30 Things to Do Before I Turn 30

I just turned 29 last Tuesday.

I’m a bit sad because I just got older.  Haha.  But then I remembered that I should be thankful I’m still alive, still blessed, and still loved.

Some major things happened on my 28th year.  I finally decided to commit to veganism, I began with Neocatechumenal Way, I fell in love with Francis, the library finally opened, I lost my son Inoo, and then I was elected the new coordinator of our ministry.  For the most part my 28th year was great, except of course, Inoo dying.  And getting elected to look after a bunch of assertive and seasoned Church readers is scary.

Having said that, I’m really hoping to do a lot on my 29th.  That is, if God permits.  Every year, I make a list of things I plan to accomplish for the next 365 1/4 days but nothing really happens.  I can’t even finish filling my Belle de Jour Power Planner, you know.  But I’m thinking if I make them simpler, measurable, and attainable, I’d be able to do them.

Here they are, the things I want to have done before I turn 30:

  1. Cook and bake only vegan food.
  2. Eat vegan ice cream once.
  3. Eat at a vegan restaurant like Green Bar once.
  4. Own one vegan statement shirt/sweater.
  5. Perfect a vegan bread recipe.
  6. Have homemade vegan lunch at work at least three times a week.
  7. Drink 4 liters of water every day.
  8. Be more flexible.  Gotta do those Boho Beautiful workouts properly.
  9. Workout at least 5 times a week.
  10. Pay up my credit cards.
  11. Save P50,000.
  12. Go on a couple weekend getaway trip once.
  13. Redesign my bedroom.  Get the sunshine in!
  14. Speaking of, aim for at least 30 minutes of morning sun three times a week.
  15. Read 12 books.
  16. Do a Daniel Fast once.
  17. Go on a two-day screen fast once.
  18. Limit eating out to once a month.
  19. Compete for the research contest.
  20. Finish business plan for my vegan restaurant.  Even if the whole thing doesn’t materialize.
  21. Seriously let Francis teach me to ride a bicycle.
  22. Apply and get interviewed for a job once.  It doesn’t really matter if I get hired.  It’s just that I’d never competed for a job in my life.  Gotta start facing my greatest fear: rejection.
  23. Never do office work on a Sunday.
  24. Aim to attend at least 75% of my Mass schedules.
  25. Surprise a loved one.
  26. Do a Marie Kondo purge once.
  27. Pray every single day.
  28. Hike once.
  29. Love a new furbaby.  Kuya Inoo would be happy.  And raise him/her vegan.
  30. Grow sunflowers.

There.

Wish me luck!

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To Inoo, My Prince

You should’ve turned eight yesterday, my love. I should’ve made a cake for you. I was saving the carob for yesterday, because dogs can’t have chocolate, and Chloe Coscarelli has this recipe for pupcakes I was dying for you to try. But I didn’t bake. I didn’t even cook your favorites. I don’t know, my prince. Not a lot of things interest me anymore since you flew to heaven. Most of the time I dread going home because you wouldn’t be there to welcome me. Or waking up because I wouldn’t be seeing you anyway. Truth is, I also find it hard to pray because I’m still secretly angry at God for not letting you live for 200 years when that’s all I was asking for. I hate our resident priest, too, you know, because he said dogs can’t love so I shouldn’t love you. The only beautiful thing that’s happening now is Uncle Francis. He takes care of mawmaw as you asked. He still includes you in our prayers. Does God tell you? The rest I don’t really care about.

I’m wondering, my love, when do I move on? But more importantly, do I really want to move on? Do I want that, to not miss you anymore? To slowly forget? I remember someone saying how our pain is self-inflicted. This could be. But I wouldn’t want this any other way.

I want to remember you forever. If that means I’d mourn for you forever, I want that, too. I love you.

Do you remember these pictures? These were when you jumped on the bed and let me hug you until I fell asleep. For the last time. 

Because It’s Pentecost Sunday: The Girl Called “Makahiya”

I remember that Friday in March two years ago.  I was wearing blue and praying intently, thanking God for the gift I didn’t deserve.  Then, the girl who read at the Mass said the priest wanted to see me.  Without any idea why, I followed her to where the priest was and he said, “Would you like to read?”

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Would I like to read?

If you’d known me just recently, you’d find it hard to believe that I used to have a bad case of stage fright.  (On the other hand, people who knew me from college would find it hard to believe that I talk a lot now.)  In school, I dreaded having to recite and report.  If only I can get away with just sitting there listening and taking exams and doing papers, school would’ve been a piece of cake.  I remember losing my voice in the midst of a Shakespeare report and once in college I literally wept.

