BY : DESTINY PIMENTEL
A thin layer of sweat covered the nape of my neck, wind whipped my long, dark brown hair back from my face as I rushed towards the school. I’m late, again! For the third time of the week! As I ran, something caught my eye, which made me pause for a while. It’s a pitiful dog, whimpering as a middle-aged man kicked him. Should I just ignore him? Or should I save the dog? I was about to choose the latter when something stopped me. No Vala, you’re not supposed to intervene because it’s his business. As a teenager, I shouldn’t be meddling with adult business. I chose to turn a blind eye and continue rushing to the school.
I felt the racing beat of my heart pulsating under my fingertips as I wipe the sweat from my face. I looked at my watch – 7:30, 30 minutes since the class started. I cleared my throat before slowly entering the classroom. As expected, everyone’s looking at me.
“I’m sorry I’m late.” I bowed down my head and lowered my eyes. “Take your seat.” The teacher disappointingly said. I went to the only vacant chair near the window.
The teacher continued the discussion that I interrupted a while ago. However, it’s not the discussion that piqued my interest. A dirty white cat limping as it crosses the soccer field. My heart skipped a beat as I saw the student players running towards the direction of the cat and it seems like they haven’t noticed it! I closed my eyes as I debate with myself. I must save the cat! But… I’m in the middle of a class. I can just warn the players though. But… I’ll just ruin the discussion again.
“Miss Vala, are you sleeping in my class?” I quickly opened my eyes as I heard my name. “N-no Ma’am! My eyes… they just got tired so I rested them for a while.” I reasoned out. “Oh. Okay let’s go back to the discussion.” The teacher stared at me suspiciously for a few seconds before she resumed. I gently sighed as I looked at the piteous cat for the last time. I’m sorry I’m too shy to help you, kitty.
The sun started to go on its way down the horizon, revealing the mellow and beauteous clouds in the sky. The classes have ended, students are walking along the street together with their friends. I sighed as I quietly walk to another alley next to the school.
“Vala~” I quickly turned around to see where the voice came from but there’s no one here in the alley. Creeped out by the situation, I walked fast in order to get out. “Vala~” The voice stopped me from walking. Why can’t I move?! I panicked as my body stood in the middle of the alley like a statue. Suddenly, a familiar cat leaped in front of me, which made me startled. It’s the one from the soccer field! “Vala~” w-what? The voice came from… “Y-you… what… A TALKING CAT?!” I must be dreaming. How could a cat talk?! “Can’t you hear me? I’m calling you.” The cat licked its paws calmly.
“W-why are you talking?” I shakily said in a high-pitched, shrill voice. “Can’t you chill for a while? I’ve been travelling for days just to find you and that’s how you’ll greet me?” The cat stopped licking its paws and intensely stared at me. “Meow-nyway, I need to…” Its voice became vague as my vision started to dim and my head got heavier. “…Animalandia” Animalandia? What’s that? That was the last thing I remembered before the darkness consumed me completely.
I squinted my eyes as the rays of the sunlight touched my face. I must have slept accidentally last night. My eyes remained closed as I stretched my arms and legs. I felt lightheaded as I lazily entered the bathroom. I washed my face, which feels quite weird. Wait… Something feels wrong. “Meow~ Aaaahhhh!” I covered my mouth with my hands… or paws. Why… Why am I a white cat?! And I talked like a cat! I slowly glanced at the weirdly moving thing behind me. Eek! I have a tail!
“Hello!” I turned around when I heard a familiar voice. “Y-you! Why am I like this?!” I said, freaking out as I point to myself. “First of all, I have a name. Figaro is the handsome name of this stunning cat in front of you.” Figaro, a white cat wearing a white shirt and blue joggers, confidently said with a smirk. I didn’t know cats can also be arrogant.
“Second, I don’t even know you. You just magically appeared here in my room.” What he said made my forehead pucker. “Where am I?” I walked toward the window located in the room I woke up in. It’s the same surroundings – roads with busy cars, trees, animals walking… ANIMALS WALKING?! “You’re in Animalandia.”
“Animalandia?! What kind of Earth is that?!” I freaked out once again while still looking at the unfamiliar view. Elephants on the streets, walking while wearing clothes?! Piglets wearing uniforms?! Dogs driving cars?!
“What’s Earth…? Wait, are you another crazy cat?!” He suspiciously glared at me so I glared back. “It’s your fault why I’m here!” I yelled and then I told him what I remember before waking up here.
“Eh? So, you mean you’re not from Animalandia? You’re an alien coming from Earth?!” This time, it’s not me freaking out, it’s him. I guess I’m an alien? Putting aside my thoughts, I sat down on the bed as well as Figaro.
