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Positivity through Negativity

MILO MURPHY'S LAW

It’s been a while since a cartoon has been more than eye candy. Enter Milo Murphy’s Law.

Milo Murphy’s Law is a cartoon on Disney channel about an accident-prone kid named Milo who’s last name Murphy is the true embodiment of Murphy’s Law which states that, “anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. At first I thought it was going to be a boring show that just shows this kid having accidents every single day of his life. How entertaining can that be? Seriously, how can the writers make a good story line out of just that? Lo and behold, I was proven wrong. Really, it was my fault for underestimating my fellow writers. I should have known better.

The cartoon does show the many accidents and shenanigans Milo and his friends go through but it also shows the trust, faith, and loyalty they have for each other. It also shows some serious optimism in the form of Milo himself. I like Milo’s attitude. It’s the kind of attitude where no matter how many bad things happen, the faith is still there that everything is going to be alright in the end. His catch phrase, “I’m sure it will all work out,” is something we should all aspire to as an outlook in life. As Milo once said, “Life has a funny way of turning out okay in the end”.

How many times has a cartoon taught us something valuable about life? How many times has a cartoon transcend it’s 2D life and reflect real life at its best despite all the worst thing that can and is happening? Not since the 80’s and early 90’s (think Care Bears…yeah I know, I’m being biased here, being an 80’s kid and all! Haha!). In this day and age, it’s a dime a dozen to have shows that are not only entertaining but also teach something about life. It’s best that we pay attention.

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Dukot

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Hi everyone ^_^ I just watched Dukot (Kidnap in English) at SM North and it was pleasantly surprising. I didn’t think it would be as heart-pounding and nerve-wracking as it was and I was proven wrong! So here I am gushing about the movie in this quasi-review but do keep in mind that I am no critic, basher, nor fan. Just someone who happened to to watch this certain film because the movie I wanted to watch didn’t match my schedule for that day. This is purely all my opinion so please take it with a grain of salt (and some fries! :D) Without further ado, here we go:

In an industry saturated with romantic comedies, Dukot is a fresh of breath air. It was nice to finally watch a Filipino movie without product placements (hard sell much? makes you think that it’s actually one long commercial disguised as a movie) and hugot lines that sometimes seem like it is trying hard to be classic one liners (I do miss the movies in the 80s and 90s, now those hugot lines where truly classics!). Take heed though, this movie will leave you yawning at some parts as the story builds up to a suspenseful scene and then let’s go leaving you wondering “Why?”. It would have been better if the movie made you keep climbing up and once you’re on top of that mountain, slowly and smoothly let you down. However it was so abrupt that it became a disappointment. Think Jupiter Ascending. There was one scene where Carlo (Enrique Gil’s character) was able to escape and thus ensued a chase scene between him and his captors. Of course, the movie audiences shrieked when it seemed that one of his captor was going to catch up to him, while I hid my eyes hoping he would be able to escape. Naturally though, like with most Philippine shows, he got caught and was beaten to a bloody pulp. Here I am reminded of Mara Clara where Mara is always on the verge of getting his Tiyo Kardo’s diary but something always happens so she doesn’t. It would have been better if Carlo escaped and we are treated to  scenes of the captors bluffing their way with his family just to get the money while also trying to locate their victim and recapture him all the while not knowing that they are racing against the police in getting Carlo because he was able to contact his family. I know the Filipino audience loves that building up the momentum thing then nothing (again, Mara Clara). But sometimes, directors and writers need to give us what we need more than what we want. Write what you want and direct the way you truly do. Make a wonderful, fantastic, awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping movie without the formulaic plots and storylines Filipino moviegoers have been bombarded with and they will thank you all the more for it.

Don’t despair though because some parts of the movie will leave you gripping your seat and biting your lower lip. All-in-all, Dukot managed to almost give me a heart attack. One of the things it succeeds at is to make the audience paranoid but in a good way. It makes them become more aware of their surroundings and not to withdraw money from an ATM located on a deserted street at past 1 in the morning. Seriously, what can be so important that you can’t wait until at least 9am?!

Of course, movies rely not just on good acting but also on good writing and directing. It takes a brilliant director to take a seemingly simple screenplay and turn it into a classic or blockbuster, sometimes both. Paul Soriano is a big revelation here. Give him more time and he could very well be the Philippines’ next Lino Brocka or Ishmael Bernal. That’s how good he is. Sure, I’ve heard of his indies but I’ve never watched anything he did until now and honestly, I am looking forward to more of his works.

