To myself a year from now

Note: This is my first blog post in 20 months, and so much has happened ever since. I started writing this piece on the evening of January 11, 2016 and came up with the final version four days later. Here’s to more blog entries this 2016!

Hello from the other side. It’s me, your 18-year-old self. How have you been? A year can do a lot to a person, and I’m hoping it has put you in a much better place than I am right now. (I was originally planning on writing a New Year’s resolution, but we both know it’ll just go to waste.) As I’m writing this, it’s a quarter before midnight, and by the time I get to the next paragraph, it will most likely be a new day. I just finished listening to Adele’s “Hello” which until this day many are still raving about. Today’s actually the first time I got to listen to the whole song. I gave it a try after reading an interesting article suggesting that the person to whom she’s addressing the song might not really be an ex-lover of hers, but her younger self. I admit that it kind of made me want to write something to my younger self too, but since I’m not very fond of the idea of communicating with someone from the past, I decided I’ll just write to someone else. Next thing I know, I’m writing you this.

I wonder where you are right now. Chances are you’re in a cold classroom either listening to your professor’s lecture or waiting for it to end. Maybe you’re in the MRT train on the way home, sandwiched between two equally-tired bodies. Or maybe you’re in a place you’ve never been before. You’re 19 now, and I’m really curious about how much you’ve changed. (Have you finally gotten laid?) I just turned 18 three weeks ago, and mind you, there’s a lot of pressure that comes with being this age. It’s like I’m drifting in some sort of limbo between childhood and adulthood, and the world is forcing me to get to the other side as soon as possible. When I will get out of this limbo I still don’t know. Perhaps you’ve gotten out of it at 19? I won’t get mad if you haven’t though. I hope you don’t rush things, especially becoming an adult. I hope you’re still clinging to that last shred of childhood remaining in you.

I hope you say yes more often now. I hope you say yes when a college friend asks you to come to a birthday party in a faraway province. Maybe that friend really thinks of you as a friend so much so that he or she mustered the courage to invite you to a place way beyond your familiar orbit.  I hope you say yes when you get asked to run for a position in whatever organization you’re currently in. Believe me when I say that though maintaining good grades is an indispensable part of staying in UP and in your degree program, grades are the last thing you’d want to take away from this whole experience. So be out there and participate. Make awesome memories. Say yes as long as it won’t put you behind bars.

I hope you don’t stop pursuing writing even though your head will be buried in thick accounting books in the years to come. I hope you don’t feel like a sellout anymore because of shifting from Journalism to your current degree program. I hope you’ve submitted your works to that literary contest you’ve been dreaming of joining since high school. You see, you don’t always have to wait for the perfect moment to start writing. Perfection is overrated. What you feel is good enough, and sometimes good enough is actually good enough.

I hope you realize that college is not a race to the finish line, and if people still tell you that it is, I hope you realize that it doesn’t matter if you fail to finish first. If ever that happens, the people who truly love you will not love you any less. I know that you’re still asking yourself, “Do I make my younger self proud?” And to that I say yes. You do. Every single day. So enjoy the journey while it lasts.

And lastly I hope you remember that I was here, alive not only in these words I once breathed life into but also in every space in between. I hope you remember that I once wrote you this in a strangeness of a night when the only logical thing I thought of doing was writing to someone I’ll never get an answer from.

Goodbye from the other side.

Why we should not underestimate social media youth

Last week I was overwhelmed by the volume of hatred that reeked from status updates, comments, and various memes, on my Facebook newsfeed.

The barrage of foul remarks and insulting photographs, mostly coming from my fellow teenagers, were aimed at reality show contestant Cess Visitacion.

Cess reacts to the online vilification during her guesting at the Aquino and Abunda Tonight. Photo from scoopboy.com

Cess reacts to the online vilification during her guesting at the Aquino and Abunda Tonight. Photo from scoopboy.com

Cess was given the axe at the local franchise of Big Brother after accumulating a serious number of house rule violations. Her eviction culminated a long week of name-calling and bashing on Facebook and Twitter, where she has been accused by rabid fans of being “double-faced” to her competitors and “whorish” in her dealings with a certain male housemate.

As mind-boggling as it was, it did not, however, surprise me. It has been the norm for quite some time now. The names of Paola Jamie “Amalayer” Salvosa and Deniece Cornejo also set the whole social media on fire not too long ago.

An example of the memes created during the height of the Vhong Navarro hullabaloo. Photo from irumorster.com

An example of the memes created during the height of the Vhong Navarro hullabaloo. Photo from irumorster.com

As much as it tells us something about how our culture perceives women, it also strikes a chord on the priorities and interests of many young people on the internet.

This is the social media as defined by the selfie-loving, slut-shaming Filipino youth—a virtual landfill of statements, memes, and photographs inspired by our profit-oriented media—suggesting a growing apathy among young people in the internet towards more important social issues.

Situations like this only magnify the lingering question that has been brought up by several people for a long time now—are the youth really the hope of our nation?

But it is also during these times when a certain hope flickers in me.

