Category Archives: my two-cent cupcake

5 Coming Out Problems (and why they don’t really matter)

Today is National Coming Out Day! And what better way to celebrate it than to reminisce on all the ways we homosexual people have come out! While for some, coming out may be a glorious moment where they finally put their fear aside and decide to be honest with themselves and everybody else, it can also be agonizing and extremely unpleasant for others.

I’ve written my first post about homosexuality a few months ago here, but I don’t think I’ve made my point quite clear. Well, the whole point of that post was actually that coming out of the closet should be a choice. We should be free to decide whether we want to admit that we’re gay or not. Like they say, “Being a homosexual is not a choice, but coming out is,” but is it, really? What with the trouble that comes with it, it hardly seems like a choice. Once you’re out, you’re bombarded with prejudice, discrimination, bullying, and the like.

So for National Coming Out Day, I’ve decided to come up with a short list of “coming out problems”

1. Jargons and Euphemisms

jargonThe term “coming out” seems to have become common knowledge now, but I have talked to people who still don’t know what it means. It’s kind of frustrating when you tell someone “Okay, I’m coming out of the closet,” and they just look at you weirdly then you’d have to explain. Sometimes, we homosexuals (and bisexuals, but for simplicity’s sake, we’ll just use “homosexuals” from here on) also like to use euphemisms to make situations less awkward, like “I’m a vegetarian” or “I’m AC-DC.”

“You know, I’m queer,” “really? I think you’re pretty normal”

So yeah, jargons and euphemisms may make it a little less awkward, but it can be very very frustrating as well.

2. Stereotyping

Let me just clarify first that stereotyping is quite different from discrimination. Stereotyping is a very normal thing that everyone does because we have this code in our brains that tells us that this should be like that, so as to organize data. That said, there’s nothing really wrong about stereotyping, but it can be annoying sometimes. I’m sure most of our “straight-looking” homosexuals have been told, “you’re joking right? You don’t look the least bit gay,” many times.

I’ve once been told, “your hair is too pretty to be lesbian hair.” I’m sure she meant well when she said that, but that sounded more like an insult than a compliment. Which brings me to my next point,

3. The “sayang” or waste

I just had to stick Ricky Martin's sexy homosexual abs somewhere

I just had to stick Ricky Martin’s sexy homosexual abs somewhere

In the Philippines, when someone finds out that an attractive person is gay, you’d usually hear, “Sayang siya!” which roughly translates to “S/he’s such a waste!” So what, gay people can’t have attractive partners? If you’re a Darwinist (which I highly doubt you are) and your line of thinking is actually “S/he’s such a waste, s/he would’ve made beautiful babies,” then you’d still be objectifying the homosexual, and yes, it would still be insulting.

4. Timing

“This sausage is really good, honey, would you like some?” “No thanks, dad, I’m a lesbian.” “WHAT?!” “What?”

Boy, that escalated quickly! But to be honest, it’s really hard to find the perfect timing to come out, especially to someone you’ve known for quite some time. I’ve written about how accepting my mother was when I came out to her, but it’s a whole ‘nother story with my father. Let’s just say he’s not very fond of gays and that he’s said some things I’m not proud of. Don’t get me wrong, I love my father, and if given the chance, I would totally want him in my wedding walking me down the aisle. But right now, I just can’t find the right timing to come out to him. Truth is, I’m hoping ten years from now, he’d just figure it out when I’m living with my girlfriend and trying to adopt a baby… or a husky pup… or both… probably both… most definitely both.

5. Social Media

One of the supposed easier ways of coming out is through social media,fb gay where all of your family members are probably stalking you. You’d think it’d be so easy just posting “I’m gay” or simply changing your relationship status. Ha! Think again. “I’m gay” is probably the most over-used post by hackers. Nobody would really believe it. I don’t know about the other cultures, but here in the Philippines, young women like to “play house” and pretend they’re married to someone from the same sex when they’re really just best friends, taking it as far as posting it on Facebook. I have friends who call they’re best friends “wifey”, “my boo”, and other romantically endearing terms supposedly saved for the real thing.

Fact is, social media is just a page on a monitor where you can choose to put whatever you like with nobody stopping you. What you put there does not necessarily have to be true. So no, not even an instagram of you kissing your homosexual partner will prove that you’re really gay.

