Strictly Mine?


Last month, I started a six-part series telling the story of my uneventful college life and how I managed to survive it. I intended to end the series on my graduation day. Now, it has been more than a month since I posted the third part and the fourth is still a shabby first draft.

I can give a handful excuses as to why I could not write it:

  1. reading
  2. getting as much shut-eye as I could to make up for the sleepless nights
  3. watching T.V. because I have not in months
  4. job applications
  5. some more reading

But to be honest, there is just one reason why I cannot proceed to writing it:

Some stories are painful to tell because they are built by memories that we would rather forget.

My junior year in college was the toughest year of my school life that I used to worry so much for my mental health. I got past through it, alive and whole, but thinking about it now opens up a hodgepodge of distasteful emotions that I fought so hard to keep bottled deeply inside all these years. They are just too intimate that I could just not find the right equations to show you how I came to here. It feels like I should not be sharing it because it is strictly mine. But still, a part of me wants to tell it — to unleash the monster that I managed to tame. A part of me wants to say that it is possible to fix your own brokenness, to make yourself whole again — not necessarily the same but whole and new.

Right now, apart from typing this rambling post, I am trying to write it for the nth time — not exactly writing sentences but rather gathering the courage to share a story that I believe is strictly mine. Wish me luck.

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The College Playlist: Sophomore Year


This post is 3rd in a six-post series.

It’s four more days before my eighteenth birthday. Thus, I write:

In a few more days, I will be turning 18. I believe every girl waits for this special day — her debut to the society as a full-fledged woman. I can see that most see this coming of age as a rite to liberation, the grant of freedom to drive her own car in this road of life. It sounds enticing — I would not deny that— but I must admit that it scares me more than it excites me. If there is a name for the fear of independence, then I guess I have that. It is not something to be proud of but honestly, I am afraid of being left to care for my own self.

When I turned fifteen, it dawned on me that, though legally a minor, I am no longer a child. Since then, I began to feel what Wendy Darling must have felt ―longing to go back to Neverland to escape the growing complexity in life. But Neverland is now just a memory that I can only treasure but never relive.

To be a child is the most wonderful experience any person can have. When an older person reminisces her childhood days, it is often that she will recall fond memories of a life full of laughter and hope and devoid of worries and fears.It was an uncomplicated life that is so full of magic. Then, she can be anything ― a princess, a mermaid, or even a ninja! But slowly, the magic wore off,taking away the identity she had created for herself. From someone who viewed her life and herself with certainty, she becomes someone searching for the person she is made to be. She becomes lost for the magic is gone and all her hopes went with it.

Where has the magic gone? Why is it that as a person grows up, she seems to slowly lose the hopes that she once held dear as a child? Why is it that learning more of this world creates worries and fears in an adult who should have been more confident for being more equipped with knowledge acquired from experience? They say it is because a child is innocent for her world is usually and merely confined within the home and the classroom.Growing up is accompanied with the gradual but eventual expansion of her little world into a place that widens her perspective of life. It is then that she sees the life beyond the delicate bubble she was clothed in as a younger person. She sees reality as opposed to the sweet and perfect little world that her family created for her. When the curtain is drawn, the reality that she sees is vulgar and prejudiced, never serene and perfect.

The world is not always fair. Sometimes, no matter how hard you work for the things you want so badly, you cannot even come close to your goal.  The lack of justice in the circumstances in life used to depress me. I used to stand up indignantly and tried to defy it but I never did. It was a way too strong force that I cannot manage to vanquish. I guess I am really not the brave soul I was trying to be. Maybe I am just a vulnerable girl with a fragile spirit. This is why I cling so much to my family. I need them to live. I cannot survive on my own.

Nowadays, I live by fear. Being fearful has become a way of life for me and it keeps me living. Every single day since Daddy died, I have feared for tomorrow. That fateful episode of my life showed me how hostile life can be. Since then, I have waited for tomorrow with fearful anxiety, knowing there is so much more misfortunes that could happen. I start each day with a prayer asking God to please ease my qualms and conclude with a yet another prayer with gratitude for another day passed. Thankfully, He has never let me down but still, the fears remain.

