The other night, as I was rummaging through old files. I came across a handful of the papers I did for my electives and as I reread them, some made me cringe (“Euck, I write this way?! Booooooriiiiing!”), while very few reflected my interest in the given topic. At that time, it never occurred to me to post them here- despite our professor encouraging us to do so- but then I figured that maybe I could share a bit.
Below is the feature article I wrote about Patty Laurel-Filart for my Feature Writing class under Ruel S. De Vera. I believe we were tasked to write about someone interesting and how timely for me, then, that the semester prior to that elective, I actually took Patty’s class. Not to mention, she is one of the people I look up to (hence making her fitting for the task), and even back in high school, I have frequented her blog. (Disclaimer: Forgive me for the amateur article. I am in no way a professional writer.)
Sugar, Spice and Everything Nice:
A Feature Article on Patricia Laurel-Filart
by Kara Leongson
“FOR a foodie, I’m an awful cook. My biggest regret is not listening to my mom’s cooking tips. Now I’m a starving newlywed, but I’m eager to learn,” says the 29-year-old educator/events host/model/blogger, Patricia Laurel-Filart, half jokingly, half stating the truth.
Clad in a dark blue tube maxi dress, sporting her signature neatly-tied ponytail, and wearing her billboard-worthy perfect smize (smiling with the eyes), Patty successfully exudes an aura of friendliness, enough to wipe away your apprehensions as you face an almost star-studded personality. Her simplicity and elegance is as captivating as the white walls adorned with dainty designs and Heima-looking furniture that fills her cozy, two-storey loft in the now rising business district.
Born to a politically associated clan, Patty discloses that although there is a Laurel relation by blood, it only reaches as far as the famous question, “Are you related to Vice President, Doy Laurel?”
The firstborn of two beautiful children to JJ and Leah Laurel, who were both teachers by profession (the former was also a lawyer), Patty gratefully recounts the balanced childhood that she cherished; one that allowed her to exercise her responsibility and freedom, while being under her parents reasonable degree of supervision.
A big chunk of Patty’s childhood was actually adorned with the privilege of having regular family trips abroad. Despite belonging to the middle class, her parents made it a point to set aside money for a traveling fund. But much like every kid then, it took her some time to appreciate its worth, wishing instead that they had spent the money on gadgets and toys.
Patty shares, “it was only when I was older that I realized that once you travel and you put yourself out there, you don’t feel so self-centered anymore. You understand and realize [that] you’re just a small spot in this big, big world.”
Fast forwarding to college, Patty dishes that in spite of having entered her dream school and pursuing the course she desired, “everything was [still] a blur.” Little did she know that a few years later, an opportunity that she is about to grasp is destined to change the course of her life forever.
All it took for Patty to land a stint as an Ateneo courtside reporter was a friend’s invitation and her spontaneous spirit to hop right in, equally keeping in mind that she might as well put her Communication-attained skills to a test.
Regardless of how glamorous her position must have been, especially for those who longed to snag the spot more than she did, Patty reveals that it was “one of [her] most trying times.” Entering the field of television, without much expectation and at such a young age, turned her into an emotional victim of bold criticisms and harsh comments. Thankfully, she learned to spring back up and challenged herself to “cope and do better everyday.”
This being said, she credits her smooth transition in media-related careers (i.e. as “Breakfast” TV host, MTV veejay, commercial and print model and events host) to her one-year experience as a courtside reporter.
Six years later and much to everyone’s surprise, the then successful Patty took a break from hosting and momentarily shut her door in the face of the lucrative career she once thrived in, focusing instead on her new job as a pre-school teacher. This downward transition was not something people around her agreed to easily.
But for Patty, the urge to teach was something she could not resist, “I didn’t want to wake up at 45 with a regret of being so far away from the possibility of teaching. I’m 29 and I’m old enough to know what I don’t want, but young enough to figure out the things that I might still like in the future.”
Now, as a college professor, she is content juggling the two things she is most passionate about: teaching and media. The flexibility of her schedule also allows her to do hosting and modeling on the side.
But on another note, to a person familiar with the blogosphere, Patty is regarded as one of the most sought-after bloggers because of her quirky, realistic and often humorous posts, which many people can relate to. “I just hope that [my] blog is a happy place that people go to. Blogging is a happy thing for me that I do on the side,” she quips.
