One Year After

**Late post

At around 11pm on January 8, 2016, Dad, after enduring constant chest pains, breathed his final labored breath. I can only describe that night to be unexpected as a few hours before 11pm, he was telling all of us that the day after, we’d still get to talk to him although he won’t be able to reply evidently because of the tube down his throat. Now that I think about it, after watching mom cry and hear her ask dad if he wanted to go already, he, at his last few hours alive, still remained courageous and managed to furrow his forehead at the thought of giving up. He didn’t want to be defeated. Not for us (and I mean all of us). Aside from the old woman who came up to me and said that the same thing happened to her husband a few days prior and yet, was still able to evade the unspeakable, dad fighting gave me hope. Sabi nga nila na masakit talagang umasa. 

I’m not one to easily remember things. At some point in my life when I was younger, I used to forget my moms’ birthday. To my surprise, I can play that day from start to finish without missing a thing. I can even remember what snacks I bought at 7/11 before heading to the hospital. (two Side-Winder gummy worms and two Loaded chocolate packs)

For a year already, I’ve played that night over and over in my head. If you’ve seen me gaze into the distance, that was probably what was going through my mind. I didn’t do it to make myself feel melancholic. No. In between all the chaos and stress, there were quick moments, such as tight squeezes dad made us feel on our hands as if to say, “Stop crying” or a big nod which I know meant, “I love you guys, too”, that were comforting and would easily put a small smile on my face.

You may be gone, Dad, but you have Mom, your five awesomely talented kids, and everyone you’ve touched and helped to always make sure that your legacy and memory will forever live on. I miss you very much, and I love you even more.

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What do you expect? You met them on Tinder.

There is a general stigma that people open their Tinder app and swipe left or right in the hopes of finding someone to cuddle with at night (after of course the Rated R stuff), and that’s it. Of course, that was what the app was made for, but I believe that isn’t the case for everyone.

Whenever I mention to my friends that I met a guy on Tinder, they’d immediately give a mixed look or try to be as nonchalant as they can be. (Bless my college friends, though, who don’t make a big deal out of it.) What’s the difference? What’s the difference between me meeting a guy in a restaurant, bar, or grocery store from meeting him on Tinder? Personally, I don’t go on Tinder to get the “booty”. I downloaded the app because I wanted to prove to myself that there are people out there who can actually hold a decent, substantial conversation, have the same interests as I do, and basically, are the opposite from my ex-boyfriend in terms of personality. As cliché as it may seem, I didn’t want to mark that one failed relationship as the only kind of relationship out there. Moreover, I was just generally very curious.

Going back to the title, that comment stemmed off from an incident when my friend caught his girlfriend cheating. Before I elaborate, I would like to say first that no one deserves to be cheated on. However, it wasn’t the most solid relationship to begin with because my friend had cheated on his girlfriend already countless of times. They were together for over a year, and genuinely loved each other (as they continually say).

So, what does Tinder have to do with it? Does being on Tinder immediately mark you as someone incapable of having genuine connections with another person? Does it easily make you a target for poor relationship circumstances? Is Tinder an easy scapegoat that people cannot complain if they’ve had their hearts broken over it? I’ve had friends who had relationships with people they’ve met on Tinder, and just like any relationship goes, they were genuinely happy about it. Unfortunately, they’ve all broken up already, but I doubt it was because they found each other on Tinder. The only common reason that rises of why things didn’t work out is that they weren’t compatible enough as much as they would like to be. And that’s ok! It’s normal. It isn’t a Tinder curse.

It’s littered across the media, movies, TV shows, and even on Friday night gossip sessions with friends that someone out there is either cheating on their partner, getting laid, or just out on a date. I feel like it’s so unfair to blame an app that only came along a few years back on the existing infidelity (How could you?), hook-up culture, (Remember, #ConsentIsSexy) or just plain casual dating scene that usually people my age enter into.

