Let’s Be Friends

A good friend of mine and I were talking yesterday about how Facebook drains the energy out of us and yet we can’t seem to stop scrolling down the feed for hours in hopes of getting news from anyone. Well most of the time, all I get to see are statuses of acquaintances — some I’ve only met once or twice in my life — about their problematic love life, how much they hate going to school, how stupid the government is, and whatnot. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not here to tell people to stop posting for all the world to see whatever it is they feel like sharing. After all, we all have our own accounts to manage and, needless to say, this is a free country. That actually goes for Twitter and other social networking sites as well. However, based from what I’ve experienced yesterday, I don’t think these sites can really ever match up with the feeling of meeting your friend face-to-face or striking a conversation with them without the eyes of the world prying on your every reply.

Yesterday we had a despedida lunch date for one of my college friends who’s going to Germany for internship. We spent half of our afternoon talking and updating one another about the happenings in our lives and how we are all thrilled and anxious of what’s yet to come. It was just a simple date (in fact there were only three of us) but it was priceless. Of course, we learned the news of her internship through Facebook. But the lunch date filled the things in-between which FB failed to cover. There were lots of laughter, funny queer remarks, crazy stories, and even self-ridicule.

I think for the most part, we tend to be overly self-conscious when we’re interacting through social media. Knowing that the whole world is looking at us, we try to choose the right words to say to earn the most “likes” or “favorites” and to appear more self-righteous than we actually are. While it is a good way of trying to become more “responsible” especially when airing an opinion about a sensitive issue, I don’t think the same method would work well if you’re trying to make a relationship work.

At least for me, it doesn’t. From time to time I crave for some real conversation with friends and whenever I post something on FB or Twitter which garners a reply, I find myself struggling on my next sentence because I know I would literally be answering to the whole world. There were a lot of times that I felt like cursing or saying mean things but always find myself stopping midway because I know a lot of people won’t like it, particularly my relatives, professors, and possible future employers who have Facebook and Twitter accounts. (Though it’s a different thing to openly express hatred to someone or something and you know a lot of people will back you up, case in point example, the newly-elect senators of the country. But then again, it’s still a form of self-preservation on your part.)

And the question is, do I really have to be ‘that’ reserved when it comes to my friends? Doesn’t it make me someone less than who I really am?

See that’s the thing. These social networking sites put everyone in one place — friends, family, colleagues, enemies, strangers, so much so that it becomes a struggle to come up with a reply to a certain simple comment that would make you look good to all these different people. It’s as if all arrows are suddenly pointed at you and you now have to make yourself more interesting, more self-righteous, more…likable. If you’re operating in five different social sites, it gets REALLY tiring…toxic, even. Like a part of you dies everytime.

With that said, I’d like to stay away from FB as much as possible. It seriously consumes my time and energy so much looking at different posts when all I ever want to have is a real conversation with a friend. As for my Twitter, I would be more active in it compared to FB, but I would definitely tweet less. I won’t deactivate them because I might still want to talk to the world from time to time — of course, in a less affectionate and impersonal way.

As for my friends, well if you don’t mind, I’d like to be more old-fashioned. I miss being with you guys and I miss being myself when I’m with you. E-mail, phone call, SNAIL MAIL whatever as long as we don’t have to mind if someone’s looking. Text and chat are good too, but they almost always end in awkward silence — one end waiting for the other who clearly doesn’t know the best reply to ‘:)’. Hit me up for a cup of coffee or a movie or a simple walk in the park and I would gladly meet you even if you’re halfway around the world.

They don’t have to be as frequent as everyday. They can even go as few as once a month. The point here is, we’ll have our own private little world where we can talk and be ourselves as we watch the bigger one pass by without caring what it has to say. By all means, we could use that as our escape when things get rough. It would require more effort but the reward would surely be more fulfilling. You get the idea.

So say let’s forget the social media and bridge the gap ourselves, shall we?

Yours,

fielleignacio@gmail.com
09178930511

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Q: How Are You?

A: Summer has been good (and hot), so far. I have been trying to keep my hands full for the next three weeks of April by enrolling myself in a driving school (which will commence next week), downloading tons of movies and series (which leaves me with only 5 gig of free space in my local disk), reading and buying books of different genres, and doing some artsy-fartsy stuff. We’ve been planning outings and get-togethers here and there as well; though it is highly probable that more than half of those plans would remain as…well, plans. But then, there is no harm in trying (or planning) anyway so might as well keep nagging until everyone agrees to a proposition. And besides, I like planning. It kind of makes me feel that I am in control of something — not to mention the joyful, guilty feeling of being able to easily assign responsibilities to anyone. But believe me, that is not always the case.

