When my blog friend Duni picked a typewriter for her moodboard, I was suddenly reminded of my good old high school days. 

I grew up in the era when everything is on transition to automation. I have witnessed how some manual processes are gradually replaced by the electronic systems. The nearest technological change I felt was the fast proliferation of desktop computers in the academe.  

Back in my High School days, every English subject I have taken required us to write, write and write. From formal themes, book reports and reaction papers, we were always given a topic to write. Unfortunately, not all topics were enticing to write. Reading the Iliad, Odyssey and all those classical novels were not just my turf. In effect, imagine the problem I have to endure to generate that one decent book review.

When all the ideas in writing book reports are present, what’s next? The need to finally place them in writing or better yet, type! Type! Type! Most of my classmates then were blessed with their own set of desktop computer and printer. Hence, preparing book reports is easier for them. As long as the ideas are present, Microsoft Word takes care of everything. In my case, I have to settle with the classic typewriter, which my humble and hardworking parents could afford.

The typewriter gave me my own set of bitter sweet memories. To some extent, I would like to believe that the typewriter made me a better student and (if I could claim) an aspiring writer in my own world. The 15 minutes spent in encoding a page will double if the typewriter is used. In my case, I have to spend hours of writing and rewriting from scratch and endure more hours of painfully stroking the hard keys of my typewriter.

While my fingers become exhausted, I still have to ensure that each word is correctly spelled as I stroke each hard key. Otherwise, I have to repeat the entire page. It’s either I make or break a page. Though there is always the correction tape to save the day, I was never satisfied with a dirty paperwork. These inconveniences were never encountered by my classmates, who were blessed with desktop computers in the comfort of their own home. Hitting the backspace key and the undo function will immediately correct everything.

Thesaurus function? With the typewriter, I have to manually check my heavy and hardbound dictionary to search for alternative words. Microsoft Word brings however the convenience of finding better words in seconds by just hitting shift + F7.

How could I ever forget the grammar police function? The typewriter’s function is literally limited to encoding. It will never remind you of the rules in subject and verb agreement. If you own a typewriter, you better learn to self-edit. Otherwise, your paperwork will become literally and figuratively messy with the residue of the ribbon’s ink.

How about headers and footers? Good thing that my previous teacher trained us to use the Parenthetical Notation. I don’t need to burden myself because of the need to adjust the typewriter’s knobs and position the paper on that perfect spot.

How do you achieve a perfectly justified and centered text? Never can you do this in a manual typewriter. Otherwise, you have to engage in some trial and error attempts in spacing and alignment.

The typewriter doubled the efforts I have to endure in those times when I have to write my own paper. Of those difficult times, I cannot however recall any instance of ranting and complaining. I've never seen the situation as difficult in the first place. I learned to settle and made the most of what I have. I never saw the typewriter as a hindrance to my studies.

In my senior year in High School, our English teacher required us to submit a two-page critique paper. To my biggest surprise, I was the only kid who submitted a manually typewritten work. Another surprise came in because I never received any insult or belittlement from any of my classmates. In fact, my seatmate, whose name is Bernadette, even acknowledged my work. The exact words she told me was “Wow typewritten! Ang hirap nyan ha!” (Wow, you produced a manually typewritten work. That must have been very difficult to prepare.) After receiving that comment, I never felt ashamed of my manually typewritten report. Anyway, our teacher doesn’t grade us by the device we used for our paper. Obviously, we all know that at the end of the day, substance always prevail against appearance.