Introduction

Úna nakong nasinatian ang kamatayon katong ningpanaw ang amahan sa akong amahan. Naa pa ko ato sa elementarya. Ug ing-ani lang siya sa akong panumdoman: pastor, gatrabaho isip superbisor sa usá ka tanoman (kon sa pinya o saging, wala na ko kasayod), dalok, ug namatay tungod sa nakaong bahaw. Sa haya, gitan-aw lang nako ang paghilak sa baying anak sa usá sa mga igsoon sa akong amahan. Wala koy gibatì puyra sa kahadlok nga moduaw siya sa among balay, matod pa sa mga katigulangan. Apan unsaon nako pagsiguro nga siya gayod ang moduaw (o ningduaw) kon wala ko kaantigo sa iyang nawong? Pipila lang ang higayong nakit-an nako siya. Kabalo lang ko sa iyahang ngalan kay ngalan usab kini sa akong amahan ug sa úna niining laking anak sa ikaduhang asawa. Karon, usá siya sa mga ginapangadyean, ginasindihan og kandila, ug ginapakaon namo og tam-is ug pilit matag Adlaw sa mga Patay.

Sukad niato, saksi na ko sa daghan pang kamatayon. Nahimatngon nako ang usá ka kamatuoran: mamatay kitáng tanan. Maong dili na ko matingala nga daghang pagtuon sa mga kultura ug katilingban kay aduna gayoy bahin sa kamatayon (ug pagkatawo). Kamatayon gayod ang usá ka butang nga sagad sa tanang linalang — bisan og unsa man ang kaliwat ug tinuohan.

Sa piyesa nga “Nowhere Room” ni Kristine Ong Muslim, gipahibalo na sa inahan sa iyang anak nga si Theophilus ang kamatayon: “You only fill one small room when you die so there’s no sense in occupying more while you are alive.” Dili gayod kini naandang itudlo sa mga bata, nga ingnon natong gasugod pa lang sa ilang kinabuhi. Apan sa pagtrato ug pagkulong kang Theophilus, sama na siya sa usá ka minatay; wala na niya nasinatian ang mahimong tawo (bisan kahibalo tang natawo siya). Gipadako siyang kinahanglan nang maanad sa kamatayon.

Apan ang mga doktor gayod ang usá sa mga gadeklara sa kamatayon sa mga tawo. Pipila na kahâng kamatayon ang ilang gideklara ug nasaksihan? Sa anekdota sa doktor nga si Lance Isidore Catedral nga nag-ulohan og “Mother and Son,” gisaysay ang kamatayon sa usá ka inahan pinaagi sa pagtutok sa gibati sa anak: “On Mother’s Day, he was still a boy — soft wisps of hair just starting to grown on his armpits, his voice barely beginning to crack — but already mother-less.” Ginapasayod niining pagpapaila sa “pagbalhin” sa anak gikan sa pagkabata paingon sa pagkabinatilyo nga kauban sa kamatayon ang dakong kabag-ohan sa kinabuhi sa mga nabilín sa mga namatay. Gadugang pod ang klinikal nga deskripsiyon sa kamatayon sa inahan sa pagpabatî sa atoang magbabasa sa sakít nga pagdawat sa anak.

Kinahanglang dawaton ang kamatayon sa atong mga minahal o kaila, kanunayng atong madungog. Sa balak ni Michael John Otanes nga “Perpetual Friction,” dili madawat ug gahandom ang inahan sa persona nga mabanhaw ang iyahang bána, maong “…she decided not to cremate/ his body. In truth, she enshrouded him with/ white blankets to turn him into a pupa…” Kinahanglan, ang ingon sa ubán, ug dili lalim ang modawat, apan usahay motungha lang kini sa taknang wala nato damha. Ug ginapakita kini sa balak pinaagi sa paghatag sa atoa og mga kuyawng binuhat sa inahan sa patayng lawas sa sinugdanan ug sa pinakalit nga pag-ingon sa usá ka simpleng hinungdan nga nadawat na niya ang kamatayon.

