Underwater (June 1, 2017)

It’s like I’m drowning in the streets.
The noise of cars racing by
Are muted by the sound of the waves
Of blood crashing against the walls of my veins.

It was beautiful, looking at the chaos
And hearing the ocean
In the middle of the city.
It is like watching a movie with the wrong foley
But everything is still in sync.

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Letter to the Grave Stone

Dear You,

I do not like visiting you when the cold Christmas breeze begins to blow. I don’t like seeing you, pale, hard, and cold, sitting unmoving on the same spot I left you before.

I hate having to talk to you, stare at you, as if by talking at you my words could reach him–the first guy I ever loved. I hate how you confined him in your darkness, never to see light again.

I hate that whenever I do talk at you, part of me wishes my words do reach him, the man whose identity you represent. I hate how every year I dread visiting you, yet my year wouldn’t be complete without coming to visit the guy you hide within.

I hate how you encased him, swallowed him whole. Forever lost but never forgotten.

How I wanted to claw at you, shatter you, until you give back the man you hide, the man I love. I hate how your pale, cold hardness are all that is left to represent him–evidence that he ever existed.

I hate having to light candles on his birthday, not so he can blow them to make a wish, but to lay them at your feet, because you hid him.

Lastly, I hate how unfair it is for you to receive the words, the love, pain, regret and longing that is meant for him, when he should be the one receiving it. If only he was still here. I hate having to call you “Daddy” because you are not him. Because my father is so much warmer, softer, kinder, stronger than a grave stone.

But, thank you. For teaching me how short and absolute life is, that every moment is precious and you could not go back to re-experience it, to not take anything or anyone for granted because death is permanent and certain.

I hate you, but thank you.

Love,

The daughter who still grieves

This was written last May 24, 2017, in a spoken word workshop held by Words Anonymous with Roch Lazarte at Meridian International College.

Distant (a writing prompt)

In retrospect, I wanted to be a doctor since I could understand the question: What do you want to be when you grow up?

Every decision I made since then was for that dream. I chose to study in a Science High School to challenge my knowledge in the field of science. When I graduated high school, I got accepted to University of the Philippines Manila (UPM), a “prominent” state university in my home country, specializing in medical courses. I took up BS Biology in UPM and for a while I was driven. I was on my way to fulfilling my wish.

Now it is but a distant dream.

I was fickle. During my summer break before I started high school, I fell in love with another dream–Writing. As I continue making decision after decision with the goal of being a doctor in sight, I grew more restless and distracted.

I found a new passion and it felt wrong, being in the course I was taking.

When the workload came creeping in during my second year in BS Biology, I had to stop writing. And it crushed me. That is how I knew. I have fallen out of love with my long-term dream and found a new one.

I started to get distracted.

The artist in me just couldn’t take it anymore. Being a doctor is a noble dream but it felt like it wasn’t mine anymore.

It felt like refusing to let go of your baby teeth, the permanent ones are begging for space to be free, but it is hindered by something that no longer fits you. Like wearing clothes bought in the kiddie section when you are a full grown girl.

I couldn’t breathe.

I felt lost. Too far away from where I had to be and yet too afraid to turn around and find my way again.

There are a few reasons why I was afraid. First, everyone was looking up to me, expecting me to be the first doctor in the family. It was a pressure too much for someone who’s having doubts about whether or not she still wants that destiny. Second, my mother have already invested money in me, and I have already invested time and effort to be who I thought I wanted to be. Third, everyone kept saying “Be practical. You won’t be able to feed a family or pay the bills being a writer in this country.

My fears have trapped me and it seemed like there was no escape. That I would be too selfish and naive to escape.

I was digging a grave for the child artist in me.

In my third year of college, the distress and discontent was affecting me. I no longer wanted to wake up in the morning. I dreaded school. The anxiety was killing me. The way I killed my dream to keep on pleasing everybody.

