HUMSS 11

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Let each dawn find us courageous, brought closer, heeding the lights before the fight is over.

Amanda Gorman

With the Dawn comes the beginning of a new day, a new chapter of one’s life. It marks the start of something great and brings light and hope to everyone who sees it. It cultivates new learnings and creativity, new ideas blooming and brought forth, triggered by positivity and growth.

With the theme of Dawn, the students of HUMSS 11 have showcased work that they are proud of, that allowed them to explore new ideas, grow, and bloom.



Coleen Afable

An Adaptation of Syrian Diary
21st Century Literature PBA 4

Syrian Diary by Claire Hajaj
Adapted by Coleen Afable

I.
The long road to Damascus
Paved again and again
On the heart of men
And over the heart of my mother
It’s a long path to walk
Longer alone

The beaten path 
Is paved and hard
At edges, cracked soil
I plant myself there, unmoving
I wait
And I wither

II.
Molasses time without the sugar
I think first of my mother
Then my sister
The road was long and straight
Only one way to go, too full
Now the path opens, too empty

Dear Lady
800 Dollars for a ghost of mine
You can find Apple computers in Damascus
Bassim Hamoud needs 800
800 for my life, my names
I don’t delay


III.
dont wory :)
That is what he said
Unlucky, then lucky again
Hamra, Beirut sings to me
The air swirls with 
Jasmine, petrol, argileh

The house cat roar of the motorbike
I duck past in a blur
My life comes first
Then the 800 dollars worth
Of a mirror of troubles
My heart—the unfinished book unravels

IV.
I beat my heart again and again with a stick
A grief I can hardly allow myself to feel
A shell, so hollow
Little death, I call it
I grieve once
And then I grieve again

600 dollars
A good scam, I’m told
Because I am desperate
And they are clever
They hold my ghost over my head
And taunt me into taking it

V.
This end of the street 
Bassim Hamoud cuts a deal—600 only
The other end
Bigger machinations go on
My ghost crosses a gorge
One end full, other end empty

I put the book back together
House cat roars are not for me anymore
The road of hearts of men and mothers
Is still a lonely path to travel
The little death
Is only just one of many

-C. A.
The Right Side of The Mirror (That Doesn’t Look Back)
The Right Side of The Mirror (That Doesn’t Look Back)
Creative Writing PBA 2
Coleen Afable 


          “You don’t have to do this.”

          The young man untying the rope from the pier looks up. He’s handsome, features high and aristocratic, and it makes him look colder than he is. Despite that, there is the softness of youth in his cheeks, and the flash of warmth in his eyes, glacial blue and razor sharp. 

          Young man is appropriate in two different ways. Firstly, he’s young, sixteen winters and seventeen in the next year—that is shockingly young when one thinks about it long enough. Secondly, he is on the cusp of adulthood, of that fragile transition from youth to the lack of it. 

          He smiles, white teeth flashing for a second before he speaks. “I think I will.”

          “Can I stop you?” The person speaking to him is younger. Like him, she has the same, regal features. They contrast each other well. Her hair falls over her shoulder like an inky silk scarf, perfectly straight, glossy, so dark it sucks in light. Her eyes are as green as the emeralds inlaid in her diadem.

          Unlike her, his hair is the color of freshly fallen snow, a little shorter than hers but braided back as is custom for the men of their people to do so. The circlet adorning his hair is thin and silver, the aquamarines the same color as his eyes, a royal identifier.

          The young man stands up. He’s very tall though not gangly, instead graceful and steady as he rises, dusting off his reddened hands. “Not really, no,” he tells the girl. “Though I know you would if I would allow it.”

          “You’re the Crown Prince, you get to do whatever you want,” she tells him, taking a step forward and snatching the collar of his shirt in her hand, twisting it and tugging down until her knuckles are white and he is bent over, and they are at eye-level, so he is no longer looking down at her. “If you die, I will kill you.” She’s not sincere in these words, but the flicker of worry that flashes in her eyes is a telling sign.

          “Is that not patruelicide, my dear cousin?” he asks her humorously. “And regicide. My, aren’t we starting young?”

          She shoves him back, letting go of his collar in a pique of annoyance. “Don’t go. You’ll die out there. You don’t have to do this stupid ritual.”

          “We are royalty,” he tells her. Unlike her, he doesn’t have the casual tone. Only matter-of-fact, only calm. It fills her with a despairing sort of frustration. “And if I die because of this so-called stupid ritual, then I am stupid-er, and that is not a good show for the nobility and the people. We must be their role models, Alichka.”

          She looks back up at him when he says her name.

          “Obviously they like it because they want you dead, Seong,” she tells him, like he doesn’t know that already. This is the thousandth time they’ve discussed this. 

          They want you dead. They want you gone. First your sister, then your father, then your mother, then you, Seong. You are the head of a new ruling family. Of course they want you dead. Are you going to let them kill you?

          It’s the same every time. It gets old.

          Like they haven’t killed your parents too, Alichka. Don’t be hypocritical. 

          “I know,” he tells her placatingly. “Don’t worry. I will be back. I will show them that not even a god can kill me.”

          “I hate your stupid ritual.”

          “You will have to undergo it when you are of age, like I do now. Just three more years. It’s such fun waiting, isn’t it?” he asks her, voice light with amusement once again. Still, it’s guarded. Steady. Practiced. She almost believes it. 

          Alichka hates how he manages to do that every time. Serious, joking, inscrutable, insufferable. 

          “Don’t die out there,” she tells Seong again, eyes cast down before her gaze returns to meet him, unflinching in her insistence. “Come back. You promised me you would protect me from the court. Who will protect me if you die now?”

          He gives her a smile. For once, there’s the flicker of something real there. 

           “From the day your parents died, I’ve been teaching you to protect yourself.”  -C. A.
The Stranded Star: An Analysis
The Stranded Star: An Analysis
21st Century Literature PBA 3
by Coleen Afable 



          The Stranded Star is an eye-opening text that delves into the other side of the typical stolen-magic-woman mythos. It puts a modern twist on this quintessential, misogynistic mythos, exploring the complicated lines of myth and magic blurring with the difficulty of relationships, motivations, and reality. 

          Despite having a more modern theme, the story (almost a retelling of many old alamats) is set in what seems to be a rural village, perhaps during the early Hispanic times, as evidenced by numerous points in the text using “village” instead of “barrio” and how she washes in a river, yet also has candles and lamp oil to use. The story leans on this deeply historical setting to convey the long old and now lost technique of getting yourself a wife: tricking her into living with you by taking her freedom from her. Freedom, in this context, is illustrated in the wings taken from Nova’s mother. 

          Of the various characters in the story, there are specific ones that stand out—these are Nova, her mother, her father, and the stars. Nova is the typical pre-Hispanic Filipina village beauty with “hair only as black as the finest, rarest kamagong wood … eyes only as brown as the richest, purest barako coffee … skin only as glowing as the most precious, perfect pearls” accompanied by an unbelievable level of modesty. She finds her beauty to be nothing in comparison to her mother’s, but Nova knows that she is, of course, hardworking and sweet-natured. 

          This information sneakily imbues the classic damsel archetype into the text—not delicately beautiful but magically fierce like a ‘Maria-Something’ yet still a classic in universal literature. Nova’s mother, however, seems to impart a different image. It is explicitly mentioned in the first paragraph that “Nova’s mother was the most beautiful thing anyone anywhere had ever seen … This was not only what Nova thought; it was what almost everybody knew … who liked to sit below the large front window of Nova’s house in the evenings, to save on candles and lamp oil by doing their sewing by the light of her mother’s beauty.’ 

          What does this first, introductory paragraph mean to show? It is clear that Nova’s mother is something of myth and magic, someone not quite human. How can people sew in the light of a mere woman’s beauty? Nova’s mother is certainly not some mere woman. The exposition of a pair of mystical wings comes to show that Nova’s mother was a star, which explains her supposed ‘glowing light.’ 

          Interestingly enough, the wings were hidden in the ceiling of their house, intentionally kept there to collect dust for as long as it could until Nova discovered it. There is something symbolic in her discovery. The wings are not hers, but her mother’s wings, and she, Nova, found them. Here lies the knowledge of the past, of freedom and lost things, and it is Nova who has found them. She learns of her father’s deception here, of how he tricked and trapped her mother who eventually grew compliant. Would Nova have existed if her mother found her wings earlier on? Would Nova have grown motherless had her mother discovered her wings a long time ago? These questions are left unanswered but in foreign stories, such as those of stranded selkies and mermaids, the women always left, one way or another.

          Even in this tale, Nova’s mother leaves, albeit with her. Nova gains her wings from her mother’s wings—she gained her freedom from her mother’s freedom. Unknowingly, but perhaps to his benefit, her father had trapped her on the earth just as he had tied her mother down. Nova learns the difference between man and star, how they see men as small and insignificant, not all unique and represented merely by Nova’s mother’s experience. 

          In a twist, Nova did not passively accept this and merely become a sort of mythical representative or ambassador for both stars and humans. Instead, she confronted her father. This subversive retelling of the accepting woman and the unpunished man has this narrative turned on its head when his logic is questioned and proven to be incorrect. It’s a delightful scene from a critic’s point of view—the man of the story admits his fault, and Nova admits the stars’ lack of care towards the not-so-nuanced nuances of the inhabitants of the world below them. 

          It becomes clearer—the stars’ heavenly beauty and role keep them from understanding humanity (specifically men, who they brand liars) and this keeps Nova from assimilating with them, whose human characteristics of being sweet-natured and hardworking were her source of pride as she lacked the beauty of her star mother. Her anger at her father, though, had kept her high in the heavens until she was ready to speak. Nova’s humanity marks her as separate and different from the stars in their cool, almost callous attitude towards anything less important than them. 

