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“Within me, an invincible summer.”

Passion.

Sometimes, it clouds your vision. A maniacal drive possesses you, and you do the shittiest things. You obsess over something so wrong, but you’re so into it you refuse to listen to reason. You become so involved in something it feels like you’re diving into the ocean blindly, swimming deeper and deeper until you’re too lost to be saved.

But then, there are those times when it motivates you to do the best. To be the best.  

It’s during those times when it becomes truly magical.

It’s been almost a week since The Red Whistle‘s #SaveSexy Lifeguards Laboracay Race, and it’s only now that it’s really sinking in — how I still feel so intensely awed and inspired by our eclectic group of volunteers who signed up to become our #SaveSexy lifeguards. 

When we at The Red Whistle — me, Niccolo, Caitlin, Odj, and RA — first saw the applications start coming in, we thought that maybe these people didn’t really understand what they were signing up for. After all, it was Laboracay, and the Labor Day weekend in the popular tourist destination was known for parties, and not for work. 

We wondered, did they think it wasn’t going to be work? That it was all going to be fun and games? Would they eventually get back to us and tell us we misled them into thinking it was something else? 

All these thoughts raced in our head as we busied ourselves with the preparation for the race, hoping that we had everything covered and that things would run smoothly until the end, fingers crossed. 

There were hiccups along the way. But slowly, things became better as the teams felt the pressure to complete their mission, which was to educate as many people in Boracay on HIV and AIDS. 

From April 29 to May 1, teams Aware, Courage, and Protect — guided by their leaders Tatum, Minda, and Jhay Dee —  invaded the stations and, armed with their smartphones and a lot of guts, taught the basics of HIV and AIDS to the beachgoers. 

It was astounding, how the fire in their eyes burned as they braved the summer heat to accomplish their task.

Maybe I am waxing poetic about the whole event. But trust me, at the last day, seeing all of those people which our #SaveSexy lifeguards rallied to join the march (getting hundreds of people to walk from Station 2 to Station 1 was no easy feat!) was an absolutely spectacular, stupendous, magical experience. 

Under our breaths we from The Red Whistle muttered, “We did it.” 

Yes, we did it. We did something great. We made an impact. We started a movement. 

Passion. 

When used for something good, what a difference it truly makes. 

Thank you #SaveSexy lifeguards, for reminding me about this. I’m so proud of you guys 🙂  

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Protected: A Moment, A Love, A Dream Aloud

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Maybe We Don’t Need to Paint their Hands Back.

Maybe it should remain there to remind us that no power on Earth should tell us that our love is less.

Maybe it should remain there, so that all of us who love will finally stand up and show the world that we will no longer be afraid to hold the hands of the one we love.

Because all love is equal.

Read more about #PaintTheirHandsBack here.

The silhouette of men holding hands is an image by Karen Arnold, from PublicDomainPictures.net. 

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Protected: Because All Love Is Equal

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Multifaceted

Recently over dinner (North Park‘s steamed tofu with black vinegar and chili sauce — one of their delicious vegan-friendly options I should note, in case you wanted to know the details), someone told me how I was holding myself back. 

Perhaps too quickly, I disagreed and said that I only try to come from a place of non-judgment and understand the reasons why people do what they do. I do my best to put myself in other people’s shoes and see things from their perspective. 

I must say that this isn’t the first time that someone told me this. In a previous entry I mentioned how my friend Brian told me how I would filter things in my head before I said them. It’s my way of committing fewer mistakes. I know very well how passions can flare up and you can easily hurt people in the heat of emotions. I like shielding people and also myself from the consequences of unnecessary wrongs. 

This reminded me about The Red Whistle creative director and my good friend Niccolo‘s confession on how (and this will come as a shock to people who know him as this larger-than-life character) he shies away from people who gush over him. He told me, while we were driving to a party, that he was actually very reserved and that he’d prefer to not draw excessive attention. 

His image, I realized, was very incongruent with how he perceived himself. I told him that the only way to be invisible is to not do anything, and given the nature of our work for The Red Whistle and our respective careers, it was impossible to remain unnoticed. The image people have of us is something we’ve created for ourselves, and therefore we should just go ahead and take what’s given us and stop complaining.

The advice I gave Niccolo then had now suddenly boomeranged towards me. Here I was, being painted as someone I thought wasn’t the way I wanted to be painted as. It was a very harsh accusation. The idea I had of myself wasn’t how this other person framed me. His assessment wasn’t a wholesale lie, but I tried to sweepingly resist it. There was a grain of truth to what he said but it just seemed to be such a negative thing at that moment that I tried to interpret it as something else: I was not that person — I was this someone else instead. Not that, but this. 

It took me a bit of time to introspect about this incident. And tonight, the lesson started to sink in: often times, the qualities we are quick to brand as our faults are sometimes just part of our multifaceted selves. And even the good qualities can be turned into garish caricatures that look nothing like how we understand them in our heads. 

