Monday, December 3, 2018

Twenty Eight

My twenty eighth was not my happiest, greatest year, to be honest. I am in a place and time in my life when it's very difficult to find purpose in living, and motivation to keep going. Life's roadblocks were constant, bigger and seemed impossible to get past. It didn't help that the positivity and courage I was blessed with in my 27th year was nowhere to be found. All gone, I guess. Maybe, my luck has ran out.

I could still list down the things I am thankful for--family, friends, material blessings--but even that process I start to question the benefit of.

Ever since I can remember, I've always figured out what I want out of life. Advance mag-isip, as we jokingly say in Filipino. But somehow I am starting doubt my findings and, eventually, my methods of getting to these conclusions.

The highs of my life have so far been measured by professional successes, rarely personal ones. At the end of 2017, I knew that it would be a long way to go before my next professional milestone. That alone, made this year, my 28th, a tough one. It's as if I am in third year law school all over again. Both the starting point and the goal seem too far to go back or to move forward to. 

Changing the metrics of success seems the only right way to go. I tried investing more in my personal life. But that, to summarize, had been a bust. To put it simply, all my paper planes went unreturned. I am nowhere near I want to be, despite my 110 percent effort. Is it time to reevaluate my methods again?

In the past year, I also felt that, despite my age and what lies ahead, I am running out of time. I am  too old to make mistakes acceptable, yet too young to be immune to bouts of stupidity and immaturity.

The world turns, the world takes, regardless if I am ready for it.

Even though it sounds too cliche-ic and corny, I only have one goal in life: To be happy. I thought I had it planned out. But the past year has taught me, in the most painful of ways, that I am still unprepared for it. That my plan was faulty. That happiness is not as simple or as accessible as it may seem two years ago. That, lo and behold, I cannot expect everyone to behave as I hoped they would. That things that can go wrong, will.

So what's next for me? With the way things are going (or not going, to be accurate), I expect another year of goals not being met (yet), and of being too far in the game to quit. Another year of "hindi ako malungkot pero hindi rin ako masaya."

Can I survive my last year as a twenty-something being just this? I think so. There are worse fates, I'm sure. 

Admittedly, the more difficult question I have to find an answer to is, How to survive. And I am still looking for the right answer--months after I first thought of this question.

If you get leads or tips or a fairly decent guess, let me know. I am dying to find answers. 

Happy birthday to me.

Friday, July 6, 2018

deers should grieve

we open with a familiar scene: the deer, standing alone in the deep, dark forest at night. it is stunned. struck yet again by another headlight—a familiar one, at that. mind going mile a minute, heart beating twice as fast, but all limbs not moving an inch.

the deer has finally said goodbye to the headlight of 2013. it was not a conventional farewell that involved tears, hugs and false promises to stay in touch. the goodbye took the form of a question unanswered—a metaphorical goodbye of sorts; an end to a madness that lasted more than it should.

the deer’s initial response was to make sense of what happened. to make the loss a positive one. a learning experience. instead of mourning the loss and shedding much-kept tears, the deer skipped (as it was wont to do) to lessons that could be learned from this two-year hit and run. it told other deers it was okay. it even told itself, everything was okay.

turns out it wasn’t. and this realization crept up to the deer quietly, but hit the deer suddenly. 

the deer, after much introspection (yes, deers introspect), realized that it should have mourned its loss properly. it should have stopped and cried, instead of going on with life. it should have accepted the simple but bitter truth that the loss, although foreseen, still hurt. the deer should have grieved.

the headlight is long gone by now, leaving the deer to handle the sadness that accompanies being left alone, and the loneliness in accepting that not all dreams are realized despite how much hardwork was put in.

contrary to other scientific findings, deers can grieve. and they should.


Unfortunately, other entries in the Deer Struck by Headlights series are now gone because Multiply closed down. I hope to find inspiration to continue this very interesting series here.

Thursday, January 11, 2018


Every year since 2007, I post a review on Multiply about the year that passed and rate that year with stars--5 stars being the best. Sadly, Multiply closed down, and along with its closure went my reviews for 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011. Those reviews are forever lost but I have continued that tradition on this blogspot page for 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

A photo to remember my first New Year away from home.


1. Wonderful additions to our family: Mia and Baby Maxenne a.k.a Baby Max, Baymax, the G.O.A.T. and the MVB (Most Valuable Baby). My younger brother got married last year, and in the process I gained a sister-in-law, a niece, and a hundred bucks. 😏

At the wedding reception of my brother (and new sister!)

Baby Max is a perfect (hehe biased) bundle of joy. Perfect, mostly because she is cranky and looks a lot like me. And she makes my mom very, very happy.

