ATENEO LITERARY ASSOCIATION TILAD LITERARY FOLIO VOLUME 01 ISSUE 03 KASAGKORAN

1

ATENEO LITERARY ASSOCIATION TILAD LITERARY FOLIO VOLUME 01 ISSUE 03 KASAGKORAN

POETRY
SNOWGLOBE 10 KASAGKUDAN 18

Rea Robles – Estudyante. Aning.

Jovanie Estrella is taking BS BSE majors in Physics. He is the editor of Kadunong, the official newsletter of the College of Education.

PAGKASULO NG PATIG 12

Si Jerome Mendoza Hipolito saróng kagubáy na Bikolanong parasurát nin mga rawitdawit. Kan 2008, ginawadan sa Premio Tomas Arejola para sa Literaturang Bikolnon nin ikaduwáng premyo an saiyang Pagbunag nin Paroy asin iba pan rawitdawit. Sarô siyáng paratukdô sa Sentral na Bikolanong Unibersidad nin Estado kan Agrikultura (CBSUA) sa Calabanga, Camarines Sur.

Yaj Asovlas loves to daydream a lot. He also worships absurdity. Lou Lobis Nieva took her BSE (1990) and MAED ELT (2004) at the Ateneo de Naga. She holds a doctorate degree in Literature from the University of Santo Tomas; a fellow of the Thomasian Writers Workshop (2009) and the 8th Juliana Arejola-Fajardo sa Pagsurat Bikol Writing Workshop.

DUSK; RAIN 24

MOMENTS 15

Marissa C. Agricula is a 2nd year education student. She loves to hang out with her cousins every weekend and to make fun of things.

SULNUPAN 16

Jusan Villaflor Misolas is taking up AB BSE English at the Ateneo de Naga University. He is a fellow of the 8th Juliana Arejola-Fajardo sa Pagsurat Bikol Writing Workshop and the 2nd Saringsing Workshop (PB). His works appeared in Sagurong: Anthology of Bikol Poetry (DLSU), Tambobong nin Literaturang Bikolnon, ThePILLARS, Satong Kakanon sa Aro-aldaw Online, Karangahan, and Sural.

GLORIA PATRI 26

4

5

PROSE

THE RAT I KILED 31

Gabriel Castillo lives in perpetual guilt after killing a rat.

AN MGA MAKINITO 54

SUKAT 37

Irmina V. Torres Is a Court Stenographer in RTC Pili, Camarines Sur. She is currently taking her master’s degree in Language and Literature Program in Ateneo de Naga University where she also finished the course Liberal Arts/ Commerce in 1987.

Pen Prestado is so fluffy, you’re gonna die!

PAKIUSAP 60

Ken Brian Esperanza: May talent ako bako akong arog kan iba diyan.

ELEGY OF A THIRTEEN YEAR OLD ON THE GRAVE OF HER BELOVED 44

C.M. Mariano is a nobody who wants to make something matter before everything boils down to nothing (if you know what I mean). THERE ARE NO PEOPLE LIKE ME, ONLY ME 49 John Leir Castro despises humanity in general. He loves rabbits.

AMBO-ATO 62

Ahj Eufracio: Everyday, I answer phone calls. I guess it is a good way to hone voice acting skills.

6

7

ILLUSTRATIONS
IPISTAXIS (Cover Art) PAKIUSAP 61 ELEGY OF A THIRTEEN YEAR OLD ON THE GRAVE OF HER BELOVED 45

Ken Brian Esperanza is part time student, full time gamer. End of story.

LEAVES 11 LOKI’S HAND 21 DECEPTION 22

Armando Sales III doesn’t talk too much. He’s very good in first person shooting, bad in DotA. Monique Cabais is a first year BS Dev Com student. She’s also video gamer, anime fan and a land lady, seriously.

Van Penaserada loves yaoi and annoying people because of it.

THERE ARE NO PEOPLE LIKE ME, ONLY ME 48, 51, 53

K. M. Esperanza is a multitalented spoiled brat who likes chicken sandwiches and the occasional strawberry.

PHALLUS SEBO 12 SUKAT 39, 42 AMBO-ATO 62, 68 SPIES 13

AN MGA MAKINITO 54

Pen Prestado is a doodler. He loves tentacles.

Paulo Papa is taking up AB Journalism. He is a metal head who hates pop culture and anything that is ugly for him. He also hates posers.

Via Marie Penero is a 2nd year DIA student who loves to do song covers and read books during her free time, aside from drawing or completing class requirements.

VINTAGE 74

Olga Villanueva is a Baguio-based freelance events photographer. Apart from her obsession with light she is also a fan of basil, mint, ice cream and Kikomachine Komix.

THE RAT I KILLED 30, 34
Don Ramos is very disturbed.

8

9

SNOWGLOBE
Rea Robles

Kun mayo an kamot na mapahiro sa kinaban, tundag na sana an abuton, mawawalat na nag-aabang.

10 Illustration Leaves by Vina Peñaserada

11

PAGKASULO KAN PATIG Jovanie Estrella

Sa pagsilyab kan saiyang salming, nasula an dakol na patig. Luminayog an paruparo, alibangbang asin tugdon balagon. Sa tirikwasan ninda nagluwas kun arin an tunay na duot asin arin an bado. Nahulog an salming, nawaran silyab. Alagad, padagos sindang luminayog.

12 Illustration Spies by Via Marie Peñero

13

MOMENTS
Lou Lobis Nieva

when you are invisible are clouds of darkness – slowly forming into hurricane soon to strike me, and then trash me into a whirlpool of limbo.

14 Illustration PHALLUS SEBO by Pen Prestado

15

SULNUPAN Marissa C. Agricula

Nagpuon sa karantiyawan Ah taba! Ah payat! Asta naging magkakawat. Kada Biyernes nin hapon sa tinampo nagraralapagan, garo sinda nasa kalangitan. Sa irarom kan bulan nagtataraguan, tumbang preso, patintero Dakol pang Biyernes an nag-agi An tinampo pirming nakangisi.

Alagad Biyernes man ito nangyari. Pasulnop na an aldaw, sinda nagsuruwayan, ngunyan hiribian. Dai na lamang nagtirinuhan Pag-iiribanan, tinuldukan. An tinampo napano nin kamunduan.

Mga puso, naging itom Mga kamot nagkakuruyom Pagkamoot sinpait nin apdo Naglinog an maogmang mundo.

