Monday, December 31, 2012

The Best Kind

Watching a pixie-haired Dakota Fanning slowly die of leukemia in Now Is Good, I realized how I'm inclined to like books and movies that feature hopeless romances, dysfunctional lovers, and death. For some weird reason, I find beauty in pain and lacrimation. I've watched Celine and Jesse spend a perfect day together, knowing they will have to part in the end. I've read about A and Rhiannon's painfully unconventional love story that does not end as planned. And to be perfectly honest, the only books by John Green that I've truly enjoyed are the ones where one of the protagonists die. I don't know what to make of this realization, but I bet there's more to it than just my sick obsession for emotional turmoil.

After giving it some thought, I've come to conclude that my affinity for their unfortunate circumstance might be due to the fact that they feel more "real" than others. As Augustus Waters would put it, life is not a wish-granting factory. In real life, nobody has it easy, and everyone ends up dead. This explains why even as much as I love fairy tales, I find some books and movies with happy endings to be off-putting. When the pretty white girl conveniently gets her way and lives happily ever after with the unbelievably hot guy, I find myself rolling my eyes. I prefer watching a perfect match not end up with each other, or a clever young girl fall for an emotionally disturbed fella. Something about their hopelessness is just so beautiful. I don't know what that says about me, but I do think that the best stories are the ones that hurt. The ones that cause you pain because you know there was something so beautiful that didn't last—not because they didn't want to, but because it just wasn't meant to.

“My dear," Rose said, "you might be surprised at how much happiness you can find in the pages of the shortest love stories."

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Franstar Takes On The World (Part 1)

Finally, some free time to catch up on some blogging! This one right here's long overdue, and has been sitting in my Drafts since the day I got back. (I'm a pro at procrastinating). Still, allow me to share the tale of my 2-month old adventure.

For the benefit of the uninformed, I recently went on my very first international adventure. Destination? Bangkok, Thailand.

Our adventure began on the last Friday of October. After having my flight delayed for 2 hours, I met up with my friend Sean at Suvarnabhumi airport. He had a good head start with our Bangkok adventure as he arrived about 20 hours earlier. When we met at Starbucks, he had already explored a little of the city, went to two Fitness First branches to work out, and sampled the world famous Thai street food! I had some catching up to do and I couldn't wait. As we made our way to our friend and host Mar's place, we were astounded by the vastness of the city. It was definitely not what I had expected. The scenes from movies I've seen didn't do justice in showcasing how modern and progressive the city really is.

When we reached our stop, we found ourselves in awe of the Bangkok high life. Luxurious malls and expensive hotels lined the street, and the people were dressed quite fashionably. With high-end boutiques such as Gucci and Alexander McQueen, it's easy to see why most locals consider Chit Lom to be an "expensive place", and even easier for my Captain America shirt to feel out of place.

Waiting for the train to Chit Lom.
After getting a little lost, we finally reached Mar's place 2 hours and 30 minutes later than originally planned. It didn't matter though, because the moment we stepped in his room, the crazy weekend had then begun. On our first night, we had dinner and beer in a quaint little pub called Mokka, took a walk around the city (passing by some bizarre places I dare not mention), and crashed a classy hotel playroom! And like I said, that was just the beginning.

The playroom at Pullman Hotel G.
The next day was dedicated solely for touristy stuff. We started with lunch at Siam Paragon, snatched up some free samples in the supermarket and had dessert in a little cafe called After You, where we tried the famous Shibuya Honey Toast. Let me tell you, that dessert was so unexpectedly good! Vanilla ice cream on toast with whipped cream on the side, drizzled with honey: yum!

After You's Shibuya Honey Toast.
After dessert, the boys and I went shopping at H&M before checking out the vintage shops at Siam Square. They say Siam Square is where the cool kids hang out, so naturally we had to go there. Y'know, since we're cool. Haha!

While walking along the area I noticed how different Bangkok's street fashion is. Unlike the Cebuanos' laid-back dress code, the Thais (or at least the ones I've seen) opt for something more...dapper. The trusty shirt-short-and-flip-flops combo may not work for a quick stroll in the mall.

Mar doing the Gangnam Style while trying on clothes at H&M.
The vintage shops at Siam Square.
Keeping it fresh before heading out to see the temples.
After a quick tour of the metro, we then headed out to see the temples which are some of Bangkok's major tourist attractions. However, due to our tight schedule, we decided to visit only two: Wat Pho and Wat Arun. As expected, the temples were packed with tourists! At Wat Pho, everywhere you look, you're bound to see someone taking snapshots of the place. With roofs adorned with golden accents and towering structures with intricate details, it's hard not to!

Wat Pho's official name is Wat Phra Chettuphon Wimon Mangkhlaram Ratchaworamahawihan. Quite a mouthful isn't it?
Did I mention that I got to see the Reclining Buddha?
Official name? Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan. Yeah, I'm sticking with just Wat Arun.
Compared with Wat Pho, Wat Arun seemed a bit quieter. Set in the Chao Phraya riverfront, it reminded me so much of the temples in Mortal Kombat. A friendly warning though, the central prang is not for the weak at heart. The steep climb to the top can make you feel a little acrophobic. The view up there, however, makes the climb all worth it.

After the solemnity of temples came the Hangover experience. Although the view from Wat Arun was spectacular, we wanted more. And by more, we meant a beautiful sunset at a world-class rooftop bar where we can see the city and the river at such an incredible height. So where else did we go? The Skybar at Lebua State Tower. The very same place where they shot The Hangover II's helicopter scene. Man, the view up there is just breathtaking! Sure, the drinks were insanely overpriced, and one of the waitresses wasn't very friendly, but the view and the place itself surely made up for it.

