Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Answers Without Filters

My ultra introverted self has awakened again. I intentionally did not join the team at our company Christmas party. I honestly hate parties but what I hate most is partying with noisy, carefree self-labelled socialites dancing with a glass of fake campaign. 

It seemed I was born with Frank Senatra and Nat King Cole serenading me because I prefer quiet, coffee shop dates, painting pictures, reading books and lots of me time. Like my mom, I’d like to observe other people quietly, clam up my thoughts to myself, free up mental space from the jeje crowds and spend more time away from the colorful personalities that regress my opinions and thoughts. Sometimes, time is best served with self.

But I don’t know why unusual characters surround me. I wonder if my friendly aura or smiling face gives away too much. I am sometimes bothered with weird people who stress me too much. Perhaps I was entertaining them too much. 

A former officemate would message me from time to time to ask if he could borrow money. I’d politely say I would try next time, although I reallt don’t have much. It came to a point that he asked me if I had the money (yes, that casually). That was when I was triggered to say I was struggling financially, I can only budget my money for myself. Should have I said that in the beginning, he would not have relied on me. 

Perhaps, I need to be a little more straightforward to others. I’ve been acting too nicely for a long time. It’s time to tick my brain to give answers without filters. 

Advertisements

Having a dose of vitamin sea is never too late when taken on a fair but moody October day. It can be maddening as it can become a concoction for excitement and anxiety. You will never know when the weather might throw some tantrums at you. But it did not matter. All I wanted was to see the clear, blue waters and feel the summer jive of Dingalan, Aurora.

Known as the Batanes of the East, Dingalan is a paradise of tropical beaches, sleeping caves and emerald green landscapes. It’s your preferred breakaway from the toxic city life. Travelling there from Manila would be four hours at most. It is recommended you take along a big van and a battalion of friends to get there.

Travel cost was around P1300. That includes van, boat transfers, lunch, and tour guide. It would be best if you leave at around 1 or 2 am, especially if you’re planning a day tour for this one.

From Dingalan Feeder Port, we were transferred to Dingalan island. We left our bags there before heading off to the Lamao Cave.

On the boat with our tour guide, Kuya Bong Reyes (in grey shirt)

While the others were freaking, I could not help but raise my arms in anticipation at the humongous waves cradling our boat. All I could hear in my head was Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries while we were flowing with the giant tide. The cave was not too far but even so, we had to swim at the mouth of the cave because the boat couldn’t dock near it.

These rocks look pretty but they are actually painful when stepped on…ouch!

Rock climbing (and picture taking) is a must at the Lamao Rock Formation. Just take caution because some parts of the rocks are edgy and sharp.

We decided to leave the island when wild winds were already blowing. Five of us were on the boat when the weather had thrown a nasty fit. She made the boat spin a bit wildly until one of its outriggers was broken when it crashed unto the rocks.

I was calm all along because I trusted in God’s saving grace. The other girls wanted to jump off in panic but I waited for the right timing to jump off the boat. Leaping at the wrong time could lead to something even more fatal. Fortunately, another boat had rescued us back to the island. All that time, I could not help but think of His promise that He’s keeping us sheltered under His wings.

 

PicsArt_10-13-12.08.32[1]

The nasty wound I got from the rocks…I was literally bleeding when we were already on the boat…ouch!

We were all a bit shaken but I could not help but be amused by the thought, “This is more thrilling than Survivor.” A little food can ease the panic off. Maybe a boodle fight of the best seafood and the freshest fruits can do the trick.

But nothing could be worse than a shipwreck than wrong expectations. I was too foolish to expect this was all sand and sea (because I overlooked some details of the itinerary). The highlight of this tour was the Mountain View Deck and it could only be seen if you take a little trek going there.

It would have been an easy thirty-minute trek if it were not for the mud caused by that morning’s rain. As expected, I was already grumpy, mostly when I had to take my slippers off (wrong footwear, folks. Just. Wrong.) Still, just like every other climax, that view of the Pacific can take all despair and breath away.

wp-image--882533580

And not to mention the lighthouse on the other peak.

PicsArt_10-13-12.05.43[1]

Muddy and tired, we had the tour capped at around 4 pm. If I could take home something, that would be some nasty wounds, sand on your flip-flops, and a good story to share.

