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always do better than yesterday.

goodbye Daddy.

i remember when i was in pre-school back in the Philippines when my grandparents took care of me. i think it was pretty obvious what kind of person i’d be when i grew up because i would act up and never listened to anyone. the traditionalists could potentially refer to me as an “anarchist”, but I prefer the term “activist” or “palaban”.  my parents would visit from their overseas jobs in Saudi and my dad would say things like —

“what if I died today?
this is the kind of daughter you want to be?
would you still act like this?”

the guilt trip would work because i would cry my eyes out.  i’d be hysterical, throwing tantrums, and hated them even mentioning his death.  Daddy would then say he’d stop talking about it just to make me stop crying.  i would be good for a little while, but then i’d forget and be back to my old antics of talking back, sneaking out of the house to avoid naps, and hitting my nanny when she told me what to do.

we moved to Houston when i was about 7.  other people would probably hate it when you come from living in a nice neighborhood and going to private school to living in a ghetto two-bedroom apartment behind a Fiesta…but Daryl and i were fine with it.  we didn’t have a nanny anymore, but we finally had our parents.  Mom worked all the time so Daddy was with us 24/7 — we had a blast.  there were no more voice recordings on cassette tapes we sent overseas so our parents could listen to them when they missed us…we had a new life: just us, Daddy, and the indoor jungle gym we frequented down the street.

when I was in 4th grade, Daddy was still a stay-at-home dad.  Daryl was a hyper 7-year old and Ken was a toddler.  needless to say, we were a handful and Daddy was doing the best he could.  he asked me for Ken’s Batman cup because Ken refused to drink anything if it wasn’t in that cup.  Ken was throwing the biggest fit and when i couldn’t find it, Daddy was at his wits end.  he got out of his chair and opened the dishwasher.  there it was, Ken’s elusive Batman cup.  he picked it up and tapped me on the head with it.  not knowing his own strength nor predicting that i would brace myself, the cup shattered to pieces.  i instinctively put my hands on my head and it added to the force…i needed 11 stitches on my right hand.  my mom, being an OR nurse, was in the room assisting to fix me up at the hospital.  i remember the look on his face when my hand started bleeding…like he regretted everything in an instant and he just broke the most precious thing in the world.  i forgot about it immediately, but he never did.  i think he was reminded that it’s his lifelong mission to always protect me…and protect me, he did.

as predicted, I became a rebellious teenager.  i’d love to say that it was normal, but it was WW3 and 4 everyday between me and my mom.  as expected, Dad was caught in the middle of it every single time.  when I moved into an apartment my freshman year of college, he would show up with random appliances and groceries and would leave with the words —

“don’t tell your mom.”

it became our thing.  i’d work hard to make ends meet, Dad would notice i was broke, he’d save the day, and i wouldn’t tell Mom.  his surprise visits were my highlight.  even when i faltered, he never treated me differently.  when all the world would remind me of how i fucked up, it was like Dad and i forgot it even happened.  it helped me get through in knowing that my dad always believed i could do better, and i was more than what i’d done in the past.

he would continue being my knight in shining armor even well into adulthood.  i moved into an apartment by myself, with no roommates or boyfriend at 26.  Dad and my brothers helped me move and on the first night, he had brought clothes to change into and house slippers.  he expected to stay there with me to make sure the apartment was safe.  Daryl made fun of him and told him to “cut the cord”.  Dad laughed, but i think he was really serious.  he got diagnosed with the Big C shortly after, and my world fell apart.

one of my best friends died the following year of cancer 5 months after being diagnosed, and my aunt was told she needed a colostomy to treat the cancer they found in her.  i felt like everywhere i looked, there was the Big C rearing it’s ugly head.  i was depressed and looked emaciated at 76 pounds.  if he even mentioned being tired, i wasn’t eating.  if he was nauseous, i was nauseous.  even though i slowly became sadder and sadder, the more positive and encouraged he was by contrast.  he would mow the lawn after chemo treatments and help anyone with their car or home.  for a long time, many wouldn’t believe me when i said my dad was sick…because he simply didn’t act or look bald, pale, or frail like you’d expect from the movies.  the only sign that something was off was that my dad went vegetarian…which by default is a complete red flag since he loved meat and was known to whip up pork chops and beef steak every week.  so like a good daughter, i went vegetarian too.

i wouldn’t have moved to LA a couple of years later if it wasn’t for him.  he urged me that life is short and i need to follow what i want to do with my life.  i didn’t want to leave him, but i think he just knew that i wasn’t taking care of myself anymore.  in LA, i could be far enough from him that i could forget that he was sick.  and since no one around me knew him, i could live in denial and live in perpetual bliss that my dad would live until a ripe old age and attend his grandchildren’s high school and maybe even college graduations.

i met my husband in LA.  i dated him a few years and i wasn’t planning on ever getting married.  marriage just wasn’t for me.  every phone call i had with my dad, he asked me or my husband to get married.  every visit during holidays was the same conversation.  so when my husband proposed, we decided to plan a secret wedding to surprise our families.  i know my dad.  he would give me every cent in his bank account to spend on the celebration and he and my mom would invite the entire world.  we wanted it to be just his day, no one else’s, so we orchestrated the happiest day of his life so that he could walk his one and only daughter down the aisle in front of 84 of the most important people in our lives.

unfortunately, the universe had other plans.  he fell and we found out that the cancer metastasized to his bones and his brain.  i was devastated…i knew that meant it was going to be downhill from there.  we decided to come home and tell him in person about the wedding so that it would give him something to look forward to.  we videotaped the whole reveal and i gave him the best news he’s ever heard.  he cried and said he was so happy…but under his breath, with no one else hearing but me and the camera, he said –