Meanwhile, Dukot made me painfully wistful for the 80s and 90s (I’m an 80s kid and that decade is one of the best!) action movies with the likes of Jeric Raval (he was one of my big crushes then! haha!), Robin Padilla, FPJ, Raymart Santiago, Rudy Fernandez, and even Ian Veneracion and Romnick Sarmienta (my two biggest crush until now!). This movie proves that the Philippine movie industry will not go silently into the night. It will fight the good fight and with enough support from the government and us Filipinos, maybe we can have our own Hollywood or Bollywood. When that time comes, the only big problem we’ll have is finding a name that has all the pizzaz and flash of the Philippine entertainment industry and that goes well with “-wood” at the end. We already have Encantadia, Mulawin, Probinsyano, Sugo – quality tv shows. It’s time that we also have quality movies and Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles, Moments of Love and now Dukot has already paved the way for that.

 

 

 

 

 

Of Bipolar and baby

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My son, Jace Gabriel, will be two months on May 3 and I still can not get enough of him; I doubt I ever will.

I remember when I had an inkling that I was pregnant, unlike a number of women wanting a baby, I was nervous. The day I confirmed my pregnancy, I was scared, nervous, and a little bit happy. I was at the mall and I immediately called my husband to tell him. I almost cried. I don’t know about other women with Bipolar who became pregnant but I was overwhelmed with a mixture of emotions and none of them was pure joy or elation.

Saying that the whole nine months was difficult is an understatement. Yes, I did not have any problems such as pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes but my mind was and is not stable. I had Bipolar and not being able to take any medicines for it while I was pregnant aggravated my condition. I had major attacks at times – hitting myself (luckily not on the stomach), stomping my feet, hurting my arms and face, screaming until my throat hurt – and it scared and worried my husband as well as my mother. Me? I kept promising myself to do better next time, that I will control myself next time. But “next time” never came. When I wasn’t having my attacks, I saw my pregnancy as something so weird that I even likened it to the movie Alien where the main star got pregnant with an alien. I hardly felt overjoyed when I felt my baby’s kicks, I usually got goosebumps. All in all, being pregnant felt very surreal for me.

Fast forward to March 3, 2016. My psychiatrist recommended a C-section for me, fearing that I would have an attack in the middle of labor pains and the actual labor itself. As I was being wheeled towards the surgery room with my husband by my side all I can feel was trepidation. I was agitated and it was because I knew I was going to be injected with anaesthesia and they will inject it in the spine. I was actually crying because of that. I don’t really remember it but according to my husband I was on the verge of an attack.

When my son finally arrived at 8:59 am, I didn’t cry tears of joy. I didn’t feel any happiness when I saw him. I wasn’t gleeful. Truth be told, I wasn’t anything – I did not feel anything. For days and weeks, I struggled with my feelings towards my son. Why didn’t I feel loving towards him? Why do I keep looking at him strangely? Where’s the feeling of love every new mothers rave about? And the ultimate question every moms ask – Am I a bad mom???

Along with his birth came the Bipolar medications that prevented me from breastfeeding my son as well as taking care of him since the medication came with a sedating effect and I  was asleep for 15 hours and sometimes more.

It took two weeks, almost three, and not taking my medication just so I can take care and bond with him for me to feel the first stirrings of motherly love. It was like a dam slowly getting cracks until it burst. And now I know without an ounce of doubt, I love my son more than my life. Oh, my medications still keeps me from fully taking care of him and my attacks are still there that I sometimes actually felt hate towards my innocent baby boy twice but that’s how it is – for now. I can fight my attacks but everyone with Bipolar knows how futile it is. During the good days, I feel like I can do anything, I make plans just like everyone and bond with my baby but on bad days I am a wreck, non-stop crying, screaming, and hurting myself. One thing I am grateful though is that after twice feelings hate towards my boy, I now look at him with a gentleness I didn’t know I can muster during my severest of attacks. No matter how bad my attacks get, whenever I see Jace or hear him crying I am slowly brought back to my senses. Before him, only my husband can do that to me.

Bipolar and babies don’t mix, I found that out the hard way, but it is and will always be worth it just to see my precious son’s toothless smiles and grins, his happy gurgles, and his milestones. The nine months of hell was easily replaced with a lifetime of heaven with my son’s love.

