The Polymath

The Polymath

The envelope was ivory white, perfectly sealed so prying eyes won’t catch a glimpse. Its edges were sharp to touch, something I found a relevant circumstance to what I was about to find. A tap on one corner and ting!- a sound of a thousand needles rang through my ears. I felt being pricked not just in the skin but also into my arteries. Blood, I see a thin read streak from a small opening, a tear voluntarily snaked its way down from the tiny gash. But I was only imagining things. What was real was the envelope in my hands. Ivory white. Perfectly sealed.

“Open it when you’re alone,” I was told by my manager, “And count your earnings in private.”

But that was said to me as a half-meant joke, exactly a year ago when I received what was told to be my entry-level pay. I was happy, not that being a writer finally had given me a monetary value, but because I gave my dreams a solid start. I have been writing all my life, but never practiced it to benefit other people. On that day I received my first off white envelope, my smile almost stretched to my ears.

“What a dream to live,” my 22-year-old self used to say.

There was that slim packet again in my veiny hands, casing the familiar anxiety I detest whenever I tear it open. I was about to give it a go, but I stopped and looked around me. Perhaps, to catch a glimpse of other people’s compensations. Five figures, maybe a thousand or two more than what’s stated on my paycheck, written in consistent letters: Courier New in 9 points.

“Patience,” something only my mind whispered a lot.

“You have to start from the bottom,” my mom once said, “That’s where successful people begin.”

“I know, but do I deserve to be treated unfairly?”, I replied.

“That’s how the world spins my dear,” she said, raising her thin brows to reveal her prominent brown eyes.

We touched that topic when I found out why our paychecks were meant only for one pair of eyes. I was disgruntled, of course, and had a long-winded inner conversation with myself about the predicament.

No matter how talented you are, the fact that you are fresh in the workforce neither regards your capacity to write nor value what you have achieved when you were still in school. Yes, that reality stinks like piss but as a cub I had to suck that in. Every cub has to suck that in.

I thought of opening the envelope when I arrive home. I know that won’t change anything, but at least no one has to ever see me get internally steamed up again, or sulk in one corner for that matter. Either has happened and it earned me a good whooping during evaluations.

Like the desperate and disheartened young adult that I was, I walked out after my shift without looking back. The warmth of the setting sun cast an orange haze through the glass windows. The elevator doors had a tinge of soft tangerine and strong metallic grey. The inconsistent luminosity winked at me as the sallow orb of light was slowly sinking down the edge of the horizon outside. Heaving a sigh of what seems to be a lack of complaint, I stepped inside the elevator with heavy a heart has had carried.

I thought I might explode but the elevator suddenly shuddered before I could do so as it reached the 6th floor. The doors, however, smoothly glided to each side revealing wide-paneled glass doors. It was dark inside, the blinds were drawn and the only light emanating within glowed from huge Apple Mac screens on rows of long white tables. As far as I have observed, some men and perhaps women in hooded jackets turned their swivel chairs around to see the opening of the elevator doors.

“This must be so distracting,” I thought.

Two men slowly entered the elevator as one pushed a rolling cart full of empty water containers. I tried not to mind them as I tiptoed to savor the scene in front of me. More than the awe that struck me (because yes, those Mac screens), I was curious what the company was all about. Since I thought of Apple Mac as something graphic artists and web designers must have, I presumed they were the kind of people I also want to become. Those people who are capable of creating something visually appealing other than the descriptive gimmicks writers write.

Then I saw an expanse of greyness in front of me. The silver doors quickly closed faster than they had opened. Too soon for me to understand the sedentary view behind them.

“I wish I could…” I stopped mumbling as one of the men took a pen and a notepad to list the day’s remittance.
…………………
Wonder flooded my senses until the bellowing honk of the public bus killed it. The brakes screeched hard, sending the passengers forcefully forward right on their seats. The whir of the engine was somehow soft, like a gentle patter of rain on the roof. The bus door let out a loud hissed as it opened in front of me and a man past his prime nodded as if to mean that I were expected.

“You know what’s a good thing about getting a bus ride?” I remembered my high school best friend said one day as we skipped the bus home. We were walking a good distance under the red sky, the clouds melting away like sweet little pink puffs. We walked until the sun had sunk so low and the sky was the color of a bruise.

“They’re cheaper than cabs?” I answered, somehow expecting it wasn’t the thing she was about to say.

“No, no!” she waved her slender hands, her forearms shook like rigid stick figures.

“You see, whenever I take the bus, the people around me do not matter at all. Like I’m just all I alone, staring at blurred trees and buildings outside,” she said.

“Oh, you really think it’s like that?”

“C’mon! Don’t tell me you haven’t felt it yet. I know you have, you are not just aware of it,” her pursed lips slightly smirked.

“Oh, wait, so you mean I don’t matter to you when we’re on the bus?” the thought suddenly sprang up and I was waiting for her to blow her top over that kind of question, which she sometimes did. Instead Mary Ashley, my best friend, shrugged it off like it was not a big deal.

“Lisa Cobbler’s doing her thing again!” Mary swung her right arm around my shoulders and pressed me closer to her side, “How about we stop by Casey’s for an ice cream?”

I pushed a tongue out, then told her why Casey’s would not be a good option for two hungry and growing teens.

Somehow, Mary Ashley was right.

