Thanks for the Nomination! ~

It was just five days since I’ve got enough courage to start a blog that will be open for every reading netizens. And now, I am nominated for Liebster award, an award to be given by my fellow bloggers. I’m giddy! I am just a ‘newborn baby’ blogger and it is really a surprise to know that my words are noticed. It is an additional bliss when I saw my name after all those bloggers that are far more experienced in blogging than me. So thanks a lot paperjasmine! ~

Please do check out her blog and the blogs she nominated here: .


The Rules:

  • Link and thank the person who nominated your blog.
  • Answer the questions they asked you.
  • Pick eleven bloggers with less than 200 followers to nominate.
  • Ask them eleven questions.
  • Let them know by commenting on one of their posts.

Here are the questions I was asked:

1. What is your favourite novel?

I have a lot of favorites actually and mostly they are written by my favorite authors,  Mitch Albom  and  Nicholas Sparks. I will name one novel for each (this is hard!), for Sparks it’s Message in a Bottle and for Albom it’s The Time Keeper.

2. Do you read poetry? If so, who is your most admired poet?

Poetry isn’t really my cup of tea but I have read some sonnets written by William Shakespeare.

3. What makes you do the thing you love the most, be it writing or anything else?

Faith and love make me do thing that I am fond of which are reading, writing and singing.

4. What song lyrics mean the most to you?

“If I have you.. I have everything. But without You.. I have nothing.” – Always Enough by Kari Jobe

5. Books or films?

Books. (Don’t judge the book by its movie. 🙂 )

6. Who is your favourite Harry Potter character? (assuming you have one…If you don’t, just your favourite fictional character, or even historical hero, etc).

Sorry but I am not really a fan. 🙂 For my fictional character,  I love Alice of Twilight Saga. She’s just some compose and demure yet she’s powerful and adorable as well.

7. What’s your favourite book cover?

That would be the cover of Have a Little Faith: a True Story.

8. Have you ever read manga? If not, will you ever?

Not yet. I think I will read the Manga version of my favorite Korean series, Endless Love Winter Sonata.

9. What is something you always take everywhere with you?

My phone because it has my music and my books.

10. What is your favourite adaptation of a book?

You mean movie adaptation right? It’s the Breaking Dawn Part 2. That is the ONLY movie than is better than the book.

11. If you could be anywhere right now, where would it be?

In Jeju Island in Korea. 🙂

My questions for you guys! (There are some cliches here. Forgive me. ~)

1. Describe yourself in ONE word.

2. When and why did you start blogging?

3. Who influenced you to read?

4. Is there a person that you look up to? Who is it and why?

5. Where’s your favorite place when you’re reading?

6. What’s the perfect pair for a book, is it coffee or tea?

7. Name three authors that you have read almost all their books? (Consider authors that you have read more than 5 works.)

8. Aside from writing and reading, name one activity that you do most of the time?

9. What’s your favorite song lyric? 

10.  If you are not you, who would you want to be? (Real person here folks!)

11. What is your life’s mantra?

And now here are the 11 awesome new bloggers that I would like to nominate. Please check them out! ~


2. My Urban Philosophy

3. Read Write Live

4. Dilettante Diaries

5. Pluma ng Encantada

6. Confronting Giants

7. myheightinbooks

8. Michael Curtis

9. The Encouragement Express

10. Blog studies

11. infinitelyinstyle

BOOK READS: A Review of ‘Where She Went’ by Gayle Forman

Genre: Young Adult Fiction Published: April 2011
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Published: April 2011

After liking If I Stay (If I Stay, #1)  a lot, I can’t wait to have my eyes on its sequel. But maybe because of too much excitement, I ended up getting frustrated while reading the first 50 or more pages of the book. Is it just me?, or sequels are really not as great as their prequels?

Where She Went (If I Stay, #2)  continues Adam and Mia’s story after a tragic accident that killed the latter’s entire family, her mom, dad, and younger brother Teddy. The novel is set three years after Mia ‘stayed’ in the physical world and chose not to die because of Adam.

