PGS 2023 Q&A: M.A. Del Rosario

M. A. Del Rosario, the author of the first story in PGS 2023, CAÑAO, is a dreamer and a storyteller. He is also a published author of short stories and graphic novels, both locally and in the U.S. He likes to make up and draw his stories. He is an advocate of reading. He tells people to go to libraries and bookshops. He lives with his family in a quiet subdivision where fireflies still exist, and where cats question the existence of men. Sometimes he talks to gods lost at sea. He still believes that magic is real. You can visit him at www.paperdrawing.com, and here he is for now generously answering some questions.

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Cañao

by M.A. Del Rosario

Illustration by M.A. Del Rosario

Her mouth blew through the pipes of her diwdiw-as. The pan flute originally belonged to her mother, and before that, her ancestors. The music started at a violent pace at first, fast, like the savagery of storms. It was as if she were back in the mountains where the summit touched the clouds. She felt the mist dampen her face. The skies above grew dark. And then the music slowed in tempo, calm, peaceful, regaining composure and clarity. The sky above cleared. 

She thought she had imagined this. Her audience were the stars that illuminated the reality of her surroundings: in the backyard of an old tenement building in a rundown area of Manila. Around her was the world– the real world, the poor world– with people walking and talking and thinking about how they would survive another day. Her music pierced reality. It stopped to listen and remember the old world and its simplicity, of a time fueled by imagination and discovery– a distant memory.

“Sing with me,” she whispered to the wind, and the wind responded with a light breeze that was a subtle whistle. It breathed with the melody of her music.

The night listened. A falling star brushed across the sky. The moment lingered forever.

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The Fire At Dawn

by Jose Guerra Sison

Do you want to live, child?” He asked, holding His hand out to me. His face, I could barely see, as a bright light shone behind him. I stared at His outstretched hand, dumbfounded by the question. Did He really need to ask? I took it without hesitation. His warmth took the edge off the hunger that had lived inside me for years.

“Remember Me and keep the faith.” 

I nodded. As the bright light behind him faded, I felt an immense energy between His hand and mine, manifesting into a ball of pure light. It blazed like the sun, before turning into a smooth, round onyx nestled in my palm. 

“This is a mark of My trust, and your faith. You will know when to use it.” 

Then He vanished into a canopy of flames. 

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The Way

by Jamie Alec Yap

Prototype 239521 please deactivate. 

The clock buzzes for the third time tonight.  The comscreen burns my eyes. Even after I rub them, the text on my screen remains blurry. I should have gone to bed hours ago. 

All Products, please exit your homecubes for maintenance. 

At two in the morning? 

A blinding light streaks outside the window. I wince, then cough. A white gas seeps into the room all too quickly. When I exit, the narrow corridor between my room and Naobi’s is already heavy with smoke. My eyes water. I panic, and drop to the floor. I wish they gave us enough time to exit properly before flushing us all out. 

I hear the homecube door hiss open. Naobi must have made it to the street. I keep close to the ground where the smoke is less, and crawl, grateful that my sister has left the door open.

There’s a transpod parked on our street, larger than any that I had seen before. At least 50 people could fit inside. Metallic tubes wrap around its exterior. As a child, I called them the maintenance transpod’s armor. Two men in gold suits step out, their faces, purposely blank. They refuse to look into anyone’s eyes. 

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