Walay makit-ang hinungdan ang ubang tawo aron magpadayon nga mabuhì. Ginapili na lang nila nga taposon ang ilang kinabuhi. Sa sugilanon nga “The Crying Walls of San Lorenzo” ni Erwin Cabucos, nakit-an sa sakristang si Rex ang usá ka laking batan-on nga gapakamatay. Nanghangyo pa kini kaniya nga: “Just help me die, just let me end all this… There’s no point in living.” Kadugayan, mahibal-an nato ang bug-at nga hinungdan sa pagpakamatay. Limpiyo ang paghan-ay sa mga panghitabo niining sugilanona, apan makakurat gihapon ang pipila ka larawan ug panghitabo nga gipiling gibutang.

Dili sayon sa ubán ang pagpili kon magpadayon sa kinabuhi o magpakamatay. Mao kini ang gihunahuna sa persona sa balak nga “Sometimes Suicidal, Mostly Booze” ni Jermaine Dela Cruz. Ingon dinhi, “I am half afraid of dying/ and half afraid of living.” Gipakita pa kining pagduhaduha sa paglista og mga pamahayag nga balinsuhi sa matag usá; ang uban nadungog na nato, apan ang uban bag-ong gimugna sa magbabalak.

Walay nakasayod sa kinabuhi pagkahuman sa kamatayon — o kon aduna ba — maong daghan ang mahadlok mamatay. Mao ni ang ideyang gidulaan ni Patrick Jayson L. Ralla sa iyahang espekulatibong balak nga nag-ulohan og “Idlip.” Dinhi, kanunayng mamatay ug mabanhaw ang balibato sa kinabuhi sa persona. Aduna lang siyay usá ka adlaw aron sulayang bugtoon ang kinaadmang dagan sa iyang kinabuhi. Apan, kanunayon siyang mapakyas. (O, dili ba kasinati usab kini sa mga tawong buhi pa apan wala nay kahulogan ang kinabuhi?)

Aduna poy gatuo sa kalag nga maong gapadayon sa kinabuhi sa namatayng lawas sa mga tawo. Ug nagkalain-lain ang pagpadayong gituohang gahitabo. Sa ubán, dili makapadayon ang kalag kon aduna pay kinahanglang taposong misyon o kon lain ang pagkamatay, sama sa gisaysay sa balak nga “Breakwater Girls” nga gisulat ni Saquina Karla C. Guiam. Dinhi, malab-as ang paglarawan sa kamatayon sa mga babae. Dili gayod ta maganahan nga mamatay sama nila o nga mapagkita sila kanato.

Tinuohan pod sa kadaghanang kultura nga adunay mamatay tungod sa mga linalang nga dili ingon nato. Sa mubong sugilanon nga “Sirena” ni Mark Sherwin Castronuevo Bayanito, adunay pagtuo nga matag tapos sa piyesta sa Sto. Niño sa Brgy. Bula, naay mamatay nga laki. Ang hinungdan: usá ka sirena. Sa piyesa, gigamit ang larawan sa sirena aron balion ang kinaadmang estruktura sa sugilanon: gasagol ang duha o pipila ka elemento aron makamugna og usá ka matang. Sa ulahi, masaksihan nato nga gibali pod ang gidamhang kamatayon sa mga tawo sa Brgy. Bula.

Sa ulahi, paghinumdom na lang sa mga namatay ang usá sa mga mahimo sa mga nabilín. Sa piyesa ni Gutierrez Mangansakan II nga “Remembering Ama” (nga kabahin sa iyang bag-ong libro nga Archipelago of Stars), gipaila niya usab si Datu Udtog Matalam Sr. pinaagi sa paghinumdom sa mga higayong nakauban niya ni: “For most people, your great grandfather was the Datu. For me, he was plain old ‘Ama’.” Ginapahinumdom niini ang usáng katingalahan mahitungod sa kamatayon: mabuhì ang namatay pinaagi sa paghinumdom sa iyang pagkatawo.