Adam described his frustration and anger towards how their love has ended ‘informally’. Through his point of view, he narrated what happened before and after the accident and how he struggled to find ‘himself’ after Mia woke up and left him and their relationship hanging.

I don’t like the first half of this book. Sadly, for me, Gayle Forman lost the effortless and cohesive transition displayed in her first book. The first half of the book is quite boring and it feels like Adam’s shifting storytelling isn’t effective as Mia’s. Adam’s feeling isn’t as unlike Mia’s. Maybe because I am a girl and he’s a boy? I am not quite sure.

On the other hand, I liked how Adam explained why fame brought him towards a ‘black hole’ of incompleteness and unhappiness. He told how he, as a rock star, goes against his passion just to please his agent and his fans. He also reiterates the issue of having no privacy at the expense of being famous.

I got hooked with the book when finally, the confrontation between the two long lost lovers has finally erupted. It took awfully so many unnecessary scenes before it happened, but when it did the Forman that I know was back. The lines and arguments are realistic and can really hit or melt one’s heart.

Forman’s brevity is really commendable. She uses short but powerful lines that give so much life to her characters. And I can’t deny that this novel brought back the ‘teenage-shivers’ and I can’t help but smile and blush.

“I am scared to lose you.” – Mia to Adam
“I hate you… because you made me stay.” – Mia to Adam
“I know I needed someone to hate, and you’re the one I love the most so it fell to you.”– Mia to Adam
“You don’t share me. You own me.” – Adam to Mia

“In the calculus of feelings, you never really know how one person’s absence will affect you more than another’s.”
“There’s a world of difference between knowing something happened, even knowing why it happened, and believing it.”
“Quiting’s not hard,. Deciding to quit is hard.”
“Concert doesn’t mean like standing up like a target in front of thousands if strangers. It means coming together. It means harmony.”

The story ended as I expected but I like the last scene which highlighted and brought back where Adam and Mia started, music.

If you want to know how Adam and Mia’s story, this is a MUST read for you.

A Eulogy for the Kindest ‘Promdi’ TorMENTOR

My plan for today is to write a book review for a novel that I have recently finished.

I was about to start when I opened my Facebook just to check what’s new.

I have seen a friend who changed her display photo with our college instructor. There are comments with sad faces. I looked at it and then scrolled down.

Minutes later I received a message from Anjeline, a fourth year Journalism student and Mabuhay newspaper trainee whom I spend time during some coverages. She asked if I heard the news about our professor, and in just seconds, a sense of dread struck me.

I hurriedly check my teacher’s Facebook page and as I read the message of condolences I am caught off-guard.

My hands got cold.

My heart beats so fast.

I cannot believe what I am reading..

I just can’t.

“Ano Rose?!” (What’s up Rose?).

I never thought that that will be the last words that I will hear from him. If I knew, I would have said a lot, but because I didn’t, I just smiled.

It has been just Saturday, just almost two days ago. And now, according to his friends and colleagues, he’s dead and it is because of his heart.

Now, instead of writing a book review, I am writing a eulogy for a person I never thought I would write one this early. I may not have known him for so long because I am just one of his numerous students.

But he has indeed touched my life, especially my writing life, in a way that no one has and no one will ever will. 

Instead of stating the facts about him that everyone knows, I would like to share some personal memories that I, and my Journalism classmates, had with him.

As he is a journalist for everyone, he is an instructor for us first.

As a teacher, we like him a lot because his test papers are free. May it be a one-page exam or two to three pages, he will never get any portion of our monetary treasures.

We also love the side trips, especially during our Photo Journalism classes.

And more often than not, there are always snacks whenever we leave BSU grounds. He is really generous. 

As we are naughty students, we also love to take note how he pronounces certain words. During our PhotoJourn class, he used to say ‘blard’ (blurred) often. And in all our classes, he will say ‘bullsit!’ (bullshit) to express his anger with those crooked politicians and equally corrupt ‘haosyaows’ (hao shao) journalists.

I think he knows that we laugh because of those words, but he just ignored it. Maybe because he was also once a naughty student.

