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GABI NG LAGIM

Ni Pablo Tariman

Mahirap alisin

Ang tagaktak ng pawis

Sa maalinsangang hapit

Ng hangin

Sa biglaang buhos ng ulan.

Ubos na ang mga laway

Sa magdamag na pagmumura.

Nawala ka na naman sa iyong sarili

Bunga ng sigalot sa magdamag.

Hindi ko masyadong napansin

Ang pagsara ng Graphic magazine

At ABS CBN noon Setyembre 1972.

Tahimik kong tinanggap

Na wala na akong trabaho

Sa edad 23.

Upong diyes pa noon

Sa mga jeepney.

P35 isang buwan ang bed space.

Proofreader ako P240 isang buwan.

Ngunit napagkakasya

At may natitira pang

Naipapadala sa probinsiya.

Kung iisipin

Isa lang namang network ang nasarhan

Sa kakaibang ‘martial law’ ng 2020.

Pero bakit kumukulo

Ang iyong mga dugo

Tuwing nakikita mo imahen

Ng berdugo sa telebisyon?

Kakaiba ang martial law ng 1972

May namamatay

Pero hindi nabibilang ng DOH.

Hindi puno ang mga ospital

Ng mga agaw buhay at

Mabilis na yayao.

Kakaiba ang ‘martial law’ ng 2020

Ang dami ng nagugutom

Marami ang nakatira sa mga jeepney

Dahil napalayas na

At hindi na makabayad ng upa.

Bakit?

Nasa gitna pa

Ng walang katapusang konsultasyon

Ang mga butihing mga tauhan

Ng DOTC na walang kibo’t bibig

Kundi kung ano-anong hierarchy

Ng mga priorities.

Maraming salita sa English

Na hindi halata

Ang harapang pandarambong.

Kakatayin ka na lang

Pero ipapakita ang mukha

Kuno ng compassion

At pikit matang binigay mga rota

Sa mga modern jeepneys.

Bakit masaklap ang ‘martial law’

Ng 2020?

Ang daming gutom.

Ang daming nawalan ng trabaho.

Ang daming naglalakad

Dahil walang masakyan.

Kalunos-lunos ang mga hiyaw

Ng mga OFW

Sa evening news ng TV

At humihingi ng tulong.

Ngunit inuna

Ang pagpapasa ng Anti Terror Law

Sa gitna ng paghihirap

Ng mga tao.

Ubos na ang mga laway

Sa magdamag na pagmumura.

Puyos ng galit

Ang lumalabas sa mga bibig mo.

Hindi na maiibsan

Ang paghihirap

Sa pagbigkas

Ng mga tula ni Maya Angelou

At mga pahimakas ni Walt Whitman.

Malinaw na ang daan

Na tinatahak

Ng diktador ng Mindanaw.

Nagkukumahog na dumalaw

Sa mga namatay na mga sundalo

Para sabihin lang

Walang ibang pangulo

Ang nagbigay ng maraming benepisyo

Sa kanila

Kundi siya.

Sa totoo lang

Takot siya na iwanan

Pag kumampi ang mga kawal

Sa galit na sambayanan.

Inabutan na ako

Ng dalawang kakaibang martial law.

Isa lang ang may pakana noong 1972.

Sa 2020, kakutsaba ang kongreso

At mga galamay na matsing

Na todo intense acting

Sa hearing.

Pero laging nabubuking

Ang mga

Totoong pakay.

Ako’y handa na

Sa susunod na gabi ng lagim.

Handa na ang mga kuwento

Ng mga halang na kaluluwa

Sa gitna ng pandemya.

* * *

BALAT SIBUYAS

Ni Ben Domingo Jr.

Sobrang sensitibo.

Kaunting kanti, nagagalit.

Maliit na gasgas, nagpapalahaw.

Pero kung hindi naman pansinin,

nagtatampo kaagad.

Pikon.

Mahilig magbiro,

kahit wala sa lugar

at istilong-puson ang banat,

pero ayaw namang magantihan,

at kahit kaunting pasaring lamang,

manggagalaiti na nang sagad.

Duwag.

Ayaw maglakad nang mag-isa.

Gusto palaging kasama ang barkada.

Kuyog-kuyog kung ipagtanggol siya.

Pero sa totoo lang, nangangatog palagi

ang umuuga nang tuhod niya.

Hay naku,

balat-sibuyas,

bulok na sibuyas…

The death of my daughter Kerima

I went into denial, even as I reminded myself it would be better to accept what had happened

This article was originally published by The Diarist.PH. It is republished here with permission.

