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Golan Canuzo

Perhaps it’s the feelings that keep me from letting you go. You became a part of me even though we don’t know each other at all. We never spoke, regardless, I was enraptured. Perhaps I’m too attached to these emotions that kept growing each time we crossed each other’s path in the hallway. Our eyes would meet; we never exchanged smiles yet you had me hoping for the things that might be. Perhaps I am too afraid to let you know of this thing I have for you. I’m never good with rejection. You were never the affable kind yet I am crazy about you. You’re everything I ever wanted but fate had different plans for us — you went on but I refused destiny so I am left stuck. I refused to let go. And I refused to fall genuinely in love with other people. Yes, I was, and still (and probably forever will be) in love… …with you. It’s really funny because after all this time, 3 years 5 months 22 days, I’m still into you. And oh, happy birthday.

xxx


Zy Samar

People will tell that you cannot achieve what your heart desires and some will tell you that you are weak and it will make you cry. They will try to blow away and extinguish the light of the fire that shines perpetually and makes you to glow from the inside. The world where you strive to belong to can be so harsh not caring of what you might feel when it says you’re trash; Deceitful when it says you will never, ever be enough and that all your edges are terribly jagged and rough. But let me tell you something, my dear young dreamer— Never let the world conquer you. Instead, be the conqueror. The battles you’ll face along the journey shall make you braver and losing some of them will help you learn, making you wiser. You are young and full of running and your soul’s restless and realizing those dreams might be difficult. Nevertheless, chase after them. Turn your dreams into reality. Own them. Young one, you are one of the treasures of the world—a gem.

xxx


AJ Mungcal

“How was your day Matt?” Dorothea asked her son of thirteen years when she opened the door, then smiled and hugged Matt at the sight of him. Her son’s uniform is a bit crumpled and she waved crumbs of biscuits off his gray polo. “Mom it was fine. See, I have no bruises?” Matt threw his bag in their brown leather sofa and ambled through his sky blue-painted room. Dorothea has been too cautious of her son’s journey due to the trauma that happened to her husband. “Oh good, good little Matt. It’s nice to see you improving a lot at school.” Dorothea called after him as he closed the door behind. Dorothea continued washing their dishes. Her husband, Rod, said he will be back by noon to buy Matt his favorite Transformers Prime 16 inch Action Figure. “Please be back by three so we can talk of the recipes we’ll cook by Tuesday, okay hon?” “That I will. Bye Dory.” Her husband smiled and waved her goodbye as he sat at his van. It was midnight and she settled on the master’s bed relentlessly, uncomfortable to sleep without her husband. She could only hope there’ll be no nightmare that could lurk her at her sleep. When she woke up, it was nearly afternoon. It was weekend and she found Matt watching Danny Phantom. A blast of cold afternoon air struck her face when the news flashed that a man near Macarthur Highway crashed in a streetlight and was dead by the time they got him in the nearest hospital. Dorothea remembered the exact plate number of her husband’s blue Starex van. But now it was a chaos causing traffic along the road that was her husband’s death place. She wiped the tears flowing down her face. When Matt learned of the news, he didn’t ate for several nights and cried every time he see his mother’s Transformer gift. Dorothea drowned herself with the tub but was found by her father and they brought her to hospital. Instead of a happy birthday, it turned to be a grief they couldn’t handle that Dorothea felt the world was on her shoulders.


By evening, she had a fleeting glimpse of the clear and cool night sky filled with constellations she knew. It all seemed a distant memory to her, but deep inside she know she could carry the burden alone because hope is always at her side. She even remembered lessons from her Philosophy class quoting from the Yin and Yang philosophy that “your source of pain will be your source of joy and your source of joy will be your source of pain.” Somehow, she didn’t feel hopeless whenever she see Matt as her husband’s living legacy that she has to care and nurture.

xxx


Eddrian Rucio

When you were on the meadow, you were seizing the zesty air when you flinched from being laid down on green pastures. You were drowning now on air as you found yourself grasping for it when you get up from a short nap. And if this happens continually, you can be delusional and your horror would come clouding your head again. You were enthralled by the pacifying sound of the waves that imbibes you for a little booze in its navel. You wanted to break free, that’s why you walked down the trail where the waves are directing you in spite of your inability to swim. Until you submerge and felt like you were already fighting for your last breath. The waves are deceitful. The sea come thrusting its waves until they clone themselves and come crashing your world. They move in a fast pace, with each of them in succession for them to veer you away from recognizing which kind of wave have pulled you in and those who threw you adjacent to the seashore for help. Not all the crashes in your life are there to pull you down just for you to learn to get up. Some will just spit an indelible musing on your face that you can never be erected without succumbing to them. It is until when you can found yourself, soaked with tears — a sponge willing to absorb something to sweat out, some body which is exhausted and floating somewhere in the world.

xxx


By Miguel Lazarte

I’d hold your hand and walk on glass. Below us are stars, above us are stars, and everywhere we look there will be stars. But not everywhere, because there’s you and me. There’s the you, the me, and the stars. Walking along the ground, the glass almost never shines and clearly almost transparent. As if we’re floating across the abyss. Maybe if we jump, we can defy gravity, maybe we can cross dimensions and other heavenly bodies. You grip my hand a bit and I look at your perfect everything, you opened your sweet lips and speak, “Why are we here?” Of course you didn’t ask where were we; I bet you always knew. ”I’ll take you anywhere just for you to believe that something this impossible and surreal exists.” What I did not have the courage to say was that—This is the galaxy, this was my galaxy. Before I had nothing but looking at those stars, far away, there were just the beautiful things I knew I cannot reach. But now look, I’m holding onto you. We’ll fly to the moon first. We leave our feet off the ground and just stare, stare, and stare at the universe. Our body becomes light and things work; just moving us around to where we are headed. The moon slowly gets bigger, bigger, and bigger until our feet greets with gravity again. The moon’s terrain is like the beach, sandy but mostly nothing, no wind blowing, and no water. No signs of life, literally and figuratively. “Let’s go back.” You said to me, with a worried face. I said, “It’s going to be okay. We can leave anytime to anywhere.” What I did not have the courage to say was that—this is the moon, empty, this was me before I held onto you and believed in you. Believed in us. There was just me before, alone and had always been. "Come on" I just said instead. We lift off from the moon, and the Earth just lay there like a floating circle of blue and green stillness. "We’re going back." You said "Okay." And I just smiled. It was my last smile. The lightness of my body begins, and we came close until the Earth just came closer, closer, and real. "Where are we landing?" You say. I say and point. "Over there." On a mount, on a meadow, during sunset. It is beautiful, became perfect with you. I check and I find my hand still like a finished jigsaw puzzle into yours. I ready my feet on the landing.


