What Happened in El Mañana (Part 2)

Fiction by | February 12, 2023

Not an ounce of hesitation was heard from Bri. Lyn was taken aback. I could tell by how her eye twitched for a split second. By now, I had mastered reading the most subtle cues in Lyn’s body language to avoid misunderstandings.

“You didn’t tell me Joey was a girl.”

“My bad.” Bri rested her head on Joey’s shoulder’s. “But does it really matter, ma?”

“W-well…” Lyn stuttered. It was astonishing to witness; I thought nothing could faze her. “I’m just shocked, that’s all.”

In all honesty, I was, too. But Bri looked happy. Personally, I think I was happier because they looked cute together.

“That’s exactly why I brought her here,” Bri said. “So you could finally meet her.”

“Mano po, tita,” Joey said.

“Kuya, are you lost? This isn’t your kubo,” Bri said, only looking at me after saying so and for a moment. I choked on my embarrassment. I was at a loss for words so I looked at Lyn for rescue and she saw the perfect segue. Lyn, this could be the perfect time to tell her.

“Yang, ay, Bri diay. Remember Buddy? He’s the–” Bri interrupted with the most time-killing “-Hmm”- I have ever heard, along with her continuous nod while looking at me from head to toe. She took some time looking at my toes before letting out a smirk after a quick sigh. Thankfully, I had trimmed my toenails before going to the resort.

“Makes sense,” she said when she finally stopped piercing me with her dead stare to reach for the tray full of lumpia. What the heck did she mean by that?

 She took a bite of the lumpia and double-dipped to offer Joey a bite. “I never would have pegged you for a jesus flops kind of guy.”

I did not like Bri very much. Not because of what she said about my flops but because of her double-dipping. But I had to earn her trust so I was willing to postpone my disgust.

Bri proceeded to stand directly in front of me. “What are you? Like a 5’6?”

Wow. It had just become apparent to me that crushing egos run in their family. Sure, I was not the tallest, but I was not that short either. Bri was just unfortunately taller than me. I could not get over how Bri went for my height but I felt like I had to say something.

So I said, “Grilled bangus.”

Could I have been any dumber? Lyn went to save the dying conversation by offering the girls with paper plates.

“I bet you skipped lunch. You must be starving!” Lyn opened each Tupperware container to reveal all the food she had prepared earlier that morning. I could see Joey’s delight in her eyes. She must be a foodie like me. I wish I could say the same about Bri.

There were lumpiang shanghai, adobong manok, pancit, coffee jelly, mangoes,  chicken lollipops, cassava cake, basically everything Bri used to love was set at our table. Lyn has excellent taste. That was why I recommended her to be our office cook. And that was also why I was her guy. She had been begging Bri for weeks to come home to her but Bri would always decline with a string of excuses.

“Maybe later, ma. Your lumpia went soggy na,” Bri said as she scanned the array of food prepared for her. She must be kidding me. “And this is just too much. I feel bad.”

Lyn looked down at the sand before answering. “Oh, I just wanted to prepare your favorites. You must have missed them for sure.”

“You really didn’t have to,” Bri said. “ But I don’t want to eat just because I feel bad.”

“No prob,” Lyn had to swallow a lump on her throat. “It’s not like I made these, we, we, I only got it from a paluwagan. Yep. Just a food bundle.”

I know for a fact that was not true. Lyn had been saving all a month’s worth of salary just so Bri could feast. She would stick to isaw and pastil to save when she could not eat a portion from what she cooks in our office. She had to go to the merkado at dawn so we prepared everything on time. I was only her personal lifter and kitchen assistant but even I was tired. I could only imagine how defeated Lyn was feeling. Extending my patience and trying to understand Bri’s cold shoulder was becoming a challenge to me. I was jealous that Lyn did not get me anything for my birthday last week because she was saving up for this. I did not understand what Lyn could have possibly done to deserve that treatment. And whatever it must be, Lyn’s still her mother after all. A sufficient amount of pleasantries would have just made her mother happy. I would be happy if she cooked me just any one of those meals.

“We’re going to roam around, ma, take pictures,” Bri said walking away, avoiding  Lyn’s eyes. Joey took out a polaroid camera out of her bag. Before heading out, she grabbed herself a cup of coffee jelly.

“Tita, I’d have some of this, if you don’t mind. I’ve been craving for this po kasi,” Joey said to my Lyn, who could not look away from the sand she was kicking as she swung her legs to and fro. Her breaths grow sharper. A few seconds later, Bri called out for Joey so she left the kubo without waiting for Lyn’s reply. When we were left alone, I moved closer to her seat.

“Uy,” I said, trying to lighten up her mood.

I recalled why Bri became distant toward Lyn. Something about Lyn being a one-day millionaire and almost using up all of Bri’s college fund on Lyn’s 4Oth birthday. I met Lyn there so if you’d ask me, I’d say it was money well spent. It must have been a different case to Bri that she was that aloof.

“She really is your daughter ha.” I poked the side of her belly trying to imitate Bri. “Feisty. Hmmm!”

Lyn burst out laughing. She was quite loud, she hit me a few times. I did not expect I’d be that funny but I ended up imitating Bri more- dragging the vowels as she did. “I’m Bri now. BRI.”

Times like that hit me with a brick. Shit. I was so head-over-heels with the woman in front of me. Not even when she had those vacuum laughs. Lyn’s birthday was the 31st of December which made it easy for me to have a free meal that night. I was helping myself with Lyn’s mango graham when I noticed she was killing it on Celine Dion’s “I Love You Goodbye” in the videoke. Her every note was tickling my eardrums and I was not even a Celine Dion fan. That caught my attention. But what drew her to me more was how she let out her vacuum laugh when her voice cracked at the very last note. I thought, if I could make her laugh like that all the time, I’d be happy too.

“Earth to Buddy, Earth to Buddy.” Lyn joked as she pinched my nose. My perfect, slightly disappointed nose. “If you could stop daydreaming about me for a second, I have a teen daughter bringing her girlfriend situation here.”

“How could I if every day I’m dream girl?” I could see her blush.

“Bud, I’m serious,” she said. “I don’t know how to talk to her.”

“But you are,” I said, “talking to her.”

She leaned on the chair. “No, but really talk to her, you know?” she asked. “Like I used to.”

“What’s stopping you?” I asked.

“Well, for one, I don’t want to offend her,” she said. “Girlfriend, boyfriend, I don’t really care about it. We’re–”

“Just on different vibrations.” I helped her find the words.

“Exactly.” She started stress-eating the chicken lollipops. I got stressed looking at her maneuvering those with a plastic sfork.

“Give me that.” I snatched it from her plate and started feeding it to her. I knew she hated having greasy hands.

To be continued…



Princess “Preng” Arguelles is a twenty-something Creative Writing major at the University of the Philippines Mindanao. She attempts to capture reality-based ordeals in her fiction.

