Freewriting Post

As I go through life day by day, I constantly see many things that are wrong in this culture and society. This evening, on television, for example, while having dinner, we were watching Family Feud and the topic of the survey is: (Spoken in Filipino) What are the things a human cannot live without? I immediately answered from the top of my head: Food, clothing, and shelter! Duh. And yeah, oxygen for breathing. It was all too simple. But no, survey says the top 5 things a human being cannot live without are:

1. Food

2. Water

3. Cell phone

4. Air

5. Television

I am not sure if this list is missing something, but I can assure that it was listed in that order. Cell phones and TV? Can we really cannot live with these two inventions? Of course, I am thankful that I am in a time wherein technology helps us become more efficient, civilized, connected, well-informed human beings, but then, I seriously believe that something is wrong with this picture. And get this: I know many people who cannot leave their mobile phones from their sight for more than an hour, lest a friend might send a text, or just in case a crush might send a greeting. I know many people who spend hours in front of the television watching mindless shows and melodramatic soap operas. I cannot even last half an hour in front of the TV without getting restless. Maybe it’s just me, but I think that we should watch less TV and read more books. Text less and talk to people in person. Where have meaningful, personal conversations gone? Is there something beneficial we get out of spending plenty of our precious minutes in front of the television? Cannot we really live without cell phones and television?

Why have many succumbed to living a life full of superficial things and thoughts?

This entry looks pretty messy, but I guess that’s the point of freewriting. Spill out your thoughts without thinking, and never lift your fingertips away from the keyboard. Good writing exercise, methinks. :D

Books: The Nuggets of Wisdom

This is a feature article that was, sadly, not published back in my senior year due to time constraints and poor organizational skills. I have been having doubts about posting this publicly because it seems a bit shallow, after all, this was written back in high school, wherein I still have no clue as to how to write a proper feature article. Nonetheless, let me post this just in case it may be a good read to somebody. :)

Here is the article, as edited by my English teacher, straight from the mind of a fourth year high school student.

Books: The Nuggets of Wisdom

“The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.”
-Eden Phillpotts

The ubiquitous iPod has completely changed the way we listen to music by making thousands of songs available to us with a sweep of a finger. The ceaseless revamping and remodeling of the world’s most coveted gadget, the cellular phone, has become a social phenomenon. These phones have transformed us into the more expressive, “keeping-in-touch” kind of persons we are today – with smileys and emoticons unconsciously doing us a huge favor. Outstanding innovations continue to astound us with its amazing creations that our ancestors do not deem conceivable. It’s about time another one of our sacred inventions takes another great leap forward and reenter the limelight, stolen from it by everything that contains megabytes and pixels – the book.

The book is still undoubtedly the most precious creation made by humankind – surpassing double-decker airplanes, erasable paper, and batteries that run on sugar (yes, they are real inventions, trust me). Books have been living purposefully for thousands of years, using the power of words and pictures to paint a clearer image of this crazy world we live in. I am still enthralled by how sheets of paper bound together have helped people make the outstanding innovations in the world we see today, changed the perspectives of some, and broadened the minds of others.

I have recently received my weekly dose of Newsweek magazine, and its latest heading reads: “Books aren’t dead. They’re just going digital.”  As my eyes quickly scanned the front cover, sheer excitement came over me with what I saw: a digital book. The response was instantaneous: What a brilliant idea! Why didn’t I think of that?

The name is Kindle, America’s online shopping giant and the world’s largest retailer of books, has created a significant breakthrough by reinventing the book into a form which has been christened Kindle. Kindle, which, as the Oxford Dictionary says, means “arouse” or “inspire,” is the perfect name for a tool meant to reignite people’s passion in reading.

This e-reader has a sleek, white rectangular case, with a built-in keypad for surfing the Internet. To have the same quality of print that real books possess, this clever device uses E Ink technology, mimicking the very kind of print you read on books and magazines. This is not an LCD or backlight-powered gadget, so the reader still needs a flashlight in order to read under the covers at night. It can store up to 200 titles, which you can buy from its very own Internet server. The huge collection of over 90,000 titles is a sight that will definitely make every booklover’s jaw (including mine) drop.

Among the many perks of holding a subscription, my favorite is the fact that as fresh issues of magazines and newspapers come out, they are automatically sent to the subscriber – much like having one’s very own newsboy. The subscriber can also do research in Wikipedia, read blogs, and of course, go hunting for books which can immediately be stored in a virtual library.

Kindle is about to give rise to a lot of stuff books cannot do. It may now possibly bridge the huge gap between readers and writers by making the updating of books a snap. Imagine corrected errata and rewritten endings. You will have access to books around the world, even while you’re chilling in the Caribbean.

With all the neat things this e-reader does, it also has a few undeniable flaws here and there. Its weird, irregular shape looks like something drawn back in the 80s and has spawned a lot of nasty remarks from critics everywhere; its large scroll button also makes the device impossible to grab without accidentally flipping to the next page. Do not yawn and roll your eyes though, since this is merely the preview of something much better. In fact, Amazon is now currently thinking of adding a colored screen and completely improving its design. Remember how the first iPod looked?

