Wednesday, August 3, 2016

When Feeling Abandoned, Reach Out

Credit to whoever did the illustration.

Few weeks ago, I got a text from a friend who I haven't heard from for a long time. Again, the customary "how are you" was thrown back and forth. But before that, I asked who was it because the sender only registered a number, but the delivery of the text was familiar, telling me that who it was, was at some point in my lifetime was someone I was in close contact with. And she was, when I confirmed the ID. She was, even without the emoticon, sounded disappointed  that I had to ask, telling me she never deleted my number. I had to explain that I changed phone, that I saved my contacts in my phone memory and my old phone's battery gave up and the battery's model was phased out, so I had no way of retrieving my contacts' number. You know the feeling that the person you're talking to doesn't believe the word you're saying? I had that, with the "uhm, okay" reply. I let that slide. I have learnt that when you know you are sincerely telling the truth, you don't have to insist you are right.

I was happy to reconnect with her because I haven't heard from her for quite a while. Yes it was through texts, but she's an old friend and, whatever way to keep in touch is keeping in touch. She said she felt abandoned, so she stayed away from social media, i.e. Facebook, the site where we're connected. I told her I left a message on her wall, if she had read it? Her declaration of abandonment quite stunned me because I tried to connect with her through Facebook. Still, I let that slide, thinking that to launch my defense against the accusation would rouse more resentment from both of us.

That "attack" came at a crucial point in my timeline (was going through an epic evolution,redrawing my inner map). It's surprising, yet revealing. I got where she came from. I felt that abandonment she was referring, that feeling that nobody understood and that no one will understand you, so you build a wall around you to protect yourself from rejection, founded or imagined. I felt resentment on her "abandoned" statement. We lived parallel lives, yet I chose not to point fingers on whom or what to blame my pain. I realized that the abandonment we feel is a matter of perception; perhaps a defense mechanism to repel that fear of rejection, a reason to justify the hurt when our needs are not met. So what do we do? We distance ourselves from others, from our friends, from our families. We extricate ourself from the circle, to be alone in our misery, masochistically reveling our aloneness in the misery, at the same time, getting bitter and angry of everyone who do not get our misery. 

In this world full of duplicities, someone out there truly, sincerely, deeply gives a fuck about you. Reach out. Someone in the hundred or so in your friends' list would drop what they are doing or forget what they are going through to be there for you. Just reach out. Someone would freeze his/her own hell to show up for you; to pat you on the back, commune with you, sit with you in silence, hold your hand, and confidently tell you that it's going to be okay. Just.reach.out. 

The two things that hold us hostage are fear and pride -- we fear of rejection, so we rely on our pride to get through life single-handedly. It's true that walking alone would get you somewhere and doing so opens possibilities you can reach, of which you never thought possible. Nevertheless, it'll be nice that know that someone  has your back. But you never know until you reach out. You will never find out if you don't ask. You know what else I learnt? Someone who's honest and brave enough to point out your shortcomings, either as a friend or a lover or family, they're the very people who will get you and will show up for you. In the world where your struggle becomes some people's amusement and subject of mockery, find company in the people who managed to confront their humanity. They're the ones who will be there for you. All you need to do is reach out.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Let Me Not Die While I Am Still Alive

For a while I had been functioning as the rational being in the most logical sense. Everything I did and thought was governed with reason. To sum it up in the most (non)intelligent way, I existed using my brain.

A part of me was switched off. A part of me felt numbed, dormant, still, waiting to be resuscitated back to life. And I didn't know how to do it, I didn't how to turn the zest on. Like those moments when emotions overtook all reasons, the realization that life lived all out with reason alone was also paralyzing, it threw me into panic. Shit! Where did my heart go?

It was not the life I wanted, the half-dead. It's not the life I bargained for when I chose to live my every day. Pain is pain, but it feels so much better than being numbed. It at least offers me options for growth and discoveries and experiments. While numbness, it's a linear highway to death, everything is colored in monotonous black or white. Hello, Pleasantville!

I want color. I want chaos. I want a roller coaster ride. I complain, yes, and crave peace when it feels like my world is turned upside down. But I can manage to ride with the peaks and troughs in the series of life's crests better than gliding on the flat line of deadness inside.

Numbness only serves its purpose for a little while, when we're too damn tired to deal with the pain and worries. We're designed to live and getting out of it is a choice and it entails hardwork to thaw away the ice that frozen our heart. We're designed to live and not just exist. 

