What she meant by sensitive

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Sensitive was never the first word she would use to describe herself.

She wasn’t sensitive by way of being easily offended. In fact, that was far from who she believes she is. She weighs the scales and considers before taking offense. Inside the factory of her brain, she creates a defense for both sides and the jury later decides what she should do and feel. Maybe this too is why her emotions take time to be realized. That includes, of course, anger and offense. So no, she wasn’t that kind of sensitive.

She wasn’t sensitive by way of being picky (unless it involved eggs, pork blood or seafood in the morning). Though there were things she hesitated about, she was never one to complain about doing things even if it was at her expense. Especially if it was out of love or professional pleasantries. With the little things, she’d relent, she was picky. But when it mattered, come hell or high water, she was getting in the mud.

She was sensitive, however, to change. Her brain was trained to see patterns and absorb data. It was designed to input everything around it and to make sense of all the information. Her brain knows the normal and learns about every detail of the normalcy. And of course, that meant she detected every slight change in the day to day routines.

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing though. Noticing the change allowed her to respond to it or to at least prepare for the effect it will have on her. Though being boxed did not sit well with her, changes drain her and activates her defense systems. She had to be ready. (Maybe this is why her head often goes off in alarm.)

But this also means that she drowns in her worries and gets drained in her silence. With all the information she’s taking in and analyzing, all the small changes she tries to make sense of and all the strategies she comes up with to prepare herself, she uses more energy than she actually has. And sometimes, even after all that effort, she ends up brooding over misinterpreted overthinking.

So she keeps quiet. Just in case it wasn’t the case, just in case she needed more evidence, she keeps quiet. She pretends to not see it, not know it, not feel it. She waits for the moment to pass, the change to become part of the normal and her heart to calm down. Simultaneously, she fills her head with weapons and band-aids, whatever she might need. That in itself was a strategy that came natural to her. (Though admittedly, it didn’t always work.)

It wasn’t just change that she detected. She noticed conflicts, interest, emotions and thoughts – all the irregularities, novelties and outliers. All of these brew in her head and consumed her energy. And it wasn’t just the information she derives from the environment, sometimes it was the sensations as well.

She learned to turn it off. She had to because there were days that it was too much to analyze everything and understand what they meant. But it would never be totally gone. Even if her interpretations weren’t wrong, they weren’t completely unfounded. They came from observations, details she took note off. One way or another, it would lead to some sort of result.

Having said all that, there are a handful of things she does thank her kind of sensitivity for. For one, her sensitivity allows her to memorize people and take care of them. She can learn about the inside and outside of a person if she puts an effort into doing so. That would then help her detect the mood, needs and hidden grievances of that person and  decide on the best way to support. It also meant being able to show love in the language that person would appreciate.

Her kind of sensitive, when it’s working for a kind purpose, enhances the compassion, concern, care and love that she gives.

So yes, she was sensitive, in both the good and bad essence of the word. Understanding and accepting this, only leads to better self-awareness.

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To me, you will always be a woman of strength.

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Lola Mila with her six darling daughters

Eyebrows gently furrowed, she looked like she had something to say. It was not a furrow of discontent though. Rather, it looked like one of opinion. It seemed as if she had an opinion on something — maybe her death and the circumstances surrounding it — and that at any moment, she would get up from her coffin and say it. Even as she lay there, motionless, she still had that powerful spirit. (And maybe that’s the reason why it was so easy for me to deny all of this for four nights at her wake).

My Lola Mila was a strong woman. With my Lolo Lame called early to heaven, she had to raise six girls all on her own. She had to work from bottom up, sacrifice her own life just to give her daughters a good one. But this didn’t break her. Instead, the challenges of life toughened her. It made her the woman I came to know and love.

Even at an old age, she exercised this strength. She took care of my Tita Obang until the latest. As a faithful servant of the Lord, she also tried to go to church as much as she could. And of course, no one would forget that when she had her mind set on something, she would try to make it happen, even if it’s a small request of going out or meeting with her kumpare. She had her way, more often than not, because she was not one to hold back what she wanted.

