Monday, May 30, 2011

Color Blindness

There's an episode in the Korean TV series My Girlfriend is a Gumiho that centered around a little white lie. Miho, the nine-tailed fox who is attempting to cope with human life, purchases a book, The Little Mermaid. She is happy to find a story that is a tad similar to hers--a creature who wants to become human yet has to sacrifice something for it. Childlike as she is, Miho expects the story to have a happy ending. Dae Woong becomes concerned; everybody knows how the said fairytale ends. The little mermaid is reduced to bubbles/sea foam, and as she vanishes she watches the love of her life together with his bride.

When Miho is sleeping, Dae Woong takes her book and tears the last page. The next morning, Miho is frustrated to find out that she will never be able to finish reading the story. Dae Woong tells her that she doesn't need the last page anyway because he can tell her what it the ending is. He says there's a happy-ever-after.

At first look, it might sound sweet. Of course Dae Woong doesn't want Miho to be sad, so he fabricates a Disney ending, which Miho believes. But in the long run, aren't they just living in a lie?

This applies to real life as well. I don't quite understand people who say it's completely okay to tell white lies. I may be the only one who has this thought, but a lie that is made in order to put smile on others' faces may be a little more painful--when found out--than a "regular" lie. "I don't want to hurt you", "I don't want to see you sad"--are these really reasons of love? If you really love someone, you will tell him or her the truth, no matter how much it hurts. Aren't the foundations of relationships composed of trust? Of honesty? Sometimes love is not enough. I've seen so many proofs about how half-truths and white lies destroy a relationship. Telling white lies all the time might lead to color blindness....*hint hint*

/random rant

Sunday, May 29, 2011


There's no trailer yet, no exclusive photographs of the shoot, no detailed news updates about the big screen adaptation of The Hunger Games. But this sole picture of Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen already sent my heart pit-a-pat-ing with excitement!

So apocalypse/Judgment Day, you can't happen yet until we HG fans have set foot on the movie houses to watch our favorite book in film form. :p

Etched on the Raindrops (Short Story)

"Don't talk of love 
Well I've heard the word before 
It's sleeping in my memory 
I won't disturb the slumber 
Of feelings that have died
If I never loved I never would have cried."

-Simon and Garfunkle | I am a Rock


 The first notes of Bookends slowly crawled to her ears. She attempted to calm herself with the song’s relaxing melody, and her heartbeats were already going in sync with it when someone suddenly nudged her ribs.  Without taking off her earphones, she twisted in the low stool and shot whoever was disturbing her music trip a deadly glare. Her eyes softened when she saw that it was Roark, who was now raising his hands in mock surrender.

“—ake it easy,” she heard him saying as she yanked off the earphones. “You look as if you’re going to attack me. I won’t fight you, you know.”

She looked up at him, trying to ignore her heart that went trip-hammering again. She noted that he didn’t change much in…what, five years? The raindrops that clung to his hair glittered under the bright 7-Eleven lights, reminding her of fairy dust and boys that never grow old in Neverland.

“Five years and you didn’t change much,” Roark observed, echoing her thoughts. He slumped on the stool next to her and raked his fingers through his hair. “How’s it going?”

“Fine,” she answered, turning off her iPod. “Half a score of teaching kindergarteners—five years part-time, five years full-time—and I’m loving it. What is it that you’re going to ask me?”

When he faced her, his eyes were alight with unreleased laughter. “Are you in a hurry? I know you don’t like small talk, but for chrissake Charlotte, it’s been half a decade since we last sat next to each other like this.”

She didn’t reply. She tore her eyes from his and stared through the transparent glass of the convenience store. The drizzle was slowly transforming into a steady rain, and the street kid that was tapping his dirty fingers on the 7-Eleven logo pealed himself from the glass door and played in the rain.

“I write,” Roark said. “Mostly I contribute articles to local magazines and broadsheet supplementary mags, but I also write storybooks for children. Guess we love working for kids, eh?”

She still didn’t react.

“Come on, Lotte,” Roark teased. “Didn’t you miss me? I arranged this date for us to talk.”

“Date,” she deadpanned, “in 7-Eleven? You’re kidding, right?”

This time he laughed. When they were still in high school, she remembered scribbling his laugh on the top of her mental list of favorite ‘natural’ music. The thought sent invisible fists of nostalgia to punch her stomach.

“This is where we first met,” Roarked said, “so I guess it’s a good place to start. Do you still remember that night? You’re seven, and you ran away from home because your father scolded you for playing with a dozen of spiders in matchboxes.”

