End of November 2016, in the midst of contemplating over the various struggles in life of others and of my own, I felt the inspiration to write this piece. This is a tribute to the people whose lives existed in me in different ways. And most especially, to these four souls whose existence is overflowing. These individuals may never know how deeply their objective reality reached me, but now they are about to. Pouring my heart out – a way of battling the quarter life crisis (lol).
More so, the content and the intent is not limited to these four pillars, but is surely extended to everyone else whose lives touched me and whose lives I touched as well. The entirety of my wholeness is eternally grateful of everyone I have come to meet and of everyone I will still be meeting.
On a Retreat last October 2016, held by Art of Movement with a theme Inspire: Surrender your Fire, we were asked to surrender something, a representation of what inspires us. I surrendered a letter with a “To Kat” written at the back of the envelope. It was a letter given to me by my roommate in Taiwan.
I intend to convey that what inspires me the most are The People, especially the ones who have the courage to intentionally direct to you their actions and words in the form of love, kindness, or anything at all. It is important that you know that it is For You, for you to be able to properly receive it. I interpret the letter as a representation and a reminder that the people around us create their own actions and these have consequences and rewards. And it ripples. These actions may be intended just for you, but the ripples will always be directed everywhere, from small then to big circles. As one inspires the other, the other inspires another one. We are made by a series of people and events.
Everything is interconnected.
We are the product of the accumulation of the people we experienced in the space we occupied and presently occupying. We become and unbecome as we impart our many selves to the world and as the world shoots us with its greatness through its people, parts of them mirroring us – our desires, our secrets, our natural being. No matter the circumstances of how you met these creatures, the underlying connection will always emerge to the ground, unguarded and raw, unexpected and beautiful. Shaking our whole being so utterly that we continually seek a sense of balance and common ground, not because we do not like what we are seeing, but only because we try to comprehend what we are discovering, digesting the new information and perception presented in our very eyes, sinking and settling in our very bones.
In evolving, we unfold to our true selves. Slowly, layer by layer. The authenticity, the self-transcendence. We all crave for that ultimate freedom of awareness and cling to the hope of understanding the complexity of ourselves and life itself while just letting it be. Sometimes though, when we are confused and when fear clouds our vision and dictates our actions, we become hesitant with change. We urge to continue to exist the same, for convenience and comfort coupled may cage us down to our barely scarred zones. But our nature are not built this way. We may delay it, but we morph eventually. Through the 25 years of this continued survival, one valuable lesson learned is to flow without restraint, that even with constraints, with the flow, we shall be one. Let the turbulence take you piece by piece or carry you as whole in just one blow.
In this voyage of mine, there are these four individuals who soar high. Smashing me with the rocks from time to time. They are my personal drowner and savior, turbulent and laminar, wave and particle. Dual. They drown me with their mental ability, their wisdom and words, their passion for arts, their patience and fluidity. They save me by existing merely.
They keep me inspired.
So to these four pillars of my metamorphosis, here’s to you.
THE ULTIMATE BEST FRIEND
June 2008. University of the Philippines – Los Banos.
He was my first University crush. Now don’t blush. A deep dimple coupled with a smartass eyeglasses is a takeaway for any girl. I then learned that we belong to the same block of chemical engineering freshmen students.
I am a contemplative person by nature, but I never have had the confidence to speak my voice out ever since. Way back, my knees tremble when I speak in front of the crowd, my palms become exceptionally cold, my sweat coming out drastically as if I just had a quick run. Even until now actually, only that the intensity tremendously decreased. And in small crowds, I was almost always awkward to be candor, almost always holding back the true words I ought to express. But with this guy right here, the wall has been broken, tore down to the beams of the very foundation of the madness of the unreasonable shyness, enveloped with illogical insecurities.
The wall started crumbling that one day. It was raining heavily. We battled the heavy drops and wind with a single umbrella. And under that hood, together, we found shelter. I can’t remember exactly where we were before the rain poured down or where we were headed originally, but we found ourselves in the comfort of the other while eating Lays chips under the roofs of the University auditorium. And so it began. We talked about the struggle of the first weeks of college life and life in general and how it was hard to find someone to talk to about it as if Life is some odd place to be. We were talking deeply and endlessly until the rain came to halt.
Walking back to our dormitory, I stepped on a snail. It cracked open. Snapped dead. The sound of the cracking brought Mark big shocking waves making him shout for his life. Hilarious really. Instantly became the highlight of the day. We continued walking home. And I suppose, unknown that time, we were headed to an unbreakable friendship.
Two years passed since then. He gave me this card, letter. It was my birthday. My 19th, I guess. And the words that struck me the most were, “How can I deserve you as a friend?” Ahhhhh, it still gets me. It feels like I have made a mark in this lifetime, that to be just existing is enough. But truly, it’s more of the other way around. Eight years, and he is still here (together with our other friends from college – you know who you are). No matter how my words seem to be meaningless to me, or my stories seem to be petty, he is here to listen (even if he’s just pretending most of the times). And not just listen, but listen intently (just a few times really). With the full attention he gives you, the deep interest he radiates through his eyes (genuine or fake) that soon reflects on his feedbacks, will surely make you feel that you matter.
