Twenty Four

Wow. I’m on my 7th version of this now. I do this every year, one month before I turn another year older, where I look back on what I did for the last twelve months and see how’s my life going so far.

When I wrote my entry last year, I was in a place that I didn’t like. This isn’t to say my 23rd year was the absolute worst. It’s just that I felt stuck half of the time. But that’s all in the past. They really don’t matter as much. Because right now, as I’m writing this, I’m sitting in my favorite coffee shop, in one of the most magical places on earth for me.

My birthday usually falls on the end of the summer. Which means it’s annoyingly hot outside right now, and surely for the rest of May. The sky is clear today. It looks like the kind of blue that I love. And the trees in front of me are motionless. Why is it important for me to say this here, you ask? It’s because I want to remember where exactly I am as I draft this. It’s a yearly tradition.

My 23rd year started in my room. As usual, I waited for the clock to turn 12. The moment my calendar changed to May 26, I closed my eyes and prayed. I thought it was the best way to start the year. And I still do.

After I said everything that I hoped for, I consumed my favorite drink and snack and chocolate. Again, it’s a tradition. I am weird like that. After I went over through my rituals, I filmed myself for the sake of having something to remember one day. Up until this very second, I don’t know what’s my point for doing such things. I guess I’m just really crazy about turning a year older and I want it to be extra. So whatever.

My family and I woke up at around 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. because we were celebrating my birthday at the beach. I was excited but obviously tired since I only had 3 hours of sleep. I saw the first sunrise of my 23rd year came up behind mountains. My uncle was driving the car and my sister and my cousin were beside me. It was a satisfying way to start the day — or the year. I was sleepless but smiling.

We had breakfast at a fast food chain. Drove for couple of hours before we made it to the beach town. It was raining quite hard at that time and we were all down because we knew we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the beach. The resort and the view in front of it were both mind-blowing. Saying the place was Instagram worthy was an understatement. But it was raining so it was still a bummer.

An hour passed and — finally! — the clouds cleared and we started enjoying the day. God is good like that, you know. I had my yearly photoshoot. My sister and cousin — actually all of us — joined the bandwagon of taking selfies and groupshots. It was fun. It was great. I loved it.

We dipped into the pools like we owned them. There were no people around because it was a secluded resort so it felt like the entire place was ours. There were two hills in the middle of the ocean in front of us. I felt calm every time I stared at them while I rested my elbow on the edge of the pool. In that moment, I felt like my life was in a movie again — something that rarely happened.

One of my favorite parts of the day was when we spent our remaining resort credits on foods. We had so much of them that we ended up ordering different foods that could feed twenty people. My cousin and sister and I were laughing so hard just realizing how insane the situation was. As soon as we had enough of everything, we packed up and went home.

I guess I was dead tired from the running and swimming and eating and sleeplessness that I passed out on the car. Our car came to a halt and I jolted awake. I looked on my right and we were on a beach mall. Time for dinner.

We ate at this pizza store beside the mall and I thought it was a cool way to end the day. It was completely dark when we came out and the breeze of summer air was the only thing that I could smell. Spending time with my family on the most special day of my life was one of the best things that I did.

If I’m going to paint the picture of what my 23rd year looked like, it’d be like this: quite boring, but extremely successful. I didn’t travel much for the last twelve months. Actually, I didn’t travel at all. And I know you’re wondering what the heck was I thinking or was I doing in life. But here me out, okay?

I learned so much in the previous years of my life. I felt so behind because my resume was so weak and so shallow that I told myself, “Fuck it. I’mma drop my cravings and desire for travel and focus on being the best shit in my generation.” I was sick of being thought as the kid who is great but inexperienced. So I flipped the table and gambled my time. And it worked. It damn worked. Still working.

I continued to work as an accountant in the morning and built myself to be a better writer at night and weekend. I worked 7 days a week — I shit you not. But I don’t recommend this to anyone. Because just recently, I have realized that it’s mandatory that you give yourself one whole day to not do anything.

I worked really hard and aggressive and strategic. At 23, I had a book published by an inpendent publishing house in New York. It was a dream come true. I still couldn’t fully believe I did it. It was insane. I mean, at 23? That was huge. It was a hard process to go through and I spent a lot of time building my portfolio for me to get a book deal, but I freaking did it. I hustled and bled and succeeded.

Since I didn’t like the city that I was living and I felt like the company that I was working with was dead end, I revamped my resume and jumped ship. I bumped at this fast-growing company that has over a thousand of employees and so far I’m liking it. So far I’m loving the small and laid back city that I’m in. I’ve been sort of wanting to be here before. So I guess everything is kind of okay.

