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Scribblory Writers Library

Your virtual library of true stories has come to this site!

Scribblory Writers Library shelters short true-to-life stories written by the memoirists of Scribblory Writers Group. This virtual library started in 2020, at the outset of COVID-19 pandemic. While the world was losing many lives, we held our pens and preserved life stories.

Are the write-ups here too few to quell the thirst of the reader in you? Head out to our old site and read some more.

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Category: Pandemic/

Quarantine Days

Stock Exchange Market
Mother with a Mask

Work-From-Home Mom: Free Trial

Written by Vergie Manligas

July 14, 2020

Being a mom is hard work. Being a working mom is double the work. A working mom during ECQ? I am not sure how to define it. A superhero? LOL.

When I became a mom, I wanted to spend my whole day with my baby although there were times when I needed a breather. I wanted to work while being with my child. Lord, can I do it? I searched for jobs that would fit me. I prayed for guidance. I was hesitant. Then this pandemic happened, and I took it as a chance to try if it was possible. Free trial, Lord? Sure! I'll take it!

This is how my usual Quarantine Day looks like:

I wake up super early, as my baby's wake-up time is at 6 AM. I have to wake up before that—5:00 or 5:30—so I can have some alone time. During those few minutes, I write in my journal, reflect, and catch up on my games or edit my writing projects.

Once the little one is awake, all my attention is on him. I change his diaper, change him to his day clothes, and feed him. Sometimes, we spend a few hours playing on the bed before we get up for breakfast.

After a while, I give him to his lola. Before I log in for work, I check on the used cloth diapers from previous days and wash them. There are times when my powers cannot accommodate this task anymore, so I leave it to my mom. Thank God, I have my own superhero with me.

I go online for work at around 7:00 or 8:00 AM. In between, I check on my bebe (baby) to feed him, change his diaper, or play with him—an ample time to destress, reset, and get my mind off work for a little while.

At 4 PM—when no OT work—I log off. It's playtime with my kulitlit. I give him a bath. Come 6 PM, we prepare for bed. My bath time is after everything else is done or once he is asleep.

It isn't so bad. It is an exhausting routine, but being able to spend a little time with him before and right after I end work is a wonderful thing. It is hard but fulfilling. Difficult but satisfying. Some say that I am lucky to get this kind of setup. I am. But it is not without sacrifice. And it is a meaningful one.

Will I go back to the old routine? I will pray for the answer.

Cats at Home

ECQ: Heaven for Introverts

Written by Naysan Albaytar

July 15, 2020

For the past three months, I, my cat Small, and all the other cats in our compound who are regular guests in my apartment—Senior Cat, Cookie, and Blackie—have been a small family.

I wake up with Small beside me while Cookie waits for me in the kitchen (she goes in and out of the apartment by the windows). Senior Cat waits for me by the door outside, and Blackie lounges somewhere nearby.

I do my prayers, journal, meditations, feed the cats and give them some attention, clean the litter, cook my meals, take a shower, and clean a little.

 

Then I watch a 7 AM talk on Facebook and do some writing and some editing. By 9 AM, I take a selfie and send it to our Viber group at work: "Good morning. Checking in!"

 

The next nine to ten hours pass by in a blur as I type away on my laptop—sending emails, taking calls, trying to sound professional in my overalls; doing some writing, doing some edits, and some food in between until it's time to quit.

When it's 6 PM, I go back to my small cat family. I feed them and clean the litter. Sometimes, I can squeeze in exercise before dinner. And then I check my messages, chat some, play some, maybe write some—until it's time to sleep.

Days pass like this, and I realize that I actually enjoy it. I don't mind being alone. For the longest time, I've been trying to 'overcome' my introversion, telling myself to be out there more, to be more sociable. But during ECQ, I appreciate that I am introverted and that it's easy for me to be alone.

And I realize that maybe there's a space for both, that while I can always aspire to connect more and become just a little more extroverted, I can also appreciate my introversion.

Praying

Quarantine and Its Intimate Blessing

Written by Sisang Batute

July 16, 2020

When I first met God in the most personal way, He told me, "You are free." For a long time, I did not know what He meant by that until quarantine forced me to keep still. This gave me the opportunity to reflect on and count the blessings that God has blessed me with, especially in the years that I ignored His magnanimity.

Please don't get me wrong. I have been serving in different church ministries for years now. Also, I may pass with flying colors on what we call "spiritual human" if saying so would mean hearing the Holy Mass daily, going to confession monthly, and following all Catholic traditions. I don't know how I can say all these while I keep the so-called modesty, for I might also need to mention that I recite the Holy Rosary daily. I also have regular Scripture reading hours while I diligently write my reflections in a journal. I do all these because I want an assurance that I am in constant relation with God.

