Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Inside my head

One day I'm singing happy songs on a roadtrip to Tagaytay, the next I'm blurting out "I'm inexplicably sad today," and I just lie in bed excessively, staring at the ceiling, waiting for the next trigger so I can escape loneliness and go back to being happy again.

They must have a name for it. I'm not bipolar, I'm also not clinically depressed. But I did test positive for hormonal imbalance. So maybe I'll just charge it to that.

My triggers are everywhere, sporadically finding me in the most inconvenient moments of the day, like maybe at 6pm when I'm assigned to write the lead story for a newscast and I can't think -- my mind just blacks out, and my palms become uncontrollably twitchy and sweaty and there is a strong urge for me to shout but I can't and that only makes it worse.

Sometimes the trigger can be as simple as a song; for example, hearing something which played at a certain moment in my life I would rather not remember. I associate things/people/moments to songs and when something plays and brings up a memory - I lose it and can never figure out how to snap out.

But at least I know where it's coming from. The worst moments are when it just hits me from nowhere, like a sudden whiff of air, or a movement from my periphery, or just a case of deja vu, and I'm thrown off. Like tonight after the newscast aired, I felt a turn in my stomach -- probably because I have not had dinner yet but instead of accept an invitation to eat, I wanted to go straight home and sleep, because that's when my mind is most peaceful, when I'm in the comfort of my room, safe from the world and its cruel elements.

So then I sat up to try and write it down. Another attempt to make sense of it, that maybe as I type words here I'll stumble upon an explanation at least, if not an answer. But the city lights outside my window is such a terribly sad image, causing my heart pain, worsening by the minute, the sound of the fan whirring like a broken sound to a broken cassette or something. Something must be up, so I rack my brain for sign of where this sadness must be coming from, but it's giving me nothing.

When this happens, I usually blame it on the obvious. I let a wrong graphic illustration air tonight, on my own segment even, after that I wallowed on heartbreaking internet posts from Paul Walker's daughter, and then of course, I remember, I have not had dinner yet.

But my stomach feels full and my brain is telling me that any minute now I may want to vomit but of course I won't --- in reality, my stomach is empty.

So I just stare mercifully at my downloads tab, I'm expected to have fresh episodes of sitcoms in 20 minutes -- maybe that'll solve it, but my wifi suddenly broke down and 20 minutes became 20 hours and then 20 weeks and that stretch all the more caused me anxiety, like being on a rollercoaster and never knowing when it's gonna stop.

Then The Wombats' Let's dance to joy division played. I remember listening to this last year, on a bus, on my way home from my teacher's mom's funeral in the province, and I remember feeling not happy, but content.

And it just washed away everything that's been occupying my head for the last 2 hours and finally -- thank God -- it snaps back into focus so I can do what I set out to do -- which is to squeeze in some work before I sleep.

Over the years I've learned slightly how to deal with it; I've learned never to force it by doing oe thinking of something happy and expecting it to just go away -- it never does -- I've learned not to attach to it too much -- I can't explain it but I've learned that just as bad triggers are everywhere, good triggers are too, I never know what to look for but somehow, I end up finding it -- like tonight, through a song.

There's a relief in the heaviness of my chest and I no longer feel I have to vomit, the space around me is slightly spreading out, I'm not fully normal yet, but I'm better.

And that'll have to do for tonight.

Until the next time.

So yes, hormones, you're a real bitch.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Tacloban afterthought

As my cameraman so vividly described it, Tacloban looks like an effortless set of Walking Dead. "Natural na natural e, 'no?," Kuya Leo quipped. I was with the most veteran producers and cameramen that day but Tacloban was unlike anything any of us had seen, covered or even heard of before. The easiest videos were tracking shots, anywhere you point your camera to is an image of destruction, fallen trees, damaged houses, cars and posts flung into whatever piece it was that was also once part of something else.

And that's how Tacloban is right now -- once part of something else.

We had with us an ample supply of water and snacks to last us an entire day of coverage. But human nature told us to hand our bottles of water and packs of bread to Taclobanons instead. But it was not that easy. It had been 6 days since the typhoon hit, the grief of lost loved ones and devastation of lives hovered in the air that stunk of smell of decaying bodies and what is left is their gut instinct to survive -- to eat, or drink, and to find ways to do that at all cost.

If we hand them water or bread and not have enough for everybody else, there will be chaos. We had to be discreet.

And once we found an opportunity to help, we grabbed it. But it only made our hearts ache even more because we knew that not only was that bottle of water or piece of banana not enough for a person's daily need, they also wouldn't fill whatever it is that's missing.

People who look like they were rich and those who look like they were poor now all look the same -- dazed, clueless, but also, very determined.

Folks at the airport complain of having waited days for their spot at the C130 plane and never getting their turn. "Padrino system, ma'am e, kung sino ang may kakilala ng army, sila ang sinasakay," a man told me the second I stepped out of our own plane. This sentiment would be repeated through numerous people as our coverage progressed.

'May number ba kayo na pinanghahawakan,' we would ask. 'Wala,' they would all answer.

They would tell us stories of how men rob houses in the dark, and worse, even rape women.

Residents at the Redemptorist Church of Tacloban City said that the number of evacuees at the parish would increase at night, because some families are scared to sleep in their own homes, and would take shelter at the house of God.

Whether these stories were true or just concoction of hungry stomachs and hungry souls were not the point; the point was that these stories were borne out of desperation and frustration.

