One Bed Apart

Poetry by | July 31, 2023

Mama and Papa now sleep in different
beds. “Your father snores,” Mama said.

Papa has been drinking a lot of sour juice
lately, his breath stinks when he tries to talk

to me. “If Mama and Papa have to live in
different houses, who would you live with?”

Papa asked before he fell asleep on the couch,
waiting for Mama to come home. As soon as

Mama got home, she told me to go to my room
and play with Chippy, the stuffed toy that they got me

for my seventh birthday. Mama interrupted
my little tea party when she knocked

on my door. “Papa snores louder now,
anak,” she said. Then she went outside the house

and went inside the green car that looked
a lot like my Ninong’s—he was Papa’s kumpare,

the one that he used to drink sour juice with.
I have never heard of Mama since then.

Reggie is taking up a Bachelor of Arts in English (Creative Writing) at the University of the Philippines Mindanao. She is a completer of the Special Program in Journalism and a graduate of the Humanities and Social Sciences of the Davao City National High School.

5:01 PM

Fiction by | August 8, 2022

“Asa naman pud ka gikan? Ikaw, bata pa ka igat na!” My mother’s yelling echoes inside our room before it travels to the street. She thinks if I went home a minute later than 5 o’clock in the afternoon, then I was becoming a slut on the street where I spent most of my time, playing tumba lata with my friends.

My chapped lips were shaking as I tried to answer her question, ignoring the fact that she has just called me igat. “Sa gawas lang ko Ma, nagdula. Kaila man ka sa akoang mga kauban, Ma.” Despite knowing the people that I spend time with, she still proceeded to her definition of discipline: a hand clenched tightly around a plastic hanger and a 7-year-old girl that had red marks all over her body after what felt like an hour of beating.

Convinced that my mother hit me to show that she cares for me, I accepted her subtle apologies through the dishes she cooked for dinner and the junk food she brought home. However, her scolding wasn’t something that I was afraid of. I was more afraid of missing the afternoon fun that my friends and I shared after siesta time. With the help of my friends’ mothers, I managed to get home before 5 in the afternoon with their constant reminder that it was 15 minutes before my playtime was over.

Sometimes when my mother came home earlier than I expected, worse things happened. The term igat turned into bigaon, a whore. And the hand around the hanger wrapped around her leather belt. Convinced that the more that the beating hurt, the more love was shown, I allowed her to hit me with the buckle of her belt. “Mirisi nimo! Bigaon na ka nga pagkababae!” She would say while keeping herself satisfied with the sound of my flesh against the buckle. On some days when the worst things take place, she would tell me to get out of her sight as she was afraid that she might kill me.

I didn’t know if the beating was because of my friendship with all the girls along our street, or if it was because I look exactly like Papa who was completely clueless of the beatings. Not that he was a deadbeat father, but Mama also tried to beat him to death when he disagreed with her.

After the series of expressions of love or discipline that I received, I became afraid of 5 o’clock in the afternoon. I started going home on time for at least a month and finally memorized the time of her arrival. It became my new routine. I knew which end of the street she was going to pass. I even learned how to identify her steps by the sound of her heels. I acted according to her will to avoid the beating.

One day, she stopped coming home on time. Sometimes, she would knock on our room at 10 in the evening with a smile on her face, as if a miracle had happened. She didn’t look exhausted. From what she taught me, going home that late is immoral, but the thought of her becoming a whore on the street never crossed my mind. Maybe she has to work more hours to provide for our needs, I thought, knowing that my brother was in 8th grade and I was about to finish grade school.

So, I went back to my old hobby: coming home a minute later than 5. Nothing can stop me now, especially that she’s not around, my innocent mind dictated while folding the strap of my slippers, trying to hit the can inside the circle – as hard as how she would hit me if she found out about what I was doing while she was away.