One other thing that she was very stern about was about being early. To her, being on time was already very late. That was why we used to go to Mass an hour before the actual ceremony. The same went for other events we attended with her. (Ironically, we woke up “later than intended” today. Lola Mila would’ve tsked at us.)

I would admit, that sometimes, I wished my lola would yield. After all, not all her opinions were “right”. Not all of them made things peaceful. Sometimes I wished she would be convinced otherwise or would at least listen. But looking back at it now, I think that if she did, I would not have this defining character trait that I would remember her by. So for better or for worse, my lola was unyielding. I will remember that.

In beautiful contrast with her straight-forward go-getter nature was her compassion behind the scenes. Me and my cousins shared these experiences where lola would give us goodies or pocket money for whatever reason. In my case, whenever I have contests, she would hand my mom some allowance to give me, and during those times when we weren’t doing so well financially, that kind of support went a long way.

My lola and I also had roughly the same shoe size. Back in high school when we had ballroom classes and in college when we have college nights, I would borrow a pair of heels from her. Sometimes, she let me keep the shoes as gifts.

If there was one person whom I know was always proud of me, it would be my Lola Mila. When she came to live with us for a while, I felt that she regarded me with a tinge of pride. I was her apo who finished with honors, her apo who was a teacher and though she didn’t say it, she showed it to me whenever her eyes lingered a bit longer.

The day she passed, I was at work. That night, I planned to go on lola duties. I actually planned to go on duty for as much as I could throughout the week. I didn’t think that I would get to “duty” at a church chapel instead of at my tita’s place.

In a way, we all knew that lola was going. We had a bit of time to dote on her, to really focus on taking care of her. But we still didn’t know when. We didn’t know how. Didn’t know why.

There were a lot of realities surrounding her passing but despite that, to me, her death felt like a final assertion of her will. There were many theories of when she would go, hopes of how long she will stay. But in the end, she followed her own clock and came to her creator when it was her time. I know it sounds ideal but to me, I’d like to believe that she passed because she knew it was time. Death didn’t take her from us. She came to the Lord because she was done with her mission here.

My lola, I know, is in a better place now. No more suffering. No more sorrow.

All of us who were left here, though mourning, would have to continue her mission and live the legacy she left. She raised six beautiful strong women, our mothers who brought us into this world. She touched the lives of all her grand children, teaching us to be strong and be kind.

I am thankful for you, Lola Mila. I realize only now that you have really left this world. But with every shoe, every bang on the door unintentionally left open, every cry of Tita Obang, every kiss from my mom and my titas, I will remember you.

18 Lessons of 2018

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Well, here we go again.

I actually drafted this post a few days earlier than I was supposed to. I thought that maybe since the year was already ending anyway, I should just write this while I still had time. What could possibly happen during the last few days of 2018 that could still change my life?

I spoke too soon. 2018 wasn’t going down without a fight.

To be honest, I didn’t expect to experience as much conflict and existential crisis this year. Because of all the blessings and happy moments that 2017 spoiled me with, I hoped that in 2018 it would get better. (Judging by my tone, I think you already know that it didn’t.)

But, despite all the drama, I guess, it was during this year that I really grew as a person. I confronted a lot of fears, internal and external, and it made me tougher than ever. I’m pretty much broken, scarred, that’s for sure but I now know how to fight with battle wounds still open. And I now know what I’m really fighting for.

