Boracay, 2018. Photo by JM Bueno.

Feeling happy. Feeling grateful. A tiny voice inside my head asks, “How long will this last?” But this time it’s different. This time, the happiness can talk louder than my anxiety. And I know that this is what life is like: ebbs and flows. I’ve learned to ride the wave when it’s there and not to question it. And I’ve learned that when I’m back in a dark place, the only way through it is…through it. Happiness, sadness; peace, turmoil; lightness, darkness–these all come and go.

Slipping Through My Fingers

His first day of school, June 2016

Bittersweet–I’m quite convinced that this word was coined by a mother. Because nothing more accurately describes motherhood than this; the joys that come with the first word, the first step, the first display of independence intertwined with the sadness that all these are a step closer to the day my kid goes out on his own.

Life Lessons from 2018

Running into 2019 like (Boracay. Photo by Che Bello)

I was thinking about it recently and 2018 was kind of…unremarkable. But given that 2017 was terrible in so many ways and the years before that were (as an astrologist so aptly put it) pretty shitty, I’m actually kind of happy with a meh year.

But maybe the meh years give you the time and space to reflect on everything that happened in the cray years; maybe that’s when the real growth happens. With that pa-deep thought, I present to you the three life lessons that I learned (or that were reinforced) in 2018.

Can’t Knock the Hustle

Two single moms, out to rule the world

Right before my best friend and I joined our first bazaar, I came across an article entitled “The Power of Imperfect Starts.” It was exactly what I needed to read at that moment as I was starting to feel my anxiety creep up on me. I was anxious about failure, about disappointing other people, about whether I was really built for business, about trying to juggle this with my three jobs and being a single mom and still making sure I got enough sleep and exercise to keep me functional. But reading the article made me buckle down and think about all the things I’ve wanted to start over the years, which I never did because I was afraid that I wouldn’t get it right the first time. This time around, I accepted that it was natural to do things imperfectly; it was immensely better than never doing it at all.

Guns N’ Roses: Not In This Lifetime in Manila!!!

“Manila! T*ngina!” -Duff McKagan, looking fine AF

“Guns N’ Roses. This ferocious, LA-bred band is the reason I picked up the axe. Theirs was the sound of frustrated youth vying for a bigger piece of the pie. They have a tumultuous history, years of riotous rock, bitch-slap rapping and cocaine tongues. And in the mid-90’s, they disappeared. But late last year, rumors swirled of a reunion.

“It’s almost preposterous to think that Axl and Co., now members of the bloated aging rockers club would reform. But there they were, showing up on time, with years of acrimony melting under the punishing Jersey heat. Axl, with wolf-like eyes, danced serpentine and egged Duff and Slash on as they shredded. The band was ruthless, tearing up hit after hit, musical stories of sex, drugs and apathy in the big city.

“Three hours and two damaged eardrums later, we ubered home, hot and dog-tired from seeing heroes who still, after all these years, whet our appetite for destruction.” –my brother, JC, writing about seeing the show at the Metlife Giants Stadium, and proving once again that he’s a better writer than I’ll ever be

Time Capsule

Photo by The Story Co.

In my past life, I would have photo shoots fairly often, so my son and I have a bunch of wonderful professionally taken pictures. It’s one of the things I took for granted about my old job, right up there with events and freebies! So when I had the opportunity to have new photos taken of A and me, I jumped at the chance. I wasn’t really at my most photogenic (hi, double chin!), but whatever.

Now Open: Humble Market, A Package-Free Health Store

Humble Market in Mandala Park, Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong

When I was in college, I used to buy lemonade from the cafeteria every day. I loved it but I couldn’t help computing how many plastic cups I went through in a year. Every single time I bought a drink, I felt guilty about that damned cup. I distinctly remember one of my friends saying, “Naiisip mo pa yan?” I couldn’t help it but at the same time, I didn’t do anything about it. Hindi pa uso ang Klean Kanteen no’n, so the idea of bringing my own cup for my daily lemonade didn’t really cross my mind.

This kind of gives you an idea of how important the environment is to me (and also how exhausting it is to be in my head). But it turns out, I was right to be anxious. I recently wrote about waste management (I know, so sexy) and found out just how bad the trash situation is. Consumption is at an all-time high and waste is growing exponentially, but we don’t have the right infrastructure to deal with it. Our landfills are filling up too quickly; at this rate, the 19-hectare Rodriguez landfill isn’t expected to have the same life span as the 20-hectare Payatas dumpsite, which took 15 years to fill and is now permanently closed. And there’s a huge amount of trash floating in our oceans, of which our tiny country is the third biggest contributor (for shame!), according to a report by the Ocean Conservancy and McKinsey Center for Business Development. (This is the result of the aforementioned lack of efficient waste management plus the illegal dumping of trash by garbage haulers near open water.)