Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Heart Pendant

Most human interactions that I see now are very parasitic in my opinion. Don't get me wrong. I do my best not to be cynical about people. I place a wide curtain of giving them the benefit of the doubt to the point of falling into the deep well of naivity. Then I surprise myself, yet again, for being presented with the fact that most do not see the world through the conscientious mirror I am trying to view humanity.

I just want to put this out there though, I am not the conscientious queen and at the very least, I do not aim to be. Someone once said about me on social media, "You acted like you're a saint, turns out you're a freaking whore." (Total extremist, I do not even know how to flirt. Review your vocab girl!)  I did not ask people to place a halo above my head. I am just like every other normal person who tries to act out of love and when others abuse it, I act out of anger. Human enough I must say. 

I know how selfish I can be and that is something that I might have to work on for the rest of my current lifetime. What I am good at is self evaluation. So people who don't,  bugs me. But this is a world with varying perspectives. We ask ourselves to give out good, even if that's offering a friend a chocolate bar without the hidden motives of gaining trust so we can use it upon our advantage. God, when did people start to see the world as a board game made up of strategies? Maybe that's why I never bothered to learn chess. (No offense, you chess players are geniuses.)

We have the unconscious inclination of persuading others to carry their hearts on their sleeves as well, but that aint possible. That idiom is even viewed on a negative light. This world asks you to toughen up your game if you want to emerge the victor. My nervous system isn't wired to compete though. I do enjoy the endorphin spikes of winning. But I get stressed out overtime. Trying to make a point, as I am writing this, is already draining me. 

This is a hard pill to swallow because you want YOU and everything else to be just as you envision them in your head.

Let it pass. 

Let it go. 

You aint perfect, so is the rest of the world.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Bullet Journal

  • These are very obvious but you need a reminder so here they are:

  • Three cups of hot tea won't win over a 3 degree celsius winter but it can keep you warm, for a while.

  • People leave, honey. The number of people leaving is unbearable. Now come on and give yourself a tight hug.






  • Don't stash away that coat and warmers just yet because the cold just had a rest and you'll have to rummage that luggage like a maniac because you'll freeze. It isn't over.

  • There's nothing more romantic than your fluffy purple blanket and Patrick star to go home to.

  • It's normal to keep many photos of yourself. Vanity is self love if done the right way. 

  • Most of the time, you're just hungry and the world isn't ending. Keep calm and have your cup of rice.

  • Things don't go according to plan. People may unexpectedly leave on the first quarter of the year. One year can drop into one month over a single phone call. It will suck big time. But you should be okay. You have to.

  • It's okay to overdose on vitamin C because a flu is evil. Or maybe not.

  • Don't be afraid to starve. Stop buying too many frozen chicken thighs because they will make you vomit in the long run. Eat more tofu. Your health is more important than umami.

    • I know kamote leaves and kangkong are insanely expensive. But treat yourself little farm girl. Comfort food is comfort food. You deserve it.

    • You can freak out with your past life regression visions. But remember your imagination is mostly as wild as your heart and Katherina can be just that, a medieval by product of your neurosis and loneliness.

    • If you have to write another goal on paper, please make sure you've got guts and discipline to go with it. Or you might as well burn them. Remember procastination back in college? It only lead to anxious and sleepless nights. You don't want that.

    • Please, please, please. For the love of god. Keep your debit card safely locked in your cabinet and if you must, throw away the key! Forget it even exists. 

    • Who needs facebook and instagram again? I am super proud of you! 

    • That Chinese astrology website has some serious shit in it. It was on point for 2016 and 2017 doesn't look too pretty. Do your best to triumph over those planets, moon and inauspicious stars they're talking about. Cheesy advice coming.... be brave. 

    • The language barrier dries out the empathy from you and it shouldn't. It takes hard work to put your heart into something you can't even understand on a lyrical level. Still, hard work pays off. Just try harder.

    • Perfume makes you sick. Stick with two sprays. You smell fine.

    • You have weak lungs so stop trying to be a badass because cigarette kills. Read the labels.

    • You paid 35 riyals for that yoga mat so please do something on it. A super awkward downward dog is acceptable miss newbie yogi.

    • Your temper is very erratic. It's not really nice but it doesn't make you a bad person. Continue working on it but stop the self blame. Take all in.