A photo of the magnificent view at the Skybar by Mar.
After the pre-dinner drinks at the Skybar, we made our way back to Chao Phraya for our next stop. Asiatique is a riverfront festival night market filled with tourists and locals alike. It has about a thousand shops that are filled with really cool stuff like vintage cameras, handcrafted leather iPhone cases, and trendy clothes. It even has its own Apple store! The restaurants had the swankiest interiors, and the strategically-placed industrial displays added charm to the open-air mall.

Having spent more than expected at the Skybar, we ditched the classy restaurants and opted for a more budget-friendly option. One thing you need to know about the food courts in Bangkok is that they're almost always good and cheap. I can't remember what I got and how much I paid for it, but I'm sure I got more than what I paid for.

Asiatique: The Riverfront.
In one of the many shops at Asiatique.
Tired from the day's adventure, I was ready to go home, but we weren't done just yet. We had one more stop before heading home: Khao San Road. The backpacker's haven where we originally planned on staying. It definitely was one of the highlights of my Bangkok adventure and I could pretty much sum it up in Sean's favorite phrase: personal growth. There we partied hard, met a few people, and got drunk (which was definitely a first for me). I admit to letting loose that night, but I was nowhere near Sean's hardcore partying! It was definitely his night, and he left proof of that on the sidewalk. Haha! The day ended with us dead-tired and longing for the comfort of a nice warm bed.

The famous Khao San Road.
Waking up late after the previous night's frenzy, I shook off the remainder of a hangover to accommodate the excitement I felt for what was about to ensue. SHOPPING. We originally planned a 2-hour shopping trip at the Jatujak weekend market, but who were we kidding? 2 hours of shopping at the shopper's mecca? Ha! We ended up spending the entire afternoon walking around Jatujak looking for great buys. I went a little overboard with the shopping that I wasn't able to bring home tacky souvenirs for family and friends. But I can't not buy stuff for myself! I mean it's not everyday that I'm in Jatujak, right?

Jatujak Weekend Market.
Tired from all the walking, we decided to end the day early. After all, Mar had to work the next day, and we were running a little low on cash. After having dinner at the classiest food court I've ever been to, we went back to Mar's place, watched Walking Dead, and then said our good-nights.

With Mar having to work the next day, Sean and I were left to explore the city on our own. We headed to a mall called Terminal 21 where Sean suggested that we part ways for a few hours. He ended up meeting a friend and ditching me, and I ended up alone in a foreign city. And it was awesome! You know how you sometimes wish you could go somewhere where no one knows you? Well, that happened to me, and I loved it! It was definitely a liberating experience.

Sampling the world-famous Thai street food.
Bound to leave early the next day, Mar, Sean, and I decided that we had to have a farewell dessert. Since I've never tried Thailand's famous Mango Sticky Rice, Mar thought it'd only be appropriate that I try it before I head home. It was past 10 and most shops were already closed when we went out to find a place that served the said dessert. Unlike the puto maya back home that we also eat with mangoes and pair with sikwate (or tsokolate), this Thai dessert is served with coconut cream to drizzle all over it. It wasn't exactly foreign to me, but I then understood why tourists were crazy about it!

All Six to Twelve's Mango Sticky Rice.
Bangkok, early morning.
At dawn of October 30th, Sean and I started our journey back home. Leaving Bangkok was hard as we both fell in love with the city and the experiences we've had on our short stay. We wanted to stay a little longer, but it was just out of the question. Well, for now at least.

They say it's hard forget your first trip outside your home country, and with the help of two friends from high school, I don't think I'll ever forget mine. I went to Bangkok with little expectations and high hopes, and came back home with a few pictures and tons of unforgettable experiences. Thanks to Mar, we had a lovely place to stay and a kick-ass tour guide. If not for the itinerary he came up with out of sheer goodness, Sean and I wouldn't have been able to maximize our trip. We probably could've ended up lost too! Or not. After all, it's hard to get lost if you don't really know where you're going. ;)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Happy Birthday, Me

Every day we wake up, we wake up a day older. That doesn't necessarily mean we wake up any wiser, but we strive.

Today marks the 24th year of my existence, and I feel like a totally different person. Gone is the boy who's helpless without a companion. The past year has taught me lessons that I didn't want to learn, and I ended up giving myself the best gift I could ever give: the gift of independence. Don't get me wrong though, I still need to have people around me to truly thrive. That's just who I am. However, I'm beginning to appreciate the joys of being on my own. I'm beginning to learn that I don't need to have a companion to enjoy some of the things that life has to offer. Company is good, but not always necessary.

Movie for one. A small step for most, a big one for me.

I've also learned not to put up with things I cannot stand, may it be people, objects, or situations. I cannot keep compromising myself for the benefit of others. I have a duty to myself, and that is to keep myself sane and free from things that weigh me down. And seeing as I have no room for negativity at this point in my life, I have resolved to be indifferent of these things. Disliking takes too much effort. :)

I thank God for another year and another chance to find myself, but mostly I thank Him for everything that's happened. I thank Him for the gift of friends both old and new, and for family that's ever growing. I thank God for giving me the chance to grow and broaden my horizons, as well as the chance to know myself a little better. One more year may have been added to my life, but really, it makes no difference. After all, years will always pale in comparison with maturity.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Pass the Toast!

Having breakfast while watching clips of classics could very well be my new favorite thing. Old films and coffee somehow go together very well. :)

“You know what’s wrong with you, Miss Whoever-you-are? You’re chicken, you’ve got no guts. You’re afraid to stick out your chin and say, “Okay, life’s a fact, people do fall in love, people do belong to each other, because that’s the only chance anybody’s got for real happiness.” You call yourself a free spirit, a “wild thing,” and you’re terrified somebody’s gonna stick you in a cage. Well baby, you’re already in that cage. You built it yourself. And it’s not bounded in the west by Tulip, Texas, or in the east by Somali-land. It’s wherever you go. Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.”

