There were no books in reach as I was growing up. I did not come from a family of readers. However, this reality did not hinder my complex journey with reading. Through the years, I was able to finally identify the various activities and content that bring me comfort.
Stories, Cartoons, and Films
As a toddler, I was first exposed to various television shows. It was in the mid-90s and we did not have cable then. So, I learned to enjoy different Tagalized cartoons, from Princess Sarah, Cedie: Ang Munting Prinsipe, Heidi, Daddy Long Legs, and even Doraemon. Those were only a fraction of the extensive list of TV shows I spent a lot of my mornings with. My parents were both working then and they were not familiar yet with the immense task required for parenthood. After all, I was their first child. To their surprise, I was a quiet and obedient child who would stay still once the TV was turned on. Yes, as I heard stories from my parents, they were happy that I was a child who would not cry when they were gone but instead follow the instructions they gave me. “Papa will go out for a while and pick up Mama. Oh, you watch this first.” Then lo and behold, when they got back home, I was still focused on the TV show I was watching.
Dati-rati sa loob lamang ng ilang oraas ay nakasusulat na ako ng isang buong akda, mapa tula, maikling kuwento o kahit pa nga dula. Iyon ba ay dahil sa malawak at malaya kong kaisipan noong ako’y mas bata pa? O dahil sa pangangailangang dala ng mga markang kaakibat ng mga akda?
Sa paglipas ng panahon, lalo lamang dumadalang ang aking pagbisita sa makulay na mundo ng mga iba’t ibang sanaysay. Tila naging walang kamatayang litanya ko na ang mga katagang “Pagod ako,” “Mas kailangan ko magtrabaho,” o “May bukas pa naman para sa pagsusulat.” Ang malungkot pa sa lahat ay minsan nakikinig ako sa bulong na mula sa aking konsensya na nagsasabing, Wala kang karapatang magsulat dahil wala rin namang makabuluhan o malalim na mensahe ang mga salitang gusto mong ibahagi. At dahil sa mga ganitong sunud-sunod na pagkakataon ay mas naging madalang na rin ang aking pagbuklat ng mga aklat na maaari sanang magdala muli sa akin pabalik sa nakalipas na mga taon.
Hirap akong umupo at makipagtalastasan sa akdang binabasa dahil tila hinila na ako ng bigat ng araw-araw na pagkayod sa trabahong nagbibigay sa akin ng kakayahang mamuhay na busog ang tiyan at may bubong sa aking bunbunan. Ang mga salita ko tuloy ngayon ay lipas na rin sa panahon. Ang pusong dati’y matapang na nakikipagbuno sa mga tauhan at eksenang dala ng aking imahinasyon at mga pangarap, ay ngayo’y napupuno ng mga alalahanin ng realidad na dala ng pagtanda. Mas nakatatakot pa sa pinakamadilim na yugto ng isang kuwentong kababalaghan ang naging bunga ng aking pagtalikod sa ideyang itinago ko na lamang sa kaibuturan ng aking kaisipan. Ngayon ang bolpen ko’y natuyo na sa kakulangan ng kaalaman upang mas makapagbahagi ng mga karanasang kakatok sa isipan at puso ng mga mambabasa. Nawalan na rin ang bolpen ko ng kakayahang magsimula ng ilang katagang magpapahiwatag ng anyayang pakikihalubilo sana sa mga pangarap ng aking mambabasa. Ngayon, tila tanging ang araw-araw na pagdilat sa umaga at pagharap sa blankong pahina ang namamayani sa ilan pang taong daraan. Ngunit ngayon ay bibigyan ko muna ng isang saglit na paggunito sa sulat na ito ang aking kabataang nais magpaalam. Kahit pa nangingilid ang luha, paumanhin muna at magkakalat ako ng ilan sa aking mga akdang naluma na sa loob ng aking mga kuwaderno. Sa loob ng mga susunod na linggo, bibigyan ko sila ng buhay sa loob ng mundo ng internet para sana, kahit isa, ay may makabasa sa kanila.
