twenty seventeen

2017 was a year of loss for me, but since life always struggles to seek a balance, as the brown leaves fell, green ones grew back to take their place, and somehow that has eased the solace. I’m not saying the new ones completely replaced the old but they took up their own space in my heart and found ways to comfort me.

The passing of each year never fails to put me in a retrospective mood, it reminds me how ephemeral the world is, and everything else in it. It makes me question my reality, the things I’ve accomplished and those I’ve failed to do.. sort of a performance review. Did I do well? Did I learn enough? Did I give enough? Did I love enough? I don’t really know how I fared but since I’m a work in progress until my last breath, I will just rise back up and strive to be better with every step and stumble I make..

Today, while looking at my old blog, trying to recall when I last wrote a poem, I realized Photobucket has disabled all my images, I won’t be able to see them again unless I shell out some $$ to allow third party website referencing, what a drag, 14 years worth of memories now in hostage on their servers. I can’t even view them when I’m logged on to their site, I can only see the thumbnails and when I click on it, they show me that default logo that says I need to pay up to view my own photos. So of course I did what I had to do – go back to each of my post and remove the links to those snapshots so I won’t see that annoying gray box.

As I was reading the words written by the naive, brighter eyed me, I can’t help but shake my head and mutter, “you know nothing, young padawan”, and indeed I still know less than nothing until now. I doubt if I will ever grasp enough knowledge in this lifetime to make me tell myself that I did good despite of and in spite of everything else around me. But one thing is for certain, I won’t give up.. or I’ll try not to.


Goodnight, Lola

Dear Lola,

It’s been a long glorious life, 104 years and 28 days to be exact, but now it’s time to rest..

Thank you for raising me up, for teaching me to walk and talk and count and throw milk bottles when they’re empty. (although I’m pretty sure I learned that last one on my own)

I used to call you Nanay when I was growing up in Taguilos and I remember you chasing me from the river to our house because I was out playing with the other kids and you said I didn’t ask for permission (but I did! you were just sleeping when I told you I was going out, and you mumbled a yes with your eyes closed, so I guess that doesn’t count).

Remember that time when the passenger boat we were on suddenly sank on the way to Manila and you were holding me up with one hand and a pair of chickens with the other? You were laughing then even if you didn’t know how to swim and you told me to just hold on to the katig so we’d make it home.. (maybe it’s time for me to learn how to swim.. so I can save more chickens later?)

On your first plane ride to Cebu you were so happy and you said we should ride airplanes next time we go to Romblon so that our 12 hour boat travel will be reduced to an hour. I’m sure they have planes to our island now, I’ll fly on it for you one day..

This morning I was looking at your photos to share to my friends, to tell them you’ve been recognized by DSWD as one of the centenarians in the Philippines, you had a picture with them and Tito Robert said you just started eating again after a few days of not eating much, that was just two days ago.. a few minutes after I shared your photos, Drei messaged to say that you passed away quietly in your sleep just after midnight.. everything just crashed in me in the blink of an eye..

It’s time to go home now Lola, I wish I could have been there with you, I wish I could have held your hand one last time, hugged you and kissed you good night, but that’s not very possible right now..

Goodnight Lola, you’re going to live forever in me..


when good things come to an end

It’s not every day that you find something that fits you perfectly, challenges you constantly, positions you in situations where you can thrive and succeed, grows with you through time, and evolves with you endlessly. So it’s only natural that when you find something like that, the instinct is to cling, to hold on to it for dear life, to never let it go..

However, sometimes, an event bigger than we initially expected will force us to release our hold on this something that we thought would last for always.. and slowly we must gather all the learnings, cherish all the moments, be thankful for the opportunities and appreciate it for what it has helped us to become, before we finally move on to take on other things..

Working with this team for the past 6 years gave me the chance to meet a lot of brilliant minds and take on many different responsibilities, it has stretched me and helped shape me to become the person I am today. If things were different, I would stay and grow old with it, this is the company I’ve been with the longest, and it was a difficult decision to leave.

