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Creative Nonfiction

Choosing to Stay Home

?Diri lang ta,? Nanay Salbing says, as she leads us through the maze that is Barangay Pasil.

An hour ago, I was sitting in a cubicle in our office on the sixth floor of a building inside IT Park. The office only seems to have two colors: blue and white. In the office, there are cubicles as far as the eye can see. And once you sit down on your designated spot, the only sight you are permitted is your computer unit, which you would be staring at for the rest of the day. If you stayed glued to your work, other people aren?t visible unless you look over the spines on top or to the side, which requires movement. Everything inside there is identical and easy to commit to memory.

Every step in Pasil is dynamic.

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Creative Nonfiction

Baybayin All Over Her Face

Her eyes spill out unspoken stories?in the form of wrinkles that etch deeper and longer with the passage of time. From the corners of her eyes, they branch out like patterns on the wings of a butterfly?crawling all over her face, etching curves on her cheeks or fashioning waves on her forehead.

These scratches of age may reveal themselves as random graffiti for marking territories, as if declaring, The fine lines around my eyes are the marks of generations I witnessed coming and going. The folds below my mouth are the stories I wish to tell but can only whisper.

I witnessed these lines curve and swirl and dance with the rhythm of time, until they turned themselves into beautiful baybayin: the hushed characters of our history, striving for survival, like every one of her silent stories.

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Creative Nonfiction

My Trilingual Career

Francis C. Macansantos ? Butch to his friends and family ? considered many places home. Born in Cotabato City in 1949, he spent his boyhood in Zamboanga City, hometown of his parents. A Zamboangueno at heart (and palate), his memories of growing up with boyhood friends in Zamboanga were vivid and came to life in many of his poems written in English and his native Chabacano. Though he earned his A.B. (English) degree from Ateneo de Zamboanga (where he also completed his high school education), he earned some of his collegiate units at MSU Marawi, where he came under the mentorship of talented Literature teachers such as Nena Marohombsar. On the recommendation of fellow Zamboangueno writer Cesar R. Aquino, Butch attended the Silliman Writers? Workshop in the early 1970s, and was drawn to the Dumaguete community of writers and teachers, enough for him to subsequently enroll in the university?s MA Creative Writing program. He lived the writer?s life in Dumaguete for close to a decade, learning to speak Cebuano, and enjoying the company of friends both in the university and in the city. This stay in Dumaguete afforded him regular attendance in the annual summer workshop, where he later served (formally and informally) on the critics? panel, with his mentors Dr. Edith Tiempo and Dr. Edilberto Tiempo. At Silliman, Francis also worked at some point with the late Antonio Enriquez, who taught briefly at the University, and who remained a close friend until he passed on in 2014.

Butch taught for close to two years at MSU Marawi until 1980, when he had to leave after incurring the ire of the then University president, for a parody performed in public by Francis? group of faculty members. Mindanao during Martial Law was not the best place for outspoken academics and writers, and though the stories seemed unbelievably horrific, it was later confirmed by fellow teachers (who hid Butch and his fellow offenders in the women?s dorm) that indeed gunmen were on the lookout for the group. In 1981 Butch relocated to Baguio to join his spouse Priscilla ? whom he met in 1976 at Silliman. He has since lived in this mountain city, save for a five year stay in Newark, Delaware in the US, in 1990 until 1995. Though he learned only a smattering of Ilocano, the lingua franca of Baguio, Francis considered Baguio and the Cordilleras his home for more years than the periods of stay elsewhere. He was a regular market-goer and had many sukis in the market and the neighborhood. One of his sukis at the local talipapa was the wife of a writer in Ilocano ? Jimmy Agpalo- and he interspersed literary banter with everyday neighborhood gossip whenever he had the chance to chat. (At his wake, friends from the university were joined by his loyal market vendor friends and members of the barangay council.) Teaching briefly at UP Baguio, he made friends with the visual artist Darnay Demetillo, a fellow Sillimanian, and joined the artists? collective Tahong Bundok, founded by Darnay and fellow Baguio visual artist Pyx Picart. Before the turn of the century, Butch also formed, together with the late National Artist Cirilo Bautista, the Baguio Writers Group. He mentored young writers in and out of the university, and sometime in 2007, initiated the holding of the Cordillera Creative Writers Workshop at UP Baguio. It was also during this period when he served in the Literary Arts Committee of NCCA as representative of Baguio and the Cordillera region. The essay that follows was read at the last Cordillera Writers workshop in which he participated as panel member.

Categories
Creative Nonfiction

Here, There, Everywhere: Catching Up with Criselda Yabes

Criselda Yabes has published eight books, including Sarena?s Story: The Loss of a Kingdom, which won the UP Centennial Literary Prize for Creative Non-Fiction simultaneously with Below the Crying Mountain. A journalism graduate of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, she worked as correspondent for the international press in Manila, covering politics and coups as well as other major events overseas.

It?s a humid June night as I step inside La Vie Parisienne for the first time after hearing so much about it over the years. I?m here to meet up (well, ?catch up? really) with Criselda Yabes, published author, journalist, traveler, and vegetarian, whom I first met at the San Agustin Writers Workshop in Iloilo just a little over a month ago, where she was a guest panelist on the first day and a craft lecturer on the last.

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Play

Luyag ?Da?ra?y Anino (A Kingdom of Shadows)

*based on a true story

Language of Dialogues: Pangasinan, Arabic, Iloko with English subtitles

Story, Screenplay, & Direction: Valentina Vidal

Shooting Location: Dhofar Mountains, Oman

Style and Narrative Structure: A poetic film with an episodic structure

*Inspired by a true story

Leonora Perez (63), a Filipino migrant worker employed as a shepherdess for a family farm is stranded on a remote mountain village in a Middle Eastern country for twenty one years. She endures the harsh mountain cold, threats of imprisonment and deportation from the authorities, homesickness, unpaid salaries that has accumulated over the years, near insanity, and isolation in a foreign country that is hostile, while at the same time, a country that is holy and beautiful.

Leonora earns a small monthly salary of 180 USD which she sends regularly to her family in the Philippines. Her meager salary was able to feed her family throughout the years and it was also able to send her only daughter Rubirosa to the university. Leonora?s faith in God, her unconditional love for her family, and her golden heart makes her endure all the hardships in the host country for 21 years.