Based on the success of the #WorldStoryBook, and a desire to support the writing community, & by extension, communities in the Philippines, we are launching the #PhilippinesStoryBook!
The #PhilippinesStoryBook, or #PSB, will bring new, young adult, and aspiring writers together in a collaborative process to create a thoughtful work of fiction. One writer follows upon the work of the previous author(s), maintaining the theme and direction of the story and abiding by story guidelines. The administrators (Edmalyn Petras and myself, Edge O. Erin) have final approval of the writing. While not all submissions will be approved, we will work hard to ensure each writer has an opportunity to correct/improve their work so it may be included.
Any profits from the #PSB (website reserved as www.philippinesstorybook.com) will go to community-based charities.
Note: Primarily this is a feel-good endeavour during the Pandemic.
For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/1100887080379806/about , message me here, or follow @worldstorybook1.
Chapter 1 (English version):
Preface: Everyone thought the year 2020 was perfect, but then the Pandemic struck, and the country – and the world – suddenly changed. Laws have been enacted, and health protocols are being strictly enforced to prevent the spread of the virus. Despite Lockdowns, cases continue to rise across the Philippines. Many people have lost their jobs. Some are working on getting out of poverty, but many are starving and in desperate need of help from the Government.
- Submitted by: Edmalyn Rose Petras, Valenzuela City
“Dad, I’m hungry,” Clara Perral moaned to her younger sister.
Beside her, her dad just sighed. Clara knew what was behind his reaction. Their stock was running low, and they don’t know where to get more food when what they have runs out. There are just the two siblings, but their dad finds it hard to keep them alive with the Pandemic.
Their dad was a tricycle driver, but he stopped driving during the lockdown. Their mother, on the other hand, has not been with them for several years. She is an OFW in Saudi, and her employer did not allow her to return to the Philippines. They haven’t heard from mom in months, and while they are worried, they can’t do anything because they are focused on finding a way to survive in this situation.
“Clara, give your sister food first.” Her dad ordered. Clara immediately went to the kitchen, followed by her little sister Carla.
Clara cooked Carla noodles because that was all they had from the help last week.
“Is there nothing else, Sis?”
“Let’s deal with this first, youngest.” Clara tried to smile at her sister even though she was hurt. Clara had to be strong because they had to lean on each other.
After she served the noodles to Carla, Clara approached her dad. “Dad, we have an exam later, but my phone load is low.”
“Your Dad’s pocket is empty now. And my load is also low, but I’ll lend you some instead of wasting time comparing.” After that, he hurried out of the house.
Clara was no longer sure of her path due to tears and turmoil. Her dad enrolled her in an online class, but she couldn’t help but feel guilty because it was already difficult. Her father was always in debt, but his friends were also in debt.
What is the Government doing? Can they not hear our cries?
- Submitted by A.M Falceso, Province of Romblon
As a student amid a pandemic, with a challenged sibling to look after, how could she cope? And what about tomorrow? How to live? Apparently, the Government couldn’t help.
It pained Clara to think that in the year she was supposed to finish elementary school, Covid had taken over. The smile so often on her lips was replaced by tears dripping down when she recalled the happiness and freedom of the previous year.
Suddenly Clara saw her dad come home and head straight into his room. He sensed her concern.
“Clara, take care of your sister first. I’ll be dizzy for a while.” Her dad told her to leave his room and the house for a short time.
She found some things to do and didn’t see her father leave again.
Clara began to think of her mother and wonder what her situation was like abroad? Clara slapped herself to regain her senses.
Returning to the house, Clara forced a smile as she pointed at herself in the mirror. “Clara, remember you have a dream that you want to build and achieve. Don’t give up! Fight as a noblewoman.” Her smile became wet from tears.
“Sis, why are you crying?” Asked her sister, Carla, innocently.
“Carla, you’re too young to understand what’s going on,” Clara said with a fake smile.
“Sis, I know our situation. Yes, I’m young, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know what’s going on. So wipe away your tears, and we’ll fight!” Carla said cheerfully.
Since they were little, they had much the same outlook on life. A little while later, they heard the door slam, and their dad came in sweating.
“Dad, what’s going on?” Clara wondered.
Clara saw her dad pouring the contents of a black bag out on the table, some phone load vouchers and miscellaneous items, and apparently, something else that he was searching for as he ran his rough hands through the things. Moments later, their front door flew off the hinges from the kick of a big man.
“No more run and hide! Let’s go to the jail!” The man said sternly.
Their dad had stolen for them. Clara could no longer stand what she saw, so she quickly tried to call their mother and hoped for a miraculous answer. There wasn’t a connection. She and Carla could not stop crying as the Police handcuffed their dad.
- Submitted by: Jip Philip D. Oliva, Quezon City
After Mang Cardo Perral was taken by law enforcement to the precinct, he was confronted by Binibining Sarah Deogracias, the woman who had her bag stolen.
