New Year, New Header

Each new year comes with the promise to change for the better. I was not prepared to dive into the first few chapters of this year, and several times I found myself speechless. In an attempt to cope, I found myself scouring through storage boxes of planners and sketchpads filled with poems, songs, illustrations and paintings I worked on since I was a kid.

Yes, I still keep them.

These are imprints of my soul, and as I looked through each one I found myself asking what stories are behind each body of work. Some I still remember, some I no longer do. My trip down the colorful memory lane led me to a painting I did back in 2011. At that moment I decided it was time to tweak my old header and add portions of the painting.

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While I love the simple, classy, and elegant feel of my old black and white header, I feel like this new one is a much better representation of why this blog exists. It may look simple, but behind each stroke and color is a healing story. There’s depth to the painting, and it takes openness and a keen eye to see that.

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I preserved all the elements. The girl on the right is lifted from a sketch I did before classes back in 2006. I call her “Aliya”. Wahine Wanderlust is about a woman who loves to surf and wander about this wonderful life while she still can.

While I still can.

 

 

 

 

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I Am Not My Weight

I gained weight. Big time. A whopping additional 30 pounds is distributed all over my body. My cheeks are fuller, my arms jiggle, and most of my clothes don’t fit anymore.

 

See, the past months I’ve been dealing with people who take it upon themselves to comment on my body weight. “Mataba ka”, “healthy ka”, “chin up, all of it”, “girl papayat ka ha?”, “ang taba taba taba mo na”, bla bla bla. It’s supposed to be okay. I’m supposed to be fine with all the snide remarks but the thing is, it hurts. It takes me back to my elementary days when some of my classmates would call me names just because I was not as slim as most of them.

What most people fail to realize is the numbers on the weighing scale do not reflect who I am as a person. I’m still the same Aliya and it’s just funny (sometimes pathetic) that a lot of people are obsessed with what I look like.

Have I thought about losing weight? Yes, because I miss wearing some of my clothes. I’m working on it, but in no way am I doing it for other people.

I used to be so obsessed with losing weight just so that people will like me. I’d skip meals, work out until I pass out, and avail of services that speed up the weight loss. While it got the job done, I ended up with a body that had zero curves and worse, people still had something to say.

I’m so over that now. Yes, the words hurt sometimes but I know better now. I bleed, but I’m very much aware that talk is cheap, and at the end of the day I still have a say on how those words will affect me.

Maybe we need to learn how to look beyond someone’s physique. Underneath all the layers of “fat” is an actual human being who has every right to live in this world. We also need to be sensitive enough and think about how voicing out our unsolicited thoughts will affect that person.

I mean seriously, do we really need to point out that a person is fat, or are we doing it so we can feel good about ourselves?

 

One

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Around this time last year, I found myself sitting in a room with Iris Sullivan. She greeted me when I entered the room, asked me to sit down, and after a brief oientation she asked:

“Why are you here?”

I don’t know what it was with her question but I broke down the moment I heard it. I fidgeted, trying to hold back my tears but I still ended up pouring my heart out to this woman whom I just met. Must be her warmth, I guess.

I carried the question with me for months.

Answers. I am here for answers. I am here to make the remaining years of my life count. I am here to find my purpose. I am here to know more about why I’m here… why I’m still here.

I’ve already heard about anthroposophy back in 2009. Different vessels carried the message but my ears remained closed that time. I found the information overwhelming and I put my defenses up whenever someone tried to talk to me about it. Lo and behold, things do have their perfect time and here I am, seven years later, digging deeper into my journey in anthroposophy.

I don’t know what the exact date is, but this month marks my first year in this journey. I’m slowly receiving answers to my questions but the thing about answers is it leads to more questions so you really, you can only keep on digging and learning.

So here’s to more years of being an anthroposophy sponge. I look forward to meeting more people who are also on the same journey. I’m anticipating “say what” moments and that’s fine because those will become eureka moments at some point. My heart’s really filled with happiness right now and I can only thank the forces of the universe for always guiding me through this beautiful, funny, crazy, meaningful place we all call life. . 🙂

Accidental Blessings

I want to start this entry by saying that I was raised by a single mother. How she managed to raise me and my brother on her own will forever be a mystery to me. At the age of 24, she had to take care of me and prepare me for my own life journey while working jobs here and there to make sure she still has money to pay the bills.

Yup, that’s my mother. A rockstar. I was never ashamed of the fact that I grew up without a father. I’d even mention that during interviews, random conversations with strangers, name it, I’ll say it. I took pride in the fact that my mother managed to look everyone in the eye and tell them that yes, she is a single parent and she’s doing a damn good job at it.

I guess this is why I don’t understand why we’ve been categorized as a broken family because I never felt that. My mom’s been a mother and a father to me since the day I was born that’s why I never felt the loss. I never felt the pain. I never felt the sadness. The only time that I felt pain was when a family member called me an accident.

“You are an accident. You were not part of the plan. What will people think? You grew up without a dad”

Not being part of the plan does not make me an accident. Growing up without a father does not make me incomplete. The only thing I hate about this setup is dealing with people who keep insulting my mom because of what happened. I turn thirty this year and the setup still hasn’t changed. There are times when I feel like I’m paying the debt without knowing how much it is that I need to settle. I’ve been told so many times to just shrug off the painful words, forgive from afar because they don’t know what they’re saying. I get that, and trust me I’ve tried so many times to do just that. I’ve been dealing with the labels for almost three decades now and I think it’s high time that I say no to it. I will no longer be defined by it.