I distracted myself with garbage, fell in love with a man who was a monster underneath. I destroyed myself slowly, bit by bit.

Then my father died.

It was the last straw for me. I filed a leave of absence and went with my mom to Abu Dhabi where she works.

I was traumatized by how heartless the public health system in this country is. I saw the doctor I wanted to be let my father die right before me.

After five months, when my mom thought I was ready to go back to school, I tried pushing one last time. I still enrolled for two semesters and failed both accordingly. I begged my mom to let me shift to creative writing in Diliman but she convinced me, “There is no work when you graduate creative writing.”

Even my professors pitched in. “You are a bright student. You will waste your potential in Creative Writing.”

So I opted for another premed course that will not force me to pursue with medicine and still end up in the medical industry: Nursing.

At first I was happy. I saw the pride in my mother’s eyes, now my only pillar in the family, when she saw me in a white uniform. If it makes her happy, I will try.

But I was still restless.

Eventually, I went back to my habit of not going to classes again, dreading the day and embracing the night. I wouldn’t go to school, but I would go to malls and gigs. That is where my spoken word poetry and artist manager career began.

I met my best friend and fell in love with him and his original music. I started writing him poems and performed them on stage. I even co-wrote songs with him.

The child artist in me that I long ago buried and I thought had died started to breathe and live again.

I was happy. But I was guilty.

At the expense of my mom’s efforts and money, I wasn’t honest about school and life in general.

So I reopened the offer of letting me shift to Creative Writing. She agreed, but fate was not with me.

UP Diliman wouldn’t accept my request to transfer and shift to the program because my GWA from UPM and my units in UERM (where I took up Nursing) didn’t meet the quota.

Heartbroken, I left for Abu Dhabi, thinking I will never return again.

I thought it was the end of my dream, and my love story with my best friend.

But just after a few months in Abu Dhabi, destiny and my dream came knocking in. It was in a form I never expected, and it was quite ironic actually.

Denisse messaged me, and told me she’s currently studying again, after stopping for three years to work for her family. She’s taking BS Psychology, a course I have always been interested in, in Our Lady of Fatima University.

Seeing it as a chance to go back to the country where my heart and my dream is, I asked Denisse to enroll me.

I was able to convince my mom and she seemed more than happy to let me go back to my formal college education, and see me finish a bachelor’s degree so the papers went walking and I was officially a student of OLFU taking up BS Psychology.

I was reunited, quite bitterly, with my best friend, and I am now taking up a course which will help me in my writing and at the same time allow me to continue to pursue being a doctor without really forcing me to go that way, and leaving me with a few other options that I am willing to take: a professor, HR (Human Resource) personnel, guidance counsellor, psychologist, psychometrician, therapist, the list of options go on quite a bit.

I was happy.

At first I was scared that the happy feeling could be temporary and I could go back to my old ways and slack off of school again, but after I finished the first semester successfully, I was sure it was something I am willing to stick with.

I felt the fire in me begin to burn again, this time a small steady flame, not really very consuming, but enough to keep me going at life.

I have found balance that keeps me and my mom happy. The course has given me a lot of insights and inspiration for my writing and poetry. It helped me put things in perspective that I thought I had lost permanently. And it keeps the option open for me to still be a doctor eventually.

From being very distant from who I am and who I wanted to be, I am now ready to go the distance.

I am now officially a Phoenix. I have risen up from the ashes that was my hopes, my dreams, my personality.

via Daily Prompt: Distant

High Street adventures

Today, Dan and I went to BGC (Bonifacio Global City) and had a fun walkathon. We planned to visit several art galleries or have a food trip. We did both.

I waited for him in Starbucks Frontera for 1 and a half hour. Then we drove to BGC. After parking the car in Lane O, we began the walkathon.

Right after 7th Ave. is Bonifacio High Street, which is a collection of different stores. We looked around Typo, a store that sells things that make my heart flutter (notebooks, paper, journals, other artsy “hipster” stuff). Dan saw a leather laptop bag he likes so much.