He is also a very supportive instructor.  

He willingly helped me when I can’t schedule an interview with the governor. He also said yes when I lobbied my articles in Mabuhay. Also, I will not forget how he pushed me ‘carefully’ in a lot of crowd during one of the Independence Day celebrations in Barasoain, just to have a yummy breakfast. (Food is one of the perks in Journalism that he instructed me to enjoy at all times.)

Our final and I can say best memory with him as our professor was during our Pre-Graduation Party.

Aside from the yummy lechon that he and Mam Carmela have for us, I have come to realize how much he loves us, the whole BAJ First Batch. Although we have disappointed him at times, cause he’s also strict, especially with deadlines, his actions and laughter expressed that he is proud of us. Because we are his ‘First Class.’

2 baj 4c


Sila ang mga kasapi ng ng unang batch ng BA Journalism class ng Bulacan State University na magtatapos sa Abril. “First Class” ang tawag sa kanila dahil sa sila ang unang batch na magtatapos. – Dino Balabo, March 15. 2012 (

2 baj 4d

PRE-GRADUATION PARTY.  Nagkakatuwaang nagpakuha ng larawan ang 1st Batch and BulSU-BA Journalism class sa likod ng inihandang litson sa pagsasagawa ng isang salo-salo sa Baliuag noong Marso 15. – Dino Balabo (

He also showed his ‘unspoken’ love for BAJ 4-A Batch 2012 when he went and took some photos during our graduation day.




BULSU CAL Honor Grads – Dino Balabo, April 12, 2014  (

Dinobels, (our nickname for him when he is not around), is not just an instructor for his ‘First Class’, he is indeed a ‘bully’ friend and father that we will all miss.

After graduation, I never thought that I will work for and with him because he is really a good writer and he has all the right to criticize my work.

It took me a lot of courage when I asked him if there is an available post for Part-time Writer in Mabuhay. And for a close to a year now.. I have been his colleague.

As what I have expected, he took no reservations in critiquing my work.

I think for him, an article is either good or crap. And because he is my torMENTOR, my once crap articles have gradually improve. I have become more keen to details, grammar, and ideas because of his constructive negative comments. He is indeed the torMENTOR who made me a better writer.

But what really struck me is that he believes in me.

Though he never praised me personally or never gratified me verbally, I have felt it. When he asks me to cover an important event because he’s not around, when he introduces me as a Mabuhay writer, when he said that he hopes my articles will fill more space in Mabuhay .. I know that he has believed in me.

Wherever you are Sir Dino… I am in awe of who and what you are. I am in awe of the things that you have fought for. I am in awe of how much you love your family especially Bethany. I am in awe of your passion and skills in journalism.

Hindi ko maiwasang humanga sa tanawin habang lumulubog ang araw, lalo na ang makulay na papawirin. – Dino Balabo

I would like to hate your heart because it ended your life. But, I can’t because it is the heart of a loving husband and father, a one of a kind Bulakenyo, a principled and unstoppable Journalist, a cool but strict instructor, and the Kindest ‘Promdi’ Tormentor that I will forever remember.

I hope I can be like you someday Sir. I hope I can make you proud.

BOOK READS: A Review and Personal History of ‘Rising Sun’ by Michael Crichton

Genre: Crime Thriller Published: January 27, 1992
Genre: Crime Thriller
Published: January 27, 1992

It has been six years since I have read, for the very first time, a full length novel. This happened not because I would like to do it, this happened because it is compulsory. I was in fourth year high school during that time. My English teacher, Mrs. Emilia Rivera, required each of her students to do a book report. No book report, no grade. In short, we have no choice. 

I was the English Club President back then and as our club adviser, Mam Rivera and I has kindled a bit close teacher-student relationship. (I ‘idolized’ her a lot and the fact that she took up Journalism is partly a reason why I also took up the same course.) Thus, I am a bit pressured to do best in her final straw of activities.

