manner of Looking. (1968). stands out from the rest because.” with its juxtaposition of Eastern and non-Christian epigraphs with the Christian myth. Even “The Fourteen Stations of the Cross.” Boneyard Breaking (1992). Abad. the distrust of language. Ricardo M. Believe and Betray (2006). the sonic preoccupations. is a good introduction to Bautista’s poetry because it contains the seeds of his poetics—the lyrical sweep. Bautista. while retaining the intellectual rigor and technical sophistication 210 Likhaan 6 • Interview / Panayam .Palanca Awards Night: (Left to Right) Cirilo F. 1999). His second collection. his latest poetry collection. deserves critical scrutiny. by tender lyrics like “Pedagogic” and “The Sea Cannot Touch. his third collection.” The formal experiments are balanced. marks the beginning of a poetry that is more grounded in Philippine realities and politics (and this will find full thematic and technical exploration in Sunlight on Broken Stones. Yuson. and the cerebral density. however.

The foremost critic of Bautista’s poetry.of the previous collections. Heaney. where the poet speaks loudly of poetry as act of self-liberation only to expose its illusory promise. It demonstrates. and insights covered. The poet’s audacity and flexibility of form is predicated on the conviction that depth of wisdom. chances. or whatever it is that distinguishes art from mere craft invariably demands certain appropriate formal maneuverings. Bautista’s retelling of Philippine history. certainties. the poem … revitalizes the national pride or awakens the nation’s moribund aspirations. and the fragmentation and multiplication of poetic selves/worlds in Bautista’s poetry—all of these lead to the ultimate poetic technique of collage and the poet’s bold claim that he has written only one poem. to tell Manila’s story. Bautista uses three major characters—Magellan (the Bearer of Consciousness). it is important that one has read his lyrics. Legaspi (the Lighter of Consciousness). and more in the sense that his poetry. The sonic repetitions. however. subjects. and the historical sense of these masters’ oeuvres. the late Dr.”5 which reinforces quite clearly the modernist poetics of Bautista. It has now been conscripted into the service of the national soul…. the authority. As a sign of the times and “[a]s an artifact of culture. its language is surprisingly not dense. The Archipelago (1970). Ophelia Alcantara Dimalanta. a poetics no longer tempered by the demands. nor haunted by the opacity. force of passion.3 Reading Bautista is reading Larkin. Simply astounding.”7 This faith in poetry finds concrete embodiment in The Trilogy of Saint Lazarus (2001). the conscious attempt at intertextuality. focuses on the beginnings of colonization with Magellan’s “discovery” of the islands and untimely death to Legaspi’s building of Manila to the trial of Rizal. rightfully summarizes Bautista’s achievements as a poet: Believe and Betray is primarily about beliefs. Auden. the self-referentiality. profundity of insight. it is not as difficult a read as the earlier work. is tempered by a deep sense of poetry’s social function: to serve the nation. Thus. finally. the first epic in the Trilogy. has the robustness. being betrayed. Lowell. the integrity. and Rizal Ronald Baytan 211 . Ricardo de Ungria has discussed this strategy or “recycling. This explains the rich literary fare offered by the book. It is a known fact that many of Bautista’s lyrics have actually appeared in the trilogy. Ashberry. believing. that is. his entire body of work: “All my poems are one poem. of modernism.4 To understand Bautista’s epic trilogy. betrayals. the variety of literary strategies employed to match the massive range and diversity of topics. I surmise.”6 Bautista’s modernism.

(the Eye of Consciousness). and really. tells exactly the factly lack of lex though in electric stockrooms it is rex. Ophelia A. made more bewildering if not altogether exasperating by the poet’s conscious display of word-power in the incessant alliterative play. it is concerned with the inner life of the characters. the poet through Rizal laments the country’s degeneration into materialism which the “telex. the second epic in the Trilogy. obviously symbolizes. some of its sections struggle to break out of the page whereas the stanza patterns in Telex Moon and Sunlight on Broken Stones are more steady and regular. with all the verbal gymnastics. a Stevensian preference for unfamiliar and odd words. The Archipelago is more playful in terms of form. ambiguities (still the poet’s privilege. really) which are. and Pound in Bautista’s schema. Auden. what then and 212 Likhaan 6 • Interview / Panayam .10 The poem is composed of exactly 3. Telex Moon (1991). Bautista’s chronicle is not conventional in terms of technique. is an extended rumination on Manila of the past and of the twentieth century with Rizal as its central intelligence. truly unusual and impenetrable in a single isolated context. it is no wonder then that the Trilogy is an intellectual challenge. its shocky hair that shakes the air mirific11 On the complexity of the epic. according to Bautista. Indeed.8 Unlike the later two epics. and Frost—appear in the interview as Bautista’s acknowledged influences. he had to invent events.000 lines. In certain sections. Stevens. The epic’s structure is clear: Parts I and III showcase Rizal on the psychic/spiritual plane or “astral plane” (to use Bautista’s words)9 while Part II explores Rizal’s life in Dapitan. What is most evident in this epic is its emphasis on sonic effects.” a modern innovation. his calendrics and flummery and alphabetic itches stumping and stupefying. and each of its three main parts/movements contains ten sections/ subparts. With Eliot. however. not quite linear in terms of plot. in the witchery of his jugglery. Like the previous epic. not quite based only on facts. each section consists of one hundred lines in twenty-five quatrains with a pentameter pattern. “Telex” (telephone exchange) figures in Part III where. To cite an example from Part I: The sex of telex brings the grex an ax. for what?12 Eliot and Stevens—together with Pound. Dimalanta avers: The ambiguities [in Telex Moon] then stem from an Eliotic penchant for heaped-up allusions. undecipherable unless the reader submits to the wily and almost inaccessible conditions of the poem.

to name a few— thereby giving us a composite picture of the deplorable state our country has succumbed to and its possibilities for redemption. but criticism is not something that he would have pursued had he not ended up as a professor of literature.” what does he aim to achieve? “Written in Stratford-upon-Avon”—Bautista’s nationalistic poem about the legacy of the English language and the paradoxes of our postcolonial realities—is recycled in section 20 of Sunlight.” “embrace. Gringo Honasan. Ronald Baytan 213 . Sunlight is composed of thirty-two sections. In assigning Magellan the role of “Bearer of Consciousness.”13 To extend the argument further. and Rizal are the main subjects of The Archipelago.” “stolen. language per se is not the problem of writers—how they wield it is. a fleeting achievement. Since the Trilogy can truly benefit from a postcolonial study. In the interview.” and “dark sign dark age. loose five lines). or of going back to our supposed old essential self. This postcolonial dimension in Bautista’s work is explored briefly in the interview. takes a look at more recent times. and other unnamed subjects and objects (like the gun)—Ferdinand Marcos. Legaspi. exploring the struggle of the Filipino people from multiple perspectives. is the poet’s “momentary power over his medium.” The ending is a gesture. The last epic of the Trilogy and winner of the 1998 Centennial Literary Prize for the Epic in English. Sunlight on Broken Stones (1999). investigating the consciousness of the poet. I asked Bautista how he felt about it.what for? The answer.” “live.” but ends with “faith. a language whose possession he is constantly enacting because he knows only too well that possession is only a phantasm. the heroes and villains. and Cory Aquino. Imelda Marcos. the work is a testament to a postcolonial poet’s struggle with language. an impassioned call toward that vision of a changed Philippine nation. Bautista is not a nativist poet or critic. To Bautista. Bautista knows theory well. with the exception of the framing sections (the last being a repetition/rewriting of the first in more relaxed.” “lost. It is sad to note that no scholar has yet conducted an in-depth study of Sunlight. I had to ask Bautista about his thoughts on the lyric. The epic begins with a tone of despair: “regret.” “thoughtful. each section is composed of one hundred hendecasyllabic lines of twenty quintets in a predominantly iambic measure. I asked Bautista how and why he steered the poem toward this hopeful ending.” “wound.” “keep eternal. Even reviews of this work are scant.” “burn. He understands the futility of searching for lost origins. Dimalanta states. I also asked Bautista about his recreation of the colonial world: why Magellan.” “blight. even if the answers may be found in the epic itself. As a critic himself. In terms of form.” and “Bright sign Bright age.

” a perfect ending for all the good things a visionary poet wishes for his sad but beloved country. seven years after he had actually published his first poem: the Trilogy and Believe and Betray. “The Intensity of Things. in his youth. between poetry and the nation: But whatever poetry in English we will have in the future. a poetry which. Bautista has always believed in the inextricable bond between language and identity. he would always emphasize its chances of achieving redemption. I had to ask: Why the obsession with music? My interview’s modest aim is to serve as a re-introduction to Bautista and his views about art and society. with the bones of our history and our arts in it. but in equal measure or perhaps more so. poetry “epitomizes people’s highest aesthetic verbalization of social realities. a section of the interview finds Bautista talking about his latest poetry project whose theme is something that he would not have considered writing about.15 I did not ask Bautista too many questions about his life as a critic/semiotician nor about his poetry in Tagalog/Filipino precisely because these topics had already been adequately covered by Bayot and Escobal. through the years. it must contain the Filipino soul. After all. Its linguistic configurations attempt to capture the human condition at its evanescent point. is the only possible poetic expression of the Filipino identity. respectively. Ricardo de Ungria. The rhapsodic heights and lyricism of Telex Moon merit critical attention. Bautista trusts in the restorative power of Poetry. To him. A small difference.On the matter of poetics. Naturally.17 214 Likhaan 6 • Interview / Panayam . Bayot. Yolanda T. I titled the interview “Intensities of Signs” because of the flagship poem in Believe and Betray.”14 I included music as one of our key topics in the interview. its potential for greatness. say a hundred years from now. Mercado. After all. and David Jonathan Y. its sacredness. perhaps. the Filipino consciousness. poetry as “verbal music” is a “tribute to the imagination’s ego. because Bautista’s poetry is as intense a language as his faith in poetry and in his country. The Trilogy ends with the line.” which contains the phrase “believe and betray”. though written in English. as he once said.”16 Bautista would always bewail the deplorable state of our nation. we must not forget how Bautista has foregrounded the sonic dimensions of poetry in the Trilogy. from earlier interviews has accrued simply from the passage of time—Bautista is now speaking decades after those interviews. its wisdom. “Bright sign Bright age. or concentrating on. Escobal. It is best to read it side by side with the previous interviews conducted by Monina A.

educated reader. “It is a minor tragedy for the trilogy that it has remained unread—or if read. Their romanticism is in their use of language. Pichler and Ronald Baytan. We are read by a few people. you try to raise the ante. Is that right? CFB: No. Robert Frost. but you might not be in the way you express them. That’s enough for me. Bautista* Ronald Baytan: Ricardo de Ungria states. you said the true test of poetry is in the reading: “The evaluation of a poet depends on his being heard. little understood—by the very people whose ideas of race and history should have been helped had the song and the verses made for them been less perplexing and recondite. Nobody in this country becomes popular because of literary works. in that sense. When you write a poem. Since poetry is a kind of performance in reading. Cirilo F. I was writing for some imagined reader who would have the capacity to look at our country’s history and assess its future. Eliot. I have in mind an intelligent. language is sound and poetry is sound. you already have a readership. Bautista: Criticism isn’t a primary pursuit in our country. they would see the point of the poem or story. it may have certain qualities that will attract the reader’s auditory sensibilities. You can be very modern in your thoughts. RB: In your interview with Monina Mercado.”18 How do you feel about this? Cirilo F. Could you elaborate? CFB: At some stage in my writing. It’s saddening. Outright. RB: Albert B. Wallace Stevens. Ronald Baytan 215 . but that’s the reality. I was very much influenced by my readings and studies of the romantics: T. I try to please the readers with the sounds of my words. “Who is afraid of Cirilo Bautista?”19 My understanding is that you wrote the Trilogy for intellectuals. S. Before anything else. The kind of poet that I liked in the 1970s was Ricaredo Demetillo. Casuga once asked. The Trilogy was an intellectual pursuit for me. We need readers who have some critical training. As it is. your world becomes difficult only for those who do not belong to that readership. how he spoke in his poems was very romantic. the epic remains the supreme exemplar of high modernism in our poetry. when you are impressed with a * Interview transcribed by Peter Paul R.An Interview with Dr.”20 You stressed there poetry’s sonic element. what I want to tell them will come later. When I write. it’s chiefly an academic subject.

It’s the sound of his poetry that captivates you with Stevens. Auden. otherwise. The second and the third had more standard stanzaic forms. Because—you know why?—because it’s Rizal speaking. the persona? CFB: If it can harmonize with that. is the most lyrical. “Now I understand this poem. I’m going to write using a different form. Telex Moon. Take Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”—it’s full of inner rhymes. RB: I think your second epic. dramatic. W. And yet. and then you are pulled into his thoughts. lyric. CFB: That’s all part of the sound system. why is he read? Because of the melliflousness of his language that attracts you first. I tried to use several ways of saying things. The Archipelago. then all of a sudden it’s finished. That probably accounts for the experimentation. part of the poet’s arsenal. 216 Likhaan 6 • Interview / Panayam . the form: narrative. H.” So I mixed the various kinds of poetry: narrative. RB: So that was central to the creation of his character. and you have written an experimental poem. I’m going to experiment. I was aware that was a violation of the epic character. that has drama. the most radical and experimental of your Trilogy was the first. It’s so boring—a very long poem with a definite meter. isn’t it the sound that impresses you first and not what is said? Later. you don’t get his ideas. and lyric. and since it was a long poem. this is what he wants to say. the thought will strike you.poem. He’s probably one of the most philosophical poets that you have. I want to have a poem that has excitement. RB: I think in terms of form. I was drunk with sound. The outer rhymes are the most popular. then you continue what’s happening. Some poets may move away from the relative ease of the outer rhymes by going inside. I thought I was just writing the kind of poem I would like to write. CFB: That’s true. I don’t think you say that to yourself when you write. I never thought.” RB: You also like using internal rhyme and alliteration. why not? Take Robert Frost. Rizal is a first-class romantic. I said: “I don’t like the way the epic sounds. Afterwards. The words were used more for their sound than for anything else. Wallace Stevens. He said poetry is the rhythmical creation of meaning. dramatic. you’ll say. the most obvious. and then you say: Oh. CFB: When I was writing The Archipelago. you meditate on his poem. You just write! Then things happen.

You walk around the streets. as to say colonialism has good and bad effects? CFB: Yes. and Legaspi. Besides. it all boils down to people and what they do. I went to various libraries and many seminars. they would I say I copied him. The intellectual journey of the Filipinos began. RB: You assert that in Words and Battlefields: A Theoria on the Poem. so there must be a similar kind of self-conscious technique among people writing long works. Other epics I’ve read. how they live. historical or otherwise. the side quotations. Look. a bringer of light: intellectual openness. RB: You say then that Magellan is “the bearer of consciousness”? CFB: There is that kind of thing. if people have read this guy’s work. Are you also questioning the binaries of colonial master/colonial subject. I said: My God. everything opened up … we became conscious of who we were. using the same techniques I had used. we are a mixture of bad and good people running around the country. for instance. in recreating the Spanish colonial world. But I had already written mine. We cannot have a culture. intellectual adventure. The TorchBearers [by Alfred Noyes]. do you see the binaries? No. bringing out just one simple Ronald Baytan 217 . I had not yet finished The Archipelago. How did you go about the construction of Magellan’s and Legaspi’s character? CFB: By reading all I could read of our history. Because Magellan was a foreigner. Rizal.RB: The Archipelago zeroed in on Magellan. to make analyis clearer. RB: You said in an essay 21 that. binaries are just academic terms. a consciousness that’s progressive without intellectual advancement. That’s my Magellan. oppressor/oppressed. have similar techniques and methodologies. a given but why Magellan and Legaspi? CFB: I’ve always said my epic is a history of the Filipino consciousness. Paterson. like The Torch-bearers and the Spanish epics. you see. we don’t pay attention to his impact on how our consciousness as Filipinos began. and so we fought. you were not as interested in the actual physical place as in the psychological realities of your personae. It’s all a matter of standpoint. when I was in Iowa. That’s why Rizal got somewhere because of the power of his words. a society. I recall a Victorian epic.22 including secondary sources. I found William Carlos Williams’s epic. of course. In 1969. Rizal is. It seemed he was doing the same thing I was doing. heuristic. When Magellan came to this country.

Some historical things. He made history. CFB: He is our hero. In the end. Telex Moon. that’s just technical closure. the evolved consciousness. the beginning and the ending lines are the same.23 What made you decide which to invent and which to extract from certain sources? CFB: One portion is largely historical. There was nobody else as great as he was—a colonial hero. CFB: Yes. If it can be acceptable. RB: Rizal then on the psychological plane? CFB: On all levels. other historical characters. Every historical thing followed him. If I were very nationalistic. because he is the persona that we cannot find any substitute for. end with slashes? 218 Likhaan 6 • Interview / Panayam . how would he react? That is my epic. Imagine Rizal in a country where everything happening is affecting him. He was thrust into the events of his time. as we say. why not? It may be true. RB: So that explains why Rizal is central in your work: Rizal. but I could not find anybody better than Rizal. RB: It’s difficult to write about Rizal since so much has already been written about him. It’s only the degree in which this thing is brought out that differs. you also had to invent certain details. He is the number one person able to experience those things. How did you take on that challenge? CFB: I focused on something else. RB: So this explains also the closure? Because he appears again at the end of the epic trilogy. You work within such parameters. I used Aristotle’s theory of probability. I love him. I changed only those parts where there are probabilities capable of being incorporated. I would probably have used Bonifacio.thing: the progress of the minds of people. after all. You’ll notice in the epic. I abandoned because they would not have worked with the system that I was thinking of. I retained what I could not change. you are left with materials you think are necessary for you to accomplish your job. RB: Why does your sequel. RB: In recreating the colonial world.

he also said that the crossovers comprise a collage where the discrete parts of one work are looking for coherence. the past. A plus B = C. he is speaking from a higher plane. for the “consanguin[ity]. this cross-usage of text from one work into another. looking at what has happened and what is happening. RB: How do you connect those parts from different contexts? CFB: That’s creative again because you have to come up with something new. for the intertextuality. RB: De Ungria said you were poking fun at your critics and readers. the historical situation. When we see Rizal there. you used a lot of epigraphs. without any need to speak about them in the epics themselves.CFB: It was a concession to the highly technological character of our present time. your poetic vision. I knew what I was doing there. So. What is the raison d’être. the present. RB: In terms of form.24 Many sections in Sunlight on Broken Stones also appear in Boneyard Breaking and Believe and Betray. Did you also aim to question whatever you were quoting? CFB: It’s a common technique by way of setting the atmosphere. just like that. history does not end. Sometimes I pair them. trying to make sense of those two different periods for the purpose of a present situation. I would choose those parts in the corpus of my works when they were very useful for my purpose. RB: Ricardo de Ungria states that you recycle in your first two epics many passages and lyric poems from Charts. One can go into the future. But there would be somewhere in the main text a critical interrogation with the person speaking. Everything is like that. It’s trans-creation. Ronald Baytan 219 . there is no time. sometimes I cut or add to them. Very hard to come up with C.26 This is one aspect of modernist poetics. The slashes signify partly a closure and partly a continuation. in both The Archipelago and The Telex Moon. I consider as my mind jumping from one time to another. Why can’t I not use them again if the situation demands it? There is also a psychological explanation. It’s not just transposition.” as Marjorie Evasco puts it?25 CFB: All my life I have just been writing one poem: all my verses. For me.

The Archipelago. but at the end. I would probably say he was copying himself. Sayang. That’s what I’m trying to do with the poems I’m writing now. But I had a purpose. RB: In section 20 of Sunlight on Broken Stones.CFB: I liked what de Ungria said about me laughing at my critics. especially the dramatic portion. for instance. the reader will have to decipher who is speaking. I was not able to ask him to record it. performed. drama. that first part usually gives you problems. the catalogues in section 18. If somebody else were to do that. RB: Section 21 is also all quotations.” thus creating two voices. That’s the radical thing there. usually newspapers. I would add not only polyphony. There was a time I ran out of things to say. Sunlight on Broken Stones has a more or less regular meter. You will then catch the sound patterns. is also clear. and lyric. The ideal poem for me is one where the voices speaking are not questioned because they’re easily understood. The epic is like that.”27 Thus. and because the identity of whose voice it is. I thought the recycling was a way of approximating the chanting quality of the epic. but a number of actions from three perspectives: narrative. and the poet has to ensure that the characters are carefully delineated. Sunlight is cerebral but quite easy to follow. CFB: Yes. You showcase the nation’s despair. I have ideas how the trial of Rizal should be performed. It allowed you to create a polyphony of voices. RB: The first of your trilogy. CFB: I have always dreamt of having that epic. RB: You once said that the printed text “seals the lips. What can I get from the newspaper today? I read the business section and looked for nice-sounding phrases which I then quoted. RB: There are experimental parts in Sunlight. That added to the work’s complexity. is the most difficult. CFB: You’re right. I knew the crossovers would catch my critics’ attention because nobody was doing it then. you combined “Bonifacio in a Prospect of Bones” and “Written in Stratford-upon-Avon. so I said to myself. 220 Likhaan 6 • Interview / Panayam . But the second [Telex Moon]—you should have heard Peque Gallaga read the work. What is the source or origin of this section? CFB: Various sources. I was after the sound of those phrases. but using multiple voices can also create problems.

you mentioned Cory’s lack of policy on the arts. He eventually sided with the revolutionists. and why. Sunlight. especially the closure in “The Fountains of Villa D’Este. So there is that kind of promise. Ramos. RB: Sunlight is heavily about the Marcosian years. the more I cannot die. and her son won because of her. That’s part of what they found in the piece of paper in his shoes. one other thing [about Sunlight on Broken Stones] is that the gun speaks there and says things about our country. I’ve already answered what our leaders are like. Cory was a unifying person. RB: So.28 CFB: That’s the best thing that the Marcos regime gave us: the patronage of art. By the way. Ronald Baytan 221 . how did you steer the poem in that direction? CFB: By the promise of Rizal’s work. I enjoyed writing that because it’s difficult. I also liked the line. The number of books has no serious significance. “The more I love this country. RB: I found your cycle “Poems from a European Journey” interesting. Revolution! That’s why there is this great foreshadowing of sunlight coming into the country. sunlight. What have Aquino. what are we like. Why can’t we change and become better? Why are we not progressing? RB: In your interview with David Jonathan Bayot. But our people. Estrada. What is your take on the politics of Ferdinand Marcos and Cory Aquino? CFB: Marcos took advantage of his position. the correction. it’s all about Rizal. until the very end. Now there is sunlight on those broken stones.” On the level of technique. and Arroyo done? In Cory’s time. sunlight. RB: Why did you choose to write three books? CFB: I thought three books would be very suitable for the poem that I was imagining. and why? Everybody has taught us what to do. Our culture is all broken stones. There’s the promise that things may be better if our people follow what Rizal is trying to tell us. other pressing problems called for more attention than art. The only problem is the people. That’s our image of them. Somebody should write an epic about the people of this country. but that is so. Sad.” CFB: Rizal has already done his part.” a technique also evident in the counter the “dark age” with “bright age” and “burn the records” becomes “keep eternal.