Before my 23rd year wrapped up, I made it to the featured writers page of Thought Catalog. This was another big deal. This was another dream come true. I feel like if I look at my life on an outer persepctive, I would say I have my life running fine right now.

I mean, I have my own apartment. Something I never had since I moved out of home 7 years ago. My day job is okay. I have a book that is being sold worldwide. And a lot of people know I’m a writer and that I write for an international digital magazine. Life at 23 was a great life on paper. I didn’t step to new places and felt magic, but I put myself in a good spot in life. I didn’t have it all, but I had some things good.

I sacrificed my time. I saved some of my money. I disciplined myself. All in the name of building my resume. And I am proud of myself for doing so.

As I enter my 24th year, I can’t give myself a guarantee that I would have worldly adventures. I’m still being careful with my actions after everything that I learned when I was 21. It’s important to me that I save money instead of impulsively spending them on travel. People don’t realize the power of money and where it can bring them, but I do.

No matter what happens to me, if I have savings, I can be anywhere else I want to be. I can start a new life somewhere. I have a safety net to fall back on. And I can afford to have an independent life.

I think the thing that I want people to learn too is the benefit of not comparing ourselves to other. It’s easy to be like, “Fuck he’s been to a dozen of places and I’m here living an uninteresting life.” But what we forget to ask ourselves is, “Do I really fucking want to have his life?” Because I can guarantee you, 98% of the time, you won’t. I think it’s important to really concentrate on our own paths and stick to our goals. We all want to achieve something. And sometimes we slow down because we allow other people to drag us with them.

I have woken up and learned how vital my 20s is when it comes to establishing myself. I know I can be something more and someone bigger. I want to stay grounded and keep following everything that I’ve learned from successful people.

In my 24th year, I want to just remain where I exactly am physically and become stronger. I might want to go back to school and pursue a masteral degree so I can add more bullets in my gun. Of course there are infinite things in this world that I have no control of. But what I’m ultimately trying to say is I won’t stop doing the right thing for me.

Yes I’ve done enough at 23, but I do recognize that I’m still young. I have an amazing and beautiful future ahead of me. With God, I know He’s guiding me to make it into the promised land. Right now, He’s giving me everything that I need. And I know that from here, I can only take one baby step at a time to get to where I am going next.


Twenty Three

Exactly one month from now I will be turning 23. I can’t believe I’m on the sixth version of this now. The first time I started this, I was turning 18. Six years quickly came by in what felt like a blink of my eyes.

A year ago today, when I wrote my first draft of what happened to me before I turned 22, I was sitting at the 2nd floor of Subway fast food, overlooking the Dubai Metro station and Emirates Tower. I just had my lunch. Everything was so different then. My mind was consumed. I was a little bit scared and uncertain with where I was, and with everything that I had. But I was keeping myself intact. I was fighting, with my head above the water.

Now, 12 months later — I am here, back in my home country. Back in the city I’ve lived for almost 6 years, sitting at a conference table, overlooking the city skyline. Saying a lot has changed in a year is an understatement. I mean, look at where I am right now from where I was?

How did everything happen so fast? How about we start from the very beginning.

Six hours before I turned 22, I decided to spend the night and wait until midnight at Jumeirah Lake Tower. That place always had a special place in my heart so I thought why not celebrate there? It was the first time I’d be welcoming my birthday outside my home and I knew it would be exciting. And it was — but not everything that happened afterwards.

I had my last dinner as 21 years old at a Chinese fast-food chain. I celebrated my pre-22 all by myself. I thought it was a good idea to think things through very clearly. I never wanted to turn 22 if I was being honest with myself. I had an incredible year and I felt like I didn’t want that to end. A huge part of me wanted to stay young forever — careless, worry-free, ambitious, don’t-a-shit young adult.

But I had no choice. As soon as the clock in my phone turned 12, reckless party would be over.

So I roamed around for a bit on the shopping boutiques along the JLT Boulevard before I head down to the beach. It was pretty dark already as far as I could remember. I saw this amazing grocery store. I never saw it the last time I was there, I thought to myself. I went in, bought some snacks to munch while I kill time before midnight, and promised to myself that I’d go back later. I didn’t care about the money I was spending, even though I was technically a broke 21 year old kid. It was my pre-birthday after all. I deserved a break.

Finally, I walked to the beach. It was quite dark but I was glad for the moon, the first-world country establishments, elite residential, and Movie Theater in front of the beach that gave tiny light to my surroundings. I knew the Palm Jumeirah didn’t give much impact on what I needed, but I was glad too that I could see it shining brightly on the distance.

I sat on the sand, breathe the salt pre-summer Middle East air, and allowed myself to unleash the real me.

