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. ❤ ❤ ❤

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To My Next One

My Symphony: Amsterdam by Coldplay 

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(photo source)

There you are. Wiping the sweat off your forehead after another long and torturous day of wondering where I am.

There you are, just sitting there with your signature poker face. You are holding that Humans of New York book that you’ve read from cover to cover for about seven times now. In front of you is a wine glass full of orange juice. You’re not gonna be getting drunk tonight. You’re not gonna be in the club dancing with sixty other strangers and contemplating each soul that’s potentially breathing inside every person in that room whom you find cute. Because tonight, you’re staying in and cooking your own dinner. Tonight, only for tonight, there is no time for any interaction aside from that which you are having with yourself. You’ve decided to just sit there, in front of your overcooked salmon and lukewarm orange juice, and think.

So there you are. Thinking. Not the kind of thinking that you normally do when you answer your major exams, or the thinking that’s required in planning those summer vacations you go to with your friends in spring; it is rather the thinking that you do when you think about love.

There you are. Beautiful as the sunrise. I don’t even understand how someone can be as stunning as you are. I mean I didn’t even know it was possible, but there you are – a breathing, shining proof that somewhere out there lives a higher power. Something that is way larger than any of us earthlings can imagine; something that’s ethereal, superhuman.

There you are. You have said you’ve been single your whole life because none of your past relationships seemed right. There are days when you wonder what love feels like, looks like, smells like. Does it feel the same way the palm trees feel the ocean-catapulted breeze? Does it look like the view of the city from the rooftop of your apartment building? Does it smell anything like green tea and vanilla extract? You do not know. But you wish you did.

There you are. You have gone to at least eight different countries by the age of twenty-four. What are you looking for out there? Nothing, maybe. Maybe you’re just sort of walking around this entire time, subconsciously hoping to finally bump into me. You have spent a significant amount of time with your friends. And they’ve been really good friends to you. They’ve laughed at your jokes, smiled at your happiness and waved at your moments of randomness. They’ve been with you on all those long walks, all those food trips, concerts, live theater performances and sometimes even on Valentine’s Day. And tonight is no different. They’re still the ones that fill your phone inbox. They’re still the ones that flood your Facebook timeline. They’re still the ones that witness your life as it unfolds dramatically. The only difference is that tonight, the unsatisfied longing for the presence of that one person – that one person whom you will love with all your heart – has definitely hit the deadline. You want love, just as much as I do. But the universe has had a funny way of creating two like-minded individuals who are a perfect match, and then putting them so far away from each other.

There you are. Where have you been? It’s actually quite funny. I’m impatiently asking you this when you have every right to ask me the same question. So where have been?

I’ve been here. Not sitting like you are right now, but floating. I’ve been dreaming a lot and sleeping a lot. I’ve been here and there, and I’ve looked for you too many times in too many places. I’ve been in this dozy tourist village that is my bedroom just writing about you, reading about you and thinking about you.

And now here I am. Jaded after all the rollercoaster rides in my life so far. I am bruised and scarred but smiling. Just like you, I had spent the whole day somehow hoping that our paths would finally cross.

Here I am, visualizing the numerous awesome moments we will be making.

Inside my head, here we are. I’ve never felt this special with anyone in my life. I adore the dimples that form on your cheeks each time I smile at you. I adore that. I adore the fact that I can be certain you will always smile back. Because when you smile, your eyes somehow disappear but your joy doesn’t. And I adore that. I adore that we can be foolish and intelligent with each other without having to apologize for anything. I adore that we are so the same yet so different. I adore that you like dogs, Katy Perry and dim lighting. I adore that everytime the wind brushes through your hair, it dances just enough to create the illusion of us hovering above the ground. And everytime I hold your hand, I adore that it fits perfectly. When you’re far away and I see you, it doesn’t take you long to see me; we don’t yell or wave, and sometimes we don’t even smile – we just look at each other as we approach the center point. There’s all this percolating love and passion underneath the calmness. I adore that. I adore that because all those years of trials and errors have led the two of us to this point. And there’s so much inside of us that we can just explode at any given second. But I adore that. I adore the idea that we are now standing face to face like two active volcanoes ready to erupt. And I adore that the eruption would be an eruption of love.

But here I am. And there you are. No amount of thinking and visualizing can realistically put us right next to each other any time soon.

I like to believe that you are out there, Next One. And if you are, I hope that at the very right moment, you will finish that orange juice of yours and take a walk along the beach.

I will be there. And I swear, you will be the Last One.

