21 things I realized at 21

  1. Of the 9-billion people populating our earth, there’s me.
  2. Being the middle child is risky business – and it spells a lot of things however you decide to take your life, and it kinda sucks.
  3. Thank god, I was born Asian, Filipino, a Mindanaon and a Female – these gave me perspectives that help me see and understand the world.
  4. As an Asian, I realized how much different western people are from us (duh). And how much we must thrive just to prove our worth so that we won’t be labeled as the tropes they label us as. History has shown that we, Asians, have done so much to make the world as it is, but Western people just like trampling over us. But in the end, as differences were set aside, they befriended us and helped us in every step of the way. But still, we always have to do extra just to prove ourselves.
  5. It’s hard to be a Filipino now in these trying times. Often – or more often than not, we’re divided by differing opinions, social status, ethnicity, to name a few. We live by the values of dignity, honor, bravery, unity and family. But we dumb ourselves just for the attention we crave so much, the honor we think we deserve, just to establish our country on the map. But still, I’m proud to be a Filipino because we’re brave, we’re vigilant, we’re a happy bunch, and more importantly, because we keep fighting back.
  6. For being born a Mindanaon, I understand how divided my country is by fear, hate and ignorance especially towards us. That because I live in an island mostly populated by Muslims – who are always branded as terrorists but are victims of misuse of their religion – that we live in war all our lives, that we’re illiterate, we don’t have civilization. They don’t understand that this island is home to all, that terror is trying to rule it but we – Christians, Muslims and Lumads – refuse to let it happen. And I am not ashamed of my heritage, my ethnicity, or the island I grew up in. I am a Mindanaon.
  7. For being born a female in the 21st century, I’ve come to realize how blessed I am to have my rights and freedom. Honored too, for I don’t share this kind of freedom with the rest of the female population in previous generations or other countries.
  8. One act of random kindness can save someone’s life or make their day.
  9. It’s all a matter of perspective to why and how things are.
  10. It’s okay to be in pain, just don’t justify it. For there are people in the world living in war, experiencing hate, and who suffer far worse than you – your pain in nothing compared to theirs.
  11. High school was the greatest four years of my life. As it broke me out of my shell.
  12. College is the better version – despite it being full of headaches and heartaches.
  13. Listen to your teachers, they’re the best people next to your parents. Value their advice, because they help inspire you make it in life.
  14. Being single is still okay. It’s no contest. It’s all about you and being the best version of yourself first.
  15. Your friends are always there for you, and they always, always know you better than you think.
  16. It’s okay to rant, let it out, let it go.
  17. Reading is a beautiful thing and is more than just a hobby – it broadens your perspective on life and flushes out whatever nonsense you chose to close your eyes to.
  18. Always dare yourself to do something outside your comfort zone, even if it makes you look like a weirdo. Be a weirdo anyway.
  19. Your parents are gold. Mom always always¸ knows best (sometimes). Dad jokes are the best (no matter how cheesy they are).
  20. You’re only the age you are once – spend it wisely. Do more, live more.
  21. Always remember the butterfly effect (no matter how scary as it is): every choice you decide to make will cause a ripple that will forever change your life. And so, live your life wisely.

Smaller and Smaller Circles by FH Batacan [sort of review]

herrr.png

You know how there are books that goes beyond your expectations? Well, it meets them, but not in the way you’d expect – hence, going beyond your expectations. Well, F.H. Batacan’s Smaller and Smaller Circles was just that.

Truth be told, I’ve always been a fan of crime novels, even though I’ve only read David Baldacci. Always loved the thrill of how crime operatives work, having been an avid viewer of CSI as a kid – plus it was no secret that I wanted to be a crime investigator as a kid.

The first few chapters were very gripping, a small introduction of dirty politics, and severe poverty in the country, lackadaisical government people and the apathy towards the poor. What’s surprising is how dirty politics exists even in the Church. Batacan’s approach is something to be lauded for, since no one in the country is brave enough to even cross the church.

Although the book took place in 1997, all the issues tackled are still relevant to this day – corruption reeks in every corner, power and wealth weighing heavily over justice, and the oppressed being more oppressed each day. It’s honestly stressful, knowing that from the author’s perspective and frustrations (I read her acknowledgement) how she wished for the light to shine on the darkest pits of society, yet fails to just cause. For her, nothing’s changed. And for me, I can say some things have changed, but maybe I’m not seeing them very clearly. I mean, it’s so easy for a wolf to play nice so long as he wears lamb skin.

