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I R O N G - I R O N G

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I R O N G - I R O N G

IroN=IroN= IRONG-IRONG is the official Student Literary Journal of the University of San agustin. no part of this publication maybe reproduced or stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form whether virtual, electronic, or mechanical without the written permission and approval from the owners. Disclaimer this book, unless specified in the individual works, is a work of fiction. all the names, characters, events, and organizations portrayed are products of imagination and are used fictitiously. any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or deceased, is entirely coincidental. Published in the Philippines by USa publications, 2/F alumni building, University of San agustin, Iloilo City, philippines Colophon this book was crafted into perfect tragedy and fear using Century Schoolbook, Cooper hewitt, and otto typefaces. page design and enhancements were done using adobe InDesign, adobe Illustrator, adobe Lightroom, and adobe photoshop.

Front CoVEr MoDEL JOSHuA FRANCIS B. JOLITO photograph by mARA ELAIzA A. FLORES


EDItor-In-ChIEF ManagIng EDItor aSSoCIatE EDItor CIrCULatIon anD oFFICE ManagEr MoDErator

Frennie M. Tababa Rj Junsay Edcel B. Fajutag Jordan C. Galache Engr. Ray Adrian C. Macalalag

ART AND DESIGN TEAm art DIrECtor StaFF artISt StaFF photographEr (VIDEographEr)

Herod A. Montiel Ken Benedict A. Prado Clyde Allen E. Sollesta

COmmuNITY AFFAIRS TEAm CoMMUnIty EDItor StaFF wrItErS

Rochelle Mae M. Muzones Jecel T. Buenavides Edward Dominic E. Emilio Wilkienson C. Muro

CREATIVE WRITING TEAm LItErary EDItor StaFF wrItErS

Philip Robert C Alaban Erika Danielle M. Pepito Andrea Nicole C. Parce

PROGRAm mANAGEmENT TEAm prograM DIrECtor StaFF wrItErS

Armie Therese C. Penuela Athena Gabriella E. Julabar Daryl S. Selerio Nicole Ailice F. Serisola

PHOTOGRAPHY TEAm photography DIrECtor StaFF photographErS

Mara Elaiza A. Flores John Elmer J. Balan Allaine Rose M. Emnacen

Irong-irong is published regularly by the USa publications, which envisions itself as an augustinian center of campus journalism, fostering the advocacy of the common good and acting as voice of the student body through responsive, developmental, and research-based campus journalism. www.usapub.net

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USa publications

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USa publications


Introduction Beads of sweat. Damp underarms. Heavy breathing. Darkness everywhere. Adrenalin rushes through every vein as a single solitary thought is etched unto your mind. Escape.You turn left, right, then desperately claw at empty air. You keep on struggling until finally, you admit defeat. There’s no way out. You’re trapped. After all, isn’t it impossible to escape from the depths of one’s own mind? I have a novel’s worth of people to thank, this being my pioneer issue of the Irong-irong. A big bow to the Almighty, for showering me with never-ending blessings and for listening to every sigh and song ever to escape my lips. To Sir Ray, for constantly blurring the lines between being Moderator, second father, older brother and friend. Nang Ayah, whose “sinful words” were the spark that ignited this whole inferno within me. Alfie! Thank you for being my constant lifeline; for being the thread of ‘sane’ in this whole tapestry of panic, pandemonium and, rarely, peace. Beloved pubpips, thank you for bearing with my constantly under the weather attitude and for never failing to make me smile every day. Newbies, may you learn to treasure your moments with us just as we have cherished ours with you. To a certain person one plane and several cramped train rides away, thank you for teaching me that we can still be there for each other even when distance keeps us apart. To my Mama and Papa, who have silently (but grudgingly) endured all of my absences and IOU’s from home. And my sister, who, in more than one occasion, has become proxy for me during those absences. Now set aside your hesitations and be ready to delve into this hair-raising issue of the Irong-irong filled with terrifying tales of individuals who cringe at the mere thought of the dark, harmless creatures, mundane objects and even their own selves. Everything in life, excluding Death, can be conquered. The question is, are you brave enough to go against the things that scare you the most? PHILIP ROBERT C. ALABAN Literary Editor Irong-irong

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Contents SHORT STORIES True Torment, 2

Batrachophobia, 16 Six Feet Under, 20 Sisterly Love, 23 Surrender, 24 Afterlife, 27 Bacon, 28-29 Wildfire, 30 Hypnophobia, 34 Mama, 35 Fear Wins, 38 The Shadow, 40 Aeger's Tale, 48

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a r t w o r k b y L o u ie m ar k F u entes


POEMS

3am Thoughts, 6 Alter, 7 Atelophobia, 9 Drift, 10 B, 11 Left Alone, 12 Never Alone, 13 Front View, 15 Living Inside, 18 Cold, 22 Nak Angel, 26 Depression, 32 Singko, 36 The Oblivion, 37 Boogeyman, 43 Separation, 44

ESSAYS

What My Mother's Cancer Diagnosis Taught Me About Life, 45

TEN-WORD TIRADES 51-54 CONTRIBUTORS 55

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True Torment by GERARD ESCuDERA

