Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Blog

Yeah, so I finally put up a new blog. I'm still working on it, actually. There are still quite a few things that I want to do with it. But it didn't feel right to continue posting here anymore so I decided to open the new one.

Here it is:


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Bakasyon Na 'To!

At matapos ang tatlong taon, nakauwi din ako sa aking pinakamamahal na hometown.

Pasintabi po sa mga naka DSLR. Samsung Jet lang ang pinangkuha ko sa mga to.

Happy Holidays everyone! =)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Story of My Blog

This will be quite long, but I hope you will read it to the end.

I haven’t really told you how I started this blog. Well I have, partly, but I want to tell about it anyway so here’s the whole story. It actually started with me spying on my ex’s blog; “spying” because I was not allowed to read it. It was supposed to be his personal space, one of the very few parts of his world where I was kept out. But when I got a job and had to live away from him, it started to feel like the parts of his world that I was allowed in were slowly shrinking.  So I decided to snoop around in the restricted areas.

One day, I decided that I did not only want to read what he writes, but also what he reads, so I followed the links in his blog roll. I remember coming across citybuoy and desoleboy from there. I read those blogs and, when I was done, went on to click on the links in their lists. I tend to do that a lot: follow links. I’d often read a Wikipedia article and find myself clicking on links and reading articles for the next few hours. My boss would attest to that.

My blog-hopping later led me to Darc’s place. The title was intriguing: “I Fell in Love with a Cyber-celebrity”.

It instantly reminded me of Agent Boytoy and his die-hard groupies.  I read Darc’s latest entry, expecting to read stalker thoughts, but it was about an old woman selling vegetables. I was confused, so I figured I should back-read to learn how the cyber-celebrity topic led to the old woman.  Before the day ended, I had read every single post. Never mind that he did not say much about the cyber-celebrity, he was a brilliant writer. I was hooked. I was a fan. I thought, “Shet, ang galing niya mag-English!”, and that became the first push for me. I had been severely out of practice at writing and my English was getting really rusty. Blogging seemed to be a good way to fix that.


Another reason behind the blog was my job. You see, I work as a programmer for the Marketing Department of a company that sells car parts through an e-commerce site. If you got lost in that last sentence, the only important keywords are “Marketing” and “e-commerce site”, which means making money through websites. For those of you who are familiar with the techniques, yes, that means SEO, web measurement, content, user experience, etc. 

My job works this way: the people from marketing decide that a new feature, for instance, a new banner, could help increase sales so they make one. Then they give it to me and I put it on the site. The problem there is that I am not part of coming up with the strategies, I only implement them; therefore I have little idea on how to use the techniques. Once again, blogging seemed to be a good way to practice. I knew the techniques; I just needed a site to use them on. If I do it right, I can increase the traffic of my blog. Then I can place ads. Ka-ching.

The final push came with the breakup. This is the part that some of you may know about. When ex poured his heart out in his posts, his followers posted words of support and encouragement. There’s nothing wrong with that, except that some of those words were blows directed to me. Nobody knew about me back then. I was just a character in my ex’s story. That’s why it was so easy for people to say things like “He’s not worth it” and “You deserve someone better”. I was like, “What the hell? These people don’t even know the whole story. They don’t even know me, and they’re saying that I’m no good?” I could not really blame them though. It was not their fault that they only knew one side. That was when I finally decided to put up my own blog. I was going to tell my side. I was going to write about myself and about the story from my point of view. Then, when I saw that they already knew me enough to make a proper judgement, I was going to introduce myself as the ex.

And so I signed up for blogger. That was the easy part. Thinking of a title and a display name proved to be a lot more difficult. For the personal part, I had to think of a name and a title that will tell my story in nutshell. For marketing purposes, they should be intriguing enough to make people want to read. That’s how I came up with “Ex Jason” and “His Worthless Ex”. Not my best, I know, but they were the best I can come up with. And they were enough to serve their purpose. I hope.

I got to work once everything was set up. My first three entries were my version of the break-up. The ones after that were stuff about me interspersed with break-up emoness. Everything was in English of course. By the third entry, I had people commenting about how I had a skill for writing. Ha! If you guys only knew just how many times I revise my entries before I publish them. Heck, I even edit them after. But I really appreciate the compliments. That’s one thing I really like about the people here: everyone is generous with compliments, even the best writers.

I was telling my side and I was practicing my English, now I had to market my blog. The most basic way to do that, of course, is to build links. I walked around the blogosphere, following and commenting on every blog that caught my interest. Soon, though, marketing became just my secondary reason for doing that. In my blog-hopping, I discovered just how much talent there was in this community. Honestly, I used to think somehow that majority of bloggers were just like gamers: people who had little life beyond the PC chair. As it turned out, I was mistaken. Everyone had his or her own genuinely interesting story to tell. Bloggers, I realized, are people who live amazing lives and tell about them. The amazing life is a prerequisite; otherwise there would be nothing to tell.

Everything worked out as planned. I gained followers and the number of page views I got rose steadily, which means that the marketing side was doing good. Good for a newbie, anyway. I was still nowhere near as good as the pros, but it was enough learning experience. With regard to my goal of improving my English, I got help from a few of the good writers. I also got good feedback, a lot better than what I expected. For the telling-my-side part, people, even those who told my ex that his ex was worthless, started to understand my side, or at least that was what they said in their comments. I think this was thanks in part to the recently released song by Juris.

