ROE-SAKA

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Life. Doesn’t it go by in a blink? A week ago, I was exploring Kyoto with my best friend, our breath continually being taken away by each tourist spot that we visited, and now, she’s set to hop on a plane that will take her 7,000+ miles away from me once more. Back to our long-distance relationship. It’s hard. I’m not gonna lie.

Having had to sustain a friendship without the luxury of proximity isn’t a walk in the park. It’s entailed hard work, patience, and a boundless supply of love from both our ends. But it’s been so worth it. A hundred times over.

There was plenty that studying in Ateneo gave me, but my favorite is Roe. She’s one of my best friends in the world, and I loved the time that I had with her in Osaka. Life is so short, I would like to spend most of my days in the presence of those I hold near and dear. The rest truly is background noise. It’s a distraction.

Roe, I haven’t written in my blog in over a year, I would like to dedicate my comeback entry to you. I feel it’s only fitting, as I started off this year with you. If only walls could talk… our Airbnb flat would tell stories that I’ll forever hold close. Thank you for your love, your company, your friendship. Thank you for sharing THIS SEASON with me. You know what I’m talking about. Thank you for understanding me more than any other person in my life at this point. Thank you for sharing my pain. Thank you for crying real tears with me. Thank you for being real. Thank you for praying with me. Thank you for praying for me. Thank you for making it impossible to be with you and not find myself crying from laughing in a matter of minutes. Thank you for being so easy to be with. Thank you that it’s never awkward. Thank you that it’s okay to be quiet. Thank you that it’s okay to dominate the conversation. Thank you for being considerate. Thank you for pretending to be considerate even when you’ve already made up your mind about what place we’re going to visit, hahahahaha. Thank you for being kind. Thank you for being honest with me. Thank you for encouraging me. Thank you for calling me out. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for coming into my life. Thank you for staying. I love every part of our story, and I know that the best is yet to come.

I fell so in love with Osaka, and I’m so happy that you were there to share the experience with me. Everything becomes more beautiful when it’s shared with someone we love. And as beautiful as Osaka was, I know my sentiments were amplified by the company. Girl, the point is, I love you! Alam mo na yan! See you in April, I’m counting the moons, amore. Mahal na mahal kita. Always, only, Jesus ❤

P.S. I love this verse, and it really reminds me of you :-*

“Fancy hairstyles don’t make you beautiful. Wearing gold jewelry or fine clothes doesn’t make you beautiful. Instead, your beauty comes from inside you. It is the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. Beauty like this doesn’t fade away. God places great value on it.” —1 Peter 3:3,4

I’ll see you soon.

XXP

Peace to You

Pigeon Point lighthouse USA, California, Big Sur

At the Christmas Eve service yesterday, the pastor talked about how God often operates differently than the world.

Case in point: when His Son was born on earth, He first chose to make the announcement to the shepherds. Today’s equivalent of anybody with a so-called “lowly” job. Ordinary. Unseen. Ignored. Overlooked.

And while I love seeing everyone’s photographs of their families and feasts on social media, I know that there are those who feel like the sky has fallen this season and thus have no desire or reason to celebrate. Those of you who’ve lost a loved one. A baby. A relationship. A job. Your health. Or perhaps your joy for life. Maybe it’s been hours or days. Maybe it’s been weeks, months or years. It doesn’t matter. Depression is a very real thing. Pain is a very real thing.

I see you. God most certainly sees you. And you are thought of, prayed for, and loved today. If you don’t know what you know anymore, then know that.

Peace to you.

XXP

Diana

I love the arts.

I love film.

I’ve probably said that a dozen times on this blog, but I do. And not the trash that’s often found in theaters these days, but high-quality, substantial motion picture that actually brings meaning to people’s lives and creates honest conversations.

