Monday, February 29, 2016

5 Things I learned in Writing

Writing is hardwork and it does not make one an expert overtime. It needs focus and determination and practice, a lot of practice. And for everyone to succeed as a writer, that glowing desire and passion to write must be kept alive everyday.

It's not easy to extract thoughts out of the mind and convert it to words and paragraphs and without passion and determination to write, finishing a book or even an article could be a little harder.

I discovered my passion in writing long before I entered high school. Although my favorite subject in my elementary years was "araling panlipunan" (social studies and everything about geography), I find storytelling a delightful diversion. Books went on to become my favorite friends back in my younger days.

My love affair with writing emanates from my passion in reading books, literature and storytelling, until I got the hang of it. Then I started writing my first diary in grade six. I also tried rewriting the drama I heard over the radio into the kind of plot I wanted for the story.

In my high school years, I started writing manuscripts for school plays but it was not until I finished college that I tried writing fiction stories. It did not develop into finished books though because of my regular job, schedule was not comfortable. It was even difficult when I took up my masteral. Nonetheless, I kept the manuscripts.

I felt my writing ability still not fully develop and needed some improvement along the way, so I honed my skills through reading books related to writing and editing. I also did blogging to practice the craft and ventured into content writing online.

Finally, last year, I felt it was time to pour my energy into my manuscripts. I started writing my full-length novel, seven months later, my precious suspense book was born and ready to conquer the world of publishing. 

I felt a sigh of relief and while waiting for positive responses from the literary agents I queried, I am looking back how far I've gone in my writing journey and what are the things I learned from it. Rechecking some of those, I realized the following are the most important.

1. Write even when you're not in the mood

Sometimes my appetite in writing sinks and I don't feel like doing it. But writing is a commitment and entails a lot of self-discipline so even if I couldn't find my rhythm to write or seems not in the mood to put ideas into words I would force myself to extract my thoughts. I can find ways how to trick myself to keep things going. I'll get up and go out, fill my lungs with fresh air, do body stretching and dance exercise, drink green tea, eat pancakes. Then I would feel better and ideas started flowing out of my mind,

2. Fall in love with your story

In novel writing, crafting scenes can be very difficult. Sometimes I would find myself being stuck in one scene without any idea what to do next or where to bring my characters. But I found one trick how to keep things moving --- falling in love with the story. As I motivate myself where to go next and what scenes to write, my deep attachment toward the plot develops which fueled my energy to keep writing until  ideas of the succeeding chapters start to flow. 

3. Eradicate self-defeating thoughts

It is essential to criticize yourself because it's one way of improving. Constructive criticism I guess is necessary to give rooms for development. But destructive criticism is not healthy. Sometimes I would doubt myself (I'm not as good as Stephenie Meyer. My book sucks. No one's gonna accept this for publication), but I soon realized those self-defeating thoughts would never bring me anywhere so I tried eradicating those doubts and got up and told myself everyone started from the bottom and I am no exemption. 

4. Focus. Focus

While writing my book, I learned that distractions can be anywhere, both mental and emotional distractions. I was so anxious that the idea of failure was rampaging in my brain like a deadly hurricane. But I bounced back and told myself "At least I tried". So I diverted my attention learning my craft, improving it and continue polishing my book. And focus on my strengths and ability that I can make it.

5. Writing is a total commitment

Everyday, I would find time to write, not because someone is asking or expecting it but because I always feel that writing is a commitment and continue to be nurtured. A dedicated writer should write everyday to improve the skill more. So, whether it's a blogpost, an open letter to myself (for the things that went wrong) an article contribution or a plot scene, I always set aside few minutes of my day (sometimes at night time before I go to sleep) to write a short article or even two paragraphs describing my day, my feeling, my idea of a certain event or even a short review of a restaurant. Maybe because I love talking or sharing stuff. That's why I considered blogging as an extension of myself. Writing gives my soul a time to rest, so blogging is like a sanctuary, a hangout place where I could talk and be myself. I find peace and contentment in writing.



Sunday, February 28, 2016

Abstaining from the Social Media

How can we resist the lure of social media? It is already part of our daily routines and it feels like something in life is missing, as if we are a civilization behind, if we can’t open Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in one day.

