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by Alejandro Roces
We Filipinos are mild drinkers. We drink for only three good reasons. We drink when we
are very happy. We drink when we are very sad. And we drink for any other reason.
When the Americans recaptured the Philippines, they built an air base a few miles from
our barrio. Yankee soldiers became a very common sight. I met a lot of GIs and made
many friends. I could not pronounce their names. I could not tell them apart. All
Americans looked alike to me. They all looked white.
One afternoon I was plowing our rice field with our carabao named Datu. I was
barefooted and stripped to the waist. My pants that were made from abaca fibers and
woven on homemade looms were rolled up to my knees. My bolo was at my side.
An American soldier was walking on the highway. When he saw me, he headed toward
me. I stopped plowing and waited for him. I noticed he was carrying a half-pint bottle of
whiskey. Whiskey bottles seemed part of the American uniform.
Hello, my little brown brother, he said, patting me on the head.
Hello, Joe, I answered.
All Americans are called Joe in the Philippines.
I am sorry, Jose, I replied. There are no bars in this barrio.
Oh, hell! You know where I could buy more whiskey?
Here, have a swig. You have been working hard, he said, offering me his half-filled
No, thank you, Joe, I said. We Filipinos are mild drinkers.
Well, dont you drink at all?
Yes, Joe, I drink, but not whiskey.
What the hell do you drink?
I drink lambanog.
Jungle juice, eh?
I guess that is what the GIs call it.
You know where I could buy some?
I have some you can have, but I do not think you will like it.
Ill like it all right. Dont worry about that. I have drunk everythingwhiskey, rum,
brandy, tequila, gin, champagne, sake, vodka. . . . He mentioned many more that I
cannot spell.
I not only drink a lot, but I drink anything. I drank Chanel Number 5 when I was in
France. In New Guinea I got soused on Williams Shaving Lotion. When I was laid up in a
hospital I pie-eyed with medical alcohol. On my way here on a transport I got stoned on
torpedo juice. You aint kidding when you say I drink a lot. So lets have some of that
jungle juice, eh?
All right, I said. I will just take this carabao to the mud hole then we can go home and
You sure love that animal, dont you?
I should, I replied. It does half of my work.
Why dont you get two of them?
I didnt answer.
I unhitched Datu from the plow and led him to the mud hole. Joe was following me. Datu
lay in the mud and was going: Whooooosh! Whooooosh!
Flies and other insects flew from his back and hovered in the air. A strange warm odor
rose out of the muddle. A carabao does not have any sweat glands except on the nose. It
has to wallow in the mud or bathe in a river every three hours. Otherwise it runs amok.
Datu shook his head and his widespread horns scooped the muddy water on his back. He
rolled over and was soon covered with slimy mud. An expression of perfect contentment

came into his eyes. Then he swished his tail and Joe and I had to move back from the
mud hole to keep from getting splashed. I left Datu in the mud hole. Then turning to Joe, I
said.Let us go.
by Carlos Bulosan
When I was four, I lived with my mother and brothers and sisters in a small town on the
island of Luzon. Fathers farm had been destroyed in 1918 by one of our sudden
Philippine floods, so for several years afterward we all lived in the town, though he
preffered living in the country. We had a next-door neighbor, a very rich man, whose sons
and daughters seldom came out of the house. While we boys and girls played and sand
in the sun, his children stayed inside and kept the windows closed. His house was so tall
that his children could look in the windows of our house and watch us as we played, or
slept, or ate, when there was any food in the house to eat.
Now, this rich mans servants were always frying and cooking something good, and the
aroma of the food was wafted down to us from the windows of the big house. We hung
about and took all the wonderful smell of the food into our beings. Sometimes, in the
morning, our whole family stood outside the windows of the rich mans house and
listened to the musical sizzling of thick strips of bacon or ham. I can remember one
afternoon when our neighbors servants roasted three chickens. The chickens were young
and tender and the fat that dripped into the burning coals gave off an enchanting odor.
We watched the servants turn the beautiful birds and inhaled the heavenly spirit that
drifted out to us.
Some days the rich man appeared at a window and glowered down at us. He looked at us
one by one, as though he were condemning us. We were all healthy because we went out
in the sun every day and bathed in the cool water of the river that flowed from the
mountains into the sea. Sometimes we wrestled with one another in the house before we
went out to play.
We were always in the best of spirits and our laughter was contagious. Other neighbors
who passed by our house often stopped in our yard and joined us in our laughter.
Laughter was our only wealth. Father was a laughing man. He would go in to the living
room and stand in front of the tall mirror, stretching his mouth into grotesque shapes
with his fingers and making faces at himself, and then he would rush into the kitchen,
roaring with laughter.
There was plenty to make us laugh. There was, for instance, the day one of my brothers
came home and brought a small bundle under his arm, pretending that he brought
something to eat, maybe a leg of lamb or something as extravagant as that to make our
mouths water. He rushed to mother and through the bundle into her lap. We all stood
around, watching mother undo the complicated strings. Suddenly a black cat leaped out
of the bundle and ran wildly around the house. Mother chased my brother and beat him
with her little fists, while the rest of us bent double, choking with laughter.
Another time one of my sisters suddenly started screaming in the middle of the night.
Mother reached her first and tried to calm her. My sister criedand groaned. When father
lifted the lamp, my sister stared at us with shame in her eyes.
What is it? other asked.
Im pregnant! she cried.
Dont be a fool! Father shouted.
Youre only a child, Mother said.
Im pregnant, I tell you! she cried.
Father knelt by my sister. He put his hand on her belly and rubbed it gently. How do you

know you are pregnant? he asked.
Feel it! she cried.
We put our hands on her belly. There was something moving inside. Father was
frightened. Mother was shocked. Whos the man? she asked.
Theres no man, my sister said.
What is it then? Father asked.
Suddenly my sister opened her blouse and a bullfrog jumped out. Mother fainted, father
dropped the lamp, the oil spilled on the floor, and my sisters blanket caught fire. One of
my brothers laughed so hard he rolled on the floor.
by Nick Joaquin

THE MORETAS were spending St. Johns Day with the childrens grandfather, whose feast
day it was. Doa Lupeng awoke feeling faint with the heat, a sound of screaming in her
ears. In the dining room the three boys already attired in their holiday suits, were at
breakfast, and came crowding around her, talking all at once.
How long you have slept, Mama!
We thought you were never getting up!
Do we leave at once, huh? Are we going now?
Hush, hush I implore you! Now look: your father has a headache, and so have I. So be
quiet this instantor no one goes to Grandfather.
Though it was only seven by the clock the house was already a furnace, the windows
dilating with the harsh light and the air already burning with the immense, intense fever
of noon.
She found the childrens nurse working in the kitchen. And why is it you who are
preparing breakfast? Where is Amada? But without waiting for an answer she went to
the backdoor and opened it, and the screaming in her ears became wild screaming in the
stables across the yard. Oh my God! she groaned and, grasping her skirts, hurried
across the yard.
In the stables Entoy, the driver, apparently deaf to the screams, was hitching the pair of
piebald ponies to the coach.
Not the closed coach, Entoy! The open carriage! shouted Doa Lupeng as she came up.
But the dust, seora
I know, but better to be dirty than to be boiled alive. And what ails your wife, eh? Have
you been beating her again?
Oh no, seora: I have not touched her.
Then why is she screaming? Is she ill?
I do not think so. But how do I know? You can go and see for yourself, seora. She is up
When Doa Lupeng entered the room, the big half-naked woman sprawled across the
bamboo bed stopped screaming. Doa Lupeng was shocked.

What is this Amada? Why are you still in bed at this hour? And in such a posture! Come,
get up at once. You should be ashamed!
But the woman on the bed merely stared. Her sweat-beaded brows contracted, as if in an
effort to understand. Then her face relax her mouth sagged open humorously and, rolling
over on her back and spreading out her big soft arms and legs, she began noiselessly
quaking with laughterthe mute mirth jerking in her throat; the moist pile of her flesh
quivering like brown jelly. Saliva dribbled from the corners of her mouth.
Doa Lupeng blushed, looking around helplessly, and seeing that Entoy had followed and
was leaning in the doorway, watching stolidly, she blushed again. The room reeked hotly
of intimate odors. She averted her eyes from the laughing woman on the bed, in whose
nakedness she seemed so to participate that she was ashamed to look directly at the
man in the doorway.
Tell me, Entoy: has she had been to the Tadtarin?
Yes, seora. Last night.
But I forbade her to go! And I forbade you to let her go!
I could do nothing.
Why, you beat her at the least pretext!
But now I dare not touch her.
Oh, and why not?
It is the day of St. John: the spirit is in her.
But, man
It is true, seora. The spirit is in her. She is the Tadtarin. She must do as she pleases.
Otherwise, the grain would not grow, the trees would bear no fruit, the rivers would give
no fish, and the animals would die.

by Jose Garcia Villa

The sun was salmon and hazy in the west. Dodong thought to himself he would tell his
father about Teang when he got home, after he had unhitched the carabao from the
plow, and let it to its shed and fed it. He was hesitant about saying it, but he wanted his
father to know. What he had to say was of serious import as it would mark a climacteric
in his life. Dodong finally decided to tell it, at a thought came to him his father might
refuse to consider it. His father was silent hard-working farmer who chewed areca nut,
which he had learned to do from his mother, Dodongs grandmother.
I will tell it to him. I will tell it to him.
The ground was broken up into many fresh wounds and fragrant with a sweetish earthy
smell. Many slender soft worms emerged from the furrows and then burrowed again
deeper into the soil. A short colorless worm marched blindly to Dodongs foot and
crawled calmly over it. Dodong go tickled and jerked his foot, flinging the worm into the
air. Dodong did not bother to look where it fell, but thought of his age, seventeen, and he
said to himself he was not young any more.
Dodong unhitched the carabao leisurely and gave it a healthy tap on the hip. The beast
turned its head to look at him with dumb faithful eyes. Dodong gave it a slight push and

the animal walked alongside him to its shed. He placed bundles of grass before it land
the carabao began to eat. Dodong looked at it without interests.
Dodong started homeward, thinking how he would break his news to his father. He
wanted to marry, Dodong did. He was seventeen, he had pimples on his face, the down
on his upper lip already was darkthese meant he was no longer a boy. He was growing
into a manhe was a man. Dodong felt insolent and big at the thought of it although he
was by nature low in statue. Thinking himself a man grown, Dodong felt he could do
He walked faster, prodded by the thought of his virility. A small angled stone bled his
foot, but he dismissed it cursorily. He lifted his leg and looked at the hurt toe and then
went on walking. In the cool sundown he thought wild you dreams of himself and Teang.
Teang, his girl. She had a small brown face and small black eyes and straight glossy hair.
How desirable she was to him. She made him dream even during the day.
Dodong tensed with desire and looked at the muscles of his arms. Dirty. This field
work was healthy, invigorating but it begrimed you, smudged you terribly. He turned
back the way he had come, then he marched obliquely to a creek.
Dodong stripped himself and laid his clothes, a gray undershirt and red kundiman shorts,
on the grass. The he went into the water, wet his body over, and rubbed at it vigorously.
He was not long in bathing, then he marched homeward again. The bath made him feel
It was dusk when he reached home. The petroleum lamp on the ceiling already was
lighted and the low unvarnished square table was set for supper. His parents and he sat
down on the floor around the table to eat. They had fried fresh-water fish, rice, bananas,
and caked sugar.
Dodong ate fish and rice, but did not partake of the fruit. The bananas were overripe and
when one held them they felt more fluid than solid. Dodong broke off a piece of the cakes
sugar, dipped it in his glass of water and ate it. He got another piece and wanted some
more, but he thought of leaving the remainder for his parents.
Dodongs mother removed the dishes when they were through and went out to the
batalan to wash them. She walked with slow careful steps and Dodong wanted to help
her carry the dishes out, but he was tired and now felt lazy. He wished as he looked at
her that he had a sister who could help his mother in the housework. He pitied her, doing
all the housework alone.
His father remained in the room, sucking a diseased tooth. It was paining him again,
Dodong knew. Dodong had told him often and again to let the town dentist pull it out, but
he was afraid, his father was. He did not tell that to Dodong, but Dodong guessed it.
Afterward Dodong himself thought that if he had a decayed tooth he would be afraid to
go to the dentist; he would not be any bolder than his father.
Dodong said while his mother was out that he was going to marry Teang.
by Aida L. Rivera

Tinang stopped before the Seoras gate and adjusted the babys cap. The dogs that
came to bark at the gate were strange dogs, big-mouthed animals with a sense of
superiority. They stuck their heads through the hogfence, lolling their tongues and
straining. Suddenly, from the gumamela row, a little black mongrel emerged and
slithered through the fence with ease. It came to her, head down and body quivering.

Bantay. Ay, Bantay! she exclaimed as the little dog laid its paws upon her shirt to sniff
the baby on her arm. The baby was afraid and cried. The big animals barked with
Tito, the young master, had seen her and was calling to his mother. Ma, its Tinang. Ma,
Ma, its Tinang. He came running down to open the gate.
Aba, you are so tall now, Tito.
He smiled his girls smile as he stood by, warding the dogs off. Tinang passed quickly up
the veranda stairs lined with ferns and many-colored bougainville. On landing, she
paused to wipe her shoes carefully. About her, the Seoras white and lavender butterfly
orchids fluttered delicately in the sunshine. She noticed though that the purple walingwaling that had once been her task to shade from the hot sun with banana leaves and to
water with mixture of charcoal and eggs and water was not in bloom.
Is no one covering the waling-waling now? Tinang asked. It will die.
Oh, the maid will come to cover the orchids later.
The Seora called from inside. Tinang, let me see your baby. Is it a boy?
Yes, Ma, Tito shouted from downstairs. And the ears are huge!
What do you expect, replied his mother; the father is a Bagobo. Even Tinang looks like
a Bagobo now.
Tinang laughed and felt warmness for her former mistress and the boy Tito. She sat selfconsciously on the black narra sofa, for the first time a visitor. Her eyes clouded. The
sight of the Seoras flaccidly plump figure, swathed in a loose waist-less housedress that
came down to her ankles, and the faint scent of agua de colonia blended with kitchen
spice, seemed to her the essence of the comfortable world, and she sighed thinking of
the long walk home through the mud, the babys legs straddled to her waist, and Inggo,
her husband, waiting for her, his body stinking of tuba and sweat, squatting on the floor,
clad only in his foul undergarments.
Ano, Tinang, is it not a good thing to be married? the Seora asked, pitying Tinang
because her dress gave way at the placket and pressed at her swollen breasts. It was, as
a matter of fact, a dress she had given Tinang a long time ago.
It is hard, Seora, very hard. Better that I were working here again.
There! the Seora said. Didnt I tell you what it would be like, huh? . . . that you would
be a slave to your husband and that you would work a baby eternally strapped to you.
Are you not pregnant again?
Tinang squirmed at the Seoras directness but admitted she was.
Hala! You will have a dozen before long. The Seora got up. Come, I will give you
some dresses and an old blanket that you can cut into things for the baby.
They went into a cluttered room which looked like a huge closet and as the Seora sorted
out some clothes, Tinang asked, How is Seor?
Ay, he is always losing his temper over the tractor drivers. It is not the way it was when
Amado was here. You remember what a good driver he was. The tractors were always
kept in working condition. But now . . . I wonder why he left all of a sudden. He said he
would be gone for only two days . . . .
I dont know, Tinang said. The baby began to cry. Tinang shushed him with irritation.
Oy, Tinang, come to the kitchen; your Bagobito is hungry.
For the next hour, Tinang sat in the kitchen with an odd feeling; she watched the girl who
was now in possession of the kitchen work around with a handkerchief clutched I one
hand. She had lipstick on too, Tinang noted. the girl looked at her briefly but did not
smile. She set down a can of evaporated milk for the baby and served her coffee and
cake. The Seora drank coffee with her and lectured about keeping the babys stomach
bound and training it to stay by itself so she could work.

by Bienvenido Santos

I arrived in Kalamazoo it was October and the war was still on. Gold and silver stars hung
on pennants above silent windows of white and brick-red cottages. In a backyard an old
man burned leaves and twigs while a gray-haired woman sat on the porch, her red hands
quiet on her lap, watching the smoke rising above the elms, both of them thinking the
same thought perhaps, about a tall, grinning boy with his blue eyes and flying hair, who
went out to war: where could he be now this month when leaves were turning into gold
and the fragrance of gathered apples was in the wind?
It was a cold night when I left my room at the hotel for a usual speaking engagement. I
walked but a little way. A heavy wind coming up from Lake Michigan was icy on the face.
If felt like winter straying early in the northern woodlands. Under the lampposts the
leaves shone like bronze. And they rolled on the pavements like the ghost feet of a
thousand autumns long dead, long before the boys left for faraway lands without great
icy winds and promise of winter early in the air, lands without apple trees, the singing
and the gold!
It was the same night I met Celestino Fabia, "just a Filipino farmer" as he called himself,
who had a farm about thirty miles east of Kalamazoo.
"You came all that way on a night like this just to hear me talk?"
"I've seen no Filipino for so many years now," he answered quickly. "So when I saw your
name in the papers where it says you come from the Islands and that you're going to
talk, I come right away."
Earlier that night I had addressed a college crowd, mostly women. It appeared they
wanted me to talk about my country, they wanted me to tell them things about it
because my country had become a lost country. Everywhere in the land the enemy
stalked. Over it a great silence hung, and their boys were there, unheard from, or they
were on their way to some little known island on the Pacific, young boys all, hardly men,
thinking of harvest moons and the smell of forest fire.
It was not hard talking about our own people. I knew them well and I loved them. And
they seemed so far away during those terrible years that I must have spoken of them
with a little fervor, a little nostalgia.
In the open forum that followed, the audience wanted to know whether there was much
difference between our women and the American women. I tried to answer the question
as best I could, saying, among other things, that I did not know that much about
American women, except that they looked friendly, but differences or similarities in inner
qualities such as naturally belonged to the heart or to the mind, I could only speak about
with vagueness.
While I was trying to explain away the fact that it was not easy to make comparisons, a
man rose from the rear of the hall, wanting to say something. In the distance, he looked
slight and old and very brown. Even before he spoke, I knew that he was, like me, a
"I'm a Filipino," he began, loud and clear, in a voice that seemed used to wide open
spaces, "I'm just a Filipino farmer out in the country." He waved his hand toward the door.
"I left the Philippines more than twenty years ago and have never been back. Never will
perhaps. I want to find out, sir, are our Filipino women the same like they were twenty
years ago?"
As he sat down, the hall filled with voices, hushed and intrigued. I weighed my answer
carefully. I did not want to tell a lie yet I did not want to say anything that would seem

platitudinous, insincere. But more important than these considerations, it seemed to me
that moment as I looked towards my countryman, I must give him an answer that would
not make him so unhappy. Surely, all these years, he must have held on to certain ideals,
certain beliefs, even illusions peculiar to the exile.
"First," I said as the voices gradually died down and every eye seemed upon me, "First,
tell me what our women were like twenty years ago."
The man stood to answer. "Yes," he said, "you're too young . . . Twenty years ago our
women were nice, they were modest, they wore their hair long, they dressed proper and
went for no monkey business. They were natural, they went to church regular, and they
were faithful." He had spoken slowly, and now in what seemed like an afterthought,
added, "It's the men who ain't."
by Arturo B. Rotor

TURONG brought him from Pauambang in his small sailboat, for the coastwise steamer
did not stop at any little island of broken cliffs and coconut palms. It was almost midday;
they had been standing in that white glare where the tiniest pebble and fluted conch had
become points of light, piercing-bright--the municipal president, the parish priest, Don
Eliodoro who owned almost all the coconuts, the herb doctor, the village character. Their
mild surprise over when he spoke in their native dialect, they looked at him more closely
and his easy manner did not deceive them. His head was uncovered and he had a way of
bringing the back of his hand to his brow or mouth; they read behind that too, it was not
a gesture of protection. "An exile has come to Anayat and he is so young, so young." So
young and lonely and sufficient unto himself. There was no mistaking the stamp of a
strong decision on that brow, the brow of those who have to be cold and haughty, those
shoulders stooped slightly, less from the burden that they bore than from a carefully
cultivated air of unconcern; no common school-teacher could dress so carelessly and not
appear shoddy.
They had prepared a room for him in Don Eliodoro's house so that he would not have to
walk far to school every morning, but he gave nothing more than a glance at the big
stone building with its Spanish azotea, its arched doorways, its flagged courtyard. He
chose instead Turong's home, a shaky hut near the sea. Was the sea rough and
dangerous at times? He did not mind it. Was the place far from the church and the
schoolhouse? The walk would do him good. Would he not feel lonely with nobody but an
illiterate fisherman for a companion? He was used to living alone. And they let him do as
he wanted, for the old men knew that it was not so much the nearness of the sea that he
desired as its silence so that he might tell it secrets he could not tell anyone else.
They thought of nobody but him; they talked about him in the barber shop, in the
cockpit, in the sari-sari store, the way he walked, the way he looked at you, his unruly
hair. They dressed him in purple and linen, in myth and mystery, put him astride a black
stallion, at the wheel of a blue automobile. Mr. Reteche? Mr. Reteche! The name
suggested the fantasy and the glitter of a place and people they never would see; he was
the scion of a powerful family, a poet and artist, a prince.
That night, Don Eliodoro had the story from his daughter of his first day in the classroom;
she perched wide-eyed, low-voiced, short of breath on the arm of his chair.
"He strode into the room, very tall and serious and polite, stood in front of us and looked
at us all over and yet did not seem to see us.

