Free and Independent, Just and Humane

I told you, May is special. For one thing, we just had our national elections today.

We’re still counting results, but I am sharing what I posted six years ago. Sad to say, I’m still hoping, wishing, praying for the same things…Elections

What’s Going On?

It’s probably just right to give you updates on things that’s been going on in my life. The last time I gave an update was way back in December 2020.

Basically, we’ve been busy surviving the pandemic like everyone else.

I just happened to re-read the other day what I wrote back in 2017, too. I was saying that people called 2016 as the worst year ever. I now think, Nope, we spoke too soon. To be honest, I don’t even remember most of what made it the worst then.

The years starting from 2020 till now are officially the WORST YEARS EVER. I’d like to say “so far” but I really don’t wish for things to get even worse than the worst. We lost so many people to the pandemic. Probably every one of us here knows of someone who succumbed to COVID19. I lost a childhood friend myself last September.

It’s not just COVID19 that is the problem.

Wars hurt people. My own sister-in-law still can’t go home from Lebanon due to bombings, violence, unrest, and the unbelievably high inflation. The ongoing Russia-Ukraine War is devastating and horrible. Anyone who doesn’t think so needs to look deeply into her/himself. Meanwhile, ransomware is a very big threat. Cybersecurity is in jeopardy all over the world…

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Image belongs to me (‘Cause, DUH, that’s me)

I don’t really need to list down everything to remind you of all the depressing things. Just saying we’re all in the same boat, basically. And as they say, it’s okay not to be okay sometimes.

Let’s Get Personal

Let me go back to talking about myself now since this is supposed to be my personal updates.

The past year was not that eventful for me/us until September. Like I said, I lost a childhood friend to COVID. This was the same editor-friend I mentioned before in a post. I wasn’t her closest friend IMG_20201210_032908but due to circumstances, I kind of became one of the point persons when people wanted to know what happened or what plans there were. This is a story that I will write about in the future.

Another news shook the family in November. It’s not anything near devastating, really. That doesn’t make it okay either. To be honest, I already typed it down here. I decided to delete it, however. It’s not something to be proud of and tell everybody about. I’m not posting pictures on social media for my own peace of mind, for now. That will only invite questions that I don’t want to answer over and over, or questions that I will be forced to answer because I’m not a liar.

I’m not in the mood to explain to people. Sure, should anybody asks, I’m not going to deny it. I’m just not going to spread the news around either. Besides, it’s not exactly my own story to tell. I’m simply part of the story, whether I like it or not. It’s an added responsibility for me, by default.

On to Lighter News!

I’d rather talk about recent goings-on in my life that have to do with writing and blogging.

Me at my table

#NaNoPoblao2021. DONE!!! I didn’t finish on time, but I finished. That’s what’s important. The purpose was to blog more and I did. All the posts are listed on the NaNoPoblano 2021 page now. I do need a new challenge to force me to get going. Well, May is a special month so I’ll think of something.

I really wanted to join this year’s A to Z Challenge. I just knew it was something I would not be able to complete. So I’ll content myself with checking out posts whenever I have the chance. I did join the challenges in previous years. I am especially proud of my #AtoZChallenge 2017 entries.

Blog Changes. They may not be noticeable but I’ve been doing some “physical” changes on the blog.

Challenge Box

For one, the CHALLENGE BOX is now easily visible since it is included as a button in the navigation bar. It is not anymore in the BLOG BANK > BLOG LINKS dropdown sub-menu. I wanted to make BLOG BANK the landing page like it was some years back. This version of the WordPress theme won’t let me. I’ll keep trying.

HangoutsHANGOUTS replaced a sidebar section. I decided to make the links to my social media accounts more visible, too. The number zero at the end of every link annoys me, though. I don’t know what that is and I don’t think that I’d like to show it even if I knew what that is. Right now, I am not able to delete the zeroes.

I will continue making changes here or there.

