2014

Some thoughts from the wildest, most reckless, most change-filled year of my life thus far.

  1. Fake it til you make it, always. I’ve done it more than five times this year and got everything in the bag. All it takes is confidence to pull off the show, and nonchalance when things don’t pull through.
  2. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. That book changed my fucking life; even more than Ayn Rand did, I daresay and I was crazy obsessed with her. It was then I realized I was so much like Tereza: too serious, heavy, sentimental, emotional, there was so much weight.
  3. First dose of the benchmark subjects of an Atenean education, aka the theology and philosophy subjects. I’m an atheist but I learned a lot about love. Neither am I a good verbal communicator but Mam Jackie helped me hone my speaking skills through the oral exams. Given everything, all I can say is that they weren’t kidding when they said these courses change your perspectives on life completely.
  4. The most unlikely people will betray you, leave you hanging, and disprove everything you’ve held to be true about them, including the credibility of their friendship. On the other hand, the most unexpected people will come to be your closest confidantes and make you feel less lonely. I think I realize this every year but I’m still stupid enough to be committing the same mistakes. Either way, trust no one because in the end you only have yourself.
  5. If there’s anything I’ve learned: Never kiss and tell, what happens at a party stays there, it’s better multiple people once than one person multiple times, and you have to have a heart of stone to do all of this.
  6. “Forgiveness is a two way street. You can drown someone in forgiveness, but if they don’t want, then reconciliation will never be possible.” – a quote from Fr. Dacanay during one theology class. This quote reminded me of the time when one of my bestfriends wasn’t speaking to me for almost two months. Yes, I may have tried to reach out, but there’s only so much I can do if the other party won’t budge.
  7. You know you’ve won when what you want is handed to you on a silver platter. It only gets ugly when you turn greedy and yearn for more. Good things come to those who wait, better things come to those who are content.
  8. A good friend offered to break the heart of the boy who broke mine. I’ve never had anyone be so protective of me before, nor have I ever felt so mature to refuse the offer. Things fell through in the end anyway, and I have fate and karma to thank- not revenge. I guess it paid off to take the high road.
  9. Everything is unfortunately transient. All these years I’ve been searching for stability but somehow it never lasts for so long. Am I foolish for thinking I can have it for good? Is its attainment a matter of not now, or not ever?
  10. I’m a late bloomer and that’s okay.

Confessions of an English Major

Ever since I shifted majors from Economics to English; BFA Creative Writing with a minor in English Literature to be exact, it feels as if my life has gone through a shift in terms of everything… particularly in terms of societal perception and expectations. Don’t get me wrong; I love writing, I love my course mates, I love my teachers, I learn a lot, and I’m much happier here than when I was in a business course.

All I want to say is that while institutionalizing your interests may sound like a brilliant idea at the beginning, it may not always turn out for the best.

1. A lot of the time, writing feels more of a chore, an obligation more than a composition done out of sheer inspiration. Instead of an artwork, what’s produced is a piece of writing, as if it were done by a factory machine: generic, boring, lifeless, without passion. In one of the writing classes I’m taking, requirements are given on Tuesday evening and you’re expected to turn in a piece by Friday midnight- how can anyone come up with a publishable piece given the time allotted to compose it? You’re literally forced to come up with something or else you’re screwed. Which explains the numerous mediocre pieces I’ve come up with. They all satisfied the prompt, yes, but none of them were good at the very least because they were done for the sake of submitting a school requirement. Which is kind of a sad excuse for writing…

2. I question my capabilities all the time. Because you’re an English major, people automatically assume you’re good at writing, and expect that of you as well. I mean, it’s your major, of course you’re expected to be the best at it. But what if you aren’t? The pressure is crazy. Willingness to learn isn’t enough when you’re taking creative writing because it’s abstract. Unlike math subjects, you can’t practice, memorize formulas, or study your ass off in order to master the craft. This course is founded on talent and inspiration, which are things that can’t be honed, sadly. As sad as it is to say: you can always try, but it’s either you have it or you don’t. The gauge of talent, which is number of times you’ve been published, doesn’t help either.

3. Unlike what the program proposes, there’s really no room for failure nor mistakes in general. You can’t turn in works that stemmed from an ambitious yet potentially good concept yet had bad execution because output is judged and graded at face value. And so there’s always this pressure to stay on the safe side, to stick with the usual writing patterns because you’re too scared to fail. After all, a C+ is better than a straight F. While there is recognition for effort, it’s not well-compensated for, and nobody wants to do something without a guarantee they won’t be failed for their attempts at engaging in unconventional writing styles.

