A piece from 2017

I cannot bring myself to commit.

A prodigious part of my spirit has been devoted to the idea of continuous, permanent, constant. I have always drawn myself to the idea of untarnished growth. This, however, has been nothing but an idea.

This is what I hate most about myself. I have always had this huge, sparkly moments of lucidity, ever so certain about where I’m headed to next, or where I’m supposed to end up- convinced that I am content. Never has it been perpetual, though, in whatever way.

As a college student taking up a pre- med course, I always have to orient my mindset to get through tons of experiments one after another; I would have to channel my mind to patience and will for miserable laboratory classes from 7 AM to 7 PM. I would need to prepare my body for a repetition of scientific inquiry. And then I would stop along the way and feel uninspired. It has always been a battle of what I can muster as of the moment to what I am willing to give. I am a firm believer of sacrificing so much for something you believe to be of worth because in the long run, you would be thankful you didn’t sleep for a whole week or you missed a family gathering on Halloween for an exam you barely you even pass. I need to give up a huge part of me so I could serve others. I need to give up the pleasures of my teenage years because no matter how hard I try to persuade myself that this is the way to live life happily with no regrets, I would always feel unfulfilled- lacking, even- at the end of the day.

I give up too easily. I get way too drained in a short span of time. I get too insecure of my peers that I lose interest in giving more and doing more because I always feel inferior. In my university, competing for perfection is the standard. And I cannot settle with battling for perfection because in the first place, I feel as though I am behind. And while it feels unfair, it is not. My coping mechanisms, my studying routines are way too mediocre for competition. That is why amidst being so firm with my notion of success, I cannot get there.

It is a must, therefore, that I offer myself forgiveness for all the times I chose to bail. I have not been who I was with consistency. I need to find my route that would not delay my time and my strength.

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20

I am about to leave behind the wonders and hurdles of being a teen. Although I still have a lot of tickets to earn before I reach maturity, I am officially taking the fundamental step to achieving it.

In absurd human years, I am about to turn 20. I have a month and 3 days before I become one of those “adulting, confused, twenties who are barely getting by.” I have this stretch of time to get a few things done in my teens. So why not make a list? Like what the rest of human kind probably thought about when they were my age. It makes life more worth living. The thrills, the adrenaline. The wrong decisions. That, upon looking back, weren’t very wrong at all.

Henceforth:

Here are 20 things I ought to do before I turn 20.

1. Get more ear piercings.

2. Get a nose piercing.

3. Get a tattoo.

4. Cliff dive!

5. Make a playlist (because you have never done one, yet badly need it); this shall forever be your go- to. When you’re sad. When you’re happy. When you’re drunk. Choose wisely.

6. Watch films in the local cinema: Cinematheque, Cinema76.

7. Explore hidden bars.

8. Attend a gigs and/or open mic sessions.

9. Hike.

10. Buy a 20-peso ukay find. The only possible options are: polo, jeans, cap.

11. Backpacking!

12. Donate. Or make a homeless person happy.

13. Write a letter to yourself (using a typewriter).

14. Do a photowalk around places you love. Taking pictures of people you cherish. Make an album. Hand them printouts of these. With letters at the back.

15. Visit a good cafe from a far-away place. And leave a note to a stranger.

16. Make it a habit to say “po” and “opo” to Mom and Dad.

17. Maintain good skin care habits.

18. Maintain a good diet.

19. To smoke weed.

20. To walk away from things not meant for me.

Unfiltered #02

I wish I knew when to look away.

A safe distance is all I ever get to keep.


So this is what you get after a toxic relationship.

At first you open yourself up in the hopes that you might turn out fine- that perhaps you are okay- and if you are not, at least you will be. You surrender yourself to the wheels of decision making and trust yourself in whatever lands. For a while, it gets messy, but you assure yourself that this is growth; it’s messy, but you’re growing anyway. You surrender yourself to endless nights and give yourself up to vodka bottles and beer sessions like the tip of the bottle is all you ever kissed your whole life. You promise yourself that you’re going to get better, that perhaps there was some other way to cope, but this is the best way how. Repeatedly, without hearing the little echoes in your head telling you to stop and settle down and finally live a life outside the walls of a drunken home.