About the driving lessons, I figured it would give me higher chances of landing a job in the automotive industry if I will get a driver’s license as soon as possible. I have been wanting to get a license since third year high school but was never allowed to because 1. I almost crashed our van into a sturdy tree in Daang Hari during one of my test drives, 2. my mom does not believe that I have long ago given up on my car racing dreams, and 3. she thinks I would be off to different places everytime once she permits me to drive. She eventually got over them, thank goodness. And just last week, I finally convinced my dad to pay for my driving school lessons. They were against it initially, saying that it is a waste of money and that my tita can teach me for free. Problem is, they want me to train first in a manual car…BUT we do not have a manual car anymore; hence, the need to enroll in a driving school. Anyway, I really need to get my grubby hands on a driver’s license already. Honda has a job opening for fresh graduates and I cannot apply without it. I have clear intentions, you see. But then again, I think my mom has a good point in her third argument.

Downloading movies and series and reading books actually contradict each other. I have not finished de Botton’s book because I got distracted with Game of Thrones. Now I am downloading Suits and I am days behind of my reading schedule (and yes, I put deadlines into finishing books so I can make sure I will be done by the end of summer). Also, I have not cleared my laptop yet from my accumulated (and now useless) files from 1st year to 4th year college.Not that I am being sentimental about it — I can be quite merciless when it comes to deleting files, numbers, and people accounts whenever they take up too much space. It’s just that I’m feeling lazy to open and assess what should go to the recycle bin and what should stay for a few months more.

As for the artsy-fartsy stuff, my mom bought me my second set of mud clay (or paper clay, as what my friends call it) project. I did my first one back in elementary and my mom said she wants to have another “work of art” hung on our living room wall. I am not sure how she is planning to do it considering that our walls are already full of frames (and I still have a jigsaw puzzle of Greece which is a work in progress and will be framed, too). Outside, perhaps?

And I have been working out! Jogging every morning (well okay, not every morning) and crunches every day. Hope it pays off soon.

So yeah, I guess I am fine. I am busy. But whenever I let myself become idle even for just a minute, sad thoughts creep in. And so I try to be busy and keep my mind preoccupied and try to forget that I sorely miss you. There are times when I feel like striking a random conversation with you like how we used to, but I always stop typing midway; not because there really isn’t anything we can talk about (I actually have a lot of things to tell), but because I feel like you won’t be there to listen. It isn’t anyone’s fault, really. Like what you said, things change. And whether we admit it or not, we have already outgrown each other. I miss you badly, but I don’t want to force it this time. Truth be told, I have not figured things out yet. And unlike before where I can always retreat to being friends, I feel like I don’t have anything to cling on to anymore. I could go on telling you how much I miss you but there are just too many “buts” strung along with it.

I still hope that you’d randomly hit me up one of these days and tell me your current state of affairs. I hope that you’d find time to actually tell me what you really feel (or even the lack thereof) so I can finally smooth things out.

I wish I could say I’m down with the season but summer’s fine and it’s actually just waiting for me to sweat it all out and enjoy the sun.

One Day

I don’t want you thinking I’m bothered or anything about last night. I don’t want your phone number, or letters or postcards. I don’t want to get married to you. Definitely don’t want to have your babies. Whatever happens tomorrow, we’ve had today. And if we should bump into each other sometime in the future, well that’s fine too. We’ll be friends.

– Emma Morley to Dexter Mayhew

April 2, 2013

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She held his face in both hands, looked at it.
‘You’re getting married?-‘
‘Yes’
-‘And you’re going to be a father?’
‘I know! Fuck me a father!’
‘Is that allowed? I mean will they let you?’
‘Apparently’
‘I think it’s wonderful. Fucking hell, Dexter, I turn my back for one minute…!’
She hugged him once again her arms high round his neck. She felt drunk, full of affection and a certain sadness too, as if something was coming to an end. She wanted to say something along these lines, but thought it best to do this through a joke.
‘Of course you’ve destroyed any chance I had of future happiness, but I’m delighted for you, really.”