Most of these things on the list have already become instinctual reactions to us that we just brush them off. I know some gay people who even set these coming-out-traps themselves. It’s become “the norm” so why fight it? I’ll tell you why. It’s still demeaning. Even if you don’t mean it, it still comes out badly, and it still hurts sometimes. Plus, you’re contributing to the societal point of view that “gay is synonymous to the lesser” (thank you, Macklemore) with every demeaning thing you say. The “sayang” term? Yeah, it kind of sounds similar to when you say, “oh he became a drug addict and a convicted murderer? that’s such a waste.” The term faggot or “bading” in the Philippines is used in disgust, used to belittle people.

Not very encouraging, yeah? Well, like I said before, coming out is not really easy. The problems I’ve posted here are just the trivial ones. Homosexuals go through way worse things than these. But in my opinion, none of those hardships would matter as much as not being able to love freely. Everybody tells you how hard it is, but no one ever mentions how beautifully easy it becomes afterwards, when you’ve got your partner’s hand entwined in yours.

CHOOSE LOVE

CHOOSE LOVE

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Fantasy, the Not-so-mortal Instrument

Two things, before I begin:
1. I have not read any of the books of The Mortal Instruments, I’m only basing this on the movie
2. I am not a Twi-hard. In fact I have not seen/read any of the Twilight series productions

Number two is there because the recently released The Mortal Instruments (TMI) movie was supposedly targeting the Twilight fans as an audience, although they apparently failed to please this target. Maybe the fans thought it was a poor repetition of their favorite vampire love story, I dunno. To be honest, I kinda liked it, which is why I’m writing this right now.

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This is not a review, as I am not a movie critic. I know nothing about film technicalities or the art of acting. This is merely a presentation of a different perspective when it comes to movies/books like this. Truth be told, I only watched the movie because I saw a promising cast, including the lovely Lena Headey, whom I have a major cougar crush on (don’t judge me, I fell in love with her way back in Imagine Me and You when she was younger.) I didn’t know anything about the movie except it was a Fantasy movie. I was even quite a bit disappointed when I heard the American accent of the main protagonist, as I thought the cast would be purely European (I’m not racist, I just really love European accents.)

Since I didn’t know it was a Twilight-ish movie, I had high expectations, coupled with the wonder of why it wasn’t getting any hype at all here in the Philippines. Well, I wasn’t all that disappointed, nor was I impressed. I’d say it was a 6.5 on a scale of one to ten. The graphics was great, and I say this with all confidence because damn, I was so freaked out by the creepy looking demons! The setting, as mentioned by other critics, was very Harry Potter-like, which means it was pretty awesome too. The plot was decent enough, with its fair share of twists and turns. The actors did well in general. So what is it about this film that exuded a huge sigh from the masses? I for one think that the answer falls in the genre itself.

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The Iliad

The Fantasy genre dates back to the BC days, a prime example being The Iliad and Odyssey by Homer. This just shows that there have been countless pieces of literature written in this genre, and while there have been variations and personalizations, the mythical creatures involved have been the same through the years. TMI was no different, presenting the audience with the same vampire-werewolf rivalry, the applications of runes, and the use of a pentagram in relation to black magic and demons. Suffice to say, there was nothing new in that aspect, except maybe the application of nephilims as shadowhunters or demon hunters. Nephilims, or part-angels, have not been present in most of modern fantasy stories, which for me, was a huge plus for TMI.

Question for Fantasy fans, what new or innovated creatures were present in Harry Potter and Twilight? As far as I know, there are none. So does this not put TMI at an advantage? Okay, creatures aside, what about plot? True, TMI’s plot was not far from other plots in the genre, but with the age of film, it would be hard to think of a plot that hasn’t already been used. I found the story quite refreshing, and I honestly can’t wait to read the book. I don’t want to put up spoilers, but I just have to say this, I’m very happy with the outright presence of homosexuality in TMI! (Although Magnus’s first appearance was shocking on the verge of disturbing.)

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Note the lack of pants in his own party. With people. Lots of people.

