Jan renewed his driver's license today. I already renewed mine last year so I shared with him my experience to set his expectations—the entire renewal process may take the entire day.

Since his license has already expired, I drove him to the Land Transportation Office (LTO) in the morning. His appointment was at 8am. I decided to leave the car keys with him because I reckon he would be done in the afternoon, and he could just fetch Rhett right after school. Then I took a jeepney on my way back.

I decided to eat breakfast the moment I got home, and just when I was about to take my first bite, I received a message from him.

"All done. Mga ten minutes ra."

Like what?!

Since when did LTO's system improve?!

Had I known, I could have just waited for him. It's un-be-lie-va-ble. 

But what really surprised me was his new found friend, Nica Friend. Or "my friend" as what people fondly call him. He is the most bubbly, fun, and probably the only smiling personnel in LTO Region 11 all of the government offices in Davao, or maybe even in the entire Philippines.

He is super friendly. He randomly gives out biscuits and water. He shares tips and insights (especially to new drivers and violators). He brings good vibes to everyone. And most importantly, he is warm, fast, and efficient—something most of our government employees apparently lack.

I started watching his videos when Jan told me about him and you could see me always grinning from ear to ear. I'm pretty amazed at how he can make the the drivers cooperate and dance with him too. Who else can do that?

Now, I'm probably the only person in this country who is slightly upset for having a driver's license that expires in ten years because I'd really like to experience, even for once, not getting exasperated with the slow and inefficient government frontline services. But I seriously doubt he will still be there when the time comes. With his affable nature and genuine public service, he will surely go places.


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Much has happened the past weeks. I don't even know where to begin. But I guess, I'll start with the news that we now have two feral toddlers to keep an eye on. Our little girl, Isabel, turned one this month. And I know I have already said that we won't be traveling until she turns two. But here I am, creating a toddler-friendly itinerary for our next out-of-the-country trip.

I am sure no one is going to disagree when I say that traveling with a toddler is a pain in the ass. I've seen it, experienced it, and proven it an understatement. Yet, we find ourselves turning a blind eye to the thought that with these feral two in tow, we may never be able to relax—which defeats the purpose of a vacation.

Bakit nga ba namin pinapahirapan sarili namin? Ever since, I have been questioning myself why Jan and I always subject ourselves to pain and exhaustion. 

Back then we would go on regular hikes where we'd temporarily lose a knee, a limb, or a toe; then we trained Muay Thai until our bones literally cracked and broke; later on we plunged into the stress of parenting children with close age gap (I love my kids but parenting? I'd take a broken bone anytime); and now, we're taking this parenting to a whole new level of inconvenience, chaos, and frustration as if it was not hard enough.

We still have three months to prepare ourselves mentally, though I know there's not much we can do about it. By the time we embark on this medium-haul flight, these feral two will still be very hard to reason with. They will throw a fit when they want to and will do some theatricals 35,000 feet above the ground to show everyone how we are failing as parents.

But of course, that's only how I play the scenes on my mind. I ought to be an overthinker prepared just in case.

Anyway.

I know most people have a different idea on traveling with little children. Hold it off until they're old enough to remember, they said. 

But nah. 

Surely, kids won't remember that we cuddle and kiss them every night. They won't remember the books we read them nor the times we took them to the parks and playground. But we still do it anyway. I don't see how it's different from traveling.

They won't remember, yes. But the smiles we see on their faces when they experience something new? That will forever be etched on our minds.

This is going to be the beginning of us seeing the world together and I. CAN'T. WAIT!

Still wondering how can we take good photos though.



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Yes, folks! I still play (with really long breaks in between). And yes, after 13xx hours, I am NOT YET DONE. I strongly believe that no Resident Representative (a.k.a Player 1), not one, has ever finished this game. I lost count on how many times I've tore down some parts of my island because new ideas and inspirations always come popping in. And when I "finish", I actually feel the need to start another. The possibilities are so endless! 

