save us, liza soberano by Andrea Panaligan
Kaharap ang Huling Araw ng Bakasyon ni Paolo Tiausas
Here at the End of All Things by Regine Cabato
December 21, 2012 by Ticia Almazan
Isa Iyong Pambihirang Pagkakataon ni Rommel Bonus
Bea Osmeña rediscovers the agency of both body and heart
in her debut book of poetry “Artificial Limbs” by Jam Pascual
Bababa na ang mga tala ni Jerome Flor
The moment I encountered the word ‘guillotine’ by Alfonso Manalastas
Noong Nalaman Nila Na Hindi Na
Kailangan Matakot sa Kamatayan ni Carissa Natalia Baconguis
It All Ends Here by Earl Carlo Guevarra
Earl Carlo Guevarra
Carissa Natalia Baconguis
Marx Reinhart Fidel
Megel Joshua Ramiterre
COVER by Myla Rodrigo
Art by MARX REINHART FIDEL
We’re not endorsing
pessimism, but urgency.
Contemporary apocalypse discourse is characterized,
I think, by a recognition that the ideologies we’ve come to trust
have failed us. Capitalism and neoliberalism have helped create
a society in which only a handful of people hold a majority of
the world’s total wealth, and are able to cling to this wealth by
exploiting vulnerable bodies and natural resources. Our ongoing
climate crisis spells the end of human civilization in the next few
decades. Fascist leaders sponsor genocide. This ain’t no 2012
Mayan calendar shit. These are real lives, beset by real lethal
Our last issue of The Youth Is On Fire operated on the key word
“Rage,” and writers and artists like you responded in kind with
pointedly anti-Duterte, anti-corruption works. So we put ‘em
together and put ‘em out in the form of what I think was one
of our strongest issues — an incandescent, hazardous-to-evil art
bomb. This was 2017, and certain issues were still very fresh, and
we were energetic and busting high kicks and flailing pom-poms
for the future.
And then we got tired. By we, I mean, we at the office. Bursts
of outrage are always going to come in waves, consuming and
receding. And when death is abundant and life is precarious you
get into the habit of tending gardens. And there were so many
gardens to tend that weren’t The Youth Is On Fire. Some of
those gardens weren’t work-related. In the face of doom, we built
protective fences around the sources of our joy, sought friendship
and community, mustered megawatts of strength every morning
just to get out of bed.
Not a lot of people understand how exhausting this side of cultural
work can be. The argument could be made that half of lifestyle
journalism is made of ads, and media partners, and sponsorships,
and the half-hearted endorsement of products and personalities
that pacify more than invigorate. The other half of that work is
keeping an eye on current events, popular culture. And well, the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says total ecological
ruin is possible within our lifetime. And our current lineup
of senators is full of killers and crooks. So what happens when
today’s issues tell you that wholesale social collapse can totally
happen before you can apply for a senior citizenship card, and
that the current systems, mechanisms, and policies in place won’t
do much unless we actually get around to guillotine-ing the rich,
Robespierre style? You get tired. You get cynical. When living a
moral life looks impossible, you work a little less hard.
Again, we’re not endorsing pessimism, but urgency. I’d like to
think that at the end of the day, in our heart of hearts, we know
that fighting for a better world is some thing we need to do, maybe
even want to do. But there is value, I think, in assessing how the
idea of the apocalypse affects our inner worlds. When we think
about the end of the world, how does that influence the way we
feel sorrow, anger, or even joy?
This issue of The Youth Is On Fire was born not just from the
little respite we got from our extended hiatus, but also from our
contemporary existence, laced with the looming possibility of the
end of all things. It’s a good one. So don’t cry, dear reader. We’re
still alive, despite everything.
TALA NG PATNUGOT
Anim na taong gulang ako
nang una akong makaligtas
May gabing bigla akong ginising ng mga magulang ko
sa rurok ng madaling-araw at madaling binuhat pababa ng hagdan
kasama ng aking kapatid. Niyakap nila kami nang mahigpit
habang magkakasama kaming nakaupo sa sopá. Nakikiramdam.
Nakamatyag. Yumayanig noon sa dilim ang buong paligid. At
tandang-tanda ko ang katiyakan kong nagugunaw na ang mundo
nang dahil sa Y2K Bug, na anumang iglap magbibitak-bitak ang
kisame ng bahay namin at mababaon kaming lahat sa semento.
Huling taon ko naman sa kolehiyo nang makaligtas akong muli sa
Gunaw. Bukambibig noon na ayon umano sa Kalendaryo ng mga
Sinaunang Maya, magtatapos ang daigdig sa ika-21 ng Disyembre,
taong 2012, kasabay ng pinakamahabang gabi. Ngunit gumising
kinabukasan ang Sangkatauhan. Walang ligaw na buntalang
sumalpok sa Daigdig. Walang malatalang bumulusok at umuka sa
lupa. Natuto akong tumula at nagtapos kina-Marsuhan habang
namumulaklak ang mga ikaklit sa UP Diliman.
