Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

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Here goes another obligatory wishlist. Where material things rule and never granted (thanks goodness). This is only a for-your-information only post, and not some kind of tool to extort my friends and relatives. I always end up buying or making them, like last year lol. However people are free to grant these material wishes. Why not diba? It will be much appreciated.

These list are the things I want and need right now as I am starting a new life as an art student and is also embracing my life-long fascination of history. (Which is only awakened due to historical revisionism by the Marcos camp, he’s no Hero btw).

  1. War in Cebu  by Resil Mojares et’ al. – let us start the list by listing the biggest and most expensive book about History. Folks this is the big coffee table book to dig up what happened in Cebu during the World War II against the Japanese occupation. It’s also written by my idol historian and essayist Resil Mojares so that also got me really excited. Another wishful reason why I must have this book is that boy I might need to write a book similar to this on the War on Leyte Gulf durign the same period.. from a local’s perspective. #libremangarap
    Where to find: War in Cebu is published and sold by the University of San Carlos Press and are sold for P2,700.00

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                               (c) PhilStar

  2. Kamingaw by Raymund Fernandez – This one is something personal because my current art professor in UP sir Raymund wrote this. I saw how hard he truly worked for this book this past year, and we’re jealous of this book for stealing his time from us. haha.  The book is about the Cebuano painter Martino Abellana sir Mon’s friend and mentor. This book also serves as our guidebook about the Visayan art scene, and hopefully a great campaign material to make Mr. Abellana a National Artist. Launch of the book will be sometime on January 2017
    Where to find: KAMINGAW is published by the University of San Carlos Press. Price is still for confirmation but should be about P2,700.00-P3,000.00.

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    (c) University of San Carlos Press

  3. The Art of Moana – I’m a frequent window shopper at FullyBook. I could not really afford most of their leather-bound books (though I buy some new paperback novel there) and these includes the incredible “Art of” companion books of Disney, Pixar and most animated movies.  So far the best Art Of book belongs to Disney’s new movie “Moana”. It’s a comprehensive book from idea conception to the post-production. And the designs are stunning.
    Where to find: The Art of Moana is available at FullyBooked stores. Price is about P1,800-P2,000.

    (c) Disney

    (c) Disney

  4. Oil brushes – this should be easy to explain: because I’m an art student. We are not yet into oil or any painting at all but it’s really helpful to explore the medium already. And brushes are distinguished and separate from every medium. I only have watercolor and acrylics brushes.
    Where to find: I’ll be needing artist grade brushes set and they are available in Fullybooked and at the OilPaintstore.com.

    (c) the Oil Paint Store

    (c) the Oil Paint Store

  5.  Oil paint tubes – I only have the basic Reeves intro set, and its not really a good quality (my opinion). If I have money I’ll go buy some Grumbacher or  Winsor and Newton artist grade tubes.
    Where to find: Artist grade tubes are available at the OilPaintstore.com. Paint tubes vary in price individually usually P300-P900. Mahal I know.

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  6.  Acrylic paint tubes – Unlike oil, I’m much more at ease and used to acrylic painting. I only have limited colors of cheap Reeves and Sakura tubes. But if given the chance please buy me some Golden and or Liquitex tubes.
    Where to find: Artist grade acrylic tubes are available at the OilPaintstore.com. Tubes vary in price individually usually P300-P800.

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  7.  MMFF Tickets! – Prior to this year, I used to hate cinemas during Christmas because they only show those stupidly unoriginal and badoy films from the likes of Vice Ganda, Vic Sotto and Kris Aquino. This year however, I’m in full support in putting only the quality films and rightfully snobbed those big stars’ lazy entries. The result is an incredible and promising lineup that’s too good to pass up. Just give me money please!

    (c) MMFF

    (c) MMFF

  8. An Escoda Reserva Round Brush, size 2/0 – relax I wont request for the big guns, I only wanted a small one size 2/0 for details. Price is only P275 available at  ArtWhale Ph or DEs Artroom.

    (c) ArtWhale.Ph

    (c) ArtWhale.Ph

  9.  External memory drive – I wont request for a new smart phone or a laptop even though I badly need it because mine are already so obsolete and ancient. But let’s be realistic, a terabyte of extra mobile memory is good gift.

