They were having dinner at home later that evening. Aunt Laura had prepared bihon and fried tuna. Alegria made a joke about politicians, which caused Uncle Reyes to spill bits of bihon on his shirt. They were eating and laughing together. Then Tristan said, “I want to go back to Zamboanga.”
“Are you tired?” Alegria said. “Do you miss it there?”
“I just want to go home,” Tristan said.
“Don’t act like a child,” Alegria said. “It’s better to visit Mom and Dad in November. You still have classes. And I’m busy with work.”
They did not understand. Tristan again stuffed a large amount into his mouth, that he could not completely close it while chewing. “One at a time, Tristan!” Aunt Laura reprimanded. “Equal to the size of the spoon.”
“He’s not a child anymore, Laura,” Uncle Reyes said.
“He sure is acting like one.”
Tristan dropped his spoon loudly on the table, which only Alegria noticed.
“Hey!” Alegria said. “What’s the matter with you? Stop saying nonsense like that. Finish your food.”
Then the anger of Tristan was kindled against his sister. “Who attacked our city?!” Tristan shouted. Uncle Reyes stopped midway, and Aunt Laura, drinking water, spilled some on her neck. “Wasn’t it the MNLF? They separated us from mom and dad. Aren’t you angry at all?”
Continue reading Home (Part 2)
Tristan was twelve years old when they invaded. His family lived in the barangay near the coastline where the rebels landed. They burned down his family’s home, one of the many. The four of them fled on foot: Tristan, his father, mother, and older sister Alegria. None brought anything with them except the clothes on their skins. Alegria was falling behind. Tristan’s mother pulled his hand tightly as she called out to his father, who ran ahead, shouting at him to slow down. His father said something Triste could not remember, because halfway through his sentence his father suddenly stopped speaking.
His mother screamed just as she fell on the asphalt, dragging Tristan down with her. He fell open-mouthed, and a piece of his front tooth broke when his face hit the ground. His mother became voiceless.
He could not remember his mother’s exact final moments. Alegria grabbed him before the image could sink in, carried him on her shoulder as he continued to cry, and ran as fast as she could, never looking back. Tristan didn’t want to, but he looked back.
How long had they been running? He had lost the will to cry. He seemed like a corpse on her sister’s shoulder. Alegria struggled to carry him; he was not a small child anymore, and he was almost as heavy as she was now. But she pushed on, like there was some invisible force screaming at her that she must carry him, else he dies. When she could no longer bear her brother’s weight, she stumbled in an abandoned street and scraped both her knees, as her hands embraced Tristan so he wouldn’t fall with her. Then there were people in the distance, running toward them. Alegria’s legs couldn’t muster the strength. They were coming closer. And they were carrying guns.
Continue reading Home (Part 1)
“Kanus-a di–diay mouli si Mama, Pa?” pangutana sa siyete-anyos nga bata.
“Katulog na lagi! Ayaw na og pangutana, Rem. Lili-a ra god ang langit. Talagsaon na lang kaayo moduaw ang ulan. Nag-problema nako. Unsaon na lang ang atong kahumayan. Ako na lang biya usa ang nag-atiman ato.” tubag dala singhag ni Dodong samtang gahapnig sa banig aron higdaan nila sa iyang anak nga si Rem-Rem.
Mabatian sa amahan ang pagkabalaka apan nakita niini nga dili gyod madala og kasaba ang iyang anak matag udto. Ikapila na sad niya mabantayi ang anak nga gahinuktok sa paborito niining ginapongkoan nga bangko.
Dili mapugngan sa amahan nga mabalaka. Ug sa walay pagduha-duha, gihawiran niya sa abaga ang bata ug gidala niya kini padulong sa bintana nga gama sa kawayan. Padayon silang gatan-aw sa dag-om nga nakahatag og rason sa amahan aron mobuhig tam-is nga ngisi.
“Milagaro! Usa ka milagro! Salamat, Ginoo.” ingon sa amhan. Hinay-hinayng mibuhi ang amahan sa abaga sa iyang anak. Nabantayan kini ni Rem-rem ug nahilom siya.
Sukad mibiya ang inahan ni Rem-Rem sa ilang panimalay sa bukid, mao pud ang pagkawala sa iyang gana nga matulog kada udto. Maski si Dodong wala nasayod sa tinuod nga rason nganong kalit kining mibiya. Walay pagpananghid kaniya o kay Rem-rem. Kon buot hunahunaon, kuwatro anyos pa si Ren-ren sa pagbiya sa iyang asawa. Walay rason para layasan ang anak sa iyang pagkapuya.
Usa lang ka rason ang iyang nahunahunaan: posibleng milayas kini sa ila ug miuban sa iyang ka-textmate sa pikas baryo. Ambot lang sad kon unsa ka tinuod ang mga tsismis nga gapanglupad sa ilang lugar. Pero kini ra ang mahunahunaan ni Dodong luyo sa pagkawala sa asawa sama sa usa ka bituon nga hagbay rang mibuto.