Ezra Pound. When I first read Stevens. aside from his small poems which are entirely in English. All the other poets I read—whether I liked them or not—affected me. Stevens has his own philosophy of poetry that he lectures on in his poems. I doubt if even he himself understood them. And there’s W. Auden. That’s why people found my earlier poems difficult. What I read had some impact on the work I did—it was as if I was trying to see the philosophical aspects in the subjects that I wrote about. “The Cave” itself is one long philosophical dissertation on human development. and some of them were my teachers. almost always perfect. or pleased. then the main body. the rhymes. a little bit different from Frost because he tends to philosophize in a social way. I hardly understood much of Ezra. By nature. These are the two extreme influences on me: the simple and the complex writers. I am serious and I want to be alone. He is more of a dramatist who believes in the punch line and leaves you there shocked. Frost is a genius in simplicity of manner. but I liked how his poems sounded. I am philosophical. which is the ending. RB: Your early works. Jack Kerouac. His meters are almost always perfect. displeased. But I also have humorous poems in The 222 Likhaan 6 • Interview / Panayam . including “The Cave. too. The priests were quite good at philosophy. The epic has to have a beginning. By nature. S. they were the ones dominating the literary scene. He writes in different languages. if you don’t know those languages. the way his lines moved and created some kind of music that addressed a certain aspect of my being. how can you follow? I also like Robert Frost. Gregory Corso—when I was in Iowa. even where his matter is complex.CFB: It’s a concession to the epic form. Eliot is easier for me than Stevens.30 May I know why? CFB: I was reading a lot of philosophy then at Saint Louis University. Such are the formal conventions in European epics. Ophelia Dimalanta says that Stevensian and Eliotic elements in your poetry account for its modernist tendencies. depending on what he wants to get from you as an effect.” were philosophical. H. I couldn’t understand him. T. The Cantos is very obscure. or invocation. and finally an envoi. I was reading anthropological psychology then. who is more difficult. RB: The late Dr. the Beat Poets—Allen Ginsberg. He makes everything easy for you to understand. has influenced me.29 How actually have Eliot and Stevens influenced you? CFB: In college we were reading them.

etc. When I used those Eastern references. Rosemarie couldn’t understand why I wrote more than take care of the children. I enjoyed writing “Fourteen Stations” as a dramatized narrative. Why should I not dedicate them to her [laughs]? In the beginning. and I was satisfied with it. She’s the only wife I have. Eastern philosophy—The Tibetan Book of the Dead. That’s why I Ronald Baytan 223 . RB: In “The Fourteen Stations of the Cross.” were your references to Eastern philosophy deliberate? CFB: When I lived in Baguio. But I labored through the poem and finished it. CFB: When I wrote it. so I wrote something to criticize them. I even studied yoga. she realized that some adjustments had to be done and just supported me. even more. I just wanted to write something after the model of my own religion. Almost all of them. you will go crazy. If you keep writing only serious poems. my family would go to Zambales to spend the Holy Week there and a month of summer vacation. in the 1970s it was an in-thing. But I don’t know anymore what inspired me to write that. I thought you as a postcolonial writer were countering or appropriating a Western myth. These are two astrological signs that shouldn’t marry. My wife and I turned vegetarian. It’s one thing you learn in philosophy: All religions are alike. She was born in August. and so on. In the 1970s. or offense against. I in July. Later. She’s also an artist. These are my stations. I was reading a lot of Western and. Was it based on your experience as a teacher? CFB: Yes. I easily wrote it because I was writing about something that I knew. but simply because I was exposed to them in my readings.Cave and Other Poems. It may be that I saw teachers in my time who did not know what they were doing. RB: There was a theoretical disjunct between the sacred Western myth and the Eastern philosophy you put in. we used to quarrel a lot. I was telling myself. RB: Many of your books are dedicated to Rose Marie. May I know why? CFB: All of them. it was not really a homage to. I never thought of it that way. RB: “Pedagogic” is a favorite among teachers. the Zen Buddhists. even though I suffered through it. any philosophy or religion.

writing humorous poems balances my philosophical seriousness.” It’s always a struggle. If she could have that kind of sacrifice … I would dedicate my works to her. I don’t care what language you use. given this historical reality. 224 Likhaan 6 • Interview / Panayam . We can create a literature in English because English is now ours. I get very angry with people who ask.” are there other pieces that you really love or are proud of? CFB: I like all the poems that I have written. What does it matter for as long as it’s literature? As long as you write poetry. Sunlight on Broken Stones. the wrestling with language—these are evident in your early work like “Addressed to Himself. I couldn’t leave her. No. A writer must write in any language he is familiar with. It is just one poem that I wrote in a kind of uninterrupted. RB: The distrust of language. energetic outpouring. Abad and others would say that we have actually claimed English. RB: So. what is the poet’s task? CFB: To write as best as he can. I also enjoyed the long poem. but if I were to give you a rating offhand—I would like to read “The Cave” in a poetry reading. “In My Craft or Sullen Art. The writers’ wives are unknown people. I wouldn’t leave her. they are unheard of.” CFB: It’s a true picture of the artist. RB: So it’s the craft that matters. “Why do you write in English? Why don’t you write in the national language?” What national language do you mean? Tagalog? It’s not a national language. RB: Apart from “Written in Stratford-upon-Avon.” is also a discourse on language. Dylan Thomas has the same view. I’m not saying that English is the best language for poetry nor that one should write in English or Tagalog or Kapampangan. What’s your take on English? Dr. “Written in Stratford-upon-Avon. RB: Your poem. for sociology.said to myself. and he should do his best. for politics. but they are doing so much for literature. that’s a choice the writer makes—he chooses it. it was as if somebody was writing it for me—until it was finished.31 They encourage their own husbands to do what they want to do. As Oscar Wilde said. In my case. We cannot return to Tagalog anymore. CFB: I agree with that. you can write literature for religion’s sake.

I wrote my novel in Tagalog. though at times they are both ironic. that will be another set. There was no such thing as studying Pilipino or Tagalog. Your epic is in English. but writing and literature then came under AB and MA English. English is more intellectual in the sense that it arrived to us already polished by the Americans. When I write in Tagalog. it was my first choice. society. he also assumes a bilingual and trilingual personality because of the differences in language. and Tinik sa Dila]. My writing in Tagalog became less and less until I found myself not writing in Tagalog for so many years. What accounts for the difference? CFB: The difference lies in the language.CFB: Yes. it is a language that is always revolting [against something]. So in those cases where the writer is bilingual or trilingual. and so. that’s one set of those things. May I know why? CFB: I still write in Tagalog. So I was forced to shift my attention from Tagalog to English.” But your Tagalog poetry is different from your English in terms of tone and technique. techniques. I wrote in Tagalog. RB: As a bilingual poet. My feelings will be affected by those elements in one or the other language.” “salita. But the situation then affected my choice of language. because the Tagalog language rises from a history of oppression and deprivation. history.” and “dila. You cannot have one without the other. Most of my Tagalog poems are about social things—relationships of people. That’s why I don’t write the same subjects in Tagalog that I write about in English. you wrote more poems in English than in Tagalog. In college. RB: Why would that be? CFB: Well. They are already all in the language. That’s because to me Tagalog is the more suitable language for those social commentaries. The language carries with it all the traditions of poetry. special armaments. Kirot ng Kataga. I have only three books of poetry in Tagalog [Sugat ng Salita. Ronald Baytan 225 . my English works are more dominant. Up to now we are revolting. I wanted to write. my family. The issue of national language was still volatile. It’s all about form and content. later on. You cannot separate craft from language. I wanted that to be reversed. RB: The titles of your Tagalog poetry collections are obviously about language: “kataga. So when I write in English.

Hernandez. How I write is already inscribed in me. I have more affinity with Hernandez because I identify with what he writes about: the poor. differences in models—they can have effects on the writer’s way of thinking.” you talk about the dual heritage of English—English as a gift and as a curse—and then end with the image of a puppet. “Written in Stratford-upon-Avon. Pareho kami ng Tagalog niyan e. “Banal na Pasyon ayon Kay Simeon. something that has escaped Shakespearean tragedy? The title. Is English culture also one of commercialism.” Differences in culture. But craft is another matter. The way I think about how I write and how I think about other people writing. Aktibista” is I think the longest poem. His Tagalog is no different from mine. and I start lamenting my own country’s state. no.” “Sugat ng Salita” is also often anthologized. these may change. it’s like being influenced by Jose Garcia Villa. Could you comment on translation and your work. I think of what’s happening to my own people.RB: Which of your Tagalog poems do you like best.” stresses that point. RB: Would you say Hernandez and Abadilla have influenced your Tagalog poetry? CFB: I am in sympathy with Amado V. with Abadilla. RB: In “Written in Stratford-upon-Avon. When I’m in another country. or would like to be remembered for? CFB: “Panulat. It’s all about form. I’m amazed by its progress and riches. I wrote about that in “Written in Stratford-upon-Avon. I can understand Hernandez’s work very well. society’s problems. That’s my favorite. You can easily see somebody who is influenced by Abadilla. why did you choose the puppet [“strings pulling my bones”]? CFB: There I criticize their commercializing of Shakespeare. That probably makes my translations of his poems a little bit easier. and so on. but not the way I write. RB: How has your trip to Europe or abroad changed you as a poet—the way your write. the way you think as a poet? CFB: Probably how I think. differences in language. Hernandez. RB: You also translated the work of National Artist Amado V. Bullets and Roses?32 226 Likhaan 6 • Interview / Panayam . Apart from the poem’s nationalistic angle.

and his best language is what he has mastered. If only you could write so many things at the same time! Now I’m more concerned with my poetry because that’s what’s keeping me productive. is a kind of betrayal [Traduttore. traditore]. In one instance. Tagalog is polysyllabic. RB: May I know if you have already finished writing the Asoge trilogy? CFB: The second part is almost finished. RB: Do you also consider the audience for whom you are writing the translation? CFB: As in poetry. I asked people around. as the Italians say. A good writer writes in his best language. but sometimes you get bogged down. That is one argument against all those people speaking about the national language. Filipinos have no problem with shifting from one language to another. If you want to write in that language. He used one word whose definition I have not yet found. You don’t say. Ronald Baytan 227 . especially in terms of structure. Translation. You have to pretend you are that person. English monosyllabic. adapt your self to him. I’m going to write in Tagalog. Tagalog and English are two different languages. what should I think? No. because we’re bilingual. It was probably a misprint but there were no notes about it anywhere. you write for yourself. The most basic problem in translating a poem is getting into the head of whoever is speaking. RB: Your first book of fiction was in English [Stories]. Two people translating the same thing will come up with two different translations. just write. You cannot be truly faithful to the work you’re translating. the language that he is using. You are sort of disgusted by that kind of failure on your part when you are not even sure that you are wrong. RB: What difficulties did you encounter translating Hernandez? CFB: Finding the right English word or expression for the Tagalog word that we use. I wasn’t sure whether I had succeeded. Was there any problem writing your novel in Filipino? CFB: No. Not only to his environment but also his manner of speaking. write in it! You don’t have to impose that language on people. Translation is unnecessary except as a last resort. or an ideal reader. You really have to be a linguist.CFB: Probably the most difficult kind of creation is translation because there nothing is definite. not really.

but poetry sometimes will do it for you—to your surprise. sometimes you have to wait for the poem to finish itself. But I have eleven! There was even a time when I wrote two poems in one day. about me as an old man. In poetry. how long it took me to write the second poem. I hardly touch on such matters. Prose is easier because you can plan things and just slack off if you cannot finish it. That is my experience with poetry. Poetry pleases me very much because of the intensity of the experience there. I’m so happy because all my anxiety is gone. When I finish a poem. and pain. how different is writing fiction from writing poetry? CFB: I enjoy writing fiction because you know where you’re going. I’m putting it all down. With poetry it’s not like that. they’re so different from my earlier ones because I’m trying to marry prose and poetry in such a way that the product will become more poetry than prose. Ten poems a month—that’s my target. RB: Literature is about hope in the end. But about the other things. You can have an outline. In short stories. RB: What’s that new collection about? CFB: It’s autobiographical. however. Sometimes it takes me years to finish one poem. I will publish the work. between two poems. the beginning. but you may find yourself writing about something else. RB: So you already have the ending of the Asoge trilogy? 228 Likhaan 6 • Interview / Panayam . God alone can write them. one after the other! You feel good when you’re satisfied with what you’ve written. all of a sudden. middle. my view of the world. my feelings: a lot of irony.I’ve already written eleven poems this February alone. RB: You once said that poetry is a “monkey on your back. the historical significations. CFB: I have very few poems on God. You can have all these ideas. I write mostly about man because I know man.”33 So. Scholars will see. and end determined before you even write. on theology. But a lot of hope. I’m dating the poems in my notebook. too. and hopelessness. All these new poems will constitute my second poem. If I can finish a hundred poems. The story does not finish itself. it’s finished. how I look at things now. For me that’s a record. we are more in control than in poetry. Those are the things you experience in old age.

But nobody really taught me how to paint. One of the latest is the author [Stieg Larsson] of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. “Creative nonfiction. there are so many writers. so I went to Literature. I take my hat off to fictionists. humorous pieces that criticize whatever matter you want to criticize. is also mostly autobiographical. unity. My wife who knows paintings also taught me the rudiments of color and composition. That involves a Ronald Baytan 229 .CFB: Yes. They use each other’s language because they share so many terms in common: surface tension. in so many ways. RB: Who are the fictionists you admire and emulate? CFB: Most of them are detective fictionists. The only thing I don’t like about fiction is its length. crisp. RB: About criticism. yes! He was my idol. But that didn’t stop my liking for painting. You can experiment with the form of nonfiction. how different is it from creative writing? CFB: It’s an entirely different kind of pursuit because you are not really “creating. Everything we read becomes a part of our literary consciousness. Short. makes me feel good after reading. RB: Another matter—how different from poetry and fiction is the writing of nonfiction? CFB: Not much different from writing any kind of prose. and you may say. Every time you write. harmony. you have to go back to what you have written. Borges. Painting is a very good armament for literary writers.” You are examining and justifying certain texts. you have to work on it every day. Imagine how much labor they put into their work! I understood that with my first novel. Painting and poetry run parallel in many ways. You talked about it in “The Poet as Painter: Pages from a Notebook. affects and influences me. see painting exhibitions. Anything that impresses me. RB: You are also a painter. I know its ending. Neruda.”34 CFB: What I really wanted [to take up] in college was Fine Arts but the tuition in that course was very high. the great classic detective writers like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. or essay. and so on. That’s why it’s easy for me to go back to it. There are. color combination. I would associate with painters in UST. For non-detective fiction. study painting on my own. and I enjoyed doing that with my columns for Panorama.” so called. of course. To finish a novel. I admire.

there will always be critics. In a group of poets. It’s all just talk. I was so lucky to have met people who were really into it: George Steiner. That’s the first outside step you take. If you want to be a good writer. 230 Likhaan 6 • Interview / Panayam . or of fiction. We need good critical schools to help our literature and the other arts advance. RB: So much of our literature hasn’t been studied yet. You can have so many kinds of critical schools. but not the kind of criticism in academe. RB: What about developing our own theory? CFB: It will come if it develops. In fact. You have more people involved in serious criticism now than before because they have learned from the West. Well. RB: But you did semiotics. my thinking. my way of looking at things. and critics from schools like UP and UST. The poets themselves are their own critics. you said our critics “have not yet earned the kind of respect that they should get as critics. Just like our national language: if everybody speaks Tagalog. there’s really not much encouragement in this country when it comes to literature. Paul Engle (our director in Iowa). but knowledge nonetheless that can contribute to the greatness of our country’s literature.”35 Have our critics made progress since 1977? CFB: There is always progress. I can’t imagine myself being a critic. be a critic as well. And if you develop that in an intense manner. Of course. RB: In your interview with Ricardo de Ungria. but the most dominant one will still be the one that is progressive and acceptable. even the works of canonical writers. then you will become a professional critic. they were written because of the demand by the academic world. then that’s our national language.knowledge of things quite different from the knowledge of poetry. you have this or that kind of critical activity. for you can’t force it. CFB: Because there is a lack of critical energy. It’s most difficult for me to write criticism. No encouragement either for criticism. It is as if I have to change everything—change my language. CFB: The heyday of that kind of criticism in Europe and America was in the 1960s and 1970s. as a writer. I probably wouldn’t have written critical works. We don’t have that yet.

like the critics. Ronald Baytan 231 . wouldn’t you? I went to La Salle in 1969. Aside from the site. Thomas’s heritage to Filipinos in the course of history is reflected in literature? So then what makes a text Thomasian? Apart from all these. but whatever literature becomes dominant. a writing that reflects the teachings of St. When you are a young teacher. RB: Realist texts are privileged in our canon. Sometimes a blogger doesn’t know anything about writing. make them write about serious things. What can you say about that? CFB: It’s natural in our case. you try to look for a school that would more or less make you feel at home. These ideologists would like to advance their causes. Textanaga. more open. They were liberal. You have all kinds of ideologies—literature being also a form of propaganda. Thomas. The only school offering AB Pilipino or Tagalog was the National Teachers’ College. you went to La Salle where you retired. My degree was AB English. The bloggers. Literature and technology are connected. We had three units only in Pilipino.36 CFB: It’s always arbitrary.” First. that’s our literature. and I liked what the American Brothers were doing. RB: What about your Thomasian heritage? The late Ophelia Dimalanta asked whether “Thomasian writing” exists. Nothing wrong with that. In poetry. simple things that may help. CFB: I also taught for one year at UST and another year at Saint Louis. However.RB: What can you say about the new genres and new forms that have come out? CFB: That’s unavoidable. create something good. what of St. It’s like that anywhere else. Next. teach their members how to write properly. RB: How was your life as teacher? After Saint Louis. how far can you go with blogs? Blogs are nothing else but undisciplined essays. But there are things to lean on to define “Thomasian writing. RB: How has UST influenced your own writing? CFB: I was studying in UST when I began writing. you have the Textula. you have to talk about the technicalities of the writer’s poetry or fiction. My formal start as writer was in the classrooms at UST. probably UP also. all he has is a computer. must patrol their ranks.

Is much writing going on now? Are we producing more or not? RB: What can you say about our young writers now? CFB: The writers now in our universities are doing all right. This is the kind of salary you will get. and I liked these lines. there is that kind of doubt about the verities of our political institutions. 232 Likhaan 6 • Interview / Panayam . the writer’s problem is simply to write. when the pressure of work became too great. In UP. I would get the kind of money that was decent for me to retire on. too. like Brother Andrew and Albert Casuga. but how it should is something else. say. As always. a number of writers are capable of contributing to the progress of our literature. Santos Creative Writing Center in the 1991. RB: La Salle had created an environment conducive to writing. Bro. Some young writers are very good. They tell you. UP writing is the top-rank among academic places. and also the highest-paying school. CFB: In 1970. the Free Press. RB: You also helped found the Bienvenido N. there is something of you in whatever you write. It was the best then. Your Vice President telling you he read your poetry! He would do that for many years.more honest. I read your poem. We had a small group of writers. Always. Andrew returned from the States and eventually became our Vice President for Academic Affairs. Brother Andrew would write me a note saying. RB: Is Philippine literature developing as it should? CFB: It is developing. At that time. Let’s go back to your poetics. May I know your thoughts about the Philippine nation? CFB: I say very little about that except in the epics. Politics is the last of my priorities. Still. Always at the back of my mind. This is our ranking here. and I found some nice poems there—and an essay by Eugene Evasco. You knew what you were getting into. I figured that if I stayed on. when I had a poem published in. he would talk to you over the phone and send you books to read. He is very good in Tagalog. UST has the 400-title project. not so much on its politics. I was reading Likhaan. RB: The criticism of your work has mostly been on the techniques. How much of your work is autobiographical? CFB: All of it.

I would never write about that. what would it be? CFB: I always say: Poetry is not about things as they are. you believe in order to betray. I finished one poem about my guardian angel. of course. you can prepare before. is the system that we call poetry writing. betrayal. Poetry is about how things are seen. Prose is about how things are. intellectual. but about things as they are imagined. That collection will have different voices. We believe. Then. It will come when it does. why is your latest lyric collection titled Believe and Betray? CFB: Because that’s what we do: we believe. or perceived. Paradox. In poetry. much more than what people compare it to: having a baby. during. and after the baby. imagined. There’s some kind of change in you when you try to shift from prose to poetry because each one has its own appropriate materials. and techniques. Poetry is difficult because you don’t know when you’ll finish it. finishing a book is a way of rejoicing about the mysterious quality of creative writing. from the perspective of an old man. systems. How to arrive there in a rational. You can see it from beginning to end. Irony. your principles. before. You betray your fellow men. we betray. We believe things. and others we betray. It’s one or the other. when it is finished. That’s how we survive. Almost every time. It’s just there when it’s there. We are all like that. Not believe and betray as one. One must know the distinction between prose and poetry. we betray. artistic way. RB: The main tropes in your body of work. probably even yourself. you betray others. When these two cannot be separate anymore. Ronald Baytan 233 . This is human life.RB: By way of concluding. the human aspects of survival and existence. many personae. RB: If there’s one lesson you wish to impart to young writers about poetry. Do you already have a title for your upcoming collection? CFB: Wala pa. Having a baby is tractable. you cannot. When you believe yourself. there’s love.

