For the love of the written word

Archive for the category “Mish-mash of everything else!”

Book Quote on Markets and Inequality


Quote from The Price of Inequality:

“… market forces are real, but they are shaped by political processes. Markets are shaped by laws, regulations, and institutions. Every law, every regulation, every institutional arrangement has distributive consequences-and the way we have been shaping America’s market economy works to the advantage of those at the top and to the disadvantage of the rest.” –Joseph E. Stiglitz, Author

One of my favorite quotes from Stiglitz’s book.  He poses a very interesting observation in American society today which may very well be applicable in other countries as well–that the wealth of the nation is only distributed among the rich, what he calls the “top 1 percent”, and no one else down below.


Journal Writing: Keeping Life’s Journeys

There are memories that are always kept fresh by re-telling the story over and over again to the point of ad nauseam, like the time you first rode a bicycle, got lost in a mall, first day of school. But there are memories that are just too precious to forget and so important, too personal to share it to the whole world. These are events in your life that you keep to yourself but do not want to lose it to time altogether. And this is where a journal comes in handy.

It is a common notion that people who keep journals are often secretive people. Nothing can be further from the truth! In fact, I have known a lot of great figures who kept journals and yet were great extroverts. Former President John F. Kennedy kept a journal that chronicled the challenges the faced during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Anne Frank gave us a glimpse of her everyday struggle and terror during the German occupation as they lay hidden in the cellar of an old house. Even our very own ousted leader, President Ferdinand Marcos, kept a voluminous journal that took note of all his victories, but sadly, not his ruin. And he is greatly known for his eloquence of speech.

Just as journals can give us a brief picture of the greatness of a figure, so can journals hide the isolation and turmoil of a disturbed spirit. Famous Nirvana lead Kurt Cobain battled fame with bouts of depression and drugs that led to his suicide, while Mexican painter Frieda Kahlo never hid her pain with her husband’s philandering and her physical infirmity in her writings and artworks. To these select individuals, keeping a journal was leaving behind a legacy to explain to the next generation why they did what they did. It is a grim reminder of the greatness they once were.

Benefits of Journal Writing

Writing has a liberating effect. You release feelings that would have otherwise been kept locked inside you. It is an effective way of putting down your thoughts and feelings without the trepidation of rephrasing or simplifying things as you would when you would tell a friend. It’s a no-holds barred kind of thing, and when it gives you this kind of freedom then it is liberating to a certain degree. Later on, you get to read and analyze your thoughts later. So come on and start purging yourself by writing!

As detailed as you want to be. Need to describe with particularity just how your boyfriend proposed to you? Recall a memorable place or event that you’ve been to? You can do that with journal writing and no one will tell you to cut it out. By being accurate about the most minute details, you relieve these memories in your head. The lesser you will become prone to memory loss.

You preserve memories that would otherwise be lost. Good or bad, keeping a journal stores memories long after you live. This is what makes memoirs so popular to people. Writing down events and personal thoughts gives readers a profile of the person sharing it. Keeping a journal is like stitching a fabric of an event in the tapestry of your brain. It is something that you would like to admire and relish from time to time.

Deciding to Start A Journal

Once you’ve decided to start a journal, then it’s no turning back. Choose a journal that you will find interest to write on. It can be as simple as a notebook or as fancy as a Moleskin journal. It is advisable to have a notebook that is bound than have loose leaf pages—you will tend to lose the pages later on, I tell you. Choose a notebook according to your budget and personality. You do not want to lug around an Anime-designed journal and be seen writing on it.
Choose a writing instrument. Whether its a fountain pen, ball pen, or pencil, have your own pen so you can jot down any words or ideas that can be a source of inspiration. Keep it handy with your journal at all times. You’ll never know when an inspiration will just hit you.

Look for a quiet place. Your favorite spot in the world to write and recollect your thoughts on paper. How can you concentrate in a room that is full of distractions and noise? Writing a journal is like talking to yourself, therefore you need room to concentrate and recollect your thoughts.

