The Stories that Matter

Untitled I came across Alex Tizon’s article unintentionally. I had never heard about him before. But the notion of someone speaking out about the atrocities committed within his own family made me click the link anyway. What I found was beyond anything I expected to find (though I’m not entirely sure what that was in the first place.)

For starters, the story was by a Filipino-American. I got even more curious. But the crime was not committed by him but by his parents. Who were both “full-blooded” Filipinos.  I was even more shocked.

You see, ever since you start learning history in school up until college,- as a Filipino,- you learn one thing. We were a colony. We were a people enslaved. So the farthest thing that one could ever think of (at least for the naive me) is the enslaved being no better than the oppressors who ruled centuries ago.

But Lola’s story was not a soap opera played on TV or in the theatres. It was real.

Today we wail for the lost native culture of the Philippines due to centuries of colonization and oppression. Something, I believe, is warranted. But that grief has also given place to some form of pride that has also blocked the less reflective part of ourselves as to failing to scrutinize the flaws of a glorious past. A pride that makes us neglect what Mr. Tizon had so clearly and honestly written in the article:

Slavery has a long history on the islands. Before the Spanish came, islanders enslaved other islanders, usually war captives, criminals, or debtors. Slaves came in different varieties, from warriors who could earn their freedom through valor to household servants who were regarded as property and could be bought and sold or traded. High-status slaves could own low-status slaves, and the low could own the lowliest. Some chose to enter servitude simply to survive: In exchange for their labor, they might be given food, shelter, and protection. (article)

 

 

Stories are powerful in themselves. They make us think what we normally would not on a daily basis. They make us feel what we probably never have.

The manner of how we value and learn from them, is what makes one story special than the other. But the value isn’t always in the date of an event, or the dress that the subject of the story wore, or the time and place. In fact, I believe it’s the memorization of these facts or data that has made the study of history a subject most of the kids find “boring”  or “tiring.”

Stories gain their impact through the relevance of the experience to the reader or listener. Relevance, meaning: “How does this impact my life? How could I possibly improve the way I think and act throughout my life, from learning this story?” I believe those questions rang through every student whenever they had to learn all about the Stone Age or the World War 3.

However, lot of us nowadays easily know the names of the likes of Clark Kent/Superman, Tony Stark/Ironman and Thor. Fictional characters, nonetheless, their names resonate with a lot of us (who wouldn’t probably excel in highschool/college history) mainly because of how “awesomely” went through their struggles- the impact of which, the audience felt they understood.  (Need I mention how obsessed a scary lot of us with the lives of celebrities?)

Some would remember and willingly go through lengths to learn more details about their characters of interest. But what makes “studying about the details of these characters so easy, but the history of our own and very real people, a drag?

Possibly, because we first focus (and put more weight) on the (trivial?) data like dates, numbers, and places before we try to connect to the story of the humanity  that is within the stories of other people in different times and in different places.

We fail to value it, as we fail to value reflection.

 

Somehow, as I absorbed the impact of Lola’s story a I thought back to all the historical dramas I’ve watched both from Asia and the West. I recalled the condition of Age of Ignorance/Jahilliya in Arabia. All of them had tales of oppression and rising above it.

I thought about how despite our stark differences across continents and even across time, the themes of our stories (our history), as individuals or as a people, were always the same.

Which brings me to one of my favorite verse from the Noble Qur’an:

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O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). [13]

Makes me think…

 

Mr. Alex Tizon, the writer who shared Lola’s story that inspired the writing of this entry, was known to be an exceptional journalist whose life’s work involved forgotten people, people on the margins, people who had never before been asked for their stories. He believed that all people had within them an epic story, and he wanted to hear those epic stories—and then help tell them to the world.

I share in that belief.

Maybe if we value the story of the farmer, the maid or the garbage boy as we do with Angelina Jolie’s or the next trending celebrity…

Maybe if we start listening to stories for their actual value rather than gossip…

We can learn to truly grow together.

 

(PS For the record, I really liked studying history. I flunked…just once. But that was because I’d had enough of how the teacher was treating the students. Dumb move. Haha)

Break Away~

When I opened my eyes slowly to the sun
It was full of white shadows
Because of the weight of endless thinking
It’s even hard to breathe

Look at the gap
In front of the dead end
Untie your hands
Runaway

-Years, Alesso X CHEN (Korean version, translated)

I have hopes, but not expectations, is what I told my friend. She wasn’t sure what I meant, and I told her that I would write about it.