Maybe we’ll lay there, face to face, say sweet things to each other. Yes, perfect, across that floral meadow, lush and green. But it didn’t happen. As soon as my feet touched the ground, my palm got cooler. And you weren’t holding my hand, you’re not even there anymore. I was surprised, and hurt at the same time. What I did not have the voice to say was that—This is the real world. There is no you, holding my hand. It’s just me, clinging on onto something unreal, onto a fantasy ever to come true. I blink.

xxx


Karen Candelario

You need to learn how to love and love all the seasons especially when spring turns into autumn and when autumn turns into winter and when winter turns into spring; you need to learn how to love and love unmade, cold, and creased quilts, blankets, pillow cases, and duvets; you need to learn how to love and love cats no matter how they would sleep on your desk and on your bed and on the kitchen counter and the dining table, and you need to learn how to perfectly scratch their bellies and the back of their ears while you write and when you read and make changes with your poems; you need to learn how to love and love sunrises and sunsets, watch them over and over again no matter how it makes you wake up early from your late night whimsical writing and no matter how it makes you stay out of the house until night falls; you need to learn how to love and love coffee and tea, either it has cream or milk, with or without sugar, instant or brewed, and you need to learn how to love and love coffee and tea in impossibly tall hand painted mugs and drink coffee and tea anytime of the day or anytime of the night; you need to learn how to love and love plaid shirts, baggy shirts, baggy sweaters, and bottoms that are not skinny or too tight; you need to wear eyeglasses even if you have perfectly clear vision, pick up ungraded eyeglasses by the thrift store or anywhere else, and then wear them everyday and every night, and bite the ends of the frame when you can’t find the perfect word for that almost perfect line in your almost perfect poem; you need to learn how to love and love watching people from afar, maybe from a bench in park or in a shopping mall, and remember how they talk and how their hands flick here and there, how they tilt their heads when they laugh and when they think and when they listen and their different smiles for their different emotions and how they arch their back when they walk; you need to learn how to love and love having a drink from time to time, maybe with strangers down your local pub, or maybe with a few friends over, and you must learn how to love and love the way it hits your lips and your tongue and the back of your throat and your chest; you must learn how to love and love rain and the sun and the clouds and the wind and the seas and the sound of the waves lapping on the shore and the sound of the birds chirping and singing and the sound of children’s laughter and couples’ bickering and the sound of clandestine whispers; you need to learn how to love and love… forget about all these things. If you want to be a poet, you need to learn how to build things and break things and build them again, you need to learn how to break people and build then again and break them again and build them again; you need to learn how to take a good grasp at things and then let things go when needed;


you need to learn how to connect with your inner self and your emotions and your feelings and letting those destroy you at the right moments and then build yourself again as a whole; you need to write without attempting to impress others, you need to learn how to write for yourself and for others — it’s what being a poet is all about.

xxx


Jamille Canano

1. First, you must always be reminded that he’s not going to come back. That his eyes are no longer the colour of bright autumn leaves, and that he have already asked the birds to stop singing for you. Allow the cold, sharp wind to carve his empty promises to your skin, and for lonely nights to scribble out every memory of him. Your scars shall be the souvenir of how he almost killed you with his goodbyes. Never forget about that. 2. Then, you must learn how to detach yourself from the sky that you love the most, for it is where his face were etched and that up to the clouds was where he once brought you to. Keep your head down as you hopelessly crawl in the pavements, for you wouldn’t bear even the fingertips of the sun; the precise representation of the warmth of his embrace. 3. You must also learn how to accept that just like the scattered stars in the nocturnal celeste , you, the moon, could never be able to cradle every floating glitter. You couldn’t even attempt to move any closer for the risk of collision, of total destruction. Instead, all you could do is to watch as he plummets along the stars that are as bright as he is. 4. From time to time, you’re going to hear his voice coming from an unknown direction, and you’re going to seek for it. You’re going to believe that he really is there, that he had just came back for you, and that he still loves you and will always will. But you must never trust your hallucinations. You must never listen to the echo of yesterday as it tries to lead you to a steep cliff where your death awaits. 5. Lastly, you must know how to collect the pieces of your heart that’s hidden under your pillow, so soaked with your tears. You must rise from where you have buried yourself and to finally abandon your visions of love when you still haven’t tasted it. You must equip yourself with a pen and to use your blood as the story of how you got your heart broken being inked, then how somebody else noticed the trampled rose in the ground, and nursed it—How you’ve been rebirth, how you found another set of eyes that has the colour of bright autumn leaves and one that would ask the birds to sing for you.—one that made you actually forget of your first love. Or at least, as what you assume. xxx


Belle Belgar

Lininang Nilinlang Nag-alangan Inalagaan Kinampay Sumuway Kumaway Sinampay Isinulat Tinugmaan Ngunit salat Sa kahulugan Walang bisa Walang silbi May taludtod nga Wala namang sinabi Para saan pa Mga sulati’t likhain Ni katuturan nga ‘Di maihain 'Di na rin iba sa mga letra na binuhol basta at itinapon sa kalsada xxx


