Sunday Currently • 03

Reading
I’m still in a reading lull. I feel bad that I still haven’t made progress with the books I planned to read and reread but I’m challenging myself to finish Atonement before this month ends.

Writing
…this Sunday Currently entry. I initially planned to write an entry about the things I’m loving this month but I thought I’d just summarize everything here.

Watching
The Prince of Egypt as I’m writing this entry. The first time I watched this animated musical adaptation, I was in elementary school. As Catholic school kids, we were required to watch movies like this. We shared our school’s mini auditorium with hundreds of other students, it was noisy, and it was hot as the venue didn’t have AC… but I remember loving the movie so much despite all that. I loved the soundtrack, too.

I’m still not done with The World of the Married but I’m halfway through the series. Should I make a separate entry about cheating? Char.

Listening

…to BTS!!! Sobrang late ko na!!! Hahaha!

Backstory: I have a very diverse taste in music. Blame it on growing up with Myx, MTV, and Channel V… I feel like there isn’t a music genre that I permanently fixated on. Okay, maybe for certain periods of my life: I went for boy bands and Britney in elementary, OPM bands in high school, pop in college. You get the point. It’s still changing depending on my mood, on which lyrics get through to me, and which melodies stick. I’m still discovering and rediscovering artists from different decades and genres. Sometimes I listen to my mum’s favorite songs from the 70s and 80s, I listen to Hillsong, I listen to indie rock / pop bands. I let Spotify surprise me with new favorites. I honestly just didn’t think I’d ever be a K-Pop fan… a fan of BTS for this matter. HAHAHA! Wow, coming from somebody who used to know Eminem lyrics by heart when she said she’ll never be into rap music, and actually considered loving Good Charlotte because of a guy she used to like. My point being I usually end up eating my own words. Lol.

I think this BTS craze started when I was browsing videos to watch on YouTube. Blackpink just released their collab with Selena Gomez and people were having mixed reactions about the song. I realized that I didn’t know anything about K-Pop at all. During that time, BTS also just released Dynamite’s music video and I told myself I’d give it a chance. I LOVED IT! No, I was OBSESSED with it. I was playing the song and its different versions the whole freaking day. Being the BTS clueless that I was, I had to watch a video about the members because, at first, I couldn’t even tell them apart. Lol. I started listening to other songs on Spotify, and watching their music videos on YouTube. Even then, I didn’t think I’d go ~*crazy*~ over BTS. I thought, meh~ maybe their music label banked on their good looks… and… autotune. Until I watched their carpool karaoke with James Corden and I heard Jungkook’s and Taehyung’s vocals. Eat my own words I did! Hahaha! And there was no going back since. I haven’t been this obsessed with a boy band since the F4 Fever we all had in high school. HAHAHA! My favorites are Jungkook, Taehyung, and Jin. Hihihi~

What’s even funnier is that I got Jet to watch their videos, too. I don’t know if he’s just so supportive of my obsessions or he was amazed by BTS’s Billboard achievements that are comparable to the Beatles.

Thinking
…about what to eat for dinner.

Wishing
…the days would go slower.

Hoping / Feeling
…I’d come into terms with my decision to wait it out. Sometimes I feel guilty for making excuses because of my doubts and fears.

Wanting
…nothing in particular.

Needing
…to gain weight. :( And a rigid review schedule.

Loving
…my recent purchases. I went to my go-to ukay-ukay last week with no intentions of buying but I ended up with a pair of culottes and 4 skirts. Growing up, I wasn’t the skirt-wearing kind. I was a bit insecure of my legs because I thought they were dark (which was ironic because I loved wearing shorts anyway) and in college, somebody actually pointed out my legs’ flaws. I’ve grown more confident about my legs. I love ’em now. Anyhoo, I got 2 midi skirts, 1 knee-length, and a mini skirt that I can’t wait to wear. And it’s floral! I’ve seen a similar skirt on Lazada from Forever 21’s flagship store but I’m so happy I didn’t purchase it. I also bought a PINK leather jacket from an online shop on Instagram. I got it for a reeeeally good price because I was looking at similar jackets from Zalora and sus kamahal! I’m so happy because I’ve been dying to have it, tapos mura pa and it has a really good quality. Ukay-ukay 4lyf. Promise, quota-ng quota na. I won’t buy this year na. Lol.

I also love the bluetooth keyboard that Jet had been bugging me to buy! I can’t be trusted with anything techie and I was insisting not to purchase more because I could work without another gadget but he kept on saying it’s for my review and since I’ve signed up for Nursing courses all over the internet, and for my ~*blogging*~. Napaka-enabler. So ito, ginagamit ko na. Guess who’s eaten her words again?

I also love that on our recent Zoom call, Jet and I discovered screen sharing. On Google Maps, I virtually toured him around Legazpi, and he also showed me their house and some parts of La Trinidad, and the building in Mnl he stayed in for years. Tapos pwede na kami mag-stalk nang sabay. Char.

I also love the app Jet and I use for our Netflix dates. The first time Jet and I did a Netflix date, we just simultaneously clicked on play. When we watched The Hitman’s Bodyguard, we were having a hard time syncing our movies because the UAE version is longer. We had to pause many times so he could catch up. Hirap ‘di ba? I didn’t know there was an app called Rave where there is a video host and he/she could control when the video plays and stops. It’s like a “room” so you could also talk / chat while the video is playing. I think you can add as many people as you like. It works for Netflix and YouTube and other apps. The downside is, you can only watch a video that’s available in the country you’re in.

Speaking of Netflix dates, Jet is the perfect movie date talaga. I love how we have these extensive discussions after watching a movie. We love an expressive jowa. Haha. I have to finish this post fast because he’s just asked me to watch a movie with him since it’s his off. :)

*whispers thank God for technology* Hahaha!

Qs From Thea (Liebster Part 2)

1. How are you? Yung totoo lang.

– I woke up on the right side of the bed today. I woke up to a series of photos from Jet because last night he was tinkering with his camera and lenses and he showed me his shots. I watched some YouTube videos, ate my favorite chocolate chip bread, and brewed a pretty strong roasted coffee. I’m feeling accomplished because I’ve finally finished the reviewer I’ve been working on for weeks (months?) last night, and I’m now ready to move on to the text book. Parang baliktad? Before I do though, I updated my journal by copying one of my favorite letters from Instagram so I won’t ever forget, with Ysabelle Cuevas’ cover of Exile on loop playing on the background.

I miss you even more than I could have believed;
and I was prepared to miss you a good deal.

– Vita Sackville West to Virginia Woolf

On a general aspect though, I’m just trying to cope with the daily uncertainty. I guess it just hits harder because I had such big big plans for the year. I felt like I was finally getting my shit together by actually accomplishing ~*things*~ to advance my career and yet here I am… still. I try to remind myself that timelines are made-up and that no amount of guilt and hopelessness would ever fix something I have no control over. *sigh* Repeat every day.

2. Ano ang idea mo ng true friend?

Sobrang cliché pero true friends bring out the best in you… as with any healthy relationship. Maswerte ako kasi madami akong mga totoong kaibigan na hindi takot to call me out on my bullshit sans the sugar-coating. Yung tipong, I don’t have to act all defensive when I tell them about my life choices and decisions kasi alam kong hindi ako maja-judge, and their opinions are always welcome because they know what’s best for me. Two of my closest friends and I have had our taste of falling-out and yet they’re the ones whom I know I can turn to when my life is in shambles. I also believe that you can have true friends from all walks of life, from all ages, and across different platforms, and even in the weirdest of circumstance.

3. So far, ano ang pinakasulit na binili mo this year?

Parang wala naman akong masyadong nabili this year. Hahaha! Pero masayang masaya ako sa essential oils diffuser ko at sa bluetooth receiver for the surround sound speakers that I have kasi ayoko namang bumili ng bluetooth speakers dahil sayang naman yung luma, at dahil mahal yung bago. Salamat, Lazada!

4. Ano ang favorite series mo?

– Lately, medyo nahihilig ako sa K-Drama bilang umikli na ata talaga yung attention span ko. Isipin mo, 16 episodes lang at wala ka nang kailangang abangan na ibang seasons. Konti pa lang din naman yung napapanood kong K-Drama pero, so far, favorite ko yung Goblin, Itaewon Class, at The King: Eternal Monarch (kahit medyo nakakalito pero si Lee Min Ho kasi yun). Kung sa English series, kahit medyo na-umay na ako sa katagalan, may special place pa rin talaga yung Grey’s Anatomy sa buhay ko. Minsan if it’s on cable TV, pine-play ko lang kahit hindi ko na masundan. Gustong-gusto ko din yung How I Met Your Mother. Daming sinabi, favorite nga ‘di ba. Hahaha!

5. Kamusta naman yung kapatid mo, if wala kang kapatid, kamusta ang pamilya?

– Another not so fun fact about me, wala akong kapatid pero madami akong mga pinsan na parang mga kapatid ko na. Kauuwi lang ng mga pinsan ko dito sa La Union at dito sila nagwo-work from home. Masaya sila kasi kaga-graduate nila sa mandatory 14-day home quarantine. Galing ako sa kanila kagabi kasi inaya nila ako mag-wine at beer at makipag-chismisan tungkol sa persistent suitors who just won’t get the clue, trending Twitter videos, controversial law cases from the 90s, Jennifer Laude, K-Drama at kung bakit walang lasa yung pizza kagabi. On the other hand, yung mga Gaviña cousins ay isa-isa nang kinakasal at magse-settle down. Nalulungkot pa din akong isipin na hindi ko man lang sila napuntahan.

6. Mabilis ka ba makaadapt sa changes? Why or why not?

– Feeling ko, hindi. It takes a lot of time for me to get used to something talaga. Which is a bit ironic because I’m a sucker for start-overs…? which in itself is a kind of change… right? Labo. I like planning ahead, I like knowing what would and should happen and consistency matters a lot to me.

