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.

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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.

😀

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.

Wanting to be Desired

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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.

🙂

When Lourd de Veyra Said High School Teachers are Amateur Basketball Players

Quarter life crisis, I thought, has ended for me until I recently turned 26. I felt the crisis became even stronger, my main dilemma– don’t know if what I’m doing makes sense.

What are the things I’m doing right now.

1. I’m finishing my MA in Comparative Literature.

2. I’m enjoying a lot of different sports like badminton, ultimate, and volleyball.

3. I’m still singing in a church choir with people I adore.

4. I’m self-studying photography with my point and shoot camera.

5. I’m happily dating someone but have doubted relationships since things happened.

6. I’m learning my Spanish for an exam.

7. I recently got back into baking and cooking.

8. I’m working on my investment portfolio.

9. I started traveling last year.

10. I’m teaching kids in hopes of helping change the country.

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In all of these, I wonder, why? Why do I do these things? What sense is in them? These questions make me feel my infinitesimal existence, insignificance. I suspect pride and constant comparing of my life to others are the main culprits. Add to it my inferiority complex, my lack of self-esteem.

I recently read about this dude named Daniel Norris. This up and coming major league baseball pitcher scored a two-million dollar signing bonus but decided to stay in a Volkswagen van worth 10,000 US dollars, even taking shifts at a store to work during off-season. At age 21, he seems to have figured himself out, not caring what other people say, ignoring the lifestyle easily accessible to him.

Inspiring.

I wish I had his strength, his talent, his eccentric way of living life. I wish I care less for what people have to say. I wish I can stop comparing my life with this cool baseball guy and start making my own.

Among these things I do, I feel quite sensitive about teaching as it has been central to me as a person. I used to be super sure about teaching, specially teaching kids from not-so-well-off families because I pray that one day they might improve their families’ lives. Now I know that kind of thinking is greatly idealistic and I’m not even sure if teaching actually makes any change, specially in basic education. Anyway, all society has for basic ed teachers like me are sentimental awwwws and ooooohs. I always get the question, are you a teacher or a real professor? As if being a teacher to kids is not real. In an interview of Lourd de Veyra of Rebecca Añonuevo about the proposed changes in the Philippines’ educational system, he paralleled professors to PBA league players while high school teachers to amateur basketball players–a reason for de Veyra to point out why it is ridiculous for the government to turn professors in college into high school teachers. There are reasons this move is ridiculous, high school teaching being callow isn’t one of them. I initially took offense, but then realized Mr. de Veyra is probably just a victim of society interpellated to look down on basic ed teachers like me. The way he nonchalantly made the parallel says so much about him as a media personality but also of society at large. It’s disgusting how he made the parallel (also his gestures that seem out of control) but then most people think the same way.

And so I come to this conclusion which isn’t rocket science and can easily be deduced by any one–I have to care less. Probably a paradox that to care less is to care more. The moment I get used to not minding what people say, then maybe I’d find more meaning in what I do, meaning not dictated by anyone but by the experience itself.

Either that or I should just stop watching Lourd.

Practicing Happiness

The most valuable lesson I learned from 2014--Choosing happiness needs practice.

And so I would like to choose happiness by expressing gratitude for all these ten people, places, things in my 2014.

1. The people I met in Yoga, Ultimate Frisbee, and Badminton. Everyone knows how far I’ve recovered from my breakup (haha) and meeting you guys helped a lot. Really, A LOT.

  • To the yogis, specially my teacher, Ms. Abbie, thanks for sharing inner peace with me. I will never forget the tears that day when I was able to do the headstand on my own after months of practice. I learned how patience and kindness can push you, nay, teach you to do things you never thought you can. Then there’s Ish’s harsh but amazing wisdom, Elie’s unwavering trust, Jeff’s snobbish/ highly focused discipline. Then the Daquil siblings, one saved my life in ways she can only imagine, the other showing me what not to become when I grow up (kidding!).
  • To the discheads, Laagan. I miss playing with you guys. I’m working on my knees for now but I will be back for the Summer League. I promise!
  • To the badminton crew; I’m so thankful I signed up in that FB page and met you guys, Bambi, Grace, Wamer.

2. Yoga, Ultimate Frisbee, Hip Hop Dancing, and Badminton. From headstands, to leagues, to crazy footwork and lunges, to corpse pose, to every movement (or absence).

3. Traveling. Again and again, I’m amazed what traveling does to me. Maybe it’s the nomad in me who seeks adventure, or the free spirit that makes me want more, learn more.

  • Singapore
  • Siem Reap, Cambodia
  • Yogyakarta, Indonesia
  • Bauang, La Union
  • Yacht Club, Subic

4. My roomie of 3.5 years, I know you miss me. Thanks for all the past-our-bedtime stories, the bitchy compassion, for everything. I’ll always be a friend no matter how many guys you meet. Haha! Seriously, thanks for all the life-lessons you’ve taught me vicariously.

5. Koro Stigmatino, for letting me still sing with you guys even when I sometimes go MIA with all the other things I’m doing.

6. Music, I can’t imagine my life without music: singing in the shower, walking in the MRT station while imagining my life’s a musical and doing that random shuffle I’m sure people who see find weird, reading notes, playing the piano.

  •  Dancing. I don’t know how it gives me peace, but connecting one step to another by feeling it rather than memorizing it feels ethereal to me. Then again, randomly dancing in my bedroom gives me that same feeling.
  •  Choreograpy. Teaching choreography to two choirs with one hiring me and helping them bag the third place in a national competition.Who would have though? What the heck am I doing? Who am I?

7. For having only an alarming borderline uric acid and cholesterol levels, which means I still have a chance to fix my effin eating habits.

8. My other firsts

  • First pride march! It was liberating even for an out gay dude like me. I met a lot of cool people and realized I only have an inkling of what diversity is.
  • Man of Honor! (I was like, whuuuuuut?!) I know the chance of me getting married is low, so being man of honor to my best friend was just crazy unbelievable! Thanks, Anna and Ron. I love you both!

9. For my family and learning that as we grow old roles are blurred and everyone just becomes human, which fore me means to love each other more despite everything.

10. And to you Big Guy Up There (yes, I’m consciously choosing a male persona). Beyond religion, I believe in the “greater scheme of things” even when people make me think You hate guys like me, I know your love is just beyond what any person (believer or not) can comprehend. Btw, thanks for sending me this super cool guy who doesn’t have Ben Affleck’s bod but has a super sexy heart.

There you have it, gratitude to start the year.

Happy New Year