The Ugly Duckling Phase

I am not so certain whether all of us go through this horrible stage in our lives (normally during puberty or adolescence), because there are people who are accidentally blessed by nature to be born beauties and remain just like that throughout their lives, while some find themselves to be ugly ducklings – despised by the society for their weird looks, having their hearts wounded by people who tell them that they’re ugly, and suffering from very low self-esteem – only to find out later on that they’ve grown up to be very beautiful swans.

I was a cute toddler back then, and I felt that I was the prettiest when I was 8, for several of my male classmates made their interest known. When I turned 9, I felt like someone put a nasty spell on me because it was the start of my ugly phase. I found myself the ugliest when I was in sixth grade (12 years old) wherein a lot of breakouts surrounded my whole oily face, the fats in my body probably didn’t know their right places, my hair was always tied in a low ponytail, and my skin was awfully dark. It lasted until I was 16, which explains why I haven’t lived my high school life to the fullest. My ugly phase lasted for eight years, which is undeniably a very long time.

It was very hard to live during those years. I personally think that I was reincarnated to search for my soul mate, which proves why I first got infatuated at the early age of four. Having been a Plain Jane, or rather, genuinely hideous, it was hard to be not taken seriously by guys and occasionally get rejected. It lowered my already low self-esteem. It was hard to live with other adolescents, who were rather very superficial and egoistic. No one really cared about this ugly little lady.

But look at just how my beloved Britney Spears grew up to be a very pretty lady:

Right now, I just feel happy that I finally get complimented that I am pretty. It feels like an achievement for an ugly girl like me. It feels delightful that even strangers say how pretty you are. My relatives often exclaim about how pretty I’ve become, how I look like a movie star, and that they think I presently have many suitors laying their hearts on my feet. Well, I have finally gained handsome suitors – but I can’t say that my love life has gotten very good. No. The fact that I have finally gotten out of the ugly phase and seen its results gives me an ego boost, but my heart can't escape from being terribly tattered.

Some people say that young people who are naturally handsome at very early ages tend to have their beauty fade quickly, some people who look pretty normal and don’t undergo the ugly phase don’t have much improvement, while ugly ducklings take their time to be ugly and will just surprise you one day when they suddenly turn incredibly gorgeous that you’ll regret you’ve bullied them years ago. Lots of celebrities were ugly ducklings once, like Taylor Swift and Audrey Hepburn. Just imagine how exquisitely beautiful they have become!

Some of us may have experienced those times wherein just looking at the mirror is a complete visual torture, and we avoid looking at mirrors so as to avoid hating ourselves too. I know that going through the ugly phase is definitely embarrassing and awkward, but wait until you reach the peak of manhood or womanhood. Our bodies and faces are naturally changing over time, and although these changes aren’t really pretty to look at, the real you will finally show years later. We just have to trust Father Time to take care of all these things. If you are currently going through this, just accept the fact that you are still very young and you still have lots of time in your hands. Just focus on improving your mind, body, and character, and let time expose your real beauty when it’s already the right time for you to blossom. 

Please also read my poem which is about this topic: The Last Bud

Marimar and Maria

My true self is Marimar. Most people here, especially my friends, call me Marimar, although my name is Anthea. Marimar is a happy girl who loves to be surrounded by people and have their attention. Some of her friends say that her presence is just for entertainment purposes. Sometimes, people do not take her seriously. She hates being bored; and when boredom strikes, she is prone to getting her friends’ attention, probably just to play with, even if they’re tired or busy. She also loves going outdoors especially in the afternoons when the sun still shines but its heat is still mild, and the wind blows through her face and curly hair. She loves to hug her friends, especially her roommates. She is very feminine, and is not afraid to show it. She is also labeled as being a “baby” by her boarding housemates. She is very romantic and innocent when it comes to the matters of the heart. Marimar does not have evil thoughts. She voices out everything, even the shallowest of her thoughts. She loves chitchatting. She is an optimistic and confident girl, because she believes that she is as pretty as the goddesses of Mount Olympus. She is a natural flirt, but is very far from being a prostitute. The most exact definition of her is a typical innocent teenage girl. Imagine Britney Spears when she was still on her teens, or during her “Baby one more time” and “Oops I did it again” days.

