Brave new world

Lately I have been bothered by my abundance of free time.

It's weird, really. People here and there have been jealous of how I could watch all the TV series and read all the books I want (and get more than enough sleep in a day!), while I, on the other hand, hate it. It makes me feel useless.

I don't know, I keep wanting to be productive and stay focused on schoolwork but my academic requirements (or lack, thereof) and many (impossible!) interests would beg to disagree. Perhaps I'm just not used to the idea of "not doing anything."

Less than a month from now will be our finals week and the days that will follow would be dedicated to getting our clearances signed and other graduation-related activities. Our days are numbered, so to speak.

I just found it unfair that for most of my last semester in college I'm just here in my room, checking Facebook and Twitter every ten minutes for updates from my friends about their adventures, when there is a world out there waiting for me to discover it for myself.

Don't get me wrong, I love the long breaks! I get to do the things I want, yes. I just think it's too much. And the fact that my professors this semester don't ask their classes to do a lot of work or that I don't have an organization in which I am active in doesn't really help. (And those free cuts make me feel like my scholarship is being wasted!)

I guess all this free time allows me to think more deeply, to look into things differently. And I hate it—or I'm just not used to it. I'm happy to be where I was a few semesters back, perennially occupied with deadlines, and not having to think about things like this. It was comfortable that way.

But maybe this is the transition, the opened door to the new life ahead. It's uneasy, I realized. But sooner or later I just have to face it. I have to have the guts to.

And as for my free time, I really wish someone would whack me in the head and remind me to make the most of it. I shouldn't put the remaining days to waste.



Weeks go by like days

In a matter of 7 days...

I made an appearance in 1 music video. Faithful by Wildfire is for the Building Faith Campaign of our Church, Victory QC, which was premiered during the Sunday service. If you check the 2:05 mark, you'll see my sister and I with what we're believing in God for this year, specifically for Ateneo: (to) open hearts.

Faithful from Nomer Manuel on Vimeo.

I crossed out 3 items on our Crazy Things To Do list for our Social Psychology class. With my pair and some of our classmates on Monday afternoon, we went to Star City and rode a famous attraction, jogged in PICC, and entered a five-star hotel in not-so-classy clothes. That it was fun would definitely be an understatement.

I celebrated Chinese New Year (for the first time!) through a Hap Chan dinner with 6 of my girlfriends. Our tummies were more than happy as we got back to the dorm.

I pledged not to watch all my shows until the weekend so I could focus on my schoolwork. (Only 5 of them had an episode this week, I think!) It forced me to think about my priorities more, that's for sure. I'm just glad to have reunited with them yesterday.

I was able to convince 8 people to let me give them either a proposal kiss or a frog hug for bonus points. For Social Psychology again, what else?! Our professor makes us do all sorts of unusual things, it makes us question why and how it is related to our subject. But I we really can't complain, we do enjoy doing most of them.

I took 9 rides to get to Roxas Boulevard and back, for my mom's business-related errand that she asked me to do. For a homebody like me, getting out of the dorm takes a lot of willingness and effort. So you must understand how hard it was for me to commute all the way to that area. But ranting aside, I did it because I had to.

I crammed/prepared for my 10-minute thesis defense presentation. Despite having to battle with myself every now and then, my defense turned out pretty well. Best part was getting to hug my thesis adviser afterwards. It was really a pleasure being one of Ma'am Guevara's advisees. And of course, I would like to thank Ma'am Tessa Rosana for being my reader/panelist. It was such an unforgettable experience, especially when they both agreed that I might have a future in the field of research.

I survived the hell week with 4 academic requirements. I know I should be expecting the consecutive hell weeks from now on, since our final exams are fast approaching, but I guess the thought of it hasn't sunk in me yet. I'm just so glad to have survived this week with grace despite my Philosophy midterm exam, Thesis defense, Social Psychology long test, and European Film paper.

And I celebrated the end of the week by attending 2 awesome events on Friday, NightLife and ARSAfest Rapture, with friends that I consider family.

That, ladies and gentlemen, was my week in numbers! Hope y'all enjoyed. 'Till next time!


The AJ Rafael Experience

Wednesday was insane.

I attended my first legit concert and met one of the biggest influences in my life, AJ Rafael. About four years after I encountered “I Just Want You,” subscribed to his Youtube channel, and pledged to be a loyal fan forever, I finally got the chance to see the man behind the computer screen!

Through the Internet, he was brilliant enough to share to the world his passion and talents of singing, songwriting, and playing musical instruments. For five/six years now, he has garnered millions of hits and fans from across the globe, has sold his songs on iTunes, and has produced his own album. His sold-out concert in Manila concludes his band’s Southeast Asian (Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines) tour. That said, I couldn’t help but be proud.

