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Ann Fulgado Jun 24, 2020

Dear Tatay,

Until now, I am always asking myself so many questions like: If you did not leave us, how many cups of coffee will you need to make me for my late night study session? Or until what time will you be awake just to accompany me? What rewards will you give me after I surpassed the hell week?

When you were ill, I learned a lot about your medications and what certain foods you should avoid. I really loved taking care of you and how you inspire me that someday, I will be that gorgeous doctor who flaunts her white coat and steth very well. Every time we go in and out of the hospital because of your condition, you have always said to me that maybe this is my early training (kilig naman ako don, Tay).

Tatay, I am currently in my third year in Pharmacy. Thanks to Nanay, she works hard to provide me both of my dream premed course and school. I wish I entered college a little earlier and maybe I could save you from the early call from heaven. I am learning a lot especially about your disease, I wish I could share it with you. I wish you are with me while I buy my Stabilo highlighters because you will be the one who will pay for it. If I ever had a line in heaven, we should practice patient counselling.

It’s been five years, five mundane years without you is really sorrowful. I miss those nights that you will cheer me up and utter, “Galingan mo, ikaw pa yung magpapagaling sa’kin.” This will be my ultimate drive to save other people’s lives because I cannot afford to see another daughter that is mourning for years and silently crying because they cannot even save their own father.

P.S. Your 3-in-1 coffee with kondensada tastes better than any SB beverage! The best!

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Abegail Naungayan May 30, 2020

TITLE: Good night

It was the morning of May 5; I went to the ICU to take the morning shift. I peeked from the sliding door and saw a female doctor and 3 nurses probably making their rounds. Half asleep, I entered the room not realizing what was happening. I sat in front of my grandma’s bed, waiting for the doctors to leave. My aunt was crying from the corner of the room, I thought that perhaps my grandma was deteriorating. Then the monitor on the upper left part of the bed kept beeping, then the lady in white coat announced “time of death 8:50”.

Everything froze, I didn’t understand a thing. I saw my aunt hug our grandma so tight, shaking out of grief and desperation. I sat there frozen and speechless, it was so surreal I thought it was a dream. My sister who was sitting beside me took a few heavy steps towards grandma’s bed. She hugged our grandma and whispered words lost in between her sobs.

When it was my time, I held her right hand, the hand I used to wipe and hold. It wasn’t cold, it was still warm, soft and wrinkly. The bruises from countless injections she endured. I pressed her hand trying to wake her up, more tears rolled when she wouldn’t respond. “Inang! Agriing kan a, bigaten!” (Granma wake up, it’s morning already) I wrapped my hands around her, she’s the same Inang I used to hug but this time she isn’t hugging me back. I tried to wake her up a couple more times more desperate than the last. I wanted to see those little eyes open again and look at me. I wanted her to ask me “apaya nakkong?” (why my dear?) once more. How about calling me miss Universe when she forgets my name. I loved her and will love her even if she calls me the wrong name.

I still remember the night she held my hands so tight she said “ haan nak panpanawan a, ta nu matay nak ket haan ko nga maymaysa.” (Please don’t leave me so that if I die, I will not be alone “I hope I fulfilled my promise to her I hope she didn’t die lonely but happy. The room was enveloped with grief engraved in the cries we made but in the middle of the room, there she lies. She laid still, she looked so serene and peaceful. It looked like she was having a good nap. It was the first time in years that I saw her sleep so tight.

After all the restless nights she can finally sleep. I wiped my tears as I marvel the way she looked. It was a painful but beautiful sight. I wanted her to wake up but how could I ask that if she looked so peaceful now? After all the pain she endured she is finally resting. I couldn’t ask her to come back when I know she’s in a better place. She is free now, free from pain and suffering. I stop waking her up and held her hand tightly, in between my cries I bid goodbye. To my dearest Inang Nani, go on find the light. I know Tatang and Tito are waiting for your arrival. Rest well Inang, Good night.