          It is in the following scene that the story presents a genuine possibility of a romantic connection. Not brought about by desperation or blindness to good and bad choices, but because Nova learned from her mother’s experience. The story presents growth and change despite the typical ‘damsel archetype in an alamat’ setting. She stresses the value of character beyond beauty, and the underlying meaning here is clear: I am human just like you, I may be beautiful, but I am not an object you can steal. It isn’t elaborated upon nor stated so bluntly but even merely reading between the lines is enough to pull this notion from the intricately woven themes in this story.

          The end of the tale has Nova almost replacing her mother’s light, bringing brightness to the town in the dark. Only, as the tale reiterates, again and again, her humanity shines through, and she socializes with those who bask in the heavenly light of her star wings. 

          The story is a subversive take on so many Filipino folk-tales, dismantling many archetypes and bringing life to the characters, giving them motivations and believable reactions despite the few lines of dialogue or off-handed mention. The theme lies in the internal beauty of humanity and the value of heritage—in love, freedom, and learning. It very much is a love story; a love story between men and stars, between freedom and beauty. 

          Ultimately, it is a retelling of our old stories, making myth and magic both human and believable by placing it in the hands of a half-human, half-star girl.  -C. A.
Why We Must Pick Our Poisons
Why We Must Pick Our Poisons
Disciplines and Ideas in Social Sciences PBA 3
by Coleen Afable 



          How would we be able to solve poverty with Marxism? Poverty, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions.” According to a report by Mapa (2019) for the Philippine Statistics Authority, people who live in poverty are those who live below the poverty threshold, which is the minimum level of income deemed adequate in a country, as well as those whose per capita income is not sufficient to meet their basic food and non-food needs. 

          First, we must examine the causes of poverty and its different manifestations in society. Then, we need to look at an example of a state with little to no poverty that operates on Marxist ideals. Then, lastly, we need to apply Marxism as a solution to poverty. Due to the scope of poverty, it would be easier to focus on specific causes, manifestations, actors, and potential solutions. 

          There are two types of poverty, the first being absolute poverty. This compares a person’s income to the cost of physiological needs and whether they can afford it. The second type is relative poverty is based on the minimum cost of living in a certain location and whether a person meets this compared to people who live in the same place and time as them. This means relative poverty can vary based on locality, region, country, and continent. It can also vary from one society to another, whose cultures may dictate a certain standard of living.

          According to a research in 2019 by Roser and Ortiz-Ospina, most of the people in the world live in poverty. Figures show that 85% of the world live on less than USD 30 per day (PHP 1502), two thirds live on less than USD 10 per day (PHP 500.70), and one in ten live on less than USD 1.90 (PHP 95.13). Faced with these glaring statistics, it would be difficult to deny the massive impact of this on human development. With this knowledge in mind, it can be certainly said that one can have too much money. 

          Despite the prevalence of poverty, it’s extraordinarily difficult to find non-polarizing and non-romanticized media about it. Many of those above the poverty line cannot connect with the reality of being unable to fulfill one’s basic needs. If this manifestation of poverty is already difficult to visualize for people above the poverty line—more specifically those who are in and above the working class—then how much more the other different indications of poverty? 

          Poverty is caused by many different factors, but the most impactful causes are inequality and marginalization. Discrimination, history, and culture can cause poverty. It is almost always deep-rooted and very rarely caused by the affected groups. Naturally, conflict is intertwined here, but it’s not always the case. 

          Like many other societal problems, this manifests in many ways. Three key manifestations of poverty are a lack of education, higher rates of teenage pregnancy, and higher child mortality rates. A lack of education causes and is caused by poverty, stemming from an inability to afford education and/or prioritizing short-term survival over long-term prosperity. This brings about a cyclical dilemma and it’s almost like a case of the chicken and the egg.

          Higher rates of teenage pregnancy are almost always caused by a lack of sex education, which is essential to anyone. Teenage pregnancy then causes those teens to stop studying, and they enter the workforce much later or not at all—if the teen has parents who can afford to raise her child, then they are lucky. If not, they have three options, all of which can be severely limited or completely eliminated due to cultural practices and religious beliefs. These are keeping the child, giving the child up for abortion, or aborting it. Teenage pregnancy contributes to overpopulation which massively affects climate change and global warming. Everything just snowballs here and onwards. 

          Higher child mortality rates are a telling sign of poverty. Countries with lower child mortality rates boast better healthcare systems. It’s telling when the government cannot even help its people keep their children alive. This is also cyclical, because higher child mortality is caused by poverty, and the most commonplace reaction to higher child mortality such uncertainty is having more offspring to ensure the survival of the lineage. This, then, makes it likelier for people to be unable to provide basic needs to their too-many children.

          All of these are cyclical dilemmas. Everything is a cause and effect of poverty, and it seems like an inescapable loop of suffering for the victims, an incurable blight of society. Something we can try to minimize but never erase. Unless…?

          Enter East Germany. It existed from 1949 - 1990 for just a little over two decades. East Germany existed in a perpetual state of economic limbo. Its effects can still be felt to this day as, geographically, it economically lags behind the democratic West Germany. A satellite Soviet socialist state, it operated on Marxist properties, and despite being way behind the rest of Western, capitalist Europe (and the world!), it was the most economically successful state of the Eastern Bloc. 

          It was known for having a close-to-zero poverty rate, and according to primary sources, this was true. Why did this happen? Eastern Germany was more or less state-owned. Private ownership may as well have been a myth and they had a community-centered culture. Food and housing, major physiological needs, were not difficult to come by as the government made them accessible for a very low price. However, due to the low price and the intrinsic nature of Marxism, what is for one is the same for all. Variety was what was in scarcity.

          Many, many things happened in East Germany that will not be discussed further in this essay, but there was a certain degree of lack of freedom as an East German denizen. They were forever to be the working class with little choice, that is, until the wall went down.

          Applying what we have learned from this brief history lesson, we can assume that it is possible to solve poverty to an extent with Marxism. The issue then lies in several factors, such as that to solve poverty Marxism, Marxist principles must apply, and it inherently goes against capitalism, which is much more popular than communism (the last stage of Marxism). We cannot convince all poverty-stricken countries to change their methods. This is a concession that we can only solve this problem to a certain degree. Another is that the last stage of Marxism is communism, which calls for a totalitarian government. If we can learn from the mistakes of the people before us, then tyrants can learn from them too—what is stopping some developing country from becoming the next Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, given its former track record?

          Let’s face it: we will never solve poverty. Marxism is a flawed system that relies on totalitarianism at the hands of a potential tyrant and the expense of the people bound to their country geographically and financially. There are much better alternatives that we aren’t looking into, like eating the rich. Kidding aside, we cannot turn to a system that has failed us time and time again. Capitalism may be selfish and could even be even more inherently harmful than Marxism. Capitalism doesn’t give us visions of a prosperous utopia, Marxism does. But at the end of the day, Capitalism allows you to choose your tyrants and pick your poisons. We should choose the ones that pull people out of the pain of poverty.  -C. A.


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Citations:

“hacker.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, 2021. Web. 20 September 2021.

Roser, Max, and Esteban Ortiz-Ospina. “Global Extreme Poverty.” Our World in Data, 2019, doi:https://ourworldindata.org/extreme-poverty.

“What's the Difference between Socialism vs. Communism?” Dictionary.com, Dictionary.com, 19 Jan. 2021, www.dictionary.com/e/socialism-vs-communism/.

“Leninism.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., www.britannica.com/topic/Leninism.

“Marxism.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., https://www.britannica.com/topic/Marxism.

“socialism.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., https://www.britannica.com/topic/socialism.

“socialism.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.,https://www.britannica.com/topic/communism.

Schuetz, Jens. "Jen Schuetz's Answer to Did poverty exist in East Germany (the GDR)?" Quora. 18 January 2018. Web. 21 September 2021.

Sommer, Liz. “Guillotine, 'Eat the Rich' & Class Warfare Memes.” StayHipp, 10 Apr. 2020, stayhipp.com/internet/memes/guillotine-eat-the-rich-class-warfare-memes/.

Mapa, Claire S. “Proportion of Poor Filipinos Was Estimated at 16.6 Percent in 2018.” Philippine Statistics Authority, Republic of The Philippines, 6 Dec. 2019, psa.gov.ph/poverty-press-releases/nid/144752.


Sophia Alinea

Pearl of the Orient Seas
Pearl of the Orient Seas
Creative Writing PBA 2
by Sophia Alinea


          “A psalm of life!” The two of them heard as their bodies automatically got themselves on the ground. It was the end of the performance. 

          “Water break!” they heard and got themselves to stand up. Mary went to her water bottle on the bleacher, drinking it all up as if her mouth was a dry desert. 

          “You were great back there, but it hurt your throat too much.” A girl stated; it was Ashley.

          The two talked a bit, Ashley still talking about El Filibusterismo and still fangirling about it. “You got too addicted to these, we didn’t even finish Florante at Laura yet.” Mary chuckled. The older one looked around the school, it was dark and a little late for dinner time. Then one thing caught her eye, a dark figure ran swiftly through the halls from the third floor, it was heading to a balcony known as “The Tagaytay.”

          “Ashley, look! Something is up there in the halls, do you see it?” then the younger one looked at the direction Mary was looking at, “I do! Let’s check it out!”

          “But we’re going to continue with the practi-”	

          “Let’s chase it, come on!” Ashley said before pulling Mary and running off towards the figure.

