Monday, November 20, 2023


 Two Monobons by Zosimo Quibilan, Jr.




"I'll just brew you a new cup. Once power is restored, okay?" Ate apologized before beginning to sound off words that began rising slowly from the ground. They were in sans serif, partially visible in the darkness around us; the feeble light made them look italicized. I would not dare attempt repeating what she said this time and spark yet another bitter sibling rivalry. She was bobbing her head. She might have been trembling. We could both hear a faint rhythm rousing more words inside her throat. I thought I saw her lips stop moving. The words continued rising, enclosing us in a wall of half illuminated texts. We read them together. We took it all in, a soundless rap bullying me to stare at her. She was shocked, too. The words boomed and shook the floor. I had an idea of what she was planning to do, and she knew that I already knew.  At least, she wanted to rip the words that escaped her mouth. Translate the wall to a language yet to be spoken. She wanted to shred them until they’re as fine as dust.  


Obliterate the letters or the differences between them



It was nighttime when they took Kuya. They took the pigs and chickens, too. The Katipons should be well-fed before the enemy slaughters them. We even let them take our bunso. He still has the gift of youth. He can smuggle rifles, swing a tabak, and etch letters on his mangy arms. The scent from the ipil tree he felled earlier still smells sweet. I gave the tinyente a piece of Lolo Macario’s scapular. I think that’s the only thing I can give myself. I’m still working on my tinola. Yes, I have done laundry in the river a few times. However, the most important thing I can contribute to the revolution is worrying non-stop that they will never come back. Earlier today, a blind Katipon got lost in the neighborhood. He told us how the enemy overran the Taguig outpost. How the Guardia Civil hacked the prisoners limb by limb because they wouldn’t talk. I refused to believe him even when he tried to rub his missing right arm that was severed from the shoulder. I have faith that my brothers will return. It has just been fortnight ago when they left. Nothing bad can happen in that short period of time. Nothing. Now let me start with the rice. It’s hard to pick rice husks during dusk. I have to be careful not to get these into my eyes again. I let every grain slip between my fingers. No need for holes in my palms. I do it again with conviction. Rinse rice then repeat. I said I will not cry. I cannot cry.

Ants drown in my tears.





Zosimo Quibilan, Jr. is a writer and musician based in Los Angeles. He won the Philippine National Book Award and the Madrigal Gonzalez Best First Book Award for his book of fiction called Pagluwas (University of the Philippines Press, 2006). Performing as singer-songwriter ZOS!MO, Quibilan has released Tagalog indie rock and electronic music. ZOS!MO is  part of the 2023-2024 season of L.A. Made, the Los Angeles Public Library’s cultural program featuring free music, dance, workshops throughout the City. 


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