Chapter 1: (v.2) Brewing Pressure

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Review Chain

Reads: 64

Tuesday 6:00 A.M.

December 21, 2021

Davao City, Philippines

 

"Hello hello hello~ How are you all, our dear listeners? Good morning! This is DJ Joyce and today you're listening to..." The radio host smacked her lips seductively. "Love Letters~"

 

A cheesy jingle reminiscent of sparkles played in the background. "Let's not keep you waiting, shall we? Here is our first sender of the day! Dear Jodie..."

 

Chocolate listened attentively to Mama Joyce as she pierced her chorizo* with a fork. She wanted to hear the morning news from this radio channel, but this love program would always come first. She could change the channel, but she was not the only one listening. Love Letters is her mother’s favorite program. Her mother could still hear the lady host reading from the downstairs bathroom. After her, Chocolate will take a shower down there next. Then she'll be listening to world news as she scrubbed herself down.

 

One can see the illogic on why such a suggestive program would be available this early, when children could already be awake. Chocolate wondered about that too when she first heard Love Letters. She theorized that because most of the available demographic left for the radio are older people, they became looser on mature restrictions.

 

"Finish that and take a shower already. Vanilla still hasn't taken a shower either. You’re not the only one with school today. Your school is so far away it takes three jeepney* rides. When will you not be late Choco, hah?"

 

Chocolate's ears instinctively flinched at her mother's sudden arrival with her nagging. By her side, her little sister urged her too. "Yeah, ate*! I'm going to be late as well!"

 

"Opo* Ma." Chocolate hurriedly stuffed everything in her mouth and headed to her and her sister's room to get her uniform and other essentials she needed. Behind her, she heard her mother ordering her to wake her brother up before going downstairs.

 

Chocolate kicked her older brother's butt. "Kuya*, wake up."

 

Mint responded by burying himself further in his blankets.

 

"Ma, kuya won't wake up." Chocolate cried out.

 

"Then use water!"

 

Chocolate grinned. "By the power of the water goddess, Tubig*! I bless this water to be holy water! Expelliarmus Satañas!"

 

She took a water bottle and whisked its contents against her sleeping brother. She must have miscalculated her strength because half of the contents spilled all over.

 

"Oops."

 

Mint screamed. "I'm gonna kill you Choco!"

 

Chocolate bursted out laughing and ran away. As she went down, she couldn't help but pout at their names.

 

Chocolate, Vanilla and Mint.

 

hAHAha. Their mother's so funny.

 

At least it suited their surname. Sorbetes is just Filipino for ice cream after all.

 

Chocolate held the dipper* and filled it with water before pouring it all over her body. From upstairs, the news had finally started. Chocolate listened with great interest. These past two years, the world has had nothing but bad news.

 

It first started with the worldwide pandemic in 2020. It’s still ongoing but they loosened restrictions in October this year at 2021 because the people couldn't handle the losses anymore. Therefore, they just had to live with it. The impact it had on everyone was brutal. Her brother who was a fresh graduate couldn’t get a job because of the unfortunate timing. Her mother had also lost her job so she had to resort to selling siomai* in their neighborhood. The savings they had painstakingly tried to earn for years was rapidly eaten away. The great recession afterwards hit hard as well. Everywhere, people lost their only source of income. The days only became bleaker when natural disasters arrived and wreaked havoc, further amplifying the damage. It was a testament to the rapidly increasing climate change. Tensions between countries boiled hotter. Trade wars amidst great powers escalated with the threat of real war on mainstream talks lately. Many religious fanatics screamed the end of the world.

 

Chocolate's family's disposition could still be considered lucky compared to most of the urban poor that lived in the Philippines' slums. The Sorbetes family understands this so they try to make the most of everything every day.

 

Chocolate and her family lived in Davao City. It has a population of about two million and a size of 2,444 square kilometers. To put more into perspective of it's massive land area, it is equivalent to about more than three times the size of New York City (784 square kilometers). It stands out amongst other cities in the Philippines with its safety and orderliness.

