Committing to one person for the rest of your life is difficult. Think about it. You decide that this person, who was not raised with the same values, priorities, wants and needs as you, is the person you’ll be with for the rest of your life. This makes a lot of things very difficult, as even something as mundane as how clean you want your space to be, would be a challenge if clean means something different for one person, and is distinct from the other’s.

We watched Sa Wakas, a play based on what was our favorite band several years ago, and while I didn’t know what the play was about going in, I figured based on their most popular songs that it would not be a comedy. What I found out during the play itself was it chronicled a breakup from the end to the beginning, and the big and little things that break a relationship. And while the main character had a girl on the side that fractured them, his fiancee wasn’t perfect either. It was little comments, micro, passive aggressive comments belittling the other person, and not believing in the other that contributed to the end.

It really struck me to hear these things and see them on a stage being acted out, because I hear them, little things coming from me through the years that have broken not just my romantic relationships, but my friendships as well. Thinking I was better than this person, and preaching from my soapbox when I wasn’t faultless on my end either. I think in my own little way, it’s the insecurities and trying to justify my actions and lifting myself up, I use these microaggressions to bring people I feel resentment to down to my level, or worse, break them as much as I think myself as broken.

Of course painting yourself as the victim every single time is tempting, and I admit I’ve used this card a lot. It’s been easy to blame the world for my problems when I know I can pick myself up from the pity party I’ve been continually throwing myself time and time again and move on after letting it out.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I will try and stop playing the world’s victim and take more responsibility for what I’ve done as well.

And if I forget? Remind me.

“It is what it is”. I hated that phrase. I had an old boss use it every time they had bad news. It seemed like a catch all phrase, an excuse when they couldn’t find a decent reason, or didn’t take the time to do so. Every time I heard it, I got quite frustrated because I didn’t even warrant a good explanation that they were crushing my dreams, or give me a good answer on how I could get there. It was a vague, inappropriate, insensitive answer that I couldn’t work on or improve, it was a lame “No.”

Why do I bring this up now? Why dredge up old wounds, why humiliate myself again after years and moving on?

I say this because I’ve found myself tempted to say it. And being on the other side, it stinks. You want to give your people all you could, or give them all the breaks you can, because you know how it feels, and how hard it is sometimes, but you also want to be fair to the company that’s paying you to do work, and make sure that they continue paying you for the work. I want people to be engaged, motivated, excited, but I also want to make sure the company WANTS to keep the team long term. That the short term goals coincide with the long ones. That we don’t take too much holidays to impact production but also make sure the team has time to spend with their families, to not have to file leaves or ask for time off to do so. I’ve realized the Philippines has a crap ton of holidays that we’d lose a whole lot of production if we honored them all, so we reached a compromise of honoring the important ones that are hard to miss.

I guess it’s a wake up call that management, even though it’s the most fulfilling thing I’ve done in my career, is a mixed bag of things. You know you’re going to have to have the difficult conversations. People will think you’re a hag because you check on their every move. They’ll stop conversation mid-word when you come into a room because they can’t be flawed in your presence. You hold yourself to a higher standard because you have to set a good example for everyone. But you’re also the person to share their good news, their promotions, salary raises, thank them for their hard work.

No post is perfect and will test your patience, intelligence, and emotional status every single day. But the thing to remember is, you’re there for a reason, and the least you can do is the best you can offer, because ultimately, you’re the one you’re cheating if you’re doing things half-assed. You cheat your career growth, you cheat the people you work with, you cheat the progress of everyone involved. Projects will get affected and in the end, you’ll get less work, because you get less results.

We all have our role to play, and if it takes you being the bad cop, the one who people get annoyed when they see show up, but it helps the team in the long run, take the hit for the team. They might not like you personally, but their performance will get better, the company will trust the overall team, you’ll all get a better tenure.

Have you had to play a bad guy for the good of your team?

I could barely keep my eyes open. It was the second day of my weekend and I waa still running on around 6 hours of sleep (collectively). I couldn’t even remember if I got to kiss my boyfriend goodbye as he walked me to the waiting Uber car.

My body’s giving out but my brain is still working possibilities, ideas, strategies. What would I do with this opportunity I’ve been presented? Would I be any good? Would i actually use it well, because i’ve wasted these opportunities before.