God gave us the gift of intelligence that works effectively with reason. But the human race burdens itself with its overwhelming intelligence. I say this partly because I see everything with a reason and for a reason such as—I work because I want to help my husband in supporting our family, I need to take care of my children because I am a mother, and for more than half of my life, I need to be a good worker because I want to prove something to my boss and to myself. I do whatever I think I want to do as long as it is for a good reason.

This is why I did not get the point of why God told me, "You are free." For there was no reason to be. I've always thought that I was never imprisoned, anyway.

As I continued investigating this self-contempt argument—slowly yet carefully—I realized how I conveniently enslaved myself for the wrong reasons. Truth is hard to swallow, especially if it hits the very person looking for it. In my case, it was a bullseye.

I wanted to rationalize and defend myself, but I was pinned down to spill out the hard truth that all my reasons were supercilious, a far cry from what I wanted to become. A Godly person will have no other reason than love, for it is the very reason that God sent His Only Begotten Son.

Then, it suddenly dawned on me—love is the image and likeness that God wanted me to embark on when He said that I am free. Though intelligence is a gift from Him, my convoluted reasoning made me the very judge of my own actions, thus convicting myself to a blinding reality of absurd self-efficacy.

It must be safe to say then that this quarantine brought me back to the time when I first met God in the most personal way. Only now do I understand how free I am.

Office Meeting

A Slice From My ECQ Pie

Written by Kai Alfonso

July 17, 2020

I counted the number of people present—15 in the Accounting Room, 3 in the IT Room, and 6 in the Executive Room. It was 24 pax.

I grabbed my wallet and asked Kuya Dodong to accompany me to KFC. Our CFO had given me a budget for our lunch today, and I felt responsible for feeding these people after the pressure we'd been through.

Four days after the ECQ took effect, we started wrapping up all our salaries for ten affiliate companies. After three days cramped in the office, I could now feel my headache about to hit the level I could no longer dismiss. Twice in the morning, I had rubbed my ever-ready menthol stick on my temples to at least numb the pain, but my miracle pahid-pahid (wipe) was no longer effective.

I kept a much faster pace to disregard the steady thump of pain in both of my temples. After distributing the lunch boxes, I settled in my cubicle and ate my lunch. Examining our room, I let out a sigh of relief. We've always had a day like this—when long vacations were announced, the last day usually became a battlefield. But because of the pandemic, the supposedly last day became three long days of preparation.

2:00 PM.

With the team's effort, we called it a day. I was on my way home to Bulacan inside our armored van. The driver assured me that there would be no hassle on the road since our vans were allowed on the emergency lane. What a relief.

 

Forty-five days thereafter in ECQ, here in Bulacan, I want to remind myself of those three nights that I slept in my cubicle under my table with the newly bought mattress for those who would sleep over. The company wanted to ensure that we would give enough financial support to our nationwide operators for a week. It was like telling all my soldiers back to barracks, "We have one week to recharge, heal, think, and strategize, so we can deal with the enemy." For one week, there were no alarm clocks so that everyone was assured of a peaceful sleep. We had no maps, but we had a Messenger chatroom where all instructions were given in time.

Remembering this truly makes me grateful for all the days that I am at home during ECQ. I wake up according to my body clock—whether it's 8:00 AM or 10:00 AM, then that's when my morning starts. I'm a routine person, so after a quick restroom time, I take my breakfast then start my work-from-home answering calls, checking my emails, and managing our chatroom people.

Lucky me, I live with my sister who loves to cook. Together with my son, my niece, and my brother-in-law, every day becomes an opportunity to enjoy one another's company, especially in mealtimes.

My sister uses the terrace for her workplace, and I have my own space on the dining table. After lunch is my time for writing and reflections—until 4:45 PM when I do a daily Zoom Vespers with my Benedictine Oblates Community. After which, I spend time in meditation.

Evenings are fun times. We gather and watch movies, or I and my son play with our guitars or simply gather around the dining table to watch my sister cook while I tell her stories.

After dinner, I am back to my writing chair, when everyone's settled watching their Netflix movies or sleeping. The silence and peace somehow inspire me to write. Sometimes, I listen to music. Sometimes, I watch movies. But no matter what the mood is, I sit there and write. I make an appearance. That chair faces our altar, and it has pictures of Nanay (mother) and Tatay (father). Most times, I light candles.

