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Baguio City fulfills my fantasy of wonderland

1 Sep

September 1. Baguio City Day. Signaling the start of “ber” months.

Baguio has always been a second home to me. My photos from childhood painted how I’ve always loved to spend Christmas season here. I have photos in Burnham Park with a flower of either Bougainvillea or Rose tucked in my ear as I beam sheepishly in front of my mom’s camera.

I remember giggling helplessly as the bus approaches this City overlooking mountains which looked like giant Christmas trees. I would close my eyes as I savor the cold breeze wafting through the air, sending soothing scent from surrounding pine trees. My mom would just smile holding me tightly, keeping me from jumping off the bus to contain my overflowing excitement.

When I reached College, I did not have second thought when I was given an opportunity to transfer here. The thought of it overwhelmed me with an intensity that “yes” is the only answer I would ever say.

For four and a half years, I witnessed how this City grew more beautifully, like a bud uncoiling into a full-bloomed flower. I watched how it transforms from a busy daylight into an even busier but livelier night. At night, the City transforms into a world where all you see are bright lights, people coming in and out of malls or universities, either rushing to go home or just slowly walking trying to savor the calmness of the night.

At the other side of the road, there is another life on roll, too. Those places where dim light is more preferable than a bright light; where smoke comes from every corner, where loud music makes one thump on their feet and freely move their hips, like nothing else matters in the world but that very instant of merriment and freedom.

But this City isn’t all about busy days and merry nights. This City is booming with surprises and treats. There is an abundant supply of fresh fruits and vegetables everyday. There are food shops offering an array of any type of food that your taste buds so desires. Shopping stalls are everywhere, too. If you’re a fan of branded but cheap stuff, “wagwagan” are in every corner. Not only do they bargain clothes and shoes but books, too. For a bookworm who loves to hoard books of his or her preference, just be patient to dive into a mountain of books and you’ll have them right in your hands.

If one opts to just sit down and quietly commune with her surroundings, there are perfect places to visit for such. One could go to Botanical Garden, Wright Park, Mines View, or at Sunshine Park. In Burnham park, too, a public taebo is regularly available. It’s a perfect venue to dance with people whom you don’t know yet dance with the same rhythm as you. If one dares to see more of the rich culture of Igorots engraved in this City, the Tam-awan Village is a perfect pick. But if you’re looking for a more pumped-up adventure say riding in a zipline or falling off from a giant tree, then Camp John Hay is just but a few minutes’ drive away from the heart of the City.

The list could go on forever and there are still a lot more left for me to discover. There are devastating changes, too, yes. But I’ll keep mine on remembering how Baguio City has made my childhood fulfill a real fantasy of wonderland. And now that I’m back here for my post-grad studies after leaving it for three years, I’ll always remember that child in me who would still want to take a photo with a flower tucked in my ear.

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Believing in the unknown

20 Apr
My five-year old self dreamt to see Africa one day. I finally did!

My five-year old self dreamt to see Africa one day. I finally did!

Growing up from a village with nothing much to do but go with the usual routine of school to house and house to school, I dreamt to see the world outside my village someday.

I grew very curious (and envious) how the life in cities seemed to be very exciting and fairy-tale alike. I was always jealous when I see a child in movies having grand toys and wearing grandiose clothing while my childhood past time were that of climbing trees, jumping off a mound of rice husks in the rice fields, having an improvised play house, and compulsory sleep in the afternoon.

I remember being gleeful and excited with just the sight of an airplane roaring above the skies. Each time I hear an airplane coming, I would rush outside our house and savour the spectacle. Then, I wished to see an airplane up close.

For every falling star that I saw, I closed my eyes and wished. One of which is to someday ride in an airplane and see the world beyond the village where I live.

Life, however, has its own way of discouraging me from my dreams. There were times when I felt there was no more hope. Some people even told me I was meant to go nowhere and end up like the other young girls in our village who were forced into marriage at a very young age.

But I didn’t allow myself to fall trapped in these unprecedented tricks of life.

Then I saw a falling star again. I wished and closed my eyes. When I opened it, I was already up above the skies riding in an airplane I thought will only happen in my imaginations. And before I knew it, I was already going from places to places, from one country to another.

