AS the festive season approaches, every citizen is filled with joy and gratitude in anticipation of the coming holiday. Or so one would think. Over time, the true reason for celebration has been forgotten and the spirits of the holiday excitement, giving, and familial gatherings have been overshadowed by some less inspiring replacements. The Spirit of Holiday Stress looms over the teacher as she walks home from the store. Not only does she have to put up decorations around their small house and ready a large meal for her sister and nephews, she also has to spend all night trying to finish preparing the final exams of her students. The Spirit of Consumerism coaxes the Angkas driver to buy each of his daughters nicer dolls this year. He is grateful for the extra tips he has been re...
By PATRICK V. MIGUEL EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece is one of the works in a six-part series in line with the Dapitan 2020 theme Ina. All works that are part of the series are written by the Flame’s Letters staffers. SHE guarded the land against trespassers but the owners were the ones who trespassed against her. There was no presence of either the moon or the sun. The sky was glassy and grey as the wind withered wildly in the moors. Maningning looked up above with her eyes full of sorrow and mourn. When she howled, the pain she showed overpowered the wild gush of wind. Legends say that when a wolf howls under the opaque-white moon, it is because the wolf yearns to touch the moon even though it is impossible. Even though she was not a wolf, Maningning cried towards the sky,
By DENISSE P. TABOR EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece is one of the works in a six-part series in line with the Dapitan 2020 theme Ina. All works that are part of the series are written by the Flame’s Letters staffers. SHE sat down on the curb to rest, putting down the rest of her unsold goods alongside her. It was already late; all the shops and stalls have closed for the day and there were fewer passersby. They were all in a hurry to get home so none of them took any interest in her chicharon and kropek. She would have headed home too if not for her measly profit. But instead, she toiled away the wee hours of the night so that her children would not have empty stomachs tomorrow. She looked around and noticed that she was not the only one awake in this ungodly hour; a few feet awa
THE sun is a phoenix diving into the horizon, dispersing its light in dots, specks, and bursts till it fills the city. It slowly becomes blanketed in darkness. The wires are a messy bundle of vines, falling and rising into posts. The pavement is shattered porcelain, repeatedly fixed and broken over and over again. Copper roofs contrast the silver beams of skyscrapers. Capitalism knows not how to sleep with its neon signs, bright billboards, and bustling streets. People crowd the roads, trying to rush home as barkers yell at the top of their lungs. The cars’ beeping is a headache. Beggars hold out their hands and empty cups to ask for alms. In the streets, children play patintero with death. The heads of the people walking bob in the distance like the ocean’s waves. They look s
Trigger Warning: death, rape The crisp air of dawn cleared a young lady’s lungs as she walked home through a path in the woods. She came from a costume party from the night before. A pristine floor-length dress with long billowing sleeves was her interpretation of a white lady. The ghoulish make-up she applied yesterday had rubbed off from an evening of eating and dancing. As she walked, she heard a rapid crunching of leaves. Her heart began to pound. Someone — or something — was in the trees. She sped up, frantically looking around the path. Perhaps she was just being paranoid. The ghosts and monsters of last night are simply haunting her until now. But there are worse monsters than tikbalangs or manananggals; they were monsters who have grown more audacious, no longer fe
BENEATH the dirt, sand, and mud where the parents conceal their eggs comes also the act of burying all hopes of ever seeing their young once again. The parents head back into the ocean, refusing to look back as they trust the cycle of life to be set in motion. The hatchlings are invited to challenge nature’s call. Weightless in their wake, they allow their frail new bodies to be drawn to the shore. They strive to seek refuge from the sunlight by submerging in the creases of the ocean. Each newborn turtle recognizes the role played by the ocean - it provides the breath of life, relieving them off the land’s demise. When a cluster of them begin trotting over the coast, they have already begun exposing themselves to the dangers outside their shells, and only a handful of them mana
CONTRARY to scientific belief, zombies exist. They appear in the dark limbo - the train station; a barren wasteland where only the fittest survive, and where the strongest compete in push and pulls in order to win a spot inside the coveted train, which is the only way out of this oblivion. Every day, the undead shuffle along the train station's platform staring blankly at the tracks or at others like them. They gawk at the TV screens advertising mojitos and other alcohols in envy; these liquids have spirits, while they do not. Without fail, they experience the horrors of the train station: the crowds of people, the scorching heat, the slow trains, the poor facilities, and the impending fear of not getting there. Once upon a time, they were humans. They were people who once had ...
THE breaking of light rings like sirens put on full blast, rousing the people from below in bewilderment. With their eyes inflamed and cushioned by wrinkles of exhaustion, they heave in defeat. Day has just began tapping her nails on the windowpane, and she continues to loom over their sleepless forms. A Dirge loiters behind the clamor of coins in outstretched palms that glistens with oil and sweat. He listens to backseat conversations discussing missed alarms and boring meetings. He hides in engines with scraping metals and caged heat, before appearing when tires squeal their way past mazes of traffic. For him, Mondays mean more bodies and hearses. His procession begins in a series of red and yellow. With every stop comes a new body; every turn a drop-off. The pavements shrink t...
“AGBIAG ni Apo Lakay” they proudly shout in Norte. Behind those cheers are the agonizing howls of the victims of Martial Law. The dark figure the blind ones vainly praise is a man whose sagging skin is stained with blood. September 21, 1972 was the date the Philippines became an inferno. The moment a signature scribbled on an infernal piece of paper and the declaration announced with the voice of a brute, everything fell apart. Men, women, and children—everyone howled in pain. There were brave fighters who defied him but it came with a cost. The women were pinned by beasts who forcibly spread their legs. Even the men whimpered as they were tortured multiple times. Some of their lifeless bodies were found, but most of them vanished as if they never existed. Still unseen and unfoun
TODAY, he has decided to take the long route so he can clear his head. In his middle 30s, his life is still a far cry from successful; being stuck in a dead-end job with no family of his own. He strolled around the bustling city, yearning to find comfort in its dimly-lit alleys the way he did when he was a child. Faint memories of how he used to scout his old neighborhood for blank walls to paint on, or how he used to read the profanities written on backstreet walls, resurfaced. Everything in the city was monochrome: the faces in the crowd, the shops he passed by — all of them were dulled to the core. He peeked between alleyways and was enlivened when he saw something with a tinge of color standing out from his surroundings of black and white. It was a graffiti wall. He drew clos