What Happened in El Mañana (Part 1)

Fiction by | February 6, 2023

I could never understand why anyone would love feeling sand between their toes. That tickly sticky sensation stuck in the middle of the toes and those lingering stubborn bits forcing its way into my ingrown. This is why I’d never walk on beaches barefooted.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a strong believer of beach trips supremacy. Especially here in El Mañana. Think about it. No corkage fees. Crystal clear water. No algae build up, not a single random urchin to stab my feet, no yellow submarines creeping at you out of nowhere when you’re swimming about. It’s nothing short of a remote paradise.

 The first time I went here was for work. Back when almost all of their kubo was termite-infested. An El Mañana problem that would occasionally garnish their visitors’ precious handa with wood dust and feast on any unfortunate thigh that would sit on them. Good thing, your boy, Buddy, is a master termite-nator. Because of me, El Mañana became pest-free once again.

I should also tell you how El Mañana went viral for its breathtaking sunset view. I longed to watch it for quite some time now but I thought sunsets are too magnificent to be enjoyed alone. So I promised myself I’d come back here with someone I’d watch the sunset with. The one who won’t be gone by sunrise. I have to admit, I was pretty desperate in fulfilling that promise, I had been here with several women my age. But none of them to share the sunset with, really. It was always either raining, or the woman I was with just was not cut out for my Buddy romance, or the vibe was completely off. But I am not giving up on that quest yet. Which was why when Lyn asked for resort recommendations to treat her teenage daughter, Brianna, El Mañana easily came up to mind.

I had only been seeing Lyn for a couple of months and I must admit, our thing not being official yet was quite a sore spot. More than her ex-husband finding out, she was too worried any relationship she’d have would just be another reason for Brianna to pull farther away from her. So against my better judgment and pride, I settled with the title of a suitor. A single mom’s suitor, at that.

Initially, Lyn wanted her and Brianna’s reunion to be just the two of them but I insisted on going with. I told her I could help with the heavy lifting, earning discounts with the fees, and who wouldn’t want a macho gwapito like me as a beach chaperon, right? But if I were being honest, I wanted to meet Brianna in person. Perhaps, this way, I could charm her into giving her blessing and I could finally truly be someone’s person. Lyn’s, preferably. I was growing impatient with what Brianna called, “a whatevership.”

I was grilling the bangus Lyn marinated the night before while she was anxiously fanning our food from flies while waiting for Brianna’s arrival. I can tell she’s agitated. The signal in the resort was spotty and the unconscious lip biting gave it away. That, and the fact that she had not seen her daughter for almost a year because Brianna chose to study in a university miles away from her mother out of spite. But there was something about the way the seabreeze blew Lyn’s yellow summer dress, her wavy copper hair brushing against her face, and her tucking her hair over her ears as she sported those sunglasses bigger than her sun-kissed cheeks. She was stunning even at 42.

The sight of her distracted me from the distress knowing that I had no indicator whether or not this bangus was cooking as it should be. Lyn had told me peeking through the foil cover would make all the moisture from the bangus escape so I was trying my hardest not to do so. Brianna liked the bangus juicy filled with ripe tomatoes, diced onions, ginger, and a bundled tanglad. It took me quite a while to keep the charcoal burning, but I managed by fanning every now and then. That was the good thing about Brianna being almost an hour past merienda late; she would not see me struggle with grilling her favorite dish. When I thought the bangus was good to go, I hurriedly sprinted to our kubo while juggling the hot bangus when a woman dashed to the step, her elbow striking the bangus to the sand.

“Yang!” Ah, so this was Brianna.

“I’m sorry, you didn’t think to put that on a plate,” Bri said.

Was that even an apology? Wow! She was really Lyn’s kid. Lyn approached her with an embrace when she swerved to the side to put her bags down. Lyn’s attempt for a hug landed as mere shoulder strokes. Brianna asked to bless from Lyn’s hand instead. Although I only saw her in pictures, her hair used to be raven black, not blonde. And she did not have pin cushions for ears. Even so, it must be awkward for them to meet after such a long time.

“Don’t call me Yang now, ma,” she said as she sprung back up again, flipping her hair up, and finally tying it together. “I go by Bri now.”

I have to say, although I did expect the two’s physical resemblance, their sassiness was uncanny. While Yangyang, or shall I say, Bri took a good long while before sitting to complain about how long the drive was to enter the resort, I quietly picked the bangus. I placed it on the table first, peeling off the foil before putting the fish on a foil tray. Good thing it was sealed or else Bri would have wasted my effort grilling her favorite dish. I tried my best not to interrupt their conversation because I was quite curious whether Lyn would introduce me to Bri or not. And if she did, what would she introduce me as.

“You did not have to spend this much for a vacation, ma. We could have just stayed home. Could we afford it?” Bri asked as she applied sunscreen.

As far as I’m concerned, the entrance fee for the three of us was already included with the kubo, which I had already settled on when I booked the resort exclusively. I just knew Lyn would ask, “It was Buddy’s treat! Why did they ask you to pay? That guard rea–”

Before Lyn could full-on complain, another woman entered our kubo carrying a box full of Soju with a pink ribbon bow.

“You didn’t have to,” I said to the woman thinking she was El Manaña’s new manager. I did not know when El Manaña began welcoming their guests with complimentary drink, but I wouldn’t complain.

“Sorry what?” the woman said.

I repressed my urge to repeat what I said to her when I saw car keys hanging on her denim shorts just as Bri uttered, “Joey, come here.”

And Joey did. Unlike Bri, Joey had a nicer vibe, a bit demure. Humbler, even. It usually does not matter to me but I could tell Joey was well-off. She wore a hat without the cap, the ones similar to golfers. I would bet her top was just a scarf wrapped around her torso. She had braces even though her teeth seemed fine as it was. Fair skinned.  And if it was not a solid case, her nails were pointy, long, had gemstones, and held an iPhone with three eyes. How could I mistake her for a manager? She could easily be a resort owner, for all I know.

“Joey?” Lyn wondered. “I thought Joey was your uyab, Yan–” Bri’s nose scrunched so Lyn corrected herself, “I mean, Bri.”

I could tell Joey wanted to introduce herself but while she was just recalibrating her tongue, Bri already mouthed an answer– “Exactly, po.”


To be continued…



Princess “Preng” Arguelles is a twenty-something Creative Writing major at the University of the Philippines Mindanao. She attempts to capture reality-based ordeals in her fiction.

Monochrome Scales

Fiction by | January 23, 2023

Through and through, I am gray. An equal balance of good and evil, pure apathy to everything.

It’s common sense that murder is one of the most abominable sins to commit, but I find it hard to care even when my co-worker is breaking down in the middle of the office. Everyone rushes to comfort her, to soothe her with promises that her husband is now at peace, but I stand to the side. The most I can do is acknowledge her tears with a listless glance, and I’m back to typing away on the keyboard.