" 'Good morning, teacher,' we said timidly.
"He bowed as if we were his equals. He asked for the fist of our names and as he read off
each one we looked at him long. When he came to my name, Father, the most surprising
thing happened. He started pronouncing it and then he stopped as if he had forgotten
something and just stared and stared at the paper in his hand. I heard my name repeated
three times through his half-closed lips, 'Zita. Zita. Zita.'
" 'Yes sir, I am Zita.'
"He looked at me uncomprehendingly, inarticulate, and it seemed to me, Father, it
actually seemed that he was begging me to tell him that that was not my name, that I
was deceiving him. He looked so miserable and sick I felt like sinking down or running
" 'Zita is not your name; it is just a pet name, no?'
" 'My father has always called me that, sir.'
" 'It can't be; maybe it is Pacita or Luisa or--'
"His voice was scarcely above a whisper, Father, and all the while he looked at me
begging, begging. I shook my head determinedly. My answer must have angered him. He
must have thought I was very hard-headed, for he said, 'A thousand miles, Mother of
Mercy it is not possible.' He kept on looking at me; he was hurt perhaps that he should
have such a stubborn pupil. But I am not really so, Father?"
"Yes, you are, my dear. But you must try to please him, he is a gentleman; he comes from
the city. I was thinking Private lessons, perhaps, if he won't ask too much." Don Eliodoro
had his dreams and she was his only daughter.
by Manuel Arguilla

She stepped down from the carretela of Ca Celin with a quick, delicate grace. She was
lovely. SHe was tall. She looked up to my brother with a smile, and her forehead was on a
level with his mouth.
"You are Baldo," she said and placed her hand lightly on my shoulder. Her nails were
long, but they were not painted. She was fragrant like a morning when papayas are in
bloom. And a small dimple appeared momently high on her right cheek. "And this is
Labang of whom I have heard so much." She held the wrist of one hand with the other
and looked at Labang, and Labang never stopped chewing his cud. He swallowed and
brought up to his mouth more cud and the sound of his insides was like a drum.
I laid a hand on Labang's massive neck and said to her: "You may scratch his forehead
She hesitated and I saw that her eyes were on the long, curving horns. But she came and
touched Labang's forehead with her long fingers, and Labang never stopped chewing his
cud except that his big eyes half closed. And by and by she was scratching his forehead
very daintily.
My brother Leon put down the two trunks on the grassy side of the road. He paid Ca Celin
twice the usual fare from the station to the edge of Nagrebcan. Then he was standing
beside us, and she turned to him eagerly. I watched Ca Celin, where he stood in front of
his horse, and he ran his fingers through its forelock and could not keep his eyes away

from her.
"Maria---" my brother Leon said.
He did not say Maring. He did not say Mayang. I knew then that he had always called her
Maria and that to us all she would be Maria; and in my mind I said 'Maria' and it was a
beautiful name.
"Yes, Noel."
Now where did she get that name? I pondered the matter quietly to myself, thinking
Father might not like it. But it was only the name of my brother Leon said backward and it
sounded much better that way.
"There is Nagrebcan, Maria," my brother Leon said, gesturing widely toward the west.
She moved close to him and slipped her arm through his. And after a while she said
"You love Nagrebcan, don't you, Noel?"
Ca Celin drove away hi-yi-ing to his horse loudly. At the bend of the camino real where
the big duhat tree grew, he rattled the handle of his braided rattan whip against the
spokes of the wheel.
We stood alone on the roadside.
The sun was in our eyes, for it was dipping into the bright sea. The sky was wide and
deep and very blue above us: but along the saw-tooth rim of the Katayaghan hills to the
southwest flamed huge masses of clouds. Before us the fields swam in a golden haze
through which floated big purple and red and yellow bubbles when I looked at the sinking
sun. Labang's white coat, which I had wshed and brushed that morning with coconut
husk, glistened like beaten cotton under the lamplight and his horns appeared tipped
with fire.

MAY Day Eve

By Nick Joaquin

The old people had ordered that the dancing should stop at ten oclock but it was almost
midnight before the carriages came filing up the departing guests, while the girls who
were staying were promptly herded upstairs to the bedrooms, the young men gathering
around to wish them a good night and lamenting their ascent with mock signs and
moaning, proclaiming themselves disconsolate but straightway going off to finish the
punch and the brandy though they were quite drunk already and simply bursting with
wild spirits, merriment, arrogance and audacity, for they were young bucks newly arrived
from Europe; the ball had been in their honor; and they had waltzed and polka-ed and

bragged and swaggered and flirted all night and where in no mood to sleep yet--no,
caramba, not on this moist tropic eve! not on this mystic May eve! --with the night still
young and so seductive that it was madness not to go out, not to go forth---and serenade
the neighbors! cried one; and swim in the Pasid! cried another; and gather fireflies! cried
a thirdwhereupon there arose a great clamor for coats and capes, for hats and canes,
and they were a couple of street-lamps flickered and a last carriage rattled away upon
the cobbles while the blind black houses muttered hush-hush, their tile roofs looming like
sinister chessboards against a wile sky murky with clouds, save where an evil young
moon prowled about in a corner or where a murderous wind whirled, whistling and
whining, smelling now of the sea and now of the summer orchards and wafting
unbearable childhood fragrances or ripe guavas to the young men trooping so
uproariously down the street that the girls who were desiring upstairs in the bedrooms
catered screaming to the windows, crowded giggling at the windows, but were soon
sighing amorously over those young men bawling below; over those wicked young men
and their handsome apparel, their proud flashing eyes, and their elegant mustaches so
black and vivid in the moonlight that the girls were quite ravished with love, and began
crying to one another how carefree were men but how awful to be a girl and what a
horrid, horrid world it was, till old Anastasia plucked them off by the ear or the pigtail and
chases them off to bed---while from up the street came the clackety-clack of the
watchmans boots on the cobble and the clang-clang of his lantern against his knee, and
the mighty roll of his great voice booming through the night, "Guardia serno-o-o! A las
doce han dado-o-o.And it was May again, said the old Anastasia. It was the first day of
May and witches were abroad in the night, she said--for it was a night of divination, and
night of lovers, and those who cared might peer into a mirror and would there behold the
face of whoever it was they were fated to marry, said the old Anastasia as she hobble
about picking up the piled crinolines and folding up shawls and raking slippers in corner
while the girls climbing into four great poster-beds that overwhelmed the room began
shrieking with terror, scrambling over each other and imploring the old woman not to
frighten them.
"Enough, enough, Anastasia! We want to sleep!"
"Go scare the boys instead, you old witch!"
"She is not a witch, she is a maga. She is a maga. She was born of Christmas Eve!"
"St. Anastasia, virgin and martyr."
"Huh? Impossible! She has conquered seven husbands! Are you a virgin, Anastasia?"
"No, but I am seven times a martyr because of you girls!"
"Let her prophesy, let her prophesy! Whom will I marry, old gypsy? Come, tell me."
"You may learn in a mirror if you are not afraid."

"I am not afraid, I will go," cried the young cousin Agueda, jumping up in bed.
"Girls, girls---we are making too much noise! My mother will hear and will come and
pinch us all. Agueda, lie down! And you Anastasia, I command you to shut your mouth
and go away!""Your mother told me to stay here all night, my grand lady!"
"And I will not lie down!" cried the rebellious Agueda, leaping to the floor. "Stay, old
woman. Tell me what I have to do."
"Tell her! Tell her!" chimed the other girls.
The old woman dropped the clothes she had gathered and approached and fixed her
eyes on the girl. "You must take a candle," she instructed, "and go into a room that is
dark and that has a mirror in it and you must be alone in the room. Go up to the mirror
and close your eyes and shy:
By Edilberto K. Tiempo
When I was twelve years old, I used to go to Libas, about nine kilometers from the town,
to visit my favorite uncle, Tio Sabelo, the head teacher of the barrio school there. I like
going to Libas because of the many things to eat at my uncles house: cane sugar syrup,
candied meat of young coconut, corn and rice cakes, ripe jackfruit, guavas from trees
growing wild on a hill not far from Tio Sabelos
house. It was through these visits that I heard many strange stories about Minggay Awok.
Awok is the word for witch in southern Leyte. Minggay was known as a witch even
beyond Libas, in five outlying sitios, and considering that not uncommonly a mans
nearest neighbor was two or three hills away, her notoriety was wide. Minggay lived in a
small, low hut as the back of the creek separating the barrios of Libas and Sinit-an. It
squatted like a soaked hen on a steep incline and below it, six or seven meters away, two
trails forked, one going to Libas and the other to Mahangin, a mountain sitio. The hut
leaned dangerously to the side where the creek water ate away large chunks of earth
during the rainy season. It had two small openings, a small door through which Minggay
probably had to stoop to pass, and a window about two feet square facing the creek. The
window was screened by a frayed jute sacking which fluttered eerily even in the daytime.
What she had in the hut nobody seemed to know definitely. One daring fellow who
boasted of having gone inside it when Minggay was out in her clearing on a hill nearby
said he had seen dirty stoppered bottles hanging from the bamboo slats of the cogon
thatch. Some of the bottles contained scorpions, centipedes, beetles, bumble bees, and
other insects; others were filled with ash-colored powder and dark liquids. These bottles
contained the paraphernalia of her witchcraft. Two or three small bottles she always had
with her hanging on her waistband with a bunch of iron keys, whether she went to her
clearing or to the creek to catch shrimps or gather fresh-water shells, or even when she
It was said that those who had done her wrong never escaped her vengeance, in the

form of festering carbuncles, chronic fevers that caused withering of the skin, or a certain
disease of the nose that eventually ate the nose out. Using an incantation known only to
her, Minggay would take out one insect from a bottle, soak it in colored liquid or roll it in
powder, and with a curse let it go to the body of her victim; the insect might be removed
and the disease cured only rarely through intricate rituals of an expensive tambalan.
Thus Minggay was feared in Libas and the surrounding barrios. There had been attempts
to murder her, but in some mysterious way she always came out unscathed. A man set
fire to her hut one night, thinking to burn her with it. The hut quickly burned down, but
Minggay was unharmed. On another occasion a man openly declared that he had killed
her, showing the blood-stained bolo with which he had stabbed her; a week later she was
seen hobbling to her clearing. This man believed Minggay was the cause of the rash that
his only child had been carrying for over a year. One day, so the story went, meeting his
wife, Minggay asked to hold her child. She didnt want to offend Minggay. As the witch
gave the child back she said, He has a very smooth skin. A few days later the boy had
skin eruptions all over his body that never left him.
Minggays only companions were a lean, barren sow and a few chickens, all of them
charcoal black. The sow and the chickens were allowed to wander in the fields, and even
if the sow dug up sweet potatoes and the chickens pecked rice or corn grain drying in the
sun, they were not driven away by the neighbors because they were afraid to arouse
Minggays wrath.
Besides the sow and the chickens, Minggay was known to have a wakwak and a sigbin.
Those who claimed to have seen the sigbin described it as a queer animal resembling a
kangaroo: the forelegs were shorter than the hind ones: its fanlike ears made a flapping
sound when it walked. The wakwak was a nocturnal bird, as big and black as a crow. It
gave out raucous cries when a person in the neighborhood had just died. The bird was
supposed to be Minggays messenger, and the sigbin caried her to the grave; then the
witch dug up the corpse and feasted on it. The times when I passed by the hut and saw
her lean sow and her black chickens, I wondered if they transformed themselves into
fantastic creatures at night. Even in the daytime I dreaded the possibility of meeting her;
she might accost me on the trail near her hut, say something about my face or any part
of it, and then I might live the rest of my life with a harelip, a sunken nose, or crossed
By Amador Daguio

Awiyao reached for the upper horizontal log which served as the edge of the headhigh
threshold. Clinging to the log, he lifted himself with one bound that carried him across to
the narrow door. He slid back the cover, stepped inside, then pushed the cover back in
place. After some moments during which he seemed to wait, he talked to the listening
"I'm sorry this had to be done. I am really sorry. But neither of us can help it."
The sound of the gangsas beat through the walls of the dark house like muffled roars of

falling waters. The woman who had moved with a start when the sliding door opened had
been hearing the gangsas for she did not know how long. There was a sudden rush of fire
in her. She gave no sign that she heard Awiyao, but continued to sit unmoving in the
But Awiyao knew that she heard him and his heart pitied her. He crawled on all fours to
the middle of the room; he knew exactly where the stove was. With bare fingers he
stirred the covered smoldering embers, and blew into the stove. When the coals began to
glow, Awiyao put pieces of pine on them, then full round logs as his arms. The room
"Why don't you go out," he said, "and join the dancing women?" He felt a pang inside
him, because what he said was really not the right thing to say and because the woman
did not stir. "You should join the dancers," he said, "as if--as if nothing had happened." He
looked at the woman huddled in a corner of the room, leaning against the wall. The stove
fire played with strange moving shadows and lights
upon her face. She was partly sullen, but her sullenness was not because of anger or
"Go out--go out and dance. If you really don't hate me for this separation, go out and
dance. One of the men will see you dance well; he will like your dancing, he will marry
you. Who knows but that, with him, you will be luckier than you were with me."
"I don't want any man," she said sharply. "I don't want any other man."
He felt relieved that at least she talked: "You know very well that I won't want any other
woman either. You know that, don't you? Lumnay, you know it, don't you?"
She did not answer him.
"You know it Lumnay, don't you?" he repeated.
"Yes, I know," she said weakly.
"It is not my fault," he said, feeling relieved. "You cannot blame me; I have been a good
husband to you."
"Neither can you blame me," she said. She seemed about to cry.
"No, you have been very good to me. You have been a good wife. I have nothing to say
against you." He set some of the burning wood in place. "It's only that a man must have
a child. Seven harvests is just too long to wait. Yes, we have waited too long. We should
have another chance before it is too late for both of us."
This time the woman stirred, stretched her right leg out and bent her left leg in. She
wound the blanket more snugly around herself.
"You know that I have done my best," she said. "I have prayed to Kabunyan much. I have
sacrificed many chickens in my prayers."
"Yes, I know."
"You remember how angry you were once when you came home from your work in the
terrace because I butchered one of our pigs without your permission? I did it to appease
Kabunyan, because, like you, I wanted to have a child. But what could I do?"
"Kabunyan does not see fit for us to have a child," he said. He stirred the fire. The spark
rose through the crackles of the flames. The smoke and soot went up the ceiling.
Lumnay looked down and unconsciously started to pull at the rattan that kept the split
bamboo flooring in place. She tugged at the rattan flooring. Each time she did this the
split bamboo went up and came down with a slight rattle. The gong of the dancers

clamorously called in her care through the walls.
Awiyao went to the corner where Lumnay sat, paused before her, looked at her bronzed
and sturdy face, then turned to where the jars of water stood piled one over the other.
Awiyao took a coconut cup and dipped it in the top jar and drank. Lumnay had filled the
jars from the mountain creek early that evening.
"I came home," he said. "
(American Colonial Literature)
By Manuel E. Arguilla
He pulled down his hat until the wide brim touched his shoulders. He crouched lower
under the cover of his cart and peered ahead. The road seemed to writhe under the lash
of the noon-day heat; it swum from side to side, humped and bent itself like a feeling
serpent, and disappeared behind the spur of a low hill on which grew a scrawny thicket of
There was not a house in sight. Along the left side of the road ran the deep, dry gorge of
a stream, the banks sparsely covered by sun-burned cogon grass. In places, the rocky,
waterless bed showed aridly. Farther, beyond the shimmer of quivering heat waves rose
ancient hills not less blue than the cloud-palisaded sky. On the right stretched a land
waste of low rolling dunes. Scattered clumps of hardy ledda relieved the otherwise barren
monotony of the landscape. Far away he could discern a thin indigo line that was the sea.
The grating of the cartwheels on the pebbles of the road and the almost soundless
shuffle of the weary bull but emphasized the stillness. Now and then came the dry
rustling of falling earth as lumps from the cracked sides of the gorge fell down to the
He struck at the bull with the slack of the rope. The animal broke into a heavy trot. The
dust stirred slumbrously. The bull slowed down, threw up his head, and a glistening
thread of saliva spun out into the dry air. The dying rays of the sun were reflected in
points of light on the wet, heaving flanks.
The man in the cart did not notice the woman until she had rounded the spur of land and
stood unmoving beside the road, watching the cart and its occupant come toward her.
She was young, surprisingly sweet and fresh amidst her parched surroundings. A gaily
stripped kerchief covered her head, the ends tied at the nape of her neck. She wore a
homespun bodice of light red cloth with small white checks. Her skirt was also homespun
and showed a pattern of white checks with narrow stripes of yellow and red. With both
hands she held by the mouth a large, apparently empty, water jug, the cool red of which
blended well with her dress. She was barefoot.
She stood straight and still beside the road and regarded him with frank curiosity.
Suddenly she turned and disappeared into the dry gorge. Coming to where she had stood
a few moments before, he pulled up the bull and got out of the cart. He saw where a
narrow path had been cut into the bank and stood a while lost in thought, absently
wiping the perspiration from his face. Then he unhitched his bull and for a few moments,
with strong brown fingers, kneaded the hot neck of the beast. Driving the animal before
him, he followed the path. It led up the dry bed of the stream; the sharp fragments of

sun-heated rocks were like burning coals under his feet. There was no sign of the young
He came upon her beyond a bed in the gorge, where a big mango tree, which had partly
fallen from the side of the ravine, cast its cool shade over a well.
She had filled her jar and was rolling the kerchief around her hand into a flat coil which
she placed on her head. Without glancing at him, where he had stopped some distance
off, she sat down of her heels, gathering the fold of her skirt between her wide-spread
knees. She tilted the brimful jar to remove part of the water. One hand on the rim, the
other supporting the bottom, she began to raise it to her head. She knelt on one
kneeresting, for a moment, the jar onto her head, getting to her feet at the same time.
But she staggered a little and water splashed down on her breast. The single bodice
instantly clung to her bosom molding the twin hillocks of her breasts warmly brown
through the wet cloth. One arm remained uplifted, holding the jar, while the other shook
the clinging cloth free of her drenched flesh. Then not once having raised her eyes, she
passed by the young man, who stood mutely gazing beside his bull. The animal had
found some grass along the path and was industriously grazing.
He turned to watch the graceful figure beneath the jar until it vanished around a bend in
the path leading to the road. Then he led the bull to the well, and tethered it to a root of
the mango tree.
"The underpart of her arm is white and smooth," he said to his blurred image on the
water of the well, as he leaned over before lowering the bucket made of half a petroleum
can. "And her hair is thick and black." The bucket struck with a rattling impact. It filled
with one long gurgle. He threw his hat on the grass and pulled the bucket up with both
By Francisco Arcellana
For the Angeles family, Mr. Angeles'; homecoming from his periodic inspection trips was
always an occasion for celebration. But his homecoming--from a trip to the South--was
fated to be more memorable than, say, of the others.
He had written from Mariveles: "I have just met a marvelous matweaver--a real artist-and I shall have a surprise for you. I asked him to weave a sleeping-mat for every one of
the family. He is using many different colors and for each mat the dominant color is that
of our respective birthstones. I am sure that the children will be very pleased. I know you
will be. I can hardly wait to show them to you."
Nana Emilia read the letter that morning, and again and again every time she had a
chance to leave the kitchen. In the evening when all the children were home from school
she asked her oldest son, Jos, to read the letter at dinner table. The children became
very much excited about the mats, and talked about them until late into the night. This
she wrote her husband when she labored over a reply to him. For days after that, mats
continued to be the chief topic of conversation among the children.
Finally, from Lopez, Mr. Angeles wrote again: "I am taking the Bicol Express tomorrow. I
have the mats with me, and they are beautiful. God willing, I shall be home to join you at
The letter was read aloud during the noon meal. Talk about the mats flared up again like

