The Ride Home

By Xaña Angel Eve Apolinar 
Nonfiction

My friends and I are in General Santos City and heading to Maitum, our hometown in Sarangani Province. It is already the evening rush hour, and there is only one van left at the terminal.  This is the time of the day when passengers do everything it takes to score a seat, and drivers will do everything that it takes to cater the passengers.  We are those passengers.

The konduktor insists that all five of us will fit in a row that is supposed to be for three persons only.  Eager to go home, we accept the offer half-heartedly. Of course, we do not fit. I sit with my left leg on top of my right leg, trying to squeeze myself, the five of us trying to find a position that we can at least breathe properly. As if trying to make the situation better, the driver says that we will just have to pay P100 instead of the usual P110 fare for students. P10 less. Great.

We’re about to go when my friend Curt complained of hunger, so we buy peanuts and chicheria as pantawid gutom. We’re in the last row of the van, so the ride is bumpy for us. We’re the noisiest passengers, constantly laughing aloud and filling the air with our conversation. Even though I’m already tired, I join in. We reminisce our memories together in junior high school and talk about our future as college students, especially what courses we want to take. In between these moments, I close my eyes and try to sleep, always failing to do so because of the loud voices. And during these conversations, Curt always inserts how hungry he is.

Dili lagi, Curt,” Lester answers when Curt pleads to buy the burgers he has bought as pasalubong.Para ila Mamang lagi ni, ug kay Auntie Lalay.”

Barkada ta, pero unahun dapat ang pamilya,” Lester adds.

I laugh at the two and offer Curt a chocolate bar. This is a normal thing for all of us. Halfway through the two-hour ride, we fall asleep despite our positions, and somehow we do not mind that we have to stay this way—I drowsy, Curt hungry, Jennifer clingy, Chrisalyn sleepy, and Lester saving the burgers for his family, the five of us choosing to create new memories.

These are the moments that I am going to miss for sure. When we arrive in Maitum, we decide to eat dinner at a barbecue place. Jennifer and I go to the bathroom, and sitting on the toilet, I think of our friendship and the ride home that we’ve had.

To quote a Nick Jonas song, “space is just a word made up by someone who’s afraid to get close.” We are never afraid. We will never be. Ever.

Editors and Contributors

CONTRIBUTORS

Xaña Angel Eve M. Apolinar is from Maitum, Sarangani Province. She is a member of the Sarangani Writers League and the Sarangani Youth Debaters Guild. She was the champion of the 1st Munato Youth Festival Spoken Word Poetry Competition and has performed in different municipalities in Sarangani.

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.

Hannah Adtoon Leceña is a high school teacher and spoken word artist from Kiamba, Sarangani Province. She was a fellow at the 2018 Davao Writers Workshop, the 3rd Bathalad–Sugbo Creative Writing Workshop (2019), and the 26th Iligan National Writers Workshop (2019), where her story received a special Jimmy Y. Balacuit Literary Award. She earned her Bachelor of Secondary Education (major in Filipino) degree at Mindanao State University in General Santos City.

PG Murillo is an independent rap artist and battle emcee from General Santos City. He won first place at the rap battle of the 2017 GenSan Summer Youth Fest and was declared champion at the spoken word competition of the 2019 edition.

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 Play) 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.

Monsters

By Xaña Angel Eve M. Apolinar
Poetry

To you,
Please don’t ask me about monsters
And my sadness
They exist together and sometimes are
Just the same.

To you,
Please ask me to stop
Writing sad scribbles, monsters
Trapped inside my soul
Ready to devour those who are willing
To fight
The dragons and rescue the damsel in distress.
My fingers only lingers
On the letters that form these monsters,
Splitting them wide open and making you
Vulnerable in front of vultures.

To you,
Please take my palms and close
The fingers to form a fist and open them again
Until the venom slips off
The tips of my fingernails like a swift river.

To you,
please stay
until my monsters devour you.