    Thursday, January 12, 2017

    Life letters from my smartphone

    I am not a "how are you", "i am fine" and "what are you eating?" kind of conversationalist these days. I have gone far from the meaningless texting spree phase I had back in highschool. I get into trouble with facebook's "seen" feature because I just cannot maintain a non stop convo for more than 15 minutes. But I am thankful for this kind of conversation that I have with my bestfriends. We can go for a month without talking and a single well thought of message can set the light. 

    October 13, 2016, 5:30pm

    Dearest Ronida,

    Im typing this letter while making bantay for jeep for work at 10 pm. Im sorry I havent reached out yesterday like I said I would. I admit it flew over my head with a lot of other things going on. Hehe.

    Im trying to train for milo marathon although Im not really after the marathon because Im too weak still for that. Ive always loved to runnnnn... sometimes from the reality. Haha.

    Know what? I think I may be over him. Im finally realizing that he may not be the same person I loved... Haha. So after two years, here I am, moving on from a crush. 😆 

    My vegetarian diet has reached the six-month mark this Sept 29, but yesterday I cheated with the softest chicken empanada. But the chicken was so minute I think I can forgive myself. 

    Im still not sure where my life is going. But Im more nervous for the country under Duterte's communism inclinations than for myself. I dont know if that's a good or a bad things.

    I guess that's it. How have you been? Do write back when you get the time.

    Your soul sister

    October 13, 2016, 8:07pm

    Dear Soul sister,

    I am honestly thrilled to receive this letter. I am currently waiting while my doctora talks to a Pakistani patient about his teeth. The language barrier and an irritating patient is really a problem. My doctora is already impatient.

    My roommate is celebrating her birthday today. I cooked chicken sisig for the first time and I am hoping it's edible. I also made brownies but it didn't turn out well. So I just rolled it into small chocolate balls and now i think they're better. We'll be eating later at 11pm over here. Too many good foods but I'll have to eat in moderation because of tummy issues.

    And guess what, we'll visit the desert for the first time tomorow! They call it the redsand. We might go into the hidden valley as well. Finally, I'll be meeting Mr. Desert. I need the comfort of nature and the dry sand is way way better than this concrete environment that I've been in for 7 months.

    I dont get bloated that much these days. I googled and I'm thinking I might have a fungal infection in my gut. I've been cutting down my sugar and carbohydrate intake and I think it's working. My bilirubin is now normal. But I am losing alot of weight. I am now down to 47.5kg from 50 in 2 weeks. 😞 I still cant go in the same route as you. Veganism is hard if you don't have a solid foundation for doing it I guess.

    Regarding him, I'm doing good. The negative emotions are slowly leaving me. I am currently thankful for everything that has happened. 

    I am glad you're in the process of moving on from yours. It is a hard road but you'll get there. I think the perfect formula (though there's really no perfect in any sense) to move on from someone is the choice to actually start the journey, the drive to live in the present and a passionate dream to occupy the emptiness in our hearts left by the people we once loved. We'll have to sprinkle some love along the way too. For someone once told me, our hearts is such a beautiful vessel to carry anything ugly. 



    So much love, 

    Ronida


    October 19, 2016, 11:00am

    Dearest Ronida,

    Forgive me for taking too long to respond. I've been caught up with a lot of things: hospital work, mountains, peer pressure, jogging, volunteering, and a new online job. But all of these endeavors feel like there's no sense of direction in my life still. 

    I am so happy you finally met Mr Desert! Still waiting for that essay. Hahaha. Gosh. How intoxicating it must be to be in a place sooo old and teeming with everything but appears empty, just as Paulo Coelho put it in much better word combinations in The Alchemist. 

    It's always refreshing to hear about your cooking adventures. I like to think you have gone very far from that girl who deleted her instagram account just because she felt her cooking was insulted. Hahaha.

    Please dont judge me but these days I feel sad because boys dont approach me because they find me weird. Some do... Initially. Then I start talking. Then I can slowly see the interest die away like my obsessive infatuation with "him". Hahaha. That reasoning hasnt been verified yet but that's just my guess. Some days I feel like I hate this weirdness and I know I shouldnt because we should be able to hold on to what makes us who we are so when people leave, we can still see our worth and love ourselves. On these notice-me-senpai days I understand your misery with "him" even better and I wish he trips or bites his tongue wherever he may be. These thoughts sadden me. If mother was here, maybe she will laugh, congratulate me for being a girl (finally), and offer some advice.