7. Ano ang favorite drink mo and why?

– Favorite ko talaga ang kape. Napaka-versatile kasi ng kape. It can be brewed, or instant, hot or cold, I can make it black or with lots of milk, really sweet or bitter… and I’d still end up liking it. Caffeine high din. Hehe. I’m actually high on caffeine right now that’s why I’m all fired up to blog.

8. Ano yung wildest dream mo?

Hindi naman siya gaanong wild, pero sometimes I dream about having a completely different life… one I have absolute control over without consequences and hard sacrifice. Yung kung pwede hindi ko na kailangang mag-Nursing and have a completely different career (ugh I sound so ungrateful but oh well), or yung pwedeng mag-kasama na kami ni Jet na wala nang iisipin masyado. Pero hindi naman kasi ganon kadali yun.

9. Maganda ba kung nasaan ka ngayon?

Noong una, nag-struggle ako with the fact that I have to live in a place I was unfamiliar with. I grew up in the city. I grew up where everything I needed was accessible and I had numerous choices. Probinsya ang Albay but it was comfortable. When we had to move here in La Union, walang maayos na internet access, walang malaking mall, iisa ang sinehan, mauubos ang oras mo sa biyahe papunta sa city. Pero, siguro dahil tumanda na ako at nag-shift na ang priorities ko at nag-iba na ang definition ko ng comfort, masaya ako na tahimik dito sa amin kasi madaming bundok at farm lands na nakapaligid, at masaya ako na malapit lang ako sa dagat. Malapit na kaming mag-10 years dito pero kinikilig pa din ako pag sunset. I mean, ‘di ba?

10. Ano ang pinaka namimiss mo na ginagawa mo noong 15 years old ka na hindi mo na nagagawa ngayon?

Namimiss ko yung hindi nagwo-worry about the future. Nung 15 years old ako, pinaka-worry ko lang yung hindi ako lumagpas sa curfew sa bahay na 5:30 kasi napa-tambay ako ng matagal sa grassland sa BU. Nakaka-miss na parang there was so much ahead of me and there was still so much time to be who I could possibly become. Ngayon, I’m almost in my 30s with a degree I have to make use of so I would be assured of a secure future na wala akong sasayangin. I know there are endless other possibilities but sometimes I can’t help but feel boxed up in the expectations and limitations of what and who I *already* am. Drama.


11. Ano ang advice mo sa kabataan ngayon?

Ito yung madalas kong sinasabi sa mga students na ginawang Guidance Office yung School Clinic namin noon: Don’t rush through life because once you become an adult, time could be fleeting. Take your time knowing and cultivating who you are first before worrying about whether that boy (or girl) will like you back. There’s plenty of time for relationships later on. Put yourself out there and meet people who could become your lifelong friends but keep in mind that some friends come in seasons and losing friends is normal. Keep only those who bring out the best in you. Don’t drink (yet)… There’s plenty of time for bad decisions later on. There really is such a thing as “learning from others’ mistakes” but should you fall and falter, learn to pick yourself up, you’d learn your lessons better that way. This is just a phase in your life which feels like it won’t ever end but, trust me, IT WILL… as all things good and bad. Be on your side.

Wow, coming from me talaga? Char.

Thanks, Thea! I had fun answering these. ❤

Liebster For A First-Timer

Maybe I was navigating through a different blogsphere back in the day because I never really got nominated for “awards”. As far as I remember, we didn’t have this culture in Multiply, and Blogspot, and Tumblr… or at least in the really small communities I belonged to, and in the era that I was in – Hello, Multiply? I should have a senior citizen discount! – I only got the sense of what blog awards are when Gabby shared her old Blogspot for me to read when she and I were contemplating on blogging again. I thought it was just a thing of the (blogging) past until I got nominated by Manay Jolens, a fellow Bicolana and one of the first bloggers I followed and interacted with when I blog-moved to WordPress. My WordPress community has been slowly growing since then, thanks in part to discovering other bloggers from her posts’ comments section. Haha! I guess this is also my way of reintroducing myself…? Thanks, Manay! ❤

Anyhoo, these are the blog rules:
• Thank the blogger that nominated you and provide the link to their blog.
• Answer the 11 questions given to you.
• Name 11 fun facts about yourself.
• Nominate 11 other bloggers.
• Ask your nominees 11 questions.

11 Questions (From Manay Jolens)

1. Why do you blog?

– I should start by saying I started blogging in my teens by posting a collection of open letters to somebody I couldn’t say those things directly to, hoping that one day he would get to read about my ~*feelings*~ Yuck. HAHA. These days though, I blog to document my travels, to attempt reviewing books and movies, to take note of my life musings and realizations… but it’s mostly to declutter and reorganize my thoughts and to channel them into this avenue to keep myself from going insane. And still to write lifelong (open) love letters to Jet.

2. What do you like most about yourself?

– I can be deeply committed (read: Scorpio) and because of it I take everything I set my heart on very seriously. I am committed to my interests, creativity, being organized, learning, and my relationships. If you mean a lot to me, I could even be committed to yours, too.

3. What is one thing that you are very good at?

– I was told I have a very structured way of explaining and expressing myself.

4. What is your favourite song at the moment?

Come invade my atmosphere
Inhale light and exhale fear

5. What constellations can you recognize when you look up at a starry sky?

– As much as I love star-gazing, I’m really not that familiar with constellations.

6. What was the last Filipino film you saw?

Die Beautiful. I didn’t expect it to be such a sad movie. It’s an eye-opener to the realities our LGBTQIA+ friends are experiencing and suffering. :(

(A bit timely that it’s available to stream on Netflix while Jennifer Laude’s murderer was pardoned by this fucking government. You’re not mad yet? Well, you should be.)

7. What goes on in your head when you solve 38 + 47?

“Do I have to?”

8. When did you last laugh?

– This afternoon. I received a care package for an online event that’s happening soon. I just found it incredible how people are capable of being creative for the sake of love. Uy, hindi para sa akin ha. Lol.

9. What is your favourite alcoholic drink? (If you don’t drink, why not?)

– Beer is still my go-to no-hassle drink and I associate it with afternoons watching sunset on the beach, getting tipsy with Jet, and kissing under the stars. Charot. But I love white wine, too.

10. What has been your most expensive purchase to date?

– A trip to Cebu… which could’ve been spent on more worthwhile purchases. Ay, bitter siya.

11. What are you excited about?

– It doesn’t take much to excite me these days, and the pandemic had me not looking forward to planning anything big… I’m excited about the next episode of The World of the Married, going out to run some errands tomorrow, and the next call from Jet.

11 (parang hindi naman Fun) Facts About Me

– A Re-introduction

1. Hi! My name is Kimberly. I’m mostly called Kim, or Mims by my closest friends.

2. I am 29 years old – just to end the mental calculation my new blogger friends make when I say “Naabutan ko yung coding at shining, shimmering, splendid phase ng Friendster.”

3. I am Scorpio Sun, Taurus Moon, Taurus Rising; INFJ Myers Briggs Personality Type – if those help (in any way?) to explain the energy that I give off. Lol.

4. I am 25% Bikolana and 75% Ilokana. Bikolanx? Ilokanx? Filipinx??? Irita talaga!!!

5. I can’t speak fluent Ilocano but I understand it 60% of the time. I am more fluent in (Legazpi) Bikol and I understand it 80% of the time, and my brain carries extra capacity for other Bikol dialects (sobrang diverse, umusog ka lang ng konti iba na ang salita). My accent also depends on whom I’m conversing with.

6. To explain #5: I grew up in Legazpi. I went to school there from 1st grade until I graduated uni. Legazpi is home. Sometimes I even daydream of settling down there.

To explain #5 further: I am currently residing in La Union – 9 years now. Yup, in the surf town of San Juan, and nope… I don’t know how to surf. I haven’t tried surfing yet, boo! We moved here after I graduated and after I took the boards.

7. I am a registered nurse. I have worked in a government hospital as a Pediatric Nurse and as a Labor / Delivery Room Nurse; I have also tried Community Health Nursing – both under Department of Health. Somehow, these stints radicalized me but, admittedly, I still have a lot to learn. I also tried School Nursing which I thoroughly enjoyed, and if situations were only favorable and if only I wasn’t aiming for more, I would have kept that job.

8. I have always kept diaries / journals. It’s something my mum had encouraged me to do ever since I learned how to construct proper sentences; probably as early as first grade. In 2018-2019, I tried writing every day, and it’s been very therapeutic and aided so well in helping me remember (because I am forgetful).

9. I have been blogging since I was 15 years old. (I just realized that’s half of my life, yikes.) Pre-social media, my Multiply (RIP) then Blogspot then Tumblr were my safe spaces. There were brief breaks every now and then but I always always go back to blogging, especially now that I am taking my nth social media hiatus. Weh?

10. I can play the guitar, so-so… and I taught myself how to play the ukulele. 😊

11. And oh, I am also into photography. I looove taking photos. The technical aspects of it though, I’m still learning from Jet who’s the biggest photography geek ever.

Nominees

Disclaimer: My WordPress community is still really small so I only have a few bloggers to nominate, those who probably haven’t been nominated for this award yet.

Her Name is Gabrielle
– a mental health advocate, one of my favorite bibliophiles, and one of my very best friends.

Better than a CT scan
– the first WordPress blogger I followed (whom I don’t know personally), one of my favorite bloggers, her entries truly inspire me, a darling, and sings and plays great covers of songs.

And Words Are All I Have
– one of the very few male high school friends I got to keep until adulthood, and whose “An Open Letter to my Beloved” entry is still a favorite; he hasn’t blogged in a long time but I’m still hoping he would again.

a broken strong-willed bella
– whom I’d like to think I’ve inspired to start blogging (lol), one of the most career-optimistic people I have ever met.

I came, I saw, I wrote an article about it
– a Pinoy spelunker, apparently the world is smaller than I thought because he has known Jet from Nursing school, and whose Twitter is very informative and funny too.