———. Manila: De La Salle University Press. Manila: De La Salle University Press. ———. Inc. 1990. Quezon City: Central Book Supply. ———. Kirot ng Kataga. a Bilingual Edition. Edited and with an Introduction by Marjorie M. Breaking Signs: Lectures on Literature and Semiotics. ———. 2010. ———. ———. Evasco. The House of True Desire: Essays on Life and Literature. 1995. ———. poems by Cirilo F. Stories. The Archipelago (first volume in The Trilogy of Saint Lazarus). The Early Years. 1992. Manila: De La Salle College Research Council. Sunlight on Broken Stones. Manila: Philippine Centennial Commission. ———. The Cave and Other Poems. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press. ———. Casuga. 234 Likhaan 6 • Interview / Panayam . Galaw ng Asoge: Isang Nobela. Manila: De La Salle University Publications. ———. Baguio City: Ato Book Shop. 2011. 2004. Believe and Betray: New and Collected Poems. Manila: De La Salle University Press. 2003. 1985. ———. Manila: De La Salle University Press. Boneyard Breaking: New Collected Poems. 2000. Manila: A. 1963. Summer Suns (short stories by Albert B. Charts. Tinik sa Dila: Isang Katipunan ng mga Tula. Telex Moon (second volume in The Trilogy of Saint Lazarus). 100 Poems. Manila: UST Publishing House. ———. Edited by Santiago B. 1968. 1973. 2011. ———. Bullets and Roses: The Poetry of Amado V. Cirilo F. 1999.B. 2006. 1990.References Books Bautista. Quezon City: C&E Publishing for De La Salle University. Manila: UST Publishing House. The De La Salle University Story. Bautista. ———. Casuga. 1981. Volume 2. Manila: San Beda College. Quezon City: Kalikasan Press. Bautista). Sunlight on Broken Stones (the last in The Trilogy of Saint Lazarus). Sugat ng Salita. ———. Manila: Integrated Research Center of De La Salle University. 2003. Translated into English and with a Critical Introduction by Cirilo F. 1970. for De La Salle University. Hernandez. ———. ———. ———. Manila: De La Salle University Press. Manila: De La Salle University Press. Villafania.

1998).2 (1990): 1–16. “The Poet’s Solitary Journey. Dimalanta. 2001. Dimalanta.” Archipelago 4 (1977): 28–31. Bautista. rpt. Bayot. and Guido de Lavezares. 3. Bautista. Bautista. 1995). “I invented. Dimalanta.” says Bautista. “Kapangyarihan ng mga Kataga sa Sugat ng Salita: Isang Panayam kay Cirilo F.” 48. Bautista. 5. 601–604. 245. Bautista: Mapping the Fjords of the Skull. 3. Volume 2 (Manila: UST Publishing House. Alfred A. rpt. 9th ed. he is now the Conscience of Intramuros” (48). Words and Battlefield.” in Dimalanta’s The Philippine Poetic (Manila: Colegio de San Juan de Letran. 11. 7. 147–165 and 167–172. Words and Battlefields: A Theoria on the Poem. 2006). 9. in Cruz and Bayot. “The Archipelago: Vision Objectified” and “On To Telex Moon.” Cruz and Bayot. “Triumph of an Epic. Dimalanta Reader: Selected Prose. “‘I Celebrate Ordinary Experience’: An Interview with Cirilo F. 61–69. 1993). 89. Jr.” Likha 11. Manila: De La Salle University Press. Cruz and David Jonathan Bayot (Manila: De La Salle University Press. Juan de Salcedo. 13. (Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College Publishers. Bautista. Words and Battlefield: A Theoria on the Poem. I. Dimalanta.” Cruz and Bayot.” Likhaan: Journal of Creative Writing 9 (2009): 203–205.———. “Manila: A Poetic Vision. “Manila: A Poetic Vision. Isagani R. Thomas Arp. Monina A. The Trilogy of Saint Lazarus. Manila: De La Salle University Press. in Cruz and Bayot. Telex Moon. Bautista. rpt. Bautista. in this manner I evolved the itinerary of Rizal in England. de Ungria. “Cirilo F. Bautista. Mercado. 4. 43-57. 1980): 29–30. 253. 71–84. rpt. 6. ———. rpt. Bautista.. The Ophelia A.” Observer 21 (6 Dec. 105–120. ed. Bautista also states: “The physical Rizal in The Archipelago becomes the mental Rizal in Telex Moon: he is now the brain of the organism. 10.” 246. Escobal. Dimalanta Reader: Selected Prose. This essay originally appeared as two separate chapters. Bautista” (unpublished thesis. Endnotes 1. in Cruz and Bayot. 2. Lawrence Perrine’s Sound and Sense: An Introduction to Poetry. Yuson. in Reading Cirilo F. 1998. Ronald Baytan 235 . 14. and Germany …” (45). De Ungria. Yolanda T. 1976). 213. “the Diaries of Limahong.” The Manila Review (March 1977): 48–56. Bautista. 15. “Breaking the Sign: An Interview with Cirilo F. The Ophelia A.136. Spain. David Jonathan Y. 12.VII. 85–103. 8. Ricardo M. De La Salle University. “The Poet’s Solitary Journey from The Archipelago on to Telex Moon.” 52. 214. “The Winged Minotaur: (Notes on) Experimentation in Poetry. 59. “Manila: A Poetic Vision. Words and Battlefield. Ophelia A. in Cruz and Bayot.

Dimalanta Reader. Bautista: Mapping the Fjords of the Skull. Dimalanta. Bautista. 39. This remark appears in the interview with Monina Mercado: “As I said before. 34. Louis University Research Journal 3. De Ungria. De Ungria.” 202–205. Evasco in her introduction (“A Lyric Sense of History”) to Cirilo F. Mercado. 25.” 115. 1970): 72. See Carlos M. “The Reordered Reality in The Cave and Other Poems. rpt. “Bautista’s long works. “The Problem with Poetry. a monkey on one’s back. See The Writers’ Wives. Bautista?” Home Life 20. ed. if not off it” (69). 27. in fact. Hernandez. “Manila: A Poetic Vision. 236 Likhaan 6 • Interview / Panayam . De Ungria. 199-203. 30. “The Poet’s Solitary Journey. in Cruz and Bayot. 31.3-4 (1972): 472–554.” Solidarity 5.” 74. Guerrero’s The First Filipino appears in the epigraphs of the three sections of Telex Moon.” The House of True Desire. 19. “Cirilo F. “Philippine Poetry in English: Some Notes for Exploration. 297. in Cruz and Bayot. 20. Casuga. Bautista. In “Thomasian Writing: Reality or Myth. It is.” says Marjorie M. Leon Ma. Bautista’s Believe and Betray: New and Collected Poems. rpt. Bayot. Joaquin Martinez de Zuñiga’s Historia de las Islas Philipinas are quoted a number of times in The Archipelago. 32. 26.” 203–205.10 (1973): 31–32. 32–37. are consanguineous with his relatively shorter lyric poems. Bautista.16. 28. 129–190. 2000). Bautista’s essay on Cirilo F. Antonio de Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas and Fr. “The Winged Minotaur: (Notes on) Experimentation in Poetry. 25–31. 36. Selected Prose. “The Winged Minotaur: (Notes on) Experimentations in Poetry.12 (Dec. Bautista. writing poetry is for love. 113. Narita M.” Rose Marie J. Bautista. 29. 35. 18.” 245. “Breaking the Sign: An Interview with Cirilo F. Gonzalez (Pasig: Anvil.” 45. “Manila: A Poetic Vision. the poems of epic length and purpose. But it is there and one has to live with it. 17. sheer love. Bautista translated selected poems by Hernandez in Bullets and Roses: The Poetry of Amado V. Canilao. xxii. “The Winged Minotaur: (Notes on) Experimentations in Poetry. 24. 63. In Likha 7 (1984): 1–7. “Who’s Afraid of Cirilo F. 33.” says Bautista in Words and Battlefield.” St. 22.” 45–48. as “The Reordered Reality in The Cave” in Cruz and Bayot. De Ungria. Bautista.” 196. “The technology of print not only exiles the poem to the page but seals the lips in the reading of it. a Bilingual Edition with Bautista’s critical introduction.” The Ophelia A. 23. rpt. This is the title of Casuga’s article on Bautista’s poetry. 21. particularly 25–29 for “Joy Bank.

pangunahing akademikong aparato ng kanilang pagmamakata. Antonio. bureaucratic corruption. ngunit ang bawat isa sa kanila’y may salaysay na animo’y nag-uumagos patungo sa isang malaking ilog. upperclass decadence and foreign domination” (1997. na masasabing ang panulaan ng kanilang henerasyon. Mangahas. Sanchez at Giancarlo Lauro C. at ng ngayo’y Pambansang Alagad ng Sining para sa Panitikan Rio Alma (o Virgilio S. Triumbirato ang tatlong ito.Ang Tatlong Panahon ng Panulaan ni Rogelio G. isinulong din nila bandang huli ang isang makabayang panulaan. les enfants terribles noong mga panahong iyon sa University of the East. Pawang supling ng panahong magulo at magalaw ang tungkong-batong iginagalang. sina Lamberto E. 66). at masugid Sir Rogelio G. kundi lalo’t higit sa mga kondisyong nag-aanyo sa mga ito sa lupain ng Filipinas. manapa. silang inabangan ng kanilang mga kapanahon sa university belt. Abadilla. Mangahas noong kaniyang kasibulan. na tumititig hindi na lamang sa mahahalaga at “unibersal” na karanasang pantao. kasama ang dalawa pang persona na naging katalamitam at kaumpugangbote niya noong dekada 60 sa kanilang pagsisimula. Almario sa prosa). Mangahas Louie Jon A. 237 . Abrahan K inikilalang isa sa tungkongbato ng ikalawang bugso ng modernismo sa panulaang Tagalog si Rogelio G. na inilarawan minsan ni Bienvenido Lumbera na “denouncing economic exploitation. Pinaigting nilang tatlo hindi lamang ang isang poetikang tumututol sa gahum ng popular na pagtula at namamayaning estetika na binalikwasan noong una ni Alejandro G.

” na nagpapamalas 238 Likhaan 6 • Interview / Panayam . Ang magkakabeerkadang sina Lamberto T. Antonio.Sa loob at labas ng panitikan. Ngunit sa hiwa-hiwalay na talakay. sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng kaniyang pagkakasaysayang pampanitikan. at Rogelio G. Malinaw na maibubuod bilang estratehikong pagsalunga ang masinsing inilarawan ni Almario sa kaniyang seminal na Balagtasismo Versus Modernismo: Panulaang Tagalog sa Ika-20 Siglo na “kilusang” pinasimulan nilang tatlo bilang mga indibidwal ngunit nagkakaisang makata. 290). mamamalas din ang mga pinagdaanang pakikipagsapalaran ng tatlo patungo sa pagsalungang iyon na kumatawan sa panulaang “(naghunos) bilang isang panitikang kung di man tawaging Modernista ay lumilikha ng kaukulang paninimbang sa binuksang eksperimentasyong pangwika’t pampamamaraan ng Modernismo sa dekada 60 at sa nagbabagong kilatis ng kilusang makabansa at makalipunan” (1985. Nauna si Lumbera sa tila paghahambing at paglalarawan sa kanilang tatlo bilang mga makata. inilarawan niya si Alma bilang makatang nagsimula sa isang “cultivated aestheticism learned from Eliot and allied Western poets and critics” at noong huli’y bumaling sa “social consciousness of the Rizal tradition.” Inihanay naman niya si Antonio bilang isa sa mga “best exponents of committed poetry. Mangahas. Sa yugto ng “new directions in poetry” matapos ang giyera. Rio Alma.

bilang isa sa bumuo ng ngayo’y kinikilala nang napakahalagang pangkat-pampanulaan na sumibol mula sa mga pahayagang pangmag-aaral noong panahon ng sigwa at di nagtagal ay naging mahalagang tagapaghawan ng panulaan ng mga susunod na henerasyon. at ang pinakahuling Gagamba sa Uhay: Kalipunan ng mga Haiku (2006).” Sa kaniyang pagpapahalaga sa surealismo at simbolismong kinasangkapan ng makata sa tula. Sanchez at Giancarlo Lauro C. Ang pagsubaybay sa kaniyang paglago bilang tao at makata.” sabay din niyang pinuri ang maagap na pagtugon ng makata sa sinasabi niya noong “changing temper of writing” (1997. at pagtasa sa kaniyang mga tula. at panulaan ni Mangahas. Sa kabila nito. Abrahan 239 . upang ihayag ang “grief and rage over violence and death resulting from a clash between youth and an intractable order. hindi mapapasubaliang higit na lumikha ang mga kasamang sina Antonio at Alma ng mas maraming proyektong pampanulaan. ay nagpapamamalas sa madla Louie Jon A. Tatlong panahong pampanulaan ang mababanaag sa panayam na ito. 66). 1961-1967 (1967). Kasabay ng pagtunghay-na-muli sa kasaysayan at kasaysayang pampanitikan ay ilang pagsipat sa piling akda ni Mangahas. Nakabalangkas ang panayam na ito sa pagtugaygay sa buhay ni Mangahas bilang “control and discrimination. panahon ng pangangahas. sa pahapyaw niyang pagbasa sa tulang “Mga Duguang Plakard. sinikap balikan ang penomeno ng tungkongbato sa diwa. hindi maitatangging ang naging “kakaunting” pagtula ni Mangahas ang higit pa ngang nagpatalim at nagpakisig sa kaniyang panulaang matitiyak na may maingat na pinagnilayang paglalathala. Samantalang binubuo nito ang kahulugan ng “ikalawang bugso ng modernismo” na kinikilala na ngayong pinasimunuan ng tatlo. Mga Duguang Plakard at Iba Pang Tula (1971). at panahon ng pagbubuo. ang mga aklat na Manlilikha: Mga Piling Tula.” Pagbabagong-diwa din ang naging tema ng pagtaya ni Lumbera kay Mangahas. Layon din kasi ng panayam-papel na ito na masdan ang kaniyang pag-unlad bilang makata. ang tatlong matipunong aklat ng kaniyang karera. na maituturing na “pakikipanayam” din sa mga tula niya: ang panahon ng pagbabalik-tanaw. Sa unang tingin ay tila kakaunti at manipis itong tatlong aklat na ito upang bumuo sa maituturing na makabuluhang lawas ng kaniyang mga akda. sa pamamagitan ng pagsasanib ng kaniyang mga tinuran sa masasabi ring “tungkong-bato” ng kaniyang panulaan. kinikilala rin ng panayam-papel si Mangahas bilang isang kaisipan na bumalangkas sa kanilang magkakaiba ngunit nagsasanib na mga tunguhin at mithiin. Ang pakikipanayam sa makata na nakapaloob sa sanaysay na ito’y idinaan sa palitan ng email sa loob ng halos dalawang buwan. bilang isa sa persona sa liga ng mga dakila. gunita. Sa panayam-papel na ito.

Diwa. 2012 sa Que Rico’s Bar sa may Katipunan. “Nailabas iyon dahil sa separation pay niya (Mangahas) bilang security guard. ang precursor ng kilala ngayong National Housing Authority o NHA) dahil ako’y nagtuturo 240 Likhaan 6 • Interview / Panayam . Nuweba Esiha noong Mayo 9. bilang panimula sa bungkos ng mga tulang itinatanghal kasama ng akda ng iba pang kapanahong inilarawan ni Almario na “ubod ng makabuluhang tinig-Modernista” (1985. Rio Alma. at pinatatag nang husto ng pagiral at patuloy na pananahan sa matulaing karanasan.” kuwento pa ng Pambansang Alagad ng Sining. naisip kong maging isang proyekto ng organisasyon ang pagpapalibro ng isang antolohiya ng mga makabagong tula upang makatulong sa pagpapasigla ng kilusang pangwika at pampanitikan sa mga kolehiyo at unibersidad. “Sumilang sa Palasinan. Karamihan sa mga tula ay lumabas sa mga pahayagang pangkampus na may mga editor na liberal. Lamberto E. na si Mangahas mismo ang nagtaguyod. Panahon ng Pagbabalik-tanaw: Sa Kandungan ng Nayon Sa antolohiyang Manlilikha. Naririto naman ang bersiyon ni Mangahas. Ricarte at yaong hindi pa lubusan ngunit may simpatiya o pagkiling na sa modernismo. Ganito ring sakripisyo ang ginawa ng mga kasamang makata para mailimbag ang kanilang mga unang folio ng tula sa loob ng dekada ’60” (ibid). sa Balagtasismo Versus Modernismo: “Si Mangahas noon ay nagtatrabaho ring guwardiya sa housing project ng gobyerno at nang tumanggap ng separation pay ay ginamit na puhunan ang salapi sa pagpapalimbag ng antolohiyang Manlilikha. mulat. Kabyaw. itinala mismo ng editor ng aklat na si Mangahas ang sarili niyang payak na minulan. o progresibo. 1939. Pinili ko ang mga makatang nakahanay na sa pagiging modernista—sina E. Lungsod Quezon. kundi lalo’t higit sa konteksto ng pagkakatipon ng mga tula: “Bilang pangulo ng KADIPAN (Kapisanang kaniyang kapuri-puring artistikong ambag bilang kasapi ng “tungkongbato”—isang poetikang itinanim sa lupain ng batang gunita. 203). Tiyempong kapagbibitiw ko sa pagiging security guard sa PHHC (People’s Homesite and Housing Corporation. nagtapos ng elementarya sa nasabing bayan …” Maalamat ang pagkakalabas ng Manlilikha. Nagkataong walang pondo noon ang organisasyon. na hindi lamang gumugunita sa kaniyang pamumuhunan. May mas kompletong pagtataya si Almario sa personal na pamumuhunan ni Mangahas para sa Manlilikha.. Antonio. Pedro L. San Juan Jr. Unang ibinandera ang kuwentong ito ni Almario sa isang huntahan para sa kaarawan ni Mangahas nitong nakaraang Mayo 9. at Panitik). pinatubo sa gitna ng masilakbong panahon sa lungsod.

ng midya. ginunita ni Mangahas ang samot-saring trabahong pinasok niya upang makapag-aral lamang. hindi iilang larawan ng batang si Mangahas. na naging balon ng danas para sa kaniyang pagsisimula. Sinabi ni Mangahas sa panayam sa email na “binago ako ng mga kampus. maraming inilarawang karanasang-lungsod si Mangahas. ang nagpapakita ng kaniyang mala-artistang kakisigan). di mo matamo/Ang iyong sarili sa lilim na iyan. May pagkagiliw na muli’t muling inilarawan ni Mangahas ang kaniyang minulan sa panayam na ito: “Kabukirang may bahaging gubat at Louie Jon A. may naibahagi pa siyang parang duwelo habang nakaposte bilang guwardiya (at isa pa. tila napakakaraniwan ng naging buhay sa lungsod ni Mangahas: “… kinuha (niya) ang dalawang taon sa hayskul ng Kabyaw at ang huling dalawang taon ay tinapos sa Jose Abad sa UE.” Sa huntahan ding nabanggit. ang sapang walang alon ay piping nagdarasal…. na siya namang tunay na nagsilang sa kaniyang panulaan. kabilang na ang nasa Manlilikha. mga aktibista. Maynila noong 1955-1957 … Nag-aral ng Edukasyon sa UE. Sa kuwento ni Mangahas.” na pagpupugay ng makata sa dinadakilang pintor ng rural na buhay at tanawin: natutulog sa tukal ang tutubing karayom. Sa kaniyang tala sa Manlilikha.” Ngunit tila sinusuysoy nga ng maagang panulaan niya ang malaparaisong daigdig ng “Kabyaw” (ngayo’y Cabiao). nagtapos ng AB Pilipino noong 1965 … Kasalukuyang nagtuturo ng panitikang Pilipino sa UE at katulong na patnugot ng magasing Panitikan. mga kalsada. Ngunit ang mismong mga tula ni Mangahas sa Manlilikha ang mistulang nagpapasabik sa kaniya sa nayong samantalang binabalikan naman ay tila laging imahen at talinghaga sa piling ng lungsod.” Sa Que Rico’s. Kaming “magkakabeerkada” (ang tinutukoy niya rito ay ang sarili niya at ang dalawang katungkong-bato) sa loob at labas ng panitikan ay binago ng panahon at kapaligiran. Binondo. Sanchez at Giancarlo Lauro C. Nagpasiya ako agad na gamitin ang aking separation pay para sa pagpapalibro ng Manlilikha./Ikaw ay di ikaw sa dayong kalakhang/Aninong pumagas sa lupaing iyo. at lalo’t higit.”). tila ba umaatikabo ang kaniyang naging mga sapalaran. Madarama ito sa mga tulang tulad ng “Ang Lilim na Iyan” (“Nahan ang anino/Na likha ng iyong diwang nakasingkaw/At lunong kalulwang tumanghod na multo?/A. Abrahan 241 . sa marami niyang tanaga tulad ng “Para Kay Amorsolo. at isa na nga roon ang pagiging guwardiya.

at batubato. Ngunit hindi mapayapa ang panahon ng aking kamusmusan. Bilang “anak ng bukid. maaari talagang pumukaw ng mga primal na imaheng sinisikdo ang buhay-karaniwan niya sa bukid. gandang nakatatakam ay di ko mapupukol (“Buwan sa Batis”) kayganda niyong tukal na sapupo ng batis napangarap kong hagkan kahit nilang putik! (“Ang Tukal sa Batis”) 242 Likhaan 6 • Interview / Panayam . magsipok. hito. na tila imaheng daluyang patuloy na nagpapadalisay ng kaniyang matamang pagbaling: sa batis. yaong buwa’y sanghiwang pakwang-hapon. at bana. at “sistemang kasamá pa noon ang umiiral sa pagsasaka. nakahuhuli ng dalag. Naririyang sa kaniyang paggulang ay tatanagaan niya ang batis sa di iilang pagkakataon. “At bilang katuwaan namin ng aking mga kababata. tulad na lamang sa mga ito. at sa timog-kanluran naman ang di-kalayuang Bundok Arayat.” maaga siyang namulat sa pagbabanat ng buto: “naging pastol (ako) ng kalabaw. gumapas ng palay. may sandaling nakikipagsagutan kami sa mga tuko. masaya.” dagdag pa niya. kabukiran din ng Cabiao ang nagdulot sa kaniya ng isang halos karaniwang kabataan—mapaglaro. masasabing buhay kay Mangahas ang kabatiran hinggil sa tagisan ng mga uring namumuhay sa kapayapaan ng kaniyang musmos na daigdig. patimog. lukaok. puno ng buhay. Sa batang malay ni Mangahas. Buhay na buhay ang mga gunita ng paglalaro at paglasap sa danas-kalikasan sa kaniyang maalam na wika’t pagbabahagi.” wika pa niya.ilog ang aming kapaligiran sa Cabiao. kalaw.” “Magsasaka ang aking mga magulang.” Mula pa noon. sangka. Nueva Ecija. Mula sa hilaga ay pakiwal na dumadaan sa aming bayan ang Ilog Pampanga. Tanaw namin sa silangan ang may kalayuang Sierra Madre. at kung paano ito sinisikap lunukin ng kaniyang pamilya at mga kababayan. nananalakab sa sapa.” Sa kabila nito. magtanim. gayundin sa mga ibon—lalo na sa mga martines. Maagang natutuhan ko ang mangisda: pumapandaw ng bubo sa mga pilapil. natutong mag-araro. kaya’t maraming magsasaka ang nalulubog sa utang dahil sa patubuang talinduwa at takipan. talakitok.

