Coffee & Flowers: It Draws A Line


The thing about loss and grief is that it draws a line: not just between the dead and those left living but also between the living and those around them. Lately, I’ve been thinking about my Dad’s death not just as the death of my father but as the death of my father: something that now belongs to my family and in part, on a more personal level, to me. Inevitably, I think, death brings up (or should bring up) in us ideas of how we would like to live before we are brought to that inevitable line, when we cross it a next time, first-hand.

I can’t help but think of different friendships that I’ve made throughout the years–whether people who I’d known for years or people I’d met in the past year or people I’d only solely interacted with through my stories–and how, when my Dad died, it was such a relief to see familiar faces or to hear people reach out even if they couldn’t be there physically. Maybe as a lover of and active participant (haha) in the making of fiction, I must say that empathy is something that I value. I don’t think I’d loved any of these people as much before as I did in that moment: to know that despite the discomfort of knowing they would never be me, never truly share my pain, they’d decided to subject themselves to being there anyway in whatever way, shape, or form that they could be.

Somehow, it felt like home. I am still resolute in the conclusion that reading prepares us for terrible situations: it highlights the things we may take from these terrible experiences, it helps us in the struggle to construct not just meaning, but meaningfulness.

[Side note: this talk by Andrew Solomon has helped. ]

However, likewise, I can’t help but think about people who could have been there but chose not to be. Everyday is a struggle not to lash out, not to be bitter, not to say where were you? I think of different friendships lost or destroyed in the process of growing up, think of people who I wish well, and who, despite the strain between us, had someone they loved died, I would have reached out to. I can’t help but feel stung by that active absence: maybe in another time, I would have been able to simply assume they had not known about it, that they had not heard because they hadn’t read the obituaries, but in this time of social media tributes and text blasts and 24/7 chatting, of profile-photo changing and Facebook-status eulogies, I know they know and know they had chosen to not just be apathetic but vicious (I don’t want to get into that). I wonder about that and am trying very hard to look underneath my anger and find a way to learn from it. I keep on trying to find a way to forgive people who aren’t sorry, or else forget the pain of it. Life is short, but everyone knows that.

Loss draws a line between those of us left living: conditionals, if-thens, and their converses. If _________ , and _________ does not _________, then __________. And today, as I write this, I find myself at once hopeful and terrified. It terrifies me that I am capable of true hatred: that I can’t find myself to empathize with some people who I once treated as some of my closest friends because the line has been drawn and these are not people I will forgive. These people are no longer the inhabitants of benign, empty shells of friendship: they are malignant and I can’t let them touch me because it will eat me up. But on the other hand, I am hopeful because it gives the loss of my Dad gravity: this is how much I love my father that I cannot forgive people who knew him not giving it importance. I am hopeful because underneath everything, even the absence of forgiveness, there is a kind of love.

On The Other Side // A Katipunan Adventure

This month (September) has dragged on for what feels like forever. I feel a little bit unnerved because I still have so many things to write, read, and review/film for my channel–this whole month has felt like something’s gotta give and yet nothing has so here I am. A couple of weeks ago, I went to Katipunan with the rest of Plural to attend/panel at a talk hosted by Kritika Kultura. The main speakers were Erika and Carlo (the founding members of the journal), but we went for the Q&A portion as well as the provision of moral support. Being Taft-grown and hardened by the ever-present threat of being run over, heading over to rival territory is always both disorienting and refreshing. All those trees, all that space, all the everything. We made a little trip to the press bookshop (yeah, so that no book buying ban has pretty much been done away with all together) and then headed on over to the Rizal Library for the talk proper.

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I was (very pleasantly) surprised at the turn out: everyone was super participative (not to say that my experience has been otherwise, but you never know with more academic settings), and I was super proud of how Erika and Carlo discussed all of the points re: Plural’s response to the lack of a go-to place for prose in Philippine letters. All-in-all, a great day.

After the talk, I hung out with some friends of mine who attended the talk (hey, Raine and Free) over at UP Town Center. I had Mad Mark’s and Rita’s for the first time. Hot damn, that stuff is delicious–although to be honest, I did find Rita’s to get a little bit overwhelming after a while. The day ended with us all giggly, and worn out, driving down EDSA watching the lights flicker by: not bad at all.

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Coffee & Flowers: Make It Better

Nostalgic trike ride through Tropical Avenue in the village where I went to high school.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the concept of family a lot—and how everything that we do is ultimately influenced by what happens to us when we’re young. In that respect, I think that Freud was most definitely correct. While it is true that we continue to develop throughout our lives, I feel like the core of our lives are determined very early on: the way we think, our knee-jerk reactions, the way we feel about most things and about ourselves. I have a lot of friends who go lots of different ways with regard to self-esteem: some who are very confident despite not necessarily possessing “conventional” beauty attributes, some who are extremely beautiful in the most “objective” sense but have absolutely no confidence in their ability to be attractive and some who are in-between and in most instances I find that these things have a lot to do with the way that they were brought up or their experiences as young children.

Continue reading “Coffee & Flowers: Make It Better”

Coffee & Flowers: Open Letters & Instax Photos

This year I made the resolution not to keep a journal because I’d kept a journal for every year of my life since 1998 and it just seemed like too much: too many memories stacking themselves higher, growing more voluminous than yourself. It’s weird. But at the same time, I can’t quite accept the non-existence of some sort of documentation of what’s going on. It is important to remember, I think: it’s important to keep track—to know where you’re going, when you’re going, how.

