ATM: 31 August 2017

Starbucks, Robinsons Las Pinas. 9:30 pm.

  • Bake a chicken pot pie
  • Blog about crossfit
  • Practice and nail my Kipping pull-ups and Toes to Bar
  • Qualify in the Fittest Team competition
  • Increase my lung capacity
  • Study Half the World Away by MusicLabCollective
  • Finish Chapter 3 and 4 (MA Thesis)
  • Buy my first mountain bike
  • Start and stick to my diet

There are so many things on my mind. These are just a few. Need to really organize and discipline my self.

Cheers!

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Lonesome

Things are different now that I am back home working for our small company.

Paradoxically, I have never felt this far and detached from my siblings despit how physically close our rooms and beds are to each other.

Misunderstandings, lack of communication, unresolved issues, and probably different love languages have put me in a place where I don’t talk to my sister or my brother anymore.

I have never been this sad.

Ironically, the music playing in my spotify as I write this post in a coffee shop is telling me “It’s Gonna be Okay” (The Piano Guys)

My bro, sis, and I grew up playing musical instruments together–my sister on the guitar, my brother on the violin, and me on the piano. We’d sing for hours when we felt like it.

Now we pass by each other in our quaint home without any word to each other.

It didn’t use to be like this. I know this didn’t happen overnight. I also know I played a part why this is my now.

For now I’ll focus on finishing my thesis. It is difficult to write with a heavy heart though.

#

Food of Christmas Past

I grew up surrounded by lolas, uncles, a mom and aunts who cook great, delicious food. I often watch them cook and skittishly wait to taste the scrumptious dishes.  And though I never thought of signing up for culinary,  I am not an absolute noob in the kitchen. At the very least, I own a couple of pans, an all-around santouka knife, and several cookbooks. I’m also familiar with the mother sauces (but for different reasons, one of which is just because saying “mother sauces” sounds cool like killing the “mother boss” in a computer game).

The first thing I learned to cook are fluffy, buttery, scrambled eggs. Learned it from my Tita Yumi who taught me to appreciate low fire cooking, proper egg beating, and the power of butter. The first real dish I did cook, however, was bistek for our Home Economics class in fourth grade.

So from time to time, I’d cook food specially when my young brother and sister wanted to eat or during holidays. Here are a couple of dishes I did for Christmas 2014. SAMSUNG CSCChicken Pandan

SAMSUNG CSCPad Thai

Now that I’m back at home and with a little bit of extra time, I’m cooking more often and learning more on my own.

My first project in the kitchen is to record my favorite recipes from my family. Most of them are made from memory and it’s sad to think they might get lost eventually. I regretted not recording the dishes of my late Lola Goring who I loved dearly.

Here’s a list of recipes I need to make an archive of.

  • Lola Goring’s Adobo (which I’m starting to perfect)
  • Lola Goring’s Bistek
  • Lola Mamang’s Mango Iced Candy
  • Lola Masa’s Menudo
  • Tita Yumi’s Scrambled eggs
  • Tita Yumi’s Baked Mac
  • Tita Yumi’s no-bake, Blueberry Cheesecake
  • Mama’s steamed Embutido
  • Manang Lourdes’ Spaghetti

So there, I’ll probably create an actual book one of these days after I collect all the recipes. Smell and taste are great memory  deposits and I have to collect them before it’s too late.

For now, I’ll have to think of what to cook for Christmas.

A Teacher, a Disc, and Ultimate Frisbee (Part 2)

sentinels_cuo_2016Sentinels train Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8-10 in the evening and as always, discipline is the first thing you have to have if you want to improve.

As much as possible, I work around these scheduled trainings, setting meetings on other days, finishing tasks beforehand, and sleeping early the night before because inevitably, trainings the next day end late. You don’t want to be tired the entire week at work because of sports, do you?

When you train, you get stronger; but at the same time, you figure out your weaknesses. Apparently, I am one of the slowest, shortest, and most inexperienced players in the team. Though teammates–who have become friends–are always supportive, your deficiences will always come out specially when the game gets tough, when pressure gets to you, when your opponents are that strong.