My island is a never ending work in progress but, at least, I have some update and I know it's getting better with each build. (Related article: my last island tour)

So let's start...
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For as long as I can remember, I have been skinny. While I can devour a truckload of burgers and still not gain a pound, being cursed with a metabolism that burns up calories more quickly than I can eat isn't always a good thing. 

I always had trouble finding clothes that fit me well. Size extra small (XS) is not exactly easy to find. Plus size women have a shop and an entire clothing line dedicated for them. But for the petite size? Not much. And I cannot always shop for children's clothes if I want to be taken seriously. So, I'd usually end up with these constricting, figure-hugging clothes because it's the only way for me to look womanly and accentuate my low-key curves. If I wear anything bigger, it would be impossible to tell me and a coat hanger apart.

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I remember it was summer of 2003 when I created my first blog. I did it out of the need to channel my inner Hulk who gets infuriated at life's slightest inconveniences into something rather creative. Then I got through that teenage angst phase and became mature (surprisingly). Started sharing my opinions—without being pompous, my experiences—the good, the bad, and the mundane, and pretty much every minuscule achievement and monumental milestone in my life. I have always thought it's not a bad thing to have something to look back to. 

I know people rarely read blogs nowadays. Most people crave for aesthetic visual content, usually in the form of a curated feed or fifteen-second reels. But then again, even though I have active accounts in most of these content-sharing platforms, I still wouldn't want to fully detach myself from this little old habit. I have not changed my content just to stay relevant. This blog is still about me and the mundane things I do. And it's reassuring to know that there are readers who have been somehow inspired despite the fact that my blog lacks depth and seriousness.

But for the most part, I have used this little space in the internet as a training gym to build and flex my writing muscles until I make it as a Palanca awardee.

It is just not happening as I have envisioned and planned it though. 

I often find myself slipping into a slump. And sometimes, I would stay down there because drowning in self-doubt is easier than believing in yourself. I even declined those offers to become a columnist for a local newspaper and a contributor for an online news publication because the mocking voices in my head tell me I could not do it. And I think my middle finger agrees. 

Look how swollen it has become. I guess gotta stop writing typing.

My writing journey resembles a roller coaster ride. There are the overwhelming highs and crippling lows, the slow and relaxing ascent, then the big exhilarating drop. The ride will eventually come to a stop, which is a good time to take breather before I hop on to the next, probably more challenging one.

The thing is, I have been riding the same roller coaster again and again. I have not improved over the years. And I am not talking about the technical aspects of writing here because I can say I've gone a long way when it comes to English grammar and composition. Of course, there is still so much to learn but I am at the point where I feel like I have mastered my craft... and not in a good way. To put it simply, I have been doing the same thing over and over. My writings have been trivial then and now because, well, it's the easier thing to do.

Five years ago, I dreamed of joining and winning the Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature. Four years later, I snapped into my senses and scrapped the idea of winning. Heck, it didn't take long before I scrapped the idea of joining too.

A few days ago, I was ready to abandon writing altogether after reading Atom Araullo's winning Palanca piece. I was impressed, inspired, and at the same time demotivated because it only proved how juvenile my writing skill is. πŸ˜…

And today, I know exactly why I couldn't muster the courage to start a draft. I have not been diverse in the things I talk about. Or maybe I am just devoid of ideas that I have been writing nothing but these simple, everyday occurrences in my life. Nothing of real importance. Nothing that leaves a valuable lesson or insight. Nothing that enriches the lives of those who read it. Nothing that's worth writing ten pages long.

I want to be better than that. I want to be brave enough to hop on to the next roller coaster and take the front row seat knowing there will be a steeper drop and sharper turns that I know would hurt. 

I think I should impose an internet ban on myself just to keep my thoughts clear of outside influences. The voices in my head—that are probably rooted from all the thoughts and opinions I read from others everyday—are getting too loud and destructive. I want to hear my own voice this time. 

