Angie Thomas’ novel revolves around this redefined meaning of THUG LIFE by Tupac Shakur, popularly known as 2Pac.
It follows 16-year-old Starr Carter whose uneasy balance between her poor neighborhood and her fancy suburban school is shattered when she witnesses the shooting of her best friend at the hands of a police officer. His name is Khalil, but the world calls him a thug. Everyone wants to know what went down that night. But Starr’s decision to stay silent or to speak comes with a risk for her people and her life.
Some people snicker at the thought of reading books under the young adult genre. They have this stereotyped belief that YA novels are shallow, sappy and superficial. They rarely see it as an avenue for discussing socio-political issues. But Angie Thomas proves these people wrong.
Without mincing her words, she delves into the most delicate and controversial subjects in America and the world today: racism, oppression, privilege and broken justice system. The book is thought-provoking without being preachy. It gave me different perspectives to look into. It made me introspect on what I have done and what I would do when faced with these issues. Other than posting about the hashtags and signing every petition there is, do I have it in me to act against racism, oppression or injustice?
In the end, this novel goes to warn the society that what it gives (hate/violence/injustice) to little infants (the poor/minority/less fortunate) will always come to haunt them. The THUG LIFE cycle continues…
Having spent seven years in the concrete jungles of Cebu gave me a pair of eyes that looks at province life with extra appreciation and love. Like most people around my age, I started craving for the simplicity and warmth that rural places have to offer. Going home for me has become more than just reuniting with my family. It has now become a form of healing.
At the height of ticking off #bucketlists and #travelgoals, more and more places are “discovered” each day, topping the trends on Facebook and Instagram. While this is essentially harmless, I personally don’t like the idea of calling every place a tourist spot. I believe that, in a way, we rob it of its personality.
To set an example, let me take you to my hometown.
Bung-aw is a mountain barangay in the municipality of Hilongos in the province of Leyte. We do not have something elaborate to boast apart from our simple way of life. However, a few years ago, people from far off places started coming. The reason? Didang river.
Didang river gained popularity because of its yellow stone boulders. It was named after the woman who lives nearest to the river. The cameras and naked eyes did not lie. Didang truly was and still is Instagrammable. Its beauty is nature’s very own masterpiece.
What bothers me is hearing people say that it has now gone unpreserved. That the locals gave less value to those Insta-famous yellow stones and that they should have made the place tourist-friendly to boost its status. “If only this… “If only that…”
True, Didang looks different than it was on the onset of its fame. It looks even more different when it didn’t have a name. But locals know that after being worn and rounded by the action of moving water, the river always change.
There was no need to protect Didang. At least not until outsiders started disrespecting the place and leaving garbage behind. They carved on stones and littered the riverbed with plastics. So who’s at fault again?
Despite this, my people started adjusting to the long complains. They no longer wash laundry near the river to avoid photobombing shots. They built makeshift huts to offer guests shade. They even placed multi-colored flag banners along the trail to welcome onlookers. The rest is history.
If only these “tourists” follow the river that snake through the foothills of our mountains. They will certainly find other scenic nameless spots.
But today’s generation is naive. They travel more for photo sessions than learning about the place – not knowing there’s more to Bung-aw than Didang.
They didn’t know the story of our hanging bridge. How it made the local’s lives easier as they cross it carrying their farm produce, charcoal and root crops for sale.
They didn’t know the story of our kanal. How it sustained the rice paddies and at the same time carried our fondest childhood memories as we bathed and washed laundry here.
They didn’t know the story of our mountains. How, despite the digital era, people still have to climb higher up the hill to get a better cellular connection to check on their loved ones.
No, these are not tourist spots. These are part of our lifeline. They were not created to please other people but to cater the basic needs of its residents. We do not have fancy names for such places even. So if you only think of doing it for the ‘gram or racking up Facebook likes or being the first word-of-mouth, go away.
There are no such thing as tourist spots in Bung-aw.
I sit beside helium, neon, argon, krypton, xenon and radon
the laziest and most boring elements,
Thinking periodically how you came—
Perhaps because ours is a chemical romance
like helium that always comes in two
like neon giving colors to my gray days
like argon remaining colorless and true
like krypton giving each other strength
like xenon starting from being strangers
like radon becoming each other’s weakness
This, I think, is why I like noble gases
they were once set aside at first
until they finally found their place
In response to dVerse’s Poetics: Let’s get elemental! hosted by Sarah who challenges us to write some poems inspired by the periodic table elements.
