We all have a share of moments in our younger years when someone asked, what do you want to be when you grow up? 

1. My father told me that I could take up journalism so I could end up like those rendering the nightly news. That was how I first heard about the word 'journalism'. Well, it sounded cute and classy. So, I began to be curious about what these people do.  But I marveled the idea of a person reporting in the actual scene. But I realized I did not want to appear in television and perhaps they were just reading.  I began to think who wrote what these people read in front of tv? 

My attention was diverted to newspapers, magazines, books. I began loving the letters and the written word and how they can evoke emotions. And then the most complex part was how they can be part of a broader concept called communication. Ever since, I have always been curious about writing, about communicating, about describing the exact picture, about getting the real emotions. 

Journalism was my first degree, hoping it would give me the tools. I still use them now. I try to update and relearn the techniques as much as there is an opportunity. But I miss writing. I miss immersing myself with words and hoping they can transform others. 

2.  During college, I got to learn of other people- those who have less. I wanted to get to know them better - their issues, the things they struggle, the things they celebrate. It became clear to me that these people - much as they need to improve their conditions - they need to have a voice so they can be heard. I was willing. And so development work has become a promise and I could use sociology as my frame to help make their voice louder and stronger.  

3. Everytime I visited University of the Philippines Los Banos, there was such a sense of myself wanting to work and settle in the place. I learned about the campus during my college years when I habitually visited a friend every time there was a long weekend. The simplicity of the place, the greens. It made me feel secure. I promised to myself someday I would work in this kind of environment. I could become a professor in the university or I can apply for any offices near the area. I remember a job prospect that was almost perfect and I still recall the excitement I felt only to fail me at the end. I still dream of myself in a room with a big window of nice view of trees and greens and me, writing and learning the ways of the world. I dreamt of becoming a scientist in my own little way, in my own little corner in that place. 

Back to present. Do all those dreams get a least a dose of reality? I do not know how to answer, to be fair. At the very least, I can 'rationalize' everything - and I still do write and I am in a development work and yes, a development social scientist is far. So what do I do?  In times when you get mature, and you think about your first loves and haven't really gotten much of it. You begin thinking it's worth the second try. Because

1. I miss writing. I miss development communications. I miss the writing that matters. I miss the kind of writing that pierces hearts. I miss the writing and images that change the way we look at things. I miss people read what I write. I miss writing drafts. I miss the works, the research, the conversations before the writing. The legwork to it. The analysis to it. The plagiarism that you should avoid. Your values and biases that you should recognize before you write. Both the essay and the hard facts. I miss to be read.  I miss the immersion. I miss what I struggle the most. 

2. I miss talking to 'real people'. I miss writing about them. I miss writing about them and their aspirations. I miss observing them and engaging them. I miss 'fighting' for them. I miss hearing their stories. I cannot work in the desk and writing about 'real people'. I just cannot. 

3. And then I miss the idea of little corner. I wonder its endless possibilities. I still believe I can still do it, with a huge amount of preparation and a little luck. I still that in that little corner I will have it someday soon. 
Kailangan ko yata maisulat lang ito para maalis ang sumpa. Marami yata akong mga 'rejection' feels lately.

Kanina lamang. Nag apply ako sa US Embassy. Gusto ko sanang mag moment sa New York. Ayon na rin sa encouragement ng aking bff. 'Life Changing' daw. haha. Sige na nga. Try ko. Bakasyon lang.

Ok na sana kase hindi naman haggard ang pagapply. Pero ewan ko ba kung ano ang nangyari. Confident naman ako. Sa Q& A, sabi ko as tourist. Sabi ko sa New York. Sabi ko I work sa Seoul.
Pero sabi ng immigration officer, as per the reason identified, hindi pa daw sufficient ang stay ko sa Korea to go to US dahil hindi nila maestablish na babalik ako after my travel. Say whut?!

To be fair ang galing niya. Direct to the point yung line of questioning. Hindi biro ang maging immigration officer, I guess. I feel a major reason is my period of residency in Seoul. Dalawang beses siya nagtanong about it. Pati annual salary ko. He encouraged me to apply in the Philippines. So ang siste mag papa appoint pa ako sa Manila just to get a US visa.

Siyempre, I got watered down. It could have been exciting. Sayang yung almost 8k! But I guess my travel to US will be set aside muna unless there is an official business travel.

*****

Three weeks ago, I enroled in what could be my second Korean class. This time, sa isang office sa building namin.  Pretty convenient for me. I submitted my application, applied for lower beginner class, and I had the entrance exam. This was to verify if I can be 'fit' in the lower beginner class or be demoted or promoted. 

