Cover Photo By Eliyah Mallari
Cover Photo By Eliyah Mallari.


Will you take the leap towards change? Or let the strings attached to you weigh you down?

By Nathan Orseo, and Cheuk Yiu Tam | Thursday, 24 February 2022

I never thought this would be the way I end—drowning in a sea of colors. 

In this midst of chaos, my body seems shackled and immovable. Much to my annoyance, I am at the heart of a never-ending crowd swamping the voting precinct, surrounded by all kinds of sweat and smells. This is too much of a commotion for an election, but we’re not exactly living in ordinary times anymore. Everybody appears to be radiating a passionate energy like I have never witnessed before. Unfortunately, I can’t share the same sentiments—since choice is a privilege that I do not possess. I’m only voting for one reason: to keep my family alive from the clutches of our savior

Ironically, below the scorching May sun, it appears I’ll be the one who’s about to be toasted alive. As the clock hits noon, hundreds of needles seem to be piercing my feet and my breathing feels unusually unsteady—my patience is nearing its end.  

I need to get out of here. If I escape, will they find out? Will they know that I didn’t vote

I sigh. “I can’t risk it.”

Maybe I’ll just find a shade to breathe and I’ll go back when the crowd has eased. Yeah, I’ll do that.

Taking a deep breath, I painfully unshackle myself from the ground and swim among standstill bodies towards a far-off tree to my left. For some reason, shoving people to and fro made my veins flow with excitement. It’s like a magnetic force is pulling me to the tree.

Almost there. I can smell the cool air.

At last, I’m standing below this majestic tree—a Narra—and just the right amount of shade I need to cool off. Thankfully, I only see a nun who’s serenely reading on a bench just below the tree. So, I head towards the seat beside her to calm my pounding heartbeat. 

Wait—it’s been five minutes, what am I still nervous about? Why is my entire body now shaking? I can’t be having—no, not again, not now.

Clenching my throbbing chest, I gasp for air.

“I can’t do this anymore, please, this is wrong. The horrors will never end,” I cry out in frustration.

Everything appears to be fuzzy, yet I think I hear a faint voice to my right, “Anak? Are you okay? Just breathe in and out.”

It’s the nun. Sliding herself next to me, she hands me something that gives me a cooling sensation—a bottle of water. I begin drinking eagerly, hearing the phrase “In and out” when gasping for air. After another five minutes or so, I feel much better.

Anak, are you okay now?” the nun asks.

“Yes, I think so. Thank you, by the way. It means a lot,” I reply kindly.

“Thank God. It’s probably the heat and the crowd.” After a pause, she continues, “There’s a lot of voters this time compared to six years ago, right?”

I nod in agreement.

“I guess everyone’s had enough of the current administration. All our lives were in jeopardy. Our country became such a mess.”

Ah, she’s one of them—the good ones.

“As you said, the horrors will never end. I agree, anak. Not unless we all choose to change ourselves.”

Wait—I said?” I was asphyxiating just a couple of minutes ago.

“Yes, anak, when you began to weep,” the nun replies softly.

Oh, right. However, I didn’t mean the nation’s horrors—but mine.

“I think you misinterpreted it. I didn’t mean it that way,” I tell her.

“If you don’t mind me asking, what do you mean by those words then?” she asks sincerely.

I shouldn’t have said that. What should I say? Although she is a nun, maybe I could trust her?

“Imagine you and your family are indebted to this savior, but recently, you realize he has been the opposite all along. On top of that, you become a puppet of their life. What will you do?” 

Anak, true saviors don’t expect anything in return. So, why would I choose a life that is not my own? I’d probably go insane, but I’ll never stop searching for a solution to get out of it.”

“What about the risks? Your family will be in danger.”

Alam mo, noong panahon, I was part of the EDSA Revolution and going against the tide was not easy. There were risks, but all was worth it if it meant attaining freedom, and I think that’s what people are fighting for, even today,” she says warmly while pointing at the crowd.

To go against the tide—maybe that’s the solution to drowning. Maybe my family can have a future after all. 

I rise from the bench knowing what I must do. I thank the nun, bid her farewell and I begin walking towards the crowd.

Hues of oranges and reds welcome me as I step out of the congested vicinity. People gather around and raise their thumbs across the horizon as the continuous shutters sing together with the lot’s cheer.

You did the right thing. Brighter days will soon be upon us—I hope.

Nevertheless, optimism consumes me as I make my way back home. It is only a 10-minute walk from the voting precinct, yet I take the longer route, wanting to prolong the God-sent sky.

A sudden wave makes every hair on my arms stand up as I turn left at the bakery we always go to. I swiftly turn around and see nothing except a ball bouncing towards me; quickly scanning the area for the source of it, I ignore it and head down the street. At the corner of my eye, a navy green gate came into sight.

Almost there, I just need to pass by Aling Zenaida’s karinderya. No one’s following you, right? 

I spoke too soon.

A heavy hand gripped my shoulder that urged me to twist my body, facing in front of it, flushing all the colors off my face as I saw who it was.

I never thought this would be the way I end—drowning deep within the shade of red.

Tags: IntoStory