August 2018 (Issue 24)

Introduction by Jude Ortega

FICTION
Magatos a Badas by Mubarak M. Tahir
YOLO-gy by Mariz J. Leona

NONFICTION
Paano Magsakay ng Tricycle sa General Santos City
by Jade Mark Capiñanes

POETRY
Kabacan Blues by Gerald Galindez

PLAY
The Smell of the After Storm by Kwesi M. Junsan

Editor and Contributors

 

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YOLO-gy

By Mariz J. Leona
Fiction

Nagaduko ako kag ginasubay ang dalan nga ginaagyan sang mga subay. Daw wala ko sa akon espiritu nga ginasunod ang mga ini. Naugot abi ko kagaina pagbugtaw ko sa balay kay, baw, wala na gani tawo, wala pa gid pagkaon sa lamesa. Maayo tani pangutok ko subong kung my dapli ko nga nadakpan sa kaldero, pero kay waay gid. Amo siguro to nga gisundan ko ya agi ka mga subay kay nadumduman ko mabakas gali ni sila pangyadi sang makaon. Basi pa lang kakita man ko sang akon.

Sang nadula na sa akon panan-aw ang mga subay, gitan-aw ko ang palibot. Perti akon kibot kay sa minatyan takon gidala ka mga lilintian. Baw, maayo gid managap makaon ang mga dyutay nga subay ni. Sa may pagkatsismosa man ako, ti gilingling ko kung sin-o ya gihaya. Basi pa lang kilala ko man. Wala lang ko kabalo. Paglingling ko, baw, madamo sang tawo nagapururungko. Daw may misa haw. May ara sa tupad sang lungon nga gatindog nga laki. Gimurutan ko. Baw, amon nga kapitan ini. Sa wala pagduha-duha, nagsulod ko kag nagpungko man sa higad kay surebol gid nga pagtapos sining ila himuon may kaon gid mo.

“Maayong adlaw sa aton nga tanan no,” umpisa sang laki. Matyag ko kung indi ni pari, pastor ni mo. “Ari kita subong gatinurumpok para sa aton nga utod nga nagtaliwan na.”

Pagtapos sang pangamuyo kag wali sang laki, gihatag niya sa kapitan namon ang maykropon. “Tama gid ang hambal ni padre kagaina nga ang kamatayon wala sang ginapili nga edad okon sitwasyon,” hambal sang kapitan. “Kung imo na gid na nga adlaw, imo na gid ina. Wala na kita mahimo kundi iampo ta na lang gid ang ila nga kalag.

“Subong nga udto, tagaan ta sang higayon ang mga tawo nga malapit sa kay Maymay. Mauna anay ako kay ari na ako nga daan diri sa atubangan. Si Maymay kay isa gid ka maayo nga public servant. Isa siya sa mga maayo nga SK chairman nga akon nabal-an. Wala gid ina siya nagaduwa-duwa pagbulig sa barangay para sa ikalambo sini. Actually one of her projects na pending pa kay ang public library tani. Katong una wala ako nagsugot sa iya gusto, pero kagrabre gid kakugihan nga bata. Gibalik-balikan niya gid ako sa balay para pirmahan iya nga proposal. Iya gid nga gieksplinar sa akon nga importante gid sa mga kabataan nga makatuon makabasa, kag ini ang maging habit para mabatoan ang droga nga grabe na gid ang impluwensya diri sa aton lugar. Wala gid ako mahambal nga malain sa ini nga bata kay nasaksihan ko gid ang iya kabuot sa tanan. Ginahangyo ko man ang mga nabilin nga kaupod ni Maymay sa SK nga tani sundon ninyo ang iya nga mga nabilin nga mga proyekto para biskan siya nagtaliwan na makita ta gihapon ang iya nga gipangabudlayan. Saludo ako sa imo, May. Masubo lang kay kami gibiyaan mo na.” Gitrapohan niya ang luha nga nagtulo sa iya nga mata. “Ginatawagan ko si Nancy.” Gihatag dayon ni Kapitan ang maykropon kay Nancy.

“Bestfriend gid kami ya ni Maymay,” umpisa ni Nancy. “Upod gid kami sadto kaon lupa mo. Galuto-luto pa kami sa lata sang sardinas. Kung bakolon gani ko ni Nanay pati siya gawawaw man. Isa siya ka mabuot nga bata. Bal-an ko gid ina kay every time malagaw kami, ako ya wala lisensya lisensya a. Biskan di sugtan, hala sige malagaw gihapon ko ya, pero si Maymay tana ya kay malisensiya gid na siya biskan sa lapit lang na ya, kag kung indi siya sugtan, indi gid na siya maghalin sa ila balay.” Nag-untat sya istorya kay grabe na gid iya hibi. Gitagaan siya tubi. “Si Maymay kay isa gid ka mabinuligon nga tawo kay tong mga daw isa bulan bag-o siya napatay, tong grabe gid akon problema sa kwarta, wala gid siya nagduwa-duwa nga buksan ya iya nga alkansiya para may ipahulam lang siya sa akon mo. Indi lang sa mga amo sina nga butang. Biskan sin-o pa na basta may kinanglan nga bulig, buligan niya gid na ya sang wala pagduwa-duwa. Mabuot gid nga baye si Maymay.” Giatubang niya ang lungon kag nag hambal, “May, indi ta gid ka ya malimtan hangtod sa hangtod. Ang imo yuhom nga kanami kag imo mga kadlaw daw budlay gid dulaon sa akon hunahuna. Salamat, miga, sa tanan tanan. Tani makita mo na dira imo nga kasadya.”

Baw, grabe ba, daw puro lang kamaayohan sang nagtaliwan akon nabatian. Wala gid may malain sa iya nga? Ano na siya perpekto gid? Grabe man ning mga tawo diri man, ka mga plastic a. Nagtaliwan na gani ya tawo ila pa japon ginainto sang ila mga ginapanghambal.

Nagsunod istorya sa atubangan kay college classmate daw sang napatay. “Ante Fe, Angkol Jun, kag Boy, gibayaan na gid taton ni Maymay ya. Indi gid kami makapati pagkabati namon nga wala na gid siya.” Grabe ang wawaw sang baye nga gaistorya. “Sa amon nga barkadahanay siya gid ang isa sa mga gapakadlaw sa amon. Kengkoy siya namon. Siya man ang amon nga maaasahan nga friend sa tanan nga oras. Oo, tanan gid nga oras kay baskin kaagahon na kay ginapasulod gihapon kami niya sa ila balay biskan tulog na sila Ante. Matingala pagkaaga sila Ante nga damo na tawo sa kwarto sang iya bata.” Nagkadlaw siya pati man ang mga nagapamati. “Wala gid kami magdahom nga amo sini ang matabo sa iya. Kay tong mga tatlo ka adlaw bag-o siya napatay grabe gid iya nga pakadlaw sa amon. Grabe gid siya ka-caring sato nga adlaw. Naakig pa gani siya sa akon kay hambal ko sa iya nga depressed ko subong. Gisumbag niya bala ko sa akon bukton paghambal ko sato, ti nakibot tamon kay siya tana ang nag-walk out. Pero nagbalik man siya dayon sato nga time kag nangayo sa akon pasaylo kag iya ako gikup-an-kup-an. Perti abi sa iya ka sweet nga baye. Maayo gid ang pagpadako sang iya mga ginikanan sa iya. Dedicated gid siya sa iya nga pagskwela, kag may ara gid tana siya sang handum sa iya nga kinabuhi ya. Sa amon nga magbarkada, daw si Maymay lang gid ya may kongkreto nga handom sa kabuhi mo. Goal-oriented gid tana siya nga baye ya. Wala lang gid kami nagdahom nga sa iya ginapagawas nga kasadya, kapait gali ang ara sa iya nga sulod sulod. Abi namon okay lang siya. Abi namon wala siya problema. Pero wala lang gali namon napansin kay daw wala gid namon siya nakilala. Ginatago niya lang gali iya mga frustration kag problema. Indi namon bal-an kung ano gid hinungdan, pero kami nga iya mga barkada may ara gid kapakyasan sa iya.” Nagwawaw siya kag daw indi na kahambal. Pati man ang iya nga mga barkada kag pamilya. “May, kung diin ka man subong, tani mapasaylo mo kami kay wala ka gid namon nabuligan. Kag tani natagamtaman mo na ang kasadya nga wala sing kataposan.” Pagtapos niya sini ka hambal, nagparalapit sa iya ang iban niya nga barkada kag ila siya gikup-an pati man ang lungon ni Maymay.

Matapos sa iya, nagbulos sa atubangan si Boy, ang manghod ni Maymay. “Manang! Manang! Manang! Gibiyaan mo na gid kami.” Iya ini ginaliwat-liwat ka hambal sa atubangan. Daw ginasaulo niya ini. “Tupad gid kami matulog ni Manang biskan may kwarto siya. Sa kwarto ko gid na siya matulog. Kis-a ginasipa ko na siya sa akon kama kay tungod maugot ko sa iya kay perti kasabad. Sige siya ka istorya bag-o matulog sang mga nagakaratabo sa ila nga skwelahan sina nga adlaw, pero ginatulugan ko lang na siya pirmi. Pagkaaga, aga pa na siya magbugtaw kag ako iya sabadon duman. Biskan wala ko klase o biskan ala-una pa akon klase, pukawon niya gid ko sina sang alas-syete, amo na nga pirmi kami gainaway nga duwa. Pero pagkadugay-dugay migohanay duman kami a kay ya baba ni mama nagabratatat na.” Nakakadlaw ang mga tawo sa iya gihambal. “Pero tong isa ka gab-i, wala siya nagtulog sa akon kwarto. Natingala ko kay alas-diyes na sang gab-i, wala pa siya nagtupad sa akon, ti gikadtoan ko siya sa iya nga kwarto. Naabtan ko si Manang nga gaatubang sa iya nga laptop, busy kaayo. Gipamangkot ko pa siya kung diin siya matulog kay i-lock ko na ang akon kwarto. Ang sabat niya lang sa akon kay, “I-lock lang a. Diri lang ko matulog.” Ti sadya sadya man ko e kay masolo ko na man gid akon nga kama, sa wakas! Nag-untat siya istorya kag nag-atubang sa lungon. “Diyaon ka gid, Manang, ya! Hambal mo upod ta pirmi kag! Ti ngaa gibayaan mo na kami subong? Hambal mo matugtog pa gani ta sa simbahan pay. Ako magitara kag ikaw di ba ang makanta? Di ba nahadlok ka man mapilas? Ti ngaa gipilasan mo imo kamot? Manaaaaang!”

Nakahibi man ako sa iya gihambal. “Manang, kung diin ka man subong, tani nakit-an mo na ang tanan nga imo gipangsulat sa notepad mo. Nga tani makita mo dira ang katawhay kag ang kasadya nga wala sang kataposan. Ikaw na ang amon nga anghel subong, Manang. Bantayi kami pirmi kag padamgo ka pirmi ha? Palangga ta gid ka, Manang. Pirti ta gid ka kapalangga.”

Nagpalapit ako sa atubangan. Gusto ko siya gakson, pero nakuha sang tarpaulin ang akon atensiyon.

In loving memory of Angel Mae Pagayon

September 8, 1998 – May 2, 2018

Gilingling ko ang lungon. Nagwawaw ko. Nabatyagan ko nga may nagpalapit man sa akon puwesto. Gibalikid ko kung sin-o. Si Mama. “May, tani masadya ka na dira kung diin ka man subong. Palangga ka gid namon.”

Akon siya gikup-an, pero indi ko siya makaptan. Nagwawaw ako. “Ma, indi ako masadya. Abi ko lang gali.”

Pagkatapos nadula siya, parehas sa mga subay nga nadula gulpi sa iya mga panan-aw.

Editor and Contributors

EDITOR

Jude Ortega is the author of the short story collection Seekers of Spirits (University of the Philippines Press, 2018) and has been a fellow for fiction at two regional and four national 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 is from Senator Ninoy Aquino, Sultan Kudarat.

CONTRIBUTORS

Jade Mark B. Capiñanes earned his bachelor’s degree in English at Mindanao State University in General Santos City. He has been a fellow for essay at the 2016 Davao Writers Workshop and the 2017 University of Santo Tomas National Writers Workshop. His “A Portrait of a Young Man as a Banak” won third prize at the Essay Category of the 2017 Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature.

Gerald Galindez teaches 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. His poetry zine I, Alone was featured in the 2017 SOX Zine Fest.

Kwesi M. Junsan is a licensed veterinarian from Koronadal City, South Cotabato. Aside from writing, reading, and regular musings, he is taking MA Media Studies (Film) at the University of the Philippines Diliman and Sertipiko sa Panitikan at Malikhaing Pagsulat sa Filipino at Polytechnic University of the Philippines.

Mariz J. Leona is an AB English student at Mindanao State University in General Santos City. Her essay “First Aid” is the winner of the 2017 Sultan Kudarat Essay Contest. She is from Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat.

Mubarak M. Tahir was born in the village of Kitango in Datu Piang, Maguindanao. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Filipino Language (cum laude) at Mindanao State University in Marawi City. He lived in General Santos City when he taught in the campus there of his alma mater. His essay “Aden Bon Besen Uyag-uyag” won the third prize for Sanaysay at the 2017 Palanca Awards. Currently, he is teaching at the Davao campus of Philippine Science High School.

Black and White

By Mariz Leona
Fiction

“Cheers to our success!” I said as I raised my wine glass. Indeed, it was a fantastic night for all of us. The exhibit I spearheaded was surprisingly a big hit for beginners like us.

“Your paintings were really a work of art, Francis, literally and figuratively speaking,” Dina, one of my dearest friends, said. The tinkling of glasses made her voice sound romantic, or maybe it was just my personal judgment.

“What do you mean by ‘literally and figuratively,’ Dina?” I asked back, of course. I couldn’t just leave her hanging. I couldn’t just leave myself hanging.

Bebot laughed at my sing-song voice, mocking me perhaps.

“Literally because it was literally arts,” Dina said. “Oh come on, Francis! Do I really need to elaborate it to you?” She laughed.

Oh, good lord! I thought. Blessed I am for hearing such a wondrous sound—sweet and appealing.

“Cut it out, Francis!” Bebot’s teasing voice roared in the room. “Seriously, you’re like puking rainbows and hearts!”

Oh, for whoever’s sake! Do I really look like some asshat lovesick puppy?

“No! But you look like a chapped drooling old maggot,” Bebot whispered, but I heard it clearly because the idiot whispered it right in my face. Did I just say it aloud?

“And that too,” he chirped while filling his empty glass.

I gave the dumbass my fiercest killer look. It just faded when I heard again Dina’s melodic laughter. I turned my gaze to her, mesmerized by her angelic face. We locked gazes. I suddenly found myself holding her waist while dancing in a song I could barely understand but to the melody of which I swayed. My room, which had been messy earlier, had turned into a grand hall with glitter balls above us. I wondered where Bebot was.

Sweet atmosphere covered the room. I tasted cotton candies and chocolates, but Dina was the sweetest. We danced closely until our feet hurt. With a heavy heart, I let her sit and gave her a bottle of water. It was a mystery, though, where I had gotten it. It was magical. My feelings too.

I woke up in my bed without a memory of how our night had ended. Did it really happen, or was it because I drank too much? And one more thing: how did I end up here in my bed? Where are my friends and Dina? I was flooded with my own questions. Tired of them, I got up my bed and took a shower.

I entered the kitchen and smelled adobo. Oh, my favorite dish.

“Good morning, Pa!” a little kid chirped while spreading her arms as if asking for a hug.

I hugged and kissed her good-morning as I felt I was expected to do it.

“Look! Mama cooked my favorite adobo because I got stars yesterday!” The little girl sounded really happy.

“Honey, you told her yesterday you would take her to the mall as a reward.” A woman with a sweet voice entered the kitchen. She had a sweet face too with a bright smile. Maybe I looked flustered because her face contorted. “Have you forgotten?”

I stumbled to find words. “Of course I haven’t! Let’s eat now and prepare to go to the mall.” I gulped the coffee in front of me. Words just came out of my mouth as if it was meant to be said.

I held the hand of the little kid as we strutted inside the mall. “Papa, I said yesterday that I wanted you to buy me a paintbrush,” she said and led me to a bookstore. She let go of my hand and found her way to her paintbrush. I stood still, confused about everything, until someone tapped my shoulder. “Hey, Francis! I am asking you if you want this.”

My eyes went frigidly wide because Dina was in front of me holding a paintbrush. “What?” She sounded irritated.

“Of course I want it. Thank you!” I smiled at her, but my hands were shaking. My body, my soul, was shaking. “Have you seen a child?” I asked.

“What child?” she asked back, confused.

“The child I was holding a while ago. She said I am her papa.”

Dina stared at me with mocking eyes. “Don’t start with me, Francis! Please leave your story madness at your house, you geeky artist!” She laughed as she linked her arms around me, and then she pulled me to the queue of customers.

I found myself lying in my bed while a kid was jumping beside me. She noticed that I was finally awake. “Good morning, Papa! It’s Sunday today!” She kissed me and led me to the bathroom. Does she want me to take a shower? “Faster, Papa! We will be late,” she shouted outside the door. I did what I should do.

I was formally dressed, the kid too and the lady who was smiling at me. I smiled back, and she held my hand tightly. They were listening to a homily that I couldn’t understand. Someone grabbed my hands and kissed me on the cheeks. I was flustered. It was Dina. Dina again. What is really happening? Have I gone crazy?

“Thank you, honey! I really like your painting,” she said. Happiness was evident on her face. “I also have a gift for you.”

I returned her smile. I was confused, but her smiles told me that it was okay, that everything was normal. “Where is it?” I asked.

“It’s not where, it’s what,” she answered.

“What?” I asked.

“I am pregnant!” Her face was blushing, and she was smiling widely.

“Wh-whaaat? Who’s the father?” I asked, disappointed. I couldn’t smile back. I just couldn’t.

“Of course it’s you, my husband. You silly!” She laughed so hard as she hugged me tightly.

It doesn’t make sense! Everything doesn’t make sense! But contrary to what I was thinking, my body responded happily. I hugged her back. I felt my eyes swelling and then my tears flowing. I was happy—no, beyond happy.

*

She watched him stomping on his brushes and paintings. She didn’t notice that she was already tearing up with just a view of him. He was now miserable. Her loving artist was now miserable. Was her love for him not enough? Was their love for him not enough? She closed the door silently and went to the kitchen.

She saw her angel eating her favorite adobo happily. Her bright and innocent baby. “Mama! Eat! Eat! Eat!” she chanted while raising her spoon.

She went to her and caressed her hair as she continued eating heartily. She watched her eating. A smile crept out of her lips as she realized that it had been ten years since she came out of her womb. She carried her for nine months with Francis by her side. He cheered her always, provided for their needs, and filled their house with his love, not to mention pampering her whenever she had tantrums. How cruel life was for destroying their happiness—his happiness.

She heard a loud bang coming from his room. She ran immediately with a thudding heart. She opened the door and saw that he had stumbled, his face on the floor. “Francis!” she yelped and helped him to the bed.

“Have you seen Dina? I need to give her my painting,” he mumbled.

She looked at him right through his eyes, without blinking. She kissed him on the lips. “I love you,” she whispered. He closed his eyes, and a smile formed on his lips. She tucked him into bed and got out of the room.

“Did he do it again?”

She looked at Bebot who was standing outside the room, holding a bouquet of her favorite flowers—red roses and lilies. She just nodded and tiredly smiled.

“Leave him,” he said seriously, which made her disgusted and furious. “He lost his life!” she shouted at him.

“He just lost his arms,” he said. “He is overreacting.”

“He is a painter,” she said. “A famous one, Bebot.”

“I love you.”

“You’re unbelievable. You’re his best friend!” She is mad, so mad at him. She looked him straight in the eyes. “I love him,” she said with conviction and left him there.

“But he is now a good-for-nothing crazy asshat. A psycho. He can’t even remember you, Dina!” Bebot’s frustrated and angry voice filled the house.

She heard it clearly, and she knew it. She knew it all. “I love him still,” she murmured to herself as tears fell down her face.

Editors and Contributors

GUEST EDITOR

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.

REGULAR EDITOR

Jude Ortega is a short story writer from Senator Ninoy Aquino, Sultan Kudarat Province. He has been a fellow in two regional and four national writers workshops. In 2015, he received honorable mention at the inaugural F. Sionil José Young Writers Awards. His short story collection Seekers of Spirits is forthcoming from the University of the Philippines Press.

CONTRIBUTORS

Mikhael M. Labrador is from Koronadal City, South Cotabato, and has been residing in Cebu for the past eleven years, working primarily in the business process outsourcing industry. He is an avid travel hobbyist and a former editor of Omniana, the official student publication of Notre Dame of Marbel University.

Noel Pingoy is a graduate of Notre Dame of Marbel University and of Davao Medical School Foundation. He finished residency in internal medicine and fellowships in hematology and in medical oncology at the University of the Philippines–Philippine General Hospital. He divides his time between General Santos City and Koronadal City.

Mubarak M. Tahir was born in the village of Kitango in Datu Piang, Maguindanao. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Filipino Language (cum laude) at Mindanao State University in Marawi City. He lived in General Santos City when he taught in the campus there of his alma mater. His essay “Aden Bon Besen Uyag-uyag” won the third prize for Sanaysay at the 2017 Palanca Awards. Currently, he is teaching at the Davao campus of Philippine Science High School.

Lance Isidore G. Catedral is completing his residency training in Internal Medicine at the University of the Philippines–Philippine General Hospital. He also has a degree in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology from UP Diliman. He was born and raised in Koronadal City. Since 2004, he has been blogging at bottledbrain.com. His interests include Christianity, literature, and medicine.

Saquina Karla C. Guiam has been published in the Rising Phoenix ReviewScrittura MagazineSuffragette CityDulcet QuarterlyThe Fem Lit Mag, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and others. She graduated from Mindanao State University in General Santos City with a bachelor’s degree in English and is currently studying for her master’s degree in Ateneo de Davao University. She is the Roots nonfiction editor at Rambutan Literary, an online journal showcasing literature and art from Southeast Asians all over the world, and the social media manager of Umbel & Panicle, a new literary journal inspired by plants and all things botanical.

Benj Marlowe Cordero from General Santos City is currently working in Dubai as a Sales Coordinator and has yet to graduate from Holy Trinity College of GSC. He spends his days off playing Overwatch, constructing a fictional language for his novel, and completing his poetry collection, under the rose. He likes shawarma, singing in the shower, and Rick Riordan.

Marc Jeff Lañada hails from General Santos City and currently resides in Davao for his undergraduate studies in the University of the Philippines–Mindanao. He was a fellow during the Davao Writers Workshop 2017, and some of his works were published in the Dagmay literary journal. His poems talk about landscapes, especially the overlooked or underappreciated places in General Santos and Davao.

Claire Monreal is a student at Central Mindanao Colleges in Kidapawan City, Cotabato Province. Her poem “Survived a Bullet” is a finalist in the 2017 Cotabato Province Poetry Contest.

Joan Victoria Cañete is a registered medical technologist from Kidapawan City, Cotabato Province. “Superficial Swim,” her poem for this issue, is a finalist in the 2017 Cotabato Province Poetry Contest.

Patrick Jayson L. Ralla is a graduate of Mindanao State University–General Santos City with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. He is currently working as a private school teacher in Polomolok, South Cotabato, and is taking up a Master of Arts degree in Literature at the University of Southeastern Philippines, Davao City.

Paul Randy P. Gumanao hails from Kidapawan City, and teaches Chemistry at Philippine Science High School–SOCCSKSARGEN Region Campus. He was a fellow for poetry at the 2009 Davao Writers Workshop, and 2010 IYAS National Creative Writing Workshop. He is a former editor in chief of Atenews, the official student publication of Ateneo de Davao University, and is currently finishing his MS in Chemistry from the same university.

Mariz Leona is an AB English student at Mindanao State University in General Santos City. She is from Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat.

Boon Kristoffer Lauw, a chemical engineer–turned–entrepreneur from General Santos City, is currently based in Quezon City. During his practice of profession at a beer-manufacturing plant last 2013, he began to pass graveyard shifts with random musings that eventually took form in writing—and, inevitably, stories.

Erwin Cabucos, born and raised in Kabacan, Cotabato Province, is a teacher of English and religious education at Trinity College in Queensland, Australia. He received High Commendation literary awards from Roly Sussex Short Story Prize and Queensland Independent Education Union Literary Competition in 2016. His short stories have been published in Australia, Philippines, Singapore, and USA, including Verandah, FourW, Philippines Graphic, and Quarterly Literary Review Singapore. He completed his master in English education from the University of New England.