I am full of dreams. Slowly, while carrying a sheer determination with me, they are coming true. Not that of having grand toys and grand clothing which later I realized is pointless.

I graduated with flying colors. I landed with a job I love so much. I am surrounded with amazing people who are always there to give me a little push and a tap on my back whenever I feel weary and hopeless. I have a loving family and a super mom. I am able to travel to many places here and abroad not just as a tourist but someone who speaks in behalf of her country. I’ve already visited a country in Africa, a dream since I was a five-year old kid.

Today, I am moving forward to fulfilling yet another dream I’ve set myself into since I can remember.

Now that I am 20-something, I know I already have a head-on of my own life. There are still challenges of course. But still, I believe in the unknown, one that is scaring and thrilling me in equal measures.

I asked myself, how many of us have the chance to fulfil their dreams at this very young age? How many of us have the chance or ability to counter a traditional belief about a village girl’s fate?

I am lucky enough to be one. While it wasn’t an easy road, I believed I can do it. I worked on it. I valued each and every opportunity given to me. And I trusted the heavens.

I did. And you, too, can do it.//

Just like today

11 Dec

When you set your feet on a new environment, on a new place, and feel like everything is fresh, feel it. Own it. When you see a natural attraction just like that of the amazing Banaue Rice Terraces for the first time, immortalize it. If not in photographs, at least in your head. Take some time to let it linger in your mind, close your eyes, and play the scenes over and over in your head. Until it becomes vivid and clear even if you no longer see it.

Just like today.

When you meet new friends at school or at a certain event, take a moment to really get to know them. Laugh with them. Share your stories and listen to their stories, too. Connect with them.  Share a glass of beer together or play the “Never Have I Ever” game. Let the fun flow naturally. And let the friendship stay even if the years keep rushing by. Even if the distance keep getting farther and farther away.

Just like today.

When you chance a moment to be with your family amidst all the hustles and bustles of work, be physically and emotionally present with them. Do anything to make that very moment memorable and full of love that you may keep the happiness in your heart even if it takes another painstaking months before you get to see them again.

Just like today.

When an opportunity knocks on your door, open it; grab it. When you’re given a chance to be a part of an important event, make it happen. Go on the streets and let your voice be heard. Support other people’s advocacy if you think it is what it takes to become an active citizen. Experience a Flash Mobilization once in your life. No matter how simple it is, if you take part in it and lets your voice reverberate throughout then it is, undeniably, fulfillment itself. Opportunities don’t come twice just like lightning that don’t strike at the same place twice.

Just like today.

When you go to a bar and feel like drinking up all night long yet you hesitate because it feels wrong, don’t linger on that feeling. Don’t let what others think dampen your excitement. Don’t keep avoiding that very moment when you can actually do what you’ve always wanted to experience somehow. Dance with the beat. Don’t deny yourself from an evening that could bring so much energy and anticipation, even just for one night. Spending a life avoiding what you’ve always wanted to do only mean avoiding yourself to be just you.

Just like today.

When you meet that someone who keeps your heart beating ten times faster than it regularly does, allow that person in your world. When the universe permits you to be with each other’s arms, hug tighter. When the starts align and lets you experience that spur of a moment once your lips meet, savor it. Close your eyes and listen to your heartbeat while the planet stopped on turning. No matter how uncertain the future is, let yourself experience the wonder of being in love.

Just like today.

When your heart is broken and you feel that burning sensation in your chest over and over again, feel it. When the pain cripples your heart to believe in love again, fight back. When it feels like nothing is going be the same again after your belief in love is crushed into tiny pieces, get up and move on. Pain goes with loving. And so is moving on.

Just like today.

Let go and feel free again. Dream big and chase after them. Stop and start anew. Kiss if you feel like kissing someone who allows you too. Cry hard and smile again afterwards. Keep travelling. Keep doing the things that make your heart filled with happiness and fulfillment. Let you be you. Truly, to get somewhere, you have to be hurt, you have to feel pain, and you have to fail at something. But keep trying. Because just like today, these things might not ever happen again. And they’ll be the days that you’ll surely miss.