Pinabulaanan at pinagtawanan ng mga dalub-agham noong 2012
ang mga bulung-bulungan hinggil sa napipintong Katapusan;
ngunit ngayon, mga dalub-agham na mismo ang mga propeta
ng Wakas. Anila, ayon sa Agham, magwawakas ang kilala nating
kabihasnan pagsapit ng dekadang 2050 kung hindi magbabago
ang Sangkatauhan. Babagsik nang babagsik ang mga bagyo. May
mga bansang lalamunin ng alon. Huhungkagin ng nakamamatay
na init ang mga lupain. Pagdidigmaan ang ilang patak ng tubig.
Malinaw ang mga salamisim ng ating tadhana: ang palubha nang
palubhang init sa tag-araw, ang pagkupas ng kulay ng Great
Barrier Reef, ang maninipis na kalansay ng nangalusaw na glasyar
sa Artiko, ang Amazonas na inaabo ng apoy.
“To be honest, we’ve survived the end of the world so many
times,” ani Guevarra sa sanaysay niyang It All Ends Here, “that
we’ve come to think of the end-times as nothing but a source of
laughs and memes.” Totoo nga naman. Sino nga ba talaga ang
sumeryoso sa babala ng mga Maya noong 2012? Sino nga ba
ang pumikit noong ika-21 ng Disyembre ng naturang taon nang
hindi inaasahang magbibiro kinabukasan tungkol sa pinanaigang
Katapusan? Sa anyo man ng mga biro at meme, naiukit na nang
malalim sa kamalayang kultural natin ang usapin ng Gunaw. Kaya
hindi na natin kailangang ipagtaka kung ano ang tinutukoy ni
Almazan sa maikling katha niyang December 21, 2012. Minsan
na nating napanaigan ang katapusan ng mundo. May disaster film
nang pinamagatang 2012. May kanta pa nga.
Ngunit wala nang natatawa ngayon, kailan araw-araw nang
maiisip ang ating kapuksaan na tayo rin mismo ang nagtakda at
nagtadhana. Saan pa nga ba babaling ngayong katiyakan nang
nakaukit sa sinag ng araw ang Gunaw? Araw-araw tayong naiipit
sa kalso ng trapiko, pinanonood umilanlang patungong langit ang
makamandag na singaw ng mga sasakyan – ang init at ang usok
– at ang nagkalat na plastik sa mga bangketa, at walang magawa
kundi mamintana at bilangin ang bawat mabigat na sandali bago
muling makauwi, bago muling magdusa sa byahe, bago sa wakas
magunaw ang mundo sa wakas.
Napakaangkop, sa gayon, na Ang Katapusan ng Mundo ang paksa
ng labas na ito ng The Youth Is On Fire. Sapagkat kaninong tinig
nga ba ang dapat pakinggan, kaninong pananaw ang dapat sipatin,
kundi ang tinig at pananaw ng mga taong daranas at papasan sa
pagdatal ng Gunaw?
Ganito ang larawan ng ating hinaharap ayon sa mga artikulo sa
internet: lulubog sa dagat ang Maynila at magiging disyerto sa init
ang nakalalaking bahagi ng Pilipinas. Ngunit ano ba ang mukha
ng katapusan sa isip ng kabataan? Kailangan ba nating iligtas tayo
ni Liza Soberano? Magmimistula lang bang bakasyong pantagaraw
ang katapusan? O madadala ba natin ang ating teknolohiya
sa mga kagila-gilalas na antas bago tayo biguing mailigtas
nito? Pagsasaluhan man natin ang dusang kalakip ng Gunaw,
napakahalagang alamin ang mukha ng Wakas para sa bawat isa sa
atin, dahil daranasin natin nang kani-kaniya ang sari-sarili nating
Narito, sa gayon, ang ilan sa pinakamahuhusay at
pinakamalilikhaing guhit ng Katapusan ng Mundo na ipinasa sa
at kinalap ng mga patnugot ng siping ito ng The Youth Is On Fire.
Lasapin na natin ngayon ang lasa ng haka at haraya. Lumusong
sa baka. Dahil darating ang araw, magkakatotoo ang mga hinuha
at matitikman natin ang tagaktak ng pawis sa mapamaslang
na init at ang tilamsik ng nakalalasong dagat sa dalisdis ng
dating mga bundok habang pinagmamasdan ang mga guho at
abo ng kabihasnan nating tayo rin ang nagwasak sa tanglaw ng
Art by MARX REINHART FIDEL
Photo by ENNUH TIU
BY ANDREA PANALIGAN
1. two things. the first one: alone/together is a horror movie.
2. and sure, i mean it in the failed true-love-will-neverstop-haunting-you
way (at least i think so — my idea of
love is an amalgam of things i’ve read and people i’ve
watched; my definition of it is always a borrowed one,
an improvisation. but the way people talk about having
loved and having lost, i assume it’s horror-movie-scary),
but mostly i mean it in the way our protagonist sits at her
office desk, unmoving, unblinking, unmotivated, and we
— also unmoving, also unblinking — stay with her, and
nothing happens. ugh. i shudder just thinking about it.
