Phases and Tides

The ebb and flow of life as we know it, is like the tide— it goes through endless crests and troughs. It’s a never ending cycle of highs and lows, which to me, essentially makes life worth living for.

Humans are complex creatures but at the very core, we all aspire one thing— to be happy. We have different meanings and faces of happiness and different means to attain it. What we equate happiness to and the means by which we go after it, usually are the reason why we feel overwhelmed, most of the times, weighing ourselves and our spirits down.

I’ve asked myself many times why I am so patient and forgiving of other people, besides myself. Why I respect other’s learning curve but hard on pushing myself to the limit. I can take some time off my schedule to educate someone, but giving a day away to myself to be unproductive and to just rest feels like an unforgivable crime. What purpose am I doing this for? What’s my why? Will this undertaking really make me happy? What is the face of happiness for me?

I usually go to bed unable to drift to sleep right away. Sometimes, I’d stay awake staring at the ceiling in the pitch darkness, trying to deduce what really is that thing that fires up my soul. And how can I give it a name? How can I give it meaning? Is it love? Is it purpose? But as soon as the spirit of slumber snatches me away, I unconsciously let go and so the answer to these questions was never found. Another morning is born that ends to another night, and again, another silent moment to contemplate about the what and why, continues.

The mind ceases to rest. The heart works to keep the body alive, filling it with the life it needs to continue serving its purpose.

The highs and lows of life is an inevitable phase. The highs are what we aim for; the lows, we mostly, often dread. Sometimes the latter comes with confusion, frustration, pain, with doubts and fear and most of the times, with loneliness, that sometimes we ourselves cannot fathom. On the onset of your highs, do any of you fear entropy?

The level of overthinking is palpable. The late night thoughts linger without direction or timing. While I sit with my headphones on, opposite the computer every night, the mind would slowly come to a halt. A man mumbles on the screen but I can hear nothing. Nada. Niente. I’d keep staring at the stranger, not trying, but letting the mind drift elsewhere. The man stops mumbling, the screen is down, and I am supposed to be one course ahead from yesterday. But I ended up not retaining even half of the course I just finished… I learn nothing. So I had to redo what I lost the next day.

… It’s a perennial redoing of things that I’ve missed and failed. If life is infinite, I wouldn’t have to worry about wasting my time away. But time can be cruel sometimes. We’ve witnessed it many times. It comes and goes so abrupt to some people. And that makes it scary.

How one can regain momentum when one is out of focus? How can you stay motivated when you’re at your low? I think the answer lies in our “whys”. Knowing our why for living is fundamental to our survival in a world that is not always fun and happy.

Life is not always fun and happy… or beautiful. But its excrescence is an adventure that is worth experiencing, taking and trying. The highs and lows compliment each other in some way. It creates balance so we can realize and understand the things that really matter in the end.

No matter what you go through today, can we all make a promise? Let’s all continue and strive to thrive, shall we?

Promise me?

The Philippine Political Circus

I am going to rant today.

If you hate politics, please do yourself some favor and hit the close button. If you’re a person who idolizes politicians based on your made-up idea of who he is, not seeing the person for what he had done, is doing, and has intended to do as a public servant, you have all the more reason why you should leave.

Okay, I’m not gonna go into details, so you are fine staying. The world, the US to be exact, has just gotten rid of the same breed that we have in this country, so I’ll spare you some headache. But still, I am ranting.

Over the course of my time writing, I’ve only written a few articles about politics. I abhor the kind of politics in this country. So if I am to keep my sanity, I needed to stay away from writing about it. But today would be different.

If the late Miriam Defensor- Santiago was alive today, what would she probably say and do at this exact moment? Miriam was my President when she ran for the presidency in 2016. She was the President that we never had.

I was one of the few people in my circle who voted for a different candidate in 2016. Everyone in the family, except me, would have had voted the same candidate had I not succeeded in swaying my brother and parents. Yes, I influenced them. It was the least that I can do for my young nephews and neices whose future, like mine and everyone else, will be put at a dangerous stake.

Duterte won. Leni got the vice presidency. The two are from different camps and although I did not vote for either of them, I told myself to give both the chance to show us how they will lead the nation. I needed to see which promises will be kept once the two are in the office.

