The entire family goes to L.A. to become spring breakers one Saturday morning, visiting the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the marvelous GTA-ish Santa Monica Pier, the ultra-expensive Universal Studios, and the Philippine embassy. And yes, those are the only places we went to in three days. The photos below are the only photos I handpicked from the very few I’ve taken since my phone’s been berserk after it went swimming during my Netflix and bathe session a week before we went to L.A.

First stop, barely awake, was the Hollywood Walk of Fame. This is Destiny’s Child. No, I already checked Lady Gaga doesn’t have one yet.


The Hollywood sign. Doing the slightly, pouty pose.

The Santa Monica pier photo w/ Mom. My favorite place out of the entire trip.

No matter how much I’d like to say I’m from House Slytherin, the Gryffindor in me goes wild.

Universal Studios, looking at the map, deciding where to go to next



Girls in the fam



Accidental Beautiful Shot




A Room of One’s Own

Hi and welcome to my room–where hopes and dreams lived and died and one of my favorite places on Earth. Room is also the new Oscar-nominated movie which I already love without even watching it–it will be the film to destroy me this week.
So a little flashback: I got my room a little before high school, I’m not really sure when but it’s around that time when the transition from being a child to a teen was intense, with a huge cabinet that stores both my clothes and the bedsheets in the house, taking up half of the entire room and a huge bunk bed only for me. I only have this vague memory of me texting in j3j3m0hn on bed with a cellphone that has keypads.

In here, in this very room, I locked myself away from the world because I hate it. I frigging hate the entire universe and turned to books. I only hated it because I was too afraid to go out (social anxiety? etc) or my parents were (worrisome? etc.). I was stuck in a place and I had to make the most out of everything in a tiny space so I travelled instead through books. I think books help us travel without moving an inch. I started to read Twilight for a month–finishing one chapter after the next, thinking I was a voracious reader, taking myself to the rainy paradise Bella lived in Forks.

Additionally, this was my father and mother’s room before my aunt’s family moved and became bigger. Consequently, it became the room that housed me as an infant. There was this story in the family where my makeshift crib was a stereo because the bed was too small. Then, we moved to the master bedroom. At that time, it belonged to my mother’s bachelor brother Gerry and had those Basketball player posters posted on the wall which I vandalized generously. My sister and I vandalized a lot of walls when we were young–I think it’s only natural. It also became a toy room when we got older and when Gerry moved. It was filled with toys. I remember this distant childhood friend/ preschool classmate of mine when we were five who ran away from home to visit me in the toy room and his dad panicked the shit out of himself who found his son hours later after my father called him. He’s now broke and weird.

For me, at the time, that was paradise–I was blessed with hand-me-down toys from my cousins and newly-bought and delivered from my grandmother in the U.S. And shit, my sister and I have all the time in the world to spend with them. It was freedom–to have this precious privacy: a room of one’s own. I can do anything with it. As I got older, I appreciated the concept of privacy even more which remains a challenge to me because I want to move away but I also do not want to abandon my family at the same time and make them feel like I don’t want them. I hope I find a compromise someday.

This is a very personal piece for me and I hope you’ll appreciate it–it’s the place where lots of things changed and lots of things were learned. This was written not only for my friends but for me because as I am writing this, my entire family has moved to the U.S. and this room will never be mine and the same again. It will be lost. It will be unfamiliar. All the things that symbolized my being me will be lost. I can’t believe it but I’m writing this realizing what I had lost. These are the parts of the room and my own parts:
  I actually have a lot of books since I am a Lit Major. I’ve hoarded them whenever there is a book sale. In total, I have about 90 unread books all in all. And my Kindle, home of downloaded e-books from the internet, is now deemed irrelevant.

  A bunch of posters: a huge East Coast basketball players poster, a Lady Gaga poster, a remembrance that I took from my Creative Writing workshop in the university, a painting gifted by my friend Ynca who remains to be the best gifter of all time because she knows what I want, at the back of it is a Twilight Breaking Dawn poster


I liked how she crossed out ‘never change’. She knows that I need to change and change is good if it’s for the better. One thing that made our friendship bloom was our mutual love for Lady Gaga when we were in our first year in college. Ah, memories.