4. You’re somewhat expected to have “good taste” in literature- supposedly cultured, scholarly, mostly canon and literary theorists, even for leisure reading. It’s as if liking mainstream books were taboo, at least that’s what I feel sometimes- which is why I consider reading ThoughtCatalog, YA novels, and New York Times bestselling novels to be guilty pleasures. One instance is that while I occasionally make fun of Lang Leav, I can’t help when some elitist people from my field, even some professors go as far as discrediting her as a writer. I’m all for personal opinion, but it feels like there’s a list of things English majors can and can’t like or find worthy of reading because it’s not “literary” enough which raises the question of who dictates what good art is and isn’t? So there’s a someone, but who?

5. There’s also this expectation of the endgoal being a successful, full-time, big shot, widely read author. But what if I wish to deviate? What if the things I enjoy writing are feelsy, cheesy things that aren’t for publication but for the purpose of personal consumption and catharsis? Does this make me less of a writer just because I don’t want to make it my full-time profession? It also disgusts me whenever people look down on sell-outs; I mean, you’ve got to start somewhere, you’ve got to put food on the table, and while arrogance won’t do that, altering your writing to cater to a larger audience will.  I mean, what’s there to lose- you can write for yourself anyway, it just won’t be published but there’s still the option of working on it as an individual project.

In short I wish people just let you do your own thing without all the establishments on what makes a good writer, all these expectations and pressure on being a published author in the future, or the ivory tower that makes them think they’re the authority on anything literary. Sometimes I feel like my perception of writing has changed in a way because of all these things present in the industry, but I still love it anyway.

Personally, I don’t think I’m a good writer but that I’m articulate. Also, as early as now I’m pretty sure I won’t be a full-time, well-read famous writer. Maybe I’ll get into publishing or a magazine. Either way what I learn in the program doesn’t have to be channeled into what is established as the path for majors like me. Life is what you make it and that’s exactly what I’ll do.

On taking sides

Whether you admit it or not, your actions still say it all. You’ve taken sides and we all know which. Consciously or not, all that you did (and refuse to acknowledge) were clear signifiers of what you still refuse to come clean about. Personally, I don’t understand why you still feel the need to hide it when it’s so damn obvious. Is it because you’re oblivious or in denial? Or a coward? Playing it safe was definitely out of the question. Either way, I still can’t pinpoint the exact moment in which you decided for yourself that I was in the guilt.

Was it when you scolded me for maintaining my perfectly innocent friendships that you were brainwashed into thinking was a problem? Was it when you questioned my ability to differentiate right from wrong? Was it when you believed a malicious rumor about me? Was it when you told me I was the one who had to reach out and fix things? Was it when you distanced yourself from me altogether?

Somehow, I knew.

Clearly, you presupposed my being the villain in this story. I was the wrong one. Unluckily for you, others have noticed your flagrant bias against me, including one of the people who meant so much to you at a particular point of your life. Given the esteem I held you in, it was unsurprisingly surprising. But I had it coming anyway since I knew that having a perfect image of someone is always bound to end up in shards of broken impressions, no matter who they were. Friendship does not necessarily mean flawless. It was surprisingly unsurprising to realize this again even if I had my guards up this time.

I didn’t expect you to take sides but that’s how it came across. Even without hearing my side of the story, it looked like you’ve already jumped ship. When I first talked to you about it, I received nothing but suggestions on how to go about fixing things, as if you were expecting me to take all the blame. Everything you’ve done was in favor of the other party. You may not have explicitly said so, but at this rate, I don’t think you have to.

In the end, time will tell. Maybe I was wrong for thinking of you that way, but it’s highly unlikely.

Here’s to hoping that I am.

Snob Good vs. Giffen Good

I’m not an economics major anymore but I won’t deny I enjoyed being one back then. Math and graphs aside, the concepts taught in class were actually very practical and applicable in real life situations. One of those that stuck to me most was the classification of goods, particularly the snob good and the Giffen Good.

A snob good is a good wherein the demand increases as the availability of the good lessens. To put it simply, people want these goods because they’re rare, expensive, or hard to acquire. A real life example of this is anything limited edition. Aside from the good itself, people seek the prestige they get from owning things like these.

