Sinulat ko ang essay na ito noong 2002.
Pardon the oxymoron, but I remember back in college, when I was asked to describe myself, I said I was an uncomplicated complex. Come to think of it, now that I’m in my 40s, I still am. My joys and pains are always a tug-of-war between depth and shallowness. So are my thoughts –-they are a push-and-pull battle between the cerebral and the mundane. I’m a mass of contradictions. I could be stoic one moment, and sensitive the next time. These polarities continue to surprise my friends and even myself. Time and again, I would analyze my position in this vast continuum of self-knowledge, but I always end up frustrated, for like a restless atom, I refuse to be still. A self-professed amorphous, I am a moving, changing, and evolving creature.
My name is Ronald Gutierrez Mangubat. I was born on July 28, in a small city called Batangas, situated 80 kilometers south of Manila, the capital of the Philippines. I grew up in a middle class Catholic family where laughter and music abound. I’m the fourth among the five children of both Filipino parents. My father, who died when I was six, was an accomplished surgeon. My mother is a cosmetologist, who later reinvented herself as a businesswoman when she became a widow. Except for the painful memory of my father’s death, my childhood was a happy one. I was a self-motivated and confident kid who grew up reading books, playing games and watching television. I first learned to speak, read, and write in English before I began to master Filipino, my native language.
Given the environment on which I was raised, I could have grown up to be an outstanding student, but I guess I loathed attention and competition. All throughout my academic life, I’ve always worked for harmony. I never had enemies. Sure, I won spelling, essay, and declamation contests, but I never really felt superior to the rest. Friends told me I could be a politician, for I had this knack to please and serve people. But deep within, I knew that was not my calling.
I excelled in English, but was poor in Math. While my classmates were trying to understand the intricacies of integers and polynomials, I read Dostoevsky and Cervantes. I didn’t have any interest in sports, although I remember joining a soccer team when I was in high school. I was more fascinated with science, literature, arts and philosophy. But it was my abiding love and interest for the written and spoken word that always gave me the natural high. With certainty, I told my friends, I wanted to become a communicator.
College life at the University of the Philippines opened new vistas to my constant searching soul and probing mind. My once narrow universe widened as I mingled with people from various cultures and races. There, in the confines of books, brilliant teachers and competitive students, I experienced erudition on a high note. After five years, I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in development communication major in community broadcasting.
My first job was being the radio station supervisor of DZLB, the rural educational station of our university. For four years, I hosted nine radio programs, taught students how to announce for radio and TV, covered local national stories for broadcast, and started attending graduate classes in education.
But the call of the corporate world beckoned. In 1991, I was offered the position of media officer of the Market Information Dissemination, a project of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This paved the way for my career as a professional writer. I was asked to produce comics scripts, radio plays, feature magazine articles, and press releases for this developmental project. A few years later, the project folded up and I found myself freelancing. I attended a screenwriting workshop, which later on opened the door for me to write on a regular basis for a national daily.
For years, writing to live and living to write became my philosophy, until one day, I found myself packing my bags and heading for Taiwan to start working as Special Assistant in Communications for the Office of the Director General of the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center. It wasn’t really my cup of tea, but the lure of working in a foreign land and a more handsome paycheck convinced me to try my luck overseas.
It was during my stint abroad where I discovered another dormant passion – traveling. A year after I worked in Taiwan, I went to Malaysia, China and Australia simply to savor the sights, tastes, and sounds of those countries. There I confirmed what the sages meant when they said that traveling is a form of education. The rich experiences, which I gathered from my brief sojourns, were indeed beyond valuation.
I don’t really plan my life on a long-term basis simply because I love spontaneity. But if one were to ask what I envision myself doing five to ten years from now, I would say I’d probably be teaching, writing and traveling. This triad of passions continues to sustain me on a daily basis and I know they would be my tools in helping me achieve a happy and productive life.
I love music, food, gardening, silence, and the great outdoors. If I could only share my experiences and dreams with people who are also passionate about life and learning, I would perhaps be able to demystify my self-professed complexity and state with conviction that I have, indeed, arrived.