Tag Archives: Coming-of-Age

My Five Guidelines for a Happier Year

Happy 2014, everyone! Sorry this greeting and post are weeks late.  Life has been complicated for me this 2014 and this is just the thirtieth day.

How are your resolutions going? This year, I did not make any concrete resolutions, only guidelines. Nonetheless, I am sharing these because I believe that it is beneficial for everybody. Also, tomorrow is Chinese New Year. I do not consider myself as Chinoy or Chinese-Filipino though I have Chinese blood. Then again, this is a great day to do some changes in your life.

 

WHAT WE DO EVERY DAY MATTERS MORE THAN WE DO EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE

Face it. We think that our lives are a bore or some people live better lives than ours. This is especially true now when a lot of us record happy aspects of our lives in the social networks. But you see, those are the highlights of our lives. We do not usually post things that make us upset or our argument with our parents or our significant other or days where we practically did not do anything special at all.

That’s why if you’re a law student or medical student or taking up other courses which requires a long period of staying in school and feel that you are missing out so much in your lives, stop feeling that way. “Living to the fullest” does not mean frequent travels or having romantic relationships or giving in to that pressure of having a family by mid-twenties. Living to the fullest is giving your best every day in the path you choose so that someday you will be able to fully share the world your purpose. Besides, you can never be overdressed or over-educated.

Then again, it doesn’t hurt to reward yourself every once in a while. There is a time for everything. Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 reminds us that,

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

 

INVEST IN YOURSELF

Well, of course, we could all agree that vanity is a sin. I seriously started giving in to makeup and skincare products on about the last quarter of 2012. I’m practically broke every single week because I spend them mostly in Korean beauty products. I also do not return the changes in the bills of my parents because I malverse them as extra money for the said products. Yes, do not dare do this, ladies. The rule of thumb is act your wage or in my case, act according to my allowance.

I’m wiser now. I do not buy new makeup until I almost fully consumed it. I also stopped shopping for skincare products and this act rewarded me. When I went back to the simple cleanse-tone-moisturize routine, my skin became visibly healthier. I hardly had any new zits.

Yes, I will still continue in investing myself. After all, I only have one body and I need to maintain my health because I have so many dreams to concretize. By the way, this is the year I’ve been waiting for all of my life. I’ll take the bar this year. Nevertheless, I will keep it simpler this year. Cleanse-Tone-Moisturize. Add some makeup. Do not forget some sun protection to prevent wrinkles. That’s it. Also, do not forget…

 

MEDIA CALL US UGLY TO SELL US SOME SHIT

There are so many ways of media that tells us we are not pretty and that we are not good enough. They tell petite people to wear higher heels. They make fun of every acne and scars we have. They convince everyone that they are fat by keeping their models unhealthily thin. They also tell us that we do not have enough clothes, shoes and makeup. But the truth and in fact, every one of us is made uniquely beautiful in our own ways. We do not need any validation from others. Feel free to express yourself. Do not wear shoes and clothes that do not feel comfortable to you.

You do not need to be in the trend. You just have to be you.

 

LISTEN TO OTHERS…AND DO NOT FORGET TO LISTEN TO YOUR OWN WORDS, TOO.

True, the ‘selfie’ generation had become a part of us. I love how it made some people in a way empowered to face the camera and share a part of them in the world. Honestly, this wasn’t easy for me in puberty years and pretty much the whole high school. I have looked at myself as a very, very, very ugly person. I hardly look at the mirror and when a person brings a camera with them, I immediately volunteer myself to take the picture. That is how disgusted I am with myself.

However, this ‘selfie’ generation also made some people too self-centered. I hate people who always begin speaking with “I” and end their paragraphs with “me”. Sometimes, I hate reunions or meet ups with some people I know who are so self-centered. They often complained about how stressing their work are, how their bosses bully them, how their co-workers gang up on them, how their family suck and basically how they play as the victim to every aspect of their lives. It’s almost they are implying that the people who are listening to them have no problems of their own. On the other hand, if we are not talking about how life ‘victimizes’ them, they are starting to badmouth some people we know and often gossip on their matters which details they do not know firsthand themselves.

I admit that sometimes I am guilty of saying those things, too. And when I started hearing myself saying nothing but complaints about my life or badmouthing some persons, I know that something is so wrong with me. It’s either I am tired of my life or I am very insecure or jealous of some people I know. That’s why I learned to listen to myself in order to assess the person I am becoming into. Always reassess your words to reassess the person that you are evolving into.

No matter how hurt you are, do not turn into a person you hate.

Always remember the wise words of my favorite Chinese philosopher, Lao Tze:

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habit.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

 

WHEN YOU ARE LOST, REMEMBER YOUR CHILDHOOD DREAMS

It’s generally easier being a child. We have adults to take care of our money and ourselves. We have our innocence to easily identify the right from wrong. We are beginning our lives that is why it is easy to build a dream.

However, when adulthood creeps in, we realize that the world is not that huge playground that we first thought it was. We get frustrated. We are told we are not good enough. We are told that we are not talented enough or smart enough. Then, we just see ourselves just battling every day to exist and not anymore to live.

I am not saying that you cannot change your dreams. You can. But the beauty of childhood dreams is that they give a mission and vision right away in our heads because back then our innocence is there and our intention for the world is always pure and good. For example, a lot of children want to be a doctor in order to help people. Maybe you have thought that you are not suited to become a doctor but the reason why you feel so empty now is because you are spending everything you own to yourself and not in helping people which you initially perceived as you mission here on earth. Or as a child, you could dream that you want to become rich in order to buy a house for your parents because you were living on the streets before. But now that you achieve your dream to be materially rich, where are your parents? Did you fulfill your promise or are you wasting your life in vices and practically isolating yourself from everyone you know?

