January is Zero Waste Month in PH

Through Proclamation No. 760 in 2014 by then President Benigno Aquino III which declared January of every year as Zero Waste Month, the celebration aims to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use. 

During this month-long celebration, we will be launching different activities and events with “Zero Waste” as an advocacy campaign to guide people, businesses, and institutions in changing their lifestyles and practices towards sustainable systems in an ethical, economical, and efficient way, and to ensure that wastes become valuable for other uses.

For more information, please contact:

BFFP PH Project

info@breakfreefromplasticph.org

About BFFP

The Break Free From Plastic (BFFP) is a global movement working towards a future free from plastic pollution. The BFFP PH project is a collaboration of #breakfreefromplastic members EcoWaste Coalition, GAIA Asia Pacific, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Health Care Without Harm Southeast Asia, and Mother Earth Foundation in partnership with Oceana International Philippines.

Asia Kakehashi Project: Call for Applications

Calling all interested high school students!

Asia Kakehashi Project is now open for application until February 10, 2021. High school students (born after April 2, 2003, and before April 1, 2006) who have an interest in experience studying in Japan for an academic year are highly encouraged to apply here for a full scholarship funded by the Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology.

The Asia Kakehashi Project is an initiative created by former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in order to strengthen relations between Japan and its neighboring Asian countries. The said program provides full scholarships to 1,000 Asian high school students, giving them the opportunity to study in Japan’s public and private schools over the next five years. Now in its 4th cycle, the said program will improve the scholars’ global competence skills and share their countries’ culture with more than 40,000 Japanese students.

Another goal of this program is to expose Asian high school students to Japanese culture, local communities, and industries. This means that the students will stay in Japanese host families or in a school dormitory.

For more information, and getting the pre-application file, visit their website: www.afs.ph/kakehashi/

The Year I Last Saw Kel

It was one afternoon in 2019 and I was sitting inside McDanold’s, Espada. Under the fluorescent glow and incessant Love Niya ‘To Pero ‘Di Ako tune, I dunk fries into a sundae nearing its soup stage. In front of me, Kel, who I’ve known since high school, plunged a plastic fork into the McChicken’s meat. He tore away a chunk with his mouth, hardly chewing it before gulping it.

Now, we were in college and had no direction but to eat McDanold’s after class. I stared at Kel who has gone pudgy over the years with his unkempt stubble and hair in a soppy mess like the McSpaghetti children spin over and over on their forks. Our uniforms, passable white polos and black pants, reeked of sweat. Kel’s tummy was asking for freedom. It bulged against that one button doing its best to keep it together.

A pair of fingers snapped in my face.

“You’re not listening.” He said, his mouth filled with chicken and rice.

“What?”

“I said I thought I saw my dad sitting there. He waved at me!” He pointed to an empty seat behind me.

“No one’s there… You’re sure it was him?”

“What?” He looked back at the seat. “He was just there a minute ago! I’m sure it was him – well, it looked like him…”

“Maybe it’s just someone who looks like him. This is your third chicken for today.”

“I see no problem with eating more chicken.”

Kel took out his iPhone 6s from his pocket. There was an extra coating of grease on the screen. He was silent as he scrolled through the barrage of messages on the notifications tab. His eyes began to well up. He held in a sob which might as well have been a dying goat’s bleep. He put his phone down.

“Dad’s in the hospital.”

After that meal, we rode a jeepney waiting on the sidewalk. Although the hospital was located in the same city, it took us more than an hour to arrive outside the emergency room. His older brother, Ken, was there waiting for him. Ken was somewhat taller than Kel. They almost looked alike except Ken was thinner and he had his hair shaved off in acceptance of his looming baldness.

“Kel, they say he’s not gonna last long.” Ken wiped a tissue on his forehead.

“But why? What’s happening to him?” Kel asked.

“We found him unconscious. Mom was calling him for merienda, he wasn’t answering so I searched for him. I saw him facedown on the carpet in the bedroom.”

“I thought he was okay, he was in McDa earlier!”

“You saw him? You’re sure it was him?”

“Well, it looked like him… He was sitting near us – He even waved.” Kel shrugged.

Ken turned to me.  “Did you see him too?’

“No, the seat was empty.” I shook my head.

“It’s starting.” Ken dabbed his head with the tissue again. “I don’t know how to explain this.”

“Can you just tell me what’s happening?” Kel asked.

“Kel, you better see him before he goes. It’s not my place to say.”

The brothers disappeared into the emergency room. After a while, Kel texted me to go home since they will take all night. I said I’ll see him tomorrow in class. There was no reply. Maybe he needed some space.

Compared to our travel to the hospital, my ride home was smoother than usual. For once, I didn’t have to chase after a jeepney nor did I have to sweat out a gallon before I reached the street where my house was. It was an unusual evening. Everything was quiet.

Kel didn’t attend class the next day. I texted him during lunch time and to my surprise, he replied immediately with news of his father’s wake. They were having it at home. Instead of going to McDanold’s like the usual, I spent the afternoon commuting to Kel’s place which was located at the edge of Pasag.

The living room was packed with people on monobloc chairs when I arrived. They all faced an open casket as if they were hoping for Kel’s dad to become the next lord of salvation. A large candle was next to the casket. Its flame languidly danced as the wax dripped by the hour.

