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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It’s 1:45 AM and here’s something:

I am currently in my third year college, taking up BS Biology in the University of the Philippines. Every semester seems a lot tougher than the former. It drives us wild. In fact, merely remembering everything I did to surpass the hell semesters pulls me into a state of anxiety. Every after semesters, I usually end up celebrating, going out in the streets partying; after, I would come home to my parents, leave everything behind to Los Baños until I come back. It’s different this time, however.

This semester gave me a gift.

What this semester taught me is to prioritize my academics over anything else. Family could possibly outrank school, but as I recall that everything I put into work is for them, I realize sacrifices have to be made, no matter how terrible it feels. I have always been close to my ideals. I have always lived in a routine that fuels me throughout the process, making sure I never burn out. They, more often than not, actualize as extremes. A lot from my social life and hobbies end up getting offered in exchange for work, but it is a given that these ideals make me feel more satisfied than drinking and partying ever did and ever can. For a while I had been drawn apart from it. The reason why this semester has been full of breakdowns is because I failed to deem sacrifices necessary like I did. I had departed from my very understanding of sticking to my routines. I had taken a path that led me closer to mediocrity when I am trying to get my way through it.

The reason why I did not celebrate it out is because this semester, I lost more of myself than I ever have my whole life. For the past four months, it feels as though I lost myself a little each day. Moreover, the reason why this semester has been a constant dose of giving up is because I placed little value in hard work. Easy never kept me going; I believe, without a doubt, in perseverance. There is glory in that. What I have now, I had to work hard for. And I have to realize that I need to keep working. I have to keep making sacrifices. I have to offer the best of me so that I may grow. I have to get defeated in the process. I have to get hurt. I need to fail. So that I may rise and try again. It is in these moments that I find myself swim in strength, and I hope this drive will not cease. I still have a long way to go, but I am getting there.

I will get there.

I do not owe myself rest.

This whole month has left me in a floating bubble, wondering what a real, pounding heart must feel like across bare skin. I refused alcohol for weeks now. I haven’t had a single stick of Marlboro black in between my lips. It may look as if I’ve depended lifeline on drugs, but for a while they’ve been keeping me sane. And I know this blog post may look as if I’m about to tell a huge devastating story of my life, but no. Definitely, this is something else.

I woke up to an empty house on a cold Saturday morning. It did felt lonely, but it also felt good. It felt like I had no one, but it sure felt like I had myself. I’m not on a journey to self- discovery (or maybe I am) but man, have I always been so interested in living inside. So as I stretched my body and faced the window, I made myself promise.

I do not need to wait. I do not need temporary.

I have known the taste of nighttime for far too long that I have forgotten how the sun kissed my cheek and how the wind embraced my being. I have come into terms with my scour for solitude. I understand now. This is why I loved being alone. So long have I wandered around my city without tagging anyone along. Magical things happen when I’ve got no one to depend on but my own two feet and my enthusiasm. What bedazzles me as always is how often I get lost traveling around and how brave I am not to stop and ask for directions unless I am completely in a state of anxiety. I just look to my left and right and choose. And my choices have always been the right ones. I get to entrust myself to myself. I get to protect myself. I get to offer myself the kindness it deserves. I get to give her time. I get to give her the world. I get to give her vision. I do not regret my decisions.

But I do regret not giving myself the best of everything. More often than not have I fallen into the traps of sloth, mediocrity, ignorance, and passiveness for I simply do not do. This, by far, is my biggest regret. This led me to a lifelong mantra: time is deemed not a social construct; time is time and it is cruel for seeming as if it is absent.

I waste time trying to rest, believing I owe myself one. I waste time in the fraud pleasures of it. Hence, this is I, discouraging any belief that involves my being in dire need of waiting and taking sips of temporary. I need to constantly walk, take glances and experience the world in every angle. This is how I will become.

 Productivity. I have not been consistent with such. I always take in huge dosages of whatever will do to get by. I have not taken into consideration what has been provided for me to make use of to become an avatar of excellence. I like to believe I’ve only been myself when I have complete jurisdiction over my body, my thoughts, and my actions. But what I fail to recognize is I am also myself when I choose to back down and settle for alright. This is not who I am; I have always fought against temptations that will only tarnish the very innocence of my struggles and my pleas. I have always fought against myself and it seems as though I have surrendered. This is the only way I know how. It gets bloody sometimes, but having a raging battle between me and myself is better than becoming the enemy of the universe.

