The curious case of leaving


LAVOXA after the Send-Off (credits to Raynold Oruga)

I wake up and for a spit second, before all information registers inside my head, I am fine. I am fine.

In between the small window of silence, I feel the effects of oversleeping kick in – my arms growing heavier and my head ringing – and I attempt to open my eyes. My sense of hearing  activates then and I feel my body power up, my brain being the last one. I try one last time to go back to dreaming, but when I could no longer put the day on hold, I’d turn to my side and grab my phone to check the date and time. The slight change in lighting is enough to nudge me.

It’s been n days since. How are you feeling, Pollen?

I muster whatever motivation I have left to get up, and most of the time, when I do, I feel like something’s not right with the world. Getting out of bed seems to be defying the laws of Physics, because in my heart it feels like I’ve been unfairly plucked out of a phase of my life I’m not ready to leave yet.

I knew it was bound to happen. Being a sentimental person, I’ve been counting down any last thing I could take note of. I relished in milestones and knowing that I have a moment of mine to keep. During my fourth year in college, life satisfied that secret craving. (Part of me hates that part of myself now.)

But when graduation came, it didn’t feel like the pivotal moment I’ve been working hard to have nor did it seem like the milestone that I had to cross to be a person.

In the first place, though I knew I had goals and dreams for my college life and how I wanted it to end, I couldn’t say that I really obsessed over graduation, much less believe that everything I did was for it. Graduation, all-throughout schooling, was just at the back of my head but not really the driving force that kept me alive. (I only kept it there so that I could have what it represents, which at this point, I don’t really know.)

Instead, my graduation felt like a rerun, a do-over of all the graduation “what-ifs” I had in high school. This time, I was the batch valedictorian, I wore my contact lenses right and I curled my hair, just like I wanted to. This time, I was going to deliver the speech, as inspiring as I could make it, and I have no guy to ask closure from. And this time, I could allow myself to postpone the sense of ending because I still had a reason to come back, a reason to stay a carefree young adult, (a reason I’ll discuss later).

Maybe it was because I paid too much attention during the practices that the actual event felt like a simulation. Sure, we were all dolled up but I was familiar with that sensation. And sure, people joked about my medals and borrowing some for the march, but that too had been a line I told one of my old friends not too long ago. It didn’t sink in that I wasn’t going to see much of the same people I shared the day with. It didn’t sink in that I was really going to end schooling right there and then.

I realize now that all the magic of what graduation was supposed to feel like was stripped to a minimum in my head, also partly because I wasn’t allowing myself to process it. I built walls so that I wouldn’t be overwhelmed with how awesome things were going. I denied that maybe I did deserve a good day for once. And, on top of all that, I didn’t want to face closure. Not then and not at all. I only let those emotions overwhelm me when I faced Sasa, one of my close friends and Sir Derik, my publications adviser (because they bombarded me with raw honest emotions and I couldn’t shield myself from that).

Also, so that I could not focus on myself, I focused on my parents, my siblings, my friends, anyone around me whom I felt had emotions more valid than mine to be addressed that day. Instead of claiming the day, I tried to make it their moment and I moved as perfectly as I could, or just according to plan really, so that they can relish my graduation as theirs. It was my way of being grateful because I really did love them from the bottom of my heart and I felt like I had been given too much attention already that it was their turn to own my achievement as theirs too. Heaven knows, I wouldn’t make it anywhere alone.

Bottom line, graduation felt like any other day I was pretending to be an adult, but it was, in a sense, the first real way of leaving.

After graduation, I had a reason not to grow up yet. I committed to organizing the Lasallian Schools Press Conference (LSPCon) which would be hosted by LAVOXA, the student publication I was formerly a part of. I headed the program committee which was basically in-charge with the scheduling and all that.

Because of such an undertaking, I had an excuse not to let graduation sink in. I had an excuse to postpone all forms of farewells. And I had a great time because I had somewhere to go and no one to answer to. I had things to do but I’m working with my friends and it felt like I was in control of my life.

Once in a while I would joke about not having a job yet or feeling awkward about coming to school but I only did those things because I felt like I had to. I mean, who in their right mind would give 100% percent of herself to a project without feeling the urge to complain? If I didn’t “rant” or something to that effect about committing to LSPCon, people might think I’m nuts.

But honestly, I genuinely gave everything I am to that project without asking for anything in return because I loved what I was doing and who I was doing it for. It was my greatest pleasure to be working on LSPCon. And heaven knows this is crazy, but I’d love to work on another project as big as that if it means working with them again.

I couldn’t exactly write about what happened during LSPCon yet (because I’m reserving that for some other thing) but I guess I could tell you about what it did to LAVOXA and to me. LSPCon unleashed the inner stress monsters of everyone and pushed us to our limits. It showed just how farther we could go if we put our minds to it. And the people whom I didn’t expect to up their game, placed their best foot forward. It was amazing to see us all come together like a real family.

To me, LSPCon was my second chance. This is hard to admit here or to anyone for that matter but I have been afraid that I would be leaving LAVOXA just as a name or a legend and that no one would really see past that. I wouldn’t be the LAVOXAn remembered for the shred of moments I spent with them nor would I be the one called up for a spontaneous gathering or something. I felt like I didn’t leave anyone a part of me to keep other than the stories of “incredible feats” even I didn’t know how I managed.

So, in a sense, LSPCon was a time for me to open up to everyone, to be unafraid to let everyone in and to be present in the moment enough to give myself away and to get to know them really.

