Monday Musings: 10 Life Reminders from Siargao

Oftentimes, the best memories happen when you do not plan. The Surfing Capital of the Philippines definitely took my heart away.

It started with a last-minute decision after the French Embassy denied my visa application, ruining my holiday plans and putting a huge shadow over my festive mood. Luckily, I found out that my former roommates and Couchsurfing bestbuds were celebrating New Year’s Eve in Siargao so I decided to join them.

I had my bag packed and got my gears ready but I forgot that it was the holidays. I confidently thought that there would be loads of tickets to go there. It turned out to be one of the biggest struggle I’ve had to reach one destination! It involved hours of riding on habal-habal, ferries, bangkas, jeepneys, and tricycles! I ended up arriving a day late from my hostel booking.

People asked me why I went through all those instead of just staying at home. At that moment it seemed like a great idea and I knew complicated journeys always turn into good stories (sometimes I lie to myself).

Anyways, after days of random overnights in unplanned stops, I realized that I have been reminded about a lot of things in less than a week of travel.

Chillin like a villain at Cloud 9

  1. Relax! I usually feel that I am Roger the Rabbit in Winnie the Pooh or the Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland and I am not alone for sure. Humans naturally want to control and predict basically everything. The thought of not knowing makes us all feel uneasy. When I took the fast craft to head to Southern Leyte, I had everything calculated and yet I still missed some of my schedule and my worry was unnecessary, because I still ended up where I used to be. Sometimes you just have to let things be, as what Timon and Pumba would say “Hakuna Matata!” I have not reached Timon levels yet but I started Headspace to help me be calm.

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    Sunset as I left San Ricardo Port
  2. Be open. I only had one thing in mind when I went to Siargao and it was to surf. This one thing I never got to do because I decided to open myself up to other possibilities. I did not regret missing out on the surfing because I had tons of fun memories with people. That is how it should be! We should set our path towards the door and remain open enough to let new things come our way. It helps us grow. If we just keep on doing the same things over and over, it is like you living in a program. We are not born robots and we should not live like one.

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    Team Blue Bloods vs. Team Diarrhea (Diarrhea won Paglaolympics)
  3. Make new friends. Most of the people I knew booked in another hostel and I felt quite uneasy the minute I arrive (my anti social side always kicks in). I did not know anyone and it was great because at the end of the trip, I made a lot of new friends. Sometimes, we have to leave our usual circle to get new perspectives on life.

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    Enjoying the waves as they kiss the shore.
  4. Live in the present. Everyday, you would normally seeing me posting a lot in FB about different things but while in Siargao, I was too engrossed in what was happening locally so I barely had time to post or read anything. This somewhat reminded me to really make it a point to disconnect regularly to connect with the real world. I’m a bit slow on this but I am making progress. Count moments not milestones.

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    Fail at the swing
  5. It is perfectly normal to make mistakes. When I started driving the scooter, I was so scared of making mistakes that in the end, someone still hit me at the back. I know motorbikes are not good examples but it does tell you that you can be extremely careful but there will be things beyond your control and it is completely fine to just make mistakes (as long as it is not deadly).

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    Channeling the inner monkey at Secret Spot
  6. Dare to do something you have never done before. The countdown was finished and everyone was already partying yet I was standing there still worrying about a lot of things. Should I do it? What will people say? Will I mess up? These are my normal mind prompts when faced with having to do something out of my usual and often I normally let them win. All my what if’s stopped me a lot of times from enjoying. I would rather do what others expect of me than what I would like to do. This has led me to a lot of regrets. This was also one reason why I ended up in Siargao, I never celebrated New Year outside of house or away from people I know and for the first time I did. It did not kill me, in fact, it was one of the good decisions I have made despite one huge mistake. I enjoyed the night of dancing with friends and saying hi to strangers.

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    Andrea checking out the waves
  7. Ride the waves. I haven’t done this in Siargao (Unfortunately!) However, I saw it a lot and noticed how it was so close to real life. We all have our struggles and sometimes we just want to give up but that should not be our primary reflex. If you just ride the waves, the whole process will give you joy. Waves are there to challenge your strenght and build your character. Each wave you ride adds up to your beautiful story.

