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Lurking in the background, waiting at the center

Depressed with grades not mine

Aww, kids? Y u give yourselves (not me) such low scores on your tests? You just ruined my Sunday!

11 months ago - 0 notes


I Forgot My Phone

I came up with the idea for this video when I was at a concert seeing my favorite DJ. The people in front of me had their phones up in the air the entire time - filming, taking pictures, posting them to Facebook and Instagram, tweeting about how cool this concert was. I saw all of this. Because it was right in front of my face. The glaring screens were right in front of my face, because I’m 5 foot 2, the perfect height for things to be right in front of my face.

Some of you may know that this has been one of my biggest pet peeves for a long time. But you see, it’s not until very recently that I’ve discovered the joy in being in the moment - listening to people, looking at faces, expressions, details, looking at the colors of things, smelling smells, tasting food - and it’s not until now that I’ve realized that everyone - including me - is on their phones. A lot. Like, a fuck ton. And it makes me sad. I’m constantly working on living in the moment, enjoying and taking it all in (without Instagramming them - GASP!) but I know it takes a little practice. Would you maybe wanna practice with me? Even for a day. Even for an HOUR.

Because there is a moment happening right in front of you, right this second, and you’re missing it.

11 months ago - 326 notes


Gaming News: Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare announced for Xbox One and 360
You may recall that EA is working with Popcap Games and today during their E3 press conference the company announced they had a new Plants vs. Zombies game in the works by the name Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare.


Gaming News: Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare announced for Xbox One and 360

You may recall that EA is working with Popcap Games and today during their E3 press conference the company announced they had a new Plants vs. Zombies game in the works by the name Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare.

1 year ago - 3 notes


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1 year ago - 1,664 notes

Old Xanga Blog #3

So glad I saved this one. Part of my review of Kostova’s The Historian. Also a tribute to my late father, Nanding.

Before there was e-mail, there were…letters.

Before I even had an e-mail address, I didn’t have much fun writing letters, and I didn’t relish receiving them. I wasn’t the “Dear So-and-So, Truly Yours type”, to the disappoinment of friends and relatives abroad. I didn’t even bother writing captions for pictures I send via snail mail. 

To this day, there are only two letters that I ended up keeping. The first, I do not wish to talk about here (and I guess I never will). The second is from my dad, addressed to Mama, my brother and me. The letter was handwritten on yellow pad paper; the penmanship puts mine to shame, for my dad was a maestro of calligraphic strokes. I especially adore his signature, done with much style and fluorish, almost impossible to forge.

Daddy was a prolific letter writer, owing perhaps to the nature of his work as division supervisor of a national bank. I’ve seen the memos he’s sent to various people over the course of his career. He preferred them handwritten on office stationery, and he had a penchant for commas and cliches. But he wrote poetic prose as well, and Tagalog was his dialect of choice. I enjoyed his racy essays, his archaic epithets, and his over-seriousness, all reflections of the kind of family man he was to his family.

In February 2001, he wrote that one letter I mentioned earlier—a farewell letter to his family. The actual words are too painful to quote here, but suffice it to say that when Mama found  it a few days later, she was inconsolable. Five months later, my daddy would die of a lingering kidney ailment.

Rossi’s letters, as read and shared by his protegee and friend Paul, moved me like no other fictional letter did. Kostova’s use of the epistolary device in unfolding multiple, parallel stories is so skillful that the letters not only framed time, place and occurrence, but they also felt real to me, like I was holding the actual yellowed paper that Rossi wrote on, and not the book that I am in fact clutching right now.

Let me point out, for now, the tone and significance of Rossi’s first three letters. Both are dated 1930, from Trinity College, Oxford. Nothing strange in the time and place. But the professor always started his letters with "My dear and unfortunate successor," and ended them with "Yours in profoundest grief, Bartholomew Rossi." The letters themselves were cries of despair and confusion, though Rossi kept insisting that the researcher in him was too potent, that it overrode all reason and sanity: "…my confidence reasserting itself, and my curiosity growing—again—perversely—within me, I picked up the volume again and reaasembled my notes…the consequence…was immediate, terrifying and tragic."

Rossi was referring to the wordless book, the one with the snarling dragon, which he brought with him in subsequent travels. He blames it—or his obsession with it—for precipitating a series of events that would echo across time and place, and one such consequence of his frenzied research into the Dracula legend was the “initiation” of his “unfortunate successor”, and that’s Paul. His letters recount telltale experiences that have a direct bearing on later calamities: in one excursion to Greece, a stranger made him down a drink called amnesia, and he was terribly sick the days that followed. Midway through the book, I got goosebumps when I read the part about a young Romanian woman whom he met, fell in love with, and promised marriage to, then mysteriously forgot about after his sojourn to Greece. Coincidence? Or did the amnesia drink make him forget his enamorata?

