Traditional Food to be sold in Kidapawan this Timpupo!

Traditional Moro and Obo Monuvu Cuisine will be sold to the public as part of Kidapawan City’s 2019 Foundation Anniversary and Kasadya sa Timpupo!

Catch them at their own special booth at the Timpupo Agri Trade, Food, and Fruits exhibit from August 14 to 18, 2019 at Kidapawan’s City Pavillion.

This is the first time both of Kidapawan’s cultural communities will be showcasing their cuisine as part of the town’s August festivities.


The Moros will be selling a combination of Maguindanaon, Meranaw, and Tausug delicacies:

  • Pastil (rice with shredded chicken in banana leaf) with egg,
  • Tinagtag (rice flour with coconut deep fried into sweet crispy noodles)
  • Panyalam (pancake made with rice flour and coconut)
  • Piyaring (chicken cooked with coconut shavings ang turmeric)
  • Dudul (a slightly chewy pudding made with glutinous rice and palm sugar)
  • Kumukunsi (bread made of rice flour deep fried into coils)
  • Daral (crepes of rice flour and coconut milk filled with sweet coconut shavings)
  • Pitis (suman-like snack made with purple glutinous rice filled with sweetened coconut shavings)
  • Pasung (a white pudding made with flour and coconut milk steamed into cones made of banana leaf)
  • Baolo (small, muffin-like snacks)
  • Palitao, Maguindanaon version (most likely Betengan, glutinous rice balls stuffed with muscovado sugar and coated in coconut shavings)
  • Tapay (fermented rice).

The Obo Monuvu on the other hand will be cooking dishes unique to Kidapawan, many of which will be sold to the public for the first time ever:

  •  Linutlut no Kosili (Freshwater eel cooked in bamboo with coconut and native spices, including Koringag or wild cinnamon, Sangig or Lemon basil, and Lahadda or Monuvu scallion)
  • Linutlut no Bakbak (River frogs cooked in bamboo, also with coconut and native spices)
  • Tinadtad no Koyupat (minced freshwater crabs with young coconut meat cooked in Bamboo)
  • Bunguhan no Poyyot (freshwater fish cooked in banana leaf)
  • Tuvod nid Gotan (Taro runners cooked in coconut milk)
  • Oppusow nid Gotan (Oppusow shoots cooked in coconut milk)
  • Ininit (Chicken soup with young corn and native spices)
  • Tinapoy (fermented corn grits)

Dinugdug (puddings of cassava, Banana, and Taro mashed with young coconut meat).
The communities may end up not selling some of them, or they may end up selling more!

Visit Kidapawan this August and get a taste of Mindanao’s rich culinary heritage!


Mati City’s Centennial Park


Mati City, capital of Davao Oriental, has one of the most beautiful City Halls I know.


What makes it particularly charming is the small park beside it, a park which publicly celebrates the town’s history.



The Mati Centennial Park, inaugurated in 2003, celebrates the town’s 100 years since it was founded.


Aside from the clock tower, the park’s most distinguishing feature is the Pathway of Leaders, rows of busts of the town’s former mayors.



The park is dominated by a clock tower gate, flanked on both sides by two of Mati’s purported founders




Captain Prudencio Garcia was, according to online sources, Mati’s founder and ‘politico-military head’ and was made so in 1861. He is said to have founded the town with Juan Nazareno in 1903, though online sources do not elaborate on this.


Juan Nazareno is simply described as ‘a gentleman’ and ‘Captain Prudencio Garcia’s companion.’

Like most towns in Mindanao, Mati’s history remains largely unwritten (I am hesitant to trust online sources). It would be lovely to pick up a book and read the lives of these statues and busts


The marker on the clock tower indicates this was a purely local government effort. The local government of the time should forever be credited for this project.


The park has an old Weeping Fig at its center. The tree with its many roots adds an air of ancientness to the park.


Just across the street from the park is an old round ball. there are also old houses nearby.


The city hall is walking distance from Mati’s famous Baywalk  (now more beautiful since I last saw it), which overlooks the gorgeous Pujada Bay.

Kidapawan should have something like this!

Kidapawan Stories Worth Making Into Film


I was invited to the first Mindanao History & Literatures to Film Summit at
Capitol University in Cagayan de Oro City this May 9 and 10, but budgetary and time constraints prevent me from coming.

The two-day summit is hosted by the Mindanao Creative Writers Group, ably led by Dr Christine Godinez Ortega of Iligan, and Capitol University. The summit’s aim is to bridge the gap between local historians and writers and local filmmakers, allowing the latter to explore Mindanao’s rich but untapped reservoir of narratives in its history and traditional lore.

I was invited to share some great stories from the Greater Kidapawan Area for filmmakers to consider. I couldn’t come and share them personally, but I realized I could still do it by writing something.

Because my work as historian (and my recent hobby reading up on traditional culture on the side) has shown me that the Greater Kidapawan Area is full of stories you would want to see on the screen. From fascinating legends to dramatic historical incidents, the region between Mt Apo and the Pulangi has been the stage of sagas since time immemorial.

Here are just some of them.

  1. The Legend of Tambunawan and Mamalu: This legend is told in many versions by different tribes throughout the Cotabato Region. The versions in Kidapawan are unique.