And then someone comes along.

And yes, you start from the beginning. You start thinking, “this is exactly how it started with the other.” And it scares you more than it leaves you hoping that maybe, just maybe, he might like you too.

He comes along and you start looking for him at places you never sought comfort from. You knew just how much you hated this place but God! With him around you feel like this is home. Perhaps, this could be home. With him around- hey, maybe you’ll even stay. Stay. When all you ever did was run away, move, settle for temporary.

He comes along and the game changes. Your days become longer and nights jive with sunlight and you start wondering how you ever slept with such a empty heart.

You look at him, and ask why.

I, with utmost sincerity, wish I knew when to look away. Because so many girls already have their eyes on you. And I’m not one to chase. To mingle with all the others just to get to you.

But God, you don’t know how much I want to try. You make me want to try. All over again. You make me want to set aside hurting just to get close to you. You make me doubt in the belief of truth. In the very naked truth that you will never come to like me.

You make me want to try.

I seldom try.

But you came along. Of all people, you came along and made me want to try.

But I am afraid. I am afraid of being pushed aside. I am afraid of getting turned down. I am afraid of not trying but more so in trying. I am afraid. I am so afraid that I shut myself down. Completely.


I can only look at you.

A safe distance is all I ever get to keep.

UNFILTERED #01

I lose myself  a lot more than I should.

Lately, I am more of the sum of the way I love other people, care for them, than how I value myself. I see myself more of the way other people perceive of me to be.

I am tired of being everyone’s go-to person. I am tired of having to carry all of the weight they should be carrying themselves. I am so tired of having this wall built around me. I am so tired of shallow talks and beneath the surface conversations. I am not made of anything smooth. I am not worth your time if your time is meant for random hello’s and goodbye’s and damn! I am just so exhausted from having to keep smiling when I want to talk. I want someone to spill stories to. I want a reason to write and speak and laugh. I want a reason to cry. I want a reason to feel. I cannot keep pretending I do not need someone. I need someone. I am in need of someone to be my own ray of happy, the good in the morning, the sweet found in my coffee, the bliss of my nights and the comfort of my sheets; I do not need someone to kiss. I need a hand to hold.

I think I have found solitude in the amount of days that gone by. I bring myself home from drunken nights and rise to the brightness of the day- alone. And for unsolicited moments, I am okay. I am more than fine. I have managed to find sanctity in the glory of walking alone, of seeking isolation, of seeing how it is necessary and beneficial. I refused to give in to the feeling of needing home because I believed I am my own family. I found love in my Mom and Dad, in my few best friends. I have found love in my program. I found love in everything my heart opened itself to. I have forgotten, however, that loving my family and getting loved in return are the basics to yearning for something more. And now it’s too late- because as I am content by myself, I start realizing I can never be truly happy living with the fact.

Letters

When all of this is over, I just want to stand up straight, look my future colleagues, my parents whom I pretty much owe everything to, the people I serve, and above all, myself, in the eyes, and tell them as simply as how my heart is calm and content, that I upheld my honor through the years of recurring, dispiriting, unforgiving journey.

It’s been three years. I still feel gloriously in awe of how possibly, the universe read and prompted to accept my woes as a human incapable of living within the corners of good and just. Really, how in this complex and vast time- space continuum did I make it to one of the best universities in the world, when I’m an average, occasionally flunking, lacking, ordinary teenager? I sure could have been useful in the revolutionary path, considering I have quite a history of standing my ground to never, not in a million years, merely follow. Other than that, it was a mystery as to how I got accepted in the State University. In fact, three years after, I still wonder; I never imagined myself nearing the end.

