Di pa ako talaga tapos sa year na ‘to kasi may paper pa akong isusubmit on Monday pero bahala na hahahaha
Freshman year was, simply put, amazing in spite of the mountain of requirements that I had to get through (which I’m still actually going through because EnLit is all-consuming) and a lot of people need to be thanked for making it the way that it is.
First of all, to my high school batchmates (13est woohoo) salamat kasi friendships were not lost, and even deepened kahit na college na tayo.
To Sir Nori and Sir Maki, mga Fil prof ko, salamat sa pagpapalalim sa kaalaman ko hindi lamang tungkol sa pop culture at panitikan kung hindi pati na rin sa mundong ginagalawan ko, at sa pagtulong sa kin na makahanap ng paraan para mapabuti to.
To Ma’am Diaz, thank you for teaching me how to endure countless papers, readings and quizzes, all of them unthinkably difficult, and for indirectly (maybe even directly) teaching me how to push on and hope against all hope (this is you, En101 portfolio).
To Block J, for being my first family in Ateneo. I’m still looking forward to more good times with you guys, lalo na since magkakaroon na tayo ng majors next year.
To WriterSkill (and WriterSkill CB 2013-14) thank you for being my second family in Ateneo. You took me in and made me feel loved, and I found a real home in this org.
And lastly, to M04 2013-2014. You guys have made all the difference in this year. We suffered together, and we all got through (will get through) this together, victorious. The play that we staged just hours earlier is enough proof for that. You guys have made waiting in Bel for 2 hours every Monday, Wednesday and Friday so worth it. The friendships I’ve forged in this class will be forever, I know it. And I know this isn’t goodbye since we’ll all be seeing each other again soon, very soon. Thank you for the two semesters that we’ve been together.
Sorry kung cheesy, but I just had to let this out. Just, thank you all so much. Cheers.
Click here. Or if you don’t want to, right-click the link, and open it in a new tab or window. Or don’t click it at all and go on with your life.
Or you could read it, take it in, absorb it. That’s alright as well.
Ahhhh, first semester English. Back when I was still pretty innocent when it came to writing and reading. Not that I’m complaining: En101 is hell, but I’d say that it’s pretty worth it (SOH kid vibes). Well, here you go, my En12 memoir, or rather the first draft of it. If I remember correctly, I submitted a slightly edited version of this one, but I only changed very minor things (typos etc.) so this isn’t that different from the one I submitted.
My mother was quite a religious woman. She was raised up by her parents, especially my grandmother, to be a firm believer in the Catholic faith. Because of this, our family observed and practiced Catholicism. We would go to Mass every Sunday and on special occasions like birthdays and Christmas. Me and my sisters were all baptized when we were infants, and our Mom taught us early on to believe in God and His ways, and how to pray. We’d spend a lot of time as a family doing Catholic traditions such as Visita Iglesia and praying the Rosary.
I guess it was because of her religiousness that a significant event happened to me. One day when I was really young, about pre-school age, my mom happened to ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up. Immediately, almost as if it was an instinct, I replied to her that I wanted to become an astronaut, or a superhero. They were those ideas of occupations that were conceived through endless stretches of daydreaming, inspired by television shows like Justice League or space expedition documentaries on National Geographic. I knew even then that they weren’t practical or logical because the chances of those actually happening to me were close to zero. They were just ideas for my young mind to play around with. I knew they weren’t “real” jobs, that I could land. Besides, I thought, I wouldn’t make any money in the superhero business.
One time, my mom expressed, implicitly, her desire for me to become a priest. I think it was after we went to mass, when we got home and were having dinner. She said something along the lines of, “It would be nice to have a priest for a son.” When I asked her how come, she replied something about plenary indulgence, holiness, and security, and a whole lot of other things I didn’t, and couldn’t understand at the time. Not only were they quite unusual things for me to hear, especially at the age of seven-ish, but from what I heard from her, I knew that a part of my mom wanted me to pursue priesthood. And so I thought that it would actually be all right with me if I did.
