My brother arrived in our apartment a few days ago exclaming he is going home over the weekend. I asked him why he is going home again when he just visited a month ago. He replied, “Because I am suffering from homesickness lately.”
I often forget that my brother has only lived in Manila for 3 years. To date, he has lived most of his life in Bicol. On the other hand, I am more of stranger and occasional visitor in our family house, being away since I was 11. That’s almost 17 years.
I tried to recall what it feels to be homesick. Missing your pillow and beds at home? I don’t have those. I don’t even have a room and a cabinet in our house. The local neighborhood? I barely even know who lives in our street now.
Earlier, I had the same thoughts again while looking at the Christmas lights that decorate the trees on the way to my apartment. I said to myself, “It’s almost Christmas again. I can finally have a long vacation at home.”
Home will always be an interesting concept for people who have lived in so many places. What defines it? The physical structure, the people, the memories? As for me, home… is a place where my mom and siblings are, where I can enjoy my favorite dishes, and exist for a while without caring what the world demands from me.
I guess I am homesick after all and I am not even making any sense.
I am still surprised when I see college students going out and about this summer. I often forget that major universities in the Philippines have already implemented academic shift. Classes now start in August and ends in May. This also means that summer breaks which used to be from April to May now fall on the not so summery months of June and July.
As a kid, I would always count the days until summer break. I felt 10 months for a school year was too long. Time also went by too slow. Summer meant I could wake up late, laze around for the whole day, and bury myself in the comfort of my books. I remember devouring shelves and shelves of books. It came to a point my mom would scold me because she had to keep my books in boxes under my bed.
Summer also meant lots of sunshine. We would go to beaches around the Bicol Region. Back then, sunblock was not yet a fad. Instead, we were forced to apply baby oil to protect out skin from the sun. And since I hated applying any form of oil in my body, by the end of summers I would end up so dark than my usual color.
The other week, my classmates and I were joking on our Facebook group what we would award each other for our upcoming graduation this July 25. One classmate said he would give me a “Master Procrastinator Award”. I was appalled so I asked him why.
He replied, “Because every time I am cramming for our paper or an exam, I would see in your posts that you are either in Korea, El Nido or some random beach. You don’t seem to be bothered by school or work at all”.
Am I one?? (Image credits to keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk)
I was surprised that some of them had a perception that I am a “procrastinator”, so I clarified that when I am on travel, I bring my iPad and laptop. I study while waiting in airports and ports. I write papers at night or during the wee hours of the morning. I always put my phone on roaming to make sure I don’t miss anything work or school-related while I am overseas. Simply said, I multitask.
I always get questions related to this: How do you juggle things? How do you manage to keep up at work and school and still get to travel? So I thought I’d share of some of “tactics” of how I managed to do all three for the past years:
1. Multitask but do so efficiently. This is inevitable. I am not someone who can let go of my day job just to prioritize school or travel. I don’t have someone who I can say I can lean on in case I get into financial trouble. I don’t want rely on scholarships either because in the Philippines, more of often than not, stipends are delayed. I also still send money to my family back home every once in a while. Multitasking is not ideal, but to be able to do all things I want to do and have to do, this is the compromise I make.
I am lucky enough that my classes are online. So while on travel, I can still participate in class discussion late at night or write papers at dawn. When I have something important for work that coincides with my travel, I usually check my email at least three times a day to make sure my workmates would still get the information they need from me.
I was browsing thorugh my drafts and I found this unfinished post. I wrote this in May 2013. I wondered why I never got to post this. So here’s a sort of flash back Friday post:
Last night my brother told me, “Should I go out of the country next year?”. He then followed up with, “What should I do about the promotion offered by the company?”
I just replied, “Do what you think will be best for you. If you feel you like doing something, then try it.”
There was a time when I have also been bothered so much by such questions. I was very envious of my peers who are already leaving the country to get their PhDs. I felt bad seeing pictures of people who were able to travel to different places. I was jealous of people who already know what are the things they are good at. I was too consumed by the so called “quarter life crisis”.
I don’t know how but thankfully I am slowing easing out of the stage already. These days, I am less bothered by how far my peers has achieved, how many places they went too and whether they are now rich by mastering their craft. Instead, I have diverted my energies on trying out different things such as finally booking a ticket to go the place that I want to and enrolling in a course even if I am not yet sure if it’s the track I want to pursue. I now don’t feel so bad that I haven’t achieved yet the things that I want to do when I was 23. I have now appreciated the investments I have made to secure not only mine but my brothers’ future are as well. In short, I have finally found my footing and I am now in betters terms of myself as far as capacities and experiences are concerned.