Handling pressure. Mental toughness. This is my first weakness.

So far, there are two things I am confident in doing–choral singing and teaching. When I do these things, the pressure and anxiety I feel easily convert to energy and an all-around good feeling. I have been singing since I was young and I have been playing pretend-teaching since I can remember. These two are almost natural to me.

Sports, however, is a different story. I love sports. I easily learn technique and rules. I seldom am the best, but I can play and not make a fool out of myself (except in basketball, which is a different story altogether). The thing is, though my parents brought us to parks, taught us to bike, allowed us to play outside, sports was something they weren’t too excited about. They never allowed me to join a Milo sports clinic claiming it was expensive, but then they had money for my piano lessons. Weird. I don’t regret attending music school most of my childhood, but I did really want to discover a lot of what I can do in sports.

When I was in grade school, I was invited to play for the varsity, but they didn’t allow me to tryout. I guess because they see a lot of kids who get bad grades after joining the varsity program. To me it was unfair that my cousins were playing football for an all-boys school, while I can’t even tryout for my school’s volleyball program. So I had to settle for annual intramurals across sections and grade levels.

Then there was this boy named Andre.

Andre was a classmate who was an all-around athlete, the epitome of a jock whom everybody adores–teachers and students alike. He’s cute, tall, athletic. My grades were way better than his, but let’s face it, who cares about grades in the sporting world?

It was through him that I first experienced what being a bench player meant. It felt bad, specially that I was just an elementary kid then. It was always him playing, it was always his name everyone shouted, it was always him people praised. Though I learned a lot from this memory, the feeling of being second best apparently stuck with me and my sports endeavors until I grew older.

I tried sticking to volleyball as my main sport because it was my first love. I played setter for my High School team which didn’t train consistently and was thus mediocre, joined a club in college, and then regularly went to pick-up games when I graduated. I even joined little leagues. The thing is, these venues were not clinics. You had to have a certain level of skill to be able to play at par with other players. So though I had the basic skills a setter needed, I barely had the confidence to be the play maker setters are meant to be. It was frustrating how pressure gets to me, causing bad sets after bad sets. What’s even worse are the faces your friends make when you make mistakes setters shouldn’t be committing. I can’t blame them.

After a bad injury, and years of continuous hurt confidence, I decided to let the sport go. I still enjoy playing the game, but I also know that unless  I enroll in a sports clinic, it would be a viscous cycle for me where I try hard, get eaten by pressure, and feel frustrated.

I quit. Not because I gave up, but because ultimate frisbee gave me another option. It was a game I have come to love because of the adrenaline and the sprints, not to mention gender equality as by default it has girls playing with guys. To top it all, teams in the metro train for tournaments. You show up, you learn, you improve. Progress was visible and available.

And so I trained. I started cross-training even. Went to the gym, attended practices. Pressure was still getting the better of me but my confidence was slowly building, and  my game was improving. I thought these would be enough.

They weren’t.

Moving back to my hometown presented itself as a new challenge. Now, not only do I have to sleep late after trainings and wake up early for work the next day, I also have to travel a total of four hours just to be able to keep training with my team.

It was draining. This effort plus the confidence and skill I am just building (though it has already been over a year) was not yet enough to make me a good player. I still “stutter” in games and make mistakes when I’m pressured. I’m training to be one of the handlers which is like being a setter in volleyball, which also means you have to be sharp and accurate in your throws and catches.

One Thursday however, I felt all the pressure and fatigue of travelling and training hard as you can  crumble over me. Things I did still wasn’t enough. I almost wanted to quit. Mental tenacity wasn’t easy.

Then I reflected.

Aside from the physical demands of any sport, self-esteem is a big factor. I have been doubting myself particularly in sports since I probably played next to Andre. My parents’ not allowing me to pursue sports and my self-proclaimed insufficiencies such as being short, heavy, and flat-footed didn’t help. To top it all, growing up trying to come to terms with my sexuality made things a bit more difficult in the world sports where hyper-masculinity is almost always the standard.