When I want to give up on law, I remember my first year high school math teacher who defended me from the person who bullied me. I always thought that for thirteen years, I’ve been battling my bullies alone. It feels so good to be defended by someone that is why when I grow up I will do everything in my power to protect the suppressed through the power of their rights vested in them. Unfortunately, my math teacher died in 2012 at a tender age of thirty-five because of esophageal cancer. But I will offer to him my license to practice law as soon as I get it next year.

 

Well, there you have it. Have a great 2014 and life ahead. Feel free to share some life guidelines to me as well!

ggg
Sky Lanterns. I edited this photo of mine in an App called Moment Cam and used it to greet my Chinese-Filipino best friend a Happy Chinese New Year. It turns out that the Chinese do not make Sky Lanterns fly in their new year; there is a separate festival for that. Nonetheless, I am always fascinated with sky lanterns (as if it is not obvious in my blog’s name). It reminds us that in letting go, beautiful things are coming ahead of us. That is why, let go of all the heartaches, the past, the what ifs and embrace the life’s surprises coming for us. 🙂
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2013: A Year of Life Lessons

I had high expectations in 2013 mainly because this is my “silver year”. Yes, folks…this girl grew from that awkward teenager to that still awkward, twenty-five years old adult. (It both amuses and baffles me whenever someone still thinks I’m still halfway through college). Anyway, there was a trending topic in Twitter a few days ago, #My2013InFiveWords. I described mine as ‘a damned roller coaster ride’. But now I thought that how I described it has a negative undertone to it with the word ‘damned’. Sure, 2013 had a lot of downs but it also has a lot of ups that cannot be compared to yesteryears.

So, I’m changing it. My 2013 in five words would be: A year of life lessons.

Definitely, if I have to enumerate everything what has happened to me this year, I would not be finished before the New Year starts. So, instead of doing that, I will share the top five lessons that 2013 taught me.

 

LIFE IS SHORTER THAN WE THINK.

Cherish every moment you have with your loved ones. This year, I said goodbye to a close aunt of mine. She was sickly all her life and this year, she was bitten by an insect which made her bedridden for weeks. When we thought she was about to recover, we received a news that she had died.

There are two more deaths that affected me although I personally do not know these people. First, my father’s former boss died days before Christmas. My father used to be a medical representative when he was in law school. That boss of his is like a father to him. His boss was obese and diabetic for years so we all expected that the cause of his death was diabetes or some sort of heart attack. But, no…that did not kill him. What causes his death is a canker sore aggravated by some sort of virus. For my Filipino friends here, canker sore is our regular singaw. According to my parents, who were there yesterday in his burial rights, his wife, who is with him every single day after his retirement, is still in shock and could not accept the fact that her husband already left her.

Second, the fifteen-year old brother of my twin school bus mates back in high school died. Actually, I don’t know the cause of his death because her sisters refused to talk about it on-line. Nonetheless, I know that it was a very sudden death based on the tweets and statuses of her sisters. At fifteen years old, that boy is about to graduate high school. I also know that he was a CAT Officer, a violinist and a very smart boy. I really have no words for the twins because just thinking that my younger brother is hurt breaks my heart.

I just know one thing. This is the day for you to express love, say sorry, kiss, embrace and laugh with the people that matter to you the most. Tomorrow may be too late.

 

BURN BRIDGES IF NECESSARY.

My Facebook account was deactivated for almost half a year and I only reactivated it a month ago because the holidays are coming and I want to see all my tagged pictures in Christmas parties. Anyhow, I just realized that I have 843 friends but only a handful really matters.

I used to comment on significant moments on the life of those 843 ‘friends’ and make sure to greet them in their birthdays. I also kept in touch with some people I do not like and secretly labelling them as my ‘frenemies’. But now, I do not care with those excess people in my life. They do not do me good. I just waste so much time and energy with those people. I do not ‘unfriend’ people though. I simply ‘hide’ them from my timeline. Out of sight, out of mind. I now keep things easy for myself and do not take hurtful comments personally now. I only put my time and energy to the people that really matter.

 

MOTIVATE YOURSELF—AT ALL COSTS.

There are so many times in this year where I feel depress and I had no motivation to do work or anything at all. I simply stare on my tablet or computer monitor for hours tirelessly and let the time pass. But really, for 2014, this is the lesson that I must keep on remembering. The bar exams would probably be on October and I feel like there are still so many pieces of law unclear to me or is not yet interlocked with many concepts. That spells trouble for me. Anyway, UE cursed/blessed me to stay in class for this semester. It was compulsory yet it was free of charge. I really cannot explain much the details because it was also a clear as mud why I’m still in school but I’m taking it as free bar review for me.

 

TIME WORKS DIFFERENTLY FOR ALL OF US.

When we were still in school, life was simple to us. If we are in first grade this year, next year, we are looking forward to become second graders next year. But starting college, life does not go on as planned. Sometimes, you have to stop school because of lack of funds. Or you have to transfer schools because you did not reach the maintaining grade.

However, after college, it is worst. Those classmates of yours in college and high school are now earning big while you are still in school. They are also having their dream-like weddings and starting their family. You, on the other hand, just gawk their happy pictures in social media while taking a break from your long readings for school.

But I realized that I could not afford to have a relationship now, much less a family. Again, there is a bar exam waiting for me next year. Also, with all those jerks running around the world victimizing one girl after the other, I thank God for saving me from them. I have faith that someday, I will marry the man God planned for me. I will bear our beautiful children and live in a big house while at the same time being a successful career woman.

I remember nine to ten years ago, our teachers in high school repeatedly asked us to draw what we vision ourselves ten years from now. I just thought that if all my classmates’ dream came true and I could see almost every one of my classmates as nurses abroad earning dollars. Fortunately for some, halfway through their nursing courses, their parents gave in and let them choose their preferred course. Unfortunately, some stayed in limbo here in the country, having very little opportunities for them.

