• 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…

  • Essays,  Notes on Adulting,  Writer's Cafe

    Growing Up Good

    On my recent trip back to my hometown I found my diary from when I was seventeen years old, in it I wrote “My boyfriend is a chauvinist. I need to get a new one.” I burst out laughing when I read that, truly my higher self knew what she was talking about. I wished I had ended it shortly after, as I constantly question why I still dated that person for the next seven years. But now I’m also thanking and honouring myself for getting out of it. I have come a long way from that relationship and have learned many lessons in the process. International Women’s Day reminded…

  • Essays,  Letters,  Writer's Cafe

    Pebble in My Shoe

    It’s fall where you are. Where I am there is only either the scorching heat or the lashing rains. I may be exaggerating a little. Fall, even though I am far away from the scent of pumpkin spice and the sight of  fallen leaves- fall, still reminds me of you. It’s not something I consciously think about. Maybe it’s an internal clock- a clock that doesn’t exactly know the specific time of day, but one that knows seasons and sentiments. It’s an inconvenient feeling- that feeling of nostalgia for happier times. A pebble in my shoe, specially now that I’m busy living a different life.

  • Essays,  Letters,  Writer's Cafe

    A Darker Shade

    I don’t think we will ever witness the first snowfall of the year together or that I’ll run back to you the way  I did when I first left. Somehow, I think I knew this when I decided to pursue other things more than you. I knew time would change me somehow. Without you, I could learn to see my own value without having to measure myself against the standards you had set for yourself. I knew they were superficial, that sooner or later you would realize this. But I couldn’t wait around for that to happen.  It wasn’t to say that I was unhappy with you – on the…

  • Essays,  Nostalgia Pieces,  Writer's Cafe

    Third World Worries

    I remember the many nights spent walking in the heat and dust, sitting through 2-hour bus rides stuck in traffic, walking through the flooded streets of Chinatown. I remember you bringing me hot noodle soup and jelly rolls when I got sick, and buying me ice cream every day of the summer we spent together. I remember how we tried to keep from falling apart as we waded through all the inconveniences of a third world country – The floods, the traffic, the heat, the congestion, angry coworkers . You came home every night dissatisfied, phone constantly ringing. You always assured me that everything was okay as long as I…

  • Essays,  Writer's Cafe

    I am Brown and Both

    I understand that it was made in jest- that I could not be considered Mindanaoan or even Filipino because I left the Philippines. The thing is I still want to answer those statements, because I got a lot of flak even before I left. Why would you leave? Don’t you love the Philippines? You’re forsaking the country. You’re a traitor. Hmm, I wonder- the heroes we have hailed before us also left the motherland. I wouldn’t equate myself to being a hero but you get the drift. My being Canadian is an added layer to my identity- it does not eliminate my birth, my childhood, my life experiences in this country…

  • Essays,  Writer's Cafe

    Never The Same Love Twice

    One– You were a chubby ten year-old and your mom made sure to have her assistant bring you imported candies and a rose stem. Two– Starting to blossom at twelve, the boy on the 3rd row took notice, gave you a rose each day before the fourteenth. Three– Just a highschool freshman when a messenger comes barging in the ladies’ bathroom with a bouquet of roses and a note asking you out to Junior’s prom. Four– You were sixteen expecting nothing when your ex visits your classroom and hands you a Hershey bar with a note of apology  for not getting you anything the year before. Five– You were seventeen and you gave the…

  • Essays,  Writer's Cafe

    Crooked, Beautiful Things

    I used to dream of capturing beautiful things when I was a kid. I think that was one of the main reasons why I wanted to be a filmmaker before I even knew what it was called. I wanted to capture the sunlight on someone’s hair or the flowers on a pretty white house’s windowsill. But growing up I realized that beauty wasn’t enough, I wanted the energy, the feelings that radiated from those images. I wanted images that had a life of its own, that had stories to tell. And this is what I realized while I waded through teenage insecurities, adolescent angst and adulthood – life won’t always…

  • Essays,  Writer's Cafe

    A Thanksgiving for All Seasons

    Along with the coming of autumn, I feel like being reborn. After a slow, and painful death, the past four years seem long gone and I am shedding the remnants of my past . The starting over is always a struggle – one I often forget while living through the daily drudgery. Even sans Turkey dinner and cranberry sauce, I still have so much to be thankful for. I am thankful to know that there are kinder men, kinder than the men who cry  and tell you they love you then betray you the moment your plane takes off. I am thankful that I have finally allowed myself the opportunity…

  • Essays,  Nostalgia Pieces,  Writer's Cafe

    An Urban Life

    When I am back in Manila I will live in an old dingy two-storied wooden apartment, with a boyfriend who doesn’t mind if I model clothes or make-up. We would have pets, maybe a dog or a goldfish and a turtle. On Sundays we’ll while away our time watering and talking to our plants, lying on the couch and feeling the warm air waft through our dusty windows. We will shut our laptops and tablets, hide them in the closet and take out dozens of books to read in the afternoon. We will light incense and bow to the universe, offer food to the gods and munch on them afterwards.…