The way back machine uncovers a gem with an interview with someone who I would like to call a good friend from back in my mid-20’s.
I originally did this interview back in 2006 for our magazine, Mobile Philippines under Hinge Inquirer Publications. The interview was conducted by me with text edits from our managing editor back then, Eva Gubat. I had sent her a copy of the interview right before she migrated to Australia.
what you call a M.A.W., a model-actress-whatever.” We got to talk
to Ala Paredes one sunny morning at the Hotel Philippine Plaza. It
was a day straight out of a hip-trance book: soft breeze blowing,
trees situated against a blue cloudless sky, water as far as your
eyes can see and a trio talking about Brazillian music, the emergency
that is environmental destruction, and jeepney signs.
I first saw Ala on campus while rushing towards the library. Writers sometimes get to associate certain words with certain people, and the word “enigmatic” seems to be owned by Ala Paredes. She talks with passion about the Pinoy, our quirks, and about moving to a new country. She’s a perpetually giddy student who wants to learn new things with a defiant air, as if there’s a countdown and she’s racing towards a goal, grabbing all things and making it an art form, a bit of melody, a stroke of her hand.
she’s trying to learn capoeira, a historically-laden Brazilian
art-form combining martial arts with acrobatics, music and dance.
When asked how she’s doing in her classes, she reveals, “I
can’t say I’m any good. I’m still at that stage where I look like an
idiot and feel like an idiot. I guess some people find it easier but
ako, I’m really uncoordinated. It’s my challenge to myself. Parang
overcoming this fear, movement in public.”
did get to overcome her fear of deep waters when she got her diving
license on February 26. It was something she wanted to do because of
her love for nature. And she was able to do justice to her Sony T1
when she maximized the use of its waterproof case during the dive.
Because of her trouble equalizing the pressure, however, she’s now
under medication due to a slight ear infection. But no matter, it was
an adventure she’d surely bring with her to Sydney.
Ala Paredes on blogging
“I used to think it was such a loser thing to do. Like, ‘Yuck. Why would you want to post your thoughts online?’
Ala and her family are set to move to Sydney, Australia, where the
vibe is warm. “My
dad thinks it’s the most livable place on earth. It’s stable, there’s
so much benefits, the government subsidizes you. It’s a system that
works basically. And it’s not as congested as the US. People seem to
be more tolerant there.”
been preparing for the idea of the move for years, and it was only
recently that a date has been agreed upon. She shared with us how her
days have been occupied by packing her stuff. That, plus her samba
sessions on Tuesdays and her capoeira practice. But mostly, she
stressed, “I’ve been just packing, packing, packing. I only have
two weeks left. I really try to make every day count. Talagang what I
plan to do everyday, when I make a choice, I try to be happy about
these days, she wakes up and tries to be peaceful for an hour,
willing herself not to jump up and check her email right away, plays
with her niece and chooses all the worthwhile things she’d do for the
day. We asked her what she’ll missed in our country. She replies, “I
think I’ll miss how eccentric the country is, and I guess it’s what
people love and hate about this country. Like one of my favorite
pastimes is reading signs. Riding in the car, and someone’s driving
and you see all these funny signs in the jeepneys and the sari-sari
stores. And I always keep my camera ready so for when “Ooh, look
at that sign. Stop. Picture!” That and a lot of other things. The
warmth, the country, the music scene definitely. My friends…”
shares that she might rename her blog to “Island Girl in
Narnia,” or something of that sort. She religiously updates her
blog every four or five days, and thinks that the frequency will be
higher once she’s in Sydney. “I’ll probably be updating it more
since I’ll be so lonely and depressed.” That’s why her theme for
her blog is the jeepney with the tag, Manila-Sydney. Very apt for her
sojourn in Australia with her family, a sort of crazy-slash-sensible
family adventure. “Isang huling sakay,” she muses.
her musing, raves and rants that keep the readers of her blog coming
back for more trips on her jeepney blog. Sometimes, she’s top 2,
sometimes 4. “I used to think it was such a loser thing to do.
Like, ‘Yuck. Why would you want to post your thoughts online?’ And
then I stumbled upon this one blog by two American girls and their
blog was just funny and entertaining. Maybe I’ll try this kind of
blog, I thought.”
been blogging for almost three years, having started on July 15,
2003. She started out at Blogspot, then moved on to her Pansitan
site. She’s happy to share that, apart from learning basic HTML, she
started learning the craft of writing well. Although she updates
often, she’s not the type of blogger who lugs around her PowerBook
and blogs away, whenever, wherever.
from her PowerBook, she has her iPod and a set of speakers, a Sony T1
with aqua case, a DV camcorder, an 80GB external hard drive and an
Oxygen8 MIDI keyboard, a gift given by her geek boyfriend, Niño of
the local band, Greyhoundz. “Imagine what other geek boyfriend
would give you that for your birthday,” she says.
love of gadgets was apparently acquired from her dad. “Everytime
something breaks down, like the WiFi, it’s always me or my dad who
has to fix it. And my dad’s the one who always buys me gadgets.
Everytime he goes on tour in the States, pagbalik niya meron siyang
bagong reward for himself. He has a PowerBook also. Actually, I grew
up using Mac. Of course, there was MS-DOS that everybody was used to.
After that, Mac na kami. And then the first time I used Windows, it
was in high school, Computer class. I was like ‘Why did this have two
buttons? Ano ‘to?'”
think once you buy your own computer, it follows that you start
buying stuff for it. Actually the iPod was a gift. I don’t know if I
would have an iPod by now if no one had given me one. I wasn’t the
type to carry my music around. Now, I can’t live without it. My T1
camera was a birthday gift also. The DV cam I bought myself because I
was in Communications at the Ateneo, for projects. The Oxygen8 was a
gift also. The Intuos was also something I bought myself since it
seemed like something I’d use a lot.”
family has been very instrumental to her growth. “When we have
dinner together, usually we stay an hour and a half longer. We’re
just talking, making kwento. You know, my parents, they like to tell
jokes, funny stories. Minsan, okay lang na magmura kami sa table pero
paminsan-minsan lang. And we always have guests over, like neighbors
dropping by. Parang adopted members and they like to stay over. I
think it’s one of the more special aspects of my family.”
she was a kid, her dad was very active against illegal logging. It
was that, plus her experience with Green Peace, that made her an
advocate for the environment. There was also that one time when she
blogged about her plans of doing good for the country in her own way.
“I’ve always had this dream that one day I’d hopefully
teach people something. A skill, maybe. Something that they can make
a living out of. It’s just a small dream.”
dad also stirred in her a simple love for our country. “Growing
up, he’d say Brazilian music is the music of the culture. And
then I asked him, how come in every song, they sing about the
country? They always sing about Brazil? And then you realize their
love for their own culture pervades even their music. Even if they’re
not singing in English, even if they’re singing in Portuguese,
they’re singing to each other. They’re singing to each other about
how much they love their country. And that’s how secure they are in
their own identity.”
moving to another place is not about to alter their principles. It’s
an active hiatus, that once you’re there, the fervor to live for your
country and to live on its very soil becomes more insistent, that
they can make that choice with conviction. “I think you’d
appreciate living in the Philippines if you knew it’s your choice.
Like I could have lived somewhere else, but I chose to live here.”
we ended the shoot, we felt we’d missed Ala Paredes. But we knew
she’d be back, regardless of whatever political or economic
circumstance we experience, regardless of how many times the jeepney
in her blog takes her to other places. It’s Ala we’re talking about,
she who once said, “Basta blogger, sweet lover,” and who
takes the world in a fierce mode, racing against time, always to find
herself drinking life with fervor.