Modern Cages: Is this all even worth it?

It was just another night in my apartment. I’m alone, and miles away from my home. I’m in such a great place in terms of career, but I’m lonely. I’m not worried about what my next meal is going to be, but am I geniunely happy? I’m not sure. There were nights when I reminisce memories of myself munching my favorite Tinolang Manok with my family in our make-shift wooden table back at home in the Philippines. We would talk about victories and problems. We would laugh and quarrel. We only have a roof without a ceiling over our heads, but I can remember how happy and content I felt in those moments. My sister and I would then do the dishes while we sing our favorite songs, our voices echoing in the woods. I miss my family. There are also nights when I think about my man and those days when I get to see him everyday. Now we’re both far away trying to make a living. Every time my thoughts direct to him, I feel a clawing pain in my chest. I no longer remember how it feels to be squeezed in his tight embrace. It’s almost a year now since we last saw each other personally. Everytime I mull and rant about this kind of life of a constant long distance relationship, he just comforts me with the assurance that once we already saved enough fortune, we can both go back home and live normally like we used to. I would just try to relax just so he can stop worrying, however, the thought of having these limitations just never stops flashing back.

Every time I tuck myself to sleep, all I feel is the pain of longing for people and the pain of knowing that I don’t have a choice. It’s funny how I’m lamenting over this. Going far away for work was my personal decision. I told myself it was for a dream. I told myself it was for a future worth fighting for. However, recently, I’m starting to question if this is all really worth it. Is it really worth sacrificing the present in order to prepare for an uncertain future?

I know that I am not the only one. You are going through this, too. Majority, if not all, of us are sacrificing and gambling our present just so we can prepare for a future that we don’t even know will exist. Many of us are giving up our chance to live in the moment just so we can make a living. There are too many of us who are forced to sacrifice things just so we can fullfil society’s expectations. We are all inside modern-day cages. Have you ever wondered if this is all even worth it? Have you ever had the mad idea of escaping the loop, and just say “Fuck! I’m so done with all of this!” As for me, I have.

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I hope You find the Courage for Self-care

I stretched the wet Skincare face mask as laid it on my bare face one night. It’s been countless months since I used a disposable face mask, and I only decided to put one on because my face was starting to have painful dry cracks because of the coldness of Spring. This happens to me quite a lot, especially during the cold seasons of Japan. This is because I always compromise on my Skin Care. I know I need them, but I don’t use moisturizing creams unless I find a zerowaste or perhaps an organic one. I don’t use moisturizing face masks as much as possible despite the sharp cold of Winter. I don’t use Toner, Face Lotion, or Sunscreen just because I couldn’t find sustainable alternatives here in Nagoya. Because of that, I tend to just suffer in silence; the pains of my dry skin cracks during Winter, my Acne, my uneven skin color, and all the others that I ever so knowingly put myself through. That night, as I finally pampered myself with a single moisturizing face mask, I couldn’t help but ask; Why am I doing this to myself?

Self-care is an alien thing to me. Not that I’ve never pampered myself before, but it was just never my priority growing up. Recently, I’ve been trying to find the courage to allow myself bit by bit of self-care. If you are here because you are in the same journey too, then I am glad to share this with you.

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This is how our Mentors save Us

Our mentors can make or break us. I’ve seen this first-hand while working as a professional in the IT industry for almost 6 years now. Apart from my own experiences, countless times I was a witness of my colleagues’ struggles at work because of unreasonable mentors. In contrast to this, I have also seen many who achieved exponential personal and career growth because they were blessed by mentors who nurtured them right. It is very rare to find mentors who will stick with you through thick and thin. Mentors who are passionate enough to bring you to the top of your game despite the long and tiring process. However, once you find one, you are definitely up for a journey full valuable lessons, a journey that you will always be grateful for.

In my journey to starting a new career in a foreign country, I did not expect to be blessed with a mentor who was willing to go through my struggles with me just so he can push me to the top of my game. Today, I will be sharing this journey with you. This story is my discovery of what real mentorship and leadership are all about. This is a story of heroes who are not wearing capes, but are still saving lives.

This story is for mentors and for those who are being mentored. May this resonates with you in whatever journey you are going through. Read ahead!

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Zerowaste Struggles amid the COVID-19 Crisis

It was late January of 2020 when I first became alarmed by the COVID-19 disease. I’ve read countless alarming news from China. Thousands of people were infected by the nCoV daily. Even more unfortunate news detail the increasing number of deaths from the virus in only a span of weeks. It scared me a lot. I live in Japan, and it has been evident that a large number of Chinese nationals have fled to Japan to escape the then COVID-19 outbreak in their country. That in itself, has already scared me to the bone. I knew I needed to be careful, that I needed protect myself. But at first, I was strong to not consider any changes in my lifestyle.

As many of my friends know, I am currently on a journey to live a Sustainable Lifestyle. I started doing the Zerowaste Lifestyle last April 2018, then I adopted the Sustainable Lifestyle in the middle of 2019. Throughout my journey, I’ve been challenged a lot. I’ve experienced difficulties starting the ZW Lifestyle when I was still living in the Philippines, but I overcame it by being creative with my ways. When I started living here in Japan, the dependency of the Japanese community with product packaging has forced me to tolerate few unsustainable alternatives in my daily needs. Nonetheless, I persevered to maintain a low impact as much as possible. Even the Influenza seasons here in Japan have never shaken me to abandon my sustainable lifestyle practices. However, the horror of these recent months sinked in to me day by day. The mere epidemic has now become a pandemic. I saw how it spread from just China to now 199 countries globally. I saw the COVID-19 positive cases rise from just merely hundreds to now over 600,000 confirmed cases world wide. I saw deaths rise from barely a handful digits to now over 30,000 fatalities. I saw country by country locking their cities, struggling to control the infectious disease. Now, even my small hometown in the Philippines is in Community Quarantine. The horror of the recent months made me compromise the values and the promises that I swore I would never break. In the aim to prioritize my health and safety, I compromised sustainability.

