Am I There Yet?

It has been a while since my last post. Specifically, it has been five months since my last post. And in that time, many things have happened. I have relapsed into depression, I have hurdled some of the greatest challenges in my career, met new people, and all in all just grew even more. One day, when I have graduated, I will look back on my whole college experience as this immense opportunity for growth. I have never grown as much as I have in this time. While college has brought me to a level lower than even a worm’s feet, it has also forced me to build myself back up from nothing.

 I have been bombarded with harsh truths for a long time, and because of this, I became so disllusioned and lost. But if there’s one word to describe growing up, it’s incorrigible. The world will not baby you. Life will not slow down just because you can’t catch up. So what if your superior is too demanding? So what if you already have a ton of deadlines to meet and you just found out you’ve been given another one? You still have to adjust and deliver. At first it was overwhelming, but it doesn’t bother me as much as it used to anymore. That is just how the world works. If you can’t function, you’ll stop; and stopping is not an option for me. I was previously tired of working so hard, but now I am tired of feeling sorry for myself. I just want to power through and come out strong. I want to one day be able to say without the tiniest hint of doubt that I am proud of myself. I don’t know when that will come, but I’m trying as hard as I can to make sure that it’s soon. 

One way that I’m trying to do that is by complaining less. I know myself better now. I’m sure that if I keep complaining, I will not be able to get any work done. I just try to concentrate more on getting whatever it is I need to do done. I have been quite proud of myself so far. I’m now doing a two-month internship away from home, and though it comes with its share of stress, it has been exhilarating to get a taste of the independent life. I have been sheltered for twenty-one years by my protective parents and brother. For the first time in my life, I don’t have them protecting me or stifling me. I can eat ice cream in the middle of the night just because I want to, I can drink without someone lecturing me about being a classy lady, and I’m in charge of my own schedule. This is not to say that I don’t love them; I do with my whole heart. But living under the hawk-eye gaze of my family with my independent spirit can get tiresome. There are many things you can’t do when you have conservative parents even if the millennial generation makes many previously scandalous things socially acceptable. Drinking and getting a tattoo, for example. My mother and I have gotten into fights because she will not be moved in her conviction that ladies will not be respected if they drink alcohol. Call it the old-fashioned probinsyana in my mother. My father still sees me as a little girl because he doesn’t see me as often. My older brother thinks I need protecting all the time because I’m the youngest. I’m trying to ease them out of their mindset little by little. 

But I digress. Manila has been so interesting. I come home, cook my own meals, do my own chores, take care of myself. Adjusting to the new environment hasn’t been that hard either. Philippine General Hospital is much like Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in a different dialect. Same adrenaline rush, same variation of patients. My Tagalog isn’t all that good, but it’s decent. It’s not just my career that’s been going through major changes. I’ve been meeting new people and seeing new places and changing to adapt to those new people and places. Even if it hasn’t exactly turned out the way I wanted it to and I thought it would, I cannot wait for more.

Disabled, Not Disheartened

I don’t usually write these types of essays, but being an Occupational Therapy student and a writer with a voice, I felt so strongly about what has occurred to me that I think I must let other people know about it. I hope my first attempt did well. 🙂

I went to the mall a few weeks ago with my family. It was a Sunday, and we had decided to go to the mall after church with our helpers. It is a common practice in the Philippines to employ maids for the family but also treat them as such, and my mother thought it would be nice for them to get out of the house. As we stepped onto the elevator, an elderly couple followed behind us with their helper and their daughter who was in a wheelchair. The wheelchair she was using wasn’t an ordinary one. It looked bulky and heavy, with a sturdy metal frame, a large, reclined back, a cushioned seat, and leg supports. The girl sitting in it was probably in her early teenage years, but she was so small that you could have mistaken her for ten or eleven. Her legs, carefully placed on the leg supports, were atrophied, minuscule compared to the rest of her body, and obviously incapable of any kind of movement. When she spoke, or rather, attempted to speak, her words came out as indiscernible grunts. Despite all this, she was happy. Her parents talked to her animatedly about eating at McDonald’s and possibly getting a free toy, and she laughed and giggled in delight. Throughout this exchange, our helper struggled to contain her mirth at they way this young girl talked.

