40

Heart pounding, hands sweating, feet’s clammy and tummy funny…. Woah! I am fourty (40) today, for real. So, I’m gonna write a looong status message here in my wall since it’s only once I’m turning the big four O and if you have clicked the continue reading button you’re now morally obliged to finish reading my blessings ‘coz I’m counting them one by one. Seriously. And you had better leave a message on the comment section so I know you’ve done what I asked you for… it’s the least you can do. I haven’t gotten a birthday present from you? So humour me. I love you.

I could’ve made this my speech project for my Toastmasters International, you know one less speech to go towards my competent communicator title. Ha! Mem Che Agot would be very happy with this for sure. Or I could’ve have incorporated this into my table topics and won that coveted stationery paper from Governor Hemady Romarate 🙂 . Indeed, the cliché is true, life begins at 40. Who would’ve thought that I’ll go this far… physically, geographically, and “maritally” speaking. I, myself can’t imagine the things I’ve done for 39 years shaping me into what I am today, (not that I’m super cool or my life is super perfect) and I’m not even finish yet, Oh No people! I am just starting. Like what my late father had said, I’m a slow starter, like a diesel, it takes time to heat me up but once I’m going, oh boy you better get out of the way.

The Lord is good and worthy to be praised. This life has been a very eventful joyride that most of the times I just want to get off the wagon and scream ‘till kingdom come, but He has always sustained me. Giving me the strength when I could no longer take a step. And providing me the courage when my heart would’ve wanted to crawl into a corner and cower.

As the eldest in my family I was raised to be tough and resourceful. I was conceived when my Mama had nothing to eat but dried fish head. My first memory of being a ghetto kid was when I was six (6) years old and Bangbang was four (4), our parents locked us inside the house ‘coz they were going to work and nobody was around to look after us. I got soooo hungry and bored I climbed up the window of our 2 storey house down to the ground (leaving Bangbang behind, ooops) and went picking guavas, star apples, peanuts and sugar cane with Bobong ( a childhood ghetto friend) in the Caraga State University’s (where Mama was the guidance counselour/teacher) forest. The university campus was my playground and main food source. By the time, I was full and about to get an upset stomach, I went back to our lockdown house, and I found Bangbang eating the wood of our bed. True story.

Due to my “resourcefulness” I’ve gotten so big for my age plus with the amount of time I spent gallivanting around dodgy places, I’ve acquired a ‘tough” look that people mistaken as “intelligence” and “leadership” qualities. But, truth be told I’m nothing like that at all! I was just hungry all the time!

My elementary years were a blurry of schools I had seven (7) schools by the time I graduated grade six (6). At the graduation, the teacher felt sorry she awarded me a girl scout of the year and I was not even a girl scout!

High school was different. My life normalized. No more changing schools and I’m beginning to have friends. I was into a lot of school organizations and clubs. The president of this and that, I mean, the only position I hadn’t held was being the muse. Go figure!

Then, four (4) years of living on top of a mountain surrounded with rolling hills and lake. The Muslim call to prayer played several times throughout the day around the Mindanao State University Marawi campus were music to my ears. And taking a bath with just a pail of water by the sink has become an art. The melting pot of the south was a boot camp on life No one gets out (alive) without being changed.

Whew! Law school! This phase in my life was a mess! It messes me up big time… up until now, it hounds me like a serial killer about to cut me anytime if I let my guard down. I think I’m not even through with this sh*te… wherever I go it’s always there. It has become both a sinking ship and a lifebuoy for me. It’s complex.

Then came the years of travelling and going places… My first foreign work place was Zibo, Shandong, Peoples Republic of China. Home of Kong Zi (Confucius). I didn’t speak Chinese, the only ones I knew were from my exposure from Sanchai and Dao Ming Zi’s Meteor garden, and they were not even the proper Putong hua. I arrived at the beginning of winter, and Oh My God it was freaking cold my eye lids had frozen! By the time, I turned 35 I had also visited 35 countries.

