I think—no, I believe I haven’t written in a very loooong time. This pandemic has fvcked up my sleeping cycle, my body clock, my little to less routines, and totally drained out whatever is left of the creative ink circulating in my brain. I started this back last year if I’m not mistaken? And I guess stories of certain events and bent up feelings of excitement coupled with a little anxiety finally finished it. Soooo, yeah, here haha.
One full year isolated from friends and loved ones.
One full year out of work, out of school.
One full year of faces hidden behind a collection of masks.
One full year of life as we know it, thrown into complete disarray.
Exactly a year ago when the world went into a standstill, locked down and boarded up as we were thrown into a wave of uncertainty, unprepared and caught off guard, spiraling into a state of disequilibrium, a life characterized by fear and anxiety.
One full year since the day everything changed and away from a reality we will never get back.
Can we ever grasp the new normalcy we struggle to live with?
Will we ever become comfortable in the daily uncertain?
Will we ever see through the shadows of a dream draped with looming obscurity?
Will freedom be less defined?
Endless questions with answers held by a future that remains dimly vague,
With tiny slivers of hope only few seem to recognize, rejected by most as distrust blind their discernment.
Out of this chaos, may we realize that everything can end in an instant so focus on what is important and always be grateful for somehow, we are still surviving.
2020 was life-changing, it was exceptionally challenging that I can’t even put in a good word.
It was unremarkably heavy, a burdened weight unnecessarily shouldered for the past 10 months.
Suddenly, everyone had to forego with comfortable, we did not have a choice and that was frustrating. Life had to hide behind the mask.
Loss was a daily constant. The existential need to be seen, to be heard, to be held, was abruptly stolen by uncertainty and time was not on our side.
Anxiety continue to grow and you find yourself writing down turbulent thoughts on a fleeting lucid moment at 2 am.
I had to deal with so much the last year, I couldn’t cope. Gone was the strong facade I so easily wear, replaced by a throng of vulnerability and unrest. I feel like the chemistry in my brain fucked up.
2020 did not turn out how we hoped it would be, it was a cruel surprise. But somewhere in between the pandemonium was a window of realization that human as we are, we will instinctively survive.
If there was anything that I learned from the longest year of my life, it was gratitude, gratitude from the smallest of things: from keeping a job despite the economic collapse, home-cooked meals, discovering a hobby, appreciating my small circle of family and friends, new-age technology filling in the gap from being socially distant, waking up alive, healthy and somewhat sane.
May we leave the dust of the year that was in the past and may we learn that we could choose to drop these heavy loads and walk towards hope, no matter how small a speck, with empty arms making room to carry much better things.
Smile. It’s a New Year.
I never imagined getting affected by the flimsiest of things but here I am, a chaotic mess of sad, angry and feeling bad. Yes, I felt bad.
It never crossed my mind that I would develop anxiety but the past 10 months of uncontrollable uncertainty has turned me into a silent wreck.
Isolation and confinement has pushed me to reach out to people, recklessly exposing myself to be emotionally vulnerable and I’ve been led on and left out.
I’ve never done any of these things before and it’s overwhelmingly new and suffocating. And as soon as someone paid attention, I easily forget that expectation is paired with disappointment.
I used to be so good at refocusing my thoughts, blocking out bad memories, or just not giving a care but somehow, it’s been getting really hard to hold it all together and not being able to control what runs through my head is taking its toll on me.
I’m still freaking curious.
There was a spark, I know there was a spark and I’m missing that spark.
I’ve been digging inside my head since that Thursday and I still can’t find you and your words and that smile.
I’ve no memory.
Weekend at the mountains. Mahjong sesh leveled up 😂
Hearty lunch, happy hour started at 12:00 noon and even if I lost at mahjong, twas a really good weekend away from all the noise of the city.
I did not dream of having kids. It was never part of the plan.
I wanted to write and live in different places, experience this diverse, expansive earth everyone keeps talking about.
At some point, I even wanted to go to outer space, discover aliens, leave footprints on the moon, trek Mars, name stars.
But you see, life has a sick sense of humor and who would have imagined I’d end up birthing 3 boys instead.
I wasn’t ready.
Stuck in the mundane.
