On writing

Sunday, August 31, 2014 1 Comments A+ a-

A few days ago, a friend asked me if I can proofread an essay she wrote before she publishes it to her blog, to which I gladly obliged. I gave back her piece with a few corrections. I know, I know. I'm not really that good and I can be wrong sometimes. But hey, I'm just glad to help.

"Am I gonna be a good writer?" she asked.

"Of course, anybody who wants to write can be good at writing."

"What makes a good writer?"

I paused. I wasn't prepared for that.

Some people tell me I'm good at writing, while others say I'm not, and to some I'm in between. I don't really take what people say about my writing seriously. Not that I don't care. Trust me, I do. I welcome feedbacks, good or bad. I just don't linger on them for too long that I get too overwhelmed with the flattering remarks and it goes up to my head; nor do I mope on their harsh criticisms that I would feel inferior about it. Instead, I turn them into stepping stones.

I know where I stand. I stand where I keep on telling myself: I still have a long way to go and there's still a lot to learn.

I cringe whenever people ask me anything about writing. Let me be clear to you, when it comes to technical stuff about writing, I suck. Really. It's not that I have not learned anything from my English classes way back in high school - grammar rules, punctuation, and all that jazz.

My writing style is so raw that sometimes I tend to break the rules. The words that I write come from within me. I write whatever my heart and my mind speaks. I write when I'm inspired. I write just because I want to and not to please anybody (except for my goddamn professors in college). When I write, I'm opening a part of me to you: how I think, what's important to me, or what kind of person I seem to be.

Being forced to write puts me off my style. I would become too conscious on the technical aspects of writing that I would find it difficult for words to flow abundantly. And it would seem an arduous task to finish a draft.

Being good at writing is so vague and it varies. I cannot be as good as those fiction writers, the literary geniuses, or those who can exceptionally write research papers. Those kind of writers have to be really technical and conventional with their pieces. I haven't gotten out my comfort zone yet. I'm fine with where I am now: the blogosphere.

I am a blogger who just wants to piece together my thoughts and turn it into words. I cannot be too technical for that matter. I cannot be too correct. And I find some grammar rules worth breaking, you know. It's fun doing it sometimes. If I want to relay my point in some cool way or another, I have to ditch the writing conventions and bend the rules. Your cue to shoot me now, grammar nazis.

My point is, yes, knowledge for technical stuff like the subject-verb agreement does matter, but it's not all the matters. The meat of your content and how you deliver it matter too. It's how you put your heart to it that your readers can see the passion from your words. That's the art and beauty in it. Something which your teachers, the books, or any writer cannot teach you.

So if asked again, what makes a good writer? Honestly, I still don't have a clue. I haven't reached that point yet. But as far as I've said it, it's not just knowing alone the overwhelming grammar rules that make you one. And it's not just the delivery of your piece that makes your readers come back for more. Maybe a combination of both. But still, not enough. I honestly don't know. Maybe that's how we improve - not knowing when to stop learning. To refuse to believe we are good writers and strive to become a better one.

So what can I say to the aspiring writers? If you have something to say, write it. And just like what my friend did, ask for help. Even the greatest writers have their works proofread and edited by others. And of course, as the old adage goes, practice makes perfect. So write as much as you can. And stop worrying about people not liking your piece. Just write for yourself. Write from the heart.

Just write.

Random Thoughts on Dancing

Friday, August 29, 2014 0 Comments A+ a-

I don't have a task right now and I've been spending my precious working hours trying to figure out what else can I do aside from researching-just-for-research-sake-because-i-have-nothing-else-to-do-kind-of-task. I am bored. Hence, time is running painfully slow. But who am I to complain? I get paid for this anyway.

I plugged my earphones in hopes that it can slowly kill boredom. Turned on Spotify's radio, chose a random station and to my surprise, it played Jamelia's Superstar. I was discreetly dancing in place. Head bobbing, feet moving, hands in motion but not too obvious for the boss to notice. I was trying to remember the steps when we danced this way back 2004.