  10. Free Tuition fee – but my oh my! This one’s was actually granted before I could even put my ideas into writing. The Senate already approved a bill for Free Tuition Fee to all State Universities and Colleges (SUC) which also includes UP! Yes, best Christmas gift ever!

Of course, except for No.10, everything is wishful thinking. What we truly need this Christmas is some peace, some time with family and some winter chill and kilig. Char.

Have a very merry Christmas everyone and Happy New Year!

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Photo from marcellapurnama.com

Getting a time to read for a book nowadays is getting harder to come by. Reality does bites. I love reading stories and I completely believe I only got the writing gift because of it. Mostly I read novels to be entertained, newspapers to be informed and online articles to waste some time. But to get heart-broken… I can try.

Enter: The Fault In Our Stars. The first book I attempted to read this year. I had to read it because the copy is hardbound-shiny from the Galdo sisters. I only got curious w/ the positive response the movie adaptation got commercially and critically. It might just be good, right? Sue me, but I don’t really got hype up with what the girls read nowadays especially when it’s narrated by a female character.. oh hello Twilight, 50 Shades and even Hunger Games (I remember nightmares).  I just cant connect and relate with the narrative. Sue me.

But #TFIOS (oh this annoying hashtags!) is a welcome breather. I actually liked the book. The story is surprisingly deep and thoughtful (and thank God less silliness). The story is about a teenage girl named Hazel Grace who has a lung cancer who opts to dislocate herself from the society while waiting for the Day. She’s a grade, the lesser she associated with people the lesser she’ll hurt when she, well goes off … off the grid of this Earth. Until Augustus Waters comes to the picture and challenge her beliefs and perhaps completely change the way her story is written.

Okay, it’s a love story most teenagers will definitely dig in. It’s beautiful and honest. But at the same time heartbreaking. But what really makes me like about the story is the way the characters interacts with each others. At least they don’t talk like Bella Swan or that stupid 50 Shades college girl. They talk above all else their philosophy and how they view life and love. It was a real treat. And for the record, I did not cry reading this book. Nice try, but it’s not a tear-jerker enough for me haha

Of course all the credit goes to the author, John Green, for making the story readable for non-believers. He made the narrative entertaining and fun through humorous and thought-provoking first-person narrative in Hazel Grace’s point of view.  That is an amazing accomplishment. Thank you man, for giving us one beautiful story to devour in one day. And maybe perhaps two hours of good drama on my laptop Someday (when the copy is downloadable already). Sue me I missed the screening last month. 😛

Cancer sucks, I know. But that doesn’t mean the people who have them does. They are friends, family and even lovers. This book made us understand even better on how great their battle is. Respect. Respect to those who are fighting. Respect to the long list of cancer heroes… and beloved ones who have gone before us. Respect.

For Ney, RC-san and Tiya Ofella.

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Saturday Night. It was raining hard, the streets are dark and we are so lost in the middle of Tacloban City. Leo, a fellow CPA who volunteered for LNU last year after the storm, and I just had our early dinner at Andoks Downtown Tacloban. Our pedicab driver also got us lost when we said to him we want to go to Jolibee near Bethany Hospital. He dropped us at Andoks Downtown, a few hundred meters from Jollibee Downtown (which is still not operational) and a few kilometers at the opposite direction from Jollibee near Bethany. We were not mad, we were hungry. So  we ate at Andoks. Leo is a good friend of mine. He is three years my junior at the business school we came from. I think he worships and idolize me, which I’m not comfortable with all those adjectives and glorifying stories about me and whatever. Leo used to work in my work place, until LNU pirated him off. Now he’s earning bigger money than I do.

That’s the same place I brought Armie and Lloyd and later Michael Jackson, for a TOES group meeting that Unity Run 2 weekend  a month ago. We had a great time that rainy weekend. It was a great meeting for our last ditch effort to finalize whatever the free running event needed. Armie was unbelievable listening and blending into the group, doing her contribution for the meeting and doing her journalistic stuffs right after. The TOES loved her instantly. And I’m still having trouble working out the finances for the group, until now. Andoks is a special place.