But shouldn’t we always be a little nervous about new things?If if doesn’t make you worry while your inner self is jumping up and down in joy, what are you doing it for anyway? Life is too short for “meh.”

That sunset is pretty. Even with that worrying blanket of smog on the skyline, orange sky is lighting up the highway, always a bit more idyllic after a couple of hours of rain. ‘

I really should have had more sleep for this, but life happens and I work too hard not to enjoy life after work.

Should I make jokes? Take more notes? Make a little more effort to connect? I’m the only one here to not really be in the mix of an actual group, and I want to not rub anyone the wrong way.

Maybe I should just enjoy it and be myself.

Myself has been fine for me so far. Let’s try that.

Family. In Filipino culture, the most important relationship we may ever have. Working with BPO companies for the past 9 years, it’s not unusual to hear the common “I need to take my aunt/grandma/uncle to the ER”, “My mom’s aunt just passed and I need to go to the funeral”, “I have to take care of my mother” as usual reasons for absences, even resignations. I’ve heard surprise, even disbelief from my bosses across the pond at hearing these from us, when mostly these reasons are usually accurate. We Filipinos still have a tribe mentality. We take care of each other. Grandparents live with their grandchildren all the time. We’ve taken years off from work just being someone’s primary caregiver when the rest of the world will tell you that hiring someone else would be more practical.

I’d like to tell you it’s just cheaper for us to personally do it, but I think it’s ingrained in us to do these things ourselves. It may be guilt, personal loyalty, or cultural expectations, but we do it. Because for us, family is everything. They are the people that raised us to be who we are as adults. The voices in our heads when we make big decisions. They are both our most loyal supporters but also our harshest critics at the same time.

Without (hopefully) airing any dirty laundry out, I’ve seen personally how my loved ones support each other. We may discuss at length the errors in judgment, irresponsibility, wrong choices that a family member/s made to cause us to have to help out, but we do it. No matter how badly the people we love have lied to us, screwed us over, make us want to just pack up and leave, we still find a way to bail them out at the last second.

It’s a vicious cycle. How do you find the balance of helping out versus being their bailout option? How do you make someone realize they’re going towards a downward spiral but not alienate them enough that they hide their problems from you and make it worse? How do you wake a person up without involving other, sketchier personalities or worse, the law?

I guess it’s enough to know them and love them enough to figure it out. Loving someone unconditionally doesn’t mean being their personal parachute. It’s making sure you equip them enough to be able to make the right choices, cheering them on when they need the encouragement, and kicking them in the butt when they need to get up off theirs.

I guess that’s what I think. Then again, I’m still figuring things out.

What’s your family like?

I am an internet lurker. I follow great blogs, people and have actually met these people in person. One thing I’ve noticed  is how markedly differently people can be in person from their internet personas. A person that’s quite eloquent on their blog can be pretty quiet in person. An Instagram personality, almost unrecognizable without their filters.

My six readers, I understand I am the same way. I don’t usually wax poetic about life and all its quirks, and analyze positively about most things like this blog and all its entries reflect.

To be honest, and readers, since you mostly know me in person (or are related to me, whatever), you know that I am a mostly sarcastic, sometimes offensive joke cracking wisebutt in conversation. My reputation at the last company I worked for that had a team that met in person once a month, have told me that I always sound like there’s a double entendre in most things I say. Birthdays I usually send links to a kind of offensive video to friends that denote something will be going on that day.

And yes, I do realize how easy it is to filter out the elements of your life that you don’t want people to find out about you. It’s always so tempting to present the most idealized version of us to the world, the one that’s always put together, or only have flaws that are adorable. So let me be a little more open right now, six readers, and let me know if I’m missing anything that you feel needs to be said.

