By Angelo Lorenzo
When Alve Aranton writes, her concept of love always finds its way in her words.
The 23-year-old writer from Cagayan de Oro City has gained a following of young adult readers in the local community, across the country, and even, at some point, from different parts of the globe ever since her works appeared on online platforms such as Candy Mag, Katha Magazine, and the LA and Las Vegas-based Cliché Magazine.
Although she is presently situated in her hometown, her pieces resonate with themes and messages that can relate to people from all walks of life. Whether she writes about a teenage character suffering from a benign disease in one short story she posted on a web-based storytelling platform, or about the noteworthy film adaptation of John Green’s best-selling novel she featured for a national magazine, she keeps the idea of love at the core of her works.
“The secret is – love her,” she wrote in her piece published by Candy in 2014 when she was then a college senior. Entitled, This is How You Won’t Lose Her, the article spiralled her recognition on social media after editors from the magazine discovered it first on her Tumblr account. It provided opinionated tips for guys to treasure the girls with whom they are romantically involved. Because of its impact to the magazine’s readers, “Candy cutie” Maqui Castelo wrote a response article with a different, but not contrasting, perspective.
In the same year, she released Goodbye, Gwen, a short story that paralleled to Nicholas Spark’s heart-wrenching A Walk to Remember narrative that focused on how two young adult romantics relished their remaining time together before one of them passes on due to an incurable illness. As of December 2018, the short story has accumulated 201 reads on Wattpad.
But for Aranton, numbers mean nothing if the content of a written piece does not have soul. She has stood by this principle when she first acknowledged her passion back when she was in elementary.
From one poem to a winning piece
In an interview, she shared that what hooked her into writing was her interest in reading.
“I didn’t really consider myself as a writer before, especially when I was in grade school,” Aranton revealed. “But I’ve always liked reading and occasionally went to the library.”
This experience led her to weave words on her own. At nine years old, she had written her first poem.
“That was about flowers and dandelions,” she recounted. “Although it was very formulaic, I was happy that I achieved something then. I showed it to my parents and that’s when I knew that writing is what I love to do.”
Like many writers who discovered their passion early in life, Aranton joined her school’s publication and involved herself in contests where she represented her grade school and high school alma mater, the RVM-led Lourdes College.
In her sophomore year, Aranton brought pride to her school after winning first place in the editorial writing category of the Division Schools Press Conference, a triumph which no one in her school has surpassed until today.
“I remember practicing rigorously to prepare for the contest,” she shared. “It was my first time joining, and the topic that was given to me was about consumer rights.” She admitted that she explored various issues as guided by her high school publication’s moderator. During the contest, she didn’t expect to claim the prize, and confessed that she just “gave everything she could” to accomplish her piece.
This experience mounted her position in the editorial board of their publication during her senior year – a memory which she recalls with gleam in her eyes, recounting high school moments.
But like many writers that hold onto memories, she had to tread a path that was not entirely paved with flowers and dandelions. It was in high school when she first knew what romantic love was, what it felt like, and how to let go.
Adolescence shapes love
Aranton’s authorship has ranged from journalistic to literary pieces, utilizing mostly the internet as her platform and reaching a variety of readers. But just as she continues to add pieces to this list, she recalls that most of her works had been inspired by her moments growing up, especially when early adolescence took place in high school.
One common theme that treads along the lines of her prose and poetry – whether fictional or autobiographical – is young adulthood, as evidenced by her essays’ subjective tone, her short stories’ main characters, and her poems’ readability.
“You don’t quite believe in love the way you used to. You’ve probably stopped believing because you think it won’t work,” she has written in her piece, A Letter from the Boy You Haven’t Met Yet which was also published on Candy in 2014.
As complicated and sophisticated as the concept is, Aranton has always attempted to define love based on what her high school experience had introduced her. She fell in and out of it, but she still held on and now mostly anchored this belief on her words.
“I will be there as soon as you accept love and have already fully and truly loved yourself,” she concluded in the piece.
“I’ve always thought of myself as a hopeful romantic,” she remarked. “If there’s such a thing as a hopeless romantic, I’d go for the more positive tone.”
With this idea embedded in her voice, she made it an inspiration in her literary works released on Scribd and Wattpad that consisted their fair share of happy endings despite characters going through tragic circumstances. Some of these included finding second chance after the accidental death of a loved one in Filmstrip, patching up old wounds caused by a misunderstood love affair in When They Met Again, rekindling forgotten love in Forgetting James, Remembering Haley, and dealing with bullies in the more comical fanfiction When Finn(y) Came to Town.
This idea continued as she went to college where she, as the editor-in-chief for Inkblot, made history in Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan by spearheading the revival of the official student publication for Psychology majors.
Living the creative life
She related her Psychology degree as a springboard to intensively understand the human condition and make sense of how people behave – taking stance that even outcasts caused by stigma deserve love as much as people within the margins do. As a licensed psychometrician, she maintains a position in the guidance counseling office in her high school and elementary alma mater.
But this is just among the many things that she currently does as she takes Master’s in Psychology at Xavier Ateneo (where she earned her bachelor’s degree) and pursues a writing career on the sideline.
Her recent exposure was her speaking engagement during the SOFT event at Chingkee Tea, Gazebo branch, where local artists gathered to introduce and sell their works to public in December. During her six-minute talk, she offered encouragement for those like her to pursue their passion in a practical lens. With a message inspired from New York Times-best selling memoirist Elizabeth Gilbert, she shared that artists must hold on to what sustains them in the long run (employment, business) while they maintain their craft and continue their passion.
“If you have a voice, use it,” she stated as a message to fellow writers. “Work every day on your craft. If you really love to write, do it. Continue what you love to do.”
Today, Aranton is connected with a group of like-minded artists that enliven their works not for the purpose of achieving fame by the numbers but to ripple inspiration for creativity and good will. She continues to write in her current blog which she aptly named as She Is The Paperback Writer. Stemming from the classical Beatles song, her blog continues to list her musings as she makes sure that love is always present in her works.