1 Year Without Tatay – A Year Of Change & Lessons

It’s crazy to think that it’s been 1 year since Tatay passed away. One thing I’ve always known is the fact that time waits for no one. Whether we like it or not, life moves on with or without our consent. How is it possible for time to move so fast yet so dreadfully slow at the same time? I’ve always felt this way, but especially this year. So much has changed, is changing, and will change. I’m notorious for resisting change at all cost, but this 1 year without Tatay has forced me to accept the things I know I can’t change. These last 12 months without our Tatay Jack has had its ups and downs to say the least. The theme of the last 12 months have been: CHANGE.

For the first few months after Tatay passed, I had no dreams of him whatsoever. This may seem like a “…okay, and?” moment for others, but for me it was a big deal. I consider myself a very intuitive person, and have always had vivid dreams that I would read as signs either from the universe, loved ones from the other side, or things of that nature. I’ve always felt that I have a third eye to some degree. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always looked for the deeper meaning in things and always believed in signs. I’ve always believed that those we love are still around us after they pass. For me, I’ve always got those messages through dreams. So I was devastated when weeks had passed by with no dreams from Tatay. I was pretty bummed that he wasn’t visiting me because I desperately wanted a sign.

It took a few weeks, maybe even a couple of months, for Tatay to start appearing in my dreams. When that moment happened, I was so relieved and felt an overwhelming sense of comfort and peace. If he wasn’t with me in the physical world, at least I could still see him again in my dreams. It’s a comforting feeling to know that he still lives on in my subconscious memory. Every time I have a dream of Tatay the night before, I wake up feeling content with life. Losing Tatay is the void that I will forever be trying to fill for the rest of my life, and dreaming of him makes this change without him a little easier.

Even though it took a while for me to dream of Tatay, once it finally happened, it happened consistently. Some I remember vividly, and some very faintly. You know that feeling when you know someone was in your dream the night before but you can’t really remember all the details? You just remember envisioning their face and wishing that they were there and it were real life. For a while though, I had a few regular occurring dreams of Tatay. This frequent dream, I admit, is a bit morbid, and I would wake up feeling like I wanted to cry each time.

I dreamt this regular occurring dream over the span of a couple months. I wouldn’t dream of it everyday, but I can think of 3 or 4 different dreams where basically the same thing happens. In these dreams, I would be trying to convince people that Tatay was still alive, that it was all a mistake, and if they’d only listen to me, he’d be back with us. Like I said, these dreams were pretty morbid, but they always ended the same way. The dreams differed in small ways, but it was always the same gist. It was always that Tatay’s death was a misunderstanding, and he was in fact, still alive. In some of my dreams, we were even at the cemetery, the digger present to reopen his grave. Sometimes, it would even be me digging his plot, anxiously trying to prove that Tatay was buried alive. I had no doubt in my mind that he would come out, living, breathing, and perfectly well – a huge misunderstanding that we could easily fix.

I would wake up sad as fuck, wishing that that was actually our reality. But I knew it wasn’t, and it never could be true. I had this dream in different forms for a long time. One day, I casually told my sisters about my morbid occurring dream of Tatay. My older sister said, “That’s your subconscious not coming to terms that he passed away.” And I knew that was the case. It took such a long time for me to process and come to terms with the fact that Tatay passed, how he passed away when the state of the world was in shambles and had many restrictions, and feeling robbed of more time. It took a couple months for me to accept all of these things, and I guess it took my subconscious even longer to register in my brain that he was actually gone. For me, my dreams are always revealing what I push deep down and avoid. Just a few months ago, the reoccurring dreams of me thinking that Tatay was buried alive stopped. I guess it finally sank in, 1 year later.

I will admit though, there have been plenty of times where I simply forget that Tatay has passed on, even 1 year later. It’s crazy because I think about him all the time – he’s one of the first things I think of when I wake up, and always on my mind before I go to sleep. But there are still times when I enter his home and think that I’ll see him. There are still times I think we’re going to get him bread and drop it off for a quick visit. There are still times I think I’m going to be welcomed by the smell of Vick’s and hear his cane coming down the stairs. My head has adjusted to the fact that Tatay has passed on, but my heart still needs to get used to this new reality. Different places, smells, and times of the year bring me back to different memories of Tatay.

These last 12 months have brought on so much change for the Cabillo family. Extended family are starting to relocate elsewhere, and it’s a change we all have to get used to. For all my life, the core of the family has been in the Bay Area. Tatay was in the Bay Area with 5 of his 7 children. We got so used to family coming in from Vegas for Tatay’s birthdays, Thanksgivings, and Christmas’, that it’s unfathomable to think that that’s most likely a thing of the past now. Things were bound to change – our family is forever growing – but we didn’t expect it to all happen so quickly.

I have never been one that conforms to change easily. I’m such a nostalgic person by nature – I’m big on family traditions, family time, and preserving things from the past. So when 1 by 1 we got news that family planned to relocate elsewhere, of course it made me sad. Because that meant that our family dynamic would soon be changing – everyone scattered around and no longer a short car ride away. But I’m aware that nothing stays the same forever, and if Tatay’s passing has taught me anything, it’s that. Change is inevitable, it’s a part of life, and it can be really sad. But in the midst of all this change, I’ve learned that it’s how you adapt to change that really matters. Feel those feelings and do whatever it takes to come to terms with the changes at hand, but pivot after and learn how to adjust.

Like I said many times, Tatay’s passing made me realize what and who is most important to me in this life. With Tatay gone, family moving away, and everyone doing their own thing, the family is well aware that we need to make a conscious effort to prioritize making time for each other to keep our family close. Effort and time is something that money can’t buy. The last 12 months without Tatay has taught me to be more mindful of being present for events for those I care about, even if that means expensive Ubers, plane tickets, and taking time off of work. Because at the end of the day, you can always make more money, but you can’t buy more time. Show people you care about them now, while you still can.

It has been a long, yet short, 1 year without our Tatay. One of my worst fears is that with time, I will forget tidbits of Tatay. From here on out, more and more time will pass. I had a hard time accepting the fact that my children will never meet their Tatay Jack in the physical world. But one thing’s for sure, my kids will hear many stories of their funny, gentle yet aggressive, animal-loving, likes things a certain way, Ray-Ban wearing Tatay Jack. 1 year ago, we lost such an important person in our family. But Tatay’s death has brought us closer in many ways. For my cousins and I, it definitely strengthened our desire to make the effort to keep our family close.

No matter what changes happen or where we all move to, home will always be where Tatay is.

POV: 2017

As I stood there impatiently, for what seemed like a 10 minute long wait to fill up my Hydro Flask, I thought back to what my reality was like almost 5 years ago. Even writing the title of this post: “POV: 2017,” I had a “damn” moment, realizing that 2017 was literally 5 years ago. I can’t wrap my head around that. In my mind, it still feel like I’m in the year 2019. 2020 at the very latest. I can’t believe such a significant amount of time has passed.

Anyways, there I was, standing in my kitchen on a Thursday night, thinking of all the work I had to do the next morning. The preschool is nearing the end of the school year. That means a lot of things need to get done to close out this school year before we shut down and we go on summer break. I thought about my current position at work and where I stand in my life in general. Even though the next day’s stresses were weighing heavy on me already, I thought back to a time where I couldn’t imagine being where I’m at now.

I thought back to 2017, and damn, it took me back. I had flashbacks of me sitting in that gray chair leaned against the wall of the Kid’s Club at the gym. Those 4 walls of Fitness 19 were my life from 2014 – 2017, and I ain’t talking about working out. I spent 4 hours a day in that little room, I’ll never forget that blue carpet with the colorful crayon pattern that, for some reason, went halfway up the walls. I had made that space my own – bringing in my own movies for the kids to watch so I’m not watching Frozen for 4 hours straight, even though that’s what ended up happening anyways. To this day, I can probably recite every word to Frozen, Tangled, Beauty and the Beast, and some episodes of Super Mario Brothers.

I had great memories working at the Kid’s Club – I took care of some awesome kids, befriended their parents, and had a lot of deep talks in that small room with close friends, new friends, and members of the gym. It was also the room my friends and I used to workout in when we felt insecure about being judged by the regular gym goers. I’ve had countless phone interviews for articles I was writing for Xpress Magazine where I sat crisscross apple sauce on that nasty ass ABC mat. It was the job I had while I was in community college, and for a while when I was at SF State. It was the job that got me by, and even though it just barely got me by, given that I lived at home and had no real bills to pay, it was a great first job to have. It reminded me of simpler times, where all I cared about was my social life, school, and having fun.