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Ivah Ely May 25, 2020

Forget Me Not: A forgotten entry in Tokyo

Watching well-made films often fuel the desire for adventure and excitement in our own lives. Like many in their youth, I've felt that childlike feeling of seeing myself as the main character in my own movie. The genres often change with time and it goes from comedy to tragedy really quick. I used to think that if I closed my eyes for too long, I'd miss the best parts. That if I close my eyes then I'd be covering the lens to the camera in my mind. But I also believed that I could dream about what I see again when I lay my head to sleep at nights or that I can re-watch all my memories after I die. But now that I'm older reality has a tighter grasp on my throat as I trudge my rocky road to adulthood. My memory is failing me. I write this entry for that reason. Because I am scared to forget. I was emotionally and mentally worn. I didn't know it at the time but I desperately needed that feeling of childlikeness again.

Senior high school came with so much unnecessary pain and pressure that I didn't realize I was gasping for air. I always sat by the window to stare out during class as the voice of my teacher became background noise that faded into my daydreams. Before I knew it, I was packing a small backpack in the middle of the semester on a cold November evening to go on a trip to Tokyo. This time it wasn't a dream and it felt as if time stood still.

While my friends and classmates were back home in their classrooms going on with their lives and schoolwork, I on the other hand was two-thousand miles away in a foreign land with a foreign language where my basic knowledge was not enough for me to survive on my own. Like passing through the Torii gate which the Japanese believe brings humans into the land of the spirits, I was in a new world. The breeze felt like a cold nip at the tip of my nose as autumn was nearing winter but I've never breathed in air fresher. I was welcomed into a small and warm Japanese home with lovely little folded cranes on a humble dinner table.

My aunt who was far lovelier and even more vibrant than the colors on the delicately folded cranes was there to welcome me as well. The paper cranes weren't the only things she prepared for my one-week stay. On a little pink card, she had my name along with my Tokyo address handwritten in Japanese for our rides on the bus & bullet train; and in case I get lost. She also prepared a small pink pouch with cute yellow elephants on it. The pouch was filled with coins of different amounts. The coins were for me to spend freely on drinks and snacks in vending machines. It was all more than enough since beforehand she already prepared us 2 weeks' worth of snacks for my 1-week stay. On top of all that she prepared winter clothes since I traveled light and she insisted that I wear the pink parka that she brought before I came over. I find it funny that she still thinks I like pink but it's still just like the good old days. She's still one of the most thoughtful people I know. My aunt is a missionary in Japan and has always been like a mother and a friend to me. I sobbed like a baby in front of a thousand-member congregation on the day my family and I sent her off. A few years later, with my father being our Church's missions pastor, I was given the opportunity to travel to Tokyo and see her. Seeing her again was bittersweet. It's sweet since she raised me and is a big part of who I am and my interests today. But bitter because it hits you like a ton of bricks when you notice someone you love is has gotten older or weaker. Don't we all feel that at some point with our parents and guardians? On my father's side of the family, we have issues of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Dementia. It's hard to pretend that it doesn't hurt that after years of being with my grandma, she doesn't know who I am. As for my dad, on top of having Parkinson's he is starting to show early signs of dementia too. It's scary how quickly one can forget decades worth of memories. I wonder if I may go through that as well one day.

At the time these thoughts were overshadowed by the magical Disneyland rides and digital museums, sights like Mt. Fuji as well as traditional and Modern Japanese Architecture, pictures we took at the iconic Hachiko shrine, and Shibuya crosswalk, and even the small oddities of Harajuku fashion and merchandise. I took as many pictures every chance I could get. I wrote in my digital journal with plans to make a picture journal when I get back home. Japan was quite the story to tell that I believe rekindled my childlike spirit. Before we knew it, the week ended and I was packing once again. This time my luggage was more than twice as heavy and the destination this time was home. I dreaded leaving Japan but I dreaded leaving my aunt more. I didn't get to say a proper goodbye to her at the airport due to my not knowing that she was only allowed to see me off until a certain point. I cried on the flight back while holding a giant Donald duck stuffed toy as I just imagined her going to her small Tokyo home alone. I also cried since soon I'd have to face reality once again. After hours of travel I found myself back home in the all too familiar Baguio. But I was in distress. It wasn't because my lungs were starting to forget what clean air felt like or that I'm missing the life I've lived for the past week. But I was in distress because I couldn't find my phone. Why was that the biggest problem in the world to me at the time? It was because of the pictures and notes that were lost with it. All the pictures I took and the notes of the smallest details were a blurry mess amidst the panic in my brain. I never posted anything because I wanted to live in the time there and not worry about anything back home or anyone knowing what I've been up to. But what haunts me is that I don't remember a single one of the pictures I took. I was so sure that I'd be able to go over them when I get back home. I don't want to forget. It's been 550 days and it still bothers me. It's been 550 days and it's only now that I realize the lesson of this story as I write this.

