The Strangers We Meet

Six days after getting back to Manila, I hopped on a bus and went to Baler, a small surf town in the north-eastern part of Luzon. The weather wasn’t perfect, I just wanted to get away. It was definitely unplanned and I had no place to stay or anything. I’m glad I had friends who covered me for the first few days, who also kept me sane and company. I moved to a hostel on my third day and kept pushing my stay. I ended up spending a lot of time in the cafe of the hostel, working or just hanging out and having beer. One local called me out on it as when we met the night before I had a bottle in hand, and when he saw me the following day, I have one again.

Being alone actually felt nice, of course some days are shittier than others and the nights are the loneliest, it’s when I miss TinderBoy the most. But also, being alone allowed me to meet and talk to people. As I was having a conversation with someone I met one evening, he asked, “Do you always talk to strangers?”, and I realized I have been talking to a lot of strangers. I met a really nice Burner, a Filipina – who by the way we’ve already interacted through FB, the stranger who asked me that question, and a group of friends from Manila.

I’ve been to Baler so much but that last trip was by far the most interesting experience, believe me when I say that, I’ve stayed in Baler for a little over a month, but this two week trip beat that. One extremely busy night in the cafe, I had no place to hang out since I no longer have a room to stay in, and I intend to travel back to Manila that evening, I ended up bussing tables, talking to customers, handing out utensils, calculating tabs, and even taking and serving small orders, all the while I was downing bottles of beers. As I was having a cigarette outside after what seemed like a very long night of just trying to kill time, someone greeted me and talked to me. We ended up having more beers, and he thought I was working for the cafe as he said I gave the menu to their party. We had a couple more beers and he invited me to meet his friends, all were very nice. They were concerned when they found out I had plans of leaving at midnight and insist on me staying in their room. Such sweet kids they were, I asked why they trust me so much. I ended up staying two more nights and hitching a ride with their group back to Manila.

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Darling, This is How You Broke My Heart

Mindlessly swiping left to a bunch of guys on Tinder, I recently became single and meeting people have been exceptionally difficult especially if you’re not making an effort to. I ran out of boys, again. I was about to throw my phone out of frustration. I have not been hanging out and meeting new people, and I feel like I’ve been hanging out with the wrong people which is probably the reason why I can’t meet new friends. I installed Tinder because I enjoy flirting. Something I wouldn’t admit, but it’s true. Half the time, I’d be too scared or anxious, I wouldn’t bother meeting people I flirted with online.

Oh, hey, new boys, there I saw you, your photos were too far and or too goofy, I thought you weren’t bad, actually kinda cute. I swiped right, and hey, we matched! You sent me a message telling me you’ll arrive in the morning and wondering if I know of any place you and two buddies can stay, being the anxious person that I am, the first thing that came to my mind was “Definitely not where I’m staying else I’ll be forced to talk to you”, so I told you to ask the van drivers, it was a quick chat since you sent me a message at an ungodly hour. If I remember correctly, I checked up on you later that afternoon and you replied in the evening as you were catching up on sleep. You asked if I have WhatsApp since chatting in Tinder is sketchy, you said, I hesitantly said yes, and you gave me your number and I sent you a message. We would talk on and off, ask about how our day went, I also told you how I wanted to go up north, but no one will drive for me and I’m too cheapskate to pay for a habal driver, you asked for a pin on the map, and you said it looked cool. Somehow, you were able to go  up north and I didn’t. (My fault, I was preoccupied with the wrong things.) You were able to identify how I’m not spontaneous, and how the littlest things worry me. As I’m nitpicking our conversations now, I realized how easy it was to open up to you.

