4:55PM, Dec. 31, 2012
I discovered a lot about myself in 2012.
Perhaps none more important than realizing how truly contented I am about my life that I’m really considering retiring from writing so I could focus on something else entirely.
People close to me know that I have four passions in life: writing, photography, travel, and tennis. And through the years I've been able to bring these four together to make my life as interesting as it could get.
But of course, I would never be able to give the same level of priority to each one. If I were to rank them based on the amount of time and effort I gave them in 2012, it would be travel on top, followed by photography, writing, and finally tennis.
I haven’t been able to play as much tennis as I wanted to in the past year. Before, I’d play at the least twice a week and compete in small tournaments every now and then. I am contented, however, that no matter how long I've stayed away from the court, I am still able to play my game and while I’m not in the same level as I was, say, in 2010 or 2011, I could still hack out a win.
My health has always been a top priority which is why I’m looking to get back into tennis form in 2013. I was diagnosed with gall stones and while my surgeon has recommended cutting it out, I opt not to, yet. I just decided to cut down on eating “unhealthy” food and that includes fastfoods and sodas. Broccoli, cauliflower, and garlic have been my friend this year and will continue to be so in the next 365 days.
The only run I participated in was “The Running Dead” in Alabang, which, after finishing it, I knew it would be my first and last “zombie run”. It felt too gimmicky for me and seeing people tripping as they try to evade “zombies” from getting their flags made me decide that this wasn't for me. Having finished a 21k two years ago, I didn’t get the point of this one. Finishing a 5k, 10k, 21k, 42k, or an ultramarathon requires a lot of determination whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned runner. With a “zombie run” you get distracted trying to keep all your flags and avoiding getting pushed by other runners. Finishing a normal run means competing with oneself and I don’t see that in a “zombie run”, and I know promoters will say that’s not the point but whatever point there is behind these types of runs, I’ll never get it. But it’s not all bad because one good thing I would say about “The Running Dead” that the buffet dinner after the race was top notch in terms of the quality of the dishes offered and the quantity.
I’m hoping to do another 21k in 2013 and not be 30 minutes late this time around. As for tennis, I’ll make it a point to play at least once a week.
Writing-wise, it’s dawning on me more and more that very few people appreciate good feature writing anymore. I don’t know if it’s because of technology and social media but, I really don’t know understand the change.
Back when I was writing for print, I was writing—in my own twisted mind—quality feature stories about subjects worth writing about. I know, because people would send me emails to tell me how much they appreciate the article I had written. I know because when people meet me for the first time, the immediate reaction they would show is that of surprise, adding that they thought I was somewhere in my 40s or 50s because of the way I wrote. I know because I felt good as soon as I send in my story and I would feel even better if only one sentence was removed by my editor, even more if none was removed at all. Of course that wasn't always the case as there are times when the entire first two paragraphs would be rewritten and sometimes even removed. And yet I didn't feel bad because I was learning.
The past year enabled me to reassess my writing. Did I change my writing style? Or are people just reading differently now?
As a writer, I do appreciate it when something I've published makes somebody feel good either through the information I imparted or if they felt obliged to do something to help another. I may not show it but I feel giddy when someone I have respect for would give me a compliment. Others, I’d simply brush off but I guess that’s the snobbish part of me, a title I've been given one too many times already, and one I’m fairly aware of among other things.
But is good feature writing dying? Here in the Philippines at least? Does it follow that since information has to be fast, it need not be of quality? It seems that the only good feature writing that remains are those that come from veteran columnists who I still enjoy reading after all these years—and to think that what they write are supposed to be opinion pieces. I need not name names because those few who I could count in two hands are quite obvious and they stand out in terms of their wit, knowledge, and mastery of free-flowing verses.
I’m just hoping that people would discover how good they are not via the retweet button announcing that said writer has written 30.
At the risk of falling into the generalization pit, let me say that people are getting dumber because of social media I think, me included. Where as in the past, people aim to better themselves by reading good literature, learning new languages, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, nowadays, we are obsessed with increasing our online credibility. Which shouldn't be a bad thing but the manner in how some people achieve this is by, off the top of my head 1) posting pictures of themselves in different poses wearing the same outfit on a regular basis; 2) hyping up material things non-stop; 3) commenting on issues they have no idea about.
Earning and maintaining online credibility is a must for those working in media, one that was impressed upon me further during a recent training program by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in Hong Kong. But does the same apply to normal netizens? I remember my reasoning for not jumping on Twitter back then: “what do I need a Twitter account for when I have nothing to say?” I still feel the same way and if you check my non-work-related tweets, you’ll see why.
Again, I’m guilty of these things I mentioned and perhaps I am merely describing my online actions except for number 1 since I don’t post pics of myself wearing the same outfit twice. So 2013 will have less of that from me. I will, however, hype up the Samsung Galaxy S IV despite being an Apple user. I mean, really, how insulting is the iPhone 5? And did you know that there are rumors of an iPhone 5S set for a June 2013 release? If all the iPhone 5 has to show is the panorama feature, the Xperia Arc S phone from Sony has had that even before it bought Ericsson out of its joint mobile phone venture.
So yeah, the point of this entire post is to announce that I’m considering switching to Samsung.
One brand I’m really happy with, however, is Nikon. I’ve been using it for a couple of years now and even with third-party brand Tamron for my lenses, it hasn't failed me. Whether macro, action, or portrait photography, I've been able to do it. I am now learning as much as I can about astrophotography and while it has been very frustrating so far, I’m certain that I’ll capture my first galaxy much like how this guy Alex Cherney does it.