Frustration out of the fact that planes come and go during the day and yet the army had not formulated a system of who can hitch a ride and when. Frustration out of the fact that on the 6th day of post-typhoon tragedy, no main command post had been established; people didn't know where to go.

They keep their ears open for rumors of relief operations, oftentimes coming from independent organizations and volunteers riding in trucks, providing what their government could not.

"Narinig lang po namin sa isang babae na may tubig dito."
"Sabi dito raw magpapalista pero ewan ko kung saan."
"Nakita ko lang may mga dala silang plastic kaya sinundan ko."

That there had not been an established system by the 6th day baffles me. DSWD Sec. Dinky Soliman admits there were delays because "it is a complex emergency," roads were closed for days, she said, flights were limited, she said, "but there is government presence here," she said.

Yes, there is presence, but what was needed was so much more than just being there, the people of Tacloban needed them to function, to be efficient, to maximize the resources, to come through.

On the 6th day, there already exist towers of boxes and sacks of rice, truckloads of water and clothes, and yet, they sit inside dark rooms and factories, on the ground at the airport, only because there is bureaucracy involved. There is a process, of documentation, of waiting for authority, of inventory -- a process that eats away at precious time that survivors could have spent eating, or healing, or even feeling like they are being taken care of, that somebody was looking after them.

But no.

People felt helpless. They don't know whether to go to the airport and wait for a plane, or to the terminal for a bus, or by the streets for kind strangers in vehicles. Whether to be mobile to chance upon relief trucks or stay still for help to come to them.

You would expect that for a country always plagued by calamities such as Yolanda, our government would be better prepared, you would expect them to make wiser decisions, to know what to do when everyone else don't.

There was not even a medical post, where people with injuries could be tended to, where children could get medicines for diarrhea and fever, where infants could get vitamins.

At the same Church, we ran into a group of volunteer doctors from Iloilo who had flown to Tacloban armed with supplies; they were doing the checkups, the stitches, they were handing out tablets and capsules and evacuees lined up in peace, thankful that help had come.

You see, the survivors' tendency  to be violent and disorganized come from the lack of assurance that help would come; when the situation force it to become every man for their own, but when they know that there is someone behind them, order would ensue on its own.

But that was the problem, no one felt like there was someone behind them.

A lady we gave a ride to told me she was experiencing shortness of breath but walked the distance from the street that was serving as their home to the airport where the DOH was stationed -- they were turned away due to the lack of supplies. That night, another lady suffered what could have been an asthma (or even anxiety) attack but was again turned away by soldiers who told us "sabi ng doktor, wala na po."

We prodded and prodded and against our ethical convictions, intimidated them with our camera lights until they gave in and took the lady in. I wonder what would happen if we weren't there.

To be constantly told no, to be denied, to be offered nothing when you had just lost everything is devastation at its most cruel definition.

Other countries have praised our resiliency, amazed at how we find the ability to laugh and find the silver lining; they have celebrated the richness and kindness of our spirits to be going through such a tragedy with much hope and determination --

but we could only be patient for so long.

When our strength wavers, we should be allowed to break down. And damn it, our government should be able to cushion that fall, help us stand up and say "here, I'll show you the way."

I don't know whose fault it it is. But something in the system failed, and the fact that it's not the first time it did should serve as an awakening for every single one of us to hold those we elected accountable, to demand much of them, because it's their job to be demanded and it's their job to deliver.

We cannot just run on pure hope and faith every time. To do so would be giving the government a free pass to screwing up and allow them to abuse us, use us, and eventually, destroy us.

*Opinions expressed here are the author's own and do not reflect those of her employer

Sunday, September 29, 2013


When I was 15 and fell in love the first time, the general rule was not to act on it. Wait for him to fall in love with you, they said. Don't ever tell him your feelings, they said.

I told him anyway. And it could just have been the most empowering thing I've done in my life. The role women were imposed with is just unfair. There's a concept of self preservation across cultures and as Filipinos, we are expected to mirror Maria Clara and wait for us to be wooed in the azotea by a handsome, young, dashing man. 

Well, I live in the topmost floor of a high rise condominium, no one's ever going to  woo me from below. 

When I told friends what I did (and even now when I retell the story) the general sentiment is that it's gutsy.

Damn right it's gutsy. But what I can't bear is the injection of whether I felt defeated because rejection was made worse by the fact that I told him. They think that if I hadn't, years of dwelling and the ultimate rejection in the end would have made for a more graceful exit. I can't understand why a girl telling a boy she loves him is so "ungraceful." 

If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't change a thing except that I should have told it more. I said it just once, and I went years thinking that once is enough. It wasn't enough, for a love that (I think) molded my coming of age; for a love that served as a muse for my writing growing up; the kind of love that taught me about what it means to have self esteem, how it feels to lose it, how to get it back, and ultimately, how to grow up the kind of person that doesn't need another person to feel complete, once is never enough.

Yes, I laid my heart bare and fragile. Like putting it on a table and giving him the permission to break it, as many times as he can because it's okay --- it's okay to have my heart broken if only to mean it did something. 

And I think that's my victory. People see it another way, because I'm a girl, I'm the one who lost, I'm the one they pity, I'm the one who was left behind. Well, fuck that. I took control of my destiny, I didn't just wait and depended for the other person to say when and whether or not I can love him. I wanted to love him, that was my decision, and at the end of the day, I stood tall, called it a defeat, but never a failure.