16

17

KASAGKUDAN Jerome Hipolito

kun an kasag kudan na ini iyo an tapos kan gabos na katapusan na satong nilalangkag Lalangkagon ko kaya kun igdi ako nababangkag Ano an sakong mga tatapuson sa mga dai pa pinupuonan

Kun ini na an kasagkudan kan gabos na sagkod ngunyan hasta pa sana sa sagkod

18

19

arin sa mga dai ko mabutasan na girumdom an kaya ko nang butasan o bayaan an sarong tataramon o hiro o gibo kun baga iyo ini an kasagkudan dai ko iuusip dawa kiisay kun tano kun napano ta ini na an kasagkudan.
21

20 Illustration Loki’s Hand by Vina Peñaserada

22

23 DECEPTION Van Peñaserada

DUSK; RAIN Yaj Asovlas

The drumming sound inflicted by droplets against the old yellow parchments echoes the faint heartbeat of day dying as he is consumed by night— Vidal shovels his papers away from the tired floor to save Bartelby Bagnet, Jambalaya Le Lobo, Signor Ketrovsky, Gonzo Brillantes, Frida, Poncanto, Cyrus Decasso, Villa de Guzman Cervantelatorra, Maggie Mae, Grandmother June, Dicta Quezanellie, Bork Berchman, Lucy, Mignon, and Chevalle from untimely drowning.
24

And as the water slowly caresses the ground, as she reaches her way to the core of his soul, Vidal climbs on his lonely boat of a bed, adjusts his sextant to spot the invisible stars, and starts charting his way through a dream of sea, saving his people, chanting to the tune of es, oh, es, oh, es, oh, es, oh, es, oh, es, oh—

25

GLORIA PATRI Jusan Misolas

Tara, Kagurangnan Maria... Daing tataramon. Sa pag-ultunan kan paghangos asin pagsayod; nakahiling an lalaki sa kahiwasan na garo baga siya sana an nakakahiling. Nagtuga siya, dai ini abot kan saiyang pagkasabot. May kun anong halnas sa saiyang girumdom. Kuminaskas an kuradkutad kan saiyang daghan, luminipot an kada hangos. Igwa pang paabot.

Sa pagtandaan… Sa ngaran kan Ama, kan Aki, asin kan Espiritu Santo. Nakatukaw na naman an lalaki sa atubangan kan altar sa madiklom na surok kan saiyang kuwarto kun sain nakataralay an mga pasang santo asin an sarong kahoy na krusipiyo. Pasa an ngimot ni Santa Maria, ulwa an walang mata kan aking Hesus, pugot an payo ni San Jose. Minatubod ako... Ama niamo... ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
26

Gloria Patri, et

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dangan nagboot an Tawo, “Magkaigwang Diyos,” asin nagkaigwang Diyos. Bigla niya ining nahimo sa isip mantang pigpapangadyian an ikaanom na butnol kan rosaryo. Biyo siyang naogma sa siring na ideya. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Filio, et Luway niyang ikiniling an payo sa direksyon kan krusipiyo. Tukal an walang kamot ni Hesus, alagad nakatasok pa an pako sa palad. Dawa siisay man na tawo madai sa siring na luwag, sa boot kan lalaki. Muya na gayod magbuhi
27

kan Kristo, dugang niya sabay huyom. Mayo nang kusog su Mighty Bond. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Espiritu Sancto. Sicut erat Sa kusina nagpapamati an tagdo-tagdong turo kan gripo. Sa natad, warak sa daga an mga ralanog na burak kan gurangan na puon nin santol. Sa edad kan siring na puon risang nakatoodan na kaini an pagpahunod sa daga, daing pagduwa-duwa. Garo baga may dakulang kamot na minasalo kan gabos. Daing sagkod an pagrugon. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ in pricipio, et nunc Sa puon sana masiram an sigarilyo, iyo iyan an pagtubod niya. Napupungot siya kun parani na an tahaw. Pinapapundo siya kaini, pigpapataw-pataw sa mahiwason na kaawagan. Kaipuhan niyang may pangaputan, mayong pwedeng tindugan. Alagad, pirit man siyang nagtatago siring na pirit niya man pigpapahiling sa kinaban an saiyang kaluyahan.

Pigpalitungan niya nin duwang muro an butnol hanggan sa dai niya na ini mahiling. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ et semper, Sa libod, nag-isog an gabos na bagay. Turuhok an mga masitas sa mga bituon, nagbibilar. Mga siyo na sana gayod an mata pa, pirit pig-aadalan an pagsadiri kan saditon na nganing espasyo kan kulungan, asin an ido sa balyong harong na duwang aldaw nang dai pigbabahog, pirit pigbabagting an kadena sa mataklang latang plato nin kilohan na pano nin tubig uran, daing lawog. Kun dai gagadanon an pagmansay, dai madadangog an mga duri-during inako asin nagpaako na sa kadikloman. Sinda na yaon na puon pa kaidto. Sinda na kainot-inoting parabatiaw kan satong mga apoon Durugon man lugod ako nin mga maulyas na pangiturugan. Pigbutasan kan lalaki an butnol. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ et in saecula saeculorum. Kan bangging idto, nagtugpa an mga urog-udog sa atop. Nakigkig an lalaki. Awot pa.

28

THE RAT I KILLED
Gabriel Castillo

I I wanted to kill this rat. It had infiltrated our house weeks ago. I always thought that animals come to you because they bear a message. Unfortunately for us we had a smelly, black rat the size of my foot. Maybe it carried a bad news of sorts. It nested in our wooden stairs which had this open space on the right side. One could even insert his hand and reach its inner portion. The rat found home on the second step from the top. There were times when we would even see each other. As I go down the stairs the rat would be coming up. Then it would retreat and go back down and disappear by the time I got to the last step. I thought having a house rat would be nice and cute. Maybe I would call it a rodent pet like the rats on television where kids would feed them and place them in cages with a plastic ball that rolls as the little critter moves.

30

31 Illustrations Don Ramos

Our rat feasted on our garbage and bread. I even thought that the rat was smart because it could make a hole on the plastic that holds the bread. Could it have smelled the bread or could it have known that it was edible? II One morning, there was this strange, nasty odor. It was the strong smell of something like a combination of decay and fart. Or something like a mixture of a baby’s wet diaper and banana peel blended and stored for years. The smell was so horrible that I couldn’t eat or even breathe. In the afternoon, I discovered the origin of the smell. There were remains of what was once an egg on the floor just behind the refrigerator. There were scattered eggshells and a nasty splatter of the yolk. After looking around I soon spotted a hole on the egg cart bought by mother a few days ago. What was worse was that I was the one who had to clean it up, for other members of the family were busy and my mother could not push the refrigerator away from the wall to clean it. So I was the one unfortunate enough to face the messy destruction. The smell was so disturbing that I had to soap up the floor and the wall. Even the wall smelled badly even after I had rinsed it. Other than the putrid smell, the mess was just so hard to reach. I wasn’t even sure that I cleaned it properly for the nasty odor still filled the room (though not really as strong as that morning). As I was cleaning, something was growing in me. It was the feeling of hate and vengeance. The message the rodent bore might definitely be bad news. That rat has to go—immediately.
32

