6 Money Mistakes I Made In My Twenties

6 Money Mistakes I Made In My Twenties

I was listening to this Linya-Linya Show episode a few days ago and they were talking about money matters and how the “fellow 22s” (listeners of the show) may enjoy having financial freedom earlier than the rest of the kids who don’t listen to the show. Chz. They talked about compounding interest, resisting online budol, pyramiding schemes, pagpapautang, etc. It’s a good effisode, Salve Duplito explains everything so well that even people who know nothing about investment can grasp the concept easily, but I felt it was lacking in the basics of spending and saving up your money.

Hep! Hindi ako expert ha, lalong hindi pa ako mayaman pero after working for a decade and handling and mishandling my money in more ways than one, I just felt compelled to write about my own money mistakes because feeling ko lang naman ha, mej intermediate na yung tips on investing na nabanggit sa episode. Over the years, I have learned that may tamang paraan ang tamang paghawak ng pera o ang paggastos nito – lalo kung hindi ka lumaking Ayala o Sy o Tan. Kung lumaki kang tulad ng mga nabanggit, hindi para sa ‘yo ang pang-hampaslupang learnings na mga ito.

Not paying attention to my Personal Financial Management class in college

When I was in college, we had a minor subject called Personal Financial Management and I didn’t pay any attention to it, as in wala akong maalala sa topics, kaya ayon, boblaks ang finances ko in the first few years, bukod sa maliit din naman talaga ang sweldo ko at hindi pa ako marunong makipag-haggle sa tamang sweldo noon. On a side note, sana itinuturo rin sa eskwelahan kung paano ang tamang pag-negotiate sa sweldo, ‘no? All I can remember was trying to finish requirements for that class so I can focus more on my major subjects. Little did I know, yun pala ang may pinakamalaking ambag sa totoong mundo kaysa sa Introduction to Mass Communication class na pinagka-stress-an ko many years ago. Nagkainisan pa kami ng groupmates ko at one point jusko hindi worth it.

What I Learned: Wala talagang ambag yung media theories sa buhay ko. Shattered lahat yan when I started working in the media. Kaiyak. But knowing how to handle our money is something we all should know how to do na sana yung mga PFM classes idudukdok sa isip ng bawat estudyante na tipong may disclaimer na “kung ayaw mong masayang ang perang kikitain mo pag nagtatrabaho ka na, ayaw mong mangutang o ma-scam or worst, maging taong grasa pagtanda mo, makinig ka sa klaseng ‘to” ganyan. Siguro mas nag-pay attention ako. Sa halip, bukod sa sarili kong pagkatuto sa mga kanda-leche-leche kong money decisions haha, I also learned from friends how they handle their money, yung mga real-life experiences at syemps, researched on the basics and tips of this and that when it comes to money.

And to this day, I still continue to look at loopholes on how I handle my money and try to make things better. Reddit has good stories from people on how they save up, even PESO Sense on Facebook if you want to learn from people’s firsthand experiences and mistakes. Kaka-inspire yung mga grabe mag-ipon dun!

What budget???

Satrue lang, wala rin naman talaga akong iba-budget during my first year of earning money. As a minimum wage earner, laging ubos talaga sweldo mo promise. Tapos late ka pa lagi haha so may kaltas ka pa nyan. Jusko. Minsan, binabalikan ko yung days na yun tapos naiisip ko paano ako nabuhay sa ganoong klaseng sweldo every cut off? Jusko apaka-thankless. Haha!

Years later, I started earning better, but I still didn’t know how to handle my money. Basta mabigay ko na ang ambag ko sa bahay, all my money are as good as “yes, I will buy that shoes!” “Kain tayo sa masarap!” o “Nood tayo ng sine thrice a week!” Kung may matira sa ATM bago ang next payday, then yes, more money to spend! If wala, e di tipid-tipid!

What I Learned: There are a lot of ways to budget your money. It’s easier for people who gets the same amount of money every fortnight or every month, it’s harder for those who work freelance, because you have to be more mindful and predict your earnings and it’s waaay harder for those who run their own business. I do not have an idea on how they do it, wala nun dito hehe.

But as someone who has experienced earning through salaries and from freelance work, magkaiba sila.

When I used to do freelance, I was super, super stingy when it comes to money since I don’t know when I’ll get another gig na malaki. You really do have to be mindful of your expenses. I used to list all my expenses para alam ko saan napupunta pera ko. I rarely spend money on wants because I always think about “the rainy days.” Hindi pa ko ganun kagaling mag-negotiate for my work, so maliit lang din ang kita than other freelancers. I earn more on the side now that I know how to value my work. Sobrang laking difference!

As someone who gets the same amount every payday, my budgeting’s as simple as the zero-based budgeting system. I distribute my money on expenses, savings, and wants. Other people do the 50-30-21 system. Basta ako, whatever it is that you end up following, please please always put money on your savings account. It also helped that I first started listing down my expenses so I’d know where to cut back on expenses para sumakto. If kulang, e di raket ka. Kung may gusto kang bilhin, either raket ka or pag-ipunan.

If I do get a project, I divide it by three. Say for instance, I get a project that will pay me P30,000. I’d allocate 10,000 to savings, the other 10,000 to emergency fund, and the other 10,000 for my present self. I could spend it any way I want to or even save it if I want to. Basta guilt-free money for spending yun. Before, I usually put everything on my savings account, but it left my present self so unhappy because she worked hard for it, pero ni hindi man lang niya na-experience maski piso so she ended up having “utang to self” tapos nakaka-guilty din. Not a good feeling. So what I did, I rewarded her with guilt-free money to spend, because she earned it naman. Kahit gaano pa kalaki o kaliit yan, yan ang sistema na nagwo-wor sa ‘kin ngayon. 3k for a quick project? E di tig-wa-1k sila! Future self happy, crazy kailangan mo dagdagan emergency fund mo self happy, and present self happy. Everybody happy!

Too lazy to open a bank account separate from my payroll account

I remember treating my payroll bank account as my savings account na rin haha. Yes, ganun ako ka-naive before. Basta nasa bangko naman yang pera na yan e. Di yan mawawala. I was never taught to open another bank account separate from my payroll. Nor did I have the ‘common sense’ to do it, then. Sobrang YOLO wooh! I fell into the “bata pa naman ako, marami pa kong time mag-ipon” trap. And I fell hard.

Nung nahimasmasan ako, I tried opening one at the nearest BPI sa office, but BPI denied me of opening a bank account for reasons I will never understand. Kesyo ayaw tanggapin yung temporary ID na bigay ng GMA. (Hindi kasi ako regular employee) Kesyo bakit daw mag-o-open ng bank account and I was like ahm, para makaipon??? Di ko maintindihan bakit kailangang harangin ang mga tao na magbukas ng bank account kahit na sabihin mong reason ay para sa savings po. I got so pissed and humiliated na hindi ako in-allow ng dalawang BPI branch to open an account so I put it off for at least a few more months. Ang sakit ma-reject ha. Naisip ko, okay lang, ipon na lang siya sa payroll account ko, keri lang yan. I-track ko na lang nang maayos. Spoiler alert: hindi ko na-track nang maayos yung ipon ko.

So the little savings I had then was more volatile than the stock exchange. At one point, I’ll have 25,000 in it, then the next payday, I’d end up only having 17,000 because I splurged on yet another thing I was coveting back then. Taas-baba siya talaga. Tataas kapag may pag-iipunan, bababa kapag biglang may bibilhin o biglang magta-travel. Labo talaga mga mamsh. Di ko alam paano ako nabuhay before basta alam ko masaya ako, at sobrang carefree sa pera! Ah! To be young, wild, and free!

What I Learned: If you can, open a different account for your savings, emergency fund, travel fund, o kung ano pang fund yang gusto mo. And if possible, open sa may mga mataas na interest rate when it comes to your emergency fund. Currently, digital banks like CIMB and ING yata are the ones that offer the highest interest rates, yes, special shawarawt sa kaibigan kong si Jet na nag-share ng tungkol sa digital banks. After learning about this, I moved my emergency fund to a digital bank. Bye, BDO!

Currently, I have (1) idle savings para sa ikatatahimik ng kaluluwa ko and for emergencies eme, (2) an account for revolving fund (where I put money for insurance na kinakaltas, paluwagan na hindi ko alam kung nag-start na ba this year, and pansalo lang ganyan pag naubos na yung sa payroll lol di ko alam para saan talaga ito), (3) an account for business before na gagawin ko na lang ngayon na for travel fund yesss umaasa talaga ako na makakapunta pa rin ako sa Reykjavik at makakakita in person ng northern lights, (4) an account for actual emergency fund, an (5) old account na payroll na nilalamanan ko pang-grocery lang (6) checking account where I put money for payment lang sa rent lol. And my (6) payroll ngayon.

People laugh at me when they find out I have too many bank accounts. Hindi ko rin maintindihan promise. But I intend to close at least two of them para mas maayos buhay ko.

Anyway, I’m still thinking if I should move my idle savings sa ING or yaan ko na lang siya dun since it’s the longest one I have, finally pinag-open din ako ni BPI lol. Kasi ang hirap na natutulog ang savings sa bangko gaano man ito kaliit o kalaki sa bangko. Talong-talo ka sa inflation sa totoo lang. Magkano na nga ulit baboy ngayon?

Not starting an emergency fund right away

It was only in 2018 when I learned that I need an emergency fund separate from my savings. I was mind blown. Lol. Akala ko talaga yung savings ko na na-start ko na pag-ipunan, yun na yun for everything basta may savings ka, dun na ung for emergencies, for travel, for hanash, etc. Kasi for years, umepeks naman sa buhay ko. Dun ako kumukuha for fun, for emergencies, for travel. Mali pala yon.

Buti na lang I have an officemate then who was so interested in keeping her finances always in check and told us the value of having an emergency fund separate from savings, etc. I think nobody told me about this because people think I have always been diligent with my money and/or I already knew about it. I WAS NOT as diligent as I should be with my money and no, I DIDN’T KNOW.

Growing up, we weren’t taught how to save money. Save from the usual, mag-ipon ka para di ka maghirap, mag-ipon sa alkansya, wala na kong naaalalang learnings sa pag-iipon. I remember living in “abundance” in the 90s even if my mom was a full time housewife then. Thankfully, wais ang nanay ko so we were able to get by with her salary and papa’s income when she entered the workforce. We were never really taught on the value of budgeting, emergency fund. Daily basis ang dating at labas ng pera sa yelohan ni papa, so daily rin ang “budget” namin. Mag-iipon kapag tuition for school, kapag kulang, uutang muna kay Sandra (our resident bumbay), si papa in charge sa needs, si mama in charge sa wants. We get by, kaya siguro walang lessons kung paano ba mag-budget nang tama ng pang-matagalan na may ipon ka pa rin, may tira for emergencies and future you. Wala rin kasi kaming emergencies before talaga na matindi. And if meron, nakakayanan naman. Natutunan ko lang nga na dapat part ng sweldo mo nilalagay sa rainy day fund nung nawalan ng work si Monica sa Friends tas sabi ng tatay niya, “Ten percent of your salary goes where?” “In the bank!” Other than that, I had to learn things on my own.

I was just lucky that I didn’t have to start in the negative. Meaning, my parents didn’t make us pay for our younger siblings’ tuition. Sure, there were times when I had to give school allowance to our youngest brother, and pitch in for his tuition, but it wasn’t that big. Thank you, PUP! Dose pesos pa rin per unit! But we weren’t as lucky as well in the sense na wala kaming lupain, walang sariling bahay, walang pamanang pag-aawayan at pagpapatayang magkakapatid. In short, saks lang – pag nagsipag ka at sinwerte ka, may chance kang umalwan ang buhay, kung mamalasin at tamad, handa ka na bang maging taong grasa?

But I no longer want to dwell on the financial education I didn’t get from my parents, because I still consider myself lucky enough and extremely grateful for having parents who shouldered their responsibility and obligation in paying for their kids’ tuition and raising them the best way they can afford. Others were not as lucky as we were.

What I Learned: Of course, after learning a lot when it comes to finances from Giezl, I opened a separate bank account for my emergency fund right away. Every payday, I put a fixed amount on it that I can use on a rainy day. This literally came in handy almost two years later when the pandemic hit and I quit my job last May. I was calm. Actually that was an understatement, I was for the most part, elated. Para akong natanggalan ng tinik sa dibdib because I was overworked and I was starting to feel unhappy and unfulfilled with my job. So I watched K dramas all day and didn’t bother to find a job right away because may huhugutan ka pa naman, oks lang yan. I was able to take care of myself mentally. It was one of the best decisions I’ve had because if wala akong emergency fund, I wouldn’t have had the courage to leave that job in the middle of a pandemic.

If you haven’t already, ideally, your emergency fund should be 3-6 months’ worth of your expenses or 3-6 months’ worth of your salary. Depende kung gaano katagal mo siya gustong ipunin. Pero ayon sa mga eksperto, mainam na unahing ipunin ang perang ito bago ang paglagay ng pera sa investments o stocks o bonds. Bakit? Kasi liquid ‘to e. Kung bigla mong kailanganin ng pera dahil nawalan ka ng trabaho, nagkasakit ka, o di kaya naisipan ng China na pahintuin ang buong mundo ng higit isang taon at magkalat ng bagong nakahahawang sakit na walang bakuna, prepared ka. Kung inuna mong kumuha ng kotse or condo, okay investment sila, pero magiging pera ba agad yan na madali mong ma-withdraw in an instant kapag kailangan? Hindi di ba?