It makes me wonder if that makes me evil. The scales tip ever so slightly.

“Y’know,” Jose begins in his lazy drawl, taking in a large inhale of his cigarette and sighing. “It wouldn’t hurt for you to try and pretend you care.”

I know. I flick the ashes of my own cigarette at him, and he scowls back. With an uncommitted shrug, I exhale, and smoke puffs from my lips.

“I’ll try.”

The gray of the smoke ruins the clear blue sky above, but it fits perfectly with the ruined alleyway and me.


Another thing that should be normal is parents lighting up at the pitter-patter of footsteps scurrying to greet them at the door. When the doorknob turns and the little boy smiles at me, something twists and grips at my heart.

“Papa!” he cheerfully greets. “You’re home!”

Home feels like a bitter word on my tongue. It’s unrestrained anger, nail marks on my skin, and tears on my cheeks as I hide beneath the bed. This ruined apartment isn’t home, but just temporary solace from the rain and the sun, a place where I can stare endlessly at the paint-chipped walls. But I don’t bother correcting the little boy.

“I’m home,” I say half-heartedly. I lift my hand to his head, but something grips my arm, and it falls back to my side. I ignore the disappointed look on his face and let him take my coat and things. It somehow feels bad, watching such a tiny body struggle to take them. He guides me to the table where a meager meal awaits me.

“I tried my best!” The bandages on his fingers prove his words. “I—I hope you enjoy it!”

It’s too salty, but at least there is something to eat. I do not say anything to him, but he smiles as he continues to watch me eat.


I tell him to go back to his mother. There is no future for him with a deadbeat salaryman like me. One of these days, a corpse will return to him, and he will have nowhere to go.

He shakes his head, innocent face still smiling at me like I deserve it. “My home is with you, dad. Mama is too busy holding hands and eating at restaurants with the weird uncle.”

It feels like punishment to have something so deserving of everything I cannot offer him near me. I look at him, and the thought of leaving him alone within these apartment walls run rampant through my mind. I see his smile, and I wonder what will happen to it if I tell him of all the regrets I carry on my shoulder.

If I tell him that he was never meant to be, will he finally leave me be? The sick temptation grips me like a vice.

“I’m not a good person, boy.” My voice is raspy and the lingering hangover pounds at my head with every syllable. “You’re better off living with your mother. She can give you toys and food, and you won’t have to cook and cut your hands anymore.”

“Why aren’t you a good person?” Damn children and their curiosity. “You work hard every day to provide for us!”


And then I begin to speak.

“I think of leaving you alone. Every day, I don’t know how someone like me can face you. All I can give you are cheap clothes and groceries, and I don’t know how to comfort sad children or angry children or children of any kind!”

I reach out for him—he doesn’t flinch, and somehow that makes me only cry harder.

“You don’t deserve the life I lived, son.” His hair is soft. “You deserve everything in the world and more.”

I wonder if he’ll break under my touch, like how I used to at my father’s hands back then. His tiny hands reach up to mine and squeeze.

“Pa isn’t a bad guy. He says he wants to leave me alone, but he hasn’t. You say that mama is better, but you give me more love than she does.” He nuzzles into my rough palm. “I don’t want toys if mama doesn’t play with me. But here, I can cook food and eat them together with you every day.”

I am at a loss for words.

“You’re not evil, pa.” He grins. “Because I know you’re always thinking what’s best for me.”


I tell myself I’ll leave him, but I can’t. His tiny body may shatter under my hug, but nothing can stop the onslaught of tears as I hold my dearest son close to my heart. His small arms hug me back, and it’s the first time in my life that I have family.

I am still gray, but for this little boy, I can be human again.


“Not joining me for a smoke break?” Jose asks. “Now that’s a surprise.”

“Cutting back,” I grunt to him as I continue to type on my keyboard.

“Well, at least join me for a drink after work.”

“Not happening, either. Gotta buy groceries and cook.”

Jose snorts and lightly slaps the back of my head. “God help you. Having a kid made you boring.”

He’s joking, I can tell, and I chuckle and shake my head.

“Then the least I can do is invite you over for dinner.”

Jireh Dacanay, 17, is a Grade 12 HUMSS student at Davao Christian High School V. Mapa Campus. Writing for over 10 years, they continue to seek new ways to improve their writing style so they can write a novel that will make Philippine literature known all over the globe.


Fiction by | January 9, 2023

There were twenty computers inside SKY 91, wedged in the form of letter E. Toto occupied number eleven, filling a row of cubicles. The words appeared on Toto’s monitor: “I’m Faith. What’s yours? ASL?”

He had chatted few of the girls. There was Maria, twenty-years of age, who liked to go scuba diving. There was Gretch, who was interested in meeting him in exchange for cellphone cards. But none of them sustained the exchange of information. He was hoping to look for another one, someone beautiful and witty, and there he found Faith.

He hadn’t seen Karla for about a week. He had tried to give her gifts, bringing her in secret places to make love. But she had been testy and moody. It had begun after they made love. Toto told her something that made her cry. They both agreed to cool off for a while, to give her space and time, as what she had asked from him.

Toto typed: “Toto, 25, M, Cebu. And you?”

Then on the screen appeared: “I’m 29, Davao.”

They shared information about themselves. Occupations, the schools they’d been, hobbies, email adds. He had already been sitting there for hours when his feet felt numb. He stood up to give the attendant the stub, then paid for the fee.

He stood there at the pavement, looking for a cigarette vendor. There was none. He walked the sidewalks with other passers-by. It was around six in the evening and he could hear horns of vehicles beeping loudly on the traffic. Gray smoke filled the air.

He felt lonely for a while. He didn’t know where to go. He took out his Nokia 3310 from his jeans pocket and checked if somebody had texted him. He had texted his classmates and friends, but there wasn’t any reply. Maybe they had been busy with their girlfriends or maybe they hadn’t received his messages, or maybe they had run out of load. The money left in his pocket was just a few coins.

He thought of Karla. Where could she be? Was she at home? Was she drinking with her friends? He wanted to text her, but he hesitated. Maybe if she had enough space and time, she’d come back to him. He was optimistic. He knew she loved him as much as he loved her. But his ego was confusing him. He wouldn’t try to make up with her just because he was lonely and alone.

He came across a cigarette vendor and bought a stick. He lit it with the match. Some moments he found a jeepney bounded for home. He threw away the cigarette and mounted up.

The next morning he had until ten o’clock to finish his breakfast. He had no roommate. His apartment was the only one standing bleak at one of the buildings at Colon Street. He ate by himself on the table inside his room.

