Michael Froilan is a Filipino-Canadian poet and artist. He was born in Manila, Philippines and grew up in Scarborough, Ontario.
He self-published his first poetry collection Clouded Thoughts on Valentine’s Day of 2021, dedicating it to his family, friends and significant other.
His work illustrates themes of Personal Transformation. Awareness. Humour. Duality. & Empowerment.
He’s a student of Revelation and an advocate of Gratitude.
Where are you from?
“Been an east side ting from time. Scarborough from time, G”. Haha.
Seriously though, my roots are from the Philippines, but I was raised in Scarborough, Ontario, “styll.”
How long have you been writing?
I started writing when I was twelve. Hip-hop/Rap has always been a major influence in my life. My dream of becoming a musician was what kick-started my writing. So, it’s kind of funny how it led me to publish a poetry book.
What motivates you to write?
Love. Death. Life/Art. Family. Music. Trauma. The mundane. The Cosmos. Doubt. “God”.
Tell us about your new book?
Clouded Thoughts is more of a spiritual book rather than poetry. It’s about identifying with your truth/true power, which is more than just flesh and bone. Of course, like all poetry books, it entails love. But it’s also about perseverance and overcoming.
What is the significance of the title?
There’s a couple of reasons behind the title. As you know, part of life is encountering downfalls. And adding to the pressure are the millions of thoughts that cloud our minds.
I thought of the title in the hope that people will look up whenever they feel defeated. Because “if you can look up, you can get up.” Not only that but to search within for their truth. To seek their light which is overshadowed by rationality and society’s judgments. With that said, the main reason behind the title: When you see the word “cloud” in the bible, I read that it actually means “spirit.” So really, the actual title of the book is “Spirited Thoughts.”
Why did you write it?
Aside from alerting people of their worth, the primary reason I wrote this book was to turn a dream into a reality. And if the readers take anything from it, I hope it’s the fact that you can materialize unfulfilled wishes that are dying to come alive.
When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer?
As far as I can remember. But to be honest, I don’t consider myself a writer. I’m just another misunderstood soul with a dollar and a dream.
What other jobs have you had in life?
I worked many years as a cook. I’d go so far as to say that you’ll bump into some of the realest people working for restaurants. I mean, of course, there are all kinds of true-hearted characters in every workplace out there. But I feel like the kitchen life exposes an individual’s true persona much quicker than any other field. There’s no denying or hiding grittiness, rawness, and sincerity in the kitchen work environment.
The most real people I’ve ever met are restaurant coworkers.
What is hardest – getting published, writing or marketing?
I’d say it’s a tie between writing and marketing. Anybody can write about anything, but not everybody (including myself) can write about things that hold value. And more often than not, anything valuable takes time.
After self-publishing, I wasn’t prepared for the whole marketing side of things. I’m actually still in the learning process as we speak. I have to hand it to all the marketers out there. This isn’t a piece of cake.
What is the most difficult part about writing for you?
Tuning in emotionally. I feel like living hardens our hearts. We’re all so accustomed to functioning with our defensive mechanism that it’s a barricade more than anything. So much so that we defend ourselves from ourselves, if that makes any sense. It takes a lot out of us to dive in and be centred.
Do you find it hard to share your work?
Somewhat. The irony is, sharing my thoughts and feelings is the hard part. I’m a very private person (I’m a Scorpio, can’t you tell?). I’m probably the most closed-off person you’ll ever meet. So, it’s kind of funny because being an “author” means being an open book. And it’s something I’m still adjusting to.
What’s the most memorable thing said by a reader about your work?
Hmm… I hate singling anybody out, so I’d say people reaching out to me and mentioning they related to various pieces from the book. That is probably the most noteworthy because it’s a reminder that I’m not only writing for myself. And the fact that we are all inspiring people without even knowing it.
Do you have suggestions on how to become a better writer?
I feel like I’m in no position to be giving suggestions for becoming a better writer because I’m still learning how to become one myself. But if I had to give one suggestion, it would be to read.
What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book(s)?
That you can make people feel seen through your writing.
What do you think makes a good story?
When it comes from the heart because then it’s meaningful. And people can always tell when it does or doesn’t.
What does your family think of your writing?
Probably what everyone else thinks who reads the book: They think a crazy person wrote it. Haha. But jokes aside, they’re all very proud of me and are supportive of the book.
What makes writers different from other people? I am actually keen to know this.
I recently watched an interview of an American Humorist, David Sedaris, and he expressed it best. He points out that it’s a privilege to be a writer because when bad things happen to “normal people,” there’s nothing they can do with it except feel bad and complain. Whereas, when something terrible happens to a “writer” – or anything for that matter (good or bad) – they dissect and assimilate the situation emotionally, mentally and spiritually through their writing. So it’s like, writers have more outlets than “other people.” They are more prone to empathy. And in a way, it’s a gift and a curse.
How do you work through self-doubts and fear?
I remind myself of all the dark times I’ve been through and overcame. It’s so easy to get lost in the future that we forget about the hells we’ve endured. And I feel like presently remembering all the battles you’ve won is helpful when it comes to asserting your truth.
Do you have anything specific you’d like to tell the readers?
Don’t neglect your soul. The spirit precedes the physical.