I watched these two kids playing around by the water. Their parents were sitting not so far beside me, watching too. I wondered if they’d grow up to be the person they wanted to be. I looked at them and they seemed really happy and content with where they were, with what they had.

I stood up and had the urge to walk along the beach. There were few people still on the ocean even at around 8 pm in the night. I walked more. The ocean looked blue green. I thought to myself, “I would never forget this moment.”

I pondered about my life as I let my feet drag me further down the beach.

Am I really happy? Is this what I want? I’m so broke here. I feel like I’m living under the rock. Should I just go home? But I’m already here. Besides wouldn’t that be an embarrassing move to do? Especially that I spent the last four years bragging I’d be here sooner?

I was confused. I was somehow lost. Al though I couldn’t remember how terribly lost. I talked to God while I walked. I knew He’d help me. I was also worried about something else. Someone else I needed to save. I was worried about a lot of things in general. Money. Rent. Gadgets. Travel. Food. Savings. Choices. Name it.

There was this weird mist in the air I was having a hard time to explain. But it was like the wind was warm, but the ocean was cool, and they just sort of collided. I don’t know. I hope you could picture that out.

I realized I walked very far. So I turned back to where I left my bag and snacks and slippers. One more reason why I fell in love with the city real hard was that, there was almost no record of theft. You could leave your things and you could always find them.

I sat back to the sand. I looked at my watch. I had less than 4 hours to kill. What else would I do? Should I just head back to my apartment? This was silly. I pulled out my phone, inserted the earphones in it, then played Ariana Grande’s newest album. It was my pre-birthday gift to myself. I loved it.

I dragged myself to the tip of the ocean, careful not to wet my shorts, and listened to Ariana Grande’s songs while I twirled around the water, pretending I was on the music video, and being sexy. I was that weird. Really weird.

I got tired so I settled back to where I was sitting. I thought about my life more. My mind was bleeding — that’s for sure. I was 21. Did I truly know what I was doing? What my purpose was?

I was a very deep person. That was me in my normal habitat.

I got tired, sat back again, then made a list. I shouldn’t forget that to mention here. I made a damn list! One that I would love to call “Jinxed list”. Almost every item in there never came true. The content was stored in my iPhone4s. I should re-read that again. I wrote the list and promised to myself, “These are the things that I need to have or achieve at 22.” Which was bullshit obviously.

But in case you’re wondering, from what I could remember, the list included: having a go-pro, writing another novel, saving someone, focusing on career (?), save money (!), go back home to visit. And so on. I can’t remember them all.

So I was getting a bit bored. I browsed the shops more on the Boulevard, and went back to the grocery store as I promised to myself.

I walked into the store and I said to myself, “This is such a movie moment.” It’s kinda weird but I was starting to feel magic. Like, something was just so different. Like, everything at that moment was special. I looked around me in that shop and I swore I could live in that moment.

I went out with a huge cookie I guess and a ginger ale. A freaking ginger ale because I wanted to get drunk but apparently Dubai banned alcoholic drinks ever since, so I dumbly thought ginger ale would do. Freaking ginger ale.

Two more hours before Angelo officially turned 22! How exciting it was to celebrate by myself. I mean, wow!

I transferred to the back portion of the Boulevard and left the sand because it was getting late and it was getting creepy there. I sat on the well-maintained grassy area with all the beautiful night lights around me. Some expensive restaurants were closing behind me. I could still see the ocean from my spot all too well.

Different people walked pass by me. But it was pretty much spacious since it was a weeknight. Again, it was such a movie moment. I inhaled some air more.

I yawned. I was somehow dead tired, and my emotions started creeping in. I looked at the Palm Jumeirah. Still bright. And I finally faced that one thing that was looming on the surface.

The truth that I had no love life. That I felt lonely for most part. That I questioned myself if there was something wrong with me. But how could there be something wrong with me when I’m so dateable? All of my girl best-friends would testify to that.

But I was all alone, not only that night, but for most part of my life. I guess I shed some tears on that hour. I thought leaving my home country would make a difference in my romantic life but alas, it didn’t. So I thought about going back home again since being there was stupid anyway.

My then considered best-friend, texted me to greet me Happy Birthday and sent me a picture of, ahm, (N). She thought it was a crush joke. I thought too. But subconsciously there was more to that. And there was more to that story later. Specifically how N affected some of my decisions.

Few minutes before I turned 22, I was giddy and pumped and beaten up and sleepy. But pretty much alive. I counted down the seconds before midnight like it was a New Year. And I sung myself Happy Birthday. How sad right? I wished to the world, to God, to everyone or everything that was listening. Do I remember what I wished? Uhm. Not exactly sure. But they had probably the same fate as the lists.