The face-to-face meeting in the Police Chief’s private office was possible because Sarah Deogracias was friends with the city’s Mayor.
“Mang Cardo, is that right?” Sarah Deogracias asked.
“Yes, Miss,” Mang Cardo replied shortly.
“It’s just Sarah. Ah, Mang Cardo, why did you think of stealing?”
“Forgive me, Miss Sarah. I only did that because I feel sorry for my children. Their mother is in another country and has not sent anything or called in a long time. And we have been unable to contact her because we never have enough load. I’m just a lowly tricycle driver, and because of the Pandemic, I had no work driving.” Mang Cardo’s ended his lengthy explanation.
“Why didn’t you contact your village? Our government branches such as POEA and OWA are ready to contact your spouse, and if you have daily needs such as food and drink, there are some open twenty-four, seven. The office of our good Mayor is also open to provide assistance. Our Mayor can also provide you with a temporary income to survive in daily life. You can also apply for a food permit from the City Health Office. Even I might’ve loaned you something, had you asked. Need I say more?” Replied Bb. Sarah Deogracias.
The Police Chief listened carefully and quietly to his two guests and was amazed at Bb. Sarah Deogracias knowledge, clarity, and understanding.
“So how about it, Ms. Sarah? Are you going to file a lawsuit against Mang Cardo?” The Police Chief asked.
“I don’t think so, Chief. After all, I’ve recovered my belongings, and I wasn’t hurt.”
She then looked at Mang Cardo Perral.
“With your permission, Mang Cardo, I’ll accompany you to our good Mayor and request that he can give you a temporary job. I will also, with the help of the local Government, help you contact your spouse. I will do all this, providing you promise never to steal again. If you feel sorry for your children in their condition now, wouldn’t they be more miserable if you were imprisoned?” Bb. Sarah Deogracias reasoned.
“I promise, Ms. Sarah, I will never do it again, and you are right; the condition of my children will be much more pitiful if I am imprisoned. Thank you very much for your kindness; you are a great blessing. Lord have mercy on us who are so unfortunate in this time of Pandemic.”
After they signed the relevant documents at the precinct, Bb. Sarah D accompanied Mang Cardo to the adjoining building where the good Mayor’s office was located.
- Submitted by: Rudyard Dulag, Leyte
Clara could not help but cry and blame herself for what had happened and the shocking events she had witnessed.
She relived it all as she prayed in front of their altar at the church they visited every Sunday.
“My Lord, please guide my father and mother as well as my sister. Our family has done nothing wrong to deserve the misfortune we are experiencing in this Pandemic.” She sobbed at the altar while holding the white rosary that her mother had given her before leaving.
“Please forgive my father now that he has sinned. I hope that our once peaceful and happy life will be renewed. May you embrace the heart of any of us and save us from any kind of evil. Amen.” She then signed the cross and kissed the hand of the Saint.
She returned home to see her weeping and stunned sister looking out the window. Carla must be waiting for their father’s return.
“Sis, why isn’t Dad here yet? Is he coming home? Where is he?” Her sister asked one question after another.
She took courage and, with her father’s handkerchief, wiped away Carla’s tears. She smiled to try and drown out the bitterness that was welling up inside her.
“Don’t cry. I’m sure Dad will be here, so stop crying. Plus, your tears are making you filthy.” Now she was joking.
Even in better days, their family did not lose sight and heart to call on the Lord. Though it was a struggle to be a good student and responsible elder sister, she still believed good people would help her – and them – succeed.
She was about to join her sister in staring when a knock came to the door, roughly positioned in the doorway. It was one of their parents’ best friends, Maria Theresita Buitre Alfonso, from an adjacent village.
“Hija, I heard about what happened earlier, so I thought of visiting you. Here, I brought something.”
Clara greeted her with a smile and let her in. Maria emptied the contents of the bag on the table.
There were cans of juice and food, two bags of tasty bread, and three cups of noodles. Clara immediately put the items on shelves and re-mixed the juice they had leftover from lunch.
“Thanks for the food, Auntie.” She thanked Maria Theresita Buitre Alfonso, and they all sat down at the table.
“Don’t worry, Hija. All of that is a sincere gift. Plus, I came to help look after your little sister.”
Clara felt somewhat relieved, even a little happy, and she managed a genuine smile.
The Lord doesn’t really sleep. Thank you so much, Lord, for the grace you gave even though our dad sinned today. She said to herself.
Three hours later, with Maria still present, Clara was alerted to Carla squealing, so she immediately went outside to discover her dad walking up with a strange woman.
He was carrying large bags of food and smiling. Clara’s fear and pity melted away as she ran to her dad and hugged him. Tears of joy replaced ones of sadness, and the painful convulsions left her stomach.
The lady visitor witnessed the family’s deep love, pleasure, and thankfulness.
- Submitted by Apple D. Rural, Sorsogon City