Hello everyone! Just to share my good and bad experiences when I was in Hoi Chi Minh City. I travelled with my sister and on the first day, my gold necklace with my wedding ring were snatched by a man on his motorbike just as we were crossing the street. It happened near Independence Palace. The gold necklace was given to me by my mother and the wedding ring has Him Indoors’ name and the date of our wedding engraved to it. I was so shocked that I stood there, not realising what just happened. I shouted but then he was gone, and so was the other man riding next to him. A lot of people came after that, together with some security guards and a police man, but was so hard to communicate with them. I couldn’t speak Vietnamese and they couldn’t speak English. I just wanted to go back to the hotel and ring Him Indoors. After some thought, I’m still grateful that nothing else happened to me.
The next day, we had a city tour around Hoi Chi Minh. We met the tour guide and our driver and we told them my experience. They were so sorry about it but couldn’t do anything. First we went to see the Jade Emperor Pagoda. Built in 1909 in honour of the supreme Taoist god (the Jade Emperor or King of Heaven, Ngoc Hoang), this is one of the most spectacularly atmospheric temples in Ho Chi Minh City, stuffed with statues of phantasmal divinities and grotesque heroes. The pungent smoke of incense (huong) fills the air, obscuring the exquisite woodcarvings. Its roof is encrusted with elaborate tile work, and the temple’s statues, depicting characters from both Buddhist and Taoist lore, are made from reinforced papier mâché.
I am here, you are there
Miles apart, half of the world
We have to cross the seas and lands
We have to endure the storms coming
You are there, so far away, unreachable
I say this, you say that, misunderstanding
Hard to communicate, different opinions
Upsetting one another even not intentionally
Causing pain in the heart and soul, shattering
Over the mountains, through seven seas
Enduring the pain, winter, spring, autumn
Summer comes, is there a flicker of hope?
Can we overcome the hurdles, the storm?
I don’t know, I really don’t know
“Then you should say what you mean,” the March Hare went on.
“I do,” Alice hastily replied; “at least–at least I mean what I say–that’s the same thing, you know.”
“Not the same thing a bit!” said the Hatter. “You might just as well say that “I see what I eat” is the same thing as “I eat what I see”!”
― Lewis Carroll
How about a coven of writers brewing our stories? I don’t mean we’re witches, meeting on a full moon, each one adding some herbs or spices in a big pot of the cauldron, cooking over an open fire. I was just thinking about this course – with all of us coming from different countries, backgrounds, experience, culture, and each one have a story brewing in our minds, waiting in anticipation to come out. Yes, we are a group of writers and I want to know what we can call ourselves. I found some suggestions on the internet including a quill, a compendium, an index, a chapter, a bibliography, a scribble, a sentence, a pen, a composition and a story. I like to think of it more as a starting point, a support system, an inspiration, a springboard, a gate of knowledge and a joy to be a member of. It has been 10 weeks since we started this course and the experience I’ve had just proved that – having had peers giving each other some encouragement, help, constructive criticisms and answering our questions. The interaction with one another is amazing. When I first submitted this synthesis as assignment 2, one of the criticisms I’ve got is that there’s no common theme between my writing with a cause and the other writers with their causes. What could our common theme be? I believe it’s our desire to connect with the world. We want to interact with others by writing what we feel is important to us – our causes. We also have to think about our audience, the plots and scenes and the main claim.
His sister Candy was right. Jack should write these stories so that their children and grandchildren would know something about who they were and the unique lives they lead as children growing up in the sea ports of the Eastern Seaboard of The United States and the various island nations. I wrote my stories as part of our first assignment. Jack produced a collection of memories of childhood growing up. My stories included my experience when I first left home at 22, from Manila International Airport, to Europe, to America and back to the Philippines again. Jack’s stories were funny, vibrant, entertaining and factual. I don’t know about the funny part, but I believe mine was entertaining and factual, too. His pacing has just been right that the readers were able to follow all the dialogues, actions and history in each story. There were twists and turns in every story which make them engaging and compelling. I hope my readers would feel the same when they read my stories. Jack and I are both thinking about our ethos (who we really are and how credible we are as we narrate our experiences) and our audience (the future generations) – and how best to interact with them through our stories.
Her journey was different from mine. Aya and I are both thinking about our plots and scenes in the form of our journeys. They make us stronger and capable of accepting our fates and/or improving our situations. With our adventures, we can explore the endless possibilities and experiences in our lives – receiving, learning and sharing the lessons to others as we progress in our journeys. Aya moved from UAE to Egypt four years ago to study pharmacy. My journey took place from the Philippines to other parts of the world and back to the Philippines again, more than 20 years ago. Aya compared her life in the UAE and Egypt and reflected on the lessons she’s learning as she continues her personal journey and development. “I learnt that it is fine to fall down and to take time on the same pace, but you should always keep trying. It’s fine to feel down, to feel lonely, to feel that you need help, to feel that you need someone by your side. Sometimes you get your strength from others because they remind you who you truly are when you forget yourself.” – I like what she’s saying. My journey was also about my personal development and the experiences I had that made me who I am today. Like Aya, my journey continues.
As he confessed in his narrative… Tony contradicted himself by saying he didn’t call himself a writer, even though he has been earning at least part of his living by writing for almost fifty years. That was also my claim, that I am not a writer. I haven’t had any article being published, except perhaps my dissertation about “Parent-Child Language Use and Cultural Attachment: A Case Study of Filipino Immigrants in the United Kingdom” as part of the requirements for the award of the MA in Applied Linguistics and English Language Teaching in 2009. What’s his cause? “So I guess my Cause is to acknowledge the great sacrificial commitment that very few of us are willing to make before we have the right to claim the title.” I have the same opinion that commitment to what we’re doing is very important. In my essay, I said I don’t have a cause. Perhaps, I have one or two – it’s about change and improvement. Tony and I are both adamant to call ourselves writers because we acknowledge that writing is a commitment few of us are willing to make and finding one’s cause is not an easy job. These are our main arguments – once we’ve found our causes, we’ve got to be passionate and committed enough to pursue them. I believe that this course has given us enough tools and has improved our confidence to be able to write something that will hopefully make a difference in this world.
Other Writers, Other Causes: a Synthesis. That was our second assignment and now I’m editing it as my assignment X. What have I learned from comparing my experience with those of other writers? A lot! I’ve learned to appreciate our similarities and differences, our styles, our language, our contexts, our backgrounds, our reasons – and our connection. We would like to communicate and interact with others. We might have different causes – for our future generations, for the lessons we’ve learned in our journey, for the great sacrificial commitment that few of us are willing to make and for the change and improvement in one’s life. We have different aims – to encourage, convincing someone, to inform, to entertain, to lobby, to educate, to argue or to tell a story. We use different media – writing a book, a blog, an article, a post on Facebook or Twitter. We are a coven of writers brewing our stories. If each of us adds something to this cauldron, for the goodwill of men, then we could produce something wonderful and magical. We need to think about our audience, the plots, the scenes and our main arguments. We acknowledge the beauty and power of the language, as well as our diversity. Each one of us has a role to play and a voice to contribute to the dialogue around us – use it!