I had deep thoughts that afternoon on the bus, where I only spoke to myself internally in spite of the people around me. The sea of heads wobbled and peaked like loose attachments to necks over the back of the seats. And although I had a 20/20 vision, the faces that surrounded me were blurred.

It’s true. The trees and buildings dashed before my eyes in split seconds, and all I could think about were my could-haves in life. Then the thought of Mary Ashley came. What has happened to that girl? Where did she go? Does she still have the same sentiment about getting on the bus?

The road was becoming wider as the bus entered the highway. Then, we were sent forward again as the driver stepped on the brakes. Only this time, my reflexes kicked in, launching my arms on top of the back seat in front of me. Just in time as my face was about to hit it.

I moaned but everyone else did not seem to care about it, as though it’s really a thing to be lurching every now and then on the bus.

A moment had passed and as I looked through the window, I saw a 2010 white mini cooper stopping in front of my sight. I like minis, they look so chic and efficient. I wondered how much they cost and if I could ever afford it one day.

Then I saw a young woman behind the wheels, her head rested on a beige leather seat. She was talking to the person behind her, who was busy arranging what appeared to be large canvases carelessly wrapped in brown paper. She was smiling whilst talking. An expensive gold watch clasped securely around her slim right wrist. Her frail fingers rhythmically tapped the black steering wheel as she waited for the red traffic light to turn green.

The watch, the mini, the paintings- the young woman in that car had everything I ever wanted. I felt envy boiling inside me, and I could have felt more resentful if I knew the young woman had painted those canvases. Until then, there’s nothing much I could do but to suppose and watch.

“Rich kids,” I muttered, apparently taking no notice of the middle-aged woman sitting beside me.

“I suppose you have a disdain for rich people?” the woman spoke.

I turned to face her, not quite sure if it was me she was talking to.

“Not at all. I do like to be one though. It is just at this moment that some people who are as young as me- apparently those born from rich parents- are now driving luxury cars and owning things only the rich buy,” I answered, sounding like an injured puppy.

“Maybe it’s true. Money is power.” She pouted her lower lip. Her soft auburn curls framed her aging face.

“Of course, it is.”

“I can’t tell you much about money. I, too, have a hitch with debts on my own. But you can use that thing in between your ears to help you,” the woman bitterly answered.

I was about to ask her if she also had used her head one time to solve her woes, but only looking at her sullen expression made me think otherwise.

“What I want right now is to be rightfully valued or appreciated for what I am doing or have done.” I looked at my shoes as I said that, a bit embarrassed by my impassioned response.

“You want to get that, yes. But all while yearning for wealth.”

I looked at her, puzzled. She smiled as she gave out a heavy, long sigh. “Of course, of course. You deserve better.”

The bus stopped without a warn and the woman got off slowly. She didn’t look back at her new acquaintance. She didn’t throw a single glance at me. I felt she could have said more but chose not to, letting her words trail off when she said I deserve better. Then I saw her walked in the street with her head down as the bus passed by her, and she never held it up until she was out of my sight.

A sudden wave of fear engulfed me. “What if I am about to turn like her? Apologetic yet vindictive, passing up shots that could have been my ticket to a good future,” I thought as soon as I recognized my anxiety.

There were many times I was offered good positions by well-established corporations, but I turned them down only to become a writer. Books pull me in as words haunt me. There’s no escape, there’s no intention of running away. But the now had me thinking if all of my choices were worth it. If being a word factory for others would ever quench my thirst for success. If enslaving myself would do me well in the end, most importantly to my soul that knows dissatisfaction is just around the corner. I was never satisfied. I am never easily satisfied.
……………….
I got my headphones on as I opened my apartment door. Bills posted on my corky board greeted me, a reminder that I still have obligations left to take care of. Mozart’s Symphony no. 25 in G minor, K. 183 blared through my ears in full volume. It’s melody leapt and the fierce unison of the violins descended, gripping my expectations hard, violent, and intense. The dotted rhythm stopped for a second and a short moment of peace and refinement consolidated my senses. Not long after, a menacing piano unison introduced a new sensation. Confidence suddenly, progressively grew inside me and overshadowed my fears and desolation.

A sly smirk curved my thin lips as I dropped everything on the floor. I gathered the oil and acrylic tubes strewn all over my working table and pulled a stained wooden box that kept my stiff brushes. I took out the single-mast easel underneath my bed, set it up, and mounted a large blank canvas on its frame. I stood there for quite some time, one hand pressed under my chin. Then, I remembered something…

I took the ivory white envelope from my bag one last time. My scrawny fingers ran over the paper’s smoothness. A tingle crept its way down my spine, spreading across my skin and sending a bolt of current on my fingertips. I shivered and pulled myself together after.

Without further ado, I tore the envelope open from one side- carefully and slowly- ensuring not to rip the crisp paper inside. I pulled my paycheck out and looked at the figures printed in Courier New, 9 points.

No words came in my mind. Not a single word formed on my lips. I pushed the paycheck back inside the envelope and looked at the blank canvas, feeling a bit hopeless yet somehow inspired to do something new.

END

Sneak Peek: The Unraveling Of Adora Caprice

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Chapter One

He Who Refuses to Pray

Do not ask me to come to church with you, or to accompany you in a prayer meeting. I like none of those things. I loathe it. Not that I hate God- the word ‘hate’, by the way, is a very strong word less than loathe. Let us just say I used to feel sick with all the Amen and Halleluiah happening everyday of my life, seven days a week, seven times a day instead of ten, because I do not pray when I am alone. I was just sick of it, that’s all. But I like the idea of God if you would ask.