What started as a deal within her graduating college barkada, as a means to keep in touch with one another, unexpectedly turned into a rejuvenating virtual playpen, which people found as the perfect source to recharge their almost-drained happiness meter. For Patty, her followers were simply the “added bonus,” the mere cherry on top.
Last November 22, Thanksgiving Day, happens to be Patty’s best experience so far. Tying the knot with 30-year-old Businessman and Video/Commercial Editor, Patrick Filart, in an even that was proudly paid for solely by the couple themselves, was something Patty considered as the beginning of another chapter of her life, another clean slate. “When I got married, it felt like it’s graduation day. It’s scary [but] at the same time exciting.”
Without a doubt, having kids is what is up next on her list, but she was quick to remind herself that she will be ready for whatever God’s plan is for her.
When asked about how she sees herself 10 years from now, she gamely throws back a suprising response. “Hopefully, I’ll be a better cook [by then]. The goal is to be the next Nigella Lawson in the Kitchen,” she bursts into a short giggle after that. -30-
June is the month I promised myself that I will start looking for a job. Initially, I had pledged to do this a month earlier, but I was too caught up enjoying my last real dose of summer and it didn’t help at all that both my sisters are younger than me. Not that I regret being a bit of a bum, but I am currently feeling the pressure of doing something productive and making myself useful in this competitive and demanding world.
Being faithful to my words was not the challenge. In fact, I gladly put my game face on after drinking my daily shot of coffee early this morning. The process of searching, on the other hand, was the real deal. I hopped from website to website, skimming through job openings and job descriptions— many of which require a year of working experience in the eyed field. Thus, leaving me mostly at a disadvantage. By the time the clock struck three in the afternoon, I have drafted only five companies.
Job searching is a pretty tough act and sad to say, it is something I underestimated. Just because you obtained a diploma from a well-known university doesn’t mean you automatically land a well-paying position nor does it equate to getting offers from good companies. The way I see it, most, if not all, fresh grads are rolled evenly, like dough on a baker’s table. Everyone is almost at the same level and just like college, you are given the chance to start anew, to re-establish yourself the way you want to.
In the job hunting process, I can’t help but be overwhelmed by a ton of regrets, like “I should have been more active in orgs,” “I should have taken internships during breaks,” or “I should have listened to my parents and taken this so-and-so course instead.” And frankly, in the past few days, I have been battling it out with a bucket of regrets, falling into the pit of helplessness and constantly worrying about “fitting in this world.” With only a Bachelor’s Degree, a one-year experience in the world of business, and about three weeks’ worth of internship in my chosen field, I feel like I am in danger when I start to sell myself to prospective companies, causing me to wonder, “What can I offer?”
Oh, the pressure is definitely on, but what the heck, everyone’s got to start somewhere, right? So off to the world go I.
Yesterday was one for the books— at least in my own personal book of records that is. After a short series of delays spanning a period of almost three months, the planned kiteboard crossing from Batangas to Puerto Galera finally materialized. With one of our fellow kite boarders organising the event and the support of some of Philippine Kiteboarding Association directors, the kiteboarders of Soloviento took the challenge!
Being a couple of hours delayed from the original schedule did not post much of a threat since after the car ride from Manila to Berberabe beach and then about an hour and a half of boat ride from the latter to Verde Island, the wind was blowing generously. To almost every kiteboarder on board, this abundant supply of amihan wind came as a big surprise. It was undoubtedly consistent and solid.
At about a half hour past 11am, after setting up our gear and making final arrangements with the rescue boat and the jet ski that will accompany us to the destination, kite boarders started to take off and test the wind and waters. We were a total of 11 kite boarders, 8 males and 3 females. But unfortunately, none of us was able to bring a camera to document such a, shall I say, momentous crossing experience for majority of those on board.
So there I was, a little before noon, riding through salty, choppy waters that were glistening and dark blue. At first, I can’t help but still feel a bit of fear as the course was rather “new” to me— it was the first time I was to ride down that path. And oh wave after wave after wave, it never seemed to come to an end!
