I CRINGE every time I see a spike in my Stats. It doesn’t always happen, but when it does, it usually means that one curious cat got a tad too curious and decided to dig through my dusty archives.
Which is fine, actually. It’s dope. It proves that some people still find this space interesting and it makes me feel a little less alone (shet ang lungkot ko naman?). On the flip side, however, it also means that these people get to see more of my shortcomings as a writer. Exhibit A: my “very sad and very poor” grasp of the English language.
I’m aware of it, and I’m trying to be better at it. My about page says it all: please feel free to judge my grammar mistakes. I apologize for the lapses; I apologize for my egregious English.
Now let me digress a little and say that it’s been freezing cold in This Side of the World. The temperature has dipped down to -35 ‘C and the roads have been covered in bumpy, slippery ice. I just bought a new set of winter tires in December and my car still skids every three meters or so. Hay, winter.
I used to think that if the Philippines were closer to the poles, maybe the government would pay keener attention to its housing services. Anyone who doesn’t have access to a sufficiently insulated room in the winter will certainly die a Little-Match-Girl death. And with the country’s current urban housing situation, a Philippine winter could spell death for at least half of the metro’s work force.
But eventually I realized that, for a country that suffers through typhoons multiple times a year, the Philippines somehow still fails to streamline an efficient (i.e. zero-fatality?) response to these disasters. I know we have scientists and techs who are working on it. I’m aware there are people from non-profit groups who are helping out. But snow or no-snow, it probably wouldn’t matter anyway. The people who can afford central heating systems in their mansions wouldn’t care either way.
And since I’m already getting a little discursive in this post (as with most things in this blog), I might as well mention that a few days back, I got a surprise video call from my high school friends. They had a sleepover in D’s place and they decided to phone me when they woke up in the morning.
We had a really nice chat, a “catching-up” of sorts. I learned that D is about to finish med school (she majored in Fine Arts in college, graduated magna cum laude); G plans to go to an arts fellowship in Indonesia (she’s also an FA girl, also magna cum laude); and R is working on a project for a Mindanao-based non-profit org (she was in Art Studies and, yes, also magna cum laude).
I suppose you will understand if I share that I felt a little, um, different? Clearly I am the “black sheep” in this group. When we were kids we talked about how “weird” it would be to work from 8 to 5 and to be in somebody else’s employ. Somehow all of them ended up doing the things we once dreamed of — they’re now artists who matter, still as ambitious as when we were 13.
But I’m not begging for a pat on the back here, kids. I learned early on (thanks to my good friend Frances Ha, charot) that art and passion — sometimes you need a little cushion of privilege to pursue them. To say that my friends are smart and talented is an understatement; they’re simply some of the most brilliant in their fields. They’re also from well-to-do families, they were never forced to be this-or-that, and they all grew up in households that supported whatever it was they wanted to pursue. They’re just awesome people, man, and I will always be grateful that they still welcome me in their lives. (Drama???)
And I’m doing fine myself, I think. I’ve done a few things that are worth some merit in this merit-crazy world, and my decision to pivot towards a STEM career has so far proven to be a good one. The four years I spent in engineering have maimed my self-esteem, but I never seriously considered quitting. I see myself growing in this profession, and to be able to say this when almost a decade ago I was so close to failing Math 1 (opo, hindi Math 17, Math 1 lang talaga) — baks, I didn’t just go inside that Room for Improvement. I fucking renovated it.
The only thing that’s pulling me down is the fact that I’m here, that I’m far from everything and from everyone. But I will deal with this later. I know in my heart (charot) that this isn’t bound to last forever (not charot).
The featured image was patterned after the works of Kasiq, a Korea-based fashion illustrator. And because I’m feelingera and I want to give this “piece” a title, I came up with two options: A) Spaghetti Pababa / Spaghetti Pataas or B) Ulong Pugot Nanlalagot. Pili kayo, charot.