“This is hell,” I thought to myself as I stood at the edge of the 34th floor balcony of the building. My mind flooded with thoughts as to why I was here, why I was doing this. I let the wind push me and I felt my stomach turn as I fall towards the ground except when I reached the asphalt I didn’t die. I never die. My heart is still pounding loudly in my ears, the sound of my bones breaking and my brain scattering towards the street, the intensity of the sound just as painful as the fact that I’m shattered. It hurts, but I can’t stop. “Cut it deep,” I told myself as I was sat in a bathtub full of warm water, with a straight-razor in hand. All it will take is one swipe and it would be over soon. I know it won’t. It is a lie that I tell myself. It is a lie that gives me relief. My hand took on a life on its own and with one clean and smooth motion attacked the other. I suddenly felt smaller, lighter. Immense pain took over as my injured hand decided to take revenge on the other one. As they finished cutting each other, the force that controls them disappears and I soon regained control of them. I lowered them into the bath water and I sit there reminiscing the times where I was happy. A painful and bloody ordeal, the water turned red as my vitality waned. I slowly drift into unconsciousness.

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“Jump off,” I convince myself as I stood on a stool with a noose around my neck. I’m not in control of my body. As I was about to take the plunge a sound reached me, a familiar, chirpy, delightful voice that seemed to contrast the dark and gloomy setting. The voice urged me to remove my noose and get off the stool. I opened my eyes, which were filled with dried remnants of tears after experiencing the emotional torture brought to me by sleep. The sun casts its dark and grim light in my room. “I’m going to end it today”, I calmly told myself. I had everything planned out when the day came. My room was neat and a note was left on the kitchen table. My parents would be home from work soon. I made one last post on social media explaining what I intended to do, where, and why. I sent a few last texts to friends apologizing and thanking them. Then I went to the bridge. I sat on the rail for an hour. No one came. Tears roll down my cheeks as this serves as my confirmation that no one cared and understood my suffering.

artwork by RODITO SEVILLA

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Depth of View

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BY PHILIP ROBERT ALABAN


[panic]

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3am Thoughts by zOE GWYNETH TAN

My chest feels like it caved in, As I am hiding my suffering. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. The light at the end of the tunnel Suddenly seems so far away. I want to feel again. I have a secret; I have a fear That the world around me Will crumble upon my fingertips The smile I have—I’m faking it. I do not belong. I do not belong. I never belonged here. Do not let these eyes deceive you, It isn’t what it seems, I’m just a person not worth fighting for, A person with broken dreams.

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artwork by RODITO SEVILLA


Alter

by kENT LOuIS TOmuLTO

Beam Smiling sun Dancing seagulls Blue, lucent horizon A wonderful day to wander Terrorized monkeys Darkening rivers Judgment day Black

The end is beginning.

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Atelophobia by Kristah Louisse Perez

How infinite are the stars in you, Forever changing, forever new. They constellate and all do explode. Cosmos tumble and all do implode. I fear that your universe shall never match mine, No clusters of stars, none ever shines. No suns, no moons, neither warmth nor light. All that is your dark shall be my night. My space is vast and unforgiving, Enraged meteors constantly falling, Abounding stars are there for you to see, But oh, how dark is my galaxy.

a r t w o r k b y philip robert alaban

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Drift

by Stephanie Kay Urquiola

It’s not the measure of miles between us that terrifies me It’s not the thought of you finding someone else that scares me Rather, it’s that one day you no longer think of telling me when you hear good news When problems start to become only yours, and not ours When your inside jokes may someday make me feel like an outsider When there are little details of your day I may never get to know about Bits and pieces of your life that I may no longer have the right to hold What scares me, with a thousand miles of ocean between us, is that we drift. Drift towards a life I may no longer know about. Drift towards a world I may no longer be a part of.

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B

BY Quemel charles Malte

I once read some person on the internet talking about their cancer. It said: “Hey, shit happens, people die, it’s natural.” that put a lot of things into perspective. If I knew how long I had left to live, will I start living it better? If I knew when my expiration date was, would every day be a Kodak moment? I think that the novelty of being alive stems from the fact that most of us are unaware when it ends, when our time is up. I think living my life completely unaware of my demise is more comforting. A blissful ignorance as it were but it isn’t really the end itself I am afraid of, more of what happens next and what I will be leaving maybe what I had wasn’t a fear of death, but really a fear of not living still don’t wanna die, though. Irong-irong

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Left Alone

BY Mary Grace Caligan

Darkness is everywhere And I don’t know what I should do Crawling, groping, blind and scared With nowhere else to go Tears fall down my face Like falling petals of dead roses. I feel as if no one cares; As if no one’s there. But I intend to be strong Realized what was wrong Imagine the past Now, it’s just like dust. I feel alone In a silent room I’m on my own and it reminds me No one else is to be blamed No one other than myself

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a r t w o r k b y philip robert alaban


Never Alone

BY JeannA Noelle Gonzales

Fear is the enemy, the weakness of my soul The one thing that I could never let go, A memory of what happened in the past, Never failing to make me feel paranoid and bad. Everywhere I go, everywhere I look, I only see fear looming ahead Waiting for me to break and scream My mind out of my head. This is what distracts me from my life, That I could not sleep, eat, or do anything But succeeds in making me, Tremble at night, crying. Every time I think about them Or stumble upon them in my dreams They would make wish That I was not here.

