PO Box

So, earlier today, I saw a post on Tumblr by somebody I follow, about a PO Box he recently opened and then he encouraged us to write him letters, and promised that he will read and answer each of them!

It thrilled me. When I was younger, I used to write letters to my usual correspondents – my friends and Kuya Bob (I’ll write a separate post about him). Oh, the feeling of waiting for Mr. Mailman to arrive carrying the responses to my letters! It was such a rush to receive a letter. It feels so personal, so special.

I have been wanting to write and send letters to friends, to people, anyone! So, this week, I’ll visit some nearby post offices and ask if they rent out PO boxes. I sure hope they do, because I’d like to write people from all over the world and gain new friends from it. 🙂

Once I get a PO Box, (crossing fingers) I’ll post it here and perhaps you can write me. 🙂

Let’s get back to writing letters!


I am a tax payer and proud of it!

Yesterday while browsing through my Twitter feed, I came upon a tweet from somebody I follow, Professional Heckler, a tweet about pay slips and taxes.

Professional Heckler: Pay slips are a reminder that I’m an honest taxpayer of the Republic. HONEST. And I’m proud of that.”

It was of course, an instant retweet! I started working in 2008 and the next thing that I felt proud of after getting the job is the fact that I am now a taxpayer, an honest taxpayer who pays her dues to the government. It is a very rewarding feeling, don’t you think? 🙂

My eldest sister read that tweet and replied:

“I salute people like you, I will always be grateful, taxpayers supported my education. Our 3 sisters too! & million others!”

Isn’t that a nice feeling? As a taxpayer you are reassured that your taxes actually reach beneficiaries. And these beneficiaries are actually grateful. No matter how big or small your tax cut is, there are actual people who benefit from it. Of course, other people use the taxpayers money for their own gain, may God have mercy on their soul – but still, I am hopeful that the time will come that the hard earned money we give the government make its way to more people, in more ways, big or small.


My sisters, all four of them, are State University babies. 🙂 Three of them are still students, I assure you taxpayer that they make good use of your money because they study so hard, they excel, and actually contribute to the betterment of mankind. If they don’t continue to be good citizens, you’ll be rest-assured I’ll whack them. Hard.)

How sweet it is!

Do you ever wonder whether people would like you more or less if they could see inside you? I always wonder about that. If people can see me the way I see myself, if they could live in my memories would anyone, anyone love me? -John Green

I came across that quote while browsing through one of my blogs, and the thought never left my mind until I got home.

We all have our own notions of ourselves and we all have secrets. We all have our light and dark. We all have memories we’d like to keep to ourselves and memories we can’t get enough of reminiscing.

Needless to say, the quote quite boggled me. So, why should I be the only one in pain? Haha, kidding aside – I shared the quote to four friends of mine, and two of them responded to it. My boyfriend of six years, Justin, and my friend, Jessica.

They both chose to answer it as if I asked. They know I had both wanted them to dwell on it (for themselves) and to answer the question (for me). Not that I am fishing or anything, I just wanted to know what they thought. Here are their answers:

Justin: I’d love you. Being together this long gives me a right to say so. I know how you think and I know how you see yourself. I know you better than anyone else. So believe me mahal (love) when I say I’d love you still if I could see you the way you see yourself.

Jessica: If you were asking me… I’d say YES. You’re someone worthy of pure love 🙂 and knowing you inside and out is a very big bonus. I would live to see it!

I read their responses around 4AM – I woke up because it was very cold, and their thoughts instantly warmed me up inside. Needless to say, I went back to bed, smiling.

Isn’t it wonderful to know that there are people in our lives willing to stand by us, accept us and love us despite everything? 🙂

There is no why? The hell there isn’t!

Billy licked his lips, thought a while, inquired at last: “Why me?”
“That is a very Earthling question to ask, Mr. Pilgrim. Why you? Why us for that matter? Why anything? Because this moment simply is.Have you ever seen bugs trapped in amber?”
“Yes.” Billy, in fact, had a paperweight in his office which was a blob of polished amber with three ladybugs embedded in it.
“Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.

That is an excerpt from Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, and I used to love it, revel in the idea that it is possible to be just in the moment without any why, without anything. To just be in the moment. But as of last night, I felt like the ladybug inside Billy’s polished amber. 

