Postcard Stories: Rebel Life

The world tells you to follow but the world do not celebrate those who fit in. Rebels always win! Are you one?

Hi! I am the endangered monkey called Paula. On rare sightings you will see me randomly climbing trees like in this photo while visiting Minalungao National Park in Nueva Ecija (I still need to blog about my experience).

Anyhow, we were laughing a lot when I was monkeying around. People often mistake me to be arrogant when they first meet me because of my natural resting bitch face and my introvert nature but those who end up befriending me know how crazy I can be which leads me to the thought of how many people are really crazy but think that being predictable is better.

The world is a funny place to live in.

First they tell you to follow, be like everyone else so you spend a lot of years being one with the crowd.

You go to university then you get a job. Next thing you know you have a husband/wife plus kid/s and you plan out retirement.

The plot twist though, the world rarely rewards the ones who blend in. It is always the rebels and the crazy ones who are celebrated.

So why blend in?

I tried blending in for 22 years but miserably failed. I got the course my mother thought was practical, I tried working as a nurse for half a year and just broke down after consecutive 16 hours of duty and only getting paid P 7,500 (travelling 4 hours a day without travel allowance). I used to follow everything despite questioning those asked from me. In the end, I could not continue lying to myself and this is why I moved to Manila.

I cannot embrace the stereotypical life and never will, it is never the easiest path to go on your own route. A lot will question your life choices and think you are being irresponsible but in the end it is your life and you are the only person you have to live with. It is far more irresponsible to live unhappy and project this to others. There are already tons of zombies living the typical 9-5 life. It us after all called living not dying.

I do not know about you but I will always be a rebel by birth, by blood and by choice.

Are you a rebel too?

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Postcard Stories: The Price of City Life

The question in my mind was “What is independence for you?”, there are times when I stop and think about what moving to Manila has done to me.

 

View of Mandaluyong from Flair Tower
View of Mandaluyong from Flair Tower

I just got back from a Manila trip over the weekend to visit a friend who had lost her father. We had to go to travel around to several cities. We flew in early Saturday morning and news was out about the chaos over NAIA Terminal after a plane landed badly. We then went straight to Quezon City to console our friend. After couple of hours, we went to her condominium to drop our backpacks and freshen up. We were so tired from the trip that we managed to only walk to Megamall to have dinner and look around.

Later that night, as I looked over the skylights. I could not help but think of the years I spent in Manila. The question in my mind was “What is independence for you?”, there are times when I stop and think about what moving to Manila has done to me. There are good things like being more open minded and building grit but somehow I feel that it made me a slave to the shallow side of the world.

In my quest for independence, I ended up in bondage of capitalism.

I am realizing how much of a bliss it was to grow up in a simple city.  While Ormoc is a city, it still feels quite provincial. I grew up at a time when internet was not yet accessible, where books, radio and TV were the main source of content. Back when google did not exist and Grolier Encyclopedia was considered the go-to for reference.

Living in the big city really took a toll on me. It made me a lot more cynical and lost. I met people who did not help me grow instead they helped in my destruction.

Being back in Cebu has given me time to heal and rethink of those ordeals. The lifestyle is a lot laid back and I still get to work in quite an innovative company. I am in a much happier place now, however, I do not know until when I will stay in this city.  Maybe, I will be back again in the city to open a new opportunity.

 

 

Postcard Stories: Miss Fury Kawasaki 2010

Sometimes winning can be easy, you just need to know what the competition is about and understand the company/organisation’s marketing strategy.

Introducing Postcard Stories! I am adding this to my regular post. It is a one photo with short personal story that will either inspire or entertain you.

Eight years ago, I won in a small competition simply by knowing the product and human psychology.

How did I do it?

It was the deciding moment of the Kawasaki Miss Fury 2010 at Mactan, Cebu.

I joined this small competition knowingly because it offered an opportunity to get to know people in the company and a quick way to earn money more than what I was getting paid in my normal job.

It was only three of us who had to answer the final Q&A.

The question was, “If you win a million pesos, what will you do with it?”

For a quick minute I knew that mention of their product would be added points and having a good cause tied to it would instantly be a hit.

My answer: “I will take my Kawasaki motorbike and head to far flung baranggays to share my win and create sustainable businesses so locals are empowered.”

Of course, how can they not let their product win. 😂

Monday Musings: My 2014 Failure

A broken heart and an empty pocket are indeed the best reasons for change. I learned this back in 2014 when I committed several mistakes.

Four years ago around December, I was evicted and had to say goodbye to everything that I owned.

Yes, you read it right. This is a story that I have not dared to tell anyone. Why? Shame stopped me.

As an idealist and an eternal perfectionist, I found it as a hard pill to swallow. Yet it is a part of my past that I look back to not in bitterness but in bliss.

There are usually two perpetrators that creates change in a person’s life, one is voluntary and the other one is compulsory.

As I continued living my big city adventure, I haphazardly decided to devout more time for a relationship, one that I thought was worth throwing everything all away. Little did I know, this choice would bring my worst downfall. No year can ever compare to 2014, for the moment at least, when I took a crazy plunge and fell hard in a deep ravine.