Life does not turn out how we plan it, especially if you let others decide the dream for you. But even at this age, do not hesitate to start again.

 

HAVING A LEGAL DISPUTE, EVEN A CIVIL CASE ONE, IS MADDENING.

When people ask me what kind of lawyer I want to be, I always answer that I want to be a family court lawyer or at least a lawyer who handles civil cases only. I really do not want to be stressed dealing with criminals. Also, I thought, handling a civil case is ‘easier’.

But then before the year ends, my parents decided to buy a new house. After having a deal with the price, my parents and the vendor executed a deed of conditional sale and my parents gave their down payment. In the deed, full payment would only come after she leaves the house in two weeks. However, it turns out that the vendor is one with the worst personality in the world. She spent all the money we gave her and she demanded for the full amount before leaving the premises. She also made my parents look bad to her father, who is my father’s friend, and her ex-husband. She made stories of us harassing her. These cause sleepless nights to my parents, especially my father. The amount paid to her is huge and without it, we just could not buy a house anymore most especially because my sister is just starting medical school. Also, my father retired from work this July. I would not go into details anymore because somehow, they had an agreement in the barangay level. Let us hope for the best. I do not want to take this to court any more.

Nevertheless, this taught me empathy to my future clients. I now know the feeling of losing such a big amount of money and therefore, I will do all legal remedies in order to protect my future clients’ interest.

 

So, that wraps up my 2013. I am not looking forward to anything in 2014 except the bar exams and perhaps moving in to the house we are trying to buy. Also, hopefully, I could get a job right away after the bar exams. After all, I passed my Civil Service Exam this year.

Goodbye 2013 and hello to the biggest and boldest stepping stone of my career, 2014. Yes, I’m ready for you.

A Letter to my Fourteen-Year Old Self

Dear Fourteen-Year Old Self,

If ever time machine will ever be invented, I’ll immediately go to your dimension. I miss our carefree days. I miss how it feels when the world spins so slowly yet every day was worth it going to school. It is funny that for the first time in my life, I received the “Best in Attendance” award. It’s funny that despite doing so many things, I was never sick. Maybe it is youth. Maybe it is something else.

I miss those days when the world was not gadget-dominated yet. Only some people have cellular phones. I did not have one until shortly before I go to college and so does my friends but for some reason, communication was better then. Yes, we were tardy at times but we make sure we do everything to arrive on our meetings. It breaks my heart now how some people simply send a text message just an hour or two before the meeting and say they can’t make it. I love how we felt cool when we are chatting with our classmates in Yahoo Messenger as soon as we arrive home (even if you were chatting with them all throughout your break times) and even play with them IMVironments. Now, Yahoo Messenger just feels empty. There are very few people on-line but you don’t feel like talking to anyone of them. The worst thing is that it seems only the spammers care about you there as they are the only ones messaging you. Also, you and your friends exhaust your time making fan fiction of your favorite anime and book characters. Now you look back thinking how crazy that was but then again one part of me is starting to draft another Sakura-Syoaran plot at the back of your head when I think of all those happy times.

Although I like who I am now, I sometimes miss your carefree attitude as well as you being a simpleton in many things. I am broke most of the time because I put my money on cosmetics and skincare products and on the other hand, you don’t even know what is prom then. Every single day you just wake up, take your breakfast, take a bath, put on your thick granny glasses and that’s it. You don’t even apply any facial cleanser (and thus your acne were numerous) for your skin and pressed powder on your face. Your eyebrows are not bushy but grow all over the place. I’m sure threading and plucking are Pig Latin terms for you. I’m also sure that you understand mascara as something worn on masquerade parties. But still, I’m a little sad for you because you hardly look at yourself in the mirror and refused to have your pictures taken because you believed and perceived yourself as tad ugly. But you are not. Every girl is beautiful, including you. Also, spoiler alert: you are going to wear braces for two years to tighten the gaps of your teeth.

Well, things are really different now after ten years. For example, to tag in your time is to play tag with your friends on the quadrangle or the corridors before class but now it’s a complicated term that when someone uploaded a thing on Facebook it’s either that person wants to show something about your or something interesting that he has seen. I want to tell you that Facebook is just like that defunct Friendster but at that age, Friendster was also unheard of. Anyway, ten years seems to be a very long time but it wasn’t. The world spun faster as soon as I reached sixteen where everyone was talking about high school graduation, future careers and yes, prom. People come and go in my life. But you know, the people who stayed with me as my closest friends are our classmates during your time. They grew up to be beautiful people who are bravely struggling now as members as the working class and at the same time, battling quarter life crisis.

I have changed but I am still you. I will always be you. I laugh hard on the plainest joke. I am still compassionate on life and achieving our dreams. I still love chocolates. I still like the arts and history. I still love those intelligent and quirky conversations. I am still a very awkward dancer—okay, I still cannot dance to save my life. I am clumsy and disorganized. But maybe I’m just a little more confident now. I guess that is the only change in me.

You will always be part of me. You will always live in my memory.

Love,

Your Twenty-Four Year Old Self

Find Me. I am in the class of II-Malvar under the supervision of our beloved adviser, Teacher Ailene Tamayo
Find Me. I am in the class of II-Malvar under the supervision of our beloved adviser, Teacher Ailene Tamayo

P.S. I saw our very first crush last week. He is still as cute and as gentlemanly as ever. It’s a good thing that I was wearing makeup then because he didn’t see me blushed naturally when I first saw him. See, some things never change.

Lucky 13

Even if we could turn back, we’d probably never end up where we started.
― Haruki Murakami, 1Q84

Hello, how are you?

