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.

Prayer for Mother Earth

Poetry by | August 5, 2007

We foolish mortals, not knowing when the rain is coming nor the comet; theorizing in our ignorance, at last we begin to behold our very home crumbling in smoke and poison air. Our own destructiveness is hypnotizing in its intensity; this is madness.

The groans of earth can be heard by your saints; while the poets are appalled, feeling in their bones the future not so future debacle, yet their warnings remain unheeded, the public go their merry way, ignorant that the end of their world was long ago prophesied.

Your majesty divine creator; No one can measure your understanding of us foolish mortals. Nothing is hidden from thee, and most surely thou art aware of those small places of the planet where the integrity of your creation is respected and preserved. And as for the rest of us, it is cosmic destruction. The overripe fruit awaits the moment to drop in the furnace.

I do not presume to know where are your human saints that obey your laws and respect your eco-balance, but my prayer is for them, that thou would protect these few, that they would be strong enough to continue as they are so that there would still be a remnant of beautiful earth where birds sing, where grasses wave, where the leaves of the trees would clap their hands, as your word goes forth and returns, O god of mystery, O consuming Fire!

Dance of Life

Poetry by | August 5, 2007

It is funny how leaves dance on their branches.
They spin
With a magnificent finale of letting go
Gracefully playing with the wind.

People dance too.
They hold on
To their dreams, loves, ideologies
As they move on the dance floor.

My dance is limited to swaying and spinning.
My leading man-
My dance partner
Myself too
Still groping for steps.
Sometimes I lose the beat
Go whirling with no direction.

Today my feet are tired.
My toes are beginning to hate me.
My fingers are crying.
I have been dancing wildly.

I feel myself rebelling.

I trip.

I watch the dancing others…

On my shoulder,
I feel a tap.
I see a hand.

I take it.

The Chair

Poetry by | August 5, 2007

You stole it!
You made me sit!
Bit by bit…
Now I’m in a fit!

I missed my education
In a learning institution
Where’s my retribution?
You have all the solutions.

Empty words
I shouldn’t have heard.
I wish I were a bird
Is that something you earned?

It’s eating me, this life
I never did improve my sight
I want to fight
But you withheld my flight.

Oh, I’m in no treat.
I’m nothing but beat,
What’s there to eat?

An instant microwaved seat.

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.

Continue reading Scenes of my Childhood