Someone even had a simile for me: I was “makahiya” – or bashful mimosa, a sensitive plant that folds to the slightest touch.  Talk to me and I would be lost for words.  Literally.

Would I like to read?

Being a lifetime reader, of course I would like to read.  I became a librarian because I thought I could read everything I wanted.  Guess I’d leave everything for a job that paid me to do nothing but read.

But reading for the Mass is different.  Reading for the Mass means walking up in front and proclaiming the Word of God for the whole congregation.

I, the girl who would cry if asked to speak before more than five people, the girl whose social vocabulary consisted of “yes,” “no,” and “maybe.”  I can’t do it.  Knowing my limitations, I replied, “Yes, Father.”

Why did I say that?  I don’t know.  All I know, and I remember the feeling clearly, is something inside compelled me to answer nothing but “Yes, Father.”

On May 30, 2015, I was installed as a member of the Ministry of Lectors and Commentators.

Today, I read for ordinary day and Sunday Mass.  I am also an anchor of our radio show.  I sing (and dance) in public now.  I do emcee-ing for trainings and programs, even without preparations.  And I talk to people now.

Who would’ve thought this “makahiya” would be cured of her stage fright by nothing but that “Yes, Father”?

Mawmaw’s Goodbye, 17 Days Later

On April 29, seven years, eight months, and eight days since I carried him in my arms for the first time, the handsome white and black dog with the broken heart on his right died.  He died and I wasn’t there.  At 7:02 p.m., all I, his mother, stuck in traffic from the airport, could do was weep in silence “Father into your hands I commend his spirit” as the joy and meaning of my life cried his last cry a hundred and thirty kilometers away.  When I arrived at 10 to what I used to call home – for it’s all different now that the one-dog welcoming committee and the master and the heir is gone – all I could do was take his still warm body in my arms, say how handsome he was even then for he didn’t look like he suffered, feel awed at the fact he wasn’t heavy at all despite his being fat, and bury him.

I’m not a person who prays for much, and, although I forced him to make pinky promises with me, truth is I didn’t have the illusion that my Inoo will live forever.  All I prayed for was for me to be there when God decided to take him, so I can hold his paw, so I can lay with him on the floor, so I can shower him with kisses, so I can whisper to his good ear a million times that I love him and that he is loved and that Mawmaw loves him, so I can sing for him our kunikuni song, so I can hug him even if it meant I can because he would have no more strength to resist.  Because I had hoped being there will ease his pain and sadness.  Because I had hoped if I prayed hard and if I went to church as much as I can and if I served at least four times a week, God would listen.  Because I know that I am his life as much as he is mine.  Yet God decided that my Inoo should go exactly when I wasn’t and I can’t be there.

I don’t get His logic.

Or maybe I do.  Maybe it’s God’s way of reminding me that even if I go to church everyday, even if I pray hard for this one wish, even if I serve, in the end, it is His will… His timing.  Even the fact that I don’t eat animals and advocate not eating animals couldn’t change His mind.

Maybe this is God’s way of reminding me to cherish every second I am with those I love, because I never know when they or I will be gone.

Maybe this is God’s way of teaching me to pay attention to signs.

Or maybe this is punishment because I had been neglectful the last three months.  But no.  God is not that kind of god.

But I refuse to go there.  I refuse to reduce Inoo to a set of faith or life lessons.

All I want is to do is grieve: grieve the fact that the meaning and joy of my life is gone.

I love you, Devil Dog.  Now you can watch over Mawmaw 24/7.  Wait for me.  If Catholic heaven doesn’t allow dogs in it, wait for me by the gates of dog heaven instead.

#OffTheBucketlist: 10 Churches + 1!