Let me pick up from that point to go into the aspect of target audience. Since both Harry Potter and Twilight were for teenagers, it would be assumed that TMI is also for teens, which is probably what the producers may have thought as well. After all, most fantasy films are for teenagers. Personally, I think the story itself would’ve been better off interpreted as an adult film, what with the issues of sexuality, and even the freaky demons (if I watched this as a teenager, I might have had nightmares. Yes, they were that ugly.) But the movie was presented for teenagers, hence the light and “romantic” energy it gave off. That silly little romance scene at the garden-thingy with fireflies and flowers almost made me hurl, if not for the awesome soundtrack of Ms. Demi Lovato playing in the background.

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Ah, I almost forgot to mention Magnus’s party, CLEARLY not meant for teenagers (that is if you want your teens to grow up decently.) The setting was obviously erotic, enough to make me awkwardly shift in my seat because I was watching it with my parents… Anyway! Speaking of setting, as I mentioned, the Institute where most of the events were, was most incredibly like Hogwarts. Even the infirmary looked like an exact replica of the Hogwarts infirmary. This would’ve been a good thing if TMI came before Harry Potter, but unfortunately it did not. But again, I blame the genre. I mean, can you think of a grander scene than the castle of Hogwarts for a fantasy film? I think not!

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This is the hot homosexual (even in a lesbian’s perspective) played by Kevin Zegers

Now let’s look at character development, a very important aspect for series-followers. Honestly, there wasn’t much to speak of, but hey, how much did little Harry change when he was in his first year at Hogwarts? We’ll have to wait and see if these characters grow in the coming sequels. However, I would again like to compliment the complexity, if not the development, of some of the characters; the serious homosexual hot guy with issues, the other homosexual guy whose only issue is his lack of pants, the father figure who seemingly betrayed the protagonist’s trust, and even the wise old man who has agoraphobia. True, the other characters like the protagonists seem like tiresome one-dimensional stereotypes, but they do have their own quirks.

Well, now that we’ve covered the aspects, I hope you readers see why I blame the genre. The story alone is pretty good, but because it was in this genre we’re all too familiar with, and because it came right after the enormously-successful Harry Potter and Twilight series, it made us all raise a skeptical eyebrow and think, “what’s new? I’ve seen this all already.” But do consider the facts I said before, Harry Potter did not really give us anything new too. Don’t get me wrong, I love the series, and I love Ms. Rowling, but I’m merely stating a fact.

So there you have it, folks! My two cents worth on the movie, The Mortal Instruments. If I were you, I’d go watch it and judge for myself. Thanks for reading!

A Peek in the Closet

gay-men-in-the-closetOn this day exactly a year ago, someone showed me what life was like in the closet. Now for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term (don’t worry, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. idioms can be a pain sometimes), being “in the closet” means publicly denying that you’re a homosexual. And for those of you who don’t know, well, I am, myself, a homosexual. No, I have not been in the closet for more or less three years now, and yes, I am quite sure it is not just a phase.

I’ve never actually written about homosexuality, because I feel like it’s too open-ended; too many opinions, too much complication. And even now, when I finish this post and share it on Facebook, I will be hiding this from a group aptly named “The Closet” consisting mainly of my extended family and some adults that I totally respect but whom I know would look at it with disdain and distaste without even knowing it.

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this is what they’re gonna look like

There, now we got that out of the way, let’s get back on track. As I was saying, a year ago, I had the pleasure of having a heartfelt dinner conversation regarding this matter. Well, I wouldn’t say it was all pleasure. After all, my companion had been crying to me, pouring out feelings I have long since forgotten. Back then, I was trying to be the strong one, staying calm and reaching out, letting her know that life isn’t so difficult. Now, I’m not so sure.

so funny it's right!

yeah, because those things will REALLY happen! *sarcasm*

You see, I’m blessed. I was raised in a (nuclear) family where every rational opinion was recognized and every voice was heard. When I came out to my mother three years ago, tears streaming down my face, she just smiled and said, “okay”. I was a bit taken aback by her casualness. I asked her, “so it’s alright for me to just tell people I’m gay?” and she said, “yeah.” Well, I guess she wasn’t surprised, raising me as the tomboy that I am. I’ve also been blessed to have entered a university that valued open-mindedness and acceptance, where support came easily from my friends.

