Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Rain Makes The Ground Firm

"I have a question," I told Nate, "I know Brix's death was quite unexpected, but didn't you have any inkling about his illness before he committed suicide? With those symptoms, surely you had a clue or two."

He considered it for a moment.

"Well... I guess him being HIV positive crossed my mind at least once. But the thought, aside from being horrible, seemed farfetched, so I dismissed it. I told myself, 'I am negative, so how on Earth would he be positive?' I was still ignorant of his cheating habits, remember? I trusted him with all my heart. Besides, that goddamn virus was unfamiliar to me back then; I know almost nothing about it," he clarified.

"Okay... Fair enough," I said, "What happened next?"

He took a deep breath before continuing, "After discovering Brix's treachery, I began to see myself as a filthy, ragged doll. An object to be used with no need for respect. A wasted human being stripped off from his purpose in life. Someone whose expiration date was already tattooed across his face, someone without a future to look forward to... I did my best to look happy in front of my family and my friends. However, in my mind, I knew that I'd never feel normal again."

"You didn't seek help? Did you get yourself tested?" I questioned.

"Why would I when I already have limited time?" he countered, "I focused on fully submitting myself to carnal pleasures. It was actually a bit mild at first. I started by bringing various men as dates to places frequented by Brix and me. It should be a place that meant a lot to us, because I wanted to desecrate its significance and the memories it kept. Then, I would lead them to my apartment so that I could fuck them 'til they're sore—sometimes, the other way around—right in the same bed where Brix used to cheat on me... The bottoms who I topped and the tops who bottomed me were mostly men I know nothing about. Faceless strangers whose only desire was pure mindless sex. After that, I became much, much wilder. An uncontrolled beast. I tried a ton of things: shady massage parlors, random public encounters, bathhouses, outdoor sex, threesomes, orgies, BDSM... Even illegal drugs... I turned into an illogical maniac and an irresponsible bitch. That was me for almost 2 years. The amount of sex I had was too numerous that I had lost count how many the unprotected ones were."

"All of that just for revenge... Did you tell them your status?" I uttered, perplexed.

Nate seemed to figure out what was going on in my head, so he defended, "I was blinded with anger and revenge, Sep. I locked away the old Nate deep inside, the old me who's honest and uncorrupted, then I buried the key together with Brix six feet below the ground."

An awkward silence fell between us. I know I should feel sorry for my friend, but I couldn't help being judgmental. Engaging in unprotected sex while knowing you're positive is like sentencing innocent people to a slow death, I thought, spreading the deadly virus like that, it's unspeakable.

I pushed my mind to focus on understanding him instead, setting my subjective feelings aside, and asked, carefully, "Were you satisfied? After everything you've done?"

"A part of me says yes... Somehow, everything I did felt kind of liberating... It helped with the pain one way or another..." he answered slowly.

"How about the other parts? What did they say?" I probed.

Nate stared at me, unsure, and said, "One night, while I was grinding my ass on top of someone, an epiphany struck me. I don't know exactly how, but it was rather uninvited. I stopped, climbed out of the bed without a word, and went straight to the bathroom, much to my fuck buddy's dismay. For a while, he pounded continuously at the door, very worried, but I ignored him... Inside there, as I surveyed myself in front of the mirror, a part of me felt extremely exhausted. Suddenly, I became aware of how tired I was. How every muscle and bone in my body were already numb from all the nonsense I did. Another part showed me how foolish and weak I have become. How I let myself be driven by rage, by vengeance. How I profaned my body like a disposable rag. Then another said I had enough, that the time has come to end the evil streak I had begun. And one part was full of regrets. I could see all of them in front of me. All the innocent people I had involved in my madness. I could see them pointing at me, shouting obscenities, hurling insults and blame... I don't know how long exactly I was in there. When I came out, the guy was already gone, perhaps pissed off with the sudden turn of events, but I no longer cared. I lay there in my bed that night, realizations continued to float inside my head. I had thought that no matter what I do, no matter how much I abuse my body using sex, revenge was evidently futile. Brix was long gone; I can no longer inflict back the pain he had given me. It was myself I was already hurting, not him. I had beaten myself up, voluntarily taking the blame for his sins."