  • I have a short temper. I’ve been known to lose patience quickly but I am trying to learn to reel it in, especially since I don’t have a poker face to hide what I feel at any given time.
  • I am a crazy bunny lady. Most of my day, if not focused at work, is focused on keeping my bunnies happy and healthy. Since I lost my bunny in June, I’ve been obsessing about the other one’s health and well being.
  • My coping mechanism is food. I usually look for something to eat when I’m annoyed or stressed or want to celebrate. Even when I’m sick, I’m always hungry. The one time I remember not being hungry is when my bunny died in June and I skipped a few meals because I was so devastated (told ya I was a crazy bunny lady).
  • I’m not very touchy feely. I use humor as a defense and don’t usually start emotional conversations. I can’t remember the last time I told my family I love them. We don’t hug unless it’s to annoy the other person.
  • I can be very passive aggressive. I hate this part of my personality and I want to be more confrontational and upfront, but years and years of indoctrination and getting that same treatment from people close to me, it’s hard to not be the same.
  • I have an incessant desire to help. It can be detrimental to my wallet, my mood, my overall well being, but if I see something I can fix or help with, I will try to do it. I’ve had friendships break because of this, because I had thought I warranted the same devotion, but I do realize just because we’re good to other people, doesn’t mean they will be to you, and that sometimes my definition of help is actually meddling, or that “good” is actually annoying/judgmental.
  • I gossip. I’m trying not to do this because I hate being talked about behind my back, but when you talk to the same people every single week, day in and day out, it’s hard to not listen.

What parts of your personality do you think you usually hide from the general public?

White sand, blue sea

White sand, blue sea

Sometimes when I feel really horrible about the state the country is in, how unsafe it feels to be here, the incredibly wasteful traffic, rampant corruption and all the other ails we’re plagued with, I try to find the good in where we’re living in. I feel like we’re blessed with our natural resources, being a collection of several thousand islands of different beaches.

It’s hard to argue with a view like that, and even if I know it’s not entirely natural as it’s part of an island resort, I can’t help but still stare in awe at it. The beach is so white, there’s no trash, the water is so clear that when we took a dip for less than an hour, I know we almost all burned under the clarity of the water.

And right now, with the rain beating down on the metro for the past week and weather forecasts saying it’s still going to keep beating down for the rest of the week, it’s hard to remember the brightness of the sun and the feeling of just being dry. However when I think about the warning that the water reservoir in dams were dangerously low, I am thankful for the replenishment, and the beauty it will lend to the greenery that was previously brown and cracked.

What views in the Philippines are hard for you to shake your head at?

I am not a fashionable person. 90% of my clothes are chosen due to their comfort and ability to come out of the laundry and not need to be ironed. My mother follows fashion a lot more than I do, telling us the trends of the month from her Vogue magazine (which I read for their food editorials). I work from home so 75% of the time I am in shorts, a loose shirt or wifebeater, and flip flops with with bits chewed off them because of my rabbits.

That is to say I’m not entirely devoid caring about how I look. I believe in looking professional when conducting business. I would never wear white, black or something completely loud to a wedding. I follow dress codes and party themes when the occasion arises.

 

I am a fan of ukay clothes shopping however, and I’ve been a patron of a few since I started working in 2007.

 

You see I’ve always worn a uniform to school, from nursery school to college. When I started to work, it baffled me to have to wear something different every day. from what I remember, I ran out of my collection of sarcastic message shirts the first month in my office job, and I was definitely not making enough to sustain my biggest vice (eating and drinking), and to also have a decent wardrobe around the space.

 

It was my mon who first went. I remember cringing a little as my only idea of these places were that they were old castoffs from other countries that were resold to ours (which is still true, I still find shirts with The Salvation Army tags on them). The variety is great though, and you’ll have less chance running into someone wearing the exact same thing. Plus, it’s significantly cheaper, which allows me to allot more of my budget towards food.

 

I regularly go now to a few different places, and it’s become like an adventure to pick out fun things (that are age appropriate) while not being too insane. I do have a few limits though. No shoes (can’t wash then), no underwear (COME ON), no bathing suits, no hats, nothing with stains or smells. Things have to be washed thoroughly with warm water and soaked thoroughly by me or professionally before they’re worn, and the basics, bought somewhere else. Ironically, my plain shirts and jeans, not from ukays but mall stores to make sure I don’t look like I’m in costume, dresses, mostly sewn by my mom.

 

While I admire snappy dressers and those who can follow fashion trends, I neither have the body or the wallet for it. The ukay gives me options that make me smile (like the four skirts I just bought for the price of one from SM), and leave me enough money for the obligatory meal afterward.

 

Don’t tell my grandma though, she doesn’t approve of the concept.

Have you bought anything from the ukay?

Lately, I’ve been in the kitchen. The thing about working at night and at home, there are days when you just want to get out of the house, and sometimes it makes it even harder to dress up and face the Metro Manila traffic. In those days, I turn to food.