With all that said, here are the 18 lessons of my 2018:

  1. Family means working on it no matter what. – You don’t give up on anyone. You don’t give in on anything. You’re family.
  2. Healing is a process you can’t rush. – Refer to: 1 mosquito and 3 hospital beds in Youngblood Inquirer (Yiiiii)
  3. Getting angry can be proof for self-respect. – When I was younger, I used to try hard to not get angry. But you can only try so much until tolerance turns into being a pushover. Looking back at it now, I realized that I was only able to contain my anger because I felt like I didn’t deserve such emotions. 😦 Hey self, it’s okay to be angry especially when it means that you and/or your principles are being violated.
  4. Own your dreams (even if it’s not practical or realistic). – This summer, I had to confront one of the biggest crossroads of my life. I had to think about my dreams and my future. The thing is, despite all the constraints of my physical world right now, I still know what I want to be and I WILL BE IT. I just needed to actually own it and want it and (hello) do something about it!
  5. There may be sacrifices you can afford to do now (but not forever). – This is related to #4. Obviously, I had to sacrifice some things and make some detours before I work on my dream. But here’s the wake up call: I can’t stall forever. I have to choose my dreams someday.
  6. A day, no matter good or bad, always ends. – Thanks for this one, Dad.
  7. Don’t obsess over goodbyes. – Let’s just say that I’m afraid of people leaving. That’s why I try to brace myself all the time or I don’t initiate the connection in the first place. But there were so many unnecessary drama that ensued and so many moments missed because I was too tentative. If I have you in my life now, I’ll live our moment now.
  8. Stand out like stars against the night sky. – Your ideas, love, were not meant for boxes. The same goes with me. I have so much magic inside me and even if that’s unorthodox, I’m sticking with it.
  9. Kindness is both sweet and sour. Be kind anyway. – There is a cost to kindness. The cup does not fill itself. But once kindness is your first instinct, there are hearts touched and worlds changed that would make everything wonderful again.
  10. The sea washes away pain. – You can run away to it if you’d like.
  11. Children will surprise you. – I became an adviser this year and “surprise” would be an understatement. (My kids can frustrate me because of their differences but it’s these same things that make me *cringe* love them.)
  12. Relationships require effort. – People don’t stay friends just because you added them on Facebook and you see their posts on your newsfeed.
  13. Always be grateful, especially for what has been there all along.
  14. You are the most beautiful when you are yourself. – And never let anyone tell you otherwise.
  15. “Impossible” things are survivable.
  16. Sometimes it’s the people that make you stay. – Everything in life is hard but when you’re with the right people, everything would feel worth doing.
  17. Love is a choice. (But don’t forget that you can choose yourself also.)
  18. The best things happen after 4:30 PM.

With that, thank you. Next. (But 2019, please give me time to pace myself before you attack.)

To check out my other pre-new year posts, here’s “16 lessons of 2016” and “17 lessons of 2017“.

Tricycle ride

I no longer recognize kindness

as a knock on the door. At first

sight, it appears to me as a man

clothed in a purple tracksuit

and a Saturday night. Then I hear

the roaring of the engine and my mind

takes flight – the dark alleys, the sudden

taking. Snatched, my innocence

no longer

allows me to hold hands with

a stranger. But when the smoke cleared,

I find that kindness and I have crossed

the street and to the right is my house

whose door, locked, I have to knock on.

Wrong room

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Frost on the Window by Robert Strong Woodward

In front of her was a door, and like most doors, this one also required her to enter. There was nothing necessarily dangerous on the other side — only people, but she didn’t find any comfort even in that thought.

When she entered, her eyes settled on the empty spaces and on the corners of the room seen from her point of view. She craved to settle in on one of the cracks between the spaces and just blend in. In those cracks, she could be herself, even when inside a large room full of strangers.

But where does she go? How does her feet begin to walk towards those cracks?

Well, she had to endure five minutes. Five minutes of searching the crowd. Five minutes of vacancy and sweaty palms. Five minutes of faltered smiles and clumsy tiptoes. Five minutes of not knowing what to do.

Knowing that she could not stand by the doorway for too long, she began to walk towards one of the spaces. However, she stopped herself short at the sight of a window on the far left.

She loved windows. Windows have offered a world of excitement and imagination to her ever since she knew windows existed. They opened and allowed warm wind to caress her. They empowered her to daydream at night and sleep during day.

