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.

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Time Check: 2:28 AM

These have been, by far, two of the worst nights of my life.

I am currently taking mid year classes under General Chemistry II (Chem 17 and Chem 17.1) to at least compensate for my delay. I shifted into BS Biology from BA Communication Arts so there is really much I have to catch up on, considering I have lived through GE* courses the first year and a half of college. Taking two months from my vacation, this decision did not really give me a hard time. I really had to do it. I enlisted and enrolled myself then, without any idea that it might be hard for me.

The dormitory I stay in transferred me to my old room and building, where some unwanted memories took place. In addition, the room is smaller and it looks awful (my latter room is bright, clean, spacious, cozy). Dormers are fighting over seats in the lobby for internet connection. But the worst of all is, my roommate, whom I have completely no idea of, does not sleep in at night and comes in the morning when I’m taking naps to boost energy for my four hour laboratory class! She coughs loudly so bad, goes in and out of our comfort room (which makes stupid noises), and leaves her food (without any cover) on her desk. I’d prefer to sleep knowing there’s a person on the bed across mine. I miss Krizia, the only roommate I ever had in Los Baños*. We both know each other enough to know how to adjust.

When I’m at class with my friends, I don’t get sad at all. Unless there’s a quiz which I studied for and yet still get a low score. At night, when I come home, the loneliness and the emptiness and every other disgusting feeling there is come creeping in and embrace every ounce of my being. I try to focus on my academics but it’s hard when I’m sad.

I have no other way to say what I’m feeling but sad. I miss my family back home. I miss my friends back home. I miss the liveliness of this place. I miss the regular semester when I could breathe from time to time. As of now, there is always something to submit the day after, a quiz the day after, for four whole months of chemistry are packed into two. I miss regular school days when I could watch American and Asian TV series on end and still attend my 8 AM class and sleep after that, as permitted by my schedule. I miss not having to think about what I could possibly do alone. I miss not having to think about the silence and how rudely loud it is. It’s deafening. I have been out of the house, living everywhere for quite some time now, that I have forgotten how to live by myself.

I could cry. Release all this. But I can’t. There is no explaining that. Instead, I seek refuge in the soothing words of my mother as I always see to it to talk to her before she goes to bed.

I wish I could find a way to make this feeling stop.

I wish I could find a way to stop being so disappointed with myself with my low performance at school. I wish I could stop comparing myself to others and just do me at my own pace. But it’s hard getting my mind straight when there is no other voice to hear but the cruelty of mine.

Good night.


*GE: General Education

*Los Baños: An urban municipality in Laguna, CALABARZON, Philippines

The Hundredth

I believe in the good. When I talk about good, I mean enough. A century would have passed, and like the unfamiliar scent of a deserted island, the Filipino would have enough. What they have enough of is food, shelter, and transportation. A family- with truth- stricken variety- will have food that would cater its members for three times a day or more, shelter sturdy enough to not let monsoons behead homes- a house made of concrete walls and cement, with suitable ventilation, and virtuous government- subsidized technology- and transportation where the rich ride with the poor. This is not too much for a century to have transpired- war attacks by foreign lands here and there, reigning victorious yet a little broken, our Philippines is. This is not too big of a change, but it is good. It is enough.

The Filipino Farmer- once in desperate of rice to eat, once in dire need of lands to plant on, money to garner more seeds, once handed over to a hurricane of bullets- at present, lives in the good. When I mention good, I mean enough. They have their own respective hectares of lands to plant as many root crops as they desire, to bring the whole nation meal on their plates, to cultivate long rooted dreams as they receive ample education to experiment with new planting techniques, to research more on organic matter upheld as fertilizers. The Filipino Farmer, by this time, is a scientist.

Cardboard justice serves victims no good. Drug users, under the law, shall recover under the custody of rehabilitators and not under the hands of those with guns and falsified power. The Filipino Victim deserves good. When I discuss of good, I mean enough. The Filipino Victim receives medicine, at only the right amounts, and daily consultation with recognized physicians and psychologists. The Filipino Victim is endowed with respect by his caretakers, such as a mother loves her child. The Filipino Victim is not dead.

I believe in better. When I disclose what better stands for, I mean the government is replaced by the grandsons of the millennials, those who fought for and opposed the murderer buried among those whose blood relentlessly poured for the flag with three stars and a sun and is raised every morning to welcome the light of dawn. When I state my belief in better, I mean that the arts is duly conceded as a body of knowledge necessary to supplement humankind with guts and bravery and a horizon extending outwardly, enticing the Filipino, regardless of where they stand and sector they represent, to aspire of something greater than the sunrise before them. I also imply that the Filipino receives his very right to health care, to marry, to save a broken family, to get into a job fit for the demands of his responsibilities including kin, identity, and country, to speak up for himself when subjected to criminal screening, to vote and receive the truth about his vote, to acquire honesty from those in command, and most importantly, to education. The Filipino deserves better. The Filipino now holds, a century later, what those that came before them never had, but sincerely, with the dignity they refuse to let loose, begged for.