Miriam succumbed to cancer shortly. The offspring of the thieves that are the Marcoses, claimed a rigged election in favor of Leni. Four years later, Bongbong still makes himself the laughing stock of this country. No jetski ever reached the hotly-contested West Philippine Sea which ownership we won at the Hague Tribunal in 2016. Instead, we became a loyal lapdog to the chinks.

I was neither blue, nor yellow, or red, or green , or whatever color people associate themselves with. For me, politics should only be black and white~ either you are good, or you are pretending to be good.

Days and months rolled in and the obvious became too disgusting to bear. I decided to not watch news anymore. I had to escape from it all because I felt like the black sheep of the society for not worshipping and bowing down to “what” “almost” everyone had worshipped.

I can’t get the gist. My mind cannot comprehend the magnanimity of the foolishness. It felt stupid to be constantly emotionally triggered by what I see, read and hear everyday, especially because, people have chosen to be foolish. I was willing to leave Earth for another planet. That’s how desperate I was at escaping from the filth that the 16 million people had purposely caused.

People are so hyped up to listen to the deity every single time, while I cringe on the side. From work, to the streets, at home, even in social media, majority, and I say this, I could count by my fingers the number of people I know whom the flowery words were never believed, while majority would defend the deity with their lives, in whatever means they can, in whatsoever situation. If I have to unfollow everyone who turned a blind eye to what is really happening at present, I would be left with less than 10 friends in my social media accounts. That would have been less chaos. But I’m still hoping for change that’s why I’m keeping around 175 of them.

I’m disheartened before and now, this feeling just became worse. The incompetence is so apparent and abominable that I am drawn to monitor updates upon updates, minute by minute, of what desperate claims and moves the clowns of the highest office have in store for us again.

Philippine politics is a circus. You get to feel every kind of emotion as an audience, but when it’s the circus master that has acted like the lowliest of animals, you can’t help but feel like a failure as a citizen. How did we allow this to happen?

The Anti-Terror Law is already in effect. In its context, you can be tagged a terrorist when you are anti- government. You can be jailed. The fear of your life being put to risk is a reality, just because you have chosen to say your piece. Famous actresses who are vocal about the sheer incompetence have already been red-tagged. Beauty queens have stepped up on demanding accountability, so are student organizations from different universities. Some have taken their voices to the streets. This, while the toll farms work day in and day out to alter the social media atmosphere, to feed the majority with the kind of governance the administration wants to portray.

Mother is anxious because she knows I have a medium and I am stubborn sometimes. She already asked me not to write anything about this but here I am, ranting. I hope this will not come close to the Marcos era of governance. We lost so many lives in that battle. I hope we won’t see it happening again in this lifetime.

Never again. Never forget.

You have already allowed this government to alter the course of history when the dictator, Ferdinand Marcos was laid to rest at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. He was not a hero– never been and never will be. He was a murderer. A human rights violator. A corrupt politician.

And as it is apparent, this government fears women. They tremble at the sight of women who can stand their ground and it will do everything it can to suppress their voices. Maria Ressa, Justice Sereno, de Lima, Sister Patricia Fox, Leni, to name a few. Shall we name more?

Seeing the face of incompetence and deceit makes my blood boil. Seeing that people are willing to go so low to defend a deity makes my heart bleed.

My heart is heavy. We don’t deserve this stupidity. We need more neophyte visionaries like Mayor Vico Sotto these days. Someone who will not quiver to the pressure of the Malacañang. Someone who only has the Filipino as his compass for where he/she wants to lead. We need more Leni that never stops trying. I don’t know who else deserves a space here.

I miss Miriam. I miss Gina Lopez.

Does Elon need any volunteer to Mars or the ISS? Because I wanna take that flight now.

Ignorance can be treated. But stupid is forever. Let’s hope this is a case of ignorance.

~Miriam Defensor Santiago

Weathering Storms Together

Today is a critical time for Filipinos, not only because it’s All Saints’ Day and we are still restricted to move around like before because of Covid, but because another super typhoon has entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) and is now ravaging parts of Luzon, mainly Catanduanes with a cat 5 intensity. Super typhoon Rolly (Goni) is the world’s strongest typhoon of 2020.