” kuwento pa ni Mangahas.” aniya. matupad lamang ang kanilang tungkuling iligtas ang bansa sa kamay ng panibagong mananakop. Ilang araw at gabing hindi nakatikim ng kanin ang mga Hukbalahap at Wa Chi—mga gerilyang Tsino-Pilipinong kontra Hapones—na nagsipagkanlong sa mga dawag. Baryo San Julian ng aming bayan ang Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon o Hukbalahap noong Marso 29. bihira ang para basahin lang. Nabuhay ang makata sa isang sentro ng aksiyon na magiging kuta ng mga makabagong mandirigmang gagawing kanlungan ang bundok. Nakamamanghang basahin ang pirasong ito ng buhay ng makata kasabay ang isa pang tanagang ibinahagi niya sa Manlilikha. 1942. at kaya napatahan may gising na tirador.Sa pagbasa sa panimulang pagtula ni Mangahas sa Manlilikha at pagninilay sa kaniyang pagkukuwento sa minulang nayon. “Magtatatlong taon ako nang itatag nina Luis Taruc sa Sitio Bawit. ang “Sa Isang Burol”: umalulong sa buwan ang asong nasa burol. Madaling sinupin ang kapayapaang tila idealistiko lalo sa mga tanagang nakapaloob sa Manlilikha. “Dahil sa digmaan at pagiging aktibo ng mga gerilya. Maraming namatay at nasugatan sa pambobombang iyon. na noo’y binabagabag ng mga usaping pangkapayapaan at pangkalayaan. May pagbabadya ang panahon at tila nakamasid ang lahat sa bawat mangyayari. Popular noon sa mga tao ang bigkasan ng tula”. Karaniwan ding may tugma at sukat. talahiban. Louie Jon A. Sanchez at Giancarlo Lauro C. kapag nadadawit na ang sariling historikong danas ni Mangahas sa isang Cabiao. paglingap sa lungtiang paligid. may mga araw na madalas ang putukan at sagupaan sa aming bayan. Abrahan 243 . Ang matindi’y ang ilang linggong halos walang puknat na pagbomba ng mga eroplanong Hapones sa kagubatan ng Cabiao. hindi lamang ang kaniyang pagiging supling ng panahong pampanulaang inilarawan niya mismo bilang “tipong para bigkasin. Ngunit higit na tumitingkad halimbawa ang di iilang tanagang may papaloob na paguusisa sa sarili. at may pagtangi sa maliliit tulad ng mga hayop at kulisap. madaling mapuntirya. halos lahat ay lalabindalawahing pantig. supling din siya ng tila katahimikang madalas iugnay sa nayong kahit romantisado’y minumulto ng pambubulabog ng kasaysayan. Tandang-tanda ni Mangahas ang mga makapigil-hiningang tagpo ng Ikalawang Digmaang Pandaigdig. at palumpong.

” wika niya. nagsimulang magkainteres ako sa pakikinig sa kakaibang uri ng pagbigkas sa iba’t ibang okasyon. dito’y may pagapas. aking paraluman. Sa pangkabuuan. ako’y di mo paraluman.” nang mapakinggang binibigkas ito ng isang Huk—kasapi ng Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan. 1946. Naikuwento rin ito sa huntahang kanina’y binanggit. Nakaririnig din ako sa matatandang nagkukuwentuhan ng paminsan-minsang pagsipi nila ng mga saknong mula sa isang awit o korido. tuloy-tuloy siyang lumapit at halos paluhod na bumigkas ng humigit-kumulang. ang hanap mong laya—sa atin nang kamay. Lalo’t higit itong mamamalas sa mga eksperimental na tulang tulad ng binanggit nang “Ang Lihim na Iyan” na may angking salimuot sa pagpapahayag. “Hoy. lubos na paglaya pag ating nakamtan. May kahirapan ang tula dahil sa ipinahihiwatig nitong pamamaraan ng 244 Likhaan 6 • Interview / Panayam . “Paplosa ring sumagot ang babaeng may hawak na salakot sa kanang kamay. balagtasan. nagalugad ko na ang bundok at parang. ganito: “Narito ka pala. angkop sa lamayan.” Sa panahon din ng insurhensiya niya nakaengkuwentro ang “plosa. at nasa unang grado na ng elementarya. “Nagsimula sa pakikinig ang aking pagkahilig sa pagtula. ikaw. Inabutan nila roon ang ilang dalaga at binatang tila galing gumapas ng palay at nagpapahinga. “Nang makita ng nauunang Huk ang isang dalagang tila kakilala niya. “Noong ako’y pitong taon. Iyang palipad mo.Sa kabila ng mga ito. Pangahas sa pagpapahiwatig si Mangahas. hindi lamang ipinamamalas ang ganitong kakayahang pampanulaan sa mga tinipong tanaga. “Humihimig silang patungo sa ibayo ng makitid na sapang nalililiman ng malalagong punongkahoy. Nakapanood ako ng duplo.” Ang talang ito sa panayam ay maaaring ituring na isang mahusay na paliwanag hinggil sa isang napakaangat na katangian ng mga tula ni Mangahas sa Manlilikha: ang kakisigan at katiyakan sa paghawak ng anyo. at pabasa ng pasyon. may kasidhian ang kaniyang pagkabalot at pamamahay sa nibel ng pagkamatalinghaga. wala ritong patay.” Marikit na tagpo iyon na kumintal sa gunita ni Mangahas. ang nayon ding iyon ang nagpamulat sa kaniya na danasin ang paligid sa isang matulaing paraan. lalaki. lalo pang tatamis kung kapiling.

Abrahan 245 . Nabasa iyon ng isa ko pang kababata. na marahil ay dala ng kaniyang nakamulatang panitikan na sumusunod sa kahingian ng mga padron sa nayon.” Nasa una o ikalawang taon siya ng hay iskul nang “lalong nagkahugis sa aking isip at mata ang anyo ng tula. Sa ganitong mga kondisyon sumibol ang pagsulat ni Mangahas. na isa ngang katotohanan sa kaniyang minulan: gising na ang mga poong nakagapos. Jose Corazon de Jesus. Ang kasanayang ito at ang ritmikong kahusayan sa paghahanay ng tugma at tunog ay isa pang angat na katangian ng mga tula ng makata. babaligtarin niya ang palad ng pinaksang tila mababangis at nauulol na mga aso upang ilarawan ang tila makalipunang komentaryo hinggil sa buhaypiyudal. Sa tuwirang pagsasabi. na maaaring kumatawan sa kapangyarihan ng mga naunang nilalang (maaari kaya’y tradisyon?). na isa pang aspekto ng anyo. Sanchez at Giancarlo Lauro C. “Di nagtagal. at Amado Hernandez. binago ang pangalan Louie Jon A. isinasalalay ni Mangahas ang katiyakan sa kaniyang pagsasaknong ng mga aanimin at lalabindalawahing taludtod. Simpleng liham iyon ng paghanga na may hiwatig ng pagmamahal. Ngunit balot ng hiwaga ang lilim. “Nang ako’y dose anyos. hiningi.” aniya. Sa ganitong kasiguruhan. ngunit mahigpit ang hawak niya sa mga anyo at pag-aanyong nakamihasnan at natututuhan. Mahusay magpagitaw ng siste si Mangahas at napakadulas ng kaniyang naratolohiya. may pasak sa bibig at dugu-duguan. animo’y inilalarawan ang isang uri ng pagpili. ang pagpili ng “pag-uugat” sa isang lilim.” Nabasa niya sa antolohiyang Diwang Kayumanggi ang mga akda nina Balagtas. at pagsasaayos sa tugmaang may padrong abaabba. at dinala niya itong trademark sa mga sumunod na akda. na naging matitibay na haligi ng kaniyang pagtuklas sa sariling tinig bilang makata. “nakasulat ako ng ilang saknong sa isang liham na pagawa o pakiusap sa akin ng isang medyo nakatatandang kababata. Pangahas din si Mangahas sa kaniyang pagsasakataga.pagdulog—nanunulay agad sa diskursibo at matayutay. kinopya. Makikita rin ito sa tula niyang “Mga Aso sa Malaking Bahay” na gumamit sa sukat na lalabindalawahin at tugmaang salitan (ababab). sa kahuli-hulihan. pasan ng anino’t gagawing pulutan. durog ang korona ng santa sa sulok— kahon ni Pandora ang kabang nabuksan! ang mga nilangong aso’y nakatulog. sa kauna-unahang pagkakataon ay nakasulat ako ng deretsong tula na may pamagat na “Kay ___” Huwag ko na lang buuin.

makikitang ang panulaan ni Mangahas ay naging pagkukrus din ng tradisyong nag-uugat sa kaniyang poetikong kamulatan at ng kaniyang engkuwentro sa salimuot ng mga nagbabagong kaisipang nasagap niya sa pag-aaral sa lungsod.” isa pang tila pahimakas sa namamatay nang daluyang-tubigan (magugunita rin sa pagkakataong ito ang nobela ni Liwayway Arceo na may gayunding pamagat): “dusing. ang naliligalig na kaluluwa ng Lungsod ng Maynila na naging ikalawang daigdig ng kaniyang nabubuong kamalayan at tiyak na tumigatig sa marami niyang pananalig.” Tinapos ni Mangahas ang huling dalawang taon niya sa hay iskul sa lungsod sa tulong ng isang tiyahin sa Tondo. Sinestetiko ang pagsasanib niya ng himig at bisyon na tumitingin sa obhetong nilulunggati—ang sinekdokeng “mga binting pang-eskolta. Eliot ang dalawa sa mga makatang banyaga (na nakaimpluwensiya sa akin).” “Si Lorca dahil sa kaniyang musika at simbolismo. dusing ako sa pisngi mo ngayon—/akong salamina’t/ canal de la reina ng basal na noon. dahil sa kaniyang paggamit ng free verse at tonong kumbersasyonal. at halos ganito ring estratehiya ng pangungulila ang ginagawa ng tulang “Canal de la Reina. Pero di magtatagal. Si Eliot.” na tila sagisag ng naggagandahang dilag-ng-lungsod na dinidiyosa bagaman minamalas bilang kakatwa at nakaaaliw na nilalang ng daigdig na iyon ng sari-saring pagmamatayog at titulo. muling ginamit ni Mangahas ang kaniyang matalim na pagmamasid sa pagbaling. Sa tulang “Harana ng Mga Mata” halimbawa. sa kasong ito. kasalimbay ng pag-iral ng espiritu ng bayang Cabiao.” 246 Likhaan 6 • Interview / Panayam . “Sina Federico Garcia Lorca at T. Doon na niya ipinagpatuloy ang mga panimulang pagsusulat ng tula. may kaibang talab sa akin ang mga obra nina (Pablo) Neruda at (Nazim) Hikmet.” Sa mga halimbawang ito ng galaw ng kaniyang pangangahas. sa isang nagmamadaling lungsod ng pag-unlad at materyalismo. Panahon ng Pangangahas: Sa Kuko ng Lungsod Sa mga tula rin ni Mangahas sa Manlilikha./ ang hubad na gandang dangal ng panahon/ ay ngayong may saplot/sa ismong may rehas at tanod na poon. sa pagbabago ng aking kamalayang panlipunan at pampolitika. Paharana ang himig ng tulang-lungsod na ito.S. at ibinigay sa nililigawan—na mahilig daw sa tula. Kung sa kaniyang pagsandig sa mga tradisyonal na anyong Tagalog kapananabikan ang kaniyang muli at muling pagdukal sa katutubong bait. sa pagyakap naman niya sa lungsod at sa mga kabaguhang nabasa mula sa mga Kanluraning bigatin umigting ang pananalinghagang unti-unting naghunos bilang simboliko’t matalinghagang pagpapakiwari.

” maging ang “Bangon. bukod sa “Ang Lilim na Iyan. sa paglalarawan sa naging pagtalikod niya sa kaniyang naunang modernistang impluwensiya. ang “May Dugo ang Sinag na Kalis. Sa kaniyang ikalawang aklat. balot at mahiwaga. Awit. Abrahan 247 . Sa lungsod nabanaagan ni Mangahas ang marami pang posibilidad ng panulaang magiging supling ng panahon ng kaniyang pamamalagi sa Maynila. Louie Jon A. Sanchez at Giancarlo Lauro C. at higit sa lahat. na masasalamin sa isang tampok na tula sa Manlilikha.” “Harana ng mga Mata. Patunay ang pahayag na ito sa naging malalim na impluwensiya ng makatang Espanyol sa kaniyang pagtula. Larawan ng mga natutuhang pagpapaigting ang komplikasyong umiiral sa tulang ito.” “Awit Kay Dionysus. sa sulok na itong akin lamang at paunang pamana ng mga panahon ay lalong sumisilim ang mga ilaw. Sayaw. habang nagpipiging ang mga uod sa bangkay ng daigdig na hindi mailibing. iii). sinabi ni Mangahas. O Kaluluwa!. lalo kung tutunghan ang mga tulang “Awit.” Pinatunayan ni Mangahas ang kaniyang kabihasaan sa ganitong paaralang pampoetika sa pagrerenda ng mga imahen at pagsasakatagang nagpapadama ng sari-saring kontradiksiyong may nakamamanghang hatid na danaspagbasa: nagdudumugo ang sinag na kalis ng arkanghel habang napipipi ang mga halakhak. Bangon. na “nakangising minumura ko si Lorca” (1971. Mga Baylan. Abadilla!” na “tulang alaala” ng makata “Sa Pagkaratay ng Makata-Kritiko sa Veterans Memorial Hospital Dahil sa Kanyang Abadillang Pagmamahal sa Kuwatro-Kantos ng Palanca. Maiisip na ang maalindog na “musika at simbolismong” ito ay impluwensiyang handog sa kaniya ni Lorca.” Pawang mahihimigan sa mga tulang ito ang diwang Lorca na mapaglaro. at.Ilang tula mula sa Manlilikha.” “Sayaw.” at “Canal de la Reina” ang naglalaman ng kaledad ng “musika at simbolismong” binabanggit ni Mangahas hinggil sa kaniyang panulat. Samantalang namamayani pa rin ang impluwensiya nina Balagtas. lalong nasasaid at nagkakabasag ang mga prasko ng dugong walang tapon. ang Mga Duguang Plakard.

Ngunit hindi lamang si Lorca ang binasa ni Mangahas. na sinikap itanghal hindi lamang sa katauhan ni J. Eliot.” maging ang unti-unting pagkawala ng “matulaing Tagalog” at pamamayani ng “dahop o bulgar” na pagsasakatagang “kolokyal kundi man balbal. naging muling usapin ang pamumuna ng matatanda hinggil sa “panghihiram o paggagad sa mga modelong makatang Kanluranin.Abadilla. at Amado V. himig kalye. ang nagtulak sa panulaan ng makata sa isang uri ng sining na sa una’y nagnanasa yatang kumatawan sa isang pragmentadong kamalayan na matris ng halos watak-watak na imaheng sinisikap bigyan ng isahang kaanyuan ng makata.” pagkukuwento pa ni Almario. na nang mga panahong nasa hay iskul ang makata’y kontrobersiyal ang pagkakapiit (nailathala ang pinakamahalagang aklat ni Hernandez na Isang Dipang Langit bandang 1960). iii). Ang tatlong makatang banyagang ito—sina Lorca. Sa UE Dawn sumilang ang engkuwentro ng tatlong makata. Alfred Prufrock. Tulad ng mga kapanahon. Jose Corazon de Jesus. ang pumapasok na mga bagong ideang “modernista” mulang Kanluran. naging daan ang Dawn para sa paglikha at pangangahas ng mga kabataang manunulat. Hernandez. “Ang laki ng circulation ng Dawn noon. Panahon iyon ng pagpapasiklaban ng mga pahayagang pangmagaaral. at kapuwa nag-aabangan ang mga staffer ng mga student organ sa bawat labas ng kanilang mga pahayagan. kundi pati na rin sa eklektikong nananaghoy sa ilang ng ‘The Waste Land’. umiiral ang mga ganitong halos malapanaginip na pangitain.” Ibang kaso pa ang kay Salvatore Quasimodo. ang pahayagang pangmag-aaral ng nasabing pamantasan. Ang tagpuan ng makasaysayang pangkatan ay ang UE.” at mali “ang gamit ng idioma. na wika ni Mangahas ay “nakangising minumura ni Bert (Antonio)” (1971. at Quasimodo—ang tila magsisilbing bigkis sa maalamat na pagkikita at pagkakakila-kilala ng titingalaing tungkong-bato ng makabagong panulaang Tagalog noon. kahungkagan ng buhay. S. wika pa nga niya: “naririyan din si T. na kanlungan ng The Dawn. nakaabot pa sa San Miguel ang isang sipi sa nanay ko. Sa unti-unting pagkaparam ng hawak ng Balagtasismo sa larang ng pagtula noong mga panahong iyon. at sa sobrang dami ng kopyang mababasa. Pinuna rin ng mga naunang taliba ang 248 Likhaan 6 • Interview / Panayam . at kawalan ng isahang narasyon. at ang paghuhunos ng panahon patungo sa mas malalim na pakikisangkot ng madla dahil sa sari-saring isyung pangkapayapaan sa daigdig. bilang pambalot ng kung ano galing sa palengke. na nang simula’y nagagabayan lamang ng magkakabukod na mithiing tumula. sa mga baladang Espanyol na siyang minumulang himig ni Lorca. sa huntahang nabanggit. Eliot at ang sari-saring pamumroblema niya hinggil sa katandaan.

Ipinakilala ko siya kay Rio Louie Jon A. mag-enroll lang muna ako sa graduate school. at mapilitang isa roon ay lagyan ko ng ibang byline. lalo na nang magkrus na ang mga landas nila nina Alma at Antonio. 255). Bilang editor ng pahinang Pilipino ay pumipili ako ng ilalabas mula sa mga kontribusyong artikulo. parang maaari nating mahinuha ang makulay na tagpong maaaring napanood doon. pinakamalaki at pinakaaktibong organisasyong pangkultura sa University of the East nang panahong iyon. Ang problema. si Rio ang tumayong hari. “Roger. Halika” ni Virgilio S. “Baka may magustuhan ka. ngunit wala akong magustuhan kahit isa.” dagdag pa niyang kuwento.” “Isang araw. Almario na ginamitan niya ng sagisag na Rio Alma. Noo’y nagtuturo na sa San Miguel si Rio at lumuluwas na lang minsan sa isang linggo para sa kanyang MA sa UE.” Isang pampanitikang huntahan iyon. “sa isang halalan para sa pamunuan ng Diwa ng Silangan. ngunit wala pang kapalit na editor. lahat—lyamado! Kaya sa isang isyu ng Agosto nang taong iyon. baka may magustuhan ka.” Sa pagkakataong iyon darating si Alma. “Sa isang dupluhang itinanghal ng organisasyon sa auditorium ng unibersidad.” “Dikong!” nakangiting bati sa kaniya ng pinsan. “Pakikilatisan.” Pagpapatuloy niya. “Ako’y nagtila tahor. Itinula nila ang kanilang bisyon sa wika ng kanilang kasalukuyan. at nasabihan na ng College of Arts and Sciences na kukunin akong instruktor. kaunting usapan at oryentasyon. Pakiramdam ko.” “Ako’y nagtila alahero.” Tag-araw naman ng 1965 nang makatagpo ni Mangahas sa UE ang kaniyang nakababatang pinsang si Antonio. at binigyang-anyo ang isang naghuhunos na panulaan. una kong isinabong ang tulang “Setyembre. Unang nagkakilala sina Mangahas at Alma noong 1963. na tulad noon ni Alma ay may dala ring mga tula. opisyal na pahayagang pang-estudyante ng UE. Sanchez at Giancarlo Lauro C. Abrahan 249 . Dagdag pang kuwento: “Tapós na ako ng AB Pilipino. Sinipat-sipat ko at sinalat-salat ang mga kaliskis at tahid ng mga tulang-manok. “isang araw ay nakatayo ako sa may pintuan ng Dawn nang mapansin kong dumarating at lumalapit sa akin si Bert Antonio. si Bert ang aking ipinalit sa aking puwesto. Nagsisikip sa mga kontribusyon ang isang drawer.” nakangiting bati ng makatang may kilik na mga tula. at sa kuwento ni Mangahas sa email. Pagkaraan ng ilang araw. “nagbabasa ako sa opisina ng Dawn.“kalabuan ng pahayag at labis na mapanariling sagisag na totoong pumugto sa popular na pang-akit ng tula” (Almario 1984. nakarehistro na nga ako at magtuturo na. at ako ang belyakong mangingibig ng isang belyaka. Ayokong maulit na may isyung dalawa ang aking artikulo.” wika ng bagong kaibigan. Hindi ito inalintana ng mga tulad ni Mangahas. De kalidad na mga kilates.

