Unlock your fullest potential

There are epiphanies that we suddenly realize as we grow old. If we are to compare ourselves from who we were a year ago, five years ago, and ten years ago, we’d notice that we changed a lot because of our experiences. I find this constant process of discovery as an interesting journey. You have these expectations about who you are and who you will be and yet you surprise yourself that you have turned out different. As we tread these changes, I think the consistent theme in these different phases of our lives is, we can be at peace with where we are when we are making sure that we fully unlock every version of ourselves, and hopefully before our last breath, we can say that “I have exhausted everything, I did everything that I possibly could.” There will be no regrets nor what ifs.

The next question is, “How do you unlock your fullest potential?” I can only speak based on how I approach life and what I have learned overall, and that is by breaking it in to tiny, actionable steps. 

1. Make an irrevocable decision about the life that you want.
       When you know where you are going, there will be less mental burden about the decisions you’ll be making. Decide what kind of life you want, without any sort of guilt. Do you want to be a millionaire? Do you want to travel all over the world? Do you want to live a simple life on a hill or in the middle of a forest? Ask yourself this question everyday, “What do I really want?” and listen to your gut’s honest answer. Write it down. To be honest, I feel sad whenever I meet someone who is just wasting precious Earth time wandering aimlessly. We all have moments of uncertainties, but at some point, you have to choose your path. Ten years from now, what does a beautiful life look like to you. Make it as detailed as possible and then that’s it, that’s the life you want.


2. Schedule it. 
      If it’s not scheduled, it’s not getting done. This is just honest advice. If you keep on saying that I want to be financially successful, or have a family, or a car, and you’re just sitting there on the couch and praying to be abundant, I hate to break it to you, but it’s not happening. You have to put it in your calendar and make time for each step that will take you closer to the kind of life that you truly want. Start small. Take those baby steps which might seem insignificant at the moment. You’ll see that those tiny actions will accumulate and result to something great, something that only sheer hard work could ever do.


3. Eliminate anything that brings you down. 
      Are you spending so much time on social media? Do you have thought patterns or belief systems that aren’t helping you rise? Well then it’s time to let go of them. Turn your phone off when you have to focus and just concentrate on whatever task is at hand. Stay in the moment you are in. If it’s not making you a happier and better person, then let go of it. It could be a bad habit, or a dragging relationship, or even people who disguise themselves as friends. Choose your energy. Make sure that even if you plummet in to negativity a few times, you still take steps to keep yourself on a higher energy vibe.


4. Ask for help. 
      You are not an island. You belong to a species of organisms who need socializing. The news, COVID, financial setbacks, illnesses, they all are heavy to carry alone. The thing is, you don’t have to face every single one of them on your own. Ask for help. Be brave to humbly seek assistance whenever you need it. I can’t tell you how this simple step changed everything for me. I used to be the person who wants to prove that she doesn’t need any help from anyone. It’s pathological. This attitude has allowed me to be strong, independent, brave and extremely self-reliant, but it also made me a loner and somehow it closed my doors to opportunities and relationships that could have been good for me. Be self-reliant, but when you need help, please ask for it. 


5. Surround yourself with people who want to see you win. 
      Be careful who you spend most of your time with. If you just gossip, drink, or watch TV with your friends, I hate to break it to you, but you are not with the right people. If you want to become successful, you have to make sure that you are in an environment that will allow you to grow at the level that you want to. Talk about goals and how you are achieving them. Discuss ideas, passion, and creativity. Generate that energy of relentlessness. Assess if the people you are with want to see you win. Filipino culture taught us to value family, but sometimes extended family members can cause too much toxicity. You will get opinions you didn’t ask for or unwanted visits and demands. If that’s the case, stop complaining, save up, and move out. If they are not helping you, just get out of that negative space. You can’t possibly grow in a soil that isn’t capable of providing the nutrients that you need to achieve your highest potential.


6. Expect setbacks. 
      This is not a world of unicorns and rainbows. But I guess you already know that. Following your passion or chasing a dream can be equated to going through loopholes with fire on its outlines. It’s like running on a track with lanes with shards of glass or burning coal. It’s kind of morbid but there will be times when you will want to give up because it’s hard and painful. Circumstances will get out of control just when you think everything is okay. Expect setbacks, my love. There will be highs and lows but just hold on to hope. Keep the faith and know that nothing is permanent, even trials.


7. Have a go-to person. 
      To say that we have that one best friend is false in my opinion. I have a friend that I confide in depending on what I am going through. I hope you have these people. They will give you honest advice and a listening and non-judgmental ear. Having real friends is very comforting. They get you back to your senses when you are getting off track. They will patiently hold your hand when you are still healing. How do you have these people? Be a friend. Be a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on for others, and when it’s your turn to be punched by the world, someone will always be there for you.


