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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.

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“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

Combat fake news through literature, urges critic, veteran journo

Quoting Palanca Award-winning writer Jose Dalisay Jr., renowned critic Rolando Tolentino upheld that “the best antidote to fake news is true fiction.”

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Photo by Elizabeth Nicole Regudo/TomasinoWeb.

A veteran journalist and a renowned literary critic urged Thomasians yesterday to write more literature about current social issues to fight the rise of disinformation in the country.

Rolando Tolentino, director of the University of the Philippines (UP) Institute of Creative Writing, said during this year’s Paz Latorena Memorial Lectures that writing short stories and poetry could help combat lies peddled by those in power.

Quoting Palanca Award-winning writer Jose Dalisay Jr., Tolentino upheld that “the best antidote to fake news is true fiction.”

“Paano mo maco-combat kung in-abdicate mo ‘yung role ng panitikan? Magsulat ng panitikan tungkol sa panahon na ‘to,” Tolentino affirmed.

With the advent of social media, Tolentino also lamented the distortion of “orality” of storytelling and the perception of reality but he maintained that literature “is a creative response to reality.”

He continued by stating that the role of literature in Philippine society is crucial as it serves as the country’s record of important historical events and social movements.

“Napakahalagang area [ng panitikan] sa kasaysayan natin, ito na ang chronicle natin,” he said.

He added: “Kaya natin napatunayan na may Martial Law, may Marcos dictatorship, may Spanish colonialism ay dahil sa mga matitigas [at] astig nating manunulat na nag-intervene sa panahon na ‘to.”

The former UP College of Mass Communication dean also stressed how “slow” writers are nowadays in publishing literary works that tackle issues current social issues.

“Wala na tayong poems na lumalabas, wala tayong short stories na lumalabag. […] May pagka-slow na ‘yung writers natin kasi ang pumapasok talaga are all these posts, mga commentaries [n]ila sa Facebook,” he said.

Meanwhile, veteran journalist and columnist Salvacion Espina-Varona called on writers to use literature to resist alienating pro-administration supporters.

“Alam natin kung bakit nanalo si Rodrigo Duterte [at hindi lamang ito dahil sa fake news but] because he does not exist in a vacuum: He is the sum total of rage passed from generation after generation,” Espina-Varona told the audience.

She also urged that a “real” way to battle lies is to become “truth-tellers,” telling them that safeguarding truth is not solely the role of journalists.

“Hindi pwedeng isang sektor lamang lipunan ang magiging guardians ng katotohanan sa mundo, hindi pwedeng journalists lang,” she said.

This month, Facebook began implementing strict measures against the proliferation of fake news, such as identifying links from legitimate news sites and blocking links from several websites identified to peddle false information.

The social media giant, meanwhile, on Thursday announced its partnership with online news agencies Rappler and Vera Files for a third-party fact-checking program in the country, which aims to prevent the spreading of fake news content on the social media platform.

Presidential Communications Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy and Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque have protested the partnership, accusing Rappler and Vera Files of “partisanship.”

On Oct. 4 last year, the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media opened its first hearing on fake news, the first of its kind in the country. The committee concluded its second hearing last Jan. 30.

Bannered with the theme “Saysay ng Panitikan sa Panahon ng Fake News at Tokhang,” the yearly lecture is held in honor of Paz Latorena, an esteemed Filipina fictionist and former chair of the University’s Department of Literature.

The event concurs with the celebration of the National Literature Month. —with reports from P. Jamilla

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Literary

5 children’s books you should definitely read again

As we celebrate International Children’s Book Day, we take a look back on five children’s books whose lessons and tales remain true no matter when or how many times you read them.

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From novels to picture books, children’s literature from all genres were our gateways to other worlds and imaginary friends when we were young—and for some, these stories were their first taste of literature.

While people tend to dismiss books written for children when they grow old in favor of more serious literatures, it is undeniable that children’s literature shaped millions of childhoods all around the world and their timeless stories continue to influence the lives of people from all ages.

As we celebrate International Children’s Book Day, we take a look back on five children’s books whose lessons and tales remain true no matter when or how many times you read them.

 

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Published in 1865, Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is widely considered to be a hallmark of children’s literature and one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre, which has proven to be popular to both children and adults. The book’s narrative, peculiar characters and imagery have inspired various films, games and plays throughout the years, as well as various literary discourses and, ahem, mad theories about what the novel really is about, which serves as proof of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland‘s lasting legacy.

 

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Speaking of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Neil Gaiman’s dark fantasy novel Coraline is often compared to the Lewis Carroll classic due to the two novels’ similar premises of a young female protagonist entering another world, but for a children’s novel, Coraline serves unexpected scares—especially in the idea of having better version of one’s family except that they have buttons for eyes. The book’s ideas may be too much for children, but reading it again after a few years reveals the beauty of the novel’s narrative and the timelessness of its horror.

 

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Tales of children being lost in other worlds is a common theme in children’s literature, but The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe takes this trope to a higher notch with four English siblings crossing over to another world to fulfill their destiny of ending the icy rule of an evil witch. The novel—which C.S. Lewis wrote as the first book of the Chronicles of Narnia series—also incorporates allusions to Christian tradition such as Christ’s crucifixion. While these details may not be obvious to very young readers, a re-read of the novel and the entire series shows the complexity of Christian allusions and pagan influences in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which serves to show that children’s literature can have complex narratives rivaling “adult” novels and break the stigma surrounding children’s literature and the fantasy genre.

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The Hobbit, or There and Back Again by J.R.R. Tolkien

While the high fantasy of The Lord of the Rings proved to be the more influential work in the long run, its predecessor The Hobbit, which was written primarily for children, laid the foundations of the Middle-earth mythos which has come to define the fantasy genre. Nonetheless, the adventures of Bilbo Baggins remain a classic and a landmark of children’s literature—and the prelude to a greater epic.

 

Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Le Petit Prince or the The Little Prince, as it is more known in translations, is just a simple and little book, yet poignant. While the story is generally a children’s book, its tale of the loss of childhood wonder and innocence has resonated and moved adults readers throughout the years, and perhaps, the book’s timeless message, despite its short length, is a testament that the essential is indeed invisible to the eye.

 

What are your favorite children’s books? Share them with us in the comments or by tagging TomasinoWeb on Twitter!

 

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Literary

Lullaby

I still sing this hymn
Not to drive my friends
Gone. I want you here.

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Art by Aijen Sy/TomasinoWeb.

Tonight, I sing this
Hymn for two, four, six
Ears. My breath to reach
Yawns of the dismissed.

Alone in the dark
Room flooded with an
Eerie presence that

Lurk close by. I feel
Isolated. Don’t
Stand too close. Don’t stare
Too long. Tenebrous,
Eidola. Figures
Nudging my sight. But
I still sing this hymn
Not to drive my friends
Gone. I want you here.

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