The third letter reveals the horrific attack of a vampire (?) on his friend and colleague, Hedges, right at Rossi’s doorstep. Rossi found a bloody gash on his neck, and his friend, articulate and well-educated, in full bloom of health, was incoherent and near-death. "Brook no trespasses," he kept saying. Hedges would die a few days later, and to Rossi, it was a chilling warning of more despicable things to come.

Like I did my dad’s farewell letter, I read Rossi’s letters several times over. From both, I was looking for character, not for answers. Rossi’s helplessness in the face of an unseen enemy was offset by his indomitable spirit. Daddy’s letter was morose, but his spirited acceptance of his mortality gave me reason to believe that he is going to a better place after all, where there is no pain, no disease. These letters, one real, the other imagined, prove to me, finally, that the pen is mightier than the cursor when it comes to matters of grave and lasting importance.

1 year ago - 0 notes

Old Xanga Blog #2

I am on a mission: Save my Xanga blog posts before they disappear!

I was afraid it would happen. The end. The fade out. The disenchantment.
I’m referring to the gradual distancing of myself from the Twilight  books. 
There they were, three black and red volumes, forlorn and untouched since May: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse. I gaze at them, warily, as I type this. As if they sense the blasphemy of my thoughts. As if they were accusing me: “Traitor.” The truth is, I am just tired. Overloaded. It didn’t bother me in the past when I reread books for the sheer pleasure of reliving the moments I shed buckets of tears or secretly let out a snicker or two. I was a voracious rereading machine. Gone With The Wind : 7 times.The Time Traveler’s Wife: 4 times. The Great Gatsby: 4 times. A Song For Summer: 4 times. I’m talking cover-to-cover rereading here. But then the Twilight books came along, and I’ve read them once, one after the other. I picked up Twilight, reread that. Picked up New Moon. Couldn’t stand to read it again, except the part where Edward stonily says goodbye to a rapidly downspiralling Bella. Picked up Eclipse. Couldn’t do it. Except the “Fire and Ice” chapter, which made me shiver. So now I couldn’t relate to posters over at who gush that they’ve read the books a thousand times each (I sense a hyperbole there). But I know that I adore the books as much as they do. I absolutely will not part with these books. But rereading them…

Then I realized why. Breaking Dawn, the 4th and last book in the series, is about 20 days away (as I write this) from hitting the shelves. I’ve reserved my copy, set aside 700 pesos for it. And I want to dive into the book with close to no recent memory of the Twilight universe. Yes, I want to forget the color of Rosallie’s car (red?), the name of the town where all this happens (Forks?), one of Edward’s favorite recorded artists (Debussy?). I am obsessed with inflicting selective memory upon myself, so when I finally have that copy of BD in my hands, I can enjoy it for the fresh tale that it promises to be. I want no foreshadowing. No flashbacks.No movie trailers, either. 

Masochism has never been so profound.

1 year ago - 0 notes

Old Xanga Blog #1

So I read about RIP Xanga…

That is so sad. Makes me feel guilty that I didn’t stick with the platform. Here’s one of my blog entries from one of the coolest social sites ever:

On my way to Ateneo last Saturday, I made a  detour to UP Diliman. With me were ten high school seniors who were hoping to get a glimpse of the buildings where they would take next month’s UPCAT. As the giddy seniors pointed to this and that and marvelled at the size of the campus, I made  a mental detour of my own…centlogo

