To blog or not to blog

I’ve been wanting to resurrect my dying blog but my passion to document my daily life learnings is slowly fading.  I created this blog in 2010 . Back those days, I just wanted to write for pleasure.   Probably a lot of people of my age  have attempted to create and maintain a blog. As soon as I graduated college, I had some existential crisis which pushed me to overthink all aspects of my life. This pushed to write more on my life reflections. I just needed an outlet.

 

Later on, I was preoccupied with the changes in my career and personal life which left me no time to write lengthy blog posts. Another factor, I felt I was already moving forward from the stage of quarter life crisis. Hence, I no longer had the itchy feeling to release all my thought processes into writing.

 

I’ve been staring blankly at my laptop screen for a couple of hours. I just can’t get myself into writing a  blog post. The urge is not there. Though I have a few things I like to write, the adrenaline rush is not there.  I can share my  penny of thoughts in  social media, anyway. Also, some of the blogs I used to follow are no longer active.

 

Then I ponder, “Do people still read blogs?”  It seems everyone is into videos and photos. People nowadays have shorter attention span.  I like watching vlogs and swiping photos on Instagram. But I still feel writing in the form of blogging is still the best way to share substantial content.

 

Anyway, if you happen to be an ex-reader, ex-follower of my blog, let me know your thoughts. Do you still read blogs? Is  blogging entirely outdated?

How I planned my minimalist dream wedding

Looking back at my wedding day, I broke many conventions of what a typical Filipino wedding should be. A Filipino wedding celebration is usually grand, festive, extravagant and traditional with complete rituals. To come to think of it, my wedding  is not out-of-the-box. What makes my wedding slightly different is that it’s laid-back and minimalist. I wanted my wedding to  be a reflection of my personality – carefree,  little musical,  colorful, whimsical, and sentimental without trying hard, and most of all, “kuripot” ( on budget) without looking dull and broke.

One of the hardest things in planning a wedding is receiving a lot of unsolicited advice and recommendation.  Benefit of the doubt, they had good intentions when giving out advice but sometimes they based their recommendation on their personal taste. Weddings are very personal. To begin with, getting married is a personal choice. Even if a wedding event appears like a family activity or a grand production number, it  only holds great value to the couple. Your guests will eventually forget about your wedding day. You and your partner are the only ones who will treasure your wedding day for a lifetime. Your preference should  be above everyone else’s suggestions. I was watching a celebrity vlog the other day and she mentioned she never showed her wedding dress prior to her wedding because it’s just personal. I remember someone suggested not to hire a professional photographer because a photographer takes so much time and directs the wedding making it look stagey.  Today, I am just glad that we are able to get professional service  for photography. At the end of the day, what will remain with you after the wedding are the memories. A good photographer or videographer will hide the clutter in  your wedding day and will make it appear as seamless and as possible. Some will say make your wedding vow short and sweet. “You are going to bore the audience.” But you have to remember your main audience on your wedding day is your groom. If there’s one person you should please the most during your wedding day, aside from yourself, it should be your groom.

 

Choosing an intimate wedding over a grand wedding

We wanted a budget friendly wedding. Practically speaking, if you plan to invite more than 200 guests, not everyone can fully witness your wedding ceremony. Some of them would have to sit far from your wedding stage. It is important to note that not all your acquaintances, friends, and relatives would be interested to listen lengthy speeches of your friends and loved ones during the wedding reception. Most of the time, wedding guests do not finish the program during the reception.

Another reason why we opted to have a small wedding: We wanted to have a cozy homey feeling during our wedding day. As much as possible, we wanted everyone to feel comfortable in our wedding day and that could only be possible if we had a small group where everyone knew each other. As an introvert, I wanted to be less self-conscious during my wedding day.  Imagine more than 200 pairs of eyes watching you walk down the aisle. When it’s a small group watching you,  it helps reduce stress and anxiety. You have no fear of tripping on your wedding gown.

I only had 53 guests on my wedding day. This number already includes my family members, and principal sponsors. More than personal comfort, managing a small group is logistically convenient.  Because we only had a small group, we did not find the need to hire a wedding coordinator. It is easy to move people  from one place to another if you have different venue for ceremony and reception. It is easy to find a venue. We actually considered having our wedding in a fine dining restaurant.

Small group= small wedding venue needed

Choose comfort over traditions

In truth, you only need a licensed solemnising officer, marriage license, and two witnesses. That’s all you need to make your wedding official and everything  else depends on traditions, budget, and personal preferences.

Again  my goal on my wedding day is to minimize as much  stress and anxiety as possible. It’s inevitable  not to worry on your wedding day but we can find ways to manage our stress level by removing things that can potentially trigger anxiety. For these reasons, I chose to remove some wedding conventions. I dropped off the veil, cord, and candles as wedding symbols. I don’t have any deep or religious reason for removing these. When I was a young girl witnessing other people’s weddings,  I questioned if I really had to go through these rituals on my wedding day.  I have always been clumsy. I have this fear that I might burn my own veil and make my wedding chaotic. Since I planned my wedding to be outdoor, I was also scared that it might rain in the middle of my wedding or it might be too hot for my guests. I don’t want my guests to suffer that long.  Hence, to reduce the number of things to worry, I intentionally designed my wedding ceremony short. If you decide to do the same, there will be people who will ask, “Bakit walang ganyan?” It’s your call.  You only include on your wedding day what has special meaning to you. Of course, these  customary symbols have meanings. In my case, the things that have special meanings on my wedding ceremony are the song I chose to sing during the wedding march, my vow and my husband’s vow.

