July 1, 2015 § Leave a comment
I’m finally done with my oral qualifying exam. If anything, it has been an extremely humbling experience. I was in a sombre mood for an extended time, especially when my exam was nearing. I broke into tears every few days, and thank God for my Dad who listened to all my fears, calmed me down in between sobbing long distance calls and helped me remember what was important. Though everyone thought I’d do well anyway because (and I am deeply humbled by this thought) they think it’s easy for me to do well in academics, I knew myself the best. And knowing myself the best, I was beyond unprepared. PhD has nothing at all to do with intelligence. And I am not even intelligent. It’s all just plain hard work, just like what every other person has to do in their own occupation. I own up to all the laziness, negligence, doubt and escapism that I allowed to settle in with me at times. But thank God I didn’t stop trying. I just couldn’t dare do that and waste my mom’s dream and this opportunity. People say you shouldn’t fulfill your parent’s dreams and I’ve been in denial of that fact up until I sank into a state of panic. But I’ve finally owned up to the fact that me finishing a PhD is in fact my mom’s dream. It wasn’t mine and it isn’t mine. And for that, I will damn finish this and not let that dream die. On so many days, I silently wished my mom was here to comfort me and tell me I can do it. What overwhelmed me was on the night before my exam, God sent my friends to let me know I can do it. And at that moment, I knew I wasn’t alone. Thank you guys, you know who you are. :) I really appreciated it. :)
I drew my biggest inspiration from this child I don’t even personally know. This is just a reminder that no matter how small or big the task you’re doing is, don’t ever give up because you never know who you’re inspiring. (you got that right, crabby ;))
See you soon, home! :)
June 21, 2015 § 1 Comment
Mamow when he surprised me with a visit on my birthday last year. He missed seeing my messy room.
He’s always been the proudest during the high points in my life, but more importantly, he’s always been there for me during the lowest ones. Those days when I felt the world caving in on me, my dad has always been the one to reassure me that no matter what I do, how I fall and if I fail, I will always be loved by my family. When I lost the gold earrings that my mom ever so reminded me to take care of, it was Mamow who took my side and forgave me. During that one time I cried because of my academics during college, it was Mamow who drove all the way down to Makati from Cavite on a Saturday morning just because he knew I just needed to cry it out. When I felt my first taste of failure in one of my students who failed to improve his grade after I tutored him in Math, it was Mamow who told me that it’s not my fault but that I should bravely deal with it. During those times that Gab and I didn’t know if Inay was going to make it, it was Mamow who constantly reassured us that prayers will make everything alright. And especially now when I’ve been having the bulk of my breakdowns in a place not that easy to go to, it has always been Mamow who has reassured me that I can do it and that no matter what, I can always come back home. It’s funny because my parents have always been proud of the fact that I never cried when I was a baby. It was my dad who trained me as such. I can imagine he threatened me in some manner as an infant to make me stop that reflex of crying. Haha, well we were raised in a very strict manner. It’s probably why now that I’m away from him, tears have been coming more easily every time I have really bad days. And it’s only Mamow’s voice on the phone that can calm me down and remind me that I am not a person who gives up easily. Mamow, you know I’m not really the stereotypical daddy’s girl. And most of our disagreements have only been those instances when you didn’t allow me to do what I wanted. Although I may have seethed in apparent anger during those times, I would never do anything without your consent (if I ask, haha) not because I fear punishment but because I value your approval. Happy Father’s Day, Mamow. Gab and I miss you so much. Distance, whether physical or metaphysical, will never dampen the spirit of love and faith that you have worked so hard for in imbibing in our family. Thank you for giving us the privilege to have a reason to celebrate Father’s Day. :) We love you.
