Merlie M. Alunan translates John Iremil Teodoro


Translated from Kinaray-a

This afternoon the Museum’s all mine 
as once I claimed your smile, one noon-time 
gazing down from a window
at the terrace of an old mansion in Silay City.
Joyous fragrance glow in the colors 
of Anita Magsaysay Ho’s flowers.
However, the dead rot of flowers fester 
in the rain-drenched garden of my heart.
I am waiting for the glass door to open
and for you to come in, your chinky eyes
crinkled with your smile.
You graduated last trimester, I know,
found a job in that giant of a building
along Ayala Avenue. Off to a good start, you are, 
chase your dreams as capitalist lifestyle prescribes.
No time now to write those stories, those poems,
these wild flowers that burst out of your being
that I may claim as mine, over and over.

Last week we were together
in a videoke joint across the street.
We toasted the fact of our being writers.
Once drunk, you couldn’t stop singing
about a woman you’ve loved who jilted you.
A good thing you forced on me
those three beers.
I could blame them for the bitterness
in my throat, inside my heart.
The next morning, you texted to laud me
for the tragedy I wrote about two men
in love with each other.
Bitter beer rose to my tongue again,
I texted you back,
“Then this is the end, and I thank you.”
No reply from you. I deleted you
from my cellphone’s memory.

It is freezing in this museum.
A normal thing for all museums
to be frigid so as to preserve
the masterpieces of such sculptors and painters
as Anita Magsaysay Ho,
saving the last glory of flowers
dying slowly in their pails and baskets,
somehow eking the last bit of life 
from cold and fetid water.


John Iremil Teodoro is from San Jose de Buenavista, Antique. He is Associate Professor and the Graduate Program Coordinator at the Literature Department in the College of Liberal Arts of De La Salle University. He is also the Associate for Regional Literature of La Salle’s Bienvenido N. Santos Creative Writing Center. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of San Agustin in Iloilo City, and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Literature from DLSU. He is a multi-awarded writer in Kinaray-a, Filipino, Hiligaynon, and English. He is the author of more than 12 books and his collection of short essays, Pagmumuni-muni at Pagtatalak ng Sirenang Nagpapanggap na Prinsesa, won the National Book Award from the Manila Critics Circle and the National Book Development Board. Teodoro, a scholar of Hiligaynon Literature, contributes reviews, travel pieces, and cultural reportage to AGUNG, The Daily Tribune, and Liwayway Magazine, where he is writing a regular column on books and the importance of reading. He is presently the Secretary General of Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL or the Writers Union of the Philippines.) 

Merlie M. Alunan began her work on translation with the Ulahingan project of Dr. Elena Maquiso in Silliman University 1997, when she became part of a team that rendered selected parts of the epic chant in archaic Manobo into English. Her most important works include Sa Atong Dila (University of the Philippines Press, 2015), an introductory anthology of Visayan Literature; Susumaton Oral Narratives of Leyte (Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2016); Tinalunay (University of the Philippines Press 2018), an anthology of Waray Literature; These titles, and Running with Ghosts and other Poems,  a collection of poetry, earned the National Book Award for 2016, 2017, and 2019. She has done translation work in at least four Visayan languages, Waray, Cebuano, Kinaray-a, and Hiligaynon. She translated the first collection of poetry of Adonis Durado, entitled Dili Tanang Matagak Mahagbong / Not all that Drops Falls (Asteismus Press, 2008), and Temistocles Adlawan’s collection of short stories, Kay Dili Buta ang Gugma / Because Love Is Not Blind (University of San Carlos Press, 2009). She has published six collections of her own poetry under the following titles: Hearthstone, Sacred Tree Hearthstone Sacred Tree (Anvil, 1993), Amina among the Angels (University of the Philippines, 1997), Selected Poems (University of the Philippines, 2004), Tales of the Spider Woman (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2010), Pagdakop sa Bulalakaw ug uban pang mga Balak (Ateneo de Naga University Press, 2016), and Running with Ghosts (Ateneo de Naga University Press, 2017). Her works have been recognized by the Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature.  Her life work has also been honored by UMPIL, the Sunthorn Phu Award by the Kingdom of Thailand, the Ananda Coomaraswamy Fellowship of the Republic of India, and Ani ng Dangal.  She was granted Professor Emeritus upon her retirement from University of the Philippines Tacloban College in 2008.