I am asking that not only to you, my dear reader, but to myself as well. It has been more than a month since my last blog entry which was promised to have a part two. I swear I’ll do .it But today’s entry is not about it. But I’ll go back to it.

It may seem that my life had additional dynamics for the past months. First, I have more meet ups with my friends when I have time. Second, I thought that my life would be more at the easy side this semester because I only took 15 units. But hell, I was so wrong! Each unit demands so much from me. I swear that you cannot neglect just one unit otherwise the consequence it might ask for you for a price is impeding your graduation. Well, maybe not to me because I still have one semester left which will contain 13 units but failing is not an option for me. I cannot fail because I really have no face to show to my parents if I fail one. I believe that my education in University of the East is their second chance given to me that I cannot take for granted. I also have all the time in the world because I am a professional student. Nonetheless, the stress given to me by this semester is so much. The readings and digests to be submitted are endless. What hurt me the most is the fact that our official vacation started on the so-called end of the world, December 21, 2012 and resumed on January 3, 2013. One of my professors said that we are going to have early preliminary exams when we resumed classes on January 4. My other professor demanded 40 digested cases from us. It was freaking crazy for me. Yahweh should have made the eleventh commandment as: Thou shall not assign homework on Christmas break.” Christmas is about being with your friends and relatives which you have not seen in a while. It really feels improper to say “no” to an invited gathering during the Yuletide season. But I did declined some. In days which I stay in the house, I tried making digests and read the Civil Code notes in Persons and Family Relations. I’m glad that accomplished them all although I felt annoyed and a little depressed that I did not have the chance to write at least a blog entry. Last Friday, the results of our preliminary examinations in Civil Law Review were returned. I did not get a high grade though I was one of the few who passed that nerve-wracking exam. I guess I’ll just do better in my midterm and final examinations.

Anyway, I look back now on how 2012 has been. It was seemingly a very stagnant year for me because as a whole, I did nothing but stay at home and go to school even on summer break. But in between that ennui and routine-based life, I learned many things: That 20 seconds of courage. Those birthday cakes. That want to feel beautiful. That high school friends are really the closest you can have for a family. That a broken bone is nothing compared to that broken heart. That feeling when you dared yourself and actually did it. That realization that I was so blessed and I hardly recognized it. That feeling that you inspired people to look at their best, too. Those encouragements and expressions of gratitude. And all those magical moments in between.

This 2013 entered with so much expectations, plans and excitement. I want to tell you all about it however, I will not spill anything until it is official. This 2013, I don’t really have much of a resolution. Maybe I’ll improve my makeup skills and relearn skills which I had forgotten like driving and cooking. I will also not include losing weight anymore because the more I wish for that to come true, the more I fail it. Nevertheless, I will ensure that I will live a healthier lifestyle like I’ll try to eat less meat and sweets. Hey, I am not getting any younger. I’ll turn 25 this year, the age of officially ageing. I will take care of my skin more and probably start jogging after I obtain my orthopedic’s go signal that I could again run. Also, I need to focus more on studies because the moment the clock struck midnight of January 1, I could already say that, “Yes, I will take the bar…next year.” Damn. That thought electrifies me because passing it is all I ever wanted ever since but the question of whether I’m ready for it or not rings in my mind all the time. I know two things, though. One, preparation is the key. Second, you can do it while having fun.

Silver
Silver Year. This 2013 will be my silver year. Time seems to go faster now that I am an adult. But still, I do not hide my age. I am very proud of what I am and what I will be for next years to come. How about you, what do you look forward this year? 🙂

Let us have a blast this year.

That Feeling of Being Infinite: Book Review of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”

So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.

—Charlie, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Two days ago, I finished reading Stephen Chbosky’s “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” By the way, you may find this weird, but I haven’t watched the film version yet and probably I will not be able to watch it for a long time because it was last shown in SM Cinemas just this Tuesday. Hence, I am telling you this now, there won’t be any comments on how hot or perfect Emma Watson was as Sam. At any rate, it took me two days to read it.I really could not remember the last time I had read strictly for leisure purpose. As a law student, whenever I get the chance to have that vacation, which usually spans just for two weeks, I try avoiding all kinds of reading materials.  Because my family hardly goes into any vacation, being away from any reading material is the best type of rest for me.

Yesterday, when I was about to finish the review, I realized that I missed the main twist, the most significant part in the story. I tell you it was so subtly and intelligently written that even my intricate sister, who finished the book weeks ahead of me, missed it too. Maybe because I am a law student, my eyes are automatically skipping some parts and trying to search the main idea. I will read paragraphs quickly, and then when I realized that I didn’t get any grasp on what I have read, I will read the whole thing very slowly. Well, sometimes I do that. But there are times when I’d just shrug and tell myself to keep on reading because I might understand what is going on in the next sentences to come. Maybe that’s how I missed it. So now, I’m paying the price by rewriting everything I had written yesterday.

The book promises that it is a coming-of-age novel. The story revolves around fifteen-year-old, Charlie. He writes to “friend” his daily life as a high school freshman his struggles in school and his closely-knitted family. His story tackles on several issues and problems of high school students nowadays like drug addiction, smoking, sex, teenage pregnancy, homosexuality and everyone’s favorite problem—falling in love for the very first time. Who wouldn’t want stories about high school life and angst? Everyone says that the most memorable part of their lives is their high school life. This is where our we know more about ourselves, build our character, first voice out our thoughts, unleash our curiosity in many things, develop lasting friendship and feel that we are living slowly in the center of the world. This is the part of our lives wherein we could say,  “I swear we were infinite.

