Friday, August 9, 2013

The Real Life Heroines

I graduated from an allgirl Catholic School in 1988. I, and a lot of my classmates started having reunions (formal and non-formal) when we celebrated our 20th year anniversary and have remained pretty close to each other. 

For our 25th anniversary reunion - Silver - we produced a souvenir program where I wrote one of the articles. 

I just want to share it here...

I am a writer. I have been a professional writer for so many years so this shouldn’t be hard, right? But it is. It is hard to collect my thoughts and even harder to put them on paper. Teacher Lorna said that I should write prose as befitting my other life as a romance writer. Yes, I am an arts manager, events producer by day (and certain nights) and romance writer any time in between the calls of duty for the day job. 

So, should I begin with the classic opening to all fairy tales?  After all, those tales were the first romantic stories we knew.

Once upon a time in a Kingdom far away…

Once upon a time we were sixteen.   We lived in a sheltered fairyland called Canossa College surrounded by beautiful trees and freshly painted blue walls and a quiet chapel where the nuns who took care of us prayed in silence or taught us religion and reflection.

And then, the wolf came and blew away the roofs and the walls of our fairy tale house of dreams until it’s just us and the big sky and the world and something bigger than we all have imagined – REALITY. We found out that there isn’t always a prince to come to our rescue. So we learned. And we grew stronger. And we grew more confident that no wolf could eat us because we have fortified our walls with something stronger than straw or wood or even concrete and it is called courage.

I never thought I would be a single mother.  I thought I was too smart for that. But at age twenty four, while working my way up the career ladder at a semi-dizzying pace, I found out I was pregnant. The world stopped.  Not a few people thought I was crazy to decide to refuse to marry (or allow the father to refuse to marry me depending on whose perspective) and raise a child on my own.  I had enough savings to stop working at month 6 and up, for maternity and maybe 2-3 months of after-birth expenses. But that was all. That and the love of a family who supported my decision.  After the mandatory rest, I stood and picked myself up from where the world stopped and started working again.

Sixteen years later, my son is in college, I enjoy a modest popularity as Angel Bautista the romance writer and I am a Program Director at one of the top theater companies in the Philippines.  I must say, I am better than ever.  On one hand, I am proud of those things. On the other, please believe that I say this with so much humility because the past 25 years have been filled with one lesson in humility after another.  I won’t tell you the details because you might cry and it would make my heart bleed again. For it has been a series of bloody battles I’ve been through.  I didn’t win them all though I promise I will eventually win the war. After all, I am the heroine of my own life.

So are you.

We are all heroines in our own life stories.

A bad example of a heroine is one whose character remains the same throughout an entire novel.  She is passive and uninteresting but she gets the boy in the end so we can cheer her for her good luck. A better heroine would be someone who emerges from nothing and wins it all in the end, including the love of the proverbial Prince Charming.  The greater heroine is someone who once had everything, loses it and finds it again. She creates a better dramatic arch.  She is the Princess who fell from grace and rose again.  She is the sheltered but feisty girl who gets her fragile heart beaten so many times but instead of dying or sleeping for years, would choose to be strong to take on all the challenges that came her way with flourish and grace.

The second heroine started out with nothing much to lose but the third one knows what’s at stake, what she needs to protect so she doesn’t lose them again. Reading her would be like a roller coaster ride – one moment on top of the world and the next crashing down and then up again. What the romance novels don’t tell us is that the best heroine of all  is the one who knew that she can find her happy ever after with or without (and maybe sometime better without) that handsome heroic alpha male of yore. Happiness, after all, is a choice.

A heroine of my soon to be published book in a series called THE REALITY SHOW, said this. “I used to define perfection by everything beautiful and right in my life. But now I know, perfection is in knowing that life isn't perfect but knowing too that you can live and be happy and continue to grow despite that. Perfection is the human capacity to heal despite the pain, to smile and find joy again despite the moments of sorrows, and to love despite imperfections.”

You are the heroine of your life. What’s your spin?