But clearly, working at the Kid’s Club at my local gym was not my dream job or end goal. When it got slow at the Kid’s Club, I have vivid memories of staring off into space, completely zoning out. Don’t worry – the kids were fine – probably watching a movie or playing amongst each other. But with 4 hours to basically sit and watch kids who have made friendships with one another and waste no time chopping it up amongst each other, it left a lot of time for me to sit and think. At times it felt like that room was my mental prison. I was always thinking of what the next step of anything would be – the next stage of life, the next stage of school, the next stage of my career, the next stage in my relationship, the future as a whole.

Now, I know I said the job reminds me of simpler times, which is true. However, that’s me in the present looking back at it now. Back then, I was equally as stressed out, just in different ways. The pressure of school deadlines, maintaining my grades, a social life, all while being broke as shit was no walk in the park. Looking at it now, I was just at the threshold of adulting, and if current me could give 2017 year old me any advice, I’d say that the current stresses in life would just be replaced with different ones – enjoy the mother fucking process. But 2017 me was 22, in the thick of my school career and on the cusp of trying to get my life together.

I enjoyed my job, but at the same time I knew I wanted more. Obviously working minimum wage as a glorified baby sitter wasn’t my dream job, but I knew there were other ways for me to feel more fulfilled for the time being until I graduated and figured out what to do with me life. 2017 Marinelle felt uninspired, lost, and burnt out working at the Kid’s Club. I felt the anxiety from deep within my soul when thinking about the future. I would sit on that gray chair, staring off into space, and literally wait for time to pass by.

One day, with the usual 3 favorite movie rotation, I managed to sneak in a movie other than Frozen. To my satisfaction, Tangled was playing in the background as I did my routine – kids comes, they play with each other and ignore me, I put on a movie for background noise, and I watch and manage the kids as my mind wanders. I can distinctly remember the next steps of my relationship was heaviest on my mind. At the time, Christian was going from living situation to living situation, staying in the Bay Area solely for our relationship. All first generation Filipino Americans can relate – moving out is a big deal. It’s not just financial independence and venturing out into the real world, it’s also nerve wrecking and a drama-filled topic to even bring up.

I knew the next steps in our relationship would be to move in together. But I was stressed as shit knowing that I was nowhere near financially able to do so. I wanted to do things the “right way,” and I was incredibly overwhelmed with the fact that we literally live in the most expensive area in the country. I felt like there was no “right way” to check all the boxes to appease everyone. I was stuck, emotionally exhausted, and I felt like my life was at a standstill. I dreamt of the day where I could say that everything building up until that moment was worth the struggle, the fight, the late night stress. I wanted more than anything to be done with school, start my writing career, and live a comfortable life. I had no idea how I would get to that point.

In the thick of all of these anxious thoughts, the song, “When Will My Life Begin,” started to play in the background of the Kid’s Club. I’m a singer – not the best out of the bunch, but that never stopped me. I sing because I like to, not because I think I actually have bars. So like any other day, I sang along to the lyrics. Usually, I would sing the background song while casually scrolling through my phone, not paying too much attention to the meaning and what I’m actually saying. This specific day though, the Tangled sound track hit a little different. Singing the words, “When will my life begin?” hit me. Damn, that’s deep. I felt that shit in my soul. I couldn’t relate more. That’s exactly how I felt in that exact moment in time. I remember daydreaming about having it all together and figured out in the future, looking back to this exact moment. That’s what I wanted so desperately – to know that it was going to get better and things were going to sort itself out eventually. And it did.

I stood there, my Hydro Flask just barely getting to the top, finally. And I remembered that I would’ve never guessed to be where I’m at now back then. I remembered that what I’m living and doing right now is exactly what I wanted just 5 years ago. Sometimes I need to take that step back to realize that even though I’m not exactly where I want to be in life, in my career, in XYZ… I’m still making progress in the right direction. That’s not always so apparent from day to day life, but when you see the picture, you see how far you’ve come. I need to appreciate that life happens in mysterious ways. I can only imagine where I’ll be 5 years from now when I think back to this moment – filling up my water bottle on a Thursday night in 2022.

Improving Communication

I’ve realized lately that I’ve been more detached and have adopted the “go with the flow” / “I really don’t care” attitude, which is a big improvement since I’m usually an over-thinker that exhausts every scenario and question in my mind. I don’t know if my aloofness is due to pandemic fatigue, getting older, being busy, or just not giving a shit like I used to. What I’m currently working on is realizing that I am not responsible for anyone’s actions and emotions, except my own. Yes, in theory, that seems like a given. But it is something that I’ve struggled more with in the past. I’m learning to set boundaries with people around me, and removing myself from people or situations that don’t make me feel good. Over the past year, this is the area that I have grown and improved in the most. Being aware of how I communicate and how I choose to react has helped me see what I need to improve. It has also helped me see the flaws in others, and not letting their poor communication skills, or how they choose to project their feelings, effect me.

It’s a no brainer that everyone – regardless of who you are- deals with their own inner turmoil and demons. I will be the first to admit that there are still so many aspects of me that need healing, more self-work, and reflection. I know I’m not perfect. Self-work is an emotional journey. It’s a mix of shame, regret, sadness, and hope that there are better days to come. It’s never a straight path journey. It can be a little discouraging when you are doing so well for a period of time, and then something happens where you say something out of anger, or act a certain way that you’ve been trying so hard to avoid. At those times I get frustrated with myself, thinking that my progress that I worked so hard on is suddenly down the drain, and instead of progressing and going forward, I took a couple steps back. I feel emotionally drained knowing that I start back and square one – or at least it feels like it’s back to square one. Being aware of your bad habits and communication style is step one. Trying to unlearn all the bad habits and re-train your brain to react differently is a lifelong journey. I can only control what I choose to do with my life and time. And that also includes how I choose to react, or not react, who I choose to let in my inner circle, and what I will allow and not allow.

2020 was a bit of a shit show. But at the very least, it made me be more aware of how I communicate. When I really put my communication skills under the microscope, I felt ashamed and wanted to take the next steps to be a better communicator. It’s funny because in the professional sense, I am great at communication. I can keep it professional and say what needs to be said without hurting anyone’s feelings. But in my personal life, my communication is not that great. I’m very blunt, and I find it hard to cover up my annoyance, anger, and frustrations – it just results in being snappy and yelling. I’ve always said that I believe I’m a writer because I can’t communicate my emotions verbally without sounding like I’m all over the place. Writing it all out gives me the opportunity to revise my words, being extra careful to get all of my points across, leaving nothing unsaid, but at the same time giving the right tone. Verbally, I’m quick with my words, and I’ve come to realize over the years that my come back game is strong, but it can be very hurtful.

But I also understand that I can only control myself, and not others. Being aware of my own actions and trying to change my ways has forced me to see where others fall short as well. I reflect a lot on who I choose to surround myself with, and how certain relationships – whether that be with friends, acquaintances, family, and other people that I have to deal with day to day – can negatively impact me. Over the years, I have found myself cutting ties, letting friendships naturally drift, and setting boundaries. But it was not always that easy. It has taken years to finally set some boundaries for myself for what I will allow and will not allow into my life.

At this point in my life, I have tried to take more responsibility for how my words and tone can escalate a situation. Sometimes that even results in me staying silent to avoid an even bigger argument. Growing up, verbal fights weren’t over until there was an obvious winner or loser. This usually meant that someone said something so hurtful that the other person was in tears. You “win” the fight, but in the end you’re the loser for stooping so low. So now as an adult, I have to give myself constant reminders that a conversation can be had with disagreements without turning into a fight or argument. I try to apply this when I have a disagreement with my significant other, my sisters, sometimes even my parents. Like the saying goes, “it’s not what you say, but how you say it.” The importance of communication is undervalued, but I have seen instant improvements when I shift my tone or how I word things.

However, communication is a 2 way street. I can work on myself all I want, but I can’t control how others choose to communicate. How someone treats me is a reflection of themselves, and that is a pill that is hard to swallow. The truth is, not everyone will like you, and not everyone will be in your corner. How people act towards you when you are genuinely trying to better yourself is a reflection of how they feel about themselves. I’ve learned to just let it go, cut it off, and remove myself from those type of situations. Everyone has had some relationship, it could be romantic or not, that has been very negative and overbearing. It can be a relationship with your parent, or sibling, or friend, or co-worker, or in-laws, that just drains you. It can be anything from talking behind your back, saying hurtful things on purpose to hurt you, ignoring you on purpose so they make you feel like you owe them something, things that just don’t make you feel good. It may be sad to know that you are not for everyone, but it is also an eye opener to realize that not everyone is for you. You don’t have to have a relationship with people who constantly make you feel bad about yourself.

Everyone is dealing with something, but it comes to a point where it can’t be an excuse for how you treat others. That’s when cutting off, drifting, or setting boundaries comes into play. At this point in my life, I don’t have time to wonder if people are speaking ill of me behind my back, I don’t have time to argue with people who refuse to see my side or even listen, and I definitely don’t have time for people who don’t have the best intentions for me. It’s good to set boundaries with others, but also with yourself. What you will allow, and what you won’t. At the end of the day, you can only control how you communicate with others. And if you don’t like how someone is communicating with you, unfortunately, you can’t force someone to fix something they don’t think is broken. That’s something that they have to want and do for themselves. You can’t force someone to realize that they can be shitty at times. At those instances, it is best to remove yourself from that situation, or break that cycle.

The lesson of communication has taught me that not every person is going to be along for the ride with you forever. There are friendships and people that you just have to leave behind to move forward. It can be pretty sad, but it does bring a lot of peace of mind knowing that you have surrounded and hand picked every person that you chose to be in your life. And dealing with toxic / problem relationships without cutting them off is another story. Sometimes we are put in situations where you can’t really “cut off” the person that is bringing you so much negativity. I have found a middle balance of keeping it professional, but also keeping it moving. My feelings don’t get hurt anymore if someone is being shady because I’ve literally learned to not give a shit. I’ve learned to look past my own hurt and not take it personally. If you’re treating me some type of way, I know that it is something that you are dealing with within yourself. Awkward silence is no longer awkward for me, and letting someone else’s mood affect my mood is only giving them the satisfaction – misery loves company, and I got other shit to deal with.

2020 forced these things to light. “That’s just how I am,” is no longer and excuse or pass. Nobody is perfect, and we are all a work in progress. But, being aware, and attempting to re-learn is what’s important. You can’t control how someone reacts, speaks, or treats you. You can only control how you act, react, speak, and treat others. Understanding this has made it easier for me to weed out who I don’t want in my life. Setting boundaries has made me set a standard for what kind of people and energies I want to be around. I’m aware that I’m not perfect, but being aware and conscious that my communication skills need to be improved. It has brought on a whirlwind of emotions, from shame, anger, embarrassment, and everything in-between. There will be times where the progress feels stagnant, and like you’re fighting an uphill battle. There will be times where you mess up and go back to your old communicating style, but it’s all a part of the lesson. Understanding my emotions, and the root of why I react the way I do, has been a journey on it’s own, “that’s just the way I am,” is something I’ve been trying to take out of my vocabulary.

Filipino American History Month

Daly City / San Francisco born and raised. Daly City, California, is known for the huge Filipino presence. People joke around that Daly City is basically “Little Manila.” I was fortunate enough to grow up in an area that is so culturally diverse, but also, had people that had the same background and traditions as myself. I know that a few hours out of the Bay Area in either direction is a totally different story. So I didn’t realize until my early 20’s how lucky I was to grow up here. I know there are a lot of people that have stories about being some of the only Asians at their high school and feeling the need to conform to those around them, which usually meant acting more white.

Of course, when I was younger, I was unaware of how fortunate I was to live in an area where some people have the same features as me, speak the same 2nd language as me, and have similar traditions as my family. At the time, all of this was my normal reality. I went to a Catholic school that highlighted a Filipino-Chinese Saint, Lorenzo Ruiz, every year. And everytime September rolled around, we would have San Lorenzo Ruiz’s mass during school hours. I would feel such a sense of pride. Mr. Mills’ class always “hosted” that mass, and I remember since Kindergarten going to the mass every year.

One student would recite sentence by sentence Lorenzo Ruiz’s story in English, and another student would translate that sentence in Tagalog. I can still remember the script: “Lorenzo Ruiz, our first martyr.” “Lorenzo Ruiz, una naming martir…” There was a specific song we sang at the mass that was entirely in Tagalog. I couldn’t understand the whole song, but I could understand majority of it. This was my “normal” growing up. Celebrating a Filipino Saint, for example, was “normal,” but now I look back and realize it’s because we had such a big Filipino community in the Bay Area. And I took so much pride in it. I was so proud.

When I was in 5th grade I was finally in Mr. Mills’ class. I was excited because I knew that I had the chance to play a role in the mass since he hosted it every year. When Mr. Mills started to ask for volunteers, my hand was one of the first to shoot up in the air. I wanted to be a part of San Lorenzo Ruiz’s mass so bad. The mass highlighted Filipinos and our language, and I wanted to be involved. Luckily, Mr.Mills picked me to have a part in the mass. I was going to be reading the English translation of Ruiz’s story. I was so excited because it was something I had watched for years from the church pews, but now, I’d be the one presenting it.

I practiced every night with my lines. The mass was going to be in front of the whole school, definitely more than 600 people. We would practice in the church, and I would have the microphone. I was known for being a loud mouth, which is probably why I was picked to read and have the role. Mr. Mills would always tell us, “Project your voice. Enunciate!” I could probably use my regular voice and people in the church could hear me without a microphone, so I was solid. I remember the day of the mass, I started to get stage fright. I looked out into the crowd and saw all eyes on me, as Ivan and I stood infront of the whole school. We told Lorenzo Ruiz’s story in English and in Tagalog, and after, I felt such a sense of pride that I got to be a part of something that highlighted my people.

Even though I grew up in a place where there were a lot of Filipinos, I still didn’t understand why nobody on TV looked like me. I would get excited watching shows that had an Asian person, and it was even more heart eyes if I knew they were Filipino as well. It was to the point where my sisters and I would say things like, “Look, an Asian!” “Do you think they’re Filipino?” “I bet maybe they’re half,” when we would see an Asian on TV. So even though I came from an area that was very Filipino/ Asian dense, I knew from a young age that Asians were  not being represented on the TV screens. From Manny Pacquiao, to Shay Mitchell, to Apl.de.ap, to Jokoy, to Jasmine Trias on American Idol, once we caught wind of them being Filipino, we rode hard for them. On Balitang America, the Filipino news station that broadcasted American news through the Filipino lens, they would feature any Filipino making a name for us in America. From the music industry, to entertainment, to education. 

I feel like Filipinos are very proud of other Filipinos who “make it.” Even if they have a small following, just claiming their Filipino heritage will have other Filipinos rep them. I even remember going on Shay Mitchell’s Ask back in the day and asking if she was really half Filipino. She actually responded and confirmed that she was in fact half Filipina. It made me so proud that an actress that I looked up to was representing us on the screen. I even recall reading interviews where Shay talked about growing up in an area that was mostly white, and being biracial had her feeling left out. Seeing people that look like me on the screen was important growing up. I was the kind of kid that literally set a “Filipino For Lyfe” themed MySpace background. Jokoy described seeing other Filipinos on TV as motivation to go for his dreams and make it as well. 

When I got to high school the history books just touched on Filipino American history oh so briefly. I used to skim through the history books in middle school and see where Filipinos or the Philippines was ever brought up. It wouldn’t be much. High school was a weird time. Going to a high school in Daly City meant that there were gonna be a lot of Filipinos. It wasn’t always the case, but sometimes there would be snarky comments (sometimes from people I was even cool with) complaining about how the whole school is mostly Filipino / Asian. Being Asian or Filipino in Daly City didn’t make you special. You were just like everybody else. Which I saw was a good thing when I was younger. But then I hit my teen years and wanted to be different, I didn’t want to be “like everyone else.”

I wasn’t ashamed to be Filipino, but I wasn’t repping it hard like I used to. Why would I have to rep it if everyone and their mama was Filipino in Daly City anyways? Don’t get me wrong – I still would be happy when I saw a Filipino coming up. But at the same time I wouldn’t plaster “Filipino For Lyfe” as a MySpace background anymore because I thought it was cringe. At this age I was on the prowl for a boyfriend (cringe lyfe), and when people would ask if I would ever get with a Filipino guy, I’d respond in a way that made it seem like “never in a thousand years.” Which I thought was okay, since I’m Filipino too. “What if I find out they’re my cousin or something?!” I would say. Which by the way, isn’t too far fetched, my family on both sides are pretty big.

I would say it wasn’t until I got to SFSU and joined the journalism program did I start to get that sense of pride back again. Suddenly, my whole perspective shifted. I took on the role of “journalist” and was bothered over the fact that a great portion of newsrooms are ran by white people. White men to be exact. The lack of diversity in journalism is what ticked me off. And I wanted to change that. I wanted to represent my people and capture stories of people in my community, and branch out further. Suddenly, that pride was back. But that pride was matched with determination. Determined to make change and actually make a difference. I wasn’t giving people a “voice,” because everyone has a voice. I wanted to be so open and chill that anyone felt like they could open up to me and tell their stories, and describe to me their raw emotions.

Suddenly, I had a mission. I wanted to get more in touch with my culture, the good and the bad. And since being on this journey, I have learned a lot, just by talking to people casually about their own experiences. I started to embrace my Filipino culture with open arms again, like how I did when I was a kid. I didn’t care if I was 1 out of 2 billion Filipinos in the Bay Area. I didn’t care about the “Little Manila” jokes anymore. I wanted to learn more about my people’s history, their stories, their struggles. And I wanted to write it. Not some random journalist who is just trying to bang out another story. I didn’t want someone else to be writing our stories.