3. the movie, from the get-go, is filled with jump scares:
regrets, losing a job, losing a love, losing a passion, losing a
self, (losing my point…)
4. however, the greatest scare, the one that made me cower
in my seat, the one that made me want to scream like you
would in a horror movie but this isn’t a horror movie and
it’s not socially acceptable to scream at this so i just cried,
i cried in the way that’s closest to a scream, is when our
protagonist, only twenty-seven, was sitting at a fancy table,
tears pooling in her eyes. “i am a child,” she argues, “but
why do i feel so old?”
5. in the words of your typical filipino gen z twitter user (aka
6. two things. the second one: i am eighteen.
7. ah, i imagine you say. that makes sense. it makes sense that
my writing sounds so unnecessarily angsty, so melodramatic,
so emblematic of instagram oh-you’re-in-my-veins poetry.
because i am eighteen.
8. i wish it didn’t make sense. sometimes i wish i didn’t
discover writing until i was in my 20s, when i would be less
unbearable (i hope). i wish i didn’t have to go through this
embarrassing phase in my writing, where i sound like every
other tumblr user in the world. i wish i skipped right to the
sharply written thinkpieces, well-researched op-ed articles.
who ever benefited from adolescent poetry other than our
9. today one of my mom’s co-workers asked me how old i
was. i said i was eighteen. “ah, ang bata pa.”
10. and that shocked me, blindsided me almost, because i
never really saw myself as young — only inadequate, or
11. anyone can do anything on the internet, and that includes
careers. isn’t the highest-earning youtuber a seven-year-old?
and while i’m thankful for the existence of a platform that
quite literally makes anything possible, i can’t help but feel
anxious about the existence of a platform that quite literally
makes anything possible.
12. or: in the world of self-made creatives, i find myself
asking, why can’t i make it?
13. i want to be many things. my love is the kind that’s
frequent, and i’m generous with it. there are so many
things i want to do, and that’s good, that’s good, right?
especially because i have access to a platform that quite
literally makes anything possible.
14. i keep seeing all these people that are doing the things
they want to do, and there are many of them — many
people doing many things. and i keep pressuring myself
to be like them, to be many people, to be many things,
and i am enveloped by this constant frustration when
i am anything less than what i fantasize myself to be.
15. the fear of being less than what i dreamed myself to be
makes me idle.
16. my fear of being idle makes me feel like i am less than
what i dreamed myself to be, etc. etc.
17. i keep seeing all these people that are doing the (many)
things they want to do, and i keep forgetting they’re
older, they actually have journalism degrees, they
actually went to art school, etc. etc. i keep forgetting
that i’m eighteen, and eighteen is so young. so, so young.
18. sometimes i feel like i grew up on a pedestal, that people
always expected me to be mature — i am a woman
(girl)/oldest child/former top of the class/former
journalism prodigy, after all (all these “former” titles
make me wonder when exactly i lost them… what was
the tipping point that made me suddenly stop being
these things? probably when i became a teenager and
started spending all my time writing oh-you’re-in-myveins
poetry, but i digress)
19. sometimes i feel like i grew up on a pedestal, that people
always expected me to be mature, to be the adult, that
now that i’m actually becoming the adult, i feel like i’m
running out of time.
20. i’m running out of time, e.g. i only decided on my
major on the day i was filling up my college application
form, and in turn only applied to that one college; i
abandoned a blog i’ve had since i was twelve because
i was unhappy with the lack of opportunities it was
giving me, and started looking for a job where i could
prove i could make it as a creative, even with my shaky,
oh-you’re-in-my-veins writing, because the ~starving
artist aesthetic~ is only cute when you’re young —
when you’re older it’s not really an aesthetic so much as
it’s a failure, at least according to everybody else. and i
didn’t want to be a failure in the eyes of everybody else.
21. and i get so angry at myself for not knowing my major,
for not having opportunities. i get so angry at myself for being
aimless, as if being eighteen is not the literal synonym of being
22. and i get so scared sharing this, this specific anxiety, especially with
actual adults, especially in the form of writing, because it makes
me feel childish. it makes me feel foolish, naive. you don’t know
the half of it, i imagine you all saying. and that’s right, i don’t — i
am a child, after all.
23. so why do i feel so old?
24. where has all the time gone? i think to myself. i turn nineteen in
a little over a month. then i realize: no time has passed at all. i
turn nineteen in a little over a month, and then a year later and i
will turn twenty, then another year and i will be twenty-one, then
twenty-two, then twenty-three, then many, many more, or maybe
not, who knows.
25. i keep forgetting that i exist on my own terms, and i exist at my
26. i exist how i want to exist, in as many or as little forms as i want.
i’ll keep writing you’re-in-my-veins poetry until i’m forty if i want
to. and god, now that i’ve said it, i’m kinda, sorta hoping i would.