I did everything I think I should, how can you call that a failure.

I write this as I cross another threshold in my growing up stage --- after 6 years of being in love with a person who can't find it in his heart to fall in love with me -- and 2 years of struggling to define "feelings," never quite putting my finger on it, sometimes confusing being comfortable with another person as maybe love, and then maybe not, I finally felt certain that whatever this is I'm feeling --- it's not just any other thing. 

And again, people tell me: you can't just do all the first steps. 

Why not? It's not everyday I feel this way, to stumble upon a person one day and just realize, the butterflies are back from years of wandering around. 

I haven't decided what I'm gonna do yet, but I'll leave it with this: whether you're a boy, or gay, or bi, and especially if you're a girl, when you feel feelings, you act on it, be smart, be dignified, be "graceful," but be gutsy, tell him, tell him straight and don't be scared of falling flat on your face because when you do nothing, that's when you fail. 

Forget people, it's not what they say that matters, it's what that person will say -- and whether it's a rejection or affirmation, you got your chance. 

Not everyone gets a chance. Take yours.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The story of co-dependence: How I became so clingy

There was a time when I would answer calls from friends with a rude, "I don't want to go out." Sometimes I don't even use words, sometimes I just grunt. And then from that, I just became the sort of person who asked every single one of her friends on a Friday night what they were doing for their Friday nights and whether they'd like to do it with me.

This is a story of co-dependence. Or just simply the explanation for why I have been so clingy lately.

People around me should have a historical context. I have one sister but we were not close growing up. My childhood was spent proving to adults that unlike the other kids, I don't need an Ate to guide me. And because my mom was abroad most of the time, I also wanted to show everyone I don't really need parents.

Sometimes, I also like to show my friends I don't really need them. This is why I don't say sorry unless I feel I absolutely have to. It's not that I don't like to say sorry, it's because I don't feel sorry. I'm also not the first person to patch things up. It never occurred to me like I'm the one who has something to lose. If they leave, it wouldn't really make much difference.

This is how friends would describe me now. Someone with zero emotional quotient. Walang puso. Gustong mag-isa.

And they have evidence, too. They would offer to accompany me for lunch but I would insist on eating alone. They would ask to come over my house but I would explain that I really would rather be by myself. Weekends were spent with me left at peace with my laptop, and I would be completely happy doing just that. I just really never felt the need to be with another person - I've always felt like people take too much space, like it's an effort to talk and make them feel comfortable when I could just be enjoying the silence and solitude. Simply put, I just couldn't be bothered.

This also explains why I'm not a text person. (So if you ever felt like I've ignored your texts, don't worry, it's not a selective behavior. I just don't text in general. Phone calls annoy me too)

What happened? Like what always happens, life.

I just realized somewhere in between work deadlines and family issues and personal frustrations that I've been alone for much, much too long. That Christmases shouldn't be spent watching FRIENDS in the bedroom, or sleeping all the way to Christmas noon.

My emotional shifts are no secret to people close to me. I can be happy one day and be terribly sad the other. So one night, in the millionth night I was lonely, I decided to take a break from being myself. I decided to be with people.

I just decided to do what people do. To talk, to laugh, to share and yes, to drink. That first time sometime weeks ago gave me some degree of clarity that in order for me to have a relief from the exhaustion of being happy and sad and happy and sad, I needed to have a relief from being myself.

As my friend would put it, "sayang ang kabataan"

Alcohol is just a symbol in this journey. I started this with a drink in hand, maybe I'll follow through with more. The people who consistently tried to convince me over the last 8 years about the wonders of alcohol did a really, really bad job. They should have known better than to lecture me about being carefree or how to celebrate youth. It just pushed me further away from the idea of drinking, thinking that just like I don't need people, I also didn't need liquor to be able to feel feelings.

I didn't want to feel feelings, anyway.

Until I was halfway that bottle of beer one night, opening up to friends in front of me, saying things I previously just shared through vague writings on the Internet to strangers. And it just felt, well, wonderful.

It helps that it turns out I have a very high alcohol tolerance. That means I won't have to go through the embarrassing process of getting drunk, like I skipped steps to get to the level of treating alcohol as simply just a fun way to socialize.

I guess it's also not a coincidence that the last conversations I had with friends over drinks were the most honest ones I've had with them in our entire relationships. I guess they felt like because I was now drinking, I was also less judgmental. And I think I am.

I've also opened up to the idea of young people having fun with love. Sometimes, you really have to look at it outside this rose tinted glass of butterflies and sparks. (Although, I would still insist that the concept of electricity between two people is true)

It is in this light that I've accepted I belong to the 99% of mankind who needs to be loved in order to feel alive. Granted, I've not found that person yet but at least now I know I'm looking.

In the meantime, I treat friends so much better now, I want to spend more time with them, have a more meaningful relationship and feel the obligation to make them feel appreciated as long as I like them. I also let them know I like them.

And just like any transition in life, the first tranche can be overwhelming. Therefore, the co-dependence and clingyness.

