KDR TV, Year One

I WAS scrolling through my Youtube recommendations list about 3 months ago when I came across an interesting channel. The host looked familiar, but I never expected him to have his own space on the said platform. I was baffled at first. In a world clad with Youtubers and self-proclaimed ‘Influencers,’ Kuya Daniel Razon has decided to launch “KDR TV.”

I’ve always known Kuya Daniel as a prominent news anchor and tv host. He’s the mind behind Wish 107.5 and chief executive officer (CEO) of BMPI-UNTV. His integrity is impeccable. In 2017, he was awarded the “Lifetime Achievement Award” in the 25th Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) Golden Dove Awards. But why did he decide to be part of Youtube? For what purpose?

After watching all his uploaded videos, the answer came to me: He wants to share his thoughts, passion, and perspective while conversing to a wider audience. Yes, it’s a conversation because he reiterates every time that he also seeks what others have to say.

As of today, KDR TV raked in about two hundred thousand views on Youtube. It’s currently backed by more than twenty thousand subscribers. The specific themes it covers include fitness, technology, and reflections on life and love.

It’s been an exciting experience for me so far as one of the channel’s subscribers. And so, to prove this point, here’s KDR TV’s “Best Five” for 2019:

First impression on the Foldable Samsung Galaxy Smartphone

When Samsung Galaxy Fold was first introduced during the first quarter of 2019 and failed to meet the expectations of some tech reviewers around the globe with its problematic plastic screen, it went into a hiatus. The controversy was unlike anything I’ve heard before.

But months later, on September 27, 2019, it was officially released. Samsung made some key adjustments. The product recaptured the imagination of the market with its supremely cool form factor, next level gaming capabilities, enormous battery, and improved nonremovable plastic screen. There was an insurmountable hype. And Kuya Daniel got a hold of one of its commercial units.

With his first tech review, Kuya cited his first impressions of the product. A striking feature of the innovative design of the phone is its articulated spine, or the hinge. The hinge allows the phone to close and open like a book. Its screen size when unfolded boasts at 7.3 inches which is perfect for watching videos on Youtube and Facebook. Because of its enormous overall size, the convenience that a user can experience when typing text or chat messages is commendable. When the phone’s folded, one can still call someone with ease. Naturally, it has its downsides according to Kuya.

Unlike other phones, the Galaxy Fold is so fragile; it’s supposed to be handled with great care. Any seasoned device or gadget user can sense by merely holding a product whether or not it can operate solidly in raucous usage environments such as continuous vibrations, harsh temperatures and wet or dusty conditions. In Kuya’s analysis, the Galaxy Fold can’t be exposed to dusty environments because of the possibility of particles getting into the hinge area which may produce annoying, creaking sound while being folded. In the long run, the accumulation of dirt and dust can damage the phone.

It’s an honest review. The price is divulged at the end of the video which is about $2,000.00 or Php 100,000.00. It’s equivalent to two Apple Macbook Airs!

So, will you buy one?

A day in a life of a CEO: Kuya Daniel Razon

Who never dreamt of being the Chief Executive Officer of a company someday? I did, and this vlog is a revelation.

As mentioned in the first part of this piece, Kuya Daniel is the CEO of BMPI-UNTV – one of the registered and recognized local television channels in the Philippines. But how does a CEO of a growing media entity spend his day?

Typically, Kuya’s engagements include hosting a morning show, conducting meetings with department supervisors, attending voice-over recordings, and giving instructions to some members of the organization. In his willingness to guide his colleagues on their concerns beyond their jobs, he makes it a point that he’s also available for those valuable occasions. He spends time to check on how they are doing and understand their situations.

In the video, Kuya subtly reminds his viewers to do good things whenever they have a chance. In handling work, he emphasizes that if you really love what you’re doing, you’ll persevere; you won’t quit easily. Passion in achieving a goal should be present. And if ever there are things that you must do that are not written in your job description, you should see yourself as a learner. That your actions to grow as a person shouldn’t be fueled and defined by money alone.

KDR Says: Bakit hindi ka crush ng crush mo?

Yes, love. The language of the universe. The mothership. The real deal.

There are those who proclaim that KathNiel still has it while JaDine’s version of it has already expired. But why does the person we like doesn’t like us back?

It’s natural for a person to admire another person. We’re designed to feel a special, alluring type of attraction towards someone. We fall in love on different ways. We can’t fathom its fullness. But what Kuya articulated in this vlog is worth pondering: “Things should come to you naturally; do not pretend to be somebody you are not.”

The first point that Kuya raised is that we should be as real as we can possibly be when we meet someone. If you’re fond of the arts and music – show it; if you’re into fitness – embrace it; if you’re sweet, jolly, and caring – express it. You shouldn’t do something because somebody you like likes it. Do it because it’s good and beautiful and pure. Don’t live on the expectations of someone you like. Strive to be a better person on how you deal with others.

The second one? We can’t control the emotions of other people. Sometimes, in our objective of getting someone’s attention, we change ourselves to the extreme that we could no longer apprehend the person we have become. It’s not sustainable.

Because unrequited love doesn’t dictate who we are as a person. The governing principle in life is not for someone you like to like you back. If in the process of improving yourself you meet someone who appreciates you, then cling to it. Never let go. Stay sincere.

Benefits of daily 25 push-ups by Kuya Daniel Razon

Indubitably, daily exercise is good for the health. Science supports it. Substantial studies have been made about it. So, do it. Now. 25 push-ups for the soul and body!

True Love na ba ito? KDR Says

Again, love.

This must be the most striking vlog for me by KDR TV for 2019 because of the new insights I obtained.

In this vlog, Kuya said: “It’s love if you still like the person over time.” Time reveals a man’s character, and it goes the same way to the one we truly love. But when can we say if the love is true? Here are the following steps he shared:

  • Conduct some research or investigation on the person.

No, he doesn’t ask us to hire an investigator to observe the person we’re fond of 24/7. We must do it by ourselves. But how? Instead of directly scrutinizing the person to know what their ideals, thought process, or values are, we can ask those who are close to them. We can formulate questions about the person and indirectly inquire these to their friends, family members, or peers. As we go through this process, we’ll be more equipped. We must learn how to listen. Our interactions with the person and those around them can reveal salient details we’ve never imagined before. We just have to be patient.

  • Put yourself to the test as well.

Do you exclusively love the person? Is there still a niggling fact that you’re juggling two names in your heart? Do you like the person because of a special trait that they possess? Is it because they’re good in singing? In dancing? In playing the guitars? We have to test ourselves as well. As what Kuya Daniel uttered: ”Kasi yung ‘mahal’, nand’yan man yung hinangaan mo dati sa kanya and then later on nawala, yung pagmamahal natitira ‘yon. Nandodo’n pa rin. Nararamdaman mo pa rin.”

Because in the end, we can’t romantically love two people at the same time. To do so is against sanity.

We fall in love with one.

This Is How You Lose Her In A Snap

‘Still, she’s beautiful. You wonder what her phone number is.’

IT STARTS with a silent stare. Yes, not on her, not on the one you’re in a relationship with, not on her eyes and lips and hair, not on the way she walks and carries her bag. It begins with the invasion of your heart of a foreign being you believe captures your imagination. What if I ask her out? What if I’m with her? Would I be happier? I’m tired of the current one. I’m bored. Is it time to move on? Her legs look great.

You tell yourself that it’s okay to look at the other woman passing along the streets. It isn’t the first time you see her. She’s on her way to work. Her attire says so. It’s a weekday anyway, and you’re just having coffee. It’s freezing outside. Earlier, your girl greeted you ‘Good morning, babe‘; you do not reply to her. Here you are about to pursue a new prospect. Everybody does that, you tell yourself. It’s as if you know every soul in the human population. You arrive at that generalization simply because it’s easier to justify what’s going on in your mind that way. The blank glimpse. Possibilities. You’re observing the world you’re in. It’s fascinating. Still, she’s beautiful. You wonder what her phone number is.

And you approach the stranger. Confidently. You’re wearing an enticing fragrance. It’s your lone chance. It might slip away, and you don’t want to have any regrets later.