There was the morning prayer whenever we got out of bed. Five minutes after a groggy awakening following Sister Maria’s bellows of good morning. I swear they were not the kind a man would want to hear at the crack of dawn. They were like sermons from hell, annoying yet frightening. We had no choice for that place’s Marias were the good people who fed and sheltered us. Although I was secretly grateful, I hated the place. No, loathed it.

After waking us up, we would get ourselves ready for the daily mass before we could fill each of our hungry innards with a cup of hot sour coffee and a plate of bland sunny side up quail eggs with two burnt slices of bread and diced potatoes, or a saucy sausage breakfast burrito with tiny pieces of meat and lots of garlic. In times when donations did not seem to amount much for our little luxuries, Sister Maria- the cook-, would instead prepare her overrated charro beans soup on the table. But before we could dive our hands into our meal, we would pray.

I whined at these moments, sometimes while playing a spoon with my hand. There was one time Sister Maria- the alarm clock- caught me rolling my eyes as Sister Maria- the Grammar teacher- said it was time to give thanks to the Lord for the food on the table. There were times I was happy to oblige to this when the food seemed good, but that day was the charro beans soup day. And Sister Maria, the formidable Maria of the seven Marias in the boys’ orphanage and the one who alarmed us at dawn, came to me in tight strides.

I was ready for an ear pinching and beating. But the formidable Sister Maria only stood behind me and placed her two hands on my shoulders. It was not even a tight grip, but a simple touch bored with caution. I smelled the caution from her hands, not just felt it. Because whenever you see the formidable Sister Maria, you approach her with caution, regardless of who approaches first. She smelled like old people, too.

“Is there a problem chico?” she calmly asked, still not moving a finger on my shoulders.

“Nothing that I know, Sister. Well, is there a problem I should be concerned of?” I asked in pure sarcasm, though I was stiff as a stone at her presence.

“Maybe… if you stop being an ingrate for a second. If I were you, I’d be patient enough to wait for my release, which is a year from now. I’d be 17 at that time, not too young or too old to explore the world outside, but certainly incapable and unknowing of how to move around after a 17-year confinement. The world out there is not what you think it is, not the kind one chico. Certainly not. If you think this place stinks like piss, wait ’til you see the outside,” she paused for a few seconds and continued in a gentler tone, “So why don’t you make every second in here count? You’ll miss the food and accommodation a year from now for sure.”

“I hope not. The meals started to become predictable when I was six. Prayers became meaningless when I turned twelve. I still don’t know your names and assume you are all Marias. And I’m dying to get out of here since then,” I said as I slightly turned around and craned my neck to see her eye to eye.

The tension in the air rose, though the children from the far end tables continued eating, oblivious to what was happening. The teens, on the other hand, were aware I was at it again. They fairly knew my ability to get into the formidable Sister Maria’s nerves.

Sister Maria heaved a painful sigh and removed her hands off my shoulders. Then, caught by surprised, my right ear suddenly stung. Sister Maria was grabbing it with her two tiny fingers. I flinched in agony, fighting the urge to scream in pain and give her the satisfaction of seeing me submit to her authority. But I had no choice. I bit my tongue behind clenched teeth as I followed her outside the kitchen, toward the front left side of the orphanage.

Damn my ear hurt like it was struck with fire. The strength of the formidable Sister Maria did not surprise me though. No matter how well-fed we looked at the boy’s orphanage, her ear pinching would carry us around. Our bulky stature was no match for her two tiny fingers.

I was outside then, a bit glad that I escaped the day’s lectures and prayers. I was a veteran at that and would exchange my limited privileges plotting my escape under the sweltering heat of the sun. Then, regret would dawn at me by noon, as the stinging temperature and humidity become insufferable. I would bathe myself in sweat and remain stinking by the end of the day- hungry, parched, and feeling idiotic.

Inside the orphanage, the prayers would go on: the Angelus at noon, the giving of thanks before lunch, the three o’clock prayer, the Angelus at dusk, the giving of thanks before supper, a quick visit at the chapel which I would skip, and the prayer for a good night’s sleep. The last, I had barely practiced. We lived there like monks, but lived with some nuns, ironically.

Anyway, I realized Sister Maria, the formidable, was somehow right. Although I respect authority, I easily lose it when the people put in that role cannot justify things or put logic into perspective. That time, Sister Maria might have said her side well. One year is not that long, only if I would sleep it through or do something worthwhile aside from the routine. Besides, I had my three other amigos in the orphanage who understood my detestation for the norm. I had Manuel, Jimmy, and Hugo- three men who knew I was not one to keep in a cage. But these three amigos also believed, by suggestion, that I enjoyed a solitary life most of the time. That was why they did not do the things that I did.

That noon, I was already sitting on the front steps of the kitchen’s exit door. I saw some little boys, ages six to nine, running around inside the huge sandbox in front of the building. It was after lunch and they were enjoying a 30-minute break before classes resumed. I felt a pang of envy because those little brats had their breakfast and lunch heartily, obviously not minding how predictable their meals were. I could use a glass of cold water to cure my hunger, or jealousy, to say the least.

