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Hapag

Matagal ko ring hinintay ang araw na ito. Matagal-tagal rin akong naghintay.

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Paikot-ikot ang mga mata ko sa silid-aralan. Unti-unting naglaho ang boses ng guro sa aking mga tainga. Hindi ako mapakali sa bawat pagpatak ng oras. Ilang segundo na lang at makakaalis na ako. Kaunti na lamang at—

Okay class, you are dismissed.

Hindi na ata ako nakapagpaalam kay ma’am, pero hindi ko na rin ito inalintana. Kumaripas na ang aking mga paa paalis ng kuwarto sa unang hudyat pa lamang na uwian na.

“Kailangan kong mauna,” bulong ko sa sarili ko, habang kumukuliling ang orasan at dahan-dahang nilulunod ng mga boses at ingay ang koridor. Paglabas ng gate, tinakbo ko ang kalsada hanggang sa nadatnan ko ang isang tindahan—mga dalawang kanto sa kanan mula sa eskwelahan. Naaalala ko pa nung dinadala ako ni nanay dito para bumili ng sorbetes, yung tindahan na may malaking poster ng Coke sa labas na kumupas na dahil sa init at panahon. Buti na lamang, wala pang tao at nauna ako kahit paano.

***

Hakot dito, hakot doon—kung anu-ano na ata ang nabili ko. Pilit kong tinipid ang pera sa pitaka ko, binibilang bawat barya mapagkasya lamang ang aking naipon mula sa pabaon sa akin ngayong linggo. Kailangan ko rin ng pamasahe pauwi. Nang mamarkahan ko na ang huling gamit sa aking listahan, agad ko nang binayaran ang mga naamili ko at itinago ang sukli sa aking bulsa. Baka mawala pa. Hinakot ko na rin ang mga supot at binitbit ito para iuwi. Palabas pa lamang ako sa tindahan, nakaramdam ako ng pangangatal sa aking bulsa. Nag-text na pala ang kapatid ko.

“Kuya, asan ka na?”

“Pauwi na ako. Magprepare ka na,” tugon ko.

May dumaang tricycle sa harap ng tindahan at pinara ko ito agad. Tinuro ko ang daan patungo sa bahay na madali namang nasundan ni manong drayber. Hindi ko alam kung bakit ako nakaramdam ng matindig na pananabik at pagkapawi noong nakarating na ako sa bahay. Matagal ko ring hinintay ang araw na ito. Matagal-tagal rin akong naghintay.

***

Naabutan ko ang kapatid ko na naghahanda sa sala ng mga gagamitin namin para mamaya. Kinakabahan ako. Tumatagaktak pa yata ang pawis mula sa noo ko. Nakakapagod ding mamili at magmadaling umuwi.

“Handa ka na ba?” tanong ko sa kanya.

Tumango lamang siya at ngumiti habang nilabas ko ang napamili ko sa tindahan, na siya naming dinala ko sa kusina: lumpia wrapper, bihon, giniling, kaunting gulay—magdadala naman daw si Nanay ng fried chicken mula sa KFC. Nagsimula na akong magluto. Paminsan-minsan rin akong tumigil para mamahinga, nararamdaman ko pa rin sa kamay ko ang naghahalong kaba at pagkasabik at nanginginig ang mga binti ko. Ngunit hindi ako mapakali at dali-dali ko ring binabalikan ang niluluto ko. Isang oras ang lumipas, at matapos ng isa pa ay natapos din.

“O, anak, tapos na ba ‘yan?”

Hindi ko na pala namalayan na dumating si Nanay.

“Opo, ‘Nay! May dala kayong fried chicken?

“Aba, siyempre naman!”

Nakakatakam. Ngayon ko rin lang naamoy yung chicken pati yung mga niluto ko. Pansit, lumpia—sana kuha ko yung luto ni Tatay. Sana. Dinala ko na ang mga ulam at mga plato sa mesa nang napansin ko na may cake na nakahanda. Nakalimutan kong pakiusapan si Nanay na bumili, buti na lang naalala niya. Apat na plato, apat na pares ng kubyertos, apat na upuan, tatlong tao, at isang laptop.

            Panaupo na kami ni Nanay habang binuksan niya ang laptop sa aming harapan. Tumatawag si Tatay, at binilang ko ang bawat segundo na lumipas bago lumabas ang kanyang mukha sa screen.

One, two, three! Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you!

Narinig kaya ni Tatay na sintunado ako sa pagkanta? Narinig niya ata—tawang-tawa siya habang kumakanta kaming tatlo. Isa-isa niya kaming kinamusta: si Nanay sa trabaho, kami ng kapatid ko sa pag-aaral. Kinuwento niya rin ang mga nakakatuwang nangyari sa kaniyang trabaho, tulad noong nakaraan dawn a araw, kinailangan pa nila habulin ‘yung nakatakas na alimango sa kusina ng restawran. Halos maiyak kami sa kakatawa at napalo ko pa ang aking hita kabang pinapahid ko ang aking matang nabasa ng luha. Saka ko lang noon napansin na hindi pa pala ako nakapagpalit ng pambahay. Kinapa ko agad ang bulsa ko at nilabas ang isang medal.