Saturday, September 1, 2012


After yesterday's rediscovering, I tried to look for more of my old writings to know the kind of person I was then and see how much I've grown. I was never much of a factual writer, as I was drenched in all things fiction. All my writings tended to be of ideal scenarios that have never and may never come to life. A lot of these things end up forgotten in one of my notebooks or in another blog, and I don't know why I never got around to sharing it on here. Maybe I was just being lazy. Or maybe I was waiting for the right time? I don't know.

Photo taken from
Inspired from the photo above, I wrote this on the 31st of March 2011:
I wish we could just lie here and read each other’s minds and hear each other’s hearts. No need for silly conversations and acting all cool on the outside. We’d have each other’s raw thoughts and feelings to assure us of this moment, of this time together. In this moment, we are not two bodies in search of convergence, but one soul living with burning passion.
The first few minutes after reading it, I wasn't quite sure if it was really something I've written. I tried to look it up on Google to make sure, but I couldn't find a match. The first three sentences felt like mine, but the last one was somehow foreign to me. Did I write this half asleep? Maybe. It took me a while to remember (or confabulate) that it is indeed one of my work. I then felt like maybe I could end up writing a cliche of a young adult novel. (insert eye rolls here)

On one of my short story writing binges, I came up with a snippet that I intended to expand when I had the time. I never got around to doing it, and now I don't think I ever will. It's a dead end. Reading it again makes me cringe a little on the inside, but I think it's worth sharing before it's completely forgotten.
A Mistake I’m Willing To Make
I love you. I know I shouldn’t, but I do. I’m defying all my self-imposed rules, and I don’t even care. You are the first puff of smoke and the last drop of alcohol. You are sinful yet unmistakably delightful. You make my knees of stone wobble like jelly and my putrid heart is renewed like spring’s first blossom.
In the end, I know, you’ll only break my heart and crush my soul, but right now, I don’t give a damn. Make me feel like shit, I don’t care. Just let me love you. For now, for this very moment, let me embrace this insanity.
Although I still find myself writing bites of fiction every now and then, somehow it's just not the same as the ones I used to write. Themes have changed, the writing voice has changed. I realize that maybe my writing has evolved in some way. It has changed because, well, I myself have changed.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Musings of a Hopeless Romantic

On February 24, 2011, I wrote a little something out of boredom. Rediscovering it was such a delight that I'm sharing it here.

Photo taken from
This is where we’ll meet: in a library or a bookshop. I come in out of curiosity, you for whatever it is you think is a good reason to come in. We find ourselves in the same aisle, and I'm holding a classic I wish I’ve read. You notice me tearing up as I flip the pages, and you think it’s cute that I be so engrossed to such a little book. You don’t know that it’s actually my allergy acting up. I notice you looking at me and so I smile. You’re caught off guard, yet you manage to smile back. You ask me what book I'm reading and I tell you the title. You tell me your thoughts about me crying over a book, and I tell you about my allergy. We laugh about it and that’s when we finally exchange names. Yes, this is how I want to meet you.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Today and Until Then

Maybe one day I can look back laughing, but not today. Today I will revel in delicious pain that makes me feel alive. I’ll probably end up walking around on autopilot, zoning out on conversations—basically appear like a lifeless robot. But inside me thunder clouds will roar and waves will crash on lifeless shores. Inside this lethargic shell, chaos will reign and I will take pleasure in every bit of ache.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bad Day

We've all had our share of bad days. We've had one of those days that felt like a series of unfortunate events stitched together with the sole intention of making us feel, well, bad. During these days, it's hard to stay calm and even-tempered. However, getting your panties up in a bunch won't solve anything. Just keep rolling with the punches and remind yourself that things can get worse. Because, really, they can.

Bad Day by Daniel Powter. The perfect song for the day.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Day 19: What is my goal in life?

My goal is simple, albeit not easily achieved. My goal in life is simply to find happiness in everything I do. I want to appreciate every little chore. I want to enjoy even the most mundane and taxing of jobs. I just want to find a smile on my face regardless of what I'm doing. Life's too short to be miserable all the time. And if I find myself grey and old, with more laugh lines than frown sags (yes, I just made up a new term), then I'd know I've achieved my goal.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Graceless Heart

I am a box filled with Lego pieces. Outside I keep it clean, but inside I’m a mess – a mumbo jumbo of colourful pieces waiting to find order. To try and understand me would be futile, as all there is inside me is chaos. I am filled with emotions old and new, and I know not what to make of it. Is this what it feels like to be alive? If so, then why do I feel so dead? Ah, questions. It always ends with questions.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dark Clouds

I haven't been sleeping well lately. As usual, I go to bed late, and I get up just before the alarm could go off. My neck hurts, my back hurts, and my eyes are a constant puddle. Lately, my concentration has been off, and I somehow could not get myself to think straight. Something must be terribly wrong.

Today I woke up feeling a little gloomy. Must be the weather. All I want to do is sit on my bed with a blanket wrapped around me, a cup of warm coffee in my hand, and a melancholic playlist played on low volume in the background. Ah, but work must get in the way. I guess I'll have to settle for a coffee on the go.