It was one of the mindsets I’ve realized I should adapt for myself, as I continue to face the ever-challenging future.

For those who know of my Twitter and followed my noise and random rants, I’ve decided to take a break from a majority of my social networks and keep to myself, except for this blog where I only write my most coherent (rambling) thoughts. For those who got tired of me and have me mute, you must be breathing a sigh of relief aren’t ya? Keke. No biggie. Look, I’m sentencing myself to at least two months of silence and self-reflection! Haha.

The thing is, when you “adult” (this generation’s ‘sweg’ way of saying “grow up”), you tend to be plunged into the rat race and if you’re not careful ,you get consumed by it. Almost countless disappointments when things turn out not how you (exactly) expect them to, after what you thought was “giving your all,” tend to put off that determination you had in the beginning. “Disappointments” tend to be a common occurrence as you grow up, one would find.

But most of all, I guess, the most weighing disappointment is when you wake up in the morning, you look at the mirror, and your eyes don’t reflect “who” you expect to become as a person. The type that resurfaces when you have everything else in silence, and you are alone with only your conscience’s thoughts. Or I might be overthinking, but for the level of clutz-iness like mine lately, it might be a good thing to bring back.  

Where did I go wrong?  What should I stop doing? What should I have done?

My younger brother told me of something he had read earlier that talked about two types of happiness: one, that of contentment; and two, that of fun/instant gratification. He said the problem, with the generation that we belonged to is that happiness is made exclusively to mean what can give us the concept of fun- jolts of energy, pulsing emotions, and the almost absence of the need to think. Many of us limit our happiness to the venues of drinking and partying, where the beats makes us forget of the problems we face. “We stop thinking at that moment, and we’re happy,” that’s what most of us think happiness is.

But that’s the problem. We simply forget. We stop one of the most fundamental aspects that makes us human- thinking. Our “problems” did not  truly”go away.”

I do not drink. I do not party. I barely watch TV. But I guess, I’ve clung to some frame of someone and something within my mind that landed me where I am now, more than the actions or the conditions of those that surround me.

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“God will not change the condition of a people, until they change what is within themselves.”

(Chapter 13, “The Thunder”, Verse 11)

The verse above has visited my mind far too many times, without the influence of others, to just ignore it. And an small argument with my mother that shook the right places…

Erm, am I still making any sense? I hope I am, haha.

Actually, there are a lot of thoughts still going on in my head. But I feel like a hypocrite, like how I feel most like these days, if I didn’t put those thoughts into action and change my own condition.

Look at the gap
In front of the dead end
Untie your hands
Runaway

-Years, Alesso X CHEN (Korean version, translated)

Ahead lies a long road.

Am excited, and hopeful for a good outcome.

But I don’t expect everything to work our as want. As what I want, isn’t always what I thought was best, what I needed, or what I really wanted.

Accepting that one has fallen and starting over, could prove to be very difficult. But how can we get anywhere without any pain right?

So…

..Let us begin?

assa!

Dear You, Dear Me, Dear Us..

Renew our intention today.

Set it, if we don’t have one.

Even as simple as, “I will be better today.”

Then pray…

‘Cause no matter how prepared and determined, our only full power is in our choices.

So choose to strive,

Choose to at least try.

Even if it’s painful, it’s worth it.

Why?

We’re breathing.

Cars are made to be driven.

We are meant to live until we can only sleep.

So fuel up, from our hearts.

Let’s go!

Fighting!

Faith-ing~!

Hahaha

Leggo!

(3/31/2017, a quarter into 2017 already! Wah!)

-G.T.

Stuck

My tongue is tied.

My mind in shambles.

This is the second time I’m writing this. WordPress’s new interface confuses me, to be honest.

“I can’t write,” I told my friend. There are too many questions.

“Then just write. It doesn’t have to be in perfect English. Ramble. Even that helps,” she said.

