Looking For Alaska – An Unsolicited Book Review

Christmas Break! It’s that time of the year when books are to be returned to libraries in replacement of the to-be-busy festive of the upcoming holiday. As I was about to leave our university’s library, a student assistant, who coincidentally had to be my previous PE classmate, mentioned a far-fetched privilege I just had to have that day. Students have this chance to borrow up to three books for a due that was weeks after. Still stunned by the crazy, spontaneous and about-to-be-abused idea, I really did not have the time to scan around the library so I decided to push against fate to whatever it was on the counter. Lucky enough, I found myself reading the title of this black book that was on top of the “return” pile that day. Though this was not the first of what I have read of John Green’s, this was the sure first that felt close to my senses.

Looking For Alaska is not the first of its kind – I’m sure of that. But the “novel” kind of approach really did have its impact on what it sets to portray on a very heartfelt manner. Basing on the title, I sure did had a hunch on how the story will go, but again setting it on a creative and incredibly ingenious type of approach managed its way to my interest on a simple yet reflective way. The title did not really reveal much of what it really is, but I guess that made its mystery a tad more compelling.

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Not wanting to be a spoiler, but I just really want to share my deep appreciation for how John Green has managed to bring life – but not too fictitious – to the characters. It did unveil how teenagers would behave and how, given the complexity of this life, can bring them all together in an instant. I mean, how a, should I say, a “nobody” like Pudge Halters had manage to be with such an adventurous crew like that of the Colonel’s. But that’s just the simplest of it all.

The other thing I truly admire is the way that the author had managed to visualize and bring life to a character like that of Alaska Young’s. She’s smart, but yet she had her shortcomings too. She’s tough but what others does not seem to be aware about is that she just seems tough, but she could be a fur ball too deep down. And that’s the truth about life. People may act as the toughest, but then again it’s just that sometimes, there are just excuses – plausible ones – that make them act like they just not give a damn at all. Another thing that made me love Alaska Young’s character is that she most definitely broke that thin line between being a good-ass and a bad-ass for a teenager. I mean, that was a sure hit for me. A girl can be both smart and crazy and that does not (and will never) mean it’s just one out of the other.

To stop myself from further spoiling tendencies, I have gathered enough guts to give personal responses on “some intentionally vague and discussion questions” from Looking For Alaska:

Q: Is forgiveness universal? Is forgiveness readily available to all people, no matter the circumstances? Is it possible for the dead to forgive the living, and for the living to forgive the dead?

Yes. I’d have to agree that forgiveness is both universal and is readily available to all people. But I guess that it’s a case-to-case basis that would depend on some unrelated factors pre-, peri-, and post- the “forgiving” period. I agreed that forgiveness is universal because I support and believe that humans are naturally born with an innate likeness to be good and that goodness exhausts even with dark “forces” around us. But humans, as I believe, are also naturally skeptic, lessening the odds of accepting apologies from people who might or might not seek it.

For the possibility of the dead forgiving the living and the living forgiving the dead, I say it would be a yes too. Based on experience, though I cannot say that I have fully grasped the “true” –whether it’s existing or not – meaning of forgiveness, but what I can share with you is that time does help a lot with this. It helps us people lessen the hatred and seize more enlightenment, and it helps us divert our senses to other worth-while tricks that the world can offer.

Q: I would argue that both in fiction and in real life, teenage smoking is a symbolic action. What do you think it’s intended to symbolize, and what does it actually end up symbolizing? Why would anyone ever pay money in exchange for the opportunity to acquire lung cancer and/or emphysema?

I think teenage smoking symbolizes rebellion. Most of the time, I think teenagers who smoke or who are interested in smoking have this view that the world will respect and consider them as adults if they do what the adults are doing too. Maybe it brings them confidence, not just with how the world would see them if they are considered “smoking” but maybe just mere confidence that they can do whatever it is to do just because they can lit one up. And to answer the last question, I just think they ignore it. You know, to make them look like someone who doesn’t give a shiz. Besides, a vice is still a vice no matter how expensive or deadly it is. When someone is indulged in the thinking that their “habit” is something that they cannot live without, it’s just them and their world. No matter how hard people try to get them out of their sinkhole, it’s just them and their “habit.”

