Phantom Quakes and PTSD

“While the building was swaying and the ground was shaking, God remained the steady figure I could hold on to.”

It’s been twelve days since the 6.1 magnitude earthquake that shook Central Luzon. I shared the story in my previous post, Shaken. This time, I will be sharing what I have been experiencing the past couple of days.

I have always had a fear of shaky rides and shaky ground. That is why I am not overly fond of theme parks and their rides. During field trips when I was young, I hated it so much when we had to walk on hanging bridges. Turbulent flights scare the hell out of me and the slightest shake of the plane would cause me to hold on to the armrest of my seat while I try to calm myself. From time to time, I would do something unusual like hopping on a zip line or riding the cable cars like I did in Ngong Ping and in Ocean Park. I thought of them as attempts to get rid of my fear of anything unstable. I never realized how bad the phobia actually was until last month’s earthquake happened.

After having gone home the night of the earthquake, I was in my bed and I was watching videos on my phone when I suddenly felt something push my bed. I almost dropped my phone in the process. It turned out that a 4.4 magnitude earthquake happened in Bataan, a place around 50 km to 60km away from Manila. I didn’t sleep well that night.

I came to work the following day, seemingly okay. In my head though, I was already making plans on what our emergency bag should contain and what else will I need to get in case another earthquake happened. I was working just fine, completing tasks one after the other. Deep inside though, I was still scared. The 6.1 magnitude earthquake had its epicenter at around 67km away from Manila. I told myself it was not at all that bad compared to places near the epicenter. I felt guilty for being too scared and judged myself as overreacting. I could not understand why I was feeling that way.

Was it because for around five years now, we have been warned about the possibility of a major earthquake from the West Valley Fault that can damage the whole capital region and the recent earthquake gave us a tiny taste of a strong earthquake? We’ve felt earthquakes in the past here in Manila, but I don’t think there was anything as bad as the recent one.

In the past few days, it would take six to seven hours for me to finally fall asleep. I had migraine-like headaches and would feel as if the room is shaking every now and then. When I felt any sort of shaking, I would immediately check my phone for alerts sent by Phivolcs, trying to confirm if there was indeed an earthquake that just happened. I would suddenly feel dizzy and a little disoriented for a couple of minutes.

Phantom quake. I was experiencing a feeling like there was an earthquake even if there was not any. From what I have read on the internet, I am not the only one experiencing it. It would come when I am at work, it would come at night when I am in bed. I would feel as if the world was shaking, but it was only me. My mind was playing tricks on me.

I don’t think my productivity at work has been greatly affected, but I haven’t been able to go to my yoga classes anymore. My blood pressure is a little bit elevated, which probably explains the dizzy spells. Thankfully, except for the intermittent feeling of the room shaking, I can say I am fine.

Gradually, my sleep pattern is returning to normal. I still have difficulty falling asleep, but at least when I manage to, I don’t feel half-awake anymore. I still feel tremors from time to time, but knowing that it’s all in my head, I do not reach out anymore for my phone to check for earthquake alerts and posts over Twitter. I manage to calm myself more quickly now. Unless another earthquake happens so soon, I am pretty sure I’m on my way to getting over the whole thing already.

I also just want to say to those experiencing phantom quakes or PTSD that it’s okay to feel that way. We react to situations differently and even if the people around you do not appear as scared or shaken as you, it’s okay to feel that way. What is important is we acknowledge our feelings and we try to go back to feeling normal again at the phase we’re comfortable with. It’s okay to express our fear to our friends and family so they can help us feel that we’re in a safe environment.

Most importantly, pray. While the building was swaying to the shake of the ground, God remained the steady figure that I could hold on to. At the time of the earthquake, I managed to send Mom a message, asking her to pray for us (by that I meant everyone affected by the earthquake, including her). I told my sister the same thing, but she was unfortunately on a plane to Hong Kong from Korea at that time. It’s true that when all else fails, it’s only God that remains. That’s how powerful the Lord is.

