12 Things I Learned From Pam Pastor, Inquirer Super’s Editor

One of the most established names in local lifestyle journalism is Pam Pastor, the editor of The Philippine Daily Inquirer‘s pop culture section Super. Our paths crossed for the first time last month during the presscon of Bianca del Rio’s Manila show and she was seated behind me. I had two choices: introduce myself and tell her I’m a fan of her work, or miss the opportunity to meet one of the people I look up to. I knew it was going to be worth it so I said hello and fangirled.

As fate would have it, I would meet her again after a few weeks for her writing masterclass with the So Worth It Squad, a group of hustlers whose stories of grit and determination remind us that the chase is So Worth It. Here are just some of the things I learned during her lecture:

Read More

Going back to my roots.

I’ve always been a writer. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been keeping journals on and off. I’d write in a notebook for several months then get bored with the routine, only to find myself writing another entry after a month or so. I’d have those little notebooks with cartoon designs and a lock feature, then I graduated to regular notebooks with different bindings, then to my current addiction: nondescript notebooks with classy pages, leather covers, and ribbon bookmarks.

I first discovered blogging in 2005 when I graduated from high school. I had a lot of fun writing online, sharing my thoughts, ideas and complaints for cyberspace to see. I tried them all: Xanga, WordPress, Livejournal, Multiply. Through the years, I became faithful to Blogger and have kept small accounts from Tumblr and Twitter for light posts. I started using Excuse My French as my title in 2006, and my description hasn’t changed since then.

I have gained a small following from blogging. I felt happy knowing that I entertained a select group of people who found my strange, often annoying posts on life and love interesting. In a way, they have inspired me to write. It’s great motivation to find out that there are people who appreciate what I have to say. I think one of my proudest blogging moments is being a finalist for Best Personal Blog at the 2009 Philippine Blog Awards.

I regularly posted but somewhere along the line, I stopped. I think it was when I became editor-in-chief of the campus paper and I became saturated with writing. It became a job for me and I sought respite, a break. My posts were limited to Tumblr and Twitter where posts were either just pictures or text that consisted of 140 characters or less.

But now I graduated. My days as editrix are behind me and I embraced my job as an account executive for a printing press / photography studio. Where in the past I spent my days writing and editing, I now spend weekdays (and Saturdays) talking about why schools should pick us to print their yearbooks and take their graduation pictures.

I miss writing. I miss playing with words and constructing sentences in colorful ways to get a thought across. To some extent, I love my job but deep inside, I’m a writer. I express myself better through writing. I can be a talker but I’m more comfortable this way. I consider myself better in making speeches rather than delivering them. I understand the nuances of subtly-placed verbs and adjectives, not the symbolism of facial expressions and gesticulations. I feel like I can persuade and influence more people through my written works instead of oral presentations. After all, I’m still that shy little boy who’d quietly sit in a corner with his books.

I’m thinking of going back to my roots. No, I’m not going to quit my marketing job to “find” myself. I’m an idealist but I’m not stupid. I have expensive tastes and I don’t think I can afford weekly shopping trips and experimental dining with blogging. Just like what I did in my editorial years, I’m going to use writing as a balance from my days talking my head off.

So, I’m back. You can take this boy out of writing, but you can’t take writing out of this boy.

God, I miss closing entries with cheesy one-liners.

Reality Check

There’s a reason why I only blog once a week. People probably think it’s because I have a busy schedule or I rarely go online, but they are completely untrue. I don’t have a social life, and I spend more time online than in school.

I blog weekly because for me, blogging is an art form. Because I am that righteous journalist/editor, I have to make every entry perfect in every way. I have to make sure my material is great, my grammar is perfect, and my conviction believable. I spend hours editing my work, making sure that the words I chose conveyed my thought in the most expressive way without any lapse in structure or form. I am such a freak for details that sometimes I think it’s clinical. I’ve been known to align my books according to size and group my shirts according to color, taking into consideration textures, details, and shades.

