In Need of Care

Nonfiction by | May 31, 2015


Origin: Middle English, from Middle French or Latin; Middle French adopter, from Latin adoptare, from ad- + optare to choose

transitive verb

1: to take by choice into a relationship; especially: to take voluntarily (a child of other parents) as one’s own child

2: to take up and practice or use <adopted a moderate tone>

3: to accept formally and put into effect <adopt a constitutional amendment>

4: to choose (a textbook) for required study in a course

5: to sponsor the care and maintenance of <adopt a highway>

intransitive verb

: to adopt a child <couples choosing to adopt>

(Merriam-Webster Dictionary)


“Paano pala namatay ang mommy mo?”

“Diabetic kasi siya”

“Hala. Dapat ikaw mag dahan-dahan ka.”

“Di man. Di man ako maapektuhan.”

“Bakit man?”

“Adopted kasi ako.”

I am an adopted child. My parents told me when I was 10 years old. They thought it was the right time to tell me that I was because I was starting to ask questions and wondered why people looked at me differently during family gatherings. I also wondered why my playmates would call me ―adopted whenever we had a fight during one of our games.

“May gusto kami sabihin sa iyo”

“Maalala mo noon na may nagasabi sa iyo na adopted ka lang?”



That was how my parents broke the news to me that I was indeed an adopted child. My tears that night represented every moment of my childhood where I felt confused why my playmates teased and why my relatives looked at me as if they were wondering how and why I got in to the family.

My mom said I met my real mother once. She wanted me to remember that day. She wanted me to remember the scene when I saw this woman sitting in front of her desk, crying. I did remember. But I couldn’t picture out the face of that woman. I couldn’t even remember how I felt when I saw that woman. My mom said I could meet her again. I said yes. But deep inside I felt it was unnecessary because I was not looking for her and didn’t feel the need to see her.

Continue reading In Need of Care

Chrysanthemums, Sirens, and Remembering

Nonfiction by | April 12, 2015

The jeepney that my friend and I were in lingered for a while across the emergency room of San Pedro Hospital; the driver was waiting for more passengers. I heard the siren of an ambulance approaching and I was curious to find out what was going to be brought out of the vehicle.

“Matanda na babae,” My friend Iggy told me.

“Parang. Feel ko din,” I said.

The ambulance stopped at the door of the emergency room and a girl about my age or younger got down from the ambulance. She was wearing house clothes– shorts that were big for her and a grey shirt. I didn’t exactly know if she was crying because her facial expression was not clear from where I was but when the gurney was being brought down from the vehicle I immediately covered my eyes with my hands and kept saying “Oh my God, Oh my God.” I saw the medic doing CPR on a man. The man’s body reacted lifelessly from the force of the medic’s hands. My heart was beating fast and I wanted to cry but I stopped myself from crying because I didn’t want the other people in the jeepney to see me cry.

Continue reading Chrysanthemums, Sirens, and Remembering


Poetry by | June 1, 2014

Sa pagtingin ko
sa bawat sulok ng silid na ito
may pinapalabas na maiikling sine
sa utak ko.
Sa sahig,
kung saan ka umupo
habang umiiyak
at pilit na inayos
ang ating relasyon.
Sa katre,
sa mga umaga at gabing magkasama tayong lumangoy
sa kumot at unan
at narinig ang tunog ng kahoy
na tila mga dagang nagsasalita.
Sa sahig,
kung saan ka umupo
habang umiiyak
at pilit na inayos
ang ating relasyon.
Sa pintuan,
kung saan dumaan ka palabas sa aking buhay
at iniwan ang amoy mong dumikit sa mga dingding,
sa katre, sa banyo, sa sahig, sa unan, sa kumot,
sa buong kwarto.
Kahit ilang beses linisin,
kahit ilang beses palitan ang mga gamit,
kahit ilang beses manigarilyo at punuin ng usok ang silid
‘di mawala-wala ang amoy
na nakasanayan na.
Kulang na lang ay sunugin ang kwarto
o ‘di kaya humanap ng ibang amoy ng tao
na pwedeng pumalit
at matulungan akong
alisin ka.

Ella Jade Isamel is a BA English major in Creative Writing student in UP Mindanao.

