25

I can’t believe I used to think 25 is old and it just makes me laugh that there was a time when I thought I’d get married at 25. I turned 25 yesterday and I must say it feels a bit weird to be in this age and still be as go-with-the-flow as I am. It’s a bit complicated and I’m not in the mood for some existential discourse right now; I just want to chronicle how I spent my silver birthday hehe.

I woke up to a happy birthday song from Daddy, Mommy and Vicoy and was surprised when they showered me with gifts, each one competing on which gift I liked best. I felt so loved!

Fresh from sleep birthday girl!

I treated the family to lunch at SumoSam because Japanese food is my favorite hehe.

The crew sang a birthday song for me and gave me free ice cream. It was strawberry cheesecake flavor and Vicoy and I took turns eating it.

My brother and I absolutely love the Korean group BTS and here we are channeling our inner V.

We booked an overnight stay at a nearby hotel and we were all excited because it’s our first time to try this staycation thingy. It was definitely a fun, hilarious, and almost ridiculous experience. A weekend of carefree joy and relaxation, indeed.

Vicoy is so into the K-pop look, hence the eyeliner. Or as he called it, guy-liner.

After we got settled in the room, we decided to walk around the hotel.

We love beanies!

After walking around, we went back to the room for some beer and a game of Uno cards.

Okay that’s supposed to be 25, not 52 😅

We had poolside barbecue buffet for dinner. The air was a bit cold, the kind that reminds you of Christmas. We teased each other endlessly and filled our tummies.

I fell in love with the Japanese drama Pride in August after my friend recommended it to me. She even gave me this hockey jersey from Pride!

After dinner, it was time to blow the birthday cake. Every year, my only wish to my parents is to have as many birthday cake candles as my new age. Hehe. It’s just one of my tiny quirks.

It took three of us to light all those candles. We were in a hurry because we were worried the fire detector might get triggered with 25 burning candles. Hehe. Thankfully it didn’t.

After the birthday cake ceremony (haha), we went to the hotel bar to watch the live band.

It was also where we accidentally got this magic shot that I absolutely love because it looks a bit like one of Jungkook’s photos from the BTS’ Love Yourself album. Please see below. Hahaha.

I sent these pictures to my very good friend Red (who also super loves BTS) and told her I just couldn’t resist it. Hehe. She said mine was just a low-budget version. Which of course it was. Haha.

I went to sleep past midnight feeling loved, happy, and eternally grateful to God for 25 years and counting.

The next day, the first order of business was the breakfast buffet. Hehe. Bacon 4lyf.

Day 2 of being 25. Day 5 of my pimple, though.

They took a nap after breakfast and I read my current novel, Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend by Robert James Waller, the same author of the classic The Bridges of Madison County.

We couldn’t leave the place without taking a dip in the pool so after their nap, we went down to the pool area.

Embarrassing fact: I don’t know how to swim. I know, poor me.

We obviously liked their cute towels. Hehe.

We ate cake and chips in the room for lunch and then it was time to pack up and check out. I love this chill birthday. When we got home, we all unpacked the  went to our own beds for some siesta time. Hehe. You know Sundays are not complete without naps!

When I woke up, I fixed my bed, read a little, and then went to church.

And now here I am smiling to myself and remembering the lovely weekend I had with the people I love most, and feeling optimtic about this new age of mine. It’s only been two days but so far, si good! ❤

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Dear Me

I just finished reading my 24th book for 2017. Dear Me: A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self was such a fun and bittersweet read. It made me realize that adolescence is such a universal phenomenon but also unique to each one.  

Here are some of the most common advice shared by writers to their teenage self:

  1. Trust your intuition.
  2. Dream hard, work hard.
  3. It doesn’t feel like it, but things will turn out okay.
  4. Stay away from sugar.

I’m turning a year older in four days and if I were to give an advice to my 16-year-old self, it would be:

Be bold. Don’t be afraid to take risks and put yourself out there. 

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.