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.

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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.

Indigestion

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Bottled Paper Cranes | (c) Aliya Agbon | Canon 550D

Not in the literal way, but I’m hoping that through this blog I’ll be able to digest (sort of) some of the things that I learned the past few weeks. I was part of a workshop – one that allowed me to meet beautiful souls and help me understand/appreciate/love/accept ME. The workshop had three tracks and every single one required all of us (participants) to dig deeper into ourselves and the world around us.

I sound like I’m writing metaphors and I’d love to be more specific about these things but since I’m still trying to absorb everything, I figured it’s best if I  share this photo of the bottled paper cranes I made last month. For now at least. In case you’re wondering, the size of the paper is 1.5″ x 1.5″ and that tells you so much about how committed I am when it comes to folding tiny pieces of paper.

So why am I posting this photo today (9/11/16)?

I just feel like there’s so much going on in the world. When our workshop ended, I was a bit fidgety because that meant going back to the “real world” where I’ll be once again exposed to people who were not part of the workshop. It doesn’t mean they should be avoided, no. I was just being my usual anxious, fearful self and the question “omg what if I forget about the things I learned?” lingered. Writing all these thoughts in a journal helped a lot, because that meant getting over the urge to post it online. Yay!

I guess I’m posting this because it kind of symbolizes what’s in my head at the moment, and I’m slowly starting to see this picture from a different perspective. When I took this photo, my only goal was to upload it on Eco Choices’ Facebook page so people will know that we have this product but now, I’m seeing stories, colors, and relationships.

“Wow, deep pare”

Well, that’s exactly what it is. DEEP. Time for you to join me in my journey towards digesting all these thoughts and feelings, eh?

Anyway, going back: paper cranes symbolize peace and good fortune and in all honesty, I believe that the world needs a lot of that today. These days, there’s so much misinformation going on,  people are bashing other people, and it’s just starting to become toxic. I want to break the stream of hatred on my Facebook feed by posting these colorful paper cranes.

The bottles, if I were to interpret them, are the walls that we place around ourselves so no one can hurt us. Unfortunately, and this is something that was said to me by a beautiful wise woman, keeping pain out is also keeping love out. When you avoid the bad things, you avoid the good things and that’s a sad way to live.

You can also look at these bottled paper crane necklaces (chain not included in the picture, sorry) as constant reminders that no matter where you go and no matter how bad the situation is, there’s still kindness in the world. Love (not necessarily the romantic kind) still exists, you just need to change those glasses or shift to a different perspective. It’s all about perspective. It’s all about changing those conversations inside your head and allowing yourself to experience the world for what it really is.

Nope, this is not an attempt to market the bottled paper cranes (I’d post this blog in a different tone if that were the case). It just happened that these crafts represent what my current thoughts and feelings are. Pure coincidence.

All for now, I guess. Have a rainy/sunny Sunday!

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!

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?

 

Footprints

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Stories | ASUS Zenfone

I believe in happy places, in positive energy and in enjoying every single minute of our lives while we still can. I believe that places have stories and that trees are the best keepers of secrets. I believe in leaving our mark so we’ll be remembered, but I also believe in embracing the imprints of memories that places will leave in our hearts.

My anklets are stories of places I’ve been to, people I’ve met, and moments that I’ll cherish forever. They’ve witnessed my wipe outs, and the countless times I went back on the board to once again try and ride the different waves of life.

Time to Fly

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Wiliamson

Parking this quote here in the hopes that Timehop will remind me in one, two, three, four, five years. We live in a society that encourages and discourages us to shine. It’s confusing, isn’t it? We’re pushed to go after our dreams and be who we want to be but once we reach that, we’re faced with people who call us names and talk about us when our backs our turned.