We then walked to Serendra, where there are five adjacent art galleries. I challenged Dan to select an art work for every art gallery we enter, then write a poem, verse, or lyrics around it. Sadly we weren’t allowed to take photos of the art works, so I couldn’t show you what art works were chosen as writing prompts. But I will share the different poems I wrote here in later posts.

After visiting two art galleries, Dan took an awesome instax photo of me.

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Then we visited two more and skipped one art gallery (as the people inside appeared to be having a really serious meeting).

After the art galleries in Serendra, we went inside an art store named Art Bar to take shelter from the humidity of the day (I wish it would just rain already, I hate it when the air is so stuffy).

We planned on going to one more art gallery, Mo Space, so we walked to 5th Ave. but on the way we saw a hotdog food truck just after 11th Ave. Dan says his life wouldn’t be complete until he eats hotdog from a food truck so I let him. The food was surprisingly expensive, but it was good so I say it is worth the bucks.

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Look at that big kid happily ordering hotdogs.

We just sat there and ate our food, and I think this is more romantic than eating in a three-course-meal restaurant because (1) it is very spontaneous and relaxed, (2) it is less expensive, and (3) we don’t have to put our best foot forward and feel uncomfortable playing dress up and ordering food we couldn’t finish nor afford.

While eating we were debating whether to go to Tim Horton’s for coffee and write our respective pieces there, or find Mo Space first. We tried to waze Mo Space and it is somewhere in 5th Ave. We decided, Mo Space it is.

Sadly we didn’t reach that destination. But we did find our way to this mall, Cyber Center, and we discovered Hamleys toy store, apparently the best toy store in the world since 1760. We played like we weren’t young adults and there’s this cool toy, Snap It. Dan bought a toy so he can play it with his sister, one with a ball that you have to catch with a plate-looking thing with a velcro.

After playing around in the toy store, we decided to give up on finding Mo Space and just went to a “hipster”-looking bar beside a very familiar place to both of us.

There is a bar in P. Burgos st. that used to host World Extravaganza production for open mic nights for singer/songwriters looking for a safe space to hone their crafts. Sadly, that bar changed its branding and preferred to only host DJs instead, so WorldEx set out to find a new home base.

Anyway, beside that is this cool looking pub called Tap Station.

Let me show you why it looks so cool.

They have beer and other drinks on tap! And it looks, according to Dan, very industrial revolution era English pub. Something Ed Sheeran would drink in.

We both ordered a dark roast called “Black Bitch” which is a scottish craft beer I think, I am not so sure because among the things that aren’t in my jurisdiction of expertise are liquors, cars, and [music] gears.

The beer was very dark roasty. It left a bitter after taste in my mouth. But it was good too.

After drinking a pint of beer, we decided to call it a day and started walking back to Lane O.

It was a fun day.

“Convenience store” person

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Went out today with my “best friend” to have lunch and grab coffee and he bought me a sunflower that I have been bugging him for months now to buy for me. Today he fulfilled that promise but only after I told him there are sunflowers available in the supermarket today.

We’ve been “dating” for two years now with no official labels and it is as confusing as hell. I can’t help thinkin he’s ashamed of me that is why he wouldn’t tell his family nor his friends that he likes me.

I feel like a convenience store. It isn’t something you’ll be proud of saying you went there, but it is convenient for waiting and other things. You wouldn’t shout it out to the whole world, you wouldn’t post it in instagram, but you often go there when you are bored and have nothing better to do.

Lately I told him I don’t want to be his almost lover anymore and that we should just stay friends because I do not like the set up he thrives in. Under the pressure of losing his toy, he told his “friends” a.k.a. Band mates that we are “officially dating for some months now” but that was the extent he is willing to go public with me.

Before we parted ways a while ago, he asked me if I will be posting the photos I took on instagram and I asked him why. He asked me if it is okay not to post it because if his mom sees, she will start “bugging him again if we have a thing”. I said okay. Because what was I supposed to say? That it is not okay for me to be kept a secret? That I feel like him being “in a relationship with me” is bugging him? So I said yeah sure okay.