Okay. Take a shift in your seat. This is the turning point of the story.

Not even an hour after I turned 22, shit already came bothering me. And it pretty much set the tone for my whole year. I know. It’s weird and strange and odd. But I felt like that moment, the world was giving me a warning sign.

What bad signs? I’d give a quick montage: no more bus, no more train. Had to take taxi. Paid almost 80 dirhams. Embarrassed myself to the taxi driver. Transferred to the only bus that would bring me to the apartment. 2 am and people had so much shit already. Bus driver yelled at me. I felt weak and just allowed him win over me. Said to myself, “Fuck this. Does he know it’s my birthday?”

Came home safe. Slept.

Want more bad signs?

Woke up in the morning with no breakfast. Cooked my own. Was kinda yelled at. Lunch was whatever. But good thing we had dinner party planned. More personal horrible story I wouldn’t share.

But unto a good one on my birthday, my Aunt — favorite Aunt — surprised me a bouquet of flowers. How lovely! Yes it was but… she was the first person who gave me flowers. But it’s okay! I was still sort of happy. Birthday dinner was okay. It was sweet, small, solemn, and yeah — unforgettable.

End of my birthday.

But wait.

Worse signs came in after that. And the world didn’t truly give me a break. Not even 3 days after my birthday, my entire hope collapsed.

I went back to the office with no birthday greetings. Nobody cared. My best-friend and few of my friends (?) tried to give pleasant wishes, but they were also just whatever. No surprise. No anything.

I locked myself in the toilet for Idk how long. Cried. Missed home. Felt the loneliest in my life ever. I was wearing something special and beautiful, for nothing.

But here’s the worst part on that day. I was called for a special meeting. I was lectured for not following a company policy for which I ignored, didn’t care, or was ignorant. I informed someone high-ranking through email about me taking a day off as I would celebrate my birthday in the most light-hearted and funniest email I sent in that company. But since I had no luck whatsoever, it didn’t work.

I was 22. It was the only day I took an absent. And it was the most special day of my life. Was that hard to understand or sympathize? Were people really that cruel? Would this be the life I wanted to live in the next 2 years?

I was heartbroken. And nobody knew, cared, understood. I am a human being. I have emotions and feelings.

Things changed after that. I felt even lonelier and purposeless. I had my lunch alone for couple of weeks that followed. I barely talked or trusted anyone. I snapped too easily to anyone. I just didn’t care at that point. Because I was a young 22 year old kid and nobody gave a shit about me. So why would I?

The best-friend I thought would protect me ended up not caring too. The person I had feelings for (N, this was you) wanted me out. The person I believed had a crush on me just stayed quiet, and chose to be blind. The person I shared the same roots betrayed me.

How could I continue to live in that environment? I was suffocated.

I tried to get my shit together and stick around for more.

Back to my personal life, maybe God answered my wish. I was on the lowest point in my life. Literally about to give up. Then you came into my life A. We met on the bus. (For those of you who’s interested in this meet up story. Scroll down and find a piece with the title “June 6, 2016”)

We dated. Or so I thought. No actually we were fucked up. We were complicated. But it was Ramadan. You were weak — I meant vulnerable — for the whole month. I don’t know what we were.

I was worried more, and worse this time. I was worried about the person I wanted to save, about A, about both of them going home. But guess what? We all went home. Wasn’t that the sickest joke?

Back to the working life, so we could wrap these detailed parts already. I tried to change, fitted in, swallowed my pain, and smiled like nothing was wrong. But I was just about to see the worst.

Before things blew up, there was this one morning and I could remember  so well. I was in your car N. It was Ramadan month, and as part of your “charity”, you gave me a free ride. Which was fitting because our apartments were only 10 minutes apart by walk.

While you were driving, I was on the back seat, looking at these tall buildings from the distance. They were all perfectly aligned. I wanted to take picture of that scene but was afraid you’d judge me N. What strike me, though, was that I felt something in that particular moment. It was weird. And I almost whispered to myself, “Take a look. Take them all in. You’re going to miss this.” It’s like I was saying goodbye already.

Maybe the universe was screaming at me, making me feel what was about to go down – a preview of what I’d do.

But before we go to that part, I have a question to ask.

Do you know how sometimes, it feels like you have a complete control over a situation, and one little decision can change everything?

Well, I had that moment. And it did really change everything for me from then onwards.

I was having a rough time at work, pissed off as usual. I compromised my liberty in response to your “charity” N. Because I’m the kind of person who has a heart. But you took me for granted. All of your folks took me for granted almost every day. And I’ve had enough. I was honestly tired. You wanted to take more of my freedom, but I couldn’t. What you were all doing to me was too much. Too much.

