Maalikabok Ka Lang pero Kaganda Mo

Ni Gerald Galindez
Tula

Maalikabok ka lang pero kaganda mo,
lalo na sa mga hapon pag ginatamaan ka ng ilaw ng araw na nagalubog sa Daguma—
                                                                     ang korona mo ay nagabaga.

Maalikabok ka lang
         pero grabe kainit ang pag-alaga mo—
wala kang ginapili, wala kang paborito, giyakap mo lahat ng tribu.

Maalikabok ka lang
         pero kadami mong ginatago
         mga kayamanan sa iyong buhok,
         mga pakpak na ginto, apoy sa dulo ng mga yantok,
         mga perlas sa tawa ng mga masayahing tao.

Maalikabok ka lang
         pero kadaming nagaasa sa iyong paaralan
ang iyong industriya ay buhay sa mga pangarap ng iyong mga anak,
         ng mga babu at bapa, ng mga manong at manang, ng mga iyoy at iyay
                   gintahi mo ang mga malalim na sugat ng kasaysayan.

Maalikabok ka lang
         pero kalalim ng iyong ugat
         sa ’yo nagadaloy ang mga pinaghalong tula at awit at kulay,
                   ang mga sayaw na nagasabog
                             ang pinag-isang kultura na patuloy sa paglipad ay
                                       tulad ng mga ibon na tunay na nagamay-ari ng lupa.

Tacurong,
         maalikabok ka lang pero kaganda mo.

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Kubo

Ni Norsalim S. Haron
Tula

Sa ilalim ng saya ng puno,
may kubong nakayuko,
wari’y mga aliping nakaluhod
sa harap ng kanilang panginoon.

Sa tapat ng mesa,
sa ilalim ng patay-sinding ilaw,
may isang larawan ng masayang pamilya
ang nakasabit sa inaanay na haligi.
Ang katabing bintana ay nagsisilbi bilang sinehan—
pinanonood ko ang mga batang nagtatagisan,
pati na rin ang ganda’t tayog ng lipad
ng isang saranggolang ipinagtatabi sa ulap.

Sa piling ng bangkong may gulong
umiikot ang buhay ko.
Araw-gabi akong nakatanaw
sa punyal, espada’t katanang naghahabulan
sa kaloob-looban ng aming orasan.

Nakapako man ako sa upuan,
malaya namang nakalilipad ang isipan.

Kung napasusunod ko lamang yaring mga paa,
sasayaw ako katulad ng malumanay na indayog ng alon,
kekembot katulad ng bangkang gumigiling
upang makasabay sa bagong henerasyon.

Ngunit tila mananatili na ako sa kubo
nang may galak sa piling ng aking anino.

Sa Amoang Balay

Ni Glenn Arimas
Balak

Ako usa ka tagabalay lang
wala gagawas, pero naa pirmis gawas
naa pirmis balay, naa sa sulod.
Wala ko nakakulong kay naa ra kos among balay,
sa amoang balay.

Among balay walay laing makalupig
dakog hawanan ug daghang mga tanom.
Lig-on ang pundasyon sa among balay
kay kami tanan gatinabangay
sa amoang balay.

Limpyo ang tubig ug daghang pagkaon
tag-as among mga punoan, lagpad mga basakan
lami ang mga prutas ug gulay
naay usahay sa langit nga daghag kulay
sa amoang balay.

Ako usa ka tagabalay lang
lami ang hangin sa udto ug kagabhion
sa unahan saba kay daghag dagko nga tinukod
maayo gyud sa panan-aw maong adto mo diri
sa amoang balay.

Editors and Contributors

CONTRIBUTORS

Midpantao Midrah G. Adil II is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine student at the University of Southern Mindanao in Kabacan, Cotabato Province, but is currently on leave from his studies and working as a content writer for a digital marketing agency in Davao City. He served as an editor in chief of his alma mater’s official student publication and was born in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat.

Glenn M. Arimas is from Midasayap, Cotabato Province, and a first year student at Southern Christian College, where he writes for the official student publication. He also likes mobile photography and making videos for YouTube.