Charlie seems to be an ordinary high school boy. At first glance, you would find him a very smart, straight-A’s boy who is obviously beyond his years but he still possesses the innocence. He loves reading books, especially the novels his teacher, Bill, gives him as extra homework for his Advanced English class. He is also a big fan of music. All throughout the book, Charlie mentions several songs which I’m mostly unfamiliar with. The story was set in 1991 and I was three-year old then. Anyway, he is also good in mixing tapes and gives them to his friends and family. Charlie is endearing. He is a good son, a supportive brother and a loyal friend. Charlie could be very cool, too. Although he could be small in size and could easily be targeted by the bullies, he is a very good fighter. He is a wallflower, the quiet observer of life.

Nonetheless, one would wonder why Charlie seems to be friendless among his batch mates. All his friends are high school seniors. He is always going to his psychiatrist but he supplies no direct reason why in his letters to friend. You would see how submissive he is. He dated a girl who he hardly likes. He let his gay friend kiss him every night on the time of his depression. He can’t really say no to anyone. It’s also a wonder why he suddenly became addicted to cigarettes the moment he tried it and the next days to come; he smokes ten sticks a day. Later, he became addicted to LSD and marijuana, too. It’s as if he is trying to escape from something but he does not want to express what. Or perhaps, he cannot express it. He seems suppressing something in his memory. But what must it be? He has a good and close family who loves him so much. He is doing so well in school. He has caring and intelligent friends.

One must think deeper in reading Charlie. Stephen Chbosky’s writing style was too simplistic. I am sometimes annoyed with how literal it is written. There are times that you feel like the author is not giving you the chance to use your imagination or think. Charlie is blatant on writing to friend what he sees like his sister having sex with his boyfriend or how he masturbates. But I am telling you this: don’t let the writing style of Chbosky fool you. You must comprehend what Charlie is really undergoing by reading the novel very carefully. Recognize that Charlie is a character full of complexities. He is a broken character yet a very riveting one.

Perhaps, the novel shall be best remembered with the line, “We accept the love we think we deserve.” I remember that for weeks, my friends in Facebook and Twitter posted that line as status message or tweet after watching the movie. I understand why those eight words are popular. Precisely, that is the answer why a lot of us suffer in broken relationships or are abused or are settled with very little love received. The love we accept are directly proportional with our self-esteem and how we measure our self-worth. But besides that, I shall not forget this lesson:

“But it’s like when my doctor told me the story of these two brothers whose dad was a bad alcoholic. One brother grew up to be a successful carpenter who never drank. The other brother ended up being a drinker as bad as his dad was. When they asked the first brother why he didn’t drink, he said that after he saw what it did to his father, he could never bring himself to even try it. When they asked the other brother, he guessed he learned how to drink on his father’s knee. So, I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we’ll never know most of them. But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we came from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.”

Powerful lines. It simply states that all of us could be wounded people from circumstances on our past. But one could always choose a better path. And with our choices, it makes who we really are. A weak man shall always blame his past like how his job sucks now because he lived and raised in the slums or how he can never have a stable relationship because he thinks all women are the same because his mother left his father and him when he was little. However, a truly successful man who lived in a similar situation shall be the one who should be working extra hard because he does not want his sons to suffer poverty that he experienced when he was little and would value his relationships more. Charlie taught us that your past should be a story not an excuse. Charlie must live in each one of us.

I recommend this book to anyone. It is a book filled with life’s lessons that would let you reminisce on your teenage year. At the same time, you look back your past and think whether the wound inside your heart has healed and made you a better person or think if the effect is otherwise. You would love the overflowing hope it promises you after reading it.

Remember: You cannot change your past but you can always choose you future.

From http://projectfree-tv.net/perks-of-being-a-wallflower-trailer-hermione-percy-jackson-go-to-high-school.html
We accept the love we think we deserve. I think in the movie, it was Charlie who said it to Sam. In the book, it was Bill, his teacher, is the person who said it to him. In any case, those words will live on.

The Unannounced Letter

Dearest You,

Hey. It’s been a while since I last saw you. How are you? It’s actually not a long time as we saw each other early this March but for me it already feels like a long year. One day, three autumns—that’s what a Chinese proverb says. It means that when you truly miss someone, a day without him feels like three years. Well, of course, that’s an exaggeration but it still feels like a very long time.

Then again, do you miss me?

It pains me being last on your list when you’re my first thought I have in the morning and you’re my prayer at night. I hate this feeling. I could just easily move on and obsessed in another guy. I’m sure there are still some single guys who are taller than you or perhaps more athletic or better looking.

Nonetheless, they are not you. In my heart and mind, no one can defy you. You are my both my strength and my weakness. The person who pushes me forward whenever I want to give up yet you are also the person I worry more than myself. You are the one who fill me up with joy yet you also unwittingly create a hole in my heart whenever I do not get a message from you in a day.

But still you do not know about it.

You know, I like you so much that even your kindness hurt me sometimes.

I’m tired of hiding and suppressing my feelings inside. My friend, if it is not meant  to be, it shall not be. But somehow, that’s the fact that I fully understand yet still cannot bear.  It’s really hard finding a friend like you—dependable, honest and true—that it is hard to tell you the truth because I fear that you might not want to be a friend of mine anymore. It’s like a curse because you are protecting something precious that hurts you as well.

If one day, I finally told you my feelings and afterwards, you get to read this letter. Please remember that wherever I may be, you would always have a place in my heart. You shall be a part of every smile I bring to this world. You shall always be my favorite dream. Always remember that you are a very wonderful and compassionate person who is worth loving.

Whatever happens to our relationship as individuals, I’ll always thank God that I He made me fall in love deeply and purely with a person beyond amazing like you.

Love,

Me

Hold on to Sixteen

To the outside world we all grow old.  But not to brothers and sisters.  We know each other as we always were.  We know each other’s hearts.  We share private family jokes.  We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys.  We live outside the touch of time.

