Describing the Philippines through memories

What’s the Philippines like?

To describe it to most people unfamiliar with the place, it’s a tropical country full of wonderful beaches and amazing mountains. It’s an archipelago in the middle of Asia with a surprising number of people who speak English well.

I hate the Philippines so much.

Or rather, I love it so much.

It’s funny how the just literally being born in a country can make you love and hate it at the same time.

The Philippines is more than just beaches, mountains, and tropical fruits. It’s more than its violent history with Spain, the Americans, and the Japanese. Mostly, the Philippines is my life. It is my culture.

It’s not just the national costumes, the national anthem, or the national flower. It’s a way of life. Honestly, all of that is done just to unite the country, but what really unites us is our shared experiences. Let me tell you about a Filipino childhood.

Memories of riding the jeep with your mom and sitting on her lap because she didn’t pay for your seat (kids don’t take up much space). Being threatened with a tsinelas when you didn’t do your chores. The weird trinkets they sell at elementary school like the necklace with colored sand, blue ink that disappears after a few minutes on your clothes, or the random street vendor who sells i-scrambol that has that distinct purple (or sometimes pink) colored ice.

I recall my childhood full summers at the beach. Full days spent under the sun (even during noon hours), sunburnt skin at the end of the day. I have photos wherein you can distinctly see the difference of my skin color through the outline of my swimsuit. I recall making sand mounds (castle would be too much of a stretch, they never lasted too long) with cousins and friends.

I recall strict teachers and nice teachers. Classmates having their seventh birthday party at lunch time. After school activities included running around in just a sando and the school skirt (we were always sweaty and in the sun, looking and chasing for grasshoppers in the grass). After school activities included chasing after classmates, doing cartwheels in the carpeted hallways.

Going to Baguio as the top vacation site. It was, in our definition, pretty cold in Baguio. We would walk around with gloves on our hands, knitted hats, and jackets. It was a treat to ride the brightly colored horses. Film photography was expensive, unlike the millions of selfies we take now, taking photos back then was a cherished moment.

Storms were frequent too. Signal number 1 was a frequent category Zambales was placed in. School would often be canceled due to the freakish rain and thunder that visited this tropical country. Floods would occur. People would flee from their homes to evacuation centers in the baranggay. Donations are frequent. Losses were even more frequent.

There are so many more memories in my head about the Philippines. Just looking back at all these memories, it just occurs to me how much of a big part of my life this country has become. I love this country because this is where my life began. This is where my parents were born too. I may not know any cultural dances at heart but I can belt out to Aegis. I can’t understand Ilocano, but I eat like one (diningding, pinakbet, bagnet, you name it).

I don’t know. This whole this is just me rambling about my memories as a Filipina. I thoroughly enjoy living in the Philippines. Despite all the political issues, stressfully influential church over the government, and all the mishaps and tragedies that happened, a lot of good has happened here too. I just have to make sure to contribute to all the good that’s happening here.

 

To my younger self,

Hi. You’re about to start high school. It’s a whole new school. Your best friend is going to a different high school. You’re about to be left behind. To be honest, you didn’t really think of it that way, did you? In your mind, you guys will always be best friends.

You’re only eleven, but you’ve been through a lot. To be honest, you’re kinda nerdy and you don’t take care of yourself. You’ve got internalized misogyny. You didn’t take care of yourself because natural beauty is better. You played video games. You saw yourself as one of the guys. You beat all the guys in your classroom in arm wrestling.

You hate yourself.

You’re asking for help. But you don’t know who to talk to.

I still remember that entry. In sixth grade, we were required to make daily logs in our journals. I still remember that vividly. You wrote in your diary terrible things.

You wrote about cutting yourself. You wrote about how the blade felt nice against your skin. It was better than what you were actually feeling. Being numb. Feeling empty. Scared of the future.

Every week, our teacher made us pass our diary. You passed that diary. Along with that journal entry. You were scared that our teacher would read it. Yet, you were also relieved. I guess somewhere deep in your mind, you thought that maybe he would help you out.

