Today, I Turn Twenty-four

My Symphonies: Home / Day Wave

Wasting Time / Day Wave

Semi-rocking the guybun in 2016 (*Not a recent photo, thank god!).

So today, I turn twenty-four. 

I remember typing out almost the exact same words back in May 2013, when I wrote Today, I Turn Twenty. This time is different, though. When I turned 20, I felt a lot of uncertainty and discomfort towards aging. In fact, I used to be a self-proclaimed ageist. The mere thought of being a year older always made me feel nauseous and quite anxious. Every year, when I “celebrated” my birthday, I would always try to hide how upset I was with the fact that humans have to naturally age. I hated the concept of getting old.

But this year is different. For the first time, I actually feel very at peace with turning a year older. And not just that; I also feel very at peace with the fact that every year, everything and everyone else turns a year older. It is finally safe to say that I have come to terms with the way the world works – Things and people age; there’s nothing we can do about it.

I am writing today not just because it’s my birthday, but also because I want to acknowledge change. Change, who comes when it’s time for it to come. Change, who is the master of beauty and tragedy. Change, who is the initiator of bliss and chaos. And Change, who so effortlessly comes with aging.

When I think of my life from the beginning leading up to this point, I see it in chapters. And what’s great about chapters is that they tell us that apart from the end and the beginning of every book, there are tiny little ends and beginnings in between. And these little ends and little beginnings create something beautiful – something worth reading, worth telling and worth living. This has been my life:

The Childhood Years, when I first learned to take life one step at a time (literally); when I played in playgrounds and scratched my knee like every kid did; when I looked at grown-ups around me and wondered if I, one day, was also gonna be as big and as complex and as successful as they were; when life was a never-ending cycle of naps, tantrums, school, lunch boxes and Cartoon Network…

The High School Years, when I tackled so many things for the first time without much knowledge about life and the world I lived in; when I fell in love for the first time, got my heart broken for the first time, failed an exam for the first time, topped the class in something for the first time, made great friends and mortal enemies for the first time, and played in the field of teenage angst, romance, betrayal and overall drama for the first time; The High School Years was that one chapter that gave the first definite shape of my personality…

The University of the Philippines Years, which gets a special chapter due to the silent but steady impact it had on me. This chapter was when I learned that I can handle change (a major change) for the first time. I learned that simplicity doesn’t have to mean boring, and that modesty doesn’t have to mean defeat. I learned to take matters into my own hands, stand up for myself and carry on through the tough days without having to cry for help. This chapter was when I started to really genuinely appreciate sunsets, deep meaningful conversations and the importance of getting to know people outside of my shiny little bubble…

The Great Move, the chapter that tells of my move to Canada with my family. This, more than anything by far, has been the greatest teacher. This chapter was when I found myself in a world so different from where I grew up in. I learned so many things about other cultures especially when I was in Vancouver Film School. I learned so much about the sad realities of life, and how we all have a choice to bounce back from them. This was the chapter when I went through depression triggered by an unrequited love, and later on realized it was all just a lack of love for myself. I would say that without this chapter, I wouldn’t have been able to handle the next…

The Dark Ages, was a chapter that started out so magnificent, and so daring, and so adventure-filled and exciting. But I give it its chapter title due to the overall draining energy that surrounded it from the beginning, and more so towards the end. I fell in love with a guy that was ready to give me the world, but wasn’t ready to love me for who I am. I experienced physical abuse, verbal violence and worst of all, emotional manipulation. I learned that love isn’t enough – a relationship has to have friendship, compromises, acceptance and most importantly, respect. I learned that I am resilient, and that no matter what life was gonna throw my way after this chapter, I can absolutely handle it…

The Renaissance, cheesy, I know, but whoever said “There is light at the end of the tunnel” is hands down a genius. It’s true! Now I find myself in a place happier and brighter than anywhere I have ever been. I can definitely say that I am right where I am supposed to be in life right now, feeling exactly what I am supposed to be feeling at the moment, and being with the people whom I am most precisely supposed to be with at this chapter in my life. I am grateful for the genuine love I’ve found, blissful for the friends and family I have been blessed with, and ecstatic to take on the coming months and years of this journey called life…

I look at where I am today, and I realize that I should be happy about turning a year older. Turning a year older means I am still alive right now. I can still do whatever I want to do with my life, and go places, see new things, meet new people. Turning a year older means I have survived all the years before this; that I have embraced change time and time again, and that I have triumphed over obstacles and challenges that went my way.

