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!

On Writing: Finishing That Novel

For all those who experience the same…
Like me.

adoptingjames

Thank you Michael D. of The Breakout Chronicles for asking the below question on my post, On Writing: Ask Away!!

“Do you have any tips for maintaining the drive necessary to actually complete a novel? I have multiple ideas and have started numerous projects…finishing things, however is a problem.”

Other than actually sitting down and writing your novel, doing it over and over and over and over again until it is finished just might be the hardest thing about writing.

How do I maintain my drive necessary to actually complete a novel? Well, in my adult life I’ve completed four novels thus far, so I must have the answer.

Wrong.

I have LOTS of answers. And I’m going to provide them to you. Because one day one thing might work which might not work the next day. So tactics, for me, change constantly.

(Keep in mind, I have undiagnosed ADHD, so if…

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The Year of “Why?”

A definite MUST READ.

adoptingjames

why-1

Welcome to 2016!

This is the year where you will either A) figure out what you want to do with your life, B) continue to push forward toward your goals, or C) reclaim your lost passion and start over.

But there’s one question you need to ask yourself every single day should you decide to act on your passion or goals.

Everyday, when you feel beat up, worn out, tired, depressed, whatever, ask yourself: “WHY?”

WHY do you want to lose weight?

WHY do you want to finish school?

WHY do you want to get your painting in an art gallery?

WHY do you want to be famous?

You see, when you ask this question, it puts your inner-self right back at the beginning. It mentally places you right back in that moment when you decided you wanted to achieve whatever goals you want to have achieved.

And then, when you…

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