Do not decide to complete a 10 page dissertation on your first try. Journals often start small and short. It could be an interesting anecdote or a quote that caught your attention. As you move along, you will begin to realize that these quotes become bigger and will include your own personal thoughts. It won’t be long when you begin to realize that it is something that can be done, after all.

My Journal Keeping Days

I started to write on journal when I was in high school. Back in those days, it was called a diary. “Journal” was something that the old people had. It sounded antiquated for my taste. And diaries back then were oh so cute!
I kept a diary to write down my crushes at school. My first diary was a Hello Kitty notebook that were lined and scented pages. The lines were widely spaced that were not enough for me to write on, so I would oftentimes attach a piece of stationary and then attach it to my day’s entry. The diary had become so thickened from its original width by the time I finished the last leaf. I’ve lost this diary during my college years, and still it brings me fond memories of my impressionable years.

Journal writing went into full gear during college as I studied away from home. Life was getting faster so I did not have time to write a lot anymore. That diary lasted pretty much about the same time I finished college. I had entries of my adventures at the dorm, travels, and relationships. It was fun.

My entries have become fewer as I started earning my own keep. From time to time, I would jot down funny anecdotes, problems and goals that I needed to keep for myself. Even as I now have my own family, I still find time to write an entry for my journal. The one I have right now still has a lot of pages to go, and it’s been with me for almost 4 years.
All in all, I’ve had a total of 8 journals, each recording important phases in my life.

A Resurgence in Journal Writing

Consider this paradox: despite the influx of technology in our midst, journal writing has never been so much popular now than it was before. Get inside a bookstore and you will find journals of every kind on the market. Writing instruments have become so varied that it’s hard not to pick out a favourite. Why is that? Is it because writing has become a rarity or is it because society has become more reclusive as ever? How do you explain it?
The way I see it, journal writing in this age has become an instrument to lock up pent up feelings. Whatever these feelings are, my guess is as good as yours.

Discovery and Nostalgia – The Beauty of It

As I sift through some of the pages, I find it amusing how far my entries have “matured”. From cutesy to idealistic to philosophical, it has certainly evolved. Reading some parts of it make me cringe while some others have made me thought out aloud: “Why on earth did I even think of that?”

My memory might fail me years from now, but I am comforted by the fact that these memories will be kept alive in the journals I have kept over the years.

Tales of the Fisherfolk


Under the toiling heat we waited

As the nets cast out into the great sea

So calm it seemed this day to me

With lofty thoughts of what will be.


Come hell or high waters the leadman harks

to call the fisherfolk into the sea

And with all strength, we pull the cords

And take hold of the reins to feign fishes that flee.


And with all strength, we pulled and we heaved

Under sweltering heat and rough sand

Our thoughts upon the catch so grand

To bring bounty to the hungry man.


At the end of the ropes so long it appeared

Anticipating what looked to be naught

Teeming on the other end of the line–God’s bounty appears!

Flittering and dancing under the glittering sun.


At last we fill up buckets to brim

And share and share what we folks catch.

The day is done again at last,

And we await for a new day to hatch.

Seeking A Friend for the End of the World: A Different Look at the Apocalypse


This movie never reached Philippine shores last year and I’m not even sure if Filipino viewers are aware that such film existed.  I am quite glad I was able to get a copy of this film, albeit a pirated one (guilty!).  Being a confessed Steve Carell fan (I found him hilarious in Bruce Almighty and the 40 Year Old Virgin), I am always interested in watching his films.  This movie was released late last year in the US in time for the antipicated (not to mention much dreaded by some) Mayan apocalypse, which didn’t happen by the way. So much for the media hype!

The basic premise of the movie is: If you knew the world ended anytime soon and your family couldn’t be with you, would you settle for a stranger to be at your side?


