The Church Where I Go to After Class

by Tristan Buenaflor

Ang Dasal ng Aking Kapwa (Filipino Version)

ay isang tahimik na lugar, malayo sa ingay ng mga humaharurot na kotse. 
Maraming alala ang namuo sa mga haligi nito, maraming mga dasal ang lumipad; 
mga dalanging nabuo sa init ng aking mga palad.

Dito Sa Mary Immaculate Parish Nature Church, dito nakasama ang mga kaibigan, 
mga pagkakaibigang pinanday ng kaluwalhatian at kamusmusan.
Sa dulo ng aking buhay, kapag tinanong ako ng Diyos kung saan
ang lugar na gustong huling puntahan, ituturo ko ito’ng kabataang simbahan.

January 16, 2012
Si Raymond ang unang nagdala sa akin dito, 
“Shortcut ito para makauwi ka nang mas mabilis
Pagmasdan mo kung paanong ang mga ilaw ay nakapako, 
sa itaas. Hugis-kalapati gawa sa kawayan at capiz.” 
Habang inuubos ang ating mga baon,
tayo’y umupo sa mga indibidwal na kahoy na simple ang dekorasyon.
Sa tapat ng altar ng Diyos, nagpasalamat na tayo’y magkaibigan 
at sana’y manatiling ganito ilang taon man ang magdaan.

December 12, 2014
Dahil walang mga pader sa parokya, 
nanibago si Jonah at Ritch sa itsura. 
“Parang bahay-puno ang simbahan.” 
Ito’y aming naging tambayan.
‘Di nagtagal at si Shamira’t Elyza’y nakasama rin 
sa simbahang malaya ang hangin at bitwin.
Umupo kami’t nagnilay; huling taon ng aming pag-aaral, 
sana maalala kami ng simbahan: ang mga batang lokal.

March 16, 2015
Ito na ang huling kabanata, 
pero simula ng bagong yugto.
Sambitin natin sa tapat ng altar ang ating panata:
“Maghihiwalay man ngayon, ang nagdaang apat na taon ay sagrado.” 
Hinatid ako ni Bren at ng kaniyang tatay nang huling beses pauwi 
Kulang na pamasahe. Bren kailan kaya ako makakabawi?
Kami ni Hazel ay nabalot naman sa isang yakap na mahigpit, 
pagtambay sa simbahan, hindi sigurado kailan mauulit.

Ngayon
Pitong taong nagdaan, tayo ay mga pala’y na tumubo 
sa iba’t ibang mga lupang sensitibo.
Pero ngayon, dito sa maliit na simbahan tayo ay muling nagkita-kita, 
naalala ng Diyos ang ating samahan, ito ang Mabuting Balita.

Sa huli, maging mahirap man ang buhay, magpapasalamat ako sa Diyos: 
dahil sa mga kaibigan, alam ko’ng buhay ay magiging maayos.

The Church Where I Go to After Class

is an intimate place, away from the whistles of cars.
Many memories were birthed in these arches, many prayers took flight; 
devotions that formed in my palms, made from love and bright light.

Here at the Mary Immaculate Nature Church, here I spent time with my friends, 
friendship forged in grace and goodness that did not end.
At the end of my life, when God ask me where I want to visit last 
I will point to this place, the church from my childhood past.

January 16, 2012
It was Raymond who first took me here
“This is a shortcut to your home, straight and clear 
Observe how the lights float in ease,
dove-shaped and made from capiz¹.” 
While we finish our packed lunches,
we sat quietly under the church branches.
In front of the Altar of the Lord, we gave thanks for our friendship 
and prayed that our time together will not eclipse.

December 12, 2014
The parish had no walls; a beauty divine
Jonah and Ritch stood in wonder, awe combined. 
“A tree-house of a space!.”
This became our safe place.
It was not long ‘til Shamira and Elyza came 
here where the air and stars cannot be tamed.
We sat and wondered; our last years in highschool together, 
our names and memories, may this church remember.

March 16, 2015
This is the last chapter, 
but the start of an age.
Let us proclaim our oath in front of the altar altogether: 
“Separated, may we be now, we have bookmarked this page.”
Bren and her father gave me a ride home one last time
Bren, how can I repay you? I’m running out of things that rhyme. 
Hazel and I on the other hand, joined in a tight embrace, 
enjoying the last breeze and bristling from this place.

Now

Seven years have passed, we have become different seeds 
planted in different soils that produced unique deeds.
But now, in this small church, we all meet anew,
God remembered our fellowship: this is the Good News for me and you.

When life’s beating gets hard, I’ll still thank God in all ends; 
“How hard can life be?” as I look at my blessing of friends.

¹ flat, semi-transparent shells with a pearlescent appearance. They are edible but valued more for the shells. Found in the Philippines province of Capiz


Tristan Buenaflor is a Christian writer from the province of Batangas, Philippines. He is a current lecturer at the University of the Philippines Baguio, teaching language and literature. It is also where he graduated in 2019. Alongside teaching, he is also taking up his masters in Malikhaing Pagsulat (Creative Writing) at UP Diliman. He has been a fellow of various national writing workshops in the Philippines, like the prestigious Palihang Rogelio Sicat 15 and the Teaching Philippine Queer Literature Workshop. Outside the academe, he spends his time as the Deputy National Spokesperson of the Christian organization, Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP). In 2018, he was awarded the Ignite Brave Awards by Amnesty International Philippines for his work regarding human rights. He likes writing about the local gay experience, food literature, epic fantasies, and crime fiction. His first two works can be found on Likhaan.com. He also has a small vlog called “Kwentong Santan” (Santan Stories).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s