That said, I found it a bit hard to imagine what she must have been going through. I thought, maybe she was just exaggerating. Maybe her friends and family wouldn’t really look down on her as much as she thought. Maybe she wouldn’t have to keep hoping her feelings would change and one day, she would wake up a heterosexual. Admittedly, back then, I felt myself blaming her for staying in the closet. I just didn’t understand how she could keep pretending to be someone she’s not.

Well, did we? DID WE?

It’s a sad life, having to keep things from your friends and family; having to introduce your girlfriend as your friend; having to make sure nobody who knows you is around before sharing an intimate gesture; having to lie about schoolwork just so you could keep going out on dates; hearing your own parents speak about what you’re going through as if it was some kind of lethal disease; and the worst part is, wondering if there’s a future for you somehow.

Quite a number of people have shared their stories with me regarding their sexuality (I guess it comes with finding out that I’m a lesbian), but for all of those people, I’ve never heard anyone say with certainty that they’re going to have a bright and beautiful homosexual relationship in the future. And when I ask why, they can’t even answer without falling back to society.

A word rooted in hate, yet our genre still ignores it. Gay is synonymous with the lesser -Same Love, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Quick plug: listen to that song, Same Love, and REALLY listen to it. I still get tears in my eyes even though I’ve seen the music video countless times. Point is, Macklemore was right when he said that in our society, people still look down on homosexuals. Even if we claim that we’re a more accepting people than before, we still make faggot jokes (or in our case in the Philippines, bading jokes) that are degrading. Remember Charice Pempengco? How many trash talks did she get when she came out? How long did that issue last? It’s sad really.

Even the simpler things, like having to point out that you’re gay, can be difficult. You’d have to endure the interrogation that follows right after, especially the “are you sure?” part. I watched a video once where the interviewer asked random people 2 questions: 1) do you think that being gay is a decision? 2) so when did you decide that you were straight? Also, gay is often related to promiscuity. I don’t get it though. Heterosexuals can be as promiscuous as homosexuals, even more. Why can’t a homosexual relationship consist of more than lust and lewdness?

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tables turned, how do you like hearing those?

With all those in mind, I finally understand now why this person decided to stay in the closet. I see it as a sort of paradoxical conflict. It’s easy to stay in because you wouldn’t have to continuously fight for your feelings and beliefs. You’d just have to conform to the norm. But then again, it’s also difficult, because you’d have to hide your feelings. You’d have to put on a mask, one that isn’t easy to bear. And if you end up marrying someone from the opposite sex simply out of respect for the norm, well, we all know how badly that could go. I guess it’s all just a matter of how strongly you feel about it, how much you want to fight for it. Because believe me, neither path is easy. In or out, it’s going to be a difficult life. The only difference is, it’s a much freer, brighter, and more beautiful world outside!

But yes, I get it now. Some people feel safer in the closet. Well, good luck with that! Hope you find your spells and incantations-oh wait, that was a cupboard- or your vast land of snow-oh wait, that was a wardrobe- bah! There really isn’t anything wonderful in the closet, dears, just a lot of mothballs and dust.

Red Velvet, At Last!

I am a bedridden, unemployed bum today. Okay, not really bedridden, but I’m suffering from costochondritis, which is a fancy word for sternum inflammation, and it hurts at different levels when I move the wrong way. So I decided to go to wordpress. Honestly, I’ve nothing insightful to blog about since there’s nothing insightful going on in my life right now. But let me get to a topic that probably a lot of you have wondered about: why is my blog called sweetasredvelvet? It’s not even a baking blog!

Well, dear reader, you’re in for a treat! Two, even! First, allow me to finally explain in detail why it is called as such. If reincarnations were true, and if we could reincarnate into anything at all, I would be a red velvet cake. Yes, a yummy, rich, smooth red velvet cake! Don’t fight it, just nod. This blog, dedicated to all sorts of things, is inflicted with my red-velvety insights, my philosophies, and advocacies. Most of the time, they’re strong like the flavor of chocolate on red velvet, yet they can be sweet like the icing on top. Posts can be quite voluminous, like the red velvet, yet they’re soft in a way. Most importantly, the color red symbolizes a lot of things: anger, love, passion, fire; but what all of them have in common is strength. They say red is the most striking color. You notice it in an instant. I’d hoped to build this blog that way, striking, passionate, and with love.

