By: April Mae M. Berza
Last 2012, my American publisher Azaan Kamau emailed me about the possibility of being a guest to the Ellen Degeneres show since A. Lassner, the executive producer, invited all the members of the Letters to my Bully family to drop Ellen a line.
Unlike others who would willingly walk a tightrope or juggle ten knives while solving developmental aggression, climate change, and war on drugs simultaneously just to appear on the international TV show, I just shrugged the idea of it. Even if Ellen Degeneres would shoulder my airfare, hotel accommodation, etc. still I knew that I could not represent the Letters to my Bully family on such a taboo topic.
When I first told my parents about it, they were reluctant and worried at the same time. They have never heard the name of Ellen Degeneres. She is not a household name.
Frankly, I don’t want to cause public ignominy to those who bullied me before. I knew then that my TV appearance would shame them to the very core.
After a careful deliberation, I decided to pass this opportunity and let fate waltz with me harmoniously with hopes that I could still be a recluse since I am an introvert by heart.
Ellen would have cried gold, silver and bronze and I would fortunately sell it in a pawnshop. Just kidding! Of course, I am a bit hesitant to chronicle my unhappy teenage years. As a teenager, I have been bullied every now and then. I have often been a victim of tragedies and misadventures and losses.
The whole high school had a slogan against me. They would yell at me, “Yabang mo naman! Akala mo naman nakakatuwa ka pa!”
I know myself better. I know myself best. I know myself I am not a braggart and I am trying really hard to be humble.
Most of my classmates would tease me, everyone in class except for a few who would remain neutral about this. No one really cared for me the way I ought to be understood. Not even the teachers who should be the second parents of the students. Not even the guidance counsellor in our school.
I might not be a perfect specimen of a high school student. But they should not treat me like a sinister-looking braggart who always parade her achievements no matter how petty they might seem.
Bullying is like a black cat always following me. When I learned to pet it, only then I understood that I should not live in shadows and help raise awareness about it.
We should fight against bullying and injustices. We should stop tolerating the bullies in our lives, the detractors who ruin every single event, we should move forward and promote good discipline among the youth.
Moreover, I got happily invited to international book festivals, TV and radio shows abroad, poetry readings, etc. But I always said No.
No matter how stellar my literary career outside the country might probably seem, still, I also wanted to remain here in the Philippines and create a lasting positive impact on others through the power of good words and actions.
I got invited to attend a poetry reading at the famous Bluestockings in Manhattan, New York because I used to be a poetry contributor in Kalyani magazine’s first issue. I felt elated because they appreciated my ouvre but I must humbly decline.
Representing my country in prestigious literary events is not for me. I am not worthy to attend such literary happenings. Plus, I wanted to stay here so I can better help my countrymen with the little ways I can.
My love for poetry goes beyond words. I believe that poetry writing helps me fight all the bullies, personal demons, detractors, etc. as long as I stay with the truth and freedom.
Poetry loves me unconditionally even before I gifted my life to it. I feel empowered every time I scribble some lines. I also strengthen others by offering them a universe or even just a world away from reality or a reality away from worlds.
But things drastically changed now. If there is anything I can do to impact and influence lives may it be local or abroad, I would like to educate and inspire even just a small number of people who would like to hope for a better future.
I’d love to build libraries for the indigenous people in distant lands, teach children about loving nature and this planet, speak and write and read about how we make history out of our tomorrows.
I won’t let my bullies stop me from achieving my hopes and dreams. No one should try to ruin any of them.
Bullying should end now, not tomorrow or the day after.