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  • Endorphins


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  • Our CR1 Visa (DCF) Journey

    CR1 Visa Process (via US Embassy Manila)


    CR1 (Conditional Resident) - This is the immigrant visa that you could apply for if you are a non-US citizen married for less than 2 years to a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident of US. The visa itself acts as a green card valid for 1 year (if you haven't applied for the green card yet). Once the green card fee is paid, the green card that comes with this visa is only temporary and valid for just 2 years, and you have to apply for removal of conditions before it expires to get the permanent (10-year) green card. This visa, that comes with a green card, allows you to enjoy benefits and privileges of a lawful permanent resident of the US such as applying for a social security number, getting a driver's license, opening a US bank account, buying properties, getting employed and others.

    And to be able to apply for this, your USC husband/wife has to file a petition (Form I-130) to the US Embassy in your country.


    Additional Note: Since this walk-through is mainly about the CR1 (spouse visa) process done via direct consular filing, make sure first that you meet the requirements to be eligible to do this - one of which is staying (not necessarily residing permanently) in the Philippines for 6 months or more.


    I've been an active member of VisaJourney Forum since the day we filed a petition for a US spouse visa and a lot of the members there has been asking about our experience since it seemed to be fast-paced, it almost seemed like it's too good to be true. I know I'm not alone and I'm pretty sure there are a lot out there who share a similar experience. I just wanna share ours - what we went through, the requirements etc., as well as mistakes and lessons learned that could have saved us even more time, as I know it can get confusing especially if you get mixed information. Let this serve as a step-by-step walk-through and I hope to be of help to current and future applicants. Disclaimer: I'm not an expert on this, this is just a personal experience. Sometimes, there are cases that would actually require an immigration lawyer, by all means, do so.


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  • Second Chances


    I turned to the other side of the bed. I reached for you. But you're not there. It was like waking up from a dream. 


    I was never the type who believes in second chances. I was skeptical. A realist. I've always believed that once something is broken, it can never be rebuilt again. 


    "Love is like an antique jar. The older it gets the more precious it becomes. But once it's broken, things are never the same again."


    So when he asked me, "what made you decide to give me another chance? " I paused for a while. I searched myself for reasons why. 

    I guess despite the harshness of reality and cruelty of life's everyday struggles, my faith in humanity never once faltered. Plus if we're always afraid and inhibited, we would never get where we want to. 

    I always had this negative notion on second chances. To me then it was like an extension of pain, of disappointment - of even more time wasted. But now I realized, it mostly has to do with the person you give second chance to. He has always been good to me even in the worst of situations so I couldn't deny him of that chance to make it up to me - to prove that things can be better. That, and I love him. I never really stopped.

    People are always afraid of rejections and disappointments. I mean, who would want to go through all the pain when they could just run away? Why go through that long, winding road undoing the past, rebuilding what's broken when it's so much easier to start anew?

    So I thought deep and it occurred to me: this is not giving him a second chance, this is about giving myself a second chance to believe in love again. I don't want to create a new life with someone new because honestly it's just exhausting. I'm tired of dating and getting to know someone. I'm at a point in my life where I know exactly what I want and that is to finally have someone to spend life with, to build dreams with, to plan for the future with...and to eventually grow old with. And I couldn't picture myself doing all of those things with anyone but him. I want him who made me believe in love at its purest form. He who despite modernization and technology believes in chivalry and courtship and that girls should be wooed. He who values faith in God and family more than anything else. How often do you find someone so perfect and have the opportunity to have him in your life? I once had him and lost him. And now he's knocking at my door again so would I deny myself of the second chance at happiness? Of love that I always wanted?

    Second chances require more effort. More work. More commitment at showing the person you're trying to win back you are worthy. At the same time, it requires a level of honesty and openness and a certain degree of vulnerability knowing that in love there is always that risk of getting hurt. 

    I cannot keep telling myself "I got hurt and I don't want to trust again" because honestly, it's a lot more work keeping my doors locked than just letting it go and let life take its course. Life goes on. And it goes pretty fast. One day I'm 18, the next I'm... Well the point is, why deny yourself of happiness when you can just be.

    Second chances are not traveling back in time for a do-over. It's about learning the mistakes of the past so that you'll be more able to give and receive the right kind of love with the right person. Because in relationships, you don't just look at one person's flaws and shortcomings,  it's always a mutual decision to commit to love and a partnership against all odds. 

  • Broken

    It was the longest.. and the most painful thing I had to go through.

    My friends are amazed how I am able to pull it through

    No one has the faintest idea how much it took toll on me

    To watch the man that you love slowly pull away

    Little by little each day

    His eyes grow more sadness than flame

    He lost the passion, he seized to care

    Now nothing but my heart and I are here to stay.

    I had to pretend nothing's wrong

    I could only cry in my sleep

    I had to suffer in silence

    I had to go through each day acting like it didn't cut me so deep.

    I love him. So much. Like the words could barely measure up.

    I loved him with all the love I can give only it seems never enough.

    "I'm no longer happy" was the saddest thing I ever heard from him.

    And it stabbed me straight through my chest

    Long before I could even protest.

    I thought love is about fighting.. I thought it's about not giving up.

    I thought love is not ever wanting to hurt the person you love.

    I thought love is about taking risks.. taking chances..

    And believing, just believing, that anything's possible.

    My heart is weeping. Still.

    Letting go is the hardest thing to do. Forgetting is the closest next.

    I can't remember the happy times anymore.

    All that was left is hurt

    Immeasurable, inexplicable.. just enormous amount of pain.

    Pain that's enough to make me weak and numb.

    And still recognize the unfamiliar emotion I have not prepared myself for.

    'Coz I thought this day would never come.

    Still you said, I'm not "the one".

    And just like that... you're gone.

  • 'Till Then

    I still remember the time when you were right here beside me
    You were looking at me with that look of love in your eyes
    Sometimes I wish you can choose the moments in your life,
    press PAUSE and REPEAT through infinity
    Moments when you were just... happy.
    I miss you...
    Every day it's getting tougher and tougher to hold on
    To remain strong and keep the faith
    To reminisce that memory of us when
    we held hands watching the sunset
    Or that deep conversation we shared about life at the balcony
    Or the kiss that had long lingered still on my mind
    And things slowly get lost in a blur
    I want you...
    Right now. Right here.
    I wish I could say with confidence that I'm the best for you
    Like how you have always thought me to be
    But I can never be perfect
    And still you have loved me.
    I love you...
    Until now I still get overwhelmed
    with the intensity of emotions it entails
    With the immensity of life it takes from us
    With the measure of time it takes and never gives back
    Still, it didn't stop us from betting on the bigger world before us
    The world that promises haven for us two
    Until we meet again,
    and the longer I can have you.

  • Things I Learned From Video Games


    Sometimes you get to a point in life where in you wonder if you're living the kind of life you're suppose to - whether you're going on the right track or you need a change.

    "Are we alone? 'Coz I needed something to believe in..."

    Time goes by and I watch peole around me grow and build a life of their own. My friends one by one disappear into someone else's wife, they get married, raise a kid, travel or do the adult stuff society expects of them. While I, after all these years, haven't quite figured out just yet what I want in life. What do I want?

    Happiness. True and lasting happiness is what everybody has always wanted. And still, how do you find such? Where do you find the contentment?

    I have tried to travel around to see new places, meet new people, try new things and discover my potentials or how far I can get. Somehow, I'm back to square one.

    So I idly spent one rainy afternoon in my bedroom thinking about life, and also, playing some video games. Yes, you read that right. Whenever I get overwhelmed with things going on around me I always go back to the child inside me - naive, carefree, not thinking twice. It's a lot easier to be happy back then. Give a kid throwing a tantrum an ice cream cone and he's good for the day. But what could a twenty-something year old want? What could make her happy?

    I shrugged it off, put my mental faculties to rest and engaged myself for a couple of hours in the virtual world with my handy gadgets. Then it dawned on me, life teaches us what we need to learn in the most creative ways possible - either through other people, a personal experience, a passage we read from a book, some song lyrics we heard on the radio on our way home and now, it turns out playing video games meant more than beating my previous high scores.