27. i wrote this essay in bullets originally for three reasons: (a) it makes
it look edgier, and as an Adolescent Pulsating With Angst, what
more could i want; (b) it masks the fact that i don’t actually know
how to write a proper narrative essay; and (c) i wanted to subvert
The Form or stick it to The Man, or something.
28. but now i’m realizing this is me allowing myself to be young, to be
childish, to be foolish, to be naive. thirteen-year-old me would’ve
written this in bullets, in all lower-case, and eighteen-year-old me
shares her sentiment, or at least wants to pay homage to her. let
me be angsty, let me write you’re-in-my-veins poetry unironically,
let me be childish foolish naive, because i have every right to be.
29. each rejected job application feels apocalyptic, every ten less views
on my instagram insights feels like meteors falling down the earth,
every unanswered pitch feels like tremors shaking me to my core,
every failure feels like a countdown.
30. and you know what, let the world end. let it break itself into
pieces, and let it take me with it. let me run out of time, let me
be aimless, let me misunderstand the book of revelation in the
distinctly teenaged way i misunderstand everything. may my last
breath be a sigh of relief; i’ll see you on the other side, or maybe
not, who knows.
BY PAOLO TIAUSAS
ART BY MARX REINHART FIDEL
Kasing-init ng pisngi ko ang bakal na pisngi ng CPU
samantalang patuloy pa rin ang hinaing ng garalgal na boses:
will you tell all your friends you’ve got your gun to my head?
Nanlalagkit na itong sofa bed. Walang patid ang pagpapawis.
Hinipo ko ang gilid ng monitor na tila pinakikiramdaman
ang makinang lagnat, saka nagdesisyong hablutin ang saksak.
Mahabang laslas sa panahon, hiling kong magpakita ka na.
Gumuhit ka ng mga larawan sa mga astronomikong aklat
at ipakilala mo sa akin ang mga dapat ko nang makilala.
Bukas, magigising ako nang nakahanda na muli sa bag
ang mga bagong biling kuwaderno at lumang kuwento,
at sa sandaling uupo ako sa mesang nakalaan sa akin
alam kong magpupundi na naman ang mga bumbilyang
naging kaibigan ko sa mga gabing pagkasingaw ng init
nagiging hanging galing sa isa na namang dimensyong
hindi ako kabilang. Tayo. Will you tell all your friends?
Na muntik ko nang ibalibag ang PC noong tumirik ito,
na naramdaman kong mababali ko ang keyboard kung
isasalpak ito sa tuhod gamit ang buong puwersa ko?
Mahabang laslas sa panahon, alam ko, na alam mo,
na alam ko ang pinakita mo sa akin noong araw na iyon.
Saliw lamang ng teka at sandali at sige ang bakasyon.
Ang bawat planeta, bilog na may tahimik na hiwa sa gitna.
Tutugtog ang kanta. Patuloy lang tayo sa paghilata.
Here at the End
of All Things
BY REGINE CABATO
You would not believe how many people abandon
their pets. The pet store was clearing shelves, so I took a bone
and a dog and drove. The news delivers until it can’t —
a few hours before it happens, the last station broadcasts
its last goodbye: Thank you, and good night.
The end will be live tweeted, anyway.
At my office carpark, I call my parents
to tell them I love them. I hit the road
with an eighties playlist. But there’s a traffic jam
here, at the end of the world, so I get out and walk the dog
to nowhere. I thought that I would at least be busy
with paperwork, or sex. Instead, I am looking for my friends
in the last diners, the last gas stations, the last
Korean supermarkets. They are always in the last
place you look. I think of my bullies,
including the senile landlady who refused
to close the pipe when we blew off a tap by accident.
I think of my exes, even the one I never call my ex.
I think of the neighborhoods I have lived in, their flower pots
and stray kittens. I turn them over in my head,
empty their alleyways to walk my ghosts in them.
How must they be doing, I wonder, here at the end of all things?
I thought when it would arrive I would be angry; instead, I am
tired. But we have our afterlives for tiredness. Today
is for walking as far as you can. The orchestra played “Autumn”
right into the ocean as the Titanic sank. In the morning
we will all be frozen. I find my friends in our favorite picnic spot,
blanket spread, spreading strawberry jam on bread, overlooking
the end. I pull up a chair. The dog chases a butterfly.
Here at the end of all things, I am looking over the edge:
Everything is still. The world flickers, like a mirage —
or like a television channel, right before the static.
December 21, 2012
BY TICIA ALMAZAN
He thinks it’s all bullshit.
He thought it when he first saw the post on
Twitter, then Facebook, then Instagram. Sure, he got a
little scared when he started seeing it on The Guardian,
BBC, and National Geographic, but he still thought it
was bullshit. This is why during his lunch break, he didn’t
think twice about going on his usual 10-minute walk to the
nearest McDonald’s to eat.
