Last month, September, I turned 27. No fireworks, no champagne fizz. My celebration of life was quiet, with friends, in a town tucked away at the foot of a mountain.
Twenty-seven. An odd number. Odd. One observation: I have come full circle when my age turned odd.
Somebody said I got some dream job.Of course, all I wanted is to write and edit (and draw, too). Like I said in a previous post, I am the editor of an american company (the so-called biggest information provider in a specific trade) , with regional base in Singapore. I edit two things: a quarterly rice science magazine and a weekly commodity trade e-publication. I accepted the countless tasks under the job description because, with my enormous self-esteem, I believed I could do anything given the program that gave me impossible sufferings, Communication Arts.
During one of the many interviews, I said ‘yes’ to the job I was to handle. Me and my big mouth.
More than technical editing, I was asked to write about commodity markets, understand the world trade and foreign currencies, fix tables of price index, re-write sentences about the bulls and bears of global economies, summarize trade reports of Latin America, U.S., Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan, India, etc. All in a 50+ page kit. That I was expected to learn the system and the trade in a couple of weeks, with no proper training whatsoever, gives me serious headache.
If there is one person who’s happy about my job, though, it’s my father.
My father was an Agriculture major. He was a farmer of rice and fruit-bearing trees. He had a poultry after he gave up his trading business. He used to sell fertilizers, insecticides, pesticides, seeds and farming tools. My childhood memories are all about hopping on sacks of fertilizers, staying in our store, watching stock deliveries, going to plantations, and eating lots of mangoes and lanzones and watermelons.
He knows the rice industry, including the serious business of smuggling. Weeks before I started my work, he discussed those things to me, slowly, like when he taught me the ABC when I was three. He did tell me that in Philippine rice trade, it’s always the farmers who are “kaawa-awa.” And he did a pretty good explanation with simple arithmetic, that’s why I got it easily. Poor farmers. No land of their own, no million peso profits. All cheap, dirty labor.
He knows the politics of rice trade. And he explained how political rice is–more than any other crop in the country, or in the world, perhaps next to oil. After that discussion, eating rice was never the same as before, especially when I started editing articles on rice science and trade. Before it gets to my plate, rice had to pass through various levels of decision-making. So the next time somebody mentions that the Philippines is an agricultural country, I’m sure I could write an entire essay to support that.
He likes the quiet life of a farmer. He believes in the power of the soil to sustain the life of the world’s population. He has no interest in any superficial endeavors other than agriculture. I think he believes that people should take agriculture seriously.
And so when I told my father about this new job I chanced upon in Singapore, boy, he was so proud and couldn’t stop talking about it. Raving must be the word. I was all shrugs and smiles, but I felt happy when he’s happy.
I never imagined myself working in the industry that literally fed me and paid for my tuition when I was a kid.
I never imagined my Comm Arts background and its culture of [excessive] criticism, which made me tough, will serve as my training for this “dream job.”
I never imagined I shall be sent back to the University of the Philippines in Laguna to help edit the magazine Rice Today which I once did an inventory on when I was a student assistant at the College of Agriculture Publications Office.
I never saw this coming: at 27 I have come full circle.
-Singapore, Oct ’11