As if God heard my inner desire- not prayer because like I said, I do not pray when I am alone- Sister Maria, the mother superior, sat beside me and casually handed me a tall glass of cold water.

“Here, have something to relieve your hunger,” the mother superior said.

“Thanks,” I simply said in awe and wonder. Not quite used to this gesture, I started to become queasy. As she sat down there beside me, I could imagine some talc-like dusts clinging on her black habit, exactly the shape of her bottom, not in a lasciviously way though.

“You know kid, I’d like to help you sometimes. You know, just let you outta here, opening the gates wide open. But I’m doing your mother a favour. Whoever left you here,” she said, as if my biological mother obliged them to take me in until I turn ripe at seventeen.

“Nah, don’t bother. I can take care of myself,” I said before chugging the water down in two quick successions. The coolness washed over my dried throat, expounding the soreness in each hard gulp.

“We’re not depriving you of food. We only want you to realize how you can earn it by simply being good. It’s all common sense if you come think of it. In here, you are no god, but you can be an angel,” she replied with a lilt in her voice.

I looked at her from head to toe, as though I was sizing her up. I thought she was no more than sixty years old, old enough to become my grandmother. She had exaggerated creases on the forehead and little lines on both sides of her mouth. I’m not even surprised, as years of taking care of boys is no easy feat for a woman. But Sister Maria, the mother superior, just acted cool and confident that she could talk with boys my age.

Check out this review of An Abundance of Katherines

Here is a review by Nikkah: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1166906397

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I admit this book tickled me the most above all YA novels I had read. Its light, crafty humor had me giggling at best. But although I like it in a way I like toddlers, I also find it some sort of annoying. Reading An Abundance of Katherines led me to believe I might be old for this YA stuff.

I thought Colin could have made use of his superb intellect making something more worthy than formulating a theorem for his inability to keep a Katherine. He spent straining his neck, as well as his 200+ IQ, on what I think is a crappy subject for his level of intelligence- regardless of how he applied math in there. But maybe this is why he never became a genius.

For Colin Singleton, “You matter as much as the things that matter to you.”… And what only mattered to him was how he can keep a relationship last, especially with a Katherine- the reason for the roadtrip, which, by the way, led him to a more self-centered person than he was: Lindsey.

However, above everything else I just said, is a praise I would like to give to John Green for his clever writing and humor. Green saved the book, annoyed me with the hopeless romatic Colin and his theorem, and saved the book again.

Artists Are Never Satisfied

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I do not always feel content. This can be seen by how I end my stories and artworks. What I often do is abandon my work, as if it is finished, as if I am already contented with what I have done. But I am never content about it. Every time I see my work, I think of what I could have done more if I continued working on it, but I could not care less of finishing it.  Though, it looks like it’s done.

To say that I am already content with my work although it isn’t finished yet is wrong. That’s just how I see my work- when I feel that it is done, it is done. It is a feeling of some sort of unhappiness, but never of contentment or satisfaction.  I am never satisfied. There will always be a fragment of wonder and regret on each piece.

To the people who see it, they think I have done a wonderful complete job.  Some are fascinated by unfinished works, thinking they are already done when the creators think they really are not.

That is also how I see art: incomplete, unsatisfied. That is how I see artists: dissatisfied, frustrated more often than not. Artists keep moving on.

War, death, and moving on to a new place are also some of the reasons creative pieces are sometimes left incomplete.

Where were Mona Lisa’s eyebrows? What was Tolkien searching for that he failed to finish The Silmarillion? Would Hemingway be happy about the posthumous publishing of his unfinished novels if he was alive? How would Kafka feel that his unfinished stories were published against his request to destroy them after his death?

There are just things that are better left undone. People have this need to fill the gap on some fascinating, yet incomplete works of art. They are given the chance to grab an insight into the minds of their creators. These creators, like I am, are impulsive. We are moved by intense feelings, and when these feelings subside in the middle of our work…

I am Where I am Not

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To a writer who savours a quiet environment, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, a countryside bungalow or a modern block house on top of a chilly mountain is the ideal living space. Why would such isolation console my being? How does it constitute to my personal and career goals?

It’s all about that one book, or maybe two that I hope to publish one day. Every writer believes he has a book in him just living inside, waiting for the perfect piece to complete its plot. But I don’t need that piece. What I need is a place, a place where I can freely roam my imagination far beyond the skyscrapers currently blocking my view, more distant from the loud rev of engines I grew up listening.

It’s not that I lack creativity, because they say creative geniuses flourish in chaos. It’s only that I need a tranquil abode where I can put the chaos of my mind into order. I am done with the pandemonium passing by me every single day, and I am on the edge of dealing with my own chaos, my own demons. My mind is a rich place of ideas, of stories that I am eager to let loose, yet it’s also filled with frustrations and disappointments that bound to grow every time I think of not being able to write that book. It makes me feel less of the person who I think I truly am- a writer.

My own kind of a perfect retreat: a bungalow sitting in the middle of verdant greens where my stories naturally flow. It should be overlooking past the lush mountains to the far away sea. The window, yes, my working table should sit near that window. Then, I would cuddle in a thick blanket at night, still not taking my eyes off the letters slowly but surely filling the blank space. I would sleep peacefully without rushing to go where my dreams take place, because why not? In that place I am free. No pressure. Nobody can tell me my writing sucks. Nobody can judge me by my inexperience. Nothing is stopping me to grow.

