Forgiveness

There are three types of people in my Facebook feed now: you have the Pokemon Go addicts who keep posting about their whereabouts and what type of Pokemon they caught there, you have people opposing the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, and then you have people who are so gung-ho on letting it happen for whatever reason.

If you’re thinking that this is one of those intellectual blogs loaded with highfalutin words carefully written to convince you to choose a side (pro or con) regarding the issue, I am so sorry to disappoint you. My intention for writing this blog is to help me understand myself in the hopes that by writing this entry, I’ll be able to free up some space in my ever thinking brain.

Yes, I think too much and I keep having random conversations with myself. Just like the ever reliable USB, my mental bank also reaches the “memory full” status and there are things I need to delete. Or unload. Or write.

Ergo.

The past days, I’ve been trying to process thoughts about my own sense of justice. See, I grew up with the mentality that if you do something wrong, you need to apologize. That if someone offends you or hurts you, that person should apologize too. However, as I grew up, I learned that there are people who won’t acknowledge their mistakes, won’t apologize, and will continue to live their lives as if nothing happened. If they do apologize, it won’t be sincere. It’ll just sound like one of those scripted hello’s that you say to someone who says hi to you. More of an obligation and not enough heart, I must say.

It still amazes me up to this day.

Unfortunately, encounters with these people awakened my sense of justice. It began to raise questions like… how dare this person enjoy his life despite him being a bad person? Or… how come she has the gall to do this and that after what she did to my friend? These thoughts can go on for days and believe me, I’ve tried to mentally switch roles and see things from the POV of the “bad person” and I only ended up with a migraine.

In a world where people can easily kill other people, I’ve struggled with keeping quiet and just lifting everything to the cosmos. Yes, I’ll admit that at some point I’ve thought of putting justice into my own hands and pointing the gun at someone but my conscience would always stop me. What good will it do anyway? It won’t contribute to the betterment of the economy, and nope, it won’t change anything. Well, fine, except for the instant “murderer” tag on that clean record.

I’ve been told that there is a power bigger than all of my problems combined and for the past years, I’ve relied on that Higher Being. Understanding that justice is not and never will be in my hands does drive me insane, especially since I’d get hit with a belt or a shoe back when my younger self had the guts to say that I have zero plans of saying sorry.

During one of my art sessions, I was told that God/the Universe (depends on your belief, really but I happen to believe in both) sees everything that we do. Good things, bad things, never go unnoticed and for some reason I’ve taken comfort in that. I’ve feared it as well for reasons I choose to keep to myself. My wise therapist also told me that at the end of the day, it’s not about asking someone to apologize because you’ll probably be lying on your death bed and that apology still won’t come. Instead, it’s about being the bigger person and freeing yourself from the burden of being affected by that person’s actions. What’s important is you forgive because you WANT to and not because society wants you to. Come on there are so many things that we do for society, isn’t it time that we finally do things for ourselves?

Forgiving someone who does not even know how to apologize is hard, I know. I’ve spent surf sessions, game nights, review sessions, movie sessions, etc. with a total douchejerk and believe me, he had the gall to look at me straight in the eye as if he didn’t do anything to hurt me. So yeah, to pretend things are fine is difficult and it’s a process that may or may not take forever. What I do know is that you can cut ties and shift your focus back to yourself.

Forgiving does not mean losing. Instead, it means winning and while the process is long and painful, it’s something that needs to be done if you want to live fully. You win by choosing you. No one else but you.

Yup. That’s it I guess. Ah, that feels great.

I do have nights like this and to think part of my brain was happily singing “Like A Virgin” while the other part was processing things. Amazing. Back to work!

Breta

As I type this, I’m literally feeling a huge lump in my throat and a void in my chest. It sounds so dramatic and I planned on NOT writing about this here for fear of being judged but ugh, who cares? This is how I process things so I really need to write.

I just returned Breta to her owner and I’m not supposed to feel anything since she’s not my dog in the first place but here I am, writing a blog about a 3 y/o beagle who spent the past seven days with us.

Seven beautiful days. It feels like a dream.

Perhaps going back to day one will help me understand where this weird feeling of emptiness is coming from. People say we need to forget the past in order to move on but for me, I believe that we need to understand the past so we are better prepared for whatever it is that’s on our way. I’d rather acknowledge and understand than forget.