I find it difficult how I can’t write freely. I write as I please, but I have to take into account the rules I learned in creative writing and journalism. I’m bound by all these rules that a two-page entry can sometimes be cut down to a single paragraph, with all the original words changed. Blogging was like writing a feature article coming out in the next issue.

However, I think my obsession for details worked because I’m one of the finalists of the 2009 Philippine Blog Awards for Best Personal Blog. I consider it an honor and privilege to be part of this competition and to be placed alongside blogs I admire. When I scoped out my competition, I was shocked that I was even considered. These blogs were really good. I don’t expect to win, but being nominated is validation enough.

I have been compared many times to the great Carrie Bradshaw, the fictional columnist from Sex and The City. I don’t know if it’s my obsession for fashion, my colorful love life, or my actual writing skills (or lack thereof) that remind people of Mrs. Big, but it’s extremely flattering. Flattering as it is, being compared to the great Ms. Bradshaw is hard to live up to because every week I’m expected to come up with a literary masterpiece, which is one of the reasons why I go to great lengths to achieve perfection on a weekly basis.

One night, while I was checking out the competition for the PBA, I stumbled upon RZ Fortajada’s blog, Room For Squares. I was amazed at the way she wrote her entries. She was very casual, but you could feel the depth and sincerity of her words. There was no pretense, just easy, spontaneous, but impressive posts.

I realized that I don’t have to make every entry worthy of a Palanca. I can just say what I feel without having to weigh if affluent would be a better alternative than rich. Being an editor made me forget that blogging is for the sake of blogging and nothing else.

So now I’m letting everything go. After I finish typing, I’ll read everything once and correct errors and that’s it. By blogging once a week and making it a tedious affair, I’m sucking the life out of the whole experience. So thank you, RZ for bringing the fun back to blogging. I needed that reality check.

And frankly, I’m just too damn lazy to edit.

I can go on and on and on.

I’ve been an editor for a couple of months but this is the first time I’ve felt the stress that comes with being one of the top dogs. I have to constantly harass the writers, check on how their articles are doing, edit and coordinate with the other editors on how to run the organization. If being a Features editor is this stressful, I could only imagine how hard it must be being the editor-in-chief. There is also tremendous pressure because the next issue will be my first column and I want it to be perfect. Weeks after I submitted it, I still check it, looking at the tiniest details and my choice of words. I hem, I haw, and check typographical errors and the most minute errors in grammar. Add to that the stress of picking the picture that will be displayed next to my column and my interview with the school’s owner and tell me who wouldn’t break down and cry!

Without a doubt, features is one of the most demanding parts of any publication. Let’s be honest. Not a lot of people read the news, especially when it’s a quarterly publication [save for GQ and Metro hiM]. Most go straight to the features – or the stuff that you see on the cover. As the editor of that section, a lot is expected of me. I have to think of innovative topics, maybe even a few controversial ones. Squeeze the writers of every last drop of creative cum to get ideas. Like what I mentioned, I have to harass them constantly to make sure they haven’t forgotten their deadlines. On the same vein, I have to be nice, warm, friendly. There is truth in the saying that you attract more flies with honey than vinegar. Once they submit their articles – the real task begins. I have to edit. Editing is a task in itself because you have to correct errors – from spelling to sentence construction to conviction and choice of words. As a writer, I am very particular with words and avoid redundancy at all costs. Editing is hard because you have to right wrongs without reducing the article to a blank page. What’s hard is you can’t put yourself in it. After all, it’s not your article.

I initially had misgivings about accepting the position. I can be terribly lazy and unreliable and my level of commitment usually goes down the drain after the first obstacle. I can’t really say that I’m a quitter, but I tend to lose interest along the way. Subconsciously [yes, I psychoanalyze myself], I am afraid of responsibility. Mostly, I am afraid of failing but to a certain extent, failure is in conjunction with responsibility, especially when you are responsible for a whole group of people. I guess the only reason I took the position because it would be cool to be an editor. I know it’s selfish of me to take the position because of its coolness factor, but I had my reasons.