"I like the feel of mats," Antonio, the third child, said. "I like the smell of new mats."
"Oh, but these mats are different," interposed Susanna, the fifth child. "They have our
names woven into them, and in our ascribed colors, too."
The children knew what they were talking about: they knew just what a decorative mat
was like; it was not anything new or strange in their experience. That was why they were
so excited about the matter. They had such a mat in the house, one they seldom used, a
mat older than any one of them.
This mat had been given to Nana Emilia by her mother when she and Mr. Angeles were
married, and it had been with them ever since. It had served on the wedding night, and
had not since been used except on special occasions.
It was a very beautiful mat, not really meant to be ordinarily used. It had green leaf
borders, and a lot of gigantic red roses woven into it. In the middle, running the whole
length of the mat, was the lettering: Emilia y Jaime Recuerdo
The letters were in gold.
Nana Emilia always kept that mat in her trunk. When any one of the family was taken ill,
the mat was brought out and the patient slept on it, had it all to himself. Every one of the
children had some time in their lives slept on it; not a few had slept on it more than once.
Most of the time the mat was kept in Nana Emilia's trunk, and when it was taken out and
spread on the floor the children were always around to watch. At first there had been
only Nana Emilia to see the mat spread. Then a child--a girl--watched with them. The
number of watchers increased as more children came.
The mat did not seem to age. It seemed to Nana Emilia always as new as when it had
been laid on the nuptial bed. To the children it seemed as new as the first time it was
spread before them. The folds and creases always new and fresh. The smell was always
the smell of a new mat. Watching the intricate design was an endless joy. The children's
pleasure at the golden letters even before they could work out the meaning was
boundless. Somehow they were always pleasantly shocked by the sight of the mat: so
delicate and so consummate the artistry of its weave.
Now, taking out that mat to spread had become a kind of ritual. The process had become
associated with illness in the family. Illness, even serious illness, had not been infrequent.
There had been deaths...
In the evening Mr. Angeles was with his family. He had brought the usual things home
with him. There was a lot of fruits, as always (his itinerary carried him through the fruitgrowing provinces): pineapples, lanzones, chicos, atis, santol, sandia, guyabano,
avocado, according to the season. He had also brought home a jar of preserved sweets
from Lopez.

by Manuel E. Arguilla

It was sunrise at Nagrebcan. The fine, bluish mist, low over the tobacco fields, was
lifting and thinning moment by moment. A ragged strip of mist, pulled away by the

morning breeze, had caught on the clumps of bamboo along the banks of the stream that
flowed to one side of the barrio. Before long the sun would top the Katayaghan hills, but
as yet no people were around. In the grey shadow of the hills, the barrio was gradually
awaking. Roosters crowed and strutted on the ground while hens hesitated on their
perches among the branches of the camanchile trees. Stray goats nibbled the weeds on
the sides of the road, and the bull carabaos tugged restively against their stakes.In the
early morning the puppies lay curled up together between their mothers paws under the
ladder of the house. Four puppies were all white like the mother. They had pink noses
and pink eyelids and pink mouths. The skin between their toes and on the inside of their
large, limp ears was pink. They had short sleek hair, for the mother licked them often.
The fifth puppy lay across the mothers neck. On the puppys back was a big black spot
like a saddle. The tips of its ears were black and so was a patch of hair on its chest.The
opening of the sawali door, its uneven bottom dragging noisily against the bamboo
flooring, aroused the mother dog and she got up and stretched and shook herself,
scattering dust and loose white hair. A rank doggy smell rose in the cool morning air. She
took a quick leap forward, clearing the puppies which had begun to whine about her,
wanting to suckle. She trotted away and disappeared beyond the house of a neighbor.The
puppies sat back on their rumps, whining. After a little while they lay down and went
back to sleep, the black-spotted puppy on top.Baldo stood at the threshold and rubbed
his sleep-heavy eyes with his fists. He must have been about ten years old, small for his
age, but compactly built, and he stood straight on his bony legs. He wore one of his
fathers discarded cotton undershirts.The boy descended the ladder, leaning heavily on
the single bamboo railing that served as a banister. He sat on the lowest step of the
ladder, yawning and rubbing his eyes one after the other. Bending down, he reached
between his legs for the black-spotted puppy. He held it to him, stroking its soft, warm
body. He blew on its nose. The puppy stuck out a small red tongue, lapping the air. It
whined eagerly. Baldo laughed a low gurgle.He rubbed his face against that of the dog.
He said softly, My puppy. My puppy. He said it many times. The puppy licked his ears,
his cheeks. When it licked his mouth, Baldo straightened up, raised the puppy on a level
with his eyes. You are a foolish puppy, he said, laughing. Foolish, foolish, foolish, he
said, rolling the puppy on his lap so that it howled.
The four other puppies awoke and came scrambling about Baldos legs. He put down
the black-spotted puppy and ran to the narrow foot bridge of woven split-bamboo
spanning the roadside ditch. When it rained, water from the roadway flowed under the
makeshift bridge, but it had not rained for a long time and the ground was dry and sandy.
Baldo sat on the bridge, digging his bare feet into the sand, feeling the cool particles
escaping between his toes. He whistled, a toneless whistle with a curious trilling to it
produced by placing the tongue against the lower teeth and then curving it up and down.
The whistle excited the puppies; they ran to the boy as fast as their unsteady legs
could carry them, barking choppy little barks.
Nana Elang, the mother of Baldo, now appeared in the doorway with handful of rice
straw. She called Baldo and told him to get some live coals from their neighbor.

Get two or three burning coals and bring them home on the rice straw, she said.
Do not wave the straw in the wind. If you do, it will catch fire before you get home. She
watched him run toward Ka Ikaos house where already smoke was rising through the
nipa roofing into the misty air. One or two empty carromatas drawn by sleepy little
ponies rattled along the pebbly street, bound for the railroad station.
Nana Elang must have been thirty, but she looked at least fifty. She was a thin, wispy
woman, with bony hands and arms. She had scanty, straight, graying hair which she
gathered behind her head in a small, tight knot. It made her look thinner than ever. Her
cheekbones seemed on the point of bursting through the dry, yellowish-brown skin.
Above a gray-checkered skirt, she wore a single wide-sleeved cotton blouse that ended
below her flat breasts. Sometimes when she stooped or reached up for anything, a
glimpse of the flesh at her waist showed in a dark, purplish band where the skirt had
been tied so often.


by Aida Rivera-Ford

He was my uncle because he married my aunt (even if he had not come to her these
past ten years), so when the papers brought the news of his death, I felt that some part
of me had died, too. I was boarding then at a big girls college in Manila and I remember
quite vividly that a few other girls were gathered about the lobby of our school, looking
very straight and proper since it was seven in the morning and the starch in our longsleeved uniform had not yet given way. I tried to be brave while I read that my uncle had
actually been the last of a distinct school of Philippine poets. I was still being brave all
the way down the lengthy eulogies, until I got to the line which said that he was the
sweetest lyre that ever throbbed with Malayan chords. Something caught at my throat
and I let out one sobthe rest merely followed. When the girls hurried over to me to see
what had happened, I could only point to the item on the front page with my uncles
picture taken when he was still handsome. Everybody suddenly spoke in a low voice and
Ning who worshipped me said that I shouldnt be so unhappy because my uncle was now
with the other great poets in heavenat which I really howled in earnest because my
uncle had not only deserted poor Aunt Sophia but had also been living with another
woman these many years and, most horrible of all, he had probably died in her embrace!
Perhaps I received an undue amount of commiseration for the death of the delinquent
husband of my aunt, but it wasnt my fault because I never really lied about anything;
only, nobody thought to ask me just how close an uncle he was. It wasnt my doing either
when, some months after his demise, my poem entitled The Rose Was Not So Fair O Alma
Mater was captioned by the niece of the late beloved Filipino Poet. And that having
been printed, I couldnt possibly refuse when I was asked to write on My UncleThe
Poetry of His Life. The article, as printed, covered only his boyhood and early manhood
because our adviser cut out everything that happened after he was married. She said

that the last half of his life was not exactly poetic, although I still maintain that in his
vices, as in his poetry, he followed closely the pattern of the great poets he admired. My
aunt used to relate that he was an extremely considerate manwhen he was sober, and
on those occasions he always tried to make up for his past sins. She said that he had
never meant to marry, knowing the kind of husband he would make, but that her beauty
drove him out of his right mind. My aunt always forgave him but one day she had more
than she could bear, and when he was really drunk, she tied him to a chair with a strong
rope to teach him a lesson. She never saw him drunk again, for as soon as he was able
to, he walked out the door and never came back. I was very little at that time, but I
remembered that shortly after he went away, my aunt put me in a car and sent me to his
hotel with a letter from her. Uncle ushered me into his room very formally and while I
looked all around the place, he prepared a special kind of lemonade for the two of us. I
was sorry he poured it out into wee glasses because it was unlike any lemonade I had
ever tasted. While I sipped solemnly at my glass, he inquired after my aunt. To my
surprise, I found myself answering with alacrity. I was happy to report all details of my
aunts health, including the number of crabs she ate for lunch and the amazing fact that
she was getting fatter and fatter without the benefit of Scotts Emulsion or Ovaltine at all.
Uncle smiled his beautiful sombre smile and drew some poems from his desk. He
scribbled a dedication on them and instructed me to give them to my aunt. I made much
show of putting the empty glass down but Uncle was dense to the hint. At the door,
however, he told me that I could have some lemonade every time I came to visit him.
Aunt Sophia was so pleased with the poems that she kissed me. And then all of a sudden
she looked at me queerly and made a most peculiar request of me. She asked me to say
ha-ha, and when I said ha-ha, she took me to the sink and began to wash the inside of
my mouth with soap and water while calling upon a dozen of the saints to witness the
act. I never got a taste of Uncles lemonade. It began to be a habit with Aunt Sophia to
drop in for a periodic recital of woe to which Mama was a sympathetic audience. The
topic of the conversation was always the latest low on Uncles state of misery. It gave
Aunt Sophia profound satisfaction to relay the report of friends on the number of creases
on Uncles shirt or the appalling decrease in his weight. To her, the fact that Uncle was
getting thinner proved conclusively that he was suffering as a result of the separation. It
looked as if Uncle would not be able to hold much longer, the way he was reported to be
thinner each time, because Uncle didnt have much weight to start with. The paradox of
the situation, however, was that Aunt Sophia was now crowding Mama off the sofa and
yet she wasnt looking very happy either.
by F. Sionil Jos

The first time Dayaw crossed the river, he felt fulfilled, as if he had finally passed the
greatest test of all. It was so unlike that leap over the flaming pit the feat of strength that

would have assured his father, the Ulo, that he was no weakling, that in spite of his
seeming indolence and love of poetry and singing, he was capable nonetheless of
courage as were the bravest warriors of Daya. All his life he had been cooped up like the
pigs his mother fattened in the pit before they were taken out for the feasts. Daya, after
all, was hemmed in to the east by the sea, vast and mysterious, and to the west, this
mighty river, for beyond it was forest and mountain, land of the Laga Laud, the ancient
and indomitable enemy of his people.
He had made the crossing at night after he had blackened his face and body with soot,
carrying with him nothing but a coil of maguey twine and his long knife, he had dashed
from the cover of reeds near the river's bank, for while Apo Bufan showed the way, it
would also reveal him to whoever watched the river. Days afterwards, he tried to fathom
the reasons for the deed, why he went alone, and for what. For one the river was there, a
barrier to knowledge of new things, new sights, and perhaps a new life. He was, indeed,
aglow with wanting to know; how many times he had mused, gazing at the changing
cloud patterns in the sky, the shapes of the waves as they broke and foamed on the
beach, the track of ants, the wheeling of birds they all seemed to follow a design that
could not know what lay beyond the river and the sea without crossing them.
Once, he climbed the lofty dalipawen at the edge of the communal farms and as if he
was on some promontory, he scanned the world around him the shining sea in the east
and beyond the green, mangy top of the forest, far down the horizon to the west, the
mountains, purplish green in the last light of day. He envied those who lived there for
they could see everything. Was it possible for them to know everything as well? Wading
across the river in the dry season was not difficult; there were islands of reeds and
upturned trees ragged down from the mountains with their catch of moss of dried leaves,
and clear pools where there would be silverfish and shells. This was how it felt then, to
ford this limit of what was safe. From the very beginning, it was dinned to him, and to all
the young Taga Daya to cross the river meant going to war.
The first time he came to this river was when he was thirteen and was with some twenty
boys of the same age; they had marched for one day and one night, in anxiety and fear,
for they had no warriors to protect them but this old, shriveled healer who made this
journey every year. They had been taught stealth and cunning, and once they entered
the forest beyond the cultivated fields and cogon wastes, it was possible for the enemy
to be lurking there. They were not warriors they would be hog-tied and brought to Laud
as slaves. For a day, they walked without eating and by the morning of the next day,
when they finally reached the river, they were weak, hungry and ready to die. Only the
fear of capture kept them alive. There, on the sandy bank, behind the tall reeds that had
flowered with plumes of dazzling white, they lined up, squatting while the healer
sharpened his knife and prepared the strange mixture of tobacco and weeds with which
he treated their wounds after he had circumcised them.
He was now on his third night and the relentless sense of danger that hounded him was
no longer as keen as it had been on the first, particularly when a dog had howled and a
man had come out with a lighted pine splinter and a spear, wondering perhaps what
lizard was out there after his chickens. He had slithered into the recesses of the bush and
returned afterwards. He knew the town by then, and in the waning moonlight, he stole

away from it, detoured through terraces in the mountains, then down to the forest of
scrub and cogon, making a new way each time. It was still dark when he reached the
river. He had already satisfied most of his curiosities, heard their songs, their
conversations. He had looked at their handiwork, their fields of sweet potato and rice,
and marveled at the quality of their crafts. He returned to the cove which was actually a
small turn of the river that was hidden by a wall of low branches. Within it was a pool that
was fed by a spring and beyond the spring, up a sandy bar, was a sprout of cogon behind
which he had slept the night before. He had taken care that there was no trace of him in
the sand so that when he went to the spring to drink, he had wiped out his tracks


by Amador T. Daguio

Awiyao reached for the upper horizontal log which served as the edge of the head high
threshold. Clinging to the log, he lifted himself with one bound that carried him across to
the narrow door. He slid back the cover, stepped inside, and then pushed the cover back
in place. After some moments during which he seemed to wait, he talked to the listening
"I'm sorry this had to be done. I am really sorry. But neither of us can help it."
The sound of the gangsas beat through the walls of the dark house like muffled roars of
falling waters. The woman who had moved with a start when the sliding door opened had
been hearing the gangsas for she did not know how long. There was a sudden rush of fire
in her. She gave no sign that she heard Awiyao, but continued to sit unmoving in the
darkness. But Awiyao knew that she heard him and his heart pitied her. He crawled on all
fours to the middle of the room; he knew exactly where the stove was. With bare fingers
he stirred the covered smoldering embers, and blew into the stove. When the coals
began to glow, Awiyao put pieces of pine on them, then full round logs as his arms. The
room brightened.
"Why don't you go out," he said, "and join the dancing women?" He felt a pang inside
him, because what he said was really not the right thing to say and because the woman
did not stir. "You should join the dancers," he said, "as if--as if nothing had happened." He
looked at the woman huddled in a corner of the room, leaning against the wall. The stove
fire played with strange moving shadows and lights upon her face. She was partly sullen,
but her sullenness was not because of anger or hate.
"Go out--go out and dance. If you really don't hate me for this separation, go out and
dance. One of the men will see you dance well; he will like your dancing, he will marry
you. Who knows but that, with him, you will be luckier than you were with me."
"I don't want any man," she said sharply. "I don't want any other man."
He felt relieved that at least she talked: "You know very well that I won't want any other
woman either. You know that, don't you? Lumnay, you know it, don't you?" She did not
answer him.
"You know it Lumnay, don't you?" he repeated.
"Yes, I know," she said weakly.

"It is not my fault," he said, feeling relieved. "You cannot blame me; I have been a good
husband to you."
"Neither can you blame me," she said. She seemed about to cry.
"No, you have been very good to me. You have been a good wife. I have nothing to say
against you." He set some of the burning wood in place. "It's only that a man must have
a child. Seven harvests is just too long to wait. Yes, we have waited too long. We should
have another chance before it is too late for both of us."
This time the woman stirred, stretched her right leg out and bent her left leg in. She
wound the blanket more snugly around herself.
"You know that I have done my best," she said. "I have prayed to Kabunyan much. I have
sacrificed many chickens in my prayers."
"Yes, I know."
"You remember how angry you were once when you came home from your work in the
terrace because I butchered one of our pigs without your permission? I did it to appease
Kabunyan, because, like you, I wanted to have a child. But what could I do?"
"Kabunyan does not see fit for us to have a child," he said. He stirred the fire. The spark
rose through the crackles of the flames. The smoke and soot went up the ceiling.
Lumnay looked down and unconsciously started to pull at the rattan that kept the split
bamboo flooring in place. She tugged at the rattan flooring. Each time she did this the
split bamboo went up and came down with a slight rattle. The gong of the dancers
clamorously called in her care through the walls.
Awiyao went to the corner where Lumnay sat, paused before her, looked at her bronzed
and sturdy face, and then turned to where the jars of water stood piled one over the
other. Awiyao took a coconut cup and dipped it in the top jar and drank. Lumnay had
filled the jars from the mountain creek early that evening.
"I came home," he said. "Because I did not find you among the dancers.
By Paz Marquez Benitez
Through the open window the air-steeped outdoors passed into his room, quietly
enveloping him, stealing into his very thought. Esperanza, Julia, the sorry mess he had
made of life, the years to come even now beginning to weigh down, to crush--they lost
concreteness, diffused into formless melancholy. The tranquil murmur of conversation
issued from the brick-tiled azotea where Don Julian and Carmen were busy puttering
away among the rose pots.
"Papa, and when will the 'long table' be set?"
"I don't know yet. Alfredo is not very specific, but I understand Esperanza wants it to be
next month."
Carmen sighed impatiently. "Why is he not a bit more decided, I wonder. He is over thirty,
is he not? And still a bachelor! Esperanza must be tired waiting."
"She does not seem to be in much of a hurry either," Don Julian nasally commented,
while his rose scissors busily snipped away.
"How can a woman be in a hurry when the man does not hurry her?" Carmen returned,
pinching off a worm with a careful, somewhat absent air. "Papa, do you remember how
much in love he was?"
"In love? With whom?"
"With Esperanza, of course. He has not had another love affair that I know of," she said
with good-natured contempt. "What I mean is that at the beginning he was enthusiastic-flowers, serenades, notes, and things like that--"