I held on to my belief that my purpose in this life (because perhaps there is another I might get to live but definitely, my chances are slim) is to cure others of their inability to live and do daily work under normal conditions, or, conceivably, to help them live with that, to aid my countrymen in achieving a healthier life in terms where the marginalized is a priority. To succeed, in my terms, is to see others live more comfortably, to perceive others, the ones they care for and care for them included, breath more easily, because I have offered them years of mastery in my chosen field- medicine. I believed in that. Surely, there are times (probably more times than I have been assured) when I would get uninspired, unmotivated, only left with the scraps of my lapses and incompetence as an undergraduate. If I didn’t do good now by getting grades above satisfactory, what could I even help others with in the future? I could never settle for mediocre, or even less than perfect; medicine required precision, accuracy, ethical judgment; there is simply no room for mistake. Often times I would stare at my returned worksheets, exams, and quizzes, and wonder in the name of all goodness, what more shall I sacrifice to push myself harder than my limit, only to be good enough?

Here I stand, anyway.

Amidst the falling debris molded from constant grades close to three (or as we call it, the golden tres).

All my best friends, co- members in my organizations, my classmates, people I grew up with or met in college were naturally very intelligent, academics- wise. You can say I was insecure; mound of reviewers, hours of studying, moments I neglected sleep to craft scientific papers and finish exercises always weigh to nothing because I still get failing marks in return.

I knew I was not stupid, though. This system of repeated failures just framed my habits and my thinking to settle for far less than what I am made of and what I can still attain. Years of Benedictine education (what I received from attending a Catholic institution for secondary education) did not sculpt me to be alright with failure, much more with giving up and not trying. Now that I am in a university with higher standards, I am expected way more. I get to realize this now- three years after. The reason why I end up unhappy and mediocre, more often than not, is because I settle. I live with the fact that I am okay with unsatisfactory.

These moments of constant failure strive me to re- evaluate my routine. My mindset. My faith in myself, in my program, in our mantra Honor & Excellence, in my God. Because it’s true anyway: I cannot graduate, end this chapter of my life, and finish this academic journey without understanding that some of my study habits don’t work. The ways I reward myself do not work. My every day mantra, my disposition as of current, do not work. My hard work doesn’t pay off not because it is not enough, but because I do not redesign the blueprint of my voyage to achieve greater, substantial altitudes.

I doze off in class, choose to take advantage of the privileges I have to make excuses. I rest more than I deserve to. I choose to stay passive of the lessons I am faced with as a student. I choose to not stay religious with listening and with managing my time. I have eminent shortcomings and I choose to ignore them. I seem unworthy because I do not reinvent myself. I do not challenge myself. I do not let go of things hindering my growth. I choose to limit myself in a world that I was never meant to grow fondly of.

This is me. And I am making a letter of grace because God granted my prayers of receiving an education from the University of the Philippines. I am sending out a letter to my Creator, for He is constant in His presence, for He has guided me relentlessly, significantly more in dire need, such as times like this. He is the source of my strength, the cause of my refinement, hopefully to become a better version of myself. Moreover, this is me, sending out a letter that perhaps, the universe might grant, under its light, one more time; a request to help me live differently, in so a manner where others might benefit from my existence, in a way that I am worthy of their plead for help, in such a length that I know, from the core of my dignity and conscience, that I lived and shall live a life of purpose in honor and excellence.

As is Tradition: NY’s Resolutions

I have done countless lists of New Year’s Resolutions for the past 18 (almost 19) years. None of them seem to be attainable enough; or have I, once more, generated excuses as to why I have not achieved each one of them? Time sure is a constraint in all the goals I have previously cast upon myself. It still is a challenge to my checklist this 2018. If there is a thing that I altered, however, is it that of them being obtainable enough. These are simple tasks I must accomplish before the year ends. I set the bar low, but that’s because I plan on exceeding limits.

I suppose this tradition has survived through generations for it is grounded on hope. Humans, most of the time, find themselves hoping for while we cannot trust probabilities and their consequences, we can trust on what will drive us to positivity. So, this is I, commencing my hoping.

I share with you the promises I must keep.

Cheers, 2018.