I admire the children who live each day looking forward to the next, beaming with so much hope. I was once such a child, optimistic about my future and sure of my place in this world. Now, I no longer know who I am or what I want. The future is vague and I can hardly have a glimpse of the imminent life that the present offers me. I have no choice but to simply keep walking, my childhood dreams in tow, serving as my lamp to combat the darkness of my chosen path. You see, childhood is a brimming cup of hope and I need to take a sip every now and then to rouse my sullen spirit.

I wish to be a child again. I wish to go back to the carefree days when no one expects me to be independent. I wish to be whisked back to Neverland and be eternally a child. But Neverland is a “never” land. It never existed and will never exist. At the stroke of midnight, the magic will wear off and the fancy dress and the carriage drawn by horses will soon be gone. There will be no magic carpets to bring me to places I have to go to. I have to carry myself from place to place by foot or public transport. A frog will remain a frog no matter how hard I try to love it. Kissing it will just give me a salmonella infection. Beasts will be beasts and they are not princes in disguise. There will be no three fairies to protect from the curse of an evil witch and a kiss will only bring me into a deeper slumber. Yes, the magic is all gone. You cannot simply live with hakuna matata.

As much as I want to be a child forever, I can never turn the days back. I must now start to look ahead and face adulthood to embrace it. No one ceases to grow up. We must and that is the only choice we have. Besides, it may not be that difficult. Even if friends and acquaintances come and go, I know my family will forever be with me in this struggle. And of course, there is my mom who never gave up on me.

So yeah, 18th birthday, I dread your arrival but I am here to welcome you nevertheless.

I am sitting at the cafeteria, having a breakfast of stale donut and iced coffee, nervously waiting for the release of grades in Inorganic Chemistry. Having failed Organic Chemistry in the summer, I don’t think I can afford to fail another chemistry subject again. Or any subject, actually, or else I lose my scholarship and losing it means having to drop out of school for good. It is unthinkable. I don’t want to break my mother’s heart.

Nibbling on my donut, I push the coffee cup away. It is not helping my nerves. A little while later, a classmate comes and joins me. He, too, is waiting for the grades. Being strictly acquaintances and having nothing to talk about, we make a polite conversation about school, especially Inorganic Chemistry. For some reason, I end up telling him about how I find chemistry subjects difficult and how I can’t afford to fail this one, too. Thus, he asks: “’Di pa ‘pag Pisay grad magaling sa DPSM subjects? Bakit…

He need not say anymore for I know exactly what he is trying to tell me: How come you’re not as smart as they are?

I shrug. I don’t know either.

We have reached an uncomfortable silence. He has a struck a sore point of mine and I do not know how to react because he is partly correct — I am not smart, at least, in his (and probably everybody else’s) perspective. But then, there is one thing that I do know: I am not stupid either; I can be smart in different circumstances. But I don’t know how to tell him that. He will not understand just as I still don’t.

He says nothing, seemingly waiting for my answer. I don’t know what sort of answer he is expecting (maybe an admission of arrogance and laziness) so I shut my mouth. After all, he thinks I am not smart enough so any answer will not matter to him.

Sensing my irritation, he excuses himself. He extricates himself from the awkward situation he started while I am left to torturously ponder why, after four years of special science education in high school, I still suck at science. Why I am not as smart as my fellow Pisay graduates.

I don’t know, I whisper to myself. That’s all I can give as an answer as tears stain my cheeks.

**********

“Ah, you’re going to med school!”

I have to stop myself from rolling my eyes. “Uh, no. I’m not.” I look away.

“But why?”

“Because I don’t want to.” Why can’t most people understand that?

She looks at me like I’m mad and I bite my tongue to keep myself from screaming, MED SCHOOL IS NOT THE ONLY OPTION! But then, I ask myself, Indeed, what other options do you have?

As if she can hear my mind, she answers, “Research — you can go into research.” I shudder. I don’t know. I don’t think so.