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    Drinks and fire at Guyam Island
  8. Trust people. There were instances where I let people I barely knew drive the motorbike because of the unpaved roads and normally I would never do that. I have trust issues. I always think that people will fail me and in the end it will hurt me but in Siargao, I learned to not think about this and just believe in the goodness of people. Another instance was when I was pissed and decided to walk home to the hostel, there was one habal-habal driver who asked me if I needed help. I turned him down and 500 meters later. I was nowhere near the hostel and my phone was dead. I had no way to know where I was since it was my first night there and I greatly relied on my map app. I luckily chanced upon two nice street sweepers who showed me the way and finally trusted a driver to take me there. Nothing bad happened to me and I arrived safely. With the crazy world we now live in, trusting people has become more difficult than ever but it does not make the world better to be part of the cynics either. When you trust people, they also feel good about themselves. So instead of being negative, just be positive.

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    The annoyed kid :))
  9. Do not judge. We tend to have our own prejudice on different people. I had a terrible judgement of one of the habal-habal (motorbike) drivers. It was the first night at Siargao and I realised everyone already left. I did not have a ride and had a number of drinks. I was pissed and decided to just walk back to the hostel (not a good idea if you are new to the place). As I walk through the pitch dark road, I heard a man calling out, ‘Do you need a ride?’. I replied with a loud, ‘No’. He did not leave right away and he wanted to check if I was sure. Stubborn as I am, I told him to leave me alone and he did. After 30 minutes of walking and following the gps, my phone died and I ended up in town with two guys sweeping the street. I tried to ask them the way back to the hostel but I was not sober enough to remember. Finally, I gave up and just decided to get a motorbike driver. I arrived in the hostel safe and sound. The next day, I needed to go around so I decided to rent a motorbike (did not shower yet) so I walked back to town and then a driver called me. He was the guy who offered me a ride. All the while I thought he was just being nice to get more money but he went out of his way to find me a scooter. Being in the big city, people tend to use you a lot and then you become cynical. You start to categorise people without second thoughts. The incident reminded me that some people may look devious but they can be good natured.15822598_10154777794348329_6934201963544954634_n.jpg
  10. Enjoy the simple things. Siargao is still an under developed area. Although, there are several resorts most of the areas remain provincial and some roads still do not have streetlights or pavement. I enjoyed the rawness of the area. It is this simplicity that truly made my motorbike trips around the island pleasurable. The thought of adventure, the smell of fresh air and the unending lush greens, these made me happy and it was for free! As a city girl, I have moments where I just unwind by purchasing things that I probably would not ever need and this is what capitalism thought us. Money can buy happiness! I do not agree completely (although it can make me a bit happier if I get my dive master license and funding to educate more Filipinos) because this kind of happiness does not last long specially if it is just to buy objects. There are a lot of good things in this world that is free. Like the love of your family and friends and the beauty of nature, you do not need to break your bank to be happy.
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Finally getting the hang of it!

Getting to, being in and leaving Siargao were all equally memorable. I thought that spending four days in the island is enough. I was wrong, very wrong! I am grateful for having met different people through the trip they were good reminders and inspiration. I cannot wait to be back in Paglaom Hostel this May (to finally catch my first wave)!

Unexpected Escape

In 2003, a teenage girl who was extremely shy (to the point that when at a fast food chain she would ask her sister to order for her) was trying to escape half a day’s worth of classes. She signed up for her first Impromptu Speaking Competition to be exempted that day. 


It was her first time in a speaking contest. After couple of contestants, the winners were announced and she took second place. She was surprised to have won and that was when she found out that she probably had a skill in speaking specially in coming up with reasons and stories. She never really took notice of it until 4 years later. 

After her first heartbreak, she would force herself to belong to the world of extroverts. She signed up for her first beauty competition in her hometown, Ormoc. There she got a feel of how it was to have spotlights and a huge crowd listening to what she had to say. Naturally while answering the final question, her introvert side kicked in and she started to lose focus on her speech. This mistake cost her the title and she settled for second best.

