Book Launch! #ChocolateInk

book launch

Yes, that’s right! Say hello to Book 2 – Chocolate Ink!

I haven’t been posting these past few months because, aside from work and preparation for other monumental events, I have been working on this project. And so here it is! My second baby is out!

All the love and a whole lot of credit go out to:

  • Chito Rosario and Christina Crisanto for their lovely illustrations
  • Edward Louie Nonay for designing the book cover
  • Kate Ashlyn Dayag for her calligraphy skills
  • Adrian Crisanto for organizing the event, for the poster, for his support, and for his amazing idea box
  • Kristine Cimafranca for letting us use her cafe for the launch
  • Books On Demand Philippines, Inc. for printing my books out, once again

Find the event page for the launch here. More details about Dialogue Cafe here. <3

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The Girl Who Sailed with a Star

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There is a village in Benguet where a giant wearing a broad-brimmed hat spent days staring at the sun and nights talking to the moon. They called this giant Mt. Kalugong. For, the truth was, he was simply a mountain who came alive while children slumbered underneath thick knitted blankets and dreams.

At the foot of Mt. Kalugong, there lived a little girl shy as a tiny mouse. She rarely went outside the doors of their steel and wooden house.

“Nabuteng, please buy vinegar from Manang Rosa.”

“Can someone else do it, Mama? Aling Rosa scares me.”

“Gahh, fine, I’ll ask your brother. Balong, gumatang ka ti suka! Did you ask Manong Nestor if he’s done making your uniform already?”

“I haven’t, Mama. I don’t think I can speak in front of Manong.”

“If you won’t ask, who will? Not me, not your Papang, not Balong. Hay!”

Such was the usual exchange between Nabuteng and her mother.

One February night, a star danced over the child’s bedroom window. The star had heard about the girl who was too timid to go out. She peeked through the curtains. She watched the child’s chest rise and fall, and rise and fall, and rise and fall, and she wondered what scared Nabuteng so when she was awake. Sleeping, the child didn’t seem to be afraid of anything.

“Child, come away with me.”

They had already soared over mountains, over valleys, over hills, over plains when Nabuteng’s eyes flickered open. “Whe-where am I??? Wha-what is happening to me?”

“Hello, Nabuteng. Welcome to the world beyond.”

“Be-beyond?? Ta-take me home! Take me home please.” Nabuteng whimpered as she covered her face with her hands.

“You’ve made it this far. I will take you home. But I have yet to show you more.”

The child continued to snivel. But slowly, as they continued to sail over more mountains, over more valleys, over more hills, and over more plains, wonder replaced the fear in Nabuteng’s eyes.

“This… This is amazing…”

“It is. I’d like you to meet some other stars, too.”

“Wha-what? Other sta-stars? No – I can’t!”

“Yes, you can.”

And on and on they sailed.

“Hello, Nabuteng.”

“Hello, child.”

“Such a lovely girl.”

Little by little, the bashfulness in her heart disappeared.

“He-hello.”

“Hi… I’m Nabuteng.”

“Hello… Nice to meet you, star…”

And on and on they went some more, until Nabuteng realized that they were home.

“See, that wasn’t so bad now, was it?”

“No… It wasn’t. Thank you.”

The child crept back to her bed, the stars and the mountains tucking her back to sleep.

The next morning, as Mt. Kalugong said good morning to the sun, he saw at the corner of his eye a little girl emerging out of a steel and wooden house waving at the sky.

Assignment 3 (Coursera: Writing for Young Readers)

The Frozen Guitar

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Billy’s guitar was frozen. Yes, frozen. No, not broken. He hadn’t used it in a while. Well, eleven-and-a-half months to be exact. A few more days and it would be a year since he strummed its silver strings and cradled its mahogany body. How he missed making melodies with his faithful friend.

But Billy wasn’t as faithful to his friend as his friend was to him. He had unintentionally tossed the guitar aside ever since he got busy with school, with his football team, and with trying to impress Leah, the loveliest girl in his grade. Actually, Leah was the reason he got into football in the first place. He reckoned she’d be into guys who did a lot of sports.

Yet, after months of kicking a black and white ball around, Billy apparently still didn’t manage to make it into the girl’s radar. As much as the smart, beautiful, kind schoolgirl made butterflies flutter inside his belly, Billy decided it was time to let Leah go and move on.