My classmates, eager to finish their reports as well, hurriedly went book hunting in nearby bookstores. While they scout for a book, I look for someone whom I can borrow one. (Money’s an issue back then.. Maybe still a bit until now.) Thankfully, my childhood friend and church-mate Lilet lend me a novel written by her favorite author which is Michael Crichton and it was the Rising Sun.

To tell you honestly, I cannot recall the exact details of the book. Hey, it has been more than six years already! But I remember vividly that the victim died because of sexual asphyxia. I also can recall that this novel, a murder mystery, is about how the Americans and Japanese fought for supremacy in the business world.

For a first time novel reader, Rising Sun is for me a pleasant introduction to the world of written words. With 399 pages, I cannot recall if I got bored. It is because Michael Crichton managed to write each page and chapters with a certain urgency that makes you read, read and read until it ends. Actually, this is the only book, as of now, that I have read thrice.

With a number of Crichton books on my virtual bookshelf and with numerous crime, murder and mystery books that is on my read list, Rising Sun has clearly made me fall in love with reading novels. Reading it, although at first is done unwillingly, appeared to be a decision that I would never regret.

THE ‘WRAP’: A Japanese business executive, later on, appeared to be the crime perpetrator. He then committed suicide.

PICKED WISE WORDS: The Japanese think strategically . . . Business is like warfare to them.

THE VERDICT: Highly recommended.

BOOK READS: A Review of ‘If I Stay’ by Gayle Forman


Genre: Young Adult Fiction Published: April 2009
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Published: April 2009

If I Stay by Gayle Forman has been on my bookshelf for sometime before I finally read it. I must admit that it was the movie trailer that got me interested in this book but after I have read some reviews that If I Stay has ‘The-Fault-In-Our-Stars-like’ theme it took me sometime to decide whether to read it or not. Yes, I am not a fan of Augustus and Hazel story. But after reading this book, I would like to humbly disagree with those who said that this book and The Fault share the same theme.

Mia, a 17-year old cellist, lost her entire family, her mom, dad and little brother, in a tragic car accident. Narrating the story through her point of view, Mia’s ‘soul’ tells her life and family’s story and her struggle in making an important decision, whether to live or to die. She vividly recalls memories shared with her family, her boyfriend Adam and her best friend Kim while clearly describing the events that happen around her ‘not-so-dead’ body.

As I have rated it with four stars, I would say that I really like this book. It is, for me, a page-turner as Gayle Forman managed to shift each scene from the past and the present cohesively in an effortless manner. The shift and the way the story and events unfold made me want to finish this novel in just one night, which I somehow did. I love the simple funny lines that evoke humor in a not-so-trying-hard way. I am surprised that I have occasional chuckles while I am reading this book.

Mia and the rest of the characters are also relatable not just for teens, as I am not a teen myself anymore. This novel also tackles ordinary moments in life that seems usual events but appear as the pillars of one’s life that can help decide whether to stay and continue life or go to the world of the unknown.

THE TEARJERKER MOMENT: I was put close to tears when Mia recalled how she watched when her mom gave birth to her little brother Teddy, which include her cutting Teddy’s umbilical cord. She then describes the close relationship she has with her little bro and her agony of Teddy not being able to have girlfriends, not being able to graduate and so on. I am myself the eldest among six siblings and I can relate to her fear and grief, especially when she finally learned that Teddy is dead.

People believe what they want to believe.
Women can handle the worst kind of pain.
Sometimes you make choices in life and sometimes choices make you. 

THE ‘WRAP’: The ending is for me a good cliffhanger and prelude for the next book, ‘Where She Went’. I am excited to know how will Mia be able to cope with her lost and how will it affect her dreams as a cellist and her relationship with Adam.

MY VERDICT: Highly recommended.


It has been eight years since I dreamed of having a blog. Something I can call my own. Honestly, I have fears of bashers and grammar Nazis. People who might critique my write-ups. People who might oppose my opinions. Yes, it took me those long years to have the courage to publish my thoughts, my views and my what-not’s. Now it will be all available for the viewing and reading netizens. I am now ready for either praises or rejections, for either wow! or boo!, for anything that this blogosphere has in store for A Reading Writer like me.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Now my agony has ended.