And maybe, just maybe, I will discover a stronger voice. And maybe, just maybe, I will realize I can actually write something that is empowering and meaningful. Then maybe, just maybe, I will emerge victorious in a pool of professional writers and seasoned journalists.

Maybe.



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I saw this on my Facebook newsfeed today: 

Funny how Netflix can make it seem like a charming, cutesie, and heart-warming childhood movie...

Then completely destroy you without warning.

It happened to me too. It was 1998 when my parents started bringing me to Video City or ACA Video to rent out movies we can watch over the weekend. I remember dawdling from one aisle to another, scanning the shelves with movies I've never heard of, paying attention particularly to the covers and interesting tag lines. I lingered a lot more around the horror/thriller, adventure, and comedy sections. And then one time, there, on the comedy shelf, My Girl caught my eye.

On the front cover it read: "A funny and moving family film". I picked the empty VHS tape case up, flipped it over, and read the plot summary. It seemed cute and charming. You know, first love, first kisses and all. Maybe a little bittersweet. But hey, it's a comedy. What could go wrong? There's nothing like picking out a feel-good movie to take home on a Friday night, right? Damn, I miss those times.

It was funny, alright. But I suppose they have placed it on the wrong shelf. The shocking plot twist caught me off guard and it hit me hard. Emotionally damaging kind of hard. It was like Artax sinking in the swamp all over again.

It did nothing to my tear ducts though, if that's what you're thinking. No movie has ever made me cry—not even Old Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows, or Marley & Me (I also have the books of the last two). And it's not like I'm holding back my tears nor I am that soulless. I do cry. But my tears are reserved only for serious matters like finding out I forgot to push the "cook" button on the rice cooker an hour after I left it and everybody is already starving. πŸ˜‚

Anyway, these video rental shops stopped existing ages ago but the internet made it possible to watch the classics once more. However, I could not bring myself to watch My Girl again. Especially now that I'm an adult. Such emotional scenes don't get me anymore. I would most likely just notice inconsistencies and illogical movie scenes, and ruin the whole experience like what I did with most movies. Hachi: A Dog's Tale, for example.

If I may digress slightly.

Hachiko, sure is deemed one of the saddest movies. Watching it did make me sad. But probably not for the same reason you have. What bothers me is that he was "set free" or more likely abandoned to his grief by his family shortly after the "main" master dies and they let him live ten monotonous years. No loving, responsible pet owner, especially one that was owned by an important family member would do that. I was sad, and only because I don't think Mr. Wilson will be happy to see how his dog lived terribly right after his death, enduring harsh weather conditions and living off scraps from strangers. I can make a whole blog post about this. LOL. 

While most of us romanticized the dog's devotion and loyalty, I think the filmmakers could have done better than inadvertently portray the family as dog-abandoning jerks. I had to read up on what really happened because I was disappointed with the movie-logic. At least, the reality is less merciless. There was a more sensible reason why he can't be kept by the surviving wife. The real Hachi who waited daily at the station, although bullied and mistreated by some passers-by, actually had a place to come home to. He lived a short distance from the station with his previous owner's former gardener. 

And that is why I'd rather not watch these sad, emotional movies as an adult, I easily spot things that don't make sense.

Outside Shibuya train station in Japan. 

Anyway, let's get back to the topic.

Needless to say, My Girl has left a lasting impact on me that I could say it's still one of my favorite movies. As a matter of fact, more than a year ago, I created a small part of my island in Animal Crossing dedicated to this movie.

There was the tree, the dock, and the lake.
And now there is booze. 
So whether you are a tough guy who always has a ready excuse that there is just something in your eye when an emotional scene comes, or you are bold about your feelings that you can bawl like a child with no shame, or you are just like me who needs to slice onions just to conjure up some tears, it's always nice to watch some movies that will make you feel all the feels.

I know you don't need another reason to cry. But in case you are a glutton for sadness, I would definitely recommend My Girl (1991), then add the Bridge to Terabithia (2007) in the mix for an extra dose of heartbreak. 


