About the Blog Name

Raconteur is another word for story-teller. In Jueteng (a Filipino number game of chance), 11 is a number for soul. So literally, The Raconteur 11 means The Storyteller's Soul.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Pursuit for Happiness


The past few months had been busy months that I don’t have time to put in paper the words that are dancing in my head.  Sometimes they are like ghosts haunting my sleep telling me to write, but then I’ve been too tired or too lazy I can’t even press the keys.

There are new things to learn in my new line of work. I had to update some records, adapt quickly and be fast yet reliable otherwise I’ll not meet deadlines. And deadlines are the worst thing in the world, it forces you to cram, and when you cram, you don’t use your pure potential and suffer some serious consequences as a result.

I settled in quickly though, to my surprise and that’s because the new people I’ll be living with turns out not what I think them to be. Guess the saying; first impressions lasts is not so true anyway. So I have some lie low time these days that I can type a few words to posts.

But I’m not talking about dramas or TV shows for some time coz’ I’m not too interested in the premise they are offering nowadays. It’s because of my absurdity I guess. Or when I’m interested, it is shown on hassle timeslots. So I just content myself with news, movies and sometimes novels.

I’d watched and re-watched some classics like Titanic, Gone with the Wind, Ghosts and what I personally like is the 1989 rom-com When Harry Meet Sally. The witty dialogues and the naturality of the acting are perhaps what make it a hit back then. The lines “You made a woman meow?” is still the daeback line of all, haha.

I also manage to read two Paulo Coelho’s novel; By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept and The Zahir.  And these novels along with The Alchemist are the reasons why I decided to rekindle the spirit of writing in me. On and on it says something about doing something that you wanted to do before it’s too late.

I always wanted to write but all along I am afraid. Then I realize afraid of what? Am I afraid that I will be judge and criticize? Then it’s a good thing coz I’ll have critics. That way I can improve myself. Am I afraid that I’ll not be recognize? Why would I be afraid of it? I write because I like it and not because other people like it.  Am I afraid that people will know my deep thoughts? Then it’s a good thing again coz they’ll get to know me more right? So I decided to conquer these fears...these unfounded fears, the fear of the unknown. I’LL WRITE.

I’m beginning a novel (whoa!), it’s my first time that I’ll try this or rather try a formal form (I’ve written a manga once, during my elementary days but I consider it a child work. I’m considering revising it though.) I started (FTR) September 20, 2012 and although it’s only been 10-pages now and I’m so proud and can’t believe I am the one who wrote it. I hope the inspiration continues.

I tentatively entitled my novel A Pursuit for Happiness. It’s a novel about questions and of confusions, my confusions. Can someone really find TRUE HAPPINESS or can someone be really TRULY HAPPY? In The Zahir, the protagonist proposed the idea that everyone though appearing to be happy has always has that certain gloom in their eyes. They may not be aware of it but it’s always there. I want to solve that mystery. I want to know what makes someone happy. Or are they really happy? Its base on this premise and it started this way: 




House-Office-Meetings-House---my daily routine. And this day is just an ordinary part of this routine since she left me. Since my wife…my heart…my love...my half-life left me.

“I’m leaving you!” Those we’re the words that started our conversation a year ago.

I am complaining of my headache brought by drinking too much at the party the other night when those words just boom in the room out of a sudden.

“Could I ask why?”

“I’ll start a journey.”

“A journey, to where?”

“I can’t tell you.”

“I think it’s unfair?”

“I want to write.”

“Write?! Then write! You’ve been doing those stuffs already and you know I’m supporting you all the way, so I don’t see the need to leave?”

“It’s different this time...and it will be long.”

“I don’t care how long, write a million pages if you like, but leave...me? I don’t understand.”

Then a long silence follows. Silence that seems like only the fast beating of our hearts can be heard. Mine beats fast, because of the fear of losing the one I deeply love. But hers is like a feather falling, no hurry, so calm.

The silence is disturbed by three knocks on the door. And three knocks means it’s my secretary. I direct her to come in but she said she couldn’t coz she was holding something heavy. My brows start to frown as I open the door only to see my employees in festive spirit as they start to sing the Birthday song!

A smile curved my lips, they succeeded in surprising me. I say some thanks and in gratitude tell my secretary to order a lunch for everyone.

I accepted the chocolate cake, my wife’s favourite and an A4-sized greeting card. As I start to read the messages, I smile again. But the chronic HAPPY BIRTHDAY brings back my recollection.