“There you are, old friend.” Billy found the guitar freezing away in an isolated corner of his room. Frost had crept along its neck. Icicles were hanging from its tuning keys. Crystal strings had replaced its silver ones. “What happened to you?”

The instrument hummed weakly in response. Regret washed over Billy as he recalled all the songs he and his guitar used to play together. “Remember Elvis?” came a feeble sigh. “Remember the Beatles? Remember Imagine Dragons?”

“I remember.”

Billy took the guitar into his arms. As he did, the ice began to melt away. Not magically, like in movies and cartoons. It was messy. Drops of water gathered around his bedroom floor. He patted the instrument dry using an old sweatshirt. “Let’s start making melodies again.”

Assignment 2 (Coursera: Writing for Young Readers)

By the La Trinidad Bonfire

bonfire

There was nothing more delicious than the taste of marshmallows roasting on an open bonfire. Liwayway took a bite and the sticky sweet melted into a sugary blanket across her tongue.

“Is it Christmas in Australia already?” Liwayway’s younger sister was tugging on the hem of her woolen sweater.

Liwayway scrunched her eyebrows together. “I think so, Ningning. It’s around 10pm here. It should be already past midnight over there.”

Ningning pulled the bonnet with the words “Baguio City” tighter over her forehead. “Is it cold over there, like it is here?”

“No, Ningning. Tito Pacifico said that it is summer.” The little one was snuggling closer to her. Reluctantly, Liwayway put her arms over the child’s shoulders. When she looked at Ningning, two eyes as round as Jeepney headlights were looking up at her.

“Summer??? How can it be summer???”

Liwayway shook her head, exasperated, but only a bit. “It’s because they’re… down under.” Tito Pacifico had sent a greeting card through email earlier that day. It had a drawing of Santa Claus wearing shades and shorts, drinking lemonade by the sea. There was a red-nosed kangaroo beside him. “Merry Christmas from Down Under!” It said. Liwayway wasn’t exactly sure she could give a lecture about Northern and Southern Hemispheres just yet.

“So, does that mean… we’re up over?” Ningning began humming a portion of the Benguet Hymn. “Dear land of mine underneath the starry sky so close to God…” She thought to herself as she wriggled out of Liwayway’s arms. Surprise lit up her windburned face. “We are up over!”

Tita Maricor, who overheard the girls’ exchange, let out a hearty laugh. “Now what are you two talking about? I think you’re just too hungry, waiting for the Noche Buena. Come, let me pour some Tsokolate for you.”

“Yehay!” The two girls scrambled towards their aunt in excitement. But then Tita Maricor saw Ningning’s eyes cloud over slightly.

“What’s wrong, balasang?”

Ningning tried to smile. “Tito Pacifico won’t be able to enjoy Christmas as much us. It’s too hot for Tsokolate over there.”

“Oh, Ningning…” Liwayway chuckled as she took a sip from the piping hot drink. Hmm. Actually, there was something more delicious than roasted marshmallows. Tsokolate. And the tender love of her little sister.

Assignment 1 (Coursera: Writing for Young Readers)

Threads

We’re interwoven. We pretend to be autonomous or we would like to think we are. But somehow, something in the universe connects us, binding us in more ways than we had originally known.

A Malaysian tells his taxi driver kanan and the guy goes right. A Filipino tells a pedicab driver this and he does the same.

A Filipina yuppie recalls watching Ultraman as a child. An Indonesian professional says he did the same.

And on and on. Tiny threads that string us together into a colorful banner circling through the world.

culture

Weak Spot and Happy Pill

You are my weak spot and happy pill. I barely know how to resist you nor can I ever deny you. I can’t keep a grudge on you for too long. But then there are days when you frustrate me, devastate me, and I try to rack my brains as to the what, the why, the how did I ever fall for you in the first place?

But even after my emotions go plummeting down, one dose of you and I’m up above the clouds again.

weak-spot

No More Countdowns

I’ve only realized all my countdowns have disappeared. I used to keep track of the days till our next rendezvous – 157 days, 98 days, 85 days, 63, 47, 22, 10, 5, 1. But now, time has already started to stretch on till eternity, like train tracks that seem to have no end.

At times, I still get anxious when I don’t see you in a while. But then, I simply breathe in and remind myself, “I’ll see you on Friday, I’ll see you on Sunday, I’ll see you soon, soon.” The days are no longer numbered. Fridays, Sundays – they are all tomorrows, and they sneak up on me as quickly as the next train stop.

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