“Ah, and spiders’ wrestling on stick,” she continued, smiling despite herself. “I bribed my little brother—five Cloud 9 bars, I remember that—so he won’t tell our father about my playthings. He didn’t keep his end of the bargain though, after he ate all those chocolates and I have no more to give him. So I got scolded and ran away. I swear I was a fully-pledged Girl Scout back then, but I never prepared and only brought a pink toothbrush with me.”

“And then I came into the picture,” Roark said with a grin. “I went over to this very stool where I’m sitting right now and offered you a sip of my bubblegum-flavored Slurpee. I thought you were crying because you have no toothpaste at home, and I said there’s a kiddie toothpaste that has bubblegum and tutti-fruitti flavors and thought it would be the same if I just give you something that tastes like it.”

They both laughed at their earliest memory together. Roark took her hand gently and she observed how her palm felt warm in the small cavern of his fingers. She wanted to pull away, wanted to know how he could magically change her mood, but she couldn’t. They didn’t say anything for a couple of minutes; they just stared straight outside, two twenty-seven-year-olds whose paths have fatefully diverged and converged again.

“Come,” Roark muttered under his breath. “I have something to show you.”

He ignored her complaints when he dragged her outside. Apparently neither has brought an umbrella, and when Charlotte was finally opting to just go back inside, Roark pulled her into the rain.

“Run,” he chuckled, letting go of her hand as he did a droll little pirouette and dropped out of the sidewalk. “Run, Charlotte! Let’s go!”

He dashed to the other side of the street and weaved through a dancing, shrieking swarm of street urchins. Even if almost all other sounds were drowned in the pounding downpour, Charlotte knew Roark was laughing because his mouth was open in childlike glee. She followed him in panicky little strides, cursing silently for choosing to wear wedge heels as she shielded her head uselessly with her cupped hands.

The raindrops were a witness to it. She tried to keep up with Roark but he was too fast, going too far away from her. Just as she was about to call his name, he turned around and reached out to her, his stance regal and ridiculous at the same time because he looked like he was just asking her for a dance. She caught his hand and they sprinted together, not caring about the splashing storm, not caring how absurd they might look to people around them. In that moment Charlotte swore she was a teenager again, swore that she possessed that happiness again, swore that maybe—just maybe—they could start another forever again, because the forever he promised her before ended suddenly that it took her a long while before she felt the pain, before she realized it was over…

Charlotte’s eyes were laden with tears when Roark stopped in front of an old establishment. Charlotte recognized that it was the bookstore they used to frequent when they were still teenagers. The business has closed two summers ago, unable to compete with major bookstores mushrooming around the city. Roark led her inside; she followed without a soundbite.

“I talked with Sebastian for this,” Roark explained as they climbed the stairs in the dark. “Good kid. He’s the son of Mr. Navarra—remember the good old man? He’d give us tea when we go here to read books yet never buy them."

“Of course I remember,” Charlotte croaked. She saw Roark looked at her and quickly looked away, as if he couldn’t take it if he would see her crying. “What are we doing here?”

In response, Roark flicked a switch and the fluorescent lamp splashed light over them.

“Welcome to my Paris, Charlotte,” Roark said in an undertone, his eyes fixed on something in the corner of the room. She followed his gaze, which landed on a tall triangular amalgamation of a pair of ladders and a multitude of books. There were smaller stacks of books around it, arranged in a way that it looked like they were mimicking buildings in a metropolis.

Charlotte giggled despite herself, nodding at the triangular thing. “Is that the Eiffel Tower?”

They walked over to the precious tower, and Charlotte pointed at the books that were her teenage favorites. She rubbed the dog-eared copy of The Unbearable Lightness of Being with her knuckles, lovingly tracing its yellowing pages. She saw copies of The Kite Runner, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Bridge to Terabithia, The Solitude of Prime Numbers

“Why Paris?” she asked quietly. She could feel him staring at her.

“I don’t know,” he whispered. “I guess it’s because they call it the City of Love.”

Charlotte laughed mirthlessly. “We’re not in love.”

She didn’t know why, but the lie that was intended to hurt him seemed to bounce back and rammed against her chest instead. She became aware that they were still wet from the rain, and it was cold, so cold that her teeth were chattering. She took her iPod from her pocket, muttered thanks that it was still working, and stuck one earphone to her right ear. She played Piledriver Waltz and forced a smile.

“But since we’re here in your Paris, what else can we do?” She curtsied and held her palm up. “Let’s dance?”

