Revisiting My Old Self

Have you ever had a moment when you wanted to look back to your own self? Perhaps, to see how you were then and find another way to make sense of all your decisions and experiences. In my case, as I get older, I think I become more sentimental and so I pick up on some of my old works. Whether it is an unfinished story or a forgotten stanza, all of them help me remember the experiences I once had, and even the heart breaks I had to endure.

For this week, here are some of the collections I tried to complete in the past five years, yet until now, they seem lacking with bits and pieces of the emotions and the memories I would have wanted to keep. If you have the time, you may check them out in my tablo page. Hope you like reading them. ❤

Limbo is a collection of poems that I have started, I guess, about four or five years ago. I am not that confident when it comes to writing poetry (I learned this the hard way during my univ days). However, I find writing poetry a relaxing and refreshing experience. I get to challenge myself and learn a thing or two about new concepts. I know that I still have a long way to go, yet that exact thought keeps bringing me back to the process.

I hope that I would be able to do another collection where I can already present a more refined set of techniques while keeping the content close to heart, still. There may be a long way to go from here, but I am hoping for the best.

Now, for the second one (Pagkakataon, Talon!), this is a collection of my writing exercises and writing submissions from my university days. Upon revisiting my works during that time, I can say that I miss my younger self. The one who was brave enough to try sharing her own cluttered thoughts through writing raw ideas into her submission. How I miss that carefree self of mine who was so focused on her craft. What happened years after that? Hmm, perhaps, that is where the last collection comes in.

This last one, Working Girl Conversations, started as just a space where I could share my overflowing worries and exhaustion as a person gradually finding her space as part of the work force. Not exactly sure if the written pieces here truly justifies my experiences, but they do bring back those moments of uncertainty and near-crying concerns of my twenty-something self. Also, the title was made when I wanted to have the book as a passion project with my closest friends. However, sadly, I never really got into planning and executing that process with them. Maybe this year I can find time and focus on completing this collection.

My Escape, My Comfort

There were no books in reach as I was growing up. I did not come from a family of readers. However, this reality did not hinder my complex journey with reading. Through the years, I was able to finally identify the various activities and content that bring me comfort.

Stories, Cartoons, and Films

As a toddler, I was first exposed to various television shows. It was in the mid-90s and we did not have cable then. So, I learned to enjoy different Tagalized cartoons, from Princess Sarah, Cedie: Ang Munting Prinsipe, Heidi, Daddy Long Legs, and even Doraemon. Those were only a fraction of the extensive list of TV shows I spent a lot of my mornings with. My parents were both working then and they were not familiar yet with the immense task required for parenthood. After all, I was their first child. To their surprise, I was a quiet and obedient child who would stay still once the TV was turned on. Yes, as I heard stories from my parents, they were happy that I was a child who would not cry when they were gone but instead follow the instructions they gave me. “Papa will go out for a while and pick up Mama. Oh, you watch this first.” Then lo and behold, when they got back home, I was still focused on the TV show I was watching.

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Sunday Playlists

As I open my eyes to a new morning, music is my go-to companion to set the mood for the rest of the day. I would like to share with you some of the playlists that I usually listen to as part of my daily routine. Perhaps, I can also share other playlists here when I work. Others may be surprised with the different songs here, nonetheless, there is not harm in trying out something new and explore songs that can help us better view the events in our day-to-day lives. ❤

If you would observe both of the playlists I have in this post are from the selected Spotify-made ones. As I do not usually listen to more modern music, I appreciate the convenience of picking on some of the pre-selected songs by this application. It has been a wonderful experience discovering new sets of worship songs that I have not heard of before. Also, as these playlists are regularly updated automatically, that was a sure bonus.

This next playlist may seem odd as I am not fluent in Japanese, however, as I would like to learn this language, I have gradually added Japanese songs to my daily listening picks. I still have yet to fully understand the lyrics yet as some are familiar worship music to me, I am still able to enjoy the entire moment of listening to each one.

Abril: Isa pang pagkakataon

Dati-rati sa loob lamang ng ilang oraas ay nakasusulat na ako ng isang buong akda, mapa tula, maikling kuwento o kahit pa nga dula. Iyon ba ay dahil sa malawak at malaya kong kaisipan noong ako’y mas bata pa? O dahil sa pangangailangang dala ng mga markang kaakibat ng mga akda?

