Crayons

Little Bows Kindergarten was a lovely preschool center located at the corner of Pinecrest Road. It had only 4 not so big classrooms and a pretty little garden situated at the back of the center. Though small, many children in the area usually went there for school, including two lovelies, Cassie and John.

Cassie and John were the best of friends ever since their first words. Their families were really close to each other, and so were the two. They were barely inseparable. They loved to play in each other’s backyards with her dolls and his toy cars, even though it was quite embarassing for a boy to play with Barbies. They were always sticking up for one another.

Now, it all starts on a bright Tuesday morning, in a small blue classroom with twenty students and a teacher.

Teacher Anne :  Okay boys and girls! Alison would give you all coloring sheets. Now I want you all to color the picture with only one color. And that is you favorite one.

Everyone cheered in excitement.

Teacher Anne :  Now, I just want to remind each one of you that to get your crayon, you need to fall in line properly. We don’t want another bruise now do we, Cherry?

Cherry : No. That hurt a lot, Teacher Anne. I don’t want it to happen again!

Teacher Anne : Exactly. Now when I ring the bell, everyone can fall in line and get their crayons from the two boxes.

When the teacher rang the bell, the pupils scurried to the shelves where two boxes of crayons lay. There were enough for everyone since one box already contained ten crayons. The children hurriedly fell in line, making sure their favorite colors weren’t picked yet.

Unfortunately Cassie and John were the last of people to fall in line. While everyone else had their crayons, the two stood in front of the boxes waiting for Lucy and Julie, the twins, who were fighting over which one could get the last pink crayon.

Lucy : But I want pink!

Julie : Well it looks better on my paper!

Lucy : No! It looks better on mine!

Julie : No mine!

Lucy : Mine!

Julie : Mine!

Alison : Whoa! What’s going on here?

Lucy : Julie doesn’t want to give me the pink crayon, Ate Alison. She’s so mean!

Julie : Am not!

Lucy : You are!

Julie : Am not!

Alison : Girls, settle down. I got an idea. Julie, why don’t you get the red one? Remember when you told the class how red is a beautiful color and how it matches your brown hair? It would look perfect. Besides, its almost the same with pink.

Julie : Wow. I never thought of it that way. Well, in that case, I’ll get the red crayon.

Lucy : Thanks Ate Alison! You’re the best!

When Julie and Lucy’s dilemma were taken care of, Ate Alison turned her heel and walked away to check on the other pupils.

While the teacher and Alison were busy, Cassie and John stood beside the box of crayons. They were surprised to see only two crayons available:

blue one and a black one.

John :  I’ll have the black one!

Cassie :  John, really, the black crayon? I thought you and I loved blue?

John :  Well, I love black too.

Cassie : Okay then. I guess we both have our favorites. Blue for me and black for you.

John :  Yup. Lucky we didn’t end up like the Owens twins.

Cassie : True. Now come on John! Let’s color the drawings before we’re too late.

The two best friends had a really fun tim with their crayons. They laughed at how everything turned out. John’s worksheet, who had Pluto (Mickey’s dog), had all been filled in with the shade of black. Cassie said that it looked like one of those old Mickey Mouse episodes she watches where everything was black and white. She complimented him on how black was a great color, even though a lot of people don’t really mind it.

Honestly, John hated black but he will never tell Cassie that. Nor will he say what he did to see her beaming smile.

**

Authors’ Note : This is a collaboration piece between my sister, Kayle and I. This is the first time I’m publishing my work so please don’t hate. We would love your comments though. Crayons is also available at this link: http://www.wattpad.com/story/4324466-crayons.

Thanks so much!

PS My sister thinks I should type in how you shouldn’t copy our work mostly because she put in a lot of work in it but partly because we want the credit (or discredit). LOL. If you’re copying, mention us as your source and we’re all good.

PSS That goes for the photo covers too. My sister will KILL YOU. Trust me, she will.

PSSS Ha-ha. I’m just trying to annoy you.