Gerrytology.
– a new blogger friend whom I spent a good amount of time conversing with about the struggles of Pinoy nurses.

Shades and Hues
– who has a very profound, creative, and detailed way of writing which I admire.

(Just noticed that 6/8 of these people are nurses; 8/8 have gone to Nursing school. 😜)

11 Questions (From Me)

1. Why do you blog?

2. What’s the story behind your blog title?

3. List 3 places in the Philippines that you’re dying to visit. #lovelocal Chos.

4. What is your favorite thing about your hometown?

5. What is one song on your playlist that you will never skip?

6. What is your go-to feel-good movie?

7. What are you most grateful for this week?

8. Describe the best year of your life so far.

9. What are you most complimented on?

10. Do you believe in astrology? (Zodiac: Sun, Moon, and Rising signs?)

11. Show me a favorite photo you took and posted online.


Did I do it right? 😜 Anyhoo, anyone is free to answer these questions, too! 😉 I’d love to read them.

Sunday Currently • 02

Reading
I haven’t been reading much lately. Okay, maybe not at all. This is what I sometimes call as a “reading lull” when I binge-read books and there’s just no energy to start (or in my case, continue) other books. I want this lull to be over so that I can go back to finishing the books I have started and finally read the ones I have on my TBR Pile.

I haven’t gone past the first half of The Unbearable Lightness Of Being by Milan Kundera which I had tried to start reading again a few months ago. I also want to continue reading Atonement by Ian McEwan, a secondhand copy I bought from a sidewalk in John Hay. I want to finally finish it before I rewatch Atonement when it starts streaming on Netflix on September 4. Tita Tess, our family friend, also lent me her copy of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus by John Gray. I have also been thinking of rereading Memoirs Of A Geisha by Arthur Golden because I was watching the movie a week ago and I was wondering how it would feel to read it as an adult. I was in uni when I first read it.

Writing
…this Sunday Currently entry. I can’t believe this is just my second one. When my blog name was still Sundazed Sundays, I envisioned that I would be writing weekly including Sunday Currently posts. Meh. Truth is, just as I haven’t been reading much lately, I haven’t been writing much as well. I don’t even remember the last time I updated my journal. I’m actually quite sad about it because I used to write every day. :( Once again, I gave in to the convenience of live-Tweeting my mini meltdowns and life wins(?) on Twitter. Every day feels the same, nothing grand really happens, and I feel like there’s nothing much to write about (and share on the internet) anyway.

Watching
Thank God for a better internet provider and I am now able to stream high quality videos! Lol.

Netflix: As highly recommended by my Psych friends Anna, and Gab – who is watching a Korean series for the first time! –  I have started watching It’s Okay Not To Be Okay. I also started watching New Girl. I used to just see reruns of New Girl on cable TV but it’s only recently that I got into watching it. I love Zooey Deschanel and I like Jake Johnson in Drinking Buddies even though the movie was meh. I also started watching Bojack Horseman as recommended by the Pod Parents on Wake Up With Jim And Saab. Anddd~ ever since they’ve put up all seasons on Netflix, I have been contemplating on rewatching Grey’s Anatomy because… why not?

YouTube: I kept seeing Tweets about people “wanting to be an architect” because of Llyan Austria‘s vlogs. I searched for him on YouTube because I am a frustrated architect and I wanted to know what the fuss is all about. He does reviews and gives architectural tips, and makes several bad tito jokes on the side, which makes him effective and informative as evidenced by the 1M subscribers he acquired in just a span of a few months. He also has a separate channel for his more serious videos. Speaking of tips, I have also been binge-watching Elle Uy‘s vlogs. She’s a decorator and a home stylist. She specializes in maximizing small spaces for functionality and gives tips in decorating. In fact, I got ideas from her videos when I was decorating my book shelves. *whispers I’m also a frustrated interior decorator / designer*

IMG_20200803_162646_579.jpg
My attempt at shelving.

Listening
…some lofi beats playing on YouTube while typing this down.

Thinking
…about taking a social media break (even though I know I’m going to take a screenshot of this blog post and share it on my Instagram story) who am I kidding?

Oh to be a miniature bunny sipping coffee, reading books, buying flowers and bread from a street corner.

A couple of weeks ago, I assembled my first DIY miniature kit and I was off the internet for 9 straight hours. It might be a privileged thing to say and I’m sorry :( but it was a relief not to read about the news and not know what people were up to. The miniature kit was challenging as the box was a bit smaller than my phone, but it felt as though my cloudy thoughts have been cleared up that I was actually inspired to pick up my Nursing manuals and reviewers and I have been productive in that sense since. Char. Not until there’s Netflix again you’re not, Kim. Lol.

Wishing
…for this to be over. Don’t we all?

Hoping
…I could get on to what I have been intending to do for months now. I can’t even talk about how misfortune after misfortune keep on happening but I can’t make excuses anymore. I had a clear vision of what I wanted 2020 to be like but all it’s ever been is convincing myself to take bolder steps and make more courageous decisions while trusting and honoring the pace that I am in. *cries in Spanish*

Wanting
…to get a new DIY miniature kit, and some dried flowers because I can’t bring in real plants to my room because there’s no access to sunlight here. :(

Loving
…my blogs’ new look, which I changed 3 or 4 times before I was satisfied. I got my dried flower wallpaper from Google and made a matching logo and sidebar image on a separate app for consistency. Wow. Lol. I had fun rediscovering PNGs and putting the blog elements together. I was reminded of those times when we DIY-ed coding for Blogspot and Multiply. I am that old.

I also love how Jet and I had our first Netflix date last night. We even prepared the same food because gusto natin talaga na may consistency at uniformity. Lol. We watched The Hitman’s Bodyguard starring Ryan Reynolds and Samuel Jackson and Two Weeks Notice starring Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant. We made a rule that we’d only watch movies both of us have not seen yet. We were also on video call while the movies were playing for realtime reactions. Hindi talaga kami clingy, promise. ;) Long distance relationships are hard, add the fact that UAE is 4 hours behind, but Jet and I try to make it easier this way. I’m blessed to have somebody who makes everything bearable. Arte!


Needing
…to reset my body clock, sino ba naman kasi ang nakaisip ng Netflix date?!


Feeling
…numbed out by the daily news but I’m still trying to be more informed because it’s hard to be arrogantly ignorant and neutral at a time when lives are on the line. Times like this make me feel like I’m finding my way towards something and somewhere uncertain, lost even. Alaska Young asked, “How do I get out of this labyrinth?” but I try anyway.

And then the next thing you know, you grow 9 years older, and you learn that home isn’t limited to a 4500 zip code, that perfectly cone-shaped volcano, ginataan delicacies, and confusingly malambing dialects.

Home can be…

a surf town

LU sunsets

pine trees

clouds close enough to touch

and the arms of an Ibaloi lad.

 

 


(As posted on Instagram last July 2019… but with minor edits and a photoset this time.)

A Love Letter On A Tuesday

I slept sad last night. I chose not to press my argument over an issue that was very personal to me because I knew we were about to have another heated argument which we seem to have more and more these days.

Like a ridiculous turning point, our untarnished (imaginary) score card has finally been marked, one tick for each argument we were having. Given my relationship history and issues, it was a pretty ~*big deal*~ to me. They say the honeymoon period of long distance relationships lasts longer than regular relationships’ and I have to agree. It took 2 years until we both finally lost our cool and had our first full-blown fight outside my occasional hormonal tampo, so we really are still treading uncharted waters here. Last night, we were ticking it again. I’m still trying to figure out which defense mechanism works when I get hurt. My non-rebuttal and sleep were the better choice… what, like I’m going to lash out (again)? Then cry out of guilt (again)? Lol

In the middle of the night, I woke up scrambling in search for my phone like it’s some involuntary reflex that I have. After getting some restful sleep, there was no point in getting sad anymore, I thought. I realized how you did make some valid points, maybe I ─ stubborn as I usually am ─ just didn’t want to admit it. I made room for patience and compromise and understanding ─ stuff of relationship podcasts, essays, and newsletters; words that weren’t part of my vocabulary 3-7 years ago; all wayyy easier to work on with you.

You asked if you could call me and I didn’t have it in my heart to treat you so coldly. Read: #marupok AF

Upon rediscovering the Search Conversation feature on Messenger, you went over our early conversations and giddily read them to me. An introspective clarity you had about your past triggered nostalgia. Remembering out-of-way drop-by, cheap cologne, high noon sunburn, saltwater, and crisp mountain air, always gives me warm fuzzy feelings as if they are almost perceptible from memory.

In contrast, I fought off sleepiness to listen to you talk about minimalist houses and all the stuff you are geeking out on, and of plans, plans, plans… all with a peek of a future you imagine I am (and would be) a part of. You know by heart how my life has always been anchored on anything but the fixed and the stable, so my life decisions don’t go beyond looking forward so far into the future. It’s been two years but the idea of some life certainties still feel so foreign and new to me, but you oh-so casually talk about it without any trace of doubt and it feels nice to feel and be anchored at last.

A 58-minute conversation kinda summed up how you are consistently the best thing in my life regardless of a hundred tick count or more, or none at all. It makes me feel guilty for even keeping score. My wrong notions about complicated, hard-fought relationships ─ and the dramatics that come with it ─ are sooo 2016 and they have no room in my life right now, or ever… okay, maybe I’ll make a little room for a blog post. HEHEHE~ ;)

Slow, steady, and oftentimes seemingly boring relationships are so underrated. But there’s no one I’d rather grow through it with than you. Anyhoo, “Am I boring you?” will always have a funny ring to it, doesn’t it? ;)

“Dear Kim, kumusta’ng bakasyon mo?”

Yesterday, because I couldn’t sleep, I watched Gusto Mo Bang Sumama? (The MYX Eraserheads Documentary) on Youtube. It was originally aired as a 4-part series back in 2008. I was so giddy! It’s my first time to watch a documentary about the band.

