Posted in Everything Med

Bitter Truth of the NMAT: Part II

Part II. Learn from your Mistakes: Dos and Don’ts for the NMAT

When Applying:

  • Go to www.cem-inc.org.ph/nmat/ and be mindful of the application period.
  • Cheap trick: if you ever encounter pixel problems for your NMAT photo and have photo editing apps such as VSCO cam, just crop your photo into a square and save it according to the needed size on the site. Note that you have choices “small, medium, large, and actual size,” along with the pixel dimensions written under.
  • I know this is a matter of self-discipline, but don’t pay on the day of the deadline. I’m worried for you. If laziness gets the best of you, pay online. I don’t have to tell you this. I dunno. I’m just concerned.

When Studying:

  • Do not take it for granted because the test is not easy. Not only do you have a limited amount of time to answer the items but most of the items themselves are difficult to answer.
  • Do not cram your review, study a month or two before the test, but this doesn’t mean you need to constantly burn the midnight candle as you did during the finals of your last year in college. The earlier you start, the better. Information sticks more when you take your time understanding a concept, not merely “dangling on to the though of it”.
  • Read sparkly notes. It’s a good general outline of the major subjects, although not quite for Chemistry and Physics. Search *subject* sparkly notes pdf on Google.
  • After refreshing your mind with (not too much) crash course videos on YouTube, high school/college notes, and “101” pdfs, REVIEW THE PRACTICE SET EMAILED TO YOU BY CEM. Its level of difficulty is in par with that of the actual test. And if you really want the concepts to stick, rationalize the part two of the practice set yourself.
  • Don’t stress on the MSA. It may be helpful in terms of its rationale but most of the items are too difficult. The practice set is better.
  • Search Math tricks, memorize some of the square roots, internalize formulas and be quick to look for patterns. Practice and analysis is key.
  • For the Part I, practice is key. I can’t exactly tell you to “study the dictionary”. It all boils down to how wide your vocabulary has grown through the years. Or just internalize some of the items in the practice set. I remember some came out.
  • As far as I could remember, here are some of the things you must focus on in every subject; more like a coverage. Char.

Part I (four subtests, 40 items each for 3 hours):

    • Math, the basics, actually. You’ll be given equational problems, word problems, and graph analysis.
      • Internalize Area, Perimeter formulas of common shapes
      • Basic Right triangle principles
      • Rules of exponents and fractions
      • PEMDAS
      • Basic arithmetic principles (also arithmetic sum, but you can do away with pure logic if the “n” isn’t astronomical.)
      • How to analyze graphs
      • Factoring, Foil Method

Part II (four subsets, 50 items each for 2 hours and 30 minutes):

    • Biology (Difficult, for a non-biology major like myself)
      • Mendelian, Population, and Molecular Genetics (the basics)
      • Botany (Parts and functions of different plants, short-day/long-night and short-night/long-day plants, phototrophism and other -phisms, don’t like botany, important plant enzymes, parts and functions of a plant cell, photosynthesis, etc.)
      • Evolution and Diversity (Darwin, symbiosis, etc.)
      • Basics of taxonomy and zoology (biomass, etc.)
      • Ecology and the biosphere
      • Basics of AnaPhysio (If you’re a paramedical course grad, don’t worry.)
      • CELLS
    • Physics (Easier than Chem and Bio, for me, that is.)
      • Kinematics (Displacement, Velocity, Acceleration, Equations of Motion and Projectile motion)
      • I know you know Newton’s laws by heart
      • FORCE (but don’t break your head on torque and moments)
      • Work, Power and Energy (Kinetic, potential energy, etc.)
      • Linear momentum and impulse
      • Waves
      • Light waves and basic optics (Focal point and stuff)
      • THERMODYNAMICS and calorimetry
      • Electricity
      • Basics of magnetism and electromagnetic induction
    • Chemistry (My gosh I cannot even, tuon jud dai):
      • Atomic structure
      • Electron Configuration and basics of molecular geometry (Sp’s and the hybrids and whatnot)
      • Patterns in the Periodic Table
      • Bonds, their nature and types
      • Ideal Gases (Charles’, Boyle’s, Guy-lussac’s)
      • Thermochemisty (enthalpy)
      • Entropy (general idea)
      • Molarity, Molality, Normality
      • Colligative Properties
      • Chemical Equilibrium
      • Acids and Bases
      • Oxidation and Reduction
      • Nuclear Chem (Nuclear Fission, Radioactivity and Nuclear Reactions)

               This is the most of what I can give and remember.