As scary as it is to forget memories, we have to understand when we have to hold on to something and when it's okay to forget. I tried for weeks to somehow recover the pictures on iCloud but to no avail. We may not be able to fix the mistakes of the past or avoid misfortune that is out of our hands but what we can do is to move forward and make more memories that are worth remembering. Treasure the beautiful moments and the lessons from the terrible times. Cherish them and fight to keep these memories on the surface. If you find that difficult to do then strive to tell your stories to others. Because in the times that we forget, then we have others will remember our legacy. We can't be sure about what happens next though we can plan all we want. Often life doesn't have spoilers and may have a plot twist around the corner. As for me, I may never find those photos again but I made it a goal to one day come back to Tokyo and make more memories. That is a promise that I won't forget.

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Fortress Two pillars that held my breaking walls

When I was in high school I knew for a fact that I was the trouble maker in our family. “Girls are supposed to be modest and calm” they said. I, the only daughter in a family of 6, intentionally broke that stereotype. I would go home late at night, lie to my parents and I would even put my friends first before attending family gatherings.

The reason behind those decisions were petty fights I found myself in between me and my parents. I remember seeing their way of teaching me morals and values as oppression and abuse when I was a kid. They managed to make all my brothers obey them, but no- they didn’t get their so-called-princess to comply. I somehow told myself that they were in the way of my character development so I was so eager to look for my identity outside my home. After high school, I moved to Baguio for college. The surrounding was new, the people were foreign and there was no one holding me back. It felt new to me, but in a good way. Little did I know that living alone was a nightmare. Dad wasn’t there to cook for me, Mom wasn’t there to clean the mess in my dorm and what I oddly missed most, is washing the dishes pre-cleaned by my mom.

Days when I got sick were worse, I cried myself to sleep one time not because of how high my fever was, but because whenever any of us got sick, my mom would lay next to us while we were sleeping and whisper a prayer asking God to heal us, but that time it was just me, my tear-soaked pillow, and to make myself more emotional, a picture of my parents in between my hands. I was homesick almost everyday. So I made it a part of my routine to call my parents every single day and I would make “tampo” whenever they hang up saying “may trabaho pa ako anak”.

Come to think of it, I hate myself for saying I love you to my parents more through texts and calls than in person. In the span of my first semester in college, I realized how dependent I was on my parents without knowing it. Whenever school works got rough, no one could comfort me better than my parents. The sound of their voice was enough for me to continue fighting. It was difficult for me to adjust to college, and I broke down easily. My emotions were as beaten up as a punching bag. I was mentally and emotionally tired. Every. Single. Day. What kept me together, were these two pillars. One I call mom and the other I call dad. I can’t say moving to Baguio for college was a mistake, in fact it was a life changing decision for me. It made me realize to value my parents while I still have them.

I realized that when I turned my back on my parents, I forgot the good things they did in my life. Because of them, I have brothers who I can wrestle can with as well as those who mess with me at the same time. They brought me closer to the cross and protected me. They sacrificed so much that it makes me want to live my life to the fullest, for them. Ma, Pa, in this world full of chaos, I cannot be more happy that I found my fortress in your love.

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Angel Aguila May 14, 2020

Life doesn’t come with warnings. This is the thing that I learned last May 8th, 2020 – the day that my mother passed away.

Before that tragic day, I still remember every conversation that I had with her as she laid on her bed. We talked about my graduation, the law school I should take into account when I finally finish my undergraduate, the color of nail polish that she wants me to put on her toenails, how she cooks our favorite food and so many more.

The days prior to her death – she looked happier, even healthier when her illness started to take a toll on her. I could see the glint in her eyes; her precious smile and hear her small yet infectious laughter. She could even recount every memory down to the smallest details of it whenever we showed her our childhood pictures. She never showed any sign that her time was coming to an end. Until we rushed her to the hospital and I was there, staying by her side and hugging her cold body.

She had cystic mass, ovarian in nature and it was hurting her so much. Due to the pandemic, we had to take precautionary measures before we were able to send her to the ER. While my father was talking to the authorities, I was inside the car with my mom. She was moaning in pain and I remember feeling so helpless and useless because I could not take her pain away. Yet, I asked her, “Kaya mo yung surgery diba, Ma?” and without hesitation, she nodded eagerly.