Reading Blogs. I just restarted doing this a little bit more regularly (HOPEFULLY). I’ve been reading posts through the Reader. I am also visiting the blogs/sites of bloggers whom I’ve become pals with through the years. I plan to check on other bloggers who I’ve also connected with somewhat in the past. It makes me sad to know that I’ve lost connection with them. But it’s really hard to catch up when you’re busy and/or your community grows.

A few years ago, I created a spreadsheet where I tried to list every blogger I followed and who followed me. I wanted to repay people for those times they decided to check out my blog, comment and, especially, follow. I wanted to connect by following or following back those that interested me (it didn’t really matter if they followed me or not).

I soon realized that doing that isn’t easy for a slightly OC person. It was tedious! So now, I’ve decided to just wing it and visit everyone whenever I can.

The Veerledom. While it seemed I stopped visiting the blog, I actually kept coming back even before November. I kept/keep referring to and editing my post on theater thespian and ballerina Veerle Casteleyn. I have been updating it due to stuff that I’m finding through research. This is all in relation to the Facebook fan page I made, The Veerledom.

Veerledom cover photo 2

Yes, I’m a fan girl. Don’t tell me you’ve never been a fan of anyone. And even if others question you (no one’s questioned me, by the way), probably asking Why him, Why her, you stay a fan. Because sometimes, being a fan is just something you feel and have to express. I’m pretty sure most of us know the feeling.

I do also like other artists who are more well-known. They don’t really need more fan sites and pages than they already have. Veerle have those, too. I still chose to make her a page because of a very specific reason: We still don’t know much about her.

A lot of the pages dedicated to her say the same things. And a lot of them are simply focused on admiring her looks and/or loving her as the popular character she portrayed on film. That’s not fair to her. So I created a page to show that she is more than a pretty face and more than the character. Also, the page should serve as a resource place for “Veerleans”.

Volunteer Reviewer. I recently got invited as a book reviewer. I got invited because supposedly, the one who emailed me said she liked my reviews. I kind of asked if she’s read any of them. I didn’t expect to be amused by her answer, let’s just put it at that.

The site is very legit so I applied as a reviewer (that’s required even if you got invited). It’s not a job. just something to do because I like it and, well, free books! Don’t want to pass that up. I’m trying to be a good reader again, that’s my main goal.

The thing is I think I messed up my application because they thought I applied as a professional offering services. It was my fault, really. They were following up and I explained my side. But now, I don’t know if I made it clear that I applied as a volunteer reviewer. I am anxiously awaiting their new response.

I’ve been doing several other things but they are not concrete stuff.  I’ll just have to save those updates for another day when I’m ready.

How about you? What have I missed about you?

Advice and RETREAT!!!

Here where I am, the Holy week has started. For Christians, it’s time to reflect on the life of Jesus. And, more importantly, on our own lives. How are we today? When we look in the mirror, do we like what we see? What have we become? Is change necessary?

I wanted to post today because I remembered two letters I created years ago. Some readers/friends know this already. Those were letters given to a then-very young man, as requested by his mom, as required by his school. He was going on a retreat on both occasions and I was one of those asked to write pieces of advice for him. So, I did my best to conjure wisdom (ha!).

Every time I read them (because I have them saved, okay?), they remind me to strive to be better myself. In times when no one is there to pull me up or to scold me when I need it, it’s nice to be reminded by a younger me to get my act together. I guess those letters were for me as much as they were for him.

Though posted separately and on different dates, both get constant traffic on this blog, particularly the first. And I believe that the nearer the Holy Week gets, the more traffic they also get every time. I don’t have the statistics but I’m pretty sure many people have read them and probably shared them, probably even plagiarized them. Chances are, they’ve been looking for samples so they can give similar messages to kids going on peace retreats. On regular days, the pieces still get traffic, and sometimes, I don’t even know why. I don’t really mind if the letters are copied as long as people don’t post and claim them as their own.

Here are Advice to a Young Lad 1 and Advice to a Young Lad 2, in one post, respectively.

