Also a runner, photographer, cyclist, dreamer, and believer.
It was love at first sight, really. I decided to forego the sticker-planner frenzy this year after I saw the 2014 Doodle Planner from FILED!. A planner with awesome doodles? That is so right up my alley. I’ll be getting my personal copy of the planner (leaning towards the black one) next week and the awesome people from FILED! is giving me another one to give away to you, guys!
It looks incredible, right? So, if you want to win a FILED! 2014 Doodle Planner for yourself (or for someone else), just do the simple things on the Rafflecopter widget below.
Def excited to get my hands on my FILED! 2014 Doodle Planner but I’m more excited for the winner of this giveaway! Thanks to my friends from FILED! :)
(Photos taken from the official Facebook page of FILED!)
I had found a home in you, then, when my November nights were cruel and abrasively empty, frigid as an iceberg. And like the tip of an iceberg, the melancholy those nights brought to my doorstep was as deceptively large and affecting, too. That period of time, as I’ve been scarred to remember, is tainted with immense sadness. It is, quite irrevocably, impossible to forget. I imagine nobody forgets a perpetual sinking feeling. Some people would call this trauma. Bu this whole incapacity to forget I easily translate into good fortune when I realize I met you during this time.
I had floundered coping up, a fish out of sea—wriggling from too much air. I remember with a grin how glued I was to the sofa, repetitively watching feel-good B movies that, I imagine, would have offended your cinephilic nature. Sometimes I wonder if I ought to regret forcing you to watch some of them. My conscience remains mute on the subject matter.
I find myself randomly replaying the first night we met. It was a Tuesday night and I had my tiger shirt on which I had cut a few weeks ago into an unintentionally frumpy tank top that only looked good on photos. Below, I was wearing nothing but my striped boxers. Earlier, I had decided it was time to start sleeping early (a decision I constantly find myself making in spite of its apparent impossibility) and had showered. It was my father who always said that showering before bed makes one feel better. Presko. Prelude to sleep, to my sleep. My hair was nearly dry which I’ve always thought was its prettiest state when my phone rang with your name on display. At the corner of the screen was the time, it was nearly 11.
I don’t know what came to me that night though my suspicions could be narrowed down. It was either your persistence paired with your youthful charm held me powerless or the thought of someone like you expressing such interest in someone like me was too good, too rare to let pass. Of course, I had agreed to see you that same night before I put the phone down, amidst and in spite of hearing my mother’s voice, warning me of dangers that bloom and thrive when the sun sets and in a city such as this, I, the sheltered boy from Los Banos, had so much to avoid and learn, only she has always hoped and prayed that I’d never learn them the hard way. You see, from the beginning all of this was reckless.
The moment I put on my jacket; the moment I pulled those shorts up my waist; the moment I stepped out of my apartment door and into that dark, putrid alley; the moment I saw your moonlit disheveled hair across the park, all these moments the old me wouldn’t be caught dead in. Meeting strangers in a public park at night is exactly the kind of stuff I avoided. Despite this, all of these moments somehow resuscitated me. The recklessness revived my blood. It thrilled me. I felt alive. And I’ve never felt dead since.
A year later, tonight, the moon is out again. I let my feet carry me to where you were and my eyes watch as my shadow stretches and shrinks under the street lamps’ shifting lights. I stifle my panting as I recognize your figure walking towards me. It is in this moment that I feel the familiar stir inside. It makes our embrace and my smile meant. I knew then I’d spend the rest of the night wondering just how lovely this is, constantly finding a home in you.
During my first semester as a graduate student, in lieu of graduate courses, I was required by the Graduate School Office of the College of Arts and Letters (CAL) at UP Diliman to take 9 units of undergraduate coursework. This was to help me be better equipped in dealing with the rigors of its MA Creative Writing program which I had applied and qualified for. This wasn’t surprising. As a matter of fact, it was expected given that I had finished BS Agriculture in UPLB and hadn’t taken sufficient English and Writing units. This condition enabled me to sit among the young undergraduate students of CAL for one full semester, consequently giving me a taste of how it would’ve felt had I taken Creative Writing as my undergraduate degree. For most people, this was a set-back, but for me, it was a wonderful opportunity to experience what I had only wished for as a college student, even for just a semester.
