I Am Not an Accident

I can finally write about it.

This is something I wrestled with for years; each attempt a roller coaster, the highs beating the lows and vice versa. I’ve attended several workshops and therapy sessions, every single one ending with a validation, a trip down memory lane, and a colorful series of expressions.

But some days I find myself haunted by those words and I go back to square one.

Seven

My family setup is different from what our society is used to, but in no way do I consider it broken. I grew up seeing just one parent and the only time I learned about my story was when I was in second grade. It didn’t make a lot of sense back then, but life has its way of unfolding mysteries with each birthday candle blown. It also has its way of hurting you, and that came in the words “you are an accident” uttered by a relative I looked up to. A person I loved and admired deeply called me an accident. I was seven years old.

CCI07092018_0001
Thesis, 2009 | (c) Aliya Agbon

Twenty-one

The Bible was quoted, and I was forced to look at Ecclesiastes. I argued, I am not an accident. This went on for years. At 21, I talked to her again to tell her that she’s wrong, that I’ve read every single book in the Bible but none of it says that I am an accident,  that I’ve worked so hard to be visible, and that I have every right to claim my space on this planet. More painful words came, and I began to realize I won’t be receiving an apology from this person anytime soon. I found comfort in writing the words “to my mom, who turned the world’s worst accident into the world’s best blessing” on the dedication page of my thesis. That was my truth, and that truth felt good.

Soul Work

For years, her words shaped my reality. I wanted to be a celebrity. I wanted to make it big and have people know my name. I can sing, dance, act, host, I’m a Jill of all trades. I reflected on this and I realized, I was not really into the limelight. There were several opportunities in the past and I did get my feet wet when I hosted a kiddie show, but what happens behind the camera did not appeal to me. After several backward reviews and scribbles on my life chart, I came face-to-face with the reality that I wanted to be seen. The neglect made me want to be more visible and that’s when I realized what my real intentions were. It was one tough pill to swallow.

The questions are more important than the answers, they say. My soul yearned for healing and it lead me to people who understood what I was going through. Colors, movement, gestures, speech, and tone revealed memories I tried to so hard to hide, forcing me to meet them once again. Some memories were pleasant, some made my stomach churn, but every single one made me understand myself at a deeper level. Removing an event in the past does have an effect on the present, and it takes a lot of inner work to accept the good and the bad.

Full Circle

The seven-year cycle comes in full circle as I’m now on my 7th year of soul work. I have come to realize that the wisdom of the soul is something we should never underestimate. Watching everything unfold before my very eyes still gives me chills and I just feel honored that I get to witness  and experience it in this lifetime. This healing is something I owe to my past and future self. It’s a tall order, but someone has to do the dirty work.

It’s quite interesting to note as well, that I received the greatest affirmation from two doctors just some weeks ago. One told me while exchanging goodbyes: “I’ve been meaning to tell you that in embryology, it’s the egg that allows the sperm to enter which is why it’s impossible that you are an accident”. The other one told me “see, you are not an accident, I’ll hit you with a book the next time you say that you are” when I showed him the line “the egg descends to meet its destiny” from Dennis Klocek’s book, Esoteric Physiology.

My memories are important to me, and those moments of affirmation have been playing in my head for weeks now. My mom has been working hard for years just to let me feel that I’m not an accident and I can finally embrace that now. I can finally end the story that started when I was seven. Call on the Bible or any Science book and both will agree that I am not accident. I never was. I never will be.

I’m now ready to remove my boxing gloves. The wrestling match is over. With one last bell, what has been twenty-three years of non-stop punching has finally come to an end.  I wear my battle scars with pride. I may be tired, but my soul is happy. Very happy.

It’s time to bury her story six feet below the ground. It has to die so my story, the real one, can finally blossom and meet the beautiful chapters of its destiny.

I can now say in full confidence that I have every right to be here, and it feels hella awesome.

Sinag Stories: My Thirteenth Birthday

Each year, I patiently wait for the clock to strike 12 so I can sing a birthday song to myself. Of course, there were times when I’d wish for people to surprise me at 12 midnight with songs, flowers, balloons, and a cake, but reality taught me to manage my expectations.

When I found out that I’ll be celebrating my birthday in an evacuation center this year, I was quite happy about it. For once, I’ll be spending it with the kids I’ve grown close to, along with the volunteers of Creating Sinag Within. People say thirty is just a number, but for me thirty means three decades of existence, loaded with challenges to help me become the person I’m destined to be. I was planning on cooking something for the team so we can have a mini celebration, but little did I know that they already had their own plans.

