Minor trigger warnings for harassment, self-harm, and disordered eating.
I didn’t know it was called solihiya, I recall now, thinking of the woven pattern that was an accent piece in that room. For all the memories I’ve both repressed and dwelled in for so long, that visual is constantly rather vivid to me. It’s strange—I was so enraptured by it, I could still remember standing still for a moment, letting my eyes try to figure out the intricate weave.
I didn’t know it then, but it was going to be the last innocent memory I was going to have for a while.
In that room, with the beautiful solihiya accents, a stranger took advantage of me—and failed.
Lately I’ve been directing my energy towards writing a bit more. It’s both ways holding on to whatever thread of sanity I have left, and also not letting this year go to waste. Small accomplishments do add up, after all.
For now, there’s nothing too sophisticated happening beyond writing my thoughts down—word vomit if you may, just to get me going. That includes being a little more forgiving with grammatical errors and style inconsistencies. The overthinking and attention-to-detail that defined my early career as a journalist? Completely thrown the window for now, in exchange for something a little more… authentic.
Yet this form of self-therapy caused a thought to escalate into my head—one that’s actually been there for a while but I resolutely ignored:
Well, it only took 160 days since the pandemic outbreak, but I finally went out for purely leisure reasons for the first time today.
It is kind of hard to turn down lunch at Hai Shin Lou, not when there’s peppercorn squid at stake.
(And also an actual meal in which I don’t have to do the dishes, let’s be real.)
Throughout the quarantine period, I’ve been doing the sensible thing and staying home as much as possible, not that I had much reason to go out if you don’t count my rapidly dwindling mental health. Milk tea deliveries and video calls became the norm, and suddenly five months have passed and we’re halfway through the year already.
It used to be that whenever I needed to get out of my head, I’d lie in bed for hours, phone on silent with the screen facing down while I stared up at the ceiling if I wasn’t lost in a book.
Then 2020 happened, and that was basically life every single day for the past five months. What was a sanctuary to keep me sane is now breeding ground for a plethora of mental issues, new and recurring alike brought to you by extreme isolation, everyday anxiety about life on hold, the lack of sunlight, and probably the fact that I haven’t done anything new to my hair in a long time.
Mostly I get by—and, really, I can only say that because I’ve been feeling so devoid of emotion I actually haven’t had a breakdown in months. So my days have been divvied up between just lying in bed and being absolutely useless at worst, and just lying in bed doing absolutely useless stuff at best.
(I’d start calling myself a robot, but I think that’s an insult to them—at least they have purpose.)
No Gryffindors were harmed in the planning of this party.
All the way back in high school, my best friends and I (henceforth known as the Fingals) would always wonder who would get married first. We could never agree on an answer, but we knew that whoever it was going to be, would be special for all of us.
Fast forward to last year, Dani got down on one knee in Italy and proposed to our girl Sam. Having been together for seven years then, Dani and Sam have always been our OTP, sharing so much love, warmth, and creativity between them despite enduring long periods of time not seeing each other. Now they’re going to be canon, and we couldn’t be happier.
Everyone started getting in a frenzy thinking of the bachelorette: A wild weekend in Hong Kong? A girls’ beach trip to Bantayan Island? With Sam swept in a flurry of preparations for a big wedding, we couldn’t possibly get her away for more than a couple of hours. Also, she requested things to be innocent to accommodate younger family members, so we turned to the next best thing we could think of—one that has defined Sam’s fangirl identity, as well as our friendship from years and years back.
As 1,197 people on Facebook and 1,260 people on Instagram know, I have a new man in my life. His Royal Floofiness, Gryffin the Chow, is an adorable red-coated chow chow who looks like a little lion, resembling the emblematic animal of the great House of Gryffindor he was named after. His appearance also makes him look like half of a griffin, the majestic part-lion part-eagle creature in mythology.
Despite how cute they look, most people are wary of owning chow chows because they tend to be aggressive—loyal to their masters, yet mean to strangers. They can also get quite aloof, which is the total opposite of most dogs who are people-pleasers. As someone who was debating getting a cat, I can’t say I mind the haughty nature; I was, however, concerned about the hostility.
I read that, in order to tame down the aggression, chows should be socialized early on. Get them used to unfamiliar people while young, and they’ll be friendly doggos. With that, I’ve taken to bringing Gryffin with me on playdates and letting him meet my friends and their dogs.
Cebu isn’t really a park city, and the few parks we do have tend to attract a lot of stray dogs. Not to discriminate against all of them, but I’m concerned about safety. I’m wary of having to break up a dog fight if it comes to that, and most of these stray dogs haven’t had their shots.
So, Gryffin and I have been on the hunt for pet-friendly places in the city, and we’ve found enough to warrant a list!
In honor of International Women’s Month this March, I’m proud to have been asked to be part of Guilty & Proud, a campaign by Queen City Plus. This movement champions body positivism and self-love in Cebu.
Queen City Plus is the on-screen journal of Bea Evardone, herself a body positive and self-love advocate. A fellow Theresian few years my junior, I’ve always admired the tenacity of this lady ever since our elementary days when she would be running around campaigning to be student body president. Over time, we found ourselves working more together.
She was there one particular afternoon when I was lamenting to some people about having endured yet another body shaming remark. Little did I know she was already in the stages of planning Guilty & Proud, which she invited me to join.
I knew a lot of people at the photo shoot, but it was a complete eye-opener to realize that all these women I thought I knew—these amazingly beautiful women—also had to contend with having to live up to society’s standards. Reading their stories, posted every day on the Facebook page, was equal parts inspiring and intimidating, because while it was reassuring to know I was not alone after all, I felt my story did not live up to their journeys.
But this is not a competition. We are sisters united in the vision of raising awareness for body shaming, because no, it is not okay to just randomly throw out “You’re so fat now,” and other remarks that attack people for their appearances and choices.
Eventually, I found the heart and the right words. Here is what I have to say.
In medias res—Latin for ‘into the middle of things’—is a narrative that starts not at the beginning, but somewhere in the middle of the story.
In this case, my journey begins in medias res with a beautiful white gown with a daring plunge right down the front.
It wasn’t for my wedding, no. It was for a photoshoot celebrating something that stands for women’s rights. I felt I was making a statement that flaunting my curves does not make me less of an advocate for gender equality. I looked fine as hell and I knew it.
Then came the negative remarks. A stranger on Instagram commented that my dress, while showing off my cleavage, might as well be pointing to my vagina. An acquaintance took it upon herself to actually download the photo and send it as an e-mail to her friend and my former colleague, writing, “Maayo pa’g nag backless nalang siya kay wala siya’y yototch,” (She should have just worn a backless [dress] because she doesn’t have breasts) in the subject title.
It’s a rather daunting prospect, the reasons being things I admittedly forced out of my mind when I turned 25. 25 was the midpoint, I told myself. I was allowed to act and go about things like I was still in my early 20’s.
26 though, that’s kind of past the middle, right? A number that easily rolls off the tongue, sounds so adult, giving the impression of stability and demanding respect. An age that, honestly, I don’t quite feel I live up to yet.