I love my mom. This world has given her so many reasons to just give up and quit but she still has her game face on, ready  to fight when need be. For someone who’s exposed to so much pain, her heart is filled with so much love that’s why it hurts me when people place her inside a box that says “single parent”. She has so much to offer, I have so much to offer, and I just wish this society will change how they view single parents or kids raised by single parents.

The first few pages of my thesis have the words “the accident is now a blessing”. Today let me rephrase that. I have always been a blessing. I was never an accident.

Fangirling

Omg I can’t believe I’m posting this but what the hell. My heart will explode if I don’t do this, so here goes:

I’m a fan of Maymay Entrata. And Edward Barber. MayWard. There. I said it.

I never thought the time would come when I would actually grab my phone and vote for a housemate. Well, two housemates because it was so difficult to choose between Maymay and Edward. Sure, all housemates are deserving but there’s just something about these two. I still find it weird whenever I browse through articles and videos just so I can know more about them. The wacky-go-lucky from Cagayan De Oro and the cheerful charmer from Germany is what they’re called, and the viewers of the longest running reality TV show, Pinoy Big Brother witnessed how these two transitioned from complete strangers to being the best of friends. Say what you want to say about MayWard but for me, I can only confess that my dimples hurt when I watch them because seriously, how can you not?

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(c) Magandang Buhay

I have to admit I was so annoyed when I first saw Maymay. She’s so noisy, she lacks finesse, and her mouth is too big. However, I must admit that the more I watched the show, the more I learned to appreciate her. Behind that bubbly persona is a simple girl who’s determined to go for her dreams. She puts her mind and heart into everything that she does and I guess that’s the reason why she’s the big winner. A lot of people may mock her for her Bisaya accent, looks, and whatever but she doesn’t mind. She knows what she wants. I remember telling my mom that I envy Maymay because she pays no attention to the negative things that people say about her. Okay maybe she does, but only to a certain extent. Areas of improvement are considered, pure bashing is tossed out the window and that’s exactly how it should be. I learned once that when you open your heart to the world, the world gives all the love it can give and maybe that’s the case with Maymay. Inhale love, exhale love.

We then go to Edward Barber. I first thought that the reason why he’s given so much airtime is because of his good looks. Well, there’s some truth to that but I have to say that there’s more to Edward than just looks. He’s a gentleman. He opens doors for girls, helps out with the chores, and he remains to be that voice of reason when there’s conflict inside the house. He loves his family, and he’s never ashamed to tell people how close he is to his mom and his sister. I also like how he defended Maymay when some of the housemates teased him for hanging out with her too much, and how he makes it a point to be there for her no matter what. It’s also interesting that out of all the housemates, he understands Maymay the most and vice versa. He never judged Maymay for the way she speaks or acts, and although he teases her a lot, he also makes it a point to tell her that she’s beautiful. If a romantic relationship becomes a possibility for both of them in the future, I wouldn’t be surprised. For now, I choose to enjoy how their lives will pan out. Big things are bound to happen for these two, no doubt about that.

I have to admit, there are times when I feel bad for the both of them. Aside from being pressured to become a couple after confessing that they do have feelings for each other, they also have to deal with a lot of bashers every single day. While it does come with the package, I can’t help but wish that people would just back off and give them some space because 1) they’re still trying to adjust, 2) it’s not their fault that a lot of people can relate to their story and 3)you can’t blame them for being too comfortable with each other. People like that are a rare find these days and I think that MayWard happened to be at the right place and time. Their souls were destined to meet and you know it.

As for Maymay, it’s not her fault that there are people who find her beautiful (Edward, included) in spite of her dark skin, big eyes, and small frame. I actually find people who mock her physical features pathetic. We’re Filipinos, and our natural skin color is brown. Our obsession with being mestizos and mestizas happened when we were colonized but that’s for another blog entry. What I’m trying to say is that we really need to change our definition of beauty.

In a world where women are forced to fit into a certain mold and programmed to act a certain way, Maymay Entrata managed to break all the rules by simply being herself. She’s not a mestiza, and she does not have the curves that the society expects from women, she laughs out loud during interviews and that’s okay. This girl from Mindanao has so many gifts that she’s ready to share to the world, her inner beauty radiates, and she has a lot of heart. That, more than anything, is what makes a big winner.

I read somewhere that the fans and supporters of MayWard are hampaslupas and I guess I’m one of them. Seriously though, the world has a lot to learn from Edward Barber and Maymay Entrata. It may seem a bit jeje for some, but if you just look beyond the likes, tweets, follows, TV ratings, endorsements, and online bashing, you’ll understand that MayWard is more than just a love team. These are actual people with big dreams. They’re both set to become the people they were destined to be and that, for me, is enough reason to support them.

Padayon ug salamat sa inspirasyon, MayWard. Skrengge (whatever that means, hehe)!

 

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

Eco Choices: Water Hyacinth Keychain

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Water Hyacinth Keychain | Canon 550D

This is one of the mini projects I’ve been working on for weeks. We’ve received a lot of requests to produce water hyacinth keychains but since we were very busy, I never had the time to sit down and work on design concepts and prototypes. Finally, after a lot of edits, we can finally launch these handcrafted Water Hyacinth Keychains.

Made with water hyacinth paper, brass plated metal, and semi-precious stones. You can use these to accessorize your bags and wallets. It can also be an instant necklace once you add a chain.

Each piece is unique. No two pieces are the same. Available at Eco Choices

While You Were Sleeping

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Siesta | Canon 550D

Third week and the daily grind is starting to affect Project 366!Gah. Backlogs. Anyway, I was in the middle of a product shoot when this was captured. Despite the cozy pillows that we placed on his sleeping area, he prefers this spot near our window.