Monthly Archives: August 2012

Here We Go Again

I don’t know where you are in the morning of August 7. But I can assure you one thing: that I cannot forget that day.

It was raining for weeks. I hardly saw the sun in two weeks. It made me hate myself for buying expensive makeup products with high SPFs when I could hardly see the sun. I also hate the feeling of hating something I really love. I love the rain. I am madly in love with it. But now, I was madly in love with it. My passion that burns for it in my heart was extinguished by it. I shall never forget how the heaven cried for weeks but most especially on the morning of August 7. It wailed like a girl who was left by a girl who was left by a boy she truly loves without any answer to the questions in her heart. No words could comfort that rain. It would pause for two minutes then resume dousing the earth.

But it wasn’t the rain that made August 7, 2012 unforgettable. It was when we wake up because by a very loud siren. The creek would overflow again. Our parents went to our room and instructed us to pack some clothes because we need to evacuate soon. My uncle and auntie who lives in West Fairview were outside our door and was about to fetch us. We immediately pack some clothes and some things we needed for school and work, place them to whatever bag we could find and put them to our vehicles. But it was one of the most frightening moments in my life ever because for the very first time ever, I felt that I was running for my life. In a matter of minutes, you could feel the water rise from beneath your feet to sinking it entirely. You know that the water is not coming only from the rain but also from another force. With the creek starting to overflow and the rain refusing to stop that morning, you know that you are being trapped. Worst, you can see other people run for their lives especially the squatters who live nearby the creek. They went in our subdivision bringing their little belongings and some of their pigs they raise for extra income. Soon after that, we left bringing nothing but two of our vehicles plus some clothes. Unfortunately for my mother, my father forgot her things. My brother did not pack anything at all because he believes that Ondoy will never happen again.

How I wish my brother was right that day.

All of us hardly slept but I was specifically more tired. In forty-eight hours, I hardly had any sleep. Maybe I had about four-hour worth of sleep collectively. I was studying for my exam that was due on Monday evening but when we were in school that afternoon, the class was suspended. We were driven to safety but we were restless. As soon as we arrived in our uncle’s place, I immediately switched it to news. A lot of bad news was in it like how the dams and rivers overflow with so much water and how so much people run for their lives bringing nothing with them but the clothes they are wearing. I went on-line to twitter and saw tweets and retweets by people asking for help to rescue them or their loved ones who are trapped in their houses. Later, the power went off. My parents advised me to sleep because there is pretty much nothing to do. But I hardly caught any wink. The rain was falling nonstop. There is hardly any wind as it is not a typhoon. It was merely a habagat or a southwest monsoon. However, the monsoon did not just bring any ordinary type of rain. It bought us rainfall which lashed and battered to sinking the whole Metro Manila and the nearby provinces. That day was specifically slow. You cannot do anything but wait. You have some reading materials for school but you can’t comprehend a word written in it. Later, we tried praying the rosary but the rain showed no signs of stopping.

Later, my brother received texts from his classmate who lives in our subdivision, too. She gives him updates how she sees the water rise in their house. The peak was, “five steps more until it reach our second floor.” We know one thing is certain: our house probably suffered more or less the same damage. We have no choice but to accept such sad and unfortunate fact but we prayed that hopefully, it won’t reach our second floor. When Ondoy hit us back in September 26, 2009, the flood water reached up to my neck in our second floor. Not only did we lose practically everything but for one week, we have nothing dry to wear and lived the entire week using clothes from relief goods or donations by friends and relatives.

The next day, the sun wasn’t shining but at least the rain stopped. When I woke up, I found out that my parents and our house helper were already at our home. I woke up my brother and sister and we went to our home. It did not really depress us. I mean, it would have depressed us but the damage it had caused was nowhere near Ondoy. Also, there is no more flood water and no debris accumulated in front of our house. About one foot more and it would have reached the ceiling of the first floor. Thank God, it didn’t. Also, almost all our prized possessions were on the second floor. Because of that, I didn’t complain on cleaning. I was actually I was cleaning.

