From this little corner

from this little corner
The view from this little corner of my office

There was a period in my life when I would write incessantly; when writing seems to be the only activity that made sense to me, regardless of how I fared in terms of talent or skill. I knew I wasn’t that good of a writer, and probably still isn’t, but I write anyway.

I write to make sense to myself. I write as an attempt to find answers to burning questions, to gain clarity to ambiguous thoughts, to make a stand, to find my voice, to know who I am.

30 years. Yet still not old enough to know. I’ll never know the answers because I’m not asking the right questions. From this little corner, I’ll tell you what life has been as of late.

There are highs and lows. There are plateaus. There are tiny moments of glory. There are tons of sadness I shove under the rug or conceal behind a lipsticked smile. There are many uncertainties, and none so much of bravery to speak of.

There are prospects of doing this and that project, something that will have me exercising what I’m truly passionate about. So far, all I ever do is procrastinate. I find every and all reasons to do so.

It’s not all that bad, in reality. Because the truth is, if I choose to look at things from a brighter perspective, I am truly abundant. I have an abundance of everything that I need. Perhaps it’s really just my nature to complain, which is bad.

So let me tell you how I got a good raise at work this year. Wow. I didn’t expect that. I work for a good company and in good company. I have this little corner of an office, my own room, with privacy and all that. The environs are good. My apartment is close to work, and the place is not so bad for the price I pay monthly. I mean, how I cherish the convenience it brings!

Most of the time, I own my 5pm onwards. Can be better but hey, isn’t it nice? I get to savor my coffee until 9 in the morning before walking my way to the office, which only takes about 10 minutes. I get to write this. I get to jog in the evening when I want to. I can read. It’s a pretty boring life, I tell you. Boring but nice. Do I crave for an adventure? From time to time, yes, I do.

There are longings like I’m sure you have as well. There are moments, adventures to look forward to. But for now, this will do.

Sure, I’ll get tired and restless again. I hope I can get me to calm down and plant my feet firmly on the ground as I might wander off towards the boundary between dangerous and fun.

But it’s peaceful now. I like peace. It may not be human nature to be this way until the end, yet when disrupted, when chaos erupts, we tend to fight for peace anyway. So here, let me savor this peace; these silent hummings of my heart as if to say, yes, now you have the right to hum whatever tune you like. I will continue to just be. If anything or anyone attempts to break this peace, then perhaps it’s meant to be. And even if I’m not ready, I’m sure I’ll find my way.

Sometimes I wonder if my writing voice is louder than my speaking voice. You know what I mean– whether I’m supposed to be writing more, career-wise, or just do my best wherever I am at the moment.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m too vague, or simply thinking out loud, writing away as my mind speaks. I tend to treat this place as my diary.

So, now, I’ll leave this little corner for the day, have my coffee, get my running gear and join the rest of the people who, like me, are also just finding their way.

 

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Of passion and motivation

Dear Universe,

I am writing this from my nice little office of my good and solid employer in a not-so-bad Makati City building. You know what that means in this world during these times: I AM FORTUNATE. Blessed, to be ‘enjoying’ all these. ‘Enjoying’ might not be the best word, as right now, I am very much not enjoying the view from my window right now, or the work that I have to do after I write this.

Dear Universe, I lost it. I lost the spark, the magic, the eye, the appetite or whatchamacallit. Or maybe I haven’t really touched it. You can’t lose what you never had. Or maybe I did. A long time ago. Before I grew up. Before the world introduced #adulthood to me.

So anyway, I’m on it, right now. Cruising. Trying to live each day with some purpose or gusto, while keeping this to myself because, what the fuck, I’m 30 and I’m feeling this way? People around me talk about purpose, helping other people, giving back, kindness and all that sheez. And I call it a sheez.

So whyyy. Right?

Anyway, I better go to the beach or sumthin’.

 

J.

A sort of love letter that I will never send

Dear A:

Anonymous. I will never send this to you and it is almost impossible for you to read this or know that this is meant for you.

