Empowered 

Two days ago, someone gave an offensive and unnecessary remark about the way I look. It left me hurt, sad, and very angry. I didn’t say anything at that instance, and opted to let my anger pass and calm myself, and confront that person the following day. I prayed on it, and finally resolved to just let the incident pass, choose my battles. 

The following day, I chanced upon an article on The Female Network. It was a feature about Jodilly Pendre’s (Asia’s Next Top Model runner-up)  own struggles (similar to mine), and how she lifted herself up from it. How very timely and apt to read about that. And right at that moment, I became even more convinced that I had made the right decision – – – to be the better person. I picked up an idea from Jodilly, to write to myself, as a way to release my anger and frustration, and eventually, let the hurt go. 

The anger is  gone, and I can laugh about it now. 

Earlier, with a bunch of guts and kapal ng mukha, not expecting that Jodilly would even pay any attention, I wrote her a short message on Instagram to thank her for the inspiration and encouragement. I believe, when someone gives you inspiration and encouragement, you let that person know. That’s one of the many ways you can spread love, show appreciation, lift each other up, and hopefully, inspire as well.

She replied. 🙂 

Smile. We’re all beautiful. ❤️

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I AM BEAUTIFUL

Dear Doreen:


Yesterday, just as you were about to conclude what was supposed to be a great day, someone ruined it for you, with words that you feel (you believe) although meant to be funny as a joke, were unnecessary, offensive, and hurtful. That person might not have realized it, but her words stabbed you in the gut, quite badly. Her words left you embarrassed, angry, hurt, and worst of all, ashamed of the way you look.

Go ahead. I am allowing you some time to feel the pain. Cry if you must. Let it out, and let it go.

How very timely and apt that you chanced upon an article about someone else’s own struggles and how she lifted herself from such. It gave you some relief and assurance that you are not alone, didn’t it?  You are not the only one who gets undermined for the way you look. You are not the only one who has body issues. Everybody has it. But these so-called body imperfections are what makes you who you are. These imperfections are what makes you, YOU. These imperfections make you beautiful.

Yes, Doreen, you are beautiful. Say it again. You are beautiful. One more time, and this time, mean it. You are beautiful.

Look, I know you’re tired of the hurt, the pain caused by people’s words, expectations, and opinions of you. Stop listening to those that pull you down, and start appreciating yourself for who and what you are. I know it isn’t easy. It never really is, but it is possible — attainable, and you can do it.

Realize and acknowledge that as you go through life, you will still meet more people who will size you up and judge you. Let them. Keep in mind that you can never really please everyone, and you don’t really, actually have to.

Cast away negativity, and keep yourself open to positivity, always.

I love you. ❤️

Vertigo 

I can barely open my eyes

And the rectangular lamps that hang above me, promptly providing light are only making it worse

The loud bantering of people nearby are like a series of thunder in a sudden downpour

I want to just crawl, hide, cowl in the darkness

Take a deep sought-after breath, close my heavy eyes, lay in the peace that my pillows bring

Embrace the calm, everything is now quiet in its tranquil place. 

Notify

It’s a new day marked by the sun’s warm breeze

That slowly drifts in her room through the rainbow-tinted windows

She gently opens her eyes and quickly begins to have sweet fleeting thoughts of him

She wonders, also hopes and half-expects,

Do I have a message from him?

Knowing clearly well that a message meant he thought of her, too

And that he had greeted the day ahead with the same wish and hope that she had

She is not aware of it, but even before she had stood and gotten out bed

She had already decided on the kind of day she’ll have

Where a message meant the promise of the most wonderful day

And where none meant she’d rather not have stood and just slept the day away

This is how she lives

Day after day, after

Her happiness, her sadness, her life

All depending on the time and effort

He was willing to offer and give

So today, she reaches for her phone with great anticipation

Anxious and nervous

She reaches and struggles with her thumb

Unaware of the tragedy in her reality

How she relies on someone else for the inevitable

Happiness or sadness that’s yet to come.

Sanitize

I wake up and my hands wake up with me
I work, and yes, they work with me

The right writes endless strokes and dotted lines

Smoothly glides the tip of my pen against the vast white paper on my desk

It turns every page I lay my eyes on

And closes anything that needs to halt.

