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Literary

Once a Home

It’s a good place for hanging out with friends, filled with exploding dim colored lights and loud music. But have you ever wondered why a simple house stopped becoming a place to call home, and instead became a place stuffed with noise and lots of stingy alcoholic beverages?

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Artwork by Ferdinand Marticio

Since time immemorial, Thomasians had widely known a particular old and cramped place along the well-lit street of Asturias — there stands an almost hundred year old house. It’s a good place for hanging out with friends, filled with exploding dim colored lights and loud music. But have you ever wondered why a simple house stopped becoming a place to call home, and instead became a place stuffed with noise and lots of stingy alcoholic beverages?

Perhaps being one of the most overlooked stories, the story behind the place we call, “Tapsi,” is darker as we had expected. The house was built in the early 1900s where the clash of Spanish and American Colonization happened. It was owned by a mestizo who had his wife killed inside the very place they call home during the Second World War. Since then, the house has been isolated and never been visited by anyone, but only the owner stayed home. He lived there until the last of his breath, and it was said that before he sold it to a rich family during the 1980s, he warned them of “Echoes and bloodshed,” but the new owners didn’t listen. Every night the new family that started to reside in there were haunted by blood curdling cries and sudden gunshots that can be heard randomly at night. When they look around the house, they find nothing. There’s no person crying, neither is there someone with a gun.

Ultimately terrified by the now haunted house, the new owners kindled an idea. To turn it into a restaurant-bar kind of place. And so they began their business of starting up a resto-bar inside the house. As time passes by, more customers came in and it became one of the busiest places around UST during nighttime. Since then, the cries and gunshots weren’t heard again…or maybe we just don’t hear it, because the banging of the loud music from the speakers and the voices of the constant chit-chatting students conceals the horrifying history of Tapsi.

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Literary

Confession

It creeps up on me when I eat, when I am sitting in the living room, when I am about to sleep.

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Artwork by Patricia Jardin

To rest is a sin.

In the quiet moments of this new sheltered life, I have come to accept that there is a small dark corner of my mind where all the dates of the calendar are marked. From the first week of April, to the last week of May—it’s all there. It is a small dark corner. It creeps up on me when I eat, when I am sitting in the living room, when I am about to sleep.

This small dark corner reminds me everyday of what’s about to come. I explain that I’m not ready, that I need more time, that this is new territory and I haven’t taken a step further since I came here—it doesn’t listen to me. It tells me to get to work. It tells me that this is my priority, this is what matters the most in this worldwide pandemic. It forces me to listen, to do as it says, to be its puppet to be controlled with the numbers controlling my arms and legs.

But this is just a small dark corner of my mind. There are other corners. Much bigger corners.

To rest is a sin. 

I have yet to be forgiven. 

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Literary

Little Bit of Paradise

You try to breathe in the catastrophe as your thumb keeps scrolling and scrolling and scrolling until the end is reached, leaving a deep void that makes you unable to speak or act.

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Artwork by Patricia Jardin

You wake up to the sight of your room’s white ceiling. The summer heat makes your skin sweat immediately. Piled up papers stare at you from the corner of the room along with unpacked belongings from the dorm––ah, yes. You are home––earlier than expected but still, you succumb to this little bit of paradise.

You breathe in the familiarity of your bed sheet’s smell, let every caress of the fabric give comfort up until you check your phone.

Three hundred thirty-nine new cases. The death toll is now at 704. Recoveries at 1,842. The total is now at 10,610.

This little bit of paradise began to crumble from the inside. Like a volcano nearing to erupt. The summer heat began to burn not only the skin but also made its way into bones and flesh. Piled up papers began to yell, screaming for a continuation. Gentle caresses became tight grips with nails digging deeper into full palms.

You try to breathe in the catastrophe as your thumb keeps scrolling and scrolling and scrolling until the end is reached, leaving a deep void that makes you unable to speak or act.

You see posts from people staying up in their ivory towers while waving their flags of toxic positivity for all to see. You grit your teeth in disgust. The screen refreshes, showing heroes and people trying to survive from exhaustion and hunger.

This little bit of paradise of yours completely crumbles, leaving traces of guilt, fear,  and anger, all in one.

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Literary

Finding Courage

In this time, praying has become a refuge. There is solitude in knowing that you are being heard and that what you are feeling and thinking are valid.

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Artwork by Patricia Jardin

It’s nice to wake up with the thought of having food served on the dining table for the day. When you know that you have a home, your family beside you, and wondering what you will do for the rest of the day. Make Dalgona coffee? Bake? Read? Watch a new TV series? Finally finish your school work?

Watching the news has become a staple in the household. Seeing the cases increase, people helping one another, our frontliners making things easier for us, and the struggle of the people trying to make ends meet despite the difficult situation. Suddenly, watching the news brings tension, stress, and anxiety. 

In this time, praying has become a refuge. There is solitude in knowing that you are being heard and that what you are feeling and thinking are valid. It is okay to be scared in times like these but know that these too shall pass. Courage is hard to find these days but waking up and getting out of the bed is a progress. I hope you find the courage to go on day by day.

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