I’m moving!

Since a new chapter of my life has begun, I feel the need to write about my wifey adventures and everything else in between in this new blog.

Till then! 🙂

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To Whom It May Concern (for “mataray” people like me and those trying hard to project they’re nice)

The problem with being tagged as “mataray” is that you never seem to get out of it no matter how “good” you try to become.

Or maybe the real problem is- you try so hard to change the way people think of you, not realizing you know yourself better to even succumb to the pressure of change.

I’ve been tagged as such for as long as I can imagine. In fact, I’m yet to meet that one person who would tell me that his or her first impression of me is that I’m kind.

I don’t take pride in being regarded to as “mataray”. It’s not something you get used to and be proud about.

Truth is, it’s difficult to handle it sometimes.

Because there will come a day when you just want to be good, and people will always doubt if you’re being true. Because there will be times you wouldn’t have the energy, the will or the desire to fight back- and people will laugh and say you’re being “mataray” is nothing after all.

But what people don’t understand is that when you start tagging others as bad people- you box them in a way. When you close your mind to thinking that this person will never do you any good just because you heard he or she’s evil- you limit the opportunity to get to know that person.

It’s not really my loss when others refuse to know me beyond the kind of reputation others have been trying so hard to build for myself.

Because I think, that I build my own reputation.

I would admit that I really am “mataray,” but I’m not like that all the time. I wouldn’t deny that I have been bad- but I’m not bad everyday.
And I would say I am tough and brave and I can put you into shame if I wanted to, but there’s always a choice to rise above the pettiness of things.

I can always choose my battles.

When you start to age, it’s somehow imperative to age wiser. Otherwise, there’s no point in growing old if how you look at and how you do things don’t change overtime.
When I was younger, I wouldn’t mind picking a fight with the most famous girls in school. When I became a teenager, I’d spend all my energy dropping hurtful words to people I dislike. And as years went by, I moved on from being talkative when I’m mad- to being quiet and nonchalant.

I wouldn’t say that today, I have matured enough not to pick a fight. I can still choose to call you and hurt you with things I’ll say if I feel you’ve been acting weird and you needed someone frank enough to tell you that. I’m not really two-faced but I can be one if I wanted to.

The problem is, I have realized in life, being “mataray” or trying to be one is not the benchmark of being brave.

Sure we can shout at each other, wash our dirty linen in public. We can do all that, but at the end of it all can you truly say you were right, you were strong- and I was weak and I was wrong?

There’s always a right place and time to be bad- and you don’t learn that overnight.

It has never been my habit to go around telling people I’m good, because I know I’m not.
Well, who among us is entirely good anyway without a little evilness even in our minds?
But yes, I know of people who despite being obviously coward, can go around and say they are nice. Or make themselves appear they are one.

Well, the good thing about being tagged as “mataray,” is that you can be one without even trying. You don’t have to pretend you’re strong enough coz people already think of you as being that. On the other hand, you can also be weak and be made fun of, when others succeed to make you feel inferior at times. Only that in the end, despite being weak- you will always be known as the “mataray” one. You will, in the mind of others, always be the evil one.

Because the society we live in is so immature, that it does not forgive nor forget how they’ve come to know you. And they will refuse to think others may even be worse than you- just because they weren’t tagged negatively in any way.

My Mom told me as early as 2nd grade that I have to learn how to choose my battles. Simply put she said, “anak hindi mo kailangan patulan lahat.”

Coz truth is, while I’m known to be “mataray,” I don’t engage in public scandal. I never had the habit of putting people into shame. It’s not my thing to wash dirty linen in public. I can talk and write things like this for as much as I want- and you can only second guess if I was talking about you. Or if I was even talking about anything specific after all.

I guess what’s pitiful is not the fact that you learned something valuable and true from your mom and put it into action. It’s not pitiful to choose to do what is right.
It’s not pitiful to keep quiet rather than live the next days of your life defending yourself for being loud and well, cheap.

What is pitiful is to see the “good” ones try so hard to make you appear bad, just because they didn’t understand what you truly meant.
What is pitiful is to see the “good” ones try so hard to be an inch like you, to prove something to themselves. What is pitiful are not mothers who have children like me, but mothers who have children pretending to be good in front of them.

The world can say anything about me – and it’s always my choice to act accordingly.

And if it was my choice not to pick a fight with you,
it’s my way of being brave and good- at the right place and time. =)

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Remembering (Of heartaches)

I still remember that day he walked out on me and the night he asked me to let him go. How will I ever forget the time he said goodbye- that hour when the world fell down on me.

While in my mind the memories of my heartaches remain- fortunately my heart has forgotten how badly it all felt.

Tonight I thank the heavens for helping me get to this point, when I can just look back and smile at all the painful and sad moments my heart has gone thru. Not everyone will be as lucky to happily remember, for one reason or another. I’m just grateful I’ve mustered enough strength and learned enough to get me thru.