    Angry Birds

    Those ill-tempered birds are not just about strategizing. Somehow, in its crazy ways, it teach us that you shouldn't let bad days get the better of you. When someone has wronged you, it's alright to fight back but you shouldn't act rash or make decisions at the heights of your emotions. You should still think carefully and plan your actions no matter what. Although you can always figure out things by trial and error, it's also a time wasted committing the same mistakes over and over again. You should always consider that which gives you the most benefits for it only gets tougher through time.

    Plants vs. Zombies

    Life would never run out of zombies - of people who would test you, or judge you, or try to bring you down. You should always be prepared for all possibilities. You should know how to defend yourself when needed. Arm yourself with the right resources - knowledge, strength and courage to face it all.

    Super Mario

    Now, my very first game ever. Somehow it made me realize (as the screen constantly moves forward as you move and there's no turning back) that life doesn't wait for anyone. You just keep going. Think smart and think fast. Along the way you face different obstacles. As you trudge along the course of life, you're constantly tasked to make decisions; decisions that will make or break you. But I believe there is no such thing as failure. Only a lesson learned, a success delayed, or some silly story you tell your friends over some bottles of cold beer. It never hurts to have a goal. Mario may have spent his entire time looking for Princess Daisy but... well, let me put it in two ways: First, having a purpose gives us the feeling that we're here on earth for a reason, that we're working hard for something and not just free-floating. Knowing it's all gonna pay off in the end make all the life's struggles bearable. Second (and the cheesy part), people have constantly searched for "the one." Admit it, it's all been part of our lives and it's considered as a basic need by Maslow. So, at the end of the day, if you meet Princess Daisy only to realize it's just a monster in disguise who tricked you and you feel like all your efforts are gone in vain, don't lose hope. Don't be afraid to fall in love again. For all you know, she may be on the next level.

    Temple Run

    Just keep going. Never back down on anything. Never be afraid of the challenges ahead. Sometimes it helps to have a competition - even if it's just yourself. So you always have a reason to do better each time. Just thinking running through life and wanting to finish first or ahead of others is good enough of a motivation. Still, it matters which path you choose as it will dictate the course of your journey. You may get lost for a bit, get derailed from your original plans, but as long as you focus on where you're headed you'll always get to your destination. But then again, life is a never-ending journey.


    Just take it all in! Whatever life throws at you, never hesitate to seize the moment. Just grab all the opportunities you can and avoid what's harmful for you. It's always better to gain more in life - not of tangible things but of memories and life experiences. Just enjoy the ride and stop skipping ahead to the end of the road. You never know what you've been missing out.

    "Live life to the fullest. Don't put your life on hold for a goal, for you may not live long enough to achieve that goal."


    Some things are just not meant to be. There's an appropriately sized and shaped brick that would perfectly fit on that void. You cannot push something that's not meant to be there. Otherwise you're gonna end up with a poor foundation, you screw up the whole structure and everything crumbles. The same way as not all people you meet in your life are meant for the keeping. No matter how much you want to cling on them, sometimes it's a lot better to let go and accept things the way they are. Sometimes you meet them to help you at a particular time of need. Sometimes to teach you of a lesson. And sometimes, they just had to play a cameo role in your life's screenplay.

    Zombie Tsunami

    My latest addiction, haha. This game opened up my eyes to a better understanding of friendship and interpersonal relationships. It has taught me the value of teamwork and working together towards a common goal. But then again, in life, you can only have as much friends as you want and not all of them will stick around for long or will be able to help you out in the long run. Some may drag you down. Some may abandon you along the way. Some may walk the opposite way. Some you just have to let go for they are only there because they needed you at that time. Some may fail you. Some may not live up to your expectations. But you don't hold grudges. They're your friends. What you do is just move on. There are times that having just a handful of real people in your life can get you far. So learn to trust those who are worthy of your trust and let go of the people who thrive in negativities. You are not living their lives but yours.

    And... at the end of it all, there's always the option to try again. Succeed. Save the game.

  • Bittersweet Refrain (a romance fiction)


    It isn't a butterfly. A moth perhaps. Some sort of dark, brownish in color with quite long antenna extending on its rear end. Its dull-colored wings are thin and slender as to the leaves of what the people call "money plant" intertwined by the end. And it seems like its looking at me as I gaze up at it on the ceiling. It was the second time I saw that same creature inside our house. First, on the wall of my bedroom and now, high above the firmament of the intersection between two rooms. Moths sleep during the day and I suppose it is for it could have long fell down the ceiling if it's already dead. People have this belief that late relatives or loved ones who passed away take the form of black or brown butterflies so when you see the it fluttering inside your house, it is the spirit of a loved one who died recently paying you a visit. And more often than not do people mistake large moths for butterflies. Who could be this one? Is it…? Oh, so much for the weird beliefs.

    Grandma Sophie died a couple of weeks ago from a heart attack. It runs in the family I guess. Still, her loss is painful for us up to now. She truly was a great person. We got along very well during her days and I sure miss her a lot. Who would take care of me now that my mother and I are the only ones left living together? My mother is always out for work. My father, on the other hand, died when I was four years old and I was the only child. Our relatives live downtown and we seem like total strangers in this oddly quiet subdivision. Another thing that is so puzzling is the key my grandma has handed down to me before she passed away. I never knew what the key is for…and I would never figure it out now. A key to some sort of treasure perhaps? Nope. My grandmother spent the whole seventy years of her life in plain living and I doubt if she ever put up a business or anything that will earn her tons of money before she died. We wouldn't be struggling for money then. I remembered my mom asking me once what the key was doing hanging in my chest through a twelve-inch chain of gold to complement it's rusted luster, intrigued by how precious it had become to me that I always wear it wherever I go. I would ask her stuff about the bronze key and she would end up even more puzzled as I have. Nobody knows what the key is for. And great are the questions handed down to me as granny left me with the heavy thing which weighs, to my estimation, almost a pound or even more for it nearly fits half of my palm.

    "Your grandmother sure is a very secretive person", my mom would often joke. But I'd rather think of her as…mysterious. Though we are so close to each other, she never spilled out any of her childhood memories or even how she met my grandfather and stuff like that, the usual things a grandmother and grandchild would converse about and reminisce. I never knew much about her. That is also the reason why I am so surprised to have discovered a bunch of photos of her with a person I never before seen hiding under her bed. I only got the opportunity to go over it now that she's gone. I remember when I first found it, accidentally, scattered on top of her desk when I was looking for her. I didn't hear her came in so when I turned, I startled to see her teary-eyed in front of me and she pleaded that I go out because she didn't want me to see her cry. I checked over the photos this time, for the second time, taking a good look at the man sitting beside her in a bench. It was somewhat a park, a place called Hunter's Grove as the signboard next to their seat implies and seeing the sea of fallen leaves peeping beneath the soles of their feet, I could tell it was way past autumn. The photo is black and white with white borders so I can't really say what the color of the man's coat is. But there's no denying the fact that the man is so handsome, hair slightly curly at the temples, mustache thinly arranged on top of his lips as his arms stretched behind her, resting his right hand on her shoulder. My grandmother, on the other hand, hair extending long behind her was wearing a dress, bear at the shoulder blades, billowing above her knees. My granny's hand was placed on her lap as the gentleman's left hand covers them. And they seem so happy back then. How I wish to have known the man. The way my granny's lips curved to expose her pearly white teeth... my grandmother had always had the best smile. And the way her eyes sparkle even though the sun sets behind the mountains leaving them a dark twilight at the park only enliven by lamps hung on the posts…she seemed like…she was so much in love with him. Weren't they? The way they appear in the picture, it looks as though it was a photo of two lovers having the best day of their lives. And there are plenty of the likes. A picture of them, together, hands entwined walking past Hillary Theatre. On the other, they were dancing, her hands clasped around the gentleman's neck as her long gown sweeps off the dance floor. And on the other their mouth shut open, side by side in a roller coaster in an amusement park called "Fun Land".

    And this gave me the urge to unfold the mysteries of her past…my grandmother's untold youth.

    The first person I would ask about my grandmother would most probably be my mother, but she is rarely home so while she's out and I'm alone in our house I planned on visiting our relatives downtown to gather up information. Good thing I still have a couple of weeks to spend before the start of classes this year.