Her nights of going home late turned into days of not being around. It meant more time for me to spend outside – to kill the boredom and to push away the curiosity. Kuya, asa si mama? I tried asking, once, twice, thrice, or more – I could barely remember. But none of us knew the answer, so I stopped asking. Until one day, the least-expected answers came to my door.

All the hangers and the belt buckles that didn’t stop me from playing with my friends were overpowered by the news that I received. It was from Mama, when she came home one day on a sunny afternoon after not being around for four days. She saw how beads of sweat caressed my cheeks from playing outside, but she didn’t say a thing. Instead she smiled at me – she looked so warm and happy, like how the skies and the trees look before a typhoon devours an entire town.

“Didto na mo puyo sa inyohang Lola, ha.”

Mama was moving out of the house that Papa and she rented to live with her lover. And so we had to be sent away to our grandmother’s house.

It was only after Lola died a few years later that Mama decided to take us into her new household. It wasn’t clear to me what igat and bigaon meant until I was messaging Papa on my phone, while listening to the laughter of my mother’s other children together with their father playing outside the house a minute later than 5 in the afternoon.

At least she stopped calling me names for playing outside.


Reggie Faye Canarias is taking up a Bachelor of Arts in English (Creative Writing) at the University of the Philippines Mindanao. She is a graduate of the Special Program in Journalism of the Davao City National High School.

How He Responds (Part 2)

Nonfiction by | October 11, 2021

III. Ayaw paghilak kay makahilak pud ko.

After my mother left, I swore to make Papa happy. Maybe not as happy as he would have been when we were still complete. But proud and happy of the pieces of our family left with him. I promised myself I would never be the reason for his tears.

I knew Papa never loved the idea of me enrolling to a Special Program in my Junior High School. I was 13 years old that time and it was already three years since my mother left us and I thought making him proud with academic achievements was the best way for me to cope.  But Papa didn’t want me to pressure myself. He had always wanted me to enjoy my life without academic responsibilities or burden. He wanted me to have a “normal life.” And it took me a few years to realize that I, my family, was not meant to have one.

Although I knew him as a quiet man, Papa talked more over the years. Most often about my mother. Whether it was through text or over merienda in his payag whenever I visited him after school, I would shiver at how angry his voice sounded.

Unsa imong gusto, ipa-taurpalin ko nang dagway sa imohang mama kauban iyang lalake?

Do you want me to print a tarpaulin of your mother flexing her lover?

He told me this on one of the days I went straight to his payag after training for a writing competition. I was tired that day, both from my training and from dealing with this “not normal” but “not extraordinary” family. Hearing him say those words made me feel more drained. Even when those words were true, that my mother left us for another man, I never wanted to hear those things from Papa. I was convinced that she will always be my mother regardless of everything.

At that moment I tried to think of an appropriate response for what he said. Should I agree? Should I tell him not to talk about mother that way? So I just bowed my head until my eyes gave out. I cried in silence, as I had always done in the nights where I didn’t get to sleep next to Papa or next to my mother, or even next to both.   Crying in silence was not enough for all the things I felt at that time, so I sobbed without daring to look at him.

While I cried, I thought about my mother. Where was she now that her little girl is crying? Should I still call her “mama”? What should I refer to her then? It was funny how kirida and mistress became names for women who have affairs with married men. But how about a single word for widowed men who steal wives from their respective home? Was there any word that could describe how painful it is to the husbands and children to see their wives and mothers lighting up somebody else’s tahanan?

But then Papa did something unexpected, he hugged me. I stopped crying almost immediately out of shock. I could feel his dry and chapped skin against my arms, and I could smell the sweat on his faded blue loose t-shirt with little holes and ripped hem. He must have worked the whole day here in the store, I thought. And here I was adding more stress to his already tiring day.

“Anak,  sorry na. Ayaw pag hilak kay makahilak pud ko,” Papa said in a voice so soft I almost didn’t hear him. Papa was not a fan of hugs or physical affection, but this hug was not the biggest shock to me. It dawned on me that no matter how sad he was about losing my mother to another man, what pained him more was seeing me lose myself in all the stress and hurt I had been feeling.