“Deserve ko ‘to!” and other budol stories

Back when hindi pa ganun ka-sikat ang online shopping, nauubos ang pera namin noon sa pagsubok ng iba’t ibang kainan sa Maginhawa at Timog. Stress eating sa trabaho. Nakaere ka na? “Yes, kain tayo sa masarap!” Sweldo at ang dami kong pagod sa episode na ‘to? “Yes, I deserve those shoes!” Back then, meron akong jacket na ang tawag ko ay “my Abalos jacket” kasi binili ko yun after ko mag-shoot sulat at edit ng episode ni Abalos in 3 days! Pinapangalanan ko mga gamit ko in my mind after episodes na umere haha! I have shoes, dresses, and lipsticks named after case studies/guests from my shows.

What I Learned:

In retrospect, kakatawa siya pero sobrang wasteful! If only I had the self-control not to “reward” myself with things I wouldn’t even use years from now, ang dami ko sigurong pera. At one point, I had more than 50 pairs of shoes na umaabot pa ko sa point na tinatago ko ang purchases ko sa nanay ko kasi pagagalitan niya na naman ako sa binili ko. One time, bumili ako ng 6 pairs of shoes in one day tapos jinudge ako ng kaibigan kong si George. Aanhin mo ‘to? aniya. Natawa lang ako. I’ve had shoes na once or twice ko lang gagamitin tas di ko na ulit gagamitin kasi di ko na bet. Ugh. Sobrang sayang. These days, I only have around 15 pairs, still a lot, but a far cry from my 50 pairs just a few years back. In fact, ilang beses na rin akong natanong ng mga pamangkin ko bakit konti na lang sapatos ko, okay lang, mas marami naman akong ipon ngayon haha.

And that’s just the shoes! Imagine the clothes! The skincare! Jusko. These days, naaalibadbaran ako sa maraming gamit that I still frequently declutter, whenever I can. I’m not saying I am now able to not give in to impulse buys and purchases, but I’d like to think I know better now. Add to cart lang, di muna iche-checkout. Check out lang kapag alam mong gusto mong dalhin sa buhay mo ang gamit na ito even five years down the road, otherwise, bakit pa? Bilhin lang kapag kailangan. Kapag one month na pero naiisip mo pa rin, e di bilhin mo na.

It also helped that I live in a small space at nagkaron na ko ng sense na ayoko na ng maraming kalat. I find joy in seeing my place na hindi visually cluttered. Problema ko naman, furniture and plates and other tita tingz are more expensive. Haha! But at least they’re functional naman. Lol. The shit I tell myself, no? Basta ang ending, mas maayos na ko ngayon. Promise, peksman, mamatay man!

Not making my money work for me

When I started saving up, ang saya ko every time nahi-hit ko yung goal ko for the year or month na savings. Kaso mo, nawawalan pa rin ako ng pera because of inflation. Yung value ng pera ko, hindi na ganun kalaki ang value next year. Tapos ang interest rate, meh lang. Mas mahal pa ang pamasahe sa jeep. Talong-talo.

What I Learned:

Thank God for friends talaga na maalam sa pera ‘no? A few years ago, a friend invited us to join a coop handled by his mom. Every month, maghuhulog kami ng certain amount, kung ano yung kaya mo lang, bahala ka, tapos ipapautang yun, then at the end of the year, susuweldo kaming lahat, with interest! na mas malaki pa sa bangko! I treat it as my extra 13th month pay, pandagdag sa napakagastos na buwan. So everybody happy!

Kung wala ka namang ganyang option, pwede ka ring mag-upgrade ng Pag-IBIG mo! May MP2 fund na pwede mong paglagyan ng ipon monthly. Voluntary ito at pwedeng kumita ang pera mo up to 8%! Downside lang dito is hindi mo siya pwede galawin for five years, kaya nga sinasabi kong magsimula ka muna sa emergency fund since yun ay madaling withdraw-hin kung kinakailangan.

Some friends naman are into side businesses, I tried that, but hindi talaga para sa akin. Kaya ang ginawa ko ay…

…investing! NOTE!!! Hindi ito malakihang investment tulad ng usual angel investment na alam mo. Kung ano lang din yung maluwag sa bulsa mo na kaya mong mawala o malugi, yun lang din ang invest mo. Another friend got me into this, nag-start lang talaga kami sa kumustahan. From k drama to Park Bo Gum and our fave oppas, update on their kids, I started asking about investments and stocks since sabi ko nasa journal ko matuto and lo and behold! Isa sa ‘min may alam na okay and we all said we want to try it too! So ayun. I invested and we’re just waiting on the returns by next week! If it goes well, I’d probably just re-invest para yes, sabi nga ni Salve Duplito, mag-compound ang interest. O pak, may full circle!

I still want to know more, especially when it comes to real estate because that’s a lifetime commitment, although so far wala pa naman akong balak bumili, because you’ll never know, if another Duterte takes the Malacanang seat, baka mag-alsa balutan na talaga ako. I’ll probably decide by 2022. Mag-iipon na lang muna ako. Mukhang masaya naman nanay ko sa pagtira malapit sa beach, mukhang sasaya rin ako dun kung sakali, uso na naman ang WFH, so beke nemen. Kinikilig pa nga ako sa idea ng pagtira ng ilang kembot lang sa beach, so let’s see. But until then, I will keep on trying to learn more about handling my finances better, para mas masarap na ang tulog ko sa gabi.

On that note, kung may ambag kang learning or pro-tip in saving, share it! Because sharing is caring! Sabay-sabay tayong umachib ng financial freedom! Bye!

P.S. Bawal ako utangan, wala akong ipapautang. Thank you. Bow.

Apartment Haul + Unboxing + Review

Apartment Haul + Unboxing + Review

I’ve gone crazy on online shopping. What have I done???

The past months have been a blur of work, k drama, and obsessing over Korean home aesthetic YouTube videos. I have consumed 70% of Korean-subtitled silent vlogs that are so calming I didn’t have to meditate for months. Lol.

current room situation

As I have just recently moved in to a new home after moving to a new job, I have done nothing but search Pinterest and YouTube on how I’d want to decorate my apartment. It’s pretty small (around 18.61 sqm, yea, my neighbor and I were both bored one night we measured our apartments, his is bigger, I demand a refund chos), so there were 3 rules I set when I started looking for stuff:

  1. It should be well within my budget.
  2. It should be something I’d want to bring wherever it is I move into next.
  3. It should be functional, practical, and fits my ~aEsthEtiC~.

There were other things that I’ve bought of course, like my bed frame, dining/kitchen prep/storage table the past months, but here are the stuff that arrived last week. I (un)knowingly checked out a loooot of stuff than I normally would after realizing I saved more than I allotted for the holiday budget so it was like Christmas morning last Friday and Saturday, only I know all the gifts I’m going to get and I paid for all of them lol.

Before we start, fair warning, walang sisihan kapag may nabudol. Lol.

Oh yeah. I got so excited over this that I filmed an unboxing video and assembling the lamp and drawer. Hihi. Enjoy the ripping of parcels ASMR. Lel.

First budol on the list is this label maker.

Look at these uniformed babies

It’s similar to the one my mother had when we were kids that she use to label our notebooks, put “captions” on photo albums, and general label-making. I was pretty nostalgic about this item. Hers was neon pink and green that is so on brand with her loud personality, while I got a beige and black one. I got it so I can finally put a label on my relationships amber bottles and drawers so people will stop asking me, “alin dito yung dishwashing liquid?” and also I can finally transfer my shampoo and conditioner in similar bottles. I just started to hate brand labels in general. Heh.

I also consider this label maker as the only real gift that I bought because my friend, Ven, sent some money on my ShopeePay account like a good ol’ sugar momma! Shawarawt Venice! Maraming salamat, labyu!

It’s easy to use once you Google the how-to video. I was a little stupid to throw away the instructions sobrang excited ko magbukas ng items haha! It makes me feel like I’m crafty, kahit hindi, and felt like I put an effort in labeling stuvvz. Nifty! Fairly priced at P229 (?) basta less than 300.

Second budol is this room and linen spray that has been sitting on my cart for weeks now. So apart from pretty stuff, I’ve also been into making my home smell niiiice! Last year, I bought a set of scented candles with a room linen spray and I’ve been in love with them ever since! So I was looking for other scents and came across this Olive scent, so tinry ko na siya.

It comes in this spray bottle at 100ml. Got it for P160.

Okay naman yung smell, just “not quite my tempo,” FRESH BAMBOO PA RIN MGA ULUL!!!

I also got this door stopper (?) I honestly don’t know if it’s really called a door stopper. But I will call it that because it stops roaches and other insects from coming inside my unit. One of the things I didn’t take into account when I signed the lease contract was the fact that while I do have a laundry area, that area has an open sewerage hanashi where insects can crawl in and minsan may amoy rin at different times of the day. So really, getting this stopper is two-for-one for me because not only am I blocking roaches from coming in, I am also blocking that awful smell. #apartmentlearnings No one from my friends or family who has visited mentioned it, so I guess maybe ayaw lang nila i-mention or ang arte ko lang talaga.

sorry for the shedding, hindi pa ko nagwawalis hahaha

The only non-home essential I got is this blush/old rose puffed sleeves dress that is sooooo pretty and such a steal at P349! Sobrang ganda ng tela and well-made, if only I was a bit taller and weigh more, no need to repair this, but such is life, I’m going to have to hem this before I get to wear this baby out!

One of the best buys from this bunch is my Google Nest Mini 2 in Chalk. Akala ko talaga once I “finished” furnishing this studio, my wallet would be able to breathe. But NOOOO. I got reeled into making my home smart after I always get tamad to stand up just to turn off the lights. Di lang dapat maganda, dapat matalino rin hellooo!

Alam mo yung nakahiga ka na? Tapos kailangan mo pa nga palang tumayo para patayin ilaw? E kaso walang switch near you? Daworst. Awow first world problems. So yun.

I am never clicking on Spotify again charot minsan nagloloko net so bumibitaw. PLDT, yo, WTF!!!
Look at her blending so well with the gallery wall

I never really thought I’d be getting into the smart home eme, I really thought hanash lang siya huhu but now that I got my Nest mini for a week pa lang ha!

Side story, when my father came in last week to drop off my nieces, I told Google Assistant to play a song tas yung mukha nilang tatlo was “Yo, WTF???” HAHAHA! Priceless!

Grabe, ang dali niya utusan, hindi tulad ng mga pamangkin mong puro “wait, tita” ang alam isagot sa ‘yo haha joke lang mababait yan naglilinis ng bahay basta pakakainin mo lang lol. Mas mura pa rin Nest Mini at P1,899.

This brings me to the Nest Mini’s partner, the Smart Life Smart Bulb – the very reason why I wanted a smart home. So easy to connect to Google Assistant! May dimmer! May warm light! May RGB colors! 9 watts lang! If you don’t have Alexa or Google Assistant, pwede ng i-kontrol via app. Budget-friendly at P333 compared to Phillips Hue series na ang mahaaal. Sobrang layo sa tri-color light bulb ko, OMG!

Both the Nest and Smart Bulb are fairly easy to set up comnsidering I’m a tech noob. I also got a smart plug that I’m going to use for my electric fan, pero hindi ko pa nase-setup so no review on that item yet. It’s the same brand as the bulb’s.

I got this Nordic desk lamp after seeing it first in one of the Korean vloggers I’ve been watching. I was in love! I tried forgetting it, telling myself that I don’t need a desk lamp since I already have one. But then Pao, my niece, needed one for home school, so I gave it to her.

After searching on Shopee and Lazada, looking for unique pieces, wala talaga kong makitang gusto ko. I keep coming back to this particular design, so I gave in. And thank God I did, because this went way beyond my expectations! The gold stand, the frosted glass kineme, I don’t know how to properly describe furniture hahahaa, they fit so perfectly grabe, even the angled shape, gaaah! Plus! Ganda ng bagsak ng ilaw! Soft lights!!! Worth it sa P2,044.

Another thing I hated about this unit is the fact that it has almost no storage space available, save for the cupboards sa kitchen. Other than that, waley. Bare as in bare talaga. So I kind of have to buy a lot of storage containers/cabinets/drawers because ayoko talaga ng cluttered space. I like clean, white space, I get irritated by visual clutter so to make things better, I got another drawer! You may have seen this white metal desk drawer a lot of times. Normally, I don’t like stuff that a lot of people already have, but this one is just so simple na pwede mong ilagay kahit saan, at babagay siya dun. So I got it for all my little abubots that I can’t seem to get rid of kahit na ilang beses na ko nag-declutter I’m—

it doubles as a bedside desk, too!

Anyway, it was a little challenging to assemble it it took at least 1 1/2 hours, just watch the video, kapoy gyud, nagkamali ako ng isang beses, but buti na lang, oks yung material. Seems sturdy. I don’t know if this is legit Ikea or an Ikea dupe, but whatever, I’m sold by it. Got it on sale at P2,299 with a free Fixa Tool Kit from Ikea worth P999!!! Guys!!! First time ko naka-receive ng free gift na gusto ko! Usually mga sample skincare eme lang pamigay, but this one, this is a LEGIT FREEBIE! I’ve been meaning to buy a hammer because feeling ko need ko ng mga pang-handyman stuff for minor repairs and I’m just so happy that I got it for free! Other free gift to choose from include chairs, bed sheets, glass containers, I mean DIBAAAAAAA! So glad I clicked that ‘free gift’ button haha!