Maybe I am writing this blog to remember what exactly I’ve learned- all these years.

When you go thru a heartbreak, it is true that you lose a part of yourself. You sometimes lose such a big part of you- that you end up thinking you can’t live alone anymore. But before you pity yourself, I will tell you that all of this is just in your mind. No matter how big it is that you lose when you go thru a heartbreak– you can always, always find a way to get up and move on.

When someone cheats on you, leaves you for someone else- you end up in pity thinking you weren’t good enough. Though you know in your heart you have all the right to get mad, you feel it’s still your fault he made that mistake. No, my dear. Don’t go blaming yourself and defending him. He cheated on you, he left you because he’s a jerk. Let it go.

Never believe that first love lasts a lifetime. You’re lucky if you’ve found that kind of love- but believe me it doesn’t happen all the time. So don’t give up everything all at once- don’t promise the stars. First love can die, and when it does and you’re lucky you can even bury it while you’re alive.

In this lifetime, your heartaches won’t always be caused by someone else. Often, you will be the reason for your own despair. Why go after people who don’t even see you? Why insist yourself on people who are already taken? Why destroy families? Why cheat yourself when you don’t want to be cheated? There will be times you will give up and call it quits. There will be times you will find someone else and love them even more. Don’t be scared to make mistakes. Even if you hurt yourself in the process, believe me these experiences will make you stronger.

And lastly, never hurry marriage. It’s one thing to think you want to get married because everybody is, and another thing to actually feel you want to get married. You don’t have to ride with the tide- marriage is never just a fad. Never marry someone who doesn’t know how to listen, or pushes you to be someone else. Marry someone you truly love, who truly loves you- someone whom you will never grow tired of loving, sleeping with and fighting with. Marry someone who never loses the spark of a first kiss. Somewhere out there, there’s that someone.

In my lifetime, to date my heart’s been broken twice, cheated on once and battered once.

But while in my mind the memories of my heartaches remain- fortunately my heart has forgotten how badly it all felt.

Not everyone’s lucky to happily look back. I’m just blessed to have mustered enough guts and strength to be one.

How yellow and blue changed my life forever: On being a Theresian

(The following is the article I wrote for the 100th year anniversary of the ICM sisters, the congregation that founded St. Theresa’s College, my high school Alma matter. This was published in The Philippine Star on October 8,2010)

If I could only wear pink for all the days I went to pre-school, I would have done so. But because I studied in a very strict ICM school, I had to follow the rules.

That was my first taste of what it was like growing up in a Belgian-run school.

As I grew older, the rules spanned from wearing the proper Prep uniform, to the correct length of the trademark navy blue skirt, the no jewelry except for earrings and watch policy, to “don’t make your necktie a ballpen holder,” to “make sure all buttons of your high school blouse are closed.”

There were many boring rules we had to follow, and some even freaked the hell out of some of my more sociable colleagues — especially when we reached our teenage years.

Who went through high school without prom nights and soirees? We did.

Who went through high school without learning what CAT was? We did.

And of course there were the unique activities only Theresians like us knew about — such as the annual field demonstrations, the dance productions, song festivals and the graduation ball where our evening gowns were subjected for approval.

In St. Theresa’s College (STC), there were all sorts of Belgian nuns. From the sweet Sr. Yvonne, to the firm Sr. Pupe, the terror Sr. Tita and the always commanding Sr. Vicky.

The nuns seemed to meet our specific needs at specific times in our lives.

The sweet Sr. Yvonne always nurtured and spoiled us in prep. Sister Pupe disciplined the playful children in us in elementary, while Sisters Tita and Vicky made sure we acted like ladies in high school.

Must be traumatic for a kid growing up, right? But yes, I spent 11 of my best years in STC — in the company of nuns who restricted some fun, but drew out the best in each of us.

My Theresian education instilled in me the values of simplicity and humility.

The strict rules were meant to discipline us as we were growing up. Looking back now, I couldn’t be more grateful to my school for keeping us away from all the consumerism we now enjoy. We were allowed to enjoy and have fun — the way a child must. There weren’t superficial thoughts that the world was all beauty and happy, and that everyone was rich. We knew from day one that there were people less fortunate than us, and we were bound to help them in one way or another. We were made to realize that being a Theresian meant reaching out to them — sharing what little we have, even our time can already mean the world to them.

I loved Palihan days — that once-a-month day we devoted to visiting the slums, the orphaned, the elders. We as a batch would pray, help and make other people happy. And we sincerely did what we did, because it was the source of fulfillment in all the days we went to school.

We were taught that being simple and humble begins in one’s self — that you can’t be simple if you adorned yourself with all the fanciness in the world. To this day, I don’t go out for dinner or for any occasion for that matter, with more than a pair of earrings, a simple bracelet or a watch. A true Theresian will never be a fan of chunky necklaces, all glitter and gold.