By Pablo Tariman

As I write this, it’s been 14 days since my daughter Kerima died. (Twenty-two days as of this posting.–Ed.)

It was not a peaceful death, as it turned out. An encounter between military and rebel groups at 6 a.m. on Friday, August 20, 2021, left three dead, one soldier and two reported insurgents.

I got a mysterious message saying one of the casualties in the encounter was a “young woman” with her companion. I refused to believe my daughter was that “young woman.”

The next day, Saturday, August 21, a friend from Bacolod told me the military had identified the female casualty as Ka Ella. I asked my friend to send me a picture that appeared in the military FB.

In my Messenger, I saw a picture of a woman left alone on a mountain trail. Her face was blurred. Her arm was almost severed after being riddled with bullets.

I know how my daughter looked like, then and now. After one more hard look at the picture, I realized the dead woman was my daughter Kerima, who turned 42 last May 29.

I had been ready for this years back. I knew it would come to this.

We had some arguments about this. But all this is water under the bridge, so to speak. In the end, I respected her choice.

It is easy to say you are prepared to see the worst happening to your daughter because of her involvement in the movement. But when you see her in the picture, cold and lifeless on a mountain trail, you know you need more courage to accept what has happened to her.

I was looking at her son, Emmanuel, that morning still asleep, when I accepted the news. My next predicament was how to break the news to him.

I knew I couldn’t do it.

The next day, her violent death was all over Facebook. The newspapers also carried news of the encounter. And always, she was identified as Ka Ella, also known by her real name, Kerima Lorena Tariman.

It is the first death in the family. She was the second of my three daughters.

The last time I saw her, she showed up in the city unannounced two years ago. She said it was better that we saw each other in a neutral place, definitely not in our house.

I knew she was preparing me for some big decisions she had made. We had very little conversation. She knew I had no other choice but to accept her decision.

After a few lingering moments, I kissed her on her forehead. Before she walked away, all I could say was, “Ingat, Kima.” Kima was how she was known in the family.

Still, she wanted to see more of her son, in my care since his grade school years. While I was doing my last concert at the Nelly Garden in Iloilo City, I met my grandson at an inn. He said someone would meet him and bring him to his mother.

The meeting was short, just an overnight stay. And he was back in Iloilo while I was preparing to travel with my performing artists after a farewell concert at Nelly Garden. By then, I had an idea why my daughter desperately needed to see her son before she totally disappeared.

And so her death was all over FB. I went into denial, even as I reminded myself it would be better to accept what had happened.

I asked a family friend to come to break the news to my grandson. I didn’t think I could handle it without turning the moment into a scene from a teleserye. And so the family friend arrived, condoled.

Then I asked him to take on the sad task of breaking the news to my grandson. He did it gently, from what I could figure out.

Minutes later, I saw my very composed grandson. No breaking down. No tears. I even saw him break into a wan smile

Emmanuel Tariman Acosta delivering the response after the four-hour tribute to his mother Kerima at Bantayog ng Mga Bayani on Aug. 28, 2021. (Photo from Altermidya)

Minutes later, I saw my very composed grandson. No breaking down. No tears. I even saw him break into a wan smile as if to tell me, “This is not a big deal. I can handle this.”

The sad news transmitted, I let out a sigh of relief. My grandson is made of sterner stuff, and he showed it.

Then he told me he knew something was wrong just by reading my face that early morning, while I was trying to confirm the news.

I told myself we could move on and do what had to be done.

We had to fly to Bacolod to claim the body. We had to subject ourselves to swab tests to be able to board the plane. We had to apply for Silay and Bacolod passes so we could move around.

That was my first swab test. What if I tested positive? Did this mean only my grandson could fly to Bacolod while I had to face isolation?

The swab test results didn’t come on time by email for us to be able to board the Monday 8 a.m. flight. No way could you board the plane without the results of your swab test, the lady at the check-in counter told us.

We had to rebook our tickets for an afternoon flight. The swab test results finally arrived after the plane had left. My grandson and I tested negative!

We were able to rebook an early afternoon direct flight direct to Silay-Bacolod airport. Meanwhile, I had to brace myself for what I would see when I claimed my daughter’s body.

I have never been inside a funeral morgue. I have never been inside a dingy room full of dead bodies. Before the plane landed, I had to let go of my quiet sobbing. After all, this was not my idea of my last reunion with my daughter.

First order of the day upon arrival was a briefing with our lawyer, who happens to be a city councilor.

I needed to present papers to be able to claim my daughter’s body: birth certificate, marriage certificate, my grandson’s valid ID and birth certificate, and my ID and birth certificate.