    In Pre-Islamic times two brothers rule over a tribe. When Islam came from Malaysia, one had to leave with half their people, becoming the progenitors of the Lumad, while the other stayed to convert to Islam, becoming the ancestors of the Moros.

    In Kidapawan’s sole recorded version (that documented by Gabriela Eleosida from the Obo Monuvu in 1961), the brothers are Mamalu and Tambunawan, and they both moved from ‘Kabakan’ to  Kidapawan when muslim religious leaders called Panditas came and enforced Islamic laws. Tambunawan subsequently became ancestor to the datus of the plains of Kidapawan.

    Another version I heard from the elder Monuvu Abad Ladday in 2018 (and which I record here) has Tambunawan staying and converting to Islam while Mamalu leaves, becoming the ancestor of the Monuvu. Before they parted ways, Tambunawan gives Mamalu a piece of paper, a directive which tells Mamalu to stay away henceforth from the realms of the Moros. Mamalu takes it with him, but one day, he puts it down on a tree stump while he urinated. While Mamalu was preoccupied, a bird came down and  swallowed the piece of paper. That bird became the first Limokon, whose cry the Monuvu still consider an omen.

    One of the attending historians during the summit, Dr Rudy Rodil, wrote the most comprehensive compedium of versions of the legend. I am hoping these Kidapawan versions will be added.

    The legend is full of potential, specially because its many versions have historically been used to assert indigenous legitimacy and foster Lumad-Moro ties. Filmmakers would do well to explore the political power of this story/