My mother was the strongest woman I know. Even when she started to get severely sick, she never once cried. Even when we were inside the car and I was holding her in my arms, she did not cry. She probably knew that if she did, then all of us would fall to our knees. So, even in her last moments, she was a mother through and through – she fought but not all battles are won.

When the doctor told me the news, I didn’t know what to feel. I cried like I have never cried before. My father, who was with me when the doctor told the news, held me as I cried and told me that I had to be strong. That I did because after that, I had to set aside my grief and work on several paperwork. I couldn’t feel the exhaustion; I couldn’t even feel the heat. When we got home after we sent our mother to the funeral home to be cremated, everything felt so different. It’s so crazy how the place I have been calling “home” for the past twenty years don’t feel like one anymore. Suddenly, it feels empty. Suddenly, it feels cold and it feels lonely. Yet again, I don’t have the time to grieve my mother because there are academic works to be done. Before writing this, I even had my finals in one of my subjects.

Its hard losing someone you really love and you are really close with. It feels like you’re in a limbo, unable to do anything. Even speaking is so hard to do. Suddenly, there’s no one nagging at you for sleeping in so late. There’s no one you’re going to come home to and rant to. The nightly trips to buy my baon for school (even when I am already in college) will be a one-man job from now on. The only consolation that we have now is that we know that our mother is in a better place now. She’s not in pain anymore and she’s with our lola and uncle, finally. Thank you, Mama, kasi kahit sa huling sandali ng buhay mo lumaban ka para saamin.

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Venise Cruz May 10, 2020
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I was, but I am not. Desperately, I am trying to reach you – my hope. I am in this particular space in my own constructed world where doubts and frustrations recur. Emphasizing how scared I am being here, I never explored this area before. I was always in those places filled with benevolence, hope shining like the light the sun and the moon possess. And I didn’t have any plans to visit a ‘dark’ place, as how I described it then. But, as funny as how my world suddenly flipped, I am now here, completely lost with monsters persuading me to go insane.

How did I end up here? I can’t logically tell you the answer for that, but I guess, I know when. It started when I had to consider what college course do I want to pursue. Well, if you want to ask what ambition had occurred in my mind when I was young – which is usually the case in terms of life when you were like 7-year-old young - it was definitely being a doctor. I’d thought about wearing a medical coat with a stethoscope around my neck, ready to cure people from their illnesses. It was actually stuck in my mind for so long I almost thought that I was sure of it, yet, as a particular song yields, almost was never really enough and still, it is and will never be.

When I realized that such a perspective was slowly draining me, I tried my best to stand tough. I convinced myself that this was just temporary, that I could think of a way out of this. “There’s still plenty of time,” I once convinced myself. However, my environment demonstrated the contrary: I felt like I was completely out of time.

I was there when my classmates were happily talking about that ‘dream course’ they wish to take in their ‘dream university.’ I was there when my family was suggesting the thought of using my ‘suitable’ speaking voice for broadcasting and voice acting purposes. I was there when my teacher was convincing me that Education suited me the best. That ‘Stand tough!’ aura I used to own back then, suddenly transformed into ‘I give up!’ state, slowly destroying my being. And now, I am here in this space where doubts and frustrations are filling my former enthusiastic self. I need help.

I know, at this point, some of you may never consider me ‘fatal’ because, as you’re reading this, you may judge that I still have the ability to transform my thoughts into words that can be read, so that ‘automatically’ falls into the aspect of complete sanity. No, because I will never tell everything to you in the first place if I still have the urge to stand like I used to, relative to my belief that speaking up through writing is the best way to attract help.

When you look at the photo of mine above, you may say that I was okay. That I was successful. That I was never losing myself. Yes, I was. But, think about what happened days after that was taken and the message of this passage you started reading minutes before, do you think I am still the same girl smiling in the photo? I hope I will be or better yet, improve if the world will permit me. But, now I’m sure – I’m not the same.


This blog is dedicated to all teens out there struggling in determining what they really want in their life or if you simply want a glow up. And since were still facing a pandemic, I think this is also a season where everyone is re-thinking about their lives. So, I hope these advices might help you.