You abandon your coffee you bought for two dollars. You tell her that she forgot something. She turns around and asks what it could be. There’s grin on your face, and you tell her the magic word: “Me.

Her face lights up to the novelty of the act. She finds it cute.

You ask her where she’s headed. For a moment, for the second time, in a span of minutes, you forget about your girl. You erase your vows, your promises, and the spirit contained in the inspired letters you wrote to win her years back. She was your dream then. Take note of ‘was.’

You go back to the current situation. The stranger smiles at you. She asks where you live, your work, your hobbies on weekends. You both love movies, but not just any movie. You love mystery films, investigative, those that oblige you to think. Your girl likes romantic – comedies. But you no longer care. It’s getting deeper.

There’s connection, a spark, or so you believe. You inquire about her number, and she willingly gives it you.

Where’s your phone?” she says.

Here it is,” you respond.

And you part ways. But, it doesn’t stop there.

For the next few months, you secretly communicate. The stranger and you. The other woman and you. Your girl follows the routine: cooks you breakfast, washes your clothes, and kisses you each morning and before you shut your eyes. These don’t mean anything to you anymore. Your body is with her, but your heart is trying to escape.

And escape you do. Little by little.

You no longer respond to your girl’s “I love you’s”. For you, her value depreciates every day you look at her. She senses it. She’s not dumb. She questions what’s going on. What’s wrong with me? What’s lacking? I’m educated and independent and intelligent, but again, am I not enough?

You think it’s okay to play around. Your girl confronts you, but you lie. Hundred times. Maybe thousands. You tell her that everything’s okay. You’re just tired from work. It’s your boss. Your colleagues. It’s the book. The series. The weather.

Until one day, your phone rings as it receives a new message. Curious, your girl unlocks it using your thumb. You’re still asleep. She reads the text message from the stranger. The sender is named ‘Babe.’ The text says, “I miss you.” She uncovers the truth. She scrolls the thread. It’s been going on for a long time. The puzzles in her mind vanish in an instant. You’re a cheater.

She sobs. Alone. In another room of your just furnished house.

She thinks of confronting you, of waking you up. She imagines hurting you physically and calling you a liar. But she chooses not to engage in such quarrel. She knows her worth and packs her things. She left.

You wake up with her no longer around. There is silence…

And weeks later, your fling with the other woman stops. There’s a simple misunderstanding, and she deserts you without any explanation. It’s miserable. While you’re in your room, the memories of your girl visit you. You ponder on her value in your life. But there’s nothing you can do about it now.

You never see her again.

‘The Little Prince’ from a region in my heart

‘His hope of coming back and correcting his wrong have always floated into the whole flow of the story which were so pure and innocent – acts that we sometimes associate with weakness.’

I WAS seven when I first met him. A fleck of dust besmeared his face; his curly, golden hair and stylish, scarlet ribbon bow tie were pictured to have been enslaved by the wind freely drifting from a corner of his planet scarcely bigger than himself; his pale green coat’s motif suggested it was of foreign origin – from another universe even; his vision casted into the unknown while standing upright next to what looked like a tiny, active volcano spewing smoke and fumes. He was frozen in time. Alone. On a book’s front cover.

Written by French aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the thin, minuscule book was titled, “The Little Prince.” The story was about a pilot who was forced to land in the Sahara and encountered a mysterious young boy who claimed to be an extraterrestrial prince.

I intently stared at the book’s cover and paused for its strangeness. Then, I swiped the dust covering the little prince’s face with a piece of cloth. His eyes and nose and lips were minute dots or lines delicately plotted on a peculiar canvas. In a blink, a sensation ran through my veins like a river flowing tranquilly. It was as if he invited me in for an adventure – a black hole that came with a cathartic magnificence for an absence that has been lurking inside. There’s no way I could resist that.

You have to understand that I was never a book reader then. Just like most of the children my age in our neighborhood, I didn’t find pleasure in discovering fictional worlds created by minds I knew nothing about.

When the little prince had decided to leave his tiny planet to comprehend what love is after a rose with four thorns baffled his consciousness, he met a king, a conceited man, a tippler, a businessman, a lamplighter, a geographer, a fox, and an aviator.

During his stay on the seventh planet, on Earth, with the aviator, his loyalty to the lone rose on his planet has always been there. His hope of coming back and correcting his wrong have always floated into the whole flow of the story which were so pure and innocent – acts that we sometimes associate with weakness.

The little prince made me realize that there’s beauty and romance and dignity in self-discovery. He taught me that the best things in life can never be brought by the acquisition of what we’ve been working hard for and of what we’re expecting understandably well, but the silent arrival of the unseen, yes, of the mysterious gifts we have been unknowingly longing for which sometimes reveal themselves with a fleck of dust from an untouched region in our hearts. Because ultimately, what is essential is invisible to the eyes.

Truth be told, similar to what happened in our first encounter, I wasn’t expecting to see him about a month ago. I went on a visit to a bookstore closest to my workplace to inquire about the availability of a George Saunders book titled, “Tenth of December.” But there he was, stationed at a shelf near the entrance; something has changed in him. He was much bigger, his golden, curly hair was more radiant, and the intensity of the color of his coat was finer. He looked a little bit different from the one I had met one afternoon when I was seven who vanished when we moved in to our current home. A metamorphosis at its absolute form.

And as I was about to leave the bookstore, the cashier with a smile on her face asked me, “Sir, how about this one?” She waved in the air a copy of “The Little Prince” I had placed close to her station. Then, strangely, I found myself giving a ready answer I’ll never forget.

“I’ll keep him this time.”

On Love

‘And so, I hope you celebrate love with those who see you beyond your skin; those who look at you not just as a fleeting specimen in a universe that keeps on moving.’

IF YOU’RE single now and has no one to date with, it doesn’t mean that you’re supposed to feel lonely. It’s a state of mind. You’re unattached because you’re taking your time. You don’t want to settle. You want the one who’s yet to arrive to be The One. You’ve probably been hurt just recently, or you’ve never been in a relationship before, but that means you have an opportunity to discover yourself more – your gifts, your faults, your aspirations.

Some people dive into a relationship without a clear sense of who they are; they are befuddled on how to set boundaries; they’re clueless on what their expectations embody.

As you probably observed, conflict happens when miscommunication gets into the picture yes, when trust is tainted with infidelity and secrecy. Some of us think that a sensual message to a third-party won’t hurt the relationship; that it’s just a senseless game. But as days pass by, they’re succumbed to the claws of darkness, of forgetting all the words and promises they uttered. And one wonders how easy it is for them to move on; how convenient it is to jump from one fence to another.

Others think that everything’s going to be perfect. Their minds are still immature to the implications of saying “yes” to someone. There are those who give those they love access to everything they have even if they’re unprepared to its effects up to the point that they can no longer recognize who they are. They think of the other person as their world, and when that person commits a mistake, they treat their whole existence to be in vain. And that’s when they part ways. They can no longer endure the presence of who used to be their better half.

Because true love dwells to those who are willing to sacrifice and suffer. Nobody can expect each day to be light and tender and soothing. There will be bricks along the way and the only option is to get over them and to treat them not as fragments of hindrance, but as foundations to a long-lasting union.

To love is to give the other person a spacious, decent, and comfortable room to breathe, to be free to reach for their personal goals and full potential, and to have a voice on valuable causes as a contributor in building a brighter future for humanity. It may sound too momentous, mammoth-like even for some, but we do not exist to solely please one person and give their wants and needs. We’re here to unmask the greater reason of living. That day will come that all your frustrations will just be part of the past.

And so, I hope you celebrate love with those who see you beyond your skin; those who look at you not just as a fleeting specimen in a universe that keeps on moving. Because you deserve better and when the right person arrives, you’ll know it. Your heart will speak to them like you’ve known them before. And that moment is going to be so much more special than the maelstrom of flowers and chocolates presented on any given time of the day.

Beautiful things unfold in His time.