Chapters. That word is subtly synonymous to “hope”, to “life”, to “change”. And today, I would like to celebrate turning a year older by thanking everyone in my life (literally EVERYONE, including those who are no longer a part of it in the present) for making me who and what I am today.

Because, girl, I’m slaying. ❤ ❤ ❤

The Boy Who Cried “Let’s Hang Out!”

My Symphony: Something Here / Day Wave

Growing up is strange in that the people you used to hang out with everyday begin to gradually but steadily diminish into faces without names, and names without faces. Hours of deep, meaningful conversations at the football field have turned into minuscule scroll-down glimpses on Facebook. Countless heart-to-hearts have deteriorated into the most casual of “what’s up’s” and “hello’s”.

Who are we? Or, I guess, the more appropriate and less ambitious question is, who were we?

We were once kids, who (without doubts or hesitation) would knock on each other’s doors at two in the morning just because. We were once kids, who unconsciously spent more time with each other than with anyone else, on a daily basis. We were kids who drank their first beers together, smoked their first cigarettes together, and lived through their first heartaches and heartbreaks together.

Perhaps friendships are just naturally more challenging as we age. Back in high school, everything was just easy. We were in the same school, in the same classes, liking the same things, sharing the same goals (mostly consisted of passing Physics and submitting our Research papers on time). Some were even living on the same street, talking about the same trends, listening to the same music. ‘Follow’ meant literally following each other around school during lunch, recess and dismissal, ‘Like’ literally meant liking each other for and despite all his/her flaws and imperfection. ‘Friends’ literally meant people you cry with one second and laugh with the next. Life was a series of sleepovers, unplanned Saturday afternoons at the mall, secrets involving crushes and mortal enemies, and the usual horsing around over fishballs and ice crumbles.

But growing up has changed all of that. Hanging out is now a super-conscious decision you have to make. You don’t just happen to be in the same vicinity with your friends all the time. A mere meet-up for coffee takes a lot of scheduling, rescheduling and compromising. Nothing is as easy as it was. Now, you actually have to really want to see someone in order for you to afford the time and energy (and sometimes money) that it takes to meet with someone.

And this is exactly why friendships in this stage of our lives are the most important: these are now the friendships we choose to have, the friendships we choose to keep; the relationships we decide are gonna progress and develop into something larger and realer as the years go by. We no longer share our deepest darkest secrets to just everyone in our circle, and in the rare event that we have a sleepover, it isn’t just high school buddies passing time anymore; it’s like-minded souls mutually sharing in each other’s worlds, exchanging thoughts and ideas, basking in the light and warmth of a presence which, although rarely present, will always be genuine. We stopped being kids hanging out, and started becoming human beings connecting.

I love you, dear friends.

P.S. Let’s not be strangers…

Being Flawless Is Easy; Being Raw and Real Is Not

img_3843

Maybe the largest measurement of maturity in the context of romantic relationships is the levels at which you find yourself just being vulnerable around someone. It’s when you let your guard down and just be real with them.

I used to always make sure I looked my best whenever I went on dates. Is my hair sleek and perfectly in place? Are my shoes thoroughly polished? Is my leather wallet wiped spotless? Have I sprayed enough perfume so that my date can smell me from five miles away?

Yep. Small things like that were a huge deal to me. And even though I am in no way declaring that I nowadays go around town in my pj’s smelling like a homeless person on crack, I am, to a great degree, more myself around people than I ever was. Being flawless is easy; it’s being raw and real that’s a challenge – especially in this physical, materialistic modern world that we live in.

The reality is, when it’s real, no amount of physical imperfection actually matters. This sounds so cheesy and overdramatic to an extent, but it’s true!

In the film Juno, there’s a wonderful quote we can all be really inspired with:

 Look, in my opinion, the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you, the right person is still going to think the sun shines out your ass. That’s the kind of person that’s worth sticking with.

Seriously, though. I’m telling you, based on experience, the right person really does think you’re the best even on your not-so-good days. And he/she will probably always think that way. Isn’t that just lovely?…

The 10 Most Successful Men On Earth

15879364_1389416697748709_2139596238_n

Photo credit: Dwin Formaran | IG: @thedwinformaran

When we think of success, we often think of larger, wider, brighter things that are constantly seemingly out of reach. We envision stack after stack of dollar bills, glossy skyscrapers, mansions with heated pools, hundreds of paparazzi and a seven-digit pool of Instagram followers. More and more, the ways in which we measure success have been close to society’s norms but far from the truth. We have been blindly programmed to keep on dreaming with our eyes instead of dreaming with our hearts. And aren’t dreams an occurrence that takes place after we close our eyes, anyways?