Mama and Max

2. Three new godchildren. Three babies--Max, Julian and Mira--joined the elite (nyehehe) group of children I was chosen to be second parents to. Only God knows why their parents chose me, but being ninang is a responsibility I take seriously and to heart.

3. Best friend got lawyered. 2017 started out on a very high note because one of my best-est friends passed the Bar Exams, and joined the legal profession.

4. Traveled more. Aside from trips around the Philippines that I took because of work, I traveled to South Korea, Hong Kong and Thailand in 2017, and celebrated many firsts in these countries.

From top to bottom:
Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul
Ngong Ping Village in Hong Kong
Wat Chaiwattanaram in Ayutthaya

Every trip offers another lens from which to view the world. Seoul gave me a taste of the ideal (a perfect first international trip); Hong Kong showed me the importance of traveling with friends; while Bangkok marked an ending and a beginning.

5. Moved up in the office (literally, from first to second floor), and was given more responsibilities. Juggling everything I was given became too overwhelming at times but I view everything as an opportunity to learn and to serve.

Welcome Game!

6. Went crazy(-ier) for sneakers to the point that I need an intervention. To my estimate, I have spent...way too much for sneakers in 2017 alone. I even met up with a sneaker seller in Iloilo!

My 2017 sneaker haul was a mix of old and new

One can't have too many white sneakers imho!

The Pride 2017 Pack 🏳️🌈

For 2018, I plan to be more prudent in spending money wisely, especially when it comes to sneakers.

7. Went back to an old love: reading for leisure. Last year, I read books of different kinds: (1) those that mattered (The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, Option B), (2) books that didn't (a couple of YAs haha), (3) books that I really liked (Sneaker Wars, basketball books, A Wrinkle in Time) and (4) books that were given to me that I have yet to finish reading (Closed Chambers, What If, Halina Filipina, Adulting is a Myth, Beta Ball and The Breaks of the Game).

2017's Best Reads

Currently, I am on a book buying moratorium until I finish my two years worth of #MIBF backlog.

8. Went to an Oh Wonder concert. It was perfect. I finally know what it feels like to live ultralife.

Lights out solo in the blue before I found you. --Ultralife, Oh Wonder

9. Strengthened friendships and built new ones worth keeping. I've always viewed the office as a place for work and never for friendship. #realtalk Last year, I was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong.

10. Stopped compartmentalizing...for a day. In my short 28 years on Earth, I have forged friendships with people from different stages/phases of my life--college, law school, work--and I made it a point to keep these friendships within their respective spheres. But last year, I opted to spend my birthday with as many close friends as I can. I was overwhelmed by the turnout. I was so overwhelmed I had acute gastroenteritis the whole time. Ha ha.

It was an interesting experience to say the least. A once in a lifetime kind of thing.


11. Sent paper planes, and consequently opened myself to possibilities. Of love and heartbreak, of success and failure. Of joy, of grace and of happiness.

I wrote about the whole paper plane thing here.


1. Continuous challenges to the rule of law, desperate efforts to weaken judicial independence, and to curtail the system of checks and balances enshrined in the Constitution.

2. Sad realization that certain friendships, ones I expected to last forever, are ending. Le sigh.

3. Failed Ultimate Leap. I am counting my failed ultimate leap as one of 2017's few lows because, to paraphrase a common adage, we miss all the leaps we don't take. I view that failed leap as the universe's way of telling me to wait for a better and (as a friend put it) more organic moment.

Crossing my fingers for the right time to find the right words, and (to paraphrase Jack Kerouac) I hope they will be simple.

VERDICT: FOUR AND 3/4 STARS | As 2016 closed, I only hoped to travel, read, shoe-hoard and "swim" more. Thankfully, I was able to do all of these in 2017.

2016 was a great year and, to be honest, I didn't expect 2017 to be just as good (cos' law of averages). But the Universe opted to one-up itself and gave me a better, happier 2017.

My 2017 was a year of firsts, of taking leaps of faith. Most of the leaps I took were leaps outside my comfort zone. Not everything turned out great or the way I wanted (I even missed that last leap!), but I can proudly say I am a happier person for having taken all those leaps, all those risks.

Thank you, 2017. For the courage, for the hope, and for genuine happiness.

 I've got a hope in the headlights
Stood still but I'm feeling fine
Cause all these plans I've been making
Will get me out of here in time

--Plans, Oh Wonder

THE FUTURE: Almost two years down, three to go. In the past year, my idea of a Good Judge--the kind of judge I want to be--became clearer. The next three years will be utilized to attain the experience and expertise necessary to make me closer to my idea of a Good Judge. To prepare myself better for a life of service to the people, of upholding the rule of law.