III So came the days that I waited for it. Occasionally I disturbed its peace by stomping on the stairs, but my family was also disturbed. They told me to stop. So I did. I would often see it late at night when I had to use the bathroom or I had to drink. Then it would retreat again and hide. There was this one time when I dropped my bag upstairs that the rat, probably surprised, hurry out from its nest and tumbled down the stairs. My mom heard it and thought that I was the one who tumbled. I came down and tried to find and see if it was weak. I came to my parents’ room and asked about the rat’s whereabouts. They told me it crawled from somewhere and disappeared. I came back to the staircase and saw it limping back to its nest. I realized that it was full, digesting something large perhaps. Soon came this horrifying odor of another kind. It was poop. Rat poop! The smell haunted our staircase for weeks, getting worse as the days passed. My anger increased as I had to once again clean its mess. I really, really had to kill the rat. IV There was a time that the rat hungrily came out of its nest to search for food. It was so weak that it did not even bother to hurry when it saw people screaming and pointing at it. I was one of them. As it came back from its journey, I was already waiting for it at the bottom of the stairs. My mom
33

shoes, then some rubber shoes, then some slippers again. I was so sore at myself because my hits were too far from the target. I thought to myself: impossible, what kind of tennis player am I? All I got were bad aims and an angry mother. She ordered me to pick her shoes up and put them back. V Time passed and I barely saw the rat. My parents told me that they had placed rat poison on its nest and at the other parts of the house. They said it must have died already. That wasn’t true. I could still hear its footsteps. I could still feel its presence. It was dying alright, but it just wasn’t dead yet. It must be waiting for everyone to fall asleep so it could feast freely. I was starting to barely notice it. And so I forgot my bad feelings about the mouse and lived on. VI A couple more weeks passed by and it showed itself again, consistently. It was stealthy but I could, at times, see it, trying to leave its hole to fill the hole in its stomach. But I let it be even though I kept on devising plots regarding its extermination. I thought to myself that the reason for the bad feeling was fast approaching. And then, time got to me. It was the end of the semester and we had to go back to our home in Laguna, leaving the rat without even a trace of food.
35

screamed again and I was ready for the kill. I realized I had no weapons. I couldn’t hold or kick the rat for it was dirty and I could hurt my leg if I hit the stair. Luckily, there was a shoe tray nearby and I grabbed some random footwear and aimed at the rat. I first threw my mom’s slippers, then her
34

It was after a week when we came back to the house. After unpacking, we had dinner. As my brother was washing the dishes, the rat showed itself. It was definitely weak and hungry, but it was different. It moved really slowly at first and it was about to give up. The rat seemed like it was ready to die. My bad feeling grew really worse and I could feel it on my skin. I was definitely going to kill it now. My brother yelled for my father. My old man asked me to get the broom. I got the broom and saw my brother and father near the stairs. My brother said that it was hiding under the kitchenware. My father shook the kitchenware and out came the rat. It was a race between my father and the rat. My father was chasing it with the long, large stick. He told me to guard the stairs so that I could hit it when it tried to climb back up. He tried to hit it but he missed and his stick was now sticks. The rat hurried to the stairs where I was waiting and I hit it really hard when it got to the second step. It was a direct hit. It squealed really loud and jumped back down towards the bottom of the refrigerator. It tried to climb back to the stairs but it stopped moving. I felt terrible but a bit happy at the same time. I yelled for my father because his stick was still long enough to reach it under the refrigerator. He could give it a final whack. He came and he did. He swept the body out in the open and the rat was still breathing and there were still movements, albeit light. I felt really terrible and sad. I pitied the animal and felt bad for it. I gave it another hard whack. I saw blood on its fur from its head. I looked up and watched the news. The whole city was mourning. Their hero had died. The rat had already sent its message.
36

Pen Prestado

SUKAT

Hindi ko alam kung anong naganap kagabi. Pero nang nagising ako ngayong umaga, nandito na ako sa napakalaking kwartong hindi ko makita ang dulo. May liwanag mula sa taas at sa palibot makikita ang libu-libong pintuan. Ang weird. Di ko alam kung anong natira ko, bakit ganito ang nakikita ko. Kakaiba ang mga pintong nakikita ko kasi nakatayo sila na para bang nakadikit sa mga imbisibol na bahay o building. May samu’t sari silang mga kulay, laki, disenyo at materyales. Ang iba’y inukit mula sa nara at imported na kahoy, yung iba nama’y may halong metal at plastik. Ang iba’y may doorbell o kaya’y may intercom. Yung isa nama’y may CCTV camera habang ang iba nama’y may butas na sinisilipan mula sa loob. Natawa ako dun sa pangkatok na ukit ng isang lalaking nakabuyangyang ang dalawang naglalakihang bayag. Yung isang pinto paranoid; sa pinakalabas kasi may

37 Illustrations Pen Prestado

barandilyang bakal laban sa magnanakaw, tapos sunod yung screen door laban naman sa lamok bago mo makita yung pinakapinto na tadtad naman ng mga kandado. Yung isa naman pinalamutian ng mga inukit na santo mula sa langit, may istatwa ng Santo Trinidad at may mga anghel na nagsisitrumpeta sa mga ulap. Kung ibebenta ang pintong iyon sa antique shop, aabutin ito ng milyon o higit pa. Mahal na kaya ang gold leaf ngayon. Sa may kalayuan may pintuan na tila pinapasukan lamang ng mga bossing sa mga multinational corporation, may salamin sila na maaaninag mo ang nasa kabila pero ‘di mo makikita. Kung bakit ko nasabi na sa kanila lamang yung pinto, may pangalan kasi nila ito kasama ang pagkahaba-habang mga titulo. May dalawa o tatlong pinto na parang gas chamber, mabigat ang bakal na ginamit sa kanila paniguradong walang lalabas na hangin mula sa kabilang pinto. Naisip kong isa sa pagkarami-raming pintong ito ang daanan-palabas. Walang makausap sa lugar na ito kaya naaliw ako sa pagbubusisi sa mga disenyo ng libu-libung mga pinto, hanggang sa biglang nagsalita ang isa sa kanila. “Psst. Gusto mo bang pumasok sa’kin?” sabi ng pinto na puno ng pataysinding Christmas light sa palibot. “Bibigyan kita ng daang palabas dito.” “Holy shit!” Anong tinira ko? “Bakit nagsasalita ka” tanong ko sa pinto. “Wag ka nang magulat. Ganito talaga kami.” Si Bangs Garcia pala sa kalendaryo ng Tanduay na nakadikit sa pinto ang nagsasalita. Medyo kupas na ang kulay niya, medyo bluish na ang kanyang mga alindog. Siyempre year 2008 pa ang kalendaryo, ilang mga bagyo na rin ang humampas at bumasa sa kanya. “Ano na? Gusto mo bang pumasok? May daan dito palabas.” “Wag kang maniwala sa kanya, masama iyan,” sabi ng lalaki sa berdeng
38

