In the Company of Strangeness: From Davao to Bucas Grande (Part 1)

Nonfiction by | May 21, 2017

A journey is only as good as the company you travel with.

I first knew about Bucas Grande some eight years ago, and thought it might just be the most beautiful place in the Philippines. Its images online showed inviting turquoise waters around deserted island hills teeming with foliage. I remember too, quite distinctly, a picture of a woman wearing a blue bikini swimming among yellow jellyfishes. It looked so fantastic—paradise with a twist!—and I yearned to be there. Someday.

However, with my miniscule social circle, I never found a friend who wanted to go there—or, to be exact, someone who’s willing to pay to go there—even as the place grew in popularity to the point that there are now various tour packages featuring it. So when an old acquaintance posted on Facebook that he’s organizing a trip to Bucas Grande, I asked to be in immediately, never mind that I didn’t know anybody else coming.

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On Separation

Poetry by | March 12, 2017

Your parting kiss fell
like a mote of dust leaving
a bruise in my heart.

~ ~ ~
I still dare not move
the empty cup of coffee
you marked with your lips.

~ ~ ~
Her fragrance lingers—
dancing in the room, bottled
by the falling rain.

~ ~ ~
Years on, I’d still flinch
from hearing the song she sang
on the night we met.

~ ~ ~
A room full of stillness

Like volumes upon volumes of books—our words,
the ones we left unsaid—in a beautiful, lost library.

Gabriel is a graduate of UP Mindanao’s Creative Writing Program. He currently works as a web content writer.


A Study in Bliss

Fiction by | June 14, 2009

It is youth’s felicity as well as its insufficiency that it can never live in the present, but must always be measuring up the day against its own radiantly imagined future.
—F. Scott Fitzgerald, “A Diamond as Big as the Ritz”

For now, Rico is rinsing the soap out of his freshly-washed sheets. He puts on a particular effort into wringing each blanket and bedcover so that the muscles on his arms become perceptibly taut and sinewy. He is aware that his guest, a Jane, is nearby and is giving him as much concentration as her sideway glances would allow her. Sitting on a monobloc chair, she is making a show at pulling a hangnail using her teeth.

The fact that he is earning a comfortable income writing online had given him the confidence to invite her over to his apartment; that he has never spoken to her before – except to remind her of a deadline – made her accept. As the inviting was done via text messaging, prompted by Jane’s unpleasant lunch with another boy, they are now at the rooftop of Rico’s apartment while on the none-too-romantic task of laundering.

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Variable Equations

Poetry by | September 21, 2008

(in memory of Dr. Norberto Navarette Jr.)

“—the uh,”
spoke the math professor
lying on
his deathbed, his cancer
spreading on
his head.

“Uh,” he said, now losing
memory, “the value of—
not fixed: trans-
mutes…” His colleague
listens on, and in
sympathy he understands

that words
are just our means
of holding
down indefinite values.

Come to say
goodbye, a last problem
to solve,
he finally finds the value
of x (the elusive
variable) in the lapses
the dying man’s words.

Gabriel Millado is a BA in English student of UP Mindanao.

Ant Travels

Fiction by | January 27, 2008

From beneath the ground, across the leaves, up and down a wall, and into the cookie jar – the ants traveled, carrying crumbs of cookies back to their colony. Now and then, they would stop by and greet each other by brushing their antennas and then carried on with their merry hauling.

From far away – on the adjacent floor – the ant Antonino watched his fellow workers with a great deal of confusion and frustration.

Antonino had found a shortcut. By coming out of the edge of the colony, and passing through a crack on the wall, he could come out just beside the cookie jar. It would cut the length of traveling to less than half! His problem, however, was that the other ants did not want to take this route.

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