But things are not different, and I have to choose one  over the other because I couldn’t do both – belong to an organization I value and pursue my personal dream at the same time. Maybe someday when I have achieved my goal, I will come back here if the doors are still open for me.

For now, I just want to thank everyone for making this journey a defining one. I would like to create more memories with you and more contributions to this corporation next time.

So no goodbyes, just hellos, and see you all someday soon..


remember when the circus came to town

dear ma,

being the only daughter of Lola’s only daughter certainly has its perks, this doesn’t include borrowing your shoes, bags and clothes because they really wouldn’t fit me anyway, but that’s ok. you gave me more than just things that can be bought from a store. you gave me love, faith and patience – although that last trait is sometimes being cancelled out by this other set of genes in my system :).

i am amazed at how crazy our life has been and how we were apart more often than we were together, but despite everything we’ve been through, i will always remember that time when we were sharing a cup of Nissin’s instant ramen in that small room at the second floor of a boarding house in Singalong and you told me it was your birthday. I looked at your sad eyes across the steam rising from the cup between us and gave you a hug – I knew then, more than anything else, that I wanted you to be happy.

you once said that “you and me against the world” was our theme song and i liked that part at the end when the kid says “i love you, mommy”. when I close my eyes I still see the little me hugging all your clothes in your closet whenever you would leave me alone to go to work. and I would laugh when i recall myself crying in front of the electric fan while you sang Green Fields.

i don’t know if i ever said i loved you enough and it breaks my heart when i break yours with the things i say or do, but i hope you know that all my life i have tried my best to be someone who deserves all the sacrifices you have done for me.

today is your birthday in your time zone and I know you don’t celebrate such things but please know that I still wish the same thing that the younger me wished for you many years ago – happiness – no matter how elusive and difficult that choice seems to be.

I want to give you a hug right now but I only have words to fill this space between us. someday I will finally grow up to be someone you can be proud of and maybe all your dreams for me will finally come true, but until then please be happy everyday and send my love to Lola who gave the world the gift of you.


the cookie quest

My self confessed foodie friend (and who my mom always said would make everything taste great just by her endorsement) introduced me to The Cookie. It was just another Saturday spent strolling along the Bay Area and walking across the Golden Gate Bridge then dinner at the Cheesecake Factory when she said we should stop by Bristol Farms at Market street to try the (in)famous cookie. I’d have to say, it ruined all cookies for me and I wished I bought more to take back to Vancouver.

This time around, in between short hikes and long drives to Yosemite and Lake Tahoe, I decided (come hell or high water) that I’m going to take a dozen cookies back with me. Since I’m staying at Shing’s pad in San Jose, going to the cookie store means an hour and a half drive to Ria’s place in Millbrae then another hour ride at the ear splitting BART.

Ria said I should think real hard and make sure it’s worth it because it’s definitely out of the way. However, I already said my promises, so skipping the cookie was definitely out of the question.

Sometimes in life, it’s so easy to just blurt out words without thinking about the follow throughs. Often, people make empty vows and half meant jokes (like politicians these days) and then pass them out as nothing more than fairy tales and parables to fill up idle time.

I’m definitely not one of those people who spews out words without meaning. Words are sacred to me. I’m a sucker for a well written prose. I always try to mean what I say and say what I mean, and I do my best to keep my promises.

So yeah, I’m sure this isn’t the best cookie in the world, and it’s probably not healthy either, but then sometimes it’s not the actual thing that matters but rather the journey to get it.

This is surely one of those cookie stories that will go down in history.

flying towards the unknown

2015 started out hopeful as I still had a hangover from the volunteer activity in Ecuador and the side trip to Peru. The people I met there reminded me that I was working with the world’s most brilliant minds, making me feel like a kid walking among giants. It was both an enriching and humbling experience. They inspired me to achieve greater heights in my career, and I was duly recognized.

The rest of the year unfolded as it should, I immersed myself in family, work, friends, travel and hobbies while I grew roots and faded into mediocrity. It was predictable and safe, it was frighteningly comfortable, I was almost on the verge of contentment, and I would have stayed there if I could, but then life happened.