Out of the hundred matches I’ve gotten on the app, I’ve only met up with three of them. One was completely a big no-no from the start. He wasn’t a creep or anything. He was just exasperating. The other two, however, were great. Nothing romantic stemmed out of it which is fine with me. I consider one of them to be my guy best friend now. We tell each other everything – from mundane things happening in our day, to juicy gossip, to serious things like politic and family dynamics, and random jokes thrown here and there. The other is getting on that level. We just kind of met.

What should I expect? Nothing, really. Neither should you. It’s just online dating for crying out loud. No app (or website) is going to change the dynamics of how complicated relationships are. I don’t think adding that aspect is going to change anything. If anything, it actually makes things easier. It’s quick and saves a lot of time. Next time anyone scoffs at your alleged poor dating choices, pity them. Apparently, they aren’t as mature and open as yourself.

Do It “Like A Girl”

I was your typical sexist’s definition of a girl: weak and a cry baby. I was told that I dressed “like a girl”, ran “like a girl”, played “like a girl”, and spoke “like a girl”. It came to a point where I thought hearing the words ‘like a girl’ was an insult, a label that I couldn’t run from but wished that I could. Up until high school, I was criticized for dressing a certain way, acting a certain way, or speaking a certain way, ways that didn’t fit in with what the limitations of how ladies ought to be. I have to admit that it was very constricting and confusing. It was as if ever since I was little, the society that was there to build be up failed me.

It was also an acceptable excuse for people. “Oh, she’s emotional because she’s a girl”, “She’s dressed that way because she’s trying to impress someone”, “Don’t mind her, she’s just hormonal”, “That’s just how girls are”. It has always boiled down to the point where being a girl was something definable and limited.

Luckily for me, I got to escape the toxicity of it all. Despite having been stamped “GIRL” like part of a herd of cattle, I chose to leave my safety bubble. Sheltered that I was, I chose to study in a university miles away from home. That decision changed it all for me. Albeit there being doubts on my part with countless tears at night, I realized that I wasn’t that weak girl everyone made me out to be. I was weak because I listened to them. I grew stronger the moment that I didn’t.

Twenty-three years of hearing the same words over and over again, sometimes directed at me, most of the time I hear it around me, I’ve understood and come to terms with one of the key ingredients in life: You shouldn’t let others define you, let words constrict you, and most of all, lose yourself in all that mess.

I’ve transitioned immensely from being that little girl who thought that being like a girl meant something derogatory to the woman that I am right now who has experience so much from the world. I’ve had the opportunity to explore the places far beyond where the waters meet our lands to realize how strong we were built, how creative we were made to think, and how beautiful being a woman truly is.

So, let me tell you what it really is to be “like a girl” (a woman):

“You dress like a girl” means I wear with me my dignity and confidence. I express myself in the humblest yet intrinsic way. You will look at me in and awe and see not what brand I’m wearing, what color, nor the cut, but you will see the allure of regality.

“You speak like a girl” means I speak with eloquence and brilliance, with validity in my speech. I impart with the subtle parting of my lips meaningfulness, not hate. With every letter that rolls out of my tongue, I enunciate my thoughts that they may educate others, not tear them down.

“You move like a girl” means I let grace drip from my fingertips. With every step, I show my strength with how I carry my body, my soul. With my poise, I bewitch you, and with my elegance, I enchant you.

“You cry too much because you’re a girl” means with every tear, whether out of joy or melancholy, I care. I have every right to feel what I feel, to let out every drop to heal myself and those around me. I express my innermost thoughts and desires and rage in the meekest way by being quietly enveloped in my thoughts as I wash my face of yesterday’s despair. I cry because I am human too.

“You think too much like a girl” means I am critical and creative. I analyze at the same time I let my ideas flow. I am a master of thinking of one thing to hundreds of things all at once without breaking a sweat. I am the maker of my path, the architect of my future.

“You are a girl”, a woman, means there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. So, please, continue to do it “like a girl”.

 

Words Are Just Words

 

How are you supposed to answer the “How are you?” or “Are you OK?” questions after your dad just passed away?