I will never expect my adventures to be the same again. They’re not textbooks outlined with the same pattern because each has a different impact in our lives. I was amazed I was calm in the midst of danger and I kept myself levelheaded during a crisis. An adventure would never be an adventure without some thrill in it. We need that to break our mundane life. We need a little bit of test to improve our resilience in life.

But next time, I hope my next trip would be a bit more peaceful.

My regards to Khaye Satur for organizing this trip, as well as to our tour guide Kuya Bong Reyes for being such a caring guide for such a mountain slowpoke like me. Also, our trip could not be even spicier without the Hugot Van Manila of Kuya Gherz.

 

PicsArt_10-13-12.09.37[1]

A glimpse of that awesome hugot van…you will find more lovestruck hugot when you jump into the ride. 🙂

Watch out for their next trip through Khaye’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/khayesatours/) and Gherz’s page (https://www.facebook.com/gherz.brizo).

I think I have fallen in love. No, not with some Prince Charming or some knight in shining armor. I have found basking myself in the glory of history. It’s a place where the past is immortalized through houses of grandeur, their stories resonating in my pure, Filipina soul. By the time I have stepped back into reality, I was never the same again. I think I have just left a piece of my heart in Las Casas.

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan is a place owned by Jerry Acuzar, one of the most succesful and richest men in the province. It was built in 2010 but it is continually being developed until today. 

To get there, one has to take a three to four-hour bus ride from the Genesis bus station in Cubao going to Balanga (that would be Php200) and about an hour’s jeepney ride from Balanga to Bagac (Php50). Then, take a Php50 tricycle ride to the very site. I recommend you to leave at around 7 am even if the check-in time is at 2 pm. We were very lucky because our jeepney driver had agreed to take us straight to the resort while charging us only Php80 per person.

Stepping through the gates of Las Casas is like stepping back in time. It embodies everything Filipino, right from the building structures, the camiso de chino and the baro’t saya the staff are wearing to the true blue Pinoy values they are exemplefying. Their friendliness and hospitality are very welcoming for us. I even felt a little embarrassed when they have asked us to carry our bags to our room.

I couldn’t contain my excitement because everything is overwhelmingly IG-worthy. By the time we have entered our overnight abode, I screamed. With that, I was ready with my OOTD. I have to make sure I’d jive well with the place.

A jeep would carry us from the reception, to our quarters and to the little village where las casas (yes, the place literally means “the houses” in Spanish) stand. All houses, which were restored or remodeled, have story to tell. Some of them are linked to our national heroes, some had horror stories but others will just simply bring childhood memories of your old grandma’s house where the smell of burning leaves waft in the morning air. I assure you one day is not enough for all of these tours and activities.

One of the tour guides demonstrating some of the most curious things that could be found in an old house.

A room full of curiosities

Many statues like these playing children are placed in the village

Murals that replicate the works of great Filipino artists in one of the houses.

It would be good if you spend an overnight stay on the weekend because they have cultural shows on Saturdays and special activities on Sundays. One of them was the carabao race, which we have missed unfortunately. Still, we were able to watch a play at the end of the tour, which is about the value of the Filipino.

The carabao parade! We should have followed them to see them race. 🙂

Nighttime at Las Casas is very romantic. I don’t mind not having a date because the sound of the singing violin from afar is enough to melt my heart. If you’re wondering where that sound came from, that was from the open Italian restaurant in the village.

I warn you the food in this place is quite pricey but I can also assure you it won’t disappoint you. You just have to choose whether you like Filipino or Italian cuisine. We have chosen Filipino food because it is good for sharing (one viand costs around Php300-Php500 but a cup of rice is Php50). It is very fulfilling because it is tasty and it is really heavy in the stomach.

Ginataang langka

Liempo

Breakfast is just as good as dinner. Oh, the breakfast buffet is part of our overnight package so we can have as much bread and coffee as we want. I would say again the food is satisfying and superb. It’s enough to keep us going through the rest of the day.

That’s daing na bangus with eggs and fried rice, paired with lomi, fruits and coffee, along woth bread and jam. Who says we’ll be hungry the whole day?