Life’s like that, it doesn’t prepare you for a denouement, it takes you up then slams you down, forcefully to the ground, without warning, and you are left clueless on what just happened, as you try to pick up your broken pieces and decide what you’ll do next.

Coelho said “don’t be someone that searches, finds, and then runs away”. When I decided to leave my comfort zone for good, it felt like I was running away.  I was not really looking for anything in particular but something found me, something that needed to be distilled by time to make it pure. So I chose distance to make me wiser, but I think Murakami may have been right, “distance might not solve anything, no matter how far you run”.

So here I am, thirty three days later and seven thousand miles away, I jumped off the cliff and I’m about to hit the ravine, but I’m still struggling to grow my wings.

I’ve got nothing on me save for an inked pen, a notebook and three minutes of your time, so here’s the one zillion simoleon question of a lifetime: will you come fly with me?


Dear Papa,

Happy birthday to you! Today you will be 61, I wonder where you are, are you celebrating with friends or family or just on your own looking out to the sea?

Once upon a time you were my superhero, my Santa Claus, my protector, the tallest and strongest and most handsome guy in the world, the man I look up to, the one who will read me bed time stories at night, sing Simon and Garfunkel to make me fall asleep, and sing “Mockingbird hill” to wake me up each morning. Once upon a time you taught me how to play chess and ping pong and bowling and billiards and poker until I learned to count Hershey’s kisses like chips that I can use to call, raise or go all in.

I remember we used to go on midnight drives to the gas station convenience store to buy chocolates or to Minute Burger to have a midnight snack. Life was so simple then, the house in Bulacan was like a distant dream that I used to visit every summer so Kuya and I can play Monopoly and hide and seek with our cousins.

Everything is so different now. I last saw you three years ago when we had dinner at Shakey’s, you told me about your life and where you’re headed then you asked me what my plans were. We talked like old friends and suddenly I missed the father who knew the answers to all the questions, the cure to all the pain, and the solutions to all the problems. There were so many things I wanted to ask you then but it looks like as we grow older we’ll just have to figure things out on our own.

Pa, I think I got my anger issues and running away genes from you. I try to keep it at bay and everyday is a chance for me to be better, but sometimes I just want to leave everything behind and go as far away as I can to a place where no one knows me. I think that’s where you are right now, did you ever find happiness there? Is it everything you had hoped it would be?

You once told me that when you grow old, you just want to go to the mountains and live a simple life among indigenous people then teach them crafts, I wanted to ask you “but what about me? what about us?”, but then you taught me not to be the clingy, needy, possessive type. Instead you showed me how to be strong, independent and unattached, like you.

Someday, maybe I will see you tuning a guitar and singing “Bookends” or sitting at an old cafe playing chess with a random stranger and talking about the history of the world.

Till then, I hope you are with people who love you and I hope they are taking good care of you, or since you don’t like that domesticated crap, I hope you are strong and healthy and still fighting with life.

Your daughter,


when worlds collide

Sometimes when you love someone, you want to give them the moon. Even though they probably wanted something totally different, like perhaps a flower, or a butterfly or maybe the sun.

Love blinds you, it makes you think that what’s good for you is good for the other person too, you fail to notice or refuse to accept that you actually value different things.

I’ve made this mistake a couple of times before. I’ve imposed my will on others because I thought that was what’s good for them. I was too caught up in my own reveries that I ignored what was in front of me, the telltale signs I didn’t see.

This is as vague as it gets, but this one’s for you. I’m sorry if I always beg for your time, if I always ask you to hang out with me, if I keep you away from what you’re supposed to be doing, if I don’t understand what’s important to you. I guess i just want to take enough of your memories with me to keep me company for all the days I will be spending without you, I know I’m being selfish.

I wish I knew how to deal with you better, but life didn’t give me a manual when you came into my world. I just guessed my way through it and sometimes it worked, but most of the times it didn’t.