I actually kind of believed that I really wanted to become a priest for a while. I was a really obedient kid, and I thought that following my mom’s wish would make me a good son. I thought I was repaying her, in a way, for all the years that she spent taking care of and all the years to come that she would take care of me, by wanting to become a priest. It was my form of gratitude to her for her love. My mom said to me that she’d be happy as long as I was happy and secure with what I was doing with my life, whatever my job was, just as long as I made sure that I wasn’t doing anything wrong. But I still persisted at that time. I said that I wanted to become a priest, and I tried to stand by it.
But I knew that I really didn’t want to pursue a career path in priesthood. Priesthood was a calling, and I wasn’t being called, for whatever reason God had. I think I was meant for something else. The problem was, I didn’t really know what I wanted to become. Still, I continued upholding my “fake” desire to become a priest, mainly because I didn’t know what I wanted to be yet, and also because I still believed in fulfilling my mother’s wishes. I still wanted so badly to want to become a priest, even if I knew that it wasn’t really for me. I was thinking that my doubts for becoming a priest were just temporary, that it was just a phase that I went through and everything would straighten out eventually.
Eventually though, all this doubt was cleared. I soon discovered girls, and relationships, and all thought and “desire” to become a priest was thrown out the window. Eventually I talked to my mom and we cleared up that I didn’t really want to go into priesthood, and that I only said that I wanted to because I thought it was something she wanted. Fortunately, she was really happy for me, that I was following my heart instead of being dependent upon other people for my dreams. It was a huge relief for both me and her, but eventually it gave rise to a bigger problem. What did I want to become?
At that time after I confessed to my mom that I didn’t want to become a priest, when I was in grades four to six, I realized that I was a jack of all trades, but I was a master of none. I wasn’t exceptionally good at any of my subjects. I despised Math, which I didn’t get at all. I liked reading books but I was too lazy to write, so my output wasn’t that good. My performance in my Science subjects were average, and I was no good at my HELE classes. I was not athletic, and all the artistic prowess that I had when I was in preschool, drawing and painting, was lost once I got to Grade School. Around that time, my self-confidence was seemingly at an all time low. Like a bully once said to me in my fourth grade HELE class, I was a loser. I didn’t feel as if I’d amount to anything worthwhile at that time.
I felt like this for a long time, and at around the time that I was in Grade 6, I was getting desperate, seeing that a lot of my classmates and friends were all decided on what they were going to take in college. At that time, my sister graduated from Medical School, I figured I’d just become a doctor like my sister and hope for the best. It was a job that payed well, and I felt like I could survive the four years of Medical School. And just like before, I thought that I wanted to be something that I knew I didn’t want to become. I thought that I would actually enjoy being a doctor, but I knew that I wouldn’t. Medicine wasn’t really interesting to me, even if by that time I was becoming more adept in my Science classes, even enjoying them.
A big change came when I finally got to high school. It was then that I discovered my true passion: Writing. My laziness when it came to writing was lost when I first wrote about a topic that I was interested in. After that, I was hooked. I would write formal themes, essays and poems feverishly. I made friends who found writing as enjoyable as I did. I experienced that high that you get when you feel your hand hurt as you make your pen fly across the page, inking your thoughts, feelings, opinions, your identity into the words you write. I started becoming poetic, expressing my feelings in verses instead of just plain words. Writing also became my primary creative outlet, enabling me to regain that sense of artistry that I had when I was younger, painting my feelings with words.
I also discovered another passion of mine in high school. As a child, I would defend my occasional little wrongdoings. I always found a loophole or palusot as my mom called it, whenever I was accused of eating an extra cookie or accidentally breaking a vase. I didn’t realize then that I was actually using logical arguments for my case. But I did realize this once I got to Grade 8. It was in Geometry, specifically the logic and proving part, that I learned how to think outside of the box. Even outside the classroom, I started viewing every problem from different angles, considering the different solutions and their effectiveness. I brought this kind of thinking to my writing, as I loved writing essays about solving social problems. I wrote points that I learned to back up properly, and learned how to read between the lines when someone else was arguing against me. I learned how to think, and how to apply what I thought. I argued passionately, savoring victories and learning from defeats.