I remained silent, studying him closely.

"I know it took me quite a while to realize all of that," he chuckled, "But better late than never, right?"

I found myself smiling again. Nate really was something, like a complex piece of work that requires a chunk of your time to fully grasp its deep and abstract meaning. Headache-inducing, in other words, if you'd think too much about it.

"I guess..." I said, coolly, "Now that you're a changed man, how did you redeem yourself?"

"Well, it wasn't easy, you know. Forgiving, letting go... The pain still lingered inside, but I couldn't do much about it, so I decided to face once and for all the root of the problem," he explained, "I went to visit Brix's grave. For the first time. Alone."

"You never visited before?" I repeated, slightly surprised.

"Would that I could... If I went there prematurely, I would have just kicked his tombstone. Maybe spit at it too," he said, "Things I might regret later on."

I nodded.

"Sitting there beside him, I fought back the tears as they filled my eyes. I told myself beforehand that I would not cry, but I couldn't help it, so I let them fall," he shared, "I talked to him, spilling the contents of my heart and my mind. I ended up saying a lot: the bottled-up frustrations I kept for so long, the agony I experienced, the difficulties I faced and endured, the various dirty escapades I had sought; basically everything that happened to me after he left. I shouted at him, I scolded him for his screw ups, I laughed, I cried some more, and then I kept silent. I was lucky no one was there but me. You might think I'm insane if you had seen me that time... After my dramatic monologue, it occurred to me how badly I miss Brix. I missed being with him, sharing stories with him, complaining to him, asking him for advices, laughing with him, arguing with him, sleeping beside him, hugging and kissing him while saying how much I love him, pleasuring him... That moment, I wanted him back so that I could say goodbye properly. Face to face. That day, I decided to finally forgive him. And I forgave myself as well. I realized I should start the path towards healing. It's time to leave it all behind and face the bigger problem. As I left the cemetery, I felt like a ton lighter. After 2 years, I've tasted freedom once more. Freedom from all the chains that kept me tethered to him. Freedom from the intense pain. Freedom from the overwhelming regrets."

"Wow, Nate..." was all I managed to say.

"Like I said, it wasn't easy," he reminded, "A week later, I got myself tested. It's confirmed; I'm positive, and my CD4 levels were quite low already."

"Early detection is essential for someone who's infected," I supplied, "It helps them manage their disease more properly."

He nodded and said, "I began practicing safe sex and I always make sure that my partner is aware of my status. I won't mind if he backs out; I fully respect their decision. I also decided to become an advocate for HIV prevention. Doing that, I thought, might somehow make up for all the people I consciously infected. Redemption for the evil acts I committed. I'm still a volunteer until now... Anyway, after another week, I left the apartment once and for all, going back to my parents to stay with them. I don't want to be alone as much as possible. I began to spend more time with my family, as well as my friends; they had been extremely worried. I told them the truth about Brix's death and the effect it had on me. I told them my status too. They were devastated, especially my parents. I got an earful from them, believe me. But they understood and supported me nonetheless. They remind me almost every day to keep myself healthy and in shape, admonishing me whenever I fail to follow... Lastly, from time to time, I still visit Brix, to talk to him and enjoy the peace that his grave gives..."

It was quiet for several minutes as I try to absorb all of it. Nate fixed his hair, waiting for me to react.

"I never expect that there would be such a life as difficult as yours. If I were in your shoes, I would have no idea on how to continue living," I thought out loud.

"Sep..." he said softly, "Yes, there would be instances wherein love may become frustratingly confusing and life could be insanely difficult. But what you mustn't fail to do is to keep on fighting to survive; you owe it to yourself since you already made it far. The future is a mystery that you should always get excited about. You're still young. It's perfectly okay to make mistakes. Make as many as you can, if you must, and then learn from them."