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Front View

BY Franz Tantiongco

She sits in front of me With cheerlessness in her eyes Planting concealer on her face To hide all her struggles in life She puts on her makeup With a small brush she holds But she can’t just brush off her insecurities She can’t just conceal her flaws Her lips are a shade of crimson Yet I don’t see fire in her eyes Her cheeks may look bright But she’s dead on the inside She is a flower that nobody wants to touch The sweetest candy that nobody wants to try She wants people to see her merit But greatly fears being brushed aside

a r t w o r k b y L o u ie m ar k F u entes

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Batrachophobia BY Renz Napoule ALcallaga

There were thousands, no, millions of them. You thought you were dreaming at first, but the pounding of your heart and the shuddering of your skin feels too real. They are watching, waiting, observing. Blank eyes staring at the center stage, at you.

The Amphibians.

There are no signs of the original audience. The amphibians pack themselves in each seat that their filthy bodies entangle with each other. The fetid odor wafting in the air tells you that not all of those are alive. They keep moving, pushing, pulling and hitting each other with accelerating speed, yet, they never take their eyes off the stage, anticipating a performance. Whose performance?

Yours, of course.

You won’t disappoint, would you? Of course not! It took you seven months for this play, and your pride does not allow show cancellations, correct? “The audience dos not affect the performance; the performance affects them,” yes?

Then sing.

You open your mouth but are taken aback when no sounds begin to form. You raise your knuckled hand to your mouth and clear your throat. Now reassured with your voice, you try again and actually succeed in producing words. ‘Requiem aeternam, Dona ais Domine’ you start, but you break off again when your head leans backward and you face the ceiling. Why? Because…

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They were there also. The frogs, the toads, the newts. Different kinds and in many shades, but it didn’t change the fact that they were all repulsive, just hanging there on the rafters, on the lights, on the fake clouds that the dismal theater managed to provide. Their slimy fingers poorly clung to the props and their wart-ridden skin kept smearing filth as they moved, holding, clinging, grabbing. You can sense their impatience building and… and… and… then they start to fall.

One by one.

On you.

The first one hits you in the face; you can feel its slimy mug impact yours and you jerk your head away. Another almost falls on you but you swat it with your left hand. It crashes into the wall and plops down on the floor, twitching, and spasming until gradually, it is still. Dead eyes stare accusingly at you. Then the others pick up their pace, as if attempting to exact retribution for their fallen comrade. You can’t take any more of this and you try to move, but they block your path, flooding from above. You can feel your sanity dropping as they cover you, you scream, or at least try to, for all that comes out of your lips are incoherent blabber. So you grasp your head in your hands and kneel, as you do so, you can feel the bumps on their leathery, slimy skin. Their smell is unbearable and nauseating. Bloated toads are crawling all over your back.

Then they start to bite.

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Living Inside BY Jubill roe Trance

You are cold, very cold “Is he the one to bring light to my life?” Your ice cold heart You ask yourself. Never felt warmth Then you see him with another The evil that grows inside you girl Frigid like the vast space Jealousy, anger, mixed emotions felt Years of pain and suffering Finally you snap. Consumed by society, Now you lay with his deceased there was little hope body Until you saw him… Crimson. His warm smile took the pain away Red. Thawed your heart Stained bed sheets His gentle voice hit your very core You don’t notice them, The demons living inside you Every day you are with him Struggling to break Every night you think of him. free And sometimes they win.

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a r t w o r k b y D annah N icole L asanas


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Six Feet Under BY JAIRA THERESE CO

You wake from a deep sleep, drowsy and stiff. You look up and see all your friends and family surrounding your bed. After the initial shock, you wonder why your father is all stony-faced and shaking, beside him, your mother is crying hysterically into his shoulder. You try to reach up to comfort her, to ask her why she was so distressed. But then you realize you can’t move. Your limbs are like lead, your muscles are exhausted. You can’t even move your fingers. You try to scream, but your lips are sealed shut. You try to make any noise you can, but your throat is dry. You muster all the energy your limited movement is able to try and thrash about, and it works! The tips of your fingers twitch ever so slightly, and from above, your sister sees it. She tugs on your brother’s sleeve and says something in a low voice. He simply brushes her off. The crowd around you is thinning now. The prickling sense of panic rises inside you and terror washes over you in waves. Only your best friend is left above you now. You look at her face, normally so bright and bubbly. Nothing about her is happy now. Her eyes are red and swollen, her bottom lip is quivering. She looks at you for another moment then drops a single flower on top of you. Nobody is left around you. It is just now that you notice that it is not your bedroom ceiling above you, but the bright blue sky. You get the sense of moving, like you are being lowered. The brightness around you slowly fades into a damp blackness. Then, fear unlike any other shocks you, because the first clod of dirt is dumped above your coffin.

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[pandemonium]

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Cold

BY Zoe Gwyneth Tan

who was i before i met you? the fireworks i felt that day, your hands cold and blue against my skin, clasping for warmth; fiery and needy— why? why was this irking feeling inside of me tearing its way out of my flesh?

who am i after you’ve gone? you left questions unanswered.

God, help me rid of this growing fear i have for myself.

i was never enough, never the person to quench your thirst.

i buried you on a Wednesday night. our memories together locked away;

so, tell me why are you sitting at the foot of my bed

far away.

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my love, i am sorry. sorry that i was so selfish

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again?


a r t w o r k b y philip robert alaban

Sisterly Love BY Franz Tantiongco

When I was about five years old, my older sister and I would fly paper airplanes at the rice farm near our house. As I remember it, she taught how to make them perfectly for sure, but looking back at it now, I realize that something is unsettling about this thought. Whenever I relive this memory, I shiver.