Alfredo remembered that period with a wonder not unmixed with shame. That was less
than four years ago. He could not understand those months of a great hunger that was
not of the body nor yet of the mind, a craving that had seized on him one quiet night
when the moon was abroad and under the dappled shadow of the trees in the plaza, man
wooed maid. Was he being cheated by life? Love--he seemed to have missed it. Or was
the love that others told about a mere fabrication of perfervid imagination, an
exaggeration of the commonplace, a glorification of insipid monotonies such as made up
his love life? Was love a combination of circumstances, or sheer native capacity of soul?
In those days love was, for him, still the eternal puzzle; for love, as he knew it, was a
stranger to love as he divined it might be.
Sitting quietly in his room now, he could almost revive the restlessness of those days, the
feeling of tumultuous haste, such as he knew so well in his boyhood when something
beautiful was going on somewhere and he was trying to get there in time to see. "Hurry,
hurry, or you will miss it," someone had seemed to urge in his ears. So he had avidly
seized on the shadow of Love and deluded himself for a long while in the way of
humanity from time immemorial. In the meantime, he became very much engaged to
Why would men so mismanage their lives? Greed, he thought, was what ruined so many.
Greed--the desire to crowd into a moment all the enjoyment it will hold, to squeeze from
the hour all the emotion it will yield. Men commit themselves when but half-meaning to
do so, sacrificing possible future fullness of ecstasy to the craving for immediate
excitement. Greed--mortgaging the future--forcing the hand of Time, or of Fate.
"What do you think happened?" asked Carmen, pursuing her thought.
"I supposed long-engaged people are like that; warm now, cool tomorrow. I think they are
oftener cool than warm. The very fact that an engagement has been allowed to prolong
itself argues a certain placidity of temperament--or of affection--on the part of either, or
both." Don Julian loved to philosophize. He was talking now with an evident relish in
words, his resonant, very nasal voice toned down to monologue pitch. "That phase you
were speaking of is natural enough for a beginning. Besides, that, as I see it, was
Alfredo's last race with escaping youth--"
Carmen laughed aloud at the thought of her brother's perfect physical repose--almost
indolence--disturbed in the role suggested by her father's figurative language.
"A last spurt of hot blood," finished the old man.
Few certainly would credit Alfredo Salazar with hot blood. Even his friends had amusedly
diagnosed his blood as cool and thin, citing incontrovertible evidence. Tall and slender, he
moved with an indolent ease that verged on grace.
by Paz M. Latorena
It was very warm. The sun, up above a sky that was blue and tremendous and beckoning
to birds ever on the wing, shone bright as if determined to scorch everything under
heaven, even the low, square nipa house that stood in an unashamed relief against the
gray-green haze of grass and leaves.
It was lonely dwelling located far from its neighbors, which were huddled close to one
another as if for mutual comfort. It was flanked on both sides by tall, slender bamboo
tree which rustled plaintively under a gentle wind.
On the porch a woman past her early twenties stood regarding the scene before her with
eyes made incurious by its familiarity. All around her the land stretched endlessly, it
seemed, and vanished into the distance. There were dark, newly plowed furrows where in
due time timorous seedling would give rise to sturdy stalks and golden grain, to a rippling
yellow sea in the wind and sun during harvest time. Promise of plenty and reward for

hard toil! With a sigh of discontent, however, the woman turned and entered a small
dining room where a man sat over a belated a midday meal.
Pedro Buhay, a prosperous farmer, looked up from his plate and smiled at his wife as she
stood framed by the doorway, the sunlight glinting on her dark hair, which was drawn
back, without relenting wave, from a rather prominent and austere brow.
Where are the shirts I ironed yesterday? she asked as she approached the table.
In my trunk, I think, he answered.
Some of them need darning, and observing the empty plate, she added, do you want
some more rice?
No, hastily, I am in a burry to get back. We must finish plowing the south field today
because tomorrow is Sunday.
Pedro pushed the chair back and stood up. Soledad began to pile the dirty dishes one on
top of the other.
Here is the key to my trunk. From the pocket of his khaki coat he pulled a string of nondescript red which held together a big shiny key and another small, rather rusty looking
With deliberate care he untied the knot and, detaching the big key, dropped the small
one back into his pocket. She watched him fixedly as he did this. The smile left her face
and a strange look came into her eyes as she took the big key from him without a word.
Together they left the dining room.
Out of the porch he put an arm around her shoulders and peered into her shadowed face.
You look pale and tired, he remarked softly. What have you been doing all morning?
Nothing, she said listlessly. But the heat gives me a headache.
Then lie down and try to sleep while I am gone. For a moment they looked deep into
each others eyes.
It is really warm, he continued. I think I will take off my coat.
He removed the garment absent minded and handed it to her. The stairs creaked under
his weight as he went down.
Choleng, he turned his head as he opened the gate, I shall pass by Tia Marias house
and tell her to come. I may not return before dark.
Soledad nodded. Her eyes followed her husband down the road, noting the fine set of his
head and shoulders, the case of his stride. A strange ache rose in her throat.
She looked at the coat he had handed to her. It exuded a faint smell of his favourite
cigars, one of which he invariably smoked, after the days work, on his way home from
the fields. Mechanically, she began to fold the garment.
As she was doing so, s small object fell from the floor with a dull, metallic sound. Soledad
stooped down to pick it up. It was the small key! She stared at it in her palm as if she had
never seen it before. Her mouth was tightly drawn and for a while she looked almost old.
She passed into the small bedroom and tossed the coat carelessly on the back of a chair.
She opened the window and the early afternoon sunshine flooded in. On a mat spread on
the bamboo floor were some newly washed garments.
by Estrella D. Alfon
There was nothing to fear, for the man was always so gentle, so kind. At night when the
little girl and her brother were bathed in the light of the big shaded bulb that hung over
the big study table in the downstairs hall, the man would knock gently on the door, and
come in. he would stand for a while just beyond the pool of light, his feet in the circle of
illumination, the rest of him in shadow. The little girl and her brother would look up at him
where they sat at the big table, their eyes bright in the bright light, and watch him come

fully into the light, but his voice soft, his manner slow. He would smell very faintly of
sweat and pomade, but the children didnt mind although they did notice, for they waited
for him every evening as they sat at their lessons like this. Hed throw his visored cap on
the table, and it would fall down with a soft plop, then hed nod his head to say one was
right, or shake it to say one was wrong.
It was not always that he came. They could remember perhaps two weeks when he
remarked to their mother that he had never seen two children looking so smart. The
praise had made their mother look over them as they stood around listening to the
goings-on at the meeting of the neighborhood association, of which their mother was
president. Two children, one a girl of seven, and a boy of eight. They were both very tall
for their age, and their legs were the long gangly legs of fine spirited colts. Their mother
saw them with eyes that held pride, and then to partly gloss over the maternal gloating
she exhibited, she said to the man, in answer to his praise, but their homework. Theyre
so lazy with them. And the man said, I have nothing to do in the evenings, let me help
them. Mother nodded her head and said, if you want to bother yourself. And the thing
rested there, and the man came in the evenings therefore, and he helped solve fractions
for the boy, and write correct phrases in language for the little girl.
In those days, the rage was for pencils. School children always have rages going at one
time or another. Sometimes for paper butterflies that are held on sticks, and whirl in the
wind. The Japanese bazaars promoted a rage for those. Sometimes it is for little lead toys
found in the folded waffles that Japanese confection-makers had such light hands with. At
this particular time, it was for pencils. Pencils big but light in circumference not smaller
than a mans thumb. They were unwieldy in a childs hands, but in all schools then,
where Japanese bazaars clustered there were all colors of these pencils selling for very
low, but unattainable to a child budgeted at a baon of a centavo a day. They were all of
five centavos each, and one pencil was not at all what one had ambitions for. In rages,
one kept a collection. Four or five pencils, of different colors, to tie with strings near the
eraser end, to dangle from ones book-basket, to arouse the envy of the other children
who probably possessed less.
Add to the mans gentleness and his kindness in knowing a childs desires, his promise
that he would give each of them not one pencil but two. And for the little girl who he said
was very bright and deserved more, ho would get the biggest pencil he could find.
One evening he did bring them. The evenings of waiting had made them look forward to
this final giving, and when they got the pencils they whooped with joy. The little boy had
two pencils, one green, one blue. And the little girl had three pencils, two of the same
circumference as the little boys but colored red and yellow. And the third pencil, a jumbo
size pencil really, was white, and had been sharpened, and the little girl jumped up and
down, and shouted with glee. Until their mother called from down the stairs. What are
you shouting about? And they told her, shouting gladly, Vicente, for that was his name.
Vicente had brought the pencils he had promised them.
Thank him, their mother called. The little boy smiled and said, Thank you. And the little
girl smiled, and said, Thank you, too. But the man said, are you not going to kiss me for
those pencils? They both came forward, the little girl and the little boy, and they both
made to kiss him but Vicente slapped the boy smartly on his lean hips, and said, Boys do
not kiss boys. And the little boy laughed and scampered away, and then ran back and
kissed him anyway.
The little girl went up to the man shyly, put her arms about his neck as he crouched to
receive her embrace, and kissed him on the cheeks.


by Bienvenido N. Santos
As soon as Fil woke up, he noticed a whiteness outside, quite unusual for the November
mornings they had been having. That fall, Chicago was sandman's town, sleepy valley,
drowsy gray, slumberous mistiness from sunup till noon when the clouds drifted away in
cauliflower clusters and suddenly it was evening. The lights shone on the avenues like
soiled lamps centuries old and the skyscrapers became monsters with a thousand sore
eyes. Now there was a brightness in the air land Fil knew what it was and he shouted,
"Snow! It's snowing!" Tony, who slept in the adjoining room, was awakened. "What's
that?" he asked. "It's snowing," Fil said, smiling to himself as if he had ordered this and
was satisfied with the prompt delivery. "Oh, they'll love this, they'll love this." "Who'll love
that?" Tony asked, his voice raised in annoyance. "The dancers, of course," Fil answered.
"They're arriving today. Maybe they've already arrived. They'll walk in the snow and love
it. Their first snow, I'm sure." "How do you know it wasn't snowing in New York while they
were there?" Tony asked. "Snow in New York in early November?" Fil said. "Are you
crazy?" "Who's crazy?" Tony replied. "Ever since you heard of those dancers from the
Philippines, you've been acting nuts. Loco. As if they're coming here just for you. Tony
chuckled. Hearing him, Fil blushed, realizing that he had, indeed, been acting too eager,
but Tony had said it. It felt that way--as if the dancers were coming here only for him.
Filemon Acayan, Filipino, was fifty, a U.S., citizen. He was a corporal in the U.S. Army,
training at San Luis Obispo, on the day he was discharged honorably, in 1945. A few
months later, he got his citizenship papers. Thousands of them, smart and small in their
uniforms, stood at attention in drill formation, in the scalding sun, and pledged allegiance
to the flat and the republic for which it stands. Soon after he got back to work. To a new
citizen, work meant many places and many ways: factories and hotels, waiter and cook.
A timeless drifting: once he tended a rose garden and took care of a hundred year old
veteran of a border war. As a menial in a hospital in Cook Country, all day he handled
filth and gore. He came home smelling of surgical soap and disinfectant. In the hospital,
he took charge of row of bottles on a shelf, each bottle containing a stage of the human
embryo in preservatives, from the lizard-like fetus of a few days, through the newly born
infant, with its position unchanged, cold and cowering and afraid. He had nightmares
through the years of himself inside a bottle. l That was long ago. Now he had a more
pleasant job as special policemen in the post office. AMCM [82]
He was a few years younger than Tony-Antonio Bataller, a retired pullman porter but he
looked older in inspite of the fact that Tony had been bedridden most of the time for the
last two years, suffering from a kind of wasting disease that had frustrated doctors. All
over Tony's body, a gradual peeling was taking place. l At first, he thought it was merely
tiniaflava, a skin disease common among adolescent in the Philippines. It had started
around the neck and had spread to his extremities. His face looked as if it was healing
from severe burns. Nevertheless, it was a young face much younger than Fil's, which had
never looked young. "I'm becoming a white man," Tony had said once, chuckling softly. It
was the same chuckle Fil seemed to have heard now, only this time it sounded derisive,
insulting. Fil said, "I know who's nuts. It's the sick guy with the sick thoughts. You don't
care for nothing but your pain, your imaginary pain." "You're the imagining fellow. I got
the real thing," Tony shouted from the room. He believed he had something worse than
the whiteness spreading on his skin. There was a pain in his insides, like dull scissors
scraping his intestines. Angrily he added, "What for I got retired?" "You're old, man, old,
that's what, and sick, yes, but not cancer," Fil said turning towards the snow-filled sky. He
pressed his faced against the glass window. There's about an inch now on the ground, he
thought, maybe more. Tony came out of his room looking as if he had not slept all night.
"I know what I got," he said, as if it were an honor and a privilege to die of cancer and Fill

was trying to deprive him of it. "Never a pain like this. One day, I'm just gonna die."
"Naturally. Who says you won't?" Fil argued, thinking how wonderful it would be if he
could join the company of dancers from the Philippines, show them around walk with
them in the snow, watch their eyes as they stared about them, answer their questions,
tell them everything they wanted to know about the changing seasons in this strange
land. They would pick up fistfuls of snow, crunch it in their fingers or shove it into their
By N.V.M. Gonzales
One warm July night Julio was writing a letter to-of all people-his landlord, Ka Ponso. It
was about his son Jose who wanted to go to school in Mansalay, the town where Ka Ponso
They had moved here to the island of Mindoro about a year ago because Julio had been
unable to find any land of his own to farm. As it was, he thought himself lucky when Ka
Ponso agreed to take him on as a tenant.
"Dear Compadre," he started writing. A while before, his wife had given birth to a baby.
Ka Ponso had happened to be in the neighborhood and offered to be the baby's
godfather. After that they had begun to call each other compadre. Julio was writing in
Tagalog, bending earnestly over a piece of paper torn out of his son's school notebook.
It was many months since he had had a writing implement in his hand. That was when he
had gone to the municipal office in Mansalay to file a homestead application. Then he
had used a pen and, to his surprise, had been able to fill in the blank form neatly. Nothing
had come of the application, although Ka Ponso had assured him he had looked into the
matter and talked with the officials concerned. Now, using a pencil instead of a pen, Julio
was sure he could make his latter legible enough for Ka Ponso.
"It's about my boy Jose," he wrote. "He's in the sixth grade now." He didn't add that Jose
had had to miss a year of school since coming here to Mindoro. "Since he's quite a poor
hand at looking after your carabaos, I thought it would be best that he go to school in the
He leaned back against the wall. He was sitting on the floor writing one end of the long
wooden bench that was the sole piece of furniture in their one-room house. The bench
was in one corner. Across from it stood the stove. To his right, his wife and the baby girl
lay under a hemp mosquito net. Jose too was here, sprawled beside a sack of un-husked
rice by the doorway. He had been out all afternoon looking for one of Ka Ponso's carabaos
that had strayed away to the newly planted rice clearings along the other side of the
river. Now Jose was snoring lightly, like the tired youth he was. He was twelve years old.
The yellow flame of the kerosene lamp flickered ceaselessly. The dank smell of food,
mainly fish broth, that had been spilled from many a bowl and dried on the bench now
seemed to rise from the very texture of the wood itself. The stark fact of their poverty, if
Julio's nature had been sensitive to it, might have struck him a hard and sudden blow;
but as it was, he just looked about the room, even as the smell assailed his nostrils, and
stared a moment at the mosquito net and then at Jose as he lay there by the door. Then
he went on with his letter.
"This boy Jose, compadre," he wrote, "is quite an industrious lad. If only you can make
him do anything you wish, any work. He can cook rice, and I'm sure he'd do well washing
Julio recalled his last visit to Ka Ponso's place about three months ago, during the fiesta.
It was a big house with many servants. The floors were so polished you could almost see
your own image under your feet as you walked, and there was always a servant who
followed you about with a rag to wipe away the smudges of dirt that your feet left on the

"I hope you will not think of this as a great bother," Julio continued, trying his best to
phrase his thoughts. He had a vague fear that Ka Ponso might not regard his letter
favorably. But he wrote on, slowly and steadily, stopping only from time to time to regard
what he had written. "We shall repay you for whatever you can do for us, compadre. It's
true that we already owe you for many things, but my wife and I will do all we can indeed
to repay you."
Rereading the last sentence and realizing that he had mentioned his wife, Julio recalled
that during the first month after their arrival here they had received five large measures
of rice from Ka Ponso. Later he had been told that at harvest time he would have to pay
back twice that amount. Perhaps this was usury, but it was strictly in keeping with the
custom in those parts, and Julio was not the sort to complain. Besides, he never thought
of Ka Ponso as anything other than his spiritual compadre, as they say, his true friend.
Suddenly he began wondering how Jose would act in Ka Ponso's house, unaccustomed as
he was to so many things there. The boy might even stumble over a chair and break
some dishes. . . . On and on went his thoughts, worrying about the boy.
by F. Sionil Jose
I always knew that someday after I finished high school, Id go to Manila and to
college. I had looked ahead to the grand adventure with eagerness but when it finally
came, my leaving Rosales filled me with a nameless dread and a great, swelling
unhappiness that clogged my chest.
I couldnt be sure now. Maybe it was friendship, huge and granite-like, or just plain
sympathy. I couldnt be sure anymore; maybe I really fell in love when I was sixteen.
Her name was Teresita. She was a proud, stubborn girl with many fixed ideas and she
even admonished me: Just because you gave will be accepted.
It was until after sometime that I understootd what she meant and when she did, I
honored her all the more. She was sixteen, too, lovely like the banaba when its bloom.
I did not expect her to be angry with me when I bought her a dress for it wasnt really
expensive. Besides, as the daughter of one of Fathers tenants, she knew me very well,
better perhaps than any of the people who lived in Carmay, the young folks who always
greeted me politely, doffed their straw hats then, close-mouthed, went their way.
I always had silver coins in my pockets but that March afternoon, after counting all of
them and the stray pieces, too that I had tucked away in my dresser I knew I needed
I approach Father. He was at his working table, writing on a ledger while behind him, one
of the new servants stood erect, swinging a palm leaf fan over Fathers head. I stood
beside Father, watched his hand scrawl the figures on the ledger, his wide brow and his
shirt damp with sweat.
When he finally noticed me, I couldnt tell him what I wanted. He unbuttoned his shirt to
his paunch. Well, what is it?
Im going to take my classmates this afternoon to the restaurant, Father. I said. Father
turned to the sheaf of papers before him. Sure, he said. You can tell Bo King to take off
what you and your friends can eat from his rent this month.
I lingered uneasily, avoiding the servants eyes. Well, wont that do? Father asked. It
was March and the high school graduation was but a matter of days away. I also need a
little money, Father. I said. I have to buy something.
Father nodded. He groped for his keys in his drawer the he opened the iron money box
beside him and drew out a ten-peso bill. He laid it on the table.
Im going to buy I tried to explain but with a wave of his hand, he dismissed me. He
went back to his figures. It was getting late. Sepa, our eldest maid, was getting the

chickens to their coops. I hurried to the main road which was quite deserted now except
in the vicinity of the round cement embankment in front of the municipal building where
loafers were taking in the stale afternoon sun. The Chinese storekeepers who occupied
Fathers buildings had lighted their lamps. From the ancient artesian well at the rim of the
town plaza, the water carriers and servant girls babbled while they waited for their turn
at the pump. Nearby, travelling merchants had unhitched their bullcarts after a whole
day of travelling from town to tonw and were cooking their supper on broad, blackened
stones that littered the place. At Chan Hais \store there was a boy with a stick of candy
in his mouth, a couple of men drinking beer and smacking their lips portentously, and a
woman haggling over a can of sardines.
I went to the huge bales of cloth that slumped in one corner of the store, I picked out the
silk, white cloth with glossy printed flowers. I asked Chan Hai, who was perched on a
stool smoking his long pipe, how much hed ask for the material I had picker for a gown.
Chan Hai peered at me in surprise; Ten pesos he said.
With the package, I hurried to Camay. In the thickening dusk the leaves of the acacias
folded and the solemn, mellow chimes of the Angelus echoed to the flat, naked stretches
of the town. The women who had been sweeping their yards paused; children reluctantly
hurried to their homes for now the town was draped with a dreamy stillness.Teresita and
her father lived by the creek in Carmay. The house was on a sandy lot which belonged to
Father; it was apart front the cluster of huts peculiar to the village. Its roof as it was with
the other farmers homes, thatched and disheveled, its walls were of battered buri
leaves. It was washed away. Madre de cacao trees abounded in the vicinity but offered
scanty shade.
The Black Monkey
by Edith L. Tiempo

