The halfway mark

Hello!

While I have been writing more than usual, and re-posting those articles on Foreign Filipina, I’m aware that I haven’t made a personal update on this blog in awhile.  Now it’s already June and half of the year has gone by. In a couple of weeks I’m turning 25 and reaching the mid-twenties mark. I’m reminded of what Britney Spears once said, “I’m not a girl, not yet a woman.” But replace the lyrics with “I’m not a kid, not yet an adult.”

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These past 6 months I have been feeling myself grow up, not as a sense of becoming, but a knowing that I’ve already arrived. I know that we’re always going to change, but there’s a beauty in accepting who you are, where you are, flaws and all, now at this certain point in time. A quiet echo that resonates through your entire being. A centre that keeps you balanced and gives you the perspective to weather any unfortunate circumstance.

I feel incredibly grateful for the now.

To be working in a healthy environment (with a good client) where I’m learning how to refine and sharpen my skills.

To be able to still write regularly on the side for a publication that I respect and trust.

To be able to travel far and wide without (too much) guilt and not burning a hole in my savings.

To be able to start and maintain my own passion project (www.outandabroad.com).

To be healthy(er), and pushing my physical fitness by actually going to the gym and running regularly.

To have people whom I love and trust in my life.

I realize now that happiness is a lifestyle choice.  It’s a sum total of what you surround yourself with from the people you hang out with to what you do in your spare time and on the weekends. Once you realize that, then every decision you make should work towards to crafting the life of love and happiness that you want.

Here’s to the rest of 2015.

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2014: A year in settling down

2014

I’ve always been a creature of change. I’m restless, constantly moving, living upside down and side-ways. Change was my trigger for growth and I’ve always been proud of my ability to weather a storm, drizzle, downpour, typhoon and all. My more ‘mature’ self was the pot to look forward to at the end of the rainbow.

That’s why change, in one form or another, was my underlying year-end lesson of 2012 and 2013. But to my surprise, it isn’t my theme for 2014. Getting settled is. And what I’ve learned is that stability can make you grow too. It isn’t synonymous with complacency.

The start of 2015 marks my third year of living in Singapore and second year of my (first) relationship. It’s the first time I’ve welcomed the new year with the same job that I genuinely enjoy. My neighbourhood feels like a home and my errands don’t feel like a chore. I have a constant group of friends. I actually have savings that I look forward to growing instead of using as an emergency fund.

It’s not that 2014 was lacking in change because it was with the momentum of a new job, traveling solo for the first time and to 9 places in total, family/career milestones and mistakes. But I can’t deny this feeling that every bit of change is giving me a clearer picture of who I am and the life I want. Indeed I’m getting settled — settled into myself that is. And that makes all the difference.

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I’m a firm believer that you have to test yourself in order to find yourself. Actually, let me rephrase. You have to keep testing yourself in order to keep on evolving because humans are naturally dynamic individuals. Heck, I’ve tried a kazillion of things in my short lifetime and will keep on doing so. But what I’ve learned in 2014 is that longevity breeds familiarity, which in turn develops the inner confidence and trust in ourselves that we need to evolve and ride the recurring waves of change.

I’m incredibly thankful for the year that was, finding the balance between work-life-travel-writing and a creative outlet for the things I love; and strengthening even longer lasting relationships with loved ones. 2014 was the warmup. 2015 is game time – a chance for me to really step up, keep my balance and ride those waves. It’s going to be an epic year. I can feel it.

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Closing time

Lovely way to think of the big What If’s

Timing plays the Devil’s Advocate,  back then, until now, and always.

Seven years ago, in 2005, I sat in a room filled with kids just like me: bright, promising, driven. I met Jose Rizal, this dark-skinned guy with a semi-stache resembling our national hero, whose math skills were probably much better than mine. (Math sucks.) How could I compete with this reincarnation of Jose Rizal? I was just a wide-eyed girl with fire in her eyes — smart enough, but never really the smartest; talented perhaps, but not yet the best. Hard working? Yes, very. To make up for what I lacked.

I know it’s silly and cliche, especially for a rationale person like me, but my life has always given me reasons to believe in providence, fate, that everything happens for a reason. While I believe in creating opportunity, sometimes we stumble upon it by chance. Those instances are what make me a believer, kneeling down on the holy ground of the Universe, with a transcendental edge over Jose Rizal.

Fast forward to :44 and 1:27

Seven years ago I became a follower, in that fortuitous moment of getting my life-changing scholarship back to International School Manila (ISM).