tarpaulin na nakasabit sa pinto ng isa. “Marami nang napahamak diyan, dito ka sa akin. Nandito ang hinahanap mo.” Pumupungay ang kanyang mga mata sa ilalim ng salamin habang sumasayaw ang kanyang mga kilay. Umaayon rin ang kanyang bigoteng nakaupo sa maliksi niyang bibig. Kung titilamsik lang ang laway sa labas ng tarpaulin, iisipin niyang binibendisyunan niya na ako. Hindi ko masyadong napakinggan ang kanyang mga sinabi, isang pangungusap lang ang tumatak sa akin mula sa mga sinabi niya, “Bibigyan kita ng buhay na walang hanggan.” “Maniwala ako sa’yo, peke kang pinto, gaya-gaya,” panunuya ng kerubin mula sa gintong pintuan na puno ng ukit. “Marami nang pumasok sa pintuang ito. Ito ang piliin mo, ako ang magbibigay sa iyo ng buhay na walang hanggan,” sabay-sabay na sambit ng Santo Trinidad. “Suriin mong maigi ang iyong pipiliin,” sabi ng pintong may intercom at CCTV camera. Kung probability ang pagbabatayan ko, ang bawat pinto ay may dalawang posibilidad—true or false. Kung dalawang pinto lang ang pagpipilian, meron akong apat na posibleng sagot. Ayon kay Ma’am Laguerta, yung posibility na tama yung papasukan ko ay 2 raised to the number of pinto na meron. So kung may sampung pinto, so multiply 2 to the 10th power, meron 1024 na posibilidad. Kasali na dun yung posibilidad na lahat ng pintong ito ay ang tamang pinto at lahat mali. Sampu palang yun. Haist! Aabutin ako ng siyamsiyam sa paghula kung alin ang tama sa kanila. Mahirap pumasok sa isang pintuan at hindi na makalabas, kaya kailangang swak ito sa sukat ko, kasi kung masyadong malaki ang pinto, mabigat ito, at hindi ko makayang itulak papalabas. Kung masyado namang
40

maliit ang pintuan baka hindi ako magkasya dito. Kaya kumuha ako ng papel, lapis at ruler at nagsimula akong magsukat. Maliban sa sukat, kailangang maayos rin ang itsura nito—detalyado ang disenyo, kapitapitagan na walang halong pambobola o panloloko. Kaya gumawa ako ng criteria for judging: 50% aesthetic appeal, 20% reliability and honesty, 20% originality and 10% audience impact na ako rin lang naman. “Bakit mo sinusukat ang mga pinto?” tanong ng isang boses. Lumingon ako pero wala akong nakitang nagsalita sa mga pinto. “Pinto ka rin ba?” tanong ko. “Ewan.” “Eh ano ka? Konsensya?” tanong ko. Walang sagot. Baka nga konsensya ko siya. “Magpakita ka. Bigyan mo ako ng safeguard.” “Andito ako,” Lumabas siya likod ng pinto sa harap ko. Punyemas! Hindi ikaw ang ang aking konsensya. Nakasuot ka ng spandex na bakat na bakat lahat ng bilbil mo sa katawan. Mukha kang galon ng mineral water! Nakasuot ka pa ng salamin na ninenok mo kay Boy Abunda. Halos kaedad ko lang si Boy Spandex. Yan na ang tawag ko sa kanya. Para siyang sealion na naligaw rin tulad ko sa kalawakang ito. Ano kayang natira nito at ganyan kung manamit? “Matagal na kitang pinagmasdan at nahihiwagaan ako sa ginagawa mo. Kanina ka pa nagsusukat at naglilista diyan. Bakit?” tanong niya. “Kasi gusto kong makasigurado,” sagot ko. “Makasigurado na ano?” Ang kulit ni kuya. “Na tama ang mapapasukan ko.” “Ano naman ang batayan mo sa pagsusukat? Sigurado ka bang tama yang
41

ruler mo?” “Naman! May English at Metric system kaya ito.” “Napakabias naman ng ruler mo! Masyadong western.” “Eh bakit ka nakikialam? Ito’ng gusto ko eh.” “Okay. Ikaw naman ang nagsusukat diyan.” Lumayu-layo siya at tumahimik nang nahalata niyang naiirita na ako sa kanya. Pero agad naman siyang bumalik at nagtanong muli. “Ano bang gusto mong pasukan?” “Gusto kong mapasukan yung pinakamatuwid at pinakamaganda.” Bigla siyang tumawa ng napakalakas. “Hindi naman kaya kabaong ang hinahanap mo?” “Hindi, ah!” inis kong sagot, “naniniwala lang kasi ako na isa sa mga pintong ito ang magdadala sa akin sa buhay na walang hanggan. Nang gumising ako sa kalawakang ito, wala akong ibang ginawa kundi maghanap ng labasan. Hanggang sa inalok nila ako ng buhay na iyon.” Medyo sumeryoso ang mukha niya. Nagmuni-muni siya ng konti at nagtanong. “Bakit mo hinahanap ang tamang pinto sa pagsusukat ng mga pinto at pintuan? Ayaw mo bang pumasok muna sa mga pintuan para malaman mo kung yun nga ang hinahanap mong pinto?” “Ayoko. Takot akong baka masarahan ng tuluyan sa loob ng isang pinto at dun na abutan ni kamatayan.” Natahimik si Boy Spandex. Matagal niya akong pinagmasdan. Bumalik ako sa aking pagsusukat. Maya-maya lumapit siya sakin at nagtanong, “P’ano ba sabihin sa wika ninyo ang salitang hello?”
43

ELEGY OF A THIRTEEN YEAR OLD ON THE GRAVE OF HER BELOVED
C. M. Mariano

You, with your bamboo gait and cheeks that cultivate pimples like mushrooms after a rain, with your hair like trimmed broomstick, eyes like flashlights with overused batteries, an under-grown squash for a nose and puffy, red-violet lips. Ah, we meet at last. Weren’t you the one who knocked on my door one bright sunny day, offering a covered picnic basket, beautiful, chequered cloth that cover is but lo! You almost choked my heart with grief when I unfurled the cloth and found a pie, shaped by your brash hands and sprinkled with green ipil-ipil leaves and pretty santan flowers, ah, that dark, dark pie of carabao feces. I asked you for chocolates but you gave me this? Weren’t you there last full moon too, perched on a guava tree whistling
44 Illustration Monique Cabais & Armando Sales III 45

a “Teach me How to Dougie” while the dogs in our backyard howl with pissed-off clarity because they thought you were forcing them to teach you something that even they know nothing about? They’re just dogs for god’s sake. But of course, you don’t understand. You came again last fortnight. Knock! Knock! “Who’s there?,” I asked. “Me,” you said. “What sour monsoon brought you to this part of the earth?,” I shot back. “Me who,” you yelled and laughed at my mistake. I slammed the door and hit your funny nose, squashing it a little flatter. You bawled and bawled, threatening to call the police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the China’s armada, even Adolf Hitler from the grave. I turned on the DVD and played “I Don’t Care” by 2NE1. “I don’t care eh eh eh eh eh. “I don’t care eh eh eh eh eh. “Boy I don’t care.” You left. The last time, you visited me in my dreams. You were showing me something—a bat, a broken plate, an empty sardine can with dried sauce (or was it blood?) at the edges, a bottle of half-spent gin and a thousand other things, most shapeless and indecipherable and freaky and...meaningful.
46