As a kid, I was unstoppable. I volunteered for school performances without batting an eyelash. I had so much confidence in my skills and back then, I didn’t care about what people had to say about me. I wanted to perform, period. I was very active in sports, too. I would run around the school and play tag with my classmates despite my difficulty in breathing. My asthma did not stop me, and I would even brag about my brand new scars to my doctor while being reprimanded for violating his orders. Those were the days when labels did not matter. While my classmates thought I was cocky for being present in every performance, I ignored them because deep in my heart I knew I was good. I had confidence in my skills and I was more than happy to show people what I was capable of.  I WAS NOT AFRAID TO SHINE.

Things changed when I transferred schools. I was an easy target because I was a transferee and my complex way of thinking was perceived as an abnormality. I was not part of a group and I was ostracized most of the time. I was called a crybaby, wimp, weirdo, ugly, fat, stupid, feelingera, etc. In high school, I was made fun of because I did not have the curves. I retreated back to my shell and decided I am not good enough. I became quiet, reserved, and opted out whenever opportunities to audition for school performances were given. I tried so hard to please people but the more I did that, the more I lost myself. I found comfort in writing, reading, drawing, singing (in the bathroom), and crafts. In college, I managed to break free but there were days when their words still haunted me.

Fact: my secret dream is to perform on stage. I would fantasize about it, I would sing and dance in the shower while pretending that my fans are cheering for me. There are notebooks with pages that have my signature because I used to pretend that I was signing books, photos, and cd covers for my fans. The closest I got to that dream was back in 2009 when I hosted Qlets & Co. – a kiddie television show that aired every Sunday on QTV. It’s a job I enjoyed doing despite the stressful work hours.

During an art therapy session five years ago, I was asked to draw flowers. I painted cute ones and when my therapist saw this, she asked me to paint bigger flowers over them. For some reason, I cried when I saw my painting. My therapist then said :

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“You know why you’re crying? It’s because you are afraid to shine. That’s why the flowers you painted are small. You know deep in your heart that you are good but you choose to hide in the shadows because you are afraid of what people will say about you. Some will love you, some will hate you. Their words may hurt you but at the end of the day what matters is you go out there and do your best. Stop hiding. Go out there and shine.”

Whenever I look at that painting, I remember my therapist’s words. The truth always hurts but we need to hear it. I am guilty of hiding. I would rather have people like me even if it means letting go of who I am but the thing is, this life is not about who they are. It’s about who WE are. I’m not saying I’ve reached that level where people can call me names and I won’t feel a thing because I still get hurt and I still second guess myself. What I’m saying is, we should focus more on who we want to be than on who this society wants us to be. Right now, I’m trying to zero in on the dreams that I put on hold because I was busy trying to please other people. I just realized that I’ve been doing myself and the people who love me and believe in me a huge disservice by hiding so that other people won’t feel insecure around me.

I guess I’m writing this because I want to go back to this entry just in case I ever doubt myself again in the future. If this entry happens to inspire someone then that’s even better. This year started at a very low point and I’m just grateful for the people who became my spine. I want to put more premium on the people who believe in me and just learn whatever lesson it is that I need to learn from those who don’t.

My dreams scare me. Big time. To be honest, I don’t know if I’ll be able to achieve them or if I’m even worthy but I still want to try. It’s tempting to just go back to my shell but I also know that I am not getting any younger and I only have one shot at this. I believe it’s time to spread my wings and fly.

Saltwater Musings : Siargao

When you’re a wahine stuck in the city and programmed into a daily routine, you begin to crave for the ocean. Once you notice with every glimpse in the mirror that your tan lines betrayed you and decided to disappear, you begin to crave for the ocean even more. With each passing day, the craving intensifies and the only way to satisfy them is by watching your surf videos that your lovely friends captured from eons ago. You know that things have gone bad when day in and day out, all you can think of are long rides, sunsets, stoke, surf, sand, and sea. This is when you become thankful for friends who invite you to Siargao for a surf/soul searching trip (thanks, Liz).