“How am I going to go back?” I looked at him with sad eyes. “The Figaro from your world probably knows but the stunning Figaro here doesn’t.” I frowned during the time he said he’s stunning. “Do you want to go outside?” He offered which I agreed on. I changed into a yellow silk dress while he wore a jacket on top of what he’s wearing a while ago and then, we went outside his place.
Instead of being shocked when we reached outdoors, I can’t help but chuckle. I can’t believe animals rule the world here while the humans are treated like how the animals are in our world.
“Do you want to go somewhere?” He asked as we walk towards his car. “Do you have any suggestions?” I asked. “Hmm… We can just drive around the neighborhood?” Due to my curiosity on what this world looks like, I nodded my head fast.
While Figaro was driving, I browsed his social media account. But what caught my attention are the reports: A rare man from the forest was shot dead by trophy hunters, a young child left tied in chains in an abandoned house without food and water, a pregnant woman ate a pineapple filled with firecrackers. What… Isn’t this the reports about animal abuse in our world?
The car stopped suddenly, which made me drop the phone. “What happened?!” I shakily asked. “There must be an accident. I’ll just check.” Figaro went out of the car while I remained seated.
I looked outside and noticed a familiar scenario. There’s a pitiful man, whimpering as an aggressive dog kicked him. My heart raced as the man looked at my direction and stared at me with its sad eyes. Should I…? I inhaled deeply as I closed my eyes. But then the reports flashed in my mind. I… I can’t let any human or animal get abused again!
My body started to move on its own. I rushed out of the car and ran towards them. “Stop!” I went between them in order to block the dog. “This isn’t your business, you cat.” The dog glared at me so I glared back. “It is! I can’t bear to see another life form be abused! Nobody deserves to be mistreated!” I angrily declared with tears flowing down my cheeks.
The area suddenly became quiet. I was shocked when I looked at the dog who’s now smiling. “We’re happy that you finally found courage to defend the weak.” I looked from behind and saw Figaro smiling, which made me confused with what’s happening. All of them were smiling while looking at me. “You’re our only hope.” He added. Suddenly, everything started to vanish.
A thin layer of sweat covered the nape of my neck, wind whipped my long, dark brown hair back from my face as I rushed towards the school. I’m late, again! For the fourth time of the week! As I ran, something caught my eye, which made me pause for a while. It’s a pitiful dog, whimpering as a middle-aged man kicked him. Without any doubt, I ran towards them and stopped the man.
Since then, I volunteered in animal rescue and adopting centers. I realized that turning a blind eye would just worsen the situation. Everyone has the ability to make a difference, but without courage, it is impossible.
BY: JANEL GLORI
Drenched in sweat while catching my breath, I gripped onto my sword tightly. As I come face to face with the enemy, who was ironically, the same person who asked for my hand in marriage not long ago. Clashing of swords and shedding of blood was evident in our surroundings, but in my perspective it was only the two of us who existed at this very moment. Who knew that this pale faced, angelic looking, Spaniard was capable of being so violent and hell bent? Memories of how all these events started to unfold all of a sudden flooded my mind, nostalgia hitting me hard like harsh ocean waves.
I remember the morning my older brother and I were called to the throne room, because father had urgent news to tell. “Datu Kawayan, your children, Princess Malaya and Prince Dakila are here.” Our father’s messenger announces, as we approached him.
“You wanted to tell us something, Father?” I spoke up, curious but slightly anxious about what news he wanted to bring. Judging by the looks of my father’s face, he looked pretty serious and concerned about it. He started speaking up as Dakila and I listened closely.
“The white skinned invaders. They succeeded in invading Maynila,” A lump on my throat started to form, feeling my heart swell in sadness and pain. Maynila was south from our kingdom, and we were good trading partners. My father continued. “They are currently heading up north, and their next stop, is us. Pangasinan.” My heart started beating rapidly now, and balling my fists tightly in rage. I care deeply about my people and my land. And as their future ruler, after my brother reigns, of course, I must do something about this crisis we are about to face.
Just as I was drowning in my sea of thoughts, the messenger came in again and said, “Datu Kawayan, a million apologies for interrupting, but we have guests.” He gave my father an anxious look, while father himself nodded. Keeping his head held up high.
“Who are these guests, father?” Dakila asked.
Father remained his poise, and replied “It’s them.” My brother gasped silently, and furrowed his eyebrows, asking.
“Why entertain them if we could already finish them off right now?” But father signalled him to stop talking by raising his hand up in front of Dakila’s face. With ease, father responded.