The world needs more Father Saenz, the epitome of a true Jesuit priest – with his strong faith, unselfish love for others, and intellect; Father Jerome, with his strong sense of justice and stands his ground; Ben Arcinas, for all his faults, still wants to do what’s right; Director Lastimosa, believes that the truth is worth dying for and that power and greed won’t get you anywhere.

Reflecting today’s issues – especially the war on drugs and people’s take on the Commission on Human Rights, it’s frightening how little has changed. Although our current president’s stance on warding us of illegal drugs to a healthier and more progressive change is admirable, his take on human life is not. Just because one committed a crime does not mean he deserves a second chance. It’s easy to understand that every crime starts somewhere – the frustration of poor living, a trauma so great it defied the person’s take of reality – these things that people paid little mind to which could actually lead to the crimes we are facing now. What many fail to understand is that the CHR is upholding human dignity – human life. It’s so easy to say that someone deserves to die, but under the person’s circumstance, does he really? Does he deserve to die when the root cause of him to do such an act is the simple reason that he’s poor? That he’s fed up with the higher-ups trampling down the poor because they can?

Through the efforts of Senator Risa Hontiveros, the Mental Health bill is in its final reading. With this bill, mental health will be more than just understand what mental health really is, it will bring awareness of how bad mental health can be to someone you know and love, will finally shed light to things we never noticed, could stop something bad from happening and could strengthen our love and support for them.

The killer in the book didn’t have that, he had to deal with his demons all his life until it brought him to kill because he thought it spared him less of the pain every day. Meanwhile, his parents suffered because they were helpless to help him. He couldn’t open up because the trauma was too much – for him and his parents.

I’m Catholic, but nowhere as devout as my grandparents and my mother. I get irked each time the national government has had to hold a certain bill because of the intervention of the church, when there was a clean line of separation between the two. As I see it, the church may mean well, but they can only do so as to guide the government how certain bill should go and not force them to go with what they want, that’s like subtly taking advantage over them. Quite recently, a priest was pardoned for his crimes of sexually abusing children while his said accomplice was imprisoned. It’s a scary world we live in now, never knowing who’s who. Sexual assault is prevalent still regardless of age and gender. But the scary part (which is also a sad part) of it all is how one can easily lure someone in just because of their status or influence.

After reading the book, you get a good look of what our country was going through then and now. Seriously, very little has changed. It’s not advertising Jesuit priests, certainly not subtly telling you to have your children go to Ateneo, but advertising the need of these people in the world – though they are little people, they are willing to risk it all for the greater good. They know what’s worth dying for.

I will forever be thankful for the chancing upon this opportunity months ago; for it weren’t for that I wouldn’t have come across this jewel. Truly, with its hard facts/true representation of the Philippines, issues it tackles, fictional people you wish to see in real life, it deserved the honors and the film adaptation (which I am yet to watch).

Rating: 10/10

struggles and woes of writing

For argument’s sake, I had to write something down to save this account. I mean, there’s a reason why I up and decided to create accounts for several social media sites (especially if that site is focused on blogging).

So maybe I’ll just start this off with one of my favorite photos taken from my childhood:

youngme

Looking at this very photo tugs at my heart, especially because it’s one of the earliest memories I associate to my love for writing.

I can never pinpoint the exact moment in my life where I said that writing is all I can do, I just did. With the many years I face a blank piece of paper, jotting down whatever came to mind. That’s all it was.

But the more I got into it, the more I fell in love with how words can easily inspire people. How easy it is to just come up with a story enough to bring a man to tears, a woman to blush, and a child to laugh. And how much more if it came in the form of a book? Forever immortalizing stories for generations to have and to learn.

Books, I found, were the very embodiment of the writer’s achievement. Delving into these stories is a heck of a ride of the writer’s imagination, interpretation and experiences. Probably the best part of having a book is the moment you lose yourself into it – pausing a moment to revel in the character’s struggles, sighing in frustration at the turn of events, or just want to burst because of how good it left you.

But being a writer is not just about making people feel good; it’s the power and burden of delivering the truth. As they all say, “the pen is mightier than the sword”.

Like I said earlier, writers have the ability to inspire. So doesn’t the truth inspire people?

It takes a great deal to write the truth – hard-hitting, cold hard facts that make or break, but the truth nonetheless. Nobody likes to hear it, but how else is it going to change people?