In there, as for me, I am complete. I have life.

But I have to eat so I have to work. I need money so I have to work. I need to take care of some people so I have to work. I don’t want to be completely alone so I have to fucking work.

This is my life but this isn’t me.

(My DailyPage Prompt #1. Visit http://www.dailypage.co/)

Surviving Sinulog Music Festivals the Smart Way

Photo by: DJ Fabian taken during Lifedance Cebu 2013.

Photo by: DJ Fabian taken during Lifedance Cebu 2013.

The annual Lifedance and Spectrum’s Sinulog Invasion, as well as other music festivals rocking the grand Sinulog Mardi Gras have people with good tastes for dance and music excited. But attending these grandiose music festivals isn’t all peaches. Along with the euphoria we get from listening to the electronic ear-popping music, is also our anxiousness of making it out alive from the restless sea of movement.

Outdoor street parties and music festivals have become a rite of passage for teens and adults. For those eager to cough up a thousand(s) of cash from their pockets to witness their favourite bands and DJs do their ‘thang’ live, here are some tips to make the most out of Sinulog music festivals without ever feeling skittish.

1. Dress for the Fun Occasion, Comfortably

As seen in teen.com

As seen in teen.com

This is my favourite part and it all boils down to initiative. You should know that the weather in January, especially the dates around the festival is kind of erratic. Therefore, you should be geared for all kinds of weather. This no-brainer tip means you should put on the right clothes.

For Women:

Lifedance, for example, is going to be held on the SRP ground which is highly-susceptible to flood and mud when rain comes pouring. Your expensive Tory Burch flats or Manolos won’t do. Don’t even think about wearing slippers if you don’t want to get mud sticking on your barely-covered feet or bottle splinters piercing through your skin. The best footwear to wear is an inexpensive but durable ballet flats or a pair of shoes made of synthetic rubber like a stylish semi-Prima Crocs flats. You can also sport a pair of sneakers.

You should also find a comfortable yet stylish top that you are willing to dispose after. Actually, a simple white shirt or sleeveless will do. It’s because you’ll never know what other people are going to throw at you. You can buy Sinulog festival shirts in Island Souvenirs and other local shops that you can cut or customise for the occasion.

A pair of denim shorts will do. If you can help it, avoid denim cut-offs that are short enough to qualify as an underwear.

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Speaking of don’ts, a romper might be a good outfit to keep you cool and cute, but imagine yourself peeing naked in a port-a-potty. I really don’t think rompers are good to wear in music festivals where finding a decent toilet could be a problem.

For Men:

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You can do well with any comfortable shirt that isn’t pricey and a pair of men’s shorts (khaki, chino, plaid). Complete the look with a pair of shoes that you’re ready to expose in mud and dirt.

Here are some smart choices you could pull off:

From Topshop.com

From Topshop.com

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2. Don’t Over Accessorise

Not necessarily less is more, but think about your comfort.

Not necessarily less is more, but think about your comfort.

As much as you want to look festive like your Christmas tree last December, over-accessorising may bring you more hassle than fun. They tend to be heavy when you move and might hit others close to you as you jump and wave your hands to the music. Otherwise, a single or layered long necklace is enough. You can also add a few colourful bracelets if you’re itching to wear some.

If you’re planning to wear a headgear (this isn’t Coachella!), it’s fine as long as you keep it to a minimum. You can amp this look with a pair of trendy sunglasses (oh, not the neons) if the party is in broad daylight.

A money belt tucked in front of your shorts is also a smart choice if you want to avoid pickpockets. See how Kylie Jenner pulls the practically fab look:

Kylie Jenner rocked that gold-studded money belt.

Kylie Jenner rocked that gold-studded money belt.

And if you don’t take my word for it, you can always opt for a cute shoulder bag.

3. Know Where the Toilets and Port-a-Potties Are

Lots-of-Porta-Potties

Relieving yourself could be a bit frustrating in large music festivals. Most are likely doing the pee-pee dance when they’ve waited long enough far in the line. You should know where the nearest port-a-potties are so when time comes you have to let it go, you can always get there fast. But sometimes lines could extend far beyond your patience, so find alternative toilets from nearby establishments. The farther, the shorter the line.

4. Go in Groups

group at a music festival

In music festivities, being alone is no fun. Go to these events with your party-loving buddies. You will never know what will happen to you when you’re alone. It’s possible that phone network signals get jammed during Sinulog.

You and your friends should plan ahead for everything. This means getting to an agreement of your meeting spots when mobile communication isn’t possible.

5. Have These Essentials in Your Bag

Women, heads up!

Women, heads up!

• Wet/Shower wipes- because you’ll start smelling as the hours tick by.
• Small Cologne- to freshen your sweaty bod.
• Pocket Money- just the right amount to get you to and from the venue and buy you some booze/water and food to consume.
• Some grooming tools for a quick retouch
• Cellphone- but bring this along with extreme caution
• Keys & ID
• Alcohol/ Sanitizer- because public port-a-potties will inevitably get disgusting.
• Extra Shirt

6. Have Fun!

The goal is to feel comfortable as much as possible. But hey, you don’t have to take my word for it. You can do whatever you want as long as you are having fun and are wise enough to survive along with the lively crowd. Don’t get bummed up if others spill drinks above the partying crowd or get dirty in the experience. Soak up everything in if you wish.