My beautiful dirty desk contains a picture of me and my sister, on the wall is my drawing of Lady Gaga in 2012 wearing the outfit she wore in her Judas music video (probably the only decent thing I’ve drawn in my entire life) which is then vandalized by my little cousins (those fuckers!), next is my Gawad Ustetika award, a creative writing award which I’ve won for an essay about singing in the shower and how it became this liberating especially if the shower is filled with childhood memories and coming-of-age stories (and yes, I’m using it as a bookend) [For more of this story, click last year’s entry about it]. Next to it is the books I’ve been reading: The Scorch Trials by James Dashner and The Best American Travel Essays 2005. I haven’t been reading Philippine Literatures but it can’t fit to my brimming bookshelves so I just put it there. Lastly is a book stand, bought my lovely cousin Jill- it’s hella cute and it’s hella efficient when I want to read while eating (because eating alone is boring – I either watch a 20-minute show or read a book with a book stand)

I have to explain these notebooks and what they are for because for some reason I want to share it with you: the red in the middle has my daily schedule or homework notebook. I take notes on what to do for three days which is rarely ever followed but I like the concept of a schedule even if it’s an illusion for being organized. The eat-sleep-recycle notebook is for writing down the books I have read, complete with dates I’ve started and finished. I’m that O.C. and bored with my life. I’ve been using this notebook for three years I think. And it’s almost completely filled so I use the cattleya notebook above it sometimes for the same purpose. The other Cattleya notebook is for writing down progress on my project. I write down ideas on this character or wonderful plot ideas. These Cattleya notebooks are very new so there’s not much in it. The notebook on the bottom is my journal. I use it to copy down quotes from a book, draw or doodle (it has no lines in it) or write down vaguely what I’ve been up to. It’s very special because it’s given to me by my swimmer-athlete friend gorgeous as fuck Megan. I sometimes put pictures in it or boarding passes from airports. It’s going to be its one year anniversary on March and I have only taken like 15 pages of it. The blue notebook at the top on the other hand is my movie log notebook. I put movies I think I should watch sorted by its director or movie recs. I used to write movie reviews in them but I’m too lazy to write in them now. I just rate the movies I watched and list them. I also write down which movies are coming this week or month in this humble notebook. I left it at home because it’s almost full. I’ll just buy another one here.

My books if unshelved. This is my sister’s room by the way.

The four albums I have: Owl City was a gift from a friend in high school. I was into Owl City when I was in high school. I loved the autotune shit and the simplicity behind it. Speaking of autotune, the Ke$ha album is also a gift from my cousin Ron who took me to a record store five Christmases ago and said “go pick up something” (which was one of the best Christmas gifts ever–to have freedom to pick anything) alongside with Mike Posner whom I loved for a brief amount of time. Mike Posner’s album is all about travelling and partying which is kind of cool now that I’ve realized it. The last one is Lady Gaga’s hit album from four years ago, bought it at the album launch and met professional impersonator Lady Gagita together with my now-lost friend Myrtle. I can’t find the pics but I’ll post them one day from my grave.

I do not buy any more physical album because who in their right minds from a middle-class in a third-world country would when you can download it illegally or get it from Spotify like what a classic milenial would? But now that I’m in the U.S. and later working, I’ll probably have to change.

A first-year-high-school project about your own evolution from baby to barely an adult is nailed to the wall on my bed’s feet.

I’m a natural achiever

  A little explanation: this was at the top of my closet–a project in TLE from high school, unused comforters, a soccer ball pillow which was lost but when found it was hella dirty, a lamp from our high school production of Noli Me Tangere which I never returned and asked to be returned, a bottle of The Bar Vodka (I think) which I stole from my friend’s dorm and lastly a printer’s box containing some of my notebooks/journal in the last seven years.
Caps: a Lady Gaga cap, a found-in-the-closet M cap, and underneathe my Jeje cap from one of my iconic Facebook profile pictures in 2009. Underneath is a poster I got from Art Fair last year.