But it is not okay. At the end of the day nothing changed.

He successfully manipulated me into thinking that he will go public with me. But he had no plans to do so whatsoever.

And honestly, I don’t want to be a convenience store person anymore. I believe someone out there is willing to shout out to the world that they are in love with me. Who won’t be bugged but excited when his parents asks about me. Who will talk to his friends about me. Someone who is not ashamed to love me.

Apparently he isn’t that guy. I can’t help but think I am wasting time.

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Love, dearest Sherlock, really is a dangerous disadvantage.

When you try your best but you don’t succeed…

Today, our midterm grades were released in Research Methodology and I/O Psychology subjects. The passing [transmuted] grade for major subjects such as those mentioned is 76. I got a 74.

And I could make excuses for myself such as summer classes use a different grading system than classes taken in the regular semesters, or I was high on antibiotics and suffering from acute pharyngitis during the major exams so I naturally got lower scores, or its okay there is still the finals, but that does not change the fact that I failed in a standardized-slash-objective evaluation of academic performance.

Does that make me a dunce? Probably not. Does it make me feel like crap? Definitely.

The fact that doing well regularly on a daily classroom discussion, actively participating when I am so afraid of speaking, and doing everything in my power to get decently high scores in quizzes are not enough to earn me a passing grade is simply devastating.

I always hear people talking about how the educational system in the Philippines doesn’t cater to the different, the creatives, and the “I need some time to process these information” type, but I never felt it in its full impact the way I did today.

I’ve always been good at being standardized. People often say I am intelligent when in fact, all I did was memorize a bunch of stuff that I will probably forget about in a month. So when I am in a situation where memorization is out of the question (disoriented from a sickness and the drugs prescribed for the cure), I obviously fail at it. And I hated it.

I hated the feeling I got while reading the questions in the test, knowing I read it somewhere in my notes, or remembered my professor mention something about it in class, but I can’t remember the term so I couldn’t give a proper answer. I hated knowing that if I wasn’t sick at that time I would have probably shined and even got an 86 or something.

Sadly, the grading system does not consider “Effort” as an objective criteria. There are no grades, no incentives or recognition for trying hard.

I realized that the educational system of the Philippines is designed for shaping and honing manufacturers. Blend in, do what society dictates is right and pleasing, do a good job and you will be considered a success. Here, there is no room for innovation and ingenuity. That is why most Filipino inventors sell their inventions to foreigners and those foreigners get the patent for it.

Here no one praises you for trying. Your value is dictated by the worth of the goods you produce. Your efforts do not matter, what’s important is the quality of your output. If you are slow in getting things done, you are already a failure and a nuissance.

Average is success in this country. If you go above the norm you are seen as a threat and people will try to pull you down. If you go below the norm, you will be de-valued and ridiculed for your incompetency.

Psychology should be about acknowledging the uniqueness of every human being, but psychologists are measured and trained to measure with a one-size-fits-all instrument.

The irony of things. We aim to measure the differences between our clients but we are gauged based on the distance of our deviation from the norm. We strive for culture-fair tests and fail miserably at considering that maybe, just maybe, standardization is not the key.

Constructivists argue that reality is subjective to each individual. What might be true for you might not be true for me.

Dearest standardized education, you might think that only those who get a certain score are qualified to pass. But we are all students learning at different paces and styles. Please do not normalize the curve. Surely there is a better way of evaluating a person’s achievement than stardized tests.

Then again, maybe I am just bitter about my grades.

Of early mornings and midnights [and trying to be productive in between]

I enrolled in advanced summer classes last month to catch up on units since I am way past my supposed graduation date.

So, I am taking up three major subjects that I am required to finish in 6-7 weeks and the requirements for finals are a bit overwhelming: a thesis title proposal and defense, a seminar organized by us, and administering psychological tests and writing a psychological report on the client.