Yes, that too. That something which I couldn’t describe and couldn’t assign a name because you were the only one feeling it at that time. The last you conjured is a spaceship, a funny thing it is, round and multicolored and sparkling and looking every bit an invention that only someone with the ingenuity of a toad can build. You asked me to fly with you and may we scout the world and chase eagles and pluck their wings so that they can be less frightening and vulnerable and may we land on the moon and build our house there(an antigravity house, you said laughingly) with mosaic windows that capture the light of stars and roofs that store the sun’s energy so that we wouldn’t worry about electricity and could you wed me there, with the attendance of the Martians and the Star Trek crew and you begin offering a ring studded with Kryptonite crystals. I shouted No! And I woke. The night after, I visited your wake but missed (intentionally) the funeral. . . . . . Frankly, when you died, it was not the end of my world; but that doesn’t make me the happiest girl either.
47

THERE ARE NO PEOPLE LIKE ME, ONLY ME
John Leir Castro

It’s not what this story is primarily about, but I would like to tell you how the world came to an end. Well, “the world came to an end” is kind of stretching it, I suppose. It does feel that way to those of us who first knew. Let me correct that in a bit. In the movies they always gave ordinary people (farmers, bystanders, janitors, etc.) a chance to be heroes, however unlikely, however forced it seemed, however ridiculous the cause, by letting them save the day. Most people would’ve wanted to be heroes. Me? I’m lucky I’m not most people, or I would’ve been donning a cape now, running around these streets in tights with my underwear on top of my pants, shouting my catchphrase every chance I get. Or in the process of saving millions (without them realizing), I’d die with my own melancholic background music. there are places I remember / all my life / though some have changed some forever, not for better / some have gone / and some remain That was how it was in the movies. Either way, I really am just lucky. The madman took a banana peel from one of the eco-friendly bins and threw
48 49 Illustrations K.M. Esperanza & Jill Irene Rhode

it across the street. That day was a cold Friday morning, but the holes on his greasy coat didn’t seem to be there. He laughed. Perhaps he found it amusing that he didn’t feel cold at all. The wind seemed like an old friend. Or he might’ve been imagining someone tripping over his banana prank. He laughed again. He was the first to know. deck the halls with boughs of holly / tralala-la-la-lala-la-la ‘tis the season to be jolly / tralala-la-la-lala-la-la He lifted his tattered cardboard high over his head, and laughed some more. That day was really cold, but he knew it was going to be different. The beginning of the end wasn’t as flashy as most movies made it to be. No cosmic explosions, zombie outbreaks, or weird interstellar phenomena, nothing of the sort. I personally think it was better that way, no matter how violent you might’ve disagreed. We ended. The world didn’t. We’re not the world. It’s just the same as saying that the ants are not the anthill, which is indubitable in the strictest sense, even though some of you would’ve thought that kicking an anthill would kill the ants. If that was what had happened, then most of the ants would’ve still found a way to survive and start a colony elsewhere, on another mound, probably. Jill pulled her pillow from between her thighs and into her face. She shut her eyes tight and kept her feet warm by rubbing them against each other. It was
50

freezing, and she didn’t feel like going to school—her mom called from downstairs minutes ago, and she had politely but firmly refused to prepare. She was slowly drifting to sleep, was starting to have a nice dream too, some realization of her teenage fantasy, when she heard someone laugh—quite happy, sometimes singing, “tralala-la-la-lala-la-la!”—from just outside her bedroom window. It couldn’t have been Santa. It was almost four days too early. “Hey, stop that racket!” She wanted to shout. She tried. She couldn’t. Jill opened her mouth a second time, a third time, a futile fourth, before her eyes finally opened in horror at the loss of her own voice, in its place a whimper. From across the street, the laugh continued. “God is a mean kid with a magnifying glass...” This line, if I recall correctly, was from a movie where the main character ( Jim Carrey?) was really frustrated with God (Freeman!) because he was being a disaster magnet. I didn’t really care about God, still don’t, but I couldn’t help but wonder if he just wasn’t doing his job, or just got tired with people, because
51

I know it’s easy to get tired of people, especially if they keep on kissing your feet. Well, if he really had a magnifying glass, it must’ve had a teeny-tiny hole, and I was lucky because I was exactly under that hole. Clearly, it isn’t fun to be ants, but it really wasn’t fun for us too. Mr. Pearson secretly despised his life. To walk his Rottweiler early morning— and a cold Friday to boot—had always been a drag for him. He never liked the dog, and being a major stockholder of a big company he shouldn’t have to wake up at 5:00 AM, but his wife insisted on it. It was her gift for his birthday last year. That only made him hate it even more. He was sure it was his wife’s idea of torture, as if living with a domineering woman wasn’t enough. The dog was gnawing on something. Mr. Pearson let it be. He felt envy towards the animal, and his head ached—someone, from across the street, was laughing at him, singing him songs, Christmas-y. He was hungry, drooling. Not for ham, or pasta, or even a sandwich. He knelt down, hands on the ground. In his fast-blurring vision, he saw a man in a greasy coat waving a cardboard. Mr. Pearson couldn’t read the words on it, not at all. But that didn’t matter because his food, gnawing a banana peel, was there. You could say it would’ve been nice for anyone to have done something, if they knew. Not me. I’m okay—just okay—with how things unfolded. Not the others, they didn’t watch movies as much as I did.
52

Could I have made a difference? Good question. I’m here, writing this, but I’m not sure if there’s still anyone left who can read it. When we ended, I was unimpressed. Sure, I witnessed a man biting his own dog. That was hilarious. I saw a girl jump from her window. She opened her mouth to scream, but all she managed to produce was a growl. That was funny too. From there onwards, everyone started to slip. But I knew it would happen, sooner or later. Don’t ask why it happened, because I don’t know either— although I thought, just maybe, these people didn’t see a banana peel in their way. This is a story, not about ants or heroes, but people like me. It is also about that day nobody seems to remember anymore, but it is first and foremost a story about people like me, who did remember that cold Friday, when the rest of you did not. One day, and it’s a year now. I can still write, I can still laugh, and my cardboard is still in tatters. 20 December 2013

53

AN MGA MAKINITO
Irmina Volante-Torres

Subago pang pabirik-birik si Pay Ebyo sa saiyang payag na erokan. Minatuwad nin tuda, minatanos na arog sa segundo sa pamayuhan, kapot an piad. Aban-aban mataririk na garo may pighahanap sa mga tambak na mga karton sa may kanto. Iduduta an palad sa angog, nag-iisip. An pagpilingpiling kan payo ako an kamugtakan dara kan edad. Napako an hiling sa mga palad. Saro-saro na naman na pinipildit an mga kubal, kukurukitkiton kan kuko. Daing pagbasul sa kalipungawan sa mga dating urag kan hawak. May pagkasutil na minapaibabaw sa isip an parating surubahan kan mga pagiriba. “Igwa pa!”, an parati niyang nagigirumduman, dangan, naghiling sa biroli. An sabi, “Maputulan man daa nin sarong bitis an amamatak malakaw ta malakaw ini basta may tada pang kamandag.” Dagos nang nagpaturotaghoy dangan pinuropakarhay an natatadang buhok sa palibot kan payo. Nagin daing pakilabot si Pay Ebyo kun an sangaw na turutaghoy o an ragsip kan dikit pang mapano na pig-ooroataman na plastik an nagpurisaw sa kino na nahiling niyang buminutwa sa irarom kan katre. Nakipagturuhukan na naman ini saiya asin nagrani sa puting supot na garo gustong ukudan an nakasurat puon sa pulang M dangan sa maludas na ry. Dali-daling ibinikyaw ni Pay Ebyo an kamot, kuyom an subagong nakausling ngudoy. Nagin dayupot na siya sa laganan orog pa ta nakalaag digdi an rektanggulong balunan kun sain nakahutad sa ibabaw kan maluto an pritos na sapsap, pinamahawan an saro tanganing pangudtuhan man an saro. Dagdag pa an duwang nakaburibod na lastiko, gakod na sa pagkamidbid saiya kan mga amigo.