I saw you today. And like a high school girl, I felt giddy and excited to see your handsome face. How long has it been since I last saw you? A long time, maybe. I have to admit I have this stupid crush on you. And though I know that this is one of those love stories that never really was, it feels comforting that I am still capable of feeling this excitement. There’s this stupid grin on my face right now that I can’t seem to erase and it’s all because of you. The truth is, I don’t remember the last time I ever felt this way towards someone. Seven or eight years ago, perhaps? I don’t want to talk about my complicated love life right now. I have a vague idea of how yours is on the complicated spectrum as well. Life and the choices we make.

Did you have any inkling of how I feel towards you? or how you make me feel? You and I. It reminds me of my puppy love when I was 16. He was a few years older than I was. We were friends. He had a girlfriend whom I had befriended as well. I fell for him, he led me on…and on to nothing. But that was a long time ago. But you and I… we are sort of friends. I mean, I think we are friends but we are not really that close. We know too little about each other. I just have these fantasies about you that I have developed in my mind, these ideas on how you are on certain situations. I may not even cross your mind. But once you nonchalantly mentioned that you dreamed of me. Or you had a dream and I was in it. Sort of one of the characters in your movie. Funny how it made me feel a little excited. I am 30 and I am happy to announce that I still feel “kilig.” And we had a few moments! Well at least, to myself, those were our moments. Stolen moments safe enough that none of us will ever feel guilty about crossing the boundaries of what’s platonic. Or maybe I just want to convince myself that there never really was any malice on my part when deep down, there is that little giddiness, that excitement. And the adult in me says maybe even some lust.

Sometimes, in my not so complicated world, a world of fantasy, that is, I imagine that you have a crush on me. That those times we talked were special to you as they were to me. That those ‘sweet’ gestures you showed me meant something. That you, indeed, see me as someone who’s very pretty. Sometimes I’d like to believe. Most times, I’m contented to have these glimmers of fantasy that make life a little sweeter-bitter, but worth living.

I imagine your sweetness. And it’s truly nice to have you to think of some days.

 

Your friend,

J.

 

Life in Poblacion

Life in Poblacion
By Jo Aguilos

There was a time in my late 20s to early 30s when I lived in the outskirt of a central business district, close to the red-light district in a derelict 30-year old condotel building smack dab in the middle of two newly-built hotels. How I have loved that old place of mine. I loved the vibrancy of my neighborhood, the friends I have made there and the familiarity of it all.

It was apparent that business was doing well for the hotels, hostels, bars, and restaurant owners in the area. Poblacion is a tourist area but it has also attracted the young and hip because of the hole-in-the-walls and bars that have proliferated the area in a span of few years. Millennials and backpackers from all over the world would often do a pub crawl in Poblacion and I would feel the street reverberate in its aliveness from dusk to dawn. The place was and probably still is a melting pot of culture.
At that time I was working in a giant real estate company as a public relations manager. It was a job I both love and detest. I loved it for the material comforts it has afforded me and for the friends I have made in the industry. I hated it for it has given me too little freedom to do the things I was truly passionate about. Like traveling. Or learning to do gardening. Or gathering like-minded individuals and share the beauty of life. I lasted five years in the company before setting up my own business and buying my own freedom.