Especially being out of school, I have made efforts to try to educate myself on my own. I remember writing a paper in community College about how my dad’s side of the family arrived to America. Just by talking to the members of my own family, I uncovered historic events. My great grandfather was a prisoner of War and survivor of the Bataan Death March. This information I would’ve never known if I didn’t have the school assignment, and if I never asked for the story. I started becoming obsessed with other people’s stories. My whole life I’ve been the talker. And now, I’m taking on the role of listener and teacher.

October is Filipino American history month. Every month, we teach the kids at my school about a new country. This month, I chose the Philippines. Over the years I have seen the Bay Area, but San Francisco is particular, changing. And changing fast. And it’s nice to teach my 1.5 – 2 1/2 year old students about my culture and traditions. One of my students got picked up and told her mom she painted a flag for activity. Her mom asked if she remembered what country’s flag she painted. My student responded with, “Well, it’s where teacher Marinelle’s mom and dad is from.”

I had the right idea when I was in 5th grade, “Filipino For Lyfe.”

What Will Make My 2020 Meaningful

“What do you need to do by the end of the year to make this year meaningful?” -Wordsmith Deck

When 2019 was ending, my goal for 2020 was to get a job in the writing/ journalism industry. I wanted to finally put my degree to use. That was one of my biggest fears – graduating and not using my degree. I know that’s not uncommon, a lot of people graduate with a certain degree and end up in completely different fields. And that is completely fine. But for me, I wanted to make sure that I gave it my all in the industry, and I know that meant starting from the bottom.

The running joke of journalists is that the money just ain’t there, even though the field takes a lot of dedication and passion. When I was still in school, it seemed like a lot of the professors and professionals that came in to talk about their experience as journalists had to put work above personal life to be successful. This was always something that worried me because I always knew I wanted a family, but I also wanted to be successful in writing. It seemed ironic that the girl who is so set on staying in the Bay Area got into a field that literally calls for travel and possibly living in different places in the world to be successful.

When 2020 started, I was motivated. I started getting my resume together and applying to journalism jobs. When COVID-19 hit, I used that time to apply to many entry level positions. I was applying and applying, but getting nothing but rejection email after rejection email. It was disheartening. It sucked because the positions I was applying for weren’t even what I was passionate about. It seemed like starting from the bottom to get experience just meant being a corporate sellout for a while until I have some experience under my belt. Not only was I getting rejected, but I was getting rejected from jobs I wasn’t even excited about. Finally, during the shutdown, I got my first follow up email that wasn’t denying me. In fact, they wanted to move forward with me and sent me some more information to reply back to where they would see if I was a fit.

It felt so good. My first non-reject email. May I remind you, I didn’t even get the job. But not getting denied after what seemed like 50 rejection emails was a fresh of breath air. This job could be a 1 hr drive with traffic from where I lived. But with public transportation, it was almost 1.5 hrs one way. It wasn’t even worth it. And it wasn’t even something that I was passionate about. I want to write with purpose and tell stories, but this job would’ve had me writing replies to people on social media under the company’s handles. There was nothing wrong with the job, but I felt like my passion was on the line for the price of getting my foot in the journalism door. And that wasn’t worth it to me. But, it still felt good to know that atleast a company was interested in me. Before this point, I was feeling super incompetent and pathetic. I had the degree, some experience, but nobody wanted me.

I felt a lot better knowing that I could’ve had a “journalism” entry level job if I wanted to. That email gave me hope and encouraged me to keep trying. By this time, COVID was all over the news. We’ve been shutdown for a couple of weeks. 2020 was not looking like how I planned it would be. If I thought it was hard to find a journalism job before COVID, how much more with everything shutdown? People were losing their jobs, businesses were closing down, unemployment was at an all time high – this didn’t seem like the right time to get a new job. The shutdown time kept getting extended. By this time, more than a quarter of the year had passed. My goal was for me to get a journalism writing job in 2020. I felt like my time was running out.

Then, my current job proposed an opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up. The new living situation would be at least a 2 year commitment to my current job. I felt like if I took the offer, I’d be taking the “easy way” out, and I’d be prolonging my writing career. I didn’t want to put my dreams on hold. But like I said in my previous post, I decided to pivot. Applying to all those entry level journalism jobs discouraged me because it seemed like they had nothing to do with what I wanted to do with my writing. I know everyone starts from the bottom and has to work their way up, but at the rate I was going, I felt like the journey was going to take a long time, and the experience I would be getting didn’t even seem relevant to my end goal.

I took the offer and decided to commit to atleast 2 more years at my current job. But in doing so, I promised myself that I wouldn’t let writing fall through the cracks. Since I graduated at the end of 2018, I used 2019 to just take a breather. I also felt like I was stalling, because I feared rejection and also didn’t know what steps to take to get to where I wanted to be. I didn’t see it at the time, but all those entry level irrelevant jobs made me realize that maybe the traditional path isn’t my path. And maybe it was supposed to be this way… Or shit, maybe I’m just telling myself all this to make me feel better. But all I know is, with how America is handling COVID-19, with no luck in landing an entry level position, feeling some type of way about how I’d feel unfulfilled at most of these entry level jobs even if I did get it, and then having the once in a lifetime opportunity living situation on the table, I knew it was all thrown at me for a reason.

I decided to pivot. I changed my whole plan when I took that offer. But I feel like it was a better plan than my original. I came up with a solution where I can still be the manager at the preschool 8-5 and feel fulfilled as a writer. Like I said, this situation opened my eyes and made me think – Maybe the traditional route isn’t for me. I decided that I’m going to use these next 2 years (or more) to spit out all the passion projects I haven’t pursued yet. If not now, then when? That’s the phrase that kept popping up in my head. It’s the same feeling I felt when I decided to post on this blog consistently over a year ago.

If I do all the passion projects that I have up my sleeve and they’re unsuccessful – 1. Atleast I know I did them and tried. 2. I did it all the while being a responsible adult and working a whole ass full-time job. 3. At least I’ll never have that “what if” in my head. 4. I’ll be proud of myself regardless if they’re successful or not because I know I did it for me as a personal goal and 5. I’m content with the fact that I followed my heart and took the unfamiliar path. And if I try all these things that I’m passionate about and nothing comes out of it, that’s okay too. Then I’ll just pivot again and consider the traditional route. But until then, my passion projects are my goal – and honestly, they always have been.

Just starting those passion projects will make my 2020 more meaningful. It sounds like a small step, but starting is always the hardest part. There is so much more I want to do in writing, this blog is just 1 passion project out of many. I really thought my 2020 was going to be a flop year. But it has really proven to be a year that has challenged me and forced me to grow. Because of the events that transpired this year, I had to re-evaluate a lot of my plans. And now I’m excited to follow through with those plans and finally get started on all the ideas I’ve had since college.

It’s one of those things where you have every detail thought out in your head, and the only thing you have to do is start. You already have the idea, how you’re going to execute it, you did your research, and now it’s just on you to get the ball rolling. I sat on the idea of me posting consistently on this blog for years before I actually went through with it. And now, here I am over a year later, and I don’t remember what it’s like to not post every Monday. I know I am capable, and I know the time to make moves is now.

Getting started by the end of the year on my other passion projects will set the tone for the next 2+ years. After such a rocky and stressful 2020, I’m happy I’m finally settling down and starting to make moves in the right direction again. I was so confused and stressed about what path I would take for almost half of the year. I’m excited to take those baby steps to start. And hopefully, I can stop and smell the roses with this journey because I feel like I always forget to do that. I’m always overthinking, stressed, or worrying about something. It’s nice to finally be in a spot in life where I can take a step back and realize life is pretty great right now.

At the start of 2020, I had completely different goals. Now, towards the end of 2020 (holy shit, I can’t believ it’s almost the end of 2020) I have a completely different vision of what I want to do. I feel so much more content with my decisions, when not too long ago I would’ve reacted the exact opposite and stress. I’ve said time and time again that I believe what’s meant for me will happen in due time. For once, I’m excited to start my passion projects, not scared. I’ve been talking about them for so long, it’s time I stop talking and start doing. I will really look back and see 2020 as the year I got the ball rolling. I’m content in knowing I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be right now.

In 2 Weeks’ Time

One thing we can all agree on: 2020 is a year we will all remember. This year has brought so much chaos, pain, confusion, and a lot of change. From the COVID-19 pandemic, to Sheltering in Place, to police brutality, to protests, to wearing masks on a daily, to shutting down (again), to California fires, to COVID-19’s 2nd wave, to highly favored celebrities passing away, and all the above. Whatever plans we had for 2020 clearly changed when all this went down. I had to learn to be adaptable, to pivot, to not cling to any specific plan because I knew with the pandemic’s end nowhere in sight, everything is unpredictable. Sheltering in place from mid-March until the end of May really had me living day by day, having no idea what would happen in the next month, or even the next day.