So, top this post a cherry of unsolicited advice, Looking For Alaska is a book to recommend. Its twists has its creative way of putting the reader on the edge of their seats, though this book didn’t use profound euphemisms or whatsoever glittery-pompoms, its turn of events are something to watch or read for.  Most certainly an 8 out of ten.

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It takes RISKS to be a Ris Basilio

Ask a kid what he wants in life and get multiple answers just for a single question. Now, does this kind of reverie exist only in the eyes of a child? I guess, not for me.

I grew up imaging myself to be a successful “something”, to be the best in “something”, yet as I began weary lurking through pages and pages of books and WebPages, I just got over it and told myself; I’d rather have my mind opened by curiosity over a closed one by certainty.

Bucketlists, you have them everywhere – people who share enthusiasm for a profession, people who crave adventure, and even people who seek assurance with other people who are believed to be their halves. It’s a good start for them to know what they want in life. It’s also a good thing they’re much assured that they’re bucketlists are the ones that can make them happy. I’ve never had a bucketlist, I never even had the gut to make one, but I have several things in mind.

People make me curious. The way they talk, behave, laugh, cry, and many other things that make them do what they do. The things that make people angry, hungry, sad, mad and all that things. It’s what makes me thirsty for what more is there to know. From a certain and very twisted viewpoint, my engagement in diverse set of activities have made me reach out for other things that there is to try.

At the age of 17, I have already gained my first work-experience. Meeting people that are far beyond my economic status made me feel what it feels like to be on their side of the world. People who have thicker greens than my dictionaries had made me grasp that strive do come before success – even in the dictionary – and success isn’t success without strive.

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Thank heavens I have people who understood what I wanted to prove myself during those times in my life. I also would like to thank my enraged hormones as an adolescent for letting me go straight-forward what I wanted way back then.

My second and yet so ironic feat in this post is the blog that I am posting it in. I started this venture around July 2011. Only as a spot of boredom and a pinch of jealousy entered my system and Voila! Welcome to erbasilio.wordpress.com! A spot of boredom, because I was so tired of reading my hours away and craved of a new way to justify my unproductive afternoons. A pinch of jealousy because I see people who appear and look like successful people on TV has websites. And besides, it’s pretty cool having a safe way to bust everything you want to bust out on your customized web right? So, thank you WordPress!

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Moving on, at the age of 18, I have become an actress. Being assigned on a character and being in another one’s shoe for just a day or two made me realize that there is truly a reason for everyone to behave the way they choose to behave.

As a child growing up in a family of imaginative musicians and musical-aficionados, I have only then and only then saw how my love for Dorothy and Frolain Maria made an impact as I entered their side of the world. It didn’t just make me love what I did but also made me smoothly stand out too. I will forever be grateful for my family who saw and sang The Sound of Music, The Wizard of the Oz, The King & I and many other musicals with me.

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Well, the next one to be discussed is pretty twisted. Ha! I am on the cover of a magazine! I know it’s HARD TO BELIEVE but a girl can both be enchanting and ingenious right? *insert wicked grin here*

And for one of the craziest and huggable creature this universe will ever have, thank you Billy for covering my photo shoot!

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Now, the last one is the latest and yet so vague ambition I had since way back then.

To be a writer will be always on the top of my want-to-achieve list (if ever I had one). I always believe in the power of words. It can do a lot of things for people, it could change them, it could break them, it could inspire them, and it could also change how a person lives his life. I guess that’s also why I started this whole-blog breathing thing but being on a printed sheet is a different thing. It will coat wide range of readers that has different view of the similarity you both have. At first it scared me, not because of what my words can do but I was pretty scared of what my words could employ on every reader that has diverse outlook in life. So far, I have received compliments that I never had before – even from those who seemed like they wouldn’t throw any compliments on anyone.

Well, to Reysa Rica Paligutan who squeezed it all out in me! Thanks for pushing me to join our school broadsheet!

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SO THERE WE HAVE IT! I know these aren’t really that big-of-a-deal for other people, but these things are, so far, some of the highlights of the twenty years of my existence. I know we all have something to brag for right? So why be satisfied early? I suggest that we should keep reaching out for whatever it is that the world has got to offer! There are still lots of things I would really like to try, and I still want to experience the world. For whatever it is that the world will throw, stopping from what you want to be in your life will never make you reach that goal.