My sister died in an accident when I was just a toddler.

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Surrender BY Ralph Laurenz Buot

Fear. n. The unpleasant emotion caused by being aware of danger. I watched my father drink himself to death every single day. I watched him gulp the sweet poison as it stained his blood and clouded his judgment. One day, the bottles of beer in the fridge remained unopened. I witnessed my mother work her last few days in the office before her illness took its toll on her. As what I hated to call “Frontotemporal Dementia” ate at her, she slowly passed, growing weaker day by day. I despised having to take care of her, not because I didn’t love her dearly, but for the reason that her fate would remain unchanged, that she would still eventually die. I lived every day dreading to see if she was still breathing, if ever her chest stopped rising and falling as she slept. One day, it finally did. I’d never forget the destiny my partner had to deal with. What a shame it is for a married couple to shun their son, for them to call him a disgrace, an abomination, abnormal, for them to tell him that he has no place in their family. His mother acted as if she had no son, while his father waited for the right moment to pull the trigger on him, and for what reason? For he loved whom he truly loved, his life was taken away. His parents never approved of us; their definition of love excluded me from their son’s life.

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I couldn’t get the memory out of my mind, the memory of my sister and I sitting down, trying to figure out what the best action to take next would be. Our parents have left us, leaving us to fend for ourselves. We agreed on working jobs for money and while I continued my daily service at a nearby clothing store, my sister worked multiple jobs for that little extra. I couldn’t wipe the memory of her anxious face, which was once beaming with positivity was now crumpled with frustration. My footsteps caught her attention as she sat on a cliff, the cliff where I strangely last remember her. “You called for me, sis?” She plasters a smile, though clearly pained. “I just wanted to talk.” I took the spot beside her and she continued. “If you’re thinking of killing yourself because life’s getting hard, don’t.” I shook my head. “I’d never leave you.” She took my hand. “I’m afraid of losing you.” I gave her a reassuring smile. “Don’t be.” _________________________ On my way down from a hike, I came across a boy who can’t be any older than eighteen. I thought he was admiring the view like everybody was until I saw him talking to someone or . . . something. Although a smile decorated his face, tears ran down his cheeks. I feared for his sanity, anxious whether or not he was okay. Fear. n. Commonly associated with dread or apprehension.

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Nak Angel BY Erick de la Piedra

Siyam nga buean ako nga uwa nag-iskuyla Uwa nag warang, uwa nag sinadya Siyam nga buean nga nag sakripisyo, nag sakripisyo para kana Siyam nga buean ko imaw gin pas an Siyam nga buean man nga gin kinuebaan Dahil basi ro iba, ako eon hay kalimtan Ag ako hay ikahuya sa mga tawo ag iban Siyam nga buean ako nga uwa haeos napuslan Siyam nga buean nga gin asikasohan Siyam nga buean nga binantayan Para kana ngara sa ang tiyan Siyam nga buean nakon imaw gn daea Bisan ang panueok kana kato imaw hay saea Siyam nga buean ko imaw gin palangga Pero Nak Angel, haman maaga ka pa naduea?

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The Afterlife BY Franz Tantiongco

As he opens his eyes, he realizes that he is not in the same place where he last blinked anymore, for now he feels hundreds of pins prickling his bare feet and he could already hear sounds of agony coming from different directions. The place is as dark as the night sky and even he could not fathom living here. The overwhelming smell of reeking flesh does not help the situation either. He asks a man, about two feet taller than him, where he is but gets nothing verbal in return. Instead, the man grabs his arms and drags him to an even taller man, twice in height as he is. Although his face is not visible caused by the foggy and dark environment, he recognizes the two curved horns attached to his head. “This can’t be,” he whispers to himself. The beast slowly comes to his spot and smells him. In a very deep voice, asks him, “Why can’t it?” Terrified, the man speaks in a very raspy voice, “How can I be here?” he asks the beast.

“How can you not be here?”

Confused, he asks him again. “It may be a mistake. I believe that I am a good person. I haven’t done anything wrong while I was on Earth. I need to go to heaven right now!” The beast’s laughs bellow throughout the whole cavern as he slinks forward to growl his left ear. “Forget all your thoughts about the afterlife, Paul.

“Welcome home!”

p h o t o g r a p h b y Zydric k G encianeo

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Bacon BY franz tantiongco

As I woke up in my worn out bed, I immediately went to the bathroom to prepare for my mother’s birthday. I decided to give her a pendant —the same pendant that she raved over for about a week now— from a black market near our house. I may not have enough money to cover up the price of that pendant, but I always have my ways. Right after I put on the red cap that complements my loose shirt and rugged sandals, I went to the kitchen to greet her and gave her my small gift. She was very happy, but I couldn’t see it in her eyes. My stepfather, who’s just behind me, pat me on the head and thanked me for being a thoughtful son. During our breakfast, mother prepared some bacon, fried eggs, and garlic sinangag. Seeing bacon in a small platter right before me was a first since I haven’t tasted or seen one before, but because it was my mother’s birthday, anything could be done. “She deserves this,” I whispered to myself. I took my first bite of bacon and felt its juiciness inside my mouth. I cannot literally explain its flavor because it’s distinct, but one thing was certain: it was delicious. Delicious enough that I finished eating four pieces in one sitting.