The exam was a bit hard, and after a week, I learned I was in the waiting list. It means I have to wait for a person to withdraw the class so I can get in. But it also means I got rejected. Nakita ko yung pangalan ko sa listahan, ako yung pang no. 16! Fifteen (15) ang kinuha. 

For one thing, parang nasira ang schedule ko. It was supposed to be my Saturday afternoon routine at least until October. Given this circumstance, I guess mag self-learn muna ako. Of course there are many classes around the city and some of them are quite pricey. Ito kase at least free and you get to mix with a lot of foreigners din.

But lately, I realized that with my both work and personal schedules, I believe hindi ko din naman siya maeenjoy. There is this rule that I can only be absent thrice in the class and after that they will get my deposit money and probably I may be missing a lot of Saturday classes din because of my weekend schedules (i.e may three weekends in August is full already!) So, personal effort lang muna and immersion sa mga kung saan saan ang peg - just to further familiarize Hangeul.  

*****

Minsan sa buhay buhay, hindi mo maiiwasan ang feeling na feeling mo na out of place ka, na reject ka ng isang grupo, na shut off ka or simply you do not belong with them. I can honestly say hindi nila intention yun or simply the 'leader' of that group must have felt na I can be so busy. So ano ang pinuputok ng bochi ko. I got invited once and I expected to be invited again. You see, this group has its regular monthly lunch out (colleagues including in the other offices too). So when I saw them in the same venue where me na my other colleagues would be taking lunch. Casual lang naman yung encounter. But deep inside me, there is this feeling that I got out of their monthly lunch set up. 

But you know what was sad about it. I felt like I deserved an explanation from them. I felt entitled at some point. This 'pride' chicken, this 'ego'. It was really not about them at all. To be honest, most of their conversations I could not relate. It was about me. And I felt surprised to myself why did I have to feel that way. Somehow, kahit saan mo tingnan, ako yung may mali sa pananaw kong ito. I was childish. I felt I got rejected. Ayoko lang sila makita. All the more that I do not want to be with them at all. 

***

Sana sa mga susunod na araw at buwan, reverse naman ang ganap, di ba? Pero ganoon naman talaga. The most important thing is what you do with it. Mas emotional ako doon sa out of place issue. May the Divine forgive me for being unreasonable. 'Fuck this Feeling' sometimes. Siguro, it is one way of telling me,  grow up. You do not need to look out for them. There are just so many people and things that you begin overlook and they matter more than you know. 


It has been five months after I arrived at your doorstep, you strange big world. You welcomed me with your winter spell.  It was white all around you, the trees bare, and smokes whirl at random, chimney, breaths, cars, dreams perhaps.

You taught me to be brave because there was no one around. I remember one night, a pain in my stomach made me awake all night. I called emergency but you spoke of a weird language. I waited till morning. In all its discomfort, I promised myself to you that I'd be good and would be content for life if the pain could go away. As if I hoped for any magic. It did not go away that night. I waited until morning. The promise still lingers because the pain did disappear. It was a stupid case of winter virus, the doctor said.

In some idle moments, You wonder how on earth did you get here as if you were just transported. It is not humility I guess. Remember, you Competed for this job and you emerged out from the many who desired to get your post. If there is one thing that you should feel is that you should take care of your job. Not only you deserve it but also you knew you fought a hard. So each day, I try myself to be relevant to myself and to my commitment to my job. That is the purpose why I am here, everything else comes secondary.

Reality sinks in.  In my first spring. My boss is below expectation. You suddenly realize you are entering a solitary battle. It was not new to you. You did it before. Many times, you were dreaming of a world to be a better place all by yourself. So before it is too late, change your perspective. It may be a lonely but whatever it's worth and measure, Be kind. 'Act in good faith', my boss told me - the  most sensible advice I have ever received so far in my stay here. 'Act in good faith' and you will never go wrong. Never go wrong in my work and in this city.

With faith, comes the doubt.  The cold concrete absorbs you. And you do not speak its language. You decided you can begin by living each day and marvel. But at night, doubt lingers.

With doubt comes the entitlement. At some point, you  begin to believe that some people owe you. That one person owes you a lot. But you knew it was not right. You begin to search angels in vain. Butlately you realized angels fly. You begin to search for  humans. Humans who can guide you. In random, you act in good faith as you find them one by one. Yes, you continue to find them. Suddenly every weekend, which is supposed to be rest day, is becoming full.

Uncertainty flows but what is certain is the city makes you feel its love, its skin. It reveals before you both the kind and the cold, the kind and the warmth, the transient and the things that stay with you. You can learn. You can unlearn. And everyday, you choose to live.