    It gives so much hope and calmness to think that someday we can work together in Ireland where hills are rolling green and I have you to calm my nerves and cook weird but yummy stuff and maybe snag some nice Irish boys, too. Lol. Omg I sound like nakatlan. I may be ovulating these days. Pardon the female. 

    Duterte is selling us to China. How do you get news about PH? 

    Cheers Ronida! Flip that crazy, pretty hair!

    Sitting at our Molo Plaza,
    Your soul sister

    October 21, 2016, 1:10pm

    Dearest Soul sister,

    I just want to tell you how these letters never fail to make me genuinely happy. The past few days were filled with forced smiles and a lot of unnecessary worrying, probably why I haven't gotten the energy to make a response. Pardon the delay of my letter.

    After what happened with "him", all I did was laugh about it and insert some well deserved fuck yous in between my thoughts of him. However, I know that I was hurt and was worried why I haven't done anything with that pain. I needed to cry but I forced myself to be brave and masked my vulnerability with 30 minutes to 1 hour unpaid overtime at work, washing other people's dirty dishes and doing my laundry every two days when I used to do it once a week. I thought I needed to be busy and physically exhausted to shut off the questions and drama in my head. But eventually, 2 nights ago after reading tons of thoughcatalog articles, I made peace with "him" (in a made up convo) and all the unanswered questions I had related to "us". It was a good and long cry and I felt so much better after. 

    You are not nakatlan. It is perfectly normal to desire to be with someone or to be chosen or to be adored. We all want that. I also think that not being loved for our unique "beauty" encased in an intricate weirdness is much painful than plain rejection. This may sound very conceited. But yes, it takes a lot of guts, energy and wisdom from the other person to look beyond our kind I guess. But I am also thinking, Brene Brown once said that those who experience love and belonging simply do one thing, they believe they are worthy of love and belonging. So maybe that's the part where we should look into?   

    I can't wait for our Ireland living too! But these days, I am trying to live in the moment AKA seeing all the perks of my still almost two year stay here in the kingdom. I found out that that lessens my sadness immensely. A friend often talks to me too about missing our unicorn convo and escapades and I do too. But then, I realized that wanting things that are out of our present reality only contributes into a series of depression. Que sera sera, what ever will be, will be. 

    I am in a habit of ligthing a candle and staring at our gratitude rock before sleeping and right after waking up. I talk to god and the universe often these days and that calms me. 

    May all love and peace be with you second wave sister,

    Ronida

    Ps. I'll get back on my feet and sane thinking and will write that desert essay ASAP. It deserves my unwavering creative spirit which I'm still recharging as of the moment. Thank you for your patience.

    Saturday, December 24, 2016

    The 25th

    It is my third Christmas away from home and my first abroad. This time is certainly different than the many Yuletide seasons I had back home where colorful lights and merry songs envelope the atmosphere. I promised myself to stay away from the blues if that is possible, as loneliness is often times an involuntary reflex especially in this season. 


    In 15 minutes, it's Christmas back home. Over here, we have to wait for 5 more hours given the time difference. I tried calling my parents in between my duty breaks but they are either already fast asleep or the phone is somewhere deep in the woods for no one answered my calls. This is probably what my mother felt for decades as she celebrated special occasions in other countries. I feel like a real adult now, save my many immature choices, for having to deal with this OFW heartache. If adulthood is about sacrifice, I feel very legit.


    We should go saying "happy birthday Jesus!" but because I am not super religious and it is said that the 25th isn't exactly the great guy's birth date plus we are in "the kingdom" that believes in a separate man up there, we can't go around greeting everyone a merry Christmas unless we want to attend the next public lashing.  We have to hide the physical symbols of our merriness for let's say, safety reasons. 

    I grew up in a town that's been tagged as the "Christmas capital of Western Visayas" and I spent most of my holidays eating puto bumbong and playing the roleta while Jose Marie Chan's carols were played in the background. For the first time ever, I will celebrate the 25th without the spirit that I have always loved and cherished.  