Sa niaging bulan, natawo ang ikaduhang anak sa únang laking anak sa akong inahan. Sa niaging bulan, nanawag usá ka gabii ang usá sa akong mga igsoon. Ang tinuod, ako ang nagpatawag kaniya. Dugay ug pipila ka higayon ang pagtawag. Sa ulahing higayon, wala na niya napugngan ang kaugalingon. Ang iyang balita: patay na ang pinakabag-ong miyembro sa among pamilya. Usá ka adlaw na. Usá ka adlaw nang gitago kanako, aron daw dili ko masakitan. Ang hinungdan sa kamatayon: nalabihan sa pagpakaon. Gilubong dayon siya sa Maitum, dili na sa naadnang paagi sa inahan niyang lumad gayod nga Tboli. Gilubong siya nga walay nabilíng pahinumdom kanamo puyra sa iyang mubong kinabuhi. Ako: dali lang siguro ang pagdawat kon walay mahinumdoman.

Nagpadala ko og mensahe taod-taod sa mga kaila aron mananghid sa akong giplanong dugayng pagkawala. Ang tubag sa isa: nia ko karon sa ospital, namatay ang ig-agaw. Nahinumdoman nako ang akong pag-umangkon — ang iyang unga, ang paggukos ni Mamang kaniya, ang paghatag namong angga kaniya. Dili diay dali ang pagdawat.

 

M.J. Cagumbay Tumamac
Kiangan, Ifugao

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Introduction to Issue 14

Since midnight, the girl had been telling us that she had a third eye, and right at that moment, she said she could see something in the darkness, across the street and under a tree. I turned my head and, just as I expected, saw nothing but harmless shadows. I don’t believe in supernatural beings. I believe instead that science can explain everything, or at least it eventually will. I am not afraid of supernatural beings. But having panic disorder, I am afraid of so many other things.

For me, the girl should not be afraid of the things that she is afraid of, for they do not exist in the first place. In the same way, for her, and for most people, I shouldn’t be afraid of the things that I am afraid of, for even if they exist, they’re not as harmful as my mind perceives them. I get panic attacks whenever I get afraid of death and whenever I get afraid of getting insane, and I get panic attacks whenever I get afraid of having panic attacks. In other words, I’m afraid of being afraid.

Others may feel grateful for not having a third eye or panic disorder, but as the works in this issue show, fear comes in various forms and affects our lives more than we can see or we are willing to admit. The five stories and four poems help us examine our fears—as individuals, as Filipinos, and as human beings.

“Koronadal Horror Story” by Matt S. F. Jones of Banga, South Cotabato, is about a young man who suddenly experiences all sorts of horrifying things one night. The Hiligaynon story is an ongoing series in Jones’s Facebook timeline, and excerpted for this journal is the part where the young man sees something creepy in an eatery and encounters a maniacal old man in a street. Unabashedly genre, peppered with banters, and written in the eclectic language of young Ilonggos of Mindanao, the story is a fun kind of scare.

In Jones’s story, seeing an albularyo, or a folk healer, is hinted at as a possible solution to the narrator’s nightmares. In “Fireflies” by Adonis Hornoz of Isulan, Sultan Kudarat, a child with an affliction is actually taken to an albularyo. The story shows that our fears are not always relieved or resolved. When we are bound to our cultural beliefs and limited by our economic capability, the solution that we seek for our nightmare may only give us a worse nightmare.

A nightmare may also be disguised as a blessing. In “Nowheresville,” a work-in-progress by Jonathan Susvilla of Isulan, Sultan Kudarat, a man finds himself gifted with an extraordinary ability one day. Instead of having a more meaningful life, or at least an easier one, he is faced with difficult choices. We are often afraid of making decisions, especially when we think of ourselves more than we think of others. And we are more afraid of what we can do than of what we can’t do.

