Back in May 2017, a journalism student interviewed me as an assignment and then made it into a very very VERY low-budget video. I didn’t know until a few months ago that he uploaded it on YouTube with the privacy settings set to the default “public”.
I’m not bothered by that because, well, I’m a semi-public figure (what with being a college professor and a published author — granted a LAZY ONE who never markets her own work, but that’s for another blog entry).
Anyways, YouTube’s native close-captioning is not always accurate, so I transcribed what got put in the video (with some minor editing for clarity). Without further ado, here’s the video and the transcription below.
(aka Prof. Rufel F. Ramos)
The first time I felt that I had to be bigger than I actually was when I was ten years old. I found I was adopted. And I found out that I was not only adopted but that it was supposed to be kept a secret. That was the first time that I felt like my world was upside down, that what I thought to be true was not. The fact that my parents wanted me to keep it secret, that told me not only that I’ve been living a lie but they still want me to continue living the lie. But that made me turn inward and that was the first time that I became silent. They always thought I was shy, but it wasn’t shyness — it was pulling in emotionally. Because up to that point, I was pretty much a bossy, outgoing, take-charge person and what was surprising about that was, up to that point, I didn’t consider myself a writer. But I — the closest thing to writing I did was writing a little diary, but I wasn’t really a writer.
What happened: I had to stay with – that I always called them Auntie and Uncle but they were just Filipino friends of mine — and I stayed with them for three days while my paperwork was being taken care of. And then afterwards I was assigned to a guardian who was also going to the Philippines at the time that I was supposed to go to the Philippines. And so my dad wrote an affidavit saying this strange man who I was supposed to call Uncle was going to be my guardian, my legal guardian, for the trip from Guam to the Philippines, to Manila. And so I was — I felt I was just passed off and passed off. And if I felt like I had abandonment issues — oh boy did I have abandonment issues.
And I remember this vividly.
I was on a plane, and that was — and I was trying very hard to hold together because I wasn’t going to cry in front of a complete stranger, and I promised my parents I was going to be a good girl and pretend as if everything was fine. I lied I said everything’s going to be fine. But I just needed to do something, and the front seat in the back pocket there was a children’ magazine called Cricket. And so I opened it up, and that was the first time I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
But Lucy Pevensie was the first character that I actually identified with because she was alone, she met this stranger, and the stranger was kind. And when she came back out, nobody would believe her. And the fact that she was able to make a friend in this foreign world, a world that she didn’t even knew existed, taught me how to survive this new reality I was living, that I was adopted. That was my first inkling that stories were powerful. That set me off for the rest my life.
That moment CS Lewis saved my life because, before that I just wanted to die. Ten years old, and I felt like I didn’t know who I was. And I was the kid who liked being real, and so like I didn’t exist, and I didn’t know who I was. But in reading Lucy Pevensie’s experience, I recognized that what I was — was a reader, and shortly after that when I realized what I was — was a writer.
As I got older, I picked up Letters to Children by CS Lewis, a compilation of letters that CS Lewis wrote to kids. I realized that this guy died in 1963. He actually died the same day that JFK got assassinated. And what got me was, here I am, I’m still looking at his letters, and he’s dead, and yet I still think of him as alive because his words are alive. It’s the legacy, because a person — a writer — is always, will always be alive as long as somebody is reading their words. That appeals to be that, when I’m gone, I don’t have to depend upon the whole “If you don’t tell your story, who will?” There’s a level of immortality there. As long as there’s the story down there, as long as somebody finds your story, you are alive in their mind. Every single writer who takes it seriously discovers that on their own. They realize that that’s what keeps them writing. It isn’t for money. It isn’t for fame. It isn’t for bragging rights. It’s reaching the readers who haven’t been born yet but needs your story.