In search of solace

‘You’re reminded that this life is just a fleeting illusion; that you’re a humble traveler; and that this may come to an end in a snap. Today, you’re a towering figure of physique and fitness; tomorrow could be a different story. It’s not promised.’

I STARED at it for about five minutes yesterday at one in the morning. An untitled painting that measures roughly 4 feet by 3, it was displayed on a private hospital’s wall on the third floor with a maelstrom of kaleidoscopic koi of divergent sizes swimming around an imaginary cylinder clockwise under a dark blue water. The artwork was strangely cut into half vertically and was hanging slightly slanted 15 degrees to the right. The others which boasted abstract flashes of colors and astronomic designs stationed at different sections of the corridor were not presented the same way. I was absorbed and drawn by it; its peculiarity intrigued me.

I was all alone, wide awake, sitting on a brown, foamy bench outside the capacious visitors’ room, where my mom was sleeping, just ten feet away from the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The breeze was frigid; it was raining outside. I was waiting for the doctor to come out of the ICU to check for an update on one of my brothers’ condition. He had a mild stroke while sharing a meal with his own family in their house in Cavite City, south of Manila. Coincidentally, I was on a three-day vacation leave for my birthday. But how would you celebrate your birthday knowing that your family is amid a crisis?

 “Kuya Jun Jun is in the hospital” my youngest brother Ronnel said. 

“Why?” I uttered. “What happened?”

“High blood, probably” he said. “He had seizure.” In a heartbeat, my mother and I swiftly stuffed our bags with clothes and toiletries like soldiers about to engage in a daring hunt in a deserted forest. 

It must be very serious, I said to myself.

“To a hospital in General Trias, Cavite” I told the first cab driver who halted outside our small, white gate when he inquired where we’re headed at around ten on a Sunday evening. “Please, it’s an emergency, sir.”

“I’m not going south” he answered. And just like that with one of the side windows still half-open, he hastily left.

A huge weight of our exasperation and distress vanished when the next cab driver accepted our pleas. He had brought us to a terminal in Pasay City where we instantly found a bus that took us to our destination.

While travelling, thoughts came rushing on my mind like bolts of lightning in a stormy sky: it’s kuya Jun Jun and our memories together. Yes, our late-night conversations about religion, spirituality, wisdom, mysteries, science and technology, work. His brilliance and depth on a range of topics is impeccable. Tears abruptly rolled down my face. My mother did not witness it. 

When we arrived at the hospital, my mother and I were met with stories on what had transpired earlier that day. Plates flying in the air. Chicken tinola splattering all over. Convulsion. Lips turning black. Eyes moving involuntarily. Wailing children. Panic. Chaos.

But Emergency Rooms, ICUs, Dialysis Centers, and others put everything in perspective. In those moments that you’re encapsulated by impenetrable brick structures painted white all over, everything boils down to that quiet conversation between you and God. The rest of the universe becomes irrelevant: traffic and scandals on EDSA, inflation, MRT woes, #MeToo, possibilities with the person you admire most, child abuse, fake news, typhoons, President Duterte, war on drugs, Facebook and Instagram, poverty, corruption, politics, education, South West Monsoon, career aspirations, a taxicab’s plate number. You forget about them like transitory slides in your memory not to invalidate their value but to solve and face what’s urgent. Maybe, it’s the brain’s natural response in emergency situations. 

You’ve probably been there before. You asked why and wondered why it all happened. Yes, why it had to be you or your family.

You know all the answers to these inquiries by heart, but still, there’s a strange, ineluctable sensation when you’re amid it all – existing, breathing, and convincing yourself to be brave in the challenge given to you. You’re reminded that this life is just a fleeting illusion; that you’re a humble traveler; and that this may come to an end in a snap. Today, you’re a towering figure of physique and fitness; tomorrow could be a different story. It’s not promised.

You hope. You say your prayer without anybody noticing. You reach out to a higher being in spite of all your flaws, faults, and shortcomings, Because the situation is beyond the grasp of your hands, of your humanity, of everyone who knows you.

Then, you pause. You can see the minute, fine details. Paths become clearer. Because you believe that everything happens for a reason. You try to make sense of the test you’re faced with. With the waves of life arriving from every direction, it’s facile to forget the essence of one’s existence. Sometimes, in order for us to be reawakened and to reevaluate our decisions, our steps, and our mindset, inexplicable events have to transpire. And right there, in the mist of confusion, doubts, and tears, is where we can only genuinely ruminate what we’re made of.

In the hit thriller movie, A Quiet Place, a family must live life in silence while hiding from sightless extraterrestrial creatures with hypersensitive hearing, indestructible armored skin and attack anything that makes noise. In parallel to the reality, there are monsters in life that we have to deal with whether we like them or not. We have no idea how they look like, their form, or how they would affect us, but to survive and get through them, we have to stick with our principles and with our loved ones as a unit with trust, courage, and faith. 

In the end, after I had convinced myself to stand in front of the painting and equably fixed it in its place, the doctor informed me that kuya was no longer in the critical state. I expeditiously thanked God for his help and mercy. Then, I took a second look at the painting and discovered that there was a total of twenty-eight kaleidoscopic koi swimming around the imaginary cylinder. To my astonishment, it’s the same number of years I just turned to carry across my name on a frigid morning on my birthday. A coincidence? I refuse to think so. For me, it’s an incalculable gift sent from heaven.

In my grief, I found solace.

For Those Who Are Still Hurting, You Are Not Alone

NO, I’M not going to ask you to forget those who caused you pain; those who made you feel small; those who crumpled your person like a piece of paper with their declarations and actions. No, not now.

You know deep within you that you treated them fairly. You undressed your soul under the scorching heat of their presence even if little by little, you’re being burnt. When you smiled at them and whispered your dreams, all you were thinking was the future you’ll subtly paint together on a blank canvas; you were firmly holding your brush without knowing that they were about to let go of theirs.

You accepted them for their persistence. There was a radiant glow in your eyes. They cherished you more than anyone you crossed paths with. And for the first time, someone stared at you the same way you peer at the sunset. Heartfelt. Intimate. Poetic…

You remember everything like it happened yesterday: endless late-night conversations; surprises; secrets; passwords; contact numbers; favorite song, color, artist, coffee flavor, and travel destination; and yes, surreal moments.

You thought they were the one. You saw the signs you were looking for since childhood. You’ve been showered with sunrises. You sincerely whispered to the universe that if you’ll ever meet them, you’ll love them with all you have, with every cell of your body. You expected to set sail smoothly with them while holding their hands and you found yourself in a pit of desperation when you realized that you’ve mistaken; that everything was a fleeting illusion to your preconceived idea of romantic love.

Yes, doubts pierced through your heart. You shut off your closest friends and family and sought for an end to your sufferings. You imagined things you’ve never anticipated to ever invade your awareness.

They disrespected and betrayed you. They didn’t hear your pleas. They were self-absorbed. You convinced yourself that you’re supposed to suffer because that’s what the protagonists in some of the famed movies, novellas, and stories dictated the whole of humanity to be. Suddenly, you could no longer recognize who you are. Every snippet of your conviction, principle, and idealism was gone. And in your core, a burrow scored by their absence lurks like a fictional character who’s about to consume the remaining rays of hope you have. It was dark, murky, and leaden. But please, do not give in.

Let your pillows be witnesses to your grief. Cry and weep and wail until the river of tears dry up. Be consumed with the majestic beauty of literature and the arts. Courageously go on an adventure in other fields and dimensions you’ve never encountered before. Reinvigorate your to-do list. Do things at your own pace. Listen.

Listen to your friends and family when they attempt to comfort you. They’ve always been there for you at the glimpses of your best performances and achievements. Don’t deprive them to be with you at your worst. They saw you at the extent you can never visualize and translate into words in the past; they’ll surely accept you.

Listen to the one gazing at you from the future: the fiercer you. What is life if we get everything we want and prayed for at the moment we expected them to greet us? Where’s thrill, excitement, and pleasure in not challenging the maelstrom of hardships around us? Didn’t we question everything at one point, our decisions, our gifts, our value as a person?