The weekend passed slowly. You were in agony waiting for that Monday morning. Would he call your parents? Would he talk to you about it? Would you get in trouble?

Monday morning came. You got to your seat. Our teacher started class. He called out for attendance. Made some morning announcements. The hum of the airconditioning filled the room.

“I’m giving back your diaries now.”

You could hear your heart beating through your ears. Palms sweaty, your knuckles almost white from your closed fists. Minutes felt like hours.

He calls your name.

You get up from your seat. You walk towards him, in the middle of the classroom. You grab your diary from his hand.

He barely looks at you. He calls out the next name. You turn around, you’re confused. You walk to your seat slowly.

There it is. Your diary. Your half-assed diary, to be honest. A cut out of Snow White (which you grabbed from an old kiddy magazine at the last minute) stuck to the cover page. Pages upon pages of entries filled half of the notebook. The first few entries were long. Covering one or two pages. As you flip page after page, the entries become shorter and shorter, to the point where an entry was just a sentence long.

I would know. I wrote all of that. I half-assed it after several months in school. There was nothing to write about. Or rather, I didn’t really feel the urge to write so much when we already had enough schoolwork.

And you finally get to the latest page.

“Dear Diary,

Today I cut myself. I was mad and upset. I grabbed scissors and just kept running them through my fingertips. It felt really good. I don’t know why. It made me feel better. It helped me stop being upset. Please don’t tell my mom!”

On top of the paragraph was a huge red check mark.

You let out a sigh of relief. Or was it disappointment? I’m not really too sure. It’s been eight years since I was last you. I can’t really remember.

I do remember though, what you did right after. You grabbed your correction tape and erased that whole entry. Instead, you placed a stupid wishy washy entry about doing homework, eating dinner, and playing computer games that night.


This letter is never going to reach you, younger me. It’s not possible. Several years later, you would have a conversation with that teacher (he was, after all, one of the very best ones you’ve ever had). He would confess that your handwriting was so bad that he didn’t read your diary logs at all. He would also confess that he thoroughly read through your classmates’ entries though, because their handwriting capabilities were better.

You laugh with him. You try to defend yourself by joking around. It’s all a secret.


To my younger self,

I honestly don’t know what to say to you. You’re eleven years old. You think about death often. You cry a lot. Your best friend is leaving for another faraway school. High school is going to suck. But honestly, you’re just excited about school. You’re excited about studying and making new friends and having fun.

You’ve got a long way to go before you become me. You’ll be spending majority of the next few years hating on your parents, hating on your life, but clinging on to it because of your friends. I still remember you.

If I have to tell you something positive, it’s this. Things get better. Things get tougher. But they get better. You will face hardships you wouldn’t have known possible. You will cry a lot. You’ll be awkward. But it’s okay.

Because you’ll have a support system with you. Your parents are your biggest supporters. You just don’t see it because you’re blaming them for a lot of things.

To my younger self,

Because no one told me this when I was you.

I see you. I know what you’re going through. I’m sorry this is happening. You will be your own person, not the worst case scenario you’re thinking you will become.

To my younger self,

You are important. Isn’t it amazing that out of all the stars, the mountains, the rivers, and the people of the earth, the universe decided it needed you too?

You will do great things some day. I know it.

To my younger self,

I love you.

Heneral Luna – a way to tell history

I absolutely don’t like history classes. They’re so boring. Especially as a kid, my mom had to drag me through studying the history of the Philippines. Our ancestors? I don’t feel connected to them at all. The questions were always the same things on exams. What is the name of our 10th President? How long did the Martial Law last? What date did Magellan come to the Philippines?

Gahd. Why should I care about this stuff? It’s all about people who ruled and changed history yada yada yada but honestly I didn’t see the point of memorizing dates, whole names, or even the names of the laws enacted, wars that happened, or betrayals that occurred within the government.

