Things I think about when I’m Tube-ing

January 16th, 17:30. Central Line.

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The Tube is a sacred place. In the morning rush hour, it is a place of sorrow from the day workers, mentally preparing themselves for another day at work. By evening peak times, it is a place of refuge from the same overworked beings, itching to go home, put their feet up and have a cup of tea. So if one breaks the silent code, it’s noticeable.

There a lot of silent codes on the Tube, food, smelly ones especially, are loathed and glared at. Like the man with his curry and rice takeaway at the end of the carriage.  But, if one only judges the act at the smell and grunts for their lack of manners – then we’re being irrational idiots. I almost did at the time, mind you, but this man is excused.

I created a profile of him from where I’m sitting. I am confident that I am at least half right.

He’s an immigrant, my bias is obvious on this. Overworked, maybe frugal or underpaid. He can afford a bit of groceries, huddled by his feet on the floor, but, he had no time for food. For the entire 8-10 hours of work, he had no time for food – he practically had to eat it on the carriage before he faints.

That’s where my heart sank. We’ve all had those odd, busy days at work, where we prioritise our workload over our breaks and end up going home drained. I could be exagerrating it, but no one eats hungrily on a full meal like that on the Tube, unless it was a random raver in the middle of the night. This was someone who was in the middle of evening rush hour, unaware of the glares being casted against him, simply because he was desperately hungry.

He got off at Bethnal Green, replenished with his finished food and groceries.

I continued the journey, minding my own business.

“Things I think about when I’m ‘Tube-ing'” is a copycat chronicle inspired by Haruki Murakami’s “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running”. The posts details the odd, nonsense, sad, maybe inspiring tales from my daily commute on the Tube. 

Ye Old Fart

You see them, gathered in groups of twos or threes, wearing their usual garb of a gentleman’s hat, tweed jacket, brown trousers and Oxford shoes. An additional plaid scarf when it gets really nippy.

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Most of the time, you spot them on the pub, hovered together and talking about ye old times. The generation today have it easy, they say. By now, most of them are widowers, only relying with each other for support and ramblings, not wishing to bother their sons and daughter, nor their grandchildren. So, they sit there, asking what else life can offer them now that they are off work, probably suffering from a chronic ailment and receiving their pensions weekly to no fail.

Today, I saw two of them, whispering as they wait for one’s appointment, growing a teeny bit impatient. At the doctor’s again, he complains and goes on and on that no treatment will do, just a peaceful death.

A commoner would call them an old fart. Someone who has already live out their purpose, dull and boring. I object. They are not.

As an observer, I like hearing their petty ramblings, little musings here and there. To some, they may have already served their life sentence, but to the younger generation, there’s more stories to tell, more to learn and wonder about.

These old farts are not just dull and useless entities in our society. They are not a burden, but a treasure. Listen to their little ramblings and maybe you’ll pick up a history lesson or two. Who knows what  their next advice might be worth to you?

The “Rappler” Experience

It all happened so quickly. One minute, I was replying to a tweet about an online project, the next thing was an invitation to contribute.

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To start off, Rappler is a social news network, kind of like a digital newspaper slash news channel. Ever since, I have always dubbed as the Huffington Post of the Philippines, after I was drawn to the site after being endorsed by Maria Ressa and other personalities online. The content on the site was information, direct to the point, factual and unbiased, not to mention very accessible whether at home, work or on your mobile. They report on the material that were rarely frowned up and covered up by major newspapers and channels.

As the frequency of my visits increase,d I also discovered editorials and features from many writers and contributors, engaging stories from different personalities, coming from all walks of life.

That’s where I found out about #BALIKBAYAN. I was hooked and inspired after reading all of its contents. That was when I replied.

To be honest, I sincerely thought I wouldn’t receive any response, the coward in me believed that it was just a hype, a polite reply, but it wasn’t. The team, in behalf of Ryan, did not only reply, but also read my blog and suggested an article out of one of my existing petty posts. This was the part where I cringed.

It took me awhile to expand that blog post into a proper article. My points were scattered and I was out of practice, inexperienced. My writing had always been a sore point for me. I always dreamed about pursuing it, but somehow also lose the confidence in it. It also didn’t help that when I read through the articles made by previous contributors, for I ended up looking up to them and make me second guess myself. “Why me?,” I asked.

It was a couple of days of ranting that I won’t be able to make it, but after one night shift, I finished the piece, prayed to the gods and sent it. It was nerve-wracking and I waited. Then I got a reply that the article was going to published, with minor edits and I was asked for a short biography and some photos to use.

A few days later, the piece got published. Numerous retweets, replies and shared popped in my timeline. I got virtual hugs and pats. The thought alone was overwhelming, I finally got something out. My story was featured in a reputable platform that any aspiring freelancer can wish for. Rappler, no less.

As the comments poured in, I held pride on that simple piece. Then realised why I was never really confident of my own writing. For one, I was never brave. I always moan about why I didn’t take that route of being a journalist or a writer, my poor grammar and writing style, but now I know that they were just masks of my own inability to put my thoughts down in words. No more restrictions, no filters.

Second, I was afraid of being vulnerable, I cowered at the thought of reading through other people’s comment on my work. Publishing that article meant that I shared part, if not most of me, online. I knew that if there were criticisms, I would be able to handle them, but I prefer not see them anyway.

Last but not the least, I learned that with more practice, I will be able to ignite the passion in me again. I should allow myself to learn, read more and write bravely, with more experience, I will be able to find a style that works.