Saving the best for last, the last item is this much awaited (almost 2 months ko hinihintay dumating from China pota) Plia-Inspired Transparent Chair that is so popular in Korean house tour vlogs. Shet. The amount of time I spent looking for this chair, grabe ha!

So finally, parang alam na nung daliri ko ise-search sa Shopee and one day, OMG! Nagkaroon sa Shopee! However, since it was a new item posted, walang reviews. So I was having second thoughts. Bilhin ko na ba? Bilhin ko na? My friend Chinny knows just how much I obsess over home pieces these days, and isa talaga to sa naloka ako kakahanap. So one day, may nag-review rin! Sa wakas! I immediately ordered one after asking for discount from the seller (nagtaas from 2,552 naging 3.5k so sabi ko there is no discount anymore? So ayon, binigyan ako ng discount haha!) and I got it for P2,919.

Story time!!! I looked for it everywhere! – on Instagram, FB Marketplace, Carousell, Shopee! But they were so expensive! I couldn’t bring myself to pay 6k for this when I saw it on Alibaba and Ali Express and they’re being sold for 2k lang and muntik na ko umorder dun if only the shipping wouldn’t cost like 10k hahaha! Like ano ko? Hilo? It’s not as if tulad siya nung rattan cantilever chair na ang price range talaga is between 7.5k to 8.5k no.

My two favorite chairs in one photo! Yes, I’ve become that person who obsess over chairs now.

It arrived last Friday but since the admin of the building is only until 4pm, di ko na inabutan. I was only able to receive it on Saturday and I literally said, “OH MY GOD!” upon unboxing because sobrang ganda! My only problem was may parang mark (can be removed naman I think di ko pa lang alam ano pwedeng ipambura, baka Kurin water haha). But other than that and the long wait, IT IS SOOOO PRETTY.

Overall, I am soooo happy with these purchases! 10/10 would do it again hahaha!

Fuller

Fuller

I’ve been thinking long and hard on what to put on my year-end essay considering what a shit show the year that was, I mean, if you’re reading this, you’ve lived through it, you know how it was. Kailangan ba talaga ng rehash?

But being the overthinker that I am, my thoughts would always go to “well what if I write something insensitive or tone deaf?” to “well do I really need to overshare kung marami namang mas grabe pa pinagdaanan sa akin?” that it is now January 3 and I haven’t written anything yet. I’d also like to blame it to that quick and much-needed vacation I went to to take a break from this Black Mirror episode we all couldn’t seem to get away from, but who am I kidding, apart from the overthinking, it was just too much Netflix bingeing, scrolling past home stuff and then buying them, bingeing on YouTube room makeovers, and daydreaming that I couldn’t find the time to reflect on the good, the bad, and the ugly of the previous year.

But now that I have, if there’s one word to describe my 2020, that would probably be “FULLER.”

in body…

Back at the sea after 9 months!

Maybe it was the quarantine, the stress, or maybe it was just my age finally slowing down my metabolism that I noticed that I am finally gaining weight. Or I don’t know, maybe it’s just my excessive use of air fryer. Lol.

Now, I have not yet confirmed this with a weighing scale, I don’t own one, but I’ve noticed quite a few times that some of my clothes, particularly some bottoms I own don’t fit me or now fit me better. Last October, I went to H&M to buy Andres’ birthday gift and I tried on a pair of pants. I usually get the smallest size (32) but that time, it doesn’t fit well I had to go a size up. I thought it was just a fluke, but it happened again this December. And then, I also got a size 34 swimsuit and it fits me like a glove.

And just look at this New Year’s eve photo! Look at that arm!

The swimsuit I mentioned is pictured above. Look, I now have curves! Now, if only I can finally start doing home workout exercises to tone this body, especially my tummy area, and start to get and look healthier.

…mind

Photo from another lifetime circa February 2020

In more ways than one, I’d like to believe that I have grown over the past year. I’m still re-reading last year’s journal and as always, at 31, there were still some cringe moments over past decisions I’ve made. Ang tanga-tanga. But a month after I turned 32, I think I became wiser, stronger, and dare I say, braver.

Anyway, as I re-read the previous year’s bujo, I am laughing at my “Paano Mag-Breakdown Kapag Adult Ka Na” entry – long story short – Being an adult means scheduling your emotional breakdowns because of work deadlines. Gusto mo magbayad ng rent and online shop? Cry only on your own personal time.

I’m also happy to report that my social media is a lot healthier now. Maybe this was the result after I started giving less fucks, unfriended people, repeatedly chose myself, remained self-aware, and became even kinder to myself. My empathy alone is far different from the apathetic version of me just a few years ago. Although I need to go back to telling myself three nice things everyday.

…and spirit.

Christmas 2020 where I was happy and content being surrounded by those who matter most in my life.

It was slow, but steady. Just the pace that I want. In a lot of ways, there was clarity, peace, and contentment I haven’t felt in years – my personal wins. I’d like to credit these to my moving out and living alone alone again after three years. I needed the solitude to process the things that were happening to me and to the world around me.

I acknowledge that 2020 has fucked up all of us mentally, physically, emotionally, financially, spiritually, some more than others (but please allow me and forgive me for saying the next few things), but despite the 2 mej COVID-exposures to positive cases (survived both), quitting a job, and feeling anxious that I constantly have to remind myself to breathe, the past year has taught me a lot. Like giving more to those in need, checking up on friends does not cost anything at all, doing a good job will always be a good investment (the number of side projects I got the past year just cause I work well allowed me to survive financially), learning a new skill at this age is not impossible, and continuing to be a force to be reckoned with, because you really never know who you touch and influence.

Oh yeah, I finally understood why my MAPEH teacher always say, “health is wealth” kala ko talaga rhyming shit lang siya, gandang poster-making slogan lol, and yes, if you haven’t started already, build an emergency fund. It saved my ass when I didn’t have a job.

2021 does not guarantee a life free from COVID, but let me hang on to that tiny sliver of hope that things will get better soon – mga May 2022 siguro.

Anyway, I hope it’s not too late to say, “Happy New Year!” and I really do hope that you celebrated it (safely) with the people who mattered in this life.

One Fine Day at the Beach

One Fine Day at the Beach

We started the year right by celebrating the new year by the beach!

As water babies, we were all so upset that a lot of our beach trips have been cancelled due to the pandemic. I was supposed to be on a solo trip to Camiguin on my birthday, but like most of my plans the previous year, that didn’t push through. Sucks. I know, I know, that reeks of privilege.

So when we had the chance to visit a nearby beach in the metro, of course, we grabbed it! Don’t worry, we wore masks around people, practiced social distancing, wash our hands as much as we can, and kept to ourselves during the trip. We were responsible travelers.

Anyway, here are some shots from the beach that I was too lazy to edit!

It wasn’t a beach-beach, but a sandbar in Calatagan.
BB had fun walking on sand. We had to drag him because he stops at every tiny hole made by crabs.
What is this hole? Can I put my foot in it?
It fits!
Bilisan mo, naiwanan na tayo!
Hey there, starfishy!
But Tita Shey, there’s a starfishyyyy
A quick family picture with Tita Shey – the ultimate third wheeler (in this case, fourth wheel)
I caught a live one, daddy!
Pusit for lunch!
“Inaamin ko noon na minahal nga kita, pero ngayon, wh-wha-what? BINABAWI KO NA. Ischupid!”

Hello from my legs that are not beach-ready at all!

Missed frolicking in the beach!
This post is brought to you by…
“Kuyaaah, aawra ako, please move the boat.”

He didn’t move the boat.

If you’re still up for it, here’s a video I made from that day. Don’t expect too much, I just stitched up videos I took from my phone, hehe. And then recorded that same music I played on the uke on my phone. Gaaah! May voice over recording option na sa iMovie! But still want to learn Premiere though

Overall, I missed just sitting on the beach… listening to crashing waves, salt in the air and my hair, and feeling the sand in my toes again. I wished there was less wind and the sun shone brightly that day, my lamigin ass can’t handle the water so I was only able to go up to waist-length of water. Di ko kaya ang ginaw. 😦

Excited for more beach trips, fingers crossed things go back to normal soooon!

How was your New Year’s celebration?

6 Lessons To Learn from Start Up (May or may not be applicable in business and/or in life)

6 Lessons To Learn from Start Up (May or may not be applicable in business and/or in life)

*SPOILERS AHEAD* Proceed with caution.

Hi! Please allow me to talk  write about this drama because this is kind of my way to get over something. Kailangan ko lang i-word vomit. Ang lahat ng ito ay opinion ko lamang. Hindi ako business or life expert lol. Bear with me.

Sooo, I just finished binge watching the latest K drama everyone’s been watching, Start Up. I’ve been meaning to watch it since it started but I’ve already learned my lesson from watching Hospital Playlist and Record of Youth as it airs na hindi ako dapat sumasabay sa airing because I am soooo impatient when it comes to watching dramas. I like watching them in one go, I hate waiting. And boy, like Dal Mi, I was so glad with my decision because I finished watching it on a weekend, (even after going out the entire day on Saturday and cleaning the apartment on a Sunday morning) and let me just say, IT WAS SO WORTH IT!

I enjoyed it so much because I love rooting for characters who do everything in their power to reach their dreams. I think I enjoyed it even more because I also enjoyed Shark Tank (a US-based show where startups pitch their businesses to actual investors and then they decide if they want to invest in the company). And also because I have a little idea of how start-ups work after being part of start-ups and one of those required me to interview start-up CEOs as well, so sobrang satisfying niya to watch. Even the jargons they use natatawa ako because that’s how it is, it also made me so nostalgic listening to them talk about MVPs and risks and burn rate. Huhu. Can’t believe I’d miss my old job, konti lang. Haha!

And since I enjoyed it so much, I was taking down notes whenever there are lessons that popped up in episodes, and let me share some of them here.

Start with “why”

As in most things in life, purpose is very important. In fact, it is so important that it should be the core of your being. In one scene, CEO Yoon said, “As long as you know your why, the rest will follow.” This is with regards to In Jae not knowing her personal why, aside from proving herself that she’s capable of succeeding without her stepfather’s money and connections. Later on, during Demo Day, when Do San’s father stormed the presentation and hijacked the Q&A, In Jae finally found her purpose: to change the world for the better. CEO Yoon smiled and said, “She finally found her purpose.”

TBH, this does not only apply in businesses, but in life, ‘no? I mean, I’m sure we’re not put in this world just to walk aimlessly all our lives (pwede naman mga 30 minutes lang daw sabi ni Dal Mi though haha), but there should always be a reason behind everything, right? And I think that even if you sail off without a map, if you follow your north star, you are never really lost.

Having passion is good, pero sometimes passion equates to bursts of inspiration lang e so hindi siya sustainable. When things get hard, your purpose will keep you going, not your passion, based on experience lang haha, you go back to why you even started and it will restore your passion at a whole new level. Even Simon Sinek says this, di ba? You have to find your why. And the best thing about it is that this is something that not only a few privileged ones can have, it’s biologically embedded in every single one of us.

So… why do you do what you do?

Find a problem that you want to solve (and fall in love with it)

If you noticed, this is something that is always recurring in the show. For businesses to thrive, you need to find a solution to an existing problem. I first noticed it during the first exercise in Sand Box. They were trying to find CEOs based on trends (I took it as CEOs should have the ability to be in touch with what’s happening around them and how they can address problems), then it popped up again when they were tasked to choose a topic and SamSan Tech devised a solution to find forgers for the Hackathon. And then again when they were trying to find where to use the image recognition technology the boys already have. It was clearly shown when Do San developed the app NoonGil because of halmeoni’s condition. And later on, when Dal Mi pushed for self-driving cars because of halmeoni and her deceased father as well. May pattern di ba? Anchored on pains ng customers yung solutions palagi. Don’t even get me started with feedback loops haha!

All of these sounds oh so familiar, I remember covering sessions in my previous job about identifying problems and trying to find the right solutions for them. In one of the sessions, one startup CEO said he finally realized why their startup failed because they were all focused on earning money, but they didn’t really know what problem they were trying to solve. 

Our CEO then said you should be in love with the problem, not the solution. Because if it’s the other way around, what if the solution doesn’t fit with the problem, pero ipinilit mo? So dapat, loyal tayo sa problem, mga besh. 

We’ve seen this time and time again with Dal Mi. Her pains are always related to her halmeoni who raised her after her father died. Once she learns that she’s losing her sight, everything she does is all about how she can make her halmeoni’s life comfortable. From NoonGil’s first update, to adding the meds, and then the self-driving car, lahat yun para mas maging maayos ang buhay lola niya and katulad ng mga lola niya.

Right Timing 

In Shark Tank, you would hear the investors say, “you are too early, this is not yet investable for me. And for those reasons, I’m out.” This is where I’ve learned na oo nga, may right timing sa lahat, hindi lang sa pag-ibig, even in investing in startups. You need to be not too early because there are still a lot of risks, kaya ang nakukuha usually na investors are family and friends sa seed stage. Kasi they know you, trust you, may emotional attachment, so kahit may bigger risks, madalas, G pa rin sila. Pero when it comes to investors, they are experts on this, so alam nila kung kelan sila papasok to invest in a business.