And if there’s one thing you should know about me N, as I write this, is that I’m smart. I know what I’m doing. What I did on that day was a thought I decided was right.

You don’t know this N, but when you wanted me to finish something and stay longer, I was planning to lie and walk away afterwards. I finished some parts of what you wanted. I had few couple of minutes of debating whether or not I should pursue my plan. A series of flashbacks passed before my eyes as I deliberately weighed my options.

I decided to do what I was about to do. I smiled. I turned off my computer. I stood up. I slung my backpack to my shoulder. I walked pass you. Then you were stunned. You didn’t expect I’d do that. You asked me if I was done. I said, “Yeah”, nonchalantly. You asked if I was sure. I made a hand gesture to confirm yes, and showed how defeated I was already at that point.

Did you see how defeated I was N? Did you even care?

I went to the pantry to get my lunch-boxes, then you watched me through the glass doors as I left. You found out I lied. I left my task unfinished, on purpose. I wasn’t dumb. I knew what would happen next. And I chose that to happen.

But did you know where I was heading N? Did you know why I was eager to leave?

I went to my cousin’s birthday. Yes Adrian. I picked you over them. You didn’t know this too. We celebrated your birthday while I was trying to bury my worries. I knew I was done. But I wanted to enjoy the night. I wanted to see you happy on your birthday.

Because, Adrian, honey, I will always choose you over them.

The following day was, well, the doomsday. I didn’t want to go through the details as few people knew the story already. There was a piece in this website where I told the part when I was standing at the 19th floor, crushed on the inside and so done with the world, while I looked at the highway below. I watched the fast cars raced through the streets and thought it’d be the last time I’d see them.

My final words that all of you folks would never forget was, “This isn’t the kind of life I pictured myself living in.”

It was the bomb that I dropped that destroyed everything.

The list I made before I turn 22 turned out to be defective.

I made bold moves. My theme on my 22nd year was: “Carpe diem that one great leap of faith and have fun for the wild ride.” And I did carpe diem the great leap of faith. Was it a wild ride? I bet.

Half of my 22nd year, I spent sort of lost. I didn’t know what I really wanted. I had no idea where exactly I wanted to be. I was weak. I had so much in my mind. I played a little too aggressively — impulsive even.

I admit that there were so many things in life I couldn’t understand or wanted to understand. All I knew was that I was young and I should be having fun. But I was wrong.

Half of my 22nd year, I spent redeeming myself. I gave myself second chances to do things right, to correct my mistakes, and to begin again. It wasn’t an easy process. Some days, I would get discouraged. Some days, I would regret for what I did. Some days, I wish I could go back in time.

But you know what? As I sit here right now typing this, I am wholeheartedly decided not to go back in the past.

Yes this city I am in right now is stupid. It’s killing me every day with its flaws and imperfections. But this is where I actually feel more at peace with myself than where I used to be.

I have a room for myself. I have a decent salary for my age. I eat take out fast food every day, as opposed to canned goods. I see my grandmother every weekend and it’s the best thing ever. I get to be in my room at the country side every weekend too. My work schedule is light. I have 4x more time here, and because of that, I am able to write for Thought Catalog. I can buy myself expensive clothes in here as well, but I just choose not to. Sure I probably can’t risk my money with chocolates, but will they just eventually destroy me if I go on with that addiction?

Point is, I should truly consider the substance over form. Intrinsic value over face value. It’s true this city is nothing compared to the beauty of Dubai. But I’m actually calmer here. I have more time here for myself, for the things that I love. It’s just a matter of opening my eyes and knowing what makes me really happy. And where I’m genuinely happy.

I recognize that I’ve let some people down because of my decisions, and I choose to silently ignore them, and proceed to living my life. But I just want to say to anyone who rooted for me, that I am sorry you realized I wasn’t that great.

But I think I’m allowed to make mistakes at this age, and figure out what I want for myself, and not for anyone else.

I know it sucks. But I’m trying to move on, be better. And I hope that you do too.

I will be turning 23 soon. It’s a totally different story this time around. Now, I’ve found my voice, my dreams, my goals, myself.  And it’s time to make the tables turn.

I am not scared anymore. I am no longer the 22 year old kid running around, always panicked, always worried. I am confident with the skills that I have and with what I can offer to the world. I know what I want to pursue and I have plans in my mind I want to execute patiently.

I see a bright future for me now and I know I can bring a one big success this year. I’m starting to figure out my purpose and why I am here. I am glad with the achievements I’ve had in the last five months, and I think I’m good for it to go on until I’m ready to make my own mark.