  1. Dancing On My Own (Live) - Robyn
  2. Keep You - Sugarland
  3. Alone Again (Naturally) - Vonda Shepard
  4. So Long - Ingrid Michaelson
  5. Santa Monica Dream - Angus & Julia Stone
  6. Stay - Sugarland
  7. Jolene - Ray LaMontagne
  8. Your Song - Kate Walsh
  9. 3 AM (Piano Acoustic) - Matchbox 20
  10. Everything'll Be Alright (Will's Lullaby) - Joshua Radin
  11. Fire - Augustana
  12. Can't Help Falling In Love - Fleet Foxes Sing

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Narra Park Hotel

You live in a big world. Make it your duty to explore.
Far from the hustle and bustle of the city, a classy Mediterranean-inspired haven sits on top of a hill in Alcoy, Cebu. A clear blue pool, cool shades provided by big trees, an endless view of the great horizonyou'd think you were in some expensive five-star resort. Narra Park Hotel boasts of a posh and relaxing atmosphere for a price that's unbelievably affordable.

Veranda with an overlooking view of Alcoy
Room rates are at Php2000.00 a night, good for 3 persons. Rooms have a maximum capacity of 5 people, with a charge of Php500.00 for each additional person. All inclusive of breakfast.

Restaurant Interior: keeping true to the Mediterranean theme 
If you're only planning to go on a day tour, don't even stress about the entrance fee, simply because there's none! You only have to pay a Php70.00 swimming charge if you're planning to take a dip in the pool.

Clubhouse sandwich and fries
Food is relatively cheap as it ranges from Php130-350.00, while drinks start at Php35.00.

If you're planning to go on a quick vacation, or simply to get away on a weekend, I suggest you try and see for yourself what Narra Park Hotel has to offer. It's a 20-minute drive from the foot of the hill and is currently in the process of development. But the view, the ambianceall of it is worth it!

Contact Numbers: 0918-548-6344 (cellphone), 518-0242 (landline)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Thoughts on Pocket Photography

Much to my chagrin, I am no photographer. It is an art that I have not mastered, though I do try my hand at it once in a while. I am simply someone who is starving to make good art, and so I explore every field that I can until I do. Thanks to mobile photography (or pocket photography as others would call it), I get to practice taking good photos at my own convenience and not feel too pretentious. It gives me my quick fix of art during times when even doodling seems impossible. For a quick moment, it allows me to pretend that I could be a good photographer. Haha! So if you see me busy with my phone, chances are I'm on Instagram checking out and/or taking photos.

Fashion Woes

Along with music, fashion is one of the things I love that doesn't love me back. I have a tiny frame that makes it close to impossible for me to find good fitting clothes, least of all fashionable ones. I go to malls and thrift shops only to find myself disappointed at the lack of smaller sizes. I even check out fashion blogs and get frustrated at the lack of tips for pint-sized fashionistas. Whoever said that the smaller ones have it easy in terms of fashion definitely did not have a munchkin boy like me in mind.

Most of the time when I do find something good though, one more factor sets me back. Price tags. As if finding one that fits wasn't bad enough! It's the most frustrating bit, really. It's like finally figuring out where the cookie jar is kept, and finding that it's way out of your reach. *sigh* So I settle with whatever I could find that fits me and my tight budget.

I know fashion should be the least of my concerns, but sometimes it feels good to look good. That's why when I do have a little extra cash to spend, I don't mind getting a shirt for more than its worth (just as long as it does not exceed my shirt limit of P500). And sometimes, when I'm feeling artsy and experimental, I take out old clothes that don't fit and cut them as I desire. They don't always turn out great as I suck at sewing, but they do end up being good enough to wear.

Last summer. Green tank top and cuffed denim bermuda shorts cut from clothes that don't fit me.

Someday, I wish I could find a store that meets my fashion needs with reasonable prices. A store made specially for tiny people like me who mostly wears laid back clothing, but likes to dress up once in a while. Or if that's too much to ask, I could settle for a good capital to get a shop like that up and running.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Day 18: Whom do I admire the most?

I know what you're thinking. Still doing the challenge? Well, I can't just quit on Day 17. I have to finish this thing no matter how long it would take. Oh, and this just might be the first and last blogging challenge I might take on by the way. I've come to the conclusion that 30-day challenges can be quite a pain in the ass. Anyway, to set the slow ball rolling, here's Day 18.

If I have to answer this in strict terms and choose someone I know in real life, my answer would be my parents. Yeah, yeah, I know. I glorify my parents too much. So to spare you from all the cliches that could only come from a doting child, I'm going to pick someone from a different world instead.

For those who love books and fiction, I'm sure there's that one character who stands out and stays with you for the rest of your life. For me, that character is Susan "Stargirl" Caraway. The quirky yet fascinating girl from Jerry Spinelli's imagination embodied the kind of person I wish to be. She's funky, cool, and very um...well, different. The best part is she doesn't even care! And although falling in love caused her to dim her light, she finds a way to get up and shine even brighter.

"She was elusive. She was today. She was tomorrow. She was the faintest scent of a cactus flower, the flitting shadow of an elf owl. We did not know what to make of her. In our minds we tried to pin her to a corkboard like a butterfly, but the pin merely went through and away she flew."

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Weekend Cooking

When I'm not busy or feeling lazy, cooking is one of the things I enjoy doing. Yesterday, while I was bored and hungry, I decided to make Champorado. But instead of the usual cook-and-serve, I decided to have a little fun and tried to make it more appealing. I served it on a special dish, and sprinkled it with milk powder, trying hard to make it look more than what it really is. I'm not sure if I succeeded on my attempt, but I can assure you that the taste was a sure hit.

This afternoon, I had the chance to do a little baking, so I whipped up some muffins. I don't know what is it with me and muffins, but I'm so obsessed with them! Maybe it's because their flavor is never too overpowering, or because they go well with coffee. Either way, it's one of my favorite pastries. Today I made Chocolate Chip & Almond Muffins. I still can't get it to look the way I want it to, so I guess I'll have to practice some more. It tastes good though. I just can't get it to peak higher. Bummer.

