Thoughts up on Manabu

Photo taken at Mt. Manabu summit

 

Last February 4, I joined a mountain climbing trip to Mt. Manabu with Team Tagaktak. It was a spontaneous trip (at least for me) since my sister notified me a night before the hike. Though I was tired from the work week in Manila, I said yes because I did want to return to Manabu after four years and I wanted to meet up with my Lavoxa friends.

So yeah. The hike happened like that, on a whim, but after it all ended, it felt like I needed to be there, like it was meant to happen. I won’t narrate the entirety of what happened. Instead, I’ll just write what I learned from the climb.

Travel at your own pace.

I started confidently, striding alongside those who have more recent experiences of hiking than me. I thought to myself that Manabu was the mountain of my childhood anyway and I conquered it before. But I was badly out of shape and I needed to realize that. It was only when I allowed myself to slow down and take breaks that I was truly able to experience the hike.

There are things you don’t give up on. (Find real motivation.)

At the time of the hike, I was on the brink of deciding to move on from something big. That was when I came to learn that I don’t need to put up with meaningless things. So maybe, it was by default that I also thought of giving up on the climb after my body gave away.

But the hike wasn’t meaningless. I just couldn’t understand what it meant to me initially. I needed to find real reasons why I should go on.

Partly, it was the team, specifically Sir Jun, who really pushed me to reach the summit (because they won’t leave me no matter how much I told them that I’ll be fine). But mostly, it was a bet with the mountain and a promise with myself. I told myself that if I was able to reach the summit, I’d be able to take the “next step”, face everything toxic and live meaningfully.

There is beauty in both knowing and not knowing your limits.

The hike was a wakeup call that I was so out of shape and that I’m not living a healthy lifestyle. Two stations in, I vomited and felt my spirit exit my body. My insides were shaking and my lips lost its color. Every cell in my body begged me to quit it.

I told Sir Jun this as he egged me to continue. Then he responded saying that knowing and not knowing your limits is equally important. Thinking that you still have it in you to walk an extra mile even when you’ve exhausted yourself, can push you to exceed your limits.

Take care of yourself.

One does not simply climb mountains. Despite being in bad shape, I was able to finish the course, yes, but if I want to do it regularly, I have to start taking exercise seriously. (I actually promised myself to return in a month with more fighting spirit and a better body condition but guuuuh. I’m sorry.)

People come together through labored breaths.

I’ll admit, I was pretty intimidated by Team Tagaktak initially. I’m not an outdoorsy person or someone who actively seeks to join groups like theirs. And I know that I often get mistaken for a timid introvert with different priorities in life.

But that day, I was just myself around them. Though I’ve been dragging the trip, they made it feel okay and encouraged me all throughout. They made stopping and resting normal and they stood by the code which is to never leave anyone behind.

I know I’d be fine if the left me alone in a rest stop or something but it felt good to experience their sense of loyalty and kindness first hand.

(A/N: Kinilig ako noong inadd ako sa FB group. First climb ko pa lang naman pero kahit pa.)

Away, you can be most honest with yourself.

As we hiked, everything was just fleshed out and real – the numbness of my feet, the mud inside my shoes, the thorns poking my skin. And then, the wind, the smell of grass, sunlight. In that setting, how can you resist admitting that you are in fact, just a girl trying to take a leap of faith?

You’ll find yourself in a different place just by turning around and facing the other side of the mountain.

When we reached the summit, I turned to the side facing San Pablo. The lights were dimmer, the wind was stronger and I felt magical.

It’s okay to depend on people.

(And it won’t mean that you’re necessarily a burden.)

It’s a matter of finding your own path, and being willing to dig deep in the mud if you have to.

This is my favorite part of the hike! We went down at night and I walked at my pace (which was slower) so of course, I got separated from the group. It was fine because I made paths of my own and led Lyka who was behind me. That really motivated me to do well and wow. It felt like I had a knack of finding my own direction.

The most rewarding thing is feeling sweat flow down your forehead.

(I’ve missed sweating that much for anything.)

There’s a certain song, rhythm you come to memorize in the dark, when going down.

(And because of that, you come to memorize the landscape.)

Bet against the mountain. Promise victory.

I finished the hike. I will return a better person and conquer it(myself) again.

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In Between States

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Photo source: ours80s.com

In school, we were taught that there are three states of matter – solid, liquid and gas. The most prominent characteristic that differentiates each state is the compactness of their molecules, solid being the most compact.

(If you’re going to be really particular, yes, there’s another state of matter – plasma – but for the purposes of this post, let’s just stick to the first three for the metaphors.)