It’s April, the fourth month, and I’m happy to announce that I’m checking one goal off my 2017 bucket list.  I’ve visited ten churches.  Yey!  In fact, I got to visit more than that.  Here they are:

NUEVA ECIJA (REGION 3)

1. St. Andrew Parish Roman Catholic Church, Poblacion, Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija. (Visited on January 28, 2017)

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2. St. Joseph the Worker Parish Roman Catholic Church, Rizal, Nueva Ecija. (Visited on January 28, 2017)

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TUGUEGARAO CITY (REGION 2)

3. Metropolitan Cathedral of St. Peter, Tuguegarao City. (Visited on February 25, 2017)

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4. San Jacino Church (Ermita de Piedra de San Jacinto), Tuguegarao City. (Visited on February 25, 2017)*

ILOCOS NORTE (REGION 1)

5. Simbahan ng Sta. Maria (Church of Sta. Maria), Santa Maria, Poblacion Norte, Ilocos Norte. (Visited on April 13, 2017)

santa maria

6. Church of Laoag, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte. (Visited on April 13, 2017)

laoag church

7. Pasuquin Church, St. James the Greater Parish, Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte.  (Visited April 14, 2017)

pasuquin church

8. San Nicolas De Tolentino Parish Church, San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte. (Visited April 14, 2017)

san nicolas

9. Paoay Church, Batac, Ilocos Norte. (Visited on April 14, 2017)

paoay

ILOCOS SUR (REGION 1)

10. Cathedral of Vigan, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur. (Visited on April 16, 2017)

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11. St. Stephen Protomartyr Parish, San Esteban, Ilocos Sur. (Visited April 16, 2017)

san esteban

One goal down. Sixteen more to go. ❤

*I can’t find the photo!!!

Generation Represent: Early 2000s

Thanks to Boy Scout’s packing genius, all my bags are packed; I’m ready to go to Cagayan de Oro tomorrow.

Well, at least I was until I saw this advisory from the organizer of the summer conference I’m attending that says, “Don’t forget to bring your PRC ID and Your Generation Represent! socials night attire” and I was like:

😮😯😲😨😡

In that particular order.

Gahhhhd I hate surprises. 1) I didn’t know they’re throwing a socials night. (Who invented this trend in seminars anyway? How about some consideration for the introverts, yes?) 2) What am going to wear? For someone with a lack of a decent wardrobe, this is torture. (As if thinking of attire for the entire conference isn’t torture enough.) And 3) Which generation do I belong to?

Considering my concerns, of course, are equally important, let me focus on the 3rd: the generation question. The most considerate thing about the organizer is the footnote that says, “Attire: summer get up with a touch of the generation where you spent your adolescent life.” Good. Now my search is delimited.

I then Googled “adolescent” – ikr – and found out for the first time ever that it usually means somewhere between 13 and 19.

Okay. Great. Now I know that would be between 2001 and 2007. All I could think of was Slam Dunk and Meteor Garden and The Ring. Apparently I spent my adolescence fangirling over anime, East Asian boys, and learning Nihongo that I have no idea what else had been happening around me all those years. (Unless I’d considering reminding everybody of the 9/11 bombings by donning Osama Bin Laden or George W. Bush. This is not a joke, btw.)

My first thought was to just braid my hair a la Shan Cai. But since I’d mocha-ed my hair last month, I might end up looking like Britney Spears. Or if I put on a pink backpack like Dao Ming Si’s obsession, I’d look like Dora the Explorer.

Slam Dunk’s Ayako was my second choice. After all, I used to dream I was her back in my entire high school to early college days. But it’s a hassle to find a cap, plain pink shirt, and blur cycling shorts. And if I did Ayako I’d have to bring basketball and a whistle and find myself a Ryota Miyagi. No, I had to remind myself that this isn’t a cosplay competition. (Plus I kinda promised Boy Scout I won’t even look at guys there.)

So… I spent like thirty minutes of my precious time cracking my skull about what I would wear.

But for me summer is shorts and white shirt.

Then it dawned on me. Like an avalanche I remembered spending all those lunchtimes (and lunch money) with my friend Joymarie over Optichat. NASL. Lol. Lmao. Btw. Otw. I was an adolescent when I learned them.

From that memory, the emoticons – emojis for you kids. Back then I can read faces via colons, hyphens, commas, exes, etc. There was even a time – specifically when the epic peyups.com was still up – that my favorite emoticon was [colon][no space][type in “rolleyes”][no space][colon]. (I had to write it because it converts into 🙄 .)

And this is how I found what I was going to wear: the faces of early 2000s.

So, yeah. See you at Cagayan de Oro! B-)

P.S.