The path towards this state was not easy and I am not even sure how I came to such kind of peace and understanding. However, one thing I have always acknowledged is that every one of us is unique but at the sametime share certain universal traits. By understanding individual differences, I realized that is no point in competing with anybody. When we strive to improve, it should not be because you want to beat someone but because you know you are lacking in certain areas. And by acknowledging that we share certain universal traits, I realized that despite status differences, people still seek the same thing… happiness, acceptance, contentment.
Whoa. I was thinking of these things when I was 23. But I feel happy that I still feel the same way I felt two years ago. You don’t compete with anybody but yourself. 🙂
These words properly sum up my year: impulsiveness and adventure.
And both are double-edged swords. If handled improperly, these can produce effects contrary to the expectations of the doer of the action. So, did my impulsiveness brought something good? I guess. Because if not, I would not have reached the places I went to or did the things I really wanted to do. I realized sometimes courage is not only trait one needs to dive into a goal, a certain degree of impulsiveness is also required. For me, it’s the latter that brings out the “now or never attitude”. I know my impulsiveness will take its toll sometime and I have to control it as I grow older. But what better time to experiment, make mistakes and enjoy youth than now?
So, cheers to a year full of adventures! I might lie low for 2015 because I have big plans for 2016. But who knows where my impulsiveness and wanderlust can take me next year?
I remember in December 2013 I posted that I felt so “out of life” by the year-end. I concluded that I was not good at multitasking–juggling work and school. I am now wondering what I felt that way when my activities this year and last year were almost the same. It generally revolves around work and school. Then I realized the difference: I traveled more this year. On the contrary, I only traveled twice last year. That two travels were not enough to sustain my enthusiasm for the rest of the year. It’s now October and so far I’ve been on four trips since January. I still have two coming up. My savings are dwindling yet I haven’t felt this sustained kind of happiness and enthusiasm for a while. I guess this saying really applies to me:
“I travel not to escape life but for life not to escape me. “
Travel has been my means to keep in touch with my sanity and to remind myself that there’s more to life that just my cubicle at work or my virtual classroom for school. It’s my means of getting in touch with nature and of relearning the simplicity of life. It’s my way of rekindling with friends and rediscovering why we have been friends in the first place. It’s my way of discovering that despite every thing I learned, I still know too little about life, of what it means to live and breathe. I officially caught the bug and I don’t think I will be able to let go soon.
So, forgive me if I have been on hiatus. I have been here and there, trying to juggle three lives. However, I will surely but slowly share what I experienced in life lately.
It’s been a while since I’ve done something extreme. The last was probably my white water rafting adventure in Davao City in December of 2012. I don’t even know what made me do it back then. And I am not sure if I will ever have the guts to repeat that kind of experience.
Last Friday, I was reminded partly of the thrill I experienced in Davao. I and few of my officemates decided to try out the ramen at Ramenagi at SM Mall of Asia. After dinner, I had a sudden urge to ride a bump car so we proceeded to the SM Mall of Asia Amusement Mark. We first tried a spaceship-like ride where the passengers are whirled in all sorts of direction possible. Because of its action, we even nicknamed it “The Drier”. Afterwards, we tried out the bump cars. The car was slower than I imagined it. I maneuvered it with ease reminding me of all the days I spent part paring for bump car rides in high school. Lastly, we tried the ride where we were bolted suddenly up in the air, then dropped at a rate even faster than we were holed up.
At one point while suspended in the air, I opened my eyes and saw the bright lights coming from the streets and the mall. I thought it was such a good view but my bigger question for myself…why do we seek such kind of extreme experiences? The obvious answer is the thrill we experience from doing something extreme can be exhilarating…too exhilarating that some even make it as a form of living. But then again, why do we need to feel such kind of thrill? Why do we need to defy every possible law of gravity we’ve known?
It’s a hard question to answer. I myself can’t explain the elation I feel why I am suspended up in the air while riding a zip line or even when I am just climbing a 500-step stairs not knowing what waits for me at the end of the climb.
It’s one of the wonders of being human. The extent to which we are willing to put ourselves in just to explore the difference facets of our existence.
It has to be now. There is no never. You don’t mind the place. You don’t mind the time.
You take out one stick. You then light it. Puff. Finally. You can now relax. You just need to enjoy it up to the very last bit.
When the stick is just about one-inch long, you threw it to the ground. The ember is still glowing red. You don’t mind the place. You don’t mind the people around.
But then I was right behind you. I almost stepped on the it. Thankfully, I was able to avoid it and save my feet from burns.
I was also right behind you when you took out the stick. I even cringed. I cringed even more the moment you puffed. I could not breathe from the smoke you produced. I didn’t have a mask to protect myself. The handkerchief I carry proved to be useless.
I wondered then. If I couldn’t breathe, how could you? If I can’t even stand just the smell, how could you? Why do risk your life for a piece of stick or perhaps for those boxes of sticks?