It filled me in with most of the things I’ve missed ─ only because I was so young in their heyday ─ from their beginnings, to their rise to fame, to their break-up. There were so many interesting facts like how their band name was just randomly picked from a magazine, how Raimund and Buddy had to switch roles because it didn’t sound “right” at first, how they were the first Filipinos to win an MTV award before MTV Asia even went on air, and that Ely was replaced by a girl when he decided to quit the band.

I can’t claim to be a fan fan but I’ve memorized enough song lyrics to be able to confidently sing them. In high school, when I was learning to play the guitar, I practiced with Ang Huling El Bimbo and With A Smile. It’s so ironic that I didn’t realize how huge they were then and yet I was a consumer.

I guess I became a bigger fan when I saw Raimund Marasigan play Eraserheads songs while he was in Flotsam and Jetsam one weekend in 2017. It felt like I was in a dream! The crowd was singing along to Pare Ko and that’s when it first hit me that Eheads wasn’t just one of those bands that have simply come and gone.

And when I met THE Toyang in the flesh two years ago, I was star struck. I still am, actually, even if I’ve already shared a couple of McDo meals with her, shared journaling ideas, and was welcomed into their church services ─ thanks to Gabby. Imagine being the inspiration to a song that people still remember to this day. (To be fair, she’s amazing on her own, pagka’t siya’y simple lamang, just like the song said.) I’ve listened to Wake Up With Jim And Saab podcasts featuring Ely Buendia and Raimund Marasigan in separate episodes. I’ve sat through 3 hours of Ang Huling El Bimbo The Musical which was free viewing on Youtube a few weeks ago, although its storyline was… a bit meh~

What strikes me most is that they refused to claim that they had good sound and musicality but they sure paved the way for local music that defied the “norm” back then. Imagine the impact that still ensued. This is why we ask for reunion concerts, and find inspiration for theatrical plays, and watch 2-hour documentaries about them at 4 AM.

I was telling Jet these things last night and I realize how us 90s kids are the perfect consumers of nostalgia and drama indeed.

The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah

Men tell stories. Women get on with it. For us it was a shadow war. There were no parades for us when it was over, no medals or mentions in history books. We did what we had to during the war, and when it was over, we picked up the pieces and started our lives over.

Disclaimer: I’m honestly clueless about writing book reviews – or any kind of review, for that matter – much less write riveting ones. I wish my Goodreads reflected more than just where I keep track of all the books I have read or remember reading, and the stars that I have given them. I guess I just don’t have the capacity to retain so much specific information to come up with descriptive analyses of books that I’ve read, although I wish that I do. Meh~

However, I do have my “back stories”. Stories of when and how I got a specific book, who gave it to me, and how it may have changed my views on certain things. So, I might write about those instead. Spoilers ahead!

~

The Nightingale was given to me as a homecoming gift from Zy when we met up for the first time more than 2 years ago. He’s a friend of a friend (Marcius) who thought that I should be friends with Zy because we both like reading books.

To be fair, I started reading The Nightingale on the same night that I got it. During that time though, I had just finished reading The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns back-to-back! If you’ve read those Khaled Hosseini books, you’d know how emotionally compelling they are. Needless to say, I did not recover easily and I didn’t have the emotional capacity for one more of that kind.

Summer passed and I got preoccupied with work and figuring out how to make the most out of a soon-to-be LDR relationship with Jet so I set The Nightingale aside until I picked it up again, 2 years later, for quarantine reading.

How silly of me to think, all along, that The Nightingale is about a nurse because… Florence Nightingale? Lol. It turns out that the book tells a story of two sisters with different personalities, ideals, yearnings, and circumstances, each fighting their own dangerous battle to survive in war-torn France at a time when Germans occupied the country during World War II.

Vianne is riddled with her own personal tragedies: her pre-war losses, a husband sent to the battle front, a best friend in danger for being a Jew, a daughter losing the innocence of her childhood to war. When a German billets in her home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy and she is forced to make difficult decisions in order to survive. Her younger sister, Isabelle, is driven by her search for purpose that when she meets Gäetan, a rebel who believes they can defeat the Nazis, she is convinced that she needs to join the Resistance and save lives.

When I Googled about the book, I found out that the actions of certain characters were based on real historical figures like Andrée de Jongh, a Belgian woman who helped aviators and others escape, and other women who were willing to risk their lives for others. I love how The Nightingale explores the unspoken story of women and their contributions to the war.

Before reading The Nightingale, I didn’t have much knowledge about the extent of power – and its specifics: the horrors and inhumanity– the German Nazis held over Europe in terms of the countries they had invaded. After all, the only book I’ve read about WWII was Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, which I also haven’t finished yet. (Sorry.) It also makes me wish I have gotten my mom’s copy of her book about Auschwitz.

It wasn’t such a difficult read considering its theme, especially if you’re the optimistic kind. It’s about tragedy and loss, but it also talked about hope and that no act is too small if it’s to help others. It’s about changing certain perspectives in times of great sacrifice.

I loved the challenge of trying to figure out who the first-person narrator was in certain chapters which kept me reading until I figured it out. If I wasn’t so distracted by the internet I would’ve finished sooner.

I can’t say that it’s my favorite book but I enjoyed reading it. I’ve read that Dakota and Elle Fanning are set to play Vianne and Isabelle in its upcoming film adaptation that’s set to be released in 2021. I’m looking forward to it.

Rating: ★★★★☆ = 3.5

Publishing a 9-month-old Draft A Day After Mother’s Day

I have not written anything in a while. I have just recently picked up from where I left off with my daily habit of journaling, and believe me, my entries and my spreads are not as artistically detailed and intricately thought out as it used to be. There wasn’t such a difficulty before – to scribble and scrawl (and type) away TL;DR-worthy entries – so long as I had an inspiration in mind that’s boosted up by a strong dose of feelings… or just a strong dose of caffeine. Or, both. I reckon, a strong dose of grief does the total and absolute opposite.

When I had to write – and, later on, deliver – a eulogy for my mother. I assumed that there was a general expectation for high praises and accounts of witnessing half of a life well-lived squeezed in a 3-minute speech. As much as I was convinced that I was devoid of anything to say, it was my duty to come up with something relatable as possible. I then had a more personal and better understanding of what John Green meant when he wrote Hazel saying, “Funerals, I had decided, are for the living”.

During the funeral, it made me feel uncomfortable and exposed standing behind that podium. – Relatively, I barely even post photos of us with lengthy heartwarming captions for birthdays and Mother’s Day because it feels a wee bit impersonal putting it out there. – The truth is, I just never openly speak about my mother. The thoughts and feelings I had and have for my mother are kept in private, or written in journals that never see the light of day, or only spoken about in hushed tones and, sometimes, in soft tears to people who understood the complexities of our relationship.

I never openly speak about how I believe I was raised by my mother differently. Sometimes, in jest, I tell Jet or my best friends, that my mother and I had a very “professional” relationship to balance out all the ways my father tried to spoil me. The stereotype and the wrong notion that, as an only child, I am believed to have been spoiled rotten? My mother made sure to prove no such truth to it. While my classmates paraded their pink Barbie bags and Hello Kitty shoes, I grew up getting gifts that only sparked imagination and creativity… hence the Lego blocks, the art and drawing materials, and hundreds and hundreds of books to read. She encouraged me to keep a diary as early as first grade. She kept all the “books” and stories I wrote. Summers were spent play-pretending to be the doctor’s secretary / nurse in her clinic… or, getting signed up for ballet lessons, guitar lessons, and swimming lessons because she said she would’ve loved to have them when she was younger.

I never openly speak about how she had unconventional ways of teaching me lessons. She used to say that in my terrible-twos, when I would wriggle and fight my way to make a mad dash to whatever it is that I want, she would let me stumble and fall so I would know how to pick myself up, and so I would know how to take things more slowly and more carefully. When I was being hard-headed, she’d spank me, scold me, and then she’d ask me why I thought she did that to me and why I thought I deserved it. Crying and pagdadabog wouldn’t solve anything and she certainly wouldn’t be swayed by it. She’d also put so much value in money spent that I grew up thinking that anything that’s worth more than 100 Php is expensive, but she wouldn’t mind spending a little extra if it’s for books, or food. Leftovers were a no-no, and leftovers had monetary equivalent… “Ubusin mo yan kasi 20 Php worth pa yan, sayang.” And Sunday mass is most important because “If you can sit through Lizzie McGuire episodes, and if you could sing to the songs of F4 which you are clueless to the meaning of, you can surely sit through an hour of mass and sing the songs just as heartedly.” As an angsty teenager, going against the rules always ended up with my allowance getting cut into half, getting an earlier curfew: 5 PM sharp, or getting my phone confiscated. The most ruthless intervention she did was to deny me access to my own room at certain hours. Coddle? Pfft! That’s not in my mother’s vocabulary. My mother was *that* stern. It’s something I had a hard time accepting as a teenager and there were times that I resented her for it only because I didn’t know better… and now I do. I swear I get a good laugh whenever I get greatly conscious about the values that I carry with me now while realizing hey, I turned out pretty decent (I hope!) but I can only wish I had become even half of who she was.

I don’t remember ever getting a taste of her cooking, or sitting for braids and fancy hairdos. But… I remember her patiently teaching me the Lord’s Prayer when I was four years old. I remember her writing children’s songs’ lyrics in big letters on a notebook so that I could read them easily… and, she sang them to me as well. I remember getting tucked into bed every night and getting my much-needed nose-to-nose and nightly I love yous.

I don’t remember ever receiving expensive gifts, or living extravagantly, but I hope I’ve acquired her practicality and class. Her impeccable taste for watches and bags is unmatched. Her eye for detail and her creative dexterity are impeccable. I hope I’ve acquired her value of giving the best that you can in whatever it is that you were fated to do. Take it from somebody who was practically absent every day in Med school to spend her time studying in the library because she didn’t have her own books. I hope I’ve acquired her belief in herself that she can and that she is able. Once, when I was younger, Jollibee had an ad tagline that said, “Kaya mo yan, kid.” to which my mother would playfully change to say, “Kaya mo yan, Kim.” and then I’d feel invincible. But also, realistically speaking, I hope I’ve acquired the value of letting go, too, when it is asked of me. When her disease progressed and it became impossible to continue her profession, and when it became impossible for her to continue living her life as normally as she used to, she willingly gave it all up to the One who made it possible for her in the first place.