  2. Molingling: The fascinating legend of incest, which is one of the most famous folk tales passed down among the Obo Monuvu,  has appeared on this blog before. I will only add that the legend is full of psychological complexities – from Molingling’s anti-hero mentality to Kobodboranon’s own sexual awakening.
  3. The Dog Unearthing Springs: I’ve also written here about the fascinating recurring motif of dogs saving a community by discovering sources of waters before. This would make a great short film, specially one geared at promoting more responsible and human treatment of dogs.
  4. The Loyal dog of M’lang: The M’lang local government records a legend concerning a dog owned by a datu. Despite being so small, the dog followed its master across a strong flowing river, and it was swept downstream. Thankfully, it was caught among bamboo stalks and managed to scamper its way to the banks. In gratitude for his dog’s survival, the datu named the river ‘Tamlang’ (Maguindanaon for ‘bamboo’),  which would later mutate to ‘M’lang’ and be the namesake of the town. The Greater Kidapawan Area clearly loves dogs (I love them too, I’ve written about this and the previous legend before)
  5. The Life of Datu Ogwon: One of the most colourful characters in Kidapawan history is Datu Ogwon, son of Apao and founder of the settlements of Sayaban and Sudsuhayan. Ogwon was an Onituwon, meaning he had the strange gift of being able to talk to spirits. But he was also a Tahavawi (a medicine man able to use wild plants to heal) and a blacksmith. One day he suddenly told the people over whom he was datu that the spirits told him to seclude himself, so he left his family and people behind and went deep into the forests to be one with the spirits. He reminds me of Brandon Stark from Game of Thrones after he became the Three Eyed Raven.
  6. Kod-Ahaw: Literally ‘to seize,’ this is usually used in Monuvu to refer to the kidnapping of wives, a common cause of tribal wars called ‘Pangayaw’ in precolonial Kidapawan. In many cases, the kidnapping is actually done with the blessing of tribal leaders, in order to save a wife from an unhealthy marriage. Bo’i Era Espana’s book Poovian woy Gontangan is full of records of individual cases (and also of dramatic cases of children being kidnapped as well).
  7. Kollut and The Resistance of the Monuvu Against the Japanese: The most clever act of resistance against the Japanese in the Greater Kidapawan Area perhaps came from the Monuvu. Datu Lamberto Delfin describes an incident in Maliri and Kamasi in what is today Antipas, in which the natives took advantage of Japanese barbarity. The Japanese soldiers – whom Datu Lamberto describes as being under the command of an Otaka Makuti – had the habit of stealing all the root crops that the Monuvu would carry as they travelled. Seeing this, the natives decided to one day bring Kollut instead of sweet potatoes. Kollut, or Dioscorea hispida, is a poisonous yam that can only be eaten after being subjected to several tedious processes, among which are soaking it for three days in running water or burying it in ash for an equally long duration. The proper preparation of Kollut was unknown to the Japanese soldiers, who as usual took the root crops from the passing Monuvu. As the soldiers collapsed and stopped moving, the natives took the opportunity to hack them to death. Native version of Inglorious Basterds?
  8. The Murder of Eliseo Dayao Sr: I’ve also written before about Judge Dayao’s murder here. His death reminds me of the death of such nationally prominent figures as Jose Abad Santos and General Paulino Santos.
  9. The Escape of Lorenzo Saniel: This incident I heard from the late Mayor of Kidapawan’s 90 plus year old daughter. Lorenzo, a sitting councilor of the Municipal District of Kidapawan, was summoned by the Japanese officer stationed in the town. He was asked to serve as a spy against the guerrillas in Sikitan. When Lorenzo delayed committing, the Japanese officer grew impatient. The officer  slapped Lorenzo across the face before ordering seven of his men to take Lorenzo to ‘go look for chickens’ (which seemed to have been  a subtle way of implying an execution). Saniel was taken to where the Gaisano Grand Mall is now, but he was able to persuade the Japanese soldiers to go to Paco, where the present location of the DPWH is.The group came across a stream, bridged only by several bamboo posts. Saniel was made to cross it first, then one by one the seven soldiers crossed after him. When the last soldier was crossing the makeshift bridge, Saniel saw that the attention of the other six was focused on the crossing soldier, and he instantly saw a chance to escape. Saniel ran for his life into the brambles, and after much walking, reached his family in Balindog. Hurriedly the family fled into the wilderness, wandering into many of the remote barrios but going into the general direction of Davao, where Saniel intended to hide his family. There are many such riveting tales of survival during the War still waiting to be told in Kidapawan
  10. The Torture of Patadon Tungao: Datu Patadon Tungao, a Maguindanaon of royal blood, was a 3rd Lieutenant under the Bolo Batallion during the Second World War, serving as an undercover agent for the Resistance. He was caught by the Japanese, and was incarcerated, first in Cotabato then in Manila.Under Japanese custody, Patadon was violently tortured – his beard was burned, dirty water was forced down his throat, and his private parts were painfully mutilated. The torture was to make him reveal Resistance plans and names, but he never gave in any information. He was waiting to be executed in Manila when the Americans liberated the capital on 5 February, 1945. By July of that year he was back in Cotabato. After the War Patadon would settle with his family in Kidapawan, where he would live the rest of his life contributing to the town’s growth. Patadon did not have much formal education outside of Arabic School, but he was fluent in English and was a well read man. He was known to have read Lord Byron. He is a hero waiting to be celebrated.
  11. The Love Story of Hayao Nakamura: The memory of Hayao Nakamura is now almost lost, but I was able to record it from the last known living person to have met him, Bonifacio Madrid. Nakamura was one of the Japanese officers given command of the Imperial Japanese army detachment in Kidapawan. His taking over saw more humane treatment of Filipinos in Kidapawan, and he even oversaw construction of bridges and roads that Kidapawan would use well after the War. He was in such a good relationship with the locals that he fell in love with one, Rosalina Madrid, and they married and had a daughter. But the war called him, and in spite of the Madrids’ plea for him to hide, he led his men to Davao, where he was never heard of again.
  12. Sultan Omar Kiram, the Lost Sultan: I have written before about Sultan Omar Kiram. His story is perhaps one of the most dramatic you will ever hear in Kidapawan.
  13. The Moro Massacres of Sitio Palera, Sitio Pagagao, and Manobuan: One of the films attending the summit, Teng Mangansakan, is renowned for documenting the Malisbong Massacre in Palimbang during the Marcos era. In Kidapawan, there are similar incidents – Moro civilians as young as twelve and as old as 80 murdered en masse simpy for being Muslim. But the incidents in Kidapawan remain largely unrecorded and are waiting for keen filmmakers to explore the intense human struggles that went behind them.
  14. The Katindu Saga: One of the early success stories of the Lumad struggle, the Katindu saga was the decades long struggle of the descendants of Datu Ansabu in Arakan against the landgrabbing of Kidapawan mayor Augusto Gana, a struggle that has seen both legal action and actual violence. Fr Romeo Villanueva documents the incident in vivid detail.
  15. The Murder of Tulio Favali: One of the most macabre episodes in North Cotabato history, the murder of Fr Tulio Favali by the Manero brothers caused international outrage and spawned legends of brain-eating (Read my article on Tingug to learn more) . Filmmakers would do well to explore these legends as well as the actual facts of the crime.
  16. The Life of Connie J. Brizuela: A character of more recent history, Connie J. Brizuela was a journalist and human rights lawyer who was among the those killed in the 2009 Maguindanao Massacre. Her life – along with other great but untold lives of people in the Greater Kidapawan Area – deserve to be told in film.

I have said before that Kidapawan is a rich reservoir of human experience just waiting to be tapped and harnessed into stories. That is not an exaggeration, because as a fictionist I have been mining this reservoir and have barely even scratched its surface. I enjoin Mindanao’s filmmakers to do the same.

Give us films about Kidapawan!

‘CHAOS DANCE AWE’ by Sass Sasot now available!


CHAOS DANCE AWE, my friend Sass Rogando Sasot’s debut poetry collection, is now available for sale!

Sass, a prominent Filipina public intellectual currently working as  Docent in the University of Maastricht, has very strong creative impulses on top of her credentials in international relations and transgender discourse . Her debut poetry collection contains 47 poems in English, some dating back to 2008.

I helped her clean them up and assemble them for this collection as an editor of sorts, giving her feedback to improve each piece.