Two weeks already she had stayed in the hunt on the precipice, alone except for the
visits of her husband. Carlos came regularly once a day and stayed three or four hours,
but his visits seemed to her too short and far between. Sometimes, after he had left and
she thought she would be alone again, one or the other of the neighbors came up
unexpectedly, and right away those days became different, or she became different in a
subtle but definite way. For the neighbors caused a disturbed balance in her which was
relieving and necessary. Sometimes it was one of the women, coming up with some
fruits, papayas, perhaps, or wild ink berries, or guavas. Sometimes the children, to grind
her weeks supply of corn meal in the cubbyhole downstairs. Their chirps and
meaningless giggles broke the steady turn of the stone grinder, scraping to a slow
agitation the thoughts that had settled and almost hardened in the bottom of her mind.
She would have liked it better if these visits were longer, but they could not be; for the
folks came to see her, yet she couldnt come to them, and she, a sick woman, wasnt
really with her when they sat there with her. The women were uneasy in the hut and she
could say nothing to the children, and it seemed it was only when the men came to see
her when there was the presence of real people. Real people, and she real with them.
As when old Emilio and Sergio left their carabaos standing in the clearing and crossed the
river at low tide to climb solemnly up the path on the precipice, their faces showing

brown and leathery in the filtered sunlight of the forest as they approached her door.
Coming in and sitting on the floor of the eight-by-ten hut where she lay, looking at her
and chewing tobacco, clayey legs crossed easily, they brought about them the strange
electric of living together, of showing one to another lustily across the clearing, each
driving his beast, of riding the bull cart into the timber to load dead trunks of firewood, of
listening in a screaming silence inside their huts at night to the sound of real or imagined
shots or explosions, and mostly of another kind of silence, the kid that bogged down
between the furrows when the sun was hot and the soils stony and the breadth for words
lay tight and furry upon their tongues. They were slow of words even when at rest,
rousing themselves to talk numbingly and vaguely after long periods of chewing.
Thinking to interest her, their talk would be of the womens doings, soap-making and the
salt project, and who made the most coconut oil that week, whose dog has caught
sucking eggs from whose poultry shed, show many lizards and monkeys they trapped
and killed in the corn fields and yards around the four houses. Listening to them was
hearing a remote story heard once before and strange enough now to be interesting
again. But it was last two weeks locatable in her body, it was true, but not so much a real
pain as a deadness and heaviness everywhere, at once inside of her as well as outside.
When the far nasal bellowing of their carabaos came up across the river the men rose to
go, and clumsy with sympathy they stood at the doorstep spiting out many casual
streaks of tobacco and betel as they stretched their leave by the last remarks. Marina
wished for her mind to go on following them down the cliff to the river across the
clearing, to the group of four huts on the knoll where the smoke spiraled blue glints and
grey from charcoal pits, and the children chased scampering monkeys back into forested
slopes only a few feet away. But when the men turned around the path and disappeared
they were really gone, and she was really alone again.From the pallet where she lay a
few inches from the door all she could set were the tops of ipil trees arching over the
damp humus soil of the forest, and a very small section of the path leading from her hut
downward along the edge of the precipice to the river where it was a steep short drop of
fifteen or twenty feet to the water.
By Jose Marte Abueg
The real danger, I was told, was of big snakes. The small ones in the uplands were not
deadly. They had bitten nine of us and no one died. Also killers were mosquitoes; we took
triple the normal dosage of malaria pills.
A minor menace I discovered for myself. Appointed as scout in preparation for a trek, I
ventured out through a thicket that con-cealed a path to a known creek. In seconds,
leeches were on my neck, arms and legs. Some had fallen off, fat and sated, before I
could remove the others. Blood oozed from the wounds, and the wounds gave a terrible
Often, after hours of non-stop walkinga moments halt could be fatalwe would take
our shoes off to remove the leeches that had entered them and were trapped, all the
while sucking at our feet. In those hours, we as well as they were damned.
When moving through dense woods, we needed continually to inspect our backs, necks,
legs, even our ears and faces. The sun scorched us and our bodies itched from contact
with the foliage; we could not feel the parasites on our skins. A number of times upon

arriving in our camp we found leeches in our armpits.
How long have you been here? Joven asked.
Two years.
Do you get in touch with your parents?
They are both dead. They were killed seven months before I came here.
Orlando asked, Do you think of Manila often, of school?
Sometimes, a few times.
What do you miss most? Totoy asked.
You wont believe this, but last night, you know what I dreamed of? A bottle of Pepsi!
Hah! Ador slapped his thigh. The M-16 on his lap tilted to the ground. I was like that in my
first year, on Mount Arayat. I remember I was standing in a downpour when I was nearly
overcome by a desire to run down to the town, but then it occurred to me that what I
wanted might not be there, either. The rain was beating against my face. I was thinking
how nice it would be to drink from a glass again.
A fighter in the woods needs and will be like a poet, Ador said to me, after reading a
worn-out book, on my first dusk, in a unique departure from teaching of doctrine. After
months of sleeping on rocks, eating roots dug up from the dirt, going thirsty for days and
nights, you will come to be like an animal. You will change clothes as seldom as the forest
floor changes grass. There will be delight in the discov-ery of a brook or a pond with its
promise of drink and possibly fish. But you will view the water with suspicion. Its being
there could mean the presence of another human. So you must move like a snake,
soundlessly and without a trace; for that reason, you will appreciate the grass. The air
carries scents; be alert to what they convey. The sound of a twig breaking may signal
mortal danger. You will learn to sleep standing against a tree while a storm rages over
you and around you. Your skin will change. The feel of blood streaming from a wound
may become as familiar as that of water from a fresh spring. But make no mistake: It will
all be like a baptism of blood, or of fire.
We were about three hours on the way to camp via an invisible, twisting route when a
clanking sound came from up a slope behind the dense bushes to our right. We scattered
quickly and noise-lessly. I dropped to the ground behind a tree, my breathing halted, my
vision clear over my M-1. Above me, to my left, Ador stood with his knapsack hanging by
its strap from his teeth while he trained his M-16 at the bushes.
Corn, water cabbage, young coconuts and bananas were the object of our trip to a small
field that was more than four hours walk from the camp. We calculated the field would
be untraceable from likely sources of food on that particular mountain, so that if it were
discovered, we would have time to decamp.
I glanced at Ador. He had slowly put his rifle down between his legs and now had his fists
by his chest. I could see he was preparing to unpin a hand grenade. In my mind I scanned
the situation quickly. Orlando, Joven and Totoy could be counted on in such an
by Francisco Sionil Jose
They were the best of friends and that was possible because they worked in the same
office and both
were young and imbued with a freshness in outlook. Sam Christie was twenty eight and
his Filipino assistant,
Philip Latak, was twenty six and was just as Sam had been at the Agency before he
assumed his post intelligent and industrious.

That is to be expected, the official whom Sam replaced explained because Philip is
Ifugao and you dont know patience until you have seen the rice terraces his ancestors
You will find, Sam Christie was also told, that the Igorots, like the Ilocanos, no matter
how urbanized they already are, entertain a sense of inferiority. Not Philip. He is proud of
his being Ifugao. He talks about it the first chance he gets.
Now, on this December dawn, Sam Christie was on his way to Ifugao with his native
assistant. It was last month in the Philippines and in a matter of days he would return to
Boston for that leave which he had not had in years.
The bus station was actually a narrow sidestreet which sloped down to a deserted plaza,
one of the many in the summer capital. Sam could make out the shapes of the stone
buildings huddled, it seemed, in the cold, their narrow windows shuttered and the frames
advertising Coca Cola above their doorways indistinct in the dark.
Philip Latak seemed listless. They had been in the station for over half an hour and still
there was no bus. He zipped his old suede jacket up to his neck. It had been four years
that he had lived in Manila and during all these years he had never gone home. Now, the
cold of the pine clad mountains seemed to bother him. He turned to Sam and, with a
hint of urgency One favour, Sam. Let me take a swig.
Sam and Christie said, Sure, you are welcome to it. Just make sure we have some left
when we get Ifugao. He stopped, brought out a bottle of White Label one of the four
in the bag which also contained bars of candy and cartons of cigarettes and matches for
the natives. He removed the tinfoil and handed the bottle to his companion.
Phil raised it to his lips and made happy gurgling sounds. Rice wine I hope theres still
a jar around when we get to my grandfathers. He couldnt be as seriously sick as my
brother wrote. As long as he has wine he will live. Hell, its not as potent as this, but it
can knock out a man, too.
Sam Christie kidded his companion about the weather. They had arrived in the summer
capital the previous day and the bracing air and the scent of pine had invigorated him.
Its like New England in the spring, he said. In winter, when it really gets cold, I can
still go around quite naked by your standards. I sent home a clipping this week,
something in the Manila papers about it being chilly. And it was only 68! My old man will
get a kick out of that.
But its really cold! Philip Latak said ruefully. He handed the bottle back to Sam
Christie, who took a swig, too. You dont know how good it is to have that along. Do you
know how much it costs nowadays? Twenty four bucks.
Its cheaper at the commissary, Sam Christie said simply. He threw his chest out, flexed
his lean arms and inhaled. He wore a white, dacron shirt with the sleeves rolled up.
Im glad you didnt fall for those carvings in Manila, Phil said after a while.
A Grecian urn, a Japanese sword, a Siamese mask and now, an Ifugao God. The
Siamese mask, Sam spoke in a monotone, it was really a bargain. A student was going
to Boston. He needed the dollars, so I told him he could get the money from my father.
Forty dollars and the mask was worth more than that.
Now, the gray buildings around them emerged from the dark with white, definite shapes.
The east was starting to glow and more people had arrived with crates and battered
rattan suitcases. In the chill most of them were quiet. A coffee shop opened along the
street with a great deal of clatter and in its warm, golden light Sam Christie could see the
heavy, peasant faces, their happy anticipation as the steaming cups were pushed before
by Jose Garcia Villa

They should have stood apart, away from each other, those two nipa houses. There
should have been a lofty impenetrable wall between them, so that they should not stare
so coldly, so starkly, at each otherjust staring, not saying a word, not even a cruel
word. Only a yard of parched soil separated them, a yard of brittle-crusted earth with
only a stray weed or two to show there was life still in its bosom.
They stood there on the roadside, they two alone, neighborless but for themselves, and
they were like two stealthy shadows, each avid to betray the other. Queer old houses. So
brown were the nipa leaves that walled and roofed them that they looked musty, gloomy.
One higher than the other, pyramid-roofed, it tried to assume the air of mastery, but in
vain. For though the other was low, wind-bent, supported without by luteous bamboo
poles against the aggressiveness of the weather, it had its eyes to stare back as
haughtily as the otherwindows as desolate as the souls of the occupants of the house,
as sharply angular as the intensity of their hatred.
From the road these houses feared no enemyno enemy from the length, from the dust,
of the road; they were unfenced. But of each other they were afraid: there ran a green,
house high, bamboo fence through the narrow ribbon of thirsty earth between them,
proclaiming that one side belonged to one house, to it alone; the other side to the other,
and to it alone.
Formerly there had been no bamboo fence; there had been no weeds. There had been
two rows of vegetables, one to each house, and the soil was not parched but soft and
rich. But something had happened and the fence came to be built, and the vegetables
that were so green began to turn pale, then paler and yellow and brown. Those of each
house would not water their plants, for if they did, would not water their water spread to
the other side and quench too the thirst of pechays and mustards not theirs? Little by
little the plants had died, the soil had cracked with neglect, on both sides of the fence.
Two women had built that fence. Two tanned country-women. One of them had caught
her husband with the other one night, and the next morning she had gone to the bamboo
clumps near the river Pasig and felled canes with her woman strength. She left her baby
son at home, heeded not the little cries. And one by one that hot afternoon she
shouldered the canes to her home. She was tired, very tired, yet that night she could not
sleep. When morning dawned she rose and went back to the back of the house and
began to split the bamboos. Her husband noticed her, but said nothing. By noon, Aling
Biang was driving tall bamboo splits into the narrow ribbon of yard.
Pok, Pok, Pok, sounded her crude hammer. Pok, Pok, Pok-Pok, Pok, Pok.
When her husband asked her what she was doing, she answered, I am building a fence.
What for? he asked.
I need a fence.
And then, too, even Aling Sebia, the other woman, a child-less widow, asked
inoffensively, What are you doing, Aling Biang?
I am building a fence.
What for?
I need a fence, Aling Sebia. Please do not talk to me again.
And with that Aling Sebia had felt hurt. Out of spite she too had gone to the bamboo
clumps to fell canes. After she had split them, tried though she was, she began to thrust
them into the ground, on the same straight line as AlingBiangs but from the opposite
end. The building of the fence progressed from the opposite end. The building of the
fence progresses from the ends centerward. Aling Biang drove in the last split. And the
fence completed, oily perspiration wetting the brows of the two young women, they
gazed pridefully at the majestic wall of green that now separated them.

Not long after the completion of the fence Aling Biangs husband disappeared and never
came back. Aling Biang took the matter passively, and made no effort to find him. She
had become a hardened woman.
The fence hid all the happenings in each house from those who lived in the other. The
other side was to each a beyond, dark in elemental prejudice, and no one dared encroach
on it. So the months passed, and each woman lived as though the other were
by Rony V. Diaz

WHEN I saw my sister, Delia, beating my dog with a stick, I felt hate heave like a caged,
angry beast in my chest. Out in the sun, the hair of my sister glinted like metal and, in
her brown dress, she looked like a sheathed dagger. Biryuk hugged the earth and
screamed but I could not bound forward nor cry out to my sister. She had a weak heart
and she must not be surprised. So I held myself, my throat swelled, and I felt hate rear
and plunge in its cage of ribs.

I WAS thirteen when my father first took me hunting. All through the summer of that
year, I had tramped alone and unarmed the fields and forest around our farm. Then one
afternoon in late July my father told me I could use his shotgun.
Beyond the ipil grove, in a grass field we spotted a covey of brown pigeons. In the
open, they kept springing to the air and gliding away every time we were within range.
But finally they dropped to the ground inside a wedge of guava trees. My father pressed
my shoulder and I stopped. Then slowly, in a half-crouch, we advanced. The breeze rose
lightly; the grass scuffed against my bare legs. My father stopped again. He knelt down
and held my hand.
Wait for the birds to rise and then fire, he whispered.
I pushed the safety lever of the rifle off and sighted along the barrel. The saddle of the
stock felt greasy on my cheek. The gun was heavy and my arm muscles twitched. My
mouth was dry; I felt vaguely sick. I wanted to sit down.
You forgot to spit, my father said.
Father had told me that hunters always spat for luck before firing. I spat and I saw the
breeze bend the ragged, glassy threads of spittle toward the birds.
Thats good, Father said.
Cant we throw a stone, I whispered fiercely. Its taking them a long time.

No, youve to wait.
Suddenly, a small dog yelping shrilly came tearing across the brooding plain of grass
and small trees. It raced across the plain in long slewy swoops, on outraged shanks that
disappeared and flashed alternately in the light of the cloud-banked sun. One of the birds
whistled and the covey dispersed like seeds thrown in the wind. I fired and my body
shook with the fierce momentary life of the rifle. I saw three pigeons flutter in a last
convulsive effort to stay afloat, then fall to the ground. The shot did not scare the dog. He
came to us, sniffing cautiously. He circled around us until I snapped my fingers and then
he came me.
Not bad, my father said grinning. Three birds with one tube. I went to the brush to
get the birds. The dog ambled after me. He found the birds for me. The breast of one of
the birds was torn. The bird had fallen on a spot where the earth was worn bare, and its
blood was spread like a tiny, red rag. The dog scraped the blood with his tongue. I picked
up the birds and its warm, mangled flesh clung to the palm of my hand.
Youre keen, I said to the dog. Here. Come here. I offered him my bloody palm. He
came to me and licked my palm clean.
I gave the birds to my father. May I keep him, Father? I said pointing to the dog. He
put the birds in a leather bag which he carried strapped around his waist.
Father looked at me a minute and then said: Well, Im not sure. That dog belongs to
May I keep him until his owner comes for him? I pursued.
Hed make a good pointer, Father remarked. But I would not like my son to be
accused of dog-stealing.
Oh, no! I said quickly. I shall return him when the owner comes to claim him.
All right, he said, I hope that dog makes a hunter out of you.
Biryuk and I became fast friends. Every afternoon after school we went to the field to
chase quails or to the bank of the river which was fenced by tall, blade-sharp reeds to
flush snipes. Father was away most of the time but when he was home he hunted with
by Cecilia Menguera - Brainard

Dr. Gerald McAllister listened to the rattle of doors being locked and footsteps
clattering on the marble floors. The doctors and nurses were hurrying home. It was
almost noon and the people of Ubec always lunched in their dining rooms their high
ceilings, where their servants served soup, fish, meat, rice, and rich syrupy flan for
dessert. After, they retired to their spacious, air rooms for their midday siesta. At three,
they resumed work or their studies.
His assistant, Dr. Jaime Laurel, had explained that the practice was due to the tropical
heat and high humidity. Even the dogs, he had pointed out, retreated under houses and
shade trees.
Gerald could not understand this local custom. An hour for lunch should be more than
enough. He barely had that when he was a practising physician in New York.
He reread his report about the cholera epidemic in the southern town of Carcar. It was an
impressive report, well written, with numerous facts. Thanks to his vaccination program,
the epidemic was now under control. This success was another feather in his cap, one of
many he had accumulated during his stay in the Philippine Islands. No doubt Governor
General Taft or perhaps even President McKinley would send him a letter of
commendation. Politicians were like that; they appreciated information justifying
Americas hold on the archipelago.
He glanced at the calendar on his ornate desk. It was March 16, 1903, a year and a half
since he arrived at the port of Ubec aboard the huge steamship from San Francisco.
Three years since Blanche died.
His head hurt and removed his glasses to stroke his forehead. When the headache
passed, he straightened the papers on his desk and left the office. He was annoyed at
how quiet his wing at the Ubec General Hospital was, as he walked past locked doors,
potted palms, and sand filled spittoons.
In front of Dr, Laurels office, he saw a woman trying to open the door. She looked
distraught and wrung her hands. She was a native Ubecan Gerald had seen her at the
Mayors functions a comely woman with bronze skin and long hair so dark it looked
blue. She wore a long hair so dark it turned blue. She wore a long blue satin skirt. An
embroidered panuelo over her camisa was pinned to her bosom with a magnificent
brooch of gold and pearls.
It is lunchtime, he said. His Spanish was bad and his Ubecan dialect far worse.
Dark fiery eyes flashed at him.
Comer, he said, gesturing with his right hand to his mouth.
I know its lunchtime. It wasnt, fifteen minutes ago. She tried the door once more and
slapped her skirt in frustration. Tears started welling in her eyes. My husband died over
a year ago.
Im sorry.
Im not. He was in pain for years; consumption. I have been coughing and last night, I

dreamt of a funeral. I became afraid. I have a daughter, you see.
Dr. Laurel will return at three.
You are a doctor. American doctors are supposed to be the best. Can you help me?
I dont see patients.
Ah, she said, curved eyebrows rising. She picked up her fan with a gold chain pinned to
her skirt. Ah, a doctor who doesnt see patients. She fanned herself slowly.
Her words irritated him and he brusquely said, Come back in a few hours; Dr. Laurel will
be back then. She stood there with eyes still moist, her neck tilted gracefully to one side
and her hand languorously moving the fan back and forth.