 

 

A Bipolar’s Manic Life

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Have you ever been to hell while alive? It’s like waking up from a deep slumber but instead of feeling well-rested, your head is swimming in constant emotional and mental turmoil. It’s being born again with all the misery and hollowness in the world put inside you and you feel like bursting any moment. Your mind is a jumble of mismatched wires and your heart is beating but you feel lifeless.

I have Bipolar II which means I have more manic depressive episodes than high or elevated moods. More often, I sleep the whole day because I feel like my energy has been drained but there are also times when I am restless and can not sit still or stay in one place. There are times when I am overly excited or happy and have grandiose plans regarding my life, and life in general. Other times, I shop compulsively. I am sometimes the most pleasant, enjoyable company you will have, and at others I am the most obnoxious, sarcastic bitch in the room. I am prone to suicidal tendencies and hurting myself. More so to feel something than to deliberately inflict pain on my being. I have Bipolar, not insanity.

Many an article both here in the Philippines and abroad have featured suicides due to depression and others wonder how these people could do it. What on earth possessed them to end their life, to give up just like that? As someone who have thought of killing herself on more than one occasion, I may not be able to speak for everyone but this I know to be true: the misery within, the silent plea for help when we don’t even know if we want it or not, and the conflict between losing & finding ourself  are all too great a burden that all we want to do is end it. End the chaos plaguing us, for it is a plague, a never-ending plague that only settles but never leaves.

Sad to say, only a few people with Bipolar get the much needed support and unconditional love from their family and friends. On my end, I am not criticizing any friends – nor family – I have but they do tend to ignore me when I am in my manic depressive mood. Others even have the gall to ask how I am doing when it is obvious how exactly I feel. I guess it’s because they do not know. They do not have the slightest clue of the conflict I am battling every single moment of my life. They have their depressive episodes but that will be gone in a few days or week while mine stays. It is a constant in my life. Except for my husband, I am almost always left alone where the feelings of guilt and worthlessness magnify into a thousandfold.

In a way I am guilty of my Bipolar blossoming. I nurtured it you see. From the throes of slight depressive episodes until the depths of a dark bottomless pit, I have watered it until it thrived. You ask what made me do it? Not because I wanted to be in the lowest hierarchy of humanity where pity is constantly on its feet but because I am a writer.

As much as I have Bipolar, I am self-aware and it did not take me long to realize that I write a whole hell of a lot better when I am in my manic depressive mood. It is in my darkest, most primeval, and volatile state when I become in charge of all my faculties – literary at least. In these moments, nothing can stand between me and my thoughts. I am then compelled – summoned more like it – to put pen to paper where all my thoughts gush out, like a faucet opened on full power. It is when I write to my full satisfaction where my brain and heart literally race and tumble over words. I do not know how many people with Bipolar experience this but it is during these moments that I am in bliss. I feel like I am me again – no, I AM me again. My pathos is also my salvation.

Some people might think it but no one ever wants to be mentally ill. No one. But it is something I, and a hundred or maybe thousands of people, have to deal with everyday. I have it not because I am weak. I have it not because I have a flair for the dramatics. I have it not because I am pessimistic. I have it simply because I do. It is a fact and nothing can ever change that. The agony, the tiring ups and downs of my emotions, and the constant feeling of drowning and emptiness is mine and mine alone. Understanding Bipolar will take time but if people put in a lot of patience coupled with dedication then one day, the stigma that is Bipolar will be broken. Then, people with Bipolar like me will be seen as caring, strong, and thriving members of our community – not as weak, cry babies with whom others always have to be on edge with.

I can see the light. It is not that I, and the others, choose to be in the shadows. It is because I need my family and friends to make that light reachable for me, especially in moments of anguish. Yes I need help, but sometimes, I still wonder if I really do. I need patience and understanding, not scrutiny and judgments. One day, I know it will happen.

 

 

Rainy Day Memories

My access card and blue room key!

Storm season is upon us Filipinos once more. As I listen to the rain batter my window while savoring my last minutes in bed before breakfast, my mind wanders to the room where I spent the last six years of my life. My dorm in Manila. Sun Suites. Room 2P. I sorely miss my dorm room. It was my haven – my writing room and my symbol of independence. However, it was not without its problems.