I miss dancing. I haven't danced since time immemorial. The last time I danced on stage was during my college days. And yes, I do miss the limelight, the audience, the screams, and the glory.
That's me (blue) during one of the Panther's intermission numbers
It was a year or two ago when I actually bought an xbox 360 with kinect and Dance Central 3 to make up for the absence of dancing in my life. It did a pretty good job acting as a filler for something that I really love to do. But it's still different from the kind of dancing that I am used to, the one where I give out all my heart not minding the number of people sitting on the bleachers as they lock their eyes on you.
Panthers Pep Squad. Goofin around during our waterbreak. Circa 2006.
I miss dancing so much. I miss those late night practices, the body pains, the rigorous warm-ups and bone-breaking stretches, the crazy people I danced with, and of course, that triumphant feeling of gracefully pulling off a complicated step then you hear the deafening roar of awe and applause from the audience.

I love dancing. And I wish that one day I'd be able to move my body to the rhythm of the music again. Because I want to dance for myself, for the people, and last but not the least, for the best audience of my lifetime, the Big Guy up there.

PNSA 2004

What Words Can Do

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 0 Comments A+ a-

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

Oh really? Well, here's one for you, you filthy mudblood, "Crucio!"

Words hurt. As much as it hurts when Bellatrix Lestrange casts the Cruciatus curse on you, enveloping your very being with excruciating pain - imagine this, bones twisting and knives piercing at every inch of your skin, or worse. Words, however, are more powerful than Crucio. Powerful enough to uplift your soul or crush your very core.

In our lives we're bound to meet different people. People who either make us or break us. Not everyone we meet becomes our friend. And not everyone we know can agree to our beliefs, put up to our behavior, or uphold our principles. It is inevitable. Humans are bound to conflict.

When we are angry, frustrated, disappointed, annoyed, or stressed, we oftentimes express our feelings through words. And more often than not, we speak without thinking. We become oblivious to our choice of words when our emotions are enraged, mostly leaning to slurs, curses and insults.

Hurtful words cut like a knife. And it can cut deep. Really deep that the pain can last a little longer than any physical wound can inflict. It has the ability to echo and swirl around your head over and over, even for decades or more. A second of blurting out sharp words can change a person's whole life forever.

Words are indeed powerful. Powerful enough to push people apart and equally powerful to bring people closer together. If we'd only take time to think before we speak, chances are, we would be saying the right words whatever situation we are in.

But that doesn't mean we go around saying what we think, however nasty or hurtful it is - no matter how many times we've thought about it. No matter how right we think we are, it doesn't give us the right to step on someone else's face. A good rule to remember by is that we cannot always say what we think, but we should always think what we say.

So before we speak, T-H-I-N-K, and ponder on these questions:
T- is it True?
H- is it Helpful?
I- is it Inspiring?
N- is it Necessary?
K- is it Kind?

Otherwise, let's just keep our mouths shut. There's always a way to disagree with, reprimand, or criticize without the use of sharp words. Words can shape, direct, change, or move a person or even the world. Let's use words to make the world a better place. Let's use words to bring out the best in every person. Let's use our words wisely, shall we? 

Life is A Beach

Monday, August 25, 2014 0 Comments A+ a-

For a beach bum like me, what's not to love living in Davao when after a stressful week at work and you feel like chilling by the beach on weekend, you just cross the sea and in a few minutes, bam! You're there.

I'm a sucker for beaches and everything else that comes with it. I remember the time when I was still a kid, I am always the first one to dip and last to get out of the water. No wonder I have this really toasted skin. I love the beach so much that almost everything I dreamed of has something to do with the beach. 

Now you should know how hard it is for me that everyday I see the beautiful view of the sea and I can hear the waves rolling but I have to suffer, fighting the urge not to daydream about it so I can focus on my work instead. (sigh)

Well at least, last Saturday, my friends and I got the chance to have an escape at Isla Reta. This one's quite far though. It's an hour boat trip from Davao but the long ride does not matter for the place is really really beautiful.