He had been already dressed for an errand. Black shirt tucked inside his blue jeans. Black Reebok running shoes he had bought in an ukay-ukay in Carbon. He groomed his hair with a gel, gleaming as if a cow had licked it. He ran out of food he had stored on the landlady’s fridge. Sometimes the landlady would be nice enough to offer him humba or pancit. When he finished his breakfast he was yet again ready for another day.

He was thinking about Faith. He wondered if she was beautiful. He had thought of opening his email to check if she had sent him pictures of her. He decided to go to the Internet café first before buying groceries.

He felt displeased when he went out the streets. The scorching heat of the sun hurt his eyes and burned his pale skin. He didn’t like it as he had always treated his skin with great care. Sometimes he would put sunscreen on his face, his arms, and the back of his neck.

He reached SKY 91. He came in through the glass door. There were only a few people on the seats. Good, he thought. So he could concentrate and not be disturbed by noisy kids playing video games.

As soon as the attendant gave him the stub, he immediately clicked the E icon that says “Internet Explorer.” He had to be quick. He had only one hour to surf the Net. He opened his email and there he found pictures of Faith. He can only saw her face down her tummy. She was pretty, he thought. She had chinita eyes, teeth as white as a pearl, revealing two little pits in both sides of her cheeks, although the skin of her face was a little bit sagged, which he didn’t like. She looked like no less than 30 years old. She had large breasts that bulged on her tight gray shirt. From the background she seemed to be in the United States, although she definitely looked Filipina. He decided to send him pictures too. Pictures he had scanned some months ago, pictures from his school’s acquaintance party. Her letter read:

Hi Toto. It’s been nice chatting with you yesterday. I find you’re a good man. I hope we could still get to know each other well enough to meet someday. I think you’re not the kind of man whom I can’t trust. Here are my pictures you have asked. Hope you’ll like them. 

Hope to hear from you soon. Good wishes.

Your New Friend,

They shared more information about themselves, letters, pictures. Sometimes they would send funny texts, some beautiful and inspiring quotes. He knew they were getting along with each other. He knew that she could be his girlfriend someday.

One day they decided to chat again on the Net. It was half hour past nine when Toto was once again sitting in front of the monitor.

They were chatting for about an hour when Toto opened his e-mail. He saw a new message. The message was from Faith. Attached were jpeg files. He clicked to view them. He was startled. The pictures showed she was sitting on a wheelchair. The rest of them showed she was sitting on the bed and nothing where her legs were supposed to be. He came back to the chat room and typed: “Faith, I’ve just received your pictures and I am surprised. Is this you?”

She responded: “Yes. That’s me. I am handicapped. I have no legs. I didn’t tell you because it might be the reason you won’t keep in touch with me anymore. Now I reveal it all to you. Does it bother you?”

Toto couldn’t type a word. He was still looking at her pictures. She really had no legs. He was disappointed. He hadn’t expected this. 

Then after a while he typed: “Why did you lie to me? I can’t believe this. Why did you make it so long for me to wait?” He paused for a moment. He hesitated to press the Enter key. He didn’t want to hurt her feelings. He was confused. He deleted all that, and typed: “I’m sorry. I didn’t know. No. No. It doesn’t bother me at all. Nothing changed. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.” Then he pressed the Enter key.

For a while there was no reply. He waited for some moments. No reply.

After a minute he typed: “Faith, are you there?” Still no reply. He typed: “That’s perfectly fine with me, Faith. I still like you.”

But still there wasn’t any reply.

He was immobile. His hands were numb. He felt a pain in the stomach. He had regrets. She might have been gone before he could reply. She might have been gone because he had taken a long time to reply after she revealed everything. He was ashamed. He was contrite. He didn’t know what to do. In a second he was informed by the attendant that his time was up. 

He stood up.

Thereafter his cell phone rang, and he answered it.


“I called to say goodbye.”


“I’m sorry. I made up my mind. It didn’t work out, and I think it never will.”

“Oh, please don’t tell me this over the phone, Karla. I need to see you.”

“It’s over. I’m sorry. Goodbye.”

He tried to call her back, but she was out of reach. He dialed again, and again, and again. 

But she was gone.

Honesto Avellanosa III is a 48-year-old guy who makes content for his YouTube channel Cebu and Davao Journey. He used to be a musician.



Fiction by | November 28, 2022

Love makes the time pass. Time makes the love pass.
– Euripides

Naghubo si Marieta unya tapis ang tualya nanaog siya sa silong ug misulod sa pansayan-kaligoanan sa likod sa payag. Lapas sa iyang gitas-on ang nipa nga bungbong sa pansayan nga way atop. Walay baho ang pansayan kay konkreto ang salog ug may inidoro. Puno ang plastik nga kontiner sa tubig nga gisag-ob ni Ramil sayo kaganihang buntag. Iyang gibutang ang tualya sa ibabaw sa bungbong ug naligo. Gamit ang kabong plastik, iyang gibuboan ang iyang ulo ug ang bugnawng tubig nga midailos paubos sa tibuok niyang lawas mihingilin sa kainit nga iyang gibati tungod sa lamigsing nga hangin. Iyang gisabonan ang iyang buhok, nawong ug liog ug nangwaswas. Gisunod niyag sabon ang tibuok niyang lawas sugod sa iyang dughan. Ang danglog nga bula sa sabon ug hapnoy nga hapuhap sa iyang palad nakapagimok sa iyang panit ug kaunoran. Gipaubos niya ang iyang kamot ug nasangit ang iyang palad sa iyang bilahan nga daw nawili sa kaanindot sa iyang gibati samtang naghimashimas sa iyang atubangan. Gitintal ang iyang mga tudlo sa pagpagana sa kaugalingon apan iyang gisanta ang tentasyon ug giundangan ang iyang gibuhat. Kay gusto niyang kasalo si Ramil sa pag-abot sa iyang kinalamian sa panghilawas. Gipaspasan niyag waswas ang sabon ug gitrapohan sa tualya ang iyang tibuok lawas.

Misaka si Marieta sa payag ug nagsuot og pinapuok nga purol ug tisirt nga dakog liab.   Nanudlay siya ug gisusi ang iyang panagway diha sa gamayng samin nga gibitay sa bungbong. Ang iyang kabatan-on milutaw diha sa lamorok niyang aping. Manghod siyag usa ka tuig ni Ramil nga kawhaan ug usa ang edad sa ilang pagtaban. Matod pas mga estorya, ang gugma nga giluom usa sa hinungdan nga modagsang ang bugasbugas. Nahimuot siya nga nawala na ang bugasbugas sa iyang nawong gawas sa pipila nga nagpabilin diha sa iyang agtang. 