Sheltering in place and 2020 in general has also brought a lot of change for my best friend group and I. I feel like in one way or another, everyone is walking out of 2020 a completely different person. There is so much change that has happened / will happen in the next couple of months. But let me rewind it back, before decisions were made and tears were shed. In blog post #32: “Time,” I ended the post by saying I could feel change coming soon. That was towards the end of February. I felt change coming just over the horizon. Something in my gut was telling me things were about to shift, and I couldn’t have been more right.

Sheltering in Place was something so new to all of us. Do we have enough food? How long are we supposed to do this for? What’s the plan after? Should we stock up on everything? Is everything shutting down? So we can’t hangout with other people? When can I leave the house? Here we are about 6 months later, and the policies and regulations are not going anywhere. Nobody thought it would last this long. The first 3 weeks of official shutdown was the hardest for me. It’s like I was relieved I got to chill and relax, but I was concerned about the state of the world. I had no idea how long this would last or when the next time I could see my friends. After all, what’s 3 weeks off when you can’t go anywhere or see / hangout with people you want to? It’s one thing to be a homebody and be antisocial from time to time, maybe even all the time, but it’s another thing when you are being told you can’t leave.

My friends and I tried to cope by downloading apps like Houseparty and Zoom. We really tried our best to set up meetings so we could catch up and check up on each other. We wanted to make sure that we were all there for each other – whether that be to talk about personal issues, anxieties, or just to keep each other company during these confusing and lonely times. At first, it was all about Houseparty and playing games. It gave us something to do and something to look forward to. Especially since with time, sheltering in place made every day look exactly the same. We would set up little game nights or Zoom calls.

In the beginning, it was literally all fun and games. Until, Cam and I had suddenly had decisions to make. And when I mean “suddenly” I mean for real suddenly, all this shit came out of nowhere. For me, an opportunity came up where I could move out of my family home without worrying about any added responsibilities but still gaining some independence. It would also be an opportunity for me and Christian to take the next step in our relationship. For Cam, she had just taken a pregnancy test, and it was positive. We have joked for years that Cam would be the first in the group to have a baby, and finally, our predictions were true. Cam and I were both at a crossroad.

For most people, my predicament wouldn’t even be a tough decision. But for me, I was scared. For one, in the Filipino culture, it is frowned upon to live with your significant other before marriage. But I have always told myself I would never marry someone without living with them first. This decision really brought to my attention how scared I am of change and how I fear commitment. Which is ironic, because I have always been very traditional, in the sense that I wanted to graduate college, get a job in my field, get married, and have a family. But here I was, in the middle of a pandemic, not where I want to be in my writing career, not even knowing when I would have the opportunity to even get a job in the journalism field.

On top of that, I had a time limit to make up my mind whether I would take the once in a lifetime housing opportunity or not. The feelings of being overwhelmed took over me. This would be a great little baby step in figuring out if marriage was in our cards, especially since we have been together for over 5 years. Not to mention a great opportunity for our future together. But I was scared. I would be the first in my family to move out and change the status quo. I wasn’t feeling confident in my choices – if I said no, I’d regret it for the rest of my life, but if I said yes, what if it doesn’t work out the way I planned? I was also scared shitless to bring it up to my parents. How would they react? I desperately wanted their support, but couldn’t get the right words out of my mouth to sell it to them.

Meanwhile, Cam and Mark were having similar issues. Were they ready for this responsibility? Cam had just graduated from SFSU, earning her degree, so technically she was at an okay stage in her life. But was she ready for this? Mark is in the thick of starting his business and working on getting known and having connections. Would a baby put those dreams on hold? Everything was up in the air. And Cam and Mark really had to weigh out their pros and cons, for this was a big decision – bringing another life into the world. Having a baby meant that their days of focusing on just themselves and their relationship would be a thing of the past. Were they ready to take the next step in their relationship?

The girls and I had our Zoom call. Up until this point, conversations about both of these topics were either through group chat or on the phone. It felt good to see each others’ faces and hear advice and feedback. On my end, there was a lot of venting, going back and forth on why I was conflicted on making a decision. I did a lot of ugly crying, snot dripping, and heart pouring that night. By the end of my rant, I was leaning towards no. I wasn’t ready to leave my family home, this isn’t how I pictured moving out to be. I felt under pressure. This time frame wasn’t enough time to decide a life changing event. So, my answer would be no. And whatever happens from my decision being no is just how it was meant to be. I was exhausted. My friends supported whatever decision I chose, but they did give their 2 cents on why it’s a great opportunity. I heard what they had to say, but dismissed it. I was too scared. I’d never grow the courage in time to do it and follow through. I knew it would put a huge strain on my relationship, but at this point, I didn’t care and if things were to fall apart, “it just wasn’t meant to be.”

I calmed down, wiped those tears away, and after about 45 minutes of my friends just watching and hearing me cry and vent, we moved on to Cam’s situation. Cam was the opposite of me. She was level-headed, calm, and didn’t seem too conflicted. Which was so surprising to me, because my situation was nothing compared to hers. She caught us up on her and Mark’s train of thought. They weren’t ready. They still wanted to do things like travel, get the business on its feet, get a better job in her field, etc. Now would not be the best time to have a baby. Cam said they were leaning towards no. There was a silence in the chat. We supported our best friend in whatever she wanted to choose. It’s her body and her life. But I will say it was so obvious that all of us hoped she would keep the baby. We would always talk about how we wish someone in our group would have a baby so we all can spoil it. We were happy and shocked when she told us her test was positive.

We hoped she would keep it, but we knew that we wouldn’t be living the reality of caring for a child. It would be her reality. It would be Mark’s reality. Only they knew if they were ready or not. And we fully supported our friends in whatever decision they chose. It wasn’t an easy decision, but it looked like she made up her mind. She explained that she planned to make an appointment to terminate the pregnancy. We gave our words of support. It just wasn’t in the cards for them right now. The “MotherFlickers” would have to wait a little while longer for a baby to enter into our friend group.

After a couple of hours on Zoom, we finally called it a night and hung up. Damn. Here I was, feeling like my world has been turned upside down not knowing how it could effect my relationship and my family relationship. I was stressed out. I would wake up everyday, and it would be the first thing I think about. It was all too much. I didn’t want to overthink anymore. But I had to make a decision. This wasn’t in my plan. My plan for 2020 was to find a journalism job, and now, with the pandemic and this new offer on the table, I didn’t know what my plan was anymore. It also made me reflect on why I was so afraid.

I was scared to fail. I was scared of wasting time. I was scared of what extended family would say. I was scared to make a move. And by being so scared, I was making no moves. And that probably is what scared me the most. I desperately tried to cling onto how things have been. But nothing lasts forever. I had planned to maybe move out at 26 and get a place with Christian. But this offer that was right infront of me was once in a lifetime, and put us both in a position where we could save up for our future, live in the most expensive city in the country and still be a 20 minute drive from my family, and not to mention test out the waters in our relationship. What was I waiting for?

I began to realize my fear of commitment. The girl who has talked about marriage since forever, now found herself scared to even take the first step. It’s one thing to talk about the future when you know it’s a few years away. But it’s another thing when you realize, holy shit, the time is now. Suddenly, I didn’t know what to do. Moving in meant that people would expect us to get married ASAP. Was I ready for that? I had to talk myself out of that mindset. I had to remind myself that I was 25, the time is now. Living together will reveal if marriage is the next move. But I’ll never know until I try. I was also worried because if I took the offer, I would be commiting to atleast 2 years in the living situation. What would that mean for journalism? Does that mean that I put my writing dreams on hold for another 2 years? No. It means I should pivote. And I thought up a whole other plan that I can stick to while working as a teacher, but still feel fulfilled as a writer.

If you’re wondering how conflicted and stressed I was, please refer back to Blog Post #41 : “I Saw The Sign.” I wrote that blog post while I was in the thick of my confusion. Knowing the back story now, I’m sure that post will make a lot more sense to my readers. But suddenly, I felt my perspective changing. Who cares if it’s not exactly what I planned? This living situation is even better than my original plan to move out by 26 and get an apartment. I had to force myself to come to terms with the fact that not everything is going to be how I exactly envisioned it. It’s okay to change the plan. It’s okay to switch up the status quo. It’s okay to take a risk. It’s okay if there is no sign, because not everything will.

Meanwhile, Cam called the hospital line to schedule her “appointment.” She talked with an advice nurse who was being very supportive. The nurse asked some questions about if this was a decision Cam was making for herself. She was right about to finalize making the appointment and getting the date and time, but then… she hung up. Suddenly she had a change of heart, and she didn’t want to make any sudden decisions without thoroughly thinking it through.

