To my 14-year-old Self

muni muni

To my 14-year-old self:

One day you will realize the things you believe important and attractive are trivial and superficial. Hence, take it easy. Forgive yourself when you can’t rewind, replace, redo. We are all unfinished products.

Find your own happiness. Your happiness should be independent from what your parents, your friends, or others think. It should be free from what society expects. Our capitalist culture has a way of reshaping our beliefs on happiness. Listen to your inner voice. It may not give you the best answers but it will give you the honest answers.

Fulfilling a childhood dream or a bucket list is more of an ego fulfillment than a calling. Ego fulfillment is all about yourself. It is a personal sense of accomplishment or sense of worth. Calling is not all about yourself. Calling is not unrequited love. It shouldn’t be I-love-music-but-music-hates-me. It means you want something that wants you back.

You will like to hear a lot of inspiring quotes about life like these: “If you work hard, you will succeed. If you are persistent, you will get it. If you can conceive it, you can achieve it. If you are very passionate, you will excel. If you are nice to people, they will not do harm to you.” Sorry to burst your bubble, life has no formula. We keep on finding ways to make it perfect but no one writes his own life like an equation. It is a result of many drafts. We can only plan life to a certain extent but there will always be a hand of God pointing you to where you should be.

Here are four top life events you have to go through.

From the lyrics of  Fix You- Coldplay

  1. When you try your best but don’t succeed
  2. When you get what you want but not what you need
  3. When you lose something you can’t replace
  4. When you love someone but goes to waste

Thus, when things don’t work out in favor of you, you learn to reinvent yourself.

If you make a mistake, do it with dignity. Be a professional actor. Don’t let other people know your weakness unless you can no longer keep it to yourself. Hide the things that haunt you. Be a swan, struggling underneath but graceful on the surface. It takes time to master this craft.

Savor every feeling whether it’s good or bad. If someone cuts you, let it bleed. Laugh if it tickles. Be amused even if you are the only one who can appreciate it. If someone tricks you, good for you. You just witness magic. If you hate something, punch the wind.

Fight for what you love, even if you are not sure it is worth fighting for. The only time you know it’s not worth fighting for when you lose the battle. Hence, you don’t know if you don’t try. We call this 1st level bravery. The second level of bravery is when you give up the things you used to dream and love after fighting a hard battle. Warriors do not mention the word “surrender”. But there is victory in surrender. It is something both heroes and losers shared.

Lastly, don’t be in a hurry to grow up.

Yours truly,

The Aging Self

Don’t Go Crying to Your Mama

Ain’t it fun livin’ in the real world
Ain’t it good bein’ all alone

Ain’t it good to be on your own?
Ain’t it fun you can’t count on no one?
Ain’t it good to be on your own?
Ain’t it fun you can’t count on no one?

-Paramore, Ain’t It Fun


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I felt like I was listening to the soundtrack of my life as I played Paramore’s latest song, Ain’t It Fun. I’ve been living all alone for a long time. I have had room mates, board mates, dorm mates but basically I take charge in everything I do, spend, and buy.

When I first told my office mates that I was on my own, they were surprised and curious how I managed to survive. I did not find my life unique or challenging as it appeared to them. When I was in college, I lived in a dormitory where most of us came from different provinces. The surprised look I got from my office mates reflects how much we Filipinos like to cling to our families.  Hence, we have a lot of extended families. Unlike other countries where young professionals would want to have a house or rent a space away from their parents, we, Filipinos, most of the time prefer to be with our families. I do miss the comfort of home and if I have a choice, I want to live with my family but there is such fulfillment on being able to have independence. It opens opportunity for growth and strengthens character (chos! :D). Hence, if you are twenty-something, you might try to spread your wings and fly.

You learn to meet your needs and wants.
When you want something so bad, you will find a way to achieve it.

You learn to solve your own problems.

So what are you gonna do when the world don’t orbit around you? (Paramore)
This is the kind of questions you try to answer
No one will think for you.

You learn to nurse yourself
I used to cry a lot over a lot of things when I was a kid. As I grow old, I cry less or choose the things I cry for. I have gone through many heartaches and the only thing I had is a phone. It’s hard to have problems when you’re on your own. For one reason, you have more time for yourself. Hence, you have more room to entertain depression. As what Paramore said in their song: “It’s so easy to ignore trouble when you are living in a bubble.”

You appreciate solitude
You have a lot of personal space for you to reflect and evaluate the choices and events that take place in your life.