If you Google “The most successful man on earth”, the first result will be a bulleted enumeration of names that are familiar to almost everyone: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson and Walt Disney. Below you will find a link that invites you to see more of the article from which the enumeration was taken from. You will then be redirected to a page where you will see a larger list of people with their full names, their birth-death years and a brief description of their achievements, all cataloged under the area of industry or expertise they are/were best known for.

Now, don’t get me wrong; these people are undeniably notable, and they have achieved and invented a lot of things which have helped the world and a lot of people in many ways. This isn’t a hate mail addressed to them. They do deserve recognition, and they do deserve applause. But where it becomes worrisome is when we live our lives with the superconscious attempt to achieve as much as they have achieved, or to get as close as we can get to wherever they got to. Where it becomes ugly is when we start to view success as something that we need to work really, really hard for — when we begin to spend our days feeling somehow empty and defeated just because we do not look anything like Mark Zuckerberg’s chequing account or Kylie Jenner’s Snapchat stories.

Life is not a race, and it is definitely not a contest. Sometimes, the small things are actually the big ones, and the best things in life aren’t even things. So if you think you are not successful, have a look at this rather unorthodox list of the ten most successful men on earth…

15909811_1389428151080897_1874216046_n

Photo credit: Alfred Marcial | IG: @alfredmarcial

  1. The Man Who Has Loved

It is one of the oldest stories in the world, and probably too old that it has transformed into a succinct cliche: “Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”. It’s true! If you, at any point in your existence in this world, have felt that warm, cozy, almost-indescribable feeling in your chest when you look at someone deeply in the eyes, then consider yourself not just lucky, but successful. When we were younger, fairytales and rom-coms made us all believe that falling in love was easy. And then we grow up and learn that it doesn’t happen to everyone. True love takes courage, trust and, most importantly, friendship, and it only happens a couple of times throughout a lifetime. If you’ve ever experienced it, congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Appreciates Nature

The more you live, the sooner you realize that there’s no better place to be than right next to nature. Sunsets are more than just about days slipping into nights; they are a reminder. Blue skies are more than just nice sunny days; they are an enlightenment. Waterfalls and oceans aren’t just liquid grazing solid; they are an awakening. If you are someone who can sit still in peace as you appreciate a magnificent view of mountains, beaches, canyons and fields, congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Truly Knows His Value

The modern world dictates that we need to do this and that because if we don’t, we are deemed failures. We as a society have become restless – always looking for ways to please people, always obsessing over more Likes, more Followers, more Retweets. Life has become less about genuine connection and more about virtual recognition. Most people nowadays turn to social media for affirmation, for attention and for valuation. If you are someone who is confident and mature enough to know your own value in this world without seeking validation in all the superficial corners of the Internet, congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Can Be Moved (Literally)

There’s a reason why we do not have wires and cords attached to us: because we are human beings. And as humans, we are capable of change. We are allowed to grow, to get to know ourselves in our own ways, and to take on new life challenges that will later on help us become better individuals. We are not meant to stagnate in the same space for the rest of our lives. We are adaptable, versatile beings who are biologically designed to overcome struggles, drastic changes and overwhelming circumstances. If you are someone who welcomes change and challenges with brave and open arms, congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Can Be Moved (Figuratively)

Another reason why we do not have wires and cords attached to us: we aren’t robots. We are allowed to feel. We are allowed to cry, to laugh, to smile, to frown, to feel like we’re on top of the world one minute and in the deepest, darkest depths of hell the next. We are emotionally mobile creatures. If you are someone who can encounter a piece of art (a painting, a film, a writing, a song, et cetera) and be greatly moved by it, congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Knows Kindness

It is absolutely scary to think that kindness is fast becoming a sort of an “endangered” virtue. It is also something that people think can be translated to a couple of nickels and dimes given to a street beggar every other week. Kindness is more than just the act of giving someone something of your possession; it is about empathy and compassion. When somebody is down, miserable and lonely, and you (despite your hectic schedule) decide to be there for them to comfort them, support them and encourage them? That’s kindness. If you’ve ever been there for someone during tough times, congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Is Present

