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.
2020 had been a roller coaster ride for everybody but despite everything, I believe all will be alright in time. I can't choose one picture so I just made a collage, hope it's okay.
Our Japan trip last January also gave us a hella ride, because day before our Departure the Taal eruption happened and we had to rebooked our tickets and all. We were also given an option to re-sched our trip to March but thankfully we didn't coz the ECQ happened and we haven't have made it if we re-scheduled our trip. All of it was worth it. Months of preparation, of saving money, of completing requirements. All worth it, coz that trip had made our family more connected, plus my lola enjoyed it. My heart is full. Better days are coming, that's a fact. More trips to come. :)
"Empowered women, empower women."
I strongly believe that there are still days that weigh us down because of our limitations, weaknesses and insecurities and we still can't help comparing ourselves to others, but that's totally fine and I'm telling you those days shall pass.
You should also know this, Empowered Women, you don't always have to be strong for others, you can't be everything to everyone. If you wanna cry, cry your heart out, it is never a sign of weakness, it is actually empowering you to honor your emotions and that they are valid. If you wanna be alone, away from all the drama, go far, but always remember to take your heart with you and that whatever you do, make sure it makes you happy.
So I would like to dedicate this post to all women, wherever you are, whoever you are, whoever you want to become, just be confident, always be happy because you deserve it, don't settle for less, know your standards, keep your eyes focus on God and on the now, and remember that you deserve a love you are so willing to give. YOU ARE WORTHY! ??
(Video taken at Bulgari Resort, Bali, Indonesia)
This photo was taken during our travel vlog for a project in Filipino. We showed the beautiful side of Batangas. This was my outfit when we went to Fantasy World. My group mates and I decided to go to Fantasy World because we really wanted to see the abandoned theme park. Fantasy World is in my bucket list and I am so happy to be able to witness the beauty of the place. It's really unforgettable. Everything is beautiful.
People often ask me why I love oceans so much, that every time I feel sad I can only think of it. I never really thought of it until that one time I felt nothing but emptiness and all I can ever think was escaping reality, luckily my family decided to visit the beach on a Saturday and I came. I always loved the ocean even when I was a kid but I never really knew why I loved the ocean so much until that day. I was sitting in the swing while my family bond with each other, I looked at them and I smiled. I wanted to roam around but lead me in front of the beach. I sat down and just stared. Me and the ocean, I sighed and thought “beautiful” and at that moment all I felt was peace as if the wind took away all the baggage I was carrying inside of me, all my mean thoughts about me suddenly were washed away by the waves, my heart and mind were at peace, I was home.
You see because of that, I wanted to be free like the ocean. free from my own thoughts that are too deep that sometimes I get eaten by my own emotions. I wanted to be free from the standards of people I can never reach and be tough like the sand that no matter how hard the waves hit her, she never surrenders. I wanted to be the ocean, and so I did. To be the ocean, I accepted that I was deep, people might be scared to discover it but there are always those people who are mesmerized by it and at the same time I was the sand, no matter how hard life is, I never quit yet just flowed with it. The ocean was home and so I became home. it doesn’t matter what I do, or where I go, or how hard the waves hit my skin, every time I walk along the shore or sit there and stare, it was the place where I discovered so much more of myself, it was the place where I most felt alive, and so people ask me why? because every time I visit it, I was my best self, I was me and I was home.
Literally to begin with, I am writing with little shaky hands because this is the last time I went for a vacation like most of us must have and can’t plan any for now. The coronavirus outbreak has compelled us to stay at home for our safety and others in the vicinity.
I remember how I penned down my year 2020 to be the most remarkable year of my life in the hope of doing everything I desired for a long time and overcoming few obstacles. Whilst planning things ahead, I forgot to truly value all of things in the present.
I remember being chipper and grateful for my last summer vacation but now I feel I should’ve valued each and every moment. Considering the current gnarly situation, I want each one us to motivate ourselves to look for a positive side and to make the most of our time no matter the situation.
Make a promise to yourself that you won’t give up in these circumstances and reckon that there are a lot of good things for us in the store. We’ll have the most amazing season of our life post pandemic. Let’s accept for the change and become the change. Propagate love and only love.
Danielle Flestado @artdkf.ph | June 19, 2020
"While I was reading my devotional book yesterday, this part hit me: rejoicing together is more difficult to do than grieving with each other. And so, I thought of reminding myself that I should be happy for the success of others. After all, we are part of one family and every one of us is striving to accomplish our own goals in this world. Let us be happy for each other."
Choosing between dreams and practicality is never easy. My CETs season just ended with the release of the UPCAT results. Anxious as I logged on the website, I started to think about what would happen if I didn't pass UP. Ever since I was six years old, I fixated on the idea that I will become an iska, serving the country and studying at my dream school, which is UP. I strived and studied hard for the UPCAT, sacrificing a lot of things like hang-outs and gala weekends for reviews.