To take my mind off the fear and get me into my zone of calmness, I got on with my riding ritual, which involves meditating and praying while I do my ride. Nope, I am far from religious, but there’s a certain peace that I arrive at and grace that fills me whenever I talk to God at the start of my ride. Regardless of what’s in store for that escapade, be it my usual course training in the flat, freshwater Lake Caliraya or, as in this case, the choppy, unstable salty seawater, I always lift a prayer or two to get rid of distractions and fear. And get rid of such hanging matters was what it did! After that ritual, I was ready and more confident to go on with the crossing.
It took us about an hour and 20mins to cross to a private island in Puerto Galera from Verde Island in Batangas and of course, it didn’t come with ease. I, for one, fell off my board for a number of times in cold waters and must I say, felt shark infested! Lucky me, my board didn’t have a mind of its own during those incidents; hence, I was able to retrieve it easily. Also, since we were riding left (in a kiteboarder’s world, this is called, “port side”) all the way, my right thighs were in pain and felt like bursting! Imagine a complicated machine that was left to operate overnight and was on the verge of exploding. That was how my thighs felt during those crucial hours. But then again, all 11 of us managed to successfully cross and arrive at our destination, with a freshly cooked set of meals greeting our exhausted and hungry selves.
Ironically, during the cross, the boat contracted to rescue us was the one the ended up being rescued. In the middle of the sea, its propeller conked out and fell off, drifting it to another island which took us a while to spot. It took three hours to get everything fixed and so for us riders, we snatched the opportunity to lie down on the sand and squeeze in a good siesta. For the others whom we shall call kiteboarding addicts, it was the perfect time to play on water; after all, it was a good 15-18 knots then.
Alerted by the almost 4 o’clock status and with the rescue boat manoeuvring its way through the rough waves and towards the island, we set off for a ride back to Batangas. The wind died down a bit and so we had to depart as soon as possible. We set sail, but this time only 5 of us pushed through since others were underpowered and/or didn’t want to risk having their kites fall midway.
It was the ride back to Verde Island that I enjoyed more, despite all the rest of the riders claiming that it was harder and they didn’t like it. For some odd reason- maybe the board I used was better or the wind was more suitable for me or perhaps I’ve already had a feel of the ride- I was calmer, more composed, and better equipped (strategically speaking). I also appreciated how I had that whole time alone for myself, in the middle of the sea, riding the waves, and doing the sport that I currently am in love with.
Thankfully, I didn’t let my fear of the open water get in the way. Had I succumbed to it, I wouldn’t have gained this elated, accomplished feeling and I wouldn’t have added substance to my 1 and a half years of officially being a kiteboarder. Now, I feel like mapping out other possible Philippine islands to cross and waters to ride.
It’s been almost a week since I came home from an island getaway with friends and I still can’t get the good times off my mind. I’ve been to Boracay about a handful of times, but it’s only now that I actually went there for a real vacation, without racing or kiteboarding in mind, that is. Not that I’m complaining either. But you know, there’s just something good about taking a break from your sport too.
Ahh, it was just a good 6 days, 5 nights spent at the majestic island. Despite the people traffic, steep trike fees, scorching heat of the sun, regular brownout sessions, and jam-packed restaurants during eating hours, I still enjoyed every bit of this vacation. The company of high school friends (and other close friends) surely made everything worthwhile.
Yup, just the vacation I was waiting for.
We always meet the end of something at various points in our lives. It can be a break-up, a graduation, a migration, a shift in career, and the like. For me, March was the official end of my academic journey for the two decades of education sponsored by none other than my parents. In the background, I can already hear them say, “Ahh, nakaraos din!”
I remember entering college in a neutral state. I was not a die hard Blue Eagles fan and simply went with the flow and accepted what was handed to me— the course I passed, the block I was assigned, the schedule I made, etc. Even when I made the shift (from Interdisciplinary Studies to Communications), things remained relatively the same. I came to school in the most comfortable t-shirt-shorts combo (now I understand why my mom was furious about my lack of fashion sense!), did my homework, attended my classes, and went home before darkness dawned. In short, I would say I was a pretty obedient daughter and college student (to which others would probably quip, “a boring person”).
I’d like to believe that I didn’t give my parents much of a headache (at least, none that they know of). Every now and then, I would head out to party with friends, twist my schedule a bit (oops), but I always made sure I wouldn’t do something to break their trust.