Was she ready to be a mother and take on that responsibility? On the Zoom call, she told us that her decision was 60 / 40, in favor of terminating the pregnancy. But then she thought of what were the real reasons why she didn’t believe she was ready. She weighed out her pros and cons. Cam knew she was in a position where she could care for a child. She just graduated, she had a stable job, she knew her family is the type to be supportive. But she didn’t know if her and Mark were ready to be parents. Sometimes you don’t know you’re ready until you put yourself in that position.

We scheduled another Zoom meeting – two weeks after our last one. Everyone entered the room and we greeted each other. I broke the news to my girls that I have decided to accept the housing offer. They were shocked but supportive. I honestly shocked myself, because I didn’t think I had the guts to make a decision like that. My friends told me how excited they were for me, but they could see it in my face that I was still a little iffy about my decision. They reassured me that they would always be there, and if things don’t turn out the way I had hoped, it’s okay and it’s just something I had to experience so I wouldn’t regret not taking the offer. I knew they were right. They started to get excited about my place being the new hangout spot, and it made me excited as well. This was going to be a new chapter in my life.

Then it went quiet. “What about you, Cam? How are you?” Suddenly it got serious. Since our last Zoom call, we knew that Cam was scheduling an appointment to terminate the pregnancy. We didn’t know if she had already went through or if it was scheduled. She was very adamant in the last call that it was something she knew she had to do. We asked and tried not to sound sad. Then she broke the news to us.

“So…… we actually decided that we’re going to keep it.”

Everyone’s jaws hit the floor. Everyone covered their mouths in pure shock. Silence. We internalized what was just said, and the silence turned to screaming. NO. WAY. We couldn’t believe it. We all screamed and rejoiced, we were so excited that we were going to have a little one in our group!!!! This was the best news. Of course we would’ve supported our girl either way, but especially the last 2 years, Justine and I in particular, have been itching for one of the MotherFlickers to have a baby that we can spoil. The cover photo is a screenshot I took of our reaction to Cam’s news.

It’s crazy to me that in just 2 weeks’ time, Cam and I made such life changing decisions. It’s even crazier because we had originally said we weren’t going to go through with it at all. And in just 2 weeks, we decided to do something completely different. We were both scared, unsure, and doubting ourselves. We were scared of change and the unknown. But sometimes you don’t know if you’re “ready” for that change, until you actually put yourself in that situation.

2020 brought a lot of change. And things are going to continue to change a lot in our friend group in the next couple of months. I’m so happy that I have the support of my girls to vent to, to share my worries to, to go through life with. The day we have all been talking about is finally upon us. For years we have talked about how we’re going to start adulting and before we know it, we’re gonna have whole ass families and completely different lives. That time is now. And I’m so incredibly excited and giddy for what’s to come. I feel like we all evolved, and broke out of our shells. Change makes you mad uncomfortable, but that’s how you know it’s time. When you realize you’re scared to take the chance, but at the same time you’re also scared to stay in the same position, that’s how you’ll know.

The girl that has feared and avoided change for so long has finally embraced it. And by January 2021, she will have a Godson to share new memories with. In 2 weeks’ time, Cam and I shifted the direction of our lives. And I can’t wait for what life has in store for me and my girls.

It’s Okay to Change Your Mind

We live in the age of information. With the plethora of information and sources out there, it’s almost inexcusable to not look into things deeper. Especially with the current political climate and election day roaming around the corner, people are becoming more aware of the importance of voting. Where does our tax dollars go? What are we funding? How can we make change? How can I do my part in this all?

But we all know how life goes, people get busy, we get caught up in work, and sometimes we don’t make the time to dig deeper and do research. We get to pick and choose who we follow and what kind of content we get to see. That’s a blessing and a curse all at once. We get to filter and sift through all the things we don’t want to see. On my Instagram feed I’ll never find someone or a company trying to profit off of my insecurities, I’ll never see Trump-supporting content, I’ll never read racist commentary, I’ll never see anti-gay, anti-fat, anti-feminist content, I’ll never see any of that. Because I’ve tailored my Instagram to show me things I believe in, and filtered out the things I don’t want to see.

But what if someone is on the wrong side of thinking? It used to be “agree to disagree” and “everyone has a different opinion,” but now with everything going on, I really feel like there’s no going back to those ignorant days. And I don’t want to be a “my opinion is the right opinion” kind of bitch, but when it comes down to what is taking place right now, with Trump in office and all the havoc and pain he’s caused this nation in just under 4 years, it does boil down to “right and wrong” opinions.

We all knew from the get what kind of guy Trump was before he was elected into office. But after all this, after almost 4 years of presidency, whoever is still “Trump 2020”-ing, all I have to say is what the fuck?! Like genuine confusion. But I have to realize that there really are people out there that think like him, hate like him, and want him for president again. And sometimes I stop and wonder if they’re actually all for him, or if they’re too embarrassed to say he is wrong. And in turn, that they were wrong in wanting him as president. That, or they’re too set in their ways of thinking to ever see past their own views.

When new information is presented on a topic, situation, person, and it proves your previous beliefs to be wrong, it is okay to change your mind! There’s nothing wrong about changing your mind. There’s nothing wrong with getting more information and facts. There’s nothing wrong about being proven wrong. It’s time we normalize changing our minds and learning more information. But most importantly, taking accountability and admitting that your actions and beliefs may have been damaging and hurtful to others.

If you refuse to open your mind to new information, you’re not learning or growing. You’re depriving yourself from making a decision for yourself. And ultimately, you just follow whatever you’re accustomed to. And that’s dangerous when it comes to passing down beliefs from generation to generation. That’s why we still have racists, homophobics, and cult religious people who don’t practice what they preach.

It’s honestly terrifying to see all these people that hide behind religion be the biggest Trump supporters. It makes no sense to me. These are the same kind of people that condemn George Floyd and his past. The same kid of people that say the media is turning Floyd into a “martyr” and we all shouldn’t mourn his death because of his track record. The same kind of people that are justifying an unjust murder. The same kind of people that will back up murderers to the grave before they admit that a black man was wrongfully killed. The same kind of people that care more about animal rights than human rights. The same kind of people that talk down on peaceful protesters and say they are “thugs” and disturbing the peace but they can’t even wear a mask at a grocery store. It’s people that think like this that will pass down their beliefs to their children.

And unfortunately, sometimes these people never see why their views and microagressions are harmful. They have that privilege to not have to do the research because the results don’t affect them directly. And that’s wrong. You can’t force people to care about the well-being of someone other than themselves. You can’t force someone to want to change their view. You can just hope that some realize their privilege and try to educate themselves.

Admitting that you didn’t have all the information and your views may have been one sided, is the ultimate redemption. Just acknowledging how your actions and beliefs were hurtful and making an active change to educate yourself, people like you, and those around you will make change.

Where people fall short in this is when they realize they are “wrong” but have too much pride to admit it. Some even go the extra mile and obnoxiously rep their wrong views even harder because they have the mentality of “well, no going back now.” Everyone just wants to be right, but it’s okay to say you were wrong, that you didn’t have all the information, that you educated yourself and came to a different conclusion.

It makes me think of all the statues that are being taken down by protesters. As they should be, since they are statues of racists. But all these people that are tripping out about these statues being taken down….. I genuinely sit here thinking “why?!” Like why are you so pressed? The removal of a statue of a person who owned slaves is bothering you because? ….. Because your history books told you otherwise? Because we’ve been taught a sugar-coated version of American history? Because you’re realizing that a great majority of those who have things and places named after them weren’t that great? Because you’re too set in your narrow-minded thinking that you can’t fathom the true facts to be real? Or because you refuse to look at the facts?

Normalize changing your opinion when presented with new facts and information. It doesn’t make you look bad or uneducated. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. Nobody comes out of the womb knowing everything and anything. We need to take accountability and educate ourselves. Be open to look and critique information on your own. Not just being force fed beliefs that you are accustomed to.

Filipinx For Black Lives

Illustration by: Marielle Cabillo

In the last week and a half, my social media platforms have been flooded by opinions, video footage, and information about the BLM movement. Everyone is getting vocal. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone is posting non-stop. The problem is, everyone thinks their opinion is the right one. Some are willing to hear the opposing side, some are agreeing to disagree, some don’t want to hear it at all.

This whole week my group chats and messages have been blowing up. It seems like everyday, I’m hearing the story about another friend of mine confronting an undercover racist relative or friend on social media / text message. Everyone is fed up. People are done ignoring content on their timeline and just scrolling past because they don’t want to start beef. Nope, those days are gone. Silence has gotten us to this point. As a country, we’re realizing that staying silent isn’t the way. We’re realizing that ignoring undercover racists is doing a lot more damage than we think.

All these killings, protests, video evidence of police brutality are giving people the courage to finally speak up to those they call family or social media friend. I know it’s very tough, but the uncomfortable conversations need to take place. It starts in your household and those around you. That’s how we make change, by keeping the conversation going to educate ourselves, the people around us, who we raise, and who raised us.