In 2009, coaxed by her gay friends, she joined Miss Cebu. Unprepared but curious she managed to be part of the finalists. It was during this stint that she found out about Toastmasters International. After two days of sessions, she felt a bit more confident about her speaking skills and considered joining the organization. This thought was buried overtime.

Fast forward to 2016, after a string of misadventures in Makati, she moved back to Cebu. Through Facebook, the thought of improving her speaking skills was once again ignited. This time around, she finally decided to commit to it. 

Yesterday, she joined their speech competition for impromptu. The fourth person to speak, she entered a tense room with all eyes on her. The toastmaster of the evening Nizz then said a quote by John F. Kennedy, ” The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining. ” Caught off guard by the figure of speech she started to compose her speech. As she was delivering it, she noticed the crowd looked a bit discombobulated. A bit distracted she continued until she looked to her right and the warning light was already red. She quickly tried to wrap everything up. After the speech, she already set in her mind that she was already disqualified as the rule was strict about going beyond the allotted 30 seconds. After the scores were tallied the pronouncement came. Dranz was called for second place and she just cheered on for either Tin or Peter Paul then something unexpected happened. Her name was called. She shruggingly went on stage and accepted the recognition.

14 years ago, this girl would never imagine that she would be competing to speak in a prestigious organization and yet her she is, bravely walking into uncertain. Now at 30, others might think it is too late for her, she is not worried. She is confident enough to walk in her own pace. 

Do not get her wrong, she is still an introvert right down to the core but she knows words are powerful enough to help change the world. A world where her thoughts and words are put out for the world to hear and think of and have the potential to influence minds. 

In her attempt to escape, she found a new world where she can be good.

Monday Musings: I am a Filipino

Are you a Filipino?

What does it mean to be a Filipino? What is our role in our society? Who are we?

The Philippines has always been a melting pot of various nationalities which have blurred some lines on how we look and those that have conquered us before have managed to kill a significant part of our culture. Whenever I am disappointed by the masses, I remind myself of this literary work by Carlos P. Romulo.

I am a Filipino – inheritor of a glorious past, hostage to the uncertain future. As such I must prove equal to a two-fold task- the task of meeting my responsibility to the past, and the task of performing my obligation to the future.