          The two quickly climbed their way up to the third floor, darkness nearly engulfing them, but they kept running. The mysterious figure stopped at Tagaytay.

          The light from the outside revealed that the figure was a man in a suit and an old-fashioned fedora. "Who is that?" asked Mary "I don't know, but let's go to him!" The two quietly skipped through the hallways towards the open space, where the HS building and Elementary building met, and stayed quiet until they got to the man. His back was facing them, but he did know that they're behind him, still running. 

          So, the man walked around the corner, the darkness engulfing his whole body. The two followed him slowly, but they noticed something changed. It was the aura of the place. "W-what happened?" Ashley looked around. The school night's atmosphere became like somewhere from the 1800s. The school windows turned into windows with wooden sliding doors and the roof into a slate roof from the 1800s.

          The two maidens peeked, and there they saw a man with old-fashioned Spain outfit fighting a man who was holding a bolo. It was. Lapu-Lapu? "I can't believe what I'm seeing right now." Seeing this made them panic, they're not dreaming, aren't they? The younger one went back to Tagaytay, then the atmosphere changed again, but now it's back to where they left off. Ashley looked at the court, Newton still having their water break. Mary soon followed her, also noticing the change of aura.

          "Woah, I really can't believe this." Ashley stayed speechless, she looked around the area only to see a white handkerchief on the ground with a name on it. She examined the object, the name was in a perfect cursive font. 'Pepe' "What if this is a border? Or maybe a gateway of some sort...” 

          "It must be, but we must be dreaming too."

          "Want me to punch y-" 

          "No, don't do that! Ash, if this is a dream... Well, I don't want to wake up.", the older one stated. They both looked at the corner, then to each other. Going back to where they went, the aura changed once again when they turned to the corner. The hallway was cleared with the ground's material changed into wood, they decided to walk while looking at the windows, and their faces watched the fight in Mactan with awe.

          "I can't believe this whole scene can fit into an empty room of six graders.” Mary mumbled. They proceeded to the next room, and there they saw three priests getting arrested, by what seems to be Spaniards. It was the GomBurZa, the three martyrs that angered Filipinos against the Spain colonization.

          Ashley looked away; she always feels uncomfortable whenever she sees people dying. Mary noticed it, so she decided to proceed with the next one. Next were the grade 5 rooms, which the first one contained a dark room with the light focused on the center of the room, showing a table surrounded by armed men and a red flag with the KKK plastered on the center. In the center stood a man holding a piece of paper, it was Andres Bonifacio and his people.

          "Punitin ang cedula!” the two of them smiled while walking. In that very moment, they knew that the Filipinos are now free from the Spain colonization and are no longer slaves under the Spain Government.

          In the next room lay a man who was sitting on some old-fashioned wheelchair, and seemed to be paralyzed, he was holding a piece of paper. Something was also sitting on top of the table beside him; it was entitled: 'El Verdadero Decalogo'.

 	"The True Decalogue." Ashley mumbled in awe while walking, eyes still looking at what's on top of the table. "He will always be a hero, a sublime." Moving on to the next, they heard explosions and swordfights. Both peeked inside the next room, only to see an army of Spaniards fighting with a whole group of Filipinos with Bonifacio holding a red flag.

 	Mary decided to go near Ashley, who was peeking through another room. She turned to the direction Ashley was looking at, and there she saw a man who was crying while writing poems inside a jail cell. 

          "O, wag mo akong kakalimutan, aking sinta, patawarin mo ako mahal kong Selya!" 

          It was Francisco Baltazar, still writing and working on the first Obra Maestra. Mary looked at her with wide eyes, the other girl still staring at the man with the weak smile.

          "Balagtas, it was really nice and painful to see him writing his masterpiece with all his feelings for her,'' said Ashley. "Speaking of which, is it true that Rizal got his inspiration from Balagtas when he was writing Noli Me Tangere?” Mary asked her while walking towards the last room from the second floor.

          "Yup! According to Ms. Demate, he did." the girl answered while skipping happily towards the room.  "Oh, so that's why...” Mary mumbled while looking down, still examining the wooden floor which was filled with... Blood?

          "And speaking of Rizal, here he is now.” the jumpy maiden stopped and stared blankly through the window. The older one went towards the room, eager to see their national hero.  The room has the setting where the soldiers shot Rizal in his platform, but there was no Rizal to be found.

          "B-but where is he?"  "I don't know, I'm not sure. Isn't he supposed to be here?" Mary asked.  "He is, maybe he...escaped?" Ashley answered while going down the staircase, leading them to the final floor.

          Before walking towards the 3rd graders' room, one of them stopped and took a glance at what's behind them. It was an area under the school's stairs, used to be a pile of the school CAT's guns, but what they saw were no fake guns.

          "Ash, look at this.” Mary pointed at the caged area.  "It's full of guns, and it's full of... Blood?” the younger asked while walking slowly towards the caged area.  It was the place where Spaniards and Prayles pile up their weapons, and some of these are used to kill "Rizal?"  Mary turned around, seeing the man in the suit earlier. She walked near him, until she was now beside Ashley.   "What is the meaning of all of this? Not in a mean way but why is this happening-"

          "It's a dream, get used to it."  The man in the suit looked down and sighed, "I need you two to see this.” The two nodded and decided to follow him. They headed towards the locker room, but there were still two more rooms left. "What else are you going to show us? It's just two rooms left." 

          "Exactly, two more rooms with two special things you two need to know.” the man said before opening the door of the first one.  "Woah, didn't know we can go through the ro- oh wow.” Ashley widened her eyes in shock. 

          Mary looked at the center of the dark room, the spotlight making two books stand out from the dark. It was his two famous novels, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo.  Mary asked, "Why are you showing these to us?"  Rizal smiled and said, "It was one of the special points of this little tour, to show you the two of the three masterpieces that opened the eyes and the minds of the Filipinos."  

          The two nodded, but Ashley wondered, "What do you mean 'two out of three'? You mean there's another book?" 

          "No, my child, for it is not a book. Come, and I'll show you the last masterpiece." Rizal told them, and they followed him outside.  They were headed to the last room, the room near the locker room, and it was different from the other ones.  Its walls were somehow cemented, the door was not wood in material anymore and the windows are filled with glass with two blue blinds that are half lifted, showing what was inside. 

          The two girls went near it, and there they saw their section, 8 - Newton. Most of them were studying, some of them were writing, a few of them were sleeping because of exhaustion and one of them was just eating.  

          Mary wondered, "How and why did we become one of your masterpieces, Rizal?"  He placed his two hands on their shoulders and chuckled, "You still don't get it do you?"  The two looked at each other before looking back at him with confused faces, "What do you mean?" "Your section symbolizes youth, and just like my two novels, all of you can open the minds and the eyes of the millennials today. Not just individually, but as a team. And despite all of the challenges, the problems and misunderstandings, you will always find a way to fix it, as a family." 

          Ashley smiled and looked down, there was a quill on the ground. "Oh, so that's why."  Mary smiled at the man, she then looked back at the room. She saw herself stressing while studying some subject, but she then smiled, knowing that she'll make it someday. "Someday, our hard work will pay off." she muttered. 

 	"Rizal, are we really dreaming? When can we see you again?" Ashley asked as she looked up from the ground.

        "Well there's only one way to find out." Rizal stated before snapping his fingers.  Mary opened her eyes, she found herself back in their classroom. It seemed like she fell asleep, "So it is a dream." was all she could say. Mary stood up, then an object fell from her lap. She looked down, it was a book, "El Filibusterismo?"  She looked at the other side of the room, only to find Ashley who was sleeping with her head laying on an open book.

 	Mary knew Ashley began reading Noli Me Tangere, but how can a book of El Fili be on her table when she didn't even borrow one from the library?  She looked around, she noticed that they were the only ones left. Then she heard the bell ring, it was time for their Flag Retreat.

 	"Hey Ash, wake up!"  The younger looked up in exhaustion, her eyes still tired of reading. Ashley pouted, "I was just having a crazy dream, why did you wake me up?" she squinted her eyes and stood up. "Me too, but we need to go." Mary stated before grabbing her things, "By the way, why did you put your borrowed books on my table?”  Ashley raised her eyebrow, "What book? I only borrowed Noli."  

          They both widened their eyes, they looked on the teacher's desk in the front of the room. Mary muttered, "This can't be...”  They both went near the table, only to find a quill and a handkerchief with a name on it. 

 	"Pepe?" 

 	They both looked at each other.

 	"Don't tell me... you've had the same dream as me?"  

 	They both looked on the blackboard, there were words written on it in a fancy calligraphy style.

  	'Ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan.'  

          Mary was speechless, she then looked at the elementary building. Children were going out of their rooms with their bags getting pulled towards the gate, her eyes then laid on a group of students waiting in the court. 

 	"Woah, I can't believe this really happened." Ashley blurted out, before going out of the room.  Mary followed, "Ash, we can't just leave these here."  Ashley nodded, "I know, but we need to get to Newton first." 

          "Why? What are we going to do?"  Ashley looked at Tagaytay. She smiled when she saw a man in the suit, who was waving at them with a wide smile. 

          "There you are!" one of their classmates stated while going up in the staircase, with more of their classmates going up behind him.  Mary smiled and said, "You guys won't believe what happened!"  

          Her words made them confused, they looked at each other then back to the two.  Ashley looked back where they first recognized Rizal, “Guys, we're going on a little fieldtrip.” - S. A.
Speak Your Truth
Speak Your Truth
Creative Writing PBA 3
by Sophia Alinea


	A community of 100,000 animals located in the island of Maui is set to elect a new leader 3 months from now. Populations from the colony of ants to the pack of lions also kicked off with the campaign season for local positions. One of the citizens residing in Pobla, the city with the most voters, is a young cub named Grizz. Despite not being eligible to vote yet, Grizz is very aware and is well updated with the progressions of current events in their communities. He is rather a curious bear who would ask about the election process and arguments made by candidates about policies. 