Advertisements

Shaken

“An earthquake achieves what the law promises but does not in practice maintain,” one of the survivors wrote. “The equality of all men”.” ― Sebastian Junger, Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging

Close to seven hours ago, I was minding my business at work when I felt a jolt. I thought I was just dizzy, but some colleagues starting to look at one another. Then there was another jolt. Someone instructed, “duck, cover and hold.” I hid under my desk.

I am no stranger to earthquakes, but that minute or two of shaking was the scariest and closest I’ve been to an actual disaster. The building was swaying, the blinds were repeatedly violently slapping against the windows. I could hear officemates praying out loud for the shaking to stop.

It was the strongest earthquake I’ve felt my entire life and all I could think of for the first few seconds was my Mom. She was a city away and I knew she was feeling it too. I sent her a message telling her to pray for us, just as I was. Then, I texted my sister, who was boarding a flight from Korea to Hong Kong, to pray for us because the earthquake was strong. They were all I could think of at that moment.

After the shaking, we were waiting for the go signal to go down the emergency exits. You see, our company wishes to ensure that before letting us out, where we will pass is safe too. It took a couple of minutes to go down from the 25th floor via stairs. My knees were shaking by the time I reached the ground floor. Then, we headed to the closest open area.

It took a couple more minutes before we heard anything from the news. A magnitude 6.1 earthquake hit a place that was 67kms away from Manila, a city only a few kilometers from us. If that was how strongly the earthquake was felt in Manila, I could not imagine how much worse the experience was for those who lived closer to the epicenter. News reports about shaken buildings, toppled commercial buildings’ water tanks, and ruined airport soon surfaced. What we experienced was milder than most.

I thank God for keeping us safe. I guess it’s really important to be actually present in our lives and not just watch each day go by. We need to tell our loved ones that we treasure them and to let them feel it. We need to be kinder to one another because you never know who will come to your aid at the time of need. We need to take care of ourselves so we can help other people, not only those who are close to us. We also need to learn how to share, whether material stuff or not.

Be safe, everyone. I pray for all of us.

28

I am still not sure what my purpose in this world is. All I hope for is to have been the reason someone smiled wider, laughed louder, cried less, loved deeper, felt braver, stood stronger, and dreamed bigger.

May I be more patient, more forgiving, more understanding, more loving, more generous, and more gracious to everyone.

May I be more comfortable in my own skin, more balanced in my emotions, more focused on my goals, more attentive to my needs, and more accepting of my flaws.

May I be more optimistic about my future, more proud of my strengths, more appreciative of my blessings, and more kind towards myself.

May I always be a blessing to others in need, a source of hope for the disheartened, a voice of reason to the confused, and a shoulder to cry on for the lonely.

May I be a gift to the world in ways even I cannot imagine.

Twenty-eight years down, many more to go.

Planners and Schedules

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I was never the type who planned everything. I was not the type of person who had her life all planned out with targets of when to get married, have kids, and be famous all over the world. I was more of the go-with-the-flow type even if I was not excited about where life was bringing me from time to time. That is why, every time I get asked what my plan was for the next five or ten years, I take so long to reply.

While I am proud of my flexibility and resiliency, I have to admit that making plans is a good thing because it helps one reach his or her goals. I will need to be better at planning if I want to reach high in life, so to practice, I started with getting a weekly planner and  Starbucks planner.

img_0531

What’s the deal with the Starbucks planner, you may ask. Well, every Christmas season in the Philippines, Starbucks and other big coffee shop brands promote their brands by giving you stickers to collect and eventually exchange for planners. Starbucks is the most notorious and might actually been the one that started the planner craze among coffee shop brands in the Philippines.

I never joined in on the bandwagon in the past. I always gave my stickers away to someone I knew was collecting. Other times, I will allow other people to treat me to Starbucks just so they can speed up their sticker collection process. When I felt generous, I would treat friends to coffee and let them have the stickers. It was only last year that I decided to collect for myself.