The Judgement Day:

  • Sleep early the night before. You can’t afford to doze off during the exam. Time is gold.
  • Go early. Not just for yourself but for your roommates too.
  • Relax. A clear mind is a thinking mind.
  • What to bring:
    • Plastic Envelope
    • Sharpened pencils, don’t waste your time sharpening them during the test
    • Sharpener, because what the heck
    • Candy
    • Jacket because you can’t afford to be frost-bitten
    • NMAT EXAMINATION PERMIT
    • NMAT ID FORM
    • A valid ID
    • Yourself, your faith and determination. You can leave your fears behind.
    • Money for celebratory food trip after exam
  • PLEASE wear your wristwatch. Time is gold. The NMAT is not just a test of knowledge, but a test of time too.
  • Release the Kraken (Pee/Poo) BEFORE the exam because for the Nth time, TIME. IS. GOLD.
  • When the proctor says, “you may start now,” START AND THINK FAST AND FORWARD. Ain’t nobody got time for brain clots. (What I did was read the entire passage through so I didn’t have to look back when I answered the questions. But we have our own styles.)
  • For the image tests, TURN THE BOOKLET AROUND who cares what people think, you gotta go to med! But seriously, it helps.
  • It depends on your strategy but what I did was finish all the easy questions leaving an hour and a half to finish Quantitative Reasoning and Numerical Ability, which for me, are the most challenging.
  • LEARN THE ART OF ELIMINATING. Especially when the item requires you to pick out the black sheep. You’ll be surprised by how much faster you can answer using this skill.
  • Write the alphabet in one line on your scratch paper. Use it as a template for analyzing patterns for the letters under the Numerical Ability section.
  • For Part Two, follow the time allotted. 35 minutes for Bio and Social Science, 40 for Chem and Physics. Your call, your strategy.

BOTTOMLINE: No matter how hard you study, it all boils down to how you take the test. So my best piece of advice is for you to RELAX and THINK CLEARLY, THINK CRITICALLY.
Because when you look at it, the NMAT isn’t exactly difficult– it’s challenging.

I wont say good luck, because the NMAT’s not solely about luck. Instead, I’m gonna say I KNOW YOU’VE GOT WHAT IT TAKES, SO SLAY THAT TEST! 

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Posted in Everything Med

Bitter Truth of the NMAT: Part I

Part I. Why I took the NMAT twice

Contrary to popular remarks, the National Medical Admissions Test is not an old T-shirt you could scavenge out of your high school and early college “stock” knowledge, so please oh please don’t take it for granted. Well, unless you’re a genius with an eidetic memory of some kind, it’d be lemonade on a sunny day. I’ve had friends telling me, “kaya ra jud nang NMAT, Tal. I-run down ra ang high school lessons sa Bio, Chem, Physics ug Math (the NMAT is manageable, Tal. Just review what was tackled in Bio, Chem, Physics and Math back in high school).” I appreciate their words of encouragement, but if I were that friend I would give you the blunt truth, hence this blog.

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DON’T EVER DARE TO TAKE THE NMAT WITHOUT REVIEWING AT ALL, with exemptions for geniuses who know Biology, Physics, Math, Chemistry, Sociology and Psychology like the back of their hand. However, for average people like myself, I had to take it twice to fully condition myself that the NMAT does not go easy on Medical School applicants.

The first time I took the NMAT was last October 2016. I was fresh from our board exam so my brain was still recovering. But the NMAT doesn’t care about that. My biggest mistake was playing with the illusion my friends gave me– that I could hurdle the test with the aid of mere logic and stock knowledge. As per necessity, I bought the MSA NMAT set along the roads of Recto (it’s cheaper there. I bought mine for only 750 while in NBS, it costs 1115 php. You’d save like, a celebratory meal for Pepper Lunch after the NMAT exam). Some may do a full-grilling of the questions in the MSA, but as old as the reviewer is now, I’ve learned that it serves as a mere guide than actual study material. I didn’t enroll for a review center because I didn’t want to spend much knowing that some of my friends were able to get a percentile of 90+ from mere “self-study”. But of course, with “mere self-study” comes great discipline.

So what did I do with my “self-study”? A month and a half before the test, I skimmed through the MSA reviewers, got discouraged by how much I’ve forgotten the most basic concepts, and decided to watch “Crash Course” on YouTube; which wasted my time but was fun, nonetheless. I basically took the first test for granted, recklessly cramming two weeks before the test. I wont even blame it on the fact that I worked at the laboratory 600 hours a week because I had all the time to review. I cram-read the rationale of the reviewers, memorized the formulas a night before, and held on to the information like dangling on a cliff.

And ended up falling during the exam day.

Fifteen working days later, the mail arrived and read “66th percentile”. It was okay, but not enough for the schools I wished to apply to in Manila. Telling you about the struggles of my applications would be a different novel. Synopsis: it’s not “chill” especially when you’re not from there and when your college is waaaay over in Visayas. I had to have recommendation letters mailed to me.

I finally had a firm resolve to retake the test on March 26 because I lacked 4 points to be admitted in UERM. I had to take it seriously. Well, not too seriously because I still finished a couple of anime series and fanfics. But I finally made a review schedule and sticked with it, though I still didn’t enroll for a review center because work and poor. Haha. Jk.

I wont get into the details of how I reviewed for the test because of course, we all have our ways. But I’ll be giving you a few tips, dos and don’ts, and the topics to focus on, so tune in for Part 2.

Godspeed!

Posted in Thought Catalog

Excellence: A word gone astray

Excellence is a powerful word. It is mentality aimed by many and used by many. It is a habit practiced by many through struggle and exhaustion. It is an attitude countless yearn to attain yet wrongly say they have failed to do so. It is a word often misunderstood because excellence is not necessarily getting 100%, rather, it is giving 100% in all that you do. Excellence is a matter of doing everything in congruence to Magis which is a Latin philosophy of always aiming for “more” under the light of knowing everything you do is for the greater glory of God. Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam. The key to fulfilled excellence is finding God in all that you do and simply putting him as the pivot of all your works and doings.