“’Tay, may quiz bee nga pala kami sa school ngayon! Third place ako!”

“I’m so proud of you, anak! Okay lang ‘yan kahit third place. Proud pa rin ako!” At sigurado ako, may nakita akong maliit na luhang pumatak mula sa mata niya—kita ko, kahat medyo malabo ang mukha niya sa screen.

“‘Tay, kami nga po nagluto nito,” sabik kong sinabi habang tinuturo ang mga ulam sa mesa.

“Aba! Mukhang kabisado niyo na yang lumpia at pansit, ah. Sana pwede kong tikman!”

Kahit malabo ang imahe niya sa screen, alam ko, ramdam ko na tila ba nandito pa rin siya sa bahay. Wala akong nakikitang mga balikbayan box o kaya naman ang mga imported na gamit mula sa Amerika: ang nakikita ko lamang ay ang siya, anim na taon na ang nakaraan at mga taon bago pa ang taong iyon. Parang nung kailan lamang, hindi pa kami marunong humawak ng sandok, o kaya nama’y magprito ng kahit ano. Anim na taon na ang nakaraan noong huli siyang umuwi ng Pilipinas, at tanda ko pa ang araw na iyon: pansit at lumpia ang una niyang tinuro sa’kin. Dahil hanggang ngayon, hindi ko pa rin magaya-gaya ang luto ni tatay.

“Oo nga po, ‘tay,” sagot ko, “sana matikman mo.”

 

Dibuho ni Roland Joshua Distor

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Literary

December Blues

“Papa will be home soon,” she whispered to him, “he always goes home.”

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Animation by Renzo Hipolito/TomasinoWeb

It was past eight in the evening, and the people of the village had never been more thrilled with the upcoming season as it was coming sooner than they expected.

Indeed, Christmas was only a few days away, the evening wind breezing through the trees, hinting its arrival.

While having dinner with his mother, the child stared at his spoon. His right hand turned it around, and his attention was caught not by the Christmas tree from the spoon’s reflection, but by how the tree has gained numerous things that were wrapped in papers of distinct colors, designs, and symbols.

After telling his mother he wasn’t that hungry anymore, she took the plates and washed the dishes first, then before bringing him to his bedroom. As he laid on his bed, the child’s thoughts still focused on what he saw under the tree.

There was a knock on his door, and his mother came in, with a glass of milk on her hand.

“I can’t sleep, mama,” the child said, scratching his eyes.

“Time to sleep,” she told him, “or you won’t get to open those gifts under the Christmas tree.”

The child, having understood what his mother said, or perhaps, a little bit of what she was trying to tell him, nodded and asked her where his father was.

“Papa will be home soon,” she whispered to him, “he always goes home.”

His mother knew his difficulty of drifting off to a deep sleep. He saw her smirking as she looked down at him. She handed him the glass, and while he drank, she told him again to have a good night’s sleep.

Then she turned out the lights and left him alone.

Something suddenly came up in his mind: He set the emptied glass aside and stepped down from his bed. Little did his mother know that she left the windows open, but it wasn’t the idea that came to the child’s mind. Instead, he approached the door, managed to reach for the knob — and he turned it.

The child reached for the doorknob once more ashe silently pulled the door. A faint sound of the door closing — the deadbolt locking it from the inside — echoed faintly along the short hall that would lead downstairs to the living room, then to the kitchen.

As a typical child, he didn’t tiptoe like what an adolescent would do; he carelessly walked towards the stairs, and step by step, not even sure if his mother even heard the door closing.

Surprisingly, he didn’t fall over as his attempt on walking down the stairs became a triumph for him.

Aha! he thought to himself. Mama didn’t notice me.

He was even proud of having left his bedroom without the knowledge of his mother, who would scold him whenever he, as other parents would call it, was “disobedient.”

In the living room, where the Christmas tree stood, he–with a grin on his face–walked closer towards it, his feet trembling in the cold, but it actually helped.

At first, he stared at the things covered in wrappings.

They look lovely! the child thought.

He bent down to reach for one and held it in his hand. It didn’t seem heavy for his soft palms and fingers. He settled himself on the floor and tried to tear off the wrappings, which was another triumph for him. Having accomplished what he set out to do for the night, the child giggled and held the newly-bought teddy bear. I love you, mama.

Little did the child see the letter attached on the wrappings; in a thin ballpen mark, it read: “Miss na kita anak. Love, Papa.”