    But we are doing our best. Maybe Christmas isn't really a date in the calendar or the flickering lights dangling on chopped or synthetic pine trees. Maybe Christmas is something we have to look for from within because however cheesy it may sound, this day is for  the celebration of love. And love does come everywhere regardless of your GPS location or the god you believe in.  May our lives be filled with love, have a merry Christmas! ❤

    Tuesday, November 22, 2016

    My invincibility cloak


    When I was a child, I had a phase when I thought I was never going to die and nothing tragic would ever fall upon me. I then later learned in psychiatric nursing that it is actually a part of a social development.  I watched gruesome news on TV about people dying and heard stories of a relative or a family friend battling debilitating diseases but I had not thought of those ever happening to me.

    I felt extremely invincible.

    You are supposed to outgrow putting yourself in a pedestal of strength and invulnerability. In some degree, I did.



    Through the years, I haven't engaged myself to romance saved the many crushes I had from highschool and college. My romantic affairs were fairly limited to unrequited puppy love and a series of daydreams. I did have my heartbroken several times by crushes that never talked to me or denied my friend requests on facebook (stalker alert). But I had always comforted myself with the idea that the rejection was to be foreseen as they haven't known the real me and had they been able to just give me a chance to prove myself, they'll see beyond my curly hair and dark skin and will eventually realize that I'm a good catch, a weirdo with her Jurassic sense of humor. But until then, they will continue to see me superficially as my "love affairs" with them were limited to my creepy glances and fake group messages just so I can talk to them.

    I thought I was also invincible in a real heartbreak.

    Then I had my first real heartbreak.  Someone still broke my heart despite knowing the real me and even after I tried to prove myself. Then another heartbreak followed.  I was confident that they have seen beyond my curly hair and dark skin and that they have realized that I was a good catch. I thought they were okay despite me being a weirdo showering them with my eccentricity. But invincibility does not shield you from pain, it makes it cut even deeper.

    I learned about vulnerability in the most humane way. The ache was too real and I slowly went down the pedestal.




    Thursday, November 10, 2016

    Mirror, mirror on the wall

    As a budding human being, I used to own a set of cassette tapes and a song book entitled “Most loved children’s songs”. It was gifted to me by my mother with the hopes that she could raise her little girl into a talented and charming lady who can sing. I almost memorized every song as I played the tape nonstop. I belted “Mary had a little lamb” and “The greatest love of all” like a pro. For a while, I honestly thought I was a good singer. Not until my seatmate in second grade had to shut me up while I was in the middle of a singing spree. She deliberately told me that I suck in singing and that she was annoyed that she had to put up with my irksome voice the whole semester. I thought she was just being mean. I went home and told my father about it and was disappointed with his confirmation that yes, I was (and still am) really bad at singing. This made me question myself, “Am I really capable of anything?”

    We started in this life with positive ideas of who we are. Our first knowledge about ourselves was based on an internal radar that was programmed by our brain way before it got affected by external factors. Before social standards, culture and familial affairs directed our path, we all have a state of oneness that for me, was the most genuine form of peace that we so often chase as adults. We started seeing the world as labels. These labels then turned into divisions. These divisions became the pioneer for organized living but also became the building blocks for hierarchy and stereotypes.



    (photo taken from Anna Akana's instagram account)


    I first learned about how I looked way before I even learned how to look at myself in the mirror.  I was told that my hair was a mess and considered less of a hair because it was kinky. And by the standards set by the culture where I was growing up, kinky and straight hair do not belong under one category. They are both keratin growing in our heads but they are not the same. Fair skin and brown skin are also surprisingly, grouped in two different sectors based on the beauty standards that were mostly influenced by Western colonization and plain racism. My parents did their best to shower me with love but I eventually had to say hello to the outside world. So in kindergarten, I learned I was a brown girl with a kinky hair and that there were other kinds of girls with other kinds of hair and we are different. The difference was harmless before it was set as a tool for separation.

    From childhood, we were slowly being wired to see things as group A, group B and group “whatever we would like to label things and people”. We begin to see ourselves through a vaguely tinted glass mirror. Things even became harder when we not only hear people telling us of who we are but we also have the media reminding us through every magazine and TV show that we are just “this” and we have to put on some of that matte lipstick and wear that top of the line shirt to turn into a decent mortal.