However, Maria, my alter ego, is different. She just suddenly takes over my being usually under negative circumstances. She is very, and unusually, silent. She also walks slowly and silently. She does not wear a smile on her face – or if she does, it is usually forced. Maria is very sad, miserable, and angry. She does not like to socialize. She just does things on her own, and hates to be disturbed. She doesn’t look others in the eye; but if she does, or if she has to, people would see the fieriness in her eyes. Her aloofness and coldness does not indicate calmness – in fact it is quite the opposite. Maria’s soul is in red-hot flames of inferno. This negative calmness felt in Maria’s aura is just a wall built between her and others to prevent any chaos. Marimar’s passion is still owned by Maria, but is turned into a negative one. Usually, Maria comes up when I am provoked. Marimar is really patient and tolerant, and may also disregard the negative intentions of people, so the degree of fury has to be very high for Maria to come up. Maria usually hurts people through words alone; but when it is not enough, she resorts to violence. She is very impulsive and brutally honest. She has a tendency to get knives but her glare alone is murderous. Maria forgets all the happy memories she had with the people who hurt her and is hungry for vengeance right away. However, after Maria has released her rage, he immediately returns back to Maria and usually forgets anything that has happened. 


Of Genes and Society

            Every individual is unique as they are molded by the traits they inherited, their personal decisions in life, and their environment. It is nice to know that who we are isn’t only a product of heredity for the traits that we have gotten from our parents and ancestors are just luck if they happened to be good, and misfortune if they happened to be bad, like a chronic heart disease for example. I am personally glad of the traits I have gotten from my parents as evidences that we are related, and of the traits that I have gotten anywhere from the environment around me as I am still forming who I really am and who I really want to be to cope with this identity crisis that most teenagers like me are experiencing. 

            I am a self-proclaimed Plain Jane since I was still a little girl, and the earliest evidence of it was when people were starting to compare me to my little sister. She gained more favors from the people around us just because she was cuter, and it took a long time for me to accept that fact. Every girl believes that she is pretty, you know. And that’s the truth. When we were little girls, I remember my Mama tell us how pretty she was in her college days, and how many her suitors were. I had ten boyfriends, she said, and that was too much for us. Admittedly, I was a bit pressured by it because she is my mother and she was so attractive when she was a young maiden, and I wanted to become like her. My Papa, however, isn’t that good-looking. I can assure you that. But I won’t say that he is ugly either, because I love him. Being a Plain Jane because of my father can be okay sometimes, but girls just want to be pretty always. It’s just the way we are designed. However, our society undeniably highly regards beauty and the opposite happens to those who lack beauty. Beautiful people were always perceived as good, talented, and intelligent even though that’s not always the case, so I started getting conscious of my appearance when I enrolled here in UP. I guess this is also a side effect of being a teenager – wanting to have a boyfriend and all, experience dyeing your hair, buying clothes that match your taste, and so on. I believe I am a late bloomer. I am not actually boasting, but having lots of people say how pretty or attractive you are would make you think of yourself the same way too, right? So that’s what happened. I was born simple and plain, but my environment pushed me to become like Britney Spears. I am a big fan of Britney Spears, by the way. And way back in my elementary days, I wanted so much to be like her. 

            I am also a shy girl. When I was a little girl, I couldn’t afford to face strangers. I don’t like interacting with them. I always hide in my room for hours whenever there’s a visitor in the living room. Shyness is also a problem when you have talents, for you are prone to be belittled often because no one knows about your capabilities. The people who always have their own way are those who are not ashamed to show anything, and the problem with shy people is that they can only look at those people with envy. My shyness was also paired with perfectionism. I didn’t like to risk trying because I was shy and so afraid of committing mistakes. I was afraid of ridicules that follow erring. There were plenty of workshops and high school activities that may have banished this restricting flaw of mine, but only in UP was it gone. Of course it wasn’t gone completely, but I have gotten out of my shell because of the liberated and carefree ways of UP students. My environment now taught me to be true to myself and show who I really am, although my past and present self may be contradicting. Sometimes you’ll never know who you really are until you are pushed by the society to reveal your true colors. 