    I went to see grandma Norah, sixty-five, the only sister granny have and who is still alive. I spotted the old woman on the porch, seated though steadily on a rocking chair, knitting, from my point of view – a couple of meters still away from her – a pair of blue mittens for the coming cold season. I hurried my steps to get to her side, ascended the three-step-ladder entrance to the terrace where she is and bent down to kiss her on the cheek.

    "What a short notice… what can I do for you…my dear," she whispered, delighted to see me.

    "Hello grandma Norah… I just dropped by to see you and…. I wish to ask about…regarding some matters which I…I find of the utmost import" I stammered and I gazed at the woman, her watery eyes narrowed as she stared back at me, her curly salt-and-pepper hair blown by the wind.

    "Tell me, honey, w-what is it t-that…bothers you…child", she smiled.

    "It's Grandma Sophie…"

    "What about her...?"

    "No, I mean…these photographs..." I showed her the images and watched her as she looks at the photographs, searching for every detail, wondering what it is I am anxious to know.

    "These are great photos, where did you get this?"

    "It's Grandma Sophie's"

    "Really? But I haven't seen these before"

    "Exactly my point."

    "Y-Yes, t-these…are indeed, photographs of her youth…but," she stood before she looked at me and descended the wooden stairway. I followed her from the veranda across the open garden.

    "She never looked as gay and…lovely as before…"

    "How about the guy, do you know him?"

    She turned to me and a soft grin beamed on her face. I led her to the part of the garden where the red roses are just about to bloom. The hum of the birds resounding in midst sky, clear sky of the morning.

    "How come we know so little about her… how about you grandma Norah, how much do you know about your sister?" I inquired as I watched her take her feeble steps toward the flowers, catching their petals falling on her hand as she touches them one by one. The hem of her dress racing with her pace, and she began:

    "I remember, when we were still young… w-we used to play together…when I get wounded, she would nurse me and…she's great at it", she uttered feebly. She turned her direction to the bright sky as memory flashed back and time turned backwards.

    "It was her eighteenth birthday…when she met him. Kyle Andrews. Oh, such a perfect, perfect man. So astute…s-so gentleman…I got a crush..on him even…but no, oh no, he h-has only heart for one..woman…my sister. She, in turn, was very, very beautiful. Y-you wouldn't notice her loveliness at that instant but when you know her…oh, such a perfect…perfect person", she grinned and overwhelming feelings enveloped her as she narrates the story of their days.

    "What about him, Kyle A-a... What is it?"

    "Andrews. He was very rich and popular. Many girls come running after him… but he loves…my sister most", she spoke.

    "How come she didn't let anybody or even me know about him?about her life before? About—

    "She hated the pain of his loss…."

    "He died?"

    "And she suffered so many years…t-that's why she became frail and sickly.. b-but you helped her…you helped her at least b-bring back…the light in her…" she hardly breathed the words.

    "I have always wanted to help her"

    "I know, I know… that's why you are great…dear…" she reached my hand and caressed it before she held it so tight and I felt the warmth of her aged hands.

    I stared in her eyes. I wanted to know the answers, the reasons…I know it's something sad, and dark and hard…but I want to know it all. Then, I asked her:

    "What happened?"

    "Josephine and Kyle had a fight right before Kyle flew to one of his business trips around the world. My sister knows too well, even before…Kyle is someone you should not trust. She suspected a third party…but that was only a mere suspicion…and my sister just loves him so much… And besides what I already told you I know of nothing else more…She always doesn't want to talk about it…so secretive and…aloof "

    I pulled out the key hanging from my neck and showed it to her.

    "Grandma, this key…do you know anything about this key that she left me before she died?" I uttered, hoping for some clear answers to the puzzle that grandma left unsolved.

    "I'm sorry dear…but I know nothing about it…"

    I ate lunch with her and it was almost six in the afternoon when I returned home.


    "Why, you're early this day mom." I met her at the doorstep. She is dressed in black, in her nighties, and she is somewhat preoccupied with something.

    "Well, I finished all my paper works early and I didn't have to bring them home so, lucky me" she grinned and I noticed a rectangular thing she was weighing on her side. It was covered with white cloth and I could easily tell it was a frame of some sort.

    "Where have you been, honey?" I heard her spoke again.

    "I've been to grandma Norah's house."

    "Something important? Problem?"

    "Nah, just paying her a visit" I replied. "What's that mom?" when my attention was finally caught by the object she is carrying on her side.

    "Oh, nothing. Just trashing an old crap. A painting by some unknown artist. Mom's favorite" she said.

    "If it's granny 's favorite…then why are you trashing it?"

    "Well, we don't have any room for some old junk. And besides, it will help us move on."

    "But it's no junk, mom! It's grandma's treasure. It's the only keepsake she left us and it's antique. It might not have any value because as you said an unknown artist painted it, it is still grandma's. And I don't want that "moving on" you're talking about if it means taking away grandma out of the picture." I stated bitterly.

    "Oh well, you can have it if you like. I don't want to argue. I'm tired." She uttered, irritated and she pushed the painting to me and I caught its weight on my body before I saw her stomped up the stairs.

    I brought the painting, almost dragging it, inside my room. I looked for a hook on the wall where I could hang it. Then I saw a perfect place. I retrieved the picture of my mom and I from the wall and replaced it with the painting. It is a painting of a Mountain. The painting was in a front view angle. I could just see myself in the picture now. The top of the mountain was all-covered up by sparkling white snow. Tall and green pine trees surrounded the mountain, and there were houses that seemed like tiny little spots of colors at the foot of the mount. Birds fly in the clear sky as tranquil wind seemingly blows off a cool breeze. Grasses and bright flowers were blossoming on the ground amidst the blanket of white glittering snow. And the sign says Hunter's Grove. The colors of the painting are so detailed that it almost seemed like real.

    "This is a work of art" and I gazed at the beauty of the masterpiece hung before me, mesmerized and awed.

    I touched the painting, caressed it, and wonder why even if I saw the painting so many times before, it seems familiar only now.

    "Wait a minute… Hunter's Grove. Hunter's Grove…Haven't I heard of that name before? That's it", I thought and I grabbed the photos I hid in my pocket, the ones I showed grandma Norah a while ago. I pulled out the one shot in a park and a shudder of surprise struck me. The structure of the park…and the place drawn in the painting… They're the same! Same structures, same ground, same trees, same place, all the same!

    Hunter's Grove. It must have homed the answers to my questions, the key to all perplexities.

    "Jeanette, dinner is ready!" I heard mom cried from down the hallway so I hurried down the stairs to the dining room where the delightful sight of chicken salad and fettuccine alberto, and the aromatic scent of grilled pork awaits me. I mixed up a bunch of smoothies for us, mom's favorite, before I seated myself next to her in our dining table. I swallowed my serving of chicken salad as mom busily munched on her grilled pork. A couple of minutes of stillness then I broke the silence.

    "I've been downtown to Grandma Norah"

    "Yeah, I heard you mentioned that earlier"

    "You know why?"

    "Why?" and she eyed me narrowly, bewildered.

    "I asked her about the photographs of granny I saw"

    "Oh, the one you showed me the day after the burial…So, what's her reaction?"

    "Same as yours."

    "I didn't know mom was quite a catch back then. I told you it's not so much of a fuzz" and she flinched and swallowed a spoonful of rice and began chewing.

    "What about the painting… Do you have any idea where she bought it? And I even wonder why it's kind of thicker than the usual…" I asked.

    "I don't know. She already has it even before I was born"

    "Hmm… Now you're talking"

    "Hey, what are you a little Nancy Drew? What's with these interrogation stuff?" she chuckled.

    "I just want to know the person I thought I knew and yet a real stranger to me all along. I can't believe I know so little about Grandma Sophie", I drank my smoothie, quivered with the crystals of ice that hugged my teeth and the sweet-and-sour taste of the fruit, then I continued.

    "Tell me, how much do you know her?"

    I saw her stopped from her eating, placed the silverware on her plate, fingers intertwined before she faced me and started:

    "Well, I've known her as the best mother in the world there is. She told me that my father died in a civil war so she was forced to raise me all by herself and with the help of aunt Norah…"

    "So, that's the reason that woman never married," I interrupted.

    "I don't think so" she giggled.

    "Go ahead," and I lolled at my seat to listen to her with ease.