54

55

Illustration Paulo Papa

Kan kinapkap an mga butones kan “Trobinays” sa atubangan kan salming, matador na nagpatara-tagilid, nagsarasalingoy saka binukasan an biroli tanganing isuksok an laylayan. Napa-Tsa! kan batonon an pantalon ta nalingawan na naman bakalun an paha na haloy nang pinaplano. Dai niya masiguro kun kasoudma ito o kan sarong aldaw pa sana an pagtangro saiya kan paratindang Muslim bitbit an mga “leather” daang pitaka, paha, laganan nin cellphone. Kan panahon kayang ito dai naglaog sa isip niya an pangangaipo kaya an bergitas na madali pang makaabot sa tikab pigtiyagaan na puropakarhayon tanganing dai mahiling sa irarom kan laylayan na panitaas. Risa an kaogmahan sa mata kan agihan nin sarong hiling an sadiri puon sa may daghan paibaba. Kaagid sa pantalon an garo bagong rir-rihon na baybay na Crocks. “Sabagay, pariho an bitis mi ni Onyok.”- napataas an abagang pirit na nagkirikintid. Pagmati niya, siya si Don Pedro. Ay, si Don Pedro, an pigkakautangan niyang maray. Utang niya ki Don Pedro an “urag” niya, sabi ninda, sa mga pagdisenyo kan mga muwebles, kan dakul pa an mga kahoy na nakukua sa itaas. Makwarta siya, sinda, kan mga panahon, hasta nagdikit-dikit na an naghahatod kan mga kahoy, nagin mahal pa dawa dakul an “orders”. Kaya kan manambitan ni Don Pedro an manungod sa pagretiro sa negosyo, dagos nang napara sa mga negosyo ni Don Pedro an Pedring Furnitures. Nagin dahilan man ini sa dikit-dikit na pagkawara kan saiyang mga dating amigo. Sa arog kaining sitwasyon, namumungnan si Pay Ebyo. Napaturuhok sa kwadro na nakalaag sa ibabaw kan pag-ultanan kan duwang iskaparate.
56

Mandikit na poropakarhayon an mga saradit na kwadro kairiba kan iba pang durudakulang kwadro, kan Verbina, mga lumang sensilyo, sadit na Johnson’s Baby oil, Petrolium Jelly, labaha, mga nakarolyong kalindaryo. Dai niya nalingawan na hilot-hiluton an mga kanto kan mga ribon, mga sertipiko na may kataid na mga ritrato kan aking lalaki, an darag na diploma. “Kagawaran ng Edukasyon at Kultura, Ateneo de Naga College, Katunayan”. Inagihan kan saiyang mata an mapalabor-labor na mga letra, saka binalikan an nakalaag na pangaran, “Eusebio Vargas Jr.” - 1996. Inagihan man kan saiyang mata an babayi sa ritrato, an saiyang si Salvacion saka hiniling an tsinelas, dangan nabutasan an garo hinghing na, “Onyok!”, “Basyon!”. Dakul an gusto niyang ipasabot ki Onyok, sa saiyang si Basyon - “Dai na sana mahahaloy.”, an sabi sa sadiri. Dai nadangog ni Pay Ebyo an pag-aragi kan mga tawo sa luwas kan harong kun bako sa pagbatok kan mga ido. Kan kinapkap an pitaka sa likod kan pontalon asin isinuksok an mapanas na sukray dagos an saiyang pagluwas bitbit an maragsip na plastik, bitbit an mga lalawgon na nasa kwadro. Mabuot an saiyang aki ta kinuyog an paghagad niya kan “Trobinays” mala ngani ta igwa pang kaibang Crocks imbes na sapatos, ta iyo daa ini an uso, sabi sa surat na nakalaag sa plastik na may LBC. Arog ki Pay Ebyo, poon na man na nag-arabutan an mga tawong pigkokonsiderar niyang natatadang amigo. Marhay an mga postura dawa igwang nagkikiay-kiay alagad mabaskog pa an pagmati. An nakasugkod matabil pa man giraray dawa likay na dai
57

magtalsik an pustiso. An sid-sid, yaon an pagmawot na mayong mapalihis sa orolay. An kada magdangadang, dai mapara an mga kaogmahan. Mapoon sa pagkurumustahan alagad matatapos an orolay sa kaosmakan. “Daog pa nindo an mga kalinturadong ikos sa atop sa kausmakan!” - an sabi kan mga nakakamidbid sa mga surubahan kan mag-aramigo alagad yaon an konswelo sa tono. “Bayai na Manay ta “oral sex” na man daa sana yan. Abot sa taram na man sana ngani!” - madadangog an simbag sa kun siisay dangan masurunod an garo mayo nang katapusan na surubahan. Ining napunan na gawi dai natatapos sa aroaldaw na paghirilingan. Ini daing ontok na madadangog na makusog sa laog kan payag-payag ni padi nindang Elix. Magkaaratubangan na may igot na mamansayan an metros tanganing tama an sukol, kan laba. Igwa man an naghihilot dawa garatok na an ugat sa takyag tanganing magtanos. Igwa man nagkakaros tanganing malinig alagad likay na maipreserbar an kolor. Yaon man an nagpapatagas kan gibo. Igwa man nagtatarabang-tabang maghimas-himas tanganing maging pusog an tindog. An kada paglaog na tama sa mga labot dawa ngani nagkikibig-kibig na an kamot, habo akuon na palyado na an mata. An patuwad-tuwad na pagpili kan mga marhay na klase nagtao nin kosog boot na sinda may pakinabang pa man. Makonswelong paghilingon an mga mag-aramigong siribot-sibut na pigsasaboot an ginigiribo. Nawawara an nagkakapirang kagul-kol sa dedikasyon na makagibo nin mga pandekorasyon, kan mga muwebles na gibo sa nito bago pa abuton kan pagtugak kan isip, sabi ninda, siring kan dagos-dagos nang pagwara kan paggibo kaini.
58

