Finally, after the longest lockdown, pale feet stir, long to wander with an extra spring to each step
and the planes begin interrupting the skies again from their unchallenged immensity.
Here in my garden, flea beetles and aphids overrun the hibiscuses, buds shriveling
like the twists of parted clouds above. We are told of ways to get through these
minor inconveniences but the pests keep coming back. Another surge,
another shade of blue shed from the skies. Are they really minor though when
the birds are missing at this hour and each of our movement could be
the start of another long pause in our lives? Where does this shroud of gray come from?
Why does the whole open space still feels like a window we peer through from
the inside? Am I both witness and accomplice to these changes?
I wish someone could just convince me of a life hungry for more, make me want it
the way that split-second pushed Adam to take the fruit from Eve: ungardened
but bold, intrigued, perfectly human. If there is a secret to this, even if it means
having to wring it out of both gods and saints, then tell me. Give me anything
that would take me out of this garden.
Boar, Proposed Addendum to Definition of
: a storm with boundless intensity
: an aging comedian whose jokes have been retold again and again
: the weight of an idea (such as its preciousness, purpose, precarity)
: soaked back of a shirt, usually with perspiration after a long day of manual labor
: to laugh even in the absence of humor
: to clear everything in one’s path or direction, with or without intention
|| the car lost its brakes and boared through the market stalls
: having or showing an abrupt but patterned action, or an expected response
: of that which will stay, not leave immediately or be pushed around
F. Jordan Carnice is a writer and visual artist from Bohol. He graduated with a degree in Creative Writing from Silliman University in Dumaguete City in 2009, and was a fellow at the Silliman University National Writers Workshop in 2008. His works have appeared in Ani, Philippines Graphic, MIDLVLMAG, Anomaly, Sunday Mornings at the River, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Voice & Verse Poetry Magazine, among several others. He has won the poetry grand prize in the 2020 Cebu Climate Emergency Literature and Arts Competition for his poem “There is Too Much Light in this World.” He has authored two poetry chapbooks, Weights & Cushions  and How to Make an Accident .
I. Wala sang habak, sang panabîtábì, sang pangadi nga makasarang magsagang sa tuyaw sang unod sa siyudad nga tuman kapaang apang mayami kon hapulason. Ang lawas angingipot nga ginasuláy sang patay-siga nga bombilya, maya-pula sa luyo sang masinulugton nga paon. Tuman kalaba nga siod ang mga dalanon nga ginkatad sa wayang nga sementado.
II. Mariit ang mga yuhum sa sírum – ang mga pasiplat, ang mga pangilay, ang mga kalimutaw nga nagalanat. Bagat ang mga panitsit sa dulom. Makapatindog balahibo ang mga panihol, ang mga hutik, ang mga kuhit. Mahimo makasalapay bisan sa pinakahapaw nga pagdapat sang panit sa panit, sang bulbul sa bulbul. Mahubag, mabanog ang kinatawo bisan nga ang ihi wala magsumpit sa bungsod nga madugay na ginlukat ukon sa lunok nga sadto pa ginpapas agud ang sadsaran sang siyudad mapasad.
III. Masugod sa langaang tubtub mangin tuman ka taas nga hilanat. Ang alibyo yara nahamtang sa paghigda-kaya, pagpatumbaya. Pagbaton. Kag kadungan sang pag-agay sang tuman ka pilit nga bahulay, bayaan sang dungán ang nagaaliwasa nga lawas. Magabawod, magaliad, antes magkanay angay sa balud nga ginalabugay sang indi makita nga kamot sang ugsad.
IV. Sa mation-tion maumpawan ang tuyaw sang unod bangud sa hampol indi sang buyo kag kasla, sa hapulas indi sang lana, sa tayhup indi sang luy-a.
V. Sa mation-tion maumpawan ang tuyaw sang unod. Ang kauhaw mapalong kadungan sang pagpuswak, pagtubod. Kag samtang nagaamat-amat sákò ang panirbato sang mga salakyan luwason sang silaw sang sanaaw sa gátud sang patay-siga nga bombilya ang angingipot súbung nga ang maya makabúhì sa siod sa paglimunaw sang mga paon.
VI. Ang tuyaw magasohot balik sa lipod sang mga nagaalalsa nga landong. Magahulat sa liwat nga pagsamo sang katugnaw kag kadulum agud magbutwa kag maghólon sa lawas nga tuman ka gabok.