~

This is an unfinished blog entry that I wrote a couple of months after my mom passed away. It had been on draft for almost a year until now, and I never really got into finishing it because I’m always at a loss for words. Maybe I still am.

It was Mother’s Day yesterday. I wasn’t expecting that it would be really tough. I cried myself to sleep after scrolling through hundreds of Instagram and Facebook photos and stories of friends celebrating their mothers, and sleep still didn’t make it any better. I was actually crying again this morning. I don’t even recall how I got through the first Mother’s Day without her last year. However, I found solace in (silently) honoring my other mothers – honestly, I would not survive this world without my Mama Jill – who have practically raised me like their own. I also found solace in people who have weird, awkward, and mixed feelings about Mother’s Day – a demographic that I now belong to.

A 3-minute eulogy, a blog entry, a day in a year would never suffice for all the ways I am grateful for her. Maybe I just miss my (unconventional) mom a little more during this time of the year. She lives forever in me, though, just like that line in a song.

By now, I would have been trying to figure out my next career move. After that quick career-related errand with Gabby in Baguio, I got an e-mail that I wasn’t sure I would even receive and yet there it was. I can’t say that I was aptly prepared to take the next step but I knew that soon enough I would have to be. I trusted my pace because taking my time has never failed me, and I trusted the delays just the same. I still have a looong way to go – I am probably not even half-way through the process(es), I know – but I was a bit emotional knowing that half-heartedly quitting my job, my friends’ encouragement, Jet’s overwhelming support, and days and nights of pushing myself to go beyond my hesitations and fears have finally started paying off. I was proud of myself but it mostly gave me a profound sense of control over my life.

Instead, these days, it’s hard to feel in control… much less feel accomplished. When, suddenly, everybody seems to be utilizing their free time to be better home cooks and baristas, be artists and performers, read countless of books and write riveting commentaries… my accomplishments have been reduced to resetting my bio-clock, being cured of my eyelid irritation, staying hydrated, improving my penmanship, and this blog post. Nothing really as groundbreaking compared to what more I could do if I was not so energy-depleted and anxiety-ridden. I find temporary relief in knowing that my response, or lack thereof, is justifiably appropriate when dealing with a traumatic experience such as this pandemic. However, I think my moral dilemma is a bigger issue than my insufficient productivity.

With the imminent end of the Enhanced Community Quarantine without reassuring stringent plans we could depend on, I am scared to even imagine what comes right after. Locally, there are only 5 active cases in La Union, and I don’t suppose there’s a shortage of health care workers yet but in some days when I imagine the worst – God forbid! – volunteering crosses my mind. I know, without a doubt, it’s what my mum would have considered doing. Yet, when you’re in between jobs while, elsewhere, there is an evident shortage of registered nurses but your government has paid / pays no heed to strategically foster local employment and security, especially amid this ongoing crisis… you’d feel disheartened, too.

I’d like to believe that what mostly constitutes health care workers – more than their degrees and diplomas – is the large amount of compassion, patience, and care they have for their patients which can’t be learned from textbooks and lectures. To be fair, when DOH called for volunteers, I’m sure there were a lot who had it in their hearts to sign up. On the other hand, there was an outcry of frustration stemming from the long history of low morale in the health care sector, hefty budget cuts, corruption, and the sad trivialization of the work that health care workers do. Risking their lives without proper PPE for a 500 Php / day sorry consolation is just that… a sorry consolation.

Pero may nagagawa ang ~*pagrereklamo*~ and DOH had since apologized and vowed to address other issues particularly prioritizing the allocation of additional funds. As of late, DOH has announced an emergency hiring of personnel, and jacked up the compensation and benefits. About time! I do hope they would reconsider long-term plans as well.

Relatively, POEA’s decision to ban international deployment reeked of forced servitude. Some health care OFWs were stuck in the Philippines until POEA had to respond to the outcry by reissuing a directive to allow those with existing contracts to return to the countries they are currently employed in. Unfortunately, the future is not so bright for those who are still in the middle of processing their applications, aspiring to work elsewhere. Again… what it all stems from is our poor health care system. Until this blows over, we can only wait.

By now, I would have been trying to figure out my next career move… but I am not. Instead, these days, what’s left of my drive is poured out into keeping my mind open to all other possibilities and figuring out in what ways I can help. When social media is overwhelming with fear-inducing information, toxic positivity, misused privilege, and tone-deaf sentiments – and when most days I want to quit for good, kaniguan na naman – I feel like I’ve become more deeply connected with my friends, even with batchmates whom I don’t even remember talking to in high school, and with some ~*favorite*~ family members. Lol. I guess there is something about this pandemic being a collective experience for everyone that makes it somewhat easier to reach out and ask how they’re doing, how they’re coping, what sets their dalgona coffee apart from the thousands of others, what their skin care routine is… and whatnot. What’s left of my drive is poured out into getting myself informed and being aware of class and social struggles so that I can demand from (or support) my government appropriately. While it’s tempting to unfriend and block those whose views oppose mine, I try to figure out where they’re coming from even though, most of the time, it’s a struggle to compartmentalize their entirety into their moral values and political views. *sigh*

When I was young, my mum kept a framed phrase on her table that says “this, too, shall pass”. I didn’t understand what it meant then… but it’s all I am hoping for now even though it’s hard to imagine when and how this ends. I am constantly worried and scared for the future which seems to be a blur for now. It’s reminiscent of a time when I was not in control of my life so I have to remind myself, yet again, to trust. It’s humbling. Suddenly, we are reminded of the kind of normal that’s worth rushing back to, or the kind of normal that’s worth cultivating. And, we are reminded of those that truly matter in this life: our health, our values, and our faith. When I feel limited but I get to pray for those I care for, for those who need it, and for those who can’t… I know I am doing enough. Those are my good days.

Ours is a story of planes and bus rides, of a 4-hour time difference and grainy video calls, of journals and of letters I have yet to write to you, of pink sunsets and clinking bottles of beer by the beach, of camera tutorials and awkwardly timed photos, and of 3 am conversations about nothing and everything. It’s probably not much, really… but ours is also a story of prayers getting answered as soon as I have said them, of right timing and near-misses and “What were the chances?”, of conquering adulthood and ticking shared dreams one daunting task at a time, of weathering the worst of our storms, and of being in the best team with my bestest friend through it all.

You’re a perfect mix of everything I ever wanted and needed… all of which, at first, I didn’t think I deserved but the Universe has immensely blessed me with you and every day I am grateful for that.

Happy anniversary! ❤

Sunday Currently • 01

Reading

Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ Love In The Time Of Cholera. I honestly don’t remember when and where I bought this book but I’m sure I’ve had it for quite a while now. After I’ve finished reading Haruki Murakami’s Sputnik Sweetheart, I randomly picked it out from my To-Be-Read pile. I’m currently just 1/5 into the book because I haven’t been reading these past few days but I intend to finish it this week.

Writing

my first Sunday Currently entry. And (later on) probably a more detailed account of my “Blog Beginnings” as inspired by one of my favorite bloggers who’s making a comeback. More on that later!

Listening

to some birds chirping, my heart thumping because I have so much caffeine in my system, and Baliw by SUD playing in my head.

Thinking

of selling my Sony mirrorless camera because I haven’t been using it since I got my Fujifilm. But at the same time I also want to keep it for sentimental reasons (and it’s more lightweight and compact).

Smelling

tinola for lunch.

Wishing

for… well, I can’t talk about it yet.

Hoping

for positive outcome re: those things I can’t talk about yet. Bear with me.

Wearing

my mom’s duster. Hehe.

Loving

the meaningful conversation I had with Jet last night even if it’s about the most random of things. I told him about the movie The Holiday. He told me about the picnic he went to with his flatmates. I cried when I talked about how I’m deeply touched by how much my mom’s side of the family sincerely care for me. He told me he wants to go to Legazpi the next time he comes home. He reminded me about trusting the pace of our progress and in believing we’re on the right track.

Wanting

to “get back on track” in all ways that phrase is applicable to: my sleeping pattern, my eating habits, my career…?

Needing

some sleep!!!

Feeling

fulfilled that I have gone to church today, excited about one of my favorite blogger’s comeback, sleepyyy~ Zzz~

 

Of Journal Finds, The New Decade, and Entering My 30s

Here’s an obligatory “take me back / where I’d rather be” photo which pretty much sums up how I (kinda) feel about leaving a decade that broke me, revived me, and shaped me.

Before 2019 ended, there had been a Twitter trend in which people asked to recap your favorite movies / songs / milestones (and whatnot) of the decade. One person asked about the year you personally hated the most, and given the choice, could have lived without if it were possible. With no doubt, I retweeted it and commented “2019 f*cked me up in different ways but at least I’m ending it with a stronger sense of purpose. A good portion of 2016 and 2017 left me (figuratively) dead or almost dying and I haven’t fully recovered yet… I think.” Yikes, pretty pessimistic, huh? I didn’t even mention that it’s still vivid how emotionally-tormenting the last years of uni were, how torn I was when we had to move to La Union in 2011, how I struggled with government work since 2012, how confused and lost I was for several years… somehow I feel like I still am. And how I’m still recovering from bad decisions I had made in 2014. Lol.

