Poetry by | April 14, 2019

More to roses than their roots
they fake love swaying
with the wind,
the inevitability of change.

Night attends
to the garden
to lull them
to sleep.

             The weak let go
and weather with the season;
yellow leaves go first.

Roots dig deep,
below the surface
wider than branches.

By the day
the gardener names
roses, and only roses;

the leaves have all

Darylle Rubino is a faculty member of the Department of Humanities in UP Mindanao. This poem was published in an anthology entitled Continue reading Tokhang

Home by Sunrise

Nonfiction by | January 27, 2019

Its tongue twister of a name born out of the B’laan tongue, “Flom’lok” means “hunting grounds.” When I was new in Davao, every acquaintance I met had a hard time pronouncing the name. /P/ push air out of the mouth for the first letter and roll over the rhythmic /l/ lulling of O’s, savoring the “mmm…” in the middle to suddenly stop at the sharpness of a /k/, suspending the tip of the tongue afloat inside. “Polomolok.”

“Where are you from again?”


“Pol, Pol, where is it located?”

“Between Gensan and Koronadal; 17 kilometers from Pacquiao’s city of origin and thrice that distance to the other side, the former capital, of South Cotabato.”

“Wait, so Koronadal is formerly Marbel?”

“Yes. It’s complicated.”

“Pol, Polo…”


A short awkward silence, then the conversation would progress to the difference between the three Cotabatos.
“So, how’s the war?”
Continue reading Home by Sunrise

2017 Davao Writers Workshop Fellows

Editor's Note by | October 16, 2017

The Davao Writers Guild is pleased to announce the fellows to the 2017 Davao Writers Workshop.

The fellows for poetry are Marc Jeff Lañada from General Santos City, Jay Yañez from Iligan City, Jan Vernix Atis from the Island Garden City of Samal, Innah Alaman, Ian Derf Salvaña, and Marie Crestie Joie Contrata from Davao City, and Diosel Uyangoren from Maragusan, Compostela Valley.

The fellows for fiction are Mubarak Tahir, Mivida Gabrielle Garcia, and Angelo Lenard Yu from Davao City, Ralph Jake Wabingga from Sulop, Davao del Sur, and David Jayson Oquendo from Polomolok, South Cotabato.

The fellows for creative nonfiction are Charmaine Carrillo from Cagayan de Oro City, Hannah Rae Villarba from Davao City, and Erlyn Piolo from Surallah, South Cotabato.

The 2017 Davao Writers Workshop is organized by the Davao Writers Guild in cooperation with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the University of the Philippines Mindanao.

The 2017 Davao Writers Workshop runs from November 30, 2017 to December 4, 2017.

Workshop sessions are open to those who are interested to listen to the discussions.

A Study of Sound

Poetry by | October 23, 2016

If mothers were flowers
their mouths bear the burden of bees
to kiss the world new
while the old pass with the dews.
They open to sunlight
their curtains bare to passing winds,
singing the growing gardens.

Watered every once in moments
with tenements and memoirs
moist inside the leaves, joyed
with the voice of have-been seeds
to little ones rearing up
reaching up what they
cannot reach.

Still in graceful steady stance
weighs on their eyes only loveliness,
only themselves only beauty
sought in moving on
and remembering
the singing of growing gardens.

Darylle “Darsi” Rubino is a graduate of the Creative Writing program of the University of the Philippines Mindanao. He resides in Cabaguio Avenue, Davao City, where he spends time (a lot of time) making omelettes and drinking tea.

Poetry is Alive!

Nonfiction by | March 27, 2016

Program Description: Poetry flirts with many forms and adapts novel “publishing” routes just to get itself out there. Where can the audience for poetry find the Filipino poem today?

Poet, Gemino Abad once said in a writers workshop, I believe that was a panel discussion about a poem, “all literary works must move towards poetry. Poetry is the finest language.” Poetry, therefore, is not flirting with other genres, but it is poetry that is being flirted with. True, there are experimental works that adapt poetry into other forms; say a novel in verses, or on the extreme side, a series of example phrases & sentences lifted directly from the Anvil-Macquarie Dictionary of Philippine English for High School as in “Philippine English: A Novel” by Angelo Suarez, which is, as a whole, a poem. Yet works like these are not for the goal of “putting poetry out there” but for creativity itself. Poetry in the Philippines has already grown and has adapted a lot of forms, and I am just going to discuss one that is very much prevalent these days.

