I remember the silent drive to my hometown after the suspension was announced. I was itching to leave the campus right away to avoid being stuck in traffic. But little did I know, this would be my last time traversing these routes. If I only knew what was about to come, returning to our house in Guagua would not have been my first thought that day. I would be spending the next five months inside it anyway. Even now, I still scramble for some semblance of normalcy in my life. I find it at my work desk; as I open my laptop and remove the tape that covers the webcam. For the umpteenth time, I checked my appearance in the camera before putting the headphones on. "Agyu mu yan," I whispered to myself as I pressed the button. "Good morning, class!" On the other end, I ...
AMID the disorganized array of tents and harried footsteps of people, a cat waits patiently. This cat liked many things. He liked taking naps in warm places. He liked being handed scraps of leftovers. But most of all, he loved being petted. He loved gentle touches on his fur, head, and at the special spot he reserved only for his favorite person. His favorite person always arrived with things he enjoyed best: a warm lap, bites of chicken, and hands that scratched him behind the ears. He is getting hungry. Meowing, he approaches one woman who is eating. She reacts by shooing him away. Rejected, the cat sniffs disdainfully. His favorite person always has better food anyway. Come to think of it, where is that human? She is missing today, as well as the day before. A l...
A curse is sweeping the kingdom. No one knows where it came from; only that one day it had manifested through pus-dripping boils. With hundreds getting sick, the kingdom turned into a wasteland of dying livestock and people. All that remained strong was the impenetrable wall surrounding the castle. Desperate for a solution, the king sent his guards. They went out, questioning and accusing citizens of casting the curse. In the end, they returned only with tenfolds adding into the body count. Next, the king turned to his knights. His knights roamed, stopping the curse the only way they knew. Each time someone spoke ill of the king, they were thrown in the dungeons. Eventually, the number of prisoners grew. Thus, the curse spread among them and to the guards. Exhausted, ...
photo by ELIJAH JOHN M. ENCINAS/ THE FLAME “MA, mag-eenroll ba ako?” my son asked me. I did not know how to answer. Work hard. This became my mantra as I continued working on-site with the promise of a higher salary. I never let the mountain of paperwork on my table faze me in the slightest. If I have to go home late to finish them all—if I have to lose sleep, then so be it. The excitement on my son’s face when I hand him his much-needed laptop makes the dark under-eye circles and the fatigue all worth it. Almost there. This is what inspires me to start a business. From the moment I get home from work, I start making dishes so that I can respond to numerous orders of food online. On weekends, I deliver the products myself. The fulfillment of the quota is a remind
>YES2ANTITEROR BILL...Mdaming salamat tatAy...lagotkau ngaun mga sAlut s liponaN!!! *Share* C taTay nlng matino ngaun. Bat b andAming kontRa....pandemya nga maki2Sali p teroRista’t adik!!! Kaya tuMataas OCVID ehh...terorista lng tAkot z antierrorBill… MAGKaCOVED sNA CLA!!! <1 Message Request: SouthEast-Asian Coalition for National Security *Accept* <Good evening. Ito po ba si Lucio Ramirez? <Si Ms.Hannah from SEACNS ito. Nag-aapply po kayo bilang guard sa firm namin? >Gud evening po...opo nagpasa po aq resume noon...Tanggap po ba? <Kakilala niyo ba si Martin Romullo? Dati po siyang nagtatrabaho dito. >Ay opo...kumpare ko p sia...parehas p kami ng hilig nian...Kmzta po siya? <Iniimbestigahan siya ngayon. Na-red tag kasi sa NPA. <Tutal kakumpare
THIS current reality is eerily similar to something found within the pages of history. As if taken directly out of a dictator’s playbook, this regime repeats the tyrannic and despotic leadership that occurred four decades ago. They come after the journalists one by one—suppressing the fundamental rights to information, making the people grow more ignorant with each passing day. Under the guise of bias reporting and immoral content, the victims fall to the mockery of power-tripping lawmakers along with a personal vendetta waged by a political foe. It is ludicrous enough to question a broadcast institution's morality out of servile obedience, but it only gets worse after making a baseless decision in order to appease a lapdog that usurps all legalities and goes beyond the constitut
THERE are tales about the sea where mermaids, monsters, and ghost ships haunt the wide expanse of water, especially at night. But in this world, mermaids and ghost ships remain only mere legends; and monsters are the only one that is real. As soon as the ember sky turns pitch black and the sun descends, ruthless monsters will come to menace—an unforeseen circumstance for the men who had let the waves take them away at night. Defenseless and with only fishing rods in hand, an encounter occurs in the middle of the sea, where it is soundless and the waves do not crash; only the noises of a lone sea vessel are heard. It happens then at midnight that unguarded fishermen come across a merciless terror. The monsters arrive with flags as red as blood flailing above their heads. They o
THIS time, my fingers finally have the strength to crack open my own fortress of secrecy. Out of bigoted spite and bitterness, I am forcefully shoved in a truck. I find myself gasping for air inside a cell; leaving me suffocated from the scent of fear and solitude. Beyond bars, I could hear others—people who are forsaken like me. They shout words that feed my hope and I chant them back repeatedly; almost like a prayer. Pride. Freedom. Equality. Love. We unite and march on the same road to end bigotry. Together, we hold our flag—the mark of our pride and identity—to raise it with no shame dragging by our tails. However, struggling to come out is only one of many to defeat. I know now that the real battle lies within the streets against brutes who wield their
Trigger Warning: rape, implied suicide EVERYTHING is dark. Someone calls my name. It asks me if I am okay. I jolt awake. I remember foggy memories of intrusive mouths and unwelcome hands touching me. Years have passed, but my nightmares remain all the same. I am almost an adult but I still feel like the defenseless child trapped from back then. Getting off my bed, I walked towards my living room and opened the television. Their variety show was on— even when I am awake, they still haunt me. I stare blankly at their faces and found myself reminiscing the very night my life went in shambles. My blood curdles in recalling the smug faces that casually brushed off what they did to me. Their public apology did nothing, and it will never be enough. They knew that I was go
Hindi matatakpan ng mga makikinang na ilaw o malalambungan ng dilim ng gabi ang bawat kalsada at eskinita na iniikutan ng mga maniniil at mapang-api. Katulad ng mga banyagang imperyalistang sa ating mga daungan ay tumuntong noon, dala nila ay pagbabanta sa buhay at kalayaan ng inosente man o naglakas-loob lumaban. May mga tila ipis sa pagkaripas ng takbo; tahimik na kinukubli ang mga sarili sa sulok habang ang iba ay masugid na tinatahulan mga manloloob na inaakyat ang tarangkahan. Kalayaan ng kayumanggi ang sigaw— sumanib sa rebolusyon na puputol ng tanikalang sa atin at sa mga mananakop ay tumatali, tanging mga sandata ay pluma, tinig at kamao. Nang ang kasarinlan sa wakas ay nakamtan, mga b