You learn to carry your things
If I am living with my family, I will let my brother carry my water jug, or laundry. Because most of the time I am all by myself and I don’t want to be a burden to anybody, I have no choice to carry my stuff which are too heavy for my size. One of the most tiresome things I did in college was transferring my stuff from dormitory to boarding house. I did not know how I managed to transfer balikbayan boxes on my own. I am no longer using it as excuse that I’m small and I’m a girl. Morale of the story for lazy girls like me: You are stronger than you think.

You value health
My brother told me the advantage of living with relatives is that someone takes care of you when you’re sick. This is true. The reason why I am healthy so far and why I want to be healthy is because I am on my own. Nobody is going to take care of me when I am sick. Hence, you should try living by yourself because it will improve you immune system. #truestory

You learn to take care of yourself
When you value health, you are obligated to take care of yourself. I buy my own medicine and food when I am sick. I bring a whistle and a pepper spray when I’m all alone.

You learn to reach out
When you don’t have a support group such as family, you find the need to have friends. I do feel homesick when I see families going to church on Sunday. Hence I make it a point to spend time with friends for comfort and sanity.

You learn to ask help 
I love my mom. When I am having a hard time to figure out how to get this and that, my mom helps me with everything. Our parents are our first Wikipedia. Now that I am on my own, I am forced to seek help from people who know better than me. I learn to be less shy. I learn to ask and make short chats. Don’t rely on yourself too much. You can’t survive without others.

You spend money wisely
You don’t really have much freedom when you are living by yourself in the sense that no one shoulders expenses for you. You learn to budget and save.

You learn to make decisions
Decision making is harder for people who are living on their own than those who are living with their families. Again, you don’t really have much freedom as you think you should. You can’t change careers or change address, change life plans as easy as a person who is still financially dependent.

Just how the song ends..

(Note to Self:)
Don’t go crying to your mama, coz you’re on your own in the real world.

Soul Pancake

Other than Button Poetry, and Tedx, I’ve been watching a lot of videos of Soul Pancake. They make videos that talk about philosophy, culture and  art. Soul Pancake tries to answer deep life questions but the videos are light-hearted.  Here are some of my favorites so far in Soul Pancake.

The Single Life

I was smiling the entire time I was watching this video. For the people who don’t know why they are single, watch this.

 Have a Little Faith – Reunion

During this episode,  Soul Pancake invited two Mormons, two Baha’is, one Jewish person, a Quaker, a Muslim and one Baptist on the show. The group discussion is very pleasant.   Listening to these different religions in one room will strengthen whatever you believe in.

 Holding  a Human Heart

Whether you are thinking of heart as a real heart or as a metaphor, this interview with the heart surgeon gives so many insights.


There is such a thing as ‘Soul Mates’

I believe in soul mates though not in the context that there is only one person out there right for you. I believe in souls. The definition of  “soul” varies a lot from a cheesy pop song to theological principles.  Like hearts, stars, and diamonds, “ people find the concept of soul poetic. We want to romanticize it or use it in reference of emotion, intellect, and behavior.  Setting aside etymology, we commonly believe soul as something incorporeal, immortal, and separated from the body.

I love the idea we are souls contained in bodies, instead of the idea that we are bodies containing souls. It changes how we see ourselves and how we see other people. Our bodies are just a fraction of who we are but it largely defines who we are in our society. This leads to white sovereignty, cosmetic surgery, and supplements promising youth and height. But why do we let our bodies set limits when the body is just a mere vessel? Our bodies alone carry history and culture that we have no control. But if we remove these, we are souls, naked and equal. Hence, when we are equal, we can consider one another as soul mate.

Hindu Philosophy has the belief of universal soul which implies we share the same soul. Ralph Waldo Emerson also believes in over-soul.

We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles. Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related, the eternal ONE. And this deep power in which we exist and whose beatitude is all accessible to us, is not only self-sufficing and perfect in every hour, but the act of seeing and the thing seen, the seer and the spectacle, the subject and the object, are one. We see the world piece by piece, as the sun, the moon, the animal, the tree; but the whole, of which these are shining parts, is the soul.

                                                                                                      Over-soul, from Essays: First Series, Ralph Waldo Emerson

Though I don’t subscribe to the belief we literally have an individual deity in us or there might not be a universal soul, I like the idea of collective soul and that we are all one. I’d like to use universal soul figuratively as implying connectedness, unity, and equality. It is a beautiful idea that whoever we are and whatever we are, we affect and infect the world.

As I think about depression, what people go through  life, I ponder how can there be so much selfish pain in this world? One way to minimize self-inflicted pain is to forget yourself. The self is not a separate entity. It is one with the universe. We cannot escape depression. We have different kinds of crisis but there is no problem that has not been solved ages ago. Sorrow has no taste. It picks anyone regardless of class, wealth, appearance. We are more alike than we think. We defy uniqueness. We are soul mates.


