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.


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.


“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…”

Fear No Evil

black and white clouds

“The books or music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, what came through them was longing.

These things – the beauty, the memory of our own past – are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they will turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers.

For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never visited.

― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

I love to travel. As a matter of fact, there are a few things that I love more in this world than to travel. And as I think about why it’s captured my heart so completely, I can say for certain that a huge aspect of it is that it exposes me to beauty. The beauty of this world that God had created to mirror heaven. The beauty I find in the faces of people of varying ethnicities. The wonder evoked in me by the sunsets and mountains and stars and beaches and trees that don’t quite look the same no matter which end of the earth I visit.

And I know that this feeling of longing isn’t an earthly one. I know God Himself put it there. I know that there is more… there has got to be more. I know this even in the senseless death of an innocent child or even a loved one. I know this even in the daily news reports of bombings, death, hunger, terror, torture and fear everywhere around the world that I, admittedly, on some level have become desensitized to. It’s all enough to drive anyone crazy. Sometimes the enemy isn’t on the external level, but on the inside. Sometimes it’s our own thoughts. I personally know what it’s like to struggle with anxiety and it’s worse than any outside circumstance I’ve had to deal with.

So at such a time when it’s too easy to give in to fear and believe that the worst is yet to come, I pray that the peace of God which surpasses all understanding would guard your heart and mind. My prayer as well is that this song and these lyrics would encourage you as much as they have me. x Remember… there is more, and our stories don’t end here. The Prince of Peace is FOR you, WITH you, and He always will be.

What I’ve Learned at 29

don't count the days

So I’m just about two weeks in of being 29, so I’m thinking that officially deems me as the foremost expert on all things 29-ish. Ha. But seriously, being on the cusp of the big 3-0, there’s really been no lack on my end of reflection and consideration of what I’ve learned thus far. Three decades on earth. 10,585 days (#blessed).

The road getting here without a doubt has been fun, crazy, challenging, painful… and every other adjective in between. Something tells me this entry is going to be very much a personal one so if you’re not in touch with your emotions or this is something that makes you uncomfortable, it’s probably best that you close the tab now and move on to a fashion blog or something. ‘Cause it’s about to get reallllllllll!

Man, at 29, I know I’m a completely different person than I was at 9, 19, or even 27 if I’m being honest. I don’t like to think of myself as jaded or bitter, so I’ll just say that at this point, I’m more aware of the less-than-pretty things in life.

1. People will let you down. Yup, that includes your favorite parent, your closest sibling, your sweet lover, and your bestest friend in the world. At some point, they. will. let. you. down. Your job is to not to let your identity or well-being rest on the actions or words of anybody. No matter how much you love them or believe in them. Because guess what: the person that you respect the most in this world is just as flawed as you are. Don’t expect them to be super humans. I have been let down (in a huge way) by the people that I love the most and what I’ve learned from those experiences is that I shouldn’t expect too much from anybody. And again, that’s not to encourage jadedness or bitterness, just a healthy dose of reality and managed expectations.

2. You finally know what you want. I work as a freelance writer. Words are my currency. I used to call it my dream job, and for the last few years it has been, I just don’t feel that way anymore. In the last decade, my heart has always beat for social justice organizations, causes, and the like, I’ve just never been able to find a job in this sector. It’s either that, or they’ve never chosen to hire me.

So now after almost four years of working from home, I’m on the prowl again. Because I know what I want. If you’re in high school, college, or even your mid- or late-20s, don’t worry. It’s likely that most of the people around you don’t know what they want either, or they just may be some of the lucky few who do. This is the time for you to figure it out. In the meantime, give yourself room to explore, discover and make a few mistakes here and there.

HINT: find out what makes your heart beat fast and see if you can do that for a living. Then it will never feel like a job. Your passions, gifts and talents are a huge indicator of what you should be doing.