Half blind, I woke up too late from a dream and realising I have made a nightmare.

2014 started quite promising, I just had a major victory winning the first placement for Philippines in Miss SCUBA International. My aim was to take a year off to go full-time on volunteering for causes that I believed in. So I packed my backpack to join an acquaintance on a rebuilding effort in Bantayan Island, Cebu.

I stayed with a local family along with the other volunteers I met during the Typhoon Haiyan evacuation operations at Villamor Airbase. We stayed for about a week then decided we needed to go back. I confidently left a small amount of money to donate for the boats being built by the Bantayan Back to Sea. After spending a big part of my prize money to the cause, we ended up crashing my sister’s place in Cebu as we booked a ticket on the ferry to head back to Manila. Weeks later, we found out that the volunteer who initiated the fundraising scammed us. Joshua Magalong (not certain til this day if this was his real name) ended up stealing the funds we raised, taking my personal donation with him.

Brokenhearted, I decided to stop volunteering for a months focusing on trying to earn money to cover for a contract that I signed up for without knowing the financial burden it placed on me. This contract I signed because I wanted to live with a guy I dated which I found out months after was still seeing his ex girlfriend but since I signed a year-long contract with my name on it, I had to deal with it. I would spend weekends at least 8 hours in summer wear in different computer stores in different malls promoting a certain brand of laptops just to make enough money to pay for rent because I decided that freelance work was better and event modelling would be enough.

May came and I ended up in another relationship that seemed promising. I would spend more time with this person than focusing on making a living to the point of cooking breakfast and lunch daily while trying to get booked for events. I even ended up being a stunt double in one of the local movies.

By the end of November, I was flat broke. Despite my mother’s financial assistance it was not enough. The same month the ex boyfriend left to return to his country and I barely heard from him. He also had his own battles and was still adjusting to life after internship. From then on, it just went downhill. I went out with friends who were promoters and compensated badly. I reached my point of desperation where I could not make any good decisions. I still tried to raise money through side gigs and even putting all my money to compete in an International Competition in China.

I remember the day of my flight, my landlady already gave me a notice for eviction and so I had to leave early for them not to notice. I brought all my stuff and only had enough money to cover for the travel tax. I had to take the bus with all the luggage and walk to the international terminal from the bus stop just because I was low in cash.

I made it to Shenzhen because the modelling agency covered for all my expenses. I would do my best for the next ten-day to compete and be the top candidate. While competition I had gotten a blister which worsened to a full on infection. My left foot was swollen but I could not afford to fail. The girls saw me limping but when I was on stage, I smiled like it did not matter. I had my eyes on the prize. This was my last chance to win a good amount of money to payback my mother and the rent. However, the competition turned out to be fixed and was already planned. I went back to Philippines with worse depression, I did not know what to do. It was almost Christmas and about two days after I took with me a small bag to go with a couchsurfer to walk around Binondo when I went back to my apartment, they asked me to leave.

For Christmas eve, I was homeless but I could not afford to tell anyone else apart from my family. My mother scolded me and told me she would be okay if I got sent in jail. For days, I would just walk around the mall and luckily a friend offered a place for me to sleep. No one knew that I have no other place to go. I just kept pretending everything was okay. I would just sit for hours at the park crying and thinking why I ended up like this. It was only until my sister called saying that she was sending money that I found hope. This is how I ended up in Tacloban. With the little money sent to me, I bought a couple of pieces of clothing and a knock off North Face backpack. On the day that I was about to leave, I made a resolution to let go of everything in Manila. To forget the hurt, the lies and the life. I wanted to rewrite every failure and start to rebuild my life.

“…throw roses into the abyss and say: ‘here is my thanks to the monster who didn’t succeed in swallowing me alive.”

Friedrich Nietzsche, posthumous fragments

Summer Dream

Going through my old blog, I feel the need to repost these random poems I once wrote.
DCIM101GOPRO

Radiant smile so enthralling

Beguiling eyes like turquoise water

With thoughts denser than the Amazon

Embraces as warm as ocean zephyr

Saccharine mango kisses ever addicting

Vivid sunbeams taking dark clouds overhead

Alluring oasis so promising

You plague my thoughts

Oh summer dream!

Mermaid on A Motorcycle

Nothing like a quiet drive around Siargao Island to clear the mind and reconnect with nature!

View from Siargao
View from Siargao

This is one of my favourite things to do when in Siargao. The minute I arrive in General Luna, I pick up a semi-automatic motorcycle from a local shop. They already know me well that I just send them a message and they already prepare the board rack and my essentials.

WHAT ABOUT MOTORCYCLES?

As a teenager, my mother never wanted me to learn how to drive a motorcycle because she knew I always did insane stunts from climbing our balcony, sliding down trees with the use of a bamboo pole and even standing on hammocks pretending to surf.

