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One day, the world is going to be my oyster.

But until then, I have to stay put. This little corner where I sit shall be my universe, at least until all this is over. And I shall be content in knowing that there is beauty in this struggle.

Patience, young grasshopper.


A belated appreciation for Diana Prince

There's a tweet I came across a few weeks ago, back when Wonder Woman just started gaining traction. It is super funny, yet also very true and powerful at the same time:

And it is so accurate. Ever since I saw this film on IMAX, I felt like a warrior was ready to rip herself out of my chest. I was so pumped, so amazed, so awed. It was the story of one woman - a strong, ideal, almost-perfect goddess - and yet, in so many ways, it was also incredibly human.

Unfortunately, this isn't going to be a proper review of the movie. (Although it's definitely a 12/10 for me.) But I'd like to take the time to write about something that is so incredibly rare for me these days: to find something so inspiring. Seeing Wonder Woman embrace this whole idea of being brave amidst it all for the common good - it's uplifting. And truth is, I really needed that.

And these days, don't we all?


(Yeah, sometimes, I spend my short breaks reading superhero comics. When the weight of it all becomes too heavy to bear, I like jumping into a world where the lines between good and bad are clearly drawn. Where we know who the good guys and the bad guys are. I guess it's my way of coping with all this grief and sadness and anger; some sort of coping mechanism.)


At last

This is the result of nine years in UP: finally that Sablay on my left shoulder with the purple tassel on it. It still feels surreal. This is what I've been working on for most of my adult life: getting good grades in high school so I can enter a good university, working my ass off in college to land a spot in law school, crying myself to sleep just to get that juris doctor degree. And now here we are! Is it really the end? How the hell did I make it??? I can't believe it's been 10 years since I took the UPCAT. And wasn't it only yesterday that I wrote it a love letter, of sorts, after graduating from college? 

I know I sound like a broken record, but man, UP really was my dream school. My family (especially my Tita Gina) did a great job of going all Inception on me ever since I was young. They were pretty consistent in making me believe that it was a place where dreams came true.

Was it everything I expected it to be? Yes, and no. It has its failures: it is just like the outside world. Some people are terrible, some ideas are trash, some institutions should be reformed. But at the same time, it is nothing like anything else out there. There is kindness, there is wisdom, there is love. There is comfort in knowing that when people come together with great ideas and with compassion, so much good can be done.

Wow. I guess this is really it. 

Thank you, UP, for the privilege of being nurtured by you. I hope one day I can repay the taxpayers for the eight-and-a-half-years of funding for my tuition. I promise you, I'll do you proud one day. Just you wait :) 




Someone finds salvation in everyone, and another only pain

So this is how it feels to lose one of your heroes. His music has been a quiet friend to me for all these years. Audioslave and Soundgarden were cornerstones of my adolescent life - and eventually, much of my young adulthood. Even his solo albums were permanent residents of playlists on any of my gadgets. I can't count how many times his songs have given me comfort, even in times when I thought I didn't really need it.

I never knew you, I never saw you live, but I feel so devastated. Ang sakit-sakit naman, Chris Cornell. Rest easy.



“We depend on our surroundings obliquely to embody the moods and ideas we respect and then to remind us of them. We look to our buildings to hold us, like a kind of psychological mould, to a helpful vision of ourselves. We arrange around us material forms which communicate to us what we need — but are at constant risk of forgetting what we need — within. We turn to wallpaper, benches, paintings and streets to staunch the disappearance of our true selves.”

The Architecture of Happiness, Alain de Botton

Why do we feel like we belong in some places and not in others? It's interesting to me how the idea of a physical space can have so much impact on our identities - no matter that it's our first time there, or our thousandth. It's also interesting how our relationship with a place evolves: like how a place we dislike will later on become monuments of a certain part of our lives that we will eventually look back on nostalgically.

I think my favorite part of going on a trip is getting this feeling of "I belong," on the most random of places. I can honestly say that I don't see myself permanently residing abroad ever - but I'm going to lie if I say that there aren't parts of other countries where I can imagine myself being a part of its picture. There are places that resonated with certain parts of me, echoes that only the inner, most secret versions of myself could hear. And it was oddly comforting event though physically - all senses considered - they are alien.

Consider this carousel: before my trip, I only saw it once, on a video montage featuring a particular love team. But my feelings for said pairing notwithstanding - I instantly felt so much joy and excitement. Like I've never seen a carousel before - even though I have, a hundred times. I don't even like riding carousels. Something about it just spoke to me - maybe the colors? The innocence of children's laughter? The chilly, snuggle-appropriate weather? Whatever it was, it spoke to a part of me that longed for carefree, happy Saturday afternoons.