And you know what? I'm not sorry.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Conversations at the lunch table

  • When I was in my last year of High School, my mom wanted me to go to only 3 schools, the big 3: UP, Ateneo and La Salle. It was her belief that if I studied in one of those, I would easily get a job in London since they are, as she likes to call it, "internationally-recognized." I ruled out La Salle right away, for petty reasons. (I was a Blue Eagle fan in High School, I hated Jerwin Gaco, TY Tang etc, I couldn't see myself going to a UAAP game wearing green, I just couldn't) My reservations for Ateneo was that it was too expensive, my reservations for UP was that it was too difficult. When I weighed my choices more, it just occurred to me that those two schools represent the version of me that I do not want to become, or at least not during College. I knew myself too well. If I went to UP, I would definitely have been a tibak, there is no doubt about it. If I went to Ateneo, I would have adopted the Atenean lifestyle, I would have caught on that Atenean slang and not feel sorry about it. When all I wanted to be in College was focus on getting my writing better and not have to balance all these other activities which could become distractions. I just wanna make clear that I don't want to stereotype schools (I, too, get so mad every time someone defines me as a "religious" whenever I tell them I'm from UST), it's just that I know myself too well; I knew that I had both the tendencies and that I could have gone other way, and I didn't want either. After college, looking at myself now, I think I picked up on both anyway. I slightly practice the lifestyle of a rich girl (even though I'm not), and I have too much tibak manifestations that I wouldn't be surprised one day if I'm kicked off this job.
  • Have you seen the "You had one job" website? (Check it: http://hadonejob.com/) It's a comic relief collection of things gone wrong because the person responsible for it screwed up his "one job." Now I think it represents a bigger problem of people not doing their jobs well. I've always been against shouting and reprimanding service crews and the like. I once got into an argument with an old lady who was shouting at this poor Jollibee crew because according to her, her order was taking too long. It's a small Jollibee store, bristling with close to a hundred customers, the queues were long and there were just 4 of them taking orders. You could see the staff doing all they can, multi tasking, holding a cup of coke in one hand and punching orders in the machine in another. This was an obvious case of just too many customers wanting too many things from so little staff - and that's not their fault. There are days like that. But when I come to your open, empty table wanting my device to be fixed, I would expect you to get on it right away. Not eat mangoes first, chit chat for a bit and then play Candy Crush when I have been waiting 45 minutes. This is not a case of demand takes over supply, this is just a matter of workers slacking off their jobs. I MEAN YOU HAVE ONE JOB. It doesn't matter whether you're a big shot exec or a middle class call center agent or a below minimum wage earner serving unlimited rice in a Mang Inasal branch, you have to do your job well, or at the very least, you have to try. Pare-pareho tayong nagtratrabaho rito, sayang ang pera ko sa tamad mong trabaho.
  • I have just read today my friend Marian's Young Blood article from 2 years ago, it's a Mother's day tribute, detailing her decision to give up being a full time activist so her mother would not live in fear anymore. (Check it out: http://opinion.inquirer.net/28535/because-i-love-you) I don't have a story as dramatic, or as noble, but mine has resemblance to hers when it comes to hurting our mothers. But Marian's reason was admirable, she continually but unintentionally hurt her mom because she wanted to fight for the people while I just wanted to fight for myself. My mom worked all her life, hopping from country to country as a domestic helper, and then a caregiver, so she could one day whisk us away to a country where we could enjoy an abundant life. We did get that life, very early in our lives, and when I turned 11, all she wanted in return was for me to join her in London so we could all be together. I begged, not now, maybe later, then I turned 16 and going off to college, then I turned 20 and looking for a job, then I turned 21 and became unemployed and in the middle of all that is my mom begging for me to just leave the Philippines and go live with her. But I didn't want to - I wanted to fight for my dream to become a journalist. And until now that she's getting older, even though I've assured her several times that she no longer has to work for me, that I can take care of myself, she continues to offer herself at the beck and call of rich old white people because she's worried I might wake up one day broke and in desperate need of financial support. She worries that I might get sick and because I don't have health insurance, I will need her money so I won't die. Because that's just how life is as a media practitioner, I could wake up one day broke, or sick to death --- and that's the day, that even though she wishes wouldn't come, she continues to prepare for. She's now 52, I'm 22 and unlike Marian, I couldn't tell my mom, "Because I love you," I can just look at her with guilt and say, "I have to do this because I love myself."
How about you, what did you talk at the lunch table today?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

What's been going on? Let me tell you what.

I've been neglecting this blog for a while now. I would like to say it's because oohh I'm so busy I don't have time. But really, I have time, I just never get the right energy to sit down and write a

Well, that's gonna change today. If I write news everyday, then there's no excuse for me not to write thoughts everyday. I used to do it when I was young, before I grew old and formulated too much opinion. When you try to read back entries on this blog, you could easily judge me as being too angsty or sad and I would believe you. That was the time when I thought you could only write things that are consumable by the general public. Well I'm doing that for a living now.

So for my personal pleasure, I'm just gonna write things here that are consumable by me and by select few who could be going through the same things.

So how do we start?