Patricia Laygo

As the wind blows, the leaves started to dance with them. Whether it is green or brown, it started to dance with the wind. It made me smile and appreciate little things. Maybe the leaves is dancing because they want to make us happy with little things. I stepped 125 heading north and saw a sea. I ask myself, what are white sands for? Maybe it is an asset of the sea that makes it more comely. I walk and walk and walk. Then I saw a rock. I ask myself again, what are rocks for? Are they made for hurting people? But let’s go to the positive side of it. Maybe rocks are made for us to think positive ideas. I walk and walk and walk again. Every single thing I see, I describe them and pick out the positives in them. I walk and walk and walk again. I saw a crumpled paper along the way. “Sorry mom. I’m really sorry. I just don’t want to see you being hurt because of me. I’m sorry mom. That’s all I ever wanted to say to you from the very start. I’m so sorry.” It said “For all the people who fuck my life. I hope you are all happy now. Now that I lose.” It said. So in the end he just die. Die because of people. Die because he can’t do it anymore. If only he knew that the world is rotating for the dancing leaves, whether it is green, brown, yellow, or blue if there’s one. It is for the chirping birds, for the applausing waves, for the beauty of rocks, and every single thing that you see. If he only knew that all of that exist because of us. If he only knew that it exist to bring us joy. For us to appreciate little things. If he only knows what’s the difference of fishes and squids or the difference between mitosis and meiosis or the difference between your and you’re. This things is completely non-sense in his situation now but this things will gather his mind upon other things. If only he saw the rock I saw awhile, or the dancing leaves, or the white sand. Make up your mind. Little things aren’t made for nothing. Sometimes this little things is our big happiness.

xxx


Cyd Munsayac

noong una’y papiso-piso nang maglaon ay ‘sang kaban ng piso kayo ba talaga’y di na nakuntento? pati ang pagkain namin ay kinuha na ninyo? Hindi naman masama kung kami ay kumuha ng kakaunting barya sa itinurung naming bulsa isang kamay ay nasa mesa ang isa ay nasa ilalim at nagku-kwenta upang magpasa ng mga pera sa iba pang mga ganid na kasama. Ito’y isang negosyo at ako’y may mga kasosyo ituring mo na lang na pondo ang mga pisong kinukuha ko nakahiga sa kama na puno ng salapi habang kami ay nahihibing sa tabi-tabi kumakain kayo ng sobrang dami habang kami ay wala kahit kaunti hindi namin kasalanan, basta’t kami’y may higaan ‘di bale na’t papangakuan ulit sa susunod na halalan kailan nyo ba titigilan ang pagdukot sa kaban dugo’t pawis aming nilalaan ngunit kayo’y walang pakundanagan. habang kami’y nakaupo ang istratehiya’y ‘di magbabago hanggang sa kami’y makuntento pikit mata at walang sinasanto.

xxx


Sheobi Ramos

You are the sweetest lie who burned me I was scorched to my very core but in those moments I didn’t dare leave even though I could just walk out the door I can’t give up your kisses your tongue dances furtively with mine you make love as if we’re timeless your hands and mine—entwined but woe to me, a victim I was just another number to you you left me when I was sleeping (what a traitor) just as I thought my dreams are coming true

xxx


Jake Habitan

We are not the norms, We are the deviants, And yes, we are Well discriminated. Kami pong hindi sumusunod Sa dikta ng lipunan. Kami pong hindi, Umaayon sa kagustuhan Ng iilan. How many catalogues have they erected on top of our rotting bodies buried in unholy grounds: nanay, tatay, ate, kuya. girl, boy, bakla, tomboy, butiki baboy. aeta, baluga, badjao, indio, negro, intsik, puti, itim, pula, asul, siraulong tao. hindi naman tayo mga perperkto. Defects. They call us defects. The crippled. The sinful. The less fit. The deviants. Ano po ba ang kasalanan ko, kung hindi ako marunong mag


Ingles, at maitim ako, at maliit, at sa mata mo’y mangmang. Don’t call me an indio, for I have a nation of my own, with our own liberty, our sovereignty. Kalayaan? Nasaan ang kalayaan? Nagtatago po ata sa kamay Ng iilang naghahari-harian. Don’t judge me. Huwag mo akong husgahan. Sa kung ano ang kulay ko, O ang sinasalita ko, O ang iniibig ko, O ang mundo Ko. "Ano ba ang epekto, kung meron kang depekto… Wala namang perpektong tao,” Sabi ni Dong Abay. Now, my child, burn the wooden stakes for the heart might not be healed but at least, there is nothing more that fornicates the equality among the people. Mahalin mo ang iyong kapwa. Love thy brothers, Love thy sisters. For who they are. Tayo ang mga baliw Ang mga binaliw ng lipunan! We are the deviants of the society, They fear us! They hated us! Ilan na nga ba ang mga katagang Nilikha upang paghiwalayin


Ang tao mula sa hayop, Ang tao sa kapwa tao, Ang kapwa sa kapwa. We create labels, And some are left On the tip of our tongues, Like how we try to remember Who we are, and who we have become. Mayroon pa kayang pagkakapantay pantay sa mundong tinitingnan ang mga pangalan, mga kataga, ang mga tawag sa kung ano.