    "And I never knew him…Dad. She said she was just three months pregnant when she left."

    "W-wait a minute… you never met him?"

    "Nope. Ever."

    "Don't you think that the man in the picture with granny would most likely be…"

    "My father? Oh no, no. I know that guy, silly."

    "You know him!" I stared at her, wide-eyed, astonished.

    "Of course I do, he's aunt Norah's husband or should I say…man," she replied.

    "What?" I exclaimed. I can't believe this, now there's even more pieces of the puzzle missing than I thought.

    I never finished my meal for I was, in the moment, in a far more important discovery.

    "And I thought she's an old maid," I murmured.

    "No. She's unmarried, yes, but never an old maid."

    "But I never heard her even get involved with anybody…"

    "Neither do I. I only found out about it when mom died, aunt Norah arrived home from Alaska for her sister's wake and she took him with her at the mourning, riding on his wheeled chair. He's pathetic, I tell you, he can't even move a muscle."

    "Oh yeah I remember! That's him? I mean.. I never had an inkling it could be him. Well, I only vaguely remember the man since grandma kept anyone from talking to him. And they never stayed long for me to actually get the chance to ask who he is or how he knows grandma."

    And then I thought... She's hiding him. For I could have seen him when I visited her in her house.

    "I tell you, she's not really the type of woman who makes friends or gets along with anyone" and mom began transferring the dirty dishes to the sink. I helped her and she started washing them.

    "What does grandma Norah's husband doing with granny in the picture?" I thought, as clouds of mysteries grew to envelop my mind.


    "Hi grandma Norah!" I greeted when the door of the old lady's house opened after ringing her twice. She sure is shocked to see me.
    "Boy, nothing quite like a surprise visit", I wondered and I hid a mischievous grin beneath my innocent facade. I continued my pace toward the living room and saw the man she can no longer hide from me now that I caught him before me, on his wheelchair. The man is so slender, balding with almost little white hair remaining on his top to shed off with the time remaining in him. He is wearing a thick turtleneck sweater, checkered blue. A blanket of black wool on his lap covers the lower appendages. His cheeks slackened, eyes dark and deep, face livid, mouth trembling as though his features betrayed the fact of his existence.

    "Kyle Andrews," I saw him moved yet only slightly, as he fears the pain it would cause him, his eyes in deep amusement turned to his unexpected guest.

    "W-who…a-are..y..you…?" he uttered. I approached him, ignoring the old woman's refusal behind me.

    " I'm Jeanette Simmons. I believe you know my grandmother…Josephine Gardner?" I started.

    "Excuse me!" Grandma Norah stormed from behind and hurried to his side.

    "T-this is ridiculous… He doesn't know what you're talking about" she retorted. All of a sudden her voice seemed firm and strong.

    "Let him answer," I stated sharply.

    Then the old man, seemed like on his eighties already, and with so much effort, raised his right hand to prevent the upcoming of a possible commotion.

    "I t-think…it's about time…that everyone knows the truth," he said and the two of us froze and awaited his words.


    "I love you so much, Kyle… I don't want to lose you," she whispered to his ear and his arms tightened around her as they gently sway in the romantic melody of waltz. They swept the dance floor the whole night and young love filled the Grand Ball.

    "You won't, as long as you continue loving me…" he breathed on her ear and she leaned her head on his shoulder as the music went on.

    The evening dance that almost seemed endless turned into a stop. Josephine searched for Kyle but he was nowhere to find.

    "Now can we go?" she heard a girl spoke in the hallway so she hid herself beside the nearby glass cabinet of keepsakes where in the dusk she could not be seen.

    "Alright, alright. But this would be the last time. I don't want Sophie to see us…And you won't spoil our wedding next week."

    Josephine was startled to see who the silhouettes are concealing themselves from the glance that knows too well.

    "Kyle…N-norah…" teardrops fell down from her eyes down to her cheeks and she sank down, deeper, lost beyond the darkness…


    "What are you doing here?" Josephine clamored as a familiar face stood by her front door.

    "Sophie, what is the matter, honey? Why aren't you dressed yet? It's our wedding today, remember?" his voice broke and tears ran down on his face.

    "I am not marrying anyone. Not that I know of as dishonest," she replied bitterly and she gazed at him as tears blurred her sight.

    "Don't lie to me Kyle, I saw you… you and Norah, in the hallway, the night of the ball… Stop pretending like you don't even know what all of this is about! How could you do this to me, Kyle… How could you hurt me? You know that I had loved you… and given you my all…" her words trailed off and she shut the door closed.

    "Sophie! Sophie! Please let me explain!" he cried, but not for long, the door would open for him no more.

    A couple of weeks passed, Sophie received a package. She picked it up right at the doorstep and opened it. A bunch of crumpled papers protected what is lying inside the box, a key and a letter. She read what the letter says:

    "Dear Sophie,

    I'm sorry for what I've done. Remember the day you and I had this small fight? I was so lonely and upset then… Norah was there to comfort me and while we're away… something happened between us. When we reconciled, I knew I loved you even more but… Norah is having our baby and she wouldn't stop bugging me, threatening me that she would kill herself. She never let go of me, she wants me to father her child. I'm confused Sophie, you know that you're the only woman that I loved. I'm very sorry for what I've done to you. I know that what I've done is unforgivable still, I hope that someday you'll find forgiveness in your heart. Please keep the key… I know it is hard for you now to keep my memory but I want you still to have it. You have refused to take it before when we had an argument but keep it. I know someday everything's gonna be okay and we will be together again. And I hope you'll wait 'till that time comes. I love you.



    Tears rushed down her face. She felt all her strength and defenses crumbled as she held the letter so tight, placed it close to her heart.

    "I love you Kyle, you know that. But Norah needs you now more than ever… as much as I need you…" and she gripped the key with her trembling hands as agony and solitude calls.


    "B-but why? Why didn't you do anything? Why didn't you beg, why did you leave her?" I exclaimed at the man who was now crying in front of me.

    "This is all my fault…" the old woman wept and immediately went to her room.

    "Norah and I went to Alaska to live there. And I can't even believed myself that Sophie ever found the forgiveness in her heart that she even wished for our safe departure. She had always have the soft heart, the understanding, the love… Maybe because she also cares for her sister as much as she cares for me. But Norah's child died in delivery and Norah was in a critical condition too so I can't leave her alone in the hospital. Just like what Sophie said… Norah needs me, so I never left her to come back to Sophie. I never even heard of her pregnancy to our child, only now that she's… gone" he sobbed when he finished his feeble talk.

    I left them. I walked my way home. All I want is to get away… away from that house. I never knew where my feet are going until I stopped and came up with my senses. Hunter's Grove. It seemed like only yesterday when Kyle and Sophie have been in this place… It's so much different now. Only few trees are left standing. The old, wooden benches are no longer there but benches made of bricks, statues of marbles and a fountain at the center of the park. Many people are strolling, roaming around and I don't seem to… fit in. I guess things do change. Everything changes as time goes by. People come, people go. That's the cycle called life.

    Back in my room, I lied down on the bed, facing the immense artwork before me. I approached the painting. Touched it. Caressed it.

    "Grandma… how can they do this to you… how can you have suffered such a bitter past… and yet you are like this mountain in winter on the painting… strong, cold, immobile, brave and unfaltering. Snowcaps conceal the true glamour of its beauty…" As I moved my fingers around it, I felt something odd. A little mounted surface, a tiny bulk, an unbelievable bulge at the lower right of the painting. I poked it. It seemed to… wear off. Determined, intrigued, I worked my hands on the little bulged surface, scratching it off, then I startled to my surprise. A keyhole. That's what the key is for! I slowly inserted the key hanging from my neck to the little opening, gave it a little twist and turn then finally… it opened. I peeked inside the little hole and pictured a tiny red velvet box plus a folded piece of paper. I reached my thumb and forefinger inside to get it. I unfolded the paper. A letter. I began to read.


    I can't think of no other finer way to show you how much you mean to me but by this. I know you are familiar with this painting. Why, this is the picture we painted together in our favorite meeting place, remember? And remember when I borrowed it from you and took it home? The reason is… I made it more special by inserting my special gift for you inside. And you are so smart to have figured this out. I'm proud of you.