In 2000 I left because of financial difficulty (international education is expensive), only to  return by chance, because my mother was in charge of the refreshments for the initial screening, a few days away.  A test I wasn’t allowed to take in 2000 because I didn’t come from a local school. A test that now would coincidentally put me back in the same grade, for a scholarship specially made for that year. It’s like I never left.

It turns out this was the wrong date but I found the meme timely anyway because June 27 is the day I moved toSingapore

Fast forward to 2012, and I’ve committed myself to yet another accidental opportunity: Singapore. Continue reading

Twenty two, twenty-something

Twenty somethings. We’re  smiling uncertainties

Every birthday I like predicting what the upcoming age will be like. My transition to twenty was about life turning beautifully real. At twenty one, I took my cue from Bella Swan and used my absolute certainties to “discover the rest of the world with conviction and honesty.”

Now I’m  two years into this phenomenon we call the twenty-somethings. Thought Catalog packages this stage as the  “I’m not a girl, not yet a woman” refrain of a Britney Spears song. It’s supposedly the voice of our generation. We have one foot in reality (sometimes just a toe), while dragging the other behind us, most especially if you just graduated from college and are now faced with the pressures from the real world.

Personally, Thought Catalog has become too whiny for my taste, using youth too much to get out of jail. When pressure cracks the floodgates, it overflows with torrents of excuse and complaint and undermining the value of hard work.

I’m a twenty something now who’s about to start working. Twenty two to be exact. To me that means that I have more control over my life to do whatever I want not only in the present, but the future.

They say to make the most out of your twenties right? But how about your thirties? Forties? At this fertile stage, this defining decade, I want to have fun and work hard in a way that will help me perpetuate it in the future when I’m not twenty-something anymore, no longer with hands  in the pockets of my parents.  So in that way, I can be young forever.

I love being a twenty-something.  To me it’s the perfect time to…

Question… your beliefs, society, the system. Be open. Form your own opinions.

Talk… to your parents. Now that I’m older I appreciate my parents more now. They are a goldmine of knowledge, wisdom and stories. You don’t have to agree with them, but their insights will give you a better gauge of reality. It’s best to be prepared.

Listen… to people. It’s hard to listen nowadays with so many people wanting to voice their opinions online.

Think… critically about the world, because everything affects you.

Share… your thoughts, passions, insecurities, fears, etc. Put yourself out there and you’ll be surprised at the amount of people willing to help you or feel the same way you do.

Give… back to those who have helped you become the person you are.

It’s an impressionable period that’s simultaneously both young and old; a balancing act of recklessness, experimentation and responsibility. I’m a twenty-something, which means that when I start work next week, I have more power to decide the life that comes next.

Love, happiness and trusting your gut

Hello from Singapore!

I’ve been here since May 10. Flying back to Manila next week will mark the “real world” chapter of my life. Yes, I’m both anxious and excited to get my “shit together,” but its been a summer of changing priorities on life, career and people.

 “Do what you love,” is the common motivational theme in the work force. As a person who’s passionate about her pursuits, I agree — but maybe not exactly to its full extent anymore.

Perhaps the bare minimum is to do what makes you happy. You don’t necessarily have to make a career out of what you love because you can do that in spite of it. The lucky few can do both. For the rest, relax. It’s okay.

I think people often feel lost, confused and unfulfilled in the process of trying to figure out what they love doing, most especially my batchmates who like me, are fresh-faced from college. But then you risk getting so caught up in it.

Just start with something that makes you happy. Excited. Piques your interest. Something that doesn’t make you despise going to work the next day. Then love and meaning will always find its way.

I am and will probably always be an ambitious person, but now more than ever do I believe in living simply and honestly. I am not my work. My work is simply an extension of who I am, which I think allows me to embrace whatever comes my way. To be happy whatever comes my way.

As for people, well, so far the last couple of months have been surprising, with the interesting people who have entered and those who have sadly left my life. Constants that turn into variables. Bridges that break, rather than burn, are the worst. They leave you hanging until the point of letting go.

I’ve been discerning a lot while I’ve been here. (Yeah, yeah, I’ve been thinking too much haha.) In less than a week I’ll be back in Manila, answering some open ended questions with my gut.

Tuesdays with Pops – Don’t just scratch your balls

People are filled with stories. Some travel all around the world to find them while others bury themselves in books and get lost in movies. I’ve met my fair share of characters who make meeting them, even if only briefly, interesting.

From coffee shops to bars, I’ve always looked outside of the house for my stories until I recently realized that I was living with one. My pops. Sometimes we forget that our parents had a life too.