So I hugged him back in silence. The most comforting silence we had ever shared.


There were those times in my life where I have wondered a lot about my father’s behavior. Is it true that he is psychologically incapacitate, like what the annulment papers say? He could have hurt my mother. He could have left us before my mother did. But why does he always remain calm even when it hurts? How does he manage to choose peace most especially when his whole family is hurting? Papa always knew better. He knew just how to respond to how I feel, to how my mother left, and to how he could keep this family “normal.”

I knew I had to stop taking note on how he handles every situation. It was time to show him the aftermath of his responses.

IV. Nakauli na ka?

“Papa, 3rd place ko!” I called him, crying. I won 3rd Place at a SciTech Writing competition when I was in Grade 10 and about to graduate from my Special Program.

He was silent at first and I didn’t really expect any reply. Letting him know that his little girl achieved something was surely enough for me to be proud of. I was still at school that time, fixing my things in our publication office. My fellow campus journalists who also won in their different categories invited me to celebrate with them in the sugbahan in Torres, just in front of our school.

“Congrats anak, proud kaayo ko sa imo,” he finally said. I heard his voice crack on the other line. He was crying.

I cried harder. My tears were not from my achievements, but it was from the tears I heard from him. No award could equal to the satisfaction I felt. It was as if I was a child again being given all the gifts she had asked from all her relatives on Christmas. I could not ask for more.

His payag was just a five-minute walk from school, so I started to walk home. When Papa asked if I had told my mother about my win, I mumbled a yes.

Ever since I was a child, and years later when I won in writing competitions or in other school events, my mother would just reply with a simple “Congrats.” Now that she knew how to use Messenger, she would send a large thumbs up emoticon. But Papa’s bragging of our, me and my brother’s, achievements would not end there. He would spend weeks telling his friends about how I placed 1st at writing competitions and how my brother had a published article at the University of Mindanao. He never seemed to have few words when he talked about us—his family.

When Papa noticed I was not talking on the other line, he asked me what he always asked before he would end a phone call or a text conversation: Nakauli naka? Are you home?

Home. I lived in different houses because of my parents’ separation. I was already used to not going home to the same house I had slept a night before. Back then, Papa would ask me to stay with him in Catitipan, then I would come home to my brother in Ubalde the following day, but most of the time I stayed with my late grandparents. Regardless of that setup, I always knew that I was welcome in his place.

Papa was never perfect. He had his lapses and limitations. He had his share of bad times and breakdowns. But he always knew what to do. He always knew how to respond.

So when he asked that question whether I arrived home or not, I found myself just a couple of steps away from his little sari-sari store. When he saw me by the small bamboo fence, he rushed to me immediately and we shared a hug. He didn’t even wait for my response, but I was always glad for his.

“Yes, Pa. Nakauli nako.” I’m home. Pa.

Reggie Faye is from Los Amigos, Tugbok, Davao City. She is a freshman from University of the Philippines – Mindanao, under the degree program Bachelor of Arts in English (Creative Writing). She graduated from Davao City National High School, where she took up the Special Program in Journalism during her Junior High School and the Humanities and Social Sciences (HUMSS) strand in her Senior High School.

How He Responds (Part 1)

Nonfiction by | October 4, 2021

My father doesn’t talk much. And when he does, he only replies. I gather those replies growing up, thinking this was how he shows me he cares for me—a sort of reciprocity for the things I say to him.

I. I-text ko kung nakauli naka.

Ever since I was 10, I didn’t live with Papa and Mama anymore. He had to move out after their separation where he lived at Catitipan, and I stayed with my late grandparents at Lanang. And though I lived far away from him, I was always comforted with the thought that every time I told him I was leaving, he would reply with this gentle reminder: let me know when you’re home.