The kitchen has always provided me a temporary escape, but now it's all over and Monday morning's drawing near. I will have to get back on my horse for another week of toil, but I know there's always the weekend to look forward to, and for that I'm glad.

A Morning in the Opera

The magic of the stage is felt when you are transported from your seat to the scene it portrays. With the right set, song, and actors, that isn't so hard to do. The first time I saw the Phantom of the Opera was almost ten years ago, done by the juniors from my school. Their set wasn't at all great. They were mostly cardboards and curtains--it was a high school production after all. It wasn't anything like the elaborate spectacle that it was supposed to be, but when the music started playing, I was hooked. When the title song came on, I was on the edge of my seat, and I knew then that I've fallen in love.

Since then, The Phantom of the Opera has become one of my favorite musicals (and stories). I've been obsessing over Erik, Christine, and Raoul (yes, there was a time I liked Raoul) for years. I've read Erik's back story, and the "official" sequel to the original novel. I've spent hours listening to the recordings of Phantom and Love Never Dies. I've even watched Joel Schumacher's film adaptation countless times. So when I finally found a way to secure a copy of the 25th anniversary concert, I was all giddy with excitement. I've decided, as a treat to myself for Easter, to enjoy The Phantom of the Opera in the Royal Albert Hall in spite of all the work that's waiting.

So before I go on with my date with the Phantom, let me share a little bit of the experience. The video above is from the 25th anniversary concert, and it stars Sierra Boggess and Ramin Karimloo. The same actors who originated the same roles for Love Never Dies. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have an Easter morning to enjoy.

Happy Easter!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Day 17: What do I wish I could say to someone?

Well, this is awkward. I'm not sure how I can make you listen to me, because you hardly ever do, but I might as well try. I know you probably feel like shit right now--you usually do. You probably feel like you're good for nothing and that you're only here in this world to suffer, but let me tell you this: you're wrong. If only you'd look hard enough, you'd see that you are worth so much more than you think, and that the world's yours for the taking.

I am fully aware of your crippling insecurities, but you need to remember that you are what you are. How you'd fare in the world depends on how you harness what you have. True, you're not the best at anything, but you can be better. Stop comparing yourself with others as it will only make you feel worse. Instead, take notes and improve your craft. Don't look at yourself in the mirror for more than a minute. Well, who am I kidding? You love the mirror. Well, if you must look at yourself in the mirror for more than a minute, remember that everyone has flaws. A lot of people are just good at concealing them--either with makeup or photoshop. Fix what you can, and embrace what you can't. You'll be living with it for the rest of your life, so there's no point in hating.

If you're feeling lost, know that you are right where you're supposed to be. I know how unsure you are of things as you finally start to take charge of your life, but that's the beauty of it. Uncertainty brings forth surprises. You need to remember though, that even if you play the game by your own rules now, you can't win without a good team to back you up. I know how you're trying to invest in memories, but don't forget to invest in people as well.

One more thing: stop living in the shadows. Stand up. Speak up. Be heard. You've got a voice--don't be afraid to use it. (Well, except perhaps when singing is involved) Don't be afraid to make mistakes because you'll learn from it. Stop caring about how you sound to other people, because they don't care how they sound to you. It pays to be silent and reserved, but when you have to, speak. You are your biggest oppressor, so stand up against yourself if you have to. Don't let your brilliant ideas die in the back of your head.

You are on a great adventure, and you are well equipped to face the challenges it brings. Never forget that. Do not ever let anything, or anyone, make you feel less than what you are. You have what it takes to a live a beautiful life, so live it. You may not always get credit for it, but you help make this world a little more interesting. Take pride in that and smile. And when things get a little too much to handle, remind yourself of how strong you are.

Oh, and yeah. Don't forget to believe in me. Always.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Day 16: What do people notice about me?

We are not the best judges of ourselves. That's a proven fact. Most of the time, what we see in the mirror is not what others see. So to keep this free from personal bias, I asked five friends to tell me the first thing they notice about me. With their minds set to the idea of meeting me for the first time, here's what they've got to say:

Ralph said that if he didn't know me, I would seem like an introvert if alone, but would have an outward disposition when with friends. Although he said that physically I seem very fragile, he made up for it by saying I'm witty. He also added that emotionally I come off as someone serious and focused.

When we first met, Cyd said she got the impression that I was a rich kid, and that was what she noticed first. I don't know where she got such an outrageous idea, but that's what she said.

To Emilou, my glasses took the spotlight. She said that my glasses caught her attention, thinking it was just a fashion statement. She found out soon enough that it wasn't the case. She also poked fun at my voice, saying it was another thing she noticed about me.

Marah, one of my BFF's since high school, said that I seem silent and reserved. She also said that I'm the type that people would judge as "maarte" at first, which is very true. I guess this explains Cyd's answer.

After asking him, Macau gave me this for an answer: "The first thing I noticed about Francis was his love for cartoon characters and/or marvel superheroes. It just goes to show how happy his childhood was, enjoying his own fantasy rather than giving a crap on a bitchy reality."

Getting varied answers, I realized that what people notice about you says something about them just as much as it does about you. We choose how we present ourselves to the world, but how we are seen depends greatly upon the world. How's that for an early morning reflection? ;)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Day 15: What do I dislike most about myself?

If you're wondering why it took me so long to write my Day 15, you can blame it on my crazy work schedule and good old procrastination. Also, I haven't been in the writing mood for months now. I feel so out of touch. I even considered quitting the challenge, but something inside prodded me to give it one more go and see it through. After all, I have faced bigger challenges, and will certainly be facing more. So here I am, doing Day 15 at the most inappropiate place and time. Shhh.

