Blog : writing

On keeping a notebook

I read a very inspiring article on brainpickings about Joan Didion, and her thoughts on writing and keeping notebooks. It made me remember why I write in the first place and helped me re-align my focus back to what matters most.

I miss writing! You may have noticed that there has been no entries here as of late. Well, there has always been an urge, but it takes such a long (thinking) process to write something, and before I know it, the thoughts, feelings and ideas have gone stale. There are many reasons for the pause, but writer’s block is definitely not one of them. It’s mostly due to the fact that it’s very hard for me to organize my thoughts and to present them here. I don’t really know what my website is for (If it’s a “professional” blog, then I shouldn’t be writing about feelings too much, but then again that would be boring, right? Etc. etc.) But then it’s such a shame because all of the thinking didn’t amount to anything in the end.

Anyway, I can relate so much to how Joan Didion feels about writing and keeping notebooks, here are some quotes from the article:

“Why did I write it down? In order to remember, of course, but exactly what was it I wanted to remember? How much of it actually happened? Did any of it? Why do I keep a notebook at all? It is easy to deceive oneself on all those scores. The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself. I suppose that it begins or does not begin in the cradle. Although I have felt compelled to write things down since I was five years old, I doubt that my daughter ever will, for she is a singularly blessed and accepting child, delighted with life exactly as life presents itself to her, unafraid to go to sleep and unafraid to wake up. Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss.”

“How it felt to me: that is getting closer to the truth about a notebook…
See enough and write it down, I tell myself, and then some morning when the world seems drained of wonder, some day when I am only going through the motions of doing what I am supposed to do, which is write — on that bankrupt morning I will simply open my notebook and there it will all be, a forgotten account with accumulated interest, paid passage back to the world out there…”

“Remember what it was to be me: that is always the point.”

It became clear to me again: I want to always remember what it was like to be me. Ever since I started writing, I have always written for Angel in the future. So that I will remember what it was like being who I was in certain points in time. I believe that words can keep the most potent memories alive for years. I remember spending hours trying to find the right words for intense experiences – and reading back on these memories, and old letters really brings back EVERYTHING. The smell of strong coffee in that Stockholm cafe one winter night, the way the sky looked like on that melancholy fall evening in Vienna, the gorgeous sunshine that golden afternoon in Arnhem, how intensely I felt what I was feeling.

Writing makes everything more real. Remembering is everything. Real is only what you can remember from your life, real is in the details. And we aren’t all blessed to have photographic memory, are we?

Maybe I’m just a little too hard on myself.. Just like Joan Didion, I am not one of those happy-go-lucky people who can simply live life as it is. I clutch at life with a death grip. Simply being is not good enough for me: I need living memories, boxes upon boxes of photographs, perfectly-stringed words that mirror my exact feelings, and the most perfect songs to complement them all. I always need to remember.

I feel that there is something missing in my life when I don’t write, and that void can only be filled with words and introspection.

I also have to remember that writing shouldn’t be forced, in fact it should be fun! On top of making an experience more “real”, writing should be something that I enjoy doing and not something to spend too much time thinking about..

And so I come back to writing, this website has my name on it anyway right? So it will definitely be about how it is, was and will be like to be Angel Trinidad.

Lomography // What Manila Means To Me

I’ve got an article out on Lomography’s online magazine as one of Manila’s CitySlickers! Check out the original article here, complete with photos: Manila CitySlicker Angel: What Manila Means to Me

Or read it below:

Manila CitySlicker Angel: What Manila Means to Me

The Philippines has more than 7,100 islands and countless cities and Manila is just one of them. Our CitySlickers are here to explore them with their analogue ammunition and to document their adventures through their wistful words! Here is Angel, one of Manila’s CitySlickers, and her introduction on her beloved city!


Name: Angel Trinidad
City: Marikina (Metro Manila)
Age: 26
Occupation: Cultural consultant, Scandinavia-expert!


Hi everyone! I’m Angel from Manila. Well technically, I’m from Marikina, since “Manila” is actually a giant metropolis of 10 million people divided into smaller cities. And Marikina, a quiet city in the east cradled by the mountains of Antipolo and the Marikina river, is one of them. It’s the country’s shoe capital and home to the Shoe Museum where Imelda Marcos’ infamous shoes are on display. (Want to know a secret? I tried out a pair of her Chanel’s while no one was looking, we’re the same size!)

I have been living in Europe the past three years and people often ask me what it is like living in Manila. It’s always a challenge for me to describe it, because I grew up here and consider everything normal. But through these conversations, I realized some special things about the day-to-day life in the city:

For example, we don’t have a city center. It’s a mash up of cities upon cities: you can work in Makati but live in Marikina, do your shopping in Ortigas and hang out in Cubao, etc. And because of this, it usually takes a long time to get from Point A to Point B because of the traffic and the lack of an organized public transportation system. Commuting is always like an action-adventure movie sequence, where you have to survive the rip-roaring jeepneys, rattling tricycles and jam-packed MRTs.

Another thing I realized is that you can eat anywhere in Manila because eating out is cheap! We rarely cook ourselves and almost all our social activities are centered on eating. Our Christmas celebrations are huge and families and friends meet up to eat, if nothing else. I don’t know if that’s a good thing.

For me, the most special thing about Manila is the people. Gung-ho and relaxed, creative and full of life. There’s an energy here that I haven’t really seen anywhere else, a certain pulse. Life never really becomes dull here. Maybe because it is a country constantly living on the edge, a country that is continuously plagued with typhoons, natural disasters, corruption, pollution and poverty.. I guess that makes everyone here somehow tougher and at the same time always moving, developing, striving for something better. But what is extraordinary is that Filipinos are ever so positive and happy, warm and smiling despite the circumstances. As if to say “Life is good and there is always room for you.” And that’s what makes them special.