Khiara Pasion

Better at Weddings than You by Mina Esguerra

I received my purchased copy of Mina Esguerra’s Better at Weddings Than You a couple of weeks ago. I read it the very day I received it, but only finished this morning because I got really sick and had to be brought to ER twice.

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The story is about the wedding planner slash goddess Daphne, and the newbie wedding planner Aaron, whom she was supposed to replace for a friend’s January event. There’s instant tension between the two, revealed deliciously from the very first page, and that gave the story the spice you would love until the last one. For while it’s about Daphne and Aaron, who were both more into the physical than the emotional, it is also about having to deal with one version of a love they no longer understood. And it had brought them together.

That version of love – though it came from a minor character’s rant – was,  for me, the ultimate take-away from the story.

This thing inside that tells you that you are not pretty enough, not good enough. Not good enough for him, and never will be. But you wait, and you do all the right things, because you are told that guys like inner beauty and good people and true friendship and surely, if you’re the only one who stayed after everyone has given up on his flighty, aimless ass, you’ll be the consolation prize by default, right? And who cares if you beat yourself up even thinking that, because it’s a marathon, right? Love is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s about support and friendship and companionship — not physical attraction and lust. It’s about patience. Don’t they all tell us that?

Because it happens differently to people. For some, love is what the book’s about in its core — physical attraction and strength and love for one’s self that led to giving in to chances. For some, it is what that minor character has said — patience and good deeds that led to realizations of finally being home. And for a fewer set of others, like me, it is every bit of both. And I believe that is the most painful, most fun, and strongest, purest form of love.

You might not agree with me on that. But that’s okay.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

When Sparks Fly by Ines Bautista-Yao

The reason I fell in love with Miss Ines’ first book, Only A Kiss, was because it was about best friends and a kiss. I must have read that book a dozen times, feeling better and better each time I did, and thought that she couldn’t exactly top that. At least not that easily.

I wasn’t questioning her skills to write; I was particularly pointing to the fact that I often stuck with books I deeply related to or with stories I wished happened in my lifetime. Who doesn’t, right? But then, I read When Sparks Fly, and that thought about Miss Ines not being able to catch my heart again that easily, vanished into oblivion. I now have my second favorite Ines book!

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How that happened, well, When Sparks Fly is about best friends, and boyfriends, and trusting the foundations of each relationship we get ourselves into. It’s about being able to tell who you are in every friendship and every relationship, and using that to keep yourself and your mate happy. It’s about the sacrifices we make and the strength to take in the pain that comes with them. It’s about forgiveness. It’s about how your love for your best friend may just save the love you have for your man. It’s about photography and coffee and sports. It’s about you, basically. Because I found something in Regina that’s me. And so you might, too.

Another Ines Masterpiece! I literally almost forgot to breathe at the sudden story twist!

PS. I can’t believe I went through the whole book, though, thinking that one of the characters wasn’t straight! Hahaha, silly me! Now, I can’t get the thought of another book out of my head!

Keep dreaming with me on that!