If you need to crash, then crash and burn you are not alone.

-Savage Garden


This is my rant to many rants. How ironic!

There is so much wickedness, bitterness in this world. Do your part to save the world by  not adding another problem. We do not need a  lot of rants, bad words, or trivial complaints. Of course, we need  to practice critical thought and discernment but there is a proper place and time for everything.

I hate ‘hate.’  Being pessimistic over a lot of things is not making the world a better place to live. Before you rant and before you critique, ask yourself: What will I gain and what will people gain out of it? Am I making the world  a better place to live?

I’m still pessimistic especially when my bratty self wants to come out.  We are a work in progress.

Here are some of my bad habits I want to unlearn.

Stop questioning people’s kindness
We always read news on corruption and crime. We have our personal stories of betrayal and trust issues.  It is hard to identify who are genuinely good. Sometimes, I ask: Is this person good to me because s/he wants something from me? Is this person nice only on the surface? Is this person building a charity to help or to improve his/her image? But who are we to judge a person’s intentions or motives? We can’t surely say what they want to get in return.  If we haven’t proved such judgement or claim is right, it is wise to give people an opportunity to do good before we shut our doors.


Stop stealing people’s happiness
In other words, don’t be such a killjoy.  If someone is so happy over a chocolate bar, comics, soap opera, TV series, Justin Bieber, One Direction, chick flick, zombie movies, let that person be. People have different tastes and interests. We don’t have to like what others like to live peacefully. In fact, we can like one another without sharing the same interests or backgrounds . Let and let live.

Stop finding answers
You don’t have to know everything. It’s human nature that we want to make sense of the world but you do not need to have an answer for every life question. It is physically and emotionally draining to answer why does this have to happen to me? No explanation will ever be enough for life’s uncertainties. On what life does not entitle you to know, you let it go.

what happened

Stop glorifying busy
I’ve posted this twice but I think  this should be a constant reminder. We define productivity by the number of tasks we have in a day or by the number of roles we play but we should always put premium on quality or quantity. Being busy is not worth bragging and a lame excuse for not having time for yourself, and loved ones and time to rest. If you put your heart and soul into one activity in a day, consider yourself productive. And if you can’t comply all your to-do list, forgive yourself.


Stop looking for things you don’t have
While ambitions and aspiration give motivation and meaning in life, too much thinking of what you do not have is a mental torture.

Stop looking at other people’s flaws
People have good and bad side. We always have a choice to magnify which side we want to see in people. I try not to judge someone’s value based on their shortcomings or their mistakes. It does not mean he is not a good student, he is not a good son. It does not mean he does not have a good temper, he is not generous. Ideally, we want people to be consistently good but reality tells us that people have different shades of goodness.

Stop talking negatively about yourself
Venting out your frustration about yourself is cathartic. It’s true that sometimes we just want to fish compliments. Every human being according to Maslow has this need for acceptance and affirmation. And sometimes we want a cheerleader or someone who can empathize. But too much negative talk about yourself can be damaging. I realize the more I talk negatively about myself, the more I remember the negative feelings I have for myself.  Hence, it prolongs agony and self-loathing. We can be very self-absorbed that we fail to notice that some people have more needs and failures but they choose not to see themselves as worthless.

Stop using What-if phrases
The what-if phrases are poisoning our minds. But then again, let go of what you cannot change.

Stop spreading the idea that men are polygamous by nature
We’ve heard a lot of real life stories of men having many women. It is happening but I will never buy the idea that it’s natural for men to have two women or more. It is not a call of nature. It is deviance. And spreading this idea that it’s so normal for men encourages more men to be like one. I simply don’t like it because it’s gender biased.


Stop complaining
I am very guilty of this. I love to complain. When I’m bored, I want to argue. We like to complain because it’s also cathartic. Ranting may help us unload our stress and anxiety but you’ll never know you might be passing stress to your listeners. Be sensitive to others. As painful as this may sound but not everybody likes to listen to your problems or even world problems.

14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16 as you hold out the word of life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.

Philippians 2:14-16


I know complete abstinence from these bad habits is easier said than done but we can change our mindset gradually. Maybe we can have a quota for bad words, negative words, criticisms, gossips in a day or make sure pleasant words outnumber negative vibes.

