A letter to my rents

Dear Dad and Mom,

Thank you for not spoiling me silly. As much as I want to pull money out of my ass and buy all kinds of outfits, plane tickets, and maybe a condominium, I do appreciate that we’re living a moderate life. Despite always lusting over money and wanting to win the lottery, I do know how to work hard to actually earn money, save it for a rainy day, and be creative in getting what I need/want. I have met people who complain at the slightest bit of hard work or simply do nothing when even a small job is handed to them. You’ve taught me that being that useless and brainless is more embarrassing than not making a lot of money. It’s like how, in the end, I do have more respect for the manong selling candies in the bus than a socialite wasting her trust fund money on drugs and parties. The former works hard, is resourceful despite his limitations, while the latter squanders the opportunities given to them.

But it is frustrating to always see the latter in the spotlight, basking in opportunity and the glamor that comes with their power and connections. I do hope one day I grow wise and content like you are now, and such a frustration won’t matter.

Much love,
Gela

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Last Saturday Night

Fifty years of a student publication that dared Lasallians to think critically.

Fifty years of all kinds of writers, photographers, and artists. All of which creatively collaborated mediums that spanned print, magazine, and now, the web.

Five plus friends, who formed amazing friendships in the last five years.

Can’t wait for the next five years and sharing more moments beyond the age of 50.

🙂

Inspiring words

“Quit your complaining. It’s not the world’s fault that you wanted to be an artist. It’s not the world’s job to enjoy the films you make, and it’s certainly not the world’s obligation to pay for your dreams. Nobody wants to hear it. Steal a camera if you have to, but stop whining and get back to work.” I repeat those words back to myself whenever I start to feel resentful, entitled, competitive or unappreciated with regard to my writing: “It’s not the world’s fault that you want to be an artist…now get back to work.”  Always, at the end of the day, the important thing is only and always that: Get back to work. This is a path for the courageous and the faithful. You must find another reason to work, other than the desire for success or recognition. It must come from another place.

– From Elizabeth Gilbert’s Thoughts on Writing

Stuck in traffic for over three hours last night, I suddenly felt a ‘metaphorical’ parallel to my life as a writer, always stuck, never moving forward, always letting others overtake (read: limiting myself as an editor), and ever feeling exasperated at the lack of inertia.

But I can choose to get out of the traffic, take an alternate route, or heck, even walk my way through the journey. It’s not going to happen in an instant, and the rewards, will only be realized when I get there. But that is my problem. I am always about the destination, too willing to suffer and sacrifice through the journey for an abstract concept of the end. Yet the journey is just as important, maybe even more. It is not a scalar quantity, but the vector kind, where the direction has as much relevance as the magnitude.

Thank you crazy Metro Manila traffic and Ms. Gilbert for bringing me back to where I should have started.

Jaded

I’m not a big fan of my parish. I don’t think I ever will be.

But I go to mass to get a sense of calm, some sort of perspective on the week that past, the things that are happening, and what I hope for the rest of my life.

Lately, however, it’s been making my blood boil. Apart from the sometimes forced Sunday habit (making it feel more like a job than something I really wanna do), my parish calls the attendees to recite a prayer against the “anti-life” forces of today.

I may not be an editor in chief of a magazine, but I spend my weekdays rephrasing, creating, editing, and making words concise and consumable for a decent read. And that prayer, that GOD FORSAKEN prayer, is full of hypheluting, flower-y, and over dramatic words.  Words so exaggerated that they forget the essence of the matter it’s actually praying for.

I haven’t kneeled or said the words out loud. I sit, stay silent, and shake my head at the people surrounding me.

Two things distress me about this prayer:

1. The expectation that one should kneel automatically, without reading the prayer first and deciding for themselves if that is what they want for this country.
2. The use of exaggerated phrases, such as ‘destruction of the country’s moral fiber’ simply because the government wants to give parents and women proper health care and a right to having a choice in planning their families.

It’s really not religion, per se, that I have a problem with, it’s the people running it. I’ve never grown into a religious person, and I don’t think I’m near to becoming one. It’s not that I don’t believe in God, I’m just tired of dealing with forces imposing their beliefs on me. Even if it’s the church I was baptized under.