Likewise, sa mga startup naman, they should also know when to start selling shares, Minsan they might be too early to sell their shares and lose more in the process, mababa pa yung valuation tas lugi sila kasi pag nag-boom na yung business, ang laki na ng nawalang shares sa kanila. This was shown when Dal Mi told her sister about her plan to scale up CheongMyeong and she initially said no because of their current valuation, but later on asked CEO Yoon for her advice on possible inventors to partner with. 

Don’t let other people’s opinion define you

In the series, Ji Pyeong is a character with a sharp tongue. He says what he thinks without even batting an eye, no sugarcoating, #nofilter. Masakit kung sa masakit. If mahina ka, hindi ka tatagal dito. Starting a start-up is not for the faint of heart. Mauubos at mauubos ka. Worst, you might even end up like Yong San’s brother. But if you’re strong enough to stomach all the constructive criticisms and use them to your advantage and power through it, you might end up a ‘unicorn’ or a start-up with a billion-dollar valuation. 

Find partners that align with your goals 

This applies both in finding partners and investors. Sobrang meant to be ng partnership ni Dal Mi and Do San for me, recipe for success talaga. The former is a visionary, a true innovator, while the latter is an executioner. With that kind of partnership, Do San’s dream of becoming a unicorn is not too far-fetched. 

Likewise, you’ll also need investors who share your goals. There were quite a few times where SamSan Tech, later on CheongMyeong, asked help from their mentors to help them find the right investors. Yung same kayo ng values, etc. para parehas din yung pupuntahan nila.

Know your strengths + have a clear plan.

Do San is very, very smart. No doubt about that. However, he is not cut out to be a CEO. For years, walang nangyari sa team niya. They have an amazing tech that even got worldwide recognition, pero wala silang plano. So even if investors were lining up outside their office after winning first place in the prestigious CODA, wala pa ring nangyari sa kanila. They were even stupid enough to fall for another team of developers copying their tech, thank God for Ji Pyeong for preventing that from happening! 

So when Ji Pyeong told Do San that he should recruit a CEO if they were lucky enough to enter Sand Box, it was good that he followed his advice. Since he’s clearly more invested with perfecting their tech, has little to no people skills and charm at all, and has absolutely no clear plan on where to take his company, it’s obvious why walang nangyayari sa kanila, and so he needs another person that can be the CEO so he can focus on his main strength: coding. 

Enter, Dal Mi. She’s good with words, keeping up with trends, and looking for the right problems to solve. She finds ways to monetize the boys’ tech and make it work in different industries. Truth is, even if you have the tech, the inventors don’t give a flying fuck about it kung hindi mo naman alam saan mo gagamitin o paano mo gagamitin para kumita ng pera in the next five years or so. Paano mo gagawing relevant yan sa buhay ko?

Basta ako, ang nakikita ko pa rin dyan sa image recognition na yan is to license it to other industries that need it. They can keep improving it and just wait for royalties diba, but what do I know? I’m just a mere employee who has 4 seasons of Shark Tank as my business background hahahaha!

And of course, follow your dream! I specifically love that scene with Park Chan Ho where he gets a new ball for young Do San. Tapos pinalitan niya yung “follow THE dream” to “follow YOUR dream” after Do San’s parents kind of decide which path Do San should take in the future. It resonates so much since a lot of parents tell their kids to follow the path that they think will make their kids happy, but really, they’re becoming shackles that make their kid’s dreams even harder to reach. 

Bonus: Do not shit where you eat. Sa ‘kin lang naman, pero ang kumplikado na magpatakbo ng negosyo, kung jojowain mo pa yung kasama mo, mas gugulo ‘pag biglang nagsinungaling ka pala sa identity mo tapos yung mentor ninyo yung totoong penpal mo haha! Tropahin mo na lang. Sa drama lang nagwo-work yung nagiging okay kayo ulit. Lol.

Heniway, ayun lang. Na-exorcise ko naman na siguro ‘tong show na ‘to sa sistema ko ‘no? Even if wala kang planong mag-start ng business in the near future, this show is a must watch! Sobrang saya mag-root for other people kahit hindi mo sila kilala. It also gives you some sort of perspective to “start up” something. Doesn’t mean it has to be a business, but should be something that you really love. Tignan mo, napasulat ulit ako. Haha!

To end, not that anyone needs to know, but I’m #TeamDoSan all the way! I love Ji Pyeong, but Do San “pa rin mga ulul” charot haha but that’s for another listicle so byyyyye!

Rejected Book Content 1: Birthday Girl

Rejected Book Content 1: Birthday Girl

Naglilipat ako ng files nung weekend mula sa lumang laptop papunta sa hard drive para maibigay ang old laptop ko sa pamangkin kong kailangan para sa distance learning. Nagulat akong nandito pa pala ang ilan sa mga sinulat kong hindi ko na na-publish. Dahil kabi-birthday ko lang din naman at kulang na kulang ako lately sa sipag na magsulat, naisip kong i-upload na lang ito. Sayang naman. Filler din yan.  

*******

One. Makikita ang isang batang babaeng buhat-buhat ng tatay niya sa harap ng birthday cake na nauso noong 80s hanggang 90s. Katabi ng tatay niya ang nanay niya, ang dalawang nakatatandang kuya at ibang batang masayang nakatingin sa camera o nakatanghod sa icing ng cake. Yung batang babae, tulad ng ibang batang kaka-isang taong gulang pa lang, walang muwang na nakatingin sa camera. ‘Di niya gets bakit maraming tao, bakit nagkakagulo, bakit siya nakadamit ng makating bestida at bakit siya may ribbon sa ulo kahit kalbo naman siya.

“Happy 1st Birthday Carmina Giezzelle!” ang nakasulat sa cake. Ako yung batang yun. Hawak ko ang lumang album kung saan kino-chronicle ng mama ko ang paglaki ko sa abot ng kanyang makakaya, sa tulong ng 36-shots film niyang analog camera namin noon. Kasalukuyan akong napilitang maglinis ng mga gamit ko sa bahay. May hinahanap yata akong importanteng papel na hindi ko makita sa pulang attaché case na taguan ni mama ng mga importanteng papel sa buhay ng mga Mones.

Classic yung pulang attaché case na yun. Bag dati yun ng kapatid ko na ni-recycle ni mama bilang lagayan ng mahahalagang dokumento kasi di na niya feel yung bag. Baduy yata. Hindi kasi stylish nung 90s. Walang Hello Kitty o Tweety Bird na disenyo. Dun nakalagay lahat ng bumubuo sa pagkatao ng bawat isa sa aming magkakapatid. Birth certificate, check. Baptismal certificate, check. Report cards simula kinder hanggang high school, check. Marriage certificate, certificate of recognition, medals, lumang x-ray films, first communion pictures, deed of sale ng owner type jeep na eventually nanakaw, formal theme writing nung grade three, jejemon mother’s day letters, love letters ni mama at papa sa isa’t isa. Check, check, check. Sa sobrang pagkaimportante ng pulang attache case na yun, yun ang unang-unang isasalba ni mama sa bahay kapag nagkasunog. Hindi ako nagbibiro. Minsan nagkaroon ng sunog sa lugar namin, nung isang bahay na lang at hindi pa naaapula yung apoy, yun ang unang-unang nilabas ni mama, kasabay ng mga photo albums at ilang importanteng mga gamit na hindi na rin mapapalitan.

Ang sabi nila, ang pagseselebra ng first birthdays ay hindi naman talaga para sa bata, kung hindi para sa mga magulang. Okay, milestone ito ng isang bata dahil “yehey one-year old ka na!” Kaya mo ng magsalita ng mama, papa, ate, kuya, gusto kong kape, lahat ng gusto ko ay susundin niyo. Kaya mo nang tumayo, gumabay, o maglakad mag-isa, at kaya mo nang pasayahin ang mga magulang mo more than the usual na pagtataas ng kamay, paghikab, pagdighay, at pagngiti habang natutulog. Wala naman talagang naalala ang mga baby sa panahong ito. Bukod sa mga kwento ng mama, papa, tito’t tita at mga lola ko tungkol sa kung gaano ako kaiyaking bata na dalawang buwan pa lang ako, kinukurot na ako ng mama ko sa puwitan para manahimik ako (spoiler alert, lalong lumalakas ang palahaw ko), kung paanong mula 9pm-11pm, iiyak lang ako ng walang dahilan trip ko lang magkonsiyerto sabi ng lola ko, e wala rin akong maalala. Sabi ng mama ko, naubos na ang lahat ng kantang alam ng lola niya, pero umiiyak pa rin ako. Minsan, naglalaro raw ako, tapos biglang umiyak. “Bakit?” sabi ni papa, tinuro ko raw yung langgam. Umiyak ako kasi may langgam na dumaan. Ganun ako kaiyakin noon.

Kung gaano ako kaiyakin, sobrang tagal ko naman nagsalita. Ewan, lahat yata ng boses ko ibinigay ko na sa pag-iyak. Umabot pa nga raw sa puntong pinakain na ako ng puwet ng manok para raw magsalita na ako. Akala ni mama, pipi ako. Hindi sila sanay bilang sobrang bibo kid ng kuyang sinundan ko. Pero anyway, congrats! Isang taon ka na!

Gets ko yang mga ganyan. Pero alam mo kung ano yung di ko gets? Yung nauuso ngayon na kada buwan may pa-cake yung mga baby! Kelan ba nauso yan? At bakit ba nauso yan? Bakit kailangang buwan-buwan i-celebrate kung ilang buwan na ang anak mo? Siguro katulad ito ng hindi ko pagka-gets sa bakit ba kailangang mag-celebrate ng monthsary? Ni wala ngang salitang monthsary ‘di ba? Naisip ko nga, kaya lang siguro nauso yang monthsary, kasi hirap na hirap na ang mga tao ngayon na magpatagal ng relasyon na aabot sa anniversary. Ewan. Theory ko lang. Or baka bitter lang ako kasi wala naman akong ka-“hapi mansari“-han! HAHAHA. Baka ang pagseselebra ng buwanang “birthday” ni baby ay para rin sa mga magulang. “Woohoo! Three months na tayong hindi natutulog! Apir!” o di naman kaya, “Yehesss! Six months na kong nagpupunas ng puwet ng anak ko na magiging pasaway lang paglaki!” Charot. Baka lang. Hindi ko sure. Hindi pa naman ako nagiging magulang.

Seven. Matapos kong tingnan ang first birthday pictures ko, tiningnan ko naman ang isang buong album na dedicated sa seventh birthday ko. Big deal para sa mga magulang ang seventh birthday. Hindi ko alam kung dahil sa legit na bata ka na talaga o ano. Basta naalala kong excited akong yayain ang mga kaibigan ko noong elementary na pumunta sa bahay namin at ipakita ang pinaghirapan naming praktisin ng mga pinsan ko: dance number. Hindi tulad ng ibang parties na may clown, yung sa ‘kin may dance number. Host si mama, siya na rin ang planner, nagluto, bumili ng cake, papremyo sa games, bagong damit, namigay ng imbitasyon sa mga nanay ng kaklase ko, taga-estima sa bisita, lahat-lahat. Si papa? Siya yung naghawak ng tali ng pabitin tsaka nagbayad ng lahat ng gastos.

Naalala ko sobrang excited ko buksan lahat ng regalo sa’kin. Ang dami kong bagong damit, may manika, laruan at iba pa. Sa sobrang saya ko, gusto ko bawat regalo may picture ako. Okay naman, may pa-bangs pa ko nung panahong yun, pauso ni Camille Pratts at Angelica Panganiban sa Ang TV. Naalala ko rin ang kapatid kong babaeng matamang nakatingin sa dami ng regalo ko at makikita kung gaano siya kainggit sa mga natanggap ko. Pasensya na, hindi ka pa seven.

Thirteen. Kung gaano ako ka-excited sa seventh birthday ko, dun naman ako nakulangan ng excitement sa thirteenth birthday ko. Una sa lahat, wala pa kong nakitang ibang bata na nagselebra ng thirteenth birthday nila, at hindi ba malas ang numerong thirteen? Bakit kailangan i-celebrate? Sabi ni mama, kailangan ko raw i-celebrate kasi teenager na ko. Pero hindi naman din nag-celebrate ng thirteenth birthday ang mga kuya ko. Siya lang talaga ang naging mapilit. Trip lang niya, gumagawa siya ng sarili niyang tradisyon.

Sinabihan niya kong imbitahin ang mga kaibigan ko sa papiging. Sabi ko lang “opo,” kahit na wala naman talaga akong balak na maghanda o magselebra. Akala ko nga nung una, joke lang. Pero kung merong isang bagay na seryoso si mama, yun ay ang paghahanda sa birthday celebrations ng mga anak niya.

Nung araw ng birthday ko, sinabihan niya ulit ako, ilan ba raw ang imbitado. Hindi ko masabi na “ahm, wala. Hindi ko pa sila nasasabihan.” So ang sinabi ko na lang ay “konti lang.” Matapos ang klase, sinama ko ang ilang kaibigan sa bahay. Nagkainan, kinantahan nila ako ng happy birthday, at maya-maya ay sinabihan kaming lumipat sa kabilang bahay kasi may pa-mobile sa katabing bahay ng lola ko na may mas malawak na tanggapan. May ilaw na kumukutikutitap. Malakas ang tugtog. May DJ. Naging disco house ang sala ng lola ko.