He didn’t even hesitate. He took her hand, slid his arm around her and held her while she fumbled to put the other earphone to his ear. They danced slowly to the music that only they could hear—and no, it was not the music from her player but the beats of their hearts, alternately jumping rapidly and slowly at every step. Their fingers fit like puzzle pieces that belong together, and Charlotte felt calm in his hold, like he was cradling her heart in the safety of his own embrace…until she remembered that her heart was never safe in his care.

The world resumed when Charlotte stepped out of his arms.

“I think I’ve you humored you enough,” Charlotte said with a sniff. “What is it that you’re going to ask me? That’s the very point of us meeting, right? You said in the email that you’re going to ask me something.”
Roark didn’t respond right away. He sat at the foot of the makeshift Eiffel Tower, nudging his loafers with his trembling fingers.

“Have you heard about the Plan of the Creation?”

Charlotte snickered sarcastically. “That’s it? What is this, Bible study?”

“Come on, listen to me first,” Roark said, his voice edged with peaking patience. “And it’s not the creation in the Bible I’m talking about. I read about this one while researching for an article.”

Charlotte stayed standing, even if she felt like falling down.

“According to this account, God sought for the help of all his angels to bring about the creation; He didn’t make everything all by Himself. God was the chief designer and He has His assistants, the angels. They worked in the Silver City and in the sky hung the Plan of the Universe. They were designers and architects, if that makes it easier for understanding. Every angel was assigned a Concept to design. Some were assigned Color, some were assigned Music, some were assigned Dimension. And a group of angels was assigned Emotions.” Roark paused for a second to blow at his cupped hands, as if to warm them. “Have you ever wondered how cruel the angel who designed the concept of Love was? And how intelligent he was, because science and philosophy and other branches of knowledge have tried to break it down, but no one has ever come to claim to find out the real Blueprint of Love.”

When he looked up, Charlotte didn’t see a guy in his late twenties who left her broken; she saw the boy she loved and will always love. The angel was cruel indeed, but if it weren’t for him she wouldn’t have shared a precious chunk of her life to the very boy slumped on the floor of this old building.

“H-he’s cruel all right,” she said, looking at her muddied heels. “Is…is that what you’re going to ask me?”

“No,” Roark said tersely.

Of course not.  She could feel the blow coming, because she knew all along what it would be. Still, she asked, “What is it, then?”

Roark stood up. “Why didn’t you attend my wedding?”

Because you’re the biggest goddamn idiot in this planet. Because you’re the dumbest and numbest creature that was ever created in this world. Because you play with people’s lives and promise them something and then leave them hanging, leave them bleeding in the open. Because you’re you, and there’s nothing I can do to change it…

Charlotte bit her bottom lip before she spoke. “You know, I read The Fountainhead just last summer and I found out why fate made it so that you and the novel’s main character share the same name. You’re both extremely selfish.”

That answer would suffice, she thought. She combed her hair with her fingers, stood on tiptoe, and planted a kiss on his cheek. She didn’t look him in the eyes when she left, because she promised herself that she wouldn’t let anything stand on her way to be part of a brand new world after stepping out of this building.

She put on her earphones and let the floodgates open; her history was etched on the raindrops that day, because they hid her tears and they were there when a spark of hope—a false one, apparently—bloomed in her heart as she and Roark ran. Maybe she would remember this every time there’s shower, and maybe it would hurt, but soon the rain would wash all the pain away. She knew that.

Roark slumped back at the foot of Eiffel Tower, crying.

He had the chance. That’s the very point of this meeting; he forgave himself and gave himself a chance to come and ask for her forgiveness. But he let it pass.

Didn’t she love him? He wanted to hear from her lips that she did and she still does, but what he received was just exactly what he deserved: to be called selfish. Because he is.

He didn’t tell her that there was no wedding. He didn’t tell her that he backed out the day before the wedding because he didn’t love the girl the way he loved her, that he made the biggest mistake of his life and that he wanted to rectify it. He didn’t say that the girl was hurt too, but he knew that he hurt Charlotte more and he had punished himself for both sins, in the years that they didn’t talk. He said nothing because he wanted to play safe, wanted to know if she still loves him before he said anything. And because of that, he failed.

Everything is in vain.

