Adventures of a Loner: Escolta

It was a spontaneous Saturday when I suddenly decided to go to Escolta and visit the Saturday X Future Market at The Hub, which was making a comeback after almost a year of hiatus (I think). Mommy was trying to convince to just stay at home since I had no one to go with me. “Umuulan tuwing hapon sa Maynila, mabilis bumaha. Dito ka na lang sa bahay.” She was so cute, it almost worked. But I have made up my mind so I kissed her goodbye and went on my way.

The last time I was in Escolta was 2015, if I’m not mistaken. My brother, sister-in-law, and I had a bazaar called Mr. and Mrs. Sis (We still think it was a cute and clever name haha). Little did we know then that it would be the beginning of what would turn out to be FACE OFF KICKS. Anyway.

I was able to buy an otherworldly beautiful book that I only previously heard about. I was screaming deep inside when I saw it.

The whole Griffin and Sabine series just takes the epistolary genre a notch higher. It was such a precious and rewarding experience to open the envelopes and pull out the letters to advance the novel’s story. The ending just made me stay up way past midnight last night because it’s so frustrating not to know what happens next. I hope I can still come across these books in my next book shopping sprees.
After going around the Market, I decided to check out the Firsr United Bldg. beside and was giddily surprised to see a signage saying on the 5th floor was The Library of Unread Books. My heart did a somersault!

The Library was filled with donated books that, for some reason, have been left unread by their original owners. Readers can stay in the library for free and for as long as they like and they even offer free printing services and free coffee and snacks.

The books were deliberately arranged at random to keep the element of surprise. It was such a lovely place! I found the book I wanted to curl up with and chose a quiet little corner (it was a take-off-your-shoes, sit-on-the-floor setting), and spent half an hour soaking up the magic of Rilke. My heart was full.

I couldn’t stay too long because I still had some things to tick off my imaginary checklist. I went out of the building but not without taking a cliche shot of the staircase. I like it though!

Since I’m from the school of thought that all great days involve caffeine, I had an iced long black at The Den, the coffee shop inside The Hub. It brought back memories of my favorite coffee shop in Chiang Mai which was Akha Ama Coffee.

Fueled and awoken by caffeine, I set out on a walkathon from Escolta to Ongpin in my quest for authentic Chinese food. I did not have GPS or a concrete knowledge of the restaurant’s address. I just went where my feet would take me and eventually (and after asking for directions only once haha), I found myself among Chinoys inside Wai Ying. As usual, I ordered wanton mami, hakaw, and their delicious milk tea. 

Yum!! In my defense, I walked and walked so my hunger was justified. Haha.
To end the day, I decided to visit my beloved alma mater. It was another walkathon but I’m lucky it did not rain (contrary to what Mommy said haha) and it made my journey a lot easier and hassle-free.

Full disclosure: I’m always scared to walk alone in the streets of Manila because the people all look so tough and the threats of danger seem to be everywhere. I overcame this fear by acting all tough myself, walking briskly, and even frowning here and there just to channel my inner Tough Street Girl. And it worked! No one bothered me and I was safe and sound the whole time. Proud moment, ladies and gentlemen.

When I got there, La Salle still felt like home and brought back many warm and happy memories. If I could hug my college self, I would.

The Ampitheater! I used to pass by here everyday on my way to my classrooms. Lots of lively chatter and student vibes.

Still my favorite building in the campus. So serene and scenic.

The future indeed begins here.

My classmate once said, “You can take the boy out of Ateneo, but you can’t take Ateneo out of the boy.” I think it’s also true for La Salle and girls. 😊

And that’s it for the 2017 pilot episode (?) of my Adventures of a Loner! Till the next one!

Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard Speech (or at least parts of it)

Mark Zuckerberg was the principal speaker at Harvard’s 366th Commencement last May 25 and, for me, his Commencement address was all kinds of inspiring, humble, and realistic.

You can read the whole speech here, but I’d also like to share my favorite parts a.k.a. the ones that moved me the most. You’re welcome! 🙂

Commencement

On Purpose:

“I’m here to tell you finding your purpose isn’t enough. The challenge for our generation is creating a world where everyone has a sense of purpose.”

On working together for a bigger purpose:

“Today I want to talk about three ways to create a world where everyone has a sense of purpose: by taking on big meaningful projects together, by redefining equality so everyone has the freedom to pursue purpose, and by building community across the world.”

