[BLOG TOUR] Book Excerpts + Short Review: #buqoYA Bundle 5 – Perfect Moments | Book Review: Match Point Mishap by Madelyn Tuviera

In continuation of the #buqoYA blog tour organized by Dianne of the Oops! I Read A Book Again book blog (you can find the stories’ synopses on her blog), here are the excerpts from Bundle 5 called Perfect Moments (Note: Perfect Moments is the common theme of the bundle, but not necessarily the title of the stories).

Perfect Moments Banner

Something Real
by Charm Jacinto

I went to the shoreline barefoot and let the small waves tickle my feet. Biela already made friends and was enjoying the day as much as I did. Ben didn’t lie when he said that I will enjoy the beach. The scenery is just so breathtaking. The coast is clear, the skies are blue, powdery sand, and coconut trees are all over the island.

I can hear a reggae song – B.M.D by Insolence playing in the background, one of my favorite beach songs. I let the gentle sea breeze mess my hair and the cool water splash on my aqua sleeveless dress then I closed my eyes and seized the moment.

When I opened my eyes, I saw Brett standing in front me with his gorgeous eyes looking into mine.

“I was gonna tell you that they are all eating at the table” he said in a husky voice.

I snapped out of my reverie. Looking at Brett right now makes me feel safe and calm. Maybe I was staring too long because Brett started to become worried.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. I just remembered I forgot to put the suntan lotion in my bag”

“Suntan lotion huh?”

“Yes” I lied. “But seriously, I wanted to thank you for all your effort.”

“Effort for what?”

“Brett, you have my happy list in your head. The sunflowers, photos, beach, Biela…”

“And the quiet moment that I interrupted. So, you’ve noticed huh?” He said scratching his head. “Let’s just say, I’m saving a lab partner in distress.”

“Well, I”m happy to report that I’m getting back on my feet Sir! But what’s in it for you?” I asked curiously.

“I’m practicing my skills on how to save a life. I’m a future doctor, remember?”

“Really Brett? Do you want me to pack up and leave?”

“No no no you just got here. I was just kidding!” He touched my shoulders lightly. “When you became my lab partner, all I ever do is save you from trouble, not that I’m complaining. You’re one happy chaos in my very organized life.”

“Is that a bad thing?”

“Not really. I still consider you as my friend.”

Someone to Care
by Jessica Larsen

Humigpit ang hawak ko sa dala-dala kong traveling bag nang tumambad sa paningin ko ang malaking yellow two-story house with red roof mula sa kabila ng kinatatayuan kong mataas na metal bars gate. Hinila ko pababa sa knee level skirt ko ang sleeveless tee kong suot at humugot nang malalim na hininga. Tension filled my heart as my fingers hovered over the doorbell, but before I could press it, a teenage boy not far from my age, with tousled black hair and gray eyes, opened the gate. Nanigas ako sa posisyon ko nang magtama ang aming paningin. I saw recognition in his eyes, but before I could speak, a woman’s voice called out.

“Val, bumalik ka rito!”

“Sorry mom! Babalik din ako mamaya!” sagot ng binatilyong sa palagay ko ay may taas na 5 feet, 8 inches, given that I stood about four inches below him. He furrowed his brows at me, and without saying anything more, he dashed down the road before the woman got to us.

[MY SHORT REVIEW]

Someone to Care by Jessica Larsen is one of the stories I edited for #buqoYA, and I can say that it’s a classic hate you-love you story that will make you fall in love with her characters along the way.

As they say in Español, muy bien! 🙂 (P.S. Larsen is a Filipino author living in sunny Spain!)

A Moment Like This
by Sue Donymko

A few minutes later, Noel came out wearing shorts and a snug shirt. His legs were quite hairy, and she caught a glimpse of his trim stomach when his t-shirt lifted as he dried his hair. Kris told herself to quit staring or he might think she’s the maniac.

He laid down on the bed, made himself comfortable, and closed his eyes before acknowledging her statement. “Okay, what do you want?” he said tiredly.