Now that you’ve absorbed all that crap, let me take you to the real treat! Yessir, I’m going to post something legitimately related to red velvet! My microwaveables adventure! 😀 Honestly, I don’t know how to bake. Heck, I don’t even know how to turn on the oven (which is a the hard part, because baking itself, you can find on the internet :P). So one day, I decided to try some of the mug cakes I’ve seen on the net, which only requires a microwave (*fist pump* yes! I can handle that!)

my personal fave, choco-nutella lava cake!

my personal fave, choco-nutella lava cake!

I’ve tried a lot, experimenting here and there, but the more decent ones are here in this album. Oh, there are some Tagalog words, so sorry foreign readers. But it is still understandably English :P. As you can see, all of them are based on recipes you can already find online, so suffice to say, it’s really easy to learn how to make ’em. I have this site in particular to thank, because most of my adventures start from there. If you don’t really have a sweet tooth, no worries, just search “savory mug recipes” instead. There are lots too :).

So there, a red velvet related post at last. Hope you enjoy the recipes! 😀

Autism: Above and Beyond

When you meet one person with special needs, you’ve just met one. There are a lot of different others. -Gerard Joseph Atienza, Autism Self-Advocate

Today, I had the honor of meeting a passionate self-advocate of autism, a teacher, and a blogger, the “autistic big bro” himself, sir Gerard. He spoke for my former organization, the Ateneo Special Education Society, and afterwards I got to sit with him and talk. I’ve been following his blog for a while now, and I have to say, I’m a fan. He’s really quite inspiring. 20130715-002854.jpg

I became an even bigger fan when I got to talk to him. The quote above is just one of the beautiful things that he said in his speech. Our talk after his speech had a more personal vibe, and it was amazing how easy it was to talk to him, considering I don’t do well with talking to strangers, let alone people I idolize. He told me a lot of stuff about himself, and I felt that I could do the same, so I told him about my plans for studying Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy as a masters degree. He gave me some advice about it, told me that a background on special education would be helpful, seeing as it goes hand-in-hand with intervention anyway.

I had a similar conversation just this week with a neuropsychologist. She told me that maybe I should get a stronger foundation first on something more general, because ABA is a specialized field already. Long story short, I didn’t really take her advice. But now, to hear a similar suggestion from a person with autism AND a SpEd teacher himself, I am definitely reconsidering.

I’ve only met a couple of autism self-advocates in my twenty-one short years, but they have never ceased to amaze and inspire me. Sure, the neuropsychologist I talked to was very nice and had a lot of credentials, but there’s one thing she didn’t give off that the self-advocates did: passion. I’m not talking about the dramatic story-telling tear-jerking kind of passion, but simply the easy conversation wherein you can feel that, “this is something worth listening to.” I’ve had the same experience with a father of a person with autism, who was the first one to inspire me to pursue this career. He was simply talking about his son, and just quickly mentioned the need for more therapists in the Philippines, and he got me.

Autism advocates are amazing that way. They inspire without even trying. I asked sir Gerard what steps a self-advocate can take to show people that persons with autism are different, not less. He said, “well, this; by simply being me.” I don’t think I’ll ever get to cover how inspiring they are by writing about it. I’ve had a year-long thesis about that and it didn’t turn out so inspiring. I guess you just have to hear from them yourself, to get the feeling. This much I can say though, considering what they’ve been through as persons with autism, it would take a lot of strength, courage, and faith to keep fighting their fight. It’s not easy, but they do it, and they don’t just survive it, they shine in it, going beyond expectations and showing “ability over disability”; showing that they’re as human as you, me, and everyone else, that their condition does not define them.

Thank you, sir Gerard, and all the other autism advocates out there, for continuously showing the wonderful side of humanity, and for simply being.

Make Way for the Minion

Game reviews aren’t really my thing, which is weird for a gamer-writer like me, but once in a while I find a game that’s just too good that I have to write about it. Now this game is special, because after downloading it, I’ve been playing it for an hour now and it took every ounce of will in me to stop just so I could write about it.

Despicable Me's Minion Rush

Despicable Me’s Minion Rush

The new Minion Rush game, starring our very cute minion, Dave, was released just yesterday in the Apple app store and I’m not sure when on Android’s Play store. Now let me share a little something about myself. I usually play these games after waking up and before going to sleep, which means I play them lying down on my soft comfortable bed while resting the iPad or the Samsung Galaxy S3 beside me, which means I play while lying on my side, which would then mean that most of the games I enjoy playing do not involve tilting the device. I enjoy simple pressing games, no tilting. Games like Temple Run don’t really get touched in that dusty folder in my iPad.

crush those little minions!

crush those little minions!