We may remember Padre Florentino, the virtuous secular priest who aided the dying Simoun until his last breath in El Filibusterismo. During the end of the novel, he yearned for a Filipino youth brimming with fiery enthusiasm and idealism that they will use for their country. Many scholars interpreted the popular monologue as the longing of the author, our national hero, for the same idealistic and untainted young Filipinos who will quash the oppressive system.

Social media presents numerous edges for us to transform from a gang of pop culture slaves and internet nuisances into the kind of youth that our national hero once called for—one of which is our large number.

According to the 2013 statistics released by Get Hooked 360, the number of Facebook users in the Philippines has risen to a staggering 30 million—55% of which belong to the 13-24 age bracket—signifying a relatively young netizenry.

Infographics from gethooked360.com

Infographics from gethooked360.com

On the other hand our country ranked tenth in terms of Twitter users in a list released by research company Semiocast last 2012, revealing that 9.5 million out of the total 517 million Twitter users were from the Philippines.

It did not also come as a surprise when two Philippine cities—Makati and Pasig—reigned supreme in Time Magazine’s ranking of world cities with the most number of selfie-takers.

Former Philippine Senate President Jovito Salonga in a 2005 article that he wrote for Living News and Good Education entitled “A Letter to the Filipino Youth of Today” cited examples in Philippine history where young people played pivotal roles to defend our country during some of its darkest days.

Few of the people that he mentioned were Jose Rizal who wrote the seminal novel Noli me Tangere and Andres Bonifacio who led the Katipunan both at the age of 26.

When the country was under martial law—a time when Facebook and Twitter were nonexistent—thousands of students actively joined protests and went into hiding in their struggle for democracy.

Maria Lorena Barros was one of the most fervent student activists during the Martial Law. She was killed during a military ambush at 28 years old. Photo from kiwizzo.tumblr.com

Maria Lorena Barros was one of the most fervent student activists during the Martial Law. She was killed during a military ambush at 28 years old. Photo from kiwizzo.tumblr.com

They fought even when it meant jeopardizing their safety as many of them were arrested, tortured, and killed while others just permanently disappeared.

Their sacrifices and love for country were part of the reason why we have the freedom to click and post whatever we want in our social media accounts today. These are just some of the things that most of them were not able to experience, while here we are today taking them for granted.

But with the advent of a technology that continues to break barriers and shrivel distances, we have a bigger advantage to turn things around.

A plethora of youth organizations have started to utilize social media to expand their respective projects. One Million Lights Philippines, the local arm of the California-based organization that aims to provide solar-powered lights to poor communities, has also used Facebook and Twitter to connect to a wider audience. Both of its spearheads, Mark Lozano and Tricia Peralta are teenagers—the former a student at De La Salle University and the latter at University of Pennsylvania. It is one of the many groups and organizations led by young people most of us may not have even heard of, but is keen on extending their presence to social media.

In the forthcoming 2016 elections, many of us will be eligible to exercise the right to suffrage and are thus expected to choose the next set of leaders with utmost judiciousness.

We must start realizing how big a power a status, a tweet, a selfie, or social media in general can have in affecting how we as a people elect our leaders, and in the process, changing the course of things in this country.

Yes we can launch hashtags at the top of the daily trending list to express our frustration over not having money to buy tickets for a boy band concert or anger against people on television who defy social conventions.

But we can also harness the same aversion for our crooked public officials, use those hashtags to demand justice, and convince people not to support or elect anyone of their kind in public offices anew.

Yes we can almost effortlessly flood others’ newsfeeds with tons of our selfies, and statuses about the food we eat, places we visit, and people we hang out with.

But we can also make these photos and statements even more personalized by utilizing them as means to voice out our personal convictions on various national and social issues.

Yes we can zealously support the endeavors of our favorite celebrities, petition for them to hold concerts in our country, and unflinchingly defend them from their critics online.

But we can also do the same to further meaningful advocacies, online petitions, and social movements initiated by unsung heroes which include people our age. We can even use our social media accounts to host our own advocacies.

We must envision social media as a vehicle that will transform us into the empowered and critically-thinking young men and women who will be in the forefront of eliminating the ills that have long plagued our country.

That it is a way to let people know that we may have slowed down but we haven’t forgotten. That we may love Daniel Padilla, One Direction, and fads that rarely last, but our ingrained love for our country, its long list of heroes and struggling people, will always be greater. That we may love selfies, but in our hearts there will always be a picture of us all united as one.

When we have reached this point, we would not anymore find the need to waste time on bullying people we barely know, or contribute to the thriving nonsense in the internet.

Not only would we get rid of those, but we would also emerge as the driving force behind a smarter and stronger society—both online and offline.

Photo from itsmegracee.blogspot.com

Photo from itsmegracee.blogspot.com

 

Even Iron Man Once Smoked Weed

“I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom.” -George S. Patton

It is not a secret that the real man behind Iron Man’s suit of armor—Tony Stark Robert Downey Jr.—who is one of the most bankable and successful actors of his generation and who is arguably at the apogee of his career right now, had once hit rock bottom.

Not-so-invincible past of the man who played Tony Stark on the big screen

Not-so-invincible past of the man who played Tony Stark on the big screen

Long before fighting fierce duels  against a long list of supervillains on the big screen—which included Zeke Stane and Madame Masque to name a few—to save the human race, the man who gave life to Tony Stark  had to fight countless, lengthy battles against drug addiction and substance abuse first in real life.

