I know what you feel right now. You're tired. You're upset. You're close to breaking. And you want to cry. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your sacrifices - all your hardships and sleepless nights. Thank you for risking your lives for us even if it means not seeing your family for a long time. Let me also say sorry for the people who don't appreciate your efforts, those who still go to the streets and violate rules and those who disrespect and criticize you and then blame you about their disappointments to the government. You don't deserve all these.
But I know that you are convincing yourself to hold on and just be strong even if you are hurting. And I admire you more for that. I admire your courage to face these challenges. Looking at how you selflessly do your jobs, I want to tell you that I am proud of you. If there are days that you want to give up, please remember that we are praying for you and we are with you on this journey.
And when the time comes that COVID-19 ends and social distancing is over, you deserve a group hug and a heroes' welcome. For now, please take care of yourselves because your families are waiting for you to come home.
An Open Letter To My Unexpected Friend (Feb, 2018)
*Trigger warning: Post mentions suicidal thoughts.
I was busy thinking 'bout how I would end my life when suddenly you came into the picture and told me how wonderful it is to live in this world. Remember when I told you a story about my favorite artist, Curtismith? We've known each other for years, but we haven't done any "date" yet. But you know what's memorable for me? Your tears. Your tears for me. I'm telling you a story about my burdens when suddenly you became teary eyed. "Wag mo i-down yung sarili mo. Atleast ikaw, kaya mo i-express in words yung nararamdaman mo." I'll never forget that, friend. And I thank you for that. You don't know how that statement of yours gave me hope and courage to never stop my passion. You made me realized that I should never doubt myself. So in return, I'll always be your mentor in terms of having a good handwriting-- just kidding. Hoping to have more "dates" with you. Let's talk about your love story and my dramas in life. We may not be friends since day 1 of our college life, you may be my unexpected friend, but I promise that you'll always have that one special place in my heart.
Days and nights have been rough these past few days with the on-going pandemic and here I am, missing things in the outside world but mostly, I miss your touch, your scent, your random kisses on my forehead, and just, everything about you. Every single day I wonder when we’re able to spend another karaoke session together, singing our go-to karaoke songs, or perhaps another spontaneous rendezvous after class, even though I want you to spend more time with your friends instead of spending time with me.
Tintin, times are extremely hard right now; the world is in a chaotic mess but in you, I see a glimmer of hope. In days that I hear your voice over the phone, see your face on the screen as we study all night long, and play silly online games with you, somehow, I feel a little bit lighter. Seeing your name light up on my phone the first thing in the morning is yet, by far, the best feeling that makes most of my days. On a normal, quarantine-free day, with nothing to do, we would go to the mall, and take little walks and small talks. Do you remember that one time we watched that one movie and you sang the theme song out of nowhere? "ganito man ako, simpleng tao, ang maipagyayabang ko lang sa 'yo (ay ang) pag-ibig ko sa 'yo na 'di magbabago" and boy, you are the epitome of that song. Remember, you would always buy me street food and as simple as that, you made me fall in love with you. There is nothing a woman would want more than a simple man with principles in his life. You need not apologize just because street food is all you can afford for me.
Love isn’t about money because love is simply this: telling me how proud you are of me regardless how little my accomplishments are, and making sure to bond with my friends and family, especially with my brother. SHOUTOUT TO MY BROTHER (@JOSE LUIS MIGUEL TOBIAS) alam ko magagalit ka for tagging you, but i'm tagging you anyway hahhaha (sana ma-appreciate mo na pagreach out nya sayo kahit na busy ka sa plates) At the end of everything we are facing right now, I promise to make up each day we missed during this pandemic. I hope you stay safe; we will see each other soon. ???
A Self-Love Letter: Learning to Embrace My Own Skin
The air. Scientists would always say it`s made up of methane, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and things I could not understand, for it is just constantly breezing, kissing, and touching me in dreams and places I dwell. Perhaps, I'm used to it. I really am, I thought. Yet, it does not feel the same as much as yesterday. - different but same skin, yours truly One year, self.