—Clara Ortega

Dear Gio,

Happy 16th Birthday!

Sixteen, wow. In two more years, you are going to be part of the adult world. How can that be? In my eyes, you’ll always be my little baby. When you were born, I was about to celebrate my eighth birthday in less than three months. You were quite a surprise as they were not expecting you to come since our parents were considered to have seemed graduated in their baby making years. Nonetheless, I was still expecting you. When I was in pre-school, I dreamt at least twice that I’ll have a brother. I told everyone but nobody really took me seriously.

But then you came.

It wasn’t easy at all raising you mainly because you were a very hyper child but at the same time, very sickly. There is no standard of care strictly imposed on you. There are days when we have to be strict on you and punish you for being a naughty boy. However, there are days when we cannot discipline you because we were afraid of your convulsion attacks.

Though our parents always state that they do not favor any one of us, I really believe that you were their favorite. First, culture-wise, Asian parents prefer male children over their female ones because they carry the surname of the family and having a surname that’s in the brink of extinction, they were so pleased to have you. Second, you were the youngest and their only son. You easily and naturally get their attention and care. Third, because you were sickly as a child, we all learned to take care of you extraordinarily.

Despite that, I’m not jealous of you at all.

I have to say that you bought so much joy in my life. Yes, we have our bad days which we almost want to kill each other—all siblings reached that point in their every day love-hate relationship. Besides, it’s a general fact that you were self-centered, irrational and so stubborn. You wouldn’t listen to anyone all the time and you lose things all the time because of your untidiness. However, overall you made me happy. I love how you quickly learned things as a child to present. I love how you smile and how you listened to me. I love how you easily believed in everything that I say. I love the games and pranks that we had played. I love (and also hate) how arrogant, conceited and confident you are. I love how we eat together. I love your “boyish charms” which we use so that our mother will buy us pizza. I love how you grew up to be good in math and sciences which is very unlike me. I love how sharp your memory is and know so many things on NBA and movies. I love how you decided to be a Civil Engineer for college because you want to improve our drainage system after suffering much from typhoon Ondoy.

I just love you so much. It is so much that I find myself weirdly obtaining pleasure as I spoil you, too.

You may come late in our life but still, you are a very important gift. On June, you’ll be starting the path on fulfilling your dream in becoming a Civil Engineer in my alma mater, University of Santo Tomas. I have mixed feelings about it. One part of me is extremely excited and one part of me is extremely worried on how you are going to take college. But I must also accept that you are now a big boy who is very competent and capable. I’m sure that you would do well because we raised you well. But please, do not have a girlfriend yet. Mother, Le-Anne and I aren’t ready yet for us to have someone to share in the title, “the only girls in your life”.

But come what may, we will always be here for you. We will support you all the way. We will love you to death. I was lying of course, when I told you that ever since you were born, my life was cursed because you are indeed, a blessing. Enjoy your youth, sixteen is such a fun year so hold on to it as you open yourself to changes you’d never imagine. This is going to be your year. Whatever happens, I’ll be here for you.

May God bless you all the way!

This was from my 21st birthday. Everyone else was busy so he celebrated it with me. One of my favorite days with him. 🙂

2012: Stars over Fireworks

It’s nice to look back before I go forward.

2012. Wow. This time about, a year ago, I was so lost but I could not really explain why to anyone. I’m too stubborn to accept what I feel. I’m too hurt to find words to express my feelings. I’m too lost to find anyone to talk to. A few days after, I find myself budgeting time between school work and the hospital. My sister is suddenly confined because of dengue. I hardly had focus on anything. I fall down from everything—the overpass, the bathtub and even on straight surface. I was black and blue because of bruises both figuratively and literally.

I am nothing but a mess.

The next months were bipolar. There are days wherein there is nothing but happiness. There are days where I feel apathetic about everything. There are days where I could just kill, holler and break things had it been legal. There are days where I could just bow my head down and weep while all alone going home from the bus ride. There are days where I feel so good that I’m ready to die. There are days where I feel so low, misunderstood, lonely and ugly that I want to die.

2011 was not a great year for me but it taught me one important lesson: Life goes on.

Life goes on. You might be forgotten by some friends but you will eventually gain some more. You might lose so much energy and experience so much pain over a broken heart but the world shall not stop for you. You still have work to finish, cases to read and things to do that only you will be able to do. Life shall not stop for you. If you’re bruised, stand up and keep on walking. Take that first step and you might be surprised that you’re already on your one-thousandth. Life goes on because you are stronger than you think. I hoped despite depression. I learned to be brave and smile to everyone though my heart aches. I continued to love despite the pain.

Of course, there are some people that I have to thank along the way. I thank my family because even if you make me crazy, life without you is even crazier. I thank my high school and college friends for our friendship that stands up to now where we are all driven like crazy with adulthood problems. I thank my warriors and amazons people for being good friends to me and being my partners-in-crime. But I give this one special thank you to God. I know He’s always there for me but I thank Him more especially for this year for the little miracles and people who are actually angels in disguise who helped me cope up.

Let’s go fast forward to few minutes before the New Year. I was in a middle of Angeles City. I am trying to find the best position to shoot the fireworks. But I couldn’t have a good position. It’s either some establishment or the old, sturdy trees are blocking my view. In my desperation, I gave up and look up and saw a view that I had not expected. I saw numerous stars scattered across the sky. The stunning Milky Way. Their simplicity awed me, almost bringing me to tears. There are some stars which seem to be very new to me. Stars that I didn’t know existed. They sparkle brightly and tirelessly in silence. They are forever. They are so much unlike the fireworks which may be vibrant, intense and loud but they shine only for some moment and turn into dust.