Next was the moment of truth.

The funeral parlor aide guided us to a room full of dead bodies all covered in white cloth. I looked at my grandson. I wondered how he would react upon seeing his dead mother for the first time.

When I saw my daughter’s lifeless body on that steel stretcher, I let out a long, painful howl of grief. I embraced her and kissed her forehead like the last time we saw each other.

He saw how helpless I was that moment, so I felt my grandson’s hands massaging my shoulder as I cried endlessly. My grandson’s inner strength is unbelievable.

No tears for him. No breakdown like I had.

When I calmed down, I realized I had to attend to more details to be able to claim my daughter’s body.

The plan was to claim the body, bring it to a Bacolod crematorium, and fly home the next day with the urn.

Our lawyer appealed to the Silay city chief of police if we could cremate the body first and attend to the paper requirements later. He nodded to say yes.

But when the body was about to be pulled out from the funeral parlor for cremation, the chief of police said no.

We had to produce all the papers: death certificate, permit to bring the body from the Silay funeral parlor to the Bacolod crematorium, and another permit to transport the remains from Bacolod to Manila.

We had to secure a barangay clearance from the barrio where the incident happened. I was appalled to learn that my daughter actually operated in the shadow of Mt. Silay, where the sugar cane workers lived.

Meanwhile, the cremation had to wait until we were able to meet all the requirements. Our lawyer brought me to the office of the Silay chief of police to secure another requirement, a spot report filed by the local police.

Said he: ‘I can see that she is a very intelligent woman. But no government is perfect. Even people are not perfect’

We noticed the chief cop kept on revising the incident report. He made small talk while we waited for the final version.

Said he: “I can see that she is a very intelligent woman. But no government is perfect. Even people are not perfect.”

We left the chief cop’s office convinced we had a rewritten version of what happened during the bloody encounter at Hacienda Raymunda.

I read a study by my daughter where she detailed studies of the plight of sugar plantation workers at Hacienda Raymunda. The report said workers got as low as P500 a month for backbreaking work.

Ironically, she died in an encounter also at Hacienda Raymunda in Silay City.

I don’t know what to make of my final hours with my daughter.

After we secured all the permits, her body was finally released for cremation.

Our coordinators noticed we were being shadowed by police operatives, taking photos and videos of us everywhere we went.

Meanwhile, I scheduled a video call with my daughters based in Frankfurt and Pasig before the cremation. I saw my daughters weeping as they said goodbye to their rebel sister.

I couldn’t help sobbing as her body was shoved into the big burner. “We can give you the urn in two hours,” said the crematorium staff.

I had to make peace with myself as we flew back to Manila.

There was a tribute for her at the Bantayog ng Mga Bayani where friends, classmates, and supporters from all over the country paid their last respects Saturday, August 28.

They were so many who remembered her, the tribute lasted four hours.

For the first time, I saw a composite picture of my daughter as classmate, poet, warrior, and Red fighter. I didn’t realize she was feared as much as she was respected.

My wife and I recited  poems in her honor. The tribute of her Frankfurt-based sister Karenina drew applause. She recalled how she spent one night in an Isabela jail in 2001 just to be with her sister Kerima, at least for one night of her sister’s month-long detention.

I thought the most poignant recollection during the tribute came from her son, Emmanuel, who closed the tribute.

My grandson recalled: “Bata pa lang ako, tinuruan nya na ako ng iba’t ibang bagay na hindi ko matututunan kung saan man at pinakita niya sa akin yung mundo at naiintindihan ko yung mga desisyon na ginawa nya at ng aking ama. Proud ako sa nanay ko, sa kanyang tapang, sa kanyang talino, hanggang sa huling hininga ay nasa isip niya ang masa at sambayanan. Hindi nagtatapos sa kanyang pagpanaw ang laban at marami pang magpapatuloy: tayong mga naririto. Mabuhay ka, Nanay, at maraming salamat sa lahat!” (Even when I was young, she taught me many things that I would not have learned elsewhere, and showed me the world, and I understand the decisions she and my father made. I am proud of my mother, of her courage, her intelligence, until her last breath the masses and the country were on her mind. The fight does not end with her death, and many will continue it: we who are here. Godspeed, Nanay, and thank you for everything!)

At home, I made a special place for her in the living room.

I cannot imagine her leaving us for good. And so I wrote this poem.

Stay a little longer my child
Keep your father company
As he welcomes another sunrise
Without you.

Stay a little longer my daughter
Keep your son company
He who is proud of you
In your prolonged absence.