I think I’ll never be ready.
Fine, joke’s on me.
But I kept on, even when my mind was in total chaos. I still keep on.
I had the choice to get away, to run away as I always do, but I stayed.
And trying to be a mother, keeping up a facade of this supposedly strong person and parenting alone while my heart shattered into infinite pieces, was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to endure.
But oh, the laughter of children, the sweetest songs, such beautiful music to my ears, I could listen to for a lifetime.
The course of our lives sometimes do not play out like how we pictured it in our heads but somehow, we always end up where we should be.
And most times, much happier.
While scrolling through one of my social media sites, I came across your profile shoving me with happy faces of you and her. Funny, how you both made it official on the exact date we met over a year ago.
To be honest I felt a weight in my chest but only for a bit, then I found myself letting out a loud sigh.
A friend of mine started this challenge called #dearcember where you write an open letter for 30 people for 30 days. I don’t have 30 letters for 30 people for 30 days but I have today in particular and just one letter to write for just one person in mind.
So if ever you stumble upon this and feel like maybe it’s for you…well, here it goes:
You were a happy coincidence.
It was so random but we matched in so many ways.
I’m not sure why the universe allowed our paths to cross, even until now that question remains unanswered; will remain unanswered. They say everything happens for a reason but you turned out to be some kind of bullish confusion and it has always left me wondering.
Maybe it was because you needed to give me something I did not know I needed.
Momentary attention, appreciation, a push to quiet my emerging insecurities.
Soulmate. Whatever that is.
We were the same but different. You were my deja vu. I saw myself in you but I guess you found me too complicated.
I thought we were okay.
I would never know if you were a hint of hope or something misleading.
You added more pieces to my shattered ones but I’ve always felt numb anyway so it didn’t really hurt.
Despite having left with the door wide open when you suddenly decided you cannot stay, leaving the cold memories and what could have beens to linger in my head a little longer, I’m thankful for you.
You unearthed a part of me I did not know still existed.
You gave new meaning to emotions.
You forged color into my words and taught me that pain make such beautiful unconventional art.
For the most part of it, you showed me that I am after all, still human.
That I could be vulnerable and it’s okay to feel sad that we ended way before we even had the chance to begin, that you left me hanging and have me the impression that I am not enough to deserve some sort of closure.
So I guess this is how I end things, to finally put a dot to your unfinished sentence and close a book I haven’t even started to read.
I wish she complements your passions and understand your wit and give you the happiness you’ve so long been looking for, we all deserve it some way or another.
By now, you have become my so long ago, a fading thought and finally — I’m done.
If everyone should know, my birthday falls on a month dubbed as tiempo muerto meaning dead time. August is that time of the year where your funds are low, harvest season is months away and skies are always gloomy. Chinese even believe it’s not the best time to move to a house, start a business or get married. I’m not Chinese though, but still..
I always have a hard time planning what to do on my birthday because what I usually want can’t be done during this time of the year BUT I always end up spontaneously doing something fun. 😄
So anyway, me, my sister and her husband booked a flight to Manila for the weekend to celebrate my birthday and since I like to hike every once in a while, I signed us up for a Tinipak River trip with Jeron Travel. So timely that we will be in Manila during the trip and I’ve always wanted to visit the place.
Day 1 | August 3
Since I’m with Chinese people, dimsum and congee in Binondo and of course can’t miss Masuki’s mami, yum!
After that feast, we went to Banawe to my BIL‘s friend’s store to buy us some car parts to bring back to Bacolod then chill for a bit and from there we were talking about if he wanted to join us in our Tinipak River tour. Last thing I know, we booked a trip to Mt. Pinatubo for tomorrow.
For this year’s birthday, the original plan was to go to Masungi Georeserve but they have a minimum number of people per group and it was only three of us. If we wanted to pursue, we have to pay for the minimum number of people so it was quite expensive. Next option was Mt. Pinatubo but a couple of tour operators I inquired with do not book tours from July to mid October because of the rainy season. They wouldn’t want to risk because bad weather would mean sudden landslides and flash flood so those two were off the list. Tinipak was a blessing and I was like–I get to do something cool for my birthday this year.