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Perhaps I have not made it very obvious but I've said this before: I am addicted to boots—even if it is something I know I cannot wear regularly here in the tropics.

Anyway, I finally got my very first Dr. Martens! 

Hands down to the coolest, sickest, and most badass shoes I've ever seen.

I love how I can rock the boots with anything.

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I don't remember the last time I wrote something serious.  And I think this post will be serious. And long. and unrelatable. And boring. 

And... anyway. 

Let me start this with our daily scuffle: 


I wake up before 5AM and I only have ten minutes to finish a freshly brewed coffee before Isabel wakes up. But I usually finish a cup down to the last drop at around 5PM. It's obviously cold and more bitter by then. During those sips, I give myself time to think.

Today's thought is kind of bittersweet. Just like how I want to enjoy my coffee. And it goes...

Once you give life in this world, you cannot expect to keep yours.

As a mom of three, this rings true to me, and in two different ways. 

The Young Mom

The first time I became a mom was an accident. I was twenty-three years young, wild, and free. I was far too irresponsible. I have not achieved nor proven anything. I had a low-paying, unstable job. I was in a toxic relationship and didn't know it. I was unprepared, emotionally and financially.

But giving birth to my first-born, as clichΓ© as it sounds, certainly turned my life around, which also meant putting my dreams on hold and letting go of the life I had before. A life that was so full of adventure and freedom.

I took the risk of getting a job that is completely unrelated to my college degree just so I can do more. I worked two jobs (Writer and a Virtual Assistant) while having a side hustle by selling baby stuff online, which eventually killed my social life. I went out of my comfort zone and learned new skills to advance my career. I did everything I can to give my son a good life.

It was not easy. It was mentally destructive, to say the least. But I survived and it did pay off.

"Single"-Blessedness

Fast forward to many years, my first-born grew up and so did I. I learned how to love myself and walked away from a toxic relationship. I sashayed my way to a totally different career that I never thought I would enjoy, not to mention, get a better pay. I learned how to overcome challenges with grace.

My life started to become somehow relaxed. I raised a good, polite, obedient, and semi-independent son. Plus, I have a village with me. So single-parenting was fairly a breeze. I gained back a bit of my freedom too. And with that, I learned a few new sports, joined social events, made new friends, tried new things, and even committed myself to someone in a new relationship. I relived the life I lost after becoming a young mom. 

Rhett's very first international vacay.

I achieved most of my goals, took those mini breaks by traveling to new places, and did most of the things on my bucket list. Inarguably, they were some of the best years of my life. I maximized the short season I became "single" again without, of course, putting my motherhood duties back seat.

The A-Little-Bit-Older Mom

The second time I became a mom was entirely different. At this time, I already feel complete and content. I reached a degree of financial stability. And on top of that, I married the best husband a wife could possibly have.

But...

I realized no one can ever be fully prepared for this because I was confronted with another challenge. For someone who is already approaching her forties, I no longer have the same energy I had in my youth. Pregnancy is risky and parenting tiny humans, even though I'm sharing the responsibility with Jan, is more difficult at this age. Back pain is inevitable, fatigue is real, and burnout becomes more common than ever—something I have not experienced with my first-born despite being a hands-on mom who worked sixty to seventy hours a week back then.

Rhett, 13. Chris, 2. Isabel, 10 months. Look at those tired eyes. But seeing these beautiful faces makes it all worthwhile.
And come to think of it, I will be forty-one when I drop Isabel off on her first day of kindergarten. And when she graduates in college, I will already be at least sixty. That is currently the age of my mama who is retired and just enjoying her pension and all her apos. I hope I will not be mistaken as my children's lola when the time comes. πŸ˜…

My mama and Chris.

I may be faced with different challenges now, but one thing remained constant: I had to let go of my old life. This time, I had to sacrifice a career I painstakingly built over the years. And to tell you honestly, it's driving me crazy.