Goodbye, paperback?
All the fuss about e-books makes reading seem a lot cooler than ever. Imagine every student in a classroom furiously studying from electronic screens and e-readers. Sounds surreal? That just may possibly be the future of reading.
Even though wonderful as e-readers may sound, real books still retain their unparalleled simplicity and design. Any reader knows the feel of a book cover’s friendly touch, the familiar sound of flipping and shuffling of pages, and the captivating nature of reading words formed on ink and paper.
This article is not the case, however, of whether e-readers can ever outshine real books. My forecast is e-readers and books will very much share center stage, as e-readers can remarkably store huge libraries (of every book in the world, possibly) while books are fuss-free and the perfect companion for everybody.
The real issue here is something else. . .

Speaking of books
As we are on the topic of books, let me ask you, what have you read recently? Is it today’s headlines? Harry Potter’s long-anticipated finale? The Starbucks drink menu? Besides book reports and assigned readings, have you ever opted to read anything else? Is reading books a part of your life?

Reading books changes the way people think. By exposing yourself to the various genres of books and literature, you see things that people who don’t read cannot see. By keeping in touch with the news, you will never run out of interesting stuff to talk about. Feeling a little bored? Read Archie Comics. Need a boost of confidence? Read Chicken Soup. Out there are tons of books just right for you and your life; it would be such a loss if you don’t go and take a peek at them.

Do you know the feeling of snuggling in your covers in the dead of the night, reading a spine-tingling book you cannot put down? How about not doing anything the whole afternoon but lying on the couch absorbed in a book, only to become sad later by the fact that the book has come to an end? Have you ever been touched by a book in your life?

Only booklovers get the thrill and excitement equivalent to being on a Space Mountain ride when they step inside a bookstore. For them, stepping inside a huge, newly opened bookshop is like stepping into a treasure trove filled with priceless nuggets of knowledge and inspiration. Readers aren’t just keeping an eye out for books; they are searching for something worth pondering on, something that would move their hearts and minds.

Some people read for less worthwhile reasons, though. They treat books as a form of cheap and foolproof means to pass the time, while some find it an excruciating torture to pass English class. Yes, these people may read a lot, but they haven’t yet become really moved by the power of reading.

What books are made of
When you step into the shiny glass doors of Fully Booked in Bonifacio Global City, you may become overwhelmed by the sheer number of books all laid out flawlessly on their respective shelves, unopened, showing off their modest covers to people who care to take a second look. This particular bookstore has the ability to make any wide reader wander about and get lost in the hordes of titles it carries; it definitely possesses a kind of hidden charm that only those few who read can distinguish. Discreetly adding three more stories to the already huge floor space, a coffee shop, an extensive collection of music CDs, and storytelling sessions, it has become the ultimate reader’s sanctuary.

Why am I mentioning this, you wonder? I must say that the process of choosing and buying books itself is a significant event that holds something even more powerful: getting something out of those beautifully printed pages, of course.

Did you know that health professionals also recommend reading to patients who suffer from depression and other types of serious illnesses? Reading has been proven to be an effective health remedy since it helps to give people strength to move on and find that there are a lot of things worth living for.

Bob Ong, the Pinoy author who has inspired many Filipinos to start reading and writing, says that books are small windows of people’s minds. Inside a book are simple, silent messages ordinary people want to share with the world. These messages may be life-changing, or they can simply make you smile and look at things a little differently than you did before.

Sadly though, fewer and fewer people read books nowadays. A recent study reveals that fewer Filipinos read today than in the past years. In fact, forty percent own only five or fewer books in their homes!  How disappointing it is for a country where most people could read and write.

What am I doing here, writing about reading and books? Maybe you read this and make out the messed up thoughts of a self-confessed bookworm, but if you attempt to look deeper, these thoughts may shed you some light on what books have in store for you. To put this article in a nutshell, read books! Who knows, you might even learn to love it and make it a part of your life. Re-Kindle the spirit of reading, people.

Diary Entry: Friday with Friends

*Sometimes I want to write long diary entries like these simply because I want to remember how my days went, to record little details that may go forgotten, unless they are written down in clear writing. And of course, I love to write. Thus, I welcome you to take a glimpse of a day in my life.*

I paired new, dark purple Kamiseta jeans with a brown shirt with pink hearts, plus comfy light brown wedges. Still not so stylish, but good enough for an afternoon out with my high school buddies.

Grabbing a banana and my favorite Chuckie Choco Burst milk drink, I went to the office with Mommy early in the morning, since I am going to meet up with my friends at McDonald’s, Taft branch at eleven. With Philippine Star, my book (The Thirteenth Tale) and iPod (with my brand-new headphones) in hand, I did not even notice that I have been sitting in one of the empty cubicles for one and a half hour already. What I did notice is my workaholic aunt (my dad’s eldest sister) constantly yelling and cursing at clients over the phone, which hurt my ears and my head. I understand why my mom despises being in the office. Working with someone in the same room with poor manners and without an ounce of respect can be quite tiring.

