Play me a visit? I just like it a whole lot better over there. :P
The thing about New Years…
I think a lot of people expect to feel differently every time the new year swings around; like some sort of strange, unexplainable feeling of rebirth is supposed to stir inside them. The truth is, this very rarely happens in the magnitude we imagine, and most of the time it happens depending on whether we want it to or not. Change is hardly instant. It’s something you have to work on for a period of time.
It begins in the tiniest corner of the soul.
A lot of people create resolutions but never persist long enough or hard enough to see an of them through. (I also know people who make them for the sake of bandwagoning— because everyone else is doing it too.) Ironically, they have the gall to be disappointed by the whole concept of New Year’s Resolutions, as if it’s some sort of magical fairy-godmother who grants wishes with a flick of a wand. Trying to make a change in your life shouldn’t feel like an obligation, nor should it be a sort of half-serious commitment. It should be something you really want to do.
Although 2012 wasn’t AMAZING or BRILLIANT for me, it was a great year. I went through a lot of duress during the last quarter of the year, so it has coloured my judgement of 2012 quite a bit, but quite frankly it would be a huge mistake to dwell on the bad things. The last hurrah for 2012 happened abroad, in both Malaysia and Singapore, with company that, although was not perfect, was probably one of the best I could ever wish for. And as I was reflecting on the things that have happened, trying to sift through the good memories and put the bad ones behind, I had this feeling of contentment. Then I had this feeling of preparedness, of confidence even— a feeling that 2013 is going to be awesome.
Because I am going to make it awesome.
As cliche as it sounds, I guess I’m starting to understand this whole YOLO business. The truth is, if we let the opportunities for our happiness pass us by, we’re going to spend a lot of time regretting. I think that’s one of the worst things to spend our energies and days on, regret. It’s a given that most of us are afraid of making mistakes, but I find that sometimes the Universe has a way of sorting these things out. If we shy away and prefer to stay on the safe side, we will never know whether or not it could’ve brought us the luck and prosperity we’ve always been hoping for. So in 2013, I think I’ll worry less and live more.
I believe that’s the biggest favour one so young as I can do for myself.
There is so much I have yet to learn and experience, and I can’t assure that I am 100% ready for them all. But whatever God brings before me, I know He will be there to keep me strong and guide me. I know He will never give me anything I can’t handle, and that brings me a lot of comfort— not to mention courage to go for the things that I want.
There will be some things that won’t change, like my perseverance in doing all the things I love. Or my spirit in always trying to improve myself and my disposition. I hope I remain conscientious and silently observant, and I hope I grow wise enough to utilize these to my advantage.
There will be some things I wish I can change, like the fact that impatience is still one of my greatest personal demons. I hope I can learn how to be less frank and rash in my comments, learn how to rein in my emotions. I also need to learn to smile more often. The older I get, the more I realise that all the changes I want to undergo, all the happiness I want to achieve, will be up to me. I have to find the balance between control and letting go, and I think I’ll be okay.
I am just filled with so much hope for 2013. :)
Well there’s a first for everything. In my 21 years of existence, I have never ever ever gotten seriously sick enough to land myself in the hospital. And I’ve always been proud of that fact. Back when I was a student and very young, there would be these idiots who would love to skip class even though it meant staying in the hospital. That kind of thinking simply infuriates me. I just came home from seven long, excruciating days in the hospital, and the only conclusion I can come up with is that I should make a more conscious effort to make sure I don’t have to go back. I’ve got a ton of injection marks from all the daily -sometimes twice a day- blood extractions to check my platelets, and there’s the searing pain inside my right hand that’s the effect of injected fever meds. First few days back I couldn’t hold my hand steady enough to write. For someone who spent about 96% of the time lying down, I sure feel pretty tired.
Anyway, since I’m still relegated to staying in here at home (where at least it’s comfortable) I’ve had a lot of time to think and I managed to compile a list of the good and bad discoveries I made in the course of my hospitalization.
Good news first?
( + )
Hospital food ain’t that bad. We always see it painted so negatively on television, and maybe it doesn’t look as appetizing as our usual fare, but come on, this isn’t room service at a five-star hotel. Expectations must be adjusted accordingly.
You start developing some sort of immunity against blood and injection needles. Six out of the seven days I was in the hospital, they had to draw blood from me to test my CBC and platelets, sometimes even twice a day. Before and after I got confined in the hospital, I had to get my blood tested too, which is why I must’ve had my blood drawn around 9 times in a span of a week. The trick is to take a long breath when they put the needles in, take another long breath when they take the needle out. I long ago outgrew my fear of injections, but seeing my blood inside a syringe used to freak me out. Now it just doesn’t.