Gerald Galindez teaches language and literature at the senior high school department of Notre Dame of Tacurong College in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat. He was a fellow for poetry at the 2018 Davao Writers Workshop and the 26th Iligan National Writers Workshop (2019), where he won a Jimmy Y. Balacuit Literary Award. He is also the winner of the national poetry contest of the Pananaw magazine of the United Methodist Church in 2008 and of the 2017 Cotabato Province Poetry Contest. As a zinester, he wrote I, Alone and Ginapasaya Mo Ako and co-edited Kalimudan: Literary Works from Sultan Kudarat and The Best of Sulat SOX. He earned his bachelor’s degree in secondary education (major in English) from the University of Southern Mindanao in Kabacan, Cotabato Province. He also writes Christian songs.

Estrella Taño Golingay, of Surallah, South Cotabato, has a PhD in language education and is a retired professor of Notre Dame of Marbel University. In 1994, her poem “Si Nene at Ako sa Pagitan ng Gabi” won the first prize in the poetry contest of Home Life magazine.

Norsalim S. Haron is from Pikit, Cotabato Province, and teaches at Rajah Muda National High School in the same town. He is a graduate of Bachelor in Secondary Education (major in Filipino) at the University of Southern Mindanao in Kabacan, Cotabato Province.

Alvin Larida teaches physics and chemistry at Dole Philippines School in Polomolok, South Cotabato. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Notre Dame of Marbel University in Koronadal City, South Cotabato, and is currently finishing his master’s degree at Mindanao State University in General Santos City.

Ma. Isabelle Alessandra M. Mirabueno is currently a grade 12 (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics strand) student at the Quantum Academy in General Santos City, where she serves as the managing editor and editorial writer of the school publication.

Mubarak M. Tahir is a pure-blooded Maguindanao–Moro from Datu Piang, Maguindanao. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Filipino Language cum laude at Mindanao State University in Marawi City. He won the third prize for Filipino Essay at the 2017 Palanca Awards, and his work has been published in journals, newspapers, and anthologies. Currently, he is a Filipino instructor at Mindanao State University in General Santos City.

EDITORS

Jude Ortega (Editor in Chief) is the author of the short story collection Seekers of Spirits (UP Press, 2018). He was a fellow for fiction in six writers workshops, including the 55th University of the Philippines National Writers Workshop (2016) and the 53rd Silliman University National Writers Workshop (2014). In 2015, he received honorable mention at the inaugural F. Sionil José Young Writers Awards and at the Philippines Graphic Nick Joaquin Literary Awards. He studied political science at Notre Dame of Marbel University in Koronadal City, South Cotabato, and currently stays most of the time in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat.

David Jayson Oquendo (Editor for Fiction) is from Polomolok, South Cotabato, and works in Davao City as an electrical engineer. He was a fellow for fiction at the 2018 Davao Writers Workshop and is a former editor in chief of the official student publication of Mindanao State University in General Santos City.

Andrea D. Lim (Editor for Poetry) is working as an editor for a publishing company in Cebu City while taking her master’s degree in literature at the University of San Carlos. She was a fellow at the 24th Iligan National Writers Workshop (2017) and is a former editor in chief of the official student publication of Silliman University in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental. Her family lives in General Santos City.

Paul Randy P. Gumanao (Editor for Poetry) hails from Kidapawan City, Cotabato Province, and teaches chemistry at Philippine Science High School–SOCCSKSARGEN Region Campus in Koronadal City, South Cotabato. He was a fellow for poetry at the 2009 Davao Writers Workshop and the 2010 IYAS National Writers Workshop. He is a former editor in chief of the official student publication of Ateneo de Davao University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree and is finishing his master’s degree in chemistry.

Hazel-Gin Lorenzo Aspera (Editor for Nonfiction) is a registered nurse, artist, and writer. She spent her childhood in Cotabato City and is now based in Cagayan de Oro City. A fellow for literary essay at the 1st Cagayan de Oro Writers Workshop, some of her feature stories appear in the book Peace Journeys: A Collection of Peacebuilding Stories in Mindanao. Currently, she is Associate Director for Communications and Junior Fellow for Literary Essay of Nagkahiusang Magsusulat sa Cagayan de Oro (NAGMAC).