“I bet you’re laughing at me right now,” Roark said sotto voce, thinking of the angel who prepared the Blueprint of Love.


this story is dedicated to Cindy. For the intermittent but heartfelt messages we exchanged and the little stories enclosed in them. Cheers and be happy! :)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Summer Reread: Will Grayson, Will Grayson

John Green: the author who led legions of young adult readers in finding paper towns in a literary map of obsession and love; the man responsible for instilling in the minds of people that it is futile to find patterns for love, and then giving them hope despite the abundance of dumpers that may break their hearts; the guy who guided everyone out of the ‘labyrinth of suffering’ in more ways than we know.

David Levithan: the writer who established a LGBTQ utopia in YA literature; the man who rocked everyone’s socks with his infinite playlist of musical geekiness and literary prowess; the guy who provided a lover’s dictionary yet planted in the mind of readers that a lexicon of a thousand words will never be enough to define ‘love’.


What happens when John Green meets David Levithan? The same thing that happens when Will Grayson meets Will Grayson—a collision of two things that seem poles apart, yet when fit together form a perfect whole as if they are long lost pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. Together, they form a new masterpiece that they may not be able to create on their own.

I really like the story’s premise. The gist of Will Grayson, Will Grayson is more or less this: two guys with the same name but entirely different worlds bump into each other in an unlikely crossroad in Chicago. A little do they know, this chance meeting will launch their lives in life-altering directions…and they can only hope it’s for the better. With their friends tinkering helpfully with the hodgepodge of predicaments and newly established (and suddenly crumbling) relationships left in the wake of the ‘collision’, both Will Graysons know that they have just had the pivotal turns of their lives…and there’s no other choice but to face the consequences.

Now let’s talk about the title characters. The first Will Grayson is obviously Green’s because he’s possessing the author’s patented characterization of protagonists. I don’t know if anyone else noticed, but classic Green heroes are mostly 25% oddball/dorky, 25% lovesick, and 50% selfish—with all the parts encased in a fragile bag of skin that is always described as “cute”. Grayson has all three qualities (and the bag) except that they are present in smaller percentages; a bigger chunk of his personality is a magnet to the readers because even if he’s not very special—not famous-last-words crazy, not a washed up child prodigy, not an obsessive grammarian—he stands out by being the realistic reflection of a typical teenager. And he’s really confused. He’s clinging to the peak of his own bildungsroman while juggling the complicated diabolos of love and friendship.

Meanwhile, Levithan’s Will Grayson lies on the opposite side of the spectrum. My first Levithan book is Boy Meets Boy and I can confidently say that his Grayson is in no way coming from the same planet as the kids in the first book. Grayson is a snarky homosexual teen (in the early chapters he’s far, far in the closet that I bet he can almost see Narnia…or maybe some otherworldly place that made him the way he is). He is a manic depressive goth who is in love with a guy he met online. For someone who has illness, he is incredibly hard to sympathize with; his thoughts and overall demeanor are rude, bitter, and brutally realistic. I completely understand how many readers tend to dislike this character. I mean, who loves a character that will likely give you a dirty finger if you show him any hint of pity? He can’t even seem to finish a sentence without dropping an f-bomb. He’s dark humor on two feet with his voice reminiscent of Chuck Palahniuk characters, only younger and funnier. Paradoxically, between the two Graysons, I like the goth kid more. He almost has a four-dimensional weight…and he made me cry. :)

At the vertex of the Graysons’ relationship polygon is Tiny Cooper, a not-so-tiny gay friend of the first Grayson who is producing a musical play based on his life (I wish I was kidding). He’s the point of convergence of the two boys’ worlds, and he fuels the novel to go on when the alternating stories seem to diverge forever.

All in all this is a very good read. Green and Levithan were able to deliver messages of all kinds of love—platonic, filial, parental, straight or homosexual. Love knows no gender or physical appearances. Everyone is deserving of love, whoever you may be, whatever you may look like.

Two thumbs up for a great collab!

Summertime Bookwormism

visit my Tumblr or GoodReads

Summer may be slowly waving us farewell, but my being bookwormism-on-two-legs continues, like it always does. Several authors made me fall in love with them during the months of April and May, and my roster of literary rock stars gets longer as the rainy season enters. Because I'm a bum today (what's new? Gosh I really need a job), I decided to make a list on the updates in my bookworm world:

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Paper Towns by John Green
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman

New reads:
The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano
White Cat (Curse Workers book 1) by Holly Black
The Girl Who Was on Fire edited by Leah Wilson
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
1984 by George Orwell
Touching from a Distance: Ian Curtis and Joy Division by Deborah Curtis
Nightmares and Dreamscapes by Stephen King

Books that I already have but not yet read:
Red Glove (Curse Workers book 2) by Holly Black
Wide Awake by David Levithan
The Realm of Possibilities by David Levithan
Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me edited by Kate Bernheimer

....the list will undoubtedly get longer because my lappy's not repaired yet. XD


A Rather Cute Tale of Mythical Beastiality (Ok, I'm kidding...not)

Fantaseryes, you say? Korea has them too. One of ABS-CBN’s newest Koreanovelas, My Girlfriend is a Gumiho (Nine-Tailed Fox) sweeps the Philippines by storm, offering a fun medley of a story—a modern-day romantic comedy with a mythological twist.