May 21, 2015 § Leave a comment
As with most fortunate (or unfortunate?) people with internet access these days, I have been using my only social networking site (you guessed it, Facebook) as a means to get news…be it from my primary school friends I have not seen in ages or from entities I choose to “follow” because I think the things they post are either relevant or downright amusing. And because my network provider somehow charges less within Facebook versus when I use my browser, I find myself reading comments most of the time if I want to assess if a link is worth pressing or not. If you’ve been doing the same, you would have likely noticed the obvious trends in these so called “threads”. There are people who give affirmation, and people who express their disagreement. Now affirmation is almost a neutral comment, except in cases when you offer additional insights and it so happens that the issue at hand is controversial. You will probably get your share of “haters”. On the other hand, expressing disagreement can either earn you affirmation by fellow dissidents or people telling you to “shut the fuck off if you have nothing good to say”. Personally, I have never been one to add my own personal comments on public posts, save for a few exceptions. And in those exceptions, I’ve noticed that I leave those positive neutral ones. Perhaps other than the fact that I do not want the bothersome notifications, I honestly see it as a waste of time to embroil myself in online public discussions. As I usually see it, I do not waste my time mocking grammatical errors of other people, nor do I see the need to challenge other people’s opinions especially when they are working on completely flawed premises. In addition, I find it so foolish when people comment on something obviously without reading the article first, verifying its veracity, or even simply basing on previous comments. These days everyone wants to give their two cents, and self-proclaimed “netizen” police will gladly take you down when they deem you stupid or out of line. Me thinks I will spare myself from possible online slaughter. BUT, it was in the middle of reading one of these comment threads that I realized (the obvious) that social networking sites have become a microcosm of reality…if not reality itself. “Experts” may insist on so-called social media ethics, but the truth is, some people online are literally extensions of what they are IRL. And in this realization, I suddenly thought that there is actually a fine line between apparently following the unspoken etiquette and just being plain apathetic. The way I see it, there are two prominent ways to be “cool”…become totally inactive online, or to be too active online. The latter one has always been deemed as damaging, I think most people would agree to that. But the former one usually gets the positive light. However, historically, extremes have never been solely good. There is always something beneath that fold, which is why the safest place has always been the middle ground. Not that I’m espousing living a life of boring safety, but my only point is that being totally inactive may actually be encouraging apathy. Those times that I think I am merely being neutral and open and “cool”, I might actually just be exercising a new form of social apathy. And though I would have loved to explore this theory in more depth, the quagmire that my mind is currently at implores me to save it for next time. This argument actually opens up further discussion about our responsibilities in owning social networking sites. But I will leave this to social scientists. After all, I am just another person expressing my unsubstantiated musings…just like so many other people out there.
April 18, 2015 § Leave a comment
It’s been a while since I’ve written to you. In fact, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything of worth. I miss you a lot. I was imagining addressing you in poetry, but I’m afraid my thoughts are all in prose. Rhymeless prose. The only song in my head when I think of you is the last song you ever heard.
I finally asked Ama that question that I’ve always wanted an answer to. It was a selfish question that I could not bring myself to ask for quite some time until after you passed away. But I wanted an answer, and I wanted it in words. I asked him if you missed me when I was away.
You see, I know there’s an obvious answer to that, but there’s a difference in answering my own questions to someone else answering them for me. Especially when the question is independent of me, but whose answer I am dependent on. He told me you were always crying and you thought that you’d never see me again. To say that I felt a pang of guilt is an understatement. Yet it was a stark contrast to the neutral, brave front you always showed me whenever you called me in Skype. Sometimes I recall you with silent longing – a memory that performs a brief waltz in my head. Sometimes it’s in the middle of the night when I wake up in tears – succumbing to the treachery of my dreams. Sometimes, it is exactly as now – when tears still well up from my eyes and all that can comfort me is writing. Truly, there is nothing like going home to a mother, to a mom, to a nayoti, to a naychi, to a baby buddha – to half of everything that stood for all the past and present and future strength I had, have and will ever have. When the going gets tough, it’s easier to be tough and get going if you know your parents have your back. I miss knowing I have someone to tell my fears to, without being embarrassed about it. Ironically though, I rarely did that with you. In truth, we operated with a constant buffer to maintain emotional normality. If I count the number of times we both broke down in tears at the same time, I can only even remember two. The times I broke down, you always consoled me with your firm trust and resolve. The times you broke down, I always encouraged you to have faith and stand right back up. But I always believed that you felt my thoughts and knew my feelings. You probably just denied me of the superficial comfort derived from wallowing in self-pity; and wisely at that. It’s how I learned to follow suit. But now when I find myself breaking down, it’s hard for me to look for the same solid ground that you always made sure I stood on. I’m stuck in this limbo looking for you. Floating among old memories and flashbacks. Immobile and overwhelmed with an inconsolable loneliness. It is a brief paralysis, but it is a stroke of reality.