Siisay baya an mahuna na an mga duyan na nakalaag sa inotan gibo sa nito. Sa tuo yaon man an mga pinapabakal na mga nitong tukawan, mga butaka, kun sain an makuapo ni Pading Elix nagtutungka. An ragitnit, pampanaoknok sa nagpoponga-pongang payo. Maugma si Pay Ebyo sa pagiriba, mga maki-nito daa sinda. Tibaad lamang dagos-dagos na ining kaugmahan, kaiba an pagpatawad saiya ni Onyok, ini an naglaog sa isip ni Pay Ebyo. Aminado siya na dai niya na maibabalik an mga naka-agi: an baskog kan saiyang bulsa na dai niya namangnuhan kun kasuarin nagpuon an paghimpis sa wala-tuong babayi, arak, sugal. Hay! Patawad Basyon. Patawad ta dai mo ako nahalat. Dai nagpamalisya sa mga amigo si Pay Ebyo sa garo ponsadang nagdalagan kun sain sa saiyang daghan, kan pagrumdum sa surat, na arog kan mga nakaagi dai na niya hinuhuna, kaiba an Crocks. “Dai na nanggad mahahaloy pagkatapos kan sampulo? Kinse?, aaaa, dai na siya labot kun pirang taon na paghalat, sa aga, maabot an saiyang si Onyok.” - an sabi ni Pay Ebyo sa sadiri, na igot an paghigot kan nagtutugak na nito.

59

Ken Brian Esperanza

PAKIUSAP

Isa na lamang tanawin ang karagatang nais lakbayin — tanawin sa labas ng rehas na de salamin. Naaagnas na ang pintura ng mga pader ng seldang kinalalagyan, pati na ang amoy ng Green Cross na dumikit sa mga dingding. Kalawangin na ang rehas at nakatigil ang mga kamay ng orasan sa alas-tres. Mga alon na lang ang pumapatay sa katahimikan. Mapanguyam ang liwanag ng araw na tinutusok ang aking mga mata. Patuloy ang paggalaw ng mundo, habang sa bakal na kabaong nakahimlay ang katawang nangangalay at mahigpit na iginigapos ng kadena ang namamahid na mga kamay. Sa gabi… mas madalas pa ang pagpatay ng bumbilya kaysa sa pagkurap ng aking mata. Gusto ko nang magpahinga… Paki-patay ang ilaw. Paki-patay.
60 Photography Ken Brian Esperanza 61

AMBO-ATO
Ahj Eufracio

16 December Verses gather a few inches above my head like flies from 6 o’clock in the evening. Today is the 16th day of December or so I often call it the season of 4:30s. At the moment, I am trotting my way towards the ruins of the old house imagining that someone is writing a story about me and the old house. I remember when I was still three decades younger, Nana Ysolde, my father’s mother, gave a trivia that the old house where I used to play is made of Yakal and Narra. My memory shows me old photographs of women, of a little boy wearing a uniform akin to a naval officer, a family portrait where everyone is painted with a serious face except for the baby in the woman’s arms who is smiling, and in an isolated corner, a photograph of a man who is sitting on a porch. The interior of the old house is still clear. Thirteen steps straight from the front door, a hole in the wooden floor awaits like a trap for weary wanderers, restless children, and the like. From the point where that hole is, look at your right and you will see sylvan chairs and tables, and
62 Illustrations Pen Prestado 63

a marooned rattan chair. A large window welcomes the wind and an empty vase rests against the window’s scuncheon. If you turn your head to your left, an enfilade that keeps a few mementos such as the wooden piano and a cabinet will stir your curiosity. A dining table with four chairs suggests that what is adjacent to the enfilade is a kitchen once. It is almost 6 o’clock in the morning and I am humming random music from different decades while sitting against a wall in the ruins of the old house. Suddenly, I can hear the para-taho’s and para-kalamay’s song from afar. I fumble for my wallet inside my yellow knapsack. Alas! Coins. I choose the 10 peso cup of taho. Have you ever experienced the trance brought by the food that you have last eaten with childhood friends? If you have never experienced it, try to look for Bazooka bubble gum. This is just a suggestion from a woman who has just left February, with or without the leap day. I am warning you though, if the well for your tears is not deep enough, eat Bazooka bubble gum where no one can see you. Like perfumes, songs, and other things intimate with the senses, food flavors the memories that time has made bland− for me, at least. I play with the taste of caramel in my tongue flirting with the soft soya and the jelly-like sago that I usually eat last when I was still someone’s little daughter. Taho is always fun to sip when it is still warm like the climate that one fine day with Ñeñe and Ping. We enjoy taho while waiting for the others then we will head our way to someone’s house to play. This is torture if you want me to name the feeling but the kind of torture that brings forth frozen tears. My well is not deep but the climate gets so cold, too cold. It reminds me, once again, of Nana Ysolde.
64

“Santa Claus wears thick clothes because it is cold during December. When you get a little older, you will wear thicker clothes, not because it is December, but because it will feel so cold. When that time comes, try reading books, or do some random acts of kindness, but never forget that tears brew with truth. You have to face the truth. Running away might serve you years of comfort but your life will not be merely about years. I am telling you this because I love you.” My grandmother is fond of saying stuff that sounds nice, so nice that it takes years to understand how the sound can make the meaning no less painful. Tomorrow, I will be visiting this place again. But wait, when did the rattan chair… Ambo ato, kay gali gali gato. Who is your like, kay gali gali gato-19 December Dumbstruck, I look at the place where I ate taho four days ago. I am not ignorant when it comes to constructing houses. If it is possible that the ruins have become a jigsaw puzzle trying to fit its pieces back together, I need to message my friend who is currently working as a resident psychologist in one of the centers for women. Here is a short summary of the things that I told her. “I am nostalgic alright but I am a hundred percent certain that nostalgia does not bring some old house’s ruins back to life literally! Something is
65

quite off. What the hell is going on with me? Damn it. I know that this is freakish but at first, the walls came back. I would always visit the ruins after every Misa de Gallo and it is impossible for a man to build it exactly like how it was then in just a span of two days! The weird thing is that after the walls, the chairs are one by one appearing like mushrooms. I don’t know. I don’t even take drugs. I am not even drunk.” And what my friend told me… “Can we meet? I need to talk with you in flesh.” Eunice is a very kind woman. However, it is not possible to meet her at the moment. She is in Manila. I will be staying here in Bicol until the first week of January. If only Nana Ysolde is still alive. I am currently sitting under the shade of the Talisay while looking at the thing I can no longer call ruins. Smothering a yawn, a paper plane caught my attention. I pick it up and try to turn it back into a flat, white paper, which is not really that white anymore. There is a drawing of a tree with a girl sitting under it, holding an umbrella at her left hand. The drawing is familiar. If truth be told, I am here, on a vacation, to take a rest and forget my age. Clouds are moving like ballerinas from Steps Dance Studio and I want to ask them if they could see what I am seeing. I have fixed my eyes at the old house by the time I became certain that I do not want the clouds to talk back. A series of cold-warm-cold-warm-cold-warm breeze pass by. I want to lie in the grass. My eyes are tired for no reason at all. The wind brings voices of children playing. I can tell that most of them are girls but there are boys as well.
66