Never thought, I could work in a government agency. But when I came home to Butuan from Moscow, Russia, I was given the privilege to work for the Commission On Elections. Election times were challenging to say the least. I have become a whirlwind of personality in every municipality and city I have been assigned to be the Election Officer. My last election was like a torpedo of stray bullets, it was both exhausting and exhilarating! It was only by God’s grace I was able to successfully pull it through.

September 2016, I got married. Who would’ve thought! At 39! I know, right? Now if it’s not a good way to end your 30s I don’t know what is 🙂 . To close this chapter, I’ve met Stan. His perfect for me. He tries to understand my mood swings and put up with my childish ways. He loves me just the way I am, flab and all. He lets me change the channel and watch the shows on TV that I like even though he’s still watching something he has seen 48 times already! He willingly shares to me his stuff though I break them sometimes. He washes my clothes and buys me take out Chinese vegetables. And most of all he voluntarily submits his body to all my loving. Ejejejejeje 😉. I’ve been single my whole life and never learn to share (apart from my family) with the little that I have. It’s always been me first and on how to survive on my own. But this marriage thing is a whole new game and requires an improved version of myself.

Thus I say, goodbye to my 30s and hello to 40! I know it’s going to be a bumpy ride ahead but hey, I always thrive in unstable motions. A new chapter in a new location with some new characters… to be honest, I’m scared as sh*t! Whew! I know what I gotta do though, put my trust in Him that everything will be a’it… enjoy the journey and live the moments. Cheers! Happy birthday to me! Woot woot! #gimmemywine

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Confessions of a former triple X model: Size does matter.

     Ah, ah, ho, ho, heeeng! heeeeng! Woah! Uhhhhhh…. Ladies and gentlemen. I would have loved to make those sounds under different circumstances, like, probably in a private room with dim lights and the person next to me was equally satiated from the exercise. But sadly, such was not the case, because the truth of the matter was those sounds were coming from a former me, a panting triple X, Marks and Spencer size 22 chunk of a girl who’s gasping for air. Mind you, I was just walking on the treadmill for five minutes, 0 incline, and a speed of 4 km/hr. So naturally the person next to my mill thought I was demented and completely hopeless.

     First thing people asked me, especially those who knew me way back were, when did I decide to lose weight? What made me lose weight? Who made me lose weight? Why did I lose weight? And I was like, Me. Me, decided to lose weight for me. It maybe a little late, I could’ve done it sooner, but the thing is, I’ve decided.

     What made me lose weight? That bloody incident with a flight attendant from Cebu Pacific!

     When I was working and travelling abroad, being a triple X model wasn’t a problem, because everybody was bigger than me! I could buy clothes and I could fit comfortably in airplane seats! But when I came home, home being here in the provincial town of Butuan City, nothing fits my huge size except those rags that nobody wanted from the ukay-ukay shop. So, yes, Ladies and gentlemen, size reallllllly matters.

     When I took that Cebu pacific air flight from Butuan to Manila, I was like stuck in my seat, no wiggle room at all; it was like all the spaces were vacuumed by my fats. And the belt buckle won’t reach all the way back to the other end because, my belly was this big, and the belt was like only made for Dilbert Ciano. What the hell! It was so effing embarrassing that they even announced inside the bloody plane, that the flight was a bit delayed because one passenger, namely me, wasn’t wearing the seatbelt and they were still looking for an extension, a yellow rope perhaps, I dunno, I completely space out from this entire event. I wanted to jump off the plane right there and then.

     And so, from a monstrous weight of 110 kilos or 245 pounds, I started to make baby steps on my calorie intake and began to follow some 5 to 10 minutes work out videos in youtube until I reach 92 Kilos and enrolled myself in a gym.

     The gym is like a country of its own. It has its own rules and etiquette. Governed by the elite few and allegedly all sovereignty reside in the people and all government authority emanates from them.

     When you join a gym, you have got to admit that you have a problem, and you are there to do something about it. You are not there to chat, play with your mobile, and take selfies with the leg press machine, look for a bf or sleep on the couch.