 Sure, he had lost a lot of movie and television roles because of legal battles, personal dramas and detention in treatment facilities, but Robert Downey Jr. was able to turn his life around, and his amazing Hollywood comeback still remains to be a class of its own—starring in an array of both critically acclaimed and box-office films while also collecting awards and recognitions along the way.

So what’s really my point here? Before I even allow you ponder that question, let me first give a warm and festive welcome to myself! It has been what, a long, lonely eight months—which had oftentimes felt like eternity—since my last blog post, and this one marks my first post for the year.

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There is a barrage of reasons which would explain my cold (and missed? 😎 ) absence in the blogosphere. First of course, is the ever-hectic and loaded schedule of a student who is about to finish high school in flying colors. (Hihi 😉 ) Then that was exacerbated by an attention span that is about as long as Kris Aquino’s new hair and a perfectionist attitude that is about as productive and responsive as the Philippine government during the wrath of typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda).

Oh yes! After four years of joys, fun, learnings, uncertainties, blood, sweat and tears, I did finish high school—as our batch valedictorian! Thank you Lord! :-)

Oh yes! After four years of joys, fun, learnings, uncertainties, blood, sweat and tears, I did finish high school—as our batch valedictorian! Thank you Lord! 🙂

Anyway, enough of giving reasons—that’s for our beloved politicians and not for a sixteen-year-old to do—and please give me another chance to rebuild and get this blog back to its past form. Or better yet, please let me do the thing that I’m most passionate about again which is to write, share stories, and in the process inspire more people.

Okay, I am not by any means a weed smoker nor do I have plans of being one in the future yet. (I swear I didn’t mean to type that! It was my finger—oh wait that is again, for the evil Filipino politicians to do. 😉 )  Like Mr. Downey Jr., we too can turn our lives around and start anew—no matter if you are a philanderer, a drug addict, or a shameless, asshole Filipino politician. You just have to have faith, commitment and discipline to really change and wake up every day with that strong urge to do things differently and better this time around.

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One of my favorite, life-defining quotes of all time says, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” This is what I exactly need right now because in the past months when I was not able to maintain this blog, I was too focused on taking the big steps; it was either a big step or none at all. What did not occur to me was that—just like what Martin Luther King Jr. said—it doesn’t matter if you walk or crawl or fly as long as you move forward.

And since the writer of this blog is an incoming freshman Journalism student at the University of the Philippines-Diliman this August, I vow to use the remaining three, long months of idleness into a worthy and fun-filled journey of fun and sensible randomness in my writings!

Here’s hoping that my comeback will be more of a Robert than a Lindsay! So yeah, I’d better hit the ground running! 😉

 

Congratulations Megan Young! Philippines’ First Ever Miss World

Let’s take a breather from all the ignominious political scandals that our country is embroiled in right now as we celebrate another kababayan’s triumph in the world.

Filipino-American Megan Young may have already established herself as a well-known actress, product endorser and reality show contestant in the Philippines, but she’s now also a world-famous beauty queen after winning the coveted Miss World crown in the pageant held in Bali, Indonesia.

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Megan Young fights back her tears shortly after being crowned by outgoing titleholder, Wenxia Yu from People’s Republic of China.

 

 “Salamat sa mga kababayan ko. Mahal na mahal ko kayo. Thank you so much to everyone for choosing me to be the next Miss World and I promise to be the best Miss World ever.”

Here is you new queen, speaking to her compatriots in a language that goes to their hearts. These words of humility came out from Young’s mouth after being asked by the host, Myleene Klass (who is also half-Filipino) on how she feels about being the new Miss World.  In fact Myleene Klass was equally ecstatic even exclaiming that her Filipina mom was probably going crazy back home too!

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Two proud Filipinas- Myleene Klass and Megan Young

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Asked why she should be the next Miss World, the 23-year old Film student confidently orated, “I treasure a core value of humanity and that guides people why they act the way they do. I will use this to show other people how they can understand each other. … as one, we can help society.”

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French beauty Marine Lorphelin placed as the first runner up while Naa Okailey Shooter from Ghana came in third place. Completing the rest of the top 6 were Brazil’s Sancler Frantz, Spain’s Elena Ibarbia and the People’s Choice Awardee- Maroua Kharbouch of Gibraltar.

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Megan in the Top Model competition of the pageant.

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Megan Young’s mother seated in the audience who of course, was the proudest mother in the world at that moment.

Young was one of the fan favorites since the beginning of the competition. Aside from winning the Top Model challenge in the competition and placing fifth in the Beach Beauty challenge earlier in the competition, she was also handpicked to perform traditional Maranao dance “singkil” during the live telecast.

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But Young, who joined reality shows Starstruck and Pinoy Big Brother, wasn't the only reality show contestant in the pageant. Indonesia's Vania Larissa, who also won the Miss Talent award is the winner of Indonesia's Got Talent.

But Young, who joined reality shows Starstruck and Pinoy Big Brother, wasn’t the only reality show contestant in the pageant. Indonesia’s Vania Larissa, who also won the Miss Talent award is the winner of Indonesia’s Got Talent.