Happiness is Exhausting

My Symphony: Take Me Somewhere Nice by Mogwai

depression_by_nerysoul-d4ehg2g

The ghosts in the photograph never lied to me. I’d be all of that – a false memory. (Mogwai)

Tonight is one of those nights. Those many nights…

Let me begin by saying that I sincerely find happiness a rather exhausting state of mind. One would think that it is something that resembles a reward of some sort – the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I think that generally, happiness (whatever it means to people) is a rare thing. But contrary to the stigmatized notion of it, happiness is actually not a destination. It is not something that you work hard for in order to achieve in the end. I mean, it’s not even something that’s achievable, nor is it something that necessarily comes in the end. Instead, it is the tiny bits in between the everyday hustles and bustles of life that are pirouetting within one’s self in totally random moments, and for a brief amount of time. Happiness is not the trophy one gets for finishing first, or second, or third in the rat race; it is instead a penny, or a letter in the alphabet, or a piece of a jigsaw puzzle – something of a really small size and value that has the potential to become magnificent when joined with all the other really small pieces, creating a larger-than-life picture.

When I was in first grade, we were asked in English class to write about our “Happiest Moment In Life”. I’ll be completely honest: I do not remember what I wrote at all. But I don’t blame myself. Perhaps the content of my essay was greatly insignificant that even my seven-year old self knew it wasn’t worth remembering. Poor kids we all were in Ms. Gemma’s class. We were so young and we were already introduced to the concept of happiness as this one human experience that beats out all the other experiences; this concept of the “most unforgettable experience” as a merit for having lived one bold, outrageous day in your life. If the school wanted us to be prepared for the real world, they should’ve made us write on “A Happy Moment In My Life” and “An Unforgettable Moment In My Life”. Not these overwhelming titles with superlative adjectives that only blow everything out of proportion. If I could rewrite that essay on a happy moment in my life, it would go like this:

A happy moment in my life was when I woke up really sick and didn’t want to go to school. My dad just finished reading his morning news, and he seemed to be in a bad mood. He picked me up from my bed so quickly that he hurt my right arm. He then said to me, “You’re going to school no matter what.” I cried, and I cried because the way that he said those words was cruel. He’s always like that. He always thinks that I am faking it. Moments later, as I was sadly sitting in front of breakfast looking like a pale donkey, Mom held my hand, and then she hugged me. She said, “You don’t have to go to school today if you’re not feeling well baby.” Then she smiled at me.

If there is one thing I learned in the first year of my 20’s, it’s that life is not simple. And the newest trends in the Internet are making it even more complicated for humanity to breathe and really be itself. I don’t know where this came from or who started it, but these days, it’s almost like a disease to be unhappy. Nobody seems to be allowed to get sad or depressed anymore without getting looks of pity and, believe it or not, disgust. We live in a world where one’s heartaches and problems are considered as weaknesses and, according to the obnoxiously sarcastic Internet users, boring shit which ain’t nobody got time fo’. Everything right now is all about having fun, living because you only live once and attracting nothing and nothing else other than good vibes. Anyone who dares to rain on people’s parades is immediately dismissed as an outcast, a loner, a weirdo and worst of all, a loser. A poisonous loser.

Everywhere I go, every turn I take, I keep on encountering people who implicitly claim that they are allergic to sadness, that they find the idea of depression very unattractive. We’ve all heard it. It’s all over social media, it’s all over the news, it’s all over television. People like Miley Cyrus broadcasting their very exclusive views on life and the way that they want to live it. “That’s not really me (‘new Miley’ referring to ‘old Miley’). I’m just all about fun, and that’s, that’s who I am” <insert loud applause of hundreds of fans in the live audience>. The entertainment industry, in all its forms, has successfully glamorized life and romanticized living.

Stop. For crying out loud, just fucking stop it. Not the media (it’s a little too late for that anyway), but you. You reading this right now, you with the heart, you with the soul. Stop being a slave of society’s sugar-coated tyranny.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with sadness.

I’m sick and tired of these hipsters walking around acting like they rule the world for basically not giving a fuck. I’m sick of these optimists feeling the need to be positive all the fucking time. I’m sick of these pretty girls who think that they just cannot fart in public, and these ripped guys who force themselves to not get attached and be emotional. I’m sick of all those highly inappropriate grade school essay topics, and I’m sick of the teachers who think it’s okay to suggest happiness to kids in a single, superlative light. And I’m just sick of everybody who is quote-unquote allergic to sadness. Fuck you. I hope that your life is filled with pure fun and nothing else. Just that. Just pure fun until the day that you die. Maybe then you’ll be happy, but I strongly doubt that.

It’s just all too much. Too much make-up. Too many masks. Too many pretensions.

I swear to god the next time I hear someone say things like “I don’t do drama. I’m all about fun”, I will punch that bitch right in the throat and tell her, “Look, honey, it actually goes both ways”.