***

He was waiting for a ride along the boulevard plagued with traffic; he was already standing under the waiting shed across his school for nearly half an hour.

The traffic was getting worse and he still had a lot to accomplish. Being impatient while waiting for a ride, he pulled out his earphones.

People ran towards buses that seemed to accommodate more passengers, and people complaining about the usual Manila traffic. He glanced at his watch: It was already eight in the evening. That would take him two hours or more to make it to their house, where his mother would be more or less waiting for him.

While he stood under the shed for another fifteen minutes, he watched the cars veering along the road. Then, he felt raindrops falling on his hair and the lens of his glasses. He slowly took a step backwards and found a bench where he settled himself.

Seated alone in the bench, he stared at the Christmas lights at his school from across the road. He saw students walking in and out of the premises — some with their umbrellas, the others braving the sudden downpour of rain. He opened his backpack, rummaging through his things for his umbrella.

Unfortunately — and unsurprisingly, he thought to himself — he left it at home. He remained seated at the bench under the shed and wondered what time would he arrive home.

Despite having his earphones on, he heard someone hurrying down the footbridge, and he saw a boy standing inches away from where he was seated.

The boy seemed vexed with how his uniform turned out: He obviously dared to walk under the rain. The boy rolled his sleeves up to his elbow, cursed at himself for being reckless.

And he, the unfortunate kid seated on the bench, thought, Poor guy. He must have had a bad day. The boy pulled out his phone and when nobody seemed to answer his call, he threw his phone along the road, where a car just passed by — and his phone crashed to the windshield.

He was surprised with what the boy did. Indeed, the boy was the kind of person he shouldn’t mess with on a Monday night; so, he ignored what he just saw and continued listening to his playlist.

When he looked up to see if a cab or even a jeepney pulled over to accommodate him, the boy walked towards the shed. The boy settled himself next to him, and they both remained silent for a minute, not glancing at each other, his hands on his phone, and the boy’s hands in his pockets.

“You know how it feels to be disowned?” the boy asked him.

He shook his head. “I have no idea,” he said.

“It freaking sucks,” the boy said angrily, “imagine having a father who hits you with anything he sees and forces you to leave the house today, and a mother who doesn’t even go home anymore? Yeah, I’m not that lucky.”

Then he asked the boy, “What made him disown you?”

The boy just stared at him, his eyes burning with sarcasm.

When he knew what the boy was implying, he remained silent and said he was sorry with how the boy was going through. Somehow, he wanted to comfort the boy for he knew how it felt to be isolated. However, he never knew the feeling of being disowned. He glanced at the boy, who, to his surprise, began to sob. He lifted his hands to cover his eyes as he cried, his nails on the verge of scratching his face.

He didn’t know what to do at first, but when the boy leaned on his shoulder, he handed him the left half of his earphones. The boy put it in his ear to listen to the playlist. He realized that the music he was listening to had calmed the boy. He didn’t bother if his shoulder had gone wet because of the boy’s soaked uniform.

He looked up at the shed’s roof where drops of rain poured down the muddy pavement. Having forgotten what time it was — and this time, he didn’t want to know how long he stayed under the shed with the boy.

It felt new for him to be with a boy, but it didn’t surprise him at all. When a jeepney pulled over by the shed, the boy suddenly rose from the bench. The boy told him that he had to go, and the next thing he saw was the jeepney leaving the shed, with the boy looking at him with a slight smile on his face.

As he arrived at their village, where every house was lit with Christmas lights and different kinds of lanterns, he walked all the way to his home and knocked on the door, and he waited for his mother to open it for him.

Mama greeted him with a kiss on his cheek and asked how his day at school went and how were his friends doing. All he said was, “The fireworks were nice, Mama.” He shut the door behind him while his mother walked upstairs hurriedly.

He wondered why she was in such a hurry. He shrugged at that thought, dropped his backpack on the floor, and slouched himself exhaustingly on the couch. While he waited for his mother, he thought of the boy from the shed and wondered how his Christmas would go.

Perhaps, school was more of a home for him than his actual home, he thought.

“Anak, look who’s home just in time for Christmas!” his mother said excitedly, as she bolted down the stairs.

For a moment, he had no idea what his mother was talking about. Then he heard the door of his bedroom open. He looked up and watched while the person slowly walked his way out of his room.

He didn’t recognize the person at all. He was a stranger to him, like the people, whom he never talked to, in their village. He looked new to his eyes. He glanced at his mother and made a gesture that would give her the expected question: Who was he?

His mother gave him a response, a smile that he had never witnessed with his own eyes. It was the kind of smile from his mother that he never saw because it gave him a feeling of something new — something that felt lovelier than home.