Something does not exist, Unless it is named, owned And believed to have existed. Don’t treat us like shits. Huwag mo kaming durakan. May problema man ako sa pag-iisip, Mayroon man akong sariling mundo, Hindi man ako kabilang sa dikta ng lipuan Tao pa rin ako. Mental defects. Physical defects. Kayo ang mga siraulo, Kayo na hindi makaintindi, Kayo na hindi makatao. We don’t deserve to be defects in the first place. Don’t create labels, we don’t need one. So what if I have mental difficulties, Ano naman kung lesbo siya, So what if I am fat, Ano naman kung maitin siya, So what if I am straight, Ano naman kung hindi na siya virgin, So what if I don’t eat vegetables,


Ano naman kung Muslim siya. So what, Ano naman. We created a world full of words, And we wanted everything to be labelled. Nabubuhay tayo sa mundong mapanghusga, Pinipilit nating bigyan lahat ng pansariling halaga.

xxx


Lorraine Sajorda

There were days before in which I would rather lie down on my comfy wrinkled bed than get up and watch dawn appear with blinding streaks of sunlight from the whimsical horizon. And frankly speaking, it isn't because of laziness to go to school; it was this pure hollowness that carved holes inside of my chest—making my breaths short and countable. I would usually find myself washing off the morning nostalgia with cold morning water. I would dab it onto my face and wait till dewdrops form. And I would usually think of how flowers look pleasant during mornings. The dewdrops that dance on their petals are as captivating as before despite the constant changes in the environment that have occurred. And then I would try to pour my thoughts into papers but I would not be able to come up with a reason to call myself a flower waiting to blossom—that would be underestimating their genuine beauty, of course. Frankly speaking, mornings make me feel the gaps inside of me more. There are unfathomably deep scars that lie inside and out, and I do not know exactly how you disregard things that are etched deep within of you. I find no absolutely reason to breathe, to wake up, to smell hot chocolate, to eat ice cream, to write about the stars, and to open my eyes. The whole universe is an ending waiting to be unraveled by curious people—not knowing, of course, that they are up to nothing but trouble and false hopes; it is an ending disguised as a beginning. But then I guess that sadness is only a fraction--a mere one--of the things that come with existing in this complex yet iridescent life. The clock ticks and I am no longer tangled in the same mistakes that I have continuously before. We commit mistakes for the betterment of our knowledge and for us to learn, right? Therefore, we must not lean on them. They are not walls; they are bridges. Mistakes are bridges that lead us to a better and much more lustrous sanctuary. Perhaps your past mistakes have led you to a place where the stars are always faint, or perhaps they have led you to a place where the moon does not follow you anymore. But if we keep on trying to get up after each mistake we make, we would be able to reach a place where the stars are most abundant—where they would not leave you or make you feel alone. If only we know how to seek for hope, we would definitely find it. The heavy sighs that have escaped your dry mouth shall turn into laughs that echo endlessly on empty arid streets. The sun shall kiss you, and I hope that when that day comes, you shall appreciate its effort to make you feel loved. Your tongue may have rolled over a lot of times from the lies you have heard from people, but a day will come wherein you need not to worry when it comes to trusting; you would learn to have faith in humanity again. And your lungs may be dry right now from the second-hand smoke that blankets it every day, but a day will come when it’ll smell like vanilla.


It is never too late to escape the terrible past that we have been through. And I hope that you get to your haven and never give up—this is for life is a series of events that stitch our entities till we bleed no more. And, I promise you, there is always a way to start anew. Release your anchors and sail across the deep blue pacific. And this time around, the sky shall be a canvas painted carefully and the sun shall be the flame that ignites you from within. Vanquish your worries and let the lanterns above caress your wet cheeks. "It is never too late or too soon. It is when it is supposed to be." – Mitch Albom, The Time Keeper

xxx


Wilson Esguerra

It will take me more or less eight hours before I can see pine trees and feel the cold breeze from the mountain, a city with a so called centralized air conditioning by nature and a wonderful fresh air that will tickles everyone’s lungs. It was the place I once dreamed to live for the rest of my life; ten years ago I was in a rest house in Camp John Hay for our vacation with my relatives. I dreamed to have a house beside a breathtaking view with a wonderful fireplace, a small coffee shop of my own not so far in my place where I can serve the best coffee and breakfast in town, and living with someone who will treat like his only one. I also put on my list to have a pet dog; the one who will be our son. It was like a perfect love story, architected smoothly where sadness will never be a part of it. After a long trip where my ass was smoking like a frying pan, I finally saw the place again, the same place I saw when I was twelve years old. I had an instant flashback in my head like a computer process, the swing I sat the first time I arrived, the tree where I saw him practicing archery, and their house that looks exactly the same. The only thing that was missing was him, I walked around and looked for him, expecting to see him and might recognize me after ten years. He was the only reason I came back, we promised to each other that someday, in time, we will see each other again and it will be like the old times, like the first time we met. I looked everywhere but I didn’t see him, not even a shadow or a clue. I went to the house I rented, prepare some foods and took some time to medicate myself in the form of sleeping. It was a bit lonely because I travelled alone, I ate alone and I slept alone but I already knew this drama will come, I decided this kind of soul searching to help myself to recover from unbearable sadness and besides I know that I need some time to be alone. I woke up and felt so helpless; my body was aching in a different form so I walked to the kitchen and prepare coffee for myself. I walked to the park with my coffee, it was four o’clock in the morning, and the sky was still dark. I sat in the swing while enjoying my coffee, I felt a little scared because of the huge trees around me but then I remembered it was the exact time that I met him, same place and same situation. I looked around, wondering if he will do the same thing he did when we first met but no one appeared. I put my earplugs on and listen to my E-Heads playlist. I was in the midst of my own concert inside my head when someone tapped me at the back. I freak out and fell down from the swing, dropped my coffee and my ipod. I looked at my back and saw a tall guy. He was in his pajamas and wearing a jacket. His hair was a little messy, like he just woke up. I was trying to figure out who he was but I was still in the state of shocked. He apologized for freaking me out and told me that it was not his intention but I wasn’t listening, I am just looking at his face, I was deciphering each detail and then I realized it was him, the little