‘The collection,’ to quote Sass’s PR for it, ‘tells the internal voyage of a Filipina transsexual woman’s lifework of coming to terms with darkness, creating with chaos, and dancing with the awe it inspires. Some of the pieces from the collection are: HER is about a woman whose intensity is as engulfing as Nietzsche’s abyss; DYSPHORIA & EUPHORIA reflects the life of Sass’ late sister, who spent most of her life in and out of mental asylum; I BURIED THE SKY is a tale of forgiving one’s abuser; A PLACE NOT MADE OF NO inspires everyone to be a yes to their bliss; BLOW draws parallelism between writing a poem and giving a head; 10 HRS OF EXQUISITE is an ode to the gorgeousness of the erotic art of bondage and the ecstasy of submission; SPOOKY ACTION AT A DISTANCE pays homage to the myth of soulmates; ARTMAKING is about the joy and pain of creating something and letting go of it; and inspired by mystics’ writings on the relationship between the Lover and the Beloved, THE GRACE OF YOUR COMING explores the nexus of the twin catastrophes of our lives — spiritual awakening and sexual ripening.’

To buy the collection, visit Sass’s Etsy online shop. For those based in the Philippines, she will also be in Manila and Davao this August and will be bringing copies. CHAOS DANCE AWE sells at Php 280 per copy.


(I am making one of my best stories, Kuyaw, available online in memory of Leoncio Deriada. This story was part of my Master’s Thesis, on which panel sir Leo sat. He was delighted that I used Davao Tagalog with it, and among the many stories of the thesis he liked it best, describing it as ‘a truly horrible story.’ It has since been published, in 2015, in Habi: Collaborative Literary Folio of the Philippine Jesuit universities.  See it on Wattpad too! )



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Lain talaga pagsimula. Alangan uy. Habang nakaupo lang si Nick Berg sa screen ng laptop, ang meron lang gud sa akin kay ang pagkaalam na mamatay siya pagkahuli. Nagsimula magsalita ng Arabic yung isa sa mga nakaitim at naka balabal-muslim sa likod. Klaro masyado ang hostage sa kaputi niya at sa ka-orange ng kanyang suot. Habang nagatagal mag-iba ang kalain: alam mo na na kangilngig ang makita mo, pero kay sa huli mo pa makita, masuya, manabik ka. Sige na uy, ipakita na lang gud sana, kalahati mo maisip, pero kalahati gusto mo lang gud talaga makita. Nang patapos na ang pagsalita sa Arabic, gikulbaan ako masyado. Nagbilis ang pulso ko – nautgan na ako. Hala, hala. Nakatinghab ako sa kakulba paglapit nila kay Berg. Nahubad ko na ang short at brip ko. Ah, grabe. Gikutsilyo na nila ang leeg. Grabe, katigas ko na. Parang matunaw na sa kainit ang nasa kamay ko. Sabay sa ad-ad ng kutsilyo sa leeg ang pag luslos taas-baba ng kamay ko. Ah, grabe. Nakaungol ako sabay ng sigaw ng ginapugutang hostage. Ah grabe, grabe. Gibalik-balik ko ang video sa pag-ad-ad – sakto pagtanggal ng ulo at pagtigil ng mga muslim ng pag-ad-ad, nilabasan ako. Grabe ko kahangak, pawis masyado at basa ang kamay, habang nakatingin sa paglagay nila sa putol na ulo ni Berg sa sahig.

Grabe. Kuyawa ko na talaga.

…Sila kaya, ‘no. Mga gahi man daw. Kaya kaya nila ito? Ambot lang.

Yung mga kaklase ko sa U___, grabe makatikal. Bisyo, babae, basta lagi kakuyaw nagawa na yan nila. Elementary pa lang daw sila sa kanila (sa Mati ba o sa GenSan, maraming dayo sa kanila), nakabira na daw sila. Kapitbahay, katulong, pinsan, bangagan na classmate. Kuyaw lagi masyado.

Nung first year pa kami nag-sabot man yan sila magsibat sa klase sa Calculus. Nag-inom daw sa may Claveria (‘yan o, alas dos pa lang sa hapon nagainom na). Kay hindi man ako gisali ako lang ang nagpasok sa klase. Gikataw-an nila ako nung malaman nila. Dun man siguro nagsimula yang Bela-Bela.

Abel Patalinghug, tapos kay brayt man sila masyado gibaylo lang nila ang ‘A’ at ‘bel’ sa pangalan ko, tapos gisungog-sungog akong ‘Bela.’ ‘Bela irebond daw ning akong bulbol be, bayran ra takag lubi,’ ‘Bela, kuyog sa amo next time mag-inom ha, tagaan ka namog Zest-O,’ ‘Ay dili diay, ang imo man diay ganahan imnon kay kanang Batong-flavour.’ Kuyaw sila, ako hindi – wala man pera o hilig mag-damo, mag-DoTa, o magbira ng kung sino ba (at ano pa lang sabihin ni kuya). Pero imbes na kulango lang sana, bayot ang naisip nila itatak sa akin. Si Ralston Calawen man siguro nag-unauna nun.

Grabe yan si Calawen kagago. Nakabira na daw ng silingan ten years old pa lang, dose pa siya nagasimula na panigarilyo, hindi na daw niya maalala kelan siya una nakainom. Pero ngayon Tanduay na ang tirada niya. Apat yan sila pinakagago sa aming section sa Civil Engineering. Si Calawen, si Alvin Quezon taga Bukidnon na nakulong na daw kay nag-akyat-bahay nung grade 5 siya, si Jik-Jik Buy-an taga-Sta. Cruz na palagi matulog sa internetan kaadik sa DoTA, si Ivan Neri taga-Cotabato na gidala dito yung hilig niya mag-damo.