I wish I could take away your pain, I wish I didn’t cause you any in the first place, but I was totally unprepared for you. If I could turn back time, I would do things differently, but time only moves forward, so I have to live with the consequences of my actions or inaction and I just have to make up for it.

I wish you didn’t have to build your walls, I wish we could talk like old friends who didn’t have any baggages, but as it is is, we have to figure this out and go through this together. I know you may want to go on your own way and leave me stranded, but I want you to remember this, even if this is the only thing you will remember from me:

I care for you deeply, although my words don’t always say it, and my actions don’t often reflect it, but I. Do. Care. For you. Deeply. I could lay down my life for you, you don’t even have to ask it.

So please be good while I’m gone, stay focused and keep chasing your dreams. Don’t let the world distract you from what’s real. Don’t stumble, but if you do, please rise up and wash the mud from your feet. Keep fighting the good fight. Don’t give up. I’m always cheering for you, no matter how far away from you I become.

I will always be proud of you.

And you probably already know this, but somehow writing it down makes it more real, I love you.


lost and found

This weekend is about finding things. But before I could find them, I had to lose them first.

Last night after I did my last minute hotel bookings, I couldn’t find my credit card. I remember placing it on the couch but then somehow between that and dinner, it disappeared. I have never really lost any material thing of value, but lately I’ve been misplacing items, forgetting stuff, losing track of time. So now I have a pile of tasks I need to do and none of them are getting done. I guess all these baggages weighing on me have taken a toll on my mind.

So back to the card, I searched high and low and finally stuck my hand in the sides of the couch then lo and behold – my brother’s missing brass retrakt from 8 months ago was there. It was all grimy and icky but still functional. So I took some lemon juice and baking soda (courtesy of wiki how and brilliant Mike) and proceeded to clean it. It didn’t come out shiny and there were still a few battle scars left but that would have to do for now. After all I was looking for a lost MasterCard not a brass ballpoint haha

After a few more negotiations with the couch, I finally found the missing card, it slipped into one of those hidden corners. Life is full of surprises, sometimes while we are in search of something we’ve lost, we come across something totally different that someone else has been looking for. I’m glad I was able to help my brother find his pen although I think he has already accepted it as gone. He doesn’t even want it anymore 🙂

Today I wanted to go up to the mountains before sunset so I can see the sky turn to pink. But because of my current state of mind, I somehow misplaced the car keys. I distinctly recall putting it inside my bag so I was at a loss when it wasn’t there. If it was a phone I could have called it, but the problem with keys is they don’t ring 🙂 After going up and down the house and burning 1000 calories, I found it on mom’s couch in her room. Now how did the keys walk there? Probably when I was changing clothes, or there’s an elf in the house, or I’m losing my mind haha any which way I’m glad I found it, although not where I expected it to be.

Maybe that’s how I should walk through life, open to finding things in the most unexpected places. And open to finding something totally different from what I was initially looking for.

I guess the lesson here is this, nothing is ever lost, nothing that can’t be found. If it can’t be found, then it’s not lost, it’s purposely hiding from you haha

Or just keep digging through couches, you don’t know what you’ll discover. 🙂


memory is such a fleeting thing or the search for an invisible pig

Today mom went to get her biometrics done at the local Comelec pop up booth so I am in charge of accompanying Lola at home. Everything was going well until she remembered that she lost her pig, somebody stole it, so we should get up and look for it. I told her that maybe they turned the pig into Lechon, this being the famous city of roasted pigs but she insisted that we go out and find it. And so we did.

Memory is such a fleeting thing, I wonder if someday I will reach 101 and look for lost pigs. How sad and confusing it must be to wake up to a future where the 101 year old me has lost a beloved pig and nobody is there to help me find it. I wonder if I will have grandchildren who will care for me and go on a quest with me or if I will be shipped to a facility with indifferent caregivers who don’t understand what it’s like to lose something they can’t see.

Today Lola and I are off to an adventure to find an invisible pig, and this will be one of best adventures I will always remember.