Because today, I’m not asking you to forget the hurt and pain and trouble they inflicted on you; no, not even to show you the path and steps to forgiveness. Instead, may this remind you that there’s someone who believes in you; that in time, all wounds will be healed.

Meaning breathes from tales of triumphs, overcoming of odds, and facing life’s battles head-on. I hope you embrace the process and rediscover yourself all over again. And when the ashes of frustrations of the past subside on the horizon, may your desire to be a comeback story the same way millions of people on the face of this planet strive to do each day overwhelm your heart with interminable virility.

This is a gasping proof that you are not alone.

(Thought Catalog published this piece on the 3rd of May 2018.)

When You Finally Find Her, Fight For Her

WHEN YOU at long last met her, don’t expect her to instantly reciprocate your smile, affection, and care. She’s been through a lot and she wouldn’t deftly bare the fountain of her being for you to quench your thirst for every imaginable speck of curiosity you have about her. She’s witnessed them all: the mundane, the humdrum, and the lackluster. The passing of time made her deeply understand the footnotes for every arrival and departure; that the goodbyes of some are inevitable and to be replaced in someone’s heart is a thriving possibility.

When you ultimately decided to solemnly know her, expect her to push you away. Prepare not to cruise on a newly furnished highway complete with post lights and signs but be introduced into a concrete jungle of questions and uncertainties. There will be bricks and tests and sobbing. She easily trusted some people before but they betrayed her and like the morning mist along the shores, no trace of them can be found anymore. Yes, they left without any explanation with all their vows and promises.

When your paths at length crossed, always remind yourself that you only have one chance to be with her. In a world clad with so many options and choices, it’s facile and tempting to believe that someone will come along after her; that there’s a better, more alluring, and more brilliant soul waiting for you; that beyond the horizon is somebody else who’s a better fit to your personality. The truth is, there will always be someone more quick-witted, funnier, and exquisite than her. But remember that she’s more than the generalizations you can imagine. She’s greater than every conceivable affirmative adjective that your mind can pinpoint and grasp.

When your hearts eventually encounter each other, do everything to keep her. Focus on the little things and then to the complex, the grandeur, the complicated differences in your beliefs, principles, and roots. There’s excitement in novelty, in the realization that after a long time of waiting, you’re in each other’s arms. The days and the nights will be unlike before. The sun will shine brighter, everything will feel lighter, and the moon and stars will be clothed with poetry and rhymes. The clouds will have rejuvenated meanings and symbolism and together, you’ll joyfully search for their formations rudderless flowing above. Suddenly, you’ll dance with her under the pouring rain with a kind of music not dictated by external devices but by the voices entangled within you to celebrate life, to forget for a moment all the worries and frustrations both of you should endure.

When you, at last, see her, you may sense discomfort, banishment, and dismissal on her part. Over time, she has convinced herself that she won’t be needing anybody else in her life. She’s strong and confident and equipped with her dreams and passions. Doubts will enter your consciousness on whether you’ll pursue her or not. Recognize that if she’s gone this far, why would she crave for someone to be with her? But no matter how strenuous she is, be there for her. Be courageous and determined. Show your sincerity. Cheer her up, support her, and open her mind to a world she’s never been to before. Prove to her that being alone can be a thing of the past; that you have arrived.

Because when you finally found her, no matter how thirsty and yearning and hankering you are to discover the reservoir of the fountain of her being, you have to be patient. Brace yourself. Stand next to her. Pitch your most cherished coin. Listen. Splatter…

And when you’re both ready, drink.

(Thought Catalog published this piece on the 19th of April 2018.)

22. You saw her

And for a moment, everything made sense.

If You Genuinely And Sincerely Love Her, You Will Love Her Like This

IF YOU love her without pretense, you will welcome the thick, towering walls she had built for herself even before you met her. You’ll not try to shatter or see them as adversaries you have to defeat to find her, to finally have a glimpse of the beguiling soul contently breathing in its innermost and deepest realm. Instead, you’ll embrace them as august fragments of her being. You’ll be patient until she greets you with her infectious laughter and beaming smile because you never deserted her.

If you really love her, you will not entertain the idea of dating anybody else who obviously showed their intent to be with you, to talk to you, to get to know you better. Just the idea of you being with someone else will haunt you. You’ll mightily close your eyes and shut your ears whenever a temptation knocks on your door and windows and imagination. Yes, she’s onerous to decipher but you’ll not stop and give her up just because you’re uncertain about how she feels about you. You’ll not make excuses to forget the words and promises you uttered while holding her hands when you were starting. You’ll hope and wait for her ‘Yes’. You’ll continue to court her even after she confessed that the feeling is mutual.

If you truly love her, you will not leave her hanging. You’ll be brave to tell her how you feel even if your whole body is trembling and the cup of coffee or hot lemon tea you’re holding is splattering brought by her presence. You’ll be honest with her even if you’re scared of being rejected because you know she’s worth it.

If you fervently love her, you will accept her flaws and imperfections. You’ll not use them as your reserved ammunitions and weapons in times of misunderstanding and quarrel. You’ll not bring up her past for you know it will hurt her. You’ll think about what’s best for her and treat her as a valuable vessel, a gift, an answered prayer. You’ll forgive her the same way you exonerate yourself when you commit mistakes and shortcomings.

If you earnestly love her, you will recognize her talents, dreams, and aspirations. You’ll not regard her as a blind, emotionless follower to all your wants and needs. You’ll honor and respect her all the time and view her as a partner in facing each morning’s challenges and surprises. You’ll celebrate her triumphs as yours and will be an unfailing shoulder to cry on in times of grief. You’ll support her in her own endeavors for you know that her success and yours are key ingredients for your connection to continue to flourish and bloom to a greater form.

If you authentically love her, you will set aside your ego and will listen to her thoughts and views. You’ll not degrade her person or abuse her confidence in you. You’ll be transparent in all your dealings and you’ll not hide critical information to her that has a direct effect on your relationship. You’ll safeguard her trust all days of your life.

If you seriously love her, you will shower her with your warmth, artistry, and poetry. With joy, you’ll write her essays and lyrics and letters not just on days or nights you feel like it. You’ll secretly take photographs of her or paint the minute details of her personage on a canvas. Yes, there will be times when you’re occupied, tired, and fed up with life’s expectations and demands, but you’ll make time to be with her even if she doesn’t ask for it. You’ll relentlessly remind her of her beauty, of her strengths, of her brilliance when you sense that she forgets them. You’ll vibrantly reminisce the moments in your past when she made you feel unsure whether she’ll accept you or not; how she single-handedly brought you into a peculiar world you’ve never been before. You’ll sing her songs and dance with her when she’s weary and frustrated and jaded; when failures unceasingly try to put her down and make her doubt the glaring possibilities of tomorrow.

And if you genuinely and sincerely love her, you will be faithful in her presence or absence; whether you hear her voice or not; whether she’s sitting next to you or hundreds if not thousands of miles away.

Because if the kind of love you have for her is pure and untainted, it will reveal itself over time and if you’re fated to be together, she will stay with you with all her thick, towering walls vanished forever.

(Thought Catalog published this piece on the 3rd of April 2018.)

Finding Ica and the search for online delicadeza

‘Can I tell these to him or her in person?’

AS THE missing posters of 17-year-old Ica Policarpio with the hashtag #FindIca went viral on social media sites, speculations ruled the public’s consciousness. Sympathy poured for Ica’s family, which has been magnified and deemed serious with the participation of some celebrities in search of a teenager they do not know personally. But with it were excruciating judgments.

She surely eloped with her boyfriend, one declared. Worse, another one added, she’s been kidnapped, raped, killed and then dumped in a creek or river somewhere just like the others. 

When I read these pronouncements, I sulked. I linked my hands at the back of my head with disgust and my appetite to finish reading Miguel Syjuco’s book titled Ilustrado during the holidays has been halted. I went into a familiar state nowadays of those who consume social media for entertainment, news, and expression. It’s the state of puzzlement with the current condition of human behavior, motivations, and values tainted by indifference, insensitivity and lack of natural affection that we witness online. And then, questions arose out of nowhere. 