Jessica Alba Dark Angel
Jessica Alba as Dark Angel

LEARNING TO DRIVE

I followed my mother’s advice and stayed away from driving motorcycles but growing up seeing Jessica Alba as Dark Angel looking all cool, the idea never left my mind. During my volunteer trip to Tacloban, I was riding at the back while we visited different spots. One of the unforgettable and probably the most painful in the butt was when we decided to go to Biliran and chase waterfalls. The trip took more than 3 hours being on the motorbike however the scenery and the perfectly paved roads. I have been at the backseat most of the time enjoying the breeze, and checking out the scenery. I love the feeling I get from adrenaline rush that speed gives me. After I ended my volunteer work, I had a relationship with a guy who also loved weekend adventures and it was with him that I decided to stop being fearful and learned to drive.

Luckily I knew already how to balance and ride a bicycle so I started learning basics driving an automatic scooter. It has been three years since I mustered the courage to drive and it was at Camiguin, then I tried again in Siquijor and Southern Leyte. My third time would be in Siargao alone. My first trip to Siargao, I was just riding with people from the hostel but I realised how limited I was. I decided to rent a scooter on my own. I was driving at 30KPH, slowly and surely, I got the hang of it. After that trip, I returned with more confidence and with the supportive locals, I was encouraged to try the Honda XRM. It was not as intimidating as I first imagine it to be but definitely exposure to rough terrain  and the need to see more of the island forced me to toughen up!

MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS

I am a worrier and it usually does not help you. I remember my first bad turn, how I drove to the other end of a street just because I was so bad with turning on sharp curves. I would give up driving the scooter and asking my bf then to drive but after we broke up, I had no one to drive for me! It was May 2017 when my first main accident happened. I ended up with several burns in my right leg after a bad turn on our way to Magpupungko Rock Pool. I noticed the junction late and tried to turn quickly but I ended up in the rocky portion and panicked so instead of slowing down, I revved up! The worse part is that I have high pain tolerance so I thought when I fell over it was just a bit warm from the metal absorbing the heat from the sun, it turns out, my leg was against the engine! Fortunately, I was with my good German Couchsurfing friend Yasha who was also a nurse so we drove a couple of meters to find ice and guess what? I still surfed that day!

Burns from the fall
My scar from the burns from the major fall.

The next motorcycle accident that spooked me well was the recent one earlier this year, I was driving on my way to Salvacion a surf spot in Pilar. I decided to go ahead of everyone to save time and just wait for the rest there. Everything was going well until I reached one rocky area and the board rack snapped. The surfboard was starting to go up and my reflex was to hold on to the board, I ended up hitting my head on the ground and having a couple of scratches in the legs. It reminded me of my stupidity of not only putting more concern over the board than my own safety but also of not wearing helmets. It was a good location for the board rack to snap though because there were several locals on a break from the road construction. They helped me pick myself up and tie the board rack back to the motorcycle. Despite this I still decided to drive ahead despite terrible road condition. It was my last day in the trip and I wanted to leave the island stoked. The locals who saw me driving to the spot would look and think how crazy I am to be bleeding and still want to surf.

 

On Being A Mermaid on a Motorcycle

It was in Siargao where I learned the most because of the offbeat trails that have either mud or huge rocks. It was because of my love for the island life that I conquer my fear given to me by my mother after here motorcycle accident. I do understand the dangers that comes with it but it does come also with freedom. The freedom to breakthrough terrible traffic or even just simply the feeling you get while driving through beautiful landscapes. Women riding motorcycles is still uncommon in the country. I had one chat with an Angkas driver and he told me out of all the drivers in Cebu there were only 2 female Angkas drivers. There is still a stigma about women doing dangerous stuff. For decades, riding motorcycles have been considered more of a guy thing. However, we are not at a period where the disparity between men and women as growing thinner.

Despite the accidents and norms involved in riding motorcycles, I bought my electric scooter just last year. Now, I not only drive around the island but also through Cebu City. I learned how to drive in between cars and other hacks for driving in the city just like how Angkas drivers do.

To me being an autodidact is quite rewarding, I went from noob to confident rider and knowing that somehow when I drive a motorcycle men will turn their heads and think:

” She can definitely drive.”

I am indirectly changing norms that motorcycles are just for men and encouraging more women to do the same.

In the end, you can basically learn and change anything in this world with the right motivation and a whole lot of grit.

What have you pushed yourself to learn or change recently?

Monday Musings: A Case of Serendipity

There are periods in life where you make a beautiful connection with a stranger or a place, something inexplicable and mundane.

A jolt of the extraordinary that leads you ricocheting from your normal.

A brief moment where you feel invincible and different.

You cruise through days and nights worry free and with unlimited smile.

Everything seems perfect and you feel that the universe is with you.

Until you fall into the abyss of uncertainty and awaken back to reality.

These places and people are just passing by, just like you.

Like flickers of light and shadow over a screen.

You realize that it is but a motion picture.

Everything continues to move through time.

Waking up, you begin to crave for that happenstance.

You find yourself jumping from one cliff to another to collide with someone or some place again.

You seek to recreate the explosion of life you witnessed weeks before.

Just to feel the same exhilaration.

Travel does that to you.

From the first step you take out of the door to the last one as you enter the plane to go back home.

Those journeys are incomparable.

We travel to find ourselves.

We go home to get lost once again in the promises of the past and future.