In book signing events or writers’ talk, I would invariably get asked: Where do you get your inspiration?

My response will always be this simple: from living and loving, and ultimately in deciding to find inspiration in everything that life and love has to offer.


Happy Silver Anniversary to us beautiful heroines of Batch ’88!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Korea in My Mind

I may be the worst blogger ever. Because sometimes, when I finally write about an experience, it's already history or a special food I had, the restaurant that served it either relocated or closed shop... you get the picture.

So I was trying to clear my desktop and found a note of what I was supposed to blog after my trip to Korea. From my first trip to Korea. And I've been there thrice already.  So yes, below is something that I wrote when I first visited Korea and which I wrote even before I submitted that book that some of you might have read - Seoul Searching.


Six-hour bus ride from Incheon Airport to Busan with two stops in bus stopovers that were bigger than some of our domestic airports. Tasting my very first fish cake.

Meeting one of college bestfriends after 18 years in her Busan home and  realizing how happy I was to be proven wrong. See, I was the biggest ‘kontrabida’ to her desire 18 years ago to fly to Korea to marry her Korean boyfriend. They looked so happy and their son so handsome that I know she couldn’t have made a better choice.

Picture taking in Hyeundae Beach.

Food: In Busan, we had Korean buffet on our first night and Korean Traditional lunch the second day. The table was filled with the most colorful, most interesting assortments of side dishes, including three kinds of kimchi. In Seoul, my favorite was the twice fried chicken in chili sauce and the bibimbap, especially mixed by the waiter who kinda reminded me of Franco (the rockstar). But we also tried street food like Kimbap and Chinese food and lots and the free spicy cup noodles and peanut butter

Culture: Museum in Busan with life-sized dioramas. Mountain Temple. Memorial park for heroes of the Korean War. Two palaces. Changing of the guards. Fashion show rehearsal in catwalk as wide as the Quiapo bridge.

Subway. Subway. Subway.  Must be led Navigator Miguel though who is lawyer, bar exams top 6, new –found friend and the latest must-have in our travel must-haves.

Shopping in Nandaemun (their version of Divisoria). Getting lost in rows and rows of fabrics in Dondaemun. Walking the colorful streets of Myeungdong for trinkets, beauty products and people-seeing.

Watching K-Pop in World Cup Stadium, the L2RH – us, wearing matching hoodies (supposedly couple hoodies) – Gay, Pam, Phil, Miguel, Em and me.

Namsan Tower. Hundreds of couples. Proposals in bent benches. Love notes and promises padlocked in fences and trees. Cable car a la MRT during rush hour.

Watching Korean reality tv in the morning, rolling on the floor laughing with Gay and Pam.

Warm Welcome at the Seoul Insitute of the Arts (where the Korean Drama, Heartstrings was supposedly shot and Boys Over Flowers’ Jandi  graduated) and a courtesy call to its president, Duk Yung  Yu (okay,  I probably misspelled the name). Lovely love campus.  Definitely going back there next year for their 50th anniversary. Campus tour. Classroom observation of  acting class (Dream High, it is) and scene analysis.

Nice people everywhere, teaching us where to go despite language limitations. Chats with ajussis and ahjummas in subway station benches.

Too little time. Haven’t drank soju in roadside restaurant. Haven’t had pictures taken with falling leaves. Haven’t slept in a sauna. Haven’t  been to videoke. Definitely going back. Soon.

And yes, I went back. Twice. I've experience Fall, Summer and Spring in that order. See you in Winter next.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter and a Manuscript called Heaven

Happy Easter!

Yay! It’s easter and I have just submitted a manuscript entitled, Heaven.

I had difficulty writing. And even more difficulty editing what I have written. I practically spent my holy week break doing it and I couldn’t seem to find the satisfaction in the manuscript – not in the story, not in the way I told the story.  At first I wasn’t sure why.  Then it finally occurred to me. I was pressuring myself to write according to what I thought was expected of me rather than going to the heart of the reasons why I write.  Because I want to write. Because I want to tell a story. 