It does.

Life is not a one-way street, and people need to understand that. Just embrace the fact that sadness and happiness don’t have to be two opposing forces. Learn to relish in the joy and the misery of being alive in this planet. Otherwise, you’re making it hard on people like me, who actually see happiness as a very separate concept from fun, and who look at sadness not as a sickness but as a mere reality. A reality no one should be ashamed of.

Happiness alone is exhausting. It is only meaningful and desirable when it has randomly jolted out of pain (or nothingness).

Addressing Ares and Constantine

My Symphonies: Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It by Stars 
Open by Rhye

gemini_by_andrahilde-d39edq1

“You smile and the world goes away.” –  Cliff, The Woolgatherer 

For those of you who do not know (which I guess is pretty much everybody), I have two imaginary friends. Well, they aren’t exactly my friends, but they’re more like my alter egos. And in line of my being a Gemini, I’ve always treated these two as twins, mainly because they look very alike in my head anyway. One is basically the evil twin, and the other one is the cherub. And as I went through all those processes of self-search and self-creation, I found that I am in fact the sum of both characters. It is almost like I am both Ares (the abrasive, vindictive twin) and Constantine (the gentle, more open twin), and as I keep on reading the two of them, it’s starting to sound like I am talking to myself – my full self; my conscious self. We are looking at two very dissimilar beings here. One, the dreamer who has chosen to make love to his imagination and fantasy, in what is non-existent, because he has lost faith in reality, and the other, the realist who acts tough but also knows in his guts that he is lonely and is also in need of love—a real one. However, in all their differences comes this one thing I am sure is common about the two of them: they’ve both been hurt big time. It’s just that one grew miserable and desperate and the other grew cold and bitter. I find it very interesting, how these two characters within me throw sentiments of love and grief at each other but at the same time conceal what it is that they both seem to really want. It is undeniable, the dramatic amount of intellectual tension and emotional desire between them throughout this entire existence so far. And today, I have decided to actually talk to the twins in my head in a form of a letter.

First, for my old friend Ares…

Dear Ares,

I dream. I know it’s probably quite bizarre. Kenn has dreams? Yes, I can feel the skepticism from you right there. But seriously, I do have dreams. I have always dreamed of actually being in university (specifically Yale), getting a degree in Literature, getting a job as a junior editor for a Lifestyle magazine right after graduation while working on my first novel, and then working my way up the social ladder, finally achieving my secret dream of becoming a best-selling author. You know, the “right path”, as they say. But everything turned out very differently now. None of those things were even close to happening on the first place. And so I guess it’s safe to say that those “dreams” have drastically turned into fantasies—the hardcore ones—the ones I know deep in my guts I will never ever get the chance to experience in reality. However, this hasn’t stopped me from dreaming once and for all. No, I haven’t achieved any of those things in the “right path”, but I don’t blame anybody for that. It was a choice—my choice. And so I continue to dream every time I travel for long hours across the country. As the sun’s warm rays hit the train’s glass windows every morning, and as the fresh breeze of air brush through my hair and into every corner of the vehicle’s interior, and as flocks of birds grace the skies in all their free glory as they disappear from my point of view, I begin to fantasize about having the most romantic dinner date of my life—the one I’ve been dreaming of since I started admiring people, which was probably when I was nine or ten. See, I dream of an epic moment on a yacht on a warm Saturday afternoon, just as the sun begins to set. And I have organized everything for this perfect moment to actually turn out perfect. There is a dinner table set for two, an ice sculpture that says “Kenn+whatever the lucky guy’s name is”, an acoustic local band I hired to play songs by Angus Stone, Radiohead and Edwin McCain, and a cute little kitten that wears a locket that contains a picture of me and ‘the lucky guy’ around its neck. And the only dominant colors are white and red, except for my suit, which is black, and except for the kitten which is beach blond, and except for the guy who plays the harmonica, who wears a beige sort of vest and a blue tie, and except for the sun, whose orangeness has touched the ocean’s innocent shade of gray and dark blue, as its rays caress the still water, creating an illusion of glittering, shining bubbles and sparkles which, after a moment, begin to appear like countless of golden floating lanterns spread generously all over the massive body of water upon which the yacht floats. And then there’s this familiar sound: the sound of Calvin Klein leather shoes nearing, and then a blurry image of a guy in a red-and-white suit appears. And then I look away for a second and a half to see the sunset at its most colourful, and then I look at the image again and it is now clear: the boy I love, in his most beautiful, and me, in my most romantic. The two of us sit beside each other, looking into the sea, as dinner is being prepared and as the band serenades us. I sit right next to him, with my hand on his knee, as we fall in love all over again.