This year, I had to purchase eighteen drinks in total. When I celebrated my first year anniversary with my current employer, I got six tickets from treating my teammates. For the twelve others, I randomly treated other people for no reason. I admit, I sometimes made people feel that they were helping me get the planner by letting me treat them (because there was no way I will ask them to buy a drink for themselves and give me the sticker knowing they are also collecting). I think I spent almost PHP 3,500 or around USD 80 for that freaking planner.

img_0534You see, getting the planner was already a goal in itself. Despite how trivial the goal appears, it was a practice for me on working towards a goal I have made for myself not because it aligns with anybody else’s goals, but simply because I just wanted it.

The next challenge for me is to make sure I use the planner. Often, my planners in the past (bought and not obtained from promotions) ended up like diaries or journals instead of a true planner. Almost all were not used anymore after March. I am desperately trying not to be the same this year.

img_0476For work, I also got myself a weekly planner for my different activities throughout the day. It helped me tremendously during the last quarter of the year when we were so busy. However, I have to admit that there were multiple times that I adjusted my to-do list because I was again, trying to be flexible. I need to learn how to be better at prioritization and workload balancing.

I am also thinking of doubling this weekly planner as a mood tracker. I am still unsure whether to get emoji stickers or to just draw. I think the stickers will look more attractive.

My goal this year is to be a Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA). It’s been years since I last studied for an exam, so I am really struggling with reviving my study habits (whatever little I had as a student). Not only do I have to study, I also have to improve my budgeting skills so I can pay for review materials and the exam itself. I already started with motivating myself by changing my phone’s wallpaper to a reminder of my goal.

Here’s to the hope that becoming CISA will be a goal achieved instead of merely being a wish.

img_0533

The Hang

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.” –Tao Te Ching

It’s been a while since I last whipped out my tarot cards. Having slept all day and unable to sleep tonight, I decided to kill my boredom by doing a reading. I opted to pick one card from my deck with the intention for the card to tell me something I needed to understand.

I drew out The Hanged Man.

img_0455.jpg

Looking at the card, the first thing I noticed was how chill the guy was despite hanging by a foot from a tree. His other leg was bent and his arms were behind his back. It’s like he’s on vacation! His situation was not worrying him it seems. Also, because he was hanging by a foot, I would have expected for gravity to have stronger pull on him. So why was he still so relaxed and at peace despite the predicament he is in?

From my intuition and research, The Hanged Man card can be said to signify letting go and surrendering to “what is.” Hanging upside down can mean looking at things differently as well.

Let it go. I have heard it a lot the past few days. I didn’t like myself these past few days to be honest.

In yoga

I learned how to flip my downward dog already. I managed to make a split with my right leg forward. Yet, I still cannot manage Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose) no matter how I tried.

My belly keeps dropping first, my shoulders collapse, and everything else always goes wrong when I attempt it. So, I asked for the teacher’s guidance on how to do it. At home, I watched YouTube videos on how to do it. Yet, no matter how hard I tried, my elbows won’t bend when I try to move from high plank to low plank. Then, I collapse on my mat.

Rina, my work colleague who inspired me to try yoga again, is very encouraging. She keeps on telling me not to rush myself and to not be ashamed of going for modified poses when I cannot do the main ones yet. But, stubborn me and my pride won’t let it go. So, despite my sore muscles, I kept trying and trying to do it at home.

Long story short, I now have very sore shoulders that hurt every time I raise my arms. I pushed myself too hard beyond my limit. All because I couldn’t accept that I am not yet strong enough to pull of the move.

In my relationships

I do not understand why I still keep on reaching out to people I want to avoid. They make me feel like crap, but I still approach them anyway, trying to see any sliver of hope that I can make the relationship work.

There’s someone I haven’t seen in a long time but I refuse to go out and see this person. Why? I am mightily scared of this person because of a long history of unhappy experiences. Yet, I am pissed at myself because I still care even if it’s just a little bit.

