Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Perfect Painting

I'm painting again.

I start with a drawing and I put in the colors.
Each stroke of the brush has a story behind it.
Each color, shade, and angles.
Oh, how I miss painting.

Everyday, I look at your pictures.
I try to memorize the edges of your face.
The color of your skin and hair.
The depth in your eyes.

I make the painting as beautiful as possible.
I make sure the edges of your face are accurate.
The color of your skin and hair precise.
The depth in your eyes unerring.

The last painting I did was perfect.
But when I gave it to its owner, he gave it back to me.
He said it didn't look like him.
I stopped painting after that.

He said the painting was not him.
The edges of his face were wrong.
The color of his skin and hair wrong.
The depth in his eyes wrong.

The painting was perfect to me.
But he said it didn't look like him.
That painting is still with me.
But I can't find it anymore.

I'm afraid to continue painting you.
The last painting I did hurt two people.
I need to be careful this time.
I need to paint you exactly right.

I need you to be perfect.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

5 Firsts on My Fifth

Two weeks ago, we journeyed to the Land of the Rising Sun. It was my fifth time to Japan and there was still a lot of room for firsts.

My mom studied in Japan for 2 years almost right after giving birth to me. She loved it there so much even if she had to hustle away from her awesome newborn. :) When she came back, she promised to bring me there one day and spoil the crap out of me to make up for her time away from me. That she did (even if she didn't have to, honestly).

She's awesome.

We usually go the touristy places over there:

  1. Disneyland and Disneysea (Do not skip Tokyo Disneyland. I repeat, DO NOT SKIP TOKYO DISNEYLAND! It's Disneyland only or Disneyland and Disneysea - 2 days!)




         
  2. Asakusa (ala Mercato or Night Market)

         
  3. Akihabara (FAVORITE PLACE IN JAPAN EVARR because #ShoppingForAwesomelyWeirdJapanElectronics)
         
  4. Tokyo tour (Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ginza) for more shopping and eating


         
  5. Just about everywhere with FOOD!!!






This year, we added a few firsts and here they are:

1.  Maid Cafe in Akihabara

Mom usually likes to shop for watches and bags in Laox. It's a 7-floor shopping building and right across I saw a Maid Cafe. I dragged my parents to try and have lunch there instead of going to our favorite place, Denny's.
We couldn't take pictures inside, but...
 
Honest opinion: It was... ok. 
I probably should have done a bit of research on the prices because once you enter, they will tell you that there's an entrance fee of ¥500 each (about PhP220). And that's only for an hour. You have to pay again when you exceed. Food was limited and expensive and when you wanna take photos with the maids, they will charge another ¥500. 
There were dance and game shows inside which was fun to watch. But we were hungry so we really couldn't enjoy them. The maids were cute though. 
Mom got pissed off because it was taking a long time for them to serve the food. #HANGRY (I think they did that so we would extend our stay and pay the extra ¥500. But it's Japan, the Land of the Honest People, so I don't know.) Once they were served though, it was worth it (a bit)...
The barbecue-sauce cat is drawn on the plate once they serve it on your table. Kawaii deshou?
Overall, I enjoyed our 1 hour in the Maid Cafe. I don't think my parents can say the same thing though since dancing Japanese maids may not be their thing. I suggest stopping over there AFTER lunch. Have some dessert and coffee, then yell out "nyan nyan" (their version of "meow meow") to get the attention of the maids if you want something (seriously, we had to do that).

2.  Space [f*ckin'] Mountain

Nuff said.

3. Mt. Fuji

It was so breathtaking. From the car, it looked like a painting on the sky...  
My mom told me that the Japanese really think highly and respect Mt. Fuji that sometimes they call it Fuji-san. They treat the mountain as a living person.
Another thing that made this trip to Mt. Fuji awesome was the snow at the Fourth Step/Station.

First time to experience snow!!! *sings Let It Go*
4.  Sakura EVERYWHERE

Ohh, we were really blessed that we came just in time for Sakura season (spring). Sakuras were everywhere and JUST starting to fall. It was amazing.