We were also taught that simplicity and humility are core values you need to succeed. Compared to other schools, STC wasn’t as famous. In fact there were times I was asked where my school was in Quezon City. But yes, the fact that we were not famous as St. Scho or Poveda or Assumption at least during my time, we still managed to succeed. We never bragged about being one of the best exclusive schools for girls, although we were. We never bragged about being home to a number of famous women in news and film. We just let the rest notice us — if they must notice us, in their own sweet time

Translating that to us students, we were never too proud about ourselves, but we always believed in what we could do. When I was starting out in media, I didn’t really refer to my Theresian education unless I was asked. While deep inside me I know it would be an edge for me, I didn’t prod about it because I didn’t grow up in STC that way.

We never compared ourselves to others — because we were taught to always compete with ourselves. And that, to me, is the sweetest victory. I never thought I was better than other colleagues — because there will always be people that will come along that will be better than me. And so I have learned to push myself always to the edge, thinking I’m the only one of my kind — so that I am able to do better at what I do all the time. Yes, that probably is my secret for success — and that’s a fruit of being Theresian.

At 27, I have achieved little for myself financially, but I will not be ashamed to go back to STC because it will never measure me in monetary terms. Rather, my Alma matter will measure me in terms of how I have lived my life outside school, and how I have shone my light and become a blessing to others.

In my own little ways, I have blessed others through my stories and my outreach — but much is still to be done. Each day, I compete with myself for a better me, and a better opportunity to be the kind of blessing my Theresian education built me to be.

While I owe much of my knowledge to my equally good teachers throughout my 11 years in STC, I owe my values to the nuns who ran our school. I will forever be grateful for the gifts of simplicity and humility they instilled in me.

Yes, once a Theresian, always and forever a Theresian.

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Surviving Swimming

For someone working in media, it should be natural for me to be a risk taker.

Working in the field, faced with challenging situations every single day- one cannot be weak or too picky with which risks to take.

If you want to get a story done, you wouldn’t mind flying on board your military’s C130 plane to Jolo, or sail through the rough waters of Quezon at the height of a storm.

When I am at work, I always put on my confident self- one that looks credible, competent and authoritative. I try to always look like I can do anything, like there’s no battle I will ever retreat from.

But to be honest, it always takes a lot of guts and prayers before I take on a challenge and really jump at risks to get things done. Not to mention, that I have three of the simplest fears to conquer.

I have escalator phobia. I am afraid of heights. And I am hydrophobic.

When I first worked in GMA7 in 2007, I refused to take swimming class. I told myself, until the mere thought of taking a bath on a shower drowns me, I will never learn how to swim. So yes, I would go to the beach and stay near the shore, pretending to enjoy the water- while deep inside I’m scared as hell to die anytime.

Late last year though, all that was about to change because I again put up a confident face- I was half convinced I already wanted to learn how to swim.

My fiancé, who himself is a very good swimmer and has just undergone water rescue training cheered me on. To take the hesitations away, he went with me to the mall and was all praises at how good I looked on my pink swimming outfit.

On November 16, 2010, I finally took the first step and showed up in my swimming class.

Yes, that’s the pink rash guard my fiance bought for me.

My ticket to conquering my fear of water. After 20 + long, long years.

I warned Coach Sarie of how bad my hydrophobia was. Told her that I drown even in the shower, that’s why the good old tabo and timba have been my best friends.

LESSON 1:To help me get through the day, she asked me to get a feel of the water first by walking inside the pool. When I reached the deeper portion of the pool, I felt like drowning again. I had to walk back and forth, back and forth, six times I guess until I walked on water like I was just walking in the park.

LESSON 2: That same day, she taught me the proper way of breathing in water. I was too scared to try it and was making up every excuse not to put my head underwater. Ni hindi ko kaya ilubog ang ulo ko sa tubig, pano ko matututo? But because the clock was ticking and I was thinking I’m being such a brat, I followed her instructions. Yes, after getting water inside my nose and ears too many times, I learned how it was to breathe in water.

LESSON 3: But the highlight of the first day was letting myself float on water. When you’re hydrophobic and you’re finally able to float, that in itself is a huge achievement. Coach never got tired of convincing me that I can do it. She held my hand until The day ended with just me, floating all by myself. (I’m a natural floater, Coach said. Didn’t know some people were natural sinkers too)

Attending a two-hour swimming class once a week was tiring. I would always complain of getting tired just one hour into class, and would be very hungry when it’s over. Of course it took a lot of discipline too, to show up and swim (or float during the first few sessions) considering how scared I was to even try before.

On my third session I was already taught freestyle strokes, and one of my other coaches, Adrian said I was a quick learner for an adult. Many times they would tell me that I shouldn’t be ashamed that I learned this late, because there are others out there older than I am who are just starting to learn how to swim.