“Well, here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why.” 

The hell there isn’t! 


I should probably stop creating amber moments because I am no ladybug.

Ending Conversations

Abruptly ending conversations always make me feel uneasy – like a big void is opening inside of me and everything is just falling in that void.

Somehow, the abruptness of the act doesn’t feel right. I am chasing the last words spoken, and then expecting what’s coming next, only I know nothing is going to come next.

And that nothing ever will come next – because somehow, that abrupt end to the conversation becomes the period, the ending, not all has been said.

Because the call ended. No call back. Got disconnected from the internet. Electricity was cut-off. Battery empty. You don’t deserve a response. Cut, cut, everything is cut.

No proper ending.

The last words will never be acknowledged ever again.

Nor will it be open for conversation.

The should be response will never be known to me.

Hi-ho 2013!

Hello there, dear friends!

It’s been a while, huh? 🙂 How was your holidays? Me? I spent 12 days of vacation at home. Yes, and those were 12 glorious days of watching reruns, gastronomic feast, sleeping, sitting, and acting crazy with my family.

I had meant those 12 days to be spent away from the internet as much as possible. I did not use my mobile phone much, didn’t go out of the house, didn’t meet friends. That was a break I needed – to just stay away from the hustle and bustle and prepare for the onslaught of busy days.

It was a great 12 days. I finished seven books, seven seasons of The Golden Girls (for the nth time!), I ate so much with zero exercise, and just went through the days without a sense of time. Glorious, I tell you. The weather was mainly chilly, there’s wine, food, a new LED TV, company, and more food. Oh, except for catching a flu on Christmas Day that lasted for about four days, I am totally fine. I passed it on to my sister Anna and my Dad. My bad…

Sorry for this crappy post; it seems my brain has not rewired yet – my mind is still empty; but my heart is longing for another long vacation. 🙂

I hope you all had a wonderful and fun-filled Holidays! 🙂

Destination (Un)known

Where is your point of alienation?

Where is your point of alienation? Photo: http://www.ficker.com/photos/europeanspaceagency

The city eats me up alive.

Here in the Philippines, our cities are as busy as any other metropolitan area in the world. You can see the streets bustling with activity any time of the day. Traffic jam starts early; and it barely rests. People from all walks of life clang and bang against each other to make a living, to interact, to do business.

Last night, I chose the bus as a form of transportation to head to my destination. At 11 in the evening, the streets of the metro were convoluted with every land vehicle imaginable. As I stared out the window, I was reminded of how I am just one of the millions of residents in this city; just another alien. No city can claim that all their “tenants” are locals. Like the metropolitan Manila, almost half (or perhaps more) are immigrants from nearby provinces. They migrated to look for work, better wages, better lives… but not everyone is successful in this game.

Lights pass by, vehicles chase the road for their destinations. As the bus trudges from city to city, the scenario more or less differs. The richer cities have all these high rise condominium units, huge shopping malls and pretty lights illuminating everything. The older cities have ugly, soot-covered buildings. The bus made a few stops, unloaded, and loaded again. I looked at their faces, then stared outside again. The darkness seems to fight the light. It asserts itself upon us. I started to wonder. How many of these people have actual destinations to go? Were they headed to a beginning or to an end? Were they chasing their dreams or running away from something?

Hundreds of faces passed me by. Happy, lonely, bored faces, just wanting the ride to be over.

And at that moment, all I wanted was to slip through the cracks on the walls or on the road just to hide from everything else. The scene was desolate; not hopeful. I was surrounded by life, yet I have never felt more alone.

The irony is that, most of us crave the city. Whatever it reminds us of, you cannot deny that its charms range from the mundane to the sublime. We want to see action and the everyday hustle because it reminds us that life goes on, one form or another.

Indeed, life goes on, one form or another. And the city chronicles all its harsh beauty, cruelty and fierce hope better than anything else.

Everything is a rush and I am lost.

“Travelling somewhere
could be anywhere
there’s a coldness in the air
yeah but i don’t care
we drift deeper into the song
life goes on
we drift deeper into the sound
feeling strong… so bring it on…”

As I listen to this wonderful Armin Van Buuren song, I realise these things: 1) Yes there is a coldness in the air, 2) Frankly I don’t care, and 3) December is the time when everything is a rush! Keep up or get called a loser.