I sat down and told myself, forget about everything – all the techniques, all the writing rules, stop second-guessing yourself, JUST TELL THE STORY YOU WANT TO TELL. 

I wanted to tell the story of this professional, responsible, self-sacrificing single woman who worked her way to the top and a self-entitled, playboy bum who only care about 2 things: himself and a beautiful garden called Heaven.   I want to tell the story of how the two of them, seemingly on the opposite poles could find each other, love each other, learn from each other and grow with each other.

I wrote for two days, deleting and editing most of what I have written already.

And finally, the girl who knew only how to love others learned to love herself as well and the man who seemed to have forgotten how to love others learned to do so  and in so doing, both of them found a miracle.

The end.


 I have written the story I wanted to tell. It’s now in the hands of the dear editor who will get to pick the MS in tomorrow’s draw.  And then, it will be in the hands of the readers who in the end will tell if I have succeeded in telling a good story.

 But for now, allow me to celebrate.  I have lost this storytelling self for a few months. And I welcome myself back.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

First of Summer City Getaway (Location: Luxent Hotel)


Holy Week normally marks the beginning of summer for me. Probably because there’s a long vacation that goes with it.  This year, we planned a May trip so there’s really nothing in the calendar late March, early April except a trip back to my hometown.  And as it has been particularly warm – no, sweltering, the past few days, we decided to pack our bags and spend the last half day of work and last day in Manila in a hotel. Hotels in Manila are quite cheap during this season because all city-people are planning out-of-city trips.

With two boys in tow – my son Pao and his cousin, Joman who is vacationing with us – friend, co-worker and condo-kapitbahay, Pam and I checked in new Quezon City Hotel – Luxent Hotel, which I think would be rated as a 3 Star Hotel.

I dropped off Pam to check in and went straight to work.  A few minutes after, I got this text saying: Room XX Perfect Beds. Kasya tayong apat. And true enough, the room was surprisingly spacious with two medium –sized beds.

The two boys made much ado about lounging out in the poolside. We called them teenagers na luma-lifestyle.  Pao said the pool looks really good.  Ditto the gym where he tried all equipment. 

Of course I never got to see both as I originally planned because – well, the bed inside the airconditioned room just looks (and feels) so much better.

Then there was the buffet breakfast. I was pretty excited about it. I have been on a strict calorie-counting diet for the past six weeks and a cheat day is something I’ve been really looking forward to. The buffet looked exciting enough and plentiful enough for me to call Pao (who was still snoozing in our room) four times to go down and join us for breakfast pronto.

I started with a cheese-topped roll, bacon, ham, pork and beans and coffee. The roll, and later on all the pastry stuff, turned out to be really good, with the crispiness of freshly-baked goodies on the outside and that soft, warm, fluffiness inside. The ham was the first disappointment . It was tough and really salty. And can I just say first that Pao loved two breakfast items  the most: bacon and pancake. So he saved those two for last and he went – “Blah, so disappointing.” The bacon was tasteless he said and the pancake could have used more eggs  (as in, to make it lighter) and the bottom was burnt too.  

On the upside, I ate the best tasting corned beef – ever. And I must repeat, all the pastries I tasted were worth every single calorie. And the coffee… I could drink that coffee without sugar or cream the whole day.

On the upper up side, although you can feel the bit of lack of confidence that usually comes with the ‘newness’ of everything, the staff were really nice and friendly.

Over-all rating   :               3.5/5
Value for money:             4.5/5

Will I check-in again? Definitely. Next time, I might even try out the pool and the gym. As for the breakfast – I can always get my money’s worth eating pastries, sipping gallons of coffee and having nothing else but corned beef for ulam.

(** Photo credits for hotel facilities: www.luxenthotel-quezoncity)

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Okay, this might be considered 'pandaraya' because this is really not a new blog post. I wrote it some two years ago. I knew I posted it somewhere. I was writing Paolo a Palanca letter for his retreat tomorrow and I thought of looking for this blog (for life lessons). I finally found it in multiply and we all know what happened to multiply and so I am reposting it here.

