PART I – Introduction… to me
It was a typical midnight for me, alternating between working on my translations… while also nosing around Facebook and playing online games… just doing my stuff…
(Ok, fine, to be perfectly honest, I was also pigging out with my midnight snack, stuffing my face with a Lindt Milk Chocolate Bar with almonds…)
All of a sudden, a message came in.
May 14, 12:55 a.m.
From: Margarita Demetria Cojuangco
“Hi : ) Simona gave me your number. I wanted to know kung available ka to meet? I would like to show you my project and need your help! Thank youuuuu Mai : )”
In my chocolate-muddled mind, I was like “Who you?"
(I’m sorry, ate Mai, if you’re reading this, please understand, I’m actually a hermit… and NOT the most updated person in the world.)
Cojuangco. That rang a bell.
Idol Mikee!!! OH-EM-GEEEE----er, wait… No….it says Margarita.
Ano nga ba full name ni Idol Mikee?
I could’ve just google-d it but I was feeling lazy and I was eating “the ambrosia”. There is a faster way to get this kind of info and all I have to do is ask.
“Le Moi” grabbed my phone and sent a text message to the-most-informed-about-politics-mongrel I know.
Le TRIPSTER GUY.
*frantic fanatic applause*
Le Moi typed: “A certain Margarita Demetria Cojuangco just sent me a message to meet. Who that?”
Lightning-flash reply of the salivating-when-politics-was-mentioned-mongrel.
“THE HEIRESS Margarita Demetria Cojuangco?!”
Then, of course, that awesome freakazoid proceeded in shoving up my unsuspecting a-tushy EVERYTHING he could remember about her and her family (despite being at work, mind you, graveyard shift).
Le Moi’s first thought while my brain was processing all the new info: Crap. What could she want from me?!
Panic began to fill me up when it all began to sink in.
No, no, no! I have just been traumatized by a certain someone famous from the Philippines, acting all important and superstar. Who, by the way, just had to have a beauty sleep while we were all slaving around to prepare her stuff for the presentation.
I’m still recovering.
I certainly don’t need another prima donna right now.
GIVE ME A BREAK!!!
So I chose the cowardly path that night and slept on it. I didn’t know what to say to her. It was late anyway. And I’m not even sure I wanted to be involved.
The next day I talked to my friend, Simona, about her.
Le Moi (warming up): “So, this Margarita Cojuangco… is she nice?”
Simona: “Oh, Mai-Mai! So she has contacted you? Yes, she is very nice. Why?”
Le Moi (Hmmmm…): “Should I help her?”
Simona: “Well, I reckon you would be interested in her project.”
Le Moi (a bit suspicious): “What’s it about?”
Simona: “It is a mobile app, I think.”
Le Moi (sarcastic): “A mobile app? Have you NOT seen my Jurassic-age mobile phone?”
(Nokia something, black and white screen, cost me 20 bucks, and the only option is call and send message. Even if you intentionally throw it against the wall, it still works. It is a f***ing weapon!)
Simona: “Well, at least hear her out. Let her explain to you first what it is about. Then you decide.”
Wow, I actually have a choice. I can even avoid the extra unpaid/unacknowledged work, headache, muscle ache, toothache, certain stress, hidden eye-rolling and forced smile this time. HALLELUJAH!!!
May 14, 3:46 p.m.
From: Neneng Mahalimuyak (I know, totally inappropriate username on Facebook. It is a private joke, people! I’m not trying to be harassed by pedophiles. I have other fetishes, LMAO!!! Anyway….)
Le Moi: “Hello! ^_^ Sorry I wasn't able to reply sooner, I have problems with the internet connection at home (okay, little white lie, I didn’t want to appear rude that I waited until the next day to reply) and I was at work this morning (this one is absolutely true, though)…”
So we set the appointment and as the days passed, the more nervous I got.
(Partly because I made a huge mistake of finally google-ing her name and was thoroughly intimidated by the things I saw, like magazines featuring her with an enormous title… LA VITA E' BELLA …)
Everyone seemed to know her name.
Even my parents know who she is and my mom doesn’t even know how to switch on a computer.
I felt like I spent my whole life living in a cave. I’m as updated as my Jurassic era phone.
My only consolation was Simona’s assurance that the lady is not a snob. Also, even Mai-Mai’s message was casual, nice and friendly enough. She even added a smiley face.
I realize now how much difference that small thing made. Without that smiley icon, I probably would be too intimidated to even consider meeting her.
Believe it or not, I'm not the most confident person out there. I'm curious enough though.
I keep telling myself I was being stupid, worrying so much. Even my husband said it was silly.
Like I could believe it, at that time.
PART 2 - And then, it was time for THE HEIRESS… to meet THE HAIRY MESS.
Day of the appointment.