I am a loser.

Frankly, I am lost in the chaos. Let’s see… juggling the heavy workload with weekend parties, important social gatherings (reunions of all sorts here), Christmas shopping, extra curricular activities (clubs, organizations), relationships and other spur of the moment demands that queue up.

At work, cut-off dates are earlier than usual. The clients and colleagues are demanding this and that, knowing full well that a lot of offices will be closed during the holidays. You get all sorts of things in the publishing world, really. Responsibilities are doubled, whether you like it or not.

At home, honestly, at this point I couldn’t say how things are faring in there now. The last time I was home, we were all relaxed due to a local holiday. Things were good. But now? All my sisters are busy at school, Mom and Dad with work, most probably. I am sure we don’t have Christmas decorations yet, and the house is in need of another round of general cleaning. It feels good to stretch and get my hands dirty sometime, but cleaning our house just isn’t an ideal task right now. I feel like by now I should have graduated from all that stuff! But as the second big sister, I should set the example. *groans* Meaning I should take a trip home, empty a day or two for this gruesome task.

Social gatherings. Well, December is so full of that! I am all for reunions and gatherings and walking down memory lanes, but I lack the energy, the resources and lately the desire to be present at all of them. Frankly, I am checking my list, checking it twice – to find out where I want to go and why.

Spending and other money-related things. I am guilty of this. I have already shopped too much for myself this year. Ka-ching, ka-ching. So now, with not enough funds to support my bourgeoisie life, cutting back is in order. Of course, tighter purse strings mean less of everything. Frankly, I am thrilled to cut back on things, what with all the bills and stuff to be paid… Damn it.

Health concerns. This and that. A trip to the doctor is needed but I keep pushing it back. Hmm. My deadline is before December ends. And by God I’ll get it over with.

Other concerns. This is the part where I am concerned with other people’s concerns, struggles, etc., and I try to find solutions for their concerns, because it makes me feel better, helping them get a little of what they need/want. It feels great. But sometimes, it takes up a lot of me, but I just couldn’t shake them all off. Right?

You could only take so much, hm? And with all of these piled-up…

Ah, with everything instant and fast-paced, it is very easy to get lost! But the key is to just STOP. If we feel we are no longer productive, perhaps we should temporarily stop to loosen our muscles, to relax, to ease the tension, to just stay still and look for that centre of calm present in all of us. It is not easy, with all the distractions present, but quiet moments are important. Then maybe we can find that balance again.

Not everything should be rushed. Maybe if we just stopped to breathe a while, we’ll find our way back to well, that path we are following. Yeah, I really should say this to myself. In a way I did – by a matter of this blog.

The Not-So-Random 17 books that I love

Lists. It seems that humans are obsessed with them. You know, packing the “essentials” in one list, the “cream of the crop” the “top of the line” sort of thing. You see it all over the Internet – TIME Magazine releases a lot of lists, be it fashion icons, films, books, art house essentials, etc. Forbes releases its annual list of Wealthy people – celebrities, businessmen, investors, etc. We have lists in our daily lives! To-do lists, to-read list, to-watch list, to buy list… the list seems… endless.

Yet here I am trying to write down a list of 17 books. Why 17? Well, because it is my favourite number (don’t ask me why, even I don’t know!). 17 books. It’s a hard task; but one I must do – at least, for the sake of this post.

1. The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova
Ahh, you know this is my favourite book, based on my previous post. It has the right amount of charm, history, romance and thrill for me. And don’t even get me started on all those European travels in search of clues to the whereabouts of Professor Rossi, ultimately leading them to… Vlad Tepes.

2. Dracula, Bram Stoker
By now you will realise I like the horror genre. Right you are, dear reader! 🙂 I love this novel because of it’s Gothic setting. Eventhough there were a lot of factual inconsistencies in this novel (being one, Bram Stoker had never been to Transylvania!), it is still a very enjoyable read. Besides, Mina Harker is quite a character.

Dracula (first edition cover), Bram Stoker's v...

