Soledad.

I have pretty much lived independently since college. Until my career shift to Life Insurance 3 years ago, I can only count with my fingers the number of times I was home for more than a week since I turned 18. Even during holiday and semestral breaks in college, I’d be home for 5 days max. In our dormitory, I was the last person to leave for and the first one to be back from vacation. It may seem as if I avoiding home at all cost. No. I was just enjoying all the out of school activities I did with my chorale friends. YOLOING our way. Haha

One homecoming instance that really stood out was when I had chicken pox during my junior year. I don’t make fever and flu too big a deal with my parents. I can go out and make it a normal day even with colds. But chicken pox. Upon diagnosis, I called my parents (crying) and said I want to go home. I will go home ASAP. 

I remember how when the doctor told me of my situation that I wish one of my parents was with me. Ang laking issue kaya ng bulutong. Disturbed Body Image. I need Papa’s assuring, sometimes exaggerated, words that I will be fine and I will look fine. Hahaha

I went home. And that was the last I remember me sleeping together with my parents in one room. I was the ugliest duckling that time – blisters and all, but to my parents “gwapa gyapon ah”. You won’t realize how important your parents’ perennial words of faith and vote of confidence are until you need them really badly. You will need them somewhere, someway, somehow. 

I’m going down the memory lane because the last 6 days have been really difficult. I would admit it to some friends who knew of my situation that I felt so alone tending to my sick self all on my own. I guess that meant really something coming from someone who takes pleasure in solitude. Know that it is not my intention to appear kawawa. Definitely not. Told you, I can go on with the day, business as usual, even with colds or a little feverish. 

But I know when my body is really telling me to drop everything and rest. Just rest. 

I was holding back some details of what’s really happening from mi mudra because, well, you know how inquisitive mothers can get. And they won’t stop until they’re satisfied. I was holding back because I am partly to be blamed for the first bout of the flu. The second part, I was all to be blamed. Haha I was good at faking it until I couldn’t help my rockstar coughing anymore. And I looked really sick. Even technology didn’t help. I would get glimpses of my flushed self while talking to my niece in our video calls and she’d say “Yayay (hurt) ka, Manay?”

And I’m useless in the kitchen. So if there’s one good thing that this forced slow down has done, it would probably be the time when I forced myself out of bed and made myself pancakes, fried chicken and a pitcher of lemonade. Proud. Ha ha

I’m so used to doing things on my own. Going places on my own. Making decisions, major or minor, on my own. I love the song On My Own but I have not intention making it my anthem. Masyado lang sanay sa on my own. Not that it’s enough a reason to resent. What I’m trying to say is we are never just on our own. We may think that but that’s not true. One way or another, we get help from people – strangers, friends, family.

In my case, no matter how huge the Miss Independent sign I carry with me, I know that deep inside I am just a girl who calls her parents for help, for rescue and for major lift when all the magic of independence ceases to work. 

Thank you for taking care of me, Mama. Even from a distance. 

Bakit kailangan picturan?

This is worth posting because more than any success, to be able to feed myself through my own cooking makes mi mudra and some concerned friends the proudest. Ha ha ha

I was craving for one of Pancake House’s pancake with chicken meal. Arte. But I’m sick. House arrest. I can call to order, but I want to eat a Pancake House meal at Pancake House mismo. Daming issues.
Ha ha

Anyway, yaman din lamang na I Can Live, I Can Love, I Can Reach the Heavens Above ang theme song ko, why not make do with what I have in my fridge. Taray! May laman ang fridgeder. Take note, tunay na pagkain sila. Not all cookies and water. Ha ha

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Seriously, ang gusto ko lang sabihin ay hindi lahat ng nagakakasakit ay nagiging tamad. Ang iba, nagiging chef.
With matching presentation.

Why the need for a photo? Because no picture, didn’t happen. I don’t agree with that all the time, but in this instance, here’s a resounding Amen.

If this were Instagram, can I now #foodie, #foodstagram, #foodgasm, #foodangchina, #foodiebels, #foodpamore?

Shattap.

I’m supposed to be hitting the road by now to do some 30 minute run but decided to diss the plan. I happened to open Facebook upon waking up and the first thing I read was the bombing of a market place in Davao last night.

  

Either natakot akong mabaril while running, ma bombahan ang building na dadaanan ko while running, nanlumo sa mga nabiktima, o napailing sa mga opinyon ng iba tungkol sa nangyari. Na drain ang energy this early. So, yes, bago ang lahat, the moral of the story for me is DO NOT CHECK FACEBOOK upon waking up. 

The bombing in Davao. Hindi naman ako ignorante sa mga realities of life, but in times like these, I still ask myself why shits of this scale has to happen and why some people, yes our own people, cannot be apolitical- at least for the time being, and focus instead on helping the families of the casualties, pray, meditate or whatever works to clear one’s polluted mind and see how we can help for the common good. Help. Tabang. Bulig. Kapit bisig. 