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First FanFic Published: “TUGGER ATTENDS THE BALL”

It’s March! So why am I still doing #NaNoPoblano2021? The short answer to that is I extended the challenge for myself.

I’ve explained this before: The goal was to continue blogging. It took me long to blog this last one, though. I never forgot about it. I just could not really decide which to share. I even considered posting a three-in-one. But I have made up my mind now and decided to post this little story about certain creatures that T. S. Eliot called “Jellicle Cats”. I had actually been looking for it for quite sometime but could not find the file. I wanted to post it on the fan page I am running (yes, I’m a fan girl). Lo and behold, I did find it in one of my blogs!

Day 30 of the NaNoPoblano2021 challenge, now a.k.a. “NaMarPoblano2022” (heee….) . Major Theme: “A Few of My Earliest Things”. New sub-theme: “First Published”. Related post: My Evolution as a Writer. Related page: Fiction Section.

Admittedly, I’m not into fan fiction. Because of a writing prompt, however, and my love for the Jellicle Cats, I wrote this little story. This is the FIRST FAN FICTION I EVER PUBLISHED. It revolves around the popular tom, Rum Tum Tugger. I would have focused on my fave character, Jemima, except the prompt was more specific.

Tugger Attends the Ball

First Celebrity Interview Published: “THE SUN ALSO SETS FOR THE DAWN”

Day 29 of the #NaNoPoblano2021 challenge, now a.k.a. “NaJanPoblano2022” (heee….) . Major Theme: “A Few of My Earliest Things”. New sub-theme: “First Published”. Related post: My Evolution as a Writer.

This was my first celebrity interview ever, which could be the only celebrity interview I’d have in this lifetime. (I lost my chance at interviewing Lea Salonga much, much later.) I have my first-ever editor in college to thank since she assigned this to me.

I did have a partner or co-writer. I didn’t mind since I was still new to the school paper and needed to learn the ropes. He knew more about the music, plus, he was much cooler than me. Honestly, I wouldn’t really know if I could do the interview without him. We were interviewing celebrities…! We were to interview THE DAWN, “pioneers of Post-Modern Rock” here. I’m not sure who came up with that one (“pioneers of…”), my co-writer Butch or me, or if we got that somewhere. But pioneers, they really were.

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The concert ticket, front…

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…and back

They were doing a concert at our university. So the paper got permission from the organizers for the interview, which they arranged and made happen. We were allowed since the band had an important album out so, you know, it’s still publicity, however small. It was actually maybe an hour or so before the concert. They let us go inside their parked bus to meet the members. Unfortunately, for some reason, Jett Pangan, the main vocalist, was kept busy outside the bus. Usually, it’s really the vocalist who’s the main face of the band, right? So it was a bit of a downer that we couldn’t talk to him. I only have three out of four autographs. No cellphone yet, no camera, so no photos 😦

Not that we didn’t enjoy the interview! Of course, we did! I didn’t particularly know all of them then. I really just knew them as The Dawn. I just hoped I was asking the right questions. So thank goodness, Butch was the enthusiast. It wasn’t me who described Jett’s voice as “nasal”, though. (It’s true, Butch, so please don’t come down from heaven and scare me.) I wrote the first draft, he did the final draft where he added everything else. I do disagree about the description. We went to the concert (for free!) after the interview and, despite my headache caused by being near large loudspeakers, Jett sounded fine to me. Many years later, I would watch Baby The Musical and hear Jett sing live on stage again — great voice and definitely not nasal!

Being a writer does have its perks sometimes.

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First Book Published: “TELENOVELAS: A LOOK ON HOW A FILIPINO COMMUNITY SEES FOREIGN TV DRAMAS”

Day 28 of the #NaNoPoblano2021 challenge, now a.k.a. “NaJanPoblano2022” (heee….) . Major Theme: “A Few of My Earliest Things”. New sub-theme: “First Published”. Related post: My Evolution as a Writer.