This 2012, I do not have any resolution but to know what are the stars or fireworks in my life. The stars must be more taken care of and appreciated more than the fireworks. The stars may be hidden in the cloud or by the brightness of the sun and never flamboyant with their presence but they are always there for you, unlike the fireworks which are only there when there is something to celebrate on.

Life goes on, yes. You are stronger than you think, yes. But there is one more lesson learned: There are those people who are always there for you and give your crazy life on earth with just a bit more sense. I thank you to all the stars in my life this 2011. Now, it’s time for me to appreciate and give more love to all of you.  And to the people that I love, I’ll continue being your star. I swear that I’ll always be there for you. I might not be the brightest but you can always count on my unbreakable loyalty.

I look outside my window sill today. Though they are less than what I saw yesterday in Angeles City because of the Manila pollution, one thing is important for me:

They are still shining there.

Don't worry about the darkness, for that is when the stars shine brightest.

Coming Clean

But if I tell the world, I’ll never say enough
‘Cause it was not said to you
And that’s exactly what I need to do.

—-Chasing Pavements by Adele

 

Platonic relationships can never really be a smooth ride for anyone.

Sure, we can have guy friends from left and right. You can always be one of the boys. But that cannot count as platonic. Wikipedia defines it as “a chaste and strong type of love that is non-sexual”. Chaste means pure and innocent type of friendship. Strong here means a very close relationship. But what complicates the definition is it being “non-sexual”. Sexual, used in this context, is not conformed only in the act of sexual intercourse but it is a practice of a human being to express his sexuality. This includes attraction, flirting and worst, falling in love.

I mean, let’s face it. In this era, it’s really difficult that one person you’re promised to since you were a little girl: your knight in shining armor. Usually, the nice, romantic and loyal guys are already taken by some lucky girls—which leave you with very few good choices. There are the handsome guys who are more often than not, players who would not think twice in leaving you for other attractive girls. Your heart could be shattered a thousand times over with this type of man. Then, there are some rich guys who most of the times aren’t handsome but the hell with their face when money talks. He may spend for you, yes, but he also has a lot of women. You cannot find love in him. There are also some strange guys who have a world of their own. They cannot understand you and you do not understand them at all. They are the type of guys who could be left with you at the middle of a rainy night inside a motel room where the mood is all set for some loving and yet, nothing shall ever happen between the two of you until the next morning.  Fortunately, sometimes you could really find men who are still nice, romantic an, loyal AND single yet unfortunately, whatever you do cannot make that powerful and magical connection to.

But amidst all these heartaches, you could be one of the lucky women who has that guy best friend who you could share your thoughts at the end of the day. He’s the one who will always care about you. He’s the one you could smile, laugh and talk to without any pretenses. He is someone who accepts you even if you’ve grown saggy eye bags, even if you did your makeup wrong and even if you have that bad hair day. Your friends say you look good together but you quickly negate them that he is just like your loveable brother or something. Nevertheless, caveat—-one morning and you’ll realize that whatever you do, you cannot live without him.

So what now?

Confession of a woman to a man seems a bit off from the social norm that it shall be the man who would declare it. It’s always a man’s job to woo the woman first but sometimes I feel that a bit off and hurtful to a woman. A woman shall always have the tendency to wait indefinitely for something to happen which could end as waiting in futility. Nonetheless, when we fall in love, sometimes other things like norms or perception of other people won’t really matter. When a woman confesses she is either brave or an idiot and perhaps sincere or desperate for some people but who cares about that?

There is one person who matters and that is him, your guy best friend who you fall in love with. Once you tell your feelings towards him two things may happen. It’s either you live happily ever after or you start saying goodbyes to him. Definitely, it’s really nice to be in a relationship with a guy best friend. He already knows and accepts you for who you are. In marriages, romantic love fades after several years of togetherness and in the end; it is the companionship and friendship that remains. However, prepare yourself as he might not feel the same way to you. Prepare to be rejected and walk away as you cannot be friends anymore. Your honesty may say goodbye to a friend forever but in the end, it may set you free.

But…no matter how I rationalize and understand my situation I know that the truth will hurt more than I’ll ever know. I’ve been in this situation a long time ago but it shall be different because it is you.

God, please do help me now. I’ve decided but I am not ready yet for the pain—although I know this is the only way I could be honest to myself and be honest to him because now I’ve realized that I stepped on the line yet I love him enough to let him go.

For the Love of God or the Love of Man

 “Would you change your religious beliefs to marry the person that you love? Why or why not?”

“If I had to change my religious beliefs, I would not marry the person that I love because the first person I love is God, who created me. I have my faith and my principles, and this is what makes me who I am. And if that person loves me, he should love my God, too.” —Shamcey Supsup, Third Runner up in Miss Universe 2011

I really am proud of Shamcey Supsup. I think no one could equal her compared to all Filipina beauty queens I know. She’s indeed a very beautiful person. Her features are perfect yet very Filipina. She glows with her sun-kissed skin and her smile is so warm and mesmerizing. She is also gifted with a perfect body yet no man could ever dare whistle at her as they would all sigh, awing at her loveliness. Such grace and poise of hers deserve much respect that just by walking her ‘tsunami walk’ would let eyes fall upon her without saying anything.

But one must also not forget that the Philippines’ Miss Universe had also graduated valedictorian in elementary, salutatorian in high school, magna cum laude in University of the Philippines-Diliman with the course of Architecture and topped the 2009 Architecture board exam. Based on the numerous interviews with people close to her or just know her personally, she’s a very kind, religious and simple woman. Certainly, she is of beauty and brains, but she’s more than that. She is of beauty, brains AND character. I think the last trait is what makes her most inspiring and commendable. It is true that God blessed her with gorgeous features and intelligence yet without her character, she may not be as moving person as she is now.

