Poems found

here— as if words written

on tissue meant something.

truth, if it allowed itself to be

relative, would reveal the same:

“I have never given it thought,”

And yet, still. But because.

perhaps —say it— during breakfast,

despite the cold, we become. We

let Friday settle in our shoes so it

can turn into dust. Unless songs, one

without feet to play it, can

exclam: “Be yourself”. Maybe then.

permanence never was; it only

existed in fragments. And I’ll 

remember which table,

when it drops.

Of having have left

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Photo grabbed from: Vince D.

A year ago, I wrote “The curious case of leaving”, detailing how I felt during graduation and the LAVOXA send-off. There, I told myself that:

I may not be in a good place right now but I know that I’ll get somewhere someday.

Somewhere, after a year, turned out to be on Sir Jun’s roof top, celebrating his attorney-hood with Lavoxans of different generations. Despite initial hesitations about going, I came to congratulate him for achieving his goal and for just being an awesome human being, really. Also, it was the perfect excuse to meet up with Lavoxans and other friends.

In a mix of familiar and new people, I felt less overwhelmed than I would’ve been a year ago. I wasn’t fretting about silence and having no one to talk to (because, bottom line,  I really just wanted to be a part of this moment). More importantly, despite being a potato, I have learned to give in to urges of wanting to see people whenever I have the chance to do so. Perhaps, I have grown up.

Note to self: Missing them could just mean missing them, not distance or rules of separation.

Other than being a little more carefree, there’s a lot that changed about me – both good and bad. The good include this new sense of self-love and assertiveness that I found inside me. The bad include parts I’ve left stagnant and parts I lost.

I admitted it before, there are parts of myself that I may have unconsciously traded away for learning experiences, but at least, now, these missing pieces are currently being healed and filled with a new kind of magic. So right now, I’m happier and I know more of myself.

Status: Healing and Happy.

After a long while, I finally felt like I’m doing something right again. For so long, I’ve been so down about life, getting through days just because I had to. I’d almost forgotten how it felt to do good, to care about people, to pin your heart on your sleeve without worrying that it’ll be slashed into pieces.

It seems that, even though I’m still not 100% percent sure about where I want my life to go, I’m at a place where I’m meant to be. And this place, is not a safe haven where I can hide until I feel better, instead, it’s a home where I can challenge myself and rediscover the “Pauline Navarro” that’s been slumbering for months. I recognize myself now.

God, I’m just so thankful!

A year ago, I couldn’t even imagine how I would be able to go, survive. Now, I can look back on the experiences I’ve had so far and thank them for the lessons they taught me. It’s just unbelievable how after being so lost back then, I’m here now with direction and heart still full of hope.

Maybe, this piggy really has taken flight.

 

Notions on Destiny

Aside

a recent painting I did

I’ve been believing in destiny for as long as I could remember. To me, it’s a sign that God and the universe are listening and that something is working in my life. 

Say for example, if I were to find a milktea stall in an unlikely occasion, especially when I was craving for milktea the whole day, instead of simply buying milktea on the way to school, I’d feel more happy and magical. 

But I’ve questioned destiny before. If things were destined to be, then how can we still say that we have a sense of freedom? Does destiny negate free will? Are we slaves to our destiny? (I’ve addressed this through the natural law, but that’s for another post.)

Today, I’ve questioned it again. A situation prompted me to ask if believing in destiny makes me a passive decision-maker. I wondered, does relying on things working themselves out mean that I’m just too lazy or scared to do things myself?

I’d like to believe that I’ve never used destiny as an excuse to get away from something before. I associate it to magic and religion so it’s somehow more of a principle thing than a conscious decision thing for me. 

Well, except for maybe when it comes to the things I like. The more I like something or someone, the more rewarding it would be to get it because I was meant to. (I’m not saying that I freeload on come what may. I just like it what I see invisible connections leading to success, as if I was meant to succeed beforehand.)

An example would be deliberately sitting beside someone I like. I’d rather be in a situation where there’s no other chair so I’d feel like I was meant to go there. Is that weird? Or I’m really just a person that doesn’t want to actively want for myself?

I don’t know. I just really don’t see destiny as a mechanism to get something I like. It’s not meant to do anything. I just establishes a magical connection and an assurance that my life is running a certain track.

Maybe I’m talking about two different issues here.

There’s really no conclusion for this issue yet. At the moment, my belief still stands, that I believe in destiny. Whether it’s making me passive or not will still be determined by further introspection.

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.

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.)

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.

‘Unlearn’

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Photo credits: “Lost in Thought” Art Print by Davies on Society6

My favorite English word is ‘unlearn’. To me, it’s impossible to unlearn anything and yet, that word exists. It’s a sweet simple paradox.

This morning, ‘unlearning’ came to mind as I stared at a press release written for one of our projects. It was being edited and I was called so that I could learn from the revisions.

I thought back to my college days, when I was writing for the school paper, and began comparing notes. I knew that the context of the situations were different but, at times, I couldn’t help but internally reject some of the practices/tips given to us because it was different from what I learned. Most of the time, I have to turn off the pub-side of my brain to be able to write press releases according to how the industry wants it to be written.

It’s been almost eight months of that now. Of course, I haven’t been writing press releases only. I’ve been writing various communication materials also, and because of that, I had to adopt the business/marketing language – whatever that is.

This morning, I was just worried that unlearning is actually possible. I worried that by trying to adopt to a certain communication style, I had unlearned one that I am proud of having acquired. If that was the case, then the special-ness of my favorite word would be gone and I’d have to blame myself for being so careless with words and communication.

But then, as I spaced out and thought about it some more, I realized that I did not unlearn. I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to write a good news article, using the rules I came to know, if I tried. It won’t be phenomenal, but I will be familiar and okay.

Maybe, just because I haven’t been doing it as much, I have temporarily forgotten. I may have put that skill to sleep in the comforts of my head, but it’s there. And everyone knows, you can’t run after waking up. It takes slow and sluggish steps to get accustomed to being alive again.

Writing is who I am, and like the things we learn and come to realize, our identity is not something that can simply be taken away.

The cost of swallowing your words

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Photo credits: suwalls.com

You stand before the judgment of whoever it was you believed was above you. You tell yourself to keep you head high, to look out the windows if you must, so that at least you could say a part of you fought for something. But your lips, trembling, gave you away. Though your heart was hammering against your chest, rebelling against the control you’re trying to enforce, you knew you’d say nothing in the end.

You weren’t the type of soldier to keep guns in your back pocket. Instead, you carried a flag and a glass of cold water. More than anyone, you knew that there are injustices worth speaking about and people worth breaking the silence for. You wore your principles like a rosary around your neck, that to tuck it out of your shirt would be as powerful as a prayer.

Maybe, you felt like survival meant being quiet in a jungle, that to travel at night and adhere to the rules of the king would be the only way to get out alive. You’ve scraped your knee a little too early when you sang with your inside voice, and that sort of betrayal felt more painful than having nothing for breakfast. There’s something unspoken that followed after – shortness of breath and constant second-guessing.

Now, your teeth are turning yellow and your name is trying to escape. The thoughts you used to be sure are yours sound like another person. Your mouth is dry; your tongue has reverted to its cave. And you feel, with everything you let be and keep inside, you barter a chunk of your soul for temporary comfort.

You cannot avoid conflict. War travels in the air as a given. If you cannot fight for your heart, fight with it.