Ah! Childhood, it is a different world. I often ask Nana Ysolde if growing up, having a job, getting married, and having kids will make someone happy. She always smiles before giving a reply. She held my hand and simply said, “It might and it might not.” “Yolanda. Yolanda. Wake up.” As I open my eyes, the woman who owns a store near our house is looking at me. “It is almost 7 o’clock in the morning. I was thinking if I will wake you up or just leave you be because I know that this is your favorite spot to cool things down since you were little but you started panting while your eyes are closed.” From the looks of Tiya Maria, I can sense that she sees me still as a child. I have nothing against it. In fact, it feels nice. “Thanks. Perhaps I’m having a nightmare.” Together, we walk our way back home. She tells me that her son got married last year and the dog that used to play with me vanished when her youngest daughter died of cancer. A few years later, a puppy found its way to their store and that puppy which she named Pompoms, a very playful golden brown dog now, still lives with Tiya Maria and her husband. I glance back at the old house, smiling as if the old house is smiling back at me. 21 December Three days from now, Christmas begins. I wake up at 3:45 am to have a quick shower to be early for the Misa de Gallo. They say that if you complete the nine days of Misa de Gallo, your wish will come true. I call this crap because some wishes are not meant to be granted− like traveling back in time
67

to warn my parents that they should cancel their trip to Davao because a typhoon will kill them. Sometimes, I get myself to think that should my wish to have Nana Ysolde and my parents back come true, the consequence could be my death. Losing both my parents at once and Nana Ysolde after five years has made it clear that life and death leans on each other’s back like best of friends. I am looking at the talisay then the old house. Today, I choose to just watch the place from afar. Sounds from vehicles huddle with voices from people, young and old while a pack of dogs blocks the driveway of whoever owns the only house in the street with a purple gate. The cold, busy morning invites me for coffee, badi, and fried rice with garlic flakes. These familiar faces smiling at me on my way to the store that sells badi, are no longer from my childhood. They are the strangers who might only know me by name, not by my story, or vice versa. I smile back at them all the same. 23 December The mass has ended a little early than expected hence, I have decided to read The Adventures of Peter Pan. I have bought the handy version from National Bookstore last year. Today is the perfect day to visit fairies, and mermaids, and a pirate afraid of crocodiles. The talisay greets me through the leaves dancing with the wind. It feels less lonely when I make myself believe that the talisay is my buddy. Sitting down and finding the comfort to begin reading, I choose to play a game with myself first. The game goes this way. I will flip the book into some random page and write the first sentence. Here is what I got: “Odd things happen to all of us on our way
68 69

through life without our noticing for a time that they have happened, p. 149.” Barrie is right. While reading, I am reminded of the good old days. I remember Ñeñe, Ping, and I love to ride a bike, and tour ourselves around the quiet city. Sometimes, we get the company of our classmates; other times, of the people living near Ping’s street. The vivid pictures of the places where we have been are slowly taking shape in my mind. The rocky path going to Queboarc is filled with wild grass and I always need to get off my bike and bring it to a flatter surface. There is also that one night when the three of us are on our way home. Ping and I are walking while Ñeñe keeps a slow pace using her bicycle when a Doberman, along P.Santos, blocked our way. Our parents, I believe, are already practicing their sermons because it is almost 9 o’clock in the evening and three grade-schoolers are still wandering under the vast black heavens. The only choice we have is the long way because the Doberman looks so serious. We collectively decide to receive sermons than risk our precious lives to rabies.

fingers have begun to feel cold, perhaps with excitement. I feel the breeze coming in through the window and I decide to sit at the rattan chair and think of myself as the preschooler who used to pretend that she is the Lola Basyang of her play group. My playmates slowly gather. Some choose the sylvan chairs while the others prefer the wooden floor. From the archives in my memory, I recall this story I made up− There was once a girl named Autumn who insisted to her papa that mirrors are not merely mirrors. She said that a mirror is a river that disguises itself as glass because it will only show its true form to the person who can unite the past, present, and future. If that person comes, the mirror will become the water that no human has ever drank, or felt before. It is akin to the wind but it is visible, even stellar. You will feel that you flow with it but you will not drown even if you know nothing about swimming. It is a river but you will not get wet… −and instead of and they lived happily ever after, I will end the story session with: “And now, we eat the magic dilimon. One color for each.” The house is almost done. Almost.
71

“I’ll be hoooooome for Christmas. You can count on me.” If it is the leaves rustling in the tune of the Christmas song from someone’s house I do not know. I feel that my buttocks need a rest from sitting down. I slowly lift my body with an involuntary assistance from the talisay and my feet pace towards the mysterious old house. My fear from four days ago has condensed itself with the season and precipitated as awe. I enter the door and remember where the hole is, the enfilade, the photographs. My
70

My cellphone is ringing. “Dandy, have you received my text messages?” 24 December I feel cold but this is not the kind of cold that will drive me to read a book or do some act of kindness, as what Nana Ysolde said. Lights flicker across the streets and people, as early as 6 o’clock in the morning, strides here and there. Some wears a busy look while most of them are groups who share their laughter to greet the morning with happy vibes. A woman wearing a white sweater and slim fit denim holds hand with a man who looks really happy beside her. It has to remind me of someone but I wonder what waking up made me forgot. All I can think about are the gifts under our Christmas tree from long time ago, Nana Ysolde’s mix of salabat, the candy cane that ended my milk tooth’s life, Christmas parties in our school, and the like. My daydreaming of Christmas from long time ago has become a shortcut to the old house. Suddenly, my legs cannot move. The old house looks so new even if it is old. There are children playing all around the place. A tall woman with a beautiful smile that reminds me of Carey Mulligan is carrying a tray with a big plate of biscuits and a boy, who is familiar, is carrying a pitcher of juice. The two of them have arrived from somewhere I am not certain but near the old house.
72

“Yolanda!” A voice from a little girl calls my name. I turn around and wonder why she seem to be some inches taller than me. She is just a girl. I look up the sky with squinting eyes. The sun is happy today. The clouds are like cotton balls this time. I look at her again and she is holding an umbrella. “Let us play ambo ato! Yolanda! Ñe! Come in here!” A boy calls us. He is not the one holding the pitcher but he is more familiar. It is so hard for me to ask. I utter a word anyway. “Ping?” The old house looks sturdier than before. I want to believe that this is just a dream but my body feels so alive yet at the back of my mind, I know that I am just on vacation. Little by little, I start recognizing the faces, the names. “You are here.” A voice and a pat on my shoulder make it all more unfathomable. “Nana Ysolde?” I try to reach for her hand. She pats my head. “Go on and play.” I feel my heart pumping a million beats. I am neither happy nor sad. It is just that, this is no longer my world. Or is it? --I like Yolanda kay gali gali gato…

73

74

And then there was...?

ALA

ATENEO LITERARY ASSOCIATION

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful