Introduction to October 2019 Issue

Featured in this issue are six literary works—two poems, one micro essay, and three short stories. Four of them deal with love, a subject that is relevant regardless of what time of year it is. Most of them are distinctly set in the region, an indication of the growing consciousness among local writers to write local stories for local readers. All of them are well-written, whatever language they are in.

“Oh, My Mandarangan” by Vincent Carlo Duran Cuzon looks back on a love that failed, and “Handum” by Adrian Pete Pregonir yearns for a love to be fulfilled. Poetry editor Paul Randy Gumanao selected and reviewed the two poems:

Cuzon’s poem is a creative interlacing of folklore and the persona’s narrative. Here, the Kidapawanon poet features as the central setting of the poem a local landmark of Kidapawan City—the Mandarangan Trail of Mt. Apo. In Bagobo folklore, Mandarangan is a powerful spirit who dwells with his wife, Darago, in a great fissure in Mt. Apo. In the poem, Mandarangan is addressed as someone to whom the persona was lured and with whom had a serendipitous affair, which eventually did not prosper causing the persona to earn the ire of Mandarangan’s wife.

The poem ushers the readers through the thickets, warm vents, and foggy atmosphere of the Mandarangan Trail on the way to the peak of Mt. Apo, as it reveals a story of a fleeting and unfortunate romance with someone who is already committed to another. The poem is a must-read especially this month when the Mandarangan Trail is again open for tourists and trekkers for the annual Mt. Apo October Trek.

Ang binalaybay ni Pregonir nagalarawan sa madalum nga handum kag paglaum sang persona nga makaupod ang ginahulat nga pinalangga nga nagpasalig sa iya nga dal-on siya sa lawud nga [ila]/ ginadahum kag indi magauntat tubtub/ indi [siya] madala sa/ pantalan sang [ila] ginhawa. Matahum ang paghulagway sang iya nga kahidlaw. May sagol nga kabalaka ang iya nga handum kag ini mabatyagan sa mga imahe sang nagalupad/ nga mga ipot-ipot sa kahanginan, sang nagauyog [nga] kapunoan, kag sang wala untat/ [nga] pagtayhop sang amihan.

Kung san-o ang katumanan sang iya nga handum, wala pa sing kasiguruhan. Ugaling, tungod sa gugma, nagapadayon siya nga malaumon pinaagi sa pagpanday/ sang balay sang tinaga/ agud mangin isa/ ka binalaybay.

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Sa maikling sanayay na “Liko’t Lubak,” inilahad ni Allan Ace Dignadice ang kaniyang mga karanasan at pagmumuni-muni upang lalong makilala ang sarili at humantong sa isang desisyon. Payak man ang paksa, nakakaaliw basahin ang gawa dahil malinis at may indayog ang wika at matapat ang paglalahad. Ipinapahayag din sa sanaysay na ang mga paglalakbay ay laging para sa sarili at bumabalik sa pinanggalingan.

Mahitungod ang sugilanon nga “Ginadili” ni Hannah Adtoon Leceña sa usa ka Kristiyano nga babaye nga naay uyab nga Muslim, ug tutol ang iyahang amahan sa ilahang paghigugmaay. Nipadulong ang suliran sa bayolente nga pagpakigharong, ug dinhi nigawas ang matuod nga  kinaiyahan sa mga tawo. Pinaagi sa matud-anong dayalogo, nahimong buhi ang mga eksena sa hunahuna sa magbabasa.

Tungkol naman sa sapilitang pagpapakasal ang kuwentong “Bihag” ni Norsalim S. Haron. Sa isang kulturang malaki ang pagpapahalaga sa dangal, hindi bihira ang pangyayaring ito. Sa pag-usad ng kuwento, matutuklasang hindi lamang pisikal ang pagkakabihag sa pangunahing tauhan. Ipinapasilip sa akda ang mga kaugalian at paniniwala ng mga Maguindanon.

“Scars under Her Feet” by Angelo Serrano is a long short story about a girl and her adventure in a magical land. The quest she accepts, however, is far from simple or ideal. As she comes face to face with the villain, her perception of good and evil, of truth and lies, is challenged. Of the local writers his age, Serrano arguably has the best command of the English language.

These six writers are still in their teens or twenties, as most of the contributors of this journal are. If they persevere and continue to produce works that are of the same quality as or better than the ones here, the region’s literature will thrive even further. This journal has so much to be grateful for and look forward to.

Jude Ortega
Isulan, Sultan Kudarat

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Introduction to September 2019 Issue

Three years ago today, Cotabato Literary Journal was launched, at a poetry reading in Koronadal City, South Cotabato. Since then, this online publication has featured nearly three hundred works from more than a hundred local writers. The journey, though, has never been easy. Each issue has been a product of community work and not just the usual editorial process. The editors could not rely on the journal’s inbox alone, and opportunities had to be created to encourage literary production, such as writing contests, poetry readings, zine fests, and seminars. So in this anniversary issue, we are paying tribute to where everything is happening and the wellspring of inspiration to many writers—the hometown.

In “Memories of Compound,” an essay by Estrella Taño Golingay, readers learn that the municipality of Surallah in the province of South Cotabato used to be a village called “Compound.” Nonfiction editor Jennie Arado says the piece is “beautifully written with references to the early ’60s landmarks juxtaposed with the current landmarks” and “rich in details which the people living [in the place then] would certainly share and generally look back to.” She also says that the piece “well embodies the ‘hometown’ we would always come back to—whether physically or in memory.”

The two other essays in this issue are products of Lagulad Prize, a regionwide writing competition organized by this journal with generous help from Blaise Francisco. Lagulad is a Hiligaynon word that means “to explore,” and the contest encourages writers “to focus on exploring an experience instead of imparting knowledge to, or imposing personal values on, the readers.” In the second edition of the contest, writers were asked how the conflict in Mindanao had affected them. Invariably, the entries speak as much about the hometown of the writers as about the writers themselves. The reviews that follow are those of nonfiction editor Hazel-Gin Aspera’s.

In “Addressing Racism: Steadfast Wherever My Feet Lead Me,” Midpantao Midrah G. Adil II reflects upon the double-edged sword of diversity and discrimination—that is, the beauty and richness of his Maguindanaoan heritage, but also the stigma he faced growing up as a Muslim in a Catholic school. In a stroke of fate, Adil gets the opportunity to travel across the Philippines to understand cultures different from his own. In truly experiencing diversity, he thus comes into terms with his differences and becomes conscious of the role he can play in promoting acceptance. This essay, the winner of the 2nd Lagulad Prize, subtly explores the link between personal experience and wider perspective of the conflict in Mindanao.

Isabelle Mirabueno’s “Fear Takes a Back Seat” explores her experiences of the conflict in Mindanao. In her case, however, the threat lies dormant, lurking in the periphery of her everyday life through the news, political fora, and, even closer to home, the experience of her own father. Mirabueno, however, takes a defiant stance on this threat, questioning the role of fear in making everyday decisions. This essay, a finalist to the 2nd Lagulad Prize, entreats us to be rational even in the face of conflict and, as the famous British World War II poster might say, to “keep calm and carry on.”

Sa “Ang Pagkatuyo ng Lupa at Puso,” isang maikling kuwento ni Mubarak M. Tahir, maagang namulat sa responsibilidad at hirap ng buhay ang isang batang lalaki dahil sa pagkamatay ng isang minamahal at sa pinsalang dulot ng kalikasan sa kabuhayan ng kaniyang pamilya. Ipinapakita sa kuwento ang payak na pamumuhay ng mga magsasakang Muslim sa isang pamayanan sa Maguindanao. Nababalot man ng kalungkutan ang kuwento, kaaya-aya itong basahin dahil sa maayos na pagkahabi ng mga tagpo at sa pagkabanayad ng wika, na nakasalaysay sa Filipino at pinanatili ang Maguindanon sa dayalogo.

Ang sugilanon nga “Lanahan” ni Alvin Larida nahanungod sa isa ka tao nga naguba ang panghunahuna isa ka adlaw kag ginlagas sang wasay ang iya asawa nga bitbit ang lapsag pa nila nga anak. Makangingidlis ang mga panghitabo sa istorya, kapin pa kay ang mga toloohan nga yara diri ginapatihan pa sa gihapon sa mga uma kag suok nga lugar. Ang mga misteryo sa istorya may mga sabat, apang ang mga sabat nagahatag lang sang mas madamo nga misteryo. Tama lang sa unod sang istorya ang amo ni nga istilo sang pag-istorya.

Nakasulat naman sa ginhalo na Tagalog at Hiligaynon ang tula ni Gerald Galindez na “Maalikabok Ka Lang pero Kaganda Mo,” isang pagpahayag ng pagmahal sa Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat, ang ginlakihan kag ginatirhan ngayon ng makata. Tulad ng lenggwahe na gingamit sa tula, na lenggwahe din talaga na ginasalita sa lugar, halo-halo ang katangian ng Tacurong na ginapuri—mula sa giyakap mo lahat ng tribu hanggang sa mga pakpak na ginto, apoy sa dulo ng mga yantok, at mula sa kadaming nagaasa sa iyong paaralan hanggang sa mga sayaw na nagasabog. Isa itong kakaibang tula tungkol sa isang kakaibang bayan.

Sa tulang “Kubo” ni Norsalim S. Haron, nakakulong ang persona hindi lamang sa isang bahay kundi maging sa kaniyang katawan, at isa na lamang siyang tagamasid sa buhay ng iba: Ang katabing bintana ay nagsisilbi bilang sinehan—/ pinanonood ko ang mga batang nagtatagisan. Malalaman kinalaunan na paglipas ng panahon ang dahilan ng kaniyang kalagayan: Araw-gabi akong nakatanaw/ sa punyal, espada’t katanang naghahabulan/ sa kaloob-looban ng aming orasan. Gayunpaman, maaaring maging malaya ang nakakulong: tila mananatili na ako sa kubo/ nang may galak sa piling ng aking anino. Sinusubok ng tula ang pananaw ng mambabasa sa kalagayan at kaligayahan ng ibang tao.

Amgid ang tumong sa balak ni Glenn M. Arimas nga “Sa Amoang Balay.” Ginadulaan ang pasabot sa mga pulong ug ang pagtan-aw sa mambabasa sa posisyon ug espasyo: wala gagawas, pero naa pirmis gawas/ naa pirmis balay, naa sa sulod./ Wala ko nakakulong kay naa ra kos among balay. Dalaygon ang magbabalak sa iyahang pagsulay og suwat og sugpay nga duol sa iyahang kasingkasing gamit ang pinulongan sa iyahang komunidad.

Maraming salamat sa lahat ng naging bahagi ng Cotabato Literary Journal sa nakalipas na tatlong taon, bilang patnugot, kontributor, o mambabasa man. Nanatiling matatag ang proyektong ito dahil maraming handang mag-ambag, dahil maraming nagmamahal sa kanilang mga bayan, na pinapahalagahan ng journal sa simula pa man. Kakakitaan ng malakas na lokal na kulay ang marami sa mga gawang naitampok sa mga nakaraang isyu. Sa ating ikaapat na taon, patuloy nating ipagdiwang, galugarin, at ibahagi ang mga kuwento natin.

Jude Ortega
Isulan, Sultan Kudarat

Introduction to July 2019 Issue

Nagtapos ng malikhaing pagsulat na kurso si Innah Johanee Alaman. Masasabi namang sa sariling pagsisikap natutong magsulat sina Allana Joy V. Boncavil, Rossel Audencial, at Doren John Bernasol; mas hinubog sila ng mga akdang nabasa nila kaysa sa turo ng ibang manunulat. Magkaiba ang naging paglalakbay nila bilang manunulat, ngunit dito sa Cotabato Literary Journal, ang akda naman at hindi ang may-akda ang sinusuri ng mga patnugot, kaya napiling maitampok sa isyung ito ang mga gawa nilang apat.

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Editor for poetry Andrea D. Lim chose two submissions from Alaman, each one a gem. In “Daybreak,” someone wakes up to the sight of a beautiful sunrise. Or so it seems. With the poet’s deft use of irony, an inner turmoil is illuminated. In “Web,” Alaman shows how the internet has become a tool to prey on the vulnerable and how everyone is complicit. The poet further shows aspiring local poets how something short can contain and reveal something wide and complex.

Of the three short stories that editor for fiction David Jayson Oquendo selected, one is from Alaman—“Happy Hours Are for Happy Endings.” The story is about an ageing madam whose rundown nightclub is about to be demolished to make way for a building of foreign investors. Her clout in the city government, however, is strong and deeply personal, and she’s determined to use it to save her nightclub and the souls that it has become a haven to. Both uproarious and heartbreaking, the story depicts the plight not only of a woman or a city but of the whole country.

In “Barbie,” fourteen-year-old Boncavil weaves scenes from the life of a boy with extracts from police interrogations, in the process showing the reader how events in someone’s childhood can leave indelible marks in his psyche. Skilled with language and the use of restraint to heighten the drama, Boncavil is a name to watch out for.

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Mahitungod ang sugilanon nga “Bugas” ni Audencial sa usa ka bata sa usa ka pobre nga pamilya. Makita sa sugilanon unsa ang epekto sa hunahuna sa mga anak kung nagapasagad ang mga ginikanan sa ilahang katungdanan. Ginapakita pud sa “Bugas” ang kasagaran nga dagan sa relasyon sa mga Pilipino sa ilahang kabanayan. Matawag nga Cebuano ang pinulongan nga gigamit sa sugilanon, apan klaro nga ang nagsulat niiini gikan sa usa ka Ilonggo nga pamilya sa usa ka Cebuano nga komunidad, o nidako nga Hiligaynon ang sinultian ug nakatuon og Cebuano kinaulahian. Komon sa rehiyon ang mga sagol nga pinulongan sama niini, ug isip pagsaulog sa atoang kaugalingong kultura, gipreserba sa mga editor ang Hiligaynon-Cebuano sa magsusulat.

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Naitanghal na ng Apat sa Taglamig, isang grupo ng mga mandudula sa South Cotabato, ang dulang Haram ni Bernasol. Tungkol ito sa isang nagmamahal na kailangang itago ang nararamdaman dahil sa mga paghihigpit ng kaniyang relihiyon. Pinili ng patnugot na si Norman Ralph Isla ang gawa dahil, sa mga lokal na dula, “isa [ito] sa mga pinakamapangahas sa temang gustong ibulatlat” at “napapanahon” pagdating sa “isyu ng moralidad.” Isang “eksperimentasyon” din umano ang Haram dahil sa paggamit ni Bernasol ng “mga estetika ng spoken word poetry at dramatic monologue.”

Jude Ortega
Isulan, Sultan Kudarat

Editors and Contributors

CONTRIBUTORS

John Dexter Canda is from General Santos City and a first year medical student at Ateneo de Zamboanga University. He earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from the same university and served as the editor in chief of the official student publication. His essays have appeared in the Youngblood column of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

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.

Alvin Q. Larida teaches physics and chemistry at the senior high school department of 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 he is currently finishing his master’s degree at Mindanao State University in General Santos City.

Gian Carlo Licanda teaches English and journalism at Colon National High School in Maasim, Sarangani Province. He is currently taking up MAEd English at Holy Trinity College of General Santos City. He was a fellow at the 18th Ateneo de Davao University Summer Writers Workshop, in 2017.

Joebert Palma Jr. earned his bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Notre Dame of Dadiangas University in General Santos City in 2016. He is currently teaching high school biology and chemistry in the same city.

Adrian Pete Pregonir is a senior high school student in Banga, South Cotabato. He has been published in Liwayway magazine, and he was a fellow at the 2018 Davao Writers Workshop.

EDITORS

Jude Ortega (Editor in Chief) is the author of the short story collection Seekers of Spirits (University of the Philippines Press, 2018), the chapbook Katakot (Balangay Books, 2018) and the zines Mga Kuwentong Peysbuk and Faded Jeans and Old Shoes. He divides his time between Senator Ninoy Aquino and Isulan, both in Sultan Kudarat.

Eric Gerard H. Nebran (Managing Editor) 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.

David Jayson Oquendo (Editor for Fiction) is from Polomolok, South Cotabato, and works as an electrical engineer in Davao City. 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. Her story “Ang Dako nga Yahong sang Batchoy” won the South Cotabato Children’s Story Writing Contest in 2018.

Norman Ralph Isla (Editor for Drama) is from Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat, and teaches at Mindanao State University in General Santos City. He was a fellow for drama at the 2015 Davao Writers Workshop. Several of his plays have been staged in General Santos City and South Cotabato.

Introduction to April 2019 Issue

April is National Literature Month, and our modest contribution to the celebration is the usual lineup of well-written works from writers in the region. For this issue, we have eight works in four languages—or five, if a hybrid of Tagalog and Hiligaynon is counted as a separate language.

“Amay, Anak, kag Tiyay Magda,” a Hiligaynon flash fiction by Alvin Larida, is about a member of a cult chosen to serve the leader. In less than seven hundred words, the writer packs the story with taboos—sacrilegious rituals, sex with someone so much older, and sex between someone in power and a follower—all told in an earnest and naive voice, resulting in an enthralling narrative.

“Kung Di Mo Na Kaya,” a Filipino flash fiction by Rustom M. Gaton, is about a suicide victim who finds herself in a bizarre situation. The story rises above the usual horror fare by making the reader think about giving up and going on.

For the fifth time, we are featuring a work from Allan Ace Dignadice, one of the most promising writers in the region. His homoerotic one-act play “Hawla,” written in Filipino, challenges the reader’s notion of desire, consent, and memory.

“Undang-Piti,” a Cebuano poem by Hannah Adtoon Leceña, portrays men’s playfulness: “Dili na jud ka?”/ Nagpahiyom lang ko./ Niana ka,/ “Lahi na sab atoang dulaon.” The naughtiness gives the reader kilig, but the poem is ultimately heartbreaking, as the first lines caution: Tingalig gilaay na pud ka/ Maong nanghagad ka/ Nga magpitikanay tang duha.

Heartbreaking from start to finish is Gerald Galindez’s “Meri Krismas, Langit,” a poem on loss. Indeed, the smallest coffins are the heaviest: Kami pala ang magbigay ng regalo ngayon/ Ibalot namin sa  karton, silopin/ Kahirap buhatin. The use of dialect Filipino gives the poem specificity, adding even more weight to the tragedy.

Also in this issue are works of three female writers who will be joining our editorial team soon. One is “Outgrown” by Andrea D. Lim. Slow, sensual, and searching, the poem traces the progress of a relationship, revealing cracks every now and then: My eyes shift direction to our reflections,/ the disheveled bed hair, skin-deep reaches and plunges, two bodies taking a place/ through giving in to its chance for the temporal haul/ of an endless whole. The lovers wind up in a less-than-ideal situation, as perhaps most people are fated to.

In the essay “The Old Office on the Side of the Road,” Jennie P. Arado recalls a part of her childhood. In our early years, we experience everything for the first time, so even mundane moments with people we barely know can be etched in our memory and have lasting effects in our lives. The piece is suffused with nostalgia for the more innocent self and for simpler times.

In “We Are Not in Paradise,” Hazel-Gin Lorenzo Aspera meditates just as much on how to tell the experience as on the experience itself, making the essay experimental in form and almost spiritual in content. Adding to the charm of the piece are lucid descriptions of nature.

With these works, mostly steeped in our region’s culture, we hope to help advance a little the country’s literature. By writing about our lives in ways that matter to the people around us, we enrich our own space and hopefully offer something new to the audience beyond. Let us read and write more local works this National Literature Month.

Jude Ortega
Isulan, Sultan Kudarat

Editors and Contributors

EDITORS

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), the chapbook Katakot (Balangay Books, 2018) and the zines Mga Kuwentong Peysbuk and Faded Jeans and Old Shoes. He has been a fellow for fiction at four national and two regional writers workshops. In 2015, his stories received honorable mention at the inaugural F. Sionil José Young Writers Awards and at the Nick Joaquin Literary Awards. He divides his time between Senator Ninoy Aquino and Isulan, both in Sultan Kudarat.

CONTRIBUTORS

Jennie P. Arado is from Koronadal City, South Cotabato, and currently works for SunStar Davao as editor of the lifestyle section. She earned her BA in English (major in creative writing) from the University of the Philippines–Mindanao. Her story “Ang Dako nga Yahong sang Batchoy” won the South Cotabato Children’s Story Writing Contest in 2018.

Hazel-Gin Lorenzo Aspera 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).

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. “Hawla,” his play that appears in this issue, is his fifth published work in Cotabato Literary Journal.

Gerald Galindez is a senior high school teacher at Notre Dame of Tacurong College in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat. His poem “San Gerardo and the Exocotidae” is the winner of the 2017 Cotabato Province Poetry Contest. He has released two poetry zines—I, Alone and Ginapasaya Mo Ako.

Rustom M. Gaton teaches at Montessori Learning Center in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat. He grew up in the municipality of Bagumbayan in the same province and earned his Bachelor of Secondary Education (major in English) degree at Sultan Kudarat State University.

Alvin Q. Larida is a teacher at Dole Philippines School in Polomolok, South Cotabato, where he teaches physics and chemistry for senior high school. He is a graduate of Notre Dame of Marbel University in Koronadal City, South Cotabato, and currently finishing his master’s degree at Mindanao State University in General Santos City.

Hannah Adtoon Leceña is a high school teacher and spoken word artist from Kiamba, Sarangani Province. She was a fellow for fiction at the 2018 Davao Writers Workshop and at the 3rd Bathalad–Sugbo Creative Writing Workshop (2019). She earned her Bachelor of Secondary Education (major in Filipino) degree at Mindanao State University in General Santos City.

Andrea D. Lim is from General Santos City and currently 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 is also a former editor in chief of The Weekly Sillimanian, the official student publication of Silliman University in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental.

Panimula sa Marso 2019 Isyu

 

Sa politika at komersiyo, hindi na bago ang konsepto ng “sister cities” o “twin towns.” Nitong mga nagdaang araw, napapaisip ako kung may kagaya nito sa panitikan. Para kasing ito ang tinatahak na daan ng General Santos City at ng San Jose City sa Nueva Ecija.

Kagagaling ko lang sa ikatlong Nueva Ecija Personal Essay Writing Workshop, na binuo ng tubo roon at premyadong manunulat na si Wilfredo Pascual. Kasama ko ang katulad kong panelist na si Jade Mark Capiñanes at isa sa mga fellow na si Kurt Joshua Comendador, na parehong mula sa General Santos.

Nagsimula ang ugnayan ng dalawang lungsod noong Pebrero 2017, nang bumisita si Sir Willi sa General Santos sa imbitasyon ng doktor sa kanser at premyadong mananaysay na si Noel Pingoy. Nagbigay ng panayam sa isang mall si Sir Willi, at nagpasa ng isang resolusyon ang Sangguniang Panlungsod na nagdedeklara sa kaniya bilang adopted son ng lugar.

Noong nakaraang taon, binuo ng Cotabato Literary Journal—kasama si Blaise Francisco, isang manunulat na tubong General Santos at nakabase ngayon sa Europa—ang Lagulad Prize, isang patimpalak ng mga personal na sanaysay para sa rehiyon ng SOCCSKSARGEN. Kinuha namin bilang hurado si Sir Willi, at nagpasya siyang igawad ang premyo sa akda ng labinsiyam na taong gulang na si Kurt. Nagpasya rin siyang gawaran si Kurt ng fellowship sa workshop na inoorganisa niya sa kaniyang kinalakhang bayan. Inimbitahan niya rin kami ni Jade na pumunta upang magbigay ng mga komento sa mga natanggap na gawa.

Kagaya ng mga lungsod na itinambal ng mga opisyal ng gobyerno, halos walang kaugnayan o pagkakatulad ang General Santos at San Jose. Iba ang wikang ginagamit ng mga tao roon. Iba rin ang itsura ng mga jeep. Kita sa kultura ng lugar na umunlad ito dahil sa lapit nito sa Maynila, na kabaligtaran ng General Santos at iba pang lungsod sa Mindanao—umunlad kahit malayo sa Maynila.

Maging sa panitikan, mas hayag ang pagkakaiba kaysa pagkakatulad ng San Jose at General Santos. May kaniya-kaniyang uniberso ang mga kuwento sa Central Luzon at ang mga kuwento sa SOCCSKSARGEN. Kung meron mang nag-uugnay sa dalawang lungsod, umuusbong pa lamang, at ito ay ang adhikain ng mga manunulat na yumabong ang personal na sanaysay sa panitikan ng Pilipinas.

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Kadalasang inilalabas namin ang isyu ng Cotabato Literary Journal sa unang araw ng buwan. Para ngayong Marso 2019, nagpasya kaming hintaying matapos ang Nueva Ecija workshop, na ginanap mula Pebrero 28 hanggang Marso 2. Hinintay naming marebisa ni Kurt ang kaniyang sanaysay dahil nais naming maitampok ang workshop habang sariwa pa ang mga balita tungkol dito. Kasama ang sanaysay ni Kurt, ang dalawang maikling kuwento at tatlong tula sa isyung ito ay nagpapakita na mulat ang mga batang manunulat ng SOCCSKSARGEN. Kilala nila ang mga sarili, alam nila ang mga nangyayari sa paligid, at handa silang mag-eksperimento upang mahasa pa ang kakayahan sa pagsusulat.

Pawang tungkol sa mga bata ang mga kuwentong “Diin na si Simó?” ni Allan Ace Dignadice at “Muwang” ni Doren John Bernasol. Sa panahong nauudyok ang ating mga mambabatas na ibaba ang edad ng criminal liability, isang paalala ang mga kuwento kung paano maging bata. Mga tao rin ang mga bata. Mga tao silang may sariling pananaw sa mundo at may sariling kagustuhan, ngunit dahil wala silang kapangyarihan sa ating lipunan, madalas silang nakakaligtaan at madaling mapagsamantalahan.

Relasyon din ng nasa ilalim ng kapangyarihan at ng may hawak ng kapangyarihan ang nilalaman ng tulang “Patawad, Ama” ni Norsalim S. Haron. Ramdam sa tula ang hirap ng kalagayan ng nagsasalita. Hanggang saan nga ba natin susundin ang ating mga magulang, at kailan natin igigiit ang sariling pagkakakilanlan?

Mula naman sa zine na Bioluminescence ang mga tulang “Ode to the World’s Oldest Lullaby” ni Marc Jeff Lañada at “Cautionary Tale” ni Jermaine Dela Cruz. Mga gawang tungkol sa dagat ang nilalaman ng zine, at binuo ito ng mga batang manunulat sa General Santos para sa SOX Zine Fest, na ginanap noong Nobyembre 2018. Parehong kongkreto ang anyo at unibersal ang tema ng dalawang tula.

May kinalaman din sa tubig ang “To Pull a Hook.” Sa sanaysay, binalikan ni Kurt ang mga karanasan niya sa pamimingwit nang minsang mamalagi siya sa isang lugar na malapit sa ilog. Makikita sa talas ng detalye at maayos na istruktura ng akda ang epekto ng mga palihang pinagdaanan nito.

Upang malinang ang panitikan ng ating rehiyon, nakaugat dapat ang ating mga akda sa ating sariling kasaysayan, pamumuhay, at maging heograpiya, ngunit mahalaga ring nakikipagpalitan tayo ng kaalaman sa ibang lugar at manunulat. Patuloy na makikipag-ugnayan ang Cotabato Literary Journal sa Nueva Ecija Personal Essay Writing Workshop. Hangad naming tumibay pa ang nasimulang samahan ng General Santos at San Jose.

Jude Ortega
Isulan, Sultan Kudarat