“That’s it, what do I want?” she asked incredulously.

He looked at her and raised both eyebrows. “It’s not as if I don’t know what to not do such as not stare at your legs if you wear shorts,” he said innocently, but his eyes held a teasing gleam.

Kris flushed. “Touché. Okay, no staring. No going to each other’s beds. No undressing in front of each other, no leaving dirty clothes on the floor. I don’t want to see your underwear!”

“What makes you think I wear any?” he said, closing his eyes again.

She gaped at him until he started smiling.

He forced himself to sit up and look at her seriously. “I’m really not going to take advantage of you. I know we’re still in our hormonal years, but I do act like a human being ninety percent of the time,” he said.

This time, she was prepared for his teasing. “And ten percent of the time?” she asked lightly.

“That’s when I start scratching my head with my feet, start licking my balls, and howl at the moon,” he said with mock seriousness before laying down on his bed again.

Kris couldn’t help but laugh at that imagery. She caught him smiling just before he fell asleep.

The Offside
by KZ Rizman

I turned away the moment Geo tried to kiss me. It just didn’t feel right. None of these, however real they felt to me, was right. Everything was so wrong. Everything that led to this night had been lies – that photo wall, that chance to be with Matt again. If it was me who had been blindsided, I didn’t know. What I did know was that he was putting an end to it all.

“What are you doing?” I asked, my heart thudding against my chest. I’d push him out if I had the strength to do so, but having him that close to me drained me of my will.

He didn’t move nor did he say a thing after that, but I could feel tension slowly rising between us, the distance too close no matter how much I tried to get away from him. I couldn’t breathe. I felt my knees wobble, and I sat on my bed, calming myself.

“Zoey, I really like you,” he said.

“Please don’t.” It was a whisper.

“But I do. I do like you…”

“How could you do this to me?” I yelled at him. What kind of a sadistic asshole pushes a girl to the boy of her dreams, does sweet things for her and then tells her that he likes her, too?

Match Point Mishap
by Madelyn Tuviera

Wency gave him a long look, sucking in his bottom lip as he did so. He tilted his head, squinted his eyes. It was almost as if he was studying Lester, and maybe he was. Maybe this was what Wency did during down time, between matches – watch people move from one side of the court to another, trying to see if there was anything in their normal actions, gestures, reactions that could allude to the next shot they were going to make, or the block they planned to deflect his shots with.

“You look familiar,” Wency whispered. Slowly, he bent his knees before getting down on all fours, looking up at Lester through the narrow gaps of his bangs. “Very familiar.”

Lester took a deep breath. He was really bad at names, but he was dead sure he hadn’t seen Wency prior to the try-outs at the start of the week. His memory of faces and anything visual was impeccable, after all. So it only made sense that if they’d at least bumped into each other in a tournament or in school, Lester would’ve recognized him, picked him out from the crowd of aspirants hoping to make the badminton team. He didn’t have the biggest social circle, but having Jude and Jessica as close friends made him friends with everyone by extension.

And when he mentioned a certain ‘Wency David’ to both of them, they’d only said, “Oh wow, you remembered his name. Must’ve been really good, huh?”

Anything You Want Me To
by Audrine Pascal

“So where’s Via’s boyfriend?” I catch someone blurt out.

I’m supposed to debut Kyle Olvera tonight. I’m supposed to introduce him to all my friends. I’m supposed to make them all drool in envy, because he’s gorgeous and rich and totally hot for me. I’m supposed to drink and dance with him by my side. I’m supposed to take a million make out selfies when we’re good and properly smashed.

Where’s Kyle? The photo saved in my phone flashes before my eyes. Didn’t you see the picture online? It must’ve been shared a million times by now. He’s busy. Busy kissing someone else!

I was already home yesterday when my phone chirped to notify me that Kyle had just created a post. I opened the app to find the picture that would make me stumble backward and stifle an outraged scream.

