Monster On Your Chest

I’ve been sitting on this for the past few weeks, just mentally outlining how to write this while not making myself look like I’m exploiting a tragedy to push my own agenda or look more uneducated than I already am.

I want to talk about depression.

Now to repeat, I do not know everything about this subject. I don’t have the answer to what exactly depression is, nor how to solve it. This is just my experience with dealing with anxiety and depression and how I describe it as being a monster sitting on my chest.

Growing up, I was an asshole. And I know people say that a lot about themselves when they were kids, but I’m not going to lie to anybody; I was an asshole. Making fun of others, getting into fights, taking advantage of others, doing stupid shit just to get my way, etc. I had a big bunch of friends. Not to say I was Mr. Popular, no. But it was big ans I had a lot.

Then, I repeated my freshman year of High School.

I wasn’t the best student then, nor am I one now. Back then, I just lazed around watching whatever and magically expecting good grades to pop up in front of me. Well, the most obvious thing to happen did happen and I flunked First Year High School. I was being delayed a year while the rest of my batch moved up to Sophomore Year. You could say this was karma coming back to bite me, and boy did it sink its teeth in. No more bragging rights, no more ego, no more horseshit. And most of all, no more friends. Just about everyone left me in the dirt save for one or two, and even they would turn out to be too busy to give me the time of day.

This was the birth of the monster. A little infant, barely noticeable but it was there.

Being back to Square 1, I couldn’t handle being humbled the way I was. So what did I do? I turned my grief into anger. Anger at the world. The world screwed me, and it owed me. I developed trust issues. I pushed everyone away, even those who just wanted to extend an arm or a hand of friendship. “I don’t need people,” I’d say, “They’ll just leave me behind the minute I stumble. They’re just like everyone else.”

That little monster? He’s grown a little, and keeps growing.

As the weeks, months, and years went by and I climbed my way through High School, I developed a small group of, who I would describe as “acquaintances”. I didn’t want to call them friends, I hated the title. Because I gave it to people who blew me off when I was at my lowest. I developed social anxiety, becoming uncomfortable around groups of people. I grew accustomed to isolating myself from people, which has led to my being an introvert. Something that I do enjoy, but wish it didn’t start from such an awful place. Forward to my first year in college. The environment had changed, but the victim mentality I had didn’t. The world still owed me, everyone is out to get me, and I’m fighting phantoms and assumptions.

This monster had bloomed. It was a full-bore abomination now. Constricting my senses, making me comfortable with living in a constant state of paranoia and bombarding sadness. A Hell of my own making.

“There are people around you who care!” I don’t see it, because this monster has tunneled my vision, making me see those who sneer at me.

“Talk to someone!” I can’t speak, because this monster has his hand around my neck, rendering me speechless.

“Listen to those who love you!” I can’t hear them. All I hear is a monster, whispering in my ear. Telling me I’m nothing special, that no one really needs me. That they’d be better off without me and that I should kill myself, then saying that no one would miss me when I’m dead.

24 years on this Earth, about a decade-plus of dealing with this monster, I’ve come to learn something about the other side of the coin. The people who call it “selfish”: They’re right.

I know it may come as a surprise after all I’ve typed on here, but it’s true. It’s a selfish and inconsiderate thing to do. Because there are people who care. Human beings aren’t mind readers, most of them can’t just take one look at a depressed person who’s hiding the fact and immediately figure out what’s wrong. They need to be clued in. I’ve had 3 people in my life commit suicide (Will not be named). Every time I think about them I think to myself, “How could I have not figured it out?”, “What could I have done to save them?”

A lot of times I hear the “selfish” argument from people who have lost family and/or friends to suicide. And it’s an argument that isn’t made from ignorance, it’s because they’re grieving. They’re grieving and mostly mad at themselves for not being able to read their deceased loved one’s mind and seeing the problem that killed them. This is why, no matter how much I want to end it all when I’m in the pit, I don’t. Because I think about my parents, my relatives. Or at most my friends, few in number as they may be.