    • Ah yes, I would like to tell you that I have now spent 2 years and 9 months in this job and I'm having the best time. I like this job, specifically my SONA and Asspil job. At this point in my life, I would like the two of them to become my identity. It's through the stories we tell that I get to introduce myself and be proud by it. The proponents of Mass Communication defined the Media as the fourth estate, a vital role to democracy, a checking function of the government and the conscience of the populist. I really do think we're acting like we're the fourth estate (well of course, sometimes we betray that oath -- but there's more of that to come here in this blog). I guess what I'm saying is --- I dreamed, since I was like 9 or 10, to one day tell stories which make a difference to even just a handful of people and I think I'm doing that -- well, mostly. 
    • Speaking of this job, my researcher and I are working on this highly academic piece on PNoy's State of the Nation Address, which is fine for the most part except that the lack of visuals is stressing. It's bad enough that I'm the SP with the mediocre visuals even for stories that are so easy visual-wise, it's worse every time I'm the SP who produced another story that, as my PM likes to put it, "only good on paper." I'm looking forward to finishing it to get to the 2nd story, which is fun -- a social play of sorts of us being Pinoys, but the thing is, it doesn't have visuals too. Or maybe I just have to settle with being the SP who's bad at visuals. Maybe I can make a genre out of that. Or maybe not.
    • So excited for my out-of-country trip this month. It will be my first time in an Asian country outside of the Philippines. Last night, I tried on clothes and mapped my outfit for the 5 days we're staying there. I was so excited that I texted my friends who I will be traveling with to tell them I have decided on the 4 out of the 5 outfits. I said it ranged from "hipster" to "lander" -- if it's not a dress with a low back, it's a short skirt or it's a spaghetti strap. I remember being the tomboy high schooler who wore endless t-shirts and the cliche converse sneakers. Somehow, I just grew out of that and became the tomboy yuppie with short skirts and dresses. Like I said, I think quota na ko sa pantalon for a lifetime.
    • On my bed sits 3 Esquire issues, 1 Rogue, 1 Time, all of which I bought in a span of a week. I just like the feeling of hugging the brown bookstore paper, with knowledge and insight beckoning and all that. So far, I've finished half of PNoy's as-told-to bio, a quarter of Karen Davila's tete-a-tete with Bianca Gonzales (why I only read a quarter is something I would rather discuss in its own entry) and a half page feature of this exhibit we went to last month which featured blown-up photos of grocery items like cheese and bacon. I can't help but think that just as I've lost the enthusiasm to blog, I've also lost the zest to read. Which is the combination that would destroy the very core of who I am, so I'm citing it to the ever reliable "Oh I'm so busy I don't have time."
    • But really, the explanation for that is because I'm watching FRIENDS rerun again. It's the sort of thing where, if you start from the very beginning, you can't break that pattern in exchange for another activity. No, if you're not occupied with work, you watch FRIENDS until you get to the end of series -- there's just no pausing in between, it goes against the spirit of watching it. So you would think that after I was done with the series finale, I could go back to doing the other activities but what did I do? I watched FRIENDS again, back to the first season, just because.
    • Last week, I purchased an oven toaster. I was just supposed to buy a bread toaster for french toast and bagel purposes but I decided to buy a mini oven toaster instead so I could heat food. I thought I was wise. But as I learned the hard way this morning, in between waking myself at 5 am and hurrying for the call time which is also 5 am - there are some hurdles to this oven toaster: 1.) It's too small, I cannot put in tupperwares more than 2 inches high 2.) It's too small, I cannot heat spaghetti and toast bread at the same time. Now I feel like a complete fool.
    • Yesterday, while in a cab, I told my friend Justin, "Bling Ring, Before Midnight, Brocka restorations, Cinemalaya, it's a nice month for film!" He looked at me and asked why I classified Bling Ring among the films I mentioned. So we went into the whole debate on whether the Bling Ring is actually a good film or that it's just what it is because it's a Sofia Coppola film. Justin thinks it's the latter, I defended it as being a mockery of Hollywood, an exaggerated documentation of the events, which in turn makes it into a sort of satire, deserving of its critical merits. Of course, the conversation went haywire and before we got off the cab, we were arguing whether "Before you Sleep" is a "classic flick" that can be categorized with the likes of "Sleepless in Seattle" and "City of Angels." We didn't reach an agreement on that either. 
    • So to end this blog for today, I would like to leave you with a glowing recommendation of Tea and Co.'s spicy tuna pasta. 

*SONA - State of the Nation with Jessica Soho, a program airing on GMA News TV 11
* Asspil - Assignment Pilipinas, a segment within the program
* SP - Segment Producer
* Tea and Co. - A milk tea / pastries / pasta cafe in front of GMA Network owned and named after reporter Bernadette Reyes

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Para sa'yo Kristel

Unang una, wala naman kahit sino sa amin ang may karapatang sumulat tungkol sa'yo. Hindi ka namin kilala. Hindi namin alam kung ano ang pinagdaanan mo, at walang paraan para maintindihan namin kung bakit mo 'yun nagawa.

Wala kaming karapatan.

Pero biyernes noon, nang mabalitaan ko ang nangyari sa'yo mula sa isang katrabahong taga UP. Nagagalit siya dahil isa siya sa mga huling batch na inabutan pa ng mababang tuition. Nagalit din ako.

Hindi ako Iska. Hindi ako namroblema kung saan kukuha ng tuition, lalo na ng P10,000 na naging dahilan ng pagkasawi mo. Pero nagalit ako, hindi ako makapagtrabaho, hindi makapag-isip ng maayos dahil hindi kita maalis sa isip ko. Nagalit ako sa mga taong humusga sa karakter mo, sa mga nagsabing napaka hina at duwag mo raw para gawin kung ano ang nagawa mo.