8. Come back stronger. 
      When setbacks happen and you feel like you can’t take another blow anymore, rest. Allow your body and your mind the time and space for recovery. Stop pushing when you know within yourself that you are mentally and physically exhausted. This time frame varies for every person. When you are already rested, roll up your sleeves and with courage, start again. You have learned the lessons, and now it’s time to use that wisdom in getting back up. Know that you are strong because you have gotten through the unthinkable. Nothing is impossible for someone who doesn’t have the phrase “give up” in their vocabulary. 


9. Give. 
      Having a generous heart will allow abundance to flow in your life. I have proven this repeatedly. Whenever I feel like there isn’t enough money or when I am scared, I give. It may be my time, or any form of help that I could give. Surprisingly, abundance follows when your heart is not guarded by the scarcity wall. Volunteer for an advocacy you believe in. Serve. Just give not because you want something in return but do it because it feels good to make others feel better.


10. Surrender. 

For me, life is 50% what happens to you and 50% of it will come from your actions. We can do so much with our precious 50%. When I wake up every morning, I do my best to keep things in order and accomplish the tasks that I need to do so that my dreams will come into fruition. But I also know that there will be circumstances and forces which are out of my control, and so when I pray I surrender that 50%. “No matter how this day goes, I will do my best and the Universe will do the rest for me.” It was hard for a control freak like me to utter the word “surrender.” However, I sleep better ever since I accepted that things will get out of control, schedules will get ruined, annoying people will pop up, but how I perceive these circumstances and my legwork is all that matters. Surrender your dream and each moment and eventually you’ll get there. 

Finally free

Too often we dream about doing great things, reaching for the stars, going as far as we can go. Maybe that’s why we are consistently exhausted. Keeping up with the speed of the world can be really taxing. I am having this existential crisis of wanting to shine, to be something, or someone. It has lessened in intensity, but I’lll be honest, I want all this to go away sometimes. I just want to be happy and contented with where I am.

I used to like being able to do it all, to be the person who can do this and that. I am the quiz bee girl, the dancer, the singer, writer, public speaker, top employee, class president, a good teacher, a soul who revels in adventure, and all those other things. I am happy that I can do all this, but I admit, I did so many things and trained myself to be good at a lot of things, until the light burned out.

What is left of me, if the light has burned out?

What I saw was who I really am. I am this simple person who looks forward to quiet mornings while sipping ginger tea. I like reading books that keep my heart at peace. I love talking to God and conversing with my Dad in heaven. I like cuddling our dogs. I love lazy afternoons with my boyfriend. I love playing with my baby brother at five in the afternoon. I love endless talking with my sisters. I enjoy so many things other than being at the spotlight and performing all those skills that I could do.

Maybe this is me getting old. Or maybe, I am just unveiling who I really am in the first place. I am not a competitive person anymore, but instead I aspire to be really competent in the line of work that I chose. I love listening to my body and giving it what it needs, to the best of my abilities. I am not as neurotic whenever things don’t go according to plan. I give grace, when people come short of their responsibilities, because, the world is toxic on its own, why should I add up to the mess.

I honor my lazy days, but I do my best to be as productive. I forgive myself more often. I choose love, as often as I could. I am happy, just by honoring who I am at the present.

Comparison Island

You wake up and start your day. You scroll on your newsfeed and saw an endless gallery of milestones. You started out the day good, but ended up feeling inadequate because you have been trapped in the dark tunnel of comparison. We know that being stuck there is an absolute poison, but preventing ourselves from feeling envy can be a herculean task since browsing at other people’s profiles is just at our fingertips.

I admit, I have been trapped in the ‘not good enough’ vortex, far longer than I should. There are just times when I feel that if only I have this or that, I would’ve achieved more or become more. However, thinking that way won’t do you any good. You will just feel bad about yourself, and feel bad about feeling bad.

The question now is, how do we get out of this funk? Here are few of my practices which have saved me so many times. I hope that these may help you as well.

1. Sleep.
Sometimes you just don’t have enough sleep that’s why you feel snappy. Sleep allows your body to recalibrate and recharge. Biologically speaking, your cells regenerate and toxic metabolites in the brain get cleaned out when you sleep. If you have a good night’s rest you’ll be a more loving person, you’ll be fun to be around with. Sleep makes your skin glow better, and it amps up your focus. Maybe you’re not envious, you just need sleep after all.