How did some of us become this harsh online? When did some of us start fashioning careless, lethargic comments to our fellowmen without having full knowledge of the context, the background, and the facts of the trending topic? Why didn’t we consider the subject herself, of her possible reaction after the smoke vanished and the stream of emotions died down? Why did we forget the cinch fact that Ica is a minor and must be given special care and treatment? 

Days after interviews with some of the members of her family have been conducted and the online world still starving with answers, a netizen’s tweet helped find her. 

It’s the 23rd of December. A selfie captured her sitting behind a group of girls while reading a book just outside a coffee shop in a mall. She was all by herself and was later found crying at a carinderia in San Pablo City. Evidently, she’s lost and was going through a “deep emotional distress”.

It was a sweet, mirthful news which ended her more than 60-kilometer journey from Muntinlupa City to Laguna province. Her father immediately asked for understanding and appealed for privacy. But it wasn’t a fairy tale that saw its conclusion with a simple “happily ever after.” No, not when your sympathizers at one point have been fed with fake news and lies in the past. 

Reactions surfaced on my feed. Triumph. Empathy. Tears. Smileys. Doubt. Demands. Closure. 

From a beloved figure, some people described Ica as “papansin,” “bratinella,” and “spoiled brat” among others. Her name has been ridiculed and dragged to the pit of shame online. We deserve an explanation, one of my Facebook friends posted with a hint that Ica probably had taken on a dare called ‘Game of 72’ which involves challenging a friend to go missing for 72 hours without providing any information or update to the family and make certain they panic. 

Have you ever wondered about it? 

As we welcomed the new year based on Gregorian calendar, an opinion poll conducted by Gallup International ranked the Philippines as the third-happiest country in the world. This reaffirmed our optimism and belief that there are still millions of reasons to cheer for. But this is being overshadowed by those moments when we find ourselves actively bullying and ridiculing an individual online. 

Yes, there are hardships all around us. Yes, we face multisectoral challenges that can never be solved by the strongman in Malacañang alone. Yes, our patience is on the brink of exploding brought by the inefficient services we experience everyday of our lives. Yes, we’re tired. But these do not give us the license to be rude to a stranger online. These do not warrant us to be unfair, to be blinded to reason and justice. 

The comments section and our “What’s on your mind” space became our modern day diaries: personal yet at times destructive. We saw avenues for our frustrations, rants, and uninformed opinions to exist. We freely share, post, and treat them as mere constellation of “words” which do not have the capacity to kill someone. But no, we unknowingly commit an unspeakable heinous crime every time we forget that behind each name or photo or poster is a person who just like us has dreams, aspirations, and identity; that similarly, that person has vulnerabilities and is facing battles deep within him or her. 

In every interaction, online or not, politeness, respect and delicadeza are valuable. Before we post or comment, we should first pause and ask ourselves: Can I tell these to him or her in person?

Ica made us realize how limited our grasp is of the reality, of our understanding of the mental health in our country, and how some of us lose ourselves believing that we are entitled for a clamant, elaborate, and intricate explanation on what really had transpired on a trending topic even if the party we cared for asked for space and privacy.

In the future, God willing, when she’s ready and the pain no longer rests in her heart and soul, Ica may go back and choose to have a glimpse at the news reports, the articles, and the posts with hashtag #FindIca on her disappearance. And on that day, at that moment, I would like to tell her that even if I’m a stranger to her, I would like her to remember that she’s not alone. ‘Every teenager is both a hero and a failure,’ Syjuco said in Ilustrado. ‘When we become adults we have to choose where in the middle we’ll be.’ No matter what, she should never give up. Instead, she should be a hero to herself and those around her. I’m glad she found her way back home. Every time, she should remind herself that with God’s help and mercy, she can. 

Madness

Challenge me in ways that I’ve
never been challenged
before

Show me things – grand and minute,
subtle and bold, and let’s get drunk
on each other’s fascinations

Let’s not be mediocre, forever
threading what the men and women
before us built for themselves

Be mad at me, really mad,
to the extreme extent not
brought by hatred but
of love

Love me, show me, tell
me every day, every
hour, every time
the sun’s rays
visit your lips

Stay while the storm
displays its wrath, the
noise around us, all the doubts –
be with me still

For you’re my hiding place,
my refuge, the light in
a world that has gone crazy –
sit next to me.

Tanaw

Pilit niyakap ang katahimikan
sa pagitan, sa kawalan ng
salita na nag-uugnay sa
mga kaluluwa

Naglaho ang dating pagsinta,
ang galak sa puso sa tuwing
naririnig ang tinig, ang
tuwa na hindi maisaysay
ng bibig

Dumarating ang araw na
gaya ng magnanakaw –
pino ang kilos, tumakas ang
kaluskos, ‘di mabanaag na
pagbabadya

Dito natatapos ang lahat –
sa paggapos sa idinidikta
ng puso, sa pagkitil sa pagasa
ng pagsasama, sa pagtitig sa mata
nang ilang sandali pa at ang pagtalikod
sa mga pangarap na hinabi ng panahon

Nagtatalo ang isip kung saan nagkamali,
kung anong dapat baguhin, ang dapat ibawas
at idagdag sa sarili, bagama’t nalalaman na
wala nang iba sapagka’t iniisip na ang pagdating
ay dulot ng taimtim na paghihintay,
sa pagiwas, sa kusang pagtalima

Nguni’t ipakikilala ng araw ang
nakatakda, ang nararapat maganap, ang
hindi maabot ng tanaw, ang nasa
malayo – ang hiling
sa dalangin.

Mirror

SOMEDAY, YOU’LL forget about him. You’ll forget about how he made you laugh, yes, even how he made you feel special and appreciated; how he encouraged you to reach your dreams; how he dared you to challenge your own standards and principles; how days seemed to pass by faster than how they should be; how each morning greeted you with hope that you’ll wake up next to him. Someday, all that will be left of him in your memory is the hurt he caused, the sadness he inflicted on you for days or weeks or months, and that moment when you looked at the mirror and saw yourself small. You doubted yourself because of him. But choose to forgive for the future – your future.

Time will pass by and you may forget some details. But he never will – both the smile and the sorrow.

Resistance

Peace will smile at her someday and she’ll try to resist how she feels. But she’ll smile back anyway.

‘Consistency’ not ‘Intensity’

IF YOU know deep within you that you love someone, don’t settle for anybody else. Don’t call or text or entertain those who express their intent to know you, to be with you. Don’t waste time and energy by giving others hope for your affection. Be courageous enough to tell them how you feel. Choose the one that you love despite all the mysteries, the uncertainties. Be loyal, sincere, and faithful even if all that’s in between you is silence. Relationships, the genuine ones, do not exist because of intensity. They don’t happen overnight or by pouring all the emotions in one sitting. They come into being through consistency. To be willing to listen, to give in, and to put the other person first; to be committed all the time. And nothing is more satisfying than being stared at by someone you waited for because you did not settle with all the tempting, enticing, and riveting roadblocks along the way.

Fire and Water

He’s fire.
She’s water.
When she tries to be with him, pieces of her turn into vapors. The wind takes them away; they are nowhere to be found. But she craves to be consumed. To sense his warmth. To forget for a moment the cold feeling inside. To decide on her own. Because only then, she’s reminded on how to be alive. She’s still searching for the missing pieces. Yes, up to this day to feel his touch all over again. And he’s waiting for her.

Selfless

YOU DESERVE someone selfless.
Every day.
Every hour.
No, not just on your first two years together when everything’s perfect, smooth, and light.
When you seem to own the world as your eyes meet.
When the outside noise is irrelevant; their opinions, their voices in the background.
You deserve someone who doesn’t put you down but strives for you to reach your full potential.
You deserve someone who stands up for you, who fights for you and who will never give up on you no matter how difficult you can be sometimes.
You deserve someone who chooses you every time.
Keep that someone and be selfless as well.

17. The sun’s up

“We are spirited away from the meaning of everything because of all the noise, news, frenzy, trends, and flash reports.”

WHEN DID you last look up at the sky to appreciate the heat and light coming out from the sun? When did you last pause to see the finer details of life?

