LAUNCHING: Project Batang Hilongosnon

During my birthday last year, I promised that I’m moving my advocacy for Education forward this year. I imagined that I would launch it by the time I celebrate my 2020 birthday, which is this December. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed us all to the edges.

Did you know that as you are sitting comfortably in your study table ready for your online classes everyday, there are students and teachers;

• Who are stopping their studies because they cannot afford online classes?
• Who are climbing mountains just for mobile signal?
• Who do not have the penny to even pay for an hour in the internet cafe to download their study modules?
• Who do not have the gadgets to watch the videos of their learning modules?

That’s the reality of many Filipinos in the new normal. Not everyone has the privilege that you have. We must extend our hands to help everyone. Not tomorrow or next year, but NOW.

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They said He’s not Good Enough for Me

It is so twisted how people can easily tell you that you are undeserving of love. Since when did love become exclusive? Since when did people become undeserving of love?

“Uyab mo? Dapat nangita sad kag imong katimbang oy.” (You’re in a relationship with him? You should’ve chosen someone in the same level as you.)

“Dapat nanguyab ka’g taga syudad.” (You should’ve chosen someone from the city.)

“Ikaw humana ka’g college, pero diba siya kay bag-o paman na hingbalik og eskwela?” (You already graduated from college while he’s still starting, right?)

Those were the words I received from other people way back 2014, when Anton and I just started. When I heard those words, I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t believe how this toxic mindset and culture are deemed right and just. I froze there, silent and devastated. Those were the very words my man had to endure in silence. People thought he did not deserve me just because he’s underprivileged. I was hurt, but I know that he was the one who was hurt the most.

Today is a story we are so used to seeing in the movies. However this time, you will read real struggles of two people who never believed that there are lesser or better people when it comes to love.

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Dear Strange One

I’m one of the odd and strange ones, and I think that’s okay.

One huge reason of having a personal blog is to take my readers to my journey with me. I want to share every bliss, every heartache, every lesson learned, every failures, and every success to every reader who cares. Why? Because I want to remind everyone that you are not alone, that you got an ally in me, and that I am with you in this journey. Today, I am again sharing a part of my journey that will again make me look vulnerable. A part of my journey that will once again unveil my struggles. I am being brave today in the hopes that this honest confession will also give courage and company to those who need it the most.

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Yes, We will not Stop

Everyday, in the past 4 months, I’ve constantly been depressed with all the news I read and hear. All the stories of people’s struggles and suffering all over the world have taken a toll on me, emotionally and mentally. There have been countless moments when I wanted to cave in, when I wanted to just live off-grid in order to save my sanity. However, last Friday I came across an Instagram video from the ever inspiring Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. More than a video about her victory on the recently concluded US Congressional elections, it was also a video about being brave and being a constant patch of hope to people. She said; “It’s an honor to work shoulder-to-shoulder with each and everyone of you in a movement for a better world. We will not stop.” Those words rang in my ears, throbbed my heart, and reminded my consciousness about a very important lesson. It is in these trying times that we are all needed. It is in these dark times that our stands must be visible and our voices be heard. It is in these critical moments that we should continue to push forward despite the shackles of oppression and repression that bind us. These moments are turning points, and we must not stop.

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Back in Cebu South: Binalayan and Inambakan Falls

Reminiscing my trip back home to the Philippines last August 2019, I realized that I haven’t yet blogged about our exciting first time visit to 2 beautiful waterfalls in Cebu South. With that, I am launching my blog’s #TravelTuesdays special with this unforgettable experience of ours during our visit to these pristine waterfalls in the Queen City of the South!

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I hope you don’t give up on the Philippines

It’s very easy to give up on the Philippines. To be honest, like you, that thought crossses my mind once in a while, too, because of countless reasons. It is difficult to live in the country, with 16.6% of the Filipinos living below poverty line and countless are barely making above it. Many of our professionals, like myself, choose to leave the country for work because of the lack of opportunities available to lead a better life in it. We have heartless elitists who look at the rest of our countrymen with disgust. We have countless corrupt politicians who never miss an opportunity to pocket Filipino money whenever they can. Lastly, I’m sure many would agree with me that our current leadership is constantly failing us.

Eversince the COVID-19 Pandemic reached the Philippines, I’ve been tremendously depressed by blow after blow of discouraging news about the country. It started with our government leaders being more concerned with China’s feelings over the health and safety of our countrymen. And it went downhill from there. We’ve seen the government implement a lockdown without proper planning and preparations. We’ve experienced countless clownery of those people in power, starting from the late-night rants of a President, to DOH apologizing to China over their low quality products, to the ECQ violations of a Senator, of big names who are supporter of the admin, and most recently, of a Police chief. We’ve witnessed how DOH undermined the services of our healthworkers. We’ve seen how our country is slowly succumbing to the power of China by allowing POGO workers to operate and most recently airing the Wow China! radio program in a state-owned radio channel. We have also not fixed yet the overcharging of PhilHealth on their newly launched premium prices, putting the burden of the Universal Health Care on the salaried workers’ shoulders. The most heartbreaking parts are the continued and countless social injustices that are done to common Filipino citizens, starting from the recent victims of Police violence, with many who lost their lives and livelihood in it. There have also been countless victims of shoot-to-kill, warrantless arrests, unreasonable violence the public received from the authorities recently. We should also not forget the 11,000 workers of ABSCBN adding to the hundreds of thousands Filipinos who have already lost their jobs to this pandemic. Apart from all of these social injustices that we received from our government recently, it is also heartbreaking to see other Filipinos dragging their countrymen down just because of their blind support to a politician. All of these are just heartbreaking, discouraging, and hopeless! Alright, have a long deep breath. I know. I know that feeling, and I am very familiar with it. But, I hope we keep the faith. I hope we don’t give up on the Philippines.

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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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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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