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Wistful Thinking |

Young Star

Wistful Thinking

- Paula C. Nocon of the Philippine Star’s YS -
As I type these words I am aware of two objects in my peripheral vision: a calendar atop my monitor, and a clock above the CPU. They are there and not anywhere else in my room because for a writer, the computer, the calendar and the clock constantly go together. They are there to remind me that in this job, my lifeline is my deadline.

And such has been my existence for the past year.

The pressure has mounted and descended, the ideas have flourished and gone dry, the words have ebbed and swelled, but if there is anything that hasn’t changed as I approach my first year writing for the STAR, it is this: I am still saying "Thank you!"

What a lucky bitch you are, I tell myself. Looking back at the 80 articles I’ve written, at the wonderful people I’ve met, at the brilliant people I’ve worked with, at the terrific and terrible mail I’ve received, at all the things I’ve seen, tasted, felt, heard, experienced, I have never been so grateful to be a writer. What a year it has been indeed.

Someday I will look back at this time and proudly say that I spent a significant period of my youth — my twenties, no less — sharing myself, my life, my voice, with the most difficult audience in the spectrum of audiences: the youth, no less. And I could tell other generations, that though I was hardly the voice of my generation, I was but one voice among many, because this generation was all about diversity and uniqueness, and going about your own way, and doing it in the most personal way you can.

The youth of today, after all, have the most sophisticated bullshit detector ever. We respond best to sincerity, and only after asking, "R U 1 of us?" And because we also have the shortest attention span ever, we are a moving target. What with the Internet, cable TV, text, etc. all competing for our awareness and purchasing power, we are used to the length, rhythm, dazzle and pop of a five-minute music video.

And so yes, I do feel very lucky to be given five minutes of anybody’s time for reading the wail, moan, yelp, and haha! of my newspaper column.

Many have asked me what kind of article I like to do best, and I always answer that it’s the first person interview. It’s when you turn the third person into the first person — you interview someone about a given topic, take down all his best sound bytes, link them all up, and then write up a first person essay based on that. The byline belongs to him, as if he wrote it himself, but with a tiny "As told to Paula Nocon" at the end. I absolutely adore doing this, especially for those really glib and articulate interviewees who insist "I can’t write to save my life!" and yet find that through this style, they actually can. It is then that I really feel like a writer, I really feel like a medium.

On the other hand, the real first person essay, which I do for this column, is another thing altogether. Have you ever read a blog on the world wide web? Blogs are sort of like online journals, many of which are brilliantly crafted and written, so exotic and otherworldly, that reading them is like peering through a window to another galaxy. Part of being "online" and "connected" in this generation means that so many people, all around the globe, want to make themselves heard in their little own nook in cyberspace. Or in my case, print space.

The tricky part about it is taking the work seriously without taking myself too seriously (it’s just my silly little opinion anyway!). And to never, ever underestimate my audience. And to be brave and courageous in speaking my mindout. And to open my mind, so that you can open yours, and with both our minds open we expand our consciousness a little bit more, and make this world feel a little bit smaller.

And most of all, that through all the angst, the outrage, the incredulity, what I really want to communicate is "Life!" This is "Life!" and somehow, "Life!" isn’t all that bad. In fact, perhaps "Life!" is actually good.

So thank you. It has been a wonderful year writing about "Life!" and I have never felt more alive.
* * *
Visit the superb "Designing Bohol" exhibit featuring artwork, fashion and accessories, furniture, and photography inspired by enchanting Bohol. Ongoing at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila until April. Send e-mail to

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