So I took a one-week break from frisbee and I decided I can’t attribute my lack of self-esteem in stories of the past. I have to face this self-esteem issue, bounce back, and play better. I have to stop comparing myself too much to other players and keep training. All these issues shouldn’t stop me from improving in a sport that I have come to love. At least that’s what a lot of different articles I have read say.

I bounced back just it time for my team’s last tournament for 2016. I signed up for Crossfit to prepare for next year, I started watching my food intake to lose weight and be more efficient in running, I even started training with another team to get more experience. All the effort, all the hardships. I was so excited that I think I performed well in our first game in that tournament.

I ran faster, I caught discs better, I jumped higher.

And then I fell and twisted my ankle and I was out for the rest of the weekend tournament.

One game out of seven. Funny how life happens.

And so, I am typing this post with an injured ankle. I will be freezing my crossfit membership tomorrow. I have been reading ways to exercise without the use of my feet. What a bummer. I was told I had to recover fully before I start with crossfit and play frisbee. Ironic. Just as I was getting there, overcoming obstacles, and developing mental strength, things happen. It’s almost like I was tested right after learning about something.

Haha!

Then I realized one more thing. It wasn’t just the game and improving my self that keeps me playing. A big part of all these effort is to make sure I do my best for my teammates. Not because I want to please them, but because I want to match the effort they put in. Mental tenacity is also created by teammates, by friends who must have their own struggles like you. No one in the team is being paid to play. Though we play for different reasons–may it be for self-improvement, self-validation, or just for plain fun, we play it together. And maybe their is strength in doing just that–knowing you’re not alone, knowing you enjoy the game with others.

So there, that’s how frisbee has change my perspective. I guess this post is both a reflection and a plan–how do I bounce back? How do I keep going? How do I improve myself? Essentially, how do I grow?

And I guess that will be for another post, probably in three years, when I turn 30.

😀

A Teacher, a Disc, and Ultimate Frisbee (Part 1)

Looking back, I find it funny how I came across this sport.

Valentine’s night, 2014. Seven months after a breakup, I decided I didn’t want to stay at home so  I dated myself. After all, it was my first valentine’s alone in three years. I bought  a book, ate at a decent Japanese diner, and walked home.

As I was sniffing the scent of my new book while walking, I noticed all the couples walking with hands held, carrying stuffed creatures and bouquets of plant life. Suddenly, my book seemed a little less interesting. With a tinge of bitterness and a sense of humor, I updated my Facebook status saying something like:

What’s up with all the bears and flowers and couples everywhere?

Minutes after I hit the post button, a window popped-up. It was my friend, Harry. telling me something like:

Instead of sulking in bitterness, why don’t you join us in a friendly, frisbee pick-up game tomorrow in the university.

I have always wanted to try the game anyway since a roommate back in college invited me, but  I had a lot of things going on for me then that I didn’t have the time. So, with nothing to do, I  said yes.

15 February 2014,  Saturday was the first time I tried playing the sport. Two minutes into the game, I was already panting. After a point, I just wanted to get out of the field and just lie down on the grass. I was definitely out of shape and have never ran that fast and that frequent.

My sports usually had a net in between. Volleyball, table tennis, and badminton never required me to run as much, but it was running in sprints that made me really interested in ultimate frisbee.

In the few times I entered the playing field on that Saturday, with no throwing skills and relying only on volleyball to always be where the “ball” ( in this case, the disc) is, I enjoyed every moment where my lungs was trying to keep up with my legs, where my eyes were entirely focused on the game, where people’s shouts were shutting off other thoughts I had, when things seem to be forgotten for as long as you were inside the field, and life was a bit simpler. It was almost peaceful.

The peace I experienced in those fleeting game points and the quest to be healthier made me want to learn the game more. Two days after, I joined a bunch of couchsurfing dudes in a beginner’s night at the Meralco Field in Ortigas, had diner after, trained for two months and became a member of the now defunct team, Laagan.

laagan

Laagan is a Bisaya word for Wanderer as most of my teammates were experienced travelers, great people who love great adventure. I learned a lot from them. In fact, several inspired me to travel alone, which I have been doing since then.