It was Papa.

by Ian Jozel Jerez

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Literary

Mga Tomasinong manunulat, pinakilala ang mga bagong kalakaran sa panitikan

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Magakakasamang inilunsand nina (mula sa kaliwa) Chuckberry Pascual, Agay Llanera, John Jack Wigley at Ricky Lee ang kanilang mga aklat sa ikalawang araw ng Philippine Readers and Writers Festival sa Raffles Makati, Sabado, ika-26 ng Agosto. Kuha ni Von Ozar/TomasinoWeb.

Dalawang Tomasinong manunulat ang nagpakilala ng mga bagong istilo ng pagsusulat kasabay ng paglunsad ng kanilang mga aklat sa Philippine Readers and Writers Festival sa Raffles Makati noong ika-26 ng Agosto.

Para sa manunulat ng dula at maikling kwento na si Chuckberry Pascual, napili niyang paglaruan ang iba’t-ibang kategorya ng genre fiction literature, partikular na ang “cozy mystery” sa kanyang ikalawang koleksyon ng mga maikling kwento na Ang Nawawala.

Nilalagdaan ni Pascual ang isang kopya ng kanyang aklat na “Ang Nawawala.” Kuha ni Von Ozar/TomasinoWeb.

 

“Ang genre fiction ay mayroong pa ring rules — part nito na mareresolve siya sa dulo upang maipakita na buo ang mundo. Pero, hindi ko pa rin siya lahat sinusunod. Hindi lahat ng nawawala ay nawawala talaga at hindi lahat ng nawawala ay natatagpuan, [so may mga ganun akong ] pagsubvert ko sa genre” wika nya.

Dagdag ni Pascual, madalas itinatampok sa “cozy mystery” ang mga kwentong magkaka-ugnay sa isang maliit na pamayanan, at dahil sa mga nasabing elemento nito, madali niyang maibabahagi ang kaniyang sarili sa akda tulad ng lugar na kaniyang kinalakhan.

“Attempt ito na mas makipag-usap kaysa ako lang yung kinakausap ko”, aniya.

Batid ni Pascual na hindi biro ang kanyang napiling genre sapagkat ang mga kategoryang nakapailalim dito ay may iba-ibang patakaran at paraan ng pagsulat, kung kaya pinapahalagan niya ang opinyon ng kanyang mambabasa upang mas mapaganda ang mga isinusulat na akda.

Tinalakay ni Wigley ang komedya at pagpapatawa sa panitikan. Kuha ni Von Ozar/TomasinoWeb.

 

Pagsulat ng pagpapatawa

Samantala, pinakilala naman ni John Jack Wigley ang paggamit ng pagpapatawa sa Pilipinong panitikan sa paglunsad ng kaniyang librong Lait (Pa More) Chronicles.

Idiniin niya na may kaakibat na hamon ang pagsusulat ng mga kwentong nakakatawa.

“Mahirap magsulat, period. Ang mag-isip pa na magsulat ng nakakatawa ay isa nang death-defying act.”

Ani nya, hindi kailangang palaging “tulo-laway” ang akda, sapat nang mayroong halong ibang emosyon ang nakalakip dito.

Dagdag pa niya, dapat gawing katawa-tawa ng isang manunulat ang kaniyang sarili at isipin na hindi ito nakakababa ng pagkatao dahil mas paniniwalaan ng mga mambabasa na nagsasabi ang manunulat ng katotohanan.

“[…]madaming posibilidad sa humour writing. Pwede mong isulat ang truth sa bersyong nais mong isulat. Tandaan: Ang humor ay culture dependent, so dapat maging sensitibo sa mambabasa ang manunulat sa ganitong klaseng sulatin.” paalala ni Wigley

Hindi lamang ginagawa ang pagpapatawa upang magbigay saya ngunit, isa rin itong paraan ng paghahatid ng mensahe tulad ng ibang uri ng panitikan.

“Bago maging magaling na manunulat ng humour, maging isang magaling na manunulat muna. At bago isang magaling na manunulat, maging magaling na mambabasa muna,” ani Wigley. — D. Arcegono

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Literary

Taya

Bata, bata, anong oras na ba?

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Dibuho ni Renzo Hipolito

Bata, bata
Anong oras na ba?
‘Di mo ba narinig
Ang mga balita?
‘Wag ka nang pasaway
Ang bilin ni nanay:
Umuwi nang maaga
At ‘wag nang maghintay
Na ika’y maabutan
Ng paglubog ng araw
Kung ayaw mong ikaw
Ang siyang matuklaw
Ng matulis na pangil
Ng gabing mapanglaw
Sapagkat sa lansangan
Ay walang taguan
At ‘di na biro ang laro
Ng habul-habulan
Kaya bata, dali,
Ang takbo’y bilisan,
‘Pag ikaw ang naabutan
At ng bala’y matamaan,
Bata, bata,
Ikaw na ang taya.

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