Ang Paghimaya sa Lawas

Poetry by | February 19, 2023

Sa kangitngit nako una nailhan ang himaya sa lawas.
Wala sulod sa simbahan, apan sa sulod
sa imong gamayng kwarto kon asa gikompisal
nato ang gipangitang kaluwasan.

Mingluhod ko una,
sama sa debotong andam na mangalawat.
Mingpiyong ko
ug gidawat ka sa akong baba.

Kita ang simbahan karong gabhiona
ug ikaw ang akong simbahon.

Saksi ang mga bungbong sa atong pagdayeg.
Saksi ang kama sa pagsalmo natong duha.
Ang mga kamot hu-ot ang pagkupot
sa usag-usa nga murag walay ugma.
Ang mga baba nato gasampit
og paghimaya.
Ug ang pagpangalawat sa atong mga halok
sama sa paghalok sa dagat sa balas—
walay pu-as, walay kataposan.

Mingtindog ko ug mingluhod ka,
ako ang pari ug ikaw na pod ang mingsimba.
Sa kaluwasan nga gipangita sa atong lawas
kita nahimong usa.

John Gilford A. Doquila is a graduate of the BA English (Creative Writing) program of UP Mindanao. Presently, he teaches creative writing and literature subjects to high school students in a Montessori school in Quezon City.

Mama’s Apo

Fiction by | September 18, 2022

Since I came home to Davao for the holidays, Trixie and I have had this ritual of afternoon walks along Mama’s front yard. Trixie’s chocolate point fur and icy blue eyes seem to catch our neighbor’s attention, especially the children. It is an understatement to say that she easily became the darling of the crowd in the subdivision where my mother lives.

But she is more special to Mama’s eyes than any of her pets at home.

She has easily become her baby in a span of weeks since we arrived from Manila. She probably knows that the woman feeding her is my mother. Maybe, cats can smell that too, just like how they know their own kittens by their scent. Mama refuses to give her any dry cat food. She believes it’s harmful for the cat’s kidneys. Instead, she mashes some boiled squash and minces chicken meat for Trixie.

“You used to like this when you were a baby, Raymond,” Mama recalls while she blows the newly boiled squash. “I also used to mash sweet potatoes when squashes were expensive. They were your favorite too!”

Since then, the two have become inseparable. Most afternoons, Trixie keeps her company in her bed having siesta. And at night, she is Mama’s TV buddy while watching her favorite Ang Probinsyano for another episode of Cardo overcoming another near-death experience. Maybe, Cardo was a cat in his past life too.

For a 28-year-old man like me, I have countlessly used Trixie as my response for the undying question thrown at me in family gatherings: “kailan ka magkakapamilya?” Doesn’t family come in all shapes and forms? But how can I tell that to an elderly aunt or uncle stuck with an antiquated idea of what a family is? So, I seldom join family gatherings to save me from lengthy unsolicited advice of having to raise another human being in a country where living costs tons of money none of them are willing to pay anyway. Besides, that is just the tip of the iceberg. They don’t know Mama’s only son is gay.

“You never really liked cats when you were young, Raymond. I know you strayed Mingming away when you were 13 because you didn’t like it taking cat naps on your favorite shirts in the closet,” she says, breaking the afternoon silence while holding Trixie’s leash in one of our afternoon walks.

“What a terrible liar I was! Sorry Ma!” I laugh.

The sunset bleeds the sky orange. Davao’s horizon is kinder than the concrete jungle in Manila, where looking up to the sky is a luxury to do. In Manila, every second counts for a cog in a machine, but here in Davao, time breaths. Mama’s face is glowing, being hit by the gentle sunlight. Her wrinkles growing visible; her smile radiating.

Uy, Trixie not those!” she giggles as she carries Trixie away from chewing the snake plant near the gate.

I grab the cage and let Trixie in. Her blue eyes are begging for me to set her free.

Bukas na naman tayo labas. Mama’s plants are precious, Trixie. You shouldn’t be eating those,” I promise her while handing some cat treats in her bowl.

“Your father was the one who loved plants,” Mama says while cutting the plant’s edge where Trixie bit. “When he was courting me, he never gave me a bouquet of flowers. For him, it was foolish to kill a plant just to show affection. So, he gave me a pot of succulents instead,” she also reveals that Papa was the one propagating the succulents he gave to her.

“Your father changed me, Raymond. Well, love did,” she chuckles, hiding the tone of nostalgia in her voice. “And having these plants around reminds me of him even if he’s gone,” she adds.