You realize you actually have “nice” and “normal” relatives. You know, the sort who come and sit and talk with you awhile without overstepping or acting weird.
You start thinking about things. There is absolutely nothing to do in the hospital, and I can only tolerate so much television. The IV was on my right hand, and the fever medicine was so painful I feel like the insides of my right hand have melted- until now actually- so I changed my mind about asking my Mom to bring me my sketchbook. I did finish reading a book though, but I also spent a lot of time thinking about what significant thing I did this past year.
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
I’m putting it here on the positives because it’s made me realise that I should make the most of the years to come. I’m not exactly turning any younger.
And finally, you realize how much your Mommy loves you. Okay, I have a bit of a difficult relationship with my Mother sometimes but during the four days my fever was spiking I don’t remember wanting anyone other than my Mama with me.
( - )
IV’s are hella annoying. You angle your hand wrong your blood starts to flow back. You try to make yourself more comfortable in bed and you accidentally tug at it. I was constantly scared of accidentally yanking the thing off. Plus it limits movement, and you have to carry/drag it with you to the bathroom all the time.
Nurses/residents ask you the same questions over and over. For the record, I understand they all are just doing their jobs. And they did it well but it just gets old really quickly especially by the time I was feeling ready to go home. How many times do I need to describe the colour of my poop, or the frequency at which I pee, in the span of an hour? Luckily, my two doctors are my uncle and great uncle so I find myself more tolerant of the questions when they ask it.
Crazy relatives who feel more panicked than you do. I’m sorry. I know they mean well, but this kind of drives me up the wall. For example, at the height of my fever, I didn’t have an appetite. My aunt called me one afternoon and reprimanded me for not eating anything the whole day. (Which of course is not true! I do eat. A little.) After that I forced myself to eat the stuff she sent over to the hospital, which caused me an upset stomach and made me want to throw up. See how panicking causes unnecessary anxiety for everyone?
I guess I understand why my relatives would panic given that the Dengue Fever has a dangerous strain that carries complications, but I knew from the get-go that mine wasn’t that bad. I was pretty confident that I only needed to fight against my high fevers and I’d be fine afterwards, but it took longer than I was expecting- about 3 and a half days to be exact- before my fever disappeared completely. I was in pain for about two days, sure, but I’ve never been the sort to play that kind of stuff out for more than it’s worth. Heck, I don’t even like to worry people unless I really cannot tolerate it any longer. I don’t recall alluding to how I really felt, which was a few notches above terrible, and as usual I tried to sleep it off at home to no avail. Trust me, the combination of a skull-splitting headache, a 39-degree fever, and uncontrollable shivering and teeth-chattering, is one I would be glad to never come across again. I tried to avoid getting confined into the hospital because it makes everything look a little more magnified and worrisome, but my platelets were crashing and I really needed the IV to recover.
Being stuck at home for the week-long bedrest. My uncles told me not to do anything strenuous for two weeks. I like living an active lifestyle so that is very hard for me to do, but then sometimes I stand and I feel lightheaded and realise maybe I’m not ready to go back to the gym. I’ll be ready to go back to the office next week though, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be sneaking in some yoga at home because I just can’t not do anything for two weeks! I just hope my hand stops throbbing already.
There’s something weird about being stuck at home knowing everyone is out at school or working. I always feel like I’m slacking off. I actually cleaned my room on my first day back at home, after which I had to sit down on the floor for 10 minutes because I began to feel dizzy. That’s what I would call stupidity.
And the point in all this is?
I make a really bad sick person, which is why I hate getting sick. Lying down all day in the hospital made my back ache. Sitting on the bed all day made my butt ache. When I was well enough, I wanted to walk around the room out of boredom but dragging the heavy IV stand wasn’t worth the effort. I really hope and pray that I don’t have to lie down in any hospital bed for at least ten years to come.
On plagiarism, because my thoughts won’t shut up
If you live in the Philippines, you would know that politics over here is nothing but a circus show. About a month ago, a certain Senator lifted passages from a blogger (first incident), and then Kennedy (second incident) and incorporated them in his speech without mentioning that he was quoting from the aforementioned sources. When this fact came to light, everyone- especially the Netizens- was all over him. This kind of thing is not uncommon, but while others who have been caught red handed would admit to their mistake, this Senator simply prefers to go against the norm. He denied the allegations even though the evidence was clear, and like an immature little brat, he refused to apologize for his failure to cite his sources. The jig that ensued for the next few weeks following these incidents went like this: Deny, deny, insult and threaten critics to make self feel better, pass a law that will ruin lives of Netizens to get back at them, insult and threaten more detractors, deny plagiarizing, deny some more…
In his privilege speech earlier today, he stated that plagiarism is an issue only for the academe. (This is probably one of the stupidest things I have ever heard in my life. Is he actually trying to say that all those years going to school were for naught since we’re not supposed to apply any of what we learned there to “real life”???)