On the other hand, a Giffen Good is a good wherein the demand increases as price increases. Sounds nice at the beginning, it kind of acts like a snob good! However, whenever the purchasing power of the people increases, the demand for the Giffen Good decreases. It’s an extreme case of an inferior good. The more available the Giffen good is, the less people want of it because the market is now offering much better things. An example of this is bread during the French Revolution. Bread was vital to the French diet, so people would still buy bread even if the price increased. But as soon as the French people had more money to spend, they stopped buying bread altogether because there were other better things in store.

A snob good should be distinguished from a Giffen Good because snob goods are snob goods at their own right. They possess an elusive quality to back them up which is why people want to have them so much. On the other hand, a Giffen Good is just something that behaves like a snob good because it’s the best that people can afford at the moment. But once nicer things come, or when people could afford better things, tendency is that Giffen Goods are ditched altogether because nobody wants them. On the occasion that people actually do avail of Giffen Goods, it’s because they’re settling.

I will apply this economic concept in real life because it’s relevant. There are some people who act like snob goods but in reality are actually Giffen Goods. Entitled pricks are misled into thinking they’re special snowflakes and that they’re all that, when in reality, people put up with them because they’re the best they can have for now. When more superb stuff suddenly pop up out of nowhere, these Giffen Goods (or should I say Giffen people) will be bound to be dropped like hot potatoes asap.

I’m writing this blog because obviously, there are people in my life who closely resemble the behavior of a Giffen Good. They act like snob goods even when it’s totally unwarranted to the point that it’s bordering on ridiculous. They probably haven’t evaluated their place, nor do they realize the fact that they’re sad Giffen Goods, but still, it’s kind of pathetic. It’s also funny how highly they think of themselves. Too bad they’re stuck in their ivory towers of Tell-me-are-you-fucking-serious-about-this-can-you-fucking-hear-yourself? Yeah, their egos be sky high but they ain’t even fly. I sincerely hope that they finally open their eyes to reality, which certainly doesn’t match up to their delusions.

Moral of the story? Don’t be a Giffen Good. That’s so basic.

The Replacements

You know that feeling when you think you’ve finally found your true friends- those who you know you could rely on when things turn awry, not judge you for whatsoever thing you do or feel, approach without hesitation, confide in your problems and innermost thoughts, share good times and bad, and most especially, expect to stay. Stuff like that. Only to be proven wrong in the end?

I don’t know what I’ve been doing wrong to have this cycle repeat itself over and over. People enter my life only to leave and then be replaced in the end by someones just like them. It’s weird because I don’t seek people out to play particular roles in my life, they just do. It just happens. Not to completely homogenize those friendships, in fact, I value all of them a mighty lot- but the similarities between the various friends I’ve made, old and new, and the specific roles they’ve played in my life are too stark to ignore.

One example I can provide in order to concretize the scenario I’m in is in the case of having a boyfriend who looks and is similar to an ex. Your new boyfriend looks just like your old one and even has similar mannerisms to him, as if you’ve replaced the ex with a better and newer version of him. Like Boyfriend version 2.0 but a completely different person to fill that specific role in your life. Now imagine that in a friend setting.

It’s sad because I’m always led to believe that the last one who comes will finally be the one who stays for good, only to be proven wrong. But whatever, screw it.

Moral of the story:

1. People come and go, it all depends on how long they stay. In the end, you only have yourself.

2. Don’t seek out happiness and validation in other people. You’re only bound for disappointment.

August 6

Today was filled with unexpected surprises.

1. I started the day with a spontaneous phone call from Ram, one of my close friends, at around midnight. Technically, it was already August 6, right? Anyway, we ended up having a heart to heart conversation until two o’ clock in the morning because he finally decided to open up to me about what he was going through after having no contact with him for almost a month. For three weeks, he vanished into thin air- stopped showing up at Starbucks where we usually hung out, never replied to my texts, and apparently nobody knew what happened to him. I’m beyond relieved now that I finally heard from him, that he’s currently coping and all despite the unfortunate circumstances he’s been placed in. It was also very flattering to know that I was the first person he confided to about all this. Conversely, he was also the person I confided in about my recent personal problems and secret opinions; things I had to keep secret from others for fear of judgment or misinterpretation. All in all, it was a good conversation and we both picked up easily right where we we left off. I’m happy things are back to normal now.