I sprung from a hardy race – child of many generations removed of ancient Malayan pioneers. Across the centuries, the memory comes rushing back to me: of brown-skinned men putting out to sea in ships that were as frail as their hearts were stout. Over the sea I see them come, borne upon the billowing wave and the whistling wind, carried upon the mighty swell of hope- hope in the free abundance of new land that was to be their home and their children’s forever.
This is the land they sought and found. Every inch of shore that their eyes first set upon, every hill and mountain that beckoned to them with a green and purple invitation, every mile of rolling plain that their view encompassed, every river and lake that promise a plentiful living and the fruitfulness of commerce, is a hollowed spot to me.
By the strength of their hearts and hands, by every right of law, human and divine, this land and all the appurtenances thereof – the black and fertile soil, the seas and lakes and rivers teeming with fish, the forests with their inexhaustible wealth in wild life and timber, the mountains with their bowels swollen with minerals – the whole of this rich and happy land has been, for centuries without number, the land of my fathers. This land I received in trust from them and in trust will pass it to my children, and so on until the world no more.
I am a Filipino. In my blood runs the immortal seed of heroes – seed that flowered down the centuries in deeds of courage and defiance. In my veins yet pulses the same hot blood that sent Lapulapu to battle against the alien foe that drove Diego Silang and Dagohoy into rebellion against the foreign oppressor.
That seed is immortal. It is the self-same seed that flowered in the heart of Jose Rizal that morning in Bagumbayan when a volley of shots put an end to all that was mortal of him and made his spirit deathless forever; the same that flowered in the hearts of Bonifacio in Balintawak, of Gergorio del Pilar at Tirad Pass, of Antonio Luna at Calumpit; that bloomed in flowers of frustration in the sad heart of Emilio Aguinaldo at Palanan, and yet burst fourth royally again in the proud heart of Manuel L. Quezon when he stood at last on the threshold of ancient Malacañang Palace, in the symbolic act of possession and racial vindication.
The seed I bear within me is an immortal seed. It is the mark of my manhood, the symbol of dignity as a human being. Like the seeds that were once buried in the tomb of Tutankhamen many thousand years ago, it shall grow and flower and bear fruit again. It is the insigne of my race, and my generation is but a stage in the unending search of my people for freedom and happiness.
I am a Filipino, child of the marriage of the East and the West. The East, with its languor and mysticism, its passivity and endurance, was my mother, and my sire was the West that came thundering across the seas with the Cross and Sword and the Machine. I am of the East, an eager participant in its struggles for liberation from the imperialist yoke. But I also know that the East must awake from its centuried sleep, shape of the lethargy that has bound his limbs, and start moving where destiny awaits.
For, I, too, am of the West, and the vigorous peoples of the West have destroyed forever the peace and quiet that once were ours. I can no longer live, being apart from those world now trembles to the roar of bomb and cannon shot. For no man and no nation is an island, but a part of the main, there is no longer any East and West – only individuals and nations making those momentous choices that are hinges upon which history resolves.
At the vanguard of progress in this part of the world I stand – a forlorn figure in the eyes of some, but not one defeated and lost. For through the thick, interlacing branches of habit and custom above me I have seen the light of the sun, and I know that it is good. I have seen the light of justice and equality and freedom and my heart has been lifted by the vision of democracy, and I shall not rest until my land and my people shall have been blessed by these, beyond the power of any man or nation to subvert or destroy.
I am a Filipino, and this is my inheritance. What pledge shall I give that I may prove worthy of my inheritance? I shall give the pledge that has come ringing down the corridors of the centuries, and it shall be compounded of the joyous cries of my Malayan forebears when they first saw the contours of this land loom before their eyes, of the battle cries that have resounded in every field of combat from Mactan to Tirad pass, of the voices of my people when they sing:
Land of the Morning,Child of the sun returning…Ne’er shall invadersTrample thy sacred shore.
Out of the lush green of these seven thousand isles, out of the heartstrings of sixteen million people all vibrating to one song, I shall weave the mighty fabric of my pledge. Out of the songs of the farmers at sunrise when they go to labor in the fields; out of the sweat of the hard-bitten pioneers in Mal-ig and Koronadal; out of the silent endurance of stevedores at the piers and the ominous grumbling of peasants Pampanga; out of the first cries of babies newly born and the lullabies that mothers sing; out of the crashing of gears and the whine of turbines in the factories; out of the crunch of ploughs upturning the earth; out of the limitless patience of teachers in the classrooms and doctors in the clinics; out of the tramp of soldiers marching, I shall make the pattern of my pledge:

“I am a Filipino born of freedom and I shall not rest until freedom shall have been added unto my inheritance – for myself and my children’s children – forever.”

10 Best Gifts from 2016

Should I call it luck or blessing? 2016 definitely went by fast! I had a lot of meaningful experience but here are my top 10 ( in no particular order)

  1. Seeing three whalesharks in the wild.
  2. Meeting inspiring people fighting for our planet from different countries.
  3. Having constant supporters in work (A SPACE Tribe) and life (my family, friends and Lucas).
  4. Being given the chance to lead A SPACE Cebu.
  5. Meeting crazy and interesting people that break stereotypes during Geeks on A Beach and making them dance like no one was watching.
  6. Making a big dream come true for one girl and winning another crown for Philippines.
  7. Getting the chance to start a small green business.
  8. Meeting inspiring creators in science and arts.
  9. Getting the opportunity to talk and influence people to be better and to be brave.
  10. Despite finding out that I have stomach issues and a hiatal hernia, it was not a terminal diagnosis. I get to stay for 2017 and beyond!

Although a lot of negative things have happened across the globe, I celebrate these small victories for these remind me that there is still hope. Bright spots are here to stay long enough to make sure each day there is a reason to smile. 2017 I’m ready for you! 😉

 

 

 

 

The Anti-Hero Journey

Confident. Obedient. Paragon of Awesomeness. These adjectives are typically used to describe a hero. Heroes are typically the protagonist of every story and everyone wants to be like them! However, today, ladies and gentlemen, I am not here to talk about heroes. In fact, I am here to talk about the dark side. Yes! The dark side, not because Rogue One is about to premiere, but because I’m a rebel who enjoys shattering the norms.