by Greg Brillantes
From the upstairs veranda, Dr. Lazaro had a view of stars, the country darkness, the
lights on the distant highway at the edge of town. The phonograph in the sala played
Chopin like a vast sorrow controlled, made familiar, he had wont to think. But as he sat
there, his lean frame in the habitual slack repose took after supper, and stared at the
plains of night that had evoked gentle images and even a kind of peace (in the end,
sweet and invincible oblivion), Dr. Lazaro remembered nothing, his mind lay untouched
by any conscious thought, he was scarcely aware of the April heat; the pattern of music
fell around him and dissolved swiftly, uncomprehended. It was as though indifference
were an infection that had entered his blood it was everywhere in his body. In the
scattered light from the sala his angular face had a dusty, wasted quality, only his eyes
contained life. He could have remained there all evening, unmoving, and buried, it is
were, in a strange half-sleep, had his wife not come to tell him he was wanted on the
Gradually his mind stirred, focused; as he rose from the chair he recognized the somber
passage in the sonata that, curiosly, made him think of ancient monuments, faded stone
walls, a greyness. The brain filed away an image; and arrangement of sounds released
it He switched off the phonograph, suppressed and impatient quiver in his throat as he
reached for the phone: everyone had a claim on his time. He thought: Why not the
younger ones for a change? He had spent a long day at the provincial hospital.
The man was calling from a service station outside the town the station after the
agricultural high school, and before the San Miguel bridge, the man added rather
needlessly, in a voice that was frantic yet oddly subdued and courteous. Dr. Lazaro thad
heard it countless times, in the corridors of the hospitals, in waiting rooms: the perpetual
awkward misery. He was Pedro Esteban, the brother of the doctors tenant in Nambalan,
said the voice, trying to make itself less sudden remote.
But the connection was faulty, there was a humming in the wires, as though darkness
had added to the distance between the house in the town and the gas station beyond the
summer fields. Dr. Lazaro could barely catch the severed phrases. The mans week-old
child had a high fever, a bluish skin; its mouth would not open to suckle. They could not
take the baby to the poblacion, they would not dare move it; its body turned rigid at the
slightest touch. If the doctor would consent to come at so late an hour, Esteban would
wait for him at the station. If the doctor would be so kind
Tetanus of the newborn: that was elementary, and most likely it was so hopeless, a waste
of time. Dr. Lazaro said yes, he would be there; he had committed himself to that answer,
long ago; duty had taken the place of an exhausted compassion. The carelessness of the

poor, the infected blankets, the toxin moving toward the heart: they were casual
scribbled items in a clinical report. But outside the grilled windows, the night suddenly
seemed alive and waiting. He had no choice left now but action: it was the only certitude
he sometimes reminded himself even if it would prove futile, before, the descent into
His wife looked up from her needles and twine, under the shaded lamp of the bedroom;
she had finished the pullover for the grandchild in Bagiuo and had begun work, he noted,
on another of those altar vestments for the parish church. Religion and her grandchild
certainly kept her busy She looked at him, into so much to inquire as to be spoken to:
a large and placid woman.
He hurried down the curving stairs, under the votive lamps of the Sacred Heart. Ben lay
sprawled on the sofa, in the front parlor; engrossed in a book, one leg propped against
the back cushions. Come along, were going somewhere, Dr. Lazaro said, and went into
the clinic for his medical bag. He added a vial of penstrep, an ampule of caffeine to the
satchels contents; rechecked the bag before closing it; the cutgut would last just one
more patient. One can only cure, and know nothing beyond ones work There had been
the man, today, in the hospital: the cancer pain no longer helped by the doses of
morphine; the patientss eyes flickering their despair in the eroded face. Dr. Lazaro
brushed aside the stray vision as he strode out of the whitewashed room; he was back in
his element, among syringes, steel instruments, quick decisions made without emotion,
and it gave him a kind of blunt energy.
by Bienvenido N. Santos
Bob, I hope you're right, but I'm not sure. It might not be easy any more for me to get a
passport back to Washington, D.C., unless you can fix it up with my boss, you know him, I
hope he still has some use for a fellow like me. He might write to somebody at the
Embassy. He used to ask me, are you sure, Pablo, you want to go home now? at this
time? You might not have easy sailing back home in the Philippines, Pablo. Nothing but
ruins there. Think it over.
Well, I thought it over and decided to come home anyhow.
But I got the bad breaks, that's all. Tell him, tell him everything, he will understand. And
he knows you well, Bob. He had seen you often with me. How's your family, how's Rose?
Your girl sure could cook. Tell her I often get hungry here just thinking of the broiled
mackerel and lemon she used to fix for us. You're lucky, Bob. Me, I got the bad breaks.
You heard of the typhoon. Left me flat broke. I had everything invested on my farm. Now
everything is gone, the crops, the tractor, my house, everything. I can't do nothing here.
Been doing nothing at all these past months, just twiddling my thumbs, trying to make
up my mind whether to stay and try again or go back to old Mr. Williams in Washington.
Fix it up with him, will you? I can sell my land, but just now nobody's buying. But I'll
manage, I'm willing to start all over again. Or is there someone working permanently for
Mr. Williams now? But try. The old man liked me.
Yes, I've been to Manila. I remembered Steve. Of course, you do. Steve the doctor.
Remember now? Everytime you called him Doc, he'd get sore and say, just call me Steve.
Boy, how long ago was that? How's the housing conditon there now? It was terrific in
those days. I had that little cottage on the outskirts of the district near Silver Springs.

Say, who's staying there now? Steve was kind of wandering that summer, not knowing
where to live so I gave him the extra room. Boy, he turned it into something special,
didn't he, though? Oh, we had fun, me cooking for him, and you and Rose and some of
the boys coming around Saturday nights, and Doc would be taking the blood pressure of
the fat ones and their drink-sotted girls, and he'd be telling us lots of things about the
Philippines. He looked funny with that embroidered apron around him, as he dried the
dishes. He was real good. When the war broke out, he joined, he had to, being a doctor,
and it broke my heart to see him go. And I couldn't go with him. The army didn't want an
old man with trembling hands.
You'd remember Steve. He was nice looking in his uniform. The first time he got a
furlough, he comes up to my house and says he had only few hours left and he wanted
fun. He carried a big bundle of groceries and I called you up and you came in your car. It
was winter, by golly, how deep the snow was, but you came to celebrate with us. And
you remember, of course, how it ended. That was funny. I wonder if you ever told Rose
about it.
I remember it all now, the three of us in the Chevy, driving through the snow just to get
him to a house where he could blow his money and his guts on some dame, he said it
was his last fling. And we let him. We stayed in the car and drove around and waited and
waited. We got numb wth the cold. We tried jumping up and down, cracking jokes, but no
good. The cold was getting us, but we couldn't leave him, didn't he say it might be the
last fling in his life? After a long time, he came out, and there we were sneezing, quite
numb all over, but we were not sore. Don't worry, he said, I'll send you a prescription if
the cold gets worse. Well, we said goodbye and he sent us cards from overseas. We
followed him in our minds, through London, through the fog and the blitz, and how it was
on D-Day, boy, the card from him was like good-bye forever. Pray for me, he wrote, and
we prayed as we knew how. We prayed sitting in my room with whiskey bottles and stuff
all around. I guess we didn't really pray, we just sat there, thinking, thinking, till the tears
stood in our eyes.
The Woman Who Had Two Navels
by Nick Joaquin

The story begins with Connie Escobar, daughter of a politician and a famous beauty,
visiting Pepe Monson, a horse doctor, in Hong Kong for a consultation because she has
TWO NAVELS. She wanted him to remove her other navel through a surgical operation
because if she will be going to give birth, where would the other umbilical cord be
connected? In addition, she does not want to become a freak when she has to undress
for her husband. She said she is 30 years old and has just been married hours ago. Then,
she told Pepe about a story from her childhood. When she was a child, she thought that
everybody has two navels but when she discovered her doll, Minnie, has only one, she
threw it into the pond. Then she told Pepe that her mother is also in Hong Kong. Pepe
talked to Senora Concha Vidal and discovered from her that Connie was lying that she
is not 30 years old, only 18; that she was not married a morning just before she came to
consult him, but a year ago; that she has only ONE navel. Senora de Vidal also told Pepe
that she forced Connie to marry Macho Escobar because Connie was upset about the

rumor that her father, Manolo Vidal, spends the public fund to send his children to school.
Because Connie was just forced to marry to a man she really does not love, Senora
Concha told Pepe that Connie was chasing a bandleader named Paco Texeira, thats why
she is now in Hong Kong. She and Macho followed Connie in Hong Kong they can bring
her back to the Philippines. Machos reason in taking her back is to avoid humiliation for
her politician father by creating a scandal because it is election times in the Philippines.
Pepe told Senora de Vidal that Paco is married to Mary and that he and Paco are
gradeschool friends. After talking to Senora de Vidal, Pepe went to the Texeiras.
Pepe learned from his conversation with the Texeiras that Paco had been to Manila
playing with his band. From Manila, Paco had sent letters to Mary about Senora de Vidal.
Senora de Vidal and Paco had a good time together and they were interested in each
others countries Hong Kong and Philippines. One day, when Paco was waiting for
Senora Concha in her house, he found Connie and from that moment on he started
wanting Connie. Connie had watched Paco perform in the clubs until one night, there
were people fighting and someone had got shot. Because Connie was shocked, Paco
comforted her. Until some weeks, Paco drove Connie to his hotel, knowing that Connie
also liked him. He was about to rape Connie, not knowing her background. They only had
a savage fight like wild beasts. After 2 days, Paco went back to Hong Kong. Pepe states
that both Connie and Senora de Vidal have an evil hold on him and he knows that he will
go running to them when they call him. But he does not call it love. Pepe also realized
both his father and Paco have a similar traumatized look after they came back from the
Philippines. Pepes father could not answer most of Pacos questions since he came back
to Hong Kong from Manila. All he said while he is in his room was Dust and crabs.. dust
and crabs.. dust and crabs...
Meanwhile, in the art shop of Rita Lopez and Helen Silva, Rita received a call from
Pepe. Rita is Pepes wife and Helen is a friend. Pepe called Rita to invite her for a dinner
with Paco and Mary to a club in Tovarich. In Tovarich, they met Pete Alfonso, a bandleader
who is seeking a pianist and a singer. Paco applied and got hired. The next important
thing that happened was that Pepe found Connie Escobar naked inside the club and
talked to her for he knows Connie needs him, with a promise to Rita that he would just do
it with a couple of minutes. After a short talk with Connie, Pepe went back to Rita and
told her and the rest of the group to go home without him so he can help Connie in her
problem, which made Rita get angry.

by Francisco Sionil Jose
My name is Jacobo Salcedo but after high school, since coming to Manila from the old
hometown, I have been called Jake, an American nickname about which I cannot do
anything. Not that I dislike it but there is something about the name my townmates
called me, Jacobo, that I found distinctive for in the old hometown, I was the only one

with that name. This is also the name that a girl, Gina, and her older brother who was my
friend in grade school knew me. Gina belonged to a very rich family, in fact the richest in
our town. I was from way, way below her on the social ladder.
I was explaining to an English business associate the other day that, in the Philippines,
the idea of class so prevalent in Britain is not perceive as such, and there is no
consciousness of class brought about by speech, manners, breeding. The idea of class is
not absent in the Philippines but is often disregarded as long as an individual has money,
lots of it-for money can buy everything, even honor.
I say all this now with some nostalgia and hindsight knowing that I realize it in childhood
and aspired early enough for class, for station in life similar to Gina's. This aspiration was
not colored then by political hues but it was there, nurtured in the heart more than in the
mind of a boy who came from a village. This village where I was born was not, in a sense,
isolated and extremely poor; in fact it was at the rim of the town of San Jacinto which, as
everyone in the town knew, was encompassed by the big Garcia hacienda. Antonio
Garcia the patriarch was Gina's father.
My father raised fighting cocks and sometimes I thought he loved those roosters more
than my mother and me for he was always with them, stroking them. He also liked liquor,
usually Ginebra San Miguel. He was very pleasant even when he lost in the cockpit,
which was almost always. He would come home with a dead bird which would end up in
the pot. Mother work hard selling fish and salt in the market, waking up early to get her
share from the supplier. She also sold jueteng bets.
I was only a child and thought I never missed a meal, there always seemed to be so little
food in the house. Our home was empty expect for the basic things Filipinos need-a
stove, utensils, grass sleeping mats. We slept and ate on the bamboo floor. Both my
parents were, fair, maybe there was some Spanish or Chinese blood in our line although I
never really knew my grandparents.
I went to the school in town and it was my very good fortune to be seated beside Lito
Garcia, Gina's older brother.
The attraction of the opposite sex does not start in puberty; it start much earlier judging
from own feelings at the time although, of course, it was a feeling so undefined and yet
so tender and as real as breathing. It is often called puppy love but I never really
recognize it as such in later years and in such a condescending manner I did not pass, it
was certainly no trivial or hunger that could be quickly quenched or appeased. It lasted
oh so long-to this very day, as a matter of fact, when in my middle age and in my
decrepit state, it should have withered and died.
Lito and I often played truant, swimming in the creek or wandering around in the fields,
fishing, catching frogs. I never really got to understand why Lito liked me. He was a rich
man's son, mestizo. Maybe that was it-I was not too dark like the other peasant children.
In fact, in Manila later on when I was no longer exposed to the sun, I became quite fair.
In any case, children are bonded together not by racial affinity but by shared experience.
Lito and I played often in their big house at the northern edge of town, perhaps the
biggest house in that part of the province, a magnificent brick building with a tile roof
and floors of thick, shiny planks of narra. Living as I did with my parents in a small,
thatched house of bamboo and buri palm walls built by farmers and occasionally repaired
by them, I had marveled at the great effort expended to erect such a grand structure. We
returned close to midnight from the district competition in a fleet of caretelas and parted

in the schoolhouse where we left the odds and ends we used, the athletes their athletic
equipment. We won in the dance competition. I walked Gina to her house. February and
the cool night had a full moon sailing in the sky. I was hungry and so was she; we met a
few townspeople on their way home from the movie house and they asked us how we
fared. "We won! We won!" Gina gushed.


by NVM Gonzalez
Usually I was in bed by ten and up by five and thus was ready for one moreday of my
fourteenth year. Unless
Grandmother had forgotten, the fifteen centavos for the baker down Progreso Street
and how I enjoyed jingling those coins in my pocket!- would be in the empty fruit jar in
the cupboard. I would remember then that rolls were what Grandmother wanted because
recently she had lost three molars. For young people like my cousins and myself, she had
always said that the kind called pan de sal ought to be quite all right.The read of salt!
How did it get that name? From where did its flavor come,through what secret action of
flour and
east? At the risk of being jostled from the counter by early buyers, I would push my way
into the shop so that I might watch the men who, stripped to the waist, worked their long
flat wooden spades in and
out of the glowing maw of the oven. Why did the bread come nut-brown and the size of
my little fist? And why did it have a pair of lips convulsed into a painful frown? In the half
light of the street, and hurrying, the paper bag pressed to my chest, I felt my curiosity a
little gratified by the oven- fresh warmth of the bread I was proudly bringing home for
breakfast. Well I knew how Grandmother would not mind if I nibbled away at one piece;
perhaps, I might even eat two, to be charged later against my share at the table. But that
would be betraying a trust; and so, indeed, I kept myzpurchase intact. To guard it from
harm, I watched my steps and avoided the dark street corners.
For my reward, I had only to look in the direction of the sea wall and the fifty yards or so
of riverbed beyond it, where an old Spaniard's house stood. At low tide, when the bed
was dry and the rocks glinted with broken bottles, the stone fence of the Spaniard's
compound set off the house as if it were a castle. Sunrise
brought a wash of silver upon the roofs of the laundry and garden sheds which had been
built low and close to the fence. On dull mornings the light dripped from the bamboo
screen which covered the veranda and hung some four or five yards from the ground.
Unless it was August, when the damp, northeast monsoon had
to be kept away from the rooms, three servants raised the screen promptly at six- thirty
until it was completely hidden under the veranda eaves. From the sound of the pulleys, I
knew it was time to set out for school.
It was in his service, as a coconut plantation overseer, that Grandfather had spent the
last thirty years of his life. Grandmother had been widowed three years now. I often
wondered whether I was being depended upon to spend the years ahead in the service of
this great house. One day I learned that Aida, a classmate in high school, was the old
Spaniard's niece. All my doubts disappeared. It was as if, before his death, Grandfather
had spoken to me about her, concealing the seriousness of the matter by putting it over
as a joke. If now I
kept true to the virtues, she would step out of her bedroom ostensibly to say Good
Morning to her uncle. Her real purpose, I knew, was to reveal thus her assent to my
desire. On quiet mornings I imagined the patter of her shoes upon the wooden veranda

floor as a further sign, and I would hurry off to school, taking the route she had fixed for
me past the post office, the town plaza and the church, the health center east of the
plaza, and at last the school grounds. I asked myself whether I would to walk with her
and decided it would be the height of rudeness. Enough that in her blue skirt and white
middy she would be half a block ahead and, from that distance, perhaps throw a glance
in my direction, to bestow upon my heart a deserved and abundant blessing. I believed it
was but right that, in some such way as this, her mission in my life was disguised. Her
name, I was to learn many years later, was a convenient mnemonic for the qualities to
which argument might aspire. But in those days it was a living voice. "Oh that you might
be worthy of uttering me," it said. And how I endeavored to build my body so that I might
live long to honor her. With every victory at singles at the handball court the game was
then the craze at school -- I could feel my body glow in the sun as though it had instantly
been cast in bronze.
by Leoncio P. Deriada
Mariana looked out of the window toward the other side of Artiaga Street. A group of men
had gathered around a low table in front of Sergio's sari-sari store. It was ten o'clock,
Tuesday morning. Yet these men did not find it too early to drink, and worse. They
wanted her husband to be with them. Victor was now reaching for his shirt hooked on the
wall between Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos. Mariana turned to him, her eyes wild in
repulsion and anger.
"Those filthy men!" she snarled. "Whose dog did they slaughter today?"
Victor did not answer. He put on his shirt. Presently, he crawled on the floor and searched
for his slippers under the table. Mariana watched him strain his body toward the wall,
among the rattan tools. He looked like a dog tracking the smell hidden carrion.
"My God, Victor, do you have to join them every time they stew somebody's pet?"
Victor found his slippers. He emerged from under the table, smoothed his pants and
unbutton his shirt. He was sweating. He looked at his wife and smiled faintly, the
expression sarcastic, and in an attempt to be funny, "it's barbecue today."
"I'm not in the mood for jokes!" Mariana raised her voice. "It's time you stop going with
those good-for-nothing scavengers."
Her words stung. For now she noted an angry glint in Victor's eyes. "They are my friends,
Mariana," he said.
"You should have married one of them!" she snapped back. Suddenly, she straightened.
She heard Sergio's raspy voice, calling from his store across the street. It was an ugly
voice, and it pronounced Victor's name in a triumphant imitation of a dog's bark.
"Victor! Victor! Aw! Aw!" the canine growl floated across Artiaga Street. Mariana glared at
her husband as he brushed her aside on his way to the window. She felt like clawing his
face, biting his arms, ripping the smelly shirt off his back. "I'm coming," Victor answered,
leaning out of the window. Mariana opened her mouth for harsher invectives but a sharp
cry from the bedroom arrested her. It was her baby. She rushed to the table, pick a cold
bottle of milk, and entered.
In his rattan crib that looked like a rat's nest, the baby cried louder. Mariana shook the
crib vehemently. The baby - all mouth and all legs - thrust in awkward arms into the air,
blindly searching for accustomed nipple.
The baby sucked the rubber nipple easily. But Mariana's mind was outside the room as
she watched her husband lean out of the window to answer the invitation of the dogeaters of Artiaga Street.