What have you done to me? I close my eyes. Sometimes, I wish its January 2018, the year my contract ends perhaps start all over again back home and I can't wait. Sometimes, the heart says No.  Start Now, Right Here.



Since I got back from my Manila mission, which is my hometown, where recently I moved heaven and earth to accomodate both my business and personal schedule, my preoccupation back here has been all work.

The work has all been piling up. My boss is not helping to ease the situation. Strangely enough, I cannot even complain. I still can tolerate her. I had been trying to make sense out of this complexity. There is no secret to this. We know the drill. In my case, when faced with such ‘work challenge’, I make a to-do list. It gives me a sense of control. And every time, I cross out all items, I give myself a treat. That is simple and efficient and tried and tested formula.

But the inevitable happens. After a long meeting with my boss late last week, she reminded me of the many things that should be given to her. I just got overwhelmed and despite the many things I had done, and despite the list that I had, I forgot one item. And I never really got what she meant. Then I started to panic. I even submitted a different set of documents. Friday early evening I was still finishing it, we were the only two people in the office. 

She said to me, as cheerful as she could become, that since it’s Friday, she does not want to ruin my Friday night. She can just have the document by Monday first thing in the morning. Instead of responding positively, I told her if I could have a word with her. And then I broke down. To be fair, If I have to rate it, my tears level were just two out of 10. Gentle tears, if that can qualify. Inaalis lang ang eyeshadow.

In essence, I told her I am sorry because I felt I have been at loss lately with all the work piling up.  She was all ears. And I think I never have said the phrase ‘I am so embarrased’ as many times in my entire life since then. I felt I was not diligent enough. I felt like I needed a sense of a new way of organizing. 

Fast forward. It turned out just fine. She listened. She cheered me up. We became a bit personal. She had her issues with the work. 

Now, I am still draining my energy. I felt I needed the whole night of weekend, just wandering somewhere. Facebook and movies do not even help. For one thing, it was a relief that I let it out. I sent over the message. I did not expect my boss to say ‘So, what do you want me to do?’. In fact, we ended our conversation with me clarifying her instructions again and by Monday, I will submit the documents.  

To be fair, I did not tell her that she could be a factor of my panic. Her management style was so decentralized that I will even bet that she can afford not to see me in a year, just give her the output. I realized it was not about her. It was about me. Strange enough, I had not thought of quitting. But again I felt the uncertainty this brings. I felt real about the moment. I needed that moment. So what I can do for now is to take all the lessons learned. 

So what are the take aways of the day.  
  1. No matter what. Still Do it in a professional way. It was good that we were the only people in the office. So there was no distraction at all. By the way, I learned that I was the second cry baby on that day! Another colleague of mind cried. I thought I was the original on that day! When she said that, the first thing that came to my mind was, ‘Ah, may problema nga talaga ito’. 
  2. I never thought I could express straight American slang. I felt so Poveydan. 
  3. Work-life balance pa rin. Given all of this hullabaloo, ang dami palang nangyari Life moments the week that was. Hindi ko man lang naapreciate na noong last Sunday, may lakad ako with my ate atehan at pumunta kami sa embassy ulit (gate crasher for this oath taking ceremony) at kilala na ako ni Ambassador Hernandez sa MUKHA! haha. Next goal ko sa PANGALAN naman. Hindi ko man lang naappreciate yung lunch and dinner ko with my other ate atehan in Seoul Global Center. Yung nakita ko at nagusap kami ng crushie ko sa banyo habang nagtotoothbrush siya. Hindi ko man lang naappreciate na yung mga colleagues ko who had already prepared the itinerary for our local tour tomorrow. At yung pagpunta ko ulit sa Sunday sa embassy. And my operations director reserved a one day tour in Nami Island. I overlooked all of them because of fucking work. Until now, I feel guilty for not being grateful enough and I promise not to do it again. 
  4. Minsan talaga pag stress ka, the best way to cope with it is to get 7-8 hours sleep promise. At sa kaka internet ko, waley. Kaya pag kagising parang buraot din ang aura. Pandagdag bad vibes yan tuloy. So stressed, napabili tuloy ako ng self-help book, my gawd. Maganda naman siya to be fair, ang pamagat F*ck Feelings by Michael I. Bennet, MD and Sarah Bennet. May pagka Jessica Zafraish ang tone. Buti na lang hindi The Secret!
  5. Feeling ko nawala yung Me-Time ko. I do not know. Napagod yata talaga ako sa Manila Mission. Not that I do not like it, pero naoverwhelmed ako sa dami noong schedule. I could have rested a bit pero too late there was no time to recharge at all. Sabak agad. Kaya hayun. Nagdomino effect tuloy. This can be all part of the experience. And experience is still the best teacher.