“now I am ready to go”.

i told him to shut up and stop kidding around…but i saw in his eyes that he meant it.  i tried to forget it for the next 7 months in hopes that i just imagined it…he was struggling walking with a walker, and couldn’t even stand on his own.  but just as he wanted, he escorted me down the aisle and swayed during our father-daughter dance with the biggest smile on his face.

i’ve spent the last weeks doing nothing but staring at his photos and the video from that day.  it helps me forget the look on Dad’s face days before he got admitted to hospice.  i Facetimed him and asked him if it was time for me to come home…he just looked at me silently, and i knew he was telling me what i didn’t want to hear.

i don’t want to think about him on a bed unable to move or keep his eyes open when i finally arrived.  i don’t want to envision how much skinnier he had gotten from lack of appetite or his inability to eat or drink anymore.  most of all, i don’t want to hear his moans of agony as he was struggling to take breaths the morning before he died.

even when he got diagnosed almost 8 years ago and i kept telling myself that he was dying to soften the blow, nothing could’ve prepared me for when he’s actually gone.  everyone’s heard of a daddy’s girl…they’re related to one, dating one, bestfriends with one, married to one, or one themselves…but there’s no daddy’s girl quite like me.  where every decision, every move, and every life choice meant nothing if it didn’t cause a reaction from my father.

and the most painful thing about him being gone is that there are no more moments of pride, disappointment, elation, or anger in phone calls or conversations we share from here on out — that connection and bond between us completely dissipated.  the day i was so afraid of even hearing about at as a child is finally here…and no amount of crying or forgetting or pretending can make him take it back.


a letter to the world…

DISCLAIMER: This was initially a text written for my family and important females in my life…then I realized that it’s meant for the rest of the world. Please refrain from bigoted, racist, and ignorant remarks on my comments, it will be deleted and you will be blocked.

today is a weird morning, girls. 

it’s very surreal because i am truly scared for my life.  i walk everyday to the train station alone and walk amongst many strangers also up at the crack of dawn and heading in whatever direction.  in previous days, i am completely engulfed in my music and trying to wake up to get the day started.  starting today, i walk with the paranoia that a strange man will fill his head with horrific thoughts — that because he is white and moderately upper class, he can assault me, impregnate me, and still be absolved of all sin because i am the one who will be prosecuted because i aborted his sick spawn. 

is this what women in the Middle East feel like?  that to be safe, i must cover my body and my face?  that the shackles of oppression are really made to protect me?  or do i still continue to be at risk for hateful crimes because choosing to cover my body would make me appear Muslim and this is a world of Islamaphobia.  do not kid yourself, world…this is a dangerous place if you are female, queer, non-white, Muslim, or all the adjectives and statuses that make you different.

this is a very fearful time in our country and i can’t say that I am proud to be an American at this moment, especially as a non-white female and a child of immigrants.   how do I hold my head high at the thought that when I get off work, i have to do it all over again. 

walk alone to the train station surrounded by strange men…and attempt to feel safe while knowing that half of them agree with the man that was voted in yesterday.


there’s something eerie about how calm and at home i feel at the airport while my flight is delayed.  though i’ve traveled more than the average American, it only brings me to the tree falling in the forest philosophy…

if i travel and no one saw the video and photos, did i really go?

hey, it’s 2016, right?

i’ve been tinkering with the prospect of chronicling my adventures around the world for a few years now, but haven’t quite decided what medium i’d go with.  i’ve attempted to go the traditional blogging route with photographs, but it seems that my perfectionism paired with procrastination has turned into my largest hinderance, haha.

i’ve consulted with a few friends that are avid YouTube creators and they were supportive of the idea of me joining the community.  i don’t know why it feels so unnatural given that i pretty much vlog my way through my trips via SnapChat, but i’ve been quite hesitant to jump into it full force (regardless of all the resources i have available to get it going).  i gather it’s due to a fear that i will lose who i am by attempting a new medium…a risk that i’m not too sure i’m willing to take.

in addition, i was a lot more into it when i had gotten my twoyearroommate/LAbestie/brotherfromanothermother OJ to agree to do a joint venture for our shared love of travel…but when that took forever to get started, the enthusiasm slowly faded away.

the push to try again comes from an unlikely, yet refreshing source — my maternal cousin, Mary.  she and her twin sister are attending universities at two different cities in Europe, and with no question, she decided to post videos of her daily life.  this comes as a surprise because she has always been the introvert between the two, yet in just a few videos, she’s made my supposed “risk” the smallest of issues.

i think the best way to get myself to go through with the plan is to make sure i am accountable via announcement on this beloved platform.  so here i go, an announcement.

my relaunch…kinda.

stay tuned for blogs and vlogs
found in the section above entitled “life of i”
but in warning, there is no timeline at the moment 🙂

just a thought: #32

sometimes i have to really take a step back and consider that not everyone has the capacity to be automatically introspective.  i’m not saying that i had it all down pat from the moment i came out of the womb, but i’d like to think that i had enough sense to work on it after enough people approached me about it.

i’m a firm believer in no fucking excuses.  that’s literally something i apply to everything in my life as well as an expectation i have of others…case in point, i’ve been told that i can be pretty hard on everyone in my social and familial circles.

in reality, it’s all in the approach.  “quick to listen and slow to speak” has always  been a difficult feat for me — but once i had the practice, i found that my relationships became more of a blessing than a burden.  deciding to transform expectations into objectives and reminding myself that not everyone has the same foundation or situation in life kept me looking for ways to build up instead of tear down.

i mean, that’s why we’re all here right?   at least, that’s the purpose i’d rather focus on.


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