From a number of plot twists to finally reaching Mt. Kalatungan, our three-day climb culminated with a traverse hike to Mt. Wiji.
Mt. Wiji stands at the height of 2819.78 meters above sea level and is located at the southern part of Kalatungan Mountain Range. The mountain is named after the first Japanese who made it into the peak, but locals refer to it as Mt. Lumpanag or Makaupao.
The early morning wind greeted us with a chill and by the time we sipped our coffees, we were wearing layers of clothes and jackets to counter the very cold temperature. We were supposed to start the ascend at 8 am based on our initial itinerary, but Kuya Babu and the guides suggested that we start early for us to witness the sunrise and [probably] the sea of clouds. So there, in the darkness of the dawn, we started our trek.
It was 5 am when streaks of light started painting the sky with shades of pinks and purples. Although Mt. Wiji is less than a kilometer away from Bamboo Camp, the trail going to the peak is very steep. But despite our huffs, pants and coughs, the gorgeous view made it a whole lot easier.
Have you ever got that feeling when you know exactly you’re about to do something big? It’s like all the small moments pile up into something bigger and you find yourself saying, “No going back now. This is it.”
That was how we felt on the dawn of November 22. After all the plot twists and yesterday’s rain, we’ve probably seen the worst possible scenarios. Things seemed less daunting now and we’re ready to do what we’re meant be doing. That is to climb Mt. Kalatungan.
My first foray into the written world of Michael Crichton was Congo. James, who loves the man as much as Dan Brown, never missed to mention his works whenever we talk about books. So I guess this is where curiosity killed the cat but satisfaction brought it back comes in.
The 1980 sci-fi novel centers on an expedition searching for rare blue diamonds and investigating the mysterious deaths of a previous expedition in the dense tropical rainforest of the Congo. At first I was worried that I’d be stuck in the complicated science and technical jargon but as it turns out, Crichton is a great de-jargonizer. I found myself immediately engaged in the story that capsulized science, history, and geography in each and every page.
Which brings me to this week’s WQW, Iron and Ironies. Congo left me emotionally, mentally and morally disturbed. In a simple story it raised provocative questions that I found hard to answer.
To what extent is animal cruelty? Is it limited to performing experiments/animal research? How about throwing lobsters on a boiling pot? Sticking pigs on bamboo poles? Exterminating rats? Do ALL animals have rights or just a selected few? Does man get to give them the reason to stay alive as a species?
These questions led me to reflect on our deeply ingrained habit of meat eating, on the equality among animals, and man’s idea of speciesism. I know there are multiple sides to these multifaceted issues and I would love to hear a thing or two from you. 🙂
We all handle plot twists a little differently. There are those who sit meticulously to plan their next steps. Others don’t give a second thought and just hope for things to work out. There are those who stop dead in their tracks and try to muster the courage to make things happen again. Others can’t handle the change and run away. We can be planners or takers. Drifters or runners. We all put ourselves out there. Sometimes it’s full of regret, but most often it’s full of surprises. Just like this recent hike.
To end the year 2019, my friends and I decided to climb the Philippines’ highest, Mt. Apo (via Sta. Cruz – Kidapawan Trail). We had our activity booked, our itinerary mapped out. Everything was in order for the coming November 21 to 23 — or so we thought.
After months of rehabilitation from the recent El Nino, Mt. Apo reopened its trails for climbers. However, we received a news that travel agencies, guides and tourism office reached an agreement that there will be no more exit to Kidapawan Trail starting October. LGU Kidapawan has declined all exits from Davao. This was our first plot twist. We were given two options instead: 1) opt for the Kidapawan entry and exit [backtrail] or 2) opt for the Sta. Cruz – Bansalan Trail. Despite our anticipation of the majestic Lake Venado in Kidapawan, we chose the latter for a better experience.
And just when we thought there’ll be no more hurdles, a series of shocks followed. By mid-October, an earthquake swarm struck the province of Cotabato. This raised our initial unease because it might trigger the active volcano that we were planning to climb. Unease turned to fear when successive tremors jolted Davao where Mt. Apo is. That was the last straw. By November, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) – Davao Region and Davao LGU announced the closure of Mt. Apo until further notice.
It’s easier to laugh it off. To pit women who put on a full make up against those who don’t. This culture of incriminating women of their choices — the way they look or the way they dress — must end. Women can put on make up or choose to bare their freckles and dark spots. They can wear LBDs and stiletto or just plain shirt and baggy pants. Truth is, we can always do both if we choose to. So stop this duality, this sick comparison of nonsense. Because we are our own expectation and reality.