Sa paglipas ng panahon, lalo lamang dumadalang ang aking pagbisita sa makulay na mundo ng mga iba’t ibang sanaysay. Tila naging walang kamatayang litanya ko na ang mga katagang “Pagod ako,” “Mas kailangan ko magtrabaho,” o “May bukas pa naman para sa pagsusulat.” Ang malungkot pa sa lahat ay minsan nakikinig ako sa bulong na mula sa aking konsensya na nagsasabing, Wala kang karapatang magsulat dahil wala rin namang makabuluhan o malalim na mensahe ang mga salitang gusto mong ibahagi. At dahil sa mga ganitong sunud-sunod na pagkakataon ay mas naging madalang na rin ang aking pagbuklat ng mga aklat na maaari sanang magdala muli sa akin pabalik sa nakalipas na mga taon.

Hirap akong umupo at makipagtalastasan sa akdang binabasa dahil tila hinila na ako ng bigat ng araw-araw na pagkayod sa trabahong nagbibigay sa akin ng kakayahang mamuhay na busog ang tiyan at may bubong sa aking bunbunan. Ang mga salita ko tuloy ngayon ay lipas na rin sa panahon. Ang pusong dati’y matapang na nakikipagbuno sa mga tauhan at eksenang dala ng aking imahinasyon at mga pangarap, ay ngayo’y napupuno ng mga alalahanin ng realidad na dala ng pagtanda. Mas nakatatakot pa sa pinakamadilim na yugto ng isang kuwentong kababalaghan ang naging bunga ng aking pagtalikod sa ideyang itinago ko na lamang sa kaibuturan ng aking kaisipan. Ngayon ang bolpen ko’y natuyo na sa kakulangan ng kaalaman upang mas makapagbahagi ng mga karanasang kakatok sa isipan at puso ng mga mambabasa. Nawalan na rin ang bolpen ko ng kakayahang magsimula ng ilang katagang magpapahiwatag ng anyayang pakikihalubilo sana sa mga pangarap ng aking mambabasa. Ngayon, tila tanging ang araw-araw na pagdilat sa umaga at pagharap sa blankong pahina ang namamayani sa ilan pang taong daraan. Ngunit ngayon ay bibigyan ko muna ng isang saglit na paggunito sa sulat na ito ang aking kabataang nais magpaalam. Kahit pa nangingilid ang luha, paumanhin muna at magkakalat ako ng ilan sa aking mga akdang naluma na sa loob ng aking mga kuwaderno. Sa loob ng mga susunod na linggo, bibigyan ko sila ng buhay sa loob ng mundo ng internet para sana, kahit isa, ay may makabasa sa kanila.

My Worst Enemy: Myself

The touch of the wind changes through the different seasons. The wind brings delight to those looking forward to the sweet scent of the summer breeze. Others, however, begin trembling as they await the massive gushes of the monsoon time. Are these distinct emotions we feel as we witness the seasons change, something so familiar that we see our lives sway with the wind as well? However, with a closer look, all the emotions are manifestations of our thoughts and worries. The wind simply signals the beginning of the season, but it is us who make use of it, run away from it, or merely ignore those warnings.

As we walk outside our house, there is an unseen threat that has been a concern for millions of people around the globe. We stayed quarantined for more than a year now, yet there has been no certainty that the global pandemic is under control. We simply need to live again and move to the “new normal.” Does this mean that we are safe as long as we follow procedures? Most likely, but it is not a certainty. Dozens of questions flood our minds; tens more come in the form of hopeful sighs. During this time, I think we look at ourselves too closely or too loosely to face challenges rationally. 

With a week of Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) again in the region, has anything changed? Or are we back to square one? The memories of 2020 have yet to be erased from our minds. However, it seems like those memories are simply kept for record-keeping but not a helpful moment for learning any meaningful insights. Now, the pain is getting nearer to home. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought forth the reality that has been with us for a couple of decades already, yet we ignored them for our own comfort. Now, the values that we have mean the most. Yet, those values do not seem to manifest in our decisions, actions, and even wishes for the future. We are living within the storyline of the scariest sci-fi movie we have watched – we have to face reality. However, as I look into the virtual communities, many of us have been running away from the massive extent of the pandemic. Many have dismissed our government’s underlying problems, our communities’ worries, and our people’s living as a whole.

The struggles are becoming too much for individual people to handle. There have been beautiful hearts and generous individuals who have had no more left to give. Even the thought of sharing their time seems too exhausting, as no definite change is seen. At a moment like this, perhaps we can look at ourselves and be critical of our thinking, decision-making, and even aspirations of helping. Maybe once we see our worst enemy in ourselves, we can become the heroes we needed to see in the present reality. Perhaps then we can also look into the environment we live in and realize that there is still hope. We are people who can make it, but not simply because of our so-called resilience, but more so because it is the proper action to take, and we have finally realized its importance. My voice may be weak right now, yet I also carry a load of worry and pain, but I am willing to listen. I am eager to understand the complex emotions that have been bothering me for the past year. 