Despite the superb training that we are being provided by the school, I still don’t think research is a niche that I can dwell on comfortably. While I love learning, I am not naturally probing as a scientist should be. I have no deep-seated interest in what I am studying and instead, I just want to read the books and absorb as much as I can so I can pass. With all due honesty, science is not really my passion. I am no science geek.

Instead, I am a bibliophile — I love literature, I adore the written word. In a parallel universe, I am a literature major, preparing to be a high school English teacher — that’s the dream since I was little (although I originally planned to be a grade school teacher).

“I am actually planning to teach after college,” I say truthfully.

Her face lights up. “Ah, prof sa college.”

“Uh, no. High school.”

She looks at me, open-mouthed. “But why?”

“Because that’s what I want.”

“Why?”

I shrug. I don’t know how I can make people understand.

**********

“What will you talk about?” We are supposed to give an inspirational speech in a speech class and everyone’s been asking everyone this question.

“Hmmm… I dunno,” I answer, without looking up from my chemistry notebook. “Do I look inspiring to you?”

My friends laugh. They always love my self-deprecating humor. But underneath the badass student façade I like to keep, there is an anxious creature lurking, wondering what indeed should I talk about.

My problem, unlike most of my friends, is not what to talk about. Rather, it is which one to talk about. With a life that is very much like pushing a cart uphill only to let it drag you downhill uncontrollably, I can talk about so many life challenges.

I can talk about my family and my father’s death — Filipinos are notorious for being such suckers for the sob story. But then, I do not want to look kawawa because I don’t think I am.

I can talk about the contract I signed as a thirteen-year-old that practically bars me from taking all other paths except for one. But then, I do not want to offend people who would gladly switch places me because of that privilege I was granted when I was thirteen. I do not want to sound ungrateful, especially to the Filipino taxpayers who has sent me to school for the last six years.

I can talk about my school problems — how I can’t cope and catch up, how I am starting to believe I am really stupid. But then, I don’t want to sound like I’m whining because I hate whiners myself. Besides, my classmates, with their relatively comfortable lives, would never understand anyway. For them, I am just lazy.

Still pretending to read my chemistry notebook, I keep thinking what I will share to the class. I just know that I can’t talk about my current problems for these are not overcome obstacles. There are no resolutions (yet), no happily-ever-afters (that is never going to happen).

Thus, when a friend asks what I will talk about, I still answer, “Hmmm… I dunno.” Because there are stories that are painful to tell. But someday, when I finally understand how His great plan for me works, maybe I can give a true inspirational speech.

**********

We are cramming a problem set for chemistry and I have at least half left blank. A new friend nudges me. “Ano’ng sagot?”, he asks while pointing at an item.

I look at my own paper. It is blank, too. I laugh. “I don’t know.”

It seems that I still can’t understand, no matter how much I try. But it’s okay — someday, I know I will.

 

The College Playlist: Prologue


This is the 1st of a six-post series.

We both stare at each other, not knowing what to do. I smile at her. She smiles back, weakly.

I look at her and wonder, Who is she? She looks like someone that I used to know but I feel like I don’t know her.

She could have been pretty but there is weariness in her young face. She is too young to wear that face. My heart aches for her. I look at her closely, searching her deep brown eyes. They are impenetrable. I have never seen such eyes before. Never before have I seen such sadness. No, I tell myself, she’s a stranger. You don’t know her.

The stranger stares at me, too. I wonder what she sees. Does she know me? It looks like she does.

She starts crying. I try to console her but I don’t know what to say. She’s a stranger, after all. I smile again, hoping she gets that it means everything will be alright. Again, she smiles back, weakly. Her eyes show that she knows I’m lying. She knows nothing is fine.

I sigh and watch her sob silently. It seems there is nothing more that I can do for her. But I can’t bear to leave her. For we are alone, the girl in the mirror and me.

Rusty air


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He sleeps, unaware of the metallic odor that has permeated the air.

She lies in soiled sheets, breathing in the rusty air — unmistakable proof of her bloody sacrifice.

Rust forebodes corrosion, mother once said.