It’s been quite a long time since I last wrote out my heart to you: of things that made me feel warm and blue, of thoughts that left me in bewilderment and haze, and of you— my love, who never ceased to embrace her endeavours, and breathe, breathe along what life brings her. But, I guess beauty is not only congruent to the sun when it rises at dawn and casts hues of roseating rays, for I have come to mind that it’s also at that time, when I would not feel my skin in the verge of giving it all up. Sorry, if that’s the word. Just like an outpouring water from a cup, I was blinded by the face of your dreams that every word would be an understatement to tell you how sorry I am for burning you out and for pushing you off to your limits when you were trying to pursue things in one stone.
I should've cared about your mental health more. In the past days when I did not get to ask how you were doing and to tell you how an ethereal woman you really are when you felt rejected, I want you to know that from this day forward- I'll love you even more: your unclear skin, your messy and curly hair, your weird laugh and yes, even your oddness in an outgoing way. But, I am proud.
Even though you may have been venturing along the tendrils of life, you still keep a strong heart and believe— believe that there is always beauty in everything, like facing your fears and doing things beyond your comfort zone. It makes me genuinely happy how many parts of you have changed for the better. I love you for having the courage to make it up to yourself. Despite your downfalls and shortcomings, you believed that there's more to life than dwelling in distress alone. Always remember than you are a brave and wonderful woman, for you are created by Him for a reason, and that's something for you to be resilient. And, self.., as you chase your endeavours, I hope that you will never forget the things and values that moved you to live on, the people who came and left that embedded a mark on your identity and then, the sun and the moon for reminding you that even in darkness, light is at its zenith and it’s metaphorically telling you that you can still shine even if things seem to devoid you, for you are more than what you think during hard times. I love you, beautiful. Now and then.
As we all grow older, the value of money goes higher. Some people are born with rarely no money to spare, some people have some money and some people have the most money. I believe that those people who says that money can buy you happiness are the people who have the most money and can buy literally everything they want but for some people, money can’t buy happiness. I am one of those ‘some people’ and it took one man to enter my life for me to realize that with love comes eternal happiness.
With J, every little thing he did with me felt magical. One time, in the midst of our walk, we passed by sets of street food stall lined up on the sidewalks. The pungent smell of kikiam, fishball, hotdog, barbecue, and kwek-kwek filled my nose and the noise of cooking oil in wok pans and deep fryers filled my ears. I couldn’t help but notice J's eyes fixated on the lines of street food in front of us. I knew he wanted to eat some and who was I to stop him from doing so? With a gentle squeeze on my hand, he turned to me and asked me if I wanted some street food and with a smile, I told him yes. J lead me to one of the stalls, his hand still intertwined in mine. I trailed behind him like a lost puppy. In a few moments, he began speaking to the street food vendors and I just listened to their short conversations in regards with ordering the street food. I remember him telling me once that these foods were his meals most of the time every day. It’s no wonder why he talks so much to them with ease like a pro. From then on, buying street food on our way home became part of our daily routine. One day, when he handed me my food, an uneasy smile landed on his lips. I asked him what was wrong and he just told me he was sorry.
“Why are you sorry?” I asked.
“I’m sorry this is all I could afford to buy for you.”
My heart clenched at his words. “You shouldn’t be ashamed of anything. I don’t care about expensive dates or whatnot. All I care about is going on little dates like this with you and only you because that’s all that matters. This is enough for me. I don’t need expensive things and expensive dates. You’re more than what money could give.”
With much reassurance, he cracked open a smile. I could see in his eyes he was thankful for the things I told him and of course, for me. Everything I told him was true. I didn’t care about the money, all I cared was to be with him and only him; and in order for this friendship to work, we needed to be there for each other no matter what the circumstances are and what they may be in the future. Our little dates continued outside the perimeter of the streets we walk on. On weekends, when we have no classes, I would lie to my parents to get out of the house just to spend the day with J. We would have our long talks about the things going on in our life and our inside jokes only both of us know over food and food trips. One time at school, he bought me a bottle of water, my favorite donut and a bibingka and made my heart flutter.