See? I dream. And I know that I told you before that I don’t believe in commitment? Well, that hasn’t changed. I just said I dream of that perfect date, with someone I love. And it can last longer or it can end the very second after the band played Creep by Radiohead. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that I love. And even if I lose, so what? It’s better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.

And now, for the loving Constantine – the less of the two evils…

Dear Constantine,

You’ve always been there. Even on those times when I built walls around my heart, you were there. You chose to sit against those brick walls and patiently wait for them to crumble. You’ve just always wanted to be free, to just get everything over with so you can dance in the air like you dreamed of. But dear, what does being free mean? What does it really mean? I live in a world where there are limits, boundaries, rules. How can I ever be free? No matter how hipster-ass I try to be, there will always be that stinging gut feeling that I haven’t done everything I wanted to do in life. That something is lacking. And then I realize: it’s love. It’s the factor that’s lacking in all of my freedom-filled life. I think that love is what will set me free. And I know that I’ve been quite skeptical about the notion of true love, but that’s only because I’ve been hurt too! I’ve had my heart broken just like everybody else. I just can’t believe he wouldn’t stop bitching about how he could bleed to death if he got cut. Hell, I’ve been cut and I’m still living. Because I still have hope that someday, somehow, someone out there will find me. And we will find each other. And the moment we do, we won’t lose each other ever again. And we don’t have to possess each other. We just have to love. Freely. The way that you love birds, and his sweaters, and the way we love the sunset, and the long drive along the coast, and the way we love the sky, and the ocean, and the breeze of fresh air. And we don’t even have to be together forever. Forever doesn’t exist. But this moment does. This very second. And that’s what matters. A reason to trust in love again.

Hugs, kisses and axe kicks to you both,
From your master

Tranquil Concealer

My Tune: It’s Gonna Make Sense by Michael Learns to Rock

peace_by_thebjoernsons

I am convinced that I am not at peace right now. Not that I’m really involved in a particular tangible combat, but, it’s my heart which is not really experiencing any tranquility lately. I can say that as it beats either faster or slower, all the more it loses its way back home. And actually, I’m not even sure if it has ever had a home on the first place. Sigh. So, ironically, I’m sharing with you my speech in the Voice For Peace Zone Level Competition. As far as I can remember, here’s what I said…

Peace—a five-letter word which I believe has made countless of geniuses wonder. It has perhaps been an abstract concept whose whereabouts are being constantly questioned by everyone. So today I’ve strengthened my body and soul to bravely speak of such an abstraction. Ladies and gentlemen, a pleasant afternoon.

How can I be an instrument for peace? And with that question comes another question: where can peace be found?

A man may search far and wide for peace, but he will never be successful lest he realizes that peace starts from one’s heart. (however…)

I will never fail to insist for the basics. As a student of a catholic university, I am convinced that first, it is important to develop one’s relationship with God—that is, to enhance one’s Christian faith and knowledge. Simple acts of attending mass regularly and not forgetting to communicate with our Lord will feed my soul with proper spiritual boost that’ll guide me as I take on life in the context of peace.

Second, I will value my education, for it is through learning that my understanding of moral values and practices will be widened. Valuing education means eliminating ignorance, and eliminating ignorance means working at adequate morals such as peace.

Third on my list is an effective communication. Keeping communication lines open with family and friends lessens the hate wherever the cut is at its deepest. In communicating with people, it is important that I will be humble, yet ready to soar. Thus, I will be harmless, yet fierce in ironing the twists and curls of things.

Since I am now talking about communication, I would also like to stress that a so-called bonding moment with friends and family is the best way to strengthen ties and relationships, so that when the time comes that my faith and loyalty will be put to test, I will simply recall all those

cherished moments I have once shared with all those people I love and naturally get the realization that clashes and quarrels are actually God-given gifts which must be taken constructively and not destructively.

Education, Christian faith, communication and a priceless time with loved ones—all four of these lead me to the bottom line.

Peace, my dear listeners, is like the twin of love. If only humanity had not known violence, oppression, revenge, wrath and hatred, I’m pretty confident there must’ve been no such thing as World War I nor World War II. Our hearts are drastically hardening from pieces of cottons into bars of steel. What’s sad is that the very place where peace is ought to reside is where all our violence and hatred lie. This place my dear listeners, is one’s own heart.

Mankind must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. And the foundation of such a method is love.

Yes, people. Love. It is what humanity once had so much, and it’s also what we lost after a span of generations of rebellion and morality deterioration.

When the power of love overcomes the love of power, world will indeed know peace once and for all.

Once again, a pleasant afternoon and peace be with you…