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:


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)




Crossing Bridges. A short anecdote for this day| Thoughts of An Ahjumma


“By understanding the past you understand the future, unless you change your ways, life will repeat in an endless cycle.”

In the name of GOD, Most Gracious, Most Merciful…

No words can begin to describe what I am feeling today.

Graduation….graduating from college is one of the said most important turning points in one’s life. The crucible, the climax of a stage.

No words can come from me, but by God, that can describe what I’ve learned.

Graduation. Life. Turning Points. Stages.

The moment where I’ll be stepping out of this plane, and crossing the bridge onto the next.

Graduating from college makes me think of that future stage when I’ll be “graduating from life.”

All of the moments, all of the tears, all of the smiles…All of it add up to who and where I am today. And none of them are truly because of me. No, not even the success. I see that now.

Above all, I am always and most grateful unto the One True God.  And certainly, no words can express how grateful I am for the people I’ve encountered in my life, even those I didn’t actually talk to.  Even the shows I’ve seen on TV has taught me certain significant things. *laughs*

And through it all, it’s the tears that seem the more weighty amongst all the experiences.  The struggle, the hurt…all of them, for reasons I’ve came to understand, for reasons I’m just coming to understand and for reasons I have yet to understand, were worth it.


And that’s just talking about going through the “phase” called college.

What more in the whole journey  called “Life”?

What about those who were past this stage? What were you thoughts back then? What are you thoughts now, whenever you look back?



I only pray that I’ll be able to “graduate” from Life, and not flunk it. Ameen.



FROZEN (part 2)|Heroes, Dreams|T.O.A.

Image ImageImage



In a world where darkness grows, how are the little sparks going to grow?

In times when illusions spread, how will Truth fill the rays of morrow?

(Click here to go to previous article of this series, FROZEN (part 1)| The Dilema...)

The growing tree is frozen in thought; unable to stretch its fragile branches further upward into the uncertain, treacherous and cloud-filled sky.

I refuse to believe that there is no hope. I will always believe…

There is. Hope has always been the key for any species to survive, even for those beings that are labelled to only be “instinctual creatures with no reason”. Like the herds have hope to return to the pride lands after the drought has ended, “instinctively” knowing  believing that the lush green will reawaken. Like the migratory birds, normally fly away for the winter but always expected to return for they know believe that spring will come again.

Like us- human beings. Even for those of us who continuously reject that there is the need for laws and religion to define the goodness within one’s humanity, we all secretly strive to find the right direction that’ll lead us to a harmonious life. We were given the “reason” to deny it, but we know that there must be Hope, just as there must be air, food and means for shelter to survive and grow.

H.O.P.E.- Hope. Some search for it in the declared “idols and stars”of the entertainment industry. And some search for it in the heroic stories that fill our TV and cinema screens…deeply wanting to be a force that could bring some light into the tension-racked times… deeply waiting for that “hero” that would prove us wrong- that sacrifice for the greater good we all dream for, is and will always be worth it. 

 (The Arrow. One of the current and quoted, “most popular hit-hero TV series of all time”. )

But in an increasingly complex world that’s forgetting the true materiality of “those little things and values”, how do we recognize Hope? How do we find it?

Heroes, even for us “grown-ups in denial,” are stars we constantly pine for especially in our times that are ridden by the revolting facts of escalating wars, fears and a famine that encroaches far more deeply than the lining our stomachs.

I am one of those people, and I have come to terms with it. I realized that it never symbolized an immature side of me…of something I thought I understood to be just that, and thus threw it aside. Instead, cherishing those tales of people who stood out and stood up against the storms of their society and made a difference-may they be history or myth- represented a dream, a goal, a value that I must discover in order that I may truly live before my time . Heroes are the reflection of a forgotten  self who is challenging, waking up, and calling out to the child in me that has grown but lost her courage to ask, to question, to learn and to fight for what’s right despite all odds. Heroes had always symbolized an unspoken fire of hope.

As children, the stories of heroes captivate us more than anything when growing up, lighting up the shared spark within each of us that more or less says, “I’m going find out what I love, be good at it and make this world a better place.” It’s as if, the various but singular role of being this vicegerent placed on earth is an inherited trait by all of us, regardless of what country and time.

It sparks when we reach maybe 5 and grows with a fury until elementary. But from there ’til junior high, that fire begins to waver, and by the time we step out from college many of us are drained of all that ardor, just desperate to survive.

Our once dreams then have become a distant fellow we no longer recognize and are welcomed as nothing but immature burdens that should be left on the shelf.

It shouldn’t be that way. It mustn’t be that way…right?

Which reminds me of the story of Maria, someone I know and hold dear…

(to be continued)

Digging…and dreams.

Image(In the name of GOD, Most Gracious, Most Merciful…)

The first stage even have a goodly tree grow is to dig its plot, where you want to grow that tree…

A lot of thoughts come rushing in just by thinking that fact…hehehe.

Maybe there can never be too many lessons one can learn from a tree. Hmm…

And in youth today, the seedlings of the future…where are they planted? Are they even (planted)?

It’s something I’ve been trying to write about in this book, or whatever it may come out of it.

I’m still digging…or probably still searching for the good place to put my plot.

If any youth finds and reads this, can I ask? Is there something or somewhere you know you want to go to? A dream? A primary life goal?

For those much mature than us, “grown-ups” as they say- are you happy in the way you’ve grown up to? Or are you still growing? Are you happy the way you’re growing?

Oh, i still have classes…got to go. 🙂

I only hope this wasn’t a thorny, melancholic post. 😀

Perhaps, join me in searching for a good plot? 😀


The Small Girl, Fatahat Saghira