Introduction to Issue 2

John Bengan

Last March, when Teng Mangansakan and MJ Tumamac invited me to guest edit the second issue of the Dadiangas Review, I immediately accepted the chance. I wanted to work on one of the promising literary journals to recently come out not only in Mindanao, but in the country.

We received a considerable number of submissions from different places all over the three major island groups. It’s a testament to the journal’s scope and openness, even for a second release, that the verse and prose submissions were either in Filipino, Hiligaynon, Cebuano, Waray, and even a mix of a handful of these languages, apart from English.

In selecting the works for this issue, I considered the constraints given by my fellow editors (10 to 11 works), and also tried to get a sense of the lot we received. I grouped the submissions into three: not quite there yet, perhaps, and yes. I based my considerations on the peculiar ways certain works use language to shape a vision, a provocation about or arising from the material they chose. I looked out for works that had a keen sense of where they are coming from. What explication and rendering of their locality do they intend to bring to this increasingly confounding planet we inhabit? Sometimes I chose a work that still bears some roughness for the boldness with which they dared to tell their story.

To me, the final selections represent well the time and space in which they were conceived: estranged half-brothers meet amid rice paddies in Maguindanao; a young girl attends a virtual class, only to be found by a sinister figure preying supposedly within safe spaces; a Kaagan community negotiates the presence of their Visayan settler neighbors; a radio show titled “Dabodabo”; “the virtue of a voice unable to ask consent”; a crowd rushing out in search of “nawalang lingaw”; a young boy chasing a truck announcing what movies were showing next in Marawi City; and a dog that tore a dream to pieces, among other memorable snapshots from the poems, essays, and stories here.

The issue also includes a tribute to Gilbert Tan, a writer from General Santos City who passed away in December 2019. Tan helped organize literary events in GenSan and inspired many young writers, including the author of the essay.

The Dadiangas Review is one of the newer publishing venues that have recently come out in this part of the country. We only have the founding editors to thank for this new burst of energy for Mindanao and local writing. We know too well how the events of the past year have changed the way we lived. I hope that the works in this issue remind us to remain awake and vigilant, in spite of the tremendous challenge of being alive in the face of many threats.

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