(LIMITED) CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

“Once upon a time…”

…is a pretty nice way to start a post about genre stories, don’t you think?

Once upon a time–I think it was about a dozen years ago, more or less–Philippine Genre Stories started, first as a print publication (with a blog at philippinegenrestories.blogspot.com), evolving later on into digital here on this website, though it had to stop due to the ravages of time (or rather, the lack of time to be ravaged).

I have to thank Celestine Trinidad, who reminded me via a tweet of a PGS story published in 2012, “Last Stand at Ayala Center” by EK Gonzales. The quote goes:

“And then the virus came, then the martial law order to stay indoors, the lock-down and the quarantine. The virus came, and like a vacuum it sucked up the future. Suddenly there was no time, not even to dream, not even to live.”

How apt and prescient, yes?

Locked up at home, do we have more time? Maybe, depending on your work-from-home situation. Are we running out of time? To dream? To live? Maybe also…

I posted about this quote just earlier this evening on my personal Facebook account, and then friends and former contributors Ian Rosales Casocot and F.H. Bataccan commented about how nice it would be if PGS could come back, and that a pandemic issue would be good, and suddenly the comments section of that post started getting populated, Dean Francis Alfar got tagged and so on and so forth until, well, here we are.

Here’s the meat of this post: This is a limited call for submissions for a digital pandemic segment for the Philippine Genre Stories website. I, as publisher and editor of PGS, am opening up for submissions, in any genre or mix of genres, submissions of stories about the Covid-19 pandemic. This call is open only to former writers and contributors who have been published in PGS.

Why am I limiting the call to former writers and contributors? Well, time is still short, for one thing, so I want to work with writers with whom I had already worked with before, who already know what PGS is about, and who I know can produce. You all know who you are, and I do want to give you all a chance again at getting a genre story out there via PGS. Just like old times, don’t you think? 😉

It is also limited because I do not see PGS moving on as an ongoing concern. Time, once more, is the opponent. I think I will have enough wherewithal to run and manage this for a limited period, for stories about the pandemic, and after that, PGS may need to “rest” again until such time as the ways and means come about for it to steadily continue again. How many stories will come out of this? I don’t know. I have the commitment of Dean, Ian, and Ichi, and that is something I value and am grateful for. I have tagged Celestine and EK here, so I hope they agree, too.

I am inviting all former writers who were published in PGS to send in your work. I won’t tag you all, but I do hope you see this, and I do want you to tell all those you know who have been in PGS to ask them if they will be willing to contribute a story. Please? 🙂 If you know any of them, please let them know.

Whether this runs just with Dean’s, Ian’s, and Ichi’s tales and be done, or if it gets to run on for just a bit longer with more former PGS writers sending in their work, I will be grateful. Whether this runs for just the very short period of a couple of months, or if it runs for longer, I will be grateful. But as F.H. Batacan said, it would be good to set these stories down as a record of these tough and challenging times in the form of genre stories. And maybe it will help relieve us of some of the stress of dealing with these times.

And, as usual, and paramount for me, it will give people a chance to read the work of Pinoy genre writers.

I will set the last day for submissions on October 31, 2020, but feel free to start sending in as soon as, say, August 15, 2020? And let’s see if I can start publishing online not long after that. The schedule will be flexible, but I will do my best to keep some steady flow of work going on Philippinegenrestories.com. You can email your submissions to pdofsf@yahoo.com. And it would be great to be in touch with all of you again, after all this time. 🙂 Cheers to you all, I hope you are all doing well, and are safe and healthy.

Bad Dreams

My lola always told me that if I had bad dreams I shouldn’t tell anyone about them. Talking about them meant spreading the seed, sharing the terror. And I wouldn’t wish that on any one, would I? That would be just mean. My dreams were vivid things too, especially the bad ones. The images were sharp as if they played from a digital movie reel, one that I was inside of. Only the hollow echo of the voices, and the blurred outlines of the scenery, together with this underlying knowledge that I was, in fact, in a dream, reminded me of what it was. Lola said that when I woke up from these things I should go to the guava tree in our backyard—any tree, actually—touch its trunk and murmur the nightmares to it. Only then will the dreams stop visiting me each night and leave me alone.

I had a bad dream five nights ago, and true to lola’s advice, I didn’t tell anyone about it. But I didn’t pass it on to our backyard tree either. I didn’t want its aged bark and its lush leaves to take this one dream away. Because in that dream Miguel was still alive. My Miguel. He was in the dream, and he spoke to me.

Continue reading

The Proper Princess Protocols

What To Do When Meeting Your Princely Husband For The First Time:

1. Smile adorably, even if you’re being jerked out of a pit with coarse rope.
2. Don’t correct him, when he claims his chicken is a phoenix.
3. Don’t correct him about anything, really.
4. Smile adorably, even if he’s smiling at another princess.