boy I met ten years ago, the boy who I fell in love for the first time, the reason I came back. I can’t even speak or say anything, he looks a little different or a little matured but something still remain as him. His eyes were still blue and he still has an incredible smile. His body changed a lot, not the chubby little boy anymore. He was more masculine now, like a body builder or a gym trainer. I am really glad that I saw him, like a mission accomplished glad. I want to hug him that time, tell him that I am the little boy who gave him a book ten years ago, the one he taught how to use bow and arrow ten years ago, the one he brought to his room to show his Snoppy collection ten years ago, and the one who fell in love with him ten years ago where he promised to come back for him. Sadly, I didn’t tell him anything. I just pulled myself up with the help of his hand and told him that it was okay. I sat again to the swing and he sat to the other swing beside me. We talked like new people, like I didn’t know him. We start to catch up like new friends, from the scratch to the top. He may not remember me or he might but what we had that morning was like the same thing I felt for the first time we met. It’s more meaningful to me and I still enjoyed that moment. I walked to the house I rented and I grabbed the book I planned to give him if I ever we saw each other. I turn it to the first page and wrote something: John, Thank you for your time, I am glad that I saw you (again) Take care and be well. P.S. (I miss that archery lesson you taught me) Wilson, I went to his house before I left the town. It was him who opened the door, he invited me to come inside but I said no and just gave him the book and went the taxi in front of his house. I saw him in the rearview mirror when he opened that book. He smiled and waved goodbye.

xxx


Dayn Hinkle

He was a monster hiding in the dark, and when light flickers upon the window steel bars of his room, he will hide in the shadows of his wardrobe. From there, his vengeful screams and hideous cries are heard, that as if agony is the only thing that makes him fully alive. He has been like that since then, for no one can truly change him. He always pushes people away for he knows that no one really wants to stay. So he told himself that he will just keep on pushing everybody away from his life, and just pretend that he does not care. It continued to be like that until one day: she went into his room unbelievably, and every night she would lull him stories of fiction before he fall asleep. On the first week, she told him about the story of Pinocchio whose nose grows long every time he utters a lie. She told him that he is just like Pinnochio, and he cannot live in denials and lies forever, for even when he makes it so, he will not be less than sad. He then started removing the fake worn accessories from his body—from the too long sleeves sweater, to the bunny beanie, up to the periwig. He is suffering from leukemia. On the second week, she told him about the story of the ugly duckling that became a swan and in the end, had the ability to flap its wings in the river, like a queen. She told him that everyone will have to go through a cycle, just like an ugly duckling, and in time, each and every one of us will be able to flap our wings and transform into a beautiful swan. He was astonished, and at the same time relieved, so he started putting out the make-ups that were ruining the beauty that is naturally given to him. His mole, the prettiest beauty mark he’d ever owned, reigned and glowed even when in dark. On the third week, she told him the about story of the beast who transformed right into a lovely, young prince after being accepted by a maiden whose heart is gold and pure. She told that people were once beasts that are in need to patiently wait for their equivalent and perfect, freespirit maidens who will accept them as who they are and who will love them despite the ugliness of the outside. So his knees stopped trembling as his heart did, and his knees stopped shaking, his tears stopped from falling—and in spite of the darkness, he looked at the woman and hugged her. Eventually, he started lightening up his dark, dismal room: from the replacement of the old broken bulbs to new ones, from removing the murky-colored curtains and changed them into pastel ones, up to opening the chandelier and revamping his old room to a new one. When all’s finished, he held a mirror and tried looking at himself. He wasn’t used to it, but when he saw his face, he realized something he should’ve realized a long time ago: he is beautiful.


Then the brightest bulb was lightened, for it was the light of his heart—a genuine, loving heart of a girl trapped in a man’s body. "Thank you, Mom." He uttered, as he embrace the most magnificent, ever-elusive, one-ofa-kind and the kindest woman in his whole world. In the end, the boy became the lovely prince from the story of the beast, and the dainty maiden was no other than his mom.

xxx


Shim Daisuke

I fell in love with her, sailing on a boat with wings. The clouds never looked so romantic on a lavender sky. Her smile melted me inside out. My heart pounded on the thought of kissing her. Something held me back from trying it though. So I just leaned back and continued paddling, wishing that she gives a hint. I couldn’t help admiring her while I stared into her eyes as she gazed on the stars. She looked absolutely innocent like the type of girl I’d be willing to do everything for. But then there was the thought of her having someone else she cares for, someone to share a home, cook food and eat together with. I was breaking my own heart in the midst of daydreaming, thinking it’s impossible for me to have such a person in my life. Fifteen minutes later, she stood up, placed some money on the table and left. Maybe if I had talked to her we’d still be sailing on the clouds instead of trying to catch glimpses in a small French cafe, listening to French music and nibbling French bread. She left leaving me with a broken heart without really having done anything. I blamed myself for falling so easily with strangers. It’s partly their fault too for having such beautiful faces. Maybe one day, Lady Luck and Stupid Cupid would be kind enough to give me a winning chance.

xxx


Jason Cano

To you, my dearest one: Sorry for disregarding you tonight. I wrapped myself in sheets last night (if you see this in the morning) and played deaf, so I wasn’t able to hear you knock on my door, or call my name. Perhaps you thought I just had a bad day, that’s why you didn’t use the key to barge in my room and confront me for being so disrespectful. I thank you for understanding, you were right. I told myself once, “Not another judgement of all those prying eyes and bluffing mouths could hurt you ever again. When you are thrown the words another person couldn’t bear, your heart shall be rubber and their words shall be the debris—bouncing off, unable to penetrate your heart and break it to abstract pieces.” But, I guess, I was wrong at underestimating words. You see, even my own words betrayed me. They made me believe my heart was strong enough to endure all the pain I’m ought to feel. Well, sure it did. But I never knew they’d be temporary, just as how painkillers are never permanent. It had never come to my thinking that no matter how immune I become, my system will still break down; that pain shall still prevail. Now, this has happened. All those hurtful remarks—the intentional and the not; those fabricated tittle-tattles and unbelievable betrayals. All of them tortured my soul, slowly and painfully. And when they multiplied, everything got worse. The radiance of my anatomy diminished in the air, got replaced by drought out of all the shame and self-disgust. The fact that I can never meet society’s standards slapped me, vehemently, even as my cheeks started to swell and bleed. My attempts to smile and once again endure became impossibly excruciating. Blood was then sweat, death was then medicine. And I had taken the medicine. Again, I’m sorry. Love, J. xxx