“Can I say something?’
‘Go on’
‘I’m a little drunk’
‘Me too. That’s okay.’
‘Just….I missed you, you know.’
‘I missed you too.’
‘But so, so much, Dexter. There were so many things I wanted to talk to you about, and you weren’t there-‘
‘same here.’
‘I tell you what it is. It’s…..When I didn’t see you, I thought about you every day, I mean EVERY DAY in some way or another-‘
‘same here.’
‘-Even if it was just “I wish Dexter could see this” or “Where’s Dexter now?” or “Christ that Dexter, what an idiot”, you know what I mean, and seeing you today, well, I thought I’d got you back – my BEST friend. And now all this, the wedding, the baby- I’m so happy for you, Dex, but it feels like I’ve lost you again.’-

-‘You know what happens you have a family, your responsibilities change, you lose touch with people’
‘It won’t be like that, I promise.’
‘Do you?’
‘Absolutely’
‘You swear? No more disappearing?’
‘I won’t if you won’t.’
Their lips touched now, mouths pursed tight, their eyes open, both of them stock still. The moment held, a kind of glorious confusion.”

– One Day, David Nicholls

Prayer for My Brethren

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O thou,

Who art the God no less of those who know thee not than of those who love thee well, be present with us at the times of choosing when time stands still and all that lies behind and all that lies ahead are caught up in the mystery of a moment. Be present especially with the young who must choose between many voices. Help them to know how much an old world needs their youth and gladness. Help them to know that there are words of truth and healing that will never be spoken unless they speak them, and deeds of compassion and courage that will never be done unless they do them. Help them never to mistake success for victory or failure for defeat. Grant that they may never be entirely content with whatever bounty the world may bestow upon them, but that they may know at last that they were created not for happiness but for joy, and that joy is to him alone who, sometimes with tears in his eyes, commits himself in love to thee and to his brothers. Lead them and all thy world ever deeper into the knowledge that finally all men are one and that there can never really be joy for any until there is joy for all. In Christ’s name we ask it and for his sake.

Amen.

L-R: Amber, Tolits, Janray, Tata, Sarahmae, Oman, Babylyn, Jessamae, Rhianna. Ate misses you guys so much.

Source:

Frederick Buechner. The Hungering Dark. New York: Harper Collins, 1985.

Last Friday Night

It was one of those Friday nights spent with a couple of beers, with the usual crowd in a usual place along Katipunan. And as “usual”, we talked about anything and everything under the sun. They smoked packets of cigarettes while I was happily nibbling on some salted nuts. They insisted I try a stick but I politely refused – not because my parents don’t want me to but because I really don’t feel like doing so. I have nothing against smokers but it’s just that, I don’t see the point why I should join the “bandwagon”. And for some reason, the smoking conversation got sidetracked to issues about the religion.

 My friend asked me if my faith wavered during my stay in Germany. With all honesty, I told her it never happened. I did tell her that I didn’t frequent church that much because the preaching is in German and it’s no use if I go there without understanding anything. But I still worshiped God, in my own way. She asked me this because she got swayed by the life people led in Japan. As for my other friend, she just simply told me that religion is actually the reason why some people become non-believers nowadays. While she still believes in God, she already lost her faith in religion.

Then they asked me what’s the use of religion if we can still have faith without it anyway?

At first, I didn’t know how to answer her mainly because we don’t have the same religion. But miraculously, I was able to remember what my pastor taught us a few months back. To put it simply, he said that one cannot claim that he is smart unless he has achieved some education. And for you to have a proper education, you must enroll yourself in a school or university. While we do respect those who claim that they gain knowledge even without entering an institution, we still (most of the time) need a certification; a proof that we are indeed trying and learning. And it’s also within these institutions that we strengthen our cores, develop our values, and know ourselves better in preparation for the “outside world”. I guess that’s how it goes with religion too. We can never really grow fully unless we find the right support group and, needless to say, community. Religion is there not to tie down people but to nurture their faith so that when they are “thrown” to the outside world, they would be able to defend themselves and not get swayed easily. It’s a pretty shallow explanation on my part (and I’m sure our pastor had explained it way way better) but I hope they got the message. It’s just a matter of trying to find a religion which fits best for you. For my case, I found mine in Christianity. I was a Catholic for seventeen years and got converted because of an unfortunate (well looking back, it might also be a fortunate one) event that happened in our family. I know I’m far from being an ideal christian but He knows I’m trying. And unlike others, I didn’t find my faith in God through religion. I found religion through my faith in God.