            I truly had a feminine nature for as a little girl, I already loved pink with all my heart. I also loved Blossom from the Powerpuff Girls. Bubbles may be cuter, but I loved Blossom’s long hair with a ribbon and her pink dress. However, I turned tomboyish as I grew up, and I started to despise pink and replace it with blue because of “public opinion” in our elementary school that pink lovers were kikays. I also thought that shying away from your femininity was cool. Before, I was a dorky girl who always wore her hair in a low ponytail. I really did look like a loser. A pimply loser. However, when I started reading the classic novels, especially those with settings in the Victorian era, I started to realize how endangered feminine ladies were nowadays. Also, I am a fan of Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and Cleopatra despite their seductive ways for they really did know how to make use of their femininity very well. I’m lucky to have a hair that’s naturally straight on top and curly at the bottom. I also love my petite figure. These physical traits are actually typical in those damsels in distress. Therefore, those classic books and internet articles on “how to be a lady” taught me to embrace my femininity again. Sometimes I don’t even realize how “pa-girl” I am. People just say it. Probably it’s because unconsciously our thoughts become our actions. 

            I also believe that my creativity is innate, for as a child, I already loved to draw and color them. I could finish doodling in two pads of paper in a day. I also loved scavenging for anything to read inside the house. I also loved to dance in girly tunes (e.g. songs of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera) and sing in our karaoke the songs like “How Do I Live” by Trisha Yearwood. My love for the arts (both visual and performing) and literature came from my mom, although her passion for these things wasn’t as intense as mine. My passion for these things was ignited by high school projects and contests, as well as leisure. Also, my “intelligence” was believed by my parents to have come from my grandfather, for neither my father nor my mother excelled that greatly when they were still schooling. They were just as relaxed as my little sister. I also believe that this “intelligence” that I possess did not come from me or my efforts alone, for it just happened that from kindergarten until college, I got enrolled to competitive schools that offer high-quality education. I was just also influenced by my classmates who excel in their own fields of specialization. 

            I also have my own imperfections: a bad temper, absentmindedness, and stubbornness. I think I got my bad temper from my mom who kept on voicing out her little annoyances from time to time. I can be maldita sometimes, and most of teenage girls are. Before, I get easily offended. However, now that I live with different kinds of people in this diverse university, I’ve learned to control my emotions and be tolerant of other people. Living in a dorm or boarding house gave me a charming disposition, a smiley face, and patience that you would normally give an annoying little brother or sister. My absentmindedness is something I feel like I’ll have forever. I have trouble concentrating on a certain thing, because I am easily distracted by anything. I have a short attention span like that of a three-year-old. My head is just always in the clouds, and I often catch myself staring into space. Because of this, I often embarrass myself and make big scenes in the quiet lives of people. I usually have a hard time getting over humiliations, but this time, I’m glad that people just regard them as funny commercials in the midst of their serious lives. My stubbornness is something that I had ever since I was little. This quality was stuck on me, for my Mama always call me “tigas-ulo”. It was a negative thing when I was still a toddler, but now I find it very essential. I really have a very tight grip on my unpopular beliefs and principles, and as long as my reasons are right in my eyes, no one can influence me to change what I believe in. I was actually influenced by my chosen religion (not Roman Catholic) to fight for what I believe in. But I am a Christian. Religion is just a very sensitive topic to talk about, whatever the circumstances are.

            I guess 50% of my traits are inherited, and 50% of them are from the influence of my environment. Inherited traits are good proofs of belonging to a certain family, and are good stuff to begin with in forming our own selves to what we wanted ourselves to be. Anything that’s natural in you besides your good looks is good because that’s how God designed you to be. He already picked out our initial traits, that’s why He knew us even before we were born. It’s a nice thing that we were given free will to decide for ourselves on how we wanted to complete ourselves. Knowing that the choice of friends, institutions, and environment would greatly affect our behavior, then the “nurtured” part of us is a choice. Each of us is a product of parental genes and societal influences. 

(Psych10 paper about Nature vs. Nurture)

Where His Love is Written

Back to the antediluvian times, everything was fine. The green foliage of the trees, dewy grass, dainty flowers, clean air, lofty mountains, crystal clear water, chirping birds, playing animals, and swimming fishes were still freshly sculpted by the hands of a Supreme Being. Everything was good until the passage of thousands of years paved the way for the intense booming of the human population and the advancement of technology which permanently degraded our natural environment.

Environmental problems are seen everywhere around us, but are often ignored because of people’s indifference – they prefer to give more attention to their own selfish desires. The Earth is now full of nasty things like air pollution, water contamination, soil erosion, global warming, ozone layer depletion, human overpopulation, deforestation, extinct and endangered species, and so on. While some of the causes are natural, like volcanic eruptions, humans still have a big part in damaging the earth. Oftentimes, overpopulation gets blamed for many environmental problems; but the advancement of technology has a big transgression too. People think that technology will make their lives easier but all those factories that cause air pollution, refrigerators that produce CFC, and fancy perfumes will actually help ruin their lives later on.