"Aren't you inviting your wife?" she spoke loud, the hostility in her voice unchecked by
the dirty plywood wall. "Perhaps your friends have reserved the best morsel for me.
Which is the most delicious part of a dog, ha, Victor? Its heart? Its liver? Its brain? Blood?
Bone? Ears? Tongue? Tail? I wish to God you'd all die of hydrophobia!"
"Can you feed the baby and talk at the same time?" Victor said. She did not expect him
to answer and now that he had, she felt angrier. The heat from the unceilinged roof had
become terrible and it had all seeped into her head. She was ready for a fight.
The baby had gone back to sleep. Mariana dashed out of the room, her right hand tight
around the empty bottle. She had to have a weapon. She came upon her husband
opening the door to little porch. The porch was at the top of the stairs that led out into
Artiaga Street.
"Why don't you do something instead of drinking their stinking tuba and eating that filthy
meat? Why don't you decent for a change?"
Victor turned her off. It seemed he was also ready for a fight. The glint in his eyes had
become sinister.

by Leoncio Deriada
Suddenly he was awake. But the sound of the sea still echoed and he saw that the
moonlight was in the room. It filtered through the pomelo tree in the window.
The dream. He was on the beach throwing pebbles at the moon. He hit it, and like
fireworks, its face burst into rainbow flames. The peacock splinters filled the heavens. he
poised his hands to catch the drops of blue and red and green, but they all fell into the
sea in sizzling magnificence. He watched the pageant in a mixture of fear and
admiration, till there was no more of the moon but the moan of the tide the darkness
screamed. He was lost, afraid.
He woke up and saved himself from that chaos.
He felt his face and his mouth with his trembling hands. He was not dead. It was great to
be alive somehow, to rediscover that he was one of the inhabitants of this room of
hanging shirts, unplanned lesson plans, and the smell of tempera.
Alexs tempera of trees and hills were carelessly thumb-tacked above Dardos cot. The
moonbeams did not hit the paintings but they concentrated on Dardos prosaic figure,
zebra like in his pajamas. Inside his mosquito net, he must be dreaming of the preserved
animals in his biology room.
Alex hated biology back in college and so he ended up teaching grammar and
economics. Economics! There was nothing to dream about the law of diminishing returns;
he would rather dream of prehistoric flora and fauna. But there must be color and
movement in all: tangerine toads jumping on ponds of blue bordered by dragon-green
thalophytes and bryophytes, while in the background, Van Gogh inspired paramecia
danced a bayanihan of mammoth slippers all fiery in Martian red.
Alexs hand dangled out of the mosquito net (ah, Durers hand of the artist!), limp and
graceful in a ballet of its own. The wall above him was a wilderness of canvases
cardboard, cartolina, Manila paper, formal theme notebook sheets enough to shame
any thin bloodied impressionist.
Three men in the room. They would have been four, but Rollys girl got him in mid-August
before the poor boy could find a boardinghouse for honeymooners. So right now, in the

other room, Rolly and Tina dreamed married peoples dreams. Children perhaps. Or a
house of their own.
The dreamer of the moon got up. His cot creaked. He had slept with all his day clothes
on. The mosquito net was not hung; the tiny suckers must have feasted on his moonmaddened blood. It did not matter anyway. Nobody thought of malaria in the moonlight.
For now his blood was thick, surging, boiling. The full moon had stirred a high tide in him,
a passion or a curse more intense than a vampires. There was a hunger in him, a thirst
for something he did not know yet was there reflected on the leaves the moment the
moon painted the town white with silence.
And this silence roared with the strength of an ocean against a coral beach.
The beach was far away (90 kilometers) and long ago (five years), when he was still a
college junior tired of class meetings, lectures, and the school paper that printed his
sobbing poems. During those days a vacation or a sound sleep was as precious as
diamonds. And when the summer vacation came, the diamonds were found on the
Moonlight on the beach in mid-May never became part of the lost summers. It cam again
and again long after he had thrown all those tearful verses into the fire and Alex had
become editor of the school paper, long after a girl who could sing told him over
barbecue and coke he had been a very good boy and she liked him very much but sorry
she loved somebody else very very much.
He could have cried. He could have screamed why didnt you tell me long ago damn you
damn you damn you! But he was a good boy and he said I wish you all the luck in the
world. The girl smiled and he walked her home in the moonlight.
He did cry later, not because of his lost first love (that was something to laugh at), but
because the moonlight was so beautiful and the world wasted it by sleeping. That was
the mid-May on the beach far away and long ago.
Teaching poetry to high school seniors was a matter of Gods grace, he foolishly thought
more than thrice, or else he would not have stayed in this dusty-muddy town for four
years. Then Alex and Dardo came.
by Leoncio P. Deriada
It was December and the wind was cold over the pines in the park.
It was December and Dario said, I want to die.
But his friend Leo said, dream Dario dream. For death is dead in December.
Dead in December.
Leo wrote poetry. Dario wrote love letters and later he wanted to die. It was not because
of a poetic impulse but because he felt so alone so alone in spite of Leo and Rolly and
Henry and Miss Cobangbang who taught him T.S. Eliot and Shakespeare and Descartes
and Thomas Aquinas. It was not once he had wished to die to dissolve with the wind
and wail over the pines in the park. The wind was always a sadness and Dario fancied
that to be one with the wind was to be away from the sadness that it was.
For Dario was 17 and did not know what it was to be young. Philosophy could not make
much of youth. Literature only deepened melancholia and made intense the desire to die,
to cease within the midnight with no pain, to say, oh death where is thy sting!
For Dario was 17 and Nena said she didnt love him.
For Dario was 17 and his father was dead. Long ago.
And December was the month of winds. There was a two-week vacation though away
from Miss Cobangbang and the thick books and the blackboards that were not black but
green and forever powdered with chalk. Miss Cobangbang did not write much on the

board and Henry and Rolly always made use of the space by sketching legs and priests
during the class breaks while Leo bent out of the window and reached for the acacia
Leo, Rolly and Henry wee the best friends in the world. And he went with them, laughed
at them.
Ha ha ha!
Cut classes with them. But he would die alone.
It was December 24 and Dario was in the park. He sat on a bench under a pine tree.
Above, the wind strummed the pine needles into a peculiar thin sound that was neither
noise nor music but a sadness. He saw people, probably trying to be lost like him. But
they talked, they laughed.
They sat on benches and ate ice cream and peanuts. Children ran around with balloons
pregnant with helium, on which Santa Claus said in colored greetings: Merry Christmas,
Happy New Year. Tomorrow is Christmas Day, Dario thought. But there was no excitement
in it; the celebration had been there since December 1 and the anticipation made the
Day cheap, ordinary, uninteresting like Christmas trees thick with tinsel leaves and bulbs
that winked mischievously, even maliciously. Christmas was nothing but bargain sales
and populated parks and winds, sad winds.
Im dreaming of a white Christmas. The song was cold like the wind.
The world was people, places, things. It was the wooden white building in Jacinto Street
with acacia trees and benches of wood. It was pens and compositions and debates and
exams. It was the beach at Kabacan and Talomo and Dumoy white, free, forever related
to sunburn. It was Nena beautiful, proud, tall and slim like the silhouette of a palm. The
simile was Leos. One day in the beach:
That old pagatpat is Fr. Malasmas, said Rolly.
That rugged rock is Miss Cobangbang, said Henry.
That palm is Nena. Tall, proud, slim, beautiful, said Leo.
Lets swim, said Dario.
Yes, the world was quite enjoyable, what with these crazy friends and Miss Cobangbang
and her popped eyes and her awful name and epistemology and romantic poetry.
Apparently, Dario remembered nothing but Byrons defective foot and Keats nightingale.
Henry called him Ram. Rolly called him Dar. The arid instructors (except Miss
Cobangbang she wasnt dry in spite of her pistol of a name) called him Mr. Ramos.
People were funny. Nobody called him by his pet name. At home his mother called him
Boy. At home, Mr. Santos, his mothers husband, called him Boy. The neighbors referred
to him as Boy Santos or Santos Boy. Imagine to be called Boy when you were 17 and a
campus sensation.
by Loreto Paras Sulit

HE first saw her in his brothers eyes. The palay stalks were taking on gold in the late
afternoon sun, were losing their trampled, wind-swept look and stirring into little, almost
inaudible whispers.
The rhythm of Fabians strokes was smooth and unbroken. So many palay stalks had to
be harvested before sundown and there was no time to be lost in idle dallying. But when

he stopped to heap up the fallen palay stalks he glanced at his brother as if to fathom
the others state of mind in that one, side-long glance.
The swing of Vidals figure was as graceful as the downward curve of the crescentshaped scythe. How stubborn, this younger brother of his, how hard-headed, fumed
Fabian as he felled stalk after stalk. It is because he knows how very good-looking he is,
how he is so much run-after by all the women in town. The obstinate, young fool! With
his queer dreams, his strange adorations, his wistfulness for a life not of these fields, not
of their quiet, colorless women and the dullness of long nights of unbroken silence and
sleep. But he would bend he must bend one of these days.
Vidal stopped in his work to wipe off the heavy sweat from his brow. He wondered how
his brother could work that fast all day without pausing to rest, without slowing in the
rapidity of his strokes. But that was the reason the master would not let him go; he could
harvest a field in a morning that would require three men to finish in a day. He had
always been afraid of this older brother of his; there was something terrible in the way he
determined things, how he always brought them to pass, how he disregarded the soft
and the beautiful in his life and sometimes how he crushed, trampled people, things he
wanted destroyed. There were flowers, insects, birds of boyhood memories, what Fabian
had done to them. There was Tinay she did not truly like him, but her widowed mother
had some lands he won and married Tinay.
I wonder what can touch him. Vidal thought of miracles, perhaps a vision, a woman But
no he would overpower themhe was so strong with those arms of steel, those huge
arms of his that could throttle a spirited horse into obedience.
Harvest time is almost ended, Vidal. (I must be strong also, the other prayed). Soon
the planting season will be on us and we shall have need of many carabaos. Milias father
has five. You have but to ask her and Milia will accept you any time. Why do you delay
He stopped in surprise for his brother had sprung up so suddenly and from the look on
his face it was as if a shining glory was smiling shyly, tremulously in that adoring way of
his that called forth all the boyishness of his natureThere was the slow crunch, crunch
of footsteps on dried soil and Fabian sensed the presence of people behind him. Vidal had
taken off his wide, buri hat and was twisting and untwisting it nervously.
Ah, it is my model! How are you, Vidal? It was a voice too deep and throaty for a
woman but beneath it one could detect a gentle, smooth nuance, soft as silk. It affected
Fabian very queerly, he could feel his muscles tensing as he waited for her to speak
again. But he did not stop in work nor turn to look at her.

by Jessica Zafra
Positive, she said cheerily, as if I shouldnt go out and hang myself this instant. I held on
to the phone for a long time; I was sure that if I let go I would fall down. The coffee turned
to mud in my mouthI ran to the sink and heaved. Congratulations, its a fetus. You
frigging idiot.
Afterwards I sat at the kitchen table and tried to make sense of the stuff swirling around
in my head. Visions of blood and umbilical cords and feeding bottles whirled before my
eyes like malevolent frisbees. The newspaper was lying next to the platter of toast; I read
the headline about two hundred times. May use poison gas, Iraq warns. Next to it a
picture of a dead Kurdish woman clutching the body of her dead child. Mother. Child. I felt
like throwing up all over again. I imagined a creature ripping out of my stomach in a gory
mess, like the monster in Alien.
There was a Post-it note on the mirror: Lunch with Lawrence, 12:30, Lawrence being a
fifty-fifty candidate for the father. I painted a face on and stared at the mirror. I saw my
belly swelling up, my clothes rising like a circus tent, and all I could think about was the
ten pounds Id just lost, and the new dress I bought to mark the occasion. Finally I got my
new dress out of the closet and put it on while it still fit.
In the elevator my next-door neighbor smiled and said Good morning. She had this sort
of knowing smile, and I found myself wondering if she knew about me. I wasnt just being
paranoid; this is Manila, the neighbors know everything. They are extremely sympathetic,
and if you let them they will take over your life. It turned out she was just trying to sell
me a watch. Her husband had managed to get out of Kuwait by driving across the desert,
and when he got home the banks refused to change his Kuwaiti dinars. Thats why she
was selling his watches. I felt kind of sorry for Mrs. Santos, setting out with her imitation
Gucci handbag and several dozen gold bracelets to sell her husbands watches. Or was it
Mrs. San Juan, I can never remember.
A nervous breakdown wouldve been in order, or a fit of tears and keening, the kind that
comes with a runny nose and smeared mascara. But Ive never been one for hysterics.
Thanks to my parents, by the time I was eight, the sight of a chair being hurled across
the room was no longer cause for alarm. Maybe there is something to be said for a lousy
home life. Ramon says my emotional range is limited to rage, guilt, and occasional
hilarity. He neglected to mention blanknesssthere are times when I just dont feel
Ramon also claims he can read my thoughts by looking at mehe says Im transparent. I
hope so; its embarrassing to tell somebody theres a fifty per cent chance that he may
be a father in several months.

By the time it occurred to me to catch a ride I was halfway to my office and decided to
walk the rest of the way. I was swallowed up by the crowd of people hurrying to work;
rising above the din of traffic, their footfalls sounded like the marching of a distant army.
In front of the church where rosaries and good-luck charms were sold under the baleful
stare of the Archangel Michaels statue, a strange figure appeared on my right; a filthy
man with long, matted hair. A tattered bag was slung across his bare chest, upon which
his ribs protruded like spikes. A thick layer of soot covered his emaciated bodyhe
looked like a walking pile of ashes. He started speaking to me in urgent tones, as if he
were revealing important secrets, and there was a crazy glint in his eyes. I understood
nothing. He was speaking either in dialect of in gibberish, I couldnt tell, I looked on
stupidly. People stared, expecting perhaps that he would produce a cleaver and hack me
to death. The man went on with his weird recitation; why he chose me I had no idea,
maybe he could see past the designer clothes into my dark and grimy soul.
by Tara FT Sering

The thin, feathery, tall grass swayed with the wind in an endless wave of goodbye. There
was no returning now. Beyond the grassy field, Bibi could glimpse her older sister Pia,
their cousin Allen, their neighbors Jaime, Joseph and Jasmine. They were waving and, Bibi
could tell from afar, giggling.
The high afternoon sun rippled in its own heat, and with very little shade in the newlydeveloped residential community in the outskirts of the city, everything wilted and baked
and hardened under its glare. There were no clouds.
It was the afternoon of the Third World War and the opposing campsPia, Bibi and Allen
versus Jaime, Joseph and Jasminewere dressed in full battle gear: denim pants,
waterproof jackets, lab glasses, slingshots draped on their shoulders and bottle cap
ammunition in plastic packets tied to their belts. Midway into the conflictboth teams
ducking behind parked cars, climbing an occasional short tree, diving into shrubs, hurling
rotten guavas and water balloons at each othersomeone had released a bottle cap
from a slingshot and it went flying past a vacant lot where it landed somewhere near the
Araa house. A faint yet audible chink of glass breaking sent threads of cold
apprehension running through the backs of the sweat-soaked soldiers and, one by one,
they emerged from their hiding posts and gathered on the street.
No one would admit to the crime and yet, responsible Pia, the oldest in the group,
declared that of course someone had to go and check. On the basis of seniority, Pia had
the authority to appoint anyone on a mission to survey the damage; but Jaime could not
be persuaded, Joseph followed everything Jaime did and did not do and therefore could
not be forced to go alone, and it seemed unfair to send either of the smaller kids, Allen
and Jasmine, who stood side by side, on the verge of tears. Pia herself refused to go or
explain why. It had to be Bibi, or their mama would soon find out that someone was
failing math in school, and it wasnt Pia.

From where they stood, the Araa house looked quiet and undisturbed, a consolation for
Bibi that the house might be deserted. She only needed to wade through the waist-high
grass to get to where the silent house stood, check how much damage they had caused,
report back to base, and everything would be fine.
It was natural perhaps that Bibi, in the years that followed, would forget about that hot
afternoon, only to remember it at certain points in her life: for instance, when she
returned home from work one afternoon and found that her husband had cleared out his
closet, she stood there at the doorway of their bedroom, feeling the cool glass of the
Araa houses windows pressed against her nose, the one that she had peered into years
ago when she was nine.
Under the blazing sun, Bibi turned to the five tiny figures one more time, squinting
through the white glare. Sweat from her forehead trickled down her face and tears
threatened to burst through her eyes. Her hands were cold, electrified. Her feet were
heavy and half-paralyzed as she stood in front of the low, rusty grille gate. Her heart
thumped, sank, slid down to her stomach.
She pushed open the creaking gate and waited for a sign of dogs. There were none. She
began to take small, careful steps along the pebble-washed path that led to the main
door, but a gallery of windows to the left of the large, intricately carved wooden door
caught her attention. The orders were for her to check for something broken and if it
wasnt a window, then the bottle cap must have hit something of less importance.

by Katrina Tuvera
TITA GILDA didnt know what it would do to me, years ago when she decided I should
have a room of my own. Or if she knew, it didnt make a difference. Her biggest worry
then was summer: it was simply taking too long. All that month I stayed home, hardly a
day passed when she didnt catch me toying with something she owned -- a prayer book,
a locket, or her saints arranged like a chorus line on her dresser. She said as much to
Father when he came home for the weekend, and before that day was over, she had
moved my bed to the room across the hall.
Secretly I was thrilled, realizing the liberties instantly available. I could eat in bed, or
keep the lamp on for as long as I wanted. I stayed up later each night, playing cards and
daydreaming, or reading until daylight cut through the sky when I would set down my
books, look out the window, and watch summer taking its leave. Charmed by my
solitude, I shunned sleep -- and soon, sleep eluded me.
Today, Im twenty-nine and a true insomniac. Married, for three years now, to a man who
snores. Our neighbors devote three nights a week to the karaoke. Blue Bayou is a
favorite and they render it many ways in a single night, each variation growing more
peculiar with every case of beer they consume. Then there is Elmer, our dog, who wont

eat leftovers but well-fed or not stands all evening outside our window, barking at every
shadow under the moon. Roy, my husband, keeps a gun under the bed and I tell him,
One of these days Ill put a bullet through that dogs head.
And the crooners next door?
Ill blast that karaoke to pieces.
Okay, he says, Anything to help you sleep. Then, patting my thigh, he turns away and
Ive tried everything to cure my condition. No alcohol, no TV after nine. No heavy supper,
though there are times when I eat so little but still stare at the ceiling for hours. Ive
given up smoking, except for one cigarette I must have after climbing into bed. That one
I cant shake off, like locking the door or turning off the light: without it, the day doesnt
feel over. Ive been warned against sleeping pills but two streets away a pharmacy sells
Halcion over the counter, and who am I to tell them they should know better?
At night, when I cant sleep, I make all kinds of lists -- whats left in the refrigerator, the
clothes Ill wear for the week, the days I visit Dr. Luna. One of Roys uncles, an actor,
formed a theater company called Footlights two years ago and he pays me to write
publicity. I do that too, even if Roy finds it annoying when he wakes up and sees I have
brought work to bed. He says Ill sleep better if I stop working early, and forbids sweets
after supper. And he says, Stop thinking about your father. Yet he knows I had insomnia
long before the old man died.
SOME NIGHTS I drop in on Tita Gilda, now alone in her dead brothers house but for a
maid. I eat supper there when I know Roy will come home late but Im good about calling
first to give notice. Its always the same when I visit: I arrive and shes in her room,
praying. She makes me wait in the terrace where it is cool and I can stare at the guava
tree I used to climb as a girl. When she finally joins me, she asks, though she already
knows, how long Ive been waiting.
In her fifties now, my aunt is still a fair woman, hair in soft curls, back straight as a pole.
She calls this Gods reward, and it could well be: the signs of aging may not be so hidden
today if shed taken a husband and had children of her own. But marriage was not for this
desperately pious woman. If Father hadnt sent for her after Mother died when I was
barely nine, Tita Gilda might have settled for a convent. But then, Fathers house wasnt
much different after my aunt took over, with her candles and the verses she posted
by Aida L. Rivera

Tinang stopped before the Seoras gate and adjusted the babys cap. The dogs that
came to bark at the gate were strange dogs, big-mouthed animals with a sense of
superiority. They stuck their heads through the hogfence, lolling their tongues and
straining. Suddenly, from the gumamela row, a little black mongrel emerged and
slithered through the fence with ease. It came to her, head down and body quivering.
Bantay. Ay, Bantay! she exclaimed as the little dog laid its paws upon her shirt to sniff
the baby on her arm. The baby was afraid and cried. The big animals barked with
Tito, the young master, had seen her and was calling to his mother. Ma, its Tinang. Ma,
Ma, its Tinang. He came running down to open the gate.
Aba, you are so tall now, Tito.
He smiled his girls smile as he stood by, warding the dogs off. Tinang passed quickly up
the veranda stairs lined with ferns and many-colored bougainville. On landing, she
paused to wipe her shoes carefully. About her, the Seoras white and lavender butterfly
orchids fluttered delicately in the sunshine. She noticed though that the purple walingwaling that had once been her task to shade from the hot sun with banana leaves and to
water with mixture of charcoal and eggs and water was not in bloom.
Is no one covering the waling-waling now? Tinang asked. It will die.
Oh, the maid will come to cover the orchids later.
The Seora called from inside. Tinang, let me see your baby. Is it a boy?
Yes, Ma, Tito shouted from downstairs. And the ears are huge!
What do you expect, replied his mother; the father is a Bagobo. Even Tinang looks like
a Bagobo now.
Tinang laughed and felt warmness for her former mistress and the boy Tito. She sat selfconsciously on the black narra sofa, for the first time a visitor. Her eyes clouded. The
sight of the Seoras flaccidly plump figure, swathed in a loose waist-less housedress that
came down to her ankles, and the faint scent of agua de colonia blended with kitchen
spice, seemed to her the essence of the comfortable world, and she sighed thinking of
the long walk home through the mud, the babys legs straddled to her waist, and Inggo,
her husband, waiting for her, his body stinking of tuba and sweat, squatting on the floor,
clad only in his foul undergarments.
Ano, Tinang, is it not a good thing to be married? the Seora asked, pitying Tinang
because her dress gave way at the placket and pressed at her swollen breasts. It was, as
a matter of fact, a dress she had given Tinang a long time ago.

