Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Thank You, Baratillo.Net

.:Farewell, Juned:.

There was a time where the words "I'm a blogger" simply defined me, more than anything else. Through those formative years in my life, one name stood out as someone I always listened to, and always enjoyed the company of: Juned Sonido. He was, as many people have shared by now, the early blogosphere's version of Yoda.

I learned a lot, thanks to him. In fact, if I decided to write an 8List about the things I learned from him instead of this essay I'm now trying to put together, I'd have at least 5 lists to go around. But I'd be remiss if I didn't share a few memories from the man, so here are some of my favorites...

1. The first time I ever received a token from an event I attended as a blogger, I was beside myself in excitement. You have to understand, this was before people made a living out of blogging and social media. We were all hobbyists then, so being given a gift like I was felt like such a big deal at a time.

Juned looked at me, smiled, and reminded me to not "get too excited." And I realized right then and there that yes, I ran the risk of continuing to blog solely for these gift bags rather than because I loved to blog. It was a sobering wake-up call, and an eerie prediction of people who came in the future who were *all about the goodies.*

2. When he gave a talk about ethics for iBlog, oh wow. What a riot that was. In-jokes flew all over the place, and we had a whale of a time.

3. If it weren't for him and for Nina, I would have never known the joys of how to run a Binondo food tour.
And the memories are legion. I can't even begin to think about all the times we spent with each other, and the endless conversations we had, and the fact that I just sat there, under the learning tree, taking it all in.
The last time we met that wasn't by coincidence was in 2016, when he had me do a talk in his class. It was a great time, although I did notice how different he looked. But Juned was never one to tell us about his woes, and always focused on having engaging conversations that ran the gamut of the deepest, most ponderous topics, and the shallowest, most juvenile ones.

Here and there, I would run into him by pure chance. It's easy to take someone who felt so omnipresent for granted: it's not like he's ever gonna go away, is he? Is he?

Sadly, the answer to that, like for everyone else, is "yes. Eventually." And so we now say goodbye to a pioneer, a trailblazer, someone who was ahead of the curve long before blogging and social media and the very concept of an "influencer" were ever even things that roll off the tongue so naturally as they do in 2019. More than that, we say goodbye to a true friend. We've said goodbye to more than a few among our ranks over the years, and it never gets any easier or any less painful each time we have to.

Juned, thank you for your kindness, your time, and your friendship. Words cannot convey how much loss I feel right now, and my world feels that much poorer because of it. All I can hope is that wherever you are now, you are happy, eating all the lechon and hakaw you want. Save a space for us, because we'll be joining you there too, someday, in the great blogosphere in the sky.

We will miss you. Farewell, my friend and my mentor.

Thursday, May 30, 2019


.:Don't Comment On The Layoff, Don't Comment... Ahhhhh, Too Late:.

So here I am again, blogging. Don't expect it to be a thing, though. I guess it just needed to be done.

But it's been ages. And very few things could get me out of just posting and Facebook and back into my blog, so I guess it has to be something important, right? Well, I suppose you might say that.

Three weeks. It's been around this long since Hun has been on her trip around Europe and Thailand, and while I'm happy she's been enjoying her time out there, it's been agony for me, just waiting for her. I don't think I've ever had a case of separation anxiety and general anxiety this bad before, yet here I am, counting down the days, hours, and minutes 'til she gets back, with equal bits of excitement and dread. After all, it's been a while.

Over the years, and looking back at my earlier entries in this blog, I've come to realize very recently that I have been far from the good person I've always wanted to be. I've overlooked a lot of things, I've been unbelievably selfish, and apparently, I've been anything but self-aware. Heck, I'm probably the poster boy for those fake woke people out there right now who are oh-so-progressive, yet turns out, have tons of skeletons in their closet. And saying "it was a different time" or "I'm not the same person anymore" isn't much of an excuse, really. The things people like me have done may not fill a rap sheet somewhere out there, but they sure get you "canceldt" pretty quickly in a lot of circles.

And I'd be a liar if I said none of these things happened. And I'm certainly not proud of them, and striving hard every single day to be better and to move past them. But that nagging question always lingers in my head: do I deserve the chance to move on? Do I deserve the chance to better myself, or should I still be paying the piper for all I've done in the past? It's a question I genuinely have been asking myself lately, and quite honestly, one I can't quite give an unbiased answer to.

You see, in the time I've spent apart from Hun, I've realized that as much as I strive to be better, not only have I failed, but I could also be so much better than where I am right now. In so many ways. And at an age where most people are supposed to "have it together" now, I realize I'm so far from the mark that it's hilarious. I'm still living in those so-called glory days where I could do no wrong in Philosophy class, and radio was so exciting, and it didn't matter that I wasn't making much or saving much because I'll get to that point - someday. Yet here we are at "someday," and I'm still... hovering. Floating around. And Hun has been my one guiding compass. The one person who looked at me and gave me direction at the point I needed it most.

There are days I wake up with wonder, thinking what I did right to deserve someone like that in my life.

But there are also days I wake up with fear, thinking what I did right to deserve someone like that in my life.

These last three weeks have been agony, even if to any outside observer, it shouldn't be that bad. It's been my past coming back to do a number on me. A reckoning for who I was and who I still am, despite everything I've done in hopes of bettering myself. And to wonder if I even deserve to be with the one person who finally gave my life a semblance of a plan and direction shakes me to my core. Because it's here that you see that I've run out of excuses. It's impossible to say that it's not me, if I still end up being a failure, with all the second chances I've been given.

And while I may not have it the worst in the world, it's still a far cry from all the bluster and potential I thought I had in what has turned out to be a decade and a half ago. It's a minor tragedy in unfulfilled potential and underachievement, but when it happens to you, it really, really opens your eyes to the possibility that you've just been lucky all this time.

And that your luck might be about to run out.

So when Hun comes back tomorrow from those three long weeks, all I can do now is hope that despite everything, despite all the shortcomings, despite all the unspeakable things I simply cannot take pride in, she still sees something worthwhile in me.

Because sadly, I can't really blame her if she doesn't.

Thank you for having been my world, Hun. You truly made a difference in my life.