Ang Pispis sa Siyudad
Nagahapon sa sanga nga nagapamunga sang pula kag nagaigpat-igpat nga bombilya.
Nagalanton sa lipod sang mga landong sang kagab-ihon kay makabulungol ang dalanon kon aga.
Nagapamugad sa nagkalain-lain nga haligi kag atop apang wala nagabilin sang itlog.
Ang pispis sa siyudad ang nagapalapit sa siod kag ang pinakaulihi abot amo ang makatuka sang pinakadamo nga ulod.
Inday, ngaa sa iya pagwa sa inyo ganhaan kag pag-usoy sang banas padulong sa dalan, nagtulo man ang dugo gikan sa mata nga nagmuklat sa imo aliwatan?
Saksi kami sa imo walay paslaw nga paghalad sang luha kag bahulay sa ginaanay nga altar sang inyo gugma nga iya lamang ginasabat sang mga pagpamalibad kag kul-aw nga panaad
Sang ikaw nagtiyabaw, Wala ka gane niya ginbalikdan. Nagakaangay pa gid ayhan nga ang iya pagpangayaw sa butkon kag hita sang iban, imo dagâan?
Jhio Jan Navarro hails from Bags City, Negros Occidental, where he attended the Ramon Torres Ma-ao Sugar Central National High School. He studied Psychology at the University of the Philippines Visayas in Miagao. His poems have been published in Bulatlat, Revolt Magazine, Voice and Verse Magazine, and the Philippines Graphic.
I seek the plume that stoked the holes of those tiny moments lost among the smoke
I keep hearing that voice caught in the noise of the edges of the city where the crow buried its beak where silence is mud
the night is a circle that I must always enter
Simon Anton Niño Diego Baena hails from Bais City, Negros Oriental, and is the author of two chapbooks, The Magnum Opus Persists in the Evening [Jacar Press] and The Lingering Wound (2River). He was a semi-finalist for the Tomaz Salamun Prize at VERSE in 2021. His work is forthcoming in The Columbia Review, South Dakota Review, Hawaii Pacific Review, Apalachee Review, Louisiana Literature, and elsewhere.
If only the world was a crystal ball, and I was given magic to dive deep into the darkest depths and never drown in the visions of what could be, I could have been a surer man — not by confidence, but through assurance that in the things I’d do I would be stronger, better, happier. But I can barely swim, and I can’t hold my breath any longer than it takes for the carbon dioxide to cloud my brain to near death. At the edge of life, there’d be no magic to save me from the hallucinations my mind creates. Or are they dreams? Are they mine? Are they truths that I am yet to realize? On the water’s edge, on top of rock and sand and concrete, above the sparkle of the reflected holiday lights, I ask the sea: “Who should I be? What should I do?” And I wait there wishing that the breeze would whisper, that the lights on the surface would spell it out. Despite my questions, despite my pleas, the sea below me was still as dark as the nighttime sky, and its surface, smooth like a mirror, reflected nothing else: only me.
Junelie Anthony Velonta was born in Dumaguete City. He graduated from Philippine Science High School—Central Visayas Campus in 2015 and is now pursuing a Physics degree at Silliman University.
‘Your mission if I may venture to say is to illuminate people,’ I said. ‘What do you mean,’ eyes wide, ‘eliminate people?’ ‘No, enlighten, illuminate people.’ ‘Ah!’ Smile quickly returned as if his whole heart lit up (word play intended the grass roots movement he had invented he named Lamplighters). ‘Do you have a wife, Father Tropa?’ I’d meant to ask. I knew he was celibate but rhetorical questions I felt won’t hurt the interview. Still I thought better of it. On a wall the woman in a strange painting remained as if under a moon that had long waned.
I dreamt the sun no longer rose and set It zigzagged Spiraled Yo-yoed
Played possum When God stirred At midday At the brightness
It played tag with a luna moth And suddenly The colors came No flame
It gazed at pink sky and white moon And morning star As if gazing at itself As if in the night it had seen us
It went sideways below the horizon Creating an endless sunrise and sunset A sun that played hide-and-seek Peekaboo with shadows
It played hooky Drifted away and wandered As if in search of its origin Farther and farther till it twinkled
And I heard your shout Full circle across a world That had gone into hiding That had fled within
I heard the river The grass I heard green Picasso’s
Three Musicians The spheres The mermaids The hand
But the star was coming home In a dawn in which Sun moves towards us Not round
How can the sun do this? Wake as I might The miracle held out. I heard the cock crow, you awash in sleep, Incredible in the light.
