Growing up amongst reams and reams of paper, the smell and feel of it will always remind me of the family business. Paper and ink—literally and figuratively—paid our way through college. And now that we're all grown up, I see that my siblings and I have taken paper and ink to heart and found ways to make it our own. The true value of paper and ink is what you create with it.
For my sister, they are the blueprints of her architectural projects. For my brother, they are the medical prescriptions he will soon write for patients. For me, they are the books I want to write to help change people's mindset because it's one of the best ways to change the world. But the writing profession presented itself quite a bit late, at least the kind of writing I really want to focus on.
I initially wanted to become an architect, but I suck at math, so I let my younger sister pursue that dream for me. I wanted to be an artist, like my Dad, but my parents advised me years before, why not combine writing and design?
I pursued a course in Journalism but when I graduated, I didn't want to write. I worked as a graphic designer for almost two years before writing wooed me back again.
I transitioned from being a designer to a copywriter and eventually to a digital marketer and an internal communications specialist for one of the biggest brands in the world. Unlike some people whose career timeline looks like a straight line, mine looks like a starburst.
And it took a lot of soul-searching abroad to finally decide on what I want to do.
I want to write books. People - even strangers - have told me I have a way with words and that I should not stop. If there was ever an indication that I missed years ago, it was the relationship blog that I wrote for Cosmopolitan Philippines from 2009 to 2013 - “Bedroom Blog by Veronica.”
When my first self-published novel hit the bookstores in 2015, it felt like throwing gas into the flames that have been idle inside of me for such a long time. It set me on fire. And I haven’t stopped writing ever since.
I am grateful for: The chance to live abroad. It's an eye-opening experience. It reminds me that there's a big world out there that I want to see more of.
What have others done that have benefitted my life - even if I don't know who those people are?
K: Our parents continue to dedicate their lives to their children, even if the kids are now older and taller. For as long as I can remember, they would plan their day to fit our schedules, never the other way around. And it's this kind of luxury that we are most thankful for.
How can I be thankful for the challenges that I've experienced? What did I learn from them?
K: I used to get really angry whenever I learn that some relatives talk badly about my parents. If it's just me, I wouldn't mind. But if it's my family, I go She-HULK. My brother took psychology in college and he advised me to try to trace where people's actions are coming from. I soon realize that it all boils down to envy. So now, whenever I hear these stories, I just feel sorry for these people because they are still trapped in an endless cycle of envy. I am thankful for these experiences as a writer. I use them for inspiration.
How is my life different today than it was a year ago? How can I be thankful for those changes?
K: Last year, I packed up my life in Manila to follow my husband abroad. I don't believe in long distance relationships. I tried it for half a year, and it's not for me. I resigned from a multinational company. I ended a lease on a pretty nice condo with its 4 Olympic-sized pools. I put my career on hold to support my husband. I felt both excited and scared. I've always been a go-getter and I do my own financing for my own livin' la vida loca lifestyle. I didn't know what kind of life awaited me in Malaysia but now, after several flights back and forth, I realized that moving abroad enabled me to do more.
What insights have I gained that I am grateful for?
K: The older we get, the better we understand our parents’ wisdom. I am grateful because the path our parents chose was not easy but they persevered. I am grateful for the insights my husband share with me and tips on how to deal with difficult people.
What about my surroundings (home/neighborhood/city/etc.) What am I thankful for?
K: At present, we live just outside of Malaysia's capital city, Kuala Lumpur. Unlike the city center, it's quieter here. I found a Malaysian coach so I can continue my kickboxing practice. There are two parks nearby where we can run for free.
K: We have a small, tightly knit Filipino community here. Even though I miss good ol' tapsilog and chicharon, Petaling Jaya feels just like home because my husband and I are together. I don't know where we’ll be a year from now but as long as we're together, it will always be home to me.
What opportunities do I have that I am thankful for?
K: I am grateful for the chance to work anywhere. I currently write for a media company in New York and for several clients in Singapore and Manila. As long as I have my laptop and there's Wi-Fi, I'm good to go. As for my passion projects, I can work on them anywhere. In May, I wrote the first three chapters for a new novel 36,000 feet in the air on a flight to Tokyo.
Where can I help people more?
K: I've always believed that the best way to change the world is to change mindsets. And the fastest way to change mindsets is to create powerful stories. For my first anthology project, I invited aspiring writers in Manila to collaborate on a book project with me. And it's just the beginning.
Photography: Mad Minds Photography
Hair & Makeup: Rachel Aberasturi Cadiz
Styling: Katherine C. Eustaquio-Derla
Photos from the #JKWedding2014 Prenup Collection