December 4, 2012
On December 1st, Multiply.com discontinued its social networking functions and now remains as an e-commerce hub solely for buyers and sellers. I am one who loves the old-fashioned idea of meeting people outside the realm of the internet that if I were to choose between a world with social networking sites and a world without them, I would still choose the latter. However, we cannot seem to run away from technology and the way it continues to change our lives and, along with that, the way we are introduced to new friends and acquaintances. While my regret at having to say goodbye to the memories shaped and stored in that site is not as intense as that of more loyal Multiply users, I cannot help but feel rather tristful at having to leave one of the online nooks where I have met some of the most marvelous people in my life.
Coinciding with Multiply’s cessation as a social networking site on December 1 was the grand opening of La Belle Aurore Bookshop’s new branch in Junquera, Cebu City. The owner graciously invited me to play the piano as the finale number of the program that consisted of readings from amazing literary people and two beautiful singers with ethereal voices. I, of course, did not think twice about the invitation. Aside from being an ardent fan of the original La Belle Aurore Bookshop at Hernan Cortes St. in Mandaue City and the owner being a dear friend, I have always dreamed about performing in a room full of books. It was the perfect opportunity to fulfill such a fantasy. Furthermore, what I found exceptionally significant about the readers, the performers, and the audience, was that most of us befriended each other many years ago through Multiply and some of us have been connected there for several years already but only met face to face for the first time at the bookshop opening. These were people with beautiful souls and minds brought together by the love of books.
La Belle Aurore Bookshop embodies what every steadfast booklover yearns for: The musty scent of book pages that seem to us like choicest perfume, the cozy feel of nooks that big and commercialized bookstores cannot replicate, lamps of old-world impressions that transport customers to a gentler atmosphere, and an owner who is just as passionate about books and who caters the longings of the diminishing race of booklovers in this digital age. Book-zealots will be familiar with the famous and historical bookshop in Paris called Shakespeare & Company of which journalist Jeremy Mercer, in the memoir of his sojourn there, wrote, “Hard time goes slowly and painfully and leaves a man bitter… Time at Shakespeare & Company was as soft as anything I’d ever felt.” Everyone who attended the opening or anyone who has been able to visit any of the two La Belle Aurore branches will agree that time is definitely soft there.
Let social networking sites become bygones one by one; just do not let me see the day when books, newspapers, and the printed word become obsolete. La Belle Aurore succeeds in doing what I also continue to advocate in my own little way, and that is to remind people, especially the younger generation, that there exists a beautiful and incomparable world in reading.
“…and the great advantage of being a literary woman, was that you could go everywhere and do everything.” – Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady
November 17, 2012
Most people would normally find it odd or eerie to get up early and attend a wake on one’s own birthday, but that is what I did. Yesterday, my family and I set off for Manukan to attend the wake of an old friend who recently passed away. It was the least I could do in paying my last respects to 85-year-old Mr. Gil Raval, a well-known choirmaster and English teacher in our province who used to lend us books and musical advice, and who used to say that I look like a poem. (I was never able to ask him which poem he was referring to, but let us hope he had a pleasant or kick-ass one in mind.) The reminder of death on my birthday allowed me to ponder on life.
If there is one word to describe my life, that word would be “unconventional”, and that is also how my 28th birthday commenced. In fact, that is also how my entire life began. Even as a fetus, the doctor declared that I only had a fifty percent chance of surviving. By God’s grace, a miracle happened, hence the also unconventional first name.
They say life begins at forty. I don’t think I can just sit and wait for another twelve years for life to unfold. For someone whose existence was threatened even before birth and being blessed to make it this far, I owe it to Life to begin living every single day. Twenty eight years may not give me the right to write about life, but if I am asked to say something about all those years with absolute certainty, I would say that it was, and still is, never boring. I consistently and constantly find that there is always something to look forward to and that there is eternally something to live for. How? Acquaintances have asked, for I have also discovered that this is not always the case with everyone.
I believe that first and foremost, one must find God. Along the way, one should find love – one is bound to find love. (By “love”, I certainly am not referring to a partner or a mate. “There is infinite difference between falling in love and standing in love” after all, stated a line that I agree with, in a book by Irvin Yalom.) Moreover, as a woman, I have learned that finding oneself is more important than finding a partner. This is something many women my age tend to lose sight of. By knowing oneself, one can easily advance to what one is passionate about, and by knowing oneself, one can love better. I maintain the idea that to love is also to enrich, and being able to enrich means that one has grown enough and one has discovered oneself enough.
I hold on to the persuasion that these are the things that are essential to a life brimming with life, because one may pursue a thousand other things in a lifetime, but all the aforementioned are what one must come home to – those kinds of things that, while engaged in them, make you feel as if you shouldn’t be someplace else doing something else; the things you may call “home” wherever life takes you physically, emotionally, or spiritually. As soon as you find these things, there will be no room for ennui and insecurity, only contentment, gratefulness, and the continual endeavor to become better.
“Life defined only as the opposite of death is not life.” – Mahmoud Darwish
Filed under Kape-Writed Articles from The Mindanao Observer
June 3, 2012
The first days of June signify the end of summer for most of us in our part of the world, schedulewise and climatewise. Even the effulgent Dipolog sunsets are now veiled behind heavy clouds, and the sea is no longer a mirror but a rough canvas for whitecaps.
However, on the first day of this month, a baby bird bathed in sunlight perched on one of the branches of our bonsai trees and stayed there for about an hour before it took flight. I called the little finch a harbinger of hope. Its sight and presence uplifted my spirits in such a remarkable way that I, too, felt like soaring off to the sky. “You are just like me,” it seemed to say. “Once again you have grown. You are this brave, this strong… and yet so fragile… FLY!”
And I shall. Wait and see.
For now, sing with me.
Hey June, don’t make it bad. Take a sad song, and make it better… 😉