Here in the Philippines, there is this tradition called the Simbang Gabi where Roman Catholics wake up early in the morning so that they can attend mass at four in the morning. There is this saying that if you complete Simbang Gabi, then your wish will come true. So, that’s what I did. I attended Simbang Gabi every day for nine days even though I was not that religious just so I could pray for us and hopefully grant my wish. J, holds a very special place in my heart. We may not have the most perfect friendship, but we make one hell of a good team. And I will continue loving him as long as I’m still counting days and nights.
By: Jairus Gabriel A. Cardinoza
With the world suffering by crisis and chaos today, where everyone of us seems to be caged, may be in our home, in our thoughts, with our regrets, or even with someone whom we can never have, while sulking in our house with our home works and household choirs, there are those idle moments when I stop and stare into oblivion, I can’t help but to think about those moments where we are the happiest, or we are the most sad, we have our own highlights of our life, either our downfall or shortcomings, sometimes our triumphs, but how about those moments caught in between but played as much as important episode to those we remember the most?
Sometimes you can’t help but to think about those moments in between. We think that our life is built by big moments, but little do we realized how little they play in our lives, we barely even consider the little things, that made a huge impact in our lives, maybe it wasn’t about the medal you’ve got from winning an essay contest, but the stranger who let you borrow his/her pen because you forgot yours at home, maybe it wasn’t the brand new watch that your parents gave you as a present but the person that you saved unconsciously, asking you what time is it because he/she was worried he/she might be late for the class.
Admit it, or not, we have all took those moments for granted, those moments when everything is in between. In times like this, where a crisis is on the midst, our mind often wanders elsewhere, there will always be that moments that the silence of our room will be filled by the cacophonies of our thoughts that strangle us in the subtle ways. The only solace we could find in this misery is sometimes our memories, not the big ones but those moments we once thought idle, who would have guess that the last time you drink your favorite coffee was a month ago, or the comfort of your favorite street you passed after school, hoping you could meet the person you want to talked to accidentally, the way you rush to the favorite fast food chain after a tiring day, hoping for a cone of ice cream, our life will always be built by these moments.
There will always be something in between, that stiches two extremes into a one fine art, between love and pain, there is learning, the midnight always reminds us that yesterday is over but there is always a tomorrow waiting for us to rise, between our dreams and our failures, there is hope, the wisest person sometimes understand that life is a prism, it can blind us with all the colors and wonders of its side, but there is one source of light that made all those colors possible. Take a chance to be that light, that sees not only the parts that we hide, nor the highlights of our lives but those moments of everything in between.
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.
Loneliness that Turned into Beautiful Solitude
Are you one of those many people who experienced loneliness? The moment where you do not have someone else to rely on. Have you experienced it? Going home with a lot of thoughts running in your mind but no one was there to listen. Have you ever felt bad for yourself? In realizing that you were the only one left. When every one else was leaving. When most people around you have chosen others over you. Have you experienced the pain? The pain of being alone? A lot of people are afraid to be alone for various reasons. Some people says that they are just used to something that there is always someone out there for them. Someone who is always there. Someone who is always ready to accompany them in all. Someone who is always willing to stay. Stays in your best and most especially at your worst. While others simply do not have the courage to face the world of loneliness. I, experienced the pain of loneliness but gained a lot of benefit from it.
Living alone is not a simple thing for me to do but for me to survive and acquire proper education, I have to. I have to learn to live alone. In living alone, I had face a lot of difficulties. I encountered a lot of problems that were made to be fixed by many but was able to get it fixed by myself. Yes it was hard, it is hard. It was never easy to begin with. There will be times or days that it can make you drain and cause you countless sleepless nights. Yes, it is painful. But we have to realize that in loneliness, we can also find peace in ourselves. The "YOU". The genuine "YOU".