I was going through my stuff (I never finish going through things…) and realized that I did publish my first book! Like many of my alma mater’s alumni, I published one. I think there are only three copies in total — one for me and two for the school. So I have my copy with me. One is in my college’s library. The last one, I am not sure. Probably in the university main library.

I’m referring to my undergraduate research/thesis. It has a wordy title, which I used in this post’s title. My study focused on telenovelas, or telenovela, which is Spanish for TV soaps. But specifically, as stated in my book’s Definition of Terms, a telenovela referred/refers to “a foreign (Spanish-speaking) TV drama serial dubbed in Tagalog.” For those who don’t know, Tagalog is one of the Philippines’ many dialects and is generally regarded as the one most understood.

I may not have watched everything on TV. However, because I liked to observe and know things, I was often updated about local television. So even if I didn’t really watch telenovelas at the time, I knew all the titles of those that were showing back then. I was well aware of which came first before what, and how the mostly-Mexican soaps made it to local TV.  That was long before K-Dramas invaded our screens. Also. the first telenovela, “La Traidora”, was the first-ever foreign soap that was dubbed in our language!

“Filipinizing” or “Tagalizing” (both coined terms) began with several Japanese live-action shows that used to be English-dubbed. Next, they Tagalized an anime of a children’s classic story. We didn’t have to wonder how far the new practice would go. Soon, it was Mexican soaps! We did not really have them on TV since the general public would not understand conversational Spanish. TV networks probably did not care to create captions because the general public was not keen on reading subtitles either. Again, this was waaaaay before K-Dramas, or Koreanovelas as we call them.

The start of Tagalized Mexican soaps was such a big surprise. Translating and dubbing TV shows using the local dialect paved the way for Spanish-speaking soaps to enter the scene. I will not anymore discuss Philippine TV history here, though. We’ll save that for another day.

That said, my study was actually my thesis adviser’s idea. I had a different one that was going nowhere (I don’t even remember what it was about). I think that was mainly because I was at a rough time in my life. Rough time or not, I had to force myself to concentrate. I had to graduate! It would have been a waste (and stupid!) if I didn’t graduate just because of one unfinished requirement. Honestly, I’m thankful that he gave me the idea. It sparked my interest more. And because I am a writer who loves to do research, I actually enjoyed writing my research. The interview parts weren’t fun, but no pain, no gain, right? To be frank, it was not a hard topic at all.  I didn’t/don’t care. I had fun writing it and it allowed me to graduate.

I took to heart the quote that I put on page 3:

“I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.”
(William Ernest Henley)
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“TELENOVELAS: A LOOK ON HOW A FILIPINO COMMUNITY SEES FOREIGN TV DRAMAS” An Undergraduate Research By Jennifer Del Barrio Federizo (a.k.a. Me)

First and Only (So Far) Advertorial Published

Day 27 of the #NaNoPoblano2021 challenge, now a.k.a. “NaJanPoblano2022” (heee….) . Major Theme: “A Few of My Earliest Things”. New sub-theme: “First Published”. Related post: My Evolution as a Writer. Related page: Critic’s Corner.

When I worked for a tertiary school, I had experience copywriting a few things under the PR & Advertising Office. My next job, which was a joke, for lack of a better term, got me as Copywriter. I copywrote stuff for them but I will never know if or when and where they were published. This is a whole different story that will have to wait to be told. But let me emphasize that because that second one was a joke, I don’t count it as employment (I didn’t get paid either).

Published or not, not any of my previous works qualified as an advertorial. The online Oxford Dictionary defines “advertorial” as:

  1. a newspaper or magazine advertisement giving information about a product in the style of an editorial or objective journalistic article.
  2. early 20th century (originally US): blend of advertisement and editorial.

