20 days

random rumination number 8 - poverty
i just read an article in business mirror which says that the average pinoy worker has to work 81 minutes to be able to buy a big mac, longer by comparison to most countries except indonesia. the point of the study is not to show that big macs are overpriced here, but that compared to many of our neighbors, our purchasing powers aren't all that great. this isn't alarming news really. but it got me to think about poverty, albeit not necessarily on a macro perspective, but from a more intimate, personal level. nearly everyone might say that he or she is poor to a certain extent, and this just goes to show just how subjective the ascriptions we make to poverty are. this often dilutes the profound misery that is both the cause and the root of much of the rut this country suffers, but i find it ultimately callous and insensitive when people who are obviously better off than most say that they are impoverished. i say this not because my hearts bleeds for the poor, but because i am one of them. and i say this with complete honesty.

since many years ago, and until now to some extent, i wouldn't go into great detail about how poor my family is, mainly because i didn't want people to take pity on me, and partly because people wouldn't believe me. the unbelievable part isn't because i pretend to be well-off, but due i guess to the fact that i don't sound poor at all. i speak very well, and my english is of a kind that might be mistaken as a sign of affluence. but that's not quite accurate, and nothing can be farther from the fact: i am poor. or at least, i used to be very poor, not that i am rich now, but then again, i would probably have worked longer to buy a big mac years ago.

here are some facts: if i didn't get a scholarship throughout my 8 years in college, i probably would not have finished. truth is, i worked hard to get the scholarships because there was no way my studies could've been sustained. and in many of these 8 years, i have had to work part-time as a student assistant, earning, at the start, as measly as P12 an hour. during the first month of my freshman year in law school, my allowance was eaten up by the cost of photocopying cases and readings. sometimes, when the need to stay in the library outweighed the craving to go home for a good meal, i would barely have enough to have a decent lunch, that i would settle for a stick of banana cue. there were also several instances when i have had to pass up on opportunities simply because there was no way i could afford them.

i could cite other instances of just how poor i am (or was), but i am not campaigning for an elective post, and i am not rich enough to declare them with conviction. in a way, i am still a little embarrassed by my poverty, that i have asked God on occasion: why am i poor?

random rumination number 9 - work
i have not much to say about work, except that it isn't exactly what i imagined i would be doing when i first went to law school. as with most things, my interests are fleeting and ever-changing. i have tried different things: litigation work with 2 decent law firms, environmental NGO work, government servitude (hehe), and now this. it's something i can't even begin to describe, even to myself. to be honest, i find the work a little boring, as it nails me to my seat, staring at a PC screen for at least 8 hours a day. gone are the dynamism and excitement of NGO and government work which kept me mobile. seldom now will i encounter the intellectual challenge of preparing pleadings and arguing in courtrooms. but i am remunerated more than justly, almost as much as i was when i was with a firm, but without many of the toxic things that drove me away from traditional legal practice. assuming i didn''t have an LlB, however, i think i could still do 95% of the work that i perform, but it's likely i'd be paid half of what i earn now. just last week, my status has been elevated to regular. since i started working in 2002, i have never had a probationary period. and surprisingly, i passed it without my mind changing too soon.

i'm still holding on to much of what my boss and i discussed during my interview. i hope they take place soon, else...

random rumination number 10 - career
i haven't finally decided what career i would like to pursue. when i was about to finish high school, i was interested in becoming an engineer. or a broadcaster. but my lack of aptitude in math blew the first dream, and the second just disappeared from my consciousness. then i attended college and was certain that i wanted to become a writer and a professor of english. but i realized that these weren't practical at all, so i went to law school. i knew, somehow, that i wanted to work in an international NGO, working for human rights, which later evolved into environmental rights. i never did want to become a legal star, although i fancied myself a legal scholar. now, with what i am doing, none of these things seems to be on track. there's a part of me that still wants to write, another to travel, and yet another to take pictures, that i would want to fashion myself a travel writer. i have tried that as well, with much success, but i've also realized that it's difficult to penetrate the mainstream market, which is populated by mediocre circles of friends with very little talent.

i once took a career test back in college, and based on the results, the guidance counselor told me that my interests pointed to being either a physical therapist or a teacher. seriously! i think, with my people skills and my ability to smooth talk and charm others, i ought to be in sales and marketing.

what, really, is in store for me?
i think you should continue to write
my own two cents. u write long things that i bother to read. he he.
your travel accounts are pretty good.

"i've also realized that it's difficult to penetrate the mainstream market, which is populated by mediocre circles of friends with very little talent."

oh boy do i hear you. and it's not just in the travel writing market. he he he. keep on writing though. i think mainstream papers are gonna realize that very few people read those mainstream travel writers and that blogs are more authentic (and better quality) for now. same deal goes to different extents for food reviews, political analysis, etc.
Re: i think you should continue to write
thanks fabs. sometimes, my own entries are too long that i don't bother to re-read them (so that's a general excuse for all of the errors in the use of the language). haha. i just like writing, it's sort of an exercise for me: just when you think you can't go further, you suddenly discover some kind of second wind.

i contributed very briefly for a couple of magazines, and my articles were very well received. but, when i wanted to tap into the bigger (i.e., higher-paying) publications, they weren't interested in getting more writers. it's almost shocking the quality of travelogues (and you're right, it's not just in travel writing, but in criticism, political analysis, etc.) that get printed. i am aghast!
Re: i think you should continue to write
you might consider making a blog archiving all your travel writing. accompany them w/ some photos. i think when you write you're good in that you don't make it sound pretentious (at least as far as i remember), but it still is intelligent.

good writing, good photos, good blog. you'll get a following. and once that happens higher paying publications are gonna want you...i know some bloggers who should be paid for what they do

true environmental and NGO work is exciting but does pay much. on the other hand, corporate work may be a bit boring but it pays. life is a series of trade offs. you just have to find what you can live with.