Then I soldier on, monster and all. It’s a hard thing to live for the sake of others.

I’m not trying to invalidate the reasons a person may have for wanting the permanent solution, I’m just pointing out my mindset about the topic and that there is a point on both sides. Yeah, anxiety and depression sucks. And no one wants them nor to feel either of them. But I’ve also learned that not everyone who is on the other side of the fence and claims it as selfish is an automatic ignoramus. They’re probably dealing with their own struggle too and may need the open ear of a friend or a compassionate stranger just as much.

For a list of suicide hotlines all over the world, visit: International Suicide Hotlines

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10 Comic Books/Graphic Novels That Should Become Movies

Like all good things, the comic book hype cannot last forever. But now is as good a time as any to be a comic book nerd. As someone of such ilk, I’ve seen just about every comic book film there is, good and bad, animated and live-action. But there are still some standout graphic novels out there that haven’t been given their adaptation to the big screen or straight-to-DVD.

Today, I am going to list 10 of my personal favorites that should have their own movie adaptations, in no particular order.

#10 – Batman: White Knight (2017) by Sean Gordon Murphy

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Starting off with a story that just recently finished a month or so ago, Batman: White Knight is a story that is not part of the main DC continuity, but is am amazing read. The basic premise of this is that it tells a story of The Joker going sane, and turning Gotham City against Batman. It changes how readers view The Joker as well as Batman himself as characters and who they are in a bigger picture. Plot twists, epic moments, tragic moments, White Knight would be a hell of a film to watch, especially with Roger Craig Smith playing the voice of the Dark Knight and Troy Baker as the White.

#9 – Wytches (2014) by Scott Snyder & JOCK

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Wytches is a book about a tribe or a clan of witches that live in a forest, where people who are “pledged” to by worshippers are taken and killed by these witches in a rather horrifying way. Haunting at its least, downright terrifying at its best. A Wytches film would have anyone at the edge of their seats or hiding under a blanket.

#8 – Slots (2017) by Dan Panosian

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Stanley Dance is a bastard. A former boxer who burned just about every bridge a man could burn without completely drowning in the water below. He decides to turn his life around and help his old friends the only way he knows how: his way. Dan Panosian writes and draws a story about redemption with humor and cleverness, a little treachery and guile to make the story a whole lot more interesting, which would make Slots a pretty sweet movie for Netflix or Hulu. Stanley Dance is a bastard, and one can’t help but cheer for him every step of the way.

#7 – Unworthy Thor (2016) by Jason Aaron & Olivier Coipel

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This one would be a little tricky. The reason being you’d have to go all the way back to Marvel’s Original Sin story back in 2014 and follow the Thor line of comics up from there to Secret Wars (2015) until Unworthy Thor and somehow explain all that in a way that makes sense as a film. While I’m not particularly fond of what came prior, Unworthy Thor is a spectacular story. In a nutshell, Thor Odinson has been deemed unworthy to lift Mjolnir, his original hammer. Instead, someone else becomes worthy (no spoilers). But despite this, Odinson is informed that there is another hammer out there for him to pick up. It’s a story that gave me chills reading it because of how it writes Odinson as a force despite not being Thor anymore. Like I said, context wise it would be tricky to do as a film, but I think with the right team behind it, it would be nothing short of great.

#6 – Thor God of Thunder: God Butcher (2013) by Jason Aaron & Esad Ribic

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I put this story over Unworthy Thor because a.) It’s awesome and b.) It has something to do with the plot of the previous entry. So God Butcher is about a creature named Gorr, who dreams of a godless age. He believes that gods are arrogant, full of hubris, and aren’t deserving of the worship that they get. So what he does is gain the power of a weapon called the Necrosword and lays waste to the pantheon of gods in the Marvel Universe. And it is up to the combined might of THREE versions of Thor from 3 points of his life (young, present, and old Thor) to try to stop him. This is an epic tale by Jason Aaron who, personally, is writing some of the best Thor stories of the modern day, and to see this as a live-action film would be a sight to behold.