Gisubukan ko makikaibigan minsan, para ba makita din nila na hindi lang daw ako kulang sa kakuyaw. Nagdala si Ralston ikaisa ng FHM sa klase, gibasa nilang apat nung walang teacher sa Trigonometry. Naglapit lang gud ako para makiusyoso.

Pagkita nila na malapit ako, gidalidali nilang tago. Alis daw ako, panglalaki lang daw yung gitignan nila. Wala daw binayot dun, dagdag ni Ivan Neri, kay FHM man. ‘Hala,’ sungog ni Jik-Jik Buy-an, ‘‘Vin isarado na imong zipper kay basig nangita ra diay’g bibiron ni si Bela.’ Tapos katawa.

Sa takot at kakulba ko ang nasabi ko lang, pautal, hindi ako bayot.

Gititigan nila ako. Kuba-kuba konti, luspad kay bihira lang maglabas sa bahay, amoy Johnson’s baby soap imbes sigarilyo. ‘Mao ba,’ sabi ni Ralston. ‘Okay ra jud kaayo sa amo, gang. Amina na lang gud. Ug wala man pud gihapon kay otin. Magbayot na lang ka uy.’ Katawa ulit.

Pero at least sila ginakausap pa ako. Yun talagang mga tambay sa may kanto sa amin sa San Lorenzo Village, nakita lang ako nagdaan minsan may dalang payong naisipan na din na bayot ako. Magtaghoy pag nagadaan ako. ‘Salad o, ngil-ad pa.’ Tatlo-apat yan sila palagi, nakahukas at nakalaylay ang bilbil madalas, naga-Dama ng tansan sa ilalim ng Talisay habang naga-Tuba.

Ang pinakagago diyan sa kanila, yang si Pugak Domingo. Dati daw panday sabi ni kuya, pero giputulan daw ng DDS ng daliri kay gago lagi. Yan siya ang grabe maka-bugal-bugal sa akin. Ang pinakagrabe yung hubog siya masyado isang hapon.‘Ali diri gang, pahikapon takas akong birdie. Di ra ko mag-promise nga mafinger taka.’ Nakasuka sa katawa yung mga kasama niyang tambay.

Kung gialok lang sana nila ako ng tuba, nakatikim na siguro ako.

Kasarap siguro ‘no, na ang kalingawan mo galing sa paghirap ng iba. Nayawyaw ko sa sarili nung gisubukan ko magbigti. Hapon man yun, nasa call center si kuya, ako lang isa sa bahay. Sa loob ng nakabitay na pisi, isip ko habang ginatitigan ko ang butas, tapos lahat.

Pero makatakot ang wala. Kahit sino na makakita, alam yan. Sa harap mo, wala na lahat. Tapos lahat. Natakot ako uy, pero nahiya ako sa takot ko. Grabeng hiya, yan ganing sa sobrang hiya mo, gusto mo na patayin sarili mo kay kawala mong pulos na tao, pero kay talawan ka lagi takot ka masyado para patayin ang sarili mo. Naglupasay na lang ako sa sahig, giiyak ang sama ng loob.

Ang maganda lang talaga sa akin madali ako madistract. Kasarap siguro na galing sa hirap ng iba ang kalingawan mo, ‘no… at doon ko nakita kung gaano kabala nung mga gago na yun, at kung saan ako pwede maging kuyaw, mas kuyaw.

Kulang pa. kulang pa ang kanilang ginakalingawan na hirap.

Ang mga babae ang pinakamaganda gamitin halimbawa para ipakita kung anong klaseng kakuyaw ang uso. Gusto yan nila ‘maginoo pero medyo bastos,’ madumi sa labas pero malinis sa loob. Pero mahina ang mga babae, hindi nila kaya ang totoong kuyaw. Hindi man gani nila siguro alam bakit nila gusto na medyo kuyaw ang lalaki – sa delikado mo man kasi maramdaman na mahalaga ang mga madali masira. Kabata, ka-inosente, puri, buhay. Kuyaw si Ralston Calawen kay baka birahan ka lang bigla, pero sa huli palaiyot lang yun, hindi rapist.

Bala masyado…


Madaanan ng jeep na sakyan ko galing U___ pauwi ang isang bahay sa may highway diyan sa Puan. Ikailan na nangyari na nanganak yang aso nila diyan, tapos paglaro-laro ng itoy sa kalsada masagasaan. Noong una ko yan nakita, gilayo ko ang tingin ko. Luod baya.

Pero noong may nasagasaan ulit dalawang araw pagkatapos ko gisubukan maghikog, gipilit ko tingin. Sige daw be.

Buo pa ang katawan ng itoy pero nakalabas na ang tinae sa semento. Naglamig ang kamay ko pagkakita sa kanya, pero gipilit ko ang sarili ko na titigan, at pagtagal naging init ang lamig, at nagsimula tigas ang tiyan at balakang ko. Ibang klase na pakiramdam, parang gigil na grabe. Tapos parang nakatutok ang gigil sa bukas pa na mata ng tuta. Hala. Gititigan ko ang mga mata, dilat sa pagkawala na gikatalaw ko, dilat pa at nagapahiwatig sa buhay na nawala, at naglakas ang gigil ko. Tapos bigla man yan nasagasaan ng nagdaan na taxi ang ulo – durog ang mukha, nagkalat ang utak sa semento kahalo ng bituka, nalagpot ang mga mata. Ah, grabe. Gikilabutan ako – parang grabe ka-igo na kiliti.