Time flies fast these days that there are moments when I feel like I am being left behind. Not in terms of all the monetary advancements in life, however, it seems that somehow I am being dragged by time as I simply live each day as a routine. This kind of thinking is not helpful in keeping me motivated in those events when I need it the most. However, I still try to pick myself up and do better, somehow.
At this age, I realized that I have let in to many distractions in my life that it is so easy to lose track of my actual goals and dreams. My days fill with screaming thoughts of worry, uncertainty, and self-doubt. Those ideas have occupied a big chunk inside of my mind and are gradually moving towards my heart. It is difficult to describe how each of those slither through the cracks of my being. It took me a long while before I am able to make progress in finally facing those dark, lingering thoughts.
Now, there may not be concrete items to check on my list, yet each new step I make that is different from yesterday seems to bring a spark of joy in my heart. With this kind of mindset, I do not feel the pressure and the worries that I once had. My days feel more secure. I think that this is because out of all the plans I could have made and those tasks that I have procrastinated on, there is one on my to-do list that I have gradually picked up on and have kept constant in my routine. This new habit is my daily devotionals. There is a sense of peace that I find in my quiet time with the Lord. There are a number of realizations that struck me through this new process that I am trying to place in my system. For instance, this particular statement made me pick myself up again after feeling so down for a couple of days:
Some difficulties are clearly of our own making. For these we need to assume personal responsibility by working towards their resolution.
Charles Ringma, 1995 (Dare to Journey with Henry Nouwen, Reflection 65 Mobilising our Pain)
It is a new year, I may still be having some difficulties in picking my messed up routine caused by my bad procrastinating habit. Nonetheless, it is the right time to refocus my living energy into something that may help me later and, perhaps, keep my brain working. Among all the possible tasks that I could think of, I am gravitating towards learning a new language. I know that now, I am not in the best position to transition to another foreign language as my native tongue is somehow also pushed back to the sideline. I have not been able to use Filipino consistently in both oral and written forms. However, I think, even with this kind of situation, I could still get back to using my vernacular once I pick up on it later on. Now, I would like to further work my brain cells up by exposing myself to Japanese.
The heading for this was just from Google translate. 😀 However, it is true that I started learning Japanese. But why this, exactly? Others might be thinking that a European language would be a lot easier, specifically Spanish. Why do I think so? There are already many Spanish terms and expressions in my native language, Filipino (to which I can only use Tagalog).
Well, I am unsure of the exact reason behind this choice. However, I think it is because I somehow already have a background in the Japanese language. I once was a lost sheep during my university days, where I needed to take up a foreign language course under our program. So, among the three available languages (Spanish, French, and Japanese), I thought that it would be more interesting to learn another Asian language. I did not expect that it would be an extra challenging experience, especially with only one professor teaching it. This situation meant being in a relatively large class with fewer interactions to use Japanese. Still, luckily, I survived and passed Jap 1 and Jap 2.
My undergraduate experience still has an impact on my interest in the language now. When I started working, I was not able to immerse myself in learning Japanese further. I still have some of the basics in my mind, like the hiragana and some common expressions/greetings. I am still struggling with remembering katakana. 😛
Last October, I enrolled in a beginner Japanese class that only had 30 hours’ worth of class time. It was a great experience as I was able to refresh my mind with the Japanese words and expressions that I encountered as an undergraduate. However, it was still a new experience as there is a lot that I do not remember anymore.
Waves of various height and strength punch me straight to the face whenever I try to jump away from my current position in life. Most of the time, the challenging waves are a mix of my worries, insecurities, uncertainties, indecisiveness, and many other negative thoughts fueled by the scared kid in my head. There have been numerous attempts to escape this destructive cycle. However, in all of my living moments, I still feel that I am lacking. Honestly, I think at the top of all these is my gradual fall to unproductiveness. I get sucked in the tedious habit of procrastination brought by the uncontrollable use of my mobile phone. What exactly brought me to this kind of escapist route?
Nearing the End of Another Decade (or about to start?)
