About the author

I'm a writer. People around me say I write well, and I believe them. A part of me wants all the praise I can get. A part of me is more practical. But of course, it'd probably go. If I wasn't a good writer, I'd probably be an accountant right now. Or the guy who puts the toppings on your pizza. No, I'm writing about Glee for a living.

But it's only lately when I began buying books. It's an odd unspoken rule: you have to be well-read if you're to become a writer. You should've spent a considerable chunk of your life reading books from authors you don't know. You know, the classics, the ones that wouldn't make sense to you until you're forced to make a report about them for some class. I grew up reading newspapers, though, starting from the last page and ending on the first. In fact, I never really read the articles. The only thing I can attribute to reading newspapers at an early age is my neater-than-most-guys handwriting. But I had fun reading those insurance advertisements on the Sunday newspapers - before filling the forms out. Name: Henrik Batallones. Sex: Male.

I have six books on my little corner on the bookshelf. One's a self-help book. I wouldn't buy one, but it was a gift for me. I tried reading it, and tried my best to apply everything to my life, but I went through three years of college and I didn't really make an effort. Three of them are about politics. One was a gift from a family friend, and I tried my best to appreciate it, even if I'm no supporter of George W. Bush. The other two were about Watergate, and for that I thank the extraordinary coincidence of Frost/Nixon the film, and investigative journalism class.

And, after half a year or so, I finally finished David Sedaris' latest collection of essays. Here's where we begin. I'm a writer, and they say I'm a good writer, so daydreaming of me releasing a collection of my blog entries doesn't exactly count as wishful thinking. It's possible, if only I wasn't screwed in life, taking the right credentials by, say, writing for the school paper, or writing for reputable, pretentious publicatons. Still, in the most boring of days, I just lie on my bed, thinking of how the book would be organized. By subject? Surely. Perhaps arranged by whoever was the topic of the entry. I write a lot about girls. I'm an obsessed romantic. That's something you could sell.

At the very last page of When You Are Engulfed In Flames is a blurb on the author. I feel intimidated. I really don't have the credentials. And nobody wants to read introspective essays on the failures of romance. They'd rather read astute observations on stuff. I don't have that. Nobody likes cynical people. I'm sure people hate me for changing the radio station solely because Noynoy Aquino has a Christmas message. Nobody likes people who repeat themselves. But I said that already.

On the first pages are excerpts from reviews of the book. Friends say I'm a good writer, but nobody really goes into detail, and perhaps that's because there's no other detail, and for that, I'm screwed too. "An enjoyable read." "A substantial collection." "Delightful." "Profound." "Destined to become a classic." All I get is a confused look on someone's face. Ning and I had this conversation before. "You always presume people know what you're talking about," she said. I wanted to think my blog was the sort you'd commit to, like a fan sucked into watching Lost and figuring out every floating question. Nobody really does that.

Right after the table of contents was a dedication. Now, if I do publish a book, to who do I dedicate it to? For some reason, the authors of the books I bought don't dedicate it to their families. I guess it's a given already. Me, that sounds predictable. "I dedicate this book to my father, mother, sister and brother, and to God Almighty." It's a lazy way out. I think it's the sort of thing first-time Filipino authors do, what more with a family-based society. You dedicate your book to someone who's been beside you all the way, and not because they have to.

My book will be tentatively named Open Letters, and it will be dedicated to Icka. When the family sees this, I'm screwed.

"Babae siya?"


"Crush mo?"

Really, I'm just daydreaming, and I thought of Icka's name because we talked about Selena Gomez before I went home from work. "She doesn't have boobies," she went. "She's not flat-chested," I answered. "She seems to have healthy, average boobs," she said, to which I argued that "average" breasts is something, unlike being totally flat. It was a filthy conversation, come to think of it, but that's what you get for being in the public view.

But I won't explain that to the family. "No, friend ko siya," I'd answer, and I imagine my uncle quipping with a mix of delight and, maybe, disappointment. "Lahat ng friends mo tsiks, tapos wala kang girlfriend?" There always has to be a romantic connection, and while I had fun with that in elementary, being proud of my crushes back them while acting as if I found true love, at this point in life it seems just wrong. I don't understand why your relatives are closely interested in your love life. It's the first thing they ask during family reunions.

"May boyfriend ka na?"

"Wala po. Ayoko po ng boyfriend."

"Girlfriend, gusto mo?"

"Ayoko po magkaroon ng relationship."

"Eh ang ganda-ganda mong babae!"

"Hindi po. Pangit po ako."

And then the family would read my book - heck, it's got to happen, right? - and they'd read everything. All those essays about one college crush after another, all those names revealed, an unusually desperate side of me unveiled. The questions would come shortly afterwards. "Sino si Misha?" they'd go, and I'd explain that she's a friend in college, and that's all there is to it. Maybe I'd mention that she has a boyfriend, last time I checked, to kill the conversation, but they'd insist on the interrogation, just when I start wondering whether she changed her phone number, because it should explain for her not sending me a Christmas greeting last year. They're not really the sort of things I'd want my family to read about, but I guess that's what I get for being in the public view, at least in my daydreams. Therefore, I shall not compile my blog entries into a book.

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