    I love you so much, honey. And I can't think of no other woman more worthy to be my wife but you. Will you marry me?


    I opened the red velvet box. A gold ring with a huge diamond sparkling on top of it met my inquisitive eyes and I felt the drop of warm tears on my fingers as I linger on the precious item I hold with my hand.

    Loss is bitter, truly, when you know there should have been a chance. When time is your enemy and a friend is also a foe. Nothing quite like a bittersweet refrain to a once magical tale.

    - END -

  • Just SMILE: The Real Deal Behind the Ubiquitous Smiley Face and the Science of Smiling


    Yesterday as therapy session with my 3-year old client diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) with accompanying speech and language deficits was just about to start, the parent of my kid from the previous session just arrived and I had to give her feedback on how her child performed during our session.
    So before heading out of the therapy room to talk with my other kid's mom at the reception area I told my kid with ADHD:
    "I will go outside for a while, okay? But while I'm out I want you to stay seated and keep quiet inside. Don't go outside the room and don't grab anything."
    Then while he was seated in front of the table I left him something to monitor his behavior.
    "Look, I will leave you this paper. It has a big face on it. But it doesn't have a mouth yet. Later when I get back and I see that you're still sitting down and quiet, I will draw a smile on its face. But if you don't follow, I'll draw a sad face instead, okay?" And he nodded.

    So while I was out discussing with the mom of my other kid, of course I'm still a bit weary with how the other kid is doing inside the room with no one and without anything to do - and with just a drawing of a circle and two-dot eyes to oversee him. Even though I had asked another colleague to keep an eye on him from afar in case he wander around, this is going to be a big test for his impulse control and I was wondering if he can make it through. But I wouldn't be surprised if I get back inside the room with all the toys scatterred all around or worse, he has gone outside the room and has ran towards me because he couldn't wait that long. I've seen this kid for only three sessions prior and he was really really hyperactive and impulsive during the initial evaluation.

    After 5 minutes or so, I went back inside the room and found him just quietly sitting and looking at the face I had drawn. Everything is in its place and there's not a single mess or clutter that's not already been there. I've done this smiley test technique I invented myself a couple of times before and it still surprises me how it works each time. As a reward, I drew him the well-deserved smiley face he had patiently waited for.


    It has always amused me how the smiley face affects us in so many ways. We feel like a single text message when ended with a smiley face is more sincere. A statement written with an accompanying smiley face suddenly becomes positive and encouraging. The use of smiley face has also proven really useful in Occupational Therapy as positive reinforcement, not just for toddlers but for school-aged children as well; not just for children diagnosed with developmental or behavioral conditions but even with regular or normally developing kids.

    According to Cecil Adams (1993), the ubiquitous "smiley face" we know - two-dot eyes, and an upward curve on a yellow circle was originally invented by Harvey R. Ball in Worcester, Massachusetts around 1963 to boost the morale of their workers after the merging of two companies. It was a big hit then and the fad lasted for a year or so. Up to this date, we still see commercialized smiley faces, some like exact replica, and others of some various derivatives.

    At therapy sessions, kids go gaga over smiley faces. Even the most hyperactive and defiant kid would give anything just to be rewarded with a smiley face. So, how can the iconic silly-looking yellow-faced grin have such a powerful effect?

    Dating as far back as in the olden days, we've always associated a smile as something positive. We feel happy, recognized, appreciated or at times, special and important, whenever we receive one.
    Throughout life, we've always worked hard for a smile. We feel all giddy when our crush smiles back at us. We feel good when someone shots us a full-faced grin. Even when traveling in a strange place, when you smile at a stranger they automatically smile back at you and thus breaking the ice or any cultural barrier there is. Later on, the smile just evolves into a pat on the back, a high five, words of affirmation, or tangible gifts.

    According to an article entitled: "Why do we smile?", babies usually start smiling, blinking and crying as early as the 26th week inside the womb but after birth, infants wouldn't smile until they are 6 weeks old - after they have finally adjusted with the difference in environment outside. This further suggests that smiling is a reflex to positive feelings - of happiness, stability and security.

    Later on a child begins his early cognitive development in dichotomy. He only recognizes good and bad, pretty and ugly before he begins to understand gray areas. This somehow explains why more often that not we find babies staring or smiling at more pleasant-looking people and crying at less good-looking people for no apparent reasons.

    But a "smiley face", as we know, is not real and nothing but a mere representation of anything positive. Scientists have long been studying about the different biological processes related to specific social events - and one of particular interest is that of Guillaume Benjamin Amand Duchenne, otherwise known as Duchenne de Boulogne, a French neurologist who coined the term "genuine smile" or the "Duchenne smile." According to Duchenne, a smile is activated by contractions of various muscles of the face such as the zygomaticus major and orbicularis oculi pars orbitalis. When the zygomaticus major or the muscles at the corners of our mouth contracts, it forms what we call "Pan American smile" or the social smile (see A, image below). When the orbicularis oculi or the muscles around our eyes contracts along with the zygomaticus major then it forms the "Duchenne smile" or the "genuine smile" (see B, image below). Duchenne reiterated that "mouth corners" only smiles are fake and a real smile should involve the eye sockets and mouth corners muscles. A genuine smile is believed to be produced as a result of a positive genuine emotion and is primarily involuntary whereas a Pan American smile is partly voluntary.

    Bottomline is: a real smile or not, a visual representation or a face-to-face interaction, a smile is perceived by the brain as something positive. Not only does it make us feel good when we're the one at the receiving end, it also makes us look good when we're the one smiling at others. Smiling also contributes to the general well-being of a person as numerous studies have already proven that those who smiles more live the longest. So make it a habit. After all, it's free. :)



    "Smiley face." (2013). Retrieved on August 14, 2013. Http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/961/who_invented_the_smiley_face

    "Smiling." (2013). Retrieved on August 14, 2013. Http://www.serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/49

    "The science of smiling." (2013). Retrieved on August 14, 2013. Http://blog.bufferapp.com/the-science-of-smiling-a-guide-to-humans-most-powerful-gesture

  • Deep Reverie

    Never stop challenging yourself everyday. Life is not meant to be trudged along a straight path. It is an intricate system of crossroads, of which at each stop you are tasked to make a decision. Everyday is an opportunity to live the life as we want it. You wake up in the morning you choose whether to get up as soon as you open your eyes or not. You get up and you decide whether to fix the bed first or head straight for breakfast. Seated at the dining table you decide whether it's gonna be cereals or sandwich. And, oops, you run out of cereals and you're already running late for work so you just took a quick sip of coffee and headed for the shower. A few minutes later you get dressed, get groomed and all set for work. And the story of your life goes on. Tomorrow is another day.

    Funny if you would look at the big picture and try to imagine each and everyone of us having to go through the same ordeal every single day - we just don't really notice it because it has been a routine for some time. And we, human beings, are hard-wired for automatic responses. It's amazing how life works. But if I'm gonna dig deeper into these thoughts, what I have observed is that, every single people on the planet is driven by a force. It is a thing that manifests in us as a "goal." Without a goal we lose the drive to do anything. People are destined to have something to look forward to in the end. It can be a reward. It can be a punishment. It can be a positive or a negative reinforcement. Either way it's comforting knowing something has a definite time frame for when it's gonna end whether in a good or bad way. This thing - the religious people would often term "god" or some other deity names still depending on who's preaching what is morally right or wrong. The scientists would call it an "idea" which brings forth subsequent discoveries. The romanticists would refer to it as "love" which gives a person a reason to justify his actions. Nonetheless, it all pushes us into having a goal.

    "Living on purpose is the only way to really live. Everything else is just existing." - Rev. Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life

    A goal sets us apart from machines. A goal sets us apart from animals driven by their instinctive need for survival. A goal somehow gives us direction, a sense into the world we're living - into the life where we're fated to take part of. And sometimes, you just need that something to hold on to.

  • Sensitivity



    ..”the hardest part is loving someone and having the courage to let that someone love you back..”