People keep saying “I know we may not be close, but if you need someone to talk to, I’m here”. Even the people I’m close with have said that they’re “just a call or text away”. I’ve taken some of them up on their offer and hoped to get a good conversation out of it. However, people have seen zoned me or just immediately went offline while I was typing my reply, and they never got back to me. I’ve made it a point to ignore people that I could reach through my phone or laptop for a couple of days because it was later on that I realized that people really don’t know what they’re saying, and they end up saying things just to seem nice but actually don’t mean whatever they let slip out of their mouths.

Whenever they ask if I’m OK, I just do the good ol’ tilt head & smile and say nothing else. Saying that I’m OK is lying to them and to myself. Saying that I’m not just makes things awkward because it’s as if they are now obliged to make me feel better. Some, however, have returned the “tilt head & smile” gesture and just turn around and walk away to do the same to another member of the family.

I’ve always told myself to feel whatever I have to feel at the right setting and time. If I need to cry, I will. If I need to get angry, then definitely I will. If I need to just be somber and quiet, I’ll allow myself to do that. I’ve come across so many faces during the past two weeks, and most of them have told me to stop crying and move on or be strong because, according to them, that’s what my dad would have wanted. They’re right. My dad wouldn’t want me to obsess about his death and cling on casket for dear life (which I did, but isn’t that what wakes are for?). However, people who said those things either (1) don’t know what it feels like to lose a parent  (or a child, a loved one so dear) or (2) are just completely heartless and are used to being inappropriate.

How can people tell me to move on when the month of January hasn’t even ended yet? I understand completely that my dad is so much better where he is now. He is no longer dependent on his oxygen tanks, no longer thinking about the many problems my cousins, aunts, and uncles give him, or no longer stressing about a libel case or if the Lakers won or not. When I look at his urn and picture, I smile a bit because I think of what he could be possibly doing up there. He could be playing basketball with his brothers, relaxing by the beach, drinking, again with his brothers, while my grandparents frown at them, or eating to his heart’s content. I understand all of that, and I am legitimately happy for my dad that he is now at peace.

But, you see, for us mortals still in this world, we continue to feel pain and despair. Those are not easily forgotten or brushed off of our shoulders. We are constantly hit by memories that we choose to remember over and over because that is all that is left for us to cling to. Scents fade, and things aren’t the same without the person you are missing are there to use them. I think memories are the only things that are secure and constant in times like these.

I have a friend whose step-father passed away a few years ago. He said that he knows how insignificant words can be and that whatever people are saying cannot bring back my dad or truly console my broken heart. However, he said that even if people’s words don’t mean anything, at least I know that there are people who care. I guess that’s one way of looking at it. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate my friends’ messages and attempts of cheering me up. There are just some people who become too much for me. 

He also advised me to listen to Largo from Concerto No. 5 for Piano in F Minor by BachI guess that’s what I’ll go do now.

No, Really. Go Live.

At 22, I feel like I have the whole world at my finger tips. My best friends and I keep planning trips all around the globe, and as far fetched as they may be, we have to make it happen. We have to see the Pyramids in Egypt, swim in the beaches of Bali, fall in love with the beats of Rio, eat pizza in Verona, listen to the song of the mountains in Austria, walk down Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem, run on the Great Wall of China waving to the sky hoping someone will see us, and scream as loud as the lions do in Africa.

Why?

I know a 60 year old man who has to be hooked to an oxygen tank 24/7 because his lung (singular) needs all the help it can get. Walking becomes a chore. Staying in bed all day becomes the norm. He has lost muscle mass because he can’t do any form of exercise and all his physical efforts go into him focusing on inhaling and exhaling. Don’t get me wrong. He can still walk around but maybe just for a few meters or so. More than that, he has to catch his breath.

Just like how any other story goes, one day, he saw a picture of Machu Picchu on facebook. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and I’m sure that you, whoever is reading this, has thought “I want to see that someday!” He thought the same thing but added, “That’s part of my bucket list of places to visit that I am never going to see”.