As I have mentioned a couple of times, there are plenty of things about me that I don't like. I could write a list, but I don't know how long it would go, and I probably would just end up feeling depressed for days. I try hard not to remind myself of my flaws because I have the rest of the world to do that for me. (And they do the job pretty well, if you ask me) Also, to write down what I dislike most about myself would be especially hard, since I have declared this day to be Good Vibes Monday—and you can't feel bad about yourself on Good Vibes Monday. Sigh. Oh, well.

I don't know how I ever came to be such an insecure being, but that's who I am. And that's what I hate most about myself. I spend most of my alone-time wallowing in self pity and feeling bad for not being good enough. I have my insecurities cling to me like a koala hanging on to a tree. Shaking it off is close to impossible. Sometimes I even think I should see a shrink, simply because I think it's close to being unhealthy. I should explain further, but I don't want to get sucked into the negative feeling (and I don't want to get caught blogging either). So, ciao!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Day 14: What do I like most about myself?

This is one question that I don't get asked often, and so I've never really taken the time to think of an answer. What can I possibly like about myself, when I'm constantly berating myself for not being better? Hmm.. Let's see.

I've had a few days to think of the answer, but somehow it is very elusive. And just when I think I have it, a little voice inside my head would whisper, "Seriously?" It wasn't until about two minutes ago when I finally came around and found the right answer. Well, for now anyway (while that stupid voice is still asleep). I have come to the epic conclusion that the thing I like most about myself is the thing that makes me human, and that is my forbearance towards the harshness of reality. Like most people, I whine and complain over things that come my way, and yet I manage to get through it one day at a time. Sometimes I look back and wonder how I ever made it through some trying times, and then I am reminded of the gift of strength my God has bestowed upon me.

I know that this is not exactly the best answer, nor is it something special, but when you think about it, doesn't it make you feel proud to be so resilient?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Day 13: Have I ever had my heart broken? Have I ever broken a heart?


Day 12: If I could wish for anything that would come true, what would I wish for?

This challenge sure talks a lot about wishes and dreams!

If I could wish for anything (and by anything I mean anything), I'd probably wish for magic. I mean, who wouldn't want a little magic in their lives? I'm talking about real magic, of course. Spells, enchantments, charms, and the like. But if that's too much to ask, I could settle for the magic of life: true love, lasting friendships, strong family ties, career fulfillment, and self-actualization.

I'm not wishing for magic just for the heck of it. I'm wishing for magic because I know I deserve it. I know it's wishful thinking on my part, but I have always believed in it, and I still do. The world has proven to me its non-existence countless times, but I refuse to yield. For me, magic is out there, and one day I'm gonna get it. I mean, I'm not holding out for my Hogwarts letter to come along, but I'm sure there's some kind of magic out there that's waiting for me. It may be the kind of magic that whips you up a cup of coffee at the snap of a finger, or the kind that sits with you by the window as you enjoy that warm cup.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Day 11: Who can’t I live without?

There are some questions in life that are thrown at you, and you're never sure of what to answer. There are also those that even before the question can be completed, you already have the answer blurted out. This is one of the latter.

The moment I read the challenge for the day, my mind has already made up its answer without second thoughts. My answer is something I have always admitted openly to everyone. As independent as I may seem to some, there will always be two people that I will forever be dependent to. Without them, I don't know how I could ever exist. I owe to these people my everything, including the life I am living.

I've said this before, quite a lot of times actually, but I'll say it again anyway. This is not something I will ever be ashamed to admit. The people I can't live without are my parents. They are my best friends, my mentors, my love. Ever since I was a tiny little baby with an over-sized head, I have been so attached to them. They may not have spoiled me with material things, but I have been abundant of their love.

Day 10: A dream for the future.

In addition to Day 9, I dream of finding my niche in a job that I identify myself with. :)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Day 9: Hopes, dreams and plans for the next 365 days.

To wish for happiness would be folly, for everyone can be happy if we choose to be. For the next 365 days, I wish not for happiness, but for things, people, and events that will make choosing to be happy much easier.

To hope for love would be ignorant, for love is already within ourselves. For the next 365 days, I hope not for love, but for someone who truly deserves my heart.

To dream of wealth would be foolish, for nothing lasts forever, most especially your possessions. For the next 365 days, I dream not of wealth, but of great health for everyone I hold dear.

To plan for adventure is absurd, for life already is. I plan to enjoy life the best way I know how. I will try new things, make mistakes and learn from them, and see new places. For the next 365 days and beyond, I plan to live.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Day 8: What’s in my bag.

The last bag I used was my handy brown leather clutch. The content of which are simply the basics. These are things that you will find in whatever bag I use, simply because I can't leave anywhere without them.
  1. Money. How can you get anywhere without it?
  2. ATM Card. You never know when your cash might run out.
  3. Keys. Who wants to be locked out of his/her own house?
  4. Rosary. To protect me and guide me to the right path.
  5. Phone. It's usually in my pocket, but I put it in the bag for safekeeping.
  6. Comb. When you've got unruly hair like me, it pays to have one at all times.
  7. Tissue. Only when I have a need for it.

Company Night-out with the Super Keps

I promised to stay home this weekend, but my friends forced me to come to our company party. I have to say, it was so much better than I expected. All my friends came, and that's all I really wanted. I downed a few glasses of beer (it's a mystery how I managed to do it), laughed out loud, and danced till I could barely stand. I had so much fun, albeit the headache.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Day 7: My worst habit.

My worst habit is wallowing in self-pity. I'm quite the depressive, and it seems to me like a day can't go by without me feeling sorry for myself. Sometimes, like right now, it can get very debilitating. It breaks my spirit, but there's nothing I can do about it. I can't help it sometimes.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Day 6: A song that makes me cry (or nearly).