    This is by far the most touching quote that I’ve heard, and I could most relate to at the moment. It was stated by Nick Mercer, the leading man in the movie “The Wedding Date.” Indeed, sometimes we wish that everything could be easier than they seem. I love you..you love me..and we live happily ever after. End of story. But life, as complicated as always, is never like that. Love begets hurt. Hurt begets lie. Trust falls apart. And for some reason, it’s only us that create our own miseries. We complicate things that are but simple and ordinary. And at the end of it all, we bid the day goodbye with a load shit of regrets. Past is part of who we are, but sometimes I wish I could just erase it all up..that it won’t affect me in any way, ever again. But I’m wrong. It’s always a reminder of what used to be. 


  • LDR

    I was never a believer of long distance relationships (LDR) until I met someone who swept me off my feet and it's the only chance we got.
    My long distance relationship taught me a lot about life...about myself and most importantly...about what it is to really love.
    I can say that this love is unlike any other kind I had before. I've been in love so many times before and it always strikes me how different an experience it is each time. It's true as they say, one never falls in love the same way twice. I once loved a man who valued sanctity too much that it had caused me to go astray. I once loved a man who never exerted any efforts and just watched life take its course. I once loved a man who was constantly in doubt and whom his heart never wanted to be caged. I once loved a man I couldn't trust. I once loved a man who couldn't take me for what I am and the kind of life that I have...and such was the most heartbreaking of all.

    Now I find myself drowning once again in the ambiguity of such abstract concept. After one relationship to another I thought I'm no longer capable of trusting and believing in love again. I wanted to believe I'm numb now from the constant pains. I have convinced myself I'm gonna give my heart a break and let me find myself. I had built walls around me through the years that I myself would also demolish time and time again instead of waiting for the brave knight who's gonna climb himself all the way to the top. Because time is ticking and I have always feared being sad and alone, and growing old all by myself. So being in a relationship now, most of my friends were asking, why too soon? It wasn't so long ago since my last breakup. Are you settling? they ask. And so now I begin to ask myself the same question - am I? I have thought it through over and over again until I saw how I have changed.

    I'm no longer that shallow, silly girl who would put up a fight just because her date is 20 minutes late. LDR has taught me to be patient, even more, to wait indefinitely. I'm no longer that girl who has her world revolve around one person. LDR has made me notice all the things I have overlooked in the past, all the things I took for granted, all the people I have hurt because I had been selfish. It has taught me that while I grow in love with one person, I can still grow individually and not lose myself in the process. LDR has made me more mature and responsible in taking on life decisions - that as he makes the most out of his life from afar I can go on still with my plans and do the things I set out to. I'm no longer that envious little brat who gets green-eyed at every girl that makes passes at my man. LDR has taught me that love does not give us the right to own someone. Love is not about owning. More importantly, love doesn't set standards. Love is not setting limitations for what is right and what is wrong rather it gives us the ability to look past the flaws, to forgive constantly and to free oneself and just be happy. Love has blindspots, they say. But I think that love is rather innocent and pure until we succumb to peer pressure, to societal standards, to the old age convention.

    A friend once told me, "you seem to care less though.. and if you think or act that way, you must not really love him." I don't know actually. Love is such a strong word. It's not something you confine in those three words or tangible gifts; or physical presence and intimacy; or even logic and reasons. But I also don't know how else to describe how I feel now and maybe, love is the closest I could come up with.
    People from time to time have always thought of ways on how to define love but the thing is, love is neither a concept nor a feeling. I think love is more of a state. You just know when it has struck you and once it does, it's your choice whether to acknowledge it or not.

    Loving someone from afar has made me more rational and understanding. It has taught me to be patient and forgiving. LDR has taught me how to love unconditionally - that loving is not about expecting to be loved in return but having the courage to face and go through life's uncertainties. That there is never an assurance that both of you would end up together.

    LDR has taught me that distance should not imprison you both in a world you created just so not to lose touch of each other instead you should live each day to the fullest and enjoy the company of friends. Because at the end of the day, you know he's out there waiting and more than willing to listen to all your silly stories.
    What matters more is the here and now. Today he may love you, tomorrow he may not. Why waste a lot of time worrying and living a complicated life when you can just treasure each moment that you had together, the memories you have of each other, and the mystery of whether you will see each other again.

    LDR has taught me that there's no permanent thing in this world but change. They say LDRs almost always never work out and you always end up with a broken heart.
    You long to have that companion during cold rainy evenings. You fain that comforting hug after a bad day. You search for that smile that greets you in the morning. You want to feel that kiss and hope it will last... You long to be with someone who could make you feel life as real as it gets. But LDR makes you remember his soft lips when he kisses and not the argument you had the night before. LDR reminds you of spontaneity and laughters when you were last together and not the awkward silence of too much familiarity after years of being together in one place. LDR makes you realize that somewhere on the other side of the world, another soul is thinking about you too, and life is not always as you know it. LDR makes you think multiple times before acting out. The space allows you to breathe for a while and think things through in a heated argument. The distance makes you think more about the other person and not just yourself. Thus giving you less room for hurts and mistakes.
    LDR helps you believe again and have faith. LDR keeps you wanting and longing for the other so that when you finally set eyes again, it is only as magical as the first time you met.

    Long distance relationship helps me to stay positive since it's the only choice I have. And above all this, long distance relationship, when with the right person, has taught me that love is not about finding someone to complete you. It's not about imposing changes but acceptance. It's not about making but keeping promises. It's not about having a perfect relationship but being at peace because you know that no relationship is ideal. What's important is that when you give love, you become a better version of yourself.

  • Quarter Life

    25.. Supposedly one of the greatest periods in anyone's life. It's the time when one is in his prime of physical health and beauty. The time when one is not just independent but also mature enough to make sound decisions. The time when one is more open to possibilities. The time to try new things and succeed, or fail and later on laugh about it.

    After my last relationship failed and here I find myself alone again I realized... hey, I've never really been single. I've never really been alone  long enough to really think about what I want in my life. All my life (well not really all my life, I mean, since I started dating haha) I'm always with somebody and somehow all the decisions I made henceforth are always affected by the person I'm with at that time. And before my dating era it's my parents who had the greatest influence on me. It's like they tell me what to do all the time and I'm such a good daughter to always follow through.

    So now that I'm alone, I choose to be happy. I choose to do things my way and reunite with myself. My real self. I choose to try new things and discover how far I could get. I don't want to be in my forties or fifties and regret not doing this or that. I don't want to be a coward to say I'm scared of these or those and not having the guts to even try and test myself. I want to push myself to the limits. I want to do things I've never done before. I want to travel the world, experience new cultures, meet different people. I want to find where my heart truly belongs. And then hopefully, I'll finally discover what could truly make me happy.  So that when the time comes that I feel like I've done enough with my life, I could finally settle down with that person - not someone I searched for and believed to be my other half, but someone as complete as I am and have lived life to the fullest. :D

  • LOVE

    "Let there be spaces in your togetherness, and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone. Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow."

    - Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

  • Mi Amore

    I love you...
    Are but three words said too much
    And yet to one person it means a lot
    How can three words put together equate to life itself?
    Like the unparalleled beauty of the endless sky at dawn
    Or the innocence of a cry of a newborn
    Like the ineffable coming together of orange and purple
    During sunsets as the sun kisses the abyss
    Like the irreplaceable comfort you feel when a rainbow appears after each storm
    Storms, of which you are uncertain when will ever stop.
    I love you...
    How can it take all your pain and sorrows away?
    Immeasurable bliss as the right one spoke
    How can it magically turn frowns into smiles..
    Tears into hopes..
    Moments into memories..
    Sufferings into happiness..
    How can it home one person both in your heart and in your mind?
    Both in your present and in your future
    Both in your dreams and in your realities
    Both in your fears and in your fantasies..
    I love you...
    Are but three words said too much
    And yet, they are never enough.

  • Some thoughts regarding RH bill and today's generation

    It's been a while since I decided to get back to blogging again, if it weren't for the boredom the holiday season brings. I guess it's more of that time of the year when all my creative juices just keep flowing, and darn, how I wish I have mastered "asdf typing" very well. It would have been so much easier speaking while the fingers do the talking.