But of course, knowing what you want isn’t limited to career paths and what not. You also know what you want in a relationship. In a partner. In a future spouse. You know what I hate, even though they mean well? When a friend tries to force a guy on me that I totally don’t see myself with. Because at this age, I know what I want. I’ve seen what love looks like, and I’ve also witnessed what it doesn’t look like. In the words of a very wise woman named Christine Caine, “Don’t settle for relationships that require losing your voice, your self-respect, or your dignity”.

I’m just not willing to sell out to the first guy that comes around for one less lonely night. For the most part anyhow, being lonely is a choice. Or maybe I’m just past that point. And that’s not to say that I demand perfection, I’m just done wasting my time. If you haven’t figured out what non-negotiable traits you’d like in a partner, now would be a great time to get started on that list. I’ve read that 80 (or 90%) of a person’s happiness is contingent on the person that they marry. So you want to make that decision with careful consideration. Don’t rush. You’re worth it, and chances are, you’re the person who’s putting the most pressure on yourself.

3. You’re done with the BS.

Ha. This year was a tough one for me. 2014 was absolutely cray-cray. This year I have no doubt that God’s ultimate goal was to hone PATIENCE in me. Because so many of the situations I found myself in this year demanded it, and though I’m better for it now, man it wasn’t easy. At 29, I’m so proud to say that I’ve arrived at the point where I love and respect myself enough to not surround myself with people who a) don’t even want to be around me in the first place; b) don’t treat me with love and respect; and c) are just plain toxic. Not that I don’t believe in hanging out with those society shuns, but I’m talking about people whom I give importance to and foster intimacy with. Because ultimately, we inevitably become who we hang out with.

At 29, man, you just get to the point where you’re completely done being someone’s doormat, or who don’t treat you the way that you deserve. Because this isn’t high school or college anymore where if you rocked the boat in your social circle, you’d have to eat in the cafeteria all by your lonesome. Now there are no more excuses for spending time with people who don’t deserve you or who don’t better you in any way. It’s all on you.

4. Forgiveness will set you free.

In relation to the aforementioned, with pain come scars and wounds. We’re about to enter into a new year and I sure as hell don’t want to take any grudges or chips on my shoulder with me into the future. It’s the people we love that hurt us the most, but guess who enters an invisible prison when we choose to harbor hatred and bitterness towards others? It’s us, not them. So yeah, take a couple days to lick your wounds and sulk, but once you’re done, move forward. And allow yourself time to heal. But don’t leave the relationship on the wayside. If you can salvage it, do so.

5. I don’t know everything. In fact, I don’t know that much at all.

The more I learn about the world, the more it dawns on me just how little I know. And the best way to keep learning is to keep an open mind, and to be humble enough to admit that you don’t know everything. Doing otherwise just makes you straight up annoying, and you also strip yourself of the opportunity to expand your knowledge.

6. Crap happens, and some people really are just jerks.

Haha. I know this comes off as totally cynical, but it’s the truth! Crap will happen to you no matter how much money you have or don’t have, how much planning you do, and irrespective of how good a person you are. There are no exceptions — life will screw us all over at some point, and our job is to roll with these punches as they come. Suck it up and smile. And don’t take your frustration out on other people.

And yup, some people really are just jerks. I’m fortunate enough to have been surrounded all my life with people that encouraged me to seek to understand others before being understood, plus my Psych background helps as well, but what I’ve come to realize is that some people really just choose to act out no matter how nice or innocent you are. No, they haven’t had a bad day, they weren’t abused as a child, and their lives aren’t falling apart in any way, they’d just rather hate on others for no reason at all. Just smile. Who knows, if they get enough smiles in their direction, they may just decide to throw them back at somebody else one fine day. Wonders never cease, right? 🙂

7. You realize how crazy beautiful life is.

And because I’m aware of how negative (or realistic??) this entry is getting, let’s end this on a positive note. This year two friends of mine passed away, I’ve had to deal with very challenging situations concerning people that I love dearly, and a lot of terrifying events occurred around the world. It made me reevaluate the purpose of life, question whether God truly is in control, and go to sleep tearful and afraid. And yet… despite the craziness of it all, in spite of the fact that there are still so many things I don’t understand, a barrage of questions in my mind that won’t get answered on this side of eternity, I still think life is beautiful. And yes, that God is in full control. We just choose to point the finger at him when something bad happens.