12. 12. 12

Make-A-Wish Day

11 Oct

I was very busy today, like I was running for my life. But for every single hour that passed, I found myself smiling remembering the memories of yesteryears and knowing how beautiful life is unfolding before me. Only then did I realize that today is a date that happens only once in a lifetime. And I’m a part of it. WE are a part of it!

October 11, 2012. Happy Day! 😀

Running is Love

11 Oct

After my morning run with the gorgeous sunrise in teh background

09Oct2012

Nothing is as lovely as waking up at the stab of a still dark morning. You witness the moon slowly fade in the background as the mighty, gorgeous sun takes over. You watch the birds fly at a distance so close you can almost touch them. You watch the dew drop from the leaves and they suddenly glitter as the ray of the sun split from the haze of clouds. And you find yourself smiling as you continue to go in motion while half of the world is still asleep.

Why I got more reasons to smile than to cry

21 May

Looking out in the ravaging rain outside from a glass window with a cup of hot coffee on my hand, I am amazed how the downpour of rain could sound like music to my ears. And as I stand longer watching the gorgeous city lights reflected from the rainwater, I can’t help but smile thinking how life has been so good to me.

While there have been innumerable painful chapters in my book, most of the time, I feel grateful than sorry. And as I look back once again, I realize that it is far better to be grateful of what I have than to cry over something I don’t (and can’t) have.

My family. Thinking how far I am with my family, my heart sinks with loneliness. We never really had a time to be complete even in just a single occasion. Not even during birthdays or graduation or Christmas Eve. Everytime I see pictures of a family laughing and going out altogether, God knows how I deeply wish I can also experience such. But then, I know that we are always connected with an invisible but very strong bond that no matter how far the distance we are from one another, the love and care is always present in our hearts. Not perfect and no family picture, but enough to claim I have my own family. And hey, my mom is just the most amazing woman and the best mother a daughter can ever have!

My friends. While perusing my old diaries and photo albums, I can’t believe I’ve made so many friends in every place I have set my feet unto. Sometimes, I wonder how these people could like me and even allow me to be a part of their interesting lives. Then I thought of it again. I realize, it is them who have made my life a lot more exciting and interesting. It really is funny how these people could bring so much happiness in your life. And what is funnier is how you could be just yourself around them but still love you for what you are—with all your flaws and imperfections. And the funniest part? They could make your life a lot crazier than you already are!

My job. Two years ago, I was still uncertain of what the future has in store for me. Though I know that in the deepest of my heart, I want to become a lawyer, I was still uncertain on how to create steps to realize that dream. Two years fast forward, I already am certain that the future I want is already in my hands. My current profession has just been very challenging (though at times literally back-breaking) that I don’t mind working even until the wee hours in the morning and over the weekends. Not to mention all the places I’ve been to all over the country. And because of my work, I realize how important every single penny is. How precious every minute is. And most importantly, I started to understand that you’ve got to be tough to survive, but pleasant enough to stay grounded.

My organizations. Apart from the countries I’ve been to and many more other countries I will be going to, plus the friends I’ve made along the way, my organizations, my advocacy have taught me so much about life. It made me appreciate the ability I have, the talent I possess, and the voice I can freely speak of. It taught me to become a woman, to become an activist, and to believe that change is possible. And the best part is that it taught me to stay strong and steadfast even if my beliefs are challenged countless times.

My heart. When it comes to the state of my heart, I can’t hide it. My friends and this blog have been supreme witnesses on how I became the happiest woman when I was in love. They, too, can attest how much struggles I’ve been through when those happiness turn into unbearable nightmares. My heart has been embraced with loving arms but it has also been torn apart in ways I never thought could be so painful. Yet, it remained with me. It survived all those debilitating chapters in my life. With scars but still alive and beating and ready to fall in love again. And that is another big reason to keep a smile on my face. I believe that love will always find me. It might not be today, but for sure, it will come. And maybe he is just around. ❤

And there.. the smile I will always wear… 🙂

Of being a mom

14 May

It is always a wonder to me how the laughter of little kids could melt the toughest hearts. There is this particular comforting touch that seems to work magic that no matter how toxic the day was, hearing them giggle in a genuine manner could magically keep all those weariness at bay.