Sa hayop pala yan siya simulan. Palaging may masagasaan sa daan paakyat sa Puan pagsakay ko ng tricycle pauwi sa San Lorenzo. Palaka, daga, pusa, kung swerte aso. Nagkalingaw ako ng tingin, lalo na kung maisip ko na kanina lang buhay pa yung dugmok na tapok ng dugo at utak-bituka.

Pero sandali ka lang malingaw sa tiratira: katagalan naghanap na ako ng mismong pagkamatay. Para ganing babae na nakadamit na makaakit masyado, pakita ng konting laman pero hindi mo mahanap ang ginatago. Katagalan hanapin mo ang itsura niya nakahubad.

Hindi ko na nakaya minsan. Nanghuli ako ng bakbak sa may basakan sa likod ng San Lorenzo. Tapos giitsa ko sa may semento ng malakas. Pagkahulog niya, bungkag ang katawan – ah, grabe. Kalingaw. Hindi nagtagal naging kalingawan ko yun pag weekends.

Simula man yun ng second year ko na naisip ko makinig ng iyak ng ginakatay na baboy. Tahimik man gud ang bakbak mamatay. Tapos minsan, nung may gikatay na baboy sa silingan, gikilabutan ako pagrinig ko. Kay kalayo man ng slaughterhouse sa Maa, nagdownload na lang ako ng mp3 sa laptop na gipadala ni mama galing Saudi. Yan ang karamihan naging laman tugtog ng cellphone ko, kasarap pakinggan sa jeep.

Minsan mainggit ako kay mama. Gusto ko magtambay doon sa Deera Square sa Riyadh. Kalingaw siguro manood ginatigbas yung mga kriminal sa publiko. Ginaisip ko pa lang yun, mas lalo ako maenganyo seryosohin ang pag-Engineering ko.

Isang araw may naglaroy-laroy na kuting sa labas ng bahay namin. Kacute na kuting, nagalapit. Hapon man yun, nasa call center na naman si kuya. Kung nasa bahay pa yun giabog na ang kuting kay magdumidumi daw sa bahay ang balahibo. Gipasok ko siya at gilaro-laro sa sala.

Habang gitangag ng kuting ang tsinelas ko, pumasok sa isip ko. Nakapanood na ako ng gikatay na baboy, naka-sampung palaka na ako. Pero kulang pa rin. Ginahanap ko ang kamatayan – tanga no, nung nakita ko sa pisi, natakot ako. Pero ginahanap ko siya. Gusto ko siya ipadulas sa kamay ko.

Pero sa mga nakita ko, kulang pa rin. Pagtingin ko sa kuting, naisip ko na yun siguro. Dapat sa kamay mo mismo. Yung mga palaka kasi parang nahulog lang sila. Dapat ko talaga siguro maramdaman sa kamay ko.

Gitali ko ang pisi sa isang sanga ng nagahirig na batang puno ng rambutan sa may lasang sa likod ng Toscana, yung subdivision tabi ng San Lorenzo. Mas tahimik sa giakala ko ang kuting, pero mas grabe ang pakiramdam. Habang nagapiglas siya, nakabitay, parang ginakambras niya sa kiliti ang loob ko. Ah, grabe. Napaluhod ako sa sarap pag-iyak niya huling beses.

Pero kulang pa rin…

Gidukol ako ni Jik-Jik Buy-an habang nagalakad sa U___ nung maisip ko ang problema. ‘Bela pagdali, kusion jud ni sir Torres nang imong bugan kon maglangay pa ka diha.’ Puchaks yung gago, isip ko. Kasarap patayin.

Tama. Dapat tao. Sa tao ko makita ang ginahanap ko.

Doon ako nagsimula basa-basa sa internet. Mahirap maghanap ng video ng talagang pagkamatay ng tao, pero may ilan na sikat na kaso. Pinakasikat na siguro, at pinakamadali hanapin, si Nick Berg. Kaya pagkatapos ko idownload ang video, nagkulong ako sa kwarto para panoorin.

Masarap man talaga – doon pa lang sa nasagasaan na itoy alam ko na – pero ngayon lang ako nakakinto talaga sa kasarap.

Naghanap ako ng iba pang mapanood na videos tapos nun. Ang sunod kong nahanap yung palabas na Salo – 120 Days of Sodom (nabasa ko na yung libro ni Marquis de Sade paghanap-hanap ko ng iyak ng baboy). Okay man din pala masyado kahit hindi totoo, luod lang yung tae-tae. Giubos ko lahat torrent yung mga pagpugot sa Iraq (boring man yung sa Koreano kay walang tunog). Okay din masyado yung A Serbian Film, nakailang round din ako sa bagong anak na sanggol na part.