“Is it because of a third-party? Is it because you don’t LO..! Jesus, I can’t even say the words.”

“You know I love you...only you.”

 “Then is it because of me?”

“No. It’s me.”

“You. You? What a lame joke, you lost your humour, go back to comedy school. HAHA. I get it ok, today’s the 20th and you think I forgot again don’t you. You’re wrong this time coz you see I already booked a week vacation to Seoul. I know you want to go there but couldn’t find the time, so here are the tickets. Happy birthday Hon! Happy Birthday to us!”

“Thank you but it doesn’t change my mind. I’m still leaving.”

“Ok, hands down, I’m sorry; I started to complain without listening to your reasons first.”

“I’m starting a journey.”

“You already said that.”

“It’s a journey in pursuit for happiness.”

“It’s deep and...Absurd.”

“I know. People will think I’m crazy, that’s why I don’t want to involve you.”

My hand gestured to continue.

“Yes I write, but about what? Stories. Stories of love/hate, fortunes/misfortunes, adventures/misadventures. I write all about life and of death without understanding what it really means. Everything is just created by my mind; all have been imagination and just mere fantasies. Yet people love it. I mean why do they love it when it’s so obvious I just created a hoax character? Why would they love a vampire falling in love with a human?”

“Because in him, their fantasy comes true. And in him they see how a man should be. A hopeless romantic who is willing to sacrifice even himself for the one he loves. That’s the mere fantasy of every woman, except you obcourse, coz you’ll think it’s selfish.”

“Exactly, coz if only Romeo didn’t selfishly and emotionally decide to kill himself then there love story could have been a happy ending.”

“But it’s their story. It ended that way so that the warring families can swallow their own pill. Its tragedy, Romeo and Juliet’s fate.”

“Fate is a scapegoat for the wrong decisions that they make.  It’s for egoist who can’t accept that they made a mistake so when they can’t blame themselves or others, they blame destiny.”

“But you propose that destiny is the reason lovers from both ends of the world meet.”

“It’s true, Jose Rizal and Josephine meet out of fate, but after meeting, it’s their own decisions that created the love story. Decision is the most fearing thing to do coz when you decide there is no turning back. That’s why someone should think carefully before he sail the boat.  I think hard, carefully, that’s why I come to this decision.”

“Of leaving me.”

“Yes, and of pursuing my journey. In one life or another there are struggles and for what? They say that it’s to reach a goal. But what confuses me is when they reach that goal, they’ll say that oh! This is not enough so they’ll set another one, then another without knowing that time passes by. But they didn’t stop; they continue to set goals, only to realize again, when they can’t even stand straight that that’s not what they really wanted. Coz a rich king wants to be a beggar but a beggar wants to be a rich king.  A doctor wants to be an engineer but an engineer wants to be an accountant. An accountant wants to be a writer but the writer wants to be a doctor. A lawyer wants to be a singer but the singer wants to be a mayor. People are always unhappy even if they get what they said they wanted so much. So a question comes to my mind, am I really what I ought to be, where I ought to be? What if not? I don’t want to realize that I am not who I should be or I’m at the wrong place of the world until the day I can’t even stand straight. So I want to find it, that one thing people are struggling to get. That thing called HAPPINESS.”

“But happiness is not to be sought. It is a by-product of something you do. Like us, we worked hard to build our own company, the company we dreamed of, we succeeded and we are happy. Like you who wanted to write, you become a famous writer, and you’re happy. And like me who love you, I married you, so now I’m happy.”

“Are you REALLY happy?”

“I am, aren’t you?”

“If we’re talking about us, I am. But what I want to find is different. I want to solve the mystery I see in a person’s eyes when I look at them closely. I come in contact with people that admit they are happy, but when I look in their eyes, I see sadness. Sadness that they themselves may not even be aware of, but it’s there. You are one of them. You admit you’re happy but looking in your eyes, I can see it. That certain gloom. It may have lessened since the day we first meet at the orphanage but some of it remains, confusing me, telling me that what we have are not enough to erase that certain darkness.”

“Yes, I’ll not argue, I’m sad at the moment coz knowing I can’t change your mind, I’m afraid I’ll lose you. I am saddened by that fact.”

“Do you think I am not afraid? I’m afraid too that when I start this journey, no husband is waiting for my return. No warm hands that will embrace me and ask me if I found it. No strong shoulders that will protect me when I’m out there in the cold. No one to talk to about my absurdity yet still understands. I’m afraid too, but I know I need to do this.”