There are moments, too, when they drive you seriously crazy. Those times when it requires an enormous amount of patience to stay calm. Those moments when all you could do is release a heavy sigh, shake your head, and could think of nothing else other than how the day could get any worse.

Little kids, really. They are full of wonders.

No. They are not my own kids. They are my sister’s. I let these three kids stay with me for their summer vacation. And with that seemingly short span of time, it actually felt like years because my usual lifestyle had a complete 360-degree turnaround.

But more than knowing all this stuff about having kids around, I also learned how being a mom could actually become the most challenging role I can ever have. And if I am to be honest with myself, having them around took all the energy I have for every single day.

Those times when they randomly show up and throw random questions. If you know the answer, you feel quite like a genius. Otherwise, you try to pretend you know the answers but deep inside you are also wondering. I can’t help but think: “How can these children know a lot more than I could?!”

Those times when you bring them to department stores and they would point to something they‘d like to have. While you wanted so much to grant their wish as often as possible, you simply can’t. And they’d just stare on the floor and stay quiet. In those instances, I could hear my heart breaking because I knew there was nothing I could do for the moment other than to promise I’ll try my best to save for that something.

Those times in the office when one of them suddenly calls you in the phone and you hear all of them shouting or the other one crying or all of them fighting over a toy or whatsoever stuff they can fight over with.

Those times, when, no matter how much you want your sleep remain uninterrupted, it already becomes inevitable. Those times when they wake up in the middle of the night crying because they are having a nightmare and you have to keep telling them that everything is going to be all right until they fall back to sleep. That sometimes takes until the wee hours of the morning.

Those times when you have to leave them at home for a couple of nights because your work requires you to. Those times felt like torture because your mind keeps wandering back to them: how they are doing, what they are eating, and if they are already calmly sleeping, or having nightmares again.

Those mornings when you have to drag yourself out from the bed, no matter how little hours you were able to spare for sleep, just to prepare their breakfast.

Those late afternoons when you go home and they all come running to you asking for the “pasalubong” you promised to give them when they stayed behave for the day.

Those times when even if you no longer have enough energy left due to a toxic day in the office, you still have to use that minute energy left in your store to perform yet another motherly role for the rest of the hours—cook, clean, wash the dishes, and so on.

Those times, when, even if your eyes are already wanting to drop on the floor, you still have to grab that story book and read them bedtime stories in the hope that they’ll learn some virtues.

Those nights, when they are all soundly asleep, and you stare at them thanking the heavens that finally they are resting after exhausting so much energy, including yours, all day long.

Those times when you receive your salary and realize it won’t actually last in your hands for the time you wish to be.

But then, those sacrifices seem to be all worth it. Especially when they would always greet you in the morning and kiss you goodbye each time you head to work. When they see you coming home, they would all rush to you giving  a kiss and a hug like you’ve been away for years. And at night, just before they close their eyes, they would also kiss you good night. Those moments are simply heartwarming.

Tonight, my kids will be heading back home. And as I stare at their backpacks, I can hear my heart breaking yet again. These kids have been wonderful. While my pockets are already empty, my heart is filled with joy. But more than that, they taught me a lot about being a mom.

For just a month and a half, I realized how taxing being a mom could actually be. And only up to this time did I realize how much sacrifices every mom has to make for each of their children in every single day of their life. Yet, their sacrifices remain undervalued. I realize, if those simple acts of thoughtfulness or sweetness could drive my mom’s weariness away, how come I haven’t regularly done it?

I know it is not yet too late to show my gratefulness to my mom for being such a wonderful and an ever-patient mother of 10 kids for 27 years of her life and counting. And I know, too, that it doesn’t really entail for one to bear their own kids before they realize the countless sacrifices of their mom. And truth be told, being a mom is the most challenging role any one can ever have and the most amazing talent one can ever  possess. It is just yet to be further appreciated.

Happy mother’s day yesterday, today, and everyday!

19 things for 2012

12 Jan

I must admit I am one of those New Year junkies, failing to actually fulfill what I have set to attain for the New Year (sigh).

But I am not giving up yet. Since New Year’s Eve, I have already mentally noted what my resolutions will be. There has been a grand list, like 50 of them! But just as I start typing them off in my blog, I can’t seem to figure out how not to become another New Year junkie. So after reading some helpful blogs about making New Year resolutions more possible and realistic, I have trimmed down my resolutions to 19 and have given more specifics on each.