On and On with Jack Johnson

Thursday, August 21, 2014 0 Comments A+ a-

If there's one artist that I can listen to infinitely, that would be Jack Johnson. I could go on doing nothing but listen to him in an indefinite time span. I wouldn't say that his songs are catchy. I define "catchy" as songs that have this one line nonsense lyrics that you sing on repeat and it goes on an infinite loop in your head. Jack Johnson, however, is far from that. His songs go straight to your heart and you fall in love with it.

Much Ado About Nothing (Ang hipon... bow)

Monday, August 18, 2014 6 Comments A+ a-

The recent Kadayawan festival was a blast. Not for all Davaoeños though, especially after Ramon Bautista made a remark "madaming hipon sa Davao". Which provoked the ire of some public officials and stirred netizens to rage.

Okay, I understand where all that hate is coming from. I get it, that was offensive. But if we were to look at it the other way, it shouldn't affect us, right? I mean, why do we allow people to demean or belittle us? Because just by reacting to that, we are just validating his claims. If it isn't true and we know for ourselves that it isn't true, then we can just brush it off our shoulders and move on. We know better. If we haven't made a big fuss out of it, the issue would have died down before Bautista could step down the stage.

Bautista said something that earned him one way ticket to public stoning. But he already expressed apology publicly. Isn't that enough? I think calling for persona non grata is just too much. And people are just overreacting way too much. Yes, I intended that redundancy.

Apparently, most people who have reacted haven't seen shows that blurt out slurs worse than that, not to mention, even intended for international viewing. Take Family Guy for example, they can simply take on to any races. If you don't take it seriously, you'll find it really hilarious. Too bad, most of us take jokes by heart and cry foul like how Neymar (yellow) stumbles unnecessarily over a little tackle.
This isn't the first time we reacted negatively to a joke. Or the second. Or the third. So this is to say that generally, Pinoys, not just Davaoeños, are the worst audience to any kind of comedy style. Madaling mapikon, madaling ma-offend. Sad but it's true. If we could only learn not to give a damn about petty things, I guess the world will be a better place.

Confessions Vol. 2: I Am Very Messy

Saturday, August 16, 2014 3 Comments A+ a-

I arrived home sleepy and my mind drifting. Went straight to a familiar door, turned the knob, put my bag down, removed my clothes and threw it carelessly on the bed, then I changed to my usual pambahay. I was about to throw myself to bed when I realized that I am not in my room.
Here's a glimpse of my room now.
And I'm not sorry for the mess that I have just made.

Live to write, not write to live

Friday, August 15, 2014 3 Comments A+ a-

I am on a roll. I've been writing daily for a week now. This has never happened before. Except during the time when I was all hyped up to take the 100 Happy Days Challenge that I have to force myself to write daily. Didn't survive though, not even halfway to it.

This time, it's different. Nothing is forced. Words just kept flowing spontaneously that I can write just about anything even the mundane and the ordinary. It feels like I can make a tsunami from a single drop of water. And I am creating a wave after wave after wave.

Now that I'm on to this, I backtracked my old blogs and old posts. Reading them again was surprisingly fun with an occasional raising of the eyebrow. "Did I really write this? I could have written it better than that."

Well, it only boils down to one thing: I have improved. And I know I am still improving and there's still a lot of room for improvement for I still don't consider myself a good one. Not even close.

Being good at writing doesn't happen overnight. It is a continuous process of learning. And I wish I had all the time and diligence to practice this craft because more often than not, I find myself losing the battle against time and laziness.

I do not have formal training or a degree or even a major in whatsoever that's related to writing aside from our English classes in high school. I learn writing through the journals and blogs that I write, the essays our teachers require, and of course, from the books that I read.

I love to write. It is the only time I can be still in an effort to put my jumbled thoughts into words that make sense. I write because I want to express. And for someone who is not vocal like me, writing is a breather.

I love to write. As much as it exhausts me to write and submit a 500-word article in an hour or less, it is a great stress reliever.

I love to write. But I never ever thought that for my first job I would land as a writer, given the fact that writers don't earn that much. Okay, I admit it, I was flat out broke at that time and I needed the money.

