Friday, January 19, 2018


Under the Sun

Illustration by S.I.R. MacaisaTHE WARM breeze and sunlight’s caress
Signal the stretch of a day’s stay–
As streets teem with toddlers
In torn and tattered jeans
Tracing the upward trail of hills.

I find my spot at the base of a tree,
My back lying flat on its sturdy trunk.
Birds soar toward the bright horizon
While I dwell beneath the dimness’ embrace.

In the shelter of my shade, a sudden gust
Brushed the sweat off my cheeks. A shaft of light
Seeped through the canopy of leaves.

Pulling myself up, I inch my way out of my loyal safe,
As the warm breeze and sunlight’s caress
Signal the stretch of a day’s stay.

Agnes Ruth Diana S. Bordado

Literature’s varied connections tackled

LITERATURE and how it intersects with culture and other disciplines such as the sciences was the focus of “Inter/Sections: Crossroads and Crosscurrents in Literatures and Cultures,” a three-day national conference on literature organized by the UST Graduate School recently at the UST Thomas Aquinas Research Complex auditorium.

Quoting the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, UST Acting Rector, Fr. Rolando De la Rosa, O.P. said in his opening speech, “a turning wheel that causes no motion in other places is not part of a machine.”

He called on literary practitioners “to give literature its moral anchor,” to counteract the escapist and fantastic works that abound today.

Making those present aware of the power of the written word, the Rector urged writers to create an audience that “seeks meaning in the triviality of the present,” and to “convince everyone that there are absolutes.”

Four vignettes of compromise and contentment

THE SOCIO-cultural disarray of Filipinos living abroad and their attempts to recompose their tattered lives as a means of survival are the focus of Ménage Filipinescas: A Play in Three Acts (UST Publishing House, 2008).

In the hands of Paulino Lim, Jr., an acclaimed fictionist and writer, the migrant Filipino phenomenon is presented not so much as a breaking down of old ways as the emergence of new relationships.

Lost dreams

Illustration by S.I.R.  Macaisa

“SO, GRADUATION’S coming soon,” Matt said.

“Yeah, it is,” was Carlo’s only reply as they lay there on the rooftop of his house that night. He wasn’t used to seeing Matt so serious.

“What did you want to be when you grow up?” Matt asked.

“What kind of question is that?”

“I’m just curious.”

“About what?”

A heavy sigh escaped Matt’s mouth. “Dreams. I remember dreaming once. I wanted to become a doctor,” Matt said. “Well, that was until I discovered the ten and a half years of medical school that my parents could never afford. And I couldn’t stand the sight of blood.”

“Oh.” Carlo didn’t know how to respond.

“So what’s yours? What’s your dream?”

“I wanted to become an astronaut.”

Time’s clutch

Illustration by Matthew Niel J. HebronaTIME is a body that is nobody’s.

For instance, no matter how transitory

Escapes the slither of its hands

Peeling through the pith of moments,

Made malleable by its slender fingers.


Its eyes are sharp, it severs but never

Stalls for a second’s overhaul

With its familiar cold, all-knowing stare—

That gazes as moon gazes at men before day,

And gnaws as predator dismembers its prey.


Its skin is of the subtlest shades of light,

A spectrum from ivory tusks to the dark of the night

That pulls you nearer to be always in sight—

But the closer you come, the farther it gets,

And if closest, could cost the last of your breath,

Divine Dimalanta

IN LITERATURE, there are no double standards.

As part of its series paying tribute to women of letters, the Ateneo Library of Women’s Writings (Aliww) honored literary icon Ophelia Dimalanta in the 13th Paz Marquez-Benitez Memorial Lecture and Exhibit last Dec. 4 at the Science Education Complex of the Ateneo de Manila University. Kicked off in 1995, the event, named after literary matriarch Paz Marquez-Benitez, is an annual tribute to Filipino women-writers who have greatly influenced and shaped Philippine literature.

“Even if the poet’s language is in a way gendered, and even if the woman poet speaks most of the time of women, she speaks to all, regardless of gender,” Dimalanta said in her remarks thanking Ateneo for the tribute.

To the death of the sign


Although these words cannot lay claim to such philosophical excellence of the kind that can begin or end an intellectual era, all that one implores of a reader is a listening mind to another mind’s wonderment at the world we live in. But why worry? In the end, as good friends would often say of our ceaseless doubting: who can tell you what to believe?



Man thrives on representations. And it will be the death of him.

When something absent needs to be present, man creates something to stand for it. Or when a thing is too great or too minuscule to be there just as it is, a symbol must exist for it. But while these proxies have become the pillars of human life, it cannot be denied that they have placed us farther from the truth.

50 years of the mighty PEN

THOMASIAN TITANS of Philippine letters as well as other writers and academicians from around the nation stood side by side with art pieces as timeless as their pen and imagination in the halls of the National Museum last Dec. 8 and 9 during the golden anniversary of the Philippine Center of the International PEN (Poets and Playwrights, Essayists, Novelists), the foremost writers’ group in the country.

Founded in 1957 by National Artist and UST Varsitarian alumnus F. Sionil Jose, the Philippine Center is the local branch of the PEN, the prestigious international federation of writers, which is recognized by the Unesco. Reaffirming UST’s contributions to the establishment of the Philippine PEN, the 50th anniversary was supported by UST and the Varsitarian.

With the theme “Literature, Nation, and Globalization,” the two-day congress tackled currents and issues affecting Philippine letters in the era of globalization.

Journalism junior bags Rector’s Literary Award

JOURNALISM junior Khristine Joy Pulumbarit not only broke the two-year no-grand-prize drought in the Sanaysay category; she also won the Rector’s Literary Award of the 23rd Ustetika, held in splendid ceremonies amid the dancing fountain and bright Christmas lights of the UST Quadricentennial Park last Dec. 15.

Pulumbarit won the first prize in the essay-in-Filipino category with her entry, Sasampalin Kita ng Flip-flops e!, which scrutinizes how people’s attitudes are shaped by the nonsensical veneration of what’s “uso” or trendy. The category had no first prize for the last two years. For winning first prize, she was proclaimed Sanaysayista ng Taon.

On how to swim

By these waves is chaos-in-waiting.
So for that sylph, hold back no words in caressing.

Crests and troughs retreat from white foam to the shade of black glass.
And if the wind grants your wish for a pirouette, never let it pass.

At times, nothing stirs from illusory solidity.
Breathe the liquid in: a chance to know truth in clarity.

If cold bites, your corporeal cask can never be enough.
Resistance is a choice, but do you really want to seem tough?

And while full of folly and pain, that ceremonial setting out to sea,
The abyss is for those, who even by the shores, never tried to be.