Last night I finally had the chance to watch Oliver Hirschbiegel’s “Diana” starring the lovely Naomi Watts. I’m a huge fan of Watts and I’d pretty much see anything that she’s in. She’s absolutely brilliant.

diana naomi watts

The film garnered negative criticism upon its release in 2013 but I learned sometime ago not to trust the critics. Beauty like art is subjective. Who’s to say that a film isn’t worth seeing if in fact, it resonated with at least one person in the audience? And what exactly makes one person’s opinions more valuable than another? Their film degree? That said, if a preview or plot appeals to me, I see the film…

I truly enjoyed seeing Watts portray “Diana” and I feel that she did it so much taste and grace. There is something to be said for actors that respect their roles and treat them with care and dignity. This especially applies when one is dealing with a notable figure, and obviously, Princess Diana falls within this category.

If anything, the film put me in touch with her humanity and normalcy. The film was excellent in portraying this side of her. I was particularly moved by her heart for people. Marginalized people, the poor, the oppressed, the ignored, the disenfranchised, the ones most people don’t really pay attention to.

Coincidentally, her 18th death anniversary was seven days ago. I was 11 years old when she died. I was so young, but I could sense the impact and gravity of the situation seeing the looks on my parents’ faces when the news broke before noon here.

I was but a child, but it was plain to see that this was no ordinary woman. And upon watching the film, I understood why exactly she was so beloved. She was a humanitarian in the purest, most beautiful sense of the word. Since her mission to Angola, injuries from landmines have fallen by more than 60 percent. Three months after her death, the Ottawa Treaty banning anti-personnel landmines was opened for signature. So far, 161 states have signed the treaty.

princess diana angola

It’s not my place to question why God allowed her to be taken so early on in her life, but I wonder what she would think of the state of the world today. Why are so many living in opulence whilst millions are in lack and dying every single day of hunger and preventable diseases? Don’t even get me started on what’s happening in Syria but if you’re interested in making a difference, just click here. I’m glad this film was made.

And to the British people, I commiserate with you. The loss is all of ours. 10000%.

XXP

A Love That Even Time Would Lie Down And Be Still For

sally moon practical magic

Dear Gillian,

Sometimes I feel like there’s a hole inside of me, an emptiness that at times seems to burn. I think if you lifted my heart to your ear, you could probably hear the ocean. The moon tonight, there’s a circle around it. A sign of trouble not far behind.

I have this dream of being whole. Of not going to sleep each night, wanting. But still sometimes, when the wind is warm or the crickets sing… I dream of a love that even time will lie down and be still for.

I just want someone to love me. I want to be seen. I don’t know. Maybe I’ve had my happiness. I don’t want to believe it, but, there is no man, Gilly. Only that moon.

Sally Owens, Practical Magic (1998)

It’s A Shame

it's a shame

It’s a shame that shame is often found in places, situations, thoughts, conversations, sentences and moments where it has no business being in.

We shame because we don’t understand, we can’t relate, we aren’t the same, we are different, we are jealous, we are insecure, we feel guilt, we are angry, we are bitter, we are hurt, we are wounded.

We shame people because they speak a different belief or lifestyle. we shame culture, race, religion, faith, sexuality, gender, where you live, your profession, your haircut, your weight, your colour, your disability, the music you listen to, your education.

Damn, we even shame people for being too nice. too happy, too kind, too beautiful, too talented, too successful, too positive.

It begins as a thought and can end in war.

It’s a shame.

I love these words from the beautiful, incandescent Bianca Cash.

Scenes and Chapters 1

I’m probably one of the last few people out there who still purchase music (Spotify Premium doesn’t count…). Having said that, I picked up a copy of the 10 Years soundtrack this afternoon… and I don’t regret spending a single cent on any inch of it.

It’s fascinating to me how art has the power to do that. I personally believe that God created it and uses it as a medium for us to connect and relate deeply… to him, to others, and with ourselves. Which is I believe why we’re here.

scary close book cover

Lately I’ve been wrestling with the ideas of authenticity and transparency. It was hard for me to put a finger on what exactly I’ve been feeling… that was until I started turning the pages on the book “Scary Close” by Donald Miller. I had heard about Miller for years but it wasn’t until a handful of people I respect and admire from afar kept raving about his most recent work that finally got me hooked.