This shouldn’t terrify us because we are used to extreme weather disturbances, right? I hope so but, no. I think we all learned a lesson after Haiyan (Yolanda) in 2013, which killed thousands of people in several parts of the country, including my own, Cebu. It’s still better to prepare than suffer the consequence of poor disaster planning which consequently results in the loss of lives and massive damages to properties.

I have friends in this part of the country where Rolly has battered. I hope they and their loved ones get spared from Rolly’s wrath. Typhoons are itself scary; super typhoons are horrifying. Something about Haiyan and what I remember of her makes my hair stand as I wrote this. I can still hear her roaring voice, screaming like a mad woman in the distance.

Here, where I am, the weather is gloomy with occasional rainshowers. Wind is moderate, last night, it was stronger. Some people preferred to stay at home, like my cousins and aunts, who canceled tonight’s birthday dinner for sis-in-law. While some others decided to go on their daily chores and activities, as with most of my families.

This year, cemeteries are closed due to the pandemic. And I’ve not yet visited my late aunt and grandpa who passed away recently. I didn’t even had the chance to see them on their funeral. Times have changed dramatically. The new normal still doesn’t feel normal at all. And I can’t help my mind as it wanders to a time before Covid.

Another thing that will change this year is Mother’s way of celebrating All Soul’s Day which falls on her birthday. Unlike before, she will have to stay at home this year and stay with us… and celebrate her 68th birthday. She normally would go home to San Remigio in the far north to visit her siblings and relatives and also pay her respects to her parents who were both buried in a remote cemetery in Busugon– Lolo Santos and Lola Talia. It’s the Catholic way of commemorating the day of the dead. And I admire everyone who never forgets their departed loved ones, like my Nanay.

Bless her on her special day. I did not grow up to become like her in any way but she knows I’ll always be grateful I have a Nanay who loves us unconditionally.

This is a short video I made to remember the people we loved and lost.

In a Catholic’s life, this time of the year is not just about trick or treat. In fact, we don’t practice these activities here before. But again, times have changed and the society had learnt to adapt. When I was little, what I remember about “Adlaw sa Minatay” or “Day of the Dead”, is a time to remember the loved ones we’ve lost– visit them where they’re laid to rest, offer some flowers and prayers, sometimes, even food. As a child, my favourite part of the occasion was the food.

Not because of the weather but I’ve decided to stay at home tonight and rest because the massive headache that started last night has not subsided yet. I can make use of the time that I am alone to rest or write this short narrative while everyone is away. Or maybe re-watch my two favourite animated movies about the value of family and love, which, as I remember, made me cry like a baby. Yes, I am overly soft and mushy-weepy like that.

And if you haven’t watched it yet, please do so.

It’s gonna touch something in you. Coco and Up taught me that only one thing really holds value to weather the storms in our lives. Anything else is just an accessory to our survival.

I Forgive Myself

For being wrong.

For trying to be “the” perfect someone to a lot of people.

For allowing others to affect, control, mistreat me.

For the wrong choices. For fighting when there was no reason to do so.

For disrespecting myself, and allowing others to disrespect me.

For settling down to a bare minimum of efforts. For loving people too much that I forgot myself.

For the mediocre things I allowed myself to swallow. For not fighting for my dreams.

For comparing myself to people whom I will never ever be. For thinking so low on myself because of what I read. God, my hairs still stand and I cringe at the thought.

(Sigh)… (Breathe)…

For not allowing my heart to grieve at that time when all it really wanted was a sufficient time to grieve. For not seeing, feeling, and acknowledging pain as it is.

For trying to be strong for people when in truth, I was shattered inside. For lying to myself.

For trying to fit in into people’s definition of happiness. For not standing up for my worth as a woman, as a human being.

For not giving it the love that it deserves. And for a heart like mine, I contest that I deserve more.

Like seasons, people change. And so do our emotions and our views on life.

For the past weeks, I shut down from the world. And I used this space to bleed. People who reached out to me, the majority of them, were ignored because this is my way of coping. And I hope my people have understood.

I normally don’t ask anyone’s shoulder or their ears at my lowest lows. I thrive and I normally was able to get back up on my own.

When others need a strong support from their circle, I try to make it out on my own instead. This has always been the case for me. Even the family are oblivious to what was really going on. Some friends say I am built this strong, while others see it as a play of the ego.

