Note: I'm posting my first published article on the PDI's Youngblood column. I was cleaning out my folders today when I stumbled upon this. I wrote this in 1998 when I was still with the Museo ng Maynila. And idealistic as the article may seem now, its funny how I still believe in most of the ideas I expressed here. Hope you guys enjoy it! ;-)
My best friend and I were watching Ally McBeal on television when he turned to me and said, “You know, half the reason why I’m so taken with this show is because Ally’s character reminds me of you.”
Of course, he didn’t mean that I resembled Calista Flockhart; although if anyone told me that, I’d go down on my knees and kiss their Doc Martens.
The episode we were watching was the one wherein John Cage says to Ally, “Don’t let the world win, Ally McBeal”. When the show was over, I demanded to know what my friend had meant by his earlier statement. He just smiled and asked, “Do you still believe in fairy tales?” I said I did. He started laughing and said that proved his point.
I’ve always loved books and reading. When I was a kid, I used to drive my Lolo crazy because I had about three to five books lined up for him to read to me before I went to bed. Those stories have stayed with me all these years, even though he is no longer around to read them to me.
Over the years, I have managed to broaden the scope of my literary pursuits. I’ve read almost everything: encyclopedias, newspapers, heavy tomes, classics, fiction, non-fiction, comic books, tabloids and bodice rippers. However, my all-time favorite has always been fairy tales. I’m not really sure how it started; I suppose it was in between the time Cinderella was being fitted for the glass slipper and Snow White was being carried off by Prince Charming to live happily ever after.
This is where Ally McBeal comes in; she imagines herself to be a princess in an ivory tower waiting for her very own Prince Charming to arrive. She has battles to fight and dragons to slay, but in spite of all this, she still believes that she’ll get her happy ending. My best friend says that I’ve come full circle; he says the show is a fairy tale in a modern setting.
I cannot deny that Ally’s character is easy to relate to. Most of the time it seems as if she’s marching to the beat of a different drum, yet this only serves to make her more human. She is a character who is a wacky mix of idealism and realism. It’s like she’s two different people: one who knows what has to be done, but who, in the end, ends up doing what she feels is right. Ultimately, she knows where she’s going, but she’s kind of mixed-up on how to get there. She is a person of passion and compassion. She believes in love, in friendship and in hope. She believes in justice and in the basic goodness of people.
I bet she believes fairy tales come true.
Seeing what a kooky character Ally is, and how disillusioned she gets when things don’t turn out the way she expects, makes me want to rethink my own beliefs and philosophy in life.
It’s a tough world out there; there is rampant graft and corruption in our government and there are plenty of kidnap and murder cases in the dailies. People continue to die from malnutrition and various diseases. Children ply the street selling garlands, when they ought to be in school. Drugs, gambling, booze and prostitution are widespread. The list could probably fill a whole page and more.
The thing is, we have come to accept these things as part of our daily lives. We have grown tired of trying to make a difference and fighting for what we think is right. We have grown tired of trying to make ourselves better. We have come to appoint where we don’t even care. We have forgotten the lessons that fairy tales have taught us. We have forgotten how to dream.
But I have faith.
To have faith is to believe in something that doesn’t seem possible. I have faith that there is still some good in the world, and that one day people will realize this and buck the whole corrupted system. But sometimes, I feel as if having faith is like walking in sunshine when it’s raining on everyone else.
Some of my friends find my optimism odd, but I don’t mind (I think it’s kind of kooky too). But I am firm in my belief that the sun shines after the rain, and that even the most corrupt of politicians can change.
My dad says I might have a mad boarder in my attic. My mom calls them hallucinations. My sister thinks I’m plainly crazy. And sometimes I think that maybe I am.
Then I remember what my Lolo told me when I asked him if fairy tales came true in real life. He said: “Never be afraid to dream hija. For one thing, it doesn’t cost you a cent, and for another, you never know when your dreams might come true.”
People tell me that my belief in fairy tales is just a phase and that I will outgrow it soon. But I wonder if I will ever want to; In the dog-eat-dog world of today, I feel, like Ally, that I need something to cling to, some ideal to look up to. I need to believe that one day good will triumph over evil and that justice will be meted out in the end.
I have to believe that there is a happy-ever-after to every story. The moment I don’t, I would probably wonder whether life is still worth living.
I know we’ll all find our happy endings.
First published 14 July 1998, Youngblood, Philippine Daily Inquirer
Republished in Youngblood 2.0 in 2000, by Anvil Publishing and the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Jorge V. Aruta and Ruel S. de Vera, Editors