In defense of the Alex Tizon article 

*I tweeted this discreetly after a blow up on social media from various parts of the world about the controversial long read. I noted there: article, because I intend to defend the article, not the things that happened in Alex Tizon’s piece for The Atlantic about his family’s secret

People demand truth but they blow up when it’s not to their liking, failing to recognize that the work was not a lie, in fact, a brave truth. It’s naive and idealistic to demand stories to paint black and white portraits of explicitly good and bad characters and behavior. Real life is a web of intersecting good and bad, where people, customs, mindsets, and the ways of the world, are allowed to change and grow. Scrutinizing and nitpicking issues from the place of privilege where one “knows better” is self righteousness guised as righteousness. People wanna intellectual-speak instead of opening up their hearts to a writer who poured his into this. Their bond, in spite of all that was wrong in their circumstance is more genuine than how subordinates anywhere in the world get treated. Note that you can hurt and walk all over people without having to break any laws or violate any basic rights. This was a lovingly written memoir of a family that captures the ff. very crucial phenomena in the human experience:

(1) There are remnants of servitude that haunt us as revamped forms of it still exist today.

(2) There is love in dark and difficult places.

We are all Alex Tizon when we are silent, but we can also be Alex Tizon when we choose to be kinder and softer.

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A piece of vandalism ☮

 *I’m not huge on politics but I wish I knew more and I’d like to do my own part as a citizen not only of my country but the world. It’ll be my first time to vote this May and although I still don’t know who I’m going to vote for, I do know that every person counts. This goes past elections. A government is important but no government can fix us when we refuse to fix us. With all the crazy bad natural and unnatural tragedies going on and will be going on, in here and the world, this is my piece. I also watched Bb. Pilipinas last night and contrary to popular protest, I’m actually real happy my bet won. Yay Maxine Medina, she’s lovely! 👑 In a far away munchkin land, I might join a pageant and say something along these lines… 😛🤓

Found this written in permanent marker in an alley in Singapore, ironically but fittingly a country that considers even the tiniest acts of vandalism unlawful. Still a minimal yet relevant piece of vandalism. I’ve come across a number of (legal) street art in Singapore meant to promote their culture and lineage, usually portraits of old Singapore. This came as a surprise find on a perfectly crisp white building which I had already been excited about for the usual photo op.

But this familiar quote isn’t meant to empower our indifference or sense of entitlement. Anyone could easily feel so empowered, fueled by anger towards certain systems we’re bounded by just to start a revolution of some sort. People in large numbers especially tend to get swept away by the spirit of battle, they tend to forget what they’re fighting for in the first place. And how fights can go. There is a time and a place for fights, and more importantly action doesn’t always have to be synonymous to speed typing on comment sections of social media platforms and walking hand in hand with clenched fists on the road. 👊

Uncle Ben was on to something; with great power does come responsibility. Only we are responsible for what happens to ourselves and our world. No government or god or people we project god-like qualities to can save us. Only we can save ourselves. When heroes disappoint and they have precisely because more often than not, human beings aren’t meant to be put on pedestals, much less things we cannot see. We become our own heroes. We ought to stop waiting on each other.

Whether it’s politics, education, human rights, safer streets, world hunger, or saving the environment (heck we should all save the environment🌿🌳), just stand for something. Action may just mean putting one foot on the ground and turning the other way around. Clenched fists aren’t the only way to fight for something but with open palms and outstretched arms for more. Stand for something, online and in real life by your own means. 

Not caring is not cool. In a generation where we’ve all hurt each other and taught one another that not caring is ultimately the better and undoubtedly cooler way to go, we’re coming close to functioning like robots that operate on instinct and very little of heart. 🤖 Dig deep down and we all weep a little for the things that we have to admit are also bigger than us. I have days when I convince myself it’s better not to care, that way I won’t get hurt or be left disappointed. But these are times we ought to grow up to face the reality that we live in a breaking world that wasn’t always this way. It could be another way. Let’s grow up with child-like innocence and love once again as children of the earth.👶🌎💓 It’s okay to care, I think we all do.✌☮

XXII: Miserable & Magical

*Taylor was right it IS miserable & magical oh yeaaah… 

Birthdays are a strange thing. An ordinary day in the calendar is marked by people you haven’t heard from in ages that go out of their way to type one sentence to remind you, you’re a little special for just for a day or they just remember you a little more than usual. And greater loved ones hug you and attempt to spoil you without a cake because they know you don’t like (most) cake anyway. I like it when people know me well enough not to give me cake. It’s different this year though. It’s different every year.

As I turn a year older, the Universe gifts me with a sadness I can’t shake off. It’s with me even as I tie my growing short hair into a pony tail after making an effort to put on some blush and dress up to look my age. It’s with me as I stared into my notes about the first philosophers then stared at my ceiling.

