Writing is my default mode of self-expression. As an only child, I entertained myself growing up by reading and writing stories. It’s the only way I can “talk to myself” without appearing crazy. I have been a published writer since I was seven but I started getting paid for my writing at 17. I worked as a daily columnist and Lifestyle editor for Mindanao Daily Monitor while I was still in college pursuing an Economics degree. When Monitor closed, I was offered a new home at Ang Peryodiko Dabaw, which later became known as Sun.Star Davao, doing the same thing daily. In 1991, I traded writing in my own voice for writing speeches, “praise” releases, memos, executive orders, pieces of legislation, and briefing papers for some powerful politicians and government officials when I got dragged into a career in politics and governance that spanned 20 years. I rationalized that doing that was my way of changing the system from within and influencing the course of history for my country. When I felt that I was starting to lose my own voice in the process of too much rationalizing, I returned to writing a weekly Lifestyle column for Mindanao Times, Davao City’s oldest newspaper, as a form of therapy to balance out my toxic political career. I retired from full-time government work in 2010, when I turned 40 and when life supposedly begins. I am rediscovering my voice as I am learning to embrace my authentic self.