“Ang “ikalawang bugso” … ng modernismo sa tulang Filipino noong dekada ’60 sa loob at labas ng UE ay isang bunga ng malaking pagbabagong panlipunan at pampolitika sa loob at labas ng ating bansa. Mulang US. Supling ni Elynia Mabanglo. sampu ng kanilang mga kasabayan sa “ikalawang bugso ng modernistang pagtula. at sentimentalismo. 20 Tula at Hagkis ng Talahib ni Lamberto E. mga gasgas na idyoma. ni Abadilla. kaming tatlo’y madalas nang makitang magkakasama sa loob at labas ng kampus. “Pagkakapare-pareho rin ng mga natitipuhang manunulat o akda at ang magkakasunod na pamumuno namin sa pinakaaktibong organisasyong pangmanunulat sa kampus nang panahong iyon—ang KADIPAN. “Pare-parehong hilig sa literatura. Alab ni Edgardo Maranan.” wika ni Mangahas. at pagkatig sa nasyonalismo. Jr.” ang naging saligang pananalig ng tatlo sa kanilang barkadahan bilang mga makata. Maliwalu at Mayo Uno ni E.” na mistulang naghubad bigla sa nakamihasnang ringal ng poetikong kaakuhang gamitin noon.” gunita pa ni Mangahas. baon di lamang ang mga bagong natutuhan. “Si Rio ang nag-ala-AGA (Abadilla) sa aming grupo sa pagiging ikonoklasta—mapambuwag na kritiko ng kumbensiyonalismo o Balagtasismo sa hanay ng katandaan at maging sa hanay ng kabataang makata. partikular sa klasiko at modernong panulaan. “Hindi siya (si Abadilla) sinabayan o sinundan ng kaniyang mga kasamang makata sa Kapisanang Panitikan. hindi talaga nakatakas sa tugma at sukat.” dagdag pa ni Mangahas. tuluyan nilang yayanigin ang panulaan.” Sa kanilang panahon. “Ang ilan namang nagtangka ay sa biswal na porma lamang. ang “malalaking pagbabagong iyon na nakapaghasik ng mapagpalayang espiritu ng aktibismo. Antonio. ngunit lalo’t higit. partikular sa panulaan. Walang kasinlakas na kilusang masa o mga organisasyong magiging kapanabay o tagapagtaguyod sana ng kilusang modernismo sa literatura. at mula noon. ang kabatiran sa katutubong kalinangan. nasyonalismo. San Juan. Peregrinasyon. at nakilala siya sa mapanghamong asta ng “Ako ang Daigdig. at iba pa. Galian ng samahang Galian ng Arte at Tula (GAT). at Doktrinang Anakpawis ni Rio Alma.” Ayon kay Mangahas. dinala ni Abadilla ang espiritung mapagpalaya sa Balagtasistang berso. at sabihin pa—hilig sa beer. Ilang pangunahin dito ang Makinasyon. At ayon pa sa makata.minsang lumuwas ito.” Tagapaghawang maituturing si Abadilla na tutupdin ng tatlo. at modernismo ang tila nagsisilbing isang sinapupunan ng mga makabago’t sulong na antolohiya ng mga tulang kapanahon o kasunod ng Manlilikha.” pagtatapos niya. Ang pagkakaibigang ito ang nagpasinaya sa pagtupad sa mga pangako ng modernistang balangkas na ipinakilala nitong una. bandang dekada ’30. “Nakasustini 250 Likhaan 6 • Interview / Panayam .

marami’y mga klasiko at makabago—may matataas na kalidad.” tila inalayan ni Mangahas ng isang apatang kuwarteto (ala Eliot) ang kaniyang sarili at sarili-bilang-bansa. inihanay ng makata sa naunang nabanggit na talaan ng mga magkakapanahon ang sarili niyang aklat na Mga Duguang Plakard. na samantalang bitbit pa rin ang maraming artistikong katangian ng mga unang nalathalang tula niya’y tumatalikod na sa naunang pinatatag at pinaniwalaang estetika. hindi lamang dahil sa napapanahong pamamahayag. may ilang intelektuwal din sa pamantasan at mga mulat na personahe ang humubog sa kaniyang mithing makisangkot gamit ang kaniyang sining. ang aming pagbabago sa estetika ay kasabay ng pag-unlad ng aming kamalayang panlipunan.” pagninilay pa ng makata. Sanchez at Giancarlo Lauro C. Ang mga pangyayaring pandaigdig noon ang naging matalab na impetus para sa paghuhunos ng kamalayan ng alab ng mga makata ang rebolusyonaryong panahon at mapagpalayang impluwensiya ng kilusang masa.” “Dalit Kay Sarhento Gameng. partikular sa panulaan. Sa panayam. pampolitika.” Kay Mangahas. na magiging tagapamuno ng mga pagkilos laban sa paniniil ng pamahalaang Marcos. at pangkasaysayan.” paliwanag pa ni Mangahas. Pag-alis nila’y naiiwan nila ang mga rasyong libro. Isang buhay-unibersidad na hindi lamang dinadalaw ng ligalig ng nakaumang na pagdating ng isang diktador ang naging uniberso ng tatlo.” “Mga Duguang Plakard. Abrahan 251 .” at “Bahay-bahayan. “Dahil sa digmaan sa Vietnam. Sa panahong ito ng malaganap na “Pilipinismo” at parlamento sa kalye dala ng kawalangtiwala sa tiwaling pamahalaan. Apat lamang ang tulang nakapalaman sa nalathalang aklat— ngunit matitipunong mga tula ito.” wika ni Mangahas. “Sa obserbasyon ko. “Binago ng mga bangketa ng Azcarraga (Recto ngayon) at Avenida Rizal ang aking pananaw at panlasa sa literatura. lalo na ng mga nagsisipag-aral noon. Lumitaw din sa panahong ito ang kilusang Kabataang Makabayan. at nabubulubod sa mga bangketa sa dakong university belt at downtown ng Maynila. Tuluyang binago ng kasaysayan ang tenor ng makatang nagpapakilala ng isang “banyuhay” sa Mga Duguang Louie Jon A. tulad ng tatlong makata. Sa mga tulang “Sa Pamumulaklak ng mga Diliwariw. naging maalab na liwanag ang panitikan at kultura sa nagbabadyang dilim ng mga susunod na taon. Higit na magiit sa panulaang kaniyang inihapag sa mga tulang ito ang tunay na kompleksidad ng buhay ng tao sa isang daigdig at panahong nagpupumilit salubungin ang kabaguhan ngunit naagnas naman sa sarili niyang kabulukan. kundi sa nakamamanghang pagbaling ng makata sa mahahabang anyo. maraming sundalong Amerikano ang nahihimpil sa Clark at Subic.

Ngunit higit na mahaba at masalimuot ang dalawang huling tula ni Mangahas sa kalipunan. Ngunit halatang ang mga gunita ng imahen ng kabukira’y totoong nailayo na sa persona. Kina Edgardo Reyes at Rogelio Sikat nakatutok ang mga alusyon sa tulang “Sarhento Gameng. diyalektikong pagsulong sa huling obra ng isang realistang anakpawis” (1971. Sa “Sa Pamumulaklak.” pinarurunggitan kaagad si Eliot at ang malupit niyang Abril upang tila balik-balikan ang malaong inaasam na pastoral. ang aming gunita’y mga mariposang darating na dala’y dalit sa mga taludtod.” Binubuo ng labinlimang bahagi ang sa una. i). Kamangha-mangha ang mga tulang itinanghal ni Mangahas sa manipis na aklat na ito. Mula sa unang obrang kamamalasan ng tanong-retorikal na indisisyon ng isang petiburges. na niyayaya ang irog na humimpil muna upang danasin ang kagandahan ng rural na paligid. nagtapos sa natatanging musika ang tila sonatang niligalig ng sari-saring pagkasawi: Amihan. damo ma’y kapiling ng liryong susupling sa kanyang alabok. mapapansin ang proseso ng banyuhay tungo sa pagkakaroon ng radikal.” at sa pahimakas ng persona. na sa pamantayan ng kasalukuyang panahon ay maaaring mapailalim sa kategoryang chapbook. Darating ang araw. ang “Mga Duguang Plakard” at “Bahay-Bahayan. na siyang kumakatawan marahil sa mabigat na pagdidili ng makata hinggil sa mga nakababagabag na pangyayari 252 Likhaan 6 • Interview / Panayam . ihatid ang pakpak ng maya sa puntod. Ngunit hindi mapasusubalian ang kaniyang kahusayan sa paglalantad ng mga kabuluka’t bagabag ng kaniyang panahon. na kapapansinan ng simbolikong pagpapadama ng nagbabadyang karahasan at kamatayan sa lungsod na lambak ng luha. mga tagulaylay ng mga liwanag na may gamugamong hindi sinasaklot. May kausap ang persona na parang kahimig ni Prufrock. Ngunit kaibang-kaiba ang tinig ng “Sa Pamumulaklak” sa isang banda: ito’y mistulang malay sa pagkakalayo kaya nga nagtatanong kung “alin/ang sa mga paa ko’y sa isip babaunin:/ tinik o halimuyak ng mga diliwariw?” May gayon ding hiwaga ang pagdadalit ni Mangahas sa isang Sarhento Gameng sa sumunod na tula sa koleksiyon.Plakard: “Sa pamamagitan ng apat na tulang kasama sa munting-aklat na ito ay nais kong ipakita ang ilang halimbawa ng mga tulang nasulat sa huling hati ng nakalipas na dekada lalo na sa huling tinampukan ng madudugo’t makasaysayang demonstrasyon. at maging ng mas nauna pang si Christopher Marlowe.

sa kaniyang paligid. sapagkat may buwang sasaklob/sa mga duguang plakard. dila ninyo’y may liwanag. 1970 sa Tulay ng Mendiola. Ang tinatagulaylay ng persona sa una’t huli’y ang patuloy na pag-iral ng kaapihan.” ang mahabang tula ay hindi lamang panambitan para sa mga nasawi. Hindi ko na lilinawin. Sa aki’y ang sa tao’t kahubog ng sa Diyos. “Hindi na maiiwasan ang paglalarawan ng mga kaguluhan at bagabag sa lipunan nang panahong iyon. sa inyo nahabilin.” gunita pa ni Mangahas hinggil sa Louie Jon A. Sa batalan o kubeta.” Tinunton ni Mangahas ang mga kasaysayan ng kasawiang kaniyang pinamimighatian sa pamamagitan ng pagtalunton sa kalye ng Mendiola bilang espasyo ng pakikisangkot. Maaaring buhay ang kapalit ng pakikisangkot na ito.” na gagalawan ng mga tauhang kailangang gisingin ang malay at diwa para kumilos at maging gising sa panahon ng ligalig. Sanchez at Giancarlo Lauro C. Abrahan 253 .” panimula ng tula. at tiyak namang batid iyon ng mga nasawi. tila magbabalik-bayan ang isang persona upang muling buuin—upang manapa’y baklasin din—ang isang “bahay-bahayan. At ito’y pakinggan ng lahat: Nasa inyong bunganga ang dila ng unggoy. sugatang alaala. mahihiwatigan sa mga taludtod ng tula ang anti-imperyalistang tuligsa ng makata sa malawakang kulturang kolonyal at piyudal na laganap sa lipunan. at nagsisilbing akmang conceit ang duguang plakard bilang sagisag ng sakripisyo para sa paninindigan. na paghamon sa mga naghaharing ahensiya ng paniniiil sa lipunan. lalo’t higit. Araw ng dila ko bawat salas. ang lahat ay salas sa akin. Mistulang naisiwalat nang lahat ng persona sa kabuuan ng koleksiyon ang mga dapat mabatid. at sa huling tula. “Isang kasaysayan sa loob ng mga kasaysayan. Ang sining ng unggoy. “Bawat plakard ng dugo’y isang kasaysayan. hinihikayat niya ang nakikinig sa wari’y binalikang bayang iyon na magsipaghanda’t maging saksi sa mga darating na unos sa kasaysayan. Sa mistulang propetikong himig./may buwan pang magsusuklob ng bungo/ sa Tulay ng Mendiola!/may buwan pang magsusuklob ng bungo sa Tulay ng Mendiola!” Matapos ang mga pagkasawi. isa itong panaghoy para sa rimarim na dalawang taon lamang ang lilipas ay sasagpangin na ang buong bayan. Pagtatapos ng tula: “Sapagkat. Bilang pagpupugay “para sa mga rebolusyonaryong demonstrador na nabuwal sa karimlan ng Enero 30./Mga kasaysayan sa loob ng isang kasaysayan.

nilakipan niya ang mga tula ng kritika.” “Naramdaman ko na lamang na tatapatan ko ng mahahabang tula ang gayong makabuluhang mga pangyayari. Almario. At ang mga pagsusuring iyon na gumamit ng iba’t ibang napapanahong lente ang nagpook kay Mangahas bilang isang mahalagang makata ng kaniyang panahon. Gamit ang “bagong estetika at paglalantad ng napapanahong mga isyu sa pamamagitan ng simbolismo. tagapagtala ng ipinahihiwatig ng bawat galaw nito.pagkakasulat ng Mga Duguang Plakard.” Ipinasuri ni Mangahas ang bawat tula niya sa apat na kasabayang kritiko—kina San Juan. ang halos lahat ng makinarya ng elehiyang pastoral na palasak sa panitikang kanluranin. Ricarte. ipinagdiwang na naman ni Mangahas ang paradoksikong gawi ng kalikasan … At kaipala. sa ganitong kaselang pandama’t masasal na kabaguhan sa pagsasataludtod ng karanasan pinatutunayan ni Mangahas na isa siya sa masasabing diliwariw na namumukadkad sa tinatag-araw pang Panulaang Pilipino” (Mangahas 1970. tila dumadaloy na sa aking dugo at kamalayan ang pangangailangang pakikisangkot sa kilusang makamasa. Si Almario ay may naging ganitong pagbasa sa “Sa Pamumulaklak”: “At minsan pa. May ganito namang pagtatasa si San Juan sa “Mga Duguang Plakard”: “Makikita sa tula ni Mangahas ang litaw na balangkas ng elehiya: pag-uulit-ulit. “nakita ko sa aking isip ang ilang alusyon sa ilang muhon ng ating panitikan at kasaysayan. at tagapagbuo ng samotsaring diwa upang malubos ang pagkakaunawa ng tao sa sariling karanasan at sa karanasan ng kanyang kapwa” (30). na may nasang pukawin ang mambabasa at pag-isipin ang madla hinggil sa kalagayan ng pagkaluoy ng marami sa lipunan. ang “Sarhento Gameng” naman ay may “malalim” na “kabatirang naganap sa pagninilay ng makata sa pagkamatay ng isang alagad ng batas. at gurong kasapi sa KAGUMA (Katipunan ng mga Gurong Makabayan). “Bilang kasaping tagapagtatag ng PAKSA (Panulat Para sa Kaunlaran ng Sambayanan). upang aniya’y “magabayan ang mambabasa sa makabagong estetika. Lumbera. Para naman kay Lumbera. pagtatanong at panawagan—samakatwid. at gayundin—makatulong sa pagpapasigla ng kritisismo sa panulaan nang panahong iyon. Tinakdaan ang bawat isang kritiko ng kani-kaniyang babasahing tula.” Kinasangkapan ng makata ang mahahabang anyo dahil aniya. paggibik. Maaaring ang payak na kumbensiyong iyan ang nakapagdulog ng tumpak na hugis o porma sa nilalamang karanasan. Walang eksperimental 254 Likhaan 6 • Interview / Panayam .” ganap na hinarap ni Mangahas ang pagpapaksa sa lipunan. mga imaheng pastoral. 18). At sa pagsasakatuparan nito.. Jr. Ang pagpaslang kay Gameng ay ginawang okasyon upang masuri ng makata ang kanyang misyon bilang tagapagmasid sa dula ng buhay.” wika pa niya. at Pedro L.

kundi ng iba pang mga kaalyansang kapisanang progresibo at rebolusyonaryo. ang larawan ng karahasan at kapahamakan na taglay ng sinundang dalawa ring taludtod ay hinalinhan ng larawan ng pag-ibig at kapayapaan. nang hindi nakasalig sa lumang batayan—ito’y kilalang prinsipyo” (45). ipinook niya ang panulat sa mahigpit na pangangailangan ng bayan. Mabini. naranasan kong lumahok sa mga rali at demonstrasyon. sapagkat katotohanang ang pagbabago ay laging kasunod ng kapahamakan. Tulad ng marami sa kaniyang hanay. Itinulak din ng pakikisangkot sa tula si Mangahas upang gawin ang mas kongkretong pagsulong sa anumang bagay. pinagbubuwisan ng buhay” (60). Gayunman. Abrahan 255 . nasa lahat ng panig ang labanang dapat kasangkutan. komisyoner ng National Historical Commission of the Philippines). at ang maging manunulat ay isang mahalagang politikal na tungkulin. Pinapasok niya ang linya ng “para kanino. M. Bonifacio. “tatlong buwan lang pagkaraang kaming dalawa’y kasama ng ilan pang propesor na nasummarily dismissed ng UE kaugnay ng PD 1081. Panahon ng Pagbubuo: Sa Kandungan ng Sigwa “Pang-isang libro ’yan. at iba pang mga bayani natin. a!” biro ni Mangahas. hindi lamang ng kinaaanibang organisasyon. sa dilim at lagim ng isang kulungan. Walang pagkakasalungatan dito. di naglaon. ang paglinis at katubusan ay kasunod ng paghihirap at pagpapakasakit.” Lumalim ang kahulugan ng panulat sa mga panahong iyon sapagkat nagkaroon ng mukha ang isang kalaban.” Isa sa mga naging unang hakbang ng pamahalaang Marcos ay patahimikin ang mga naging maiingay Louie Jon A. Ang kalayaan ay pinamumuhunan ng dugo. Tuluyang itinulak sa galaw ng pangangahas si Mangahas sa kasaysayang katatagpuin niya. kasama ang maybahay na si Fe Buenaventura (ngayo’y ang respetadong iskolar na si Fe Mangahas.H. Maging ang pagtuturo ko noon ng literatura ay naging linyado yata. nagsaliksik at nagbasa ako ng iba pang mga akda nina Rizal. Sanchez at Giancarlo Lauro C. Sa sariling kusa. isang kalabang handang supilin ang kalayaan ng mamamayan ano mang oras. Para sa mga nakikisangkot na manunulat na tulad ni Mangahas. sa dalawang huling taludtod. babala sa darating na kapahamakan. “Lumalahok din ako sa mga lingguhang ED o DG ng organisasyon. siyensiya o sining.” kuwento pa ng makata. nang maitanong sa kaniya ang mga gunita nang maaresto noong Enero 19. “Nang ako’y naging aktibista. del Pilar. Ganito naman ang naging pagtaya ni Ricarte sa “Bahay-bahayan”: “Ang tula ay nagwawakas sa babala.” ang panitikan sa kaniyang kamalayan at nagkaroon ng praktika ang kaniyang malikhaing paglilingkod. 1973.