Now, four years later, I don’t look at my college life with regret. Yes, I may not have had my YOLO moment— I haven’t gone home completely drunk and wasted, I haven’t covered up a barkada road trip with the famous “school project” excuse, and I definitely have not done something completely insane behind my parents back— but I’m glad that’s the way it went. (But don’t get me wrong, of course I’m not all that goody-good either. I’ve had my fair share of petty kakulitans.) Things have fallen well into place and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
To my parents, thank you for the years of hard work to provide me quality education— doing well in school has been my way of giving back to you. To Ateneo, thank you for putting me through hell weeks, hell months, and hell professors; these only made me believe more in what I am capable of achieving. To my friends, for keeping me sane during sleepless and stressful weeks; for giving me something to laugh about even during the tough times. To my AA education, for equipping me with faith and a sturdy set of values even when put to the test. To my sport kiteboarding, for giving me a life outside of school and giving me sanity and happiness. To my one and only God, for giving me more than what I pray for and being my faithful partner all these years— you are amazing and I couldn’t have done anything without you.
Me graduating college was surreal. Me graduating college cum laude was greatly unexpected. I guess if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that doing your part and leaving the rest to God always works. It may not happen immediately, but it does happen eventually, especially if it’s according to His will.
Finally, after all the sleepless and crazy nights, the cramming and panicking, I can breathe and savour what the rest of the world has in store. Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!
Ever since I was young, my sisters and I have been taught never to think highly of ourselves and were called to interact with people who may not have lives as comfortable as ours. Our parents raised us in an environment that, though convenient, still obliged us to attend to basic chores— cleaning up the dining table, organizing our closets, making our beds in the morning, etc. This somehow humane and responsible upbringing led to fostering a household where we consider everyone as family.
I’m happy to say that, in the past years, we have built good relationships with our helpers and I’d like to believe that they also grew fond of us. Hence, when they feel like their service must come to an end (for whatever personal reason it may be), it always becomes hard to let go. Both for us, and for that helper.
Tomorrow, after a couple of years or so of working for us, one of our helpers, Em, will be leaving and flying to her hometown General Santos. She has been very loyal to her job and has dutifully played as a right hand to my mother in her mini baking business. Similarly, she has also played an important role in my academic life as my personal alarm clock— going up to my room every morning just to check if I didn’t turn my alarm on snooze again. Yes, had it not been for her, I would have always been late for class, especially the challenging 7:30AM ones.
As a token of appreciation, we held a simple farewell gathering for Em. Over a healthy dose of pizza, pasta, and mojos, we shared anecdotes and laughter, and a couple even shed a few tears.
I’m happy we met Em and we shared a good two or so years with her. I wish her all the best in the life she faces ahead. May it be promising and colorful, abundant with blessings and happiness.
The first time I went to Palawan, I already vowed to myself that I will come back and come back indeed was what I did. This time around, however, it was not about doing tours, but rather riding its clear blue waters that remain unbeaten. Perfect, just what I needed as a reward after my final demanding finals week!
Without any practice at all (that was how booked my February was, academically speaking!), I flew on March 6 with my kites, board, and fellow kiteboarding buddies for the final leg of the first Philippine Kiteboarding Tour, organized by the Philippine Kiteboarding Association.
Having arrived a day before the official start of the event and experiencing the tender blow of the wind, I was able to test the clear, blue, calm waters of Palawan. Its pristine quality also enabled me to get a glimpse of the aquatic life underneath, which included a big, healthy resident pawikan, as I splash my board against the water.
Come race day, the wide shoreline fronting The Emerald Playa Beach and Microtel were filled with colorful and pumped up kites. Participants from Boracay, Manila, Ilocos, to name a few, and riders of different nationalities were present to support the culminating leg. It was again a successful gathering of people who share the same passion— kiteboarding.
During Day 1, luck with the wind was nowhere to be found. Despite preparations, wind conditions were too low to hold races, more so to hold the other events lined up, namely freestyle and hangtime. Hence, people were left to enjoy each other’s company and to make sure time is not wasted, some resorted to playing frisbee and beach volleyball. At one point, it even led to the invention of relay games that involved running to and fro, drinking a bottle of beer, etc.
A bit of luck came our way during the 2nd day (must be the offered eggs) and as a result, race organizers pushed through with three races. In order to minimize the risk that came along with the faint wind conditions, participants were consolidated into one fleet, meaning Men, Women, and Masters were all set to start at the same time.