Within the realm of Things That Could Be Wrong with your Princely Husband, Juan’s flaws were really quite minor. In fact, Leonora was even willing to call them Wholly Understandable, if not Entirely Overlookable or maybe even Completely Forgivable (terms she was well acquainted with, considering their flagrant use to describe her father’s peccadilloes). After all, Juan’s positive attributes more than outweighed his imperfections. For one thing, he wasn’t Majarlikan. For another, he only had one head, walked on two feet, and had nice, even teeth instead of poisonous fangs. Which was not to say that Lea had anything against her latest spurned suitor, who wasn’t Majarlikan, but had seven heads, no limbs and a rather dangerous smile. (Except that Lea did have a small issue with how inhuman her suitor looked, though she knew it wasn’t his fault he was born as a seven-headed snake.)

Despite the unassailable logic emblazoned in her mind, Lea still found herself uncomfortable with the given circumstance. It wasn’t because Diego, Juan’s older brother, was ignoring her (Lea had come to understand that a number of people were destined to have dubious taste if not imperfect eyesight). It wasn’t because Pedro, Juan’s oldest brother, was giving her some Flattering Attention (Lea couldn’t fault him for being appropriately dazzled by her beauty, charm and ample breasts). It wasn’t even because Juan was smiling at the Sampaguita-Smelling Princess in pretty much the same way he had smiled at her (because Juan was obviously just being polite).

The only flaw of Juan’s that bothered Lea, really, was the chicken.

Continue reading

The New Daughter

When the boy inevitably grew up, married and moved away with his own growing family, the toymaker decided to make a girl. He did it this time in secret, afraid of what his neighbors would think, fearing the potential unjust accusation of prurience when all he wanted was someone he could talk to, whose conversation would eradicate the heaviness of his solitude.

He worked at night, carving wood with his spotted hands by the feeble light of low and fat candles he favored from his youth, recalling how he watched his grandfather shape magic from wood and humming a song whose words he had long forgotten. He worked from midnight until just before dawn for five weeks, struggling with the impatience that old men with erratic memory suffer, losing himself in the methodology of his craft, shaving wood to reveal the delicate limbs and the small torso of his waiting daughter. Then at last he reached the part he liked best: shaping the girl’s face, determining the contour of her cheeks, the ridge of her brow, the curve of her chin, the hollow of her eyes. For her hair he chose the color of burnished bronze, planting and pulling the strands in and out of her hard scalp. For her eyes he selected the color of the bluest sky, fitting the glass spheres with a precision that only a master toymaker possessed. Just before he finished, he covered her polished nakedness in muslin and lace, cutting and sewing the sleeves and the hems and the ruffs, just as the sun came up.

The toymaker straightened up and grimaced at the creak of his aching back and looked at his new daughter, reaching forward to gently put an errant lock back in place.

“Now we must be patient, you and I,” he told her. “If my son could come to life, then certainly so can you.”

Continue reading

Retokado

She hoped the crisp warmth of the morning would persevere until early afternoon, aware that only on warm days do Manang Yna’s therapeutic massages work best. Mai needed a particularly potent dose for tonight: Jun, her husband, was coming home early. She made sure of it during breakfast when she seasoned his fried eggs with salt and a pinch of finely ground mermaid bones.

“I’ll cook dinner tonight. You don’t have to bring home fast food or pancit.” Mai smiled. Jun almost missed it on his way out. He looked back at her through the aluminum screen door, anxious to be gone.

Ano? Ano?”

Magluluto ako ng ulam pang hapunan.” Mai winced as the door shut. After that, she phoned Manang Yna.

The retired nurse was gifted with the ability to reform her clients’ appearance and reinvigorate their bodies. Over the phone, Mai explained: last night, she found her husband’s collection of naughty videos on their computer. She must have sounded defensive, she apologized, she was looking for recipes for sinigang na sirena.

The older woman was completely sympathetic. Masahe lang iyan, iha, stressed ka lang. Mai refused to regret poisoning her husband, setting a trap for him, and preparing, even now, to seduce him as revenge. Hindi ka naman papatay, diba?

If Mai described girls in her husband’s favorite videos, could Manang Yna mold her face into a passable replica, for a fee? Mas mahal yun than the regular massages she enjoyed to maintain her figure and, sometimes, to enhance her breasts. Pero oo, syempre, para sa’yo. Anong oras ka pupunta rito?

So, tonight, her husband would come home to a woman he enjoyed and the women he loved could finally, finally enjoy him. But she needed him to come home.

Continue reading