It’s a close up. There’s Kyle’s unmistakably angular profile and it’s pressed against a face that isn’t mine. Pink lips, delicate cheekbones and unbelievably thick lashes that can only be fake or unfair. The caption: #todaywasafairytale.

Fairytale? What kind of a banal hashtag is that?

The girl is tagged in it. Who the expletives-that-would-make-my-dad-faint is Nicole Valencia? Who does she think she is? Doesn’t she know anything about Kyle and me?

He posted it. He wants me to see it. He wants everyone to know.

A boy breaking up with a girl is already bad. A boy breaking up with a girl, then getting it on with another one, is a jerk. A boy breaking up with a girl via text is listed in the dictionary under the word ‘asshole’.

But a boy breaking up with a girl, using a picture of him sticking his tongue down someone else’s throat, uploaded on social media?

OMFG, I want to die.

BOOK REVIEW

Title: Match Point Mishap

Author: Madelyn Tuviera

Format: E-book (ARC)

Synopsis
“Shit happens to the best of us,” goes a saying, and Lester Torres, a now-starving student-artist, cannot agree more. The family business has reached a steady decline. His parents are distraught. His education is at the risk of being put on hold because tuition’s too expensive, impractical. Something they are no longer able to afford. Unwilling to give up, he tries to apply for an athletic scholarship in the hope of keeping the dream alive. He was in the high school badminton varsity team, after all. Might as well put his dormant skill to good use, right? He aces the first few matches, winning them in a breeze, and thinks that he’s got this scholarship in the bag already. Easy as pie.

Enter a talented player by the name of Wency David, and Lester lands the first missed service of his game.

Review
Let me start by telling you that this story reminded me of Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan simply because this is probably the only second LGBT-themed story I’ve read.

Anyway, I decided to review this for Bundle 5 (aside from being the primary cover) because I found it unique and something that truly supplements what’s lacking in modern Philippine literature. It’s YA, it’s set in the Philippines, it’s LGBT-themed, and it’s about badminton. In fact, I learned a thing or two about the aforementioned sport because Tuviera‘s writing is so spot on, you’d think she plays the sport professionally (then again, maybe she does).

Overall, I liked it enough to give it a rating of 4 because it’s the kind of story that should be written more about and read in return. It enables people to have a more open mind about the LGBT community, including the challenges and triumphs they face not just in their love lives, but LIFE in general. 🙂

Rating: 4 out of 5

They were the misfits in this place, in this world. They stuck out like a fucking sore thumb, too red from being pushed down for so long. And a boy who likes a boy isn’t a boy who deserves to be happy. That’s what everyone says. That’s what the voice at the back of Lester had been saying for the longest time, for years. Forever. – Match Point Mishap by Madelyn Tuviera

Read the complete stories by getting your own copy of Bundle 5 from Buqo! 🙂

You can buy this book bundle from Buqo :)

You can buy this book bundle from Buqo 🙂

GIVEAWAY

Buqo is giving away a powerbank to a lucky Philippine reader!

To join the raffle, just click HERE!!!

Good luck!

♥♥♥

Read about the other bundles, too! 🙂
Bundle 1
Bundle 2
Bundle 3
Bundle 4

[BLOG TOUR] Book Excerpts + Short Review: #buqoYA Bundle 4 – Heart Choices

In continuation of the #buqoYA blog tour organized by Dianne of the Oops! I Read A Book Again book blog (you can find the stories’ synopses on her blog), here are the excerpts from Bundle 4 called Heart Choices (Note: Heart Choices is the common theme of the bundle, but not necessarily the title of the stories).

Heart Choices Banner

In That Summer
by Jayen San Diego

“Ordinary? Are you really that blind, Sean?” Red asked.

Sean self-consciously adjusted his eyeglasses and added, “Well, she’s not that stunningly pretty. I even doubt if she still looks cute without her makeup on. She’s only here because she’s the chairman’s daughter.”

Red did not say anything, and Sean already knew that it was the end of their conversation.

