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A Letter FROM My Future Self

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October 1, 2022

Uy Apags,

Musta ka brader? Kumusta naman diyan sa 2016? Ok ka lang ba? Sa totoo lang, hindi ko na masiyadong maalala ang 2016. Alam ko, maraming mga problema sa bansa natin sa time na yan, pero sa totoo lang,  marami na ang nagbago mula noon.

MARAMI NA ANG NAGBAGO MULA 2016 AT 2022

Anyway, marami akong gustong sabihin sa iyo. First of all, gusto kong sabihin sa’yo na Thank you. Dito sa 2022, ang sinasabi nalang namin “T” (naalala ko lang, diyan sa 2016 hindi na sinasabi ang “Game,” “G” na lang diba?). So isang malaking “T,” dahil hindi ka nag-give up. Tumuloy ka pa rin. Nasa Pinas ka pa rin. Teka, kwento ko lang sa’yo ang buhay mo ngayon. Mamaya, kwento ko kung ano na ang nangyayari sa bansa.

2016 noong nag decide ka na maging isang Life Coach/Motivational speaker. Good News: Gumana bro! Ngayon, isa na tayong Solid na Life Coach. Specialty natin? Resilience, Motivation, Relationships. Di mo maimagine noh? Sino ba namang mag-aakalang magkakaroon tayo ng career dito, complete with mga clients na Artista at mga Politicians LOCAL and ABROAD. Shet lang talaga! Ka text mo nga lang si Lebron James kanina. Si Pia Wurtzbach lagi kang mine-message. Tapos may show ka na rin sa favorite mong radio station, ang Magic 899! Chamba pero ok diba?

NAGING MAGIC 89.9 DJ TAYO!!!

Natupad ang pangarap natin. Marami tayong natulungan. Yung mga plano nating business tulad ng restaurant, financing company, foundation na nagbibigay ng sapatos at public school, nagawa natin! Nakapag direct na tayo ng full length film, nanalo ng cinemalaya at Palanca at naging Forbes Magazine cover. Astig nga, pati si Tita Oprah (TITA OPRAH HAHAHA Parang titas of manila lang), bilib sa atin. Nakakakilig talaga. Actually, kwento ko lang, kakagaling ko lang sa isang TED talk dito sa Paris. Tayo yung Finale Speaker! BRO, 1 MILLION VIEWS IN 2 HOURS. NAG V TAYO!!!! (V pala ibig sabihin viral, hindi virginity) Tapos nakakatuwa kasi nanood yung mga officemates mo sa World Stage International. Nandoon sina Coach Cherry at Coach B, si Gene (na may buhok na ewan ko kung paano) at yung girlfriend niya, Si Alyssa at ang fiancee niyang si Atty. Bob, Sina Coryn, Alex, Inna, Ysa at Jabar,  at siyempre yung the rest of your new cutie new officemates from all three WS branches. OO TATLONG BRANCH NA KAYO. 2016 isa pa lang eh.

TATLO NA ANG BRANCH NG WORLD STAGE INTERNATIONAL!

Pero ang pinakaimportanteng mga tao doon ay ang family mo. Si Mommy at ang mga anak natin. Sobrang cute ng sons natin. 2 palang sila now, pero plano ko dagdagan kahit isa pa. Tingin mo? Sana babae, para tatlo kaming lalaki na gugulpi sa lalaking mag bbreak ng heart niya. Or si Mommy nalang? Scary ng asawa natin brader, pero astig yun. Sweet din siya. Alam niya yung balance.

MAHAL NA MAHAL NATIN ANG #APAGIBIG NATIN BRADER

Sinusulat ko ito ngayon sa flight natin papuntang US. Kakaboard lang natin. Bukas kasi, may tatlong meeting tayo. Sa umaga, sa Nike. Alam ko, favorite natin yun. So matutuwa ka siguro pag binalita ko sa’yo na brand endorser na tayo ng Nike. Hahaha. Funny story to:

Nagpapayat kasi tayo. Buwisit kasing Chris Evans yan, nagpa-life coach sa atin, tapos laging nagyayaya mag-gym. Wala na tayong nagawa eh. Anyway, pumayat tayo, nagka six-pack, at nagka-cameo tayo sa Avengers movie. Mabilis lang, kausap lang natin si Stan Lee. PERO OK LANG. MARVEL MOVIE PA RIN YUN GAGI. Anyway, natuwa naman si Nike sa success story natin sa pagpapapayat! Akalain mo! LIFE COACH, NAGING NIKE ENDORSER?! Lagi silang nagpapadala ng Sapatos. Na Custom Fit. Na personalized. Na LIBRE. LIBRE PARA SHET. May picture tayo kasama si Michael Jordan! Pero group pic tapos medyo blurred. Hassle. Pag nakita ko ulit magpapa retake ako.

NIKE ENDORSER KA NA!!!

