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Literary

Nakapiring

Babangon ba ang bayan ko, mula sa lapag at puwang na hapag at tutugon sa mga tanong na minsang kinubli, sa takot at pasubali.

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Babangon ba ang bayan ko,
Mula sa lapag at puwang na hapag
At tutugon sa mga tanong
Na minsang kinubli, sa takot at pasubali

Babangon ba ang bayan ko,
Makikinig ba’t manunuri
Maghahangad ng ikabubuti
Sa karamihan at ‘di pansarili

Babangon ba ang bayan ko,
Mula sa lupang lunod
Sa utak na nababakod
At kasinungaliang naaanod

Babangon ba ang bayan ko,
Mula sa mga pangakong napako
Bayan kong naging hapo
Ngayon ang nais ay pagbabago

Kung ang pahayag ay walang mintis
At ang isip ay ‘di lilihis
O ang kusang pawiin
Ang bahid mula sa piring
Babangon kaya ang bayan ko?

Photo By Amirah Banda

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Literary

Superheroes Don’t Fly

Somewhere along the way, we keep forgetting that superheroes don’t always wear capes and have flashy superpowers; some of them are staying overtime at work, some of them are making dinner. Nonetheless, they save the world in their own ways.

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father's day
Artwork by Tricia Soto Jardin

We grow up in this world believing that superheroes exist—but the more consciousness we gain, the more we realize they don’t. Something that used to be so colorful and interesting slowly becomes dull and mundane. The superheroes we looked up to before fades into nothing and we’re left alone to think that we’ve been lied to.

Somewhere along the way, we keep forgetting that superheroes don’t always wear capes and have flashy superpowers; some of them are staying overtime at work, some of them are making dinner. Nonetheless, they save the world in their own ways.

All along, the superheroes we were looking up to the sky, waiting to pass by, have always been by our side—working for hours and hours on end, only to come home exhausted just to put food on the table and provide for the family. Our fathers have always been the superheroes we needed. They’re always right there to be our pillar and support when things seem like they’re falling apart; the guide that never led us away from safety and truth.

They never left our side. Even though they vary in shape and form, they all have one goal: to love us the way they know how—in soft caresses and a pat on the back, in hushed moments and in moments filled with laughter, it doesn’t matter how frequent—it all counts. They all do.

So when the day comes, let’s give them the recognition they deserve. The day that celebrates the love they’ve given and the sacrifices they’ve made. We shouldn’t let it all go to waste. Let’s show them how much we’ve flourished, how much we grew, and how we grew well because nothing is more rewarding for a father than to see their child that used to dream has now become that person they’ve dreamed to be. We’ll let them know they’re our superhero, not for just saving the day, but for saving us, in more ways than one.

The world is harsh and cruel, more than we could ever know. It will continuously say that superheroes don’t exist numerous times, and there will be times we will believe it. Not because we have little faith, but because we’re humans and we tend to make mistakes, and that’s okay. Someone out there, whatever we call that person, will keep proving us wrong and tell us repeatedly if they have to, that superheroes are real. We’ll keep thanking them, over and over, for all that they’ve done, for all that they’re doing, and hope that someday, we could also be superheroes in our own way, just like them.

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Literary

RAIN

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rain

At the clap of thunder
I hear the voice of God,
Roaring with dismay
Calling onto humanity
His hand preparing to smite down
the urban hearth.

Until he froze
With hesitation.
He Looks at His calloused hands,
His battered nails,
And coarse skin,
The mark of a carpenter.
“My will be undone”
He weeps with dismay
At the folly of freedom.

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Literary

No Woman Is a Temple

They will never be possessions. And after every struggle, it is their voices that you will always remember.

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picture of a woman with the symbol on it
Artwork by Jessica Lopez

[trigger warning]

The first woman here is of infinite loneliness.

Thin-lipped and round-eyed, the girl has her arm sprawled across the desk, with her palm up and her fingers curled. Beside her is another girl whose full lips are smiling shyly, her arm also on the desk. The light is luminous on one side of their heads, yet it is the light on the smiling girl that they think is more beautiful—because the thin-lipped one is neither fair-skinned nor skinny. She tries to smile back, but she already has her arm under the table.

The second one is of perpetual silence.

Smoke billows out of the jeepney as the stop light turns red and a girl in a denim skirt and halter top comes out into broad daylight. She is attractive, everyone around her thinks, and so does the smirking man by the sidewalk. He calls her names, and she turns, baffled at first, then realizing all at once that he meant her, she flushed, abashed. For a moment she does not notice the stoplight turning green. At that instant, she simply wants to disappear, perhaps along with the black clouds of exhaust spewing out of the honking buses and vans.

The third one is of quiet rage.

Hands shove her legs apart. Always, always, they tell you it’s okay, you’re safe with me, with that almost-motherly voice they possess—soft, gentle, and kind. She thinks of her mother, imagining herself as a baby, cradled adjacent to her chest, her small head settling in the space by her mother’s neck. This is not like that. This is not a safe space. Hands that roam places that are not theirs to touch are not hands of love. This is home, the hands say, it’s okay. It isn’t.

Finally, the last one is nameless.

They call her a woman. They call her names. But oftentimes, they call her in a language only they understand — when she has to speak in a mild tone, when she has to drag the hem of her skirt down just one more time, when she has to put the dress back in the rack. Or when she and her girlfriend make vows in the grocery aisle. Whenever she has to say no, again and again, only to nod eventually because she has to be kind. She has to be poised. She has to be silent. She has to be a woman.

But loneliness is fleeting. Silence does not last. The rage is never quiet. And the nameless — at the end, they were never meant to be named. Because they will never be possessions. And after every struggle, it is their voices that you will always remember.

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