Local celebrities take pride in Megan’s victory.

She currently holds the distinction of being the sole Filipina to ever win in the pageant’s 63 years of history. Popular Filipino actress Ruffa Gutierrez was the 2nd princess in 1993 while French-Filipina Gwendoline Ruais placed first runner up in 2011.

At the end of the day, we got something positive to talk about other than our corrupt politicians.

And in case you wanna follow Megan on twitter…

*Note: I’m not used to writing news articles as my forte is really editorial writing so I apologize in advance for the way I wrote this one. Thank you Megan Young for making us smile and feel proud as Filipinos especially in  the current situation of our country.

My UPCAT Journey

I know I’ve been neglecting my blog for quite some time now so here I am trying to compensate for it by persuading myself into writing another insightful and fresh blog post. (Naks, ipush na talaga ito hahaha 🙂 ) I know I’ve been a lazy ass lately especially this week wherein classes were suspended for the whole week, at least in Muntinlupa, so I was bestowed an abundant serving of precious time, giving me lots of opportunities to be productive. As a senior high school student, the word “time” is in line with the words food, clothing and shelter. Being given a handful of time is already a rare privilege for us so we always want it to use it to our own advantage by being extremely productive. Unfortunately though, I’ve been doing otherwise, well at least this week. This day I was off to my usual routine: sedentarily cramming watching movies, listening to songs, chatting with classmates, liking and commenting on my friends’ photos in Facebook and tweeting into a hefty ten hours of sitting in front of the computer screen. How I wish I have the ability to easily translate all those random and creative thoughts, insights and reflections that materialize in my persnickety mind every single day into a blog post. If only I was paid to write a blog. Oh well. Hahahaha joke lang.

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I want to be in U.P. Diliman so badly! It’s just simply my dream school and it is where I can best envision myself growing and developing as a college student. No matter how repetitious or annoying those other schools are in rubbing to our faces that they are the best school in the country, I still believe that U.P. is the premier and bona fide best university in the Philippines and no amount of advertisements, TV commercials or beautiful volleyball players can change that belief of mine. If I were to make a list of the best schools in the country, UP would certainly take the first to seventh spots as I think there is just a huge gap between UP and other universities in terms of quality. I want to study in a school that has produced forty National Scientists and thirty-seven National Artists. I want to be in a university where respected and well-rounded people who have excelled in their respective careers chose to spend their college years. I don’t think my college life would be as fun and complete if it won’t happen in a school that fosters great minds and where the sun kissed fields and trees that breathe air full of wisdom and love are juxtaposed with the elegant structures and halls that have stood the test of time. Well, there can only be one way (at least legally) for a senior high school student like me to enter UP after my graduation and that is passing the legendary and yes, dreaded UPCAT.

Last summer, I was immersing myself in forums where people talk about their respective UPCAT experiences and blog posts of people who have taken the mother of all entrance exams. Well I got different tips, a lot were contradicting but most were useful anyway. I remember someone saying that he did not review yet he still passed! That was really cool. Some wanted to be a little sure by enrolling in review centers. The idea of enrolling in a review center never crossed my mind and neither did my parents contemplate about it. Aside from being expensive and I didn’t want to have a commitment in the summer break (it was supposed to be a break from the tiring school year, for God’s sake), the idea of paying a certain amount of money to be taught things that one should have already learned in his last three years in high school and to be given a false hope of passing the entrance exams just seemed completely absurd for me. Some say it is effective though and I respect that. It’s still a matter of personal preference at the end of the day.

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I convinced my mom though to buy me two MSA reviewers which cost at least P750 if I’m not mistaken. Since I’m not the biggest fan of Math and Science, I only answered all the English and Filipino sub tests of the aforementioned reviewers. Hahaha. I remember I only gave attention to the reviewers for at least a week and didn’t mind it afterwards. The vacation spirit dominated in me and I thought that I’d only forget the things I reviewed when school starts. In short, tinamad na talaga ako. When the school year began, I forgot about the UPCAT for a while and focused more on the present. Being a senior student is really cut-throat! A day wouldn’t pass without a difficult quiz, a home work, an out-of-this-world project or a combination of all three. Nung traffic sa EDSA, 12 ng madaling araw na ako nakauwi at kinailangan ko pang gumawa ng mga assignments nun. Anyways, as days go by, I was becoming more and more paranoid so I asked my classmate if we can have a review session in a weekend. Since I didn’t join their summer review classes in school, I thought I can get something from his reviewers. As usual though, I only reviewed the English subtest of his reviewer. The following week, I was with my ex-classmates for what was supposed to be a review session for the UPCAT, yet it turned out be more of a pizza eating session.