Don’t get anxious with these tips as they are just mere guidelines to make the best out of the experience. Don’t feel pressured or anything to follow them.

After all, you’re going there to enjoy the music and the experience.

The Fear to Disappoint

The Fear to Disappoint

The Town I Miss

I miss home, that is, If I really have any. I grew up in a small town, too old-fashioned, a town condemning people who disappoint. If you get pregnant at such young age or out of wedlock, you’re the hottest gossip whilst getting disgusted looks. If you’re the child of an ex-convict, no one bothers to check you out or get serious with you. If you’re the ex-convict, the doors for employment close in a blink. If you’re the only child, don’t bother thinking it’s okay to fail. Everyone gets a reputation to save.

That’s why I learned to hate the place. I actually have a love-hate relationship with it. I get sentimental at this point, which sometimes do happen, feeling too homesick and nostalgic. Don’t judge. I’ve never stepped on its soil since March of 2013.

If you’d ask me why I haven’t gone home since graduating from college, the answer lies on my first point- I don’t like coming home as a disappointment. FYI, I am an only child. FYI, I was an achiever. FYI, my mother is one of the best teachers in town. FYI, my father is already a disappointment (refer above, see which fits). And so I have a sense of responsibility to show the world that I’m the only redemption left to my father’s sorry state and to my mother’s high expectations.

The Struggle to Not Disappoint

So I got a promising job in one of the country’s biggest conglomerates. I had myself dressed in black blazers, knee-high pencil skirts, tan or black pumps, and most of the time, a handful air of confidence. That’s my first job, where I have to look after 6 older, able, and more experienced real estate agents than me.

The hard part is, whatever they do, how much money coming in from their sales, or how poorly they perform- they always reflect at how good of a leader I was. It’s dumbfounding, nerve-racking, and stressful. Remember that it’s my first job. I was just a 21 year-old fresh graduate acting like the oldest, wisest member of the team.

I felt so fake. I thought, “I got to fake this feeling. I’ll just wear a smile and show to them that everything’s fine. I hope they believe me, this 21 year-old know-nothing achiever.” Yet, that feeling didn’t say much of how I can lead a team. I know I was born to lead, I’ve felt it since I started leading groups to greatness at school. The only problem was, that’s not the perfect time to lead one. I know deep inside that to effectively lead a team, you’ve got to be a member first to know the ins and outs of the job. You can’t lead a battalion to war without knowing the terrain first. Ask Sun Tzu about that.

Just as I thought I was on my way of showing the townsfolk that I was on the road to success, I stopped and examined how I really felt. “I am not happy. Not at all,” I said to myself. No matter how I tried to be optimistic, I knew I didn’t love what I was doing. And so I called my mother, sucked the corporate air into my lungs before dropping the bomb, and said “I quit.”

I tell you, it felt good. The corporate air I heavily breathed turned menthol cool as I breathed it out. Of course, my mother was disappointed, but understanding. “Do what makes you happy,” she said.

Three months after, I got a new job as a writer in an Australian-owned company- the job I’m having now. It’s my dream to become one, even though others take credit of what I so professionally do. I’m cool with that and happy to be of service to them, so far. Hey, the fact that I write as a job is already fulfilling on my part, let alone covering topics that I’m interested into- business and marketing. This makes me somewhat of an expert.

Again, I don’t think people from my place is proud of what I’m doing. They expect more from me. When I graduated from the university as a Magna Cum Laude, they put up a big banner in front of my high school Alma mater to let others know they’re proud of me. And so the people passed by it might have said, “Wow! She’s that good? Let’s wait until she gets a job. A job they can also be proud of.”

That’s unfair!

The Reality to Live or Leave By

I miss home though. I want to go back without ever being judged or asked about what I do. I’m proud of being a writer, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that, it’s not what they pictured out in their minds of me doing. They don’t care about writers, the world is already full of it. What they think they need is an engineer, a doctor, a politician, a teacher, or a manager. That’s just how a town, which is gloomy and desolate on normal days, think I think. It needs something or someone to be excited about to make it alive again.

I don’t also like them asking me why I’ve become this stick thin (a little exaggeration here) and have to tell them that I’m stressed at work or I lost my appetite or I experienced some kind of illness. I don’t like being prodded with questions which have obvious answers. In short, I don’t want to be talked about in a bad light. I already grew up in the shadows that I have to escape from them. And being in a bad light means I’m becoming a disappointment.

I only think of these things whenever I plan on going back home. Most of the time, I let go of my doubts, thinking I will never be truly happy if I keep on meeting other people’s expectations. It’s as if I’m not living my own life if I do that. I’ve got one life to live so I might as well live it as I want it to, and that excludes being the person I am not.

In reality, I’m not really sure what the people from the town think. I haven’t been in there for a year and a half, maybe they’ve changed. Anyway, not all people from there are like that. There are some with open minds, always accepting the changes as they come and go, and I’m happy that I know this kind of people.

Fact of the matter is, as I write this piece, I also think that maybe I’m the one who’s old-fashioned. I write this as if I represent what the townspeople do or think. Or maybe I’m the one who’s pushing myself too hard to please others, the one who really condemns myself. Maybe there’s really no bar of expectation for me to exceed. That I’m just making these things all up just to compensate for what I think are my failures.