Coincidentally, during my first attempt to get something down, Shane Filan’s Everything To Me was playing in the background. Now it’s Corbin Bleu’s Push it to the Limit. Shuffled Spotify Playlist, can be so timely. A sign? Hahaha

Can you tell me where I’m going
Tell me what comes next
Cause I know that it’s not over
Haven’t even started yet
I just wanna get there
But I hope it’s not too late
Cause the closer that I’m getting
The more I feel the weight

If anything could perfectly describe my mental and emotional state at the moment, it would be those lyrics from Mr. Filan’s song.

Ah, a new song now…one about getting through the currents of this world. But not alone.

We’re not gonna break
Cause we both still believe
We know what we’ve got
And we’ve got what we need alright
We’re doing something right…

This song. I thought to myself, this would be a song I’d love to sing to my loved ones. You are not alone.

I have to be strong. I have to be strong to protect what God has given to me.

But even then, sometimes…a lot of times, I do feel alone.

That only I can get me out of the internal mess within.

Just on time, Spotify. Sometimes, I can’t help but think that I have some abilities to transfer my thoughts and boom haha. Broken Arrows, Daughtry.

I may not be a saint but I’ve got a heart of gold
Yeah
Oh, like a telephone
Connection ain’t clear
But I hope you hear my soul
You gotta know

Yeah
The best of intentions I lay at your feet
And I need you to see past the worst part of me

And I’m tired of taking my aim
When I keep on missing
There’s gotta be a better way

These thoughts…above all of this, I know I’m not the only one.

I talked to my bestfriend, and she shares the same condition.

And I look at the news, and I see a world that struggles as well.

Our stories more connected than we think.

Oh listen! Haha Nickelback’s What Are You Waiting For is playing right now. Timely. That’s straight in a row. I promise it’s on shuffle! 

Tell me what you’re waiting for
Show me what you’re aiming for
Whatcha going to save it for?
So whatcha really waiting for?

Everybody’s gonna make mistakes
But everybody’s got a choice to make
Everybody needs a leap of faith
When are you taking yours?

My friend once said, that there’s so many possibilities. But it all comes down to our choices.

“What do you want?” I’ve constantly been asked this.

“To do the right thing,” is what I’d say.

But right now, the choice I will make now, will lead me to the direction I will end up. But will it really lead me where I would strive to go?

I only know that I cannot give up. Because though I may be the one breathing, my life is not simply “mine.” Cue really Harris J- Worth It as I was typing all that. 

When I’m on the case I know it’s worth it
I’m on the path now I’m running like a circuit
Got my dreams in sight and I’m ready for the fight
Now it’s time to put all of the work in, yeah!
One chance, one shot, no I won’t give up

I can’t give up: that, is what I know for sure.

No matter how many mistakes I make. I have to struggle to stand up again.

“What is it you want to do?” I’ve constantly been asked this too.

And that, is when I become speechless.

Being a writer? No. Not in the way I used to imagine. Being an employed writer isn’t as wonderful. As a writer, I found that I’m a free-spirited one. And my degree isn’t gonna land me one for now.

Maybe a columnist, one day. God willing. When I get my head straight and the experience to give credit to my words.

Journalist? Can’t. Again, my degree. See what I mean by choices leading us to situations, directions?

The answers won’t come today, I’m sure. God willing, hopefully, tomorrow. Soon.

But I know I can’t just sit here to find out.

May God forgive me for all my shortcomings that aren’t ending and are ever-growing…

May God guide us all, ameen.

Shades of Loneliness

This is the gloomiest piece I may ever post out here.

As I admit to myself…

Yes, I am lonely.

To a certain degree, I am…lonely.

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I guess there are times that it can’t be helped. That feeling of missing something-whether it be a person, or something inside of you, something you can’t express to anyone that you’d somehow know he/she wouldn’t be able to understand.

Or maybe it’s in the questions that people will wonder, “why do you even ask?”

But you, alone, know why. You, alone, know why you have to have the answers to these questions.

Or maybe it’s in the frustrations that don’t matter much to others, but they matter to us?

The unsaid feelings that we don’t dare tell anyone for various reasons- little they may be, they are enough for us to keep them within.

Is this the darkest shade of loneliness? Or is it just the beginning?

Is being alone, with no other human to exchange your thoughts and feelings, the darkest depiction of loneliness?

Or is it being surrounded by people, yet no one of who you can be fully transparent with?

Either way, no matter what shade, loneliness…unlike being alone for a time is something we know we cannot harbor or let be.

It’s an experience much scarier than the silence of a completely black night.