So, I sent this person gifts for Christmas through a courier. I did not hear anything although this person received the package. Don’t get me wrong. I was not expecting to hear this person’s gratitude or to receive gifts in return. Any reaction was highly acceptable. I just needed assurance that this person is still alive and kicking.

I told my friend, Alex, about it. I told him I felt like crap because I made a conscious decision to stay away from that person at all costs, yet I reach out and hope for a reaction. I am so messed up.

Alex told me to let it go. He’s right. But all I could think of doing was replying with a GIF of Channing Tatum in Elsa’s costume, singing “Let It Go.”

In my faith

I was talking to my work colleague, Hanna, about my recent attempts to attend the church services of this born-again Christian group. I opened up to her about my Catholic upbringing and my lack of the habit to go to church every Sunday to hear mass. I shared with her my reasons for looking into attending church service outside my Catholic religion.

While we were on the topic, I also admitted to her how everything still feels different for me. One of the things that feel so foreign to me is seeing people sing with their arms raised up and their eyes closed. I told her how much I wondered how profound those people’s experiences are of God that they could do that without fear of judgment. I bet that if I were to do that, I will feel mightily embarrassed. Don’t get me wrong. I am faithful; just not showy.

Hanna replied that she was told by someone that being able to do that means you have been freed of the shackles around your wrists (metaphorically). I guess that by being free from those chains, one becomes less inhibited to display their faith that way.

Back to the card

If were the one hanging by a foot, I bet I would have been in a panic while trying to grab on to the branch to free myself. I doubt I’ll be able to do that given my weak core muscles though. But, you get the point. I could never be as chill as that guy in the card.

I have a bad habit of holding close everything that is dear to me. Letting go has not been my biggest skill even if I preach it to other people. So, it’s good to be reminded of what I need to practice on.

 

Back to blogging

I am finally back! Yes!!! The last three months at work were so busy that I did not have that much energy for my blog. At least I was able to write a thing or two every now and then.

Despite my failure to post regularly about my baking adventures, I did whip up a few treats during my absence.

Cakes in tin cans are kind of the trend in the Philippines lately. It’s the lazy baker’s perfect solution for not having be very artistic about cake decoration because you only have to worry about the top part. It’s also a convenient way to give cakes as a gift without worrying about how to transport them because tin cans are more sturdy and less accident-prone than your usual cake box.

For my share of hopping on the trend, I made carrot walnut cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting.

This is my first time to ever make carrot cake with frosting and I fell madly in love with the cinnamon cream cheese frosting recipe by Nancy of https://www.twosisterscrafting.com. I did adjust my ratio by using less powdered sugar because I do not like very sweet frosting. I only used 2 and 3/4 cups compared to her required 4 cups. Since I was not going to pipe it on the cake, I still had a pretty decent consistency for spreading on top of my carrot cake. Topped with royal icing carrot decorations and chopped walnuts, you’re good to go!

carrot
I still badly need to improve my decorating skills.

cookiesI made tons of cookies for Christmas. Someone ordered 200 cookies to give away as gifts. I also made hundreds to give to my colleagues.

If I learned anything about cookies, it’s that no matter how consistent I try to be with temperature and baking time, each batch comes out differently. Some will come out thick and puffy while some batches will come out think and nicely spread out.

I guess people are the same way. We react differently to situations because we bring with us different points of view and we were all raised differently.

I also finally got to make brownies! Rich, chocolaty, fudgy brownies! Thank heavens for the recipe from Tasty.  I was skeptical at first when I watched the video because I wasn’t sure if the goo truly was from the chocolate chunks or if it was due to underbaking. I chose to trust the recipe and it didn’t fail me!

brownies

I brought some to work and sure enough, there were colleagues who went for seconds! Two recipes gave me around 35 pieces of these squares.

Baking aside, I also got to hop on the plane again. This time, we went to Cebu because my uncle is having a house built there. Mom had to check on the progress so she can report to her brother.