The sky looks gloomier today, but Jay dismisses it as usual
December weather. The streets of BGC are noticeably
far less crowded, free of tired employees accompanied by
their clouds of manmade smoke. His face contorts with
frustration at the possibility of people choosing to stay
inside. It’s despicable, he thinks. He can’t wrap his head
around the idea of adults being scared away by an internet
hoax that’s most definitely not true.
He arrives at McDonald’s and orders spaghetti with fries
and a glass of coke. His order doesn’t take long to process,
so within five minutes he finds himself already reading
at his usual table by the window. His book of choice this
week is The Road by Cormac McCarthy, which he’s nearing
the end of. He’s figured out from countless lunches that
reading for around ten minutes is just the perfect time to let
the food cool down, leaving him with about forty minutes
to eat, read, and walk back to the office.
As he’s eating his pasta, he suddenly thinks he hears
something ringing. He pulls his phone out of his pocket
and checks, but no one’s calling him. He surveys the nearempty
restaurant, but none of the four other occupied
tables seem to be the source of the sound. Since the other
people in the fast-food chain don’t seem fazed by any sort
of ringing, Jay decides it’s probably just an effect of him
being in the office all day, answering calls.
He downs the rest of his coke and checks his watch:
1:37PM. He has around eight minutes to spend reading his
book. His eyes follow the words at the top of the page. He
reads them again.
He can’t seem to dismiss the ringing he’s still hearing.
It’s faint, but at this point he’s sure it’s there. The ringing
starts sounding familiar, and it unnerves him enough that
he decides to stop reading and start walking back to the
building earlier than he normally would.
When he steps out of McDonald’s, he notices that the
ringing sounds louder than from inside. Jay realizes that it
sounds like it’s coming from the kind of bells schools use
to indicate the end of a period. He looks around to see if
other people notice, but there’s no one else there save for
a man on the end of the street, who’s practically jogging to
the nearby convenience store.
Jay notices that the ringing sounds grow slower and slower
the closer he gets to his building. It sounds just like a church
bell now. The ringing gets clearer.
He walks faster.
His legs shake from the realization that the ringing is
coming from the ground.
He remembers the headlines.
Art by MEGEL JOSHUA RAMITERRE
BY ROMMEL BONUS
—bumaba siya sa tinutulugang komportableng kuwarto
At tinahak ang pinakailahas na kalsada ng lungsod;
Umaasang makikita niya ang dapat na makita:
Kung totoong mundo itong napipintong magunaw.
Unang pagkakataon ding hindi siya kiniskis ng ngitngit
Ngayong naiipit sa nakababagot na trapik
Pagkat ang paghinto ay pagkakataong magmasid.
Sa labas ay pinipigang pawís na tuwalya
Ang batok ng matandang lalaking nagtitinda
Ng Good Morning towel;
Nag-aalok sa mga nakapilang nag-aabang ng dyip.
Mga lalamunan iyong walang malunok ni kaunting ginhawa,
Mga gulugod at binti iyong araw-araw na sakmal ng ngalay
Ngunit init man at págod iyon sa mata,
Hindi iyon madama ng sariling katawang
Inaalo ng aircon ng kotse at de-gutsong upuan
At hinihimas ng malamig na mineral water ang lalamunan.
Sa kaliwa ay isang pampasaherong bus
Ang nagsamuhon sa gitna ng ayaw umusad
Na daloy ng lungsod;
Karga-karga ang mga nakatayong walang magawa
Kundi ang mahalin ang kaunting hangin sa paghinga.
Mga dibdib iyong kalkulado ang galaw,
Mga ilong iyong hindi na makakapamili ng masisinghot.
Ngunit siksikang pugon man iyon sa kanyang paningin,
Wala, pagkat ang puwesto niya’y biniling
Maluwag na espasyo at malamig na hangin.
Nang makausad nang kaunti ay napansin niya ang mga gilid
Ng abenida na eskenitang ang tunton ay looban
At parang awtomatikong nag-play sa isip niya—
Tila nagmumula sa mamahaling stereo ng kotse—
Ang sabi-sabing sa mga masisikip daw na lunan na iyon
Sinisingil ang buhay ng ordinaryo, pinadadanak ang dugo
Para tumibay ang pundasyon ng mapayapang lungsod.
Ngunit dahas man iyong nambigla sa sandali ng isip,
Nabibili niya ang sagradong buhay
At payapang nakatutulog sa mariwasang bahay.
Pag-uwi niya ay ihinilata
Ang katawang nilinlang
Sa kunwaring panlalata,
Muli niyang isinuksok ang paniniwala sa ulo:
Hindi ako dapat na mabahala,
Hindi pa nagugunaw ang mundo.
rediscovers the agency of
both body and heart in her
debut book of poetry
BY JAM PASCUAL
There is a complicated but necessary discussion to be had
about the relationship between the artist and pain. From personal
experience, I’ve noticed that many artists among my peers, including
myself, take a masochistic delight in converting our emotional
aches and hang-ups into fuel for artistic ends. We turn ourselves
into chugging engines, messengers of pain. Inner demons are raw
material, poetry is the product, but can we call that a good thing?