Oras na sa pagluto sa panihapon. Walay dibisyon ang payag apan may gipinig nga duha ka luna, ang katulganan ug ang kosina nga gigamit usab nga kan-anan. Gikuha niya ang kaldero nga gibutang sa lamesa nga hinimo sa kawayan, gisudlan og bugas ang kaldero, gikilisan ang bugas ug gitungtong ang kaldero sug-angan sa abohan nga nagyaka sa daplin sa kosina. Samtang nagbantay sa iyang gilung-ag, nagkagod siyag lubi. Ang tuno iyang iluto sa suso nga iyang gipamunit sa kabakhawan kaganihang buntag. Iyang gipug-an ang iyang kinagod ug gisulod sa kaldero ang sinalang tuno. Gipamutol niya ang tumoy nga bahin suso, gihugasan ug gisulod sa kaldero. Nagbudbod siyag tanglad nga iyang kinuha sa nataran nga uban sa hiniwa nga luy-a, sibuyas ug sili, iyang gipanakot sa tinunoang suso. Iyang gikuhaan sa nagsigang sugnod ang linung-ag nga naitihan nas tubig ug gibalhin sa sug-angan nga gitungtongan sa kaldero nga gilutoan sa sud-an.  Gibinlan niyag baga ang kaldero nga gilung-agan sa humay nga hapit na maluto. Dihang naluto na ang tinunoang suso, iyang gipadaplin ang sugnod ug nagsugbag bulad nga tamban sa nahabiling baga. 

Nagdako sa kosina nga gasol ang gigamit sa pagluto, sa sinugdan naglisod si Marieta paggamit sa sugnod nga kahoy. Apan human sa daghang mga luha nga miagas tungod sa aso, nakat-on ra siya sa binukid nga pagluto. Nakat-on usab siya sa pag-ayom-ayom kon unsay anaa ug magamit lakip na ang pagdaginot sa tubig nga sag-ubon pa inay ipaagas lang sa gripo.  

Nagsingabot na ang salumsom sa pagkahuman ni Marieta sa pagdigamo. Nagkabugnaw ang huyuhoy nga mipakiaykiay sa lukay sa nag-inusarang lubi didto sa tugkaran sa payag. Diha sa bentana, mahinamon si Marieta nga nagpaabot sa pagsalop sa Adlaw ug sa pag-abot sa kagabhion nga moalim sa hapo nga mga lawas ug kalag. Mahinamon siyang nagpaabot ni Ramil. Ang lalaki nga iyang gitugyanan sa iyang kinabuhi ug hinungdan sa dakong pangahas nga iyang nabuhat. Ang pagpangga ni Ramil balsamo nga makahumpay sa kalaay sa tibuok adlaw nga pagbinugtong sa payag ug sa kamingaw sa dapit nga iyang gibiyaan. Si Ramil nga nakahatag kaniyag nag-awas nga kalipay. Makihilawasnong panan-awon ang nagpasundayag sa iyang hunahuna samtang naglantaw sa Adlaw nga nagpaubos didto sa bilahan sa kaluhang bukid sa inahang isla. Sa dakong isla nga tabukon og baruto ug diin didto sila mamalit sa ilang panginahanglan.

Iyang gisugat si Ramil sa pultahan. Gihagkan siya ni Ramil.  Mibalos siyag halok. 

“Pag-ilis sa imong sinina ug pahulay sa di pa maligo,” ni Marieta pa nga mitabang ni Ramil sa pagpuwas sa kamesita niini nga naumog sa singot.  Iyang gihayhay ang kamesita sa kordeso sa bentana. Sa Domingo pa siya manlaba sa sapa busa iyang gipauga ang hinuboan aron dili talumtomon.

Nanihapon sila human makaligo si Ramil. Gasalohan sa magtiayon ang panihapon nga nagyaka sa salog nga kawayan. 

Happy monthsary, Langa,” matod ni Marieta nga ang mga mata kundatan nga mipasiplat kang Ramil. 

“Aw, tuod, unom ka bulan na ta dinhi. Sori, Langga, wa koy gasa nimo.”

No need, Langga. You’re the best gift to me.”

“Lami ning imong tinunoan,” ni Ramil pa nga mihigop sa sabaw sa suso.  

“Naa pay mas lami ana unya,” tistis ni Marieta nga makahuloganong misupsop sa suso. 

Mitan-aw si Ramil kang Marieta. Walay bra, mihulma ang tuybo nga tutoy niini sa luag ug nipis nga tisirt.

“Ikaw, gyod. Kapoy baya magbasok sa uma.” 

“Mawala ra nang imong kakapoy ug pamaol sa akong masahe.” 

Sayong nangatulog ang magtiayon. Duol ang payag sa dagat ug madungog ang laylay sa balod nga moatras-abante sa lapyahan. Sadya ang awit sa mga mangloy didto sa kadahonan nga gibanwagan sa Bulan. Palong ang lampara apan nagpaambit sa kahayag ang Bulan sa mga bidlisiw niini nga milusot mga gagmayng gihang sa bungbong sa payag. Ang alum-om nga kahayag nakapadayag sa naglambid nga mga lawas. Duha ka lawas nga nagkausa sa kinaiyanhong paglihok sama sa ritmo sa pagtaob ug paghunas sa dagat ug sa pagsubang ug pagsalop sa Adlaw. 


Hayag na sa pagmata ni Ramil. Mibangon siya ug milingkod sa banig. Iyang gianinaw ang natulog niyang kaipon. Gisuhid ang nawong niini. Diha pa ang pagpamula sa mga aping ni Marieta nga bilin sa mainiton nilang pakighilawas. Yano ra ang panagway si Marieta apan nindot ang tambison niining mga ngabil. Ang madanihong kurba sa lawas ni Marieta sobrang ibugti sa yano niining panagway. Wala siya magmahay nga iyang gitaban si Marieta ug nanimuyo sa hilit nga dapit. Tungod sa naghuros-huros nilang gugma ug kahinam sa usa-usag milayas sila sa ilang dapit ug nag-ipon nga walay bendisyon sa ilang mga ginikanan. Hinungdan nga naundang ang ilang pagtungha sa kolehiyo. Dinhi sila nagtago ning gamayng isla diin sila kasamtangan nga kinaugalingnong nanginabuhi. Kay wala maanad sa bug-at nga trabaho, sa sinugdan naglisod si Ramil sa iyang pagbugwal sa yuta nga iyang gitamnan og balanghoy ug ubang lagutmon apan sa kadugayan nakat-on ra siya sa paghago ug pag-antos. Ug sa dili madugay makabaligya na siya sa abot sa yuta nga iyang giabangan. Si Marieta ang iyang inspirasyon aron makasugakod sa kalisod nga iyang gisudlan. Apan bisan pa, dili niya kalikayan ang kahadlok nga basin moabot ang adlaw nga mohupas ang ilang gugma ug uwag sa usag-usa ug magbasol sa ilang pangahas nga magtaban.