We were also taught that a material can change from one state to another. The most classic example is ice (solid) that turns to water (liquid) and then water vapor (gas).

I was reminiscing these lessons as I waited for a jeepney at a police outpost near my alma mater. At the time, I had just finished requesting for some documents I needed for something I was planning to do in the near future. Something that would dictate my life for the next few years.

You could say that I was worried. That day was a day of setting things in motion. I was actively trying to get a move on with my life and disrupt the routine I had learned to live with for almost eight months. Everything beneath my feet was shaking with the idea that from there on out, anything was possible and I was in-charge.

As cars continued to pass me by, I found myself dwelling on the changes that happened to me in a span of a year and how I got to where I am. More often than not, each change brought some sort of discomfort that I had to overcome. And at the time, when I was slowly being overcome by changes and worries, I needed to have a metaphor to anchor my sanity to.

I was in a state of confusion. I only had a general idea of where I wanted my life to go, but who was I kidding? I felt like I had no direction and that I was just making up plans for the sake of having plans. The best way I could describe it was being in between states, like being whatever it is that’s no longer water but not yet vapor.

Solid to Liquid

I graduated college feeling like life finally proved me wrong about not being good enough.

You see, though I excelled in school during elementary and high school, I never really believed like I could do great things. I was surrounded by people who were better than me and I always felt like I had to catch up or else I’ll fall off the roster.

But in college, I ended up fulfilling a wish of mine, which was to deliver the valedictory speech at the end of four years. Though my aim was only to inspire my batch mates with a speech (just like how our HS valedictorian inspired me), I found that after the four years in college, I became a solid person that can be proud of herself and can dream of better things.

I wasn’t complete as a person yet, but I felt concrete. I felt like I existed and I knew who I was.

But, when I was thrown into the corporate world, I found myself blending in to try to adopt. I wanted to do my best, and being blinded by the need to adjust, I mindlessly gave too much of myself.

Here’s a hard truth: I was too obsessed about finding a job and doing what was expected of me that I forgot how to define my life, that I lost parts of myself I didn’t need to lose.

For a short while, I was proud of myself for being able to survive in Manila all by myself, for accomplishing tasks I thought were impossible, for putting myself out there and for enduring challenges alone.

But I lived in the now. I just wore myself down as I tried to get by. Because I allowed the system to swallow me, I wasn’t accomplishing anything meaningful.

Liquid to Gas

Just because I realized that something was going wrong doesn’t mean that I was able to do something about it immediately. I was stuck in a situation and the next steps were vague, if not invisible.

I endured. That meant I was aware of how toxic my routine had become but I was unable to take action. Everything proceeded as it did before but I got unhappier as the days passed.

Those were dark days. What got me through was the thought of going home to Lipa. I counted the hours and I had to actively find motivation to do anything.

It was like being in Limbo while yearning for what it would feel like to be in a better place.

Slowly, I was feeling stagnant and, I don’t know, I was just really down.

Gas to Solid

In the state of being lost, I found a flicker of hope. It started out as a crazy idea at first but at least it was something. I used that fantasy to build myself up, to be busy about something for myself. It wasn’t much, but it was a plan that made me smile.

It was only in desperation that I accepted that idea, to be honest. But it gave me myself back and even if it doesn’t go through, I’ll feel really thankful for it. (It was also thanks to thing thing that I was able to confirm what I feel like is my mission in life.)

It wasn’t easy to force my life to change, to take charge of my life. From being confused about who I’ve become to trying to become someone better, I had to silence my worries and trust my gut about most things. I had to exhaust all options and keep an open mind to where certain opportunities would lead.

It took everything in me to become someone I recognized once again.

I’m currently at this state now. I’m still trying to be a solid person again. I’ve made choices. I’ve committed to purposeful things. I’m moving forward.

As the days pass, I’m getting closer and closer to the person I want to be. I’m regaining confidence in myself. (The funny thing is, things aren’t going according to plan but they’re becoming better.)

Nothing’s set in stone yet but for the first time in a long while, I’m feeling excited about something meaningful again.

(Hello Pollen. It’s been a while.)

Plan ABC

Photo taken at Worldbex2017

I’m at the point of my life where I’m trying to shift gears and maneuver to the next destination. But, instead of having a set course, I only have a vague idea of where I want to go. I just have a general picture of the change I want to happen and the feel of what I want my life to be like in the near future.

(If you’ve lived alone for a while, you realize that you are in charge of your life and you do not have to put up with things not meaningful to you. You can make things/dreams happen now.)