Cesar Ruiz Aquino was born in Zamboanga City, and has a Ph.D. in Literature from Silliman University. He writes both poetry and prose for which he has won virtually all the national awards in the Philippines and one international – the SEA Write Award from the royal family of Thailand in 2004. His books include the short story collection Chronicles of Suspicion, the poetry collections Word Without End, In Samarkand, Caesuras: 155 New Poems, Like a Shadow That Only Fits a Figure of Which It is Not the Shadow, and Fire If It Were Ice, Ice If It Were Fire, and the personal anthology Checkmeta: The Cesar Ruiz Aquino Reader. He lives in Dumaguete City.
Okay, if you’re so, so funny—
why not make a stunt about leaving your office
this instant and never take it back?
You’ll do a great favor to History books and bayarang midya
which won’t even dare to revise.
Headlines will set your name in bold below a photo of you crying for real. To be honest, I am tired of rolling my eyes every time I see your face on the screen, giving bad speeches.
I don’t blame you if you think what I’m saying seems incomprehensible but a vacancy in the seat can be considered
phenomenal at this moment.
For a year or so, you’ve invented gimmicks not even the false hero buried in the Land of Heroes managed to think of. It’s not in the howness of things
if ever you get to be thrown to the nearest dumpster
but the manuscript in which you, and your invisible gun, and your checkered polo
will be devoid of meaning. It’ll be a best-selling book
with everyone buying copies for themselves and their children’s children.
You’ll be known as the man who was nothing less of a living joke, the man who promised breathless Change. I’m waiting
for the punchline to punch you really hard.
Let me punch you really hard.
Hezron Pios received a BA degree in Communication from the University of St. La Salle. His poems have appeared in Glucose, Katitikan, The Spectrum, and Yuwana. He dreams of exploring visual arts and building a pop-up library someday. He lives in Bacolod City.
An easy trick not to forget which key is for the kitchen,
for mother’s old bookshelf, or for the lonely attic—
is to remember the cuts of the key’s body.
The only duplicate looks like ridges of Cuernos de Negros.
Another resembles the edge of the sea with dying eddies.
And the gold one is a weak heartbeat’s running green line
on the ECG monitor.
Somewhere, in an ancestral house,
a locksmith is replacing a jammed lock
of a front door left unrepaired for years.
A new spare key hangs on the doornail,
waiting to be useful.
Lyde Sison Villanueva was born in Dumaguete City, and graduated with a degree in Mass Communication from Silliman University in 2008. He was a fellow for poetry for the 2013 Silliman University National Writers Workshop. He is currently pursuing his MFA in Creative Writing at De La Salle University in Manila. His works have appeared in various publications like The Sunday Times Magazine, Inquirer.net, and The Quarterly Literary Review Singapore. His first poetry chapbook entitled Made Easy was published in 2019.
The gentle rustle of mountain spirits Unspools memory as the lamplight leaps Into a sudden dance: once a child He had watched his father clearing grass Grown wild; he had sought and staked His kinship with the sower’s stance And drove the plough with his bare hands.
Up in the sky he had scanned the slopes Of his father’s mountains: gently winding Down, the river ran from the bubbling spring And split and multiplied across the heaving Fields so richly pied with fruits And ferns and flowers; now scourged by dry Winds whipped by the sun’s thieving eye.
Midnight under the cold white moon And dim, dying stars; he returns and wonders Still at the curious call of dark birds, The plop of frogs on a quiet pond, cicadas Crying about the trees, the swish of scythes At harvest time, and the boy that ran Singing down the winding mountain slopes.
At dawn, through the clearing fog, steel Structures rise close to the sky, dig Deep between the mountain’s horns, suck From its stones its majestic core of power. In time, the trees that will remain Will fall, the springs will die, and all Will genuflect before the powerful spires.
In time they will not remember, but perhaps When they grow old, they will see visions Of Cuernos de Negros in their dreams.