My short writing stint taught me a lot about foreign exchange, male enhancements, lure fishing, assisted living, cleaning agents and whatever topic they can throw me. It widened my vocabulary but at the same time taught me how to put my words simply. Most importantly, I learned how to love writing even more, how it is an art and not just a mere form of constructing sentences with correct grammar usage.

Well, I might make a living out of writing again. Or not.

Perhaps not.

I'd rather make life out of writing than make a living out of it.

10 things I hate about you

Thursday, August 14, 2014 0 Comments A+ a-

I hate you. Yes, I do. Wanna know why?

1. When you wrap your arms around me, I couldn't get out of it. You're a black hole and I get sucked in.

2. Don't look. Don't stare. Your eyes are so beautiful... I. Could. Melt.

3. You are the best part of the day. And all days have to end. Waiting for tomorrow takes forever.

4. You make me miss you so bad.

5. How can you let my guard down whenever I'm with you?

6. You're too good to be with a prick like me.

7. Okay, I take it back. You're a bad boy.

8. I hate your flabs. I just can't get enough of it.

9. You make me laugh so hard even with your corniest jokes I'd crap my pants. Kidding. But really, how can you make me laugh at corny jokes?

10. You have the loudest burp and proudest fart I've ever heard. Too comfortable with me, huh?.

Please, stop it. You're making me hate you that I fall for you even more.

Don't Stop. Lab, just keep on making me hate you, okay? :)

Giving up is never an option

Tuesday, August 12, 2014 0 Comments A+ a-

I never thought that the demise of an actor can hit me hard. Not that I cried. I mean, I would't care to blog about him and waste precious time if he was just any other celebrity. How many celebrities have died already? Right.

Mrs. Doubtfire, Allan Parish, Jack, Chris Nielsen, John Keating and Genie are some of his characters that shaped my childhood and my struggling teenage years.
Robin Williams 1951-2014
It's just sad that he who has made the world laugh would die in the least expected way with the least expected reason.

Now this made me think that not everyone who laughs or wears the sweetest smile is a happy person. It's just sad that depression can happen to anyone and it's sadder that most people would easily lose hope and succumb to their defeat.

Everyone's fighting a battle. And it's harder if you're fighting it alone. And not everyone is strong enough to go through the pain.

This should be an eye-opener for us to be sensitive to the people around us. You really don't have to take the role of a school guidance counselor who's always there to lend a hand or an ear, or be a knight in a shining armour coming to rescue a damsel in distress. No. You can't be a hero all the time.

But what I'm trying to say is, you can help and do things in your own little way. Be kind to everyone you meet for you don't know what kind of battle each is going through. A little act of love and kindness doesn't hurt and it can give a little ray of light to their already bleak world.

Life, as we know it, is hard. As long as you live, life will throw you sh*t in all forms and sizes. And if you think you are already on the verge of giving up, that you feel you are at the edge of the cliff with nowhere and no one to run to, I know it's easier said than done, but just hold on a little more, press on and fight a good fight for that pain, that sadness, that burden, that grief that you are feeling is just the dark before the morning. There will always be hope.

Remember this: giving up is not and can never be an option.

And to Robin Williams, may you rest in peace. Your wonder will surely be missed.

What Got Me Into Reading

Saturday, August 9, 2014 0 Comments A+ a-

This was Fully Booked's post the other day to which I promptly replied:

And by that, I had a trip down memory lane. How and when did I start my love for books and reading? (Yep, those are two different things). Now, let me take you back more than two decades ago.

It was summer of 1989 when my dad took me on a vacation and left me with my grandma at Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat. When I got back to Davao a week after, my parents surprised me with a big book, Children's First Dictionary. It's beautiful. I loved it and even more that it has colorful pictures. I was 4 then, and yes, I already know how to read. And even though I didn't understand most words, I read it heartily, word per word, from A-Z.

At 6, my mom bought me a set of "My Bible Friends" books. And when I finished reading all ten books, I read it again. And again. And again. And again. Until I have already memorized almost every word of every story of every book.

At 7, I was grinning from ear to ear the moment I claimed my very own library card. I skipped as I went from shelf to shelf, carefully choosing two books that I can take home. I trotted away from the library clutching Aesop's Fable and Grimm's Fairy Tales dearly on my chest. I read incessantly that I asked for a new library card not long after because my first one was full; mind you, the school year has not ended yet.