Somewhere in the universal archive of everything, there exists a notion that excellence is being “perfect.” This idea probably derived from how “excellence” is used a unit for measuring the overall outcome of success molded after a series of challenges and tests. Using excellence as such is like hiding the gold under layers of soil– not fully realizing the goodness of its existence. One does not need to meditate on the peaks of China’s mountains for eons of years just to realize the full essence of excellence. It simply comes when one applies it in a way that would actually motivate the soul and not pressure it. When that individual has realized that excellence gives positive stress to achieving an end, success will surely come within his/her trajectory, like leaves flowing with a gush of wind. Success is the by product of excellence coupled with firm determination, commitment and direction– where one stands tall despite failure and moves forward despite the wounds and bruises; where one selectively absorbs the criticism needed for his/her travel still having a strong sense of purpose; where one learns from the environment to further mold his/her integrity into something that can push them to where they should go. All of these merely fall under the umbrella of excellence because excellence should not be considered an end, but a means.

The hands of a clay molder can also be associated to the idea of excellence. The longer they hold the clay into a specific shape, the more the clay fits into it. Such analogy can be compared to excellence– the hands being what we repeatedly do and the clay what we end up to be. Excellence should then be applied on the hands as the clay is molded to end up with a pleasant and useful pot. On the contrary, hands that did not exert effort will end up molding a pot of lesser allure and usefulness. As Aristotle famously quoted, “we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” It is through doing things with the best of your ability that will enable you to mold a pot that can securely hold your values and character needed in the journey to success.

Above all, the key to excellence is finding God in all things. If everyone starts looking at God to be the goodness in everything– in every atom or nucleus there is, they’d be destined to reach their end. This idea is a sister concept to positivity or optimism. It is not entirely to disregard the negative side but rather, it is to focus on the bright side despite the weight. It is only through this mentality that we can clear our minds to give space for our plans and thoughts. It is only through finding God in all things that we find the right end to our means which is excellence.

 

Everyone is born to be excellent. It is coded somewhere in our genes and amplified through effort and purpose.  

Posted in Thought Catalog

Heartbreaks: The Heaven in the Hell

Shattering hearts, excruciating emotional cruxifiction, the pursuit of possible escape and all the other ingredients that make up the ever-served heartbreak soup– all these bits and pieces are blended into a concoction that can cause paralyzing and deadly effects– that is the apparent extent of pain heartaches could bring.  Scientifically, heartbreaks are basically synonymous to physical pain, affecting the same region of your brain called the Anterior Cingulate Cortex (AsapScience, 2013) thus, it has the power to affect you not just emotionally but physically as well. Emotional distress, as little as we know, could cause an individual to experience branching unhealthy side effects– a broken heart could end up being a killer if the individual is not sane enough to mend it. “When you’re deep in the mire of heartbreak, chances are that you feel pain somewhere in your body—probably in your chest or stomach. Some people describe it as a dull ache, others as piercing, while still others experience it as a crushing sensation. The pain can last for a few seconds and then subside, or it can be chronic, hanging over your days and depleting you just like the pain, say, of a back injury or a migraine.” (Laslocky, 2013) Oscar Wilde once famously quoted that, “the heart was made to be broken,” and it indeed is normal or even healthy for our poor instrument for feelings and emotions to feel unbearable pain because pain, as my high school teacher once said, is a way to know that you are still alive.

Pain has been bethroned a negative feeling by mankind. There is no denying that it is, but if we look at the brighter side of things, pain is actually more than just apparent darkness and suffering– it is, as stated above, the feeling of being human.

Pain is a part of life but suffering is our own creation. We get physical and emotional pain during a growth period. Pain can act as a catalyst to let us know we need to grow, evolve even. When we lose someone we love, we hurt, no matter the cause. But with acceptance we feel the pain but do not suffer.” (Lynn, 2013)

And within the world of heartbreak is pain. Pain is in fact, the core of heartbreak and the very reason as to why many associate heartaches to negative phenomena. To most people who think only at the surface, heartbreak is dubbed the end of a certain eon of unforgettable happiness– the point at which one simply must dwell in his/her well of bitter darkness and melancholy. Yet again, this notion must find a way to open its doors to the thought that pain can actually have the ability to transform an individual– that it has the power to broaden one’s view of their current suffering and to activate a train of realizations and resolves. When life juices lemons onto your wounds, you have to ease the pain, wait till the platelets do the clotting and learn from such experience.