Further, I wondered. It’s lucky that that you threw the stick on a concrete ground. What if you threw it on a pile of dry leaves? What if it landed on a bunch of paper? Worse, what if it was left inside a house?
I have a lot of why’s and what if’s for that stick. It can ruin you and the lives of those around you. I saw how it ruined they very people I love. I do not want you and any other people suffer the same fate.
Please, if you can, throw that stick now. And I hope you eventually learn to never seek for one.
I probably earned another enemy today. Earlier, I could not pass in a narrow sidewalk because 4-5 people were bolted in place talking loudly about a dog. So, I told one of the girls, “Excuse me, can I pass?”.
The girl turned around and stared rudely at me. Perhaps she was thinking who the hell I am to demand that from her. It took 10 tons of my patience to prevent myself to from further saying, “Excuse me. You don’t own the sidewalk so don’t block the passageway.”
To stress my point, I also stared. I flashed my signature killer stare until she moved out of the way. There goes my enemy. On the brighter side, she didn’t know my name and I do not know her name either. My encounter with her earlier will probably be our first and last cold war. However, she could morph…into another human being, into another public place hoarder. I guess my unnamed enemy list could go still become longer.
I can also add to the list to that list the taxi driver who I stared at while I waved the “hand stop” signal because he refused to slow down while I was crossing in the pedestrian lane. And oh, I almost forgot the motorcycle driver who asked me to move out of the sidewalk because he was passing by. Being the rude person that I am, I replied, “Why should I move when it’s people who should be using sidewalks?”.
Call me public enemy number 1. Call me impatient. I stare and even reply back to exaggerate my point. But can one call my actions irrational or immature?
This morning, my aunt’s househelp prepared corned beef and dried fish for breakfast. I ignored the plate of corned beef and proceeded to savor the dried fish. I was never a fan of corned beef nor of any canned meat or fish food, expect perhaps the Spam luncheon meat. I wondered then how many people out there consumed such food straight out the can when I can barely eat them even after they are already heated.
I remember the first time I was forced to eat tuna out of a can. It was in February 2003 during a high school trip to the coastal town of Prieto Diaz in Sorsogon. Before we left, we were advised to bring canned goods and cooked rice because the place had no facility for cooking nor there were nearby small restaurants. So when the night came, my groupmates opened the group’s stock of canned goods which consisted of tuna in various flavors—mechado,adobo, menudo, etc. One of my groupmates even mixed two or three flavors! I can hardly forget my reaction when I tasted the food. I said to myself, “So… this is how it tastes like.”
It is sad a time to be a government employee in the Philippines these days. It’s not that I am not proud of the work I do but because I am embarrassed by the non-stop controversies that the government is facing these days. It has come to a point that the whatever honest work some or most of the small workers have done and are still doing, it becomes easily forgotten because of the big mistakes committed by a certain few.
I shared before in my FB account a letter by a South Korean who claimed that one of the reasons that the Philippines is not progressing is Filipinos are too doubtful of their system and instead of trying to remain in the country to initiate changes, many choose to leave. I posted an insight to the article saying I shared the sentiments of that writer and how I have repeatedly wondered why I am always being told that my skills as a scientist would be wasted here and that I would be better off in another country. Also, I choose to believe that there is still a very big hope in the Philippines.
However, with the recent events unfolding in the Philippines—the Php 10 billion PDAF scam, the Mamplaya fund scam, and now the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) controversy—I cannot help but sigh. I guess it’s a no brainer now why many of the people here have lost hope. It’s so disheartening to watch the news these days knowing that the people involved in these controversies are the very same people who I am working with, albeit indirectly, in the system. Also, how can I believe what they are claiming now when they are the very same people who are pushing for fiscal transparency and tuwid na daan?
Back in my college days in UP, when a classmate or a friend labels you jokingly as a “school girl”, it means that you were too focused on your studies that you almost don’t have a social life anymore. I had been called as such several times primarily because even though I was active in dormitory activities, I didn’t have any organizations. During my free time I was either found in the library or the dormitory.
I felt sad when I was called as such back then because I thought being focused on my studies was actually never a negative thing. Also, I had my reasons for not joining any campus organizations. I was a working student and just balancing work and studies was already difficult.
One of the double-edged characteristic of humankind is our natural tendency to be curious. We have this urge to know what’s happening with whom, why a certain someone did this etc Nothing is wrong with that but we must recognize the limit as to when we can poke our noses into other people’s business.
One of the most blatant examples of this habit is staring. In fact, I find staring to be the worst kind. Because it involves no words, the meaning can range from admiration, simple curiosity, jealousy, and even hatred. No matter what the reason is, staring is plainly rude and counts as intrusion of someone’s privacy.