For me, cooking is soothing. It helps that there is an actual end product to enjoy, and not just by you, but the others in your space. It gives back, and even if you’ve cleaned out your wallet paying for the ingredients, it’s not like it’s just going to run away from you, there is an experience to share, and depending on how much you make, it lasts for some time.

I actually have a list of things I want to learn how to cook, and mostly it’s been Filipino dishes. I realized, while thinking about what to make the significant other’s parents, that I have no Filipino specialty. All I make are American, Italian inspired things. And I get it, because those are easier to make and less pressure. Because Filipino dishes are personal. Everyone and their mother have their own sensory memories of Filipino dishes that they’ve tasted over the years and turn to for comfort when they tire of restaurant dishes.

I myself have a few Filipino dishes that make me happy every time I have them. Goto (tripe porridge), Kare kare (satay-like sauce with tripe and veggie) and nilagang baka (beef soup). All I can’t make worth a dang and I have to wait for someone else to make, as I don’t want to waste ingredients. (Precious cleaned tripe!) I have resolved to learn how to make these the next time ingredients are available. I find myself a little ashamed I still have not perfected these, as when I try to cook for others, I find myself at a loss for a repertoire that’s decent enough for a week. For someone who says she has a penchant for food, I really should be able to make more of a variety.

As for baking, I’ve checked off my one thing I wanted to learn how to bake successfully, which is cheesecake. It’s a crowd favorite, my favorite. My favorite one comes from the Calea bakery in Bacolod City, they have a white chocolate cranberry cheesecake that is thick and creamy with the tang from the cranberry sauce, it is so good. My dream is to hack the topping and to make it at home, because as it is, I’ve only had this cake a few times in my life, and I can’t fly to Bacolod just for a cake (It would be fun to, but not practical, not at all).  My next project is an iced cake, I just have to decide what kind of cake it is, before I break out the baking ingredients, as in our house, I’m primary cake eater, and I can’t keep eating all of my goods, I wouldn’t fit in my chair after a week.

What is your favorite food to make? Any recipes you want to share?

 

Most people hate the rain, and why wouldn’t they? It makes driving harder, which makes it more traffic to get to work or wherever it is you need to get to, and so on and so forth. It soaks your outfit, makes a mess on the floor, makes your dad yell at you when you come in with wet Chuck Taylors (long story).
But it also makes for this view at the Banaue Rice Terraces:

Walang tapon,

Walang tapon,

 

We forget how beautiful nature is sometimes when it’s beating down on us and is seemingly endlessly depressing. We forget that it makes the grass green, the trees lush, flowers bloom, fruits exist. The beauty of nature is that it doesn’t merely exist, it sustains. Food. Air. Overall nourishment. It took us 14 hours in a van to get to here, and I’d like to think it was worth every second. What about that view, eh? It’s intensely gorgeous without trying to hard, and it makes food too.

 

What view are you grateful for today?

A couple of months ago, we babysat a friend’s toddler for a weekend. It was a responsibility I was not ready for at the time, and I was mostly running on panic adrenaline. Since this was someone else’s child, their world, it wasn’t something I wanted to take lightly.

And boy, it wasn’t a weekend that was light. A toddler is a test of will and smarts. They absorb everything. They try to test every limit and are strong willed. Once you give in once, they will remember and test how much you’ll give in next time. It was emotionally and physically difficult, and with having lost my baby bunny five days before, I was, admittedly, wanting to wave the white flag. Take note, this took five people (my sister, mother, brother, boyfriend) 48 hours and unending french fries (long story) to get through.

So I will admit this now and get it out of the way. I am not ready for children yet. Children will be the death of me, as until now I still sob at the memory of losing my rabbit. I know that I will love mine truly and fully and will be the most paranoid I’ll ever be about the world. I won’t be able to sleep. Or worse, I’ll just throw up my hands and ask someone else to deal with it. They say when it’s your own child, it’s different (That’s what my mother says, and she keeps saying it, I think she got spooked that none of her kids want children now).

I applaud those who choose to raise kids, as it is such an unselfish thing, to put your heart and mind on something that has its own mind and decisions to make. it’s so risky and will break your heart a thousand times over, and it will drain you of your finances, patience and all else you can give.

So I’m not ready now, please don’t shoot me. But I also know I change my mind a thousand times a day, so I’ll let you know when that changes.