I terribly missed Cebu! The last time I was there was exactly two years ago. It has not changed much but my Cebuano language skills has gone way too rusty so I still felt like the place was very foreign.

We went to my Mom’s half cousin’s vacation house before we left for Manila. I terribly missed that house and uncle’s jetski, haha. Too bad though because there was a very low tide that day so riding the jetski was not going to be a great idea. To pass time, I just took pictures of the flowers in auntie’s huge garden.

My sister came home a week before Christmas. With her was her Korean boyfriend. I was sad that my work schedule (3PM to 12MN) did not allow me much time to hang out with them. I actually spent time with them on the day they were going to leave and go back to Hong Kong. Guess I’ll just have to visit Hong Kong soon to spend time with my sister.

Anyway, as usual, every time my sister and I see each other, I get tons of hand-me-downs and also new gifts. For one, she gave me her old iPad (she got herself a new one) and brought with her the Pooh plush toy I asked her to get me from Disneyland!

Christmas and New Year were pretty much uneventful for me. If there was anything I did, it was to sleep a lot and reserve energy for our Q4 sign-off at work. I am so glad it’s over now.

Please stay tuned on my next adventures this year. Hopefully, there will be more travels to write about.

My 2018 Review

“Life is an onion – you peel it year by year and sometimes cry.” ― Carl Sandburg, Remembrance Rock

It’s the last day of the year today. I still haven’t decided how to feel about this year. To be honest, it feels like 2018 happened so quickly that I am trying to figure out what happened in between. I was thinking that maybe, by writing this post, I can go back to the days of 2018 and see how it was for me.

10153286777670923

At the beginning of the year, I was just one month into my new job. The people were great, the job was challenging in an awesome way, and I felt grounded. I felt a sense of permanency that I haven’t felt in a while. Not having to travel far from home for work meant I did not have to put plans on hold to check whether there was going to be an out-of-town assignment or not. That meant that I had complete control over my schedule which meant a whole year’s worth of weekends to do anything I wanted to do.

Having so much time in my hands, I spent a lot of it learning new things. I started by making soap using melt-and-pour bases. I had so much fun concocting soaps, most of which were used at home or given away. It was therapeutic, watching soap bases melt and harden again, this time, scented with essential oils and decorated with dyes and whatever I could find in my kitchen.

I attended a workshop on how to make simple sandals and had a blast making footwear for myself. The sandals I made were eventually used when I sprained my ankle because they were the only comfy footwear that did not hurt my foot more than it needed. In the process of healing, I also learned about epsom salt and made tons of foot soaks for myself.

My inner warrior showed itself when I attempted archery for the first time. Now, this isn’t the type where you have a viewer to help you hit the target. This was traditional archery where you have to rely on your instincts. Oh, and I popped a balloon target while at it *wink*.

I was big on workshops this year. I attended one that was about caging crystals and making accessories! Despite not being a fan of jewelries and trinkets, I truly enjoyed the hobby so much that I bought my own tools and materials to make myself lots of baubles! On days when negative thoughts in my head would not let me sleep, I turned to my stones and wires to help me quiet my thoughts. They helped me a lot, to be honest.

I don’t wear my creations so much anymore. I guess I never was the type to wear accessories. I would still like to make trinkets one of these days to gift to friends.

Still on workshops, I attended two about tarot reading. Oh yeah! Being someone who enjoyed reading about witchcraft (the Harry Potter type only) and oracles, I was truly excited about tarot cards. I mean, it’s like getting you the answers you already know deep inside but cannot put a finger on.

These stuff, astrology and other forms of fortune-telling intrigue me. I don’t believe anyone can ever know what will happen in the future but you got to admit, these stuff are fun!

In the kitchen, I still suck at cooking. This year though, I established quite a relationship with my electric oven by making treats, most of which I only made for the first time. I learned how to make bread and I finally got to make corn muffins which I have dreamed of making since I was a little girl. Oh, don’t forget the cream puffs!