IMG_1485
Got me some candy and I saw this. What are the odds? (c) Aliya Agbon | Canon 550D

A Few Hours Before Midnight

End-of-the-day meetings are part of our rhythm. The backward review gives us the space to run through the events that happened during the day, to note areas that need to be improved, and to acknowledge situations that are significant to us. I distinctly remember voicing out that we really need to sleep at 9 that night because we didn’t have enough sleep the night before. I was itching for the meeting to finish because I could no longer keep my eyes open. The moment we finished the meeting, I rushed to my bed to sleep. Before closing my eyes, I told Dayang ” I turn a day older tomorrow, isn’t that interesting?”

Lights off.

Yakosinilado Banaha

I was nearing the end of the bridge, the part where I can say I’ve finally fallen asleep, when I heard voices from afar. “Si, si, si, sidolada, yakosinilado banaha!” The voices were muffled at first, like they were from a hundred miles away. I figured, maybe the EP team is still rehearsing for the activities the next day but why? We already agreed that we need to sleep. The voices grew louder and it dawned on me that they were not rehearsing for any activity. I peeked through my malong and I noticed that candle lights danced with the darkness in the room, and that there were people standing near my bed.

I cried.

The Birthday Surprise

It took a while for me to get up because I couldn’t stop crying. When I finally decided to get up, I saw the Courageous Marawi 12 and the Creating Sinag Within volunteers armed with cakes, balloons, flowers, and a cake. They sang their birthday song and I walked around the room to thank each one for taking the time and effort to make my birthday special.

IMG20171023221415
Love you, Courageous Marawi 12! (c) Louise Far, 2017

I received three black balloons, thirteen long stemmed roses, one birthday cake, and love from all of the volunteers that night.

22809565_10159576681165445_154129227_n
Thirteen going on thirty! (c) Louise Far, 2017

I then learned about how they planned the whole thing, and the things that they had to do in order for the surprise to be successful. I was just staring at them while they were talking because at that moment, my heart just wanted to explode with all the love it received that night.

Now, you’re probably wondering why the title says “thirteenth birthday”. Well, here’s why:

IMG20171023221925
Happy 13th to me! (c) Audi Ibrahim, 2017

This was all Imad’s idea. Haha. Anyway, my heartfelt thanks to all those who remembered my birthday. Special shoutout to the Courageous Marawi 12 for planning the surprise. I definitely felt loved. Thank you! 🙂

Counting Tuesdays

I’m writing this because unlike most of my friends, I believe that 2016 deserves an essay from me. I experienced the lowest of lows that year and I have no idea how I managed to survive all of that. To say 2016 is full of crap wouldn’t be fair to all of the good things that happened last year. With lows are highs, with highs are lows, and the space in between is big enough to make room for learning and realization.

Nope, this isn’t a resolution post because I know at some point this year I’ll be breaking my own rules. I’m just writing this to resurrect my blog and to pay tribute to all the events that happened last year. It’s also a post I intend to go back to, should I doubt myself once again in the future.

So, here we go. In 2016, I learned…

That Every Minute Is Literally A Chance to Turn It All Around

img_1009
Words of wisdom c/o A. (c) 2016 | Canon 550D

There are so many things that I don’t post on social media mainly because I feel like they shouldn’t be there. I’ve actually been struggling with the whole sharing my life vs keeping things private shiz that’s why I’ve been on and off with my blogging. On one hand yes it’s fun to have an audience and thousands of followers, but on the other hand, it’s not fun to have an audience and thousands of followers. Anyway, back to the story. I found myself in a hellhole that started around April. It was tough and at some point I wanted to give up. Good thing I had my family, and close friends with me that time because they pulled me back up with I hit rock bottom. The problem would have lingered a lot longer if I didn’t decide to put an end to it by looking for ways to solve it.

That the Sun Shines Equally On Everybody

img_1206
Sun catchers | (c) 2016, Canon 550D

Some days I agree with it, some days I don’t. I mean really, how can the sun shine on the murderers, the rapists, the robbers, the naysayers, or people who don’t have at least 1% of kindness in their hearts? How can the sun shine on those who gave me a hard time? How can the sun shine on all the douchebags who broke my heart?

But the more humbling question is, who am I to decide?

