Category Archives: Poetry

Check out the poems published in Katitikan – Literary Journal of the Philippine South.

Dagat-dagatang Putik

Araw-araw na hinihiling ni Doning1 ang ulan
Ngunit ayaw niyang dumadalaw ang bagyo.
Sumusuksok kung sumisigaw ang mabangis na kulog
Tinatakpan ng mga kamay at tenga’t ipipikit sa guhit ng kidlat
Gaya ng tunog ng pag-akyat ng mga trakturang tagapatag.

Sumasalok siya sa mga patak ng langit
Subalit ibinubuhos muli nang mapaglaruan
ng mga insekto, ng mga bitak-bitak na kalyo
sa ligaya ng pagtigil ng mga kamay na bakal,
       ang tagaguho’t tagahukay.

Sariwa pa sa alaala ni Doning, pipi mang itinuring
Ang ginawang pagkahig ng mga dambulahang daliri
At pagguho ng lahar sa pamanang lugar ni Amamang Pablo2.
Naroon, sa sulok at pinagmamasdan sa pergolang muog
Naghihintay sa pangakong-pansin ng pinunong-tribu,
Ngunit wala, wala roon, walang kadamay sa paglaban
       at pagkikibaka sa lupang pamana.

Kaya’t mali,
Maling sabihing, “ang lahat ng daan ay daang pauwi”
Pagkat lahat ng daan ay daan ng pagsakop at pagkalugami.

Dahilan para di himasin ni Doning ang ulap,
At itigil ang pagsulat sa lupa sa pagkausap ng araw.
Nais niyang lunurin at patuloy na languyin ang lalim
ng dagat na putik na sandaling bumati bago pulbusin
ng mga bakal, ng mga graba’t sementong sumabay sa hangin –
       ng kasaysayang ginawang pulbos at buhangin.


1 – Doning – isang katutubong Aeta ng Catanauan, Quezon at huling mag-anak sa San Jose Anyao na nananatiling nomadiko o namumuhay sa kinagisnang nilang buhay.

2 – Amamang Pablo – ninuno ng mga mga katutubong Aeta at dating pinunong tribu na lumaban sa mga dayuhan sa kanilang ancestral domain.

Bato nga Ginoo

Sa kasilaw sa adlaw
gagilak ang kaputi
sa iyang sanina.
Mora siyag santa
sama sa iyang mga gi-ampuan.
Iyang ulo gipandungan
og bilo. Iyang mata
mingpiyong. Iyang baba
mingsampit og paghimaya.
Gidayeg ang bugnawng marmol nga rebulto.
Andam na iyang palad modawat sa lawas
ni Kristo. Sa gawas sa simbahan
aduna poy mga palad nga gahulat
og grasya. Gabagting ang ilang mga lata.
Gapangamuyo,
wala sa marmol nga rebulto,
apan sa mga taong lumalabay gipangita
ang gisaarang kaluwasan. Para kanila
ang mga sinsilyo ang lawas sa bag-ong mesias.
Sa iyang pagtangtang sa puting pandong
gisugat siya sa mga makililimos.
Wala ingon niya.
Wala siya milingi.
Wala siya nagbali-bali.
Walay gibati iyang kasingkasing
morag bato
sama sa rebultong marmol nga iyang gidayeg.

Across the Multiverse

after Everything, Everywhere, All At Once
after Alyza Taguilas

To escape this bubble in the cosmic foam
   of existence, I verse jump. To get to the part
where I’m directing a Hiligaynon short film,
   I lick my armpit. To aim for inheritance
from a billionaire mayor, I split on the floor.
   To rise out of ashes as a phoenix, I pierce
my belly button with a toothpick. To roam
   in a country where men can freely kiss men,
I chew newspaper. To float through space,
   still as a rock, unperturbed by consequences,
I force myself to perform a handstand. To wake up
   one hot July morning before you gave up,
I sing the alphabet entirely in reverse.

The students are overjoyed

because it is the last day
of the in-house semester
the first
after a debilitating year
online
when I was twenty
& close to graduating
all I wanted
was to move out
& get a job
my diploma
was good for
at twenty-two
all the students ask
is Christmas
with their families
& a future
they no longer have to pray
exists
somewhere outside campus
they held a box
of pastries
& they huddled around it
the same way
in laboratory class
they saw crystals
real crystals
& saw them glittering
as they took turns
tinkering
the microscope
sometimes
something little
can hold
so much
they opened the box
each of them
taking a piece of pastry
examining it
putting it in their mouths
their other hand
catching every crumb
that fell
from each bite
how beautiful
to see joy
picked up
held in their fingers
swallowed
just like that
I wish
that the box
would never
run out
I wish
I could see them
happy
forever

Lesson in Immunology

When a foreign pathogen enters the body, the body primes itself for its defense. Three things happen: first, its recognition of the enemy; then, a proliferation of cells; before finally, the attack. Some cells will die after this exchange, but those that remain will remember the pathogen, ready if it ever comes back. Here, the body says death is not enough. Here, death is only secondary to memory. Here, to resist is to remember everything. In 2016, nine Philippine Supreme Court Justices ruled for the heroes’ burial of a late dictator. In 2021, his son rises to the presidency. What to make of this resurgence, if not a presage of a failing memory, a willingness to forget? These days, when someone asks me what immunocompromised means, I think T-cell ratios, thrush, chemo, cancer, country, Filipino. But perhaps it is unfair to think of a country as an agglomeration of cells. Perhaps it is impossible to reduce our lived identities to fit a scientific metaphor. But in class, a classmate raised a question, asked if it was possible for immune cells to have the capacity to forget. I’d like to think our professor was referring to us when they said they rarely do.