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Friday, September 2, 2011

On Blogging And Winning (My PEBA Experience)


"The men who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try nothing and succeed." -  Lloyd Jones

Before I could even decide the title of my blog , and as I am computer illiterate, the whole concept of blogging  was completely foreign to me. I did not even know what  to write or if should I actually write. I would say my foray into blogging happened by accident. Let's say I did not have the luxury of time  in front of the computer, for in the first place I did not own one. In our company accommodation, I have a colleague who has been blogging since early 2008 but I never had any idea what he was up to. On off days and after work, much of his time centers around blogging, blog-hopping and facebooking while I am contented to while my time on TFC. 

Typically, one major reason why I opted not to buy a computer was that, I hated it to get addicted to it apart from its being expensive. But thanks to a little Ramadan bonus, I finally decided to buy one for myself in October 2009 -- a rather cheap brand but at least I would not be waiting till my colleague complains of spine-breaking stint in front of his computer before I could finally check my email.

Not that I am the type that can easily be influenced or gullible for that matter, but the prodding of my colleague to get me on the bandwagon just appealed to me. Essentially, creating a blog is one thing and writing a post is another. And I have to admit, I am the least confident person you will ever know, so much that even in high school I would sit at the back row and never participate in recitation, never wanting to be at the front of the pack and drawing attention. So, in essence, my first blog post would be my first piece of essay in my whole conscious life. Still, I did not know what to write and not confident to write. So, my colleague helped me out on my first post and it turned out to be a video of Efren Penaflorida campaigning for support for the CNN Hero of the Year Award.

On my second post, I remember I wrote at least four paragraphs about typhoon Ondoy, and to my surprise, a blogger by the name of IsladeNebz had left his comment. And to tell you, his comment was so sincere that it helped me grow some confidence. And that was the start of it. One post bore another until I met some great bloggers on the blogosphere whom I truly admire for their great personality on top of their great writing skills. That time also coincided with the PEBA fever and everyone on the blogosphere seemed to be hyped-up by these award stuff, and most bloggers I've known were also nominees. (I've been especially a fan of IsladeNebz, Palipasan, The Pink Tarha and FrancescaInFrance.)  As expected, all of them ran away with top awards.

Joining contests may be last in my bucket list, let alone essay-writing contest. So it never occurred to me finding myself  writing an entry to a theme I feel strongly about. Lacking in confidence and only few blog posts to brag, I was wondering if I could write effectively that would resonate with readers. Apart my strong views about the theme, I also had my experiences and lessons in life to rely on as my inspiration to write an entry. To be able to share my story through blog is already a rewarding experience, but getting a recognition for your work, to me it is really something. 

Luckily for me, my entry was officially recognized as one of the nominees. And to be counted alongside others whose entries were masterpieces in their own right, was a life's trophy in itself. I would say my goal did not stop there, for obviously I became too ambitious to have wanted to land in the top ten. The nominee banner that hung on the side bar of my blog would have done me a great deal of contentment, but PEBA had another thing in mind. A week or so before the awards night, came a really great surprise when I received an email from PEBA, informing me that my blog will receive one of the awards. And mind you, the awards night coincided with my birthday, so the timing didn't get any better than that. 

Over lunch, my mind vacillates between the pros and cons if ever I decided to send one of my siblings on my behalf. As financial considerations weighed heavily on my decision, I was faced with a dilemma whether to skip the awards night or not. Sending a sibling or two from Bacolod to Manila (and back) by plane is really costly and wouldn't help my family tide over on Christmas. Finally, I texted my sister at the spur-of-the-moment decision. Her reply was, "are you serious?" kind of thing. For the record, none of my other nine siblings has ever traveled by plane, so I kind of anticipated the shock it gave them. It's just that, I had a really tough time explaining to them about some 'strange' things that confronted them. By the way, apart from fulfilling my obligations to them, they had no idea what I am up to let alone this thing called blogging. So to make things rather simple for them to understand, I said I joined a contest and won something and that they should receive my prize.

Watching my big sister on live stream holding up my trophy was a surreal feeling, so to speak. The occasion marked so many firsts in our humble lives. Not that I felt overwhelmed by its grandiosity, but to someone who  barely had college education and be mentioned in the same breath as the finest bloggers I really admire, to me that was crazy. On arriving home in Silay City, my two sisters have not run out of stories to tell. Maybe not so much about the glitz and glamour at the venue, or the freebies that they took home with them, not even the dizzying skyways and colossal traffic that confronted them, but on feeling proud of the recognition I received.

The hype over PEBA  2010 might have faded in days, yet the greater cause greater than PEBA itself will have lingered in the hearts and minds of those wonderful people behind it. The noble goals they set may have not been reached in its entirety, however we OFW bloggers, could not find a better and more visible platform than this, that allows us to champion our common cause and getting our sentiments heard, so that we don't fret if our collective voice seems not to matter in a bigger stage. The PEBA that I know is one that, from my point of view, offers multidimensional agenda by not only tapping raw talents through blogging, but more than anything, to be able to help OFW communities around the world one way or another, and serving as a voice  by raising  awareness in  matters that concern the OFW diaspora in general.

Without a doubt, this year's theme "Ako'y Babalik Hatid Ko'y Pagbabago"  resonates  with all OFWs who have left their families hoping for a brighter future. If there comes an opportunity that we feel compelled to share our thoughts, stories that inspire, or even lamentations from frustrations so that they serve readers  a lesson, then this is the best time. Here at PEBA, every story is unique, every thought and aspiration  of ordinary OFW like me is provided a platform to get read and  inspire others. So, if you are a blogger and the prospect of getting your story published through PEBA amuses you, then this is your time to shine. Another milestone waiting to be added to your already accomplished  resume could be just around the corner.

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Some of the photos above courtesy of Arnaldo Arnáiz Díaz

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