We always look up to a hero as the epitome of what a human being should be. According to one of my favorite American Scholar, Joseph Campbell who wrote “Hero With A Thousand Faces”, a hero goes through several stages: First he is introduced in his ORDINARY WORLD where he receives the CALL TO ADVENTURE. He is then RELUCTANT at first to CROSS THE FIRST THRESHOLD where he eventually encounters TESTS, ALLIES and ENEMIES. He eventually reaches the INNERMOST CAVE where he endures the SUPREME ORDEAL. He SEIZES THE SWORD or the treasure and is pursued on the ROAD BACK to his world. He is RESURRECTED and transformed by his experience. Finally, he RETURNS to his ordinary world with a treasure, boon, or ELIXIR to benefit his world.

As much as I want to have my life story built according to this, it will never fit in this mold. My story begins with regression.  As a kid, I had a series of unfortunate life events from having a close encounter with death during the 1991 Ormoc Flood, discovering the lifeless body of my older sister who took her own life and witnessing domestic violence regularly. These life events, along with poverty, always made me feel inferior among friends. It led me to think that hiding all of these flaws and feelings would made them accept me. I created a world of self deceit and aloofness. I recall the teacher’s comment in my report card “She needs to be more sociable.”  As a weird kid in a Catholic school, I was alienated from the group and even bullied because of my eccentricities. This pushed me further into becoming bad. I fought back by throwing frogs at classmates. Perhaps the worst thing I have done was in Grade 5 when I kicked a boy in his crotch and called him stupid in front of everyone. The unceasing reminder of my uniqueness turned into an internal program for constantly highlighting weakness. When I was about to finish Elementary school, I developed lust for every material possession and description people attached to a rich and ideal kid. I started taking things from the lost and found section at school, even stealing a girl’s Barbie doll at her house. I turned into a living contradiction. One day good, next day evil. I felt compelled to control things and people. When they refused to follow I would resort to violence, pulling their hair, throwing things or pushing them off. I evolved into a tyrant, refusing to bow down to my parents and questioning all their tradition and beliefs. It died down until I started university. Despite my seemingly normal student life, I was slowly shutting down from my humanity. I took advantage of my parents’ generosity spent my allowance haphazardly; my compassion turned into hatred for the world and loathing for life. My daily wish would that it would be the last day of my life. Although living in paradise, I focused in the negative side. Creating  a living hell in my mind. I could talk endlessly about my life story but this is not an autobiographical movie with hours to spare.

Anti heroes create the problems that heroes have to solve. And without those problems, there would be no revelations concerning the basic struggle between good and evil. Stories would be plain and lifeless. Without the actions of these negative forces, there would even be little stories, and the forces that motivated Hitler and other dictators would be forever a mystery.

How did I escape my anti-hero journey? I haven’t! Every now and then my demons visit me and they try to pull me back into the pit. I will never be completely confident, despite my experience in pageants. I am less likely to turn fully obedient, my blood just screams nonconformity and even though some people think I am a paragon of awesomeness (sometimes I like to think it is true), I am just a human being with flaws.

Our anti-hero story continues daily. It gives us clues on what we must do to be saved. Knowing our anti-hero story is not as scary as it seems. Coming to terms with our anti hero story helps us to come to terms with the dark side in ourselves. After all, darkness must exist for light to flourish.

Warrior Wednesday: Speaking Out

Globally, one in seven adolescent girls aged 15 – 19 are currently married or in union – UNICEF global databases (2016)

1.1 billion girls exists in the world today, a powerful number that could shape the future of this planet. They hold so much potential and yet they face discrimination, violence and lack of equal opportunities killing their dreams and their future.

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Across the globe, rates of child marriage are highest in sub-Saharan Africa, where around 4 in 10 girls marry before age 18; about one in eight were married or in union before age 15.