Dala ang plastik nga sag-oban sa tubig, sabon panligo, tualya ug ilisan, mibaktas si Raul habig sa amihan diin nag-agos ang sapa.  Didto sa sapa siya maligo ug magkawos og tubig sa mabawng atabay nga gikalot sa tiilan sa pangpang. Sa wala pa siya mopadayon pagpaubos ngadtos sapa, milantaw siya sa sidlakan. Taas na ang gintang sa Adlaw gikan sa bukid diin kini mosubang. Nanaghoy si Ramil samtang nagbaklay subay sa dalandalan panaog sa sapa. Nahinanok pa si Marieta sa iyang pagbiya sa payag. Maatrasawo ang ilang pamahaw apan walay angay dalian kay dili siya moadto sa uma karong adlawa. Nakasaad siya ni Marieta nga motabok sila sa dakong isla.

Emeterio S. Sumagang is a retired DILG Provincial Director from Valencia, Bukidnon. He won various literary contests such BATHALAD-Mindanao Tigi sa Sinulatay and Satur P. Apoyon Tigi sa Mubong Sugilanong Binisaya.




Fiction by | November 7, 2022

Nangatagak na ang dagkong lugas sa ulan. Ang dalan nga unang giagian ni Dodoy ug  Pikto nalanay nas lapok. Lubog na ang tubig sa sapa, og ang mga gapnud gihinay-hinay na og anod. Tungod sa kalapok sa dalan, moaksyon og luhod ang kabaw sa uyoan ni Dodoy.

 “ Hinay, hinay! Tsk.tsk..tsk!’’ ni Pikto nga nangandam sa iyang latos aron makabuylo ang iyang toro sa pagtabok sa unang sapa pauli.

“ Tyo, aysa, Tyo! Aysag tabok kay molalom na dihang dapita labi na ron nga baha na!’’ pakgang ni Dodoy nga mihunong kauban si Ledio, ang tai-iya sa gihawl nila nga kopras. “Luoy kaayo ang kabaw, Tyo! Basin og mangaanod mo!’’ dugang singgit ni Dodoy, ang pag-umangkon ni Pikto.

Si Ledio nga nabalaka, nagkara-kara kon unsay iyang buhaton. Moaksiyon siyag hiwid kon mobunlot ang toro. Unom ka sako ang karga ni Pikto sa iyang balsa kay kusgan man ang iyang turo. Ang upat ka sako nga sobra niini didtos balsang Dodoy. Ang iyang gikabalak-an, kay kon mabasa ang iyang kopras, dako pod kaayo ang resikada sa iyang suki nga si Nang Lita Apyugon. Pito ka kilo dala sa sakong binandahan kon uga. Unsa na lang kaha kon basa! Naglingo-lingo ang saysenta anyos. Walay nabuhat ang tiguwang ug giambakan ang sapa aron matuklod ang balsa ni Pikto kinsa nagsige og latos sa toro.

 “Buwisit nis Pikto! Maapil man pod tag kaanod aning estayla ni!’’ yawyaw ni Ledio nga nag-utong-utong sa pagpugong ug pagtuklod sa balsa.

Ang kapungot sa sulog sa tubig maoy nakaingon sa paghinay-hinay og kalubag sa balsa ni Pikto. Sa kabalaka ni Dodoy nga gatan-aw sa duha nga mingkursonadag tabok, siya wala magduha-duha sa paglayat gikan sa iyang kabaw. Sa iyang huna-huna mao ang pagtabang og tuklod. Wa niya mabantayi nga ang lubot ni Nong Ledio ang iyang nahikapan. Abtik niyang gibalhin iyang kamot ngadtos binandahang sako. Wala pa sila makatunga sa sapa. Si Pikto nga nagsakay sa toro, nakabantay nga migaan ang karga niini. Samtang siya nagtan-aw sa iyang likod, nakita niya si Ledio nga hilabihan nang pulaha sa dagway. Apan ang iyang pag-umangkon nga napulog unom ang panuigon, sayon rang gituklod ang karga niyang unom ka binandahan.

“ Kana, Doy! Birahi, Doy! Basa na kaayo akong kopras, Doy! Yati ning imong uyoan! Tuklod pa, Doy!’’ ni Ledio nga nakamatikod sa kusog ni Dodoy gikan sa iyang pagtulak, wala na kini mangusog og mirespetar na lang sa paggunit sa sako.

 “Galasgawa nimo, Tyo, uy!’’ ni Dodoy nga daw nakurat ug nahuwasan sa gitahang kusog. Sa iyang kaugalingon, wa niya damha nga makahimo siya pagtuklod sa kabug-at sa balsa. Siya nakapamalandong sa kadiyot samtang nagtinutokay silang tulo sa nahitabo. “ Lisod ning makakuyog tag isog ug kursonada. Di mahadlok og tahan bisan kinabuhi. Tsk!” hunghong sa kaugalingon ni Dodoy. Wa dayon makatubag ang uyoan kay gikulbaan na pod diay nga musiak ang iyang balsa. Sa dihang nakatabok na sila sa sapa, si Pikto nananaog na pod sa iyang toro. Batiis ra gyod niya ang nahumod sa tubig. Iyang gipuwas ang yugo sa kabaw ug gipasabsab ang hayop sa mga sagbot ilalom sa dakong dao.

“Basaa sa akong kopras, uy! Malubag gyod ang timbangan aning Lita Apyugon ron. Wa unta ka motabok, Tong. Puyde man usa ta mamasilong ug palurangon ning sulog. Porbida!’’ ni Ledio nga nagtan-aw sa iyang kopras nga naglingo-lingo ug nanaguto.

“Sus nimo Dyong, mora man ka og wa makaila sa akoa,’’ tubag ni Pikto nga galikit sa iyang maskada nga giputos sa Dolphin Bihon.

“Lagi, nakaila man ko nimo. Ikaw ang karaang hawler diris Sityo Pakisama, pero mamatay ta nimo uy!”

“ Kagamay anang suloga!”

“Unsay gamay, uy! Hapit man gani molugti imong balsa! Mayman ka kay gasakay raka permi anang buko-buko sa imong toro. Porbida nimo, Tong!”

Si Dodoy nga naminaw sa duha nga morag paingon na maglalis, iyang gitutokan ang iyang kabaw nga si Baskog nga nabilin sa pikas tampi. Ang ulan wala pa gihapon motuang. Nagdala pa hinuon kinig kusog ug bugnawng hangin. Ang mga gapnud nga nangaanod nag-anam nag kadagko. Ang uban niini nangasangit sa dagkong mga gamot sa karaang punoan sa madre kakaw. Ang uban padayon nga gianod dala sa sulog sa tubig.

 “Nagkabug-at man ang dagayday sapa, Nong Ledio,’’ ni Dodoy nga naglingkod ug naniid sa dagan sa tubig. Nabalaka siyang nagtan-aw kang Baskog nga nabilin sa pikas tampi.  Naglingo-lingo ang iyang kabaw nga namugaw sa mga tagnok nga gustong mosulod sa iyang dunggan.