Yet, despite its tragic nature, there is a peculiar tendency for humans to adore the tales of heartbreak. Heartaches are probably as widespread and abundant as Coke– the phenomenon happens in every nick and corner of this globe because love is everywhere and heartbreak is a mutant of love– this is the shallowest reason behind humankind’s, more specifically the Filipinos, avid fandom of such literature. This is reflected in the vast library of Filipino novels that have been written– from Pedro Paterno’s Ninay, Rizal’s Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo to Dean Alfar’s Salamanca– the past and present faces of Philippine Literature collide in terms of loving emotional dolor. Filipinos are said to be highly emotional and onion-skinned and according to a Gallop Report by Jon Clinton, the Philippines ranks as the most emotional country in the world with 60% of the respondents answering a “yes” to the questions (Clinton, 2012). With affliction comes melodrama and melodrama is a Filipino’s main dish. This is realistically reflected in the Pinoy’s love for teleseryes and melodramatic movies. Some, if not most of the Filipino population is very love-oriented– be it discreetly or indiscreetly– an attitude that has probably risen from the mishmash of emotional shows on national television– teleseryes, for example. It can then be assumed that the Filipino craving for love coupled with the tendency to be emotional and onion-skinned would inevitably lead to numerous heartbreaks. Additionally, a story would be labeled a masterpiece by how much a reader can relate to the tale. It is said that you enjoy the stories that you can either relate to or that reflect your innermost desires which explains why Filipinos are coo coo for heartbreak stories.

Other possible reasons, however, are our country’s history and patriotism– is it possible for them to love the national masterpieces of heartbreak because they are Filipino? Or is this alien mentality a result of our past invaders’ influences? One thing is for sure though– Filipinos were never known to be patriotic– indeed some are/were but most aren’t. This explains why a typical Pinoy would rather buy the Hunger Games Trilogy on display at National Bookstore than Illustrado or MacArthur; or that a typical barkada of friends would rather watch Iron Man 3 than Panday. This mentality would be a result of the “baduy” nature of Filipino culture itself or the infamous colonial mentality. We are the product of our colonial history, which is regarded by many as the culprit behind our country’s lack of nationalism. Colonialism developed a mind-set in the Filipino which encouraged us to think of the colonial power as superior and more powerful (Licuanan, N.d.) The Hispanic-American-Japanese invasion would not be the sole reason behind Filipinos loving heartbreak stories but rather, their rule simply implies that our country was molded to be a multi-cultural child who does not fully advocate nationalism, as saddening as it may sound. This then slashes off the possibility of Filipinos liking heartbreak stories because they are of native production.

The society plays a gargantuan role when it comes to constructing the general idea of heartbreak. The phenomenon exists in this world as it is– as the thought of merely having your heart shattered into pieces– but the society sprinkles this idea with specific culture-related add-ons that make heartbreak a more complicated and diverse event. There are as many types of heartbreaks as there are branching types of love, but this paper would cover the type that revolves around eros and to narrow down the parameters of heartbreak, two types will be focused on: the biased or one-sided type and the heartache that involves the choice of both parties. This juncture will then be discussing the anatomy of both types.

Maybe it happens when you give him a kiss on the cheek on a January morning, after you’ve spent all weekend eating Chinese takeout and studying biology and you go to class with a feeling in the back of your stomach, maybe this is it, maybe we’re more than friends, maybe when we both watched Usual Suspects in our pajamas Sunday morning and fell into each other’s arms and it felt strange and sparkly – maybe that’s because this is it. And then he’s leaning back in his chair and gazing at that lovely girl with strawberry hair in the corner, and he texts her and she smiles and he nudges you from his seat, mouthing I’m pretty sure my Friday is booked now, with a wink. You smile back and tell him he loves sex too much, and he laughs at you and nudges you again just because he can, and you’re back to looking at your biology notes, and you’re still only friends. But the worst part is after he sleeps with her, when he comes over to your flat and slumps across your counter and asks you if you’ll make him ginger tea and brownies for his hangover, and you’ll both watch Seinfeld on the couch again because you can’t refuse him. You just can’t.” (Roman, 2013)

This excerpt from Arielle Roman’s anecdote of heartbreak descriptively depicts the underlying anatomy of a one-sided heartbreak– how there is this certain “feeling in the back of your stomach” and how your heart is even harder to understand than Biochemistry. It starts with this feeling that you and your supposed lover actually have something developing; the stage where you feel a flux of butterflies and elephants in your tummy because there is just this hope that sparks out in your mind– the hope that this could be something. Yet again, during the stage of possibly deceptive development, you experience inconsistencies that go against your fantasy– how the little things that he does to you (that melt you into a puddle of nothingness) turn void as you observe him doing the same to other women. Yet again, you still hope and end up getting hurt which is partially your fault because you expected it the first place. There is never a way to know what truly lies beyond the eyes of your lover– no knowing whatever intentions he has up his sleeves because observing his actions and sugar-coated words can never be logical enough. Roman ends her tale with “Hurt. This is one thing no one teaches you.” Which leads to the notion that falling in love is always a choice and you must always be open-minded enough to the consequences of such an act– you must accept the possible heartbreak at the end of your journey. It sometimes helps to be a pessimist.

