Shining Again

I found this in my Notes, written a few days before M’s death anniversary. I share it now, because the reason why I was going through my Notes is I am writing again. Or at least, it isn’t as difficult as it was the last year. Now, encyclopedia entries are much easier to write, and I’ve already published an essay on what’s happening in the contemporary dance scene in the Philippines, and a review of a site specific festival featuring some of the most exciting choreographers in Malaysia.

Also, I’m starting to shine again. Life is good.

April 27, 2015, 1:22 AM

I don’t seem to be writing these days.

Mikah calls the year when I was writing my MA thesis the worst year of his life. He was always depressed, it seemed and I was never there for him, I was writing. He only told me this after I graduated, and I felt so horrible because I had no idea. The song he wrote for me has this lyric:

With you, I’m shining

Without you, I’m fine

I realise because it was very clear to both of us that I could live without him. But now that I am living without him, I am not always sure how fine I really am.

I started writing in my journal again after he died because there are too many thoughts running riot in my brain that I’m sure none of my family and friends should be burdened with. Aside from that, I have been pushing to finish my commitments to the encyclopedia of Philippine art project that I’ve been working on since 2013. After that, I don’t feel compelled to write about anything, like my brain wants a rest from thinking. Well, no not from thinking, it kinda does that on overdrive. My brain wants a rest from working. Once I have to organise thoughts on paper, the brain goes, “too tired, lah. Oh look, your floor needs sweeping…”

When Mikah broke up with me in 2010, I threw myself into dancing to get over my heartbreak. This year, I have done more dancing than any year of my life, of course besides the years I was professionally employed as a dancer and that’s all I did all day and night. Dancing again to get over my heartbreak. Hey, it works.

He has been dead for 363 days. This was definitely the worst year of my life. And yet, I have to say it was also a pretty good year. I am moulding the minds of future dance makers, I am dancing my heart out. But I have to start writing again.

Happy Days

I woke up today as sluggish as a slug (a phrase I picked up from Mikah). I attribute it to dancing yesterday. I try to give myself a barre as much as possible (actually, I cheat and just do a barre until rond de jambes) but it’s no way the same as daily ballet class. Yesterday, I also did adagio (diiiiieee) and grand battements (to hell with frappes haha) and then ran the Sugar Plum Fairy variation from the Nutcracker, which I’m to do in January for my family’s school recital.

In the middle of the variation, I was already about to collapse onto the floor and surrender (those sissonnes to releves on attitude are a killer apparently), but pushed through it because Bilqis was watching. Hahaha, such vanity! She was in the studio to teach me general parts of Mandala, a piece we’re performing for a festival in a few weeks, and as she did, I felt my body saying, “Hey, why are you still moving? Let’s call it a day.”

So now, I’m feeling sluggly (a Joelle word, as Mikah liked playing with words and I had to contribute to this game of his every now and then) but it’s a happy sluggly. I completed the Sugar Plum Fairy variation without dying after not dancing it for several years, after not having regular ballet class since I arrived in KL. More than that, I danced yesterday, and realized how much dancing I will still be doing in the coming months. When I moved here, I thought my dance career was over. Happy to be mistaken.

Yesterday was a day of epic proportions. A review I wrote about the Wifi Body Festival’s New Choreographers competition got shared 12 times on Facebook, with people who don’t know me commenting about how they were able to better appreciate some of the pieces after reading my viewpoint. Bilqis and I were talking about why we bother to write reviews, and who are they for (given something major that happened to her recently) and I said I write them for myself, because I want to. That other people read it is a plus. Yesterday was like people handing me several pluses, so much so that if I were convertible to electricity, I would light up the whole of PJ.

Lunch with a colleague also somewhat validated what I wanted to do with my PhD (apparently academic lunches consist of Hello, How are you, What is your research?). And forcing me to finish my proposal already, hello Joelle.

I had several digital conversations yesterday that were quite eye-opening. Some very nice, some rather disturbing. One in between. In the middle of everything happening yesterday, I’m still bothered by that one. But as Bilqis said, would you rather be frustrated about that or bored out of your mind without anything to be frustrated over? Hahaha, I love Bilqis, she always sees the silver lining.

I still check up on my former future mother in law (yes, I will call her that for the rest of my life) and of course, she is still devastated. She said something about not wanting to look at pictures of Mikah and think of happy memories because it makes her sadder that he is gone. Sometimes, I wonder if I look at her timeline to remind myself of Mikah, and that I should be grieving him. I started blogging about Mikah and our happy memories but they would make me confront the unhappy memories and all the things he did wrong and can never make right, so I stopped and pushed him from my mind altogether. I admit it’s rather cold, but if you knew the whole story, you wouldn’t blame me.

