Thursday, October 17, 2019


Grief is solitary
work. How many days
did I have you?
I wish I could spread them
out in rows, sun-baked stones
that would fit in the palm
of my hand.
Something, anything
other than this nothing
in your place.

I want to be
weighed down.
But I forget
that vast distances
do not keep stars
from shining.

You are my countless
breaths, light
as air itself.

(c) Justine C. Tajonera
October 22, 2017

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

Saturday, October 12, 2019


Many years later,
I still think of you.
In the middle of my contentment,
listening to wind chimes
and water bubbling in a
saltwater pool, I still
want to cry as I write
“always saying goodbye.”
This loss is the same
and always changing.
It steers me.

October 20, 2017

(c) Justine C. Tajonera
Photo by Skull Kat on Unsplash

Friday, October 13, 2017

Writing About The Blues: How I Came Up With Notes in the Key of Lapis Lazuli

It was at a time that I was feeling dry, creatively, when the call for new fiction from was posted. I signed up right away because I needed a writing boost. The 5K to 7K word requirement was challenging but not overwhelming. 

But what to write about? I chose the prompt because it was very intriguing. It’s one of those situations that I actually want to experience: discovering that the CR stall in the office is actually a gateway to another world. How cool would that be?

Yes, it was cool but I was stuck again. What would it be about? Aaargh! The universe sent me the solution in the form of two workshops that I attended recently: a chakra master retreat and a kundalini yoga session. These were just what I needed to stimulate my sacral chakra, the chakra of creativity. 

And then I was on a roll. 

I wanted to write about a healer and that was why I chose to write about a nurse. And not just any kind of nurse, a mental health nurse. I know one and I’m in awe of her. It takes a lot of stamina, physically and mentally, to be a nurse in a mental health facility. 

In my story, I wanted to describe a journey of discovery: from feeling hopelessness and dreariness to a sense of purpose. I found the fantasy element very helpful in this aspect. Renewing the spirit involves imagination and a leap of faith. I wanted my main character, Anna, to take the trip of her lifetime and discover who she really is inside. A healer. It’s not unusual for someone to wake up one day and discover that all the mojo is gone. Getting back one’s mojo is an exercise in going back to one’s purpose and unique gifts.

It’s purely coincidental that my story came out just in time for #worldmentalhealthday. Maybe not purely coincidental — fated. I’d like to think of it as cosmic confluence rather than an accident. 

Here’s to everyone discovering their own unique superpower. 

You can read the story for free here:

You’ll also discover other lovely stories there about duwendes (dwarves) and cosplay emergencies. Enjoy!

Friday, April 28, 2017

A Boy Named Butter

A Boy Named Butter
for B
by Justine Camacho - Tajonera

His parents loved to cook as much as they loved to eat. Hence, they named him, their firstborn, Butter, after that golden ingredient that made everything smell and taste better. They loved the name and never thought it would cause him so much grief later on in life, unlike their prettily named second child, Vanilla. Butter was miserable in school, mercilessly teased by his classmates from kindergarten to grade school. He never once told his parents about how he was treated in school. He was a shy, secretive child and his parents took him at face value when he said school “was fine.” 

Butter retreated into the kitchen, the most magical place in their home. His best friend was their cook, Rosa. He loved the heat of the stove and the oven. He frequently poked his nose into the refrigerator and could smell all the ingredients that went into food. For example, he knew the subtle differences among onions, chives, and leeks. He knew how oil could sing and at what note it was best to lower the meat into the frying pan. He loved the feel of rock salt, flour, and muscovado sugar. He liked how their textures and colors were different and how they transformed into something delicious after they were cooked. In fact, he felt that the ingredients spoke to him. “Enough, enough,” the ground pepper whispered to his fingers and nose when he lightly dusted a dish of pasta. He wasn’t satisfied with just cooked rice. He liked adding pandan leaves into the pot, making the rice fragrant. He liked the slowness of caldereta, a beef stew that took six to seven hours to cook, as well as the quickness of danggit, a thin and crispy salted fish.

Butter was devoted to the kitchen. He insisted that he help Rosa clean up, standing on a wooden stool over the sink, diligently washing all the dishes. Rosa checked on his washing skills, sliding a finger over plates and utensils, making sure there wasn’t a spot of grease left on them. Later, he lured Vanilla into the kitchen with promises of candy and cupcakes. He made her his cooking partner, assigning her to ingredients preparation. When she was older, he tasked her with the cutting of vegetables, the peeling of potatoes, or the grating of cheese.

Rosa was so impressed with Butter’s progress in the kitchen that she entered him in a cooking contest featured on TV, with the permission of Butter’s parents, of course. Everyone was surprised when one of the finalists was a boy of eleven who had to stand on a stool to participate. They were even more intrigued when they learned that his name was Butter. Of course, Butter won the contest with his simple but ingenious butter and calamansi scallops paired with delicately sautéed snow peas and sigarilyas, or winged beans. The judges were enchanted. Butter became an instant celebrity. His classmates who had once shunned him were now vying to be his friends. Butter never changed. He only made a few friends despite his fame. And, of course, his best friends were still Rosa and Vanilla. Butter was never bitter with his parents over their unorthodox choice for his name. Now, he understood his unique destiny as a chef.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Summer Feels: A #RomanceClass Anthology

Summer Feels: A #RomanceClass Anthology

Sharing information on a new book launching on April 30, 2017 at U.P. Town Center!