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Right after I stood up to go to the sink, I asked my mother what ate’s gift for her was but I was met with silence. My mother was silent, unsure about what to say, so I asked my stepfather instead. He, too, was hesitant to answer. Baffled, I asked them one more time. My mother’s eyes closed as she sighed. “Son, I know it’s hard to explain this to you knowing that you are just a kid,” she said. “But your sister’s not with us anymore.” “However, don’t feel sad because we’re going to have dinuguan later, anak,” my father interrupted. I was even more baffled.

artwork by DARYL SELERIO

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Wildfire

BY Rhett Vincent de la Rosa

All my life, love had never fueled me… fear did. I was like a lion who did tricks in fear of the whip. But that very whip taught me how I should act or behave to please my God, my Dad or this society that I live in. If not for the whip, I wouldn’t have been tamed, I would’ve been a wild child... and nobody wanted that. A r t w o r k b y rodito sevilla

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[peace]

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Depression BY Zoe Gwyneth Tan

It was Thursday when it happened. I couldn’t speak or move a single inch of my body. My whole world seemed to have stopped all of a sudden. The colors—green, blue, red; my favourites, had started to drain from my surroundings. The warmth of it all was leaving my fingertips. The world I was in had once again become monotonous. Cold. Unnerving. Gray. Why was this happening to me? I clenched my fist, holding on to the faint feeling of my nails piercing through my skin. I had found myself growing numb; each day worst than the last. I wanted to feel again. To live again. I wonder how much people took advantage of their ability to believe they had nothing to fear nor worry about. Every day had felt like an endless, repetitious cycle. It has gotten to the point where I’ve gotten tired of being tired. I had allowed my demons to be free; to explore my unguarded, open gates to feed off whatever was left inside of me. Materialistic things never fazed me anymore. Even the things I used to love hadn’t brought me joy anymore. Not like it used to. So what exactly was the purpose of looking forward for what’s to come when you know how it ends anyway? It always ends in fear.

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They talk to me. They whisper things I do not understand. They hiss in a tone full of spite and hatred as they slither gleefully in every crevice of my mind. The walk to the University bathroom took thirty-two steps and a turn. The faint smell of disinfectant had made me feel light-headed. I broke into a cold sweat as I leaned against the old brick walls of the bathroom. “Y-you..” I managed to say to the girl looking back at me from the mirror. I clasped my hand to my mouth, quivering in the corner like an animal. Her eyes were hollow and lifeless, sunken and void of expression. I moved away, but she didn’t. I could feel my breath shortening; my heart was creeping its way to my throat. Her gaze was staring directly at me, her grin slowly turning into something menacing and less human.

“Did you miss me?”

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Hypnophobia BY Kent louis Tomulto

I haven’t slept for three days since mama died. She died because I fell asleep.

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Mama BY Charmaine Frosa

I don’t fear ghosts, I don’t fear heights, I don’t fear spiders, I only fear seeing a beautiful woman resembling me, smiling, while sleeping in a casket.

photograph

b y Zydric k gencianeo

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gapang bes ; lol lagbong ; back subject ; late graduation sira beauty ; untat na school seventy-five % passing ; irreg student “wala na ko labot” ; “lumpat injap” sindi kandila sa cathedral ; pray nalang “jump shot sa mendel fifth floor” ; laban pulaw asta 4am dasal lang ; tiwala lang 5 cups of coffee “summer class na this” ; INC 4 energy drinks “may points attendance?” “mabawi lang ko sa midterms” I did my best but I guess my 6 quizzes in one day ; feeling major na minor best wasn’t good enough “mabawi lang ko sa finals” ; kulang sa handouts Grades don’t define me “wala na pagasa” Drop out gani si Bill Gates “ihibi nalang bes” Drop man si Einstein “Shift nalang ta” “may finals pa” ; second chance prof pls fighting wala handouts tears “nag-quiz siya, wala man nagtudlo” bahala na si God ; para sa kinbukasan ; tres pls tres lang zHuApAtTt nAuHhh eyebags 5 chapters gintun-an, isa lang naggwa sama sama tayo mga bes stress “ngaa amu ni akun course? hugot na pagtuo

Singko

BY Marie-Noelle Angeli Seville

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The Oblivion BY Franz Tantiongco

I was once a young dragonfly wandering through the sea of chartreuse grass Not knowing the odds of getting hurt by their spiky tails I crawled and stayed there until blue skies turned tangerine I flew away with brightness and comfort Like everything in this pasture holds radiance Like everything here is fine But as I grow older I realize something That even if this field looks lively and engaging Some things here are still callous and cutting Like the grass where all my memories before were shared Now lifeless as it longs for care I now see blue skies not only turn into tangerine But also darkness as the time creeps in How ruthless expectations can be That they oppose to what we call certainty As raw as the shamrock pasture my mind was I never imagined myself getting hurt because of my false imaginings Truth be told as now I see Some of our notions in life are deceptive —and yet we choose to let them be.

