By Saquina Karla C. Guiam

The following poems are part of the author’s micro-chapbook Skysea, published by Ghost City Press in 2017.


Moon Eater

A long time ago, Bakunawa took our moon.
Pity us! Return our moon–the crown of our king.

The moon rises seven times on the seventh month.
Mirrored in the water–a flicker of a tailfin gleams,
outshining the daughters of the night sky.

Somewhere, horns bellow songs; the music smudging
the edges of silence, and then the dance of pots and pans
join the strange aria.

Teeth bared against moonlight–pull away, hissing;
body flows from heaven to sea
rippling the surface.

Tailfin is the last to disappear.
The impromptu orchestra soon dissipates.
Rinse, repeat, for the nights to come.



If God wills it,
a wide, slow river
will rise–just shy
the muted day.

You will see gold,
Perhaps, in your reflection
in the water:
painted pewter,



I forgot how it felt like to defy gravity:
if anything, it’s become this flimsy film
of memory, falling apart second after second
at every running jump I take.

But I don’t mind the weight
of a solid grounding;
the view is better down here
with every light bulb in the city
a reminder of who I used to be.


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 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.


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 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 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.

Breakwater Girls

by Saquina Karla C. Guiam

(This piece first appeared in Dagmay, the literary journal of the Davao Writers Guild.)

Little girls, little girls
Dancing by the breakwater
Their faces bloated like balloons
With electric plugs tucked behind their ears
Their eyeballs starting to fall from their sockets
Smiles turn to sneers
Maggots crawl all over their skin
Skin and bones visible through the naked eye
Blood on their clothes never lie
And whenever people pass the breakwater by midnight
Little girls with decayed teeth, torn-out clothes, electric plugs by their side and holes in their chests
Will come out to play with you
And make you wish they were locked in their baggage.


by Saquina Karla C. Guiam (Poetry)

(This poem was first published in The Rising Phoenix Review on 18 May 2016.)

Blue uniform,
badge, baton,
issued firearm,
hat, black and white car.

Right arm raised,
lips shaped the words
to serve and to protect
the people.

Call it duty,
summons to arms,
little glories and
little victories.

Happy April fools!
Put a bullet to someone’s head,
a father and farmer,
his hands cracked
like the fields he toiled.

Put your gun
on his corpse,
tell the cameras and microphones that
he was armed and dangerous.

Witnesses say
the victim only brought
the clothes on his back
and his voice.

Oaths are just promises
disguised as public service,
sweet honey to
unsuspecting civilian ears.

The coming of spring rain
brought metal and blood
and disbelief and rage;

they asked for mercy,
you gave them cruelty.

#BigasHindiBala is Tagalog, and translates to #RiceNotBullets. The hashtag trended recently when farmers were gunned down by local police at Kidapawan, North Cotabato, Philippines.

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