I’m looking at you, Emilio Aguinaldo. Yeah, we all know you had Andres Bonifacio shot. Modern time Brutus.

Even in college, I avoided all the Kasaysayan (History) electives. My aversion to history was so bad.

That was until, I was introduced to Heneral Luna.

banner-fb

His name means moon but he is my sun (haha get it get it? no please don’t leave no more jokes I swear)

Heneral Luna was a biopic film released in 2015 by Jerrold Tarog. Here’s an interesting tidbit: the movie flunked at first. It was screening in 70 theatres (???) nationwide but within a week they stopped showing it in at least half. No one was watching it. I mean, who the hell would pay P200 for a biopic? That’s the equivalent of two Jollibee meals.

But then, the people who actually did give it a chance were raving about it so freakin hard. They posted on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. They encouraged people to watch it. Facebook was flooded with friends talking about how amazing the movie turned out to be. The last biopic released was a flop.

bonifacio2bbest2bpicture

Surprisingly, even with stars like Padilla and Padilla

So, of course, as people are wont to do, they watched the movie. Encouraged by friends on Facebook (so it’s seen as an authentic review rather than advertising from a company making money off of it), more and more people trickled in the theatre, and more and more people watched it.

In a world of social media, Heneral Luna managed to advertise itself through word of mouth.

So from 30 or so theatres, the number jumped to a 100 theatres. The movie managed to stay in cinemas for several weeks. It was shown in New York, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong. Filipinos all over the world flocked to watch this movie.

What’s the difference between Heneral Luna and Bonifacio? This movie humanized the people from history.

Think about it, can you really ever imagine Barack Obama, going through college? Awake at three in the morning, cold coffee on the table. It’s dark and quiet in the library. He hasn’t showered for three days, the paper is due in a few hours. His penmanship is getting more and more unreadable as the night goes on.

You see, I think that’s why I hated history back then, when I was a kid. We were told all these stories of how Lapu-lapu managed to get rid of the mean Magellan who attempted to “civilize” our ancestors. He was seen as the great and the powerful. But so what?

I don’t know how that struggle feels like. What does it feel like to have other people depend on you for leadership? What does it like to fight to the death with people you disagree with? No, I’m not trying to undermine any of what history says, but it’s just ultimately uninteresting to me (and I’m sure to a lot of other people).

Heneral Luna changed all that. Usually, biopics had very stiff language. So formal. So intense. So tragically distant. But check out this trailer of Heneral Luna.

The Tagalog used is modern and easy to understand. And it’s so friggin quotable. The movie takes it up a notch too. Heneral Luna swears, he’s always pissed. There’s a scene in the movie where the military gained a train for transporting goods to their base. Everyone brought along their family to ride the train and check it out. Luna drives them out, screaming

“Puñeta! Hindi tayo mamamasyal! (Son of a bitch! We aren’t going on a trip!)”

-Heneral Luna, as he used his baton to chase the Filipinos and the chickens away

The movie isn’t all serious. There are scenes that will make you laugh, scenes that will make you tense. You get to know Luna as a person. Throughout the movie, you’ll see him tired, frustrated, happy, angry, making jokes, and honestly working very hard for a country that doesn’t seem to love him back.

Then the movie ends with the actual brutal truth: Heneral Luna was brutally murdered under the alleged orders of Emilio Aguinaldo. The entire scene takes fifteen minutes. It’s brutal to watch. It’s not even the most agonizing part of the film.

Everyone who was in on the plan for his death looked straight in the camera and talked to the audience. They vehemently denied their involvement in Luna’s death. Emilio Aguinaldo argued that Luna was his best commander. Buencamino stated that he hated the guy but definitely not enough to kill him. And they believed this with thorough conviction.

You walk out of the film dazed and angry. It feels like you just lost a friend.

I watched that film four times. I have a picture with one of the actors. It’s just… wow.