Brand loyalty, it seems, no longer matters. And who’s at fault here—the company that churns out short shelf-life products or the people who propagate belief that for one to be “in”, one has to have “it”? “It” here is not the “je ne sais quoi” of a person but some sort of a replacement that’s usually a material thing. But why would you want to be “in”, why be like everybody else when you know you have that something that makes you stand out?
To state one example, something I think I know something about, is the “shoe game” here in the Philippines. A decade ago, I was known by my friends for my shoes, which made me come up with my own lyrics to J.Lo’s “Jenny from the Block”: Don’t be fooled by the shoes that I wear/ I’m still, I’m still Dx from over there. I bought Jordans, Vince Carter signature shoes, and And1 when it was golden. I bought those pairs of shoes because I loved wearing them. Nowadays, people would line up overnight just to get a pair of the latest Lebron, Kobe, Jordan, and even KD. They would purchase multiple pairs and then after a few days, sell them for twice the price.
While I’ve heard of people lining up for kicks abroad, the first encounter I had with such was when Nike Philippines released the Air Zoom Generation First Game, the shoe that then-rookie Lebron James wore during his first NBA season. If I remember correctly, to be able to purchase the shoe, one had to wait in line at the Nike store in Glorietta 4. I passed on it even though only a handful of people showed up, and waited for the Wheat colorway to drop. Needless to say, I picked that up and I still have it on display in my shoe rack despite the wear and tear. I thought that camping for kicks would never be a trend in the Philippines (cue cereal guy spit meme).
I've never lined up for any pair of shoe so far and I hope that I never will. I still buy Nike but I've since expanded my collection to include Adidas and Asics. Now I’m considering starting a New Balance collection just because. It’s good though that I’m not the type to lose sleep over not getting a pair of the latest drops because they are after all, just shoes. More funds for travel is what I say.
And to say that 2012 has been a year for travel is an understatement. My excuse at the start of the year was that the world might end December 21 so what the heck. Went to Europe for the first time and what an eye-opener that trip was. It gave me a better understanding of the saying that “travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” I didn't mind that the Sperry Topsider I bought and brought for the trip was painful for walking. I was experiencing new things! I left the Sperry pair at my friends Harold and Gizelle’s home in Vienna by the way before flying to Venice.
I spent my summer in Europe and I knew, after that trip, that I would be going back because really, it’s more addicting than collecting shoes. It helped that both Harold and Gizelle were very kind to show me around Vienna and Salzburg, not to mention host me in their home they share with their three adorable kids. Surprises were aplenty from the moment Harold ordered coffee and bread in German to the Filipina who helped me get a flight directly to Venice via Austrian Airlines after I was left by my Lufthansa flight which would have seen me take a stop at Hamburg before flying to Italy.
Italy itself is a different story altogether. Since I arrived late to Venice, I missed the train that would have taken me to Modena where I would meet Shiela so I had to find a hotel for the night. I was operating half asleep and went to the Best Western Hotel across the train station. I was ready to say “shut up and take my money!” just so I could rest on a comfortable bed but they were fully booked unfortunately. The reception lady was good enough to point me to the direction of another decent hotel and thankfully, that one still had a room for 100 Euro.
2012 also saw travels to Hong Kong and Boracay twice, Singapore, Indonesia, and Bangkok. Had tickets booked for Seoul but couldn't go because of the Europe trip. Missed two provincial trips but if it's meant to be, then. The coming year brings with it so much more promise and I really am twice as excited for my upcoming travels.
I’m not one to dispense unsolicited advice but I really would like to encourage people to travel more no matter what it takes. You are really doing yourself a favor by stepping out of your comfort zone and stepping into the unfamiliar. I realized all the more that I truly am a risk-taker and I am looking to continue being so in 2013. It won’t hurt becoming one if all your life you've been making decisions on the safe side.
Don't be afraid to speak your mind. If you feel that you have something that you need to say, do so. You might offend people but there will always be people who get offended easily. Arguments might be thrown around to prove every possible point but never worry for if you mean only for good to come out, it will. Out of all the noise, pure truth will certainly rise above everything else.
If you have the opportunity to do good for another, do it. Just do it and don't wait for someone else to see it just so you could be talked about in social media. Be the anonymous good samaritan you know you can be.
If you’re uncertain about buying something, sleep on it. If you find that you keep dreaming about it, then go and make the purchase. Do research so you can decide if you really need it. During my trip to Hong Kong, I was deciding between a new DSLR body or a good f2.8 lens. I didn't jump on the first good deal I saw and did more research even though I've read everything there is to read about both the camera and the lens. And yeah, I’m happy with my purchase. I was also deciding on a tennis shoe and it came down to deciding whether I would buy the discounted older colorway or the newer regular-priced colorway. I bought the latter because it was THAT kick ass.
I am currently choosing between three car brands even though I have already decided on one as early as mid-2012. But I can always decide to hold off buying it and just start commuting since I've found how fun it is to ride taxis again. Tip: if the driver asks for more, just get off. You don’t deserve the stress that would just ruin your day. Random story: on the way to the office one time, I was caught in traffic and I had the unique pleasure of enjoying an AM drama again, something I did a lot when I was younger. After that, I was treated to the tough public service only Raffy Tulfo could dish out.
Last week, I played at the arcades again. It felt good remembering how good I once was whether in Street Fighter, Tekken, Marvel vs. Capcom, or Virtua Fighter. I bought just one token (it’s good to know that a token costs just five pesos) and the lady said, “isa lang?” Oh lady, you don’t know how good I am. But when I inserted the coin and pushed the buttons to choose Ryu in Street Fighter IV, I realized that not all the buttons were working. Nevertheless, I made it all the way to Seth but damn those buttons I couldn't beat him.
Do something you did when you were younger is what I’m saying. You'll never know how good you really are or how better you have become. And again, take risks. Happy New Year everyone.
8:15PM, December 31, 2012