“Oh, my God!” sabi ko sa loob-loob ko. Hindi ko maintindihan ang mama ko minsan. Saan niya kaya nakita o naisip na matutuwa ako sa pa-disco ng alas singko ng hapon sa bahay ng lola ko? Dahil lang ba ito sa teenager na ako? Pero okay, andyan na yan. Kahiyaan na. Nagsayawan kami ng mga kaibigan ko. Nag-enjoy naman sila. Yata. Bumilib pa nga yata sila na may pa-disco ang birthday ko. Parang pasayaw lang sa bayan. Iba rin talagang party planner si Evangeline Mones.

Eighteen. Hindi tulad ng mga pabonggahang debuts ngayon na nagkakahalaga ng milyun-milyon, kuntodo sa theme, coverage, at handa na akala mo ikakasal muli si Marian at Dingdong, simple lang ang naging debut ko. Isang taon daw ito pinag-ipunan ni mama mula sa kakarampot niyang sweldo sa PAG-IBIG Fund, dahil pangarap niyang mabigyan ako ng masaya at matinong debutante’s birthday bilang hindi niya naranasang maiselebra ang sarili niyang 18th birthday. Nagtanan na kasi sila nun ni papa. Nung mga panahong ‘to, hindi na ganun kalakas ang kita ng negosyong yelohan ni papa. Hindi na rin yata gusto nun ni papa na magpa-debut ng sobra sa kaya ng budget, pero ayaw ni mama. Kaya pinag-ipunan niya talaga hanggang sa kahuli-hulihang sentimong ipinambayad sa lahat ng suppliers.

Floral ang theme ng debut ko. Gusto ko sanang naka-white ang lahat ng tao, pero ayaw ni mama. Bakit daw white? May patay ba? Okay, fine. Nag-settle ako sa second choice kong floral ang theme. Three years later, pumayag siya sa all black party na theme ng pa-emo princess phase ng kapatid ko. Iba rin.

Mula sa damit na pinatahi sa kaibigan at naungutan na maging “birthday gift” na lang ang sa akin, sa pagkain, venue, video at photo coverage, invitations, in-effort lahat ni mama.  Wala na kong ibang iintindihin kung hindi imbitahin ang mga kaibigan ko at sabihang sila kung anong partisipasyon nila sa party: 18 candles, 18 roses, 18 treasures. Hindi ko na alam ngayon kung ano pang ibang 18 ang naimbento para lang makabawi sa regalo. Baka meron na ring 18 shoes, 18 bags, 18 cars, 18 house and lots. Hindi ko alam. Fourteen years ago na rin naman yun.

Araw ng debut ko, nagpaalam lang yata ako nun sa isang professor na hindi ako makakapasok sabay sabi sa mga kaibigan kong, “by the way, debut ko nga pala mamaya, punta kayo ha!” Last minute invitation sa college blockmates ko, parang after thought lang, kumpara sa isang taong pagbuno ng nanay ko sa ipambabayad sa catering maging sa sapatos na susuotin ko.

Looking back, naging masaya ang araw na yun para sa ‘kin. Naisayaw ako ng papa ko, nabigyan ako ng birthday messages ng mga kaibigan ko, naisayaw ako ng mga kaibigan kong pare-parehas kaming kaliwa ang mga paa. Tama nga naman si mama, pag binalikan ko yung araw na yun, maaalala ko yung araw na nagsama-sama ang mga taong mahalaga sa buhay ko para makisaya sa araw ng “pagdadalaga” ko. Ito na rin yata ang closest thing na mae-experience ng mga tao na marinig ang eulogy sa kanila ng mga tao dahil sa mga birthday wishes sa kanila. Morbid na ba?

Thirty. The Big 3-0. Dirty Thirty. Hindi tulad ng iba kong mga “birthday milestones,” simple lang ang naging pagselebra ko ng kaarawan ko. Hindi na nga siguro ako bumabata. Hindi na big deal sa ‘kin kung sino ang bumati. Kung may handa o wala, kung may regalo o wala. Hindi tulad ng iba kong birthday, hindi ako nag-travel mag-isa para mag-isip-isip. Walang pa-cake na may nakasulat na “Happy 18th birthday!” na naging running joke na sa mga kapatid ko tuwing birthday ko simula ng tumuntong ako ng edad beinte singko. Walang handa, walang mga bisita, walang kahit anong espesyal na handaan. At hindi rin tulad ng iba kong celebrations, wala si mama para maging punong-abala ng pag-aayos ng birthday ko.

“Anong plano mo sa birthday mo?” sabi ng kapatid ko. “Wala. Iniisip ko pa.” Ang totoo, balak ko sanang magpa-kiddie party para sa sarili ko. Pangarap ko kasing magkaroon ng fast food birthday party tulad ng ibang mga bata noon. Hindi ko kasi na-experience yun. Tsaka naisip ko, ang cool ko siguro kung mag-thirtieth birthday ako sa Jollibee. Pero nagbago ang lahat dalawang linggo bago ang birthday ko. McDonald’s na lang dapat, hindi na kasi ako kumakain ng Jollibee simula ng pumutok ang balitang hindi sila patas ng trato sa mga empleyado nila. Hanggang sa naging bakit ko ba ise-celebrate pa ang birthday ko, tulad lang din naman ‘yan ng ibang araw, tumanda ka lang at mas maraming private messages at pictures mo sa Facebook, Instagram at Twitter at online notifications ang makikita mo. Isa pa, naisip kong, shet, sayang yung 10k ko. In short, inatake ako ng kakuriputan at katamaran. Baka next year na lang.

Ika-21 ng Setyembre, Biyernes. Tulad ng ibang weekdays, nagising ako ng alas siyete ng umaga para maghanda sa pagpasok. “Happy birthday, Carmina! Oh gahd, you ARE old,” ang nasabi ko sa sarili ko pagmulat ng mata ko. Nagpainit ng tubig, nilagay sa oatmeal, kumain, naligo, binati ng kaibigan kong roommate ko rin, nagpasalamat, pumasok. Nag-check ng social media, nagpasalamat sa mga bumati.

Bandang hapon, may tagged Facebook post si mama. “Happy happy birthday anak ko Carmina Giezzele. Love you!” Dahil sa social media at layo ni mama sa Pilipinas, nawala ang dating pagka-aligaga niya sa birthday ko. Walang magagarbong damit, walang pag-iipon ng isang taon, walang pabitin, o coverage, ni walang picture naming dalawa. Ganun lang ako binati ng mama ko. Nagets niya na rin yatang hindi ako sanay na nasa sentro ng atensyon ng mga tao, ayokong maging bida, at mas maraming mabibigat na pangyayari sa araw ng a-bente uno ng Setyembre bukod sa birthday ko tulad halimbawa ng deklarasyon ng Martial Law at sa naging epekto nito sa bansa natin. (Hi Marcos apologist friends!) Ito rin siguro ang dahilan kung bakit mas pinili kong magtrabaho hindi lang sa likod ng kamera, kung hindi magtrabaho at bumuo ng storya sa likod ng kompyuter. Aaminin ko, nakaka-miss rin palang pag-aksayahan ka ng panahon ng magulang mo. Matanda na nga yata ako.

But don’t get me wrong, hindi naman naging malungkot o uneventful ang birthday ko. May pa-“surprise” birthday cake at flowers at gift naman ang kumpanya, at sumakto rin ang araw ng kapanganakan ko sa isa sa mga pinakaimportanteng conversations na magbubunga ng isang napakalaking milestone sa buhay ko.

Nakipag-set ako ng meeting sa COO naming si Aileen, hindi para sa trabaho, kung hindi para sa personal na parte ng buhay ko sa ilalim ng isa sa programa ng kumpanya para sa mga empleyado nito. “Pwede niyo po ba akong tulungan paano ayusin ang buhay ko? Hahaha.” Ito yung mga panahong unti-unti pa lang akong nakakabangon sa kalungkutang halos kainin ang buong pagkatao ko. Sa kabila ng buwan-buwang sessions namin sa opisina na umiikot sa mga paksa tulad ng “finding your why, your purpose, your mission, and what are you supposed to do with your life,” at iba pa, lost pa rin ang ate ninyo sa buhay.

Mayroon siyang exercise na ibinigay para mas maintindihan niya ako at kung bakit ganito ang nararamdaman ko ngayon. May graph, “Where I am?” “Who do I want to be?” at “How do I get there?”

Si Carmina ngayon? Confused, poor, insecure, walang fulfillment. Si Carmina ver. 2.0? Confident, contented, financially stable, published writer. Kung tama ako ng pagkakatanda, “ang vague,” sabi ni Ai. Puro ideal self lang, wala namang plausible sa mga sinabi ko, maliban sa isa: ang maging published writer.

Bago kami maghiwalay, at bago pa ako maiyak, iniwanan niya ako ng isang hamon at balikan ko raw siya matapos ang isang linggo: Gusto ko ba talagang maging isang published writer? Ito ba ang makikipagbigay ng saya at direksyon sa buhay ko na pwede kong gawin araw at gabi? Kung hindi ito, ano ba talaga ang dahilan bakit ako nandito?

Kung tatanungin mo ako ngayon anong sinagot ko sa mga tanong niya sa itaas, hawak-hawak mo na ngayon ang sagot.

*******

Dalawang taon matapos kong isulat ito, preamble dapat nung book. Kaso sabi ko, shet di bagay, iba na lang. So scrapped, kaya dito na lang natin ilapag. Thirty-two na ako ngayon. Sabi ko nga sa haberday post ko, ito yata ang isa sa mga birthday ko na hindi ko makakalimutan. First time kong magselebra mag-isa bilang kalilipat ko lang ng apartment na wala ng kasama at dahil panahon ng social distancing, ni hindi ko nakasama o nalibre ang mga mahal ko sa buhay na naging usual setup ng birthday ko. Pero yun din yung mga panahong napaisip ako sa kung papaano ko binalewala ang ibang masaya kong birthday celebrations. Bilang introvert at kuripot, pabor naman ang birthday in the time of COVID. Pero sa panahong isang regalong maituturing ang pagiging malusog at buhay sa panahong daan-daan ang namamatay sa hindi mo nakikitang kalaban, shet, kailangan ko talagang ipagpasalamat na buhay pa ako ngayon at kumakain tatlong beses sa isang araw, nabo-bored dahil wala ng bagong palabas sa Netflix, may trabahong nirereklamo, nagagalit dahil sa inutil na gobyerno, at nakakapagbigay sa mas nangangailangan pa sa akin, ang swerte ko pa rin at para bang kasalanang hindi mag-celebrate ng b. Sabi nga ng kaibigan ko, “malakas ka kaya kay Lord! Inaalis ka Niya palagi sa mga bagay na hindi para sa ‘yo.”

Kaya naman pagpatak ng 00:00 nung abente uno ng Setyembre, ang sabi ko ay, “Thank you, Lord. Ang swerte ko.“

Kumusta Na?

Kumusta Na?

Ah. Okay ka lang. Ako?

Eto… sakto lang din. Surviving. Gumigising sa umaga at nagpapasalamat na buhay pa at humihinga. Natutulog sa gabi at nagdadasal na matapos na ang napakahabang collective bangungot na ‘to at mailagay ko sa CV ko talaga under achievements: survived 2020, bitches!

Tapos maglalagay ako ng shrine sa kwarto ko ng mga mask, quarantine pass, negative COVID-19 tests ganyan, pa-frame ko tas may nakasulat, “Congratulations for surviving 2020!” Too much?

Although minsan, kapag nakahiga na ako tapos hindi ko hawak ‘yung phone ko, wala muni-muni lang, naiisip ko para tayong nasa hell loop ng Bliss. Tuwing bubuka bibig ng presidente at walang kawawaan at direksyon ang sasabihin niyang namumutiktik sa mura o pasasalamat sa Tsina o paghihintay ng bakuna para matapos na lahat ng ‘to, mapapa-“Puta, eto na naman” ka talaga e.

puta

Nung mga unang araw ng lockdown, syempre hindi. Binalot ako ng sobra-sobrang anxiety tapos nilagnat pa ko so akala ko talaga mamamatay akong masasama lang sa bilang ng statistics, Patient XXXX. Shutangina, sakit nun. Pero ayun, as always, yung utak kong stressed lang pala ang nanalo nung panahon na yun. Buti na lang din na subsob kami nung mga panahong yun sa trabaho so tuwing gabi na lang ako inaatake ng magkakahalong galit, takot, at pangamba sa uncertainties ng mundo.

May guilt feeling din siguro akong naramdaman nun, well, hanggang ngayon pa rin naman, e ang daming nagugutom at hirap na hirap ngayon. Samantalang ako, ito, nakakapagpa-GrabFood at FoodPanda pa kung may cravings. Online shopping ka pa ghorl. Maswerte na lang din siguro ako na maski nawalan ako ng trabaho nung Mayo, mabilis din akong nakahanap ng bago.

Kaya rin siguro ang tapang kong tanggapin ang offer ng retrenchment ng kumpanya kahit na may option na mag-stay ang isang writer, e lahat kami umalis. Kasi parang confident ako nun na magaling naman ako hahaha. Pero sa totoo lang ha, nung mga nakalimang send na ko ng resume sa mga gusto kong pasukan tas walang sumasagot sa ‘kin, medyo nagduda na rin ako sa capabilities ko. Tipong shet, tanginacca, galing-galingan ka lang naman talaga. Lamo yung feeling mo di sapat lahat ng nagawa mo o awards mo o recognitions mo sa resume mo kasi laging may mas magaling sa ‘yo? Ultimo kursong kinuha mo minsan kukwestyunin mo na pati yung ulam mo nung araw na nag-decide kang okay, let go na, yoko na.