People are so afraid to experience loneliness. Most of us do not realize that with so much fear of being alone, we started to forget that good things come from being alone. As time pass by, I got used in solving problems by myself, I learned to live alone, I saw the "beauty of loneliness" that's how my loneliness slowly turned into beautiful solitude. As time passes by, I realized that there are a lot of good things that you can get in being alone. So, for those who are reading this, I hope you guys learn to appreciate the beauty of being alone.
Old is New
The issue of the pandemic, COVID-19, have resulted to quarantine. Stuck in the house and only going out when needed. This may be a boring routine but to me, this is an opportunity to get to take care of myself and pay attention to myself.
Since I started college in 2019, I rarely get to do any of my hobbies and sleep has become a diamond in the rough. This is because I was focused on my classes and getting my school requirements done but now that face-to-face classes have been suspended and the school has decided to resume it through the use of the internet, this gave me time check on myself even if it's only for a short while before I get back on finishing the tasks given.
For the passed months I have been spending time with my family, eating, and sleeping more along with doing my school requirements. We got to get to tell stories about what has happened before the quarantine. I have also gotten back to recording songs in Smule, an app I use a lot before, learned a few recipes and I have even started learning songs to play on my piano keyboard.
Since we're in quarantine, I recommend everyone to try and get back to what they like doing and/or even learn new things. My sister heard me trying to learn a song and asked me to teach her, so I did just that. I taught her a song she wanted to learn which is "Love Is All That Matters" by Eric Carmen. But I am not a professional, I mostly search for sheet music and tutorials on YouTube.
When it comes to learning a song, I usually only learn the chords and sing along to the melody, but my sister wanted to learn the whole song so I did my best to learn not just the chords but also the melody on the piano. My sister has only learned to play the melody but is having a hard time playing it together with the chords. I can see her determination in learning the piano because whenever she comes home from work, I hear her practice the song on the piano and every time she practices, she improves.
Me, on the other hand, have been and singing with my friends on Smule. Despite the pandemic going on right now, I have managed to go back to my old hobbies, pay attention to myself and even spend time with my family. I hope everyone is also for happiness during this dreadful times.
Things Every Titas of K-pop Went Through
For someone who has been a K-pop fan since 2009, I’ve witnessed how the Korean wave continuously stayed on our shores and how it blossomed from the 2nd generation of K-pop Idols to the 3rd generation. And before we can even enjoy social media and live-streaming today, we had a hard time fangirling back then and here, I’ve listed the struggles only Titas of K-pop can relate to.
1. Dealing with a slow internet connection
For some reason, the internet back then was significantly slower than it is today. Youtube videos take too long to load and watching your favorite Korean music show online requires you to dwell on the never-ending buffering that the slow internet connection gives. Patience is a virtue, sis!
2. Downloading k-pop songs
Before we can even enjoy the existence of Spotify, the only way to revel in our favorite k-pop songs multiple times is to have them downloaded or sometimes, you have to buy the physical album first and have the songs ripped from the CD. The struggle is real, I know!
3. Your favorite k-pop group just don’t visit your country
Since K-pop is still not popular in the country back then, when your favorite K-pop group announces world tour, there’s a zero probability that you will get to see your bias in the flesh because Philippines is not always a part of their tour. It’s seriously heartbreaking, tbh!
4. Buying a merch is a rough quest
Few years ago, K-pop was not as popular than it is now, so there are only few k-pop shops online who ship merchs in the Philippines but when they do, the shipping fee is way too expensive and sometimes they cost more than the merchandise itself. But now, you can drop by Divisoria or anywhere in Manila and you’ll find a k-pop merch at a cheap price! Imagine!
5. Watching videos without subtitles
The struggle is real when the most anticipated appearance of your idol on a TV show comes out only to find out that there are no subtitles! So you just end up waiting for someone to upload the subtitles and for the extreme level, you find time in learning the Korean language and wish to speak Korean so you can watch in peace. To become a fan might be one of the most challenging roles to play but believe me when I say that it is just one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
/Cover photo from SM Entertainment