Eastern and Southern Mindanao



The works of young writers from Southern and Eastern Mindanao demonstrate strong artistry and a sense of rootedness in place. The writers in this selection include a member of the Blaan community in Matanao, Davao del Sur; a Butuanon creative writing major from Agusan del Norte; a Bangsamoro Kagan who has worked for the local government in Davao del Norte; and a poet and children’s book writer from SOCCSKSARGEN.

Elizabeth Joy Serrano-Quijano’s “Kasiawa” tells story of a woman from Matanao who recalls a memorable character from when she was growing up: a man named Siawa integrates himself into a culturally diverse town, even when his Chinese ancestry marks him as a foreigner. The keenly observant narrator constructs a profile of their neighbor and slowly reveals the intricacies of relationships within the community.

The speaker’s attention in M.J. Cagumbay Tumamac’s Suno flits from the sap of the papaya fruit to the fishermen covering the holes on their boats. While some of the poems are about the seemingly mundane (chicken pox, herding of pigs), Tumamac presses upon his subject a solemn kind of reflexivity. Some of the poems directly address the works of others, sustaining a discourse of sorts, and launches a conversation with writers in the SOCCSKSARGEN. Using the lyric verse and prose poetry forms in Hiligaynon, Tumamac charts a landscape of memory and space.

Ivan Khenard Acero’s “Stormchild” is a vivid recollection of an extraordinary event: the delivery of a younger sibling during a typhoon. The narrative is filled with striking images, such as “sporadic candlelight” spreading across the neighborhood like “like dozens of santelmo.” Acero marks his recollection with insight—“there is no silence greater than the brief moment” after he witnesses the birth of a younger sibling. The essay ends with an understanding of a shared experience. Like most children, we come of age to a changing climate, “baptized by flood.”

Mohammad Nasseff R. Macla’s verse suite takes the point of view of a revolutionary. Glimpses of the life and struggles of the Bangsamoro people animate these unadorned but sincere poems. Macla sings an ode to a martyr, noting that as the war goes on, the “sun / dries the wet puddles.” In another poem, a child peeps into the holes on the walls of a masjid, nearby he “hears the rivers revived.” The poems offer a rare chance to immerse in the consciousness of those who have often been written away in our histories.

As varied the concerns and styles are of the writers included in this collection, they offer a sampling of the depth of literary talent coming from this part of the country. These verses and prose works represent emerging voices who will continue to tell the story of Mindanao.

Elizabeth Joy Serrano-Quijano

M.J. Cagumbay Tumamac

Ivan Khenard A. Acero

Mohammad Nassefh R. Macla

About the author

John Bengan
By John Bengan