I first heard about it in August and I’m still not able to digest it. On the days that my higher self is more dominant, the statement makes perfect sense. When you set your judgement aside, you’ll be able to see that indeed, the sun shines equally on all of us. However, when the higher self decides to go on a vacation, that’s when all the questions begin to appear. This is something that I’ll have to keep going back to during reflection and meditation.

That I Have to be Kinder to Myself

img_1717
I | (c) 2016, Canon 550D

I went on an art therapy session once and the funny thing is, my art revealed the things I tried so hard to conceal. Of course the things discussed during the session won’t be revealed here, but if there’s one realization that struck me, it’s that I have to be kinder to myself. It’s easy to be kind to other people but it’s hard when the same amount of kindness has to be given to ourselves.

That Grieving is Personal

Jpeg
My babies | (c) 2016, Asus Zenfone

When Marley and Roxy died, people were quick to tell me that it’s okay, they’re just dogs and that I should move on. I tried my best to filter out the words of nosy naysayers because really, what do they know? I took my own sweet time to process, recover, and accept their deaths. Some say I’m taking an awfully long time to move on, but for me, the speed is just right. I also don’t believe in moving on because that means having to cancel out their existence and forgetting about them. I’d rather move forward. I wear my scars with pride, and I carry their memory everywhere I go. This is also why this entry is entitled Counting Tuesdays because both dogs died on a Tuesday, both dogs died last year, and it feels like the perfect title for a tribute post to the year that was.

That Family is Everything

img_7756
Ohana with my ohana | (c) 2016, Canon 550D

I was helping my grandfather stand up from the hospital bed when I realized that I was holding the hands of a man who used to hit me with a belt/slipper/wood/whatever. The very hands that would spill rock salt on the wooden floor and ask me to kneel on them. I was looking at the eyes of the man who once grabbed me and threw me on the wall. I was assisting the man who once called me stupid just because I had a red mark on my report card.

But know what? None of that mattered. Set all the disciplinary stuff aside, I know that my grandfather meant well when he did all of those. I wouldn’t be able to write all these entries if it weren’t for him. When the world told me that I’m an accident, my grandfather agreed with my mom when she said I’m a blessing. He’s still one of the few men I look up to and I can only pray that he’ll be with me on my wedding day. That man means the world to me.

That the World Needs More Love and Light

img_6922
Paper Cranes | (c) 2016, Canon 550D

Oh man, where do I begin? For the most part of last year, I’ve been trying to tune out the negative juju. People are so quick to bash other people these days, those who scheming minds are now in positions of power, and don’t get me started on the cruelty that we’ve been showing to Mother Earth. I’m just hoping that things will turn around this 2017.

2016 was insane, and I’m sure all of you will agree with me. I’m not sure what 2017 has up its sleeve but what I do know is this: I’m ready to face the challenges that it’ll throw my way.

Bring. It. On.

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.

13709455_1342596955760187_604078011_o
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.

13681769_1342598919093324_2059828517_o

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.

13730625_1342599082426641_364835230_o

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.

Wipeout

IMG_7719

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.

42 is Just a Number

Not.

For the past few days, I’ve been thinking of ways to start this entry. This is a lot more special than the daily Project 366 I’ve been posting (last post was January 18 and I owe you 44, goodness!) because this post is about making a statement, pushing the limits, and proving something to myself. At this moment, I’m still reeling in from the events that transpired last week and the only thing I can think of despite the thousands of thoughts in my head right now is this: “I made it”.

I freakin’ made it.

For months I’ve been itching to post this on social media but I decided not to. When you put something on the world wide web it becomes public domain and you allow people to say something about whatever it is that you posted. With that, I decided to post when it’s done because then I won’t have to deal with opinions and expectations from people.

Now we begin.

I think that people who run marathons have a hugot story. Here’s mine:

I ran for love. *cringe* Nope. Haha! I ran because I wanted to prove something to myself. I was born with skin asthma which later on developed into bronchial asthma. My first asthma-related memory involves a long list of food that I should avoid, and another list of medicines that I need to take. I was four and at that early age, I was always singled out whenever my peers played games that involved running, jumping, screaming, and intense dust exposure. In school, there were times when I had to be sent to the clinic because I couldn’t breathe. In college I tried to fight my asthma, only to end up in the hospital with a dextrose and plenty of antibiotics because I prioritized my thesis and forgot to take care of my lungs.

superbend

I kind of found my turf when I started to surf. Breathing was not an issue- the ocean breeze was my best friend. I didn’t have to worry about being singled out because hey, we’re all “single” when we’re out in the sea anyway. We chase our own waves and well, ask others to push us when our arms are too tired to paddle.However, the weekly surf trips began to affect my savings so I had to lay low for a while. I then found myself enjoying flag football but I could only run a couple of rounds (when I’m lucky I’d score a touchdown). Anything more than that and I’d be gasping for air already. A lot of people called me a wimp because my lungs weren’t as normal or as strong as theirs and for a long time, I allowed their perspective to limit me.