I had the urge to visit the bathroom every five minutes. I actually ironed my favorite dress and I never ironed, unless it’s for a special occasion. Like meeting the Queen (the other queen, Freddie Mercury, in my dreams). I think the last time I really ironed my dress was on our wedding day, back in summer 2009.
I arrived at the meeting place, the Consulate, feeling dreadful and awfully cold.
It certainly wasn’t the weather’s fault, if you know what I mean. I felt cold but I was sweating bullets. I tried to distract myself by helping out my fellow pinoys with the documents they needed there at the Consulate. Whatever I could do to stop myself from going to the bathroom like I had diarrhea or UTI.
The appointment was at 10:30 a.m.. I arrived earlier to avoid looking like a sweaty lechon.
Ping! New message:
May 18, 10:42am
Margarita Demetria Cojuangco
Hello! Nandito na ako...
F*CK! Here we go.
I took a deep breath and as per habit of working in some sort of public service, I plastered a big welcoming smile on my face. I’m not even sure it’s the right kind of smile but I had to use whatever I have, otherwise I’d look like someone who was about to be executed.
Simona called me to the meeting room and I trailed behind, praying my face didn’t look like a kabuki mask, pale from the absence of blood flow.
Dang it. Only first meeting and I’m already soiling my pants (figure of speech).
In my head I kept chanting. “I have a choice. Last na ‘to. If I don’t like her, I don’t have to help her.”
The Heiress smiled radiantly as soon as she saw me: “Hi!!!”
I wanted to step back and shield my eyes from her shine, in a very japanese animé fashion.
F*ck! She’s even prettier in person. And tall too! (Argh! There is no justice in life).
At that moment, I know it was absurd but I was wishing beauty and height were actually contagious. Yes, my thoughts have the worst timing ever. Senseless too… with freaky commentaries and retard subtitles… sometimes even commercial...
Wow, I just went off topic again. I seriously think I have A.D.D. (attention deficit disorder ) or something.
Then I noticed.
Double f*ck! I’m overdressed. Gaahh.. What the hell was I thinking?! Now the dress that was supposed to give me a good boost of confidence made me feel like a freaky cow in a ballerina dress. So wrong.
Simona closed the door to give us some privacy.
I thought Mai-Mai was going to sit across the table, but she didn’t.
She placed her chair right next to me.
Oookay. She’s cool. Now focus!!!
Manilenya accent. Hmmm… not really a fan of that.
Hep! It is NOT her fault. And there’s nothing wrong with it.
(It shouldn’t even be an issue! I was just traumatized by that tourist family with the same accent, who wanted special treatment because they are related to some hot shot democrat and kept shoving nepotism up my flat nose. They scarred me for life. They cured me of the desire to go back to the Philippines one day)
Trying to breathe as normally as possible, I was finally able to focus. She was already talking about her project.
“Sympies”. A social media app with a purpose.
She showed me the app, with its delicate, original and personal design.
It was classy, relaxing to the eye and the personal touch was evident from the moment you open the app.
That was really what had caught my attention.
The personal touch.
Sympies is something she and her friend (Ms Marga) created and want to share to others, but it is not just that.
Mai-Mai talked with enthusiasm (even if she was probably tired of replaying it over and over again), with passion so involved it can’t be just because she was trying to promote it or because it was her pet project.
She was giving out something, yes. She wanted to make a difference, do something and help others, but the zeal in her voice tells me that it was also for herself.
As if she really needed “Sympies” too.
She spoke about the difficulties and confusion of pregnancy. The sacrifices of motherhood.
The nostalgia and challenges of living in a foreign country, being far away from her old family and creating a new one.
The sorrow of being far from home.
She talked about that feeling of crumbling… of falling to pieces.
I was in the presence of a person with a “weathered” heart, just like everyone else.
Somehow, in my admittedly prejudiced and rather “abused” mind, I have catalogued people in the richer circle of society as “the lucky ones” who have lesser problems and who, to be honest, sometimes act like happiness is their birthright. I was expecting a person who didn’t really need a hand because she already has everything.
That’s what had intimidated me so much.
I’m a simple person. I just get on with life, either through sheer dumb luck or heaven knows what. Quoting Siri (iphone assistant) “I know I’m good, but not great.”
I probably am not good enough to help someone like her. Whatever help I could offer may not be enough. And I have read somewhere that her standards are high and she’s a perfectionist. Perfection is an alien term to me.
That was the real reason why I was so reluctant to meet her. Aside from the fact that I was thinking it would be just a waste of time, just like with the others I met who ended up as disappointments, what if this time it is I who disappoint her?
She described Sympies as “social media app, with a purpose”.
From what I have just seen and heard, I would describe it as “Sympies, social media app, with a SOUL”.
You know that Japanese legend about dolls that were loved and taken care of really well by their owners?
How they gain memories and souls?
Creepy, I know, right? But this is nothing scary like that.