Stay a little longer my child
Let’s reminisce days
As we welcomed sunrise
In the black sand of San Roque
And frolicking at the park
In the shadow of Mayon.

Stay a little longer my child
Keep your father warm
Watch over your only son
For a few days more.

Memories come and go
And far too few
I still see us welcoming sunrise
With the perfect cone
Towering over us.

Suddenly you are gone
The little child
Who once romped by the beach
Is suddenly limp and cold
Finished off by bullets
From ruthless strangers.

Stay a little longer my child
Let me just remember
The last hug
The kiss I planted on your forehead
In this room full of dead bodies.

I can’t help it
Letting out a howl of grief
Akin to a whining dog.

Your son remained strong
And unperturbed
As he massaged my shoulders
As I let out
A shrill whimper
Echoing through
The mortuary.

Now
I have to make the most
Out of this last plane ride
With your son and I
Huddled together
As we keep watch
Over your urn
From Silay to Manila.

You are home now
Stay a little longer my child
As we prepare
Your new home
Away from home.

I can see peace
And deliverance
In that small crypt
Just a walk away
From where we live.

Welcome home my child
There is peace and quiet
Waiting for you
In that small door
Leading to the great beyond.

On Aug. 29, 2021, Cecile Licad, the author’s longtime friend, performing Chopin’s ‘Revolutionary Etude’ in the open-air concert in Tivoli, New York, with Kerima Tariman in mind. A music fan wrote the pianist that it was the ‘fiercest’ ‘Revolutionary Etude’ he has heard in his life. (Photo from the file of Cecile Licad)

LAHAT NG INA’Y AKTIBISTA

(Para kay Nanay Mameng)

Ni Katrina Yamzon

ang lahat ng ina’y aktibista.

walang papantay sa tapang niyang angkin.

nang siyam na buwan ika’y kanyang dalhin.

wala nang hihigit sa hapding kanyang tiniis,

marinig lamang una mong munting pagtangis.

inihele ka ng palabang himig

ng kanyang mga oyayi at kundiman,

habang ika’y nahihimbing

sa pag-ugoy niya ng iyong duyan.

gumabay siya sa bawat mong paghakbang,

lumalaban sa balakid sa iyong daraanan,

tumutuligsa sa iyong bawat mga kahinaan,

umuunawa sa bawat mong pakikipaglaban.

kakayanin niya ang lahat.

gagawin niya ang lahat.

kahit pa ang

pumatag ng bundok,

tumangan ng armas,

bumago ng sistema,

magpalaya ng lipunan

para sa anak na pinag-aalayan

ng buhay nito’t kamatayan.

ang lahat ng ina’y aktibista,

na umiibig

kaya’t nakikibaka.

Aswang. Lianga

By Tyrone Velez

I. 2015

The forest emerald faded

and red the valley turned

as embers devoured the commune

The dawn cracked with bullets

on the heads of two datus

and a blade slashed Emok’s neck

Wails echoed across Andap

walls shake

this village school

Forest leaves snapped off

and embrace the blood-soaked soil

Blood red the sun

the busaw* howls

the tribe departs

a season of blood

II. 2021

A year of pandemia

but other things can kill

the Manobo girl dreams

of dances and harvests in their fields

but as abaca leaves were gathered

she and her family were collected

by bullets laced

with words of the busaw

smash their inner bodies

rape their lands for the coffers

the nightmare sets in again

as their blood cries for Magbabaya**

*in Lumad folklore is a being that eats or attacks people

**deity

Wag pahiran ang luha sa pisngi

Wag niyo nang itanong ang bakit,

ba’t buhay nila”y isa-isang kinikitil.

hangarin niyo, pa’no siya nabuhay,

silbi’t kabuluhan na sadyang inalay.

Wag niyo ng sabihin na nasasayang,

dunong na ginugol sa sambayanan,

Sa halip, siyasatin landas na tinungo,

bakit ang paglaban ay nagpapatuloy.

Wag niyo na sanang siya’y tangisan,

pagluha ay isa lang panghihinayang.

Kung pumpon lang ng galit at sigaw,

di dadamputin nalaglag na balaraw.

Wag niyo na siyang ihatid sa libingan,

kung pagluluksa’y siya rin tatalikuran.

Luha’t hibik ay hahayaan lang matuyo,

kapag tumila na’t humupa ang siphayo.

Wag niyo na siyang alayan ng awitin,

o tula at anumang pulang talumpati,

kung tulad niya’y di mangagsisidami,

at makapaghiganti nagpipiglas na uri!

Kaya kasama, wag na, wag na lang!

