Sunday, May 12, 2024

A Weekend at Agape Spring Farm and Resort


@titazeeh7 A weekend staycation at Agape Spring Farm #rest #AGU_Recreation #ARMYGlowUp2025 ♬ Inner Child - BTS

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Kuwentong Bangtan: Come Back to Me, A Music Video Review

Kim Namjoon, my ultimate bias and leader of BTS, has once again served awesome sauce. In his new single, Come Back to Me, he contemplates on his many personas which he assumed, earned and accepted over time. Many of these personas are dictated upon him by family, fans and friends. If you are a solid and loyal ARMY who has been in the fandom for quite a while, you know the depth of Namjoon’s pain and his years of struggle in dealing with these personas. To deal with this tension, he poured it all on creating music - his one true love. Oh, he loves many things, art, books, trees, the stars and ARMY; his family and blood brothers; his freedom. But music is his home.

In this home, he created masterpieces that speak of his battles, both internal and external. It can be found in BTS’ decade old discography. One of them is Intro: Persona (EP, Map of the Soul 2019) where he asks, “Who the hell am I?” The song, a fusion of hiphop and trap genre, is an assertion of self preservation. Taking off from the Love Yourself era and the UN Speech of 2018, Namjoon, in Intro: Persona, decides to choose his Self from the many personas and persevere seeking what will make him whole in a manufactured and plastic industry.

Forward to 2022. On the release of his full length album, Indigo, he sings of yet another decision of being true to oneself in the title track Wildflower. Using the metaphors of fireworks, flowers growing in the wild and a landscape of mountain and air, Namjoon tells his story of equilibrium.

At the height of fame and global success, BTS pauses for military service. Who else can give up gold and glory to fulfill yet another duty, another designed persona by someone else but our Bulletproof Boyscouts. They know their priority. They are balancing out roles from duties keeping intact the identity that grounds them. The artistic identity of the seven shine so bright in this era of hiatus as one member drops content and solo projects one after the other highlighting their own choice of music and art. I have never seen such diversity and depth by a Kpop group or foreign act.

Then again, BTS is a class on their own.

With the release of Namjoon’s single, Come Back to Me, he once again harps on the theme of choice and self love. This time, he does it with sophistication and tenderness. The music video shows him in many rooms and in many personas. He experiences different levels of conflict in each. Meeting his anima half way through, he is able to make peace with his personas. In the end, he elects to be with his anima. His soul. His true self. Together they left the rooms of personas. Pain divine

This is bittersweet for me. CBTM touches and communicates with me on many levels. That happy sad feeling lingers as I watch our Bangtan boys grow up and become the persons they choose to be.

Now, it is my turn to come back to me.

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Call for Entries: The 2024 PBBY-Alcala Prize


Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Author Interview: Marissa Atienza

As posted in the blog on April 7, 2024, my interview of my ARMY friend, writer and life coach, Mars Atienza, is finally here. I love her book recommendations for our Bangtan Guys. Read on!

1. Tell us what made you say yes to co-author and contribute your story to the book, Becoming Sheroes: Stories of Heartstrong Women
To be honest, I said yes in a heartbeat. Being part of Becoming Sheroes is such a privilege that I’m very grateful for. When Monica Maralit - the heart and brain behind Becoming Sheroes - spoke to me about this project, I believed right away in its purpose and vision. I knew it’s going to be a good avenue to share my stories in hopes of inspiring someone, and at the same time contribute to the education of young girls at the Victoria Heartstrong Foundation. 2. How did you craft your story? “Luha at kape ang puhunan!” - this was how I described the entire writing process. I had to scour my brain for memories, and replay events and scenarios in my head that I’ve worked hard on burying - because they were just too painful. Before I started working on the book, I was suffering from a massive writer’s block, and a friend of mine had to bring me to Antipolo to overcome that. In ARMY’s language, I had to do Namjooning, but not an ordinary one. That Namjooning was intense and intentional, which really gave me a good head start. It started as an agonizing experience but ended as something euphoric when I finally submitted my draft. It was all worth it.

3. Who are your role models and “sheroes”?
Definitely the women in my family - my mother and grandmother who already passed, and my Tiya who has always been my favorite tita since I was a little girl. I admire how they are feminine and soft, yet strong and independent. When it comes to fictional characters, Wonder Woman has always been my shero. Most of my trainees and my colleagues who worked with me for a significant amount of time call me Wonder Woman, which is of course flattering but at the same time agitating because it is a huge responsibility. I admire her for believing in love despite all the wars and heartaches she faced. Another character is Barbie because of how she inspires me that I can be anything. There’s no limit on what she can do. For me a shero is someone who loves herself so much that she has a lot to give to other people. And I guess that’s why I see these women as my sheroes. 4. Where do you go from here? After Becoming Sheroes, what’s next? I really would like to publish my own book which remain to be a draft for decades now. I hope to publish it by December. At Make Space PH, on the other hand, we are working on some digital products which we aim to launch in the coming months. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so we’ll definitely have several campaigns on that at Make Space PH. As for Becoming Sheroes, it’s a continuous project. I have upcoming engagements with my co-authors that range from simple catch-ups to skill-building. Please keep supporting the book and help the education fund at Victoria Heartstrong Foundation.

5. Recommend a book to each of member of BTS and why
😊 RM: Eleven Minutes" by Paulo Coelho. Namjoon may resonate to the protagonist’s journey in understanding intimacy and finding fulfillment beyond societal norms. It’s a sexy, sensual, profound book... which all he is to me. Sexy. Sensual. Profound. LOL Jin: Little Prince by Antoine Saint-Exupery. It’s an easy read, and I think the story will resonate to Jin with his caring nature and tendency to look after the other members. Suga: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - This classic novel would be a great fit for Yoongi’s quiet intelligence and appreciation for artistry. His way of thinking could also likely align well with Austen's sharp wit and social commentary. J-Hope: Becoming by Michelle Obama. Like a ray of sunshine that he is, Hobi exudes positivity and resilience much like how Michelle recounted her life from her early childhood to post-White House. Jimin: Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. Just because when I was new to the fandom, Jimin and Tae really looked like Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise in that movie hahah! I’m not sure if he’ll like the book as much as I did though lol. V: The God of Spring by Arabella Edge. The novel is about obsession on art and love, as well as intersection of history, mythology, and personal expression which I think Tae – as Vante - will enjoy. JK: The Timekeeper by Mitch Albom. I’m hoping that the book's reflections on the importance of cherishing every moment will remind JK to take it slow.

Becoming Sheroes: Stories of Heartstrong Women" is now available on Filipina Sheroes' official website,, and e-commerce platforms Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Walmart. This is the link to the order form. 

Monday, May 6, 2024

Book Update: STARS Kinder Level Revised Edition

@titazeeh7 The new edition of our book, Start Right Reading Series Level 1, is included in the scoping session at the Philippine Book Festival today. Thank you @Lampara Books! #PBF2024 #PhBookFestival2024 ♬ For Kids - V_Production

Friday, May 3, 2024

Book Review: Man vs. Ipis


#bookreview #bookstagram #PBF2024

Man vs. Ipis is charming and irreverent. Written and created by AJ Bacar who seems to be as young as my eldest, the comic book is littered with homages to the lowly cockroach. Bacar succesfully crossed the divide between man and insect with humor and wit that, in the end, I pondered on the gap between the creepy crawlies we abhor and what makes us truly human. Man vs. Ipis is a literature for the millennials and Gen Zs but with a narrative sensibility that a Gen Xer like me would appreciate.
Look for AJ Bacar @sskaitcomics on FB, IG, X and YT.
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