Cover Photo: Illustration by Kim Salt for Catapult
Illustration by Kim Salt for Catapult

What I Found When I Searched for My Long-Lost Sister

This was not the information I was looking for. This was not the truth I wanted.

I had her year and city of birth: 1976, Cebu City, Philippines.

Mara, meaning bitter,




If you leave me now, you take away the biggest part of me.

Oooh, girl. Baby, please don’t go.


I found nothing. But I also found empathy for my mother.

Cinelle is a formerly undocumented memoirist, essayist & educator from the Philippines, and is the author of MONSOON MANSION: A MEMOIR and MALAYA: ESSAYS ON FREEDOM, and the editor of the New York Times New & Noteworthy book A MEASURE OF BELONGING: 21 WRITERS OF COLOR ON THE NEW AMERICAN SOUTH. She has an MFA from Converse College. Her writing has appeared or been featured in the NYT, Longreads, Electric Literature, Buzzfeed, Literary Hub, Hyphen & CNN Philippines, among others. Her work is anthologized in A MAP IS ONLY ONE STORY. She’s a contributing editor, instructor & writer at Catapult.