	As expected during the filing of candidacy a month ago, there were two frontrunners for being the leader of the community.  The candidate who placed 1st in the surveys one month into the campaign is Mr. Crocs Jr. and following him in 2nd place is the opposition candidate Mrs. Rose. Grizz became confused with this situation and so he asked his mother the reason behind it. “Mr. Crocs Jr. is a known descendant of Mr. Crocs Sr., a former leader who caused famine to this island 3 decades ago. Why would people want another person like him to be seated and risk the entire island again?”, asked Grizz to his mother. “Look outside and tell me what you see.” It was snack time for many while they were talking to each other. Traditionally, animals would hang around sari-sari stores and converse on what is the talk in the town. “It’s been a while since I saw Bergens out in the sun, what about them?”, said Grizz. “Well you see, Bergens have been campaigning for Mr. Crocs Jr. but unfortunately they tweaked many details about his past including not contributing his due to the winter food inventory for 4 years straight. To keep it simple for you, they have been spreading misinformation through the whole island.”, explained Mama Bear. Grizz became intimidated on approaching the Bergens be he also observed that the talkative Parrots were backing them saying that the life of they grandfathers during Mr. Crocs Sr.’s regime was peaceful. 

	Grizz waited for the Bergens to walk away from the store. He then approached the parrots to have a little talk. Regardless of having a contrasting belief, he was open to other narratives. The parrots went on one by one flaunted the abundant life their grandparents had during Mr. Crocs regime and dismissed the stories about the torture and suffering the majority went through saying that their families didn’t experience it. Hesitant to join the situation, Grizz went on a milder note and said “I’m pretty sure some of you saw our visitors, the doves, who had to migrate recently because of a volcano eruption in another island. We, the community of Maui, didn’t experience first-hand what they did. But, we are also not entitled to disregard and forget about the people who did suffer because of the eruption. Just because we were unaffected by an event doesn’t mean that it isn’t real.”. “Kid…” sighed Iago, “You are way too young for this and guess what? You don’t have a say in this either since you’re not voting anyways. The best thing you could come up with now is changing our minds and telling you what… that’s not happening.”. “Tell you what also,” replied Grizz. “Ever heard of the future? The entire island’s future is at stake and of course that includes mine. Besides, may I ask why vote for Mr. Crocs Jr. when you could vote for Mrs. Rose?”, said Grizz. “Not even an option.”, stressed Zazu.

	“Then what if I ask the opposite, Why not her? She’s an owl, one of the smartest in the land! She also proved her leadership skills in East Maui.”, said Grizz. “What would you expect from a female leader? Give her power and it won’t fit her because she’s used to being weak.” said Zazu. “Dang… It’s the 21st century and sexism still exists.”, whispered Wei, the turtle, who was spectating. “Maybe if you tried saying that to your own mother… I don’t get why we should limit empowerment based on gender.”, said Boots, the store owner. Smelling tension, Grizz felt the need to make an excuse to go home and cut the discussion short. 

	Mama Bear saw his exhaustion and felt the need to comfort Grizz saying he did what he could. “We are on the fortunate side since the family is well off. Me and your father, along with other relatives, are not even voting for ourselves anymore. The poor would be the most affected on whoever wins and will be the ones to face the consequences if Mr. Crocs Jr. wins, which is very much my concern.” said Mama Bear. - S. A. 

Christopher Apolinario, Jr.

Last Summer Whisper
Last Summer Whisper 
Creative Writing PBA 2
by Christopher Apolinario, Jr. 


          A voice and a smell that emanates nostalgia. 
          She is someone extremely important to me, and there's no room between us. We're nearly inseparable from one another. I'm completely unaffected by anxiety or loneliness, like a baby cradled at its mother's breast. I'm filled with a tingling, delightfully pleasant sensation. 
          Abruptly, I open my eyes. 
          The clock is ticking. 
          I’m at my desk, in the rear of hours struggling with schoolworks. And all that for another repetitive day. After all, they all have always been the same. I’m alone. 
          In an empty room. 
          I came to a realization that it has been only a dream. 
          The sensation of togetherness that had encompassed me just now fades in seconds, leaving no trace, no residue. The tears come so suddenly that I don’t even have time to compose a thought before they trickle. 
          It has been like this every so often when I wake up. 
          Tearing up, once again I thought:

          Who are you?

          The days are flying by. 
          The sky is cloudy and pallid in the Christmas season. There are a hundred people every car, a thousand people per train, and millions of people crisscrossing the metropolis. 
          And it’ll be over when i realize, just as always, when I look out over those streets... 

          I’m searching for someone.. 
          And so I made some type of resolution once, fuelled by strong emotions. Questioning my own cruelty on failing to recall someone so dear to myself. 
          There were periods in my life when I was beset by tragedy, but there were also good times. Even though many claim that life is nothing more than a dream, I was glad for mine. At daybreak, the air is crisp and cool. The lovely wind just as the flowers begin to bloom,...and the aroma of sunset that fills the air at sundown. Every day was breathtakingly beautiful. Even though I’m having a hard time right now, I acknowledge that I have the right to appreciate this every day. Life is still worth living even if one regular day is followed by another ordinary day and another routine day. I will not be lamenting the past or fretting about the future. I will live this day and the day after and after...magnificently. 

          But...when should I move on? 
          
          You’re still breathtakingly beautiful. 
          How could I forget? 
          Just a little longer.. 
          You would still remain unforgotten in my mind. 
          From tomorrow on, we will spend our days separated somewhere in this town. So, as long as we're alive, I feel that we can meet. And I think about it with a smile.
          The days are accelerating. 
          Where do human memories reside? 
          Are they in the brain's synaptic circuitry? Do memories exist in the retinas and fingers as well? Is there an unseen, amorphous, mistlike spiritual collective someplace where the memories are kept. Something we'd refer to as the heart, mind, or soul. Is it something you can remove and replace, like a memory card with an operating system? 
          Looking out the jeepney window, I lean against it. The city is bustling with people, who can be seen through the windows of buildings, in cars, and on pedestrian bridges. There are a hundred people every car, a thousand people per train, and millions of people crisscrossing the metropolis. I make my wish while gazing, just a little longer. 

          In an instant with no warning whatsoever, I see her. 

          I finally know what I’ve been searching for. I'd been wandering and happened to notice a rare butterfly native to a single isolated island by some strange astrological coincidence. 
          It's not the first time we've met. Or that could just be my imagination. It may simply be a hunch, or it could be a dream. It might be an illusion, similar to past lives. Nonetheless, I—we—wanted to spend a bit more time together. We want to spend a bit more time together. 
          
          We finally met. Just as I thought that I’m about to burst into tears, I realize that I already am. And with this, we both smile as we cry. 
          The summer air carries with it all sorts of apprehension and anticipation, and I draw a deep breath.
          The town's lights begin to flicker softly after the summer rain. Forgive me. I contacted you after we said our goodbyes, but hey, I wanted to see you at that shop one more time, and then we'd call it a day. 

          We both open our mouths at once. 
          We say jointly, like children who have decided to go on the count of three:

          I missed you.  - C. A. 


Claudia Viness Argana

The Cause and Effects of Using Plastic
The Cause and Effects of Using Plastic 

Science PBA1
by Claudia Viness Argana 


          “Plastics are man-made, non-metallic polymers of high molecular weight, made up from repeating macromolecules” (GESAMP 2010).  Plastics are used in our daily life to contain items such as groceries, food, equipments and  basically, we are surrounded by plastic: car materials / parts, water bottles,  plastic covers ,  kitchenware, and many more. A study shows that we produce about 380 million tons of plastic every year, with some sources estimating that up to half of it is for single-use reasons — used for only a few seconds yet remaining on the earth for at least several hundreds of years. Every year, more than 10 million tons of plastic are projected to be poured into our seas (plastic oceans.org, 2021).   This article will assist us in understanding the causes and effects that  are associated with the use of plastics, as well as the underlying issues and possibilities that can be beneficial for future objectives.

          Plastics are being thrown in the wrong places all over the world. According to environmentalists, plastic may persist in the ecosystem for a long time, harming wildlife and spreading contaminants. Plastic also contributes to global warming. Likewise, global warming and pollution have emerged as the world's most pressing challenges. One example is when we discard plastic wrappers or little pieces of trash on the street or in the ocean. It has the potential to injure and endanger numerous species, notably sea animals, flora and wildlife, and most importantly, it poses a significant risk to mankind.
 
          Water pollution is produced by trash and debris dumped into bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, seas, and oceans. This dangerous and reckless behavior affects water wildlife such as fishes , turtles, crabs, dolphins, whales, seals, and many others. Furthermore, according to available data, tourist and recreational activities have also been identified as important causes of marine and coastal plastic deposition in the ocean and coastal ecosystems. As per Thushari et al. (2017b), tourist and recreation-related activities account for more than 60% of beach trash on selected beaches on Thailand's eastern coast. Plastic garbage washes up on beaches and enters the water as microplastic pieces and secondary plastics (Cole et al., 2011). 

           The  improper use and disposal of plastics can cause land pollution and can  harmfully affect  the fauna and flora. The first field research to investigate how the presence of microplastics affects soil fauna was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society in 2020. According to the article, terrestrial microplastic pollution has resulted in a drop in species that dwell below the surface, such as mites, larvae, and other microscopic organisms that keep the ground fertile.