Fear can be stronger than any other feeling. In the flash fiction “How I Remember Us” by Gian Carlo Licanda of Maasim, Sarangani Province, the narrator’s most poignant memory of a lover is not when they were happiest but when they were about to part ways. We are all afraid of being left by our loved ones. We are all afraid of being alone.

Some loved ones leave us, and some are taken away from us. It’s difficult to tell which is worse. In “Mithi,” an excerpt from a Filipino novel by Boon Kristoffer Lauw of General Santos City, readers witness the horror a family goes through in a time of martial law. The narrator’s mother is a subversive, and in search of her, military men barge into her home and forces her family to reveal her whereabouts. The scene shows what a totalitarian regime can do to innocent civilians.

Like Lauw’s story, the poems in this issue deal with our fear of those who are more powerful than us. No one specific is mentioned in “Hide and Seek” by John Dominic Arellano of Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat, but the source of fear must be someone close to the narrator, someone who is part of both his past and his present. Some people in our lives are constant sources of fear, but due to our ties with them, to our lack of will to be free, to things that are beyond our control, or to their other, redeeming qualities, we sometimes have to go on living with them and bear the suffering that they are causing us.

In “War” and “Death by Fear,” both by David Jayson Oquendo of Polomolok, South Cotabato, the source of fear is obviously the government, but being held accountable are the people who support the government. The so-called war on drugs of the current administration has resulted to thousands of deaths, including those of innocent ones. No one is safe anymore. Anyone can be a victim of mistaken identity or of corrupt men in uniform.

“Karinderya,” a Filipino spoken word poem by Kiel Mark Guerrero of Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat, is also about extrajudicial killings, but the blame is put directly on the country’s draconian ruler. Many Filipinos catapulted him to power due to their hatred and fear of criminality. As a result, however, instead of providing comfort and protection, he became a new source of fear, especially for the poor. The authorities have yet to provide a proof to the public that they have brought down a big-time syndicate, while every day, slippers-wearing pushers and runners are gunned down in alleys.

The literary works in this issue can help us understand our own fears. But more importantly perhaps, they can help us acknowledge and understand the fears of others. We all have fears, and we have different fears, and even if they’re the same, we have different ways of dealing with them.

The others, aside from me, also turned and looked at the tree across the street, where the girl said she could see something. The others, like me, must have also not seen anything, or were too inebriated to be spooked by anything. Most of us remained quiet, but I was breathing deeply, making myself calm. Unbeknown to my companions, I was having a panic attack right at that moment. I was seeing a different kind of ghost. It’s a part of me. It dwells in me.

Jude Ortega
Senator Ninoy Aquino, Sultan Kudarat

 

Issue 7 Introduction

First: my sincerest apologies in the delay of this issue.

Second: You’ll have to excuse me. In all the time I’ve been an editor for this journal, I’ve never written an introduction. If I have an excuse, it’s because I find myself ill-equipped to do so, in the sense that I don’t always know what to say about something. (Imagine that, a writer admitting she doesn’t have the words.) Though, I have plenty of other excuses why I don’t (having schoolwork, editing for two other online publications, being generally bad at writing introductions, etc). But we’re not here to talk about that.

March is Women’s History Month in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, following the celebration of International Women’s Day on every 8th day of the month. Nowadays, it’s not just the West anymore. For this issue of the Cotabato Literary Journal, we sought out works by women and female-identifying individuals. I say, female-identifying, as gender is anything but a construct.

Jermafe Kae Prias’s Trimester Epiphanies is, if anything, a delight to read, as it weaves through the experiences of pregnancy—especially when it happens in college, with the coming of motherhood lapping at the last lines, and for each trimester, the poem changes shape and form to emphasize the vastness and turbulence of said experiences.

Mariz Leona’s story, Sa Kabilang Dulo ng Baril, seems apt for the current state in the country; wherein the narrator’s father is running a business, albeit illegally as it is unregistered (though not involving drugs) but a couple of police officers—drunk and apparently, drug users—arrive to extort money from the father.