When that argument didn’t work, he pulled out the ‘Assuming I did plagiarise, what are you mad at me for? Imitation is the best form of flattery!’ card to console his critics as I expected him to. I really laughed then. Dear Senator, to imitate is one thing, but to imitate and deny you did so just leaves a bad taste in the mouth. It’s rather difficult to deny the plagiarism involved when one copies several paragraphs from a speech, then directly translates it to the Filipino language with all the poetic arrangements of the words and intended dramatic effect intact. Yet somehow the bastard thinks he can do it. Most politicians in this country (even the ones in the very bottom of the political pyramid) believe they are above the law (as in get away with murder) and above ethical standards (as in plagiarize and deny it). They think they can do anything— including embarrass the whole country. Well then congratulations, Senator! You accomplished just that.
‘How will I apologize for plagiarism when I never plagiarised?’ (Sotto, 2012)
A few months and a letter from Kerry Kennedy later, he still denies it. In all of his press statements, he made it very clear that he believes he did nothing wrong. He even adds that he cannot be
persecuted prosecuted for this because he has parliamentary immunity. Now I have for the longest time wondered how on earth this man (among a few others) was able to take a seat in the Senate, but my biases against him aside, I think I’ve figured out why his plagiarism brouhaha struck a nerve with me.
It’s because I write.
I am a blogger, and though at this point I have reservations in calling myself a “writer” in the traditional sense of the word, the truth is, I do write. I like being part of the community that writes. I have a lot of respect for writers, journalists, authors, fellow bloggers, speech writers, or simply people who have great ideas to share through words.
The Senator however, does not. And it irks me.
Writing is not an easy thing to do. It takes a lot of time, careful attention to detail and facts, and it takes a lot of thinking. To be “quoted” without being credited is not only improper and insulting, it is disrespectful to anyone who has ever tried to put into well-written words any feeling or thought they want others to experience and understand. Passing off someone else’s thoughts as your own is almost similar to stealing a chunk of their brain! As someone who writes, I am incredibly sensitive about people infringing on my intellectual property. I wouldn’t want to be copied off without being credited, so I don’t use other people’s words in my writing without explicitly stating I did so— heck I don’t use other people’s words AT ALL if I can help it. Whenever I do quote from someone, even just the lyrics of a song that I like, I always cite the original source. Proudly, even! That’s how you show your admiration. How else would the people know where you got it from in the first place if you don’t tell them?
The way I see it, the moment you plug in lines from someone else’s speech into yours without a hint of bother to say so (such is the case for the Senator), you have the intention of passing it off as your own. I guess the Senator thought he could get away with it, especially when he translated the speech into the vernacular. Sometimes people quote to lengthen their speeches, appear prepared, or appear impressive. Pretty sure the Senator did it for all three purposes, but he also wanted to create the illusion that he has a great grasp on words. Well his pretentiousness came to bite him in the ass.
I suppose that I cannot expect to put this man up on the same level as other legitimate politicians, or other people in general who actually know what they want to say— those who are passionate enough to write their own sincere pieces which later on become quotables themselves. See the thing is: If you don’t truly care enough about the issue to organize and flesh out your own damn thoughts, then please, by all means, keep it to yourself.
Thinking about San Francisco
The other day I was checking my Instagram feed and I saw a friend of mine post a lovely autumn picture of orange trees lining a long road somewhere in New York. I immediately felt a bit sad, maybe just a tad jealous, mostly because I feel like I’m stuck here and she’s enjoying herself ever so much over there, living her dreams in New York’s fashion world and what-not. Well the weather here has been sweltering and summer-like, the rays of the sun blanketing everything with a yellow reminiscent of a morning in the desert. It’s literally impossible to walk outside without squinting against the harsh sunlight and feeling it prickle against your skin. The woes of living the tropics!
These days I find myself wishing so constantly to escape somewhere. A place where I’ve left a piece of my heart perhaps? Alas, I have no choice at the moment but to daydream and find solace in my hobbies. Admittedly, it’s getting harder to make myself feel better for longer stretches of time whenever I don’t keep myself occupied.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about San Francisco. It’s been years since I went there but to this day it remains to be one of my favourite cities in the world. I haven’t yet visited a city that made me feel the same way as San Francisco did. Sometimes I take a look at some of the old photos I took from before and try to relive the feeling of being in San Francisco again.