Nagainom yung isang tao sa Serbian Film nung maalala ko si Ralston Calawen – hindi, sila lahat, pati yung si Pugak Domingo sa kanto (nawala baya yun, giaresto daw sabi ni kuya kay nahuli nagbarker-barker tapos nagapaningil ng sobra). Sigarilyo? Silingan o bangagan na classmate? Puchaks, barker? Kabala nila. Kahilas pa nila tawag-tawagin ako na bayot. Baka gani makasuka na ang mga gago dito pa lang sa video ni Kim Sun Il.

Ito ang gahi. Ito ang astig. Ito ang kuyaw

Marielle Sirolo. Nandiyan lang daw sa Toscana, sabi ni kuya isang araw. Nagahanap ng tutor sa Math. Ateneo daw, second year Management. Scholar galing Kidapawan (konsehal daw ang tito doon, pero mataas din daw ang grado sa high school). Pinsan daw ng office mate niya. Kay mataas man daw ang grado ko (consistent DL din baya), baka daw gusto ko mag-sideline. Hindi gud niya gisadya, pero mahiya din baya ako kay kuya. Siya lang isa gaalaga sa akin kay nasa Saudi si mama (ewan asan na tatay namin, hindi ko din natanong). Ang nagawa ko lang para sa kanya, hindi ko dagdagan ang problema niya ng akin.

Kaya nagpayag ako. Lakarin lang din bitaw ang Toscana.

Hapon nung una kami nagkakilala ni Marielle. Sa loob-loob ang bahay nila sa Toscana. Dalawa sila ng pinsan niya nakatira (yung office mate ni kuya), pero sa tito daw nila ang bahay.

Nagulat ako na kaganda pala niya. Magaspang, malupa na kaganda. Morena siya, may maliit at bilog na ulo. Makintab na buhok na medyo kulot-kulot pero sosyal na kinaraan ang hati. Pango ang ilong. Pero cute na pagkapango. Bilog masyado ang mga mata niya, parang yung sa kuting sa labas ng bahay namin noon.

Masalita, madaming tanong. Ano daw course ko sa U___. Parang ano daw doon sa loob, kay taga-Kidapawan daw baya siya, hindi pa siya nakapasok doon. Ano daw hilig ko. Nahirapan ako magsagot sa mga tanong na ‘tingin’ ko – hindi ko intawon alam anohin pagsabi sa mga tingin ko sa bagay-bagay.

Kumusta sa U___? ‘Ay, wag ka doon, sayang ka, pang-gago lang yun.’ Nagulat ako kay hindi ko gipag-isipan na sabihin yun, yun lang talaga nasa isip ko.

Nagtawa siya. Ewan pero parang nahiya ako bigla sa sarili ko.

Ganun kami lagi pag magkita kami kada-weekend. Mahabang usapan tungkol sa kung ano-ano bago kami magsimula sa tutor. Hindi siya maubusan ng mapag-usapan: tungkol sa tribo niya (Manobo pala sila), kay tito Gilbert niya na konsehal na kagaling daw na tao, tungkol sa Ateneo, kahit ano.

At ako din, kay wala man din masyadong masabi, madala na rin sa kanya. Minsan magsabi siya ng ‘hala, katalino mo gud ay,’ o ‘kaputi mo gud masyado, kadami mo siguro fangirls sa U___ ‘no,’ magbukad ang atay ko.

At bago ko mamalayan, nagapaabot na ako sa weekends kay puntahan ko na siya sa kanila (gibigyan niya ako ng number niya, pero mahiya man din ako magtext). Kahit man gani si kuya nakabantay na sobra-sobra na daw ako katagal sa salamin bago maglakad papuntang Toscana.

Isang hapon, habang nagasolve kami ng trinomials natanong niya bigla kung mahilig ba daw ako sa movies. Konti, sagot ko. Ano daw gusto ko na movies.

Muntik ko masagot na ‘Salo,’ pero bigla ako nahiya. ‘kahit anong Pasolini,’ sagot ko. Habang ginaisip ko pa bakit ako nahiya, nagsabi siya bigla ng ‘Hala, totoo ka? Ka-cultured mo man pala uy. Sa Ateneo ka na lang be kay wala gud talaga akong makausap na matino doon.’ Parang may mga palaka nagalukso-lukso sa loob ng tiyan ko pag-uwi ko.

Pagkagabi noon kay nanaginip ako.

Gisunggaban daw ako ni Ralston Calawen, ni Alvin Quezon, at ni Pugak Domingo. Pero pag hulog nila sa akin, gilangkat ko daw ang tinae nila, tapos habang gangisay sila nakatayo, gisalapid ko ang tinae para gawing pisi. Tapos gitali ko daw ang pisi sa kahoy sa may ceiling, masaya masyado kay nakaganti. Tapos kung saan man, gipulot ko yung kuting tapos gilagay sa bigtian ng pisi. Naga-piglas ang kuting, pero parang wala siya doon, at grabe ko kalagot kay hindi ko mahanap ang ginahanap ko. Habang nakatutok ako sa kawalaan kong nasaan dapat ang kuting, ginahipo ang sarili ko, biglang nagtawag si Marielle sa likod. Puchaks, sa kagulat ko nagising ako.

Si Marielle at itong kakuyaw ko…

Giisip ko kung anong mangyari kung malaman ni Marielle na ganito ako, na mapakinto ako sa kasarap sa pagkakita sa kamatayan – puchaks, natakot ako.