My parents said that they will be staying in our house of the night even if everything was still a big mess downstairs and brought me and my siblings back to my uncle’s house. Everything went well but the rain emerged again in the afternoon. It was strong, similar to that of August 7. Later, that night, though, we were surprised that my parents turn up to our uncle’s house. The water rose again that night and Mom said she was like in the movie Titanic. It was a little late when they realized that water started entering the house again so when they tried to open the gate, the strong current of the flood water was fighting them back. It was very forceful and unstoppable. When they managed to get out, they tried on holding into whatever they can in order for the current not to take them. The next day, we found out that the water inside our house reached waist-deep. But we have to start cleaning again.

It’s not the repeat of the cleaning part which hurts us. It is the fact that makes us think that are we going to get used to this? Brazilian novelist, Paulo Coelho said in the Alchemist, “What happens once will never happen again. But what happens twice will surely happen a third time. “Can we live like this over and over again? We think not. Worse, is what if there would be another northwest monsoon or Ondoy that would bring more rain and sink the whole house? Worst thing, is what if we were trapped inside?

We are starting to look for a new home. This is not an easy decision. We moved here shortly after I turned four years old and now I am twenty-four. For twenty years, this house experienced our joys, our pains and witnessed the strength that we have as a family. Some of our neighbors did not return again to their homes after the monsoon and I understand. Once is enough. Two is way too much.

The times had truly changed. Before, our house was able to withstand killer typhoons like Milenyo or the triple threat of Violeta, Winnie and Yoyong. La Mesa Dam kept on overflowing through the years but we were safe and sound at home. But I cannot say that for the present time. In my humble opinion, the reason why it now floods occasionally in our place is that whenever the water was release from the dam and it takes the scraps of materials from the makeshift houses of the squatters, it piles up an become an obstruction somewhere and hinder the free flowing of the river. Also, our surroundings lacked trees that absorb the rain water.

There is a solution to this problem: Political Will. Months after the occurrence of Ondoy, people from the government started asking the squatters living near the creek to leave that place and they will be settled in their own house and lot in Rodriguez, Rizal. The squatters refused and after a while, there is no more action from the government. In Filipino, nagkalimutan na lang. Now, weeks after that mega-monsoon here are the government people again asking the squatters to leave and be relocated elsewhere. Had they possessed political will in the first place, I’m sure this monsoon flooding could have been prevented. I want to see real action now. Real relocation of the squatters and informal settlers. Real long-term flood control plan and infrastructures. Real political will. No more band-aid  and provisional solution. No more instant noodles and canned goods solution. Now that the sun is rising again, it’s time to work on our long-term solution. Let us not wait for the tragedy to happen again for the third time.

And in the end, maybe we all don’t need to lose our precious homes anymore.

Clandestine Woe. This picturesque photo was taken by UST’s Quadricentennial Photographer, Paul Quiambao. It depicts a beautiful, tranquil scene at first sight but in fact is the UST Chapel and Main Bulding surrendering to the great flood caused by the monsoon rains. I was beyond words and emotions when I first saw this. This must never happen again.

A Touch of the Color of Happiness

I don’t understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little – if only out of politeness.

—Coco Chanel.

I think that deep inside every woman, no matter how tough or manly her occupation is or no matter how tomboyish or brawny society looks at her and no matter how plain Jane she appears in public, she just wants to feel one thing. She just wants to feel beautiful.

It’s really strange that nowadays, I am often with makeup. A few years back that would be unimaginable. When I was a child, makeup intimidated me. My aunties in Pampanga often told me that you don’t need to put makeup because only the malalandi or flirtatious girls are the only one who needs it. All you need to do is keep your face clean and eat vegetables. I believed them for a long time. By the time I was thirteen years old, I was a high school freshman. Some of my classmates began using powder pacts, cheek tints and lip gloss. I looked down on them. I can’t believe that at a very young age, they are beginning to be flirtatious when some of them still forgets the multiplication tables at times. I resented everyone who wore makeup in school. In my mind, my aunties are correct. Your physical attributes does not really matter anyway. You just need to be a smart girl. You must be a kind girl to everyone. What is inside is all that counts. Dabbing everything to your face makes you superficial and fake.