Funny how the UP Centennial makes me think not of the beehive that was Palma Hall, nor the cold white floor of the Faculty Center where my friend Ria and I used to sit, waiting for an audience with one of our professors. All my happy sappy memories are of Kalayaan dorm, that haven for freshmen plucked from every region of the country you can think of. I remember bitching about the food, and gagging at stories about the fish eating Dona Paz victims, and us eating the fish. I remember filling my dorm room walls with magazine cutouts of my males of the month (yet I don’t remember who they are now). I remember Ely Buendia, pre-Eraserheads, sitting alone in the cafeteria, and teaming up with the St. Scho girls for the all-freshmen volleyball team. I remember swapping Loveswepts and Candelight romances with Shy and Rahnee, boarding Recto-bound jeepneys to get to second-hand book stalls, which would promptly fold up at the hint of a raid.I remember waking up one morning to a loud radio broadcast of a coup d’ etat, which, until that day, I only read about in history books. I was on the first floor—Room 105—and the whole dorm was abuzz with coup news. Our first concern was, “May pasok kaya?” We then gathered that there were government troops storming Philcoa, a jeepride away from Kalayaan. Someone was warning us: “If you have subversive materials, tear them up or hide them!” I thought about my Loveswepts, dismissing them as non-subversive. I remember our Residence Assistant advising us to stay inside the dorm, but somehow, Rahnee and I were able to slip out to the Shopping Center at the back of Kalayaan. We were hoarding supplies—peanut cakes, sanitary napkins, Coke-in-cans. There was no telling how long we were going to be holed up in the dorm. When we got back, my daddy was there, waiting to bring me home. A group of dormers gathered around us as we got ready to leave. But the dorm admin did not allow anyone to leave unless parents themseves came to fetch them. My dad was the first one there, and I was the first to leave.I hated leaving my friends behind. Daddy explained that it would be irresponsible for him to take them without the knowledge of their parents. I waved goodbye, guilty and bothered. I was rather amused by his mode of transportation: a white cargo vehicle with the single word PRESS in big bold red letters, PRESS as in PRINTING PRESS, not Inquirer or anything. But I figured those flashing red letters did the trick. We were not bothered by anyone from any armored personnel carrier as we sped our way home.

I spent four years in UP, but that one semester in Kalayaan—my first 6 months alone in a big school—is the most vivid. After that sem, I was able to brave the endless lines of registration, my first great heartbreak, my 2.75 in Math.

1 year ago - 0 notes


Today marks the 24th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and the Chinese government’s suppression of protesters. Thousands of people attended a candlelight vigil today in Hong Kong for the anniversary.

Photos: 2013 image by Kin Cheung, AP | 2013 image by Wally Santana, AP  | 1989 image by Jeff Widener, AP | 1989 image by Mark Avery, AP | 1989 image by Jeff Widener, AP

More images:

Never forget.

1 year ago - 994 notes

Kahariam Organic Farms, Ibaan, Batangas

1 year ago - 0 notes


Today we welcome Susanne Winnacker to the Penguin Teen Author Spotlight! If you’re looking for some X-Men style superpower intrigue plus an intense murder mystery, this one’s for you! Before you go running through any walls to get this thriller, stay here to get to know the author behind the first book in the Variants series!

Name: Susanne Winnacker

Novel: Impostor (Variants Series)

Available: May 28, 2013

Who’s your favorite author, living or dead? J.K. Rowling. I’m still convinced that Hogwarts exists. J.K. Rowling made me believe it.

What’s your favorite thing about your book? The main character, Tessa. Despite her extraordinary talent to absorb other people’s DNA and adopt their appearances, her struggle for happiness and a loving family is something everyone can relate to.

If you could spend one year on a deserted island with one character from literature, who would you choose? The Weasley Twins. They count as one, right? With them on the island with me, it definitely wouldn’t get boring, even if I’d have to keep an eye open at night to make sure they don’t pull a prank on me!

Where do you write? I write on the sofa in our living room (it’s very comfortable) or at the kitchen table (not so comfortable, but somehow I get more work done). Once the weather is better, I’d like to write in our garden.

Who is your favorite hero or heroine of history? That’s a difficult question. Probably Mahatma Ghandi. He “fought” for what he believed was right and never resorted to violence. I especially like this quote from him “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

Do you tweet? What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever tweeted? Yes. Funniest tweet? Um, probably something about one of our pets. We have 3 bunnies and a dog, and they keep me busy (especially the bunny I lovingly call “Volderabbit”).

What is your favorite season? Summer! I love heat and sunshine!

If you could teleport anywhere in the known universe right now, where would you go? An overwater bungalow on Bora Bora.

Do you have any writing rituals? I can’t write first thing in the morning. I need to go through my morning routine of checking emails and social networking sites while drinking coffee or a Matcha latte before I can start writing.

What is your idea of earthly happiness? Spending time with my husband and our pets, eating home-cooked food and watching a good movie.

What is the best concert you’ve ever been to? I’m not much of a concert person. But as a teen I was a HUGE Backstreets Boys fan (I know, I know…) and was pretty obsessed. I was the crazy screeching girl in one of the front rows…

What are you currently working on? I always have so many ideas, but right now I’m playing around with a YA horror and a middle grade. 


Thanks, Susanne! We can’t wait to read the rest of the Variants series!

You can find Susanne on Twitter and her blog.

Add Impostor to your “to-read” shelf on Goodreads!

Buy Impostor tomorrow from Penguin, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books a Million, your local, independent bookstore, Powell’s, and Walmart!

1 year ago - 52 notes


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