And just like that, I rested my case. I know I can’t change my wife’s stubborn mind once it decided to do something. But should I make that desperate move to make her choose between me and her journey? No. It will be selfish.

“Would you be okay?”

She embraces me and I heard a definite “YES”.

“But I have one request and I want a definite yes too for an answer, okay?”


Should I make her choose now? No, it will ruin the mood.

“Let’s use these air tickets.”


And a day more we’re in the rich and gaudy city of Seoul, staring at her as she is sleeping soundly. I am afraid of losing this woman I love. She is my half-life. I kissed her and as I do, I know I must do everything to make her change her mind. No! she needs not to leave. We can pursue happiness together. I’ll show her that she only imagined those sadness she had seen in my eyes. I will make her realize that she will be happy with me.

I kissed her again and when she responded... I hope.

Our 6-day itinerary is full of joys and pleasures. We explore the streets of Seoul. Partied. Shopped. Made love. 

And today is the 7th and last day of our trip and as she personally requested we will go to Bongeun-sa, a Buddhist Temple in Samseong-dong of Gangnam-gu District. I can see the excitement in her eyes. She holds my hand and lean on my shoulder, looking at her gleaming eyes I am certain she had changed her mind.

Yes I am certain, I had hoped, but not till I see her talking intently to the monk. I am looking from a distance and when she turns to me; my heart beats the fastest beat of my life because I know for certain, she’ll leave me. But still, I pretended not to see it.

I approach them, offered some gesture of respect to the monk and tell her that we need to go back now otherwise we will miss our flight. She didn’t respond. Her eyes are close so I can’t read through them. She just held my hand. My heart started to beat fast again and though I expected it already, what she said later is still like a bomb through my heart. Literally, I feel it bursts out.

“The monk’s words are a sign for me to start the journey. I’ll stay here for a while.”

NOOOO! What can I do to change your mind? I wanted to shout but not a single word comes out from me. Coz at that moment I know it would be useless. But should I make that desperate move now and make her choose? NO. Because if I do, I know, I’m going to lose her…forever.


And just like that I left my heart in Seoul.

She didn’t even ask me to wait, instead she told me to continue living a life as if I have never been a part of it. It is a short way of saying…forget me. But no, how can I forget her. She is my only one. She is my strength. She is my half-life. I’ll wait even if it means forever.

I continue my routine and soon enough I find myself in our room. And as I drown myself in loneliness I wondered, have she found it? Is she living happily now? What did the monk tell her that made her decide to start the journey in that place? I want to know, but how can I, she didn’t even contact me this whole long year.

My secretary texted that I should open my e-mail for an important message. I did and found out that our company got the big contract we’ve been working hard to get these past few days. I just smiled. If she’s here it will be different. I’ll bet we will be laughing, jumping, dancing and making love in celebration. We will mess around.

Suddenly a memory of her so engrossed in the computer, flashback. I joked that she’s improving coz she prefer her typewriter over a PC. She said she is enjoying posting her unpublished writings in the internet and reading people’s reaction about it.

“Aren’t you afraid you’ll get a bad reputation?”

“Why would I, I’m just expressing my thoughts.”

“Well your thoughts about homosexuality can’t be accepted by everybody.”

“I said I only express and not state a fact. And look, many dittoed to my idea.”

“Yeah your idea that it is a sin.”

“It’s not like that. Seeking for a companion in the same sex, being friends with them, loving them is never wrong. But having sex with them is the wrong part, it is the sin that angered God and led Him to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.”

“But can two people in love live together without having sex? I say No.”

“Then it’s not love but lust. And you already said it, its sex not making love.”

“But sex is the greatest pleasure in the world.”

Sex is like a drug; once you taste it you’ll ask for more and become an addict. If you haven’t taste it, the idea that it’s the greatest thing in the world will not ever occur to you in the first place. So, if you don’t want to become an addict don’t ever taste it. ”

“So you’re saying that if you never tasted it you won’t look for it? But it’s a need especially for us men. And it’s not even our fault coz it’s Eve who eat the forbidden fruit first.”

“Eve is hypnotized by evil at that time and if it’s a need, Jesus would have died long before He was crucified.”

“I thought you’ll say priests won’t live long.”

“They are humans but Jesus is the son of God.”

“But He became human too.”

“Well I say He became too busy teaching, curing and saving us people that He possibly couldn’t think about it anymore. Hon look, I know you question religion but I already told you that nobody has the right to question my faith or anyone’s faith. It’s supposed to be respected as long as we do the right things and not hurt other people.”