 

The city has another notable characteristic- the obvious presence of development. Since Davao City had become a good place for foreign and local businessmen, investment poured in. At the city's downtown, tall skyscrapers can be seen under construction as crumbly two-storey buildings are left down below. Another sign of this development could be seen with the wide areas of forestry that are commonly seen at the sides of the streets' uptown. As time passed and the uptown became more developed, these forest areas became less and less.

 

The pretext of only building two-storey buildings before actually has a reason. Unlike the nation's capital Manila, Davao City is often plagued with earthquakes. That's why people years ago could only build low. But ever since anti-earthquake technology and techniques from Japan were imported, Davao City could build higher and sturdier buildings.

 

The recent earthquake in Davao is the primary objective of Chocolate for listening today. The earthquake a few days ago was overwhelmingly strong compared to the usual 4.0-5.0 magnitudes. It was a miracle no one died. A lot of things fell down and broke inside their home. Chocolate touched her semi-wet uniform and silently wept internal tears. Because of the earthquake, the spin dryer broke and she had to settle for drying her clothes with the iron.

 

The earthquake was so severe they were ordered to evacuate outside for several hours. There were no aftershocks since then so they all returned to fix their house shortly after. It didn't really matter because the people of Davao City were long used to earthquakes.

 

A common reaction inside the Sorbetes household would not be panic but a statement of "There's an earthquake." Soon after it'd be followed by an affirmative nod by the other party eating at the other side of the table.

 

Chocolate knows that the reaction of her family is too complicit. But the earthquake wasn't followed by a tsunami either, so maybe it's okay?

 

The voice of the male reporter could be clearly heard by Chocolate even as she shampooed her hair. "On December 18, 2021, just last Saturday, an earthquake with a magnitude of around 6.8 was felt throughout Mindanao. The epicenter of the earthquake was speculated to be near Samal Island. There were casualties of about 7 found dead and many people were injured."

 

Chocolate's head perked up in surprise. Samal Island was a tourist island known for its beautiful white sand beaches and dense forestry. The island is very close to Davao City, so citizens can commonly vacation there during weekends. All it takes is to ride a ferry.

 

No wonder the earthquake was so strong. Her house is near the beach which faces the sea close to the island.

 

The reporter continued. "The following day, another earthquake was felt near Cagayan de Oro City. The earthquake exhibited the same magnitude as the earthquake in Davao City. Ever since December 1, numerous earthquakes have been felt everywhere the globe especially in key or major cities of every country. At the wake of each earthquake, a dark rift is left above the epicenter. Experts speculate that it is a tear in the space and time continuum. But we still can’t deny the possibility that it may be aliens. If this would be the case, humanity might be soon taking our first step to extraterrestrial communication. So far, no adverse effects in the natural environment near the rift have been detected. Numerous testing with the rift in New York has yielded sparse results, with observatory drones set to fly near it losing all control and falling within 10 meters. As protocol, residents in Samal and General Santos City have been evacuated until further information about the rifts have been found and it is designated as safe. Yet despite numerous warnings, many residents living in both cities continue to stay. Please leave soon so we may assure your safety. For the safety of all citizens outside these cities, all pathways leading to the rifts have been blocked. To secure the area, military installations were put near the rifts."

 

With the last rift arriving in Cagayan de Oro, that makes the total rifts five, which is similar to all other countries.

 

Yes. Even countries like Singapore or The Vatican City. The rifts held no discrimination about the size involved. As long as it was recognized as a country, the rifts would appear. This phenomenon sparked many issues. Chocolate sighed.

 

'Just what is happening to the world?' she thought.

 

First the pandemic, then this. If the rifts tend to appear in key cities, then shouldn't it have appeared nearer in Davao City? Chocolate wondered.

 

Oh, she didn't think it should. She just wondered why it didn't.

 

That's not to say that it still isn't near Davao City. Because of the close proximity between the two cities, even the mayor has been thinking whether the true goal of the rift is Davao City and the citizens should evacuate. Not to mention, the body of water separating the two places is shallow. It is a dreadful thought.