  1. Keep organized. Make a separate notebook for my organizations and my tasks in the office. Regularly fill-up my planner, too.
  2. Set priorities. First things first. Never get overwhelmed with whirlwinds both in my organizations and office works. F-O-C-U-S. Refer to my notes always.
  3. Wake-up early. My morning routine usually takes an hour and a half. I often get late since I need to head off to the office every day at 8 am because I usually wake up at 6:45, or worst, 7:15. So now, I should drag myself out of bed just as the hour strike at 6 am. Unless of course if I had a long night, specially working overtime, I still deserve at least 5-6 hours of sleep. Just in case.
  4. Sleep more. During weekends, that is. Since I usually exhaust all my energy and time every single day, from Monday to Friday, I will consider taking more time to let my body regenerate and prepare it for another bloody week at work.
  5. Be more patient. I have always been very impatient especially in waiting for people who have agreed to meet you on a set time; or people responding too slowly. I want things to keep going and beat every deadline as much as possible. And because I have been too wary of time, of deadlines, and of meeting-set-projects, I end up very, very frustrated and all the more perplexed. So this time, I will always take time to review the do’s and don’ts and will always take time to breathe.
  6. Buy myself a television. I N-E-E-D a TV! Period!
  7. A more balanced diet. Eat more vegetables (one vegetable viand thrice a week) and fruits (everyday).
  8. Value breakfast. I am a no-breakfast-fanatic. I only take coffee and head to works straightaway. This time, I won’t skip breakfast anymore. Not regularly, at least two to three times a week.
  9. Cook. I feel like losing my skills in cooking and baking so this year, I should at least cook something special and/or bake some goodies for myself. I could share it with friends, too. Cook at least twice a month (I barely have the time, I swear! My work is so taxing—travelling now and then); and bake sometime in February (Valentine’s Day!) and July (in time for my birthday).
  10. Exercise regularly. Go to gym at least once to twice a week.
  11. Read more books (one book per month). I just finished my first book for 2012—The Devil Wear’s Prada. Am currently reading Paulo Coelho’s “Zahir” and hopeful to finish it before February ends.
  12. Write more. Publish at least one blog per month despite loads of write-ups in the office.
  13. Relax. Find time to hang-out with friends to detoxify from stress and pressures from work. Go shopping or have dinner with friends once in a while, at least twice a month.
  14. Save more. Deposit 15% of my total salary to my ATM account every month.
  15. Learn another language. I should learn Spanish language! If I can’t enroll by June, I should ask someone who can teach me and by December, I should at least be able to speak in conversational Spanish. I should learn at least 20 words per month.
  16. Keep in touch with friends here and abroad. I will make a complete list of my friends whom I should be writing to and send them handwritten letters using snail mail. I was able to send at least 20 mails last year. This should be easy.
  17. Change hairstyle. I just got my hair treated for the first time for this year—long and straight. After seven months, I will get my hairs curled.
  18. Keep travelling. After going to various beautiful places around the Philippines, usually in the south, and being able to roam around New Delhi and Bangkok, I will travel to the north this time—the Cordilleras! Thanks to my work!
  19.  Love again. Majority of my posts in this blog is about what I have gone through in my relationships and how I am working on my self-love journey. I know I have come out a better, more matured person now than I ever was when it comes to falling in love. I might still have some perks and entertain some more stupidities, but I will still fall in love. After all, my heart is built to love and endure pain. Just a little more matured in dealing with this one this time.

I hope my resolutions are more specific this time. So… lemme hear yours, too!

The show goes on

3 Jan

It’s 2012.

I didn’t quite notice how 2011 finally gave in to its exit. The events from the past year seemed to have passed in a rapid-fire pace. And as I try to pen down my thoughts about what happened last year, I can hardly put my finger on it.

Perhaps, I was just overwhelmed with how my 2011 has turned out.

Like all the years that passed, my 2011 was full of unexpected turn of events; some were to my benefit and some weren’t. While remembering the little wishes I didfor myself in 2010, which have guided me toward dealing with 2011, I can see how my life was put on the verge of bursting forward.