Tapos, sa hapon, Apple. Nakachamba ulit tayo. Brand Ambassador din tayo ng Apple. Ito, nag pitch talaga ako para kunin nila tayo. Astig naman, nakakuha tayo ng mga laptop computer at free iCell 4s (oo hindi na iphone ang tawag, iCell nalang). Ang saya sa apple HQ, ang linis lahat. Lahat din Siri Operated. So maraming mga voice command na ganap. Medyo weird lang na sabihin sa urinal na “hey siri, flush”. Pero mas ok naman ang voice command dun kesa urinal na touch screen diba? Anyway, may meeting kasi may i-pitch daw silang idea sa atin. Bagong Ios 25 life coaching app daw. “APPags” daw ang itatawag, sana hindi yun ang itawag, medyo weird marinig yung “update mo yung APPags” or “delete mo na yung APPags.” Ano tingin mo?

APPLE AMBASSADOR KA PA!

Tapos, to cap off your day, may dinner ka with the US President. Actually, marami na tayong na meet na presidente. Medyo naging social transformation Ambassador kasi tayo eh hahaha. Hindi ko sasabihin sayo kung sino yung POTUS, baka ma spoiler ka eh. HAHAHAHA. Sabi dun sa invitation letter, “dinner plus beers daw.” Pero magdadala ako ng wine kung sakaling kailangan mas fancy. Magluto kaya ako ng Kare-Kare para hindi naman nakakahiya sa dinner niya? Or mag-order nalang kaya tayo ng pizza? Maganda kasi may contribution eh Ewan, bahala na. May mga pinaplano kasi tayong program for Environmental Preservation Policies. I’m hoping masaya at productive kasi marami tayong gustong ma-achieve this year bago mag pasko. Siyempre, uuwi na tayo before Christmas, kasi walang tatalo sa Pasko sa Pilipinas.

WALANG TATALO SA PASKO SA PINAS.

Mabalik nga ako sa Pilipinas. Alam mo, malaki na ang pinagbago sa Pilipinas. Alam ko, dismayado ka diyan sa bansa natin ngayon. Pero wag kang susuko. Marami na silang sumuko at umalis. Wala namang problema doon. Pero may naghihintay na magandang kinabukasan. Kapit lang! 6 years, bro, oo hindi pa rin siya perfect. May mga problema pa rin. Pero marami na ang nag-improve. Nabawasan na ang crime. Tumaas na ang disiplina. May mga problema pa rin sa corruption, poverty, at education, pero mukhang mag-iimprove naman. Hindi ka pwedeng sumuko. Sayang naman itong pinaghirapan natin. Hindi naging madali ito, promise, nahirapan tayo talaga. Napagod tayo, umiyak, na-depress, nakipag-away. Pero ganoon talaga, kailangan talaga nating ipaglaban. Kailangan nating i-protect ang mga pangarap natin. Every day, meron diyang pilit tayong pahihirapan. Hindi tayo natalo sa kanila. Bahagi ng buhay natin yun.

Naalala ko, nung 2015, talagang depressed na depressed tayo. Gusto na rin nating mamatay at times diba? Naalala mo yun? Yun ang kasagaran ng pagkalugmok natin; yung hinamak tayo ng buhay diba? Kasi, 2015, dito na deadz si Ate L at si Dad eh diba. So ano naman ang pakiramdam mo 1 year after diyan sa 2016? Masakit pa rin. Actually, brader, hanggang ngayong 2022, masakit pa rin. Dapat kasama pa natin sila today eh. Pero everytime nasasaktan tayo, dahil naiisip natin sila, alam mo kung anong nangyayari? Na-iinspire tayo. Napapasmile tayo. Namimiss natin sila, bro. Pero, sila ang nagpapalakas sa atin.

Anyway, paalis na itong flight. Medyo inaantok na rin ako. Tatapusin ko na ang letter na ito. Pero last message ko lang. Brader, ituloy mo lang ang ginagawa mo diyan na mangangarap ka.

MANGARAP KA PA RIN!

Gumaganda ang buhay ko dito sa 2022 everytime ginagawa mo yan. Sana lahat ng tao, hindi nila makalimutan ‘yon. Ang magpatuloy na mangarap. Kung tama ang memory ko, may mga times diyan ngayon na nagkakawatak-watak ang mga tao. Lilipas yan bro. Dito sa 2022, nagkakaisa na ang Bayan. Marami na ring umuuwi. No joke, bro. Totoo nga yung kasabihang just have a little faith.

Ok. Iyon lang, brader. Sige, see you soon. Very last nalang,

Nice one! Love you pre,

Coach Apags

PS. Cebu Pacific ang flight natin. Hindi na siya nalelate. Sulit bro. First class seats tayo. Pero piso fare pa rin hahaha ang kuripot pa rin natin. Some things never change.

The 90’s and my Dad. A father’s day entry.

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Hey Dad.

 

How are you?

 I’m currently in a coffee shop, and it’s playing some smooth jazz.

It reminds me just how much you love Frank Sinatra.