These days, it is too common to see people everywhere looking down at their smartphones and tablets that in the mega rare instance that you see someone who’s not, you think apocalypse just arrived and you have less than ten seconds to have your final look at everything around you before you vanish into the vast unknown. It’s nuts! Genuine eye-to-eye conversations have now turned into mouths speaking to each other with eyes staring directly down at separate screens. Most people just aren’t present in the present anymore. They are somewhere else all the time, scrolling, sharing, liking and commenting. If you are someone who knows the value of a moment enough to put your phone away and see someone clearly in front of you as you speak, congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Isn’t Friendless

Friendship is one of those words that have gained traction but lost meaning. In reality, friendship, just like love, is a rare thing. Companionship happens a lot, and so does affiliation. But real, long-lasting friendships are rare. Friends are the people whom you can count on especially in times of emotional distress, and they are also whom you can count on in times of complete fun and randomness. Friends offer a type of love and care that you cannot feel from other people, and they are often the people who have seen you in your best and your worst. So if you have a solid circle of people whom you call friends (regardless of how big or small that circle is), congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Does What He Loves

Life is too short to do something that you do not enjoy doing. However, life is also not that simple. There are bills to pay, and not everyone gets the chance or the opportunity to do exactly what they love to do in a professional setting. A lot of people who love dancing work in banks; some who are passionate about painting work in sawmills; others who are very talented at singing work in hotels as housekeeping attendants. The list goes on. But let’s take a moment to appreciate the guy who changes from slacks to sweatpants to join dance rehearsals after his 5-PM end-of-shift at the bank. Let us appreciate the girl who vacuums floors and washes sheets at hotels so she can afford singing lessons. Let us appreciate the people who keep on painting despite their already-tired hands from working so hard in sawmills. If you are someone who may not be loving what you’re doing professionally but still finds ways to do what you love, congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Has Connected To Another Man (Or Woman) In A Genuine, Penetrating, Effervescent Way

This is probably one of the greatest successes one can experience in his lifetime: to feel a great connection between you and somebody else. If you come to think about it, this life we live is full of complications. There are more than seven billion people on this planet, and we are all just trying to live our lives the way we know how to live them. And we do get moments of joy and clarity, but there will always be nights when we hit our beds after a long day at school or at work and feel that something is missing; that something isn’t right. So when we happen to cross paths with someone who just “gets us”, someone who lights up our day just by existing, someone who literally finishes our sentences and someone who speaks to us without saying a word, we hold on to them. Because we know that genuine connections don’t happen everyday. If you are someone who knows somebody whom you feel that electric chemistry with, CONGRATULATIONS!

Skeletons In My Closet

Now that I look back on it from a higher, greener ground, I realize that the biggest pain I went through was far deeper and uglier than the sheer betrayal, physical assault and verbal belittling. I have come to realize that the absolute worst thing he had done to me – the gravest, most unforgivable thing he had done to me – was look at me in the eyes and not see me for who I really, truly, fully, was. The one heartache that’s bigger than any other heartaches: to be loved not for who you are but for what you can potentially be. Not you but the idea of you. A love not rooted in genuine passion, kindness and understanding, but a love founded in the depths of some sort of a superficial fantasy. The greatest pain, I have come to learn, was that he hurt me not because I was imperfect… but because I was just not enough. And the difference between the two (imperfection and incompleteness) is vast and overwhelming. It’s funny, though, how life works. Because as much as it was a nightmare, it was also an awakening. You get treated like shit first, and then you learn (the hard way) how you actually deserve to be treated. You get hurt first, before you can completely appreciate what it’s really like to be loved.

The Effervescent Flair Of My Peter Pan Love Affair

My Symphony: Magic / Colbie Caillat 

tumblr_m6hvutRagw1rotnaoo1_500

Sometimes, life gets too hectic that I forget how quickly things can change at any given moment. One minute you are so deeply in love with someone with everything that your heart could possibly give, and the next, you are broken up with that person. Your eyes are red and puffy from crying yourself to sleep three nights in a row, and all you really want to do is disappear for a solid month or so just to give yourself ample amount of time to heal.

But when it gets really interesting is not in the beginning nor the end. Just like with all of this world’s greatest stories, the juiciest part is in the details – in the middle of everything. When it gets really amazing and worthwhile is in the little moments that make up this large, exhilarating mental collage of love, life and everything in between.