On forming ideas:

“Ideas don’t come out fully formed. They only become clear as you work on them. You just have to get started.”

On the eureka moment of good ideas:

“Movies and pop culture get this all wrong. The idea of a single eureka moment is a dangerous lie. It makes us feel inadequate since we haven’t had ours. It prevents people with seeds of good ideas from getting started.”

On balancing idealism and reality:

“It’s good to be idealistic. But be prepared to be misunderstood. Anyone working on a big vision will get called crazy, even if you end up right. Anyone working on a complex problem will get blamed for not fully understanding the challenge, even though it’s impossible to know everything upfront. Anyone taking initiative will get criticized for moving too fast, because there’s always someone who wants to slow you down.”

On the inter-connectedness of progress and purpose:

“Let’s do big things, not only to create progress, but to create purpose.”

On success and failure:

“The great successes come from having the freedom to fail.”

On the reality of inequality:

“Let’s face it. There’s something wrong with our system when I can leave here and make billions of dollars in 10 years while millions of students can’t afford to pay off their loans, let alone start a business.”

And my favorite, MarkZuck’s recognition of the role that luck played in his life:

“We all know we don’t succeed just by having a good idea or working hard. We succeed by being lucky too. If I had to support my family growing up instead of having time to code, if I didn’t know I’d be fine if Facebook didn’t work out, I wouldn’t be standing here today. If we’re honest, we all know how much luck we’ve had.”

Bangtan

BTS after their #WingsTour concert in Manila on May 7, 2017 / photo grabbed from the ~intrawebz~

It was December 2014 when my brother Vicoy saved a bunch of Korean songs in my phone and basically required me to listen to them. Hehe. I gave it a try and even though I couldn’t understand 99.87% of the words, I didn’t have the heart to delete them because 1) they were from my brother and 2) they were actually pretty catchy. Who would have thought that nearly 3 years later, these seven undeniably charming and incredibly talented boys from BTS would hold a special place in my heart? (Cheesy, but true!) My ~fangirl~ heart flutters for them all the time especially for my bias (ha! I love this newfound word), the golden maknae, Jungkook.

I mean seriously, how can you not love this kyutie? 😍

So I guess this is just an appreciation post for BTS on behalf of millions and millions of ARMYs around the world. I may be late to the party, but I am so glad I have arrived. Thank you, BTS, for giving us so much joy and for sharing your time and talent with us all.

Fan ahrt (haha) by yours truly 🙈

Saranghaeyo, Bangtan Sonyeondan. ❤

Happy mother’s day to all superheroes disguised as mothers! Just what will we do without them, right? I, for one, would be totally lost literally and figuratively. Thank you, Mommy, for everything since day 1. You are the biggest proof that there was never a day when I was not loved. Sorry for the days when I’m stubborn and self-absorbed. None of it was your fault. I love you so much, I cannot fully express it in words. You amaze me in ways that still surprise me and I’m the luckiest because you’re my Mommy.

So pretty naman this girl! ❤

Love, Actually

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Tata’s Trusty Typewriter

My grandfather just never fails to amaze me. During our last visit, he showed me a stack of papers and my heart swelled up when I saw that it was none other than the story of how he and my grandmother Nana met and fell in love. Eight pages. Handwritten in his flowy effortless cursive that I can never imitate no matter how I try. Raw draft with smudges and edits. HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE THAT. It’s such a beautiful thing that Tata channeled all his sadness and longing into writing down how he and Nana started and built a life together. If that’s not love and sweetness, I don’t know what is.

The story is not mine to share and it’s not even done yet so all I would say is that it involved a lot of guts, finding the right timing, and the undeniable and stubborn certainty that only lovers know. (Naks, did I just say lovers? Hahaha.)

I absolutely love the ending. It may be the first chapter of the chronicle of 64 years of togetherness, or it may be a standalone story of the beginning of everything. Who knows.

Here’s a glimpse of “Bakas ng Kahapon.” If I may dare translate the title, I would say it would be “Remnants of Yesterday.” … Excuse me I have to go cry for a while now.

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The thought of Tata pouring his heart out on paper is really comforting. Heart to pen to paper to heart. What a beautiful cycle.

