The thing called “Passion”

It’s Saturday. It is the time of the week when I have my “me-time”.  I woke up late and had coffee and watched makeup tutorial and vlogs. Then I started to worry  for my upcoming advocacy event but decided today should be all for myself. As an introvert, a time alone is  very sacred. So  I paused and made my month-long reflections.

Looking back, my dream job had always been to be Ms. Saigon in West End production. My  other  dream was to be a Disney princess. I wanted to be the character voice of empowered women like Princess Jasmine and Mulan. Obviously I am a fan of Lea Salonga. The funny thing is  I always thought that these childhood dreams can happen in my lifetime. Later on, I realized that these childhood dreams of becoming international (charot) were  beyond my reach, I had downsized my dream from a Broadway star to a media personality/ TV reporter. Eventually, I took speech communication in college because I thought this was a step to fulfill my dreams.

Fast forward, none of these bizarre dreams ever made to reality. I had experienced the uncertainty of a fresh graduate, the mid 20s’ quarter life crisis, and my gradual transformation to adulthood.  These have led me to where I am right now. I had experienced not just the quarter life crisis but existential crisis.

I did not become Ms. Saigon or a Disney Princess  but what was clear to me I wanted  have a  purposeful life.  If I had to un-filter my words, I wanted to do “something big.” This narcissism which is partly a mixture of self-love and self-loathing  is one reason why it took me years to think like an adult.

I may have never become a performer in Broadway  but I have found a stage  where I can move an audience, influence their values, change their opinions, and even appeal to their feelings, just like a theater actress. Like Mulan, I have become an advocate for women empowerment.  I am quite thankful that I have found a space where I can speak, share my principles, and fight for the rights of others.

Working in the development sector has provided me a platform to propose solutions on the issues faced by the vulnerable sector of the society, especially women. I get to advocate reproductive health, violence against women and other pressing issues faced by women and children.

When you read self-help books or  hear motivational speeches, they always tell  you that you should follow your passion.  But the question is: “What is your passion?”

For me, I discovered that singing is not my passion (hehe). I thought it was. Acting is not my passion. (Akala ko rin haha) Writing is not exactly my passion, just a tool for my real passion. My passion is to serve others: to think of ways on how we can help those who are vulnerable, neglected, and forgotten in the society.

jackie at Nov21

discussing policy issues on sexual abuse and exploitation of children

And my dream is no longer to be Ms. Saigon but to have a more caring society where everyone is treated with dignity  and respect and every place is a safe place for women and children so that there will never have to be a real life Ms. Saigon, an Asian 17-year old girl who was forced to prostitution and ended her life eventually.

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I remember when I was still working for a corporate, I tried to audition with a theater group, and eventually got accepted. I tried for three nights but I realized  I just could not balance my regular job with my so-called passion. Then, our preacher said to me. “God  will find a way to use your talent.” The next day I quit. And continued with my corporate job after a few years, I became interested with advocacy work.

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advocating reproductive health with local officials

How do you find passion? Passion from its original meaning is suffering. Find something that’s worth the suffering.  At the same time, it should be rewarding. I love singing but singing did not love me back (hehe)

You can never go wrong with helping others as a motivation. My generation is always fond of recognition and accomplishment as a yardstick of their personal worth. If you put helping others as an inspiration in what you do, you are no longer living for yourself but living for others.

JACKIE LDS2

While writing this reflection, I know there are many people out there who are thinking about  how to be productive and make meaningful lives.

Here  I am saying it’s okay to be idealistic and to set high standards for yourself or to keep principles. I became an advocate because I strongly believe in justice, compassion, equality, and empowerment.

We are the authors of our lives. It is up to us to make it interesting, worthwhile and meaningful.  Perhaps what I am trying to say there is a place for those who are idealistic and visionary. Go and find it.

 

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Feminist Lens: What dreams are made of

I’m not the right person to talk about goal setting. I am just good at dreaming. I personally advocate to make your own dreams, follow your heart’s desire.

Dreams don’t only talk about the future but they also talk about our existing values, our interests, and our priorities.

I read an anecdote of a mother having a conversation with her son. Her son wrote in his homework that he wanted to be the driver of a train. The teacher corrected her son’s homework. She wrote : “To be a manager of the train station.”

Should the teacher correct the little boy’s dream? What if being a train operator is what the little boy really wanted to be?

I have heard many stories on how parents would like their children to be doctors, nurses, lawyers and how students struggle to finish a degree they don’t like.

If ever I become a mother, I will not insist my dreams to be my children’s dreams. They will be what they want to be.

This leaves me with a thought that we are not entitled to impose what people should aspire for. When people tell me what I should be and what I should want to have, I silently respond:
“Who are you to tell me what I should be?” “What do you know about my dreams.”

If I am not happy receiving unsolicited advice on how I should live my life, why should I do the same to others?

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A month ago, I facilitated a short activity for a group of women in the community. In our activity Buuin Natin Ang Ating Mga Pangarap, we ask each woman to make a vision board. The group was composed of full-time mothers living in Brgy. UP Campus. They cut out pictures from magazines and newspapers and put them all together in a cartolina. Some dreamed of having a business, owning a landline, and serving good food for their family. I take it as a sign of hope that somehow they have aspirations that will eventually make them entrepreneurs in their community. As expected, everyone mentioned having a good life for their family.

If you belong to the first wave of feminists, you would preach that you have the choice to work outside home. Do not let yourself be confined to the four corners of your home. You can be so much more than be a mother and a wife.