Every workday morning I would wake to the sound of my alarm clock and each time, I would throw myself back in bed to relish a few more minutes of stillness. And I would always come in late, but I never heard about it from my boss. I was doing my job well, I believe so.
I lived for long weekends and holidays when I could occasionally travel out of town and go to the beach up north in San Juan, La Union. Or simply have a relaxing weekend with my boyfriend in his place, watch Netflix or play with his younger nephew.
In Poblacion, there was this lovely quaint California-style cafe right across my building that I frequented every morning before going to work and in the afternoon before going home or off to a movie or dinner with someone. It was called Kismet, an Arabic or Turkish word for destiny. The owners’ mom painted the interiors of the place in vibrant yellows, blues, and reds and the result was simply beautiful and welcoming. It reminds me of those colorful shops in Marrakech, Morroco. I loved the place so much I wanted to buy it out from its owners who were too busy to visit the place every day. In the end, I decided to put up my own cafe in my village. I have made good friends in that place, including the two brothers who own the cafe.
 When I allow myself to look back at that time, almost automatically, a splash of nostalgia wash over me and I would smile for those were good memories, no matter how I felt uncertain about many things in my life then.
There in that quaint cafe, I have befriended an affable Spanish-Filipino mestizo retiree whose colorful life taught me that indeed, there is so much to see in this world and that some of the best lessons in life are learned from people you meet along the way. He used to go to that cafe, have coffee, and share about his younger years during the 1960’s in the Philippines. He came from a well-to-do Spanish family in an affluent neighborhood in San Juan City. At that time, he was in his 70s and would talk about the sweet nostalgia of his boyhood discovering about and exploring his sexuality at the time when people were very conservative and conventional. He left the country when he was 17, became an Australian citizen and pretty much stayed in Australia and New Zealand for most of his life before going back to the Philippines to retire.
At times, he would talk about that time in his late 20s when he backpacked Europe and Asia for a year. During those times he met a lot of people and went to all sorts of adventures, both fun and dangerous. “It was all great and I don’t regret a single thing I did those times,” he would tell me. “And oh, the party,” he would say,” the parties then were way, way different and so much more fun than today. All the rave, the music, and oh the special candies we take before walking out of the door to go clubbing.” Ah, lovely, lovely man, he is with the wisdom of his age and the energy and heart of a young man.
He was meaning to settle in Thailand and just stay in Manila for only a few years. But as fate would have it, he ended up retiring in a beach resort in Zambales and added many years of happy memories to his already rich and colorful life.
In that cafe, I also met a lovely Irish woman my age who was visiting the country as a volunteer in an orphanage in Olongapo City. She stayed in the country for almost a year, during two different times, helping a few NGOs prepare fresh and nutritious meals for street kids in depressed parts of Metro Manila. She is one tough and beautiful spirit who has touched me in more ways than she’s aware of. Our friendship blossomed way after she moved back to her own country and became a successful artisan cake chef and a health and wellness advocate.
We eventually formed a wellness camp hosting travelers from all over the world to stay in our retreat sanctuaries–one in Ireland and the other in Batangas City, Philippines– where guests can experience holistic healing through natural means. We studied this path of business, and carefully curated packages that include a raw vegan diet, yoga and meditation and some special wellness and spiritual activities that effectively transform the body, mind, and soul of every person. This venture allowed us to fully exercise our passion, and our desire to give back and live a life of purpose and meaning. Weary souls or those who were looking for some sort of respite and people who undergo different stages in life, dealing conflicts and stress come to us and leave with renewed energy, spirit and vitality. We divide our time between Manila and Ireland, between our passion projects and our own dear families who understand and embrace these two strong and beautiful women who take charge of their own power. This is my life now,  and I feel at peace and grateful that I couldn’t ask for more.

My thoughts are everywhere but here

I haven’t been present for the past months–maybe years. I’m out of focus. My thoughts always fall on getting away to a beautiful place away from here, from all of this.

On lucid moments, it makes me think I’m an ungrateful child of God. I suspect this has little to do with age as many women my age, whether within my own circle or not, have settled down and started raising their own family. My thoughts are nowhere near that. I am more inclined to believe that this is simply me. I’ve been built this way: a person with an unquenchable thirst for travel and adventure.  I can’t stay in one place for a very long time. Someone said to me that I should be careful with my declarations as words are very powerful. It can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. How wonderful. I am rich. I am bountiful. I am slim and sexy. I am limitless.

And so began the forming of this thought to buy my own freedom. It’s here somewhere. Etched in my heart, carved in my mind. I have to do something about it.

I am aware that I am in my happiest when I am free; when I can do what I want when I want. I do know it sounds so juvenile, irresponsible and restless.  But it doesn’t necessarily mean I am those, like a wayward child or an aimless hippie. It’s hard to sell this idea to a conventional mind. What have I proven anyway? Well to be quite fair, I’ve proven a lot to myself.