What struck me the most was the moment right before Ram hung up, when he said he wished he talked to me sooner because he felt so much better after our phone call. The exact words he said were “Sobrang gumaan loob ko after talking to you”. It meant a lot because I never thought of myself to be a good listener, so it was nice to know that I did an okay job at it, well at least for him. And if there’s anything better I got out of this conversation after knowing that I was somehow able to alleviate his hardship, it was the realization that our friendship was really, for the lack of a better word, solid. The trust was there, and so were the openness, mutual agreement/hatred over certain things, and most especially the fact that we could both freely talk about our deepest feelings without any inhibitions or fear of judgment whatsoever. Truly those are marks of genuine friendship and I’m grateful to have found that in Ram.

2. I woke up on the wrong side of the bed after having slept late last night which in turn led to me being grouchy the entire morning. I wasn’t in the mood to practice driving (which usually excites me), to attend class, for anything really except sleep. Given my horrible disposition, it was an extreme downer for me to see the pile of yellow papers on top of the teacher’s table come theology class- midterm results would be distributed today. That exam was difficult and I thought I bombed it despite having heavily prepared.

The good part was that the exact opposite happened. I actually performed really well for a test I thought was a definitive F, probably a C at best if Father was generous in grading. Not to blow my own horn, but I was surprisingly able to get a 3.27 in the said midterm which is equivalent to a B. Which meant that 17.5% of my FINAL mark in the class was already secured as B. Not bad for a terror professor, THE Father Dacanay at that! When I got my paper, I almost burst into tears because of the overwhelming amount of disbelief I felt about my score because it was far from what I expected. It was incredible, and also a rare moment because I’m not really grade conscious. Just when I thought I was totally screwed for this semester, my results from this exam made me feel that all the hard work I poured into studying came to fruition in the end. Now I’m further inspired to do well in this class!

3. I dreaded JEEP, Ateneo’s program where they make students experience life as blue-collar workers, since the day I heard about it. I found it pointless to engage in this because it seemed like such a hassle and had nothing to do with our education- we were in school to become professionals, not social workers. What did being a grocery bagger, jeepney barker or janitor have to do with our curriculum? As if the nature of JEEP wasn’t bad enough, it also didn’t help that the other facets involving it were way worse. Our assigned JEEP formator was annoying and had an equally annoying voice, the instructions given by the Office of Social Concern were vague, the orientations time consuming and irrelevant. Add to that, it was also dangerous- we were supposed to commute using a tricycle into the inner part of Cubao, an area known to be full of robbers and kidnappers. I was expecting JEEP to be as much of a waste of time as NSTP and wanted to get it over with as soon as possible.

That all changed after today, when I had my first session of the JEEP experience. As a Creative Writing major, we had a special discipline-based program. I was assigned to interview a teenage girl about her life, how the foundation she was part of contributed to her growth as a person, and then write about it. The foundation would then send my output to donors in case they needed any benefactors of some sort. Luckily, I easily got along with Quennie, the girl whose story I was writing, as well as her other friends who were also present in the area. In totality, I spent around less than an hour interviewing and transcribing our interview, and then spent rest of the time playing childhood games with the kids and engaging in “bugtong bugtong”, where they’d tell me riddles and I’d have to guess the answer. Time flew by really quickly while I was in their company and I’m thankful to have been assigned to Lingap Kabataan Foundation for JEEP. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention! Our JEEP area was airconditioned and we were allowed to sit down, eat, and chill out with the children while we were at it. Pretty cool huh? It did not feel like work at all.  I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m actually excited for the next session because I miss the kids already.

4. ATENEO WON TODAY’S GAME! Kiefer Ravena made the winning shot while there was 3 seconds left on the clock, thus breaking the tie between UST! What a phenomenal shot! I literally screamed while I saw it. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was that incredible a shot!

5. My enlistment skills did not fail me and I was able to snag four out of the seven slots for Concordia Area Visit sign ups for my friends and I on our desired date despite the intense demand for it! Indeed I deem myself the enlistment boss!!! I was obviously too lazy to elaborate more on this one, but it was the cherry on top of this great day so it doesn’t really need much explaining hihi. (what did I just say?)

These are the reasons why August 6 was a great day. Cheers to more of these!