Right after we ate, we wanted to just walk back to his dorm which I’m staying at since I have a flight the next day and set up a meeting with beneficiaries of a TOES co-hosted project. But it rained and suddenly we wandered into a dark intersection of downtown Tacloban. Then we saw a coffee shop. We were slightly wet so we decided to check it out.

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Leo and his cold mocha.

The place is called Libro: Books and Coffee. I think the name suggest what we were up to. Hot coffee, wifi  and… books? It seemed odd visiting a cafe with books nowadays. Usually it’s just coffee, pastries and wifi. But hey I love books and I’m lovin’ every inch of it. The place turned out to quite good! Love the interior designs and  the relaxing yet sincere mood of the place. It was simple and unpretentious cafe. Books were everywhere in the cabinets, at the table and most of them are for sale at bargain price! Bargain as in really cheap price. Now the coffees, one thing I know is that it sells them at a much lower price than Cafe Lucia (I’m totally missin’ that place) and Jose Karlo. I cant be sure of the quality since I only ordered a hot mocha drink, and it was great! And I have to remind myself that this place was not spared by Yolanda. This shop too was destroyed by the storm but thanks God they’re back!

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the damage below show where the water came in

At first I only wanted to hang out with Leo while waiting for the rain to stop. I just want to catch up with him and how he’s been doing there in Tacloban in the past three months (I practically dragged this boy to live in this city).  Life is good as long as there is a job that pays well. Work is tough and hectic with all the insurance claims LNU has to process. Lucky university. But then Leo started to get interested in a particular management book than our conversation, so I forced myself to look into the book titles. Then I realized man, these are good books. Most of them are handed over and probably owned by the owner. Whoever it is he know what his reading, with class. I thought they were there for display until I saw some price tags at the back.

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So I ended up buying two books; one for myself an award-winning book titled Hatchet (which I’m not likely to read given my busy schedule) and one for Armie whom I never really given my gratitude for selflessly supporting the Unity Run 2 (that headlamp she ambushed from me during AWUM doesn’t count btw). The young lady has to travel from Cebu and took a four-day leave because I asked her to come and help us out in our cause. That means a great deal to me. Beside she’s practically the only friend I know who currently has time to read (read: Instagram posts).  The book is a Bridget Jone’s Diary sequel (I love the movies!!!), so I can only hope she will love it and read it someday. But it’s really more than just a title why I bought it. I want to give her something more tangible something that actually survived Yolanda, something that came from Tacloban as a souvenir. It was that book. Thank you for coming hotshot.

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Libro: Books & Coffee
Bookstore and Coffee Shop
Sto. Niño St (at P. Gomez St), 6500 Tacloban City, Leyte

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Here we go, posting a movie review about a film I’ve watched a couple of weeks ago. I can’t believe I’m actually writing this one but don’t worry I know exactly what I’m going to say. That film is still rolling on my head like some sort of an acute aftertaste, so this has to go. The movie’s title is “Life of Pi” directed by Ang Lee and is currently nominated in nine (9) categories in the  Academy Awards. And I have to say this up front:  it’s not really good, it’s just one of the very best films ever made!

I’ve known the story of Life of Pi a few years before the movie since it is based on a novel which I truly loved. The reading experience was very unforgettable and it’s just hard to explain what that very special book feels like. Charming, wonderful, magical, mesmerizing; these are all adjectives which are on the right track but fell way short in describing the story. Then when I heard that they’re going to adapt it into a movie, I thought it would be an impossible task. Hence, the project went into a decade long production hell as two, three, four great directors passed on the project. Until it came into the hands of Ang Lee (who by the way fought like hell to get his vision into production… at the right budget$).

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And after seeing the final product, all I can do is be amazed at what Ang Li has done. He successfully adapted one of the most unfilmable story and turn it into one of the most stunning film mankind is ever going to see. In short, WOW! Here’s the trailer:

Here’s the official synopsis of the book:

Pi Patel, a God-loving boy and the son of a zookeeper, has a fervent love of stories and practices not only his native Hinduism, but also Chrisitianity and Islam. When Pi is sixteen, his family and their zoo animal emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship. Alas, the ship sinks – and Pi finds himself in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and a 450-pound Bengal Tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi. Can Pi and the tiger find their way to land? Can Pi’s fear, knowledge, and cunning keep him alive until they do?