My Mamia being in the ICU this week with pneumonia has forced me to think about Mikah a lot, as I may have to deal with loss again. Not angry things. Sad things, like how I will never see him again. But also how he probably sees me now. How he would laugh at me because somebody commented that the grammar on my article made them cringe (“Well, you know you should proofread that shit first.”). How he must be touching my bloated belly and saying, “Hello, Bloat! Long time no see. Glad you’re doing a good job of covering up Joelle’s abs!” How he must hate this boy I have become enamoured with, probably because he is nothing like him, although he would have hated him anyway. How, after I completed the Sugar Plum Fairy variation yesterday, he would have said to me, “See?! See?!”

Mamia is recovering, though still in the ICU, to ensure that she doesn’t relapse. Mom and Lucas and Erica and Tita Carina would message me about her progress all day yesterday, which added to how awesome yesterday was. Mom said she’s tough, and I’ve known this about my grandmother: she’s a fighter. Something I inherited from her, I am proud to announce. Something that has been comforting me all this week.

So yes, I love my life. It’s not perfect, but there are so many things to be grateful for. And now, I must hie off to my boring meeting…

Musings at the end of the year

Yes, it’s not technically the end of the year. But It’s Christmas on Tuesday, and the end of the year a week after that. Between rushing a writing project, my school’s recital and Christmas, I doubt I’ll feel like musing the end of the year anytime soon. 

This was such a year, 2013. So many awesome, exhilarating highs, so many devastating, unbelievable lows. In between, so many lessons learned. I’m smarter today, because of this year, and wiser too. Smart and wise are not the same, but I know I’ve leveled up in both. To illustrate: 
I have finally pinned down the right theories on which to anchor my research on ballet as an art form in the Philippines. That took a trip to Bangkok, many downloaded books that I sped-read on the Kindle, and deathly revisions on a paper I lovingly nurtured for a year. 
In the end, I decided, “This isn’t any good.” And went back to the breadth of my resource materials, and looked for worthy points of interest, never mind that it meant starting from scratch. Which was also very brave of me, wasn’t it? 
There are many other examples. But how do you condense an entire year into a blog post? I will say that going after your dream when there are risks of financial insecurity involved is not peanuts. Especially when you’re coming from such a high monthly take home pay to basically nothing. Suddenly, everything you used to take for granted is a big deal. And yet, could I really regret leaving all that money? That was maybe the biggest life lesson this year.
In the past couple of years, I got reacquainted online with this guy I knew from college, and found him inspiring and hysterical, profound and irreverent. I loved seeing his tweets, his twit pics of today’s outfit, his cats, his opinions on politics, on the inept government, on the misuse of artistic and cultural resources. He was freelancing and when I left my job, I looked up to him as a role model. Instead of a position and company, his FB page says he works “at improving himself.” I was devastated when he suddenly passed away just very recently; especially since he is younger than me by two years. But I was reminded that going after my dream was the best choice I made the last 4 years. Many were sad when he died, but I like to think it was because of how happy he was when he was alive. I now wish this for everyone.  
I learned a lot, too, about my body – its limits, its capacities. That I need sleep, that I have to stop eating chips and fries, and drinking ten cups of coffee each day. That I need more than the regular warm up and cool down that I used to diligently do when I was 30 and thought my body was old. That despite all that, my body won’t accept a life without dance. And again, good thing I didn’t have a 9-to-5 job to keep me from it. 
I fell in love a lot this year. That sounds bad, doesn’t it? But I’ve gotten over feeling guilty about attraction and enjoying the moment. One of the things I’m wiser about this year is embracing the haliparot that lives within, but never taking her seriously. Okay, so maybe I didn’t fall in love a lot this year; maybe it’s more zohmygod there are so many boys. A few of them very, very fine, standing out, too. 
But only one that consistently made me happy. With whom I fell in love with over and over again this year. No matter what madness I found myself in, he met me in the eye of it and I felt at peace. 
When the new year starts, there will be a lot that will change. Again. Another year for the books. I can’t plan it yet, though, there are things I have to wait for. I’m not used to not planning my life, so you can imagine my impatience. And yet, I have no choice but to be patient. I have to see through these next few weeks, waiting, yet ready. 
Boy, am I ever. 
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

After Yolanda

I live in Manila, and therefore was not affected by the super typhoon Yolanda aka Haiyan. But news of the places affected in mid-Visayas break my heart every day. If you would like to help us recover from a typhoon that was stronger than Hurricane Katrina, I can recommend the following options:

Donate to the Red Cross. 

Local folk can text RED<space>AMOUNT to 2899 (Globe) or 4143 (Smart). Repeat tomorrow, and the day after that, until we’re okay again.

