Eco-promise

*For my last general class which is also my last science class ever, I had to make a commitment to the environment. We were required to do one of those take a picture with a cardboard message thing, post it on social media, along with an explanation. Not a fan of that so I just kept it private on Facebook, haha then took a screenshot. To my surprise I ended up taking the project a little more seriously because this is one of the social/global issues/movements I feel more strongly about. (Thinking of making a separate post to share some of my favorite clips on the topic and another one to expound on this maybe) This was the rushed essay I typed on my phone so forgive the weird formal reflection tone and my philo professors had been talking bout Aristotle so much that day so he got squeezed into this.

Lately I’ve been realizing much of our crimes against the environment, big and small, as a group or even just as individuals, are done mostly out of bad habit. Aristotle did say that to know the good is to do the good and that’s how it is to be virtuous. It’s funny how we already know what’s good for the environment yet we still out of pure stubborn habit, continuously practice otherwise. Unlike responsibilities and obligations in school and work, correcting these bad environmental habits don’t necessarily have to mean boring scientific methods. Much of what I know about tiny concrete ways to save the environment today comes from social media actually. It’s taught me that a lot of the process has to do with small acts.

We don’t necessarily have to live in a bubble and produce 0 waste just to save the environment and reduce that size ozone layer carbon footprint. I think it’s all about continuously pursuing daily activities just with a few curves here and there in terms of our lifestyle. The way in which we go about things as normal as choosing what food to buy, what soap to use, where to throw the trash can make a great deal a difference if done in large and more regular quantities. Getting rid of bad environmental habits all boils down to daily choices.

If anything, so much of us are limited to old ways because we aren’t presented with choices or better alternatives. I’ve actually been pretty stoked about moving towards this direction. It’s a direction that lets me choose local, choose organic, choose homemade, and choose sustainable. I hope Manila becomes more and more open to these types of alternatives for the sake of everyone and everything. It’s a cycle after all.

When we choose local and organic, it becomes an act of support. There’s usually a group of people behind these, which we end up supporting, hence sustainability. We support the brilliant risk-takers that invested in the non mainstream for the bigger picture. We support indigenous tribes, we support jobs and similar environmentally aligned projects. We support an old culture and perhaps even this new one—of sustainable living.

I’m happy to have learned online that there are a lot of communities around the world with people who in their own creative and very personal ways have gone back to the land. Whatever that means. Whether it’s manually brewing locally grown coffee beans at home instead of drinking out of that plastic or paper take-out cup or going off the grid like Alexander Supertramp, living off flowers and poisonous plants, this lifestyle is open to everyone. We all use each others’ help, and so can the Earth.

Some celebrities like Jared Leto and thousands of photographers in Northern America and Europe travel on foot or bus to capture the beauty of natural parks and wildlife. I love people like Mark Ruffalo for other reasons including how he uses his influence and milks amount of celebrity to spread the word about the things he believes in. This promotes the beauty that might motivate others to maintain all these wonders or to even do as they have and see it for themselves. I’d like to see for myself. It’s a collective, beautiful effort to make these alternatives and opportunities available to everyone. I’m beginning to see it as less of an obligation to the Earth. I think there might be no better way to live than by being one with majestic city skycrapers in urban jungles and the unrivaled magic and mystery of mountains, and maybe the wolf pack howl from a safe distance.

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don’t mind the blurry camera, awful lighting, and the I’ve been awake for 48 hours-look haha I was rushing to finish this before Friday and it was a long two days

We ought to know where we stand… In a pretty blue green, getting real old kinda world. So heal. Make. Save. And when what’s already perfect in itself is standing right in front of you, take a pretty picture and leave it for someone else to discover. Do the good. ✌🏻

Mary Lou “Lion Heart” Retton

*Since it’s Olympic season, although it’s barely televised over here, I just wanted to share a wonderful moment that happened to me in the sea of Simone Biles news.

This is Mary Lou Retton. She’s an Olympic gold medalist in artistic gymnastics. 🏅 She’s an icon. My uncle says she was America’s darling. She changed the face of gymnastics becoming the first American woman to win individual gold, beating the Romanians, who together with the Soviets, had dominated the sport for decades back then. Moreover, I just think she has this bubbly, energetic personality that made everything she did absolutely captivating. It translated on the floor.