I guess that’s why some people become non-believers. They have religion but they don’t understand why they have it. But then, would people really rather stop believing in Him without seeking Him first? I am confused as to why some would just simply declare to the whole world that they already gave up on Him when in the first place, they never really tried to look for Him.

Anyway, I still pray that my friends would finally get the answers they’re looking for. It’s good to know they haven’t given up on Him yet. Tired, but still holding on. I guess.

On a lighter note, our session ended at 1:30 am and I was quite surprised that after three rounds of that drink I used to love before I tasted Paulaner, I still haven’t gone to the “happy place”. Haha. I guess Germany really did something to my tolerance. We ended up playing a game on the overpass going to Ateneo (one of my friend is a dormer and the other needs to take a cab to her condo in Balara). We pretended “crossing the street” while we were walking on the overpass and we ended up screaming like madmen because there were a lot of big trucks passing along Katipunan highway and we got scared that we might get “run over” by them.

Screaming felt good. I was able to release some stress and some thoughts that I kept bottled up ever since school started. After “crossing the street” twice, I felt my eyes wet because of so much laughing. Those silly little things that wrap up a night are what I actually remember the most the next morning.

TGIF :)

Starting Anew: The First Of The Last.

This semester marks – hopefully (or not) – the last first semester of my college life. And even though it’s just the second week, I am already certain that this is going to be a memorable one. Not as memorable as my third year but really, this is one of the semesters that I will really look back on because of a series of events – fortunate and unfortunate alike. Well to start, I was not able to get a Theo subject this semester because I was “randomly” placed in third batch. Given that I’m taking 26 units this sem (which is over-overload), it’s hard for me to choose my subjects’ time slots without overlapping with one another. But thank God, everything still turned out well. Theo-less, but still well.

Second, I feel like I’m back to being a first year again – sans the awkwardness of walking or eating alone. Through my 4 years of stay in Ateneo, I have come to learn how to be comfortable being on my own. And by “on my own”, I don’t mean the “I’m-so-emo-and-the-world-hates-me” type of alone. It’s the type wherein I can go to places, do errands, and eat whenever and wherever because I know there are really times that everyone has to mind his or her own business. And believe it or not, I am actually not that comfortable dragging people around to places I need to go to. Though I really appreciate my friends’ company at times. And I do miss them so bad. Well actually, I became quite clingy given that we got stuck with each other like a superglue – literally and figuratively – for a whole year. But since I’m traveling a different path as of the moment (having taken up German as a minor and not business-related stuff like what some of my friends did), I’m finding it hard to find common breaks between my schedule and their schedule. And while I really do not mind eating, studying, or even going to the toilet alone, I cannot deny that I really do miss having them around. Selfish as it may sound, I hate the thought that they’re out there having fun and being stressed together in classes I’m not in. But I’m still thankful that I get to live in a condo with some of my friends for my last (again, hopefully!) school year. That’s really something I look forward at the end of the day.

The third thing that would make this semester memorable is that I intend to live by the Ateneo’s magic word, MAGIS. I know, I know, that’s supposed to be a given. But hey, I’m trying to double my efforts now. This is going to be my last year and I need good grades. Without my usual classmates and groupmates, I know some things need to change (especially my study habits). And since most of my classes do not require groupwork, my grades on those subjects would solely come from me. But I’ll get by. With God’s help, I know I always will.

Fourth, I’m beginning to learn about myself more. It’s something that I cannot describe vividly and put into words but in a nutshell, I recognize some things that I still want to do (or do again) whenever I am by myself. For instance, I want to re-learn how to play the piano. It’s been ages since I last touched the keys. I want to have my own bookshelf with glass doors because having a bookshelf with my sister’s med books on it does not do justice to my collection. I want to write more. I want to buy a canvass and get my hands dirty with paint. I want to design stuff. I want to do other things aside from the usual acads and (sometimes) org stuff. The more I do school-related things, the more I desire to do something different. Something outrageous yet fun. It’s like my creative side (believe it or not, I DO have one) is trying to push its way up and balance things out. My mom would often say I don’t have that much time in my hands to do everything I want to do. But I want to do more. I NEED to do more, else I’ll get burned out.

Talk about pushing yourself “beyond” the limit.

Seven doesn’t feel right this time.