Ever since I finished Boys Over Flowers ages ago, I can’t remember watching any other Korean TV series from the pilot episode to the finale with unwavering interest. One morning I caught my potato couch sister smiling widely in front of the tube, and I observed that she’s watching the commercial-trailer for a new Koreanovela.  The boy lead didn’t make much of an impression to me but the leading lady immediately caught my attention.  She’s called Miho—short for gumiho—a simple girl with tousled long black hair and clad in a white dress. Her posture gives her an aura reminiscent of Japanese horror movies (ever watched Ring: Zero, when Sadako’s still alive and she still does not wear her curtain of hair in front of her face? Yes that’s who Miho reminded me of). But when she flashes that dimpled smile, all the creepy vibes are driven away. She’s all sweetness and cuteness.

The scene that my sister’s grinning at: Miho doing some cute wriggling motions with her fingers as she calls after the guy (“Dae Woong! Gustung gustung gusto kita!”). The guy pretends to be annoyed, but when he faces away from Miho, he furtively gives a charming, self-satisfied grin. I’m a sucker for adorable things and with the two main characters radiating an odd kind of cuteness, I decided to watch at least an episode and see if I I’ll like it. And I did.

The premise of My Girlfriend is a Gumiho is simple. With his grandfather wanting him to attend college, Cha Dae Woong goes to the temple because he doesn’t want to study; he wants to be an action star. A female voice coerces him to draw nine tails on the 500-year-old fox painting in the temple, and he unwittingly releases the legendary gumiho. In different occasions Dae Woong and the gumiho saved each other’s lives. The gumiho, in the form of a beautiful woman, follows Dae Woong around because her Orb (“bead” in the Tagalog dub) or the source of her strength is inside Dae Woong, giving him strength after his fatal fall in the mountain. Dae Woong must now take care of the gumiho while the Orb is healing him, buying her food so she won’t eat him.Things get complicated when a half-human goblin goes to incarcerate Miho back into the painting and—much later—offers a deal with her that thickens the plot: becoming human.

I try to avoid spoilers as much as I can. I will be watching this series until the end, for sure. :)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tightrope Tiptoe (poem)

Leap from the pages of last night’s splintered fairytale
and pick up today’s clock shards,
stomped to pieces by the troll of your fears;
you’re hangover still—drunk by a bucketful of wishes
and a fistful of lofty ideals
but you tread on the borderline of dreamscapes anyway
and attempt to hold the pain in its place, to stay,
like a coffee stain that won't go away.

The highwire act of your life is up;
love polygons bounced as you toe across
the nylon string, one that is as fragile as your optimism.
The circus lights blink at you
like mechanical stars, and their brightness seem to mock
the gaping hellhole in your heart.

Flashes of images when you fell:
you hugging a pillow that is not him,
the nighttime silence lulling you to slumber,
and dollops of sunshine trickling down the side of a teacup
from yesterday’s breakfast.
You fell hard,
but it didn’t hurt.

AN: In the course of my short writing stint as the literary editor of our school organ, I’ve always wanted to choose the topic “circus” to be the theme of the lit page or even the literary folio. For some reason it never happened (the “hindrances” are a long story so let’s don’t even go there). Anyway, here’s a poem about love, pain, dreams, and the circus, particularly the tightrope walking. Will give a kiss to anyone who will know what the circus stands for in this poem. Haha.:p

By the way, I haven’t blogged—and Tumbl’d and FB’d and GoodReads’d (haha)—because our laptop still needs some repairing, along with my DSLR. This is all I could type while renting in a compshop haha. I’ve written a short story and five blog entries in freaking longhand (can’t blame a bum LOL). XD Prolly will put them all up this weekend. Toodles!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Babbling about iceberg people and undressing fictional characters

Last night, I was trying to complete the profile of a character I’m currently working on. She’s to star in a short story I have in mind (apparently plot bunnies are hyperactive when I’m bored, and they won’t stop reproducing as long as the light bulb of my eureka moment is still shining overhead).