“Jacinta wept when he entered her, her tears surviving mere moments in liquid form before being transformed into streaks of ice across her face as Gaudencio sought and found his rhythm. The act of procreation wreaked havoc with time: for Gaudencio, it was over before he knew it, his penis already retreating from its incursion into permafrost for Jacinta, it was an eternal night, ending only at the precise moment when she was about to shatter into uncountable pieces.” (Alfar, 2007)

In the beginning, Dean Alfar’s Salamanca may seem like a one-sided heartbreak tale but as the story proceeds, the two main characters actually show signs of trying to restrict their love for each other. It is clearly evident that Jacinta tries to focus on her life as a mother instead of thinking that she actually too is a wife. Same goes for Gaudencio who, being greatly aware of his past interventions, sets a distance between Jacinta and himself because he knows that Jacinta is a damaged gem that no longer is his. They both figured that they should forget their past, romance included, to keep their present lives intact. Yet again, it may have partially seemed so from the outside but there is still this enigma of regret and worries that wander in their minds– a mountain of “what ifs” and the forceful resolve of forgetting whatever sparkle they once had. Any reader would know, however, that Gaudencio and Jacinta truly loved each other despite the heck of a roller-coaster ride they’ve been through. This theory has been proven in the third chapter where they bore with each other’s presence. It was like they were physically and mentally there but emotionally absent. If felt like there was something under the blanket of this chapter– something that drove Jacinta to stay with Gaudencio and Gaudencio to take his life as a husband and father seriously. This would be the perceived long concealed love between the two. Jacinta’s love was just so unconditional that she gave Gaudencio the chance of his lifetime and chose to stay with him maybe not just because of their children, but because deep in her bosom she wanted to start a family with the man she “onced” loved. This is the most probable reason behind her “yes”.

Love is a sugar-coated monster topped with heavenly whipped cream, sprinkles, chocolate chips and cherries. It is a notorious concoction of the sourest and most bitter things in the galaxy and is the most paradoxical feeling known to mankind. It is an element that is devilishly hard to understand because it defies all logic– it defies everything. It is a magical and powerful tool for peace, at the same time tool for destruction. It has the ability to hold all your emotions and feelings at the palm of its hands and crush them whenever it feels like it, on the contrary it also has the magic to color a person’s tomorrows and erase all evil on the surface of the globe. It is in par with Mother Nature as it can possess an indefinable pulchritude yet destroy lands and oceans with a seas of tornadoes, storms, floods and the like. Love is overrated but it is that essential pair of glasses one needs as they walk through life because it has the enchanting ability to magically color the blacks and whites that fall within the range of our vision.

With all that said, it is now evident that heartbreak results from a mutation of love– the kind of mutation that rearranges or deletes sections of the genetic map of feelings that make up an individual’s heart. Love, as described above, is a very complicated thing and it would be illogical to say that it can never cause heartbreaks. It is like saying that a person taking Calculus can never have any failures. However, despite its complexity, heartbreaks and failures happen for a reason– reasons that can transform.

Within the pits of hell which we associate heartbreak with, there lies a library of realizations and resolves that arise only when one has gone through the worst. The most golden transformation blossoms from the most excruciating and difficult experiences– that is the heaven in hell.

“Eh ano nga kasi ang problema?”

“Gusto mo ba talagang malaman? Ako! Ako yung problema! Kasi nasasaktan ako kahit di naman ako dapat nasasaktan. Sana kaya ko nang tiisin yung sa akin na nararamdaman ko, kasi ako namili nito diba? Ako yung may gusto. Sana kaya ko nang sabihin sa iyo na masaya ako para sa iyo, para sa inyo. Sana kaya ko. Sana kaya ko, pero hindi eh. Sama sama kong tao kasi ang totoo, umaasa pa rin ako sa piling mo. Sana ako pa rin.Ako na lang. Ako na lang ulit.”

“Alam ko.”

“She had me at my worst. You had me at my best. Pero binalewala mo lang lahat yun.”

“Popoy, ganun ba talaga ang tingin mo? I just made a choice?”

“And you chose to break my heart.” (Valdez, 2007)

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Love gives chances and heartbreak is just the beginning; a loop in a roller-coaster trajectory. Love or life in general will always have chances in store for everyone, but they are not unlimited, in fact, they are as precious diamonds and gold. It is a matter of learning why these chances came in the first place and why life even bothered to give you another lemon. In the tale of love, however, chances arise from heartbreak, be it mild or severe– they always arise from downfalls. Also embedded in love are myriads of choices– choices that must not be taken for granted because there is no knowing they might be the last bundle. Valdez’ One More Chance dramatically tells the story of how Popoy and Basha held on to that “Spider’s thread” of their disintegrating love and how they managed to climb out of emotional turmoil and regrets realizing fully, after days and weeks of separation, that you see the true value of what you want and need when it is no longer with you. Love will always have chances, but they are like comets that only dance through the night skies in long-year intervals. When it shows you a door, open it because love changes what is probable and makes unlikely things possible (Condie, 2011). You will never know you love something dearly, until it’s gone. And the greatest thing is having it back.

“ “I want a child from you,” he said. “Son or daughter, it doesn’t matter. Only from you and me. Someone to remind me of what is precious, of what I’ve foolishly discarded without understanding, without respect, out of selfishness. Give me this and I will annul our marriage.”

