Monday, October 30, 2006

my two-year love affair (part 2)

My only concern two years ago was just how to pass my subjects. I attended classes regularly, took exams, and let loose once in a while. Pretty much the traditional “four-walled” approach to learning. However, I enrolled myself in an educational institution that deliberately delimited our number of units to 18 every semester so we could explore the world outside the classroom. I barely understood what that meant. And then came Madam Mayette’s Journalism classes.

I love Journalism classes. Okay, I admit there is a blot of prejudice in that remark. Biases aside though, I especially love the subject for its unexpected twists and unforgettable lessons, not to mention that we had a mentor who willingly shared her wisdom and wits to our discussion. We were sent on field to gather necessary data, which only meant one thing: we had to talk – to people. Lots of them. I wasn’t exactly a misanthropic being back then but for someone who spent almost her entire childhood locked up in the solitary confines of her room, it took quite a generous amount of effort to break free from the so-called comfort zone. But it was a make or break situation. I had to do it.

Surprisingly, I found out that there’s a dormant part of me who is not that silent and aloof. Where on earth were you hiding all these years?! The discovery didn’t happen in a single snap of the fingers but the rewards far outweighed the costs that I was soon crawling out of my shell.

I enjoyed talking to people. There was so much to be learned. Fresh ideas. New perspectives. I was learning theories and practicing them on field at the same time. Now this is what I call learning the alternative way! Later, when we were required to publish articles on local newspapers, I had to interact with a more varied mix of personalities. But the greater challenge lay in writing their individual stories.

confessions of a budding writer
I started writing for Sun Star Weekend two years ago. It wasn’t initially part of my plan to contribute an article for the section. First of all, I had no interesting interviewee. But God’s hand shoved in an interviewee in my direction one fine morning while I was busy taking pictures of the magnificent view at CafĂ© Orchidia for my photography class. I looked at her. She looked at me. We both smiled at each other. She said hello and made her way towards me. She was Eufemia “Minnie” Solomon Crouse, a filmmaker and my very first interviewee for the section.

Looking back, I think my interview with her was experimental in a way that it determined my interest in writing personality profiles. She had lots of stories and lessons to share that we had to do two separate interviews. It was also my first lengthy interview experience that I was a bit clueless how to go about with the interview. Sure, I had ideas on what questions to ask but how to ask them and when are considerations an interviewer has to take into account. Interviewing is an art, you know. One should know how to listen, when to talk, (to interrupt a deliriously endless chatter or to inject an important question in momentum) and how to talk.

As if it isn’t difficult enough to interview a person, it’s harder to capture a person’s life in a single story. It’s a hurdle I had to overcome with every story I wrote. A lot of times, I had to face a blank screen for what seems like eternity. An idea pops ups and my fingers get busy clicking away the keys only to delete most or everything out in the end. Poof! (Woe to the delete button.) Sometimes, I have a clear plan on how to construct my story. In the middle of it all, I thwart it and segue to another path. Ahh, this is what my teachers have been saying about writing – it’s a recursive process. A complicated process that oftentimes got my brain insides all jumbled up and distorted that I had to distract myself to keep myself from banging my head on the computer screen. I would take a power nap, (the nap often evolves into deep sleep so yes, I wrote some stories in haste)watch television, eat, sing until my throat gets hoarse, or play computer games. Despite all these, I loved what I did. Why? Because I found precious gems in the insights of my interviewees. I met a lot of people who looked at things in a different light and who have inspired me to shape my own destiny.

quotable quotes
There’s a story behind every story. But of course, I would have to allot several posts to tell each and every story. So let me just leave you with snippets of my interviews for the sections Weekend Magazine, Community Force, and Live!.

Helen Niaga (Child Development Worker): “Dili jud mabayran sa sapi ang kalipay.”
(Can you imagine going to a community bringing toys and books for the children to prepare them for school? Can you imagine holding your classes under the trees? Yup, she does all those for an honorarium of a thousand pesos per month.)

Eufemia “Minnie” Solomon – Crouse (Filmmaker; Best Documentary 2002 Cinemanila International Film Festival, Prix Sylvie Auzas Award): “Filmmaking is like my appetizer, my hors d’oeuvre. It has changed my life. Because of it, I now have the opportunity to express myself. I didn’t realize I was beautiful. I was very challenging. I was real.”

Ronaldo Herry Armando Tan (Production Designer of Panaghoy sa Suba, President: Cebu Filmmakers’ Society): “Naa baya nang kakulba nga bag-o pa lang ang grupo pero dako kaayo ning tahas. Apan kon kining kalibutana mapuno og tao nga hadlukan, wa gyuy mahitabo sa atoa.”

Gretchen Malalad (Sea Games 2005 Gold Medalist in Karatedo): “When we train in the gym, sparring kunyari, yung mga kapatid ko talagang binabanatan ako! Once, pumutok talaga ‘yung labi ko. Umuwi ako tapos nagsumbong ako sa parents ko. Alam mo sagot ng parents ko? ‘Di ka kasi marunong umilag.’”