Wrong, she realizes. It is the delicious scent of liberty, a prologue to great days ahead.

image

Sweet Sixteen


Dear Batch 2016,

It has taken me this long to actually write this letter because for the past two days, all I could utter was FINALLY.

Finally, we got it. We did it! (insert Dora’s song here)

The word sounds so sweet, doesn’t it? No, not finally — WE. We, as a batch, finally made it happen after three years of consistently placing third. We proved that we are not entirely disparate, that we can work together as a team. We can be one.

To be honest, I was one of those people who lost the enthusiasm after last year’s disappointing results (yeah, still bitter about it). Somehow, most of us had managed to contribute something and shell out whatever ounce of time that could be pumped out of those hectic third year days so I really thought we could actually place that year. But we did not and it hurt badly even for me who was not even an active participant. That pretty much ruined the event for me. In those sorrowful moments immediately after being denied of that one thing we were all yearning for (and what I thought was already at our fingertips), I remember telling myself, Don’t give too much next year — it’s not worth the heartbreak.

But then, what makes it worthy of the heartbreak?

Love, of course. Anything worth loving is worthy of the heartbreak. And you, guys, are worthy of the heartbreak.

I know it is awkward to have this coming from me because I am one of those people who are quite detached from the batch — always the first one to leave after dismissal, the one who never attends parties, the one who always keeps conversations as school-related as possible — but I am not that insensitive to be oblivious or indifferent to all your efforts. I watched in wonder as our leaders attempted to save whatever scraps of hope are left from last year. Seeing them work so hard for it despite all the schoolwork (exams, thesis, NMAT, etc.) while I do practically nothing productive made me feel guilty. I felt guilty for losing faith on us and I felt unworthy to be among you.

To placate the guilt, I started praying the novena to St. Jude Thaddeus, the Saint of Desperate Cases, for us (all right, laugh all you want). But halfway  through it, I started asking myself, Are prayers all that I can offer? It’s not that prayers are useless. In fact, prayers are powerful. But was I incapable of doing anything else? I realized, that compared to you, I was being so selfish. I was not as stressed as you were — we were done with our proposal defense and I am not taking the NMAT — yet I was doing as little as I can just because I thought it was hopeless anyway. Then, I remembered something that I always used to tell myself every time I lose hope.

If there is really no hope left, at least do it out of love.

Then suddenly I saw that that was exactly what you guys were doing. For the past years we fought to win but this time I no longer saw the competitive streak we had before. Instead, I saw each one of us working hard for the sake of everybody else. This time it was done out of love. So I did the same, too. And it felt so good. It was basically giving without expecting anything in return — the purest kind of love.

So to all of you, especially the heads and the props team (woohoo!), thank you so much. Let us have a thanksgiving party after this sem, okay? I love you all so much.

Heart heart, Wencey ❤

P.S. And thank you, Sir L. for that 99. Not sure if we truly deserve it but it was a very welcome gift.

Regrets of A Savage Writer


This post is a response to The Daily Post’s Shoulda Woulda Coulda.

I should have said this.
I should have said this.

When rereading my journal entries, I often find myself cringing. My recent entries are, ironically, screaming mediocre when compared to the ones I wrote as a young teenager.

The passages are too clipped and are, therefore, boring. The handwriting looks like it was for a rough first draft. Instead of saying you’re, I wrote your. There are a couple of spelling mistakes. The placements of some punctuation marks are dubious and some even exist when there should be none. Those eyesore run-on sentences that I used to despise are all over the pages. And worst of all, I failed on the subject-verb agreement of several sentences. The writing is in a very sorry state, obviously a product of cluttered thinking and distracted writing. Obviously an indicator that I have become a savage writer. My Grammar Nazi, sixteen-year-old self would have disowned me had she known. Yikes!

At times, when trying to climb out the deep and dark pit called writer’s block, I ask myself, Whatever happened to you? I used to be that girl who could instantly produce a written output on command and could pump out more than a hundred words a day. Now, a great day means having somehow squeezed at least thirty words. It seems that my brain has totally rewired — I can deliberately blurt out plants’ scientific names (something I never thought I would ever do — I thought it was too nerdy) but I can no longer give a name to what I am feeling, much less describe it.