“Are you done with the supplies?”

Sean was startled when he heard Jaine’s voice come from behind Red. He glanced at Red, who looked equally surprised by her presence.

Did Jaine hear what I said? Sean wanted to ask.

When neither of the guys answered her, Jaine added, “There are still a few boxes in the stock room. And Miss Darson said you should hurry up.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Red responded.

He gave Jaine a playful salute and his infamous smile. Other girls would have swooned at this. Sean noted that Jaine wasn’t even slightly affected. Maybe Sean was wrong. Maybe Jaine wasn’t like every other girl.

Red left, enthusiastically roping other basketball team members into helping him on his way to the stock room. Sean turned his attention back to his task. He expected Jaine to leave, having accomplished her task. But she stayed and stared at him.

He wanted to ignore her, but he was surprised to find he felt self-conscious. He then reasoned to himself that it was just because he wasn’t use to working with someone watching him.

“Do you need anything else?” he asked without looking up from his checklist of supplies.

He waited, but Jaine just continued to stare. Irritated, he finally stopped working and gave her the attention she wanted.

“Do you need anything else, Miss Jaine Enriquez?” he asked again, giving emphasis to his formal way of addressing her.

To his bemusement, Jaine smiled. Her whole face brightened up when she did. And Sean was reminded of this season, of summer. He knew she wasn’t ordinary. But Sean would never admit he’d been wrong.

Until the Race is Over
by Lyca Caparos

“When I see her, I always feel na gusto ko siyang kausapin. I want to keep her nearer and nearer to my world. It breaks my heart whenever I saw her talking to someone else. Na parang naka move on na siya in just two damn months.” He said laughing though I know he’s deeply hurt, then continued, “She doesn’t realize how hurt I was. She doesn’t even care about me anymore. Ang daling kalimutan para sa kanya ang mga pinagdaanan namin. But for me, it hurts like hell.” Napayuko ako ng hindi niya makita ang reaksyon ko sa sinabi niya. Tama nga Traecy, gumising ka sa katotohanan.

Gusto ko siyang samahan kahit ngayong araw lang. Gusto kong pasayahin siya kahit para sa kanya corny. Gusto kong kahit ngayong araw lang, makalimutan niya ang sakit na nararamdamn niya sa babaeng ‘yon. Sa maswerteng babaeng si Lianne na hindi man lang na appreciate ang lalakeng tunay na nagmamahal sa kanya.

“Mahirap ang makamove on. Mahirap ang makalimot. Mahirap ang magbigay ng payo lalo na kung wala ka naman sa lugar. Pero gusto ko lang sanang sabihin sayo na… libre ang maging masaya Rico. It really takes a lot of time para makalimot, and it takes a lot of courage to stand up for yourself and to love yourself this time. Alam kong… hindi ako ang tamang taong magbigay sayo ng advice para sa ganyang bagay pero sana makatulong ako. Sana kahit hindi mo ako ganoon ka kilala, sana maalala mo man lang ang mga sinabi ko…”

“Looks like you’re good at advising ha. Sige nga, can you give me your final blow?”

I smiled and cleared my throat before saying anything. “If you’ve given a great love to someone before and that person never gave it back to you… someone will.”

On the Outside Looking In
by Claire Du

“Come on! We need those points! Run for it!” someone shouted from the benches. I knew that was Ezra’s ever-supportive dad who cheered for him at every game. I’ve been to all of them, too.

“Duck!” another spectator shouted.

My eyes followed Ezra, and I saw that he was running toward me. He was looking right at me! I wondered why.

*BAM!*

A football hit me in the face, blocking me from seeing the love of my life.

“Oww! That hurts!” So that was how people in Tube’s Funniest Videos felt. It wasn’t funny at all.

I held my face in my hands. It hurt so much that I thought my head cracked and I’d feel blood trickling on my arms. The football was there, lying innocently next to my feet.

“Hey, can you throw the ball back?”