And as the world continues to rotate in the orbit of modern technology, the social networking sites become a natural pattern. In fact, it is being utilized by others to connect with friends and love ones that if they can’t search you in Facebook, they will think you’re dead.

I find it very diverting too. Checking what’s going on in Facebook, Twitter and Instagram satisfies me. I saw an extension of myself. I can talk. I can share my knowledge through posting comments. I can follow my favorite celebrities and sports personalities. I can read freshest news.

Recently, I became addicted to Twitter (It’s more peaceful there than the chaotic world of Facebook) because I love it when I post a status update and no one is prying. None in my circle of friends seem active in Twitter.

It is also home to real people. I mean, yeah, world figures and popular stars utilized it to express their thoughts. In Twitter and Instagram, I can follow my favorite celebrities and athletes and read their daily updates. I also discovered the delight of adding arts to tweets, so I downloaded cool emojis to give life to my posts.

But moment by moment, I felt there’s something wrong with the way people treated the social media, specifically Facebook. Too much bragging, too much bashing, too much hates, too much annoyances, so much so that I felt my head is ready to explode with overwhelming information and nuisances.

Then my home page has been flooded lately with irksome news and status updates that thoroughly disillusioned me as it became the source of my displeasure. Often, I would end up my day in distraction instead of peace. As if my head is in so much chaos. Too much engagement in social media seems providing me with so many things to worry than the satisfaction I craved.

So I decided to go back to the basic, as if today is 1990s all over again, a decade where there was nothing to fuss online, where my creativity was at its peak, where school breaks and holidays were spent in reading, writing manuscripts and playing outdoor with friends, where lunch breaks were spent in conversation with office mates than browsing smartphones and tablets.

I need a break. My brain needs a space to think. My mind needs to be reset. My soul needs a moment of silence, to figure out what’s going on with my life. BREAK from everything. I want to recapture my lost dream, build it again and reconnect the dot of those shattered pieces.

ABSTAIN from social media. This is what I have decided after days of enduring down moments due to the news I read and the nuisances in Facebook and Twitter.

Curbing a social networking sites addiction is very timely because it is lent season, a period of sacrifices, simplicity and shunning off luxury and comfort. So I’ll give up utilizing the social media and resolved not to visit my accounts until Easter Sunday. Could this be possible? I guess. Let me see it.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Adding Spice to the Spike!

It’s another season of intense collegiate volleyball actions in the country as the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) has just kicked off its all new exciting season 78 volleyball tournament. 

The opening ceremony happened last January 31, 2016 with a highly charged opening action at the Filoil Flying V arena in San Juan, Metro Manila.The highlight of the starting day was a match between two powerhouse teams in the women's division, the Ateneo de Manila University and the National University.

This season will also mark the journey of the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles to a path of a rare circumstance in sports - clenching a historic 3-peat victory. The Katipunan-based squad won back to back championships for seasons 76 and 77 and determined to grab the title for the third time.

The Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles 
with their coach, Tai Bundit. Photo credit: Leo Lopez of volleyball ph

Not just sexy and pretty girls but smart hitters too.
Maddie, Alyssa, Bea and Jho celebrating their win against NU. 
 Photo credit: Rappler

Watching the girls opened their title defense bid last Sunday, I could see how they maintained composure as a team amidst a slow run, manifesting their desire to snatch a third straight championship. The mark of a champion was evident, and after trailing behind the NU Lady Bulldogs in the first and second sets, they successfully bounced back and went on to sweep the game in 3 straight sets. 

I saw the massive improvements of two middle blockers, Bea De Leon and Maddie Madayag. Although Bea already proved her craft during the collegiate conference of the Shakey's V-League last year where she took home the second best middle blocker accolade, her swings and attacks recently developed perfectly. She can now unleash a powerful hard kill! Oh this cutie doll is simply stunning! 

Maddie is another charming hitter. She was a revelation during the opening day, she surprised everyone with her refurbished hard-hitting attacks and blocking prowess, so much so that she instantly earned a moniker, Mad-hitter. 

