Issue 8 Introduction

If the Earth unexpectedly stopped spinning, and suddenly exploded while everyone was busy, would there be a poem written to capsulize how the planet tried to hold on? Who would write a story to remind the universe that once in its vast timescale there lived a human-friendly planet that died young?

This month, we commemorate the Earth Day, and, in the Philippines, the National Literature Month. The April Issue of the Cotabato Literary Journal is a humble celebration of the modest role of literature in the sustenance of life and relationships on Earth. This is also an expression of gratitude to the planet’s role of inspiring the literary musings especially of the writers in SOX.

And speaking of SOX writers, beginning this month, we will publish interviews of established writers from the region. In this issue, Kloyde A. Caday will help us get to know more about Dr. Noel Pingoy, a physician by profession, and a writer by “accident.”

Alongside this interview are the featured crafts relevant to our celebration this month.

Michael John Otanes’s short story Gravitational Pull, for instance, beautifully relates the struggle of an obese boy, who had been a subject of mockery by his peers, to a natural phenomenon, which is gravity. By learning the physical concept of gravity that more massive bodies like the Sun have the ability to attract the relatively smaller ones such as the Earth, the protagonist was able to draw back his self-esteem.

Rossel Audencial’s Death Mask is another story that involves an object literally drawn from underneath the earth. The protagonist’s uncle excavated an important archeological artifact, which he vowed to help turn over to the authorities. The protagonist was in a dilemma of saving his uncle’s find from being pillaged by the father of his love interest. We share in the frailties of the protagonist especially when we easily fall into the trap of romantic temptations in exchange of what is essential, which, in this case is their locality’s heritage.

Hannah Lecena, in her poem Kung Ako ang Pasultihon, had already anticipated these uncertainties in the experience of love. In the poem, both the painful and the pleasant aspects of love were made imaginable through the images of a devastating flood, and a bright light in the night. In the poem, one will find a hesitant persona who longs for an authentic experience of love.

Another important element of our earthly existence is time, and it is believed to be inextricably intertwined with space. A small change in time results in some changes in space, and vice versa. Scientists call it the spacetime continuum, and express it through various mathematical equations. John Calpotura has another way of expressing it in his piece 10:33 AM. This flash fiction, which happened in just sixty seconds, talks about how a minute of inaction, a missed opportunity, could lead to lifetime regret. In the story, a guy on his way to school happened to pass by a café. Inside it, another handsome guy who caught his attention was having a nice chat with a fine girl, whom he suspected to be the guy’s girlfriend. What happened next cautions us against our tendency to decide based on unfounded assumptions.

Sadly, however, many of us unconsciously choose inaction than making a principled stand on many social issues. Many find it more convenient to just take selfies in front of their gourmet meal, and in their OOTD than spending a minute of contemplation about how to possibly make the Earth a better place. Read Paolo Concepcion’s poem Instagram and reflect on the richness of its theme.

Now, if the Earth unexpectedly stopped spinning, and suddenly exploded while everyone was busy, I hope by then we had regained our self-esteem, stood for our heritage in the universe, and spent every minute on wise decisions. I hope by then we could have enough time to take a groufie of the humanity, and throw the cellphone into a faraway galaxy.

Paul Randy P. Gumanao
Koronadal City, South Cotabato