It’s a quarantine thing

What’s currently helping me get through my sick days under quarantine?

I drink a lot of warm Korean barley tea sweetened with coco sugar, almost drown on drinking water, order soups and meals for the family via Grab Food (feel slightly guilty not being able to cook for more than a week), listen to sentimental love songs* (Bread and James Taylor are both medicine for the weary soul), watch a lot of Crime Scene Kitchen (Joel McHale is a ham!), Hudson & Rex, ice skating tournaments** (2022 ISU European Figure Skating Championships at Tallinn, Estonia) and discovered I enjoy watching rhythmic ice dance skaters more than the soloists–there’s more fun choreographed dancing and more upbeat music (Who would’ve thought disco music and ice skating go well together. Apparently, they’re a perfect combination.). I watched Harry Potter: Return to Hogwarts (20th anniversary special) twice and cried over it. And now I want to re-read the series and relive the magic. Also, I read a lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfiction. Before we got sick, mom and I would religiously watch reruns of Buffy on Hits channel during weeknights. Sadly, they stopped at Season 2 finale when Buffy averted an apocalypse brought about by her vampire ex-boyfriend Angel/Angelus. I coped with the sudden loss by turning to fanfic and then I discovered I could binge-watch the series online for free…yes! (Let the binge-watching commence!) It’s my current guilty pleasure–re-watching Buffy and reading fanfic.

Admitting this led me back to a specific memory of reading Paulo Coelho’s By the River Piedra, I Sat Down and Wept in 4th year high school–when a classmate who was also reading the same book for her English book report asked me whether I already got to the good part.

Me: Huh? What good part?
Classmate: The sex, of course.

Ooooh…that “good part”. I must’ve blushed automatically, but she needn’t know that she was talking to a pro who’s really good at finding out where the “good parts” are in novels. It was a secret pastime. Now, at this point in time, I’ve already read so many “good parts” that I know which ones were written well. And as a reader with omnivorous tastes, my verdict is still this: Women writers write the most satisfying love scenes with emotional impact.

*P.S. They don’t make sappy-but-feel-good love songs like they used to in the ’70s-’90s.

**My current favorite pair skaters are Charlene Guignard + Marco Fabbri from Italy and Olivia Smart + Adrian Diaz from Spain. They’re a pleasure to watch. The Russians are kinda over-the-top in technique–their skating is flawless but lack the emotion and entertainment factor.

Charlene Guignard + Marco Fabbri at the Italian Nationals 2022
Olivia Smart + Adrian Diaz at the Spanish Nationals 2022

For soloists, Ekaterina Kurakova from Poland recently caught my eye. She shines in every performance, plus she’s got a natural charm and infectious joy that makes me smile when I watch her skate. I would love to see more of her. But for perfection + flawless technique + grace, Russia’s Kamila Valieva is currently the darling of the skating world.

Ekaterina Kurakova at the Polish Nationals 2022
World’s #1: Kamila Valieva at the 2022 ISU European Figure Skating Championships in Tallinn, Estonia

***P.P.S. If you don’t know it yet, I am a huge Spuffy (Spike + Buffy) shipper. As in “I will go down with this ship” level. But definitely not a huge fan of Angel. If anyone’s interested, I’m your go-to girl for Buffy talk.

20+ years after this aired and I watched this on TV, I am still in love with these two! 💕

Rise

You don’t just grieve loved ones you lost through death. You grieve broken connections, people you once loved that you let go of, traumatic situations, lost dreams, the old versions of you. You have the right to grieve each and every one of them, to feel the sadness and heartache, to cry. And you have the right to allow yourself the time you need to heal from them. 


A lesson the Universe teaches me constantly is that everything and everyone that happened in my life–even the most painful, difficult, and confusing ones–they were all for my growth. Whenever I choose to see it that way, I see the purpose and value the lessons I take away from every person and every experience. I honor the truth of love that I received and gave away. No matter how fleeting or how much it has moved me to tears, it is always freeing to love and have loved than not at all. Nothing and no one is a waste in the grander scheme of one’s life and journey. 


You have the power to heal from any grief in your own time, at your own pace. And like that Katy Perry song, you will realize after every healing that you will not just survive. You will thrive. 

Photo by: Lea Vergara Apilado (“Undas 2021”)

What healing looks like

Healing is so personal and different for everyone.

Healing for me is finally not being afraid to release situations and people that are toxic–even if they are family and friends. It’s not walking away from issues–it’s setting healthy boundaries. It’s respecting the need to remove myself from energies that chip away at my soul and trigger the hurt all over again.

Healing is still feeling the sadness and grief sometimes–that sharp pull at my heartstrings telling me to look back just one last time, to give it one more shot, to make up new imaginative excuses for myself yet again–but this time, finally planting my feet on the ground and saying enough is enough. It’s admitting that I have given off myself to people who didn’t see the value of what I was willing to give freely. It’s recognizing that I have burned myself out in situations that played out like a teledrama.

