At the funeral for houses, the remains of them are only stilts charred with soot. The stilts resemble legs of flamingos planted in the water, but the birds on them have flown away. The surviving schoolhouse, its windows shot through, gives a eulogy. It suggests the houses were looted. The store coughs, its doors swinging open and shut. There are bullet holes through its screen and the food has been wiped off its shelves. The munisipyo fiddles nervously with its shutters. Eventually, the houses will be replaced, it says. Eventually, the attendants will return to their evacuation centers. One stilted hut blows its nose on a torn curtain. It leans onto a post, fumbling with its leg, which is on the verge of collapse. Birds perch atop the attendants’ heads, their poles, their wires. They knew the houses from their annual visits. They do not sing. We could learn a thing or two from birds: their ache to nest, their capacity for migration, and then for return. There is so much house inside of them; they can build anywhere, with anything. Birds need not hold funerals; they are always moving. Houses are planted firmly where they are, but birds can escape a siege. At the wake, the mosque sits in the corner. It has not hummed anything since the incident. A chick is tied to each coffin, pecking at the seeds on the glass.
Regine Cabato currently works as a journalist in Manila. She graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University in 2016 with a degree in Communication and a minor in Creative Writing. Her poetry has been published in Kritika Kultura, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, and Cha Literary Journal. She hails from Zamboanga City.