    I remember way back how I get so fascinated reading those bulky encyclopedias, and whenever I encounter a new word I instantly look it up in the dictionary. Yep, that's me when I was a kid, haha. Funny how the generation has changed today. Instead of books, kids read game manual.  Instead of playing outdoor sports..well, yeah they still play those sports, except they're indoors holding their Wii. Instead of getting physically active and socializing with their peers, a lot of kids today prefer playing online games on the computer. So how does that affect them? I get a lot of referrals for therapy for kids who have grown aloof, introverted and socially retarded. They have delays in speech because they grew up watching Tom and Jerry, and playing Angry Birds. They grew up learning one of their first words as "braiiinnss." I'm just kidding. But these things are not so far from the reality of what's going on with our society today. Plus the fact that a lot of couples marry at a young age, have kids that are not so hard to be mistaken for as their younger siblings and in turn, meeting these parents for Occupational Therapy evaluation of their child - clueless, hopeless, begging to learn what they could possibly do. Seriously, it surprises me to know that the simplest advice I could give them regarding child-rearing could be so much of a big deal. My point is, shouldn't they know those things already before even thinking of starting out a family? Btw, I was so glad the RH Bill is finally passed into law. It's not that I'm pro abortion or against the teachings of the church (clearly, that's what those narrow-minded people think what family planning is all about). It's just nice to know that now everyone gets informed and everyone gets the right to choose - when they would like to start a family or have kids, and still enjoy one of the privileges of being in a heterosexual relationship - sex. Yes I'm saying it outright and I won't be a hypocrite about it.   

    I'm not here to put blames or place judgment on anyone. I just hope that people grow smarter as the years progress and start minding about more important matters at hand instead of wallowing on why Pacquiao lost his last fight or debating why Miss Philippines wasn't crowned Miss Universe.

  • Painting for Dummies

    It has been a known fact for me and my parents that whenever depression strikes me, I impulsively run straight to the department store and buy a couple of buckets of paints. For some time it served like my outlet, of which in psychology what they would usually refer to as “sublimation.” Sublimation is a positive defense mechanism in which you divert your attention from stressful events into more productive activities. And yes, “painting” has always topped my list. For a reason that, writing has always been a part of my life, and when I decide to write to counteract stress, I just end up writing over and over about it. Not to mention all my posts either being overly “cheesy”, exaggerated; morbid or way out of sense. So back when I was slowly being consumed by my torments from my last heartbreak, instead of writing (which I later on realized I still did nonetheless) one day I told my mom, “I want to paint our house.” Surprisingly, I did. I painted all the walls and the floors of our living room, kitchen, receiving area, and even our terrace all by myself. It’s not that my mom and dad didn’t want to help me, it’s just that I’m so particular with the details.. being a perfectionist, obsessive-compulsive that I am. So now our house is just painfully purple with a soft touch of peach. Of course I do the painting, so I choose the colors. Haha! Just recently, I also painted the walls of the second floor of our house mint green, the stairs yellowish, window panes peach, and my room.. well, guess the color. Purple! It’s a flirty mixture of ballerina pink, magenta, berry rouge and purple. 

    When I first painted, I was so foolish to think that painting could be the best remedy for my broken heart. I thought that when I change all the colors that I see around me, it changes everything, and it will make me forget all about the bad stuff. But then I realized, I don’t really change anything. I cover up my pale blue walls with bright pink and what I really did was just mask all the dirt and flaws. It is the same wall. I may try to change it in any way, but it is still the same. Like when you do a make-over to yourself, you change how you look but it is still the same you. We get a wound and cover it up with a bandage, but underneath it is a scar that will serve as a reminder that “hey, I’m your past and I beat you.”

    Whenever I look at my room, which now by the way is so girly, it’s funny because I can no longer remember how it looked like before. I recall how it used to be so dull and boring, but I can’t remember the exact way it looked before. I guess that’s the magic of it. When you change a part of you, you may not completely forget how it was before, but it makes all the looking-back bearable.

    So here’s some of the ‘basic’ things I learned about painting:

    1. You use acrylic for stone and latex for wood. When you try to mix both, for example, red acrylic and yellow latex, to come up with a new shade, it’s not really going to happen and it’s just going to be ugly. 

    2. It’s always best to really clean up the surface and scratch up all the remaining old paint before you cover it up with a new one, so you won’t end up wasting a lot of money covering up the same surface with 3-4 applications just to get the finish you desire.

    3. Cracks in woods or stones are ideally covered by what they call “mansilya.” You put it on the defected surface before applying paint. Others usually mix it to some paint then directly applies. When you lacked the time to go to the nearest hardware to purchase, a masking tape “may” work.

    4. It’s nicer to paint with rollers than brushes, because brushes usually leave a trail of lines as you brush, unlike rollers. However, rollers seem to “eat up” or absorb a lot more paint than paint brushes do.

    5. It’s really hard to remove paint on your skin, especially if it’s not water-soluble, particularly latex paint, which usually requires thinner to remove it. However, I tried baby oil once in removing paint stains on my face and it worked wonders.

    6. It’s always best to estimate and buy all the paints you’re going to need to finish the entire surface you’re painting before hand. So you won’t end up painting with one color and then the paint runs out, you head out to the hardware only to find out the shade you were looking for was sold out and you opt to buy another similar shade. And the thing is, it’s not entirely the same, you just end up starting all over again, wasting a lot of money.

    7. Don’t ever try to paint over a varnished surface, because you’ll only be losing a lot of paint than you can imagine. What happens is that, the wood only seems to absorb the paint with every application. You don’t get the color you want, it just turns yellowish, and the surface smells nasty. The best thing to do is, sand the entire surface first, clean off the dust, then voila!

    8. It’s always better to paint during weekends, or long breaks/vacations. Because what happens when you impulsively decides to paint (like me) is that you try as hard to finish everything in one day, but you realize it’s not possible because you have work tomorrow, and just like everybody else, you also need to sleep/rest. You only get frustrated that you can’t finish it, at the end of the day, you lose the motivation you need and it affects the quality of your work. Not to mention you miss some wee sleeping hours.

    …well, that’s it for now. Till my next paint job! ;p

  • I'll Be Happy When

    Right now, I’m just overwhelmed with a mixture of feelings… I was never used to writing at the height of my emotions because then I would be irrational. It happened yesterday, right when I’m starting to get used to the hang-ups of what has been starting to turn out to be my daily work routine. You wake up on a Monday…go to work. You wake up on a Tuesday…and go to work. Then it’s Wednesday. Then it’s Thursday and so on. Next week it will be Monday again, Tuesday again, so on and so forth. Until yesterday, I was shaken up or should I say beaten up by one of my ‘big’ kids that it served as a point of realization for me.

    I was riding on the fx bound home and, really, I couldn’t help but cry. Good thing it’s dim as tears are welling up beneath my eyes. It just feels so sad… Earlier that day, my ‘big’ kid as I have said threw tantrums because of a petty thing – I didn’t fix her hair into a “pigtail” just because I have only one rubber band with me at that time and she doesn’t want a “ponytail”. She got really agitated, she was hurting herself, and she almost broke the wooden tables and chairs inside the room. She banged and pushed all the things on the table that they scattered all over the floor. Worse, she broke the aircon, and she almost broke the window. I was trying to restrain her, as any OT would do, but I just can’t. I can’t remember how many times I hit my head on the wall just because I was trying to protect her from getting harmed or from hurting herself during the incident. I admit she was so much stronger, taller and faster than I am that I can’t contain her. Finally, her nanny came in and she tried to calm her. When she finally relaxed, and her nanny was out already, we continued with our session. I tried my best to control my emotions, I didn’t want to cry as she performs the activities… I was crying not because I got hurt. Really, it was nothing to me. I’ve seen or handled worse. Her nanny even told me that it was not the worst yet that she did. As an OT, I was used to handling kids with behavioral problems ranging from mild to severe – from simple pinching, biting, kicking to almost ruining the entire therapy room. I cried because…I felt worthless during that time. I wasn’t able to do anything. Being a licensed occupational therapist…who am I to lecture caregivers and parents regarding behavioral modification techniques when I can’t even restrain or control this kid from throwing tantrums?or from wrecking the room? After 4 years of college, I felt like I’ve learned nothing. I definitely felt terribly awful… Before our session ends, right when she’s about to finish our coloring activity, I gave her a blank sheet of paper where she could scribble or what we call in psychiatry, “sublimate” her aggressiveness. I was surprised to see her drawing circles which later on turned out to be “smiley faces”, and she filled out the entire sheet of paper. She colored them and after that she folded the paper into four. I was watching her as she does it and I was shocked that she handed it to me then kissed me on the cheek. Oh I get it! She actually made a sorry card for me. *aww..* This kid is non-verbal and she has autism. Although she can imitate verbally the words “sorry” when her nanny asked her to say so after she threw tantrums…this is really a big deal for me - to think that she actually thought of making a card to make up for what she has done? Isn’t that sweet! =)

    When I’m finally bound home…that’s when I pondered over the things that happened. Now I realized, all those “clinical reasoning” and “self-reflection” lectures by Mam Cabatan really come in handy in the real work setting. You begin to notice your mistakes and at the end of the day, you learn from them. How could I forget our psych lectures during internship?that to manage an aggressive patient, it’s not always best to confront him. If he’s mad to death, be calm and objective. That’s what I should have done during that incident. I should have tried to calm her down instead right when I see that being firm no longer works - that is what Behavioral Modification Technique is all about.