Fast forward to August 2, 2013 (since this is getting lengthy and I’m not yet on the UPCAT day itself). The day before the UPCAT, I was already paranoid and nervous as hell! We were fresh from a retreat at Laguna Hills (I can’t imagine it was already our last seminar/retreat! 😦 ). I was off to my usual routine that day and since it was the first Friday of the month, we were supposed to have a student assembly by the afternoon. Whenever we had free time during that day, Daniel, Ian and I would sneak into the library to cram our Math notebooks from first year to fourth year! I was paranoid that Math topics such as ellipse, circle and all the trigonometric stuff would come out in UPCAT, and did I mention that on my way to school, I was actually memorizing mathematical formulas written on my worn-out Math notebooks while on the bus? Sure, I was really desperate and my mind kept on telling me that I should have reviewed last summer. I should not have been complacent and lazy. I should have used all the time in the world last summer to review. I was having last minute regrets!

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Like Joel in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I also wished I stayed. I wished I listened. I wished I reviewed. But like him, I also realized that I couldn’t turn back the time.

I was telling my friends that I was already feeling a bit cold, and that I could already feel the air conditioner in the National Institute of Physics. Hahahaha. 🙂 Inside the school auditorium, all of us seniors were talking about the UPCAT, and since the speaker for the virtue of the month was our Filipino teacher, who happens to be a U.P. alumnus himself, we asked him some tips about UPCAT and he gave some vague advice. Luckily, our school principal, who is also an alumnus of U.P. and has already proctored the UPCAT, let us stay in the auditorium for a little while and gave some valuable advice about the exams. During that time, I was already feeling anxious as I was counting the hours left before the big day. I was in the first batch of examinees so I had to wake up really early! On my way home, I bought some baon at Market! Market!, most of it were Goya chocolates and Oreo. When I arrived home, I collected all my Math notebooks since first year, my Science, Biology and Chemistry notebooks and put it in a bag together with my baon, all the materials I need and a good old rosary. It didn’t help that I belong to the biggest batch of UPCAT examinees in history! I’m just one of the 83, 000 examinees who are fighting for the highly-coveted spots in the country’s premier university. I was anticipating the quantity though because I remember that our graduating batch in elementary consisted of 945 students. Beat that! 😆 So you see, I just contradicted myself big time in saying all those stuffs about people going to review centers, since there I was desperately trying to cram all those things just hours before the exam itself! So shame on me. Really.

“Bakit ka kakabahan eh magtetest ka lang naman dun?”

My mom was vexed of me cramming. I said I was just nervous, so after her litany about how I barely reviewed last summer, she told me, “Bakit ka kakabahan eh magtetest ka lang naman dun?” I said, maybe she has a point. I won’t go to U.P. to sing or dance or act or show some flesh. I’ll go there just to take a test. I carried that mantra the following day. So I woke up very, very early, took a bath, ate a very heavy breakfast and drank only a glass of water instead of the usual two, because I don’t want to go out of the room to pee once the exams start. So we waited for Ate Grace then rode a taxi to U.P. Diliman. Ate Grace also came with us last January when I took that AJSS exams in Ateneo. Originally, I was convincing my mom to just ride the MRT but since it opens at 5 am, she was worried that we might be late. We left at 4:15 am and was already at U.P. at around 4:45 am. So you see, all those notebooks I brought with me were left untouched. 🙂 Little did we know that another dilemma was waiting ahead of us. I didn’t know where National Institute of Physics was! Or I really did. Actually, a month before, me and my ex-classmates went to U.P. to check out our testing centers. It’s just that it was too dark that morning! We had to ask several people for directions and after a long and vigorous walk slash exercise; we finally arrived at the National Institute of Physics! Oh, I just love to say National Institute of Physics repeatedly. It just sounds so sophisticated! Hahahahaha. Well, my classmates were saying that our testing centers have some kind of connection to our course choices which is pure bogus, since my course choices were BA Journalism, BA Film (Diliman) and BA Sociology and BA Philosophy (Los Banos). Where was the Physics part in that? Or did I miss something? In a way, I was thankful that my mom wasn’t much of a stage mom when it came to my decision in choosing a course unlike those ultra stage moms who forced their children to take those heavyweight science and computer courses that their children didn’t really like.

Oh UP Map! Hahahaha

Oh UP Map! Hahahaha

So I was already wearing my sweater (anticipating the temperature inside the room) and eating some candies while waiting outside the venue. Little by little, lines were starting to form and people of different sizes, clothing and companions started to arrive. Some had their own cars while some rode a taxi. But we all have something in common, and that was the persevering dream of being an Isko or Iska. The strong family ties of Filipinos were very evident in the UPCAT. I noticed some examinees brought their whole families with them! Some even brought big food containers, water jugs and coolers. Nahiya pa ata sila ate, sana nagdala rin ng kalan, kawali at kaserola. Camping lang po ang peg? Hahahaha Kulang na lang buong bahay eh dalhin na rin nila. When the sun rose, we were asked to form two lines. As I was nudging my way, I was getting a bit emotional leaving my mom behind. Naks ang drama! Joke lang syempre! 😆 hahahahaha. It was more of a Hunger Games moment wherein Katniss was slowly walking forward while Prim was shouting from behind. From then on, I was armed with the determination, confidence and spirit to bring my A+ game on. I noticed a girl who was still holding on to her reviewers and was telling her father how hard the Math items were. I just ignored that and thought to myself that I had to face the consequences of my decisions. I still believe that if it is meant to be then it will happen.

