To My Best Friend on Her 25th Birthday

Hello, my love ❤

First things first, HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY ❤ ❤ ❤

Všechno nejlepší k narozeninám, and yes, I have no idea how to pronounce that :D.

What can I say on your special day, my Katerina?

First of all, don’t end up crying in the bathroom and cleaning the toilet like you did last year, OK?

I know I’m the best thing that’s ever happened to you, but we don’t need to be drama queens, OK? OK. Hahahaha.

To be honest, there’s already a birthday card (or two :p) on its way to you… but you’re just way too special for me to let this day pass by without doing just a little more to make sure you know exactly how loved you are.

No video this year, but you’re the first friend I have ever written about on my blog for their birthday. So, I hope that counts for something ❤

I love watching you grow.

Have I told you that?

I entered your life, or rather, you were brought into mine when you were 23 years old.

So, you’ve been in my life for about a year and a half, and it’s been such an adventure and a journey and a miracle.

YOU HAVE MADE MY LIFE INFINITELY BETTER.

I love seeing you grow, my love.

You remind me of myself when I was younger.

I love seeing you make mistakes and learn from them.

I love your courage.

I love that you live your life without apologies or regrets.

I love watching you live your life to the fullest.

I love watching you love the people around you well.

I love your authenticity.

You are unapologetically you, and it’s such a rarity and breath of fresh air in this fake, superficial world we live in.

I told you that after my time with you in China, and I still stand by my words today.

It’s ironic; you think you’re ordinary, and that’s exactly what makes you my special K.

You’ve changed my life. You’re seven years younger than me, but I have learned so much from you.

You taught me not to listen to sad songs when I’m already in a pensive mood… not sure how I didn’t realize this earlier or on my own. But that’s why people enter our lives, right? To teach us a lesson. You also encourage me to be more physically active and to spend my time wisely, and this has worked wonders for my disposition and overall outlook in life.

You taught me to be more real… as real I can possibly and humanly be. I can honestly say that I’m no longer the same person I was a year and a half ago, and you are one of the reasons why. I don’t care as much about germs, or looking pretty, or eating too much sugar, or being impressive on social media, or what people think, and it’s because of you. Among a million other things. I suppose I’m a city girl with a village girl’s soul. And I suppose that’s why I’m your soulmate.

We’ve had one too many arguments, disagreements, and fights in the time that we’ve had to spend apart, but they live in the past for me. All I care about is the here and now, that we got through everything together, that we lived up to our promise to love each other NO MATTER WHAT, and ALWAYS, and FOREVER. Best friends for life.

Truly, you are one of the most precious souls in this whole entire planet for me, and I want you in my life for always. You have brought me more joy than you will ever know, and you mean SO, SO much to me.

Thank you for helping me grow and stretch and learn in so many ways.

You being in my life has tested my character in ways that I could not have imagined.

I learned so much about myself by being your friend, and while some of the revelations I had to learn through the most painful of circumstances, I still learned and that’s what matters.

And sure, I may have been hurt by matters that should not have hurt me, but I also learned that my love and commitment could overcome all of those things. You taught me to love you, and other people, as I love myself.

What do I wish for you on your 25th birthday, my žirafa?

What I told you a few weeks ago.

To feel loved every second of your life. And I promise you, the only way to get to this place is by loving other people as hard as you can. Even when they don’t deserve it. Even when they upset you and hurt you and disappoint you.

Nothing is worth doing if it’s not done in love. Seek first to understand before being understood. And may everything you do or say be done and said with compassion. It’s the best we can do in this world we live in. To always put ourselves in other people’s shoes and to consider their feelings as we do our own in every decision that we make. Thank you for teaching me how to trust and have faith. In you, in myself, in us, in God.

Thank you for your incredible patience with me. I know my being emotional really pushed you over the edge at times, but you loved me through everything. I remember you losing your patience just once :D. Thank you babe.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be patient with you as well. You’re worth it, kid. I knew you were something special right from the very start, and that I really wanted you to be my friend.

Thank you for encouraging me to be as honest as I possibly can. And to be kinder and better.

I hope and pray that this is really just the beginning of our story.

Here’s to more precious moments.

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From the mundane…

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To the meaningful…

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And the magical (lezzzzzbicka :p)…

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And a hundred million more to come.

I love you, my one and only KŠ.

Let’s keep chasing our dreams together, hand in hand.

Happy, happy, happy birthday.

I’ll see you in a few days, my love (XXVII).

Finally, story to be continued…

❤ , your APY.

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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: