Quarantine Update 01: What has changed?

Two weeks have passed already for the Metro Manila quarantine. Today is the last day of March, and there are still hundreds of thousands of people all around the world who are fighting the epidemic. How exactly did we end up with this enhanced community quarantine (ECQ)? This happened due to the country’s response to the COVID-19 epidemic that has been a great concern globally.

A lot of people, including myself, are safe at home to observe social distancing – an action to help lessen the chances of spreading the virus. The initial epidemic turned into a global pandemic as assessed and declared by the World Health Organization (WHO). Amidst this situation, Filipinos here and in various countries are fighting together to overcome this global health emergency. Despite these events now, many people in quarantine are finding ways to stay positive. I also try my best to remember the blessings I receive every day.

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Keeping records

There are a lot of news coming in and out of various platforms, and as a means to cope with this situation, I find it a good use of time to edit some of my long forgotten videos. 😅

Amidst the global epidemic, there are a lot of memories in this lifetime that I would like to remember.

Care to check them out?

You can also check my other works in Instagram and Facebook. 😊

Mindless, Boundless

Why so serious? 
The veins in your hands keep tapping
Reminding you of daybreak
You pick a fork to cut them out
But, they keep fighting for life

Why so serious again?
Bothered by the sound of the wind
Reminding you of your own breathing
You block the windows with iron bars
But, the wind whistles through the gaps

Why, you ask again?
With open eyes, you see the sunrise
Reminding you of yesterday’s miseries
You pick a chair to stop the memories
But, you heard a knock, once and twice

Why are you smiling now?
A stranger’s voice passes through the wall
“Hello? Is anyone there?” 
You want to say hi
But, you could only tap the wall once
“Good. Let’s be friends for a while.”

Why smiling looks good now?
You kicked the chair to the side
Pressed your face to the wall
Listened to the wind from the gaps
Felt the tapping of your veins
Followed the rhythm of the other one’s breathing

Good. 
Count to three.
Why so serious?

Going Back to my Passion Part 1

Wala ka na bang ibang trabaho? (Don’t you have another job?)

That was a striking question that I received from my doctor last March 2019 when I went to have my check up because I had been having difficulties speaking. I thought then that it may just be a swollen throat as I had been speaking for hours on end due to my job. I really thought that I would only need a couple of days of medication and then I’d be fine. I wasn’t ready for that question of my doctor. It made me rethink of the various tasks I had at work. I love teaching, however, I had to ask myself if I should continue or not. This moment was definitely a heavy one for me as the first months of the year had me emotionally and mentally drained.

Roller-coaster of choices

Growing up, I had always thought of my mother’s work as interesting and fun. It was a job that seemed to have a lot of interesting activities as well as stories to tell every day. I truly enjoyed watching my mother prepare for her classes, not knowing how difficult that was. So, with that kind of background, I wanted to be a teacher as well.

However, as the years passed by, I met an aunt who graduated with a degree in accountancy. She lived with us for a couple of years, which had me thinking that I wanted to be like her. Then so during the latter years of my elementary, my dream profession changed.

A few more years and I entered high school where I had to be in the special science section. I had to learn various advance classes from mathematics, statistics, research, and the sciences. With that condition, I had to wake up at around 3:00 am, work on some last minute class homework, and prepare for my commute. I had to make sure that I arrive at school before 7:00 am and go home by 5:30 pm.

Yes, that schedule was my day-to-day routine, not including the travel time going to and coming from school plus the after hours group activities as well as weekend practices for other extracurricular ones. Where did I get my energy then? I think it was a wonderful decade of my childhood. 😀

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Step 3 in Retrieving my Lost Time – Jump

Have you ever experienced feeling anxious because you are in the middle of deciding the next step you wish to take in life? Was there ever a time when you couldn’t function because you are full of worries because of your mistakes?

