FIFTH-YEAR Civil Engineering major Paulo Miguel Gabuat was bestowed this year’s Rector’s Literary Award (RLA) during the the 31st Gawad Ustetika, the country’s longest-running campus-based literary derby, last March 5 at the Buenaventura G. Paredes, O.P. building.
Gabuat got the Rector’s Award for his short story, “The Lampiko,” which earlier had won first prize in the Fiction category.
The Rector’s Literary Award is chosen among first-prize winners of the various Ustetika categories and is awarded to the work that best reflects “the University’s Catholic vision of grace and redemption.”
BETWEEN the limbo
of sleep and wakefulness,
comes the time to yield
Those twin points
realign in my mind—
and my restlessness.
amidst whispered sentiments
that remain unanswered,
riling up nocturnal feelings,
as I retrace it all:
and narrowing breadth
between our bodies.
Still, my heart is elated
for even the most crooked
of conjoined arcs must meet
where the wandering orbit
comes to rest.
C.A.P. Sta. Cruz
THE FAMILIAR scraping of wooden outriggers against damp sand along with discordant voices awoke Tatad, who squinted as a ray of morning sun seeped in through the gaps of his bahay-kubo. The speed by which those pump boats were being dragged filled him with unease.
He grabbed his towel, hurried himself outside and followed the drag marks of fishing nets across the beach. He came across his friend, Dua, who hung his net by the rim of his boat. An infectious feeling of dismay and dread spread from Dua to Tatad as ten gasping tunas flailed in the metal barrel beside the boat.
“That’s all there is today?” asked Tatad, as he leaned down to inspect the measely catch.
“Same as every other day,” Dua replied.
SHALL I really believe
that a shepherd rules the sky?
Or that stars collect each night
into celestial sheep?
As they wind to and fro,
my own life unfolds
in his star flock.
The newborn lamb,
cradled among fellow stars
caught in a milky haze,
coddles a boastful young ram,
refusing to be sheltered?
raising its hooves
and showing off its horns.
Another limps one leg,
while the last mourns
a broken horn
as stars lose their luster
along its waning coat.
And at last the dawn
leaves nothing to be done
but ponder a fate
sketched in starlight:
THERE was nothing alluring
about crackling rays
that could shift his own apathy
toward the old filled with wishful,
inebriated with regret,
cramming their desires
on the day of terminus.
He hated the room for its tiring stench
of recycled vows and cheap theatrics.
He finished his drink but lit again a cigarette,
still in the vice grip of flame
refusing to be extinguished,
yet in transit of extinction,
for old habits don’t die
easily as years do.
Josef Brian M. Ramil
CELEBRATED journalist, poet, and screenplay writer Jose “Pete” Lacaba expressed pessimism about the future of Philippine democracy, saying that next year’s elections would not exactly improve the prospects of Philippine democracy. Lacaba urged the people to look back carefully at the lessons of the country’s traumatic past in order to ameliorate the present.
“[Ang bayan natin] ay nasadlak sa dusa at naging pugad ng luha at dalita,” he echoed.
OUR EMERALD tower of prickly pines,
crystal spheres dangling
from its sturdy wooden arm
our neighbors fuddled with drink
with jumbled lyrics
pouring drinks in your name, saying,
“O, kay Kuya Leo naman.”
You used to wipe the dust off the figurine angels
revealing faded smiles
paint chipping off from handheld harps and trumpets
left, right, left, right went the washcloth
and the golden star for the finish
that you wouldn’t let anyone touch nor clean
(Remember when I used metal polish
and you didn’t speak to me for a week?)
HE CAUGHT himself tiptoeing the line
between reality and fiction,
lost in daydreams of sumptuous dishes
and new clothes.
The December breeze blew
and tugged at both the roof and his thoughts as
he was greeted by the cold—
nothing spelled seasons better than
gifts cradled in boxes,
draped with patches of red and green,
aroma of cured meats wafting through the air,
a sea of lights flooding the town by nightfall.
He snapped out of wishful thinking
and embraced raw truth, reality bared
as it truly were—
Mother’s bland spaghetti,
and Father’s hand-me-downs,
everyone cramped in a little hut
far-flung from the heart of the celebration —
images he was willing to forgo
even for a little while
for the love of Yuletide magic.
AN HOUR before the last opening act of El Castillo, half of the trapeze team was still missing, the fire breather was busy reading his horoscope in a newspaper, and one of the jugglers was taking a nap on worn-out leather sofa at the far left corner of the stage.
Edmund Reducido wanted to check on the missing trapeze team, tell the fire breather the merits of practice and shake the juggler until he wakes, but he knew better. At exactly nine o’clock the show will start, and the audience—around fifty to sixty people and nothing more—will give an indifferent applause and go home.
THE POETRY of National Artist for Literature Cirilo Bautista was celebrated during a testimonial dinner held in his honor at the Grand Ballroom of the Buenaventura Garcia Paredes, O.P Building last Sept. 30.
Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, director of the Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies (CCWLS), said in her opening remarks that the works of artists such as Bautista were valuable contributions to Filipino heritage.
“The [National Artist Award], and the benefits that accompany it, clearly do not measure up to the value of the contributions [of the awardee] to the national heritage,” Hidalgo said. “But as things are today, it is the highest honor the country can give to its artists that it claims as its own,” she added.