"Is it really frightening, Nate? Already knowing your end?" I innocently asked.

He chuckled heartily, putting his arm around my shoulders, and said, "Sep, when things go grim, don't see it as an end. Instead, look at it as another beginning, a new chapter in life... That's what I do."

"One last question though," I said, hesitating a little.

He nodded.

I looked down and asked, "In case of a different situation, one in which you are well, do I have a chance? I mean, with you?"

He gave me warm smile before he answered, "I want to be honest with you, Geosef... If that's the case, then I would still say no. I am sorry. Believe me, I am... One day, when  you are older and much more experienced, I'm sure you'll understand why."

With that, Nate and I agreed to remain good friends.

We continued our friendship even after I stopped joining clans for good. Over the years, we made it a point to catch up every now and then. He was fond of listening to my experiences, often reminding me whenever I fail to mention the lessons I've gained from them. And I also enjoyed hearing his stories about him being a volunteer and an advocate against HIV. He would usually lecture me about safe sex and he would constantly advise me to get tested. I was glad that he's having fun in spite of the struggle he's battling within. I made sure that he can always count on me, in addition to the immense support he gets from his family and other friends. Eventually, however, his body began to weaken, so our conversations became mostly through calls and texts. I became exceedingly busy at work, so there was no time to visit him in person—something he said he perfectly understand.

Until early last year, news reached me that Nate finally succumbed to the ill effects of AIDS.

I went to his wake, and the first thing that I asked his Mom was, "Who was with him when he died? Did he suffer before his body gave up?"

To which she tearfully answered, "No, I believe Nathan died happy. We were with him on his final moments... Smiling like that before he took his last breath, like there's nothing wrong. I know he wanted to make it easier for us."

Surely, I learned a lot from Nate. Submitting yourself to pain and then surviving it, learning to forgive completely, and maintaining an unwavering hope are some of it. Hearing his mother's words, I suddenly remembered what he told me once; inspiring words that I will never ever forget.

He said, "Do not pity me, Geosef. Pity Brix instead. He died alone and broken. Isn't that the most horrible way to go? I won't let that happen to me, I tell you. Unlike him, I have the courage to steer my way back on the right course. I know things won't be easy... But I guess fighting for your life is what makes it worth living."

I felt my heavy heart go lighter, and then I smiled. Indeed, the ground becomes firm after the rain.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Debt We All Must Pay

I could see Nate was doing his best not to cry. The memory must be too painful for him.

"I was three days into my trip when I received a call. I can still remember it clearly; I was shopping for dried mangoes, for Brix 'cause that's his favorite, when my phone started ringing. The name of Brix's best friend, Ella, was flashing on the screen. When I answered it, the first thing I heard was her sobbing, which made me ask if there's anything wrong. 'Nate, where are you? Come home, please. Brix is...' she mumbled. 'What? Why? What happened to him?!' I asked, worried. And then she said, in  a cracked voice, the words I'm dreading, 'He's, he's gone... Your neighbor found him... Earlier this morning... Please Nate... Please come home...' " he recounted.

"Huh? But how?" I asked, confused.

"Self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head," he revealed.

I was taken aback; I was able to deduce Brix's problem, but I didn't expect his gruesome end.

"Yes," he said, "I was rooted on the spot, Sep, hyperventilating. I didn't know what to do. Or better yet, I felt like I was the one who died. I can't really recall much of what happened afterwards. All I remember is that my Mom brought me to a nearby clinic, telling me that I had some sort of a panic attack. Once I calmed down, I immediately booked a plane ticket. I flew back later that day and went straight to where they're holding Brix's wake."

"I'm sorry to hear that, Nate," I said.