Sino ba sila? Hindi ko maintindihan ang apog ng mga taong magbitiw ng salita tungkol sa pagkatao mo. Siguro hindi nila naranasan ang maging malungkot, wala rin naman kasi tayong konsepto ng depresyon dito kaya mahirap maintindihan na sa bansa ng mga masayahing tao, isang araw, kinuha mo na lang ang buhay mo. Pero sino rin ba ako para ipagtanggol ang kalungkutan? Ikaw tunay na namroblema, ako nag-iinarte lang, hindi ko tatangkaing ipaliwanag kung ano ang tumakbo sa isip mo sa mga oras na 'yun.

Hindi man kita kilala. Hindi man kita naiintindihan. Ang laki ng puwang sa puso ko ngayon para sa'yo.
Hindi man kita kilala, hindi man kita naiintindihan, hindi ko naman maikakaila na disi sais anyos kang batang nangarap ng magandang buhay. Simple ang pangarap mo, ang makapag-aral, at biniyayaan ka ng talino para pumasa sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas -- ang pamantasan ng gobyerno na itinatag para sa mga katulad mo.

Para sa mga katulad mong salat sa yaman pero hindi sa pangarap. Pangarap na nakasaad sa batas, Kristel. Karapatan mong makapag-aral ano man ang pinagdadaanan mo. Pinahihintulutan ka ng batas na mabigyan ng diskwento sa matrikula.

Pinahintulutan ka ng batas na mangarap, Kristel, pero sa hindi ko maintindihang pagkakataon, nabalewala ang batas na ito at hinayaan ng gobyernong magpatuloy ang sistemang papatay sa'yo at sa pangarap mo. Sistemang unti unting pumapatay sa paniniwala ng mga Pilipino sa gobyerno.

Sabi ng iba, masyado raw "simplistic" na sisihin lang ang UP sa nangyari sa'yo. Hindi raw simple ang konsepto ng suicide. Hindi ka naman daw magpapakamatay dahil lang sa isang bagay. Sabi pa ng iba, bakit hindi mo nagawan ng paraan? Hindi lang naman daw ikaw ang biktima. Napakarami pa. Napakarami pang mas mahirap sa'yo.

Kaso ang masama sa pagkakataong ito, ikaw ang nabiktima, ikaw na 'fragile,' ikaw na may mababang kakayahan para dalhin ang problema. At hindi mo 'yun kasalanan, Kristel, isa siyang medical state na hindi maintindihan ng mga tao. At sa lahat ng magkakaroon nito, ikaw pang mahirap.

Kung ang bata ngang si Mariannet Amper na wala pang hinog na konsepto ng kalungkutan, nagawang kunin ang kanyang buhay, ikaw pa kaya, na nagsunog ng kilay makapasa lang sa UPCAT, manatili sa UP;

ikaw na pumasok araw-araw na nababahala kung paano ka makakapasok bukas, ikaw na kinuhanan ng student ID, ikaw na sinabihan na kailangan mong umalis kahit ayaw mo, ikaw na pumasok pa rin sa klase kahit hindi ka na kinikilala ng pamantasang tinawag mong tahanan;

ikaw na naguguluhan sa tunay na kahulugan ng pagmamahal.

Sa lahat ng tao, ikaw pa ang napili ng mapagbirong tadhana. Ikaw pa ang nabiktima.

Kung nagkulang ka, ang magulang mo, ang guro mo -- wala kaming karapatang husgahan. Hindi namin kayo kilala.

Pero kung saan kayo nagkulang, katumbas ng isang responsibilidad na hindi rin naman napunan.
Kayo, walang pera, sila may kapangyarihan. Kasalanan bang sila ang asahan?

Itinakda ng United Nations na 6% ng GDP ang dapat nakalaan sa Edukasyon, sa Pilipinas, 2.3% lang nito ang hinuhugot ng gobyerno para sa pangarap mo.

Ang financial assistance program ng Commission on Higher Education, P503 million lang ang pondo, sapat lang para matulungan ang 2.25% sa lahat ng mga nangangailangang tulad mo.

At ang mismong inaasahan mong tutulong sayo, ang pamantasan mo, nakapagtala ng pinakamababang bilang ng mga estudyanteng may libreng matrikula. Simula nang iniba ang STFAP noong 2007, 2% na lang ng estudyante sa UP Diliman ang nakapag-aral ng libre.

Lahat ng 'to habang tinignan ka ng gobyerno mo sa mata at nakangiting ibinalitang lumago ang ekonomiya.
Ngunit ang ekonomiya palang ito, pinaghati-hatian lang ng mga mayayamang hindi maintindihan ang bigat ng P10,000 na ikinasawi mo.

Nahihiya ako sa'yo, na pumasok ako ng 4 na taon sa kolehiyong nagwaldas sa mga bagay na 'di kailangan. Sasabihin ng iba, hindi naman natin kasalanan na tayo'y may kaya.

Pero hindi mo rin kasalanang naging mahirap ka, Kristel.

Masalimuot ang problema pero simple lang ang punto: may batas na dapat proprotekta sa'yo at may gobyernong dapat sumisiguro sa kinabukasan mo.

At may mga kababayan kang dapat hindi nakalimot ipaglaban ang karapatan ng mga tulad mo.

Sabay ng pagkawala mo, ang pagkabigo ng batas, ng gobyerno, ang pagkabigo naming pangalagaan ang tulad mo.

