The Aging Millennial Goes to a Rally

I have gone to protest rallies only twice in my life.

The first time was in 2001. I was 17 years old, in my third year at the University of the Philippines. I had not had the opportunity to vote in the recent election, having been too young. Yet President Joseph “Erap” Estrada in his two years had attempted to bury the disgraced deceased dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, then committed flagrant corruption. At that point, he was in the midst of impeachment hearings, but with senators voting not to open a second envelope of evidence against him it looked like he was about to get away with impunity.

We weren’t about to let that happen. And so I trooped with my batchmates and other fellow students from Diliman on foot to the EDSA Shrine to join what would be dubbed as People Power 2 or EDSA Dos. That evening, my parents, sister, and I rejoined the rally. The next day, Erap resigned and his vice-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was sworn in to replace him.

This rally was an object lesson to me about the power of peaceful uprisings, a gift that the Filipino people had shown the world was possible during the first EDSA People Power.

(Of course, several years hence we see that Arroyo was in her own way corrupt. Politics is dirty business, after all.)

The second time I joined a protest rally was last Wednesday, fittingly on Bonifacio Day commemorating the birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio, a national hero who led the revolution against Spanish oppression. I am now 33 years old, university a distant memory. I’ve had opportunity to vote in three presidential elections. The last one was the most contentious and most toxic one, given the extremist rhetoric of the man who was eventually elected president, Rodrigo Duterte. I have since distanced myself from friends who supported him, given his favoring of summary executions and his unholy alliance with Ferdinang “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. who lost the vice-presidential election to Leni Robredo.

November 30

“Andres would have been here.”

This rally was not a call to oust Duterte; rather, it protested his collusion with attempts to rehabilitate the Marcos name and image, revise history, and depict the Marcos dictatorship as the golden years of this country. The end result the Marcoses seek is their return to the highest seat of power in the land so they can rule with impunity once more.

November 30

Millennials taking up the cudgels

November 30

“Temperamental brats”

November 30

Lighters now replaced with smartphone lights

Truth be told, I found it bittersweet that those who had once been student activists back in the 70’s to 80’s were now saying they were passing the torch of resistance on to the millennials. “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance,” it is said — and apparently we have not been vigilant enough with the Marcoses once again knocking on the doors of Malacanang.

The first rally I went to, I was the age of those who now populated the second rally. I’m still what they call a “millennial” albeit one of the older ones. (Market segmentation would call me an “aging millennial”.) Still young enough to rock a funny sign that formed part of news coverage montages about youth involvement in the rallies, but old enough to remember the decades of recovery and unrest that followed after toppling Martial Law.

I grew up enjoying the human freedoms and rights enshrined in the 1987 Constitution, which was crafted as a safeguard against dictatorship. Yet now we’re on the precipice of losing those once again because the propaganda goes, “EDSA wasn’t effective in changing Philippine society so maybe we should just go back to the Marcoses.”

I attended the rally because I still believe in the legitimacy of People Power in deposing a dictator. Whatever happened in the years after, the freedoms and rights that People Power returned to us must be defended. Oppression must be resisted.

I just can’t believe we’re still rallying against this shit.

Don’t Panic: My Quest for Coldplay Tickets

I don’t normally write about music because I am not as much of an aficionado as music bloggers out there. I also don’t really have a diverse range of artists I listen to. But when I do listen to an artist, you can bet I have listened to most of their back catalogue of songs and would love to see them perform live.

Coldplay is one of those bands I’ve listened to over the years. While I can’t say I’ve grown up with their music (I was already in my late teens when they broke out with their album “Parachutes”), their songs were the soundtrack to much of my adult life. So when they finally announced dates for the Asian leg of their “A Head Full of Dreams” tour, I knew I had to get on the ticket train.

coldplay-ahfod

In the same vein that I listen just to music, I don’t follow music industry news nor gossip columns — which is why I failed to pick up on the fact that “A Head Full of Dreams” is said to be Coldplay’s last album and this could be the last time the band goes on tour. This, aside from the Coldplay drought in the region for so many years, has driven demand for tickets sky-high.  Read more

Hi, I’m Noelle and I write for a living.

Today, someone told me I had no right to call that someone out for writing something that may or may not be factual but had no official statement to back it up, just because I don’t write for anything more professional than my blog. (That someone also sent a few ad hominem attacks my way, but let’s stick to the merits of the argument.)

Whenever I receive any sort of criticism, I try to see if it has merit. Is there anything in my words or deeds that deserve such censure? It’s very much part of my personality to self-analyze and so I take comments to heart.

