Editors’ choice: Young Writers of Summer | Inquirer News

Editors’ choice: Young Writers of Summer

/ 10:05 PM June 15, 2015

Year 2 and here we are, smiling from ear to ear as we present our selection of poems and essays from the tweet-and-text generation. The short stories will have their turn next Tuesday.

The Young Writers of Summer is a program that we started in 2014 to encourage high school students to write during their school break. We offer no cash prizes, just a chance to be published.


This year’s entries prove that the kids are still madly in love with words. They stuck to familiar refrains of love, dreams and friendship, but they also wrote courageously about depression, homosexuality, poverty, technology and even rape.

To all the young writers who joined us this year: Thanks for entrusting your treasures to us.


Still the Same

By Isabella Tiosejo

The skies are blue and the grass is green.

My mind is on overdrive;

my mouth on speed.




I am me.

My favorite color used to be blue

until it started invading my lungs

and drowning me in the tears I’ve yet to shed.

I like the color green now—

after days and months of crises.

I am me.

I used to love Math

until the numbers on the measuring tape squeezed the soul out of me

and it’s yet to return.

Now I find consolation in

the functions of the heart and the ability to run away—





I am me.


the most fitting label because a part of the universe doesn’t even realize

there are two faces to this word:



I am smart.

I smart.

The skies are still blue and the grass is still green.

My mind is still an interconnected network

of neurons working at a hundred miles per second

and my epiglottis still cannot keep a lid

on the words lodged in my throat.

Minutes can pass and the seconds may tick away

but this world will never change

and I will




Isabella Tiosejo is a Grade 11 student at St. Paul College Pasig. This is her second poem to be published in the Inquirer. Her poem in last year’s YWSP was titled “As Long as You Get Up.”

I Write

By Mark Joshua Teo

I write in fear that if I speak

In reason and standards I’ll drown

I write because if I keep it inside

I know it’ll come bursting out

I write to forget the sores and welts

From the lashes of subpar works

I write to embrace all the tears

And blame the price of worth

I write to find a voice inside

The sleeping, saddened truth

I write to be the dancing serf who sings

Betwixt the sound and the silence on the moon of withered kings

I write to abandon all who are lost

But find them before me

I write to hope my fate and theirs

Won’t ever, ever . . . be

I write to silence all the sighs

Of wasted potential and accidental nights

I write to set the past ablaze

And build it in another way

I write for as I wait and wait

The words I’ve spoken were far too late

I write in hope a girl I know seven thousand miles away

May feel the words I never knew I’d say until that day

I write because the child within told me to break free

Of the darkness in the eyes that only see what they will see

I write to fathom the final words of the youth inside who died:

“What matters most is how you make this world inside your mind”

I write to find the fledgling peace that chaos holds inside

By taking roads I’ve never walked, pretending stars align

I write to twist and turn in bed, to dream in colored rhymes

And know if shadows beckoning are simply in my mind

I write though all who meet me say

This flame shall turn to ash

I write to show that in this land

There was one who dared to stand

I write to look back on days

I never thought I’d last

For memories fade

And people stray

But words

Don’t go


Mark Joseph Teo, 16, is a graduating high school student at Saint Jude Catholic School where he is the president of the student council.


By Raine Raval

They call me weird


They call me shy

It’s true

They label me with these names

I am a mystery in this ever-changing galaxy

Every which way my people go

Up to the stars, or on Earth below

I yearn to touch the moon and dance

On its surface and take a chance

I am the queen of the stars

On my rocky Lunar throne

In a world of my creation

I am the ruler, I alone

I am not caged, I am not tethered

I float with an ethereal glow

I am no longer a label to them

Upwards in silence, I leave, I go.

Raine Raval is an incoming Grade 11 student at Colegio San Agustin Makati. This is her second poem to be published in the Inquirer. Her poem in last year’s YWSP was titled “Selfie Dreams.”

Finding It

By Rosetta Lucente

I don’t know what it is—

maybe the muted colors of the night

maybe the sound of crinkly pages turning

I don’t know what it is

that soaks my feet with briny, frigid water

and raises my eyes

to the gaps between the clouds

And makes me write words

words upon words upon words upon

my hand,

upon the water,

in the air,

so that they can fade away

if I hate them.

(The worthy ones I write on paper.)

I don’t know what it is

that tugs at me

like an eraser dragging on paper that’s

too thin—

I don’t know what it is

that urges me to recreate

the blinding dance of neon

that others have achieved.

And I see my hands

that have shed and grown and changed

and continue to shed and grow and change

and will forever shed and grow and change

until they disappear completely,

just like my words.

I don’t know what it is,


I’m glad I found it.

Rosetta Lucente is an incoming Grade 9 student at Manila Waldorf School.