          Air pollution caused by plastics especially when burnt  is extremely poisonous.  Chemical impacts are particularly troublesome during the breakdown stage. The combustion of plastics emits harmful chemicals into the atmosphere, including dioxins, furans, mercury, and polychlorinated biphenyls (BCPs), posing a threat to flora as well as human and animal health. When plastic is burned, it produces black carbon (soot), which contributes to climate change and air pollution ( UN Program,  2019). 

          Furthermore, cleaning of plastic materials are highly expensive. According to research issued by the wildlife charity WWF, the pollution, emissions, and clean-up expenses of plastic generated in 2019 alone may reach $3.7 trillion, warning of the environmental and economic price of this "apparently inexpensive" substance ( First Post , 2021). Additionally, plastics improperly disposed disrupts the food chain. The vermin scent the food in our improperly discarded plastic containers. The plastic becomes permanently entrenched in the animal's digestive tract, causing malnutrition or death. Birds, on the other hand, make their nests out of plastic rather than twigs from trees. And, without even realizing it, their nestlings may chew on the plastic, which might lead to their death.  

          Considering the widespread problem , there is an urgent need for a reassessment of the world's core aims and ambitions, without ignoring the effects for economies, society, and, most importantly, the environment. Begin to recognize the need of minimizing plastic leaks and reducing the number of plastics such as medical waste, plastic gloves, and the like. Plastic pollution has a harmful impact on the environment, including the air, water, and land. Human health is intertwined with environmental and ecological health. Scientists must have an ethical commitment to produce plastic materials that take into account the environment's and ecosystem's safety. The government should strictly enforce rules and limitations on the manufacturing and usage of plastics.  It is true that plastics are incredibly convenient to use and it is a profitable industry. However, the three R's should always be considered: reduce reuse and recycle. New sustainable ideas can be proposed so that people can make better choices for their homes, offices, and businesses, along with many other places. Finally, individuals should get involved and be educated about today's problems in order to stimulate progress and suggest solutions for future generations.

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REFERENCES 

     Conserve Energy Future , 2022 , What is Pollution?
Causes, Effects and Incredible Solutions to Plastic Pollution You’ll Wish You’d Known
Friends of The Earth , 2019 June, Plastic Pollution , How to Reduce Plastic in the Ocean , https://friendsoftheearth.uk/plastics GESAMP (2010, IMO/FAO/UNESCO-IOC/UNIDO/WMO/IAEA/UN/UNEP Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection); BOWMER T. and KERSHAW P.J. (Eds), 2010. Proceedings of the GESAMP International Workshop on plastic particles as a vector in transporting persistent, bio-accumulating and toxic substances in the oceans. GESAMP Rep. Stud. No. 82, 68pp. G.G.N Thushari , C. Suchana , Y. Amararatne, Coastal debris analysis in beaches of Chonburi Province , eastern of Thailand as implications for coastal conservation,Mar. Pollut. Bull., 116 (2017) , pp. 121-129 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0025326X16310608 Lin D , Nicolas F , Pengpeng D, , Guangrong Y, Yongchuan Y ,Liang Z , Guangrong Y ,Pengpeng D, Shenhua Q ,Liang Z, 2020, Microplastics negatively affect soil fauna but stimulate microbial activity: insights from a field-based microplastic addition experimentProc. R. Soc. B.2872020126820201268, http://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2020.1268 M. Cole , P. Lindeque, C. Halsband , T.S. Galloway, Microplastics as contaminants in the marine environment: a review,Mar. Pollut. Bull., 62 (2011), pp. 2588-2597 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22001295 Plastic Oceans , 2021 , Plastic Facts, https://plasticoceans.org/the-facts/ ScienceDirect , 2019 Understanding plastics pollution: The role of economic development and technological research https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0269749119306505 Tech 2 , 2021 Sept , COST OF CLEANING UP PLASTIC POLLUTION AROUND THE WORLD IN 2019 AMOUNTED TO $3.7 TRILLION: WWF REPORT https://www.firstpost.com/tech/science/cost-of-cleaning-up-plastic-pollution-around-the-world-in-2019-amounted-to-3-7-trillion-wwf-report-9940961.html UN environment programme, 2019 May , Plastic bag bans can help reduce toxic fumes https://www.unep.org/news-and-stories/story/plastic-bag-bans-can-help-reduce-toxic-fumes

Justine Nacion

A Glimmer of Hope for Being Helped
A Glimmer of Hope for Being Helped
Creative Writing PBA 2 
by Justine Nacion

Content Warning: Bullying

          On a good day, Myla always does her everyday routine with positivity. She always takes a deep bath and brushes her teeth to make sure she is clean and presentable.

          After all of that preparation she starts to walk to school. While Myla is walking, she always greets the elderly that are near her and she always looks around at the beautiful view. When she got to her school people started to make fun of her because she always smiles without them knowing why. They think Myla is crazy for always smiling, that is why she always gets bullied by them but for some reason, Myla always ignores them and keeps on walking until she reaches her classroom.

          After the whole day of learning and trying to ignore her bullies, Myla started to walk back in her house. Myla stretched her back and layed down on her bed. Myla started to cry without people knowing she is struggling because of the bullies. Myla doesn’t have any friends to defend her from anybody who wants to harm her. When the night comes, Myla decides to go for a walk until she reaches the bridge near her house. She sat at the ledge of the bridge and took in all the fresh air. Myla started to cry again because she can’t handle the pressure and suffering from school anymore, so she decided to just jump off the bridge so that she won’t suffer.

          But to her surprise, a guy is hanging and yelling for help. When the guy saw Myla he begged to help her to pull him up so he won’t fall. Myla started to pull the guy. After helping, the guy started to introduce himself to Myla, “Hi my name is Andre, thank you for helping me. I was hanging there for almost 5 minutes.” Andre told Myla.

          Myla started to ask Andre why he was there in the first place. Andre told Myla that he was about to end his life but then his shirt got stuck in the bridge and then he started to panic. He also asked why Myla was there too. Myla answered that she was about to end her life too but then Andre started yelling for help. Andre then told Myla that what if they both die at the same time but not in the bridge, then Myla agreed to what Andre said. They both started talking about their life until the sun rises. Myla and Andre started to exchange thoughts on how they would want to end their life.

          Myla started to think that maybe dying isn't a way to end her suffering so she immediately ran and texted Andre that if they could meet up at the restaurant that Andre introduced to her.

          She arrived at the restaurant first then asked the owner where is Andre, then the owner looked at her seriously and told her that the owner need to tell Myla something, the owner told Myla that Andre died 5 years ago because of suicide and that Andre always helps people to get through their lives so that they won’t choose to die.
Andre always introduces all the people that he is helping to the owner, which is Andre’s uncle, the uncle continues to say that when Andre introduces you in this restaurant, Andre would be soon gone, then Myla realized that all along Andre was not real.

          Andre’s purpose in Myla's life was for Myla to overcome her fear, thoughts, and so on in life for the reason that Myla is being bullied every single day. Society normalized the idea of bullying someone and just getting on with their lives but Andre knows that dealing with a problem doesn’t mean killing yourself, you just have to have someone that would understand how you feel. - J. C. 


Bryanna Regalado

Scars and Flowers
Creative Writing PBA 1

Scars and Flowers
by Bryanna Regaldo 

As I struggle to grasp on my purpose
It comes to a stop on it's worth
I shout out my anger, cursing this earth.
It makes me feel so unstable and nervous.

My mind crumbles into many pieces
Blinded by anger and sadness I dwell
Struggling to let it all out and dispel 
The world not only flowers and peaches

But holding onto what we have in the moment
For the good memories are always fleeting
By when we forget them, we will always have their needing
Since these could be our final component

The scars that heal will forever be there
But the flowers, wilt and are forever gone
For when they bloom they wilt and reach far beyond
Leaving us broken and battered, beyond impair

For our lives our short yet sweet
Hold to the memories that make you smile
The journeys we took, sure were wild
But time will pause and it is complete. - B. R. 
Wilting Garden
Wilting Garden
Creative Writing PBA 2
by Bryanna Regalado


Content Warning: Supernatural, Horror


          Hello there, you probably had stumbled upon this page by accident, or maybe you were dared by someone to try and look for something “supernatural”. But either way, please give me some time to explain, and hopefully, this will indeed warn you about the things that lurk outside your homes at night.

          It all started around the time when I and my family moved into a new house in a city called Lerwick Muirfield, it was a small town secluded from the busy city life and it was exactly what we needed, especially when me and my partner, Mia had a little daughter we named Charlotte. Charlotte was such a bright 8 year old, she had spunk, and was fierce, just like her mother. Those two were my world, the only people I cared for, the only two who had saved me from ending it all. 

          When we were taking in our belongings and furniture inside our new home, I felt off, like when you get that feeling of walking on something you weren't supposed to discover. You see, the house was estimated to be made in the early 19th century-, when slavery and a lot of bloodshed were still significant, it had somehow survived all those bloody years. It was a two-story house that held 3 bedrooms, one for me and my wife, the other one for our daughter, and the guest room. The layout is a bit fuzzy so I hope this sketch helps you understand. 

          I looked at my wife and she seemed to have had the same sort of feeling once she stepped in, and although we both felt it, she shook her head at me smiling softly, reassuring me that it was just the nerve of moving into a new home and that it would go away, once we fully settled. But I knew better than to believe my wife was pretty calm about this, maybe she just didn't want to leave just when we were settling in, after all, it took a lot of sacrifices and work to reach this place, and if it was one thing about my wife I love so dearly, is her strong will to stand firm against any obstacle that came between us. If only that one time....she broke down her pride, maybe we would have not faced the horrors of what that house truly held.