"It was a closed casket, Sep... His parents didn't want him to be seen with an obvious wound on his forehead. They didn't let me look even though I told them I don't mind, so I just cried silently beside his coffin, my hands caressing its cold surface. I did my best to be subtle, but I noticed a handful of people staring at me. Their gazes were kind of like accusatory. Somehow, through their eyes, I could feel they're blaming me for what happened. I tried asking his family regarding the reason behind his death, but no one provided the answers I need. All of them were cold towards me, including his sister whom I was closest with. When they told me that I should surrender to them Brix's possessions that were left in our apartment, I had a hunch that that's why they even let me come. It was all too much for me, so I decided to go home," he said.

Tears were forming in his eyes now. It seemed like Nate seldom shares this story.

"I went straight to bed and just lay there, mourning for Brix. He promised me he'll be alright, but then with a gunshot, he left me behind. With just one bullet, he killed two lives: his and mine. I was so confused, Sep. I had a handful of questions running in my mind, such as 'Why did he kill himself?', 'Why did he abandon me so selfishly?', 'Where the hell did he get that gun?', and so on... I also asked myself several times what the fuck went wrong; how come we ended up that way? All night, I ignored the calls and texts of my family and friends. I wanted to be left alone in my despair. I stopped thinking and just cried my eyes out until they're sore," he lamented, "The next morning, I was crying again as I cleaned the bloodstains in our bathroom."

"My God, that's awful..." I said.

"All I wished that time was for everything to be only a very, very bad dream. It was so surreal, scrubbing his blood off from the walls and the floor... Never in my life did I imagine that I would need to do something like that. Until now, I'm not entirely sure where in the world did I get the courage," he continued

"I don't think I have the guts to do the same," I said, slightly amazed.

"Well, I hope you'd never have to," he said, smiling a little, "After that, I remembered the burning questions I had the previous night, so I decided to look for answers. I was hoping that maybe he left me a suicide note somewhere, at the least. I searched through his things: his wardrobe, his study table, his bag, his files... I opened every drawer, every pocket, every box, and every envelope I could find, but my search was unfruitful... Until I found the result of his recent medical test. I almost fainted when I saw what kind of test it is."

"He's HIV positive and his CD4 levels are already low; he's in the late stage," I finished for him.

He nodded and said, "Imagine my immense shock upon discovering that. Finally, I was able to connect the dots, but it also gave me more questions. How come Brix was HIV positive? Where did he get it? I never slept with someone else; I'm certain I remained faithful to him, so I know it didn't come from me. Did he acquire it before our relationship? Or did the bastard cheat on me? Am I infected as well? Looking at that piece of paper, I started to fear for myself, Sep. I was indeed frightened to the core."

"And that's why you can't be in a relationship..." I realized.

"Yes, especially with someone still young, like you," he confirmed.

I let out a long sigh.

"Okay... What did you do next?" I asked.

"Fortunately, it wasn't long before the additional questions were answered. You see, I never snooped into Brix's things, especially his gadgets. I had 100% trust in him, so I avoided being a nosy partner; it's not in my nature anyway. But when I saw his wallet, his laptop, and his mobile phone, I felt a tinge of suspicion. It was like my mind is bugging me to sift through them," he answered.

"And what did you find out?" I probed.

"His wallet contained several loyalty cards from various motels and spas. He also had 2 membership cards for a bathhouse and a well-known gym, which I learned later on are places teeming with cruising activities. In his laptop, I discovered that he still have an active G4M account, as well as a hidden folder containing numerous pictures and videos of naked men he had sex with—perhaps he kept them as a souvenir of his sinful encounters. Most of it were too much for me to see. His phone's inbox showed all these texts from different men. Some were thanking him for a good time, while others were asking him for a quickie or another tryst. I read in one message that he used to bring fubus in our apartment whenever I'm out-of-town. I didn't know what will I react to that, Sep. I couldn't bear the idea of him fucking another man in our own bed. The very same bed that I, his clueless and stupid partner, had also slept on for years. It was like pouring acid on an already open wound... I felt so betrayed that it led me to doubt the authenticity of everything we had, thinking our relationship was all but fake. Did he really love me? If yes, then how could he do that to me? What did I ever do to him to deserve all this shit?" he recalled.

