Ride The Tides

It felt like a flashback from when I first arrived at the island in 2016, a total wreck who lost her job with a failing relationship that wanted nothing but to escape reality. Nothing was going right.

”Home, it is nice to be back!”, I pondered to myself as I gazed out the window. The van cruised through concrete roads bordered by old mango trees, green rice paddies and tall coconut trees. Infrequently, the pristine view would be blocked by huge political or advertisement banners, but I was too excited to let the sporadic growth gall over my love for Siargao. Two months since I left the island with a beaten ego after Jing told me that there were no weak surfers.

 

“Jing’s Place!’’, the van driver declared as he handed over my backpack. Jing owned one of the first fully all local homestays in General Luna. Already in his fifties, he was still rocking surfer abs. A surfing legend to most, he was the surfer dad that I never had.

I marched into the homestay, Jojo welcomed me, “You’re home Paula! Let’s go surfing! Uncle Jing is already at Secret Spot.’’ Itching to surf again, I speedily unpacked my bag onto the bed to change. I clutched my favourite 8-foot long board and strapped it to onto the motorbike board rack. I sensed a bit of self-doubt and worry raced in, ”Was it too soon to surf again after a bad reef cut?”, I questioned myself. ”You have booties on Paula.”, I reassured myself as I revved the motorbike engine.

Forty-five minutes until I reached the not-so-secret Secret Spot because of the countless motorbikes parked along the roadside, I wandered 300 meters from the parking before I finally heard the rustling waves.

With a waxed surfboard and a Zinc cream covered face, I got on the board and paddled out. “Nice to see you again Tin!”, jested Jing as he summoned his student over. I felt great to be in the water again after having been partially immobile for a full month after a minor surfing accident.

The first wave arrived, I attempted to seize it but missed then struggled to get back on the board. As the sun rays radiated stronger, so did my impatience. The only reason I signed up for the gym was to surf better. Yet there I was plopping miserably like an absolute amateur.

It felt like a flashback from when I first arrived at the island in 2016, a total wreck who lost her job with a failing relationship that wanted nothing but to escape reality. Nothing was going right.

With jelly arms, annoyance grew as I waited for waves. I had to deal with my inner demons called patience and trust. I turned to Jing seeking assurance of which he responded with a smile.

Surfing is definitely not for people who loved full control, there are just too many external factors to this sport. The sense of helplessness slowly crept into my nerves being a person who relished in predictability.

‘’Yew!’’, jeered one local surfer as another set of waves showed up over the horizon. Keep legs together, paddle deeper with clasped hands, wait for the push, stand up with knees bent and look far towards the shore, I told myself.

‘’This one Tin! Paddle now, paddle hard!’’, coaxed Jing. I paddled, I felt the push and the flow got to me.

With a sigh of relief, I finally caught a wave, my first long ride after a long time. The next hours, I rode one wave after the other with much enthusiasm until I could not paddle anymore.

“Good session today! Great to have you back again Tin.”, said Jing as he patted my right shoulder as I looked at him with a stoked face. I felt elated that he was proud of me, but I was just happy to be back and ride the tides again.

A supportive surfing family living on a gorgeous island also struggling to find balance over contentment and growth. ”Progress over perfection, be ready to ride the tides.”, Jing would constantly quip. The Siargaonons and the island not only taught me acceptance over my flaws but also of trusting life despite the unwanted changes.

As I turned the engine off and laid the board on the rack, there was a sense of peace and security, the very essence of home.

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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

Monday Musings: Take the Stage

How many of us take on the stage in our life? I did when I moved to Manila and since then life has never been boring.

6 years ago, it was my first time walking on a bigger stage and feeling small, I wanted to take the challenge so decided to move to a bigger city with only the thought of adventure and self-growth giving me courage. Since then, I never looked back. It took a lot of strength being a girl from a simpler city who always wanted to control everything.

I started out not knowing anyone and not having a job. Couple of days after the coronation night of Miss Resorts World 2011 in August, I landed a job for a new company just by asking everyone in my Facebook. The day I had my interview and found out I got hired was the day my talent manager decided to leave the apartment and I arrived in an empty space with only my luggage left. I panicked and I only knew one person and she was the hiring manager of the company. I was left with little option so I had to ask her if I could live with her. I had to swallow my ego for a month and live in a room almost a quarter of my usual bedroom in Cebu just because I didn’t have money yet because I never received any of the consolation prize. I just braved through the incident and focused on my first job in Manila. I just kept on, knowing that things will eventually get better.

Last week while in BGC, I was reminded of the struggles I’ve had since I started that adventure and how far I’ve come since that day because of that I overcame being shy about my thoughts and my ambitions.

From a girl who was scared to even talk to the woman on the counter asking for my order in Jollibee, I have learned to speak up and go for what I deserved.

I got lost several times while commuting around the city but it helped me find interesting places and gave me better idea on faster routes around Manila.

Sometimes you have to go extreme to push yourself to the limit and wake up to the truth that you can do a lot better and that you have more grit than you think.

That move to Manila definitely made my world bigger with more possibilities and opportunities and now I can only take on a bigger stage.

How about you? When are you taking the stage? Have you recently taken on a stage? If not, be brave! Things can only get better to those who dare. 😊

Monday Musings : Accidental Shifts

How a series of accidents led me to finding my voice and confidence.

Most people who worry, hide from the world. They are often too scared about a lot of things. Instead of opening their arms to welcome life, they hide in caves filled with doubt. I too worried a lot, from reliability of the mall to other mundane stuff. As I child, I knew one thing well and that was to run. Run away from people, experiences and opportunities. It wasn’t until I stumbled several times that I realized that I should stop.

