twists and turns


About a week ago, a friend was teasing me about an unexpected development. With all the drama she could muster at the moment, she exclaimed, “Plot twist!”

I don’t remember how I responded to that but perhaps I brushed it off then.

Now that I think about the year that was as I lie in bed on the first morning of the new year, I realize that 2017 has indeed been a year of plot twists.

Just when I had already given up all hope, I received a notification that I had been admitted to the program I was applying for. So back to school I went. And through mountains upon mountains of text I read.

Sometime in April, I joined a learning village where I met some of the most wonderful people ever. It was refreshing being around so much positivity and passion. In a world that is obsessed with hierarchy and seniority, it was exhilarating to be in a space where everyone was treated as an equal, where each idea mattered.

Towards the middle of year, the Marawi Siege took place and thousands of people were forced to flee their homes. Our college housed displaced students from MSU. Numerous students from other colleges also helped out. I was on Team Invisible (a.k.a. Keyboard Warriors), manning the social media page and consolidating data on the evacuees. When the evacuation center closed, we continued with relief operations. Here I got to work with awesome people–colleagues with sharp minds and big hearts, student-volunteers with deep compassion and social awareness, and fellow civil servants with tireless dedication and willingness to serve.

Just when I thought the dust had finally settled, another plot twist came. I was transferred to a different office where I was given a project assignment which initially seemed impossible. I had to go way out of my comfort zone and learn a lot of new things–something I had to do quite a lot last year. The learning curve has been rather steep but with help and encouragement from friends who happen to be colleagues, I was somehow able to deliver.

There have been many other plot twists which I would rather keep to myself (mainly because I’m too lazy to write them down).

All in all, I guess 2017 has been a relatively good year despite all the trials and unfortunate events that took place. Kindness and compassion still shone through.

Here’s hoping 2018 will be even better. Happy new year, everyone!


shake the dust


There are things you just don’t ever get used to. Like getting the rug pulled from under you. No matter how many times it has happened before, you still get caught unaware and fall flat on your face–every single time.

But you can’t really say it came as a total shock. It was only a matter time. Though circumstances and contexts differ, the outcome has always been the same.

And so you pick yourself up, put on a brave face, and shake off the dust–just as you always have countless times before.

leaving and living


This year, I learned that it’s okay to leave.  That sometimes it’s better to walk away from toxic people, environments, and situations.  That doing so does not make me a weakling or a coward.

I spent half of last year and this year putting up a strong front and trying my very best not to let all the negativity get in the way. I often felt like Atlas with the weight of the world on my shoulders but I kept telling myself that I loved what I was doing so it was okay.

Then one day, it all became too much. That day, Atlas shrugged.

Chaos and mayhem ensued shortly thereafter.

I was somehow able to emerge from all that—shaken to the very core of my being, but still in one piece and only because of the unwavering support of a handful of people and the unfailing grace of God.

That harrowing experience shattered my rose-colored glasses/blinders and I began to see things and people more clearly.

I realized that I had to let go (of the bad) and let (the good) come.

And so this year, I learned to live.

For the first time in a long time, I allowed myself to just have fun and momentarily feel infinite.

I have stopped second-guessing myself so much and though I still need a good push every now and then, I have started to see my own worth a bit more.

Most importantly, I have started to genuinely believe that I am enough.

round and around


I guess the reverend in F. Sionil Jose’s The God Stealer was right: It takes cataclysm, something tragic to knock a man back to his wits.

And oh, what a knockdown it was.

To say that 2015 has been a difficult year would be a massive understatement. It has, in fact, been a year of turmoil. Of rude awakenings and overdue realizations.

I’d like to think, though, that I emerged from all that stronger and wiser–even if by just a teensie weensie bit. My hands and my heart may tremble but I will no longer be paralyzed with fear.

As this past year has shown me, I am not alone. When push comes to shove, I have people who have my back. And even at the most trying of times, God’s unfailing grace shines through.

So hello, 2016. Let’s turn things around.

constancy amid change


A notification pops up. Curiosity wins over fatigue and I click on that tiny red icon.

Oh goody, it’s my daily dose of memories!

As I scroll down, my half-shut eyes open just a wee bit wider with each entry.  I come across emotionally laden song lyrics that immediately trigger the play button in my head and I start humming along, wondering about the circumstances which surrounded me then.

I encounter a lot of posts about films and books and I can’t help but wish I still had the luxury of time to curl up with a good book or watch the latest indie movie.

Then there’s the occasional political commentary sandwiched between leftover teenage angst and cringe-worthy melodrama.

Did I really say this? What was I thinking?

Oh, I remember this! I can’t believe it’s been that long!

A myriad of emotions course through me as I travel back in time and revisit moments of triumph and of loss. I wax nostalgic over what was and marvel at what still is.

spectacular spectrum


The sky was overcast when we got off the van at Hayanggabon Port in Claver, Surigao del Norte. I nervously crossed the narrow plank leading to the boat and positioned myself at the rear end of the vessel.

It had already started to rain when we left the port and our guide told us that it would take us at least an hour to get to Hidden Island Resort. With the dreary weather, it was all just greys and dull blues with occasional pops of green.

042915 siargao 1

The boat’s engine was really loud so there was barely any conversation during the duration of the boat ride. But the moment we caught sight of the islands of Bucas Grande, we couldn’t help oohing and aahing at the sheer beauty of the place. All the fatigue and muscle pain seemed to leave our bodies as the boat maneuvered around an island which, as we soon discovered, was actually our destination.

042915 hidden island b

After unpacking our things and wolfing down a couple of Nutella sandwiches, we trooped to the boardwalk and went all trigger-happy with our cameras.

042915 boardwalk

To my utter delight, a rainbow appeared in the east as if to welcome us.

042915 rainbow

At about the same time, a magnificent light show began to unfold in the west. I watched in awe as the mellow yellows and gloomy greys gave way to blazing oranges and fiery reds with the setting of the sun, then to tropical pinks and lush purples with the coming of dusk.

052915 banca

042915 sunset 1

042915 sunset 2

I stood in silent reverie as the last trace of daylight faded from the sky.

And just before darkness completely enveloped the horizon, I turned back and followed my companions back to our living quarters.



“Things will get messy at times and that’s okay,” articles on parenting always say. But when things don’t go according to plan, the second part of that statement sometimes gets thrown out of the window.

easter egg 2015 prepsThis morning, I found myself almost at my wit’s end when the much-awaited Easter egg hunt turned out to be a series of unfortunate events. This tragicomedy started with a frazzled mom unintentionally breaking one of the uncooked eggs and ended with a flustered little boy refusing to continue painting after accidentally dropping one of the two remaining eggs.

easter eggs 2015Judging by the look on my son’s face, I knew that an egg hunt was out of the question so we just carried everything back inside and had breakfast.

When I walked into the bedroom hours later, fragments of painted eggshells scattered on the desk greeted me.

“The best laid schemes of Mice and Men, oft go awry,” they seemed to say.

I looked at the little boy intently peeling an egg and asked, “Are you happy?”

“Yes!” he replied with a grin on his face and a twinkle in his eye.

And with that, all traces of disappointment (his and mine) were completely erased.

a blueberry kind of morning


020715 blueberry cheesecake

“Are these baked?” I asked the lady at the counter as I pointed at the mini blueberry cheesecakes in the fridge.

She nodded and I almost let out a whoop. I had been lamenting the fact that other than Coffeeworks (which sells too-tangy-for-my-taste cheesecake), cakeshops and coffeeshops in my hometown only have no-bake cheesecake on their menus. So imagine how elated I was to find that Sugar Rush sells these baked goodies.

I had just eaten a red velvet cupcake so I mustered every inch of self-control I had and ordered just one blueberry cheesecake–plus a macaroon con leche cupcake for my dad and a banana choco cupcake for my mom–to go.

I usually hurkle-durkle on weekends but that following morning, I got out of bed as soon as I woke up. I excitedly took out the mini blueberry cheesecake from the fridge and made myself a cup of peppermint tea.

As I savored the taste of blueberry cheesecake in my mouth, a scene from Wong Kar-Wai’s My Blueberry Nights played in my head.

Jeremy: At the end of every night, the cheesecake and the apple pie are always completely gone. The peach cobbler and the chocolate mousse cake are nearly finished. But there’s always a whole blueberry pie left untouched.

Elizabeth: So what’s wrong with the blueberry pie?

Jeremy: There’s nothing wrong with the blueberry pie. It’s just [that] people make other choices. You can’t blame the blueberry pie.

Well, I’d pick cheesecake every single time. Sorry, blueberry pie.


Sugar Rush
017 Dona Teodora Blvd., Brgy. San Miguel, Iligan City



It’s funny how I started planning my son’s birthday celebration as early as last year but still ended up working on it down to the wire. As they say, “The greatest inspiration is the deadline.”


This year’s theme was inspired by my son’s love for cars and the toy truck he received last Christmas. Like last year, I spent countless hours scouring Pinterest for inspiration. I was determined to make this as DIY as I could despite my insanely hectic schedule.

buntings and toppers

My son started going to school this year so we decided to have a mini party at school. To minimize food mishaps, we packed the mac n’ cheese in styro food containers, which I couldn’t resist customizing.

My original plan involved a doughnut tower dotted with the truck cutouts as toppers but we weren’t able to get our hands on some yummy doughnuts so we rehashed last year’s design: custard cake + wafer sticks + road signs + my son’s Viking Toys tractor + the ubiquitous birthday candle.

custard cake 2

To avoid making too much of a mess, we kept the cupcakes frosting-free as well. Fortunately, my aunt had some chocolate rocks on hand so she sprinkled some on top of the banana nutella cupcakes. I forgot to place the toppers I made though.

banana nutella cupcakes - choco rocks
I also made some traffic cone-inspired party hats. I couldn’t find anything big enough to trace and I didn’t have a drawing compass so I used the definition of a circle (a set of points equidistant from a point called the center) as a guide.

traffic cone party hats
It was a bit tiring at first and I almost didn’t push through with the party hats but I’m glad I did because the kids looked so adorable wearing them.

school party 3I was so tired with all the preparations, I could barely keep my eyes open during the party. It was all worth it though because, as my son affirmed, it was indeed a very happy birthday.

school party 1_edited



I grew up listening to the Beach Boys and I have always been a fan of their music.  As I grew older and came to know the story behind the band and the music, I became an even bigger fan–of Brian Wilson, in particular.

So I was over the moon when BBC Music released this version of God Only Knows.

I was going to say that this song used to hold a special significance in my heart but I realize that isn’t exactly true. Just hearing the song again opened a floodgate of emotions.

And although so many things have changed and we are no longer the same, I guess the impact of a song–especially one as beautiful as this–will never fade.