Siargao is probably the best surf spot I’ve been in. I’ve heard about it from surfer friends and I can remember painting mental images of the place based on how they described it. I used to be scared of surfing in Siargao because of the reefs and what they call “professional waves”.  I am far from being a professional surfer. The biggest wave I’d dare ride is only six feet high and that’s after convincing myself that the worst thing that can happen to me is a wipe out. Siargao always gave me a combination of fear and excitement that whenever I thought visiting it before, I’d chicken out. I guess it’s true that there’s beauty in timing. I think if I went there before, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much as I did.

It’s only been a week since that epic Siargao trip and all I can say is I never left. Yes, I’m physically back in the city but everything else is still there, riding those waves, enjoying the good vibes, and staying stoked. That place gave me so much and I’ve only been there for six days. I got to be in my element again, and it was humbling to know that six months without surfing brings you back to square one… at least for the first two hours of your mini reunion with the board and the ocean. It was frustrating that I couldn’t catch a wave, that I kept falling, and that I was being robbed of patches of my skin because of the reef underneath. However, it was also very fulfilling when after approximately two hours of not giving up, I finally got that long ride that was enough to keep me stoked until the next day. The next two surf days were about learning how to do the frontside and the backside which were both challenging at first.

backside

superbend

We also chanced upon fellow surfers (Xave, Pia, and Mico) who were also there for vacation. We went island hopping to see more of Siargao on our second day and it really is beautiful. It’s sad to see that there are buildings being constructed after almost every kilometer. There are hotels, condominiums and resorts, claiming the place as theirs when it really isn’t. Everyone wants to own a piece of the land. Everyone wants to own a piece of paradise and its alarming. The locals say that Siargao has changed so much since it became popular. Its spot on the list of the popular surf destinations worldwide has its good and bad side and everyone’s just dealing with it. My only prayer is that they get to preserve its beauty.

lizxave

 

The ocean lent its ears to oohs and ahhs as our boat docked from one island to another. The waters were clear as crystal, it was fun to dive and be all mermaid-y without having to worry about landing on someone’s trash. The corals had were painted with a beautiful symphony of colors, it was hard to focus on just one. There were fishes of different shapes and sizes that swam in distances both far and near- depending on who was brave enough to touch the human skin. The salty Siargao breeze was filled with our laughters, jokes, and tricks with the GoPro. There were moments when we would randomly burst into song or dance once a good song plays in Spotify. Our day would end with the obligatory Monopoly deal where everyone’s competitive side showed.

(c) Mico Cervantes
(c) Mico Cervantes
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(c) Mico Cervantes
(c) Mico Cervantes
(c) Mico Cervantes

Liz and I did a lot of walking during our stay and this allowed us to explore the resorts in the area. Of all the resorts we’ve been to, Hotstpot stood out because they were very accommodating, the interiors were nice, and it had the ambiance that we wanted. Before surfing, Liz and I went there to hang out, order some drinks, and watch surf movies. Hotspot also offers board and GoPro rentals for Php 500/day which is really cheap! Their sexy chicken is a dish worth trying after an epic session. I give it two thumbs up!

The last day. :( (c) Hotspot
The last day. 😦 (c) Hotspot
(c) Hotspot
(c) Hotspot

Notes:

1) Respect the locals.

2) There is no ATM, so make sure that you have enough money. Meals cost around Php 80 – Php 130 but they have big servings, so it’s like having two meals in one.

3) You have to bring small bills since they almost always don’t have change.

4) The airport transfer will cost you around Php 300.

5) Go out and explore the island. There’s so much to see!

6) Think twice before accepting beer or any alcoholic beverage from people.

7) There’s a yoga session at the tower every 9:30 in the morning.

8) Be sure that your USB has enough disk space (17 gigs) so you can copy your videos from Hotspot’s GoPro.

9) Brace yourself for lots and lots of walking.

10) Enjoy each surf session and if you can, wait until the sun sets on the horizon.