Another time, I was having a sleepover with my high school friends. We had been planning it for a while, so we were very excited about it. At the time, I was going through the roughest part of my life and trying my hardest to get over it. After losing two loved ones consecutively in the same year and failing my subjects despite my best efforts, I was struggling to fight the depression that had already set in and making me lose touch with reality. I was trying every method I could think of to fight it, and that was part of the reason why I had invited my friends for a sleepover. I needed their support at a time when I could not support myself. So I confessed to them that I had depression and I wasn’t feeling like myself anymore, that it was affecting every part of my life. I poured my heart out to them hoping that it would help ease the heaviness in my chest. They did listen to me, but they laughed off my use of the term “depression”. They told me that it was too strong a word to describe just feeling sad. They told me that to be happy, all I needed to do was “choose to be happy and stop being so sad”. I laughed along with them, but the disappointment and shame I felt in that moment were indescribable.

I’m not writing about these anecdotes to vilify the people involved in them. Our family helper is a hardworking, spunky employee, and my high school friends have been with me for the longest time even if there were points when they misunderstood me. Rather, I’m writing to help them. These stories illustrate how disabilities, both physical and mental, are largely misunderstood in mainstream society. Person with physical impairments are usually shunned and treated as useless, less fortunate individuals who can’t contribute to society, especially in a third-world country like mine. Persons with mental disabilities are told that “it’s all in their heads”, “that they’re overreacting”, or “that they’ll get better if they just stop thinking about it”. Even worse, they are treated as a danger to society that one must avoid at all costs.

In a society that functions on normalcy and thrives on compliance, things that make one different are feared. As a result, anyone who is different is dehumanized. Anyone with a physical or mental disability can recount at least one circumstance of this. I need more than my ten fingers to count the many times I have seen or heard someone with a missing limb or crutches be bullied by people who don’t know any better. The same can be said for people with mental illnesses, who are constantly but needlessly told that they are weak. These people are so often casually called abnormal as if this is simply a fact and not a label that isolates them. The sad thing is that the more persons with disabilities hear the misappropriated labels that are assigned to them, the more firmly they believe them. This can occur most especially if he or she does not have enough social support. From then on, the person with the disability becomes involved in a cycle of victimization and self-pity that is difficult to break out of. We must remember that these labels hurt not just one person, but many. Whenever someone gets called abnormal, weak, stupid, or lame, the effect multiplies for the individual, his family, and his friends.

It’s funny because if you take the opposite of the word abnormal, which is normal, you realize that it’s not a compliment. No one has ever chosen to compliment another on how normal he is. With this reasoning, abnormal is not an insult as well. It is one because we make it out to be one. Sometimes, a person’s disability becomes so prominent in our minds that it’s all we can think about. A person may have a disability, but the disability doesn’t have them. Someone with cerebral palsy can still be a loving daughter or an honor roll student. A person using a wheelchair can still be a star athlete. A man with Down Syndrome can still be employee of the month. Many of the disadvantages that persons with disabilities currently have stem from the assumptions of society and not from their own incapabilities.

The real enemy here is ignorance. We, as human beings, are always frightened by what we don’t know. It is not necessarily right, but it is understandable. While it’s an evolutionary function that has kept us alive for millions of years, it’s not always applicable. Not much is taught in schools about the nature of disability, how it affects people, and how persons with disability must be dealt with the same respect one might give to able-bodied individuals. There are already existing laws for persons with disabilities, but these are rarely enforced properly. People need to be educated, and laws need to be more strictly implemented. Persons with disabilities could contribute so much to society if they only had equal opportunities. Society needs to learn that it’s not okay to sit quietly and do nothing about this problem just because it’s overshadowed by other recent issues. We must take action and overcome our own biases. In the same way that persons with disabilities are more than their conditions, we are more than the prejudices that we hold against them.

Something/Anything

Something/Anything

Hello and a lovely day of rainbows and sunshine to the person reading this 😊 I know I haven’t posted anything in a while and I’m sorry about that. I have depression, you see, and the past week I had quite a bad depressive episode. It’s still happening at the moment but it’s gotten better at least. I’ll be talking more about this in an upcoming post if you’d like to read about this experience I had. But for now, here’s a new not-really-but-sort-of-poem from yours truly. Enjoy!


