To The First Man That I Loved

Now, I completely understand and respect your decision to leave us.

Even after you left us, I found time to meet you just to make sense of everything- your line of thinking, your reasons, and why happily-ever-after can’t really exist. It was and is still hard until now, but I definitely accept why it happened. I accept that you already chose not to be with us but you left a lot of lessons that I can carry with me wherever I go.

Write Legibly

I can still remember how we spent almost the whole day just on teaching me how to write legibly. You showed me how talented you are because you can draw and do some lettering. I may still not have the best handwriting in the world but I really love arts until now.

yuehes1.jpgDream From the Rooftop

One lazy afternoon when we were just bored, we went to our rooftop and laughed a lot while my grandma and mom looked for us all over the house. There at the top, you would always tell me about your plans for our family.  I can clearly visualize your dream house, store, and car. This taught me to dream big, but this time I am determined to work really hard and make that into a reality.

Experiment when Cooking

I was always excited when I knew that you’d be cooking because you tried every way to make a simple dish different. Even if we have old bread that we can throw, you’d make a way to make it into something delicious. You were always the good cook in the family and I think that I carry this trait until know.

Travel As long As You Can

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I remember when I had my 9th birthday celebration, we surprisingly went on a boat trip. My first plane ride was also with you. You would bring us to long road trips or just a simple weekend city getaway. I know you were pissed at me for TAKING TOO MANY photos because even back then I wanted to have my fair share of photo shooting. I am still hard-headed until now because I love photos and traveling.

Save and Provide

Since I was 13 years old, you would always give me a huge amount of money for my allowance because you would never know when was the next time that you can give me money. That is why  I learn to budget because I know there will be days that I will have money and there are days that I need to spend my savings. I learned the hard way to look for ways to earn when I even didn’t have money at all. I tried to sell puto seko or homemade sandwiches to my classmates back in high school and college just to buy food transportation allowance, or (worst) tuition fee. Life was and is still hard, but I developed the resilience to find ways to survive.

Be my Own Hero

Since you left us, I tried to look for the strength, protection, and stability to all the guys that I have dated.  I was really afraid to live my life. However, I just realized that no matter how imperfect our relationship is, you have given me the necessary advice and lessons even if it is so painful.

I don’t need to look anymore because I found out that I kept on surviving no matter how difficult my life overseas is since these traits that I have been always looking for are just all within me. The fact that  I had the courage and the ability to pick up the pieces that you left, and strive to assume your role to support the family is indeed a blessing. It was and is still never an easy ride for all of us, but I am thankful for everything.

No money can ever buy the lessons that I have learned and I hope time can heal all our wounds.

Happy Father’s Day.

“Love does not have to be perfect for us to value it. The other person loves me as best as they can, with all their limits, but the fact that love is imperfect does not mean that it is untrue or unreal. It is real albeit limited (or) and earthly.”- Pope Francis

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Of Being a Filipino and Some Skills that Help me Enjoy FREEDOM

June 12 marks the Philippines’ 119 years of independence. Since this day is intended to celebrate Filipino’s hard-fought FREEDOM (whether it may be taken from a positive or negative perspective), here are some reasons why I am still thankful that I am a Filipino. Living for almost half a decade overseas makes me realize how hard it is to be a foreigner because I have too much freedom to do what I want

Living for almost half a decade overseas makes me realize how hard it is to be a foreigner because I have too much freedom to do what I want. Having too many options of which values to apply or cultural boundaries to set can be really confusing. My stay abroad allows me to deal with my innate Filipino culture and the integration of another foreign culture. So let me share some Filipino skills that help me enjoy the freedom that I have today.

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ENGLISH 101

We are NOT English native speakers but given the fact that all of us learn English since we were just babies, help us to communicate with all people around the world. This is a strong asset in traveling and landing a position in a multinational/ foreign company.

HOME COOKING

Wherever you are in the world, the best stories are shared over a sumptuous meal. Name a Filipino dish and we can make a way to make it happen regardless if there is a missing ingredient. Cooking does not only fill our stomach but it also connects us to home.

TOTAL PERFORMER

Events pave the way to every Filipino to shine by singing their hearts out or even dance like there is no tomorrow. It is more fun to party in the Philippines and Filipinos take that spirit as we put our 100% energy to sing videoke or dance to any beat.

LAUGHTER IS THE MEDICINE

When life happens, Filipinos have that super magical power to still smile or laugh amidst adversity. Many foreigners can’t even understand and they have an impression that we are not taking the situation seriously. But hey! We deal with problems head on but can we just smile for a while and tell ourselves that everything will be alright?