I was supposed to end the activity with the women by saying, “Have a dream outside home, outside family. Have a dream that you can call yours, not your husband’s dream, not your parents’ dream, not you family’s dream. “

But I just couldn’t remember if I really said it. Maybe I did not say it at all because deep down I questioned my position to encourage women to aim a little higher and “dream for yourself.” I had some introspection. Maybe these things are easy to say because I am young, single, childless, and middleclass.

I have enjoyed my single life and perhaps my motivation of the things I do is to reach self-actualization. Like other millennials, I constantly question my purpose in life. Sometimes, I subconsciously equate purpose with profession, paycheck, or any validation from the society. And again my formula is about me and my dreams.

But for some people, family is a strong motivation to keep a job, to get a promotion, to start a business, to take risks, to keep your momentum and zest in life. I rationalize this by saying,
“You make the most of your ability when you know that there are people around you who depend on you, like a captain of the ship, like a pilot, like a CEO.” For me, that is a form of empowerment. When you are able to produce milk for your child, when all the members of the house are well-fed, when you ensure accessibility and availability of resources not only for your family survival but for the development of their capacities, motherhood becomes a serious endeavor that requires management skills, with targets and deliverables.

If we ask most mothers what they dream of, the answers will always be about family. Should we as feminists, dream of enhancing and strengthening our personal relationships? Should it be part of our agenda to make better mothers and wives in the world?

Without being too theoretical, feminism wants women to be their best version of themselves and that covers many facets of a woman’s life

The purpose of the vision board activity is not to promote a new set of values but to find commonality in our dreams as a women’s organization. Because within these similarities, we draw strength from one another to reach great heights.

From a Ted Talk quote:

“Coming true is not the only purpose of a dream. Its most important purpose is to get us in touch with where dreams come from, where passion comes from, where happiness comes from. Even a shattered dream can do that for you.” – Lisa Bu

Why should we deprive ourselves from the joy of dreaming? Whether it’s small or big,for work or better life, whether it comes from a selfless notion of motherhood,  a dream is a reminder that we can be so much more than what we are today.

No art, no he-art

“The arts are not just a nice thing to have or to do if there is free time or if one can afford it. Rather, paintings and poetry, music and fashion, design and dialogue, they all define who we are as a people and provide an account of our history for the next generation.”

-Michelle Obama

Sometimes people ask why you buy books,  handicrafts, materials for scrapbook and painting, watch a play, a concert.  I wonder why people have to look for special reasons. I do acknowledge that there are more important things in this world but I don’t think that it’s a waste of money nor waste of time  to be involved in these art forms. I think art is an investment. Most of the time, we think art in terms of its cultural value. But art has a personal value and has a long term-effect to an individual (whether you are a sender or receiver of art). In the same way how food nourishes our bodies, art nourishes our senses. I am not saying spend more on movies and concerts and spend less on food and clothing. I am not saying go and watch an indie film. I am not saying buy a book even if you’re broke or start collecting comics and paintings. Engage in an art that is accessible and palatable to you. It may be a visit to a museum, studying make-up or reading a graphic novel.

Art is not for the middle-class, for the élite or educated. Some people are willing to spend for liquor and buffet meal but find it expensive to buy a book. Some people buy the latest gadgets but question you why you buy a ticket for a live performance. It’s strange because these are equally unnecessary for survival yet we find a high calorie dinner and an extra cellphone more acceptably rewarding.

So why is it not a waste of money and time?

Art is an experience
Experience may seem ephemeral but experiences cannot be taken away or stolen. An experience is personal, priceless and unique. You cannot copy experiences and you cannot borrow senses. Hence, a friend who shares you how convincing the movie is, how amazing the concert is,  is different from a friend who shares another apple to you.  What you notice a lot in a live performance, or what you see in a mural is not always the same with others.

wicked stage

Wicked Stage

Art makes us human
We are way beyond our biological functions. We are the only creatures that can appreciate design, craft, and showmanship. We sense. We feel. We favor certain sounds and colors. We critique. I guess we should practice what is innately unique in human nature. Let’s find beauty in shapes and sizes, find satisfaction in sounds, sights arrangement, and rhythm. Everyone has an inner artist.

found this painting on SM North

found this painting on SM North

Art gives us another way of looking at things
An example of this would be a bed scene or an adult scene. These are scenes that some people are not comfortable to watch and talk about. You try to close your eyes watching a nude scene because you think you’re not supposed to see it. I just watched Cock of Redturnip Theater and the adult scenes were very intimate. What’s interesting is that the actors are fully clothed and barely too close to each other.

cock

Art mirrors feelings, aspirations, and reality
As the common definition of art in textbooks, “Art is an imitation of life.” A piece of art is one interpretation of real objects, people, life events. He might be a designer, playwright, poet, makeup artist or a graphic artist. Sometimes, I watch a film, I discover not only new ideas, but new feelings, new dreams or maybe they are just suppressed thoughts that are overshadowed by daily routine. When you listen to music, or read a short story, you think there is a medium that identifies your emotions or represents your thoughts.

Art when done with good taste, it adds depth to humanity
I don’t want to sound too serious nor do I want to sound like an activist but sometimes art gives inspiration. A novel can call for a revolution. Paintings teach history and religion. Spoken word poetry (I’m such a big fan) makes beautiful life stories.

Art is a product of hard work, great minds, and talent
This explains why a piece of art is pricey. Every product of art has to go through a creative process and every artist deserves a talent fee. By supporting what they do, you are continuing the  legacy of a special breed of human race who are passionate in what they do.

 

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