But all that seems small to the overwhelming fact that for five days a week, for the next six or seven weeks, I will have to wake up REALLY EARLY. Like 5 o’clock in the morning early. I am not a morning person–at least not anymore since I started binge-watching series and anime on a daily basis.

Every Monday I will wake up fairly well rested, but come Wednesday, I am cursing the world. Thursdays, I am just running on fumes, and Fridays are “I am literally just zoning out” days.

I have read a lot of blogs and articles online about “how to adjust your sleep cycle to be a healthy and not grouchy morning person” or “the secrets of a good sleep hygiene” or anything along those lines. I have followed tips and advice from several friends. My sleeping habits were so bad, the school doctor actually prescribed some sleeping pills for me.

None of them worked. It is hard when your responsibilities are demanding so early in the morning and your passions are so enticing so late at night. If you are a student with an 8 A.M. class and a band manager with a 9 P.M. gig, and a young adult living alone with laundry to do and dishes to wash, how do you maximize your productivity?

Most people will tell me, just let go of the band scene. It is taking too much precious time from your responsibilities and rest. Others will tell me, “If you are making enough money on the band scene, why not quit school?” These two groups of people, while meaning well and good, simply do not understand.

I need to study hard and graduate and to do that I need to be a good student who goes to class no matter how early or late it is. And besides, I finally found a course that I actually enjoy and love that I don’t mind the pressures it bring, nor the paperworks and mountain load of assignments.

But I also need to be in touch with my artistic side. I can not let go of the music scene, or the spoken word poetry scene whenever I can. It is a part of who I am.

And doing the laundry, cleaning the house, washing the dishes, etc. etc., they are necessary for my health and well-being.

So how do I juggle all this?

Simple. I don’t have gigs everyday, so on nights I am free, I can insert some leisure and study time as well as cleaning time. I can sleep earlier on those days. The weekends are spent for doing the laundry, going out with friends, doing some more studying or cleaning, and definitely some well-deserved rest.

I have survived three weeks of trying to discipline myself into being a morning person now. And while it is hard, especially the past few days since I am sick (Acute Pharyngitis or something like that), and there is literally a major exam tomorrow I haven’t studied for yet (again, resting–you know, sick person), I think I am doing a pretty decent job of keeping my life-work-craft balance in check.

Although every now and then I fall off the wagon by sleeping way too late like 3 A.M. watching Detective Conan. 😂

This is why I am a Sleepless PsychiARTIST.

Why start [yet another] blog?

I’m just some 20-something, BS Psychology student currently studying for a midterm exam in two days. Currently sick in bed and trying to get by reviewing-slash-rewriting notes.

Why suddenly sign-up for a wordpress blog?

Well first, I’ve been meaning to do so for quite a while now. I just have no clue what to make my blog about. Others dedicate a blog for specific purposes: food, travel, business, music, etc. which I never got the hang of. You know, sticking to one theme and writing about it.

My mind is always an organized mess–a corner dedicated for a certain topic, but always randomly arranged.

Second, I have always dreamt of being a writer. And I can’t be a writer without writing, right?

Third, I need an electronic space to gather my scattered thoughts and try to make sense of it all. I am sick of playing tug-of-war with my nonexistent organizing skills trying to keep track of all my notebooks, journals, diaries, so I am dumping it all in one site, and just tagging them according to their topic (hopefully I remember to tag this time).

Finally, I need breathing space. Since we live in a world where asking your friends a question will get you a “Google it” reply, because humans are too lazy to listen and Siri is the only one you can talk to and will try to make sense of what you are saying when she doesn’t understand, I often find myself disappointed and unheard.

Having a small voice in a noisy world is exhausting when all you want is to be heard.

And since my wrists will probably give up on me if I pen-and-paper journalled, I settled for typing.

This blog is my breathing space, and hopefully, someday, someone out there will listen.