Paperback: 262 pages
Publisher: University of Santo Tomas Publishing House (2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 971506714X
ISBN-13: 978-9715067140

…… In Don Pagusara’s one-act play “Uyayi sa Digmaan,” set in the resources-rich Liguasan Marsh, the Maguindanao couple Hassan and Amira and their nine-month-old daughter Hanamir become unwitting victims of the on-going war waged by the military against the so-called Moro rebels in the area. In the opening scene, Amira sings an uyayi or lullaby to comfort the frightened child:

Ang bangka ng ating buhay
Ng alon dinuduyan-duyan
Ng unos inuugoy-ugoy
Ng dilim tinukso-tukso…
Subalit pagsapit
Ng bukangliwayway
Ng liwanag ginigiliw-giliw…

The promised dawn, however, does not come for them. A bloody fight finally erupts between the military and the rebel faction in the end. Amira and Hassan are caught in the crossfire. The baby survives, now an orphan. It seems that war’s special propensity is breeding orphans wherever it occurs in the world.

The short story “A Harvest of Sorrows” by Gutierrez Mangansakan II takes place in an evacuation center where a hundred evacuees seek refuge from the on-going skirmishes between the military and the Muslim rebels. Some of the indelible images: “the forlorn faces of mothers trying to hush their crying infants, livestock tied to a tree with a leash so short they might die of strangulation, a heap of belongings here and there, smokes billowing from makeshift stoves. . .” One of the refugees has given birth at the crack of dawn. Premature and stillborn. “Fleeing their village three days on foot was too much for her.” The baby, a girl, is dead:

Her father does not know yet. He guards the rice fields now heavy with fruit from birds and looters. Under a mango tree, he thinks of his wife and, in his mind, a child yet to be born. . . He consoles himself with a thought: ‘My child will grow strong and study hard and become a professional and live in the city far from all this.’

From a distance, a military chopper drones.

From “The Halo-Halo Review