"Questions that will never be answered..." I said.

"I'm not sure which was more painful, Sep: the love of my life abandoning me all of a sudden by committing suicide or him infecting me with an incurable disease by habitual cheating. With these in my mind, my overwhelming sorrow and anguish had turned into extreme anger and disgust. The bastard took the easy way out 'cause he's afraid of facing me and his problem, thus leaving me to deal with it on my own. In just one day, I lost two precious things: the man I deeply loved and my bright future. I badly wanted that coward back so that I could murder him myself. I wanted to storm into his wake, so that I could scream, curse, and spit at his face. I thought I would go insane from the misery, Sep. I was a mess, as well as the apartment. I tried to destroy everything I could get my hands on: our bed, his clothes, the tables, chairs, mirrors, lamps... I caused such a huge racket that I only ceased when my landlord threatened to call the police if I continue. He said that he won't leave until I call someone else to accompany me, so I asked my brother to come over. They all thought I'm close to taking my own life," he narrated.

Not being able to vent spite on someone who did you wrong and having no closure to things which matter greatly to you are just the most frustrating feelings one could ever have.

"How did you bounce back?" I wondered.

He shook his head and said, "It took me a long time to accomplish that, actually. Before that, I turned my rage towards the world. I boycotted the rest of Brix's wake, and I didn't show up at his burial. I became self-destructive. My life spiraled from wretched down further to pitiful."

To be continued...

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Writing On The Wall

Nate is one of the strongest people I know.

I met him when I was still an awkward teenager. We were clan mates back then. Even though he's 10 years my senior, we hit it off because we had a lot in common, especially when it comes to humor. Every time we hang out, we often had debates regarding controversial stuff and we would talk for hours about anything under the sun; we laughed at the most nonsensical things and we tend to joke about something over and over until we ran out of breath.

We were having so much fun, I realized one day that I'm already falling for him. By my standards, he's the perfect one: good-looking, chinito, tall, slightly chubby, decent, and smart. So I decided to confess, hoping that the feeling is mutual, only to have my heart broken into two.

"I know this might happen... I'm sorry, Geosef, but I can't reciprocate your feelings. Aside from the fact that you're too young, it's also impossible for me to be in a relationship," he said.

"Why is that?" I asked in confusion.

And that was when he opened to me his tragic past, which broke my heart further into little pieces.

Several years before I met Nate, he had a partner named Brix. They met through G4M and, like us, they were a perfect match. Having strong Spanish traits, Brix is handsome and has a well-developed body. Nate believed that he finally found his Mr. Right, so he made it official after just a couple of dates.

"I fell for him quick and hard," Nate told me, "And you really can't blame me. Brix is quite a catch. He's sweet, intelligent, and so mouthwatering to look at. Someone like him is pretty rare."

"Well, I'm not blaming you. You're the same as him," I insinuated.

He smiled at me and said, "We had an incredible relationship though. It was the best I ever had. After our first year, our relationship was already out. His family and friends loved me as much as mine loved him. On our second, we agreed to finally live together, so we rented this lovely apartment near his workplace. I'd never felt so happy in my life. We fought a lot, yes, but each argument and misunderstanding we had only made us stronger. We could rely on one another without fail for our bond was steadfast. And the sex... Oh God, the sex."

"What about it?" I asked, grinning.

"Brix may have this angelic demeanor, but he is actually an extremely horny guy. We were doing it like rabbits on drugs. He's the wildest I had, Sep. We liked to experiment a lot, so sex never got old for us," he answered.

I laughed, which surprised me a bit considering I was just rejected. I guess my feelings for Nate weren't that deep anyway.

"So... What went wrong?" I probed.

"Well, apparently, good things really do come to an end, Sep," he said.

Nate's expression suddenly became serious. It was unsettling, seeing him like that.