Perhaps I may be biased to liking him because he is a fellow Filipino—but it’s more than just that: He represents a part of everyone. That part in us which likes to express and be itself in ways it knows it can. Through his music and technology, he told his story—which isn’t much different from ours. He brought people together and got them talking about their own experiences of heartbeats and heartaches.

And he replies, he answers, he comments back! This, I believe, is what makes him as real and genuine as he is.

However, everything felt so surreal that night and yet the memories were still so fresh: from the worried looks on both my sister’s face and mine while waiting for the MRT to arrive (We were obviously running a bit late, as usual.), to the deafening voices of the crowd singing along to all of his songs (Some were a little off key…) mixed with the shutter sounds of the audiences’ cameras (to be uploaded and tweeted ASAP, of course!), and to the momentary embrace he and I shared during the meet and greet (!!!).

I guess to say that that evening was crazy would be an understatement.

Although I’m still a bit bummed that I didn’t have a picture with him (due to unfair meet and greet rules!), I’m not that worried. With talents as great as his and dreams as big as mine, I’m pretty sure this won’t be the last time we’re seeing each other.


I shall believe

With submitting three copies of my thesis, being able to get through my first Prayer and Fasting season, finding out that my sister Kara passed the ACET and got a full scholarship, joining Ateneo's attempt to beat a world record through shuffling during the A-Fair, going on a Quiapo-Divisoria-Binondo adventure, and having a heartwarming lunch date with Dess, who knows what else might happen in the coming days? Life has indeed been good.


'11 Proud Moments

Perhaps the best and only way to let go of the year that has been...

1. Gaining pseudo-independence. My twin sister's flight to Singapore marked the start of my year and soon made me feel like I'm in a new world entirely. I'm used to having her around and doing most of my daily activities with her that it seems like I've forgotten how it's like to be on my own. Her semester abroad brought me loneliness, but thankfully, the good kind: It helped me grow up a bit faster than usual.

Skyping on our first birthday apart

2. Finishing the (EB) race. I may not have gotten a spot in The GUIDON's Editorial Board, but if there's one thing the semester-long pursuit has taught me, it's never to give up on the things that made you who you are. For me, newswriting is and always will be one of them.

Blue Ballot, one of the many requirements

3. Starting a legend, sort of. Other than my GUIDON responsibilities, being co-head of the the first ever ARSA House Cup kept me busy. I must say I worked too much that semester partly because I just wanted to distract myself from personal issues. I know it may sound bad, but juggling monthly, weekly, and daily meetings was such a learning experience. Not only did it make me part of an awesome team but I also have understood a lot on how organizations actually work. Besides, I think the House Cup turned out pretty well.

We surely opened with a bang, with torches and all

4. Producing a heart-wrenching video. As a final project for our TV/Video Production class, my group pulled through and made this video in less than two weeks. After a short while, we received a lot of positive reviews for it and the A we honestly deserve.

Thereafter from Tboy on Vimeo.

We all want to be happy--if only we could stay happy forever. We cringe at the prospect of saying goodbye. But when something beautiful ends, it will always leave behind a special part in us. For the moments that once touched us, those things that we gave our all to, they will remain in us and be cherished forever.

5. Playing the sister act to overachievers. With Karina on scholarship for her exchange program in the very prestigious National University of Singapore (NUS), Kara and Kendi consistently on the top of their class, and Rafael finding his passion in soccer, being great at it, and eventually earning a spot in his high school varsity team (He's one of the only two freshmen!), it makes me feel blessed and honored to call them siblings.

With my sisters during their recognition day

6. Traveling abroad. For someone who has been itching to get out of the country for a vacation, I seemed rather calm upon knowing that my mom has finally booked me a round trip flight to a fro Singapore that summer—but fact of the matter is, deep inside I was beyond excited! My eight-day stay was, although with a maximized schedule due to a rather tight budget, everything that I could ask for. I visited every museum, mall, theme park (Universal Studios, ftw!), and university imaginable—only via bus or train! I had no problem; I had my sister as my personal tour guide. Who knows what four months could do to a person? I know for certain that she enjoyed so much, and I can't help but feel glad.

Beautiful Singapore at night, with my sister and my aunt

7. Serving as Head Dorm Assistant. Never in my years in college had I expected to be the one overseeing the entire dorm scholars community, but the job had my name written all over it. And how could I refuse when this was my only way of saying thank you? A rare chance like this shouldn't be wasted, and so I didn't. Plus, working with such crazy people is a good enough reason to accept. It was a great couple of months to be serving the dorm as an assistant, but even greater to help them and the community grow.