Mabuti na lang din talaga may emergency fund ako nun so nakukumbinsi ko pa sarili ko na, “okay lang, nakakapag-milk tea pa naman ako. Okay pa ko.” Hahaha! Kaya mga bata, mag-ipon. Ni sa hinagap, di ko inisip na gagamitin ko ang emergency fund ko para sa pandemic, akala ko sa mga pa-hospital o biglaang gastos na kailangan ng pera, pero hindi. Sobrang shet sa ganitong panahon na never kong naisip na mararanasan ko. Kaya sobrang pasalamat kong nakinig ako sa mga kaopisina ko noon na mag-ipon kami.

Isang buwan mahigit ako nawalan ng work. Mga two weeks akong nagpakatambay. As in nanonood lang ako ng K drama. Feeling ko nga magaling na ko mag-Hangul aywow. Ang ibig kong sabihin, yung mga madalas nila sa sabihin, naiintindihan ko na. Yun lang naman. Ang dami kong bininge watch. As in kailangan niya ng separate blog post para sa mga reaction at feelingz ko. Promise, gagawan ko yan!

Tapos nun, kinontak ako ng dating prod house na pinagsusulatan ko, tas ayun, binigyan nila ako ng project kasi laid off ang ate ninyo, naawa na magutom ako by next year hahaha kaya may income pa rin na pumasok. Tas few days later, akalain mo yun, tinext ako ng isa ko pang dating boss tapos gusto ko raw bang mag-apply sa kanila, aba! Syempre naman! Mabuti na lang nga at meron akong civil service eligibility. Mabuti na lang talaga at pinilit ako ni Wangie (mama ko) na mag-take ng exam kahit di ko naman talaga trip nung 2016. Parang nag-align talaga ang universe, hindi raw ako magugutom sa gitna ng pandemya. Naisip ko sabi siguro ni Lord sa ‘kin, “tanga-tanga mo ‘nak, di ka kasi para dun sa mga ina-apply-an mo. Ito o, inaayos ko na nga. Di ba gusto mo public service. Kulit ka e. Excited ka e.”

Parang ngayon lang ako sinwerte, kako. Pero sabi naman ng kaibigan ko nung sinabi ko sa kanyang, “sinasabi ko sa ‘yo ‘to kahit hindi pa done deal kasi malakas ka kay Lord. Pagdasal mo na makuha ako. ‘Pag ako kasi parang di ako naririnig,” ang sabi niya sa ‘kin gaga raw ako for thinking na hindi ako maswerte kasi sa lahat daw ng mga ganitong hanash ko, lagi naman akong inilalayo sa mga boss o circumstances na hindi na umaayon sa life plans ko (kala mo naman talaga may life plans) hahahahahaha kasi sa totoo lang, gusto ko na rin namang mag-resign sa dati kong trabaho dahil hindi na aligned ang mission ng kumpanya sa mga gusto kong gawin sa buhay ko. Natauhan ako. Oo nga. Tama naman siya. Since last year, seryosong kinukunsidera ko ng kumuha ng masteral sa dev comm kasi gusto ko sana mapunta sa linyang nakikita mo talagang may impact ka. Totoo ngang hindi naman ako mahina dun, hindi pa nga ko nagdadasal kay Buddha, Allah, Mother of Perpetual Help at sa mga anito, binibigay na sa ‘kin. Dahil dyan… Father, forgive me for I have sinned.

So that’s career/work-wise.

Tapos nung July, parang naisip ko, bukod sa kokonting phrases ng Koryan na alam ko, wala naman akong bagong learnings. Tinatamad akong magbasa, tinatamad akong magsulat, tinatamad ako gumamit ng matindihang sunugan ng utak, pero gusto ko pa rin matuto. Hanggang sa isa sa mga usual muni-muni days ko, napaisip ako kung kaya ko nga bang turuan sarili ko tumugtog ng instrument gamit lang ang YouTube University of Music and Arts? Alam ko nabanggit ko na ‘to sa naunang blog dito – na bumili ako ng ukulele. Wala ko magawa sa pera ko e. Charot!

So bale naisip ko, win-win-win! I’d get my hands off my phone so hindi na ko mag-scroll sa mga balitang feeling ko magpapababa ng immune system ko, hindi ako nagne-Netflix lang o nabo-bore sa bahay o nag-iisip ng kung anu-ano, at nagagamit ko ang utak ko dahil may bago akong natutunan in the process! Worth it naman mga besh. Marunong na nga akong tumugtog ng ilang piyesa tulad ng Exploration No. 5, Your Song at With A Smile – yan yung mga nabuo kong una. Yung iba, mga chorus o first verses and chorus tas di ko pa tinatapos or di ko pa na-video ng buo so tingin ko di ko pa buo? Marami-rami na rin, mapupuno na nga yata phone ko sa mga video ko sa sarili ko hahaha vain much?

Kung kaibigan kita sa mga social media, pagpasensyahan niyo na kung puro amateur uke playing na accompanied ng hindi kagandahang boses ko ang nakikita mo sa IG stories ko. Pili ka – yun, quarantine recipes ko o rants ko sa gobyerno?

May pang-apat pa palang win yan! Mas nama-manage ko na yung mental health ko sa panahong ‘to. Nagugulat na lang ako minsan na ay bed time ko na pala. So hindi na ko makakarinig masyado ng masasamang balita beyond 9pm, mas peaceful na nga ang buhay ko.

Naisip ko ring maigi na rin sigurong matapos ang taon na may bago akong skill bukod sa pagtatanim (malaki na yung iba naming tanim!!!) at hindi ako babalik sa taong ito na puro lungkot at kahirapan ng buhay lang ang maaalala ko.

Sa kabilang banda, nami-miss ko na rin ang old normal. Nung unang i-announce ang lockdown, naisip kong hindi naman siguro ako masyadong magsa-struggle. Bilang homebody at 70% introvert, hindi big deal sa ‘kin ang hindi lumabas ng bahay. Sa katunayan, tuwing uuwi ako ng bahay mula sa trabaho o sa pakikipagkita sa mga kaibigan pre-pandemic, pagod na pagod ako hindi dahil sa work, minsan dahil sa pakikipag-usap sa mga tao o pag-interview sa kanila o chika chika, kailangan ko talagang mag-reconnect sa sarili ko gabi-gabi. Kung hindi, maloloka ako. Chos.

Pero mga ‘day, umabot naman na ng 5 buwan ang lockdown, ibang usapan naman na yun. Nami-miss ko na makita mga pamangkin ko, mga kaibigan. Miss ko na yung 4:30 habit namin sa opisina na merienda. Miss ko na maglakad sa mall mag-isa at mag-window shop kapag bored ako sa bahay tas uuwi akong masaya kahit nabudol ng Watson’s o Landmark. Pati pag-people watch nami-miss ko na rin. Yung umuwi ng bahay ng hindi nagmamadaling maligo dahil di mo alam kung may inuwi ka bang virus. Manood ng sine! Kumain sa labas! Videoke with friends! Mag-beach! Huhu mag-beach!

Pero ang pinakanami-miss ko? Tange, hindi samgyup!

Yung lumabas ng bahay na wala kang inaalala. Miss ko nga rin pala ang pagsakay ng jeep, lalo ang pagiging Angkas loyalist ko huhuhuhuhu. Ang mahal-mahal ng pamasahe ko to and from work, sa totoo lang. Mabuti na lang naka-two week work schedule lang kami so pwede na rin, mej tipid na yung kalahating buwan kasi hindi ka na lalabas. Grabe ang mahal na ng taxi! Lalo ng Grab! Nakakatakot namang mag-commute di ba kasi shet mas maraming high touch areas at taong kasama ka. May takot na yata ako sa mga mararaming tao, napapaatras ako, sa true lang.

Gusto ko na ulit makatipid sa pamasahe, mag-abot ng pamasahe, hindi manikip ang dibdib tuwing biglang naubo o nasasamid ang taxi o Grab driver na nasakyan ko, hindi mag-dry ang mga palad kaka-alcohol, hindi mag-mask, hindi production number tuwing lalabas ng bahay. But what can we do? Wala e. Ganito na tayo ngayon.

On a lighter note, alam mo bang ang saya ko nang ma-discover ko ang YouTube channel ni Rico Blanco? Ang saya panoorin ng content niya, isa siyang major throwback sa panahong ang dali ng daloy ng buhay. Sana mas marami pa siyang gawing vlog na hindi tungkol sa basketball kasi wala naman akong alam dun! Yes, ako lang ang audience? Sana rin si Ebe magkaroon na ng sarili niyang vlog. Napakinggan ko yung two-part episode niya sa Linya-Linya podcast at ang engaging niya at insightful at naisip ko agad na shet, ang sarap lang makinig dito kay Tito Ebe habang naglilinis ako ng kwarto o umiinom ng milk tea.

Oo nga pala! Virgo season na nitong nakaraang linggo, sabi ng mga astrologers at Refinery 29, o di ba, uztomoyoin resources ko ang legit hahaha, ito na talaga season na ibabalik natin sa ayos ang mga bagay-bagay after nating mag-enjoy sa party season ng mga papampam na Leo. Chos. Tas since mahilig kami gumawa ng mga to-do list (nasa to-do list ko ‘tong blog update na ‘to sshhh), e mas mao-organize mo raw ngayon ang mga bagay-bagay.

Pero dahil materialistic ang Virgos, shet ito talaga sisisihin ko sa recent online purchases ko, e mas malakas ang hatak ng pagbili ng mga bagay. Buong lockdown hindi ako bumili ng mga unnecessary stuff, tas pagpasok ng linggong ‘to, aba! Apat na dress checkout, lace bralettes and undies na di ko naman kailangan dahil marami naman ako nyan, hala sige checkout! Pinigilan ko pa sarili ko nyan ha! Extra hamper lang naman talaga dapat bibilhin ko dahil need ko ng separate hamper for clothes worn outside the house sa clothes na sa bahay lang ginamit. Haynako talaga. Tapos gusto ko rin bumili ng vacuum cleaner para mas malinis yung kwarto ko tsaka air fryer kahit hindi ko naman talaga kailangan huhuhu. Please don’t take all my money, Virgo season. Kailangan ko pa i-replenish yung mga utang to self ko dahil nawalan ako ng work at kinailangang bumili ng bagong laptop.

Hay. Ayun. Yun lang naman yata so far. Ay hindi! So kahapon nakakita ako ng post na yung uso ngayon na leave a dot kemer tapos may sasabihin ka. Ang usual yung compliment me, make me feel good about myself kinembot! Naaalibadbaran ako. Masyado siyang fishing for me. Okay, erase. Siguro hindi fishing, we all need some kind of validation naman talaga. Basta it’s not for me, kaya hindi ako nag-abala magsagot o mag-share. Pero yung kanina, leave a dot and I will give you a compliment. Hindi para sa ‘kin, para sa ibang tao. So, G!

And you know what I realized? Ito yung araw na ang dami kong sinabihan ng maganda ka, matalino ka, proud ako sa ‘yo, etc. Talaga ngang ang kuripot ko sa compliments. Noon pa man, hindi ko sasabihin ang feedback ko unless sobrang overwhelmed ko o birthday mo. Lol. Wala lang, for me kasi, words are overrated. Writer pa ko niyan ha. HAHAHA. I’d rather go for people who take action kesa sa puro kuda o tapos?

Sabi nga ni Chinny, kapag nag-rave ako about sa isang bagay o tao o lugar o pelikula, naniniwala siya. Kasi sa dalang ko magsabi ng compliment, alam daw niyang totoo yung sasabihin ko. Di ko alam kung good o bad thing yun. Kaya naman ewan ko ba, sobrang nabuo yung araw ko sa pagbibigay ng compliments o mga paborito kong memories sa mga tao. Madali lang naman pala. Masaya naman palang paminsan-minsan e mapangiti mga tao when I tell them how I really feel about them. Or how I appreciate them, hindi ko lang talaga sinasabi.

Totoo ngang hindi tayo dapat maging madamot sa pagbibigay ng compliments, kasi libre naman yun. Libre pala magpangiti ng mga tao or make them feel appreciated in 240 characters or less. Totoo ngang kung ano ang i-put out mo sa mundo, yun ang babalik sa ‘yo. Some friends also left compliments for me kahit hindi yun ang gusto kong mangyari hahaha pero kung inaaral kong magbigay ng compliments more frequently, di ba dapat matuto rin akong tumanggap nito? And for some reason, how is it that I was the one giving compliments yet I feel the happiest? This is really something new for me. Ang gaan-gaan sa pakiramdam.

Bago rin sa pandinig mo mga sinasabi ko sa parteng ‘to ‘no? Off brand ‘no? Hahaha!

Haaay. Ayun. Yun ako since we last talked. Kung last year pa tayo huling nagkita.

O, ikaw? Yung totoo. Kumusta ka na? Hindi yung “okay lang.” 400 words minimum. Kumusta ka? Makikinig ako. Pangako.

 

I Took The COVID-19 RT-PCR Test. Here’s What Happened

I Took The COVID-19 RT-PCR Test. Here’s What Happened

(a life update of sorts)

Last Monday, July 13, everyone in our department was scheduled to take the COVID swab test (for free!) since a lot of us in the office have been going out and in general, to ensure that we’re all safe from the dreaded virus and will not become carriers to our loved ones, clients, friends, Romans, countrymen, you know the drill.

