Soar

*This is one of my favorite musicals of all time. I’ve seen it thrice, cried thrice. I think it’s relevant in a time wherein others try to villainize people who are different, and victimize them in doing so. But I’m no victim. Here’s to the things and people trying to bring me down:

Don’t be afraid

I’m not
It’s the Wizard who should be afraid
Of me

Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I’m through with playing by the rules
Of someone else’s game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It’s time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes
And leap

It’s time to try defying gravity
I think I’ll try defying gravity
And you can’t pull me down

So if you care to find me
Look to the Western sky
As someone told me lately
Everyone deserves the chance to fly
And if I’m flying solo
At least I’m flying free
To those who ground me
Take a message back from me

Tell them how I am defying gravity
I’m flying high, defying gravity
And soon I’ll match them in renown
And nobody in all of Oz
No Wizard that there is or was
Is ever gonna bring me down

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Mary Lou “Lion Heart” Retton

*Since it’s Olympic season, although it’s barely televised over here, I just wanted to share a wonderful moment that happened to me in the sea of Simone Biles news.

This is Mary Lou Retton. She’s an Olympic gold medalist in artistic gymnastics. 🏅 She’s an icon. My uncle says she was America’s darling. She changed the face of gymnastics becoming the first American woman to win individual gold, beating the Romanians, who together with the Soviets, had dominated the sport for decades back then. Moreover, I just think she has this bubbly, energetic personality that made everything she did absolutely captivating. It translated on the floor.

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Two nights ago I tweeted that 1984 was a golden year. And part of the reason I love 1984 so much is Mary Lou. Just look at her fire. 🔥 And to my amazement, she acknowledged the tweet! Her verified account. Just to make sure, I checked her likes and it’s not like she’s the type that goes around liking fan tweets, she mostly likes sports related announcements. Boy was I happy. I freaked out for a good 20 minutes. I really appreciate famous people that still acknowledge fans. It’s just a tiny effort on their part but it sure does brighten any fan’s day

I get so teary-eyed every time I watch this. Just listen to Bella Carolli energetically narrate history.

If it isn’t obvious, aside from tennis, artistic gymnastics is my favorite Olympic sport. Every four years, I look forward to seeing people achieve what looks like the impossible and I wish my folks enrolled me in gymnastics classes growing up. Hooray for small, strong people.

But there’s just something about gymnastics back in the day. It was a lot more about form, artistry, creativity, and grace. Today the athletes are inarguably pushed to physical limits, but it’s because the sport has centered on stunts and the difficulty of extreme flips and tricks. Props to Simone Biles for quite literally defying gravity and challenging physics. But I miss the performers. I think Mary Lou was one of the best performers out there and her perfect 10 athleticism that was no accident either. It was also just part of the technique that made up the rest of her show.

She’s such a hero not just because of her gold or perfect 10s but because of her fighting spirit. I just really look up to her flame. You can see it in her eyes and her candidness gives away her passion. Most of all you can see it in her smile.

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Each of us has a fire in our hearts for something. It’s our goal in life to find it and keep it lit.

—Mary Lou Retton

[18:38]

So I went under a slump, therefore self-proclaiming writer’s block and ultimately I’ve been very distracted for about a month already. Surviving meant not doing a single productive thing I can say I’m proud of. When I wanted to get out of it, it’s only gotten harder because I just found myself at the bottom of the pile of things I have to get done and change. But I’m going to get out of this for sure, one way or another… one thing at a time. There’s much I wanna do.

Featured photo: © Joe Webb 

Sole Sisters

*Just sharing something I wrote for my on-the-spot exam prior to getting my dream internship with Team ABC by Abbey Sy (click to see her blog here!) which I’m really excited for. The challenge was to make a one page blog post about my favorite adventure, and the catch: never mentioning the actual place. This is dedicated to Grace and Jeorge, plus Cam Chua who made the entire trip unlike any other and of course, Clarissa, Selina, Gabby, and Kimmy. 


As our red-eye flight plunged into an indigo blue dawn, four of my sleepyhead girlfriends surrounded a wide-awake and excited me. After the tease of lengthy immigration and baggage claim lines, and the blur of last minute transportation inquiries, we were finally greeted by the cool breeze of a foreign country.

3 days, 2 king-sized beds, 8 girls, no parents, and it almost felt like one of the world’s hippest cities was all ours to bask in.

Day 01: Hungry eyes

In the rush to check-in our budget hotel, drop our bags, change for the weather, and explore the neighboring establishments, we must’ve worked up quite an appetite. Fortunately for us, a friend who decided to take a study exchange program here, as well as one of the reasons we’ve visited, dragged us on a twenty-minute stroll along hillsides of parks and markets for the first and biggest lunch of the trip. Thanks to the glory that is unlimited strips of beef, pork, warm sticky rice, and fresh cabbage that we barbecued ourselves, this humble hole in the wall restaurant dug holes in our now happy tummies. This meal didn’t disappoint and we were hungry for more—food and everything this city had to offer. In an effort to burn the calories we gained, we took a hike to a Jesuit-ran dormitory and met the colorful faces of other foreign exchange students. And on our way back to the hotel, we took mental notes of our ‘trip bucket lists’ as we got glimpses of every store and street market that called out to each of us. Our night ended in a convenient store raid and one of the first of three slumber parties.

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First ever plane ride without my folks, but I guess that old man behind was watching. And those Nutella crepes were so addictive I had to have them every night. My face says it all..