While laying out her literary bones, a memory popped in my head. It was during our overnight stay at Sir Eros Atalia’s place for Imaginaccion XIII, and I was inspecting Sir’s shelf that was tacked in the corner of our working space. A DSLR camera precariously placed on the ledge of the second-to-last layer, dust-coated CPMA plaques and trophies, a framed photo of a young woman (“That’s his fiancée,” Marc told me), and literary folios from various universities wedged between dog-eared copies of Asian novels. It’s only a small shelf—about four feet tall—but it already granted us a peep at the life of its owner. The choice of books alone can give away an about-me chunk from the owner, more so a rack with a variety of things.

However, people are icebergs: there are so much of us underneath. That goes for fictional characters too because in a way they are also human, except that they are living on the pages and in our imagination. The things we choose, like, and want…they’re only a miniscule part of what we really are.

There was a book on the floor of our working space’s bathroom (yet another thing that tells us something about Sir Eros). I sneaked to the loo in the wee small hours of our second day, when everyone else was taking a power nap, and I picked up the book: Trip to Quiapo, a scriptwriting manual by Ricky Lee. I didn’t have the time to read it in one sitting so I just scanned it. I remembered reading a Dan Brown-ish snippet (something about a local movie with Jesus and Magdalene hooking up) and tips to create and know a fictional character.

Maybe the book was for the screen but the part I read applies to literature too. The book said that in order to develop a good character, you must know him inside out. You should see him naked—literally and metaphorically. Know all the blemishes and flaws, his most embarrassing memory, his worst fear. Know what makes him feel good, and his dreams and aspirations. Feel him under your hands, and in the end…give him the respect he deserves. Contradictory, right? You ripped his clothes—practically for your own benefit—and you respect him? That’s my initial reaction, but I realize it’s possible even without using the mechanical eyes of a scientist studying a specimen. You must learn to “love” the character.

Like how you love a real person, eh? Accept him and know him. It’s quite easier when it comes to fictional characters actually, because your pen and your mind control him. It’s complicated with people irl. No one controls them but themselves. Looking at their bookshelves or music collection—even if it does give you a peek at their lives, I reiterate—will only be the peak of the iceberg.

Sometimes these peaks can even ram into you to steer you into a false direction, or even sink the “un-sinkable” ship of your keen observation and perception. How complicated, really...

Monday, May 9, 2011


mother, n.
- a female parent | a woman in authority; specifically : the superior of a religious community of women | an old or elderly woman (from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

mother, n.
- that awesome woman whose job is to give love and care and teach me the best lessons in life and make sure I grow up well, and in turn would want to receive her daily salary--love and respect | a woman who, instead of being made up of bones and flesh, is made up of all kinds of awesomeness | the most beautiful woman on earth, that's why she's got the most handsome guy in the planet (aka Father) | SEE ALSO: Ana Theresa Adrid Casta (from the Bottom of Airiz Casta's Heart)

Me and mama at a family post-graduation date

Nineteen years and counting. It's amazing how mama can put up with a stubborn creature like me (but then again, she's able to tolerate my younger sister, who's technically the Queen of Hardheadedness). I don't really know what I'll do without her. Unlike other mama's girls, she isn't exactly my "best" best friend; she's never been my diary. Yes, she's my confidante sometimes but most of the time I just keep to myself. Andbutso like what other people are saying, mothers are superheroines. For one, they have Special X-Ray Visions. Mama sees through my walls--she knows what I fear, what I worry about, what I love, what would make me smile--almost everything, even if I'm not breathing a word about it. When I seem to lose my way, she'll fish out her Life Experiences' Compass and hand it to me, through her stories and comforting words. She's my cushion when I fall. She's my nebulizer when life punches the breath out of me. She uses her special Healing Powers, ones that can be conveyed through touch or mere words. It's an amazing mother thing, really.

She may not be able to read this blog post, but I'll show her how I love and appreciate her in the ways I know. She--along with all the loving, responsible mothers in the world--deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for Awesome. Since there's no such thing as that, I should at least continue to give her rewards everyday, the ones I indicated in my own definition of the word "mother" above. Make her feel like a queen everyday because I know that, in a way, she is. Show her my love and gratitude everyday in all the ways I can. Be her hope everyday.

Who needs to remember the date for Mother's Day when we can make it everyday?

Love you ma. :p

Post Graduation Ruminations

The Beginning of the End (and vice versa)

We write our own life’s stories. Last April 30, 2011, we Lyceans blotted the last page of the latest chapters with an inky period: GRADUATION. Flip the page—time to write the next chapter!