While we were talking about Tinipak and other plans, Pinatubo came up and RC, my BIL’s friend’s secretary said that she knows someone who could give us a tour. I was like I’m game, is everyone else game? And wow, they all said yes. 😂Lucky me! Imagine, Pinatubo and Tinipak back to back! So we parted ways, got things prepared for the hike and slept early.
Note: These people haven’t exercised for a long time and it would be my sister’s first time to hike in her entire existence. 😂
Day 2 | August 4
Left for Capas, Tarlac around 3:30 am, stopped by 7/11 for coffee and Mcdonald’s for breakfast then headed off to Tito Danny’s place.
Registered at their tourism office, signed a waiver and off we go.
Trek to the Pinatubo crater consist of an estimated 1 hour jeep ride and 2 hour hike.
And the views were just awesome!
There is an aeta community living in the area, they usually watch cattle of ranchers who bring them there to feed. Our guide, Kuya Ricky, told us that some Koreans have set up a church and school to help them out.
After the more than 1 hour jeep ride, we start the 7km hike to the crater.
Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991, making it the 2nd largest eruption of the 20th century. The eruption produced high-speed avalanches of hot ash and gas, giant mud-flows, and a cloud of volcanic ash hundreds of miles up. Volcanologists said that this eruption had a worldwide impact and has caused global temperatures to drop temporarily.
Trail up the crater was lahar covered, soft and rocky (lahar is a mix of volcanic ash and rocky fragments) and mountain walls showed traces of landslides. I remember slipping a couple of times because it was raining. Crazy weather because well, it’s rainy season. One minute it’s scorching sunny (yes we got sunburnt) and next thing you know, it’s pouring.
This was our first stop. There is a little hut of an aeta family and they sell food, drinks and souvenirs. I asked Kuya Ricky what they do, if the children even go to school since I notice a lot of little kids running around. Our guide said they are different from the aeta community we passed earlier with whom the Koreans helped out, these ones usually harvest wild bananas to sell. They sell really cheap and since Mt. Pinatubo has become a tourist spot, they set up their little tiangge where hikers/tourists could rest and buy food, drinks and souvenirs. Other than that, they live a very routinary life. They wake up, sit, laze or play around, sleep. They don’t have electricity. I’m not sure if they have support from their local government. There’s an ongoing dispute between the locals and the military from what I’ve heard.
This was our second stop. They set up portalets and cottages where you could rest. From this point, it’s just 20 minutes to the crater.
My buddies brought with them a ton of food hahaha. Like literally too much for a day hike, can’t go hungry. I was even joking to sell some at the crater since everything costs a hundred bucks.
The trail up isn’t lahar covered anymore, more of river streams.
Just some of the flora we passed along. I didn’t really see many flowers.
Then steps to the crater, not sure how many steps there were.
Pictures just can’t do justice to what my eyes saw. It was magical even if it was raining. What more on a clear day?
You can actually go down to the crater but you are not allowed to swim. Wanted to go down but the fog was setting in and they advised against it because it might start pouring and we could get stranded.
I was so happy that I got to hike up a volcano on my birthday weekend! Been wanting to since last year hahaha. And so happy everyone was game despite the crazy weather.
* We paid P2,000 per person for the Mt. Pinatubo trek, that’s already inclusive of the Jeep rental, guide and permits.
Reward! This place was featured in Rated K so we decided to try it out. Sisig did not disappoint.
Day 3 | August 5
We missed our Tinipak trip the next day because everyone was sore and feverish. Sorry! ✌️✌️✌️ We roadtripped instead to Tagaytay, had breakfast at Breakfast and coffee at Starbucks, the one on Calamba Rd.
That mandatory Taal volcano photo. Would’ve gone volcano hopping if weather wasn’t bad haha! 😂
Foggy view but at least they spelled my name right (because the barista asked how it is spelled 😂).
Stopped by the Marcos Mansion for some buko juice on the way back. It’s actually become a sort of bike rest stop.
Then for dinner, thank you Arnold and Christine for my salubong feast! 😂😂😂
No plans are the best plans. Thanks for an awesome birthday weekend!
Day 4 | August 6
Flew home for my birthday. Had lunch with the most important people, blew my candle and spent the rest of the day lazing around with my boys. 😊