Jay Abello

Why I Refuse to Give Up on My Dream

My dream is simple. I want to write books and screenplays endlessly, and I want people to enjoy them. As always, there are, however, complications in reaching it.

Today, I received a book from one Filipino author I look up to. She was the first writing mentor I had whom I actually met in person. The other two, I only had the opportunity to converse with through emails. And what she wrote on the title page (since I asked for her autograph) caught me motionless. Not that it was entirely personal, but it did cause a pinch. In a good way. Here’s what it said:

I wrote this to remind myself that we can be fabulous at any age — and also choose new things. Hope you are well!


In 2013, I had been published in the US. I celebrated it, as it was the first affirmation I got that my talent wasn’t put to waste. But that wasn’t the best year of my life. 2014 was.

For in 2014, I was at my peak, my God-given talent used at full speed. I was at the top of my game. I released yet three other books and met Director Jay Abello, who taught me the ropes of writing for the movie industry. He even brought me to Bacolod to watch him shoot RED for CinemaOne Originals.


Direk Jay, discussing the script to me. Photo was taken by one of the RED production staff.

But then, as it always did, life happened. I had bills to pay and a family to support (since my father left us more than eight years ago, and it wasn’t any different with my partner as he also did four years ago) and the next thing I knew I was parking my passion so I could actually earn from a prestigious job that paid well.

My job grew on me, no matter its complete disparity with what I loved doing. A graduate of AB English, minor in Theater Arts, proudly at the top of my class, you wouldn’t expect to find me holding a position in the retail industry. But I was, and I couldn’t say I regret a moment of it.


That’s me on the furthest right. My team (a third of it, since they were the only ones left for the closing shift) serenaded me on my last day at work.

So I ventured into photography as a hobby, a resort to keep my creative side intact, and hung out with people who knew people from different walks of life. I met mountaineers and journalists and simple everyday people who lived the life they chose for themselves. Since I couldn’t write, my mental energy used up when I get home, they were my way of clinging to my hopes of keeping the artist in me alive.


Fast forward to more than a couple of months ago, a personal situation had forced me to quit my job. I had to attend to matters and even with my leave credits (since I couldn’t use them most of the time), I simply couldn’t fit everything into place anymore. I had to let go of something that had helped me keep afloat.

Now, I am back to where I started, trying to connect dots, trying to get back the opportunities I have lost the past 2 years, and wishing I could do my 2014 success — and more — all over again. It’s exhausting, once you overthink about it. Then again, wouldn’t you say I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be?

Miss Mina Esguerra wrote two things that was unknown to her to be personal to me:

  1. That we can be fabulous at any age. I am at my 31st year (more on that when I finish my supposed birthday post), and to me that means books and movies, lined up along the shelves of my private library at my future house.
  2. That we could choose new things for ourselves. THAT MEANS LEARNING. And I choose to write and take photographs and learn other skills. For I do not know how long I’d still be living in this world.

I refuse to give up on my dreams because I have reached for them once. I intend to do it again. This time, fabulously and with new armors.

Thanks, Miss Mina, for reminding me.


A Man Named Red

Could people as young as these really set eyes on each other once and then fall in love for the rest of their lives? If so, I envy them…

RED and Mai as Kids

While Direk Jay, the team and I watched the Maskarra parade on our third day, Milton told us about Red’s young adult years with Mai and how their love for each other was undoubtedly beyond compare. Year after year, they shared the beauty and the colors of the Maskarra together…until Mai decided to leave to find a better life.

RED Maskarra (1)

On our fifth day, I’ve been stood up.

While it’s true that the Regalado ambush had taken most of Red’s time, I’d been hoping still that I’d be able to talk to him…to ask him about his life, about the many people he’d already met and helped, about his one great love.
And while I waited with Director Jay and his crew, Milton told us about how Red’s love for Mai had been the mirror of the kind of love he received from Molo,  the man who took him in as a kid and treated him as his one true son.

Red Sylnor's (3)

Day 10.

Days and days of walking around the city without any smile to greet me or my companions, I almost gave up. Since the Regalado ambush, air had been eerie and danger apparently loomed. These heavy feelings seemed endless, growing more and more intense each second that passed. They were haunting these lands. And they were hunting the man I’ve been dying to speak with for weeks now. Where do I find you, Red? More so, will I ever have that chance before this man does?



A Man Named Red

I met Director Jay Abello a few months ago and have been writing for him since. We have fairly different ideas on things and so I believe what makes us stay, working with each other until now, is our love for the arts.

Just a few weeks ago, he told me about a man named Red. The man isn’t known for any other name and barely a few people know where “Red” or he, himself, actually came from. Popular in Bacolod City, Philippines for helping people with their problems and issues, Red sparked a great amount of interest within me. I wanted to meet him. Immediately.

So I traveled to Bacolod City with Director Jay and a few of his men to see him. Here’s the first sunrise that greeted me there.

Taken from the plane at 06:20AM

Taken from the plane at 06:20AM

We brought our luggage into our hotel rooms, freshened up for a few minutes and went into the streets to find him.

We didn’t meet him, though, on that day. It was kind of expected, actually. A man as popular as him to the people was going to be hard to track down; I should have known. But I did meet his very good friend, Milton, whom they called Bacolod Central Market’s Rock Star. No, he wasn’t a stage performer. He was a great radio drama actor and storyteller.

Here's Milton inside his radio booth

Here’s Milton inside his radio booth.

And he brought me back in time to meet the little boy that was Red and the little girl who stole his heart.

Red and Mai

Will be updating more soon.