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Pagdating sa testing center, chukingina, grabe kabog ng puso ko. Tapos for some reason, parang pineplema ako na ewan hahahaha. What iz diz? Ito na ba ang simula ng wakas?

Sa lahat ng naka-experience ng swab test at sinasabing masakit, yes, I concur. Mesheket. Yung sakit na para kang pinasukan ng tubig na  may chlorine sa ilong kapag nag-swimming ka, only this time, solid siya.  Ibang klase yung effort to restrain yourself na itulak yung taga-swab. Parang yung restraint din na gusto mong sipain yung teh ghorl pag nagpapa-brazilian wax ka lol. Yung sa pharyngeal swab, saks lang pero parang nagka-sore throat ako after. Ewan, baka mabigat lang kamay nung gumawa sa ‘kin.

Una, kukuha sila ng swab tapos ipapasok sa butas ng ilong, isuksok hanggang sa malapit na sa utak mo (ganun yung feeling lol) iikot, iikot, iikot, tapos uwu hindi pa nakuntento yung taga-Red Cross na kyah, nilipat pa sa kabilang butas ng ilong, para yata fair, di ko alam. Tapos ilalagay niya yung swab sa isang container. Kumuha ulit siya ng isa pang swab, pinababa ng fully ang mask. Nganga. Labas dila. Swab sa magkabilang sides ng throat or basta sa left and right na katabi ng tonsils mo, throat na ba yun? I don’t know the exact name, hindi ako  EENT doctor for a reason. Lol. Log details and done! The entire procedure is done in under two minutes.

You know what doesn’t take two minutes? Yung agony and anxiety and stress ng paghihintay ng test results. Hindi siya nakakatuwang experience.

TBH, even before I got swabbed, I’ve been feeling anxious ever since I started going out of the house again to process papers for my employment. Mas heightened lang ngayon. I mean, the amount of people I’ve encountered on those days and the number of people who aren’t wearing their masks properly are enough to make me feel uneasy. I know I follow all safety protocols. I wear a mask, sanitize and wash hands frequently, maintain physical distance, I do not touch my face with unclean hands, and I take a bath as soon as I come home.

But even with that knowledge in mind, I still had fears of testing positive with the veerus. Kasi naman, you’ll never know until you get tested e, di ba? So to prep, I wrote all the names of the people I had close contact with in the last two weeks, and pucha, umabot ng more than ten. You know how all those visual representations of how virus spreads? Totoo siya. Imagine, kung may sakit na ko nun, ilang tao yung probably nahawaan ko. Paano ko ita-track yung mga taxi drivers na nasakyan ko? I even hugged and kissed Andres, for fork’s sake! Horrendous! I kept praying I wouldn’t have to tell them the rehearsed line I have in my mind should the test come back positive.

112915248_614226806167788_8856124259804312640_nLook at this cutie na posibleng ipapahamak ko huhuhuhu

Aside from that, I was also thinking about the steps I should take if I receive the bad news. Aabot ba yung savings ko? Madali kayang pumila sa PCSO? Uutangan ko ba savings ni Andres pag naubos ko yung akin? BWAHAHAHAHAHA. Magpo-post na ba ko ng “Twitter please do your thing?” Pwede ko siguro benta yung book ko in e-book format for the treatment para hindi siya donation. Sasabihin ko ba kay mama? Baka mauna pa siyang mamatay sa ‘kin sa nerbyos/sakit sa puso. Ano kayang gagawin ko while in isolation? Pwede kaya ‘to as second book? Isali ko kaya sa Palanca? HAHAHAHA. As in motherforker, literal na ang dami palang papasok sa utak mo hahahaha. Natatawa lang ako pero minsan hindi ako makahinga nang maayos just thinking about contracting the virus. Ang dami-dami-dami ko pang gustong gawin. May season 2 pa ng Hospital Playlist next year lol. Hindi siya healthy. I swear to God, mauuna akong mamatay sa anxiety kesa sa sakit.

On some days while waiting for the result, I’d think about the times where could I have gotten it. Sa Grab ba? Sa taxi? Sa office? Sa perang isinukli sa kin ni Kuya FoodPanda kahit inaalcohol-an ko naman? Sa grocery? Sinong gago makapal mukha ang nanghawa sa ‘kin why didn’t you motherfuckers stay at hooooome?! Stay at hooooome. Chos. Putangina ng gobyerno bakit niyo pinabayaang umabot sa ganito?! Ito hindi chos.

The truth is, my mind became a forking hell. It is not the good place it used to be. (get it, get it? Haha)

It’s so hellish that it even came to a point that my anxiety is manifesting physically. Alam kong hindi lang ako ang nakakaranas nito. Aside from having a hard time breathing, nagkakasakit ako. Which is not good in this time of COVID, ano ho? I’ve experienced this before as well in the first few days of quarantine. Literal na nilagnat ako. At mag-isa lang ako sa bahay. Walang stock ng gamot. Walang thermometer to even check kung praning ba ko o nilalagnat talaga ako.

110275501_1645666912249296_3457030689355111765_nNgingiti-ngiti yan pero praning na yan kakahintay ng resulta ng test niya

This time, there’s a perennial lump in my throat that wouldn’t go away. Eloisa, my friend and housemate, knows this. Sa kanya ako nagsasabi ng, “is this COVID or is this how having a throat feels like?” Thank you beks for always reassuring me na stress lang ito at sa panahon at hindi ako nag-uwi ng virus sa bahay hahahhaha. I’ve sucked on an entire pack of Strepsils. It comes and goes. Depende sa naiisip ko. Then I also tried drinking ginger tea. This one greatly helped. I felt good right after. You can’t imagine how many times I’ve Googled “COVID-19 symptoms” on my phone.

Last Saturday, surprisingly, nawala yung sakit after ng online mananita ni Keng on Facebook where we talked about our fears and how we’re coping in this time. I figured, aahh, baka I need a diversion until the result comes out. So I went back to journaling, which helped. Na-miss ko mag-brain dump without having to re-edit and censor my thoughts because wala namang ibang magbabasa niyan. I also started going back to meditating after noticing that the 5-7-8 breathing technique is no longer helping me as much as it used to. We also started an urban garden! And then there’s Ghost Fighter. Na iniisip ko bakit ko ba to nagustuhan nung elementary, apaka-basic. Pangit ng pagkakasulat. Hahaha.

But still I find them not enough. Kasi I still open my social media, the epicenter, the main source of my anxiety. So I opt to limiting my soc med use. Because I could also never really tell you guys to stop ranting on social media because I do it, too. It’s part of how I cope e. I cannot control your posts.

But here’s the thing. I can however, control what I can see and read. At this point, I would also like to ask friends to limit ranting to me at the moment about the government’s inefficiencies in handling this pandemic, unless I started venting first, because nati-trigger talaga ako. Or, you can also ask me if it’s a good time to vent. I’d do the same from now on. As a general rule, wag niyo ko i-PM about it ng 9pm onwards because dadalhin ko siya hanggang pagtulog hahaha. Thank you for understanding.

K-drama topics, movies and other chika are welcome beyond 9pm hahaha. Especially Jung Hae In photos and videos hehehe.

On the fifth day, stress na stress na ko. I know that no news should be treated as good news. But I really want to know.

110717660_207673533948256_8251180997398432472_nUke arrived this Saturday and it has prevented me from constantly checking my phone

The craziest thing I did while waiting it out? I bought a ukulele. Lol. I’ve had it for two days now and wow, as in, nakakakalma siya. I already know 4 chords and I can “play” You Are My Sunshine and Rip Tide. Lelz. I’m liking this so far. I just figured I’d be better off learning a new skill than stress out every free time I have. But learning to play an instrument is for another story. Hehe.

Sooo… if anybody knows how to properly handle this kind of anxiety, please shoot me a message. Hahaha. I cannot bake because I don’t have an oven. Also, lahat kayo bakers na so ibahin ko yung akin. Mas mura pati ang uke kesa sa oven and other baking essentials at wala akong balak maging IG seller ng crinkles because wala akong tiyaga mag-answer ng HM kahit andun na yung presyo.

So ayun na nga. Dami ko sinabi. Today, July 21, 2020, after 8 long days, I finally received the good news. Ya girl tested negative for the veerus. Para akong nakahinga ng maluwag. Namula ako ng bongga. Jusko, thank you Lord. Epeks naman lahat ng preventive measures.

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Mapapadasal ka talaga kahit hindi ka relihiyosong tao. I even told a few friends (aside from family) after the taking the test who are also my prayer warriors to help me pray and “think negative.” Worked!

Praying so damn hard it stays this way until a vaccine becomes available because sayang naman lahat ng Vitamin C at B-complex na ininom ko, lahat ng tubig with lemon na nilalaklak ko, lahat ng prutas at gulay at pagtulog ko nang mas maaga kahit papaano to boost my immune system, di ba? Laban lang, immune system. Di tayo pinalaki ng Sexbomb para bumawi. Pati na rin yung mga binili kong mask filters at masks at yung pagda-dry ng kamay ko kaka-hugas at alcohol kaya mga baks, utang na loob, magsuot kayo ng masks. PROPERLY. Yung takip buong ilong at bibig mo. Walangya. Pagod na pagod na ko manita in a very nice way ng mga nakikita kong hindi maayos mag-mask, because hindi naman ako very nice na tao. Shuta. Umayos kayo. Dumistansya. Ang dami-dami kong gustong yakaping tao, di ko magawa. Bilisan na natin mawala ‘to. Lastly, keep on pagsingil sa gobyernong ‘to kung paano nila tayo “binusabos” ngayong panahon ng pandemya. Walang makakalimot.

‘Yun lang.

TL; DR

Masakit magpa-swab test pero mas masakit sa buong pagkatao yung paghihintay ng result. Negative ako sa COVID-19!

Answering ‘Adulting’ Questions from Facebook

Answering ‘Adulting’ Questions from Facebook

emily-morter-8xAA0f9yQnE-unsplashTinatamad pa talaga ko maghanap ng trabaho. Sabi ni Jolens sagutan ko na raw itong mga tanong tungkol sa crush ko pero syempre ayoko, paano kung biglang maligaw yung crush ko dito tas mag-feeling siya bigla? Hahaha. Hello? So ito na lang, para kunwari productive ako ngayong araw at on brand naman sa ‘tin bilang tita ang mga adulting eme na ganito, ano?

May isang Facebook group akong kinabibilangan, tapos may nag-post dun ng ano raw adulting questions mga bagets tas daming nagtanong at sumagot. Habang tina-type ko ‘to, nasa 1.4k na ang comments. Ang saya basahin, kung marami kang time at hindi rin marunong mag-adult. Marami rin akong time pero syempre, sa dami ng sagot, natabunan na. So naisip kong pipili ako ng Top 10 questions tapos sasagutin ko because dalawang buwan na kong walang content hahaha. Tsaka kunwari ano, sikat tayo tas directed at us talaga itong questions na ito. Tipong yung mga Buzzfeed-type videos na Carmina Mones plays with puppies while answering adulting questions. Ganyan.

 


 

Ano po advice niyo sa mga nagkaka-existential crisis ngayon? Ang hirap kasi nung di mo alam kung ano yung plans mo in the future.

Tara, e-numan tayo. Sa totoo lang, hindi ko rin alam plans ko sa future. Ni hindi ko alam kung relevant pa ba ang mga bagay na ginagawa ko bago dumating ang pandemyang ito. Sa kasalukuyan, meron din akong existential crisis na tinatapalan ko ng pakikipaglaro sa pamangkin kong si Andres o pagbabad sa Korean drama o di naman kaya sa social media at pagsagot ng mga ganitong bagay. Mas madali kasing tumakas, sa totoo lang. Pero may mga araw na mapapa-“huy, Carmina! Ano na plano natin?!” ka talaga. At sa ngayon, ang ginagawa ko ay yung natutunan ko pa rin sa last kong work, na alam ko nabanggit ko na rin dito noon. Ito yung framework (wuw may framework):

where I am now: describe mo anong situation mo, mas vivid, mas okay yan

where do I want to go: same sa taas, describe, in five years, in ten years, ano dapat ang nagawa mo na, nasaan ka na? Like anong ginagawa mo right at this very moment?

how do I get there: ngayon, anong steps sa tingin mo ang dapat mong gawin para magkatotoo yung nasa taas? Kung marami kang isinulat sa taas, mag-prioritize ka. Alin dyan pinaka-importantest para sa ‘yo?

May shinare rin ang kaibigan kong si Chinny na article nung recent na usapan namin nito lang after namin mawalan ng work: para mag-recalibrate ng sarili mo, maglista ka raw ng mga priorities mo according sa practice ni Warren Buffet. Long story short, list down your top 25 priorities. Then bilugan mo yung top 5. The rest of the 20, ilagay mo sa “avoid at all cost” list. Kasi raw, 20% of our priorities account for 80% of our results, mas focused ka sa kokonting bagay, mas successful ka. Siguro ganyan, baka magbasa-basa rin ng mga bagay na makakapag-refocus at re-organize ng buhay mo. Balitaan niyo ko kung gumana sa inyo, try ko rin. Charot.

When to career-shift?

Kapag may bagay kang gustong gawin na hindi na nafu-fulfill ng current mong ginagawa. Kapag may nagging feeling na, “hindi ko ‘to dapat na ginagawa” or dina-drag mo na ang sarili mo papasok ng opisina at as in wala ka ng motivation para sa trabaho mo, yun na!