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Fear Wins BY Aldrin John Talledo

Somehow, I have tried to dismiss all of my fears. One remains—it’s losing us. We’re back here again outside the field, but I’m sure it’s for the last time. I took a few steps and rested myself beside him slowly; feeling as though I was not prepared for what’s going to happen. His hands were behind his head, elbows pointing out as he gazes for the stars. He looked different tonight: he has a slight stubble on his face probably from not shaving in a while,but I thought he knew I hate that. I joked about him coming early, he turned to look at me with a little smile on his face and I felt my heart flutter as he said my name.“Erin?” I have not told him about how I used to hate that name and I remember the first time it left his mouth, it became my favorite. The feeling was indescribable and I would never forget, because it was the day I fell in love with the name Erin and a boy named Isaac. I moved closer to him and rested my head on his shoulder for some time. I still have no idea how long we actually stayed like that. “I don’t really know what to say to you.” I choked out; the words struggled to leave my mouth when tears blurred my vision. At this he seemed to break out of his trance making us sit and face each other. “Me either.” He said as he reached out to embrace me. “I’m sorry,” I started crying. “No, I’m the one who should be. It’s my fault.”

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“I’m sorry, I’m sorry that I’m not good enough for you. I knew this was going to happen. I knew that one day you’ll be falling out of love, but what I did not know was that you already had fallen out of love.” I took a deep breath, composed myself back and stood up—ready what to do what I had come to do. “I love you, but I can’t blame you if you’re happier with her. I’m not angry. I mean I should be, but I choose not to. I’m just tired.” I told him as I handed him back his ring. They say people should let their faith win over their fear. I had faith in us, but this time my fear won. We lost us.

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The Shadow BY Yvonne Mae Capatayan

“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.” -Isaiah 41:13 I hated late night walks. My friends insisted on finishing the science project that was supposed to be done tomorrow because they wanted their Saturday nights free. It was already 10:25pm. I strolled silently through the streets, arguing internally how I would get back at the others on demanding me to stay when they clearly know why I don’t want to walk late at night. I concentrated forward, eyes straight ahead, head never turning. I glared daggers at the street lamps, wishing I had laser eyes and just blast the stupid lights off. I was scared of looking behind and below. See, I was afraid of my shadow. It might sound pretty silly, but it’s the truth. I was scared stiff of the faceless black form that followed me around. My brothers were horror flick hogs and they enjoyed teasing me, saying I have my own personal Mr. Boogeyman. It grew on me. That cruel, nasty conviction. I’m in my junior year now, and I’m still peeing my pants whenever I see my shadow. I turned left towards the narrow alley I take as a shortcut home. It was less filled with lights and I was comfortable walking there. A sharp noise made me look back, and I saw briefly a hooded figure darting to duck behind a post. My insides jolted in instant 911-mode!

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I fastened my pace and pretended to look at my watch to indicate I was in a hurry. Bad move. I glimpsed at my shadow and the tingling intensified when there was not one but two following me. I swallowed a cry and, when I can no longer take it, I ran. I heard the heavy footsteps of my pursuer behind me. I scurried towards a ladder to an apartment, climbed up and just dangled there like a petrified acrobat. Above was at least safer than being below with whoever was following me. He came, slowing down to check his surroundings. I begged he would not look up, or see the ladder which I foolishly forgot to pull back up due to my frenzy. With both my arms on the sides of the rungs to keep me balanced, I closed my eyes, cursing that even when I was in a pinch the image of my shadow tormented me. I prayed, desperately, earnestly. “Lord, I’m scared…” Then, the lights behind me turned on and I heard the low gasp of my pursuer and the slight retreat of his steps. Hesitantly I opened my eyes and turned around. The window behind me was lit but not open. Somebody inside must be having a late night snack. I drew a shaky breathe and forced myself to look down, wondering what alarmed my pursuer when no one had seen him anyway. What I saw moved me to tears. Below me was my shadow. But it was not the silhouette that haunted my every step. With both my hands on the side and the light that cast it, my shadow was in the shape of a cross.

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Boogeyman BY Mary Yvette Kaye Santuyo

In the darkness he creeps With red eyes that gleam Feeding on biggest fears That you and I feel. He could be under your bed Or looking from outside your window His skin so pale with a moonlight glow. Your messed up dreams Dark and twisted You, struggling to wake up Is his favorite part of the game. Remember, it’s all in your head Now wake up, you’re shivering Skin covered with sweat There are more fears in the real world, don’t you forget.

photograph

b y Zydric k gencianeo

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Separation

BY Cassi Lorddjohnne Usison

I’m scared of waiting Feelings are easily fading People are changing Still they keep on believing I may be a fool or a martyr But with this feeling I mustn’t falter Imagining our future brighter This can be a heartbreaker You decided to throw me aside The pain and disappointment I cannot hide But you said it was for a better cause With unblinking eyes and without pause Living with my insecurities Thinking of all the possibilities What if I see you with another Smiling like there’s no other It makes me cringe by just thinking All it does is dent my being What I’m scared is not you leaving But of me who keeps on clinging I wish you could tell me face to face Just enough to clear this haze And to end my heart’s rupture So I can stop fearing the future

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P h o t o g r a p h b y A llaine rose e m nacen


What My Mother's Cancer Diagnosis Taught Me About Life By Ayah Danica Granada

It’s a harsh world, facing the reality that it’s almost a norm to have at least one family member suffer from cancer. They aren’t wrong when they say cancer creeps up on you and turns a majority of your life upside down. Suddenly the movies and books about cancer not only intensify your emotions – they tangle them all up. All those stories on Chicken Soup for the Soul start making sense. You can bet I cried my heart out watching My Sister’s Keeper. Augustus Waters and Hazel Lancaster will always have a place in my heart. Of all the Nicholas Sparks movies, The Last Song affected me the most. Putting yourself in the position of the characters, fictional or not, affected by cancer has become inevitable. You think “Hey, maybe I’ll learn a thing or two,” but most of the time you just end up puffy-eyed by the time the credits start rolling. Nothing ever comes close. _________________________________ Everything starts to feel urgent. You force yourself to be more responsible. You take better care of yourself to keep them from worrying.