    We are social creatures that thrive with every human encounter. We gain strength and wisdom from every conversation and acknowledgement that we get. Our hearts, however, our also fragile and extremely vulnerable for isolation, insecurity, comparison and self-doubt brought about by these encounters. We will inevitably feel inferior in this world that is built to make us question who we are. That is why it is important to be introspective. There is a reason why solitude and meditation are valued from the beginning of time. It directs us back to that oneness that we once had. It makes us see who we really are beyond the elusive tinted mirrors that were handed to us. Because with peace and love, there are no “this” and “that”. There are no unnecessary labels that will make us question ourselves and no markers set to divide humanity.


    Saturday, November 5, 2016

    Random Facts About Saudi Arabia

    If you plan on working in Saudi Arabia, here are some random facts you should know about the Kingdom.

      1.  It’s not entirely a desert.

    When my mother was working in Saudi in the 90s and early 2000s, I have this idea that the hospital she was at was surrounded with dry land. I know that there were buildings and asphalted roads. However, I thought that when you look just a bit farther away, the desert would be visible. No. You will need to travel an hour or more to see the “sand”. I haven’t been to any other places outside my current city which is Riyadh. In here, you’ll be surrounded with high-rise buildings if you are located in the metropolitan area.

     2.  There’s an abundance of seafood.

    The first question I asked my mother when I finally decided to work in Saudi was, “Will there be bangus (milkfish) over there?” Mama just laughed and told me Saudi bangus can get 50% bigger than the usual bangus we often buy in our town. There are lots of seafoods and I don’t know what the Arab water has but they’re ginormous.

     3.  You’ll eat chicken most days

    When I was fetched from the airport, our Indian driver made a stopover in a local fast-food and ordered two broasted chicken. I haven’t heard of the term broasted before but it’s popular here. It’s basically just fried chicken. Filipinos also love to order “faham” or grilled chicken partnered with spiced yellow rice. My grocery also includes four to five whole chickens each month. The chicken industry wins.


     4.  There is winter

    I arrived during the last week of February. On my first few weeks, I have to wear a  sweatshirt because it’s too cold. Winter was ending at that time. This month, winter is  starting again and I was told the cold is unbearable. It may not be as cold as the ones they  have in Europe and America but hey, I thought I was working in the desert. They said that  you’ll meet people in the streets covered with comforters. Talk about fashion.

     5.  Everyone looks the same most of the time

    This is very obvious. You will mostly see black ladies. (Belated happy Halloween!) Every woman, even the non-Muslim has to wear an abaya (a black cloak) and a hijab (head cover up) at least. Most Muslim women though would wear a niqab so you’ll only see their eyes. The Muslim men wear thawb which is a long-sleeve dress that’s usually white. You’ll only see expatriates and a few Muslim men wearing civilian clothing.




    There are lots of other interesting things that you should know about this country. But it’s already 5 am as I am typing this so I might just make another list when my eyes are not half way closed.


    Tuesday, November 1, 2016

    Horse With No Name

    I went to the desert in a horse with no name… song keeps playing in my head. But yes, I went to the desert a few weeks ago.




    I was planning to write about it but life got in the way. (“Got in the way” means my mind got in the way. My life is not that eventful considering my once every two weeks trip to the Filipino market is already considered as a mini getaway these days.) I've first seen the desert through movies like the gods must be crazy and the disturbing yet very eye opening Book of Eli. The nonexistence of almost anything other than rocks and a few plants is ironically, very nourishing to the soul.

    However, for years, I’ve loved the endorphin spikes I get in living the “human” life in the heart of the cities that I’ve been. From grabbing a cab, finishing a bowl of instant ramen in 7 eleven, battling their way into the overcrowded train, strutting in their well-pressed shirts to prepare for that job interview that took them four long years in the university to get qualified for- everybody looks like they’re in there for something. Everybody looks like they’re fighting too hard for their dreams. Everybody makes it seem like life is this 10 mile marathon that you have to take as soon as you hear that gunshot that says, run!

    That is probably why humanity finds relief in the presence of nature. We think that going out of town is an escape from the life that we imposed on  ourselves. So what we do is schedule regular trips to dip in the ocean, to hike the mountain, to thread the desert or to just be anywhere where trees exceed buildings in number. I have not yet found the best way to live my life so I certainly do not think that leaving the city to be a hipster is the better course to follow. But what I do know is that the human heart is happier and more at peace with its self in the presence of Earth in its natural form than it will ever be inside a concrete building.