 

Because the economic impact of the pandemic is too great, Davao City tried to be business as usual despite the risk. The city maintained itself to be on high alert. Curfew was strictly implemented and there was even a liquor ban.

 

The situation is the same for all countries. Because of the pandemic and the loss of major cities, even the rivalring United States and China were at the end of their ropes but still tried to conduct business.

 

"Choco, until when are you going to wash up? It's 6:30 already!" Chocolate's mother banged at the bathroom door.

 

"Ate, I still need to shower!" cried out Vanilla.

 

Chocolate snapped out of her thoughts and hurriedly washed away all her soap. These days her anxiety has been piling up inside her stomach, giving her an unpleasant feeling all over her body. Chocolate always had the knack in sensing danger, like when she senses an upcoming school assignment. She hopes that it'll all be for naught. If what she read turns out to be what happens in real life, then the world will truly delve into hell.

 

At the center of her worrying heart was a tiny flicker of reassurance that if it would indeed truly happen, then surely someone will rise up against it as she had always read.

 

With her cluttered thoughts in mind, she dried herself then wore her P.E. uniform along with a jacket and stepped outside to get ready for school. She has to go faster otherwise she'd be late again. Traffic is heavier these days with the holiday season and an escalating number of patrol and military cars in the street.

 

 

 

Tuesday 7:37 A.M.

December 21, 2021

Davao City, Philippines

 

When she arrived at school with a few lucky minutes to spare, she could already hear her classmates grumbling.

 

"Why do we still have to attend school today?" Her seatmate Dennise complained.

 

"It can't be helped, there's a quiz today." Her other seatmate Marlon replied.

 

"Ugh!" Dennise cursed the ceiling. "Not only do we have no Christmas Party, we have a quiz! Can't we just die already?!"

 

"You went crazy, girl?" Marlon raised his brow.

 

'It's because you guys kept on postponing the math quiz...' Chocolate thought and shook her head.

 

When she had fully seated herself, she peered around the room to see her classmates. The effect of the pandemic is clearly seen. All of them are still wearing face masks, including her.

 

Despite having a quiz today, a lot of her classmates are still absent. Maybe they got scared with the earthquake and the recent appearance of the rift? In recent days, students in school are becoming less and less. A clear sign that people were leaving Davao City.

 

Chocolate can't blame them. She'd stay home as well if she had the balls. But she's a scholar so she can't skip classes.

 

The pandemic did not only rob them of their first year in senior high within the pristine walls of the private school. It also postponed their first day of face-to-face classes to the point that they had to attend classes until four days before Christmas to pad out their attendance.

 

Chocolate swallowed the bitterness in her throat.

 

"Guys, guys! It's here, it's finally here!" One of her classmates came bursting through the door.

 

"What's here?" asked her first period teacher who just arrived.

 

"The WiFi!" The classmate cried out in joy.

 

Cheers from all classrooms resonated throughout the hallways as internet servicemen in red were seen through the windows, walking while carrying the kits that were installed for the WiFi. For the students, they were seen as marching angels sent from heaven to bestow gifts.

 

Originally, only the library had WiFi available for students and installing WiFi in the classrooms as well was in debate for a long time. But since this year's batch has been especially unlucky, the school staff decided to give it as a Christmas present today. It's a shame they'll only get a few months using it though.

 

"Ma'am what are we going to do today?" Marlon asked the teacher.

 

"Hmm? Oh we're doing nothing today."

 

More cheers erupted from the class.

 

The teacher explained. "Since we're about done with the course material already, I'm not so heartless to give a lecture this Christmas week. I'll just tackle it shortly next year but I won't include it in the final quiz before the exam. Consider it as your Christmas gift from me."

 

"Yes! Thank you, ma'am! You're the best!" Dennise yelled out loud.

 

"Just do what you have to do today." The teacher waved her hands away to quiet everyone.

 

Chocolate settled down along with the rest and pulled out her math notebook. She was going to study for the math quiz. But then she caught a glimpse of her phone sitting on her desk.

 

'Eh. I'll just study during lunchtime.' She picked it up and continued rereading a manhwa.

 

"Hey Choco, do you remember what we have to put in to log into the WiFi?" Marlon asked her.

