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Why you might want to buy the Inquirer today

I found out last night from a friend who works at the Inquirer that an article of mine is to be published today on Youngblood. I actually did not believe it at first because I could not remember if I submitted anything recently. And then he told me to check the website that midnight, and to expect something at the newsstands this morning.

I have actually posted this essay on this blog a few months before, prior to graduation. It's a piece that I included in my undergraduate thesis, and I now remember that I sent it to Youngblood after having it written it some time last semester. I wasn't expecting anything out of it, really, I just felt like putting it out there I suppose.

And now, there it is. With my name on the byline. This is the first time I get to be published on a national daily - and that is why I'm absolutely thrilled! :3 My family from both sides rushed to get several copies, actually! It's true what they say, that no matter how many times a work of yours gets published anywhere, on paper or on the Web, there will always be that rush.

Here's to great beginnings and great places.

"The familiar shades of green and gray welcomed me as the jeep took a right to the Acad Oval that I have always called my own. The sun said hello in between the leaves’ shadows that hit my legs, and it was as comforting as always. Despite the frantic rush that this campus thrives in every day, there is always a quiet reassurance that greets me once I catch a glimpse of its lush trees and its people. This was how it felt like when I was a soon-to-be freshman. And this is the way it has been since, myself looking on with much calm as the greenness of the university embraces me..."

- from Postcard from Diliman, Youngblood. Philippine Daily Inquirer. Tuesday, May 29, 2012.


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Identity crisis.

"Don't worry, Ms. Bernardo, I assure you that you are an English major."

- Sir Paolo Manalo

This, after people from *certain offices in the University that I will not mention* asserted yesterday that I am not an English major because the word "English" does not appear in "Creative Writing."

And that "misunderstanding" almost cost me Php 4,500 and my enrollment into second-year law.

Thanks for coming to the rescue, Sir Paolo! :))



I came back to UP this week to claim my clearance and transcript of records, only to find out that I've been under-assessed a few years back (I know right, how could they let me graduate?). And after settling all that, I then discovered I had some deficiencies in the College of Law.

In a span of two days I've gone back and forth all over the campus, arguing, asking, confirming, appealing, and at the end of the day I'm dead tired and still in the same situation I started in. I got really frustrated and started cursing under my breath, really - not because this is the first time, but precisely because, it isn't. I've done this before - the entire "UP-treating-you-like-a-ping-pong-ball"; letting you go to this place only to be asked to go back to the previous place, then ending up not getting anything done. It sucks that they don't always have a very streamlined process of getting things done, like they're all guessing what to do just as well. It doesn't help that all these buildings they make you go to are located on opposite sides of the campus. It just gets really tiresome, both physically and emotionally, to be dragged around by people who, while doing their best to actually help you, sometimes are not sure either.

And then, in the middle of one of my walks from the OUR (Registrar) to Law, a mother and daughter approached me, asking me the way to the Registrar's office. While I was pointing to her mother the way (which was more difficult than you would expect, really. It's hard to direct non-UP people inside the campus because UP students don't use the names of the streets but rather the buildings), I noticed the girl looking up in awe at the trees that lined the Oval. Both of them looked tired and sweaty from all the walking, I suppose, and the shade that they now took refuge in somehow felt like a relief for her. For all I knew, in her head she could be saying, "Thank God for the shade of these trees. Ang init!" but I swear sixteen-year-old me would have recognized that look in an instant. It wasn't so much relief as it was anticipation.

It's the look that said, "Thank God for the shade of these trees! And these buildings! And these people! Omgomgomg I'm so excited to be here! I can't wait!"

And for a moment, deficiencies and under-assessments notwithstanding, I remembered.


Off to appeal at the College of Law with other new friends/incoming first year Law students. Classes haven't even started yet and already we're planning on filing a letter regarding some misunderstanding about the units required to be admitted to the college. It's a long story, but wish us luck! :)


For the love of science.

"One particularly interesting line of thought examines the difference between originality in science and originality in art — a refreshing complement to last week’s tangential musings on the subject by Mark Twain and Henry Miller.
    If I discover a scientific idea, surely someone else would’ve discovered the same idea had I not done so. Whereas, look at Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” — if he didn’t paint “Starry Night,” nobody’s gonna paint “Starry Night.” So, in that regard, the arts are more individual to the creative person than a scientific idea is to the one who comes up with it — but, nonetheless, they are both human activities.'"
- Neil deGrasse Tyson on why we’re wired for science & how originality differs in science vs. art from Brain Pickings

Sometimes, a part of me still wonders what would have happened if I never stopped liking science - or more accurately, if it never stopped liking me.