So, Tuesdays with Pops (TWP) is born! I’ve had this idea for months now. I just recently had the time to sit down and write.  Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie inspired the title. I first picked up a copy when i was 12 and now I realize that its story didn’t stop when I came to the last chapter. In its own way Morrie’s story and everything it stood for continued through me.

When you get older at some point you realize that hanging and talking out with your parents isn’t uncool anymore. Being the youngest and “daddy’s little girl,” Pops always gave unsolicited advice. Back then I listened not only by running away, but by coming home past curfew, passing out in my room and learning the hard way. Funny how now I’m the one who’s  making the initiative to talk. TWP is my attempt to listen, learn and to love from a wise old man. He’s better than a real life Morrie. He’s my Pops.

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Me: So Pops, what do you want to talk about?

Pops: Anything. Life, love, you name it. 

Me: How about work? Since I need to find a job soon. 

Pops: Work? Pssh, work is easy. It’s common sense. But you have to have the necessary skills especially when you’re up there to make the proper decisions.

The world is a big, bad and scary place, especially after college when you need to find a job. But we are fickle minded people living in a constantly changing world. The faster it spins, the worse we experience vertigo, even if we’re just standing. Pop’s points out fundamental principles we need to keep from falling. It’s not as complex as it seems.

Be like Leo 

“It’s like driving your car. When you know how to drive you can drive any kind of car. It’s just about getting a license. “

I suppose that means you can drive where ever you want to go too. I suddenly thought of Leonardo De Caprio in Catch Me If You Can. No wonder Frank Abagnale Jr., a real life con artist can get away as a pseudo pilot, doctor and layer and succeed doing it.

Regardless of the industry, there’s a basic framework he says. “The corporate set ups are all the same. You have the owners, shareholders, execom, etc. Of course there are variations depending on what your needs are and innovation makes it faster.”

Even though I have an idea of the career I want to pursue after college, maybe knowing exactly what I want to do is not the fundamental principle here. Rather it’s understanding the patterns behind people, the world, and society so you know how and where to place your talents and succeed in whatever you want to do. Without this understanding, maybe that’s why people get so lost later on in life.

Pops says don't just scratch your balls.

So where’s my place? 

“If you’re an executive you’re paid to make decisions. They don’t hire you so you just scratch your balls there. Right? They pay you for your skills and what you have in your brain. You might be a paraplegic but if you have the skills stored in your brain then you’re okay. “

I don’t have balls (obviously) and if I did I don’t think I’m the type to scratch them (at least in public. Do it in secret.)

Me: But pops, even if I’m the type to become an executive, there are hundreds of people who can do what I do. I don’t have that technical expertise which gives others their competitive edge.

Earlier Pops used an example of a pilot. You can’t just replace him with someone because  not everyone knows how to fly a plane and the company still needs to fly people out the next day. So, what then?

Find your Q = RSF

Pops: You will not be paid just because you’re Rica Facundo. You’re paid for your output — the quality and need for it. 

Me: But my output makes me Rica Facundo.

After briefly explaining to me some basic accounting principles where assets = liabilities + capital, he suggested I make my own equation:

Q (uality) = r s f (Rica Salanguit Facundo)

There’s definitely more to add to my personal equation. But whatever that balance might turn out to be, I must keep one other thing in mind. Lets re-write that shall we.

Q(UALITY) = RSF (RICA SALANGUIT FACUNDO)

Because, Pops says, “In the real world you should always write your name in all caps.”

Teach me how to duck face

A friendly reminder

The universe has a funny sense of humor. Despite the context, I couldn’t help but laugh when i saw this cab drive pass me at around 2:30 AM on a Thursday night, er, Friday morning.

It sends me this friendly reminder during the most unusual circumstance, in the most unexpected place at an ungodly hour.  If you can’t see it properly it says “Grateful.”

When life feels uncertain, take a moment and remember to be grateful. It makes even the craziest situations seem beautiful. For anything, all you need is grace.

What uncanny timing you have, universe.

Living offline means…

(because I’ve been updating my blog so poorly lately… )

… strengthening relationships face-to-face instead of face-to-computer.

… getting to know new people through talking and not tweeting/facebooking/stalking.

… experiencing/confronting reality instead of distracting yourself from it.

… creating stories instead of just reading about it.

… feeling and thinking in present time and not “real time.”

… walking around instead of sitting down.

… Thesis.

… Org.

… Acads.

… Life.

