In my twenties, I usually found time to go to a Prayer Mountain in Antipolo City about 25 miles east of Manila. I would stay overnight to think, pray, and discern my direction and areas of growth. I considered that my personal retreat, which helped clear my mind and reaffirm my commitment to my sense of calling.
My thirties, though, which is about to end, feel crazy busy and fast; I sometimes feel like I’m drowning in responsibilities between family, work, my master’s degree, and other personal projects here and there. Did I mention that we have three sons, two of them are under the age of 4! I feel like I need to hit pause, recharge, and take stock of how I want to spend the next decade of my life.
Thankfully, I am going on a Sabbatical for 45 days!
Continue reading “I’m Going on a Sabbatical and Here’s My Plan”
My last paper-based planner-journal was the one I got from Starbucks after drinking too many cups of expensive, oftentimes sweet, coffee in 2011. After that, I saw the power of Google Calendar on my browser and on my Android phone. So I went full digital and ditched my paper-based planner. It wasn’t too difficult to train myself to adjust to a full digital planner and calendar.
Enter appointments on the app and it syncs everywhere!
If I had an upcoming meeting, deadlines, or any appointment, I just swipe my smartphone open, pick the date and time with a description of the appointment and it syncs with all the devices where I installed the calendar app. For the record, I have only ever used Google Calendar since then. I use Outlook’s calendar every now and then for work, but that’s the only setting where I use another calendar app.
Continue reading “My DIY Productivity Journal”
I have published 3 books in the Philippines since 2013. It was a long journey, but totally worth it. Here are a few reflections on the craft and journey of writing and publishing.
I remember loving books even as a young boy. My parents are ordained pastors, which meant that if there were church events and conferences, they tagged me along. Because those events meant lots and lots of meetings, my father usually let me buy a book or two from the book display outside the church where the conference was being held.
While other pastors’ kids my age would be chasing each other and playing in the playground and yard of the church, I would find a nice place to sit and read the book that I recently bought. I thought nothing of it then, but looking back, I must have looked like a nerd with a book sitting in a corner while the other kids played.
During second grade, our teacher once let us organize three sacks full of books. We opened one sack after another and discovered a hundred or so books from the USA. I didn’t understand a lot of the social context of the books, then, because they talk about life in the USA. But I distinctly remember looking at the black-and-white illustration and text of those books, the musty smell of old books, and the worlds and meanings that those words represented.
It felt like heaven for a second grader.
Continue reading “My beginnings in writing and publishing”
It took me two (2) years to finish the draft of my first book. I started writing it in early 2012 and finished the final draft in late 2013. By that time, it was ready for publication. It was edited by my good friend Butch, the same guy who introduced me to all the wonders of Lord of the Rings and helped me dive deeper into literature and writing.
Earlie, another good friend of mine, was working then as the publishing coordinator of a small startup publisher connected to our church. I filled out the book proposal form. It was approved and went to the press towards the end of 2013. By early 2014, it was out. Since my publisher was a startup, it didn’t have a good distribution network yet. So selling the book became a challenge.
Nonetheless, I learned so much from the process. More than that, it gave me confidence in my ability to write and to assemble my material into a publishable format. Although I have published a book, I continued to write and looked for ways to expand the materials that could eventually be used for a book.
Continue reading “How I Published 3 Books in 3 Years”
It was almost an accident. I went back to my home province after college graduation. Then I met a friend of mine. He is older than I and he used to be a pastor. But he encouraged me to attend a meeting of writers in our province. I tagged along and attended a couple of meetings.
I didn’t really expect that anything would come out of it. They had self-published books containing poetry and short stories in our native tongue–Ilokano.
I could read my Ilokano Bible well enough and speak the language well enough but I did not have the skills needed to craft beautiful sentences in Ilokano. My education was thoroughly national–with Tagalog and English really dominating my communication skills.
Back in College, I took several English classes as my cognates. I took 3 units of Introductory Poetry and 3 more units of Business English. These weren’t really enough to bring my English writing skills through the roof. But I compensated by reading a lot, writing a bit, and joining our college newsletter as a contributor.
I have written some poetry that may or may not have shown some promise. At least it was included in the Literary Folio of our college.
Continue reading “Why I Write in My Native Tongue: Ilokano”
When I was younger, I thought of writers as near-mythical figures who would stare out into space, get inspiration, then start typing out awesome words, sentences, and paragraphs while huddled on their typewriters.
And when I was in College, I thought that writers got to sit at a café looking intently focused, concentrating in front of their palm top devices or laptops while drinking expensive coffee, and looking like sophisticated city dwellers.
I certainly paid my share of expensive coffee, though, I’m not sure if I fit the sophisticated city dweller image. Now that I have published three books (ahem!), I probably have some right to call myself a writer. So if you’re wondering what writers look like, look at my Facebook photos. We are normal looking, though whether we are actually normal people may be debatable.
The main criterion for being called a writer is that you write–a sentence at a time, a paragraph at a time, and then a book if you can manage it. But if you’re wondering about tools, systems, and processes that writers follow, here’s mine. I can’t really speak for other writers, so I hope that this could help you get started.
Continue reading “Tools and Systems I Use for Writing”
I generally write about my own experiences, things that capture my interests, some solution to my personal problems, and anything that I get curious about. Since my area of work is related to young people, I have written a lot about young people and the issue they face in the past few years.
Sometimes, though, I confess that I also wait for the proverbial muse to come to me and inspire me to write. But if I waited for the muse to come every time I wrote, then I would have written only a couple of hundred words. And I would spend a lot of my time waiting and staring into space.
One of the best advice I heard about writing is “Get your butt on a chair, open your computer, and just start writing!”
It’s not romantic or profound, or earth-shaking. In fact, it is very practical and downright basic.
If you are a writer; if you want to be a writer, then you better start writing!
Continue reading “My Writing Process”
At about 4:45 am on Sunday, 18 Nov 2018, my wife woke me up and told me “It’s time!”
I got up quickly and wiped away all traces of sleep from my eyes. Our second child was on his 39th week in the womb and we have waited a long time for this moment.
Cha then woke up Coco and asked him to prepare to leave. Thankfully, a friend of ours–another Filipino family in our apartment compound knew about Cha’s situation and agreed to take care of him while we are at the hospital.
Over the past several months, we have tried to prepare Coco for the day that we will leave him at a friend’s house. When that time came, he picked up his toothbrush, toothpaste, and a bunch of other toiletries as we were leaving. Our bags were already packed and in the car, so we simply left the other toiletries that Coco brought out.
We arrived at the hospital and the nurses started monitoring her vital signs. Before long, we checked in to her room.
Continue reading “Caspian is Home and We’re Learning How to Care for an Infant in the USA”
It must have been my third job after college. I was earning a good amount of money. With my responsibilities, I expected to be promoted within a year after starting.
There was a catch, though. I had to resign.
Continue reading “Jumping Off Cliffs: Remembering My First Big Risk as a Young Adult”
It’s 12:46 am and we have just finished folding and packing away our laundry. We moved to a new apartment barely a week ago, so the house is still a mess.
We are slowly bringing order to our stuff. In 2015, my wife, son, and I arrived with five large suitcases and two boxes. Four years later, we have enough stuff to fill a three-bedroom apartment!
I didn’t mean to write about moving–though I have moved houses more than I care for since I was a child. But this just goes to show how hectic life could be with two young kids at home.
Continue reading “Being parents of young kids can be overwhelming”