I know it’s a cliché, but I must concur that the best way to describe the ending of college life and moving on to work in our respective fields is to compare it to a book: one chapter ends, another one starts. I’ve been reading and reviewing books for years, and when I look back and do some introspection about my life right now, what I’m imagining is close to a novel-format (I know I’m not the only one! But just in case, let’s just blame the bookworm in me here, okay?). It’s practically got everything, from flashbacks of the character in the first POV to the twists, turns, and loopholes of the plot; from the cool sidekicks and partners-in-crimes to the creepy goons and villains; from the initial build-up, the climax, to the dénouement.

They are all the literary ingredients that were tossed in the bubbling cauldron of our college life—stir, stir!—until the product is presented in the end: people who are armed with knowledge and experience but are definitely welcoming more in the succeeding chapters of our lives.

There’s a lot to miss in student's life at LPU. It has taught me a lot of things because whether I’m inside or outside our classroom, it’s shoving an awful lot of nuggets of wisdom down my throat. We learn every day about academics and relationships. We cry, we laugh, we bellyache, we procrastinate, and we laugh some more. Learning proved to be easier when we’re having fun. Problems do appear, but why wallow in worry? :D There’s our circle of friends. There’s your family. There’s God. There’s the wonderful creature that is called “you”. Optimism is hard sometimes, but it’s the best way to enjoy the college-coaster-ride.

One thing about college? It contributes a lot to our growing up. We will never forget that.

The Never Agains

Never again would I groan when the mechanical call of my phone's alarm clock--signal that another long school day is in order--shakes me out of slumberland (times when I force myself to get up anyway because I know I haven't done my homework last night).

Never again would I squish myself in a Sardines-Can-on-Wheels (more popularly known as the LRT) while I glance nervously at the station's clock, afraid that I might be late for the first class.

Never again would I stop at Park and Ride to buy a couple of chocolate-filled waffles because I skipped breakfast. Or at 7-Eleven and buy C2/bottled water.

Never again would I complain quietly about the lack of network signal as I walk in the underpass, attempting to text my classmates, "nasagutan mo ba yung Pagsubok 3?" or "nakapag-review ka na ba sa JPL? May quiz diba?"

Never again would I walk on the cobblestones of the gardens leading to the Parian, frowning at the grass and thinking, "Nung freshman pa kami diyan lagi kami tumatambay eh."

Never again would I cross the almost-broken drawbridge and greet former classmates who are on their way home.

Never again would I fumble for my ID (nervous that I might have left it at home, oh no!), standing in front of JPL's statue, and swipe it as I enter the school.

Never again would I stop on the stairs on my way to the third floor, fish out my inhaler, and take a few sprays.

Never again would I comment on the canteen's expensive meals and yet continue to buy there (like I have a choice when there's so little time).

Never again would I roll my eyes whenever the vendors in the canteen will give a couple of candies as change because they don't have coins.

Never again would I worry about library books' due dates.

Never again would I drop by the Sentinel's office before class, if ever I'm early.

Never again would I experience the joy of being a Sentinel staffer, writing for the paper with love, and making new friends in and outside the circle I've always known since I was a freshie.

Never again would I stay up late at night to do an assignment, and yet I spent all the time on Facebook and Tumblr so I end up promising myself to wake up early to finish all school stuff.

Really...there are so many never agains. I never really thought much about them until I returned my rented graduation gown last week. I would never be a freshie, sophie, junior, or senior Lycean again. The notion pinches my heart a little. But what can I do? I have to move forward. I can look back and laugh and cry at the memories. All I can do is treasure them, and acknowledge that all of these became a part of me as a student. :')

Summer Re-Reads: Paper Towns

We’ve already heard that hackeneyed maxim about the journey being the destination. I have encountered a lot of novels attempting to embed this saying to the roots of their very plotlines, but nothing really stands out in exemplifying its deep meaning in a new level…save John Green’s books.