1. Stick to my skin care routine

2. Read the bible every day- preferably upon waking up or before going to bed

3. Remain updated with the news

4. Read a few pages of a book every day to accomplish the task of reading 100 books in a span of 365 days

5. Review every after class discussions or rewrite

6. Do assignments or projects beforehand

7. Review (intensive studying) for exams the weekend before

8. Always come home to Marikina on weekends

9. Open yourself to joining more organisations (academic, socio- civic, etc)

10. Less alcohol!

11. Sleep at least 6- 8 hours a day to maintain clear skin

12. Avoid watching series, as much as possible

13. Talk less on social media accounts, post less online

14 Visit Museums

– National Museum of Anthropology

– Museum along Faura, Contemporary Museum in Sta Ana

15. Travel twice this year (local and international)

16. Buy less stuff I will not be using long term

17. Make a diary

18. Update this blog as often as I could

19. Watch 100 (or at least) films (preferably local & international indie films) in 365 days

20. Buy a camera

21. Make a vlog, see how it turns out

22. Learn more about fashion and business by reading at least 3 books about them and attending at least 3 conferences or symposiums

23. Lose 10 kilograms!

24. Visit art galleries

25. Explore Manila (Binondo, Escolta, etc.)

26. Visit at least a zoo this year!

2017 Run Through

It has been a sail unworthy to be called smooth. My canoe had sunk too many times amidst the constant trying; I might have drowned a little, too. This voyage made my muscles sore. I heard my bones crack from the waves urging me to head back to shore. My mind was my sole enemy, for who else would I be fighting in this journey alone? I would really love not to mention how my heart has lost its very beat from the every day battles I had to endure. But alas, it has to be spoken of.

This is my attempt to record the sinking, drowning, rowing, and the rummage for air, while I still can remember. As I go back and read this one day, I will know I existed, in this moment in time. Survived. It will then be definite and irrefutable: I had not let the waters whelm my travel, more so my very will.

I welcomed 2017 with a heart unwell and broken.

January was my birth month. I was turning eighteen then. I was left with no time to plan my dream debut for I was too occupied with moping and being sad. Imagine opening your arms to adulthood, wishing there had been someone to hold your hand while you do it. It went on for a few months. I would catch myself thinking about a love that lasted for years, wondering how it would cause two people to hurt each other with the same passion. It was one of the hardest calamities I have ever come to live through. I never understood a love so brutal, tough, and unkind. For a whole year, I tried making sense of it, but I am nowhere near to having the case rested. I believe now, that there are some questions I am to figure some day, or not at all. To this day, I am still hurting. Not because we chose differently nor because I was left with broken promises, but since I believe my heart still questions. It still asks, but it no longer yearns. It mourns when it remembers. It forgets. It forgives. I loved fully, and I am sure she did, too. I am certain. Our brief love story had a fate that was never meant to last, and I find utmost and sincere bliss for I had seen she was content letting me go, even more because I was able to become closer to the woman I aspired and needed to be. As I constantly put it, it was a must that I lose so I must become.

This moment of acceptance is the moment I glide through the stormy heavens smashing hard on ice cold water. It was a choice I had to make to stay alive.

I had the worst semesters of my life.

From January to December 2017 I was studying non stop. It was hard coping with my time schedule, considering I came from the humanities (from barely having laboratory classes for six hours in the heat required by dreading experiments) to the sciences. Also, I took mid year classes, leaving me with barely three weeks to rest the whole year, plus my December break. I know: I should be thankful for the case is worse for other students. I would not like to invalidate my adjustments, nevertheless, for what I went through isn’t that as easy. This year, I experienced the extreme. I studied a lot, made reviewers, beat myself up settling for mediocrity, whispered to myself, “you’ll never be good enough” out of disappointment and frustration; I memorised, analyzed, computed all day long, skipped family gatherings, neglected rest, broke down, got sick. Still, after everything, I would barely pass. It was as if I was just lucky to make it through the passing mark. I was never equipped to fail and settle for failure, nor was I prepared for it. I was taught to succeed. Every time. This year I had managed to take few sips of this long, academic journey and realize this is only the beginning.

It was also high time for me to oversee what my plans for the future are. I loved teaching at an early age, but I could never give up my love for medicine. I am still trying to surmise if getting a PhD and a degree in medicine would be feasible.

I carried on, all the same.

I lost friends.