 

I grew up in a quiet city, almost unheard of by most of my fellow Filipinos until one major flood happened. As a girl, I grew up accepting the norm that men should have the last say. My mother was in an abusive relationship with my father and even though she spoke out against him, it took her almost 25 years before she finally took the courage to end the relationship. Seeing this dysfunction at home plus going to a private school with kids from rich families deeply affected how I dealt with the world. I had to deal with a lot of internal conflicts as a child that back then did not seem to be significant. It finally developed into a wall to keep people away. I grew up introverted who was more comfortable of the thought of death than the thought of talking to people. When I reach my teenage years, I learned a bit of mischief on how to have an acceptable way of escaping classes. I joined school competitions until that one day where I ended up in an Extemporaneous Speaking competition. I placed second (or third forgot exactly) and almost had the chance to represent our school (I came late the day of the competition). That is when I knew that speaking out was not a weakness but a strength of mine.

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The struggle to speak out is never easy. There are a lot of girls today who like me are going through a lot of things. Thinking about my childhood, I still had it better compared to most of the girls now. I did not have to deal with child labor or child marriage but in developing countries (excluding China), one in every three girls is married before reaching age 18. This means the futures of 47,700 girls are derailed every day.

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Me with some of the Regional Ambassador for Girl Rising across the globe.

I joined Girl Rising and became one of the Regional Ambassador for Philippines because of this pervasive thought about my own childhood and the current number of girl child suffering each second because of the lack of education and empowerment. They are voiceless victims of abuse and inequality. No one is speaking out on their behalf. We cannot let this issue remain as an elephant in the room. I started the Girl Rising Philippines Facebook Page out of the hope of reaching out to the women and girls all over the world, to give them voice and courage so they can fight for their education.

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“I was going to die, sooner or later, whether or not I had even spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silences will not protect you…. What are the words you do not yet have? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence? We have been socialized to respect fear more than our own need for language.”

I began to ask each time: “What’s the worst that could happen to me if I tell this truth?” Unlike women in other countries, our breaking silence is unlikely to have us jailed, “disappeared” or run off the road at night. Our speaking out will irritate some people, get us called bitchy or hypersensitive and disrupt some dinner parties. And then our speaking out will permit other women to speak, until laws are changed and lives are saved and the world is altered forever.

Next time, ask: What’s the worst that will happen? Then push yourself a little further than you dare. Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest it’s personal. And the world won’t end.

And the speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don’t miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And you will still flirt and paint your nails, dress up and party, because, as I think Emma Goldman said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.”
― Audre Lorde

Right now, I am working with the rest of the Regional Ambassadors for Philippines in putting up content and we are open for collaboration. I hope you join me in speaking out about this cause.  Feel free to comment here or email at girlrisingph@gmail.com

Monday Musings: Float, Trust, Enjoy

Sometimes all you need is to float, trust and enjoy!

I stare out of the window each morning and I cannot help but be fascinated at the sight of people passing by rushing through the day. 

As humans, we constantly have a need to control things, from the contours of our face to how others live their lives. 

We always crave for power over situations and yet we can never stop some things from happening. We want to constantly be captain of our ships but we know we will never fully be in the captain’s seat.

Most of the time I feel like the Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, I worry a lot! Time, however, has taught me a good lesson on the importance of trust. 

Here is a good write-up, I’ve come across while doing my usual obsessive compulsive habit of reading random things online.

Muhammad said no one looks back and regrets leaving this world. What’s regretted is how real we thought it was!

How much we worried about phenomena and how little we considered what moves through form. “Why did I spend my life denying death? 

“Death is the key to truth!” When you hear lamenting like that, say, not out loud, but ainwardly, “What moved you then still moves you, the same energy. But you understand perfectly now that you are not essentially a body, tissue, bone, brain, and muscle. 

Dissolve in the clear vision. Instead of looking down at the six feet of road immediately ahead, look up: see both worlds, the face of the king, the ocean shaping and carrying you along. 

You’ve heard descriptions of that sea. Now float, trust, enjoy the motion.

Monday Musings : Q2 Insights and Changes

The earlier half of my 2016 is already awesome. Here’s why.

It is half way through August and as you guys have probably noticed, I haven’t done a great job at posting new content in July. I initially drafted this post last month but I could never get my mind in one place. I have had a lot of things going on in my life and I am still struggling to create the habit of consistently writing. Anyways, I am sharing new life challenges and changes for the first half of 2016.