2. Get off of social media.

I’ll be honest with you. I feel extremely lucky that I grew up in a pre-digital era. Internet wasn’t that accessible and not a necessity back then. Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram wasn’t there to pressure me to have a feed worthy life. I don’t have easy access to nose around other people’s lives. These times are more challenging because, we can just scroll and then end up feeling bad about not having those highlights. Most of us aren’t conscious enough to realize that social media is an illusion. Practice being aware of your feelings. If you tend to compare yourself to these people who have seemingly perfect lives online, just pause and uninstall. Dedicate healthy boundaries with the internet. I have deactivated my twitter account for almost two years, and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I also uninstalled facebook on my phone, so that I won’t have easy access to it. Check how you feel when using a platform. If it makes you feel like your life is so bad, get off it.

3. Prioritize happiness.

As an extremely busy person who needs to schedule everything, I often forget to do things that make me happy. I made a pact with the universe that I will choose happiness and make space for more of it to manifest. I rest when I need to, or even just carve 15 minutes of pleasure reading. When I schedule happy time, I become a better person. I don’t tend to compare myself with anyone, because I am busy having fun. So I go for a walk or listen to music. I make sure that I still write on my blog and journal. I watch even just one episode of Modern Family. I eat meals with family no matter how busy I am. My boyfriend and I would still go on dates. I still play wih our dogs or catch up with my best friends. At the end of the day, I feel like I am living my most authentic self, and not sacrificing my happiness for my ambition. I don’t feel the need to compare when my offline life is just awesome.


4. Go back to gratiude.

I will repeatedly tell you readers to always list everything you’re thankful for. A gratitude journal will keep you in perspective and help you not lose sight of your own path. When we compare, it is a sign that we are not using our gratitude muscles or fully appreciating what we have. The mere fact that you are alive, is a blessing by itself. If you are eating and have a decent home, then express that. Write it down first thing in the morning. That attitude of gratitude will elevate your energy and set you up for a more positive day and help you avoid negative thoughts.

5. Write.

When you write, you’re giving yourself a chance to process your feelings. If you are jealous of somebody else’s success, write it down. When you do, you are eliminating the mental clutter that is poisoning your mind. Do not judge yourself for feeling envious, but rather take steps that will move you forward instead of keeping you stuck in the negativity. My personal practice includes writing on my journal about what happened yesterday. Then I write on my blog about ideas that I am passionate to share. You don’t have to be a good writer, because you are doing this for yourself. You can also come back to your entries and actually find it fun to reflect on how you think and perceive in the past. You’ll also recognize that eveything that you used to worry about actually has a way of working out.

6. Use jealousy as a compass.

Jealousy isn’t bad overall. It points you to the aspects of your life that you need to work on. If you get envious with a friend who has a brand new car or who’s getting married, maybe the universe is just showing you the things that you desire or maybe the universe wants to teach you patience and humility. Transform that emotion and energy to your productivity. Maybe it’s time to double your effort or restrategize on your financial and personal goals. Maybe you have to work on your personal growth. Maybe you need to work on having more meaningful and fulfilling relationships. Be unapologetically honest with yourself. Do not be guilty about your ambitions and be relentless in chasing your dreams. Be you and let your surroundings guide you.

7. Do yoga.

I am serious when I say that yoga is magic. A human being has several aspects that make up their existence. You have to take care of your physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and professional health so that you will have a centered life. I have always struggled with my physical health and found it hard to make peace and have a loving relationship with my body. Yoga has helped me respect and take care of my body in ways that I have never imagined. The focus that it requires elevates your level of awareness about yourself. I absolutely became a better person. I make better decisions and I have learned how to listen to my body and choose my thoughts. When a jealous thought arises, I can choose to see things in a different way. I can also easily walk away from activities that cultivate my jealousy and insecurities.


8. Reframe your thoughts.

When I was still working in customer service, I remember one thing that our trainer taught us, it’s perspective management. To quote also one of the greatest mentors Dr. Wayne Dyer, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” You have the power to level up your self-awareness and catch yourself before you fall in the wormhole of comparison. Always reframe. When a jealous thought arises, choose to see it differently. When someone does better than me even though I worked extra hard for it, I tell myself that it’s just not my time and that I am meant for something far better than I could have imagined. This practice absolutely works and it prevents me from feeling shitty. Repeat this mantra “I choose how I feel.” This statement gives you back your power.

9. Practice self-forgiveness.

As a Type A kid, I blame myself when things don’t go according to plan. This habit became pathologic, up to a point that I feel like I cannot live with myself anymore. I tend to beat myself up even for circumstances that I couldn’t have predicted or that were out of my control. I read somewhere that we should talk to ourselves the way that we talk to our little sister. Mind you, I will never talk to my younger sisters in the harsh way that I talk to myself. I only reconciled with the inner child in me when I finally practiced consistent self-forgiveness. When you do this, you feel as if you are enough, just by simply existing. You love yourself even if you know that you are imperfect. You will accept that even if someone will always be better than you, it’s okay because no one can ever be like your own weird you.

