An attempt to make sense of things in a random universe, one Friday at a time.

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Location: Philippines

Leaving my footsteps for you to find and follow, my love.

26 April 2013

The many kinds of travel

How I long to be a traveler of the world. Ever since I was a little girl, sickly with asthma and living in an insulated little house in the middle of a large farm, tended to by my parents and maids, the great world out there has always beckoned to me. And so I resorted to the only travel that was accessible to me: reading books upon books upon books. I read and finished my first novel when I was seven years old, and have not stopped reading books since then.

Now I am much older, and no longer sickly in the same manner, and I have done a bit of travel already. However, I have not traveled as much and to as many places as I would like, owing to duties and responsibilities to my family, my day job, my studies, my freelance work, my financial standing, my psychiatric needs, and my home-based business. Of course, I still aim to travel someday, when all has been dealt with. But for now, I just look at that dream with fondness and anticipation, knowing that I will get there someday.

I suppose it's only natural that I gravitate towards items that I can actually purchase now, at this non-traveling time, with the travel idea in mind. Because it's not only actual, traditional travel that is travel. Even going through one's ordinary days can be a travel -- or a journey -- in itself, because no day is ever like the other, and as we go through each step, every kilometer, talk to each and every person that crosses our path, exchange smiles and glances, share a chuckle, share a table at a crowded coffee shop, we end the day a changed person, even if only infinitesimally, barely noticeably, but changed nonetheless, and we can feel it pulsating in us, even if just very faintly, the next morning, when we embark on the new journey for the day.

In this spirit, I fell in love with the Midori Traveler's Notebook, and just had to have it. I love the idea behind it, and I love how it's made, and as a fledgling designer myself, I appreciate the often difficult process of coming up with a product that actually works very simply and intuitively. (As my writing professors often say, it's the stories that are easiest to read that are most difficult to write. I believe the same applies to the world of design.)

The MTN is a simple piece of thick, square-ish leather. Mine came in brown but there is also a black one. It comes in two sizes, the passport-sized one and the regular-sized one, which is a little wider and a lot taller. I liked the wider, taller version, because I write a lot, and when I have one notebook, I like to use it for everything.

And I was able to do that with the MTN. The saddle-stitched notebook refills are held in place with an elastic that runs through the spine of the leather, and I can put as many in there are the cover could physically hold. At one point, the notebook was almost three inches thick, and I loved it to bits. I would like to share with you now how I have set it up.

First, I threaded three strands of elastic clear nylon thread through the existing holes, so be able to accommodate all the refill notebooks that I was thinking of putting into the notebook.

The MTN also has a set of rubber bands, sold separately, that you can use to hold more notebooks in, but I wanted all notebooks to be flush with the spine, so I thought this was a better option.

Then I proceeded to add the inserts. Here is the sturdy plastic insert with a zipped pocket that I used a my wallet, and the inserts that held all my cards.

I also used two kraft folders that functioned as a catch-all for the loose slips of paper that I had to deal with everyday.

I also added a printout of the office directory from my day job. These are everyone's direct lines, and I don't call them all everyday, so I did not want to store them on my phone, but I wanted the directory to be with me in case I need it. The original data was given to me in an Excel file, and I reformatted it using the Numbers app on my Mac, and printed it to the MTN refill size. Very handy to use when I am away from a landline phone and have to call someone in the office!

And here is the Chronodex, the core of the system, which I printed, one core to a day and one page to a day, on the MTN's gridded paper notebook refill. It looks awesome, geeky in an analog kind of way, and really put me on top of my daily tasks and everything else that seem to keep cropping up as the day goes along.

On the MTN, I just carried two pens in two pen loops. On the small pen loop, I had the five-color Pilot Coleto pen that I use to color-code my Chronodex. I also had a large pen loop at the back cover. I had a Lamy Al-Star in it that I used to write in my journal, which was also on the MTN, in the lightweight paper notebook refill.

And my favorite part of this setup would be the brass name plate that I have strung on the elastic closure of the notebook. I had it made specially for me by Tato Faustmann, and I am very happy with it.

And behold all that adorable chunkiness!

This notebook was my all-in-one tool for getting through my days. I had the Chronodex in there as my planner, my journal, my office directory, my catch-all, my cards and wallet, my pens, and a few loose sheets of paper that I could use to jot down ideas and notes on the fly. It got heavy from time to time, but once I clear out the things from there that I have to file off, it got lighter again.

And this is my own way of traveling for now. While the distant lands that beckon me are still waiting for my footsteps to land on their wonderful, magical soil, I have the MTN while I am still in my homeland. And it's all good.

19 April 2013

Oh, the cover

Very late one night in April, as I was about to go to sleep, I received a Gmail chat message from a friend of mine, fellow Bicolano and Atenean, photographer and designer extraordinaire Vic Nierva. He wanted to show me the cover study that he had designed for my third book (and my first collection of short stories), Married Women.

And the cover study simply just woke me up! It is beautiful, it is in the minimalist style that I love, and it has the ampersand that I requested him to use, to symbolize the union between the two parties in a marriage agreement.

What I truly did not expect-- and what blew me over and made me a huge Vic Nierva fangirl -- was that he used the ampersand element to render a vortex-like image, which represents the dark and murky vortex that married-ness almost always sucks people into. All hail Vic Nierva!

The book is being published by the Ateneo de Naga University Press, and I do have to thank my good friend and multi award-winning writer Kristian Sendon Cordero for leading me to it, and for the Press Director, Fr. Wilmer Tria, for accepting my manuscript right on the same day that I sent him a query letter, without reading the manuscript itself! I am humbled and touched at the confidence that he has in me.

This book has a personal story. I was planning for it to be my thesis for the degree I have been studying for, Master of Arts in Creative Writing, in the University of the Philippines, Diliman. Ever since I got admitted to the program in 2002, I have been working towards writing this book. I even got a Palanca award for one of the stories that's in the book.

However, somewhere along the way, I have outgrown this book. I felt like I could no longer stand before a panel of my my professors and experts in the field to defend the theories, principles, and aesthetics behind this collection, and situate it within a larger story, a wider discourse. Going through the stories in the collection, I detected a strong feminist slant, and I am afraid that I am not feminist enough to speak as one, much less in defense of a work that would inevitably be tagged as feminist. It was all I could do to let it go.

And let it go I did. I have let the book fly away to wherever its destiny will lead it, while I shall stand here waving it goodbye, now free from the burden of having to talk about it anymore. Because that part of my life is over. And even though that part of my life will become immortal as a book, it's still a beautiful book, with a beautiful cover, and that's all it is. The rest of the stories behind that book, ones that were never translated into words on paper, shall nevertheless remain in my heart for as long as I live.

05 April 2013


Because there has been a recent development in my private life that truly propels my future forward, and moves me closer towards my happiness and the fulfillment of my dreams. Hurray!