The thing is, only a few of them were really committed to the sport. People came and went, others only showed up in tournaments without training. Eventually, it became frustrating to those who were committed to improve their game.

I played from February until July of 2014. Then I stopped almost entirely as I had to focus on other things. I tried to get back in April 2015 but got injured in volleyball so it wasn’t until October that I committed again to the sport. By then, some of the Laagan made another team named Ultimate Bacon Experience (UBE). I trained with them hoping to be absorbed. But before the team’s first tournament, the team manager and one of the founders decided she’d be better off with a higher pooled team (we were in Pool D, then). So, it was uncertain where the team was headed.

Before the year ended though, some members stepped up and decided to rename the team with a serious goal yet a friendlier vibe. After one of our pick up games and trainings, the team Sentinels was created..

Never did I , as a recreational athlete, imagine that I’ll be part of team of nice and competitive players where my love for sports will be challenged and pushed to its limits…

COO

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COO. Child Of the Owner.

A term I learned from frisbee teammates making fun of what I was to become then. Now that I have started working for my mom, I am beginning to understand what it means and all the changes it has brought and will be bringing.

I spent high school in Manila, did university in Quezon City, and got invited to teach in the same institution until recently when I resigned. In those sixteen years, I was barely home. Even in high school, I only went home to sleep. Most of my time was spent in the daily commute and studying. When I started working and renting my own space, I was only home for the weekends and holidays.

But now, all I have to do is wake up, wash up, dress up, eat breakfast, cross the threshold, and voila! I’m in my office. I’ll explain how our house and my mom’s school has mutated together in another post, but for now, working in my hometown right beside our house is one of the biggest changes. No daily commute, no fares, no people watching. It seems more peaceful now. It’s like I’m working from home, but no really working from home.

By the time I wake up, my sister, brother, and dad would have all gone to their offices, which leaves me and my mom quietly (and groggily) preparing. I have plans to fix this, maybe eat breakfast with my mom in the future, however right now, there is that peace that I do not have to beat traffic and I don’t even have to see people and cars rushing. It’s just I preparing to go to work. The work itself isn’t easy as I am now handling multigrade, then again teaching was never easy to begin with. But for the first time in six years, since I started working, I seem to have more control of small, but important things, in my life–including time. The picture above is me doing cooking and photography–two things I love but didn’t have time to pursue.

Ironically, the second change I am adjusting to, are the rules. Despite being a COO, I have to follow rules now more than ever. Of course I can’t be a bad example to the other employees. This, sadly, includes wearing a uniform. I was never a fan of uniforms, but apparently, having a uniform saves a lot of time. Now, I only have to think of what pants and shoes to match the polo shirts with. It’s Blue, Yellow, Red, and Green for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday respectively (for now, I get a Fridays-off perk to focus on MA!).

The biggest change however, is the gravity of having to work for you mom, the immense responsibility of learning about the business, and the seriousness of the possibility that I might be running the business in the future. I was really agitated at first. I even locked my keys inside the car once because of worrying. The worrywart in me sees so many ways this business could go wrong, and how I can be the reason it goes wrong. Reading Arundhati Roy’s God of Small Things didn’t help. When one of the characters, Chako, an Oxford graduate, with brilliantly grand ideas, took over his mom’s business, it was the start of the business’ downfall (and the story’s denouement).

  • What if I fail to anticipate?
  • What if fail to bring change and progress?
  • What if the school gets left behind in technology and trends under my watch?
  • What if people would stop sending their kids to our school because the COO is gay?

The latter being the greatest fear I have, which, again, will be for another post.

I can think of many things that can go wrong; but to be fair, I have also thought of things that could go my way. Top of the list is me, learning a lot about not just my craft, but also of running a business, dealing with people, procurement, marketing, archiving and records, streamlining, and finance among others. Not to mention, the maturity I can gain which I know I lack tremendously.

So there. COO. It’s scary. It has only been three weeks. Three weeks are nothing to what may be in store for me.

COO reminds me of babies cooing, all swaddled in blankets, fed and loved and kissed and hugged, reminding me of feelings that would make you want to just lie in soft blankets and sheets, and pillows, and sleep all day.