I know it’s not right to brag that I am never and will be ever satisfied, but that’s just the way it is. Sometimes this longing for new ventures helps, sometimes it’s not. It will always be how you handle it.

The Weather-friend

I’ve been meaning to write and conjure up thoughts about this but I’ve been losing words that could let all the readers know what a Weather-Friend is. So, as a certainty to my doubts, I collected glimpses of information from my friends as to what a “Weather-Friend” means to them:

“Yung hindi mapakali sa friends. Walang satisfaction sa cliques.”

“Just like the weather, can’t always be trusted.” (personal favorite)

“Walang direksyon kung ano talaga gusto nila sa friends.”

“Kaibigan mo lang kapag pabor sa kanya yung situation”

“… at dahil wala silang definite na group of friends, parang hindi din sila sure kung ano personality nila.”

As my trusted resources defined it for me, a weather-friend is always a friend in need but never a friend indeed. As the urban lingo adds up firm definitions to what a weather friend is, a “foul-weather friend” or a “fair-weather friend” is already on the go changing his or her cliques. And yes! You’re right! Weather-friends are the types of “friends” who leaves you hanging in times when they feel like it. They’re called “Weather-Friends” because they’re like the weather – fickle, mysterious and indecisive. Well, I’m sure most of us have that one friend who’s always there to laugh with you but never there to buckle you up when there are heavy hurdles on the road. They’re not that bad, they’re just… unpredictable. Condemning them as hypocrites won’t be that much of an insult too, knowing that they’re not even sure with what and who they are.

Now, the question we all have in mind is, are these “Weather-friends” a parasite towards cliques? Or are they are just another lesson to be learned along the way? Basing our predictions on the definition, yes – THEY CAN BE – and that is if you let them. It takes a lot of courage and patience to deal with weather-friends because one day you’ll hanging like BBFs, the other they just stare at you with that cold, poisonous “weather-friend glare”. They may not have intentions, but I’ll bet all my gold that they sure can leave a cause.

Now, if y’all are wondering what the catch with this post is – you’re accusations are right again. We’ve all been deceived by a weather-friend who’s not even sure with what they want in life and who they are themselves. They’re lethal; I don’t even think they can contribute to the society. Don’t get me wrong – they can be the sweetest but can leave a rotten path if not stopped at once. Another catch and the most important of them all is I wanted to share and let other people know that these weather-friends only affect friendships that are weak and unsure. So backing-up your clique would be that much if you’ve got inklings towards a suspect.

It’s a good thing there’s the internet to give us guidelines to avoid these kinds of people and it’s a good thing they’re common – everyone’s had experience with these kinds of people but if you don’t, you might have to re-calculate your deeds because you might be the “weather-friend” that destroys groups.

HAPPY HUNTING, READER!

HAPPY TENTH ANNIVERSARY MEAN GIRLS!

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Mean Girls was a film released on April 30th 2004 and is now, if I may say, one of the most sought-after films that influenced the lives of many girls who aspired, tried and inclined their life to the characters of this film.

Most of us are familiar with this movie and what it means, but what does “mean” really means?

According to dictionary.reference.com, mean refers to describe something or someone as offensive, selfish, nasty or malicious. Everyone knows it’s not a nice word to describe someone you’d intended to admire, but why does being so “mean” can sound so appeasing? Is it the fact that we all know someone who’s “mean” and pretty at the same time (fortunately it became a very effective duo)? Maybe it’s the pleasing touch to the ego when you’re being called as a “Queen Bee” despite the fouls following it?  Or is it the influence of television shows that stereotypes girls – similar to the character of Regina George – that affects the mindset of everyone? Regardless of the reason, it sure did its purpose clear and stable that made Mean Girls celebrate its 10th anniversary, trending recently.

It’s been almost ten years when I got the chance to watch a movie that brought the inner “mean” out of me! It has been my obsession since day 1 after seeing this flick, to be someone as popular as Regina, to be as smart as Cady, to be as rich as Gretchen and to be as weird as Karen. Let’s face it – they’re pretty, popular, rich and influential. How can any girl not want to be like them?

Younger than the prescribed viewer’s age, I was able to watch this film on HBO circa 2004-2005. I was unquestionably influenced by how the characters played their roles and how their distinctiveness affected others’ (no wonder they’ve set a higher age limit for this film!). As a small-town girl growing up in a well-sheltered environment, going out of my comfort zone and trying out the “Regina George” way of living surely proves how I inclined my decisions on Mean Girls.