The sea was not swimmable because the waves were dangerously strong. Don’t worry, there’s a small pool near the beach where you can waddle for a morning swim. 

Even after check-out, we can still tour the place in the afternoon. We did not miss the kalesa ride (about Php75 per person) but we were not able to take the balsa ride (which should have been at Php250) because it was beginning to drizzle. We’d rather horse around the rest of the day.

Meet Makisig, the strongest horse in town. I couldn’t imagine him carrying six ladies around town. 🙂

As always, we took a visit at the souvenir shop. I would have loved to take a picture while wearing a traditional Filipino dress at their Photography studio but the minimum price is Php800 to Php900! Nah, forget it. It’s not my pre-nup yet. 

Surprisingly, we only remembered to take a bite at around 3 pm (I told you the breakfast is superb!). Let me remind you that puto (rice cakes) at their snack bar costs at around Php110 for every five, small pieces. Kikiam (a type of Filipino dumpling) costs at around Php90! Oh well, we’d be willing to try it for the sake of experiencing them.

We ended the tour (and the picture taking) past 5 pm. If you don’t plan to bring a car at Las Casas, advise you not to leave the place around that time because there would be no more jeepney going to Balanga. The last jeepney trip would be around 4 or 5pm. The tricycles did take us to Balanga but it’s a bit expensive. 

The gateway to the beach.

We all had our hangovers when we had left the place. If only we could stay longer. The place and the experience Las Casas offers are very satisfying. I’d recommend you to take a room for six if you’re going with a large group because that only costs Php10,800 or Php1800 per person during the weekdays (rates are more expensive on weekends). It would be great to visit the place with your best travel buddies.

From the left Tina, myself, Lans, Ross and Ritz…all aboard to new adventures.

What I love most of all in Las Casas is its tag, “Pride in the past, hope for the future”. Such houses are rarely found in the cities. It is sad many modern Filipinos do not have a sense of history. I admire Mr. Acuzar for keeping the Filipino spirit alive by rebuilding these houses. I hope it is not only the experience the visitors would bring home. I hope everyone who visits Las Casas would also carry the vision Mr. Acuzar has in preserving the Filipino heritage.

Rebooting decisions

I’ve come to a point where I’ve been harboring regrets over the choices I’ve made. There are days when I wonder if I have been richer after taking up psychology or IT instead of Mass Communication. There are also nights when I mourn my decision to leave BPO to pursue the media industry. I could have been at odds with my former co-workers, performing as a manager like them instead of festering my wounds in my failure to become a famous reporter. The 30-year mark in my life (add it with two more years) is another milestone to look back and evaluate myself. What I’ve found was disappointing as I have failed my dreams, my ambitions and myself.

I had shifted from dream to dream as a child. I’ve wanted to become a teacher, a world-renown writer and illustrator, a TV reporter, an advertiser and then a filmmaker. That’s how I’ve ended up in Mass Communication. All I had was passion. I did not realize my college course would never define my final niche. 

I went from job to job. I was given a chance to work as a TV reporter and a segment producer in a small TV station. I attempted going up the ladder by getting into a bigger and more popular station but I did not survive its toxicity. I went back to the corporate world, still not knowing where I should be. Here’s where I’ve recognized the importance of practicality over passion. If I had forseen this twenty years ago, I might have been a richer and a more successful person by now.

But success cannot be found in money or position.

Isn’t it comforting to know that despite of all these circles I have been through, God has this promise imbeded in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I will never forget that peace that washed me like a cool river when I have made my full decision to leave the media industry. God confirmed it even more through other people. It struck me hard when I heard Kris Valloton saay in his teaching (which I will paraphrase) “It dosen’t matter whether we have failed our foremost plans because God still has plan B, C and so on…what matters is His purpose for us.”

I believe I am yet on my way for my purpose to be fulfilled as I continue jumping from crossroad after crossroad. Despite of disappointments, I keep on picking up gems of wisdom. In the end, it is not fame or position that will make me a better person. All these lessons I’ve learned in life will help me find my niche in this life, as well as guiding me to take up the right pathway to my destiny. 