Throughout my CETs journey, I started seeing myself studying only in UP, and while there were no results yet, my friends and I already started planning our lives around the fact that we're gonna study in UP. It was a big deal for me, my friends and my family that I get the chance to study in UP since it's so far from my hometown which is Benguet, and better yet, it's a very well known university.
January 2020 came and universities started releasing CETs results. I was expecting my DCAT and ACET results that month. I passed DCAT but brushed it off because even though I liked the school, I never really saw myself studying there. Same thoughts with Ateneo, since it never really crossed my mind that I might study in ADMU. In fact, Ateneo was never really a choice for me, I only took it just to have another choice in case I failed the UPCAT. I also applied for financial aid not because I was really planning on studying there, but more of "para lang sure na may college ako". I know it's a bad thing but they were just my back-up schools because my main goal was really UP.
One Friday afternoon, ACET results came out. I passed, managed to get a scholarship, and in that moment, my plans just started to crumble.
Seeing that I got a 100% tuition and fees discount, free dorm fees, and an additional book allowance got me into considering studying to Ateneo. Suddenly, I got torn between UP, my dream school, and Ateneo, which offers so much more.
As the months passed, and after talking to my parents, my plans and decisions got more jumbled and messy. I still wanted to go to UP even if there were no results yet but Ateneo offering so much would mean a lesser burden to my parents in terms of finances.
Even though my parents told me that they'll support me no matter where I choose to go, the practicality that Ateneo offers in terms of finances was not an easy thing to waive. Sometimes I would laugh at the fact that I'd spend less on a private school than on a state university. Talking to my friends helped somehow, but they also have various opinions about the two universities. I managed to tell myself to hold off the problem until UPCAT results get released, and so I did.
UP released the UPCAT results and seeing that I passed made me scream and cry, literally. At that moment, all I was thinking was that I passed my dream school and I'm officially a QC college student.
My parents were so proud of me even though they got scared because I screamed, but ultimately, they were happy for me. The next day, I sat down, stared at my UPCAT and ACET results, and told myself that I needed to decide. This was the hardest part. I tried deciding using the pros and cons method but it didn't really work. Talking to my parents also didn't help because they'd support me either way, so their judgement was not a factor at all. I also had the same course in both schools so that wasn't a big help. I was 99% close to letting go of my dream university and decide to go to Ateneo.
I weighed options and Ateneo was the cheaper and more practical option. I also started to see myself studying as a blue eagle, roaming around the campus etc. And financially, I didn't need to worry much except for food. At that point, I started to really like the idea of going to Ateneo more than studying in UP. But then, as the weeks went by, the Ateneo Plan started to lose my interest.
I realized that studying in Ateneo would be a great opportunity, but not something that will really make me happy. The finances and all would be so much better but I wouldn't be happy and content, and I felt that Ateneo couldn't give me everything that I wanted and needed. Then a light bulb lit up.
As I was imagining myself at UP, I ultimately felt that happiness and content that I didn't feel with Ateneo. I realized that, if I didn't study in UP, I know later in my life, I would regret it. I would regret not choosing my dream university because I didn't choose what would make me happy.
In short, I chose my dream over practicality. I know that I would be successful in both tracks, but I simply chose my dream because it is where I'm happier and more content. Besides, we can make our dreams practical but not all the time can the practical choice equate to our dreams. So to those having a hard time choosing between dreams and practicality, weigh it out and always remember to put yourself and your happiness first. And of course, choose the choice that you know you'll not regret later on.
WHY SAYING " BASTA HUWAG KA LANG MAG OVERTHINK" IS NOT A GOOD ADVICE TO GIVE
1. Easy to say but hard to do. It's nice to have a go to friend who will always be there for you in hard times. Someone who will give you advice when you have problems. However, even if you say that you understand them, the truth is you will never completely understand how painful it is because you are not really the one who is suffering. It is important to know that we all have different level of sensitivity. Maybe for you its nothing but you'll never know late at night they will overthink it.
2. Think about what they seem to need at the moment.
Sometimes we don't really need advice when in pain. Sometimes having a constant support system is all that we need. Someone to vent all our insecurities and problems. Someone who will listen. Someone who will listen to understand instead of listening to respond and offering a positive cliche. Someone who's okay in silence when we don't feel to talk at all.
So cry your heart out! It's okay to be not okay. Feel the pain but do not dwell on it for a long time. #toxicpositivity -Gwy June 14, 2020
Confessions of a College Drama Queen: 8 Things I Hate About University
Since the suspension of classes started due to the pandemic, I did not open or read any of my notes, I didn’t do any requirements, and I didn’t bother browsing through my assigned readings. Well, I did try to get some requirements done. Call me lazy but hey, I bet that you’ve also done anything you can do this quarantine period except for your academics.
I call this time period getting all the sleep I can, slacking off as much as I can, and mentally preparing myself for the full-blown physical and mental fatigue I’ll surely get once classes resume again. Now that the continuation of the semester is uncertain, let me share with you 8 reasons why I hate going to University because I’m so not planning on going back anytime soon, and I’m pretty sure you are, too. Who knows, maybe we have the same reasons *wink*.