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We were guided to our room. Ours was the one where a small plaque saying (nonverbatim) “This room was donated by Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago in her belief of strengthening the foundation of Science in the Philippines.” or something to that effect. For a while, her angry voice entered my mind. I took my seat and I’d say that the room was very nice and beautiful. The chairs where arranged like those in a theater, actually the room seemed like a small theater itself. Thank God I was kept warm by my pangmandirigmang sweater. Some girls in the room were wearing those really short shorts! I wonder how they stayed focused on the exams despite the temperature inside the room. We were given those instructions booklets and we were told to write our names then shade the corresponding circles, like all those stuffs that we do in NAT. We had three proctors, two females and one male. Well, I shouldn’t have brought a pencil because the proctors will give you one in case you need it. But anyways, A+ for me for bringing all the necessary materials. 😀 Our proctors were very kind, at least during the exams. We were also told that UPCAT is right minus one-fourth wrong. Ihing-ihi na ako nung mga panahong yun at kating-kati na akong lumabas ng room.

I was at number 5 or 6 in the Language Proficiency test when I raised my hand, gave my test permit to the proctor then ran my way to the comfort room! Since I was paranoid as hell, I ran my way back to the room and continued my exams. Fortunately, I didn’t feel any pressure and my nerves were really calm while I was taking the test. As expected, I nailed the Language Proficiency Test. (Naks ang kapal! Hahahaha) Then the hard test came. Science! Grabe ito talaga ang bagay ang bumabagabag sa isipan ko eh. Confident na sana akong papasa ako kung wala lang itong Science part. Halos karamihan dito shinotgun ko. Pero intelligent shotgun naman.

So Math part came. It was actually a good surprise. It wasn’t that hard as I expected! Topics such as circle, ellipse and trigonometry didn’t show up! Though there were a number of items that I wasn’t completely sure of, I think I still did a pretty decent job. Reading comprehension part was draining because I had to read the whole stories, since in order to answer the questions, you really need to know the nitty-gritty of the whole story. Thank God that being the fast talker that I am, I’m also a fast reader. I think I also did a pretty decent job in this part. If I were to rank the tests in order of how well I fared in them, the order would be Language Proficiency-Math-Reading Comprehension-Science. Oh God, just when I thought that Math would be my greatest adversary. That’s why all the courses I chose were Liberal Arts. 🙂

I came out of the room with a smile and a sense of accomplishment. I felt like a thorn was pulled out of my chest. I felt like I survived a mental and psychological battle that I have been fighting for months. We rode the LRT and MRT on the way home and ate at KFC branch at Ayala MRT station to satiate our hunger. Somehow, there was a hope that flickered in my heart saying that I’ll pass. When I arrived home, I took another bath, posted a Facebook status saying, “Yeah! Finished the UPCAT! Papasa ako, tiwala lang.”, 🙂 (At tandang-tanda ko pa daw talaga.) Hahaha then decided to take a short nap at around 5 pm not expecting that I’ll wake up the following day! The next day I was like a lunatic imagining things like me writing the wrong PIN or identification number in the answer sheet. That was really funny! That’s the downside of having an over-thinking mind, sometimes it becomes like that of a wife suspecting his husband of having a mistress.

But I’ll just leave it up to God. I knew I did my very best. If it’s really for me, then it will happen. There are still other schools there anyway, though nothing comes close to U.P. Actually, I’m not feeling any pressure for ACET right now in contrast to how I felt about UPCAT which brought the paranoid out of me. It’s really hard to expect knowing I’ll just be depressed if I’ll fail to pass. I should just use the remaining months of my senior year in making the most out of my last year in high school, and allotting my energy to things that would be significant for my future, instead of worrying about things that might not just be meant for me. If there is one thing that I learned from my UPCAT journey (well, there’s a lot!), it’s about taking responsibilities. The cliché “Time flies so fast” is indeed true that’s why we always have to make the most out of every moment and cherish every single second of our lives because we never know what lies ahead of us. Surprisingly, I may not have gained a lot of knowledge in my failed “review sessions” for UPCAT, but the whole process of it is the biggest learning experience itself. As what they say, sometimes it’s not about the destination but the journey itself.

So, maybe I’ll just keep you posted on the results in February, right?

Wish me luck guys! 

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Masaya naman ako pagkatapos ng exam. Salamat sa pangmandirigma kong sweater na medyo mas manipis naman nang kaunti sa mukha ni Janet Napoles. Hahaha

This is it! The journey to UPCAT officially begins!

Finally, I got my precious test permit! Now, I gotta work this out and do my very best! Help me God! 🙂

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 Read: My UPCAT Journey

One of My Favorite Movies Ever: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

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“How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d”

                    -Eloisa to Abelard by Alexander Pope

Oh yes. The film’s title is derived from Alexander Pope’s poem “Eloisa to Abelard” which is about the forbidden love between a student a teacher.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind has managed to be one of my favorite films of all time for so many reasons, all of which I will tackle in this blog post. Not only does it have a unique and fresh theme, it also combines a comedic slash sci-fi approach on a love story gone wrong with egregious and ingeniously compelling performances from Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey.