When I heard that, I couldn’t understand what I felt. Pity? Sadness? Regret for him? Maybe all at the same time? I don’t know. But, I knew what I thought at that moment. And it is what I am sharing with you all today.

An average person has about seventy or so years to live, eighty-plus if you’re lucky. Many of us think that “70 years? That’s more than enough time for me to do the things I want.” In reality, seventy years can honestly feel like 7 seconds. One minute you’re putting on your black shoes for the first day of elementary school, the next minute you’re putting on your black dress shoes for a job interview. The next thing you know, you’re 70 years old wishing you could go see all the places you once wrote down on your list of “Places to see by the time I’m 30” or could do all the things you’ve postponed and said, “Nah, there’s always tomorrow”.

So, to answer the question at the beginning of this post, we have to make the trips happen for this reason: to not regret. I am slowly learning that once you say “no” to an opportunity, how sure are you it’ll come strolling down your path again? I remember one of my high school teachers telling us that Opportunity is this beautiful man with no clothes on (just go with me on this one), drenched in oil (no, really, it’ll make sense), and has a pony tail on his forehead (keep reading…). He appears to you all majestic looking, and you are then awestruck. He’s coming at you fast, and you have only one chance to grab his hair and go with him before it’s too late. If you missed that chance, that second, you’ll find yourself grasping for his arms, legs, but to no avail because you’ll just slip right off. Then, where does that leave you?

Those posts online that go “Life is too short, buy the shoes” make us go, “Ha, yeah right. If only I could, honey”. BUT YOU CAN. Maybe save up for it?

And it doesn’t even have to be about buying things. It could be finally jumping off of a cliff into the ocean, screaming at the top of your lungs when the roller coaster drops, seeing for the first time a wild penguin up close, or dancing in the streets late at night.

It doesn’t have to be an adrenaline rush thing either! Let’s say all your life you’ve always wanted to learn how to cook, paint, sing, or play an instrument. Guess what? YOU CAN. So what if it doesn’t taste good or your painting ends up looking like a 5 year old did it? Practice and keep searching for what you’re good at, and at least you’ll be able to say, “Haha, at least I’ve done it”.

But make sure you’re not hurting anybody or doing something illegal. Maybe don’t rob a store. Maybe… you shouldn’t curse that man for cutting you off. Opportunity isn’t waiting for you down that road.

Make your own sentence that fits you and your story. “Life is short,…” Don’t make the common mistake of waiting and then suddenly regretting. Just be smart, and really, go live.

“There’s a fork in the road. What now?”

…. is exactly the thing that I fear most right now. I literally have one foot on one road and one foot on another, and I hope there will never come a time where I have to choose which road to continue on and which one to leave behind.

One road I’m on is the decent one, the one that everyone is expected to take. I’m studying French and Spanish right now because I think that it will totally help with my career in the international relations field. I want to master both languages and maybe take a Masters degree in one (or two HAHAHA I know…) But, I definitely want to work for the Department of Tourism. Those are the main points in my career path. For the sub-points, I’ll just have to figure those out as I go along.

The other road is the road less traveled. Yup, dance. I’ve decided to be a bellydance apprentice under the tutelage of the best bellydance mentor in the country, Miss Jill Ngo. Also, I, along with a few of my friends, were offered a dance scholarship under our dancesport coach, Miss Belinda Adora. I am so grateful and excited for both these opportunities because they’ve both expressed great interest in investing in my talents and would want to continue in honing my skills. I totally cannot pass these up!

If I were to choose which one to keep without any consequences, I’d choose dance for sure. No hesitation. But, why not just continue on with that from the start, right? Don’t get me wrong, the career path I want to take is something that I’m passionate in as well. I’ve just had dance occupy my heart more.

But, here’s my thought process: I have it laid out in my head that if I have a career plan, and a solid one at that, meaning something I know that I can stick to, and show my parents that I can be mature and responsible in working hard and focusing on that road, then there is no way that they can say I can’t dance. If I can do both, and I know I can, I have to, then why not.

