rating: +11+x

It’s a sweltering summer afternoon in Manila. The smog is heavy and the traffic heavier.

Jose greedily grabs his drink from the vendor. A plastic bag filled with orange soda, ice, and a straw glistens in the sun. Jose looks between the parked vendors choking the thin sidewalk with their stalls. He finds an asphalt patch big enough to sit on. The ground releases its pent-up heat as a warm body makes contact. On his small vantage point, Jose giddily sips his drink.

From her shop, Luisa sighs as she fans herself with a piece of card. A politician’s face bounces about while she shoos away the heat. Luisa stands guard behind the counter. Every now and then, a wayward fly requires swatting. Every now and then, a wayward customer requires assisting. But right now, there’s not much of anything. Luisa wipes sweat from her brow and continues to fan away at this boring day.

Marco and Matthew keep running. The cop stopped trying to chase them two blocks ago. Marco laughs his head off while Matthew can hardly keep up. Their bare feet are accustomed to the scorch of the road. Two more blocks and the boys finally slow down. Their haul; a purse with about ₱1000 and a cellphone. Still panting, Marco splits the bills. They head to the mall to get out of the heat and to see how much the phone is worth.

Angelito quietly swears as he inches his cab forward. Around him, half the road has been cordoned off for repairs. Up ahead, there’s been some sort of unrelated car accident. Behind him, there’s a line of cars that seem to go on forever. In the back of the cab, there’s a quiet elderly couple. At least they’re nice people, he thinks. Angelito tries to find an alternate route on his phone. There’s a detour up ahead that could work. Angelito turns on the radio. He hums as the cab inches forward in the blistering heat.

Researcher De Guzman stretches to wake up. He looks over what documents he has of SCPs held in the country. Watermelon seeds that make fruit tumors when eaten. The cellphone ghost of an abusive mother harassing her daughter and son-in-law. The Sinulog/Santo Niño Festival rituals that need to be done so people who watch the festival don’t have parts of their body turn into fertilized duck eggs. There’s probably more. Is it the SCPs, or is researcher De Guzman hungry now? Maybe someone on site has ice pops.

The sun looks over what it shines on. All that feel its light are safe. This heat is its love. It gives freely. It shines. It cares so deeply.

Is there a way to spread its light deeper? The sun thinks on this for a good long while.

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