I kept on dreaming colors. They swirl around me like icing on a cupcake that makes me hungry for more. I mix and mold them together until they become trees, mountains, a sunny landscape and a smiling me. I was so inlove with them, I buried them in the secret cupboard in my psyche. But here they are, giggling before the partly opened door after a long hibernation.

It’s been ten years since I messed my fingers and my brush with watercolor. I stared at the newly-bought acrylic tubes with a bit of consternation. However, my excitement was tingled even more by the warm, afternoon sun. It’s like releasing the joy of childhood again. It’s awakening the magic from within.

I thought art was a childish hobby to play along. But I did not realize art is actually a part of my soul. Art is an expression for me. I could do art in Microsoft Paint, Photoshop or in the PicsArt app. But I realized digital media cannot take away the power of art in physical form, particularly paintings.

Just as I love the smell of books, I love the enigma paintings can bring. They carry emotions and nostalgia. They also carry the soul of the artist who made them. That’s the reason I’m always fascinated with the artworks at museums at Ben Cab Museum, the National Museum and the Irish Museum of Modern Art. They are channeling us deep into one’s heart and insights, as well as in another time and space.

As for me, I just love stroking my brush as I try to replicate landscapes and childhood memories. This one is one of my favorites. And it was born about fifteen years ago.

That artistic silence was cut off when I needed it to heal me from a traumatic event months ago. That day, I stupidly sank my smartphone in beachwater while it was sitting in the pocket of my shorts. I could not enjoy my beachside trip in Marinduque because I had no gadget to play around with. I was so attached with my phone, I felt I have lost a loved one. I know that sounds stupid, but think of the hardwork I have done just to own a smartphone – for the first time! For a month without one, I then focused my attention on scrapbooking.

I did that for a few friends who were leaving the company. I gathered our other friends who unleashed their artistic creativity on paper. I searched for old colored pencils, brushes and art set. They need to be replaced. I need a new set of color tubes.

I was compelled to buy acrylic paint because I something to mark my newfound cane at Mt. Ulap. Months after, I was encouraged to go beyond this because of a friend.

For now, I would not reveal this part of the story. I just could not contain the joy of mixing colors and painting again. All I could think for now is to give away all my artworks because I believe art is for sharing. I hope my paintings would never serve a selfish purpose but it would bring encouragement and joy to many people.

Suddenly…I Felt Lonely

I snuck out my phone like a cheeky kid keeping a little secret. My roommate was already sleeping soundly but I could not keep the blue light from this little smartphone from invading the pitch-black room. It became my habit to scroll through posts after posts before I sleep, in which became a daily, endless pursuit. There were rants, eventless thoughts, then family pictures and small reunions. I see I have about a thousand ‘friends’ popping up to prove their happiness and existence but none of them – indeed none – bothered this poor little soul who was watching aimlessly at their posts.

And then suddenly…I felt lonely…

Technology has its load of ironies. It is made to reach friends quickly but it has the tendency to isolate us from deep-rooted relationships. Research shows a link between Facebook and loneliness, which is now on the rise. But I surmise social media should not be blamed for the weakening socialization among real human beings.

Social media, just like any technology, catches our attention easily because it is speedy and accessible. Humans, natural braggers and procrastinators as they are, tend to leave everything in the care of technology, even communication. Gone are our penpal friends who would wait anxiously for our letter for months. There are no more mailboxes that would surprise us with the awaited cassette tape that would play dad’s deep, sleepy voice from the Middle East. Retelling a harrowing story would not be a struggle anymore because everyone could see that groundbreaking post that could be shared to a thousand more users. We have grabbed the wondrous and omnipresent opportunity the social media has given us. We have grabbed its invitation to create “The Platform of Me”.

Those posts, rants, selfies, pictures and videos are everything about me. Me, myself and I. You are my audience and you will just watch how I perform. I will let you react to what I can do and I expect you to like everything I will share.

Admit it. Pride is everybody’s hidden monster. We all love the attention. We all love the applause.

But the moment we become the “Audience Of You”, there is the tendency to be envious and longing. You should be on the stage with me. You should also be in those family gatherings, dinner parties and every fun event in life boasted by me. You long for me to say hello at least but it ends in a vain tragedy of self. Soon, it could lead to isolation, loneliness and then depression.