Tip #1. TAKE RISK - since most of you are still young, I advice you to take your biggest risk. Whether it may be taking the course you want, a skill you want to acquire or just simply taking the risk to throw away your emotional baggage from your childhood. While you're still young, you have very little to lose. You dont have that much commitments and responsibilities. Because the older you get, the more responsibilities and obligations came. So when they are still not piling up, take the risk! As for me, the biggest risk I took when I was still a teenager is to CUT OFF TOXIC FAMILY TIES.

I may sound rude here but, yeah. I decided to throw away my emotional baggage from my traumatic childhood and cut off some of my family ties and it is completely okay! You dont have to be bothered by whatever they will say. Because at your age, you are already investing on your growth as a person. If you really want to grow, THERE IS NO PERFECT TIME FOR YOU TO TAKE RISK BUT NOW. Because in taking risk you are actually giving yourself a reward of getting something amazing or beyond what you expect you can have. As they say, the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. Keep in mind that the bigger the risk, the bigger possibility of FAILURE. But that is completely OKAY. Because just like what I said earlier, you are still young. You dont have so much to lose so, dont be afraid to take the risk and then fail. But after failing, learn from it and the more courage you have to take risk the greater the learning, reward or happiness. Ito na nga, how to take risk nga ba? And what are the risk that would actually help me to grow? #

2: VOICE LESSON - dont get me wrong, hindi ito vocalization para sa pagkanta. What I mean is, learn to listen to that VOICE INSIDE YOU. Listen to your heart, to your intuition and to your visions because it will be your GUIDE. Because I realize that as you go along your journey of your life and if you really want to be YOURSELF and be successful in achieving your goals, the only GUIDE that you should follow is your OWN VOICE.

It is okay to take and consider other people's advices but at the end of the day,you should never forget to listen to your own voice. Because that voice is what tells you what you truly want. How would you know that if it is your 'own' voice? Your own voice always comes from your HEART. The voice where YOU and GOD'S voice are one. Because I firmly believe that God knows your heart and that is where he reside. I like journaling because whenever I journal my thought every night and every morning, I feel a dual voice inside my head. Like, it contradicts what the other voice is telling. For example: If we have dreams or goals that puts us so much weight and pressure to the point that it makes you exhausted, STOP. Because it might be a dream or goal of someone else. I believe that your own dreams and goals may be frustrating most of the time, but that frustration has fueling feeling that will always tell you that 'This is the hard way to better so keep going'. Frustration in your own dreams will not make you feel exhausted because achieving a dream itself is a fulfilling feeling.

#3. TAKE ACTION - if you really want something to happen, take action. Dont just sit there and wait things to come your way. Make action or decisions that will take you to where you want to go in your life. Just like what I said in one of my novels that I am writing in wattpad, "There is no such thing as destiny or fate. Because YOU make your OWN life choices." For example, I cannot expect to be a published author if I dont write any novels right? The bottomline here is, if you are not moving forward you are actually moving backward. And it is a sad thing. Life is full of situations where you will be put in the line whether you take courage or just stay where you are. Because GROWING needs consistency in moving forward. So if you dont have to enough courage to take action, your life will always stay the same or worse you will continuously shrink down.

#4. EXPAND YOUR HORIZONS - this means stretching your comfort zone. I watched an anime entitled "Black Clover" there is a captain there where he always tell his subordinates to surpass their limits right, here right now. Going out of our comfort zones are surely scary and uncomfortable. But you have to accept the fact that you cannot stay on the coast forever. You have to change, because the only thing that is constant in this world is change right? Go out of your comfort zones because LIMITS are just in the MIND. There are disabled people who are successful in their own careers. Because the lesson here is, if you hold back there will be no growth. Because GROWTH blooms in DISCOMFORT.

Last, #5. INVEST IN YOURSELF - especially now that you are still young, you should focus on investing on yourself more. Time is your bestfriend at this point of your life. You have so much time to discover things about yourself. I never regret buying and reading books that I never knew will help me later on in dealing life's challenges. You can use that time to read books, gain wisdom, or pick a new skill, improve your talent and learn from your experiences. Keep learning outside your home or your school. Because the real battlefield is OUTSIDE. What you learn in school will only help you in your career but your wisdom and experiences will help you in life or as a person. People who doesnt embrace growth will never succeed in their life. (This is a reflection blog from my 21st birthday last week. I hope you can feature this on your page and I hope it can help others as well. )

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