“I like this book because it’s unforgiving. It hits a lot of hard truths not everyone can handle but a lot of people are facing… There’s a rawness in it that I LOVE!”

BookTok/Booksta Influencer

Set in the 2020s, the 23-year-old unnamed narrator is recovering from a bad breakup. He meets Kayla, a college freshman he approached at a cafe. And they spend a Viagra-assisted night together. Then they each confess a secret. She had two abortions. And he can’t get an erection unless his partner is cheating on someone by sleeping with him.

The narrator, Kayla, and R — a friend who broke off her engagement — spend drunken nights in Metro Manila and Baguio City. They purge all that alcohol through mountain excursions. And they struggle against a modern dating landscape akin to a Filipino karinderya: Bland, readily-available food that gorges but doesn’t sate.

Karinderya Love Songs was an Amazon Kindle Top 100 Best Seller (Asian Literature category). And a Fully Booked Reading Allies’ favorite book of 2022.

KLS is available on Amazon. If you’re in the Philippines, you can buy from Ellie Librairie, 8Letters Books, or Shopee.

“Unibersal man ang usaping pag-ibig at sex, pero, dito sa Karinderya Love Songs ni John Pucay, pinatitikim tayo sa daigdig ng Gen Z, ang kilig at kilabot, ang haplos at dagok, ang pait at tamis, ang anghang at tabang… gaya ng karinderya, iba’t ibang putahe para sa iba’t ibang panlasa… tena’t tikman.”

Eros Atalia
Eros Atalia,
Palanca-award-winning author

“John Pucay’s writing is raw and hits like a sledgehammer, but with a touch of tenderness and humor. His storytelling is like a foul-tasting cocktail that, strangely enough, made me feel pleasantly buzzed — A drink I’d surely order more than once.”

Mai Fanglayan Reviews John Pucay
Mai Fanglayan,
Award-winning Cordilleran actress

“If I have to describe this book in one word, it’s nostalgic, but of course, you’d probably only feel the same if you are from the province who moved to Manila for college or work… This book talks about life and the struggles of not knowing one’s self at the age of 20s. It felt like I was listening to a guy best friend opening up about emptiness. All in all, I found the book as depicting the reality of modern dating.”

Andrea Altamirano
Andrea Altamirano,
Booksta/BookTok Influencer

“John Pucay is a great story-teller. His multilayered narrative is fascinating and captivating at the same time. I will read everything he writes!”

Darius 2
Darius Foroux,
International best-selling author

“Karinderya Love songs is a beautifully written short novel by John Pucay that did not shy away from telling the hard truths about relationships & dating. I feel like this novel wasn’t just made for us to sob or be weird out over each character’s confessions. Rather, it is for us to understand that we are flawed and can be messy as human beings… I am happy that a Filipino author wrote a book that deserves recognition here in the Philippines and internationally.”

MJ Valencia
Mj Valencia,
Booksta/BookTok Influencer
Dating Sucks Karinderya Love Songs

Karinderya Love Songs is available on Amazon. If you’re in the Philippines, you can buy the paperback from Ellie Librairie, 8Letters Books, or Shopee.

About me

John Pucay profile image

Born in Baguio City, Philippines, and raised by a jeepney driver father and a budget-savvy mother; I moved to Metro Manila in search of Glory, Girls, and Gold.

I got fired after 5 months.

During my 3rd month of unemployment, frustration led me to write an article that I sent to the Philippine Daily Inquirer on a whim. PDI published my piece in a week and readers started offering me a job. That’s how I discovered I could probably write for a living.

I worked a year in corporate before quitting everything in early 2020 to pursue writing full-time. Then the pandemic happened.

So far:

  • My short fiction stories have appeared in the 16th Likhaan Journal, Brittle Star Literary Magazine (UK), and Anomaly Intersectional Journal of Literature and Arts. While my creative non-fiction pieces were published in places like Tiny Buddha, Thought Catalog, Runner’s Life, Rappler, Philippine Daily Inquirer, and Polyamory Today, among others.
  • I’ve become a Top Writer for short stories (2021) on Medium. And a Runner-Up for the Vocal Media Fiction Awards (2022).
  • I occasionally blog on Medium.com. Mostly about relationships, dating, polyamory, and running. I also have occasional pieces on career, work, and mindfulness.
  • And I managed to finish and publish my debut novel, Karinderya Love Songs, (August 2022) after throwing away three different drafts!

KLS cover art and illustrations are made by the wonderful James Guerrero.

cheating debauchery infidelity KLS

John Pucay Official Bio Note:

John Pucay is a writer from the Kankanaey-Ibaloi tribes of Benguet. He writes about relationships, polyamory, and striving for success as an artist despite a financially-challenged background. His novel on 2020s dating, Karinderya Love Songs, was named one of Fully Booked Reading Allies‘ favorite books of 2022. KLS also made it into the Amazon Kindle Top 100 Best Sellers list (Asian Literature category).

John’s short stories have been published in the 16th Likhaan Journal of the University of the Philippines-Diliman, Anomaly Literary Journal, and Brittle Star (UK). While his creative non-fiction pieces have appeared in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Rappler, Thought Catalog, and Tiny Buddha, among others. His main interests involve trail running, EDM raves, and sex positivity. More details about him and his work are available at johnpucay.com. Email him your thoughts: john@johnpucay.com

“John’s writing style reminds me of Haruki Murakami and a little bit of Sally Rooney… This book is not the kind that overwhelms you with so many strong emotions. However, it is very relatable… It showed a lot of truths, including the ugly ones, that not everyone can admit even to themselves.”

