This story started out as a joke but the engine that drove it was rage.
It’s weird how close humor and anger are to each other. Neil Gaiman once eulogized the great master of comedic fantasy, Terry Pratchett, thus: “There is a fury to Terry Pratchett’s writing: it’s the fury that was the engine that powered Discworld.”
I can believe that. The joke that was the seed for this story was my officemates at a previous company rattling off wittily named food for the brokenhearted and the forever alone on Valentine’s Day 2017. I tried to remember as much of it as I could and filed it away for a possible short story in newspaper format.
Many months went by, during which Duterte’s genocide against the poor was in full swing. He and his supporters didn’t care; in fact, the latter celebrated the murders of all those people, including the women and children. At this time as well, many of the Filipino people began to feel gaslit by the fake news popping up everywhere.
In response, Dean Alfar, Nikki Alfar, and Louie Jon Sanchez created a call for an anthology of creative work about fake news. It was to be called Kathang Haka: The Big Book of Fake News. That finally gave me a reason not just to finish this story, but give it a new, wrathful life. It is was the second story I wrote for the Archipelago Daily series, but the third chronologically. The editors accepted the story, thus marking my first local publication credit.
Kathang Haka: The Big Book of Fake News was finally published in December 2022, five years later. In the meantime, “#Hugot” was published on Strange Horizons in May 2020 and will be reprinted in the 2023 edition The Best of World SF edited by Lavie Tidhar. The world has changed yet again since I first wrote the story, maybe for the worst, but the rage remains.