We’re all busy doing a lot of stuffs. There’s a mountain of responsibilities and deadlines that have to be met and sometimes, these things exhaust us. I know the feeling. I understand. But because of all these things, we sometimes forget to give ourselves a break; to reflect and once and for all determine to ourselves the essentials of everyday existence, the reason behind everything, our ends.

While we understand that everything that we see is fleeting, we’re consumed by our own doing. We are spirited away from the meaning of everything because of all the noise, news, frenzy, trends, and flash reports.

Today is a start to do otherwise.

Give thanks and smile at the Starbucks crew who prepared your drink and wrote your name on its container. Help that old woman at the stairs on her way to the train station’s ticket booth. Press that up or down button when you see a hopeful passenger rushing to get inside the elevator when you got off. Yes, even if she’s few meters away; sacrifice a lit bit.

If you have spare time, remind yourself of the joy you had when one afternoon you just stared at how nature moves: the ants as they transport their food or tirelessly search for one, the waves of the ocean that bring peace inside, the wind that caresses you every time, and the sun as she continuously glows with your appreciation or not.

And say, “There’s more to life than this.”

15. Pluviophiles

“It’s when raining that everything makes sense.”

I LOVE it whenever it rains. I like the cold weather, the bed weather, the suspension of classes (when I was still at school) because of the heavy rain. I like listening to the sound of every drop, the tiny and huge ones; the roof asking for mercy on its never-ending greetings.

They call us Pluviophiles, those who find joy and peace of mind during rainy days. For a number of times, I bicycled while it was raining, played basketball with my friends during a downpour, finished reading a book in one sitting while there’s a typhoon, and challenged myself to a 10K road run while everyone’s inside their houses watching programs on tv or savoring their hot, flavorful soup.

Rain cleanses our roads and reveals our inability to follow simple rules like throwing our garbage at the right place. Whenever it rains continuously, some areas become flooded. You can see plastic bottles and plastic bags floating; street kids diving into the murky water as if it’s a swimming pool.

Rain transforms us. More likely, traffic’s everywhere. People are on the rush to escape, to get off the road, to reach their destinations. But if you’re stuck, moods change, conversations become lighter, and we get to see and observe the little things around us.

It’s when raining that everything makes sense.

An Open Letter To ‘Kita Kita’ (I See You)

“We realized what we’ve been missing, what we’ve been waiting for, what it takes for us to willingly go to a theater and spend a little amount to treat film as an art form, an experience, and arm ourselves with so much respect to our culture and our gifts as a people.”

Dear you,

At a time when we grew tired of being bombarded with films with worn out formulas and endless sequels, you came as a delightful surprise. We felt helpless when the news broke that the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) changed its format all over again and chose to revert to its old self which saw the return of familiar staples in the annual showcase. But being pulled out of last year’s roll of MMFF movies with all the controversy that surrounded it is the best thing that happened to you. 

You are an unexpected visitor in our consciousness and so, I would like you to have this that we may not forget each other as time passes by. Let me reminisce the memories we had the same way Tonyo and Lea (played by comedian Empoy Marquez and award-winning actress Alessanda de Rossi respectively) did. It’s about an hour and a half of a roller coaster ride that you and I experienced together. Let me start counting: 

One. One bicycle ride of Lea in the introduction and it hit me. I remembered a scene in the 2000 South Korean romantic television drama Autumn in My Heart where the main characters were biking on their way home from school. The background music was captivating. Lea’s vibrant face greeted us with a smile. Her eyes were magical. 

Two. Two questions popped inside my head: Firstly, did Alessandra and Empoy really act?  And secondly, is it true that they’re not friends before? It’s as if cameras were positioned in front of them and everything just unfolded, like in a reality show. It’s as if they’ve known each other so well that we felt the comfort in every pat on the shoulder, hands, and sometimes on the face. We saw ourselves in them, on how we deal with our friends and loved ones.

Three. Three elements made you outstanding: unconventional love team, cinematography, sincerity. Infested with ‘pabebe’ love teams around, the pairing of Empoy and Alessandra is something that we’ve never seen before. The visual texture of the film, the pacing, the overall mood are remarkable. As a country that has gone crazy with South Korean dramas, you captured us with pleasing imagery all shot in a foreign land: a garden with various types of flowers, plain green fields, rain. But more than these, you’ve shown us sincerity. Yes, sincerity that we’ve not felt in Filipino movies in a long time. I sensed it in every line, in every laughter whenever a joke is delivered.

Four. Four producers gambled on you. Piolo Pascual, film director Joyce Bernal, Erickson Raymundo and Suzanne Shayne Sarte made it possible for you to exist. It’s a difficult time for producing films. How many film studios have gone bankrupt in the Philippines? How many creatives and writers tried but failed? But they saw something in you. They saw your potential and cleaved to that. They’ve displayed courage all throughout the process which is a great example to us. 

Five. Five times I tried to stop myself from crying. Five times I saw those sitting at my left shed tears because of you. 

Six, seven.  Six or seven times I reminded my mother who’s in her sixties to refrain from giving her comments to some scenes for it might distract the other audience members. In the past, we would humorously tell her to not sleep inside the theater or she’ll miss the flow of events. But for the first time since she got her senior citizen I.D. card which gives her the privilege to watch movies in all theaters in our city for free, she did not fall asleep watching you. You got that hook. 

Eight. Yes, for eight instances I watched your trailers. It is also the number of times I hoped that you’ll be a blockbuster. I felt how your writer and director, Sigrid Andrea Bernardo, attempted to offer us a novel recipe that we can enjoy and be proud of. And she succeeded. No pretensions. No awful chemistry. No forced twists in the story. 

Nine. You left me with nine trademarks that will forever stay with me: cabbage, teddy bear, banana, heart, bell, bowls of ramen, Sapporo beer cans, paper cranes, and baby dragonfly. You gave each of them a different meaning that has never entered our imagination before. You thought us how to look at the minute details, the small things, and know how to value them. 

Ten. Ten million pesos was the amount of money that has been spent to bring you to life. But you know what? Because of that amount, we got to see ourselves better. We realized what we’ve been missing, what we’ve been waiting for, what it takes for us to willingly go to a theater and spend a little amount to treat film as an art form, an experience, and arm ourselves with so much respect to our culture and our gifts as a people. 

They say that your success banked on word of mouth. But I believe, it is because of word of heart. Our hearts finally spoke after a long time of silence and we just listened to them. You are a relief, a refreshing reminder of who we are as Filipinos. You made us believe again on our creative capacity, on our genius when it comes to storytelling, and on our distinct voice deep within us; that we may see and love even with our eyes closed.

Thank you for everything.

Sincerely yours,

Kabayan

13. Family dogs

“It was in his second month with us that the answer to why some owners sleep next to their dogs came to me.”

I USED to hate dogs. I used to cringe every time I see one wandering on the streets under the open sky, near our house, or even inside my room. They’ll bark at you unceasingly if you’re a stranger to them. Some will bite you without any notice or voluntarily and confidently share their saliva by licking your feet, your hands or sometimes your toes.

I can still remember how I told myself that I will never touch a dog again. In my childhood, one afternoon, our family dog bit me on my right cheek while I was eating a crispy fried chicken leg. My mom immediately approached me and tried to disinfect the wound with soap and running water. Her grip of the nozzle is still vivid in my memory. I couldn’t understand the gravity of what happened and the possible consequences of being bitten by our dog then. I didn’t know that it has to be taken seriously.

After going through careful examinations in the hospital, my mom told me to be brave because I had to be injected with Rabies vaccine just to make sure. I took more than five shots. All the doctors were fond of saying the same thing every time they held my arms: “Be a man… It’s just like a bite of an ant.” 

But one day that fear vanished inside. Everything changed when my younger brother bought an apple head Chihuahua in a pet store in the neighboring city. My family named him Chua and he greets me whenever I get home. He runs so fast that those sleeping in our living room have no choice but to be awakened. No, it’s not because of his short, loud cry but because he runs over them. He’s a consistent and amenable welcome committee member.