One evening you sent me a message asking what I was doing but I only replied the following day because I think I was asleep. It was a Sunday night when I agreed to a new found friend to party with her since she didn’t want to go alone. I was looking out after her, having some beers and hanging out with a boy I shouldn’t be hanging out with. My other friend arrived almost the same time as you did, and there you were. I knew it was you, and I thought, damn, he’s really cute. Yes, you didn’t look drunk, but you and your friends were crazy dancing and it was quite amusing, never told you but I loved the energy you guys brought to the party, I was laughing my ass off out of amusement. I looked at you again and you caught me, didn’t know if I should say hi or even just smile. I looked away, and thought to myself, I don’t want to put myself in an awkward situation since I’m with someone that evening. I’ll be honest, I was drawn to you and kept checking you out. I think you disappear into the night, and couldn’t find you as I was scanning the bar.

The morning (or afternoon) after, I remember the night before, and I sent you a message asking if that was you last night. You said yes and didn’t want to say hello because I was with a boyfriend, I told you he’s not my boyfriend, and you didn’t pry. Still making vague plans of actually meeting, I realized it’s my last week in the island, and I told you about it. You wanted to pick me up from the laundry shop but I declined since *surprise-surprise*, I was too anxious to meet you.

We made it happen tho, that evening, we met up at a restaurant near your place, had a couple of beers and talked the night away. As it was closing, you suggested to go to my place and hangout some more, buy a few drinks from a store. I (reluctantly) agreed, but I’m glad I did. You fixed my sliding door, and we talked about everything. We also watched a lovely French movie, as you said, it’s a *must* watch. As it was past midnight, we said goodbye, I walked you out, I was sitting on a ledge outside and you gave me a hug, I didn’t know how to react, and you said “No hug back?”, and I realized, silly me, I did not hug you back. So as you were sitting on your bike, I gave you a big hug, and told you it was really nice meeting you.

he following day, we were constantly texting each other, and you came back to my place to take a nap as I was finishing some work. By dinner time you left since you have prior commitments, and I thought that was it for the day. As I finished my work, you said you wanted to hangout some more, I was worried cause you’ve already had a few drinks and my place was a little down the road, and it was raining too. I didn’t want you to drive a motorbike while buzzed and raining. You came, you came that evening, reeking of alcohol, still cute tho. We listened to music, watched a few stand up comedies, and I remember telling you I’m worried you might be bored, you said that you liked just being with me. The tension was there, and this thought came into my mind if you were going to kiss me. We called it a night, and decided you’ll crash in my place instead of driving all the way back to yours. You were very careful when touching me, it’s as if you didn’t want to offend me. I let you hug me as we were about to sleep, the tension was too real for me that I had to ask, ‘Do you want to kiss me?’, being the funny guy that you are, you said “Not with my alcohol mouth, I don’t’. You always make me laugh with your quick wit and quips. We make each other laugh, which may be one of the reasons why it’s easy for me to like you. After a little bit, you threw the same question at me, “Do you want to kiss me?” and I tried to be funny and told you “Hmmm, yeah, why not”. And we did, better than I imagined. Good kisser, this boy. But then you said I’m very difficult to read, which puzzled me. But now, thinking about it, I was tensed as we were kissing. I think that’s just who I am since I was feeling nervous about you, I wanted to impress you, ended up mindfucking you.

The following evening, you came by again, it was an interesting evening as the boys I was trying to avoid ended up hanging out by the restaurant at my place, you were enjoying my misery, and I couldn’t help but just laugh at the annoying timing. You know how to make me laugh, you know how to calm me down when I’m feeling extremely anxious, you always know the right words to say. That evening, you told me again how difficult I am to read, and I told you to tell me about it, we talked as if trying to figure out the science of this problem, I opened up to you, told you my fears and worries, and you opened up to me. You hugged me wholeheartedly and assured things will be fine. That moment I knew, this boy holds my heart, he’s been making my heart full without even realizing it. The connection for me was so intense that I can’t even put it in words.

