Discovering a hidden talent while on lockdown

Published May 23, 2021, 1:05 AM

by Deedee Siytangco


Life doesn’t come with a manual, it comes with a mother.

The merry month of May is dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God.

It is also dedicated to earthly mothers who work the hardest to bring up well-behaved, happy, productive, God-fearing offspring. Agree?

Meet my only daughter Sandee Masigan, who has followed in my footsteps of being a mother to her
own daughter. A restaurateur, culinary expert, food stylist, and amateur food photographer, she is a
loving mother to her only daughter Amanda.

After decades of hiding it under a bushel, she has now recognized her innate talent as a writer, thanks to
an online writing class after decades of hiding it under a bushel. She has written on occasional
assignments for magazines and newspapers, but she has had a scoop, the very private wedding former
Senator Bam Aquino to Timmi Gomez in Calle Ruega, Batangas.

In this pandemic, she has rediscovered writing. With the readers’ indulgence, I am sharing her essay to
encourage other mothers!

“Writing for Me”

“I talk a lot (or so I think). But more than that, I love to listen. I think the world would be a much
kinder place, if we all learned to do this just 20 percent better.

Anyway, I digress. I used to write. I started writing when I was 10. I had the good fortune of growing
up with great mentors and enablers, who gladly published my scribbles. Being the progeny of a
prominent writer and editor, I must admit, gave me a leg up. But at the same time the pressure to live
up to that reputation (my mom’s not mine) was a burden I tried to run away from. Hence my choice of
architecture for college. I would always be admonished to “write like your mom.” Like by simply
having much of the same DNA, I would magically sprout “writing talent” at will. I wrote… but still I
ran away.

I wasn’t a writer. I never thought of myself as one. My mom is a writer, my husband is, my daughter
is… my brother is… but me?


But still I wrote, got published (thank God for friends), but I was in major denial that I was a writer.
Writing was an outlet, like a covert artform for me.

Then I found food styling, which brought me back to my other love—food. I’ve spent the last 17 years
of my life styling food, forcing it into submission and to follow my will.
My scribbling took a backseat until it almost disappeared. Until a few years ago. I am a voracious
reader. I devour the printed word without regard for how much the book costs. Through my readings, I
would often find myself longing to be the author of what I was reading, especially if the thoughts they
so carefully laid to paper mirrored my own. Again, the admonition from well-meaning friends—Why
don’t you write like your mom or Andrew? Pressure!

The last 380+++ odd days of quarantine have forced that proverbial mirror to my face. Yes, why don’t
I? I couldn’t because I thought I had nothing to say, nothing that other people would want to read
anyway. This though had played on a loop in my head, I realized, for years.
And so I just didn’t.

Writing is very personal. I have always feared what other people would think about my writing. I was
so terrified I just didn’t write at all. But that clarion call was a caged monster that kept thumping on the
doors last year. I needed to put my thoughts on paper, but I stood in my own way. I was desperately
looking for help.

Enter Rick Olivares and his Media and Writing Class Batch #4.
I signed up for the class on a whim after reading posts from Boyet and Jamie. I said to myself, what the
hell? I joined the class after they’d already had a few sessions. In my head, I gave myself an escape
clause. If the first two don’t work out I can always leave. But, surprise surprise! My first class was
intense, and funny, and invigorating. I’d been languishing in my little cubby hole of stress, anxiety
desperately looking for intelligent life, entertainment, and expression.

All these I found in Rick’s writing class.

Rick isn’t your typical teacher, who rubs your nose in the lesson and dangles a grade over your head
like a sword. Instead, he is a mentor… a cheerleader who ever so gently but surely pushes you to try
new things. How are you going to learn, if you don’t try? He tells us.

His classes are fun and enjoyable. No one is allowed to criticize in his class. There are no judgements
… no harsh words… no wagging the finger at you if you didn’t do your homework. There are lots of
laughter, lots of sharing, a lot of openness, a lot of bonding. It is a safe space to indulge in and get
better at that very personal activity called writing.

Seriously, I couldn’t have found a better class to be in. This is exactly what I need. Our class is crazy.
We are a fun amalgamation of misfits of varying ages with diverse interests and careers. And we all fit.
We click.
I am braver because of this class. This lockdown is easier to bear because of this class. I am writing
more for me because of this class. Rick is opening up Batch #5. Send him a message or DM me so I
can introduce you. I have signed up for the next class!”

Take a bow, Sandee and all mothers who have discovered their hidden talents during this pandemic.By
the way, she is married to Star columnist Andrew J. Masigan.
photo; MOTHER AND DAUGHTER Sandee S. Masigan and her daughter Amanda