Day 02: Of youngsters and the metropolis

I was happy to be able to cross something off my personal goal of trying every McDonald’s in every foreign country I visit. And in an attempt not to be culturally aloof, after a couple of sausage egg mcmuffins and cups of orange juice, we were off to an early start at the imperial gardens. Though we tried our best to stay with the tour, what can anyone expect from eight girls in the midst of acres of star-shaped-leaf-bearing trees that could be rivaled to Japan’s cherry blossoms among what mirrored the palaces of a cheerier Forbidden City in Beijing? After two hours rolling around in crisp red and orange autumn leaves, looking for lighting, and arguing who holds the selfie stick, we took the metro to the arts college district, also known as a Mecca for youngsters like ourselves who share an appreciation for endless bargains, music, art, and all kinds of food. From international brands to homegrown street stalls, kimchi cheese pasta to churros in ice cream, parades of performing students, and museums for the peculiar and quirkiest illusions. We were all beautifully lost in a city I never knew could be so vibrant and alive. By five in the morning, we were amongst hung-over partygoers and a few senior citizens that lined the seats of the metro waiting for the first train out and back to a still sleeping city.

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We joined the historical tour but they lost us or we lost them and we had our own photo tour!

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I gathered flowers, leaves, and acorns along the mini hike but it was a really long day. They didn’t survive the journey being squished inside my backpack. 😞

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My first autumn, our first autumn, and autumn has just gotta be the best season!

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Even funner than it looks over at the Trick Eye museum

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Antigravity stuff and.. uhuh

Day 03: November winds

Taking refuge from yesterday’s spur of events; we took a nice little picnic by the city’s most iconic river, a celebrated escape from the city’s buzz. After street food and 7/11 take outs, we rented bikes to race the length of the riverbank. I’ll never seem to forget the nostalgia of feeling at home in a place I just came to know but felt like I was a part of already, as the cold November winds embraced me and we came and gone on two wheels, while the others wobbled and learned along the way.

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We actually have decent-normal pictures

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Undeniably one of the best afternoons I’ve ever had ☺

Day 04: In between goodbyes and hellos

In half a day, a sprint to all the nearest shops, and a late food expo discovery, I’m half ashamed yet half proud to say I was flying home with a luggage that was about to pop as it was impossible to zip, and little to no pocket money left on me. As we hesitated to say goodbye to the city we’ve yet to discover inch by inch of, we were eager to be welcomed by our families back home with our hands balancing piles of gifts and souvenirs. Especially since it was my first time away from home, I made sure to return with the best pasalubong I could find for each and every person I missed and thought of.

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Weight gained: explained. Semi-exotic food: I miss.

Wherever my next travels take me to, this late November adventure has carved its place in the colorful diaries of my mind and I hope in our short stay, we’ve in turn, carved out our young souls in the bustling city of _ _ _ _ _ (guess the city I went to! *half pun intended ☺)

Joyride

*Truth be told, I’m one of those people that don’t take caffeine very well. If you know me, you’ve probably noticed that I have the capacity to be energetic and hyper without alcohol or anything else in my system, hence the effects of ‘not-child-friendly’ substances on me are the opposite of ideals, simply put: messy. It’s both a blessing and a curse. And as of this moment, I guess you can say, I’m writing this under the influence of coffee. Let’s see where this goes.


“Life is a roller coaster ride,” it has ups and downs, it’s scary yet exciting, and it’s best to enjoy it. For anyone who’s a bit of an adrenalin junkie (and I think we all have the potential to be), there’s truth in this widely known metaphor. Somewhere in between pressing deadlines, pending articles, and coming exams, I’m unwisely taking time off—time I barely have—to pause and actually ride with the thrilling bumps and gut-wrenching drops that the motion of life throws at each and every one of us. Unfortunately many tend to take for granted and simply dismiss as stress or just another stretch of busy days and longer nights. Although I sometimes slack off when it comes to finishing tasks that have to be done, deep down I’m a bit of a workaholic in my own right. Because admittedly and absurd as it sounds, I actually like working. Well, right after I’ve procrastinated 90% of the given time. There’s this unique buzz you get from being busy, and that’s the buzz of being productive. It’s that feeling after finally solving that math problem you spent half an hour on. It’s like that post-workout high when you know you’re gonna see the results on your body in two weeks despite the burn. It’s like that calm rush you get when you’re out of first gear and cruising smoothly on a traffic-free highway. And it’s the pat on the back you can finally give yourself when you’ve accomplished something no matter how big or small. It’s a bit of a love-hate relationship. People tend to lose track of where they’re headed because they confuse productivity for stress. They see the boulders on a mountain instead of appreciating the view. But being busy, especially when you’re doing what you love, is one of the closest things out there to feeling alive. It’s not exactly calm bliss, but at least you’re moving closer towards the clouds you’ve built your dreams on. To anyone feeling the weight of everyday ‘have to’s’ and ‘but I don’t want to’s’, remember that cheesy as it sounds, rainbows only do come after storms. In the mean time, while we’re all being thrown up and inevitably pushed down by the laws of gravity in this ride called, life, try letting out a little scream. And if you dare to stretch your arms up and out, you’ll feel the wind disheveling your hair, running in between and past through your fingers. It’s going to be a feeling unlike any other. So take a minute to ask yourself, what are the things that make you feel alive? Where are you going and why? Embrace that chase and enjoy the ride.


Here are some photos of me back in 2013 in Universal Studios, Singapore.  Fun fact: I have always wanted to go on a “roller coaster tour” around the world to ride every single scary of the scariest roller coasters out there before I get old.  IMG_0813

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