Yesterday on my final day of swimming class, Coach Sarie didn’t come with me to the water anymore. She just told me to enjoy myself. I was still scared to do it on my own, but I thought, if I have made it this far- what else can I not do in water now?

Proud of myself, I swam without holding on to any board back and forth the pool. Oh yes, I survived it all.


With Coach Sarie, on my last swimming class. (January 26, 2011)

Looking back now, I guess I will never get over this joy of achieving something so big for myself. I am so proud I pushed myself literally to my limits.

It is no joke, that after 20+ years of being scared of water, I finally saw myself swimming and enjoying doing so! I will always remember the first time I was able to float- and the joy of not seeing my feet underwater when I tried to check whether or not I really was floating already!

You wouldn’t understand how it felt, but while i was making that last lap last night -it felt like I was graduating from years of hard work in school.

Call it crazy, call it whatever. But if I survived this, hell yes, I know I can conquer my many other fears as well.

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Hydrophobic no more

I still remember the day my father tried to teach me how to swim.
It was a fine day at the beach where we went for their company outing and I was about 8 or 9years old back then. He pulled me by the hand tried to dip me into the water- and it felt like drowning. 

I gasped for air. I struggled. 
Since then, I’ve been hydrophobic the rest of my

My fear of water was THAT bad that I couldn’t even stand a shower. Running water on my chest always made me feel I could die any minute. It was THAT bad. 

****
So what could I be thinking when finally I decided to take the risk of learning how to swim?

Well, I initially thought I wanted to finally do it so that I don’t miss out of town coverages for work, just because I don’t goddamn know how to swim.

But as the days went by, I knew it was more than work-related. I was doing it because I had to face my fear and prove something to myself.

****
I tell you, it wasn’t east to convince myself that I need to do it. I thought of all sorts of excuses to go on with my fear. But my heart knew better, and it proved to be tougher than I thought.

For when my mind would fail me in thinking that I can survive, my heart pushed me to swim. I guess it also helped that Coach Sarie talked me first out of the fear that she said, was just in my head.

True enough, soon as I put my heart into it- I was able to float for the very first time in my life.

10 minutes into my floating lessons and boy, was I enjoying it too much! Coach Sarie would give me instructions and I would be floating in water before she could finish her sentence. I was too thrilled to learn and explore the waters- like never before. I was like a child looking for my feet on the pool’s flooring, because I couldn’t believe I was finally floating.

****
Thinking back, I give myself more than a pat on the shoulder for taking this leap of faith and conquering my fear of water. It’s a feat I never thought I can achieve, knowing how scared I was to even try.
While I am yet to learn actual swimming (those strokes and all), I take pride in knowing that I have taken the first step.

As my friend Mitzi said, it is indeed never too late to learn how to swim. And it is never too late to go beyond one’s limits. Like I’d say in my previous blog, never too late to go across borders, and beyond corners.

Thirty things to do before I turn 30 (Part 2)

This is not to say that I have actually achieved all the things I ear lie set out myself to do before hitting the mark. Yes, to this day, I am struggling- let me make that STRUGGLING to keep up with my wish list.

The hardest to fulfill is getting my pre- media weight and waistline back.

Ok, so much for stress at such an early part of a new blog entry.

So here are my the goals and to- do:

11) Save up for a car of my own.
I initially wanted to learn how to drive again right? So I guess after fulfilling that to-do, next logical thing to do is buy my own car. I have been eyeing a Mazda 3 Black since I can remember, our Toyota Fortuner still makes me want to work harder so that I can drive my own, and I am loving the new Volkswagen cars!

12) Go back to school.
I have been missing graduate school since I stopped last year. Early this year I ditched getting back to school again, because my fate led me back to the profession that I believe is truly my calling. While I am having the best time of my life back as a reporter for the Kapuso network, I still want to get a master’s degree. Maybe this time, the Ateneo Center for Journalism can give me that scholarship I was denied just because I wasn’t a media practitioner when I first tried to get one. Oh dear heavens, grant me this wish.

13) Get married, seriously.
I just want to walk down the aisle in a simple tube white wedding gown, with a Spanish inspired garden reception. I want to be a beautiful June bride. First off, the wedding MUST push through this time. Runaway would-be grooms are a no-no.

14) Visit Batanes.
This is my ultimate vacation destination, one pride of my country that I really want to see. I will save for you, Batanes.

15) Get a US Visa and see Disneyland and Las Vegas.
I am keeping my fingers crossed that I get my visa before the year ends or early 2011. I am itching to see America, and visit friends Schenley and Shyla there. When I get to America, I will take a photo of myself by the golden gate bridge, statue of liberty and play out in the snow. Then, I can start saving for Europe. 🙂