For instance, I have started the prerequisites for my retirement. I reckoned I should start saving at this age, while the obligations are few and there is some extra to spare. I’ve co-invested in a property. And the hardest of all is, I am doing my best in this place called planet corporate. The truth is, I am grateful, so grateful for this job and the opportunities and blessings that go with it.

But what do we make of life if we don’t live it the way we envision it to be?  What kind of life would that be if not a sorry one? And I need to be brave here as I take the chances as they present to me.

I don’t have the control for everything, and I know better than stop the chips from falling wherever they may. But it is my duty to live a life that’s full, purposeful, yes and wonderful in any sense. ❤

 

 

How things changed even if no one noticed and how some remain unchanged

I wanted to write about so many events that transpired in my life over the past few years or so, minor or otherwise. I have noticed, as one would do to a growing hair, that these changes came in gradual. No one noticed it but myself. In fact, I wouldn’t have noticed it had I not paused to think about my life lately.

My 30th birthday didn’t feel like arriving at a finish line, cheers, fireworks and all. None like that. It felt like I had unlocked another level at Candy Crush and that’s it. I have more levels to unlock and it would be up to me if I continue playing until my phone dies on me.

I went back to school; applied for an official leave of absence because (here’s a sorry excuse) I couldn’t handle EVERYTHING ALL AT THE SAME TIME without investing time, energy/effort, blood, sweat, tears and lots of coffee; co-invested in a property; planned and started saving for retirement; actually considered taking a sabbatical (more on that someday); said goodbye to a great old friend; said hello to a new friend slash soul sister; secretly admired someone from a distance; fell in love and out and in again with the same person; chastised myself over and over for stupid mistakes I never learn from; said goodbye to debts; acquired new debts; and the list goes on.

One thing has remained. I am still uncertain about many things. I guess that’s the beauty of life. You are given the choice, the free will to decide, and then you take responsibility for what it will cost you.

Marriage is a topic that’s always been hovering in my head but never been fully entertained. Because I am uncertain. Maybe it isn’t true what they say that you’ll know it when it comes. Maybe those guys were actually shitting themselves when they said that they were sure they wanted to marry the girl they married. Or maybe, it’s just me. I’m just wired this way. Motherhood belongs to the same category.

Years ago, I would have asked, what’s wrong with me. But I won’t because nothing’s wrong with me. And if you’re like me, I’m telling you, we’re fine. An absence of hormone or something, I dunno, but we’re good. It’s the society that has been feeding people’s brain since time immemorial with whatever norm they all agree with. So what if we are not marriage or parent material. We’re awesome anyway.

To be more steadfast and circumspect, that’s what I aim to be. Because no one has really got it all figured out, but I can be that firm and steady, someone you can count on at 2a.m.– sober or not.

I’ll never be an IG-goddess of sorts, not the one that deserves an ogle for her amazing looks and dewy skin and zero pores and microblade-eyebrows on a fleek and tiny waist with the booty of Shakira. I’ll never be an avatar like that. But I am more than okay for a companion. I try to be funny in the most subtle and casual way. LOL, don’t believe that. Believe this to be true: you can bare your soul to me and I can do the same to you and you wouldn’t have to worry about judgments and all that crap. You’ll never hear those from me. Though not the best listener in the world, I try to be always present.

Lately, though, I have been sleepwalking. I sleep late and for no important reason except I’ve some bottles of wine to consume, I wake up probably later than the billionaires in the world, get my coffee the way Alexa would if you asked her to, check the phone, head to work and be a slave for the next 8 hours or so. Nothing to feel sorry about.

I do not ever want to sleepwalk. It’s exhausting and not a good way to live. Actually, you don’t, you merely exist, which is a sorry excuse for the life you have. I’m talking about myself. Me.

And I remain the same. Beautiful and ugly, in good shape but also a mess, had realized her shits and will still commit a few more–but I will not sleepwalk for the rest of my days. I will strive as I have been striving, I will persist. And then hopefully, be able to love fiercely, unabashedly, deeply, and beyond doubts and cobwebs. I will live in harmony and peace, amidst life’s ebbs and flows. xx