10. Let go.

Expectations are just futile. Do the work and keep on striving for your goals and let go of the outcome. Stop the comparison and just stay on your lane. As long as it’s your best then that will always be good enough.

(Photo shows my family, what I’m immensely grateful for.)

Now is all we need.

There are just times when I get so scared,. I’m recently scared because I’ve been seeing flashes and floaters in my eyes more often than usual. I am so scared of losing my vision. I mean, how can I live in darkness, and what if I have a retinal tear or diabetic retinopathy, and all the other worst case scenarios playing in my mind. Inhale. Exhale. Right now, in this moment, everything is okay. I am okay. Everything is okay. We are okay right?

That is just a sneak peek of what’s inside my mind. I somehow find it challenging to be at peace with the present moment. I tend to worry about a lot of things. I feel like the responsibilities are too much and that my plate is filled with so much more than I can handle. The constant feeling of not being good enough and of something bad happening is almost always lurking in the background.

However, I learned recently that worrying does nothing other than increasing my cortisol levels. As I am filled with anxiety, I tell myself this:

You are doing fine and everything will be alright. Just focus on the present moment. You are writing on your blog, on a cold Tuesday morning. You hear the chirping of birds as you lay in bed next to your three lovely sisters. The sheets are warm, the dogs are now playing outside, and the smell of fresh morning air makes its way through every alveoli of your lungs.

Isn’t it a blessing to just spend this quiet and serene moment?

Who ever told you that peace is in the future? It is indeed with me, now. I am at peace, now.

100 Lessons Learned in 2020

As 2020 ends, a lot of realizations come to mind. It has been an admittedly chaotic year. All of us, to a certain degree, are traumatized. I wish I could say that I was on cloud nine but let’s be realistic. More than a million worldwide deaths due to a pandemic is heavy. In fact, I am in awe of how human beings can still handle everything, probably because we don’t have a choice, but, from the farthest corners of my heart, I am proud of all of us just for surviving. Here are the lessons I learned this year. I hope you create a list of your own too.


1. There is magic in spending time with family.
2. Despite the odds telling you that you can’t, you absolutely can.
3. Do not look for what isn’t there, appreciate and be grateful for what you have.
4. The love that is for you will not be forced, it will come as a surprise.
5. Make the first move.
6. Have a power passe.
7. It’s okay to not be okay.
8. Take life one moment at a time.
9. Get a pet.
10. Be mindful of what you consume (social media, news, tv).
11. Yoga does wonders.
12. Meditation will keep you sane.
13. This is not the time to be harsh on your body.
14. Listen to your mentors.
15. When you’re sad, watch Kdrama.
16. If you weren’t productive this year, it’s okay!
17. Quit coffee.
18. Write on your journal.
19. Keep writing on that gratitude list.
20. Watch more movies with your little brother.
21. Think twice or thrice before you post.
22. Stay true to your goals but be flexible with your methods.
23. Communication is key.
24. Everbody’s having a hard time, exude grace.
25. Stop overworking, nothing is more precious than your health and wellbeing.
26. When you’re feeling helpless, help someone.
27. Keep on doing your art.
28. Accept what is.
29. Feeling shitty? Take a bath.
30. Do the workout that is fun for you.
31. Spend time with nature.
32. Stop waiting, start doing.
33. The government, the economy, or any external situation won’t change. Do what’s good for you.
34. Social media is a myth.
35. Structure is key to pandemic anxiety.
36. Keep your study table sparkly and sacred.
37. Stop counting calories
38. Comparison is poison.
39. Honor your body.
40. Drink lots of water.
41. Make an effort to call your family.
42. Everything takes time, especially worthwhile things.
43. Alcoholic beverage is a no no.
44. It’s okay to not be the best.
45. Music is therapeutic.
46. The pain of loss will always be there, but you will learn to live with it.
47. Savor the present moment, you never know when it’s your last day.
48. Make time for your art.
49. You can adapt even in the worst of times.
50. Say I love you.
51. Give yourself a treat, watch netflix.
52. Meditate upon waking up instead of scrolling on your newsfeed.
53. Give yourself a self-care day.
54. Create a schedule.
55. Invest in a good planner.
56. Trust the process, even if the path isn’t clear.
57. You don’t need to follow every self-help guru.
58. Microsteps are powerful.
59. Invest in high-quality content books.
60. Cleaning relieves stress.
61. Just have three goals for the day.
62. Pause and breathe before you react.
63. Be kind to yourself.
64. Breathe.
65. Keep on learning.
66. Stick with the study methods that work for you.
67. Any negativity goes down the drain.
68. Talk about ideas, not people.
69. Focus on what you can control.
70. Are you feeling angry? Put your rage on a page.
71. Have a consistent sleeping schedule.
72. Spend time with nature.
73. You don’t need to add that item to your shoppee cart.
74. Eat less.
75. Learn from every person you encounter.
76. Understad another’s point of view before criticizing.
77. Stop the hate language.
78. Say goodbye to expectations.
79. Be the change you wish to see.
80. Wear your mask.
81. Engage with life. Don’t be passive.
82. Eat meals on time.
83. Prepare for the worst during a typhoon.
84. Recovery takes time.
85. Volunteer.
86. Stop keeping things that you don’t need. Give it away.
87. Honor your pain but don’t dwell.
88. Stay curious.
89. Pray.
90. Trust that the universe has your back.
91. Stop weighing yourself every damn day.
92. Do your best and fuck the rest.
93. A person’s rudeness is a reflection of their own pain. It’s never about you.
94. Maintain boundaries.
95. Unfollow any influencer that makes you feel shitty about your body.
96. Be patient.
97. Choose love.
98. Have faith.
99. Keep going.
100. Surrender.