This is why I have always treasured my time alone. Why I always spent money for myself. Why I always think it’s worth it. Because I am always thirsty to get myself broken, to get myself dirty and to get myself to rise up and try again.

This is the kind of permanent I am aiming for.

Why I left

I was at home when I thought about it. It was a pang of realization and a puncture of pain. It was inevitable, but I had to act against inertia.

I am going nowhere. I am nowhere. I am in my hometown, a city where I grew up, and I should be happy here, but I am not. I was dying to be someplace else but that is a surprise, because I know how it feels like to be far from home. Suddenly, I am starting to feel like I’m back in 10th grade, deciding which university campus to choose. It feels horrible being away from family. And that horrible fact of being away from them makes me a monster for choosing to do something for myself; it makes me feel like I left them, sacrificed the people who made a home out of me, for becoming far greater. I should be walking towards greatness by now, except I feel way worse.

I was eaten up by a choice I willfully made which had an exemplary purpose. For a while, I thought I was a murderer for killing my spot in the family: a plate, a set of spoon and fork, a glass of water had to be put away because Rea has gone away. That, for the longest time, was who I am. I was identified to be the woman who exchanged family for education and I was done being the monster I thought I was. Because in reality, they are okay; they understand. They are rooting for the lady they believed in so much. They keep away my spot in the dining table when I’m away, but place it back right where it should be when I arrive home.

It’s been two years in college cities away from mine and this is all I came to be. This is all I had become. What a complete waste, those two years was. I refuse the guilt. I refuse to feed myself to the fangs of those voices behind my back whispering me to stay because I have long taken my flight to make myself something more, and this has been keeping me from reaching my destination. I have been on my plane for a long while- it is time to touch down.

So here I am. I will continue to work for Z Plus the same way I am willing to work for learning photography, enhancing my writing which I suppose is very much mediocre, read, and read more- be it political, be it local and international news, be it fiction. I am willing to go beyond my craft the same way I am willing to divulge and drown myself in science: biology to be specific, a field I chose to traverse and succeed. With all my heart, biology, I offer my life to you. And to my country, my Philippines, you’ve got me. Everything I do, I do for your healing.

To Mom and Dad, to my family, you are home, you will always be, but I know places that await me; I have places to be. See you back home, and I love you.

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.

I am 18. I am sorry.

I still have not figured it out.

You can say I am a product of the new era. A spirit molded by the worries of this generation which to some may refer to as whining and tremendous complaining. People place labels across my forehead, as if claiming they can fill my journey of self- fulfillment, only putting me in restriction from what they believe I am merely made of. Most humans deem their possession of such audacity to take my very humanity away from my becoming like they know better.

I do not get disgusted at all by blood oozing off women’s genitals. It’s natural; menstruation comes ticking off my mouth naturally- simply because there is nothing wrong about it. I support lovely mothers feeding their infants through their breasts which God made so beautifully to connect the product from the origin. It is a direct embodiment of life and the primary tangles of human dependence. I have absolutely no problem when people work differently as I do. Moreover, I do not hate people when they prefer a different set of clothes, or when they choose to watch movies far from what interests me.

I do converse, however, when it involves my country, the Philippines. I do communicate what I regard as just when the poor is stripped off form their rights. I never let indifference slip. I do not let my country fall under the hands of the oppressor, may it be foreign or within; in this era where the Filipino is no longer under the jurisdiction of those who claimed their conquest on the Pearl of the Orient, why would I let my country suffer more when it has suffered enough? I fight. I fight for the low- wage earners. I fight for those who have yet seen the comforts of a home. I fight for life, but I also fight for the life of the life giver. I believe in contraception, in education, in pills, in dignity, in discipline. When I say I fight for life, I mean I fight for every race Earth cradles because every person from every ethnicity breathe; they are humans: we are made of the same skin, of the same cells- we take in the same element. Moreover, I fight for life and its sanctity; the animals and the planet are of essence to protect. I fight for involvement. I fight for the accused who have gone naked from their very right to receive a spot in court. I fight for the people; I fight to serve the people; I am still fighting because the people who should be serving their countrymen are serving themselves. Skilled, extraordinary, proficient, men and women deserve a seat in office; instead, sexist, fascist, and incompetent people hold these positions. I fight for girls who are boys, for boys who are girls, and for those who refuse to encase their expression in a universe that have made something so wide into something so minimal. I fight for an emancipation that the former recognize as odd and unnecessary.