When words speak louder

When the piecimg_11732.jpge of Date an Illiterate Girl became viral, it inspired a lot of versions of “who to date” write-ups. We have Date a girl who Reads, Date a Girl who Writes, Date a Poet  and moreI wanted also to write my own adaptations like  Date a boy who Reads, Don’t Date a Boy who Reads, or Date a Boy who Writes. They are just so fun to write and read that I have a mental draft for these but I throw them in my trash bin of thoughts. I do not want to promulgate an idea that we like people based on eloquence and rhetoric. Putting weight on person’s linguistic ability does not give justice at all. Language is not equivalent to intelligence. It is just a means to express.

They say, action speaks louder than words but sometimes words have a triple effect. Words are not only combination of alphabets, characters, and syllables. It fuels discussions and I think most of the arguments we have are largely based on definition of terms. Hence in every formal debate, it begins with a definition of terms.

Once you release a word, it has a life of its own. This is the reason why Shakespeare ends his sonnets with a promise of immortality. As written in Sonnet 18:

 “So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”

The words we utter go beyond our intention. It communicates more than it should.

Hence, never underestimate what words can do. If we could change the world with words,why not? As what Marius said to dying Eponine, “If only words could close your wounds with words of love.” As written  in Proverbs 16:24 said:

“Pleasant words are a honeycomb. Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

When words speak louder……

hugging wordsWords create image
You may not notice it but sometimes people build their image by playing with words. Note the difference “I sing” is different from “I’m a singer.” “I type” is different from “I’m a typist.” “I love him” is different from “I’m his lover.” “I nurse him” is different from “I’m a nurse.” “I write” is different from “I’m a writer.” I cannot help but think that sometimes verbs are more accurate than nouns.  It’s just a simple choice of words yet it makes a difference on how we make impressions.

Words add layers of thoughts
Words evolve as we grow old. We interpret words differently. For instance, the word, “’sexy” or “hot.” Sometimes we like to receive this as compliments but trying to contextualize these words in pop culture can lead to another level of thought.

Words define experience
There are some things that cannot be translated in a particular language. You have to experience words to know what they actually mean. If  a certain word is not present in you language, it means it is not part of your culture.

My two favorite words are not even found in the dictionary. There are “chos” and “naks.” They serve as replacement for “just kidding” but not entirely the same. They are not actual words. They are interjections that most of the time are use in speech and sometimes in blogs, informal letters. They may sound nonsense but they change the course of conversation. The occurrence of these expressions speak of how we find the need to make a conversation light.

Words can change our perspective
“Dreams” is a better word for “delusions.” “Developing country” is better than an “underdeveloped country.”As what I wrote in my blog post: “Instead of using the word, “accept,” use “receive.” These two words may sound synonymous but they can change how you think. “Accept” is often combined with negative thoughts. “ I accept failure.””I accept rejection.” “Receive” on the other hand, is more related on positive things. “I receive a gift.” “I receive a letter.” “I receive a blessing.””

Our choice of words reflect how optimistic and pessimistic we are.
As much as words can empower, it will always have limits.

My favorite poet  Sarah Kay has stressed that in her poem Postcards

Is there a word for the moment you win tug of war?

When the weight gives and all that extra rope comes tumbling towards you.

How even though you’ve won you still wind up with muddy knees and scratches on your hands.

Is there a word for that? I wish there was.

I would have said it.

When we were finally alone together on your couch, neither one of us with anything left to say.

Still now, I send letters into space.

Minimalist Lifestyle Experiment?

“Lifestyle experiment!” I love the effect when these two words are combined. It sounds like a scientific method of life. I first heard the term of ‘lifestyle experiment’ from a TED talk of a young man who moves to a different part of the world every four months. I’ve heard a lot of lifestyle experiments such as a family not having sugar in their diet, a man who tried to live biblically, a Tech savvy guy who did not use the internet for a year. There are a lot of ideas on how to twist life but what I want to try is what I call “minimalist lifestyle experiment.” The principle behind this lifestyle experiment is to prioritize what matters most to you and eliminate what you do not need. The concept sounds simple but the execution is extremely difficult, especially if you are living in a highly urbanized city. In a world highly driven by commerce and appetite, you are a survivor if you can maintain a minimalist lifestyle

My interest on minimalist lifestyle experiment stems from how we define success and happiness. Today, we define success by excess. We live in a world where we celebrate abundance. We have an irrational obsession over accumulation which is influenced by our consumerist behavior. While we commend people with multitasking skill and with multiple roles,  we should pause and contemplate, is it worth it to have it all? It seems we define success in quantity. I was once obsessed of acquiring a  lot or doing a lot.  For every new task, new role, new item in my bucket list, I examine if this can make me happier or will this be an additional problem.

It takes calamities and life tragedies for us to realize that all the wealth you acquired and the status you gained in your lifetime are meaningless.




