In May 2000, I left my nine-to-five cushiony life as a project specialist in the legal field. I intentionally retired before I was officially qualified to cash in on my retirement benefits. Several of my financially savvy friends bemoaned my decision but understood my compelling reason.
Those were exciting but very lean years: lean, as in poverty-level existence, lifestyle cutbacks and severe austerity planning. But true to the saying that every hair on my head is counted and that even the lilies in the field grow abundantly, I too thrived. During those lean years, I learned that my first submission to the Palanca Competition garnered a Full Length Play award. In late autumn, Geejay Arriola, Nadine Sarreal, Seb Koh and I prepared to launch Our Own Voice. The following year, I won a nomination for my first short film at a local Film Festival. In subsequent years, every nit-picking "etcetera" happened.
At the end of 2007 when most of my former colleagues were ready to retire, I reentered the work force. It was a contrary Grefalda move on my part because comfort level, after all, is high on anyone's priority list and this would definitely crimp my morning wake-up call of 10am. And what about all that free luxurious time? Could I give that up?
I did. Today, eight months into 2008, I have been handing out a calling card that I have a difficult time taking seriously. It reads: Librarian - Curator / Library of Congress / Asian Division / Asian Pacific American Collection.
The above is my renewed reason for being. Finding myself each morning in the most prestigious institution in the world and assisted by archival and literature collection expertise in the field, I am awed and humbled to be accorded such a succinct opportunity to serve. I am charged with the development and direction of the Asian Pacific American Collection. In my current work milieu, the Filipino-American and Filipino Diaspora collections are not far from my mind. Nor is the Philippine Collection. Nor the Carlos Bulosan Archive, which is my responsibility too.
All of the above partially explain why in 2008, Our Own Voice might be issues short of being a "quarterly." The other part is that Geejay Arriola, the main player in our team is looking forward to a less stressful life: retirement. Geejay is willing to mentor a web designer to take over future issues and will not abandon this "baby."
It is possible to continue with this adventure. It is possible that this too may end. Each issue we bring out is beneficence personified. With team creativity and passionate commitment sustaining us, Our Own Voice has proven to be truly an enterprise not enabled by funding of the usual kind, but uniquely as a lily in the field, dear reader, under your watchful eyes.