What does that say about me? A lot, but also, maybe, not much.

"Place makes memories cohere in complex ways," writes architectural historian Dolores Hayden. And I think that's true. How else can we have a memory of something if it doesn't have a setting? A backdrop?

I don't have a steady grasp of my "true self" lately. I'm not sure how much of my likes and dislikes right now are permanently part of "Karla, the person." But I'd like to think that this year is going to be all about reconciling these impulses to the identity. I'm in for a long period of introspection inside my room - aside from all the studying, of course. Personalities change, just as much as surroundings do. But the self can change too even when the place does not. Here's to hoping I like whatever version of me that comes out from this cocoon of a year.


Faculty Center: One last look

I went to UP yesterday to fix my clearance; and on my way to the OUR I just had to pass by this place again. It's been more than a year since the fire, and it still stings. I was there that night. My friends and I went to accompany another friend, a professor at the History department who thought he could still salvage his things.

As I stood in the same spot I did a year ago, I was again reminded of everything that was lost in the flames - records, undergrad theses, thousands of books, costumes, scripts, poems, novels, works of art, memories. Stories. Corners and corridors that witnessed our every failure and joy. Sometimes, I still wonder, how can its end be so cruel? To have left absolutely nothing behind but ashes?

I stood in front of it yesterday with a heavy heart - heavier than my usual sentiments of missing CAL as I crawled my way through law school. Turns out, today the building is being demolished. FC was home, perhaps even more so than Malcolm ever was. And to lose it so permanently just as my stay in UP was ending - it felt like salt on my battle wounds.

But if there's anything I learned as a student of this college, it's that there is beauty to be found in starting over. Stories end, time passes. Life comes and goes, often taking away parts of us we can never get back. The most we can hope for is that this sadness will eventually carry us through. To new narratives, new perspectives, new meanings. For now, we grieve. Tomorrow - as with all tomorrows - we will pick up our pens and write again.


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Signs of Life: Back from the US

I came back from the US about a week ago but have just recently re-adjusted my body to the nights and days on this part of the world. I was gone for twenty-one days, on a time zone sixteen hours away. And I have nothing to complain about - I had a fantastic time, I visited places I've only dreamt of seeing and I wish I could write about all of it.

But as I'll have you all know, I'm on a tight schedule. The trip was meant to be my graduation gift, after finally finishing my law studies (in nine semesters - hahaha). I took it early this year for a reason, and that is, so I can go back and focus on my review for the bar. So while I spent the last three weeks happily gallivanting around San Francisco and Los Angeles (and a small part of San Jose), it also meant I had to work on my calendar so that I am not behind on my preferred study schedule.

I know, I know, isn't it too early, blah blah blah. But four-and-a-half years in law school have taught me what I needed to know about myself, and that is, I'm only good at procrastinating when I'm writing. Not so much on my studying. So if I can get a head start on things as soon as I can, that will be terrific.

As such, I won't be having the luxury of writing about the entire trip as lengthily as I want to - at least for the moment. I just wanted to give you guys (the four or five of you who might still be reading this thing, LOL) a quick update on what's been going on in my life. And at least give this blog some signs of life.

Maybe I'll find the time to write during my study breaks; maybe not. But at least, consider this my notice to the world. I'm back, but also, not really. :))


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The story behind my interview with Nadine Lustre

It has been said that there is great peril in meeting someone you've admired for so long - often they do not live up to your expectations. They turn out to be less of the magnificent person you've conjured in your head, and more of a flawed, distorted, imperfect version. Which can either be a good or bad thing. Good, because at least you know they're human just like you. Bad, because wtf they're human just like you.

I tried coming into this interview with zero expectations - "tried" being the operative word here, because much as I wanted to be all professional (after all, I don't work for Scout; this is my first time to interview a celebrity; and first time to do a cover story) I was also very aware that the reason I was chosen to do the task was because I was, first and foremost, a fan.

Reposting this photo just to illustrate - again - that I wasn't kidding when I said I'm a fan :))
[To be honest, this was all my boyfriend's doing; I did NOT force him to treat me to 
Barcino for Christmas! Hahaha #defensive]

"Fan" - it's such a funny word. It's either a badge you wear with honor or a label you detest. Either way, for most people, "fan" is associated with "irrational," "lovesick," or "obsessive." I sure as hell believed I was none of those adjectives, but I swear the moment I stepped into that shoot I became all of it. I couldn't decide how to sit, where to put my cellphone, how to look at her. It felt like staring at the sun, only instead of UV rays I got a simple girl putting her own makeup, preparing her own salad. But radiance and warmth just the same.