Last August 2015, the applications for The Bull Runner Dream Marathon 2016 opened and for some reason, I decided to send my application. I fidgeted as I filled in the form. I was crying because I didn’t know if I could do it- the only thing certain at that time was that I want to run. In my heart I knew that I wanted to run and when I found out that I got accepted, I told my mom and my uncle who is a TBR alumnus. Both expressed their concerns but said they will support my decision.

When I told some of my friends about it, most of them laughed and even joked that I might as well crawl all the way to the finish line. Only a few told me that they believe in me and that I can do it. I think when these things happen, you have two options: listen to people who say you can’t, or listen to people who say you can. However, whether it’s a can or a can’t, you have your OWN voice to listen to at the end of the day and whatever that voice says is your reality.

A few days before the marathon, I had to deal with the death of my beagle, Roxy. I was crushed and I wondered if I can still run. I was tempted to drop out but then I also knew that dropping out meant adding another item on my long list of what ifs. So, instead of sulking, I decided to still prepare for the run and dedicate the distance of 42k to Roxy as a way of celebrating her life.

IMG_1193
Roxy | (c) Aliya Agbon

The day before the marathon I couldn’t sleep or eat. I was too anxious. I suffered from a migraine, I thought I was about to get sick, and I think I checked my running gear more than ten times to make sure I won’t be forgetting anything. Since the gun start for the marathon was at 2 in the morning at Nuvali, Sta. Rosa, Laguna, my uncle and I left Manila at 12 midnight. I tried to sleep on the way but I couldn’t so I tried to condition myself instead. When I saw the venue, I became even more nervous because oh my goodness what am I doing to myself. What the hell did I get myself into? I was overwhelmed with emotions, everything was a blur, and I just wanted to get it overwith. I then saw my best friend, Chickee, who was with her boyfriend Ty. I asked Chickee to pace me since it was my first time to run a marathon. She assured me that everything will be okay, that I can do it, and that I will cross the finish line. I was jumping up and down during the countdown and I screamed when I heard the gun start.

12773412_10206789937200012_1097186741_o
(c) Marriz Agbon

And so the journey to 42k began.

Chickee and I walked during the first minute not to conserve energy, but to find our space in the sea of marathoners, pacers, and dream chasers. We jogged during the second minute to signal the start of our 1:1 run-walk pace to complete the distance of 42.195 kilometers. I tried to let my mind drift back to the days when I was still training so I can easily ignore 1) the fact that it’ll take a while for me to finish the marathon, 2) words from the naysayers that were ringing in my ears and 3) to have fun. Before we knew it, we were already jogging uphill and we were on our way to hit 5k. Time check, 50 minutes. We were making good time.

The cold Nuvali air made it fun and easy to run. Going uphill was quite exhausting but the grand view of the city lights made the climb worthwhile. After a few more stories and high fives from the dream chasers, we hit the 15k mark. Unfortunately for me, I began to feel pain on both feet so I asked Chickee to help me stretch for a bit. I kept checking my watch because I didn’t want to be disqualified. After some minutes of stretching, Chickee and I decided to power walk all the way to 21k. I was stopped twice because the dream chasers noticed that I was already limping. They massaged my feet and sprayed liniment for relief. Some tried to make me laugh, while some told me that there’s a possibility that I won’t make the cut (when we heard this, Chickee and I screamed: NEVER!).

When we finally reached 21k, Chickee had to rest. She wasn’t allowed to do the whole 42k since she’ll be doing a triathlon the week after. I was finally on my own. The sun was up, I could see that some of my batch mates were almost finished with their second loop and all I could do at that point was pray that I finish the remaining 21k, aching feet and all.

You’d think that at some point I’d complain about my weak lungs but nope, that didn’t happen. My lungs were surprisingly fine! No asthma!