     Focus! Work! Sweat! Mind your own business!

    At 92 kilos, I was the biggest at Koko Fitness Center. People would look at me and laugh, which I didn’t give an f.u.c.k. My jiggyly bits would all be jiggling whenever I run or walk fast. My breathing was like an old bulldozer people wouldn’t want to be near me in case I bulldozed them over.

     Along with my enrolment at Koko, I broke up with the ever love of my life, Mr. Rice.

     Mr. Rice was there for me since I was still inside the womb of my mom. He waited for me until I was legal to taste his white and creamy goodness; we’ve been together for ages… I could always count on him when I was happy, sad, excited, and furious. Mr. Rice loved me and held my hand, caressed my face and encouraged me to eat more. We would have endless dates on eat all you can buffet and indulged me in all savoury sweets. He was a perfect lover.

      However, a lifestyle changed caused our rift, he wouldn’t understand that I wanted to live longer, be able to buy clothes in normal people stores, to be able to tie my own shoe laces without displacing my bulging stomach. He refused to understand! In the end, I think we just grew apart and became strangers. He said I’ve changed and he just wanted me no more. I haven’t tasted him for two (2) years. Yes we still see each other from time to time in parties and gatherings but yeah, I remember the boy, but I don’t remember the feelings anymore.

     It was a struggle breaking up with Mr. Rice. There were nights I felt I was being possessed with sooooo much longing and hunger… my stomach would grumble and tumble, like my large intestines were already gnawing my small intestines…and how it could actually ache in places I didn’t know I had inside me. But, just like any other heartbreaks, after all that… as Kate Winslet said in the holiday, you’ll go somewhere new, and you’ll meet other food groups who make you feel worthwhile again, and little pieces of your soul will finally come back. And all that fuzzy stuff, those years of your life that you wasted, that will eventually begin to fade.

     So, how do you exercise without losing your mind?

     Shape up!

     Show up!

     Gear up!

     Let me go back to the first tip. Shape up! You have got to shape your mind set that you are turning a new page of your life. That for once, you are going to do something really worthwhile and you will not stop until you achieve the goal that you wanted to reach. My first tip, is really more about your mental state. Realize that nobody is going to do it for you. Realize that people around you are either too polite or doesn’t give a hoot to say something about your health condition. Realize too, that only you can love yourself the way you wanted to be loved.

     Pound it in your head. Inscribed it in your heart. What can you give when you are empty inside?

     Ladies and gentlemen, I made a decision. It started with me, for years, my parents begged me, begged me! to lose weight, but I didn’t listen. I didn’t see any problem. I was still popular in high school, much more in university. I had a globetrotting job that doesn’t mind my weight, I was fine. Until something snapped in my head and the thought that I was thinking that I thought I was fine could be even finer if I was in a lesser size. It started in my head, and it ended in my head. I have made a decision.

     Second. Show up. Every day is a constant battle. If your mind is the command centre of your struggle, your body is the war zone. Even if the command centre orders you to get up and run, but your body is still languishing in butter heaven, it’s an epic fight. Pray for strength. Go back to your “why” why are you doing what you are doing? Shift your mind from cheesecake wonderland to another humiliating cebu pacific flight seat belt scenario.

     Take baby steps. Move according to your own pace. Be consistent. Have a routine and do it every single day! A 15 minute bending or stretching isn’t too much. Do not be in a hurry! You did not gain all those weight in one day or in a week or in a month! You have accumulated those babies in years! So, do not expect to lose it in one day of zumba class!

     There is already a treadmill in the gym with my name on it. Today I can run on the mill for 90 minutes, 15% incline (the highest). Cardio is the best way to lose weight, but it’s not good to build a muscle, that’s why you have to incline your machine. That way, there is still some resistance in your legs and you burn more calories. Start with a 2 minute walk on a 3% incline and a 2 minute run until your endurance level goes up. Push yourself to do more… there is no effective personal trainer other than yourself.

     Muscle or resistance training is also a good way to lose weight, since it has a post exercise calorie burn… meaning, even if you’re not lifting weights anymore, you are still burning calories.