Tuyo Nang Damdamin Kai Garcia

. . . iyong inulit, ika’y nangahas at hindi na itinuwid ang kamalian. Ako ay muling tinakasan. Patuloy na nagmasid, ngunit sa pagkakataong ito akin ng nabatid. Sindi ay hihipan, mangingibabaw ang kadiliman, mawala ka na sana ng tuluyan. Hindi ko lubos maisip na ang dalawang taon at mahigit nating pagsasama ay nauwi lang sa kalungkutan dulot ng iyong paglisan. Hindi ko mababago ang mga nangyari, hindi ko mababawi ang mga nasabi, at hindi ko maisasantabi ang mga kataksilan na iyong inilihim. Ika-6 ng buwan, aking natunghayan na ang pag-ibig na aking inalagaan ay sa ibang kamay na nakahimlay. Tatlong linggo at dalawang araw na ang nakakaraan noong ipinahiwatig mo ang pagtatapos ng kabanata. Isang oras at dalawampu’t limang minuto ko na ring ginugunita ang bawat kataga na iyong tinuran noong ating huling pagkikita. Titig mong namimintas. Mga hakbang na paatras. Gabi-gabing sinisiil ng iyong mga halik. Dali-dali mo akong ikinakabig sa iyong mga bisig. Ngunit ngayon ang ihip ng tadhana’y biglang nagbago. Ika’y di na umuwi at sumakabilang-ibayo. Naghintay, sumamo. Nagalit, nagpatianod sa panibugho. At sa ating muling pagkikita bakit naging ganito, ikaw pa ang nagalit, ikaw pa ang lumayo. Hindi ka man lamang pumalag nang ika’y aking tanungin. Tatahimik na lamang ba upang gulo ay iwasan o sadyang alam mo sa sarili mo na ikaw ang may kasalanan. Natuyo na ang aking damdamin Na noo’y umaapaw sa kaluwalhatian Bunga ng iyong pagputol sa ating ugnayan Di ko rin naman alam ang pinagmulan Natuyo na ang aking damdamin Wala na ni isang butil ng pagmamahal ang ikinikimkim Aking kalungkutan ay lilipulin Durog na puso’y hihilumin

xxx


Allysa Federio The vehicle is freezing. A movie entitled “One More Chance” is playing on the television placed at the upper right side of the driver’s seat. It’s already 7:45 in the evening. I was seated at the last row and as I was waiting, I cannot stop myself from peeking outside my window sill as if I’m expecting someone to run through the rains just to say good bye to me. But, I’m not sure if he’ll come and see me one last time or I’ll just cry my tears for the next 9 hours in this seat. Flash back. “Here’s a box. Keep it; return it, your choice. But, whatever your decision is, there’ll be someone affected.” Those are the words I told him one Friday morning. We are of the same class, but, we don’t engage in a conversation often. So, I didn’t saw his reaction after I gave him the box. Days, weeks, months had passed by. He still didn’t give it to me. I grew hopeless after each day. I don’t know what to do anymore. Third year life reached its final day and no box has been turned in to me. I ended the year with tears. I released my sorrow to a single paper. I saturated my words with metaphors in superlative form and did this while tears are flowing behind my eyes. I spent my summer writing poems and stories in which I altered my bitter reality with the cliché, ‘happily ever after’ endings. I became fine. Fine enough to smile in front of other people to hide the fact that I’m weak. Time rotated rapidly, it’s already fourth year. I’m praying to God that I’m not in a class with him. I want to forget. I entered the campus. I’m already in my senior year and well, I smiled my way through the rummaging people blabbing about how pleasant their summer was. I found my friends at our favorite meeting place, canteen. As usual, they were laughing hysterically at peculiar jokes. I joined them. “Hey Alora, your eye bags are getting larger! Ha ha ha.” Mae told me insolently. I stared at her. They glared at me. I looked away. Put on my earphones and ignored the world. I know there are curious why I am like this but I’m not ready to speak up. We fought our laziness to stand up and march our way through the faculty office to check the sectioning. I smiled. I’m still with these people. “Another year of cheating arrangement!” Kian blurted out aloud. “Another year of having me teased as gay.” Lance said sadly. “Oh Geez! Another year of being our class representative for pageants.” Jay said with a sigh. “Why am I trapped with these two brainiacs again?” I snorted. “As if I want to be in the same class as you are!” Mae responded. “Yes, friend. It’s not being ‘another year of happiness’, it’s our last year guys.” Leanne told us with tearyeyes. “Oh. We’ll make this year “our” year guys!” I told them and, the group hugged. I am happy. We all headed to our room. We are so crossing our fingers that we are located in the main building but unluckily, we are thrown into the third floor’s premises. So, here we are. Blink. Blink. Stare. Glare.