  1. My temporary contract with Rare ended. I said goodbye to the non-profit world to take on new challenges that will further develop my skills in putting ideas to reality. I had a lot of good memories the full 8 months as a Temporary Associate for Partnerships. It was a good experience to be part of an international non-profit organization. Last January, I was lucky enough to be part of the Sinulog Grand Parade as a participant and not merely a spectator. It was my first time to also watch the competition. During my last week, I joined the first site visit to validate the information sent in by the municipality. I learned about the plights of the local fishermen and how deep corruption goes. As I left the organization, I had mixed feelings because I was leaving the people that I have been with for months. They were hardcore workers that are really dedicated to helping the locals protect our oceans. Unfortunately, in life not all stories last and this was one page I had to close to open the next one.

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    Me and my awesome workmates from Rare during the Sinulog Grand Parade.
  2. Ever since I met my boyfriend, Lucas who is equally in love with the ocean as I am, I have been diving more. It is definitely great to find someone who is also into the same sport. As of now, I have already logged in 61 dives! I have started counting down seahorses that I have seen and so far I have seen only 2 pygmy seahorse and 4 regular size ones which makes me closer to crossing this off my life list. I have visited more dive sites and I have had more close encounters with sea snakes. I am looking forward to getting my Rescue Diver License later this year (fingers crossed) since I did not get to do so last year. This goal would mean more focus on saving my pay unless I suddenly find me a sponsor (maybe you know anyone willing?).   61dives13082704_10154070688978329_4043091711850212282_n
  3. Luckily, I was one of the chosen Filipinos to participate in the first Climate Reality Leadership Training in the Philippines which was headed by Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore himself where I have met countless of inspiring people from different parts of the world sharing the same passion for the environment.
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    With my table mates!
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    Intramuros Tour with the other leaders
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    Inspiring stories from different countries.

     

  4.  I was appointed as Miss SCUBA Philippines National Director, which I fully accepted even though I know how huge of an undertaking it is. Making me currently the youngest pageant national director in Philippines. I am happy that I will contribute to a lady’s life changing moment the same way I did for Cindy. I am positive that we can have back-to-back win for Philippines in Miss SCUBA International 2016. Luckily, SERALCHO, headed by Mr. Charles Lim, is supportive about my passion in promoting diving among ladies and marine conservation in the country. There will be selections all throughout the country and I am certain the next Miss SCUBA Philippines will be a woman of substance and action.

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    Me with Mr. Lorenzo Tang, GM of Belmont Hotel, Miss SCUBA International/ Miss SCUBA Philippines 2015 Cindy Madduma and Charles Lim of SELRAHCO during the Press Launch
  5. A SPACE Inc. decided that I was good enough to be Space and Community Deals lead for their first branch out of Manila. Now working hard to exceed their expectations and to have the best coworking space in Cebu. I am admittedly turning into a workaholic working for more than 8 hours per day and even having dreams that are work-related but it all pays when you see the spacers happy and the space slowly morphing into an awesome masterpiece.

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    Blending in with the participants of Angelhack Cebu challenge.
  6. I have ran farther and faster than I used to during university. I have stuck through my resolution of being more healthy and I have already accomplished much. I survived my first 12km run and made it in the top 10 finisher. I also have recently increased my speed in 10k and earned my first Sub1 10k medal.

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    I have always been into short distance running but I never knew I could be as good, if not better doing long distance.
  7. I went back to public speaking by delivering a talk on marine conservation during the Instameet organized by I Luv Cebu. It was weird to be the older person in the room as I was surrounded a lot of teenagers but it was a good test on how I could package my talk in a fun but a bit alarming way. Although, I think I scared them more. Plus Lucas and I ended up in this page of the local newspaper!