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the girl I am

When I started working with kids at a nearby elementary school, tutoring them on Science and English, I wasn’t exactly sure why I was doing it. I thought maybe because I love kids and I enjoy the company of my friends who were also volunteering their Friday afternoons and even Saturday mornings. But more than seven years later, tens of other volunteer projects and a lot of struggles along the way, I was still doing it. Sometimes routinely and with little thought to what was right in front of me but mostly excited to work with people who you know you can make happy.

Now I do it on my own, with other volunteers, with my dad, just about anybody who shows interest and I’m still enjoying it. So it probably was not just the friends.   I don’t just focus on children related projects now. I’ve been on medical missions, feeding programs, political education seminars, leadership camps and many others depending what that community I’m working for needed. Guess what? I’m still really happy so it wasn’t just about being with kids.

So what was it?

I’d like to think that it’s because I believe in and love people, not just one race, a social class or a specific group but people (or humanity) in its entirety. I have great faith that when pushed in the right direction they will always choose what is right and best for themselves and everyone or everything around them. It’s highly ideal, believe me I know. I’m obsessed with history and I face pragmatic decision making everyday of my life (considering I’m in the field of business) so I’ve had my fair share of doubts. But if there’s is one thing that I’ve also learned from all that, it’s that ideals are not a bad thing. Believing in people and trusting them no matter how cruel they may seem or how much they’ve disappointed you is the best way to show them that there is still someone who sees the value, the good in them. If no one will have the courage to start believing in something, like the good in people, no one else will. Then what will become of us?

For years, I’ve put in the work to show that I have faith in impoverished communities,  forgotten or explicitly ignored by many. I made it my personal mission to show them that even if they’ve been dealt a lower hand, there is always hope to turn things around. I assured them that I was gonna be there to help them until they needed it (it was not just me though, I had a solid support system). But I always warn them that my help can only go so far so they too have to make an effort. They too have to believe in what they can do and act on it.  Seeing nanay engaged in her own business she runs from home while she took care Jr., tatay finally getting the medical care he deserved, kuya landing a scholarship for college without the guilt of his parents voting for a politician come election day because they owed the scholarship to him, ate finally learning how to use a computer, those are my daily success stories. I am the happiest when I know they don’t need me anymore except when I get invited to birthdays and christenings.

It’s not just them though. My belief in people extends to those who are graced with more in life. They, too, have contributed greatly to why I enjoy doing this job so much. I get to witness first hand how people, no matter how others argue them to be greedy and self centered, can be so compassionate and open to help. Most of time we attribute poverty and the demons that come with it to apathy but mostly it’s lack of knowledge and fear. I know in my gut that people are willing to help, whether they’re aware of that willingness or not. Most of them do not know how much need there is and that they are capable enough to help. You see, these are not taught in the classrooms or echoed in malls and coffee shops. This is not a trend that we follow on twitter or a page we like on Facebook.

A lot of people feel detached because they don’t feel poverty or illiteracy or poor health services. Even if they do feel it, we have already created a stereotype of who can help and who can’t. Teenagers  think that all social workers or volunteers are like Mother Therese, holy in every way. Volunteers don’t care for clothes or the new program on ETC (or Jack TV or CBS). They’re do-gooders they can’t relate to. I wish we could reshape that and show that volunteers can love fashion and photography and sports (like me). They’re diverse people. Helping out is not a CATEGORY or a STEREOTYPE, it’s a choice, one which is available to everyone. You can do it in any way too. Bake cookies and sell them for a cause. Talk to your school janitor and ask him if he’s doing fine. Take pictures of places you think are in need of help, post them on Facebook  Be creative because you never know what one act can contribute to a greater change. 

Many rolled their eyes and made fun of me because I often said that I’d rather work long hours in far flung communities than have a stable, high paying, 8-5 job in a nationally known company. It’s not because I hate marketing or operations or the corporate industry, I don’t. In fact, I also find it fun and challenging just not as rewarding. It’s not the career I’d be eager to tell my friends about or the job I’d be ecstatic to wake up to every morning. I’m naturally a hard worker and I put a lot in what I do so I wanna work for something that means as much to me. I care less for pay checks and cars and bonuses. I want to work on something that builds- communities, character, people. When I realized that was what I wanted, I mustered enough to pursue it and stick with it. Hopefully, I can be the person I always thought I was gonna be.

global piggy bank: saving smiles

I read a post this morning that made my heart drop a thousand miles below sea level. It’s not that it’s the first time I’m hearing of it, I actually hear it often considering it’s in my line of work but I realize how numb I’ve become since I started. This reminded me of my humanity and the humanity of what I do. Please read it and find it in your heart to reflect for today.