No.

I don’t open up because I can’t allow my pain, my hurts, my negative emotions to be passed on to anyone whom I will share my story. We are humans, afterall. What others feel, we can feel it too— especially if the person is dear to us. That’s why I always refrain from sharing because it hurts me when I see my people hurt. I would share some stuff to my closest friends before– Julieta, Shielo and Joyce. But they end up feeling so hurt for me. Jul would cry for one whole night and I end up the one consoling her/them. I felt selfish. They don’t deserve to bear my pain.

My pains are my responsibility because they came out of every bad choice and decision I’ve made. It would be too selfish to let other people suffer with me and for me for my own wrongdoings.

It took me a while before I woke up from the nightmare. Yes, what I went through this year was a nightmare of some sorts. And only when I’ve fully acknowledged the gravity of the emotion that I bore with me daily did I feel a sense of strange lightness that goes on until today.

When I gave my emotions a name, I also was able to find a way to act on it. You have to name your demons so you know how to kill it.

I admit that I was very, very, sad. I was so pained. I was judged, maybe being laughed at by a lot of people. I was shamed. I felt neglected. I was abandoned. I fell short of people’s expectations. I felt unworthy. So embarrassed. I had so much fear for what I am going to face after. I was so confused and bothered. I lost my old self in the process.

Yes, I was so lost.

But I made a way to act on this hell of emotions. If I can’t control how to deal with them regardless of what external stimuli is thrown at my direction, anything that I will face onwards will surely get me back on the same dark pit. Every single time that I feel the gravity of my pain, I tell myself to manage it. I need to do it because no one’s going to help me but me. Not easy, but I’m trying so hard to never lose sight of the progress I’ve made. These are minute changes in the way I cope but I thank myself everyday for persevering.

People’s opinion of me will never define who I am. I am not what my past was. I know my worth and what I can bring to the table. I trust my progress even if they are turtle steps to many people. I have a loving heart that can see beyond pains that people inflected on me. I won’t hate. I will not drink the poison that is hatred just because I’ve gone through a difficult time… or that people have chosen to hurt me. But the lessons are ought to be my compass. And I’ll take this same heart with me and will take care of it. I felt ashamed that I have allowed it to be so so broken this year.

I’m sorry, my dear little heart. I promise I won’t settle for anything less than what I deserve— in any areas of my life so I can protect you. I will protect you from those who will try to break you again.

But I’ll do so as I continue to be soft because I don’t believe in being invincible as being strong. Not being true to your emotions is a weakness. Denying yourself to be vulnerable is a weakness. It takes more courage to accept our vulnerability than it is to feign bravery. That’s how I see courage in people and I know many others may raise their brows.

I’ve forgiven myself for all the ways and means that I have not honoured myself. And I decided, from here on, I’m going to choose myself first over anyone and anything.

I’ve forgiven myself for the things that I cannot take back— time, trust given, efforts made, words said and unsaid, tears shed, compromised health, my happy old self… my abled left hand before I got hospitalized.

So here I am, about to end this narrative. Wearing my heart on my sleeve, bleeding in this space that have become my sanctuary for nine years now. Still, I’ve continued to shut down from the majority of my circle and maybe, I won’t be back in a long time. Maybe I won’t be back anymore like before but in a different form. Let’s see. I’ve thought about my digital footprint several times before, and maybe, it’s about time I hit total reset.

Let’s see where life takes me. And thank you, all of you. Your prayers did help. I hope you all are living happy lives. Please stay safe. Amping.

I’ll see you all again.

Of Rains, Thunders and Lightning

When I was around eight years old, I remember being stuck on the road because the floodwaters were high and the current was stronger than what a young child can hold. The heavy rain, the deafening thunder and lightning terrified me while I battled to get out of the water asap.

We were asked to leave the school immediately that morning and go home because a storm was about to make landfall. My clothes and bag were drenched and I was so cold. I stayed in that place in fright while the lightning and thunder roared past above me. I became a human conductor of electricity at that moment… and as a child, that made me tenfold terrified. A few meters from where I stood, an open pit that connects to the main drainage of a Power plant which flows directly to the sea was raging. Lightning. Lightning. Floodwater. I Sobbed. “You will be washed away”, I told myself. I held my useless umbrella in the air and wanted to throw it away— because I realized that its handle was made of metal. None of it could help me. The tears I shed at that moment were concealed by the rain that completely soaked me. I was so scared that day that until my adult years, I fear being outside when the weather is bad.