Bong Abela (Proprietor, Koncepts and More): “Every one has to understand their mission in life and out of that mission, identify what for them is significant and important. Is my action attuned to what I really want in life now? Even if you’re radical with your ideas or values, you have to remember that you have accountability.”

Jude Thaddeus Gitamondoc (Song Writer: Gary V’s Wait Forever, In Another Lifetime, Kailan Pa, Only A Friend, and Sana Bukas): “It’s a clichĂ© but it is really something indescribable and unique. To hear something that you made up in the little nook and corner of your room. To actually have an effect on people. And yet to retain that level of anonymity. It’s the ultimate dream of every artist. It’s a beautiful feeling.”

Homer Cang (Music Producer and Arranger): “When I was a kid, when I play the piano, I would imagine myself playing all the other instruments. During recitals, my teacher would ask me to break from the piece and just play what I want. I remember when I was in grade two, the piano teacher announced to the audience I was doing my own arrangement.”

Chloe Canton (Pianist): “Music is one of the best things in life that are free. People who enjoy music enjoy life.”

Leonardo Chiu (Filmmaker, “Nagbreakfast Ka Na Ba?”): “I like dark movies. As a filmmaker, I go out and hurt people. I’ve seen that the realities around us are painful. They are not something to laugh at.”

Kristoffer Villarino (Filmmaker, “Binaliw”): “Ang ganahan nako nga future sa cinema, artistically, is something that will speak much about the Cebuanos – as ourselves, not pretending to be a revised character from an old Hollywood film.”

Adonis Durado (Filmmaker, “Pa-ak”): “There is a reason to revive Cebuano film. Ganahan ko muhimo og Cebuano films kay Cebuano ko. Kahibalo ko kung unsaon nako pag-handle. Dili lang necessary nga Cebuano ang language kon dili, ang point of view Cebuano sad.”

Mark de los Reyes (2004 Outstanding Industrial Coordinator): “I’m a risk-taker. I would never quit, whatever happens.”

Bryan Albert Lim (2005 Outstanding Cebuano Youth Leader): “Passion without discipline is useless. Intelligence without passion is a nerdy thing. And without gratitude, passion and intellect would just be a selfish thing.”

Cheryl Pages (Owner, Sastre): “For me, the business world is exciting… (as a kid) I would buy candies and sell them at a higher price to my relatives.”

Dearlie Gerodias (1st Southern Philippines “Dancesport sa Sugbo” Champion): ”Dance from the heart. In dancesport, tanan naa’y technique. One must have that something from the heart to spice up one’s moves.”

Jane Pacaide (Founder and President, Cebu Cancer Fight, Inc.): “Jesus has plans different from ours. We pray for healing until the very end. But if Jesus thinks that this person is ready, we release the person to Him because now, he’s in a better place.”

Justin Paul Aguilar (Founder, Volkswagen Club sa Sugbo): “Honestly, I feel happy because of all the generations nga mga sakyanan nga nangabot diri sa Pilipinas, it is the ba-o that has an impact to the public and to people of all ages.”

Marricar Endico (Bangga sa Kinaadman 2005 Champion): “Looking at me, you will really not think or believe that I belong to the Dean’s List. Who would find intelligent someone who keeps on cracking out jokes even the corniest ones, laughs out so loud in public and crosses the street when the traffic light’s still green?”

Gerry Graham Gonzales (Cellist, Participant to the 2005 International Cello Congress): “I am a musician. Every one can be one. You just need to have the heart to be one -- that you have to explore within you, and when you find it, share it to other people. Now you can call yourself an artist.”

Jibbie Rose Reyes (Cellist, Participant to the 2005 International Cello Congress): “Life with music is full of colors. Your life has a meaning. Mao gani, ni-ana akong mga classmates na if they see me, they see Jibbie. But when they see me play my cello, they see a different person.”

John Amor (President, Rogues Gallery Studios): “When you start admiring only popular art, you’re limiting yourself to popular art. Whereas if you have a hunger within yourself to find something better, you’ll be able to pave a whole new landscape.”

Paolo Dy (Filmmaker, “Miko”; 2004 MTV Asia’s “The Pitch” screenwriting competition winner): “Passion, passion, passion. And not just I-talk-about-films-a-lot passion or Filipino-films-suck passion. I mean the we’ve-been-shooting-for-five-days-straight-without-sleep-but-I-don’t-care-I’m-gonna-finish-this-freaking-film kind of passion. Filmmaking is hard, hard, hard work. You can’t afford to be lazy or ‘arte’. You have to be willing to drive to the convenience store across town at three in the morning to get batteries for the boom microphone. You have to be willing to pick up garbage, move heavy equipment around, get dirty, and exhaust yourself to near breakdown to get the work done. It’s this willingness to contribute to the success of the film that will convince other filmmakers to collaborate with you.”