I believe in the best. What best cradles for me is the Filipino Youth. A century later, the Filipino would have stopped counting for the day the children Dr. Jose Rizal claims as the hope of our country arrived. They have long came, generations over, only in few chosen souls, not permitting a change earlier than now, where the best of youth has gathered in outraging number, excelling in the fields of engineering and mathematics, medicine and law, arts and theatre. These outstanding youth, however, are not the best solely because they have embarked on the journey of the Renaissance man; but because they embody a light that sets them apart from the rest. They know what to fight for and how to fight for it; the Filipino Youth fights the hardest.

The Filipino Youth is raised by a century of outpouring revolutions from the pain and triumphs of their forefathers. It has been a long process. Good is enough. But more than that, we deserve better, and now, after all these years, we have the best.


I wrote this essay for my PI 10 class. It is my version of Dr. Jose Rizal’s Philippines: A Century Hence. I thought I might share it, even if my Professor probably did not find it interesting enough, nor if it is any good.

The independence we have today is a fraud; we can all do better than this. Nevertheless, although far from sufficient, much has changed since the colonial period.

Happy Independence Day, my Philippines. We will work hard for your freedom.

A Shiftee Confesses

Days and days without end. Words were my capital: sewing them together brought me closer to the finish line, which meant the clock has gravitated back to the start. It has always been the same thing, but I enjoyed it. Speeches, here and there. We had to produce. We had to create. I had to use my imagination to the extent, push it even further, make it bleed, and still, despite all the pouring out and provocative illusions, I had to learn more. Get to experience more. Understand more. The human psyche is one to disappoint. We were made to swallow our past beliefs and recreate them into a new purpose, because every revelation is a revelation! Every spoken statement our professor makes is a surprise. A shock. An addition to our big, big bubble that has yet fit the criteria of enough. However, more than writing, more than speaking, we were made to read. And that, I think, is where we gather our pride. Where our conscience lie. We read. And read. And read more. Then we ask questions.

I took up BA Communication Arts in the University of the Philippines Los Baños. This wasn’t my first choice. But I had no choice, after all; when I entered my dream university, I was placed under “degree program with available slot.” It didn’t matter to me, as long as I got into the state university. But I must admit: it did hurt a little- not getting into the degree program I wanted.  That is why, after a year, I shifted to BS Biology. It was a long process, but I managed. I wanted to pursue medicine.

From the arts to the sciences.

It’s not that different. But it is different.

Days and days without end. Data and inferences were my capital: sewing them together brought me closer to the finish line, which meant the clock has gravitated back to the start. It has always been the same thing, but I enjoyed it. Experiments, here and there. We had to produce. We had to create. I had to use my imagination to the extent, push it even further, make it bleed, and still, despite all the pouring out and provocative observations, I had to learn more. Get to experience more. Understand more. The human reasoning is one to disappoint. We were made to swallow our prejudices and recreate them into a new purpose, because every revelation is a revelation! Every spoken statement our professor makes is a surprise. A shock. An addition to our big, big bubble that has yet fit the criteria of enough. However, more than the mastery of the scientific method, we were made to read. And that, I think, is where we gather our pride. Where our conscience lie. We read. And read. And read more. Then we ask questions.

See, it’s not at all different.

But it is. 

I have to deal with microbes as tiny as an alternate universe would have had me think. I have to stain them, count fifteen seconds to thirty, so the dye would stick. I have to kill them. After observing using the hanging drop technique, I have to let them go. Perform sterilization. Hold the wire loop with a calibration of less than a centimeter. I have to disinfect. Before and after doing required procedures.

I have to wear lab gowns now. Find where the copper went. Mix sodium carbonate with some other salt to know which element is soluble. Which is insoluble. I have to wear jeans, every time I perform experiments. Never mind the heat. Never mind the humidity. I had to stay in the laboratory three hours a day. Sometimes six. And it wouldn’t matter, I wouldn’t notice time. Because I enjoyed it.

I remember being inside my dormitory, drinking my tea, looking at the time. I remember feeling incomplete as I write my essay due in about four hours. I remember begging for that something to fill in the empty. I remember asking what if.

And now, I have it. I’ve got the best of both worlds, although they did feel the worst, at some point. I regret none of my choices.

I am on to my track. The road that leads to that MD acquisition. I carry with me, nevertheless, the fruits and downhills of my battles with the arts. It will always be engrossed dearly within me. I have grown fonder of the things I have lost, but now I come to realize, I have not lost it at all.