Seriously, are you drugs?

Faith. 

Yes, I still do have faith that we, amid our differences, can be bigger than the conspiracy theories we strongly believe in, the twists in the plot that we think we have long foreseen to happen. Especially if you are like me who sits in the comfort of your house, away from the danger that toils every second in some places of this planet. Especially you who are relatively safe than the rest who bleed and are fighting for their lives right now – some attended by professionals, some fighting on their own. 

And don’t just kuda. Do something.

Care, as in, really care. I mean, in a totally different subject, don’t just accept the black and white photo challenge for cancer awareness. Didn’t do anyone any good. Nakakuha ka lang ng likes. If that was good enough for you. 

Be in solidarity with the victims and their families. Manahimik ka kung wala kang magandang masabi. Buntong hininga na lamang. 

If you can’t extend any financial or physical help, at least spread positivity and boost the morale of the people who are directly affected. 

Drafts. More drafts. Please no more drafts.

Pakialamera as I am, I have observed that one of my friends who loves to write has not made an entry in her blog for quiet a while now. I asked her why is that so. She said that she is in her best writing element (only) when she is heartbroken. When she is dejected by a would-have-been, could-have-been love affair. I need not ask or add anymore to that. She is one happy jowa for years now. Sige, friend. Edi wow to you. 🙂 

Another friend is on a writing spree when she has so much to say but can’t or don’t say it directly to the party/ies concerned. Writing, needless to say, is her best form of expression. As I would put it, some people speak better when they write. 

That goes to me as well. So, guilty as charged. 

As far as my dilemma is concerned, in writing, there is the opportunity to read back and put a great deal of thought on what I want to say before making it public. There’s no room for mispronunciation. Free from grammatical errors as much as possible – which many of my possible readers are very critical of. Or so I think. Or because that’s the kind of a critic I am, too, albeit uncertified. In writing, my train of thought is more organized, as again largely because of the fact that I can go back and read from start to finish, analyze and edit to no end until I deem it “Ay, ang Ganda nito” or “pwede na ‘to”. Yes, I do praise my own work of art. Wuw, art. To this day, the only note I wrote that I did not edit at all, spontaneous and heartfelt to the letter was Open The Floodgates Up. Written in the wee hours of the morning the day after my father passed away.

While I have a clear understanding of how and where two of my friends take out their inspiration to write, I, on the other hand, do not have a solid reason as to my how and where. Sometimes, I have ideas that I want to expound. Sometimes, books make a good starting point. Sometimes, I come across topics that I want to dig deeper. Sometimes, I chance upon conversations – some overheard, some I am directly a part of, some come from interviews of my people of interest, some suggested, some simply wala lang. In short, inspiration wise, I have nothing in particular. At least, none yet. 

Just when I think that traveling to places I never thought I’d set foot at this time in my life would make a perfect inspiration for a wandering tale, I am proven wrong. Or when conquests that I thought would be too difficult to overcome are fought and won would make for an inspiring story to share, I am also proven wrong. 

Amid all the perfect ingredients to write a good one, I have observed recently that I am having a difficult time getting to the end of my message without digressing too much, without injecting unecessary sentences, thereby hardly getting anything done. Hence, the countless number of notes in my drafts folder. Ang dami!!!!!! Nakaka bother sa dami. Ergo, this attempt.

Okay. I guess, one of the reasons that holds me back from spitting “it” out is my concern of being judged. Oh, little miss perfect, why don’t you just leave and let me be for good?

A favorite local filmmaker of mine who graced the Ted Talk stage said that the best time to write your heart out, no spelling, no punctuation or grammar factors to be conscious of is when your heart is overflowing, not with joy, but with sadness. Iyong parang gusto mong matulog forever sa sobrang sakit. “Saksak puso, tulo ang dugo” level. Kebs sa reaction ng makakabasa. Importante, nailabas mo ang mga hinanaing mo.

Because a broken heart, regardless of the assault, is a state that no one can judge anyone, a state that just needs to be felt and dealt with. Positively, I hope. 

I am not in any way close to heartbroken as of this writing. I may have had my share of what-is-going-on and efff-you-people not too long ago, but not even those enabled me to write something to my satisfaction. Something that could make me smile amid kadramahan. That is great writing to me. That is how I know I wrote a good one. When it gives me genuine joy regardless of the circumstance.

So before I screw up and make this yet again another one of my unfinished litanies, I will stop. 

My heart is full. I’m good.

Because for once, and finally in a very long time, I made sense. 