She Had Her Way

Nonfiction by | May 11, 2014

April 1 was my mother’s first day in the hospital. My mother could still talk and she could still move around but she kept feeling pain in her legs. She still had her dialysis, which was already part of her routine since she had her stroke. The doctors advised us that my mother’s legs needed to be amputated because they were starting to create pus that was going into her blood stream. She was then moved to the ICU because there were already complications in her body and she needed to be watched over very carefully. My family talked about the decision and we decided that both legs should be cut off. The doctors had to take away the source of the pus so that they could easily clean my mother’s blood by dialysis. But the doctors were having problems because they couldn’t do the operation as my mother was starting to weaken and they had to operate on her immediately. But before that, they needed bags of blood for the dialysis. We couldn’t get enough blood in the city so my sister Elaine, my brother Elmer, and his wife Cora had to travel all the way to Tagum City just to get blood.

When I saw my mother after the operation, I couldn’t help but cry because she had become noticeably smaller because of the amputation. We tried to lighten the mood around her, telling her that she could still have new legs. My mother just smiled. She wanted to see her legs but hospital procedure wouldn’t let her see them.

On the 8th of April, my mother had her last dialysis. Continue reading She Had Her Way

Okey Ra, Basta Gwapa: A Monologue

Play by , , | June 3, 2012

Character: Miranda, a 27 year-old saleslady. Wears a white long-sleeved blouse, a navy blue knee-high skirt, and black high-heeled shoes. Her long black hair is neatly ponytailed.

Setting: At a department store. Men’s wear section, outside a fitting room.

A male customer exits from the fitting room. He hands over two t-shirts to Miranda, pretends to be on the phone, and quickly walks away. Miranda folds one t-shirt neatly and hangs the other back on display.

She smiles.

Miranda: Uy! Ikaw man diay na. Kumusta naman? Ako? Okey ra. Mao lang gihapon, trabahante diri sa G-mall. Sa una sa pangkids ko na assign. Pero karon nabalhin ko sa men’swear. Dali ra tong pambata. Dali ra kaestorya ang mga mama. Dali ra atimanon.

Kapoy kaayo manarbaho uy. Mag make-up pa ka. Kailangan puti imong nawong, unya pula og lips, human pink og blush-on para dili murag luspad ba, para presentable gyod. Sige na lang kay malingaw man pod ko mangarte sa akong kaugalingon. Bahalag tag-isa ko ka oras sa samin basta motrabaho ko nga gwapa. Siyempre no! Human naa pa gyod ning mag-heels-heels ba. Dili ra baya gyod ko anad mag-heels-heels kay naga tsinelas ra man tawon ko kon molakaw. Natakilpo bitaw ko ton kas-a. Da! Danghag man. May gani sulbad ra og tutho-tutho ug haplas-haplas og dahons bayabas. Pero unsaon ta man wa man koy mabuhat. Mao man ang rules. Maong mutuman na lang pod ko kay mawad-an man sad kog trabaho kon di ko mosunod.

Naa pa ning palda-palda na hastang mubua. Tong kas-a lagi sa jeep. Wa ko kabantay. Hapit lagi milugwa akong bilat. Nipis pa ra ba tawon akong panting gigamit kay wa pa ko kapalit og bag-o. Hasta lagi. May na lang gani gi-alerto ko ni manang mamaligyaay og kinason sa akong atbang. Ulaw kaayo to ba.

O! lagi sa men’s wear ko na assign. Sus kining mga lalaki mas pili-an pa man intawon sila kaysa sa mga bayi. Pili diri, pili didto. Ukay diri, ukay na pod didto. Mosukod ani nga mga design human lahi nga size kuhaon. Dayon, mu-ingon rag…

Continue reading Okey Ra, Basta Gwapa: A Monologue

The Sound of Death

Poetry by | May 16, 2010

What is the sound of death for you? Silence?
No hymns and screams and cries? Just pain inside?
You don’t feel hate, anger, or malevolence—
Just solitude. Everything else you hide.
For me death sounds like distant screams at dawn,
Screaming and crying infants left alone,
Running footsteps on stone pavements and lawn,
And the high pitched ring of the telephone.
The constant counting of one, two, and three
and the fading wail of an ambulance.
Quiet street and rustling leaves of a tree.
Seeing the tree’s shadow reflect a dance.
Electric fan on, myself praying
To God that dad will come back home breathing.

Ella Jade Ismael, a writing major in UP Mindanao, was a fellow at the recent DWG Writers Workshop.