It’s been a while since we really talked. I remember, back in the 90s, especially on sunny Sundays when you would sit in the garage, and just listen to Frank’s old CD’s (well, they weren’t old for you). You had them in little decks, I think you called those things “Disc Changers”. Disc changers were signs of royalty then, I remember the big kids wanting them in their Toyota Corolla’s and their box type Mitsubishi Lancers and their fancy Hatchback Honda Civics. I know we weren’t that well off, especially since you and mom had to stretch owning our old (but ever so reliable) VW Beetle, even though at times, the engine at the back would cough like a fireworks display on New Year’s eve. Eventually, you guys were able to buy a Nissan Sentra. I really loved that car. I like the gold paint job, even years later when the shade turned into faded cheap bronze.

And on Sunday afternoons liek this, we would take that california-scents-pine-smelling car to Greenhills, even if there was hardly any parking. But we went their for the bargains. I used to hate going there because there were so many people. But you guys wanted to buy cheap stuff, and I made the visits worth it by stuffing my face with DEC Siomai.

I remember you always had a box of tools in the car in case something goes wrong, and you had to get down under the car and magically fix that segunda mano Sentra. Those tools were then, for me, your weapons of mass correction. You were our Batman, and they were the accessories on your utility belt, equipment to battle the evils that lived under the hood and chassis of a car.

I had a set of tools too! Albeit, they were plastic; but they were branded “Stanley”, the epitome of both real and toy tools! The stuff of real men. I remember, I had my own wrench, hammer, saw, and I was always tinkering around with stuff. Not too long after that, I was playing around with the real toys of the big boys. Do you remember? How I sneaked into your tool box, and took out the screwdrivers? I remember how upset you were when I dissected our old trinitron remote, and even angrier when I couldn’t put it back together. You knew we wouldn’t be able to watch TV, which we used to see all the Tyson fights. You were always for Iron Mike, and I was always for the Brunos, the Lewises and the Holyfields. Nor would we be able to watch basketball and YOUR Chicago Bulls versus MY Supersonics, Suns, and Jazz.

My life was really built around TV then, Dad. And even if I was afraid of Vegeta, Megatron, Krang, Shredder and Cobra Commander from those morning cartoons, you still beat them all of them as the scariest man I’ve ever seen. Actually, you were tied with the Undertaker. At any moment, I thought you were gonna Tombstone Piledriver me to the ground because I broke the holy grail otherwise known as remote control.

But that day, after a few grunts, frowns and profane murmurs kept to yourself, you made your way to the hardware store to buy a universal remote (which cost a fortune back then). You always used the PI word, but never to attack anybody. You always blamed yourself. I’m sorry, Dad. But I’m glad that not a single spank was laid that day. No belt snapped. No tombstone was set for me.

I believe I grew up in that way too. I’ve never raised my palm nor fist on a child (even if honestly, at times, I thought I would) And I’m mighty glad to have that record.

A few years passed by, and you had to retire because of circumstances out of your control. Your eyes were giving up on you, and it wasn’t exactly easy for a CPA like you, when you couldn’t tell whether a 1 was a 7 or when a decimal point was a comma. I knew that saddened you, not because you were gonna be bored as hell at home, but because you wouldn’t be able to help Mom provide for us. You were always a hardworker, and you never had idle time. Even when you were free, you’d always spend it reading (which is pretty admirable coz you had bad eyes nga).

I always knew you wanted the best for me and my sister. When you were part of the workforce, you always brought home donuts as pasalubong, and even though it would be cold because you were always working out late, they’d still taste as sweet in the morning because they came from you. I loved the strawberry filled ones, and you always got those and took out the bavarian, because I hate those. I miss those donuts.

But when you retired, even though you were sad and frustrated (and oftentimes you kept it inside) I have to admit, I was a bit happy. I got to see you at home all the time. You managed the house with the same efficiency and passion you did back as an outstanding employee. You even took care of the laundry, the dogs, the dishes, the cleaning. And most importantly, you took care of us. I remember how you would religiously – even when you were sick – wake me up in the morning to go to my classes, and you got angry at me when I fail to do so on time. 5:30am I should be up so that I had enough time to shower, and eat before the school bus honked outside our house at 6am. You attended a cooking class, and you discovered the perfect Sinigang recipe. I can cook now too, dad, but I can never get your Sinigang. You should really show me how you do that. Your Sinigang is still the best, Dad.

The coffee shop is playing a Rivermaya Song now, “You’ll be safe here.”

Ironic, it’s how I feel now. I remember being safe around you.

I remember, and I made friends, which I still have today, you were always the one who picked me up whenever we did school work or hung out. You drove to fetch me in different houses of my friends, even at night, despite your failing eyesight. I should’ve been more thankful for that than I was. I’m sorry if at that time I thought you were being a buzz kill because you didn’t want me to go home so late. I loved going home late and spending a few more extra precious minutes with my friends. Looking back, maybe I should’ve spent more of them with you.