It is hard, Seora, very hard. Better that I were working here again.
by Rony V. Diaz
THE evening before he killed himself, Virgilio Serrano gave a dinner party. He invited five
guestsfriends and classmates in university myself included. Since we lived on
campus in barracks built by the U.S. Army, he sent his Packard to fetch us.
Virgilio lived alone in a pre-war chalet that belonged to his family. Four servants and a
driver waited on him hand and foot. The chalet, partly damaged, was one of the few
buildings in Ermita that survived the bombardment and street fighting to liberate Manila.
It had been skillfully restored; the broken lattices, fretwork, shell windows and wrought
iron fence had been repaired or replaced at considerable expense. A hedge of bandera
espaola had been planted and the scorched frangipani and hibiscus shrubs had been
pruned carefully. Thus, Virgilios house was an ironic presence in the violated
He was on the porch when the car came to a crunching halt on the graveled driveway. He
shook our hands solemnly, then ushered us into the living room. In the half-light,
everything in the room glowed, shimmered or shone. The old ferruginous narra floor
glowed. The pier glass coruscated. The bentwood furniture from the house in Jaen looked
as if they had been burnished. In a corner, surrounded by bookcases, a black Steinway
piano sparkled like glass.
Virgilio was immaculate in white de hilo pants and cotton shirt. I felt ill at ease in my
surplus khakis and combat boots.
We were all in our second year. Soon we will be on different academic pathsVictor in
philosophy; Zacarias in physics and chemistry; Enrique in electrical engineering; and
Apolonio, law. Virgilio and I have both decided to make a career in English literature.
Virgilio was also enrolled in the Conservatory and in courses in the philosophy of science.
We were all in awe of Virgilio. He seemed to know everything. He also did everything
without any effort. He had not been seen studying or cramming for an exam in any
subject, be it history, anthropology or calculus. Yet the grades that he won were only a
shade off perfection.
HE and I were from the same province where our families owned rice farms except that
ours was tiny, a hundred hectares, compared to the Serranos, a well-watered hacienda
that covered 2,000 hectares of land as flat as a table.
The hacienda had been parceled out to eleven inquilinos who together controlled about a
thousand tenants. The Serranos had a large stone house with a tile roof that dated back
to the 17th century that they used dur3ing the summer months. The inquilinos dealt with

Don Pepes spinster sister, the formidable Clara, who knew their share of the harvest to
the last chupa. She was furthermore in residence all days of the year.
Virgilio was the only child. His mother was killed in a motor accident when he was nine.
Don Pepe never remarried. He became more and more dependent on Clara as he
devoted himself to books, music and conversation. His house in Cabildo was a salon
during the years of the Commonwealth. At night, spirited debates on art, religion
language, politics and world affairs would last until the first light of dawn.

by Tita Lacambra Ayala

I felt very lonely, like I wanted to go home somewhere but didnt know where. I swam in
the feeling for a while, staring at the blue flowers on her brown dress
Sisas skin glistens from her own natural oils and the coconut essence and the narrator
wonders vaguely if other parts of her body were just as oily. She also imagines that in a
day or two, Sisa will probably smell rancid and overripe.
The repressed material here has to do with sexuality. But because the narrator is so
young, she is barely aware of what is going on. This awakening happens in a bamboo
house by the sea, drenched alternately by sunlight or moonlight. Over and under its
sawali walls, lizards wove their loveliness and housekeeping without a thought for
human beings.
Sisa has told the narrator of a bird that comes from a long way, so far away that even
as it flies to you its limbs grow and its feathers lengthen ageing in its flight.
She said that if I sat beside the window facing the sea without moving, for hours on end,
a bird would come and sit on my head and nest there.
Is it simply a story designed to make a child keep still, or does Sisa actually believe in the
big bird, or is she trying to teach the protagonist something, and doing it through
metaphoric language?
The bird is a powerful figure, and associated with maleness in the narrators mind. The
imagery used to describe it is undeniably sensuous, deliberately reminiscent of Leda and
her swan.
The girl imagines the shadow of the birds wide wing falling over her as she floats on her
back in the sea, beckoning me out of the water and on the house so that I might sit
there and wait its arrival. In her sleep, she feels the clasp of its claws on her hip, its

weight pressing me closer to the mat, its tail fanning my underside. Sometimes it seems
somewhat sinister when the sea was still and the moon was up I thought it came in
the guise of a bat gliding strongly among the palms. At others, it is mysterious,
invisible like a wind, entering dead-blind into the bamboo house slapping against the
sawali. She is both afraid of it, and sorry for it,
Silently perched on the nipa roof resting its travel-worn head under its wings, hiding
its eyes front the moonlight, its fine head feathers trembling in the wind.
She feels certain it is beautiful-either white-grey like a dove, or bright blue like a
kingfisher brilliant and elusive, the lone flash of color in the black of night, or sliver and
red. But always, half blind, and circling
Endlessly above the house and higher searching for me, uttering a forlorn cry, and
never finding me.
Why half blind or blind? Perhaps this is a reference to the undiscriminating force of
sexuality. The yearning for the bird, which invades her dreams and reduces her to tears is
a yearning for love, a need to be possessed, which she only half comprehends. It is a
waiting which becomes more intense at night.
by Joy Dayrit

THE ROOMS RENT went two thousand pesos over budget but it had a front porch where
she could smoke. And the landlady said she had recently put a heater in the hall
bathroom and courteously showed her how it worked, how to blend the shower water
from warm to hot, how hot the water could be. Steam filled the bathroom. She liked the
bathroom. A beveled mirror above the wash basin and a full-length one behind the door
gave it an illusion of space. She liked the wood floor of the room that would be hers.
Narra, she was told, and though she did not believe it, she knew she would like the feel of
it on her bare feet.
And an avocado tree grew in the garden behind, by the kitchen. She could smoke there,
too. And there were brick steps from the garden path going up the kitchen doorway, four
of them, oro-plata-mata-oro.
There was only one other boarder in the house. He looked her age. She saw him come in
that noon through the garden path, up the four steps, into the kitchen where the landlady
showed her how the gas stove worked. Without matches. You just turn it on, like an
electric stove.
He moved briskly, with semi-grace, was on the path one instant and in the kitchen the

next. The landlady introduced them. Hes a dancer. Shes a VP of a firm in Greenhills. She
was thinking, how could a dancer afford to board here, and he answered her thoughts.
I also sell condominiums. Lives on commissions? She did not believe it.
Buy and sell, he read her thinking further. I buy them when theyre still not there, and
sell at profit after theyre built.
With what? Her mind computed: he needed capital to do that.
With borrowed money you can do anything. What do you do?
Construction, she said.
And homes.
Ah, fate, he said.
What she liked most about the house was the hall bathroom. Her room had a private
bath, as did the other room, but the hall bath have the shower heater, and mornings
were cold. The heater was shared. There was an unwritten schedule. She bathed in the
morning before work. The dancer at any time after that. The hall took in the morning sun
from the porch, and she stepped into this light each day before her bath, stretching in
the sun, upward, downward, right, and left. In the bathroom she locked the door. Here
was her world of silence before the days storm at the office.
She made a ritual of dressing, one step after the other, in timed sequence. Routine
secured in her steadfastness, maintained devotion for competence at work, kept the
mind watchful over the vulnerability of heart.
by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard
Dear Mama,
Thank you for agreeing to have Mindy. Jun and I just dont know what to do with her. Im
afraid if we dont intervene, matters will get worse. Mia, her Japanese American friend,
had to be sent to a drug rehab place. Youd met her when you were here; shes the tiny
girl who got into piercing; she had a nose ring, a belly ring - and something in her tongue.
Her parents are distraught; they dont know what theyve done, if theyre to blame for
Mias problem. I talked to Mias Mom yesterday and Mias doing all right; shes writing
angry poetry but is getting over the drug thing, thank God.
Theres so much anger in these kids, I cant figure it out. They have everything - all the
toys, clothes, computer games and whatever else theyve wanted. I didnt have half the
things these kids have; and Jun and I had to start from scratch in this country - you know
that. That studio we had near the hospital was really tiny and I had to do secretarial work
while Jun completed his residency. Everything we own - this house, our cars, our vacation

house in Connecticut - weve had to slave for. I dont understand it; these kids have
everything served to them in a silver platter and theyre angry.
Were sure Mindys not into drugs - she may have tried marijuana, but not the really bad
stuff. Were worried though that she might eventually experiment with that sort of thing.
If she continues running around with these kids, its bound to happen. What made us
decide to send her there was this business of not going to school. Despite everything,
Mindy had always been a good student, but this school year, things went haywire. This
was what alerted us, actually, when the principal told us she hadnt been to school for
two weeks. We thought the worst but it turned out she and her friends had been hanging
out at Barnes and Noble. Its just a bookstore; its not a bad place, but obviously she
should have gone to school. We had to do something. Sending her to the Philippines was
all I could think of.
Shell be arriving Ubec on Wednesday, 10:45 a.m. on PAL Flight 101. Ma, dont be
shocked, but her hair is purple. Jun has been trying to convince her to dye her hair black,
for your sake at least, but Mindy doesnt even listen. Jun has had a particularly difficult
time dealing with the situation. Its not easy for him to watch his daughter "go down the
drain," as he calls it. He feels he has failed not only as a father but as a doctor.
Its true that its become impossible to reason with Mindy, but Ive told him to let the hair
go, to pick his battles so to speak. But he gets terribly frustrated. He cant stand the
purple hair; he cant stand the black lipstick - yes, she uses black lipstick - and the black
clothes and boots and metal. Ive explained to him that its just a fad. Gothic, they call it.
I personally think it looks dreadful. I cant stand the spikes around her neck; but there are
more important things, like school or her health. Shes just gotten over not-eating. That
was another thing her friends got into - not eating. Why eat dead cows, Mindy would say.
She was into tofu and other strange looking things. For months, she wasnt eating and
had gotten very thin, we finally had to bring her to a doctor (very humbling for Jun). The
doctor suggested a therapist. One hundred seventy-five dollars an hour. She had several
sessions then Mindy got bored and started eating once again. Shes back to her usual
weight, but well, the hair and clothing might scare you, so Im writing ahead of time to
prepare you.Thanks once again Ma, for everything, and I hope and pray that she doesnt
give you the kind of trouble shes been giving us.
Your daughter,
I am One of the Mountain People
by Macario D. Tiu

I did not want to go to Santa Barbara, but Ita Magdum forced me to go there. He wanted
me to have a Christian education. He told me that he was not going to let me remain idle
in the mountains, and consequently become as stupid as ignorant as the rest of his
people. He said that I could learn many things from the Christian and in that way I could
help improve the lot of the whole tribe.
I was then seven summers old and I didnt understand what he was talking about.
Although he made the prospect of going there very tempting, I refuse to go. Not even the
trace of the three-storey school building, of running houses and plenty of food and toys
convinced me that I should leave my home and my friends for Santa Barbara. And so Ita
had to beat me to make me go with him to the Christian town.
We traveled for five days before we reached our destination. The trip was hazardous and
formidable. W crossed the river, Subangdaku, which was infested with deadly crocodiles,
on a raft. We struggled in the deep
marches and inched our way through thick forest.
It was nightfall when we reached the town. Ita immediately left me to the care of the
elderly woman called Nana Loling. She was a kind woman. She assured me that
everything would be alright. But I was not comforted. That night, a nagging desire to
escape a run home kept me awake. But how? In the still of the night, dogs were howling
intermittently. A bad Omen? Then I feared I might get lost on the way or a sawa might be
waiting for me.
In school, I was the laughing stock, because I was not of their kind. How they laughed
when I told them I came from the Green Area, that part of land where no Christian had
ever gone. For that, I was always in trouble. And I was always brought to the principals
office for disciplinary action. Why did you pull Elinitas hair, he would ask. Or why did you
box Bertos ears? And I would answer, because Elinita kicked me and Berto called me
pig and monkey. But I was whipped anyway, no matter what reason I gave. That was
the only way to tame me, I heard them say.
Ita visited me once every two months. Every time he would visit me, Id plead with him to
bring me home. But he would refuse. It was not yet time for me to go home, he would
I was terribly homesick. How I wish I could be at Inas side. Id plead with him to be with
my own people; to sit by the bonfire and listen to the weird stories of the long past of
how the early Balangays at the seacoast of Caraga were attacked by fierce Allah
worshippers and how gallantly our early forebears fought, but were forced to move out to
the mountains. I loved to hear the vaunting of the hunters on how they got the fangs of
the wild boars and crocodile teeth that decorated their necks. I wanted to be like them.
The three-storey building in Santa Barbara was indeed tall, but the trees in Kapalong
were much taller. These was nothing glamorous with those running houses either. They
only frightened me as they whizzed by carrying logs on their backs and screaming

infernally at people to keep out of the road. Food was plenty so were the fruits. But
money was needed before we could get them. At Kapatagan, I could get all the fruits I
wanted for free.
By Loreto Paras- Sulit
The lagoon lay in a quiet hidden sort of splendour. The fine beach sloping gently into it
from the green hills beyond invited the first newcomer for a dip and swim in its clear
We are coming! Here we come! gaily shouted the three boys, throwing their camping
things right and left their excitement.
You have to put up the tent first, quietly reminded nearby. And you have to listen to a
few musts and must- nots before you go venturing in that lagoon.
Oh Uncle! chorused the three in disappointment. What was wrong with you uncle? He
was not a killjoy, no, not. Uncle Sidro who in the past was always the first to push them
into adventure, hunting, fishing, swimming, treasure- hunting. When the three boys first
learned that Uncle Sidro had bought a house near this lagoon, they knew that next
summer they would surely be invited to come over. And they were.
The plan for the summer was that the boys cook their own meals- and be on their own.
For Tony the eldest of the three fatherless brothers, was now sixteen, David was fourteen,
and Berting was twelve.
After the summer heat and closeness of the city, after their examinations and lessons, all
this was certainly a boys dream of paradise. Now here was Uncle Sidro dampening their
spirits with his musts and must nots.
Swiftly they put up their tent, arranged their sleeping bags and things, which out of long
practice and frequent camping they did quite well and quickly.
In between, they threw sidelong glances at Uncle Sidro, who smoked cigar after cigar as
he sat on camp stool nearby. Finally when the boys at last few threw satisfied looks
around, he spoke :Well, boys, I guess you are all set to begin your vacation. You can do
anything you wish but swim in the lagoon.
Oh, Uncle Sidro, was all they could manage. The helpless glances they threw at the
shining lagoon beyond revealed more eloquently their shattered palns and dreams.
You see boys, Uncle Sidro started to explain, you have to understand and help me, I
am responsible to your mother for your safety. She has always entrusted you to me as
you know. When I invite you here for a vacation, I did not count on a shark slipping in one
night into the lagoon and upsetting all our plans.

Oh so it is only a shark, laughed Tony.
There was no answering smile from Uncle Sidro, Only one, but the most vicious and
murderous man- killer, if ever there was one, he rejoined instead. Unless it is killed or
driven out of the lagoon, no one can swim there in safety. I dont dare to trust you in that
lagoon even if only to wet your feet. And as the past, boys, I shall always count on your
honor bright. With that he left them.

By I.V. Mallari
I was a Kakawate tree. I grew on the bank of a river. I had been there for more years than
I could remember. And my branches spread out-some of them reaching almost halfway,
across the river.
Usually I was covered with green leaves. They grew in such great masses, casting such
deep shadow all around, that nothing could grow under me. And when the wind blew,
they rustled and danced to their own music.
Once a year I shed off my old leaves. And for a while, I became covered all over with
clusters of pinkish-purple flowers. I was beautiful then, and I enjoyed watching my image
on the quiet surface of the river.
It was while I was in flower that bumble bees and butterflies came to see me in great
swarms. They hovered over my flowers, sucking the nectar in them. They ticked me, but I
knew that they meant well. Besides, I liked their company and the strange music they
made. And I also needed them. For without them, my flowers could never develop into
Birds came, too. They danced on my branches, or chased one another in the air above
me. They chattered and sang all the time, as they made love to each other. They were
wonderful to watch and listen to.
After their love-making, the birds paired off and set about building their nests in the
crooks of my branches. Each pair worked together, and they did not stop until their nest
was ready.
The nests were made of grass and small twigs, which the birds wove together into what
looked like shallow baskets. But they were so strong that they did not fall off, no matter
how hard the winds blew.
Soon each mother bird laid her eggs in the nest which she and her mate had build
together-sometimes tow, sometimes more. Then she and her mate took turns sitting on
the eggs until the eggs were hatched.

The baby birds kept their parents busy form sunrise until sunset. For they seemed to be
hungry all the time-crying for food every minute of the day.
But the father bird and the mother bird did not seem to mind. For they were good
parents. While one of them kept watch over the nest, ready to protect the young birds
from any harm, the other went out in search of food-seeds, small insects, and worms.
This went on until the young birds were able to fly and be on their own. But sometimes
they did not have a chance to grow up. For birds had many enemies-men and boys, as
well as animals.
Sometimes the parent birds were killed, or caught, while they were in search of food. And
the baby birds, with no one to look after them, soon died of cold and hunger, Sometimes
too, boys climbed up my branches and raided the nests hidden in them, or even took the
nests away with them. And I was sure that the birds would die in the boys hands before
the day was over.
Mill of the Gods
by Estrella Alfon

Among us who lived in Espeleta that street that I love, about whose people I keep
telling tales among us, I say, there was one named Martha, and she was the daughter
of Pio and Engracia.
To all of us, life must seem like a road given us to travel, and it is up to Fate, that
convenient blunderer, whether, that road be broad and unwinding, or whether it shall be
a tortuous lane, its path a hard and twisted mat of dust and stones. And each road,
whether lane or avenue, shall have its own landmarks, that only the traveller soul shall
recognize and remember, and remembering, continue the journey again. To Martha, the
gods gave this for a first memory: a first scar.
She was a girl of twelve, and in every way she was but a child. A rather dull child, who
always lagged behind the others of her age, whether in study or in play. Life had been so
far a question of staying more years in a grade than the others, of being told she would
have to apply herself a little harder if she didnt want the infants catching up with her.
But that was so dismal thing. She had gotten a little bit used to being always behind. To
always being the biggest girl in her class. Even in play there was some part of her that
never managed to take too great a part she was so content if they always made her it
in a game of tag, if only they would let her play. And when she had dolls, she was eager
to lend them to other girls, if they would only include her in the fascinating games she
could not play alone.
This was she, then. Her hair hung in pigtails each side of her face, and already it irked a
little to have her dresses too short. She could not help in her mothers kitchen, and could

be trusted to keep her room clean, but she was not ready for the thing her mother told
her one night when she was awakened from sleep.
It was a sleep untroubled by dreams, then all of a sudden there was an uproar in the
house, and she could hear her mothers frenzied sobbing, and it was not sobbing that
held as much of sorrow as it did of anger. She lay still for a while, thinking perhaps she
was dreaming, until she could hear her fathers grunted answers to the half understood
things her mother was mouthing at him. Then there were sounds that was clearly the
sound of two bodies struggling in terrible fury with each other. She stood up, and like a
child, cried into the night. Mother?
She wailed the word, in her panic finding a little relief in her own wailing, Mother? And
she heard her mothers voice call her, panting out, saying, Martha, come quickly, come
into this room!
Martha got up and stood at the door of the room, hesitating about opening it, until her
mother, the part of a terrible grasp, said Martha! So Martha pushed in the door, and
found her mother and her father locked in an embrace in which both of them struggled
and panted and had almost no breath left for words. Martha stood wide eyed and
frightened, not knowing what to do, just standing there, even though she had seen what
it was they struggled for. A kitchen knife, blade held upwards in her mothers hand. Her
arms were pinioned to her sides by her husband, but her wild eyes, the frenzy with which
she stamped her feet on his feet, and kicked him in the shins, and tried to bite him with
her teeth, these were more terrible than the glint of that shining blade. It was her father
who spoke to her saying urgently, Martha, reach for her knife, take it away. Yet Martha
stood there and did not comprehend until her mother spoke, saying No, no; Martha, your
father deserves to be killed.