KUJICAM_2020-01-03-18-43-41_developed

Last night, out of sheer boredom, I unearthed my old journals and leafed through my 2016, 2017 and 2018 entries. Maybe it was also a way to validate why I even posted that tweet and felt so strongly convinced that 2016 and 2017 were harrowing years. Most of my journal entries are detailed accounts of my frustrations, heartbreaks and shelved dreams, or really just entries that make me cringe but I sucked it up and kept reading until I was reminded of that day in November when I agreed to go out on a w(h)ine and dine date with Gabby and we’ve been friends since; of the only time I didn’t loathe ~*small worlds*~ because I became beer-buddies with DJ; of that week in October I spent with Iris in Hong Kong and was moved by the thought that we’ve been best friends since we were 12; of the godsent therapeutic conversations (sometimes over coffee or wine) I had with my cousins; of when I had a more cemented perspective about families and internalized the values I’ve inherited from my mom; of that extensive phase when I didn’t think I was capable of ever moving on and healing from a 5-year relationship that I chose to walk away from but I eventually, and thankfully, did. I was reminded of how positive I felt for 2018 and it turned out to be the best year of my life, so far. I met Jet on a random summer’s day and, for once, I became so sure and secure about one thing in my life. So, I guess it really wasn’t bad after all.

I have made it a habit to write on my journal daily, and to blog when I can, to chronicle my highs and my lows so I won’t ever forget how much I wrote, cried, emptied, prayed, dreamt, healed, and hoped myself into the person I am today. The past decade taught me that there will still be delays, denials, and heartbreaks – but they’ve worked well for me, I just didn’t know any better – and not to resent them when they come because they will eventually pass.

This year, as we enter a new decade, I’m also entering my *gasps* 30s. I’m scared but maybe I’m being unnecessarily overdramatic… when, really, ain’t that a bit poetic? Because even though I know I would still make cringe-worthy decisions, lose friends, be conflicted about my career, doubt myself, say things I don’t really mean, dwell on my insecurities, fight my demons… for sure, there’s still so much learning and room for growth. And so, I also know I would still take better pictures, make deeper connections, travel far, touch lives, accept and listen to opinions and convictions that are different from my own, learn from my mistakes, and be more comfortable in my own skin.

So scratch that and take me there instead. ;)

Palawan 2019

When Jet left for the Emirates, I was so sure he had a clear vision of how he would establish his career. Even the option of coming home, after a year from landing his current job, didn’t quite seem to be a part of that plan yet. For months, with much serious thought about staying or leaving, and mentally listing down the pros and cons of the alternative to build a more sterling international travel history… the yearning to come home eventually came naturally to him. But because he decided too late to plot his leave dates, he could only be accommodated with two weeks. Fortunately, he was able to ask for a week extension which we thought was good enough.

And so, for months, we made loose plans to go on at least one out-of-town trip during his limited stay. I have always wanted to take him home to Legazpi and he wanted me to explore Sagada, but as first-time travelers together, we agreed to go somewhere we’ve both never been to. On top of our heads, El Nido was a mutual decision. And because Puerto Princesa is still one of my favorites, I added that to our itinerary. I wanted Jet to be enthralled by its marvels just as I have been 5 years ago.

I pride myself as a very organized travel planner. In fact, I have a separate notebook just to keep notes of flight details, travel essentials checklists, breakdown of expenses, activities and delicacies to try, and even my outfit are planned out per day. Heh~ Jet entrusted me with almost EVERYTHING for this trip and I was happy to oblige. Save for the airline bookings, which I did myself, I also would have DIY-ed the rest of it, but for a trip that involved 2 bustling cities and an island town, van transfers and numerous boat rides, budget hotels and inns… it would’ve been crazy not to sign up for a tour package. I scoured the internet and found a travel agency that would consider my customized itinerary and other specific requests. Travel Goals Pal was the most accommodating and their travel package inclusions were the most sulit. The other selling point was the very cheap 500 Php deposit. I didn’t have to worry about anything anymore… and finally, all was set.

26 Oct 2019 – Sunday

We left NAIA at 10:05 AM and arrived at Puerto Princesa International Airport at 11:35 AM. Ma’am Nap, the travel agent I had been corresponding with, was already waiting for us at the Arrivals Area. They led us to Robinson’s so that we could still eat before we left for El Nido that afternoon. At the mall, she went over to discuss the details of the specific itinerary I had requested and how we’d be getting around El Nido and/to Puerto Princesa. It was only then that we paid the balance for the tour package we have availed. Soon after, the van bound for El Nido came to pick us up at the mall. While the van was CRAZY fast, it still took almost 7 hours to get to El Nido. We had 3 stops along the way for late lunch and restroom breaks. We would’ve wanted to catch the sunset but we got to El Nido at around 7. The van stopped at the terminal as they aren’t allowed into the town proper. We rode their distinctly designed tricycle to the travel agency’s pre-booked accommodation for us which was just 2 mins away from the van terminal. Although lacking with an inviting lobby, El Grande Tourist Inn’s standard room felt and looked like a hotel room. We had our own balcony, cable TV, temperature-regulated shower, towels, AC and ceiling fan. We freshened up a bit, and when we were done settling down, and since we were in no hurry, we decided to walk to the town proper to get dinner. Dinners were not included in the tour package, so the choice to go all-out or scrimp on our budget was up to us really.

The town proper’s streets are lined with various restaurants and bars. From Filipino, Korean, German, and Italian, the variety of cuisines is a gastronomic treat for tourists hailing from different parts of the world. We went Italian on our first night. At Trattoria Altrové, we ordered authentic hand-tossed brick oven pizza. The place has a very cozy vibe. You enter barefoot and eat dinner in dim light. For dessert, we treated ourselves to cones of heaping Gusto Gelato. I got the Sneakers which tasted a lot like peanut butter. Jet, who’s a fan of everything spicy and could probably pass as Bicolano, got the Gusto Express. It reminded me of how sili ice cream from Colonial Grill in Albay tastes like.

We walked along the shore imagining what sort of adventure lies ahead of us for the next two days. To cap the night off, we ordered amaretto sour and beer (because what is Jet without beer?!) at Sava Bar before heading back to our accommodation.

27 October 2019 – Monday

We got up early to eat breakfast at the topmost hall of our accommodation. It was on the 5th floor so we had a good view of one of the limestone rock formations, which Palawan is known for, in the middle of the town and the town proper itself. The free breakfast was… okay, nothing really exceptional. We were just grateful we had enough to fill our tummies before our first island tour.

By 8:30 AM, our tricycle service came to pick us up from our accommodation to the jump off point for our island tour. At the jump off point, you can buy dry bags (a must-have!) with prices depending on the size, and rent reef shoes for 150 per pair. The tour guide did a roll-call of all the tourists who were assigned to their boat. We were also asked to pay for the Eco-Tourism Development Fee amounting to 200 Php8 per person. The ETDF is good for the duration of your stay so you won’t need to pay for it again on your next island tour. However, you need to keep the receipt as proof that you’ve already paid, or else you would have to pay again.

Because it was our first time in El Nido, friends who have been there, and vlogs and blogs, suggested that we do Tour A and Tour C. We chose to do Tour A first. When everything was set, we waded through thigh-deep sea water to where our boat was. When we were all seated and had donned on our life vests, the tour guide introduced himself and went over some guidelines such us not stepping on the corals, and not leaving trash behind, plastic bottles and plastic bags are not allowed, and no smoking on the islands (there’s a designated area on the boat). Tourists should really keep it in mind. It shouldn’t be so hard. *sigh*

It was a sunny day and the boat ride was pleasantly steady. On the way, you would already get to see the numerous limestone islands of El Nido. After 5-10 minutes, the boatmen brought us to our first stop: 7 Commandos Beach. For each stop, they gave us 45-60 minutes to take photos, swim and snorkel (if there were corals), or just stroll or frolic on the beach. The island has a long stretch of powdery white sand that’s nothing like Boracay’s but it’s just as beautiful. There was nothing much to do there but it was a sort of a warm up to test out the snorkeling gear (which I almost lost!) and Jet’s GoPro and my camera. Continue reading Palawan 2019

Of Bittersweet Novembers, 2019 in Summary, and That Over-used Mitch Albom Quote

November 2019 ends tonight. It has been bittersweet. I wasn’t at all feeling sentimental until I had to type those words down on Instagram. Then, I remembered that it was my first birthday without my mom. So much has happened in my life this year that I wish she got to see and hear about. Now that I think about it, I’m a bit convinced that 2019 may have been generally unkind to me.

Last year, while the fireworks lit up the night sky to usher in the new year, I remember praying for whatever God has planned for me in 2019, but I also remember praying that I would submit to it wholeheartedly. I hope He’s pleased that I did but it hasn’t been easy, though. I can’t count the number of times I had to ask Him, “How much do I need to bend before I break?” and the many many times I broke down and succumbed to my meltdowns, tonight’s included.

2019 asked for far too much.

Most of its days I had to deal with alone. I’d be lucky if Jet, Iris, or Gabby (virtually) held my hand through some of the difficult nights. For that, I am grateful. On my own, I had to relearn that the person you least expect to let you down can, and will, let you down. That the people who you thought would not hurt you, will hurt you for their personal interests, selfishness, and biases. I’ve learned not to mince my words, and to stand up for how I feel, and to only accept changed behavior as an apology.

Most of its days were painful. I watched my mom lose her battle against her disease. The strongest person I know slowly lost the strength and impeccable memory that pretty much defined her. It’s a different kind of pain to need a hug she couldn’t give anymore, and to be unrecognizable in her eyes. Until the very end, until I saw her draw her last breath, until I felt her last heartbeat… I never saw and heard her complain and be resentful of her situation. I know for a fact that it even made her faith stronger… and so should mine too.

Most of its days were confounding. There’s so much that they don’t tell you about grief. They never tell you that there’s no formula, no guideline, and no timeframe for it. For a time, I even questioned myself if I was grieving “properly” because people commented on how I looked “masaya”. I remember going back to work as soon as I was able to, attended ISO workshops and submitted neuron-depleting outputs, reorganized how the clinic’s system works, and worked my way up to permanent status. I was practically winging the whole thing, and then 4 months later, I decided to quit. Guilt came after because there may be a thin line between needing and deserving, and having the lifestyle that can support that so-called mental health break but I knew I had to have one.

