Post-Yolanda, What Have We Built Back?

Nestor pointed at a 15-foot coconut tree standing by the sea shore. Its leaves have fallen off and the trunk shows chipping and cuts from children trying to reach for a fruit. “Mas mataas pa dyan ‘yung alon” (The waves are higher than that tree), he recalled. The tree reminded him of November 8, 2013…

The Batanes Survival Guide: 13 Places You Must Visit

Just a decade ago, Batanes is just a small, unpopular island at the northernmost tip of the Philippines. Some would remember Batanes from the elementary textbooks as a place frequently hit by typhoons. Some would associate it with Ivatans, the indigenous tribe from the north who built the vernacular stonehouses. Either way, just a few…

Batanes: Tales and Tips from an Ivatan’s Granddaughter

Lola Inggay died when I was 11. She was 84. There were only too little memories I could associate with her, Christmas being one of them. My grandmother used to give me five peso coins from her plastic pouch every time I visited her. I used to think “Mano po” is some secret code to…

Autumn and Winter in South Korea

It’s true what they say: We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us. It was the end of the November and autumn leaves had just started to fall. The ground was covered with the color of decay, the soil moist from the occasional rain, the air heavy with scent of petrichor….

Love in the Time of Martial Law

Editor’s Note: Just in case you think it’s unimportant — Moving On from Martial Law? Fe and Roger had been co-teachers in a university for quite some time, occasionally exchanging nods and “hellos” inside the campus. But it was only when Roger won his first Palanca award on his poem “Mga Duguang Plakard” (Bloodied Placards) that Fe took…

President Noynoy Aquino’s Report Card

I hate the State of the Nation Address. For a news producer like myself, it is the busiest time of the year for researching stories, producing a series of news segments on the plight of Filipinos and doing a remote coverage at the House of Representatives. The list goes on. But it is not the busy schedule…

Abortion in the Philippines: A True Story

10:30pm. Three girls were about to meet in a fast food chain. A girl in a jacket arrived with her boyfriend, planted a peck on the boy’s cheek and wished him a safe ride home. The other girl was carrying a box of blueberry cheesecakes with a note: “It gets worse before it gets better.” The…

Cagayan de Oro: Rapid River Thriller

Last 2014, the body of a missing tourist was recovered in Cagayan de Oro River, Mindanao. This was the first accident since CDO began its commercial white water rafting operations in 1995. I was shocked to hear the news. After all, we did have a great time rafting in the river in 2013. It was a…

Bullies Everywhere

I was once a bully. During my freshman year in high school, I used to put freshly-picked grass on my classmate’s desk and call him “Potro.” It is the name of a horse in one of the stories I read in our Filipino class. I called him Potro after he was assigned to act as a horse…