They say maturity has always involved choosing to keep your circles small. Growing older would require ending friendships for whatever reason. But I lost mine for a reason I’d like to keep private. When losing them hurt so much, I knew- for the very short time we’ve known each other- I had already loved all of them. If they ever come to read this (I doubt circumstances would), I want them to realize that they were those friends I lost along the way. I sure had my own share of wrong doing. That is why I still remember them up to now; everything I do for my betterment had become a part of my offering my apologies. I grew even more fonder of them at the time I spent without having them around.

Then again, there are certain types of friends you know were nothing but a mere full blown season. They were there for some part of the trip, but they had to alight sooner than expected. They may have caused conflict that simply cannot be reconciled. Or simply because you know deep down, the connection can last no longer. You may see yourself checking them from time to time, and they may also check up on you. But it will be nothing more than that. Common courtesy, and the art of being civil.

My insecurities grew larger.

I gained a lot of weight. You know how family members are with comments; most of them would tell me I’ve gained so much in a very offensive manner. While it’s true, I get hurt sometimes. I couldn’t handle academic stress wisely, hence the eating. Moreover, I was always very religious with my skin care routine but this year, it just didn’t work. I would spend so much and yet the results are not as sharp as its cost. I was really frustrated with myself. I hated myself for all of it.

I knew I was the captain of my ship, anyway. I had to do something.

I lost my grandmother days before Christmas.

I’m putting this last because this is the hardest to talk about.

I have no words for the woman she has been.

My father and his family have always been traditional and Christ- centered, following the philosophy of the Catholic Church. While I already see flaws in my religion, I remain as one because I was raised to be, and because I was taught, from the beginning, to love my God. I am firm this is not hypocrisy- for I still believe in the Holy Spirit- that the people may change- not in their faith, but in the way they practice their religion. Going back, I had to mention this for the woman who influenced me most about knowing the Lord is my grandmother. She would always make me recite the Holy Rosary, along with other prayers. More than Graduation rites, what would make her elated is my receiving the holy sacraments. She would get all giddy when I talk about attending mass and being a reader from time to time in our First Friday mass at school. She would never impose, but she would teach.

I will always remember her smiling. I never saw her cry, nor in pain. I never got to see her when she was struggling the last few days of her life- and maybe this was a blessing for me; maybe God spared me from seeing her in pain, so I could always remember her happy. It saddened me, without a doubt, when I didn’t get to visit her in the ICU. I was studying too far from home, I didn’t have the chance to bade her good bye.

The night I had learned she died, I kept quiet. I talked with my Mom over text messages to receive updates with everything going on in my grandparents’ home. I was in shock, I guess. I never saw it coming. She was strong. She wasn’t going to let go. We were all used to her coming home after trips to the hospital. We were used to her coming home.

I had to be strong for Dad. I had to endure sleepless nights at Lola’s wake, so I could handle everything else Dad might worry about. I volunteered to stay and sleep with Lola during her wake. I had to be busy so I could avoid the pain of her gone. I didn’t feel the regret, the loss, the agony, until my last look at her. That was the moment I felt the urgency and the weight of letting go.

We all knew Dad was her favorite. Dad was everything Lola was. Extraordinary. With her gone, I knew a part of him died, too. During the week of her wake, I would always see Lolo peek at Lola’s casket and talk to her from day one to her increment. He would cry. Break down. For 53 years, they had been waking up in each others’ arms. It was new to him to wake up alone with no one to talk to. Ultimately, loss was a new feeling to Dad’s family and ours. We all miss her dearly, to this day. We will, for our whole lives.


Lola,

Thank you for the woman you have curated yourself to be. You will always be family- our source of strength, kindness, patience, reverence and faith. You deserved more. But knowing the life you had lived of simplicity, we are assured His love and grace is already enough for you in your lifetime.

Pray for us always.

Rest; worry not for we will be fine.

Your ease is ours, too.

We love you Nanay.


I offer you grace, 2017.  I am thankful for the time you had lent me to build up strength and wisdom. You are an inch of history I am about to conclude. Be my platform to rise.