At this point, I feel like I’m getting closer and closer to the next step. I’ve just been thinking about it months before but now, it’s actually going to happen. And though I’m mostly excited, part of my brain is doubting if I really can pull things off and if I really want to stir my life towards this course. 

(Sometimes I feel like I might have commitment issues because whenever things start to get real, I panic!)

But this sense of doubt must be natural, right? I mean, for the first time in my life, I actually didn’t overthink the decisions I made to start this whole moving on process. Though I was reasonable and logical as I did the steps I needed to do, I trusted my gut when it came to deciding whether to do it or not. So naturally, my brain will second-guess. 

Initially, not having a concrete plan was refreshing. It made me feel like I could really do anything and I should be bold when dreaming. It’s like pushing forward and worrying later. Like looking straight ahead at a certain unwavering goal and running forward.

I did plan for a goal, I’ll give myself that. But I didn’t worry about it’s implications and the consequences I’d have to deal with if I went through with it. 

Also, I gave myself safety cushions. I prepared backup plans (even if, now that I look at it, they don’t make much sense unless I could make them work.) 

But other than those two, I mostly just winged it. (There’s no manual for life anyway.)

Now that things are getting nearer, I can see how loose things have become. It’s like I’m taking the next step but I’m landing on gelatin. 

Yes, I have a fixed goal but I have mindlessly worked on ensuring that I have several options to get there. Because of that, I have unconsciously made things flexible so that I can pick an option at the last minute and save the day.

(Is this me being scared? Have I been playing safe all this time?)

Right now, though nothing’s set in stone, I have a feeling that in the end, I might be torn between two things that I’ve entangled myself with. And I won’t be sure what to do with that. 

Part of my brain is telling me to start being logical again. But honestly, I still have breathing room to do so. At the end of the day, I’m just really doing my best, because if there’s anything I’m sure of, it’s that I’m meant to be where I am right now and I’ll be where I’m meant to go because someone up there is going to guide me.

A Happy Poem

Mt. Manabu peak

​I’d like to write about happy things

again. Sometimes, I look at the sky

and come up with words like ‘soggy,

brow-beaten cheeks’ instead of 

‘tomorrow’. My best work is defaulted

that way – to be of uneaten

breakfast and bottled coffee left

under the bed. Sunlight, if ever

it comes, barges in between cracks

on the roof while I wish to stay

asleep, and my pen reaches for it,

merely to immortalize the pain

of waking up. My handwriting sounds

like birds, drilling the concrete, because

it tells the story of a little girl 

crying. There is no air to breathe 

in my poems, should I write 

one. If there were better things,

happier things, maybe I could.

What it means to be an emotion-based decision maker

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Photo from: pixabay.com

I know that I’m an emotional person, but up until recently, I’ve never really dwelt on how emotions rule my life. After close introspection, I realized that I base a lot of my decisions, even the crucial ones, on how I feel or would feel. I may be fairly logical but more often than not, my feelings dictate most of the choices I make.

Here are some situations to illustrate what I mean:

1) When shopping for clothes or makeup

I’m no fashionista and I have no specific brand of style. But, I do know what I like (weird prints) and don’t like (clothes that blow me out of proportions). And yet, whenever I shop for clothes or makeup, these preferences of mine would often become secondary.

I would simply choose whatever makes me feel beautiful or confident. If it feels like a lucky charm I could wear to host an event or to go to a reunion with old friends, I’ll buy it (even if that means spending over my budget).

I’ll also buy it if someone I trust says it looks good on me even if I don’t understand why. It gives me a sense of approval and assurance that if I do wear/use it, at least one person already likes it.

2) When buying anything

I’m the type of person who searches for the One when shopping.

For example, I have to go and buy a pen. In doing so, I would go through all the stocks and pick one that feels right, that will be most comfortable to use and that will represent my handwriting the best. Or sometimes, it just has to be instinctually right. (I may find the One early but just to make sure, I’d still go through everything.)

3) When eating

When going out to eat, I look forward to experience over taste. Eating with people is a moment (and this is the reason why, even if I’d rather be alone most of the time, people can persuade me to eat out especially if I like spending time with them.)

On the other hand, when it comes to the food I pick, I often go with comfort food or dishes that I’m familiar with and/or gives me a good feeling inside. For example, when I’m feeling particularly down, I eat/drink stuff with milk or cream (because milk feels like childhood and mom’s hugs.)

(Side note: If I had to eat just because I have to, I tend to feel really sad. *remembers a few experiences in Manila*)

4) When travelling

One reason I attribute to my lack of sense of direction is that I’m an emotional traveler. Instead of paying attention to the streets, I let the essence of the place overwhelm me. I don’t know how to explain it really, but I understand what a place feels like more than the geography of the place.