Considering how emotional I am, there are probably quite a number of songs that I've listened and cried to. When the words and melody go together in a way that tugs on my heartstrings, expect me to turn into such a sissy. This goes without saying that to name one song is quite hard. Especially since I have filed these songs in categories according to how they make me feel. Like when I listen to my playlist of religious songs, I can't help but tear up at the realization that I am not as a good a person as I hoped I'd be.

However, if there's one song that's sure to get to me, it would be this. Someone's Waiting For You from The Rescuers used to be my favorite song as a kid. It is also the very same song that my mom would sing to me when I'm sick. She sang it to me when I was in the hospital for dengue and wouldn't stop crying from the endless needle pricking, and again when I was scared to go under the knife to have my inflamed appendix removed. I won't offer any guarantee of tears when it plays, but it will always remind me of the most trying times in my life with my mom beside me, helping me to get through.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Day 5: My dream house.

Paris Disneyland (source)

Day 4: Something I am OC about.

There are plenty that I'm OCD about, but I can't think of much right now. Here are the first three that came to mind though. Let this be enough for now.

1. Hands and Feet. I cannot stand having my hands and feet dirty. Sometimes I go crazy thinking about it, and could hardly focus on anything else. One time, while wearing dorsal foot-baring espadrilles, a colleague accidentally brushed the dirty sole of his shoe on my right foot. I had it so bad that I could no longer concentrate on the meeting, and was cursing him in my head for not being careful. Haha! Other times, I'm okay with it though.

2. Notebook/Sketchbook. This one I'm starting to get over with. I used to be so OC when it comes to my notebooks and sketchbooks. One mistake, one tear, one stain on its perceived perfection, and I can no longer look at it the same way. I would get all lackadaisical about it. Sometimes I wouldn't even want to look at it because I am reminded of how "ugly" it has become. Yeah, I'm weird like that. I have been trying to look at things differently as of late though. I have been trying to convince myself that flaws give them character, and somehow I can see that it's beginning to work.

3. Books. I have great love for my books. I take very good care of them, and so I expect anyone who borrows one to do the same. If you borrow a book from me and return it in bad shape, expect me to not look at you in the same way again. It kills me to inflict damage on someone else's book, so I can't see why anyone would treat mine like a piece of trash. I can only take very minimal creases on the spine, the kind that's barely visible. Anything bigger than that will surely get the crazy wheels in my head to start running.

Forgive me for such a hasty post. Remember when I said that time will be my biggest foe in this challenge? Well, it's only the fourth day, and yet it's beginning to gain advantage. No worries though. I will get through this. Aja!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Day 3: A photo of me taken more than 10 years ago.

Lost: big-headed child with round cry-baby eyes and pouty lips.
Last seen crying noiselessly in his seat.
If found, congratulations! You have successfully traveled through time.

This photo was taken approximately 20 years ago. I'm not really sure, but I think it was for my nursery ID. Look at that face. What a cry baby! Haha!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Day 2: 20 of my favorite things.

I admit to being quite materialistic. Ask me for a wishlist and you'll get a crapload of things that aren't all that important. It's not that I don't appreciate the non-material things (because I really do), but I do get a kick out of getting stuff. I'm not shallow. I'm human.

Asking me to name my favorite things is going to be hard though. Not because I have plenty, but because I barely have any. I love my things. I take good care of them, but I don't have favorites. Like seasons, they too pass. I can name a few general items, but nothing specific. And even then, I don't think I could come up with twenty. So I opted to follow the footsteps of Fraulein Maria instead, and named 20 of my favorite things that need not be objects.
  1. Sleeping in on a cool morning. I don't think I have to explain this one. Waking up to a cool weather and curling back in bed for a few extra winks is everyone's guilty pleasure.
  2. Staying in my room on a rainy afternoon with a warm cup of coffee and a good book in hand. I love rain. The sounds of pitter-patter and the cool breeze awaken feelings that I've left to hibernate within the corners of my heart. My emotions are heightened that I want to be wrapped around the warmth of words and the sweet aroma of caffeine. And when I have all three at the same time, I could only wish for time to stand still.
  3. Travelling to places I've never been. There's nothing like the thrill of being in a new place. With every place you visit, you crave for more. Your body longs for adventure. And every day that you find yourself somewhere new, you feel reborn. Like each day was made specifically for you to see the wonders of wherever you are.
  4. Under-appreciated movies. I can't explain why I love them. I just do. I guess when there's less overrated talks of how beautiful a film is, you tend to see its beauty in your own way.
  5. Unexpected, yet pleasant attention. This doesn't happen everyday, but when it does, it never fails to make me smile.
  6. Making art in my own accord. I will always love making art, forced or not. But one of the best things in the world is making it when I feel like it. When you feel creative juices flow through your bloodstream, and your hands itch to create, you will most likely come up with something beautiful. And who doesn't want to create something beautiful?
  7. Writing poetry just before I fall asleep. Words flow better when I'm in bed at night.
  8. Stars. What's there to say? I've been fascinated by them since the day I learned how to draw one!
  9. Talking about life. Talking about life gets me to think. Not in the way that politics or neuroscience do, but in a way that really gets to me. It allows me to ponder and question one's existence. It allows me to think about the really important things.
  10. Daydreaming. I am a professional daydreamer, and always have been since the day I came to this world. Back when I was a student, I used to do it full-time. It's my own private getaway when things get a little too hard to handle, or when I'm just bored off my ass.
  11. Really good music. The best way to describe my feelings for music is to quote the movie, It's Kind of a Funny Story. When Craig asked Noelle if she liked music, she simply replied, "Do you like breathing?"
  12. Great bargains. This is the shopaholic in me talking. I'm an impulsive buyer, and finding great bargains is like finding an oasis in the middle of a scorching hot, dry desert. It's like heaven in a price tag.
  13. Getting under the covers and wrapping up on a cool night. Pretty much the same as #1.
  14. Making my parents happy. I'm not sure how many times I've done this, but for the few times that I remember, I don't think I can ever trade it with anything in the world.
  15. Laughing out loud with friends. This is one vice I will never give up on. It's one of those things that you can't get enough of. You find ways of getting it, and when you do, you get a certain kind of high that you want to hold on to for as long as you can. It's my drug.
  16. The internet. :)
  17. Cartoons. As a child-at-heart, I don't think I can ever get through life without cartoons.
  18. Dancing unrestricted. Not many know this, but when I'm home alone and a really good song comes on, I get up on my feet and dance. Just dance. No choreography, no restrictionsjust the feeling of the beat taking over my bones.
  19. Brown paper packages tied up with string. Alright, you didn't think I'd write a list of my favorite things and not pay homage to The Sound of Music, now did you? Haha! Seriously though, like Maria, I like receiving packages. Most especially when wrapped in brown paper and tied with string. It feels so...old-fashioned. And I love old-fashioned! It has a certain charm to it that's very endearing.
  20. Going to work with my parents. No matter how much I bitch about it in the morning, it's one of my favorite times of the day. I've been so busy lately that we hardly see each other. It's in that 45-minute (sometimes later) ride that we get to talk. And I love talking to my parents! Even if it's mostly me just grumbling. LOL.