The movie played out this theme with two people who never knew each other before (played by Steve Carell of Evan Almighty and Keira Knightley of Pirates of the Carribean) but who, by some stroke of wicked luck, eventually crossed paths just as the world was coming to a final end. The movie starts the scene with Dodge Petersen (played by Carell) and his wife are in their car listening to the news about the asteroid that was to strike the earth in a few days. Dodge’s wife rushes out of the car, leaving Dodge behind and never coming back. He runs into Penny (Knightley), who happens to be his neighbour and was booted out by her boyfriend. The two somehow strike a friendship and go on a road trip to reconnect with Dodge’s first love and make amends with his father. The mishaps and events that happened enroute to their destination make this movie very entertaining without being overly tragic, at least to me personally.



I felt Dodge’s mixed desperation and indifference of the situation, being abandoned by his wife at a time like that and feeling the heavy burden caused by the strained relationship with his father. It was no closure at all. As a last ditch effort to redeem himself from desperation, Dodge and Penny decide to take a long trip to find the former’s past flame and reciprocally help Penny get a lift to England to be with her parents for one last time. It was all or nothing for Dodge and Penny. They had nothing to lose anyway, with the world ending in a few days.

Similarly, Penny’s sadness and isolation of being left alone in the US by her boyfriend was truly tragic. Without anybody to cling to, she had no choice but to stay with a total stranger. Even as she had fallen in love with Dodge along the way, her uncertainties remained palpable until the last scene, as booming sounds in the background could be heard, heralding approaching death. The last scene ends with both of them on the bed facing each other until the bright light obliterated the scene.


Despite of what critics say about the film, I appreciate the honesty and humanity that the director (Lorene Scafaria) tried to sum up in this movie. Carell is really good at playing goofball characters, and this is just one of his many works. seeking3

seeking4Similarly, Keira’s troubled character permeates all throughout the scenes. Despite the drama, there are laughs in between scenes which make the movie surprisingly light.

The movie forced me to think what I would have done in that situation. Would I make the most of my situation? The fact that Scafaria chose a veteran comedian to essay the main character tones down the grimness of the movie. You forget that the movie is about the world coming to an end!

If only for the message that this movie tries to convey, I’d recommend watching it anytime. Don’t expect hard laughs in this one, and if you’re a cry baby you’d better bring a tissue for safe measure.

Cultivating a Family of Readers

(Source: Google Images)

I come from a family of readers.  My grandfather, a Chinese soldier who served the Imperial Court and escaped from China that was on the verge of falling into Communism, was a voracious reader who enjoyed reading Western literature just as well as Chinese folklore.  According to my mother, he wasn’t an educated man but taught himself how to read and write Mandarin when he was young.  No doubt he was intelligent, because he later on learned how to read and write in English and Spanish, the latter being the mode the communication between him and my mother, as I would later read in his letters to my mother as a student.

After him came more avid readers in the pack.  My grandfather had 18 children in all (2 died during infancy), and all of them are wide readers.  Just to pick the ones who influenced me the most are the following below:

Uncle Pinky: The Encyclopedia Maniac

Among my mother’s siblings, my Uncle Pinky was the most voracious of all.  Yes, it was weird he had a girl’s name (he was nothing BUT!), but apparently all of the males had names with a “Pin” prefix as my grandfather had wished.  Correspondingly, all of women (my mother and aunt) had Chinese names affixed with “Bin”.  How and why this is so is already lost to me.

Going back to my Uncle Pinky, he read a lot of materials and knew a lot of trivia.  For example, it was to him that I learned that a whale’s mucous was used for perfume.  I never believed it till I came across this fact in a book myself, and that this substance is in fact called ambergris.  He loved reading the news and was good at history and current events.  He had trivia for everything, a walking encyclopedia.

Uncle Pinnen: The Grammar Fanatic

What my Uncle Pinky was to trivia was my Uncle Pinnen to grammar.  He loved world events and trivia as well, but he put more emphasis on grammar and spelling.  My uncle would quiz me on grammar construction every now and then when I was little and intensified all the more when I was in college.  He had a flair for semantics and word play and engaged me and brother in it.  I would remember him to sit quietly in the corner of the sofa answering crossword puzzles that he would finish in less than an hour, and these are really large puzzles.  He sent me old pocketbooks to read and occasionally wrote to me during college years.