“Mao lagi. Palurang-lurangon usa nato ang tubig, Doy. Balikon nato na imong kabaw ron,’’ ni Ledio nga nangupos sa iyang sinina ug short nga puwerteng basaa.

Si Pikto nga wa manumbaling sa tuslok sa ulan sa iyang dagway, gasige gihapon og dagkot sa iyang tabako bisan nga nahumod na. Gitabonan lang niya ang baga sa iyang kamot aron dili kini mapalong, dayon nagpabuhot-buhot. Hanoy nga miikyas ang mga aso sa iyang ilong. Kapin oras na ilang pagkatanggong apan ang tubig wala pa gihapon molurang. Si Dodoy wa gyod moginok sa iyang gilingkuran. Naghapyod-hapyod na lang siya sa iyang suwang, naghuna-huna unsay buhaton.

Misantop sa iyang huna-huna og nganong nakahimo siya pagtuklod sa balsa ni Pikto– puno sa katahap. Mitindog siya kay mangihi. Mihapdos og kalit ang iyang kilid. Namatikdan niya nga nasamad na diay ang iyang wala nga bahin. Agi ang samad sa ngipon sa iyang kabaw kay giputos man niya kini og unas human gisuksok sa iyang kilid. Iyaha kining gitagoan kay nahingo man kining ngipona gikan sa iyang kabaw nga mikibkib sa sunog nga mga bunot samtang siya nagbakero. Nabasa kini sa tubig, mao nga milapos sa iyang kilid. Dihadiha, nahinumdoman niya ang karaang mga estorya ni Pikto mahitungod sa mga agud-agod. Matod pas iyang uyoan, kadtong nag-inom sila og tuba didto sa ilang tapahan, kauban iyang amahang si Tatay Terso, duna gyod kunoy mga agud-agod. Dunay mga dagon nga panipas. Dili ka maigo og bala nga maoy gigamit kuno kaniadto sa grupo sa mga Ilaga kontra sa mga Barakoda nga Muslim. Mga likit nga dili ka madutlan og sundang bisan pag kapila ka tigbason. Mga likit sa manok nga modaog nga way samad. Ug mga likit nga mahimo ka nga kusgan.  Puwerteng daghana og nahibaw-an sa iyang uyoan mahitungod aning mga butanga. Duna pa gani kunoy higayon nga miadto ning uyoang Dodoy, alas dose sa tungang gabii sa sam-ang kay gipadamggo kuno siya nga ipakuha ang tuway-tuway sa tawo nga milutaw tungod sa dakong krus.

“Mao man seguro ning giingon ni Tyo Pikto,’’ hunghong ni Dodoy sa kaugalingon nga mitutok sa uyoan nga nangiyugpos sa katugnaw.

Ning higayona, si Pikto nga bag-o ra nahuman ug panabako gitangtang niya ang pisi nga gihikot sa mga binandahang sakos kopras. Lig-on ning pisia. Dili madali-dali og kabugto kay mao ni iyang reserba kon maputol ang pising pangilong sa iyang kabaw. Paspas ang lihok sa uyoang Dodoy. Nag-andam siya sa pisi. Ang ulan nga nag-inday- inday, wala gyoy plano nga molurang. Gihikot ni Pikto ang tumoy sa pisi sa iyang hawak. Ang pikas bahin gihikot usab niya sa ilalom sa balsa. Ang katas-on sa iyang pisi, sa iyang banabana, igo ra nga makaabot sa pikas tampi.

“Maghikog ka, Tong?!’’ ni Ledio nga nakulbaan nga nagtan-aw sa suod nga higala sa dugayng panahon.

“Ngano? Mokuyog ka?! Dagan man gani ka og gukuron sa pasgaw niadtong elementarya pa ta. Lus-los nimo, Dyong!’’ tubag ni Pikto nga gipaagi na lang sa katawa aron mawala pod iyang kakulba.

Si Dodoy nga naminaw sa duha, miaksiyon na pog kabalaka. Nangutkot siya sa iyang pahak. Dako iyang salig sa iyang uyoan nga makatabok aron makuha ang iyang kabaw. Karon, si Pikto nga grabe gyod ang kaisog ug kursonada, naghinayhinay na og tamak sa tubig. Si Ledio nga gakupot pag-ayo sa pisi aron di modiretso si Pikto og kaanod, nanukad pod ang tiguwang. Si Dodoy nga mibati og kaluoy sa uyoan, misubay sa pisi aron sundon ang uyoan.

“Ayna diha, Doy! Kaya ra nang Pikto!’’ singgit ni Nong Ledio nga milanog ang tingog ubos sa sapa.

“Hurot ang isog ana ron, apil butbot! dugang niyang pasi-aw.

Apan si Dodoy duol nas likod sa uyoan. Naghinay-hinay siya og sugat sa sulog. Gikabkab sa tubig ang gitamakan ni Pikto. Ug sa kalit, midakin-as ug misukarap siya sa tubig. Dali nga gibira ni Dodoy ang pising gisubayan. Maayo nalang gani kay wala naparok ang ulo sa iyang uyoan sa mga hait nga bato. Nainat ang hawak ni Pikto tungod sa kakusog sa pagbunlot ni Dodoy. Dali-dali siyang mibangon ug gisugat ang tubig nga taman pod sa iyang hawak ang kalawmon. Hapit na siya makaabot sa daplin. Milingi siya ug nakurat kang Dodoy nga naa diay sa iyang likod. Giyano ra og baktas ang baha samtang gahawid sa pisi.

“Hastang buanga, kakusog ba diayng tubiga!” ni Pikto nga milingkod dapit sa tiilan ni Baskog ug nanghupaw.

“Kaniadto nga tabok-tabokon ko ra man ning sapaa. Karon nga nagkaisog man ang sulog!’’

“ Tana, Tyo, mamalik nata, abyan natong kabaw ug kining balsa. Ikaw timon sa kabaw ug akoy motuklod sa balsa!’’ tubag ni Dodoy nga bag-o pa mihaw-as sa tubig.

“Taympa sa! Ato sa ning palurangon ang sulog, Doy!’’ ang uyoan nga miaksiyon na og kakak kay hapit matinuod ang tagna ni Ledio.

“Tong, hapit, Tong?!” singgit dala komedya ni Nong Ledio nga gagunit sa pisi sa pikas tampi sa sapa.


Wala dayon mobalik og tabok si Dodoy. Gihulat niya ang iyang uyoan nga makapahulay. Si Pikto nga gapungko na lang, gitangtang niya iyang hikot sa hawak ug gihatag kang Dodoy. Iya kining gipahikot ngadto sa gamayng punuan sa tugas, nga lig-on sab nga dili mabali kon birahon og tulo ka tawo. Duna na silay nahimong subayanan aron makahimo sila pagtabok balik ngadto sa pikas tampi. Si Ledio nga tua sa atbang naghulat, iya pod gisusi pag-ayo ang pagkahikot ni Pikto, kay basin unya og mohiplos ang pisi.