Yet that brought us Filipinos again to the feeling of ‘panghihinayang’. Panghihinayang is a type of feeling which has no direct translation to the English language but I describe that feeling as a combination of remorse, regret and that feeling of something necessary had been wasted. Having someone as beautiful, charismatic and as intelligent as Shamcey enter into such beauty contest shall probably never again happen on my lifetime. Of course, prior to her, another UP alumna, Teresa Licaros who graduated summa cum laude in communication arts and is now a practicing lawyer. Unfortunately, she did not enter the top 15 of 2007 Miss Universe and just brought Miss Photogenic. However, with all due respect to Atty. Licaros, she does not have much charisma and mass appeal of Shamcey. Something about her aura is very unreachable or was lacking the much needed X-factor which Shamcey also possess as beauty queen. We can never know for sure.

Anyway, despite the unmatchable traits of Shamcey, she fails to bring home the crown. I literally thought I was having a nightmare when her name was called as third runner up. How could she not win when she obtained high scores in swimsuit and evening wear from the audiences (and presumably, the judges) and she answered her question quite well? I say her answer was very good because given the same question to me, I would have answered the question the same way she did. For some minutes I was in shock and was devastated.

Nevertheless, I had come to my senses now that probably, Ms. Shamcey Supsup did make a crucial mistake in her answer, at least on the last sentence, “And if that person loves me, he should love my God too.”  Briefly and candidly, it sounds kind of arrogant in another religion perspective. But let me explain why I agree with the rest of her answer.

Religion is very personal and the heart and soul of one’s being. It gives a believer a sense of hope when he sees darkness and the humility to do what is proper at all times. For my part, I wouldn’t know what exactly I’d do in this world without my belief in God. I’d probably became a psychopath and go on killing people who are causing more and more injustices to my beloved country as well as those who seem to be not contributing anything good despite they have the ability to do so weren’t it be without the teachings in the Bible and my personal relationship with God.  I am a prayerful person, yes, but definitely, I am no saint. Yet every day, I strive hard to be a better individual because I let Jesus enter into my life. He is my first love and purpose on this world and thus I’ll do anything for Him. I always offer everything to Him.

Most probably, that’s how Shamcey Supsup views God too. But not everyone would agree with us. Gandhi said that “God has no religion.” Though majority of the world believe in the Divine Being, it’s a wonder why we cannot agree on how exactly to worship him. Even people having the same sect of religion do not even understand one another. For majority of Catholics I know, self-infliction of pain and crucifixion of some of our Kapampangan brothers during the Holy Week is gruesome. I, myself, frown to that idea even though I’m a Kapampangan as Jesus already committed the extreme sacrifice to save each and every one of us.

Legally speaking, the Philippine State also protects this right. Article 3, section 5 of 1987 Constitution declares:  No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights. In addition, the Supreme Court established the Benefit Neutrality-Accommodation Doctrine in the landmark case of Estrada vs Escritor. The High Court spoke through former Chief Justice Puno says:

Under the benevolent-neutrality theory, xxx, is that freedom to carry out one’s duties to a Supreme Being is an inalienable right, not one dependent on the grace of legislature. Religious freedom is seen as a substantive right and not merely a privilege against discriminatory legislation. With religion looked upon with benevolence and not hostility, benevolent neutrality allows accommodation of religion under certain circumstances.

And one more critical thing that a Filipino should not overlook under the impending Divorce Bill is that ALL grounds of legal separation may also be grounds of divorce too if such bill pass the Congress. One of the grounds for legal separation is, “Physical violence or moral pressure to compel the petitioner to change religious or political affiliation.” Interesting, yes. Though the state does not look at the difference of religion of persons to bar them for marrying each other, it does not allow one to be compelled to accept a way to worship God that he or she does not want.

Though I am kind of worried that some couples split up by using the name of God in vain as a ground to be legally separated (or worst, divorced), I understand where the framers are coming from. It is also sad seeing a married couple fight over how to worship God. I mean, God gave us all the freewill to glorify Him and yet it is ironic that people created their own rules on who worships him better. This must not be as religion was supposed to be personal. In this light, like Shamcey, I candidly admit that yes, I want the person that I love to be practicing Roman Catholic like me.  I do not look at a man again knowing that he’s not a Roman Catholic. It may seem odd for some, but I would not trade my religion for the world. Besides, religious debates always do not end. Some countries even split up because of disagreements with religion. That pieces my heart. I think that the God in all religions calls for unity but we keep on dividing ourselves because of Him. Hence, I do not want my future spouse and I fight over the most basic thing that gives us hope.

That doesn’t mean that I do not respect the non-believers of my Christian faith. I actually have a lot of friends which are Islam and non-Catholic Christians as well as atheist. I respect everyone with what they believe in. That is what lacking in our world: Respect. We may say that this word sounds overrated with beauty contests but then again, nobody quite understands and practice it. Respect is venerating and understanding the practice of right of another person and regards its importance as our own. Unfortunately, the arrogance of humankind seems bigger than his respect for others. This backward thinking must be corrected now.

Probably, Shamcey would have done better had she omitted the last sentence. However, I do not blame her or anything. Actually, I’m really proud because she shown candor and her real character in front of the world. No beating around the bush, no sweet talking and no wasted second to give her heart in answering the question given to her. With that all said, I’m truly happy for her.

But perhaps it would be better if the Miss Universe organizers must not ask that very personal question or something similar to that again. It may be the root of misunderstanding that one regards one’s religion better than the others when in fact she’s just practicing an innate right of worshipping the God she believes in.

For us Filipinos, you are our Miss Universe, Ms. Shamcey Supsup!  Forever we’ll be grateful that you made the world awe again with the beauty of Filipina. Mabuhay ka!

“My personality is the only thing I can hold on to. I won’t change for anything, even for the crown.” —Shamcey Supsup