I was surprised to see the Japanese also taking pictures and truly enjoying the weather just like all the gaijins (foreigners) around. I asked my mom why that is. I assumed they were used to seeing this beautiful thing every year so why were they celebrating. My mom's Japanese friend told us how the Japanese perceive the Sakura season and the story is hauntingly beautiful.
She said the Japanese long to see the Sakuras bloom because it means that the dreadful winter is over. For 5 months, the weather becomes excruciatingly cold and when they see Sakuras, it is finally the end of their suffering.
Sakuras also symbolize how the Japanese perceive life. The Sakuras bloom and they are celebrated. It's calming and exquisite. But after a couple of weeks, once the Sakuras know they have already exhausted their delicate beauty, they slowly let go of the stems and leave the trees empty and lifeless. My mom's Japanese friend said, "It's like they're committing suicide." Harakiri, she said.
She said that the Japanese are hardworkers. Work is their life. Without work or anything to be proud of, life is meaningless to them. When this happens or when they're too weak to do anything anymore, it is acceptable, even preferable, to end their own life. Because for them, being useless and a burden to someone is not an option.
I never thought a flower can be perceived as a celebration of life and death. (Uhh, this is why I love Haruki Murakami.)

5.  [Legit] Sushi and Kimono Tour at Shizuoka

We went to the my mom's friend's house which is in the province. We had to take a bullet train (Shinkansen) to get there. Her house was enormous and peaceful.

She showed us around and fed us with legit sushi in a legit sushi house. Just reminscing about it now is making my mouth water...
It was prepared right in front of us so we could see how fresh all the ingredients were. My mom's friend taught us how to properly dip sushi in soy sauce. You should dip the fish not the rice so you flip it to the the fish side, dip, then slide towards you.
There was lobster, scallop, eel, sea urchin,etc.! I wasn't a fan of the sea urchin because it was slimy, but the others, I had no problem devouring. The plate may look like you won't be able to finish it in one sitting, but trust me... you can do all things in the name of sushi.
One more thing that my mom's friend made us do is to walk around a "village" wearing kimonos.


It was such a cool experience because you get to choose which colors you want and the fancier the better. They said a woman wearing a kimono should not open her legs or walk fast. Maybe that's why the slippers/sandals were so uncomfortable and the kimonos are so tight. My mom's friend told me to walk in small steps. I didn't have a choice but to do just that since kimonos are wound to your body multiple times, limiting your movements.
It was such a nice experience though because somehow, we were able to immerse ourselves to the amazingly rich tradition and culture of the Japanese. I hope the Japanese people preserve them forever.

5.1.  Onsen (Hot Spring)

When we were at my mom's friend's province, we stayed at a hotel with an Onsen. It wasn't really my first time going to an Onsen, but it was my first to go at night and have the place to ourselves.


This is an example of Japan's public bath area. People go in naked, shower, dip their naked selves in the 40℃ volcanic water, meditate a bit and let all their anxieties melt together with their dead skins. Uhh, I loved it. Right after we bathed in the Onsen, we had a foot massage, and slept like babies. That's. How. It's. Done. Goodnight.

We had such an awesome time during our trip. Mom promised that next time, we may finally go to Kyoto and see them temples! I can't wait for my next firsts in the Land of the Rising Sun!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

A Peek of the Future Last Friday...

Last Friday, I finally got my diploma! After putting off claiming it for the past 4 years, I finally got it!

YEAH!

Two weeks ago I decided to go to graduate school. I wanna study Behavioral Economics or Social/Cognitive Psychology. Finally claiming my diploma legitimized my intent to go back to school. I've been in the zone reading books, articles, research papers, etc. to prepare my rusty brain. I CANNOT WAIT.

I'm not gonna lie. I'm really scared to go back to school. But it feels like I'm making the right decision because I'm experiencing calm anxiety. That means it's really important to me or that I really want it, and I'm ready. Finally having my diploma in my hands gave me nice and soothing palpitations.


---


Last Friday, I got invited to watch a movie with friends. Only it wasn’t just “watching a movie” I was invited to. I would also be watching 2 of my closest friends get engaged!

#AnnaSaidYes

Uhh, it was so awesome! It was nice seeing highschool friends and witnessing the proposal together. It brought back all the memories and how they all make sense now.

Apart from the proposal, the most important thing that happened that night, for me, was being reunited with one of my best friends in highschool. When you have a peek of the future, you let go of what’s unnecessary and hold on to what’s important. That’s exactly what happened. I finally let go of the pride and the shit that comes with it, and held on to the friendship and the person. I’m so excited now to experience a better future together!

Congratulations, Anna and Chris!!!

While wiping off my tears after the proposal, I couldn’t help but think, “Kailangan payat na ako sa wedding!


Cheers to the future! :)

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Hangovers and Makulay na Daster

Things that happen after reading a Murakami or Kundera book, watching a Pixar film that poses as "for kids", or going to a gig of your childhood-favorite band... while drinking cocktails and 3 bottles of beer.

"Kay bilis kasi ng buhay, pati tayo natangay."

Ebe Dancel had a small gig in 12 Monkeys. He promised to play all Sugarfree songs. SUGAR [F*CKING] FREE.

The last time I watched Sugarfree play was the night they disbanded. And as if the sky knew what was happening, it rained pretty hard. I remember it clearly because while I was soaking wet jumping up and down, I stepped on shards of broken beer bottles. With my bleeding foot, I continued to sing along because... SUGAR [F*CKING] FREE.

I can't remember watching my first ever Sugarfree gig. I do remember following them around with my bestfriend when I was in highschool. We used to make Ebe, Jal, Mitch/Kaka sign our [very cool] phone cases...

because we honestly didn't have enough money to buy their actual album and have them sign it.

I remember how their songs spoke to me when I was going through things (a.k.a. puberty). I remember listening to all of them thinking, "P*cha, ako ba kausap mo? Sapul eh."

(FUN FACT: My favorite song is Cuida.)

And that's why I didn't care that I stood for 3 hours at 12 Monkeys that night. I didn't care that I was singing out loud while people on their prestigious tables were staring. "Kung pag-aari ko lang ang lumbay, itatago ko siya habang buhay." I mean... SUGAR [F*CKING] FREE!

And then I received a text from my sister...

At around Ebe's 5th song, I found out my grandmother (on my dad's side) passed away. She was gonna be 91 years old yesterday.

I immediately thought of my dad. Mama had been sick for months. She's in the States. Last February, my auntie asked my dad to visit them there. "Para makita mo naman one last time," she said. My dad went there alone to check up on her. He stayed at the hospital with her for a week. The last thing he said was, "Ma, aalis na ako bukas ah. I love you," then kissed her on the forehead.

Goodbyes are very important no matter how difficult they are to say.

My auntie called the other night. She's the one arranging everything for the wake. She was telling my dad that she had no idea where to put all of Mama's stuff. She had a lot of clothes that no one wanted. I remember seeing her in her colorful dasters all the time. Her pajamas and church clothes are the best because they had to match. They had to be made using the same fabric. It was so funny and adorable.

Makulay na dasters and terno clothes. That's how I'll always remember how awesome she was.

Rest in peace, Mama. Have fun with Ang Kong!



(So please forgive me if I turned down any lunch/dinner invite. It's a bed/blanket-burrito weekend for me I'm afraid.)

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Finally

Twice. I cried in the shuttle home twice. The first time was when I lost my phone for the second time. I hid behind my jacket while rehearsing the spiel for my mom explaining why I lost my phone again. When I got home, I just hugged her and cried my eyes out even more.

The second time I cried in the shuttle home happened this week. It was right after a night of stripping away my mask and ingesting my pride whole.

Pride is such a hard thing to swallow. It gets bigger and bigger as you feed it every single day until it gets humongous enough that you're unable to carry it along anymore. A few weeks ago, I finally took a bite off it so I can survive and live my life. And on the day I cried in the shuttle home for the second time, I finally swallowed it whole.

When expectations are already rooted in your head about how something is gonna go, you try your best to think of the things that would go wrong so you're prepared just in case. And no matter how your expectations and strategies meet inside your head, you never really know how things will end up. And maybe that's the reason why I got so upset. Even though my head knew how the night will go, the reality of it all was still the worst.

