Fiction by | December 9, 2018

The pale orange color that lit the streets of Verga Subdivision in Bunawan switched on right before the sun started to set. The doors and windows had to be shut to keep the mosquitoes out. For most kids in the neighborhood, it was time to go home. For most parents, it was time to make dinner while they listened to local news on the television. The houses I passed by had their porches lit, the owners turning their lights on for relatives on their way home. Even the shabby houses of settlers in the area were loud and bright.

Our house was not far from the highway, but I had to walk two blocks the other way around before finally going home. During the day, our house didn’t stand out. But at night, it would be lit from inside with candles. Our house—which had two storeys, a garage that could park two cars, and a closed mini shop on the front—used to be as loud and bright as other houses in the neighborhood.

I used my phone, which I’d charged to full capacity in class earlier that day, to light my way to the front door. Our doorbell was so loud it could draw the neighbors’ attention. So, I knocked until I heard footsteps that tried to be discreet in an empty house so quiet. The curtain behind the window next to the front door moved a little, a pointless move since the porch was so dark.

“It’s me, Nay,” I told my mother. The door opened and the smell of lit candles wafted to my nose.

“Nganong nagab-ihan naman sab ka?”
Continue reading Orange


Poetry by | April 2, 2017

You stroked the line
from my neck
down to my spine
and stopped
at every bump
of bone.

You traced
the ink planets
and kissed them
to life.
They rotated
with the flutter
of your fingertips.

Their weather
changed with every
hiss of your breath.
The room went dark.
Pin lights
started to appear

and the worlds
orbited along
my stomach
in the expanse
of my room.
The weight
of the universe
is off my back.

Marie Crestie Joie is a creative writing student from UP Mindanao.


Where He Left

Poetry by | December 25, 2016

The room smelled like the pomade
Grandpa put on his hair
the moment
he got out of the shower.
The vines he used to trim
in the mornings
had crawled
to the grills on the windows
from the rusty gate
where he stood by
as he watched
me and my cousins
play hide-and-seek
along Almond Drive
on Sunday afternoons.
Mama was cleaning out
his medicine box
when I realized
all the containers
had not been emptied out.
Uncle carried
the plump luggage
to the top of the closet
filled with naked hangers.
Grandma could not seem to fold
the blanket on his bed
the way he used to do it-
corner to corner, edge to edge.
Tony Orlando started squeaking
when the CD player played
“Tie A Yellow Ribbon,”
but Grandma listened
and danced with the air
in the same way
she danced with Grandpa
at the wedding reception
of their golden anniversary.
I hold this scarf
that he wrapped himself in
as he sat on his wheelchair
one windy afternoon
when we drove him
to the beach.
Nobody dared to sit
on the rocking chair
in the balcony
where he used to nap
during sunny days
that reminded him, he said,
of the Panglao beaches
where he used to play
when he was young.
But now he’s rested
somewhere peaceful,
where I could no longer
massage his feet
as he rocked himself to sleep.

Marie Crestie Joie Contrata is a Creative Writing student from the University of the Philippines Mindanao.