But I don't, not even for one second, regret any of it—even though I know that we will never have that much freedom again to learn and try new things, work, and travel until the kids are grown. Hopefully when that happens, our knees are not yet wobbly and we are still strong enough to explore the world.

So when is the best time? 

I came across these two posts on Facebook today. Some people tell you to have children when you're still young and able (young ha like young adult, NOT teen). While others tell you to do it when you're content and stable. I've done both. I pulled through becoming a young mother, a single one at that. And I am surviving motherhood now.

I say, there is no right or best timing to have a baby. Do it young, you will be burdened with financial issues. Do it later, you will have a hard time conceiving and you will be dealing with health issues you didn't know existed. Some things are certain though: being a parent is difficult and exhausting, it will ruin your body, and YOUR LIFE WILL NEVER BE THE SAME regardless of your age. You will be faced with different challenges but it's how you handle and take full responsibility after having a baby that matters most. After all, wanting to have a baby is, honestly, a hundred percent selfish. The least we can do is make life worth living and experiencing for our children.


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I am silently panicking.

I never thought I'd experience a heartbreak far worse than a break up.

My heart sank. It literally felt heavy when I read the news because I know that once this year ends, my dreams of having a Doc Martens pair is over. Either I buy one now—something this broke ass cannot obviously do. Or do it later (optimistically a year or two from now), and pay taxes, import duties, and international shipping fee that can amount to half the 1460 Classic's regular price—something I am not very willing to spend.

Cherry red. 😍 Dayumn. My dream Docs.
And because of that, I am having this moment again. I feel a lot of things now. Grateful and regretful, contented and wanting more, enjoying the now and dwelling on the what-ifs, and more.

You see, after years of building my career from being a Writer to a Virtual Assistant to a UI/UX designer to a Web Developer, I am now a full-time stay-at-home mom and a housewife who couldn't even keep the house clean. 

And each day, I am consumed with thoughts about being fully hands-on to our children as well as having this strong desire to contribute financially to our family. It is difficult. Really. Especially when I used to be financially independent and this new reality slapped me in the face that I am now completely dependent to the husband.

Don't get me wrong. I am grateful for having an all-out supportive husband, for the life we are living now, for everything. It’s just the unnecessary extras that are getting me down at the moment, which I admit is kind of selfish. If I had a job, I could buy those boots in a heartbeat after I saw the announcement, you know. But sadly, I only earn through TikTok now and everything I made the last three weeks can only afford four pairs of Dr. Martens shoe laces. πŸ˜…

I guess, I will continue bemoaning and stressing over losing something I never had because I failed to plan ahead and save adequately for these sudden, unfortunate incidents such as permanent store closures. πŸ™„

-------

UPDATE!!!

I wasn't able to sleep well last night because of this. Haha. I was up all night devising strategies how to convince the husband to buy me these 11k worth of boots that I probably would not wear until our next out-of-the-country trip.

Just kidding. I just couldn't sleep. Period.

Although earlier this morning, I swallowed my pride and mustered the courage to ask my husband to buy me one.

I've got my script ready about how he can buy the things he wants like an AirPods Pro without question, followed by the exaggerated retelling of my labor and childbirth stories, then draw that "you-don't-love-me-anymore" card in case he says NO. 

But before I could give him that puppy face, this beast has been checked out:

You must be wondering what happened to the cherry red dream Docs?

1. I couldn't find my size in any of the authorized/legit sellers.

2. I was ten times more excited and I hyperventilated when I saw this 1460 WB Goonies.

Let me tell you a short backstory. 

Stand By Me, The Little Rascals, and The Goonies were the movies I have watched over and over when I was a kid. That's where my thirst for thrill and adventure probably stems.

Anyway, these are LIMITED EDITION and luckily, I was able to grab the very last pair of my size!

Yaaaaas! NEVER SAY DIE!

It's a MERRY CHRISTMAS for me! Can't wait for this!


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