Reality check 2015

By Laurice Dwayne C. Arceño

I SWEAR if I ever hear another baby boomer say that art is dead I will personally summon the souls of Jose Rizal and Charles Dickens, from whichever literary heaven they are, to write that blind hippie a narrative on why they would much rather be living in a world where they could have an e-mail account.

If you tell me that this generation is nothing but a shipwreck of too much technology, I’ll have Malala Yousafzai on the phone first thing in the morning so she can tell you how many bullets she had had to take and how many days she has had to live in fear for standing up for the education of the children in Pakistan.

When did you stop believing in “Ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan” and start saying lines like “Walang kwenta na talaga ang henerasyon ngayon…?” Well, you’re on the wrong side of the road and you’re about to get hit with reality check 2015.

Today I saw a dog with prosthetic legs running for the first time. You cannot tell me that that isn’t beautiful; I bet Florence Nightingale would be in awe of it too. And tell me why Alexander Graham Bell wouldn’t be calling his mom—or his wife—whenever he was running late coming home if he had a way to do so as he sat on the afternoon train.

You can go lock yourself up in your Marie-Antoinette castle as I Google cake recipes and Instagram my breakfast.

You can be Annabel Lee all you want and live in your kingdom by the sea while we all Snapchat our friends the sunrise so we can remember what beginnings feel like.

I will take selfies at every angle I want so as to forever preserve the memory of my youth. When I run out of words to text my friends, I will use some heart-eye emojis; Sylvia Plath would do the same should conversation run dry. And I will cheer for anyone who twerks it like Miley. Do it for the Vine, Andy Warhol!

Go ahead, glare at me and deride me in your head as I take photos of the sunset hitting my coffee and of dandelions under the rain. It’s okay.

We are living in a world where we have 13-year-old Mo’ne Davis pitching a baseball against sexism. We have a 15-year-old modeling for Clean & Clear who is raising the banner for the transgender community. We have millions of people my age standing up for equal rights, politics and religious beliefs.

All we need is for people to believe in the youth once more.

Our voices echo at every corner and we need you to listen and see that we are not a failure. Technology does not hinder us from accepting greatness. In fact, it helps us reach new heights. It does not make us miss anything that happens in the world. It does not blind us from what surrounds us. Instead, it shows us more of the world’s wonders.

I can read thousands of stories from all kinds of people and know their adventures and aspirations through their blogs. I can find inspiration in the caption of a Facebook photo. There is beauty right there when a 14-year-old’s heart is emboldened by words on a computer screen.

There are children learning to play the guitar over YouTube. There are couples smiling tenderly at each other on Skype at 2 a.m. even when they are half the world apart.

If you see these advancements as mere distractions then you are not looking hard enough. In this brave new world, a billion possibilities are within our hands. The youth are becoming stronger as we share opinions and ideas through new platforms.

I may be sitting here by myself, but I am pouring my thoughts into a thousand-word essay on why the world is still beautiful and growing more beautiful every day and people will be reading what I have to say.

So when we “worthless” youth rest our heads to sleep, after we have turned off our gadgets, we pray that you realize how blessed you are to be living today where you can Google any word in 125 languages.

Laurice Dwayne Arceño is a Grade 9 student at Notre Dame of Marbel University-IBED in South Cotabato.


By Ethan Chua

YESTERDAY, I learned that the universe was expanding.

Let that sink in for a moment. The stars and the planets and the galaxies right now are moving farther and farther apart, like whirlwind dust, like windblown pollen, like breaking glass. Andromeda and the Milky Way are broken, drifting, divorced. I just had to look out the window and stare at the sky because now I know.

Those blinking points of light get farther every day. Right now I’m worried about my Math test and Alpha Centauri is distancing itself from the earth like a jilted lover, Sirius and Betelgeuse are moving on from this cosmic relationship—heh, it’s not me, it’s not you, it’s dark energy. One hell of a way to announce a breakup, right? And I don’t know, that makes me a bit worried, and though the sun’s still up there and the light is still shining, I’ve got to think about this really hard.

Things fall apart. Plain and simple. In Geography class I learned that the earth once had a massive supercontinent, Pangaea, and now there are seven land masses where there used to be one. The tectonic plates have said their good-byes and in a few million years who knows where we’ll end up? I’m not even sure if Manila will have its own island to lay claim to and maybe my grave plot will be left on a speck floating on what is now the one ocean for the 400 million continents that no one’s left to document.

Then there’s entropy. That’s the law that states, scientifically, how order tends toward disorder and not the other way around. Entropy isn’t a maybe, entropy isn’t a perhaps, entropy is a fact of life and also my excuse for not cleaning my room. Chaos reflects man’s mortality just as the candy wrapper on my desk I refuse to throw into the trash bin reminds me that all my atoms are slowing down, losing order, getting colder.