I’ve just had too many first-hand experiences of grace, love and forgiveness to believe otherwise… not to mention the countless “coincidences” or “happenstances” that have manifested in my life.

Yes, there are people that make life ugly and that continually make the choice to hurt others, but if I let that get to me, it will literally drive me insane. I believe, unequivocally, that genetics + environment + uncontrollable factors aside, this is how the spiral of depression often starts. With our thought life. Tell yourself something enough times and for certain you will start to believe it.

So tell yourself this whenever you feel you can’t go any further:

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;

for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.

But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;

and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.

Especially, do not feign affection.

Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.

Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;

you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,

and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

Desiderata (Max Ehrmann, 1927)

We’re in this together & I’m cheering you on!


No One Else Can Play Your Part.

no one else can play your part

Six months ago, upon hearing the news of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death, I shared this post: 


Today, it saddens me that the exact same words apply to the living legend that was Mr. Robin Williams, except that this time, the culprit is suicide/depression.

This time around, I’d like to borrow a few words from the beautiful Alexandra Nelson, a woman I greatly respect and admire:

My heart is heavy hearing the news about Robin Williams.

There’s a reason I love collaborating with the amazing organization To Write Love On Her Arms and it’s because the messages that YOU ARE IMPORTANT and that DARKNESS DOESNT RULE YOU need to be said, over and over.

I know this.

Depression has been a part of my own life for a very long time. Please hear me when I say that YOU ARE SO VALUED and YOU HAVE A HOPE AND A FUTURE beyond what you could ask or imagine from where you stand now.

Robin Williams, there is a hole in Hollywood and the world now where you were and could have been. You will be missed.

robin williams black and white


1951 – 2014

Prayers, love and thoughts go out to his wife, three children, and all who loved him.

SOCIAL MEDIA: This Media We Call “Social” Is [Sometimes] Anything But

social media

So you’re sitting across the table from a friend baring your heart and soul only to receive a half-hearted “right” or “yeah” in response. You look up and find that your friend’s sole focus is no longer on you; but rather on the extension of our hands that we like to call the smartphone.

It feels like the wind’s been knocked out of you, but the feeling grows even worse when you realise how many times you’ve probably made others feel the same way. Others that have invested time, energy and money to be in your presence.

I think we’ve all been there.

About a month ago, my brother shared the video below with me and I found myself hanging my head in shame knowing how guilty I was (or still am) of behaving this way. But with the help of friends and my own conscience, I’m trying to be more intentional about leaving my cell in my purse – where it belongs – in the presence of others.

I suppose things change when you experience first-hand how awful it feels to be on the receiving end of speaking with someone who really isn’t present at all. And to know that I’ve made others feel that way? Suckiest feeling ever.

So I share this with you all hoping that it will benefit you as much as it has me.

On another note, it’s always amusing to me when people think social media is “just” social media. I used to think that way too, till I realised that it’s anything but. Whether we like it or not, our Instagram posts, Facebook updates, and tweets speak volumes about our character and our lives. They reflect our passions, interests, beliefs, level of humility (or lack thereof) and give people a window into our lives. Have you ever stopped to think what people see when they look into your window? 🙂

Don’t get me wrong. I love social media. Just like the internet at large and money, these are neutral mediums that tend to get a bad rap because, well, people don’t always use them in a positive fashion.

But the truth is that when utilised properly, they carry the potential to change the world.

For instance: Instagram. It’s probably the only app that 99 percent of people I know use and refresh multiple times on a daily basis. And while for some it has become an avenue to post a selfie per day, flaunt their possessions, or leave hurtful or hateful comments on others’ feeds, I personally love it because it allows me to see what my friends are doing, thinking and feeling for when I can’t be with them. This especially applies to friends who’ve moved away or that I can’t be with at the moment.