Tatakas ka pa? #Row4

Napadaan ka lang ng simbahan. You didn’t really intend to hear mass. Kaya ka nga panay ang tingin sa relo mo kung about time na ba to leave bago pa magsimulang kumanta ang choir ng entrance hymn.
Busy ka kasi. O busy-busyhan.

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But as you were about to “takas”, somebody gently places her hand on your right shoulder and nicely asked if you can hold the wine during the offertory.

In a heartbeat you said “Okay po”.

To quote SIDE A, ” So many questions, but the answers are so few…”

It’s a state of mind and heart of someone who is perennially confused on whether to slow down or not, whether it is right to dream big or enough na, whether it is right to set the bar high or cut those standards some slack, on whether it is okay to just be okay or strive for greatness? “Ding, ang bato!”. Ganon?

But why the confusion?

When life is glorious, no negative thought, not an ounce of doubt can creep in. It is when times are rough that we are confronted with hundreds of possibilities, of realities to make things simpler, less challenging, more comfortable than allow another day to be shaken, be disheartened and feel unloved. Unwanted. Unworthy. Mga ganong drama.

*St. Lawrence, whose martyrdom is remembered every 10th of August, a deacon who dedicated his life in serving the poor and the needy, was persecuted in his final days. The Prefect of Rome at the time, a greedy pagan, was angered when he ordered Lawrence to bring to the church the treasure that he believes is hidden away but instead brought before him the city’s poor people who the church supports.
He faced death with strength and humor knowing that it will all not be in vain.
For nothing that glorifies God is.

Iyon lang naman ‘yon.

No deed that is to ultimately bring glory to God will ever be in vain. There is beauty in every pangit that’s happening in your life. To sacrifice is a blessing. To love, the kind that endures, is a gift.
To dream and go through every hurdle to achieve that dream is difficult. So susuko ka ba? Nakakapagod, oo. Easy way out? Quit. Ganun lang naman ‘yon. If it’s not that important, KTNXBYE.
But if turning your back from that dream means you’re also giving up your purpose, aba, mag-isip ka muna. Pwera na lang kung hindi mo alam kung ano ang purpose mo.

To which Paulo Choelo strongly disagrees:

We all know what we want.
But fear tells us that’s not it. That that may not be it.”

Fear. How crippling.

Hindi kasama si misa iyong quote ni Choelo.
Naalala ko lang. This one, though, was shared by Father. It’s by Grace Hansen. Sabi niya,

Don’t be afraid your life will end; be afraid it will never begin

“.

OH MY JEH! Totoo ‘yan, Ma’am. Ano raw iyon, there are only two dates in your tombstone. But what matters, what people will remember of you, what will speak of the life you lived is in that seemingly invisible single dash that connects your date of birth to your date of death.

We come empty handed, we leave empty handed. But between this life, ano? Did you really live fully?
Ano ang ginawa mo sa buhay mo?
Are we just really bound to be happy?
Is that all there is to this?

And, yes, I maybe right or I maybe very right, but a life well lived is a life that is not self-serving.
Tatay ko selfless. Tita ko, my favorite,
selfless. My two young pamangkins left a huge message of love in the wake of their death.

In my almost 6 years of attending mass in Greenbelt chapel, today was the first time that I took part in the offertory. If you must know, it has been a desire I have secretly wished for time and again.
Ang babaw. Hahaha
Finally, it was fulfilled today. See?
Dreams do come true.

Kung sa SIGNS lang, siksik, liglig at umaapaw ang nakuha ko.

Speech obsession. Pascual’s Making a Living and Making a Life.

I am yet again caught in a situation where I am at a loss for the right words for a non-overkill sharing of my recent trip. I have to mention that Japan 2015 remains a draft up to this day and that it took me more than a year to finish my and Love’s “marathon” back in 2012. And I am not fighting this out anymore. I will just leave this be. But at least let me say that North America was not a disappointment.

So, upon my return, I know that I have to honor my silent whispers of prayer to the heavens when I was basking in the tail end Spring weather of Vancouver and the many times that I am just in awe of the wonders of nature, importance of friends, value of communication and gift of family while I was away from home.

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I have to honor my vow to not make that as my first and last. But to continue to make it to the cut and more year after year.

And because this is as far as my brain cells can take my writing about anything related to the trip, let me share with you instead portions of the speech of UP President Alfredo Pascual from the recently concluded UP Manila graduation which, believe me, is far more inspiring and conveys a strong message of truth that we all need to be reminded of.

I watched the full video of his speech as many times as it allowed me to transcribe his message as accurately possible. Ha ha ha
Sharing with you what struck me the most:
Whether you are making a living or  making a life…

Keep in mind that we make a living by what we take and get, we make a life by what we give.
Making a living is something everybody needs to do. You will realize this once you start paying your bills and doing your groceries with your own money. For some who did not worry about finances, making a living still comes as an affirmation of their status. Their ability to be productive human beings. That is why, by all means, make a living.

That is what the world expects you to do.

Having a lucrative professional practice, achieving breakthroughs, climbing the corporate ladder, building an artistic career, among many others. Any of these is a mark of what is conventionally called success. An epitome of excellence to many.

But do not overlook honor.
Ethical conduct should set the parameters of excellent work. Know that what is legal may sometimes not be right and moral. Being ethical is a way of approaching the world.
It is difficult to be honorable amidst the temptations of fast money and fame. But holding yourselves up to high standards of behavior is what builds your integrity. From the latin word integer, meaning intact or whole. You are only whole when you have honor and integrity. When your facade is the same as your inner core. (In this part, I hear fireworks everytime).

We must succeed not because we have a reputation to keep but because we have a country to serve. It is a commitment to a better nation and a better world for everyone to live in. This may not come instantly for some because you need to make a living. But as you make a living, continue to better yourselves and your capabilities. Hone your skills and expertise. Build up your career, and when you’re ready to make a life someday, you will have more to give. (Another set of fireworks here.)

Service is about attaining a sense of purpose. Which at the end of the day makes us more satisfied

.

*For transcription jobs with no deadlines, you might want to hire me. Hahaha

You race me up.

Kinarera kasi ni Kuya driver ang EDSA kanina.

That even as I write now, almost 2 hours after, I am still having acid reflux. An aftermath of the stress that I was put into from MOA to Ayala. The taxi he drives looks as ordinary as any taxi in the metro can get. The driving on the other hand reminded me of the movie Rush. Indeed, we were in a rush albeit unasked for by me, the passenger. The client. In all my cab riding life, I have encountered drivers of different personalities in the midst of traffic – heavy, moderate or light, regardless of what time of day it is. 
Most of the weird, socially awakening and  politically passionate conversations I get are from my cab rides. Not to mention the fleeting but nonetheless awkward flirtings of some drivers who just probably happen to misinterpret my being a very very nice and engaging pasehero. Yes, I’m really nice to them. Because how else do I get these strangers to speak up?

But I digress.

Back to my acid reflux culprit.

When we were crossing the Magallanes fly over, I thought we were an inch close to flying. Kasi fly over? So fly tayo? 

It was then that I politely asked him to SLOW DOWN. But my plea fell on deaf ears. We rushed past buses and cars.

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Photo from flickr.com

When we made a left turn from EDSA to Dusit Thani, I swear he was in full racer face – mouth open, his body almost on the passenger seat to his right (ganun siya ka tagilid), and as we hit a stall (Thank you Makati traffic) he banged his hands on the manuever, then tapped his fingers on his thighs and then proceeded to searching aimlessly for an FM radio channel.

A prime case of an ENERGY DRINK personified. 

One left turn away from my drop off point and we hit the red light. It was a good one minute for me to breathe and relax. As we wait for our turn to Go, a big motorbike stopped right in front of us. Out of the blue Kuya asked me, 

“Kaya mong sumakay diyan? 750 cc ‘yan. Miles ang tinatakbo niyan pero hindi ‘yan basta basta sesemplang. Ang laki ng gulong eh”.

Eyeballs rolling. Men and their toys. 

I answered, “Hindi…

racer ho ba kayo?”

Yes. Pero nalipasan na ng panahon. 

Ah

Hindi ito basta taxi lang, Miss. Naka special gas ‘to (whatever that means). Hindi ordinaryo ang makina nito. Kaya maganda ang takbo. Hindi normal (I know, right?). Kumikita na ako, masaya pa ako.

Eh pano ho kung hindi masaya ang pasahero? 

Kinabahan ka ba? (HINDI AH! Saya ko nga eh). Iyong iba nga tuwang tuwa. Lalo iyong mga naghahabol ng oras? Iyong naghahabol ng meeting, flight, sasabihin pa “Sige paliparin mo”. 

Under normal circumstances, specifically the ones he mentioned, I would have been the perfect passenger to ask for a no speed limit drive. Running late is what I am these days. But not today. Not at that moment. 

As always, do not assume. And please always drive confidently and safely. You the driver may survive it, but you might just have to head to the nearest hospital if your passenger gets a hypertension.

And the funny thing is he wouldn’t drop me off just wherever. Dapat sa unloading zone talaga. Not that he cares if I have to walk or what. It’s the violation ticket that he worries of. He said something along the lines of kailangan sundin ang batas trapiko (sa Makati). Nevermind the overspeeding and endless overtakings in EDSA no less. Nice. 

If anything, it is when I find myself in these buwis buhay circumstances where the only thing that makes me somehow worldly “at peace” is the fact that my family will be okay should I expire from the face of the earth right there. Yes, that’s a shameless Life Insurance plug. 

Seriously, when faced with situations that are out of your control, what else is there to do but pray.