“Nang ma-release ako noong 1974. 1973 nang inilipat si Mangahas sa Ipil Rehabilitation Center ng Fort Bonifacio. humina ang aking baga at puso dahil sa matagal na detensiyon. o magkasakit. “Binubuno naming mga detenido ang bawat araw sa iba’t ibang gawain para hindi kami maburyong. “Punong-puno ang seldang pinagdalhan sa akin.C. Pawang progresibo at makabayan ang mga tulang pinili namin at pinabigkas sa mga kalahok. seguridad at tatlong kasong legal.” “Laging problema ang pagkain. Ngunit sa dusang iyon na idinulot ng Batas Militar. isa sa kanila ang kinuryente pala sa bayag. at niromansang kung ano. paminsan-minsang nahihilo. manguluntoy. Tatlo o apat ang nakapila sa CR. pinansiya.” wika niya.” pagpapatuloy pa ni Mangahas. Nag-alab yata ang mga detenido. Nagkaroon ako ng arrythmia. Hindi naman ako makakuha ng regular na trabaho o makabalik sa pagtuturo dahil hindi mabigyan ng clearance ng NICA.” pakli pa niya. at may isang na-water cure.” dagdag pa ni Mangahas. tensiyon. “dumanas ako ng malalaking problema sa kalusugan. nagbúbulós dahil sa sirang rasyon.. “Isang gawaing kultural na nagawa namin nina Bien Lumbera at Lorie Barros ay ang pagtatanghal ng isang timpalak-bigkasan (na sa kung anong himala’y pinayagan ng guardhouse). Iba’t iba ang tawag ng mga detenido sa mga ulam: sinibak na gulay. “Pareho kaming dinala sa ISAFP (Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines).” “Sa buong panahong iyon. kinuryenteng bangus.” Mula nang maideklara ang Batas Militar hanggang sa pagsiklab ng EDSA Uno. at doon nga’y “dumanas ng sobrang pagkainip. at kung minsa’y bumabagsak.” Labinsiyam na buwang nakulong si Mangahas at pinalaya siya noong Agosto 13. Ang ilan nama’y bulagta sa kani-kanilang double-deck na taríma. Mahirap talagang detalyehin.” Aktibo pa noon sa kilusan ang kabiyak niyang si Fe. at parusang mental. naging kasalo niya ang dalawa sa mga pinakakilalang detenidong manunulat—sina Lumbera at Lorena Barros.” aniya. lalo nang maibunyag ang planong Batas Militar. “hindi ako nakadama ng lubos na kalayaan dahil umiiral pa rin ang Batas Militar sa sumunod na mahigit isang dekada. Q. at sumusuporta siya sa kilusan. Class D o C ang kanin. anim na bahay ang nalipatan ng pamilya Mangahas 256 Likhaan 6 • Interview / Panayam . taas-baba ang presyon ng dugo. mabaliw. Camp Aguinaldo. Ang mga manunulat at intelektuwal noon ay palagiang nangunguna sa publikong pagtutol. kaya “hindi naiwasang kami’y magpalipat-lipat ng bahay para sa aming seguridad. winaterkyur na manok at baboy. Lagi ring problema ang kapos at maruming kritiko ng kanilang pamamalakad. 1974.” Pebrero 9. Ayon sa aking palit-palit na mga doktor. ngunit halatang nainis o medyo naligalig ang OIC.

lalo’t higit ng mga personal na kasaysayan. sa tuwing uusisain siya hinggil sa maligamgam na pagtaya ng kasalukuyang henerasyon sa kabanata ng Batas Militar at sa rehimeng Marcos.” kuwento pa niya. nakikita niyang hindi naman talaga lubusang nakalilimot ang mismong mga taong nakaranas ng kawalan ng hustisya noong ipinatutupad pa ang Batas Militar. kung kailan kami nagsisimulang makahinga. saka nagkasakit—ng lymphoma—at yumao ang aming bugtong na anak. Isang mapagliming Rogelio Mangahas ang nasilayan ng madla sa kaniyang pagbabalik noong 2006 sa aklat na Gagamba sa Uhay.” “Ang lalong masakit. Talo ako sa unang dalawa. gayunma’y nakasasaklot ng sandali upang makapangitlog. mula noong 1975 hanggang 1990—labinlimang taon— kinaharap ko ang tatlong kaso: bigamy. Kung tutuusin. Hindi dagli-dagling mabubunot sa kanila ang tanim na kamulatan. “Maging ang marami sa mga buháy pang biktima ng Batas Militar ay waring gustong pansamantalang makalimot lamang sa isang napakadilim na panahon. Masakit gunitain. Ayoko nang detalyehin. Sanchez at Giancarlo Lauro C. Mahihinuha ring may pagkabagabag sa loob ni Mangahas. pagkamakabayan. “Ang totoo’y marami pang yugto ng ating kasaysayan ang dapat malaman at di dapat malimot ng sambayanan. at mamuhay nang normal.bago nakabalik sa kanilang bahay sa Sct.” Hindi kailanman naparam ng pagkakapiit ang kaniyang panulat (ang sabi nga niya’y “kabilang ako sa mga ibong madalas mabulabog sa pugad at larang. panalo sa pangatlo. tila naging bugtong na layon ni Mangahas na huwag lumimot at patuloy na linangin ang pagdama tungo sa higit na mahusay na pagpapanatili ng memorya. at pagtutol sa diktadura. Lungsod Quezon. na nagtrabahong editor ng mga teksbuk nang maraming taon matapos ang kaniyang pagkakapiit.” Sa huli. Patuloy na nilinang ng makata ang kaniyang pagtula at bagaman nanahimik nang malaon. Limbaga Street. kinasabikan ng publiko ang paghuhunos ng kaniyang tinig. Magiging isang understatement ang sabihing binago ng danas ng Batas Militar si Mangahas. Pinalakpakan ito sa Louie Jon A. “Ang masama pa. isa lamang ang salaysay niya sa daandaang pasyong ipinarinig na ng maraming biktima hinggil sa kabanatang iyon ng kasaysayan ng bansa.” paliwanag ni Mangahas. “Ang mga estasyon naman ng telebisyon ay walang tigil sa pagbirit ng mga programang pang-entertainment na madaling makapaghasik ng amnesia sa mga tao. makaawit”). Abrahan 257 . sila’y matagal-tagal ding “namatay” at gusto namang muling mabuhay.” Ngunit sa isang banda. at concubinage. annulment. “Isang dahilan ay ang teksbuk ng kasaysayan ng Pilipinas na hindi agad na-update at na-expand pagkaraan ng EDSA People Power.

Tila lumipas na ang bagabag sa mga haikung tinipon sa pinakahuling aklat. siyang maaaring pinakamahusay na tagasalin patungong Ingles ng kasalukuyang panahon. kakosa ko’y siil ng lamok. hinding-hindi nito tinatalikuran ang estetikong Hapones ng haiku. hindi na rin ito ang dinahas ngunit pangahas na tinig sa ilang ng lipunang sinikap salaminin ng Mga Duguang Plakard. at sa saling Ingles na tinupad ni Marne Kilates. at tagapagpadama ng mga imahen at pangitaing nakatanim sa pang-araw-araw na mga sandali. “Ang pagbaling ko sa haiku noong dekadang 2000 ay hindi noon lamang. Sa huli. “dahil sa kakaibang karanasan ko sa anyong ito. parang. na nagdiriwang sa paglipas ng mga panahon. puno ng dunong at kapanatagan: Bugbog. at mapanghamong pananaludtod sa Mga Duguang Plakard. sa anyo ng mga haiku. Iisiping tila nagbabalik sa paraiso ng kaniyang nayon si Mangahas sa pagtawag niya sa kariktan ng sapa. kahit sa isang haikung likha ng panahon ng kaniyang pagkakapiit. liwanag. “Pumili lamang ako sa mga haikung nasulat ko mula noong gitnang dako ng 1960 na habang nagsusulat ako ng tanaga ay nasasalitan ko ng haiku. at bagaman inanyuan na ito sa diwa ng ating wika. Ang intensidad ng buong epiko ay tila maaaring ilagay o madama sa isang haiku. Mula sa eksperimental na tinig sa Manlilikha.” pagbabahagi ni Mangahas. ibon. Lumipas ang panahon ng sumisikdong pangarap at mga mithiin at naririto na nga. patungong mapayapang paninindigan.National Book Awards nang maiuwi ang papuring “Best Poetry Collection” at “Best Translation” mula sa Manila Critics Circle.” Aniya. “tila buong damdaming ako’y nakaaawit at nakasasayaw habang nakatungtong sa isang dahon. damuhan. hinarap ni Mangahas ang publiko sa ikatlo niyang aklat ng mga haiku bilang isang mas matamang tagapagdama.” Mga haiku ang piniling likumin ng makata. Ngunit ang tumitingin sa aklat na ito. Dinagdagan ko lang ng isang seksiyon para sa aking yumaong anak. 258 Likhaan 6 • Interview / Panayam . na masasabing mga sandali rin ng paggunita sa kabila ng sagitsit ng kasaysayan. maipanunukalang nagkaroon talaga—higit sa paglipas—ng panibagong pagyuyugto sa kaniyang kamalayan. at tulog sa lapag. ay hindi na ang sariling binabalot ng mahiwagang sagisag at malapanaginip na pananalinghaga ng Manlilikha. mulang magalaw at tikom-kamaong pakikipagtunggali. ang naghahandog ng pagmalas sa daigdig. Mistulang nagkaroon ng sariling kabatiran si Mangahas matapos na daanin—sa kaniyang buhay at tula—ang maatikabong pakikipagsapalaran.

Louie Jon A. Sanchez at Giancarlo Lauro C. Abrahan 259 . Ang mapagliming si Mangahas sa gitna ng lungsod.Paglipas ng bagabag.

at tila ba bumabalik ito sa ahas ng sinaunang paraiso ng tukso.Napili ko naman si Marne dahil perpektong halimbawa ang salin niya ng mga piling tula ni Rio. Ang pagdatal ni Mangahas sa ganitong uri ng masidhing pagbaling. ng isang tila ba ritwal ng paghango ng makakain. May salaminan sa malay at sa munting tagpong iyon sa bukid na nakaaantig kaya’t kailangang humimpil. kundi upang igiit na naroroon na nga siya sa lupain ng kaniyang kabataan at gunita. xix). Pasuysoy ang balangkas nitong haiku na unti-unting inilalantad ang natuklasan habang tinutupad ang paggapas. dahil na rin sa kaniyang matimping anyo. Ganitong malay at himig ang mababasa sa title poem na Gagamba sa Uhay na hindi lamang nagninilay hinggil sa siklo ng tag-ani. Subalit naghunos na ito’t tila ba inaalayan ng elehiya ng makata sa panahong ito ang akasyang dati’y pinagliliwanag ng kalikasan. matapos ng malaong papalabas na pagsasakataga ay pagbabalon hindi lamang sa sarisari niyang karanasan nitong mga huling taon. Na naroroon pa rin siya. “Akasyang dati’y/ maalitaptap. bilot ang balang. pagbabago.” Napakarikit na pandiwa ng lingkis. Animo’y muling lumitaw ang mga primal na imahen. tiyak na naging danas din ng makata. hindi lamang upang pag-ugatin ang malay ng makata. kundi inaalingawngaw rin ang karunungan ng kalikasang may sarili mang karahasan ay likas na umiinog upang magpatuloy ang buhay: Lingkaw ko’y pigil: may gagamba sa uhay. nangangailangan ito ng masidhing pagpapadama gamit ang kongkretong imahen ng daigdig na dumaraan sa sari-saring paglipas. pinahinog. Gayunding uri ng pagninilay ang tinutupad ng mga persona sa iba’t ibang haiku ng aklat. na nagpapamalay sa maaari’y tagisang rural at urban. pag-usad. Katatagpuin din ng ganitong katikas at 260 Likhaan 6 • Interview / Panayam . tulad ng bilang 33. higit na pinabulas ang pananaw at pagdama sa mga bagay. lamang ay siya ang binago ng panahon. ngayo’y/ lingkis ng neon.” Mabuting pagtuunan ng pansin ang sinasabi ng tagasalin na si Kilates hinggil sa tila ba pagbabalik ni Mangahas sa panulaan sa pamamagitan ng paghahayag ng masasabing kaniyang “lihim” na buhay (Mangahas 2006. Ngunit buhay na buhay sa unang linya ang malay na nakahandang humimpil ano mang oras upang masdan ang isang katangi-tangi’t sagradong sandali ng likas na pagpuksa. kundi pagbabalon ding higit sa bait ng kaniyang minulan. at pinadunong sa bawat pamamaraan ng pagmalas sa mga ito. isa pa’y gusto ko ang kilates at sensibilidad ng kanyang tula at lengguwahe. May katangiang “malihim” ang haiku.

Masdan halimbawa ang bilang 91. giya ang kobra. ng mga pagdating at paglisan. na mabalintuna sa dalang paglalarawan: Laglag na hasmin.tutok na pagbaling ang mga ligaw na damo sa lungsod-riles sa bilang 53. Sa kaniyang katayuan ngayon bilang kabilang sa tungkong-kalan ng ikalawang bugso ng modernismo sa panulaang Tagalog. na makatatagpo ng makata ang isang squirrel at akma itong “kokodakan. kahit pa inilalarawan ang isang banyagang pagkagulat (tingnan ang bilang 228. at sa lupain ng bansang kinatutungtungan ngayon ng banyagang anyo ng haiku.” lalo ang bilang 220 na dinadalaw ng isang “paruparong dilaw” ang maybahay ng makata). Ganitong pag-unlad ang narating ni Mangahas sa pagtungtong ng kaniyang pagtula sa Gagamba sa Uhay. o pagpapanukala hinggil sa danas ng ilang biktima ng tsunami sa Indonesia noong 2004.” na masasabing isa nang Filipinismo ng pagkuha ng larawan). dadamputin ko’y aba— yakap ng uod. Sanchez at Giancarlo Lauro C. at pagdiriwang. Abrahan 261 . inihandog ni Mangahas sa kaniyang ikatlong aklat ang isang nakasasabik na tinig ng atensiyon na nakamit ng isang makatang supling ng kaniyang daigdig at panahon. ang bigat ng pagluluksa para sa pagyao ng anak (basahin ang serye ng mga haiku sa bahaging “Sugatang Punay. Nakapook sa kaniyang bayan ang pananaw. Kakatwa ang danas na muling naisalaysay ng makata hinggil dito: Balik sa pulo: Nilangoy nila’ng dagat. ng mga simula at wakas. Katangi-tangi ang mga haiku ni Mangahas hindi lamang sa kaniyang tila musmos na pagmalas sa lupain ng kaniyang paligid. pangungulila.” Ngunit ang pagiging kakatwa at nakamamangha ay patuloy na liligid sa mga haikung tila lalong nagiging malalim ang kabatiran hinggil sa mortalidad at mabilisang pagdaan ng kagandahan. na larawan din ng komplikadong tagpuan ng kalikasan at pag-unlad: “Mutha sa riles. Ang pagsinop sa matulaing danas sa pamamagitan ng haiku ay pananatiling nakaapak sa lupa. mahihiwatigan na Louie Jon A. Ganitong kaakmaan ng palagay na puno ng kadalisayan at pagtanggap sa mga siklo ng pagsilang at kamatayan./ sa pagragasa ng tren—/ kuminig-kinig. Sa di iilang pagkakataon ng paglulunggati. dahil na rin sa tradisyonal na kahingian nitong pumaksa hinggil sa nararanasang likas at manapa’y mga kabaguhang likha rin ng tao.

bagay. at matanaw-tanaw ko sa aking imahinasyon ang magkakaugnay na mga larawan bago ko masimulan—sa isip muna—ang pagsulat ng tula. malakas o napakalakas—na dapat mapantayan o mahigitan ng huling saknong. o idea ang dapat munang tuminag sa akin o kumintal sa aking isip.” Kaya’t hindi katakatakang ganito ang maging pagpapakahulugan niya sa katuturan ng tula: “Ang tula ay talinghagang inaawit ng puso at ng malikhaing imahinasyon. 262 Likhaan 6 • Interview / Panayam . madinig-dinig ko ang kakaibang daloy ng tinig.kay Mangahas ang malapaham na kaalaman at kabatiran hinggil sa sining ng pagtula. Sanchez.” Si Mangahas kasama ang makatang si Louie Jon A. tanggalin ang salitang dapat tanggalin. maliban kung haiku dahil hindi kailangan dito ang pamagat. “Isang partikular na pangyayari. Nang usisain siya hinggil sa kaniyang malikhaing karanasan. Hindi ako puwedeng magsulat ng teksto kung wala pang titulo. bumalik siya sa dalumat ng danas upang ibunyag ang isang komplikadong proseso ng pagpapagitaw ng matulaing pahayag. palitan ang salitang dapat palitan. Ang unang saknong ay kailangang may pangati o panggitla. “Sinisimulan ko ang tula sa pagbuo muna ng titulo.” Dagdag pa niya. at masusulat ko lang ito kung nadama at sumadiwa ko na ang buong lalamanin ng teksto. Inuulit-ulit ko ang pagbasa ng teksto upang matiyak na iyo’y may dinamikong progresyon—at hindi flat ang rendisyon. tao.” Ibinahagi pa niya ang ilang “sikreto” sa pagsulat ng tula: “Kalungkutang may kapayapaan sa isip ang epektibong gatong para sa aking paglikha.

Balagtasismo Versus Modernismo: Panulaang Tagalog sa Ika-20 Siglo. at patnugot. Revaluation 1997: Essays on Philippine Literature. nakaugat sa sariling kultura at nakababatid ng kasaysayan ng sariling bansa—at sa mahahalagang pangyayari sa iba’t ibang panig ng mundo—sa panahong ito ng globalisasyon na ang Filipinas ay nagsisikap umunlad at lubos na makalaya sa lantad o di-lantad na mga lambat ng mga banyagang kapangyarihan. naririto ang kaniyang palagay: “ang dinamiko at estetikong pamamaraan ng pagtula. 1997. Gagamba sa Uhay: Kalipunan ng mga Haiku. 1985. Sanchez at Giancarlo Lauro C. Lungsod Quezon: C&E Publishing. and Popular Culture.” Talasanggunian Almario. Lungsod Quezon: Ateneo de Manila University Press. malawak na kaalaman sa buhay. kamalayan sa lipunan. ———. nagpapahiwatig. ang makata naman ay nananalinghaga. 1967. Bienvenido. Cinema. Inc.” “Mahalagang matutuhan ng makata ang naturalesa at kahingian ng midyum o porma. Napakahalaga ring ang makata ay may malakas na hawak sa wika. Ang reporter ay nagbabalita.Hinggil naman sa kailangang matutuhan ng makata. Inc. Mangahas. Virgilio S. Maynila: University of Santo Tomas Publishing House. Maynila: KADIPAN. 1971. ———.” Paglalarawan pa niya. Rogelio G. Abrahan 263 .. Mga Duguang Plakard at Iba Pang Tula. nagpapabatid. tagapagtipon.” aniya. 2006. “kundi upang matutuhan ang sining o paraan ng pagtula at mapanday ang kakayahan sa pagsulat. Manlilikha: Mga Piling Tula 1961-1967. “Pumunta si Balagtas kay Huseng Sisiw hindi upang magpayaman ng bokabolaryo. Lumbera. koawtor. Louie Jon A. Lungsod Quezon: Manlapaz Publishing.




the long poems. Virgilio S. Manuel. de Ungria. Manila: UST Publishing House. the experimental poems. and is mother to Joey Ayala and Cynthia Alexander. France. originally published by the author in the popular magazine Liwayway. who assumes the role of both editor and guide. writer. Almario’s Pitong Bundok ng Haraya by the award-winning poet Marne Kilates. a graduate of UP. in the Basilica of St. Therese of the Child Jesus in Normandy. This is the English translation of National Artist for Literature Virgilio S. Alunan. and painter. Manila: UST Publishing House. Emilio Mar. Talamundi. is also a multimedia artist and an active member of the Davao Writers’ Guild. Ayala. Dr. fictionist. This critical anthology showcases over half a century’s worth of Tita Lacambra Ayala’s poetry. Both artists are UST alumni. Tales of the Spider Woman. Ayala Jr. Manila: UST Publishing House. This is Alunan’s latest collection which includes the suite of poems that won her the Palanca first prize in poetry in English for 2010. printmaker. This slim volume contains some of the author’s 144 pioneering poems for children. Baldemor is Paete’s shining star: painter. “curated” by fellow poet Ricardo M. Manila: UST Publishing House.. poet. 267 . Merlie M. Maya. The poems are divided into five suites: the short poems. It was intended to be the initial volume of a series of books to commemorate the poet’s lifework during the100th anniversary of his birth in 2003. Reuben Cañete. B Baldemor. Manila: UST Publishing House. sculptor. and love poetry. Alunan is now professor emeritus at the University of the Philippines Visayas where she has taught most of her life. Ayala. This collection features the distinguished artist’s rendering of some European cities that he has visited. including his epic mosaic mural People Power. European Journey of Discovery. She was married to the late Jose V. Tita Lacambra. Antonio.English A Almario. It also includes an erudite but accessible essay on the artist’s lifework by the art scholar and artist. the lyrics. Seven Mountains of the Imagination. and book illustrator.

Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press. This collection of twelve stories over the last decade includes “Things You Don’t Know” which won first prize for the short story in English in the 2008 Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature. Pasig City: Anvil Publishing. Cuizon. Pasig City: Anvil Publishing. religion. the frailty of the gaze. Babaeng Sugid: Cebu Stories. Mark Anthony. Cruz.. and the subjectivity of poetry. The five stories in this collection are risqué. This collection of eight stories. has won numerous awards for his fiction and 268 Likhaan 6 • Annotated Bibliography . Inc. Cecilia Manguerra. Pasig City: Anvil Publishing. and sexuality. Cayanan. Women in Literary Arts (WILA). the need to connect with another. a mix of fantasy. Ian Rosales. In his first collection of poetry. Six of the ten stories are flash fiction. the stories examine the Filipinos’ notions of self-identity. Pasig City: Anvil Publishing. Beautiful Accidents. A collection in English and in Cebuano by members of the country’s only women writers’ organization. motherhood. explores the tensions between the idyllic and the modern. Inc. and history. Erma. et al. Leonor Aureus. Santos. Vigan and Other Stories. Ben on Ben: Conversations with Bienvenido N. Manila: UST Publishing House. Pasig City: Anvil Publishing. Dalisay’s first book of poems written over almost thirty years contains mainly the author’s comic observations of Filipino life at home and overseas. and middle-class life. Pinoy Septych. queerness. Cayanan examines desire. Quezon City: Ateneo De Manila University Press. C Casocot. Isagani. Casocot. a member of the Carlos Palanca Hall of Fame. D Dalisay. Jose Jr. Father Solo and Other Stories for Adults. In her third collection of stories. exposing the absurdities of Philippine politics. Briscoe. Dalisay. This collection of interviews of “Mang Ben” by Briscoe gives readers an insight into Santos’s creative process and his views on literature. the past and the present. for De La Salle University by special agreement. Ian Rosales.Brainard. Heartbreak and Magic. horror. science fiction. Inc. Inc. the stories deal with the “women question” pertaining to marriage. Brainard draws inspiration from autobiographical and historical sources. Set in various times and places that intermingle in the narrative. eds. Narcissus.

English 269 . Fr. this novel casts a different light on the horrors of war by transplanting a colorful cast of characters from scenes of razed villages to a vast and unknown forest where they face the dangers of the jungle. Enriquez. and ironic culture that is the Philippines … embracing the monstrous amalgam of aesthetic concepts and influences”—in all the drunken chaos of their imagery. Currently director of the UP Institute of Creative Writing. As it unravels the horrors of the dictatorship. including his ministering to his parishioners in the wake of 9/11. Clairvoyance. it also provides rich insights into the Philippine south. where rock gods walk on water. family. like many of his contemporaries. swinging beats of their sound. A Filipino Priest’s New York Diaries. Prolific. Lourd Ernest H. he teaches at the University of the Philippines. a writing fellow of the UP National Writers’ Workshop. The poet has a BA in journalism from UST. and strange creatures. The Activist. Rock star De Veyra’s first novel traces Pinoy rock history while creating its own alternative mythos. celebrates “the damaged. Manila: UST Publishing House. Carlomar. Manila: UST Publishing House. The novel is a mind-opening. his second novel was shortlisted for the Man Asian. starvation and cannibalism. de Veyra. The Survivors. Carlomar Daoana’s second book of poems offers us meditations on what fellow poet J. Super Panalo Sounds! Manila: UST Publishing House. and community. much-awarded Enriquez weaves a Zamboangeño’s tale of love. Insectissimo! Manila: UST Publishing House. Daoana. Erno. Japanese atrocities. the pulsing. mind-altering cautionary tale of how high and how low you can go when you’re rocking and rolling. Daoana was associate editor of The Varsitarian and. fragmented. E Enriquez. The diary entries chronicle the author’s thirty years as a Filipino parish priest in New York and New Jersey. US air raids. This third book of poetry by Radioactive Sago Project’s front man. and their struggle for justice and freedom in our country under Martial Law. De Veyra. Manila: UST Publishing House. bands record mythical albums and then vanish from the scene. de Veyra. Enriquez has written ten books of fiction and currently resides in Cagayan de Oro City. Lourd Ernest H. Antonio.” turning our gaze beyond the mundane to the contemplation of the sublime. and kids from Projects 2-3 can change the world with music. Set in Zamboanga at the height of World War II. Neil Garcia calls the “varied personal and universal apparitions of the Spirit in a restively vanishing world. Antonio. Manila: UST Publishing House. Diaz.nonfiction.