But that isn’t this COO. This COO is something you begin to be and you hopefully end up deserving to be.

I wonder if I’ll be a good COO.

COO.

Two Rights

My last day at my first job and I’m thinking about how the most kind people probably don’t get mad a lot, have lots of patience, and easily forgive.

As much as I try everyday, I suspect I am not one of them.

I do try my damn best to respect others. And when I see others don’t, I tend to go out of my way and rally the respect people deserve.

And whenever I do, I get in trouble.

It first happened in sixth grade when my alma mater decided to rid the school of all interest-based clubs (e.g. Journalism, Art Club, Outdoors club, etc.) and enlist everyone in scouting.

I didn’t like it.

After five years of freedom, we suddenly didn’t have a choice.

It felt infuriating, choking even. So I decided to do what I thought any sixth grader would, I rallied my classmates to a cause we all shared yet afraid to fight for.

I convinced the entire class, with the help of the class president, to boycott the club assembly. I thought that by not attending , we get to make our point and retrieve our freedom.

It was at that time I first used the phrase

With all due respect

I told the prefect of discipline and the cluster head of grades 3 to 6 that

with all due respect, we do not want to be scouts, and we would appreciate it if we got our right to choose our  clubs back

It felt scary and empowering to have uttered such words. I felt happy. I thought, this is probably what speaking for others felt.

Well, I did speak, but I lost our plea. We were forced to be inducted into this patriarchal club without a choice.

Ironically, I enjoyed being hosed with water in the scouting’s final rights.

Little did I know that this little anecdote would foreshadow little moments in my little life where I muster enough courage to help speak my mind, even if what I have to say isn’t the popular thought.

In each of these little moments, I learned big things:

1. Be respectful
2. Don’t be afraid to disagree
3. Get used to rejection
4. You don’t always get what you want
5. Choose your words carefully
6. What’s obvious for you isn’t always obvious for others
5. and choose your battles

Speaking one’s mind is never easy. Even after keeping all these lessons in mind there are a few things that can go wrong in fighting for what you think is right. The worst among these things is when people misunderstand what you say.

Your statement loses its meaning as you attempt to defend it. In which case you’d be better off conceding.

I have learned to concede through the years, specially when “commoner” me drives points against “Kings and Gods,”  even more so when my point is glaringly in opposition to theirs. A younger me would say a glaringly “right” point, but then remember that what’s glaring for me isn’t always glaring for everyone.

I realized, it isn’t always about getting the respect you want for others; it isn’t even always about driving a point and proving you’re right; nor is it about winning.

Sometimes just saying things, just putting it out there is enough. When you don’t win, you reflect. You see how you could have said things better, or is your right really right. For me, losing usually meant learning–how I would have done things if I were a”king”, how i wouldn’t have done things, what kind of “king” will I be, or even if I want to be one.

You see, I may have never enjoyed choosing my club again in grade school, but at least I made it clear to my classmates and even to my teachers that there are many rights in this world, and talking about these rights in this world is important, and that it requires guts.

I guess I started early.

🙂

Wanting to be Desired

image

In a couple of weeks I’ll be turning 27. I don’t have any qualms about aging except for one thing: the fear of not maturing enough-a symptom of which for me is the feeling that my struggles as a younger guy seem to still linger.

I have trimmed these struggles down to two–belongingness and the desire to be desired.

Belongingness

I have always been a misfit. I loved studying in lower school, I hung out with the girls, I like jackstone and ten-twenty. I did volleyball instead of basketball. I was categorized as soprano 1 in our children’s choir (which uses the SSA Soprano 1 and 2 and alto sections anyway). Boys teased me for being different. They kept telling me I was gay -I rhetorted that the things I did didn’t make me gay. Well , years later I found out they were right. Surprise!

I badly wanted to be normal. I wished then ten that my dad taught me basketball more. I prayed hard for an older brother that I know will never exist. I wanted someone to help me be one of the boys. It didn’t help that I was on the stout amd short side of things.

More than a decade later, I still want to belong. I can feel this when I’m with my ultimate frisbee team, it feels crappy that no matter how much I train, I still am a secondary player to all the big guys who can run faster and jump higher than I can.