 

"It's your first and middle name initials followed by your surname. The password is your school number." Chocolate replied.

 

"Like this?" Marlon showed his entry to her. It was wrong.

 

"Give it to me. I'll do it for you." Chocolate offered.

 

"Okay~"

 

"Hey, do mine too!" Dennise butted in.

 

"Okay." Chocolate took her phone as well.

 

"Thanks Chocolate. You're the best. You’re always so reliable."

 

Chocolate smiled.

 

"Yo, I know that!" Marlon pointed at the images after she set her phone aside. "That's the comic with the rifts. I read it as well. That one's good. I'm not sure about the rest though."

 

Her friend and fellow scholar Gillian went to her to ask about a math question, but she was caught in with the topic. "Oh I heard about that. They say that ever since the rifts appeared, Korea and some of its authors have been under fire because of the similarity in concept to real life. They all denied it to be a pure coincidence though. Well, the concept isn't that much of a stretch in the imagination so I kind of get it."

 

"If a world-crossing supernatural event should've happened, I wish Isekai* did instead." Chocolate laughed. "At least no one would notice much and everyone wouldn't be so stressed. They'll just have to ban Truck-kun*."

 

"Hey, do you really think that monsters will burst through the rifts? Just like in the comics?" Cold sweat formed on Marlon's forehead. Marlon was never interested in the works Gillian and Chocolate were spouting before. He read it to sate his curiousity. He only wished that nothing bad would happen. 

 

"I don't know. But from what I heard again, in the comics monsters usually started to come out in the New Year,” said Gillian.

 

"What?! Oh I'm very much leaving this place after Christmas."

 

"Hey Marlon you don't know. What if it was today instead?" teased Dennise. "Remember when they said that doomsday was December 12, 2012? What if we got the Mayans all mixed up and it's actually today?"

 

Marlon flung a pen at her. "Don't joke about that!"

 

Dennise laughed as she dodged it.

 

Chocolate took another look at the dark gate the protagonist was about to enter in the manhwa.

 

The premise was simple. One day, rifts or gates or dungeons or tombs or towers suddenly burst through anywhere on Earth. From those openings, great monsters came out and massacred people, or people had to enter and massacre these monsters. Modern weaponry was inadequate or useless against them. To combat the monsters, special people were granted powers. They are called hunters or something else, depending on the author. These individuals enter the openings and close it by slaying the boss inside. As more openings are cleared, the stakes get higher like a game.

 

It is up to the protagonist to resolve everything. Often, the protagonist is usually a weak nobody that acquires a cheat with great perseverance or dumb luck, or someone who reincarnated and becomes the strongest in the end, saving or condemning everyone.

 

The premise may vary with some alterations in every manhwa of the sub-genre, but the general consensus of it all was that the protagonist would rapidly get stronger like they're in a game.

 

During quarantine, Chocolate didn't have much to do so she indulged herself in manhwa. At first, she read shoujo to soothe her lonely heart. But that just made it worse. So later on, she switched to action manhwa to escape loneliness. She got hooked with a few good titles and she's been craving for more updates ever since.

 

She could finally understand why these types of stories always dominated in the trending charts of the website every week. They were thrilling.

 

Chocolate tried to fill the new gap with other manhwa of the same sub-genre but the quality wasn't the same. So now her heart's lonely while being addicted to adrenaline.

 

Ever since the rifts appeared, the already popular 'like a game' manhwa gained more traction with the curiosity of people kept piling over. Because of the massive attention it had gotten, plenty of servers shut down trying to cater to the great number of users. For the original sites in Korea, that's what the authorities made the people believe. Truthfully, they shut it down for damage control. The only current locations where the manhwas could be read now were illegal sites. The greatest downside to the whole fiasco was that all updates ceased.

 

The reactions of people towards the rifts were varied.

 

Some people were excited about what's going to happen next.

 

Cough. Weebs. Cough.

 

People such as scientists were fascinated with the rifts.

 

Many people found it absurd and continued on with their daily lives.

 

But most were scared of the unknown.