Oh my freakin’ ball of fire. That was HIS voice. I composed myself and slowly raised my eyes. Unconsciously, I batted my eyelashes, so he could see how long they were. His hair was ruffled, his forehead glistened with sweat, and he had these lines between his eyebrows as a result of him frowning. But that face, with the thick brows, piercing brown eyes, and those lips that looked better when he smiled—that was the face I couldn’t seem to get tired of staring at.

“Here you go. And don’t worry, it’s totally okay. These things happen to people,” I mumbled.

I couldn’t stop from smiling widely even though I knew I had a big, red splotch on my forehead. Add to that my uncombed hair and the tears that were about to fall due to pain, and you have a good idea how pretty I felt right at that moment. Not.

What About Today
by Dawn Lanuza

Gemma glanced at her watch and remembered that she was supposed to catch the bus heading back home at 7 in the evening. It’s already 5. Did she really spend a lot of time staring at The Big Red Dragon earlier? Or did she take too much time at the gift shop to buy nothing?

She started feeling like two hours wouldn’t be enough to complete everything. Could she maybe extend? Then again, how would leaving play out exactly?

“Alright, I need to go” isn’t going to cut it. She and Aiden already had moments. Now they’re in this limbo between being strangers and friends. They weren’t exactly strangers, but they weren’t friends just yet.

Plus they’re in an amusement park. They just met. Did it count for something?

She wished this could be more of a train incident where people smiled at each other when one offered a seat and that’s the end of that. They all get off their stops.

And if she and Aiden were ever going to be friends, in the real sense of the word after today, how’s that going to work? They’re going to stay in touch by texting? Chatting online? It all seemed superficial. It was not like meeting someone in school; she’s required to see that person almost everyday, which made being friends with someone almost compulsory. But meetings like these…what did one do with them?

File them to chance encounters.

Gemma betted that if they lived in a different time, this is the kind of thing that would produce a pile of letters, mailed back and forth within long intervals. It could take days, weeks, and months even. But people were cool back then. Now, relationships could completely end over a person forgetting to text or call overnight.

She didn’t want that.

Barely Even Friends
by Kristel S. Villar

“Someone’s coming!” he announced, walking towards me in panic.

I quickly stuffed the paper inside my pocket and closed the drawer in haste. I watched Noah scan the room to look for a place to hide, and tugged me on my elbow when he saw a door at the corner of the room. He pushed me roughly inside just in time the front door opened.

We were in a dark and tiny broom closet. The air stank of floor wax, dust, and wood, making my nose itch. I reached up to rub my nose, but my elbow caught one of the shelves and it made a soft clatter. Noah seized my arm and cupped my mouth with his other hand, hushing me to keep me still.

“Hello?” the female voice asked. I recognized it as one of our substitute teachers, but I couldn’t remember her name.

We stood there for God knows how long as we listened to the shuffling of papers. I felt Noah’s chest rise and fall, and his hot breath on my forehead. I felt the way my small frame measured to his lean build, and the warmth of his hand holding my arm. I closed my eyes, feeling the skin of his palm on my lips and inhaling the scent of his cologne amidst the stench of the closet.

Stop it, Emily, I scolded myself.

The room fell silent a few minutes later. I pulled his hand away from my mouth and leaned over the door to get a better hearing but Noah pulled me back in his arms, perhaps afraid that I would make another noise.

“Do you think she’s gone?” I hissed at him.

“I dunno. I haven’t heard the door open yet. Keep still,” he whispered back.

Waiting for Whatever
by Fay Sebastian

I’m not a big fan of waiting. Ayoko sa mga taong laging late, sa mga mahahabang pila, sa kahit anong delayed—flights, release dates, pag-ibig…

Well…

Ayoko sa delayed na pag-ibig, pero naghihintay pa rin ako. At maghihintay pa rin ako. Kahit gaano pa katagal, hihintayin ko siya. Si TL, si The One, si soulmate, si ano, whatever you’d like to call him. Basta kung sino man siya, kung sino man ang inilaan para sa’kin, hihintayin ko siya.

