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BATANG MINDANAW: To my 22-year-old writer self 

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Dear Jhon, 

Kumusta? Hmm, I know, I know. I hope that this message finds you well. I want you to constantly keep in mind that you are great just the way you are and that your “aspiring writer” self must be proud of who you’ve become.

Aren’t you the happiest? Your poem “Sa Dihang” was featured in a Davao-based literary journal. You should be amazed at yourself; you wrote a thought-provoking piece.

Aren’t you the happiest? Your essay “Carpe diem” got published in a national newspaper—finally, your first one, after three, four, or five attempts? Oh, never mind. But do you still remember what “carpe diem” is? I guess you do; it translates as “seize the day,” am I correct? Of course I am.

Aren’t you the happiest? After seven months, another essay of yours was recognized in that same national newspaper—”It takes dedication to make it to Top 5″ was the title, right? Well, Pauline Amelinckx must be proud of you for that and for your “dedication” to submitting a very short letter to the editor.

Aren’t you the happiest? You could read your first and second essays, “In Memory of Rizal” and “Where am I?” in a traditional-looking newspaper from a local media outlet located in Davao City. I believe you already credited the editor for giving you soft copies of those. Did you? I know. 

Aren’t you the happiest? You found a resounding space—not just it, but a home—in a Mindanao-based media outlet that is composed of independent, professional journalists who believe in and practice people’s empowerment through media.

Aren’t you proud of that? They published your works not just once, twice, but numerous times—can you still remember what those are? I guess you better check… And what have you found? There are many to mention—just like how you feel every time you see your name on their platform—the excitement, the joy, the satisfaction, and most importantly, the validation that you can actually contribute to society through writing, through your stories.

Dearest Jhon, I believe you. More than the recognition, I know that writing has given you the opportunity to not only share who you are, to not only save memories that you know you will eventually forget, but also to temporarily ignore your worries in life. I believe you.

And to my 23-year-old writer self, please continue the legacy. Keep an open mind. Be brave enough to take on challenges. Seize the day. Padayon. Keep writing! Cheers to more submissions and, hey, rejections too! You fail; you succeed. That’s life.

(Batang Mindanaw is the youth section of MindaNews. Contributions from young Mindanawons are welcome in this section. Jhon Steven C. Espenido of Surigao City, turned 23 last September 15. He is an AB English Language student at the Surigao del Norte State University)

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