It is safe to say that I only had my FIRST ADVERTORIAL PUBLISHED when I joined the cancer-focused publication. There was an ex-deal and I was assigned to write the advertorial. But here’s my problem: It was basically a medical advert. Medical...Of course, I could not say no, however much I wanted to. It was my job, right?  But I was very skeptical of the would-be outcome. I wasn’t sure I could write a good advertorial. I did not want to humiliate myself. Mostly, I did not want to humiliate my bosses and cause a problem with the clients. I had to try my very darn best!!!

I was to write about a particular drug that’s for a particular type of cancer. I was to advertise, editorial-style. The good news was I was given materials to read about it. The bad news? The materials were thick. The words were quite medical and scientific. And I had to balance the medical/scientific jargon with the layman’s terms.

I remember spending nights at the dormitory’s common area reading and trying to write. Mind you, at that time, I had no laptop. I had to write notes and underline things on the photocopied pages. Cellphones weren’t that sophisticated yet back then plus, for the longest time, I used analog phones. So guess what? No access to the Internet outslde work unless I went to the Internet Cafe. That could help me understand things more but I did not want to spend my own money for that.  Surprisingly, I found that I was not nearly as ignorant as before about cancer as I thought I would be. So I wrote it.

It was not like I would just write it then we’d publish in the upcoming issue. The pharma had to check my output, which was very understandable. I did want them to check the advert so they could correct errors and I could revise things. The biggest surprise to me, however, was they hardly changed anything! I don’t even remember that they did. You wouldn’t know it just by looking at me, but inside, I was kind of dumbfounded. I didn’t expect it to be that “easy”. It gave me more confidence in myself.

That’s the advert below. I blurred the title that carries the name of the drug and the logos of the pharmaceutical company. I’m just not sure if they’d be okay with it. The words in the article are also tiny so I suggest you don’t check anymore. Personally, if I were them, I wouldn’t mind as that would be free advertisement. I’m not them, though. Additonally, I’m not sure if the product is still out there.

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First Book Review Published: “WHAT TO EAT IF YOU HAVE CANCER (A GUIDE TO ADDING NUTRITIONAL THERAPY)”

Basically, I’m just supposed to be continuing what was supposed to be finished last November. But heck, I’m so near-finished now and I’m loving this theme I came up with, anyway. It’s making me want to continue writing again. I just almost gave up a few weeks ago (more on that some other time). I’m happy to share more of myself. So, to continue…

Day 26 of the #NaNoPoblano2021 challenge, now a.k.a. “NaJanPoblano2022” (heee….) . Major Theme: “A Few of My Earliest Things”. New sub-theme: “First Published”. Related post: My Evolution as a Writer. Related page: Critic’s Corner.

Until I joined the Philippines’ first (and maybe only) cancer-focused magazine, I had never really done a book review outside school. It was not something I was sure I was good at. Honestly, I’m still not sure I’m good at it. The best I can say is “I try.” I had no plans of writing any until the Publisher/Boss asked me to review a book that someone recommended to her. So I did and had my FIRST BOOK REVIEW PUBLISHED.

The book was “What to Eat if You Have Cancer” by nutritionist-authors Maureen Keane, MS and Daniella Chase, MS. I hardly imagined that I’d review a book for cancer survivors, let alone, a book giving dietary guidelines. I’m a fiction girl, ergo, I expected to review fiction if I would ever. But there I was. I also tended to write longer, so writing this short one was a challenge. I did it, though. I survived my initiation. The book is most probably very outdated now. I haven’t checked if they’ve written any updated ones.

After that, I would go on writing two more cancer-related non-fiction reviews. Surprisingly, it was I who volunteered! Those were books that I found. One was “My Breast” by former journalist Joyce Wadler and the other, “Cancer Schmancer” by comedienne Fran Drescher. I have shared both reviews here in my blog. These experiences gave me the courage to try and join a call for book review submissions. If you are interested, I reviewed Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple” and Victor Hugo’s classic “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”.

Anyway, I think it’s possible to read the words on the image that I have provided if you just enlarge it, except I just found out now that light reflected on some parts. Sorry! I know I have the soft copy somewhere but I have to find it first.