I am moving on slowly. And writing down my past allows me to let go. I am comfortable with my own skin. I barely have insecurities anymore. I only do what I love, and not pay attention to anything that’s irrelevant in my life.

I am happy and I think I’m living the life that I picture for myself. This year, I can feel that I’m going to be even happier. I trust myself, the world, and God more.

I am working hard day and night for some of my dreams to come into fruition at 23. I am excited for this year, for all the possibilities, for all the better experiences, for more amazing memories, for more people to meet, for more places to visit. I am more focused on my goal now, and craving for success, than I’ve ever been.

And I think I am finally seeing the stripes of lights, because I know, in my heart, that I’m heading to where I am supposed to be.


Looking for magic.

Six weeks on my second job and somehow I believe I’ve already adjusted to the norms, although not completely — I’m still convincing myself.

The first couple of weeks were the toughest. The risk of potentially pulling myself out was so high it would scare everyone who believed in my abilities and chose me to be part of their team. The only thing that made things extra rough for me was the place that I was in. I could never see any reason why I should fall in love with Manila, let alone feel the magic. But I tried to hold on as much as I could and while it’s true that six weeks were just short span of time measurement, I’m proud of the growth that I journeyed on since day 1.

Having a full time job means I get to put off creative things that I’ve always wanted to do for a while. Even if I get a 7:30-4:30 kind of job, I always just want to go home and lay on bed at the end of the day. My soul is literally fading at this point and my heart demands that I should make time for the things that I’m passionate about. I’m losing the magic and sadly sometimes I’m not even looking for it.

The thing is, maybe people who give me professional guidance three months ago were right. Maybe I should just concentrate on building my career at 22 until I reach to the point where I can tell myself I’m settled. Maybe I should start saving up money rather spending it like how a Millennial should. I’m beginning to see a vision for myself and I think I should be prioritizing what’s in front of me right now and what I obviously have a good shot at being successful. Because the honest truth is that no matter how hard I try to be a writer and finish as many books as I can, no matter how my heart tells me what I’m passionate about, no matter how much time I invest — the chance of my recognition as a writer is slim to none.

Tonight I made a decision to concentrate on my career and put everything else on hold. One day when I’m financially stable, I can go back in exploring the world and writing tales about it. I need to establish myself first so I can live in a city where I can look for magic again. It might be in Dubai again or Singapore or Hongkong or Australia or Cuba or even coastal places like Maldives or Fiji. Who knows? What I’m certain for sure is that I will not stop working hard until I get a chance to be in a place again where I can feel magic.

Forgiveness and Second chances

Forgiveness is a prerequisite of second chances — they complement each other, they go hand in hand. I learned that you can’t move forward in your life if you don’t forgive yourself, the world, and all the people you believe did you wrong. You can’t have second chances if you stuck yourself living in a place that’s long overdue. It’s gonna take sometime to forgive but it’s always worth it when you have those second chances later on. 

On the outside of my shell, I make it so certain that it’s shiny and strong. I stand with pride and resilience against all the waves the storm inflicts upon me. But when I’m all alone in my room in silence and contemplation, I cry. And just like any other human being, I let myself feel. 

It was painful. Perhaps maybe it still is. If I dig deep down enough, I might lose the battle and admit that I regret. But I won’t, maybe only partly. Certainly for sure, it crushed me. It was a dream I had at a very young age and the best thing the world had to give me was that I had it so easy — very easy some people wanted to try my shoes. But I took the dream for granted. I was that person who wanted something so bad but once I had it, I started complaining and never stopped. I made decisions purely based on emotion and as a result, I went home with an airfare ticket in my hands combined with a mountain of ego that’s bound to fall apart. 

 It did hurt. When it’s all over and I get to zone out of the game then look at it in an outer perspective, I saw that I wasn’t totally the victim I convinced myself dearly. I played my part as a villain too. All along I was feeding the bad wolf and it became me. As soon as I realized it, I put my head in my arms because I knew it was too late to go back and change everything that triggered the chain of events. 

I cancelled all my upcoming interviews. I wasn’t emotionally ready to work. I needed some fixing and so I packed my bags and joined my family for a long road trip travel. I took the chance to stare outside the car as the view passed by and breathe. I accepted the reality, the truth that I’d be stuck in the same place I was itching to abandon 8 months ago, the country and its system that never failed to disappoint me on a regular basis. Looking back to that 27th of June at the 19th floor early in the afternoon staring at a first-world country infrastructures and modern vehicles, I thought I would be blissfully happy fast-forward to the present. I asked myself inside the car, “Am I?” 