After four wonderful days, I did just that. I was tired, overworked, stressed but my heart had a sense of fulfillment. I finally let her out, the real Pollen, and for once I didn’t care if I was too loud or if my jokes would make sense.

Then, send-off happened. It was finally time to let the goodbyes sink in. I need to accept that all I got was an extension and that it wasn’t my life anymore.

The hard part is realizing that you found a family somewhere you didn’t expect to and you have to leave them, not because you made a mistake, not because you hurt someone, not because you’re choosing to, but because you have to. The hard part is knowing that you have loved so much and you know you could love so much more, but you can’t. The hard part is knowing that you won’t lose them but you would lose tonight and that’s something different and something you can’t fight.

The hard suck-ish part is how, knowing me, I’d respect the boundaries of closure and I can’t make my head understand that I can still hang out with them anyway. Every molecule in my body is screaming at me to leave, to cut ties because it’s easier that way. My head’s telling me to pack up, clean the slate and go as far as I could. I’m forcing myself to stay away, to just rant on Twitter about the pain or to keep it in in order to be functional. It sucks because I want to be with them and I can’t.

I need to heal this pain. I need to move on. I know that.

I’m choosing to ignore my instincts of flight, my craving for one dramatic closure or realization. I need this farewell to be different. I don’t want it to be clean cut. I’ll accept messy if messy means that I really loved LAVOXA and everyone I had to say goodbye to.

I’ll take my walls down and with that the urge to be in control of how I go. I may not be in a good place right now but I know that I’ll get somewhere someday. And today, when I woke up, it feels like the pinch at somewhere in my chest hurts less and maybe this is closure.

I think of them and they seem distant and I don’t know if that’s okay or just the way of how my brain deals with what it thinks is loss. I’m fighting reason here by saying that I haven’t lost them. It just sucks right now that our circles are expanding far from one another.

I won’t forget them, that’s for sure. I just have to grow up now.

I don’t know where to go from here, really, because I feel like from here on out, everything would be about finding the same comfort they give from places that couldn’t give enough. We’ll see. I’m still wrapping my head around this whole thing.

Whatever the case, I am thankful.

About three months ago I wrote this: “I love them and they will never know.” I hope you guys know now. I’m pretty sure this piece isn’t coherent but that’s all I wanted to say really.

A tribute video to the four years: The LVX Project video


Why “feeling fat” is different

Amidst our mother’s day preparation, my youngest sister was able to unearth an old photo of me when I was in third year high school. Compared to how I am now, I was noticeably thinner back then.


Me in 2011, after my sister’s recognition day

Once she tagged my name on the photo, reactions from my current circle of friends came pouring in. They couldn’t believe I was ever like this, and when they did, it was obvious how they approved more of old Pollen’s body shape. It was a pretty normal reaction, something to be expected once a throwback picture floats back into the current news feed.

Throughout this photo’s short-lived resurfacing, I took no offense to what was happening and to the comments. I didn’t even ask my sister to take down her tag and I didn’t attempt to delete or hide it even once. (But, I have to admit, I did keep checking who reacted on the picture, just to know who has seen it.)

To me, it was a good enough photo, awkward bangs and all.

But still, no matter how seemingly gobsmacked people were of my figure, of how I once looked, I knew in my heart that I don’t want to go back to that point. They saw a slim young lady, a suitable canvas for all the beautiful possibilities of growing up. They saw the thin frame glorified by our generation. And I saw the piggy I felt like back then.

Would you believe the girl in that photo thought she was fat, that she saw herself as a big blockage that had to always get out of the way? Would you believe that she still felt insecure about the other girls her age whom she believed was naturally blessed to be slim (meaning automatically beautiful)?

Maybe not. I may not have looked like a perfect fifteen year old there but, I still looked fit enough.

The problem was, I didn’t see it that way. I felt ugly and in silence, I hated my body because when I looked in the mirror I saw myself differently. I zoomed in on my problem areas and they were every place I saw fat that didn’t exist.

Ask me if I ever remembered being that thin and I would say no, an honest to goodness no. I’ve always carried the weight of my weight whenever I remembered my old school girl days. My stomach has always been unnecessarily excessive and my legs, though I am proud of their tone, have always been dominantly just “big and fat.” I felt too heavy for my own good, and perhaps, that was the reason why it was so easy for me to bring myself down. And for years, I’ve mastered the art of not letting it get to me.

You see, being fat, over-weight, obese, chubby or whatever euphemism you could think of, could not only be a biological battle to speed up your metabolism or burn your fat through exercise. It could also be an internal struggle of accepting who you are no matter what body shape you have.

No matter what happens, when you feel fat and you feel that as a bad thing, no amount of diet and exercise will make you feel that you are good enough. Without a shift in perspective, you would be trapped in that mindset as I was and you’d regret the moments you missed because you were too worried about how fat has disrupted your life.

It took me twenty years to embrace everything I am. It’s not too late.

This is how I feel about the 2016 Philippine elections:

the dragons no longer lick the

wounds are unkempt in secret

she grows urgent and ill-

gotten wealth has caused us

to believe that she is dead.


what is the use of spirit amongst

open legs and moan of youth

tries to be strong amidst scorn

pray he calls back after three

days belong to the sun alone.


feverish skin light up with droplets

of raining cats and moose chewing

on grass in tall circular fields

the smoke catches me off guard

as I inhale, we die.


I like the way I write.

Listen to the poem here! (Election 2016)