A month before classes started, a few weeks after my resignation from work took effect, I had the chance to imbibe everything that has led to my life-changing decision of pursuing a career in creative writing.
I recalled one particular moment when I realized that I wasn’t happy doing what I was doing in life. It was already two years after I graduated from college. I had just gotten out of work when I saw torrential monsoon rain outside and so decided to fetch my mother, a Physics professor in UPLB, whose office was only an 8-minute drive away. After parking the car, I went up to her room to help with her things. I knocked twice and walked in, greeted by her usual smile. She then took something from her desk and handed it to me. Raindrops cascaded her window pane as I held out my hands to receive it. It was a bar of chocolate with a heartfelt letter from one of her students telling her how much he had enjoyed the semester because of her class.
I have always been proud of my mother especially after she received awards for her teaching, and whenever I attend her professorial chair lectures, but not as much as I was proud of her then—at that moment—with a letter and a chocolate bar in my hand. I realized that my mother had found what she was most passionate about and even though her salary can be a cause for frustration at times, she was happy. It suddenly made sense to me why she would stay up late editing and updating her PowerPoint presentations or why she would scavenge the market place for props for her endless demos in class, shelling out personal money in the process. She could easily be one of those professors who’d reuse old slides and old exams; after all, she has tenure. But I guess when you’re happy doing something, you do it well. It dawned on me that that was what I wanted for myself too—to find my passion. And being an Agriculturist, something I’d worked four years for, wasn’t it.
I remembered an exchange I had with a senior researcher from the research bureau I’d been working for. She had heard that I was resigning because of graduate studies. By this time, I had already resolved to pursue writing, something I’ve had a penchant for since high school. She had asked me what I would be studying and, hearing my reply, delivered an almost ghastly look. She said that I should be studying something that is still within the realm of science because that’s the only way I’d qualify for a DOST scholarship. She even went on to say how much her own daughter received as a DOST scholar. To her, I was throwing my college degree away. I understood where she was coming from and how impractical my decision seemed. But it was exactly because of practicality that my desire to pursue an undergraduate degree that delved more into my interests was trumped. It was only then that the thought completely sank in: I was shifting careers.
During the first day of classes, I found myself in the front row, barely two meters from Prof. Isabelita Reyes’ face, flushed with emotions and choking up tears. Later, that same day, I wrote in my journal how for the very first time in my life, I felt a sense of genuine belongingness in a class. I couldn’t help but remember all the hours I spent listening to lectures on botany, plant pathology and crop science, and realize that there was always something missing. And after being entrenched in agriculture for almost seven years, it was pretty surreal that I was now there—listening to a professor imparting pointers on the creative writing process, giving me more than a dozen poems and essays to read. I guess I never really thought it was still in the cards for me to study what I was most interested in. I slept that night feeling like my life had just begun.
In pursuit of passion, nobody takes the easy way. I do not regret finishing BS Agriculture nor do I regret any decision made for me by anybody before. I used to, yes, but I have now made peace with the past. Why wouldn’t I? There’s no point in regretting. But I believe that when you do find what you’re most passionate about in life—something you can put your whole heart into—then, by all means, reach for it. I now know that settling for something just because it’s there is the most potent thing to stagnate you, hold you back from doing something more.
I was once a half-hearted student, unfeelingly going through the motions. I was once a half-hearted worker, all the time anticipating weekends and holidays; fully aware that there was someone out there who’d do a vastly better job than I. I weaned the distaste by writing during breaks and even long after working hours resumed. It took me a while to realize how intrinsic writing was for me and how essential it was to trek unchartered territories to follow a dream. As the saying goes, things that are worth having don’t come easy. I held myself back because I was afraid it was too late, that I had a slim chance of getting into a writing program because of my background. As it turns out, courage was all I needed, not to say that it was easily acquired. I had to muster what little courage I needed for years, but when the time came to decide, my heart was single-minded.
I am now in my third semester as a Creative Writing student. When classes started last Thursday, I found myself holding my pen and staring at the blank sheet of paper, attempting to conjure a story that starts with Italo Calvino’s famous sentence: “When I woke up this morning, the dinosaurs were still there.” As I sat there huddled with my fellow writing students, delighted at the possibilities of fiction, I felt the familiar sense of belongingness rush in again. So I whispered to myself, “Hello, passion. I have found you at last.”