I put in an order for the book in May and I finally started reading it last week. I’m currently working my way through it for the second time. Miller has done something amazing with this book. There are a number of chapters here but in essence, the book talks about life being too short to be anyone but yourself.

He goes on to talk about knowing somebody who works in palliative care who had shared with him that the number one regret of those who were on their death bed was not having the courage to be their true selves while they still could have. He raises the topic of authenticity, and how we are meant to be exactly who we are without apologies, and how the world misses out on the gift that we and we alone could be bringing to it if when we choose to hide who our true selves are.

To be honest, it got me thinking long and hard about a certain person in my life whom I want to love deeper… but I can’t because they aren’t showing me any of their cards. There’s got to be something there for me to love more? I’ve know, because seen glimpses of it… In a nutshell, the ones that I love the most, are those who’ve shown me their cards. That made me feel safe, and I hope that these people feel safe with me as well.

The book discusses intimacy, and how it’s simply impossible to truly experience it without exposing our true selves and sharing the deepest parts of us. And how manipulation ruins that. There can be no intimacy when manipulation and deception are in the picture. One of my favorite quotes from the book is: “I’m starting to wonder if that’s not the whole point of life, to be thankful for it and to live in such a way others are thankful for theirs as well.”

The book is extremely confrontational, thought-provoking, and it challenges me to be truer to myself, more authentic towards others, and to be less judgmental. I want to be the kind of person whom others can be around without feeling like they’re less than. Without feeling like they’re being sized up or like they have to live up to some standard to gain my approval. The truth is that you don’t need anybody’s approval. And neither do I.

Another gold nugget I encountered recently by Kavita Ramdas that resonated profoundly with me: “We need women who are so strong they can be gentle, so educated they can be humble, so direct they can be compassionate, so passionate they can be rational, and so disciplined they can be free.

Strength is quiet. Real power is unassuming. On the subject of power… yesterday I had the opportunity to watch the play “No Filter” by The Sandbox Collective. From the moment the invite was sent to me on Facebook by a girl I know from college, I knew I had to see it. The visuals and social media campaign were off the charts, but it was the subject matter that piqued my interest. The play was about my generation, it was about me!

sandbox no filter

And faithful enough to the narcissistic nature of the millenial, I decided that I was going to see this play no matter what. Two invites to two kaladkarin friends later, I found out that I wasn’t going to be seeing the play all by my lonesome. This stuff is powerful. I can’t express my delight over the fact that material like this is being written and moreover, that it’s actually eliciting a positive response from people.

Let’s face it… it was hard growing up, and I don’t know anybody who isn’t struggling and continuing to grow up even in their late 20s and early 30s. There are really days when it feels like the crap has hit the fan and it shows no signs of stopping. I appreciated so much how the topics of suicide and depression were broached with a high degree of sensitivity and honesty. People need to know that they are not alone in their pain. But of course, it’s not all pain and tears, the play was hilarious too. Almost every facet of our lives is covered here and I highly recommend picking up tickets as the run was extended by two shows for this weekend. A massive congratulations to the entire cast and crew. GO!

I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone who’s a bigger cinephile than I am. Music remains my favorite art form and books will always be all-time but come on, there’s just something about beholding a story in motion picture. It brings me to my knees. It’s always frustrated me how today, the movie industry has become exactly that… an industry. A money-making venture. Things used to be different. There was a time when films were made to tell stories. To make people feel something. I love the Marvel and DC franchises as much as the next person… but more often than not there’s not much depth and nuance to be found there. As humans, I know we have the capacity to experience so much more.