Well, there will always be that assumption that poetry is the least popular of all literary genres. Most of my friends would turn down a page when they see that the words are written in lines (or verse), even the ones who read more often than usual. Writers already understand that there is not much money to expect from publishing a collection of poems. One would then assume that it would need a lot of effort for poetry to get noticed. But that is already an old thought. On the other hand; poetry is the easiest to market or the easiest to deliver. Since the start of slam poetry or spoken word, Poetry had become a well-liked form of entertainment. It has even become a sport in some parts of the world.

Poetry Slam or spoken word poetry is a technique that utilizes wordplay and story-telling. The poems are written for the purpose of being performed in front of an immediate audience. The technique originated from the poetry of African-Americans in Harlem (Marc Smith, 1984, Chicago). It often includes collaboration and experimentation with other art forms such as music, theater, and dance. And so, the poet will have to exhibit a certain degree of acting as well as some appropriate dynamics in public speaking and body language. Surely, schools have exposed us to the more complicated poems, there are even poets whom poets only understand. It is for these experiences that some of us believe that poetry is hard to understand and hard to write. But let’s leave those to academics; spoken word brings poetry to the people for making it simpler and the art accessible. A great tool is relativity. Human beings are sad by default. What also made spoken word famous is the subject matter that they discuss. But let us leave that for later. I have a paragraph or two for that. Moving on…

“Finding” poetry hasn’t been a problem in major cities and other parts of the Philippines. Let’s say for example in Manila, spoken word events are E V E R Y W H E R E. Seriously, a spoken word event can be as popular as a gig for rock bands. Listening to someone talk about his or her past, about the wounds opened and re-opened is now a trend. The most famous in the North, is Word Anonymous. One is even becoming a TV Star, Juan Miguel Severo, has a spot in “On the Wings of Love.” Haha. I always thought poetry can never be a profession in the Philippines, and here’s this guy making money out of it. And last February, well-known spoken word artists/poets came to the Philippines and did a sold out show, Sarah Kaye and Phil Kaye. Yeah, artists or poets, go on tour now. Before, we hold poetry readings where some people go to, now poetry readings are sold out shows.

In Cebu, just for poetry reading events, or just literature itself, there are four organizations that keep the wheel going; Bathalad, WILA (Women in Literary Arts), Nomads, and Tinta (UP Cebu’s lit org). These organizations team up to come up with poetry reading. Hearing this being told to me by a friend, Jona Bering, it was in full zest, “Yes, Dar! The poetry scene is growing. Mostly college students, gender issues are frequent topics, and yeah, some are not that good yet, but we are getting there.” When I was in Dumaguete, they were like holding a poetry reading every week, or it was just so timely that there were several authors who launched their book that time.

In Cagayan de Oro, Nagkahiusang Magsusulat sa CDO and Bathalad (Mindanao Chapter) are having poetry readings from time to time. If not Spoken Word, it is Improv. We see that there is a growing interest in Poetry in various parts of the country. Poetry readings are everywhere. I suppose that culture, be it famous or not, will never die.

And of course, here in Davao, we have a LitOrgy. Young Davao Writers, we can say is the unofficial, younger version of Davao Writers Guild. Well, it was for Davao Writers’ Guild’s several poetry reading events that LitOrgy was born. In general, it is a biannual poetry reading event that is now being rebranded as a spoken word event. Angely Chi, or as we address her, the Patron Saint of Davao Arts, said in an essay, “I am reminded that LitOrgy was not only supposed to be a “literary orgy” of the writing and the reading public, but also a coming together of people from different disciplines whose texts are not found in pages but in their bodies, in their songs, and in their images.”

Bragging aside, last August, the Young Davao Writers organized the seventh LitOrgy, called it “Seventh Seers,” which tickets got sold out in about 2 hours when the ticket reservations were open. Because we wanted each poetry reading event to be an intimate one, else the purpose of the whole thing would be defeated, we had to make the goers reserve their slots. There were still a lot of people who were asking for passes, so we organized a second show. And August 30 and 31 packed the Red Rooster Bar along MacArthur Highway with an attentive crowd who went there not only to listen but brought with them their own poems to read in the open mic. As they say, the orgy happens in the open mic. Poetry reading events usually has only less than ten readers of performers, and the rest of the night, which expands to about two to three hours until the bar closes, is allotted to the open mic. And it is wonderful to discover gems among the audiences. So parang scouting din yung open mic, so we can find fresh blood to join the next LitOrgy events. So if I will be asked if poetry is alive? Yes, poetry in general, very much.