The chandelier’s light washed over the room. The shadows seemed to divide and grow under the chairs. It was almost impossible to determine who were people and shadows at that point. A figure separated from the group and as it got closer, I saw Kel wearing a black polo and pants. He had his right hand stuck inside his pocket. There was an attempt at being clean shaven but there were thistles sticking out from his neck and chin. His hair was in a ponytail but still stuck in sweaty clumps on his face.

“Oh, how was class?” He said so normally as if his father wasn’t in a casket behind him.

“Still the same. We just have an assignment due tomorrow. You coming tomorrow?”

“Nah, I have to be here until the end of the week.”

“How do you feel?”

“I don’t know… It feels surreal. So many people!” He said.  “I didn’t even know dad was this famous.”

Ken entered the room with their mother. They brought with them small cups of coffee and ensaymada in shrink-wrap which they handed out to everyone. His mother was a small woman who wore a plain black dress. Her dark hair was cropped short. She smiled at the visitors despite the gloomy reception in the room. Ken was dressed in a polo shirt a little big for his size. His eyes betrayed his stoic movements. They were red and he wiped them occasionally with a handkerchief.

“Come see dad.” Kel said and I followed him.

We passed by the people, half of them appeared bulky with either undercuts or buzzcuts. They were like thugs people would avoid in bars. Although old age had gotten to them already, they were greyer and seemed smaller in stature. They all had an insignia of a boar’s face burned into the back of their hand. One of them saw me staring at it and I walked faster, making sure not to lose Kel in the crowd.  

I realized how tall of a person Kel’s dad was. The casket was huge up close. It was similar to carved out ivory angels delicately placed on a pedestal in churches. His hands were on his chest. His hand on top of the other bore the same insignia as his visitors. On the casket, there were different books and pamphlets. They were brown and crispy. If anyone would touch it, they might crumble like graham crackers in a sad mango float.

“My condolences.” I uttered to Kel and his dad.

My stomach growled as an afterthought.

“You should eat.” Kel chuckled.

“Uhm, I feel fine. I’ll leave in a while.” I clutched my bag for emphasis.

“We have too much food in the kitchen. You can go to my room and I’ll bring food.” He said.

Kel’s bedroom door lurched whenever someone opened it. It was obvious when someone comes in and out even when he slept. Being a random guest for so long, I’ve gotten used to it. But when I entered his room, there was a different air to it. Not because it was dusty and there were probably fungi growing on the walls or because the aircon was on for god knows how long. I couldn’t explain it myself. But there was a presence in it.

I dropped my bag near the door and began looking around. His poster of an anime girl was hanging by one corner. Any moment now it would fall down. Polos and pants were strewn to a side. His bed was a disaster of comforter and pillows thrown around randomly. The only sound came from the hum of the aircon and the whirring of his computer. I sat down in front of the desktop. Nothing out of the ordinary. Except for some books stacked behind the monitor. I plucked one out.

There were countless words I could not understand on the page. But one sentence was lazily smudged out by an eraser: The current host must choose an heir from his offspring.  I flipped through to see more before a snap made me drop the book.

The poster had fallen to the ground. I walked closer to the wall it once stuck to. The boar’s face stared back at me. I picked up the book, expecting to find an explanation about the boar but it was pages and pages of words. The book was maroon and had no title. As I opened it, I heard the lurch of the door. I turned around and saw Kel holding a plate of rice and cordon bleu. We looked at each other. He placed the food on the desk and moved to speak but I cut him off.

“What’s all this?!” I pointed to the insignia then the book.

“Why did you touch my stuff?!”

“Uh… it was lying around.”

“Behind the monitor!”

“Look, it was too obvious of a spot. What did you expect?”

“I didn’t want you to see it.”

“Find a better hiding spot in this mess.”

“You should go home before they find out.”

“Who is ‘they’? The people downstairs?”

“Yeah. You’re not supposed to know. You would be dead if they found out.” He lifted the back of his hand and showed me the same insignia. The wound was fresh, still pink and swollen.

“I don’t understand.”

“You don’t have to. Just eat your food then leave.”

He snatched the book away from me.

I didn’t say another word. I took the plate filled with rice and cordon bleu. I pushed aside the pillows on his bed before sitting down to eat. Kel fished out the other books behind the monitor. There were at least five of them, all in maroon. The other books had yellowing pages and not a single one had a title in them. Kel seemed different. Confident and strict, in fact. Although he still looked and smelled like a slob, he was making an effort to be a new person.

He set the books on the floor and sat at his computer idly clicking on a game filled with anime girls. Their tiny voices filled the room. People might assume we were watching hentai but who cares, right? That was a better scenario than what he was implying earlier.

“So what’s going to happen now?” I asked, chewing the last of the cordon bleu.

“I don’t know. Just don’t tell anyone what you saw.”

“Okay then…” I stood up.

His attention was still on the monitor. Slowly, I walked backwards. I took in the whole view of the room. It felt larger, dangerous even. Maybe if I stayed a longer, I would find out but there was this urge to just go. I casually slid the topmost book from the pile and then got my bag. He didn’t notice anything. His face was still glued to his game and the crowd of anime girls screaming on it.  I held up my bag and hid the book behind it.