Let’s talk about spirituality

It doesn’t really matter what religion you choose, it’s about where your heart finds peace.

For some weird reason, probably genetics, I have this habit of asking endless questions. I was never the ever obedient child. I must always know why am I being asked to do something before I actually do it, or why shoud I believe in a cause before joining a certain movement or believing in a specific idea. Sometimes I think, I probably was a scientist when I popped out of my mother’s womb. One of those things that I have kept on seeking answers about was religion.

There’s this curiosity that I tend to gravitate to about the concept of religion. I was raised as Catholic but all I understood about it back then was I have to go to church on Sundays or else I’ll go to hell or my sins will not be forgiven. That was a scary concept but that was how a child’s brain works. I actually find it funny that I used to think that way. I even had anxiety if I don’t attend Sunday service because I honestly thought that I’ll be brought to the underworld.

There are these rituals that we do inside the church. We sit, kneel, bow, memorize and recite prayers. We light a candle and wipe the image of saints with a handkerchief. Sundays were also fun because after mass our family would eat somewhere or visit my grandparents’ house. That was how shallow my understanding was. However, at an early age, I felt a sense of peace inside the church. Even now as an adut, I like the ambiance of it. I feel fascinated with how its environment can bring such calm.

Then I began asking questions, but for some reason, no one could answer them, or at least give me a hypothesis that I am satisfied with. When I pray, my overthinking mind asks me, “Girl, do you even know who you are talking to?” I couldn’t really grasp the idea of believing in God because I really don’t get it, I don’t see, feel, touch, or hear it. The first step I did was to try and understand the religon that I was in. I sang in the church choir every Sunday, I volunteer to be the one of the readers during mass service in our school. I also prayed and talked to the God that everyone was talking about.

I did all those because I was told that I should pray all the time because God makes the wish of good girls come true. I memorized the prayers, and even became the president of a school club that gives importance to God. Even though I still couldn’t wrap my head around the concept of God, going to church after classes brought a peace in me. I poured everything to the God that I imagined whenever I was in the church, a father figure with a beard and emanating light wherever he goes. I told God about our problems at home and the big choices that I had to make. I still don’t get it at that time, but believing that somewhere out there, someone is listening is a good feeling, and it brought me peace.

I went to college, and I tried to be the same prayerful girl. However, that was the time when my beliefs were not aligned with what the priests in the churces I go to were saying. For instance, I am a firm advocate of reproductive health bill, because of personally knowing women who are suffering because of having children even when they are not yet ready, and the child suffers too (Exhibit A: Yours Truly). As a woman I got really offended with some of the remarks of the priest and no matter what church I go to, the topic was the same. I have then gotten tired of going to church.

My aunt then invited me to a Born Again Christian Church, which was cool and fun. I met a lot of friends, and to be honest I enjoyed it because of the music. I started reading the Bible too. I loved Christian songs, and I was also given the chance to be part of the music ministry. But there are still preachings that I did not like at all, especially when I heard one pastor say that when you are gay, it’s like your soul is being burned while you are still alive. I knew at that moment that being in church is not for me.

I still remained open to religion, I became a church hopper. I was like a scientist who’s trying to understand these different religions in a systematic way. I also grew up with a Buddhist bestfriend and my college bestfriend was a Baptist. Then I taught in a catholic university, which probably influenced my brief comeback to the Catholic church. However, everything became clear when I went abroad and spent a lot of time alone.