There came a time when she had a season for windows. It was the season when she felt as if there were always waves crashing against her feet. It was a season where she had a place to be in. And given any opportunity, she always wanted to recreate those moments.

With newfound motivation and certainty, she changed gears – from empty spaces to familiar windows. Her five minutes were now reduced to two. She still had to pass by the crowd but her eyes were set. It was getting better.

At the last minute, she felt the dark seep in through the frames of the window. The air that came with it was cold and unforgiving. Even before she could reach her intended destination, the spot where she hoped she could lose herself in was becoming lost.

Snow came pouring in, covering the window panes and glass and she stared, helplessly, as the window vanished before her eyes.

She was in the middle of the room now. Her feet were pointing towards something non-existent. Eyes were on her. They knew where she intended to go.

Willing her already pale skin to change into steel, she took a step back towards the direction she came from and pretended that she was in the wrong room.

 

 

Once upon a full moon [poems]

Prompt: What would happen if the light bulb was never invented?
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Photo credits: PxHere

Creation story

And –
Nothing. In the beginning
there existed only space and
absence and absence
and space for eyes to close
on mornings.
At night, there would be palms
for praying against floorboards,
as one crawls
towards the streets where
there are other people praying.
Those who know this
ritual call on names and
name themselves as beings
who do anything else –
else, seeing.
They pace their dreams this way –
Awake the whole day, for
only in nothing, eyes closed and
praying, can one call upon
beginnings.


Prompt: Compare the budding of a flower to the death of a star.
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Photo credits: Pixabay

Through this we process

Uncurling your fingers before
laying your dust to rest –
we hold our stories closest
to our chests.
Buried in a space for what
once was – the toiling,
the explosion, the welcoming
of dew and dusk.
The sky and fields in which
we dream, of endless
cycles, restarts it seems.
And everything, in the pace
we keep, only in unfolding
do we reap.

MIBF 2018: Honorary Birthday

Here’s a picture of the event’s logo because heaven knows I’m bad at taking selfies!

This year’s Manila International Book Fair meant a lot more than just splurging on books. Rather than being excited and giddy about the experience, the trip made me think of and question a lot of things about myself.

The night before, I was seriously contemplating whether or not I should go to MIBF. It was the last day of the expo and the weather was finally permitting me to commute to Manila. However, I didn’t have anyone to go with.

It wasn’t that I couldn’t go alone. Being a young adult has taught me that I would really have to do some things independently and I would just have to deal with it. It’s just that, recently, I learned that even the most mundane things become a lot more interesting if you do it with the right people. (And if you’ve found the kind of company, being alone would now feel lonely.)

Now, at the prospect of doing things alone, I would have to really want the experience.  If someone wanted to go with me, I’d already be happy with the idea of making that someone else happy. (That was how I feel happiness most of the time – through someone else’s. As a consequence, I struggle with making myself happy on my own.)

I saw things in a new light: I would go through the hassle of riding a bus for two hours, enduring the rain and spending money just for transportation. I’d be going around a big building for hours, surrounded with way too many people that would drain my energy. Everything about the expo would stimulate my senses and eventually tire me. My introvert self needed serious motivation to get through all that.

But, surprisingly, after all that internal debate and an hour or so of pep talk from my sisters, I found myself riding the bus to Manila the next day. For some reason that I still didn’t understand at the time, I chose to go.

Comfort food at a not-so foreign place: KFC is for Manila

When I got to MOA, my first agenda was to eat lunch. I initially wanted to eat at Sbarro’s but eating a big slice of pizza alone felt like I was pushing it. I also tried to look for Wendy’s but my sense of direction, like it was for most days, wasn’t working. Instead, I found KFC, and since I’ve been a KFC girl because of DLSU graduate studies, I decided to eat there and get the familiar comfort I got from eating Fun Shots doused in gravy.

I may have indulged too much because I ordered way too many food. I ended up packing leftover fries and hiding it in my bag (oops!).