“I miss him too, Ma.” 

Papa was one of the doctors in Davao who contracted and succumbed to Covid when the pandemic ravaged the country in April 2020. Although it has been two years since his death, there was never a day I regretted not coming back home to grieve with Mama. Flying back to Davao was impossible then. All flights were canceled. The pandemic robbed me the chance to finally say to my father who I am. So now, I will not let it slip away. 

The dusk settles in. The lamppost in the village starts to light up the street.

“I know what we’ll have for dinner. Spaghetti! Your favorite!” Mama announces, lightening up the mood, and rushes to the kitchen.

Si Rick, Ma.”

My voice halts Mama from walking any further. She turns and looks at me.

Si Rick. He gave Trixie to me as a gift,” I confess.

Anak nga kita. Nagmana ka nga sa akin,” she teases and hugs me. She sits on the couch with me.

She later knew that Rick and I have been together for almost a year now, and I have been meaning to tell her all along. She also knew that I met Rick in the same company I’m working in Manila. And he will be coming over for the holidays to meet Mama, too.

“Disappointed? Why would I be?” she asks surprisingly. Her forehead curls.

“Your only son is … this. And I can’t give you any apo.” My voice softens, embarrassed with what I just said. My aunts’ faces suddenly flash in my mind, whispering the embarrassment that I am.

“Trixie. She’s my apo.”

Mama holds my hands and hugs me.

“And I don’t care what they say,” she assures me. 

“As long as you’re happy. Are you?”

“Yes. Yes, I am.”

Never thought the day would finally come for me to know how it feels to breathe freely. I hug Mama tightly.

“Well, then, that’s all I need to know.”

She kisses me on my cheek.

I follow her to the kitchen where she asks me to help her prepare our dinner while Trixie patiently waits in her cage.

December night’s cool breeze creeps in the house, but I could only taste the sweetness of Mama’s newly cooked spaghetti filling my stomach and my heart full and warm.

Gilford is a graduate of the BA English (Creative Writing) program of UP Mindanao. He is currently teaching creative writing and literature courses to high school students in a Montessori school in Quezon City. While doing so, he’s also studying his master’s degree in history at UP Diliman.


Ang Gipaambit Gikan Sa Tubig*

Poetry by | May 16, 2022

Mitikuko ko ilalom sa gripo
ug gipaawas ang tubig paingon
sa akong gamayng lawas.
Midailos kini sa akong tangkugo
paingon sa akong likod. Pagkalutaw
sa paminaw! Gisubay ko
ang pag-abot sa tubig
sa akong batiis nga mihalok
sa salog. Ang akong paa misidlak
sa pagkabasa niini: mga bituong mipilit
sa akong panit. Mikisi-kisi
ang akong mga tiil
kay wala kuno damha ang pag-abot
sa tubig nga dugay ra
gipaabot, manluluwas
sa akong pagkalunod. Mipahiyom
ang akong mga mata sa nasaksihang
misteryo nga kon mahibaw-an
latos sa bakus ni Papa unya
ang matilawan. Maayo ra sab
nga amang ang mga bungbong ug
wala kini makakat-on paglibak kanako.
Miluhod ko atubangan sa baldeng
puno og tubig, sa bag-ong kalibotan
nga gahulat sa giila kong dagat,
diin ko mas dawat,
diin ko mas luwas. 

Kas-a, gisaaran kong Mama
nga sa dagat kuno ko mag-birthday.
Otso anyos ko niadtong nasakpan niya
sa baybayon ang misteryo
sa akong kinaiya. Apan siyete anyos pa ko,
sa c.r. nga akong gingharian,
ang iyang anak unang nahimong
usa ka sirena.

*First published in Kabisdak on 9 September 2021.

John Gilford A. Doquila is a graduate of the BA English (Creative Writing) program of UP Mindanao. Presently, he teaches creative writing and literature subjects to high school students in a Montessori school in Quezon City.



Nonfiction by | May 31, 2021

báyot n. 1 sissy¹. 2 male homosexual².

source: A Dictionary of Cebuano Visayan, by John U. Wolff

¹ Gisumbag ko ni Papa kay hinhin daw ko molihok. Ana siya di daw kini angayan para nako nga iyang bugtong anak nga lalaki. Unsa na lang daw ingnon sa iyang mga kompare (nga mga palahubog ug bahog ilok)? Maayo na lang dawat ko ni Mama. Unsaon ba uroy pagpagahi og nilihokan oy? Wala man nako na tuyo-a kon ganahan ko molakaw pina-Pia Alonzo Wurztbach ba. Ay, Catriona Gray diay.