Being a literature student, I deeply appreciate studying environmental science. Lots of popular and unknown authors get inspiration from nature in their writings. Sometimes, just looking at nature is already poetic. They give us a sense of security, awe, and beauty that no words can ever describe. The Creator’s love for man is written upon every pretty flower perfuming the air, every dog waiting for you all day to be patted affectionately, every shoot of grass, every sparkling drop of water, and every little thing that testifies His desire to make His children happy. Studying environmental science is a great way to realize this. Subtly, like literature, environmental science has its own way of turning our heads to the beautiful things in life.

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” – Genesis 1:26, 28

Studying environmental science reminds us of stewardship, which is a theological belief that humans are responsible for the world, and we should take care of it. We should at least show our gratitude for nature’s duty of letting us live gleefully while enjoying its beauty. We belong to nature, just as nature belongs to us. We must save our planet because the destruction of Mother Nature will certainly lead to the destruction of human race too.

(an essay assignment in EnviSci10)

Man and Woman

This is not another Soc Sci 5 (sex and gender) preaching about feminism. Women, especially innocent young girls, have little or no idea about what really men are and how their minds function. However, having some few observations in my environment, and talking to a good man in his thirties, it feels like I’ve already taken a sneak peek into their minds.

Being just nearly eighteen, I’ve just fully comprehended how men and women really differ. When I was in elementary, boys my age loved to tell sexual jokes to annoy the hell out of girls. There were many things that exposed me to sexual stuff like TV advertisements and indecent newspapers, but I tried to ignore them because being just a little girl back then, I was disgusted by sex. My mother told me and my sister about it when I was seven and she was five; and even though she wasn’t very biased in speaking, I’ve had an impression that it was an immoral, disgusting, evil, horrifying, yet very tempting and pleasurable deed. And whenever I see TV news about a girl about my age being a victim of rape, and having my Mama tell me what rape is, I automatically had the impression that the rapist was possessed by a demon of lust. I also happened to read in a Health and Home book something about rape that happens in marriage. I suddenly remembered that Mama told me that after a girl has been raped, she becomes pregnant. I was enlightened by that fact. How else would my mother conceive me and my sister? I was shocked back then and I was like, “My parents had sex with each other?!!!” It was the start of the corruption of my innocence. Well, I hope my notion of sex then was forgivable, because it seemed to me that girls are victims while the boys are oppressors. My relationship with my male classmates weren’t affected though, because we were still on the same level of innocence, and at that time we were still fascinated by the Jollibee mascot and amused by few of our poor delicate classmates who fear that big fat bee.

As time passed by, when I was a preteen, I noticed that boys started to get shy around girls and hang out with their buddies of the same sex. They started singing rock songs to make them “astig”, and started winking at pretty girls at a distance. I was still childish back then even though my body was already starting to develop into a womanly one, so I despised the fact that boys weren’t so close to girls anymore. We couldn’t even play tag in those days, because it would give others the impression that we were flirting. I was about ten or eleven then. My boy classmates were learning how to woo a girl and outgrow their childish ways of getting a girl’s attention. They were starting to wear clothes hiphop-ishly. Girls also started to take care of their appearance. They started to put baby powder on their faces during recesses. Some even wear clothes that show off their curves. Some already started to display their beautiful legs by wearing short shorts. We were starting to be aware of the opposite sex. It was the start of our development of sexual attraction.

When I reached high school, I guess my remaining innocence about these matters were only about 25%. I was shocked by the fact that some of my classmates when we were just freshies already had boyfriends during elementary. We were just twelve years old then! And so, it was in high school when I became conscious of my looks. Because of utter curiosity, I started having boyfriends in text messages first. I get shocked by sexual messages by random male textmates. I was disgusted, and so I searched for better people with whom I can experience true love. Well, you see, I was actually a believer of soul mates, true love, and forever! I could just laugh at myself for being too influenced by fairy tales. I also hear gossips about our old classmates having several boyfriends or girlfriends, kissing this and that, and being not a virgin anymore. Sex and virginity were very sensitive topics for me, you know. And so, I couldn’t help but judge them. We were too young! I was also wondering how two high school couples could have sex with each other. My idea of a romantic relationship was holding hands, shy smiles while sitting beside each other in silence, a simple peck on the lips, romantic dates on restaurants, and plans of marriage. I wondered how girls, especially pretty ones, could be lured into doing such a thing. Okay, you may be thinking that I am prudish. Although I may be, you couldn’t blame me for I was aware of Bible verses against fornication and was taught by my mother not to give my virginity to any guy until marriage.