The following days, a friend is crashing by my place, and you said that a little break is good. My friend and I went surfing, and the shop where we rented boards was a place that made me more anxious, as I was fidgeting with my stuff, I looked up and saw you, you found me, somehow, in that little island, I told you how anxious I’m feeling and you said it shows, I feel as if you can see right through me, you calmed me down, as always. While in the water, you almost ran over me, and you were proud of what you did, grinning like a child when you approached me. You tried to tow me to the lineup, but that failed. It’s okay tho, I still had fun.

hen my friend left, I asked when you’re visiting me, and you said the following day, but you ended up asking me to order pizza that you’ll pick up so we can have a pizza and movie night. As soon as you got to my place, you told me how it was nice to see me, you gave me a big hug and a kiss. We ended up having pizza, and not watching a movie. Much better tho, we talked as usual, I love listening to your stories, tickle wars and you fell asleep as I was massaging your head. You were too lovely too look at, and much more to be with. You left as I had plans that night.

The following day was when you told me your fears about us, our non-existent relationship which you made clear from the start, you were worried that it might turn something else, and you wanted to end whatever we had. I was confused, and hurt. We didn’t see each other, until my last night in Siargao, I asked for a goodbye and you obliged. I was having dinner with my friends when you dropped by, you honked your bike’s horn trying to get my attention and trying to embarrass me a little, you made me laugh, you gave a hug, and you kissed me. We bought something for your sensitive tummy, and had a small chat. I was really hoping we could stay in touch, at least try to continue what we have, when I said it out loud, I realized how sad it was, but I didn’t want to give up. I hugged you real tight and told you what I wanted, you gave me a little hope, but you didn’t cave. It was the first time you told me that you missed me, and I was surprised when I heard it. Your actions are different when we’re together and when we’re texting now.

Long story short, I’m still hoping. My heart can’t find the strength to accept that this is the end of the line for us. You undermined what we had and I think that’s what break my heart the most.

Now, feeling lost as ever, cause if you know me, you know how good I am at moving on, it’s one of my skills that I can move on quickly. But not from you. I have yet to accept how things are. And everyday it kills me. Much worst than everything seems to remind me of you. Some days I feel like I regret meeting you and letting myself like or fall for you, most days I’m lost.

I have deleted my account in Tinder and I have uninstalled the app, I’m afraid I would not meet anyone else like you, have a connection like ours. I was told that I should be thankful that at least we happened and that connection as such exists. Day by day, I have this push and pull with my head and my heart that I can’t seem to understand. Feeling lost as ever, my soul and my heart knows you’re what I want, but my mind is telling me to be realistic, and to just accept that this is how it is, and how it will be.

It was a short-lived romance, hell, me moving on is taking longer than our non-existent relationship. Some people don’t understand, and even myself sometimes, but I know what we had was real and beautiful, and it’s what makes me love it so much.

Maybe not in this moment, or even maybe not in this lifetime. But my dear, you hold a place in my heart that no one can and will ever replace.

Be Where You Want To Be

The world is your home, there are tons of opportunities everywhere, you just have to find something that suits you.

 

 

After living in an island for almost two months, which let’s admit, it’s a pretty short time. Something I’ve learned is you have to find a place where you’d rather be. I’ve repeatedly said this, but most of my time in Siargao, I was unhappy and have had on and off bad episodes of depression and anxiety. But then, some moments, I was thinking that I should be grateful because no matter how miserable I felt, I was surrounded by the beauty of nature and of people. Then it hit me, I’d rather be lonely in a place I choose, over being miserable in Manila.

 

 

I get asked if I even have a job and how I’m able to travel for weeks or months at a time. I do, I have a full time job, a part time job and a few responsibilities in between. One thing about ‘digital nomads’ is the continuous self improvement, getting new skills, learning new things, and sometimes, especially if you’re just starting out, you do it for free – as training. Which is what I’m trying to do, learn new things and earn experiences. I don’t have it easier, actually, when I was still working in my corporate job, it was waaaay easier. I go to work, finish my 8 hour shift, be done with it, and earn a lot. Now, I have to work my ass off, having two to three jobs is normal (and sometimes, not enough), so I can sustain my life of travel. I can stay at home and not have to worry about paying rent, but when I’m elsewhere, I have to pay rent, my food, the usual living expenses. I am on my own when I’m not at home, which makes it more liberating.

