A New Step Forward

There are two things I’ve loved all my life: words and pictures.

I remember being young and always asking my mom to go to the bookstore whenever we went out together, and for as long as my interest held, I walked the aisles of National Bookstore and Booksale with excitement and reverence, looking at the bright pictures and colorful text on each book that grabbed my attention. I was a curious child, I would say, and being an only son I busied myself with books when I could, marveling at storybook illustrations when the words printed no longer made sense.

My dad liked to draw, and he was good at it. My mom, on the other hand, encouraged my academic pursuits. It is no wonder to me now that I became a writer and an artist, growing up in an environment that only spurred me to pursue my passions.

I wrote small poems and long essays; improved my spelling and vocabulary by entering contests. I drew on countless media from scratch paper to drawing boards; from mundane shapes to actual figures and anime characters, I practiced countless hours trying to get my drawings “right”. I drew as a hobby and as a competitor. I stood before watchful eyes in scrutiny and admiration, and I learned to love the attention that came with it.

Growing up, I’ve been in countless drawing contests and writing competitions, even reaching the regional level once in elementary. I joined my school papers – The Advent Jr. in elementary and The Beacon in high school – and participated side by side in contests with artists that were far better than me.

In high school, I traded crayons and pencils for markers and oil pastels; wrote longer and more ambitious stories and poems for the school paper; and traded storybooks and picture books for thick paperbacks, children’s literary and young adult novels slowly filling my shelves.

I learned to draw better, write better, and read harder.

It taught me patience and hard work, and I had fun.

Entering college was, in the simplest words, a whole new experience. I enrolled in the Architecture program simply because I loved to draw, and my dad – a frustrated engineer – encouraged me to take the course. I didn’t think much on it; it was a course that encouraged creativity and drawing – I had thought it was practically a course for me.

In a way, it was. It’s just that it wasn’t as easy as it seemed before.

Architecture both expanded and limited my creative liberties: there were considerations to take note, laws and regulations to remember, and many other factors that determined what good and bad design were. For the longest time, I stopped drawing out of fun and completely forgot about writing, focusing the first two years of my college life on readjusting to my new lifestyle. It was all about planning and designing buildings, and spending countless hours on manual drafting.

The only thing I didn’t stop doing was reading books. I read paperbacks and e-books whenever I could spare time, my off time spent with Percy Jackson and John Green’s stories, and occasionally, the literary folio that our university’s publications team published.

It was on my third year that I got a break.

Having fallen into the groove of my college program, I managed to ease up on myself despite the curriculum. The curriculum for third years back then was a rigorous course: CAD and professional practice were introduced alongside the existent building technology and utilities courses, and we were at school as early as 7 am and went home as late as 7 pm. Despite that though, I managed to find my way back to my passions.

In my third year I became friends with a new classmate, who was then a member of the university publications office. Having learned of my history as a writer in elementary and high school, she invited me to join the publications team. I was hesitant then; my grades were less than stellar than I wanted them, and I knew joining an active school organization wasn’t going to make it easier on balancing my time. I let myself get roped into submitting an application form though, not really giving it much thought. After all, my main objective was to get published on the literary folio, an edition I absolutely loved as it was filled with moving and entertaining stories.

Eventually, I passed the publication’s annual qualifying exam, and I became a staffer for The LATHE Group of Publications, under the tutelage of my seniors in the office: the intimidating powerhouses of the publications team that brought The LATHE to Nationals, their writing powerful and engaging, their standards not settling for anything less than excellent.

My third year was spent filled with early mornings at school and late class dismissals, sleepless nights planning and drafting, covering school events for the school paper, going places I’ve never been to cover articles, interviewing professionals and workers, and meeting new people both in my college program and in the publications team. I started writing again, all of them new to me once more: news, features, and development communications. I wrote new stories and poems, and slowly started drawing again not just for the sake of designing houses, but for my own satisfaction of improving my drawing style.

Slowly, as I progressed from my third year to my fourth year, then to fifth year, I got the hang of college life as it came. I did group projects with my group members, stayed overnight at the publication office to edit works, I bought blank notebooks to draw and practice on them, and continued to read books whenever I could.

I read. I wrote. I drew.

And I lived just like that.

On my final year, I had significantly improved my drawing style. I could draw sceneries and detailed building perspectives, I could draw people and objects better. I learned to use watercolor and learned a little calligraphy. I learned to continuously practice drawing, and though I am far from being the best artist in our college department, I am happy with my artistic style, one I have developed because I both grew to love art and architecture.

On my final year, I had published numerous articles for the publications team – features and devcom articles, poems, stories, essays, flash fictions published on the school paper, journal, and literary folio. Some of my artworks have even been published on the publication team’s art compilation. I won a few writing contests outside of school, regional competitions, and went to places I never would have if I had not pursued writing. I became part of the executive editorial board, and it though it was only three years of staying in the publication’s team, it was all so worth it.

Now that I am graduating and facing employment, I no longer have a publications team to write for. Architecture work will be more strict and rigorous, no longer a university instructor present to grade plates. And I know my artistic pursuits and desire to spend hours reading new novels would have to take a backside next to my job, but it would still be there, just not as actively pursued.

But I guess I’ll always be the kid who loved being at a bookstore; even now, a solid 21-year-old, I still find myself wandering the children’s books aisle, looking at coloring books and activity books before winding my way to the young adult section. All my life, I’ve always found my way back to the pictures and words that took me to worlds far from the one I’ve always lived in, and I suppose I would not stop now.

There are two things I’ve loved all my life: words and pictures.

And I guess I’ll love them for as long as I’ll live, and I think, it is not a love I would ever regret.

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