I remember how disappointed you were the first time I came home drunk. What’s more, I drove home drunk. We are both fans of Pale Pilsen (though nowadays, I only drink Light), I know this having shared a couple of beers with you. But you were terribly pissed that night. I remember you not talking to me for days, maybe even weeks. I was acting pretty brave, thinking “Hey, if you don’t wanna talk to me, I won’t talk to you too,” but deep inside, I knew I made a huge mistake and it was all just an act. The rebel kid was just a role I played to keep myself from feeling too down. Eventually, I realized the error of my ways, and I vowed never to drink and drive again. I know I missed that vow a couple of nights, because of things I went through. And I’m sorry.

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There are so many things I want to apologize to you for, and maybe I should’ve been more upfront about that. But more often than not, I just kept those regrets inside, because I never want to burden anybody or make them feel guilty or worse, make them blame themselves coz of my mistakes. I guess I got that sternness and silence from you. You were the same way. You were the typical “man of a few words,” but, I know I never told you, you are an exemplary father; the silent, but a diligent driving force in keeping our family together.

I remember that day you and mom fought. Looking back, I guess you guys could’ve separated that day. But you told me to call mom and ask her to bring something home, a pasalubong like your donuts, so that you were sure she would still come home. And you never split up. Despite everything.

I guess, this was my first lesson on relationships. I still carry it today. People that love each other can have fights, and still not end things with each other.

Truthfully, we all had fights. You-mom, me-you, mom-me, you-ate, me-everybody, etc. etc. etc. It’s just as most families do. Maybe it’s inevitable. But in all the fights, we never made irreparable wounds.

And even if you got so angry with me for picking a job in productions, which consisted of a recipe of things you did not like for me — long hours, late nights, stressful people, drinking, smoking, disappointment — not once did you ever make me feel bad for doing so. You would shrug in disappointment, I guess I got kinda used to it, but you always supported me. You always gave me a slight praise or soft pact on the back whenever I did something of merit, and you criticized me mercilessly when I committed occupational errors. I guess I should’ve been more appreciative of that. Thank you dad. I’m sorry if I could not give you your dreams of me becoming an MD or an Engineer. But I hope you know, that I continue to do my best in my new field. And I put forth the same effort and passion you did in caring for us, at least to my clients and to my co workers.

 

I know you don’t like cheesy stuff Dad.

But it’s father’s day.

Me and My Dad Last year, father's day.

Me and My Dad Last year, father’s day.

And it’s been almost 8 months since I last talked to you. I still remember your voice. I still sometimes look back at the house before I leave, just to silently say goodbye to you. It still brings a tear to my eye remembering that last day you spent with us. I am just hoping that these words are enough to express a lifetime of gratitude for you being a wonderful Dad.

Thank you for being the guy who taught me the difference between using tools, and being a tool for the care of others. Thank you for teaching me how to be steadfast, especially when I am hit by waves of problems. Thank you for teaching me that even something so small as a strawberry donut can mean so much to a person. Thank you for making me see that being angry is okay, so long as it’s for the betterment of another person; more so, that it can coexist with nonviolence. Thank you for the support, even if it is masked as disappointment at times.

There are so many things I wish I can still share with you. A couple of beers. Campagne on my wedding. My future child.

I know it’s not gonna be easy, but I promise to be as committed to being a dad as you were.

The coffee shop is now playing a Rod Stewart Song.

And thank you for the slow Sundays. I am no longer the little boy playing around in the garage. I grew up to be a decent man, and I hope I can be as well of a man as you were when you walked the earth.

One man is just a man, until they have a legacy. I hope you know that you had one hell of a legacy. At least for your family. And that’s not bad. Heck, that’s amazing. I don’t think everybody can boast such a record.

I miss you and ate.

For everyone reading this, I hope you can give your dad a hug. Or a high five, or a fist bump, if that’s how you roll. They might not need it, but it’s pretty cool to have that with your dad. I wish I can give mine one last one. The last one was when he breathed last. It still pains me, to be honest.

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But life goes on. Maybe someday we can hug again.

 

Godspeed, Dad. I love you.

 

I will always remember you as the smartest man I know. This is a picture of him with a stray cat named Kevin Durant, as he answers the daily crossword. He never missed a puzzle.

I will always remember you as the smartest man I know. This is a picture of him with a stray cat named Kevin Durant, as he answers the daily crossword. He never missed a puzzle.

 

Dear 2015

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(photo by Pao Peña)

(photo by Pao Peña)

 

Dear 2015,

 

I have mixed feelings about you. Like I’m thankful and angry. Like I love you and I don’t. Kind of like how I feel about dieting. or Chicharon. Allow me to tell you why.

 

I met you at the start of the year. To be perfectly honest, I was pretty excited meeting you and hanging out with you.