This is something I realized two years after the film was released, though. All of this writing is from memory. I didn’t have to look up their names on a history book or Wikipedia. I just honestly loved it and it’s basically history.

The same for Hamilton, the amazing musical on Broadway about Alexander Hamilton. I know so much shit about these people.

Here’s a key takeaway schools should learn from biopics like Heneral Luna or musicals like Alexander Hamilton. History shouldn’t just be about memorizing dates, names, or places of wars, peace treaties, or freedoms claimed. It should literally be about the story of the people before us.

Make history interesting by making the people interesting. Philippine history books just always talk about it like a list of facts to memorize. Make students understand. Make it a story.

Because honestly something we were never taught in history is the fact that these were normal people before history wrote them down as important. Heneral Luna was a doctor, Andres Bonifacio was a middle class citizen who cared for his family. Jose Rizal was a womanizing short dude who had an insane schedule of studying a lot. So basically he was a nerd.

jose_rizal_01

National hero. Nerd. Original fuccboi.

You gotta translate it for the students. What made them fight for the Philippines? Why did they decide to risk their lives for everything? You can’t just say shit like “oooh, they loved their country so much…” because Filipinos nowadays are just looking for ways to leave the Philippines because the opportunities here are so shit.

Make the students write plays, tell stories. Little tidbits of trivia clickbait will make students more interested.

Did you know World War II started because an assassin ate a sandwich?

Did you know that Heneral Luna was actually a momma’s boy?

Did you know that the Berlin Wall was torn down because of miscommunication?

History looks at things in retrospect. Things weren’t seen as so grand before or during the event. In retrospect, history identified these key events and pinpointed them to the escalation of tension, to the eventual climax of changing a significant perspective of a nation or a group of people.

The only difference between us and the people in our history lessons? They took action and fought for what they believed in. Make us understand, education systems.

Make us love our country once more.

 

La Mesa Eco Park

A week ago, I dragged my parents to La Mesa Eco Park, this little area of greenery in Quezon City. My parents enjoyed it a lot, here’s some photos (since I finally learned drag and drop works!)!!!

We got there at around 10am. It was a pretty cloudy day and I was still playing around with the camera, so forgive the quality for now. I’ll get better through practice (prolly).

IMG_2285.JPG

Pretty dark, but whatever.

We got there by car. La Mesa Eco Park in located in Commonwealth. It’s a little bit farther than the Commonwealth Market. It’s kinda hidden though. You can only ride the trike going inside the park.

You can take photos on this huge sign they have outside. It’s pretty cute.

We paid P50 for each person for the entrance fee because we didn’t bring any IDs. Senior citizens, students, and residents of Quezon City get a discount. The park is open until 4pm. The place is amazing. It’s very picturesque. A lot of people were on their bikes. Some of them were jogging. Some people had a picnic.

IMG_2300.JPG

There were a lot of huge trees covering us, so even if it were sunny it would still be breezy in the park.

IMG_2307.JPG

The walkway going into the park.

There’s a lot of walking involved, be warned. Wear comfortable shoes. You can bring food inside the park too.

IMG_2316.JPG

The lagoon beside the picnic area.

There are a lot of activities you could do inside the park. We didn’t really do any of them but mostly they’re fun family activities. You can go swimming (they have two swimming pools but only one is functioning as of this writing) but you have to pay extra for that. Fishing is also possible, for a price.

IMG_2416.JPG

The statue in the middle of the waterbiking lake.

You can ride a horse around the area too. There’s also a bungee trampoline jumping thing. Water biking was also offered but not a lot of people were availing of the service. Mostly though, the visitors bring food and have a picnic in a rented hut and enjoy the greenery.

IMG_2317.JPG

Stairs leading to nowhere. Literally.

They also have these stairs that go up really high. We climbed up on to the top but there’s literally nothing there but the La Mesa Dam. You can’t take photos of the Dam from up there. The only advantage is you can see the lagoon and catch your breathe. A lot of people were catching their breathe halfway through the stairs so it’s best to bring water and pace yourself walking up these things.