Compared to last year, the wait was shorter this time around.

Immediately after eating, I decided to go to SMX. It was a good call because when I got there, the line was just starting to form. The people gathered pretty quickly and if I wasn’t quick on my toes, I would’ve been in a farther position than the one in the photo and I would’ve waited for two hours longer.

It was hot and I was sweating but thankfully, it only took less than hour for me to get in.

The expo in itself wasn’t that new to me. It was my third year. I knew which booths to check out and which booths I really wanted to visit. But, just in case there was something interesting, I went around the whole ground floor to survey.

Since I was a sort of “suki” already, I covered a lot of ground quickly. I didn’t really stick around in booths I knew I wasn’t going to find stuff I liked. Also, I was doing a PHP Challenge suggested by my sister, where I had to stick to a budget I gave myself instead of splurging (which I’ve been guilty of for the past two expos). That meant I was more critical of my buys so I didn’t scan for everything but only for my types of books.

Fandom areas are always the best!

A surprising and pleasant addition to this year’s expo was the Pop area for fandoms! (YEEEEEEEY!) Some merchandise were overpriced and with my PHP Challenge, I couldn’t really afford to buy some of them but I was happy with the idea that other fans like me had a place for their fandoms. There were actual comic artists there too, drawing live along with indie artists getting their stickers and works out there.

Look at all the people I had to share the same space with. (I’m sorry if that sounds like I’m dissing the rest of the book-y people out there.)

I left the expo after an hour and a half. I bought four books in total, two for me and two for pasalubong. Then, I headed home.

I was so tired after everything, to be honest. For someone who had full classes on the next day, I knew I over-exhausted myself instead of resting on a weekend. But, despite making a big fuss about going, I don’t regret it.

This is the smile of a girl who didn’t overspend!

I was no longer a little girl and I’ve had my fair share of book expos. I knew I didn’t come just to purchase another book. I came because I wanted to prove something.

I wanted to challenge myself in going places alone. I wanted to prove to myself that even if I’m on my own, I could make myself happy. (Oops! Seems like one of those existential crisis things again.)

At the end of the day, I met up with friends to give their ubongs. I ate good dinner. I went home happy. I realized that I was capable of making myself happy. Every decision I made that day was for my happiness. It was good. All was good.

this time we mean it

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Photo downloaded from pixabay.com

just in case

the lines along the cracks of your lips

no longer hold the answers

I need

just in case

the tiles begin to measure more than

actual distance

between our fingertips

just in case

the morning air constricts not only

my lungs

but also our infinite possibilities

just in case

there are conversations full of reason

left open

against summer breeze, urging

 

just in case

one of us forgets to keep the light on

for the sake of tracking dates and one of us

leaves, feet dragging against unsuspecting sand,

let me linger longer

let me love fuller

let me remember better

as you become the bitter aftertaste

of salt and sea.

 

Of Trees and Huge Doors: Masasa Beach Adventure

It started as a way of escaping, but as it turned out, running away would not be the story that I’d be telling. Instead, I’d be writing about a dream-like sort of happiness that I would treasure in my heart for as long as I can treasure something.

The morning before I left for the trip, the atmosphere at the house was amazing. I woke up very early to clean the house, write a mother’s day letter and surprise my mom. When she saw our surprise, her mood was great and it lifted everyone else’s spirits. We even had a nice little chit-chat over breakfast where she said something I needed to hear (about a certain something I’ve been panicking about for the past few days).

Basically, the morning allowed me to calm the storms in my heart that would’ve been excess baggage if I didn’t have them sorted out. So, I guess I could say that I left with a light heart, ready to be filled with all the love the world would give me.

Gims and I met up at SM Lipa around 12:00 NN to buy groceries. Ate Jen followed later on after her church service.

Since the transient house we went to provided plates, utensils and cookware, all we really had to worry about was the food we were going to eat and some essential toiletries. With a budget of PHP 600.00 we were able to buy food good for three meals along with snacks.