Like most teenage girls, I’ve been courted, wooed, and asked to be one’s girlfriend. Well, you see, I was once very innocent that the romantic idea of having a boyfriend, especially a handsome one, engulfed me. My penetrating gaze couldn’t still see through their souls of what they really want because I was blinded by the sweet things that they’ve done to me – buying me roses, saying “I love you”, complimenting my beauty, paying the bills in a restaurant, holding my hands while walking, smiling sweetly at me, and gently kissing my lips. I thought that having a boyfriend was an uplifter of social status. I’ve had boyfriends to satisfy my emotional needs and romantic idealisms. I thought then that men and women were the same.

It wasn’t until now that I understood the main difference between men and women. Like most girls, I have also read in some internet articles that men are very visual creatures. They get attracted to every beautiful girl that they see. Pastor Nelson told me that he finds me very beautiful (modesty aside), and that I should be careful because of it. He told me that guys about my age are just looking for sexual pleasures. Whenever men see a beautiful woman, they feel a strange and great desire. It was really the way God designed them, he said. Men think on their wrong heads – their heads inside their pants. *if you know what I mean* He said that that was the reason why Satan uses women to make men stumble. That is the reason why men look for girlfriends. They want to satisfy their sexual desires. You may also notice that male authors frequently use sexuality in their works. This is really the way we are designed: men are driven by lust, while women are driven by emotions.

Would I still believe in true love? Pure love? Love without lust? Yes, beautiful women naturally trigger men to desire to hug and kiss them – or simply desire them. I have learned that fact in the novels that I have read: Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden and The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo. Beautiful women are not coveted by men for love alone but for wanting to get their virginity so bad. This was hard for me to understand at first because I am a girl and I am not God to have access to people’s minds. I haven’t fully realized it until a good man I know in his thirties told me of this harsh truth. Now that’s the difference between men and women.

Letter to My Ten-Years-Younger Self

Dear 7-year-old me,

            I miss you. You were a na├»ve child, full of pranks and you love to play outdoors. You didn’t care much about your education, food, and especially your looks. You didn’t even have a single crush. You were a very simple girl – you weren’t seen wearing a pair of Barbie boots and a single accessory. Your two front teeth were just beginning to grow, but you loved to wear your mischievous smile always. You didn’t care about anything. All that you complained about were the days when your little sister didn’t have classes while you did. You were happy-go-lucky. You just didn’t care about the world. You even dance to the songs of Sexbomb Dancers. You always sing every song that is pleasant to your ears. You were skinny, but the signs of health were seen on your rosy cheeks and lips, curious eyes, fast legs, and enthusiasm in life. You were still so little back then, but bravery was already seen in your eyes. Brave but vulnerable at the same time.

            I wish there really was a time machine and I could hand this letter from the future to you. This is the seventeen-year-old you. I know that you’re wishing now to grow older, probably about this age, to experience being pretty and having boyfriends. I tell you, do NOT wish to grow older. Enjoy the present. Learn anything that you can, whether it is from the classroom of from your own personal tragedies, because you will need the wisdom you would gain in the future. Life is about struggling, so you are lucky to be just worrying about being the “it” in playing tag. I am the result of what you are doing to yourself.

            Well, I still look much like you, except for a few changes. Your flyaway hair, which was once straight, and which you like to wear in pigtails, is now long, wavy, and brown. You would love how your hair would curl in the future. It really is a lovely sight, I tell you. You are petite now, right? Although I now have curves and a little fat in my body, I am still considered skinny. That’s why you should give up the hope of being fat. Many girls skip their meals to have a body like yours, though not as skinny as that, so love your body. You are actually blessed. I still have those chubby cheeks of yours. But it’s okay though, because it hints a streak of innocence despite my sort of matured face. People who don’t know you think that you’re snobbish, right? It would still be until the end of the days. But don’t worry, first impressions don’t always last. Those who try to harm you with their words are only threatened by you. Someday you will soar high above them. Mark my words. You will. Prideful people who have treated you like shit in your younger days have now not-so-successful life. They’re not as good-looking as you will be after ten years. All about you that you’ve hated are now your assets. Learn to love yourself, I’ll tell you why:

