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Good Biscuit.

“It’s just a dare, Mia,”

I stared at the small piece of bread, round and flat, with the top a little more brown than the rest, the entire surface shiny and glistening, like the ones my dad used to bring home. Hopia has always been Daddy’s signature pasalubong; he said he never believed in chocolates and candies for dessert, and he always got them at a cheaper price anyway because the lady selling them thinks he’s Chinese. We have the same eyes, Daddy and I. The family calls it alkansya – piggy bank eyes, they say. The tiny little slits appear when we smile, when we sneeze, when we take a bite, when I try to remember the names of relatives, when the early six-thirty a.m. sun hits his eye in the morning as he drives us to school.

Melissa is staring aghast at the rows of hopiang monggo atop our cafeteria counter. She said she only tasted it once and never tried it again. It smells like gasoline, she said. Once she decided it was disgusting, the rest of us could not possibly like it anymore. Tricia never ate anything but her mom’s chocolate chip cookies for recess, and Cindy has never tried hopia before. I was the only one who enjoyed eating it for dessert, for merienda, for breakfast – but secretly of course, in the confines of our own living room, with only my parents and my brother as witnesses.

I gave my five-peso coin to the Manang, motioning for the first hopia in the row. How quickly the smell found its way to me, and eventually my friends! I saw them wrinkle their noses in disgust as I started moving the piece of bread closer to my mouth. It looked a little glossier than what my dad usually brought home but smelled like gasoline just the same. An oddly addicting taste and smell. I do not want them to think this is too easy for me – I close my eyes and pretend disgust. I pull it away from my face and I hear Melissa laughing. Tricia and Cindy are cheering for me. At the back of my head, I know this would be easy. I take a bite and feel my eyes squint their way into an alkansya and for that moment I am sitting across dad in our small, dining table, looking Chinese even though our surname sounds more like a telenovela character. I take a bite and I chew; slowly I taste the gasoline and soon I smell it, like I did as I sat on the passenger seat with dad driving me and my brother to school, like I did the time we went to the hospital after Dad never woke up. I let its strangely delicious flavor swirl inside my mouth like a current of emotion. Tricia hugs me and I lean on her shoulder, wetting her sleeve. See, it wasn’t so bad, I hear Melissa say.


As an exercise for our CW140 class, we were asked to write down our "secrets" on small pieces of paper and draw them in lots, after. We then had to write a story based on the ones we picked. This was what I came up with with this secret: "I ate hopia in front of my classmates even if it smelled like gasoline because I liked it." It was actually quite a funny, insignificant little detail - which I surprisingly liked a lot, really.