Here’s the thing about Green’s novels: if you’ll zoom out, you can see the obviously formulaic patterns that serve as the backbone storylines. Geeky, quirky protagonists? Check. Funny, interesting sidekicks? Check. Attractive, enigmatic girl that our dweebish hero is so enamored with? Check. There are even road trips in almost all his books, and the main characters seem to be always looking for something/someone. Despite these dead ringers of story foundations, what still made me a Green fan (and further gave birth to my inner nerdfighter-ness) is that if you zoom in and zero in on the story carefully, you’ll realize that the novels are all different at the core. An Abundance of Katherine’s real ‘road trip’ isn’t the literal one, but the trip that Colin takes where he reaches at the end a realization that relationships cannot be mathematically predicted, and that he matters, maybe not to the whole world but always to the person who can be the whole world to him. The ‘trip’ in Looking for Alaska is Pudge’s pivotal turn in his coming-of-age journey, one that pops out in the middle of the book with an emotional and moral blow that rippled throughout the second half of the book. Paper Towns is a different beast entirely, and here’s why…

Quentin ‘Q’ Jacobsen has always been smitten by his childhood friend and classmate, the spunky and adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman. He has always loved her from afar until one night when she—dressed like a ninja—barges into his room to summon him to a revenge campaign. Just as Q thinks he is already seeing the real Margo up close, she disappears. Q thinks that Margo leaves clues for him, urging him down a disconnected path that may lead to where—or WHO—the real Margo is.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again: Green is adroit in juggling hilarity and poignancy. I’m already familiar with Green’s style, but the way he pulls off the ‘moving’ parts in this book is different. It has a similar feel to Looking for Alaska—only raised to the tenth power. At the surface, the story is telling you to find where Margo is when in fact the real mystery is finding her identity. It almost feels like a metaphorical, hardboiled crime fiction. Green leads the main character into a journey he will never forget, tagging along the readers with him. Through the labyrinthine set of clues ranging from paper metaphors and fragments of Whitman poetry to carefully selected music, Q unwittingly creates his own map to a destination he never planned—finding not Margo but finding himself instead. In many ways as pointed out by the book, Q is very similar to the hero of Moby Dick.

Paper Towns is divided in three parts (The Strings, The Grass, and The Vessel), all of which are accounts of journeys that reveal something about the characters. Aside from being driven by the characters, the story is also strongly propelled by the building blocks of deep thoughts and ideas that propped up the cliché-ish plot.
A story of obsession, friendship, romance, and life as a whole, Paper Towns is one of the most memorable bildungsroman for me. It’s my fourth time reading this, and still never ceases to move me.

Next re-read: Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Summer Re-Reads: An Abundance of Katherines

Is there actually a formula for romantic relationships? Colin Singleton, protagonist of John Green’s second book, An Abundance of Katherines, thinks he can make one.

Colin Singleton: washed-up child prodigy, anagram-crazy, and has been dumped by nineteen girls named Katherine. He wallows in the Katherines-induced depression, until his overweight Judge Judy-loving Muslim friend, Hassan, drags him into a road trip to give a solution to his love problem. Colin works on his Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationships. As they arrive in Gutshot, Tennessee, they encounter the factors that may drastically affect the variables in Colin’s Theorem. Strewn with anagrams, graphs, and quirky characters with an equally quirky plot, An Abundance of Katherines is a funny, intelligent, and a poignant read.

This novel is more than what it seems. It’s not just a story of Dumpers and Dumpees; it’s also a story of mattering in the world, being unique in the simplest ways, and being the real you no matter what other people will say about you. The droll dialogues and plot turns did not make the novel trivial, nor did it slacken the importance of all the morals.

What convinced me that John Green is a really amazing author is that he can deftly weave characters that you’ll love, even if they’re unlikable from the very start. Colin is such a character—egotistical, hungry for attention, and almost always sulking about his failed romances. Overlooking the fact that he is a classic John Green protagonist (nerd or always smart to a fault), I have to admit that it was hard to like someone like this character. But the author brought the better side of Colin through other characters and events that molded him into what he really is. Definitely showing, not telling.

I have to admit that there are times when the plot is so sluggish that I’m tempted to skip some pages, but I think that it's necessary for the characters to develop. I particularly liked Hassan, the funnypants sidekick. Things tend to get more interesting when he’s around, especially that he is one of the most powerful influences on Colin’s character development—and vice versa. As for the other characters, well, they’re quite ordinary. Lindsey Lee Wells didn’t quite stand out, I think, although her relationship with the protagonists is really interesting. She felt a little cardboard-y, if you know what I mean.

All in all, this is a good read. I laughed out loud a lot, and that’s saying something because I don’t really laugh out loud while reading and it’s the second time I ever sat with this book. I don’t love math, but because of this novel I learned that you can have fun with the subject if you want to. :) The hilarious footnotes sort of remind me of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s collab work, Good Omens (which is awesome by the way, go read it).

Next reread: Paper Towns.