            The cause of your jealousy for your little sister is the way people treat you differently. It’s because she has a sweet face while you have a serious and snobbish one. Your natural expression probably irks some people. However, that was how God made it. Trust in Him. Your pair of Arabic eyes which you got from your father is an asset. You have a piercing and penetrating gaze. You nose which was too big for you when you were younger, especially the moment you were born, is now very beautiful and coveted by others. You have a high nose bridge which fits your beautiful “kontrabida” image. You sweet little lips are still small, and together with your chubby cheeks, they display your inner child. They are contradictory with the alliance of your nose, eyes and eyebrows, which are fierce and intimidating, but beautiful at the same time. You have a very beautiful combination of facial features. When you smile, your eyes give a piercing twinkle that is very attractive. Nobody would admit it, but some men have told me that they are so attracted to my smile. You do not display innocence in your looks; only sexiness and attractiveness especially when you smile. Your innocence is your charm, but it is only felt in your aura – but your aura is dominated by sexiness. Perhaps the most beautiful possession of yours is your hair. Its ringlets are very lovely and they add to your sexy look. You really are silly, but people cannot help but notice that trait of yours. Just endure the sexy jokes that boys will throw at you. They can’t help it.

            I am not here to show you how pompous I have become. I am not. I know that you have a low self-esteem because you were frequently bullied in your early childhood. You also inherited your father’s shyness. Early on, you’ve felt you’ve experienced too many trials. You really have; and it would be more in number is time goes by. Wanna know why? You’re destined to walk on a tough path because you are destined to become a polished diamond, with your entire luster admired by the world. You’ll find how valuable you are later in life. Anyway, believe me when I say that you will be very pretty after ten years – or even prettier as the years go by. You are not a head turner, or a woman who’s attained society’s standards of beauty, because you do not look like a Filipina. People around you say so. However, you are the kind of person who’s exceptional, one-of-a-kind, and hard to get out of thoughts. People will hate you for your natural charisma that’s hard to define. You have a look that you are profound and principled. People will think that you are snobbish because of that. You always do things very well. You are not a performer, but you are born to be one. You just hide your charisma behind your shyness. You are often the center of attention without meaning to, because you emit a kind of aura that’s intriguing. Even in group pictures, you can easily be spotted because of your charm and beauty. You may not gain the world’s favor, but you know deep in your heart that you are not just an ordinary girl. Many will claim to be unique, but the one who’s truly unique is you.

            You’ll have many suitors and you’ll experience lots of heartbreaks. They will break your heart because of your weirdness and ugliness; but once the flower starts to bloom, bees will swarm again around the blossom that they once despised. Again, mark my words: people who have done you wrong will soon realize their mistakes and will try to make up but they’ll eventually realize that you’re already out of their reach. You’ll learn how to avoid toxic people in your life without letting them taste your revenge. The remorse that they’d feel once they lose a special person like you is enough. Through time, you will learn that you must be with quality people too because it is a disgrace to be treated like crap by people who are a hundred feet lower than you. Each time you are polished by trials, it shows on the outside. Despite your shyness, you have a natural luster that other people covet.

            By and by, you will idolize Britney Spears. You will love her prettiness, charm, and singing and dancing skills. By and by, you will also unconsciously become like her. You will bloom into a very pretty girl and have attention-devouring charm even if you are just quiet and reserved. People will praise you on how well you sing and dance, but you only do them just for fun. Nonetheless, they are an addition to your other gifts. I know how simple you are. Don’t you know that you will bring your simplicity with you until you grow up? I don’t wear accessories and I just wear my hair down. However, even natural simplicity still commands attention because like what I have said, you are on your way to become a polished and valuable diamond. Bit by bit, your sheen shows. It also shows on your face. You are weird and simple, yet pretty and charismatic.

            When you were five years old, you resolved that you would become an astronaut when you grow up. However, you may also notice that you loved drawing and coloring your drawings. You loved to read; and you search for the whole house for anything interesting to read. You also loved to write whenever your heart is bursting with feelings. Paper is your best friend. After ten years, you wouldn’t study courses that could lead you to high-paying jobs. You will pursue Literature. It suits you very well because you are as unique as your course sounds. You are profound, and in that field you will gain much general knowledge. You actually dreamed of becoming a lawyer, but you will just be contented in being a teacher and a writer because you have high morals and you wouldn’t settle for a dirty job like a lawyer’s. For now, I still don’t know further about your future – but you must believe in yourself, because you can do anything when you put your mind to it. Remember that life is about struggling and you must never ever give up. You are a very special girl and I love you so much.