    I have never excelled in science and have not studied anthropology. But I have lots of questions about everything. I am a lazy ass and not too smart to go digging in my educational books for answers. What I often do though is stare blankly while a hurricane occurs in my brain every minute or two. I have so many disturbing questions that if asked to my parents or teachers or friends, would warrant me an admission to a psych ward or abomination from the tiny circle of friends that I have carefully crafted through the years.

    I have read and heard about those who probably have the same unanswered questions as me but have found the courage to look for answers or to at least, accept that there are several possible ways to solve the equation and they just have to stick to the ones that give their heart its needed comfort.

    I was meant to write about the desert. But the desert is too wide and mysterious that its scope goes beyond its physical stature. If I’m supposed to tell you one thing about the desert, it would be this- you’ll sit on a patch of sand and you’ll get to meet life. 






    Friday, October 7, 2016

    Flight Number 5J 740



    Last February 28, 2016, I was in an economy flight with Cebu Pacific bound for King Khaled International Airport.

    But before that, I had some issues (sensitive details) with my agency that made me rethink my decision of leaving Philippines. So on the night before my flight bound for Saudi Arabia, I was scared out of my wits. I spent the entire night on my phone googling the place of my employment (google is my bestfriend) and the contact details of the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh and reading tons of blogs about the life in the kingdom. 

    I was afraid that I'll get lost in the airport and some psychopath will hide me away from the rest of the world. I was afraid that I might make a silly joke because I always do or I might act as my normal crazy self and Arabs will get offended and I'll get convicted with a thousand lashes. I was afraid that I'll terribly miss Philippines and I'll go nuts out of depression because for starters, I was already extremely dramatic despite the amazing tropical weather at home. What if everything changes (because I know it will)?

    I told my father that I want to cancel my flight.

    He said, "You've been so dauntless your entire life almost to a point of being reckless and now you want to back out? Put your phone down and stop reading things that disturb your peace of mind. Take a rest." 

    That shut me up. 

    A year before I decided to go abroad, almost every nurse acquaintance that I knew was flying to Europe. United Kingdom and Ireland turned into this massive creamy chocolate cake that became too irresistable to almost half of my batchmates, friends and myself included. I badly wanted to take my own slice from it. However, just like in real life, artisan goods are in the pricey side so I have to delay it for a bit. And by a bit, that meant a 2 year contract in the Middle East so I can save up some Euros or Riyals if you prefer. 

    Seven months here but I do not know where all my Riyals went (my mom's healthcare and chocolates, lots of) but I am definitely saving up crazy memories and a bunch of lessons out of my neurotic life choices. I thought Saudi life is boring. But four months before my first anniversary over here and I have already gone through one hell of a ride. 

    I still get lonely often. I love long walks and random escapades which I can't do here as much as I want to. I miss wandering endlessly on unknown streets. I miss fishball and isaw. I miss the talaba (oyster), pantat (catfish) and liempo combo at Matmat's in Villa, Arevalo. I miss going back and forth Esplanade despite the awful mangrove smell. I miss randomly meeting a friend at SM City. I miss sticking my face out of a jeepney during windy rides back home. I miss midnight trips to 7/11 or Ministop for a bottle of San Miguel Light while eating Angel's burger. I miss the tall talahib grasses that dance outside my bedroom's window on windy afternoons. I miss how my mama wakes me up at 11am during my days off to eat the brunch she lovingly made for me and I miss how grumpy I get being woken up because I was such a brat. 

    I miss knowing that those I love are just a 25 peso ride at maximum away from me. I miss how my greatest struggle to see the ones I love was just battling people to get into the next empty jeepney on rainy nights. 

    I hated rainy nights when I was heading home, but now, to go home means waiting for two years to get an exit visa. Seeing those I love meant a 10 hour international flight and a completed two year contract.

    Our lives here in the kingdom revolve mostly around our workplace and our apartment. There are days when I am not aware of what date it is because everyday is monotonous. And if you know me really well, I dislike monotomy. 

    However, monotomy pushes me to see the day beyond being just an 8 hour shift. My senses get stronger and my heart gets a bit bigger. A kind word from a madame (married female) or from an aku (Arab male) or from a sadik (Pakistani for friend) brigthens my day immensely. A hug and a bosa (kiss) from a 4 year old Syrian or Pakistani makes my heart swell ten times bigger than it used to be. A meek smile and a gentle tap at the back from mama (a grandmother) reminds me of the kindness we all can offer to everyone. 