Idol jod nako na sila ay. Kabalo ko sa akong kaugalingon, nga pareho nila, aduna koy kapadulngan sa akong kinabuhi. Silver lining ba, matod pang Catriona. Nga dili lang matanggong akong kinabuhi isip mamaligya-ay og bulad sa Cogon. Not that I’m complaining, apan naa pay mas dakong mahitabo angay para nako. I could feel it! Nga akong pangandoy nga mahimong English teacher mas mohatag og kahulogan sa akong kinabuhi. Dili lang para nako, para pod sa akong matudloan puhon. Pak! “Beauty with a purpose” ba! Ganern!

Apan si Papa mga boxing man nuon ang ipatan-aw nako oy. Dapat daw pareho kong Manny Pacquaio kagahi. Para niya, kini daw ang sukdanan sa usa ka lalaki. Frustrated boxer daw jod si Papa ingon pang Mama. Iya daw jod ning pangandoy atung bata-bata pa siya kay kini daw ang moluwas kaniya sa kapobrehon, apan wa madayon katong nag-ila silang Mama. Mao nang makahunahuna pod ko kon mao ba ni ang rason ngano masumbagan niya si Mama inig mahubog siya. Magawas kaha niya sa pagsumbag ang kalagot sa mga wa madayon nga mga pangandoy? Pamaagi kaha niya kini aron mas mahilwas niya ang kapait sa kinabuhi pamaagi sa mga bugno sa bukton ug paa ni Mama?

That’s why, I never glorify the violence in boxing. Yesss! Kasugakod akong English noh? Of course, I’m both beauty and brains! Charot! Bitaw, mao nga naningkamot jod kong makahuman sa kursong AB English para mapadayon nako akong pangandoy. Reading Roland Barthes by day, selling bulad by night ang drama, sizt! Kon kinahanglan nako antoson ang baho sa bulad nga mopilit sa akong uniform kada magbantay ko sa among pwesto samtang gabasa kog libro, antoson nako, apan dili nako maantos ang pagpasakit ni Papa kang Mama.

Niabot ra jod ang panahon nga ang pagbinat nako sa respeto para kang Papa, sama sa usa ka lastiko, naputol na. Ug kabalo ang kinsa may nakasinati sa pagbugto sa lastiko nga aduna kini pataban nga kasakit.

“Mga yawa! Wala na sa’y kwarta?” ingon ni Papa nga nanimahong RH (Red Horse). Wala mitingog si Mama. Nagpadayon si Mama og hugas sa kusina.

“Amang man diay ning akong mga kauban aning panimalaya! Animal!” miduol siyang Mama ug mi-aksiyong birahon iyang buhok.

“Tistingi!” misyagit si Mama ug gitutok niya ang kutsilyo kang Papa.

Sa unang higayon nako nakita ang kakurat ug kahadlok sa mga mata ni Papa nga wala mamilok. Mora siyag nakakita’g aswang. Katong higayona ra pod nako nakita ang mga ugat sa kamot ni Mama nga milatay morag halas padulong sa kutsilyo nga gikaptan niya og pag-ayo. Gapangurog iyang kamot apan dili sa kahadlok, kon dili sa kasuko—kasuko nga dugay na niyang gitanom sa iyang dughan sa mga tuig nga minglabay. Iyang mga mata napuno sa pagmahay ug pagdumot nga mingdagayday pinaagi sa iyang mga luha.

Sa unang higayon pod nako nakita mihilak si Mama. Morag gikumot akong dughan. Wala ko kabantay nangurog na diay akong kinumo. Ug dadto nako nailhan ang akong inner Darna. I knew I was more than just that stunning beki selling bulad in the market.
Mipaspas ang pagpitik sa akong dughan nga mora bag mobuto ko. Ingon ani pod seguro si Narda inig mo-transform siya og Darna noh? Midagan ko paingon kang Papa ug gisumbag iyang namulang aping tungod sa kahubog. Nahapla siya sa salog. Dili lang ko segurado kon sa kakusog kaha to sa akong sumbag o sa iyang kahubog, apan katong gabhiona segurado ko nakita na niya ang gipangitang kagahi nako.

² Bayot ko apan dili ko talawan.

Gilford was a student of the BA English (Creative Writing) of UP Mindanao, and now he is currently taking up his graduate studies in history at UP Diliman.