Elsa Victoria Martinez Coscolluela was born in Dumaguete City, where she earned her AB and MA for Creative Writing at Silliman University. (She was also Miss Silliman 1964.) Later, she was Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of St. La Salle, and retired in 2010 after thirty-two years of service. Upon retirement, she was conferred the rank of Professor Emeritus and was designated Special Assistant to the President for Special Projects, a post that she continues to hold. During her term as VPA, she founded the Negros Summer Workshops with film Director Peque Gallaga in 1990, and the IYAS Creative Writing Workshop in 2000, in collaboration with Dr. Cirilo Bautista, Dr. Marjorie Evasco and the Bienvenido N. Santos Creative Writing Center of De La Salle University, Manila. She writes poetry, fiction, drama, and filmscripts in English. She has published a book of poetry, Katipunera and Other Poems. Several of her works have been anthologized. As a writer, she is best known for her full-length play about Dumaguete during World War II, In My Father's House, which has been produced in Dumaguete, and in Japan, Singapore, San Francisco, and New York. She was inducted to the Palanca Hall of Fame in 1999 and is the recipient of several awards from the CCP, Philippines Free Press, and the Philippine Centennial Literary Competition. She continues to work at the University of St. La Salle where she manages several special projects and directs projects for the Eduardo Cojuangco Foundation.
Daw sa tinalikdan lamang nga Kahapon Nga ang mga Panaynon nagpasimpalad Kag sining baybay sila naghalapon Diri sa Buglasan nagtalambipalad.
Kay sangsa panulok nila nian maladlad Kutob sa Madyaas ini ang Kanlaon Sila naghiliuyon nga magahalad Bulak sang ila gugma kay Dlwang Leon!
Sa Mandu sang Diwa sang palhing’ Madyaas Sa tuyo nga sila magpatambipalad Sa Diwata sinang bukid nga mataas Ang panyong palaran ila ginpaladlad.
Nga sa mga balod kag sa Kahanginan Nanungsong dayon sa gahumlad nga dagat Sa kuyos sang habagat kag sang amihan Tubtob sa Buglasan sib ang nagdangat.
Kag nian sa Buglasan ni Datu Mamagtal Kag sadtong maanyag nga diwata Panas Ang Kabukiran ila nga ginpamungkal Kag mga talunan ila ginpanglatas.
Kag sa madasig nga tikang sang inadlaw Napasad ang madamong’ kabanhawanan Ang mga kauswagan nagpanalawdaw Sa baybay, sa bukid kag mga talunan.
Nag-alaging ribok kag mga inaway Nga nagbilin sang bilidhon nga Maragtas Sang maisog to nga mga taliaway Nga sang Kalalat-an sila ang naglagtas.
Sa tigbatas nga mga anak nagikan Dungog ta nga inapinan sa binangon Kag yadtong bansagon nga nagkalapukan Sa aton amo’ng nagbuhi kag nagbangon!
Banwang Toboso, Sipalay, kag Magallon Hinubaan, nga mga bag-ong’ sinalad Kag mga banwa nga anay mga talon Sang kabuhi gindagaan kag hinalad.
Yadtong mga ulang nga sadto nagsugod Sa mga payag nga nipa kag kawayan Nanginsulondan sinang labing mahugod Nga mga anak sa palangabudlay.
Sila ang mga kaliwat nga dungganon Sadtong mga pinasad nga mga banwa: Imol, kasarangan ukon manggaranon Putli kag alangay sa pagpanghimanwa.
Yanang pinanubli nga gahom sa Diwa Salama tanan kita nga ginbugayan Tingog sang tigbatas—tingog man sang banwa Kay sa isip laban man ang Kagamayan!
Ang hambal ni Nanay,—putling’ Hiligaynon Sa Panay nabun-ag, sa Negros nagluntad, Nangin-dinalayday kag mga ambahanon Sadtong sakayanon keg sang manlulontad.
Naglapnag ang putong ni Datu Sumakwel Nanday Paiburong kag Daru Bankaya Sa Negros namukag daw bulak nga clavel Kay ang HILIGAYNON dili gid malaya.
Ang Hiligaynon lumaron sing dayon Sa dughan sang banwa, sa bukid kag baybay Sang tanan nga Nanay nangintulalayon Kag sang mga Tatay nanginbinalaybay.
Namukadkad dayon—Pulong Hiligaynon Sa mga Ambahan kag sa binalaybay Pugad sang kalulo, Sabak nga iluynon Nga ginayauban sang Negros kag Panay!
Panay and Negros
It seems only yesterday When the people of Panay ventured To sail this sea and came To Buglasan seeking union.
When they viewed before them From the heights of Madyaas, Kanlaon, They agreed to offer The flower of their love to the god Laon.
On orders of the god of forbidden Madyaas To seek union With the goddess of tall Kanlaon, They unfurled their lucky handkerchief.