 

Customize your wedding based on your taste and personality

Let your wedding be your wedding, not the wedding of your coordinator, not of your mother, not of your wedding supplier. It can be a struggle to assert your personal taste.

Ever since, I never really wanted to wear a veil on my wedding day. I wanted my hair down. I wanted  to wear a flower crown on my wedding day I wanted an outdoor wedding. I wanted to sing on my wedding day. These are some of the wedding details that are non-negotiable to me.  Along the way, I had people who were questioning  these details and had tried to persuade me  to stick to the usual wedding conventions.

When I was making an inquiry with a  flower vendor, she questioned why I was not going to get married at  the church. She looked at my tummy and thought I was pregnant and was barred from getting married at the Catholic Church. I came to a conclusion that my hometown had not had a lot of Christian outdoor weddings.

My hair dresser insisted on having my hair tied up during my wedding day. I  tried my best to compose myself and said, “ No, I want my hair down.” And again, the context of my wedding is I am dealing with  wedding suppliers in Tacloban who have limited exposure to  different types of wedding. She even said, “Do you have a baby? Because in Catholic churches, brides don’t wear wedding veil if they already have children.”

 

 

No bridal robe for me. Just a floral dress before the wedding

Choosing the people  to have special roles on my wedding day

Before coming up my own list, I honestly thought of dropping off the whole entourage thing. I had attended a wedding where there were no bridesmaids and groomsmen.  I somehow liked that idea. I did not  want to worry a set of clothes for my entourage because I was not willing to shell out a lot of money for the entourage. On a personal note, I did not want to promote favoritism and exclusivity on my wedding day. Also, I did not  like the idea of picking  just a  few people  to have special roles in the wedding.  I don’t want to hear comments, “Bakit si ganyan hindi ginawang bridesmaid? They say,  “ You can’t please everyone” but I tried. I customized  my list of entourage.  I  had a  man of honor. Bakit nga ba maid of honor lang ang mayron? I did not follow the usual pairing of bridesmaids and groomsmen because we did not have an even number of boys and girls in the entourage and I don’t want to complete the pairings just for the sake of following the conventional entourage.  The groomsmen carry some of the  wedding symbols- the Bible, the coins and some of the bridesmaids hold a microphone to sing during the ceremony walk instead of holding a man’s arm. I just wanted to  make the most of everyone’s presence on my wedding day. We did not look far from the confirmed wedding guest list on who would be part of the entourage and principal sponsors.

my nieces-bridesmaids singing A Million Dreams
We did not have a long list of principal sponsors. They are mainly my aunts and uncles 🙂
Our ring bearer

Choosing an informal wedding over a formal wedding

At the beginning, I thought it would be nice to hire live band or singers. I actually thought of it. But thank God, we can’t afford to have these gimmicks because it does not feel that intimate and cozy if you have many people outside your circle joining your wedding. I just wanted my wedding to feel like a karaoke night with family where everybody can just sing and be themselves.

We did not dance nor ask the entourage to dance for the wedding reception entrance. We just asked everyone to sing A Whole New World

Spending less on non-essentials

Of course, it’s your big day but it does not mean you have to splurge in every wedding detail. We did not spend much on wedding souvenirs and invitation since we only have a handful number of guests. Wedding invitation would probably cost 5,000 to 10,000 depending on the quality and complexity of design. Five thousand pesos may not be much but when you compute the total amount of expenses for your wedding, it means a lot. Luckily, my sister got to design our wedding invite. I just printed a few copies at home for pictorial purposes.

 

We also did not spend much on pica pica.  Wedding package for catering and hotel service usually includes pica pica or cocktails  to be served in between ceremony and reception. If you are not conscious with your budget and the details, you can spend Php 10,000 or more for tea and biscuits. For our pica pica, we had fish balls, cheese sticks served and prepared by one of our churchmates. We also had unlimited supply of ice cream for our guests. I have always liked the concept of street food because it keeps your wedding guests busy while you finish all your photoshoot.

 

 Food cart of fish ball and cheese sticks with one of my bridesmaids

 

Planning the theme and dress code for  your guests and entourage

 I wanted a bohemian wedding but I realised I cannot really pull off a total Bohemian wedding by requiring my guests to follow Bohemian dress code. Since I had  senior citizen guests, it would be difficult to explain what Bohemian attire looked like.