I was a teeny bit annoyed when my little minion had to die first to find out that there were phases in the game where I was required to tilt the device. But hey, it’s cool. For normal gamers, this phase is just one of the awesome variety of phases in the game, which makes it exciting and fun. For lazy gamers like me who lie on the bed, well, it’s a little sacrifice to make to lie on our backs and tilt the device. I’m saying that this game is fun enough for me to get out of my gamer-comfort-zone.

ooh! shiny cars!

ooh! shiny cars!

There are other interesting phases in the game. You start out in the lab first, where the minions work with little rockets and despicable stuff. But then I was surprised when I found myself running into this black thing with nowhere to go. Next thing I know, I was up in the streets, with buses and cars! And then there’s the Vector phase, and plenty of other surprises ahead! If the ba-ba-ba-ba-banana collecting isn’t fun enough, the minion-bumping called “despicable actions” are sure to make you giggle. Or at least, smile a little.

Another adorable thing about the game is the losing part. Yes, losing is adorable. There are different ways to lose here as in any runner games, such as falling and bumping stuff. Well, the adorable part is that there are different “reactions” for each of these! If you hit a rocket in the lab, the minion cowers and covers his head! Adorable little things…

Gameloft has really outdone itself with this one! Amazing and detailed graphics will sweep you off your feet as you play for the first time. Ingenious quirks will meet you along the way. And the adorableness of it all will keep you playing for a long time. This is a keeper. Go ahead and download it now! Minion Rush. Thanks for reading, and munch on!

Daghang Salamat, Sugbo

Taoist temple (photo not by me)

Taoist temple (photo not by me)

Cebu, an island in the Visayan part of the Philippines is known for its rich historical landmarks such as Magellan’s cross and the Sto. Niño Basilica, and for other more aesthetically pleasing sites such as the Taoist temple and the butterfly sanctuary, not to mention the cute colorful jeepneys that go around town. I’m sure you’ve heard it all before, and if you haven’t, well, it’s all over google anyway.

I just recently came from this wonderful place, and had a long mental list of things to do and see. However, upon arriving, I saw the most beautiful, most wonderful, most breathtaking sight Cebu had to offer, Forever 21 and Payless. SM Cebu was right beside our hotel and boy, did that change things. My plans went down the drain. Hey, I am turning 21. What better sign than that to shop at Forever 21? (Okay, I’m making excuses now.)

Radisson Blu hotel bedroom

Radisson Blu hotel bedroom

After that awesome first stop, I head back to the hotel room. We were staying in Radisson Blu.They have excellent WiFi connection, nice cozy lights, a bath tub, and a walk-in closet (I have a thing with walk-in closets, and no, I don’t think it’s a gay thing). Well, shopping–or rather, window shopping can be tiring. So I plumped in a warm relaxing bath, and just like the water, my adventure plans went down the drain.

So now that I’m back, I can’t help wondering if I wasted my trip. But then, I quickly pushed the thought aside. I’ve seen the Cebu sites many times as a child. Of course I don’t exactly remember all of it. I had a great time. And I finally got to ride a plane again after four years of being trapped in the busy life of college. I missed it. I missed accompanying my parents to these trips, even though I don’t understand much of what their doctor friends discuss. I missed the thrill of the plane’s take-off and landing, and the beautiful view from above. I even missed the airport, albeit its long lines.

All throughout high school and college, I made a lot of effort to do exciting things and (pardon the term) YOLO things within the cramped vacation breaks that I had. Now, with absolutely nothing to do, I find myself choosing to do the simpler things. Yes, I know, I’m getting old. But you know, it’s not so sad. We’re often told to “stop and smell the roses”. So, that’s what I did. That’s my version of “stop and smell the roses”, even though it may not be everyone else’s. Plans are just plans. More often than not, they fail. And sometimes they just don’t seem like the right plans anymore. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. And there is absolutely nothing wasted in that day I spent in Cebu.

Thanks for reading! Munch on!