I am at the point in my life where I am no longer a kid, but also very far from being an adult. I am in this blank emotional space that puts me in a tight spot between wanting to settle down with someone, and wanting to explore the world around me. Given my restlessness, my occasional histrionic antics and my constant indecision, being in this space hasn’t been easy. I have to admit I have always felt like I am on the edge of a precipice, just letting the wind cradle me back and forth, waiting for life to happen.

And then, out of nowhere, I find myself in a completely different place. Quite magical, very surreal, somehow scary but nonetheless invigorating. What do I mean by this? Well, you know that feeling when you were a kid and your parents brought you to the candy store? That has been me lately. I feel like a little kid in a candy store just completely overjoyed upon the sight and the scent of sweet treats right in front of me.

In this case, though (partly because I am 23, and partly because I have outgrown candies), my source of joy has been a boy – a boy who has gotten me on a sugar rush that never ends, inside a candy store that sells no candies.

I honestly never thought that love could be this simple. I guess maybe that’s why young love is so special. Unlike mature love (a.k.a. the rational type of love), young love is straightforward. It is fearless, it is bold, and it is so many kinds of wrong in all the right ways. And if it were up to me, I would continue giving my heart to people as if I had never gotten my heart broken before.

With you, I feel like my young self again. You make me fall without fearing getting hurt in the process (because it is inevitable, anyways). You make me want to take miscalculated risks, because we know those are the only risks we’re not going to regret having had taken by the time we get older.

Instead of settling down with you, I want to take it off with you. I want to go places, see other cultures, learn languages and embrace every single living thing a little tighter than I already do. You inspire me to grow, but not necessarily grow up. And it’s a good thing. It means that you keep me centered, but just enough so the tip of my toes can still reach out to the sides and feel the edges. You make me fearless, and you ground me just enough so I can eventually be catapulted into action.

Whenever you kiss me, I do not feel owned; I just feel loved. I do not think about the logical side to kissing whenever our lips meet. In fact, whenever our lips meet, I do not think at all. I do not have to worry about the next move, or how I am going to slide my lower lip and press it against the tip of your chin after I bite your tongue casually. I just let go.

Even hugging you is playful in the most romantic way. The second our bodies meet, I melt into yours and you melt into mine. There is nothing complicated about it. Just two bodies with like-minded souls coming in contact. I think it’s beautiful.

When we talk, we do not have to compete or make the effort to sound smarter than the other, because being smart or not is not the point. Conversations in this young love are filled with ideas, unfiltered thoughts and realities, and the sheer pleasure of learning more about each other, one verbal paragraph at a time.

At night, when I go to bed, I feel like I am sleeping right next to my bestfriend. There is no heavy emotional stuff to discuss before bedtime, so we talk aimlessly and then we laugh. And then we laugh a little more until we find our eyelids getting heavier with exhaustion. And then we fall into slumber. That simple.

I hear your name and butterflies fill my stomach. I see you and I instantly become giddy. It is love we have, but it never has to be overly complex and dramatic. It is love, but I still have a crush on you. It is love, but you still somehow make me speechless and occasionally stumble on my words. It is love, but you give me momentary speech impediments.

We are young, and what we have is definitely young love. And I like that.

I like that our normal is other people’s crazy. I like that we have allowed ourselves to fall for each other without thinking of any consequences. I like that we get to be lovers and friends at the same time and build each other up without even trying. And I like that, even just for now, I get to spend my life with someone so alive, so pure, so amazing. Someone who definitely makes any ride worthwhile.

We are young, and we have so much more to learn. But, boy, I have decided. You are one of the rare ones. And I am keeping you in my life forever, no matter where this zigzagging road called life will take us.

Afterall, little boys can never be sad inside a candy store. 🙂

The Assessor

It’s honestly crazy to think how in just a span of nine months, everything in my life took a 180-degree turn. I feel like up until lately, I wasn’t really the type who consciously observed people and assessed every single relationship. And that is exactly what I have been doing.

It’s interesting to catch myself in the most random time of the day just thinking about how I really feel about a particular person. I think it’s absolutely crucial for everyone to constantly assess his or her relationships with other people. Do I hate her? Do I love him? Do I miss her? Do I detest him? Does this person contribute to my days in a positive way? Does this guy put in the effort to make me feel emotionally satisfied? Are these people really still my friends? Etc. 

I’m not the most intellectual person, but I have been training myself to be smart about the relationships and bonds I have with the people in my life.