 

I had just come from a bad relationship with 2014, and it left me bruised and broken. But I was pretty optimistic. You were offering new possibilities, and a chance to renew myself. So I had to actually start the year with a lot of faith in you. I had to believe that you were gonna help me find a better version of myself. Remember, when 2014 ended, I had just turned single? I was feeling emasculated, insecure, and not really worth anybody’s time. I was trying to reassemble a daily routine that no longer involved texting someone a “good morning” or an “I love you”. I can honestly say that it was one of the lowest points of my life.

But you changed that immediately. Thank you 2015. You are lovely.

In January, you let me become part of a Tanghalang Ateneo play again, Waiting for Godot. It had been years since I have had the opportunity to be onstage. I was feeling rusty. But I got one of the lead parts, by some weird twist of fate! And I got to work with a stellar cast, crew and director. I was part of the Male Set A for Godot with Xander, Mora, Jerome and Soc. Led by Direk JK. I played Didi! And achieved something I hadn’t previously done in my theater carreer: Cry on cue.

To tell you the truth, I was really happy then. You ever get that feeling that where you were is exactly where you had to be? That was how I felt with that play. Whenever I would be in the theater, it was just me doing what I was meant (destined) to do. Nobody could ever do that at that point in time but me. It gave me a sense of purpose. Thank you 2015. You are generous.

You continued to make me happy in February, despite some betrayals from a few friends who thought badly of me — who misconstrued my good intentions as romantic feelings. Who made it seem like if fell for someone, that it was a bad thing. I easily got over that. After that, you even made me meet Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye! Wowza! Next, you gave me the chance 2015 to launch my poetry shirt line, and to celebrate my birthday with all the important people in my life.

At this point, that category – “all the important people in my life” – was still a complete entity. I’ll go back to that later.

Anyway you, 2015, during the month of february, you kept me in the theater. You gave me a chance to write, and direct a play. Coming from Godot, I was oozing with inspiration. So it came to be, I directed and co-wrote Near Yet Far, Far Yet Near. It wasn’t an easy play, by any stretch of the imagination: Not a lot of time to prepare, not a lot of resources, an actress quitting the week before the show. But you showed me that it was still possible to achieve something special. And you brought in very special people to help make sure that magic was still as real as the stage we put plays on. I had a chance to direct friends Guelan, Tarek, Trency, and discover new talents in Jerome and Tine. You gave me a solid production team with BJ, Pepe, JP, JR, Leyson, and of course the wonderful stage manager Regina. You even got a couple of blogs to write good reviews about us!

I’ll be a bit of a braggart, but honestly, everytime the audience (no matter how few they are) clapped, I felt tingles up my spine. Kilig. Yeah, that’s the word I’m looking for.

We were on a roll 2015, but then things changed.

In March, you got my sister sick. That wasn’t very nice of you. Lo and behold, 3 months later, she’s gone. 3 months later, I’m writing a eulogy for the first time, and I am in tears. A lot of people were able to read that Eulogy, and even if it was perhaps the saddest chapter of my life, at least it made me happy that people were mourning with me. Sorry if that sounds a bit selfish. Anyway.

I don’t wanna dwell on that too much. But I was thinking to myself, that despite all the losses and pains I’ve had and endured over the years, losing my sister was definitely the heaviest burden I’ve ever had to carry. And it didn’t help that I watched everyone else around her carry that same burden. It didn’t help watching my mom and dad cry in front of her casket. It didn’t help watching all the friends my sister had over the years comfort each other with hugs and old stories of her life. It didn’t help that her 3 year old daughter had no clue what was happening. You are a bitch, 2015. Why did you put us through that?

And the months around that, I was really off balanced too, 2015. Constantly worrying about my family and how we were gonna survive, and you added stress from work, and stress from being in love with a young girl. I was literally stuck in a tornado of emotions, literally. I did not know how to feel about things, and how to react based on those feelings. For the first time in my life, I had no clue what I was gonna do.

I think you know 2015, that I’ve always taken pride in being bacteria like. Not in because I’m dirty (I am actually pretty concerned with my hygiene), but in the “I can adapt to anything” kind of sense. Many people have tried to push me around, some have succeeded, but I’ve always found a way to overcome. This wasn’t the case during those months. I was weak, and I felt I was being slammed harshly to the ground until I no longer knew the difference between my face and the cold, hard cement road.

Especially with being in love.

Don’t get me wrong, 2015, I’m not angry that you made me feel love again after a while. I was pretty happy loving that person. But I guess, I too wasn’t ready. With so many things happening, I wasn’t exactly in the best shape to love other people. And I’m at least glad that after it was over, you still stuck with me. You gave me a chance to love myself and to find some form of comfort in that.

And the best way you made me feel that 2015, is with the LIRA poetry workshop. I had never been to a poetry class before in my life. But you made me learn; not just the words to write, or how to write them, but most importantly you made me learn how it was to see things from a bigger perspective. You showed me how to be inspired by letting me meet so many inspiring people: my fellow writers, LIRA officers and members, and of course the mentors: Sir Rio, Sir Mike, Sir Fidel, Sir Marne, Sir Egay, Sir Nanoy, Miss Ergo, Sir Joel, Ma’am Becky, Sir LJ, Sir Gian, and everyone else. You showed me new friendships. At least you softened the blows that I was taking from all of the other sadness I was going through. 6 months of learning poetry were 6 months of learning life.