Apolinario Lopez (CCCI Web Awards Winner – Best in Multimedia Presentation): “I would present a beautiful and well-developed Cebu with responsible people and that which is rich with historical places – truly a place where tourists would like to go.”

Francis Moreno (CCCI Web Awards Winner – Best in Animation): “Break the limit. Kung ibutang lang gyud nila sa ilang huna-huna nga kaya ni nila, kaya man gyud nila. Wala may makapugong nila kay sila may nagdiktar sa ilang limitation.”

Rodney Co (Owner, 3D Storm Studio): “Design improves our lives. I believe that everything in this world is designed – it has its purpose, either intentionally or accidentally. Architecturally speaking, the orientation of your house determines how you access and enter it. The way your room is oriented affects how you move in your house. The colors and lighting of your room affect your mood. The furniture you use may affect your posture. Good design shapes our lives for the better, makes us more productive, inspires us when driving our car, and makes us beautiful with the clothes and jewelries that we wear.”

Saturday, October 21, 2006

my two-year love affair (part 1)

I first fell in love when I was in third grade.

I thought it was sheer infatuation. A temporary madness bound for oblivion in my later years. But even up to this date, no matter how I tried to get him off my mind, the thought of him just keeps popping in my head. They all say that love stands the test of time so I think: then this must be love!

It wasn’t love at first sight, mind you. I got to know him through my teacher. I remember he wore a blue shirt the day we met. He really didn’t look like a dashing prince charming ready to save a damsel in distress. Imagine admitting to me at that first meeting that he was a fan of Juday! “Whoa, this guy is a bit questionable, huh?” I thought. But his eyes twinkled like the stars when he smiled. “On second thought, he’s nice. A new friend wouldn’t be that bad,” I told myself. I entertained him as if he was like the others. But even in my childhood innocence, I sensed that there was something special about him. While I had other friends and I would assume that he did, too, I would say he was the best among the rest.

He was sincere and understanding. He listened to me as if no one else ever would. He would wipe my eyes dry even before the first drop of tear could roll down my cheeks. He never judged me for being a tad foolish at times. In fact, he was my accomplice in everything else. We shared secrets and dreams. We sang the same songs. Ahh, young love it was indeed.

That love I nurtured until it bloomed into a lifelong passion. First love never dies indeed. Even now in my senior year in college, I keep going back to the “thick and thin” times we’ve been through – the times when I felt like giving him up, the times when I almost denied my feelings towards him, and the times when I had to hide him from my older brothers in fear that they would beat him up.

But looking back at all those only makes me fall helplessly in love with him again and again and again and again…

Yes, my friends, I am in love. Sooooo muuuucchhh in looooove!

So much that I took up Mass Communication to cherish the young bud of love. So much that I set up this blog to whisper sweet nothings to the world with him. So much that I decided that he will always have a piece of my heart even if I stay single for the rest of my life.

It didn’t occur to me that the “love of my life” would start from a journal-writing class. My first diary was a blue notebook with Juday posing on the front cover. I didn’t take diary-writing seriously back in third grade. I had lots of those dear-diary-Carlo-sat-beside-me-today and dear-diary-I-ate-spaghetti entries in my notebook. Nonsense, yes, but I wrote all that crap anyway than end up being scolded for not doing my homework. I don’t know what got into me but one day while strolling around the bookstore, I found myself picking up a real diary and dropping it into the basket. (while adding a “puppy dog look” on my face when my mom gave me a weird look) Since then, when I wasn’t playing, I would be writing about my experiences, mostly during summers and Christmas breaks – how I got lost in whatever-place this time, how I met my crushes or simply how my day went. I hid my diary carefully just in case my brothers or my neighbors would snoop around my room and pounce on it like a hungry prey. (Those days, I had an invisible sensor attached to my brain that would send an alert signal when a brother or a neighbor would try to invade my room. I would appear at the doorway with my hands on my hips, sporting a really huge scowl on my face, a raised eyebrow, and a stern voice that would say, “Out!” Sometimes, it doesn’t work and I either had to drag them or push them out.)

As I grew up, I wrote more than what the diary pages could accommodate. I bought a new diary, filled it with my heart and soul, and treasured it more than anything else in the world. What is more fulfilling is that every time I read what I wrote, I seemed to be traveling in the past. How I laughed at my silliness, cried over my frustrations, and yes, cringed over my wrong grammar. I wrote what I thought. I wrote what I felt. No pretensions. Just me. The real me.

I took up Mass Communication because of this passion to write. And even if I don’t really pursue any profession related to journalism, I just know that writing will be with me until the very end of time.

Note: This is the first of a two-part blog post celebrating the joys that writing almost all of my life gave me.

Preview to Part 2: What is it like to talk to people and write about their stories?