Filipino horror story

 By Korina Ada D. Tanyu

Philippine Daily Inquirer

Nena rises at 4 a.m. to cook a pack of instant noodles for her four children. Her live-in partner, Jojo, has gone to ply his tricycle route. He makes only about P300 a day and is still paying for the loan he took out (at 5-6 rates) to buy the tricycle.

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While cooking, Nena worries about her youngest, 5-year-old Jamjam. He has been losing weight, having recurring fever, and coughing incessantly for the past two months. Lagundi syrup is of no help. She took him to the health center, where he was given carbocisteine. Still, he continued to cough and lose weight. She also took him to the  hilot, thinking of  kulam. Nothing happened.

Three days ago, she noticed that Jamjam was having difficulty breathing and was relieved only by nebulizations at the center. She and Jojo decided to consult a physician, but they worried about how to get to a hospital. The nearest is privately owned, and the consultation fee is at least P500, aside from the costs of the lab tests. On the other hand, the nearest government hospital is in Manila. The fare from Cavite to Manila costs P100. They calculated that they needed P200 just for the fare. (Jamjam will sit on Nena’s lap so he can ride for free.)

Nena was so worried about her son that she borrowed P500 from the loan shark.

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At 6 a.m., mother and son are on their way to the government hospital in Manila. At 8 a.m., they are in a queue at the pediatrics clinic counter. But the nurses tell Nena that the quota of 60 new patients per day has been filled. Nena begs the nurses to include Jamjam in the quota. We’re sorry, say the nurses. Our patients also came from far places. Come back tomorrow.

Nena sobs. She has only P400 left. If she takes Jamjam home, she will have only P300 for tomorrow, unless she borrows money again. They can stay overnight at the hospital, but where will they get food? And her family will worry if they don’t come home. She can try the nurses again, but then again…

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In the waiting area, Nena notices an unguarded backpack.  Patawarin  sana  ako  ng  Diyos(May God forgive me), she tells herself. But she decides against taking it.

A news report is blasted from the TV set in the waiting area: Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile,  nagbigay  ng  pera  sa  mga  senador  nung  Pasko! The report says all senators, except four, got P1.6 million each for Christmas.

A doctor walks through the hallway of the clinic and surveys the row of patients in the waiting area. Her gaze falls upon Nena and Jamjam. She raises her eyebrows and quickly approaches them.

The dialogue, in Filipino, is quick:

“Ma’am, how many days has your son been having difficulty breathing?”

“Doktora, three days already.”

“No other symptoms like a cough?”

“It’s been two months since he began coughing and losing weight. He’s lost almost half of his weight. And there’s fever.”

The doctor examines Jamjam, then calls a nurse and asks for oxygen. She tells Nena that her son’s condition is worrisome and he has to be taken to the emergency room.

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Nena asks the doktora what will happen to Jamjam, and begins to cry.

Jamjam is hooked to oxygen support and put on a wheelchair. Another doctor takes mother and son to the emergency room, where several other doctors attend to the boy. One attaches an IV drip on Jamjam’s arm. His blood pressure is taken—several times. The mother senses that something’s wrong.

“Doktora, what’s happening?”

“Nanay, we can’t find your son’s blood pressure. His breathing is bad. We need to put a tube in his lungs so he can breathe. Do you have money for the respirator? If none, you will serve as the machine that will help him breathe.  Magbobomba kayo.”

To rent the machine, Nena needs at least P2,000. Jamjam also needs antibiotics. Some of the lab tests are free of charge, but the others are not. Nena thinks of the P400 she has left. She can’t call Jojo, she has no cell phone.

The doctors lead Nena to a social worker, who assists her. She manages to contact Jojo, who promises to bring the needed money before the day ends.