Jennie P. Arado (Editor for Nonfiction) is from Koronadal City, South Cotabato, and currently works for a newspaper in Davao City as editor of the lifestyle section. She earned her BA in English (major in creative writing) from the University of the Philippines–Mindanao and was a fellow for creative nonfiction at the 2016 University of Santo Tomas National Writers Workshop. Her story “Ang Dako nga Yahong sang Batchoy” won the South Cotabato Children’s Story Writing Contest in 2018.

Norman Ralph Isla (Editor for Play) is from Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat, and a department head at Mindanao State University in General Santos City. He was a fellow for drama at the 2015 Davao Writers Workshop and at the 4th Amelia Lapeña–Bonifacio Writers Workshop (2019). Several of his plays have been staged in General Santos City and South Cotabato.

Introduction to August 2019 Issue

Of the six writers in this issue, four are published for the first time. Cotabato Literary Journal continues to be home to emerging voices in the region, and despite being new to the scene, so to speak, these writers are not afraid to tackle heavy themes. Along with the two more experienced writers, they explore the deep and often dark recesses of our country, our community, and, ultimately, ourselves.

In “Mga Sitsit ug Panaghoy,” a Cebuano flash fiction by John Efrael Igot, a young man tries to escape the eerie calls and cries that he hears and finds a throng of sufferers. His dread and confusion disappear, only to be replaced by something much worse. In similar stories, sanity is often questioned. In this story, insanity is questioned. By turns psychological, mystical, and allegorical, the story is short yet packed, as what flash fictions should aspire to be.

“Wakwak,” written by Martsu Ressan Manibog Ladia, is another flash fiction in Cebuano. The first part is written in the form of diary entries and tells of a man exacting vengeance on the monsters that killed his loved ones and the people in his neighborhood. The second part is in the form of a news report and puts the first part in an entirely different light, making us question our perception of evil. The violence in the story is graphic, a surprising fact considering that the writer is blind and has been so since birth.

In “Matam-is nga Handurawan,” a Hiligaynon flash fiction by Nilyn Gamuza Pacariem, a woman reminisces about her lover who had to leave her behind and work abroad, as the rain falls and she folds her clothes. The writer deftly handles the sensual scene; she knows when to let go and when to hold back, when to be profuse in descriptions and when to leave the details to the reader’s imagination.

Nonfiction editor Hazel-Gin Lorenzo Aspera selected for publication the essay “The War Inside My Head” by Virgilio R. Nabua III. She describes it thus: “Nabua expresses his concern over the proximity of the Marawi siege to his own home. At the same time, his frustration at how forgetful people are of violent conflict through the years is palpable through his search for answers in both Facebook and history books.” She adds that the piece “is a personal awakening to the history of violent conflict in Mindanao and its effect on Filipinos in the era of social media.”

Estrella Taño Golingay’s “Jose Comes Home,” in the words of poetry editor Paul Randy Gumanao, “shares a story of the final battle of a soldier one tumultuous night, when his heart was as troubled as the stormy skies.” Gumanao adds that “the poem successfully shows how a soldier’s battle transforms from a purely personal to a collective struggle bravely fought by one yet felt by many” and commends it for its being “loaded with vivid imagery, especially of the setting, allowing for the effective settling of the emotions associated with the consummation of the main character’s selfless commitment.”

As to Elyzah A. Parcon’s “Waters,” Gumanao says it “invites attention to the internal struggles of a persona who seems to be drowning in an ocean of uncertainties despite all the knowledge and the attempts at surviving.” He further notes: “The poem’s magical use of transforming imagery evokes sensory responses to the creative depiction of melancholy, from the visual images of crimson waters, to the tactile images of desperate flailing, to the smell of iron, and to the sight and sound of blood rushing out of the vein. But more than the aesthetics, the poem beckons the reader’s sensitivity toward muted calls for help, and to dip into the stained waters of the persona, who could be our significant other, a family member, or a dear friend.”