“Let’s hear what they have to say,” Father paused, and spoke to the messenger, saying. “Bring them in.” And so they did. Low and behold, these certain guests were none other than the invaders themselves. Dressed in polished suits and leather shoes, they walked across the hall. I noticed that they brought a commoner from Maynila with them too. He dressed like them as well, the only difference was he had a glint of sorrow in his eyes. Almost as if he was guilty.
“Greetings, Datu Kawayan.” The person from Maynila spoke, while bowing his head. “With me here is Duke Ricardo, a representative of the new rulers of Maynila.” The Duke gave my father a rather warm smile, with a hint of slyness in his eyes.
Father raised his eyebrows and shook his head. “What is your purpose of coming here?” My father asked firmly. With a foreign language, the Duke whispered something into the Maynilan’s ear.
“Is this your daughter? She must be the princess, I assume. I must say that she’s very beautiful.” Dakila eyed the Duke sternly, as he replied to our supposed fellowman, who was now on their side. “Alright, I think I’ve heard enough, Father. I fully understand what there true intentions are. They desire our lands and our riches. And they wish to subjugate us just like the island kingdom of Sugbu, and now Maynila. We will become lowly servants just like this Maynilan before you. I’d rather go to war and die.” The Maynilan man raised his hands and said, “Please wait and listen to the Duke’s proposal.”
“We don’t plan on going to war with you all. We actually plan on agreeing with a much simpler plan,” Pausing, his eyes landed on me again, as he said. “Duke Ricardo wishes to take the princess’ hand in marriage.” He pointed to the white man beside him in pride.
“And what makes you think my daughter will agree with your proposal?” My father rose from his throne almost immediately, anger filling his eyes. But I approached him and calmed him down, making him sit back on his throne, avoiding the possibility of a fight. “And do you think I would actually agree with that? How dare you have the courage to ask such a question!”
“Father, please. It’s alright.” I spoke up, with a confident look, I responded. “I agree to your proposal.”
“It’s alright, Father. I agree to your proposal, but under one condition.” The foreigner and the Maynilan listened carefully. “You will have to beat me in a hand to hand combat of arnis.” Arnis was a martial art of the Philippines, and it worked with two sticks and consisted of hand to hand combat. It took a while before the pale foreign man gave his response, making sure he knew what he was about to face. Finally agreeing to my own proposal, according to the man from Maynila, I gave them a smile, leaving both my father and brother speechless at what I just did. I looked at my father once again, and told him, “We are the proud descendants of Queen Urduja. And you have thought me and my brother well in the arts of combat. Do not worry, my father.”
Fast forward to the match, I remember the entire kingdom watching this man from a country called Spain and I try to defeat one another through my country’s martial art. Circling around each other, I think of what I should do. He tried lunging forward, but I instantly dodged it, almost making him stumble forward. What a clumsy man, I thought, as he tried again, hitting with his stick, but it clashed with mine, and I pushed him back. From my strong force, he fell back onto the ground, and was able to let go of his stick. I grabbed it from the ground, and pointed it to his face. A sign that I have already won, and that he had to accept that he just lost to me, the princess. My people cheered on, as my eyes searched for my brother and father in the crowd. I saw the two of them approach me with satisfied smiles on their faces, as the crowd started to lead us to the feast they had prepared for my expected win. But just as everything was going fine, something tragic occurred. Father started growing ill everyday. Eventually, he left Dakila and I and joined our mother and the gods in the heavens. This burdened the whole land, especially me and my brother. As we were mourning for our loss, the white men started attacking us out of no where, taking this perfect opportunity to stage their plans of conquest. Dakila was wounded by one of them, which made me realise that it was all up to me now to lead our warriors to this unexpected battle.
Before I got out, my brother grabbed my arm and told me, “Take father’s sword, Malaya.” I nodded and immediately grabbed it from his bedroom, and made my way out on the battlefield. Alas, here I was. Face to face with the enemy himself. This is for you, Father. And for our beloved kingdom, and for the people who dwell in it. Duke Ricardo gave me a surprise by speaking in the Sugbu language. “You have shamed me before, but we are fighting with real swords now. I’m giving you a second chance. Marry me and we will build a strong kingdom together!”
Out of rage, I swung my sword towards the pale faced foreigner, my sword clashing with his. He tried slashing my arm but I dodged it at once, then kicked him hard to the core, making him fall to the ground one more. Just as I was about to stab his gut, he quickly got up and went for my head. Thankfully, I was quick enough to lower my head. I crouched and made my way to his back, kicking him from behind. Disarming him, I grabbed his hair and put the sword against his throat, slitting it open.
The invader fell down and was no more.