The Winners and Finalists of the Philippines Free Press Literary Awards:
FICTION: (Judges are Charlson Ong, Celeste Flores-Coscolluela, Exie Abola)
1. Erscheinung – Michelangelo Samson (3rd Place)
2. Panopticon of El Hogar – Russel Stanley Geronimo
3. After The Body Displaces Water – Daryll Jane Delgado
4. When You See A Dog – Jenette Vizcocho (2nd Place)
5. Recuerdos de Patay – Caroline Hau (1st Place)
6. Sweet – Marguerite de Leon
7. Spawn – Popi Laudico
8. Desert Winds – Jean Gerald Anuddin
9. Numb – Jenette Vizcocho
10. A Study of Insects – Irene Carolina Sarmiento
11. Works Cited – U. Eliserio
12. Fade to Red – Twink Macaraig
POETRY: (Judges are Noelle Leslie de la Cruz, Marne Kilates, Gemino Abad)
1. Variations on the Expulsion from Eden – Eliza Victoria
2. The Painted Prince – Frank Penones Jr.
3. Duwende – Myrna Peña-Reyes
4. Love is How We Come Undone -Amado Bajarias
5. How to Kill a Whale Shark – Timi Siytangco (2nd Place)
6. Warrior’s Wife (After Li Po) – Ino Habana
7. Weight Without Gravity – Andrea Teran (3rd Place)
8. The Widow, Upon Learning That Her Old Lover Had Returned to the Island of San Antonio – Merlie Alunan
9. Zeno’s Paradox – Luisa A. Igloria (1st Place)
10. Weight of the World – Michellan Sarile-Alagao
Congrats to the winners!
This year’s event was held at the Club Cafe of the Makati Sports Club.
On that table (partly seen in the picture) sits National Artist F. Sionil Jose. I was too shy to take a picture of him.
While drinking wine and having a dinner of meat-and-asparagus rolls, lumpia, kani sandwich, penne pasta, and sweet fruit tarts (my approximation of the dishes served that night), I was able to talk to Noelle, Joel, Khavn (so sorry I didn’t recognize you at once eek I’m still embarrassed), Michelangelo Samson (congrats on the win!), Andrea Teran (congrats!) and Jenette Vizcocho. (She asked me what my category was before the announcement, and when I said Poetry, she said, “Ayos, friends tayo.” HAHA!) Tin’s cousin, Gian Lao, approached me and said lovely things about my poetry. “This is about meeting THE Eliza Victoria.” That’s too much! But thank you!
We were also able to share a table with Twink Macaraig and her husband.
And now for the nominated poem:
This poem first appeared in print in the Philippines Free Press.
Variations on the Expulsion from Eden
i. Adam and Eve as Evicted Tenants
We wager you wanted us to do it, giving us this place for free, allowing us to re-paint the walls, rearrange the existing furniture.
Cerise, we decided to call it, and we rolled up our sleeves and applied the coat in clean, thick strokes, watching, amazed, as the paint dried, accepting its definition.
Rose, we whispered to each other, and we licked each other’s nipples, each other’s cheeks.
And if we said vermilion? And if we said fire? We pushed our tongues into each other’s mouths, noting the subtle change in taste. Every day our lips burned with the act of naming.
Always, that tree in a corner, unfenced, unguarded.
We were hungry. We were trying to find a shelter from your rain.
This we now know: everything has been named even before our arrival. We attacked cerise, chipping away at this mistake with our fingernails. Not rose, not vermilion, not fire. We moved away from each other, clothing ourselves, preserving the landscapes we have yet to discover.
The unnamed belongs to us, but now even the blank walls are resistant.
Is this what you wanted us to learn: how limited we are, how unnecessary?
How long must we stand here, how long must we knock on your door with our damaged hands? How long must you answer us with this silence?
ii. Adam and Eve as Murder Suspects
That day the future took shape, an outline in chalk on the wet sidewalk.
What horrible conceit, the illusion of endlessness, your perfect pathways that never meet each other.
And now, the threat of exile. How it pales when compared to the moment of unshielding. The juice dribbling down our lips, the seeds lodged in our throats.
How it wounded us, how we wept at the sight of all this beauty.
The tree bending in supplication: Forgive me for telling you the truth.
Taken as evidence: our clothes, our wandering gaze.
Must we now say We did not do it, We do not know anything, We have been in this room for hours, We were elsewhere when the crime was committed?
Must we say Show us your face, you bastard, you scum. We try to look past the glare of your light and witness only our own reflections.
We know our rights.
Can you give us a glass of water?
How many times must we tell you —
Leave, you say, and we pause, lifting our manacled hands so you can see.
Listen: we have left this place a long time ago.
iii. Adam and Eve as Abandoned Children
So this is it, then: this dark spot on the side of the road, the swirling dust, the diminishing form of your car. We move forward to keep the distance constant. We wonder if we are framed by your rearview mirror, if it is in your nature to look back. We wave and pretend it is a gesture of welcome.
Maybe somewhere in your wallet is a picture of us, tattered, handled often. See, now? Deterioration can be an evidence of love. Dog-eared pages, scuff marks on leather, overlapping fingerprints on the glass of a coffin.
The conspicuous absence of the fruit on its branch, and all you notice is our sudden lack of questions, our disobedience.
We come back to the empty house and try to cherish our dirty faces, the dishes in the sink, our clothes in need of mending, the dirt settling on all the surfaces. (Deterioration can be an evidence of love.)
We try to ignore how similar this is to abandonment.
Come back to us and show us again that rock, that flower that you wanted us to see, and we promise that we will do it right this time. We will say How lovely, instead of giving you a wordless smile, the pained look of someone who knows all the answers.