At dahil nga ayokong naghihintay sa kahit anong bagay, ayoko ring nagpapahintay. Nasa airport ako, naghihintay sa pagbubukas ng check-in counters. Maaga kasi akong nakarating, maaga pa sa maaga. I came here early because I’m extremely excited for my flight and because if there’s one flight I can’t miss, it’s this one.

I don’t want to be late for Paris.

Tita Mel gave me a roundtrip ticket to Paris as a gift for my 18th birthday. I’ll stay in the city of love for two weeks. Part of me wants to believe I’ll meet him there. Maybe while staring at the view from the top of the Eiffel Tower, someone would say hi and poof. Let the magic begin.

Nagdala ako ng babasahin kung sakaling matagal-tagal pa ang hihintayin ko. Dinala ko yung novels sa reading list ko, pero nasa maleta lahat yun. Isa lang ang iniwan ko sa shoulder bag ko. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen—may nagsabi sa’kin na ‘di raw ‘to nakakasawang basahin nang paulit-ulit. We’ll see if that’s true. Let’s put this book to the test.

There’s a vacant seat between two boys near the check-in area. I wanted to take a seat and start reading the book, but when I saw who the two boys were, something inside me made me think twice.

[My Short Review]

I’ve had the privilege of editing Waiting for Whatever by Fay Sebastian for #buqoYA, and it’s actually one of my favorites! It’s a simple story that’s full of heart, and at such a young age, Sebastian does know how to surprise you in the way she tells a story about looking for love, experiencing heartbreak, and finding love again.

Bonus points for the change of POVs, too! So keep it up, girl! 🙂

Read the complete stories by getting your own copy of Bundle 4 from Buqo! 🙂

You can buy this book bundle from Buqo :)

You can buy this book bundle from Buqo 🙂

GIVEAWAY

Buqo is giving away a powerbank to a lucky Philippine reader!

To join the raffle, just click HERE!!!

Good luck!

♥♥♥

Read about the other bundles, too! 🙂
Bundle 1
Bundle 2
Bundle 3

[BLOG TOUR] Book Excerpts: #buqoYA Bundle 3 – Finding Fairytales

In continuation of the #buqoYA blog tour organized by Dianne of the Oops! I Read A Book Again book blog (you can find the stories’ synopses on her blog), here are the excerpts from Bundle 3 called Finding Fairytales (Note: Finding Fairytales is the common theme of the bundle, but not necessarily the title of the stories).

Fall for Grace
by Anne Plaza

Mabuti na lang at hindi nila kailangang mag-usap habang naglalakad. Mas kailangan nilang pagtuunan ng pansin na hindi masyadong mabasa ng ulan habang sinisigurong hindi liliparin ng hangin ang payong. Sa kahabaan ng kanilang paglalakad ay walang ibang nasa isip si Grace kundi ang pagkakalapit nilang dalawa. Hindi siya gaanong nilamig dahil na rin dito. Kung ganoon lang sana kadali patahanin ang dagundong ng kaniyang dibdib.

Ni minsan ay hindi pa siya pinakitaan ng kagandahang-loob ni Jason. Hindi rin naman niya sinasabi na hindi ito mabait; hindi lang ito naging mabait sa kaniya. Kaya nga medyo hirap siyang intindihin ang mga pangyayari, lalo na ang mga bagong nararamdaman niya sa mga sandaling iyon.

Gaya nga ng sabi nito, hindi malayo ang lakarin. Pag-angat niya ng tingin ay napansin niyang ilang dipa na lang sila mula sa waiting shed. Mabilis nilang tinungo iyon. Nang naroon na ay pinakawalan na siya ni Jason at nanumbalik na siya sa kaniyang katinuan.

“May Bus 5 na dumadaan dito. ‘Di ba malapit na yun sa inyo?” Pinapagpag ni Jason ang payong.