Look away. Oh God! Why am I still mates with this guy? Okay. Breathe; don’t let him spoil your first day. You worked so hard to forget this guy. Don’t let the sight of him distract you for one minute. I looked on my side and noticed that my friends are already seated. I entered the classroom, it was pleasant. White walls with a bulletin board on the center, 30 chairs and a floor mat for we are barefooted when we enter our room. I am thinking carefully where I shall seat. Think, think, thi“Ms. Gonzales, please take your seat beside Mr. Viniel.” My homeroom teacher strictly told me. I was about to protest when she threw me a death glare. I’m so not going to enjoy this year! “Hi. You still mad at me about the box?” Rain said in a whisper. I replied no and after that “conversation”, silence conquered. I want to burst into tears. But, I forced them not to flow. After our first day, we exchanged cell numbers and often texts each other if we have prepaid load. I told him my problems in school and everything, he became my living diary. It’s because I trust him and he can’t blurt out my secrets, can he? I began to forget what he did to me and a tiny gleam of hope appeared in front of me. Maybe, it’s still possible. We grew closer to each other since we are seatmates and text mates. I am again, comfortable with him. Every night, I pray to God that one day, everything will return the way it used to be. But, every day, I woke up knowing that my prayers are still left unanswered. Well, on the other hand, my friends are still updated with my life. Kian, Lance, Jay, Mae and Leanne have always supported me when it comes to him. But, even if they are good at giving me advices, Kian still can’t admit his feelings to Mae and Jay to Leanne. Lance is paired with someone else already and he is happy the way things are in his life now. Mae and Kian loves each other and so are Jay and Leanne. But, those guys are always considering their friendship first before making a move on them. Three years of laughter and tears will be wasted with one move and that’s what I admire with those guys. I was fine. We are now best buds, we exchanged gifts last Christmas but no commitment is involve. We are friends. Again, we are really good friends. January came, I have to tell him. I want to know his reaction. I’m going to tell him through text. I cannot tell him personally. I don’t want to see his expression personally. I don’t want to expect too much. I’m going to tell all of them what will be my future after graduation. The thing I kept from them. I kept on lying to them that I’ll attend the known university in our place. But, I shall tell them after I tell Rain. “Hi Rain” I started. “Hello Alora, is there a problem?” he replied so fast. “Hm. You remember when you’re asking me if where am I going to get my bachelor degree and I always told you that it’s here in our place. Well, I lied. After graduation, I’ll depart this place and never return for good.” I told him straightforwardly. “You serious?” He replied. “Yes. Yes, I am.” I answered He didn’t dare to reply. I waited for his text and next day, he ignored me. I asked him if he was okay. He answered yes but I can tell that he’s not. Seniors prom came. I am wearing my ‘poker face’. It’s been weeks since I told my friends and him. My friends were sad but happy at the same time. They were all having fun while I sat here alone, well, until he asked for my hand and I smiled and nodded. Before I stood, he gave me a box that is so familiar to my sight. “Wh-why? A-are you sure? L-like 100% sure?” I voiced my thoughts rapidly like Lil’ Wayne. He nodded. We danced and my tears are flowing continuously, but this time, it’s not for grief. It’s for


happiness. I blushed all the way home. But, my thoughts fragmented into small pieces. I was bemused. I am now confused with my decision. The thing with that box and with Rain is. He and I were together when I was in first year. I ended it because of my stupidity, because of my selflessness. That’s why I don’t want to be classmates with him. I am ashamed to show my face to him. After what I’ve done, do I still have the guts to let him take a glimpse of me? I felt so ashamed. But, fate is playful. We are classmates for three years. Freshmen, Junior and Senior years. When we were on third year, we’re fine. We blurted out all the secrets we kept for the past two years. We both cried and I assuaged him with a box. That box contains all the souvenirs I got from him, all the unsent letters I wrote, all my sentiments which I transformed into words. I thought, he’ll give it back to me sooner. I told him, if we can still patch things up, return the box. If not, throw it or keep it, I don’t care. I was hoping he’d return it but he didn’t. Senior year, I didn’t think in my wildest dream that we’ll be this close again and he’ll return to me that box one month before graduation. I’m confused. I don’t know what to do. I cried myself to sleep. I was too tired and depress to think of solutions. I slept hoping that when I woke up, the answers are in front of me. Days passed and I’m still bewildered and cannot finalize my decisions. Time’s ticking away. Everyone around me including Kian, Mae, Leanne, Jay and Lance are already happy. Kian and Mae are already together while Leanne and Jay are on the process. I am happy for them but I cannot let it occupy my thoughts. What am I going to do? Graduation came. I was seated beside Rain since you know, he did return to me the box. He didn’t dare to ask me my decision. The ceremony had ended. We hugged each other, cried, and took photos. I’m so going to miss everyone. Our unfinished assignments, failed test papers, love triangles, passing notes in secrecy, unusual jokes, weirdness of friends and him. I’ll choose what’s right I decided. I’ll go to Manila, finish my course, return here and look for him. That’s what my decision was. He didn’t know my decision then. I just gave him a letter and a handkerchief I personally knitted with “548”. Next day, I packed my bags. Flash back ended. I am freezing. A movie entitled “One More Chance” is playing on the television placed at the upper right side of the driver’s seat. It’s already 7:45 in the evening. I was seated at the last row and as I was waiting, I cannot stop myself from peeking outside my window sill as if I’m expecting someone to run through the rains just to say good bye to me. As a matter of fact, I am expecting somebody to show up. It’s already 8:00 in the evening it’s time for this bus to leave. No shadow of him had come up. I’m upset. But, I can’t blame him. He didn’t know a single thing. And as the bus slowly move its way from the path, I saw him, running through the rains. “Wait!” I screamed. I ran towards him. He stared at me. We are both wet. I didn’t let him speak. I don’t want to hear the word ‘goodbye’ from his mouth. I can’t utter a single word. Nevertheless, I was able to sing my favorite song in front of him. “And this is me praying that, this was the very first page not where the story line ends. My heart will echo your name until I see you again, this are the words I held back as I was leaving too soon. I was enchanted to meet you. Please, don’t be in-love with someone else. Please don’t have somebody waiting on you.” I sang it with all my heart. I didn’t look into his eyes. His words melted me. He told me, “I’ll wait here.” And there you have it. I’m Alora Gonzales, after four torturing years in high school I’ve met him, Rain Viniel. The one I waited for almost six years. I got my Bachelor Degree in Chemistry and as promise; I head back to my homeland. Lance is already married. Kian and Mae is still going strong while Leanne and Jay are still debating about whose more annoying between the two of them. Well, me? After six long years, after battling the universe and the metro life alone, I’m now the happiest girl in the world. Even if I failed my first chance, there’s always tomorrow to correct it. If someone gave you second chance, don’t waste them. I and he already threw our first chance but this one will last. I bet you. Last statement from your boring protagonist, “As long as you two are in the same sky, there’s no such thing as impossible, especially for the two of you to be together.”