Ig-agaw by Hannah A. Leceña, I believe, should be read wherein one should be prepared. This is a story about rape, notably, the incestuous kind. Also, it’s written in the Bisaya spoken widely in the region, which is of course vastly different from the ones spoken in Davao and especially, in the Visayas.

Rossel M. Audencial may be a newcomer to writing, but The Girl is a simple, yet haunting story, told through three different points of view.

Farewell to Grief, an essay of loss from Ma. Jocedel Zulita, paints a vivid portrait of parental loss, but it also shows us the aftermath of that loss, and eventually, how to mend the weight of absence left behind—even if it takes quite a long while to do so.

March is ending, and we are earnestly greeted by inconsistent heatwaves. Our season of tag-init calls, and I hope that you, dear reader, can read these fine works under the mercy of trees. (Or in a cafe with a functioning air conditioner and wifi connection.)

Saquina Karla C. Guiam
General Santos City

Issue 6 Introduction

Bong nawa. Dakong ginhawa ang gugma alang sa mga Tboli. Kenbong nawa, gihigugma taka. Dili ba kasugpong sa ginhawa ang kinabuhi ug sa kinabuhi ang gugma? Nalalang ang gugma ayha pa mopitik-pitik ang dugo sa kasingkasing sa batang gipamapdos sa inahan. Taytayan kini sa mga maghigala ug mag-uyab nga dili mapugngang istoryahon ang matag usa. Gatubo kini sa mga kumo sa mga gahunahuna sa kagahapon ug kaugmaon sa atong nasod.

Lahi-lahi gayod ang kinaiya ug pagtan-aw sa gugma, ug gipamatuoran kini sa mga balak ug sugilanon sa isyu sa Cotabato Literary Journal karong Pebrero, ang bulan sa paghigugmaay.

Alang kay Generoso Opulencia sa iyang balak nga “On Your 68th Birthday,” adunay kahumot ang gugma: “I believe in the scent of sainthood/ of those tortured by men,/ demons or lifelong self-denial.” Hanas kining gipasimhot sa atoa sa magbabalak pinaagi sa pagpagunit, pagpabati, ug pagpatan-aw sa mga pulong nga masabtan lang man unta sa atong mga mata. Ug usa ka leksiyon sa pagputol sa mga linya kining balak.

Masimhotan pod ang kahumot sa gugma sa balak ni David Jayson Oquendo: “Time passed, but the scent of the sea still lingered in my body.” Bunga kini sa pagmugna sa persona og mga panumdoman ug pangandum sa usa ka lugar. Apan, dungag sa magbabalak, walay kaseguradohan ang paghigugma (o ang pagginhawa sa ilalom sa tubig); adunay mga kinahanglang bugnoon. Makit-an ang iyang pagbugno sa mga pagduha-duha niya sa pagputol sa mga linya ug estansa: “Caught in a force bigger than we were, we went/ sweeping away the names of our children we decided/ over marshmallows and a campfire/ written in big letters in an island for all the word to see.”

Adunay gugmang bakak, ingon sa balak nga “Bonifacio Arsonisto” ni Gerald Galindez. Dili daw tanan nga atong gituohang tinuod ug matuod kay kamatuoran, sama sa mga nabiling gahum sa kolonyalismo, ang lihok sa komersiyalismo, ug bisan ang mga hulmang banyaga sa literatura: “Walang laman ang mga tula’t sanaysay/ at kung meron man/ sila’y nasa tuktok na hindi natin naabot.” Kinahanglan daw kining sunogon aron mahawan ang dalan sa panibag-o. Mao tingali nga morag prosa ug walay klaro ang paghan-ay sa iyang mga linya. Sugdanan kaha kini sa iyang pagsupak sa gigugma natong literatura?