As I’ve mentioned in the start, the fear of maybe having to ultimately choose one at the end is a very daunting task. This is the time that I need to be strong and determined, more than I’ve ever been my whole life. If I lose my career path, I wouldn’t know what my parents would say and I wouldn’t also know how to feel that I let something important to me go. If I lose my dance path, that will be the total destruction of my entire being (lol over acting, I know, but it’s true).

I know people can’t have it all, but I’m determined to at least have these two together side by side until when the crows turn white.

Cruising

What’s going on with my life since my last post? Was I able to enroll? Are the professors giving me hell? Am I regretting my choice of going back to school?

School started a few weeks ago (and I guess you can infer that, yes, I was able to enroll YEY : ) , but the enrollment process has been THE most tiring and frustrating one I’ve ever had to encounter in my life.), and everything’s just going steady and smooth.

I’m taking both French and Spanish classes, but I wasn’t able to enroll in the classes that I should take to continue on with what I already took up in Ateneo because the European Languages Department at UP said that I had to go back a week after the regular enrollment schedule to ask (again) if I can take the classes that I needed to take. If they decide that I can enroll, I have to take a placement test. But here’s the thing, they’re not sure that I’m going to have a slot left by the time that I would’ve gone back to talk to them because regular enrollment finished already, and when I saw the slots on the computer, there were only 1 or 2 slots left in all the classes. So, the woman who I talked to just advised me to take the basic classes again for review and mastery. So, that’s what I’m doing now.

My schedule’s pretty light. My classes are from Tuesdays to Fridays. My day starts at 10:00am, and I get off at 2:30pm everyday. Not bad at all. I’ve made a few friends, but I don’t hang out  with them during my break because they have their own schedules, cliques, etc… I’m fine with that. I’ve always been the type of person that likes to be with people but can also survive when I’m on my own. During my break, which is an hour and a half, if my best friend is free, we have lunch together or I usually go to the nearest Starbucks to rewrite my notes, do homework, fix my schedule, read, draw…whatever really.

I’ve joined two organizations in UP: Le Club Français and UP Dancesport Society. I can’t wait for the org activities to start because then at least I’ll have more things to do, and I get to meet new people which is always a plus.

Hmmmm what else? Aside from school, I’m still dancing yyeeeeey! I’m rehearsing with Miss Jill Ngo, the best belly dancer in the country, for a belly dance recital on October 11! I’m really excited for that one : )

But right now, I’m just cruising, really. I’ve set my mind to think and focus on my goals everyday, and I feel like I’m at a good place right now. We’ll see.

‘Til the next entry, xoxo

 

#ThoughtsBeforeBedtime

every night, i pray to keep my dad healthy, my mom patient, my sister happy, my brother safe, my older sister strong, and my other brother loved. And I just realized that I’ve been praying about other people for the past years more than I’ve had time to stop and think and pray about myself. What do I need? What characteristic do I need to stick to? I’ve been the saddest of sad for a week or two now and I think I understand that I haven’t given myself enough time to breath and stop and also think about me. I keep doing the 10 deep breaths thing since yesterday, and that actually does help a lot. I feel like tomorrow (because I feel like another day or two, i’m going to burst and just can’t handle it all), i just need to write down what i need to do about me and what’s going on around me to have a sense of order, and to understand more others’ points of view aside from my own.

Back to School Jitters

You guys have no idea about the internal battle happening inside me right now. I’ve been literally exclaiming “AAAAGGGGGGHHHHH” out loud every hour or so, especially when I’m about to go to sleep, and whoever is around me starts to think I’m crazy.

The last time I took a French class was two years ago, and my last Spanish class was a year ago. If you don’t already know, I’ve decided to go back to school this year at the University of the Philippines. I’ll be taking French and/or Spanish units to qualify for an MA program in the same university.  I am stressing myself out too much; I’m not even kidding.

Let me just type my thoughts down for my peace of mind. Okay. I have a post somewhere here entitled Don’t Let the Voices in Your Head Ruin YouRightly so! But, the voices in mine have multiplied in number and it’s difficult for me to just ssssshhhh them. You know what I mean?

One keeps saying “you’re going to embarrass yourself” – because I don’t know what it is about me, every new school year, I always find a way to embarrass myself. HAHAHA. I think it’s more of a reminder than a taunt. In Tony the Tiger’s words, g-r-r-reat!. HA. 

One keeps saying “your teachers are going to despise you” – but if the language professors in UP are anything like the ones in Ateneo (minus my French 5 professor – she was the ultimate worst – or if they are like her, then cool I’ve had my training), I’ll be so happy!

One keeps saying “your classmates are going to make fun of your lack of knowledge of French/Spanish vocabulary” – gulp! I’ve seen how different UP and Ateneo teaches languages. In UP, the language they choose is their major! It’s what they eat, drink, and breath all day errday. In Ateneo, it’s just a minor course. So, unlike UP where they’re hardcore learning everyday, Ateneo only offers classes every other day and I’m guessing fewer hours than UP. Dear classmates, no biting s’il vous plaît! 

Aside from that, I’ve only been freaking about that for like 20% of my time. The 80% is focused on “ARE THEY GOING TO LET ME ENROLL? I HOPE THERE WASN’T ANY MISCOMMUNICATION FROM THE LAST TIME I WENT TO ASK IF I CAN ENROLL. THEY TOLD ME TO GO BACK ON AUGUST 4 RIGHT? SO THAT’S WHAT I’M GOING TO DO. PLEASE GOD DON’T LET THEM CHANGE THE RULES OR WHATEVER” Literally THIS in my head for the past week.

I just really really really want the first day to be quick and painless. First day of classes is on August 7, and I’m going down to Manila on the 3rd! It’s like I want to get over with it already, but I want to just have my own pause button and postpone going back to school. I’ve never been the type of person to handle nervousness properly. Help?

Anyway, I just needed to get that out to help me process my thoughts more. I am a crazy wreck right now! Wish me luck, you guys!

Random Acts Of Kindness

I’ve recently gone back to my endless Tumblr scrolling nights, and I saw a post that I didn’t want to forget and thought to pass it along to you guys as well. Here’s what the post said:

Have you ever come across a homeless individual and felt totally uncomfortable?

You see them and you know they are in need, but you are not sure what to do. You know that handing them money is not the best thing. But, you also see that they clearly have some needs. Their lips are chapped. They are hungry. They are thirsty. They are asking for help.

How can you help?

Here is a simple idea – blessing bags.

There are so many beggars and homeless people in Manila, from toddlers to really old people. They usually go up to your car while you’re stuck in traffic or at a stop light, knock on your window, and hope that someone rolls it down to give them food, money, or whatever else. Some even approach you while you’re just walking on the street. There are people who are a bit skeptical about the beggars because some believe that they just pretend to beg to get extra money or they, specifically the kids, work for a group who tells the kids to beg for money and give it to whoever’s in charge. Both instances have been proven, but that’s not always the case.

Whenever I see beggars approach my car or me while I’m walking, as much as possible I don’t give them money. Rather, I give them food instead. They’re very thankful after, so it really makes me feel happy to see them happy over a simple granola bar or fries from Mcdonald’s . I really have a soft spot for them!

The blessing bag (if you’ve clicked the link to the post and saw the picture hihi) is just a simple zip lock bag filled with a few crackers, toiletries, socks, and coins that you could keep a few (or a lot!) in your car and just give it to the homeless if you come across one. You can add whatever you want too – whatever you feel that they’d appreciate or really need : )

This is such a brilliant and simple way to just go out of your way to do something for someone else. And it doesn’t even have to be just for the homeless. You can do something nice for a friend, a family member, a co-worker, someone you met on the bus, whoever! Random acts of kindness can totally brighten up your day and everyone else’s!

So, that’s that! Here’s hoping that you, wherever you are, have a fantastic day ahead, and always remember to smile and just let all the positivity flow through you : )