"5 months prior to our 4th anniversary, Brix became sickly all of a sudden. He had this fever and cough that won't go away. He often complained of tiredness even without doing anything. In a span of one month, he lost a lot of weight. He stopped going to the gym and he mostly stayed at home. He became irritable and aloof. There were nights when he sleeps on our couch, leaving me alone in the bed. I had no idea what the hell's happening with him, that's why I began asking questions. And d'you know what he told me?" he said.

I had an inkling of how the story will go, so I kept mum.

"Brix said, 'Don't worry, Ney. This is just a bad case of flu. This'll go away soon, I'm sure,' and I believed him," he continued, "However, I was still worried so I told him to go and see a doctor just to be sure. He said he will, so I pushed the matter no further. After gaining back some strength, he finally sought consultation. He told me that he underwent some tests and that he's currently waiting for the results. Days later, Brix came home from the hospital after getting his test findings checked, and he told me, 'See? I told you that was nothing serious, Ney. Stop worrying now, okay?' I wish what he said was actually true..."

I nodded in response.

Nate went on, "But then, there were no improvements in his condition; he's still weak. He no longer gets cranky, but he grew more distant. I became extremely anxious. I knew he's suffering, but I had no idea how to help him. I felt worthless. He got fired because of being AWOL for too long. He stopped going out with his friends, and even with me. He preferred the seclusion of our bedroom, where he's usually alone and quiet."

He looked down and shook his head slowly.

"And then what happened?" I pressed on.

He sighed deeply, and said, "One day, my Mom asked me to accompany her in visiting our relatives in Cebu. I was hesitant at first because I didn't want to leave Brix on his own, but he's the one who insisted. He told me, 'Ney, I'll be alright. I promise,' and then kissed me with much passion. He was warm and reassuring, so I was convinced to go. We made love that night like it is our first. The next morning, he even brought us to the airport using his car. He was smiling as I walked towards the departure gate. For a moment there, I was happy again. Everything made me feel that the Brix I know and love have returned at last."

I remained quiet, waiting for Nate to continue.

"But I was wrong. I was so stupid not to see. My happiness clouded my instinct to get suspicious. If only I have known beforehand that what was happening is already the calm before the storma storm that would destroy everything in its paththen I would have stayed with him, no second thoughts..." he said.

To be continued...

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Letter Break 11 ~ One Less Thing To Write About

Did you know that I hate writing?

For me, it has always been an irritating chore. I prefer sharing a story using my mouth rather than my hands. Like in sex.

Back when I was still a student, whenever my teacher says, "Ok, get one whole sheet of paper. May test tayo, essay," expect that my groans are one of the loudest in the room. I would rather have an oral recitation instead of that shitty excuse for a quiz. On test papers during quarterly exams, I get cranky whenever I see words such as 'explain', 'compare and contrast', 'discuss', 'expound', 'describe', and the likes. Why couldn't it be matching type, the easiest of them all?

I just find writing too tiresome; it requires so much time and effort. Aside from the complex rules of grammar, you also have to mind your tone, vocabulary, and diction. A large amount of brain cells must be exhausted in a single task alone. You are already aware about the degree of AJ's laziness, right? And if you include Joan's obsessive-compulsive behavior in the mix, then a halfhearted work just won't do.

Aside from me being a sloth, I am also left-handed. Believe me, it's twice as hard writing from left to right using the left hand, especially if the notebook you're using is a spiral-type and your armchair was designed to be used by a right-handed person. It becomes so frustrating that you'll constantly curse your brain for its right-dominance. And then there are the worse things, such as having ink stains or lead marks on the side of your palm after using a ballpoint pen or pencil, or getting your work messy when your hand slides over it. These grind my gears every time without fail.

Anyway, you might be wondering now. If that's the case, then how did I become a blogger? What caused me to become one?

In celebration of ADMV's 1st anniversary, let me share with you my humble beginnings.