First Aid

By Mariz Leona
Essay

I woke up early. “Wow, himala!” one of my friends said. “Aga pa nagbugtaw ang iban dira.” My friends knew how late I usually woke up. I didn’t say a word and headed to the shore. As I watched the sun rose to its glorious throne, I could still hear the laughter of my friends, but my whole being was soon absorbed in the magnificent view in front of me, blended with the sea breeze and the sounds of calming waves. What a wonderful way to start a day, I thought. The past few days, I’d been broke—financially, mentally, and spiritually. That’s why I decided to spend a night with my friends in a beach in General Santos City, just twenty-five pesos away from our boarding house. I inhaled deeply, calming myself. After about ten seconds, I exhaled. I exhaled all my frustrations and despairs.

I looked at my toenails, and I felt like crying again because I had broken one of them the night before. The nail was separated from the flesh. We had been happily playing in the water when I stubbed my foot on a rock. At first I didn’t feel anything, but when we decided to return to our rented cottage, there I immediately felt something weird. When I looked at my feet, I burst out crying. One of my toenails was bleeding. My friends gathered around me, and when they found out why I was crying, they all laughed. I was dismayed by their reactions. My toe seriously hurt. They helped me nevertheless. They asked me to sit down and gave me a nail cutter to remove the nail, but I couldn’t do it myself. I was scared. So one of them did the job while I was whimpering like a pig being killed, and I cried aloud when someone poured alcohol on my toe. I thanked God for giving me friends who knew what to do in that kind of situation, even if they laughed at me.

“Mars, puli na ta,” one of my friends shouted at me. I blew a heavy sigh and said, “So this is the end of happy hour. Back to reality na naman.

“Asa mo, ga?” asked a tricycle driver outside the resort. “Uhaw mi, ’ya,” we answered, referring to the village where our boarding houses were located. My friends negotiated the fare with the driver. I didn’t join the discussion. I sat on the front seat of the tricycle. I liked it there. Every one of us liked it there because it was the most comfortable seat. That’s why I went in first and secured the spot for myself. When my friends and the driver had agreed on the fare, we started the journey.

Yes, it was a journey for me. Somehow I regretted sitting at the front because of the cold wind, but I was consoled by the nice view of the road. Watching the road was relaxing, until we came upon a vehicular accident. “Sus, kaaga pa disgrasya na,” the driver said as he slowed down. My friends made comments on the scene before us. I couldn’t understand them clearly because my heart was beating so hard. I didn’t like that kind of situation, especially in front of my eyes. The bus, probably owned by a private company, was in the inner lane of its opposite direction; the accident must have been its fault. The motorcycle that collided with it was outside the cemented part of the road.

I saw the conductor rush out of the bus, followed by a lady, maybe to check what had happened. The tricycle we were riding stopped beside the driver of the motorcycle. He was prone on the ground. We got out of the tricycle immediately. “Kuya, dal-on ta sa ospital,” I told our driver. He seemed oblivious of what I said, so I said it again to my friends. “Gasyung,” one of them answered me. “Indi na pwede tandugon sa amo na nga posisyon.”

I looked at the driver of the motorcycle, which I immediately regretted. He was catching his breath. He inhaled, and it took about thirty seconds before he exhaled. “Oh, Jesus!” was the only thing I said.

I stepped away from the scene as more people gathered around. They were from their vehicles too and happened to see the commotion. There were no houses in the area. I silently prayed for the safety of the injured man. I was trembling. I felt like crying. “Tabangi ninyo!” a woman shouted. “Nagtawag na kog ambulance,” answered the woman who had come out of the bus earlier. I could tell from her clothes that she was working for a canning company nearby, so I was confused why she couldn’t give the man first aid. I had read that companies required their employees to be trained in first aid. It occurred to me that maybe the training wasn’t required in her company, but I thought her co-workers and she needed the training more than most employees because they were working in a high-risk environment.

Nobody was touching the body. No one was knowledgeable of first aid.

“Sakay na mo, ga,” I heard our driver say. With a heavy heart, I rode the tricycle again. “Pag di pa mag-abot ang ambulance in twenty minutes, mapatay to ba,” one of my friends said. “Ginalagas na gud niya iyang ginhawa.” The driver joined the conversation: “Dili man gud to pwede isakay sa tricycle kay nakahapa. Basi ako pay makasala ato.” One of my friends at the back said, “If ako maging presidente, himuon ko jud batas na dapat tanang tao sa Pilipinas kabalo og first aid.” I thought so too.