Oh my life is changing every day, in every possible way. --Dreams, The Cranberries

Personal life-wise, I aspire to build on last year's gains. I hope to make better life choices--at work, in finances, in health, and in "swimming."

Monday, December 4, 2017

28 Things To Be Thankful For The Past Year

(Alternative title: Opo hindi pa po ako 30 years old 😆)

1/ Baby Max-- cutest baby in the history of mankind 

2/ And all the babies this year (S/O to our office baby, Liza) and my new godchildren Julian and Mira (welcome to the club!) 😘

3/ My mother's continued good health and happiness

4/ For my family. Just because. 

5/ For my other growing #family 😉#INeedAnIntervention

6/ (Metaphoric) Drowning

7/ The courage to send paper planes 😊

8/ (Sort of) Perfect night of Oh Wonder in Manila!

9/ Opportunity to travel and see the world 

10/ Friendships, both strengthened and discovered. (Friends <you know who you are>, if you have follow-up questions from the Q&A session, just let me know HAHAHA)

11/ Forgiving but never forgetting

12/ Learning to see and appreciate life's little mercies/victories

13/ For being more trusting but not naive

14/ Working with a purpose, for a purpose

15/ Working with good, good people

16/ Having inspiration to continue fighting the good fight

17/ Learning the subtle art of not giving a fuck 👍🏼

18/ Opportunities for career growth 😉

19/ Fully Booked Lifetime Discount card 😆 (And the Fully Booked cards people gifted me with 😍)

20/ Having constants. Neutrals.

21/ The courage to go to my first Pride 🌈 (Didn't march though just helped sell merch; maybe next year. #babysteps)

22/ Learning from random sources--experiences, stories, books, etc.

23/ Realizing that not all battles need to be won, some just need to be fought

24/ The reasons that make my heart skip a beat daily, occasionally #Landi2017

25/ Always having reasons to laugh

26/ Finding reasons to live; finding light amidst the darkness 

27/ Love-- the ability to give it freely, wholeheartedly, and receive it unlimited-ly (yeahpppp, that's a made up word haha)

28/ God's grace. To be given all the blessings I have received from my first day on Earth up to Day 10,220.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Three words, nine letters.

As I am wont to do every so often, I craved some alone time yesterday morning, October 11th. A break from all the craziness of the world. So I skipped the usual breakfast with office people, and had one at the nearest, most quiet, least populated coffee shop I know. FYI: I reflect best in places where the likelihood of someone, who knows me, to walk in is close to zero.

This all started with the thought that around the same time two years ago, I was at another coffee shop, along Matalino Street, reviewing for the Bar Exams. At that time, I was less than a month away from the first of four Sundays of back-to-back same-day exams. I was both dreading and wishing for NovemBAR to come. Just to get it over with.

Fast forward to two years later. I am currently a Court Attorney; doing the things I love and genuinely have passion for. Those two years went by fast--faster than what I'm used to, actually. Those two years were the most eventful two years of my life. (Maybe next to the time I learned to eat solids, speak, walk, etc., but I digress.)

Yes, I felt a roller coaster of emotions from October 2015 to October 2017. Yes, I achieved a life long dream. Yes, I got all the material things (read: sneakers) I wanted. But not all those 24 months were perfect. There were a lot of struggles and lessons learned the most painful way.

But what I am most happy and thankful for those 24 months is that I (subconsciously) used those months wisely to be closer to my life goal. Which is, ultimately, To be happy.

It may seem simple. A life contained in three words, nine letters. But juskolorde it was my most difficult goal (yet), in my entire 27-year existence.

Despite the acknowledgment that being happy was a herculean task, I realized as I reflected yesterday, that I am genuinely happy. I am definitely happier now than I was two years ago.

This realization struck me hard; so hard I had to pause and reflect for another extra hour.

My process of getting here was arduous; painful even. First, there was the difficulty of (finally!) accepting the harsh and hurtful truth that I was not happy. That I needed to do something. Anything to get out of the rut I was in. Next came the longer process of finding out what my idea of happiness is. Then, the realization that being happy will require a certain kind of selfishness on my part. To want that happiness for myself, no matter how seemingly difficult it could be for loved ones. Then came the realization that life is short, and that we shouldn't waste it on doing things we don't want to do or trying to gain the favor of people that do not matter. And lastly, having the resolve to actually take risks in pursuit of happiness. All that. 