The universe is expanding and that’s just reminding me again about how these things go. And in a million years maybe we won’t notice it, maybe not even in a billion, but still the light from those stars is getting farther away, red shifting, falling apart, like the high school friend you haven’t seen in ages and don’t really want to revisit. This is what I have learned from all my Physics classes and all my observations. Einstein and Newton and Hawking all putting together their collective genius to tell us that it is breaking apart by the seams, that the prevailing tendency of matter is toward collapse.

And this is crazy. This is scary. Because where’s the meaning in collapse? Where’s the meaning in disorder? Heat death is not the death of a single man but of the idea of humanity itself; how can man live when atoms themselves refuse to move? Collapse is the mortality not of man, individual, but of mankind, collective—Entropy and dark energy are all signaling our eventual demise as a race, as a species, as a whole. Because no matter how hard we work or how far we go, even if we reach “Star Trek” levels of interplanetary civilization and galactic colonization, we’ll be up against the laws of physics themselves.

So when people tell me “What goes up must come down” as if they’re making a clever joke, I get really nervous, even frightened, because the fact that we can’t even beat back gravity when we throw a fastball or fire a gun means we can’t beat the universe at its own game and its game is pulling us apart. What goes up must come down—good-bye Sirius, Betelgeuse, Alpha Centauri; I really wish I’d gotten the time to know you more.

What’s the meaning in collapse? After you’ve figured out how the universe ends, then entropy becomes a loyal friend; it’s a ghost haunting the edges of all my relationships. Now I don’t know if I’ll see my high school friends again after college; I don’t know if my high school seatmates will still talk to me in a few years; I don’t know what’s going to last because the universe is telling me nothing lasts. Good-bye to Betelgeuse and to that girl whose number I forgot to ask for; good-bye to Sirius and to that friend who moved to another country; good-bye to Alpha Centauri and to that neighbor who said he’d keep in touch with me but who seemed to have forgotten how. These things are all still falling apart.

But before that, before collapse, before death, before the end, I’m still stuck here typing out my thoughts; I’m still stuck here in high school emptying my brain and trying to get through puberty and life; I still have to pick a college and I still have to do my homework and I still have to prepare my Chinese group report and keep in contact with my friends. I can’t let the universe crush me or else I won’t be able to do these small things, these regular things, these mundane and normal things—imagine Atlas, carrying the weight of the world and deciding to think about the Math test tomorrow instead. That’s me. That’s us. We need the distraction.

This is the absurd of the new generation. It is not the moral absurdity of war, which at least allows us to feel rage, to graft a human face onto violence and atrocity; it is not the divine absurdity of God, which at least allows us to feel fear, to graft a human face onto wrath and power; it is not a human absurdity that faces us but an absurdity of a cold and unfeeling universe because this universe is the not-other, the truly incomprehensible, and the stars don’t care whether or not we name them—they go on shining and moving and dying anyway. But we don’t think about that, do we? We forget where the stars are headed and find courage in our static universe.

There’s a Math test tomorrow and maybe that’ll help me believe that nothing is changing.

Ethan Chua, 17, is an incoming fourth year high school student at Xavier School San Juan.

The problem with superlatives

By Beatrice Marie D. Chan

SINCE the dawn of time, man has lived by only one principle and that is the survival of the fittest.

Clawing one’s way to the top has always been the key to domination and security—even if it means getting your hands dirty on the way up. Competition here, competition there, and when you’ve finally made your throne atop the mountain of blood and bone, you feel nothing can stand in your way. You finally think you’re the superlative of all superlatives—the best.

But since the dawn of time as well, empires have been toppled, revolutions have been sparked, kings and queens have been dethroned (some even beheaded), politicians have been ousted, ships thought to be unsinkable have sunk and, just like that, the superlatives of all superlatives are no longer the best.

It’s society’s mentality and its trust in such a petty principle for survival that, I believe, have caused some members of the human race to think so highly of themselves, enough to call themselves the best.

There is no such thing as “best,” unfortunately. Every single “best” you have ever heard is subject to what the majority decides. A person may be the best actress for one critic, but maybe not for another. You may be the best only because the people who can dethrone you from that rank are either slacking off or still working to improve their skills.

There only exists in this world good and better. I believe in the words of Max Ehrmann in his poem “Desiderata”: “Always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”

You may be awarded highest honors in class, but that does not necessarily mean you are better than the student who finished 13 levels of Mathematics training in only a span of four years. In the same way, just because you are better than your classmate at plant microbiology does not mean that he has no chance to outdo you.

Believing that you are at the top and will remain there allows complacency to take root in your system and leaves no room for improvement.

The times are quickly changing and if you don’t run fast enough, that person who is 5 meters behind you can be only 2 feet behind.

Your mountain of blood and bone will crumble as stronger, smarter, more determined people work day and night to climb it. And until people start to understand how easily they will fall if not fortified, the satisfaction of being the “best” and the mentality that they will always have that title will remain.

Beatrice Marie D. Chan is a Grade 9 student at Aquinas University of Legazpi.

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