When I browse at wedding photos, I usually find the bride, groom, and entourage look out of place in group photos. It’s either the bride and groom are too overdressed or the wedding guests are too underdressed.  My objective for specifying a dress code is to ensure that no one looks overdressed or underdressed  so that everyone blends well in group photos and in the wedding theme. So what I did I specify long sleeve polo shirt with  solid colors for men and long floral dress for women. I thought hard of what can my guests and entourage easily access in their closet or in the nearest department store  Also, I read somewhere that if you want to have more flowers in your wedding without spending much on flowers, ask your guests to wear floral.

For my bridesmaids, I did not insist of having one shade of color, or one style. The flower crowns of my bridesmaids were the only items they wore that set them apart from the rest of the crowd. I did not want them to look very distinct  among the crowd because I did not want  to form an untouchable elite group in my wedding.

For the groomsmen, we just asked them to wear blue long sleeves and provided them with necktie and suspender.

For my wedding gown, I chose a simple classic style  to maintain a laid-back and minimalist theme, which I got from Divisoria.

It is both fun and stressful to be very hands-on on your wedding preparation but the rewards are high. The other day, my husband and I watched some of our raw video wedding clips and we were laughing so hard at how cheesy, how informal, how some parts of our wedding were not done properly. But looking back, I  felt everything was perfect on the day of my wedding that I fail to notice I did not walk properly during my wedding day.

 

 

The thing called “Passion”

It’s Saturday. It is the time of the week when I have my “me-time”.  I woke up late and had coffee and watched makeup tutorial and vlogs. Then I started to worry  for my upcoming advocacy event but decided today should be all for myself. As an introvert, a time alone is  very sacred. So  I paused and made my month-long reflections.

Looking back, my dream job had always been to be Ms. Saigon in West End production. My  other  dream was to be a Disney princess. I wanted to be the character voice of empowered women like Princess Jasmine and Mulan. Obviously I am a fan of Lea Salonga. The funny thing is  I always thought that these childhood dreams can happen in my lifetime. Later on, I realized that these childhood dreams of becoming international (charot) were  beyond my reach, I had downsized my dream from a Broadway star to a media personality/ TV reporter. Eventually, I took speech communication in college because I thought this was a step to fulfill my dreams.

Fast forward, none of these bizarre dreams ever made to reality. I had experienced the uncertainty of a fresh graduate, the mid 20s’ quarter life crisis, and my gradual transformation to adulthood.  These have led me to where I am right now. I had experienced not just the quarter life crisis but existential crisis.

I did not become Ms. Saigon or a Disney Princess  but what was clear to me I wanted  have a  purposeful life.  If I had to un-filter my words, I wanted to do “something big.” This narcissism which is partly a mixture of self-love and self-loathing  is one reason why it took me years to think like an adult.

I may have never become a performer in Broadway  but I have found a stage  where I can move an audience, influence their values, change their opinions, and even appeal to their feelings, just like a theater actress. Like Mulan, I have become an advocate for women empowerment.  I am quite thankful that I have found a space where I can speak, share my principles, and fight for the rights of others.

Working in the development sector has provided me a platform to propose solutions on the issues faced by the vulnerable sector of the society, especially women. I get to advocate reproductive health, violence against women and other pressing issues faced by women and children.

When you read self-help books or  hear motivational speeches, they always tell  you that you should follow your passion.  But the question is: “What is your passion?”

For me, I discovered that singing is not my passion (hehe). I thought it was. Acting is not my passion. (Akala ko rin haha) Writing is not exactly my passion, just a tool for my real passion. My passion is to serve others: to think of ways on how we can help those who are vulnerable, neglected, and forgotten in the society.

jackie at Nov21
discussing policy issues on sexual abuse and exploitation of children

And my dream is no longer to be Ms. Saigon but to have a more caring society where everyone is treated with dignity  and respect and every place is a safe place for women and children so that there will never have to be a real life Ms. Saigon, an Asian 17-year old girl who was forced to prostitution and ended her life eventually.

march 9 photo4.jpg

I remember when I was still working for a corporate, I tried to audition with a theater group, and eventually got accepted. I tried for three nights but I realized  I just could not balance my regular job with my so-called passion. Then, our preacher said to me. “God  will find a way to use your talent.” The next day I quit. And continued with my corporate job after a few years, I became interested with advocacy work.

10
advocating reproductive health with local officials

How do you find passion? Passion from its original meaning is suffering. Find something that’s worth the suffering.  At the same time, it should be rewarding. I love singing but singing did not love me back (hehe)

You can never go wrong with helping others as a motivation. My generation is always fond of recognition and accomplishment as a yardstick of their personal worth. If you put helping others as an inspiration in what you do, you are no longer living for yourself but living for others.

JACKIE LDS2

While writing this reflection, I know there are many people out there who are thinking about  how to be productive and make meaningful lives.

Here  I am saying it’s okay to be idealistic and to set high standards for yourself or to keep principles. I became an advocate because I strongly believe in justice, compassion, equality, and empowerment.

We are the authors of our lives. It is up to us to make it interesting, worthwhile and meaningful.  Perhaps what I am trying to say there is a place for those who are idealistic and visionary. Go and find it.