Shameless plugging

I don’t usually plug events or anything related to my work, but considering my reading list, the few I have connections via this blog, and the larger connections they have, I’ll be needing the speed of online dissemination for this promotion.

Lonely Planet Magazine PH will be introducing a new section to its upcoming issue: The Photo Story. It will feature a collection of photographs that are not only print-worthy but also storytelling, arranged around a narrative about a inspiring destination, preferably in the Philippines.

To get a chance to be part of this exciting new section, the following should be submitted:

• Five to six photos that tell a story about the destination assigned. All photos should be unified under one theme so that the story is clear to the reader. Photos can range from landscape, portraiture, food – anything that relates to travel.
• One paragraph that talks about the theme or the story being told in the photo essay. This paragraph will serve as the introduction.
• Each photo should have an accompanying caption that tells specifics about the subject and how it relates to the entire essay.

Feel free to send your entries over at



And because I have a natural bias, I am looking at MARTIN, JUSTIN, and AIA, travelers I know who have an eye for stories and details 😉

That is all 🙂


Floating down the river

“So this is the feeling when you love what you’re studying.” – tweeted over @gelalicious, 21 hours ago

Fear is the mind killer, a quote from Frank Herberts’ Dune reads. For the longest time, fear was my teenage years’ main enemy: upon choosing a degree, I opted against my gut, listened to my dad’s insistence on practicality, caved into my self-inflicted insecurity as my sister was the star student, and followed her path with a science degree. I was into films (apparently, supposedly, but not totally) back then, coupled with daily diary passages since childhood. And although the professional writer in me says journal writing isn’t a formal or well-versed form, it was a clue into what my heart really wanted, along with my preference for stories, even when they were delivered artistically on-screen.

A part of me does love science; I do appreciate its razor cut precision. There’s no room for bullshit when it comes to a solution that takes me 30 minutes to an hour to finish (with intervention from my mother in between); there are points for “showing for your solution,” but that doesn’t even make it to the dean’s list. There is always one specific right answer; logic and no form of bola can let you win. I wish life’s successes were more determined with the specificity of science.

But it isn’t my first love–it has, will, and always will insist on being stories, whether truth or fiction. I did not play with mini-lab sets; I killed time making my Barbies act in prolonged episodes of a drama, which ended with Ken coming out. My favorite Christmas morning was when I woke up to a box of Roald Dahl novels. In college, I returned to words with the school paper, and in effect, in not only acted as a form of escape but also determined what I would do for the rest of my life.

In the last two months, I have officially returned to the study of language–of writing in particular–after two years of self-learning as a paid writer. You know how some success stories say what they learn from experience is worlds apart from their college education? It’s the opposite effect for my case. In the last two years of having by-lines or none despite the text posted, I never really had an actual mentor and a form of discipline to guide me through the writing notions. There have been three who have made comments and taught me things I’ve engraved in my mind for life, but it’s different when you’re constantly being fed and guided. I had to scramble, “make kapa” (excuse my conyo), and make sense out of bad writing according to what I knew and what I needed to know; I was an editor that knew and did adequate writing, but didn’t quite know what quality writing was actually based on, save for a few references. I read good writing and hoped to one day be just as impressive, yet there was no full consciousness of what my words and ideas’ authenticity were based on. In effect, I made a few mistakes I could have avoided along the way.

The academe has set my path straight, making me more conscious of how bad and how much more I have to work on. I never said I was a good writer in the first place, but in order to be legit about what I call myself, there are several mindsets, frameworks, theories, etc. to keep in mind as I practice. Studying has concretized what I practice and know, and is constantly feeding that long overdue knowledge. This much needed consciousness is refreshing and has fueled me to catch up on school work in spite of the exhaustion after a commute, a long day at the office, and that long journey from school to home.

Having interviewed several personalities who have found and established their passion, I once wondered how to acquire some of that on my own. I was partially envious, but mostly inspired to one day be brimming with the same fervent desire to keep on going and babbling about what I do. Then I applied for grad school, and now slowly but surely, that passion is building up. That passion flows me down a river headed to a daring leap to the waterfall; and as scary and daunting that jump sounds, it will eventually lead to a cool pool of calm. I’m still flowing on the stream, but I’m comforted by the steady feeling of direction. Back then, even in college, I was stranded in the middle of an ocean, wondering which island would show up to provide shelter. But the destiny of each land still carried uncertainty, as I did not know or even want what lay beyond a job at a laboratory, teaching high school chemistry, an online writing position, or having to hurdle through passing a board exam whose prestige I didn’t want need in the future.

I’ll probably have doubts about this journey I’m on in the future. A storm will come, flooding the river, setting me off my course. But a sense of purpose will hold on, because the stream can only go one way. And I hope to carry on no matter what comes.

Because I’m not getting any younger

I may be five years away from the big three-oh, but a series of events over the weekend–a wedding, drinking with someone born in 1996, an ex-whatever now officially practicing his profession 6 years after, getting sick after 2 nights of puyat (because apparently, my body can’t take it)–made me realize I have to embrace what is to come. Nothing wrong with wanting to be wiser and hopefully, looking forward to a stable future.

That said, I ran into an interesting 30 things before 30 list. Let’s see what’s left to do, so far:

By 30, you should have

1. One old boyfriend you can imagine going back to and one who reminds you of how far you’ve come.

2. A decent piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in your family.

3. Something perfect to wear if the employer or man of your dreams wants to see you in an hour.

4. A purse, a suitcase, and an umbrella you’re not ashamed to be seen carrying.

5. A youth you’re content to move beyond.

6. A past juicy enough that you’re looking forward to retelling it in your old age.

7. The realization that you are actually going to have an old age — and some money set aside to help fund it.

8. An email address, a voice mailbox, and a bank account — all of which nobody has access to but you.

9. A résumé that is not even the slightest bit padded.

10. One friend who always makes you laugh and one who lets you cry. I’ve got more than one, thankfully 😉

11. A set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra.

12. Something ridiculously expensive that you bought for yourself, just because you deserve it.

13. The belief that you deserve it.

14. A skin-care regimen, an exercise routine, and a plan for dealing with those few other facets of life that don’t get better after 30.

15. A solid start on a satisfying career, a satisfying relationship, and all those other facets of life that do get better.

I’ve got a long way to go, but it doesn’t feel like my early 20s, when these seemed almost impossible 😉