This is more for myself than anyone else.
I was born in General Santos City, South Cotabato in 1987. My father was (and still is, really) an engineer at Dole Phils., Inc., and my mother, a homemaker overqualified for the local job market at the time.
I went to Dole Philippines School, which some people remember as an international school (it isn't anymore) and others think is in Bukidnon (which I will always rebut, and often vehemently).
After I finished first grade, my dad got a transfer to the Dole Fruit & Nut Co. in Fresno, California. We lived there for three years.
I often wonder if that time period is too brief for me to still have an accent, but there were other factors:
- English was my first language.
- Even before we left for the States, most of my playmates were Americans and/or English-speaking Filipinos.
- No one else my age spoke Filipino when we went to the States, not even the kids at the Filipino church we attended (where the service was in English).
- The three years abroad were what child development folks consider part of a person's formative years.
- When we returned, it was to a place where few people spoke Filipino/Tagalog; the local vernacular was either Bisaya or Ilonggo.
- When we returned, Americans and/or English-speaking Filipinos were the ones who were most friendly to me. I quickly associated the vernacular with bullies and so wasn't keen to be like them.
- All of the young adult books in our school library were in English.
- The only teacher who gave me one-on-one help in learning the national language was my Grade Five teacher, the first Filipino teacher I had upon returning to Kalsangi--which is probably why my grasp of the language is still Fourth-Grade-level.
- I wasn't an attentive student. Sometimes, I would look away from the board for a moment and then look back, only to find that it had completely changed--plus 20 minutes had gone by. I was really more interested in library books, computers, and imagining pulpy stories than in studying for any subject, much less Filipino.
- I was consistently in the top three of my class (I usually was and eventually graduated #3), so I didn't really feel pressured to work any harder.
We came home. When I wasn't out with friends or holed up somewhere reading, I was outside--biking, hiking, climbing trees, and swimming.
In my senior year of high school, I read a spare copy of "The Purpose-Driven Life" lying around the house and gave my life to Jesus.
I went to the Ateneo de Manila University for college. The greater brains, talent, and/or initiative shown by many of my batchmates there made me feel worthless. Church, prayer, journalling, blogging, books, philosophy and theology classes, shifting out of the School of Management, and joining the school's literary publication put me back on my feet.
In senior year, I became disenchanted with the church I was attending and frustrated that it didn't have adequate answers to my questions.
I read an essay by a guy I hadn't met yet and, under some compulsion, had an imaginary conversation with him while alone in my dorm room that night.
I graduated from college and got my first job at a different church, for two reasons: I was getting desperate, as there weren't many job openings that weren't outsourcing- , broadcasting- , or sales/marketing-related, and I wanted to see if this church might have the answers I sought.
After one year, I left, also for two reasons: I wanted to write more, but more importantly, my beliefs had become increasingly liberal. It was clear to me that my beliefs (and questions) didn't fit in with the teachings and culture of that church--or any other I had attended thus far--and that my employers deserved someone who truly shared their vision. I left as quietly as I could, without telling anyone there of my second reason, because I was afraid of being judged.
Between graduation and early this year, my self-esteem went up and down in what's fashionably known as a quarterlife crisis but could generally be described as me feeling wasted and rootless. I missed home with my family, fresh air, grass you didn't have to keep off, trees, insects, nearby sea, and big sky. I also fidgeted for something to keep me busy outside of books and writing (I've been too drained by work), until I found a craft I could really enjoy.
Also between graduation and early this year, I was reintroduced to the guy who wrote the essay I'd read and, over the course of the next few weeks, heard the other half of that imaginary conversation. We've been together two years, four months, and six days. Among many good things, he's helped me to believe in myself again.
A few months ago, I went to Singapore for a week with my family, and for some reason, I'm still not over it.
I have been working at this company for nearly two years (full come September). Last month, I was promoted to assistant editor.
Today, I'm bracing myself now for more changes at work. I'm looking forward to catching up with my brother and moving to a bigger apartment. I'm taking things with Martin as they come. I hope to get better at my new craft. I'm still unchurched, but secure in my faith. I still miss home or long for places like Singapore, but it doesn't get to me as it used to. I try not to regret my "wasted" youth, because it isn't over yet.
All things considered, I am happy, and thankful.