I say Sympies has gained a soul… because for every personal design… every single drawing of the so-called “i-motions”, every special thought incorporated in the details of how the app works… everything was something personally acknowledged, felt or experienced.
The creators of Sympies have somehow put a little bit of themselves, a part of who they are, a tiny portion of their soul…. in the Sympies app.
And Mai-Mai was right when she stated that sometimes a mere “Like” button is not enough.
There are times when you need to be told that everything will be alright.
There are also instances when you need to see for yourself that there are other people who undergo the same things, the same difficulties, and that Fate is not picking on you in particular. I like how clicking the “i-motion” button shows other people who are feeling more or less the same way.
Pity party, bring it on! Harharhar!
Kidding aside, though, it is kind of therapeutic, I guess, to see how those other people get on the battlefield of life, braving the storm and surviving it. It creates an odd sort of camaraderie…
The “If-I-made-it-you-can-too!” club.
Then there are those rare moments as well, when you actually don’t need to share your thoughts to others but only need to write it down, get the weight of those negative emotions off your chest and then throw it away… OR BURN IT. (Which is a very cool option of the Sympies app, by the way. I love that!)
Oh believe me, I am soooo abusing the “burn” option. I never knew I had pyromaniac tendencies until I tried that particular one…. (LOL!)
One more thing is the voice record option, where you can scream or curse or just plain blabber away whatever’s bothering you… you can even camouflage your voice. AWESOME!
Personally, I think that option is cool when I’m lazy and don’t want to write at all. I’ll just go… “Dear Diary… I had a huge fight with Siri today (iphone’s artificial personal assistant a.k.a. artificial slave). She couldn’t understand what I wanted her to do yet it was so simple and I already repeated it three times. Why is she so stupid?!”
(LMAO! Then awkward laughter fading away….)
PART 3 – WHY WOULD I USE THE SYMPIES SOCIAL MEDIA APP?
First of all, it’s all-pinoy made. I’m proud of that. And I don’t usually do the Proud2bePinoy thing.
Secondly, it is a wonderful app. A feel good app. It has features like Facebook or Instagram or Twitter, but with less clutter, and with a design that tends to make you feel serene… (evident Psychology-degree background *grin*) Also, it's kind of like writing in a diary.
Unlike other apps that focus more on people being seen or heard or whatever voyeuristic tendencies this generation has, the Sympies app’s center of attention is “feelings”.
“How are you feeling?” it asks.
See, it is not just an app. It is also like having my own personal shrink trapped inside my phone. *evil grin*
Third, Facebook has become too much.
Too much clutter, too much advertising, too much nonsense I would rather not see.
People fight, people insult and get insulted for the weirdest reason, people hate and it is not pretty.
I am getting tired of reporting hate speech, racism and shared porn, thank you very much.
Instagram is for when I want to use the bloody good filters. Other than that, I can live without it.
Twitter? I don’t even have one. I don’t see the point. Call me cave woman, but I really don't.
What other social media apps are there? I repeat… I’m as updated as my Jurassic era phone.
I remember Mai-Mai showing me videos promoting Sympies.
Videos of famous people like Armi Millare of Up Dharma Down, Sen. Grace Poe… Idol Mikee…
They chose a favorite icon and talked about it too and how then can relate.
But what would an ordinary citizen like me say if I get to make a video like that?
I looked at my own wall on Sympies and tried to see which i-motion I use more often.
I saw that I use the HOPE icon a lot, but same goes with “PETS”, “MOODY” and “I DON’T GIVE A FYUK”. Oh, apparently I also have lots of HEALTH and HEALING issues. But sometimes I have days like I’m the happiest person on earth, the most inlove… Or the most depressed. Or evil… which I bet is when I have my period…
Good God. Talk about mood swings. My husband must really love me. I have my own psychological portfolio on my phone and I don’t even need to consult a professional to analyze how f**ked up my emotional state is. I can see it for myself! If I do go to a shrink, I will probably save time (thus, money) by just showing her my Sympies wall. *amused snort*
Anyway, I’m just an ordinary citizen, but here’s what I have to say:
Dear Sympies’ Creators, thank you. =) Your app is awesome.
I appreciate an app like Sympies.
Where I can write my silly thoughts and blabber about my feelings without worrying about being socially “lynched”. A quiet little corner in my mobile phone where I can stop pretending I am strong and confident. Where a warrior can become a child again. A little piece of home.
The Sympies app is young, still on beta stage, still changing and continuously growing, but the beautiful seed has been planted and I believe it will grow splendidly.
For now, given the early stage, there is still much to be done, like make it a little more user-friendly while maintaining its originality and preserving its “soul”.
To the creators of Sympies, kudos to you!
One thing I really hope for is that Sympies keep that charm that made me change my mind about turning my back on the project:
The personal touch of someone that I (or everyone else) can relate to.
Someone with a “weathered” soul.
Because it means that that someone actually gets you.