Friday, February 23, 2018

On Fairness and Playgrounds

When I was in gradeschool, one of my classmates called me fat. Before I could respond (a.k.a. punch this kid in the face because I do not tolerate bullies), my bestfriend interrupted and said, "Yeah, but she's... good at Math!"

My bestfriend and I still laugh about it 'til now. I love her.

I went home that day pondering on what happened, and I realized that... I AM good at Math! I'm actually awesome at Math! But I'm also fat. Awesomely fat.

That was the moment when I decided that life is fair.

If you look at life in a linear way: fat - thin, good at Math - sucks at Math, rich - poor, etc., it will seem that life is unfair.

If you look at life in just a single spectrum of a certain quality and notice yourself to be close to one end of it, it will always seem that you lack or have too much of that particular quality. Think of it as a seesaw. You may want to be on top when you're at the bottom looking up and vice versa.

But life is composed of multiple combinations of those spectra. And somehow, if you sum up all these positive and negative qualities, you'll approach 0. Meaning life can pretty much be fair.

I stuck with this idealistic point of view until I found out what makes people's lives unfair.

Remember those spectra I was talking about? When someone is too good or bad at one of those, and he uses that quality to hurt someone else, that's when the seesaws get toppled. Just like how my classmate tried to do it to mine when he called me fat.

It was easy to handle that classmate since we were all kids and we were just in a classroom. I could easily punch him in the face* and life will be fair again. But what if you have no idea how to punch? What if you're one of those people who are good at Math, but sucks at punching? What if you're too nice and the bully is too mean? What if you are your own bully? How will you restore the seesaws then?

Life is fair. PEOPLE make it UNFAIR. The people who are too good at taking advantage are the ones messing up all our seesaws. And the only way to fight (besides punching them in the face) is to look for someone who can guard your playground and put the seesaws back to normal.

Sometimes, that someone can be your bestfriend (see first paragraph). Sometimes, it can be your parents or someone you hire to defend you. But most of the time, that someone is just you.

At the end of the day, those are your seesaws and you must learn to protect them. But until you can't, find comfort in the fact that those bullies have a very special place in the playground of hell.

*Kids, do not punch your classmates in the face.

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PS: I would like to send virtual hugs to those who are being bullied and have no idea how to protect their own playground as of the moment. *HUG*

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Unspoken Words and Loud Thoughts

"You seem like a robot sometimes," someone recently told me. He could have added, "You're also rigid and unapproachable," but I told him I already knew what he meant.

It's the second time someone's called me a "robot". A robot who just does her job at work and nothing more. A robot who finds it difficult to make friends because she fears she might lose her authority. A robot who sometimes prefers to be feared than be liked.

I couldn't decide what to feel when I was called a "robot" for the second time. It seemed inaccurate and misunderstood. I think it's funny that at my first job, their major gripe about me is that I was too nice.

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I'm starting to get overwhelmed with the future. I feel it slowly come up to me while I consistently run away from it. I'm afraid that one day, without warning, it'll finally catch up to me. Ready to slap me in the face.

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One thing you probably should know about me is that I was raised to be extremely independent. "When someone offers you something, always politely say no even if you want it," my mom would tell me. This applied to candies, chocolates, food in general, assistance of any kind, etc. My mom is the kind of person who worked really hard on her own for what she has right now.

When I got a bit older, I realized that I was able to turn the independence my mom taught me into something else. I became a good actor. Even if I needed food, I always acted full. Even if I needed help, I always acted like I have it all in control. Even if someone was showing me care, I always acted like I didn't need it.

When I got a lot older, it turned into something else again. It turned into pride. I would exhaust all my efforts before asking for help. Just thinking of needing someone or something else, made me feel weak. I turned into someone who couldn't see the difference between sympathy and love so when one of them is given to me, I'm not able to decipher which is which.

One of my best friends told me that the reason why I didn't have "someone" is because I didn't need one. Or at least it seems like I didn't need one. "People like to be needed sometimes. It makes them feel good about themselves," he said.

So the next time you offer me coffee, beer, or assistance of any kind, I will turn my brain off, take a deep breath, smile, and just say, "Yes, please. Thank you."

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I have a very good imagination. That's why I prefer books rather than movies. I think that's also why I prefer you far away than with me here.

I've conjured up a picture of you in my head. I'm scared that if I see you everyday, I'll find out that the picture doesn't resemble you at all.

Oh, but the thought of having you with me everyday puts a huge smile on my face.

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.


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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.