Mao sad kini ang makita sa balak nga “Ang Putang Inang Bayan” ni Doren John Bernasol. Paghigugma sad sa nasod ang gihusgotan niini ug direktahay ang paghan-ay sa mga ideya sa linya. Maskin karaan nang metapora ang puta alang sa atong nasod: “Oo puta ako, sa Kastila, Kano, Hapon, at muli sa Kano,” madunggan sa mga linya sa balak ang hugót nga pagpangga sa magbabalak sa iyang yutang giilang nasod. Mao segurong usahay ginatawag ang ing-aning mga balak (spoken word poetry) nga ‘húgot’ bisag dili gyod parehas ang duha.

Balibato ang gugma alang kay Michael John Otanes sa “Swollen Lymph Node,” usa ka sugilanong mahitungod sa (dili) pagtaganay ug (dili) paghigugmaay sa mag-amahan human mamatay sa ilang inahan/asawa: “A wall so high then propped up between them, from that moment on.” Dili ginahisgotan ang ilang gugma sa ilahang sultihanay ug sa pagsasaysay sa magsusugid apan ginapahibalo sa mga magbabasa nga naa lang kining gahulat mamugna sa atong hunahuna ug pagbati.

Pagpatinuod gayod sa tagohala sa gugma ang mga balak ug sugilanon sa isyu karon, nga bisag dugay nang nabuhi ang gugma, dili tinuod nga nahanduraw na ang tanan sa iyang kinaiya. Gabag-o ang gugma. Ingon pa ni Rio Alma, “Di na tayo umiibig tulad noon/ pagkat puso’y mga plastik at de-motor.” Aduna lang gihapong makaplagang bag-o samtang gadumdom kitang magsusulat ug magbabasa sa mga nahibal-an na.

M. J. Cagumbay Tumamac
Dakbayan sa Quezon

Issue 5 Introduction

It is widely acknowledged that Filipinos are family-oriented, and this trait can’t be more evident than this time of year. For most of us, Christmas Eve is best spent with our parents, in our childhood home, New Year’s Day should be spent with our immediate family in our current residence, and the vacation time between the two major celebrations is the best date to hold family reunions. Thus, for this issue of Cotabato Literary Journal, we deemed it fitting to feature works that deal with home and family; however, most of the works that we were able to gather go beyond, and even against, the portrait of family as usually depicted in greeting cards and noche buena advertisements.

Jade Mark Capiñanes’s essay, “The Portrait of a Young Man as a Banak,” is about the places that he has lived in—Davao City, Polomolok in South Cotabato, and General Santos City—and the struggles that his family have gone through, the same struggles that caused him to live in those different places. Capiñanes observes that the banak, the peculiar fish that would sometimes appear in the community where he grew up, have become mere visitors to the place that was named after them. The fish have, in a manner of speaking, become strangers to their own home, and Capiñanes’s jouney in life so far parallels the banak’s unusual migratory behavior. In a lucid and engaging language, the young writer deftly weaves the different locations, the past and the present, the exposition and the rumination. He may still be in search of an actual home, but talentwise, he seems to have found it in writing.

Noel Pingoy, an oncologist in General Santos City, is known for his poignant essays related to his profession, but for this issue, we decided to feature his writings that show other sides of him. In “Other Disclosures,” a suite of short essays, he writes about—and for—his family, his friends, and Koronadal City, his hometown. Permeating the pieces are universal values that Pingoy holds dear and readers would do well to embrace or at least ponder upon, especially in this age where, through social media, anyone can express an opinion and any opinion can become a mantra of millions. Pingoy’s pieces here are more straightforward than his lengthier essays about his life as a doctor, but the trademark warmth and eloquence are ever present.

Mariz Leona’s “Uma,” the only fiction we have for this issue, is set in Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat, the young writer’s hometown. The story is about a rural family facing the effects of technological advancement. The change is rather simple—a mobile harvesting machine is procured and rented out by someone of better means in the neighborhood—but for a family whose main source of income is the father’s daily wage as a farm laborer, the effects are devastating. The story could easily degenerate into a melodrama and overt excoriation of technology and small-scale capitalism, but with a sensibility that seems advanced for her age, Leona handles the plot and characters with subtlety and makes the story more about resilience. She also has quite an ear for dialogue, capturing with precision the kind of Hiligaynon that is spoken here in Cotabato Region.