Btw, I checked the tentative program just to be sure and it wasn’t there. <Insert I-told-you-so emoji here.>

Oops. I meant emoticon. >:-D

11 Things I Love About F

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F thinks I’m weird for loving him.  I’m not and here’s why:

1. He loves God and the Catholic Church.

Before we decided we love each other (for love is a decision, a commitment, and a sacrifice, said Father Peter), he was discerning to be a priest.  (I know, I know.  At times I feel guilty that he might not be a priest anymore because of me but he constantly assures me he made the decision.)  Also, I think he liked me because I wanted to be Benedictine nun.  He goes to Mass as much as he can (and when he can’t he makes it a point to read the readings).  He prays the rosary everyday.  (His first gift was in fact a rosary, which I unfortunately lost.  He replaced it and said I shouldn’t attach myself to the material things he gives me.  But still…)  He is an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion – a truly extraordinary and hardworking one at that – and very soon a lector/commentator.  He is part of the Neocatechumenal Way community in San Jose City.  He studies the lives of the saints and wishes to emulate them, especially his favorite saint, Francis of Assisi.  And he fasts like a saint.  And two Saturdays from now he’s going to be officially a member of the Knights of Columbus.

2. He loves his mother.

I find it sweet that he loves telling stories about his mom, which for me illustrates how proud he is of her.  I have this unfounded belief that a man who looks up to his mother tends me to be appreciative and respectful of other women.  Needless to say, this is very important for me… and for any woman for that matter.

3. He loves his family.  That includes the dogs.

Aside from looking up to his older brother, what melts my heart is how he loves their family dogs.  Being a furmom, I totally get his going home to play with Happy (and Sunshine).  And as of this time he babysits his nephew (his brother’s dog).  Well, I’m just an ordinary girl who likes a man who loves animals.

4. He decided to be vegetarian.

Come on.  Need I say more?

5. He has no problem with us being coequals.

I remember our drive home right after I said yes.  (Or did I?)  Considering myself a happily independent woman, I told him we are going to be coequals, meaning the both of us are of equal importance in this… venture.  I understand that men want to be chivalrous to their partners and I don’t have qualms when he does – like when he opens the door for me or holds my hand protectively in public or drives me home.  But he understands that.  He appreciates that I can pay for my food, I can go home on my own, I am in charge of my body, I can make decisions, etc.  I admire him for not aiming to control my life.

6. He is appreciative.

Although I think he’s totally crazy.  I think his taste buds might be damaged because he appreciates my 15-minute meals.  I think his eyes are definitely blind because he thinks I’m pretty.  I think both his ears are busted because he thinks my singing voice is quite nice.

7. He is passionate about the environment.

I think he’s right: I’m weird.  But only because I remember finding him really cool when I heard he called the city hall about someone burning trash (and seeing his anger when they didn’t respond).  He also hates seeing kids smoking and people throwing trash in public places.  Okay, so many people are concerned about the environment.  But what if I told you he once said his environmentalism isn’t quite complete if he continued eating animals?

8. He’s caring.

He feeds me.  (Come on.  The way to a girl’s heart is through her stomach, too.  Look at the state of my belly now.  LOL.)  He makes me wear his jacket when we’re on his motorcycle.  He makes me wear a helmet, too.  And I remember when we were listening to a session of the catechisms and my feet were cold, he slipped out to get his jacket to cover my legs with.  He would give me shoulder massages.  He would make sure I’m safe inside the house before he drives home.  He would sneakily leave messages on my desk like the one above.  And when there’s a lot of work, he will help me.  But don’t say he’s doing these things because I’m his girlfriend.  He goes out of the way to buy food for our office mates.  And he really, really is concerned about people.

He’s sweet.  And I have a sweet tooth.

9. He’s not scared of conversations.

I sort of have this unfounded ideas about men.  (Not really unfounded.  I’ve read them from articles and books and got them from Hollywood chick flicks.)  And I thought men generally stay away from conversations.  But not this man.  Although we laugh 90% of the time, when we need to talk, we talk.  And he doesn’t clam up… even if it’s just 10% of the time.

10. He wants to be close to Inoo.

I remember F telling me he found me cute when I talked about Inoo.  As a single mom, it melts my heart to watch him make efforts so my son will be kinder to him.  He bought food for Inoo, fed Inoo on his palm, and always greeted Inoo even if Inoo never stopped barking at and attacking him.  I hope Inoo learns to love F in the near future.

11. He’s a gentleman.

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Well, most of the time.


P.S.

I love you, F! Peace! ❤

Holy Week 2017: Kumpisalang Bayan

Am I weird? Because confession, reconciliation rather, excites me more than anything. I guess it began two years ago upon reading about St. Therese of Liseaux and how joyful she was at every opportunity for the sacrament of reconciliation that she had prepared for it and talked to the priest as if he was Jesus and I thought I wanted to do it just like her. Sometimes I wish there were more schedules for confession – because I’m shy to ask the priests after mass – so I don’t have to wait for first Friday’s Holy Hour.