In Cavite, Jojo turns to his brother for help. But his brother, who has three children and another on the way, can lend him only P500. Jojo understands, and thanks his brother profusely. He looks at his watch, thinking that his prized possession will probably fetch another P500 from the loan shark. But the loan shark gives him P2,000: “Here. For your son. Pay me when he gets well.”

The father takes the money, knowing that this “generosity” comes with a stiff price. With P2,500 in his pocket, he heads to the hospital.

The doctors have inserted a tube in Jamjam’s mouth and down his trachea; one is helping him breathe with a bag. Blood extractions, as well as x-rays, have been done. Nena brings the blood samples to the lab and pays for the lab work with her P400. She still has to buy antibiotics and medication to raise Jamjam’s blood pressure, but her money has run out. She has to wait for Jojo to come. Unknown to her, the doctors have given Jamjam medication from donors.

The doctors tell Nena that Jamjam has tuberculosis complicated with severe pneumonia; the infection has spread through his blood. They ask her if anyone else in the family has TB. Nena has no idea. They tell her to have all the family members tested.

They also tell Nena that despite the medication, Jamjam still has very low blood pressure. They urge her to seek the help of local politicians. It’s the election period, after all.

But all these are a blur to Nena. Her mind is as chaotic as the emergency room. She is waiting for Jojo to come. Jojo will tell her what to do. Where is Jojo, anyway?

A doctor approaches Jamjam and listens to his chest and heart.

CODE! Doctors and nurses instantly surround Jamjam. A doctor pounds the child’s chest with a fist.

Another doctor tells Nena what is going on. Her son’s heart has stopped beating and they are trying to revive him. If his heart does not start beating again after 30 minutes, they will stop all efforts of resuscitation.

Nena suddenly feels that the weight of the world is upon her. She cries. She prays.  Diyos  ko!  Ang  anak  ko!  For the first time in her life, she shouts her prayers, hoping that from earth, her screams will be heard by God in heaven.

Thirty minutes pass. We’re sorry, the doctors say.

The nurses remove all the devices attached to Jamjam’s body. Nena embraces her child and shakes him, hoping he is just sleeping.

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Just then Jojo runs into the emergency room, looking for Nena. He sees her crying. He sees a lifeless Jamjam. He breaks down and weeps.

A week later, Nena and Jojo bury Jamjam in the public cemetery. Along with their son, they bury all their hopes and dreams for him. And then they face the future buried in debt.

Korina Ada D. Tanyu, MD, 27, is a pediatrics resident at the Philippine General Hospital where, she says, she and her colleagues encounter similar stories every day. She wishes that such situations will not happen to anyone, but realizes that with the way things are, these will only disappear in her dreams.

I started volunteering because I was an idealistic teenager who thought that there was value in pursuing goals outside of caprice and self wealth.

I thought I can change world but this story made me realize that for every 10 people I bend over backwards trying to help there are thousands more with even greater suffering. When all these is gonna end, I cannot say but what I am sure of is that the more people who are aware of these, the more people who are willing to help, the better it is for them.

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I believe so much in the good of humanity that I am sure when they see how difficult life is for their brothers and sister (maybe not of blood, race or social status but of heart and soul), they will do something about it. All it takes is a nudge in the right right direction. So this is me nudging you, hoping that in you own way you can reach out and help out.

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PS I am serious about this. I have been doing this for 4 years now and any help is welcome. Just contact me or my dad. 🙂

PSS The global piggy bank: saving smiles idea is that when one volunteers they add to the global piggy bank in the currency of smiles. By the time everyone is in on it, we’ll be able to accumulate all the smiles and the bank will be full of happiness. I got that from a bedtime story I read when I was younger so forgive the child like rhetoric. 🙂

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my cupcake has paper in it

I went out with my family last February 14th. We had dinner, like we always do, at my dad’s favorite resto. I devoted the next hour munching on almost everything on the table. There’s nothing like pigging out to celebrate a single relationship status on Valentines Day. LOL!