Yes, you’re probably correct. I have not met grounds for becoming the successful one the past era makes me persevere to meet; I still have not found the secret behind being Mark Zuckerberg and earning on my own at age 18. I work hard, nevertheless, to be less of a burden for my parents. But I have explored alone, read alone, chose to be alone, so I could see the world from a clearer lens, making a spot for myself to traverse this universe, my universe, without disregarding the credibility of the identity of the living and the place I call home. I chose to travel with my own two feet, so I could immerse myself in the simplicity of time and complexity of human race. I have known struggle but I have not known enough of it. I have tasted ease and comfort but others have not. That is why I strive to walk further, making use of all that I have so I can live a life for others, so that they, too, may get a hold of the life they deserve. I carry this responsibility with pride and honor.

I apologize, for not meeting the standards of those who came before me. But I will not apologize for how ravishingly I came to be. I will not apologize for being so different that it disgusts them, for being so unusual that they start calling me as rude and sensitive and a waste of time and money and space.

I still haven’t figured it out- the path that leads to becoming a machine that those who assert they have power can simply manipulate.

I probably never will.

What I Believe In

I like to believe that I’m off to med school in two years’ time. If not for my irrationality, I would have not landed in a course I won’t be pursuing in the first place.

I like to believe in the hideous idea that the four kings and queens of old will make it back to Narnia and save the god forsaken land. I like to believe that fiction, if I think of it hard enough, dream about it almost every night, then it would actually come true.

I like to believe in truth.

Yesterday, when I was looking at all the vintage finds I have snuggled at every garage sale in the city, I thought about how much shit I took out when you left.

You gave me so much that I had to pull out everything in my room that day.

I was on the floor, crying, my mom knocking on the door.

I was on the floor, grasping for air, or not anymore, I cannot possibly remember- surprisingly- like how I could no longer remember you; I could only remember you in multiple proportions. Maybe I’ve had too much chemistry to start thinking about Dalton and the Laws of Matter. I wish I would have; that way, I wouldn’t think too much about you.

I remember you though, “hey, if ever we broke up, and you throw away all the things I gave you, I’m going to get real mad.” What a foolish thing for me to believe that you would. You see, I was still scared. I was still scared of you getting mad at me. I wish you would; instead of not caring at all. That hurt me. With the same gravity of pain. With the same weight as heavy as the whole world could ever make me carry.

I look at all my vinyls piled up on the corner of my room, thinking that if our story were placed on one of those tracks, the needle on my turntable would have probably cracked because it’s always on repeat. I think about my room, how many ancient things I love I placed in here. I’ve always been in love with the past, even wishing that the amount of stale would replace the past I had with you. This was history, and I loved it, except when I still had you.

When I still had you, I was in love with the future. I prayed to God three times a day. One in the morning, when I hear you whisper “wake up, you’re going to be late.” One at noon, hoping God hears me more than all the people praying that instant, only for you to pass your anatomy exam. And finally, one at night, when after a long, tiring fight, you still have your head rested upon my chest. So innocent; so sure about what our tomorrow will be.

Now, I pray to God every single moment of every day, “please, Lord, let me think about something else.”

Yesterday, when I was looking at all the things I have summoned into my room to cover up the scent of your perfume, I thought about not thinking about you. That finally, it’s been a while since I last thought about you. That at last, I was too busy to think about how I missed you, and how you don’t. How happy you are in the arms of your new home. But thinking about not thinking about you makes me cringe even more, because I just did. I just thought about you. Again.

I like to believe in the now. I like to believe in something real. That I am my own person, that I am not living a lie. But it can never be more difficult than now. I would have given up anything for you to be nothing but an eye contact; a chapter skipped; a plan A that could never be. I would have given up anything, because in the now that I am in, you are taking so much of my time. You are taking so much of my space, that even as I took all of you out of me, you still left me with every day.

I still have every day with you.

I like to believe I have let you go. Problem is, every day.


This is a piece that is very close to me. I wrote this leaving very few edits. This is as raw as can be. Hopefully, this will be the last of its kind.

Good luck to all of us.