Hello, Philippines! Hello, world!

Landscape photo of a small or mid-sized white concrete building where the Philippine flag is seen waving in the wind. Building is surrounded by trees.

I’m back.

It’s been years, so you’ll have to excuse this now 30-something who quit “writing publicly” because it just took too much cognitive load and energy.

The years have come and gone and come and gone again, and I’m glad that I’m still here, hopefully with a greater sense of “who the hell cares” and “why the hell not”? That’s the problem growing up a tiny bit perfectionist — I cared too much and I always found ways to disqualify myself before anyone else had the chance to (and now wonder how many windows of opportunity I’ve missed because I chose to self-preserve instead of self-forget).


For someone wrapped around my professional identity, I’ve been mindful about introducing myself without mentioning what it is I do. And this is what I’ve come up with so far:

Hi, I’m Najee:

  • My superpower is reading books in moving vehicles like it’s normal
  • Milktea (0% sugar, no pearls) is always a compulsive purchase; but my ultimate fave drink is iced water
  • I like sitting on the floor or by corners and crushing ice with my teeth

Now that that’s out of the way, can I tell you about what I do for a living anyway? Since I first wrote on this website at a minty 23, I’m happy to report that by God’s grace, I’ve been sustaining this little life by being employed as a writer — like, ‘writer’ is in my job title! <3 I’m pleased about it because I never thought I’d make it. But now, outside of my personal journaling practice, I don’t get to write for myself or for the sake of the craft.

So, after many (many!) failed attempts at getting this website up and running, I’m giving myself permission to reorient myself to this space.

What do I share?

Here, let’s start with a poem I wrote at 27.

Pilipinas Kong Mahal

Bayan, ano ang ipamamana mo sa akin?
Ang karahasan ng kasalukuyan
At ang kadiliman ng kinabukasan
Na mula pa sa kasakiman ng kahapon?
Bayan, ano ang lunas ng ating suliranin?
Mas mahigpit na pamumuno
O mas mainam na pagtuturo
O mas mapakumbaba na pagdarasal?
Mas marahas na parusa
O mas maingay na protesta
O mas malalim na respeto sa buhay?
Paano kita sasamahan sa labanan
At ipagtatanggol sa digmaan
Na hatid ng iyong sariling kamay?
Inihahandog ko ang buong puso mo
Sa masusing pag-ibig ng Panginoon,
Pilipinas kong mahal.

And in other somewhat related news, this month of May I had a beautiful time recently listening and talking to Filipino Ashoka Fellows, and felt my throat tighten as tears welled up unbidden. I’m so glad (and mad?) it’s you, Pilipinas kong mahal. It took me forever, but I’m glad to have landed where I am now, able to affirm: there is no place like home, and there’s no place I’d rather be.

I’m back.

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