17-year-old Anthea

The Joys of Youth

Youth(n) – the period of human life between childhood and maturity

Some people want to go back to their carefree childhood while some people want to grow up quickly to be powerful adults. While childhood is a happy life period wherein our innocence makes us blissful with our simple pleasures in life and adulthood gives us a sense of satisfaction after we finally finished schooling and attaining our dreams, although a very critical period, the best time of our lives is our teenage years.

In our youth, we can have the best of both worlds. We still have our childish, carefree, (sort of) innocent, happy, silly, and impulsive streaks from our childhood; but we already have advanced knowledge, developed (and beautified) bodies, more physical strength, leveled-up skills, and more feminine and masculine appearances brought to us by our inevitable development and maturity. It is the time where we strive to be the person we have always dreamed of. It is the time when our characters are developed by different trials and unexpected adventures. It is the time when we are allowed to become what we want to become, and pursue the path that we want to pursue. It is a period full of experiments, wisdom learned the hard way, infatuation and heartbreaks, and rainbows after storms.

In our youth, we can just happily trot around and never care for anything in the world. I am often absent-minded and I am glad of that flaw. Those moments of absentmindedness pave the way for my precious reveries that are soon forgotten. Even those fleeting things are a blessing, for they provide seconds of happiness and give no place to wrathful and jealous thoughts even for a short time. Taking long and quiet walks to familiar destinations is enjoyable in our youthful days, like just going to a plain cafeteria. With our remains of innocence, sense of awe and a bit of spirituality, nature still succeeds in bringing peace to our hearts. The sense of security brought by the lofty trees, the pleasures to the eyes brought by delicately tinted flowers, and the amusement given by the innocent and simple-minded animals – all of these contribute to our delight whenever we feel younger than ever. As youth, we still know how to have pleasant times despite hectic schedules, pressures of schooling, personal tragedies, and our little annoyances. We can just frolic around, go to any places unplanned, talk about silly things, guffaw and get laughed at for your guffaw, do anything you want, learn more about the things you are passionate about, open our hearts to any kinds of experiences, and forget to take a bath sometimes. Sometimes we just have to ignore for a moment the things which the world reckons “important”.

They say that humans are naturally egocentric, self-centered, or selfish. However, when we become adults, have a stable job, eventually marry and have our own families, most of the time we do things for our children, thus we could just barely buy things for ourselves. So, are you in a hurry to grow up? At least in our teenage years, we do most things for ourselves. We eat everything anytime we want; we could sleep for hours and hours depending on how much rest is coveted by our bodies; we could devour lots of books greedily for our pastime; we could frolic on the meadows and act like little children; we could learn endlessly about the kinds of knowledge our brains yearn for; we could buy anything that we believe would make our skin smooth and pretty; and we could try to be experts in certain fields. Sounds REALLY selfish? Fortunately, there is a good side to that. These pampering of ourselves, ways of satisfying our desires, and doing whatever we want is our way of preparing for the dull and toilsome adulthood. After you graduate college, believe me – you’d want a time machine to enjoy life again. Your need for endless hours of sleep and insatiable appetite for food is your body’s way of saying that it’s on its way to physical maturity. Your great passions hint on what you could be professionally doing when you become an adult. Your need to always take care of your appearance, spend hours in taking a bath, and knowing the kinds of clothing that suit you prepare you to look presentable like a respectable pretty lady or handsome gentleman on the years when you’ll fully become a woman or a man.

Youth is the most beautiful period in our lives wherein we are molded by our environment, but mostly by ourselves, to be someone with a good purpose in life and a valuable place in this world. This is the time when we unconsciously and bit by bit say “byebye” to our precious childhood and slowly proceed to another stage in life. This is the time when we gradually look like what we are supposed to look – complete with feminine curves, soft facial features, and other touches of beauty and grace for girls; and masculine countenance, gentlemanly manners, prominent jawline, and traces or strength and nobility for boys – but with the added glow of freshness brought by the youthful years behind. This moment is critical for our development and path to be taken in life is decided by us – for we have long ago broken free from the overprotective grasp of our parents. We are no longer the gullible and vulnerable little children whom we used to be. We are in between maturity and immaturity. This is the time when we progressively define who we really are.