I fear about lightning and thunder. I’ve grown a dislike for the rain.

I was a mountain girl before I became a city dweller. My father, the family, we used to grow crops in the mountains long time ago. We needed the rain to sustain our crops and enough sun to make it grow and good for harvest. I’ve scaled the mountains near our place even during heavy downpours because I didn’t have a choice. Facing your fear is inevitable— it was, in my case, during those times.

When you don’t have a choice, you’ll eventually become resilient.

And then one day, I learnt to love the rain as much as the sun. A writer helped me open my eyes about rains and thunderstorms and the beauty that they hold– that they can be beautiful too, even if sometimes, they are destructive. I guess there’s always a part of us that loves to hear the pitter patter of raindrops on the roof when it rains. Or wanted to taste the rain on our tongues. Or just to feel the droplets of water on our palms.

I hold my palms open in the air when it rains for no reason. Maybe it’s to acknowledge that I’ve befriended this season after the years that it has terrified my younger self. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just weird.

However, continuous and consistent rainfall gives me SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a struggle for people who are used to the tropical weather. It’s one reason why I would choose to live in a place that is predominantly sunny… or at least someplace where I can see the sun when it rises and sets everyday. Winter is only good for Christmas. I think?

As I wrote this, the heavens are already screaming. The rains have poured and I am in my window counting the seconds to see how far away the lightning was when the thunder struck. Pangga told me that for every 5 seconds delay, lightning is 1 mile away.

I need the title of the song in the background.

I pray for rains to come at night when I’m about to sleep and for it to stop when I wake up. That’s when it should come and go— in the night. I wish to sleep with my window open so I can let the cool breeze comes in. We tried before and then the mosquitoes flocked and we ended up killing more than a couple dozen at past midnight… Mosquitoes. I would never want them biting Pangga anywhere.

I used to imagine dancing in the rain while singing, but all I really did was– imagine. I’ve made friends with thunders and lightnings now. They are full of power and rage and they still send shivers down my spine. But they remind me that, like all of us, nature needs to scream sometimes in order to be heard and felt.. Or maybe, even cry, so it can bleed.

Needing a big teddy bear hug today

“Everything happens for a reason”. I held onto these words so my mind can stop overthinking why things happened the way they do.

Even at the start, I know why I needed to go through what I went through this year. It was clear to me so I faced my fears head on. I didn’t know any other way to confront my older self the moment she and I will sit at the table throwing blames at each other, asking about the decisions my younger self had made. I needed to be brave for me. I needed all of it to happen to be strong.

But then I realized, I can only do so to a limited extent. I also feel tired. So. F***ing. Tired. I bawled at the top of my lungs when I’m alone. As with most people, I wished to be held in place when I quiver because even standing on my feet requires so much strength from me to do. I felt drained just by doing it. But this display of weakness, you will not see that from me. I’m great at pretending I can manage my emotions, however difficult they are to handle.

And I do pray I can.

I’ve fought battles this year for my peace of mind, for a little piece of my heart for it to be happy. And I was happiest. I’ve let go of people– the ones I never thought I’d have the courage to forego… Iggy… I juggled my emotions in a way that was no longer healthy because I don’t want to burden my person with my personal issues.

I only want him to be happy.

I’ve denied myself the right to properly grieve and give it the time it needs to heal from all the heartaches it took in a span of six months, since the pandemic. From making the biggest decision I’ve made to date and accepting the consequences thereafter, something I am still proud I’ve done because it made me believe I can stand on my decisions, to having and living my own fairytale, to trying to fix problems here (work) and there (family), to the adjustment of working remotely, to losing my lovely aunt, to being crushed like hell, to forcing myself to act and be normal despite the intense grief I should have had dealt with on my own first, to losing my remaining grandparent, to being sick and now being uncertain about so many things.

Since the last couple of months when all these things were happening, I forced myself to swallow every ounce of tear that welled up my eyes because, I had to be strong. I had to be normal. Normal is me not crying… or being sad. Normal is me being the happy kid-at-heart that I am, despite being crushed inside. And now, I feel like drowning from my own pent-up emotions.