I specifically remember the moment I got off the bus and took in the city for the first time. The good vibes just latched themselves on to me and refused to leave. That’s quite a big deal if you knew me at all, as I have a tendency to brood and think too much. Mostly it’s an exercise in rousing all the ill-feelings I have pent-up inside. I remember the feeling of peace that settled over me as I walked up and and down this hilly city, the gears of my mind suspended in a state of wonder.
It was springtime, I believe, when I went there, but I would so love to spend autumn there as well. The weather is always pleasant in that magical, beautiful city, and I can only imagine how much more pleasant it would be during autumn-time. I didn’t get a chance to explore much because we had to leave for L.A. so soon, but I promised myself I would go back. (Not to mention I absolutely need to go back to take better photos.)
The truth is a visit to San Francisco doesn’t fit into my life right now, no matter how much I try to squeeze it in— though I bet it would do wonders for my soul. But maybe next year, San Francisco. I hope.
Away from the sun (a short story)
I pushed the cart as carefully as I can to keep the water from spilling, the wooden wheels creaking beneath the weight. I had fallen asleep waiting for the buckets to fill, and once again had filled them to the brim. Normally this is my sister’s job, but she has gone away to the city to study under a scholarship.
The smoke that was emanating from our hut could only mean that Mother was already up cooking breakfast. Soon enough, the smell of food would fill the house. The sun had just begun to peak out from the mountains across the lake.
I parked the cart near the entrance to our home and tried to ignore the hard coughing sounds from inside. Three days I’ve been getting water for Mother’s laundry early in the morning, and three days I’ve witnessed Father’s violent coughing, only to be reassured by him that there was nothing wrong. I’ve seen Mother give him some ginger tea but it doesn’t seem to be working. Who knows how long he’s had this cough.
‘Dolores, I’m leaving!’ Father bellows from inside.
Mother answers but it is unintelligible to me from where I stand. Another fit of coughing and Father emerges from within.
He swallows down his coughs with an effort. ‘Juan.’
I smile at him, unsure. ‘Have you eaten breakfast?’
‘Yes.’ He begins to slip his feet into the fishing boots he keeps by the door.
‘And your ginger tea?’
He grunts. ‘Of course.’
‘Did you bring an extra sweater? It’s chilly today.’
‘For Chrissakes, Juan! You’re starting to sound like your mother!’ He tries to suppress another bout of coughing to no avail.
‘Father, maybe I should be the one setting sail today. You’ve taught me how to fish well enough.’
‘No.’ I almost jump at the firm suddenness of the word, ‘This is my responsibility as the head of the household. Let me fulfill it. You will have your turn.’ He pushes past me but turns abruptly. The dark brown eyes that looked into mine were oddly distant- looking but not really seeing- yet his hand on my shoulder felt warm. Present.
‘You will have your turn.’ He repeats, a sad expression crossing his face.
I nod, thinking this is what he wanted me to do.
I couldn’t have known that this would be the last conversation I had with my Father. That night, a group of fishermen came knocking at our door to bring my Father home. And when he came home, he no longer came home to us. He went to the place that good souls like his go on to call home after they have lived their lives on earth.
Mother, amidst her tears, had told me the promise she had made to Father. It was a promise he had begged her to make during the final weeks of his life, as if he knew it was coming to an end soon.
He had asked to be carried to the place where the sun met the lake’s waters, and there laid to his final rest. More than the need to put food on the table and clothes on the backs of his family, he had loved the sea.
When I was little, Father had taken me on my first fishing expedition. We caught enough fish, but we spent more time facing the horizon daydreaming. He told me then that the horizon is proof of how endless possibilities can seem, but how much of a mistake it would be to just leave it at that. If he sets sail now, he had said, straight toward the horizon, he is certain he will find something worthwhile.
‘People are often quickly intimidated by the things they cannot see with their eyes, so they are content with only marveling at them in their dreams. They don’t realize that some things need to be chased after for the picture to become clear.’
When I carried his body over the water, I was surprised by how light he was. All those years of sickness and suffering and not once have I heard him complain. He never said a word about how serious it had become. Or maybe, he didn’t want to part with the sea even for just a day.
I set him down gently into the water, directly where the sunset illuminated the surface. His body began to dissolve into a thousand pieces of stardust as the water embraced him into its depths. For a moment, I was unaware that I was crying until I felt my tears plastered in lines on my face.