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No one really talks about how the medication tends to take over their emotions. Or how you’re constantly torn between wanting to go on with your daily routines as ordinarily as possible to make them feel normal, and doing everything as soon as possible because you’re afraid of “wasting” time. Support comes in all forms. Treatment period took us through good times and bad. In more ways than one, we’ve grown stronger as a family. You rekindle relationships with family members. You also discover who your real friends are. Furthermore, prayer and support groups welcome you with open arms to remind you that your battles aren’t meant to be fought alone. But not everyone will know what to say. I would never wish it on anybody, but you never really understand the dreaded “C” word until a loved one experiences it. Just recently, a “Challenge Accepted” Facebook dare of uploading black and white photos to supposedly raise cancer awareness went viral. Not one ounce of it appealed to me. Those with cancer themselves have even spoken up, saying “there are much more productive things people can do to support people affected by cancer… Do you really think someone with cancer will be happy because you posted a narcissistic picture with an arty filter? No. They won’t.” Amen.

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Sometimes bringing up the future feels like walking on eggshells. Reminding myself to remain cautious with my choice of words has become a reflex, and I hope others will do the same. Fighting on. Thankfully we’re way past the chemotherapy and bandana days. Mom’s hair has grown back curlier and more natural than ever. We’re now able to occasionally joke about her “uneven” body parts. We no longer bring it up as often as we used to – and it’s completely okay. It’s okay to learn to accept the reality of it all – that things, and mom, will never be the same again. ________________________________________ Finally, even though we’re constantly reassured that the “bad cancer cells” are gone, the worry will always be there. No matter how much research you do, there’s no way to prepare yourself. There’s no “right” way to feel. Scientists keep talking about a cure for patients, forgetting that we too, suffer along with them. There will always be hope. But the fear never leaves. Now, every additional minute, hour, day, week or year is more than a blessing. It can consume you, but you don’t have to let it. Everyday is a perfect day to be grateful.

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Aeger's Tale BY Ralph Laurenz Buot

Biodata: Aeger, seventeen, female. I am doing fine. I am doing fine, that’s what I tell myself every single day. What is there in life to be sad about? You were brought into this world to live it, to make the most of it and ideally, all of those should be done with joy in your heart. I believe that being happy is one of the strongest things one can do, even though it’s not authentic. In the world we exist in, there are so many things that could upset us, the lost lives of innocent people covered by media and the news, the mistreated animals that we see in videos, people being disrespected for reasons that shouldn’t even be a big deal, for a woman was wearing her hijab, for a man was holding hands with another man, for a man was helping an autistic child, mistaken for a murderer simply because he was black. Above those, I’m glad I’m at home, safe within these walls and with people I call my family. Izzy, my best friend snickers beside me, whispering in my ear. “He’s coming!” “Aeger,” Robb, a thirty-seven year old man still with luscious blonde hair, greets me. I can’t quite understand why Izzy likes to link me with him, he’s clearly too old. I was seated on one of the benches beside the walls, my back against a cemented pillar as Izzy leaned on my shoulder. We watched the men and women indulge themselves in activities such as playing a game of p h o t o g r a p h b y Zydric k G encianeo

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chess, painting portraits, reading books, writing poems, in any way that could help make the time pass. These people, these men and women in white clothes are whom I’ve called family for three years since my real mother and father put me here, telling me they were going to be back. I still have faith in their return, besides, why would they lie to me? Sure it’s been three years but a lot of things could have hindered them from getting me back. I hear Izzy groan, sensing an eye roll coming from her. “Ugh, they’re here.” I turn my head towards the entrance, where people in white lab coats came in with clipboards in their hands. They tell me that they’re just going to ask some friendly questions, but why are most of them so damn snarky and pretentious? “Aeger,” A middle-aged woman comes up to me and taps her pen on the clipboard. “Have you taken your meds?” I shoot her a confused look. “Meds?” She sighs. “Your candy.” “Oh!” I perk up. “Yep!” Izzy whispers something to me. “Shut up, Izzy.” She sighs on more time before turning away without another word. I don’t know why, but within these white walls, broken lights, my family dressed in white, the mean men and women dressed in white lab coats, the food they feed us and the rooms they give us, I still find comfort. Biodata: Aeger, seventeen, female, schizophrenic.

