I recently read "The Killers" by Ernest Hemingway. The prevailing themes were loss of innocence and initiation to evil.
College was a traumatic experience for me. I was verbally bullied and disrespected. On my first day at UST, I was called derogatory names like "madre" and "dalagang Pilipina." While I hold deep respect for nuns and the Maria Clara archetype, these remarks were intended to be condescending. Should I apologize for being feminine and mild-mannered? I think not.
One of them said, "Tuturuan kita." Some made baseless assumptions: "Isang bote lang daw, tumba na siguro ako pagkainom.", "Ay, yung mga ganyan, yan yung nanonood ng porn." I am a flawed human being, but I can assure you that I have never watched pornography. They even pressured me to say something as trivial as a swear word, like "shit," but I chose not to. What could I do? I was not allowed by my parents to cuss at home.
Coming from Bataan, it was my first experience to engage with seemingly 'cool' and 'badass' people in Manila. In high school, I was a quiet and introverted student and was committed to my church. I would go to lengths such as inviting people and leading connect groups at times. At least in church, the people I was surrounded with provided a safe space. But in school, I was friends with people who would say "Ikaw lang naman yung religious dito," or "Sabi na nga ba malandi ka." Some called me "sweetie" as if I was a child, and said that no one would ever take me seriously. Others said I had a "f*cked up mentality."
Reflecting on Nick Adams' escape from the big city, I wish my family had considered homeschooling as a safer option. Were these remarks not insulting simply because they were considered 'little things' that shouldn't bother me? I believe that people with small hearts fail to understand how even seemingly insignificant things can matter in life.
Now, I am living a quiet life as a home-based writer by day and singer at night. I plan to pursue music as a second degree, hoping to bring comfort to others through my art. I would like to believe that God had a reason for my traumatic experiences, or perhaps it was merely the randomness of life, where bad things happen to good people. What remains clear to me is that I've learned to find inner calm and peace of mind. I am not expecting answers.
Jessica is a writer and an aspiring singer from the Philippines.