My current profession has provided me with so many opportunities and room for further growing up. It has allowed me to roam around the Philippines, going to places which I thought would only happen in my dreams not until I reach 40 or something; those places which a lot of people would dream to set foot unto someday and those experiences that many people have been aiming to experience first-hand.

I have also met and made new friends who shaped my ordinary days into very special moments. They have made me realize how small things like going in a café or simply strolling under the trees could make the bond of friendship grow stronger.

A closer-knit relationship and fondness within my family also grew naturally among us. We have spent more quality time together throughout the year. While we still face old stories of unfathomable events, we are all making efforts to somehow mend the wounds to patch our family back again.

I have also gradually worked out my impatience in dealing with problems and challenges. I have come to embrace stress instead of shooing it away with imperviousness. My sensitivity in dealing with other people’s emotions has somehow pitched a notch higher as try to be always careful of my words and their feelings. I still get a little careless at times though.

AlthoughI already earn my own money, I constantly remind myself that while saving is a priority, I shouldn’t feel guilty for treating myself once in a while like going to spa, munching on expensive chocolates, and buying myself an expensive cellphone. Imake sure, too, that first things first in everything I do specially in my works both in my organization and my workplace.

I also came to develop my self-confidence that I can surpass whatever challenge at hand while recognizing that there are also instances that could be best done with a helping hand. In building self-confidence, I also came to realize, is about feeling good about myself knowing that real beauty is nurtured inside but also keeping in mind that I have to stay beautiful in the outside without the intention to lure men.

Lastly, and perhaps the most important, is that I was able to breeze through the state of my heart a lot easier this time than I have in the past couple of years when it felt like everything was spiraling out of control. I have gotten over heartaches and accepted the fact that there are things that are not meant to last; that my heart is built to endure pain; that my fate in love is not (and will never) be based upon fairy tales anymore; that love will never leave me because I already have the love that I need within myself; that the journey to self-love is never-ending but is worth-taking; and that love will always blossom around me because I deserve it too like everyone else.

It’s 2012 and it is the start of something fantastic. I can feel it.

 


Dear Santa

22 Dec

Dear Santa,

Since I was a child, probably six years old or younger, I have already believed in you. Each time those Christmas lights around our house start to flicker, I stare at it delightfully while waiting for you to arrive and grant my wishes.

During those younger years of mine, I would always wish for a box of chocolates or a giant lollipop. Sometimes, though, I’d wish for a sock full of coins which in return I’ll buy for chocolates or lollipops, too.

Though you never came to hand me my wishes, someone would always come, either in the person of a family or friend, and grant my wish. Eventually, my Christmas would turn merry and blissful.

Now that I am 22 years old, old enough not to believe in fantasies anymore, I still want to believe in the magic that you bring as the hour strike at midnight, welcoming the 25th day of December. Though I still want to receive those giant lollipops, I would wish for something else more than those sweet tooth or tiny silvers in the socks. And though there is only barely three days left before Christmas, I hope my wish list will get its way to you.

My heart was bruised for several times over and there even came a time when I already gave up on love. Though I stopped looking for love, I wish that love will find its way to me. I wish there is really someone in this whole, wide world who can complement my being; someone who can be a reflection of who I am; someone who can challenge me for who I am and love me passionately at the same time; and someone who could make my world go round and give me the love and respect I equally deserve.

While I am also very lucky of getting a job I really love which enables me to go to wonderful places and work with and for people in the countryside, each time I go back to my hometown where my family is, I am drifted to a world very different from where I currently live and work. I wish that even just this coming Christmas, I would feel the essence of what this season really is—and that is to have my family in a single roof, on the same table, eating all together while wishing everyone a merry Christmas even just for a day.

I wish, too, that you could bring back my two cousins who passed away 20 days before Christmas. Bring them back to their families to give them the Christmas they deserve. They were too young to leave the world. And they, too, deserve another Christmas time like everyone else.

Santa, for my last wish, give my mom more strength and faith to go through life. She is the source of my strength and my everything. Let her live longer to live a real life—a life full of happiness, love, and joy enough to outweigh her countless years of suffering and sacrifices.