“Why would I want to do that?” laughed Jacinta, deflating the tension brought about by Gaudencio’s absurd request. “ (Alfar, 2007)

Heartbreak makes you know the things that are precious and the things that you probably took for granted. “You’ll value something more when it’s gone,”– this cliche maxim is indeed a golden and true piece of knowledge but it is often taken for granted itself. In the excerpt from Dean Alfar’s Salamanca above, Gaudencio, his main male protagonist, was illustrated to be a creature of mad lustful appetite, even having a procession of men and women waiting to join him in foreplay, and this he did amidst his marriage with Jacinta who patiently waited for his homecoming back in Tagboaran. Gaudencio’s long and wicked list of lustful to-do’s is basically like a drug– a drug that deteriorated Gaudencio’s soul only to make him realize the importance of having a healthy spirit. He had what he needed– Jacinta, his writing skills and the hope of bright  tomorrows but he chose to turn things around by brushing off the feeling of contentment leaving Jacinta to suffer from his selfish and carnal cravings. After his long sinful journey however, he somehow came to a point there his sexual experiences no longer had the thriving ecstasy it once had and thought of what would have become of him and Jacinta if he hadn’t engaged into his self-centered adventure. That moment marked the explosion of his bitter regrets, making him come into the thought of weighing the value of his lustful interlude to his possible life with Jacinta, realizing that latter would have been more fruitful. And alas, he then returns to face sour rejection from Jacinta and tries to penetrate through her rigid walls of anger. In the end, Jacinta may have half-heartedly accepted his request but their eon of parenthood was romantically bland– the type that lived only to raise children and create a leaving and not because they love each other. Yet again, the underlying messages and feel of the chapter says otherwise. Bottomline is that heartbreak is an eye-opener to branching things and one of those things is the value of the gem you once loved and want to love back. Pain makes you delve into the past and collect the essential patches of memory that you need to ponder on in order to learn.

“I guess I loved you in that way. So what if you were flat-chested and had a dick? It was like having a relationship with any girl. Except the sex, of course. It all seemed to fall into place. You made me feel needed whoever I was.” (Vergara, 2001)

Heartbreak makes you realize the limits and rules of love; it makes you think outside of the box. The line above may seem to be a very camouflaged and typical dialogue in the graphic novel but it actually has the potential to be a Nobel-prize definition of love. Relationships are not all about sex and the “hoity-toity” (kilig) sensation– there is a deeper and more worthwhile underlying feel to it– it is the feeling of being needed, being someone, and feeling belonged and protected. This is Mature love– love that has reached self-actualization, according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. In Carlo Vergara’s One Night in Purgatory, Casey, the apparently straight man in the novel, had countless relationships with women only to realize after myriads of heartbreaks that Deio, his supportive long-time best friend was no different from the girls he romanced with. Love is not bound by sex because it has only two biological types rather, it is bound by the attitude and personality of the lover, be it a male, female or queer. What heartbreak led to here was Deio realizing that there are more to men than having that extra limb.

“I’m sorry Eric. I never meant for this to happen. Bill and I just… we fell in love. The fault is not with you, Eric. It’s with me. I’m really sorry. You ought to meet Bill. You’ll like him. He’s very nice. Oh, and do you know what he gave me last night?”

“Last night I dreamed of you… And it was so wonderful because in that dream… I saw you SMILE. I love you so much, JEN. Please take care. -ERIC” (Alanguilan, 1994-1996)

Heartbreak makes you realize and learn from your mistakes. Gerry Alanguilan’s Wasted is a very tragic tale about a Jen who betrays her boyfriend Eric for a coworker who she said was just a “friend.” The grief-stricken Eric then goes berserk, killing all the people that annoy him as he straddles long town. This juncture of the paper will focus on Jen and how she caused Eric to be the lunatic he was in the story. Jennie was a traitor– an inconsiderate and heartless woman who basically played with Eric’s feelings. Eric was more like a temporary romantic interlude to her pursuit of “true love.” She clearly wasn’t contented with Eric while the latter deemed their relationship golden and “ever-lasting.” To his dismay, he was left for an apparent coworker which switches his psycho-killer mode on. Basically, Jennie is the root of all the gory mayhem in the novel because she was the one who betrayed Eric in the first place. In the end, as she sees Eric’s heartly written letters to her, she crumbles up inside sinking in her own sea of regret. The most dangerous and violent monsters might actually have the softest and most caring heart because they are the ones who experienced the greater amount of loss which equates to the ounces of pain they experienced. From then on, Jen would learn to never betray again because of what Eric had done– killing innocent lives and causing chaos just because of his bitter pain from losing Jen. Some may even blame it on Eric being too sensitive but honestly, the lion would have been tamed if you never removed it from its leash.

“This is heartbreak. This is how it curves its way into your veins and twists its teeth into your neck and it isn’t anything like self-pity or weak but it’s the hollowness in your eyelids and that emptiness in your throat and someone’s always going to tell you that you shouldn’t hurt like this, but it’s okay.” (Roman, 2013)

In a nutshell, the mentality that heartbreak is a gift from the underworld must be eradicated because in reality, it is a gift from the universe. Embedded in heartbreak is pain and as what an age old adage of the universe goes: when there’s no pain, there’s no gain.