As I set sail back to the shore, the only thoughts in my mind were thoughts of tomorrow. Tomorrow I will have to take out the fishnets.
My notes: I love this photo. I shot it way back in 2010 for a school project. The location was Taal Lake, Batangas. I got lucky because there was guy in a boat as I was shooting and I decided to include him in the shot to give it more of a story. Sometimes I get chills when I look at this picture because to me, it feels so melancholic— a single person on a boat in a wide expanse of water. It’s easy to make up a story when the picture tells half of it for you.
Starting a new habit, methinks. Stories with pictures.
I have nothing to show for 2012… yet.
I got nostalgia blown right into my face as I was cleaning my lovely desk the other day and I found all my old drawings. It’s interesting to see the patterns of the things I enjoy drawing, and how I was (and still am) mostly crazy for anime and intricate concept arts. It’s also interesting to see the variety of techniques I make use of, and it makes me think about what I would be doing right now had I pursued this particular talent of mine.
Truth be told, drawing has taken a back seat for me lately, and seeing all these drawings now, I am realising just how much I really miss it. I want to sit down and draw all day today. If only I can!
Sometime in 2006 and 2007, I promised myself I would draw all the signs of the zodiac. I also told myself I would design tarot cards, which turns out to be a little more complicated than I initially thought. In the end, I drew zero tarot cards that I felt remotely satisfied with, and I must’ve drawn about four zodiac signs. (How loserly!) These two were by far my favourites:
Around 2008, I tried experimenting a little with my drawing style. I will always have a heavy Japanese influence in the way that I draw, but I also began making my drawings a little less bug-eyed and a little more “realistic”. I made new versions of my zodiac drawings. Unfortunately until now I haven’t completed them. They remain inkless and colourless and sad. :(
Come 2009, I became curious about alcohol markers when I saw how awesome they were from one of my favourite artists on dA. I drew my favourite couple from one of my favourite anime shows at the time: Full Metal Alchemist. I wasn’t good with colouring with markers yet, and to be fair, I got the cheap ones with the Kurekolor brand that would bleed like crazy! It ruins my work sometimes so I don’t use them as much anymore. I dream of collecting a complete set of Copic Markers, and I would’ve started collecting if only the markers were available locally. I’m buying some the next time I fly to Hong Kong for sure. After buying myself a Macbook Pro though, it might take me a while to amass the budget for the Copics. Why is it so expensive?!
2010 was the year I began to rediscover my love for sketching. I sketched a whole bunch of random stuff at that time! At the end of every sketch, my hands would be covered with dark lead marks, and the dirt and mini throbbing sensations on my drawing hand would feel like the best thing the world.
Admittedly some of my favourite drawings were made during this period. I made an altered version of Vermeer’s Girl With The Pearl Earring, which for reasons I cannot explain is one of my favourite paintings in the world maybe because of its simplicity and mysterious look. My version is a little less serious and a bit more animated.
I went through a phase in 2010 where I actually thought about drawing concept art for some sort of console game. I researched about weapons and made a notebook that served as a sort of encyclopedia/reference book for swords and guns. That encyclopedia project took me about 2 weeks but it was such a nice break from all the schoolwork. I like playing console games so I wouldn’t mind making one. (A million times easier said than done.)
I didn’t get the chance to draw a lot in 2011 since I started working that year, although I distinctly remember wanting to make a series about Greek gods. On top in the picture below is my drawing of Aphrodite with a baby Cupid; and at the bottom, partially covered, is the drawing I am planning to complete in the next few days. It’s waaaay overdue!
Here’s to more drawings and finished works in the near future! :)
I find it strange that I’ve been missing a lot of places lately. It went: San Francisco in the morning, Hong Kong in the afternoon, and Japan in the evening.
I miss San Francisco, because it was one of the best places I have ever been to. The good vibes it gave me as I walked up and down its colourful streets are unprecedented. I haven’t gotten that good a feeling from any of the other cities I’ve traveled to.
I miss Hong Kong because I haven’t been there in over a year, and we used to go there often it’s practically a second home country to me.
As opposed to the two above, I haven’t technically “visited” Japan properly. We docked in Fukuoka once when we went on a cruise and spent a couple of hours walking around near the port. It was a small taste of Japan, but enough to whet the appetite. I’ve always liked Japan (the cuisine included!), and I wonder when I will finally get to go and explore. Soon, I hope.
In my nostalgia, I went and dug up some of my old Fukuoka photos, even adding some effects just for fun.