Let me not die while I am still alive. It's Hannah's prayer when she was depressed being childless and being constantly ridiculed for it. She refused to let her spirit die. Sheryl Sandberg also reminded herself of that powerful line to go on living after her husband died. And I am adapting it, to push myself to seek the essentials of what makes life worth living.

Whenever I feel my head floating and my heart sinking, I remember this phrase. Whenever I feel I'm switching on auto-pilot, I let the words ring in my head. To wake up what's sleeping in me, to pinch that part of my soul that hardened, to guide me in finding ways, any ways, to help me blow air into my own life raft. Trust me when I say, we have that power within us that knows what we ought to do and recognizing the internal disengagement is a breakthrough. If you find yourself in that cold boat, row, darlings. Row to where the sunshine is. Light that fire within you to guide and show you where you are going. Don't waste your everyday isolated in that numb, cold and dark world.

I'll leave this quote from Albert Camus:In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invisible summer. The seed to life is always within you. For God is within you.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

On Love

If love has a manual to follow, maybe we would not be at our wits’ end, deciphering every gesture, every word, and every nuance. If love is set, we would not worry our heart dropping to the ground at every turn with its uncertainties. If love has a map, maybe no one will fear the unfamiliar, inconvenience and unconventional it is notoriously known of. But maybe, all that makes love compelling; it is both the magic we desire and danger we repel.
Love has no clear and distinct definition. Its definition is inexhaustible, with varying connotations to different people. What we know of it is guided by its execution. It can feel/look/sound like an act ordained by the divine, or it becomes a distorted truth corollary of a devious game. It can be ideal with fluffy clouds, rainbows, and butterflies, or it can be raw, honest, and brutal, labored with real grit.
Believe and seek the higher love; the love that seeks for the higher good, the love that does not play games, the love referred to by Paul in his letter to the Corinthians, the love that fuqing hurts because it is real, the love that is faithful to the truth, the love that shines because it is pure, the love that conquers wickedness, the love that defeats bitterness and cures indifference. Love is not a weakness, but a power – an emancipation chosen and acted upon by REAL men and women.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Some Kind Of Explanation For The Slack In This Blog

I don't know where or how to begin. Few days of not being able to post an entry here thrown me into some kind of vortex, where every space was filled with thoughts of events and emotions, too many in fact, that I'm having a hard time collating them according to their respective subject. There was my obligatory (lol) New Year's resolution listicle, the part two of Cebu City's photo blog, which I guess I just have to do next year, if I will be in the country, because... I spent few days in another island in Mindanao [right after I got back in Cebu from Southern Leyte] because my grandfather died, and yes, there are pervading thoughts of death with the people around me getting older and dying.

Lots of one day. For resolutions. For plans. Some never get to see the light of day. Some were set into motion, Some ended the way they should be. Some just have to be halted/suspended because of diversions, or some things need immediate priorities than the others. With all the things that happened and did not not happen, I always have this first thought of: Where do I stand in all this?

I don't want to make a big drama out of the ordinary (but I do find magic in the ordinary). Maybe I have come to accept the realities of life: the miracle of birth and inevitable death, the joy of winning and the sting of losing/failing, the magic in falling in love and the torture of its end, the highs of creativity and necessity of slacking, the yin and yang of all things that spiced up our lives. Sometimes acceptance pushes you to go through every emotion and be in the moment, no matter how painful it is. Sometimes it allows you to be "removed" and become a distant observer of the drama in your life, watching them like strips of film rolling out before your eyes, with you separating the good memories (to be fondly reminisced in the growing years) from the bad hard ones (they are always the origin of one's evolution;suffering, therefore, is reiterated by Nietzsche).

There are some journeys in life one has to make alone. There are stories of which, details do not need to be told. One day at a time, one has to make peace of the things that had been and the things that did not become and one day at a time, one has to move on for the great things that will be. Maybe one day, the stories will unfurl naturally, one blog entry at a time. For now, I apologize for slacking in my blog. I will get back on track in due time.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Mishaps In The Christmas Kitchen

A rather late post, because I was in the island for the holiday. There, it's a struggle to connect to the internet. I couldn't walk around the house with  my phone. It has to be strategically placed near windows on strategic parts of the house to get a better signal. Every blog entry I wanted to post was "patiently" on hold, because I could only connect - with limits - from my phone. In short, I could only read the stuff here and of the other sites, but quite a frustration to post an entry.

Anyway, one of the things I look forward on Christmas season is the getting together and doing things together part. From putting up the Christmas decors to cooking in the kitchen, then of course the best part of all, eating together. Lol.

