The Purple Motorbike Reminder

Every time I feel like slacking off in school or now at university, memories of my hometown would suddenly pervade my mind and in just a few moments, I gather some courage to keep going. When I was much younger, probably about four or five years old (yes, I can still remember it), my grandpa and I would ride his purple motorbike just around the neighbourhood. We rode for the sake of riding and I felt completely safe with him ready to protect me from any threat. My grandparents, well they’re technically my great aunt and uncle from my father’s side, used to live in a low class neighbourhood in the Philippines. They were not living in the slums but it was a community surrounded by squatter areas.

Manila, Philippines
Manila, Philippines

During these rides, there was rarely a word between grandpa and I. In the silence between us, I knew it was one of those moments that I would always cherish and look back on with utter joy. But at the same time, there is this image that is forever ingrained in my mind – the faces of people in pain, in despair… suffering from poverty and injustice. Those two go hand in hand, they were and are still there everywhere. There’s a distinct smell too, perhaps of sweat, urine, animal manure, pollution and bodies trapped in tiny spaces… with no choice but to live only for each day, without thinking of the future… because it’s far too obscure.

I wondered: How can they live like this? How are they going to survive? Okay, maybe more like… where’s the toilet? Where’s the toys? Why do they looks sooo dirty?

But maybe, they don’t really have a choice but to try to survive in any way they can.

It’s sad and unfortunate that they are living in those conditions and sometimes I wished I could have all the money in the world just enough to elevate their standards of living or maybe even just to ensure that they have the most basic human necessities. Survival is necessary yet the means of their survival is much more complicated. Beggars are staples in the street, it’s a state of normalcy, I guess. From newborns to great-grandmothers, poverty does not discriminate. Every time I see a beggar, I think to myself:

If you can be given food or money, it may suffice maybe for a day or two, depending on the quantity. How about the day after that? A month, a year?

When I was younger, I felt completely and utterly powerless, vulnerable – how am I supposed to give them a comfortable lifestyle in a snap of a finger? In a sense, in some level, I still do. These childhood memories and to an extent, traumatic experiences somehow allowed me to develop a seemingly insatiable desire to make a difference in the lives of others, no matter how small. I’d like to believe it also instilled in me a greater sense of determination to succeed and ultimately, to give back. After all, there’s a lot of bad stuff out there and no one else is there for the human race, but people like you and me.

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The Perks of Being 18 (That’s a lie)

I think I’m having an early-life crisis. Okay, maybe it’s just one of the countless teenage crises that I’ll have to experience. I thought it would be nice to turn 18 and legally drink (lots) but no. Not at all. Before you stop reading, consider the possibility that this article may bring back memories of your childhood or teenage years – the formative years. The triumphs (very few) and struggles (way too many to mention) of an adult-in training.

Becoming an adult (in training) has only made me more confused, angry and desperate for some kind of direction. Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it! Oh my manners – please? Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. The only method is trial and error and that’s pathetic but true. I’m actually getting old. In two years, I’ll be 20. I would have lived two decades. How crazy is that? If you’re a much older person than I am, I bet you’re going to say something like: Well, how about me? How do you think I feel about myself?

To be honest, my mind is so consumed by doubts and worries that I am just stuck being indecisive. When do I ask for work experience? I’m in my first semester of my first year, is this too early or maybe my initiative and enthusiasm might actually result into something good? Do I tutor kids so I could get some money? But maybe I’ll be a terrible tutor and I won’t make a difference, perhaps make them worse than what they already are. Do I apply for hospitality jobs? I am too clumsy and such a slow-poke. Do I apply for retail jobs? They look for experience. God damn it, I just want to write and maybe proofread. I write decent pieces but I can’t even write a great cover letter that will actually get me an interview. Or maybe I’m just not trying hard enough. Maybe all this indecision should be decisions made, goals pursued and action taken.

I have my own news story, media conference story and group assessment throughout the remaining time for this semester. My three essays are due in one day – the last week of the semester. How will I ever get things done? I’m only doing three subjects and currently unemployed and I’m here writing in a blog that nobody reads. Now, that’s something isn’t? I’m crazy. I’m a lost soul and I know it. In saying that though, I’m not here to get some pity or expecting someone to hold my hand and tell me everything is going to be okay.

I write to express myself. It’s cathartic. I feel in control. I feel like I have some sort of a powerful weapon that nobody can take away from me. It’s not elastic or made of metal or a wand or a web. It’s an idea, a thought, an incredible sensation that I can only feel when I’m here – writing.

Alive. That’s how it makes me feel. And somehow quite vulnerable and invincible. Now those two words don’t go together. But in choosing and replacing words, writing and re-writing words… it almost seem like an infinite puzzle. There’s the rush of emotions and adrenaline running through your blood, forcing you to somehow make a decision. And when you’ve finally given up in the idea of ever finding the right word, there’s the light bulb moment or Oprah’s “Aha Moment”. There’s a moment of clarity. Everything makes sense. No one can see it coming together or expects the image to emerge like the way it did. Nobody thinks it makes sense but for you – the writer, it does.

When your fingers touch the paper and see a bunch of letters that make sense to you, you feel like you won something. World Championships. You beat Usain Bolt. Or Lance Armstrong (without taking drugs).

And you can take a deep breath, ready for the paparazzi and interviewers. Plus, it keeps you sane. Writing does.

What are you passionate about? What makes you not want to be indecisive?

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