Summer loving happens so fast, as you'll find with Summer Feels, an anthology of 23 stories of love under the summer sun by #romanceclass authors. Savor the candied thrill of firsts—first loves, first kisses, first solo vacations—and the bittersweet triumph of second chances. Tour the Philippines as the stories take you to mountain retreats and island paradises. Let the magic of the hot sun, clear blue skies, and lots of love take you on a roller coaster ride of feels. With stories ranging from sweet to sexy, there's sure to be something for any fan of romance.

Featuring stories by:
Elea Andrea Almazora • Erleen Alvarez • Ella Banta • Rachelle Belaro • H. Bentham • Halina Cabrera • Charlie Dio • Mina V. Esguerra • Elizabeth Galit • Georgette S. Gonzales • Ami Granada • Irene Jurado • Catherine Lo • Arlene Manocot • Bianca Mori • Eris Peñaluna • Farrah F. Polestico • Kit Salazar • Miel Salva • Fay Sebastian • Kate Sebastian • Yeyet Soriano • Marian Tee

Edited and compiled by Kate Sebastian
Cover and interior design by Miles Tan

Here's a teaser of the cover:

About the Designer

Miles Tan likes inhabiting imaginary worlds, from fantasy books to sci-fi shows to cheeky mysteries to role-playing games. She works with websites, plays with graphics, and is now currently painting with words.

Finding X is her first published novella. Her short story “Something Real” is included in the YA Luna East anthology, Kids These Days.

To learn more about her books, visit To see more of the cover art she’s designed, check out

Book links:
·       Amazon:
·       Print copy preorder links (Philippines only):

Stories included in this anthology:

·       “All about That Bass” by Fay Sebastian
·       “Alter Christus” by Catherine Lo
·       “Fall for Me” by Miel Salva
·       “The Game of Twenty Questions” by Elizabeth Galit
·       “The Summer You Said Hello” by Ami Granada
·       “At the Bermuda Triangle” by Elea Andrea Almazora
·       “Beachin’ Summer” by Arlene Manocot
·       “Buddy System” by Yeyet Soriano
·       “Busy out of the Friendzone” by Charlie Dio
·       “Flying with You” by Rachelle Belaro
·       “Guide for a Day” by H. Bentham
·       “Ready to Run” by Kit Salazar
·       “Secondhand Wanderlust” by Erleen Alvarez
·       “The Search for the Kissing Monster” by Ella Banta
·       “Anything Can Happen” by Marian Tee
·       “Four Basic Principles” by Bianca Mori
·       “Love after Summer” by Irene Jurado
·       “Lucky in Paradise” by Farrah F. Polestico
·       “The Swimming Instructor” by Eris Peñaluna
·       “Wedding Night Stand” by Mina V. Esguerra
·       “An Overdue Adventure” by Kate Sebastian
·       “Buttered Sunset” by Halina Cabrera

·       “Then Derrick Was Back” by Georgette S. Gonzales

King Butter Buns and The Dark Chocolates

Last Black Saturday, I made up a story together with my son. Sharing all the belly laugh-inducing silliness with you.

King Butter Buns and The Dark Chocolates 
by Justine Camacho-Tajonera

For B. 

King Butter Buns lived peacefully in the green hills with his minions, the Easter bunnies and the regular bunnies. The Easter bunnies were special. They ate the magic weeds of King Butter Bun's hills and pooped Easter eggs filled with soda gummies. King Butter Bun’s regular bunnies, on the other hand, pooped out milk chocolate bars.

Everything was going fine until the Dark Chocolates arrived. There was an army of them. They wanted to take over King Butter Bun’s kingdom. They came armed with Dark Chocolate bows and arrows and catapults. It was an all out war. King Butter Buns hit back with Easter eggs and milk chocolate bars. But they were outnumbered. The Dark Chocolates were winning.

Suddenly, from out of the horizon, a rocket ship of children arrived. The boys and girls saw that the Dark Chocolates covered King Butter Bun’s hills. “Eeew! Dark chocolates!” they cried out. Together, they flung the Dark Chocolates away until they saw the Easter eggs and milk chocolate bars. “Yay! Easter eggs and milk chocolate!” The children defeated the Dark Chocolates.

“Thank you, dear children,” King Butter Buns said, “as your reward, you can have as much Easter eggs, cola gummies, and milk chocolate as you want.” The boys and girls were astonished with the cola gummies. They didn't see that these were hidden inside the sugar shells of the Easter eggs. Everyone cheered! The regular bunnies and Easter bunnies pooped out all the Easter eggs and chocolate bars with grateful hearts. Before they left on their rocket ship, the children, in turn, left a box of carrots for the bunnies. What the bunnies pooped out from the carrots is another story. 

The End

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