One can say the creative process is therapy in itself, but that isn’t true
for everybody. What must the artist make of their pain?
Bea Osmeña’s debut book, a collection of poetry and photos called
Artificial Limbs, doesn’t give definite answers, but it demonstrates
something resembling a miracle. In five painstaking acts, Bea
reconstructs for us a relationship frayed at the seams by distance,
shared trauma, and other kinds of hurt that probably warrant a
content warning. “You had me convinced: / love and pain go together
/ like a horse and a strick,” Bea writes in “Emotional Masochist.”
Amazingly, she resurfaces. She comes back alive. Artificial Limbs is
catharsis fixed into an object you can hold in your hands, infinitely
easier to hold than an actual feeling. That’s the miracle.
In an email interview, I spoke to Bea the way one speaks to a friend
who’s been through it: we talk about what was, what is, and what’s
So, the first time we met was in a creative writing class in
college. Now you have a book! How is the writer you are now
different from the writer you were then? What changed? What
stayed the same?
Honestly, this is the first thing I published in five years since our
thesis chapbooks. In that span of time I admit I strayed away from
poetry, my track in college, focusing more on fiction for children
(both in script and short-story form) for a company that does
custom books for clients, and non-fiction for various online and
print publications. For a long time my poetry was just written for
myself. I think a lot of what has changed in that five years is
that I’ve learned to see vulnerability as a strength instead of a
weakness. I still struggle to call myself a poet or even a writer (at
least outside the professional realm), but the only way I figured
I could fix that was to put my work out there, no matter how
scared I am of being judged, of not being good enough, of
being laughed at, and so on. I think this year I decided I’m more
scared of never doing it.
You graduated with not just a BFA in Creative Writing but
a minor in education as well, and are a creative arts teacher!
How has working as an educator affected your relationship
with art, with writing?
Absolutely. I’ve come to realize that the art that we encounter,
whether as children (though especially as children), or adults (and
really, now that I am an adult, I really feel like adults are really
just children in bigger bodies), leaves its imprint on us. I think
a lot about how artists have a responsibility to understand the
context of their work outside of themselves, understand how it
can be understood in the context of the audience. Which may
be obvious for some, but sometimes when people get caught
up in the process of creating, people lose track of that. Being
a teacher has allowed me to open myself up to the viewpoint
of others, whether I’m trying to understand the approach of a
parent, child, another teacher, or whomever. I think it’s allowed
me to be more empathetic, or so I’d at least like to think. It’s
made me reevaluate why I write, and to ensure I am within that
reevaluation mindset so that I don’t get stuck.
There are poems in the book that make references to foreign
countries and idyllic sceneries. What importance does travel
hold for you, not just as a writer but as a person?
As much as I am riddled with anxiety about new experiences
(and the writing of this book intersected with my first seeing a
psychiatrist and getting diagnosed with anxiety and depression,
which are also themes in these poems), I do relish the chance to learn
something new. I think that travel broadens our perspective in that way,
if you let it. I think that the relevance of Scandinavia was more than
just its timing of my having visited and taking photos there while I
was working on this book. It became a reflection of the breadth that I
found within myself during the writing process, with its vast landscapes
and endless skies. For a long time while I was suffering through my
anxiety and depression undiagnosed, I felt as though I had been in a
sort of prison. Recognizing what it was made me feel seen and less
The launch of the book has also been timed with your migration
to the US. Where in the US are you staying, and what do you hope
to experience in this new place?
I’m now located in Portland, Oregon. For a long time my health
had been suffering because of the pollution in Manila. I developed
eczema and lung problems because of it (and I don’t even smoke, but
I’m certain I have the lungs of a smoker at this point). So both on a
superficial and metaphorical level, I moved to the US to find space to
breathe. I’ve only been here two weeks and it’s been quite lonely in
that time, trying to navigate a new place and culture that are very much
outside my comfort zone. But I also hope to prove to myself that I can
adapt outside my comfort zone, because I do think that just outside
that zone is where you find the most growth. So fingers crossed.
realized that admitting those parts out loud was what I needed
to start letting them go. The beginning of forgiving myself,
forgiving others, and moving on. I do think that any growth
in any field entails growing pains. I think for me, I use writing
poetry to articulate my feelings that I have difficulty putting a
pinpoint on. And the process can be painful, oftentimes it is, but
in the end it is illuminating, and I’d rather have that.
What advice would you give to writers or artists who want
to negotiate with traumatic, painful experiences with their
work, but aren’t sure how to go about it?
I think that the most important thing is to be honest, both with
yourself and with your audience. I think people can see right
through insincerity, and no one appreciates when someone
thinks they can pull the wool over their eyes. Letting go of ego
and the need to be right or great or impressive or any of that, and
just wanting to say something truthful that you hope others can
connect with is the best advice I can give.