“I’ll see you next week then.” I said along with the lurch of the bedroom door.

“Hey.” He said.

I froze. Did he notice?

“Be careful, okay?”

I nodded then closed the door.

I opened my bag and wedged the book between my papers and other books. I went down the stairs. The visitors were still seated in front of the casket. They were conducting a prayer in a different language. Their chants resonated through the living room.

Ken stood from his seat and met me at the base of the stairs.

“You going so soon?” He said.

“Uh-huh… Don’t wanna be home late. We have class tomorrow.” I placed a hand on his shoulder. “Hey, my condolences.”

“You take care, okay?”

“Take care of yourself too…”

Ken stopped at that statement but he was able to muster a wave. In order to break out of the awkwardness, I hurried out the front door.  

When I got out of the gate, I ran towards the main road and got on the first jeepney that stopped. The only thought that I had was to see this book. Whatever it was, I had to know. Why did Kel sound so grim? Why did Ken react that way? Nothing is making sense.

In bed, I opened the book. It was different compared to the other one. This was older and the spine needed some support. There were more images. It was a mix of languages and there were only a few which I recognized like English and Tagalog. The rest was a blur even as I tried to understand the Spanish parts. The boar was on every page. It looked like it came with the words on the page like a commander and his legion of the damned.

The sketches made a little more sense as I progressed. From what I understood, there was a small boar and he grew into a large beast. He lived in the forest until one day a man found him and burned him and his home. A drawing of a green blob represented his self. He found the man and pushed himself into his mouth until he successfully possessed him. The man would go on killing sprees during certain times in a year.

On another page, it showed the man with a family. The boar transferred to his child and the man was dead afterwards. After the sketches, there were more text than images. I couldn’t make out what it meant anymore.

I blacked out.

I was absent in first period. When I entered the classroom for the next subject, people were so shocked to see me.

“Oh my god!! You’re alive!” One classmate said.

“We thought you were dead!” Another one said.

“What do you mean?”

“You don’t know? There was an explosion at Kel’s house ah!” She said.

“That’s not true, I was there yesterday.”

“The news said it happened at midnight.” She brought her phone to my face.

 The headlines showed Kel’s house in ruins.

Family and visitors at the wake did not survive.

I had to reread that line.

Something heavy in my gut started to form and I rushed outside. In the restroom, I stared at myself. Did Kel save me? Did Ken know what was going to happen? Was it an accident? I don’t know anymore.

I skipped my classes for the rest of the day. I found myself in McDanold’s, observing my sundae become soup and dipping all the fries into it. Kel and his family were gone. And it all happened at his father’s wake. If I had stayed there, would I have been able to stop it? I sighed and took the book out from my bag. When I flipped it open, the pages flew out from the spine and crumbled on the floor.

In front of me, there was no one.

Just an empty seat.


JULIENNE MAUI CASTELO MANGAWANG finished BA Asian Studies at the University of Santo Tomas. She is taking up her MA in Creative Writing at the University of the Philippines — Diliman. Her poems are published in 聲韻詩刊 Voice & Verse Poetry Magazine, ALPAS Journal, Inklette Magazine, and is forthcoming in The Rumpus. Her interests include esoteric practices, Japanese studies, and Jungian archetypes. She likes sleeping but sleeping doesn’t like her. At the moment, she is tending to a garden in Makati — anticipating vegetables to be harvested soon and for the hydrangea to be, once again, in full bloom.

Si Lito

Down with imperialism, feudalism, fascism! Makibaka! Huwag Matakot!

Nagmamadaling isara ang mga tindahan sa paligid ng Embahada ng Amerika, nagsimula nang maglakad ang mga raliyista, dala nila ang kanilang mga bandila at malalaking trapal: Imperyalismo, Ibagsak!

Nagmamartsa kami habang lumalabas sa aming ngalangala:

Marcos, Marcos, Magnanakaw!

Marcos, Marcos, Magnanakaw!

Nakaabang na ang Constabulary sa paligid ng embahada, bumulong ang katabi ko, sana hindi 5th o Metrocom ang mga ito. Naintindihan ko ang gusto niyang sabihin, kilalang-kilala ang mga ito bilang malulupit sa mga aktibista. Wala naman akong dapat ikatakot, dahil kilala ako ng mga taga-5th at ilan sa mga metrocom.

Hindi natakot ang mahabang pila ng mga raliyista, sanay na rin naman ang mga ito sa banggan ng mga pulis. Binubuo ang mga demonstrasyon katulad nito ng iba’t ibang ideolohiya, karamihan sa mga ito ay nasa kaliwa ang paniniwala: Mga naniniwala sa turo ni Marx, kay Marx at Lenin, kay Kropotkin, Bakunin, at Emma Goldman. Mayroong hindi binabanggit na pagkakaisa at pagkahati: nakikita nilang dapat na panagutin ang estado sa lahat ng inhustisyang idinulot nito sa sambayanan, pero sa dulo, kung magtagumpay ang pinagkakaisahan nila, mayroong panahon ng pagkawatakwak at alam iyon ng mga ito, dahil bumalikwas ang mga Anarkista kay Lenin matapos nitong magtayo ng awtoritaryadong gobyerno. Pero nagka-isa sila nang pabagsakin ang monarkiya at ang gobyerno ni Alexander Kerensky.