His hidden payag and sari-sari store has been Papa’s source of income for more than a decade now. At an early age, I learned the names of the popular network providers, Smart, TalkNText, Globe, TM, and Sun, before I even memorized the multiplication table. In honor of his two children, he named the store after my older brother and I: Leboi and Pipai’s Store. His store has been a tambayan to some and a home for the many, especially among those who work in call centers and stores along Torres and V. Mapa.


On the day of his 46th birthday, when I was on my way to a small room my brother and I shared at Garcia Heights, the rain started pouring. The noise of the raindrops on the trapal roof of tricycles made me think of how heavy rains scared me when I was young. Not because of the deafening thunder but my father’s voice.  What scared me the most is how he would respond to what those rainy days brought – flood. When the water would begin to gather outside our store, he would curse merciless private vehicles who would pass on the road in front of us causing flood water to splash towards our direction. I was too scared of his loud voice to realize that after he had cursed the cars, he would always ask me if my brother and I were safe.

Papa would scratch the back of his head while looking at the lower surface of the tindahan turning into soft mud from hard soil. He would start ranting about how he was going to clean his store the following day: picking up pieces of trash buried in mud, washing the mud stains off of the wooden chair, enduring the muddy floor that buried his feet in every step. As a child, I had to listen to all of those, not knowing how to help him with anything. Up to this moment, I am still clueless on how I should have responded: both to how the flood thrashes our store and to how Papa felt helpless in fixing the store—the home he built for us.


Growing up, while I watched Papa absorbed all the dust, street noises, heat of the sun, and other people’s criticisms while he was starting to build his sari-sari store, I also watched Mama build her whole career. Back then, she worked as a General Secretary of a famous insurance company. I remember entering her office, feeling like it was a mall during Christmas season: everything was white, sparkling, and jolly. My voice would echo from calling my brother across the table. Their pantry never ran out of food – jelly ace, Oishi Prawn Crackers, Moby, viands, and a lot more; their chairs have wheels, they have unlimited hand sanitizer with the dispenser against the wall that appeared to be so high for a 7-year-old.

While my father had to scrape mud from the old wood which he would use to build the little payag, my mother never had to scrub the floors of their office since it was mopped by a janitor every day.  These are the places where they spend 8-10 hours of their lives, working. And us? We waited for them to come home.

I never saw any one of them less just because of what they do. I love them both equally, but I feared Papa more. He is silent most of the time, not because he wants to remain that way, but because he was used to not having anyone to talk to. Papa grew up with his grandparents where the household considers talking about what they feel as a crime. Nonetheless, he made sure that my brother and I were always heard. And I was always thankful for that.


II. Naa man lagi mo diri?

Ever since my mother left us for another man, the man he met in her clean and white office, Papa always asked us why we were there in the payag with him, and not with Mama.

After he found out about my mother’s infidelity, he chose to stay in the payag with my brother and me. Coming from a broken family, he did not want us to experience what he had gone through. When my mother left us, I was just nine and my brother was 11. Old enough to come home from school by ourselves, but young enough to decide where to celebrate the holidays.

While we still stayed together in the payag, Mama would intentionally go out of the room and sit under the coconut tree outside the house. She would be found giggling at her phone with the man on the other line. I knew my mother was already too deeply in love with that man to make her remember that this little family existed. Her little family existed.

Afraid that he might not take it and might end up hurting her, Papa left. The memory of him packing his clothes while Wency Cornejo’s Hanggang played in the background is still clear to me. It was the last time I have seen them together in the same room.

Reggie Faye is from Los Amigos, Tugbok, Davao City. She is a freshman from University of the Philippines – Mindanao, under the degree program Bachelor of Arts in English (Creative Writing). She graduated from Davao City National High School, where she took up the Special Program in Journalism during her Junior High School and the Humanities and Social Sciences (HUMSS) strand in her Senior High School.