Healing is reclaiming my power and self-respect. It is sending out this message, “Yes, I will take the lessons and the love with me, but I also know when I am not being valued and respected, and what or who is not worth sharing my precious time and energy with.” It’s being discerning of the rare people who truly deserve my love and most authentic self-expression–the baring and sharing of my heart and soul at its purest form.

Healing is forgiving others who have hurt, judged, and misunderstood me, even when they have not taken accountability on their part. It’s recognizing that accountability isn’t something I can demand from someone who cannot even do it for themself.

Healing is forgiving myself too for any lingering guilt, blame, and sadness that latched on. If I can look at someone else with love and compassion, I deserve to look at myself the same way.

Healing is freeing myself from the prison of other people’s judgment and attempts to control my life and my choices. It’s saying, “F*** it. I am choosing me, this time. No more excuses. I am doing what I feel and know is the best for me despite what anyone else says and expects. I am following my own path that fills me up with joy and love.”

Healing is freedom and tastes like the salty sea air that wraps around me like a warm hug whenever I am at the beach.

Healing is knowing deep within my bones that whatever happens, whatever comes my way, whoever stays or doesn’t in my life, I can survive and I will thrive.

Pink is the Color of Hope

October 7th was a day when Destiny turned on its wheels.
Hope sprung anew for many hearts and souls.
For my friend and I, it was an extraordinary blessed day filled with signs and synchronicities.
We cried in joy and gratitude, mixed with a little fear.
For me it was the first time in a long while I was struck speechless by the guiding hand of the Divine.
I can feel the rumblings of deep change bursting to be set free.
It’s like a dragon kept in chains inside a cold crypt all these years, it might as well be blind.
It’s had enough of the darkness and yearns to feel the warmth of the light again,
to see colors exploding like fireworks before its very eyes.
One day it will claw its way into freedom.
Today is merely the start of an uphill battle.
We all have our parts to play, like queens and pawns in a war room.
We cannot shout victory yet until all the pieces are in play and every player has dealt their hand.
But for now, we claim the victory of a first step–a new cycle of casting fears and differences aside,
of finding our voices again and waking up our sleeping strength.
We accept the challenge to fight for a common cause–to fight for love and with love.
Because that’s the only war that matters–to fight for the ones we love.
We look forward to joining hands and claiming checkmate for a better Philippines.

P.S. Lalaban ako with Leni! 🌺🌺🌺

Petite Big Love

I didn’t take nap time seriously when I was a kid. I pretended to nap as I planned my escape with my eyes closed. When the coast was clear, I’d get up as quietly as a movie spy and make my way to my Legos or continue my adventures with the current book I was reading. When I was at Nanang’s, I’d check if any other cousin was awake who I could turn into my partner in crime. Since we knew Nanang was in nap mode and couldn’t hear well, and we had no one else at home to answer to, we’d sneak out the kitchen door (always careful to cushion it back into place to avoid alerting anyone of our escape) and into freedom, off exploring secret short cuts, picking siniguelas from the tree, knocking on Auntie Emmy’s door to buy ice candy or halo-halo and see if cousin Jam is up for playing taguan.

Photo credit: A.J.L. (2017)

I grew up hearing jokes about how I didn’t grow tall because “hindi matakaw sa tulog” or “kulang sa siesta”. But I never consciously thought of being limited by my size. If anything, it only fired me up to be larger than life, to go beyond people telling me that I’m too small–I couldn’t be this, I couldn’t do that–and just think of solutions to get what I wanted to reach both literally and figuratively. When I needed to get something from a shelf that was out of my reach, no biggie. I’d just pull out the humble wooden bangko dad made especially for me, or any chair I could stand on, and go for it. I wasn’t afraid to climb solid furniture and countertops either when no one else was around. When my mom caught me standing on my tiptoes on the kitchen counter one time, about to grab something from the cupboard even she couldn’t get to, she freaked out and shouted at me, “Ay, bumaba ka diyan!” Dangerous yes, but I was a stubbornly independent kid who insisted on doing things for herself. A tall friend needs a hug? Sure–I’d just get on my tippy-toes, hold it, and stretch my arms out to them. Height was never an issue when things seemingly out of my reach became challenges both tempting and fascinating for me.

When teachers would ask us to line up shortest to tallest, I automatically assumed the front of the line. In class and photos, I was always in the front row. There was a comfort in knowing I had a fixed spot like a star–something I could rely on that I was always sure of–and embracing it. From that constant spot, I reached for the stars in my own way.

Now, I’m what’s considered as petite. It’s a nicer way of saying tiny. And it’s just a label. It doesn’t define me nor diminish my worth. I’ve learned along the way the joys and surprises of being open to discovering a person’s infinite beauty–of going beyond the externals to see who they are inside once you get to know them, and the depths they can achieve. When overcoming doubts and perceived limitations, I summon the courage to go back to that fixed spot where I have always known and felt that I love with a huge heart and a larger than life spirit that continues to shine amongst the stars.