Nang magsimulang magbanggan ang mga pulis at mga raliyista, palihim akong umalis sa hanay. Nanigarilyo lang muna ako sa gilid at pinanood na maghanpasan ang magkabilang panig. Mga tarantadong raliyista, ang sabi ko sa sarili, anong panama ng mga patpatin nilang braso sa baton ng mga pulis.

Nang mapagod ang magkabilang panig, nang mahimasmasan sila ng mga dumudugo nilang mga ulo, nagsi-atras na sila’t senyas na ito na kailangan ko nang bumalik sa hanay. Habang naka-taas ang kamao, sabay-sabay kaming sumisigaw, “Marcos, Hitler, Diktator, Tuta!” hanggang sa kainin ng dilim ang mga nagliliyab na mga mata ng mga kasama kong aktibista.

Dumiretso na agad akong Mendiola pagkatapos, ganito lang ang trabaho ko, sumama sa mga rally at magbalita sa unang ginang ng mga nangyari. Maliban dito, kailangan ko ring maghanap ng espiya ng kano sa mga rally, alam mo naman, ayaw na ayaw ng unang ginang sa CIA. Mga kupal daw ang mga hinayupak na iyon ang sabi niya sa amin, manggagamit daw ang mga hindot. Minsan daw itong bumisita sa palasyo, pinakitaan daw si Makoy ng sangkaterbang dolyar, pero magaling daw si Makoy dahil naamoy na agad niya ang gustong mangyari ng mga kano, alam niya rin ang nangyari sa Indonesia, kaya hindi niya tinanggap ang dolyar. Sinipa daw sila palabas ng palasyo. Kaya sumisipsip na lang sila sa kung saan-saan para makibalita at para may maireport sa Amerika.

Pagpasok ko sa palasyo, umakyat agad ako sa kuwarto ng unang ginang, medyo nasabik ako dahil alam kong magkukuwento na naman iyon tungkol sa mga karanasan nila ni Makoy habang eleksyon noong 1969. Magkatabi lang ang kuwarto ng unang ginang at ang opisina ng Presidente. Palaging nakasarado ang malaking pinto sa opisina ni Makoy, pero palagi kong nakikita na may naglalabas-pasok na mga opisyal mula sa militar.

Binati kami ng unang ginang, nagsipasukan na ang mga katulong, pasan-pasan nila ang malalaking plato. Inilapag nila ito sa mahabang mesang gawa sa makinis na kahoy. “African Blackwood ‘yan, ang pinakamahal na kahoy sa mundo.” Pagmamalaki ng unang ginang. Isa-isa niya kaming pinagsalita kung kumusta ang pinanggalingan naming demonstrasyon. Matagal ang presentasyon ng bawat isa, humigit-kumulang trenta kaming magbibigay ulat sa kaniya. “Mahalaga ang tungkulin ninyo sa bayan,” ang sabi ng unang ginang, “pinagsisilbihan ninyo ang bayan sa paglabas ninyo sa kalsada.”

Walang job opening para sa trabahong ito, nakatanggap na lang ako ng tawag dahil mayroon daw trabahong ibinibigay ang palasyo. Malaki daw ang suweldo at maraming benepisyo. Dahil dating militar si erpats, hindi ko na pinalagpas ang pagkakataong makapaglingkod sa palasyo. Kakaunti lang ang may pangarap na magtrabaho sa gobyerno, marami sa mga kaklase ko noon sa kolehiyo ang pulis na ngayon. Pagkatapos ko sa pag-aaral, hindi ko na itinuloy sa pagiging pulis. Mas malaki ang suweldo sa mga pribadong kompanya, private bodyguard ng kung sinu-sinong personalidad. Pero binitawan ko ito nang ipatawag ako sa palasyo, kailangan daw nila ng mga taong pupunta sa mga aktibidad ng mga maka-kaliwang grupo para magtulak sa mga ito na manggulo. Kailangan na kailangan na daw ni Makoy ng rason para manatili sa puwesto. Sa isip-isip ko, kailangan na kailangan ng Pilipinas si Makoy, siya na ata ang pinaka-matalinong presidente sa buong Pilipinas. Makikita naman iyon sa nangyaring pagbabago sa Maynila nang maupo siya, kasabay ng pagdami ng mga gusali ay ang pagdami ng trabaho. Mas dumami ang sasakyan, mas naging marumi, oo, pero kasama iyon sa pag-unlad.

Ang unang ginang agad ang humarap sa amin noong araw ng oryentasyon. “Mabilis lang ito, mga iho at iha. Ang trabaho niyo lang ay lumabas at makipag-usap sa mga tao sa labas. Alamin ninyo ang nararamdaman nila tungkol kay Makoy, tungkol sa akin, at tungkol sa gobyerno. Kailangan niyo ring pumunta sa mga rally kapag mayroon, babalik kayo dito sa palasyo tuwing biyernes ng hapon.”