     Losing weight is hard. Maintaining weight is hard. Being overweight is hard. Choose your hard.

      Lastly, gear up! Do not undervalue the effect of a good workout costume. One of the joys of going to the gym is, you can show off your latest Nike Airmax or Adidas sweatpants. You may not be able to bend yourself like a yogi but at least you’re wearing nobody in that gym can afford.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not such a snobbish bitch that only wears branded sports bra but c’mon, some people just really go there to show off! So, might as well join the fun! Honestly though, even if I wanted to buy my gym thingies in the sidewalk, nothing fits me, so I’m forced to buy in stores nobody wants to shop. Plus, I can’t be looking like a hobo on a rower machine because I am already a hobo on the rower machine.

     What you are wearing has a psychological effect. If you look good, you feel good. And as you show up every day, it will be seen in what you’re wearing, so it encourages you. Day by day, little changes occur and what happens in the inside manifest on the outside.

     But the ultimate tip I can share to you this evening is, for you to be happy no matter which size you are in. There are people in sizes 1, 2 or 3 that aren’t happy, whereas there are women in sizes 10,12 or 14 living fabulous lives. It’s all about accepting who you are. Do not let the world dictate you to be a size 0 because frankly, we can’t be all keepers of victoria’s secrets.

     Size only matters in fitness. Being fit doesn’t mean you should be size 2. The most unfit people I know are sizes in single digits. If you are size 12 and can bench press 50 repetitions in 3 sets, who says you are fat? If you are size 10 but can equally run 10 miles in an hour, who says you are fat?

    Mmmmm…… uh uh… whew! Ladies and Gentlemen.

15 days after…

my bells palsy has calmed down and i can now move the left side of my face. it hasn’t been easy waking up everyday and fearing that nothing changes in the nerve functions of my face. i thank the Lord for sustaining me all throughout, good friends, loving family and top notch medicines to help me recover quickly.

taken yesterday, thank God, it can now slightly go up and down on its own. :)

taken yesterday, thank God, it can now slightly go up and down on its own. 🙂

my smile is still a bit off, but I’m getting there. I’ll be throwing a “smiley” party after all these drama….

smiling is still a bit awkward but it shall get there...

smiling is still a bit awkward but it shall get there…

You have Searched Me and Know Me12Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You. 13For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. 14I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.

 

THE TALE OF KAMANDUAN- A SOUTHERN AGUSAN MANOBO EPIC

this is a story as told by my Lolo (Datu Perez  of Lapaz, Agusan del Sur) to my Mama and to us, her children. a beautiful tale of our ancestry as who we are as people. a story of our tribe.

 Long before the coming of the Spaniards to Mindanao, Agusan Valley was then a vast woodland inhabited by several tribal groups of the Manobos. Different varieties of trees grew in these vast forests such as narra, yakal, bagras, and other big trees now extinct due to illegal logging and mining activities in the area. In the midst of these natural God given bounties is the big River called Agusan. There are many tributaries to this vast water system. From Compostela Valley, the Monkayo River, Wawa River from Bayugan, Simulao River from Loreto and Adgawan River from La Paz all meeting at Sabang Gibong in Talacogon. The water flows down to…

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Mikael Bulgakov

#TheMasterandMargarita

the master & margarita

Mayakovskiy metro. With Vera.

My student Vera (Faith is Vera in Russian) and I went to the Bulgakov’s House and Museum at Dom 10 along Mayakovskiy ulitsa. The excursion is only scheduled at night, maybe to create some drama and special effects to the Bulgakov experience. At the door, we were greeted by a man dressed in a soldier’s uniform that was worn by an official in the 1920’s. He greeted me in English thinking that I was an American, and when Vera said that I was from the Philippines, he said that they never had somebody from the Philippines visited their museum before and it would be nice if I left some notes of my impression in their log book.

Inside the museum were activities of different sort from the books and plays of Bulgakov, it’s a pity that my Russian language ability is soooo bad as to understand…

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