It also lets me find encouragement from people I don’t even know. In one particular instance, words from a stranger completely saved me as I asked for prayer on one church’s account on a really bad day (seriously, God bless this person’s heart).:

prayer - paulineyaoAnd whoever’s out there: I hope I’ve helped you somewhat!

And remember: what’s in your heart will always make its way to your feed!    


Manners & Sunscreen: The Truth About Travelling

manners & sunscreenIt’s hard to say when I got bit by the travel bug. I’m fortunate enough to have spent most summers aboard a plane as my folks liked to travel with us cool kids in tow. Spending summers in the U.S. brings back a flood of fond memories of us driving from LA to Vegas, and my siblings and me falling asleep in the car in the early hours of the evening only to be awakened at midnight by the glowing lights of Sin City. The experience was always nothing short of magical. I also recall the songs I heard on the radio as the sun would set behind us on the drive back to LA. I’ll always hold those memories close.

My sojourns peaked in college and thereafter as my desire to see more of the world and meet new people continued to burn with every plane ticket that I booked and each airport that I came through. It’s taken a back seat in recent years for a number of reasons though. Nonetheless, I just got in from a trip to Palawan and I’m so glad I went.

It’s jaunts like that that remind me of why I fell in love with travelling in the first place. I believe that life isn’t worth living if we’re not always trying to make ourselves better with every step. And travelling… it does that for me. It makes me a better person. The cold, hard truth about travelling is that half of the time, it’s not nearly as glamorous as people make it out to be. There’s just too many things that can go wrong in the process. The forgotten passport, the ridiculous queues at security check, missing a flight, falling ill, leaving something valuable at the hotel, getting your stuff stolen, etc, etc.

But the flip side of that is that despite these inconveniences that occasionally arise, I secretly love the thrill of not knowing what’s going to happen. I embrace the revelation that control is an illusion (it just makes life simpler). I relish the fact that I’m pushed out of my comfort zone and it’s my decision alone as to whether I’m gonna enjoy the ride or not. Why? Because it makes me better. It keeps me from becoming a brat who foolishly and selfishly believes that everything is going to go my way. It’s not. The universe doesn’t revolve around me and I shouldn’t expect it to. Travelling helps me to grow up and stretch my big girl muscles.

I also love that I get to see beautiful places that I didn’t even know existed. I think that it’s important to be reminded of how big the world is and how small we are in comparison to it. It’s also just so good to get away from the daily grind and relax, reset and recalibrate my senses. I’m so grateful and I’ll say it again as I’ve said it before: holidays are a blessing. I’m fully aware that to some people, being on vacation is a mere pipe dream that they pray about, dream of, and wish for. So I don’t take it for granted.

But more than all of the above… it’s about the people that I meet along the way. On this trip, I had my best buddy with me and we met some pretty amazing people that reminded me of why I fell in love with travelling in the first place. In meeting different people of varying ages that come from diverse walks of life, my mind is opened, my perspective broadened, and I am made a better person than I was than when I first stepped foot on the foreign land.

I love that I got to meet people with beliefs that matched my own, and I love that I also got to know people whose philosophies couldn’t possibly be further from mine. Travelling keeps me humble as I’m reminded that I don’t know everything, that I really haven’t seen anything yet, and most valuable of all, that we’re all really just the same inside no matter how different we look on the outside or how distinct our beliefs are from one another. Travelling pushes me to be respectful of other people’s backgrounds, beliefs and cultures. Just because something is different than what I know, that doesn’t make it wrong or invalid. And I can only pray for many more opportunities to travel so that I never forget any of this. And no matter where I go, I hope to remember to pack these two essentials as advised by one of the wisest women that I know:

manners & sunscreen mom text That being said, never stop exploring! XXP