Ever wonder why I used the book summary instead of the film’s? They’re the same. I don’t know how the screen writer pulled it off but the movie was so honest-to-goodness faithful to the book. The events, even some details, were exactly as what I could remember. Most book-to-movie adaptation would just settle in stripping off the plot thin and what’s left goes to the screen. But this one is different. They actually ‘expand’ the story. If you want to read a book soon, read the original novel. It’s really amazing what they did on the screen play they kept the story grounded yet entertaining, filled with sharp dialogues and humorous narrative.

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One of my favorite scene in the movie, a grand salute to the book (and it’s cover).

But perhaps the strongest aspect of the movie is the breath-taking pictures Ang Lee and cinematographer  Claudio Miranda brought in. Oh as a big fan of the book I was wildly mystified at what my eyes were seeing on 3D; something I was forced to imagine long ago and now here I am watching it as a truly cinematic masterpiece. Such gorgeous special effects, great color choice, and those strikingly beautiful seascapes. Can they make a sequel to this one for visual effects’ sake? Obviously there won’t be, that’s the tragedy we all have to live with.

And, ladies and gentleman, please give a thundering round of applause to the man who fought for his vision to bring us this movie: Ang Lee! I never liked his Brokeback Mountain because it was disturbing and boring, I didn’t understand the ending of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and I think his HULK was soft, but let bygones be bygones. I am now a believer of Ang Lee. He is truly a world-class filmmaker who understand the aesthetics of the subject, respects it, and honors it. No doubt Life of Pi is everything to know about how great this man is. Someone special, someone to be admired and someone to be proud of as an Asian.

I guess there’s not much that went wrong in the movie, and this is not the place to find. I just want to marvel the movie’s achievements. The casting was great especially the first time actor Suraj Sharma who played the lost-in-the-sea Pi. Charming, smart and talented boy. How in the world did Ang Lee found this boy? The screenplay and cinematography, are sure lock for the Oscars. The production design is grand. And let’s not forget the visual effects used in the movie, which by the way blow me and my brothers away. Even the tiger, Richard Parker, is so real he should have been nominated Best Supporting actor at the Oscars!

Life of Pi is certainly a good case of the right people coming together in the right project and orchestrated by the right director. The result is simply stunning as if the magic found int the book came to life and took form in the big screen. A story worth dying for, a movie worth fighting for and all because Life of Pi is triumphant hymn to life.

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The past couple weeks me and my family have been battling against a barrage of flue, colds and coughs special no-thanks to the sickening rain that’s quite taking a hold of my town for over a month. Did not run. Did not draw. Did not travel. But I read, and loved the experience deeply.  The book is The Girl Who Played With Fire by the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson.

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methinks I also played with fire romantically while reading this one. haha

‘Played with Fire’ is the direct sequel of the smash hit The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo which features the gifted hacker with photographic memory Lisbeth Salander and her loyal friend and crusading journalist Mikael Blomqvist. If you’re a fan of the first book then you are definitely going to enjoy this one. Even for newcomers into the franchise can easily fall prey to the intense and gripping story of the sequel. On my personal standpoint I really think ‘Dragon Tattoo’ is an incredible stand-alone story, sequel aren’t necessary and only categorically inferior spin-off. But ‘Played with Fire’ definitely stands a strong ground as an equal if not the better of the two, or perhaps the best in the Millennium trilogy. It’s pretty damn good.

The story took place two years after the events of ‘Dragon Tattoo’ where our oddball heroine finds herself hunted by the police as a prime suspect in the murder of two journalists who were about to bust open the sex trade. Mikael Blomqvist finds himself in a quest to prove Lisbeth Salander’s innocence, if she really didn’t commit the crimes. It’s another gripping tale set in the realistic backdrop of our decaying society, this in our inability to tolerate the abuses in the growing sex trade. But for those who are sensitive regarding these topics, it’s a relief the author didn’t focus in the crimes, violence, sexuality and other mature subject matters. ‘Played with fire’ is a bit toned downed compare to ‘Dragon Tattoo’ in those departments.But the best thing about this sequel is the undeniable growth of the story-telling prowess of Stieg Larsson, as if this guy put on decades worth of experience into writing the sequel. Thanks God he departed to that not-so-exciting journalistic monologues and turned into a real pro literary wonder. Larsson got the talent to write tantalizing stories even if they’re of mature and sensitive nature, this time with complete control of his style in building exhilarating thrillers.