In “Early Morning in Surallah,” Estrella Taño Golingay shows once more why she is one of the foremost female poets in the region. At the start, the poem appears to be about a humdrum routine or a touching moment with a loved one, but it turns out to be about memories in the past that creep their way to the present. The setting may be a specific town in South Cotabato, but readers from anywhere else in the region would feel the same unease, for our own hometowns cast similar shadows in our lives.

Andrea Lim’s “Homesickness” encapsulates the longing for our family all of us must have felt—if not right now, in the past; if not frequently, at least once. The terse language of the poem is only apt, for indeed, homesickness doesn’t always have to be cured, or it may not be cured at all. The young poet surely knows the subject, for she has known and left several homes, having been a resident of several cities, including General Santos.

Whether you are yearning to be home or you are yearning for a home, the works in this issue will speak with you like a family member who understands. Literature, after all, is meant to help us make sense of life, and Cotabato Literary Journal is meant to address the more specific concerns of the people in our region. This is our fifth issue, and for the past five months, this online publication has become home to excellent pieces from local writers, and maybe to the writers themselves and the readers as well. For the new year, we hope to make the family bigger. Fate chooses our homes for us or takes away our homes from us. Let’s have one of our own choosing, and let’s keep the hearth burning.

Jude Ortega
Senator Ninoy Aquino, Sultan Kudarat

Issue 4 Introduction

Madalas na inuuri ang mga tao sa Mindanaw ayon sa kanilang kalinangan at paniniwala. Naniniwala bagaman ang ilan na hindi sapat ang mga pag-uuri (o pagkakahong) ito sa realidad, tigib naman ito ng kasaysayan ng kapuwa pagdakila sa sari-sariling mga pagkakakinlanlan at pagkaila sa pagkatao ng kapuwa.

Pagdakila sa likás na kilos ng kalikásan, una, gamit ang mga elementong Kristiyano ang litaw na pananaw sa akdang “Rorate Coeli” ni Genoroso Opulencia. Muli, napakatingkad ng paglalarawan ni Opulencia ng hulagway ng daigdig— “The sound of peltings/ on leaves, grass, and roofs/ is slowly coming in.” Lagi’t laging pinaalala ng kaniyang mga akda ang pagkakakilanlan ng anyong tula sa panahon ngayong maaari nang pag-anyuing tula ang lahat ng bagay at nilalang.

Karanasan naman ng Lumad na si Ija ang paksa ng akdang “Pangarap ni Ija” ni Doren John Bernasol. Payak lámang ang tunggalian ng kuwento—nais ni Ija na mag-aral ng kolehiyo ngunit hindi káya ng kaniyang pamilya kayâ naisip nilang ipaasawa siya sa isang matandang maykaya—ngunit kakakitaan ng gilas sa pagpili ng paksa at bisa ng tahimik na paglalahad; mas nakaririnig nga táyo sa galaw at mga mata ng tauhan. Si Bernasol, na kasalukuyan ngayong mag-aaral sa Mindanao State University, ay isang tinig na kailangang abangan.

Bagaman mahalagang itanghal ang sari-saring danas ng mga tao sa rehiyon ayon sa mga pag-uuri, hindi maitatangging mayroong mga karanasang walang kinikilalang paniniwala o lumalampas sa mga kahon ng lipunan. Pag-aasawa rin ng tagalabas, halimbawa, ang pinapaksa ng akdang ”The Bleached Hills of Cotabato” ni Erwin Cabucos, isang kilalang manunulat na humuhugot ng haraya sa tinubuang lupa ng Cotabato at kasalukuyang tinitirhan na Brisbane, Australia; ngunit sa isang dayuhan, na sasalubungin nila sa paliparan. Isa mga nakahuhuli ng pansin sa salaysay na ito ang imahen ng literal na pagka/lalapit ng mga paniniwala—“On the other side of the road stood a cream-colored Iglesia ni Kristo church with its towering spires . . . Then I was deafened by a loud cry over a speaker sitting on a mosque’s roof: ’Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar.’” —isang karaniwang kaayusan sa rehiyon.