The town is not at fault, there are some people in it who are. Including me.

Please do forgive me. I love you.

When Pranks Go Wrong

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The infamous killer clown from DM Pranks.

Funny good old pranks are dead. Today, pranks have become highly-elaborated and well-thought of. With YouTube being the leading go-to platform for professional pranksters, pranks have been recorded, shared to millions of viewers, and even generated thousands of cash for their producers.

The Dangers of a Daring Prank

But some people have a crooked understanding of performing these pranks, to the extent of setting up something more dangerous. Sure, we get great laughs watching people get shit scared to seeing devious fake assailants or to all powdered up, blood-soaked ghosts. But what if these pranksters we watch meet some people who don’t share their fun?

There are two possible scenarios which will eventually happen: one, the victim will succumb to his fears and get a heart attack or two, the same man will pull out the gun from his pocket and will no doubt shoot the poor prankster. Both scenarios produce the same outcome- death.

I have nothing against these scream-loving people upon imagining these things. I in fact enjoy the shows sometimes and get good laughs out of them. Yet, I also do think of the worst for the people involved. Let’s just say that I’m presenting a precautionary tale of an inevitable disaster waiting to be unfolded later in a prankster’s life.

I’m a solid believer of Murphy’s Law, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” This is a fact.

Killer Pranks that Sell

YouTube and 9gag have given me the chance to watch these famous prankster videos on the internet. I see and hear the conniving band behind the cameras giggle as people scream and run away from a ‘supposed to be crime scene’, with the fake killer emerging from nowhere and trying to chase these people with an axe or chainsaw in hand. I sometimes imagine how people’s fears have fed their popularity, or their YouTube hits, or even their bank accounts.

“C’mon, these pranksters have no job. They’d rather try to kill people with a heart attack than to scrape for a living,” a friend once said. I somehow find it true. With the elaborate pranks in their weekly agenda, it sure takes a few days staging up something as frightening as these jokers are capable of producing.

I’ve decided to write this commentary after watching the video of the now-famous Vitaly Zdorovetskiy on YouTube. His YT Channel Vitalyzdtv has a striking reputation of showing both safe and dangerous pranks, all are targeted to disturb other people’s peace. His most famous stunt yet was when he crashed into the 2014 World Cup during the Finals. I like the Russian guy though. I’m just concerned over his welfare.

As if his greatest prank to date wasn’t enough, Vitaly has recorded another semi-realistic chainsaw massacre prank that had spurred an enormous buzz over the internet in just 2 days. The video lasted over 2 minutes but has also garnered over 10 million YouTube hits in the said span of days.

The staged prank? A blood-draped chainsaw-wielding maniac suddenly emerges and drags a limbless man who’s screaming for help. The victim’s guts were hanging freely under what seemed to be a mutilated torso. It’s the most horrendous yet funniest prank of the year from Vitaly.

It wouldn’t have been that convincing if not for the hapless and limbless actor who starred in the show. His name was Nick Santonastasso who has a peculiar birth defect in which he suffers from missing limbs. The poor victims of the prank were beyond terrified seeing both Nick and his killer.

If you haven’t seen it yet, watch the video below:

Stupid Pranks You Shouldn’t Do

Vitaly is just one of the many modern day pranksters who have taken pranking into the next level. The guy is lucky he still walks on this planet up to this day. Others have had their own share of pranks gone horribly wrong, with some even in close range with death. A few are quite unlucky, resulting to their untimely deaths due to lack of preparation and stupidity. Well, most pranks nowadays are stupid, right?

The intention of most pranks has been all about trying to scare or kill other people. We know at the back of our minds how these pranksters should be doing prison time with all the crazy stuff going on. What they’re doing is a type of aggravated assault in some states. Pointing a deadly weapon, even if it’s a replica still counts. The act itself threatens to take away life which is something disturbingly serious into the emotional and mental state of the victim.

These pranksters may or may not be aware of concealed gun carriers. When, in some unfortunate instances, a joker in a clown suit threatens a concealed carrier with a gigantic hammer, there’s a big chance the supposed victim will draw his gun in defense. Although he’s licensed to carry a gun, he doesn’t have the right to kill. Unless he thinks his life is in grave danger, then he could do so to defend himself.

Of course, who won’t think his life is in danger when a psychopath chases him away? It’s our instinct to defend ourselves to unknown dangerous forces. We either fight or flee. But with the option to choose and use a defensive weapon, we sometimes get brave enough to stand our ground and fight.

There are just pranks that are not meant to be executed. Sure, if a prank turns out successful it’s fun to watch. But what if it’s the other way around? It will go all horribly wrong with consequences ranging from getting one’s ass whooped to an unfortunate death. I just hope the situation won’t go as far as that.

The Prettiest Thing

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Eloise

“I wish I hadn’t known you,” Rafe said, his glare forbidding me not to utter a single word.

I felt every muscle of my body tensed, and then loosen up as I hung my head low. It was my fault. He had every right to feel that way. His anger searing, turning the pale skin of his pretty face red. He must hadn’t gotten enough sleep lately, his eyes rested inside the grey circles surrounding them. I wished the case hadn’t been like that since I left. It must have been a torture he wasn’t able to cope.

It had been 3 and a half years since we had this kind of conversation. The last time ended abruptly as I spilled my real reason of breaking up with him. He was the first and the last victim of my inability to overcome a first love. Such pretty thing to lose though.