KEEP IN TOUCH

No matter how many cities you visited or how many dishes you have eaten, nothing beats a long conversation over Skype, Viber, Whatsapp or any other new technology with our friends or family. Filipinos are friendly and hospitable but what makes us different is we really mean it. It is easy to be friends with us and no matter where we are we will find ways to connect.

LOVE UNTIL IT HURTS

Filipinos love a lot. I am not just pertaining to romantic love but also if we open our house, we treat you as a part of our family. We give more than what we have. Same goes for a relationship, we always try to exhaust our freedom to give everything until we don’t have anything left for ourselves.

I think the freedom that we have right now is so enormous that we might be abusing the same freedom that our ancestors have fought for. Instead of uniting and enjoying what we have, there are some detrimental effects not only in the Philippines but how the world view us as well. It makes me think about what is our collective Filipino identity given the freedom that we have today?

“The identity of the Filipino today is of a person asking what is his identity.”
Nick Joaquín, Culture and History

What is your Option B?

Setbacks, problem, painful situation, and unexpected life’s twist may be considered as someone else’s “drama” but what if these are your reality?

It is always easy to judge other people and claim that life will get better but adversities really happen as much as we want to avoid them. Considering all various bombings, wars, and attacks that are currently happening right now all over the world, how can one really bounce back? Whether it may be a sudden regional incident or an excruciating personal dilemma, how can we all develop resilience and find happiness once again no matter how impossible it can be?

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Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant pushes the readers to take into account various perspectives as Sandberg narrates her journey on how she copes up with her husband’s unexpected death. The book also provides various examples of problems in work, studies, relationships, health, and life in general.

Words are powerful, especially if they can touch one’s innermost cries. Here are some of my favorite quotations from the book which I hope to empower and lessen one’s load.

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There are no words to describe the pain and consequence when life hits you hard. For me, I always blame myself because I think it is much better than to blame someone else or the situation for our own misfortunes.

This book encourages every reader to practice self-compassion. To accept the negative situations in life without putting one’s self down. It is a matter of being brave to be honest and  conquer one’s own demons without falling into depression or self-destruction.

“Martin Seligman found that three P’s can stunt recovery: (1) personalization- the belief that we are at fault; (2) pervasiveness-the belief that an event will affect all areas of our life; and (3) permanence- the belief that the aftershocks of the event will last forever… Recognizing that negative events aren’t personal, pervasive, or permanent makes people less likely to get depressed and better able to cope” (16).

“I learned that when life pulls you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again” (29).

“Self-confidence is critical to happiness and success. When we lack it, we dwell on our flaws. We fail to embrace new challenges and learn new skills. We hesitate to take even a small risk that can lead to a big opportunity. We decide not to apply for a new job, and the promotion we miss becomes the moment our career stalled. We don’t muster the courage to ask for a first date, and the future love of our life becomes the one who got away” (64).

“When we look for joy, we often focus on the big moments. Graduating from school. Having a child. Getting a job. Being reunited with family. But happiness is the frequency of positive experiences, not the intensity” (100).

“[T]he love we need to lead a fulfilling life cannot only come from others but must come from inside us as well” (172).

Others 

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In terms of other people, there are two perspectives. First is how one will react to the misfortunes of others and how one will act or not act at all as a response. In times of trouble, I learn who my real friends are. It is also surprising to know that sometimes one can also find comfort in the company of strangers because they are just there beside you. Eventually, these strangers will begin to be one of your true friends as well. Thus,  it is always not too late to create meaningful relationships with others, if something ended.

“Not everyone feels comfortable talking openly about personal tragedy. We all make our own choices about when and where and if we want to express our feelings. Still, there’s powerful evidence that opening up about traumatic events can improve mental and physical health. Speaking to a friend or family member often helps people understand their own emotions and feel understood” (39).

“When people close to us face adversity, how do we give them a button to press? While it seems obvious that friends want to support friends going through a crisis, there are barriers that block us. There are two different emotional responses to the pain of others: empathy, which motivates us to help, and distress, which motivates us to avoid” (47).

Together

Some adversities do not only affect an individual but they can also have larger implication to personal relationships or in a specific society/country in general.

“Even in the face of atrocity, elevation leads us to look at our similarities instead of our differences. We see the potential for good in others and gain hope that we can survive and rebuild” (136).

We are all currently working on our first options. For me, Option A is our best choice on how to live our life but if something unexpected happens, it is not bad to have an Option B.

I’m glad that sometimes this newly improved option will help us pick up the pieces of our first option. Option B helps us to bounce back higher in life and create more meaningful relationships because of the growth brought by our past experiences.