I don’t subscribe to extreme minimalist lifestyle such as the vegetarian lifestyle, or full-time monks. I can’t imagine myself living in the woods with no wi-fi and electricity. I still believe in moderation. As what Confucius philosophy teaches:  The key to happiness is moderation. We don’t totally eliminate, we just prioritize.


Here are some of the things I try to work on to have a minimalist lifestyle.

Focus one thought at a time

This is probably the hardest thing to do. I describe my thoughts like tangible things that fall and break into pieces and my friend tells me that my thoughts are like waterfalls. And sometimes my thoughts are like raindrops I cannot catch them. It’s a challenge  to concentrate. I am learning to be on focus by living  in the present and by setting limits on the things I have to do in a day.

stop the busy

Stop being futuristic

I try to be less obsessed about the future. I keep a mental note that the future does not hold a promise. Thinking about the future gives me too much stress and anxiety. As what I wrote in my last blog post: “Brilliance is seasonal. Let go and let God decide when.”

It does help to be less futuristic. It minimizes expectations. I enjoy my trips, events and activities more because I don’t have pre-existing feelings of excitement or tension.

Savor the moment

savor the moment

Sometimes, we think about dinner while watching a movie. Sometimes, we think about our plans over the weekend while talking to our friends. This kind of habit is not a wise way to maximize your time. I learn to savor the moment by paying attention to details. When I walk on the street, I observe the random strangers along the way. When I talk to someone, I notice the person’s gestures. I have one particular subject at a given time to focus.


I’m a trash collector. I’ve been keeping a lot of trash for sentimental reasons. Now I am brave enough to give up that things that used  to hold value to me such as my favorite shirts, my worn-out jeans, my college readings. Because I have no permanent address, I learn to have less. I don’t have a lot of room for everything.

Have self-control in social media and internet

This is very hard. I can’t live without the internet. This is where I learn a lot and share a lot of things. I try to fight the urge to post a lot in a day in my FB. I just made a simple rule that the maximum number of posts is two, that also applies to the links and photos I shared on Facebook.

 Have a minimalist gadget

Having a gadget does not sound minimalist at all but it helps to have one gadget that can do a lot of things. I like my Samsung Note 10  because it has many functions. I stopped buying paperbacks, spreading sticky notes around my room, having notebooks and planners because of my gadget. I become more organized and must I say environment-friendly.


Samsung Note – a mobile phone at the same time a picture frame hehe

 Turn off the TV

It has been a while that I really spend hours to watch TV. I just realize the TV causes thought pollution from TV commercials with wrong values to exaggerated news. I am taking in a lot of unnecessary trivia on my head. Though, I do like arts and entertainment, I just want to filter what entertains me and what I want to be informed of.

Eat clean


My friends are teasing me that I am a goat because I have so many photos of leafy vegetables in Instagram. I do eat a lot but I always aim to choose the lesser-evil food. I want to enjoy food but I don’t want to feel guilty and bloated that I feel like I want to sleep after a big meal. I want to feel light and energized so that I can move quick and vigorously.



Walking is a real minimalist habit. I used to ride a jeepney to reach MRT station but later on, I replaced it with a 20-minute walk. Like most office worker, I spend so many hours sitting on front of the computer. I want to challenge myself to do something for my body and for my savings.


When you don’t know what to do with your money, save. It does not sound believable that people don’t know what to do with their money but in reality, people don’t. They are not the richest people in the world but they are overwhelmed by the amount of money they have. People have a tendency to splurge. When they have extra money, they buy an extra phone, extra shoes. My rule: I think ten times or more (and sometimes months)before I buy something I really like.

 Cut the bills  you don’t need

I always have regular calls offering postpaid plans. Because I can’t find the necessity and urgency of a postpaid plan, I decline. Having a lot of bills and material things makes life complicated. Money can give or take your freedom. Most of the time, when salary increases, our expenses increase. That should not be.

Change how you reward yourself

Rewards do not have to be in cash or possession. We always say that the most valuable things in life don’t come with price tag but this does not reflect on how we spend our time, money, and energy. When we want to reward ourselves for a job well done, we buy a new phone or a new piece of furniture. Instead of shopping, why not reward yourself with vacation or quality time with friends and family? Or learn something new? Take classes? Look for a new adventure? Invest on experience and learning. These are priceless.


Enjoy life’s simple pleasure

When our aspirations seem impossible and when we fail ourselves, we add an emotional baggage. We want to eliminate baggage whether it’s in kilograms or feelings. My remedy is to gain appreciation on the things around me. Watch rom-com or laugh at your friend’s corny joke. Bring out your 16 year old self.



Less is more :)

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