Or donate using Paypal or your credit card through this link: Select Supertyphoon Yolanda (HAIYAN) from the campaign dropdown.

Donate to Habitat for Humanity

Innumerable homes were lost, and I think Habitat for Humanity can use all the help it can get. Find out details here:

Monitor the Relief Efforts via

A good friend has dedicated her life to giving as much help as she can get for the people in the Visayas to get relief, find shelter, find their loved ones. Items posted are categorized per location, so that you can go straight to the news you need, including centers where you can go to volunteer.

Buy some art

Another good friend is donating all her Society 6 sales for November to Yolanda relief. If you were trying to decide whether to donate to the relief efforts or to buy Christmas presents for your family, you can do both at once. This is her link:

Thank you to everyone who has tried as much as they could to help, even those who can only spare PhP5.00. My good news for today was hearing the Australian government was going to send pop up clinics in the ravaged areas and will fly those with the worst conditions to get treated in Darwin, which is 4 hours away. I suppose after seeing Anderson Cooper’s CNN report, other nations are slowly figuring out the best ways to help, based on lack.

On day 6 of Typhoon Yolanda, I am quite disheartened by how slow it has been to help these affected areas. But I haven’t given up hope. I read this heartwarming story on FB involving these street kids stopping a lady at a grocery to include their contribution to the relief efforts – a can of sardines, a pair of rubber slippers, and some money to buy bread – they worried that if they sent the bread from where they were, it would just get squashed in the journey over. Stories like that just make you want to keep going, don’t they?

Crumbling down in Cebu and Bohol

I live in Luzon, the island north of the Visayas, and didn’t feel the earthquake at all. I was worried definitely about the earthquake as I have friends and family who live in Cebu. I am one of the many who are thinking, let’s count our blessings that the 7.2 quake wasn’t as destructive as the 7.0 quake that almost decimated Haiti. However, the crumbling of the churches in this region was what bothered me the most.

A photo being circulated around FB

A photo being circulated around FB

I’m not an avid Catholic (hahaha), but I love churches – firstly, the architecture just always blows my mind. Secondly, it’s not just the physical makeup but the solemness – sitting in a church, a beautiful, grand church, always gives me an overwhelming feeling of peace. Yes, overwhelming and peace are not quite congruent, but that’s how I feel, like my cup runneth over or something. Despite the flaws in the religious practice, I do believe that God visits these churches and this is where the serene vibe comes from.

I saw this post on FB trying to insinuate that the damage to these churches was God’s doing, like He wanted to punish us as in the old testament. WHAT. Hello, people, these are super old churches that were built by indio slaves under the stern eye of the whip-holding fraile (okay, I exaggerate). And this was a 7.2 earthquake. God did not smite us. Get a grip.

This short blog post on the churches and the Catholic Church’s scope of responsibility by Angela Stuart Santiago resonated with me and you should read it too. Her main point is the Church is very able to rebuild the churches on their own without the government’s help – although it would be nice if the government did help (my 2 cents). But do read her:

I don’t fully believe in Catholic religion, but I believe in people having something to believe in, and having a place to worship that belief. So, I hope that the churches be rebuilt as soon as possible, and made safe for the people with this faith. Like Stuart Santiago said, this is the place where the faithful feel the safest in. Game na.

On a lighter note, my sister-in-law Erica shared this hilarious post on FB, still on the subject of the earthquake and faith:


Like endless rain into a paper cup

So the past couple of days have been non-stop rain here in Metro Manila. Classes and work have all been called off, but I’ve been at my computer all day because I had a deadline for my big project of the year. My first deadline, which was meant partly to set deadlines. I don’t care if it still rains or it finally shines tomorrow, if regular work resumes or not, I’m going to take the day off.

(Though, truth be told, if there’s rehearsal tomorrow, I’m going to rehearsal because our show is next Wednesday the 28th and oh my lord, I need rehearsal).

Since part of the recently completed task was to set deadlines (not just for myself but for my team of writers), I’m going to be more realistic about the things I do, and how I’m able to do them. I always take on too much. Even though part of the reason for resigning from my last 9-to-5 was I wanted a weekend (I work at our ballet school on the weekend, so I literally had no downtime), I still haven’t had a proper weekend since I resigned. And i resigned nearly four months ago.

So, tomorrow, I’ll just chill. Yeah. Just sit around and watch TV or play Iron Man on the iPad all day. Unless the sky clears and we’re told to get our butts to the studio.

It’s still raining now, though. It paused very, very briefly late this afternoon, and it went back to torrential rain again. My dogs are in my room, where it’s cozy. They’re not used to being indoors, so they’re kind of confused about what they’re supposed to do. They’re the cutest.

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Puzzled but dry. #hugo and #sammy in my room.

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