“Oo, pero lalakad pa ako nang kaunti.”

Tamang-tama, naaninag na nila ang ilaw ng paparating na sasakyan. Walang jeep o tricycle sa lugar at serviced vans lang ang nakakaraan doon dahil isang exclusive property ang buong compound ng Luna East pati ang dating subdivision na tinirhan ng pamilya Almeda.

“Heto.” Iniabot ni Jason ang payong sa kaniya. Napatitig lang siya dito na para bang nagsalita ito ng ibang lengguwahe. “Sabi mo maglalakad ka pa papunta sa inyo. Kakailanganin mo ‘yan.”

“Paano ka?”

Nagkibit-balikat ito. “Hindi naman ako mamamatay kung maulanan ako. ‘Tsaka dadaanan ng bus ‘yung bahay ko.”

“Sigurado ka?”

Hindi na ito nagpatumpik-tumpik at inilagay ang payong sa mga kamay niya. “Ayan na ang bus. Sige na, nang makauwi ka na. Baka hinahanap ka na sa inyo.”

Tumigil ang coaster sa tapat ng shed at sumakay na siya.

Tiyempong may bakante sa tabi ng bintana kaya doon siya naupo. Kinawayan niya si Jason nang umarangkada ang sasakyan.

Kumaway din ito sa kaniya, sabay kindat.

Just the Way You Are
by Kat Sales

Homeroom was Erica Valdez’s favorite time of the day. It allowed her to review the assignments she had due for the day, and if there were none, she could read a little of whatever book she had going on at the moment.

Her friends teased her a lot about it, but they knew her well so she didn’t mind. They benefited from it anyway, as Rica would look over their homework too.

The class adviser, Mr. Suarez, was early today. He was sitting at his desk when the students started coming in. It meant something, that was for sure. He never came early. He was always just on time.

When the clock hit 8:00, Mr. Suarez stood up and looked over the students, as if quietly doing a headcount. Once he was done, he started on the roll call. No one was late, for once, and no absent students either. The young teacher grinned, and half of the girls in the class sighed.

“Great to see you all. I hope you had a good weekend. We’ve got a couple of announcements that you might like.” He reached back on the desk and picked up a sheaf of papers. “Ok, first, your quarterly exams will be on February 3 to 7. Your teachers will hand out pointers for review within the week.”

The class groaned, and Rica couldn’t help but grin at that. No one liked quarterly exams, even she who was a pretty ok student.

Mr. Suarez looked over the paper he held in his hands again and read out the other announcements. He answered the questions the students had. Around thirty minutes later, he checked the clock. “That’s it.” He looked at the paper again. “Oh, I almost forgot. The junior-senior prom will be on Friday, February 14.”

Love in the Time of Viral Videos
by R. Linea

I – Hurley. Chen. Karim.

Are YOU ready to be famous? This is 15 Seconds of Fame! The show where we give everyone a chance for worldwide popularity and then be forgotten to obscurity. Like all you viewers know, we’re always on the lookout for either the next Ellen DeGeneres discovery or the next evening news exposé. Because here in Fame, fifteen seconds you’re in and the next fifteen, you’re out!

Grab your popcorn my lovely viewers and get your bandwidth ready for a slew of videos that’s worth your miniscule attention. Right off the bat, we’re serving you the nth version of Let It Go sung by an unknown Filipino! And he not only sings it perfectly, he does it without his shirt on, right in the middle of EDSA traffic! Talk about grit! Oh yes, two things Filipinos are infamous for, traffic inefficiency and hitting the high notes, together in just one video! Could he be the next Oprah protégé? Will his face launch the next thousand memes? Only time could tell!

And by time, I mean your fifteen seconds is up, Mr. Half-naked Elsa. We now move on to the sequel of one of the forefathers of viral videos. I present to you, Charlie Bit My Finger Part Toe! Awww…look guys. Charlie’s biting his brother’s toes this time. He’s so cute with his googley eyes…as he tears the entire toe off! Oh my freakin’ G! Oh, I can’t watch this. Too much blood! I’m blacking out! I’m blacking out! Oh this isn’t good. Why does their mom just keep on taking the video? Can somebody please hand over my barf bag? Somebody please report this video immediately! Take it down!