Doon nagsimula ang lahat, nakaka-tatlong taon na ako sa trabaho. Marami sa mga kasamahan ko ang umalis, dahil naimpluwensyahan ng mga aktibistang nakasama nila. Masasabi kong naging tapat ako sa unang ginang. Hindi ko hinayaang mabahiran ako ng ideolohiya ng kaliwa, kahit na sabihin na nating palagi akong sumasama sa kanila.

May takot kasi ang unang ginang na isang araw, lusubin na lang ng mga nagrarally ang palasyo. Palagi niyang binabanggit sa amin na binabangungot siya, sakay daw sila ng helicopter papuntang Pawai, pero sa Hawaii sila napunta. Sinira daw ng mga raliyista ang palasyo, binasag ang kanilang mga mukha sa mga painting at sinunog ang koleksyon niya ng mga sapatos.

Kaya naisip niyang gumawa ng grupo na magbabalita sa kaniya ng mga nangyayari sa labas. Mataas, anya, ang pader ng palasyo. Kahit na umungaw siya sa pinakamataas na bintana, langit at pader lang ang nakikita niya. Ipinagpaalam na niya kay Makoy ang plano niya, sinabi ng kaniyang asawa na hindi siya mangingi-alam sa gusto ng unang ginang, basta’t mabibigyan siya ng kopya ng mga report na ipapadala ng grupo. Mayroon rin kasing sariling grupong binuo si Makoy noong 1969, madalas na binubuo ng mga sundalo na may mataas na ranggo.

“Ikaw, iho, halika nga.” Sabi ng unang ginang habang nakaturo sa akin, “Oo, ikaw. Ilang taon ka na?”

“Bente siyete po.”

“Mukha ka lang dise-otso.”

Napangiti ako, “Gusto mong bumalik sa pag-aaral? Kahit anong kursong gusto mo. Ipapasok ka agad, walang entrance-entrance exam. Ang kailangan mo lang gawin ay pumasok sa klase at makibalita. Mas maganda rin kung kaya mong sumali sa mga organisasyon.”

Iyon ang una kong assignment. Pumasok ako sa UP, unang semestre ng 1970. Ibinigay sa akin sa palasyo ang pangalan at student number na gagamitin ko: Rogelio Malabanan, 71 – 16291. Buong semestre kaming hindi bumalik sa palasyo dahil nasa London ang unang ginang, misyon na niyang makipag-usap sa mga lider ng iba’t ibang bansa at hindi na bago ang pag-alis-alis niya. Pilosopiya ang pinakuha nilang kurso sa akin, ang paliwanag sa palasyo, mas madaling makapasok sa inner circle ng mga aktibista kung may koneksyon sa pilosopiya ang kurso.

Hindi naman ako naiba sa kanila, pare-parehas kaming naka-sapatos, pantalon, at kamiseta. Sa canteen sa may Arts and Sciences ako madalas na nakatambay. Maraming grupo doon na nagdedebate tungkol sa bagong librong nabasa nila. Ang napansin ko, madaling nababara ng mga nakapagbasa kay Marx ang mga nagbabasa kay Adam Smith. Pero hindi sila natatapos sa debate, hindi rin nagpapatalo ang mga maka-Adam Smith, palagi silang may tirada sa mga Marxist.  Dito ko rin narinig ang kuwento tungkol kay Makoy, na kahit ako ay hindi ko alam. Nagpipigil na lang ako ng tawa kapag naririnig ko na may sakit daw si Makoy at malapit nang mamatay, na matagal na daw silang hiwalay ng unang ginang kaya madalas itong nasa ibang bansa. Pero ang pinaka-walang kuwenta sa mga narinig ko, malapit na daw ang rebolusyon at makapagtatatag na ng mas magandang lipunan.

Ano namang lipunan ang gusto nilang itayo, sa tuktok ng isip ko. Hindi perpekto ang Pilipinas, hindi rin perpekto si Makoy bilang presidente. Pero ginagawa nila ang lahat para gawan ng paraan ang lahat ng problema ng bansa. Palagi akong nasa palasyo at mas paniniwalaan ko ang mga naririnig ko doon kaysa sa mga estudyanteng ito.

Pero hindi ko itatanggi na minsan, naisip kong baka tama sila. Magaling ang mga estudyanteng ito na magpaliwanag. Marami rin ang nagbibigay ng simpatya sa kanila. Pero hindi nila makita na ang pagsunod at ang pagtulong sa gobyerno ang pinakamagandang gawin nila kaysa mag-organisa.

Para mas mapalawig pa ang kaalam ko tungkol sa aktibismo, sinubukan kong sumali sa mga organisasyon. Nakakuha na rin ako ng sapat na kaalam para magamit sa mga tanong nila tungkol sa lipunan. Mayaman ang Pilipinas, ngunit naghihirap ang sambayanang Pilipino. Kapag binanggit mo ito sa mga aktibista, ituturing ka na nila bilang kasama. Naramdaman kong nagdududa sila sa akin noong simula, lalo na at kumakalat sa unibersidad ang balita na nagkalat na ang mga intel sa loob, pero nawala ang pagdududa nila sa akin nang sunod-sunod ang pagdalo ko sa mga aktibidad ng organisasyon. Sa final rights, tinanong nila ako nang harap-harap, habang nakapiring ang mata, kung isa ba akong intel ng gobyerno. Hindi ako kinabahan sa pagsagot na isa lang akong estudyante. Pabiro pa nila akong tinanong kung bakit ang ganda ng bigote ko at hindi ako mukhang bagong graduate sa highschool. Ipinaliwanag ko naman sa kanila na ilang beses akong tumigil noon sa probinsya. Tinanong nila kung saan ang probinsya ko, ang sabi ko sa Bicol. Hindi na ako nagsinungaling dahil alam kong patibong iyon. May nagsalita ng Bikol sa mga nag-interbyu sa akin. Sinagot ko rin siya sa Bicol.