I surprisingly found peace in not knowing the answers. Meditation, writing, and life experiences became my teachers. I finally accepted that it’s okay to not understand, because no one ever will. I started focusing on doing the things that make my heart feel safe instead of finding answers to my endless questions. I started learning from my experiences, and reflecting on them on a regular basis. I started to see religion as a path, that if used wisely, will lead you to enlightenment. Making an effort to be curious and present in every moment taught me a lot, and changed me into a wiser person. It doesn’t really matter what religion you choose, it’s about where your heart finds peace.

After some time, I understood what the preachers are talking about. I found the love that is unlimited, the peace of God that is within. There is no right or wrong religion after all. No matter where you go, any institution would have their flaws, because humans are running them. It is up to me to listen to what I need and learn even from people that I don’t agree with. Instead of judging and identifying the teachings as either good or bad, I choose to remain curious and non-judgemental. This is growth after all.

At present, I still don’t attend Sunday mass, but I like visiting churches. I love the peace that such a quiet place brings, may it be a church or a Buddhist temple. Wherever my heart is at ease, that’s where I go. It’s a different spiritual journey for all of us. What can I say so far is, spirituality, and the constant practice of reflection and growth keeps us grounded. It has personally given me the foundation that I absolutely need.

Does seeking end here, because I’m at peace? Definitely not. I am now comfortably praying to God everyday, about my thoughts and feelings, the things I’m grateful for. This time, I don’t have an idea what God looks like, but I find peace, in the feeling that I am being guided by a power that is greater than me, and one which is beyond a human being’s understanding. I hope more people would continuously engage with their own spiritual path. Your heart gets lighter, and your mind, wiser.

Lessons From Papa

Mentors are essential in our lives. Indeed, you can be considered lucky if you have one who is just filled with wisdom and knowledge that took them years to learn but then they just give it out like fairy dust. Let me share few of the wisdom that my first and best mentor, my father, Coach Neon, has taught me. Hopefully, you’ll find them helpful and maybe guide you in your pursuits in life.


1. Work Hard
Papa didn’t graduate college. He got married young and had four children. Now that I’m an adult, I can’t help but wonder how he did it. At my age, he already had three children, and yet I remember him as a happy and funny person. They say that kids won’t do what you tell them to do, but they would imitate what their parents do. I guess my dad was able to raise us beautifully because he works hard not just at work or when he’s coaching, but even in being a father. When he has to make a bahay kubo (nipa hut), I see him work hard to finish it even when he’s tired from his job. When we have issues within the family, he works hard to patch things up. When he had to ask forgiveness for a mistake he has made, he worked hard to earn our trust. He shows up not just in the happiest but most importantly, in the most difficult times in our lives. I guess I really got my work ethic from him, although he’s way better at it than I’ll ever be, but whenever I don’t feel like reading more pages of Harrison’s, I see him, and I remember how hard he worked up to the very end of his life, and I feel guilty, because who am I to complain when my dad doesn’t even have the word ‘tired’ in his vocabulary? I have the stamina to strive for my dreams because I grew up with such a hardworking, epic person, whom I admire a lot. I fully understand that in whatever aspect in life, there are no shortcuts.

2. You’re not special. Do the chores.
My father trained us to wash the dishes starting at the age of five. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we may be his princesses, but that doesn’t mean that we are exempted from household chores. I had a self-entitlement issue back when I was a kid. I thought that since I work extra hard to be the best in class, I am excused from chores. Papa wouldn’t take any of it. He let all of us wash dishes, clean our room, sweep the yard, and do our laundry. This is actually a very profound lesson for me. It taught me that the basics are important. I didn’t have issues with cleanliness or hygiene when I was in college because Papa didn’t allow laziness in the house up to a point that I think I have borderline OCD because I just want stuff to always be clean and organized. I knew that no one is going to take care of my stuff other than myself, and that I have to take personal responsibility for everything that I have and the space that I occupy. I’m just grateful that laziness is not an issue now that I am an adult.


3. You are not above or below anyone.
I’m allergic to people with superiority complex. Whenever I see or hear someone degrading another person because of their economic status, or just plainly treating them bad, I get really upset. Why? Because we are all human beings and whether you are the president of the Philippines or a billionaire, if you get hit by a car, chances are, you’ll die. We are all the same. This level of humility has grounded me to treat people equally. This would include being nice to waiters, to say thank you and good morning to security guards, and to give people the benefit of the doubt when they are underperforming. I am not less or more important than anyone.