3. The Zahir, Paulo Coelho
This book helped me a lot during a very trying phase of my life. It gave me the spiritual and emotional “wake up calls” I needed, and it remains to be one of my favourite Coelho works.

4. The Harry Potter Series
I know, cheating! But I cannot separate these, for they all have a hold on me. Haha! Kidding aside, the series helped me believe in magic again, and it made me treasure bravery, friendship, and the power of choices more than ever. It really is a great series – my favourite series to date. Period. Ever.

5. The Case of the Glamorous Ghost , Erle Stanley Gardner
Do you happen to know about Perry Mason? Yes, he is the formidable, indestructible defence lawyer created by (the lawyer, haha) Erle Stanley Gardner. I first encountered this book at the shelves in my boyfriend’s house, and although there is a formula for novels like this, I have come to love them. I started reading and looking for copies of the Perry Mason book series, and I got hooked immediately. They are entertaining, you know? The kind of book you want to read when you want to pass a very pleasant afternoon reading. Light, with the right amount of intrigue and glamour.

6. I Wish Someone Were Waiting for Me Somewhere, Anna Gavalda

This collection of short stories are fantastic! Thank God I found a copy of this! It is a very entertaining read not lacking in sense, emotion and style. I love it!

7. Needful Things, Stephen King
Oh, I love Stephen King! I like the way he writes. He has that knack of throwing to light the darkness around and inside us. He is very insightful and the way he understands and writes about the complexity of the human mind and emotion is appalling. In this particular book, a shop owner named Leland Gaunt has everything you need, especially your most coveted thing in the world. Plus, nothing in his shop, and certainly not Gaunt, is what it seems.

8. Le Petit Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Oh this book! It opened my eyes to the reality that kids see things better than adults do. It showed me the power of imagination and perception. The book instilled in me hope, sadness, love, and friendship. It is a very moving piece.

9. The Beautiful and Damned, F. Scott Fitzgerald

Ahhhh. My first Fitzgerald read, I fell in love with it. I found in a sale bin, in one of my favourite bookshops, Booksale. But I digress. The book is packed with the complexity of human relationships, emotions and thoughts. It left my heart aching at the end, but all good books should leave you an impression, right? And this one left me depressed. I immediately wanted to start with The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night, though. I love stories like that!

10. After Dark, Haruki Murakami

Ahhh, this started my love affair with Mr Murakami. The story perfectly captured that essence of existentialism. I cried at the end of this novel, I wanted to be like Eri Asai – asleep, just asleep. In a coma. (At least during that time, anyway).

11. The Alienist, Caleb Carr

I found this to be a truly enjoyable novel. I simply loved the characters. That, plus humour, the dark, and the adventure all made up this thrilling ride into the hunt for the serial killer in 19th Century New York. The descriptions were vivid, alive – that I almost felt as if I were in the novel – eating at Delmonico’s, riding a hansom, and seeing all the beauty and ugly of what would ultimately become the Crossroads of the World.

12. Perfume, Patrick Suskind

This is a phenomenal read, especially for someone like me who is so particular about smells. It is delightful, dark, brooding – and, tastefully done.

13. Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro

Ahhhh, this. The only regret I had after reading this novel was that I didn’t read Ishiguro sooner! I liked everything about this novel, the budding romance between Mr Stevens and Ms Kenton, countryside England… ah, perfect. It was written beautifully as well – subtle. I’d even go as far as say it is sublime.

14. Blackout, Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza

Oh because I love Brazil! 🙂 Kidding aside, Garcia-Roza’s writing is impeccable – the provocation and thrill is always present. There is also the underlying existentialist theme, which I really like. Which brings us to…

15. The Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus

The endless suffering. Existentialism at its best.

16. No Exit and Three Other Plays, Jean Paul Sartre

I first encountered No Exit (Huis Clos) from our Introduction to Literature class. Yes, it is a play about three people in Hell. This is where the famous “hell is other people” phrase came from. Mmhmm.

17. Inferno, Dante Alighieri

This terrified me, the first time I read it. I was sure I had a circle reserved for me somewhere… I memorised each circle, and the people damned in them…

That is my list of 17 books that have a special place in my heart. In time, this will probably change – there are far too many books out there waiting to be read! For now, this short list will do. 🙂

We have come to the parting of ways… how about you? Have you a list like this? If yes, please feel free to share a link to your blog post and I’d only be too happy to check them out! 🙂

A production editor’s pride and woe

I have been a Production Editor for four years now. I have worked for Springer for the last three years, handled 25 journals of various disciplines and now is currently a Production Editor for Wiley.