Ang tulad ni Mariannet, ang tulad ng marami sa ating mga Pilipino.

Kaya hindi rin kita makalimutan, dahil sa tuwing maaalala kita, naaalala ko ang kabiguan ko bilang Pilipino.

Sana mabigyan ka namin ng hustisya, sana mabigyan namin ng dignidad ang ala-ala mo at sana wala nang pangarap pang maipagkait sa bayan na 'to.

Ang mga susunod naming laban, ang mga tungkulin namin, sana magawa namin ng maayos para sa'yo.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Love letter sa pagbabasa

Importante sa akin ang magbasa ng libro. At dahil choosy ako pati sa mga kakaibiganin, isa na siya sa mga naging pamantayan ko: kung hindi ka nagbabasa, may 30% chance na hindi tayo magkakasundo.

Sa pagbabasa na kasi ako lumaki.

Walang mabibilihan ng libro sa Moncada sa Tarlac. Imbes na babysitter's club o nancy drew tulad ng ibang bata, lumaki ako sa comics. Mayroon kasing news stand ang pamilya.

Nagigising kami sa bahay ng alas tres ng madaling araw dahil binabagsak sa gate namin ang mga ibebentang diyaryo sa araw na 'yun.

Kaya dati, Habang naghihintay ng umagahan, ka-kwentuhan ko na si eknok at Tomas and Kulas ng Funny Komiks. Peyborit ko rin si Utleg ng Happy Komiks. Kaso lagi akong bitin, ang iikli kasi ng comic strips duon. Minsan nga nagbabasa na ako ng mga pang Matandang komiks na may mga aksyong 'Di pwede sa bata.

Alam kong bawal 'yun sa akin. Pero wala na kasi akong mabasa. Kaya sumunod ko nang binasa ang diyaryo. Abante at Bulgar ang madalas kong basahin kasi Tagalog, 'di kasi ako maka intindi ng Ingles.

Kaya sobrang saya ko nung nagkaroon ng Children's Comics. Maikling kuwento na ang porma ng mga istorya, mahaba-haba na. Iba iba pa linggo linggo.

Una nga akong nailathala noong Grade 1 ako. Isa itong liham para sa Children's na nagpapasalamat para sa mga kuwentong naging katuwang ko uma-umaga at tuwing hapon pagkagaling sa eskwela.

Grade 4 ako noon nang bigyan kami ng eskwelahan ng textbook sa Pagbasa. 5 pahina bawat istorya!! Mayroon nanaman akong bagong kaibigan, sabi ko noon. Tuwing tatalakayin ang kuwento sa eskwela, lagi akong pabibo.

Minsan sa pagkalkal ko sa gamit ng pinsan kong nasa kolehiyo, nakita ko ang isang libro na ang titulo ay "Kuwaderno," ang koleksyon ng mga kuwentong pang literatura ng St. Louis Unversity sa Baguio kung saan siya nag-aaral. Pero wala akong naintindihan, para bang sabi ko, tulad ng laging tanong sa pagsusulit, "ano ang moral lesson?" Parang wala naman.

Mag-ge grade 6 na ko nito, at na-frustrate akong hindi ko maitindihan ang libro ng pinsan ko. Dun ko napagtanto baka may antas din ang pagbabasa. Tulad ng mga sinasabi sa pelikula, kailangan mag move on.

Nasa London na kami noon, taong 2001, 11 ako, nang nakita ko sa bookstore ang Harry Potter. Napanuod ko na ang Philosopher's Stone noon kaya ang binili ko na Chamber of Secrets.

Aba sabi ko, ang galing ng librong ito. Para bang lahat ng moral lesson sa lahat ng kuwentong nabasa ko dati, lumabas sa libro sa paraang nakaka-mangha!

Sa bawat tren tuloy na nasasakyan ko sa London, iniisip ko, ang saya siguro pag naka tagos ako dito papuntang Diagon Alley.

Kasabay noon may binasa akong libro mula sa koleksyon ni Jacqueline Wilson: Dustbin Baby. Kuwento ng Batang si april na sa kanyang kaarawan, pumunta siya sa siyudad para hanapin ang nanay niyang tinapon siya sa basurahan noong sanggol pa siya.

Parang ang lungkot kako, pero nakakatawa ang mga tagpo sa kuwento.

Kaya bumili pa ako ng iba: Bed and Breakfast Star, kuwento ng Batang si Elsa na nakatira sa napakaliit na kuwarto sa isang maduming hotel dahil duon kinupkop ang pamilya niyang walang bahay. The Tracy Beaker show: kuwento ng isang bahay ampunan at ni Tracy na walang gustong umampon at iba pang malungkot na kuwento ng bata.

Kaya siguro ako lumaki ng mababa ang emotional quotient at malala ang emotional imabalance, paano naman kasi, natuto akong bilang bata, dapat kaya mong diskartehan ang buhay mo, na kaunti lang ang taong makakatulong sa'yo at ang maging malungkot ay hindi masama, minsan wala rin kasing challenge ang maging masaya.

Sabi nga ni Edith Tiempo, you cannot write happiness. Parang walang lalim.

Dun na nag dire-diretso ang pagbabasa ko. Iniyakan ko si Cedric Diggory, kinilig kina Leo at Stargirl. Sa hindi maipaliwanag na dahilan, nagkaroon ako ng masasamang panaginip dahil sa Da Vinci Code ni Dan Brown. Dito rin ako kinausap ng pinsan ko tungkol sa pananampalataya.