Take note the three books of the Millennium  Series were written in relatively brief time after another before Larsson turned their manuscripts simultaneously to the publishing company. So that really speaks a lot to the legacy of Mr. Larsson who passed away shortly afterwards. He never saw his works caught fire around the world. He planned to make a series of 10 books.

The Girl Who Played With Fire is an adorable thriller of deep mystery, crime, conspiracy, trust and of fighting back. It got some new kicks and tricks with an incredibly intriguing and thicker plot to prove a firm hold of  being the best in the series and even entire genre. This book is highly recommended. Now I can’t wait to start the third one, but, wait I think I shall first go over with the movie adaptation!

[cover photo from moviedex.com; book cover from goodreads.com]

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Assuming the world will not END on the 21st of the month, I am likely going to spend a Christmas like never before:  a dark one. I don’t know but I feel like spending this Christmas at home, on exile, seems a bit off or strange or not really what I imagined to end this Year of the Dragon. I think I screwed up too much this year that I really deserve to slow down, take a breather,  get back to my roots and come up of a better game plan in the game called life. I still feel lost after all these years of wandering. And I have no plans on finding that promised Path, yet. I have no plans to be merry either.

But for the same reasons I am planning something new this Holidays. I won’t party around, no alcohol, cut some calories and as much as possible no travelling and adventures. I have to cut down on my costs to save for a Vietnam trip next year. So to do that here’s a list of the major activities for an economical-not-so-merry Christmas.

  1. Gift Cutting – I’ve always been a generous giver all the time (ironically not much of a receiver hahaha). So no Kris kringles, no surprises for friends, no extravagant Noche Buena ideas, no solicitations accepted and sorry kids I won’t be giving you some monies for the carollers. God I’ve spent millions of centavos crafting The Great Parol Project and the Parol Project 2.0 (the one above for my company, it’s a pair) so the only kids I’ll be giving some heartfelt gifts are my brothers.
  2. Play video games, a lot – who says playing video games is a freakin’ bad idea? I fell in love with gaming just this year so why not spend some more during the Holidays hehe. I’m really really excited to play Assasin’s Creed 3 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, two of the best games released this year. The gaming experiences for both games are no doubt top-notch based on the reviews and the way I enjoyed their earlier instalments. But what I’m really after in these games are the STORY, its better than watching stupid movies and stupid telenovelas.   
  3. Play with Fire’ – Ahm no… I aint planning to get involve in illicit love affairs! Haha, I just want to read ‘The Girl Who Played With Fire’ by Stieg Larsson. The book is the second instalment of the Millennium Trilogy, and based on what I’ve heard it’s the darkest and meatiest part of the series. I can’t imagine how dark and better it would be since the first one, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, is absolutely beautiful (including the Hollywood adaptation). It’s likely going to be a feel-bad reading, and I’m perfectly ok with that. 
  4. Night Running – Four months ago, I reluctantly accepted a job offer here in my hometown. At the same time, I also stopped running  unceremoniously for no reason at all. Well, I can’t really blame my work since it’s really not that hard and I love my work. Maybe I just got tired or felt lonely running alone, with no other runners in sight every time, all the time. The result of this 4-month hiatus is measured in 20 extra pounds and four extra inches on my waist. Great, never felt so ‘taba’ all my life. Have to run again, and harder to get back into shape by summer. I don’t really run the morning because I’m a late night owl, so I have to run from now on at NIGHT, under the Christmas lights. Night Running

 

So there goes my grand schemes for this Christmas. They’re boring and not really badass, I know, but I guess not pursuing exciting stuffs might help me see the bigger picture. Merry Christmas everyone and may this one be a little special and merrier than mine. I’m serous, really.

Now where are my gifts, people? Hahaha

 

The following sequence of events happened in a span of 24 hours of my life. It’s a long narrative so if you have other things to do you can leave and return later. But at the end of the day my life, as I know it, comes full circle.