xxx


What Every Guy Should Tell The Girl He Loves Jamela Dabuet

i. It is okay to try. You weren’t born to let your muscles rest and close your eyes for a hundred years. I may be here to kiss you awake but it is okay to stay alive and try. ii. There is nothing wrong with falling with your eyes closed just because you don’t know if a pair of arms will catch you. (But of course I will.) iii. It is okay to bleed. We were born with a sword but not a shield and I suppose wounds are nothing but proofs that we are weak. We are weak and doomed and perhaps the only mark we could ever leave is the stain of our blood—aside from scars. iv. Yes, you may fall for broken things and no, it is not your fault you can’t fix them. Some are born with faults between their eyes but that doesn’t make them see the world any less clearly. v. It is okay to love someone broken, as I love you. It is okay to love yourself. vi. It’s okay not to see the beautiful girl you wish to see when you look in the mirror. Sometimes I wish you could see through my eyes and believe me when I tell vii. It’s not your fault you find it hard to believe in many things, now. Your bones have started to crack for all the lies you keep that are wishing to come out, but it’s not your fault you like to keep them inside. We all have stories we dare not tell.


viii. I won’t promise you anything. Our hearts are just as broken as our promises, and homes would do way better without another piece of another broken thing. ix. We’re all just broken souls seeking wholeness in each other’s broken arms. I think the reason why I have this broken heart is that you have the other half. x. We’re doomed to die and destined to be whole. But if I can only be whole with someone else, then I’d rather stay broken with you.

xxx


What Makes a Father Mark Louie Contreras

I can still remember how an afternoon in June changed my perception about all the guys. It was when I got home crying with my wetted small white polo in tears and at my age of seven, that was a little bearable. Thinking of those bullies from my grade, and knowing how I was completely weak-willed from defending myself, I found myself quitting from the reality of my life where I was supposed to be studying and enjoying those juvenile days at the school playgrounds or somewhere behind the corridors as we gaze those older than us, talking. I was a thin third grader and among the 24 males inside the class, I belong to the lowest five in relation to our physical capabilities. I was also the youngest in the class since I was advanced for a year and from my age, you can defer how I was different from the most of them. By height, they’re incredibly taller than me; by weight, they can lift thrice of me; by physical prowess, they can easily knock be down anytime they want to. My father, being inquisitive, asked me why I was crying. Like a newly born child who’s taking some time to sniff and holding the tears from the corners of his eyes, I reached my father’s shoulder. I told him every single thing that makes me want to quit attending school that time, about how I was inferior inside our classroom, about how I can’t defend myself, about how I was so weak and I didn’t anymore feel the excitement of learning from every day that I need to act very carefully so that they wouldn’t notice me. Sometimes, I just want to disappear from our class every time they look at me for even by a single stare they can beat me, it’s as if they’re penetrating inside-- squeezing and clenching hardly every piece of me. From their eyes, I wasn’t safe and it was always me who will first look to my paper wishing in soft voice, calling all the angels I know to protect me. Sometimes, I want to vanish to be able to escape from the world of people who are much stronger and with so much power to break those helpless. But my father, who was listening to me said, “You are not weak, you are strong. Not because they are physically stronger than you doesn’t mean you can’t beat them”. From those words I found my comfort. The next day, I promised myself not to cry again, and no more guys will beat me just because they’re more powerful or just because they’re stronger. Then, I started to excel in the field I know, academically, I garnered the respect of many. I began to receive awards, entered into a lot of inter-school competitions and they started to notice me, not the one who will be the target of the day but the one who competes for his school.


This was all because of my father, the guy who had seen the best in me, and the first guy who believed that I was strong. And as of now, I believe that if there’s a guy who will who will let me cry, that’s only place, my father could.

xxx


Wheels and Notions Sel Abanilla

First step, second step, third step, a little walk and then sat on a random seat. It’s been a while since I ride on a bus. Everything was a breath of fresh air. I slide the curtain to my right and my heart starts to break free with joy as my eyes begin to perceive the beauty of the scenery . It was like watching a movie with sequence of on-the-spot events. Students walking, vendors working, couples fighting, children crying, etc. You’ll see the vast fields of the province then you’ll see tall buildings and shining lights of the city. Your dormant self will suddenly be awaken by thoughts; either lovely or adverse. Your mind will start recalling even the simplest details of a specific situation. Your eyes will reflect on what it sees and you’ll compare it to yourself. Your ears will hear sounds or voices and that could be something responsible to some parts of your past. Out of the calmness of your position, all the possible plans for the future will emerge in your mind. Overthinking will take place as if your some movie’s protagonist struggling on the innerself. Head leaning on the glass window, sunshine gleaming to the face and scattered sanity. Feels like you’re on the clouds, tiptoeing. How nice it is to sense the wheels of the bus as it progresses and your imagination grows at the same time. The forgotten people and moments that once made you happy will be appreciated again and the future plans will be settled. GOING AHEAD. Two words that a bus wants you to keep in mind. We can see different scenarios as we go with our ride but we can’t go back and look at it again if we want to.. we have no choice but to press forward. Just as with life, we will experience lots of things. We can be hurt or have regrets but we must hold on to our goal: ARRIVING ON OUR RIGHT DESTINATIONS.

xxx


Worst of His, Best of Hers Paul Ivan Daquis

It was the worst of times: when all he knew was to bleed, thick and red, leaving stains all over the place and in the worst of ways. It was the best of times, for her: a free-spirited young lady. For she had the world in her hands and his heart as well. A lesson on love, she pursued; thought it was all for the good. Agreed on a pact, to love each other back. It was short-lived, just like how ev’ryone believed it would be. When what was agreed upon was gone, he just like always was left with a scar; she was left with freedom. It was the worst of his times, the best of hers. It was always like that, though no one really knows why. xxx


Reintroduction: This is who we are