Alyssa Valdez, arguably the most famous female volleyball player in the country today, is always the phenomenal spiker in the Philippines, no doubt about it, she is alone in her pedestal at least for this time, and wherever spot in the court she whirls, she will surely release an atomic bomb spike. Amy Ahomiro, Jho Maraguinot and Jia Morado with Bea and Maddie, complete a picture-perfect wheel of the finest first six starters in the league. 

Unlike other teams where only 3 or 4 players out of their first six starters can pull a strong performance in every set, the first starting lineup of the Ateneo squad (Alyssa, Jho, Amy, Bea, Maddie and Jia) can deliver an awesome action right away in the first set, in fact all of them contribute in the scoring board each game. 

And well, everyone is aware that the lineup of the Ateneo women’s volleyball team is always filled with smart and pretty girls, which often left me wondering if good looks is an integral part of the recruitment process. Why Ateneo women's volleyball team is often composed of posh and beautiful girls? Someone should explain this. Haha!

The middle blockers alone, Bea De Leon and Maddie Madayag, looked like cutie Korean dolls with their lovely faces, chinky eyes and flawless skin. How could you ignore such adorable cuties making a leap over the net? The cameras love them as well, they're so charming! 

UAAP's charming mannequins.
Bea De Leon (#14) and Maddie Madayag (#17)
Massive improvements in blocking and attacks but these girls are also known with their pretty faces and bubbly personalities. Photo credit to the owner.

The Ateneo Lady Eagles are not only known with their smart playing tactics but also with their unique charm and cuteness, but what caught my attention during the opening day as they entered the court was the sexy shorts! Oh God why the design so skimpy? I thought it was only a warm-up piece.

The Lady Eagles donned a new uniform in an explosive sexy fashion. Although the top jersey almost remained the same, the shorts (or was it a cycling short?) looked hot and seductive! The girls can unleash a deadly attack, yes, but oh boy the new sexy short really rocks! It enhances their allures, they appeared even prettier and hotter inside the volleyball court. ADDING SPICE TO THE SPIKE!! 


Last Sunday, February 7, they engaged in a challenging match against the UST Golden Tigresses, they struggled in third set, but the Lady Eagles pulled up their combined skills, displaying their smartness and strong character as a team during the fourth set. They went on to win the game, posting a 20-0 run since season 76, making them a formidable team in the league! Again, the sexy shorts added some sultry attraction. :-D

What made the whole thing really attractive is that the Ateneo Lady Eagles are composed of lean, tall and magnetic girls, with creamy complexion and fantastic body tone, so whatever fabric they will don in court, expect an enthralling appearance. This new uniform is just another spicy component of their stylish and classy look in the volleyball court.

Fly high Lady Eagles! Photo credit to the owner

On February 10, 2016, Wednesday, the squad will face another strong team in the league, the FEU. But I am confident they could pull a string for a classic performance again. Their appearance last February 7 against UST was not as near as feisty as they clambered way down their usual winning moves. But the squad has always been known with their highly intensified teamwork, and after making several adjustments, the Lady Eagles soared high, shutting off the door on UST to claim the fourth set and their second straight win for this season. 

This Wednesday, the ladies will once again show their winning form and I am wishing them all the best for this match. However, I am wondering if they will still wear the same uniform or will have another alternate design? I noticed, they wore the same jersey in two successive outings :-D and oh, the chic plum footwear of the girls also pulls attention.

More exciting volleyball actions from these gorgeous ladies as the tournament continues! I am hoping they can sweep the elimination round again. It might not be as easy as sprinting over the net as all teams have been stepping up, eager to knock them off from the top position but I know they can wind off the obstacles. Considering their strong character as a team, their resilience and ability to bounce back from a slow run and their burning desire to achieve a 3-peat victory, this clean sweep hope is not far behind. 

Shine Lady Eagles, fly high!


I have just finished writing a book, my debut novel, and already pitched literary agents in the US to represent this project to book publishers. I am dedicating this book to the Ateneo Lady Eagles. Although the story is far from being sporty as it follows a suspense genre, some of the names of the characters honored the Lady Eagles. 

The heroine's name, Isabel Beatriz, is attributed to Bea De Leon, while the name of Alyssa takes one of the interesting characters that will shape the thrill in the story. And Maddie's name also appears. Can't wait for this book to be published traditionally!