Looking back, he held a lot of influence on me when I was younger and I attribute much of my passion for reading from him.  I could have been a journalist were it not for my mother!

My Uncle Pinhoy:  The Comic Book Afficionado

I am not much of a comic book fan despite the fact that I read Archie and Beetle Bailey comics as a teen, but I must give due credit to my Uncle Pinhoy for bringing me and my brother into the world of comics.

Actually, my uncle inherited this habit from my lolo who was a great fan of Superman and the Justice League as a kid.  I was lucky enough to have read the earliest series of this DC Comics superhero, in mint condition at that!  I learned early on that there was a Super Dog and even a Super Monkey through these comics.  The cartoons were so fresh then—Superman looked totoy (youthful) in his costume.  Everytime he was on a visit, he would let us read his new purchases before bringing it home to the province.  I grew up with Beetle Bailey, Blondie and Hagar the Horrible.

Between me and my brother, it was my brother who was influenced to take interest in comic books.  In fact, he has a whole stash of comic books in his room!  Through him I learned who Captain America, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four were even before they became movie adaptations. I can tell you quite frankly that between the comic books of yesteryears and today, I would prefer the oldies anytime, thank you.

My Mom: The Domestic Diva

If my uncles loved trivia, history and grammar, my mother was crazy on housekeeping, entertainment and curios.  Being a Home Economics graduate, she loved reading stuffs about home improvement, gardening and relationships.  Never the one to read voluminous books and novels, she preferred materials that were brief and segmented.  She hated reading novels because she hated picking up the next chapter from the last one she left off.  With magazines and booklets, she learned how to make flowers bloom quickly. She has a yen for UFOs and Hollywood celebrities.

So What Does That Make Me?

Because of all these influences, I read a variety of things.  From my early days of Barbara Cartland and Judith Krantz, I’ve now expanded my scope to include religion, autobiography, marketing and business.  But for everyday quick fixes, give me a broad newspaper and I will read it from page to page, except a little of sports.  I will probably never read E. L. James’ book, but give me any other reading material and I will probably dig myself in it.  The fun in reading novels is coming across a new word that you have to consult a dictionary with.  That way, I keep alive the challenge my Uncle Pinnen told me and that is never to stop learning, even if it’s just learning a new word each day.  You never have to use it, but if you do however, you can be sure it will be a word that will stick with you always.

Not Genes, But Habits

What am I driving at?  Actions are not the result of genes but rather developing habits.  I certainly did not get the reading frenzy just because I was borne to a family of readers.  Anybody can cultivate it, and the younger you start the better it will reap fruits.


My Letters & Love Letters

In my youth (which wasn’t too long ago, mind you), I loved to meet different people through snail mail.  Yes – I have to admit – I had pen pals from different parts of the world, friends I met in school, ballet, and elsewhere.  My father was my earliest pen friend because he was away for most of the time and worked overseas.  My earliest memory writing to him was when I was 4 years old.  Mother would write to my dad regularly, and for on that particular occasion I wanted to write to my dad to convey to him my wish list for Christmas.  With stubby little fingers, I wrote to my father, asking him if he could buy me an Etch-a-Sketch but that I “hafta” (have to) go because I still had to do my “assayment” (assignment).

Fast forward, I learned to write letters to friends.  My summers were usually occupied with whole-day ballet classes, and the friends I met during the summer I would eventually exchange letters with after the recitals.  Most of the time, these friends often wrote back.  One can only imagine how the number of letters I received during the year!  Later though, my pen friends would eventually lost the time to write and ultimately lose touch.  By then, I would meet another batch of friends to correspond with.

After so many years of writing back and forth, I had accumulated a huge suitcase full of correspondences – letters from classmates and friends, which eventually progressed to admirers.  By high school, I had suitors who wrote short notes conveying affection.  Not all of them wrote well, but to the ones who did, I enjoyed receiving from them even more.  Besides looking at the beauty of scribbled letters, I loved reading their expressed thoughts and exchange these with mine.  It almost seemed like talking to the sender on the phone, except you couldn’t hear the other person’s voice.  I could almost feel sadness or joy in the way the words were written or phrased.  That was the thrill that a hand-written letter gave me.