What’s next for you? Are there more books on the way?
I’m still trying to figure that out myself! I do hope to write a
poetry book for children, something that I’ve yet to do. But
who knows, maybe that will take yet another five years. I’ll keep
writing and see where it takes me.
“I realized that admitting those
parts out loud was what I needed to
start letting them go. The beginning
of forgiving myself, forgiving others,
and moving on.”
Obligatory question about influences: who are your favorite
writers? And are there works of art that inspired you and figured
into your creative process when you working on the book?
Toni Morrison. Sylvia Plath. Shel Silverstein. Kurt Vonnegut. So many.
My writing has gone from the more self-centered navel-gazing that
I find is honestly a very natural place for young writers to start, to
searching for more universal experiences within that nuance. I look
up to a lot of female writers who gave no shits about the status quo
and wrote from their true experiences. And any writer who can invoke
irreverence into their work, well, it’s something that I aspire to. Life’s
too short be taken it too seriously.
It’s hard to talk about Artificial Limbs without risking the
reopening of old wounds, so forgive me. I imagine that writing
this book — because it is about a painful experience — required
you to revisit some dark places. How did you negotiate with your
emotions and experiences when you were writing this book? What
can you say about the relationship between art and pain, having
coming out of this project alive?
A lot of literal tears came with the process of reliving trauma, and
I grappled with sharing those particular aspects in the book. But I
“Artificial Limbs” can be found in the following stores:
Kwago (Warehouse 8-A, La Fuerza Plaza, 2241 Chino Roces Ave., Makati City)
Respite (84 Scout Fernandez, Quezon City)
Mt. Cloud Bookshop (001 Yangco Road, 2600 Baguio City)
Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Shop (141 Front St Brooklyn, New York)
Book Thug Nation (100 N3rd St. Btwn Berry St and Wythe Ave Brooklyn, New York)
Belmont Books (3415 SE Belmont St. Portland, Oregon)
ang mga tala
BY JEROME FLOR
Hindi pala magugunaw ang daigdig sa baha. Hindi sa paghulog
ng mga tala sa langit. Hindi sa pagdami ng mga hayop at
mikrobyong papatay sa tao. Hindi sa paglipol ng sangkatauhan
mula sa kapabayaan, digmaan, at sakit. Hindi sa muling
pagkabuhay ni Hesus para labanan ang halimaw na may pitong
ulo para sa ikalawang hudyat ng digmaan. Matatapos ito sa
ng buwan. Magkatabi tayo sa higaan. Nadarama na ang ritmo
ng isa’t isa. Pinagmasdan ko ang mga nalalabing bituin, pero
bubulungan mo ako ng “tulog na,” sabay halik.
Magugunaw na ang daigdig kapag nakapikit na akong kapiling
kita dahil hindi ko na kailangang tumingin nang malayongmalayo
Nailathala ang unang bersiyon sa Heights Folio Tomo LXII, Blg.3
The moment I encountered
the word ‘guillotine’
BY ALFONSO MANALASTAS
PHOTO BY ENNUH TIU
I confused it for gluten and spent
weeks wondering what new brand
of Keto diet had decided
to pay my generation a visit
this time, when my city crumbles,
I imagine it to sound
like snapping a biscuit in half,
the kind that forms
in the mouth the exact moment
the word fuck is conceived,
how it trips and knots
at the throat but still manages
to swim up to the surface, breathe,
take a life of its own,
maybe even get married one day
and name one of its children
after the pope, who knows?
For now, I am inclined to believe
when Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin
invented the device
that would cause thousands
of heads to fall
from the thousands of bodies
they once belonged to —
all of them presumed murderers
and thieves disloyal to the crown,
traitors to the French monarchy,
heretics and false gods, you
name it; noblemen and the poor
both bleeding the same red —
he must have slow danced
his wife and whispered to her ear
I promise, this will all be good.
Photo by ENNUH TIU
Noong Nalaman Nila
Na Hindi Na Kailangan
Matakot sa Kamatayan
BY CARISSA NATALIA BACONGUIS
Ginawa nilang kodigo ang ating mga alaala:
Para sa mga panahong nasunog na ang ating katawan,
Maari pa rin tayong maglipat ng kamalayan.
Sabihin nating tumawa tayo noong sumabog ang mundo.
Kinuha natin ang mga katawan ng mga marinero,
Sapagkat sinabi ko sa iyong hindi ko pa nakikita ang karagatan—
Pagmasdan kung paano naalala ng mga buto ang bawat
katal ng agos, ngunit wala tayong nalalaman sa kanilang alaala.
Hanggang paa, braso, at kapangyarihan lamang sa karagatan.
Pagkatapos sinabi mo sa akin na hindi mo pa nakikita
Ang lungsod, kaya kinuha natin ang katawan ng mga estudyante
At sumakay ng mga tren at bus. Iniwan natin ang gubat—o
Kung anumang natira sa harding iyon. Iniwan natin
Ang mga dati nating katawan, hubad at nananabik.