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Two nights ago I tweeted that 1984 was a golden year. And part of the reason I love 1984 so much is Mary Lou. Just look at her fire. 🔥 And to my amazement, she acknowledged the tweet! Her verified account. Just to make sure, I checked her likes and it’s not like she’s the type that goes around liking fan tweets, she mostly likes sports related announcements. Boy was I happy. I freaked out for a good 20 minutes. I really appreciate famous people that still acknowledge fans. It’s just a tiny effort on their part but it sure does brighten any fan’s day

I get so teary-eyed every time I watch this. Just listen to Bella Carolli energetically narrate history.

If it isn’t obvious, aside from tennis, artistic gymnastics is my favorite Olympic sport. Every four years, I look forward to seeing people achieve what looks like the impossible and I wish my folks enrolled me in gymnastics classes growing up. Hooray for small, strong people.

But there’s just something about gymnastics back in the day. It was a lot more about form, artistry, creativity, and grace. Today the athletes are inarguably pushed to physical limits, but it’s because the sport has centered on stunts and the difficulty of extreme flips and tricks. Props to Simone Biles for quite literally defying gravity and challenging physics. But I miss the performers. I think Mary Lou was one of the best performers out there and her perfect 10 athleticism that was no accident either. It was also just part of the technique that made up the rest of her show.

She’s such a hero not just because of her gold or perfect 10s but because of her fighting spirit. I just really look up to her flame. You can see it in her eyes and her candidness gives away her passion. Most of all you can see it in her smile.

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Each of us has a fire in our hearts for something. It’s our goal in life to find it and keep it lit.

—Mary Lou Retton

A Lone State

A year and a half ago I stumbled on what is still one of my favorite silent shorts and I’m revisiting it. If you watch it, you’ll find it isn’t so silent after all. The only words uttered in the voice message in the beginning leaves a painful spell that remains long after anything is ever said. It nudges most who are familiar with this kind of feeling, a feeling unsure of what it is and what it can be as it changes minute by minute. The film rests on these changing internal tides where accepted solitude is constant. Backed up by a new retro inspired score, my favorite specifically being Video Dreams by Haunt, it explores the varying emotional states of heartbreak that turns into a stabilizing peace. He doesn’t seem lonely to me, just alone and as is with having nowhere to be with nobody else. But I can sense his state of missing.

The frustrated com arts major in me would’ve liked to work on a project quite like this one. If not for the unique play on music, it was a treat to the eyes more than anything. Viktor Pakpour’s cinematography is subtle in his panorama but particular with his setting. His color choices almost look surreal in the day then alternates with a relatable rawness in the evening which wonderfully capture the boredom and beauty in “life goes on”.

It’s not romantic, it’s the anti-romantic but especially artistic take on the reality of solitude today. I do enjoy taking romantic trips to convenient stores on my own too, does that count? I don’t live in the US but if this looks nothing like the high soaring American dream, this might just be the high point of its opposite in fact. He’s lost and he doesn’t mind, and this looks to me and obviously Victor Pakpour as one of the nicer places to go missing. We live in a pressing time wherein so many of us are actually being missed and missing the other, but always surrounded by the wrong crowds among things.

The six and a half minute short is like a trip back in time to my favorite decade, the 80s with hints of the 90s. I’m almost jealous because it’s hard to find yourself comfortably alone in the cross between what we’re never sure is suburbia or a mega city anymore. This is an acceptable form of withdrawal he was almost forced into by his situation, and he’s taking it rather chill, rather well if I might add. He does it in style. It’s interesting to note that he never once brought out his phone to connect to the past or to the far off others unlike all proper young adults living out realities posted online or y’know, it didn’t happen. And it looks like he can’t be bothered to. This film reminds me of the times I found myself under one of the sky’s many pastel hues despite being remotely removed from the side of the world I’d rather be in, and for a minute I can’t be bothered to as well.

Toy Stories

Earlier we had our annual (sometimes biannual but sometimes we skip) garage sale. After what feels like three moves and more than two decades of growing up and out, I surveyed the mini bazaar in our lanai hoping not to sneeze from the dust. Nobody wants to buy my pink gingham dress from when I was fourteen. Everyone insists to pay too little for that literal hot dog floater I climbed on in the pool when I was ten. I see my brothers’ old matching toddler clothes and think about how they still look nothing alike but brothers nonetheless. My mom’s now vintage bags and clothes from the 90s have been such a joy to salvage. Is this the throwaway society I read about the evils of capitalism? Another man’s trash is another man’s treasure? We’ll donate the rest. The old you’s belongings will be the older you’s pocket money after a hopefully successful garage sale.