The beginning of 2020 is the start of a new decade that was supposedly offering new opportunities for everyone to start afresh. Everything had been extra difficult, however, due to the spread of the COVID-19 in 2020. The unexpected turn of events last year made me reflect on the priorities that I must have in life. The situation also brought in many new concerns, which, I guess, needed to find an outlet to stay sane throughout the entire ordeal. In my case, I am grateful for work as I still had a seemingly normal system going on. The work-from-home setup was initially ideal though it took a toll after a couple of weeks of being or needing to be available any time of the day and the week.
As 2020 passed by seemingly quickly due to the limited routine that we had as cities quarantined for months, I was also pressed by the numerous happenings around my social environment. A lot of acquaintances got engaged, got married, and had babies. Those events brought good memories, somehow. However, 2020 also brought heartaches as close family friends died, and my small number of close friends got even smaller. There were days when I felt sad as I could not easily reach out to my closest friends. I think my introversion got more active during those times. Luckily, I had to endure those months of quarantine with my family. I could not imagine the feeling of those who had to be on their own during these trying times.
The year sure knows how to cram at the last minute. It seems that 2020 has yet to rest from all the challenges fate has poured into humanity’s lives. Heartbreaking sights are seen everywhere.
Our country, the Philippines, was not spared from the wrath of nature as multiple typhoons destroyed numerous properties, devastated massive land areas, and took precious lives. The most recent one, and is still an ongoing concern, in the aftermath of typhoon Ulysses which entered the country last Wednesday and have caused numerous flooding across various regions.
Flashback: Ondoy Memories
When the strong winds began on the night of November 12, it felt such a long night. Memories of the past became my family’s company as we listened to the roaring winds which angrily hit every surface it could find. This is not the only concern, then as the winds came with continuous rain. The rainwater sure brought my family back to the past worries when we faced the unexpected rush of water in 2009.
I could still remember clearly how, as a 16-year-old, I was oblivious of what was happening in Metro Manila during that time. I was in university, miles, and miles away from home. In the early morning of September 26, 2009, I thought it was just another rainy day. However, it was the first and only time it took me an entire day to reach Mandaluyong City. I spent the morning on the bus, stuck in heavy traffic with no food or water. Luckily, I was with my roommate then. However, reality just hit me when we reached Crossing, and no public transportation was in sight at around 5:30 pm already.
More than half of the year has passed, and about five months have been under quarantine, from the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), general community quarantine (GCQ), and so on. Many of us may have gone through different phases of emotional and even physical distress during those times.
I have been fine in the early weeks of quarantine. However, as I needed to work on various school requirements and family concerns, emotions came rushing in with no warning. In those times, I think that the worst experience is when my mind wanders off to past events, dreams, and plans—having the time to reflect also made it challenging to focus on and appreciate the present.
Is it the same with everyone?
I can never present my experiences as the same as everyone else’s. We all have our moments and our ways of facing our giants. We may have similarities in our experiences and the emotions that we carry, yet we can never say that we are the same. Instead, we can declare that we can relate to each one. This global health pandemic has truly left a scar in the hearts of many. A scar that will remind us of the events that brought thousands of deaths, thousands of people jobless, and many more sad memories we have to carry in the coming years. However, does it end there?
During the quarantine, I felt distressed early in the morning when some memories of plans made and canceled, dreams never started, or even simple tasks that I could do anymore greeted me. It did seem that my mind was my worst enemy during those moments. In hindsight, people may think that it is easy to control your mind from presenting those memories. However, that is not the case for me. I believe that our minds, our thinking, serve the most drastic punch to our hearts.
Hope is still there
Despite all those moments of weakness, I am still able to find hope. There are mornings where I pause and let those thoughts accompany me for a while. However, once I get the strength to move, I pray. This moment is where I learned that I need to offer everything to the Lord as I know that I cannot face my giants alone. There is this sense of fear lurking to eat me alive once I welcome it to my day. Yet, as I listen to music, read the Bible, or devotional for the day, I feel reassured by the Lord’s great presence and promise.
This experience may not be the case for everyone right now as we find ways to fight our giants the best we can. However, it is also a good reminder to know that we are not alone in this battle as we have the loving Father to help us, guide us, and walk with us through all these trials. I pray that this new week can bring us peace in our minds and hearts. Happy Sunday!