Yet again, one must always be vigilant. True it is that as long as there is love, there will be heartbreak– but it can be avoided. One must condition their minds to the fact that love is never logical and there would always be a pandemonium of thoughts and emotions that stir up inside of us. They must accept the event of possible heartbreak at the same time live their lives to the fullest. They must never love too much for the trajectory of love is always unforeseen.

The key is to embrace heartbreak and pain as your teacher and to be ready and strong at all times– to brace yourself for the duo’s unexpected slaps on the face. The key it to understand heartbreak and why the universe allowed such a phenomenon to exist in the first place.

It is a matter of being ready, sane, understanding and strong– to possess the ability to read between love’s scrambled lines.

 

References

Posted in The Critic: Exploring Philippine Literature

Exploring Philippine Literature: One Night in Purgatory by Carlo Vergara

It was said that everyone has feelings locked up… and that alcohol just opens those dreadful doors.

Alcohol. Exes. Long-kept and unspoken questions. Black tittle-tattles. Realizations. And on rare occasions (who am I kidding) Sex. These are all the cliche ingredients of heartbreak after-stories for the hardcore inamoratas and inamoratos (and those in between) out there. The minds of these tormented beings are just too jumbled, exhausted and beaten up that even gravity would be considered a negative and repugnant force. Love, as analyzed and described in my previous readings, is heaven and hell– mind it being heaven– and of course, your brain would be dehydrated of cerebrospinal fluid if you lose your so-called paradise. As your heart beats in a melancholy rhythm, you find it arduous to even eat and sleep– two gems of the millenium, or for college students, at least. After which, you start to reminisce bits and pieces of your golden moments of fun and laughter, all the way cursing your brain for doing such as you play The Script albums in your iPhone.

But this is but a mere (annoying and deadly) finger-post of your entire love life, and if you are unable to resist such tsunamis, you’d, logically, die. But heartbreaks are not all about these– it has a good side that could barely be seen– like a needle in a haystack.

Think about it. This Graphic Novel told me that there is more to heartbreak than just pain and suicidal thoughts. Having a shattered heart is like having your eyes freed from possible illusions and “Salamancas.” Love is, at times, deceiving, and I say that heartbreak is the cure to such deception. It is in possession of shattering hearts that you realize things that you never knew you thought of because your brain is somehow convening with your hearts deafening beats.

With heartbreak comes letting go, realizations and new beginnings. You venture into arguments that make you feel like you did the right thing.

This is, of course, for some cases. In this tale, however, this philosophy can be applied. People have long been dubbing heartbreak as a negative phenomenon, but it is because of the myriads of heartbreaks that Casey was able to realize that there are more to men that having that extra limb.

So it’s just the package, right? The only thing that’s stopping you from having a boyfriend is the extra limb? There are more to girls than not having dicks…

I guess I loved you in that way. So what if you were flat-chested and had a dick? It was like having a relationship with any girl. Except the sex, of course. It all seemed to fall into place. You made me feel needed whoever I was.

These are the lines that my mind danced upon as I read the novel. I can’t help but say that these lines that appear so camouflaged and typical in the story are actually the nobel-prize definition of LOVE. Relationships are not all about sex and the “hoity-toity” (kilig) sensation– there is a deeper and more worthwhile underlying feel to it– it is the feeling of being needed, being someone, and feeling belonged and protected. This, is what I would like to call Mature love– love that has reached self-actualization, according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

But let’s stray off the parameters of love for now (because I’m having a migraine) and tackle the other matter of the novel: GAYS.

Try telling that to the rest of the world! You’re marked for life. I’ll be your darkest secret for the rest of your life.

I don’t actually know whether Casey is gay or bisexual, but the truth of the matter is that part of being bisexual is being gay, logically. Since he has the hots for both sexes, we could validly call him a Bisexual. I, in all honesty, have nothing against the queer population– I actually find them to be great friends. However, I admittedly didn’t feel my “muscles and bones melting” after seeing Casey and Deio kiss– not the kind that Peeta-Katniss, Tobias-Beatrice, Sherlock-Irene, bring to my poor paralyzed soul.

But I hope you understand, because I don’t.

But fudge cakes, if someone’s gay, then be gay. There may be ignorant and judgemental people in the society but you can’t actually afford to walk through life with a mask, right? That’d be exhausting, emotionally and mentally. As what Elsa famously said, and I melodiously quote, “Let it go.” I need not mention all the other “Express yourself and who says you’re not perfect” twaddles here– they simply are written in the Milky-way’s archive of everything.

I think I feel a vein popping out now. This is all I have to say for I am squeezed into a dry pulp.

I would also like to point out that Graphic Novels are more fun to read because you can really *ehem* see everything. But there, however would be a limit to what an author can write.

Nonetheless, this Novel is still good.

P.S. I am listening to The Script as I write this. It really helps.

 

Posted in The Critic: Exploring Philippine Literature

Exploring Philippine Literature: Wasted by Gerry Alanguilan

Love is a sugar-coated monster topped with heavenly whipped cream, sprinkles, chocolate chips and cherries. It is a notorious concoction of the sourest and most bitter things in the galaxy and is the most paradoxical feeling known to mankind.