On our last meeting as SDAs

8. Dealing with Grief and Loss. Driven by both curiosity and choice, I enlisted myself in what turned out to be one of my favorite classes in college. I learned a lot and dealt with problems I have long ignored. In retrospect it is without regret that I took the class. As I have mentioned to my friends, it was like a semester-long session in the guidance office, only less boring and supplemented with a lot of fascinating activities (Blogging was my favorite, of course!). Thank you, Miss Cathy Babao-Guballa, for this wonderful opportunity.

My very personal blog for class

9. Strengthening ties with my spiritual family. I'm very much thankful to have such strong and faithful people to help me in my day-to-day endeavors, especially as I get to know God even more. They were the ones who believed that I can lead my own small group someday, and inspired me to grow more and deeply in faith.

On one of our several gatherings

10. Learning to spend my free time well. Although 2011 was the year the homebody in me found rest: saw a few movies, watched all my favorite shows and read a couple of novels, it was also the year the adventurer in me let loose. Along with family/friends, I took spontaneous road trips to Concepcion, Boracay, Tagaytay, and Subic. Besides that, I braved traffic and the tiresome commute (to Alabang once, Taft twice, and among others) to catch up with friends I haven't heard from in a long time, and even to make new ones. And to top it all off, I climbed a mountain! I guess this is me stepping out of my comfort zone, one day at a time.

At Tagaytay with the girls

11. Claiming "Thesis it!" I'm a final copy and a defense away from getting Thesis over and done with and I can't help but feel fulfilled. Here's to all the sleepless nights spent cramming for weekly submissions and the high grades I got away with anyway.

As I heaved a sigh of relief

I'm praying for better things this 2012. This is my year!



Aside from the countless wall posts, tweets, text messages, and personal greetings, and the fact that I am officially a year older, last Friday was pretty normal.

I spent it preparing for my first (!) Prayer and Fasting Season (finalizing my plan to alternate One Meal A Day and Daniel's, doing grocery-shopping, and attending the prayer meeting in the evening), having a lunch date with my twin sister at Chocolate Kiss, attending my only class—European Cinema, where watched Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others), and forcing myself to pay the infirmary a visit as soon as I felt a difficulty in breathing, with my cough and sore throat to blame.

I used to think birthdays had to be so special, celebrated with a cake and the noodles-type of pasta as tradition or something. But I really didn't mind not having neither. I know turning a year older should be more than that:

I thank God for twenty years' worth of amazing friends, wonderful experiences, and most of all, the best twin I—or anyone—could ever have. More than my birthday or my sister's, today marks the twentieth anniversary of the strong bond that pushed and molded me into who I am now. And quite frankly, I couldn't ask for anything else. Love you forever and ever, Nana! Happy birthday to us! ♥


To wish impossible things

Everybody's first day back to school was the last day of my Christmas break. So instead of the usual locking-myself-in-my-dorm-room-thing that I do, I gave myself the me-time I long deserved. Though I woke up extra early for my return flight to Manila in the morning, I decided to tire myself out even more and spent the afternoon commuting from Ateneo to Greenhills to Greenbelt then back to Ateneo.

At long last! In the photo ahead, in dear remembrance of the holidays:
  1. A late Christmas present - for my good friend Audrey for our barkada's exchange gifting,
  2. A birthday wish (granted) - AJ Rafael Concert tickets with meet and greet (!) for me and my sister, and
  3. Three New Year's resolutions - a) to take more photos, b) be and stay creative, and c) live a little a.k.a. get out of the dorm more
It may be the most stressful me-time in the history of me-times but all's well that ends well. Now I must get ready for school. I have this long Philosophy article to read and my Thesis creative project to revise—things I haven't at all considered when I was home.


Running to stand still

Yesterday one of my childhood wishes came true: I visited a carnival--and just a few days before I hit the big 2-0. For months now I have been searching for something like it but the perya at our town plaza has been nothing but a letdown; certain rides or booths are always missing. So when I heard about Maryrose Grand Carnival located behind SM City Iloilo, I just had to see for it myself!

In the afternoon, I came by to survey the place with my twin sister and two of our long-time friends. It held a hint of promise to it, and I liked how it looked under the golden sun. After strolling around the mall and having a Mexican food fest with some relatives, I returned with my siblings and two of our cousins that evening. My sister was right, the carnival did look better at nighttime.

We had a swell time, I'm glad it didn't disappoint.