That’s why my proms are disasters. I don’t know what to wear. I don’t know how to keep my makeup on. I do not know how to act like a lady. I was awkward, very awkward. Worst, during my junior year, I was wearing my very think eyeglasses up to our prom because I was afraid to try contact lens then. In many ways, I think I’m a deviant in my school proms.

But before I graduated high school, I decided to ask my mother if she could buy me my very first pressed powder which she agreed. You see, I’m very pimply in my youth. Unfortunately, at age twenty-four, I still experience some skin breakouts. That explains a lot why I still have a lot of pimple scars on my face.

Zit. A particularly big one. It still leaves a remnant scar on my face.
Zit. This is a particularly a bad one. The big scar of it still remains on my cheek.

Anyway, things changed a little with beauty and I when I reached college. My choice of clothing was better though. I refused wearing very loose clothes that I was wearing in high school in non-school days. I loved hairbands and earrings, too. My haircut is layered for the first time. But it’s different when it comes to makeup. I only wear pressed powder and sometimes because of lengthy and difficult paperwork, I forget putting them on. I tried wearing something for my lips but it I didn’t like the reaction of my block mates. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Economics classmates to death but probably they gave me weird reactions because of over familiarity? They weren’t used in seeing me like that. Then again, probably I misunderstood their reactions because I’m too self-conscious?

In law school, nothing changed in the beginning. After all, I was still wearing uniform in UST Law School. But eventually, I got so pressured with law school that I forget so many things even keeping myself tidy. I look harassed every day and I was gaining so much weight. Eventually, you all know what happened next and I went to UE College of Law. I went there looking so much like a slob. There are no prescribed uniform in UE except that as much as possible; one must go to school in semi-formal attire. That was my first problem, I barely have clothes and eventually I began raiding my mother’s closet. My parents are helpful though. They started buying me appropriate top pieces. The black slacks I wore were all from my old UST uniform so there is no problems with the bottom part. Soon, I was getting sick of wearing black slacks so I began wearing black skirts. It was uncomfortable at first but I realized that I keep changing classmates all the time in UE so I decided not to care anymore if someone would look down on me or laugh at me with what I am wearing because there is a big chance that I’d only see that person once or twice a week for just a few hours.  Once, my mother is buying lipstick from Maybelline. I showed her my interest; she bought me two with a simple blush. My Chinese best friend also gave me a lipstick from the same brand with lip gloss for Christmas. I suddenly felt like an adult. I started putting on some makeup to school though with great caution with the blush. The fuchsia shade that she bought for me is too dark and loud to my pale, sallow skin. Also, last Christmas, with some cash I earned, I absentmindedly entered into a Korean beauty shop, Etude House in SM Fairview. Not knowing what exactly to buy, I bought a makeup base because I thought that it was the foundation I need to even out my skin. I also bought a blusher with a highlighter in it which I’m puzzled on using. But both products turned out great. Surprisingly, my parents bought me a foundation from Paul and Joe as Christmas gift.

The Basic. How I usually dress up for school before.

Yet something is still missing.

For the longest time, I always believe that I’m not beautiful. This is especially true when I was in high school. If someday, I’ll be a very prominent person and there are clamors to have my autobiography written, my biographer will have a really hard time in finding pictures in my high school days. That is mainly because I look at myself as a very ugly girl. I dressed ugly, I wear very thick glasses, I am chubby, I have a lot of acne and my parents refused to grow my hair long before I reached college. There are days when my haircut is shorter than my boy classmates! Some people actually mistook me for a boy.

Then, one day I woke up thinking out of the blue that I want to use makeup as in I really, really want to use makeup. The next weeks, I saw myself scrimping so much on my expenses and kept on returning to Etude House. Suddenly, nothing fits with my makeup kit that I bought another one. I also read a lot of review blogs on makeup products and watched a lot of makeup tutorials in Youtube. Presently, I have a makeup base, a foundation, a BB Cream, two powder pacts, five pots of eye shadow, three lipsticks, two lip glosses, two matte blushers, an eyebrow color, an eye cream liner and a mascara plus some other accessory products and skin care products mostly from Etude House. I guess I now have the basics of a makeup kit though in the next weeks to come, I’m still scrimping on my expenses to ensure that all beauty products I use are Etude House. I have this weird inclination with a brand that I think works for me. My shampoo, conditioner, soap and deodorant are all products by Dove. I want to try other products like brown eyeliner pencil and cream blushers.