Hiya, grabeng hiya. Para ulit ako natalaw ipasok ang leeg ko sa gibitay kong pisi noon, grabeng hiya na gusto ko mamatay, pero wala din ako magawa sa kanya kay takot din ako sa kawalaan. Sa liwanag ng buwan na nagapasok sa bintana ko, mabuang ako sa kahiya.

Pero sa likod ng hiya may takot na parang naramdaman ko na noon – takot na baka malaman ni Marielle. Oo, takot na makita ang kawalaan ng buhay. Takot sa kakuyaw. Oo, ito yun. Noong gititigan ko yung itoy sa kalsada. Noong giitsa ko yung bakbak. Yung ginasimula na ad-ad ang leeg ni Nick Berg. Takot. Takot, kulba na pag patagalin maka-utog.

Parang may nahawakan akong matagal ko na ginahanap na sinulid. Ito yun. Dito ko makita ang ginahanap ko. Kulang sa bigat – sa halaga – yung kuting…

Para akong nagalutang pagpunta ko sa bahay nila Marielle nung hapon na yun. Mag-isa ulit siya.

Pagdating ko nagahiwa siya ng kamote. Galing daw sa Kidapawan, masarap daw ang kamote sa Kidapawan. Mag-binignit daw siya para sa akin, wag daw muna kami mag-polynomials ngayon. Gikilig ako sa sarap ng tawa niya.

Hindi, gigil. At alam ko na mapalabong ko pa ito lalo. Mas mapagrabe ko pa ito.

Gibaba niya ang kutsilyo at gitignan ang nakaapoy na kaserola. Nakatalikod siya sa akin.

Kabigat na ng hininga ko sa kagigil. Sige na, ito na.

Naganginig ang kamay ko paghawak ng kutsilyo. Nagkanta-kanta pa siya habang ginakanaw ang kanyang ginaluto.

Paglingon niya ko siya natigbas sa mukha. Pinakurat yung tigbas ko. Hindi na siya nakasigaw, tahimik siya nahulog sa sahig.

Alam ko ang ginawa ko pero parang wala ako doon. Gihiwa ko din ang tiyan niya tapos gilangkat ang tinae palabas. Tapos gitaga ang ulo niya parang butong, buo pa ang mukha pero nakalabas ang utak. Habang ginagawa ko yun grabe ang kulba ko, at grabe ang pulso ko kabilis – nautgan na ako.

Ng basa ang kamay ko sa dugo, apdo at tubig-utak, ng naganginig, gibuksan ko ang zipper ko. Ah, grabe. Kadulas. Parang matunaw ako sa kasarap…

Hala… grabe…

Nahuwasan ako pagkatapos ko malabasan. Parang pader sa mukha paghampas na kahuwas. Hala, anong ginawa ko… si mama, si kuya, si Marielle at yung mga nagasimula na sana sa amin… ito ba ang ginahanap ko..!? Takot, hiya, galit sa sarili – lahat naghalo sa loob ko, pero hindi naging tapang kay nahaluan pa rin ng katalaw mamatay. Hindi ko maintindihan ang maramdaman ko, ang alam ko lang, habang nakalupasay sa harap ng katawan ni Marielle, kahina ko masyado.

Nabalot na lang ako ng kalain. Makahilo, makasuka kagrabe na kalain.




In Memoriam: Leoncio Deriada

(Leoncio P. Deriada, Palanca Hall of Famer, Polyglot, and Father of Western Visayan Literature, has passed away. Those who follow this blog will know what a profound influence sir Leo was to me. I paid tribute to him in this week’s Lifestyle section of the Manila Bulletin. Special thanks to Sass Rogando Sasot and Krizette Lauretta Chu for making it possible)

2012-09-24 11.02.18

With sir Leo at Yellow Fin

Leoncio Deriada wrote about Mindanao, and he wrote about it a lot.

His large body of fiction and drama depicts the Davao region he explored as a young boy— Philippine eagles still hovering over the vast, virgins forests of towering Lawaan trees, squirrels still spiralling up Durian trunks before digging their teeth into the fruit’s tough shell, and downtown Davao still full of coconuts and carabao water holes—a Mindanao long gone, but which has been captured for all time in the vivid settings of his stories.

Although he migrated from Iloilo with his family to Davao after the Second World War, Deriada was a settler. He became the person he was in Mindanao, in the truest sense of the Cebuano term, he was “natawo” here. The place dominated his imagination all his life.

(read the rest of the article on The Manila Bulletin website)

Finding The Settler Voice: Series of Lectures

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I will be giving a lecture, entitled ‘Finding the Settler Voice, in two of Mindanao’s metropolitan centers in the coming week. In the lecture I will elaborate on a Mindanao Settler lens of reading texts by Settler authors.


The first will be this Thursday, 24 January in General Santos City. Hosted by the Mindanao State University- GenSan, it will unfortunately be open only to members of the MSU community.



The second will be on Saturday, 26 January, at the Ateneo de Davao University. The event is open to the public with an entrance fee of 50 pesos.

For both events I will be joining poet, novelist, and critic Christine Godinez Ortega, film producer Santiago Diokno, and film maker Teng Mangansakan.

Come join us!