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First Time Published: “SI DR. JOSE RIZAL”

Day 25 of the #NaNoPoblano2021 challenge, now a.k.a. “NaDePoblano” (heee….) . Major Theme: “A Few of My Earliest Things”. New sub-theme: “First Published”. Related post: My Evolution as a Writer. Related page: Poetry Nook.

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From Wikipedia

Before December 30 ends for everyone, I am sharing this poem for the first time ever. This was written, I believe, in June 2016, a tribute to our national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal. I know that he is well-known in other parts of the world, particularly in Europe. This was, actually, a school requirement when the eldest kid was in fourth grade, I think. I helped him write it….Okay, I wrote it. Writing is not the kid’s forte and he was too lazy to do it. So, yeah, Bad Mama. I have my own poem that I have been trying to finish for years, to be honest. I’ve promised myself to finish it in 2022.

Anyway, today is the death anniversary of Rizal. So this is quite timely. I will translate in English, but don’t take it as the official translation yet.

SI DR. JOSE RIZAL                                  

Si Dr. Jose Rizal                                        
Magiting na bayani                                  
Isang  tagapagligtas                                   
Ng ating lahi.                                           
Ibinuwis ang buhay                                   
Alay sa Inang Bayan                                 
Halimbawang tunay                                  
Katangi-tanging mamamayan.                  
Nais kong matulad                                   
Kay Dr. Jose Rizal                                      
Sinisimulan ko                                           
Sa mabuting pag-aaral.                              

DR. JOSE RIZAL

Dr. Jose Rizal
Was a brave hero
He was a Savior  
To the Filipinos.
He sacrificed his life
For the Motherland
A great example of
A model citizen.
I want to be like
Dr. Jose Rizal
From here on I focus
On lessons and good morals. 

Copyright © J.Gi Federizo

First Time It was Published: HULING SIGAW

Day 24 of the #NaNoPoblano2021 challenge, now a.k.a. “NaDePoblano” (heee….) . Major Theme: “A Few of My Earliest Things”. New sub-theme: “First Published”. Related post: My Evolution as a Writer. Related page: Poetry Nook.

This is the first time I am sharing the poem here. However, the FIRST TIME IT WAS PUBLISHED was, of all things, in the official publication of the tertiary school I worked for. I don’t remember to whom I submitted it, but I know I asked if I could share a poem. The truth was I was not sure of my choice. I don’t remember why I chose it among all my poems. I think it was because it had not been published anywhere yet. My worry was the sensitive topic of the poem.

This is HULING SIGAW or LAST CRY (“cry” here means scream). If anyone tries to understand it enough, this person will realize it is related to suicide. Related, but not about the act of committing suicide itself. I was referring to the act of writing the suicide note, one’s final goodbye, her feelings of hopelessness and personal grief…I was worried because the publication was to be distributed to the staff, faculty and alumni. I didn’t want them to think that sharing it was my own cry for help.

I was not suicidal when I wrote it. In fact, on the contrary. I was SMILING when I wrote it. I don’t remember what inspired me to do so. But I remember my excitement when I was creating it. Let me make it clear, though. I was/am NOT advocating suicide, I was/am NOT suicidal. I guess it’s similar to a screenwriter who gets inspired writing a horror movie. He doesn’t necessarily like horrific things. See the point?

Anyway, I’m glad I pushed through with it. It made me proud because Mrs. Consolacion P. Sauco, the Filipino Department Head, loved it! She told me so when she saw me. I was so happy because she happened to be a well-respected author who’s an expert in the Filipino language. I can’t find an actual biography of hers, but Googling her shows the various stuff she wrote or translated. For her to give me praise for what I wrote was really something!

For anyone who understands Filipino, here it is. I have been trying to translate it in English for years but I never get to finish because I never get satisfied. I promise to share the English version once I actually translate it completely….By the way, to be more specific, I was the Public Relations and Advertising Assistant. They most times never got that right.