Pagkatapos ng final rights, miyembro na nila ako. Natapos ang gabi sa inuman. Kailangan lang magkaroon ng tiwala, iyon ang pinakamahalaga para makuha mo ang gusto mo sa kanila. Kapag may tiwala, kapag alam nila na nasa iisang pahina kayo. Madaling magbigay ng detalye, mas mabilis dumulas ang dila.

Nang bumalik ang unang ginang mula sa London, kami ang una niyang pinatawag. Mayroon daw siyang ibabahagi sa amin. Pagdating namin sa palasyo, malaking piging ang sumambulat sas amin. Tuwang-tuwa daw ang unang ginang sa mga natutunan niya sa London at gusto niyang ikuwento sa lahat ang kaniyang nalaman. Tumigil sa trabaho ang lahat ng mga opisyal sa palasyo, pati ang mga nagtatrabaho sa kongreso ay inimbitahan. Hindi dumalo si Makoy, mayroon daw itong importanteng lakad sa embahada ng Amerika.

Sinimulan ng unang ginang ang kaniyang talumpati sa pagpapakilala ng panibago niyang proyekto. Dahil na-inspire siya ng moon landing ng Amerika, gusto niyang magkaroon ng programa ang Pilipinas na magdadala sa mga Pilipino sa kalawakan. Ito ay isasagawa kasama ng gobyerno ng Amerika. Naibahagi rin ng unang ginang ang mga bagay na hindi nakikita, mga malilit na particles sa kalawakan na nakaapekto sa lahat ng tao sa mundo. Maipapaliwanag nito ang mga galaw ng tao, mga taong kumokontra sa gobyerno, mga kriminal, mga taong inihihiwalay ang sarili nila sa lipunan. Konektado ito, ayon sa unang ginang, sa Mercury Retrograde. Kapag nakarating ang mga Pilipino sa kalawakan, maaaring simulan ang pag-aaral sa mga particles na ito, magiging kilala ang Pilipinas bilang isa sa pinaka-unang bansa na magbibigay daan sa pag-aaral ng mga hindi pa napapangalanang particles. Mababago nito ang pagtingin natin sa lipunan, maraming teorya sa siyensya at humanidades ang maluluma, dahil sa huli ay kinokontrol tayo ng mga bagay na hindi natin kayang kontrolin, o hindi pa natin alam kung paano kontrolin.

Mauungusan ng Pilipinas ang Amerika at ang Rusya, ang sabi ng unang ginang, at sa wakas ay maipapakita natin kung ano ang tunay na anyo ng demokrasya na hindi alam ng dalawang bansang ito.

Dumagundong ang palakpakan, may ilan sa mga kasamahan ko ang tumayo para ipakita ang kanilang suporta sa unang ginang. Nagngingitian kami, nagkakamayan. Tinipon ulit kami ng unang ginang pagkatapos, interesado akong malaman kung ano ang maibabahagi ninyo sa akin, ng sabi nito, hawak niya ang kaniyang abaniko na pamaypay. Kumusta ang mga aktibista sa UP, ano na ang nangyari sa KM, ano na ang mga proyekto ng SK?

Nasa Nang malaman ng unang ginang na napakaraming ideya ang nanggagaling sa mga kabataan, nabanggit niya ang Fahrenheit 451 ng isang Ray Bradbury. Paano kaya, ang sabi ng unang ginang, na imbes na ipagbawal ang libro, suportahan natin ang mga nagsusulat sa Pilipinas. Palaguin natin ang kanilang ideya, ipalaganap sa mga aklatan ang mga sinulat nila. Wala tayong pipiliin, maka-kaliwa man o maka-kanan, basta’t may ideya, suportahan. Sa ganitong paraan, mas maraming pag-uusapan at pag-aaralan. Tatalino ang mga tao, pero hindi makakaramdam. Naiintindihan ba ako?

Walang gumalaw sa amin, ang punto ko, pagtutuloy ng unang ginang, kung ito ang totoo, habang hawak niya ang abaniko, ano pa ang totoo tungkol dito?

Kung ang pamaypay ko ay isang gawang sining, hindi na ito pamaypay, isasabit na lang ito sa dingding at titingnan ng mga tao. Pero pag-uusapan pa rin nila kung ano nga ba itong hawak ko, palamuti o pamaypay. Pag-uusapan nila ang gumawa ng pamaypay pero matagal nila bago pag-usapan ang may hawak nito. Kailangan nating ilayo ang mga tao sa iisang ideya.