As a result, I’ve decided that I’m going to begin taking photos and maybe writing things down again: writing open letters, maybe. Some of it will be kept here, other things will be kept on a notebook. With this month’s pay, I’m going to buy Instax film because for the past few months my camera has just been sitting at home, hanging out with my piggy bank (which is actually a jar). I can’t help but feel bad about these past few months which I’ve missed out on documenting through something concrete, something offline, something I can keep—although the point of not journal keeping was that exactly: to lessen the boxes I go through when I am feeling sentimental.

In high school, when YM and LiveJournal were the best ways to go (none of that fancy Facebook shiznit, harhar) I used to write a lot of open letters. This had to do with the fact that ye ole internet life was way more private in those days (seriously, back then the thought of sharing your blog was preposterous—like why would you upload your own scandal?) in as much as it had to do with my angst-filled 19-year-old brain. (2009 was 5 years ago—again, dafuqqq!). At the same time, though I feel like they were a really good way to be able to deal with stuff, regardless of whether or not they are seen by the person who sees them.

So. Here are some open letters:

Continue reading “Coffee & Flowers: Open Letters & Instax Photos”

Coffee & Flowers: Let’s Make It Up

My relationship with make up is definitely a complicated, love-hate one. One of my most traumatic experiences as a kid (aged 12?) had to do with going into PCX, having the lady accost me with all kindsa powders and going like “Ayan, nakakaputi yan!” Not that there’s anything wrong with anyone wanting to be fair just as it’s okay for people to want to be dark (it’s all preference, yes?) but I think a big part of loving yourself is trying to enhance what you hae and not alter it beyond recognition. When I was younger I really did feel butt-ugly and like make up was supposed to be the one way to remedy that but I couldn’t even do that. 

But turns out, make up isn’t all bad. 🙂 I think it was watching these girls on YouTube that really helped me come to terms with beauty and spending some time on how I look. There are so many gems on there who didn’t used to feel pretty or weren’t very kindly taken to at school or who were bullied all their lives and they were able to find their self-love by talking to strangers on the internet: girls of all shapes, colors and sizes were talking about how they liked to make themselves up for fun and moreso, how it was something you could make up–experiment with, play with. And that gave me the courage to try again.

I realized a big part of the shame I felt was also coming from myself: that to a certain extent, I was also ashamed to be branded “morena” and I was afraid to call people out on the things that bothered me. It had to be a two-way thing, this beauty transaction. Sometimes, you have to say what you want to get it.

I thought this post might be able to help people out there who are struggling with themselves and how they look and how to find a beauty routine that works for them. Listed below are some of the beauty products that I use (mostly) for everyday (photographed above) and how I found them/why I like them/why you might like them:

1. The Body Shop All-in-One BB Cream (Shade 02)

I got this last last week; The Body Shop was on SALE so I got this for around P700 as opposed to P1,200. That’s pretty pricey but I think this product is worth it especially given the heat. I usually use a different foundation (Maybelline Aqua Gel) but the heat has really been making it impossible to wear moisturizer and foundation, so I got this. The cool thing about this is the shade-adjusting property–I swear, it does mimic your skin tone. I watched some reviews online and lotsa people didn’t like this product because it gave really light coverage but I think it’s cause those people were from England, where the air isn’t made out of lotion. Also, there is a smell to this but I kinda like it. Reminds me of olive oil? Hrrrm. You decide.

2. E.L.F. Eyebrow Kit

Uhhh, okay. Best fucking beauty bargain ever: P250 for something that does wonders for your face. I like eyebrows especially as done up by eyebrow wax/powder because the effect is so subtle but it really helps frame your face. You can buy the Ever Bilena clear mascara for P100 (or less) and put it over the top so that everything stays in place–although this has never run on me, even without the clear shiz.

3. Maxfactor lippie (Rosewood)

My friend gave this to me as a gift last Christmas. 🙂 Before this, I really hated nude lipsticks but this one is nice for my skintone because it’s kinda brown-based. So, yeah. This is nice and subtle (although I also am a fan of the bold lip).

4. Avon Ultra Glazewear Lip Gloss (Pink Watermelon)

I really like this and I don’t usually like lip gloss (cause it’s sticky and icky and weird). These are nice and pretty and perfect for wearing both by themselves or over a lipstick (which is what I usually do with the Maxfactor one). 😀 Pweeeettyyyyy shoiiiiiiine.

5. Maybelline The Falsies + The Face Shop Volumizing Fashion Mascara

Best combo ever! I wear the Face Shop one first and then put the Maybelline on top because I like the finish of the former but it isn’t waterproof. 😀 So, yeah. The beeeest of both worldsss.

6. Maybelline 36 Hour Wear Gel Eyeliner (Brown)

Super easy and really subtle. 😀 Plus not a hassle to apply (heller, liquid liner I’m talking to you). I use a cheap-ass brush from landmark (P49).

And there! I hope that this was able to help anyone who was maybe having difficulty with kikay shit like this. 🙂 Also, below is a phot of me wearing said products, for reference. (Please excuse ze non-shaped browses.)

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