climb

penmanship, with apologies to butch dalisay


writing my thoughts on my batanes trip in long hand
lately i’ve been receiving a lot of flattering comments about my penmanship, and although i will admit that i am my handwriting’s biggest fan, there is also a bit of embarrassment there since i don’t want to attract this kind of attention. when i post photos of my notes, i actually want to talk about what i’ve written, instead of how i’ve written it. i don’t want people to think that i am simply showing off how much better my pen glides over paper. because if you ask me, i am also my biggest critic, and there are also times when i’m disgusted by how illegible my longhand is. it was probably back in high school when people started to notice that i my handwriting is “neat”, though i will tell you now that i had a classmate who could have easily trumped me in that department. in fact, i consciously tried to copy the way he wrote since i saw it as an ideal.


in law school, classmates liked to photocopy my notes because they were filled with doodles, and one even told me after the bar results were released, that i passed because of the beauty of my handwriting
later in college, a period when computers were already available but not as widespread as they are now, we prepared classroom reports by hand, and wrote on large spreads of manila paper. more than once my classmates would point out what i still didn’t believe then, telling me that my handwriting resembled a font, or at least should be one. i almost always laughed it off, because i remember being a rebel in elementary school, refusing to write in script even with a threat of losing my place in the honor roll. i insisted on writing in block letters, and several of my classmates followed suit that my teacher had to relent. i couldn’t write script if my life depended on it, to be honest, and now that i’m trying all types of calligraphy, i am re-learning what i’ve ignored for more than 30 years.


my blog entry on the mount ugo climb from 2K13's TC3
the attention to my handwriting has peaked recently when someone i know actually asked for a page from my notes back in law school. she said she liked it so much and wanted to frame it. i was shocked, because i never thought my notes were worthy of hanging from anyone’s wall, not even mine. so one might understand why i consider the attention a source of a little embarrassment. since i am sure there are others out there with better, neater, more elaborate handwriting, unlike mine, which is just a result of being envious of others, and years of practice with fountain pens and unruled paper.


grabbed whatever was available
perhaps one of the things that get noticed immediately is how i manage to write in a straight line when there is nothing on paper to guide me. i’m afraid i can’t answer that question, but i will tell you this: my handwriting is influenced as much by my mood as it is by the pen i’m using. to prove this, i did an experiment, by writing a sentence in as many different pens as was available within easy reach. the result is interesting. i tried, as much as possible, to be less conscious about the fact that i was going to post it, and focused more on the natural glide of my hand. i decided to write the first sentence of gabriel garcía márquez’s “love in the time of cholera”, because i’ve committed it to memory, it was the first thing that came to mind, and it’s so much better than the one about a big brown fox.


like i said i tried to be unaware of the fact that this was going to be posted, but of course you can’t help but be a little aware. although as you can see, my handwriting when i’m conscious about it being seen or read by anyone else is also very different: it’s so much neater, but also looks rehearsed, unnatural.


at the end of the day, before i leave the office, i write the things i need to prioritize the following day, a feature that's also available on outlook, and all these productivity apps on my iPhone

my normal, everyday penmanship is very relaxed and i guess comfortable. i write still in block letters, with some elements of script, looping l’s and f’s and e’s, connecting as many letters as i can without looking like the product of an all-girls catholic school.


a typical pre-climb checklist for a four-day affair in kibungan
one might also ask why i prefer to write in long hand when i’m also a very good typist. i think that writing longhand helps me organize my thoughts better, plus i find the exercise therapeutic. i haven’t studied whether i’m able to translate my thoughts faster when i’m on a keyboard or when i’m armed with a pen, but i will tell you this: i still keep a paper planner, still write down my grocery list, always prepare checklists before a major trip, even write some of my blog entries before typing them again later.

kindly forgive the petty subject matter, the pretentious style, and the horrendous grammar: i was 17 years old when i wrote the page on the left, 19 on the right. i'm trying to illustrate how my handwriting has evolved, but i guess it is also clear that my writing style has matured.
i’m sure some of you may have come across this article about how smarter people write things down. i wasn’t aware of that before: i don’t prefer to write down things to make people think i’m smarter, nor do i think it will make me smarter. quite simply, it’s just something that i’ve gotten used to, one of those things i tend to do like a reflex, something that feels natural. i’m extremely pleased people like my penmanship. it’s a source of flattery unlike any other, and i am thankful, because in a way, people appreciate something i actually unconsciously worked hard to improve. i have a journal from way back in high school, and anyone will see how my hand has vastly improved. last year, i finally decided to seriously pursue dip pen and brush calligraphy. i’m still deeply disappointed with how little i’ve achieved in getting better. but as the above handwriting samples will show, one doesn’t get better overnight. not even a year. as i’ve told someone who said my penmanship was “nakakaloka”, it takes patience, and lots and lots of practice. and that’s exactly what i intend to do.