Short Story Snippets

I’m working on a short story about a carnival set in PH 2041. Here’s a snippet. Actually I’m done with it because I submitted it as an output for one of my comprehensive exams. But I guess, I’m editing it and might submit it somewhere. I’m not entirely sure. But here it goes!

When Timpi manned the gambling booths, he was unsure how much of the night’s earnings he could slide into his pocket. Huni caught a small glimpse of the box a few nights ago and gave him a suspicious look so he had to be more discreet about his ‘earnings’. If things weren’t so unpredictable he would slip a couple of coins a day, enough to get unnoticed. Two 50-peso coins couldn’t even buy him a cigarette stick in this economy. Maybe 2 pieces of hard candy. He tried to calculate a negligible absence, the balance between useful for him and unnoticed for Alpas. If only they made half the size of a cigarette so it would cost half as much and maybe lessen his chance of ending up in hell for he stole such a small amount that Satan wouldn’t even want him there. 

The gambling table was slippery from the gunk that accumulated from the decades worth of games. He cleaned it twice a week, scrubbed it hard that some of the paint faded. He had to trace them back with paint markers, it did not look decent. But it was enough for the gamblers, aesthetics was never an issue for them anyway. 

Timpi couldn’t resist. It was just not like him. It is not like he needed the money. He had everything within the confines of the land. Shelter – a decent sized room in a concrete structure. Alpas almost legally adopted him a decade ago but he still went on and stole from his foster father. He needed a cigarette to be sane and get through the week before the announcement. 

He couldn’t even remember that last time he held paper money. Maybe he hasn’t. It doesn’t matter because he would have no use for it anyway. Timpi was secure that he was going to stay. So when Aruga and Huni suggested that they randomly draw the ones who get to stay, he was furious.   

“It should be a fair fight,” he said. 

“Not everyone makes enough money for the land. We need the ones who are good to stay.” 

 “Are you saying, you make enough?” Huni said. 

“I guess you’re only saying that because you hold the money, unlike the rest of us who had to depend on whatever Alpas thinks we deserve.”  

“Physically holding money is not always earning money, Timpi.” Aruga added. 

“It’s just supposed to slip through your fingers rather than straight to the box.” 

 Huni finally spoke, “unless he slides it into his pockets, then…”  

Timpi couldn’t hold his temper. He was about to hit Aruga when the dog started barking. Aruga signaled Tahol to sit. 

“Watch your beast,” said Huni. “It might just cost you your spot.” 

Tahol whimpered. Aruga walked away and it followed him away from them.

Escapism, Privilege, and Reading

Hello! How’s everybody doing? Hope you’re all doing well… or at least coping enough to get by.

I went to the grocery store to get supplies because I’ve been thinking of making Japanese Cotton Cheesecake for weeks now. Anyway, when I did get the ingredients, I decided not to bake. Looks like the cream cheese will end up on my toast instead. Hehe.

Metro Manila dramatically changed over the past few months. It’s unsettling. Poverty is unsettling. Privilege makes me feel guilty. I’ve been working remotely since January, I quit my job in the academe because of my ‘promotion’ (or lack thereof). I started working in a startup and saw how an employee deserves to be treated. Not everyone can leave a dead end job. I‘m in a constant state of guilt and paranoia – oscillating between toxic positivity and impending doom.

any ARMYs here?

So why didn’t I bake? Because I picked up a book and read. I’m still reading Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed. I think it’s been a month since I started reading it and I’m still at chapter 4. The pandemic didn’t help my reading habits. It completely ruined it. I guess, it’s just one of the small things that went down the drain. But I’m trying. I’m listening to the audiobooks while arranging my island in Animal Crossing. Which reminds me: you might want to add me. Here’s my friend code: SW-0443-0198-5228.

please add me!

After a few paragraphs of Le Guin, I picked up my Switch and played again. It’s one of the few things that make sense right now. I mean, I know that it’s starting to become unhealthy. It’s the purest form of escapism right now that has the least potential to harm. But still escapism nonetheless. But you can escape with your friends. Hihi. That’s the best part.

Let’s pretend the pandemic isn’t happening as long as we have adorable background music.

Reading gives me the same feeling. Or at least, it used to. My reading habit went downhill when I started looking at it from an academic point of view. During my undergrad in Physics, there was a clear demarcation line between leisure and study. I love literature but I’m also working hard for my MFA degree, where does leisure begin and academics end? I can’t read anything without thinking in terms of ‘how can I write like this?’ or something like ‘how can I use this structure in my work?’

So there, what used to be an escape for me became something I am escaping from.

too tired to function

Please take care of yourselves! Love, Dyne 💜🥺

I’ve been thinking a lot about privilege. There have been a lot of ‘woke’ people calling out the rich for being out of touch with the reality of the country’s current situation. 

The privileged may be out of touch, just as the poor are out of touch with the experiences of the rich. We can only taste what is served on our plate and probably have a whiff from the one across the table. How can someone who can call for takeout in an impulse line up for generic canned goods? Would someone who only drank coffee from a sachet differentiate robusta from arabica?

We widened the gap between the two ends of the spectrum with dissent. This is how rich the rich are. See that closet? That’s your entire house. That scholar walks several kilometers to get to school contrasts that brat who asks their driver if they can get milk tea on the way home. 

If all this is true: what do we do? How can we not pit against each other’s privilege and deficit? And what of the middle class? Their experiences oscillate across the entire spectrum, where are we situated in all this? The country’s social milieu became a crude narrative of injustice, suffering, poverty, and resilience. They even look at the last one with pride, like an armor, at every opportunity to brag that, we, the Filipino people, can withstand anything. We are resilient. If we helped each other out will it be enough? If only there was a structured system that bridges this gap… if only such a thing exists. 

Oh wait, it does.