Cautionary Tale

By Jermaine Dela Cruz

She was
or so they thought.
Woods fired, engines chugged,
they sailed her West in fair majestic pride
unknowing of a tragic ending, a harrowing recollections.
In a blink of an eye, she collided with a tip of the ice, a thousand lives and more swallowed by angry tides,
cries of mercy resonating, woes fading into the familiar shuttered countenance one by one.
Debris floating back and forth, a horrifying spectacle of bodies buoyant, breathless,
as salty waters sing a lullaby consoling souls from a sudden departure.
The ship of dreams, the unsinkable, in all her vainglory
a grand exit on her first and final journey, but not
before a farewell kiss pressed on her lips—
She, in a trance, breath withdrawn,
her limbs weak and weary.
Slowly she plunged
but not before
looking back
one last


Editors and Contributors


Eric Gerard H. Nebran is an educator and illustrator from General Santos City. He is currently a PhD Comparative Literature student at the University of the Philippines–Diliman. His research interests include orality, history, and literary productions of his hometown.

Jude Ortega is the author of the short story collection Seekers of Spirits (University of the Philippines Press, 2018). He studied political science at Notre Dame of Marbel University in South Cotabato and currently divides his time between Senator Ninoy Aquino and Isulan, both in Sultan Kudarat.


Doren John Bernasol is from Koronadal City and a graduate of Bachelor of Arts in Filipino from Mindanao State University in General Santos City. He’s currently working for Zuellig Pharma in Davao City.

Kurt Joshua O. Comendador is an AB English student at Mindanao State University in General Santos City, where he also serves as associate editor of the official student publication and as president of a book reading club. He was a fellow at the 2018 Davao Writers Workshop and at the recently concluded 3rd Nueva Ecija Personal Essay Writing Workshop. His piece that appears in this issue won the inaugural Lagulad Prize, a regionwide essay writing contest organized by Cotabato Literary Journal.

Jermaine Dela Cruz studied Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature at Mindanao State University in General Santos City. She works as managing editor of Standout GenSan, the official publication of General Santos City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc., and she currently serves as interim chairperson of Pangandungan, General Santos City’s writers’ association.

Allan Ace Dignadice is from Koronadal City, South Cotabato, and a BS Electronics Engineering student at Mindanao State University in General Santos City. He is a former editor in chief of the official school publication of Koronadal Comprehensive National High School.

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.

Marc Jeff Lañada was born and raised in General Santos City. He is a graduate of BA Communication Arts in the University of the Philippines–Mindanao. He was a fellow at the 2017 Davao Writers Workshop, and some of his works have appeared in Dagmay, the literary journal of Davao Writers Guild.

If Curiosity Kills

By Jermaine Dela Cruz

After photograph no. 4 in Hajar Kabalu’s Minsan sa may Bagsakan

Below is a bed of asphalt, surveyed
by a creature covered
not in velvet or in silk, flaunting
in muted strut
deafening silence,
preparing for hunt or coming home
no one knows.

Illuminated, the creature casts a shadow
against the grainy surface,
a bleak, distorted reflection
that mocks you with its
empty mercurial gaze
like a soul trapped in ebony cage,
an empty space, a vacuum

The absence of light is darkness
darkness is haunting
light in itself is haunting
the umbra, an illusion
of a phantom in the middle of the night
perplexed by reality and apparition intertwined
if curiosity kills, I’ll bet the nine lives.