Rafe

It was far from being tortured. In fact, it never felt that way.

The last thing I wanted to hear from her became my worse nightmare. The kind of nightmare that never wakes you up, an inescapable dream of running in just one place- slow yet wearisome. It throws you into a state of oblivion wherein you forget everything there was to remember, yet you’re still there, unable to move, hoping that things would get better again.

“I wish I hadn’t known you,” I firmly said between clenched teeth. Little did this pretty thing in front of me know that I was internally screaming from within the rotten condition of my soul.

“No Eloise, it wasn’t a torture as your eyes suggest. It was a demolition- my world reduced to rubbles.” I wasn’t able to make those into words. I was scared I might push her farther away now that she’s here in front of me.

As I stared at her apologetic gesture, I realized our love was already doomed by the first time we had known each other. It was the perfect love that makes up all the wrongs of a  broken relationship- the right love at the wrong time.

Of Content Curating and Love for Widbook

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Bloggin’ and Rockin’

While I can now claim myself as a certified writer by profession (yes, I get paid to write and blog for a company), I found how writing is a hardcore skill that almost everyone thinks everybody can easily learn. No, it’s not programming. No, it’s not crunching numbers. No, it’s not simply stringing words together.

It’s beyond putting those fancy words you learn on a blank sheet. Writing entails an interminable desire to constantly learn and research new things. Then, piece those learning together to create a high-quality content or  rich plot to a story. And you’d be surprise how those learnt flowery vocabulary of yours become futile in delivering your message.

My love for telling stories won’t ever die, after all I pushed myself hard on learning the writing skill because of it. I’ve been writing since time immemorial, maybe between the days that most children my age prefer playing tags. I’ve been to various writing competitions since age 11, and every loss and win inspires me to improve more. It’s hard since the English language isn’t our primary tongue.

Now that I’m writing for others everyday of my life, I come to deviate myself now and then from writing fiction to blog/content writing. Trust me, while these genres differ a lot in style and structure, there are always points that they meet together. Content is boring without a story. Enough said.

Somehow, I only not call myself a curator but also a creator. I don’t curate anything when I do some creative writing stuff. Yes, I research certain things, but my work of fiction can survive with or without the research. After all, the human imagination expands way beyond the average limit. You just have to tap wherever that faculty is in your head. You see, that’s the thing about creative writing, it gives you a sense of freedom you don’t actually see live.

I am loving my job though sometimes I ask God what could be my next step on the career ladder in the future. Nevertheless, I enjoy living the now and embrace the life brought by my youth. I am turning 22 by the way and have somehow identified myself to be already a polymath.

Lovin’ Widbook

As I have said, I write everyday for the company that I work for. Finding the time to devote myself in creating fiction and art for myself and for my followers has become a struggle these days. I work from 7am to 4pm, and by the time I get home, my brain cells refuse to share the energy I need to write and create new things anymore. Simply put, I have become so busy and tired respectively.

But good news, I still find the time to write!

Had I not finished writing my latest e-book “I Hate My Boss” (this isn’t in any way relate to my relationship with my boss, please read to know) and published it to Widbook immediately, I wouldn’t have known that my other book “Miss Misfit’s Crush Chronicles” has become the featured e-book for the week. Farther down, I also discovered that I’m one of the Top Five Writers in Widbook. Gosh, have I been that busy lately to forget the things I love doing and visiting?

Along with my precious discovery in Widbook, I came to fully recognize and appreciate how the online writing platform has changed a lot. I can’t fully stress how more convenient and efficient it is now to use Widbook! It’s even more entertaining to use than it’s top competitor. You guess which.

The last time I did a review about it, I was still lamenting at how putting my write ups in the site was a bit difficult because it lacked the copy-paste method. Back then, Widbook was still relatively fresh in the market and still reaching to potential writers to market their works in the writing platform. I even remember how one book of mine failed to update for one week because they’re still revamping their publishing system or whatever programming stuff one might call it. I was really cool about it though since great startups actually come from humble beginnings.

Now, the copy-paste method that I have been waiting for has finally been realized. Widbook even exceeded my expectation. Adding chapters to my e-books is now also optimal and neat.

When I tried to read a book there, I found out how they’re really bringing the best reading experience to their users. I like reading the e-books through my android phone, and in there I’ve come to know that I can actually resize the texts on my screen, choose which ambient (e.g. night, day, sepia) I should be reading on, choose a font style from the available list, and even adjust the brightness of my screen. Also, if I forget to bookmark a page, I can easily tap on a button at the bottom left of the screen which gives me a list of chapters I would want to directly go. If you’re reading on a pc or laptop screen, the same book archetype will be shown.

Speaking of great customer service, the folks at Widbook will never let you down. They’re so accommodating, letting you feel that you’re always at home and that your work is duly appreciated, if not noticed. Your concerns are always addressed, and that they continually do their best to satisfy you right away. This is one invaluable thing that I love since I joined the Widbook community. It’s the experience of belonging into a family even though we’re miles apart.

And so I’m still incessantly inspired to write more, because I’ve got all the opportunities to practice the skill. Whether I’m blogging for my company or writing stories for Widbook, all I know is that, everything that’s happening to me now is shaping me to become the greatest that I hope I can ever be- an author.