It was another one of those minor arguments we always had. Not the kind that erupted into full-blown fits of rage, but the almost quintessential affectionate scuffle. Like whether we were going to have Italian or Japanese for dinner tonight or who was the best Beatle.

“They’re the same thing,” you said.

“No they’re not,” I replied, wrinkling my nose in protest.

“Prove it,” you said, a challenging smile dancing on your lips.

“Fine,” I said, effectively sealing the challenge.

Do you know why I stepped up to the challenge? The answer to that question is reading this right now. You are the reason why I know anything and something are two entirely different things despite their interchangeability.

Let me explain it to you.

Anything is fleeting, flighty, insignificant. It does not leave a mark on me, nor does it have a special place in my heart. The first boy I liked when I was just eight years old, whom I have not thought of in years and of whose whereabouts I now have no knowledge. The plastic bangle I won in the carnival which I misplaced somewhere and never found again. The glance that stranger gave me as I shopped for groceries. These things are lost to me now, buried so deep in the recesses of my mind that I can scarcely recall them even if I want to. Anything…doesn’t mean anything.

Something, on the other hand…

Something is special and different. No matter what you do, where you go, or who you meet, nothing you encounter will ever be similar. You can search forever, and all your efforts will be in vain. The twinkle in your warm brown eyes every time we see each other. The pencil you lent me the first time we met, which led to our first ever conversation. The warmth of your arms around my body.

Every single one of these things gives me a unique feeling. You give me a unique feeling. I can forget other things, but never these. And somehow, I know that without you, I will never find this feeling anywhere else. Not in a million lifetimes.


Self-Destruction Part II

There is a certain beauty

In the thrill of danger

Staring down certain doom

And escaping narrowly

It brings a rush

Such excitement

To be given

A second life

It is exhilarating

To know not

Whether you’ll live or die

And end up

Making it through

To the other side

I crave this adrenaline rush

The charged feeling

Of being powerless and powerful at the same time

My boldness shall be the death of me

But I can scarcely bring myself to care

I shall be the instrument of my own destruction

The catalyst of my doom

The maker of my end

Constantly pushing the boundaries

Without fear and without dread

As such, I’m at once attracted

To the things that can hurt me

Tales of horror that could stop my heart

Feats of danger

That can be performed only

By those foolhardy enough

To face the dire consequences

Anything that will endanger my life

I’m willing to try

For the sheer joy

Of living to tell the tale

You were one such danger

I knew you were trouble for me

The first moment I met you

There was a fatal gleam in your eyes

You smiled at me like a knife

How foolish I was to think

That you were just another

New challenge

That I could handle you

Just as I did

The last times

I danced with danger

Oh, how you disarmed me

One look, and I was all yours

I gave you my delicate heart

To hold in your hands

Trusting that such a beautiful creature

Would guard it with his life

Instead you bared your fangs

For just the tiniest second

And you let it drop

And shatter like glass

What am I to do now?

I see I have met my match

You forced someone as proud as myself

To her knees

This proud, voracious girl

Once ready to take on any challenge

Humbled and beaten

In the worst possible way

Self-Destruction Part I

I never believed in sacrifice

I thought

It was the kingdom

Of the martyrs

I believed

It was a masochistic rationalization

Of the self-harm one did

Convincing himself

That it was for the greater good

I did not believe in bleeding

For imperfect people

Who do not deserve

My untainted, selfish tears
I thought Jesus

Chose to live in heaven

Not to die for us

In the ultimate sacrifice

But to escape us,

The monsters He has created.

And He sits atop His throne of gold

Watching from afar in sadness

Because His offspring,

His pride and joy

Are too far gone

For salvation
I turned my nose up

At the rest who came after him

The saints who willingly

Subjected themselves

To burning, disembowelment, drowning

All forms of torture

For the religion they loved so

And I found myself in consternation

At the lovesick

Those who deluded themselves

Into thinking

That the person they loved

Loved them in return

And kept the delusion alive

With pills, alcohol, and drugs

Imagining every blow a gentle caress

Every hurtful word a kiss

Crying themselves to sleep every night

Just to repeat the cycle the next morning
No, I decided

I would not allow myself

To undergo such pain

No cause, person, or thing

Was good enough for my suffering

My heart was made of cold, cold ice

My bones, of the hardest rock

Fire flowed through my electric veins

That ran freely under my skin of steel

I thought myself indestructible
That is, until I met you.