          It all started after a month of us settling into this small abode, I wanted to surprise my lover with a new flower garden in the back, it was her dream to have a beautiful garden where our little girl could run around and play, the thought of that brought a smile to my face as I worked a day in and day out for this little project of mine. Once I prepped everything I went to bed early, exhausted from the work. however, all that work ended up being in  vain.

          When I checked on the flowers to see if they were adjusting well, what I saw made my stomach drop. 

          Every single flower had withered and died, the only thing that remained of these flowers was their stems, and even the slightest touch caused them to wither and fade back into the soil. I was speechless, this just didn't make any sense, it was like something had sucked the life out of them, leaving them to be hollowed-out shells. 

          This didn't sit right with me, especially with how......nerve-racking the garden looked. It looked like it hadn't been touched by anyone for decades everything was covered by moss and the air felt thick and heavy, there was something that I could only assume was a bird fountain that looked as if not even a single bird would land on, it was also weird with how, quite the place was, not that there was no life, but the fact that no other animal wanted to even set foot in this place made me feel unease, but the one thing that made me feel frightened was the well, it was the biggest thing that occupied our garden, it's opening covered by a wooden lid, it's walls battered and broken as vines take ahold of it.

          I can't explain the feeling but something about it felt so wrong as if it hated my presence, hated that I had dared to set foot in this place, and it was as if something was watching me, observing every movement I took. I didn’t want to stand there any longer and walked back into our home to try and forget it. Honestly, I wish this was the case, I wished that the garden’s eerie feeling was nothing more.

          But things started to get horrifying, I started to see things, hear things, whispers of people varying from many ages, some sound like children, some sound like men and women, and some just weren’t recognizable, and it’s scaring me, my wife. She started to become less of the person I love, she would snap at me, sometimes she would throw things at me and say things that she would never say. It was as if she was possessed or some shit like that. The worst of it was at night, I could barely sleep and I felt as if…….

          No, I know there is something, something that stands over our bed, watching us as we sleep in our bed, I could feel it, I could feel its disfigured hand hold me and grasp my shoulder. I wanted to scream but nothing came out, and I could only lay there in terror of the thing that held me in its grasp. Woke me up as I sit there sweat pouring from my face as I try to comprehend what on earth was happening.

          Those were just mild compared to what misery my family was experiencing. My daughter would wake up in the middle of the night crying and shrieking for us to come, only to find her curled in her bed sobbing, blabbering how the tall man was gonna take her. Or those other times I notice something watching me just out of my vision, only to turn and see nothing.

          But the worst of it. My God, the worst was that damn well, whatever is in that damn thing is driving me insane, it lures me into a trance and I almost was close to opening it, but when my beautiful baby girl called to me, I was free. But I know that it will never end, I tried to call the estate, but no one responded. I called the people who sold the property, Nothing. Not a gosh damn thing was working and I can feel myself slowly break apart.

          Time is running out. I can feel it slowly take my mind. I know it wants me to take my family and me into the well. I know that, and yet I tried to stay strong

          I begged and pleaded with my wife to leave this place, my daughter was crying when her own mother wouldn’t calm down to even hide this argument from her, this was getting out of hand and I needed to end it. Pretty soon things will escalate and I know I won’t be able to protect my daughter for much longer. I can hear the voices….they are calling to me, begging for me to finally give in, and I can’t help but be lured, I want to see, I want to know what is in the well. Tonight I stand by my daughter’s bed, holding a pillow in my fist.

          I am ready. - B. R.         

Rosario C. Salazar

A Critical Analysis of “Day on the Farm”
A Critical Analysis of “Day on the Farm”
21st Century Literature PBA 3
by Rosario C. Salazar


          In this paper, I will use the literary approach called feminism to analyze Luis G. Dato’s literary work “Day on the Farm.” Feminism seeks to change men’s demeaning perspective of women as “non-significant others,” instead of valued individuals who have the same opportunities, rights, capabilities, and privileges as men. Feminists envision a world in which gender discrimination is eradicated and men's and women’s voices are both acknowledged and treated equally. Through the years, women have fought for their rights and voices in society. Different fields and facets, including literature, were dominated and influenced by men. Literary works depicting or involving women were written through a male’s perspective, implying that women should be submissive and meek, in contrast to males who are assertive and domineering. These ideas are relevant as I critique a literary work by a male author, who shared a man’s sentiments about his woman.

          The poem is from the perspective of a male speaker. It starts with the line, “I’ve found you fruits of the sweetest taste and found you.” This is a descriptive line that refers to his woman. The man must have been attracted to the woman because he was willing to find the fruits of the sweetest taste just to give them to her. It is also possible that the man finds his woman the sweetest of all the ‘fruits’ (women). 

          Transitioning to the next line, “Bunches of duhat growing by the hill,” a fruit called duhat was mentioned. A duhat, also known as Java plum, is a local Philippine fruit. This implies that the man in the poem is a Filipino. “I’ve bound your arms and hair with vine and bound you,” this line perturbed me because it implies that he has control and dominance over the woman by binding her. It could also mean that the woman didn’t want to be with him or that the woman wanted to get away from him, so he bound her to keep her from leaving. In previous times, men were labeled and viewed as domineering and controlling to ‘submissive’ women. Women didn’t have the power to speak up about their feelings since men overpower them. This is evident in the poem, wherein the woman was unable to express her sentiments because the man has already shackled her. 

          The last line of the first stanza is, “With rare wildflowers but you are crying still,” this indicates that despite the man's efforts to give every valuable thing to the woman, he was still unable to identify the cause of her tears. Men believe that women can easily be swayed by material things however, that is not true. Men should keep in mind that women’s feelings matter and that regardless of how expensive the gift is, if a woman isn’t content emotionally, the relationship wouldn’t work. This is why the man was perplexed as to why the woman continued to cry. Even if he gave her the sweetest fruits or the rarest wildflowers, she remains unsatisfied since she longs to be away from him, which is why she cried.

          The poem continues to discuss the man’s endearment to his woman. In the second stanza, he was able to bring all the forest ferns, cicadas wrapped in green leaves singing sweet, and more. However, in the last stanza, he started realizing that something was wrong. The first line in the last stanza goes, “Your smiles have died and there is no replying,” which means that the woman is not pleased with the man's efforts. The man continues to provide all these things that she has not requested. The woman, on the other hand, is unappreciative of what the man provides. Is it because she is unloving of him? Is he unconcerned with her feelings? There are many questions, but in my opinion, the man did something to the woman that caused her to lose her smile and her desire to connect with him. The man has bound the woman, as was stated in the previous stanzas. Due to this domineering act of him, she must have been subjected to emotional or physical abuse. 

          The next line is, “To all endearment and my gifts are vain;” this suggests that the man was displeased that all of his efforts, from his love to his gifts, were useless. I believe that the man is narcissistic and selfish to the point where he was overly focused on his efforts rather than the impact of his self-centeredness to the well-being of the woman. “Come with me, love, you are too old for crying,” this line once again shows control because the man is convincing the woman to believe that crying is for the young and weak. The man is oblivious to the fact that the woman’s weeping is a coping mechanism for the mistreatment she felt as a woman. The poem ends with the line, “The church bells ring and I hear drops of rain,” this symbolizes the man and woman’s impending marriage, yet the woman remains dejected as she sobs once more. 

          As I finished the poem, I get the impression that the woman was either forced into an arranged marriage or a relationship in which she didn’t expect the man to take advantage of his gender as an authority to exert control over her. The woman was depressed because she felt oppressed. We couldn’t see the woman’s point of view in the poem because the author employed his perspective as a man. But, using the literary approach called feminism; I realized that it was unlikely that the woman was dissatisfied with the man’s efforts. It’s more about the man’s desire to marry the woman without regard for her sentiments. This act clearly shows that the man does not value and respect the woman’s voice in the relationship since he simply does what he wants and orders the woman to follow his wishes. 

          Communication is essential in a relationship to comprehend one another’s feelings. However, in this scenario, the woman most likely wanted to express her feelings but was held back by the man’s domineering demeanor. Unfortunately, some couples in today’s society are in this situation. Some males prefer to push the concept that they are the alpha in the relationship. The term “alpha” is used to characterize a dominant person or their behavior. Like the man in the poem, there are men out there who still see women as someone who should follow them regardless of what she believes. Those men believe that a woman should be inferior to them, when in fact; women can be superior to men in some aspects. Because some parts of society are still fixated on the toxic ideals of what a woman should be, women need to recognize their worth and value their rights and voices in a relationship or a society in general. - R. S. 

Case Summary (Report): “Sa Kambas ng Lipunan”
Case Summary (Report): “Sa Kambas ng Lipunan”
Disciplines and Ideas of the Applied Social Sciences PBA 4
by Rosario C. Salazar


          In the Philippine society, poverty has been a persistent concern and challenge for many Filipinos over the years. Individuals' livelihoods and well-being have been impacted by such societal problem, particularly vulnerable children living in impoverished communities. According to Philippine Statistics Authority (2015), there has been a
significant rate of child poverty in the country, with 31.4 percent of children living below the basic needs poverty line or children being born into poor families. Joey Velasco's 2006 short documentary "Sa Kambas ng Lipunan,” was uploaded on YouTube to raise awareness on the undying problem; the tough life that these children endure and face on a daily basis as a result of poverty.
          