What they also never tell you about grief is that most of the time it comes out of nowhere. I could be reading a fiction novel and the thought of never hearing my mom’s voice ever again pops up. There are days when I’m scared that I’d forget how she sounded like, or that I’d forget the things she has taught me, and the stories she used to tell me. I could be happily talking to Jet and the thought of her never getting to see me marry him, and that she won’t get to teach our kids how to pray (just like how she taught me) breaks my heart all over again. Death and grief leaves a void that nothing and nobody can ever fill.

Most of its days were spent feeling lost (and guilty). So how do I start over again? It’s a dreadful question that I ask myself every single day. I spent 10 years of my life juggling school, and then work, and taking care of her while I tried to maintain a healthy and decent young adulthood. I’ve been at it for far too long that it’s become my identity. The one with the sick mom so she had to do well in school; so she had to settle in La Union; so she had to shelve her other dreams. And yet it humbles me because my mom never asked for any of it. In fact, she didn’t deserve to be made as an excuse because she accepted her fate wholeheartedly; I have to believe that I should, too. I have to believe that everything she ever endured in her life was to prepare me for what’s yet to come in mine.

2019 is about to end in a month and saying I’m glad is an understatement. Mitch Albom wrote, “All endings are also beginnings. We just don’t know it at the time.”

I know now, and I can’t wait to begin again.

Of Unpleasant Confessions and Learning Curves

I used to be such a past-dweller. I used to think that things and circumstances were better in the past that I’d make a trip going there almost on a nightly basis. And why not… when ex-friends, ex-somethings, the could-have-beens and would-have-beens, and lost opportunities were there? I also used to think that a fictitious “better version” of me got left out there, masked as one who actually spoke unthinking, who was overconfident and egoistic, and who was feistier… a version who slowly got weathered by time and everything she ever dealt with, that the (past) present version of me just couldn’t come into terms with… I guess?

Things changed drastically when I met Jet though. Ironically, our start began at the end but being with him felt thematic to all things I’m looking forward to. Suddenly, there’s a clean slate, a fresh start… yadi yada~ There’s a chance to work on being a real better version of myself; one who’s not so averse to being softened, which is what it really was.

Now, I aspire for all my jagged edges to be practically non-existent. I constantly remind myself that everything I do now will have manifestations in the future, so I’m careful with where I channel my energies to.

I’m careful with the friends and relationships I choose and keep. I only have ones who are good for my mind and soul; ones whom I could certainly learn from; ones who encourage me to reach above and beyond my limitations; ones I would love and commit to for non-self-serving reasons.

I’m careful with the choices – often sacrifices – that I choose to make. It came from recognizing what I deserve… and I deserve kindness and peace even if it meant letting some things and some people go, and breaking free from comfort. I would rather stay silent than waste my time explaining my choices to people who expect me to fail, and who are set to misunderstand me, my reasons, and my motivations (or lack thereof).

I SHOULD be careful with my thoughts, the words I speak out, and the emotions I let consume me. Although I notice that fewer things and circumstances make me mad, angry, and upset… I’m still a work in progress and, sometimes, I still fall off the wagon. Here’s an unpleasant confession: A few nights ago, with an unclear headspace, I strayed to a dark and hellish place called the Facebook Newsfeed and I stumbled upon a friend’s post. It reeked of hypocrisy because I knew that person to be the complete and total opposite of who s/he is claiming to be. Unthinking, I even Tweeted about it, which I deleted immediately after feeling so disgusted with myself and the judgement I have made. For all I know, s/he must be a changed person… just as I am. For all I know, s/he must’ve believed s/he could have a clean slate; a fresh start… just as I did. For all I know, this IS the better version s/he worked so hard to achieve… just as what I did with mine.

With an ounce of shame, I try to remember all the conversations Jet and I had about the times we were the shitty boyfriend / girlfriend to our exes, and made irrational and immature life choices, and weren’t the best child/ren, and lost patience over the smallest things, and did unforgivable things, and said things we won’t ever be able to take back… and yet we, thankfully, outgrew those unimaginable versions of ourselves. I try to remember the insufferable exes who are now in meaningful and long-term relationships, the lost friends who found their way back and re-established the floor (John Green reference, look it up!) and so many others who can and should not be defined by the past. There is still hope. It is never too late to strive to become the better (or best) version of ourselves. And ultimately, you do you.

It is indeed a steep learning curve that I should just leave the past to where it belongs… and that I should be on Social Media less. Meh~

Of Countdowns, Home-Kim-ings, and Goings

Among the list of flights that have arrived and were arriving, Etihad Airways EY 0428 (Abu Dhabi) flashed on the flight information display screen with the word DEFINITE next to it. I tried to compose myself as I was starting to get emotional just recalling how I started counting down from 121 days to just 30 mins to your home-Kim-ing – a term you coined while we were just setting up our countdowns.

I barely got any sleep the night before, and much as I tried, I also couldn’t get a wink of sleep on the bus bound for Manila as I was making sure you’ve brought everything on your checklist, hoping the immigration would give you no sweat, and praying you won’t be late for your flight. I opted to alight in Cubao instead of Pasay, which would’ve been more convenient, but I wanted to get there on time. I rode the MRT, a bit shocked by how aggressive people can get, and a bit scared of the airborne virus the lady in front of me was coughing out. I miscalculated the distance from Taft Station to the hotel thinking it’d be a 3-minute walk only realizing my mistake while I was already half-way through walking in the sweltering heat. My only chance for a pitiful recharge was a nap at the hotel. A few hours later, as the Grab driver navigated our way to the airport, I nervously imagined all sorts of horrifying stories and mishaps that could happen to a first-time rider like myself. I was relieved to arrive in one piece. I settled at the greeters’ area and munched on my first real meal of the day as I watched other greeters who were waiting for their friends, sisters, dads, or probably their boyfriends, too. I felt a different sort of calmness just knowing that I was in the right place, literally… and just mostly figuratively.

And then on the same flight information display screen, the word DEFINITE switched to ARRIVED. My heart did the cartwheels because I can’t. Then your mobile number with that familiar pink heart heart emoji, which hadn’t flashed on my phone screen for over a year, suddenly did. You called to say you have deplaned and that you were still waiting for clearance and luggage claim, and that you might be done sooner than you thought. And so I went to figure out where to meet you and where the Grab pick-up point was (like a pro now). When I asked an airport personnel to assist me, surprisingly, he offered to take me within the gated arrivals area (where not everyone can enter) to wait for you. A bit puzzled if it was some sort of a scam or an undeserved perk, and fearful that a security officer would drag me out, I still went along with him. Heh~

It was nothing like the Wicker Park ending. There were no tears, no drama, no The Scientist by Coldplay playing on the background, no cheesy slow-mo. It was nothing like the movies play it out. In a sea of strangers, there was just a nanosecond kiss and a long comforting hug… and thinking, “I am home”, just as you were.

In between that moment and yesterday were 3 weeks worthy of a different blog post, maybe. 3 weeks that went by with such haste. We’ve squeezed in just enough number of 7-hour bus rides, plane take-offs and touch-downs, sunny and rain-drenched boat rides, and 8-hour van rides that we’ve vowed never to do again if we have any choice. Just enough number of lush islands hopped, ancient caves explored, deep and towering mangrove forests paddled through, coral reefs snorkeled over, surf waves ridden, and breathtaking sunsets to end our days. Just enough number of swallows, bats, Komodo dragons, snakes, and monkeys met, fish swam with, fireflies watched, and bioluminescent planktons that caught our breaths. Just enough number of dates over Ilocos empanadas, one-day-old chicks, kwek-kwek, balut, taho, manggang hilaw slathered with alamang, guapple, pomelo, lemonade varieties, cups of brewed coffee and hot chocolate, and glasses of cocktail and bottles of beer; to as fancy as frozen yoghurt, buttered shrimp, strawberry vinaigrette, Volante’s waffles and bacon, Canto’s rib slabs and chicken pastel topped with mashed potatoes, slices of Altrové pizza, and Frankie’s buffalo wings; to as weird as Korean street food and tamilok (wood worm). Heck, we’ve even squeezed in just enough number of times we got allergies, untimely zits, flu, and some ~*family drama*~. In 3 weeks, we’ve tried to make up for all the months we’ve been apart.

Armed with 3 mirrorless cameras, 2 smartphones, and 1 action camera, we’ve tried capturing thousands of photos and recording hundreds of videos hoping not to miss the highlights. But truthfully, the real highlights for me are the ones we don’t get to post on Social Media where we’re all smiles, and everything seems perfect – we’re far from it. Those were (and are) our quiet, intimate, and unguarded moments. It’s when we talk about the past year and how we’ve broken free from all that we’ve struggled with. I didn’t need to tell you that it was the most difficult year I ever had to deal with and yet you’ve helped me survive it. By simply being there for me when I lost my mom and when my relationship with my dad almost reached its breaking point, you took the blow with me… and for me when I couldn’t take them anymore. THANK YOU. It’s when I am quietly in awe of the admirable man that you choose to be, and the circumstances that you allow to sharpen him. It’s when you lay out your plans for our future with a huge amount of consideration. I always say this to you, hoping you won’t forget: you have a big heart. I got to see for myself your zest for life, immense thirst for adventure, and how you light up when something interests you. How else would I know about the things I can’t get myself to Google? You can be hard-headed (I know, because of the number of times I furrowed my eyebrows and rolled my eyes at you: still not counted as fighting) but you’re NEVER difficult. You can be indecisive but you’re thoroughly organized, determined, and confident. You’re rarely dissatisfied, mad, and impatient; moods I have yet to see with my own eyes. It’s when I realize that I still have a big fat crush on you. I remember how you used to say that having good looks is just a bonus, but I guess I got one hell of a bonus to end up with someone who looks equally cute covered up in a hoodie as hot as he is in board shorts. It’s all the seemingly little things that I don’t think you ever really notice about yourself that I did.