I never told him, but it was he who dug deep into my well of voice, pulling pail after pail, tirelessly. My voice was heavy, hard to bring to the surface, but every pull, it sure broke the water, hung up to the air, poured down in a bucket, then touched the soil. Spread wherever, unapologetically wetting the vastness of the dry lands.
Absolutely, he was one of the few people who kept me encouraged to pursue all of my leadership aspirations, University and National wide. He gave me the confidence I needed to actually believe in my own voice and to realize that the voice that I have may relate with someone else’s. And that it matters. And that I matter.
So yes. I am done whispering.
Really now, how can I deserve you?
Pot. The Voice.
MY perpetual PERSON
December 2008. University of the Philippines – Los Banos.
I don’t quite remember how we started to be honest. It was a series of fortunate events. One thing I am sure of, my gratitude goes deeply and widely to my beloved UP AChES for sparking our everlasting friendship and to other more friendships and opportunities I have found within its boundless existence.
Never had I imagined myself acquiring a science-related course nor pursue a Master’s Degree. Engineering, most especially, did not interest me when I was young, but here I am winding up in this system of grease and gears, of audit and automotive, of assessments and assumptions, of inefficiencies and innovation. How can I still be surprised after all the ironies and paradoxes this life has put me into?
More often than not, I am asked if I love Chemical Engineering. I cannot say yes to it entirely, but to Energy Engineering, the answer is definite. It’s always a Yes, even before engaging myself to it. Perhaps I needed my Bachelor’s degree for this door to show up and meet My Person along the way.
It was 2014 when my best friend decided to leave me rotting in Philippines (lol) and go to Belgium to pursue his Masters. As a competitive person as he is, he bagged down the Best Thesis Awardee as he graduated from his program. Now, he is doing his PhD in Germany. He was the first person in my life to ever fly half-way across the world to chase his dreams, and it was a profound moment not only for me but for all the people around him – his family, friends, students. He was an inspiration to many and I am just so proud for having this Summa Cum Laude exist in my life. What I love most is the fact that the time difference does not hinder us for releasing our science-related rants, particularly for having uncooperative groupmates and experimental failures, for proofreading each other’s technical writings and posters, and most importantly, for sending these nerdy links when one needs it the most. And of course, these talks about boys and not allowing them to make you not follow your sun.
Pao always strikes me as a multitasker, a strong-willed individual, a dancer who can dance with storms. He dreams for himself and he will dream for you too. He will try to strongly influence you with the things he may think are best for you as he sees your potential in a different light. He is a hurricane himself, I must say. A beautiful destruction. And I am more than glad to be taken away by this stunning soul. Without him realizing it, he has taken me to Energy Engineering. And beyond.
I was on my 4th year in the University and he was on his final year when he was deciding what to pursue for his Master’s. And on this list of program that UP Diliman is offering, my eye caught MS Energy Engineering. As simple as that, I knew it then, I will be there for it. Cliché, it was a love at first sight. Imagine, that few seconds of glimpse on a random paper I didn’t even knew existed, led me to my perfect place. The repercussions were extended to being a part of a student exchange program in Taiwan and even to meeting my Renewable Energy Boot Camp Family, where in both, I met heaps of Engineers and young professionals and these awesome people who are scarring me for life, so deeply, with beautiful memories.
So yes, earning my science and engineering community, I owe it to my best friend.
You are my Cristina Young.
Besh. The Scientist.
THE LIFE MOVER
June 2004. Masbate National Comprehensive High School.
She was different. Somehow, I cannot isolate a specific memory of her with me where I felt the change within me. These moments are countless. No division. No boundary. Her existence in me is a fluid, ever flowing. Always there. A constant.
I spent the first half of 2016 in Taiwan for academic reasons, and I would say, leaving Philippines, especially for the first time, was not easy. Leaving your loved ones, leaving your friends, leaving your habits. It’s basically leaving your life. You build a new one in this strange place with only your luggage to begin with – a quarter of your closet, your pink teddy bear, and some old photos of loved ones. And as you build your foundation for the new endeavor, the people you temporarily left continue to build their own without you in it fully.
For the six months that I have been away, one of my close friends’ dad passed away, one finally became a licensed Chemical Engineer, one momentarily stopped studying and worked in a review center, one was too fed up with family and finances, one became a queen of multimedia arts in her working place, one had a boyfriend a few days after I left Philippines and then eventually broke up after a month. It gets confusing sometimes. It was hard to cope up. I also have my share of happiness and highs, as well as negativities and failures and stress. And as I am trying to keep in touch and reach out to almost everyone important to me, the negative energies clash. And it gets more confusing.
