Weird how one would call oneself a writer and yet still unable to capture something in words. In terms of what I need right now as a writer, I think my recent AILAP experience was perfect. Iff this is my first national writers’ workshop (and workshop in general) then it just makes sense that it became this perfect.

Let’s talk about fear. Someone once said, “Fear is the killer of the mind.” Imagine what pesticide is to pests, that is what fear is: a killer. But I think a little of it is healthy. It makes one humble, which makes one listen.

I remember feeling afraid that my roommate would be an accomplished writer who would talk about his works vis a vis asking me what I am writing about. I was afraid I have nothing to answer and I would be judged because of this. But lo and behold, the universe gave me Ryan—humble, measured in how he talks, shares only what is helpful, and ever supportive.

I was also afraid that the moderator assigned to me would lead the “pangangatay” of my work, would make me shiver by his own presence, and I would learn nothing other than how irrelevant I am as a writer. But the universe gave me my katukayo—VIncenz Serrano, this sublime (?) presence was the opposite of what I imagined. He never brushed away my questions. He answered all of them. He treated me as a colleague, which makes a lot of sense because we’re only the one’s working on walking in the Philippines. And he is one of the most intelligent and articulate human beings I’ve ever been around. I am not intimidated but intellectually stimulated and challenged. I want to take walking seriously because of him but he also reminded me that the walking identity is just one identity and I don’t have to be too attached to it.

And of course, I was afraid that I would botch my presentation and the workshop off my work will be a bloody festival. I’ve never been so wrong in my life. Panelists and fellows held my work with care but also gave me what I needed to hear honestly. I learned a lot without being hurt, without feeling like I am lesser. In fact, I felt and was treated as an equal.