Yesterday, our Offshore Manager called us in for a brief meeting. He shared with us the current situation of academic publishing, and it is both good and bad for us. Publishers are at the centre of this web. On one branch is Academic publishing, on the other branch, are the Libraries. The other branch is the government. Let’s take a look on all how of these players affect the Publisher.

Yes, it is all changing…

Academic publishing by authors is of course, usually funded for by the government, the universities or other societies. Authors need their research funding to go out there in the world to look for answers, and share their academic findings. Part of this need to publish has something to do with work promotion, as well. They need to publish articles so that they get their grants for their next project. But due to recent economic difficulties, budgets are slashed and research take a back seat. Not everyone can afford to go on a research expedition using their own bank accounts, therefore, the budget is needed. Without all these authors to publish, then, the publishers sure are in peril. Of course, research is not the only concern of the universities and colleges. The school is run by people you need to pay, the structures need repairs and maintenance, there are all sorts of things the budget is sliced for; and it all depends on how much they have, of course. But with the recent economic hardships… well…

And then there are the libraries. Of course, libraries buy the journals/serials released by the publishers. They do this mostly for academic purposes, for the authors, more than the archiving part. But lately, due to recession, the budget on spending and acquiring academic journals has been a bumpy ride. For the last 20 years, there was not much change in the budget and spending of libraries when it comes to acquiring journals, and of course, when that trend continues, the fate of the publishers might be in peril. A lot of the revenues come in from libraries subscription and acquisition of published works. Of course, acqusition is not their only concern, they have operations to do, people to pay, maintenance, etc. And with a cut budget, well…

The Government of course, no matter where you look at a picture, is always a major player. They hold the purse strings, so to speak. Without them allotting a considerable budget on education, research and other academic-related things, then boom. Bye-bye publishers. But we have been informed that the government of some countries are actively participating in talks on how they can find solution to this problem, and these players (authors, publishers, libraries and government) are all leaning toward options on online publishing.

What does this all mean for the Publishers? Well, it’s a 50-50 good and bad thing. Haha. First of all, the authors and the libraries are their primary sources of income. Without them, who are they publishing for, right? To minimise all these spending, these players are looking into the “Online Open” publication option. This means that there is an increase demand on publishing online only; without print. Digital archiving, digital publishing. With the increased progress technology has made these past years, it follows that publishers should adapt to these technologies as well. There have been a lot of talks about this, and it is a slow process – publishers could just not let go of all printed materials, instead, they are increasing the “Online Open” options for their journal titles. Some have also started digitalising their archives, as it is a move to further enhance the author/researcher experience in terms of easier searching for related materials, etc., plus, it is a huge back-up contingency plan should paper be eliminated as publishing material.

In this widely digital world, the publishers and the government are looking into furthering this “Online Open” cause. It is too early to tell where it is all heading. But for now, things are stable, we still have our jobs (haha) and things are progressing. The publishers are in a tremendous pressure to continue publishing in a very pressed economy. Academic publishing cannot stop; research cannot take a halt. These are the steps that further the understanding of things in the world and without it, we’d be living in the dark.

I have no doubt that in the coming years, publishing would remain an important player in the field. Perhaps there will be a decline due to economic reasons, but learning and going out there in the world in search for answers will not stop. It is all about coming to terms with the technology, coming up with solutions for the good of all.

As a part of the publisher’s circle, this is both good and bad news for me. There surely will be lay-offs and cutbacks everywhere; offices will be closed, operations will cease to exist; and the few strong will stand strong, or not, who knows? But we trust the academic world to continue on with their battle for knowledge and understanding. And we hope the government and other private organisations rise up to the challenge and continue helping these people in their quest. We benefit from all of it in the end, one way or another.

I am proud to be a part of this circle, and will always be – no matter what the future holds.

(photo from: http://blog.publishingtechnology.com/blogs/emerging-trends-scholarly-publishing-%E2%80%93-allen-press-seminar/)