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Lunch time! Let’s fuel our stomach before a long journey.

After our errands, we met at the terminal to eat. We were in a hurry since we wanted to beat the 1:30 PM deadline we set for ourselves. (Surprise! Surprise! Ate Jen was the one who packed the lightest among the three of us.)

We boarded the bus (PHP 35.00) to Batangas Grand Terminal for about 20 minutes. Coincidentally, during the ride, a shark movie was playing. Looking back, I’m glad that it wasn’t some sort of premonition! (We requested Kuya to play a certain Marvel movie next.)

When we got to the terminal, we rode a jeep (PHP 40.00) to Anilao Port next. Since a lot of people were going there, we had to squeeze in with the rest of the crowd. For me, that meant leg work since I was barely touching the seat and the ride took about 30 minutes.

After the jeepney ride, we had to walk a bit to get to the port. There, it was buzzing with people going to Masasa and people with cakes and flowers (who were probably going home to spend time with their moms). Our original plan was to buy rice and water there before boarding the boat but because we were so caught up with the excitement of everything and everyone, we forgot about it and just proceeded to line up like everyone else. We paid a PHP 30.00 environmental fee and then went into the Island Express (PHP 80.00) (going to Tingloy Port).

According to Ate Elvie, the landlady of the transient house we stayed at, there are boats that could take us directly to Masasa. But, since we didn’t ask around and we were caught up in the moment, we just followed the crowd and rode the boat they went to.

It was my first official long boat ride (I rode once already in Tuguegarao but that was barely 10 minutes long and it wasn’t in a big passenger boat). I prayed the I wasn’t the time to get seasick because I really love the sea and if I was a seasick kind of person, that would be horrible! Thankfully, I didn’t get dizzy and I even loved the waves crashing against the boat, rocking it to the rhythm of the music in my ears.

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Commemorative photo of my first boat ride! (Sorry Ate. I couldn’t get any other photo.)

The boat ride to Tingloy Port took about 45 minutes. Once there, we rode a tricycle (PHP 40.00) for about 20 minutes until we reached the area where the transient house was located.

The overall travel time was roughly two hours, not counting the waiting time.

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The three of us with Ate Elvie! Thank you for letting us stay.

The transient house we stayed at was Ate Elvie’s. We stayed in a room good for 3-4 people, ventilated by a wall fan. The house was very clean and spacious, with a kitchen, dinning room, living room, terrace (with karaoke), bathroom, outdoor kitchen and nipa hut. Ate Elvie was also very accommodating, giving us travel hacks and helping us with our food and water concerns (because we forgot to buy them beforehand).

After unpacking, we headed straight for the beach. It was late afternoon by then so the sun wasn’t too harsh on our skin and we had just enough time to enjoy the water before the sun would set.

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Tucking my glasses in my pockets 🙂

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Masasa beach in all its sunset glory

After swimming, we headed back to the house to clean up and cook dinner. Thanks to our teamwork *winks*, the night went on nicely. (Just as inside jokes I want to remember, I’ll be placing keywords here: water, cellphone signal and storytelling.)

We retired to bed soon after. Our room had a twin-sized bed and a twin-sized cushion so it was a good fit.

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Good night, loves!

The next morning, we woke up unbelievably early. Unlike what we were used to, the sun in Tingloy rose really early. It looked like it was 8:00 AM when in fact, it was just 5:50 AM. We got up because it was already bright out and we didn’t want to burn daylight.

After eating breakfast, we went snorkeling (PHP 100.00). Ate Elvie knew a boat man, Kuya Ariel, who guided us for that activity.

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Aboard Mr. Suave!

From the pre-boat ride photo shoot to the lagoon trip, Kuya Ariel had been incredibly accommodating. We went around the beach to look at corals, fishes and even sea turtles! (It was just saddening to see human waste there too. It didn’t belong there.)

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Snorkel away! I felt like a mermaid tbh.