They say that writers have the easiest job in the world, to simply write stuff. But what they don’t realize is the struggles that writers have to go through. We take hours to actually come up with an amazing piece, contemplate over the words, and worry nonstop whether what we wrote was actually worth reading or full of shit. Many writers (such as myself) are an envious bunch, very insecure of the greater ones, and – although open – sensitive to criticism.

I will admit that I don’t think I’m a great writer, despite what my family and friends tell me. I still have a long way to go to prove myself.

But seeing little me write my heart out (despite it being nonsense), it makes me happy knowing that I wanted to be a part of the greater cause of literary warriors in this age, that I still believed in the power of words. And though I beat myself down over the fact that I’m  not really writing (though I write fanfiction and blog when I can) and I let my pessimism get the best to me, I’d like to believe that there is hope for me. I just have to look at this photo and remember what it is that I love to do and how I’m going to get there.

 

  1. Noodles

He sneezed, head hitting the wall behind him. Outside, the rain poured heavily. He glared, as if he could change the weather.

Oh how he hated the rain, how he hated getting caught under the rain. He sneezed again, feeling as though his brain was coming out.

Tightening the blanket around him, he glared at the television where it was a commercial of children playing under the rain. It was as though they were mocking him, a grown man who got caught under the rain and ended up sick.

Damn it all.

Just then, something hot was placed in front of him – a bowl of hot noodles. He looked up, finding his sister, who smiled warmly at him. And then she left when at the sound of her children calling her name.

Turning back to the noodles, he eyed its yellow colored soup; with white substance he was sure is egg. Just the way they used to eat it. Leaning forward, he inhaled, mouthwatering at the aroma. He swore his sinuses cleared.

Although it was instant noodles, just the gesture brought a smile to his face. His sister was always looking out for him.

Taking the bowl in his hands, he slowly ate, body warming up in an instant.

Suddenly, there were cries of joy and a force crashing over him. Thankfully, he had finished his noodles. His niece and nephew swarmed over him, ignoring the fact that he was wet.

Laughing, he tackled the children, noting his sister’s happy gaze.

Okay, so he’ll take it back – rainy season wasn’t all that bad.

  1. Dear Anna

‘Dear Anna,

I’ve always wondered why you let your hair down like that, how you’d leave one half tied up, and the other down past your skinny shoulders. To me, I find that uncomfortable (well, I’m a guy). I’ve always wondered why you’d buy a tub of vanilla ice cream, just so you can top it with brownies, cake or granola. Yes, ala mode is delicious, but you’ve got cravings worse than a pregnant woman. I’ve always wondered why you have a strange fascination for anime. I will never understand how you can watch large-eyed characters with unimaginable hair move and about (although, I’ll give it to you, they do have better plot). I’ve always wondered what goes through your head every time somebody’d say something about your beliefs, how you always stood up for what you believe in regardless of what people say. I’ve always liked that about you. I’ve always wondered how life would’ve been if I hadn’t been a jerk to you.

I know it may come as a shock to you, but I’ve always liked you. But I was a boy – a stupid, little, immature boy. And you know the thing about us little boys, we hide our emotions by picking on someone.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, sorry. I’m sorry for hurting you, of all those years picking on you. I’m sorry for making fun of your little quirks; actually, I find them really cute. I’m also sorry I pushed you in the mud in front of your crush, my big brother, Jason. I was really jealous of the fact that you liked him, even though he’s years older than us (and he turned out to be gay). I’m sorry I called you a ‘harbinger of bad luck’ after your grandmother died, that was really insensitive of me. And most of all, I’m so sorry to know that your diagnosed with anemia.

Did you know that when I heard of your condition I ditched work for a whole day, got drunk, and got into a fight? Yeah, that happened. Ask my brother. And the reason? You. It’s been years since, we last saw each other. With every tick of the clock reminds me of the many times I’ve made you cry, ruining that sweet face of yours, of the sweet little girl I ruined. Ever since, I’ve been thinking about you, of how you’ve been, if you’re still the same Anna, if you’ve reached your dreams, if you’re happy, also, as much as it pains me, if you’ve met a special someone.

By the way, I heard you were top of your class, and that your short story got a Palanca award and is currently being turned into an indie-film by your favorite director. Congratulations! I always knew you could do it. Actually, me and your favorite director are distant relatives, but we’re close. I was the one who recommended you when I heard you won. Somehow, I thought of it as a way of compensating for all my sins.

But no, it wasn’t enough. And so is this letter I’m writing. You may have noticed that it’s (badly) handwritten. Well, you’re a writer, so I thought handwritten letters would make you swoon, even despite the chemo.