March 1, 2015 § Leave a comment
I was sorting through my laundry awhile ago when I suddenly had the epiphany that most of my clothes are either black, dark blue, or white. I literally walked to my dresser and opened the doors to check and was flabbergasted that indeed most of everything I had here are in those colors. I used to like wearing prints. Deadly flower prints. They were so deadly I cannot forget my brother’s remark one day that my clothes look like curtains because of the flowery prints. To my defense, they absolutely did not look like curtains (how narrowminded can boys’ descriptions sometimes be) – but yes, I did love flower prints. And I used to love yellow. It was the color I received the most compliments for. I even wore pink, and baby blue always caught my eye when I go to stores. My favorite swimsuit was orange and green. Now my existing wardrobe’s majority is the embodiment of the absence of color – black. I wondered when my wardrobe started changing, and I think it was the moment I started living here in Singapore. I swear I wore lively colors up until when I was teaching. If it was because of the fact of living away from home, doing a PhD, my mourning for the loss of my mother, the practicality of having such a straightforward and timeless fashion, not to mention dark colors does wonders in slimming down (hmm this might actually be a huge factor) – I can only guess. No wonder when I went home last December, I couldn’t find anything I was comfortable wearing. All the clothes I left behind were lively and seemed too loud. It made me queasy wearing them, and so I even bought a few more black tops when I was there. Looking back, it just seems queer. I didn’t plan a conscious transmogrification of my wardrobe to black, but somehow it seems like I gravitate towards that color as of late.
But I don’t want to die in black. Not that I am a firm believer that fashion is deeply connected to personality (because really, black does wonders in slimming down…and it’s always classy to be in black), but because I simply miss being able to pick green, or yellow, or pink, or daisies, or ducks, or or or watermelons, or whatever. It might be symbolic, that I will now make a conscious effort to buy colors the next time I go shopping. And the fact that of all the trite things I can write about, I chose this as deserving of a public entry. But whatever it is, let me just say that black is utterly boring. I hypothesize that the moment I get back my colors, doing the laundry will be much much more therapeutic. As for now, I will have to make do with the yellow on the center of that white flower print I have on a sheer black tank top.
January 31, 2015 § 1 Comment
January 25, 2015 § 7 Comments
I keep remembering this sentence I saw once in Humans of New York. It was from a story about a widow who lost her husband of so many years. When her husband was dying, she asked him How am I supposed to live without you?. And her husband answered, Take the love that you have for me, and spread it all around.
To this day, those words reverberate inside my shell, filling my core with both sadness and wisdom. Of course, that is absolutely the right thing to do. But for some reason, the idea leaves me with a heavy sense of heartache. It was an order to give away to whoever else something you have allotted to someone special. It was the gentle pushing away of hands that yearn to hug someone. It was the last forehead kiss of a lover, who refuses you to kiss him back for the last time. It was when I took down my mom’s clothes from their hangers, laid them out on the bed, sorted them out through wafts of familiar memories that dusted out of them, folded them and decided to whom they should go instead. It was painful, it was generous, it was the right thing.
Perhaps this is why people who have lost someone can sometimes show the most amazing compassion. Look at them, look at those who suffer silently for people who have long gone. Perhaps they too want to say, no, I’m not kind. It isn’t me. It’s just that, I don’t know what to do with all the love I’m left with.
This post is dedicated in loving memory of my mom, and to my dad who continues to serve others. Happy 32nd Wedding Anniversary. This is also dedicated to every beautiful person I have been lucky to know.
January 2, 2015 § Leave a comment
2014’s pages has come to a close. If I try to encapsulate its entirety to a single concept, it would be “coping”. Every day was just trying to cope up with everything that if I could suspend, I would, but I couldn’t so nevertheless had to do. And in that coping, although I was able to still make “ends meet” in a psychological, spiritual, mental, social and practical aspect, it all seemed half-done. I felt that my mind, heart and soul was neither here nor there. In fact, it would have been easy to fall apart and surrender to the evils of sloth, despair, depression and hopelessness if not for the strong loving support of my family and friends. And so, as 2015 begins, I would like to sincerely thank all of the people who in one way or more sent me a wave of encouragement, comfort and joy the past year. I would like to live 2015 as an act of gratitude to God and everyone He sent – to remember that there is joy and hope in every single day I am blessed with. To know that I am capable of more than I think, because of God’s grace and not merely of my own self. To not forget that other people are going through their own battles and I will never be adequate enough to judge them. To not lose sight of my dreams and aspirations, no matter the difficulties. To trust that in every moment, my mom is with me in everything I do. To dare far, but always know how to come back to my shore – family, friends…home. To choose to love and become love.
Thank you for the lessons, 2014. Here’s to a fresh start!