They may all seem alienating now, but there truly was a time in my life when physics, biology, geometry, and everything else in between fascinated me. Not that they don't anymore. It's just that reality somehow got in the way, leading me to a point where regardless of whether or not I still find the said fields interesting, I'm not equipped with the skills to appreciate them the way they should be appreciated.

In high school, while I recognized that I was never the best in math or science, and that those will never be my expertise, I considered myself somewhat good enough in them - or at least interested enough to want to learn about them, even when my grades did not always reflect that. I loved physics class. I looked forward to our bio experiments. I also enjoyed algebra and geometry a lot. In fact, I found myself more likely to pursue a a course in the sciences rather than in the arts. In our career assessment exam, I had industrial engineering come out as the second ideal course. (First was accounting/economics, third was humanities/social sciences.) So despite the apparent difficulty I did have with the field, I was sure the feelings I had for it will always be mutual.

But chemistry and statistics ultimately ruined it all for me. Since the second year, I never got the hang of balancing equations and connecting bonds between dots, even when I tried hard to stay awake in class by connecting eyes with our Chem professor (and eventually our Biochem professor in the senior year). And in my fourth year, I ended up hating any colored ball because of the questions that go along the lines of, "If a box had 3 red balls, 5 yellow balls, and 2 blue balls, what was the possibility..." Blech.

This antagonism unfortunately happened in the last few years of high school, when choosing our courses became almost inescapable. Despite my brief excitement over calculus thanks to Cady Heron's "The limit does not exist!" epiphany in Mean Girls, it was a relief for me to finally say goodbye to the sciences upon entering college. A huge relief.

Besides, I felt it was a much braver move, going against the norm and pursuing the arts. English and literature has always been my favorite subject, no contest, so to go to that field would prove to be satisfying, albeit unconventional for most. I remember one teacher, with a sour face, asking me, "Why Creative Writing?" To which only the voice inside my head could reply, "So that I wouldn't have to deal with all your f*ckin' chemicals, b*tch!" (Although I don't think I was that profane then. Haha.)

It's still sad though that a lot of people, myself included, feel this alienation and go through this stage of suddenly having to choose between sciences and the arts. I'm certain they can go together, and I really think they should. But there has always been this mindset that you're either this or that - you can't be both, or you can't be in between. And yes, I used to think I could prove that wrong: that being good in humanities doesn't mean you can't be an awesome physicist. It still saddens me, I guess, that I have fallen victim to that statistic.

So when college happened, it was as if I was on this conscious effort to prove the sciences wrong - that they were wrong to push me away, that they were wrong to judge me so quickly just because I didn't always get the hang of solving things. I had finally found mutual respect and love from art. And while it also hasn't been a smooth-sailing ride, it was nice to at least be nestled comfortably in a seat of words and rhythms, patiently waiting for their meanings to unfold to me on my own pace.

But every once in a while, my hidden/suppressed love for the sciences still emerge, albeit in random ways. Like taking Physics10 (it had everything I loved in the subject without the computation! Just the concepts! Which I had no problem in reading about!) or acing Math1 and Math2 (more practical maths). Or randomly reading about theories, laws, and how stuff works in Wikipedia (lately, more about engines and cars - for obvious reasons). Or unconsciously being attracted to Engineering students who talk geeky to me. (Heehee.)

I have long accepted that my "left side" will never be as dominant as I once thought it to be. I'm now fully aware (and grateful) that it's the "right" that gets the job done for me most of the time - and I cannot be more glad. I have found my greatest comfort and strength in stringing together feelings in sentences, rather than equations in solutions. But I guess, and I hope, that the "left" will not completely go away. I find that there is much strength to be found in the attraction of the arts and the sciences, and that there is but a small, fine line that separates the two. I guess I've come to the point where I know that while I can no longer speak the language of the sciences, it doesn't mean I cannot understand it. And I also now realize that just because art is fluid and relative, it has no space for specifics and detail. Seeing them come together makes sense - I just wish both of them cooperating in my head isn't too much to ask for.

I hope I never lose my interest and skill in the field of science and math, even in the most basic extent. After all, it did get me through the recent wave of exams for law school. And I'm sure that won't be the last time I would need that same push. I'm still crossing my fingers that one day, I'd still get to prove the theory wrong myself: yes, there is a place for poetry in physics, and that there is precision and accuracy, even in prose.


Lately I'm beginning to find that I should be the one behind the wheel*

I'm thinking the title is a dead giveaway but it's been playing in my head ever since this morning and I can't find it in me to ignore Brandon Boyd's voice singing.