The left – – – it reaches, grabs, pushes and pulls, and serves as a cushion for my chin or my cheek, whichever is more comfortable

At some point, my right lets go of the pen

Tired and needing of some rest

It reaches for a small white bottle that rests in front of me

Its labels adorned with the daintiest pastels that easily catch the eyes

My right takes hold of the bottle and sprays some of its contents on my equally tired left palm

One, two sprays, and when I’m feeling a bit more generous, three, three sprays

A cold refreshing chill fills my palm

Complemented by a cool fresh innocent scent that can  soothe one’s weary soul

I gently rub my right hand against my left

Gently and softly, as if each one is giving the other a massage

Once I’m done, I allow the two unite

I lift them closer to my face, close enough for me to embrace their scent

And there, right at that spot, right at that moment

My hands and I allow ourselves a brief interlude from another day that’s about to end. 

What It Means To Be Present 

I’m sitting at a Korean chicken place waiting for my takeout. I am surrounded by tables of young students, some women dining alone, and families having their Saturday lunch. I am reminded of those Sundays mom and dad took my siblings and I out for lunch after hearing mass. I used to look forward to weekends because it meant not just a break from school, but more importantly, it’s time spent with family. It’s a time everyone listened to each one’s story, shared on food, and cared for nothing else but having fun. 
My trip down nostalgia is interrupted as I glance around me again. I see other people dining, talking momentarily, but quickly bowing their heads to tinker with their phones. I think maybe if the lights are switched off, and there’s no sunlight coming in from outside, the light from everyone’s phones would be enough to see in the dark. The faint laughter coming from a few tables is overpowered by the deafening music from stereo speakers. The picture I see now is the complete opposite of how it was before. 
Truly, being present is not just being physically there at that moment. To be present is to engage.
*photo borrowed from the internet*

Jitters

Every year since I finished high school, around March and April, I get constantly bothered by an uneasy feeling. I usually get fast and hard thumps on my chest and a troubled tummy. I get anxious, nervous, and fearful that something bad is about to happen even when there’s none. It has become so much of a normalcy that I already have a name for it — “End of the School Year or Graduation Season Woes.”

I finished high school in 1995, but I did not graduate. I studied at a non-graded school, from Kindergarten to Senior High, where students learn and master lessons at their own pace, and unlike other schools, students do not receive numerical grades (during our time, at least), but rather checks (if passed) and squares (if failed).

Unfortunately for me and to make a long sad story short, I was not able to finish all my (graduating) requirements on time and graduate with the rest of the batch because of poor choices and priorities. To make things worse, I kept everything from my parents.

I fooled around instead of prioritizing my studies. I lied to my parents even up to the point when I already knew things had gotten worse, and I already needed (their) help. 

I lied to my parents, humiliated them, and broke their hearts and trust in me.

In order not to repeat my graduating year though and still be able to enrol for freshman college on time, my mom had to practically beg teachers to allow me some time to finish all my requirements. I was given only a week and a half to finish a year’s worth of Physics, Trigonometry, and Geometry. A year’s worth in a week and a half. 

I was dang lucky enough to even be given another chance, so finish, I did. And I was able to enrol for college the same time as everyone else.

Every time I’d share this story, people are left in awe at how I was able to accomplish all those in less than two weeks. What they fail to see though is how and why it had come to that. I fooled around and lied. I chose to have fun and defy my parents. Plain and simple — there’s absolutely nothing amazing about that, at all. And if given the chance, I wouldn’t want to go through it again; I would do things differently. I may have learned lessons from it later on, but the difficulties and hurt I had put my parents in, are totally not worth it.

That’s why, after all these years, I still get these bothersome feelings around graduation season. It reminds me of a time when I was at my most foolish self. It reminds me of a time I hurt the two people, who despite the betrayal and lies, still chose not to leave me alone to deal with the mess I have made for myself, and forgive me for it.

And I guess that’s also why, after all these years, I continue to share this story, not just so that others may somehow learn from it, but also, in the hopes that with every re-telling and sharing of the story, I learn to forgive myself as well.

*Photo borrowed from the internet.