Tigib ang sanaysay na “Notes of an Expat” ni Angeli Savas ng General Santos at na ngayon ay naninirahan sa Europa ng ligaya at ligalig ng paglalakbay at paghihiwalay sa mga lupaing tina(ta)hak. Sa isang bahagi ng kaniyang akda, muli niyang binalikan ang salaysay ang kaniyang danas na maiuri sa mga kahong binuo ng lipunan. Aniya: “. . . it is still a non-issue that holds back those few of us who are categorised this way from being able to see ourselves on the same level as everyone else. As a society, unless we admit there is injustice, we cannot start the way to equality. We cannot change what we cannot see.”

Dayo naman sa rehiyong ito ang manunulat na si Maureen Gaddi dela Cruz. Sa kaniyang tulang nása Filipino, “Hindi Kayo mga Pangalan Lamang,” at Ingles, “You Are Not Mere Names,” danas ng dahas na hindi lámang nakapaloob sa mga kahon ng Moro, Kristiyano, at Lumad ang muli niyang ipinapagunita sa atin. Hindi “. . .mga pangalan lamang / o mga numerong itinatala sa pisara” ang mga nawawala, pinatay, hinúli, at iba pa, dito, doon, noon, ngayon . . . Nakatutuwa ang balintunang piniling maging hindi tiyak ng buong tula upang tukuyin ang tiyak na danas at damdamin.

Wala ngang katiyakan kahit pilit táyong isinisisilid sa tiyak na mga uri.

M. J. Cagumbay Tumamac
General Santos City

Issue 3 Introduction

We believe we’re on the right track. We have been making good on our promises, as laid out in the introduction to the maiden issue of this online literary journal.

After the public poetry reading in General Santos on July 29, similar events have been conducted in Koronadal (September 2), Tacurong (September 30), and Kidapawan (October 20), and preparations are being made for Cotabato. Soon we will have brought poetry closer to all the five cities of the region.

In the areas where poetry readings have been conducted, we have also selected interim officers to take care of recruitment and other literature-related undertakings. The officers have facilitated some activities, the most notable of which is the ongoing South Cotabato Poetry Workshop, an eight-session course for ten aspiring poets, taught by award-winning multilingual poet Generoso Opulencia.

And this literary journal, of course, continues to be a reliable venue for the best new works of local writers. This issue features six poems, two each from veteran writers Estrella Taño Golingay and Generoso Opulencia and one each from young poets Florence Jay Salcedo and Adonis Hornoz. Golingay’s “Trail” and Hornoz’s “Little Statue” are distinctly Mindanawon, while the other works have universal themes. Also included in this issue is a story from Jude Ortega. “Day of Mourning” was one of the top five winners in a 2015 nationwide short story competition that received 176 entries.

This issue, the third, is leaner than the first two because we have gathered before most of the winning works of Cotabato writers and we are focusing on discovering new voices, but we are well within our goal, which is to feature works from at least five writers every month. Expect the coming issues to contain a similar number of poems and stories.

We are grateful to our contributors for their trust in us. We are likewise thankful to the more or less five hundred individuals who have attended our poetry readings, especially the nearly one hundred open mike performers. They surprise us each time. Lastly, we thank the managements of our venues—DG’s Restobar in General Santos, 99 Brewery in Koronadal, Woodland Restobar in Tacurong, and Porticus Restobar in Kidapawan for the poetry readings and Refuge Cafe in Koronadal for the poetry workshop.

Months ago, most of us have been strangers. Now we are no doubt a community—brought together by literature, contributing whatever each one can to literature. We must really be on the right track.

Jude Ortega
Isulan, Sultan Kudarat