Fast-forward to Mcdo.

I met up with Shara, Kat, Kim, Irene, Irene’s two blockmates, Irving, and Louie. After some chitchat, Kat, Kim, Shara, Louie, and I went to Robinsons Place via LRT Line 1 (Irene had had something planned with her two friends – who seemed really nice – at her house, while Irving had to do some research in the library). It was the most crowded train I have ever been on! Kim, Kat and I looked really silly stifling our giggles as we struggled to stand still amid people standing by us side by side on the shaky, old train.

We had lunch at Pho Hoa.

I missed chatting with my best friends and not having to think of the proper English term for something that is easier said in Filipino. I need to brush up on my English-speaking skills, and so I love my English-speaking Atenean friends for that. But kwentuhan and tawanan is always most fun with my best friends in casual, fuss-free Tagalog. ;)

Kim has finally traded her worn-out cell phone with a sleek, professional-looking Nokia E-series model. For me, it is one of the nicest designed Nokias out. If only I had the money, I would not think twice about getting one of those. I am craving for a full-function keyboard. Texting with only 12 buttons gets so tiring sometimes.

Kat has asked us something that surprised me a little, but then again, I always knew that Kat and I think alike on many occasions. Except for obvious differences, we share many beliefs and interests together. Anyway, what she asked us is this: Do we already know what we want to become after we graduate from college? Here are our answers:

Kim dreams of becoming a lawyer, and she is planning to shift to Legal Management next semester. I have always seen her as a very strong girl, she would do well standing up for justice and whatever she believes is right.

Louie is predestined to help run the family business. Even though he also wants to pursue many things (like becoming an architect or a dentist), he says that he has to think of his family, and that he is going to have to run the business himself one day. I am only beginning to understand that now, since I have always believed in passion over practicality, fulfillment over money, and in excellence over mediocrity. But I need to accept that different people treat things differently; for example, I think studying hard and getting exceptional grades are important, but to many others, they don’t stress over these things as much as getting a good-paying job in the end. We are different people with different values, after all.

There are so many things I want to be, but so little time. I sometimes want to become a journalist, sometimes an entrepreneur. I sometimes dream of going corporate and get a career in advertising and marketing. I also dream of being an editor-in-chief of a magazine (particularly Marie Claire), working in foreign and international affairs, or I might become active in humanitarian causes, or start my own business, or get a job wherein I get to travel around the world. I swore to myself that I would never get a 9-5 office job. I would only want to work for something that I truly believe in.

Kat and I are still uncertain as to who we want to be in the future, and I feel better knowing that I am not alone being utterly clueless and confused. Many of us are also going through the same dilemma, and I guess there is no rush. I am trying to find out what I am truly passionate about and what matters most to me, and I will not stop until I discover it. Until then, I will continue to live life fully and happily, taking each day at a time.

I really missed hanging out with them.

Louie and Kat had to go back (reluctantly) to class, leaving Kim, Shara, and me to watch High School Musical 3. We even met Kyrah, Trisha L., Trisha A., Renz, and Jenelle, and we were watching the same movie together. It was so nice to see them again. Jenelle was amusingly funny as usual; she asked from out of the blue if I had seen Rosie and Aaron’s latest pictures on Flickr – I think nobody else understood what we were talking about. :D

HSM 3 was surprisingly nice and beautifully made. It was not overly cheesy at all, and it was definitely a lot more than what I expected from this movie. To my surprise, Jenelle teasingly told me that I will surely write a review about this – hmm, for you, Jenelle, I will attempt to write one sometime. :)

We then headed over to Secret Recipe to finish the New York Cheesecake we ordered (we already ate one slice before we went to watch). As Kim and Shara went home, Louie came back from school to accompany me for an hour, until my mom came to pick me up.

Lastly, I had dinner with Mommy at Flapjacks.

I badgered my mom into allowing me to go to my Celadon friend’s Photoshop Workshop in her house and to a Halloween party of another friend after that, although she says that she does not know the owner of the house well. She even went so far as thinking that we would be doing vices instead of a Photoshop Workshop. Ugh. That’s how overprotective moms think anyway, so I am the least bit surprised, but nonetheless a bit sad, too, that I will be missing another chance to get to know some new friends. Who knows how much I would learn, see, and talk about if only I went that day… Still, I must be thankful that my parents care enough for me, that some parents out there do not give a damn about their kids.

I long for the day when I will be allowed to travel by myself, to make my own decisions, to be able to embark on a great adventure, to take more risks, to be free.

Then again, “Freedom is not something that anybody can be given. Freedom is something people take, and people are as free as they want to be.” – James Baldwin