• setting boundaries
    Essays,  Slice of Life

    Onion Bomb: When Setting Boundaries Make You Cry

    I use nicety and being dense (or dumb) as a defence mechanism. While not all the time, it sometimes helps protect my energy  in situations. Specially when working in customer service. That sarcastic Karen? Mansplaining Bob? Whatever they’re trying to passive-aggressively hint at doesn’t land, so they’re left feeling unfulfilled. And that’s kind of fun to see. But it can also cost me my peace. I feel waves of anger and exhaustion when I can’t fully express my authentic self. Can we also talk about dimensionality? For a long time I’ve always felt like I’ve been pegged as the nice girl, the sweetheart. And when I deviate from that, it’s…

  • childhood in mindanao
    Culture,  Essays,  Slice of Life,  Writer's Cafe

    Growing Up in Mindanao: Childhood Memories

    Quite recently, I’ve been having flashes of my childhood memories growing up in Mindanao. My childhood memories are so rich with images of the country side, long bus rides through mountain tops and coastal roads. When I started college, the bus rides turned into overnight boat rides and the boat rides turned into the more frequent flights. But I always found the bus rides and boat rides more memorable. The longer stretch of time spent sitting and looking out into the landscape afforded for more daydreaming and introspection.  This may have caused such memories to be steeped into my subconscious. A couple of days ago, my mom sent us a…

  • Essays,  Slice of Life

    Stop and Smell the Flowers

        It seems like everyone hates 2020. It has for sure exposed long running inequality and corrupt systems. And while a lot of people feel like their lives have been thrown off balance,  my inner self seems to be unperturbed by this pandemic. Well, first of all, because I am cushioned by the privilege of living in Canada and working in a bigger company. Second, I have for the most part of my later life been a latebloomer. Making this supposed setback nothing new. (Or maybe, my brain just blocked off all my anxieties for the future as a trauma response, who knows?) My timeline’s always been skewed with…

  • Slice of Life

    Love Language: Leave Me Alone

    I haven’t been feeling well lately. One day, I woke up with a migraine, and on another day I had a sudden stomach cramp at work. The kind where you start having cold sweats and there’s a sharp pain in your stomach. It felt like the onset of diharrea. Anyway, the cute guy at work walked up to and asked me if I was working alone and all I could do was pretend I wasn’t in pain or wanting to run to the bathroom. I looked at my watch and told him “right now, yes.”  Then he mumbled something and walked away. My coworker arrived soon and I just thanked…

  • Slice of Life,  Writer's Cafe

    No Quarantine and Chill

    The illusion of choice – It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve gone back to work. I’ve been processing the emotions that came over me when I decided to say yes to going back to work. On the surface, I had a choice. Even if I didn’t go back to work, I would still be covered by the benefits given by the government for at least one more month. My needs weren’t urgent since I still had family who could foot the rent. But for how long would that remain sustainable? I thought about how our workforce was being cut and if things didn’t go back to normal, I wouldn’t…

  • City stories,  Culture,  Nostalgia Pieces,  Slice of Life,  Writer's Cafe

    Mostly Manila

    Some time in 2017- It was a scene straight out of a coming of age film. A jam packed apartment turned bar, the crowd singing along with the playing band. My friend whizzes through and gets me to follow her to the washroom where we stand inside with the door ajar as Dee looks on. “Zip me up!” Stellar had been struggling to get into her dress and decided that she’d take an Uber to Saguijo with an unzipped dress instead of changing into another one. “I’m stubborn I know.” She tells me as I try my best to zip her up. “I don’t think it’s you, it’s the dress,…

  • Culture,  Nostalgia Pieces,  Writer's Cafe

    Glimpses of a Filipino Holy Week

    Growing up in the Philippines, I’ve taken for granted the traditions and celebrations we do every year. Christmas starts in September. You won’t miss it because radio stations and establishments start playing Christmas songs on the first day of September. It’s also a very particular type of Christmas song. It’s the ones sang my Jose Mari Chan, dubbed by Philippine popcult enthusiasts as the Father of Philippine Christmas, probably more popular than Santa himself. Over the next months they’ll start rolling out the ones sang by Mariah Carey and other artists but it always starts with Jose Mari Chan. I didn’t pay attention to this until one day while on…

  • Slice of Life,  Writer's Cafe

    Life in the Time of Corona: Dispatch from Vancouver Week 1

    Monday, March 16, 2020 – Our store hours changed and so my coworker and I had an hour of cleaning our counters and taking snaps of products to advertise on our social media accounts before opening shop. Managers were letting us know that decisions were still being made as we spoke. As I was getting off work, I said goodbye to my coworker. We usually say things like “see you tomorrow!” or whatever day one was scheduled but we refrained from doing so because we didn’t know if the store would decide to close down temporarily. “Hey, you never know!” We told each other as we parted. My sister and…

  • Slice of Life,  Writer's Cafe

    How Things Are| II

    Every time I come from a trip to the Philippines I always feel refreshed. But for this recent trip, it was more revelations than rejuvenation. My mistake is always forgetting to write down my observations and feelings after every trip. There is a kind of intensity about life in the Philippines that makes it almost impossible to reflect if one doesn’t make an effort to do so. This is why I’m taking advantage of the quietness back here in Canada, before I dive into my ordinary life and forget about these thoughts. Corona, an observation – Almost every establishment back in the Philippines had a fever gun. But aside from…

  • Essays,  Letters,  Writer's Cafe

    Manila and its Uncertainties

    I don’t know if you will like Manila. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a dirty, chaotic, third world city. The streets are filled with grime and potholes. The people push past you or stay grounded when you try to make your way as you whisper excuses. But I still love it here. I fell in love with it as a kid when my father first brought us back for a visit. We had lived in my grandmother’s marbled, three-story house. The house was a beautiful mid century modern piece of architecture – designed and built by my architect grandfather. The stairs and walls were made of concrete…