Musings of my Then Turning Twenty Year Old Self

I do not have any plan of ripping this post off my old journals but I found myself saving this crumb of a blog post from my soon to be eternally effaced Friendster account. Also, the artist I was pertaining to here just visited the gallery some minutes ago while I was out. It would have been great if I had another tete-a-tete again with him as I warmly welcome him to my workplace as much as he did years ago. So here’s nostalgia and utter gratefulness seeping into me again, thus, the repost.

Who would have thought I would get to have a chance to have a pretty inspiring conversation with an artist. Big thanks to stereotypes and such romantic notions, it becomes a grace when you get to break them!

It was an extremely hot day (it’s the hot-for-Baguio-but-quite-ordinary-for-Manila type of weather). Too bad, it coincided with my office-hopping day. Thesis, I never thought, would be this toilsome. It’s interview galore!

It was such a blessing to bump into Mr. Willy Magtibay. I caught him taking shots of the KKK exhibit (that’s the De Guia brothers for you!). His eyes sheepishly rolled over the exhibition place then suddenly darted to me. Pooft! I asked him several questions and he fired them back to me in mumbles. He chuckled and asked me to join him for a cup of coffee.

Sitting at Oh my Gulay’s veranda, the sun’s rays stung my skin. I started making queries again. This time, he answered them more seriously. It took him a little more than three minutes to answer each question. And I did realize his tendency to spit out the same questions back, though in a situational way (think what-will-you-do? exam type in religion subject back in grade school). But his whirlwind of answers really did help.

After my scholarly business, he started talking about his life as an artist…stories indeed worth contemplating.

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“An artist must search for his identity…something he can call himself. It’s like working with the most appropriate tools with your bare hands, and it just bring out the best in you…I, for example, went back to that place, held the wood and chisel and sculpted…and that’s it”

With these lines, he stressed the importance of identity and its significant relationship with the things people do. It made think about myself – if the things I am doing are rooted with who I really am and what I want, if they are genuinely my choice and not influenced by somebody or anything else.

You see, there are things we are good at for a reason we do not even know – and they, most often than not, are where we get to excel at. It’s just because they are what we are gifted of but fail to realize because of the forces that intervene our definition of ourselves.

The only step is to look deeply into who we really are. Through that, we would know what constitutes our life’s fulfillment, be able to distinguish the phases we have to undergo, and win over the turbulences we may encounter.

In the end, we not only found ourselves, but have worked towards what is no less than us.

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“I used to do/teach art to the people having psychological disorders.”

“Isn’t that outsider art sir…the art for/practiced by the abused, imprisoned and with disorders?”

“Really? Sorry, I do not know.”

“It’s really a new term; I just got acquainted with it through my thesis. But have you tried working with *citing a private institution*? I read in the papers that *citing another private institution* worked with them.”

“Oh I used to. But you see they got me angry.”

“But why?”

“I mean it shows the inhumanity of humanity. How can they just do those to children? They break my heart. They really drive me crazy, so I chose wag na lang, to keep my sanity na din.”

This exchange of words made me laugh at myself. True enough, as much people know of me, I’m such a worry wart and an escapist. But honestly, I have an uncanny mixture of both – I’m certainly not that good at escapism that it does not usually help me break away from the worries that darts into my head.

This one served as a lesson. Why worry about a certain thing when you have a choice to ponder about another thing that does not require as much stress as the other one? It’s much like “choosing the lesser evil” type of situation. Common! I have not thought of that all along. Indeed, worrying still needs a little funneling to preserve sanity.

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“I’m an old man. I’m already fifty-four, and you…look at you. How old are you?”

“I’m nineteen Sir, turning twenty.”

“See! You’re still young. You’re not even done with the second phase of your life. There’s still more you can do and much more to go through.”

This conversation on the other hand just made me miss my father. It’s like papa’s girl attack. Yes, I’m indeed guilty of that. But putting such aside, this really sounded like a fatherly advice and what made it more heartfelt is that it came from someone I hardly knew, someone I have known for merely an hour or even less. But he just blurted out these words as if preaching over his own daughter.

The moment he said these, I just found myself a little lot younger than who I am now in the old Sunday afternoon setting: my father sitting at the sofa telling stories of how life has been to him, telling me and my siblings (either lying or playing with our toes over a thick layer of carpet) there’s still much in store the world would bring us, and what we should just hold on to is what we believe in, what we have learned, and what we know. Simply put, who we are.

But I have not talked like that with my father for quite a time. My conversation with Sir Willy Magtibay was just in time for my twentieth birthday. It served as a refreshment of what my father has told me years ago. Perhaps to help me look into myself back then, look into myself now and look into myself in the future. It helped me think about where I am now since then and where I will be from now.

One more lesson. I realized it does not necessarily hurt talking to strangers. As a matter of fact, talking to people unknown to you makes yourself known to them and them, known to you. And what’s better? You get to learn and grasp wisdom you could have never imagined.

Thanks for sharing your wisdom to me Sir Willy. You are an artist as much as a genius.

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Day 23: Dear L,

I was a stranger whom you called from a distance with a song. I was a waif seeking for a refuge and found one where your heart also resides.

I’ve heard you left the garden we have initially called home.

You didn’t even had the chance to immortalize me in paper and charcoal, but I’ll always remember your song.

Day 5: Dear P,

You organized three struggles in my life. Each event, you have set my toes aflame.

But you are my mentor. I love you for continually teaching and guiding me considering I’m already out of school. I love you for keeping me inspired, for believing in me, pushing me through and always reminding me to move my lazy ass.

I love you so much I came to adore how you roll your eyes.

A Permission to *Plagiarize Our Baguio Story

“She’s called Summer because she lives in the summer capital. She’s an artist. She’ll meet this man who will be temporarily based in Baguio for a study. They fall in love, but the man has to go back to Manila to his lover.”

This was how a friend proposed to me her concept for another short story for her Creative Writing class. I laughed at how she played with the idea knowing both of us. This is not our story. Neither of us is an artist. But we were both temporarily based in Baguio for some scholastic reason. And yes, we did fall in love.

Ours was a story written in between sighs of exhaust and relief. We were each other’s escape from theories and statements. We were the names sketched at the back of our notebooks during dull classes. We were the love letters on the margins of our drafts. Ours were the emotions traced in your graphs. Ours was the beauty of the words I used in describing art.

Ours was a story of a thousand tales of transit, of reiterated chapters about profound conversations during long afternoon walks, of repeatedly mentioned cups of coffee after dancing in the rain.

But we were just each’s almost lover.

I have already buried our manuscript along with the pens we have used for writing. Our friend’s request might require some sort of excavation, some archival work. Hopefully, the aged and brittle pages are the remaining things to be unearthed – our emotions need not be anymore. They will only be relived in the bibliography – like history, reference, written document of what was.

*Plagiarize – to my friends and i’s dictionary, this means borrow; became a sort of inside joke/term after the plagiarism issue of the SC