Sa sobrang tuwa ng unang ginang sa kaniyang bagong ideya, pina-uwi niya agad kami. Namumula ang kaniyang pisngi na parang makopa. Tumatalon-talon siyang parang bata papunta sa opisina ni Makoy. Bago siya pumasok, pinasalamatan niya kami, pinaalalahanan na kasaysayan ang ginagawa namin at napakalaking pasasalamat ang ibinibigay ng palasyo sa mga serbisyo namin.

Pagkatapos ng ilang buwan, napansin kong mas dumami ang mga estudyante sa UP ang umaalis para mag-aral sa ibang bansa. Ang ilan sa kanila, mga aktibistang nasasakal na sa paranoia ng napaka-tagal na psych-warfare na ginagawa ng estado. Mayroon na kasing maingay na kuwento-kuwento na magpapatupad ng Martial Law si Makoy para palawigin ang kaniyang termino. Ayon sa bagong konstitusyon, pupwedeng magbaba ng Martial Law ang presidente nang hindi humihingi ng permiso sa kahit anong sangay ng gobyerno. Magkaroon lang ng panganib sa pundasyon ng gobyerno, pupwede itong ipatulad. Habang patuloy ang pagpaslang sa mga akbitistang lumalagpas sa hangganan ng kanilang kalayaan, kapag naamoy naming lumalapit na sila sa paghimok sa mga kapwa estudyante na mag-aklas, kapag umingay na ang pangalan nila pati sa labas ng unibersidad, kailangan silang iligpit. Hindi kami ang gumagawa noon, nagbibigay lang kami ng report tungkol sa estudyante, kung anong oras madalas na umuuwi sa dorm, kung saan nagpupunta, kung saan madalas naka-tambay.

Naglabas rin ang unibersidad ng mga grants sa mga mananaliksik at manunulat. Marami ang mga manunulat na nagpasa ng aplikasyon, maraming akda ang nailabas sa taong 1974 hanggang 1982. Pati si Makoy ay naglabas ng kaniyang mga libro na tumatalakay sa kaniyang pilosopiya sa pagpapalakad ng gobyerno. Ito ang rebolusyon, sabi niya sa kaniyang libro, bilang patama sa mga rebolusyonaro’t miyembro ng mga tinatawag niyang teroristang grupo.

Hindi nagtagal, may ilang estudyante ang nagbigay ng suporta kay Makoy. Ang ilan ay naimpluwensyahan ng mga propesor sa College of Law na kabarkada ni Makoy noong nag-aaral pa ito ng pag-aabugasya. Nagtayo sila ng organisasyon para mas mapalawak pa ang kanilang paniniwalang ang rebolusyon na kailangan ng Pilipinas ay pagsuporta sa mga repormang ginagawa ni Makoy.

Nang magsimula ang first quarter storm, isa ako sa mga nanatili sa tuktok ng Engg nang magkaroon ng Diliman Commune para magsindi ng kuwitis at takutin ang mga dumadaang helicopter. Nagtawanan ang mga kasama kong aktibista pagkatapos ng ginawa naming pagpapalipad ng mga kuwitis, kapag tiningnan kasi sa malayo, mukha itong mga bala ng bazooka. Hindi na bumalik ang mga helicopter pero mas naging mainit ang mga nangyayari sa mga entry-points ng unibersidad. Nabalitaan rin namin na mayroong mga estudyanteng nabaril sa University Avenue. Tumutugtug naman ang pagkanta ni Makoy sa kirida niyang si Ms. Beams.

Sa unang pagkakataon, naramdaman ko na kabilang ako sa kanila. Naaliw ako sa paraan ng pagkukuwentuhan ng mga nakasama ko habang sama-sama kaming kumakain. Ito ba ang hindi ko nakikita, ang tanong ko sa sarili, hindi ganito sa palasyo. Hindi ko nakakakuwentuhan ang unang ginang ng mga bagay na labas sa kaniyang interes. Napukaw ang atensyon ko ng mga nagkukuwento tungkol sa mga libro na nakuha nila sa Main Library. Mga libro daw itong hindi pa nailalabas para magamit ng mga estudyante. Ipinapakita nila ang mga nakuha nilang libro, mga libro ni Lenin at ng mga rusong manunulat. Tayo ang magsisimula ng Bolshevik ng Diliman, ang  matikas na sabi ng isa, tayo ang Red Army ng ating panahon!

Pagkatapos magpalitan ng mga pinapangarap nilang maging, nagbago ang takbo ng usapan nang mapunta ang usapan sa kung ano ang dapat na maging. Hindi naman malayo sa akin ang mga ganitong tanong dahil sa mga napasukan kong klase sa pilosipiya. Paano na lang ang kuryente kapag nagkaroon ng rebolusyon, paano ang tubig, paano na lang ang pagkain. Natatapos ang ganitong usapan sa pagbalik sa masa, ang masa ang magbibigay. Sila ang may hawak ng lakas paggawa at sila ang makapagbibigay ng mga iniisip nating unang suliranin. Sa ngayon, mga kasama, gawin natin ang lahat para mabago ang lipunan. Malayo pa ang laban pero hindi ito malabo.

