by Martina Magpusao Herras
The Philippine High School for the Arts
Creative Nonfiction 3
Ever since I came to Makiling, I took writing a little too seriously. I thought that creating other characters and writing plots of other universes meant that I should exclude my own universe and my own background.
So upon the start of my first fiction class, I swore that I wouldn’t bring up anything personal
lest risk being melodramatic and writing a horrible piece.
I was able to explore worlds that I didn’t know existed. I was able to create different characters. But after a while, writing started to make me weary. I wasn’t as passionate as I used to be. I told myself, “maybe if I did other things, I would be happier”. I was, at that time, about to give up on writing.
Luckily, one afternoon, a friend of mine came to my dorm room with her copy of Bebang Siy’s It’s a Mens World. She had just finished reading it and suggested that I read it too. I wasn’t a fan of essays at all, but since my friend insisted, I had no choice but to give in.
The first essay I read was Milkshakes and Daddies, which was about how the author’s father had treated her out on hot afternoons after school to a milkshake at a local diner—and as she grew up, she realized how it was an attempt to brainwash her into thinking that her mother was a bad person and that she didn’t deserve to keep her and her sisters, ending with the line—“Dad, for the milkshakes, thanks but no thanks.”
That one line struck me hard. I didn’t realize how much you could put into a literary piece without putting too much. I kept reading and reading, and soon enough I found myself unable to put the book down. It was a simple yet witty piece of literature, and I absolutely loved it.
Reading It’s A Mens World gave me a new insight on life—and I realized that I was taking things too seriously for a girl who was 14 at that time. I realized that if I put even just a little bit of myself in my works, then the weariness would disappear and that I would grow to love writing once again.
Bebang Siy saved my life by saving me from the cold clutches of being too stressed and uptight about my life. Through her essays, she taught me how to live life and still be serious about your work.
I instantly became a fan.
When I attended the National Book Development Board’s Literary festival in 2012, I just had to get her autograph. I’d forgotten to bring my copy of It’s a Mens World to the event, so, armed with a pen and just a small sketchpad, I had to approach her. With a smile, she didn’t only give me her autograph, but also chatted with me for a short while. Later on, I opened the sketchpad to read the last line of the message she’d written for me;
“Para sa panitikan, para sa bayan!”
Two years later, at sixteen years old, I still find myself reading her essays again and again—waiting for her second book, It’s Raining Mens to come out. She still is an inspiration, and I still “fangirl” over every post she makes on her blog, babe-ang.blogspot.com. In fact, prior to writing this essay, I had written an email to her with a post-script saying:
Hi po. Medyo nag-fa-fangirl po ako sa inyo kaya hindi ko po maisulat ang email na ito sa Filipino. Baka makailang “grabe, idol ko po kayo forever” sa email na ito kaya sinulat ko na lang ito sa Ingles para ma-restrain ko ang sarili ko. Pero, honestly, idol ko po talaga kayo. As in <333
Sorry po kung nagambala ko po kayo <3
Iniintay ko pong lumabas ang It's Raining Mens <3
There’s nothing to be ashamed of, really. She really is an idol and an inspiration.