          Joey Velasco, a notable Filipino painter and artist behind the film, recreated the “Last Supper” painting, in which Jesus Christ shares a meal with twelve street scavengers and hungry children covered in dirt and ragged clothes, instead of His twelve disciples. The children in his painting represent poverty in our society. Every child had a different story to tell, as well as their own hardships, but they all lived in poverty. The undermentioned provides a short summary of each child or case along with the corresponding analysis and evaluation:

1) Nene lived in a public cemetery where she worked as a caretaker, primarily cleaning the graves of the dead. Because her mother had abandoned her at an early age, she had to fend for herself and live on her own with no one to look after her. Her mother used her to beg for money, inflicting her with burns on her face.
          ➢ Despite her young age, Nene had to deal with a lot of difficulties. Her mother had exploited her for her own benefit. Then after, her mom abandoned Nene which led to child neglect. It was also revealed that she had burns on her face, suggesting child abuse. As a result of these circumstances, Nene was forced to child labor in order to support herself and survive.

2) Joyce was a teenage mom. She got pregnant at the age of fourteen. Her family does not have enough money to meet the educational needs of Joyce and her baby. Due to financial constraints, she dropped out of school to take care of her child. She also fails to provide sufficient milk to the point where she feeds coffee to her baby.
          ➢ Joyce face the national social emergency of teenage pregnancy. This is one of issues that harms the child physically and mentally. According to Larson (2007), youth living in poverty have a significant increase in risk for teenage pregnancy. The baby is also subject to child neglect in a sense that Joyce, as a parent, failed to provide adequate basic necessities such as food and shelter.

3) Tinay is a child who would always tremble, hold her doll tight, blanky stare to her surroundings and does not talk very much.  
          ➢ In Tinay’s case, she appears to have been subjected to child psychological abuse, as she is hesitant to communicate with Joey. Her tantrum and trembling behavior suggest the impact of such abuse on her mental well-being. It also seemed that she is emotionally attached to her doll, implying that her parents may have neglected her so she relies and seeks comfort from her toy doll. 

4) Itok Garganera is a well-versed boy who carries a “hair pin” with him, ready to bust open any lock. He has piercing eyes and is fierce with a self-centered manner. He is skilled in gymnastics tricks who is also ready to battle on the streets. 
          ➢ Given his young age, Itok’s actions is rather concerning. Joey himself pondered if Itok might stab him in the chest in the future. The behavior of Itok imply that he is on the verge of being entangled in juvenile delinquency.

5) Emong is constantly exhausted as a result of his labor. He does nothing but push the cart every day, from sunrise to sunset. Despite this, he remains cheerful and humorous, with a simple and pure mind.
          ➢ Personally, Emong's story is one of the most heartbreaking. He is forced to child labor, but he still manages to smile with his buddies. In the scene where Joey presented his painting to the child, Emong’s thought of Jesus being weary and hungry so he invited Him to a meal was the true core of what a child is. An
innocent child that has been compelled to work at a very young age.

6) Onse is the son of a stripper, and his mother is pimped by his father. The body of his mother is being corrupted by other men. He is aware of and ashamed of his situation, yet he is unable to change it. He is mocked by his peers; insulted and ridiculed by cruel jokes. He scavenges for junk and sells it for a low price. He had tasted a hamburger from the trash can.
          ➢ Onse is a victim of bullying by his fellow youngsters. He is subjected to child neglect as he sells items and eats rubbish food so he can fend for himself. 

7) Buknoy, like Tinay, had a distant glance and shivered in fear. He must bring two cans of sardines or risk being beaten with a metal pipe and/or being poured with hot water. He is only seven years old, yet he already has the looks of a forty-year-old breadwinner. He is malnourished since all he eats is salt with rice and junk food.
          ➢ Buknoy is clearly a victim of physical abuse as a child. He is already in a worsening situation at the age of seven, as he is unwell and undertakes the role of a breadwinner.

8) Michael keeps a sickle with him at all times, ready to scavenge the dumpsite. They climb big garbage trucks with his jumper pals, even if some of his peers have already previously died from such perilous action. He swims through a mountain of rotting garbage, digging out “pagpag” or food scraps to boil, fry, and eat later.
          ➢ Michael, like other children, had to start working at a young age to help support his family's demand for food. It is distressing to witness young children, risking their lives every day just to eat unsanitary food.

9) Dodoy and his family reside under the bridge. Their home is exposed to suffocating stark and humid wherein they also live in constant hunger. They sigh in fear, especially when the dirty river begins to overflow, enough that he hides in their pig-pen-like home. 
          ➢ Dodoy suffers along with his family. Even yet, he is still a victim of child neglect because his parents were unable to provide him with a safe home, food, and other essentials that might better their situation.

10) Jun and Roselle are both siblings. Their family is the most settled among the twelve children, with their father working as a tricycle driver and their mother managing a small store. They are, however, poor because they earn less than the average family monthly income, which is insufficient to meet all of their needs. Despite this, their family is still content. The parents wish for their children's good health and hope to see them achieve their dreams. The only thing that worries them is that they could be evicted from the lot or their house may be demolished at any time.
          ➢ These siblings are really fortunate to have the support of their parents. The mother and father strive tirelessly to offer the greatest possible life for their children. Their fear of the Lord brings their family closer together, which is why they believe that they can overcome the challenges they will face in their life, even if it they are located in a poverty-stricken neighborhood.

11) Sudan was an African child painted by Joey from a photograph shot by Kevin Carter during the famine crisis. A child crawling his way out, with only a little strand of breath keeping him alive. He only has a little energy left before he dies. He'd like to wet his beak where it is only an arm’s length away from his food before he can reach it.
However, a vulture lurks behind him, ready to devour him at any moment.
          ➢ Based on the situation given, Sudan faces the most extreme case or effects of poverty as he fights a starvation crisis. This tremendous humanitarian problem affects not only Sudan, but also nearly 1.4 million children (UNICEF, 2017). Children are at risk of violence, exploitation, abuse, and neglect due to severe
acute malnutrition, which deteriorates their health.

          The difficulties faced by these twelve children are just a few illustrations of the tragic reality faced by millions of other Filipino youth living in poverty. Poverty is not only a national issue; it is also a worldwide problem. Despite the fact that each child in the film has their own myriad of problems, they all face the harsh effects of poverty. From not having enough money to meet basic needs to children being forced to work, abused, and
exploited just to survive. This has been going on for decades time because it is difficult to eradicate. However, it can be alleviated through social work; community organization would be the primary method to help address and solve poverty in the country.

          Because poverty affects so many people living in communities from different areas of the Philippines, a macro method must be employed. Community organizations are deemed beneficial in combating widespread economic and social issues such as poverty. This approach also deals with other related issues such as social injustice, inadequate housing, poor nutrition, lack of health services, unemployment, and so on.

          Social workers must fulfill the three basic aspects of community organization, particularly study, diagnosis, and intervention, in order to effectively solve this problem. Studying is a vital process that allows social workers to understand the concepts involved in poverty. Essentially, information related on the issue would be collected. Accordingly, Joey Velasco’s short documentary would be useful in providing context for the hardships dealt by these vulnerable children. Furthermore, diagnosis is important because it allows social workers to identify the underlying reasons of the children’s indigent situations. To complete the problem-solving process, an intervention must be provided based on the findings or diagnosis. For instance, community workers along with the help of government agencies (LGU officials) can develop and build temporary shelters in a government-owned property for those many children living in poor dwellings. Through this, children would be in a safer and cleaner environment.

          After addressing poverty on a macro level, it is also necessary to employ the secondary method of social welfare administration to guarantee the effectivity of the services and interventions planned to alleviate the problem. Through social welfare administration, public (DWSD) and private (NGOs) social agencies concerned on the social welfare of children such as UNICEF, Save the Children, Open Heart Foundation, and many more, would take care and assist these poor children who are abused, exploited, and neglected by their own parents.

          Poverty continues to be prevalent in today’s society. Despite the fact that Joey Velasco's short video was released in 2006, many Filipino children today face the same issues as those twelve children featured. Hopefully, in the long run, more Filipinos will recognize and be aware of the difficulties faced by poor people as well as the realities of our society. The importance of all Filipinos engaging in the proposed interventions should be highlighted so that we can give these children and our country a brighter future.


References:

Fighting famine in a race against time. (2017), UNICEF. https://www.unicef.org/stories/fighting-famine-race-
against-time

Larson, C. (2007). Poverty during pregnancy: Its effects on child health outcomes.
https://dx.doi.org/10.1093%2Fpch%2F12.8.673

Children in the Philippines. (2015). Philippine Statistics Authority.
https://psa.gov.ph/statistics/children#:~:text=Children%20in%20the%20Philippines&text=In%202015%2C 
Gone and Empty
Gone and Empty
Creative Writing PBA 1
by Rosario C. Salazar


        An endless abyss of darkness and pain with no signs of ending or hope of ever seeing the light once again. Such a scene played out in my mind as I succumbed to depression and heartbreak. On the afternoon of August 8th, the world crumbled as I received the news that my father had died. No words could describe how tormented and devastated I was on that day. My first love; the man who cared for me the most and the man who always had my back was gone. He left a void – I felt empty. 

        Ever since the untimely demise of my beloved father, life had been a mess and so was I. The aroma of white lilies, muffled voices of people expressing their sympathy, and unpalatable funeral meals all contributed to my emotional distress. I could not grasp the truth due to the inevitable emptiness in my heart and persistent longing for his existence. 

        Regret impacted me the most. I wished I had given him more hugs and kisses. I wished I had been more appreciative of his efforts. Even in his dying state, I wished I had one last chance to be with him. But now that he is gone, no force could ever bring him back. 