What is the definition of professional? According to Merriam-Webster:

  1. relating to a job that requires special education, training, or skill
  2. done or given by a person who works in a particular profession
  3. paid to participate in a sport or activity

Anyone can set up a blog with all the publishing tools now available — you don’t even need to go into the source code of your pages these days. So you don’t really need any special education, training, or skill to start a blog…

…Ah, but to write a blog that helps you make a living is a different matter entirely. What if your blog is a showcase of your skill in creating that turn of phrase that is just so, that pulls on the heartstrings, that calls to action? That is something someone somewhere is willing to pay for. I know I have that because I have been paid to write in the past. I stopped writing for magazines because I was writing mechanically — you know how magazines are: they cover the same topics year after year with just a tiny change in spin. With other jobs occupying my time I decided I only wanted to write about what I was passionate about and truly interested me. Instead of chasing the freelance writing jobs, I began creating content for my own blog.

And you know what? People visit my blog because what they find there is compelling and takes them on a journey they could not otherwise have gone on. They read my blog to get informed about our shared passion, and they know if I tout something it’s not because I was paid to say so, but because I have used it or tried it out and believe in it. That’s a reputation I have worked hard at building and sustaining. (It’s really up to them if they trust what I write and pull the trigger on a purchase.)

And now the writing jobs — which pay money! — come to me. Because of my blog I have been able to travel, clothe myself, participate in an expensive sport. I get paid to write. You know what I write on my travel documents as an occupation or profession? WRITER.

I do not consider myself a journalist; most of what I write opinionated and based on personal experience. But I do pride myself in the training I received while earning my graduate degree in Media Studies (Journalism), which taught me how to write the difference between statements of fact and statements based on assumption. And that’s what I called that someone out on.

Really, at this point when print magazines are losing readership and circulation (and they are all coming out with online editions to get people to read them again), someone wants to say I’m less of a professional because I self-publish on a blog?

The reason I’m writing this is because I have to let all this word vomit out before it causes me writer’s block. Now that it’s off my chest, I’m going to go back to writing some commissioned work and earn my keep doing it.

Ghostwriter

As a writer, the byline is important because it’s what formally tells the reader who authored the work they are reading. When you create something and are especially proud of it, you want people to know that it was you who created it that work of art — because as a writer you know it takes just as much creativity and passion to weave words as it does to craft sculptures or paintings.

As a writer, though, you know writing isn’t a highly-lucrative profession especially if you’re working freelance or per assignment or project. For some of us, we give up our right to a byline in exchange for a regular writing gig that pays out.

Yep, I’ve gone and turned ghostwriter, like many of my peers who love writing and express ourselves best through the pen but aren’t famous enough to be granted a column in a major broadsheet or glossy magazine. It feels just like any writing project: you write the outline, you fill it in and get creative. But someone else takes the credit for what you’ve done.

I thought it would be much harder to let go of that byline because I know that’s how big my ego is, and that’s how proud I am of what I write. But after a few months of it, I’ve learned to take pride in how well-crafted my work is, byline or no byline. I also believe in what I’m writing for, which is why it’s no big deal when someone else gets the credit. And whenever I see the impact of what I’ve written on another person, it gives me a strange sense of fulfillment.

Of course I can’t tell you who or what I’m writing for; that would take away some of the magic and mystique. But let’s just say I’m glad I have places like this where I can still write as myself. =)

Of Cruelty and Kindness

“That’s a nasty rumor,” she said quietly.

He replied matter-of-factly, “Didn’t really put much stock in it when I heard others talking.” He shrugged, “I mean, I’ve always liked you as a person.”

If there’s one thing I have experienced all my life, it’s that people are cruel. Unconscious cruelty I can take, when they’re just not self-aware enough to know that what they say or do hurts others. It’s when they gleefully and wilfully engage in behavior and talk that tears another person down that I wish the earth would swallow them up whole.

I’ve been on this planet 30 years and I still am amazed at our rapacious appetite for gossip, whether it’s about a celebrity or a nobody who just happens to be in our social circle. “Did you hear about…?” is a surefire conversational kickstarter. So who cares if what we talk about happens to paint someone in a bad light? As a matter of fact, bad news is even more enjoyable to share with others. It sticks longer in our memories, too.

Maybe it’s because we want to feel better about our own lives — that’s why we tell stories of other people failing at theirs. In an effort to make ourselves feel more significant, we attempt to make others look insignificant. Cruelty is a sign that there’s a deficit. When we are cruel, we are attempting to take from others what we feel we lack.

Notice that I’ve used “our” and “we”; I see this capacity for cruelty in myself, too.

And then I experience kindness, and all is not lost. I store up these moments in my heart. Our capacity for kindness is determined by our own experience of it.

When you can choose to be kind instead of being cruel, you can count yourself blessed that someone cared for you, so you can care for others. You overflow, so instead of taking, you are able to give.

I remind myself of the greatest kindness I’ve received and continually receive every day: John 3:16.

Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. — John Watson