4. Stand up for what you believe in.
I have very strong beliefs about politics, religion, and society overall. I may not talk about it that much here in my blog, but my dad made me stubborn and taught me to not just accept everything as it is, but rather ask questions. And when I see that something is clearly wrong, I need to speak up. He raised us to be interactive with life rather than just be passive and be okay about everything. Being brave and rational at the same time has brought me places and connected me to people whom I never thought I would have been friends with if I was too shy speak up. Sticking to my principles has allowed me to create healthy boundaries which has made my mind a better place to live in. I had to learn all of this the hard way, and sometimes I ask myself, are my principles too strong? But at the end of the day, I have peace of mind, and I can sleep soundly at night knowing that I lived life on my terms. I chose the people who are around me, and I am surrounded by family, friends, pets, and a significant other that I can fully trust with my life, because of that one big decision of setting boundaries. Thank you Papa, for teaching me to stand up for myself and for the people I love.


5. Love your siblings.
My siblings are the three pillars of my life. They are the source of my courage and will to be successful in this path that I chose. To be honest, I have survived medschool plus Papa’s death because of my sibs. Papa instilled in us that we must always love, support, and understand each other. I have found my bestfriends in my sisters, and our relationship is the major component of my core. Papa just emphasized this repeatedly to us, and when we were put to the test, we have managed to get through every hurdle because we have each other.

6. Choose a partner who will stay through thick and thin.
Unlike my other siblings, I am the daughter who never introduced a boyfriend to my Dad. I took his advice seriously. Study first, and when you have graduated college, you are allowed to have a boyfriend. Sadly, I was never able to introduce Mr. Right because I was single when my father was still alive. However, I asked him a lot of questions on how to choose a man. He often jokes that since I’m the most expensive one, because I’m studying medicine, I am only allowed to date rich guys. Then I asked him on a more serious tone, “Papa, to be honest, do you want me to choose a rich partner?” Then the most amazing words came from my father’s mouth, “You know, it’s not about the money. Of course I want you to live a comfortable life, but, what’s important in choosing a life partner is, you choose someone who will stay through thick and thin. Building a family and raising kids is challenging and life will give you many problems, so you need someone who stays and someone who’s willing to understand, someone hardworking, and someone who will truly love you for exactly who you are.” Since then, I was able to create a standard for the man that I will choose. I know that Mr. Perfect is not there, but so far, I think I chose someone that my father has described.

7. Live your passion.
It was quite hard for me to understand why my father loves basketball. He would train several teams after work and during weekends. His players were like a part of his life. He treats him like his kids and he mentors them. I couldn’t grasp the idea of doing something that makes you so exhausted, and not that financially rewarding, but then you do it anyway. As I got old, I somehow was able to digest it. In fact, I am living my passion. It wasn’t hard for me to quit my job and go back to school because I had a role model when it comes to following your bliss, and it was my dad. Even though he couldn’t play basketball anymore because he had kids, he still mentored kids. His passion for the game overflowed to hundreds of basketball players in our town. I saw it during his funeral. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw hundreds of previous and present basketball players went to the church. The church was congested, you would think that it was a VIP’s funeral. It all sank in that when you give so much of yourself, and live with fire and passion, people feel it. Any form of love that you put out in the universe comes back. His love for basketball inspired me to love the path that I chose in a spiritual level.

8. Forgive.
We are all humans after all. No matter how much we try to be the best versions of ourselves, chances are, we will make mistakes. I admit that until now, I am struggling to forgive several people in my life, but I look forward to the day that I can genuinely say that I have forgiven them. Forgiveness is not about waiting for the other person to say sorry. It’s actually a courageous act that you do for your own sake. It frees you and elevates your consciousness. I saw him forgive people who have clearly wronged him, and even apologized for mistakes that weren’t even his. I still wonder when I’ll ever reach that level of courage and love. But, in situations when I can, I try to forgive, because who are we to not do so? We are but a speck in this universe after all.

9. Whatever it is, face it.
I am a good runner, not in the physical sense, but when it comes to conflicts, I am the champion of bolting when a turbulent situation presents itself. But this is not a good practice. I can’t run from every problem or walk on eggshells just to keep the peace. I have to learn how to solve problems, and talk to people, no matter how difficult they are. He always told me to, “Face your problem. Approach the person concerned rather than complain.” Well Papa it’s much easily said than done. Adult problems are way bigger than my issues back when I was young. However, when you grow up with such a brave person, it’s somehow easier to emulate. Until now, I am a work in progress and I could still do better, but I try to be as self-aware as possible.

10. When you don’t feel safe, walk away.
How will you know if you are with the right people? It’s actually vague to answer but, allow me to describe this in the best way that I can. When you feel safe around a person, that’s when you know that this person is good for you. But when someone’s presence acivates your fear response, makes you second guess, and walk on thin ice, that’s your clue to investigate. He taught us to walk away from things that scares the shit out of us. I noticed that I know that feeling because I have felt it whenever I’m around him, that feeling that you are being taken care of, that he has your back, and that security that even if I make mistakes, this person will still love and accept me. Having experienced that kind of love and safety made it quite easy for me to sift through people, and know when they really mean well. It also gave me an internal compass and has directed me to the most genuine humans. It also allowed me to let go of jobs, people, and relationships that has gone its course.