The chronology is random but I hoped you got a sense of me. We need to move on in the end and this is me moving on… farewell, my lovely room. One day, I’ll tour you guys to my New York apartment or something.

In Bohol, Through the Peacock Garden

Two months ago–my beautiful self, my sister, my newly-wed cousin and her husband made a trip to Bohol. And it was the farthest we had gone without a parent. Friday morning was when we flew to Tagbiliran Airport from NAIA after getting ice cream for breakfast and shopping for beach shorts. It was an absolutely beautiful day.IMG_2498
After a difficult flight with Cebu Pacific (we flew around the island of Bohol two or three times before we made an emergency landing on the nearby Mactan Cebu Airport which is ‘larger’ and safer that delayed our entire fun trip for two hours) we arrived at this strange beautiful paradise that they call The Peacock Garden wearing ear-to-ear smiles or at least I was.
It looked like something from an Italian, Greek, or German mansion. Or paradise. The infinity pool was overlooking the Bohol sea. The statues made an elegant effect. The staff was extremely friendly (they let us borrowed floaters to swim with). The doors’ keys were cards (I’m completely new to fancy 21st century hotels). The interior was amazing. The weather was overcast but didn’t rain as much.

After we grabbed a heavy  late (overpriced) lunch, we headed to our rooms to unpack and change into our swimming clothes. I was prepared–I had three swimming trunks and a white shirt (being shirtless makes me feel vulnerable and cold he he he). My sister had her waterproof camera pouch for underwater photos.

We had room service for dinner and slept early for the next day’s adventure.

Second day is getting out of the hotel day. The only way to get around Bohol is through van/ car rental which most of the time includes a chaffeur. The bus is ridiculous and far from the hotel. Jeep is difficult to familiar with. And tricycles are too small and slow for a tour around the island.

Day 2 to summarize is when we went looking for the ridiculously small monkeys Tarsiers in a slightly dangerous and slippeey trek, climbing a hill to see the glorious Chocolate Hills, eating our lunch in a Loboc river cruise and a quick short visit to the fallen Baclayon church.

We arrived back at the hotel and spend some time in the pool again.

We went home on Day 3 after we took a morning dip of course because I love it to be in the water, though cold. I imagined my afterlife to be floating in the ocean endlessly singing Lana del Rey songs.


‘Lolita’ in Hongkong

“How marvelous were my fancied adventures as I sat on a hard park bench pretending to be immersed in a trembling book?” (20)

“How marvelous were my fancied adventures as I sat on a hard park bench pretending to be immersed in a trembling book? (20)”

Quotes that will serve as captions are taken from Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Lolita, the book I was only able to read during plane rides, the book that I loved so much but haven’t finished yet. Also, this is the book I have described with a Russian accent for class last semester.

Despite not having read Susan Sontag, queen of philosophy and criticism on photography, I came up to the conclusion that pictures erases physical visibility (I’m not sure if I used that phrase correctly). This is a sad conclusion, F.Y.I., people will remember you by your pictures in your Facebook or Instagram rather than the person that you are in-person, in 4D. This is the reason why I take a thousand selfies and post only a handful of them.

I also think that if I take pictures of everything I see, I wouldn’t be able to experience them firsthand. All I will take home are pictures instead of an experience worth more than a thousand pictures. If I want to take a nice picture of Disneyland for myself, I could just easily Google Image search it and maybe find someone who has better photography skills (unless I want to be in the picture of course but most of the time I don’t (what is the point anyway of a picture of you standing outside The Peninsula Hotel for example? (no, seriously, you should tell me.))).

Also, if I took a thousand pictures of Hongkong and my mother just took two or three pictures, whose pictures would be more special? There’s something about the quantity of pictures that is related to the quality of the experience of the place. We may be immortalizing a place, a scene in life, a position, but our participation in it lessens.

A place is more than the historical sites, the pretty buildings, and fancy restaurants. It is also the people in it, the people who compose the country, the way they live, the slow-walk of their daily life and how we, tourists, destroy a routine by simply asking directions.

