Monday, January 05, 2009

bahala na

It's the first day of the working year and I'm spending it by identifying what needs to be done for various clients and projects, devising strategies and approaches based on last year's learnings, compartmentalizing tasks so things are not so overwhelming, and allocating resources (including myself) to start getting things done. Several items on my task list are ongoing concerns, which means there is the necessity of thinking months ahead, while others, somewhat routine in aspect, need a jolt of freshness in terms of thinking and execution.

It's no secret that many companies in Manila (in the country, in the region, in the world) view 2009 with anxiety. Some predict worsening economic realities. Stability can be replaced by the simply need for survival, as a number of companies in my area have shut down or downsized. It is vital that we do what we can in terms of intelligent preparations for the slings and arrows of (outrageous) fortune.

Being Filipino, part of me is influenced by "bahala na". The English translation "come what may" does not begin to articulate the meaning of "bahala na". It is a unique mix of Pinoy pragmatism, optimism and cynicism, finding expression in a certain cavalier, devil-may-care attitude. For some, "bahala na" seems like acceptance of defeat in the light of inglorious circumstances. But for me, "bahala na" is about taking action, about calculated risks and motive force, about going for something and not simply sitting down. My "bahala na" is uttered with a growl, understanding that while hope may be cruel, things do not miraculously get better on their own, and that problems can be tackled as segmented challenges, a bit at a time, with industry and clear thinking.

Similarly, part of my writing attitude (and certainly part of my poetics) is "bahala na". It means trying my hand at a genre or writing manner I've never done before, refusing to accept that I'm anywhere near "good", continously attempting to tell different stories in different ways and learning from the good and bad experiences. It means embracing the realities of being a working writer, of needing to publish, of understanding that my writerly life measured in words. It means continuing to encourage others to tell stories, sharing what little I've learned so more people take up the pen, and educating myself by reading, getting what works and integrating what feels right into my writing. All of this without needing someone to validate my entire approach or process ("bahala na", indeed), but also working to reach the high acceptance standards of various publications here and abroad.

Despite my age (and yes, I'm finding that forty is sexy), I still consider myself a young writer, especially in terms of output. I like to imagine that I have more to tell, and that if I keep trying I'll improve. The proof, for me and for all other working writers, is in what we put out and publish, and I hope to have some good stuff this year.

Maybe a second collection. And a novel.

Bahala na.

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