Wag na lang pag silakbo’y lulugo-lugo,

At galit ay maiiwan sa matang mugto,

Kung ang pananalig ay ‘yong isusuko!

Ibarra Banaag

Mayo 11, 2021

Tulang alay para kay Ka Joseph Canlas

Pag-agaw ng Hininga

Covidtula ni Joel Costa Malabanan

Ika-10 ng Mayo, 2021 sa ospital

Bawat agaw ng hininga ay pasusumamo sa langit;

Ika’y mortal, at ang lahat maglalahong isang saglit;

Dumikit na dumi sa saluwal sa mabilisang pagluwal

Pagbabalik sa kabataang walang alam, walang muwang!

Bawat ubo’y may kapalit na hampas sa iyong dibdib

Papanawan ng ulirat kapag hindi ka kumapit;

Yaong nag-iingat naman akalain mo na dapuan?

Hindi biro ang ganitong pagsubok ng kapalaran.

Buti na lang, may cheering squad ako sa labas ng ospital

Asawa’t anak, kapwa guro, kaibigang nagmamahal;

Panalangin, paalala, mensahe ninyo’y nabasa ko

Higit na makabuluhan kaysa isang 0rbiruwaryo!

Ang tunay na kaibigan, malayo man o malapit

Higit na maaasahan sa panahong nagigipit!

Ang Community Pantries at ang Alamat ng Sampalok

Ni Joi Barrios

Ang alamat ng sampalok

ay kuwentong tungkol sa pagdaramot.

May matandang babaeng ayaw

magbigay ng balat ng kahoy na panggamot

sa nangangailangang kapitbahay,

kung kaya, siya raw ay isinumpa.

At nang bumagyo, ang ilog ay umapaw

at tinangay ng baha ang puno,

na kung saan-saan tumubo.

Ang kuwento ng sampalok ay alamat

ng puno na naging panlahat.

Sa nayon, at kahit minsan sa kalunsuran

Hangga’t maaari ay hindi tayo bumibili

ng maliliit ang dahon na ipalulutang sa sinigang.

Hinihingi natin ito sa kapitbahay

tulad ng kayraming sagana ng iba:

aratiles, sineguelas, at makopa, na bihira sa pamilihan

dahil nakasanayan na ang pagbibigay

at ang pagtanggap ng biyaya.

Ganito rin ang tulungan sa ating mga pamayanan.

“Magbigay ayon sa makakayanan,

Kumuha batay sa pangangailangan.”

Ang sampalok na maasim

nabibigyan din ng alat at tamis.

Ang nagmamasama sa mabuting gawa,

Tiyak na may budhing anong itim, anong lupit.

Ika-20 ng Abril 2021

*Oblatio vitae

(Para kay Nelinda ‘Sr. Mary Francis’ Añover)

Ni Raymund B. Villanueva

Taym pers, hintay naman sana

Sa dami ng maari nang mauna

Bakit ito pang si Nelinda

Ang inaya Mong maaga?

Taym pers, nalimot Mo yata

Ang dasal ng mga aba

Ng katutubo’t magsasaka

Si Francis ay makapiling pa?

              Ang madre ng kapwa bukid at kumbento

              Ang tawa’y tila batingaw ng kampanaryo

              Ang relihiyosang matapang sa harap ng sundalo

              Nagro-rosaryong nakataas ang kamao.

Taym pers, padalos-dalos Ka

Langit nama’y makakapag-hintay pa

Sa rami na nilang Iyong kasama

Pinauwi Mo ang isa pang santa.

                                -2:26 n.h.

                                 11 Abril 2021

                                Lungsod Quezon

* Latin ng ‘Alay na Buhay’

Sa ngalan ng iyong duguang baro

(Alay kay Dandy Miguel)

Ni Raymund B. Villanueva

Domingo de Palaspas nang ika’y patayin

Ng mga kalul’wang ‘di marunong mangilin

Akala ba nila’y kayang paslangin

Ang paninindigan mong maningning?

Tulad nila ang mga sundalo

Ng demonyong imperyong Romano

Ikaw nama’y tulad ni Kristo

Obrero, sugo’t rebolusyonaryo.

Kung ang kay Hesus ay katubusan

Oremus din ang iyong panawagan

“Sahod, trabaho at karapatan

Ipaglalaban, hanggang kamatayan!”

Tigmak ng dugo ang iyong baro

Binutas ng walong punglo

Bantay sila’t maniningil tayo

Maka-uri ang ating apokalipto.

-9:19 n.u.
29 Marso 2021
Lungsod Quezon