I also started bringing my baked stuff to work for my colleagues to try. I started with just my team but eventually allowed people from other teams to try what I bake. I think it’s my way of saying that I have completely opened up myself to them. You see, I only bake for people I have come to care about. By bringing my baked goods to work, I basically opened the door fully for them to be in my life.

I still have not decided whether to make baking a sideline to earn more money. For me, baking is something very personal and must be made with love. To bake batches and batches of cakes and cookies for people I have no connection or any established relationship with is a very alien idea to me. Still, I am not shutting the idea down.

There was not much travel this year unlike in 2017. Still, I managed to go to Hong Kong twice and got to visit Pampanga and Cebu.

I miss flying. To be honest, I did not want to have a desk job while I was growing up. It felt like it was going to bore me to death. So, in this new job, I have to admit missing the hustle and the bustle of the airport. I missed the excitement of going to unfamiliar places to meet people I only knew through their names on the company’s database. I missed the side trips on weekends like swimming with turtles or hopping on a zip line! I also learned to appreciate travel so much more now that I have to pay for my travels.

img_8972

Despite that, this new job made me feel grounded. It has given me a sense of permanency that my heart longed for after it has gotten weary of the constant packing of the suitcase and catching flights across the country. From 2016 to 2017, the house we’re renting felt so unfamiliar to me; so unfamiliar that it felt like the hotel rooms we stay in when out-of-town. I am much more at home with the place now. I bet that if I stayed at my previous job, I would still feel like a nomad.

I truly love Hong Kong! While I do not wish to live there, going there to visit my sister meant mini adventures that I always look forward to. There was so many firsts for me in Hong Kong like riding a cable car and going near a cow. I also experienced riding the tram and sitting at the upper deck of their double-decker bus. I enjoyed doing not-so-touristy-and-more-residently type of things there like going to the grocery or watching a movie.

Locally, I only managed to go to Pampanga and Cebu. Still, both trips were worth it because I got to spend time with friends and with relatives.

Speaking of friends, I am so glad that friends I have made from my previous work continue to be friends to this day. In fact, they still invite me to some of their events! I miss them a lot to be honest. That is why I treasure moments I get to spend with them because they have proven to be real friends through thick and thin.

I am also blessed with awesome colleagues at my new work. They make working so much more fun despite the workload and difficult conversations we have to make throughout the year. I am fortunate to be working with people who keep me motivated to do my best at all times regardless if it’s operations-related or not.

img_0029

When it comes to health and fitness, I went back to yoga this year. I admit I had to stop for a bit because of some complications due to my sprain earlier this year and heavy workload. I plan to be more consistent in 2019 because I enjoyed yoga so much. Not only was it good for my physical health, it was also good for my mental health as it allowed me to know myself in ways only yoga can allow me to.

Career-wise, there were a lot of changes that happened to our team that allowed me to show what I got. I celebrated my first anniversary with my current employer early this month and I realize that in a span of one year, I went through so many phases of personal and professional growth because of all the changes and challenges that the team had to face. That is why, even if it’s basically a desk job and is a tad bit routinary, I am far from being bored. There’s just always so much to learn, so much to discover and so much to contribute. That motivates me to go to work everyday, albeit some days can be draining and exhausting too.

woman wearing grey long sleeved top photography
Photo by Artem Bali on Pexels.com

When it comes to faith, I recently started going to service, although with a different church. It’s not a Catholic one which I grew up in. I still fail to go consistently, maybe because going to church was not something my parents made sure to make a habit for me and my sister. Still, when I manage to go, I always leave with answers and more questions.

More questions. Yep. This year had me going through lots of introspection and reflection, not only about faith, but about life too, in general. This is the year I really questioned my purpose and the reason for my existence, not so much because I was being emotional, but because of a true need to figure out where I am headed.

Yesterday Rizal day. Jose Rizal, our unofficial national hero, once said “Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinangalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan.” What he means is that a person who does not know how to look back cannot reach his destination. I believe that looking back allows us to see where were got it right and where we need to improve. I look back at 2018 filled with gratitude for everything it has taught me about myself and about life. This year was all about growth for me.