Needless to say, putting up this blog and writing those entries have been a great experience. However, I think it has already served its main purpose, which was to tell my side. I had already revealed myself three months ago. The breakup is now a thing of the distant past and there will be no more need to write about it. Also, I realized that I can’t use this blog as the rat for my marketing experiments because it does not sell anything. I will have to practice on some other site that has a more clearly-defined niche.

So, is this another phony farewell post? Don’t worry, it’s not. I will not stop blogging. Why should I? I still have a lot of stories to tell! But they no longer need to be told under this blog’s title. I’m going to make a new blog. This time I will have no other purpose other than to share bits of my life. No more half-assed attempts at marketing. And this time, it will no longer have the word “Ex” attached to it. I don’t yet know exactly when this is going to happen. I will be pretty busy these coming days, so it will probably be next year, which means I will be posting a few more times here before I move.

Whatever the case, I really hope you will still follow my new blog when it finally happens. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Top 10: Short Stories

Ha! I had a lot of fun putting this list together. I’m not really much of a reader, but I was lucky that we were required to read some really good short stories (mostly written by Filipino writers) when I was in high school. Eight of the stories here were from back then and reading them again after a long time brought back a lot of memories. I remember how we discussed them in class and how intense those discussions sometimes went.

I won’t give out summaries and critiques because (1) I don’t want to spoil anyone, and (2) I’m not really a very reliable critic and I would not want to influence anyone with my inept assessments. I found links though so you can read them if you like. These short stories are actually not that short so they will consume a bit of your time, but they are worth reading.

My Top Ten Favorite Short Stories

10. Ang Kalupi by Benjamin Pascual

This was used by a schoolmate for her “doble-kara” monologue. She played the part of Aling Marta and little Andres. Of course, she played Andres as a girl, so I suppose it was an Andrea. I found the story later in a textbook and I swear I felt like bitch-slapping Aling Marta after I read it. Isang giant echoserang frog!

9. Yumayapos Ang Takipsilim by Genoveva Edroza Matute

A very sad story about how people who used to love you and whom you used to take care of will eventually see you as nothing but a useless weight bag. To be more specific, about how parents get left behind. This story hit me hard because I was so close to my mother and I could not imagine this happening to her. Once again, it's the rainbow bond between gay guys and their moms. Unfortunately, I can't find a copy of this online. I have a book but I don't want to be sued for IP. I expect most of you have read this, though. This is a pretty common story in HS curricula.

8. Pula, Puti, Blu at Marami Pang Korol by Lav Diaz

This story is something you would expect to see in an indie film or in a TV documentary. It bluntly showed how ugly the lives of street children can get and it really stuck with me. I still remember it whenever I see beggar kids. Also whenever I cross an overpass and watch the blur of lights from the cars below.

7. Moses Moses by Rogelio Sikat

I read this one in a textbook for Filipino. I don’t actually remember how I got that book. Hmm.. Anyway, this one was a bit disturbing. I still don’t fully understand why the mother did that in the end. I guess she preferred that she did it herself than see someone else do it. It was still really drastic though. I mean, what if she just assumed wrong?

6. Utos Ng Hari by Jun Cruz Reyes

This story caught our interest because the description of the school where it was set was suspiciously close to ours. The school in the story had worse teachers, though. I mean, we had our issues with our faculty but as far as I knew they were nowhere near those in the story. But I still really liked it because it effectively captured the angst of high school students.

5. May Day Eve by Nick Joaquin

 A story of how love can be a struggle. Though this story was set in colonial times, it evokes familiar emotions. Yes, the times when love and war feel the same, I suppose we are all familiar with that.

4. Autumn Mountain

This was about a man who heard stories of a beautiful painting. He later on met someone who had actually seen the painting once and who has been searching for it ever since so he can marvel at its beauty once again. The first man joined the second in his search, and all throughout, the second described the painting in detail to the first. This only fuelled the first man’s desire to see the painting himself. They finally find it one day, but both are disappointed at what they see.

Unfortunately, I could not find this one online, hence the half-assed summary. I think it was a Japanese story. Anyway, it led to the term “na-autumn mountain” which we used within our circle when talk about something (usually a movie or a supposedly cute peerson) that fails our expectations.

3. Wedding Dance by Amador Daguio

This is another story about love’s complexities. This time, it’s about how unfair the world can be to lovers, like “you and me against the world” and the world won. We sometimes let the world win, for whatever reason we may have. But it makes you ask afterwards if things would have been better had you kept on fighting. Okay, those last two sentences have nothing to do with the story.

2. The World Is an Apple by Alberto Florentino

This is actually a play we did in high school for our English class. I was supposed to play Mario, the good guy, but I suffered a week-long asthma attack and had to be recast as Pablo, the bad guy, who doesn’t appear until halfway into the play. This play only had three characters so we were the group with the least actors, but we came out as the best group in our class. Our teacher said we were all effective in our roles. I must admit, it felt really good to play the bad guy.

My favorite line was, “Living? You call this living? This, Gloria, is what you call dying. Dying slowly, minute by minute.” There was supposed to be a laugh after that but I dropped it. I couldn't pull off an evil laugh.

1. Dead Stars by Paz Marquez Benitez

Ah, yes, my absolute favorite. Like “na-autumn mountain”, “na-dead stars” also became a term that we used.  Okay, I’ll stop there. I can’t think of a way to say more without spoiling it for those who might be interested. Just go ahead and read it; it’s a beautiful story.