Here in Manila, the films that get priority are the ones that will rake in the most cash. And that’s a sad thing. God knows how many times I’ve had to resort to seeing quality films by renting them, downloading them, buying them, or catching them when I happen to be overseas. I never would have been able to watch the brilliant “Blue Jasmine” starring Cate Blanchett if I didn’t happen to be overseas when it ran.

10 years movie poster

I’m not exactly sure how I came across “10 Years” but man, I’m so glad that I did. I saw it maybe three times in 2012/2013 and I watched it again last night. Will probably give it another go tonight. It touches on the exact themes that Miller highlighted in Scary Close. Authenticity, transparency, humanity… I don’t want to give anything away but I will say this: there comes a point when some of the characters just lay it all bare and the result is one, beautiful, human mess. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t be able to relate to at least one character in this cast. There’s no BS here. And that’s such a rare and beautiful thing.

Do yourself a favor and watch it xxx

What are some of your film and book recommendations? I’d love to hear them.

P.S. Here’s a clip of one of my favorite scenes from the film:

Put Yourself In The Way Of Beauty

“There’s a sunset and a sunrise every day. You can choose to be there for it, you can choose to put yourself in the way of beauty.”

Last month I finished reading the book “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed. My introduction to this book came via seeing the preview for the film adaptation which stars Reese Witherspoon. A few seconds in, I knew I had to see the film. After seeing it, I immediately knew that I had to read the book. And so I did, twice over.

Wild is probably my favorite book that I’ve read in a long time. I haven’t hiked the Pacific Crest Trail or anything even remotely close to it in scale or scope but I do understand what Cheryl Strayed communicates all throughout each chapter.

YOU CAN CHOOSE TO PUT YOURSELF IN THE WAY OF BEAUTY.

The book awakened something in me, and it’s why I’ve started taking a stroll every day at sunset when my schedule permits. Every day, for a little under an hour, I allow myself to become exposed to the trees, skies, greenery… or at least the semblance of it that my surroundings offer. I’ll take what I can get. This is the curse of a city dweller.

The New York Times recently posted an article on how walking in nature has the power to change the brain.

REAL TALK.

“Most of us today live in cities and spend far less time outside in green, natural spaces than people did several generations ago. City dwellers also have a higher risk for anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses than people living outside urban centers, studies show.”

To summarize the article, the study basically showed that individuals that spend time in nature on a regular basis were shown to have lower stress levels and their brains changed as well as they were more positive, less anxious, and less focused on factors in their life that they felt dragged them down (full article here).

I personally can attest to this as my mood completely lifts after my strolls. Bad things suddenly don’t seem so bad. And I’m reminded of how beautiful my surroundings are and how fortunate I am to have the things that I do in life. And I’m not talking about material things…

I write this to encourage you, my dear reader, to get out there more. Make this a part of your day. Squeeze it in no matter how busy you are. I know there aren’t that many options in Manila but they are out there. Ayala Triangle Gardens, La Mesa Eco Park, Capitol Commons Park… It can only do you good. Tried and tested na yan. 🙂

Anyhooooooo…. the primary purpose of this entry is to talk about my Mt. Daraitan experience. I definitely have to send a shout-out to my boy Marvin Bernardino as well as to Instagram as I never would’ve chanced upon it if it hadn’t been for them! It was absolutely beautiful and I can’t wait to be back. There was a cave where you can go swimming by just the glow of a flashlight and you can take a dip in the Tipinpak River as well which is right by the mountain whenever it gets too warm… this is a serene, insanely breathtaking place that I hope is never defiled or lost to tourism. Feel free to ask me anything about it. And if you go, please, LEAVE NO TRACE BEHIND. Stuff any trash in your bag and take only memories with you. Here are the photos, as promised. Cred to my talented BFF Paowee.

pauline daraitan 2

pauline daraitan

daraitan dock

pauline tinipak river

Remember: “There’s a sunset and a sunrise every day. You can choose to be there for it, you can choose to put yourself in the way of beauty…”