Sa sinumang makakakuha sa kanila, pagmamanahan lamang nila
Ang kapinsalaan. Sa ganitong paraan mo rin nabanggit
Na hindi mo pa nakikita ang planeta. Kaya kinuha natin
Ang katawan ng mga astronawta. Pinasukan ang kuwitis.
Sinabi natin na suwerte tayo.
Sa buwan natin pinapanood ang planeta, ngumiti ka
At ngumiti rin ako pabalik. Tapos,
sumabog na ang mundo. Tayo nga ang sinuwerte.
Akalain mo iyon, mahal? Mukhang dapit-hapon lang ang pahayag.
Napakalayo na natin sa ating tahanan. Napakalayo ng ating panaginip.
Kaya hinanap ko ang iyong mga mata
At wala na ring natira sa mga dati nating pagkakilala sa isa’t-isa.
Mga mata ito ng estranghero. Hipo ng banyaga. Sunog ang langit.
Lagi tayong nagbabago, mahal, hindi na natin nakilala ang kasiyahan.
Maaaring tumatawa tayo ngayon. Sinasabi ko na mahal kita
Ngunit hindi ko alam kung anong balikat ang sinasandalan ko.
Wala nang natira kundi ang alaala. Walang mga estatwa,
Walang mga bundok. Hanggang itong mga mortal na katawan
Kahit ang iyong mga mata ay kalawakang hindi pa nauunawaan.
Subalit kapag wala na ang mga bagong katawan, matututunan natin
Maging pamilyar— papatayin tayo ng himpapawid,
At nauubos na ang oksiheno para makasalita.
Kaya tiningnan kita. Tiningnan kita habang lahat ng mga labi
Tumutudla patungo sa atin. Sa mga dapit-hapon na ganito,
Naalala ko na minahal nga kita.
It All Ends Here
BY EARL CARLO GUEVARRA
Every year, someone proclaims that the end-times are near.
Back in 2012, they said that the Earth would be destroyed by
an asteroid. Rasputin once predicted that a storm would take
place on August 23, 2013, killing all life on Earth. In 2017,
David Meade predicted that Nibiru would become visible in
the sky and would soon destroy the Earth.
To be honest, we’ve survived the end of the world so many
times that we’ve come to think of the end-times as nothing
but a source of laughs and memes.
Jokes aside, what is the end of the world? How does it
look like? Does the world end in a bang? Does the Earth
end in a sudden catastrophe? Or does the apocalypse come
This is a broad question that many have been asking since
the time when humans lived on this planet. Sure, many of
the Holy Scriptures gave different versions of eschatology;
however, they seemed to be so far away from the human
imagination that a good number of us dismissed them as
Yet, as I grew up and broadened my horizons, I realized that we
humans are just as responsible for the state of our world right
now. From irresponsible people throwing garbage on the road
to multinational companies wrecking Mother Nature; from
heartless persons who spread chaos and discord to a general
decrease in the level of our political discourse, it seems that
we are slowly building up our path towards our damnation.
To be honest, while I believe that something of that sort
would happen at an undetermined date in the future, I’m
more occupied right now with the day-to-day challenges that
I have to face in my life.
My own version of a cataclysm is this: Losing my job, losing
the chance to fulfill my dreams, losing my loved ones, losing
my heart and losing my way in life. When I lose all of those
things, I could pretty much say that I’m done with this life.
Then, there would be no more need for me to see a solar
flare, get my head popped by a missile explosion, get hit by
an asteroid or become a zombie. I would pretty much be
included in the ranks of the lost and the damned anyway.
However, in the case that I survive life and actually got to
see our final days on Earth, I envision the end of times as
something that comes gradually.
There might be a small, subtle sign here and there; a couple
of inexplicable phenomena, followed by some events that
would defy imagination.
Finally, I guess it would end with a bright splash of a
thousand hues, splashing its majesty and strength as it burns
everything alive, turning them back to dust.
I always thought that there would be some time before the
crack of doom rains upon this blue and green planet. I guess
I would just turn off the television, open a large bottle of
iced tea, sit calmly with my family and just recollect all the
good times that we’ve had before that day.
I would open up our photo album, watch videos with my
future kids…maybe even play some video games and make
some dessert with them.
Then, when the inevitable event horizon arrives, we’ll
just say a silent prayer to each other, even as everyone is
panicking and hysterical outside our home. Afterwards,
we will wish ourselves the best of luck, hoping to see each
other in whatever version of the afterlife we’ve thought of.
I want to go to a bright, beautiful place – I just want to be
with my loved ones forever.
I could say that life is about enjoying and cherishing the
things that you hold dear the most. Besides, it won’t matter
if the end days catch you as long as you’re certain that you
were trying to fulfill your existential purpose.
Maybe the end of the world is already upon us…and we
are just oblivious to the fact that we’ll see the end of our
When doomsday comes, we all know that one line.
It all ends here.