This year, I was not able to help put up the Christmas decors at home in the province because I was in the city. The apartment in the city is also home, but we do not decorate it like we do in the family home and the only thing that represents the season are two Santa Claus figurines standing near the TV monitor on the cabinet. On special holidays like Christmas and New Year, we always go home to be with our parents, if the circumstances (e.g. weather and proximity [well, if we're in the country]) allow us.

Except for my brother who stayed in Cebu City because he had to work on Christmas day, all of us at home were doing our part in the kitchen the day before Christmas (that is when the magic in the kitchen happens). When you put people in a small area, on a fine busy day, with lots of things to do, temper could flare up. However, we have rule on times like this. To just “chill”, whatever happens. It is actually a rule initiated to keep my mother’s short temper under control (everyone who's aging, no matter how gracefully, are ultra sensitive to things, so...). As we were preparing the food for the Christmas feast, the rule came in handy to rein emotions (lol) when the following mishaps took place in the kitchen:

1.)    I managed to break the fiberglass chopping board while I cut the chicken bone with the force I exerted. The huge knife was somewhat heavy and the chicken bone was a little willful and did not want to be severed (lol). The chopping board were shattered into hundred shards, but thankfully they were not as fine and as scattered like the ordinary glass do when it breaks. However, I got so paranoid of the sting in my right eye after I broke it that I rushed upstairs to check in the mirror for any shard poking my eyeball. While climbing the staircase I was thinking, “If a broken glass flew in my eye, surely, it’s already bleeding by now, right?” That usually happens in movies, you know. You cannot fault me for thinking that. Lol.
2.)    I got too excited to cut the chicken parts that I also did the other chicken that was supposed to be grilled in the turbo broiler. There were two whole chickens. My sister, Moonyeen, cut the breast of the first one to be poached for the chicken macaroni salad and I cut the rest of the parts of the first one (thinking we will have breaded chickens) and did the other chicken. My mom was aghast with what I did. Well, she did not say in advance what the chickens were for! 
3.) Uh, the chicken macaroni salad...the pasta sort of looked inferior from too much mixing. The ingredients were put on installment instead of putting it one time, thus the pasta were torn by the grinding of the ladles. 
4.)    My sister, Kim, forgot to peel the skin of the peanuts before crushing them with mortar and pestle. The peanuts were used as garnish for my mom’s recipe, the Fresh Lumpia, to be served for the priests’ (who officiated the Christmas eve’s) dinner. I am not sure if the priests, and whoever ate the lumpias, noticed the unwanted peanut skin. I swear we tried straining it to save my sister’s skin (pun intended!) – a futile effort. My mom’s face crumpled, when my sister confessed her crime with a guilty grin. The crushed peanuts (let us not forget the skin) became one of those do-with-what-becomes-of-what-you-have stuffs.
5.) Because my mom hadn't made Fresh Lumpia for a long time and she's one cook who estimates measurement, she kind of messed up the wrapper and wasted a portion of the mixture from doing trial-and-error. I also have to blame the pan she used, it did not have a flat bottom. But, you make do of what you have, right?
6.)    My sister, Rikka, prematurely took the baked cake out from the oven. Wondering why it did not come out from the pan as she tried to turn it over the baking sheet, she poked the center with a knife and found it runny and uncooked. Like a lightning bolt, she quickly returned the cake in the oven before my mom could return to the kitchen. Our oven has no timer, so we keep track of the baking time and peek the look of whatever is baking through the glass door of the oven. Rikka was mesmerized with the beautiful brown cake with the top rising that she forgot something: looks can be deceiving!
7.)    My father flooded the tiled kitchen counter with oil. He accidentally swung his hand at the jar that contained the oil.
8.)    Because Rikka was so into frosting the cake ( a spur-of-the-moment thing supported by my other siblings and I because we like the fancy sound of it), but we had no whipping cream at home, so she whipped two tetra packs of frozen all purpose cream with lots of icing sugar. The mixture never hardened even until we set up the table for the midnight feast. BUT, as ingenious as always, she and Moonyeen thought of ways to have the Christmas color we wanted with the help of icing sugar and jelly candies (see the above picture!) What happened to the cream mixture? It hardened on time for Christmas day, looked and tasted like ice cream, that the slices of chiffon cake were topped off with it! But with the icing sugar in the mixture...too sweet for me. 