It may seem easy, only one paragraph long; but it took roughly 20 to 25 years for all of *that* to play out for me.

Because of the difficulty I encountered getting here, I am grateful for many things. For a loving and patient family. For trustworthy and kind friends. For inspiring heartbreaks. For little victories that the Universe and God throw my way every so often, and always when I needed it most. For having the faith that all will be well; that life is not always going to be as bleak as it was then.

For not succumbing to darkness. For always, always seeing the light.

October 11 is also a celebration of a couple of things other than my personal realizations. Coincidentally these are: the birthday of my first real love, the international day of girls, and the national celebration of freedom and individuality.

Unfortunately, October 11 was also a reminder of how overwhelming darkness can be for some people. That not everyone is as blessed as I was to see the light just before I succumbed to darkness.

The uncertainty of life is scary. I agree. One hundred percent true. Even the permanency of this state of happiness I am in is uncertain. Is there a way to avoid uncertainty? In this world, no, there isn't. But is there a way to avoid stop being scared? YES, THERE IS.

I am eternally grateful to have timely discovered the way. And to realize its effects today.

So, to everyone who inspired me to want to be happy, to work towards my three-word, nine-letter life goal, and from the bottom of my happy, contented heart: Maraming salamat.

11 October 2017 was definitely a good day.  

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Baka Sakali

Walang sigurado.

Life is unpredictable, is the one of the first life lessons I learned at an early age. I usually associate the Filipino phrase “Walang sigurado” (Nothing is certain) with sudden death of loved ones—my favorite aunt, my grandmother, my brother-in-heaven.

The uncertainty of life (how long or brief it is, and what happens in it) had been a stumbling block, for 23 years or for the better part of my existence. A motivation to be more careful, to keep things close to my heart, well, close to my heart, and to tread through this Universe as cautiously as I can. Surviving rather than living.

But when a close friend had a serious illness that was not in any way caused by her lifestyle, I started to doubt the way I live survive this life. I realized for the first time that, Life is short. So in 2016, I entertained the idea of veering away from my tried and tested Cautious Way™. I spent the last few days of 2016 taking this (to me, then) Big Risk that previous-me would not have taken, or even thought of. And even then, when I took that Big Risk, I still tried to control its outcome. To avoid surprises and uncertainty. Long story short, I gave up before I really tried.

After much introspection after that Big Risk and how unsuccessful my Cautious Way™ has been in bringing me closer to my ultimate life goal (i.e. To Be Happy), I had new words to live by:

Life is too short for us to do the things we don’t want to do.

This new mantra helped me see 2017 in a different light. Things I previously would not have done, tried, or said yes to, I did. Reading a self-help book for the first time, sending an application letter for a job I considered to be way out of my league, swimming (metaphorically hehe) despite not knowing how and having nearly drowned in the past, trying new things, sharing myself with more people, just to name a few.

But of all these risks, the most important and most potentially damaging or uplifting (depending on the outcome) is, sending paper planes.

Oh Wonder said to build a paper plane to float to you; I built a few more just to be sure.

I still don’t know whether it was a good idea to send those “planes” but I measure its importance by my willingness to take a leap of faith. To just go and say, Bahala na si Batman.

Yes, it is still true that nothing in life in certain (I’m still not sure whether the recipient of the planes genuinely appreciated them, or were they merely being polite, or they didn’t want the guilt of turning down someone), but at least now I have the courage to willingly take a real leap. To leave it all to fate and great timing.

Baka sakali.

I took that leap not knowing what the outcome will be. I took that leap hoping for a less heartbreaking result than what I got in 2016. I took that leap exactly 38 days ago and up to now I'm still confronted with whys and hows. Does it really take 21 days to develop a habit? Do I want you to do things by force of habit or by conscious effort? Am I doing the right thing? Or is it too much? I am not any closer to the answers to my questions.

But what I am sure of is this, I took that leap with the hope that it will bring me closer to happiness only to discover that taking the leap itself made me happy.

Saturday, December 31, 2016


Every year since 2007, I post a review on Multiply about the year that passed and rate that year with stars--5 stars being the best. Sadly, Multiply closed down, and along with its closure went my reviews for 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011. Those reviews are forever lost but I have continued that tradition here for 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

My 27th birthday was mostly spent in quiet reflection.


1. Lawyered. 2016 was scary for its potential to be really good or be really bad. Fortunately for me, 2016 took the really good route. Up to now, I can't find the appropriate way to describe how passing the Bar felt. To say that it was indescribable is even an understatement. It was that good a feeling.

Signing the Roll of Attorneys. #ontothenext

2. Got a job that mattered. The work we do is tiring and demanding (of time, effort and brain cells) but I've always believed in working with a purpose: To contribute to the greater good. I'm fortunate to do something I like and get paid while doing it.

Hail to the Chief!

Because of work, I went around the Philippines in the past year. I reached cities I haven't been to before (Legaspi, Bacolod, General Santos, Tuguegarao and Puerto Princesa to name a few) and revisited those that I have (Tacloban and Cebu). I had a chance to visit my grandmother in Western Samar as well.

PPUR Tour with co-workers

3. Went shoe crazy. I have always been obsessed with shoes (sneakers to be more precise) but I didn't have the moolah to be a legit one, then. So I waited for the right time.

My babies. *heart eyes*

4. Went basketball crazy--ier. FIBA came to Manila last July for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, and I was fortunate to have a friend willing to spend a considerable amount of her monthly salary for a lower box ticket. It was my first time to watch Gilas Pilipinas play in an official FIBA tournament, live. The boys lost but they fought valiantly, as always, and made the country proud. Next up: China for the FIBA World Cup in 2019 and Tokyo for the Olympics in 2020.

PS: On a slightly related note, Rain or Shine, my favorite PBA team, got a championship this year as well. I was watching live when Paul Lee made that game-winning, series-turning shot in Game 2 of the Finals against Alaska.

5. (Slowly) got rid of a nasty law school-acquired habit: speed reading.

My 2016 (Incomplete) Book Haul.

6. There were less Neutral Nights this year (I hate adulting) but I'm glad we were there for each other in the most important of times.

I also opened myself to the possibility of gaining more trustworthy (albeit unlikely) friends.

JARIP babies
First Floorers sans Avram, Sam and Toff
And I invested more in family. We spent all major holidays together this year and (except for my youngest brother's birthday which coincided with a work trip to Palawan) all our birthdays together.

Family first. Always.

7. Wrote my first multi-chapter fanfiction. I started it in January, hoping to finish it by the end of that month but adulting got in the way and I was only able to finish Chapter 5 by March. I'm restarting on it this mini-holiday break, and I hope to finish it before 2017 ends.

8. Drowned, metaphorically. The entire year I metaphorically dipped my feet in the water to get a feel of how water felt between my toes, because I have not been near a body of water in a long time. But on the last month of the year, I convinced myself to finally jump in. Anticlimactically, I nearly drowned. To be honest, I expected to drown (since I didn't know how to swim) but there are necessary mistakes that one has to make to grow. And this was one of them. I needed to feel how water can both give and end life. This setback made me realize that all things are an end and a beginning, and the difference lies in how one chooses to view it, experience it and learn from it. I hope that my experience with drowning will help me keep myself afloat the next time I jump in.


1. Lost my phone. Again. This was the first thing worth P20K-and-above I bought using my own money from my first salary after the Bar Exams. Losing my first ever phone from my first ever job, in 2014, have prepared me for this moment. All I needed was one power cry (hahaha!), and I was over it.

2. Failed to revive blogging. I have blogged less and less in the past two years. I attribute that to not having patience and time to experience things (watch new TV shows or movies and read books) and write about them. So I try to, at very least, maintain this annual tradition.

VERDICT: FOUR AND A HALF STARS | No "low" could make 2016 a three-star year like 2011, 2013 and 2015 were. Passing the Bar Exams, on its own, made this year worthy of four stars. The half star I attribute to all the good things that happened this year--listed or not. Despite the metaphorical drowning, I can genuinely say that ever since I started this rating-my-year thing, I've never had as good a year as I did in 2016.

2016 was a year of trying new things in my personal and work life. I encountered triumphs and defeats in both. In times that I was close to giving up and losing hope, I found comfort in listening to the song, Hold On When You Get Love And Let Go When You Give It by Stars.

There's been a lot of talk of love
But that don't amount to nothing
You can evoke the stars above
But that doesn't make it something

And the only way to last
And the only way to live it
Is to hold on when you get love,
And let go when you give it... give it.

I know it's true, please don't think I do
Nothing that you say or do will make you love me
Forget the song, things will go on
I keep seeing you from the dark with you above me

Take the weakest thing in you
And then beat the bastards with it
And always hold on when you get love,
So you can let go when you give it.

Forget the song, things will go on.

THE FUTURE: For the past three years, I have focused on the career aspect of my Happiness Timeline. With my next goal (joining the Bench) being a mere dot on the horizon (as I have to wait for four more years, minimum, to be eligible to try), I plan to focus more on the non-career aspect. More traveling, more reading and more shoe-hoarding. And more swimming, too, I guess.