I am excited to see what 2019 has in-store for me. I hope it will be a good year for everyone. With that, I wish you all a Happy New Year!

bright celebration christmas color
Photo by Martin Hauenstein on Pexels.com

Perks of Having a More Successful Older Sibling

“Sister is probably the most competitive relationship within the family, but once the sisters are grown, it becomes the strongest relationship.” –Margaret Mead 

They say the youngest child is the luckiest child in a family. I am not sure I can say that with the deepest conviction. Maybe it’s because in our family, there’s only my elder sister and me. That makes me the “younger” child and not the “youngest.” That does not make me the middle child either so I do not think I have the right to say I feel the sufferings of a middle child. Let’s just settle on being the last kid.

Growing up, I always felt like I was my sister’s shadow. It was like my whole being was attached to my sister’s. As a kid, I remember Mom buying two sets of the same clothes (some exactly the same or some in the same style but in a different color) for me and my sister to wear. Lots of people thought we were twins with my sister having the advantage of being the taller one. That was when our sizes were not too far apart yet because when my sister eventually grew at a much faster rate, we stopped wearing similar clothing. That is, she got to wear new clothes while I wore her old ones.

Hand-me-downs. When I was younger, I really felt bad about always having to use stuff my sister outgrew or got bored with already. I felt so undeserving of being spent on. It wasn’t until I started working that I truly learned the value of money and learned to see the positive side of hand-me-downs.

I recently went to Hong Kong and my sister wanted to buy a new Fitbit watch. She wanted the one that had a heart rate monitor because her Fitbit Alta did not have that feature. Guess who goes back to Manila with a Fitbit on her wrist? Uh-huh. You guessed it!

I remember all the other stuff that I my sister passed on to me every time she bought a newer version or model for herself. The first was her iPhone 4s, then the iPhone 5c in that bright pink color, then her iPhone 5s. Yeah, my sister is quite the Apple fan. I’m waiting for her to buy herself a new Macbook laptop so I can get my hands on her Macbook Air that she bought several years ago.

Being given hand-me-downs meant not having to buy expensive stuff for myself. Since I was not so particular about always having the latest model of phones, I was contented with her hand-me-downs even if that meant having the phone on life support (frequent plugging to the power bank) a year later. I used to be pissed about using stuff she already used but these days, when she asks me if I would like one of her old stuff because she’s planning on getting herself a new one, I highly encourage her to make the new purchase. I dare not question her choices at all (insert an rotfl emoji here).

Oh how things and priorities change when you reach adulthood…img_9159

To Grandpa With Love

Dear Abuelito,

Last Friday, you would have celebrated your 107th birthday. I wonder if you celebrate birthdays in heaven.

I do not have much memories with you. Mom did say you used to pass by the house and visit me as a baby. Turns out, you still drove a car at 80. I feel so good about knowing you used to spend time just to look at me sleep. I wonder if you carried me a lot because I happened to love being carried as a baby and as a toddler.

I do have a picture of you holding me. I looked so small in the arms that had fought battles and wrote books and letters fighting for war veterans. I will not sugarcoat things. You have had blood on your hands, fighting for the land and for the people you have sworn to protect with your life. But, look at how gentle your hands and arms were as you carried me. I guess even the mightiest heroes have gentleness in them too.

I remember visiting you in Fort Bonifacio from time to time. You were this huge man who, even at over 80, still demanded respect when he stood. Eventually though, you were always in bed. How many times were you in and out of the hospital? Ah. Even the strongest fall. But, I wish you were stronger for a little longer.

The last memory I had of you, I accidentally stepped on your swollen toes when I went near you to kiss you. You cried out of pain and I ran a high fever afterwards because of fright. I still regret being clumsy to this day. I would have wanted a much nicer last memory with you. But, you showed me how strong you roared. I wonder how much stronger you did when you were in the battlefield and barking orders. I guess you can take a soldier out of a war, but you can’t take the soldier out of the man.

