‘Young Blood’ and ‘I’
At 21 and a clean slate on the boyfriend record, I decided to write about my search for love in the virtual dating jungle that is Tinder.
“Princess seeking prince” was published in September 2014, in the Young Blood column of Inquirer. It was under the pseudonym “Tinderella,” and written in the first-person—something I felt was against the very core of my aspiring journalist being.
If there is one thing I learned from journalism school, it is that writing in the “I” perspective must be avoided at all cost.
The “I” defeats the purpose of writing in an objective manner. Crime stories, Senate hearings or fiasco, and earthquake reports must be told in the third perspective, naturally.
Credible sources, eyewitnesses and numbers speak for itself; and the writer’s task is to report facts accurately, contextualize, crunch numbers, underscore the significance and, more importantly, seek the stories worth telling, champion the underdogs.
With that in mind, I feared writing in the “I” perspective. There is the fear that the reader would categorize me in the Me-Me-Me Generation or Generation Wuss—self-centered know-it-all with writing selective of its audience.
“Nobody wants to hear about what you think,” went the voice in my head whenever I type the word “I.”
This is the age when everyone wants to be heard, but no one wants to listen. The time when families and friends are engaged in heated debates brought by divisive issues; “unfriending” and “unfollowing” on Facebook is the new norm; and journalists are called “presstitutes,” discredited by hatemongers, trolls and bloggers spreading alternative facts and watching the world burn.
So, I asked myself, “Who would listen to the petty woes of my heart? I know I won’t.”
There was also the constant struggle with this notion that writing—and publishing—my yearnings and thoughts made me vulnerable and naked. It felt like asking the world to come at me, here are the things I want and you can use it for or against me.
A Twitter user asked “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda how he had come to terms on feeling exposed from his writings, to which he replied: “The 1st time I said ‘I imagine death so much it feels more like a memory’ in public I felt fuhucking NAKED. If you feel it, someone else has.”
“I” was the demon that I slayed when I submitted my essay for the column two years ago.
“Princess seeking prince” is among the 75 essays published in “Young Blood Six: The Best Essays published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer from 2014-2015.”
In the first pages of the book is a blurb from my essay that says I want a boyfriend who knows syntax and the proper use of punctuation. To quote Lin-Manuel, I felt fuhucking naked the first time I saw it. But I am not alone.
Most of the essays in the book are written by members of Generation Wuss (millennials), and “Young Blood Six” is a throwback from the not-so distant 2014-15. It is also a reminder of how far our nation has gone.
In those years we witnessed the triumph of love in the United States; the recovery of Leyte from the wrath of Supertyphoon “Yolanda”; the visit of the merciful Pope in the Philippines; and the gaining of social media followers of a late dictator.
The essay “You calling us ‘wuss?’” by Lian Nami Buan defended our generation when American author Bret Easton Ellis called us a bunch of wusses.
She noted how the millennials of Hong Kong, idealistic and oversensitive, are the ones who went against the government and stood on the frontline in the massive protest in 2014.
Fast forward to 2016, the Philippines’ very own Generation Wuss led the protest against the haste burial of deposed dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Generation Wuss? More like Generation Woke.
Still, the book has essays about timeless dilemmas of teens and 20-somethings: Love—the lack of and the search for it; depression and the insufferable grief that comes with it; coming of age; the longing for loved ones; school blues; carmageddon and the sorry state of public transportation in the country.
The essays challenge norms, they call for change, understanding, openness, love and acceptance. Some essays might even appear like random musings for others (as in the case of “From Hair to Eternity” by Ryan L. Faura), but they are real talk for some.
“Imagine them naked,” by Juan Miguel Severo, talked about his journey of stage performance, and in the process, finding himself naked—“Vulnerable but empowered.”
Most of the stories are also told in the “I” perspective, because that is exactly what Young Blood asks: “We want to know what the youth thinks…”
The risk of writing in the first-person is that readers might feel indifferent from the piece. But in these essays, readers, young and old, will (hashtag) relate; readers will feel in the pages they are not alone for being weird, jaded or underwhelmed.
When Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc created “Young Blood” to make Inquirer a feeling newspaper, she opened a two-way communication between the paper and the young readers.
In doing so, she turned the popular youth column into a platform where teens and 20-somethings can unload their hugot.
In my almost two-year stint with the Inquirer, I learned that there are many ways to write a story. But, there are just some stories that call to be written in the “I” perspective, because no one else can tell it better than I.
“Young Blood Six,” edited by Ruel S. De Vera, Rosario A. Garcellano, Pam Pastor and Javier Vicente D. Rufino, is the sixth volume of the best-selling series published by Inquirer Books.
It will be launched at 6 p.m., on Saturday, April 22 at National Book Store, SM North Edsa, Quezon City.
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