So is it still surprising that Holy Tuesday is my favorite day in Holy Week here at the Cathedral of St. Joseph the Worker Parish? Every year on Holy Tuesday, priests from all over the Diocese of San Jose City, Nueva Ecija gather at the Cathedral to give the sacrament of reconciliation to the parishioners.

Yesterday indeed was full of grace. Everytime I come from confession I always feel lighter and happier. I hope more people go to confession. There really is nothing to be scared of at confession. After all, it is the time we know of God’s never ending and unconditional love for us sinners.

What Makes a Keeper

Keeper (Urban Dictionary)

  • Someone who would make better marriage material than baby momma material.
  • Someone who you’d likely spend the rest of your life with if you found him or her.

What makes a keeper?

I don’t know and I don’t care.

Drink beer or drink champagne.  Choose bonfire over candlelight.  Don pants or a frilly dress.  Be one of the boys or be a lady.  Wear makeup or don’t.  Cook or bake or don’t.  Laugh out loud or be prim and proper.  Straddle his motorcycle or ride like a Disney damsel.  Sit on the passenger or drive.  Or walk.  Reply at once or take your time.  Call or don’t.  Be skinny, be athletic, be fab.  Choose a traditionally female job or a traditionally male job.  Or don’t have a job.  Do your hair however you choose.  Be loud or be quiet.  Pay for your meals if you wish.  Stay the night or don’t.  Like kids or don’t.  Be a princess or a cowgirl.

Remember, you are not defined by whether or not he thinks you’re a keeper.  You are in charge of your womanhood.

After all, getting a guy to marry you isn’t the purpose of your life.

Happy women’s month.

God and High Heels: My Poor Analogy

Not that I’ve ever been insecure about standing at four feet ten and a half inches: I love being small.  In most of the animes I’ve enjoyed, girls are small.  But I’ve always been fascinated with beautiful shoes.  After all, beautiful shoes take you to beautiful places – or so the quote from a Jdorama goes.

I’m a late bloomer when it comes to shoes.  I didn’t own a pair of beautiful shoes until my graduation from college.  Growing up, I never got to choose my own shoes: they were either my cousins’ hand-me-downs or from balikbayan boxes sent by relatives abroad.  My first pair – which I wore for my college graduation – stood at four inches, and was square heeled, and was black, and had a silver band.  It wasn’t expensive at all but the moment I laid my eyes on it, it caught my heart.  Since then, almost every pair I owned had to be at least three inches high.

But high heels are hard to walk in.  Wearing them entails pain and suffering.  Wearing them can be impractical, given the many comfortable alternatives out there.  Wearing them, science says, is dangerous even.

A little like believing in God, yes?

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I’m a late bloomer, too, in believing in God.  Although I received a Catholic baptism – Mama came from Cebu, the cradle of Christianity in the Philippines – I stopped going to Church at a young age.  It wasn’t by choice: Papa is a Freemason.  Then, somewhere along the way I would go with my Lola to Baha’i services.  Then, there were the books scattered around the house.  The Eastern esoteric teachings.  The gnostic gospels.  The Zachariah Sitchins.  Buddhism was what resonated with me the most – especially the part of compassion for all beings.  And there was a book on Lucifer that really made sense.

And then, in December 2014, God pulled me back.

But believing in God is hard.  Believing entails pain and suffering.  Believing can be impractical, given the many comfortable and alluring alternatives out there.  Believing, some say, is dangerous even.

A little like walking in high heels, yes?

+++

You see, my feet are not pretty at all.  My feet are huge.  My calves are fat and shapeless.  But each time I have my favorite high heels on, they look quite nice.  And I feel a little bit more confident.  My feet and my legs aren’t pretty, but with beautiful shoes, I don’t feel unpretty.  Just like believing in God.  I know of my imperfections – and many of them I can’t change.  But in God’s eyes, I feel precious.

High heels also force my posture straight.  I had slouched my whole life, walking with my head down.  But since I learned walking in high heels, I think I’ve improved my walk.  Just like believing in God.  I had done horrible things in the past, but knowing that God is with me now, I try to correct my deeds, my words, my thoughts.  I’m trying to straighten up.

+++

This had been a poor analogy – a desperate attempt to connect my fascination for beautiful shoes with my love for God.  But there’s one difference.

I love high heels but I can live without them.  God?  Well, that’s an entirely different story.