Around midnight, my teenage son comes and hugs me. An excuse, actually, so he can pinch my bil-bils (belly folds). He prepares some snacks and makes lambing (shows affection) so that I can prepare hot chocolate for both of us. Our midnight snacks came to be because I always tell him stories about my Nanay who used to be my reading buddy. We used to always have midnight snacks of biscuits and her hot milk tea.

Forty-five days in ECQ and some stories are already published. My left fingers are cracking with all the guitar playing with my son. I have gained weight from savoring all my sister's delicious cooking and the midnight snacks. I get fresh pedicures, courtesy of my niece, and my sister has somehow improved her skills in dyeing my hair.

I am aware of how much COVID has brought havoc to our society, and how ECQ has greatly affected our people. But for me, I just have to go back to those last three days in the office, and I am reminded to be grateful for all the simple joys each day brings. I remember to give back to Him what I always promise if I am given enough time—that I will write and enjoy the company of my family.

Oatmeal Cookies

ECQ: Baking 101

Written by Ria Miral

August 4, 2020

My sister Guppy and I had that sudden urge to bake. Thus, just a few hours before midnight, we scrambled down the stairs and into the kitchen. Since it was ECQ and we were enveloped in boredom, we thought we’d try baking out. 

 

It started with a recipe, randomly lifted from somewhere on the Internet. A recipe for cornflake cookies since we had a surplus of Kellogg’s anyway. 

 

We stared at the page on my phone, not knowing where to start. Should the ingredients be measured first and separated in bowls? Or should we just measure and then dump everything in one bowl, so we won’t have too many wares to wash? Did our baker Tita once tell us that dry and wet ingredients should be mixed separately first?

 

“Whatever. Let’s just get on with it,” I said. 

 

Eventually, we found our flow – or whatever one might call that confused process. We checked the ingredients one at a time. The first one was flour, so we pulled an old sack from the shelves. “Good thing we have this. It’s almost expired,” Guppy remarked. We measured this and poured the contents of the cup onto a large silver bowl. We did the same with the baking powder, salt, and cornflakes. 

 

“Time for the wet ingredients!” I said. “What’s the first one?”

 

“Eggs,” Guppy replied as she lifted her head from my phone. 

 

“I think they’re on the shelf under the table with the toaster.”

 

She went there to fetch some, but alas. “Ate! Ubos na ang itlog! (We don’t have eggs!)”

 

Ha? E nahalo na natin lahat ng ingredients e! Sayang naman! (What? But we already mixed all the ingredients!)”

 

Our enthusiasm for our first baking venture was snuffed out just like that. We stared at that hopeless mix of powder. It was a sand mix, dry like concrete. It did not deserve to be called batter.

“What if we add milk? Maybe that’ll make it stickier?” I suggested.

 

“No, it won’t work. We’ve failed,” Guppy groaned.

 

But I poured in milk anyway and hoped that would do the trick. Lo and behold, it did not. We ended up with a runny mass with floating lumps of aggregated sugar. It would not hold, and it would only spread out on the cookie sheet like water. It did not deserve to be called batter. 

“What if we add all-purpose cream?” I asked.

 

“No. Let’s not waste any more ingredients,” Guppy grunted. 

 

But I poured in some cream anyway and hoped that it would do the trick. Lo and behold, it did. It was crumbly, and it disintegrated with the least measured movement. But it held and it could be formed into cookies – well, at least, somehow. Yes, this can pass as a batter. Alright, we dub thee batter. 

 

We squinted our eyes, looking through the oil-splattered glass door of the oven. The bumps slowly turned brown and rose a little in height. Soon, we drew the sheet out. 

 

Uncontrolled pinches made rounds crumble, so we had to be careful with how we handled them. We took our first bites, and it wasn’t so bad. Salty, sure. But it was surprisingly edible! We shared some with our parents and our other siblings. Soon the batch was finished.

 

The rounds somehow looked like cookies, somehow felt like cookies, and somehow tasted like cookies. Yes, they were really cookies. How viscous batter of inedible ingredients could form into a snack, it was a wonder. 

 

“That wasn’t so bad!” I said. “I mean, it wasn’t good either, but it wasn’t so bad!”

 

“Whatever, we’ll do better next time,” Guppy said. 

 

And so my sister and I would bake some more during the quarantine period. Our next attempts thankfully turned out better – from empanadas to three-layered cakes. They were all delicious, but the crumbly cornflake cookies would always be memorable to me. 

 

The experience of the unknown, the surprise in the chaos, and the joy of unexpected victories. These were fun.

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