Micah Ellie Librairie 1
Micah Gabrielle,
Bookstore Owner
@Ellie Librairie

“I’ll be honest, this is not something I’d usually go for. My personal values and beliefs are in direct contrast with the narrator’s, but I plunged ahead to learn more about the realities of today’s dating culture… Kudos to the author for the clever use of sex and dating, as well as creative metaphors, to discuss philosophical points about life, relationships, privilege, the choices you make, and the maturity it requires to deal with the aftermath… It is crass, but honest and raw – I appreciate that… I’m happy to report that I liked it.”

Reads by naia
Booksta reader

“I judged this book too quickly. I thought it’s all about sex and stuff, and I said, this ain’t for young readers. But as I went along, I’ve come to realize that it’s just a facade. This is not a romance novel or what they call a “spicy” book. There are lessons about life, love, relationship, and self-discovery that we can dig underneath. If you’re going to read this novel and think that this might not be for you, I’m telling you, don’t DNF this book…  You can vividly imagine the scenes in the books like an indie film. And the description — the author spitting straight facts… Will I recommend this? YES, definitely!”

Mayumireads 1
reader @mayumireads

“The author really achieved to make the story a relatable one, not just because of certain places that I’ve known & been to, but also the self-discovery phase during our 20s… If you’re into short novels & want to have a chill & laid-back read with a glimpse of how the dating scene is… I highly recommend this book. Lastly, let’s support our very own Filipino authors—their talents should be known internationally. Kudos to the writer, John Pucay, for creating such wonderful prose for his debut [novel]!”

Jhepay Booksta
Booksta Blogger

Karinderya Love Songs is available on Amazon. If you’re in the Philippines, you can buy the paperback from Ellie Librairie, 8Letters Books, or Shopee.

My short stories, published in literary magazines.

Ghost In Quarantine

John Pucay Ghost in Quarantine Medium
(Left) Brittle Star Literary Magazine Issue 46. (Right) The original art was drawn by my friend Jasmine. Then digitally colored by my (then) 16-year-old sister, Jamie.

The first short story I ever published. It first appeared in print in Brittle Star Literary Magazine (UK). It’s also the first story I published on the blogging platform, Medium.

The Weight Of Freedom

ANMLY John Pucay 1
It was humbling to see my name alongside veteran, award-winning writers like John Bengan, Lakan Umali, Kristin Ong Muslim, and others. It was also great to see fellow Cordilleran writer, Melvin Magsanoc.

A short story about the burden of familial obligations and trying to rise above one’s place in the food chain of life and success. First published in Anomaly Intersectional Journal of Literature & Arts.

I first wrote it in May 2020. But it only came out around June 2021. It’s my 2nd story in a lit mag. Reading it now, a year later, I somehow cringe at the clunkiness of my prose. But hey, we all make art that isn’t so good, don’t we?

This story holds a special place in my heart. It contains my deepest feelings about seeing many of my peers get the things I have to work five times harder for. Just because they have the means and I don’t.

I also wrote a couple of personal essays. One kept me from being homeless. Another got me dates with two gorgeous women who eventually became my consistent partners:

Summer Job

John Pucay Condo Lobby
View from my condo. Back when I lived and worked in Katipunan. Ah, those good ol’ money-chasing days.

I wrote this when I was about to get kicked out of my apartment, back in 2019. I was recently fired from my tech startup job and I became too broke to pay my rent. Feeling low, I wrote about my predicament and submitted it to The Philippine Daily Inquirer; a major national newspaper. Then I forgot about it.

A few days later, I started receiving emails from good-hearted people who wanted to give me a job. I eventually got 2 website marketing clients and a full-time job at a large conglomerate. I didn’t get the corporate job through the article. But thanks to my 2 other clients who paid me a good advance rate, I could pay my rent and continue my job search. It’s mainly thanks to them that I didn’t return to my rural hometown with my tail between my legs.

Polyamory and the Nuances of Having Multiple Partners

john pucay rappler 1
Illustration by Dr. Castuciano. Taken from Rappler.

Since I live in a Catholic country, I decided to provide a perspective on my relationship orientation. Rappler, the Philippines’ top online news agency, published it this March 2021.

Amazingly, poly people from all over the country reached out to me. And I even had 2 dates from some amazing women who read it and reached out!

When You Keep Failing: How to Recover and Boost Your Confidence

John Pucay Tiny Buddha
Illustration from Tiny Buddha

Published in Tiny Buddha, this talks about the lessons I’ve learned from getting fired from my first job in Metro Manila and how I coped with it.

There’s also some descriptive imagery about that time I went for a run in the mountains. If you’re feeling down, or you’ve been having one failure after another, this is something I’d offer: From me to you:)

How To Genuinely Connect With Anyone On A Date


This is my first piece on Thought Catalog. I first published it with the Medium publication, PSILY. And some editors from TC liked it enough that they reached out to PSILY editors to ask my permission to have the article re-published on their site too.

Medium.com Stuff

Here are some of my most popular articles on Medium. I’m pretty much a Medium newbie and I haven’t really been publishing much recently since I concentrated on finishing and publishing my debut novel.

But I hope you find them helpful:

Join my email list to get more tips and stories on relationships, life, love, polyamory, and running. I only send emails when a new story is out.

Whether it’s personal or professional (I provide writing and research services for blogs, companies, and individuals), feel free to reach out to me at:


@JPucay (Twitter)

johnpucay.com (Website)

johnpucay.medium.com (Medium site)

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