The Universe has gifted me with a certain sadness. I don’t mean this with sarcasm or bitterness but it’s a bittersweet becoming. I am learning the most valuable lesson of finiteness and space more and more. Things can change so much within a (leap) year, and while some things stay the same, there are also some spaces, even if I’ve tried to fill up with others, that will never be the same. Some spaces will remain empty. I will however never say that such spaces are all just lessons to me now. I am still learning not to take those dear to me for granted. While some spaces are room for the many comings and goings, others have made room and this cannot change. What has been dear to me will stay like that to me. Just to me.

Maybe this is why man has since the beginning of time been so fascinated with learning about the outside world. Where everything looks like a sprinkle of dust, inconceivable and unreachable. It’s all larger than us and time, so far away. As similar systems of galaxies are also working within us, outer space must have been something we’ve all known one way or another. It’s quite familiar perhaps and certainly beautiful. I hope to know it all again within my time. I am filled with so much of space.

Say what you feel

*So this weekend Kanye West (and Wiz Khalifa) stepped foot in the South East and made a whole lot of noise. I’m no fan but I do go online every now and then and I can’t un-see the massive explosion of posts. I came across his speech. 

So if I get in trouble for saying the truth, what’s gonna be said the rest of the time? And I had to fight every day of my life when the whole world turned against me for saying out loud what everyone else felt. But that’s the job of an artist – of a true artist – not to be controlled by the finances, not to be controlled by perception, but only to be controlled by their truth – what you see, what you feel, and say what you f**king feel.

—Kanye West

I feel better knowing for a minute that there’s another solid set of individuals that still believe in the honesty of art and saying what you feel.

Coincidentally whilst in the push and pull of my own madness and hard heart searching, with my beliefs all in question, I’ve also been thinking and feeling dumb and reckless every darn time. Okay, fine not every time.

So I was told…

I wouldn’t say that. Reckless maybe? But that’s a bad word to use. You don’t get bogged down by consequences and that’s a good thing. It makes you genuine. When it comes down to it, you don’t live by the standards of another.

—my supportive friends awyeah sorry for being a pain these days

But in this whole truth-telling business (and there’s more to it than just telling your truth but living up to it, yeah he said it SAYING WHAT YOU FEEL), another part of that reality is that you would totally feel like Kanye vs. world & Taylor except you ain’t all that gold & glory. It’s a lonely place to be. You go into these things all alone, with everyone telling you no, looking at you like you’re stupid, and watching your every move, knowing you’d already fall over your two feet even before making any mistakes. Then people boooo, your inner angels start booing at you too.

It’s nice to know however that there are people who’d give this a cheer. More power to people who make an art out of being honest. I guess you can call it honest living.

Featured image: A children’s book translation of Bound 2Gether © Zak Tebbal which I think is just genius

One dimensional

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Audrey Hepburn isn’t always right

I come across this quote, “happy girls are the prettiest” almost every week and it really frustrates me. Do I even have to explain why? I’ll explain it anyway to the people who constantly share this. Well, the people who say this are undoubtedly happy and obviously, Audrey Hepburn is a beautiful woman. I’m biased because I’m not in the best place right now. I know this quote means well. This is supposed to encourage young women to strive towards happiness, to literally smile more, and see the good things in life. But there’s more to life than being happy even if it might actually be the daily goal for most of us. img_9192I’d like to go through life happily, ideally but I don’t think it’s the end all and be all of things. And happy girls are certainly not the prettiest girls. They’re pretty but they’re not the prettiest. I think a girl who has the capacity to be and feel all things is b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l. She’s full of life because life isn’t all pretty, happy things. I also think that the saddest girls have also been the happiest because they’ve experienced two ends of a spectrum. Let’s keep it real. Feminism probably wasn’t the thing during Audrey Hepburn’s era or was it and I’m not a feminist but why on earth is this even directed towards girls? I hate to sound like one but it’s 2016. Can we stop sharing quotes written in the 20th century by people who had it easy. It doesn’t apply today. This doesn’t help young women deal with their problems but rush into becoming better by avoiding the ugly things in life.

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but I do love this blue

A person isn’t meant to be pretty. A person is a work of art, beautiful in all its colors. I have 0 patience for people who have the emotional range of a teaspoon as Hermione said of Ron. I have never been drawn the least to people (guys especially if we’re talking about that kinda drawn) who have the emotional range of a teaspoon. It’s shallow. Imperfections and none-prettiness let you know you’ve found someone real and in all that realness, you unknowingly let ’em grow on you and begin to appreciate them for the good and bad. I’m happy to know I’ve come across real people in life and all their colors, even if not every color has been the best to look at.