IMG_2340.JPG

Some of the plants on the uphill climb parallel to the stairs.

IMG_2342.JPG

The view from the top of the stairs leading to nowhere. It’s a pretty view, considering how urban Quezon City can be.

IMG_2344.JPG

Halfway view from the stairs

IMG_2348.JPG

Flowers are planted everywhere. You could do photoshoots here with friends, actually. :>

IMG_2352.JPG

A smaller lagoon beside the uphill stairs.

IMG_2354.JPG

A lot of people brought their bikes. Bike trails are available so that’s pretty cool!

IMG_2357.JPG

The horses that provide the the horseback riding experience look well-fed in comparison to those in Baguio. 🙂

IMG_2361.JPG

Mini rice terraces!

IMG_2369.JPG

The path in the Drilon Orchidarium

They also had an Orchidarium full of orchids. Not a lot of the orchids were in bloom though. They had a lot of flowers inside the mini-maze thing. It was super pretty!

IMG_2381.JPG

IMG_2390.JPG

IMG_2401.JPG

My mom and I went inside the Orchidarium by ourselves. There were a lot of great places to take photos. Plus my mom loves flowers so she took as many photos as she could.

IMG_2373.JPG

I took a lot of pictures of my mom. Here’s my favorite one ❤

We only stayed for a few hours but my parents enjoyed it and that made me happy. They don’t usually enjoy a lot of stuff so it was nice to see them walking around enjoying themselves.

La Mesa Eco Park: A review

Overall, the park is a great place to visit during the weekends. It’s very family friendly. I didn’t get to take a shot of the playground and the other facilities like the butterfly garden, so you’re going to have to discover that stuff on your own. A lot of people visit the place for a quick family bonding trip. Bring picnic stuff like food, cups, refreshments, and blankets if you feel like having a picnic.

If you don’t want to bother with bringing food though, there’s several outdoor restaurants that sell meals like Bulalo, grilled meat, or snacks. Note that they don’t open when it’s rainy. So I’m pretty sure it’s best to go here during the summer.

Bathrooms are also clean! That’s a very big plus!

It’s also a fun cheap date place if you want to bring your significant other to spend time together walking around trees. You don’t always have to spend money to have a good time ❤

Anyway, I hope more people come and support this park! 😀

An introvert in a party

Today, surprisingly, I went to a party my friend was hosting because it’s almost his birthday. I honestly thought that it would be okay since some of my close friends are coming as well. When I got there with my boyfriend, we were the only ones from our circle who had arrived.

I mean, I knew the other people but only by name. I didn’t expect to socialize with people. Recently I’ve been very heavily introverted. If I didn’t like people before, I certainly don’t want to talk to people now. It tires me out. So we kinda spent the whole party just… attempting to avoid people as best as we could.

I brought my camera but I was too shy to take so many photos of people. It kinda sucks being an introvert sometimes.

Here I was, at this pretty cool party with all this beer and alcohol with all these people I could possibly get to know, yet because I’m an introvert, I’d rather not socialize. I avoided talking as much as possible. I ran into a corner with my equally introverted boyfriend and we stayed there taking photos or selfies. It sucks.

img_2984

Yeah, we got there pretty early, so no one’s photobombing me yet.

It was a party. An opportunity to get to know other people. These other people probably had pretty cool stories to tell. We could have sit ourselves down and learned more about their lives, exchanged cool stories, or maybe even made a permanent friend. The possibilities are endless. All you have to do is talk.

Just. talk.

“Hi, what’s your name?”

“Cool, so how do you know Sski or Kends?”

Conversation starters. Drinks all around. Listen to people some more. Enjoy the night.

Yet because I wasn’t prepared, because I wasn’t expecting to talk to new people, I was not in the mood and I wanted to go home. It sucked.

You know how I met my friends in college? I socialized. A lot. I went to all our dinners and parties. I studied with them. We drank the night away, laughing at random things. We texted one another frequently. We met up randomly in the day and built ourselves up to our currently level of closeness now.