Siargao is a paradise. It’s a great place to get lost in. You bask in its wonder and thank God that there’s a place like it in a country that’s fascinated by constructing giants in the concrete jungle. It’s a place that welcomes you with a warm embrace and gives you a heartache once the day of your departure draws near. You meet people from all over the world, speaking different languages, molded by different cultures, united by one thing : surfing. Okay, some just lay down and pray to the heavens that they get tans instead of freckles but you know what I mean. Siargao heals you in ways you can never imagine. It gives you picturesque sunsets that make you close your eyes and thank God that you witnessed that. It gives you ride-worthy waves that bring you from the line up to the board walk. It gives you locals who are nice enough to lend you a helping hand when they sense that you’re having trouble. It blesses you with the opportunity to know more about your teammate/travel buddy/friend who’s just as game as you are to explore the island and brave walking down dark streets since there are no street lights as of writing. Most of all, it gives you a chance to breathe, to take a break from the city’s fast-paced lifestyle. Siargao is a beauty, and I will forever be thankful that I ended my 6-month streak of no surfing in that island.

I leave you with this video that my friend Xavier D’Souza made. Thanks for reading! 🙂

Kissing the Sky

I’m back from my hiatus! Yay! If you’ve been dropping by this site and keeping yourself from sending me a pm or an email because I failed to update for the past few weeks, then I’m really sorry. My hands have been very busy with work, crafts, and the furball that at the end of the day I’m physically and mentally drained to blog. Sounds like an excuse, but it’s the truth. Still, I’m back and yes, I have an entry for you. Thanks for visiting this page, by the way. Most of the time I’m clueless about who the readers of this blog are so I just put in stories that I feel a lot of people can relate to. Since I’ve been MIA for quite some time, allow me to share with you an exciting story. I conquered my fear of heights last summer!

My jaw dropped when my mom told me that we’ll be paragliding. The immediate image that entered my head was a zip line but of course we know that’s different. We were in General Santos City and we were picked up by Titoy of Sarangani Paraglide that morning so we don’t have to worry about finding our way to the venue. After thirty minutes, we found ourselves in Maasim, Sarangani. I was still calm that time, but when Titoy showed me the mountain that we’ll be climbing for take off, the butterflies in my stomach turned into bats and I wanted to back out. I jokingly offered that I’ll take everyone’s picture instead, but then I figured, it’s going to be a sad story if I tell everyone that I went to Sarangani to back out. I admired Tita Mags and Tito Jojo who volunteered to go first. It was fun watching them and though I was still scared, seeing how easy it was for them gave me courage. I thought I was fine but as I was nearing Titoy, my tandem pilot, I was scared again! He assured me that everything will be fine and after just a few minutes of freaking out, I was ready to start. The first attempt was a failure because I ran towards the wrong direction. We had to function like planes and run fast towards the edge of the mountain and just let the glider do its thing. Titoy asked his assistant to help me because it was very hard for me to run against the direction of the wind. I was told to run without looking down and I did. Before I knew it, I was running on air! Once seated comfortably, I began to enjoy my first paragliding experience.

Paragliding4 It was nauseating at first and according to Titoy, it’s because it’s my first time. I screamed to release the fear that I was feeling while forgetting that everything was captured by the GoPro. We went high, we went low, and the view was breathtaking.

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Photo by Mags Maglana
Photo by Mags Maglana

 

The ride lasted for an epic ten minutes. I think for the remaining the nine minutes I forgot about my acrophobia. I was too busy looking for nice GoPro angles to make sure that everything is captured on video and having Titoy answer my questions about paragliding. I was a bit sad when I was told that we’ll be landing in a few minutes, but I did raise my fist in the air when I saw my mom, Tita Mags, and Tito Jojo.