After what feels like three moves, more than two decades of growing up and out, I know there will probably be more moves. We can’t hold on to every single thing other than the hope we start to buy less but more in terms of quality. I guess they’re just treasures we can’t drag along or keep in boxes to line our walls. Earlier we had our annual garage sale and it was a sight to see bits of our childhood and memories on display for usually less than a hundred. Thank you to everyone who helped and everyone who came. Money can’t buy the underlying value of my Hello Kitty cassette player or the toy cars and building blocks from my brothers’ long gone playtime two to three houses ago.

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Ever seen The Devil Wears Prada? I saw it a few times when it first came out and as a partly tomboyish 12 year old girl with a fairly stylish mom seated next to me, I didn’t bother grasping the whole story. I thought I got what I needed to know. Someone like Anne Hathaway’s Andy, someone I knew from dorky to princess on Princess Diaries, could go from badly dressed to Paris Fashion Week, with a little patience and a good eye.

Now on its 10th anniversary, I want to watch the movie again. It seems relevant because I too assume I want to become a serious journalist, like the demanding devil’s right hand set out for bigger things outside the industry she first looked down on with her new sense of confidence and perhaps what you could call style. But there’s more to story than the underling growing up and out, changing through a very staged 2006 wardrobe that’s nevertheless fascinating to see. Rachel Lubitz writes just a few days ago How, In One Monologue, The Devil Wears Prada Nailed the Cultural Appropriation Issue.

Before you try to immerse yourself in an industry or culture, or mock it while appearing to embrace it (like Andy), learn the history. Because, after all, in fashion, a blue sweater is not just a blue sweater, but the result of many different people working very hard to give you something exciting. Every garment has a story.

Have a little respect.

To Madison, Streep’s monologue was the lightbulb. What Priestley is doing in that scene, essentially, is exposing how dismissive and unknowledgeable Andy is of the culture she’s taking part in — a culture that she previously viewed as frivolous.

So many of us, me included, have that tendency to view certain industries as frivolous, don’t we? Yet one way or another we all partake in them.

Despite how much of serious (still not straight news but I guess features and lifestyle) journalism I thought I had to be a part of, a part of me still looks to the left every now and then. The fashion industry repels the side of me that works under the motion that I have to do something sensible with my degree. Ironically I’ve written two final papers about philosophy and fashion, haha. Maybe it repels my face that never looks good in makeup for more than two hours and can’t stand on heels for three. There is however a quite as large side of me that’s drawn to fashion beyond its aesthetic appeal. Though I’ll never be a slave to it like my mom warned and how some of the characters in the film have shown, who knows? I might hate to love and love to hate working in it if I choose to strut into that direction for a change.

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*Here’s another 10th anniversary related opinion article about the film. It criticizes the film but I think moreover, it shoots down the many assumptions people have about how they think the film should be as oppose to letting it just be. 

Temporary

*More than a week ago, I got my annual henna during my school’s University Week. And for a bargain price, this is as neat as it’s gonna get. Sorry these are Snapchat pictures obviously haha. Try not to mind my annoying stickers and doodles. They’ve lasted longer than expected, thankfully faded into a purple gray instead of that murky golden brown, and now they’re maybe just two days away from completely fading. 

I’ve always wanted a tattoo or a couple. My brother has a few larger ones he had done pretty early on. I know some people who just went ahead and got one even on promotion but I guess I’m not quite there yet. A lifetime commitment like that makes me a little nervous and no doubt indecisive about what to get and where I’ll have it. I especially have to be sure of my reasons. “No ragrets,” right?

While I take my time contemplating what to get and where I’ll have it placed, I might just jot it all down in a journal I intend to begin soon. Might be good for me to do some writing away from a type pad or keyboard. Whatever it’ll be, I know it’ll be black, minimal, small and I mean really small, clean, and nothing quite as tumblr-girl looking as these hennas I had done. This’ll be a long time from now.

I did get these symbols in particular this year for y’know personal reasons even if they were just henna. In previous years I had some large stars on my back and a badly done Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man on my arm. Bad choice of placement on my part, I admit I kinda just wanted to see how good these henna artists could get without stencils.

This year my under 30-minute wait along the row of tents in the school bazaar was quite the interesting wait. I met some friendly characters, I guess that happens more when you’re alone, and for the ones I never had exchanges with, I had an open curiosity to see what they wanted temporarily inked on them. “Inked,” like the real deal but not. I may have chosen the same henna guy I did some two years ago too. He was very polite and I still think one of the better ones that joins every year seeing as I’ve tried others.

I had the planets or the linear universe done just cause there was extra time before I rushed to class which I would later find out was free cut. There was extra ink and I thought it looked cool. I had it done last among the four and I had to talk him into each round he drew because we had no design for it. It’s just something I’ve seen time and again online. Never the best reasons but for something temporary, why not? I always had a fascination with astronomy and getting a cute alien would’ve been too grunge-y.