 

 

People have been telling me how rich I must be or I must have a shitton of money because I’m able to travel around and stay in places for long periods, but it’s not even about that. It’s really choosing what you’d rather spend your money on. In Siargao, my source of income was my full time job. And, I realized I could save more money if I’m wise with how I live. I could take more jobs to get an accommodation. There are millions of opportunites for you, you just have to know where to find them.

 

Right now, I’m feeling very undecided and uncertain as I can get another job in Manila, I’m getting that job to expand my skill set, and I’d really really love to get that job, however, that will tie me to Manila for an indefinite period of time. Another job opportunity is in Siargao, which I’ll be honest, I’m very tempted to take. But, same sentiments, I’m not sure if I want to live in Siargao for a little longer period. Maybe I’m still feeling heartbroken over what happened, and I don’t know if I want to return to Siargao. A small part of me does, and maybe this is the heartbreak talking, but I don’t think I’m ready yet.

 

Being around the ocean calms my soul. And that’s where I’d rather be. How about you, where would you rather be?

 

The People I Met in Siargao

I have been writing, rewriting, deleting, and leaving whatever I started for the past x days. It seems that I have no words to actually describe what I want to share. I was asked to share about my life in Siargao but I feel like it’s really nothing worth sharing. I didn’t have adventures nor toured around the island. I guess if I were to share what happened, it would be about the people I met.

I spent most of my time in Siargao either working or holed up in my room, to the point that the owner of the place I’m staying at got concerned that they only see me during meals, but then I’d disappear into my room again for three days straight. I have had bad episodes while I was in Siargao, where I had to force myself to do mundane daily tasks, which is why I’m almost always in bed sleeping or just laying around. If I didn’t make it clear enough, I broke up with my boyfriend of almost four years, along with some decisions I should or should have not done.

So, being the (ambivert) (forced) solo traveler that I am, I had to find ways how to socially charge, and I’ll introduce you to the people I met in Siargao. I may have given a background through my last entry, but I may or maybe giving more details here so I can introduce them properly.

Island boy reintroduced me to the hookup culture, something I knew back in the day (LOL), before I became in a relationship. My relationship with Island Boy was nothing but alcohol and sex. To the point where I had to go to a bar cause his ass was high and drunk and he booty texted me. My adventures with Island Boy was fun and crazy, nothing more. We barely talk, and I don’t think we really know each other. There are some quirks I noticed, Island Boy likes his eggs sunny side up with runny yolks, he mindlessly ‘claps’ his feet together before crawling in bed, I noticed him doing it quite a few times, he’s left handed, and he likes the perfect amount of cuddling, which isn’t too annoying, quite a good kisser too, I must say, he also like Adele’s Hello to put him to sleep. He snores heavily, and sometimes would talk in his sleep. I don’t regret being crazy with Island Boy, he taught me how to loosen up, and he’s the boy I wish I met when I was younger, who I made out in bars without care and who held me close when someone tries to flirt with me. He made me feel good when we’re together, but makes me feel like shit when we’re apart, the mind games, push and pulling was something I’m reminded of. And, like any fuckboys, Island Boy moves from one girl to another. And it’s not something I did or didn’t do, it’s just who he is.

Manong (I’d like to call him that, even tho I’m older than he is) was introduced to me by Island Boy. I didn’t truly mind him, he seemed nice. He’s the only one who didn’t tease me with Island Boy, and he’d say hi to me when he sees me. We bonded over bottles of beer talking about whatever, existential crisis included. I’ll be honest, I’m not all too sure if I lead Manong, but I don’t think so. I mean, I treated him as a friend, didn’t flirt with him or anything to my knowledge. I treated him as a really good friend, I enjoyed his company. One evening on a party, Manong became ‘touchy’, which I feel like is out of character. Somehow, I let him be. Maybe I enjoyed the attention. I feel a little betrayed as I started questioning his intentions, I feel like the ‘friendship’ was just to get in my pants. Manong was my wakeup call, I felt like my bad decisions were snowballing.