Anna, please fight it. You have to live. Because having written everything I’ve been keeping for 15 years? That’s hard, and just fucking cowardly of me. I’d rather be saying all these to your face, regardless of the fact that I’d probably stutter and have a hard time looking at you in the eye. Maybe it’s because I want to get rid of the guilt, but having written this and you read it, means more than that.

The nights have been terrible since I knew, I’ve been praying like crazy, begging Him not to take you away. You can’t go yet. Not now, not ever. Because I have something to say to you, but only if you live.

So please, fight. Keep fighting Anna, so that I’ll be able to buy you a truckload of vanilla ice cream for you, I’ll watch anime with you, we’ll talk over coffee over life, and so that I’ll say the one thing I’ve always wanted to tell you. Please fight, because I can’t bear the thought of you gone.

Joseph’


A few weeks later, Marianna ‘Anna’ Rosales died in her sleep.

But hours before her death, a man came to her room and stayed for almost 3 hours. He left in tears, happy tears. And when Anna died, she was smiling, clutching the letter to her heart.

July Prompt

  1. Red plaid shirt

“Are you mad at me?” she asked as he whisked them away.

Unable to answer, he only walked faster, until they reached the cabin. Letting go of her hand, he mentally counted to ten – to calm himself, readying the speech he was about to give her – before turning to her, only to realize how his words died in his throat.

She looked at him curiously, tilting her head to the side.

Damn it.

Without a word, he took off his red plaid shirt and wrapped it around her. Although taken by surprise, she said nothing and let him be.

And then he left, rather abruptly.

He must be hungry, she thought, fiddling with the hem of her borrowed shirt.

Turning to the mirror, she found how his red plaid shirt seemed too big for her petite frame, falling just by her knees.

Fingering through the material, she found was rather soft. Putting the sleeves through her cheeks, she relished in the softness of his shirt. There was a hint of laundry soap and him, making her giggle even more.

Unbeknownst to her, a figure watched her.

She looked so small in his shirt, he thought. She looked his. And he liked it.

(Characters may or may not be from my HP fanfic ‘fortunate happenstance‘)

The story of how I started writing

Written on June 28, 2016

To start off this blog, which I’ve started because tumblr was becoming too mainstream (and I needed a venue and place to start), I’m going to tell you all (you, who even dared to venture into this site) the story of how I started writing (and it’s not a pretty tale, I tell you) and the people, who inspired me to write, or pushed me to write.

So it started with bingo.

My grandmother was crazy about bingo, always playing every Saturday, putting all her money just to win. When I asked her why she wanted to win so bad, she replied that ‘I’ll go look for your grandfather outside’. By that, she meant my deceased grandfather. I’m not sure if those were her exact words, but if it was, it’s quite sad. Maybe she didn’t want us to pity her. she was a strong woman like that, always putting her brave front, wearing her smile, but always had her guards up.

One day, I was in her room going through her things when I saw her leftover bingo ballots. I played around with them, fascinating myself with the odd object and numbers on it. And then, I was given a pen. Mommy Dako told me to write. I was four; I had no idea what she was talking about. But I went to her fancy glass table set and scribbled away, unaware of someone snapping a shot of it.

youngme.png

And that’s how I discovered writing.

Well, I didn’t really write then on. Nor did I ever think that writing would impact me, but it’s a memory I’ve held on since forever. It was my earliest memory, and one of my favorites. And let’s just leave it at that. The rest of the story falls on weabo/anime crazy/angst/emo days in my pre-adolescent years.

People who inspired me to write about just about anything or blog about life, regardless if it’s relevant or not:

Stephen Pedroza

I’ve met Stephen when I volunteered on summer 2014 for VEST, or Valuing Ecosystem System Together. I don’t know much about him, just that he’s my senior, a DevComm graduate, he works for Rappler and is with VEST. We didn’t really talk much that summer, just sort of bonded whenever we were in the same room. At the time, I was known for two things – Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (I had just finished the book, but I just couldn’t get over it) and my cousin, Frankie. I’d gush, squeal and practically spazz right then and there whenever they brought it up. It was kind of funny really. A few months later, I was tasked to hand him an article about our visit. And then, we just became friends. The one thing I admire about Steph is that he’s a writer, and when he speaks, it feels like he’s taking me with him to the 1950’s. At times, it feels like you’re talking to a philosopher or a warlock. (He likes vintage literature) The fact that we’re friends remains but a mystery to me, but he’s a friend I’d rely on about writing.