I know confronting older family members or acquaintences you know on social media can be difficult for some. We all know that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, so I understand why some people feel on the fence about confronting someone so directly – whether that be commenting on their post, texting, calling, or in person. But the death of George Floyd has really forced everyone to look at the people around them and decide whether they want to tolerate and allow people with differing views to stay in their lives. It sounds a bit dramatic to cut someone off for having a different opinion, but when that opinion is about racism and in turn denies / undermines certain groups of people, we have to really evaluate who we choose to surround ourselves with. And in order to make that decision, the conversations needs to be had with friends and family.

Being from the Bay Area where the Filipino community is very big, it gives me a sense of pride when I see “Filipinx for Black Lives” signs at protests. And I know for a fact that a lot of Filipinx kids are trying to educate their elders and those around them on the Black Lives Matter movement. And this is not something that’s easily done, especially in the Filipino culture. There is a generational divide between first generation Filipinx Americans and their elders. Especially being born and raised in the Bay Area, we are fortunate enough to be surrounded by a diverse community, people from all backgrounds and cultures. We grew up in an environment that allowed us to think freely, accept people’s differences, grow up with friends of different cultures, and live completely different lives than our ancestors.

We literally come from two different worlds. Generally speaking, traditional Filipinx born and raised in the Philippines are pretty conservative. This is where the generations seem to clash. Speaking against a Filipinx elder is seen as complete disrespect. Especially if it isn’t your parents you’re disagreeing with. It casts a bad name on your parents and it takes “who raised you?” to another level. For that reason, many Filipinx children find it hard to oppose their elders and their views. So the cycle continues for Filipinx American children: fighting the urge to speak out, avoiding conflict by ignoring ignorant comments, minding their business because they’re not in the conversation even though they’re ear hustling. Because we know, either from experience or how we were raised, that you should always respect your elders, and sometimes that means never speaking out of turn.

“If you don’t agree with what they’re saying, or maybe what they’re saying is wrong, it’s okay. Just ignore.”

We’ve been taught to ignore. Ignore the ignorance. Ignore the racist views. Ignore out of pocket and unacceptable comments. And if you speak out, you are shamed and seen as disrespectful. It’s a toxic cycle, because it punishes Filipinx Americans for speaking up and having an opinion. We are taught to comply and if you disagree, disagree silently. We are taught that your age is the deciding factor on if your opinion is valid or not. And in turn, basically saying respect comes with age and not earned.

This is the dynamic in a lot of Filipino families. But people shouldn’t get a pass to be racist because they’re older. This closes the door for open conversation and for education to take place. Sometimes conversations aren’t even started because you get the sense that some of these elders are already set in their ways of thinking, and no amount of facts, stats, or common sense can change their minds. So instead, some stay silent because what’s the point of stirring the pot if nobody’s gonna eat it anyways?

The truth is, if you confront an elder Filipinx relative or friend for being racist, they will deny it with all of their being. They are completely oblivious to how their comments, views, and microagressions hurt other people. And when someone responds on the defensive when confronted, it’ll feel like the conversation is going in circles. You can’t force someone to hear you out. Successful conversations only take place when both parties are willing to be open minded. When confronting someone about being racist towards the black community, they may use the excuse that they aren’t racist because they don’t use the “N” word. But there are so many other ways where racism can take root.

And it all stems from self-hate and fear. And that self-hate and fear has been passed down through generations through microagressions. Some traditional conservative Filipinx elders will swear on their graves that they aren’t racist, but when some really stop to think what they were taught when they were younger, there’s no hiding the fact that a lot of what we learned is racist and damaging.

Who you choose as a partner is a big deal in the Filipino culture. I’m pretty sure it’s a big deal in every culture as well, but I can only speak from my own culture. We are taught to look for a successful partner, of the same race preferably so there are cultural similarities, but if not, you better make sure they’re light skinned and rich. Bringing home an African American partner is frowned upon, while bringing home a Caucasian partner is seen as a victory. If your African American partner is successful and making good money, they get less shade points, but you’ll still get the side eye and be the talk of the party behind your back. If you bring home a Caucasian partner, they will be more accepted, and you’ll get looks of approval. A silent “good job” head nod will go around from aunt to uncle. In fact, your relatives will start to awe and woo over your future light skinned children who will *fingers crossed* inherit the “good features” of being white. Also known as, they pray your kid won’t have a Filipino nose.

And that’s an ongoing theme in the Filipino culture. They are so blatantly ashamed of their dark complexion and Filipino features. They have adopted the notion that darker skin is ugly and unwanted, and everyone should strive to be lighter. Lightening soaps and other products are so heavily advertised around the Philippines. They have celebrities swearing by these products, they have doctors on commercials, they have little Filipinx brown kids hating their skin. We are taught from a young age that being dark is something to be ashamed of, it’s something that needs to be “fixed,” while being lighter is the “goal.” But it doesn’t stop at wanting lighter skin. No, this goes deeper than the outside appearance.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my people and I’m proud to be Filipino, don’t get it twisted. I just know that we as a community and as a people are not perfect. There are toxic behaviors and ideals that should not be circulating around anymore. It’s 2020. It’s time to do better, act better, and be better. That being said, a lot of the conservative Filipinx elders try to do just that, in terms of being a model citizen. We as a people work hard, we push ourselves, we try to abide by the rules. Some serve in the military, some go into the police force, some take the route of civil servant. And unfortunately, some believe that their time being served will get them the same perks and treatment as white people. They try their hardest to be model citizens and get the approval of the white man. But the truth is, as a Filipinx in America, you can try as hard as you want to adopt the American culture, try to get their features, act like them, lighten your skin, forget where you came from, but you will never have the same privilege as a white person. We will never be on the same playing field because we are a minority.

We have more in common with our Black and Brown brothers and sisters who are also fighting to be seen as equals. We are all on the same boat, even though some people don’t want to acknowledge it. Instead of tearing our brothers and sisters down, we should link up and put up a united front. Because we are all fighting the same battle. Some groups have it way worse than others, but it is up to us to stand up to the oppressors.

There are some people that genuinely believe that everyone has an equal chance of making it, and that the playing fields are even regardless of your economic background and race. The argument of “if they are not successful, it’s because they chose that life.” Which is somewhat true, but only to an extent. The playing fields are not even, and a lot of systems for people of color, especially black people, is set up so they can fail. And if you can’t see that through which neighborhoods get good school funding, what foods are offered to those who are on a budget, the stats of those incarcerated, I don’t know what to tell you.

Some will argue that this is more of a reason for minorities, especially black people, to work 10 times harder. But the point is, why should they have to work 10 times harder just to make the playing fields even? It shouldn’t be like that. Unfortunately, this is the reality for so many people. It is in our Filipinx privilege that we are not the main targets of oppression and police brutality. However, please don’t get blindsided and think that you are the exception to the rule. You are still a person of color.

I believe a lot of the Filipinx elders are opposed to the idea of standing with the BLM movement because they are misunderstanding what it stands for. So let me make this clear : standing for the BLM movement doesn’t mean you condone looting, it doesn’t mean all cops are bad, and it doesn’t mean that only black lives matter. The older Filpinx mindset is to believe that all the rioters and looters are a part of the protests. I’ve seen some referring to the protesters as “animals,” “barbaric,” and “thugs.” Please, please, please remember your history, and know that these are loaded terms. Never forget that Filipinos were showcased in Zoos for the amusement of others, to show and “prove” that we were barbaric and animalistic. How Americans view Filipinx people has changed and we have came a long way since the 1900’s. But it is time for us to stand in unison with our black brothers and sisters who are still having those labels attached to them to this day.

It is time for Filipinx people to stand and support black lives like they support black culture. For all the undercover racist Filipinx people who take part in these dance challenges to songs by black people, to those who cheer on black people but only when they’re winning your city a championship, to those who try to adopt the fashion, style, and slang, this is a message for you. You can’t love black culture only when it’s convenient for you. You can’t love what black people produce talent wise but leave them hanging when it comes to their rights and lives. You can’t chant “all lives matter” when you know you’re turning a blind eye to black people and their struggle.

Black people are dying every day from police brutality, and we are refusing to let this go on any further. The truth is, a lot of people are pressed about well known businesses burning down, churches, flags, etc. Things that are easily replaceable and essentially mean nothing. The fact that people care more about burning goods than black people’s lives is beyond me. You’re more pressed about people burning flags? Flags that were never meant for them, representing a nation that was never meant for them to be included in, a land they built for free and still get treated like second class citizens? But seeing black and brown people dying, being mistreated, arrested, maced, beaten, etc, is so common to you that you’re basically used to it? It’s truly a shame.

It’s time to have the uncomfortable conversations with family and internet friends. Silence is letting hate breed, especially if you have black people in your own family. Im proud of my Filipinx brothers and sisters who are speaking out against those closest to them, even if it’s difficult. Even if you’re seen as rude, disrespectful, abnoxious.