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Tirades 10 ten-word

BY USA PUBLICATIONS STAFF

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The Looking Glass | a.g.j She stared at the mirror, a grisly look stared back. The Manacle | a.g.j. Enmeshed in strident voices and eerie thoughts; a hopeless escape. Under the Surface | p.r.a. I fear not who I am but who I’ll be. Abrupt | p.r.a. Then one day, all of the “wills” all became “can’ts”. Landing | p.r.a. All too familiar sensation of falling yet never waking up. Concealed | p.r.a. We fear not the dark. Rather, things we can’t see. Stare | f.t. Sensed darkness the minute I saw you. Couldn’t look away. Left Behind | f.t. Desperately wanting to be with others yet so hopelessly alone. Separation | f.t. Bags empty. Clothes unpacked. No chance for a final farewell. In White | f.t. Incision. Suction. Bypass. Heart’s ready. All’s waiting for his response Perturbed | n.a.s. Straightjacketed men. Deranged smiles and tables glinting full of knives. Wreckage | n.a.s. Cold feet hovering over crumpled notes, broken glass, scattered pills. Metamorphosis | n.a.s. Once, the girl was sane. She’s not so sure anymore.

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Last Chapter | w.m. Undress me with all your might; I’ll be happy despite. Seeing the Rainbow | w.m. I crushed myself out just to make you pleasurably sprout. Di Immortales | w.m. Don’t wanna grow old; wanna stay gold. A story untold. Words I Fear | e.f. “I don’t love you,” words I hear. Now broken, torn. Sa Dilim | e.f. Tayong dalawa’y magkatabi, sa dilim - nakakubli. Walang sulyap, nanginginig, magkayakap. Under Judgement | e.f. Silence, strong gazes and bared misconceptions. Hearing himself, “Not again.” Helpless | a.t.p. “Noooo,” I shrieked. Boisterous laughter emerged and darkness embraced me.” Into the Dark | e.d.p. Lights out. Pitch black. Time for monsters to creep out. Swerve | e.d.p. The tires screech as the metals cut through my skin. Plummet | e.d.p. I trudge to the top. Slip, fall, plummet and break. Damnatio Memoriae | r.j. As darkness takes over, I lose myself in your eyes. Tryst | r.j. You’re my long lost saint and I’m your fallen angel. Irong-irong

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Waiting in Vain | r.j. Weakening inside, crossing the bar. Where, what, WHO am I? Coup de Grace | e.d.e. Oh my God. Please. Dont shoot! I have a fam---Wake Up | e.d.e. Hot in here. It really ain’t nice being buried alive. Delilah | e.d.e. Windows. Silhouettes. Wife. Desire. Another. Rage. Smash. Gun. Point. BANG. Second Coming | j.b. Nalalapit na. Nakatakda na. Napatanong bigla, ako’y handa na ba? Hallucinogenic Nights | j.b. Night’s muted, levitating above my bed, “Dead-Awake, it ended. Isun-ad Danay Bag-o Selpon | a.n.p. HALA! OMG! Ang tinig-ang. Day ang paha sa likod mo! Heirarchy of Fears | a.n.p. Tultol-tika. Tiyanak, agta. Aswang, barang. Tiktik, hutik. LETTER OF REPRIMAND. Apir disa-FEAR | a.n.p. Siin kara nag-adto? Harun eon sa Hongkong, naga-isaeahanon ana dikato. Darker Side | r.m.m. Our inner battles, the biggest villains we ever come across. Fear-est Love of All | r.m.m. Falling for one who fell for another, my greatest fear. Creepy-Crawly | d.s. Spindly legs. Hairy thorax. Merciless eyes. Sharp fangs. A bite.

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X

FEARLESS

BRAVE

Rhett Vincent de la Rosa “As fiery as the words I write are those in my heart.“

Rodito Sevilla “Art is powerful. It allows us to shape and take form of the intangible.”

Marie-Noelle Angelie Seville “Hairy legs and stinky feet.”

Gerard Escudera “Wields words. Mightier than any sword.”

Cassi Lorddjohnne Usison “I deal with a lot of shit *literally* in the lab. You won’t be a problem.”

Jeanna Noelle Gonzales “I am a beautiful mess and I lost myself in a wonderland of madness.”

Kristah Louisse Perez “No matter how nice I may seem, no one was ever born as purely good.”

Ralph Laurenz Buot “I am the unexpected”

Mary Grace Caligan “I’m a chemist. Trust me, I know how to make you explode.” Stephanie Kay Urquiola “Thank you for not letting these fears consume me, your consistency amazes me.” Zoe Gwyneth Tan “Likes pineapple on pizza, anyone who thinks otherwise should fight me.” Jubill Roe Trance “I’m that guy that gives you hot sauce instead of ketchup.” Louie Mark Fuentes “Your will, my hands.” Zydrick Gencianeo “My inner demons are no longer inside. They came to life.” Franz Tantiongco “I am not the cookie cutter. I cut the cookie.” Renz Napoule Alcallaga “You may not know me but I know EVERYTHING about you.” Charmaine Frosa “Don’t.”

Quemel Charles Malte “They say sleeping is a cousin of death. Well, I’m always sleeping.” Aldrin John Talledo “Hmmm.. I’ll see what I can do.” Yvonne Mae Capatayan “If sleep is your drug, then I’m the police” Erick de la Piedra “Ako nga indi mapangaeanan kag ako nga indi makit-an.” Dana Nicole Lasanas “I solemnly swear that it is untrue that I am nothing but good.” Ayah Danica Granada “She’s the bomb LITERALLY.” Kent Louis Tomulto “Ever since I was little, I always envisioned myself following the footsteps of Michael Myers.” Mary Yvette Kaye Santuyo “I’ll consume you with words and kill you with kindness.” Jaira Theres Co “In darkness she find solace and in silence she finds peace.”


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Irong-Irong 11  

The Official Student Literary Folio of the University of San Agustin

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