Tag: journal writing

A Silent Outrage

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It’s been sickening to read or watch the local news recently. There are so many news of extrajudicial killings, and that’s always been concerning to me. Every time I see somebody killed execution style with a placard labeled “Huwag tularan, Rapist/Adik/Pusher/Snatcher”, I always ask myself “Says who?” Who gets to decide who has forfeited their right to live? Who deserves to be killed in such a violent way? Now I see this kind of death every day. Fat chance that these cases will be investigated (I’m still waiting for that kind of change). I understand the outrage of people about druggies and criminals, but killing them off without due process is a dangerous shortcut to take. The collateral damage in this kind of war will mostly be the voiceless people who live below the poverty line. They aren’t pests that need to be exterminated because they offend your middle class sensibilities. These are people who have the same rights as everybody else does.

Reading comments in social media about this topic is equally nauseating. It looks like many people are in a blood frenzy, they have forgotten to act like civilized human beings. It’s heartbreaking for me to see friends and family members participate in such discussions like they’re just talking about killing rats. Anybody who disagrees with anything about this all-out war is a sentimentalist, anti-Duterte (and therefore pro-LP or pro-Aquino, which is a false dichotomy), tanga, bobo, mangmang and deserves all kinds of insults. There is no talking with most people nowadays.

There’s no real welfare system to help the street children survive instead of buying rugby to stave off the hunger. No real juvenile justice system to keep young offenders out of trouble. The pervading system in the country is decidedly anti-poor.

I am not blaming the President for all of these extrajudicial killings, and I laud him for the many things that he has achieved on the first 15 days of his presidency (one can appreciate the good and be critical of the not-so-good-yet, it’s not impossible to do that). However, the government should act like the government and uphold the rule of law. All shootings that happen where policemen are involved (agaw-baril, shootouts, etc) should be investigated properly, regardless of who we perceive the victims to be. You know, like any democratic society where rule of law prevails. Policemen who are involved in legit police operations against drugs should be mindful of collateral damage and accountable for them no matter where the encounter happens.

There’s no doubt that this war on drugs will be long and bloody. That doesn’t mean I have to be okay with it. Times like this, it’s okay to not be okay.

More Like Riding a Bike

After a few days of writing words, then phrases, then paragraphs, and whole passages, I’m beginning to remember what I forgot.

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Turns out it’s a lot like riding a bike. It’s still a slow process, but like a young child just learning to read, I am able to recognize the letters and words again. I can write the letters on my own now, without consulting my guide. It’s slow but it’s fascinating how the letters and words are slowly becoming less and less alien and more and more… mine. The photo above is of a Filipino folk song, Bayan Ko. There’s nothing quite like writing it in Baybayin. The message of the song fits so well.

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The photo above is of Psalm 8 (Awit 8), one of my favorite Psalms. Translated to Filipino and then written in Baybayin. Exquisite. Filipino is still my emotional language, after all. 🙂

(Side note: It’s just wonderful to use these stub nibs for Baybayin. The line variation lends more drama to the strokes, though also making it nearly impossible to write small.)

Writing with Baybayin

On my second semester as a sophomore in college, I had this elderly lady from the Filipino Department of the University of the Philippines, Diliman as a professor for one creative writing subject. On the first day of class, her first question was “Sino dito ang nakakaalam kung paano sumulat at bumasa sa Baybayin?” (Who among you know how to write and read in Baybayin). Nobody raised their hands. She looked just a bit appalled that the iskos and iskas in her classroom, most of whom were taking courses under the Filipino Department, do not know how to read and write Baybayin. I vaguely remember learning about it in highschool, but not learning to use it. Teachers mentioned it in passing but failed to communicate the significance of this.

My professor proceeded to write characters on the blackboard. “Puwes, bago matapos ang klase na ito, matututo kayong bumasa ng Baybayin” she said (Well then, you will all learn how to read Baybayin by the end of this class). And learn it, we did.

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I chewed on this for a while after we learned the rudimentary of reading and writing with our alphabet. We had our own writing system, before centuries of colonial rule made us lose it, lose this part of our identity as a people. Somehow in the long, convoluted corridors of Philippine history, we lost sight of it. Not many are interested to relearn it. After all, what use would we have of it now? I dug into it, though. I learned the characters until I recognize them as quickly as the modern English alphabet. I can read and write Baybayin like how I would read and write anything else. I kept journals entirely in Baybayin, chuckling to myself with the thought that even if I left the notebook open anywhere, not a lot of people will be able to read it.

Then I got busy with other things in life and I stopped using it in my journals. One day I just realized that I had, once again, lost it. I could not recognize the characters quickly anymore. I could not read them in a natural, flowing way like I used to. My own journal entries became inscrutable to me, the thoughts I kept in my journals nearly lost.