(Also, FYI, I don’t actively pursue travelling unless I’m with other people who know the place better than I do because of that. Being sensitive to what the place feels like equates to getting lost most of the time.)

5) When giving gifts

I live for birthday surprises and making people happy. That’s why I often splurge or go all out for other people on their special day. And when it comes to spending money, the financial side of my brain blacks out whenever I’m going gift shopping so that I could be as generous as I want to be. I mean, you have to admit, everyone needs a giant teddy bear at some point of their life.

(Refer to: Christmas 2016)

6) When I have things to say

Say for example, I have this very important thing that I have to tell someone. But, doing so would make me feel uncomfortable, messy or awkward. Even if I would just have to endure it for a while, I tend to bottle it in and deal with the important matter by myself. (I’m trying to fix this habit hehe.)

7) When writing (or doing something that’s really important to me)

I’m very particular about my creative writing time, especially if I’m working on my novel. In order to proceed making my masterpiece, I want everything to feel right. Things don’t have to be perfect exactly; it just has to feel right. It should feel like I’m destined to write this particular word at this particular spot at this particular time. It’s right if it feels like I’m meant to be doing it and if I feel fine.

Unless it feels right, my brain is going to come up with a reason to not do it. (The same goes for all the creative things I do.)

I know it sounds like procrastination but the thing is, when I do find the right time to write and I write again, I find a reason why I was meant to write it then. For example, I had to experience something first before I could write that scene and I wouldn’t be able to write it like that if I wrote it months before. (I’m sorry I am confusing.)

I don’t know if the things I wrote down even make sense. Then again, trying to explain feelings are confusing.

I guess, I just wanted to show that emotions can be as powerful as logic when influencing decisions. And that it may seem highly ridiculous to be this kind of person – being too feely makes it hard to survive a world like ours really – but I can’t imagine myself being anyone else.

Just Checking-In: 030317

It’s been awhile… again. I know I haven’t been diligently writing or blogging lately (though I’ve had a lot of ideas to write about). Sorry about that. I’ve been busy processing stuff and going through mini-existential crises recently.

Anyway, despite life being a bit shaky right now, things are starting to look up. For one, I’m loving the sensation in being immersed in something entertaining. It makes me forget about the big deep stuff for a while.

These entertainment stuff are all listed below. They are my comfort things and I’m just thankful that I’m still able to enjoy because of them. (That’s one way to put it.)

READING – ‘All’s Well That Ends Well’ by William Shakespeare on Sparknotes

I know I should probably be reading the script before diving into the explanation of the theme and motifs but I don’t know. I’ve been into reading Sparknotes explanations lately. Yesterday, I read the one about the Hunchback of Notredame because I wanted to understand the symbolism behind the plot, and it was a great way to learn and kill time.

LISTENING – JJY and Roy Kim!

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Jung Joon Young’s been one of the stars that I’m following lately. He became known by joining a singing contest in Korea.

One of his fellow contestants turned chingu was Roy Kim who became the grand winner of the competition. They’ve covered a couple of songs like ‘Falling Slowly’, ‘Creep’ and ‘Becoming Dust’. (I’ve been listening to all three!)

Right now, ‘Becoming Dust’ is on repeat in my player and I even downloaded a karaoke video just so I could learn to sing it. It’s a rock rendition of the ballad but surprisingly, I’m really loving it!

WATCHING – Where do I begin with this segment? I don’t even know. I think I may be watching too many things.

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If I must share, I’m currently watching two Kdramas: Strong Woman Do Bong Soon and My Introverted Boss. After Hwarang and Reply 1988 where I was either tense or crying every episode, I decided to go with light fluffy dramas this time. I’m not expecting much plot-wise for both dramas. I just really need a breather right now.

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For variety shows, I’m still into 1 Night 2 Days. I decided to watch it from the very first episode of season three and now I’m at the non possession episode. (I love the cast so much and I have to admit that when I watch the episode of Joo Hyuk leaving, I’ll die inside.)

FEELING – Now that I’ve written about all of that, I feel really happy inside. (And I just want to go home and immerse myself in that happy world.)

THINKING – About how I should spend my time this afternoon. I want to be both chill and productive.

CRAVING – for sleep in the bus.

PRAYING – that all the challenges of the coming week will be surmounted.

NEEDING – a run or a solemn moment in church. I’ve been needing that for a while now.

LOVING – my family. They’ve always made me feel like I’m going to be okay.