Yes, today I drove for the first time. And what a feeling it was.

It has always been this unspoken given that I will learn to drive eventually. In high school they said I shall learn when I get to college, when I got to college they said when I turned 18, when I turned 18 they said after graduation. However, regardless of the constant pushing of these so-called "deadlines," I didn't find the need to rush into it - it was going to happen somehow anyway. That was for sure.

Add to that the fact that I found no immediate need to learn how to drive. My parents have no plans of buying me a car anytime soon, and although we randomly toss the idea around in conversations, it's not something definite, or at least not something that's in the foreseeable future. I am also a dormer, which makes my commute to and from UP relatively easier. When I do go back home in the south, I take the MRT to Ayala and from there meet up with my parents in the Makati area where they will fetch me after their work. Also, I secretly do enjoy the whole "I don't drive because I'm meant to be driven," shtick I give to my friends when they tease me to ask Rainier to let me drive his car.

But admittedly, the reason I did not mind the delay was because a part of me was also scared - scared that despite everything I was supposed to know about automobiles and driving (mostly thanks to Rainier who is obsessed with them, and has in fact designed and built two cars already) I also knew absolute nothing. I have no previous experience in driving - nay, I have no experience in any kind of moving vehicle at all. I can't even bike, for crying out loud! And the first (and last time) I rode an ATV for Geog Camp, I almost crashed into a tree (almost killing the aforementioned boy who sat behind me, out of fear, but mostly out of kilig, I suppose, although that's for another blog entry altogether).

As a result, I had all these preconceived notions about running into concrete barriers, having the engine die out on me, turning at the wrong time, crashing again into a tree - a whole slew of scenarios probably expected from clumsy, awkward, panicky me.

However when I started the ignition this morning, while finding the right balance between stepping on the gas and releasing the clutch, I just found this overwhelming sense of ease. Like this was something I was supposed to do, like this was something natural to me.

Perhaps I can credit it to maturity or to Brandon Boyd's singing in my head, but it just didn't seem as frightening as I expected the first time to be. It turned out much better than I was picturing all these years in my imagination. And when I was finally making the turns, shifting gears, and getting out there on the main road, it was like all fears just went splat! on the windshield as if to say, "There's nothing to be afraid of, really."

Well, of course there is. Like people suddenly flashing the hand of God when crossing the street from out of nowhere, or when motorcycles suddenly cut in front of you even when you have your signal on, or jeepneys randomly stopping in front of you. But to have avoided all these during my first time without much difficulty - that was quite thrilling. It was like for the first time in a long time, I had control of the situation, and I successfully maneuvered out of it.

It's no secret that the last few months prior to graduation (and to the result of the law school entrance exams) have been very tough on me. It took a toll on me physically, mentally, and emotionally. I was hoping this summer was going to give back the confidence I felt I lost in the process of finishing my thesis and complying with all my requirements.

Last week, I returned to Bangkok. The last time I was there was in 2008, the summer before college. Finding myself there again after four years, it was like coming full circle. I was in the same place again: on the brink of a major change in my life. I was surprised at how a lot of things inside me still remain unchanged after four years - the excitement enveloped in fear, the optimism coupled with reluctance.

But today, I felt I got the push I needed to get me out of this uncertainty I've been carrying with me lately. I came face-to-face with an actual, tangible enemy: the road. And having it stretch out in front of me for me to actually take on, that proved to be liberating. The moment I set myself in motion, I realized that while the fear may never completely go away, it does not mean I can't get around it either.

I guess the same goes for law school, and the rest of my future. And because there really is no other way to end this other than to wrap it up with the song, I say (and sing!) with much conviction: Whatever tomorrow brings, I'll be there, with open arms and open eyes, yeah.


* A line from the song Drive by Incubus


Summer, so far.

So in the last few weeks, I (1) have graduated from college which means I (2) have attended and held grad dinners and parties [read: ate a lot of food] in celebration of our right of passage, but which also means I (3) am now officially unemployed, though not for long because I (4) am soon to enter law school and is in fact secretly anticipating the torture about to come my way. Meanwhile, however, I (5) am enjoying the freedom I still have by relishing the fact that I (6) just got a student's license which means I (7) now have a legitimate ID that says I am indeed above eighteen years old [yes, it is always a problem for me, proving my age] but most importantly also means I (8) will be taking driving lessons soon - probably after we get back from Bangkok next week. In the meantime, I (9) am finishing an article for a small writing gig I just scored a few days ago, while looking for other furniture I can put in the new room I (10) just moved into.

So that has been my summer so far.

So hello, May. What else have you got up your sleeve?