For a belated happy teacher’s day

I was raised by a teacher. She’s not a popular enrollee choice in my university due to her challenging requirements, and I’ve never quite understood what exactly she taught–both in the business and engineering departments. (Well, maybe I do understand differential equations, but I did have to repeat the class. Haha!) She teaches us another way at home, without a blackboard or set hours. Back in grade school, she would help me understand math or make me final exam reviewers (printed and everything! awesome, huh?). In high school, there was more advanced math to pour over, prom dresses to be picked, curfews to be followed and college decisions to be made. In college, she still tutored me through math and the rest of my life–friend problems, career choices, boy situations, what to wear, where to buy clothes, and all that necessary life stuff they don’t teach in the classroom. That’s probably why teachers are up there for me, along with doctors and volunteer workers. Because no matter how difficult the student can be (i.e. me), they will sit through everything for you until you get it. And once you’re ready, they will still be there to guide you in case you kind of doubt yourself.

Thank you mom. You’ve taught me many lessons. I know how to pick a great bag and shoes, bargain with tiangge vendors (and can probably do so in Bangkok in the future), and how to bake a delicious apple pie. But the best one I got from you is this. I’ll borrow some words from your fellow teacher, Taylor Mali:

I make them understand that if you got this (brains) then you follow this (heart) and if someone ever tries to judge you by what you make, you give them this (the finger).

You obviously didn’t phrase the last bit the way he did, but you told me to pursue my happiness and not money. And yes, I am happy and not rich, but happy nonetheless. I shall continue to strive to be as happy as you are and how happy you’ve made your family. 🙂

Why I write and do what I do

I would have saved this post for my TV blog over at WordPress, but having decided that blog is less personal, I shall instead write it for this one.

Back in high school, I had such a fascination with CSI. A combined influence of my parents preferring I take a technical course and pleasing ‘practicality’ semi-forced me to place BS chemistry as my first course choice. It was a sudden and immature decision, primarily springing from the prospect of being ‘technically’ smart yet financially stable. I actually wanted to be in film (REALLY? I can’t believe it myself, now either!) and initially wanted to take communication arts. Four terms later, I realized that basing your career decision on a TV show and not from your first intuition is never a wise thing to do. Years later, I would also discover that my intuition is rarely wrong, and following it reaped wonderful rewards. I rediscovered my voice in writing, while still able to satisfy a scientist’s favorite question: ‘why?’ with my position as features writer then editor at the school paper. Then I decided to be a journalist, begging not only to have an internationally-published byline, but also the chance to tell remarkable stories.

Career confusion resurfaced once again several terms before graduation. I had failed the class which reviewed us for the boards, further emphasizing how the science path just wasn’t meant for me. I was very close to shifting, even consulting the Literature department chair himself. But with only two terms till graduation, he said my course was worth finishing and that a rich literary background doesn’t necessarily make a great writer. It’s their experience. You have to have something to write about.

So two terms later, I retook that boards review class and two others, passed them with okay marks and finally walked my delayed march. Outside influences insisted on the boards, telling me it was a fallback. But I didn’t want a fallback. I only wanted to do one thing, and that was to write the cover of a major magazine. And of course, take the painful but strangely satisfying steps to get there.

I chose not to take the boards. I chose to let go of a degree that would reap financial stability and the steps towards clean and renewable energy. It wasn’t for me. I wanted artistic yet analytical discovery. I didn’t want to be limited to laboratory. Maybe I should have been a marine biologist, but my dexterity says otherwise. Anyway, I didn’t want a forced affair. It hasn’t been easy. I don’t have the recognition doctors, lawyers, and engineers get from their licenses. A friend even mistook the magazine I work for for its local and more established competitor (we are still the international title. HAHA). But I’m happy and certain of who I and what I want to become.

Carlos Celdran explains my choice best with these wise words:


But if you’re going to do what you want to do, you have to be prepared for the difficulty because you’re going to be doing something that people aren’t gonna be expecting you to do. You’re going to be hitting challenges; you’re going to be hitting resistance, even within yourself. So unless you’re prepared to destroy yourself and come up from the ashes again, then go live somebody else’s life. 

I’m always up for a challenge, but the difficulty must still be within my reach and passions. So here’s to forging ahead, rising above all those challenges, and coming out a better person. 

Backyard visit

Due to last minute cancellations, my sister, her friends and I ended up spending the night eating Zong food (YUM) and just hanging out instead of our usual D&D gaming. The rain was pouring, as usual, and the moisture brought in a little (or big, due to smaller expectations) visitor. We named him Gary, after Spongebob’s pet snail 😛

Quite disgusting but fascinating at the same time, huh? Amazing how much we know about the world through books and the internet, yet we are so enthusiastic when we see it for ourselves. Like this snail. It’s size, that elaborate shell–just one of those little (literally and figuratively) but rare sightings worth capturing.