Pero ang pinaka crucial ata sa puntong ito, dahil High School na ako, ang libro ng mga manunulat tulad ni Meg Cabot, aba'y sabi ko, hindi masama ang maging iba.

Sa iba ko na ipapaubaya ang pagiging maganda at popular. Mas gusto kong maging weird tulad ni Sam.

2nd year college ako nang ilabas ang huling libro ng Harry Potter, ang Deathly Hallows.

Malungkot ako sa mga panahong ito. Punong puno ako ng duda sa sarili ko dahil ang gagaling ng mga kasabayan ko sa kursong Journalism. Sabi ko sa sarili ko, nahibang ata ako sa pag-akalang magiging manunulat ako balang araw.

Tapos nabasa ko ang linyang ito: "Of course it's all in your head, Harry, but it doesn't mean it's not real."

Naramdaman ko na sa akin ito sinabi ni Professor Dumbledore, na siguro nga nahihibang ako, pero hindi ibig sabihin hindi magkakatotoo ang pangarap ko.

Sabi ko, tignan mo nga naman, mula 11 hanggang sa ako'y mag disi-otso, si Dumbledore pa rin ang nakatulong sa akin.

Dito ko na rin nakilala si Holden Caufield. Sabi ng guro ko, baka hindi ko raw maintindihan ang Catcher in the Rye dahil dapat ito'y binabasa Habang bata.

Naintindihan ko naman si Holden: hindi talaga madaling malungkot.

Noong pagkatapos ng Graduation ko, dumaan ako sa matinding pagsubok. Na-depress ako ng todo. Gabi gabi, umiiyak. Naglalakad ng walang pupuntahan sa Ayala Avenue sa Makati. Humahawak ng mahigpit sa Rosaryo kahit sa araw dahil desperado para sa sagot. Bakit ako malungkot???

Isang gabi, wala na akong maramdaman. Sakto nasa parte na ako ng Zahir ni Paulo Coelho kung saan sinabi ng protagonist na "I was not I - I was nothing, and that to me seemed quite marvelous."

Noong gabing 'yun, hindi ako umiyak. Saka ko naman binasa ang Prep ni Curtis Sittenfeld - bida ang dalagang si Lee Fiora, na nakitaan ko ng sarili ko.

Mahilig mag psycho-analyze, tadtad ng insecurities at pampalipas oras ang self pity. Sa wakas, medyo naintindihan ko ang sarili ko.

Tumulong din ang mga karakter ni Miles sa Looking for Alaska, Duncan sa Wide Awake at Charlie sa Perks of being a Wallflower.

Hindi madaling maging malungkot. Pero hindi naman masama. Ang moral lesson: ano man ang mangyari, hindi ka Habang buhay malungkot.

Marami akong kaibigan, pero minsan mahirap sabihin ang lahat ng nararamdaman, lalo kung alam mong marami silang hindi maiintindihan. O minsan ayaw mo talagang magsabi, may mga bagay kasing kahit mismo sa sarili mo, hindi mo maamin.

May puwesto ba para sayo sa mundo? Matutupad ba mga pangarap mo? May magmamahal ba sayo? Nahihibang ka ba?

Daming tanong. At simula 6 o 7 ako, madalas nakakasagot ang mga kaibigan ko sa libro.

Siguro yung iba, nahanap ang mga hinahanap nila sa aktuwal na buhay: paglabas-labas, pakikipag kaibigan, pakikipag relasyon, pagdanas sa mundo sa labas ng mga pahina.

Pero iba nga kasi ang mga Tao. Siguro kung sa iba ko hinanap ang mga Sagot, mas lalo akong nalito.

Hindi ko pa lahat naiintindihan. Sa pagbabasa, nagkakasagot ka nga, dumadami naman ang tanong mo.

At yun naman ang dahilan kung bakit ka nabubuhay diba, ang magtanong ng magtanong?

Siguro nga mali ko 'yun, masyado akong apektado. Kinuwestiyon ko ang pagmamahal at ang konsepto niya ng pang Habang buhay nang nalaman ko sa ikalawang libro ni Rachel Cohn at David Levithan na naghiwalay pala sina Nick at Norah.

Minsan na-didignify ko ang galit sa mga libro tulad ng kay Ned Vizzini, na-didignify ang kawalan ng paniniwala sa mga kuwento tulad ng kay Esther Greenwood.

Pero natuto naman akong magmahal ng magulang kay Mitch Albom, magpahalaga ng pagkakaibigan tulad ng kina Ron, Harry at Hermione.

Sa pagbabasa, natuto akong magsulat, na siya namang pinaka mahal ko.

At sa librong "The Imperfectionists," natutunan ko ring hindi iikot ang buhay sa trabaho, kahit gaano ko pa ito kamahal.

Ang pinakamahalaga naman kasi sa pagbabasa, marami akong naging karamay, nalinawan man ako o nalito, mayroon akong nakausap na talagang naintindihan ako.

At sa buhay na 'to, kaunti lang ang ganung klaseng pagkakataon na makukuha mo.

Mura pa ang libro, at ang pinaka maganda sa lahat, mananatili sila sa buhay mo at kahit gaano karaming taon ang lumipas, pag binuklat mo silang muli para kausapin, hindi sila nagbago.

Ang galing 'no?