Continue reading Banig
You are at school. The teacher decides to change the seat plan since the current one isn’t working out. It’s her fault for putting the good kids on one side and the shitty ones on the other. What did she expect you shitty students do? Actually study? Of course you’re going to cheat. Too bad one of your friends got caught writing keywords on the palm of his hand. You told Jimmy to write on the sides of his fingers instead so he can cover them up. He didn’t listen, and now he’s serving a week of community service while the rest of you have to transfer seats. The teacher talks about this phenomenon called the ripple effect where the “actions of one can have an indirect and drastic effect on others”—her words, not yours. She is in a good mood, so she decides to let everyone pick where they want to sit. Of course, she’ll make some changes once everyone has settled down. But for the most part, the students’ choices matter.
Miraculously, Jade Teñoso is absent. Apparently, she’s off attending some relatives’ wedding somewhere in Davao. You think it’s most likely at Eden Resort. Jade’s relatives are loaded, except for her family, though. Jade’s father got into a fight with his father who decided to disown him and his family. The grandfather’s long been buried six feet under so everyone’s welcomed them back with open arms. They’re still poor, though. No one’s bothered to give them a million pesos or something. And how do you know all this? Well, you learn a lot about someone if you’ve lived beside them for the past sixteen years.
You’ve wanted her seat for a long time. Besides the fact that you can’t see shit from where you’re sitting, which really far from the board. She sits beside that friend of hers you think is quite the looker. Nadine’s her name, and you usually waste the hours in class staring at her back, at the cost of your quiz scores.
With Jade out of the way, you’ll get to spend the rest of the year besides your one and only love (your Ate laughed at you when you told her this and shook her head).
Continue reading Seat Plan
Nakamata si Fatima tungod sa salibo nga misulod sa iyang kwarto. Dili pa gyud unta siya mubangon kay lami pa matulog og balik. “Panuway man ning ulana oy!” gisapot nga naghuna-huna si Fatima dungan sa pag sirado sa basa na nga bintana. Nagbukot kini og balik sa iyahang habol ug gitandayan ang duha ka unlan hangtod nga nitikongkong na kini ug taman tungod sa katugnaw. Day-off niya karong adlawa ug wala siya’y ubang plano kun dili matulog kay gikapoy siya sa iyang duty sa milabayng gabii.
Usa ka nurse si Fatima apan dili gyud kini ang iyang gusto nga trabaho kaniadto. Bentaha daw kung nurse kay maka-abroad pagkahuman ug eskwela; butang nga makatabang sa ilang tumang kalisod. Ug tungod kay mahal mu-eskwela ug nursing sa Davao, nangita sila ug barato nga tunghaan. Hantod naabot sila sa Marawi City sa diin full scholar siya hangtod nga maka-gradwar.
Continue reading Sa Balay ni Fatima
“She’s here,” says the man outside.
In your mind you see her lay on the narrow table the food she always brings. Until now it escapes you why she does this when she knows you have stopped eating it since the incident. Is it her way of letting you exorcise your demons?
You met her father on this generation’s luckiest day: 8-8-88. You were at your favorite restaurant when he asked if he could join you. You were actually done but good manners aside, you didn’t want to foist bad luck on him by leaving just when he was about to eat. And so you broke into a half smile and nodded.
Continue reading Spaghetti
Raindrops poured and the fragrance of wet grass and mud wafted in the dense air. A thin layer of fog blanketed the cluster of trees and chilled the nights of the distant homes within sitio Bago-Nalum. It was two weeks after the incident that happened at the highway of crossing Bago. Nights were filled with the sound of thunder and flashes of lighting since then. Rumor went around that the family failed to light a candle for the soul of Tata who died in the accident. His body was found with an envelope that bore the mark of the Eagle. Rain had washed away his blood and the morning sun has long dried the concrete. In sitio Bago-Nalum, where the man used to live, a rumor has been making rounds. Amidst the silent persisting downpour, whispers could be heard. Santelmo. The forgotten soul shall haunt.
Berto Dimahunong heard the whispers at Bugak as he was filling four containers of water. In Bugak people fell in line, carrying with them containers to be filled with fresh water, or gathered to do the laundry. Water flowed from the ground, through the years-old pipe, and into the container. The first one in line was Berto. He was a fireman and a dutiful son. He intended to do his chore as quickly as he could, but he could not help overhearing what everyone was talking about. Amidst the patting of fabric and the splashes of feet entering the shallow pool, people were in careless exchanges.
Continue reading Pabilo
“Ma, unsa’y handa nako sa akoang birthday?” pangutana ni Inday sa iyahang inahan nga naghaling sa abuhan. “Si Amber gud ma kay kuyog iyang mama gipakaon me ganina og Spaghetti sa room.” Gikudlit sa inahan ang posporo ug gisindihan ang goma nga gikan sa guba nga tsinelas. Gibutang dayon niya ilalom sa mga bunot nga giplastar. Sa dihang nag-aso na, gikuha sa inahan ang kaldero gikan kay Inday ug gibutang sa sug-angan nga bakal nga gipatong sa duha ka hollow block. “Magpakaon pud ko sa eskwelahan ma ha?”
“Maayo man to sila ‘day kay daghan man sila’g kwarta,” nanghinawak nga sulti sa inahan. “Pagkuha og kamunggay didto. Harusa, kay atong isagol sa gulay. Pagdali,” gitudlo sa inahan ang punoan sa kamunggay.
Nangyam-id si Inday pagtalikod niya kay wala siya kauyon sa tubag sa iyang inahan. Gawas niana, gulay napud ang ilang sud-an. Bug-at ang bundak sa iyang tiil, “Wala gyud napul-an.”
Continue reading Birthday na ni Inday