Five years in the making…

Five years ago, I tweeted this:

I don’t remember anymore how exactly I came up with the plunny, although it’s possible that it’s mostly because I had Daniel Henney in mind as the love interest. He loves dogs, and so do I…and I’d never really written a story yet where the characters had pets, so I wanted to give it a try.

I’ve kept the idea for the story in my growing list of plunnies to explore, but only got around to writing it until sometime in late 2021, when I decided to put together an anthology of short stories that eventually became What If We Fall In Love? I shelved this story and instead included my NomCom submission, Your Heart, To Go, to complete the lineup. I thought it would take a while before I got to revisit the manuscript, but an opportunity to finish it came when submissions for Pawfect For You (then simply called Tropetastic 3) came along.

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[ Cover Reveal ] What If We Fall In Love?

I love cover reveals. I do. Especially when I know the author doing it and I trust them to “deliver the goods,” so to speak. And also when I’m the one doing the reveal.

In the #romanceclass community, we have a project called #romanceclasscovers where we (or actually, our resident photographer, Chi Yu Rodriguez) takes photos of Filipino models (sometimes they’re actors, sometimes they’re friends of friends!) and we put these photos on the covers of our books. It doesn’t sound quite revolutionary when you think about it, but it’s a statement. It says, loudly, that we want to see Filipinos on the covers of our books. We want to see not just faces, but faces with real emotion. Poses that entice and tickle the imagination. The whole she-bang.

It’s a representation thing. It’s an aesthetic thing. It’s a choice.

My choice for my upcoming book, What If We Fall In Love?, is a playful, happy photo of Gab Pangilinan and Gio Gahol taken way back in 2017, when we still did regular studio shoots for #romanceclass covers. It’s been hidden away for so long, I’ve just being waiting and waiting and waiting to see where I could use it, and the opportunity presented itself after deciding on releasing a romance anthology.

And here it is—the cover of What If We Fall In Love?:

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Laban lang, kapit lang.

It’s been another long while since I last updated this blog/website. Honestly, I really thought I’d be able to keep updating regularly this year, but after the 9th of May, everything just seemed so bleak for me and I barely had the energy to do anything. (And I know I’m not the only one, nor am I being dramatic.)

It’s the 21st of August now as I write this. Any Filipino who has lived as long as I have will know that on this day in 1983, former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino was assassinated as soon as he landed at the Manila International Airport (now called Ninoy Aquino International Airport, but I don’t know for how long). Any Filipino who has been in the workforce here in the Philippines would also be aware of this, because it’s been declared a special non-working holiday since 2004. Again, I’m not sure how long this will be in effect, considering the intentions of the current administration.

I guess it’s not a coincidence that I felt like posting something here today, or that I remembered what day it is. (Honestly, the days blur into each other so unceremoniously nowadays, it’s difficult to keep track.) Recalling the things Ninoy Aquino stood for in our history made me look back at the things I’ve done in the past few months, and if I’ve even done enough. The answer, clearly, is no. And no, I’m not just talking about marching down the streets and demanding good governance and justice. I’m talking about having the strength every day to work toward a goal and pushing through with it despite the odds.

Now, I’m not trying to preach here. And I’m not saying I already have that kind of strength. Because honestly? It’s kind of crippling just watching things unfold. But I’m also beginning to get tired of this feeling of dread and helplessness, and I know that if I don’t do anything about it, I will be stuck in this dark, depressing state for a long time. So here’s what I’m going to try to do:

I’m going to be grateful every day for the small things. Like the perfect cup of coffee, the shiny little object I bought from Shopee, or that feeling of kilig from that one KDrama I’m watching.

I’m going to start reading again. And writing again. And getting my ass out of the couch to exercise again.

I’m going to cherish the things that make me happy and let go of the things that don’t.

I’m going to revisit my goals for the year and start working my way toward them.

And finally…

I’m going to remain kind to myself if I don’t meet my goals in the amount of time I usually do.

Seem easy? I can only wish. I’ll try my best, so wish me luck! And if you’re working your way through a list like mine, I’m wishing you the best of luck too. We can do this, okay? The people and things we love are worth fighting for, so let’s do this. Laban lang. Kapit lang.

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#KiligCafe Chats: Book & Coffee Talk with Brij, Chi, and Jay

Last Saturday, Brij, Chi, Jay, and I did a livestream together on the #romanceclass channel. If you’ve been following our activities since the pandemic started, you’d know that we started doing livestreams like this to be able to still get together as a community despite being in community quarantine. We did that for two years, and it was just a refreshing, chaotic experience to be in the room with three other people during this stream!

Our theme for the night was brewing coffee is pretty much like brewing book ideas, and we had a lot of fun chatting about our experiences doing research for the books we wrote, how we handle manuscripts when the ideas are “underextracted” or “overextracted,” and of course, making and tasting coffee!

Watch the stream below:

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When coffee is life

I think I was in junior year in high school when I started drinking coffee—the instant, powdered ones (Nescafe + Coffeemate + brown sugar…you know it), not the fancy, overpriced ones (yet). That was the year when I juggled academics, rehearsing for a dance competition, and writing a play for the drama club, and 24 hours didn’t seem like they were enough.

Coffee has been part of my daily life since then that something feels off with my universe if I spend an entire day without it. There’s been a time I wasn’t allowed to touch coffee for a month because of GERD, but that’s another story. Fast forward to x years later, and this coffee lover is trying to learn the basics.

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Strong female leads? That’s my thing.

Do you know what I like about my favorite #romanceclass books? Apart from the fact that they have the swooniest (is that even a word) love interests, they also celebrate intelligent, beautiful, empowered women. From college students fighting for The Only Grant to musicians trying to find their voice to mothers juggling career, parenthood, and romance—we’ve seen it all, and not just in fiction! For every amazing fictional main character, there’s an amazing real-life woman living their best life, and I salute all of them today (Happy International Women’s Day!) and every day. You are all awesome.

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Just add one year…

Let me start this post by saying: It’s my birthday on Monday, just in case you need a reason to have cake. I’ve finally reached the (physical) age where I have to watch my sugar intake, so I can’t really have any right now. It would be nice if you could think of me when you have cake, though. So, yeah. ^_^;

Celebrations have been weird since 2020. I’m not the type to hold or attend parties a lot, but I do miss celebrating milestones with friends and family without having to worry if someone could get sick because we’re all in one room together, talking and laughing and singing. Last year, I celebrated my birthday with a livestream where me and some #romanceclass friends played pictionary and had party food. It was a whole lot of chaos and fun.

This year, I didn’t have the motivation to plan anything. >_<;; It’s a little sad, but true. I am very grateful I’m still here, though, but maybe I’ll just add one year to my age on that day and proceed as usual. (I’m sure I’ll have something special for lunch with my family, but apart from that it’ll be just like any other day.)

I am, however, giving something away, because I’d like to spread a little cheer and kilig. And hope.

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Tara’s Three Things, Vol. 2

It’s September! My gosh, how is it possible for time to fly and feel so painfully slow at the same time? Soon (if not already) we’ll be hearing Christmas songs being played left and right, and yet a bunch of us are still stuck at home, trying our best not to get sick.

Quick health update!

I got my second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine mid-August, and my parents had theirs the week after. My sister also got her first dose last month (she got Pfizer), and she’ll be fully vaccinated come next week. I hope you also have gotten vaccinated, or will be soon—an extra layer of protection wouldn’t hurt.

Anyway, I shared three things I was into last time, and I bring you three more things this month.

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