    I get to spend most of my days talking to my Filipina housemates who are from different backgrounds. It's like a psychology immersion. I am used to being alone so spending my time with the same people for almost 24 hours everyday is a good way to fuel my social skills. I am obliged to deal with my issues and to look into them on a daily basis because I realized I still have a lot of growing up to do at 25.

    I am actually on a two year retreat and Middle Eastern trip. I am getting paid for it. Bonus is I'm doing what I love- nursing.

    Also, not everyone has the chance to set foot on the desert. You don't get to learn Arabic everyday. That's a plus one on my resume.  "Can speak English, Hiligaynon, Filipino and a mix of baroque Arabic and Pushto (Afghan/Pakistani)". Not every female gets to try the elegance of an Abaya (black cover up) partnered with a hijab (head scarf). I tell you, that shawarma and kebab you had in your local restaurant are nothing compared to the ones they have over here, fully loaded with carbs and meat. They go overboard here. Eat at your own risk.

    I have always been wrong on my first impressions. The kingdom is different than the rest of the world but it is truly a beautiful country. The kind of beauty that can only be seen once you learn its culture and live with its people. 



    Wednesday, October 5, 2016

    My Gut Feels


    During my entire summer vacation last 2002 or maybe 2001 (I am really bad with details),
     I remember going on regular afternoon trips with my bestfriend to a tyange (a small store) in our subdivision. As soon as the sun gets a bit toned down and it's safe to venture the streets without burning under the summer heat, 
    we, two skinny schoolgirls, would excitedly run to buy our favorite summer merienda- 
    1 pack of salted and MSG loaded chips and a bottle of cold Pepsi each. 
    We did this routine without fail for more than a month. 

    On that same summer,
     my aunt bought a dozen instant pancit canton and laid it neatly on the dining table. I remember how I stayed hidden behind the kitchen door and waited until the scene was clear before I run and hurriedly ripped open each of the 12 pack, took the MSG seasoning, all 12 of them and run towards the veranda where I snacked on them for the rest of the afternoon.
     It was a delicious, savory, completely artificial yet pure MSG buffet for me. 
    12 sachets of bliss. 





    Imagine my family's horror when they found out that they'll be forced to eat a dozen of pancit canton with just salt and soysauce.

    Still on that same 2001 or 2002 summer,
     a week before my maybe 10th or 11th birthday (details, ughhh), we went to Aklan for a scheduled Boracay birthday gift from my aunt.

     Days before the Boracay trip,
     I woke up in the middle of the night with unexplainable stomach cramps and a demented series of vomiting where I got hold of every furniture in my grandpa's house, crying and asking for a miracle. 
    Aklan was quiet and too rural back then and that meant no public transportation at 12 midnight (we don't own a car) so my aunt had to literally drag a limping, vomiting, wailing and probably hallucinating teenage girl to the nearest hospital. 
    After several needle pricks and basins of puke,
     I was diagnosed with Acute Gastritis. 

    I had several stomach issues thereafter. Occassionally, I would suffer from watery stools or bloating but nothing too serious. However, just last year, I noticed that I got bloated too often. The attacks were bothersome especially when they happen while I was still on duty in the hospital.  

    Hunger + stress + physical exhaustion + emotional chaos + BLOATING, I tell you, equates to a very unique kind of disaster.

    The bloating comes and goes. 
    But when it does come, I can't live properly. 
    I can't breathe like a normal human with a functional pair of lungs and a diaphragm because everything inside my tummy gets poked by a huge air and it feels like I am about to give birth to a giant hot air balloon. 
    I have to forcefully make myself gag with a tounge depressor or my tooth brush just to push that ball of air out of my mouth. It is exhausting. 

    Then I had tumor and gallbladder stone scare because my signs and symptoms seem to suggest that. Thankfully, the ultrasound turned out negative. But it got more frustrating. What is wrong with me then? My bilirubin is 12 times elevated than normal but all of my other laboratories are okay. 

    Currently, I am hypochondriac. 
    I am thinking I might have IBS or a fungal infection in my gut (thanks google for being my internist this time). I am going to jump into a strict antifungal diet of no sugar or carbohydrates and let's see if it will work. Stool gets tested tomorrow.
     Crappy gut, please get well soon.
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