Tagaytay with Tata

We visited my grandfather, Tata, last Good Friday and, as usual, it was a riot in his house in Amadeo. Never-ending teasing and laughter and horsing around among his children and grandchildren. I know that, deep inside, we all just want to glimpse of even the tiniest smile and hear even the slightest chuckle from Tata to somehow lessen whatever sense of sorrow and loss he still feels now that Nana is gone.

After lunch, a bunch of us played Bet Game, a very Pinoy game of cards. I just stood and watched because the game was intense and I’m not hardcore enough. Haha. Tata even joined in a round or two. All of a sudden, my uncle said we’re going to Tagaytay to treat Tata for merienda. We couldn’t all fit in the car so the gamers stayed behind and off we went to Bag of Beans where my cousin treated us to delicious food.

Here are some photos from my blogger cousin Arnie 🙂

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Daddy just had to call me right when this photo was taken. Hehe.
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Arnie and Tricia
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Tattered Jeans Club
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With our youngest cousin, Jerome, who’s an upcoming Grade 7 honor-student-for-sure. Haha. Pressure much?

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There’s our Tata!

I live practically just an hour away but it was my first time at Bag of Beans. The place was huge but it didn’t feel suffocating and somehow still retained its homey feel. There were a lot of people when we went considering it was a long weekend, but there were no queues and service was relatively quick.

In the end, we’re all very happy with the food, the ambiance, and most of all, Tata’s subtle joy.

Remembering Nana

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My beautiful grandmother, Liwayway ❤

Barely two weeks after she turned 82, my grandmother Nana passed away last March 30. Honestly, it was not completely unexpected since she’s been in the hospital since January and 90% of such time she was in the intensive care unit. She suffered a stroke shortly after the new year and it took a toll on her heart. On all our hearts, truth be told.

I’m not sure if it’s appropriate to say this, but Nana’s death was such a beautiful and profound experience. I don’t think I can fully articulate the experience, but all I know is that I was a changed person after the death, the wake, and the burial. Of course the grief and sadness was ever-present, but it was just amazing how, even in death, Nana was able to unite us all. Each family member – Nana’s children, grandchildren, extended family members, and family friends – drew strength from each other and I think we all unanimously tried to pass on that strength to Tata because no one is more affected than him. After all, they’ve spent a total of 64 years together. I am reminded of a tidbit I wrote in January:

You know how when you look at some couples, you kind of have an idea on who loves who more? That is not the case with my grandparents, Nana and Tata. They might just be the only couple I know who seems to love each other practically equally. I remember a fleeting moment I was lucky to have witnessed some time ago: Nana and Tata were sitting on their chairs as usual and out of nowhere Tata looked at Nana and just stroked her hair and swept it out of her face. It was such a small, almost unconscious gesture, but undeniably full of affection. I realized these moments are what make up a marriage; the constant evidence and fond reminders of a life built together.

Nana’s passing away made me realize that there’s no limit to how you can touch other people’s lives. So many people turned up during her wake, each with their own story of how Nana Way, as she was fondly called, was a part of their lives. A couple, family friends who have not been in speaking terms with each other for the longest time, even got back together after finding out about Nana. Even in death, Nana still touches lives and leaves a positive impact.

A few weeks before Nana passed away, their neighbor who’s a tailor approached one of my aunts and told her about how Nana has already ordered her dress for her time comes. He said Nana chose the design herself. When we saw the dress, we were astounded; it was very Nana – beautiful and regal, yet still simple and never over-the-top. Even in death, Nana never settles for anything less.

The day Nana died and when my parents and aunts did the funeral arrangements, they were surprised when the owner said Nana already arranged for how she wants things to be for her funeral. Again, we were all blown away. Even in death, Nana still took charge.

On the day of her interment, not a single eye was dry. It was a testament to how much Nana was – and is – loved by everybody around her. It was such a pain to see Tata cry so much but I will always remember how the whole family was there to support him all the while. I guess love and pain just always go hand in hand.

I couldn’t stay every night during the wake because of my early-morning work everyday. However, during the few nights I visited, I learned so much from just observing the people, especially our family. Perhaps my biggest realization was that each person copes with death in their own way and you have to respect that. You can’t impose on people on how they should deal with loss and grief. Most importantly, you can’t judge others just because their grieving phase is not the same with yours. Each one copes differently. But the important thing is each one copes. It is probably no linguistic accident that the word “cope” is just a letter away from “hope.” Even in death, Nana teaches us life lessons.