• 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…

  • Notes on Adulting,  Slice of Life

    How Things Are | I

    Exams – I took an exam last weekend. Whether I pass or not doesn’t matter because if I fail, I’ll try again. But of course, it’s best to be prepared. I am trying not to hinge all my hopes and dreams into one basket. Something I have been guilty of doing for very long and have only learned quite recently not to. We’re guilty of placing all our projected desires into one object and expecting it to fulfill all our needs, may that be a partner, a job, a friend, or a gemstone bracelet with amazonite, tree agate and sodalite to ward off all misfortunes. A poet whom I enjoy…

  • Notes on Adulting,  Slice of Life

    The Challenges of a Filipino Millennial Immigrant

    Healing. The word has become a kind of joke meant for the small stuff. A cheeky answer to questions ranging from how your weekend trip went, or how you found the beyond meat burger to be. I joke about it too, I thank my friends for my week spent in Toronto and how healing it’s been. But looking back, I did mean it more sincerely than I thought. I didn’t realize that I was actually hurting emotionally and mentally because of my move back to Vancouver. Up until I went to counselling I had been struggling with these emotions on my own and trying to work it out. My counsellor…

  • Slice of Life,  Writer's Cafe

    Sunburns

    Hello, it’s been a week since I came back from a two-week stay in the Philippines. My skin is red and raw from sun burn, and the sleeping hours are still skewed. There are many thoughts that have been running through my head ever since I got back. I realized that that trip was a happy goodbye. I was assured that I always had a home and friends who treasured and loved me just because. But it was time to stop looking back and pining for a life I had already left. In the words of my good friend Kristel,”Be yourself! Immerse yourself!” It’s always been my problem, elsewhere was…

  • Nostalgia Pieces,  Writer's Cafe

    An Eternal Summer Afternoon

    I read somewhere how the Philippine government was trying to figure out what to do with 10 million mangoes produced in excess due to the warmer weather. Mango float, mango shake, mango graham, mango juice, mango jam… the list went on in my head. But the list quickly turned into memories of long, languid, hot summer afternoons, and falling mangoes. There was an abundance of mango trees in Area 1. It was a neighbourhood of faculty homes in the fringes of our university. The paved roads had become dusty from continuous plumbing repairs by Manila Water but it was still lush with overgrown plants and trees. There were mostly fruit…