    “I’ll be happy when…” Now I realize how sad that sounds and how many people commit that same mistake. According to the book I’ve read entitled “Being Happy” - If we’re unhappy, it’s because life is not as we want it. Life is not matching our expectations of how it “ought” to be and so we’re unhappy. Happiness is a decision.” Like what the father of one of my patients told me, I’ve been living a fast-tracked, clock-driven life, I should take a break every once in a while. Wu-wei…just go with the flow. I think that’s how other happy people’s lives are. Hoff said: “When we learn to work with our Inner nature, and with the natural laws operating around us, we reach the level of Wu Wei. Then we work with the natural order of things and operate on the principle of minimal effort. Since the natural world follows that principle, it does not make mistakes. Mistakes are made – or imagined – by man, the creature with the overloaded Brain who separates himself from the supporting network of natural laws by interfering and trying too hard.” I’m always setting standards for myself. I’ve always been obsessive-compulsive, perfectionist-idealist type of person…and now it has consumed me. It’s starting to set boundaries of what I could measure up for happiness. “I’ll be happy when…” Now I know I should be happy because I’m blessed for all these. And just like Winnie the Pooh’s philosophy – while Eayore frets, and Piglet hesitates and Owl pontificates…Pooh just is. I am what I am now, and it’s exactly what I need to be happy. I commit mistakes, I learn from them, and everyday I grow as a better person.

    Right now, my head still aches during that incident...but it doesn't matter. It would continue to remind me of my desire to shape the behavior of my kid, to fulfill my wish if it's ever possible, to see her live as normally as any individual could. ^_^

  • when you realized you've found the one...

    It's quite amusing when you're with someone for quite some time and you find yourself wondering..how long am i going to stick with this person? Then you wake up all of sudden thinking why everything seems to have changed, and that something felt a lot stronger..

    There are days when i'm at my lowest that i couldn't even paste a smile..that i want to get mad at him, i get so irritated of him for no apparent reason and yet, i just want to embrace him..that every mistake is a strong blade tearing you worlds apart and you get weaker every time..

    There are times when i want to give up...and yet i don't want to let go.

    There are times when he tells me the silliest of jokes and i find myself smiling..

    There are nights when i can't sleep all just because i can't get him off my mind..

    I just hugged him a minute ago and yet i already miss him..

    It has just been 5 minutes when i last heard his voice and yet it seems like it was so long ago..

    It's when you are together and you're always afraid for time to pass by..

    It's when you speak in silence, and you just stare at his face through his eyes and he asks you why..all you say is "nothing, i just want to remember you.."

    It's when he smiles and it makes you see the beauty of each coming tomorrow..

    It's his grip that makes you never want to let go..

    It's every moment that you lost him and you're filled with all the regrets..and one pang of guilt never leaves you and makes it all seem different..

    It's when you say "I love you" and it felt like you've said all the words you could possibly say and it never seemed enough..

    He's everything and so much more..

    How can I love him like i've never done so before?

    It's when...you look at him..and you're always afraid of losing him..and it threatens you about the uncertainty of forever and the consistency of the here and now..

    How can i look at him and see something i couldn't hold up into the palms of my hands and yet i never want to lose grip of..

    It's like feeling like crying even when you have nothing to cry about..

    It's like you want to have all the reasons just to be with him...to be one with him..and then you'd wish the world would just stop turning..

    It's like.....he's all you think about..and he's all that matters.

    It's like a habit you've been trying to break and now you're just hooked..

    It's like meeting someone ordinary...who turns out to be all you'll ever ask for in your life..someone who could mean so much that it hurts to think about..someone who stole you of yourself and yet you just gained anew.. someone..... just someone...

    Someone i love

    Like everyday's the last.....

  • I was touched

    The Lord really has a wonderful way of amusing us…and today, I was deeply touched. I got home today at around 8:30PM, instead of around 7PM on regular days. The reason for it is because my 2PM patient couldn’t make it on their allotted time for therapy session for some reasons so they requested if they could have it at 7 or 8PM instead. I was hesitant to give them the 8PM schedule because a 3-year old boy should have been sleeping at that time, or may be sleepy to say the least. Fortunately, the parents of my 7PM patient cancelled their therapy session for today because they have other things to take care of, so I placed them at 7PM. After our session, the father of my kid offered me a ride home and a dinner. I rode with them on the way, they just dropped me off at the corner of our street, and I no longer agreed with the offer of dinner for my family is also waiting for me for dinner. Besides, it’s too much already. =) While on our way, the father of my patient told me how denial he was at first regarding their son’s condition; that he cried so hard when they found out that his child has autism. It was an expected baby and they prepared for it for almost 11 years. They’ve given the best of everything to have this kid delivered and brought up as a healthy normal child.. Well I guess you can never really tell… At the back seat, I can’t help but wonder…this man…the father of my patient, of whom I’ve handled for only 3 sessions now, has been pouring his heart out to me that I could almost see tears welling up beneath his eyes.

    “You’ve been such a blessing to us and for my child. The fact that you gave us your time, the time when you should have been already home with your family...I can never be grateful enough that you’re sharing yourself with our child..”

    His words have deeply touched me that I wanted to cry right at that moment, hehe..

    “Nitong mga nakaraang linggo ko lang medyo natatanggap na ang lahat…Ngayon nga naiiwan na naming syang nakaupo mag-isa sa front seat, dati ang likot-likot niyan, karga-karga ng yaya sa likod..It was actually our first time to go out together without his yaya.”

    I wanted to say…”it was nothing, really.” When I started to work as an OT, I’ve conditioned myself already that I am here to help other people…that’s why I never really take it as a big deal because it is my job. I wanted to find the right words then, to comfort him, to make him better understand his child…and that God has better plans for him, but I choke on my words.

    What moved me more was when he said, “there’s a book on the seat, beside you…it’s for you.” I reached for the book. I was amazed when I saw it, and It was entitled: “Why this lady can laugh (A Portrait of a Virtuous Woman).” I could hardly believe that someone appreciates me that much…the simple things that I do.

    When I said this day was quite among the strangest that I’ve had, I mean it. I woke up this morning getting a little tired of what have been becoming my usual routine every day, of every week, of every month…and tomorrow is already October by the way. This past few weeks, I’ve been doubting what I do…I get a little paranoid on how the parents of my kids perceive me…on how the quality of my treatment has been affecting my kids. I get easily frustrated if I don’t get the progress I want to see from my kids, or that I don’t see a little improvement from their previous level. Then again, I spoke to soon. I realized just now that I’ve been hurrying my life so much, now I can no longer enjoy it. All of a sudden, things like this happen, sweeps me off my feet that I can’t help but say, “..the Lord loves me so much because He makes me love other people…and they love me back.” =)

  • another one to add to my collection..


    Raindrops. Waterfall. Snow.

    Welkin. Robins. Rainbow.

    Tulips and daisies. Bees and butterflies.

    You remind me of everything so sweet and so nice.

    Storms. Thunders. Darkness.

    You are the brave knight who shields and protects.

    Soft. Cold. Momentary aloneness.

    You are my comfort and strength to become fearless.

    Embraces as though it would break my bones

    and yet, everything I needed and more

    Kisses I'd miss every bit of tomorrows

    Baby, will you always be there in my time of sorrows?

    Each time I see you I miss you more and more

    I love you so much...

    You're all I waited for.


    - moonlight butterfly