After snorkeling, we had a few minutes to take pictures and enjoy the lagoon bay. Unfortunately, we had to hurry back because the waves were getting a little too strong for the boat.

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We’re on the edge. Anchors away!

Instead of going back to the beach, we went back to the house first. (Inside joke keyword: keys.) We then sang karaoke and ate our merienda/lunch. Time flew way too quickly so we had to pack up and travel back home.

Initially, I thought one long weekend would be enough. But, as we were getting ready to leave, I would find any excuse to stay one day longer. The two days, one night vacation, to me, was some sort of reverting back to nature and tapping into its energy. It was a moment free from inhibitions, worries and insecurities. It was, in essence, simple living and feeling.

All vacations end, and as I ended this one with me dragging myself home, I closed it with both heaviness and lightness. I have been shown kindness and wonder once again and so I look forward to when I’ll be back.

For reference: Total expenses per head (food, transpo, accomo, snorkeling) – PHP 1,100.00 | Transient house contact: Ate Elvie – 09171359977

 

Visita Iglesia 2018: Laguna to Quezon

For this year’s Holy Week, me and my family decided to go out of town to visit churches we haven’t been to. Initially, we were going to the Shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag in Pangasinan but due to some circumstances, we figured that we couldn’t travel that far. I suggested that we should at least go around Laguna and my parents agreed.

Since I didn’t get off work until Wednesday, it was my siblings and my parents who planned most of the trip. Well, technically speaking, other than food, transportation and the first church we wanted to go to, there really wasn’t anything to plan. Dad was assigned to plan our itinerary which meant that we were going to wing it. All we knew was that our first church would be in San Pablo and we’d cap the day at Kamay ni Hesus.

Me and my siblings were in charge of preparations so we got up at 4:00 AM the day of our trip. I cooked while my sisters packed. Despite getting up early, we only managed to leave the house at 7:00 AM-ish. At that point, I got sleepy once again and, thanks to my trusty eye mask, I slept soundly in the car until we reached our first church – Church of St. Paul the First Hermit in San Pablo, Laguna.

Church of St. Paul the First Hermit | San Pablo, Laguna

When we got in, we didn’t start the stations of the cross yet. Instead, we prayed the rosary first. After saying our prayers, we had breakfast in the car. Then, we left for the next church.

Just as I predicted, dad didn’t really come up with a solid itinerary. However, thanks to Google and Waze, that didn’t become a major problem. We just went to the nearest church to our location. That turned out to be the Parish of Michael the Archangel in Rizal, Laguna, my favorite church among those we visited!

Parish of Michael the Archangel | Rizal, Laguna

There was something about this church – other than the comfort room being really clean – that made me like it. I don’t know. It just felt really nice here. There was something about its atmosphere and mood.

Me and my sister going towards a statue of Michael the Archangel

It was here when we reflected on station’s one and two. The reflection for the second one really struck me (read it if you want to know why – Matthew 26: 36-46). We also tried to figure out the story of Michael the Archangel and then prayed for awhile in the Adoration Chapel.

Afterwards, we journeyed to Nagcarlan. There, we found the St. Bartholomew the Apostle Parish. At this point, I was feeling the motion sickness and suggested that we stay put for a while before we head out again. (Me and my siblings were also craving sugar at this point which meant that we were all feeling light-headed.)

St. Bartholomew the Apostle Parish | Nagcarlan, Laguna

We reflected on the third and fourth station here. We also stayed for a while and even bought cotton candy to share.

We headed to St. John the Baptist Parish in Liliw next. (For some weird reason, this is the most forgettable church among the seven that we visited. I don’t know if it was because I was too dizzy to remember or we were going through churches way too fast.)

St. John the Baptist Parish | Liliw, Laguna

After our visit to St. John the Baptist Parish, we were starting to crave for lunch (even if it was just 11:00 AM-ish). We decided to visit one more church before eating. At that time, we were already headed to Majayjay. Thanks to Google, we found two churches but we chose St. Gregory’s because it was closer.