When I decided to go to law school in Manila I had to go live in a dorm as our house is two hours away from school, maybe more with the rush hour traffic. Add to that the fact that law classes are always at night and me being an only child, my parents didn’t want to take any chances concerning my safety. So dorm life it is. At first I was a bit nervous. I admit, I am a scaredy cat. It is all the more aggravated because I can honestly feel when a ghost is near – I get goosebumps. And I can sometimes truly feel when someone is looking at me in the dark. Plus, it doesn’t help that I’ve had a few near experiences with the supernatural (but that’s another story). (Super)Naturally (:P ), I started to panic. Happily, my dorm was ghost free. My first room was way up on the 6th floor and aside from the occasional big lizards (yes, I have Scoliodentosaurophobia) which often times left me in a cold sweat, gave me an anxiety attack, and left me sleepless the whole night; my room didn’t have any ghost.

Next school year, I was able to transfer to the 2nd floor in a room equipped with a balcony. I was excited. It actually felt more like a condominium unit than a dorm room. My excitement dissipated a few months later when a lounge of lizards kept running freely around my beloved room. To say that it drove me crazy is an understatement. It was added stress to my already stressful life as a law student. A few months after I started having goosebumps and the nagging sensation that someone was watching me at night. While I’m trying to sleep. Oh joy.

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Despite all this, I adored dorm life and I loved my room. It offered me the independence I have always craved. To be able to go from place to place without first having to ask permission or having anyone ask me all the places I plan to go for the day and what I am going to do once I am there. Don’t get me wrong, I know my parents are just concerned but at 27 years old (six years ago), I wanted to feel how it is to be responsible for myself. To answer to myself and to make decisions solely for me. And it was beyond fantastic. I have never felt so free in my whole life. I was like a bird who was put in a tiny (albeit, beautiful) cage her whole life when suddenly, the cage door was opened and I can spread my wings as far as I can. If you are wondering why at 27 I was still not that independent, you have to realize that I am Filipino and culturally, we live with our parents as long as we want. This doesn’t bother our parents as it is ingrained in our psyche that family should always stick together and help each other out – financially, mentally, and emotionally. That is why even after marriage, some newlyweds live with their parents.

I relished my dorm life. My room, tiny as it is, provided me with the quality time I longed for. I am an introvert so being alone actually recharges me. I enjoy spending time with myself and doing whatever I wanted. Reflecting, reading, watching tv shows and movies on my laptop, cooking, and taking naps. My uninterrupted solace was the best thing that has ever happened to me. I always looked forward to when storm season comes and I wake up to the relentless downpour of rain because classes would be cancelled so I had the whole day to myself. Slowly, I began to write again. Like a rusty wheel, I was squeaky at first but once I started, there was no stopping me.

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My beloved writing space

I enjoyed the times when I would wake up and I felt that powerful urge to write and I’d just scoot over to my writing table. All alone, just me and my thoughts. That for me was heaven. To answer the question in your mind, yes, that is where I wrote UNMASKED. In my room up in the 2nd floor, sitting at the edge of my bed with my notebook and paper open on my table.

Now, as I listen to the unceasing rain outside the house, I am brought back to that unassuming room that gave an overwhelming amount of joy to a simple girl who wanted nothing in her life but to read and write. That room may have given me sleepless nights and anxiety attacks due to the lizards and the pesky ghost presence but the time for myself – the time I had, to do whatever I wanted, more than made up for it. If I can go back to that room I would do it in a heartbeat. I would first make sure though, that all the spaces where the lizards could enter are tightly sealed and those ghosties had transferred to another room. Hopefully where there’s a much braver girl than me.

Violin Love

I have never given much thought to violins as I found them too simple. They looked like mini guitars and once you’ve seen a violin, you’ve seen them all – only the colors differ. So it was with much enthusiasm that I took on the challenge last month of finding a violin for my husband that will stand out from the sea of bland violins.

Being a flutist, I know for a fact that hand-made instruments are the best choice; they have an unmatched sound that is smooth, deep, loud but not harsh, and sweetly haunting. The bad news is, hand-made instruments can be expensive (hence I’m still using my Yamaha beginner’s flute :P) and it’s quite a challenge to find a good compromise of hand-made craft and affordable price. At least one that will burn a tiny hole in my wallet and not a sinkhole that will swallow up my house. Enter Violin Village.

The first time I ran across their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/violinvillage), the violins they had posted made me think that they were based in Europe until I saw their 2014 Brand of the Year seal (this was in May 2015, they now have a 2015 Brand of the Year seal). I am familiar with the Brand of the Year seal because of Reader’s Digest and honestly, it was because of this seal that made me further explore their FB page and, during that process, their website. It is in their website, Violin Village (http://www.violinvillage.com), that I found more information about the violins they sell. Although, their FB page carries a complete catalog of their violins compared to their website.