Welcome to the Grand Budapest 2016

*I feel compelled to share some good news every now and then. This is the kind of photojournalism I hope to be a part of 😊


Sometimes it’s the things that make the least sense, the last of our ideas, that make up the ingenious. And that’s precisely how “an out-of-season Swedish retreat became a temporary home for 600 refugees this year.” The Atlantic’s Emily Anne Epstein and Pascal Vossen have captured life Inside a Ski Resort for Refugees.

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There’s something quite fascinating about the human activity captured through these lenses. The normalcy of it all amidst the tragic circumstances gives me a mix of despair and hope.

It’s fun, it’s boring, well, it’s life. And it’s good to see ordinary life settle in a place where nobody stays more than a week or two. Correction: for them it’s great to be alive. A place for vacation to most has now been converted into a refuge, a temporary home. ‘There’ll be snow on the ground tomorrow’ is as certain as it’s gonna get. Cups that used to serve overpriced hot chocolate with the optional mallows to top it off are now where they drink warm water from. Before moving into this winter wonderland of a refugee camp, finding potable water was probably a luxury for the survivors too. It puts everything into perspective: it’s actually a luxury to have a cup of anything nowadays whether you’re at the neighborhood Starbucks listening to an overplayed playlist or you’re just thankful to have a roof above your head for the night and cup beside your bed.

More hotels and resorts ought to do this around the world 💙🌎🌍🌏 there’s room for everyone. It’s an idea M. Gustave of the Grand Budapest might warm up to, nyahaha 😀

Building Bridges

*I submitted this for an essay competition last June and just thought of sharing it here. The theme was about how peace in our hearts can inspire peace around us, in line with the need for world peace. I should’ve included more about the world’s terror crisis but within the 30 minutes I crammed this, it slipped my mind. 


 

“Perspective. It’s all about perspective,” my elementary art teacher uttered as she held out a piece of chalk and drew a line across the blackboard towards a focal point. With more lines and some shading, a building came to life in front of me in the classroom. Little had I known that this art lesson would serve as the backbone and breath of a guiding mantra years later and for the rest of my life.

But I didn’t think about art when I dropped out of my dream university because I encountered obstacles my sheltered self wasn’t ready for. I didn’t think of buildings or architecture when I got my heart broken. No perspectives came to mind when I lived under the rock called, “rock bottom,” for a year or two. I looked in the mirror and saw failure and shame. I contemplated misses and bad decisions. I dreamt only nightmares, fears and faces of the people that hurt me. And I wondered about the places I would have rather gone instead.

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Looking back now in this retrospective, I think perhaps there was no better road than the one I had been on, for the paradoxical reason that I learned more about love and life when I experienced loss.

Each day passed like I was walking in a standstill, and every night was longer and lonelier—until it no longer was. I learned that the key difference between lonely and alone rested in the space you allowed yourself to dance in without an audience and sing even if your voice cracked a little when the music stopped.

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In the effort to grip and chase after transient parts of my world, I hadn’t known then I was already on the pursuit to search for the misplaced pieces of my identity. The pieces I labeled, “ugly” and “fat” upon seeing oversaturated depictions of beauty in movies and social media. The pieces on which I wrote, “not good enough” with permanent marker after experiencing heavy doses of rejection after an application or a relationship. Finally aware of my weaknesses, I accepted the beauty amidst my imperfections and I was determined to grow.

Experiencing losses made me mindful about the pain and struggle of others because pain in any sort and story is suffering nonetheless. I traded in my Starbucks gift certificates for cash to buy burgers to give to children by the streets of my school. And it was bittersweet knowing I’ve fed a few for the day, but the world’s hunger had not stopped there and neither did my hunger to see the world. I wanted to see all the sights beyond clicks on the Internet that would allow me to take in both joy and sorrow from city skyscrapers and mountaintops to polluted river communities and impoverished towns.

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When I was lost, I found myself stopping in chapels and sitting in Eastern philosophy classes. I recited the Serenity Prayer and practiced a personal meditation. I explored Christianity and Taoism, drew out a path in between their values, and have walked curiously and bright-eyed along it since.

Today I see loss as an essential part of life because only when we lose can we make enough space to leap into our guarded and high-walled selves just to find how we’ve always been enough. We have always been whole. All we ever needed is to be—ourselves and in every moment—honest, genuine and free. In this freedom dance and personal walk, every person comes to find peace that comes from within.

Peace is the delicate tie encompassing the mind and knotting it to the heart. One for rationalizing and one for feeling, altogether just significant parts of a whole that sums up our actions, decisions, and perspectives. And the eyes we use to look into the mirror and the rest of the world are our perspectives that tell the stories of how we relate with one another.

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© Mit Nagel und Faden

I see the world as a crisscross grid of each person’s journey. I can only pray we’re all on a journey striving for peace. That’s why I think we should build bridges towards one another, especially to the parts unknown.

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