On our way, we actually saw a ton of signs to various waterfalls. If I was being honest, I really wanted to stopover to one of them. We didn’t have to swim (even if I wanted to). I just really wanted to see a body of water! Whether it be a lake, a river, a waterfall or the ocean, I’d be fine with it. I just craved for water! (But of course, our family still wasn’t on that level of spontaneity and we had a mission to accomplish.) (Fun fact: we passed a sign to Pagsanjan falls and my heart broke a little.)

Anyway, back to our Visita Iglesia…

St. Gregory the Great Parish Church | Majayjay, Laguna

We got to St. Gregory the Great Parish Church in Majayjay and spent quite a while there. We reflected on the seventh and eighth station and ate lunch inside the car.

Besides its beautiful antique exterior, I fell in love with this church because it was relatively cooler than the other churches. The atmosphere was visibly lighter and it was also more windy inside. I liked it (although it still doesn’t measure up to the second church. Hard to explain.)

That was it for Laguna. After St. Gregory’s, we traveled Lucban.

Now, maybe this is just because of nostalgia, but Lucban air felt more welcoming. The moment we passed through the familiar market LAVOXA and I used to explore during press con days, my whole body lit up. My sense of direction even worked. Imagine, I was able to go back to the spot where the most amazing fried donuts used to be sold based on vague memories and instinct!

Dad parked near the church and that allowed me and my sister, Ish to walk around for a bit. I brought her to a trinket shop LAVOXA and I used to go to. Then, we finally walked to the church.

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San Luis Obispo de Tolosa Parish Church | Lucban, Quezon

I remember passing by this church multiple times, even taking a photo in front of it during one occasion. But, it was only then that I learned of its name – San Luis Obispo de Tolosa Parish Church.

Ish and I went to the trinket area first before going in with our parents. Since I wanted to remember that I came back, I bought a cute keychain and a new rosary bracelet.

Then, we went in with our parents. We reflected on the ninth and tenth station.

Miniature of Lucban Church

It was still around 1:00 PM when we finished praying, which was earlier than what we anticipated for going to Kamay ni Hesus (we originally wanted to eat dinner there). We decided to go anyway so we could go home early.

A glimpse of the number of people at Kamay ni Hesus

We got there at around 2:00 PM because of the traffic. To us, that was still early so we had a power nap session in the car first. We woke up at 2:40 PM and that’s when we decided to get it over with. (It’s not that we didn’t want to anymore. As introverts, we have just reached our fill of being out of the home for too long.)

Just one level to go!

We told mom to stay in the church instead of climbing with us because she might not survive the heat and the people. With that, F4 climbed on our own.

The last time I climbed Kamay ni Hesus was in 2nd year college for a subject. This time, it felt easier (despite the crowd) because I honestly feel fitter for it. (Stony stairs have trained me well.)

This time also was more memorable for me and my siblings. When we last went there together, Kate (the youngest) still had to be carried around by dad. We also felt more tired because our bodies weren’t ready for the climb. Plus, this time, we were all grown up in our own way and I felt that kind of maturity.

F4 + Dad finished the Kamay ni Hesus climb!

We met dad at the summit. He was drenched in sweat but was satisfied that he reached the top.

We reunited with Mom at the church and then went to a shop to buy dad a new shirt. I also bought keychains for pasalubong. (Wait for it, friends!) We then bought drinks and then headed back home.

Travel time back home was 3 hours+ and by the time that we got back to Lipa, it was raining heavily. Usually, that was the time we’d do Visita Iglesia in Lipa. Maybe our trip was meant to happen so that we wouldn’t go around in the rain.

I said this a lot of times throughout the trip – I really like this – because I really do. I’m thankful that we’re able to travel together and make memories like this. I live with them and see them everyday, but it’s very rare that we actually have moments to just be with each other. I’ve realized how we’ve grown as a family through this simple experience and I am thankful to have them.