Even though sometimes I didn’t want to socialize, college expected you to do so. Once I had my permanent set of friends, I stopped socializing with strangers. Why would I want to? The only reason I socialized back then was to actually make close friends.

Back then, I felt like a loser if I didn’t go out to parties or dinners with other people. It felt unnatural to be home by 6:30 pm. I was always out late, sometimes getting home the next day smelling like smoke or alcohol. I was always tired but I had fun too.

Nowadays, I enjoy my nights in. I love spending time watching TV, reading a book, or writing on my blog. I love my friends but it’s hard to spend time with people when it drains you five minutes into the conversation.

Sometimes though, I miss the feeling of jumping in spontaneous roadtrips with friends, running wild into the night, spending hours upon hours just enjoying several people hanging out studying or drinking.

It was fun while it lasted.

IMG_3030.JPG

A group of friends, after college. Feb 4, 2017

 

Running a blog is hard

It’s been a month (?) since I started this blog. I’ve written a lot of stuff since then. I’m actually pretty happy with how this blog is coming along and I’m enjoying myself, writing about whatever comes to mind. It’s pretty hard though.

I’m running out of stuff I want to write about. Actually, no, that’s not the case. I have a lot of stuff I want to write about. I want to write about my current interests. I want to write about how I’m starting to learn Digital Photography. I wanted to post the photos I’ve taken so far, but it’s really difficult putting them up on WordPress.

I wanted to write about romance but I’m not even sure I’m an expert at love or anything. I wanted to talk about exercising but I’m not sure I’m an expert at that either. There’s so many things I want to write about but I’m just honestly scared it’s not good enough for my readers or for my standards.

I want to post more photos here, to be honest. It’s so tough to upload photos on WordPress. Everything loads so slowly, especially with how the internet is very slow here in the Philippines. Someone even nominated me for the Valiant Blogger Award (thanks clusterofstars!) but I don’t know that many bloggers either.

I’m still exploring what I honestly want to do in my life. I don’t have that many experiences that can amount to anything yet. All I’ve had so far is rejects of suggestions or possibilities I know I won’t enjoy. Everyone else is moving forward and it feels like I’m stuck.

There’s so much stuff I want to write about but I just feel like I amount to nothing sometimes. Running a blog is hard because it makes me reflect that I haven’t really done much to make a difference in my life or anyone else’s.

I want to change the world in my own way. I want to make it a better place. But what can one girl do? What can someone like me do to make this world a little bit nicer?

Running a blog is hard.

Happy Chinese New Year!

Met up with some friends at the mall today. They had some pretty cool stuff for Chinese New Year. Posting them here because I am giddy. ;D

They had these stalls for Chinese New Year! Here are some of my experiences :>

20170128_142431.jpg

Tried out Chinese Calligraphy for the very first time! It was super fun

20170128_142245.jpg

Photo with proper calligraphy! You get the chance to hang up yours on the tree too! I asked my boyfriend to hang it up super high ❤

20170128_153651.jpg

One of the shops had a Panda Hoodie! ❤ I tried it on. It was sooooo cute. I danced around inside shop and the employees laughed at my awkward dancing =))

20170128_1620280.jpg

I tried on these clip on wings for your hair! The stall was selling them for P50 only, I couldn’t believe it! 0_0 I didn’t buy it though. When would I ever use these things? =))

20170128_162142.jpg

Released my inner cat with this really cute headband! (Again, didn’t buy it but I totes would when I see it again HAHAHA)

wp-1485620811620.jpg

Meow meow mofos ❤

Haha, sorry this turned out to be such a fest full of my photos. I would have taken more photos had I known I’d decided to post this in my blog.

I thoroughly enjoyed the day! There were lots of stalls and they even had Dragon Dance. Almost everyone was wearing red and it was just a really fun day.

Happy Chinese New Years everyone! :3