Of course, even if I lost the retention of recognizing the characters, the rudimentary principles of reading and writing were still fresh in my mind. What my professor had taken upon herself to teach us, even if it did not seem to be connected to our subject at that time, that stayed with me until now. I still write words and phrases in my journal, but the ability to express myself and write quickly and in a natural pace is (for the moment) lost to me.

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I still think our Baybayin is beautiful, though. I like the characters and the simplicity of reading and writing with them.

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I don’t know if we will ever revive interest in our alphabet system now or in the future, but I certainly hope so. It’s part of our identity as a people.

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I promised myself that I will relearn how to be more “fluent” with Baybayin, like I used to be. Perhaps I shall write my journals with Baybayin again in the future. 🙂

Coffee Infographic in My Journal –because, why not?

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I was up late last Friday for work, and I could not wind down to sleep, so I thought I’d pick up my pens and draw something that I would enjoy making. The details are really small, I used a small watercolor brush for them. I didn’t have a fine pen inked (I don’t think I have a pen with a fine nib, actually) so I had to use the closest to it, which was a Pilot Custom Heritage 92 with a medium nib. A wet, Japanese medium.

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Here’s a better look at the whole thing. By the time I finished it, I was ready to sleep. 🙂 As always, writing, drawing, and making little watercolor paintings on Tomoe River paper is such a pleasure. The finished work always feels great to the touch. I liked the play of Iroshizuku Shin Ryoku’s green with the different shades of brown.The TWSBI Micarta is inked with Diamine Ochre, which I think is the perfect ink to pair with a coffee-colored theme. It’s dark brown with notes of red and crazy beautiful shading.

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The think I really love best about using fountain pens whether in drawings or regular writing is that the letters look as if they’re part of the painting. Paired with great paper, it makes the letters look like they were painted on because of the shading and line variations. You can’t get that much drama in lines with ballpoint pens or rollerballs. There’s a lot of character in lines that are made by fountain pens. The overall effect is just so beautiful.

Below are a few close ups of the descriptions of each kind of espresso-based coffee. Overall, a very relaxing journal entry to write. 🙂

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Tomoe River is da bomb. If you need inserts for your traveler’s notebooks, check out Everything Calligraphy.

Writing About a Traumatic Experience

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Writing has always been therapeutic for me. There’s no question that writing can be very helpful to your well-being, but it can be a great help specifically in processing traumatic experiences. Many times it can help you untangle very confused thoughts that are enmeshed with emotions. It can help you gain perspective. Sometimes it helps you uncover more memories that you didn’t even know you have, and somehow it’s a lot like clearing out a blockage so that you can move forward.

Based on experience, I would recommend a few things before you delve in.

Don’t force it. Sometimes you’re just not quite ready to confront your emotions yet. It’s okay. Don’t traumatize yourself in the process of understanding your trauma. Sometimes after a traumatic experience, it’s all you can do to face the challenges of living day to day. Give yourself a break if you can’t do anything beyond that yet.

Write as little as you want at first. Some people think that writing about your trauma is like opening the floodgates. Many times, you don’t end up holed up in a cabin, feverishly writing the days away. More often than not it starts out with just a few lines a day. Testing out the waters, seeing how you feel about it. This is especially true if you don’t really write too much anyway. Even if you love to write, don’t be disappointed with yourself if all you can manage to write are two sentences.

Learn to stop when you need to stop. When you become emotionally overwhelmed, stop and put down the pen. You can push past some walls today, but part of taking care of yourself is knowing that there are walls to be conquered another time.

Be honest. Don’t worry about your grammar, or your prose. Nobody’s going to edit your journal. Just be honest when you write. The first time I wrote about my trauma, the words felt strange coming out of me and onto the blank paper. But then you should be able to write candidly for yourself, right? You should be honest with yourself through your own writing. What have you got to lose, anyway?

Seek counseling. I wouldn’t recommend writing as the only therapy. It’s just something you can do to help yourself. While the benefits can be tremendous, there are simply some kinds of trauma that will necessitate you talking with a counselor.

Re-engage. Writing is a very lonely exercise. It’s just you and your thoughts. It’s good to re-engage or reconnect with people too, when you feel that it’s right to do so. Isolating yourself for too long while recovering can be harmful.

I found it strange that writing about a trauma has helped me think less about it. I find myself not repeating the memory over and over in my mind anymore. It’s like my brain stopped skipping on a broken track and was finally able to engage the memory in a more helpful, less destructive way. It’s like the end of a hostage taking drama that was only happening inside my head.

Just a quick note, though. Not everybody responds to therapeutic writing the same way. It’s not the silver bullet that will make all pain go away. For many people though, like me, it’s been tremendously helpful.