There will always be critics to a technique. Even I myself have reservations. Spoken word poetry had been a good outlet of self-expression. If you check out videos online, the usual topics would be pain, unsuccessful relationship, gender issues; these are one of the reasons that I have grown tired of checking out youtube videos. Spoken word, I suppose, is a detouring from the Philippine Literary tradition due to the utilization of certain techniques. Say for example, sentimentality, purple patches, and cliché in order to capture their attention and also to be relatable. You know the word, “hugot”?” It might be annoying to some but it is what sells. The lines, “these hands wrote your name on pages/ after blank pages then colored it with the brightest fireworks/ of January first and February fourteenth” borders to the cliché but hey, this works for audience who are just there for the “feels.”

Here’s the catch, spoken word poetry might not be the most brilliant technique in poetry for majority of people who know better, but it opens the opportunity for other techniques. In Young Davao Writers’ events, LitOrgy, there are always open mics. Anything goes; all kinds of poets, all kinds of technique. And when some of the people in the crowd become interested enough, they will start to look for other sources, for the purpose of quenching the thirst for literature (that is also the reason why some events are not the frequent, so that people will hunger for it) and also if they try to write themselves. And so the cycle begins or continues.

Whenever there is a poetry reading, there is a small BLTX; the zine culture continues. Poetry books are not likely to be the ones displayed on the glass windows of NBS, Fully Booked, etc., and the ratio of poets getting published to the poets is too less to many. Most publishers, in the name of profits, will not really prioritize poetry over the more popular genre. There are no longer shelves for poetry books in leading bookstore; more often than usual, they are just mixed up with other Filipino Literary books; but poetry will always find a way to get out. One effective example of this is the zine culture; independent publishing by single individuals or by organizations, say for example, LitSoc, the academic organization for Creative Writing Students in UP Mindanao, compiles their works in a bundle of bond papers stapled to become a coffee table book and sells it during a proper event; a BLTX or a poetry reading where the organizers were kind enough to set up a table for “merch.” Yeah, I had a friend, who’s a great poet; he won an international award for poetry last year, compiled five of his poems in a bond paper, folded it in a fancy way, and then sold the collection for 30php. Clearly, it was not for the profits but to get read.

Although there are constraints put up by the market for Poetry books, authors will always find a way to put their works out there. In the internet age, everything is possible. One can just start a blog to broadcast his or her works to the public. It’s as easy as signing up for a wordpress account or other free hosting sites that provides you a subdomain, or if you have the money, buy a domain name, a webhosting account, set up the site, and voila, you’ll have your own corner in the internet where you can post your poems or other works. There are a lot of young people today who are trying to write however they can and post it in social media sites. So Filipino poetry, in this time and age, is literally everywhere since you can just access them anytime you need to. You can just read on, say for example, authors featured in various sites,,, and the rest. Or someone can do that for you by posting a copy of your poem or a link to your site, or to a site where it is available. Restricting yourself to be read in free mediums will always be your prerogative. Some prefer to keep their poems to themselves until they are ready to be in physical pages, some would resort to express themselves in the open world of the internet. Nonetheless, this is how poetry copes up with the times.

I have always been told that a good poem is one that works great on stage and looks good on the page.  So therefore, a poet does not stop at spoken word. It is just a phase. The page is as wide as it can be for the many creative minds that we have in the country.

Darylle “Darsi” Rubino is a graduate of the Creative Writing program of the University of the Philippines Mindanao. This essay was first delivered in the 6th Philippine International Literary Festival on November 20–21, 2015 at Seda Abreeza, Davao City.

A Brief History of Body Parts

Poetry by | March 1, 2015

Six years ago, these hands wrote your name on pages
after blank pages then colored it with the brightest fireworks
of January first and February fourteenth; like a quark soup
of admiration brewing a new artificial universe of bliss
then a sudden Big Bang and falling for a cloudless night
when the stars are out to trace lines in the sky to form
your face as the newest constellation along with metaphors
equivalent to “Can you be my girlfriend?” and “Yes, I love you too.”

Five years ago, these lips whispered Shakespeare’s love sonnets
within shared breaths where inhales and exhales rhymed;
when at every exchange of air from hope filled lungs
our tongues were mutual in longing for each other’s that tasted
like wines aged to serve one and one purpose only – to salivate
sacred liquors that flowed from breasts of euphoric gods.
This skin was yours to conquer with satin soft touches,
where surrenders were automatic; where losing was a glorious resolve.