The generational gap is something we’ve struggled with. But times are different. Our generation are allies to the Black Lives Matter movement and the black community. We are no longer staying silent to appease those who can’t see the bigger picture. Try your best to educate those who are too set in their ways of thinking.

Filipinx for black lives. We stand with you, we see you, we understand your frustration, and we’re here to break the chain of racism you might’ve felt from our community. It’s truly beautiful to see so many people of different backgrounds get together to fight for what is long overdue. So many people are breaking the chain of ignorance, unlearning racist ideals that they grew up on, and educating those around them. But it all starts with breaking the silence.

Shelter in Place Diaries – Serge : Positive High System

California is just a little over 4 weeks into Shelter in Place. Originally, the plan was to shutdown for 3 weeks and hopefully arrive back to work with our usual routines at the end of March / early April. As the days went on, America soon realized that things were definitely not going to be back to normal in 3 weeks time. Even after things open up again, we as a society will slowly ease back into life before COVID-19, but with plenty of restrictions. Its safe to say that COVID-19 will have permanent effects to how we maneuver on a daily basis.

The 3 week mandatory shutdown was tough on business owners, but especially small business owners. It was hard enough to close for 3 weeks, but the extended Shelter in Place Order is forcing a lot of business owners to change up how they do business. This is especially true for Serge and his fitness business.

Serge is the creator and owner of “Positive High System.” He’s a Fitness Coach, eager to help those who want to improve their way of life through food and movement. He believes his Positive High program could benefit anyone who wants more knowledge and guidance in the fitness world. Before COVID-19, Serge was doing in-person training / group training. That, of course, is not possible anymore with the social distancing and Shelter in Place Orders. His clientele dropped by over 50% since COVID-19. As a small business owner, Serge knew that he would have to switch it up if he wants Positive High System to ride this pandemic wave and make it out in the end.

It is understandable that many business owners are frazzled and anxious about their business and their means of making a living. The unknown is what gets the best of people. Surprisingly, Serge, with his upbeat yet chill attitude, has decided to look at the bright side of this pandemic. It was already in his plans to open up the virtual / online component of training for Positive High. Online sessions were going to be Serge’s next business move later on in the year. Even though the timing is different, Serge took this as a message from the universe to act on the idea now. He has no choice but to. Serge has converted all of his in-person training sessions to live personal training classes on Zoom.

“Life is good,” he said on his vlog as he ended a workday early.

Serge is looking on the bright side of this Shelter in Place Order. He loves the fact that he gets to spend more time with his girlfriend and son. He shares that before COVID-19, he would get home around 8 or 9 PM. But now, he ends his day around 7-7:30 PM, and gets to take breaks during the day to do activities with his son, Elijah. Serge is a very active father, and the Shelter in Place is bringing him and his family closer. He’s finding time to reconnect with family through gaming apps, still running his business, spending more time with family, and doing more hobbies and activities with no time crunch.

As if he wasn’t already making the most of his time, Serge puts his phone on “airplane mode” by 7:30 PM to be more present with his family. Instead of looking at what could go wrong, Serge is deciding to take the less traveled route – taking it day by day, adjusting if need be, and not worrying about the unknown.

Serge launched his new Positive High System app that helps it’s users log their food and beverage intake, exercise, goals, accomplishments, etc. What is unique about this app is Serge is just a message away if you need encouragement or help. There is also a video section of workouts you could do at home. Serge stresses that the point of logging food is not be obsessive, to calorie count, or make drastic changes – but to be aware of what you’re doing – eating wise and exercise wise. By being aware, you’re in a better position to see what it is that you can tweak to benefit your health if that is your goal. Saying Serge has gracefully transitioned during this pandemic is an understatement!

Check out “Shelter in Place Diaries – Serge : Positive High System” by clicking:

Time

It’s Sunday, my family and I just got back from a late lunch to celebrate my mom’s birthday. Tomorrow work will start up again, but most importantly, Monday is blog post day. Truth is, I ain’t got shit. I pulled my writing deck of cards and I went into Merl’s room.

“Pick my blog post,” I said and spread out the deck. This deck has definitely come in handy. I usually try not to rely on it and draw writing inspiration through my experiences, but when I’ve had a heavy week and my brain is tired, the last thing I want to do is force some inspiration when it just isn’t there. She drew a card.

“What don’t you have enough time to do? Why?”

We both read the card silently, processing the prompt.

“To write this blog post,” she said. We both started laughing, but she was right.

Recently, I find myself thinking and saying out loud, “there’s just not enough hours in the day.” And then I quickly realize just by saying that cliché sentence that, 1. That statement proves that I’m getting old, and 2. I have entered adulthood.

But it’s true. I find myself spreading myself thin. There’s so many things I want to do, so many local places I want to go to, so many ideas I want to make come to life… and then, it’s 5 PM, I take the commute back home, and I just want to go to sleep.

I love to sleep. I can sleep any time, anywhere, and everywhere. Sleeping is my favorite pastime. But I realized long ago that sleeping is my escape. Stressed out? Sleep. Sad? Sleep. Happy? Sleep. Angry? Sleep. The feeling of going to sleep is so calming. No matter what I’m going through, good or bad, losing myself in my REM sleep is comforting. Knowing that for a short time I get to escape my reality, and my mind is resting and not over thinking every little detail of my life. You know that feeling when you’ve had a good sleep or nap, you wake up, and in those first couple of seconds waking up you’re there thinking, “Where am I? What time is it? What day is it today?” I love that feeling of being well-rested, which is probably why I try to sleep every opportunity I can.

But I’m a sleepy girl because I’m a busy girl. I don’t know when it happened, but all of a sudden I only have pockets of time for X amount of things. And I feel myself spreading myself thin with work, a social life, trying to keep the dream alive of becoming a writer, trying to take those steps to getting my foot in the door, planning the next steps in my romantic life, keeping up with friends, all the while trying to save my money. I find myself lost in the chaos of everyday life.

And even though I find myself always trying to catch up on sleep, sometimes I feel like I’m wasting my life away. But how can I do things I enjoy when I’m so burnt out? I sleep to escape the uncertainty of my life. I’m a dreamer in every aspect. I dream big, I have bigger plans, I want to achieve greatness.

I feel like there are a lot of people like me. That feel like somehow, some day, one day, they’ll achieve their dreams. But then I think of my current situation. Where I feel like I’m stuck, and I don’t know what path to take. So in the meantime, I hustle and I do what I got to do before I figure it out. But ironically, “doing what I got to do before I figure it out,” is probably what’s in the way of me “figuring it out.” There’s not enough hours in the day. I’m too busy that I can’t even think of a “plan” to follow. And then I realize, that’s how people get stuck. That’s how people lose the drive to achieve their dreams – getting stuck in the same routine and being too tired and burnt out to do anything about it. Note to self : stop putting off thinking of a plan. Make time even if there’s not enough time.

I love spending time with my friends. When I’m feeling off, or isolate myself for too long, I know hanging out with them will make my heart full. Except, we’re getting older. We all have responsibilities and different schedules, and we all can’t just hangout like we used to. Everything needs planning out. Every hangout planned out atleast a week or 2 in advance, and even then everyone may not even be free. Sometimes we don’t have enough time. But I’ve learned to make time, especially with hanging out with my friends. Truth is, we’re not always going to be in the same area. One day, living so close to each other will be a thing of the past and we’ll look back and wish we made more time.

Anyways, my point is, I don’t have time to do anything, but at the same time I have all the time in the world. It’s so hard to pick and choose what gets your time and what doesn’t outside of work. And when things I enjoy don’t get enough time, I find myself in a funk. Questioning wtf I’m doing with my life and where my time goes.

Self care. You see that shit plastered all over. This can mean doing a face mask, taking a bubble bath, doing a skin care routine, or watching your favorite show. It’s different for everyone. I’ve realized self care is really important. Carving out that “me” time is really vital when you feel like you’re going through life in a daze. My “me” time is this blog. Even though its stressful to produce something every week, it keeps me on my toes. It forces me to do something I love on a deadline, so I’m forced to take that me time, not just sleep.

For me, going home right after work and sleeping is “me time.” And sometimes having no plans is the best plan. And then there are other times where having a hangout is fulfilling to my soul. I’ve found myself not having time to do things I love. And the first step is to be aware that this is happening. A change in routine is always good, especially when you feel like your days are on repeat. But I can’t just wait for everything to fall into place on it’s own. I need to take the time and make the time to get shit done.

You know that feeling where you can feel it in your soul that there is about to be change real soon? My gut feeling is telling me change is just over the horizon. I don’t know what, but I feel it. Call me crazy. But cue in J.Cole’s , 🎵 “My intuition is telling me there’ll be better days…” 🎵