#5 – Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet (2016) by Ta-Nehisi Coates & Brian Stelfreeze

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I’ll admit, I’m not partial to super political stories. I mean, I enjoy them once in a while, but not as regular reading material. But A Nation Under Our Feet is a definite exception. Black Panther is losing control of his kingdom, there are those in his kingdom, and even in his inner circle who threaten to overthrow him to usher in a more democratic system. He has to find a way to settle the matters at hand without everything going to pot. I could definitely see this story as a great plot for the sequel to the first Black Panther movie and after Avengers 4, especially in an age where Black Panther beat out the Justice League in terms of movie ratings.

#4 – World War Hulk (2007) by Greg Pak & John Romita Jr.

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If the title alone doesn’t make your heartbeat quicken, then I don’t know what else to tell you. The Incredible Hulk, at his angriest, wages war on the entire marvel superhero community, and almost no one has the power to stop him. Iron Man, The X-Men, the Fantastic 4, Doctor Strange with the powers of an inter-dimensional threat, could not stop the Hulk. This story is a sequel to Planet Hulk in 2006, so to have this as a film sequel to the Planet Hulk animated film would be a definite welcome. HULK. VS. EVERYONE, people!

#3 – Old Man Logan (2008) by Mark Millar & Steve McNiven

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As much as I loved the Logan movie, I wish this was Hugh Jackman’s swan song as Wolverine because Old Man Logan is the best Wolverine story there ever was, in my opinion. So this takes place 50 years into a future where all but a few superheroes are dead. The villains have taken over, and Wolverine or Logan as he’s called, lives on a farm in a land run by the twisted Hulk family. Logan has become a pacifist but is taken along a mission with Hawkeye across this barren America. I think this would be an amazing R-rated film for platforms outside of Disney-Marvel, where we could be shown the how dark and messed up this story is.

#2 – Arkham: A Serious House On Serious Earth (1989) by Grant Morrison & Dave McKean

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I don’t even know where to begin with this story. What I will say that the art blends so well with the writing and that it is a descent into absolute madness. So the basics are that Batman is trapped in Arkham Asylum and is forced to undergo a gauntlet against his rogues’ gallery while simultaneously learning about the Asylum’s dark history. This story was actually heavy reference for the Arkham Asylum video game back in 2009. And to see this as a movie or at the very least a film done in a motion comic style, would be a rollercoaster of insanity indeed.

#1 – Batman: War On Crime (1999) by Paul Dini & Alex Ross

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As much of a die-hard Batman fan that I am, I’ll admit that the way Batman’s been depicted a lot of times is downright ridiculous. Being able to survive Darkseid’s Omega Beams in Final Crisis is an example. The infinite depths of the utility belt is another. Paul Dini & Alex Ross take all of that away. Batman: War on Crime is a film adaptation that needs to happen, with a team that vows to stay true to the essence of the story: No major villain, no high-tech gadgetry (not even the Batmobile), no wildly fantastical plot. It’s a simple yet absolutely beautiful story about how Bruce Wayne fights crime on two fronts: As himself and as Batman. I can only hope and dream that if DC ever decides to make this into a film, that I am alive for it and that it’s as beautiful as the source material is.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Batman: The Long Halloween (1996) by Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale
  • X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills (1982) by Chris Claremont & Brent Anderson
  • Batman: Hush (2002) by Jeph Loeb & Jim Lee
  • Justice League of America: League of One (2000) by Christopher Moeller
  • I Hate Fairyland (2015) by Skottie Young
  • Justice League: Identity Crisis (2004) by Brad Meltzer, Rags Morales & Michael Blair
  • Spider-Man: Back In Black (2007) by J. Michael Straczynski & Ron Garney
  • Hellblazer: City of Demons (2010) by Si Spencer & Sean Gordon Murphy
  • Batman: Noël (2011) by Lee Bermejo
  • Punisher MAX: In The Beginning (2006) by Garth Ennis & Lewis LaRosa
  • Red Hood & The Outlaws: The Dark Trinity (2017) by Scott Lobdell & Dexter Soy
  • Wonder Woman The Lies (2017) by Greg Rucka & Matt Sharp
  • The Mighty Thor: Thunder In Her Veins (2016) by Jason Aaron & Russell Dauterman
  • The Trinity Rebirth (2016) by Francis Manapul
  • Superman: Peace on Earth (1998) by Paul Dini & Alex Ross