Wagging tail. Tiny paws. Hanging tongue.

I would play with him as he nuzzles my leg and my anxieties would temporarily exit my mind. My initial distaste for him transformed into delight. It was in his second month with us that the answer to why some owners sleep next to their dogs came to me.

With the right fit and timing, fun will show itself naturally. Give it some time.

12. Discovering that you are a creator, an artist

“Fail. Stand up. Discover the creator, the artist in you even if sometimes it’s scary.”

IF YOU see yourself as a creative, do not give up. If you believe that you are an artist, embrace and nurture your craft. If you think that every cell of your body directs you to do more, to work on your passion, to reach the farthest limits of your imagination, try. And if an idea pops up in your head out nowhere, while you’re brushing your teeth, while taking a bath, while pouring tomato sauce on your plate to make your special dish, while walking, jogging, or sprinting, while waiting for the one that you love in a cafe, Japanese restaurant, or on a bench somewhere, while reading a book, or while riding a bicycle, a car, or a seesaw in a park, listen.

The world is filled with people who call themselves artists and poets and writers but do not know when to listen and be brave enough to spend their time to give their art its own form, life, and space. They do not want to feed themselves with new perspectives. Everyone is born a creator but not all of us are courageous enough to face its inexplicable faces, its inescapable enigma.

Fail. Stand up. Discover the creator, the artist in you even if sometimes it’s scary. I know because it frightened me to write this.

But we both know that there’s no other way.

Na-‘Kita Kita’

“Siyam na beses din akong aasa na hudyat ito sa muling pagtitiwala nating mga Filipino na kaya nating makagawa ng quality films na tatangkilikin at pararangalan maging sa international stage.”

HAYAAN MONG gaya nina Tonyo at Lea, magbibilang ako:

Isa. Isa kang rebelasyon, Empoy. Pinahanga mo kami. Matagal ko nang naisip na higit ka pa sa pagiging komedyante, isa kang artista. Naramdaman ko ‘yon noon dahil ‘ika nga nila, kapag komedyante ka, marami kang hugot, maraming pinagdaanan. Salamat pinatawa mo ‘ko sa sinehan kasama ang pamilya ko ng ilang beses. Maraming pinaiyak ang sulat mo.

Dalawa. Dalawang tanong ang nabuo sa isip ko habang pinapanood kita, Alex: una, umarte ka ba?; pangalawa, bakit parang ang tagal n’yo nang magkasama ni Empoy? Parang ang nangyari eh tinapatan ka ng camera, kinilig at lumabas ang dimple nang natural, at ayun! pelikula. Salamat sa mga patak ng luha mo sa dulo ng obra. Hanggang ngayon, hindi makamove-on yung ate ko sa napanood niya.

Tatlo. Tatlong elemento ang kapansin-pansing angat ang pelikula: unexpected love team, cinematography, at pacing. Pang-international yung dating. Salamat direk Sigrid Andrea Bernardo. Isa kang alamat! Hinangaan ko ang bawat eksena at anggulo. Nakagawa ka ng isang produkto na may kombinasyon ng lahat ng mga nabanggit na kinunan sa ibang bayan.

Apat. Apat ang producers ng pelikula: Piolo Pascual, Direk Joyce Bernal, Erickson Raymundo at Suzanne Shayne Sarte. Maraming salamat sa pagtaya. Sa panahon na nilalangaw ang industriya ng pelikulang Filipino eh naglakas-loob kayong gumawa, magisip, at magpuyat. Salamat sa pagpapanumbalik ng tiwala sa talento natin bilang mga storytellers at creators. Salamat sa respetong ibinigay ninyo sa aming mga manonood. Nabusog kami sa halakhak, lungkot, musika, saging, puso, at tunog ng kampana.

Lima, Anim, Pito. Naglalaro dito ang dami ng beses na pinaalalahanan ko ang nanay ko sa pagbibigay niya ng komento sa mga eksena. Madilim ang sinehan, maraming tao, at oo libre ang senior citizen sa sine sa Makati area.

Walo. Walong minuto bago mag-umpisa, ang haba ng pila para makabili ng cheese popcorn. Sa pagmamasid sa paligid, ilang dipa lang ang layo ng ilang tv personalities na nagaabang: Julius Babao, Bubbles Paraiso, Raymond Gutierrez. Physically fit na nga si Raymond gaya ng nabalita.

Siyam. Siyam na beses kong pinanood ang trailer. Siyam na beses din akong umasa na sana maging blockbuster movie ito ngayong taon matapos ipull-out last minute sa MMFF 2016. Siyam na beses din akong maniniwala na hudyat ito sa muling pagtitiwala nating mga Filipino na kaya nating makagawa ng quality films na tatangkilikin at pararangalan maging sa international stage.

Sampu. Sampung milyong piso ang budget ng pelikula. Inasahan ng mga producers na kikita ito ng 50 hanggang 60 milyong piso. Sa huling ulat, umabot na ito sa 200 milyong piso. Samantalang hindi ang takilya ang sukatan ng value ng isang work of art, gaya ng pangunahing karakter nito sa una, may higit pa sa nakikita ng mga mata. May ipinaramdam ang ‘Kita Kita’ sa mga manonood na matagal nilang hindi naramdaman sa ipinalabas na mga pelikula sa Pilipinas.

9. Birthday bash!

“Because each year is not promised. Open yourself up. Choose to be free.”

ALTHOUGH IT’S something that has been planned weeks ago (and even if it’s in my Outlook calendar), still, attending a birthday bash at work adds a sense of enjoyment inside.

There are games and songs and Q&As and strangers in a room full of balloons, cakes, and gifts wrapped in variety of colors. But do you know what’s more exciting than these things? It’s the chance to be reminded that one day in the past, you were born, may be, surrounded by relatives and nurses and doctors who were all smiles looking at you – the newest arrival, the cutest creature, the innocent one. It’s hard not to put value into it. It’s difficult to comprehend everything that had to happen for someone like you to exist: your parents met, they fell in love, decided to raise a family, hardships and challenges in between. They never cowered to face life head on to nurture you, to give you the best life they could give, that you may grow up to be a good person. Again, good. Good which sometimes we take for granted because of the menacing distractions around us.

And so, if you’re in your twenties, or thirties, or in your senior years, give yourself a break, play and jump and laugh just because you want to as you completely cross-out the 365 days that have passed. Because each year is not promised. Open yourself up. Choose to be free. Be birthday bashed!

Collision

IT’S NO longer a question of who’s braver, of who made the first move, or of who wrote the first letter. It’s all about how your universes collided. It’s about that one moment you saw each other differently; when the sun started to shine brighter; when time seemed to pass by faster; when you pictured the future together with no ounce of doubt in between. It’s the certainty of us at each sunrise that makes other things secondary like transitory blank slides. It’s about choosing each other every morning as you take life’s unpredictable rides.

An Open Letter To The Woman I’m Going To Fall In Love With

“In that moment when you wanted to give up, when you feel like I don’t exist, I will show up not with a tie and suit and greasy hair; not as a fountain of answers to all your worries; not as a dashing prince charming riding a white horse under the summer sun.”

(La Nourrice, Georges Seurat, 1884-85)

Dear you,

I know you’ve been waiting for me to finally come along, for us to meet, to have that ‘slow mo’ moment, for one of your dreams to be granted, for you to believe in the power of a prayer again, but please understand why it’s taking a little longer.

I still got a lot of growing up left to do. I have to understand myself better: strengths and weaknesses, what trips me off, what excites me, my motivations and aspirations, my personal goals. No doubt, I’ll commit mistakes and will get hurt so that when we finally meet, I’m stronger and more prepared to face the tides of life with you.

Please keep believing. Believe on the goodness of people. Don’t put up those walls right away when you meet a stranger you do not like. They may not have the same perspectives as you do, but who knows, they may have good and pure hearts. Give them a chance, learn to listen to their stories if the situation asks for it. Be there when they need a shoulder to lean on. Of course, it is inevitable that there are those who look like a saint on the surface but a beast inside. Be sensitive enough to distinguish and identify them as early as you can. Test them. Protect yourself always.