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    Photos during the Instameet Event
  8. I reached a milestone with Lucas, he surprisingly survived my craziness for a year! I have learned a thing or two from him when it comes to relationships. I am never the best person when it comes to controlling emotions. Since I do not do mediocre, I am either all in or nothing in a relationship. Managing this stereotypical girl behavior of over analyzing and over acting is never easy but I am getting better at it (I think). He is very thoughtful and always reminds me that we are a team. I got so used to being independent that I usually forget that I can ask for help. I have never been happy in a relationship.  He is not only a boyfriend, he is also my dive buddy and co explorer! What more can a girl ask for right?
  9. I recently found out that I have Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and Hiatal Hernia, making my diet a lot more complicated. I cannot have any acidic food which means I have to avoid tomatoes, chocolate, caffeine and gas forming foods too! I am still adjusting and to be honest, it is not easy at all. Being vegetarian is already complicated in a meat loving country. It just decreases my food choices. I was reminded that even if I workout, I should also take the time to take care of the other part of my body like the stomach. We often do not care about it. Each organ is vital to us and all should be treated equally with great care.
  10. I went back to short hair and fringe! While it is not such a big of deal, it is quite liberating. The last time I had hair this short was right after I finished university which would be 9 years ago. After having to keep my hair long for years because the modelling and pageant industry demanded it, I feel more empowered these days and it has lifted my confidence. Helped me channel the rock star in me.

What will happen next? I can try to analyse and think of the things to come but I will never completely know what to expect. One thing I know is that this is my last year to be part of the 20ish and I will not let it drift by in a boring manner. I will continue to push my limits and break current boundaries. Just as how living should be.

How is your year so far?


 

Monday Musings : Accidental Shifts

How a series of accidents led me to finding my voice and confidence.

Most people who worry, hide from the world. They are often too scared about a lot of things. Instead of opening their arms to welcome life, they hide in caves filled with doubt. I too worried a lot, from reliability of the mall to other mundane stuff. As I child, I knew one thing well and that was to run. Run away from people, experiences and opportunities. It wasn’t until I stumbled several times that I realized that I should stop.

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Survived swimsuit + Q&A with the help of chocolate

I was quite an insecure child who had little passion for anything school related except for English and Science. It was in my last year when I grew tired of attending classes (Hi Mom!). I was a bit of a smart ass (or that is what I thought then). I figured if I joined most of our school competitions, I would not be questioned for my absence in classes. I joined a lot of school competitions, from slogan making to a Bible quiz (where I surprisingly won first place and made my mother extra proud) but there is one incident that changed me.

One morning, I noticed the poster for extemporaneous speaking competition so I signed up thinking it would be another valid reason to not go into my classes. I remember the question was about Overseas Filipino Workers. I didn’t think through it but I just spoke my mind. It was a first for me to speak up my mind in front of judges. With my friends I go all out but I rarely spoke in a crowd ( only when my teacher called me to answer) so when they announced that I won a place, I was in shock. This incident, made me think about my speaking skills. I pushed it aside after that and went back to my introversion.

2009, I was already 22 years old and going through my first heartbreak. Despite my sensitive feelings, I did not want to be the loser. This thought led me to go on what I thought was a suicide mission. Perhaps you thing what an exaggeration but for an introvert it really felt like that! I told my mother that I wanted to join a beauty pageant. I figured winning a crown would be an ultimate slap to the ex boyfriend’s face. My mother was supportive specially because she had already been asked by her friends way back when I was in high school to let me join one. She asked her friends to do a major makeover!

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Survived swimsuit + Q&A with the help of chocolate

I was so keen on having the best revenge that I worked hard to train in heels. Unfortunately, the first pair of heels broke because I was so stiff! I traded rice for oatmeal and did 200 crunches in the morning and another set in the evening. From boyish, I went through a major transformation (think Princess Diaries levels except I don’t have a queen for a grandmother and was surrounded by gay guys).It was the first time I wore two piece swimwear and performed a talent in front of a huge crowd. June came and it was already the finals night, I ended up winning first place and it was after that I realized that in the process of getting revenge, I have recreated a bit of myself. From super awkward girl to somewhat a more confident one. This led to my career in the beauty pageant industry and gave me the chance to compete and win a place internationally.

Accidents happen around us on a daily basis. We usually try to avoid them but life just brings it to us. I am not talking about car accidents but those life experiences that we do not usually plan out. If I closed off from unfamiliar experiences, I doubt that I would be as happy with myself as I am now. Let us not close out our selves from these because these unplanned moments usually turn us into someone better.