I became aware of the film’s existence some four years ago while reading an almanac but I just dismissed it thinking it was just one of those artsy films of Kate Winslet that contain a lot of sex. See, I was completely wrong. I ate my words (or my thoughts to be exact) because this film is just so beautiful and sublime. It hit me straight in the heart and provoked a lot of emotions inside of me. If you think like I’m overrating it myself then go watch it. I’ve been a fan of movies with great and distinctive themes that stimulate my senses and psyche like Rosemary’s Baby, Black Swan and The Silence of the Lambs.

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So let’s get down to my blog post. But before that let me just say that I’m just fifteen years old with no prior experience in the film industry whatsoever so I apologize in advance if this blog post comes off as a little juvenile for your taste.

The film’s opening scene begins as Joel (played amazingly by Jim Carrey) wakes up on a lonely Valentine’s Day. Instead of going to work and doing his usual routine, he deliberately rides a train in Montauk to stroll in a beach because he just felt the need to. We get to hear his inner thoughts like how he abhors Valentine’s Day which he sarcastically calls a “holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap.” Joel is a loner, a pessimist who thinks that sand is overrated because they’re just “tiny little rocks.” He’s not one of those guys who are loud and jerky. I can actually relate myself to Joel because we’re more reserved and yes, a little apprehensive. We both have sound and strong minds and we both tend to overthink a lot. Sometimes I tend to think of everything as overrated, especially when I’m sad. When I listen to songs and I’m not in the mood, I tend to think songs are overrated because they end.

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Back in the train, Joel meets Clementine (Kate Winslet) who is his total opposite. Clem is wild, unfiltered and has a high energy. Her mood, as what she claims, is as erratic as her hair color which she loves to change when she feels like she should since she “applies her personality in a paste.”

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In fact, she tells Joel that her current blue hair is called “Blue Ruin”. Joel is so introverted that Clem is the one who approached him and made the first move. Clem gleefully pleads Joel not to make jokes out of her name to which Joel replies that he doesn’t know any. She then sings Huckleberry Hound’s song entitled “Oh My Darling Clementine.”

Oh my darling, Oh my darling,
Oh my darling Clementine,
You are lost and gone forever,
Dreadful sorry Clementine.

Well as the movie progresses, we will realize how prophetic this song is.

Since their meeting in the train, Clem and Joel became closer to each other. One cold morning, while they’re inside Joel’s car, Clem asks Joel if she can sleep at Joel’s house. So Joel agrees, and they stop at Clem’s house where she gets her toothbrush.

When Clem was out, an awkward scene between Joel and a stranger occurs while the former is still inside his car.

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Then the screen darkens. Music starts to play. Initial credits start to appear.

We then see Joel crying inside his car while a sad song is playing. It appears that Clem broke up with her.

Wait. We now realize that this movie has a non-linear narrative. We still don’t know if the scenes I described before the initial credits appeared, (train scenes where they meet each other) are really the first one that happened. We will be enlightened later.

So back to the movie. Apparently, the reason why Joel is depressed is because Clem decided to erase the memories of him and their relationship in Lacuna, a clinic that has the technology of deleting a person’s memories of someone or traumatic experiences.

Out of retaliation and yes, frustration, Joel also decides to erase his memories of Clem. He goes to Dr. Mierzwiak and they then make an appointment.

In order to make the deleting process successful, Joel also needs to get rid of all the stuffs, memorabilia and all the things that are associated or will remind him of Clem. The “operation” is performed in Joel’s house by Stan and Patrick (the guy who out of nowhere offered Joel help in the first scene of the movie). Joel, in his mind, will have to revisit his memories of Clem in reverse.

We see his last memory of her, a horrid conversation of the two of them when Clem, who is drunk, comes home late at night, which was also the cause of their break-up.

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We also see other problems that hounded of their doomed relationship like Joel’s lack of openness to Clem because of his natural introversion.

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Apparently, Patrick, one of Lacuna’s workers, is trying to woo the present Clem who had her memories of Joel deleted already, by copying certain facets of her former relationship with Joel. Patrick uses the dialogues and style of Joel to impress Clem. He also uses the the memorabilia of Joel and Clem like Joel’s diary notes or even the necklace that he gave to Clem before, to impress Clem.

As Joel travels back to his memories of Clem, he starts to fall in love with Clem all over again and begs Dr. Mierzwiak to keep a certain memory like a tearful bed conversation wherein Clem talks about her insecurities and woes as a child or their ice skating memory together.

The movie then takes a fresh and unconventional approach from here on. As Joel tries to evade the process of the deletion of the memories, he convinces Clem that they are just a memory and they’re in danger of being deleted so the two of them constantly run away and hide in a memory wherein Clem doesn’t exist like Joel’s childhood memories.

As Joel’s memories are being deleted, the people, structures and everything around him magically disappears too which adds to the visual effulgence to the film.

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When Stan finds out that Joel disappears from the “radar”, a precarious situation since it might jeopardize the deletion process, he calls Dr. Mierzwiak to come over and help him. When Mierzwiak arrives, a drunken Mary Svevo, Lacuna’s receptionist who was also present in the operation, becomes smitten over the married doctor.