Last week like some weeks really, I felt the Universe was absolutely bigger than me as oppose to being more one with it. It really is anyway but in a sense I was reminded I was just a speck in it. Humbling to know it had bigger things in store for itself and the rest of the world. But I do think there’s so much more to the world than things working out for me cause it isn’t about me in the first place. It never is. If things were to go good for me though then I’d be at the very least already blessed to have a shot at experiencing more than a speck of what the world has to offer even in ways I don’t expect. It’s going to be okay. Always is.

Two blogs and four trillion years ago… I was very fascinated with snowflakes, star-shaped ones in particular. I have to add that this was not the kinda snowflake I wanted. I showed him a neater, simpler design but as it was on my back and the henna dude had a mind of his own, this is what he came up with and I only saw it after my friends took a picture. What is that bedazzle he insisted on adding for some extra bling?

It’s been years since and still haven’t seen or experienced a snow fall? But I think for poetic reasons and the kid who’ll always adore Jack Frost from the 90s, I will never let the imagery of a snowflake go. I might even consider having a sort of it tattooed. There’s just something about it. Snowflakes are unique and you can’t really see them unless under the right weather conditions. You probably have to have a special lens to capture them too. They’re unique. They fall. They melt. And they’re fleeting. I had it done for when I fell for the irreplaceable people I had fleeting moments with, and for the little spark of special I can only hope to be because nothing lasts. Life is precious like that. Who wouldn’t want to keep a piece of Christmas all year round? It’s always fall and winter somewhere else.

This is the Reiki symbol for healing. I’m not well researched with this and if I’ll consider having this done surely a lot smaller as a tattoo, I’m definitely going to be doing more reading into healing symbols. But I can’t be all about the symbols and none of it in real life.

I was never the type to talk about healing. I think with a default existentialist attitude I was always more of the I got better, got over it, moved on, grew more, I don’t care-type? I thought the word, heal may have been weak or synonymous to accepting pain and weakness, perhaps that’s why I didn’t like using it. I guess though I’m at that point wherein it’s no longer in my best interest to pretend nothing ever left me a little ouchie after all these years. I’m no longer trying to be a winner all the time. I’m trying to heal and grow. I can be my worst enemy too so I accept that I need to do what I can to heal so I can grow. Almost appropriately people who wear this symbol become healers themselves. I only know from the news but there’s no doubt that the world is hurting more and more each day. Try to be kinder to yourself and to everyone you encounter.

Fly. Ironically, I don’t think I’ll ever have a tattoo of a word or a quote whether in English, Chinese, French, or indecipherable code. I spend so much of my time writing already and as I will continue to encounter words mundane and even close to perfect, I couldn’t find anything so special to tattoo on my body. I wouldn’t know what typography I’d like on me too, there’s just too many and so far nothing has ever called out to me. I’m not crazy about typography perhaps. Symbols or imagery are better personally because they stand for something in particular but they’re also open to interpretation. Words are limited by their very definitions. But if ever I do get one, I might laugh about this entire paragraph disclaimer then you’ll just have to see it on my skin. If I did have the word fly tattooed on me it wouldn’t be in this kind of script. Guess this was all for effect. Much as I hate that it looks so tumblr-like, a paper plane is still a good symbol for flight and it’s mine even here in my blog.

It’ll always mean courage to me.

Flowers for your thoughts

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was supposed to do something else for class and I ended up doing this

Safe to say my classmates and I have been thrown outside of our comfort zones for the rest of the term because of contemporary epistemology class. I’ll admit that although it’s been so daunting and stressful, the sort-of-Socratic method-entailing-actual-hard-work kind of teaching style will inevitably be for our own good and growth, hence you’ve got yourself some sun flowers for all that thinking and analyzing.

While reviewing the philosophy textbook for senior high school, one of the reviewers quipped that the book is not an easy read. She worries that teachers and students might not understand it. A colleague replied that unfortunately, there is no better way to teach or do philosophy. Though philosophy students generally think that philosophy is difficult, I think they often forget why it is so. It is not because of the language or the concepts, it’s because philosophy deals with the very realities we struggle with everyday, sometimes unconsciously, for others more deliberately. Philosophy is a loving struggle with life and its questions. Therein lies its value. So perhaps the best way to begin is to have a loving struggle with the text.

—M.A. Dacela, my contemporary epistemology professor

May the struggle prove to be fulfilling!


Featured image in collage artwork: © Chris Kolupski (2008) for his amazing representation of The School of Athens on canvas