So what happened? Oh, I think I know. It is partly because of one stupid decision I made as a fifteen-year-old — my biggest regret in life.

My biggest regret in life, contrary to what my mother believes, is not Pisay. Pisay is actually one of the best things that ever happened to me. Rather, my biggest regret is choosing not to sign up for journalism class in my third year in high school.

It was the first day of classes and it was a particularly exciting day for us juniors for we were finally allowed to choose an elective class. We could sign up for whatever elective we wanted to take. We were free.

If I remember correctly, there were five electives available for juniors at that time— Electronics (I’m not sure about this for we just used to call it “Electro”), Robotics, Microbiology, Popular Law, and Journalism. Electro and Robo were out of question. Physics and computer programming both require dexterity with numbers which I, a notorious clinging-by-the-fingernails type of math student, obviously lack. Pop Law, I was told, would require a lot of memorizing. Hell, no.

So that left me with Micro and Journ (pronounced as “jern”). It was a no-brainer for me then. The final answer was Journ. It is not that Micro does not seem interesting. It is just that by that time, I had already apprehended that I had plenty of time for it in college while Journ was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So I made up my mind to take up Journalism as an elective subject. Until…

Until I caught a glimpse of who my classmates would be. Most of them were already writing for the student paper. All of them known to be good writers. In their presence I was stripped of the air of confidence I wore. Compared to them I felt like a nobody, a mere wannabe. So like a scared kitty surrounded by humans, I scampered off and immediately signed up for Micro.

Micro did not disappoint. I actually learned a lot. But just as I expected, everything was tackled again in college. In short, I wasted an opportunity to learn something new. I wasted an opportunity to be formally trained in writing. I wasted the opportunity to be tamed. And this realization is the reason why now, five years later, I am still mentally screaming at my younger self: Why did you chicken out?

Indeed, why?

Because I was afraid to be humiliated in front of all those kids who certainly knew better than I did. Because I did not want them to see right through me — a copycat who merely rewrites in much too pompous ways the things that were already written by published authors. Because I did not want to admit that I was far from flawless and badly needed help. Because I did not want to face the truth that I was not the only one who could do it. All reasons reflecting my younger self’s hamartia: arrogance.

Just because I had been getting compliments, I decided I was invincible. I thought I could do everything on my own. I was like Arachne who thought she could do without the help of the very being who gave her the gift of skill. Look at what this arrogance has brought me into. It eventually killed my art and left me swimming in what-ifs (I am quite surprised I have not turned into a spider — yet).

There is nothing more torturous than thinking about these what-ifs. The what-ifs are a result of the could-haves and are often satisfied by the acknowledgment of the would-haves. But if the would-haves fail and the what-ifs continue to haunt the person, then the could-haves are actually should-haves. Like they are now. Lately I have been repeatedly asking myself these same questions.

What if I chose to fight my fear of humiliation and signed up for Journ? Maybe I would not have been suffering from mediocrity now.

What if I managed to put on a brave face and actually tried out for the school paper? Maybe I would not have been so bitter now.

What if I faced the fact that I needed help? Maybe I would not have been the wild writer that I have become.

Now I know. I should have just signed up.

Tarantism


“Dance like nobody’s watching.”

While walking along Maria Orosa Steet one quiet Friday night, I saw two teeners dancing to disco music — literally dancing in the moonlight.

It was a long weekend and the otherwise busy street was practically deserted. The stores were already closed except for one eatery from which the blasting music was coming from. There were few diners, all of them distracted by the girls who seemed oblivious to the fact that all of us, diners and passers-by, were staring at them.

Honestly, I think they knew. They just did not care. They shimmied, waved their arms, and tossed their heads as I looked on, feeling a mixture of amusement and envy. How I wish I could do just that — dance like no one is watching.

I love to dance, even back when I did not realize that I do.