Four years ago, these eyes wondered in awe at the morning light
caught in your snow white cheeks until your theatre curtain eyelids
open up to another day dreaming in a sunrise warmed bed
of promises of thirty-minute forever’s and eternal first times.
These feet wandered about the seven wonders of your hips,
the wake after the earthquake that destroyed
five Catholic churches in an apartment for one;
the plains where harvests of “You are my everything” sprouted
as plentiful as the abundance of what was once Fertile Crescent’s.

Three years ago, these arms held on to a thin thread trust and these palms
felt how brittle honesty can be when distance didn’t mean peace
like the white walls in my mother’s hospital room but only silences
after questions patterned to “Hoy! Naunsa na ka diha?” and time
bound assurances, “Paabot lang; mahuman lang ni nga problema
magpuyo na ko diha. Pramis!” and other frets frolicking about the four corners
of what was once we called home, with the cracks on its foundations
multiplied by infidelity born out of “I can no longer stand missing you
every day anymore.” On your other side of our world, the wallpapers
were peeling off while your room was emptied to welcome a new pseudo
infinite; painting the walls with the colours of a name that wasn’t of mine.

Two years ago, this liver had to survive long and multiple
episodes of misery induced alcohol intakes, drinking the past
as if every shot were one by one the strands of your hair
that were soft with nostalgia and black as the cruelty of fate.
These kidneys suffered sleepless days to work sadness off,
this stomach thinned from gastric juices over a diet bordering
to an ulcer of you and anticipated slow suicide over hunger
while waiting on these knees that fell hard to the ground
at every begging for a miracle that you’ll come back,
and this head, in the midst of everything, went mad!

One year ago, these hands were just hands without a reason
or a name to embellish except to write “bitch, you left me
when I needed you most.” These lips dried out from screaming
“Dili ko bitter!” and “Kulcob! Kulcob mong tanan!”
These eyes saw only sepia colored sheets on cold lonely beds
and greyed out apartment walls with no frames to hang,
with no color to match but only blues and solitude. This right foot
walked towards Polomolok while the left I have to pull out
from a grave with your name on the niche.

Now these hands just wrote this poem.
These kidneys, liver, stomach and knees are all doing fine.
And this head, this mind, knows very well that the dead
is supposed to remain dead

and that you

[in time and space]

the previous universe,

is just and ever changing feeling.

Darsi performed ‘A Brief History of Body Parts’ at LitOrgy 6, held at Cork and Barrel in Obrero last month.

Tinapay Republic

Nonfiction by | April 6, 2014

Tayong mga Pilipino ay napakapanatiko sa tinapay. Tinapay sa almusal, tinapay bago mag-almusal, tinapay pagkatapos mag-jogging bago mag-almusal, tinapay sa meryenda bago mananghalian, at para sa mga walang pera, yung tipong mga taong mga pobreng tinapay sa lipunan, ito na din ang pananghalian. Sa mga medyo mayaman, ito ang minsang panghimagas, lalagyan ng medyo mahal na asukal at tada! Ang tig-singkong pandesal at tigkinse na ang isang kusing na piraso.

Nasubukan mo na bang ipalaman ang ice cream sa tinapay? Palagi yan sa piging ng mga pobreng tinapay sa lipunan. Kung walang ice cream ay yung bihon o kung nakakaluwag ay ang walang kamatayang spaghetti.

Grabe andami na nating naimbento mula sa tinapay. Mula sa pagsawsaw nito sa tradisyunal na kape hanggang pagsawsaw nito sa coke at kung minsan sa juice hanggang sa pinalamanan ito ng peanut butter, cheese shizz at kapwa nito tinapay na nagkukunwaring keso o tsokolate.

Continue reading Tinapay Republic

after ee cummings’ l(a

Poetry by | September 15, 2013

by Darylle Rubino

the leaf fell
and left to wither
in sun and rain.
(moving on)
comes a flood
washing it off
to darkness of sewers,
(a journey)
then to unnamed
rivers, to unknown banks.
upon clay soil,
it’s breaking, melting,
untold and unheard of;
on which a tree stands
shedding off more

Darylle Rubino is a graduate of BAEnglish (Creative Writing) from the University of the Philippines Mindanao.