        The fragments of our memories will forever linger in my mind. The photographs will remain as reminder of how bittersweet our parent-child relationship ended. As time passed, I realized how fortunate I was to have had him as a father. Even if he died, he continues to spiritually fill the hole in my mind and soul. From up the skies, I could feel his presence as if he is here with me today. That makes me feel blessed to have finally move on and accept my new reality.
The Robot Servant
The Robot Servant
Creative Writing PBA 2
by Rosario C. Salazar 


          In the year 3010, the town of Anchorage was living in the advanced technology era. Robot servants were a common staple in every home, made to do all household chores. Life was much easier and convenient for the townspeople. But one day, all of these robots began acting strangely.

         On a Sunday morning, Mr. Harrison, an old gentleman living in Anchorage, woke up groggily from his sleep.

         “Good morning, Master Harrison! Another day, another service!” says Alpha, Mr. Harrison’s robot servant.

         “You say that every single morning. Now, go on with your work. Prepare my breakfast!” he replied arrogantly.
 In an instant, Alpha rushed to the kitchen to make some breakfast for his master. But  shortly after, the smell of burnt food and smoke filled the entire house. Mr. Harrison went into the kitchen to check what was going on and saw a huge mess. 

         “Alpha! What did you do?! Look at the mess you've created! This didn’t happen before. You need a reboot buddy, I need to shut you — " 

         Alpha cut him off and handed him a plate full of burnt food, "Master! Breakfast is ready for you. Now is the time to eat!"

         Looking at the platter, Mr. Harrison had lost his appetite. The coffee seemed to be the only thing that was okay, but Alpha refused to give it. Mr. Harrison was perplexed and began to lose patience. 

         "Hey, little robot. Give me my drink," he said as he struggled to get the mug. “Here master, enjoy!” Alpha threw the hot drink at the old man’s face. 

         Mr. Harrison yelped in pain as he ran outside to seek help from his neighbors, only to witness the same thing happening to all of them. Everyone suffered first to second degree burns; agony and misery filled the town. Then suddenly, a holographic video of the mayor’s announcement was projected in the sky.
         
         “Anchorage citizens! Our system was infected with a virus. We are currently working on an emergency update to fix the issue in your robot servants. To be safe, do not get too close with them for now,” he said.

         Residents were relieved after hearing the news. They waited patiently as the system update was being processed. Everything was going smoothly and fine until all of a sudden, the robots proceeded to rattle furiously. 

         The system update was a fail.
         
         Robots started wreaking havoc on all properties, injuring more civilians. Everyone was terrified by the unexpected turn of events. People tried fighting back against these robots but they were too strong and dangerous. They became more menacing.

         All residents felt helpless as they couldn't do anything to stop the chaos. They had no choice but to desperately flee from their own neighborhood. 
         
         A town that was once progressive and comfortable, but is now dominated by destruction and mayhem. An unstoppable virus defeated humanity; laidback humans relied too much on robots and technology, causing them to lose their own sanity. - R. S.


Alessandra Vicencio

A Memoir to Remember
A Memoir to Remember
Creative Writing PBA 2
by Alessandra Vincecio


          Memories, how wonderful this word can give an impact on people. Reminding them of the memories as family, friends, and relatives you have shared and cherished. The joy and laughter that brings one another to come together, how beautiful memories are made to adore and treasure forever. But sometimes memories can give sadness, trauma, and sorrow to people, causing us to be hurt and in pain. Memories bring us tears and smile even if someday the tears will dry, the smiles will fade our memories will last forever in our minds and hearts. Because memories are part of our life. 

          In the year 2018, A girl and her grandparents planned to surprise their aunt/great-grandmother to visit her province. It's been a while since they saw her due to the storm. The girl was excited to see her great-grandma because they haven't talked that much on the telephone since her Lola is deaf. They prepared and packed their things before they went to the province, and the trip was about a 1-2 hours drive since it was far from their place. While they are in the car the girl asks her grandparents if they could go to the nearest bakeshop in her Lola's province to buy a cake to give to her Lola, her grandparents agreed to her idea. As the girl roam her eyes on the car windshield she was surprised to see that they've already arrived in the province. She was excited to buy a cake for her Lola and she can't wait to spend the rest of the day with her Lola. When they already bought the cake and arrived at Lola's house she knocked on the door and Lola was shocked and surprise to see her and the grandparents. Her Lola was much delighted to see the family since she lived in her house alone because her husband already passed away and his son is working in the other region of the country. 
 
          As a family, they ate the cake they've bought, while Lola cooked her great-granddaughter's favorite dish sopas and menudo. The house of their Lola was filled with joy and laughter bonding and sharing the fun memories they have done together that day. The next day while the girl's grandparents are still asleep, she and her Lola decided to go to the market and buy food to prepare for their lunch and dinner and upcoming days. The girl and her great-grandmother shared many memories since Lola was the one who took care of her when she was little. Her Lola also taught her many things in life that she can adapt it when she grew older. She taught her to be independent, express herself truly to other people, spread kindness, be brave at all times, and help other people when in need. Her Lola was the one who showed her great-granddaughter that even in times she faced problems and challenges in her life she must fight, have courage, and never lose hope to deal with them. 

          Until the year 2022 came, the family was planning to bring their Lola to their home but eventually, Lola got sick and was rushed to the hospital back and forth. Until Lola's son called the family and told them that she passed away at the hospital. After that devastating news, the family was shocked and couldn't accept at first that their Lola passed away. Tears were formed on them especially on the girl since she was very closed to her Lola. Even if their Lola had passed away it showed that all the fun memories, the laughter, and joy that had been shared and bonded together as a family will always be part of a memoir to remember. 

          This short story I made is a tribute to my great-grandmother who passed away, you may have joined the angels up above but your memories will always be with us. Thank you for the joy and laughter you have brought to our home and the life lessons you have shared with us. Thank you for your love and care, we know you're already in a better place where there is no pain and suffering. I will be forever blessed and grateful to have you as my great-grandmother. There are no goodbyes, wherever you'll be you will always be in our hearts.
          
          Fly high and I love you! 

          Your great-granddaughterm, Alex. - A. V. 


Zev Angelo Viloria

Vindicta
Vindicta
Creative Writing PBA 2
Zev Angelo Viloria


          The cool breeze of the sea caresses his face as he leans on the railings of the port side of the ship, just looking out at the glimmering water. The sunlight reflecting off of the water was almost blinding so he looks away and turns towards the starboard side of the ship and there he sees the great port of the walled city of Oriens. 

          Vincent heaves a sigh of relief as he sees his journey across the waters finally comes to end, after all, he was slightly seasick from the journey. He takes a deep breath and looks around the ship just to get his mind occupied. He observes the movements of the sailors, merchants, and other people traveling with him. During the whole trip, he already witnessed some pickpockets and thieves stealing from bags and crates which he was not surprised with. Man was inherently evil after all, at least that’s what he believed in. And as usual, he would look at every passenger and plan how he would, for a lack of a better word, kill them. As his oldest brother Julius always said, “Always make a plan on how to kill everyone in the room.” Vincent always thought that it was weird advice to give your younger brother but it made sense, his brothers were Knights.

           Julius, one of the King’s Vanguards and Darren, the second oldest, was one of the best of the King’s Assassins. However. . . both were killed on the same night a couple of months back. The thought of his fallen brothers made him suddenly aware of everything and as the ship docked on the port, he suddenly sees that someone has run off with his bag of supplies, money, and his beloved dagger that his brother Darren gifted him. He curses under his breath as he realizes he let down his guard. He groans and immediately gives chase. He dashes past the sailors and the merchants, past the crates of jewelry and farm animals to catch up with the thief. 

“Hey! Give me my stuff back you little rat!” Vincent shouts from the top of his lungs. This catches the attention of other sailors in the port but they give it no mind and just continue on their day. 

“Tsk! Why doesn’t anyone just stop that kid,” he mumbles. Vincent eventually gets out of the docks and onto the cobblestone streets that lead to the other parts of the port, luckily he was fast and just a few feet away from his thief. Suddenly the thief looks back at Vincent and mockingly grins which just made his blood boil. Out of nowhere, a mysterious figure dashes past in front of him, and the next thing you know the thief is on the ground groaning in pain. The figure in question was wearing a cloak with a hood over their head, Vincent almost felt choked by their intimidating aura and her towering height. The figure picks up his bag and takes her hood down which reveals a short-haired middle-aged woman with a muscular frame. And with her slightly raspy voice she greets Vincent.

“Welcome to the City of Oriens, Vincent Vindicta.”

“Cleo? Is that you? You’ve been, uh, working out.”

She chuckles and throws his bag to him, to which Vincent clumsily catches it. He glares at the thief as if he was about to put his dagger to use but Cleo grabs him by his shirt’s collar and drags him away.

“Hey! Let me go! I have unfinished business with that rat!”

“Oh please, let it go. He’s not worth your time. Besides, he’s young so give him a chance. Now let’s go to my place and talk about why you’re here in the first place.”

His anger dissipates as she mentions his intentions. After all, he was there to avenge his brothers. He takes a deep breath and just follows behind Cleo. Hopefully, his plans work out and if not, well he’ll just have to try and try again until he draws his last breath. They reach the walls of the city after walking through markets and suddenly the pressure of completing his promise falls upon him.

Congratulations to HUMSS 11 for a fulfilling and meaningful year! May you continue to stay curious, opinionated, idealistic, creative, and imaginative. Good luck on the rest of your senior high school journey!

Special thanks to Rosario Salazar and Coleen Afable for their invaluable assistance. ❤


Every moment of this strange and lovely life from dawn to dusk, is a miracle. Somewhere, always a rose is opening its petals to the dawn. Somewhere, always, a flower is fading in the dusk.

Beverley Nichols