Day 1: A photo that makes me happy.

To try and explain why this photo makes me happy would risk understatement. How could you look at it and say that it can't make a person happy? This is a prime example of how a picture can paint a thousand words. Apart from the obvious uncontrived spontaneity of us falling down, it captures the essence of the friendship I share with these people. Fun. Candid. Close.

Whenever I find myself missing my Burkies, I take a quick look at this photo, and instantly I find myself transported to a time when we were young, carefree, and virtually inseparable. I smile at the idea that at one point in our lives, a problem meant not knowing where to eat for lunch or which room would we hang out in. Life is catching up on us, and now we're facing real problems, and alone most of the time. This Kodak (not really) moment, however, still brings the same kind of joy it once did, albeit tinged with longing and melancholia.

My friends and I still catch up every now and then, but traditions have been harder to keep, and simple get-togethers now need careful planning. I miss them, and I miss the way we were, but I guess we all have to grow up sometime. I take comfort in the fact though that even if we're growing up apart from each other, we still remain the best of friends.

The 30-day Challenge.

Just last week, Elinore put me up to a challenge that both of us must accomplish. Fairly common nowadays in the blogosphere, she wanted us to do a 30-day challenge patterned after one of her blogging idols'. For the past few months, I barely had time to write anything. Work's been crazy, and the little time I have for myself, I use to catch up on sleep. Even reading a book or sketching took a backseat! I had been too caught up with a lot of things that I broke a promise I made to myself before coming back to the working arena.

So here I am. Foolishly taking up the challenge, and diving in. Time will be my biggest foe. It will probably tie me down and prevent me from succeeding, but rest assured that I will do my best to overcome it. Anne Lamott said that if you want to succeed in writing, start with small assignments. Well, here it is, Anne. My daily small assignments for the next 30 days. I may not end up being a celebrated writer after this, but I will at least feel good about myself for trying.

Okay, here goes. Day One in four.




Sunday, January 1, 2012

Words from the Master

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.

So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.

- Neil Gaiman, My New Year Wish

2011: A Year In Photos

I am no photographer. Let's be clear about that. And if you're asking how I could be so bold to sum up the past year in photos in spite of this reality, well I account that to one thing: laziness. I now write for a living, and no matter how much I enjoy it, I have to admit that it can get exhausting. So bear with me on this one. Don't worry, most of it aren't my own shots anyway.

Celebrating Gwen's success at MO2. This was the night I lost my part-time job. LOL.

The first half of 2011 was dedicated to my personal growth. I cried, laughed, baked, read, did art, started a business. I tried to find myself then, and still am now. I guess it's a sort of journey that takes a lifetime to complete.

Wanderlust #1: Bantayan Summer Escapade with the Burkes. I've had my fair share of travels this year, but this has got to be my favorite. The reason? I got to share the experience with my best friends.

The best thing about coming back to Intelmed. :)

I turned 23, and gave up on the plans I've long been a slave to. I gave it up not because I lost hope, but because I'm making space for a new one. Hopefully this one turns out better than the last one.

Wanderlust #2: Meeting Peter in Manila. The trip I've been most excited about the whole year. I GOT TO WATCH PETER PAN ON STAGE! That show made my year.

Wanderlust #3: A Short and Sweet Visit to Beautiful Tagaytay. I've only had lunch at Sonya's, and already I'm in love.

Lucas Nathaniel. This little bundle of joy came to our lives. He almost peed on my phone, causing me to drop it, but I still love this bugger.

Wanderlust #4: Palawan Paradise. By far, the most beautiful place I've ever been to. I was gonna write about it in detail, but I've been swamped with work. :| I'll try to get around it really soon.

These are the only pictures I could find, but this thing right here is the highlight of my 2011. Enough said.

There. 2011 summed up in photos. I'd love to say more, but there's not much I could say. 2011 was a very interesting year for me, and I hope 2012 proves to be a whole lot better. To friends old and new, to places I've been and will be going to, to the family that's ever growing, and to life that's never boring, I lift my glass up for you. Cheers to a new year!