Sunday, March 26, 2017


New Thomasian talents showcased in 31st Gawad

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.”

Compass Points

BETWEEN the limbo

of sleep and wakefulness,

comes the time to yield

and surrender.

Those twin points

realign in my mind—

your firmness

and my restlessness.

They circle,

amidst whispered sentiments

that remain unanswered,

riling up nocturnal feelings,

as I retrace it all:

the widening

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

How to cook a starfish

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.

Star flock

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,

wistful thinking,

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

The writer in the political arena

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

singing carols

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—

cheap bulbs,

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.

We Tumble, We Somersault

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.

UST pays tribute to Cirilo Bautista

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.