Those moments happened to me, too often than I’d hope for, but I needed to face them. Even though, at their extremes, I couldn’t accomplish any tasks that I have in my list, I still try my best to calm down and refocus my view. After all, it is my decision to move forward to matter what the outcome would be like.

Relax and Accept

This year, I mostly depended on numerous TV series and shows that I could get my hands on whenever I turn on my phone. This became a deadly habit already for my productivity. This may not be the same thing with others who are experiencing tension or unproductive moments as we have different ways of procrastination. I think that it is important for us to accept the fact that we are currently in a state of slump.

I only recently realized that when I try to fight against my unproductive tendencies, the more drained I become. This is something that I fought my way against time. However, as I got used to the habit of procrastination, it is difficult to change my ways already. Honestly, it took me weeks to finish to blog post as I, not surprisingly, procrastinated.

It’s not because I have been lazy, instead, it is because I let worries become my constant companion. With those unsettling ideas accompanying me regularly, it sure is difficult to focus and be better in time. That is why it is important to accept the defeat at this stage so that I may be able to plan a good move for my next step.

Start the Move

After accepting the fact that I have not been doing well and findinng out the reason behind such, I need to start planning and working out steps to help me get back on track. It’s not going to be easy, but it is going to be worth the try. As I truly want to get myself back to a productive state with peace in my mind.

For this, I plan to do small steps that can start up my engine to do well. I slowly put in extra minutes in, well for one, writing this blog post. I may know that this post may not be that well written as before or as I wish it to be, this is a great way to find myself jumping back to my old state. It’s never going to be late to start something again. Something that I know will help me feel better and appreciate my purpose in life better than now.

Lettuce of Love

Red roses turn dark all over
Leaves fall on the grounds
Heavy footsteps approach
With the crisp break of dry leaves
It’s the season again of cleaning up
And making quick deals
To see the colors of red,
Blue, and purple all around

Pack all the songs of youth
For a strength unknown
Bring the lively drums
Of the beating heart of a child
For today is another day
Of lovemaking of gods
When one tells the other
To hide all the colors
Under a shirt or two
And keep the mystery of love

Step 2 in Retrieving my Lost Time – Grace

Start with grace and appreciation for even the smallest action. Just as I open my eyes, I need to give grace to the Lord. I must say my gratitude for giving me another day to live and to witness the wonders of life here on Earth. It may be difficult to get up at times, but I need to remind myself that the Lord still gave me another chance; to change or to find another reason to pursue an act that will make me want to continue living.

If money was not a concern, I would have chosen to write stories and become a professional writer. However, it might take me a few more years to jump into that road and work my way to achieving such a goal. I need to earn to provide for my family. It was not specifically asked by my parents, but as the eldest child in the family, I think that I need to do as much as possible as to help.

Filipino Mindset of Helping Out

Recently, I had been in a seemingly infinite cycle of worrying because of my current financial status. I felt drained both physically and emotionally that I couldn’t focus on accomplishing anything. I think that with almost a decade after attending university, I am in a limbo. This is further heightened by my own personal want of providing well for my family.

As the “Ate” (older sister) in the family, the first four years of my career were set to help out in financing my siblings’ college education. My parents didn’t ask me to provide for everyone. It was on my own decision that I opted to give a portion of my salary for them. Honestly, I didn’t earn that much, almost just a bit higher than minimum wage, but I felt contented. It was not later on, when I reached 25 that I suddenly felt that “Woah, wait. I need to look after myself. I am not getting any younger.”

That statement may seem exaggerated as my sister only started work at the age of 24, but thinking of the dreams that I set aside, yes, my circumstances now seem a bit worrisome. Nonetheless, I didn’t exactly mind it as I grabbed a job that seems to be a passion that I would truly be happy with – teaching.

