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!


Petty Squabble: On Saquina Karla Guiam’s Hypocrisy

(Context: I pulled out my zine, ‘Ang Dapat Mabatid ng Mga Colono,’ from the recent Sox Zine Fest after the GenSan-based anti-Duterte literary gatekeeper Saquina Karla Guiam and her brother Dissa accused me of racism when they saw the zine’s title. I reacted to their behaviour angrily on social media, because they haven’t even read the zine yet – it is typical of anti-Duterte writers like Guiam to react without reading. Another GenSan based writer, Yadu Karu, managed to read it and made a post about it on his Facebook page the other day. I upload here a screenshot of Guiam’s reaction, and attach here my subsequent response, which Facebook has taken down. My response contains strong language. )


The Bilat Warrior from GenSan Saquina Guiam reacts to Yadu Karu’s post about my zine.

May pa-redacted redacted pa ang gaga, as if she knows what civility is.

Hindi na sana siya kasali e, pero gusto pa rin makisawsaw, so sige, isali natin siya.

1. I did not ask Yadu to read my zine, he asked for a copy of it. I did not ask him to post about it, he did it on his own. I am thankful to him for the attention it is generating. Yadu did not even know that Guiam made this post, the backstabbing bitch.

2. Remember, this zine did not come out, and I am not even sure yet if it will ever come out, but it’s still the talk of the region. Yung zine ni Guiam about her attempts kuno at love-love nilangaw, as if anyone would be interested in the love life of a literary bottom feeder like her.

3. Saquina Guiam blocked me on Facebook for no reason first, hindi ko pa to inaano tong gagang to, galit na to sa akin. So no, this David Oquendo’s comment that Guiam is ‘accepting’ is him speaking from a very limited position. I will not be getting lessons on accepting opposing views from some angry, intolerant anti-Duterte rash like her.

4. I thank her for putting my name beside National Artist F. Sionil Jose’s, ang taas naman ng tingin niya sa akin, I’m in my 20s pa lang po. Incidentally, I disagree with many things Sionil has said (mali yung Why We Are Shallow niya e), this abnormal woman might want to reflect on her putting our names together to learn what mature disagreement is.

5. This overgrown baby cried in the Iligan Writers Workshop when she was told her poetry was crap (‘I AM NEVER GONNA WRITE AGAIN HUHUHU’), then later went on record in interviews that we shouldn’t listen to comments in workshops. Now she has the nerve to imply that I’m the one who has a problem with criticism. Riiiiight.

6. But criticize me all you want, I love arguing, kaya ako maraming anti-Duterte friends. Just make sure you don’t mistake disagreement as flying into a rage, OA lang. And if you take it personally expect me to take it personally too, don’t you dare play the victim card when you lose. Also, make sure before you criticize, you know what you’re talking about.

7. Because let’s not forget, this stupid woman FORMED HER OPINION ON MY ZINE WHEN SHE HASN’T EVEN READ IT YET. Nagbula-bula na ang bunganga ng gaga, hindi pa gani alam anong ginareakan. That a reactionary bitch like this is portraying herself as a victim of being shamed for engaging in sober dialogue is paramount hypocrisy.

8. She takes issue with the word ‘gatekeeper,’ but what do you call some nobody na hindi lang man kilala ng mga kapwa niya anti-Duterte but who is now strutting around the region judging contests and editing publications? Gatekeepeeeeeer

9. Reflective ang work ko sa personality ko? How flattering, she’s saying I’M RELEVANT. I’ve saved the memories of long forgotten historical figures in my hometown and brought them to wider attention, I’ve documented previously unrecorded massacres of Moros during the Marcos era (kahit na you know, I’m a settler). I know my place in the discourse of the competing Mindanao narratives, she doesn’t. (Nakakahiya silang magkapatid sa nanay nila).

10. She was hurt that I called her a bitch. I am hurt, because I called her many other creative but accurate descriptions: Bilat Warrior, walking intestine, sea cucumber, patient of arrested development. Pinaghirapan ko yung lait ko sa kanya, bitch lang ang issue niya.

11. She also still takes offense with the word ‘puta’ (would you believe writer daw ito). So with all due respect to her, PUTA PUTA PUTA PUTA PUTA

Masarap ito awayin, pero mamaya na ito siya. We’re busy being relevant here. Tell her to go ask her writer-crushes to let her smell their panties or something, might cool her head a bit. Wag niyo na to ipakita sa kanya, baka sumuka ng nana.

Keep her and The Great Jover Laurio sa banda ninyo, magkamukha naman sila.




Tinapoy. Oh god, Tinapoy. Probably the most delicious thing you can find in Kidapawan.

Fermented rice is yet again an unnoticed link for Filipinos with Nusantara: the culture of fermenting rice is common across Southeast Asia. In Malaysia and Indonesia it’s called ‘Tapai Pulut,’ in Thailand ‘Khao Mak,’ in Cambodia ‘Tapae,’ in Vietnam ‘Rượu nếp,’ and in Myanmar’s Shan area ‘Htamin gyin’ (although Htamin gyin was a savoury affair when I tried it).