Paragliding39

 

My not-so-smooth landing
My not-so-smooth landing
A different kind of stoke. :)
A different kind of stoke. 🙂

It felt great to face my fears and experience a different kind of stoke. I guess sometimes we focus way too much on exaggerating our fears when in reality, it’s just a matter of letting things flow. Though it’s tempting to chicken out once fear rises, it’s still best to be brave and conquer our fears. Except for snakes, that’s a different story. 🙂

There are two fly sites in the Philippines: Cavite and Sarangani. The flying season in Cavite is from November to April while in Sarangani, it’s the whole year round. It’s important to come early to make the most out of the experience. As surfers wait for the perfect wave conditions, paragliders wait for the perfect wind condition to make sure that the wing will fly properly. They are certified tandem pilots and they want to make sure that their passengers are safe while enjoying the experience.

Some tips for those who want to try paragliding:

1) Wake up early and make sure you just the right amount of food for breakfast. It is not recommended that you fly full because you might vomit.

2) Use sunblock.

3) Wear comfy clothes and rubber shoes.

4) Wear shades.

5) Listen to your pilot, they know best.

6) Make sure that the GoPro captures everything!

7) Let all fears go and have fun!

 

You can contact Sarangani Paragliders at 09228071961 or 09333736871. You can email them at saranganiparaglide@hotmail.com or visit their website at http://www.saranganiparaglide.com. For updates, like them on Facebook.

 

Balance

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Top, Jockey | Skirt/pants, Thailand | (c) Aliya Agbon

Last year, I took on a very important role. To those who don’t know, my family runs  Eco Choices – a social enterprise based in Cotabato City. Eco Choices aims to promote healthy living (we sell organic products like brown rice and herbal tea) and create opportunities for the communities living beside the river by making handmade products made from water hyacinth. It all sounds easy, but it’s not. Especially when you’re a librarian/freelance photographer who ditched jobs that had anything to do with business. When I assumed the managerial position, I literally didn’t know what to do. My goals were clear. I just didn’t know what steps to take, who to talk to, etc.

Now the question is, do you stop just because you’re clueless? Or, do you turn things around by accepting the fact that you don’t know anything and then do something about the situation? It was very humbling for me to go back to reading books and looking up articles on the internet that showed tips on how to run a social enterprise. I didn’t even know what “social enterprise” meant. I attended seminars, asked questions, and consulted mentors because I really wanted things to work. Fast forward to seven months later, I can honestly say that  I am seeing improvements. It was quite a ride and we still have a long way to go. We’ve only just begun after all.

My days are spent making products, coming up with new design concepts for Eco Choices, running Eco Choices, social media marketing, and handling finance. Some days I cross over to being the founder of Kids for Peace Foundation and attend meetings that are related to our projects. Some days, I’m just by myself, playing the guitar and singing like there’s no tomorrow. I do admit that there are days when I feel like I’m going insane and I think that’s a good thing. That right there is signal that I need to rest.

I’ve been asked about my theme for this year and all I can say is “balance”. I’m trying to create a balance between my personal life and my professional life. There’s a hairline that separates the two and that’s perfectly normal but I still want to give equal attention to both.

You’re probably asking, “okay what about surfing?” and I’ll ask you the same thing. The last time my skin tasted salt water was in October and if you compare that to 2012-2013’s surf statistics, that’s pretty sad. I was surfing almost every weekend last year. I was at my darkest, too. Is it difficult not being able to surf when I want to? Yes. See, Mindanao is a lot different from Luzon in the sense that I can’t just board a bus at 12 MN and expect to arrive safely the next day. Surf spots take at least 8 hours from where I live too, so I can’t just go on a weekend trip because when the waves are pumping, there’s no way that I’ll be okay with just surfing for two days. When I miss the feeling, I skate. I’ve kissed the concrete pavement for a couple of times now, I’m just lucky I haven’t landed on dog poop yet. When I feel like I’m going crazy because I can no longer deal with being away from the ocean, I make arrangements with my mom. I try to make things work as much as possible.

So… there. Here’s to creating a balance between work, family, and self.