When confronted with a situation, I always think it through like “What would Regina do if she’s here?” “Would Cady be able to answer this if she’s here?” or “I’m sure Gretchen can afford this kind of stuff.” It’s a weird outbreak to share these kinds of habits but if you’ve got friends who can quote Mean Girls like you do, who wouldn’t enjoy right? During my fourth grade, if I may share, my friends and I even made it a point that we wear something pink on Wednesdays (we had to wear pink headbands or charm bracelets because we had to wear our school uniform, boo hoo!)! But still, it just hit us that hard. Doesn’t that prove how we love and adored Mean Girls?

Getting enough with the throwback, I’ve learned my lesson not to “try” to claim superiority with harshness and fake authenticity. I never wanted to make people follow or copy the things I say and do. I just want to have lots of friends but this, also changed eventually because I have learned that it’s better to keep some of them – even if you can just count them with your hands – than to have lots of them who just wants to be with you and the attention they have if you’re together as packs.

Regina George, Cady Heron, Gretchen Wieners and Karen Smith will always be a part of my life. Mean Girls had influenced me like The Sound of Music did – even with the obvious difference. It had and still helps me when in times of making decisions with what life throws at me. It gives me weird feelings too whenever I try to figure out the reason behind basing my life with the movies I see. But I guess that’s what they’re there for!

To one of the films that I will forever quote and adore – HAPPY TENTH ANNIVERSARY MEAN GIRLS! x

And no – not all guys are like that.

“When I was seventeen and preparing to leave for university, my mother’s only brother saw fit to give me some advice. “Just don’t be an idiot, kid,” he told me, “and don’t ever forget that boys and girls can never just be friends.” I laughed and answered, “I’m not too worried. And I don’t really think all guys are like that.”

When I was eighteen and the third annual advent of the common cold was rolling through residence like a pestilent fog, a friend texted me asking if there was anything he could do to help. I told him that if he could bring me up some vitamin water that would be great, if it wasn’t too much trouble. That semester I learned that human skin cells replace themselves every three to five weeks. I hoped that in a month, maybe I’d stop feeling the echoes of his touch; maybe my new skin would feel cleaner.
It didn’t. But I stood by what I said. Not all guys are like that.

When I was nineteen and my roommate decided the only way to celebrate the end of midterms was to get wasted at a club, I humored her.  Four drinks, countless leers and five hands up my skirt later, I informed her I was ready to leave.  “I get why you’re upset,” she told me on the walk home, “but you have to tolerate that sort of thing if you want to have any fun. And really, not all guys are like that.”

(Age nineteen also saw me propositioned for casual sex by no fewer than three different male friends, and while I still believe that guys and girls can indeed be just friends, I was beginning to see my uncle’s point.)

When I was twenty and a stranger that started chatting to me in my usual cafe asked if he could walk with me (since we were going the same way and all), I accepted.
Before we’d even made it three blocks he was pulling me into an alleyway and trying to put his hands up my shirt. “You were staring,” he laughed when I asked what the fuck he was doing (I wasn’t), “I’m just taking pity.”
But not all guys are like that.

I am twenty one and a few days ago a friend and I were walking down the street. A car drove by with the windows down, and a young man stuck his head out and whistled as they passed. I ignored it, carrying on with the conversation.
My friend did not. “Did you know those people?” He asked.
“Not at all,” I answered. Later when we sat down to eat he got this thoughtful look on his face. When I asked what was wrong he said, “You know not all guys do that kind of thing, right. We’re not all like that.” As if he were imparting some great profound truth I’d never realized before. My entire life has been turned around, because now I’ve been enlightened: not all guys are like that.

No. Not all guys are. But enough are- enough that I am uncomfortable when a man sits next to me on the bus; enough that I will cross to the other side of the street if I see a pack of guys coming my way. Enough that even fleeting eye contact with a male stranger makes my insides crawl with unease. Enough that I cannot feel safe alone in a room with some of my male friends, even ones I’ve known for years. Enough that when I go out past dark for chips or milk or toilet paper, I carry a knife, I wear a coat that obscures my figure, I mimic a man’s gait. Enough that three years later I keep the story of that day to myself, when the only thing that saved me from being raped was a right hook to the jaw and a threat to scream in a crowded dorm, because I know what the response will be.