Left with no choice at shore, I grabbed onto my XTR board and 13m Cabrinha Velocity kite, said a little prayer, and dashed off to position myself for the race. Initially, the course consisted of two rounds around a windward buoy that was roughly 800m upwind. Thinking that wind conditions will fail to stabilize, I gave my all right away during the first race. Unfortunately for me, come the race 2 and 3 (where the race officials cut down the course to one round each), I was already dehydrated by the salty air and water, and my thighs were screaming in pain. I was having difficulty riding and balancing downwind as well, such that come the last race for the day, I kept crashing and losing my board (cue: Caliraya body dragging skills) Hence, I finished 1st for R1 and 3rd for R2 and R3.
That night, during a sponsored dinner at a hotel in the city, results were posted and I was surprised, as the others were, that my points garnered me a wobbly top spot. Wobbly because I am only 1 point ahead from my toughest opponent, experienced Finnish rider, my idol, and good friend, Viola. As a result, come day 3, I was partly hoping that wind conditions would only be substantial to carry out the other events which have not gained any result— Freestyle and Hangtime. However, the Lord (and Wind God perhaps) has willed otherwise.
Nonetheless, after an awe-dropping Freestyle finale between Filipino-Norweigian 12-year-old kiteboarder, Christian Tio, and Kiteboarding Tour Asia freestyle champion, Dutch Dylan Van der Meij, in which the latter bowed to the former, as well as a successful Hangtime result bagged by Liezl Tio (for the ladies) and Dylan Van der Meij (for the mens), the race organizers called for a last set of races.
Having known that I was more of at a disadvantage gave me a bit of chills. As much as I do not want to be dethroned, I had other important facets to focus my energy on, such as my poor skill of riding downwind (which becomes a challenge after doing a couple of races), the strength of my thighs (it’s not a joke riding 800m++ upwind.. and yes, I do scream while riding when my thighs already hurt), and the unstable wind conditions (which poses as a threat to my board’s and kite’s sizes).
As we positioned ourselves and rode slowly to the starting line while waiting for the blow of the horn, I lifted everything up to Him and His will and let go of my anxieties. Cliche as it may sound, but I am a firm believer of what’s meant to be will always happen— provided that you’ve exhausted all your effort for your end of the bargain.
So there I was, trying my best to cut through the waters and ride with the most efficient upwind position that I can come up with. Despite the salty water splashing against my face, I braved the open water (yes, I still fear riding with or seeing sharks) and kept my eye at the windward buoy. True enough, my real challenge always came at the downwind ride. Practicing in a freshwater lake deprives me of mastering the thrill and technique of riding waves. But learning from my mistakes the day before, I was conditioning myself to ride it “slowly but surely.” In other words, I ought not to risk losing my balance and board the whole ride down.
Without knowing the results right then and there, I was determined to give whatever ounce of strength I have left. Come the third race, I was again drained out (someone needs to work on her stamina), causing me to crash and fall a couple of times downwind. As a result, my opponents, which were way behind me, caught up and Viola and I had a tight race to the finish line, exchanging positions for first and second just a few meters away from the mark.
The last thing I remember was screaming “I don’t think I’ll cross the finish line” as we neared each other, before seeing our kites tangle up and fall abruptly into the water. Alas, my first official kite tangle!
Despite the delicious spaghetti-without-sauce (a term coined when kite lines get tangled… and yes, they do look like a spaghetti) encounter, it was a good race to cap off the event. Just as before, participants of the Philippine Kiteboarding Tour is united as one big family, hence extreme personalism is out of the picture.
At the end of the last leg of the tour, I am happy to say that I have improved as a rider and as a person. The experiences I gained helped me mature as an athlete and also enabled me to make new connections with people who share the same passion as me, whether locally or internationally. I do not know what the future may hold, but I do know that my love for this sport only deepened my determination to learn more as the days go by. Who knows, maybe in the near future I can also pull off a trick or two?
Kudos to the people behind the Philippine Kiteboarding Association and all those who made the event a success. It was a great first season and I’m definitely looking forward to the next— new places to go, new waters to ride!
[Disclaimer: Photos by Monette Montejo]