It all started around May of 2013. I was at work, bored and with nothing else to do. Well, we all know that boredom could bring forth sinful things, so I craved for what I'm especially fond of: gay porn. One quick Google search, andvoila!—countless webpages appeared right in front of my eyes, all for my heart's content. After getting tired of drooling at pictures of sweaty, naked, muscular men, I switched to online LGBT articles, and lastly into erotica. I hopped through various blogs, from Manila Gay Guy to Mandaya Moore, from Discreet Manila to Ms. Chuniverse, and a handful more of others.

There was this one blog though, that made me stay. It was McVie's.

McVie's tales of bathhouse adventures greatly piqued my interest. His writing style was unpretentious and easy to read; his experiences, unique and engaging; and his views were profound as well as thought-provoking. After starting his blog on January of 2004, he had already accumulated a lot of readers, signifying that he is no ordinary blogger. It made me more curious about who he is as a homosexual, so I decided to dig deeper. His blog is made up 'seasons', divided into 5 separate blogs, and is currently on its 13th run. He calls it 'The McVie Show'. In a span of 2 1/2 months, I have read all of his post, from Season 1 up to the latest. It was no easy feat, I tell you, but it was nevertheless enjoyable.

He had influenced me with his stories. I was able to relate to him, to feel his emotions and understand the meaning behind his words. In a way, I idolized him; I had this burning desire to be like him.

And then, an epiphany presented itself.

I realized that I, too, have experiences worth sharing; stories containing important lessons which must no longer be kept hidden. I wanted to touch the lives of others just like how McVie touched mine. Call it melodramatic, but it's the truth. At first, I wasn't sure how to execute it for Literature isn't really my forte—I took Nursing, for God's sake—but I was determined to push through.

I wanted to own a blog that could offer something new and different in terms of format, if not of content. I wanted it to feature accounts of my not-so-innocent experiences in steamy and titillating ways, while keeping them relatable and inspiring at the same time. I wanted my life to be immortalized somehow. Hence, Alfabeto Della Mia Vita was born, and my life as an anonymous blogger has begun.

I consolidated 26 stories from my childhood up to the present, assigning each to a letter of the alphabet, with several more stories serving as a break between the major ones. Then, I drafted myself a strict schedule indicating the specific publish dates of each post, which I found something extremely difficult to follow considering that I'm not really a professional writer. Fortunately, with the encouragement Ace was constantly giving me, I was able to handle everything pretty well.

I envisioned ADMV to be a miniature novel, and I intended to discontinue writing after I finished the last letter. That was actually my initial plan, until I realized an important thing.

I no longer want to stop.

The truth is, I expected myself to give up halfway. I thought that it's just an obsession I should start immersing myself into, which sooner or later, I would no longer have the desire to fulfill. But I was wrong. I never thought that I would enjoy doing it. I could say that I was even quite surprised when I realized that.

I consider myself extremely lucky for my efforts were recognized early on. I was successful in catching the attention of several amazing bloggers namely FSOQNomadSethSenyor IskwaterKCAmbot, and JM. With their positive feedbacks and supportive comments, I was inspired to do more, to give my 100% in each and every entry I write. In a span of one year, I was also able to connect with so many interesting bloggers, such as GlentotCeibohMac CallisterSpaceKuya RamilGillboardSir OPSimonZaiMr. Tripster, the lovers Jjampong and VicJeki Merlin, Daniel, and Froi Dencio to name a few. I was blessed to have met in person a handful of wonderful bloggers as well, such as YccosArchievinerMamonJeiKulapitotJuneRixCher JonathanMark PatatasFiel-kunBino, and Axl. Also worthy of mention are the silent and anonymous readers who spend time every now and then in making their presence felt, such as John, Jo, Ren, and the Anon who's desperate to be raped.

If not for you guys, I won't be able to last this long. I owe you so much, the numerous pageviews and comments. I hope you were able to learn something from me as much as I learned a lot from you. I discovered a whole new incredible realm in the form of the blogosphere. Here's to another year of good and fruitful stories.

Truly, there is joy in writing.
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