• 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…

  • 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…