Thank God and the universe, my life forever changed the following night of our travel. It was 17th of August, a little close to a month of my post-Dubai. I was alone in the pool on an early evening, rain drizzling like a movie moment set up just for me, in front of the ocean, inside Casa Consuelo known as the almost tip of the northern Philippines, I talked to a Higher power and allow myself to think clearly about my future. That moment right there was when I forgave myself, I forgave the people who hurt me, I forgave the past. I prayed for redemption and another shot to make things right. 

In God’s loving arms, everything worked out accordingly. I passed both my scheduled interviews 3 days after. It’s a matter of faith, trust, and renewed relationship with Him. He gifted me second chances full of circumstances I wish I had in my previous job. He knew exactly what I wanted deep down and He gave it to me in His perfect timing. And I love Him more because of that.

Nothing comes perfect. I lived in a well-ordered city that I fell in love with but I hated my job. Now I have a job I might potentially love in the long run but live in a city I can’t fall in love. It takes hard work to stick around. It’s too early for me to give a final judgement about my second chances and I don’t want to be the kind of person anymore who strategizes so hard. I have the wheel in front of me and even though it might seem like I don’t know where exactly I’m going right now, I know sooner I’ll get to that place God knows my heart is wanting. 

The guy who grew a brave heart.

Remember the last time I wrote about you? I thought it would be the last. My friends were with me to back me up. I had all the support in the world. I was willing to move on with my life without you in it. But then, it only took one chat from you and everything began again.


You were like a tragic book that made me cry a little. I stopped reading you and stacked you in the bookshelf, never to touch again, because I just couldn’t go through the ending anymore. However my heart wanted to know how it’d feel like to progress in the story. So I went on and I did fairly enjoy the thrill. My guard was up, constantly waiting for the right time when you’re going to rip me apart again. It didn’t come so soon. I set a date when it should come. You decided it still wouldn’t — I was glad. And then one day you surprised me, without any prior notice, you crushed my heart and dropped it without hesitations.


I was floored. In fact, I lied awake up until 4 am in the morning deciding whether I should pop up some sleeping pills. I forced myself to sleep, told myself, “Fuck this, I’m too used to this.” But then it haunted me. I shouldn’t have gone through your Facebook profile at that point so I could have postponed the found-truth that you deleted me. I felt like I lost mainly because growing up, I always wanted to be the one leaving and not the other way around. You won the game and it did upset me horribly because I didn’t expect you’d be willing to play that dirty. I guess I wasn’t always right about people.


Two days before that we had the most fun of whatever relationship we had. I was ready to tell you my goodbye and I was okay about that. You promised me it wasn’t a goodbye yet, there would be one more. What I didn’t understand was that why did you have to remove me completely from your life? Sure I was aware I said something stupid in the day that followed but weren’t we clear about the fact that we’d still keep in touch no matter what?


It’s not in my discretion to tell what people they should do. And so be it. You opened the door and had your way out. I was ghosted. I didn’t know what it meant before until now. I’d still stick to the plan to use our experiences together in the book I’d write in the future. Unlike you, I’d fulfill my promise to cherish and remember the memories we shared. It was the closest thing I had in romance Azam. I wished I could have told you that.


I wasn’t the guy who went home crying with a broken heart anymore. Instead, I am the guy who grew a brave heart. The guy who can easily differentiate between what love is and what love is not. The guy who knows exactly how he should be treated and what his heart deserves. And most importantly, the guy who learns his best lesson in a painful way.


I guess I can start over now, wake up tomorrow and set my mind in a different perspective. The question about why I let you continue to be part of my life after the second meet-up is something I’ll try to find an answer to. But I’m trying to be okay now. Soon, I know I will totally be. There are so many better things that will come along in my way and you can’t be part of me by the time I’ll get to experience them. So it’s me saying goodbye after all.

Let’s talk about writing.

I can somehow sense that it’s a surprise for a certain number of people about me being able to create a book. I can’t blame them. I mean, at first glance I don’t look like someone who can correct grammars in just a whim or can compose hundreds of words in just few minutes. But I have my blog for over two years now and I have been writing since I was sixteen. I believe the existence of my blog plus my hidden writing works are the only credits I can show to people as a proof that I can write. Al though I don’t have yet a writing degree or any attendance to any writing crash courses, I think that doesn’t make me less of a writer. With vast proud and accomplishment, I consider and claim myself a writer and an author.

  1. How did my book started?

Back when I was seventeen, I have tried and failed twice in an attempt to write a book. I was filled with this magical feeling and I thought I just needed to get a pen and sat down for a while. Normally, I would end up finishing only 10 pages or 20. Either I ran down of inspiration or I just lacked of expertise and experience at that time which lead me to completely abandoning what I have started. I realize now that you can’t just force yourself to make an impressive masterpiece until you’re ready. You need to improve the efficiency of your skills in able for you to create an art.