 

So they prayed for answers. Or accused others for bringing the end nearer with their sin. Or did things like nothing matters anymore such as nudity and destruction of private and public property. In other words, riots broke out. The resulting chaos made people leave the areas with rifts in droves. All countries took a massive hit.

 

Chocolate was one of the people who thought of the situation as absurd. She was also afraid but she knew she can't do anything about it but continue on. 

 

"Marlon, don't worry too much. If a monster will truly come out, the military will take care of it." Dennise and Gillian can't help but laugh a little at Marlon's panicking.

 

"Didn't you read the comic? Those things are impervious to bullets! Plus, do you really think that normal animals will come out of that thing? It's practically a tear in space!"

 

Seeing how panicked and grim Marlon's face was, Chocolate can't help but think to try and convince her family to move away from Davao City before New Year. Just to be safe.

 

She didn't know whether her stubborn mother would budge. Because like the people stuck in Samal, her family doesn't have anywhere else to go. She could only hope her sincerity would get through her. With that in mind, Chocolate continued to read.

 

 

 

Tuesday 2:12 P.M.

December 21, 2021

Davao City, Philippines

 

Finally class was over.

 

Surprisingly, the math quiz was actually easy. Despite being known as terrifyingly strict, their math teacher still eased the questions as his own gift for Christmas.

 

‘Hehe. So lucky.’

 

Chocolate felt good about what she answered. Bet the students who skipped class feel bad right now!

 

Chocolate sighed in exhaustion as she walked forward to accompany Gillian handing a scholarship document towards the scholars' office. She was joined with a few other scholars who were also their friends.

 

Gillian and Chocolate came from the same public junior high school. The other ones were from other public schools all over Mindanao. Because they often did scholarship activities together, they grew closer and often had lunch with each other.

 

"Chuckie, I'll just hand this to Ma'am Verni inside, okay?" Gillian said.

 

Chocolate's eye twitched a bit in irritation when she heard the nickname. Because she was 'chocolate', Gillian started calling her 'Chuckie' after a popular chocolate milk drink. It was irritating because it also reminded her of a trashtalking haunted doll that scared her so much when she was a child.

 

"If you just finished your scholar activities earlier then we would've been going home already," complained Chocolate.

 

"Hehe..." Gillian flushed in embarrassment from her friends' stares and headed inside.

 

"Hey, don't be like that," grinned John while looking through social media on his phone. "After this, let's go karaoke. Since we couldn't have a Christmas party, how about we do this instead, hmm?"

 

"Great idea!" Kiana perked up with the suggestion. "I just received some Christmas Aguinaldo* yesterday so it'd be perfect."

 

'Karaoke huh... Looks like I'd have to postpone my goal again,' thought Chocolate.

 

She squirmed a bit uncomfortable in her plastic shoes bought from Chinatown. To get more money, Chocolate bought boxes of puto from a cheap bakeshop. Then she'd secretly sneak it into school and sell it at a higher mark-up. Most of the students in the school were rich anyway so it didn't really matter. Plus they liked it because it was delicious. After giving half the profits to her mother, Chocolate would keep the other half to herself. Her goal was to buy a good pair of black leather shoes before the school year ends. She knows it may be useless once she goes to college next year, but wearing leather shoes has always been a long dream of hers.

 

Students selling goods without permission was prohibited but most teachers turned a blind eye to the matter. Many of them even buy nonchalantly from the selling students themselves. It was because even if most students were rich here, the teachers were only ordinary folk making a living just like her.

 

"And since I just found out my crush likes someone else, I want to drown myself in alcohol today," clenched Kiana in fury.

 

"You can't drink alcohol in a uniform," chided John.

 

"Tsk. Tsk. You know me John. I already brought with me extra clothes because I already anticipated that this would happen!" Kiana's eyes gleamed in smug satisfaction.

 

"Oh as expected of Master Kian! You've come fully prepared." John clapped in amazement.

 

"Since the rest of us are still wearing uniforms, isn't it still useless?" said Nando who was sitting on a bench and was busy playing a mobile game a while ago. At the same bench, an unknown couple was busily flirting beside him.