When someone special to you makes you feel tells you you're not, it really hits home. When you strip off your mask and show the real you and someone tells you to put it back on, it really hits home. When you love someone too much and he's incapable of loving you anyone, it really hits home. That night really hit home. That's why I cried for the second time in the shuttle home.

Everything went dark that night. Then it got quiet. That's when my head started to talk to my heart. That's when my head told my heart to calm down and stop crying. That's when my head comforted my heart for being so brave. That it was finally done. That we've survived. It's over. Finally, it's over.

Right now, it's still dark. Still quiet. But on the other hand, I feel relieved. It was so difficult to swallow my pride whole. Right now, I'm having difficulties digesting it. But I feel lighter somehow. Slowly it will all be gone and I'll finally be ready to... do it over again. This time, do it right.

Do it right because my head and heart have already been through a lot. Do it right because I finally deserve it.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

3 things I picked up during my days in isolation

When I traveled ALONE to Isabela for work right after I came from my SOLO trip to Bohol, I thought, "Ok, enough of being alone. I'm ready to be with humans now!" But now that I'm about to go home, it feels like the end of an awesome vacation even if I had to work.

To end this AMAWZING "vacation" in a good note, here are 3 things I learned during my almost 2 weeks of isolation:

1. Everything is expensive!

Hotels, restaurants, and even toiletries are steep when you're alone [and picky].

Hotels - There are very few [good] hotels that offer rooms for 1. Of course, Agoda and Booking.com are there to help you out, but if you want nice clean private bathrooms and a change of sheets and towels everyday, you need to prepare to shell out a bit more than usual. Privacy is pricey. #SeeWhatIDidThere

Restaurants - The best restaurants (according to looloo, zomato, and tripadvisor) [around the Philippines] rarely have meals for 1. They only have meals good for 2-3 persons at the least. I couldn't try most of the yummy dish because there were A LOT per serving. Ugh. This needs to change NOW!

Toiletries - This is actually my fault. Whenever I travel with friends or family, I only bring the essentials (e.g. facial wash, deodorant, toothpaste). I don't bring the ones you can share. Oops.

2. You cannot control the conversations you have with yourself.

At first, I started talking to myself in the bathroom, then in front of the mirror, then before going to bed, then in the car, then in the elevator, then while crossing the street, then while eating in public, then while watching a movie, then while walking around the mall. JUST LIKE A CRAZY PERSON. Even smiles become uncontrollable. Whenever I remember something funny, I smile like a creep while looking into nothingness. Weirdo.

3. Small talks are no different [for extreme introverts].

They still terrify and annoy me even if I kinda seek for them. They’re even worse when you’re travelling alone because strangers suddenly small talks with you without warning.

When I decided to travel alone, I thought, "Oooh, finally a chance to meet new people!" NOPE! I still freak out when I see strangers in my peripheral vision approaching me. I swear, one time, I actually ran! (Ok, not ran. More like brisk walked.)

There was one small talk convo though that I liked. A couple of Titas approached me while I was on the Loboc cruise (i.e. I couldn't run away.) in Bohol and said, "Buti pinayagan ka umalis mag-isa. Ang bata mo pa naman. Ilang taon ka na ba?" BOOM! I awkwardly laughed and replied, "Ay, 26 na po ako." I loved seeing their faces after I said that. I love Boholanos.


I REALLY enjoyed my time in isolation. But I think it’s the perfect time to come back home. I haven’t seen my dad in more than 2 weeks (he went to the States to see my lola), and I miss my mom, sister, and bed. At least I’ll have the weekend to adjust and rewire my brain to go back to normal.

I'm looking forward to my next solo trip! This time international maybe? (Ugh, I’m running out of vacation leaves and it’s only February. <3>

Friday, February 19, 2016

"Oh, it's just me."

“You’re here for vacation? Who are you with?”
“Oh, it’s just me.”

Most of the people who asked me that question just nodded and said, “Oh…” As if to say, “Oh, I get it. You’re probably doing that That Thing Called Tadhana thing. Aww…” Or maybe, “Oh, you’re soul searching. Like how Julia Roberts ate, prayed, and loved.” Or maybe, “Oh, that’s kinda weird. Stay away from me, you weirdo.”

