Stories Behind my “Blogging”
By Apolinario Villalobos
I used to scoff at the advantages of the information technology. I limited myself before to the use of cordless phone, so that when IT servers began to proliferate the market and one of them enticed to exchange the outdated cordless phone with a much better unit that has messaging capability at a giveaway cost, I ignored it. Finally, I gave in and got my first cellphone –the cheapest unit. Then came the email which I also did not give much attention until friends and clients started telling me to get an email address. I started sharing my poems by attaching them to my emails. I also used the email in conveniently sending to my clients their documents that I edited. Then, somebody insisted that I open a facebook account. I thought the idea was not just for me because by its name alone, the fad is all about photos for which I have none to post as I am not an avid user of camera. My cellphone also got no camera. Later, a friend told me that it is a more extensive tool to reach out to friends and that I can use it the way I use the email facility.
I let my facebook stay idle in the web accumulating incoming messages until I finally, though, hesitantly uploaded poems. The uploads elicited good comments which encouraged me to also post “tula”. Later, I posted commentaries or essays on issues suggested by my friends. Initially, I hesitated again because I just did not want to open my mind and let out what I think about religions and politics. As a compromise, I started on issues with “human interest”. I found out that I could not stop there because anything with human interest is affected by politics and religions, as it is about man’s struggle not only to live but to survive.
A friend suggested that I open a separate account for my poems and he suggested a site. I limited my uploads to poems as the site, though accessed by Filipinos, has an international viewership, hence, materials should be strictly in English. My poems gained followers from other countries which encouraged me more, but in my mind was the Filipino viewers so I tried opening a site just my own where I could upload and save all my works – essays, poems, and tula. I was surprised later to receive notifications from the server about people from as far as countries in Europe, Africa, and the US, who viewed my poems and essays, and who eventually became my followers. My uploads even got the interest of a young and beautiful social blogger from Russia. One follower is from India who first viewed my poem about Mother Teresa. Another from Bicol, whom I thought to be a distract because of limited info in his profile, I found to be a working student who viewed my poem about the death of Jess Robredo. When I asked him about the limited info in his profile, he said that he has nothing else to include. He is a high school student, aged 19 and works in the market as a helper, after his classes to earn money for his tuition. He learned about my Jess Robredo poem from a classmate who accidentally found it while browsing the net. Another viewer is from Africa whom I thought to be a Filipino because of his name. When I checked his profile I found out that he is an African, also a working student and writes inspiring poems about life.
Not all stories behind my sharing through the net are nice. A friend told me about my poem posted in a site with a different byline. I found it out myself when I checked the site. The poem was cleverly and slightly modified by the plagiarizer by changing some of the words, changed the title and chopped the lines to present another style. That triggered me to write a commentary on plagiarism, which was also influenced by my reading about a photo plagiarized by a UP student and eventually won in a contest. I just scrapped the plagiarized poem from my record, as if nothing happened, and wrote another one on the same subject.
My commentary about the deteriorating educational system of the Philippines, written in Filipino attracted the attention of a teacher who commented on a verb that I intentionally did not conjugate as my way of conforming with the trend. As a suggestion, she told me that the verb should be conjugated and mentioned the transformed word. Obviously, she was trying to show her being a teacher who knows “balarila” better than I. She wasted her time typing her comments just for that, disregarded the essence of my message, and lose the opportunity to share her thoughts as a teacher on the issue. Another teacher who commented on my upload about plagiarism asked what if a teacher plagiarized a material that his student has submitted as a required. It took me several days to react to the comment. I know it is happening. Plagiarizing is not limited to students. I found out that it is one reason why some teachers insist on some topics to be researched by their students that they can use in their other classes. A good friend who teaches and got no time to make necessary researches do it.
In what I am doing, I used to be limited to the use of two old models of laptops, with one regularly go powering off just suddenly and another with Korean-oriented keypad. I bought the first one from a stall selling suspected stolen goods along Avenida in Manila for two thousand – a good buy, but to my dismay, expenses I incurred in trekking to the repair shop to bring it back to life every time it refuses to power on, totaled to more than the cost of a legally bought second hand unit, so I just let it rest in a corner. The second one I bought from a student who needed money for tuition. Out of pity, I gave him more than what he asked for, with an extra one thousand pesos knowing that he badly needed the fund. When I tried using it at home, I found out that the important symbols such as apostrophe, parenthesis, plus sign, etc. are not in the keys where they should be. When I brought it to the repair shop, I was told that the key pad had to be changed to conform with the western orientation – cost is more than one thousand pesos and they had yet to rummage through their piles of old models to find the appropriate one. I gave it back to the student who sold it to me.
On my way to Tondo one time, I was approached by a guy who showed me a seemingly brand new laptop for just three thousand pesos, confiding that the owner, his nephew wanted it sold so that the money can be used for the long overdue rent of his room. I readily shelled out the exact amount and bought a new jacket for it. On my way home, I dropped by a repair shop to have it checked for necessary upgrading. Upon opening the laptop, the technician bluntly told me to my embarrassment that it has no hard disk! My sister gave me an iphone that she used in the US. I had it “opened” for the whooping cost of four thousand and five hundred pesos which I regretted later. I also had it upgraded so that some of the important applications can be used, at the cost of another three hundred and fifty pesos, resulting to another regret. The iphone proved to be of little use to me since it is not my habit to browse using a cellphone.
I am using now an outdated laptop minus a battery being a pre-used one, with a pirated program and which I bought for three thousand and five hundred pesos, of Korean brand that I frantically bought for having no choice after putting to rest the other unit whose power regularly goes off. I had to type monetary amounts in words because I had to painstakingly find by trial and error the right location of symbols. I also use pre-paid plug-in USB for my connection to the internet, meaning, I have to buy a load before I can connect to the net. The USB with memory is very crucial for me. I would compose my materials and store them in the USB so that in case the signal wavers I could just trudge to the nearest internet café and plug it in to upload the contents.
My conscience does not allow me to use the computers of my clients for my own selfish motives, every time I work at their home. I have the firm idea that just like obtaining a good education, everything depends on the person, not the school, hence, for one who wants to share his thoughts, the most important are stored in his mind, not the computer. With all those, I consider myself adequately equipped as a simple guy, though, with an outdated laptop who struggles to share what are in his mind. I consider this effort as the fulfillment of what I really wanted to do.
My three simple messages this time are: we should never let what in the eyes of others is a financial handicap hinder us in pursuing our purpose in life, we should put to full use whatever in the eyes of others are little things that we can afford to have for it is a blessing from God, and, we should endeavor to spend only what is enough for our needs and let what is left find its way into the hands of others who have more use for it. I learned those hard-earned lessons along the way of my life.
So, there…because of this fad called “blogging”, my life got spiced with unexpected hilarities…it is like saying: something happened on my way to….
Nonetheless, I am enjoying everything that I do, every bit of it, if it is the only way I could make use of what God gave me, until He finally blows off the tiny flame of my soul, without expecting any assurance that I will be allowed to knock at His door when that time comes.