The first hour started with a job interview in one of Cebu City’s biggest and most prestigious non-profit organization. There I sat talking to this beautiful young woman probably a year or two older than me; she’s the head of a department where I am applying. I was calm, relaxed and confident just like the many interviews I’ve been through. To make it short, I have that one by the numbers. I am not really a hundred percent committed to the job opportunity since I’m with an organization already and I’m still very much hopeful for that government post. It’s just I really appreciate that organization’s social impact in the lives of many and I want to be a part of it if given the chance. The offer was at par with what every other Cebu based companies can offer, which is really not much to fed a family. But with a boss like her, a company like that, and a city to kill for what more can I ask for?

But I was still unsure whether to grab the opportunity until she dropped the bomb: the company will sponsor for a CIA review course. That’s Certified Internal Auditor, we’re talking about international accreditation and a big freakin’ gateway to global opportunities (and fortune). I was like “Holy Shit!” Now my head hurts trying to decide the many crossroads I am suddenly facing right now: should I go for that organization, or stay with my present company, or pursue the government position. And just recently going for a shot at becoming an artist for a living (which is kind of suicidal the way my country view the Art Industry).

NBS: a pencil stump, a 5B Staedler pencil, and a #12 round bruch for painting.

Alright, becoming an artist is already out of the question. I just can’t pursue that passion for now, I have a career to build. It’s really just a hobby in order to satisfy that congenital itch in my hand to create something out of an idea, emotion or something from the soul. But anyways, right after the exam I went to my favourite internet café and downloaded a half a gigabyte worth of videos on watercolour tutorials, tips and techniques. After that I even dropped by at SM Cebu’s National Bookstore to buy some art materials. This is a serious hobby after all.

In that same mall, I was very fortunate to know that the Drum Tao (The Art of the Drum) crew from Japan is in the building to perform! Drum Tao’s a famous group of Japanese drummers, musicians and martials artist well that’s what the world label them, but in reality these guys are awesome ATHLETES. Why, you have to see them perform to get the full picture. The performance is only a 30-minute free sneak preview of their performance this Saturday.  It was one hell of an experience in a lifetime. They are just so fun to watch, it’s like having a ‘drum porn’so heart pounding, mystical, relentless, fearless performance.  My jaw dropped and my hand hurt from over clapping. They are so bad-ass.

photo courtesy from TraveLife

I have to travel to my hometown that night so I boarded a ship. There I met someone who made me an art mentor even for a very short while. She’s only a young girl but I noticed her immediately when I saw her doing something while facing her laptop. I approached her closer and found out she was drawing the face of the late Kurt! And I noticed she was struggling and techniques aren’t helping. So I introduced myself as a probinsyano self-proclaimed artist, fortunately she talks to freaky strangers like me so I give her a few Drawing 101, especially smudging using a paper stump.  I even let her watch my on the spot demo (poor book) :

It’s a new experience for me teaching something I’m not really good at, but it felt good and satisfying that somehow I gave another soul a reason to keep drawing and appreciate arts. I even gave her the paper stump I just bought from the bookstore earlier.

I reached home by dawn and caught a few hours of sleep before heading to another city this time to give something even more precious than time or money: LIFE. It’s a blood donation day for me and I can now introduce myself like this, “Hi I’m Lester, I’m 24 years old, and I donated blood 24 times.” I don’t really keep a count until it’s the time I’m about to donate. It’s already a seven year old thing for me and I think I’m not yet halfway before I stop donating. I don’t even remember how I started but it’s something I love to keep doing. Yes, donating blood is a thankless thing to do since you don’t really whose going to benefit from your blood. But that’s why I love it –  a pure act of kindness without ever thinking of something in return.

Hi I’m Lester, I’m 24 and this is my 24th.

But that donation is special, I met the beneficiary. A mother was there pleading to a Red Cross receptionist to give her a bag of blood because her son fell from a tree badly that he needed an operation. Unfortunately, she’s not allowed for some reasons unless someone fills in for the blood. That someone turned out to be me. At first I was hesitant to be her on the spot donor because I’m also going to use the blood too for my cousin, but anyways I’m stupid so I obliged.  There goes my 24th donation, I’m glad I was able to help another soul.

And that wraps up an entire day into the life of this human being. I hope you learned a few things about myself and my life, because I sure did in the past 24 hours.