I knew then that I wasn’t for science. Science piqued my interest, but it didn’t satiate the thirst that I had for writing and arguing. Because of this, my friends said that I was perfect for law. Again, for the third time, I depended on other people for what I wanted to do. I knew that I liked writing and informal debate, but I didn’t know exactly what I felt about a career in law. That was at the time for college application forms, so I had to make a decision on what course I was going to take in college. Still thinking of pursuing a career in law, while fulfilling my passions for writing and arguing, I picked AB Philosophy, seeing as it was perfect for all these things that I wanted at the time.
When I got into college, I was already having doubts about law, mainly because I thought it wouldn’t be able to achieve some of my personal goals that I only recently established. My experience in UPIS, my high school, instilled in me a passionate sense of responsibility to and love for the nation. And I saw how broken the system was, how messed up our situation was. I saw how evident corruption was in our society, and how radically unequal the statuses of the different social classes were. It was like a cancer that was spreading, rotting the nation to its core, and I knew that it had to be destroyed. I was thinking of ways on how to change the way things were being run in the country.
I knew then that I wanted to spark a revolution, start a change in the way things were being run in our country. My gut told me that law was a noble path, but it wasn’t going to change a system that was already too corrupt. I needed to try a different approach to make a change.
I was having my doubts about Philosophy for the first month as well, thinking that I would be of no use when I graduated. I would only be fit for three professions, I thought, either a lawyer, priest or teacher. At the time, I thought that none of these professions would inspire any change among society. The impact would not be sufficient for a revolution. That was what I thought, that is, until I realized that I too, was inspired to be socially aware and start a change by my high school teachers. My sense of national pride and identity, my desire to make the system better, all of those had their inceptions in high school, because of my teachers. Even in college, in my Filipino 11 class, I was being taught to not be passive, to take a stand in our society and try to instigate a change. Being a professor would not be too bad, I thought. Teaching the generations after me about these values that I too was taught about would not only be noble, but it would spark that revolution that I wanted. I would set fire to the desires of the people who came after me to become “revolutionaries” themselves, just like what my teachers did to me.
Still, I wasn’t sure of this goal. Anything could happen, and becoming a teacher was only a possibility. I still wasn’t sure on how I was going to achieve my bigger goal of reforming the system. But then, I thought of what I would gain from studying Philosophy. The ability to think, I thought. The ability to adapt. The ability to be whatever I wanted to be. And I thought, I wanted a change to occur, a change for the better, but I didn’t know exactly how. Philosophy would enable me to know how. It would take me on a journey, both literal and metaphorical, to know how to achieve this change that I wanted. I would be able to explore, and I wouldn’t be boxing myself into a specific category, especially since I was taking an AB course. Philosophy would pave a way for me to achieving what I wanted to achieve. And this time I wasn’t fooling anybody, not even myself.
And now here I am, enjoying every bit of this journey that I’ve undertaken, however hellish it may be at times. I know that everything was, and will be worth it. All my indecisions, my doubts, my confusion, has amounted to something. I finally knew what I wanted to achieve, and stood up for what I believed in. I was no longer a confused little boy, leaving important decisions and desires to other people, ceasing to think for himself. I achieved independence, got inspired, and at the very least tried to inspire others as well. I was no longer the loser that got bullied in HELE class because I knew what I wanted to become: I wanted to become a winner. I knew I wasn’t a winner just yet, but I knew that I was giving it my best shot, and I was on my way to become one.
It’s an ordinary morning, one of your typical weekday rush hour mornings, and you’re on the way to school. Nothing seems to make this day that different from the others. It’s nothing too special, but you guess it’s alright.