My mother always gleefully recalls how, at age one, I would be made to stand on a table while Macarena is playing in the radio. Much to their delight, I would willingly wiggle my fat body in odd ways that made all of them laugh. Then, she would often jump to when I was four, when I was made to represent my nursery class in a kiddie pageant. I was painfully shy and I just would not participate as enthusiastically as the other girls did. But when the talent portion came, she would proudly recount, I suddenly shined.  I was dancing as if I forgot about the audience.

In high school, I somehow managed to tame my stage fright and joined the dance troupe. I was not one of the best nor was I one of the popular dancers but I loved being there. The group gave me an outlet to express myself when the spoken word just would not suffice. I found a way to make people see me. I found a way to say, Here I am.

But in junior year I was made to realize that my grades are dropping consistently so I decided, out of desperation, to lighten my extracurricular activities and focus on my school work. Dance troupe was the first to go. Since then, the only connections I have with dancing are waiting for the next Step Up installment and watching old episodes of Dancing with the Stars (but to be honest, sometimes I am just ogling Derek Hough).

Quitting was not a big deal for me then. I thought it was just a hobby. Until I started getting strange cases of tarantism. For example, there was that one time in the supermarket. I was then choosing what brand of shampoo to buy when Thinking Out Loud started playing in the speakers. I swear I wanted to just drop my shopping basket and dance, right then and there. But of course I did not. That would have been disruptive!

Ed-Sheeran---Thinking-Out-Loud-video

This used to happen only rarely but lately, I noticed that I have been being bitten by the dancing bug quite frequently. It happens when I am strolling in the mall. It happens when I am supposed to be studying in the library. It happens when I am in the shower. It happens when I am counting sheep in bed. It happens anytime, anywhere. Every time, I hear a voice that urges me.

Do it. I know you want to do it.

But I tell her, No, what would people say?

That is the problem. It is no longer about quitting so I could focus on studies. I am now quitting because I am afraid of what other people might think. I am afraid that they might not like me dancing. I am afraid that I am not good enough.

But the voice is persistent.

You’re not dancing for them. You’re dancing for yourself.

And I realize that she is right.

I dance not for show. I dance not for pleasing others. Rather, I dance because there is too much music inside of me that somehow has to break free. I dance for myself.

So the next time the dancing bug bits me again, I will drop whatever I am doing and dance. I will just pretend you are not watching.

1347718706533024142dancing_girl_silhouette-md

Pisay’s Pabaon


May nalaman akong chismis,” a classmate announced as soon as I plopped my bag on an empty chair.

Ano?” I asked as I searched for my notebook in the black hole that is my bag.

“Pisay ka pala.

Uh-huh.”

Mahirap ba talaga do’n?”

Preoccupied with reading my notes I unwittingly answered, “It was actually more work than college.”

So there, I finally admitted it — that I actually had more difficulty in high school. Before, I did not dare say it even when it is true because I did not want to offend people. I was afraid of being called arrogant.

Even before releasing us into the real world, our high school teachers kept reminding us that Pisay graduates are often labelled “arrogant” by their colleagues in college. Back then I was still that girl who loved attention and cared about popularity so when I finally entered the university I made sure to blend in with the others — I did not want Pisay attached to my name. Whenever somebody asks where I am from, I always gave vague answers such as “Bicol” or “somewhere near Isarog.”

In a way, I have succeeded. My classmates do not treat me any differently even now that they know where I specifically am from (maybe it’s because of the bad and not-so-good grades I get). However, there are times when I still feel the pressure of people’s expectations and judgment. There was that time when a classmate inconsiderately asked why I was not good in chemistry when I am from Pisay. There was that time a professor gave me the look when I was wearing my Little Miss Pisay shirt (I swear all my school clothes were in the laundry and that was my last resort).

Having been educated in the special science curriculum in high school, people often expect me to excel in the sciences. Sadly, I am a disappointment in that. I only manage to pass, sometimes only barely. Often, I wonder why. Lately, I realized that it is because the best lessons I got from Pisay were not the ones that I learned in the classroom or the lab. Pisay’s pabaon to us, its graduates, is not really the vantage in academics but the life lessons that we painstakingly acquired.