When I got married, I left behind the suitcase behind to my father-in-law but kept a handful of letters which I treasure the most – among them hubby’s (he kept me in stitches with his jokes!) and another dear friend.  What’s an SMS message versus a carefully crafted and thought of letter?  BAR NONE!!!

Studying away from home during college gave me another wave of letters to family and friends.  My mother was a diligent letter writer, and her letters would be filled with motherly concern and advice.  I had high school friends who also kept in touch with me through the snail mail.  I remember my pigeon hole at the dorm was always stocked with envelopes from pen pals.  Imagine how I had to budget my allowance between school projects, food, and postage!  Does anybody realize how technology has made my life better?

I had a lot of letters from friends – postcards, birthday cards, love letters, ANY!

Letter writing led me to love writing short pieces.  It made me conscious of grammar, spelling, synonyms and antonyms.  It led me to learn and appreciate the art of writing and reading literature.  I cannot say I am a better person for it, but I guarantee you it does pay off in the end.  Believe me.

What am I driving at?  It pays to write well, and the efforts of writing letters or notes never fail to touch the heart of a receiver.  It is always sincere because of the effort that goes into it.  So guys, a friendly advice:  If you want to impress, go on and be corny and write.  It doesn’t have to be elaborate.  You don’t need a letter wardrobe to write.  And it certainly doesn’t have to be lengthy and verbose.  All it needs is that the words must come from the heart.   And that’s where everything starts.

I shudder to think what has become of my letter-filled suitcase, and neither do I want to know its whereabouts at this point.  I just hope that the person who was able to get it took time to open the contents and enjoy the communication I’ve had with friends over the years.  At this day and age where writing long hand is a rarity, I am missing this lost past time of mine.

The Digital Influencers Marketing Summit 2012: A Toast to Filipino Bloggers

The tarp at the entrance

When I received an invite from Digital Filipino to attend the Digital Influencers Marketing Summit, all I could think of was:  What is this all about?  Who or what is a digital influencer?  I never imagined what I was doing (blogging) was “socially influencing” the public through the Net.  So I thought:  I HAVE TO ATTEND THIS!

Attending a convention where like-minded people was such a dream, and the Digital Influencers Marketing Summit 2012 was just that for me. Held at the SMX MOA in Pasay City last September 29, 2012, the event was attended by bloggers, programmers and techies from all over the Philippines. It was a dream even to be able to interact and communicate with bloggers who were apparently dominated by young people.

Organized by Janette Toral of Digital Filipino, part of the affair recognized the top 10 bloggers for 2012. Unlike the previous years, majority of the blogs who made it this year were travel blogs (personally, my favorite!), among them were Pinay Thrillseeker and The Urban Walker. And I must say, these blogs are really informative!

Inside the venue

Opening the affair was none other than Janette Toral, who gave a brief information on the trends in blogging in the Philippines. Other topics discussed during the summit was the Cyber Crime Bill by Atty. JJ Disini, Bloggers as Influencers and Brand Advocates by Maita Siquijor, and Building Relationship with Influencers and Brand Advocates by Rosario Juan. An open forum was also provided at each segment of the program which allowed attendees to post questions to keynote speakers.

The afternoon session included a part were attendees can pitch there company or advocacy. I was naturally interested, since I thought that it could be the perfect venue to promote my business and advocacy as well. So submitted I did, and WOW! I’ve talked in front of people before, but in such a big venue…. well you get the point.

Without really practicing my pitch, I presented Booklatin Philippines as it really is, an ebookstore selling ebooks authored by Filipino writers. I briefly talked about my advocacy in promoting the habit of reading to the young and the construction of a mini library in our small community. After my pitch, I got people discussing plans with me. I was able to connect with like-minded people who shared the same advocacy as I have. Simply great!!!

I look forward to attending the next influencers summit next year, and connect with newbies who share the same passion and advocacy as I do!

That’s me and Janette Toral, the lady behind Digital Filipino

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