You also introduced me this year to the wonderful people of Words Anonymous. And they also inspired my poetry. I’m grateful for that 2015, you are swell.

In August, I wanted to thank you 2015, because you gave me new life.

You finally made me let go of her.

At least that was one thorn out of my bludgeoned heart.

From July to September, you were also giving me good projects with Sindikato. And you handed to us good people in Alvin, Lorraine, Mella, and Topher. We were on a roll, and we were doing more things with less fatigue. We were laser locked on to our goals, and it was a great feeling. We even got a new TV show with the fantastic China Cojuangco Gonzales! Thank you 2015. You are a blessing.

I thought the year was pretty much done at this point to be honest. I was already excited for Christmas, because things were in place. The pain from losing my sister wasn’t as strong as before thanks to the comfort and solace that a lot of people kept pouring down on us. And I got to reconnect with an old friend, Danica, too! Randomly at that! She’s been really special, and she’s been nothing but fun. She’s been part of the upside of the year.

But you had to ruin the fun 2015.

October, you took my dad away. Just like that. One day he was telling me to take care going to work, and the next day, I was holding his lifeless hand in the company of my best friends Enzo and Edzon. Why did you do that 2015? Why now? Why him?

October became like my dad. Lifeless.

It wasn’t the same.

My dad has been retired for the past 20 years. So he’s always been at home. He’s always taken care of everything. He always made sure the trash was brought out, and that we always had gas for the stove. Heck, he even made sure that the mail was received, and the bills were attended to. But that’s not the case now. The empty rooms seem emptier. The walls have become much lonelier.

When people ask me, “How are you?” I always have one reply. I’m okay. But the quiet moments are really the worst.

You know, 2015, until today, I can still hear my dad’s voice in my head. I still sometimes check to see if he’s there. Before I leave the house, I still sometimes say goodbye to him and tell him I’m going to work. I still whisper to him what time (I think) I’ll be home. I still see him working on his daily crossword puzzle and watching the discovery channel.

I want to stab you, cut you up to pieces, and let you rot in a swamp somewhere 2015.

November came, and you tried to make it up to me. I appreciate that. You sent me to Japan with my friends for the first time. You gave me some pocket money to spend. You gave me a chance to refresh my weary spirit. Or at least to be distracted.

That trip was fantastic. Just being with my friends, and going on adventures. I really needed that. Thank you 2015. That was mighty sweet of you.

It’s December now, and I’m trying to remember everything. I’m writing this in a coffee shop. And I really look like an idiot. One moment I have a huge smile on my face, and a minute later I’m wiping my eyes from tears.

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(Me earlier at Starbucks Katip photo by Bryant Garduque)

I lost a lot because of you, 2015.

But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t gain anything from you.

I met random friends. I copped a lot of shoes. I encountered new experiences. I tasted romance, I gained a part of me I never previously had access to.

Like a secret level in Super Mario. Or Final Fantasy. Sorry for the old reference, Millennials. (Yup, I spelled Millennial right).

You are a mystery to me 2015. Right at the time when I was asking a lot of questions about myself, you leave me with more questions. Maybe you did answer some things, too, but I guess that’s okay. Maybe I need to ask these questions and answer them for myself.

I still don’t understand you 2015. I probably never will.

 

But.

 

I am glad we are parting ways today.

 

Maybe when 2016 comes, she will help me answer those questions.

Walt Disney once said, “Keep Moving forward”. I guess I’ll do that. But I will take some part of you 2015. I’ll shrink that part and put it in my pocket; and I’ll bring it as I continue on this journey called life.

We’ve had a wild ride 2015.

And before I say farewell, I wanted to thank all the people that you dragged beside me 2015:

Kenny, Bugs and Mondy (the original badings)

Darling, who won rookie of the year at the Apogator Awards.

And Gelaine who was the runner-up.

Angela.

Gel.

Danica.

Sindikato. And the new badings Kuya Erwin, Teng, Rorotski, Lebron James Dela Cruz

Nicolai.

Abby.

Yel.

My Prod Friends – Prodmadnezz mostly.

Marcee.

Garret.

New Prodhouses I got to work with – Manilaman, and Onmedia

My TA Family – especially Sir Glenn, Ron, Ricky, Rhem, Yaps, Gel, Joenel, Soc, Barth, Banjo, Lia, Gly and all you youngins lalo na ikaw Jessica.

My DITO: Bahay ng Sining Family – Bj, Pepe, Madame Y

My ARPT Family – Pau, King, Chin, Kristoff (and Mian), Carl (and Teril), Carlo not so Big (and Alex), Jongko, Marlo, Diane, et al.