Passion over Finances is not enough

Teaching was wonderful. I enjoyed engaging with my students, sharing experiences, and even being strict in class. However, this didn’t last long as I got burned out with financial worries. Don’t get me wrong, finances aren’t the only things that matter in life, I know. However, being able to have enough and provide properly for the family is a crucial factor in staying in a job. Also, having to carry a load that isn’t even part of my job description is somehow too much. Okay, let’s be honest; a teacher isn’t an eight to five job as there are a lot of in between scenarios to take care of during the entire school year. However, being asked to juggle too many tasks at the same time with some of which should have been shouldered by others, that is too much.

Also, compensation wise, it won’t make ends meet that easily. Though I am truly grateful for the experience as it also helped make me more mature and more responsible in the way that I handle events in my life. I think that I need to find a way to help me meet this passion of mine. First by completing the required units to take the licensure examination (credentials and titles are still such a big thing in the Philippine setting; understandable as we are supposed to be professional). Then to pass the board.

For now, I am just grateful to the Lord for all the realizations that I have had for the past months. I have to be committed to seeing this through no matter how difficult or how long it may take.

Prism

As tiny bits of red petals fill the empty jars

The air fills up with the stench of yesterday’s death

With the crowd quickly crowding above the town

Children start going out of their little boxes

Pushing their way up the slopes of deserted land

They step cautiously with their mouths shut

Their tiny feet soak with the blackish mud

They scan the place left in the aftermath

As one by one they see familiar colors of the past

They rush with quiet steps towards the pile

A glimmer of blue, yellow, and blue pop up

Yet they are all touched by the red spots

Others got a bit darker now after the first blow

But the children didn’t know as they poked the colors

“Mama?,” one of the little children said

“Papa?,” the others call from the far left

Step 1 in Retrieving my Lost Time – Devotionals

In the previous post, I talked about my disappointment whenever I’d felt that I wasted my day. In my decision to get back my time, I wish to take the first step in that, hopefully, long-term commitment. I will start with my daily devotionals.

I have done this for an entire year last 2018 and almost got through the half of 2019. However, a stumbled a couple of months in the year and lost the drive to do anything. This was when I physically, emotionally, and mentally got drained to a point of a breakdown. I almost tried seeking professional support, though I didn’t get a chance to do so. But, no worries, I still do plan to take that step later on. I am simply taking this change, one step at a time. Perhaps, if you know any local (PH) venues where I can have free or with minimal charge, psychological assistance, I’d greatly appreciate it when you share it with me.

Morning Routine

With my new work schedule, I arrive home close to midnight already. I’d only have enough energy to wash my face, fix myself for bed, and doze off right away. In spite of that, I plan to take back my morning routine or set a new early morning habit that I can stick with. I think this is a good way to make sure that I have a system that can help get me back up into feeling and doing better than I have been for the past three to four months.

I plan to get up before 8:00 AM and make sure to devout it in prayer and my bible reading plans. Right now, I am using YouVersion and it has been really helpful in making me prepare for the day ahead. There are numerous plans that are suitable for various concerns: fear, purpose, happiness, and more. It has never been a bad move to thank God for another day in my life as well as the chance to find new meaning in the events that are happening around me.

Commitment

This kind of change is not that easy to see through the end, especially with little motivation or proper guidance. The good thing is that even before starting, I already accepted the fact that there will be struggles or trials along the way. That surely is a great thing to settle in my mind to make me see a better way to make this fresh commitment work. But, I think I will also share this one great song to help put this new task in perspective – Best News Ever by MercyMe to help me end this reflection for today. This is also a great reminder on how I can commit to this new step in my life.

Getting Back my Time

Have you ever felt like you needed more time in a day? Maybe, you have felt that at the end of the two dozens of hours, everything you did with your time was not that productive at all. Well, if you never felt this way, I am happy for you and how I wish that you may be able to share that with me.

On my part, I have had a lot of those moments when I simply couldn’t believe that more than 18 hours of my day went down the drain of unproductiveness. I felt disappointed with myself because after all, it was my own decision and action that led me to not do anything worth my time. Of course, there was once that time when I had never gotten tired of filling my schedule with tasks. It seemed that I always had the energy for various activities in one day that end, I felt fulfilled and satisfied with the way I used my hours. But gradually, as I got older, I slowly forgot about that drive.