So one day, he was so intrigued about why I liked Red Queen so much that he then asked me to lend him my book. I did. But it took him forever to give it back. I pardoned him for the fact that he’s busy, but I kept joking him to read it and return it to me. Over on Facebook, he then said that to compensate for due return, he’d treat me to coffee at Starbucks, and we’d catch up. February (I think), it happened. It’s funny because, I just happened to see him and remind him of my book and his promise, then he sort of kidnapped me to keep his promise. Over coffee, we talked about a lot of things, writing most especially. I consoled him on my worries that I’ll never be a good writer. His advice? Keep reading, read books outside your usual genre. His advice stuck, and I found myself purchasing some classics – Pride and Prejudice and the Picture of Dorian Gray, the former, I fell in love with, while the latter, I’m yet to finish. Stephen’s advice gave me a newfound appreciation for Jane Austen, and to rediscover literature classics.

Last summer, Stephen became my supervisor when I interned at Rappler. I will admit, I was pressured by that fact. Forever the pessimist that I am, I was worried that my articles would be horrible and that I’d disappoint him time and time again. But the man has his ways of reassuring me with his cryptic tone, sarcasm, and words of wisdom, and of course, praises each solo-article of mine gets published.

Jericho Montellano

At first glance, you’d think of the guy as a hipster from the way he’s well-dressed, the glasses, his voice, the cup of coffee he’s sure to carry during class, and not to mention his online life. To me, he’s my number one customer when it comes to snacks. To our batch, he’s known as ‘mayor’ (why, I’ll never know) and one of the highly elite students (at least for me). Also, he’s known to be quite the blogger and a big one too! Being that business establishments have approached him to promote them on his blog (and wow to the freebies). And it was by that fame of his that inspired me to blog/venture into the digital world to imprint my existence. Though, I’ll never be as famous as him, the fact that he blogs about life gets me.

Funny, because the same time it happened, we had this Filipino class where the course was about writing a blog. And well, I don’t really know how it happened, but it just did. One day, I just happened on his blog and read. Days later, I found myself itching to write. And soon, I found myself blogging, writing about little things that happened in my life.

Jonaxx/Jonah Pacala

A wattpad writer I just happened upon years ago, and before I knew it, I was an avid fan. The best part? She’s a fellow Kagay-anon.

Back then, I was just looking out on what the app had offered, happened upon stories, until I happened on her one story ‘Mapapansin Kaya’. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really fond of the Filipino literature, lest one online. But here came wattpad.

What I love about her stories are the personalities you get to meet, the perspective of the character (even though majority of her characters are from wealthy families), and her ability to make her readers think outside the romance zone.

On my 18th birthday, my two friends surprised me with a video greet from her. A few months later, I got to meet her in person. She was so pretty. I felt so small next to her. She’s got a great fan base, one, I haven’t been active in a while because of academics and priorities.

Jonaxx tries on certain themes, uses her character to toy with the theme that’ll leave readers thinking about how they would react if they were on her shoes, and in the end, prove that loves conquers all. Honestly, I’m not a romantic. Ironically, I read them. Although I’ve noticed a certain pattern with her writing, and that the leading men will always have the same possessiveness over the heroine, the fact that she still continues to write amazes me.

PenguinBuddy

Funny thing? I just happened on her – like Jonaxx, on fanfiction.net. I was looking for a good read when I happened upon hers. She wrote this amazing Harry Potter-fanfiction. The result of reading it? It opened my imagination and inspired me to write my own, to relive my childhood. Mine will never be as great as hers, though.

I don’t really know her name, just that she’s an archivist and is quite busy (as of writing this) with graduate school. To write fanfiction during her spare time amazes me, also the fact that she’s still writing fanfiction in her twenties. There’s no shame in that, she says. Somedays, I turn to her, asking random things – about her story, her characters, writing advice and graduate school. I love her answers, mostly because they’ve been really helpful on my part and encouraged me to do more. And she left me with this quote when I told her of how much she inspired me to write.

“Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” 

– Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

To those reading this (and I still don’t know how you managed to read all through that or even thought of wasting precious seconds of your life), thank you. It means a lot. And to you, who I’ve mentioned here, you have my deepest gratitude.

From here on out, I won’t promise much. But I can only guarantee the truth and nothing but the truth spoken through my point of view (read: biased) and motor mouth (that has quite a colorful vocabulary).