For the blog action day to save our seas
I’m a writer by trade and vocation, a person who takes pride in bringing whole sensations to life through words alone. Many times I’ve been complimented on my skill of bringing forward fantastical sights and feelings through a turn of phrase or rhyme. Much of my writing has definitely been molded by various literary greats and idols, and even by my background in psychology. However when it comes to finding the fantastical and beautiful, I can say I’ve learned from the very best—the sea itself, in particular my memories of it.
Like many other children who’ve gone to the beach, I was always fascinated by the surf, by the sand, by seashells and starfish. I was eight years old when I learned how to snorkel (skin-diving to some people). The very experience of being in such close contact with the sea and other marine creatures has marked my imagination forever. When I think of colors, I do not immediately think of rainbows. Instead what comes to mind is the shimmering brilliance of a school of reef fish swimming close to my fingertips, the iridescence and matte shades of different corals, and the neon markings on a pair of crabs sitting on the rocks . No painting or photograph I’ve seen since has ever come close to capturing the purity of those hues around me. I used to joke that God must have created two palettes in the world: one for the land, and one for the underwater world. Nowadays, I feel there is more than just a little truth to such a notion.
The sea, as far as my life as a writer is concerned, has fueled more than my descriptive skills. It may sound like a psychology cliche to associate the sea with emotions, but my personal glossary of feelings is inextricably linked to the sea and its creatures. Serenity is sitting on a kayak in the mangroves, watching pure white egrets flying from the tops of the trees. Surprise is coming face to face with, of all things, an alimasag as wide as my hands placed side by side, with a face like a painted mask. Majesty is a pawikan swimming placidly through a reef. Nothing spells ‘fright’ and ‘thrill’ better than seeing the eye of a sea snake meandering right by me in shallow water. The very picture of anticipation in my mind is the very last sunset of the year 1999, golden light streaming through the mangroves while little fish bump my fingers and toes.
I might have gone on writing anyway even without these images and other memories of the sea. Still, I feel that my prose as well as my intellectual curiosity are so much richer thanks to the sea. I do not mean that the sea is the only inspiration for my writing, and nor would I make it mandatory for every fellow writer to see the ocean. However I am of the belief that this generation and the ones to follow would have much to learn from seeing this beauty firsthand, instead of in videos and exhibits only.
There is more than a simply aesthetic sense to experiencing the ocean: there are emotions as I have said, as well as an appreciation of the intricacies of life in it. To experience the sea is to acknowledge the limitations of one’s human form and to acknowledge that we are not the only creatures who have mastery of a part of the planet. To spend time underwater gawking at sea creatures is a lesson in diversity itself. The lessons go on and on.
It has been fourteen years since I began to see for myself the beauty of the sea. I can only hope that through the efforts of my fellow bloggers and other people dedicated to saving the seas, that these fourteen years won’t merely be ‘fourteen years of remembering the sea’. I have learned and written much, but nothing in my pen can possibly tell my future children everything that I’ve seen and known. They would have to experience it for themselves. And God willing, please let there be a clean ocean for them to make their own memories to inpsire them as well.