A letter to myself when I was eighteen

I know you wrote me several letters but I seemed to have lost them. I know too that you just gave out a sigh after reading that line and said, oh no, I have not changed. I still lose things. And I would not deny it. 

I lose things – that cassette tape that Brian bought for me because he composed one of the songs in it, the poetry and sketches I made during those insomniac nights when I broke up with Daymeon, the ring that Inay Marietta gave me (and to think she had that made from the broken pair of ruby earrings I can’t remember not having until the clasps broke when I, err, we were twelve). And you won’t believe how many men I have lost, hahaha, some were good riddance but a couple might be keepers, but who knows, right?

But you will be glad to know that I also found so many things. I found out that our mom was too protective because she cared too much. I found out that I am actually tougher than anyone thought, including you.

I did not become a doctor nor a food technologist. Bobby’s prediction that I would someday be Binibining Pilipinas did not come true (ha!). Instead, I became so many things: actress, writer, events manager, marketing director, researcher… I know, you only wanted to be the first two. I quit acting not long after college. I am sorry. I know you will tell me – "No! I cannot imagine life if I am not acting anymore." But see, that wasn’t for me anymore.

I still write. Yes, I write and that should make you happy. Cherry said I am a better writer than you were but I guess that’s because you were distracted by all those chemistry classes and I am gifted with what you do not yet have – experiences.

I have cried harder, laughed harder, had my heart broken, mended, broken again. I have said goodbyes to people I love – Inay Mayet, Daddy Sarge. But I have also welcome in my life, people that I will love and love greatly – Paolo and his cousins, Joman and Ira.

And this is why I think I am in the position to tell you now these advice:

It is okay to be different – The world would be a terribly boring place if all the fruits in the world were apples. So be the actress who dresses differently. Be the poet who scribbles poetry in Food Science Lab. For god’s sake, be emo when you want to be. And it is okay  if you don’t ever comb your hair if you don't feel like it. Be yourself. People I meet now who you thought didn’t like you because you were too eccentric for them actually have good memories of you so don’t worry (if you mind their opinion too much. Do you? I can’t remember.)

Be Open – Try to get out of your safe, little theater clique and your precious CVG friends. There are so many interesting people you could get to know and like. Remember that guy you actually snubbed in Com I? And he turned out to be such a great leader and activist that TV reporters are running after him all the time. You would have learned a lot from him if you gave him half the chance.

The world does not revolve around you -  I see no reason to explain that. You are intelligent, go figure it out.

Be Patient  - I know you want to achieve so many things and you want to achieve them all NOW and that isn’t really a bad thing. But please take your time. Enjoy your youth. Know that there is a perfect time and perfect place for everything.

And having said all that, I want to remind you to be kind to yourself.

You will commit mistakes, you will make bad decisions but know that if your heart is in the right place, things will turn out alright, you will be okay.

In case you are wondering how I am...

I am okay. I think I am the kind of person I will like at times, dislike at times but will always love. I have managed to make the correct exits in the many times I have made wrong entrances. I have managed to make lemonades when life was handing me lemons. And I have shared those lemonades with the friends I now value like they are family and you know that then and now, there is nothing I value more than my family.

And I still write. And I will continue to write.

I still see a long journey up ahead. I will still go the way that my heart and mind will lead me to. Yes, heart and mind both because I feel and think that life should be a balance of intellect and emotion.

And please know that wherever this journey may take me, I will always remember you in that moment when you were walking down Vinzon’s hall towards Sunken Garden....

 Your hair was uncombed, you were feeling all sweaty but you had no care in the world and were actually half-smiling to yourself because you were remembering something nice and then you saw a friend and you smiled wider before you come to her side and she said, “Kanina pa kita tinitingnan. Ang ganda mo.” 