Never cease praying. No, don’t just pray for me, a yet unknown soul in a planet of about 9 billion people. Pray for your family, your country, and those who are in the midst of conflicts on different parts of the world. I think about them the same way I think about you. Just the thought of you fuels me to face each day with cheer in my core. I wonder how you look like, the tone of your voice, your laughter, your eyes, how you wear your hair…

I don’t want us to just be passive citizens of the world but contributors and workers for other people to be awakened to the reality that we should care about each other; that they may transform their societies towards the echelon of authentic progress.

Travel. I want you to discover other cultures and understand that we’re but a speck of dust in the vast universe. Learn another language, try their delicacies, and savor the warmth of their welcome. Take photos with them with a smile on your face so that when our hearts finally meet, we’ll share our experiences and learn from each other.

In theaters, I will hold your hand. We’ll laugh and cry and be scared to death together. By then, we’ll buy large-size popcorn. We’ll visit every museum, art gallery, and exhibit that we like for us to reconnect with the beauty of history and appreciate the passion and dedication that dignified men and women who have existed even before you and I were born have poured to their works. We’ll have infinite exchanges of our favorite songs and music artists and we’ll sing together whenever possible. I vow to be a loyal audience member of your every concert performance; the intimate ones, just you and I while staring at the sunset.

Enjoy your coffee. I want you to have those serene episodes for you to get in touch with your own thoughts, with your deepest dimensions, while taking a sip from your cup. Someday, we’ll talk and share our ideas about everything.

I know that whenever it rains, you think about me. You imagine us leisurely walking together on the sidewalk with mutual respect and admiration. Someday, I’ll hold your black umbrella and I’ll share my coat with you. We’ll find home in each other’s arms.

In that moment when you wanted to give up, when you feel like I don’t exist, I will show up not with a tie and suit and greasy hair; not as a fountain of answers to all your worries; not as a dashing prince charming riding a white horse under the summer sun. I will show up at a time you least expected. You’ll know that I have arrived because I will never give up on you even if you’ve put up a wall before I knew your name and yes, even before I said ‘Hi’ to you. You’ll know that I am the one that you’ve been waiting for because I will never let you doubt my sincerity and love for you. And then, I will show this to you and you’ll understand why it took me a while.

You’ll never be alone again.

Sincerely yours,
Your man

(This piece has been published in Thought Catalog on the 21st of July 2017.)

The chaos

Because sometimes you meet someone with no idea how and why it all happened and soon after you can no longer imagine your life without them. You see them in the future, a part of your every plan, and suddenly you care to discover the hidden things inside of them, their deepest secrets, their stories – unspoken, waiting to exist in another soul. You forget the old you because you’ve never felt more like yourself than right now, beside them – being seen, stared at… And with all the chaos inside your head, you are certain about one thing – love. This is love to me.

An eyesore in February

“In this age, when Facebook is taking over the social media spectrum and as it promotes connection all over the nations of the world through Internet.org, our generation is slowly being disconnected in our own cause to the former path, the old conduct, the conventional ways of our forefathers on how we should handle ourselves on the matters of the heart.”

HAVE YOU ever seen a couple committing PDA (Public Display of Affection) and while you see them in your head as immature, nonconformist beings because they couldn’t contain their overflowing love and passion for each other, they also reminded you of how you perceive love?

In February, a jeepney driver played familiar love songs on my way to work. It’s been a while since I’ve listened to that type of music. I associated every song on his playlist with someone. In every line. In every pause. But something strange caught my attention. An eyesore.  A man and a woman sitting in front of me, who were in their early twenties, were entangled in embrace, whispering words in a somewhat heavenly language that made them participants of a cycle of the following order – stare, smile and giggle. At one point, they laughed in unison that it awakened the old woman who was beside me.

“What the heck,” the old woman uttered out of exasperation.

They looked at her and continued.

The young man was wearing a slim-fit jeans and medium-sized, buttoned polo shirt with an open-jawed crocodile logo on the left side. The vibrant woman was wearing a pink dress, which was tailored according to the Yaya Dub fashion craze.

It started raining. Inside my bag was my umbrella. Inside her pocket was his hand.

“They are probably on their way to a date,” I told myself.

I looked around like an investigator trying to determine the pulse of the other passengers. I wondered if the any of the adults would butt in the moment. Nobody said a thing. We were all staring at them. They were in a bubble, in a zone, in a place that’s not dictated by the culture, expectations, and norms of reality. For them, we were just strangers. That we’ll forget about them once we get off the vehicle.

The driver glanced at them twice through his rear view mirror. He clearly lost his spotlight.

My mind was juggling ideas. But above everything, there were two things. I closed my eyes.

One of them was cultural. They were the living examples of some members in my generation’s non-conformance to the conservative ways of our parents and the generations before. My mother always reminds us how she was courted by my father. There were gifts of variety of goods – sacks of rice, banana, and sweet potato. Livestock were also offered to the family of my mother. Kundiman was very alive. He serenaded her. But no touch. No dates outside the vicinity of the eyes of my mother’s parents. Until one day, she fell in love with him because of his charming smile, red lips, persistence and for being a gentleman as expected to a Bicolano. They finally had their first date when they pronounced their vows in the wedding.

Would you want courtship to still be this strict?

In this age, when Facebook is taking over the social media spectrum and as it promotes connection all over the nations of the world through Internet.org, our generation is slowly being disconnected in our own cause to the former path, the old conduct, the conventional ways of our forefathers on how we should handle ourselves on the matters of the heart. Those that belong in the generations before are judging some of us as immature and irresponsible by our “liberated” actions of expressing our feelings to the one that we love that they observe in public.

And the other one?

It’s the hypocrisy of some of us.

Pirated pornographic materials are rampantly sold everywhere despite the effort that the Optical Media Board (OMB) and other organizations put. Provocative, sexy dance numbers of human beings who call themselves “artists” in noontime shows are being viewed by millions of people. Prostitutes roam the streets of the key cities in Metro Manila during off-hours. We are aware of all these things. But isn’t it true that these are worse forms of immorality, of PDA, of violations of the values that we take pride us a people?

Some of us judge those who show their affection in public in a form of warm embrace, HHWW (holding hands while walking) and quick kiss on cheek.  We instantly put them in a negative light. But we are forgetting the bigger demons of immorality that are in front of our eyes. After all, we are a Christian nation, aren’t we? 

While it is true that courtship and relationship setups have changed as time passed by, there are still many Filipino millennials who take to heart the value of merely going out on a date with someone or spending time together in a museum or cafe, of waiting, of not making rush decisions to be with the one they love. They still care on how the people around them see them which is a responsible way of handling their hearts in public. And since it’s the love month, expect these eyesores to be more rampant than any other time of the year. 

As I opened my eyes, I saw the landmark stoplight few meters away. The “celebrity couple” was still giggling. The other passengers no longer care. It’s still raining. It’s cold. He’s keeping her warm. She loved it. I opened my bag and searched for my black umbrella. While I question everything that I understood about love and romance, I glanced at them again. For I know that I displayed my affection in public for the one I loved once in my younger years. And probably, you did too, right?

“Nong, para!”

Sincerity

you shivered when you
first saw her
your voice trembled
ice cream melted
coffee spilled
hands quivered
the ‘Hi’ and the ‘Hello’
do you still remember?
because years from now
you will smile about
these not as signs
of shyness but
as clues of
sincerity; to remind
you of how blessed
you are to be
with her
that you chose each other
and you ended up
together.

First love

There are emotionless and soulless entities in the world that you have to live with. They will suck everything that you have until you can no longer recognize who you really are. They will try to fit you in the same box that the men and women before you had to endure. Don’t let them stop you. Please write, compose, draw, paint, innovate, and create. Challenge this world’s perspectives and have the courage to go against the tides with a clenched fist and a roaring heart even in silence. And when you doubt yourself and that nobody seems to care, remember the reason why you accepted the fight. Embrace your first love, recognize your gifts, listen to the voice deep within your core…

Never settle. Never give up.