The Youth Is On Fire 7: The End of the World

youngstarph

What happens when today’s issues tell you that wholesale social collapse can totally happen before you can apply for a senior citizenship card? We’re not endorsing pessimism, but urgency — there is value in assessing how the idea of the apocalypse affects our inner worlds. This is The Youth Is On Fire Issue 7, laced with the looming possibility of the end of all things.

CONTENTS

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

EDITORS

Jam Pascual

Ralph Fonte

EDITORIAL TEAM

Bea Amador

Fiel Estrella

Gaby Gloria

LAYOUT ARTIST

Gian Nicdao

CONTRIBUTORS

Ticia Almazan

Rommel Bonus

Regine Cabato

Jerome Flor

Earl Carlo Guevarra

Alfonso Manalastas

Carissa Natalia Baconguis

Andrea Panaligan

Paolo Tiausas

ART

Marx Reinhart Fidel

Megel Joshua Ramiterre

Myla Rodrigo

Ennuh Tiu

COVER by Myla Rodrigo


EDITOR’S NOTE

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

things.

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.

TEAM YS


TALA NG PATNUGOT

Anim na taong gulang ako

nang una akong makaligtas

sa Gunaw.

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.

Wakas.

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, “t​hat

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

katapusan.

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

dapithapong lungtian.

Setyembr 2019

Maynila, Pilipinas

RALPH FONTE


Art by MARX REINHART FIDEL


Photo by ENNUH TIU


save us,

liza soberano

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

me): atake.

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

own egos?

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

incompetent.

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

aimless.

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

own pace.

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.


Kaharap

ang Huling

Araw ng

Bakasyon

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.

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.

Faster.

His legs shake from the realization that the ringing is

coming from the ground.

He remembers the headlines.

He runs.


Art by MEGEL JOSHUA RAMITERRE


Isa Iyong

Pambihirang Pagkakataon

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.


Bea Osmeña

rediscovers the agency of

both body and heart in her

debut book of poetry

“Artificial Limbs”

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

to come.

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

limited.

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)


Bababa na

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

kabilugan

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

sa bintana.

Magandang gabi.

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

lamang.

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

in installments?

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

mere myths.

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

world soon.

When doomsday comes, we all know that one line.

It all ends here.