Long May She Reign

In the middle of the madness and ballyhoo of NOLA’s wrestling weekend, I want to take the time to discuss someone who just became a new WWE champion. Someone whose career I followed dating all the way back about half a decade ago. Someone who reignited my love for professional wrestling.

I want to talk about Shayna “The Queen of Spades” Baszler.

For the uninitiated, Shayna is a former MMA fighter and current pro-wrestler from Sioux Falls, South Dakota and is one of the true pioneers of Women’s Mixed Martial Arts (WMMA). I use the term “true pioneers” to describe Shayna because she was fighting all the way back to when cage-fighting, let alone women’s cage-fighting was considered as something along the same lines of doing porn. This was a time when if someone decided to be a cage-fighter, it was probably because there was no better alternative for them.

One could say that it was a time when it was perfectly okay for a 300+ lb. monster like Bob Sapp to fight someone a third his size like Kiyoshi Tamura, but that’s still happening today (*cough* Gabi Garcia *cough*) and I’ve deviated from my point.

Anyway, I first came across Shayna Baszler when she was a part of Team Ronda Rousey on the 18th season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), the reality show of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Shayna is a Catch Wrestler. Catch Wrestling, or Catch As Catch Can (meaning ‘catch any hold you wanted or could’), is one of the oldest forms of combat. It’s lineage dating back to 648 B.C., when it was first introduced as pankration in the Greek Olympics. Unlike other forms like Greco-Roman, Catch is the first “freestyle” form, and is less rigid in their rule set. Shayna’s association with Catch has to do with her lineage of coaching under former UFC champion Josh Barnett, coach Erik Paulson, and the late, great Billy Robinson. (For more information about the sport, follow @CatchWrestling on Twitter.)

To call Baszler a wrestling aficionado would be a gross understatement. It is to be believed that Shayna is the reason why Ronda Rousey is now a WWE superstar, and is one of the reasons why the “Four Horsewomen” concept even exists.

About a decade ago, I lost my love for pro-wrestling. But Shayna brought that back through to her immense and steadfast passion for it in all its myriad forms. It’s infectious in a good way, to say the least.

Shayna Baszler is more than just a WMMA pioneer, ex-UFC fighter, and ex-MMA fighter. She’s a prime example of how a student of the sport can, with enough patience and perseverance, make it to the top. She’s someone who has experienced her share of ups and downs, triumphs and tribulations, yet stayed true to herself and stayed the course towards something she is passionate about and didn’t stop until she got to where she wants to be. And now she’s the new NXT Champion.

As a Baszler fan, from her MMA run to her Twitch streams to her indie career to her competition in the Mae Young Classic and now as NXT champ, I am nothing short of proud to be a #Shaynasexual.

Let the naysayers cry. Let the haters hate. That’s their job. Yeah, she doesn’t “run the ropes” (whatever that means). Like it or not, the War Wagon is on course, Shayna Baszler is the woman to beat, and god help anyone who tries to stop into her squared kingdom to attempt to take her crown. She’s not in the ring with you, you’re in the ring with her.

Long live the Queen. Long may she reign.

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Thought Dump: Being Angry & The Inferiority Complex

I don’t like being angry. I mean who does, right? No one likes being angry unless you’re a complete weirdo. What I mean is, I know what I’m like when I’m angry, and I don’t like me when I’m angry. Because even if I’m in the right, if I get angry I’ll end up being the asshole at the end of it.