I immediately closed my phone before I began to spiral down in the dead of the night. I guess it’s time to unwind from every selfish thought that could toxify me. Then, I brought to mind a few friends I need to catch up with.

Don’t expect everyone in your friends list to worry about you. Just as I have said before, not all of them are your real friends. Such expectations could only disappoint us. But never forget to catch up with your real friends – and I really mean the real ones. And, oh, make sure you don’t end up just chatting in FB Messenger. Make the effort to show up, be present and be alive with them.

Little Judah was already tired. He’s just three years old and he had this long, unwavering patience not found in most children. Lans had to tag the little boy with us because she was his babysitter for the day.

“Ban-og ka (Are you tired)?” she asked Judah in Ilocano.

The little boy shook his head a wee bit as we were trudging along an inclined path. Still, she lovingly gave him a piggyback ride on her back.

I was impressed with this little boy. He has been with us in an event full of adults, an almost childless place where he could have the right to be bored and display social tantrums. But I did not hear him whimper a sigh of complaint. I have noticed that this has been the personality of most Igorot people – they are not pushy and they are very kind. I wonder how well they were raised as children. I could see that Lans and with the other adults around him are raising him well.

Most parents today, especially those who the Igorot people would label as lowlanders, are quite confused with the thin line of discipline and cruelty, as well as kindness and spoiling children. I find some parents not being aware that their way of discipline is actually destroying them.

I had observed how some parents would berate and try to embarrass their children in public by calling them “stupid”, “fool”, or “useless”. A former colleague felt sorry for a three or two-year-old who was berated by his father by blurting out a curse just because the child accidentally spills his drink inside the jeepney. Parents who would scold like that would never discipline a child because they are just declaring who their children might be when they grow older. They usurp their authority as a parent because they don’t realize there is power when they are declaring names over their children.

I must admit I don’t like children who do not regard their elders around them. There was a five-year-old girl who did not give me a mano (the Tagalog tradition of children placing their elder’s hands on their forehead as a sign of respect), despite her mother nearly screaming at her to do it. In return, I could not help but glare at her threateningly to set down her utensils because she was already waving them before our faces (despite her mother screaming at her again). Most of the times, screaming and shouting is not the way to discipline them. I guess children are tired of their parents’ screams so they would taunt them by closing their ears. A sincere heart-to-heart talk is all they need because they need to understand the consequences of their actions.

Let me go back to little Judah. Now, Judah has an elder sister named Blessie. At one time, Blessie made drawings on the wall and Judah imitated her. You know how messy a clean wall can become when scribbled by a playful kid. Lans, in her patient nature, set aside Blessie and talked with her gently.

“Did you see the drawing on the wall?”

The little girl nodded.

“Did you see what Judah did after you wrote on the wall?”

No long sermon needed. By the sound of her question, Blessie understood her mistake. She nodded without a word.

“Do you see it’s wrong to draw on the wall?”

Blessie nodded.

“That’s right. You should be a good example to your little brothers because you are their ate (elder sister). So be careful with what you do. Ok?”

No raising of voice. Words were just spoken calmly like the morning waves of the sea. But it deeply strikes the conscience like an arrow. Blessie did not leave any marks on the wall anymore.

It’s tragic when our lighthearted culture dictates it looks cute when small children display tantrums around elders because they look funny. But tolerating that would only tolerate rebelliousness. That’s why when parents correct bad habits by the time children are older, these kids snap out of it and slap it back on their parents’ faces.

Much needed to correct in the way we correct our children. Somehow, most parents in my generation are not used to be disciplined because they belong to a generation waning away from the strict authoritarian rule exuded by our much older Spanish ancestors. They have created their own way of discipline. There is a need for parents to be aware how to discipline their children well without removing love out of their system. There is a greater need for parents to learn how to pass down good traits to their own children in a well-mannered and disciplined way.

I have this sense that our culture has a big factor in the way we react to correction and discipline. Truly Proverbs is already advising us to “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” If we instil into them the wisdom to do what’s right at an early age, they will embrace it as they grow up. When we discipline them in the correct way, they will grow up as good-mannered citizens. With this, we can be proud of ourselves and with them, because we are adding up another history maker in this generation that needs deeper understanding on what is right or wrong.

Tag Cloud