It all started two weeks ago when I received a text from Marina. She was asking if they can bring their beagle, Breta to our house. They learned about Marley’s good genes and they were wondering if the two beagles can mate. I thought of it as an answered prayer since I’ve been wanting to find a partner for Marley so I said yes. A couple of days later, Marley and I finally met Marina and Breta. After a short conversation with Marina, I was left with two beagles: a shy Breta on my left and a giddy Marley on my right.

I remember feeling a bit annoyed at first because I had so many things to do. There were articles that had to be written, crafts that needed to be finished, plus some more errands but despite my annoyance, I found myself checking on Breta every now and then. Marley immediately attempted to do what he was supposed to do but Breta just wanted to sit down and familiarize herself with the new environment.

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Seeing double | Canon 550D

Knowing that I easily get attached to people, animals, events, whatever, I kept a safe distance from Breta. I’d feed her when needed, clean her wounds and play with her for a bit but I remained distant. As days passed however, Breta showed some similarities with Roxy. That’s when that familiar area in my chest started to hurt again.

Their barks sound the same. Plus, Breta also does the little things that Roxy used to do. She’d put both front paws on my knee whenever I approach her, or she’d put both her paws on Marley’s back as he walks around the house, and she’d stick her head inside the hole on our door to see if we’re cooking food. It was bittersweet. Think of it as… still trying to be friends with the dingbat who broke your heart. No matter how much you want to break the person’s neck, you need to take the high road, stay classy, and be civil. That sounded a bit morbid but yeah, having Breta around was like that. I didn’t want to break her neck though. I just didn’t want to be overwhelmed by all of the similarities I was seeing, but I had a job to do.

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I finally decided to take down my walls of defense. I began to appreciate Breta’s presence because having her around reminded me of how things were when Roxy was still with us. I went back to feeding and playing with two beagles. Mornings once again meant receiving greetings from two happy beagles, both wagging their tales. For a brief moment, it felt like Roxy was with us once again. Everything felt right once again.

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It was fun, but then this day came. I already knew the fantasy would end at some point, and as much as I want to keep it going, I’ll have to give in and press ‘STOP’. I kept checking on Breta last night, and she was extra cuddly. Her feet were sore from stalking me all morning and I felt bad. I guess that’s how dogs are when they know they’ll be leaving soon : they stalk you, and they stare at you for a long time, as if trying to memorize every single detail.

I was bawling my eyes out hours before Marina and the owner came by for Breta. Part of me didn’t want to let go but part of me also knew that it had to be done. I managed to squeeze in a few minutes with Breta before finally bringing her downstairs. I thanked her for being with us and for allowing us to relive what life was like when there were two beagles in our house, and for doing antics that made us laugh.

Roxy, if that was your doing, tuso ka talaga. I know you would have wanted to say goodbye properly but God had other plans. If that was your way of saying goodbye, of helping me deal with the pain of losing you, of telling me that you are in good hands and that you are no longer in pain, thank you. I felt your presence, and it was a joy having you around once again. In four days you would have been a whole year older and I will blog once again on that day. For now, I’ll have to deal with missing you every single day, reliving all of our happy memories, and looking forward to that time when I’ll get to hug you once again.

To Breta’s owners, thank you. My heart is filled to the brim. Until we meet again.

Morning Routine

These days, I spend the first two hours of each morning at the garden. My mom once told me that everything looks so serene at 5:00 in the morning and after finally having the strength to wake up that early, I had to agree.

Our garden is usually a blend of colors but at 5:00 in the morning, everything looks like it’s desaturated and under a blue filter with an opacity of approximately 25%. It’s not the depressing kind of blue. Rather, it’s the kind of blue that makes you want to sit back and enjoy your cup of hot tea and patiently wait for the sun to show up.

I recently took on the responsibility of looking after my mom’s Echeveria collection and I’ve been trying to apply the things I learned from various articles online. I wasn’t born with a green thumb, but taking on this project is such a huge responsibility so I try to lessen the casualties as much as possible. I make it a point to water them once a week, give them enough sun, and make sure they are healthy. The Echeverias are looking fine, so far. As a matter of fact, I noticed some mini Echeverias this morning:

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Pups also started to appear in some of our cacti. It takes so much time and effort to nurture these plants that’s why my mom and I were thrilled when we saw the teeny tiny versions of our cacti and succulents.