I know me, and I know the venom I’ve spewed in bouts of rage. When I say “venom” I’m not trying to sound like some kind of hardass. It’s not fun, and I hurt people more than I intend to. I don’t know how to control it other than just biting my tongue and letting it pass over me begrudgingly as I fantasize in my head of 50 ways to kill a mofo and how to make them look like an accident.

I just don’t appreciate people who can’t commit to doing their job, especially if it’s a job that THEY committed to do in the first fucking place. If there was a valid reason, like a tragedy happened or a major illness, sure. But “I went out and got drunk with friends so I forgot” is NOT a valid reason. Get drunk with your dumb friends on your OWN time, not mine. Because that’s a surefire way to get me raging. Or in a bad enough state where I’m barely restraining myself from choking you out. Dummy.

Obviously, what I said above isn’t justification to wish death on someone. Hopefully no one thinks less of me for that.


For the longest time I’ve dealt with an inferiority complex. If the name didn’t give it away it’s basically a tic in my brain that tells me I ain’t shit because there are people better than me. And the sad thing is, that’s true. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, who in the blue hell am I?? Just some kid who’s trying to be like everyone else. Trying to be the next Bob Ross or Alex Ross.

At the same time I like what I do. Art is my thing. It’s given me people who I’d never exchange for all the money in the world. I like them, I like having them around. I’m grateful that they’re a part of me. But it’s just that some days I feel like all of this is an illusion. I’ll wake up anytime and suddenly I’m back in High School, no friends to be had, wishing I was dead and people wishing death on me because, “That’s as far as I’m going to get.”, says the tic in my head.

2017 Recap

Another year come and gone. Another lap around the sun. Usually that means festivities, fireworks, “New Year, new me” bullcrap, etc. A New Year for me means time to reflect on the 365 days that went by. And while I didn’t have a perfect year, I had a productive one, and one that forced me to stop and ponder my life. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t awful either. Thought I would go over a few ups and downs here.

This year marked the first year since I left my original college and course of Foreign Affairs and focused on art school and pursuing something dear to my heart. College is a weird topic for me because I have so many conflicting emotions about it. I wish I cared more about learning back in High School and maybe I wouldn’t have blown a lot of chances. I could have been a doctor or a lawyer. But on the other hand the position I’m in keeps me motivated. I’ve done my best work when my back is against a wall and odds are against me. So all that’s left for me to do is plant my feet and soldier on.

I fell in love this past year to a girl who in the end wasn’t going to be with me in that way. She’s a great young woman. Smart, funny, and most of all puts up with my shit. We don’t hang out with each other often but it’s a good time when we do. I cherish her and still love her. But she sees me as just a good friend (plus I think she’s into girls) and while I understand, it doesn’t make the blow any less painful. I never felt admiration for someone until now. Plenty of fish in the sea? Well, I reserve judgement until I see for myself.

Probably the highlight of 2017 (and even 2016) was meeting a group of the most wonderful people I’ve ever met. People who like the same stuff I do and aren’t complete pricks about it. People I can gel with and have a good time with who motivated me to get better in my craft. In real life I keep to myself 99% of the time, so discovering a group online that have each others’ backs as this group has mine is comforting and it’s helped me deal with a lot of personal baggage.

Lastly, I stuck to most of my resolutions I started 2017 with. Made time to go to the gym diligently and keep my weight in check, stayed motivated, and just deal with my own life first before others. I know that sounds selfish but after years of doing things to impress others I felt like it was time to focus on charting my own happiness.

All in all, not a good year but not a bad one. And I’m working to make a better performance this 2018.

 

It’s All On You, Kids.

It’s that time of the year again.

You’ve all been training for this since Day 1. All those early mornings, those sleepy hazes where you’d stumble around just to get out of the house, the unwanted workout on the grimy parking lot floors, those Hell Days, those hours cooking in the sun to get the choreography down to a T. They all come down to this.

This is why your officers yell at you, make you work, push you to your wits’ end. This is what you’ve been shaped up for. It’s been a long journey, but it’s finally here.