It would be better if we avoid growing up too fast and just enjoy the present condition that we are in. Little children who act like adults and avoid running outside to play pretty much lose so much of the joys that childhood has to offer. Every stage of life has its own benefits, comforts, and happenings that suit us. Every stage of life has its own beauty. Being a seventeen-year-old lass, I love how these youthful years make me true to my personality and enjoy life while letting me grow up and become a better person as time passes by. 

The Moment

The Moment by Margaret Atwood (Analysis)

The MOMENT WHEN, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,

is the same MOMENT WHEN trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can’t breathe.

No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way around.

Poetic devices:

Form: Free verse

Theme: It is nature that has power over humans, and not the other way around.

The theme of the poem is nature ownership. Atwood’s father is an entomologist (insect scientist) that’s why she spent half of each year in the Ontario wilderness until she was eleven. Atwood’s fascination with the Canadian wilderness is present in so much of her writing. Atwood is an environmental activist; and environment is one of the things she shows support for aside from feminism and social justice.

The first stanza addresses someone who claims something that is of nature. In the second stanza, Atwood uses imagery and personification to convey that nature rejects the fact that mankind owns it. The third stanza reaffirms that humans indeed do not own nature and that it is humans who belong to nature.

The first stanza suggests man’s claim of nature’s ownership. The first and second lines “The moment when, after many years of hard work and a long voyage” is an emphasis on how humans strive to gain or have possession of something. Also, the phrase “a long voyage” may hint Vikings or some people of that sort who travel through seas to conquer lands which are not theirs. Notice that “room, house, half-acre, square mile, island, country” is written in an increasing size order that emphasizes how far or great the land area humans may conquer. The third line “You stand in the centre of your room” may just suggest man’s self-exaltation, or a feeling of being the center of the universe. And, believing that nature has been made to serve them or be their “slave”, men claims ownership of nature thus thinking that they have total control over it by doing whatever they want to do to it like abuse it.

The second stanza suggests nature’s rejection of the fact that mankind owns it. Notice the verbs used in this stanza: trees UNLOOSE their soft arms from around you (the trees are kind of hugging you at first but then stopped because unloose means to unfasten or untie esp. a knot, and it’s kind of stopped nurturing you and it’s supported by “soft arms”); the birds TAKE BACK their language (The language of the birds is literally their chirping, which is like music to our ears. When they stop chirping, our life becomes kind of dull.); the cliffs FISSURE and collapse (the cliffs started to have structural weakness and lack of support, thus leaving humans feeling unstable); the air MOVES BACK from you like a wave and you can’t breathe (the movement of a wave is kind of gentle, and although it is how the air moves in the poem, it is evident that even the gentleness of nature’s withdrawal has a great effect of humans to extent of being unable to breathe). The verbs are showing nature’s act of withdrawal from their responsibilities to mankind perhaps as an act of rebellion, for the moment men tried to claim that they own nature, it is also the same moment that nature try to abandon humans. The poem uses “enjambment,” or the continuation of meaning, without pause or break, from one line of poetry to the next, in the first and second stanzas. This application of enjambment shows that these two stanzas are closely connected, as they were being compared as the same moment happening at the same time yet there is a great contrast between them. The first stanza shows a positive feeling from men’s perspective the moment they proclaim that they have control over nature; however, the negative verbs from the second stanzas show nature’s refusal of that fact, and they show by their actions how they are the ones who really control men and not the other way around.

The third stanza affirms that mankind does not indeed own nature. “No, they whisper. You own nothing.” The nature in the poem may just openly say “No,” but it whispered because nature’s way is gentle, which can be seen on the second stanza. They just strike big blows, like throwing calamities back at us to release their bottled-up fury. “You were a visitor, time after time” suggests that even before we were born, nature is already there. They preceded our existence. Humans may die and just get replaced generation after generation. Humans are temporary beings on this earth, just like visitors on someone’s house, while nature’s existence is permanent. “climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming” is just a line of imagery used by Atwood to indicate mankind’s tendency of possessing something after conquering it – because after you’ve strived to climb a hill, planting a flag on it indicates a sign of ownership, and by “proclaiming,” men just have a tendency to show off or boast after achieving a difficult task. The last three lines “We never belonged to you. / You never found us. / It was always the other way around.” is the nature’s way of saying in the poem that mankind does not really own nature but it’s really the other way around. Men are just little beings living on earth that depend on nature to support their lives. The poem shows that nature has more power and significance over men. Also, when we die, we get buried under the earth, rot, and become a part of the soil; thus, it is really mankind who belong to nature.

© Anthea Cabrestante & Ulrick Fernandez
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