I remembered that I had once attended a first-aid seminar organized by Philippine Red Cross. I was still in high school then. Many of the participants were not interested, including me. The only lesson that I could remember was that you had to put pressure on the wound if there was a lot of bleeding. The driver of the motorcycle was bleeding on the head earlier, and I knew I should have put pressure on his wound. But I didn’t do it. I didn’t do it because I forgot.

The driver of the tricycle drove slower. He must have been shaken by the accident too. “Wala pa lagi may nag-agi na ambulance?” I asked my friends. They were talking about other things, and nobody seemed to hear me. I watched every vehicle on the other side of the road, hoping to see an ambulance. We reached the part where the tricycle had to leave the national highway to proceed to Ohaw. “Wala pa jud ambulance na nag-agi ba,” I commented again. “Basi city pa to gikan,” one of my friends answered me. “Wala ba diay ambulance ang mga barangay na lapit diri?” I asked. “Wala siguro e,” was the answer.

That night in my boarding house, I remembered when I accidently poured boiling water on my legs at home. I shouted for help, and my mother came to the rescue. But she didn’t know what to do, so she shouted for help to no one in particular. Some of our neighbors came, and each of them had an idea what should be done. “May petroleum jelly kamo?” “Butangi sang langgaw!” “Kamatis. Effective ang kamatis.” Though I was hurt and crying, I couldn’t help but note that some of the suggestions were ridiculous. Were they planning to cook adobo or paksiw? Who in her right mind would put vinegar on her burnt flesh? If everyone around had known how to give first aid, the suggestions would have been the same and logical.

Lying in bed, I kept on thinking about the bleeding man on the road. I was still disturbed that I had not seen an ambulance or even just heard a siren. Maybe no rescue arrived. “Pag ako naging presidente, tanang tao dapat hawod sa first aid,” I found myself blurting out.

Editors and Contributors

GUEST EDITOR

Andrea D. Lim is from General Santos City, and she is 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, Cebu City. She was a fellow for poetry in the 24th Iligan National Writers Workshop (2017). She is also the former editor-in-chief of the Weekly Sillimanian, the official student publication of Silliman University, Dumaguete City.

REGULAR EDITOR

Jude Ortega is a fictionist from Senator Ninoy Aquino, Sultan Kudarat Province. He has been a fellow in four national writers workshop, and his stories have received honorable mention in the F. Sionil José Young Writers Awards and the Nick Joaquin Literary Awards.

CONTRIBUTORS

Rossel M. Audencial is an AB English graduate of Mindanao State University in General Santos City. She now teaches in the university and serves as the adviser of Bagwis, the student publication. She finished a master’s degree from Notre Dame of Marbel University in Koronadal City, South Cotabato.

Hope Daryl Talib is a fourth year BSED English student at Mindanao State University. She loves to write poetry and fiction in the languages she knows, and her dream is to inspire her future students to write. She is from Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat.

Jerome Cenina was born in Brgy. Spring, Alabel, Sarangani Province. He is currently studying at Notre Dame of Dadiangas University as a Humanities and Social Sciences Grade 12 student. He has always dreamed of becoming a lawyer and writer.

Marie-Luise Coroza Calvero is a composer from General Santos. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Film Music at the Institut für Neue Musik (Institute of New Music) of the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik (State Conservatory of Music) in Freiburg, Germany under composer and film music expert Cornelius Schwehr. In her spare time, she reads books, writes poetry and short stories, does freelance work as a music arranger, and teaches piano and music theory to children.

Joana Galila is a student of Bachelor of Secondary Education at Mindanao State University-General Santos. She lives in the municipality of Tampakan in South Cotabato.

Merhana Macabangin is a writer, illustrator, and Education student from Polomolok, South Cotabato. Her works are usually about Muslims and the Maguindanaon.

Mariz Leona is an AB English student at Mindanao State University in General Santos City. She is from Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat. “First Aid,” her essay in this issue, is the winner of the 2017 Sultan Kudarat Essay Contest, organized by local writers.

Ira Shayne Salvaleon is a senior high school student (Accountancy, Business, and Management track) at University of Southern Mindanao, Kabacan, Cotabato Province. “Twenty-Two-Hectare Treasure,” her essay in this issue, is a finalist in the 1st Cotabato Province Essay Contest (2017), organized by local writers.

Jhessa F. Gales is a fourth year BSED English student at Mindanao State University-General Santos City. She is from Polomolok, South Cotabato.