“Okay, okay. Are you done? I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I’m just doing it for the sake of argument.”

It’s so funny how we can start with a pebble-small topic and ended up talking about the universe. But perhaps she’s right, sex is not a need coz I have not been sleeping with anybody since she left. And I’m in love and it’s not anymore a statement, it’s a fact.

I type the URL of her blog site and the familiar green colored background appears.

“The Raconteur11?! Why did you choose that site name?”

“The Raconteur is another word for a storyteller.

 “And 11?”

“Well in Jueteng, 11 is a number for soul. So my site name literally means “the storyteller’s soul.”

How can I not love this woman? I explore the site to find out if she’s been posting about her journey. I scrolled left and  found out that she have million followers and I’m only one of the hundreds of thousands that are online right at this moment.  On the right side I read the caption ‘Most Popular Post’ and my heart stop as I comprehend a particular title; A Pursuit for Happiness.”


A Pursuit for Happiness

I decided to start a journey...a journey in pursuit of happiness. It’s seems absurd right? But I decided and since I did, there’s no turning back.

I am a nobody. In fact I don’t even know whose womb I was conceived, where part of earth I was pulled out from that womb and who’s the one who pulled me out from that womb. Frankly, I don’t give a damn.

I knew later that I belong to a big family. I have lots of siblings of different sizes, colour and voices. I have five mothers and a black father who speak in foreign tongue. It’s only at age 12 that I fully understand the word orphan. And it’s also at that time that I meet him. My half-life.

He came untamed with bruises on the face. His look was cautious. His jaw was firm. And his eyes are the saddest eyes I’ve ever seen.

And those eyes are the reason I decided to pursue this journey.

Our relationship didn’t start out good. In fact I consider him my greatest enemy. We always fight. Father said that if we keep on fighting, we’ll become sparring partners. We continue fighting; as a result we did become partners, to do the punishments. But the fighting goes on but this time we put bets.

We’ll bet if it will rain. We bet if we can perfect an exam. We bet if someone of us will be chosen to be adopted. We bet on everything and every bet requires a consequence for the loser. Whoever loses will have to do their task alone, sometimes it’s to clean the hallway or the CR’s, or wash the clothes. But the worst consequence of all is if I have to give up a breakfast, a lunch or a dinner. I always won if it’s the cleaning or washing consequence but always have to starve when it’s the food consequences. I always think it’s unfair but at age 18 as I’ve stumbled upon his journal I knew the reasons why:

Monday, May 11
“It’s our schedule to clean the hall way today. I wake her up and while eating our breakfast I ask her if it will rain or not. She said it’s too sunny it will not rain, I bet the opposite. Little did she know I read the forecast beforehand that a typhoon is coming and there’s a 100% possibility that it will rain this morning. Before our breakfast is over, it was raining hard, she jump in happiness and looking at her, I too become happy.”

Tuesday, May 12
“It’s our schedule to clean the CR’s this afternoon, she hates the foul odor. So while we’re waiting for our teacher I bet I can’t perfect the exam this time. She said it’s impossible I’ve been studying the whole night. She bet I can perfect it and I bet the opposite. Time runs out that I didn’t answer the last question. She won. Little did she know I didn’t answer the last question intentionally. She claps in happiness and looking at her, I too become happy.”

Wednesday, May 13
“She is hopping when she came out from Mother Superiors office. She bet his dinner confidently and said she will not starve this time. She bet that she will soon have a family coz The Smiths took interest on her and they are now planning to adopt her. My hearts beats fast, the fear that I thought long gone in me had reappeared. I hide up to my tree at the back of the orphanage until its curfew time and I am forced to accept the fact that she’s gone. I cried on bed but then familiar hands tapped me. It was her sulking, telling me to eat her dinner coz it will be spoiled in the morning. Turns out The Smiths change their mind, they chose Ana because they say she sings better. I laughed, she pouts.”

Thursday, May 14
“I won her sandwich. She complains that I was cheating her when the food is the consequence. She said she is starving but I couldn’t give her the sandwich. I have heard from some of our mother that the reason she is not chosen for adoption is because she’s chubby. And being chubby means high maintenance. I wanted her to lose some weight and find a family. I know it’ll hurt me if she’s gone but it’s better to see her living comfortably with a family. One thing I can’t give her.”

I have cried when I’d read his entries, but not because I was touched or something. It’s because he said I’m chubby and I am high maintenance. I decided to not to talk to him for days but as I do, I missed him. I missed our fights, our arguments, and our bets so I just asked him to buy me a chocolate cake and say sorry. He did. But we never played bets again.

I regret that I read his journal, I shouldn’t have done that coz it’s now one of the things that make me confuse. Do I love him because I have known he love me? What if I realize later that the answer is yes? I have to know, I have to journey.

Not long after, we were mandated to leave the orphanage. They give us some money to start our own lives. He asked for us to live together and told me that he’ll work, so that I can finish college. I refused and said it will be too selfish, how about we both work at daytime and study at night. He just Okayed.

I took architecture, he took engineering. We struggled hard and in the 9th year, we finally manage to graduate. We started as employees but as soon as we found connections we started our own deals. He has a good grasp in running the business; I am a good at people. So two more years we have a company. It was only then that we married and would you believe it…make love? So I am repeating the question he once ask me, can two people live together without having sex? I said yes coz that’s how we were but when he said no coz it’s their need, I become confuse again. Does he really love me? Do I appear to him as a woman? What if the answer is no? I’m afraid… that’s why I have to journey.

We design and built our dream house. A house surrounded by selection of plants, both flowering and non-flowering. We painted it a variety of green colors so whoever manage to visit they call it; the green house. We both love things organize so you can say our house is very orderly. But when we received e-mails that we get big contracts, we mess around laughing, jumping, dancing and throwing everything till we’re both naked.

 We are always grateful to each other. He thanks me for approaching the lost him when he first came to the orphanage. I thank him for taking care of me. He thanks me for making his dreams come true. I thank him for protecting me. And after all this ‘thank you’s it will always end with I Love You and I Love You Too. So I thought is this the reason why we love each other? Did we marry coz we just feel too indebted to each other? I don’t want him to love me because he feels that he owes me or vice versa. That’s why I have to leave him and pursue a journey. A journey in pursuit of happiness.

Why? Am I not happy with him? I am, but my doubts, my questions, my confusions and my fears, shake that definite answer. I want to know what is the meaning of happiness in the perspective of others. I’ll settle these confusions, I’ll journey and until I clear my mind of these doubts and embrace these fears, I shall not return.

June 21, Seoul, South Korea

The tickets to Seoul did surprise me. I agreed to go even though it means delaying my journey. We explore the streets of the lively Seoul.Partied.Shopped.Make Love. I enjoyed so much I completely forgot about my plan until the 7th day, our last itinerary, Bongeun-sa. We enter the temple hand in hand but once in, he let go. I walk and my feet brought me to a well where clear water is freely flowing, I drank and it was then that a monk approaches me. What he said later reminds me of the journey.


The writer is still in the process of finishing this novel but will be posting the continuation soon. Meanwhile, in the main characters journey she will meet different kinds of people telling her about their own perspective of happiness. It will be of great appreciation if you can left a comment and answer this question; WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY? I am planning to include your answers in the novel, thanks!


  1. can't wait for the next chapters teh Hee-jin.. superb.. mixture of what you have heard,read and watched.. What makes me happy?hhhhmmmmm... if i'll say that money can make me happy,i know for sure that its not the happiness you mean..hehehe..superficial happiness... ooohhh... what really makes me happy? it's quite hard question huh... me plus him equals happiness..surjjjj...hehehe.. what makes me happy?hmmmm..gush.. i keep on repeating the question but can't really think of final answer..hahaha... hmmmm...sitting on a couch with his arms wrapped around me, facing the garden where our grandchilds are playing..running around the garden of a three-storey house.. and on the other side our children are watching over=happiness.. :-)

  2. Hi Janie, wow...i just happened to read your novel, it was not surprising that the context of your piece embodies your realizations and viewpoint on complex issues..by the way you haven't mentioned the names of your main characters?? I really want to know..this novel is a reflection of the writer's heart on coping with the questions too crucial and essential that even a simple query, " What makes you happy?" can undeniably be a tough question... my gosh... I'll message you my response in time ;>

  3. Just finished reading it! Nice one jane! :)what makes me happy? MONEY! hahaha!:)

  4. Money makes me happy too Mary Jane hahaha.. expect my comment soon na lang for your novel Jane, busy pang maray eee.. hehe :)

  5. te MJ pwd nxt tym q n kan cmbagun...pghappy n q..hehehe

  6. Give me time to think what really makes me happy.haha


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