An Open Letter to My Parents

(Inspired by a talk with my mom earlier and my growing sadness over the fact that I’ll probably never get a real job. Read: pessimistic girl on the loose)

Look, I know I don’t have a real job just yet – having settled to go freelancing for the time being, but I’m sorry for being a disappointment.

I hate being at home, all. The. Time. It’s making me anxious, paranoid, and insecure. My friends have jobs already, are on seminars, and in law school. Meanwhile, there’s me, who could barely leave the house without worrying about my little sister at home.

I know you guys expected much from me, being the responsible child who had to bear the weight of responsibilities you can’t shoulder alone, having to act like the second parent to my siblings, and for being your caretaker when either of you gets hospitalized – I knew you guys expected much from me. You guys knew just how stubborn I am, for always pursuing what I want regardless of the risks. You guys know how persistent I am, always picking fights on purpose just to make people tick, even if it causes too many white hairs. And you guys know just how ambitious I am, saying things like ‘when I graduate, see you around’ or ‘leave the expenses to me’. But you guys also know that I’m still a kid, I’m still vulnerable, fragile to the real world regardless if I already have a realistic mind set.

Which is why I’m saying I’m sorry for failing your expectations, for never going the distance. I can’t just yet. The timing just won’t agree with me, fate still has plans for me I guess. And honestly? I’m scared to brave at least a baby step to adulthood. That’s how I am, I’m always scared of the first few steps, knowing that it’s me, and that every little thing I do will have an effect (read: I’m an overthinker, the butterfly effect’s always in my head).

But know this: I was serious when I said that I want you guys to stop thinking about me, I want you to think for yourselves. I was serious when I said that when the time comes, it’ll be my turn to take care of you guys. I was serious when I said it’ll be my turn to look after my siblings. I was serious about my promises, and I’m fighting just to make them come true.

For now, just trust me. What I’m doing is temporary. I’ll get a real job soon enough. But even before that happens, know that I’m still your responsible child ready to take on the world one day at a time, and some chores.

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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.

My two cents [of just about anything that is anything]

Okay, so I’m really not one to open my mouth to issues (big or small), but I can’t help it. Despite my training to be an apathetic woman – to be numb to everything that is anything in our society, to let them be for whatever helps them sleep at night – the urge to say something is strong in me. And so, here it goes:

  1. Ironic that when foreigners makes a joke about us Filipinos (about anything really), we all take a stand – Kababayan, eh. But find ourselves divided when we do it to our fellow Filipinos. Hey, it’s a joke, right? Can’t take a joke?
  2. Why must Imperial Manila question everything outside of themselves? Are they the only one who deserves the attention? Tangina, everything’s freaking there in that cramped region of yours! And still, you want more? Is it not enough? There are scenes in Visayas and Mindanao that matter more than your traffic situation! But our problems are nothing compared to yours, right?
  3. Yes, we probinsyanos are smart. Yes, we have civilization here – malls, museums, WI-FI, and a good sense of humor. Oh, and we’re Filipinos as well. And no, not all of us have farms. No, our Muslim brothers and sisters are not war freaks. No, we don’t sell our carabaos just to travel or get ourselves into the finest universities. Instead, we use our god given intellect fueled by the combined blood, sweat, and tears of our parents.
  4. What’s wrong with Bisaya people getting recognition? Are they inferior to change? Just because our President is bisaya, and the obvious reason that you all don’t like him, doesn’t mean you should involve us! And mind you, some of the greats and your favorite people hail from Visayas and Mindanao.
  5. Many have said it, but I’ll say it again: THE REASON WHY OUR COUNTRY ISN’T PROGRESSING IS BECAUSE CLOSE-MINDED PEOPLE LIKE YOU EXIST. Our heroes didn’t die for selfish people like you, to look down on your fellow Filipinos just because you live on different islands and live different lives. Unless, of course, you care about being a Filipino at all.
  6. Ironic that foreigners care more for what’s happening in Visayas and Mindanao compared to our fellowmen. Only then will we care when what’s happening goes viral or hits the international scene. Do yourselves a favor and reassess yourselves as Filipinos.

 

This may or may not be a thing. I didn’t want to, but I did. Someone’s gotta say something. And though I wanted to say more, everything I’ve said here is more than enough and should speak volumes.

As much as it’s fun being a spectator to people running their dumb beliefs and ideals, – poisoning the minds of innocent audiences, on social media, I don’t want that.

Dear Filipinos, remember what Benigno Aquino said, “The Filipinos are worth dying for” and he meant every. Single. Filipino. Also, Dr. Jose Rizal said a lot of things about us, Filipinos, even when he was but a young child.  He believed that there was hope for us – all of us, so long as we stand as one.

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.

 

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).