Almost a decade after graduating from the university, I found jobs which took most of my days away from the routine I used to enjoy as a young, university student. There are times that I wish to simply go back to the moments when life still does not seem too complicated or even too scary to handle as my days would have been filled with classes and requirements to accomplish. However, I accepted the fact that I may never go back to the past anymore, so I simply tried to find my own space to let my younger and full of dreams self take comfort from the world.
In the search for a new yet still familiar environment, I got to explore various online platforms which I tried to visit regularly. Even with a great desire to simply start writing, I got caught up with the fear of not doing anything great. I ended up forgetting about my dreams and I stopped improving my skills. Yet, it is a good realization that I once was in a position where I could dream and enjoy the calming yet also devastating process of writing. Now, should I wish to look back into that part of myself, then I have the different online works I published to check.
It may not even be too late to pick up this routine again and simply get lost in my own thoughts and imaginations; greet my old friends who I try to engage with in my stories. Maybe I will just revisit and revise some of the works to feel that certain adrenaline in putting ideas together and witnessing a body of work come alive. Perhaps, I will get there someday. If not, then here are still the places I can go to for a look into my past self.
Tablo.io ~ A place where I attempted to compile my works and even start a novel. Most of them remain unchanged since I started putting them together. Surely, a sad reality.
TheProse.com ~ Mostly a space for my attempt in writing poetry. It has been an interesting avenue to work on various challenges with prompts that help in establishing a good starting off point for my writing.
Hubpages.com ~ I tried practicing my web content skills in uploading numerous posts here. I might need to try my hand at this kind of topics again to keep me updated with the different web content needs.
Books and music are some of my lifesavers (and my cats)
There are a lot of wonderful things in life that I tend to neglect when I get too busy or too focused on work (or my worries). It seems difficult for me to simply sit and be grateful for all the different events that happen in my life. I would like to make sure that in this new journey that I will be taking in life, I learn to be grateful for all the blessings – big or small – that are given to me.
With a lot of sadness or even scary news about the concerns of the world, it is not easy to look for the little things that make our day better. It is something that I also struggle with, day in and out. I would like to find that piece of hope in my heart that believes in the better days ahead for all of us. There may still be some moments when I would stumble and forget about this new practice I wish to do; nonetheless, I would like to try.
Struggle in getting back
January 2020 – the start of the new year was already a roller coaster of various local and international news. From the fearful thoughts of Iran and America’s conflict to the bush fires in Australia, then the eruption of the Taal volcano which was later topped by the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic from Wuhan, China. With all those, the start of the year seemed like a long, exhausting one already. As I tried to work through my tasks as a senior high school teacher, I wasn’t able to go back to writing anymore. I chose to keep an old-school written journal instead. Anyhow, now, I would continue with my story regarding this passion of mine.
In times when everything seemed dried out of life, there are those little workers who keep on doing their part to keep death from turning up one day. Even in life, there are a lot of struggles and even some walls that stop us along the way. However, we can see them as the finish line or we can enjoy the rest and then find a detour to continue our run.
In the years after university, I faced a lot of those walls. I even came to a point where I felt worried and lost. There were moments when I gave up and didn’t see the meaning of the events happening in my life. It was, however, during those lowest moments did I give everything up to the Lord and I rested. It was not an easy journey. I had years of simply worrying about the coming days that I was too stubborn to listen to the Lord’s plan. I wanted to go my way. I wanted to achieve the dreams I thought were right for me to take. Then, only after all those hardships along the way did I enjoy the precious second of surprise as I was still led to a purposeful road which I truly love.
Now, I am still just at the start of that new road and I would like to be one of the workers to help in keeping the belief alive. There are many ways to reach our destination, we just needed some guidance and some recalibration so that we won’t hinder from the one that was designed for us.
Many may not have the same belief as I do, still, it is a good experience to share. It may even be a good chance for others to check on their current place in this run. There sure are a lot of interesting views to see and a number to better understand.