“Thoughts of an Immigrant’s Daughter” is a tale of my 1.5 generation immigrant self. The article came from an excerpt hidden in one of my old, tattered journals. It tackled the issue on immigration, a topic I am familiar and passionate about, because it is a reality that I identify myself with.

I still reread the article from time to time, still get surprised and humbled with the kind words from strangers sharing the same tale as mine and still proud of that simple piece. I may appear and disappear in my inconsistent blogposts, but the first feature won’t be my last.

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Does life magically change the moment you turn a leaf? I am starting to believe its existence. A few weeks ago, my mind focused on highlighting the major setbacks of being a twenty-something year olds. I was convinced that there was no end to the trap I was in as everything arrived in one major blow.  The “quarter-life crisis,” cliche as it sounds.

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Things subtly change, however, as feel that I’m slowly climbing out of that trap and try to deal with my own demons. A few weeks back, I would’ve enumerated all those frustrations and probably moaned about my age. Now, I just let everything run its course with a positive mindset and welcome the new year, a new leaf.  I may or still will be moaning about the new number in my life, list the things I have achieved or what I don’t have, but turning a new leaf suddenly makes me hopeful.

A better year, I hope? 

The Unluckiest Fangirl

What makes a true fan? Is it the fan who religiously follows through their activities, know their every likes, quirks and dislikes? Is it the fan that hoards through all their merchandise and supports them by purchasing tickets to their concert or any paid event? Is it the fan who knows all the lyrics on their songs, analyses its meaning and memorises all the songs releases?

I don’t have the true definition of a fan, even if I don’t fit any category as mentioned above. I know I am though, that’s what I consider myself.

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So imagine my lazy self to find a good excuse to “stalk” G-Dragon on his recent visit to London. My first excuse was the fact that I had work and can’t skip it. Fine, but eventually knowing that he was a stop away from my workplace, a place I can get to in minutes during my break, breaks my heart.

I have no luck in stalking. Hence, the assumed label myself as the unluckiest fangirl alive.

Last year, when Big Bang was here for their two-day concert, I managed to try and track down G-Dragon’s whereabouts in London. I randomly dropped by Liverpool Street, Shoreditch and Hackney, up to no luck. When me and my friends decided to hit the shops in Carnaby Street, Bond Street and Selfridges, we thought we won’t ever have the chance to see him. Lo and behold, an hour later, the same artist posts a picture while on the same route. We just didn’t manage to see him.

I didn’t realise that bumming experience wasn’t the last.

When me and April (my sister)  were in Thailand recently, we got the chance to be in the same airport as he was, with the flights on a closer interval. We were going back to the Philippines before leaving for London, while he flew back to South Korea. The dream! It was always part of my imagination to unintentionally bump into our favourite artist at an airport, that’s like a one in a million chance! We saw everyone, the manager, the popular fitness trainer, the entire dance crew with their customised capes, but none of the two artists. Minutes after their flight left did we realise that they took the VIP route. I went home, bummed, but was soon overwhelmed by fatigue so it didn’t matter.

Last but not the last, the recent unlucky encounter. G-Dragon was filming in London. London’s a big place, fine, but he was specifically in East London. The part of London where my home was and where my workplace was.Coincidentally, I have realised after this whole bonanza that the place that he was filming at, was just a stop away from mine. Why the hell did I not pop in while on my break? I have no idea.

Right after work, we were in Shoreditch High Street, one Friday night, looking for a place to eat then hang out, hoping to somehow catch a glimpse or randomly bump into them (again.) This time it was intentional. However, when hope dissipated, we decided to go in to the coffee shop/bar that has been on our list, to try out some drinks and specialised crepes. Again, after our stalking Instagram moment, did we realise that we were on the same spot that he was, the day before. The club that he was in? An inch away from us.

Every other person who stalked him and considered themselves a true fan managed to see him, but why not me? I am a fan too and I will sound bitter when I say, why them and not me? Although, bitter is the last thing I’ll describe myself as.

Everyone kept saying to just stay positive, that I’ll get my time, but to be honest, after these unlucky instances, I have abandoned hope. For the last time, I think I’ll just be that type of fan who enjoys their music, buys them, attends their concert and be that supporter who loves them from afar.

Bittersweet? I know.

For all it’s worth, despite our unplanned Friday get together, my sister and a friend had the time of our lives. Shoreditch, we know how to find you.

Naneun Brown #proudmorena

To be brown is a beautiful, my rationalising self always used that excuse, in a bid to chase away the indirect bullying in my younger years.

In the Philippines, like any other country, there is a social strata on being dark-skinned. I would like to think that such culture exists because of our history, where the Spanish were fair and rich, while the native Filipinos were poor, middle-classed and dark, which is mainly attributed by their level of work and social status. When in the country, one can also take note the strong and rampant existence of various whitening products and aesthetic clinics offering whitening treatments. I have no objection to such lifestyle, it’s their skin and mine, but I have an objection with the constant ridicule and jokes over being darker.

When being fair mostly gets the upper-hand in every social function, especially when observed at a young age, one can only feel indifferent and slightly insecure.

Trust me, it took me awhile to finally embrace the skin I am in. So one can only imagine my eyebrows raising when netizens continue to shamelessly point out their problem on dark-skinned Filipinas. Even more shameless for voicing out their opinion one celebrity’s Instagram account, unknowing that the said celebrity will reply.

I am with Bianca Gonzales on this one. No one should think it is a problem to be dark and one should not be ashamed of it. I don’t think it’s a problem either, more or less, it’s anyone’s golden asset.

I am brown. I had problem adjusting to it with my fair-skinned environment before, but I have no problem with it now. By all means, I am more proud than ever.

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