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Yellow Mandala | Canon 550D

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Grafted Gymnocalycium mihanovichii | Canon 550D

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I usually spend the whole two hours at what I call the “propagation station” and monitor the progress of the herb cuttings and some of the succulents. Majority of the first batch of herb cuttings I planted during my grandfather’s birthday died so I tried use a different technique in propagating the second batch of cuttings.

It’s a nice break from all the articles I’ve been writing and crafts I’ve been doing. I have to admit though, there are days when I feel extra impatient. I understand that it takes some time for the plants to grow, but sometimes I can’t help but feel like it’s taking forever to see any progress. There are days, however, when I’m rewarded with blooms from our plants. I must say, seeing their beauty makes the whole waiting period worth it.

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The last picture is actually a Spearmint. I removed the flowers after taking the picture because according to some articles, the leaves begin to taste bitter once the flowers appear.

 

It’ll take a few more weeks for the pups and herb cuttings to grow into healthier and well, much older versions of themselves. Until then, we’ll have to continue our morning routine and take good care of every single one of these plants.

How about you? What’s your morning routine?

Wipeout

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Technically, this still falls under The Sunday Currently. The q&a will come back next week. For now, I just want to write about this wipeout.

I look graceful in the picture, don’t I? It’s like I’m expecting the pain but there’s no way out so I have to deal with it. This priceless moment was captured by my uncle during an epic sunset surf session in Dahican. I say epic because it’s the first time that I mustered up enough courage to catch waves that are taller than me. I’d usually freak out and bail, but Panggoy, a local surfer pushed me to commit. And I did.

I’m posting this picture because in a way, it’s similar to what’s currently happening in my life right now. You know when people tell you that there are highs and lows? Well, they forgot to tell you about how high the highs are, and how low the lows are. In my n years of existence, I’ve experienced highs that are probably higher than Mt. Everest, and lows… well, let’s just say I’ve experienced hitting rock bottom…and staying there for as long as I want. It’s not that I had no plans of rising up again, no. It’s just that when you hit rock bottom, you begin to lose hope. Of course inspirational books will tell you that you are stronger than your circumstances, but those are things that you already know and in all honesty, don’t need to hear when you’re struggling.

My wipeout on the photo looks nasty and yes, it WAS nasty. I swallowed a lot of salt water, the leash got tangled in my legs, and I experienced some cuts from the corals. However, despite that struggle, I went back on the board and paddled all the way to the lineup. I rode all the waves that came after that, and I believe that we should also apply that when we experience struggles in real life.

The first time I surfed, I only managed to kneel on the board. I was scared of falling. I was too conscious. The only time that I managed to stand on the board was when I decided to let go. Who cares if you fall off the board? Everyone falls off their boards at some point. Even the professional surfers fall. Wipeouts are inevitable.

I read somewhere that wiping out is an underappreciated skill and I agree, 100%. Wipeouts allow you to reflect on the things you did wrong and create a new strategy. There are things that you learn during a wipeout and more often than not, those are the things that stick. Not only do you discover a lot of things about yourself; you also become resilient.

Wipeouts are humbling and while I hate it when they happen, I also know that they come with lessons that need to be learned – both on land and in the water. You become stronger with each wipeout and that should mean something. We’ll keep experiencing wipe outs in our lives and the intensity will vary. Some, you can shrug off easily while some will push you down and make it impossible for you to breathe. You will want to give up at some point and those are the times when you shouldn’t.

When all is said and done, what matters more is that we get back on our boards and paddle once more.

Of Cranes and Dreamcatchers

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An Army of Cranes | Canon 550D

I learned last year that paper cranes symbolize peace, truth, good luck, longevity, and good health. I’ve been mesmerized ever since. According to Japenese tradition, anyone who has the commitment and the patience to fold a thousand cranes will receive their heart’s desire because they recreated the elegant bird’s beauty and loyalty. Legend has it that Sadako Sasaki, a girl with leukemia, attempted to fold one thousand paper cranes while she was in the hospital. Unfortunately, she died at the age of 12. Her family, friends, and classmates folded the remaining paper cranes for her – a true testament of what these paper cranes symbolize.

Now, let’s talk about dream catchers:

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Sweet Dreams | Canon 550D

I started collecting dream catchers back in 2005 when I was still living in Baguio City. They were sold at the stalls along Session Road and I’d buy from them whenever I had enough money. I remember leaving Baguio with 25 dream catchers, all in mint condition. More than the design, I was fascinated with the story of the dream catcher.