We’re in a pickle, us. People make their assumptions and accusations on what we do and why we do it. There are people who don’t believe that you guys can do it. Who think you stupid to even join our little group. Who think you can’t pull off the inevitable victory.

This is your time guys, and believe me I know it’s a heavy burden. We’re all relying on you. Your staff, your officers, your alumni cadets who’ve taught you everything they know, The name of De La Salle University ROTC itself rests on your shoulders. Win or go down fighting. Aim for the stars and nothing less. I’ve had the honor of watching you guys work yourselves to the bone. And believe me when I say that win or lose this weekend it has been my honor and privilege to see how you’ve all turned out.

Don’t let ROTC die, kids. Give them all a reason to keep it going. Let them see through the fruits of your labor that the Reserve Officers Training Corps is something what it is: The Ultimate Frosh Experience.

Semper Fi, Cadets and Cadettes of 247th DLSU NROTCU. It’s all on you kids.IMG_7283 IMG_7292 IMG_7376 IMG_7384 IMG_7483 IMG_7913 058 072 141 207-001 001 051 063 093  172 196 262 001 058 065 079 098 206 223 244-001 313 449  IMG_7167 IMG_7170 IMG_7289 IMG_7316 IMG_7376 162 223 242 279 285 IMG_7357 IMG_7364118532

NSTP-ROTC: A Look Back

“Do not regret what is done.” -Miyamoto Musashi

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It was kind of surreal seeing this posted around campus. I mean, it feels like it was only yesterday I got the notice that I was approved to take ROTC back in Term 2 of my first year in college. And as much as I loathed waking up at 5am every Saturday to go to school, I have to admit, ROTC grew on me.

From the first training “Hell” day, I was in the Light Duties unit due to asthma. Basically, my job was to either sit around and do menial labor for the staff, or watch the cadets and cadettes train. So I said to hell with that, and volunteered myself to bring my camera every Saturday to document the training sessions.

Fast forward to Term 3, where I truly saw the mettle of the 247th Corps be tested. In preparation for the National and Local Annual General Tactical Inspections (NAGTI & LAGTI). From sun up to sun down, I had the privilege of going around the Jose Bonifacio Naval Station Parade Grounds documenting the training. From the R&A and Model rehearsals to the Medics and SPs doing their thing, I was exposed to something I don’t think CWTS can top: The fierce bond that each member of every Unit to get their batchmate through each task at hand.

We all started out as strangers. In ROTC, we were hard-pressed to find a blockmate, let alone ANY familiar face, because most of them went to CWTS. But it really astonished me how despite this, in the end, there was a fierce bond with not just every member of each platoon, but how the whole 247th Unit just opened up to each other as a whole. We went from strangers, to friends, to family. And I am thankful that I got to witness it firsthand.

I don’t have the same experience or stories the other units have had with the other Light Duties because I mostly spent my time away taking pictures, but I just want to say thank you. Thank you to the Staff (Who may not see this.), the Officers, And every single member of the 247th DLSU NROTCU for allowing me to do what I do. I joined ROTC for one reason: To continue what I’ve been doing since CAdT back in High School, I was the Corps Photographer then and thankfully I was allowed to be Corps Photographer now. I never wanted to be the Light Duty cadet who just sat around and watched, I wanted to be one of those LD cadets to, despite the condition, made himself useful. I can’t describe how much it made documentation so much lighter whenever someone in the Corps asked for a photo, or struck a pose in the middle of rehearsal just for the sake of posterity.

I want to share something my High School commandant said during our CAdT graduation last year: “Ad Astra Per Apsera: A Rough Road Leads To The Stars. Though the road may be rough, you will never travel alone.” It doesn’t matter that we didn’t win the championship in LAGTI, what matters is we’ll never travel the rough road again.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I still have “In The Navy” stuck in my head.

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C./Pvt. ALPHONSO RAFAEL TAN ANDIN, LIGHT DUTIES