~

Wasted is, by far, the most outrageous heartbreak story required by this subject. The end was, admittedly “awwww-able” yet there was just some part of me saying that something was not right with killing a bunch of innocent citizens, thus in the end, I still sort of disliked Eric. Looking under the skin of this (rather gory and weirdly drawn) graphic novel, it simply tells a tale of a man who has gotten out of his mind because of the excruciating betrayal of his beau. I am confined in the thought on whether I favor Jenny or Eric, but my inner sensei instructs me not to favor both entirely. There is something about the former’s decision that irks me– it’s the insensitivity of her resolve. As for the latter, it’s just his being mentally and emotionally unstable. This I shall expound on and mind I mention that for this summary reaction, my criticism approach will center on character analysis and stitching the pieces together at the end.

I’m sorry Eric. I never meant for this to happen. Bill and I just… we fell in love. The fault is not with you, Eric. It’s with me. I’m really sorry. You ought to meet Bill. You’ll like him. He’s very nice. Oh, and do you know what he gave me last night?

“What he gave me last night”– let’s be straightforward about this. Jenny was breaking up with Eric and mentions that he’d “like” Bill and that he gave her something last night. If I were in Eric’s shoes, I would have punched her. I’m kidding but it’s true. Those were “truths” better left untold– need he know they had sex the night before? Jenny impersonates the type of lover who goes in a Library just to sniff the books and look nerdy– the insincerity of your purpose. She was uncertain of her feelings for Eric and yet chose to play the game. Jenny treated Eric like a character in a dating simulation without bearing in mind that Eric was human, still, and that he had feelings. I’d say his psychotic killing spree is 70% Jenny being the insensitive woman she is and 30% his emotional and mental instability. I mean– a gun won’t fire unless you pull the trigger. Jenny was Eric’s daily dose of sanity, and the former refuses any more doses causing poor Eric to go berserk.

Yet, at the end of the day, we have no right to choose for Jenny– all we can do is to judge her choice and all I can say is: since the story didn’t entirely describe Bill, I cannot determine whether what she did was right for herself. I, however, can say that what she did was quite tactless. I have no idea, however, if it was needed tactlessness or just a plain slap on the face.

~

I hate life! I… I hate love and I hate you because you’re happy, and I’m not.

Eric is the kind of guy who thinks right but acts wrong– the angsty type who tends to say a myriad of things at the peak of his emotions– things that may not be entirely true. He, as I mentioned many times before this, is mentally and emotionally unstable and abnormally sensitive. The monster within him was awakened that he found “peace” in killing citizens who touch his rope of patience. If Jenny’s sin was insensitivity, Eric’s is on losing control of his emotions and thoughts. During his killing spree, he seemed tamed in his world of the sour and bitter side of love that it fueled his bloodthirst even more– he was so enclosed in his thoughts that no good thought about love could penetrate. It basically illustrates the monster love has the power to yield there for dubbing LOVE a powerful and dangerous thing because it can hold all your emotions in one hand and crush it anytime.

But deep in the core of LOVE, there exists this sparkle of hope that, if found and cultivated, could bring about change and new life. Unfortunately, the moment Eric realized this, he was paralyzed by the weight of his sins, eventually succumbing to his death. I swear– what he did was even worse that suicide. He should have killed his Ex first then kill himself and not steal the souls away from innocent humans. Or, he could move on and find new love like all the other cliché literature.

~

Love doesn’t stop when the other one stops loving! Love can’t be passed around from one person to another, like some damned cheap whore! When you love someone then that’s it! You just can’t pass that on to someone else! Love means loyalty!

I need not explain how amazing love is because that is what I have been doing in my previous reaction emails. I, however, will center on the necessities of love.

There is actually some truth to this dialogue if we set the parameters on what “love” refers to here. In a gist, it basically means that loyalty is a powerful element in romance. Love is a creature that would turn into a beast if it sees betrayal. It is as sensitive as glass; it needs transparency like glass and it can be a majestic piece of art depending on how it is blown to perfection.

Sticking with it through thick and thin! Having no one else, loving no one else.

The greatest love stories that ever lived are the ones that have conquered the mountains on their paths. This is a rather cliché axiom that I need not entirely expound on but, au fond, this philosophy holds true for the novel. Jenny and Eric would have made things work, but Jenny was just overpowered by her “developing crush” that she bred a bloodthirsty beast. I mean, most betrayals start with– “justs.” Ugh. I don’t know.

At the peak of my jumbled thoughts stands the realization that what Eric did was still wrong because even if you felt like your romantic tale was perfect and eternal– you should never expect. Just hope– for there will always be unseen circumstances. “If you love someone, let her go,” should apply here because if it was, a group of fictional citizens would have still been alive. He would have moved on the right way, like all the other male protagonists in cliché love movies and whatnot.

Love is overrated.

This, by far, is the story which I found writing a reaction to the most DIFFICULT thing to do.

There is a part of this novel that I don’t understand– like something is telling me that Eric was partly right by wanting a loyal romance (which is what all romances crave for) and the other saying that Jenny did the right thing for the reason that Eric was crazy and that she would have had a better future with Bill. Practicality.

But still, I ask myself: What if Jenny read it before all the mayhem happened? Would they have stayed together?

Ugh.