Legend has it that thousands of years ago, Iktomi – the great teacher of wisdom- appeared to a Lakota spiritual leader in the form of a spider. Using a sacred language, Iktomi told the Lakota elder about the cycles of life: our lives begin as infants and when we grow old, the younger generation will take care of us as infants which then completes the cycle. However, as we go through the different life cycles, we become exposed to good and bad forces which can steer is in the right or wrong direction. The dream catcher, according to Iktomi, will help the people reach their goals and dreams. It will catch all of the good dreams and ideas and travel all the way down to the sleeper underneath. The bad dreams will just go through the hole and perish once the sun rises. Inspired by the story, I started making my own dream catcher.

So… what’s the connection between the two?

I figured you’d be asking that by now. Well, two weeks ago, I kept my hands busy with folding paper cranes and weaving a big dream catcher. I planned on making a thousand paper cranes but since I didn’t have enough time, I decided on a different number. It took me two days to finish folding all of the paper cranes (and writing a short message inside each one) and weaving the dream catcher. My hands were dead tired, but since these handcrafted gifts are for someone special, I didn’t mind at all.

People usually think that expensive gifts are key to making someone happy. I believe otherwise. For me, what’s more important is the amount of work that you put into something. Like they say in the world of business, it’s all about the story.

Also, this labor of love is for someone who’s celebrating his birthday. Happy birthday!😉

 

 

 

 

Google My Business Workshop Seminar

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Google My Business Poster | (c) Avel Manasala

When you graduate from the university, you think that finally, you can stop studying and learning. Well, that thought is indeed inviting. However, once you begin to apply for jobs or work for offices/companies, you realize that it’s a different playing field. The rules have changed, and you need to keep up. You then go back to browsing articles online, learning what needs to be learned, and equipping yourself with the tools that you need to prepare you for your career.

Since I decided to take the leap of faith and become a social entrepreneur, I have to keep looking for resources, services, and tools to help me grow and manage my business. As a social enterprise that’s based in Cotabato City, it’s even more difficult to reach out to clients because of all the bad publicity. People usually think of Cotabato as a place of war and that’s definitely not the case. For quite some time, I’ve been thinking of ways to reach out to more people, I’m just fortunate that I was introduced to Mr. Avel Manansala of Google Business Groups – General Santos City.

He then invited me to attend the Google My Business Seminar Workshop which was held at STI College Gensan. Through the seminar, I learned about the different Google products that I can use for Eco Choices. It’s funny because I’ve been using the Google search engine and Gmail since around 2006 but I had no idea that they also offer products that can help you put places on the map (Google Maps), rate and review establishments (Google Local Guides), and keep track of clicks and site visits (Google My Business). Mr. Marcus Foon, the GBG community manager (GLOBAL) based in Singapore,  answered our questions and gave us tips on how we can maximize Google’s products and features such as this one:

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People usually use Google Maps to look for specific places and directions. I had no idea that it can also be used to display some of your products, input some information about your business, answer queries, and post reviews. I was also stoked to see Eco Choices on the map! So yeah, if you want to find us, just type Eco Choices on your Google Map and you’ll find us. You can also leave a review so we know how to improve our business.

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(c) Avel Manansala

About thirty entrepreneurs with different products and services attended the seminar. We were all given a chance to talk about ourselves as entrepreneurs and share our products and because of that, we were able to network with each other. I’m sure  we all Googled each other after the workshop.

We were also interviewed by Rean Hazel Hacosta of TV Patrol Soccsksargen:

 

The Internet is a powerful tool that should not be limited to the use of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. While it’s no secret that these social media platforms help boost online presence and improve business, there are other products and services offered by Google that can help you closely monitor your business.

Mr. Avel and Mr. Marcus, thank you once again for the opportunity. I learned so much from you. Until next time!:)

 

5 PM

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5 PM | IMAC

“It’s five in the afternoon

Your eyes are the size of the moon

You could ‘coz you can so you do

We’re feeling so good

Just the way that we do

When it’s five in the afternoon”

–Panic at the Disco

(Disclaimer: I know the lyrics says “nine in the afternoon”)

That song’s been playing in my head since five in the afternoon, ergo the title for this post. I’m not sure if this counts as a Project 366 photo but I’m uploading it anyway because well, at the end of the day it’s still a picture that I captured… today. Can you believe it’s already this dark at 5 PM?

I’m still juggling an awfully long list of things to do (and things not to do). I’m slowly easing back into the groove of things, which is great.

How’s your week so far?