However, as I was doing my first rounds of editing last Friday, I surprisingly found it easy. Slipping into the shoes of editor seemed as comfortable as slipping into a favorite pair of bedroom slippers. I felt at ease. At home. Most importantly, I enjoyed. Maybe the reason why I make a good editor is because I am a perfectionist and a detail-freak. I realized that I could be doing this for the rest of my life. Editing. Writing. Although my future looks bright in the field of psychology [as compared to non-Psychology graduates], I realized that at the bottom of my heart, writing is my passion.

It is tiring. It is mentally exhausting and emotionally draining. Last night, to blow off steam, I went to Mall of Asia with the folks to have dinner and watch Bedtime Stories. After the movie, I went to Ascend with Gio and Ysa where I got rat-faced on Jack Daniels and Jäger. A perfect way to abandon all types of responsibility and just go on and on and on.

Justify my love

It feels overwhelming knowing that I have inspired many people to start blogging. The fact that people even bother reading my blog is enough. But that my works encourage people to write too, wow. I am flattered. No, I am floored.

I didn’t expect that I would get so much positive feedback. I’m not going to lie by saying I write for the passion and not for the syndication because that would be a half-baked truth. It’s true in the sense that I write because it is my passion, but I must admit I also do it because I want to be a renowned writer.

I’m not like most people whose talents have been honed for many years. I’m not like those who grew up doing what they do today. I actually only started writing during the summer before I entered college four years ago. Back then, I was still the raging partyphile blinded by the glare of the strobe lights. I wanted to be like Tim Yap, a local celebutante who wrote articles for the Inquirer, a national paper. I thought it was cool that he partied like a rock star and still wrote great articles. Sort of like a pinoy Carrie Bradshaw.

I only realized that I wanted to be a writer the summer before college. And by then, I already got in UST with a major in Psychology. I do love Psychology, but if people were to ask around what I do, the usual response would be writing. I have been associated with writing that people seem to forget that I am in a different field.

Initially, I thought writing would only be a summer gig with an expiration date. I didn’t expect that I would apply for the college paper in UST and end up as one of the top qualifiers. When I transferred to Perpetual, I applied for the university-wide paper and scored the highest in the written exam. What’s funny was even before I finished enrolling for the school, I was already an applicant for The Perpetualite.

This is who I am. A writer. I blog. I write in my journal. I write for the school paper. If you were to compare the high school me with no direction and the driven and ambitious me that you see [and maybe know] today, you wouldn’t believe it’s the same person. I’m not saying that I am a fantastic writer, or even a good one. I’m just saying that I am a writer.

I’m happy that I am sharing my passion. I believe that we are all writers. I mean, most of us know how to write. We all have stories. It may be fascinating, it may not be, but the fact remains that we all have tales to tell. Sometimes it doesn’t matter that you’re not good in grammar. If the story outweighs the mistakes in structure, you can never go wrong. Everybody has the potential. The best idea would be to start a blog. Don’t let your memories sink into oblivion. Tell your story. And don’t forget. Link me. Lol!

Auditioning for hot guys for my sex video

I’ve been 19 for 2 months and yet I have accomplished nothing. I’m still not an editor, I haven’t published my book, and I’m still wallowing in the dark abyss of obscurity. I think I should make a sex tape. Anyone, anyone? Ha.

Promise me you’d buy my book as soon as it hits bookstores. My carrier story is EAT ME [it’s in this blog too, try searching for it]. If you’ve read it and actually enjoyed it without vomiting, I’m sure you’ll like my book. Most of my stories would be on the same wavelength. Twisted realities. Kafkaesque. So please, support me 🙂

Seriously, I think I need to make a sex tape.