It has also been said that there is great danger in meeting and writing about someone you've admired for so long - often, you cannot encapsulate who they are. I've been asked a hundred times since the cover feature has been revealed: "How was she?" "What was she like?"

Screencap of the teaser of my article, grabbed from Scout

The funny thing is I've already written my article, and thought I've said what I can say about her. And yet, almost a month later, here I am, still finding excuses to write about her, still looking for ways to sneak her into the conversation, still wanting to talk to and about her. Because the thing is, she was nothing like my expectations. She was so much more. Which is something that a "lovesick / obsessed" fan will say about her. But it's true - she was great, and yes, I am a lovesick / obsessed fan. She was casual, and honest, and candid. She was willing to talk openly about her love life and her ambitions. She gamely played with the photographer's and layout team's ideas. She made jokes; she told stories (some about herself, some about James, one about another fandom - hahaha #secret).

But more than that, she seemed like a great friend. And isn't that what we all want? To be friends with the people we admire? The way she answered her questions, man I swear I felt like we could be BFFs if we just had more time. Don't get me wrong - I'm under no illusions that if I message her randomly she'll remember me and we'll get to hang out. But, she really seemed like the kind of person I - and consequently, everyone - could connect with. No pretenses.

Which is the most we can hope for when we meet our idols, I guess. That we are given a glimpse of who they are behind the persona. At the end of the day, she is still after all human. But more than just a girl, she is a person with stories. A person with dreams, with plans, with questions. With things that bother her, things that make her heart leap for joy.  

If there's one thing I've learned from reading all these cases and jurisprudence in law school, it's this: Never forget that these people are real. The names you read about in SCRA? People. The faces you imagine as you memorize doctrines? People. And in the same way, the artistas whose photos we like on IG and whose teleseryes we follow religiously? People. And if there's also one thing I've learned from my degree in college, it's this: It's important to get to humanize the people you write about. They are not two-dimensional characters with quotes. It's all pretty much the same. And the most important thing to remember always is that when you meet someone, as a fan, as a writer, as a lawyer, it's important to find these stories, so that we can paint a better picture of them, something we can hold on to with great pride and respect. It doesn't matter if you come in there as a fan or as a mere observer - just as long as you find it and you do it well. And when we get to find that common ground with anyone - celebrity, stranger, whoever - it makes for the best kinds of stories. Plural.

This K. Bernardo loves Nadine! ;)

So I guess that entire experience can't really be summed up with one article. Or one caption. It was just an hour of the interview, but I felt like we talked for hours. Which you can chalk up to my being a lovesick / obsessed fangirl. Or you can blame it on Nadine being able to put her walls down and embrace being able to reveal part of herself to people who are eager to listen. Either way, it makes for a great fan encounter - and a great story to write about again and again.


P.S. If you want to read the cover story I wrote featuring Nadine, grab a copy of this month's January-February issue of Scout! It's available online here or at select campuses, and National Bookstore & Powerbooks branches :)

The cover for the print version


And the cover for the digital version


(Credits: All photos from the issue itself are from Scout magazine. The BTS shot as well as my photo with her are from my camera. The photo of James and Nadine was grabbed from her Instagram account. The photo of me and my boyfriend was grabbed from his phone wallpaper #hehe)


the doctor in juris doctor

For someone who just finished law school, I've been watching Scrubs A LOT these days. Funnily enough, I have no interest in obsessing over any legal shows to "reignite my passions" or "get the ball rolling" right before bar review. Or at any time in the last four and a half years, actually. Sure, on occasion, I'd pop in my DVD of Ally McBeal the few weeks before finals and marathon while powering through the last bunch of cases for the semester, or sometimes when I'm at home I'd catch whatever episode of Suits is on Jack TV out of curiosity's sake. But I'm not as invested in those shows as I am with this medical comedy - something completely opposite of what I'm doing, but also, oddly familiar.

I think the thing that has gotten me hooked again on it this time - after the nth rewatch - is how my perspective has altered the way I'm seeing the show. The series starts with the lead characters beginning their first year of internship as medical doctors. They have just graduated medical school, they now have this newfound sense of authority, but also this staggering responsibility. Before stepping into the halls of Sacred Heart Hospitals, they were merely students, with adequate working knowledge of medicine. As the series (and their internship) continues, they come face to face with the hard realities of actually being a doctor: making tough calls and living with those decisions.

If you think about it, it's not that different from the realities of a new lawyer. (Or in my case, a fresh-out-of-law-school no-longer-a-student... uhm, person). It is overwhelming. And it can be crippling to be in a position where all decisions made are crucial because lives are suddenly on the line, every single time. People are no longer just names on a case, they are actual persons in real trouble seeking for your help.