But like all such links it is rather rare in the Philippines. I only know of three cultures here that ferment rice to eat it: the Obo Monuvu, the Maguindanaon, and the Maranao (I suspect there are more). Most other cultures which make it here usually make it for the alcohol it produces, or for fermenting fish and vegetables. The word ‘tapay’ is nevertheless in such common Filipino words as ‘tapayan’ (the jars in which food is fermented) and ‘tinapay’ (bread, which is baked fermented dough).

Tinapoy is slightly sour, slightly sweet, and slightly alcoholic (though smells more alcoholic than it actually is). The Monuvu make it by wrapping the rice, which is mixed with a traditional yeast called ‘buvuu,’ in the leaf of a plant called Gintaos to make these photogenic conical bundles. The leaf imparts on the resulting product a rich, grassy aroma that melds with its complex alcoholic fragrance. The Obo also only ferment it for a day, so the alcohol and sourness is still very faint but it is already sweet.

Mac Tiu recorded the Tinapoy-making culture of the Obo in Davao, but three things make the Tinapoy of Kidapawan’s Obo unique: the taboo of letting others know you’re making the stuff, which Tiu records in Davao, is weaker in Kidapawan (if you walk into someone making it, you have to join in the cooking process to make sure the tinapoy ‘ripens’); in Davao it is more common for the Obo to make the buvuu themselves, while in Kidapawan they buy the yeast from the Maguindanaon (which is natural considering their proximity to Maguindanao country).

Most importantly, while the Obo in Kidapawan also make their Tinapoy with rice, they prefer to make it with steamed bigas mais (course corn meal), which produces a lighter product. To date, Kidapawan is the only place I know in the world where fermented corn meal is made.

It’s a bit of an acquired taste for those unfamiliar with it, but I was crazy enough to bring some home, and add some sugar and evaporated milk to it.

The result is insanely delicious. Insanely, insanely delicious. The closest I could get to describing it is like creamy oatmeal with a bit of slightly acidic white wine.

It’s a unique sweet that is paradoxically wild and luxurious at the same time. It was so good I felt giddy, and not just from the alcohol content.

Restaurants should start selling this in Kidapawan, it is so good and so unique, Kidapawan should be famous for it.

Forget the fruits, come to Kidapawan for the Tinapoy!


Catch my feature on Museyo Kutawato on Laan Magazine!


Catch my article on North Cotabato’s Museyo Kutawato in the latest issue of Laan Travel Magazine. With photos by my Marbelina girl Nal, I feature what is to date the biggest museum in Region 12, its rich collection of historical and anthropological artefacts, and how it begs for a history of the province to be written.


Laan Travel Magazine is a Koronadal-based travel and ad magazine published by Yellow Bus Line, and heavily features attractions and products from SOCCSKSARGEN. Get a copy of the magazine in Yellow Bus Line terminals!

I get heavily cited on a paper about Davao Filipino!

The discourse on Davao Filipino moves one step further!

This time, Feorillo A. Demeterio III and Jeconiah Louis Dreisbach of De La Salle University Manila take a look at the two opposing paradigms on Davao Filipino, that by Jesse Rubico and by Leslie Dolalas, scrutnizing the arguments on both sides to give what they hope would be a more ‘acceptable’ assessment on this fascinating language.

Their paper, ‘Disentangling the Rubrico and Dolalas Hypotheses on the Davao Filipino Language,’ was published in the Recoletos Multidisciplinary Research Journal last year.

You can read it on Dreisbach’s Academia profile.

The paper heavily cites my thesis (ironically, as a writer I’ve never been cited to this extent before), and I’m delighted to see I’ve contributed in some way to the discourse.

(If I were in the academe those would have been points!)

The paper – and the greater phenomenon of language contact in Mindanao – deserves a proper response, one which I hope to undertake if time allows me.


I had recently given a lecture on Davao Filipino in Ateneo de Davao under the auspices of my old club, The Society of Ateneo Literature and English Majors, what was perhaps the first lecture on Davao Filipino ever given. In it I asserted to expand the study of language contact in Mindanao, specially in linguistically diverse Cotabato Region, to take a look at the other manifestations of hybridization in this land of many tongues



Mocha Uson and the Other Side of the Lumad Struggle

As if a grenade had been hurled from the Southern mountains to Metro Manila, the war between the Philippine government and the New People’s Army in Mindanao left an explosion last week in the halls of Congress.

The explosion was the resignation of Mocha Uson.

(Read the rest of the article on Tingug!)


Policy Recommendations on Culture and the Arts for North Cotabato

My home province of North Cotabato, the second most linguistically diverse province in the country and perhaps the most ethnically diverse, is starting to mature in terms of culture and arts. The shiny new Museyo Kutawato, one of the best museums in the country, is a striking testament to this.

The province has a rich reservoir of human experience and creativity to tap, a resource which surface it has barely even scratched.

As North Cotabato celebrates its 104th anniversary, I found myself reflecting on what can be done to help it address its shortcomings and move forward in actuating its cultural and artistic potential.

Here are some of my thoughts. Some of them are very idealistic, but it is always better to hope for the difficult best rather than settle for the easy but mediocre:

(Read the rest of the article on Tingug!)