A few minutes after they cleared our table for dessert, I was handed a really cute cupcake by one of the waiters. Thinking it was something mom or dad ordered, I took a small bite only to later realize that there was paper in it. I was about to ask the manager (who happens to be dad’s friend) why they would put paper in a dessert (yes, not on it or beside it, IN IT) when I noticed that something was written on the piece of paper.

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Instead of fortune cookies, I got a quote hidden inside my cupcake. I almost ate it. 

That gave me a good laugh. I spent the rest of the night reading others peoples quotes reminding myself that these random things are what life is all about.

introducing sisters and diaries

Does your little sister annoy you like crazy with her pop culture talk and mean teachers? If they do, I get you. If they don’t, I get that too. 

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I have been an only child for 10 years before my darling little (by little, I mean really small) sister joined our family. Like all babies, she’s a bundle of joy but also a red flag for sleepless nights. Not that I woke up to change her diapers but you can really hear her wails from their room. After awhile I got used to it, including the milky smell in the kitchen, the new maid, spilled baby food on the counter tops and my favorite, the goo that comes out after she burps on my books.

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When she got older, it became drawings on my notes, stickers on the wall (including our fridge) and cut out colored papers from my file case. Looking back, it gave me a good laugh and I probably pulled a lot mean pranks on her too.

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Being sisters, in my opinion, is not about never fighting, never wanting to strangle each other or never having some time apart. It’s knowing that no matter how hard you fight (or how cold you treat each other), you know in your heart and in your gut that you’ll always have each others back (no problem is too petty or difficult).  It’s the urge to always hug out it after you both cool off. It’s the instinct to go and tell her about the boy you like or this girl who never stops poking you in class (ehem! Kayle, am I revealing too much?). It’s the confidence that no matter how big her mouth is she’d never talk about your secrets with someone else. She’ll never want anything to hurt you or make you cry but when you are she’s there to comfort you and eat pints of ice cream with you.

Sisterhood is more than what others see on the surface, it’s a connection only sisters will understand.

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Kayle and I have so many differences and we don’t spend every waking moment together but I know that we’ll keep that connection whenever it is, where ever we are. After all, without her I won’t have anyone to watch movies with or hunt down books with or just talk about random geekdom with.

So to relate with all the other sisters out there (and to have something we could do together even if we’re apart), we decided to start a blog- Sisters and Diaries. We’ll talk about our hobbies, what we do together, books we read, movies we watch, our own fashion style, places we’ll go to, pranks we pull on each other, guys we find hot, general rants about each other or our parents and many more.  Find time to visit the site and let’s all celebrate all over the world.

launching a rocket to Mars

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It’s that time of the year again when single women like me are reminded of how depressing it is not to have a hubby to take you out on a long walk on the beach or a romantic dinner in your favorite restaurant. Is it just me or is the world becoming grander in celebrating events like these? Roses come in bouquets. Stuffed animals are disturbingly wrapped in enormous sizes. Dinners are reserved in the most expensive restaurants, not to mention booking bands to surprise the lucky lady. And those are just the usual stuff, the real creative guys would whisk you away to road trips, picnics and overnight travel to some surprisingly romantic places. Is this starting to sound like a cheesy chick flick you force you boyfriend to watch on date night?

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My Valentines Day ritual usually ends with a date, a tradition I’ve kept for as long as I could remember. My dad would take my mom and I (and now my little sister too) to have dinner at our favorite restaurant and they’d talk about how dad made his first move on her in a Finance class, how they started dating and how they ended up staying together for 20 years. I’ve memorized it down to every detail but it still never gets too old. It’s constant reminder that when something clicks, when something just fits, it works.

But I’ve always wondered what happens in between, after the fireworks and before we reminisce. A friend from my GEEKdom once told me that relationships are like space missions (real romantic right? ooooohhhh SPACE), they’re rough and exhausting and requires A LOT of perseverance and patience. You have to put in the hours because there is no shortcut. But when you get to launch and you see how much you’ve accomplished, it’s euphoria unlike any other.

My other V-day ritual is hanging out with my 2 best buds but they’re both very busy so I’ll devote my time to blogging about what I usually tell them during this season.