Lost Focus

I got too focused with work that whenever I have a free time, I’d rather sleep or use my phone. I think that I got too attached to my device that I also skipped my usual habit of reading. I lost the motivation to continue with my passion projects as well. I built a mindset that I have exerted a lot of energy to work and that I simply deserve a relaxing time; idly tinkering with my phone or watching loads of hours of TV series/dramas. Then when the sun went down, I’d crawl with a burden of disappointment as I wasted my day that didn’t help in leading me closer to any of my life goals. Though, arguably, I was able to rest, but was the stress after it worth the random acts of fulfillment? Not so sure about that.

With that in my memory, I have to make sure that I move back to finding a better focus. Each of us will have a different priorities in our lives as we have distinct paths in reaching whatever we find as worthwhile life goals. In the years after graduating from the university, my priorities changed. My understanding of categorizing various events as well as tasks into priorities leaned closer to my family. My dreams changed as well. They aren’t as far-fetched as when I was younger; I became more realistic. This kind of experience both had it’s pros and cons.

There were days that somehow, I felt that days won’t be any better. The days just seemed to become a routine. Luckily, with my job, teaching students brought a lot of delight (as well as headaches). It was not easy, but I found the fulfillment. Until one day, I got too burned out. I realized that it was important to have a balance with work and rest. I also needed proper guidance for me to continue with doing work well.

I may be capable of doing my task properly with less guidance, but it would always have been better if there is a mentor who could share insights. I, after all, am an individual who wished to perform still better than what I do in the present. Moreover, I learned that being with the right set of people could affect my actions.

I learned to let go of my worries. I started facing my fears – the worry that I may not be doing well, emotionally, physically, and even mentally. I needed a redirection for my heart to be well. This is when I went back to God.

Initially, there was denial as I was not confident in facing the Lord again with the fear of rejection. But, I went back to the encounter I had long before when I received Him and then I remembered that I shouldn’t be afraid. This is when I realize that I need to make new commitments to help me stand up from the slump that I put myself in for the past year.

Commitment

There were days when I still struggle, but with a few more little steps to make, I hope that I could do better and retrieve my time. I may have wasted hours simply being lazy or doing random things that I thought would help me get better. Now, I wish to make a few commitments to let me start refocusing my goals to a life worth living – to a life where God is leading.

  1. Devout a quiet time with God – this should be on the top of my list. Not everyone may agree with me, but this is where I can get strength. Having to start a commitment with anything, without proper guidance would definitely double the difficulty. I have learned that with my faith in the Lord, I gain strength to face many trials. I may not be enough, but God is more than enough.
  2. Learn a new skill – it’s not that easy, but I hope to start getting my time back by changing my focus to something that can help me get better in the future. I may not be that young, and learning a new set of skills may take longer, but it’s worth a try. I personally would like to start learning any of these skills: a new language, swimming (as I am still very much afraid of deep water), and driving (yes, I still don’t know how to drive at this age).
  3. Keep up with an exercise routine – I’m not getting any much stronger and younger each day. I need to begin looking after myself, which includes taking care of my health. I do, honestly, slowly feel the drag of muscle pain as I work on a few exercise movements. This is something that I know I should have started much earlier. 😉 Also, this is an act that lets me take care of the body the Lord has lent me. After all, I need to stay strong to fulfill the plans He has for me.
  4. Go back to creating small passion projects – I have left some of my childhood dreams behind thinking that I would never be able to do them any justice at this age. But, I also learned that doing so won’t help me in any way, reaching a better appreciation of my life. I like reading stories and creating some of my own ones. Perhaps, I need to start doing so and sharing them to people who may wish to also read new stories that can help them ignite the flame of passion in their hearts.

Let’s see how these will end and I hope that I would find the strength to begin them now.