War Diary

Nonfiction by | October 14, 2007

(Excerpted from the book Diary of the War: WWII Memoirs of Lt. Col. Anastacio Campo by Maria Virginia Yap Morales, published by Ateneo de Manila University Press, Quezon City, 2006)

Grandfather is remembered as the provincial commander Capt. Anastacio Campo (provincial inspector) of Davao, his last assignment before he retired after twenty-four years of military service in December 1939. He was farming when Davao was bombed by the Japanese forces. He promptly joined the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) which was organized by Pres, Franklin Delano Roosevelt in July 1941. At that time, the Philippines was in a transition period called the Philippine Commonwealth under U.S. rule. Grandfather was promoted to major during the war. He finally retired thereafter, in July 1948, with an upgraded rank of lieutenant colonel.

After the war, Grandfather lost the strength of both of his legs and walked with the aid of a cane. But he always stood tall and lean, with a straight back owing to his military training. He had deep-set and attentive eyes, a tall nose, and a calm manner. He was fondly called “Tacio” by my Grandmother Remedios whom he called “Meding.” All of us grandchildren called him “Lolo Tacio.”

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The Bullet-Ridden Agong

Nonfiction by | September 23, 2007

By a great coincidence, the title I chose for the American overkill that occurred eighty years ago on a hill outside Jolo town matched that of the recent Tausug youth musical theatre entitled “Ang Antigong Agong.” These very creative descendants of a massacre by the American military of more than 1,000 Moros at Bud Dahu recreated symbolically through the search for the antique agong the agony and psychological black-out still lurking in the Moro soul.

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Law school, anyone?

Nonfiction by | September 2, 2007

To my beloved ones: If I had chosen to stay in law school, I would not be here doing the most important things in the world. Like lying flat on my belly and looking up at the ceiling while dialing the numbers of my friends and lost loves. Or memorizing my Kanji and Hiragana. Or “googling” for scholarships abroad. Wondering what Warren Buffet’s Cherry Coke tastes like. Trying to recount all my significant and memorable days and then feeling sorry for myself after knowing that I only have a few memorable events to recall. Knowing that, at least compared to the others, I am more blessed—never made it easy. Trying to fool myself I am great. Deleting the memories of courtrooms, case digests, case recitations, exams, articles, statutes, and ordinances from my brain and digging deep into my heart for that feeling of integrity and honor I used to have for myself. Playing with my shadow and the shadows of my study lamp, law books piled on top of my study table littered with post-its. Languidly staring at my reflection through the mirror. Wanting to feel remorse for the people I had hurt or hated. Examining the consequences of my choices and finding my way out through literature—I am now, in fact, beginning to read about elves and the geisha. Part of my brain is saying something is missing. There is something I had failed to understand. Is the time to reason all I have now left? Has my time to go back and analyze that missing something passed me by?

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Nonfiction by | August 19, 2007

The members of the Davao Writers Guild regret the passing of fellow writer Josie C. San Pedro and express herewith our condolences to her bereaved family. In her memory, I would like to publish here for the first time an essay that I asked her to write sometime in 2004 for possible inclusion in an anthology I was then editing with Agnes Prieto. The book, Fallen Cradle: Parents on the Loss of a Child, was eventually published by Anvil in 2006, but did not include her piece on her son Mandy because she was not able to return it to me on time after I gave her suggestions for its revision. It was a loss for the book. Now with her passing, she has taken with her a substantial amount of Davao history yet to be written. It will be some time before Davao will find another chronicler of its peoples and times as fervent and well-loved as Tita Josie.

Ricardo M de Ungria
President, DWG

All his friends were there—during the wake in the house, at the church, and at the memorial park. They had sent him off with an affectionate farewell.

When Mandy left for work on that fateful morning of April 26, 1996, it was with his usual jauntiness on board his prized motorcycle. The next time I saw him was in a corner of the emergency room of a hospital as a doctor and several nurses were to work up his heart.

He never woke up. I wonder if he had heard me imploring,” Mandy, don’t give up. Fight, Mandy, fight. Don’t leave us.” Did he hear me praying to God Almighty to give him a little more time with his children?

His life was just beginning, with a loving wife and three beautiful children—ages seven, five, and three, and with another on the way, still floating at four months in his/her mother’s womb. This one will never see the smile on his/her father’s face or feel the warmth of his loving embrace or taste the sweetness of his kisses.

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Review: The House on Calle Seminario and Other Stories

Nonfiction by | August 12, 2007

Josie Carballo Tejada. The House on Calle Seminario & Other Stories, A Collection of Short Story Fiction & Essays. Published by The Davao Writers Guild, Davao City, Philippines as part of its Tubao Books Series 2007. Printed by DCT Printshop. Davao City, Philippines, 2007.

Josie Tejada’s collection of short fiction and essays are a unique contribution towards exploring the as-yet unilluminated area we call the Filipino Soul. It includes an introduction by Aida Rivera-Ford.

Josie’s use of Ilonggo lends a regional ambiance to the already unique Filipino taste of the parochial worlds she paints with her words. Mention of the proverbial Ilonggo “lightning” brings a smile. The period piece entitled “The Magician” elicits a slight melancholy one associates with memories of childhood innocence swept away by the passage of time. There is also the exquisitely painful story of anticipating a friend’s death in “Lunch with Victoria” that reminds us of our, and our friends’, mortality.

From Rosa’s quietly emotional typhoon while looking for her father in the title story, on through “Tales from the Lap,” local folk tales as seen and heard from a child’s perspective of tamawo in “The Maid’s Daughter,” and finally to her eulogic essays on her parents and a sister, one cannot help but identify with emotions bared and experienced. Indeed, it is easy for one to come out of the book with the conclusion that the author is all the protagonists she has created in her fiction, and that she finally admits it through her essays at the end of this slim volume of works.

It is, all in all, a truly delightful book to read in this age of computers and a public media that is out of control.

Scenes of my Childhood

Nonfiction by | August 5, 2007

How dear to my heart are the scenes of my childhood
When fond recollections present them to view…..

Our family moved from Bacolod to Davao in 1956. We lived along Claveria Street just two blocks away from the United Church of Christ at the corner of Bonifacio and Legaspi. Father chose for us to attend this church, not only for its doctrinal similarity to his Presbyterian persuasion, but also for its proximity. Thus did our family become a permanent fixture in the UCCP for the past fifty years.

My childhood memories are permeated with scenes from UCCP. The old wooden Social Hall that once housed the first kindergarten school in Davao City, was also the scene of my sister’s wedding reception, along with many other church related social activities. We had Bible Studies, youth fellowship, prayer, council meetings and parties in that wide-windowed hall just a peeping distance away from the Parsonage.

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