May isang matandang tibak ang dumating, pinaalalahanan niya ang mga kasama namin na kailangan nilang ibalik ang mga libro sa main library dahil pagmamay-ari ng mga estudyante ng hinaharap ang mga libro doon. At natulog kami, kasama ng mga sikretong hindi ko masabi sa kanila, kasama ng mga huni ng kuliglig.


(Portrait: Alex Llorente)
Lumaki si Victoria Garcia sa Partido, Camarines Sur. Nagtapos ng BA Political Science sa University of Nueva Caceres. Kasalukuyan siyang nakatira sa Naga at nagsusulat para sa Tribuna, isang maliit na dyaryo sa Sorsogon, Sorsogon. Maaaring mabasa ang kaniyang nobela sa website ng Tribuna, pati na rin sa opisyal na Facebook Page nito. Kumonek sa kaniya sa https://www.minds.com/victoriagarcia/.

In The Name of Humanity

A death will always be a death, no matter how you spin it. The weight of the tragedy doubles, triples, and increases interminably, when you find out that possibly eleven men caused it, and the death was the result of rape. The death becomes more than just death, but cold-blooded murder, one committed against a most helpless of victims. It goes without saying that we need to sit down and talk about certain things, things that were probably not spoken of at home, between mothers and sons, or fathers and sons. These things are locked down deeper than illicit Marcosian wealth.

It’s about the nature of power, respect, and being humane.

Filipino males, in particular, are raised in an environment that is largely unsuitable for being essentially humane. The priority has always been to become ‘stoic,’ ‘strong,’ and ‘unreadable.’ To be unreadable to others is considered an advantage – because emotions are viewed as a weakness. A Filipino male is expected to exhibit only a limited range of emotions – happiness and anger, in particular. Happiness for celebrating victories, and anger for controlling those around him. Anything beyond the binary is bizarre, as if you’re no longer fit to be called ‘a man.’ This is machismo (or toxic masculinity) of the worst kind. A person who is prevented from exhibiting a full range of emotions will have a tormented and twisted view of the world. It begins with rearing – how parents treat each other, and how parents treat their children. The patriarchal relations are formed immediately after recognition of the “I.”  

In adulthood, these stunted beings view the world as a conquest – a wilderness to be tamed with their bare hands. Any and all stimuli are considered a challenge to the divine masculinity, which gives Filipino males a false sense of entitlement and right to oppress and control others. It doesn’t matter if you’re male, female, trans or queer. The masculinity itself is inimical to the existence of life. It only wishes to dominate and eventually, extinguish life in the name of its own existence. Filipino masculinity exists to inscribe its hateful, meaningless existence on the skin and flesh of others. It takes without ever asking. Filipino masculinity is premature ejaculation and telling everyone he’s the biggest stud in the room. Filipino masculinity is a New Year’s party with a flight attendant, and no trace of humanity. Only death follows the Filipino man if he chooses to re-enact the codes of the patriarchal order. And the patriarchal order is headless – it is a ghost that flits from room to room, damning others with its deadly order. It causes life to bleed and ebb away. It is a bathtub filled with water, semen, and a dead body. And for that alone, it must be extinguished from our very culture.

As the beast thrashes and demands a sacrifice, a choice must be made. If a woman were intoxicated in front of you, you don’t do anything to the woman. You try to ask the woman if she can go home on her own. If she doesn’t respond, you make sure she doesn’t hit her head anywhere. You make her as comfortable as possible, so she can sleep it out. And then you step away. The moment you cross the boundary, and you impose your will and power over a helpless body, you allow the beast to find its meal. And you become a cold-blooded killer, because rape takes away so much more than life. It takes away the right to one’s body. It takes away free will, which is the very basis of sentience and independence as human beings.


Marius Carlos, Jr. is a storyteller, essayist, and journalist. He is the current editor-in-chief of Revolt Magazine. He is also the English editor of Rebo Press Book Publishing. He is an independent researcher focused on transnational capitalism, neocolonialism, empire, and pop culture. You can reach him via social media at Minds and MeWe.

Postmodern Musings

Postmodern Musings’ official cover.

From the Author

Postmodern Musings are simply that—a collection of random thoughts that took different literary forms of varying perceived realities. I write about things that capture my curiosity, so all the pieces here are about things I find interesting. I don’t believe in rules or formal structures in writing—but musings are, after all, disorganized trains of thought.


Jay-ar Paloma is an HR executive by day and a frustrated artist by night. He has extensive background in campus journalism as an editor-in-chief in elementary and high school as well as a contributor in his college days in UP Diliman. Currently an editor at Vox Populi PH, he likes to read and write fiction and opinion pieces relating to LGBTQ, social media, and culture. When not engrossed in a book, he is probably playing a tune on his guitar or keyboard.

Nostos

Nostos’ official cover.

From the Author

“This zine is a small collection of poems written from the perspective of desire, yearning, and nostalgia. These are fragments of stranded intimacies, a collection of words we never got to say, and how we design ourselves to be vulnerable and how we prepare for the inevitable.”


Gari Vinluan is an advertising professional. He graduated with a degree in Creative Writing and Sociology at the University of the Philippines Diliman. He is currently finishing stories for a chapbook to be released sometime this year, hopefully.