Saturday, January 26, 2008

Jell-O Shots

Ever observed how Jell-O behaves? You shake the plate that it's on and it just wiggles endlessly without moving an inch. That about sums up how I view my life to be right now -- stuck! Though I am going through the motions of life and it seems to be going right along with me, I feel that I'm not getting anywhere at all. A part of me wants to move, but another part of me just wants to stay put and enjoy the ride (or whatever I can take from it).

All my life I have been trained to always look forward -- to see the bigger picture and to think long-term. And all my life, that's exactly what I have been doing. And it's quite exhausting, not to mention disheartening when things don't go your way. I find that looking far ahead only strains my neck and makes me lose sight of the present in its entirety. How am I supposed to enjoy the future when I can't even enjoy the present?

Imagine a full busy day with back-to-back meetings. You get in one meeting and all you can think of is your next meeting already. Been there, done that and quite frankly, it was a disaster in the making. I certainly wouldn't wish that kind of fate in my life.

I like the plate where my Jell-O is on right now and I certainly enjoy wiggling about in my own time and pace. I just find it incredibly annoying when people tell me to push my plate to a better place because I'm too good for my current position right now. Granted, I could get a better job, I could get better pay, I could earn more and be able to afford the finer things in life -- but I enjoy where I am right now. I enjoy my job albeit the crappy pay, I like the certainty and stability it gives me and I especially like the freedom it gives me to be able to do what I please. And for the first time, I am rather enjoying the present.

Don't get me wrong, I still do worry about the future. I am wary that I'm only a few years shy of turning thirty and I am still vividly conscious of what society expects of me. However, I also worry about falling into cliches and not necessarily enjoying them. I do wonder if there's a proper way to do this because if there is, then I must be missing out big time.

The opposite spectrums of life -- it's either too long or too short. Sometimes it certainly feels like it's too long that taking risks might spell one's own death. I've met people who always choose to take safer decisions and quite honestly, I don't blame them. One irrational act can make a lifetime of about eighty years seem like eight hundred instead. On the other hand, seizing the day makes life seem more worth living. It is risky indeed, but winning it is ever so worth it. It's now or never. All that matters is how badly you want something that makes losing that risk actually worth it.

I think I'll hold on to the plate where my Jell-O lays on for now -- and take whatever I can get from it. It's not so bad after all. I know I run the danger of settling and compromising and underutilizing my "God-given gifts" but, so what? At least there are no regrets for now and I can honestly say that I don't have to drag myself to get out of bed everyday. Now, how many people in this world has that luxury?

After all, the little things in life do matter, no?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Wikang Sinilangan (Mother Tongue)

These days, all one must do is to blink and it's already twenty six years later. More conservatively, I blinked and then I found myself already in the middle of the first month of 2008. Regardless whether or not you're having fun, time certainly flies with engines roaring at full speed.

My time flew on a positive note, fortunately. My slight hiatus allowed me to end my 2007 completely in the midst of family, friends and loved ones -- surrounded by the holiday ambience. It's not exactly something that happens everyday (not even every year) so rest assured, it has been one hell of a month. I was almost sad to see it end, especially boarding the airplane back to Singapore the day after New Years. However, I knew that I have a lot to look forward to in 2008. I'm not exactly sure what they are but I'd like to say that I have enough faith to know that there's got to be *something* good about 2008.

Being back home after a year has reminded me of a few things -- aside from the fact that it can get very stressful. I remembered who I was in contrast to whom I have become after leaving my domicile since almost nine years ago. Seeing my friends and extended family brought back a flash flood of memories that made up the person that I became. And one of those elements was my mother tongue.

Growing up in a bilingual country can be tricky. I grew up in a society that carries the notion that one's expertise in the English language dictates his or her level of education and skills. Put more simply, the better you are in speaking English, the smarter and better off you are. Granted, it's quite an unfair measure to impose, but it is widely acknowledged.

I don't remember learning English at all. It has always been integrated into my everyday life along with my native language (Tagalog, which is perhaps the most popular dialect in the Philippines). I didn't actively start using it in terms of speaking until later on at fifteen years old but I've always understood the language with little difficulty. I'm a voracious reader, which helped tons, and for once, I may actually have to attribute something good to American media whose influence dominated Philippine channels and publications.

For the most part while growing up, the campaign was always to speak English and to get better at it. The educational system in my school was chiefly operated in English bar a couple of classes which needed to be taught in Filipino. It wasn't until I reached high school that I realized how scheisse I've become in speaking my own language. Sure, I speak it everyday at home and with my friends, but it wasn't until I started listening closely that I realized each sentence that I spoke contained at least one English word in it.

English became my more intuitive tongue.

I struggled in my Filipino literature classes because I was not exposed to the level of Tagalog that the books were using. Hand me works of Shakespeare and Chaucer and we can talk endlessly about it over a mug of mocha. Hand me Jose Rizal's Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo (Tagalog version, of course, and not in the original Spanish) and we're in trouble. I wouldn't be able to compose a half-decent blog post in Tagalog without anyone mocking it.

How shameful!

Having travelled quite a bit to countries that do not promote English as much as America's/England's former colonies *cough* I began wishing that my country embrace our dying language more fervently. Is it only me who finds it ridiculous that with the seventy-odd dialects existing in the Philippines, I only know one and I know it half-assed at that?

In countries like France, Germany and Thailand, everyone speaks their own language with such passion and gusto. I was eavesdropping (if you can call it that since I couldn't understand a thing) in a conversation taking place between two German girls on a train ride to Frankfurt and seeing the expressions being given away by their eyes and faces, I was dying for some subtitles. In the Philippines, given the same scenario, one can pick out a slight idea on what's taking place because of the loose English words and phrases that probably pepper the conversation.

Sure, it's always good for tourism and business in the country that almost everyone understands English. I only hope that one century later on, we can still keep our identity as a people and that our lips can still perfectly form Tagalog words. I've always prided myself in being bilingual because it's sometimes like knowing a secret language. And I can only wish that I can be good in both.

It disappoints me seeing the younger generations speak even worse Tagalog than I do. Who can blame them though? It's how it has become, sadly.


It's good to be back *cracks knuckles* I hope everyone had a good holiday!

My apologies for the long absence but trust me, it was enough for me to miss being here.