The Path of Us
by Cassandra Javier

“I’m sorry, okay? But Clara, you’ll do great. You’ll do amazing things because that’s who you are. You’ll manage out there because this is what you’ve always wanted, right?”

He went on, “And you know what’s even better?”

She looked at him and waited for what he had to say next.

“You’ll finally be able to get away with Pink or Purple streaks on your hair or whatever.”

She found herself laughing despite of herself. “Without you ratting me out?”

“It depends.” He quipped, smiling. “I might see you in college.”

“Oh god no.”

They laughed. “See? You look so much better when you smile.”

“I still hate you.”

He laughed. “If you say so.”

She didn’t know what came to her mind right at that moment but she found herself inching towards him. In a span of seconds, she was planting a kiss on his lips. It didn’t last long—just a few seconds or so, and she wanted to bask in that moment, feel the butterflies in her stomach, the warmth of the air, the romance that the light of the fireflies gave, but she remembered that a) she had a boyfriend, and b) she hated Andrew—this shouldn’t be happening.

“Clara—”

“I’m sorry.” She said. “I shouldn’t have—”

“No.”

“Please.” She said with finality. “I shouldn’t have done that. I’m sorry.”

She then ran away, leaving him and High School behind.

The First Time They Met
by Ana Valenzuela

“Can I ask you for something?”

“Sure, anything,” Micah was standing now, on her left, his back on the tree.

“Could we wait for the sunrise?”

He looked down on her as he nodded.

“It’s a photographic cliché, sunrise and sunset,” she said. “For me, the sun rising actually isn’t. It’s a different experience when you see the sun wake up instead of it seeing you get out of bed like everybody else. It’s the start of a new day, and that’s what makes it beautiful.”

“The first day,” he sounded like he just laughed. He folded his knees as he sat next to her. “I’ll wait with you.”

Butterflies flew inside Mayumi’s stomach as she stammered, “great play, by the way.”

When Cocoy Became Kikay
by C.P. Santi

“Since when did you start having a lablab, Coy?” Dags lifted a brow.

So much for keeping secrets. “So I like someone. Big deal.”

“Is… is it a guy or a girl?” Paulo asked tentatively.

I turned incredulous eyes toward him. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Dude, whichever way you roll…” Dags shrugged.

Oh, c’mon. True, I was a T-shirt-and-jeans kind of girl and I hung out with guys, but that didn’t automatically translate to such gender assumptions. Sure, I loathed boy bands. And I loved basketball, camping, and shooting more than the average girl should. Living with my dad hadn’t exactly encouraged girly pursuits. But still.

I sighed. “Dude, if I were gay, I’d tell you. But I’m not.”

“So, who is it? You have to tell us,” Paulo protested. He stood to tower over me, arms crossed over his chest.

“Aw, Coy, aren’t we friends?” Dags cajoled as he strummed the first notes of “Maalaala Mo Kaya.”

I sighed. Paulo, Dags, Joel, and I had been friends for years. The four of us were the only ones crazy enough to take up a dare issued by our neighborhood playmates—to see if a manananggal indeed left the lower part of its body at the abandoned Siangco house on Lilac Street.

Over the years, our friendship had been further cemented by bruises and scraped knees, basketball games, camping trips, fish balls, turon, and buko pandan royale, day-long village-hopping bicycle trips, and innumerable fries and Coke floats.

I never kept secrets from them. Usually.

“So who is it?” Paulo asked again.

Fine. I cleared my throat. “It’s… it’s Jaime.”

I counted five seconds of absolute silence.

Dags frowned. “Jaime?”

“Jaime Arguelles?” Paulo bent over, laughing. “Cocoy, you are so predictable!”

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