Nagdahunog ang tingog sa tubig. Dunay dala nga lapok ang anod niini. Naghinay-hinay na og lurang ang ulan apan si Pikto gaduhaduha gihapon og tabok. Padayon ang agda sa iyang pag-umangkon nga manabok, hangtod nga mibalik ang iyang kaisog. Gigunitan ni Pikto ang pisi duol sa pangilong ni Baskog. Una siyang misubay sa pisi nga ilang giandam nga nagtabyog-tabyog tungod sa sulog. Minghunat sab si Dodoy og tuklod sa balsahan. Niining higayona, ang tuong kamot ra ang iyang gigamit. Gihawid niya ang iyang walang kamot sa pisi. Minglutaw sa tubig ang balsa ni Dodoy, samtang si Pikto minghiwid nas tungatunga sa sapa. Apan dili siya maanud kay dunay pisi nga ilang gisaligan. Gilaras ni Baskog ang sapa kay gaan ra iyang paminaw sa balsa. Hangtod sa pila nalang ka lakang, nakahimo sila pagtabok. 

“Ginoo ko ninyo, Tong, Doy, salamat kaayo intawon,” pasalamat sa ulitawong guwang nga si Ledio nga wa gyod mobuhi sa pisi. Bugnaw man unta ang panahon apan klarong may nabuak nga lugas sa singot sa iyang tampihak.

“ Doy, isip pasalamat nako ninyo, Bay Tong, ako ning ipabor ninyong usa ka sakong kopras,”

“Ayna, Nong Ledio uy! Bayari lang mi sa among suhol kada sako” ni Dodoy.

“Ayna bitaw, Bay Dyong, mora man kag karon pa!”

“Tininuod bitaw ning ako, Bay Tong ug Doy. Idiretso lang nato ni ilang Lita Apyugon. Paspas ta kay tugnaw na kaayo. Mag-inom tag Sioktong ngadto!”

Diha sa dalan, sekretong gipalabokan ni Dodoy og estorya ang iyang uyoan mahitungod sa mga agud-agod.

“Tyo, tinuod gyod diay ang imong sulti nako. Tinuod nga dunay dagon, Tyo!” ni Dodoy nga misulti nga pinasiga ang mga mata.

“Nganong nakasulti man ka ana, Doy?” ni Pikto nga nagpakaaron-ingnon nga wala kabantay sa kusog ni Dodoy ganina pagtabok sa sapa.

“Kadtong gaina, Tyo ba… nakusgan ko kay duna koy linikit nga ngipon sa kabaw dinhi, akong dala, Tyo” ni Dodoy nga mikapkap sa iyang kilid.

Nahurot niya og hikap iyang short, apan wa na gyoy ngipon sa kabaw nga giputos sa unas. Gibati niya ang katugnaw sa tibuok niyang lawas ug iyang nadunggan ang gadahunog nga sulog sulod sa iyang dughan.

Jovanie  Garay was a fellow for Balak in the 59th Silliman University National Writers Workshop (SUNWW) 2021 and 21st Iyas National Writers’ Workshop 2022 for his Sugilanon.



Fiction by | October 24, 2022

“I can see it now,” she said, pointing excitedly to the sky.

Outside their house was a grassy area where they spread their blanket to sit on. The smell of the earthen fragrance from the dew on the grass and the chilly wind sent shivers down their skin that they made themselves smaller in their jackets.

It was 2:30 in the morning of June 24. Yesterday, they heard the news about the planetary alignment that was said to be a rare phenomenon and they purposely woke up early just to get the perfect spot for stargazing.

“Are you sure that’s it?” he asked hesitantly. “I think those are just dust in the heavens.”

“Well, I can’t blame you if you don’t have microscopic eyes like mine,” she teased as she stretched her hands to the horizon, as if trying to hold the universe in her hands.

“If you say wearing glasses means having microscopic eyes, then that’s a lie.”

She lowered her glasses and raised her eyebrow to confront his sarcasm. He didn’t mind her. Instead, he squinted his eyes, trying to zoom in on the tiniest details.

“I’m still not convinced.”

“You better be! I’ve been studying the planets for five years now.”

“Yeah right. In a formal education?”

“Hey!” she nudged him on his elbows. “That doesn’t mean all my self-learning is worth nothing.”

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Fiction by | October 10, 2022

“Andrea, bangon na diha!” sambit sa akong Mama. “Ma, unya na ma oy… Katugon pa man ko.”

Kada adlaw, sayo sa kabuntagon, alas cuatro pa lang pukawon na ko sa akoang Mama. Sayo kami sa buntag mangandam ni Mama para mamaligya ug kakanin diri sa amoang lugar sa Uyanguren. Kini nga dalan ang gina awag nga business capital of the city ug gina ilang Chinatown. Daghang establisyemento nga mga naay lahing Tsinoy ang nanag-iya. Amoang ginasuroy isa-isa ang mga dagkong gusali para itinda ang among puto, suman, ug bibingka.

Nahuman na kami ug pangbalot ni Mama sa mga paninda. Nigawas si Papa sa kwarto ug nikuha kini ug tasa para moinom sa iyang paboritong kape. Ganahan kaayo ko sa kahumot sa iyang tinimpla nga kape — makawala ug katugon ang kahumot niini. “Belen, lakaw na ko. Andrea, ubani si Mama nimo ha?” Sayo pud sa kabuntagon si Papa mobangon para mag drayb ug jeep.

Habang ga lakaw mi ni Mama padulong sa mga suki namo, akoang nakita ang amoang silingan nga si Kuya Karlos. Suot niini iyang paboritong pink na sweater. Alas cuatro y media pa man sa kabuntagon pero naa siya sa gawas, kaning orasa kuno iyang ting-uli sayod pa sa amoang mga silingan. “Nabuntagan na sad siya sa iyang negosyo. Maayo pa si Karlos, pauli na, igo ra mosakay sa mga kotse, maka-kwarta na,” sambit ni Mama. “Bantog ikaw, Andrea, maningkamot ka ha? Ayaw sa jud pagminyo ‘nak.” Ni smile rako ug ni tando kay Mama. Minyo? Unsang edad ba jud diay dapat magminyo? Akoang edad karon kay ten pa man ko.

“Oy, Belen!” Si Madame Corazon nga suki ni Mama. Tagiya kini ug dakong mall diri sa among lugar. Ang anak niya kay nakaduwa nako atong niaging tuig. Pero wala ko na ni nakita usab kay namalit sila ug mas dakong balay dapit sa Bajada.

“Ma’am Corazon, maayong buntag, ma’am. Naa koy suman balanghoy diri tag diyes ra.”

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