Oh, the stories the last month and a half could tell. For many different reasons its been a real interesting and emotional roller coast ride complete with unexpected turns, tear jerking lows and accidental highs. I don’t know if I can say it’s over, but somehow I’m surviving, with the safety bar placed to prevent my heart from falling into the pits of my stomach. And in an attempt to still try and seize the day and keep my sanity from falling out of my seat, I raise my hands above my shoulder while secretly shouting my frustrations and fears into the sky. This is so they won’t be with me when I get back down. Often interesting/exciting/tumultuous events cluster and occur together but are always offset by something hard to weight it down.

The experience feels like its only been a couple of minutes, but it turns out, its already been 2 months.

In the mean time, for the sake of life updating this blog, when I’m not doing this:

Long nights at Seattles -- my dwelling spot. When I'm online, it's mostly to work

In the last 2 months, living offline has also been (that i have pictures of)…

Fez's despedida. Leaving means going all out, not only for Fez but his friends too. Whatta night.

Keena's 21st!

Sam's birthday in the party-girl world of fiammuh.

JunJun boys birthday.

Casa nami rockeoke mondays! Joe "serenaded" aka publicly embarrassed me (which was his intention) aka setting the bar for any attempts by future boyfriends.

Model UN/ IS high school friends came up north to visit me!

Cooking with Cibbie! Kebab night! We cooked hummus and about 100 sticks of kebab. Too full to function!

What do you call a girl who cooks kebabs? keBABES. #corny but #benta, yes? (Or that's just me.)

The daily commute

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I’ve been commuting since first year of college so I’m used to experiencing the third world by foot: streets littered with yosi, half-finished buildings and the noise of urban honkers (jeeps and the kuyas in those jeeps). If i’m not lost in thought, these are some of the things I usually casually observe when I’m in transit.

But earlier this afternoon while I was walking along Anonas on my way to the LRT station I took some time not only to look at my surroundings, but of the people in it. And not just any old apathetic glance that skims over broken tsinelas and disregards sleeping side walk vendors mind you. But a genuine look into the eyes of my passerby’s, to find meaning beneath the sweat upon their skin and the weariness behind their expressions.

Then i wondered:  How come I’ve never done this before? In my four years of commuting why have I always just walked on by, absorbed by the noise, but only skimming the surface of the chaotic commute? Why are we hesitant to really look?

Picture taken by Anaelle Arreza

Because it’s scary to face reality, reflecting in the eyes of those who are affected by it.

So we focus on the the yosi filled streets, half-finished buildings, noise of urban honkers, broken tsinelas, and side walk vendors… We’re used to this clutter. They have no feelings. Ironically, sometimes the pervasiveness of problems makes it appear normal. Somehow in the daily commute of life we forget that it’s actually not.

But we can’t drudge on forever. It’s unnerving to look at the problem in the eye, but one day when we’re brave enough to, even if we don’t want to, we’ll never see the daily commute the same way again.

Crossing bridges

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Sorry, I haven’t been blogging lately.The lack of internet access at the dorm and painfully slow laptop has prevented me from doing so. There’s so much I want to write about like when people say “I’ll cross that bridge when I get there”, but secretly hope that they don’t ever have to.  But life is complicated and coming face-to-face with those temporarily displaced bridges of our lives is what makes it tough and exciting.

“What do you really want?” is probably one of the hardest questions to genuinely answer. Before it only used to pick at my brain and toy with my heart categorically, like for relationships and dating or career. But actually, it’s the underlying question that anchors everything you do in life.

Sure, in order to gain a good grasp of our likes and dislikes it’s necessary to explore and experiment. But when presented with a fundamental option, the decision should not be made circumstantially. That is what makes it difficult to make. Over time maybe things have changed but are the experiences enough to make more than a marginal difference and influence an ultimate decision?

Discernment is difficult when the promise of  opportunity knocks and life tells you should always take it when it comes or else feel regret. The glitter is tempting, but in these cases I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer. Just the genuine one. I think that the bigger regret will be when you weren’t being true to yourself, or not sticking up for it.

“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your on inner voice. Even if it’s a big risk, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.” Knowing what you really want… that’s what you should use to gauge what’s worth pursuing. Everything else is arbitrary. Even though it’s a difficult question to answer, it’s surprisingly liberating how easy everything feels afterwards.

As my sister advised me, “There’s no right or wrong answer, and you can’t control the outcome of your choice so just choose and be confident with your choice.” I’ve made my decision, and whatever the outcome will be, what’s important is that i know i’ll have peace of mind.