If you are asking why that moment. Is it because of vanity? Not at all. It is because it is a reminder that at a time when you didn’t care, at a time when you might not even be aware of it, the  genuine happiness in your heart will always be the one thing that makes you beautiful.

Monday, December 31, 2012

My New Year List

I’ve never really written a list of new year’s resolutions.  Traditionally, I write a thank you list for all the things that I, well, should be grateful for. But 2012 has been a year of bad negating the good and the good negating the bad for me so I’m only grateful that I came out alright in a fair neutral ground of okay-ness.

I was looking at the mirror this morning – longer than I usually do and realized one thing: darn, I am getting old.  And with that realization came a feeling of immediacy to do things and do them SOON. Thus, I’m now listing the things I hope to do in 2013 (in no particular order).

1. Learn how to drive.  I’m probably the only one in my family who can’t. This year, I must find time and patience to actually get behind that steering wheel.  Get a driver’s license too.

2. Get on that top 5 of PHR most prolific. Seriously. I write so few books that I get impatient waiting for my own book release. While I have no intention of doing a la most prolific queen Camilla, top 5 will be a nice place to be in. I really should start this by writing those 3 assignments from the 2 seasons of writers’ brainstorming, finishing TRS, GIS girls and that VG5 series.

3. Do that backpacking trip from Manila to Tuguegarao and back through Ilocos with Pao.

4. Get those credit card balances down to zero. Among other things.

5. Be healthier: Diet and exercise. Lose XX lbs (utang na loob, I’m not revealing the actual numbers here).

6. Condo is three years old and I haven’t done anything really but live and eat and sleep in it. Time to renovate and decorate. Summer it is.

7. Save enough to take mommy on another out-of-the-country trip for Christmas.

8. Take things a little slow at work.  Know that the world won’t end and the company won’t collapse if I file a sick leave when I’m actually sick or a vacation leave when I actually need to breathe.  Don’t  feel guilty when faced with a Sunday with nothing to do but watch television.  Rediscover the value of ‘pagtunganga’ in the general scheme of things.

9. Watch more movies with Pao (less the popcorn and coke). Get back that sueldo weekend day-out with him.  Don’t forget Enchanted Kingdom.

10. Take more pictures. Record more videos. Finally finish that scrapbook that’s been sitting on the bedside table cabinet for the last ten years.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Let me start again..

I really want to maintain a blog site. I swear. But it has always been one of those things for me – like buying a new notebook and the best writing pen every so often to start a journal and then quitting after a few pages for reasons ranging from too busy at work to simply nakakakatamad lang. So it’s the end of the year and in a few nights the new year will begin. I’m changing tactic here. I am starting a blog at the end of the year in the hope that it will ‘unjinx’ my blog writing dream. 

 My first block : I am confused as to what blog host I should use. I figured I will just use the easiest one. Next block: the TITLE. This is not my strong point. I mean, I’ve maintained a multiply site for a few years and up to the time when multiply decided to change business strat, my site remained to be titled UNTITLED. Very creative for a writer, right? So this time I decided to name my site Angel… well, because my PHR pen name is Angel Bautista. I tell myself it’s simply for easy access. But it’s really so I can stop obsessing about the title and actually do some blog writing, And then when I finally am ready to register I discovered I already opened a site – in 2010 but I never got to writing anything beyond the intro *insert buntunghininga. 

So now that I actually have a blog, I ask myself what do I really want a blog for? I want to write . Maybe I won’t ever be an online critic of any sort – food, books, movie, theater nor will I ever have a ‘must visit site’ for travelers. I’ve been known to take some nice snapshots but professional photographer I am most definitely not. Speaking of photos - I like taking close up shots of people smiling or frowning or sleeping. I like taking photos of side streets and coffee mugs and bodies of water. So maybe this is what this blog will be all about – word versions (since I may be a better writer than photographer) of the most striking place/ people/ food/ experience/ movie/ book for the day. So there you have it folks, my new blog. I want to say enjoy reading but I know that I should be saying wish me luck.