This is the time when Mary recites the lines from the poem by Alexander Pope (whom she wrongly calls Pope Alexander before being corrected by Mierzwiak)

They both share a passionate kiss, which Mierzwiak’s wife, who unexpectedly followed her husband, caught.

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Mierzwiak’s wife angrily confronts his husband and when Mary meddles with the fight in an attempt to pacify the wife’s ire, it is revealed that Mary and Mierzwiak already had an affair many years ago and that Mary decided to delete that memory through the process that Lacuna offers.

Meanwhile, the deletion of Joel’s memories becomes inevitable as Mierzwiak was successful in “recapturing” Joel and taking him back to the radar.

When it was down to the last memory to finalize the deletion process, Joel and Clem’s first memory together was revealed, and ironically it was not the first scene of the movie where they met in a train. It was instead a time when Joel together with his family members decided to go to a beach and that’s where he meets Clem. Their first conversation was similar to their train conversation in the first scene of the movie where Clem asks Joel not to joke about her name. The only difference though is that Joel joked about her name and even sang “Oh My Darling Clementine.”

When Joel realizes that it was already their last memory and the deletion would be inescapable, he cries and pleads that he would have stayed in their relationship if he had the chance.

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Ironically, it was Clem who said that they should just enjoy their last memory together. Before she finally disappears and the process comes to a conclusion, Clem whispers, “Meet me in Montauk”.

So the splendid visuals then take over the film as scenes are fast-forwarded.

It is revealed that Mary quits her job, decides to steal the Lacuna records and distribute it to all their clients, including Joel and Clem.

We are now back to the present (the scenes before the scene where Joel cries in a car). It is revealed that the initial scenes of the film from the beginning to the scene where Patrick offers help to Joel all happened after the memory deletion processes of both Clem and Joel.

It means that when Clem and Joel met in the train, they didn’t really know each other because they already had their memories of each other deleted. What they don’t realize is that they are a former couple and they used to love each other.

So we’re back to the scene where Clem gets her toothbrush at her house and she finds their Lacuna records. Back in the car, she plays the record and they both realize that they were a former couple and all their memories start to sink in them.

At first, they react with bafflement and shock. In the end, after a tearful conversation they decide to rekindle their relationship although they know that they will still commit the same mistakes again and again.

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Well, I know the film is much better than how I described it so go watch it. (Yeah, after I gave you the whole plot. 🙂 )

One of the practical lesson I learned from this movie is to make sound and profound decisions. Sometimes, we tend to use our heart more than our head. We tend to make decisions based on what we feel (which are always temporary) rather than what we think. We tend to make permanent decisions on temporary feelings and most of the time, we regret those decisions. Like what Clem and Joel did, they made a decision that they regret although they were lucky that they still got the chance to still know each other in a twist of fate. In real life, we don’t always get that twist of fate wherein our decisions can be reversed so it is always important that we always think deeply and reasonably every time we make decisions because sometimes, their effects will remain for a lifetime and hence, unalterable.

Another thing I realized is that deleting bad memories or something distasteful in the past wouldn’t really do one favor. For example, we all have that embarrassing experiences or heartbreaks or traumatic experiences in the past that we want to forget. Will deleting those experiences make someone happier or more fulfilled as a person or would it just deprive that person of lessons and life-learning experiences that he or she may use to be a stronger and more resilient person than yesterday?

I believe that everything happens for a reason, no matter how clichéd it may sound. Yes, everyone will definitely have a bad moment or bad experience but it depends on that person how he or she will use it. Will he or she use it as a tool to further improve or better oneself or will he or she just dwell on that atrocious experiences to be depressed and never find real happiness and peace of mind in life?

And I believe it is what the film tries to teach its viewers inartificially. You may forget the memories but you won’t forget the emotions and the impulse. For example, Mary may have had her memories of her affair with Mierzwiak deleted but it did not guarantee them of making the same mistake again. You may have forgotten those inconceivable and harrowing memories of the past, but it wouldn’t be a guarantee that it wouldn’t happen to you again ergo it is not an assurance of a gratified life.

The “memory deletion process” that Lacuna offers represents humans’ perilous desire and ambition to use the ever-advancing technology to further dismantle the original and natural cycle of human life in an attempt to make it easier, more bearable and livable for everyone or provide selfish and parsimonious material things to further spoil those who can afford it. It makes sense especially right now that our generation especially mine is very accustomed to everything fast and instant, like instant coffee, noodles and wifi. It is alarming how more and more people especially children are having shorter attention spans. You know, I wouldn’t be surprised if one day, people will invent a gadget that enables one to instantly kill a person that annoy him or her or a device that will permit one to erase the processes of pooping and peeing as it may be viewed as annoying and time-consuming in the next generations. You see, technology is being abused and made to break things that shouldn’t be touched just to satiate one’s appetite for a comfortable and hassle-free life. Modern technology rips the word “sacrifice” into tiny bits of pieces and into oblivion.

But above all these, what makes me glued to this movie is the organic, vulnerable and fascinating powerhouse performances of both Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey. Kate’s Oscar nom for this role is definitely deserved and thank God she won five years later.

I am confident to say that I won’t forget the impulses and emotions that I felt when I watched this film if ever I will decide to delete my memories in the future.