But mostly, I think I just long for the humanity of it all. Scrubs gives me that. Doctors are expected to save the day, much like lawyers. But unlike the latter, the world views doctors as kind and compassionate people. They heal. Even if their arrival often signals sickness or death, it also presages a kind of hope. They aren't walking creatures of doom - or worse, greed. You know that deep down, they are people who care. Empathy is the biggest tool in their disposal.

Which is so unlike the field of lawyering. Most lawyers are aggressive, abrasive, and arrogant. Sadly, those are qualities that make for some of the greatest lawyers too.

Perhaps being in a cut-throat environment like law school made me forget what it's like to be in a place that is more compassionate than competitive. And I think the reason I've been so invested in Scrubs lately is because I needed to remember why I'm in this field in the first place - that I too want to make a difference. I want to be part of solutions, I want to get people out of a rut, I want to give someone their victory - but without being a dick about it. I can help, and also be kind and compassionate about it.

In the next few months, I'm about to begin my bar review. And I've been told repeatedly by friends that it's the biggest, most difficult challenge any law graduate would have to face. I think I've been preparing myself mentally since my classmates took the bar last November. But my heart needed the reminder that I'm doing this for the right reasons. I'm not here to prove that I'm the best or the smartest or the greatest. I just want to retain a piece of this cheery, outgoing self and still be good at what I dream to do. And that even though I'm the way I am, it doesn't mean I will suck at being a lawyer. It just means I'm going to be different. Hopefully, that's a good thing.


Required Reading: Favorite Essays of 2016

Much has already been said about the year 2016.  It had high highs, it had low lows. It signaled the beginning of things, it ushered in many endings.

I have not gotten around to writing about it just yet. Actually, I have not been able to do a lot of writing at all. Reading, too. (For leisure, that is.) But while I have not found the time for novels, I have, in fact, gotten into the habit of reading long-form articles instead. Looking at my Pocket app, I'm quite happy with the sheer number of essays that I've saved and have influenced me, in one way or another, this year.

So allow me to share with you the best essays, non-fiction, profiles, and articles that I've come across in the last twelve months:

"The Attorney Fighting Revenge Porn" by Margaret Talbot
The New Yorker

When people ask me what kind of lawyer I want to be, I still cannot come up with an exact answer. Same with the question about why I even wanted to be a lawyer in the first place. But stories like this make me remember this one truth: I just want to do some good in the world. Even - and especially - if that means knocking down some nasty, evil, misogynistic assholes along the way.

"The Magic of Moss and What It Teaches Us About the Art of Attentiveness to Life at All Scales" by Maria Popova

I never really paid much attention to moss, but it is precisely this kind of dismissal of the little things that makes this piece so poignant and beautiful. It's a reflection on nature and how timing plays a significant factor in even the most organic, natural of things.

"Heirlooms" by Naseem Jamnia
The Rumpus

This is the kind of piece I want to write about my family one day.

"Nora Ephron's Final Act" by Jacob Bernstein
The New York Times

Okay, so this piece wasn't written in 2016, but in 2013, when Nora Ephron died. But I came across this last May, and it made me cry buckets. I have a special place in my heart for Nora Ephron's writing: both her essays and screenplays. Getting a glimpse of her personal life through articles like these - pure joy.

"The Digital Dirt" by Nicholas Schmidle
The New Yorker

I'm guilty of loving the entire machinery of the entertainment business. I'm fascinated by how much effort is placed into making the entire mythology of "celebrity" afloat and intact. This is an interesting look at one of the strongest, most influential gossip blogs in the world, run by - (un)ironically - a lawyer.

"In Defense of Facts" by William Deresiewicz
The Atlantic

Relevant, especially considering the culture of memes and fake news that erupted in 2016, both locally and internationally.

"Kim Kardashian West on Kanye and Taylor Swift, What's in O.J.'s Bag, and Understanding Caitlyn" by Caity Weaver

Mock me all you want, but I love/hate/love the Kardashians. They're such engrossing, manipulative, riveting people - I just cannot look away. This is a great profile on Kim that acknowledges their influence, but doesn't mock her for her mistakes. (For the record: I'm completely #TeamKim on this, sorry Taylor. LOL)

"How Blac Chyna Beat the Kardashians At Their Own Game" by Sylvia Obell

Same goes for this fantastic article on Blac Chyna. God, I love/hate that family. :))

"My First Son, A Pure Memory" by David Hlavsa
Modern Love, The New York Times

Modern Love has made me cry twice this year: this essay being the first -

"The Internet Still Thinks I'm Pregnant" by Amy Pittman
Modern Love, The New York Times

- and this essay being the second. This is what good writing is all about.


Here's to finding more stories to read - and write - this 2017.