So when it’s almost time for me to send you off to another year of desert heat, karak and paratha, gym time, and *sigh* adulting… I knew I couldn’t miss the day before it for anything else. It was a no pressure kind of day as we had a lengthy meaningful conversation over brunch, walked around a park while eating street food, took a restful nap, and did a last-minute stroll at the night market.

Before you hugged me to sleep that night, I laid still pretending I was asleep when I heard you whisper “mahal ko”. I felt my heart break while I tried holding back my tears knowing I would fail to anyway. I hugged you back and started silently praying just as I always do when you’re about to leave. I prayed that God keeps you safe and healthy, and that He’d grant you the blessings you deserve so that you can be a blessing to others as well. I’m thankful for the 3 weeks that made up of a really difficult year. I have a long list of things I am grateful for but ultimately, I’m most grateful that you and I exist in this same lifetime. I cried soft tears as I tried to memorize your freckles, and while I retraced your battle scars (as I’d like to think of them that way). Some of them are physical, one of which makes me thankful kept you alive. And I know that the most meaningful of scars are the scars that run deep within you, ones I can never retrace, but they make you beautiful, mahal.

After a slightly awkward goodbye at the bus station, my massive melt-down at the hotel room, another 6-hour bus ride, and a flight back to the Emirates… we’re now back to our daily grainy video calls, choppy voice calls, limitedly short voice notes, selfie updates, and conversations on Messenger. Heartbreaking as it is, I keep reminding myself that I knew what I signed up for when I decided to be with you. I remind myself of the promises I’ve made under the stars that night. But I’m full of hope, and I look forward to when I’ll sleep and wake up beside you daily… and there’ll be no more need for countdowns, home-Kim-ings and goings.

i. I was born in Baguio, and when I was younger I’ve always felt that this fact made me pretty interesting because I’m slightly different from my classmates who were all Uragons. Childhood summers spent in La Union were never complete without a stop in Baguio. My parents would tell me stories about where and how they met, the places they’ve considered their second home, and the schools that made them who they are… especially my mom, whose name is still posted up in SLU, I suppose? I’ve dreamt of going to school there not to follow her footsteps but for the shallow reason that they use pink Nursing uniforms, I know~ When I badly need a break from work, I know I could just hop on a bus and go to the place where deadlines and toxic bosses couldn’t follow me, or at least my headspace. I’ve taken so many friends there, some came back twice, some I had to bid goodbye to forever. So, I could say I’ve broken my heart there, too. I could also say that it’s where I’ve sewn it back together.

ii. Anywayyy~ One of the best things about being an introvert is that I’ve learned how to treat my senses with interesting dates. I love how one of my most favorite cities never runs out of places to visit, and food to try, and culture I could immerse myself into. All within walking distance! And you know what walking distance in Baguio means. ;)

I remember going on this particular solo date, I spent a good few minutes just staring at the vast expanse of the mountains while a cold whiff of pine tree-smelling air blew. I sat there just unthinking. For someone who’s always anxiety-ridden, I felt so at peace.

It was one of those long grueling sleepless nights. I thought, not again… as I strayed to where the past is not a concept of time but a dark place I wasn’t supposed to visit. I fought through yet another night of beating myself up for countless of things I have lost absolute control over. I cried myself dry for people who drained every ounce of love left in me. I nursed my crushed spirit and my deflating ego – one bruise at a time – with such disdain. I have not smiled heartily in over a year that I was thoroughly convinced that I was depressed. It, heartbreakingly, didn’t make any sense as I know I may generally not be a sunshine-and-rainbows kind of person but, during that time, I’ve hit an excruciatingly extensive all-time low.

And in that one long grueling sleepless night, I wrote you a letter. It was a letter I thoughtlessly wrote on my journal where I was hard-wired to write about my heartbreaks as a habit to keep myself sane. The letter I wrote you took on a different tone, a different stroke. I believe the Portuguese call it saudade – a deep emotional state of nostalgia or profound longing felt towards people and things whose whereabouts are unknown. It was a letter I have brewed out of my longing – with severity unknown even to me – for a person who I knew was just out there, still intangible, still a figment of my imaginings.

I wrote:

I can’t wait for you to finally be here. I can’t wait for you to show up while I’m just about to leave the movie theaters, or while I get my first (or third) caffeine fix for the day, or while I’m sniffing through fragrant yellowing pages of cheap secondhand books.

It’s been almost a year later, with my letter gathering up dust in a corner of my brain that stores all the things that I’ve forgotten about. I remember praying for (the figment) you before meeting (the tangible) you that day, even though I was convinced it was just going to be another one of those ordinary grey days. And then, there you were on a seemingly uneventful random summer’s Sunday. Truth is, how we’ve met wasn’t as pretentious – with a movie-like semblance – as I used to imagine. Of all places, you conveniently showed up where I least expected you and I would be. I was just holding off to leave the place which reminded me so much of cheap praise and where sincerity seemed so far-fetched. I lost my concept of time and it was already way past midnight – with just a few hours until the first rays of the Monday sun started gleaming in – and I knew that I have never had a conversation that felt more genuine. I felt so enlivened hearing about how you broke free from all that you’ve allowed to hold you back; felt so enlivened telling you about how I’ve made peace with all that has weathered me. You showed up at a strange time in my life when I thought I had met everyone important there was to meet, and yet – in all ways I’ve felt unattractive: with me sporting my 4 AM eyebags, cheap cologne, and loose floral shirt – you’ve rhetorically asked me “What if you’re the one? Would I pass that up?”

I can’t wait until my prayers are of thanking the Universe you’re finally here instead of still wishing you’re on your way.

And thank the Universe was all I could think about that night we lay down on the sandy beach to gaze at the stars. I tried to look placid when, in truth, my head was spinning and my insides were turning into mush when you held my hand and said you were falling in love with me. You felt unreal and yet I knew, in my heart, that the Universe that’s granting me you is the same Universe that has created those stars. What was there left to doubt?

Because as much as I want to sit patiently waiting, I’m starting to be weary. I can’t wait to share my hopes and dreams, (even my trivial day-to-day rants).

I’m having sleepless nights of a different sort now, ones that entail recollections of who I was, coming into terms with who I am now, and aspiring to become who I want to be. Being with you makes me unapologetic for all three. I feel like, all along, this is the kind of authenticity I have always hoped to exude from within. You’re doing more than just letting me become the person I am meant to be while understanding my limitations and celebrating my capabilities. But while I’ve lived almost all my life independently, you’ve turned my apprehensive MEs into assuring WEs: WE will pray for it. WE will go through it. WE will figure it out together.

I can’t wait to breathe normally again because God knows how it feels like I’m always breathing on thin air nowadays.

I’ve probably uttered it more times than I could count but you sure make breathing easy. In fact, that’s just the bare minimum because you make EVERYTHING feel easy. You’re a perfect match for someone who’s perpetually anxiety-ridden and who’s always on the lookout for things to fail miserably. It bewilders me how you forbearingly deal with my irrational tampo, my erratic mood swings, my deafening silence, my random energy spikes, and my uncontrollable tears. Because you’re always so patient about absolutely everything, I feel like my patience has increased ten-fold, too. And in times that I do get breathless, it’s always because I am caught off guard by how innately wonderful you are. On one of our Baguio trips, I remember stupidly asking the Universe for a sign which, later on, didn’t come close to coming true. Instead, you offered to go to church so we could light up candles while praying in silence together. I remember thinking how shallow I must have been to pin my hopes on a meaningless sign when your unwavering faith is undeniably one of the best reasons why I’m certain you are meant for me. I dared not to ask for signs ever again.

I can’t wait to genuinely care for you. Tell me all your stories. Let me learn the nooks and crannies of your being.

I am, and I will always be, your best friend. It’s a promise I intended to keep as you make me aware of all the multitude of things that make up you who you are – in snippets, in stories, and in scars. Your childhood mischiefs, your raging teenage angst, and your adulting struggles and frustrations are all safe with me. Keep marveling me with your light, your faith, and your impressive values. But also keep me aware of your vulnerabilities, your weaknesses, your fears, and your failings – help me make them better.

Hell, I can’t even wait for our fights and petty disagreements.

It’s not a surprising feat that we haven’t had a single fight in over a year given how perplexingly patient you are with me. We’ve done a real good job with this one! But I’m prepared that no matter how unshaken we think we are, one day, we would get to mark our untarnished score card. One day, our silly little tiffs over which movie to watch will progress into life-altering disputes. We will make each other cry and we might even break each other’s hearts – hopefully unintentionally – but if we must, let’s still be on each other’s side.

I can’t wait to make a home out of your arms, and be hugged and held when I can barely hold myself together. I can’t even wait to hear how the sound of your voice will get me through every day.

I was fixed with the idea that home will always be where Mayon stands majestically. That to be my most authentic self, I’d have to endure lengthy bus rides and turbulent flights. But somehow, home is redefined as anywhere you are within my reach. No matter how long it’s been, the miles that stretch between us will always feel bitter-sweet whenever I feel like nuzzling my face on your shoulder, or pinching your nose when you say something funny, or fake-punching you when you’re trying to annoy me. The miles that stretch between us now will always feel bitter-sweet whenever I’m missing you and I’m feeling homesick for you. But as we’ve learned to live with our daily grainy video calls, and choppy voice calls, and limitedly short voice notes to compensate for the distance, I have become certain that it will all be worth it one day.

If you’re out there, come find me.

When my stars aligned and you did find me, my love, my heart has only been beating for all the right reasons. Thank you for never failing to ask about how my day was, and for never letting it end without saying good night; for wiping my tears dry, and for hugging my sadness away, and for never causing any of them; for loving my sunshines and my storms from which I’ve gotten all my freckles and my scars. Thank you for gracing my life with so much healing, peace, and contentment. And thank you, for loving me in ways I only used to write and pray about.

I love you, Jet. Happy anniversary!