Here are some of my favorites:

1. Pressure makes diamonds.

We were giddy eleven-, twelve-, thirteen-year-olds then. Most of us were achievers in grade school so we thought we could easily conquer high school, too. But from the first day we were already forewarned: Pisay life is going to be difficult. Pressure will come from every source imaginable. Thankfully, our campus director welcomed us by saying that without pressure, pure carbon will never become a diamond.

I know many will react negatively to this but I have learned in high school that pressure is necessary. Yes, sometimes it can be overwhelming for young teenagers for it exposes their weaknesses and makes them vulnerable. But without pressure, people tend to be lax. Thus, they waste the opportunity to maximize their potentials. Carbon remains carbon.

Pisay has helped us learn to respond to pressure effectively and made us see that we can be diamonds. We were taught to acknowledge our weaknesses and overcome them. We were taught to recognize our strengths and use them to our advantage. We were taught to be tough in order to withstand pressure. Pressure from Pisay education has made us strong.

2. Do not expect others to adjust for you.

I was pampered as a kid so I used to be self-centered. I made myself the standard and I did not hesitate to show my disapproval to anyone who chose to deviate from the standard I had set. In grade school, people tolerated that selfish behavior of mine so in high school, I initially found it hard to adapt. I expected people to adjust for me so unsurprisingly, the other kids eventually learned to dislike me. It took a year before I realized what was wrong but when I did, I became more sensitive to other people’s feelings. I learned to compromise and respected each one’s individuality.

Now, even when the university houses an even more diverse community, I am no longer shocked. High school has prepared me to be open-minded. I am not yet entirely unbiased (is that possible?) but I always remind myself to be careful to avoid offending others’ religious beliefs or gender preferences (I fail sometimes, though).

And when, on the other hand, I believe I am judged unfairly (e.g.”She’s from Pisay so she’s arrogant”), I always remember not to react violently. High school has taught me that being too defensive only breeds enmity and will never make the person change his or her mind. Instead of striving to prove them wrong, I have learned to consider if there might be truth in what others say about me and I try to change myself for the better.

3. Respect and trust your elders.

As teenagers, my friends and I used to make fun of our teachers’ mannerisms. Behind their backs, one of us will impersonate them and we used to have a good laugh about that. We would also disregard their advices and proceeded to doing what we want.

I regret doing so. I wish I had listened.

Teachers have been through high school before so they know what they are talking about. They know better than us. And best of all, teachers treat their students like their own children. That’s why we should trust them. Everything that they made us do, no matter how difficult it was, was for our own good. They only wanted us to succeed.

4. There is no shortcut to learning.

High school was not about the final output but we were made to take tests, do lab work, and make projects because we learn in the process. Thus, taking shortcuts defeats the purpose of being in school.

In my freshman year in Pisay, I had difficulty understanding Drafting and I struggled to finish my plates. Once I had been tempted to ask my mom to do the plates for me. It could have been a sure 1.0 for Mommy used to be an engineering major. But I decided against it and did my job. Sure enough, I got depressing marks on my first plates. But I managed to learn from my mistakes and eventually, my scores improved. Since then, I resolved to do things the long way even when there is an easy way out. I may have low grades in my transcript but the important thing is, I worked hard for those grades and I have learned in the process.

5. Life is not always fair.

These were the exact parting words that our campus director gave us, the graduating class of 2012, on our last Recognition Day in the school. It was just the perfect way to initiate us into the world of adults.

As young people, we tend to be idealistic and we want the world to instantly conform to what we think is rightful. But in Pisay we were told again and again that we cannot always get what we want and we have to learn to accept that. Whatever happens, life goes on.

It may be unfair that a certain person always gets higher marks even when he or she does not give as much effort as you did but there is no point in sulking. Some people are just naturally smart and we could not change that. I have learned that if I, too, wanted high grades, then I need to exert extra effort in order to compensate for my lack of intelligence.

It may be unfair that some girls unreasonably hate you and talk behind your back but you cannot force them to believe you when you defend yourself. People believe what they want to believe. I have learned that I cannot change people’s opinions about me but I should not let them change my opinions about myself.