I know that it is easier to simply dissociate myself from all of the events happening beyond my immediate social, economic, and even communal circle. However, as the rest of the Filipinos continue to face the pandemic’s harsh hits, I could see that my circle would soon be affected. Honestly, I may have only been too afraid to confess the effects of this global concern to my own experiences even though I know that it has hit so hard already. I need to take the small steps to finally manage my own response to the country’s worries and troubles and the region I live in to find comfort and bring forth new aspirations. After all, the months change, but the wind simply signals the beginning of the season, but it is us who make use of it, run away from it, or merely ignore those warnings. 

The hopeful glimmer in my eyes
Just turned to blurry crystal ice
As I head a resounding crack
That signals them to an attack

Unfamiliar greetings I see
Shatter walls inside so slowly
As a child I hid long inside
Finally awakes, who then decides

To break from the family’s care

Yet as the child screams within me
Knowing I cannot let this be
Only a few, new words came out
That showed my entire self-doubt

Gushes of wind pierced through the air
As dusty old sprouts came to bear
Witness to this horrible tale
Of a crybaby doomed to fail

Whose only living for today

The family knows and pretends
After all, it is their own tale
Made from all the random ramblings
Of lies, truth, hope, and prophecy

Whys and What ifs

Why is it that every time I try to start a new day with a positive mindset, I get pulled by the painful grips of reality that I have been living a routine life? There are a lot of supposedly interesting activities out there that are available for me to enjoy. However, I am left with the feeling of unfamiliarity, which is somehow leaning towards fear. Why is it scary to try something for the first time? Why am I not as curious as I once was, or was I always like this growing up?

During the wee hours of the morning, my heartbeat is the loudest sound I hear. I remember being a young girl who was so afraid of the unseen creatures lingering in the dark, so I shut my eyes so tightly while covering myself with my blanket. I was scared of the dark and its creatures, but why was I willing to have my eyes shut and find comfort in the view of my darkness? Was it because it was my choice, and I thought that I have the control then?

Whispers, footsteps, voices of people on the street, all of those become scary in the dark. But, why so?

There sure are a lot of questions in my mind that I have decided to set aside. They are still there, sitting in a corner, pushed back by so many worries, events, and concerns of my so-called reality. However, now, how I long to attend to them once more. Share my new experiences with them as I try to make sense of their existence. How I wish I could still bring back that young, innocent self so I can bring life to the creatures in the dark. I hope to get myself back from this slump and finally weave words, scenarios, dialogues, and even random mischiefs of my friends in the dark. The friends I learned to live when even when I was a child. The images of creatures that live in my imagination perhaps had the most vivid stories that could help others understand the mysteries of the mind and our senses—the sweet and subtle recollection of fear yet maturity. 

Years pass, yet time seems to be shorter as I grow older. Is this brought by the piling up thoughts brought about by the so-called adulthood? As I experience life’s daily offerings, my memories of past events increasingly become blurry at times. These moments bring a sudden jolt to my heart that pierces so violently that it brings tears to my eyes. However, even if this has now become my present, I still have hope that I am clinging to so I could continue. A promise that tomorrow is another chance to enjoy what I have at the moment. An opportunity to still share another new memory with my loved ones. There may even be many lingering questions of whys and what-ifs. However, I am trying my best not to let the past dictate my decisions. I chose to relearn the practice of living at the moment gradually. I would love to share my ideas with the ones who are willing to be with me. I would love to continue learning more about myself and the possibilities within my reach. I know that it would not be an easy task to accomplish, yet I am willing to leap. I cannot bring the past back; however, I can use the learning experiences to build the self I would like to see. There may still be new sets of whys and what-ifs along the way, but it is good that I now know the need to face them. That there is also a need to let go when it is time.

A Place of Silence: A Space for Personal Growth

Time flies fast these days that there are moments when I feel like I am being left behind. Not in terms of all the monetary advancements in life, however, it seems that somehow I am being dragged by time as I simply live each day as a routine. This kind of thinking is not helpful in keeping me motivated in those events when I need it the most. However, I still try to pick myself up and do better, somehow.

At this age, I realized that I have let in to many distractions in my life that it is so easy to lose track of my actual goals and dreams. My days fill with screaming thoughts of worry, uncertainty, and self-doubt. Those ideas have occupied a big chunk inside of my mind and are gradually moving towards my heart. It is difficult to describe how each of those slither through the cracks of my being. It took me a long while before I am able to make progress in finally facing those dark, lingering thoughts.