When this happens, I would either stare down the walls or read. Fortunately, it was the latter. And fortunately, I have a good friend who writes so well she will make you sweat for her words, crave for it as it carves to the deepest of your heart, and cringe for the induced ache you aren’t expecting at all. Her name is Lovey and she is lovely inside and out. She writes about her own struggles but amidst these storms is the calmness and tranquility of having it and just letting it be. She masters the art of flowing. And if you let her, she will flow into you like a light touching the prism of your identities. She will throw you these questions that will uncover your truest thoughts. And these, these will flow within you eternally.
Numerous times that her words saved me from drowning in the mundanes. Tears swelling as words coat every count of my cells, and I always seem to pick the precisely accurate period of time for having her words penetrate me, not a moment too soon, not a moment too late. Her stories are magic, and so as her prose. These are hers, her passion vulnerably laid out to the world, keeping people like me inspired, always open to save lives.
Before flying to Taiwan, I started writing. But writing without a clear goal. Through Lovey, I have reached a level of clarity and maturity where I am able to identify what I wanted to write. I eventually changed my domain name to Love After Love, which was one of Lovey’s three title choices when she started hers. Needless to say, she has been one of my personal guide on the journey of writing and on coping with life struggles.
For this and and to a lot more, she has my eternal gratitude.
You balance a part of my life.
Lovey. The Fluid.
THE CURATED ARTIST
June 2016. Tainan Front Station.
That night, we agreed to meet on a convenient store near the train station. We were both circling and missing each other at each point for a good half an hour or so. We almost did miss each other. Paths almost did not cross. I was on my last straw of patience when I saw him riding his pixie towards me. Sweating a bit, but still dashing (savor this compliment). I smiled.
I have met a few talented Artists in my lifetime, and some of them, I have known since time immemorial. But none, I suppose, by far, an Artist of All Trades. Not until mid-year of 2016 that I met one. I have come to cross roads with this Artist whose talents traversed from music, to free-style dancing, to photography, to film-making, to doodling (and soon-to-be franchising), and even to being a Language enthusiast.
If you ever meet him, and if you manage to fix his broken tripod, as a reward, I guarantee you, he will take you to the finest tastes of beers and local food – cheap and good, he will bring you to the secret places of an urbanized town – the ones which were perfectly misplaced but still easily missed without keen eyes, he will show you the littlest details – mostly of the old temples and of wall arts, reflecting his inner shaman. In the short time that I was being willingly dragged by this almost stranger, I came to know good parts of him. So even when he lashes me out with his sarcasms and random meanness, I always choose to hold on to the goodness I see in him (what a good friend I am, right?).
Art runs in my soul since I was a child. The strokes, colors, symbolisms and multiple meanings, lullabies, all brought me indefinite fascination, similar as to how the stars make me feel – curious, deep and enlightened. But like any other quality, it needs honing. And in honing, it needs time and proper exposure for intensification. A good motivation, and an inspiration. These, I found in Antoine. He fed my eyes with beauty of the world, in different perspectives. And what seemed to me at first, just an alternate reality, has eventually merged with the reality I have longed lived with.
One fine day, my last day in Taiwan. He brought me to Tainan’s oldest temple. We were taking photos of each other. His, for his sister’s IG (follow @gainageinthewild), and mine, well, for remembrance. As a complainer French as he is, he complained as to how I placed myself in the landscape of photo he was about to take. Me as the subject, the temple structure and architecture as a background, “Come out into the light.”, that’s what he said. A summation of his first lesson on being photographed. An endless play of shadows. But you know, the thing is, I know it already. I was just timid and intimidated. I guess, I do need to come out into the light and show the world what else I can do.
I draw, paint, write. And there’s this one thing I wanted to hone, too but didn’t have the courage to do so before. I have always wanted to own a good camera and indulge myself in Photography. For ages, I was undecided, primarily considering practicality and usability. But things as such, you eventually fall into it. Your passion will keep on knocking until you let them in. And in my case, I just needed someone to lift that curtain of creativity to see what’s behind the door.
He lifted the curtain. I saw, and let it in.
Once a needle, always a needle.
Antonio. The Artist.
We touch people’s lives in ways we do not expect. To be a someone in a life of another is a life-long victory, leaving traces of yourself in the people you meet, and them growing and walking with it. But sometimes we question ourselves, there are these people of a kind who affect us tremendously, but we lose them anyway. And it is hard to cope. So here is a quote, written by Emery Allen, to remind one’s self and everyone else,
“Not everything is supposed to become something beautiful and long-lasting. Sometimes people come into your life to show you what is right and what is wrong, to show you who you can be, to teach you to love yourself, to make you feel better for a little while, or to be just someone to walk with at night and spill your life to. Not everyone is going to stay forever, and we still have to keep on going and thank them for what they’ve given us.”
I cannot claim to be a life expert, but this I am sure: we shall accept and embrace and love the world as it is. Question it, indulge with full blown curiosity, but do not hate. Welcome it with joy and openness to change, with enthusiasm. And gratitude.