Igot’s story is the winner and Ladia’s story is a finalist in the short story writing contest organized by the writers association of South Cotabato for the province’s T’nalak Festival last month. Pacariem’s story won first in the 2016 Peter’s Prize, organized by and named after multi-awarded writer Peter Solis Nery of Iloilo. Nabua’s essay is a finalist for the 2nd Lagulad Prize, organized by this journal and some benefactors. On behalf of my co-editors, I’d like to thank everyone who provided inspiration, support, and reward so that the works in this issue would be written. As with the previous issues, this one is a shared undertaking.

Jude Ortega
Isulan, Sultan Kudarat

Mga Sitsit ug Panaghoy

Ni John Efrael Igot

(Kini nga sugilanon ang nidaog sa short story writing contest nga giorganisar sa grupo sa mga magsusulat sa South Cotabato atol sa 2019 T’nalak Festival.)

Nangimbawt ang akoang mga balahibo tungod sa mga sitsit ug panaghoy nga akong nadungog sa nagkadaiyang parte sa palibot. Sitsit sa mga tawng wala ginapaminaw, panaghoy sa mga tawng nag-antos sa kasakit, kalisod—nag-antos sa mapait nga kahimtang sa kinabuhi.

“Dong, naunsa ka?” pangutana sa akoang amahan sa dihang iyahang namatikdan nga nagtabon ko sa akoang mga dalunggan. “Nganong gitabunan man nimu imuhang dalunggan?”

“Banha kaayo sila, Pa,” tubag nako sa iyaha. Nitindog ako ug nagalingilingi sa palibot, nagapanghinaot nga makakita akog malinawon nga dapit. “Molakaw hiuna ko, Pa.”

“Ug asa man ka moadto?” pangutana pa niya bag-o siya mitando. “Pag-amping. Daghan bayag mga daotang binuhat karung mga taknaa.”

“Diha ra ko sa unahan, mangitag kahilom.” Gikuha ko ang kalo nga nakasab-it sa pultahan ug gisuot kini. “Mobalik ra ko unya, kung dili na nako sila madunggan.”

Sa akoang paglakaw, mas nikusog man hinuon ang mga sitsit ug panaghoy nga nagabagting sa akong mga dalunggan. Dili kini maayo. Gipaspasan nako ang akoang paglakaw hangtod sa midagan na gayod ako ug wala na ko nakahibaw kung asa ko gidala sa akong mga tiil. Sa kahanawan, nakita ko ang mga tawo—mga tawng nagahilak, nagasinggit og panabang, pero wala gayoy mitabang ug miduol kanila.

Nagaduko ako nga milakaw padulong sa ilahang ginabarogan samtang naghinayhinay sa pag-agas ang akoang mga luha. Sila diay to. Sila diay kadtong nagasitsit ug nagapanaghoy nga pirmi nakong madungog. Dugay nga panahon na ang nilabay pero nagpatuyang kog panabon sa akong mga dalunggan. Nagpabungolbungol ko.

Wala ko nagdahom tungod kay abi man gud nakog naa koy sakit sa pangutok nga ginabatyag. Sayop ko kini. Wala gayod akoy tul-id nga mga lakang nga gihimo kaniadtong una kong nadungog ang ilang mga sitsit ug panaghoy. Gipasagdan ko lamang kini.

“N-n-naunsa mo?” pangutana nako sa ilaha sa nabuak nga tingog tungod kay dili ko na gayod mapugngan ang akong paghilak. “Unsa’y nahitabo sa inyoha?”

“Mali ang imohang pangutana, dong!” Nitindog ang usa ka babaye ug miduol siya kanako. “Dili kana ang angay nimong ipangutana.”

“Ha?” Gitan-aw nako ang mga mata sa babaye. “Unsa ang buot nimong ipasabot?”

“Unsa ang nahitabo kanato?” Gitan-aw pud ko niya sa maguol nga hulagway. “Mao kana ang angay nimong ipangutana.”

Himanhiman, nahayagan pagkalit ang akoang panghunahuna. Tama sila.

Unsa ang nahitabo kanamo?

Kanus-a mahilom ang mga sitsit sa katilingban—ang mga kasakit ug kaguol sa matag usa kanamo?

Kanus-a madungog ang mga panaghoy sa kinabuhi niining kalibotana?

Kanus-a?