My Poetry friends – LIRA, and Words Anonymous.

My new Intact Students and Student Facilitators.

My HS students in the Ateneo Video Club.

My sneakerhead friends – especially you Mesh Maini.

My bars of the year, Loading Point and Route 196 and all the people who run said joints who have seen me at my worst times.

My crush of the year, Tin Gamboa (Suzy 899). Listening to you almost everyday made me kilig. Legit kilig, not unlike the kilig you get from taking a piss lang. I wish I can take you out to dinner someday. Or kahit coffee. Or kahit breakfast. Or kahit magtawag ka lang ng grab car tapos maghihintay ako katabi mo sa pila.

My musician friends especially peeps from Sud, Autotelic, Mayonnaise, Kai Honasan, Reese Lansangan, Champ and Hale, Spongecola and Saul, Jugs and Itchyworms, and all of you guys who I can’t mention because I have the memory of a 70 year old.

My fans, who make sure I average at least a massive 10 likes per post on Facebook. or at least an overwhelming 4 likes on my instagram, @lordapags.

2015, these people made it easier and much more meaningful to breathe this year. If only for them, thank you 2015 for bringing them beside me.

 

Farewell, 2015.

 

It’s time to say goodbye.

 

Apags

EXTREME LIFESTYLE CHANGE – #apaghs

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The past few weeks I have been thinking about doing an EXTREME LIFESTYLE CHANGE. To be honest, I have been feeling pretty sad and tired. Perhaps sad because I’m tired? Or maybe tired because I’m sad. Whatever the relationship of those two are, one thing is for sure. I’m not completely happy, and I’m not completely energized. But I’m glad that I have the best groups of friends around, that even if I’m not exactly at an optimum level, I still feel ok. Even when I’m really not. For everyone who knows what I’ve been going through, this shouldn’t be a surprise. For those people that don’t, well basically I have been on an emotional rollercoaster, where most of the turns are going downward. Really, sadness, being lethargic and off-balanced-ness, these were principles I lived on these past few weeks and months.

 

Another confession: I have been trying to amuse myself when I write my poems, and when I write funny stuff on facebook, And it really helps me feel a bit better every time someone enjoys something I post.

 

A friend of mine once asked, “Do you consider yourself an artist, Apags?” Truth is, I can’t say that about myself all the time. Sometimes, I don’t feel like an artist. But I really try to be the best entertainer I can be. And entertaining people has always been something I enjoy doing. So when I post something, and it entertains you, I’m very happy with that.

 

Speaking of entertaining, that’s one of the reasons I am doing this lifestyle change, but it’s not the main reason. I want to entertain myself. I want a change of pace, I want a change of scenery. Kind of like when you get entertained with something on TV or on Youtube. You watch it because it entertains you, and it’s something out of the ordinary course of your life. It disrupts the same old routine we’ve become so used to living. I do have several other reasons, maybe you’ll see them as this article progresses.

 

So what is this EXTREME LIFESTYLE CHANGE I am talking about? I call it “Apags Buhay High School” and henceforth will be know as #apaghs. Which basically means, I will try to live my lifestyle back when I was in High School. And I guess, for that to make sense, then I sort of have to describe my lifestyle now.

 

MY LIFESTYLE NOW

 

If there is one word I can use to describe my lifestyle now, I would pick the word HARSH. I am a producer, director, writer, teacher, and a few other things that I’d rather not mention (there may be kids reading this — ie my students). I leave the house early or semi early, go to work, get home late (some days I don’t go home), and then do it all over again. I don’t have the luxury of time. Nor do I have the luxury of control. I live on shortages. To compensate, I drink, I smoke, I read buzzfeed, I pinterest, I 9gag like most people. Hahaha! I find all sorts of ways to try and cope with stress, which is perhaps the one thing my life does not have a shortage of. It’s really no way for anyone to live. Granted that it is fun because I get to work with the best people I can wish for, but it’s still difficult. And it really isn’t a way to live.

 

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MY PLANNED LIFESTYLE

 

My high school lifestyle, was pretty much the same in terms of amount of stuff I was doing, and the sheer stress and pressure that I had to juggle between my hands and feet. But I was a different person. I was full of energy, at a time when I should’ve been drained, vulnerably sprawled on the floor. And I loved every second of it. I was a student leader, I was a boyfriend, I was a brother and a son, I was the drummer of a band, I was an actor, I was defensive player of the year in my basketball team, and many more things I wish I can do again. And I want that energy again. I want that lifestyle again.

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For some of us (I would think for more than a few), high school was the best time of our lives. We probably got bored with school, but that was ok, because we were building relationships with people that we still hold close to our hearts today. So why not try living it again? Maybe it will be a nice #throwback lifestyle.

 

WHAT I’M GONNA DO

 

#apaghs is built on three premises. Time. Health. and Finance. And let me tell you a few stories.