We grew up side by side with each other. You used to be my archenemy, my constant annoyance. My first memory of you was you, singing in the bathroom the then theme song of iodized salt. I remember I dreaded going to your house everyday. But because your house is nearer to our school, I was required to stay there after school til my service arrives. You loved making fun of me and I, being the balat-sibuyas that I am, would cry a lot. Then we would be scolded together because of the ruckus we made. One time you teased me while I was brushing my teeth and I chased you around the house. I got scolded because of running around with my toothbrush still inside my mouth.

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I remember being so excited with the news that we would be classmates. I got so excited even after a few weeks of going to school that I started telling everyone we are cousins.

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I remember kneeling on mongo seeds because we fought so hard. I remember you getting your head stuck in between your house’s window grills. I remember you falling off a creek near our house because you tried too hard to win the peeing competition with your brothers. I remember receiving the news that you had a crush with my best friend. Deep inside that time, I really wished you would do something than just smile awkwardly everytime her name’s mentioned.

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And even after elementary, we never stopped being close with each other. That’s why when I received the news that you passed the admission exam in PMA (which you took secretly), I mentally made a list of reasons why I think you should pursue it. Despite the opposition of some of our relatives – and they did their best to win the fight too – the eight of us stood by each other and held on to our belief that we are now capable of making our own decisions, mapping out our own dreams, and being responsible for the consequences. Knowing that we have matured together over the years is the best part of growing up.

I know you won’t be able to read this but I know that you know we’re very proud of you. Seeing you with your head shaved (God knows how much you love your long curly hair!) made me realize how determined you are to pursue your dreams. No more ponytail and braid lessons. Well I guess you love your dream THAT much, you had your most-prized “possession” cut.  And that inspired me. You inspired me.

I miss you, kuya.

It sucks that my last bonding time with you was we watched Battle Royale I in our house. Had I known that that was the last time I would be spending Sunday with you, I could have made the most out of it. I would’ve explained to you the joke Mama said which you didn’t get. But then again, that wouldn’t be normal. And you hate making a big deal out of things.

Right now it’s just too sad for me to think that even after four years, we still won’t be able to see each other regularly. You, with your government duties, will be sent off to different parts of the country, often in those with battlefields. While we will be off somewhere, doing our own stuff, making money, practicing our professions. And seven definitely doesn’t feel right during special events.

But yeah, you still have my full support. Just…take care. Make sure to always come back in one piece. And God…He’s always there.

Know that every Sunday lunch, we’ll always have a seat reserved for you.

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Up until now I still miss you. And I can’t imagine the day I won’t.

It’s getting harder and harder for me to update my blog mainly because I’m still suffering from a major JTA hangover. Yes. It’s hard for me to close that specific chapter of my life. It was the perfect getaway for me and I became the person I always wanted to be — happy and without a care in the world. Going back to the Philippines meant facing school and stress again. Up until now, whenever I wake up in the morning, I am always burdened with the realization that I am not in Germany anymore. I am not, in any way, brainwashed by the prosperity of the country or with the fact that it really is a greener pasture. I know and I am sure that I can be successful whichever part of the world I may be. It has something more to do with the people — friends and families — I left there. They taught me the real meaning of goodbye. Saying goodbye to your highschool classmates during graduation or to your ex is one thing; I’ve bumped into some of them a number of times in malls, in schools, and in some events. While saying goodbye to people  who gave you a window for turning into a new leaf and whom you know will be living on the other side of the world, thus, it is as close to impossibility as to seeing them again, is another thing. It’s more of the feeling that I consistently felt for 6 months which I know I can never feel here. I felt at peace. I felt free. Sitting for the first time at the side of the Danube River and seeing the beauty and tranquility of the place, it was then and there where, for the first time in a long time, I felt my heart beat for no one but myself. I rediscovered a side of me that never really got to surface until left alone by all the worries and stress. It was there that I realized I can do better, that I was being too hard on myself, and, that life is beautiful if only we will allow ourselves to see itAnd that there’s so much more on the other side, if only people will know how to break the walls of their comfort zones.

That’s why when people say, “you can always go back there someday” I know it would be altogether, a new experience. Being there as a student and as a tourist are two different things. I want to re-experience the past 6 months of my stay. I don’t think there would be a more stupid request than that. But I can’t help it.

Going back means putting boundaries again. Because that’s how reality is; unless you are already fending for yourself and making so much money, you are still limited with what’s available in front of you.

I know it’s a bad thing to escape from reality, to always live in your dream scenario, but face it — if you were in my situation, I’m sure you would have wanted to stay too and never go back.