The challenge then is how to be proud of our positive sides. For me, that would be highlighting the good of being dispassionate. It’s not being aloof or holding back. It’s actually caring enough to not always prioritize or impose my emotions over others. 

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What Is Essential

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Taken from ZenPencils.com

Midway between packing my two large bags with clothes as I prepared to move out of my old condo, I suddenly had to pause as a phrase kept repeating itself in my head: the stripping away of the inessential


I knew it was something from childhood because it made me remember those Sundays when we would be spending our mornings in Bible school with our teacher, Ate Mona.  I ended up Googling the words, and realized that the idea was from 1 Corinthians 13. 


The line went: “For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.”

I suppose the sudden memory was a reminder of this part of my life I’m going through now. As I scanned my things–deciding in my head what to leave and to bring to my new place–I felt strangely fine knowing that I can actually do without a lot of things in my life. 

What’s funny is that I’ve spent so much time accumulating all these things, only to realize yet again what little value they hold the moment they became burdensome or obsolete. This is one of those times when I sigh and say objects are only objects–their value is not inherent. Clothes, bags, jewelry, furniture–all replaceable. A lot of things are absurdly superfluous and disposable. 

It makes me think: what does matter anyway? What does hold value in life, at the end of the day? 

I know that this could be such a first-world problem–to seek meaning in a world devoid of such–when the others just roll with the punches in their attempt to survive. I understand this very well, and I am grateful that I’m privileged enough to be in a position wherein I can contemplate the meaning of my existence–how my life fits in the grand scheme of things. 

Still, it IS a source of wonder: when life forces me or you or us to make a choice on what to keep or do without, what do we fight with all our lives to have? And why? 

I try to guide myself with a quote from The Little Prince which I love: 
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; What is essential is invisible to the eye.”  

Perhaps that is too vague an advice to give and adhere to, given that our feelings can be easily manipulated and our emotions can cloud our logic. 

However, as a friend said though, it isn’t really perfection that we’re aiming for, but to touch someone’s life positively, and expand your compassion to a wider circle. 

This is one thing I think we should all do: to love deeply.

But that is just me. I don’t have sweeping answers to all the problems of the world. I can neither offer a general solution to what ails humanity. After all, we’re mere travelers trying to create meaning in our lives, searching for ourselves. 

I can only hope though that, as the year draws to an end, you also, little by little, will be able to strip away the inessential, and find time for the things that you think matter most. 

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The Brave and the Free

Over dinner on our second night in Hanoi, my friend Biboy shared to us how he up and left Manila for Vietnam.

He was backpacking a year ago when he decided to throw all caution to the wind and just move to the country. To survive, he became an English teacher and earned a measly 6,500 pesos every month. He couchsurfed so he can save on house expenses, and subsisted on instant noodles for six months. He connected with new people (a lot of them, foreigners like him.) He moved from one city to another.

Eventually, things started to pick up. He has come a long way since.

“Don’t you miss Manila?” I asked.

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The Madness in the Method

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“Pale Blue Dot”, photo taken by the Voyager 1 spaceprobe
“You’re too cautious,” she wrote, except the last two words had been crossed out.

“You’re not taking any risks, which is the formula to boring yourself to inertia.”

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Bend It Like the Bamboo

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Advice from a vegan restaurant in Bukit Bintang

I can’t believe the year is almost over. I’m pretty sure though a lot of people are saying the same thing. Where did the days go? Weren’t we just welcoming 2013? 

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Human, All Too Human

Picture Image from theartofgooglebooks.tumblr.com

Tonight, a New Yorker article “The Artful Accidents of Google Books“, which reported a growing interest on Google Books scan mistakes, led me to the Tumblr site “The Art of Google Books“. I ended up checking the collection of photos on the site: some bizarre, some creepy, all reminders of what writer Kenneth Goldsmith said as “the work of an army of invisible laborers—the Google hands.”

This made me reflect on the less apparent but equally present human element in everything we do. Our technology, despite how we use it as a tool to correct our “imperfections” and preserve it for posterity, is itself shaped by our aspirations, shortcomings, and limitations. How we process the world, and the solutions we make based on our observations, has, is, and will always be framed by our humanity.

From another perspective, these scans aren’t laughable flaws–they’re actually, at some level, wonderful. They remind me of the wabi-sabi worldview which celebrates the imperfect and the transient as beautiful. The concept of appreciating impermanence and change–which could mean not postponing our present joy for the promise of an ideal future, and understanding that things/circumstances are not always problems we need to fix–helps us acknowledge that there are moments when we need to review/contemplate the objects and instances around us according to their own merits/attributes.   

As we pressure ourselves to strive for higher ideals, it’s also cool to step back every once in a while to tell ourselves that hey, being human is not such a bad thing.  It is what it is; we are what we are.