 

Kiana's excitement instantly dropped. Seeing the lovey-dovey couple beside Nando sunk her mood even further. John just laughed and continued to browse. Because Chocolate's legs started to get tired, she sat at the empty spot beside Nando. When she took a sneak peek at Nando's game, she saw that he was busy taking all his loot. At the other bench, a lone boy adjusted the knobs on his guitar.

 

Chocolate had nothing else better to do besides wait, so she looked around her surroundings. She sighed at the tall four-storey school buildings. No matter where she looked, she still can't help but be a bit intimidated with this place. For her, it just screams money.

 

Even the couple committing public display of affection looked well-kept. The same goes for the young man turning the guitar knobs. They look so neat... They wore the same uniform so why is it that the difference between her group and these three were like heaven and earth? Chocolate's mood dropped along with Kiana.

 

Chocolate also noticed that for some reason, rich kids tended to be more good-looking. That's actually one of the first impressions she had when she finally had the chance to attend face-to-face classes in this school. Now she knows where the beautiful people hid. In private schools. 'Hehehe.'

 

She took sneaking glances at the guitar boy. If someone says that they studied hard to get to this school for some eye candy, she'd 100% believe it. It's a pity she only gets to be in this school for less than a year. She studied so hard to get here, yet she didn't even get to enjoy her private senior high school life. The staff and students were nice, and the facilities are great. To top it off, it was built with new modern aesthetics and ideas.

 

'If only I could stay a while longer…'

 

She compressed the feeling of bittersweetness inside her heart.

 

Chocolate cursed the pandemic under her breath. She turned her attention towards the walking teachers and few students left in the school corridor. From far away, she could see their school director walking with the prefect of discipline while wearing distressed faces. Along the way, they were busy calling out to students who haven't left yet.

 

"What are they doing?" Chocolate asked.

 

"I don't know... Hey that's my crush right there!" Kiana referred to the cute boy besides the director. He looked rather confused of what's happening. Chocolate observed them. It seems they're gathering students?

 

"Freaking jerk who kept me in false hope. I hope you die in a painful way." Kiana jokingly cursed him.

 

"Maybe it's because of this?" John offered to show a recent update on the rift.

 

Chocolate, Kiana, and Nando squeezed around each other to see. In the photo, the rift could barely be seen from where it was taken. Because the rift was above seawater, the military guarding it was on boats.

 

"Wow John. Can't we get something even harder to see than this?" sarcastically said Nando.

 

"It's the only distance people were allowed to take photos. Technology can't really approach it without breaking down, remember? Think Nando! Think!" John shot back. "Anyways, what do you guys think of this?"

 

He zoomed in further to the rift. Above, it seemed to be a rectangular shape with arabic numerals inscribed on it.

 

"It's a timer," commented Kiana.

 

"I know right?" John agreed. "From the post, it says it appeared around 11:59 A.M."

 

Oh, they were already in class at that time. Phones weren't allowed inside classrooms.

 

"It seems to be about a minute?" observed Chocolate. "Well that's short."

 

Large droplets of cold sweat formed on their backs.

 

"Why do you say it's a minute?" Nando asked.

 

"Look at the numbers," pointed Chocolate. "If the timer counted down within minutes or an hour, shouldn't it separate the numbers with a colon? But the numbers 24.12 are only separated with a decimal. Like seconds with milliseconds. If they say that the counter had already been like that at noon, then wouldn't the counter be within a minute?"

 

"Why did we just hear about this?" Kiana started to get mad.

 

"I don't know..." John answered. "I've only heard of this as well here. Maybe they were trying to hide it? The poster said that after they took the picture, the military got restless and the connection got skewed. They just barely managed to sneak and post it by making it seen only by facebook friends."

 

"Can you look into what happened at the rifts in other places?" suggested Chocolate.

 

"I can only access Facebook, but alright. I'll try." John got to searching for other related news.