When is the good time to invest and which are the good investment, para hindi lang puro sahod sa full time job yung pumapasok na pera. Also, what are things you wished you knew when you were just started sa adulting?

The best time to invest financially is if may emergency fund ka na na worth 3-6 mos. ng cost of living/expenses mo na liquid para sa mga panahong tulad ngayon. Tapos savings kahit konti lang na pwede mo ring pagkuhanan. Yung karugtong na tanong parang sa stocks na ‘no? Wala akong alam sa stocks, bukod sa PruLife VUL ko na insurance na may kasamang investment, pagbili ko ng stocks sa business ng dati kong boss (di ko na natanong ano na balita dito haha), at sa naging mutual fund ko sa Sunlife dahil di nila ko in-approve na VUL, wala na kong ibang investment. Sa kung sinumang may alam sa stocks na makakapagbasa nito, pakibigay ng payo ninyo, need ko rin. Hehe.

Sana alam ko na noon pa paano tamang i-budget pera ko. Dami ko na sigurong ipon ngayon. Sana lagi akong nagjo-journal kasi ang saya balikan ng kahapon, dami ko ring learnings sa old self ko. Sinasabi ko pa rin sa sarili ko yan jusko saan na ba bullet journal ko puro breakdown ng budget na lang content nun.

Paano po mahalin ang sarili? Is there an indicator po para malaman if I’m doing it right? How does if feel po ba huhuhu and if ever, gaya din po siya ng case when someone loves you?

Simple. Be the best girlfriend you can be to yourself. You’re doing it right if you are happier, and more content, and confident about yourself. Treat yourself the way you want others to treat you para alam mo rin na when you’re not being treated right, iwan mo na. May standards tayo dito ganoin.

Una nagsimula ako sa skincare, tapos sa meditation, tapos sa pagbalik sa pagbabasa at panonood ng mga bagay na makaka-enrich sa ‘kin as a person – either plain entertainment or practical learning. Then I’ve started saying “Yes” to myself more. Sabi nga ng Ben&Ben, “pipiliin ka araw-araw.” In this case, piliin mo sarili mo. Lalo kung wala kang sinasagasaang ibang tao.

Anong mga unang dapat gawin pagka-hit ng legal age (18 years old)?

No shit, a day after I turned 18, sinamahan ako ng tatay ko magparehistro sa COMELEC. Granted, dahil yun sa tatakbo siya sa pagka-chairman sa darating na eleksyon nung time na yun, pero still one of the best decisions I’ve done. Lalo kung marami kang opinyon sa gobyerno. Ang hirap na puro ka reklamo pero di ka naman kumikilos sa pagluklok ng mga taong may kakayahang baguhin ang estado ng mga mamamayan sa bansa mo. Lalo sa panahon ngayon. Ganti tayo sa 2022!

How to stay passionate or motivated?

You start with your ‘why’. Napaka-passing ng mga bagay-bagay so dapat lahat ng gagawin mo rooted sa ‘why’ mo. Mas nagiging gritty ang isang tao kung yung ginagawa niya ay powered by purpose, not by sparks of inspiration. Then focus on the hows and whats para ma-achieve mo anuman yung goal mo. Learned this from Simon Sinek. 🙂

Paano po masasabi na hindi ka na “bagets” at “adult” ka na pala?

Kapag nasasabi mo na yung linyang: “nung panahon namin…” hahahaha! Srsly, though, kapag ikaw na talaga responsable sa sarili mong buhay. Yung mga decision mo mga 10 times mo na iniisip yung implications sa mga bagay at taong importante sa buhay mo. Kapag ang dami mo ng bills haha.

(What to do with people) Shoving their opinions on how you will decide on things na dapat yun sundin mo?

Ikaw ba nagpapakain sa ‘kin? Nakatira ba ko sa ‘yo? Binibigyan mo ba ako ng allowance? Wangie, Intoy, kayo ba yan? If yes, then siyempre naman may factor yang opinion mo sa buhay ko. If none of the above, nagma-matter ba sa ‘kin ang opinyon mo sa buhay ko? Hiningi ko ba? Kasi nanghihingi lang ako ng opinyon sa mga taong nagma-matter sa buhay ko. Buhay mo? Buhay mo? Haha. Kung hindi kita hiningian nito, get your hands off my damn business. But say it in a nicer way, di ko kaya yun e.

Job interview do’s and dont’s

Huh. I’ve written an entire blog about this here. But if you want an updated copy, please buy a copy of my book, Adulting and Winging It! Hahaha. I’m not even kidding. I’ve interviewed an HR professional and asked some friends on their best practices as well. O ‘di ba, nag-promote lang, akala mo naman may kopya pa siya hahaha. E-book version na lang meron. Lol.

Is there such thing as consulting about financial literacy and investments from someone na hindi ka balak bentahan ng insurance?

Meron naman! Actually, I had a subject in college called Personal Financial Management na hindi ko sineryoso, so sising-sisi ako when I realized na fuck, kailangan ko mag-ipon to live a comfortable life because I wasn’t privileged enough to be born into a wealthy family. So kayod tayo. Anyway, there are blogs out there that talks about handling your finances. My sister introduced me to Vince Rapisura’s channel when it comes to handling your finances. What I liked about his channel is hindi siya mahirap intindihin lalo ng mga masang Pilipino at mahina sa math haha kasi ine-explain niya nang maayos and in Tagalog. Hindi siya nagbebenta ng insurance. Lol.

How to deal with toxic relatives po?

I think para sa ‘kin talaga ‘tong question na ‘to. Lol. Una, distance yourself from toxic relatives. I can’t remember the last time I attended a family reunion because a big chunk of my family are people I do not want to mingle with anymore. It’s not just the whole “kelan ka mag-aasawa” questions, but the judgments sa kung paano ko mabuhay and my decisions in life. Hellooo. Mama at Papa ko nga, hindi ako pinakielaman, sinuportahan pa ko, tas ikaw? Lalo yung mga porket matanda sila sa ‘yo ‘kala nila sila lang yung tama. Ugh.

Yung mga gusto ko pang mag-stay sa buhay ko, I stay in touch with them as much as I can. My parents hate me for being like this, but this is my life and this is how I want to live. There are a lot of times wherein hindi mo na nga maasahan ang “pamilya” mo, ichi-chismis ka pa. So para saan pa, di ba? If you can’t avoid them, bawasan na lang ang social interaction with them. Or at least be polite and civil kung makikita mo in person. Kung sa social media naman, the unfollow and block button are there at your disposal.

 


 

At dahil uso naman ang tanungan ng ambag ngayon, kung binabasa mo ito at may sagot ka sa mga tanong sa itaas, share mo na rin! Or kung may tanong ka, o sige, sagutin na rin natin, tutal pare-parehas pa rin naman tayong nakakulong sa mga bahay natin dahil napakainutil ng gobyernong ‘to. Bye.

 

*photo mula sa Unsplash. Shelemet mars Emily Morter.

Staying Sane in the time of Corona

Staying Sane in the time of Corona

Last Friday, pagkabalik namin mula sa tatlong araw na team building sa Batangas, diretso ako agad sa grocery to stock up on items I’d need for a month of lockdown quarantine. After ko makipagpagdigma sa dalawang grocery store para makumpleto ang nasa listahan ko, umuwi akong ubos na ubos na. Note: Ubos din ang bawang. Di ko alam bakit. Baka bampira ang virus, kaya may curfew ng 8pm-5am.

Understandably, sobrang nakaka-drain ang mga recent na pangyayari. Muntik na kong maiyak sa sobrang overwhelm sa lahat. Hindi pa nakakatulong yung enhanced community quarantine ng gobyerno ngayon, lalo na ang unintelligible presscon ni Duterte. Lalo na yung mga kaibigan mong hanggang ngayon naniniwala pa rin sa gobyernong ‘to. Ewan. Sabi ng isa kong kaibigan, kung wala ka naman daw maitutulong, at puro kuda ka lang, wag ka na lang magsalita. At the end of the day, susunod ka rin naman daw. E bakit si Duterte? Kumuda lang ng kumuda on national TV, wala rin namang naitulong na matino IMO, pero sinasanto niyo pa rin? Tapos sabi niya, let’s pray.

Sobrang saturated na ng social media, ang dami ng nagsalita. Toxic na nga raw dahil we have the worst citizens. Sumunod na lang kasi kayo! Pero shet, paisa lang dito.

Ang good news ay naka-work from home kaming lahat sa opisina. Ang bad news, ang dami mo ngayong time para mag-isip nang mag-isip sa mga bagay-bagay tulad ng, “Shet, naubo ako, ito na ba ang simula ng wakas?” “Shet, naubuhan ako nung bata sa laundry nung nakaraang linggo, is she my murderer?” Dagdag pa nating may isa ng namatay sa Sampaloc, kung saan less than a kilometer ang layo sa bahay ng pamilya ko. Sabi ni papa, hindi raw muna niya ko dadalawin dito sa QC. Precautionary measures lang. Madalas ko ngayong ka-chat yung pamangkin ko, madalas kami mag-I love you-han hahaha. Na-appreciate ko naman. Pero tangina, mamamatay na ba ko? Dapat ko na bang ihanda ang playlist ko sa burol ko? Magkakaburol ba ko dahil bawal ang mass gathering? yabang maraming dadalaw sa ‘yo, ghorl? Lol. Asymptomatic ba ko? Hirap kapag hindi mo nakikita yung kaaway mo e. Anong uulamin ko mamaya? I AM SO FUCKING MAD AT THIS FUCKING GOVERNMENT! Kelan pa naging sagot sa pandemic ang kapulisan? TEST KITS! Disinfect public spaces! I mean gets for peace and order yung pulis, but do they even have PPEs to begin with? Saan dadalhin kapag nagpakita ka ng symptoms? Why do they have firearms? Do we gun down the veerus? (I commented on a friend’s [who I now unfriended] post this and someone said, ang kulit ko raw e malamang sarcasm yun? Pano barilin virus? Ang tanga lang). Why do we even give this president a fucking platform to ramble for minutes on end tapos wala namang substance? Asan ang TEST KITS!!!! Why don’t we tell people na “hoy, bobo, kapag di ka pumirmi sa bahay mo, makakapanghawa ka kung may sakit ka na pala di mo lang alam. Gusto mo ikaw maging cause ng pagkamatay ng pamilya mo?” instead of “hindi ito martial law” bakit sobrang defensive? Anong plano sa mga “no work, no pay?” Bakit ang daming kuda ng privileged people? Netflix and chill? For workers na isang kahig, isang tuka paano sila mag-stay sa bahay? On a scale of 1 to James Deakin, gaano ka ka-out of touch sa reality? Bakit puro “When in doubt, NO.” Wala ba kayong group chat? This whole presscon is a classic example of a meeting that should’ve been sent as an email. TEST KITS!!!

Hindi nakakatuwa basahin ‘no? Labo. Parang si Duterte. Yung takbo ng utak ko hindi humihinto. Lahat yan sabay-sabay na umaandar sa utak ko. And so I approached a wellness coach and told her I think I’m having anxiety attacks. And she taught me the 4-7-8 technique.

The 4-7-8 breathing technique requires a person to focus on taking a long, deep breath in and out. Rhythmic breathing is a core part of many meditation and yoga practices as it promotes relaxation.

Dr. Andrew Weil teaches the 4-7-8 breathing technique, which he believes can help with reduce anxiety, get sleep, manage cravings, and control or reduce anger responses.

If you’d ask me, this is something we all need. For days, we’ve all been focusing on our physical wellbeing that we may have forgotten about our mental health as well. I wasn’t even thinking about it until the adrenaline rush stopped and everything started dawning on me that, “Fuck. This is truly happening.”

And so I confided in her, and she told me to do this technique. I did it. And then I started to calm the fuck down. So if you feel like you need to calm down as well, here’s how to do it:

Focus on the following breathing pattern: breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, and then exhale through the mouth for 8 seconds. Repeat four times. Or until you feel better.

Another thing that I realized was helpful was doing things in routine. I realized that when I was doing my skincare, which is a daily routine of mine, I usually feel some sort of peacefulness. Because nga alam ko na yung pagkakasunud-sunod. No surprises. No “Hello! 140 na nga pala ang cases natin pero magra-rant lang ako sa bashers ko online re martial law, veerus, at hindi pagpapasalamat sa health workers!”

Or watching a movie you’ve seen before. Nothing will surprise you anymore if you watch a movie you’ve seen a thousand times before. Last night, I watched Pitch Perfect 3 for the first time. Granted, it’s not a movie I’ve seen before. Labo. But I’m sure as hell I’m getting a happy ending!

If that still doesn’t work, try doing household chores to keep yourself busy. I disinfected doorknobs and other surfaces earlier while listening to podcasts and that somehow soothed me. I prepped meals for the week, did a batch of laundry and cleaned the kitchen. In general, do something that you are in control of.

E tapos nawala yung zen ko nung nanood ako ng presscon. Gahd. And so my final tip is this: if they’re saying social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, do social media distancing to keep yourself sane. There is only so much you can do, because “hiNdI kA nAmAn pReSiDenTe,” at “waLa kA naMaN aMbaG uWu” but you know, you can always turn off that goddamn motherfucking Facebook. I promise I will. And when all else fail, unfollow, unfriend, block people on your timeline. It’s there for you to use.  Makinig ka sa ‘kin. Ako kasi yung matalino. Just obey.