Now, there may not be concrete items to check on my list, yet each new step I make that is different from yesterday seems to bring a spark of joy in my heart. With this kind of mindset, I do not feel the pressure and the worries that I once had. My days feel more secure. I think that this is because out of all the plans I could have made and those tasks that I have procrastinated on, there is one on my to-do list that I have gradually picked up on and have kept constant in my routine. This new habit is my daily devotionals. There is a sense of peace that I find in my quiet time with the Lord. There are a number of realizations that struck me through this new process that I am trying to place in my system. For instance, this particular statement made me pick myself up again after feeling so down for a couple of days:

Some difficulties are clearly of our own making. For these we need to assume personal responsibility by working towards their resolution.

Charles Ringma, 1995 (Dare to Journey with Henry Nouwen, Reflection 65 Mobilising our Pain)
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Learning a New Language: How difficult could it be?

It is a new year, I may still be having some difficulties in picking my messed up routine caused by my bad procrastinating habit. Nonetheless, it is the right time to refocus my living energy into something that may help me later and, perhaps, keep my brain working. Among all the possible tasks that I could think of, I am gravitating towards learning a new language. I know that now, I am not in the best position to transition to another foreign language as my native tongue is somehow also pushed back to the sideline. I have not been able to use Filipino consistently in both oral and written forms. However, I think, even with this kind of situation, I could still get back to using my vernacular once I pick up on it later on. Now, I would like to further work my brain cells up by exposing myself to Japanese.

なぜ日本語を勉強するのですか?

The heading for this was just from Google translate. 😀 However, it is true that I started learning Japanese. But why this, exactly? Others might be thinking that a European language would be a lot easier, specifically Spanish. Why do I think so? There are already many Spanish terms and expressions in my native language, Filipino (to which I can only use Tagalog).

Well, I am unsure of the exact reason behind this choice. However, I think it is because I somehow already have a background in the Japanese language. I once was a lost sheep during my university days, where I needed to take up a foreign language course under our program. So, among the three available languages (Spanish, French, and Japanese), I thought that it would be more interesting to learn another Asian language. I did not expect that it would be an extra challenging experience, especially with only one professor teaching it. This situation meant being in a relatively large class with fewer interactions to use Japanese. Still, luckily, I survived and passed Jap 1 and Jap 2.

My undergraduate experience still has an impact on my interest in the language now. When I started working, I was not able to immerse myself in learning Japanese further. I still have some of the basics in my mind, like the hiragana and some common expressions/greetings. I am still struggling with remembering katakana. 😛

Last October, I enrolled in a beginner Japanese class that only had 30 hours’ worth of class time. It was a great experience as I was able to refresh my mind with the Japanese words and expressions that I encountered as an undergraduate. However, it was still a new experience as there is a lot that I do not remember anymore.

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Another Year for My Struggles in Writing and Life Continues

Waves of various height and strength punch me straight to the face whenever I try to jump away from my current position in life. Most of the time, the challenging waves are a mix of my worries, insecurities, uncertainties, indecisiveness, and many other negative thoughts fueled by the scared kid in my head. There have been numerous attempts to escape this destructive cycle. However, in all of my living moments, I still feel that I am lacking. Honestly, I think at the top of all these is my gradual fall to unproductiveness. I get sucked in the tedious habit of procrastination brought by the uncontrollable use of my mobile phone. What exactly brought me to this kind of escapist route?

Nearing the End of Another Decade (or about to start?)

The beginning of 2020 is the start of a new decade that was supposedly offering new opportunities for everyone to start afresh. Everything had been extra difficult, however, due to the spread of the COVID-19 in 2020. The unexpected turn of events last year made me reflect on the priorities that I must have in life. The situation also brought in many new concerns, which, I guess, needed to find an outlet to stay sane throughout the entire ordeal. In my case, I am grateful for work as I still had a seemingly normal system going on. The work-from-home setup was initially ideal though it took a toll after a couple of weeks of being or needing to be available any time of the day and the week.

As 2020 passed by seemingly quickly due to the limited routine that we had as cities quarantined for months, I was also pressed by the numerous happenings around my social environment. A lot of acquaintances got engaged, got married, and had babies. Those events brought good memories, somehow. However, 2020 also brought heartaches as close family friends died, and my small number of close friends got even smaller. There were days when I felt sad as I could not easily reach out to my closest friends. I think my introversion got more active during those times. Luckily, I had to endure those months of quarantine with my family. I could not imagine the feeling of those who had to be on their own during these trying times.

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