You shone a light in my life

So bright

It burned me

Your ideas inflamed my soul

Your very being shook me to my core

And before I knew what was happening,

My promise to myself

Crumbled to dust

My indestructible self shattered

You stripped me of my armor

Until I was vulnerable and scared

More naked than I could ever be

Even with all my clothes on
And every word you say to me from hereon

Will wound me

Draw blood from my very soul

Your touch will leave its mark

In the form of scars

That will never truly heal

Because the only antidote

For the pain you dealt me

Will be the love

That you cannot give me
Yet who am I to force you

When you are happy

With someone else?

For the first time

I no longer care

For my self-preservation

My love for you

Is my ruination

And you will be the death of me

But your happiness is my happiness

No matter if it kills me

End

There is a certain sweet sadness

In letting go

In letting fate and nature

Take their course

And in allowing destiny

To control your future

As it should

In knowing that the fight is over

And whether you won or lost

No longer matters
Maybe you feel

That you are losing the battle

Because it’s not one

That’s meant to be won

Maybe you feel

That you’re grasping at straws

Because there’s nothing left

To hold on to

Anymore
Rest, love

You are too spent

To go any further

Even if you will not admit it

Your heart is weary

And your soul has

Reached its limit
You gave it your all

Now, do not regret

The gift you wanted

Was simply not meant for you

But for someone else

Do not be so selfish

To take something

That isn’t yours

Just trust, that one day

What is meant for you

Will simply find its way

Wherever you are

Whenever the time

For all the best reasons
Let the raging storm

Of your emotions

Slowly dissipate

From black, foreboding clouds

To wispy streaks of cotton

Until all that’s left

Is a calm quiet

Where everything

Is cleaner, safer

And a blank slate

Where you can start over

Renewed.

Refreshed.

Healed.

That Girl

That Girl
Wrote this because it’s already two o’ clock and I’m still waiting for my research groupmates who said they’d get here at Coffee Bean Scent at one. This piece is pretty much a literary quickie. It’s not exactly a poem, essay, or short story which I think makes it even better. Literature can take on any form it wants as long as it touches people’s emotions. 



If you’re expecting me to be the girl of your dreams, I’m sorry to disappoint you.

I’m far from it actually. I have zits here and there on my face, a roll of fat spilling out of my jeans, and short, stumpy legs. My teeth have gone crooked from a lack of funds with which to pay the orthodontist. I’m not necessarily ugly, but my face isn’t one you’d look twice at either. Once, one of my mother’s friends said I might grow up to be attractive, which I don’t really think counts as a compliment. If you were to single me out from a group of girls, you would likely be wrong with your choice. I would be that one. The one at the end of the line, the one you completely missed.

I’m ordinary as ordinary can be. Nothing special. A certified Plain Jane. At a glance, there is not much you would remember me by. No striking features, no outrageous hairstyles or wacky clothing. I’m just a simple girl in a ratty t-shirt, jeans, and Chucks. I’m not the perfect, shining, saccharine-sweet princess you’re searching for. If anything, I’m the princess of awkwardness and lame sarcastic jokes.

But here is one thing I know. I may not capture your eyes, but I sure as hell will ensnare your heart and mind. You will be attracted to someone else at first, someone prettier and overall nicer, but I am the one who will engage you forever. Little by little, you will find certain characteristics in me that will draw you in. It may be my sarcasm, my complete refusal to conform to the majority, or even my brokenness. Whatever it is, with those characteristics, I will hold your heart in my hands without you knowing until it’s too late. I will be the dark horse. The one who came out of the blue. The girl who came in the night. The one you didn’t see coming. Slowly and tenderly, like a spring flower opening its delicate petals to the raindrops, you will feel a love for me grow in you. And no matter what happens, no matter what circumstances come our way, you will never forget me. Despite my lack of extraordinary traits, I will leave an indelible mark on you.

You see, that is just who I am. I’m the unexpected one. No one saw me coming into your life and affecting it in such a profound way, not even me.

That is how you will remember me.