 

"Students, please come with us! We've just received reports that all of you are to stay here in school. We're sorry that we promised to dismiss you all early and many of you had already returned home, but to those of you who are still here, please stay in school for the time being until further instructions from the government are given." The director shouted. From the distance, a pool of students who were still in school huddled around him in growing fear and panic. "For the time being, please follow us to the orientation room. We will disseminate to you what to do. If you have friends still in the area, please call them back. The school is safer right now."

 

Chocolate's heart pounded in anxiety from what she was hearing.

 

John's voice cracked. Between his quivering fingers, his phone shook. "Guys, something came out."

 

From the device, the audio of a helicopter flying over Samal Island accompanied by sounds of screams, gunfire and destruction came out.

 

"What...?" Chocolate and the others voiced out.

 

"Uh, are you guys okay?" Gillian asked her pale-faced friends after coming out from the scholars' office.

 

"Babe, I'm scared." The girlfriend told her boyfriend while pouting.

 

"Don't worry, I'll protect you," cheesily assured him. Chocolate and the others secretly cringed. The couple got up and went to the director.

 

"In the meantime, let's join Sir Rocco as well," said Chocolate. The director could be seen handing instructions to students for their emergency prolonged stay in the school. He was joined with the prefect and other staff. The guitar boy must've had the same thought because he started to clumsily pack his guitar in nervousness. Because Gillian didn't have much idea of what's going on, Nando explained to her.

 

"B-before we go, let me call my mother first." Gillian tremblingly took out her phone and made a call.

 

At her action, Chocolate took her own and sent her family concerned messages through Messenger.

 

Her heart sank. No one was replying.

 

'Of all days I have no mobile data..'

 

The palpable tension inside the friend group was broken with the loud scream of a female student.

 

 

 

 

Glossary (*) by order of appearance:

  • chorizo - pork sausage with Spanish roots. After the Spaniards colonized the Philippines for 333 years, they left behind much of their culture.

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/i0lh4HUiVCFDYv3sUE7zmtbutbfJymOJLzM3ya30ZspJCCwBcQijkBH6CSUXWWqchAj3ZjwUgl8tL-mlHZ_7Daia00YpvSfFQ9ILEILD7p3ekWYRvI_XVzm_2gQevnoCHceRecsM

  • jeepney - also called jeep, jeepney is a weird-looking bus that is the most popular Filipino public transportation. It is known for its crowded seating, affordable price, varied decorations, and has been a symbol of Filipino culture for many years.

  • Ate - Filipino honorific used for older females, but typically for smaller age gaps. It is preferably used between siblings or family relatives, but is also commonly used to informally address older female strangers.
  • opo - respectful ‘yes’ for Filipinos.
  • Kuya - Filipino honorific used for older males, but typically for smaller age gaps. It is preferably used between siblings or family relatives, but is also commonly used to informally address older male strangers.
  • tubig - Filipino word for water.
  • (Filipino) dipper - a dipper shaped to be deeper, shorter, and bulkier than its traditional counterpart in the kitchen. It is a hygiene tool primarily for cleansing, bathing, and cleaning the floor of the bathroom in Southeast Asian households. In the Philippines, it is called ‘tabo’.

  • siomai - Filipino term for steamed Chinese-based dumplings that are usually filled with ground pork, beef, shrimp, and other meats. It is often seen sold in the streets as street food, or eaten with rice as a full meal. Soy sauce, calamansi, and chili sauce is commonly used as its sauce, on which customers manually tweak the taste themselves at the stall.
  • isekai - Japanese genre for works revolving people transported into another world.
  • Truck-kun - The god that transports the people in isekai. 
  • puto - Filipino steamed rice cakes.
  • aguinaldo - Spanish term for bonus. In the Philippines, it is often heard to refer to gift money during Christmas. Quite similar to the red packets in China.

 

Additional notes:

Chocolate is in her twelfth grade. Originally, the Philippines only had four years of high school but changed at the implementation of the K-12 system. This new legislation added two years to the initial curriculum so Filipino students can compete internationally easier. High schools and colleges had to adjust, and the school she is currently in is a separate sister school of a university. It was recently established to specifically cater the two extra years which has been labeled as senior high school.

 

 


Submitted: May 31, 2021

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