I hate the way that being in college is so stressful. There are quizzes and lab exercises every day. There are readings that must be read (but to be honest, I just print or download them, but I don’t even take the time to read them!) and papers that must be submitted.
For each subject, there are individual and group works to be completed. It’s just an ongoing cycle of this “4 more days ‘till Friday comes” mindset until you graduate. The everyday routine of getting up early, attending class and going back to the dormitory to study is tiring. Why is there no pause button for the workload?
I hate the way that being in college eats up all my time. Instead of going home during the weekends, I have to stay behind and work on my requirements. I only get to see and bond with my family once a month. University demands almost all of my time that I can’t even have my “me” time any more. Is Uni even my boyfriend for it to demand a lot of time from me? You sure are special, huh?
I hate the way that being in college makes you feel like you’re just an average student. Since grade school, I’ve always had straight A’s and I was always an honor student, but then college happened. It led me to believe that all of my so-called achievements are nothing. I eventually find someone who’s better than me, and then I realize that I’m just another mediocre individual who happens to attend the top university in the country, or that maybe my name was just a typographical error in the list of passers. My stomach always churns whenever our exams are coming up, and I get so anxious every time our scores will be announced. I always feel like I’m going to vomit on the test paper. Luckily, I haven’t yet. (Phew!)
I hate the way being in college means that you have to compete to survive. Don’t get me wrong, learning is absolutely fun, but the academic time frame and pressure makes it a vicious race. If you get a failing grade in your prerequisite subjects, you will get delayed your whole college life which will disrupt the academic and career plan that you laid out for yourself, and you’ll eventually get upset and disappointed. College is seriously the epitome of Charles Darwin’s Survival of the Fittest. Plus, it’s considered a heinous crime to get sick! A day’s worth of lecture is enough to make me fall behind, or worse, delayed. I literally can’t afford to get sick, but shamefully, my body is living off of coffee and instant noodles almost every single day. Also, there’s really never a time where I get a good 8-hour sleep without worrying about anything. It’s either I don’t get sleep or I oversleep, and both are absolutely terrifying.
I hate the way being in college makes me laugh and cry at the same time. I can’t believe I was given the opportunity to be able to laugh and shed my tears in the grounds of one of the most prestigious Universities in the country. I cry whenever I get a low score on an exam I studied all night for, but then I laugh because my friends also failed the exam. I cry because it’s only a Tuesday and I’ve literally spent all of my money on Monday, but then I laugh because my friends are all broke, too. There were times when my friends and I would get out of the examination hall and just laugh at the difficulty of the exam. Then, we’d go out to eat to cheer ourselves up and just have those deep talks about life until the wee hours of the morning.
I hate the way being in college means that I have to socialize every single day. It’s too much for my introvert self to handle. Sometimes, I just want to stay in and never talk to anyone for the time being. But I was fortunate enough to have met and encountered genuine people along the way. We were all struggling in our own degree programs, yet we always find time to support each other. We’d laugh at our professors together when classes get too boring, go out to eat during class hours, pull a prank on some of our classmates, do our assignments, study together, and have fun with each other’s company. College is unbearable, but it becomes slightly less unbearable journeying it with the best people.
I hate the way being in college means having to experience a lot of ‘firsts.” Being raised by strict parents and going to the same Catholic school for 14 years (yes, kindergarten to senior high school, and no, there was no loyalty award), I was kind of scared to go out of my comfort zone, but I was also excited at the same time because I’ll finally be released from my cage. I experienced getting a low score on an exam I stayed up all night to study, not being liked back by my crush, breaking laboratory equipment, having my first meal of the day at 6 pm, and partying with people I barely knew. There were many victorious firsts and there were also numerous sad firsts, but one thing is constant, I always have my friends to celebrate those “firsts” by my side.
Lastly, from the immortal words of Ms. Kat Stratford, I hate the way I don’t actually hate it, not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all.
I hate the way I miss University life so bad. I hate the feeling that I took normal life for granted and wished that college would immediately be over. I miss studying, hanging out with my friends, procrastinating assignments, cramming for an exam, and attending my classes. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I do miss living the student life. As much as we get exhausted of experiencing hardships, there were also many lessons we picked up along the way which helped us grow. However, with online classes, it’s just a simple click of the send button to submit your requirement, then off to finish a new one again. It’s tiring. There’s no pat in the back from your friends and no more dinners with them once you’ve all finished a difficult task. If only I knew that on that bright and sunny day of March 1, everything would go spiralling into hell and that would be my last day in the University grounds, I would have cherished it and not take it for granted. Unfortunately, we don’t know when we’ll be going back to school or if we’re ever going back. Amidst all these uncertainties about life, there is only one thing that I’m certain of: I love University life so much, and I’d give anything to come back home once again.