FOR JEN, “used-to-be” is a positive phrase. She did many things in the past that all led her back to what she always loved doing: To write and share her stories.
She used to be a local news correspondent and wrote for one of the country’s major newspaper, the Philippine Star. (She also contributed to the Manila bureaus of Reuters, CBS News & Kyodo News.) She started when she was 24 years old and for 15 years, hunted stories as a living. She knows that any writer or journalist is as good as her last story. During those years, that was one of the causes of her neurosis.
The demands of single parenting forced her to put her journalism career in the back-burner. The kids are growing up and she wants to prepare for the time they are ready to expand their wings. Well, better income capacity is needed to help launch them in life, like college expenses. So she left the life of a journo and developed competency in communications.
Looking back, she acknowledges the psychic rewards of those years that she worked for the news. A journalist’s life may not be financially rewarding, however, the rich experiences helped pave the way to self-reaffirmation, “published or not, writing will always be her spiritual sanctuary.“
“I write to keep sane. It is important for my own individuation as a human being; as a wife, mother, and friend.”
Until recently, Jen writes these ‘miracles’ on old-fashioned journal notebooks. “Now I see that there’s more sense to keep up with the times. Writing my blogs in the Internet will allow me to share stories with my friends. And if I am to be ambitious (and of course, I am)- to the bigger world out there!”
Those days of single-parenting had been inspirational. She found survival in sharing poems and stories of awakenings with fellow students of life.
“They are the women who follow the smell of freshly-brewed coffee in my kitchen, who shared their last peso among one another, who laughed and cried with me while viewing the fading glow of the orange sunset or the rising warmth of the yellow full moon. These women have their own stories to tell and they add to a colorful tapestry of story-collections in my heart and soul. They make my life so enriching,” she said.
“Today, Jen finds inspiration in writing about things and occurrences that seem to be ordinary on the surface but “have funny ways of expanding into new insights and refurbished principles, that become personal aphorisms.” Her revised guide to life that keeps on evolving each day. She loves to write about her day-by-day epiphanies. According to her, “they are miracles in their own and are leading her to an entirely different view of the world.”
Although a “long-distance mother,” Jen’s personal advocacy is “to be always present” in the lives of her five grown children- Karlo, Anjelo, Ana Patricia, Denise Paulina, & Jethro.
Currently, she finds herself with no permanent address. She lives anywhere her husband’s work would take her. However, their favorite home is that place their friends call “Cafe by the Forest,” in a small picturesque village in Subic Bay, Philippines. This is where the last remaining dipterocarp forests may be found and an amazing family of bird species (thanks to Stijn De Win for this list) are their neighbors. She will always be attached to this part of the countryside where she and her children grew up.
Aside from managing a resort village in Subic Bay, this provinciana writer takes other pro bono jobs in environment advocacy. She is one of the convenors of the Broader Anti-No-to-Coal Coalion in Subic Bay, communications director of the Subic Bay Chamber for Health and Environment Conservation (CHEC), a convenor of the Pro-Commuity Initiatives of Concerned Artists in Subic and Olongapo (PICASO) and vice-chair of the Center for Philippine Biodiversity Journalism.
Wiel says to her: “If all our advocacies pay money, I have no doubt we will the the richest couple in Subic, darling!”
Erase all of the above. The shortest and proudest introduction that she’ll favor more is:
Countryside Writer is a repository of non-fiction narratives penned by Jen- a serendipitous bird-watcher; anti-coal-fired power plant biatch; Game of Thrones fan; and Countryside Writer.