Thursday, June 3, 2010 | By: Hazel

My Passion for Writing: A Long History

When I was still in kindergarten I wanted to become a nurse. My main fascination lay in the fact that they look immaculate and sexy in their uniform. Moreover, every single nurse that I saw then was really pretty. However, I realized that I have a weak stomach for things like blood, ugly wounds, anything that smells bad and anything that looks eww. A trait which I have unfortunately inherited from my mother. So I had to chuck that ambition out of the window.

When I was in 3rd grade, I discovered the joys of reading and how it made me better in my English subjects. So I started reading more than what was necessary and, naturally, this led to my interest in books and wanting to write something that I would want to read. When I graduated in elementary, I was Writer of the Year, an accolade which was awarded to me because I wrote one lousy poem about my crush and cemented by the fact that I read and spoke better English than the rest of my classmates.

When I got to high school and went to Philippine Southfield School, it was a little different because although I still read more than most of the people in my class, there were now a few guys who were just as good in English and writing. But that didn't matter so much because I have never been a type A competitive person. I'm the kind who, when I'm sure of my answer, will share that to anyone who asks for it, even on major exams. Yes, I know. That is considered cheating but did I also mention that I have always been morally-gray? That is also the reason why I am not so religious. Religions are pretty much black and white when it comes to their stand on moral issues. I'm just not. But I digress.

In freshman year of high school, notwithstanding the fact that there were a few other people good at what I thought was my field, I still loved English and writing all the more. Teacher Vi was a really great teacher and she made the subject interesting. In sophomore year, we had a second English teacher. Teacher Maia was new to our school and she was also a real writer. Our English classes under her were focused on writing and applied English in general. I honestly thought I could impress the hell out of her. When I received the first-ever composition paper that she graded for us, holy stinking cow shit! It was a blood-bath! I literally could not see my own penmanship because of the gazillion corrections that Teacher Maia did in red (even now, if she is reading this, she is probably making mental red marks :)). And since I didn't adapt the I-don't-care-if-I'm-wrong-as-long-as-we're-all-wrong mentality until college, it didn't matter that all the other paper shared the same fate. I was beyond humiliated. Fortunately, I am not easily disheartened when failing at something I love doing and Teacher Vi and Teacher Maia were very encouraging and enthusiastic. By junior year, with our English teachers as advisers, our school established its own publication, I being a part of the editorial staff. By the time I graduated, my father and I were advised by our school's Vice President for Academics, Mr. Apepe, who was one of our mentors during workshops for the school paper, that I should take up Creative Writing or Mass Communication at Siliman University. I was even more encouraged by that push. My father went as far as inquiring dorms for me in that school. Unluckily, my mother did not agree because Siliman was too far away and she would rather that I studied within Cagayan de Oro City. The best school in our city was Xavier University but it didn't offer any creative writing courses so I went on an entirely different path and took up Accountancy which was the best curriculum that XU offered. I do not hate my mother anymore for not letting me go and I don't really dwell on the what if's of my life. Sometimes, though, it does cross my mind that if only I've had formal training...

College was distinctive, for lack of a better term. I wasn't sure about my major. Being enrolled in the most intimidating course of the most intimidating school in our part of the country, every single one of my classmates were the smartest or the second smartest in their respective schools. All of them wanted to sit in front. All of them raised their hands when the teacher asked a question. All of them spent their vacant periods studying in the library. I wasn't a bad student. In fact, I was an honor student all through elementary and high school. But I never sat in front. I never raised my hand even when I knew the answer. And I only visited the library when I was stalking my college crush or when I was reading books not related to my course (which, if it counted for something, would have made me summa cum laude, no kidding).

Suffice it is to say that my love for English and writing never waned and in that environment of stressed-out students and overdue papers, I found another formidable English teacher, Ma'am Illana. Since my course considered English a minor subject, I only had 5 English classes my entire college life. Fortunately, I had Ma'am Illana in 3 of them. I may not have been good in Accounting, Finance, Law, and Taxation, subjects which were considered major in my course, but not even the best person in Accounting from my class could trounce me in English (ahem). I aced every single English class I had. I especially liked the Humanities. I always studied for it. One time, my father noticed me studying and we had a conversation that went like this:

Him: You are always studying for English. That's your minor and you are already good at that. Even if you don't study, you're gonna get good grades on it. Why not study more for your Accounting? That's your major and you are flunking out on that.

Me: I'm bad in Math and anything that involves numbers. You knew this. If you had only fought for me to go to Siliman, English would be my major, I wouldn't have any Accounting subjects and we would not be having this conversation.

Ok, it didn't actually happen like that but you get the idea. Like I said, I do not hate my mother anymore for not letting me go. At some level, she was right. I do notice that there were just a lot more opportunities for commerce graduates, though I could be wrong. And like I said, I'm not the type who dwells on the what if's. I am happy now. I really am. I may not have turned out to be the writer in the caliber that my high school teachers expected but I believe that I am where I should be. Of course, I will always thank them for their help and influence:

Teacher Vi, with her post-it notes of praise and encouragement which I kept up to this very day.
Teacher Maia, with her ever-reliable red pen. I appreciate all the corrections and comments. They made me better and made me see the beauty of the language even more.
Ma'am Illana, with her formidable look and ancient knowledge in English. You'll never know how much you touched my life.

Thank you!


maia fortich-poblete said...

Hazel! Sooo beautiful! I marvel at the person that you have become. And your writing? It has gotten even better. It has even exceeded my expectations!:)

Haze, up to this day, you are one of the best writers that I have ever had. You were always one with big and deep ideas. Yes, I did give you a lot of "red marks," but they never changed (not even once) the way I saw you and your writing - a breath of fresh air. I am so darn proud of darn proud to have been a part of your formative years in school! :)

Keep writing. You'll never know where your words will take you. And if you've become quite fed up with your professional life now, just let me know and I'll proudly invite you into my world.

Thanks,Haze...for this and for being a wonderful part of my years in Southfield. You will always be one of my best of my best students.

God bless.:) mwaaahhh!!!

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