Sylvia Mayuga. The book’s Epilogue is also a sketch of Hidalgo’s writing career and influences beginning with her mother. In words and in images. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press. published in 2007. Elsa Martinez Coscolluela.0”—which implies our varied connections to the primate world. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press. in dark and trying times. First published between 1966 and 1980. Garceau’s fourteen essays are loosely linked by a trio of tales involving apes—“Simianology 1.Toeing the line between morality and monstrosity. Hidalgo profiles six women writers of her own generation who are still writing: Merlie M. Inc. Inc. Marra PL Lanot.” “2. Vic H.” and “3.. ed. be human. Six Sketches of Filipino Women Writers. G Garceau. Hidalgo. and Rosario Cruz-Lucero. Alunan. and pop culture. Pasig City: Anvil Publishing. Inspired by young writers’ fondness for comics. Simianology. Forcing the Pace. Ken. published for De La Salle University. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press.0. Groyon. Barbara Gonzalez. 1957–1986. Inc. H Habulan. Ani. Pasig City: Anvil Publishing. J Javier. Scott. these stories reveal the struggle of the middle-class Filipino to come to terms with the cultural and geographical changes during that period. they learn what it means to love and forgive and ultimately. The Names and Faces of People. 270 Likhaan 6 • Annotated Bibliography . Carljoe. A Movement Divided: Philippine Communism. The Anvil Jose Rizal Reader on the Occasion of the Sesquicentennial of His Birth (1861–2001). Manila: C&E Publishing. savagery and survival. the narrative traces the attempts of the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (PKP) to rebuild itself until the two splits that occurred within the party that led to the formation of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in 1968 and the “Marxist-Leninist Group” split in 1972. video games. Ranging from the surreal and poetic to the comic and provocative. Javier’s thirteen stories chronicle the humorous tragedies of his generation. Geek Tragedies. Cristina Pantoja. F Fuller.0. this anthology celebrates the life and works of Jose Rizal through the eyes of both seasoned and young writers and artists. A sequel to Fuller’s earlier book.

“a response to and a record of the change[s] in the life of the city and province. Pasig City: Anvil Publishing.” Jose. Philippine Star columnist Lilles’s first book is part of the UST Publishing House’s Personal Chronicles series. Sylvestre. Manila: UST Publishing House. Pasig City: Anvil Publishing.” Joaquin. This anthology of nineteen stories by Davaoeños from the Philippines and abroad is. This collection gathers five short stories by National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin: “Three Generations.” “The Summer Solstice. ed. This collection gathers three short stories by National Artist Nick Joaquin: “The Mass of St. Edna Zapanta. The Summer Solstice and Other Stories. Quezon City: Ateneo De Manila University Press. Inc. Fortyfied. Nick.Joaquin. Dayrit includes a number of Dayrit’s drawings and paintings which document the way she created her stories. Dayrit. ed. Inc. M Manlapaz. Cecille Lopez. Lolita. Sionil. “chronicle both the familiar and the unsung. Light: Selected Stories by Joy T. Inc. May Day Eve and Other Stories. Her essays are humorous accounts of her attempts to understand the male psyche. This anthology of twenty-three essays by women writers deal with critical passages and turning points in their lives. F. Catholic and Emancipated. This posthumous collection of twenty-four stories by Joy T. Turning Points: Women in Transit. Nick.” and “The Order of Melkizedek.” “Doña Jerónima. English 271 . L Lacuesta.” “May Day Eve. Lopa-Macasaet.” “The Legend of the Dying Wanton. The Davao We Know. National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose sums up six decades of dedication to the creative imagination in these personal essays that may well also serve as an introduction to our country’s culture. Gleanings from a Life in Literature. Lolarga. part also of the same Personal Chronicles series. Manila: UST Publishing House. Rhona. Pasig City: Anvil Publishing. ed. Elizabeth. says Lacuesta. Pasig City: Anvil Publishing.” and “Guardia de Honor. Poet and veteran journalist Lolarga’s essays. Inc.” Lilles. proving that men are as interesting and riveting to women as women are to men. Manila: UST Publishing House.” as Rosario Garcellano puts it.

Connie J. and Juan C. This anthology aims to provide the college teacher and student a balanced combination of traditional and classic works from England and the United States. Maranan. First published in 2002 by Greenwood Press. Laya—interpret and represent these same tensions in their fiction. Pasig City: Anvil Publishing. Inc.Maraan. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press. recipes. and also considers the way three early and important Filipino writers—Paz Marquez Benitez. columns. Norma. Manila: UST Publishing House. 2nd edition. Jennifer M.. McMahon. Hazel M. she runs Media Masters. McFerson. letters. adolescence. Miraflor’s second novel is the “unauthorized biography” of one Ela Cruz. She analyzes how conflicts in American identity surface in the colonial regime’s use of American literature. a Singapore-based publishing company. marriage. The Secret of the Cave and Other Stories for Young Readers. 272 Likhaan 6 • Annotated Bibliography .” The author has a philosophy degree from UST. Maranan’s four stories bring young readers to experience a hopeful and idyllic past in Philippine history. this revised edition covers events after the election of President Corazon Aquino. Edgardo. Miraflor. The title story is a revised version of “The Artist of the Cave” which won second prize in the 2009 Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature (in the Short Story for Children category). and death. Pasig City: Anvil Publishing. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press. The novel also comprises the protagonist’s stories. photograph captions—a “stitching together [of ] the swatches of her life. Inc. Dead Stars: American and Philippine Literary Perspectives on the American Colonization of the Philippines. Mixed Blessing: The Impact of the American Colonial Experience on Politics and Society in the Philippines. She works in the Social Development Research Center of De La Salle University. Better Homes and Other Fictions. ed.. Julio F. ed. motherhood. A number of the new essays are more directly relevant to the main theme of the complex Philippines-US interaction. Manila: UST Publishing House. ed. McMahon discusses the reaction of anti-imperialist American writers to America’s role of colonizer. Together with her husband. Maraan’s second collection of short fiction and nonfiction affords an intimate view of the author’s clear and deceptively simple style which matches her clear-eyed vision of the world and the multiple roles she must play in it. told in interlocking parts—her childhood. was editor of the Varsitarian. and an instructor and journalist in Manila before moving to Singapore in the early ’70s. Mercado. Maximo Kalaw. Available Light. illness. Anthology of English and American Literature for College.

Vim. Archbishop of Manila. N Nadera. Body Haul. Danton. Yuson). “The body in this astonishing debut by Thomasian poet Alan Pastrana is of course the sensuousness of the verse form itself. Mary Jannette L. and representative. the anthology encourages students to develop an appreciation for wide and varied reading and a wholesome sense of values. Baquiran Jr. R Remoto. lively.” Pastrana has degrees in Music Literature and Piano Performance from the UST Conservatory of Music where he now teaches. Manila: UST Publishing House. This collection offers the poet’s “contemplation of peripheries—childhood. performing artist. Miro’s novel. domestic scenes. Pasig City: Anvil Publishing. Focused on Jaime Cardinal Sin. Rosario P. this biography analyzes the discourses of Sin over the period 1972 to 1992. Pasig City: Anvil Publishing. Coroza and designed by Mannet Villariba. now considered a masterpiece of twentieth-century Spanish literature.Miro. Inc. moreover. In the words of another poet. J. and Gay. Nem Singh. Edited by Romulo P. Inc. serious political and social commentary. [and] new places” (Alfred A. Our Father San Daniel. P Pastrana. Pinzon. Allan Justo. He has degrees from UP and the University of Valladolid in Spain. Gabriel. Remoto’s essays give readers an insightful view of the Philippines’s LGBT scene. Catholic. Anthology of World Literature for College. Neil Garcia. they are. Translator Sales teaches Spanish language and literature at the Instituto Cervantes. Kayumanggi. and the musical scores of Fer Edilo who set the poems to music. and Michael M. Translated from the original Spanish by Marlon Sales under the auspices of the Instituto Cervantes. English 273 . presents a glimpse into the colorful lives of various characters whose happiness depends on going against the prevailing mores of their time. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press. Manila: UST Publishing House. who figured prominently in the political life of the Philippines. and discusses themes that remain relevant to contemporary Philippine society. strange birds. Readable. Bright. this unusual volume contains the poetry of much-awarded poet. Manila: UST Publishing House. and UP professor Vim Nadera. The Rhetorics of Sin. varied.

Emmie G. Part of the Personal Chronicles series. Most are realistic. Anthropology. science fiction. Manila: UST Publishing House. This. and economics. the entertainment editor of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. but a number are in other fictional modes: fantasy. Dinah Roma. culled from Tan’s column. A Treat of 100 Short Stories. show how the study of culture might contribute to the building of a national identity. First published in 2009 by Duke University Press. Michael. Seriously. Velarde. Geographies of Light. Toledo’s third book of poetry. Toledo. was revised and reconstructed during his stay at Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio.S Sianturi. Gerardo. Manila: UST Publishing House. Published to mark De La Salle University’s centennial year. Tadiar’s book discusses a contemporary paradigm for understanding politics and globalization through close readings of poems. Show Biz. Torres. Pasig City: Anvil Publishing. Neferti X. The essays. and magic realism. and novels brought into conversation with scholarship in anthropology. Italy. ed. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press. but also records Velarde’s personal struggles and triumphs. Tan is a professor of anthropology and holds degrees in Veterinary Medicine. Joel M. Most of the poems were written in the wake of the disastrous typhoon Ondoy. “Pinoy Kasi” in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Ruins and Reconstructions: Poems. Thinking and Doing Culture. T Tadiar. The poet teaches at De La Salle University but is currently based in the National University of Singapore’s Asia Research Institute. proving that life is no less dramatic than art. this collection not only offers observations and insights into many celebrities on the big screen and on stage. Currently dean of UP College of Social Sciences and Philosophy. Torres gathers one hundred short stories by young students. V Velarde. Things Fall Away: Philippine Historical Experience and the Making of Globalization. in both English and Filipino. Tan. Manila: UST Publishing House. Sianturi’s second collection follows upon A Feast of Origins which won a National Book Award from the Manila Critics’ Circle. and Medical Anthropology. 274 Likhaan 6 • Annotated Bibliography . politics. short stories. Pasig City: Anvil Publishing for De La Salle University. sociology. is an alumna of UST and a veteran prize-winning journalist.

fellow poet Jim Pascual Agustin says: “Velasco’s words and images linger in the reader’s mind.Velasco. Roger Federer) and gripes (e. Manila: UST Publishing House.. Dalawang Pulgada at Tubig. this collection has all the qualities her critics and fans expect and appreciate. the book treats readers to Zafra’s preoccupations (e. Z Zafra. “Krip” Yuson. Y Yuson. respectively. Ninth in Zafra’s Twisted series. is culled from more than a decade’s production of creative nonfiction originally published in several print publications. W Woods. Pasig City: Anvil Publishing. four written by authors residing in the Philippines and four in the United States. Eight essays. Damon L.g. Emmanuel. Velarde has degrees in management engineering and business management from the Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press. Funny. four in English and four in Filipino. Of Velasco’s first book. as if a ghost had managed to enter one’s peripheral vision and would not leave nor completely show itself. Twisted 9.g. bad hotels). Manila: UST Publishing House. and consciousness. Inc.. it covers the whole range of the author’s multifaceted interests. ed. explore the concept of “bayan” or nation through various aspects of Philippine culture. This collection of seventy-five essays by much-awarded writer for all seasons. and self-deprecating at times. From Wilderness to Nation: Interrogating Bayan. Alfred A. Lush Life. English 275 . Jessica. frank. identity.” Currently working for a shipping company and teaching in a maritime school.

) Almario. Maynila: UST Publishing House. Ang Maya ang unang bolyum ng inaasahang serye ng mga libro bilang paggunita sa buhay-makata ni Antonio sa kaniyang ika-100 taong kapanganakan noong 2003. 276 . Lungsod Mandaluyong: Anvil Publishing Inc. Iba-iba man ang mga paksa sa mga tulang nakapaloob sa librong ito. Emilio Mar. mga patnugot. Ito ang kaniyang ikatlong aklat. Layunin ng muling paglilimbag ng obrang ito ang ipakilala sa bagong henerasyon ng mambabasa ang “Hari ng Balagtasan” at ang marami pang yaman ng ating panitikan. Suplungan ng mga Hayop. Maya. Nagbigay ng kontribusyon ang mga nagsisimula at kilalang manunulat sa buong bansa para mabuo ang libro na inabot ng dalawang taon bago natapos. (Hango sa UST Publishing House Catalogue 2010-2012. Koleksiyon ng sandaang kuwentong may sandaang salita na isinulat ng sandaang manunulat ang hatid ng Dadaanin.Filipino A Aguirre. Maynila: UST Publishing House. Ang pagsusuri sa akda ni Emilio Jacinto ay bahagi ng isang balangkas ng may-akda sa kasaysayang pampanitikan ng Filipinas na naiiralan ng pambansa at makabansang pagtanaw at pamantayan. Ang Suplungan ng mga Hayop ay isang nobelang patula na unang nailimbag sa anyong komiks sa Manila Klasiks noong 1961. Baha-Bahagdang Karupukan. mababanaag ang pakay ng makata na bigyan ng boses ang mga aspekto ng buhay na kadalasan ay nakaliligtaan o kinaliligtaan. Antonio. Alwin at Nonon Carandang. Jim Pascual. Maynila: UST Publishing House. Dadaanin. Virgilio S. Jacintina.) Antonio. Maynila: UST Publishing House. Emilio Mar. (hango sa UST Publishing House Catalogue 2010-2012. Agustin. Matutunghayan sa bawat kuwento ang iba’t ibang tema at emosyon. hindi mabubuo ang diwa ng Himagsikang Filipino bilang pinakadakilang yugto sa kasaysayang pambansa kung hindi isasaalang-alang ang isinulat nina Bonifacio at Jacinto. Aniya. Ang aklat ay kinapapalooban ng 144 tulang pambata ng makata na unang nailimbag sa magasing Liwayway. Ang makata ay nakatira sa South Africa.

Ayon kay Balde. Philippine Studies. Lungsod Mandaluyong: Anvil Publishing Inc. Lungsod Quezon: Ateneo de Manila University Press. sapat na ang bilang ng mga salitang ginamit sa bawat kislap para talakayin ang bawat paksa nang walang nasasakripisyong bahagi ng kuwento. C Carandang. sa 100 Kislap.) Antonio. B Balde. at paglalaho o pagpapanibagong-anyo ng pag-ibig. Nonon E. bilang isang nilalang na buo. Abdon M. ay tila mga alitaptap na kumukuti-kutitap sa kabila ng nakalulunos na kalagayang pansarili at pambansa. Lasang Lasallian. Bilang bahagi ng ika-100 taóng pagdiriwang ng pamantasan. Filipino 277 . at Writings in Protest. transaksiyonalismong seksuwal. litaw pa rin ang mga isyung panlipunang nagsasanga sa nakaraan at kasalukuyan gaya ng karanasang rural at urban na tumatalab sa isa’t isa. Alitaptap sa Gabing Maunos: Mga Kuwento. Isang aklat ng mga tinipong akda ng mga Lasalyanong nakaranas ng tuwa’t sayáng idinulot ng mga pagkaing kadikit na ng kanilang búhay sa DLSU ang Lasang Lasallian. ang aklat na ito ay may intensiyong ipamahagi sa mambabasa ang sayáng walang kapantay bilang Lasalyano. pagkasira ng kalikasan. Lungsod Quezon: Central Books Supply Inc. Jr. Unang aklat ng maiikling katha ng makatang Lamberto E.” Matutunghayan sa libro ang sampung kuwentong nasulat ng may-akda sa loob ng mahigit tatlong dekada at naging bahagi ng iba’t ibang publikasyon gaya ng Liwayway. Distrungka. Lamberto E.Antonio. Bagama’t dumaan sa mga pagbabago ang mga katha sa pagsasatipon nito. at ang konsepto ng pagdestrungka ng kaniyang pagkatao bunga ng kaniyang karanasan at kaligiran. Koleksiyon ng 100 maikling kuwento na hindi hihigit sa 150 salita ang hatid ni Abdon M. Sison-Buban. na gaya sa totoong buhay. malayo naman ang naaabot at maraming paksa ang nasasaklaw ng bawat kuwento. Maynila: UST Publishing House. inaanyayahan ni Antonio na hanapin ng mambabasa ang ugnay sa mga tauhan. at Rakki E. Pinatototohanan nito na habang hinuhubog ang mag-aaral sa loob ng institusyon. Balde Jr. Ang koleksiyong ito ng isa sa mga pangunahing makata ng bansa ay pagdalumat ng tao. Maikli man sa unang tingin. kasabay nitong nilalasap ang iba’t ibang pagkain ng búhay at lasa ng mga pagsubok sa lahat ng aspekto tungo sa kahusayan. mga patnugot. 100 Kislap. Antonio ang Alitaptap sa Gabing Maunos: Mga Kuwento na aniya ay isang katuparan ng “isang makatang ‘nagkatahid sa panulaan’ na ‘magkabagwis’ bilang prosista. (Hango sa UST Publishing House Catalogue 2010-2012. At sa bawat pilas ng libro. Teo T. Ang bawat kislap ay pumupukaw sa damdamin ng mga mambabasa.

ang mga akda ay kinapapalooban ng mga kahulugang tumutugon sa mga isyung pampamilya. Ang mga pinagtipon-tipong kuwentong-bayan ng iba’t ibang tribu sa Mindanao ang masasaksihan sa librong ito. Layunin ng aklat na ito na makatulong sa paglago ng kultura at ng identidad ng Filipinas kung kaya’t magsisilbi rin itong sanggunian ng mga mag-aaral sa mataas na paaralan.” F Fabian. G Gervacio. Bukod sa pagdaragdag sa mga nakagisnan nang mga bugtong. desisyon. May nakalaan na halimbawa sa bawat anyo ng dula na tinalakay para masundan ng mga mag-aaral.. Ang Mga Pilat sa Pilak ay kalipunan ng mga personal na sanaysay ni Evasco na naisulat sa loob ng isang dekada. at iba pa na inihulma sa mga aksiyon. pangkasarian. Rolando C. Sa pananaw ni Ruth Elynia Mabanglo. Arthur P. German. Maynila: UST Publishing House. at saloobin ng bawat tauhang nakapaloob sa mga ito. Lungsod Quezon: Ateneo de Manila University Press. Arthur P. ngangayunin subalit panghabampanahon. at Ivie C. Lungsod Mandaluyong: Anvil Publishing Inc. may mga paksang karaniwan ngunit nilapitan sa di pangkaraniwang istilo. Esteban. E Evasco. Karamihan sa mga kuwentong kalakip sa aklat na ito ay isinalin mula sa mga katutubong wika ng mga grupong etniko sa Mindanao o kaya naman ay mula pa sa pananaliksik ng iba’t ibang iskolar. Hatid ng Klasrum Drama: Mga Anyo ng Dulaan Para sa Paaralan ang iba’t ibang aralin na tumatalakay sa iba’t ibang anyo ng dulaan na maaaring gawin sa paaralan. Itinatampok sa librong ito ang koleksiyon ni German Gervacio ng mga bugtong. ninais niyang magbigay ng ilang panuntunan o gabay sa pagbuo ng mga dula na maaaring gawin ng mga magaaral sa pamamagitan ng librong ito. ang mga likhang nakapaloob sa koleksiyon ay “simple. Unang kinagiliwan sa magasing Liwayway. Klasrum Drama: Mga Anyo ng Dulaan para sa Paaralan. panlipunan. Casanova.C. Lungsod Mandaluyong: Anvil Publishing Inc. Kay Lalim ng Gabi at Iba Pang Kuwento. partikular ang tuon pero unibersal ang tema. Dahil sa hilig sa drama at teatro ni Casanova. kumbersasyonal ang tono. Koleksiyon ng 19 na maikling kuwento ng pag-ibig at romansa ng batikang manunulat na si A. Mga Kwentongbayan ng Katimugang Pilipinas. nais ni Gervacio na “buhayin ang ngayo’y unti-unti nang namamatay na sana’y masayang palitan ng 278 Likhaan 6 • Annotated Bibliography . Maynila: UST Publishing House. Fabian ang hatid ng obrang Kay Lalim ng Gabi at Iba Pang Kuwento.Casanova. Eugene Y. Agustin C. 101 Bugtong na Hindi Alam ng Titser Mo. Ang libro ay bahagi ng seryeng Aklatambayan ng ADMU Press. Mga Pilat sa Pilak. Esteban.