At the end of this blog entry is a vague itinerary. Hope you’ll like this. I hope I make sense.

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, exhibit number one is what the seraphs, the misinformed, simple, noble-winged seraphs, envied. (2)”



Note: I will continue editing this post to perfection. I’m not even close to finishing this but these are all the pictures I want to post.

I Left My Heart in Nasugbu

Note: the pictures aren’t taken chronologically as I would show them. These are all taken and edited with an iPhone on March 28 and 29. Lo and behold:

I walked on the beach at 5 a.m. and this was the only thing my eyes could see. This was taken at daytime.
Woman Warrior Ynca amidst the blue. One of my favorite pictures of the day.

9:03pm we left UST for Batangas, fresh cash on hand, bags on our backs and nothing but light in our eyes.

Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset
A picture I’d like to look at when I’m thirty or something.

10:20pm the Nasugbu bus from Coastal had left for the day’s final trip. We have to take a detour. We are suddenly lost in the smoke belching from the bus at the terminal.

Rendell, my jog buddy, the birthday boy, with the smiling Taal lake.
Rendell, my jog buddy, the birthday boy, with the smiling Taal lake.

12:27am we arrived in the cold arms of Tagaytay. There’s a Tapsilogan in neon sign in the middle of the street but I want a bulalo harder. We are stranded. Smoke from the cigarettes and smoke from the cold are our only company and the huge spotlight coming from the mall.

1:20am on what I dubbed as the miraculous bus, on the last trip of the bus company, as I am typing this, to Nasugbu bus. Most of them are asleep, my ears hurt like they hurt when I’m in a plane. We almost lost hope. And looking at the faint lights of the city, I’ve realized how far away from my family. This is the universe’s some way of liberating me. I am alive. I’ve never been this alive.

Mr. Jose Alfonso contemplating jazz
Mr. Jose Alfonso contemplating jazz

2:45 at the Rendevousz. Inside the tricycle in Nasugbu. Waiting for them to buy bottles of beer in 7-11. Sleepy as fuck.

Beach bum baby Jau, looking intently at the camera
Beach bum baby Jau, looking intently at the camera

3:33 beer on hand, safe, delighted, and satisfied on a bed in a room filled with breathing, laughing creatures. This pleases the soul.

This photo was my best picture. I was with the worst photographers ever.
This photo was my best picture. I was with the worst photographers ever.

5:02 my shorts are wet so I am sleeping in my underwear after I bathe under the light of a million stars and my feet buried to the sand. I take in the ocean’s breath and the dawn’s darkness.

The sea wants Wilfron, our first-aid guy.
The sea wants Wilfron, our first-aid guy.

8:12 Milo, bread, under the cogon Water, blue, howling.

Jau and Jomar (behind)
Jau and Jomar (behind)

9:03 Ocean, ocean, ocean. I could just die in here.

Jau's luscious thighs that I really like. This photo is really great, I think,
Jau’s luscious thighs that I really like. This photo is really great, I think,

10:21 the wind hugs you and you are cold as fuck. Loneliness is the wet shirt you are wearing. It sticks to your body. It is cold but eventually it is going to dry up but you’ll still have the scent of the swimming pool, the transparent green-shine, filled with chlorine. We are deciding if we should get back to the sea as J and JL finally wakes up. We do and we capture this epic moment.

1:45 Sleepy on the bed. Burnt skin, droopy eyes, a hungry heart and a gurgling stomach. The Cure is playing.

The most beautiful picture I have taken in my entire life: Jau rolling with the sea.
The most beautiful picture I have taken in my entire life: Jau rolling with the sea.

4:01 on the bus to Tagaytay. I’m looking over the window. This is going to be a pretty sight.
5:17 Bulalo. Jaytee’s overlooking the Taal volcano and it’s fucking beautiful. The sky is purple. My sky has never been purple. It has all come to this: I am erupting with so much energy and warmth. I love the ones I’m with.

6:30 on the way to Manila. Battery’s dying but I am alive. Only to myself at least.


10:47 I am home. Like I’ve always been. With the people that I love.