It may be unfair that the boy I liked instead liked another girl who did not like him back but you cannot force another to love you and choose you instead. Everyone has the right to choose who to love. I have learned to be patient and wait for who is for me.

 

Right now, I am still a construction-in-progress and I am not yet the diamond that Pisay has intended me to be. But Pisay has done a lot to build the person I am today and I will be forever grateful. 🙂

 

 

Why I Prefer Writing Over Talking


Speech communication class is giving me the jitters.

There are four written requirements due next week and I have yet to study for the exam tomorrow. And also, there is the imminent delivery of speeches.

Honestly, I am not worried about the writing part, even if the due date is just a few days away. In fact, I am looking forward to it. I have not written in a while and this class gave me a legit excuse to set aside the science-y stuff and allot time for writing. And just imagine: writing for class credit. How much cooler can it be?

What I am dreading is the speaking part — memorizing the written speech and delivering it before an audience. Like three-fourths of the world’s population, I have the fear of public speaking, or glossophobia, as experts call it. In my case, however, public speaking is not just the issue. I hate talking in general.

I often feel uncomfortable when engaging in small talk. I cannot find my voice when a teacher calls me to recite in class. I make a fool of myself during oral interviews. I dread making and answering phone calls. I find difficulty in making a casual conversation roll smoothly.

It sounds absurd, I know. Talking is supposedly as natural as breathing. How can it be difficult? I do not know. All I know is that I have always had trouble communicating orally and it makes me always dissatisfied with my own self.

Why am I so afraid of talking? That question has been replaying in my mind since I was a little kid. Just a week ago, it was answered by the substitute teacher of my speech class. She said that a person fears public speaking because of the possibility that the audience might be forming negative judgment about him or her.

That is how I exactly feel about talking. I am afraid of how other people measure me based on what comes out of my mouth. I am always afraid that I may not be intelligible enough for them to be interested in what I have to say.

This is why I prefer writing — the more I talk, the more I realize that I am not as smart as I think I am but the more I write, the more I realize that I am not as shallow as I seem to be. When I talk, I feel stupid afterwards. But when I write, I get to explore the crevices of my mind and heart that I never knew existed.

Some people say that what is spoken is more reliable than what is written. They say it is so much easier to lie in writing as there are no body language and paralanguage to hint the truth. As one of our professors said, it is easy to attach a smiley to a message even when you are actually fuming in anger. She does have a point there but I believe that writing can be a more effective way of accurately expressing the truth if used properly.

Since speaking is a spontaneous process, words may sometimes be said without thorough thinking. Thus, biased opinions or hurtful words may slip from my tongue even when I do not intend to be unfair or mean. In writing, however, I can keep my feelings in check to avoid emotional flare-ups and I can weigh my opinions and ideas to refrain from being prejudiced. Also, I can rephrase my wording to exactly convey what I really mean to say.

Speaking can also be an ineffective method of communication if you have a limited vocabulary. When speaking in class or even when just conversing with my friends, I often find myself groping for the right words that would perfectly give form to what I have in mind. This is not much of a problem in writing. When I do not know the precise word to use, I can always seek the help of the thesaurus.

To make things short, I prefer writing over talking because in writing, I can always edit and revise. Speaking, on the other hand, is irreversible. Once something is out of my mouth, I can no longer take it back, no matter how much I regret saying it. The occurrence of complicated situations that may forever cause tension in relationships can be avoided in writing but in talking, these are inevitable.

But then again, talking is inescapable. As I have said earlier, talking is supposedly as natural as breathing. So I have to get along with it and learn to be a better talker. I really hope this class will prove to be helpful in lessening my fear in public speaking and in developing skills that will make me a better communicator in speaking.

The Centenarian


Warning: I am a terrible poet. Read at your own risk.

The Centenarian

I did not want to live a hundred—
it is too much bear!
To look back on yesterday’s sorrows
and live today in scare.

I did not want to live a hundred
and watch my children die.
For then, in their pain,
I could only cry.

I do not want to live a hundred—
a long life does not really matter.
If life has too little kindness,
then a short life is better.