I live my life with the ever burning anxiety that someone is going to put their hands on me regardless of my feelings on the matter, and I’m not going to be able to stop them. I live with the knowledge that statistically one in three women have experienced a sexual assault, but even a number like that can’t be trusted when we are harassed into silence. I live with the learned instinct, the ingrained compulsion to keep my mouth shut to jeers and catcalls, to swallow my anger at lewd suggestions and crude gestures, to put up my walls against insults and threats. I live in an environment that necessitates armoring me against it just to get through a day peacefully, and I now view that as normal. I have adapted to extreme circumstances and am told to treat it as baseline. I carry this fear close to my heart, rooted into my bones, and I do so to keep myself unharmed.

So you can tell me that not all guys are like that, and you’d even be right, but that isn’t the issue anymore. My problem is not that I’m unaware of the fact that some guys are perfectly civil, decent, kind—my problem is simply this:

In a world where this cynical over caution is the only thing that ensures my safety, I’m no longer willing to take the risk.”

– R. D.

Devirginized Shirley (uncut)

“No one dies a virgin. Life FUCKS us all”

Funny how people judge so quickly, how they see themselves as critics of their opposite classes.

Living in a world where everything new is a trend and everything expensive is a must is hard. In fact, it scares me. Or used to, I guess. Expressing yourself with this kind of atmosphere is a huge risk that’s why I salute those who see them as creatures of unique passion and them who are not afraid to express the beauty despite the oddness.

I used to be one of “them”. From a girl who hid her eyes from bushman brows and thick glasses to a girl who only cared about the aesthetic.  That feeling of comfort and of not caring what I looked like still gave me millions of reasons to celebrate invisibility- but I never noticed that until now. It’s something I most certainly miss; something I would gladly reminisce.

Growing up as average and incredibly protected, I still saw life & joy behind those unseen bars. Not for once, I gave up on trying doing what I felt but life seemed to be fair enough not to let me have what I had hoped for – well, at least not at that time.

All I needed was the right, cruel yet fruitful experience. This was something that I never expected, never in my wildest dreams. Even those who I expected to care didn’t. I was very much sheltered when I was growing up. But this safeguard became irrelevant even during those times as I thought it would.

I was nothing but ordinary until I became a bully, then I got bullied. Needless to say the specifics, I got what I deserved. It was the alarm I have been weeping for months of pain and forged ignorance. It was the alarm I needed.

Isn’t this what everybody needs; something to boost what needs to be boosted? Something that will let you out of your shell, something that will make you go farther from what you thought you couldn’t do? It wasn’t a pretty and pleasing stop, but this is what everyone in this planet experience and even my wildest cry couldn’t do anything to stop it. It’s just a stop. Not the end. Well, for me it wasn’t. Would you let something pungent stop and ruin you for the rest of your life?

I have been emotionally wrecked by people I barely AND all-my-life-I knew but that didn’t put up as a hindrance of my striving. I guess nothing beats what’s already beaten eh? Life kept on going for me and for people who took my existence irritably but of course; my obliviousness shielded everything away from me. Time crept additional to the pain but fighting against it will just grow me weary- well that’s what I thought. In a way it was what I needed, I gave time everything that I had just to let it fade away but as I grew impatient waiting I just thought of it as something that would provoke what’s not yet ready to be provoked.

But as time goes by and lessons had been and will be learned, these things should not stand against one’s striving. It’s never too late to continue what’s been there in the first place. It’s never too late to forgive and to forget.

My name is Shirley Temple. And this is my not-so-Shirley-Temple story.

Distancing myself from the bumps of reality…

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I’m thinking… you think you know me? Why don’t you try asking yourself that question again.

I have been in real pain plus exhaustion these last few days and I am not going to let that spoil my goal. I know that things in life will get twisted and tiring at some point of time but we should all be strong to face these tests with hopefulness and faith. People may come and go but we should also hold on as to where the rainbow will glow.

My mood may swing like the airs of the winter, but my ambition will shine and be firm like the rays of the sun. Sometimes I want to get things done, sometimes I leave things to destiny. This paragraph is becoming cheesy, I’ll just stop it for the convenience of the others… 🙂

I know most of you are wondering why I chose goofy pictures of yours truly for this post, and the reason for that is something I don’t know too…