Honestly, the main reason I wanted to go to Bohol is… I WANTED TO GO TO BOHOL. I’ve always wanted to see the Chocolate Hills and the huge stretch of white sand in Panglao. I didn’t go because I was escaping or trying to “find myself” or whatever. I went because I wanted to.

At first, I was super excited. I AM an independent woman and I was travelling alone. I felt like I could do anything. But as the trip got nearer and nearer, I started getting nervous. Can I really go all the way to Visayas on my own? I don’t even speak their language! They’re gonna hate my weird trying-real-hard-to-be-normal-amongst-strangers-so-I-become-super-perky self! But oh well, I already paid for the flight, hotel, and everything. I just have to put on my normal-human mask and I’ll be fine.

When I went around the city, I didn’t really care about the people (tourists) around me because there were a lot of things to see and learn. I didn't mind the stares they shot me when they find out I'm alone. I like doing city tours because that’s when you truly feel and grasp the culture of a place.  When you see people doing the most mundane things, that’s when you truly know their “patterns”. Boholanos, I found out, are really friendly and welcoming. Tagbilaran, after all, is the City of Friendship. My weird humor is not that well-received though. I keep making the service staffs laugh wherever I’m going, but they seem to misunderstand what I mean. It’s probably the language barrier. They probably don’t understand my jokes. Of course, that’s the reason. I KNOW I’M FUNNY!

I think when you’re travelling alone, you get to experience things on a higher level. Everything is amplified. Food tastes better (or worse if they’re bad), sceneries are more overwhelming, and stares are more noticeable. I think it’s because there are no one distracting you from truly experiencing everything you eat, see, smell, hear, and feel. You only worry about yourself and for me, that’s the most relaxing thing. Whenever I’m travelling with people, I always worry if they’re enjoying my company. I get dragged to adventure-y places to do adventure-y stuff. If something goes wrong, I always worry that they might get pissed off. Now that I’m alone, I’m completely worry and stress free.

Now, I’m finally here in Panglao! The beach is just amazing. The low tide upped my amazement even further! The sand is super powdery, it feels like walking on clouds. Uh, it’s so beautiful!

The thing about beaches though is time seems to slow down. There’s nothing much to do but chill (or it’s probably just in my case since I don’t like water adventure things). Every experience is once again amplified. My thoughts (evil ones, sad ones, happy ones, etc.) got louder. It felt like my day was being written by Haruki Murakami. Suddenly, everything around me and everything I did had existential meanings. I loved and hated it…

I loved it because I finally get to hear my thoughts! I actually have time to listen. I’m usually just tired from the commute every single day after work that I don’t even get to think about things anymore. Now I have the whole day to recharge my thoughts. But too much thinking can lead you to a trap. I suddenly noticed myself crying on the beach because of these unruly thoughts.

Two days before my trip, something happened. I bumped into someone I didn’t see for more than a year. He didn’t see me, but I saw him. I did the double take and everything so I could really make sure it was him. It was him, alright. My initial reaction was pure panic. I started hyperventilating. When I finally calmed myself down, I started asking questions.

What does this mean?! Why now?! I was doing so well. I was moving on! WHY IS THIS HAPPENING, UNIVERSE?! Ugh, destiny sucks.

When I saw him, all feelings came back. Both good ones and bad. I wonder if he felt my presence during that particular moment when I saw him. Scientists recently proved that the “bend” in space and time actually exists when there’s intense gravity present. I wonder if that’s true in an ultimately minute scale, say between two people. Are they able to feel the weight between them? Are they able to feel the unevenness of the weight? Is it painful for the both of them? These were the questions I asked the ocean this morning as it swallowed my tears.

These questions will obviously remain unanswered. For now, I’ll just do my best and enjoy the few hours I have in this paradise. Once I go back to reality, I will do the thing I do best. Fake it until I make it. I think I’m awesome at that. The reason it’s hard for now is ‘cause I’m not there yet. I haven’t MADE it. So I just have to be patient and not ask dumb questions to the majestic ocean and ruin perfectly good sunrises.