I was 8 when I finished Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. It's the first book I've read with over a hundred pages and with only one non-colored picture per chapter. It took me a week to finish it and I'm glad to return it on time because I can't afford 25 cents a day for an overdue book. Reading it was enjoyable albeit challenging.

It took me weeks or perhaps months before I took a trip at the library again. It was such a breather as I stepped down the halls of books, shelf after shelf after shelf. But I was drawn to a dilemma, should I borrow those illustrated fairy tales or have another challenging read?

I went over where the bigger students are, perhaps one or two grade levels ahead of me. I skimmed the shelves nearby for a book that I can take home again until I stumbled upon books I never thought would be the start of a long love affair. I carefully picked Franklin W. Dixon's Hardy Boys. And the rest, as they say, is history.

You see, my parents were far from wealthy but I'm glad that even with their meager salary, they still managed to buy me books like Grolier's encyclopedia, and all those sets and sets of Science and other informative books that I still have until now.

I remember way back in high school I stumbled upon my mom's piles of romance novel (Mills&Boons, Barbara Cartland, etc) and my dad's books by Ian Fleming's. It's no surprise where I got my reading habits.

My parents encouraged me to read and fostered my love of books. The books have changed my life and how I see the world. Books take me to places, introduce me to new people and broaden my already wild and playful imagination. I never would have been the kind of reader I am now if it had not been for them. And I am so grateful for that. :)

Saga (part 2)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014 0 Comments A+ a-

All my life I have never thought I'd enjoy a comic book this much. I have already finished reading the 3rd volume of Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and it is so awesome. The only regret I have is that I have read it too early and read it too fast. Now what? Don't you hate it when you get too engrossed in a book or something and you have to wait a few months for the next release? That few months is a hell of a wait.

Seriously, I could not think of anything to say but praises for this awesome graphic novel. And if you haven't read this yet, go and do yourself a favor and pick the first volume right now. I mean, RIGHT NOW. If you're not into comic books, or sci-fi, or magic, or family, or life in general, you will still love this. I tell you, this is so good, it's gonna hurt, it will break your heart... you'll laugh, you'll cry and you'll beg for more and you'll loathe or maybe thank me for that.

And oh wait, did I mention that this is awesome?

Dear Mr. Vaughan,

Have you made a pact with the devil in exchange of a talent to be able to write something as incredible as this? Hahaha. Kidding. But really, I don't know how you're doing this, what sort of dark magic you do, what brain steroids you take, or what sacrificial rituals you make, but do whatever that keeps you going.



Sunday, August 3, 2014 0 Comments A+ a-

I don't remember the last time I was engaged into illustrated/graphic novels, because even the countless mangas I've read didn't really capture my attention (except for Liar Game, of course). But there's this one comic book that took my breath away.

I wasn't really taken by its cover at first glance because judging by the cover, I was thinking it's just another romantic story of star-crossed lovers which gives a feeling of trite. And also, romantic stories aren't my cup of tea. But I was wrong.

Looking at the cover again and that breastfeeding woman sparked my interest because from that point, I knew it is going to be strange. Well, it is indeed a story of star-crossed lovers, just like Romeo and Juliet but put in a futuristic space opera caught up in an intergalactic war.

It is too gripping that I read Volume 1 in a flash. Yes, it is that good. It's a completely fresh world, humorous, action-packed, and a little bizarre. And aside from it being brilliantly written, the artwork is so awesome.

I am drawn. I am amazed. And I am so excited to get my hands on this and the incoming volumes. I am looking forward for tomorrow (and that is the most dreaded day of the week, Monday) because I'll be checking out my favorite bookstore if they have this on-hand. And I hope they do because it's going to kill me if I don't read the next volume soon. Nah, just kidding. But yes, I really can't wait to get my hands on the next.

P.S. I guess the books on my current wishlist, Allegiant and Four will have to wait a little longer. One volume costs two books and yes, I think I'll also die of starvation if the next payday doesn't come anytime soon. Hahaha