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Survived swimsuit + Q&A with the help of chocolate

I was quite an insecure child who had little passion for anything school related except for English and Science. It was in my last year when I grew tired of attending classes (Hi Mom!). I was a bit of a smart ass (or that is what I thought then). I figured if I joined most of our school competitions, I would not be questioned for my absence in classes. I joined a lot of school competitions, from slogan making to a Bible quiz (where I surprisingly won first place and made my mother extra proud) but there is one incident that changed me.

One morning, I noticed the poster for extemporaneous speaking competition so I signed up thinking it would be another valid reason to not go into my classes. I remember the question was about Overseas Filipino Workers. I didn’t think through it but I just spoke my mind. It was a first for me to speak up my mind in front of judges. With my friends I go all out but I rarely spoke in a crowd ( only when my teacher called me to answer) so when they announced that I won a place, I was in shock. This incident, made me think about my speaking skills. I pushed it aside after that and went back to my introversion.

2009, I was already 22 years old and going through my first heartbreak. Despite my sensitive feelings, I did not want to be the loser. This thought led me to go on what I thought was a suicide mission. Perhaps you thing what an exaggeration but for an introvert it really felt like that! I told my mother that I wanted to join a beauty pageant. I figured winning a crown would be an ultimate slap to the ex boyfriend’s face. My mother was supportive specially because she had already been asked by her friends way back when I was in high school to let me join one. She asked her friends to do a major makeover!

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Survived swimsuit + Q&A with the help of chocolate

I was so keen on having the best revenge that I worked hard to train in heels. Unfortunately, the first pair of heels broke because I was so stiff! I traded rice for oatmeal and did 200 crunches in the morning and another set in the evening. From boyish, I went through a major transformation (think Princess Diaries levels except I don’t have a queen for a grandmother and was surrounded by gay guys).It was the first time I wore two piece swimwear and performed a talent in front of a huge crowd. June came and it was already the finals night, I ended up winning first place and it was after that I realized that in the process of getting revenge, I have recreated a bit of myself. From super awkward girl to somewhat a more confident one. This led to my career in the beauty pageant industry and gave me the chance to compete and win a place internationally.

Accidents happen around us on a daily basis. We usually try to avoid them but life just brings it to us. I am not talking about car accidents but those life experiences that we do not usually plan out. If I closed off from unfamiliar experiences, I doubt that I would be as happy with myself as I am now. Let us not close out our selves from these because these unplanned moments usually turn us into someone better.

Why I Write?

I write because I have a lot of things of in my mind.

I write because written words are easy.

I write to free my mind, to connect with people and to find a common ground in this vast space.

I write to free people, to tell that impossible can be done and what is is not what should always be.

I write to have my thoughts travel from my mind to others, hoping that in some way, I am bridging the gap that I am unable to fill during my anti-social moments.

I write to bring people to places they have never been and to think of ideas they have never thought of.

I write because I love words. Words that can change a person’s life. In this cruel world, words of hope are scarce. I want to bring across the small silver linings that go unnoticed and unappreciated.

I write because a lot of people speak daily and only a few are remembered days after.

I write to record my life and those moments that are vital to my existence.

I write just because the act is a form of contributing to what is and what is not.

I write because I think.

I write to challenge my mind and the other people’s mind.

I write because it is easier than speaking.

I write because I am open to judgement.

I write so I can see the journey that my mind has been going through.

I write so that I can remember those thought provoking moments.

I write so I can forget those repetitive mental reminders that disrupt my functioning.

I write because I want to be better at writing.

I write because I want to one day be good enough to publish a book.

I write because words last longer than me.

I write  to not be forgotten.

I write for the love of expression.

I write out of frustration.

I write because I am human enough to crave significance and needy enough to seek connections.

I write because I’m part introvert and sometimes what I think is easier to express through words than to speak out.

I write because it makes me happy.

I write because I can.

I write because I am a lover of words and thoughts.

I write because I am free to do so.

I write to rebel against monotony and predictability.

I write to be heard and to hear.

I write to see and be seen.

I write for the sake of expression and non conformity.

I write to continue the art of writing.

I write to improve my style.

I write to find new and alike minds.

I write to console the hurt.

 

 

Monday Musings: Choose Life

Surviving or thriving? Choose life.

Excitement from the new year is still around but how long will it last before you find yourself in the same situation as 2015?

How often do you envy other people for living their dreams?

You and them might have different situations but one thing you and them both have is choice.

Each day you make a choice, from the time you wake up to the jobs you take. Do not blame others for your situations. You are in full control. It is time to take the responsibility. Quit surviving and start thriving. Let your adventures begin. Choose life!

Choose Life from Rando on Vimeo.

Monday Musings: Leaving A Luggage Full of Excuses

How attached are you to your current lifestyle and habits? I have had a lot of moments where I refused to change because of fear of the unknown. If I tell you that I barely talk to people when I was a kid, you would laugh at me in disbelief but it is the truth.

I never wanted to talk to anyone not even to the Jollibee (Philippines’ most loved fast food chain) waitress could make me speak. I would simply ask my sister to speak for me. I just loved staying in my room or with my dogs. I enjoyed seclusion. It took me decades before figuring out that my safety net had been my cage. I needed to grow. I then left my little haven and put myself for the world to either love or criticise. It has been a rewarding bet and I have bloomed so much. There were times when I did not have stuff to protect me and there were times when having no excuses led me to do more. It is part of traveling through life.

We create our own shackles. The luggage full of excuses that we have carried, thinking it will serve as protection when the weather gets tough is only a burden in reality. Learn to let go. Travel light, you will soar faster.