No flying pans. No angry words. Although we encountered some concerns in the kitchen, they did not ruin our Christmas. On the other hand, they made the Christmas 2015 more unforgettable, because we could look back at it with amusement. Also, we're grown-ups, but doing stuff in the kitchen on Christmas eve, we're all like kids again, bursting with excitement and prone to committing mistakes (lol). So, nope, the mishaps did not sound bad, they added color to the holiday, and they become part of the stories that will be served on the table for the years to come. 

All in all, though incomplete without my brother, it was a merry Christmas indeed! AND, I wish you had a lovely holiday from your side of the world. :)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Cebu City Christmas 2015: A Photo Blog Part 1

It's been a while, the second long hiatus for the year. Lol.

I promised to update photos for this season because the country which celebrates a loooong Christmas deserves to be highlighted and I'm hoping to make up for it.

But the photos I was supposed to take did not materialize, because: 1) I'm pressed for time, 2) due to some circumstances beyond my control, and 3) it's rainy season and some streets got flooded. 

Cebu City has an annual celebration every third Sunday of January in honor of Snr. Sto. Niño, the Sinulog Festival. So, the Christmas decorations in the city, lights and all, remain where they are until the end of January. The coming 2016 is extra special. The Catholic Church will hold the International Eucharistic Congress in the city. It will be very crowded with the influx of delegates for the congress, domestic and international tourists who will join the revelry, participants of the Grand Sinulog Parade, and devotees of the Patron Saint.

Why was I telling all that? Well, if you have the desire to come to Cebu City for the festival, you will still spot the scenes I have captured in my camera. But, you can probably do more justice with your camera than I did with mine.

So, here are some photos. More that I had neglected to capture, I'll do so after the holidays. Better late than sorry. Lol.

The picture says it all!

It's near the Crown Regency. Check this entry.

Every year, the same sponsor (a family of French descent that owns a jewelry shop, pawnshop, furniture and food company, etc.) puts up the Christmas tree. The design varies, though. Something to look forward to every year. The tree is set up inside the Fuente Osmeña Circle.

There is a lot going on here that my lens was not able to capture. A fountain with the flowing water. A variety show on the stage inside the circle. Food stalls. Lots of peeps just chillaxing and taking in the view and enjoying the cold weather.  Christmas lights hanging on trees. More lights on the iron fence of the circle.

The stretch of Osmeña Boulevard/Jones Avenue ('tis the old name, but people still use it).

The Cebu Provincial Capitol.

The stretch of Osmeña Boulevard/Jones Avenue ('tis the old name, but people still use it).

The Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.

And the church I frequently go to, the oldest in the city. It has a beautiful interior with antique religious relics and chandeliers. At the moment, masses are held in the pilgrimage center. Although people are allowed to go inside, it is still not safe with the church's ongoing renovation after it was damaged by the 2013 killer earthquake (the one that also hit Bohol).

Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño.

Pasko is Christmas in English.

And, lastly. Two huge malls recently opened, SM City Seaside (which said to be the 4th largest in the world and I have yet to visit) and Robinson's Galleria Cebu, which part of the interior is shown below.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Musings Re Facebook Tint

This period has heard a call to be true to one's self. There is an outcry to SPEAK. We are encourage to speak our truth, to voice out our opinion, to push our ideologies. Thus, anywhere in the internet we can read anything and everything, from the most important to the very trivial. Maybe it's good because it allows us to tell our stories and be a part of something and aid change.

However, in that wake, we are in haste to belong. Maybe on some cases we resonate to the cause (whatever that may be) and, the idea in which it has been founded echoes our sentiment. That's good because we have companies to rally with. Strength in numbers, shared ethos and zealousness - the very same factors that usher the movement of extremists - are fundamental requirements that drive a revolution.

In this era where everything seems seamlessly connected and the line of true identity that separates one from the rest is blurred, how do we sift the revolutionists from the junkies who just choose to belong "just because". Should we identify ourselves to what's popular, what's trending, what's common...because, you know, status quo and oh, "I'm doing it because everybody's doing it!". Blah. I sometimes wonder which is more tragic, being well-informed or being blissfully ignorant, being highly sensitive or being indifferent. If there's no absolute truth, there is no such thing then as rightful indignation?

I would leave the musings as they are rather than explain in long narrative my stance on the (no) Facebook tinted profile picture (in my opinion it promoted divisiveness), which the musings alluded to. Restrain is acutely painful when you have a lot to say. But sometimes, being unobtrusive is more empowering than being very opinionated.