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A Message of Solidarity: Life in the Time of a Pandemic

Dear you,

How are you? These are trying times, and I know that it has been tough to you and to your family. I hope that you are doing well, both physically and mentally. I am well-aware that each of us is fighting this battle against the COVID-19 disease in our own ways. With that, I send you my snappy salute for whatever it is that you are doing not just for your family and country, but for yourself as well. Kudos!

The COVID-19 has not only spread health concerns all around the world. It has also spread fears, panic, racism, and variety of social injustices. The daily realities that we all are very much acquianted with is turning into one of those apocalyptic scenes that we were only used to seeing in movies. It also scares me to the bone. This life in the time of a Pandemic has absolutely challenged us individually, our families, our governments, and our global leaders. Things might’ve turned out to be more complicated, but the solution is crystal clear; We must go through it all together, in unity. We must wage a battle against the Pandemic in a way where no one gets left behind. I am one with you in that goal. So here I am, sending out this heartfelt letter of solidarity to you. I am with you and with the world in this fight. We can make it through together.

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If “Good Girls” shouldn’t be talking about Social Injustice, then I refuse to be one

When they said “Stay out of Politics so that you’ll still appear likeable to people,” my left brow raised. I will never understand why silence and blind obedience is likeable. I will never understand why I would crave to be liked by people who do not understand the importance of discussing topics like Politics and Religion. I would rather not be liked than submit to this kind of mindset.

In society where people are so used with silence and blind obedience, being vocal about Social Injustice means being different, especially when you are a girl. The term “Dalagang Pilipina” has long been interpreted by the Filipino community as being demure, silent, and being an obedient follower. That is why it wasn’t surprising that during the reign of Miss Universe 2018, Catriona Gray, she was bombarded by people who constantly told her to “stay out of Politics” or else it would backlash negatively on her image. Well, I’m glad that she didn’t listen.

Girls are told to just stay cute and sweet, so we stay likeable. When girls talk about bags, beauty, and shoes, nobody tells us to shut up. But when we open our mouths about critical topics, we suddenly become “Maldita.” Suddenly, we are overreacting and difficult to deal with. Our demure image suddenly vanishes, as if that matters.

Well, this article is for all the girls out there! This is me telling you to just be a badass!

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Skilled Workers remain preyed by Capitalists

The world is no longer surprised when issues on Capitalism surface. It is as if people being treated as merely money-making machines is already the norm. It is as if we all have accepted our fates that we will forever be slaves to this kind of a skewed system. The mere act of thinking about it sends me shivers of disgust. Does Capitalists even have a heart?

March 2nd of 2020, the whole Philippines was shocked by a hostage crisis. A former Security Guard of a shopping mall in Manila took 30 people as hostages, just so he can air out his grievances on his working conditions under his previous employer and uphold justice to his unjust termination. While it is right to condemn this heinous crime, it is even more heartbreaking to witness a noble person like him to resort to violence just so he can level the playground with his Capitalist bosses. It is evident in this story that this is not a criminal issue, but an issue on fair employment. Moreover, even up to this day, it is a known fact that many skilled workers all over the world are treated very poorly compared to the actual value these people bring to the table.

As a victim of the same skewed system, I feel greatly for Mr. Archie Paray, the Security Guard mentioned above. Him and me, together with billions of workers around the world actually exist, and this is our story.

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Here’s to the unsung Heroes of our Daily Lives

It was Autumn in Japan last year 2019, I walked under the colorful trees of Chikusa Park. The Gingko Trees bloomed in yellow, the Momoji were red, and all the other trees, which I do not know the names, where orange. I absolutely remember how I felt that day. I was at peace because work was finally doing fine. I sat at the Swing, smiling as I was watching the view. This view was just a mere dream when I was younger. How did I even get here? As soon as that question popped in my mind, I see countless faces of people who, in their own ways, have saved me in the past.

Recently, I’ve been nothing but grateful, because you see, a ship cannot sail without the wind. A castle cannot stand tall without a solid foundation. A bird cannot soar if it was not taught how to fly. The more I stop and look back, the more I see things clearly. Yes, we’ve made contributions ourselves, but our path was mostly built by our heroes.

Today, I am choosing gratitude. This is for those who cared. This is for those who chose to help and save. This is for those who gave. Here’s to all the unsung heroes out there.

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#LearnFromTheWorld: Let culturally-diverse Singapore teach us about Inclusivity

I’m from the Philippines. Despite the umbrella term “Filipino,” we are, in a way, a diverse country, and we are very far from becoming an inclusive nation. I grew up seeing fellow Filipinos encourage divisiveness against each other in terms of religion and ethnicity. For years, I was accustomed into thinking that this kind of divisiveness is too complex to fix that it has to become the norm. Meeting Singapore last year has absolutely proved me all wrong. Singapore has taught me that inclusivity in a diverse country is absolutely possible, and this is what this article is all about.

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Dear Breadwinner, can you please come through?

There you are walking through life with a smile, as if the load you carry isn’t heavy. You’ve been carrying it your whole life, that you’ve let it define you who you are, dictate you where you go, and stretch your lengths to what things you can do.

I know the depths of you.

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