You’re at the waiting shed, your eyes focused in the distance, scoping for a jeepney. You see one, hail it, and go inside. You search for an available seat, and you see that one free spot and take it.
As you reach out your hand to pay the fare, you catch a glimpse of that shy, pretty girl sitting opposite you. You see her clutching her Jansport backpack and her Cattleya binder, and you know she wouldn’t be able to hear you if you said anything because she was wearing earphones. You think of how cute she looks when her head bobs along to the music she’s listening to, and you wonder what kind of music she’s into. She’s wearing “normal” clothes, not too flashy but not too shabby either. She takes a look at her watch every now and then, but doesn’t seem too anxious about the time, as if she knew that she wasn’t going to be late.
As the jeepney moves, you see her hair billowing because of the wind. Suddenly, your eyes meet, and for about a millisecond, you feel this spark between you and her. It’s a weird feeling, but you like it. You both look away, and you smile and think to yourself,
“This is different.”
You sit next to each other throughout the whole journey, and when the moment finally comes that has to go, you look at her and she at you, and she smiles. You feel yourself space out in awe, and pull yourself back to reality just in time to reciprocate that smile. She gets off the jeepney, and you are left with the other passengers, your heart pounding wildly.
You think you’ve just met the one, and in that one ordinary moment, you fall in love. But it’s not her you fall in love with.
You fall in love with the idea of her. You fall in love with the imagined times you’ll have with each other, the possibilities, scenarios forming in your head. Holding hands while watching the sunrise. Her head resting on your shoulder as you both ride the jeepney. Images of her smile, that sweet, captivating smile not too different than the one she gave you just now. Moments in which you are together form in your head, and you think to yourself,
“What if it really was her?”
You get off the jeepney and walk to your next class. With each step is the image of her smile, that sweet, sweet smile, and what could have been.
You talk to your classmates, go to class, do your papers, have lunch, kid around with your friends, go to class again, et cetera et cetera, and before you know it, every detail that you so meticulously absorbed about that girl is lost and forgotten. Every single memory you have of her, her face, her smile, her image, every single one of those is gone.
And so is that girl.
The final bell for your last class has rung. The day is finished, and you say goodbye to your friends. You walk to where you usually wait for a jeepney to come, and with each step you think of how your day went. You look at the setting sun in the sky, and think, “It was a pretty ordinary day, one of your typical weekdays. Nothing seems to make this day that different from the others. It’s nothing too special, but I guess that’s alright.”
The thing is,
I hate being unable to understand.
I hate being in the dark.
I am drowning in a sea of pretentiousness, attached to an anchor of insecurity.
It’s very pretentious that I had to start off this post with that. And it’s very sad that I have to acknowledge the fact that this is the result of a curious mixture of boredom and procrastination, which as we know, oftentimes produces very weird results. This is supposed to be a form of catharsis for me, but now it kind of is and isn’t that. It’s also very annoying that I’ve adopted this tone that makes me seem as if I’m self-aware when in fact I’m not.
I am Jack’s blank page. I am Jack’s teenage insecurity-slash-need-for-attention. And no, the Fight Club references are not there for the purpose of being there. No, they’re there because I want them to be there. Those words didn’t go there on their own; I was the one who put them there, in a pathetic attempt to seem happy, cool, even intelligent.
The embodiment of the different things that I’m thinking right now would probably be a blank page. I am empty, exhausted, tired. I am also a canvas waiting to be filled with magnificent works of art. Yet as pleasant as that sounds, the former seems more accurate for now. I am something that is nothing. I try too hard to be deep, to feel like I’m being better than what I really am and in the process, seem like a better individual to others, when I’m really not. This may or may not even be fishing for encouraging words from people who I know are amazing friends. Yes, I’ve been blessed with good friends, people who are supportive, loving, caring, et cetera, and that alone makes me a good person. But no, it doesn’t.
Or maybe this is just a typical tirade by a typical teenager who is confused, lonely and just plain scared. That seems to me like a perfect fit.