With the waves and the winds, They glided on the open sea, And blown by the south wind and the north wind, They eventually reached Buglasan.
In Buglasan, ruled by Datu Mamagtal And the beautiful goddess Panas, They cleared and cultivated the mountains And penetrated the forests.
And with the swift passage of time, Many towns sprang up, Progress spread everywhere In sea, mountain, and forest.
Discord and war came to pass Which left in their wake the history Of our breve warriors Who faced up to misfortune.
The free men who were their sons bequeathed Honor they had defended with the bolo, And those heroes who fell Gave us the strength to live and rise!
The towns of Toboso, Sipalay, and Magallon, Hinobaan, the latest to be set up, Towns which were once wild forest Were given life-worthy offerings.
Those ancient first settlers In huts of nipa and bamboo, Became models most exemplary To their sons in life’s hardships.
They are of a noble race, The people of these towns: Whether poor, middling, or rich, All equal in their pure patriotism.
The power invested by Cod Was given equally to us all The voice of free men—the voice of the nation The little people were in the majority.
The language of Nanay—noble Hiligaynon Was born in Panay and brought to Negros, It became prose and song Of those early travelers and settlers.
The language of Datu Sumakwel spread, The language of Paiburong and Datu Bankaya, It blossomed in Negros like the clavel flower Because Hiligaynon never will wither.
Hiligaynon instantly became part Of the heart of land, mountain, and sea For all the mothers it became song And for the fathers, poetry.
It blossomed instantly—the language Hiligaynon In songs and poetry, Nest of gentleness, the maternal lap, The language adored by Negros and Panay.
Augurio Maranon Abeto [1903-1977] was a poet and essayist in Hiligaynon during the Golden Age of Hiligaynon Literature, and is widely considered the "King of Hiligaynon Poetry." He was born in the town of Binalbagan in Negros Occidental, and received his law degree from the University of Sto. Tomas, becoming a member of the Philippine Bar in 1933. He was appointed assistant provincial fiscal, a position he held from 1933 to 1938. He was elected Municipal President [the town mayor at that time] of Binalbagan in 1939, and served until 1947. During World War II, he set up a Resistance Force Government in the mountains of Binalbagan, which lasted the whole three years of the Japanese Occupation. In 1949, he was elected congressman of the third district of Negros Occidental, and served one term, during which he co-authord several bills such as the Sugar Crop Sharing Law. He was responsible for the creation of the town of Magallon [which is now Moises Padilla]. He devoted himself to his law practice from 1954 to 1964, and was considered by many to be a formidable defense lawyer. Failing to win a seat in the Constitutional Convention in 1970, he ran for municipal councillor and won in the elections of 1971. He is the composer of the famed Visayan song, "Dalawidaw."
Fog haze, morning chill chart our days: linger under blankets, breakfast at ten, then ascend a weedy trail, lift our faces to the sun, the wind fancying our hair; listen how the mountain sings: bird calls, insects, wind in the trees, billowing the grass, the trickle of a hidden stream, the sudden startle of wings!
Down in the sweltered plains doll houses, offices, streets lost in the toy towns with borders blurred in the clustered trees; bathtub boats streaking a silver sea, curve of shoreline holding back the deep; Siquijor, Sumilon, Cebu breaking up its sparkle and sweep; and at the airfield scarring the land planes descending, taking off— we’re here to escape them all. How distant they all seem!
Late afternoon, the monotone cricket song, cicada wings shivering the air, bats navigating the dusk. Soon the firefly hour, Night’s bright sentinels encamped in the sky. Far below, the town lights blaze, ship lights crawl their slow trails across the blackened sea, drop below the horizon, fade, flicker, sink.
Drawn downward, our thoughts turn home, the lowlands closer than we think.
Myrna Peña-Reyes was born in Cagayan de Oro City, but her family moved to Dumaguete where she was educated at Silliman University from elementary through college, graduating with a BA in English. She went on to earn her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Oregon. While a resident of Eugene, Oregon where she lived with her late husband, the poet William T. Sweet, she was a winner of the Oregon Literary Fellowship grant for poetry in 2002. Presently retired in her hometown of Dumaguete, she continues her volunteer affiliation with Silliman University’s literature and creative writing program. Her poetry collections include The River Singing Stone (1994), Almost Home: Poems (2004), and Memory’s Mercy: New and Selected Poems (2014).