Violin Village specializes in the interpretations of rare 17th-18th century violins by Stradivari, Guarneri, Amati, Bergonzi, and Magginni with the goal of providing the Filipino strings community an easy access to high quality stringed instruments. They are a family-owned business based in Bacolod, Negros Occidental that was established in 2013. All of their violins are made of aged spruce top, flamed maple back, sides and neck, natural black (unpainted) ebony fingerboard, natural hardwood pegs, chin rest, and tailpiece. The Italian oil varnish is applied by hand.

With this information, I got ready to send a private message on FB about thier available violins. It was with mild surprise that they replied immediately as it is my experience with most online sellers to wait a day or two for their reply. They were gracious and kind in answering all my inquiries about their instruments and I ended up placing an order for the 1724 Stradivarius with Corinthian Scroll. The price for the violin, case, and brazilwood bow was P16,900 ($375.55 using the prevailing exchange rate now) and shipping is free through LBC. They do sell just the violin at P14,500 ($322). Happily, their price burned no hole in my wallet nor made a sinkhole under my house as compared to another Philippine company I saw.

I had to wait 18 days before the violin arrived only because it was still being set-up, calibrated and finely adjusted while we were doing the transaction. According to Mr. Elias, their master-luthier Mr. Jay Qing started work on the violin on November 2014 and finished around the first week of June 15 because of the intricate carvings and oc-like (Mr. Elias didn’t use that word exactly though :P) tuning that went into the instrument. And as it happens with things that took its time to be crafted, the 1724 Stradivarius with Corinthian Scroll was definitely a work of art and music. I am sure all this hard work and dedication was applied to every violin that they sold, the difference being that the particular violin I bought had carvings on the back and on the scroll. Mr Qing, Violin Village’s Master-Luthier makes the violins in China but he does sometimes make it here in the Philippines when circumstances permit.

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The pictures above where taken the same day the violin arrived and they do not do justice to the magnificence of the violin. The color looks lighter in the picture but in person, it has a lovely rich mahogany finish that is hard to find in other violins being sold in music stores now. The sound it produces is deep, rich, and vibrant.

One more thing that makes this company stand out aside from their instruments is the fact that they are so kind, and refreshingly honest. Kind because, come on, can you name any company that will stay up with you until almost 12 midnight just answering your questions? I thought so. Before Violin Village, I never encountered an online seller who would reply to my emails past 6pm. Refreshingly honest because before my violin arrived I saw in their page a comment asking if the violin also came with a rosin. When they replied in the affirmative, I was looking forward to the rosin but the violin I ordered didn’t come with one. I immediately went to FB and asked them about it. Naturally, they replied instantly and told me that they discontinued giving out rosins because their rosins are low quality. How’s that for honesty. I was genuinely amazed at how straightforward they were, I can only hope that other companies are like them.

If you too would like to own a handmade violin, visit their website and FB page for more information. They update their Facebook page regularly so it would be better to check their page first 😉 Then send them a private message immediately because their instruments really do sell fast. It is worth every penny.

*Discalimer: Violin Village did not pay me to make this glowing article for them. I made this because I (and my husband) am very impressed with the violin we bought and of their excellent customer service. This is my way of recommending their company to everyone.

Hypnagogia

How do you go back to a world you feel strongly disconnected from? Where you’ve been heartlessly yanked out and where everyone is engrossed in their own business that you feel like an intruder? You stand in the middle of a crowd who seems to be in a timeless fast-forward mode that you can’t reach out to even one. You watch them having fun; you hear their voices which are a mixture of mirth, sorrow, fun, confusion, hope, anger and regret that you feel so alien. You don’t belong here, that you’re sure of but there’s that vague sense of familiarity; being one of them. No, you are one of them – weren’t you?

There was a time when you were one of them. Now you’re not. You’re just a vessel; no soul, no spirit. You feel so tiny in a vast world. You long to be part of it. Somehow you remember a shared laugh, a happiness, a oneness. It’s all gone though. You want it back but you’re outside, looking in. You want with a wanting that can’t be quenched and though its grip is surprisingly light escape is still bleak. Slowly you realize that despite of your longing, going back to how it was and moving forward to how it will-should be will be very hard. Not because people are harsh. Not because most of your family and friends have abandoned you; and certainly not because you are truly lost. It’s simply because it has always been tough fighting one’s self.