I can feel this in the academe, where everyone seems smarter than I am.

I can feel this in gay communities, where everyone seems to be taller, hotter, sexier than I am.

I can even feel this in my family, being the only child who studied in three different cities during the three phases of school,  a know-it-all, sensitive douche  who talks a lot accordimg to his siblings.

And when I finally thought I belonged to someone I loved for three years, he decided I wasn’t good enough for him. I was crushed into microscopic bits.

Want to be desired.

I want to be wanted. I want to be needed. In sports, in work, in life.

Being gay quadruples this desire to be desired. A short, balding, stout guy doesn’t sit well in gay circles with abs, pecs, trapz, and what have you. It does not help that most are also more confident (bitchier, even) and smarter (or at least seem smarter).

In public spaces where I always seem to be the 4th wall in a scene where a tall, lean, gay dude is checking out another tall, lean, gay dude, there are times that I badly wish I was the one being checked out. I wish to the point of hurting.

Today

I used to fear not outgrowing these things. I was scared that I will forever have these feelings of inadequacy and that not overcoming my insecurities seems to only verify and strengthen my feelings of being different and inadequate themselves– like an eternal trap.

This was until I knew better, until I found out that I am maturing.

I used to fake cry and tell my bestfriend (now, my boyfriend) that it’s sad that I’ll never be a model. Well, there is some truth to that since again I want to be desired, but I think that as I was saying those words, acceptance was starting to fill the void that I have been feeling all these time. I began and still beginning to understand that I’ll have to be enough for my self.

I began to see the beauty that comes with all the frustrations I have with my self. In turn, these frustrations are turning to mere imperfections which are now resolving to become definitive of who I am, my own specifications if I were  gadget, my own differentiating set of qualities.

Now being different ceased to sound bad and limiting. It has started to become liberating, it feels reaffirming.

As I am writing this inside a van traveling home, my fears have lessened because it seems that I am maturing.

🙂

Life Projects

In a few hours a new year will start. Resolutions will probably start flooding social media, pictures will abound, and sounds of firecrackers will signal the start of mother nature’s suffocating night.

Now instead of writing things I want to do for 2016, here is a list of aspects in my life I am currently working on.

  1. Road rage. I hate drivers who cut lanes. I hate more those drives who let them cut lanes. I also don’t like being overtaken, so when it happens I race that car to get my lead back. Stupid, really.
  2. Emotions. I get easily agitated specially when I know I’m right. Now the problem is when I was younger, workmates and even family members made me thing being emotional is a bad thing. A few years later, I realized being emotional isn’t bad at all. Emotions make me care, they make me fight for what I think is right, they allow me to empathize with other people, they make me care. It does become problematic when I am not in control (read: road rage), but as I continue to understand my emotions more, they are becoming a strength. Indifference, apathy, and people pleasing are the worst. My emotions protect me from these.
  3. Diet. I am happy to report that I have fully boycotted Mcdonalds for the past two years. I don’t think I’ll ever eat a McNugget. This isn’t enough though. I need more greens and less junk. I am trying to listen more to my tummy and practicing intuitive eating.
  4. Lust. There’s porn. I am leaning towards the philosophy that I have to be in control of emotions and urges instead of the other way around. Not a prude, not religous, just a guy who believes that most things that have control over you without your knowing is dangerous.
  5. Spirtual life. Now that I’ll be turning 27 next year and learning more and more how sad and real it is that I don’t have rights as a gay person, let alone as a gay Christian, it’s hard to focus on praying when your priests tell you you’re a work of the devil, when your friends smile at you and your boyfriend but deep inside pray for the sin that we are, not necessarily what we do despite the tenets of the church. God tends to get lost in all of these. It is only in this aspect where I wish I was still a child. I wish I can still pray innocently without feeling like a hypocrite for praying because of what people say or what the church teaches.

So there. I am working on these things. I wonder how these will develop in 2016, but for now I have to prepare for mass in an attempt to develop maturity in weeding out the good and the bad things the church is sayung about me and my faith.

Happy new year!