I can’t be the sad auntie to my baby monsters. I have to be the quirkiest, the jolliest, the most caring who will always look after them. I had to forget myself when they’re around.

Sadly, they are always around me now— Francois and Jorge, Alexis, Ava and Kuya Xian. I can’t afford to break their hearts. I can’t afford to be sad because these kids will know if I am. And they’re gonna be sad, as well… my precious angels.

One time earlier this month, I broke in tears, sobbing like a baby in front of my person. It was the kind of release I deem necessary so I can breathe again… and maybe, regain my old self back~ the happy kid in me who gets excited about sunrises and sunsets… beautiful clouds, the moon, even rain and thunder and lightning, the oceans and the mountains, who sings like a mad woman when I feel the music, who will talk to frogs or lizards because I’m just like that, who will always choose to love and understand, instead of hate.

What else do I need to anticipate from 2020? More trials to test my courage? I hope God doesn’t see me this strong. I hope He stops testing me for what I am capable to endure. For now, I am tired. And I am not ashamed to say this. My heart is tired and I felt the urgent need to deal with this alone, away from my circle, away from everyone. To have the privacy I need to process my emotions without forcing myself to act normal just because I can’t allow anyone to see me broken. I know that’s the only way I can grieve fully. But the pandemic limits the amount of help I can extend to myself.

Damn. P*ta que p*riu!

I can get back up by acknowledging that I’ve fallen flat on my face. And this is something I have not done openly and properly yet… because I can’t. 😦 Not pretending I am okay but acknowledging I have emotions to deal and wounds to heal.

Over a week ago, I was lying in my hospital bed unable to move an inch of my body. Everything hurts. Even breathing and talking needed so much effort to do but I managed to talk to people on my phone using voice messaging. I’d carry my IV stand to the toilet then to my bed— back and forth, everytime I needed to use the toilet. I was alone on that first night. I did not cry but I was verging on breaking down. I needed to save myself that night because I was left with no other choice.

One month ago was my 36th birthday. And despite what I’ve gone through, I was happiest. I was happiest.

Time. Oh time. Where art thou? Can I go back before September, please?

Hope

The breaking of a new morn beacons a new chance to hope.

Wherever you are in the world right now, may you always look forward to the next day with a hopeful heart that there’s still a better and brighter future ahead of us. Thank the heavens, the universe, God, the cosmos, for giving you this time of your life to live out your purpose. Continue to hold on because you are never alone.

We’re all in this journey together. ❤️

Yes Friends, I See You

I have to be honest, I sometimes stalk people online. Up to a certain point, I check my friends the moment they start to pull away. And then, I let them go, and I also go on my way.

Maybe it’s the same with other people. And also maybe, some others are more persistent and devoted. With a blog like mine which has very minimal views, I am happy to have this sense of knowledge of who my visitors are by just seeing where the views came from. Italy, Ireland and Czech Republic are easy to identify. Philippines and the US were the most difficult to trace.

However, a year and some months ago, I noticed that the same countries have viewed my blog persistently. These devoted viewers were from Germany, Finland, Australia and Canada. Germany had been the most devoted because it would check on me sometimes once or twice daily.

I don’t have a single idea who these people are behind this stat. But I have a feeling, they were the same person eversince I noticed this trend in my analytics— the same person who checks on me from time to time— and yet even with the lack of any update or new posts, it’s surprising that they still remain consistent up to this day.

I can choose not to give this importance but I am curious if somehow, these persons and I had met before, somewhere. And why these regular visits. Anyhow, this post is for all of you to let you know that I acknowledge and appreciate you efforts in visiting this little space of mine.

As COVID-19 halts people’s lives around the world, the views became more consistent and frequent. Maybe because people have more free times now compared before? Or maybe, they are bored because of being put on quarantine, like me and needs something to read to divert their attention? I can’t be sure, of course.

Whatever it is, I am grateful for people who still have the time to check on me, regardless of where they are in the world– friends and families, alike. Or even strangers who happen to cross by this blog by chance.

At this critical time, I hope you all stay well, safe and healthy.

I hope you are all coping in the most helpful ways possible.