My wifey, is this lovely German lady who loves dancing. When she’s feeling bummed, she would dance the night away. She became my ‘wife’ as it was the easiest way for us to get rid of guys who just can’t take no for an answer. I remember telling someone, ‘Yeah, I’m sorry we’re married’. And that’s when the wife thing became a thing. She lives with her friend, and both ladies are lovely. Good listeners and have so much to say, too. They’d constantly remind me to not think about the problem, rather think about the solution. They kept me sane when shit hit the fan with Tinder Boy.

I want to talk about Tinder Boy but I don’t think I will, yet. We’re still kinda in each other’s lives and I’m uncertain with what we have, so until we get that shit together, I guess I’m not gonna talk about him fully, yet.

Of course, I met locals who are more than worth mentioning, people who’d annoy and tease me all the time. Would ask for cigarettes during parties. They’ve been nice to me (but would annoy the life out of me. CONSISTENTLY.) and my life in Siargao wouldn’t have been as interesting without them.

mari_fotor

 

Dear mom,

It’s been crazy out here, I’ve been making choices you wouldn’t be particularly proud of. I went partying two nights in a row, I wasn’t drunk or anything, but I know my choices and actions aren’t something you would approve of.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned Island Boy, the boy who broke my heart – just kidding, he kinda stepped on my ego. But then I realized it’s really not me, it’s him, it’s not about what I did or didn’t do, it’s just who he is. Other than the shitshow we had, he’s taught me how to be carefree and just to enjoy life. Our short-lived non-existent relationship reminded me who I was before being in a long term relationship, it’s actually nice.
I also spent quite some time with this guy, he has a long hair and lots of tattoos. He’s been very nice to me, listening to me rambling on and on with my existential crisis. He made a move on me two nights ago, and for whatever reason, I let it happen. And I let it happen again the following evening. Ma, he’s not the kind of guy you’d want to see me with, but he’s a really kind person. I’m trying to avoid him cause I just don’t want to be sucked in the same drama I know how it will end.
I met up with a boy I met on Tinder. We had a couple of beers, and ended up going back at my place, he fixed my sliding door and we watched  a really good French movie. We didn’t do anything else, Ma. He’s genuinely a nice guy. He’s been visiting me at home, but is very respectful. He’s been making me laugh a lot, too. Ma, he’s really young, but I can say he’s more mature than I am. It’s easy to talk to him about the past and the present. He’s a really good listener and I’ve been learning a lot from him, too. Ahh, ma, he’s so beautiful. And I don’t mean just physically (but you should see him, ma, he’s very good looking), he has this beautiful soul you can’t help but be attracted to. He sees goodness in things.
I’m coming home to you Mom in a few days, and I feel like it’s really time to come home. I don’t know what’ll happen to me in Manila, maybe all of this is just a dream, and going back home is me waking up. I’m feeling uncertain if I grew from this experience, or if I learned anything more that what I already know.
I don’t know how much I’ll take home from all of this, if I get to keep the beautiful connections I made and that scares me. I don’t know, ma. What do I do?

Beauty in Being Lost

I told a good friend of mine how I’m feeling lost and she said I’ve been lost ever since I left the corporate world. I honestly don’t know if I agree with her or not, but then again, I guess there’s beauty in being lost.
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My three weeks here in the island is almost coming  to an end, a whirlwind of happenings and emotions. So far, I lost a boyfriend, got a tattoo, lost a friend, gotten to realize the people who truly love and care for me, met new people along the way and I lost myself, oh, I also found out I last longer in hard drinks vs beer.
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I’m very much tempted to ditch my flight back to Manila as I’m too scared to fly back. I’ve always complained how much Manila makes me miserable, and I’ll be honest, I’m not having the time of my life here in the island, and I’m feeling lonelier as ever. Yet, the idea of going back to Manila dreads me so much. I’ve thought of escape routes, like Cebu, Davao, and even Palawan, just anywhere except Manila. My family has yet to find out what happened to me and I’m really just tempted to send them a Viber message, just because.
I’m looking for opportunities and so far, the universe has given me an unconfirmed one. And I’m taking this as a sign from the universe that maybe, and just maybe, I need this. Maybe it’s for my sanity. Or something else. Or maybe, just maybe, this is just the beginning of something more beautiful, scarier, and a fulfilled life.