Si Mannet Villariba ang naglapat ng disenyo. Metro Serye 1. Bugtong ng Buwan at Iba Pang Kuwento. Si Manix Abrera ang nagsilbing ilustrador ng mga libro. Ang librong ito ay kalipunan ng mga tula ng premyadong makata at performance artist na si Vim Nadera. iinog ang usapin sa mga batang manggagawa na kumakawala sa ikinahong imaheng walang lakas. Ruth E. Bahagi ito ng UST Pop imprint. Sina Romulo P. Coroza ang nagsilbing patnugot ng libro. Gayunman. at Michael M. muling ipinamalas ni Ruth Mabanglo ang kaniyang kahusayan sa pagnananis na maisalin sa pinakamalapit na salita nito ang aklat ni Khalil Gibran na The Prophet. at laging hinahanap tungo sa pagiging Filipino 279 . Lawrence Bernabe. ukol sa bata. Kinapapalooban ito ng mga tula nina Eliza Victoria. at makata. Lungsod Quezon: The University of the Philippines Press. at Marie La Viña.bugtong sa klasrum” sa tulong na rin ng koleksiyong ito. Maynila: UST Publishing House. Ang Pantas (The Prophet) ni Khalil Gibran.. ani Ortiz. Will P. Kalipunan ng mga kuwentong pambata ang hatid ni Will P. Sa librong ito. M Mabanglo. Tampok sa antolohiyang ito ang obra ng iba’t ibang artista. Kayumanggi.” Sa labindalawang kathang pambata sa koleksiyon. Maging ang kapalaran. kasama ang musical score ni Fer Edilo na siyang nagbigayhimig sa bawat obra.) L Lacuesta. Nasa anyong mapa ng isang pedestrian. Ito ay pumapailanlang kung paanong ang isang pantas ay inaaral ang konsepto ng pamamalagi ng isang indibidwal habang siya ay nagmamahal sa wika ng bagong himig at ng pag-iral ng tamang pag-iisip ng kaluluwang punô ng mga katanungan at paghahanap ng kasagutan sa mga misteryong ito. O Ortiz. Partikular na tinatalakay ng akdang ito ang kagandaha’t misteryo ng búhay ng isang tao sa kaniyang patuloy na pagtuklas sa sarili. patnugot. ang karma at ang mga pangunahing birtud ng búhay ay mas naging maliwanag at makabuluhan sa saling ito. N Nadera. (Hango sa UST Publishing House Catalogue 2010-2012. at nararapat ding basahin ng nakatatanda. ang mga likha ay umiinog sa tema ng pagsakay at paglalakbay. Baquiran Jr. Mark Anthony Cayanan. Joseph de Luna Saguid. Ortiz sa Bugtong ng Buwan at Iba Pang Kuwento. patnugot. Maynila: UST Publishing House. Vim. nawawala. hindi nangangahulugang pambata lang ang mga kuwentong masasaksihan sa libro kundi “para sa bata. Mookie Katigbak. Lungsod Quezon: C&E Publishing para sa DLSU Press. kuwentista.

Rolando B. Lungsod Quezon: The University of the Philippines Press. Rodriguez. Lungsod Mandaluyong: Anvil Publishing Inc. Umiikot sa kahirapan ng búhay sa mga kanayunan sa bansa ang tinatalakay ng nobelang isunulat ni Jun Cruz Reyes. T Tiatco. Lagalag ang sentral na tema ng mga katha sapagakat kadikit ng paglalakbay/pag-alis ang patuloy na paglikha ng mga tanong. at handang lumaban kung wala sa katwiran ang nakatatanda. Lungsod Quezon: The University of the Philippines Press. hindi ang bersiyon ng kasaysayan ang ipinatatampok sa dula kundi ang pagpapakita kung paanong “ang kasaysayan ay maaaring basahin bilang nagtatanghal na naratibo o nagtatanghal na paninindigan. Ngunit dahil sa postmodernismo na paraan ng pagsusulat ni Reyes. Sir Anril Pineda. at Rommel B. Lungsod Quezon: Ateneo de Manila University Press. matitigas ang ulo. napalaya niya ang kaniyang sarili sa mga batas ng paglikha. binibigyang-tinig ang mga batang matagal nang iginapos ng tradisyonal na lipunan. at pagkatao. Ang aklat na ito ay kalipunan ng mga kuwentong lagalag ni Rommel B.” Tolentino. Miss Dulce Extranjera o Ang Paghahanap kay Miss B: Dulang May Dalawang Yugto. Ayon sa sa introduksiyon ni Bienvenido Lumbera. R Reyes. Lagalag ng Paglaya.” Sa pag-usad ng mga eksena. Jun Cruz. Rodriguez. Rodriguez. Sa pamamagitan ng mga dokumentong pangkasaysayan. matutunghayan na bilang dula. Ang Huling Dalagang Bukid at ang Authobiography na Mali: Isang Imbestigasyon. isiniwalat ni Rodriguez sa kaniyang mga obra hindi ang mga sagot kundi lalo’t higit ang mga kuwestiyon na umiinog sa kalayaan. Bilang lagalag sa sariling búhay at panahon.suwail. Hatid ng librong Kathang Isip: Mga Kuwentong Fantastiko ang labinlimang maikling kathang dumadaloy sa imahinasyon at imahinaryo upang bumuo ng pantasyang 280 Likhaan 6 • Annotated Bibliography . Kathang Isip: Mga Kuwentong Fantastiko. Rommel B. pakikibaka. mga patnugot. Binibigyang-búhay ng inilimbag na dula ni Tiatco ang kuwento sa búhay at pagkatao ni Josephine Bracken. Sa ganitong paghulagpos ng naratibo ng bata sa mga obra ni Ortiz. ang wikang ginamit ni Reyes ay maaaring maituring na akma sa isang borador kaya’t maaari itong ituring na burara. maaaring likhain ang iba’t ibang Josephine—ito ang pinaglulugaran ng dula na pinangungunahan ng dalawang tauhang mandudula na tumatalab sa isa’t isa at kung pakasusuriin ay maaaring mga “biktima ng awtoridad at manipulasyong ideolohikal at ng gahum ng kasaysayan.

Lungsod Quezon: The University of the Philippines Press.pumapailanlang sa aktuwal at historikal na realidad. Hatid ng Talong/Tahong ang labinlimang modernong maikling kuwentong may iisang tema: ang homoerotiko. Joi Barrios.” Filipino 281 . Bahagi ang libro ng seryeng Aklatambayan ng ADMU Press. Maynila: UST Publishing House. iginigiit ni Vera sa kaniyang mga dula ang paglaya sa kumbensiyon ng pagkatao at hamunin ang manonood/mambabasa na pumaloob sa sariling proseso ng pagsisino. Romulo P... Isa rin itong pagtatangkang umukit ng posisyon sa panitikang Filipino sa pamamagitan ng bagong tematiko ng pagkukuwentong higit pang gumagalugad sa porma. Dalawang Pulgada at Tubig. Joi Barrios. Laglag-Brief ang dalawampu’t isang maikling kuwento na umiikot sa erotikong karanasan ng mga heteroseksuwal. na lumilikha ng kahinahunan sa gitna ng totoong ligalig sa lipunan at estado. na bagama’t madalas na napakasakit at napakahirap ay siyang “magdadala sa atin sa inaasam nating Langit at Kaligayahan. Rolando B. Lungsod Mandaluyong: Anvil Publishing Inc. at sustansiya. at Mykel Andrada. Rody. Ayon sa kapuwa makatang si Jim Pascual Agustin. Baquiran Jr. Emmanuel. Laglag-Panty.. Tatlong Dula. Lungsod Mandaluyong: Anvil Publishing Inc. at Mykel Andrada. laman. ang identidad din ang nagsisilbing kahon ng pagkatao na naglatag sa idea ng “nararapat” batay sa pakahulugang heteroseksuwal. mga patnugot. V Velasco. at hindi pagpapalagpas sa bawat panahon at espasyo na maaaring nangyari na sa bawat tao ang iniinugan ng mga kuwentong itinatampok sa librong ito. Sa ganang ito. pare-pareho naman itong nagnanais na makamit ang mas malalim na pag-unawa sa seksuwalidad ng modernong Filipino. Laglag-Brief. tila multong nakapasok sa paningin at hindi aalis o tuluyang magpapakita. Usapin ng identidad ang nagtatahing tema sa tatlong obrang pantanghalang nakapaloob sa librong ito ni Rody Vera. Romulo P. Iba-iba ang erotikong karanasan na ipinapakita ng mga kuwento rito. Iba-iba man ang pamamaraan ng paglikha ng mga kuwentong pumapaloob dito. Sa matagal na panahon.. mga patnugot. Baquiran Jr. “tumatatak ang mga salita at imaheng likha ni Velasco sa isipan ng mga mambabasa.” Vera. Unang kalipunan ng tula ni Velasco ang Dalawang Pulgada at Tubig. Maaaring unang karanasan. Talong/Tahong. Rolando B. Hatid ng Laglag-Panty. Tolentino. Pumapaloob sa mga katha ang politika ng imahinasyon. Tolentino. patagong malilibog na mga gawain.

Alinagnag. Hernandez. at Ricky Lee.) 282 Likhaan 6 • Annotated Bibliography . Bienvenido Lumbera. (Hango sa UST Publishing House Catalongue 2010-2012. Santos. Genoveva Edroza-Matute.Y Yu. Laman ng koleksiyong ito ang mga pananaliksik at panunuri sa mga akda at kanikaniyang búhay ng mga respetadong manunulat tulad nina Amado V. Maynila: UST Publishing House. Rosario Torres. Lope K. Ipinakikita rin ang ugnayan ng ideolohiya at kasarian sa panitikan at sinisipat ang katayuan ng literaturang Filipino sa kontemporaneong panahon.

and the Brooklyn Rail. He coedited Bongga Ka ’Day: Pinoy Gay Quotes to Live By (2002) and authored The Queen Sings the Blues: Poems. perhaps after the realization that he didn’t like numbers after all. 1992–2002 (2007). Her work has been recognized through the Thornton Award for Nonfiction. Her recent publications include a poetry collection. Cebu Daily News.Contributors / Mga Kontribyutor Si Giancarlo Lauro C. Hammed Bolotaolo was born and grew up in Malate. Philippine literature. “Of Legends. 2009) and criticism on poetry in English from the Philippines. He obtained his MA in Language and Literature from De La Salle University-Manila in 1996. He earned his BS in Accountancy from the Ateneo de Davao University in 2006 and enrolled for the MA in Creative Writing at the University of the Philippines-Diliman in 2009. Merlie M. Ronald Baytan holds a PhD in English Studies (Creative Writing) from the University of the Philippines. He likes to travel to unusual places and has a particular fascination for the Middle East and Clint Eastwood. the latest of which is Tales of the Spiderwoman (2010). He received a fellowship from the Ford Foundation and has won prizes from the Philippines Free Press Literary Awards. at Anyo (LIRA). This year he won his first Palanca. Lola Coqueta (UP Press. Abrahan ay kasalukuyang kumukuha ng BA Film sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas-Diliman. Isabela Banzon teaches at the University of the Philippines-Diliman. lambdaliterary. Retorika. Mindanao Times. John Bengan earned a BA in English from the University of the Philippines-Mindanao and an MFA in creative writing from The New School in New York City. and world literature at the DLSU-Manila and is the Associate for Literary Studies at the Bienvenido N. 283 . gay/ lesbian literature. the Palanca Awards. His collection of personal essays entitled The Queen Lives Alone was published by the UP Press this year. Philippine Daily Inquirer. His writing has appeared in the Philippines Free Press. Santos Creative Writing Kalihim at isa ring katuwang na direktor ng Taunang Palihang Pampanulaan ng Linangan sa Imahen. He teaches creative writing. major in Creative Writing. the first prize for his essay. and the Philippines Free Press Literary Awards.” He is currently writing for a travel magazine and working on his MA thesis. from Silliman University. Alunan has published three collections of poetry. Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas. She holds an MA in English.

sa ilalim ng produksiyong Eyeball: New Visions in Philippine Theater. Si Carlo Pacolor Garcia ay kasalukuyang nagtatapos ng kanyang masteral sa Araling Pilipino. Vicente Garcia Groyon teaches at De La Salle University-Manila. PNU Creative Writers’ Club. Lucban Historical Society. nagkamit siya ng Southeast Asia Writers Award (SEAWrite) noong 2007 mula sa Kaharian ng Thailand at Aning Dangal Award mula sa National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) noong 2009. The Proxy Eros and Sl(e)ights. Nagtapos siya ng BSE Social Science sa PNU Manila at MA Araling Filipino sa Pamantasang De La Salle. Kasaping tagapagtatag at dating pangulo siya ng Bolpen at Papel. lalo na ang mga katutubo at klasikong awiting Filipino gaya ng mga kundiman. Dating pangulo siya ng LIRA at kasalukuyang Secretary General ng UMPIL. and graphic art. at gayundin nailathala na sa Philippine Humanities Review (2008). ang kaniyang dulang “Bakit Wala Nang Nagtatagpo sa Philcoa Oberpas” na una nang naitanghal sa taunang Virgin Labfest (2010). and the Madrigal-Gonzalez First Book Award. a literary folio featuring new poetry. fiction. she won Palanca Awards for two short collections. at balitaw. The Sky over Dimas (DLSU Press. at asawang si Angela na guro ng pisika sa Lucban Academy. His novel. na sumasahimpapawid tuwing Linggo ng gabi sa DWBR 104. the Manila Critics Circle National Book Award. Nagpapabalik-balik siya sa hamog at halumigmig ng Banahaw upang makapiling ang kaniyang dalawang anak. 2003). sina Divine at Esperanza.Si Michael M. received the Grand Prize from the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature. Nalathala sa mga dyornal. Ang Lungsod Namin. nagtuturo ng panitikan. She is the creator and editor of Metro Serye. LIRA. danza. Paaralan ng Humanidades ng Pamantasang Ateneo de Manila. ang Harana ng Puso. A prizewinning poet. Kasalukuyang guro ng Filipino sa Faculty of Engineering sa Unibersidad ng Santo Tomas si Joselito D. Nitong nakaraang Enero-Pebrero. Sa pamamagitan ng kaniyang palatuntunang-panradyo. delos Reyes.3 FM. antolohiya. Kasapi siya ng UMPIL. Inilathala ng NCCA noong 2005 ang una niyang aklat. 2004). malikhaing pagsulat. pahayagan at magasin ang kaniyang mga akda at salin. Premyadong makata at mananaysay. at pagsasaling pampanitikan sa gradwado at di-gradwadong paaralan. siya’y nakasali na sa dalawang palihang pambansa (UP Writers Workshop at IYAS). ipinalabas ng Tanghalang Pilipino. itinataguyod niya ang pagbabasa at pagtatanghal ng tula. at Museo Valenzuela Foundation. both of which were eventually included in her first 284 Likhaan 6 • Annotated Bibliography . and edited anthologies of short fiction. He has published a collection of short stories. Mookie Katigbak is currently working on her second book of poetry. Coroza ay kasalukuyang Associate Professor sa Kagawaran ng Filipino. On Cursed Ground and Other Stories (University of the Philippines Press.

writing. he also won the Bridport Prize for Poetry in Dorset.collection of poetry. and Ruins and Reconstructions (2011)—and in 2011 was both a recipient of the Rockefeller Foundation Creative Arts Residency in Bellagio. Noong 2010. Mayroong MFA in creative writing. Contributors / Mga Kontribyutor 285 . with high distinction. She is founder and president of Upstream Publications. He teaches literature at Miriam College but is now pursuing his doctorate in Singapore. major in journalism. and the Meritage Press in San Francisco. He has also been a literary editor of the Philippines Free Press. 2008). “As Far As Cho-Fu-Sa. nagwagi ng unang gantimpala sa Timpalak Tulang Lumina Pandit ng UST Miguel de Benavidez Library at Museum of the Arts and Sciences.” She teaches semantics at the University of the Philippines-Diliman. Toledo is the current literary editor of the Philippines Free Press online. the Palanca Memorial. USA. The Proxy Eros (Anvil. Awtor ng isang aklat ng tula. Kasalukuyang guro ng panitikan at pagsulat sa Department of English ng Pamantasang Ateneo de Manila. Toledo holds an MA in English Studies from UP Diliman. Angelo Lacuesta has received several awards for his short stories. and teaching in London and Manchester. Nakatanggap na rin siya ng isang Catholic Mass Media Award mula sa Arkdiyosesis ng Maynila para sa kaniyang maikling kuwento. Maynila. nagkaisip at lumaki sa Caloocan. the Philippines Free Press. Kritika Kultura. Sanchez ay ipinanganak sa Sta. where he likewise finished two undergraduate degrees (Journalism and Creative Writing). mula sa Pamantasang De La Salle. nanunungkulan din siya bilang associate editor para sa komunikasyon ng international e-journal. She also won the first prize in the Philippines Free Press Awards for her poem. and the NVM Gonzalez Awards. at katuwang na direktor ng Taunang Palihang Pampanulaan ng LIRA. She graduated summa cum laude from the same university and has trained in research. Colombia. Jeena Rani Marquez received a Palanca award in 2011 for her essay. He has won awards from the NCCA. He is currently a private businessman and editor-at-large of Esquire Philippines. The Long Lost Startle (2009). mula sa Unibersidad ng Santo Tomas. at palagiang nagbabalik sa kaniyang ili sa Flora. Joel M.” and represented the country at the 2012 Poetry Festival in Medellin. Sa Tahanan ng Alabok (2010). the Palanca Memorial. Italy. Si Louie Jon A. Mesa. Premyado ng tatlong “Makata ng Taon” sa Talaang Ginto ng Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino. UK. at AB. He has authored three books of poetry—Chiaroscuro (2008). among them the Philippines Graphic. His collections of short stories have won the Madrigal-Gonzalez Best First Book Award and two National Book Awards. “The River of Gold. Apayao. and the Philippine representative for the International Writing Program (IWP) in Iowa.

ang “AGUA. Minsan na siyang nagtrabaho bilang Software Engineer at sa ngayon ay nagsusulat ng mga telenobela sa isang network. Philippine National Book Awards.” Si Charles Bonoan Tuvilla ay isinilang sa Murphy.Rowena Tiempo Torrevillas teaches nonfiction writing and transnational literature at the University of Iowa (UI). She writes fiction. Siya ay kasapi ng LIRA. Nailimbag ang kanyang maikling kuwentong “Pangulong Paquito” sa Likhaan 4 Journal ng UP Institute of Creative Writing. naging fellow ng IYAS writing workshop noong 2008. she was for nearly two decades the administrator of the International Writing Program in UI. Kasalukuyan niyang tinatapos ang una niyang koleksiyon ng tula. and Palanca Awards for poetry and fiction. Ilocos Norte. Bengali. Nagkamit ang kaniyang mga tula at kuwento sa Don Carlos Palanca at Maningning Miclat Awards. Si Edgar Calabia Samar ang may-akda ng mga aklat na Pag-aabang sa Kundiman: Isang Tulambuhay (2006) at Walong Diwata ng Pagkahulog (2009). Nagtapos siya ng BS Electronics and Communication Engineering mula sa Mapua Institute of Technology. Tubong Milagros. at tagapagtatag na patnugot ng Tapat: Journal ng Bagong Nobelang Filipino. and Russian. poetry. NCCA Writer’s Prize. and literary criticism. Maynila. 286 Likhaan 6 • Annotated Bibliography . Longlisted sa MAN Asia Literary Prize ang nobela niyang Eight Muses of the Fall (salin nina Mikael Co at Sasha Martinez) noong 2009. Her works have been translated into numerous languages. Local recognition of her work includes the Gawad Balagtas. Kasapi siya at naging pangulo ng LIRA. Prior to joining the UI English Department faculty. including Arabic. Gawad Surian at Gantimpalang Collantes. She holds a PhD in English and Literature from Silliman University. Nagtuturo siya ng panitikan at malikhaing pagsulat sa Pamantasang Ateneo de Manila at kasalukuyang direktor ng Ateneo Institute of Literary Arts and Practices. nonfiction. Chinese. pero nagsusulat rin siya ng dula. Si Mixkaela Villalon ay nagtapos ng kursong Araling Pilipino at kasalukuyang kumukha ng Masters degree sa Malikhaing Pagsulat sa UP Diliman. lumaki sa Bangui. at kasalukuyang nagungupahan sa San Miguel. Hilig niya ang magsulat ng maiikling kuwento. Masbate si Enrique Villasis. nakisilong ng ilang taon sa mga kamag-anak sa Pembo. Naging writer-in-residence din siya para sa 43rd International Writing Program ng University of Iowa. Makati. Nagkamit na siya ng mga parangal mula sa Palanca. PBBY-Salanga Writer’s Prize. She and her husband Lemuel live in Iowa City. at nagkamit ng mga parangal mula sa Don Carlos Palanca at Maningning Miclat Foundations noong 2009. Hebrew. Ipinalabas ang kanyang dulang Streetlight Manifesto sa Virgin Labfest 7 sa Cultural Center of the Philippines at nabigyan ng dramatikong pagbasa sa hotINK Theatre Festival sa New York.

and coffee-table books) and received many honors and awards: SEAWrite. In 2008. Contributors / Mga Kontribyutor 287 . He has enjoyed fellowships and participated in various literary programs. and Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas. she dabbles in travel writing. The Music Child. Yuson has to date authored twenty-five books (novels. essays. He has taught fiction and poetry at the Ateneo de Manila University where he held the Henry Lee Irwin Professorial Chair in Creative Writing. his draft manuscript. among others. Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan. 2009. Alfred A. Although more comfortable in writing short stories. 2001.Jenette Vizcocho is currently taking her MA in Creative Writing at UP Diliman. literary anthologies. Her fiction has won prizes at the Philippines Free Press Literary Awards. He writes a weekly literature and culture column for The Philippine Star and a monthly column for Illustrado magazine (published in Dubai). was shortlisted for the MAN Asia Prize for the Novel. short fiction. biographies. poetry. She is a speech therapist and loves working with children. children’s stories. conferences. Carlos Palanca Hall of Fame. 1992. and festivals in seventeen countries. 2002.


In 2009. UP Diliman. Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo has published more than twenty books of fiction. Almario is among the most prominent living poets and literary critics in the Philippines today. Associate Editors Virgilio S. and literary criticism. Abad is University Professor Emeritus of English and Creative Writing at the University of the Philippines. in continuation of the late Professor Leopoldo Y. She is a UP Professor Emeritus and continues to teach creative writing and literature at the Graduate School of the College of Arts and Letters. he received the Premio Feronia. she was director of the UST Publishing House. She is also director of the UST Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies. creative nonfiction. He was proclaimed National Artist for Literature in 2003 and is now a Professor Emeritus in the College of Arts and Letters. before that. Italy’s highest award for foreign authors. A poet and scholar. Yabes’s critical-historical anthology of Filipino short stories in English 1925 to 1955.Editors / Mga Editor Issue Editor Gémino H. he has finished his six-volume anthology of Philippine short stories in English from 1956 to 2008. 289 .

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