Let’s admit it, Abuelito. You are no perfect man. You left a lot of broken hearts in your trail and Abuelita’s was one of them. I never really understood that side of you. I never ever will. Sometimes, I wish I could ask you why you were the way you were.

Despite your flaws, I always looked for parts of me that mirrored parts of you. That’s how much I looked up to you. I find that I have your nose and your left dimple. Maybe the shape of your face too and the wide forehead. But, that’s pretty much it. It’s my sister who got the twinkle in your eyes–the one I have always wished I got as well.

Mom said you were a little knock-kneed like me and that we walked the same. If you only knew how much I got teased in school for that. But, it’s okay. I eventually learned to accept parts of me that I was born with and could not do anything about. I am sure the way you walked just added to your charm. I just hope your knees did not give you a difficult time during the war though.

Mom also said I got my generosity from you, recalling that your house was like an extension of the Department of Social Welfare and Development. There were those who paid for your legal services in the form of animals and food. And along the way, you made some really good friends. One of them even had the marble cross for your grave made just for you.

I was told that when soldiers retire, they get promoted one level. You retired as a general but wanted your cross to bear colonel instead. Mom said it’s because you believe that you did so much more as a colonel. Your humility made me respect you even more.

I really wish you got to stick around for much longer. I would have loved having a grandpa. I lost the other one when I was five. I lost you when I was eight. I missed out on a lot.

I would have loved showing you all of my accomplishments and showering you with hugs. I would have loved listening to your stories, regardless if they were about the war you fought in or your battles in court. I would have loved you so much.

I wish I were as courageous as you. I wish I could demand even only a tenth of the respect you could when you were alive. Your strong personality seems to have all gone to my sister. Hahaha…

I miss you so much, Abuelito. You have not visited me in my dreams for a while now. I hope you’re still watching over us.

One day, I will see you again. I hope not too soon though because I still have a lot of things I want to do. But, when that day comes, you and I will have an awfully good time.

Hugs and kisses,

Monique

Perfect Timing

Life operates not on our timing. It operates on God’s. What may seem like a denial might actually just be a delay. So, be patient and keep the faith.

August 7th, Tuesday. I had a 12 PM yoga class to attend and by 11:25 AM, I was still far from the studio, there being heavy traffic. It wasn’t raining when I left my house but midway through my trip, the sky started being covered with heavy, gray clouds. I started worrying then that I was not going to get to class on time.

A few minutes more, heavy rain started pouring. I was already thinking where to be dropped off so I won’t be soaking wet and damage my new yoga mat in the process. You see, to get to my drop-off point, the driver will have to take a long road and find a U-turn slot. If it weren’t raining, I could have just gotten down at the bank across the yoga studio and cross the street.

I started praying so hard for the rain to stop to allow me to get inside the studio without much fuss. The driver gladly offered to take another route so he can drop me at the entrance. As we neared the usual route to the studio, the rain poured even more heavily. I started feeling annoyed and was already thinking of how not to get my gym bag and yoga mat soaked because I only had a small foldable umbrella with me.

After the traffic light turned green, the driver drove past the street he was supposed to turn left to in order to find a way to not have to take the very long U-turn I was talking about. I had my umbrella out already. But, in a matter one minute, just in time for me to get out of the car, the rain stopped. From heavy downpour to nothing in an instant. Not even a drizzle!

I felt so ashamed that I got pissed off thinking my prayer wasn’t answered just because the rain did not stop at the exact moment I wanted it to. I did not realize that there was still time to allow the rain to pour before I had to go down the car. I felt like a brat who threw a tantrum for nothing because I really was pissed!

I was also humbled by that experience. From time to time I still insist on what timing I want, forgetting all the other times God amazed me with how perfect His timing was. He knows when to give what we want or when not to give it at all because it isn’t what we need.

Acts 1:7  He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.