10402972_1705851442986736_3817793011868861254_n
On the way to 21K with Lance, Chickee, and Sir Adel | (c) Active Pinas

When I reached 22k, I sent a text to my mom, my uncle, Chickee, and Aar to let them know that I made it past the dreaded 21k mark. At this point I was already weighing the pros and cons. Will I make the cut? What if I don’t? I was also trying to make mental computations of how fast I should go (yeah right) and at what time I should hit the 30k mark so I can cross the finish line before 11 AM. I was crying because I felt so alone. Bikers and cars would drive past me and say “you can do it!” and the only thing I could give them was a faint smile. I kept thinking about my goal, I kept walking despite the pain, and when I chanced upon Ga, a fellow marathoner, I walked faster so I can ask how he is and talk to him for a bit. Both of us were power walking and both of us were wondering if making the cut is still possible. After a few minutes I decided to go ahead because I wanted to press forward and see how far I can go. At 26k I saw Brian, another marathoner. He asked about my feet because he saw me limping. He gave me some tips, all of which were acknowledged, and then we continued walking. When I reached 30k, I saw my uncle and when I approached him, he asked if I still wanted to continue. I paused for a bit. 30k. I made it this far. I can just give up, right? Right? NO. I told him I’ll finish the marathon.

12729065_806248652820795_2875260069162490285_n
Station 3 Dream Chasers | (c) Jn Tbr

With that, we stopped by station 3. Some of the dream chasers gave me a massage (thank you, all of you!), and then, I finally allowed myself to break down ( I don’t know if it’s because of exhaustion or pain). At 30k, everything becomes mental. The physical pain is secondary. I zeroed in and focused on my goal. I fought through the pain. I wanted to triumph over the pain. I had no plans of quitting. Nope, not gonna happen.

My uncle walked with me for the last 12k. We talked about a lot of things which was helpful because I managed to take my mind off my aching feet. I’d pause and hold my knees from time to time, to relieve some of the pain. I tried to jog, but since that was too painful, I decided to stick to power walking. At this point, I opened myself to one of the principles of open space technology: whatever happens is the only thing that could.

My uncle gave me pickle juice to fight off the cramps. From time to time, he sprayed cold water on my face. I had twenty minutes to negotiate 2k but at that time, my pace went from 10:1 to 15:1. So near yet so far.

1491683_1706370006268213_481556198768986685_n
Last few meters to 42K | (c) Active Pinas

The dream chasers cheered when I passed the last station. One of them even screamed “you are my idol!” and that helped a lot. When you’re limping your way to the finish line and when all hope seems lost, cheers and words of encouragement from people you don’t even know will give you that extra push that you need. My uncle, Chickee, Tyron, and some of the dream chasers walked with me as I limped my way to the finish line.

Unofficial time: 9 hours and 17 minutes. Total distance: 42.195 kilometers.

I didn’t make the cut, I don’t have a medal, but I feel like I won first place.

12767593_10206771655022969_1727132389_n
With Jaymie Pizarro! | (c) Marriz Agbon

I just stood there in disbelief. I made it. I made it? I made it. Oh wow I made it! Good thing the photo booth was still there so I had the chance to have my photo taken with the words “I AM A MARATHONER”. We also saw The Bull Runner herself, Jaymie Pizarro, who congratulated me because despite the pain, I still fought and finished the marathon. At this point, I already had to sit down because my feet could no longer carry my weight. After claiming my swag bag and finisher’s shirt, I bid Chickee and Tyron goodbye. It was time to go home.

12742327_1706370352934845_2623390903646768822_n
When in doubt, dimples out! | (c) Active Pinas

A lot of people thought I did it to seek vengeance but that’s not the case. When I signed up for The Dream Marathon 2016, it was clear that I wanted to show myself that I’m not weak. I wanted to prove to myself that I am strong and that I can run a marathon. When people ask me how I did it, all I can say is that I chose to believe in myself and ignore the negative opinions of others. People will always have something to say and that’s fine. At the end of the day, you decide which of those opinions deserve your attention, and which ones should be tossed in the I-don’t-give-a-f*ck-bucket. Besides, I think that people who say you can’t are threatened because you are more courageous than they are.

The first step to accomplishing anything in life is believing in yourself. The whole 42k, I kept telling myself “you can do it” and I believe, that those four words gave me the fuel that I needed to finish.