It’s exhausting sometimes especially that I can’t eat the food that I like particularly Korean foods. For some reason, the University Belt this year has so many Korean restaurants which sprung like mushrooms. Nonetheless, Korean foods took the hearts of many of students like me. The sassy spiciness of their food ended with their sweet and unique ice creams were addicting. So yeah, I went from a Korean drama addict, to a Korean foodie and now to a Korean makeup geek. I so hate Korea for making me spend too much on their merchandise for years now! Just kidding, of course I love Korea.

(By the way, if you guys are starting makeup these days, I highly recommend that you choose a Korean or Japanese brand. I just love the East-Asian philosophy on makeup. They do not just do makeup that are flattering to a woman’s skin and are long lasting but they also put into consideration the long-time effect on it into the skin. That’s why their makeups, especially their powder pacts and BB Creams, have sunscreen included to prevent both UVA and UVB rays penetrating to our skin which hastens aging. BB Creams are amazing because aside from acting like a moisturizer and foundation with good concealing properties but it also possess healing properties that soften, smoothen and refine skin. It encourages skin regeneration to create and maintain youthful skin and has anti-wrinkle and skin lightening benefits. Yes, it is the beauty secret of the ‘perfect’ Korean celebrities. Lastly, East-Asian brands are hypoallergenic and does not have that weird cosmetic scents like Eastern brands and are pareben-free. For now, BB Cream worked for me as it evens out my skin tone and my pimple scars are now fading slowly but surely.)

Anyway, by wearing makeup, my perspective changed. It revived the creativity in me that died when I went to college. You see, I’m not a really smart girl in high school especially with anything that has to do with numbers but I get high marks in drawing and crafts, well, besides languages. Also, by looking more prepped up people seems to respect you more. I feel that slowly, people are now recognizing me as a woman and not that clumsy girl that they always knew. You also get compliments saying how beautiful you look today or how you seem to bloom by the day. It also highlights your best feature. I always thought that I have ugly lips because it looks plain to me but when I started applying lipsticks in a daily basis, I get compliments that any lipstick shade I use looks good on me because I have nicely shaped lips. Slowly, you realized that all these time you were made beautiful in your own way. Now I do not see why not a woman must not put a little makeup. I mean we polish our shoes and we decorate our homes so I see no reason why we shouldn’t fix ourselves every day before we head out. Most especially if we’re going to show our clean, polished and confident selves to the world.

Of course, I do not forget that the real beauty comes within. These days, I am not just beautifying my face but also my soul. I try to read the Bible a little more and read articles in the World Wide Web on Christianity, kindness, love, inspiration and passion. As much as possible, I try to apply that to my everyday life being a good daughter, sister, friend, student and colleague. Thus, by being good and pleasant to others, that is what really makes me bloom more than my exteriors. No matter how much concealer you put into your face, it cannot hide an ugly soul. Hence, before you move on to your exteriors, make sure you had worked on or is working on into your exteriors.

I understand that not all women would want to wear makeup but the bottom line of this article is this: if you want to do something for yourself, do it right away if you think it will make you happy. Do not be fearful on what will people say or comment on you. People will always have an opinion on you whatever happens anyway. This quote that I read from tumblr best explains it:

You eat, you’re fat. You don’t eat, you’re a freak. You read, you’re a nerd. You don’t read, you’re stupid. You tell a secret, you’re an attention seeker. You don’t tell a secret, you’re still attention seeking. You let someone in, you’re easy. You don’t let someone in, you’re too uptight. You’ve had sex, you’re a slut. You haven’t had sex, you’re a frigid little bitch. You wear makeup, you’re a slag. You don’t wear makeup, you’re ugly. You can’t please anyone. Ever.

A Touch of Color. This is how I usually dress up now before I go to school minus the brow color because it really takes up time.

Life is short. As long as you will not hurt another person, who cares what others think. Always go for happiness.