So I took some time to practice writing randomly, which also gave way to the birth of my blog.

The formal beginning of my book was in May of 2014. I bought two notebooks where I could write whatever I felt like writing. I told myself it would be a training ground for me because all along I knew I would write a book one day so I thought if I wanted that to happen I should do something at the moment. My rules are simple. Everyday, I would write one page about anything my mind could think of, whether it was about my feelings towards the weather, or my opinion towards current issues, or my emotional relations to pop-culture, or a fiction story I could imagine. Due to my laziness I would always let a day pass without me writing a single word. As a punishment, I’d make up for it by writing two pages the next day. Until the 18th of April, I incurred four days penalty. I thought of the easiest way for me to finish a four-pages entry in my notebook. The immediate solution was to make a fictional story. That was how basically it started. It occurred to me that it seemed natural for me to do it. I reminded myself not to put some heavy pressure and just go on with what I was doing. I said to myself that I would continue writing and developing the story and I’d see what’s going to happen from there.

I reached over 50 pages and already I was blown away. I was like, “Oh my God I did it. I never done something like this before.” I immediately calmed myself and remain focused on the flow of the story I was creating. The original plan was only 200 pages because I told myself it was my first time to write and I had to give myself a break. However, in the end I done writing a 349 draft pages which was a really huge blessing.

2. Where did I write?

Mostly when I was home from the city because that’s where I thought I could write better. Al thought I tried to write few pages during my school days inside Manila, those parts were usually got out of the story or revised thoroughly whenever I re-wrote.

Of course you’re probably wondering now how was I able to write when I still had a school to deal with? That’s exactly a good question I need to answer. So as you know, I am a graduating student and the demand of school works were intense. I thought I should postpone writing for a while and resume it as soon as I’m done with college but I didn’t want to do it. My soul would feel terrible whenever I was not writing, and so I had to split my time between doing school works and writing. I made a plan that I would only write on weekends and weekdays would solely be devoted on school. However that didn’t went cleanly as planned because there were times that inspiration struck me hard like a lightning so I would decide to go home and continue writing whatever it was that transpired inside my mind. This massively explains the reason why I went home a lot and why I had a lot of absences in my classes.

3.What were my inspirations.

This is an interesting topic I need to address. It might sound strange to you but I got most of my inspiration to the stars.There was something about them that rung my artistry bell. It felt like whenever I looked up to the galaxy above, I knew right away that I needed to write. Also credits would have to go to music industry geniuses like Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran. Their songs helped me through a lot especially when I was trying to create important parts of the story. As to the inquiry if I have ever been into a relationship? The answer is an immediate no. I’d like to point out here that just because I didn’t experience the actual thing of what it felt like to fell in love didn’t mean I could not create and write a wonderful love story. I had to admit that my very own tale regarding romance was so boring I couldn’t even dare to make it as part of my inspiration. Al though the chapter 3 of my book was solely devoted to a somehow same experience I had in the past. More so, Connor Franta was a huge inspiration to me especially in the near end of my book. I could not pin a finger regarding the spell he gave me but by just simply looking at his instagram posts was enough for me to raise on my feet and write in an instant. Lastly, death served as a driving factor for me to write. I fear oblivion. I always thought that I didn’t want my story and adventures in this world to perish with me as my body turned to dust. Through writing I could share to the humanity all the wonderful memories I had with me.

4. How did I arrive with my characters?

Since I was a kid my imaginations were always wild and creative. I could create conversations by just talking to myself. My ability to create a fictional story was an edge and a legacy I had that the other billions of people in this world didn’t potentially possess, and I would always be proud of that. The characters inside my book were either based on my perception regarding the attributes I wanted a person to possess or based solely to what I saw through my friends. Writing isn’t just all about intense artistry, authentic human interactions can help writing to be a whole lot easier too.

5. My advice for all the aspiring writers. 

This will come off as a totally cliche but it is true that you have to follow what your heart tells you to do. You can be in a different field right now and far from where you want your life to head into but I’m here to tell you it’s okay. I’m also a late bloomer in chasing what I’m really passionate about however once I learn it I have this sudden crave in fulfilling and make it happen. If you feel frustrated with the slow improvement or the dullness of your calling, I advise you take time to develop your legacy. It will come in the right time, you don’t have to pressure yourself. Bear in mind that it is only you who can be the only source of telling the world how it should remember you. It’s terrifying to be branded with something you can never be proud of, so work hard in attaining the pursuits of your dreams.