I just want to give a shout out to my mom and my brother for supporting me all the way and for understanding that I just wanted to prove something to myself, my uncle who paced me and helped me recover, Chickee for believing in me and for pacing me during the first 21k, Tyron for supporting Chickee (and me! Haha!), Aar for supporting me and for monitoring me during the run (I made it! Team strong!), Sir Adel, Lance, Shep Kat, Ate Marie, Ate Kit, Ga, Brian, Dream Chasers, TBR for making all of this possible, and of course, Roxy. 42.195k was no easy feat but you gave me strength. I hope you’re happy in dog heaven. We miss you.

10363555_1706767169561830_6344584915837871134_n
They don’t call me “Aliya” for nothing 😉 | (c) Active Pinas

My name, Aliya, is a Hebrew word which means “to rise up” and that’s exactly what I did last February 21, 2016- the day I became a marathoner.

If you have asthma or if you’ve been told you can’t do things because you have weak lungs, I hope this entry inspires you. For the past 28 years of my life I’ve been told not to move too much because I have asthma and I allowed myself to be limited by the opinions of other people. It has to change at some point.

We have the power to rise and claim our space in this world. Weak lungs and all. 😉

 

Roxy

I’m blessed with two adorable beagles. Marley, the male beagle,  is one year and ten months old. Roxy, on the other hand, is the newest addition to our family. She was given to me by my mom as a birthday present and she is six months old. While there are moments where it’s hard to distinguish who’s who, there are also instances when it’s easy to spot the difference in their behavior. Case in point: food. Once Marley sees that Manong Noning is preparing their food, he’ll bark and run up and down the stairs. This goes on until the food is served. Roxy, on the other hand, hugs the pole.

IMG_1174
Food Spotted | Canon 550D

Holding that position for a long time can be quite uncomfortable. There are days when she tries to follow Marley by running up and down the stairs but after two tries, she goes back to hugging the pole.

IMG_1183
Patiently Waiting | Canon 550D

After a while, she eventually notices that there are four big dogs in the house who are barking and calling Manong Noning’s attention. Afraid that her share will be given to the other dogs, she joins the crew’s barking.

IMG_1193
Barking Orders | Canon 550D

After a few more minutes, food is served, the dogs are happy, and the house becomes quiet.

Special shoutout to those who dropped by my page and liked my blog. Thank you so much! 🙂

Project 366

I planned on writing a tribute to 2015 but after realizing that my photos weren’t organized, I’ve decided to save that post for tomorrow or the day after. My photos are normally filed by year, with sub-folders that are labeled by date and event. I noticed that I don’t have enough folders for 2015 which means I didn’t spend enough time with my 550D last year. Sad, eh? I’d always bring it with me, but I’d always forget to use it. Oh well.

For 2016, I want to challenge myself to take more pictures. One photo per day. This will take a lot of effort and commitment, then again, it won’t be called a challenge if it didn’t. My very own Project 366.

Here’s photo number 1:

Jpeg
“Unang El Bimbo” | ASUS Zenfone | Low light

While the whole world  welcomed 2016 last night by lighting up the skies, these two made their way inside our house. Both were shaking, so we sat down with them and stroked their backs to let them know that everything is okay. Eight minutes after midnight, this happened. Lo and behold, my first photo for 2016. Yay!

Happy New Year everybody! 🙂

LOVE

lolo and lola

Today my Facebook feed is filled with photos of Christmas celebrations from different parts of the world. Since my feed is filled with hunka hunka burning love, I decided to share this photo of my grandparents.  It’s a bit blurry but I still like it. Raw emotions. The only thing I can think of when I look at this picture is how much they love each other, and how blessed they are to be with each other.

My grandfather still looks at my grandmother the same way he did when they… well let’s say probably when they started dating. While he now has difficulty moving around, he makes it a point to assist her and give her the massage that she needs before going to bed. My grandmother, on the other hand, cooks for him, cracks jokes to make him laugh, and switch channels when the show on TV bores him.

My grandparents have  shown me that love is not only in the good times- it’s also in the bad. You love that person when they’re at their best, and you love that person when they’re at their worst. It’s choosing that same person every single day for the rest of your life – wrinkles, gray hair, and all. It’s growing up and growing old with someone. It’s standing by that person even when times are difficult. It’s not about compatibility; it’s about working things out despite differences in personality, perspective, beliefs, etc. I’m sharing this photo as a tribute to both of them because they serve as a reminder that despite all of the negativity and hatred that’s happening in the world today, love still exists. We need more reminders like this.

Happy Holidays! 🙂