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BUT

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ENOUGH WITH THE EXCUSES

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 Relationships, they’re not easy but we’re usually just making it so much harder. I remember my best friend complaining about how women are so confusing. He rambles about mood swings and being cryptic. For the guys, not all ladies are that way. You end up with riddles because you chose to be with her. If you really can’t handle it then find someone who doesn’t confuse you but if you’re willing to compromise then know that we’re cryptic because we’re either scared or embarrassed to spell it out. We believe you to be capable to read between the lines and determined to keep on trying until you get us. For the ladies, give your guys a break. Sometimes, the good old truth is the way to go (trust me I have a dozen guy best friends who will back this up). I know these are not the only things we struggle with, there are some which are petty while others are complex and are difficult to even discuss. I’m not a relationship guru, a far cry from it, but I think the most important thing is that we try. My parents never had it easy as every relationship will not be but it’s not the cue to wave the white flag and leave.

If they’re worth it, don’t give up.

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And this is where I say I won’t give up. Even if you’re unaware and I have no plans of telling you in the near future, know that I haven’t given up. Like an undone ship, I’m not yet ready to launch. I will take my time (let me work on myself) and I’ll see you when we’re both ready to fly.

book hoarder

There are stress eaters, weight watchers, smokers, drunkards, writers even sleepers. We all have different ways of dealing with extreme emotions, I’m a reader.

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When I’m happy I’d line up my Sophie Kinsella (Madeleine Wickham) and Marian Keyes books, grab some chocolate chip cookies and start reading. When my mood is not at its best, I’ll go for Paolo Coelho, Mitch Albom or Nicholas Sparks. Regardless how the book ends, those reads always make me feel better. Right after exams, when I want to treat myself after a hell-ridden week, I’ll rush to my thriller or paralegal books. Usually, these are John Grisham novels which I’ve probably already memorized after reading them over and over again or Stephen King thrillers that never let me sleep. Then there are my run to books, the ones I read whenever, wherever.  My closest friends know this by heart (my dad does too).  Anne Rice anyone?

The important thing with reading is that you should be willing to try new genres and authors all time, they might surprise you. If you’re not that adventurous, you can try visiting these sites: http://www.pulitzer.org, http://www.nytimes.com/best-sellers, www.oprah.com/book-list, www.barnesandnoble.com. You can also follow blogs of who those give book reviews, the good ones, here at wordpress (or ask brilliant professors or friends who are wide readers- thanks Sir Gonzaga).  This is how I met Rick Riordan, James Frey and Tom Rachman.

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When I frequent book shops, I usually take hours before going to my next stop. Buying books for me is like shopping for clothes for most other chicks my age. That adrenaline rush you get when you see the best displays outside Forever 21 or Zara or Topshop (at least, that’s how Becky Bloomwood puts it), that’s exactly how I feel in a bookstore (disclaimer: I also love clothes and fashion and shopping. I’m normal in some ways too. *winks*).

Reading was my saving grace at one point. It became an escape where I don’t have to please people, finish projects, report to bosses or be perfect. I just had to read.  It takes me to places I’ve always wanted to see but can’t afford to go to no matter how hard I try to pool my resources (yes, I’m talking about Paris- I wanna visit the Louvre).  It allows me to meet people I grow to admire whether they’re real or not. Books offer answers to problems I didn’t even know I had (in light of that I suggest that you read Eat, Pray, Love). It’s a place where I can gather my thoughts, console myself and be okay again– ready for anything.

Some of my friends tell me that reading is not for everybody. There are people who repel books just like I repel technology but trying is not that hard. Right? Right! So the next time you pass by a book store, pick a book, anything that you intuitively gravitate towards. Buy it and read it. The first few pages may be struggle but make an effort to finish it. If you still hate reading by then, I rest my case. But if before you even hit the final chapters you’re already itching to buy a new one, welcome to club. You are now an official bookworm convert!

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PS It helps if you share this passion with the people closest to you (in my case my dad and little sister).

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It makes hunting down good reads and discussing it after so much more fun. Plus, if you share this with your dad, you won’t find it so hard getting extra cash to buy them. 😉