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TIME

 

When I was in high school, I always woke up at 530 am, because I rode a school bus, and it picke dme up at 6am. I tried to sleep before 12. My friends will tell you that I stopped replying or I put the landline down at around 12. In cases where I needed to stay up later than 12, I still would wake up at 5am. I would get to school at 715 am, and have enough time to chill at the cafeteria before the bell rang at 7:45am. And no matter how tired I was, my day started when that bell rang. I was ready. I was prepared for a full day of learning. I also studied in spurts of 45 mins — the time a class ran. I had a five minute break, and a 1 minute silence bell. That was a regular schedule. And that regularity of a schedule helped me become as productive as I can be. Which isn’t the case now.

 

I spend more time working, sometimes too little sleep. And sometimes (and I’m sure so many people will relate to this), since time isn’t as regular, we put off things that we should be doing. We procrastinate, and we end up being less than our ideal selves. And that sort of destroys even the best of us.

 

HEALTH

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When I graduated high school, I was 141 pounds. Slightly underweight, but I felt invincible. There was a point when I could tap the ring in basketball; I have short arms (and immense insecurity of mine), so I was never able to dunk the ball. I was pretty close though! I could run a mile easily, I could lift heavy siz without breaking a sweat. I had no vices. Never had a drop, never had a hit. The only vice I had was watching cartoons, and overplaying video games.

 

Fast forward to the end of college – 200 pounds. I had set records for most beer bottles drank in a night. I had smoked more than a few cigarettes. Not proud of it. Pic for Reference.

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Faster forward to today – I did lose some weight. Did reduce drinking. Slightly bringing back some of the sportiness and athleticism I once had.

 

So the goal is to eliminate everything that damages my health: vices and stress (to the best of my ability). At the end of this lifestyle change, I plan to be that 141 — or maybe slightly heavier, my perfect BMI should be 160 pounds — guy, who can dunk the ball. Muscles, I hope you are still down there hidden in the fat.

 

So if you ask me to drink, or smoke, I might say no to you. I will probably be less fun that you are used to. Please understand. It’s not you. It’s me. Hahahaha.

 

FINANCE

 

Hahaha this will be a fun story. When I was in high school, I did not have the biggest baon in my class. I remember I had a girlfriend who lived in the super close to Ateneo place called FARVIEW (no typo there). Hahaha. And I made it a point to always try and bring her home. With my allowance, I could only do it for twice a week. I had to save every peso of that allowance (which was designed for my own survival alone). I invented this method called the 5 peso lunch. A few of my friends know this. I would spend 5 pesos during my lunch period just so I could have enough money to get a cab for my girlfriend — to FARVIEW — and for me to be able to get home to Pasig/Marikina on a jeep.

 

What in the bloody blue blazes is the 5 peso lunch, you’re probably wondering. How can someone eat on 5 pesos for lunch? Well, it’s easy. You buy 5 pieces of judge chewing gum for lunch, mix it with some happy thoughts, and you’re good until dismissal. And what the stomach lacked in content, the heart overflowed with love and romance and all that cheesy hulabaloo.

 

Hahaha. Fast forward to today – Money is not really a problem. Sometimes it is, but I wish I could save more. So it makes sense. Granted, I don’t exactly have a girl now that I have to eat a 5 peso lunch for, but I still think I need to save. For myself. For my shoes. Hahaha!

 

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR ME?

 

I am writing and finishing this tonight at home. I am ready for this. I am sure a lot of people also are looking to change their lives. I hope that with this effort of mine, I can at least inspire someone, even though it’s only one person. I ask you guys to support me in this thing I am doing. It’s not gonna be easy. The cigarette wuitting alone I think will make me so angry and sensitive. I apologize in advance.

 

I shaved my head today, as the first step in #apaghs. So if you see me, I will look clean. A bunch of people that saw me said I looked weird. I had really long hair for quite some time, so this is a big change for them. It is for me. And no, I did not shave it because I want Duterte to run. Nor am I going through some life/emotional crisis, and I’m doing an extreme solution. It’s just a new thing, a first step. Really hoping this works this time.

 

So anyway.

 

The last beer has been drunk.

 

The last cigarette has been smoked.

 

I’m ready for a lifestyle change.

 

Maybe I’ll go back someday. Maybe I’ll have moments where I forget. But I promise every single one of you, that I will try my hardest to keep this lifestyle change going for as long as I can. And as some of you may know, I don’t shy away from trying something new. Something extreme.

 

Pray for me guys.

 

Wish me luck.

 

WHY I’M REALLY DOING THIS.

 

I am doing this for you Ate. I miss you. It was your birthday yesterday. I wish I could give you a gift, the way I used to. But I can’t now. So this will be my gift to you.

 

I miss you terribly.

 

I love you.

 

I am doing this lifestyle change to be a better person.

 

I aim for you to be proud of me, as much as I’m proud of you. I want to be in a better state, so I can be around longer.

 

I will try my very best to always be around for Mirka. For our parents.

 

This is me. I’m about to change.

 

Please help me through this, Ate.

 

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