Don’t let your Filipino mother stop you

… from emancipating. From living your life how YOU feel like you should live it. From traveling. Or even having a travel life. Okay, before I begin. Let me just explain first. I am not in anyway encouraging you to be rebellious towards your own mother or anything.

I’ll introduce you to my mother and I’ll explain my living set up so you have an idea how I live and why I’m saying this. People have been telling me how lucky I am that my parents are supportive, and I’m not gonna deny of that fact. I will say how truly blessed I am.

My mother, Elsie, was born in a strict family. Her mother, my grandmother, almost entered a convent, “escaped” (that story was told very vaguely to us), married young and became a housewife. A traditional Filipina housewife, back in the day when their role was to take care of the family and isn’t allowed to meddle in her husband’s business. Elsie, born in 1938 (please do the math), was the eldest of 12 (?) children. My mother would tell me stories as to when she’d be invited in the party, her father would have one of her sisters, ask her to go home after 30 minutes. Elsie grew up in a strict household.

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Elsie moved to Manila and was a working student in college. She had her fair share of suitors, being the beautiful that she was (and still is). My mother met my father when she was 30+. They were in a relationship for 3 months (this version varies, sometimes they’d say 5 months), and married after. She had five children, two of which were miscarriages. And I am the youngest and the only girl.

My mother raised me as if it was in the 1930’s. I wasn’t allowed to go out, my curfew was before the sun sets. As I grew older, my mother and I would fight – mostly she’d get mad at me, I never answer back. When I was 18, I stopped schooling and took a part time job in a call center, I worked in the mornings and I get off work at 1PM. If I am not home by 2 or 3PM, she’d send me an angry message asking where I was. Even at the age of 20, I am not allowed to sleep over elsewhere, I had a curfew of 10PM. If I get home later, I’ll never hear the end of it. I’d still be grounded at the age of 23. I’d push my limits sometimes. She’d allow me to travel, but I have to ask permission two weeks in advance, and a constant reminder to her a week until the day of my travel. She’d always say, “I can’t sleep well knowing that not all my children are home”, and yes, that includes my brother who’s 13 years older than I am and has his own family. I really believe that if my mom CAN keep us all under her roof, she WOULD.

Only a few months ago, she was so pissed off at me for wanting to go out at 8:30 in the evening. Yes, only a few months ago, I’m 26. I talked to my dad about it (crying and complaining) and he told my mom to stand down.

Over the years, I’ve learned that I truly had to gain her trust. She’d be less mad if I text her every hour or so, or if I actually ask permission (sometimes, this doesn’t really work). At some point, I had an opportunity to work far from home, she put some thought in to it, let me took the job, but at the last minute, she told me – using her loving, motherly tone not to take it.

Now, I still have to have a few days notice when I’m leaving Manila. And when I’m away, she’d text me everyday when I’m coming back. I have come in to terms that it’s who she is, and how she expresses her love to me. She’s not out to make my life miserable. She’s just concerned.

At the end of the day, I had to understand where my mom’s coming from. Why she’s always so strict with me. She’s worried, she doesn’t trust this world. She’s concerned for my future and she only wants the best for me and my life. But, I have to make her understand how I want to live my life. And with that, we met halfway. She lets me go out now. She lets me travel a few weeks at time. And every time I come home to her, I would tell her stories and I see how she appreciates them and I feel she’s happy when I’m happy. Any mother would be, any mother would. Your mother only wants your happiness, and when they see it, they’ll trust your decision.

Now, I know you’ll tell me. “You don’t know my mom, she won’t listen to me”, I’ll ask you, have you talked to her and have you listened to her side?

mari_fotor