Finding lessons, hilarity in Gene Del Carmen’s collection of short stories

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‘During the saddest period of my life, I just kept writing.’

‘During the saddest period of my life, I just kept writing.’

By Maricar CP Hampton

For New Jersey accountant Gene Del Carmen, it was his mother’s legacy of being a “great storyteller” that inspired him to write short stories and compile them into the recently published “The Pork Bun Heist and Other Stories.”

The collection of nine stories focuses on the possibility of transformation and a positive twist on a usually complicated plot based on everyday experiences.

“Growing up, it was easy for me to imagine stories. It’s something that’s always been in me,” Gene said when interviewed by The FilAm.

A good example is the story “When We Forget to Pray,” the story of teen romance where the main characters have unusual names.

“Drew and Isolde, and I thought those names are in the past tense. Then the plot develops in my mind until I have a full story,” he said.

Gene recalled how as a young boy he would listen intently to his mother’s stories while she ironed his and his sister’s school uniforms. He describes her mother, a seamstress, as “prolific even poetic with her narratives.”

“My mother would tell my sister and me stories about brave warriors and their adventures to save the maiden they love. These were stories she would imagine and invent as she narrated them to us,” he said.

It took many years before he made the plunge into short story writing.

“Writing was not a good source of income so I studied accounting,” Gene said. gene book use

In the Philippines, he worked as an accountant and continued in the financial sector even when he came to the U.S. in 1984. He works for a tile company chain in New Jersey. He and his wife, Lita, have a nice home in Monmouth County.

The burning desire to write has always been with him, and he sought freelance writing jobs wherever he could find them.

“When I heard there was a new TV show looking for new writers, I would submit a script. To my surprise, it was accepted. That was when I started writing,” he said. Gene wrote scripts for television series such as “Pira-pirasong Pangarap,” and “Tambakan Alley.” His stories also got published in comic books like “Tagalog Klasiks” and “Liwayway.”

It was the death of his first wife that stirred in him the emotion to begin writing short stories. “During the saddest period of my life, I just kept writing.”

Some of the stories in “The Pork Bun Heist and Other Stories” have religious themes, the moral lesson very succinct to the point of being preachy.

“I prefer to write them the way the stories were honestly developed in my mind,” said Gene, who recently earned a Master of Arts in Theology from the Catholic-run Georgian Court University in Ocean County. “My Christian values may have partly influenced my stories.”

Readers of his book seem to like what they’ve read.

Says Tes Abes-Olitan, “Some of the stories will touch your hearts and at the same time will make you think.”

“Each story is entertaining, informative, and shares a moral lesson,” writes Reynaldo Munda.

The engine to move forward with “Pork Bun Heist” was ignited in 2013 when the editor of his company’s monthly newsletter, an executive by the name of Stacey Mednick, invited all employees to share any special talents, hobbies, or interest they may have.

“I emailed her about how I was a part-time writer in Manila,” he said. “She was very nice. It was the first time in a long time that anyone has shown any interest in my stories.”

His favorite in the collection is “The Pork Bun Heist,” which is a feel-good whodunit about two detectives who find clues to an intriguing bank robbery while enjoying plates of ‘dim sum’ in a Chinese restaurant.

“It was the easiest story I have written, and it’s my readers’ favorite also,” he said.

Gene shares a common lament among writers how “Filipinos are not exactly avid readers,” but that does not deter him from putting together a second collection of writings. He has completed two stories and seeds of ideas for about a dozen more. His mind is constantly at work. He develops a plot and gets up in the middle of the night to type them out on his computer.

“The positive reviews from readers have been very encouraging,” he said.

Gene, as a young student of Don Bosco, with his father Benigno, his mother Victoria, and younger sister Cristina in a family snapshot.

Gene, as a young student of Don Bosco, with his father Benigno, his mother Victoria, and younger sister Cristina in a family snapshot.

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