Even though our father-daughter relationship has been cut short, I can honestly say that all those wonderful twenty five years taught me enough lessons to last me for the next decades that I still have. It is indescribably painful to lose the person that you loved the most, but even though the pain doesn’t go away, I breathe every day knowing that the lessons he taught will forever be etched in my heart and will transcend in the work that I do. The life of the person we lost doesn’t stop on that last breath. In a way, they live through us, and through the life of every person they have touched.

A letter to my journal

I guess you really are my bestfriend. Whoever created words are people that I am deeply indebted too. Imagine a world without poems and songs. I just couldn’t. 

Somehow, words feel as if it’s art. It is a dialect that I’m comfortable in, my safe place, my cocoon. When things are exciting, it’s you, my journal, that I tell these stories too. And when I feel suffocated, it’s you that I turn to.

I am beyond grateful that I have you as my bestfriend, as my crying shoulder and my emotional sponge. I have you to thank for helping me cope with a world that moves too fast for a person with a fragile heart. I have you to thank for being my playground and avenue of creative expression. I thank you, my journal, for being the witness to all the highs and lows of being a human.

My mind cannot fathom how 23 characters can make intangible ideas and thoughts feel so real. It is beyond my understanding how typing on a keyboard or grabbing a pen and paper can give such a cathartic feeling. Writing to you my journal, is one of the most magical things that I am grateful that I can do in this era.

Thank you, my journal, for listening to my rants, for accepting my rage, and for acknowledging that I can have all these thoughts and be rough around the edges, and still be accepted. Thank you for giving me the space to write about the nightmares and for immortalizing the good stuff. You have gotten me through a lot and helped me survive when I was walking in the darkest tunnel. With you, I know that I am safe.

I wish more people would write. I wish more would get to see the beauty that pouring yourself on a page could bring. I wish more would be more reflective of their thoughts. I do believe that if more people write on you, journal, there will be a better generation of humans.

Dealing with pressure

By merely typing the word “pressure” on the keyboard, I feel a little bit of it already. In Physics, pressure is defined as the amount of force per unit area. In terms of life in general, I guess all of us have felt it, a certain amount of force strikes us, often unexpectedly. Some of us are good at handling it. Some would feel immensely overwhelmed and would freeze. Some would sadly, do drastic things, either good or bad, when the pressure is on. In my current situation as a medical student, and in my experiences in this ever dynamic life, I am constantly seeking and practicing ways to relieve the pressure and handle it better especially when things don’t go my way. Again, I am not perfect. In fact I just had a mini meltdown last night. I still have a lot to learn but so far here are the tools which worked for me.

1. Humility
Oftentimes the pressure comes from having a certain level of success in the past. To be honest, sometimes I do feel like I have to be excellent because I have the constant need to exceed the level of achievement that I previously had. However, I realized that this mindset is not serving me. Realizing that those past accolades aren’t me took so much weight off my shoulders. When I read Elizabeth Gibert’s book, Big Magic, she wrote about being a vessel and not the source. I felt so much humility and much lighter because it gave me the permission to just do my best knowing that I am not the genius. That girl who wrote that piece of poetry, or who aced her exam, or won an award, wasn’t me. I am just the vessel, and not the source. The genius moves within me and when it decides to leave, I am totally okay with that. I let it go and thank it for moving through me. I cannot do excellent work all the time, but what I can do is work and trust. Please repeat this whenever there’s too much pressure, “I am just a vessel and not the source.These are not me, it comes from something, bigger than the little me.”

2. Hardwork
Laziness is the perfect ingredient for overwhelm. I am saying this because I was really lazy before especially when I was younger. When you know that you can do a certain task for a short time, you tend to procrastinate. You watch movies, spend hours on social media, or do irrelevant tasks instead of facing the problem at hand. Then, the tasks pile up, other responsibilities will pull you from all directions, and suddenly you are the human representation of a walking backlog and you end up not doing the important stuff that is essential to your life’s mission. Then you feel pressured, overwhelmed, and then you start to become so hard on yourself. You know how you can avoid this? Get off the couch and do something. Put your gadgets on focus mode. Work hard and work smart. Align with your body’s energy levels, work productively, and rest when you must. In that way there is less probability of overwhelm. There will be less pressure because you are on top of things. There’s no hack or easier way than working your buns off.

3. Gratitude
If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I love writing about gratitude. That is because it works. Maybe you might think I’m just saying this because I haven’t been through a lot and trust me, or do a backread in this blog, and you’ll see that my rock bottom almost made me give up on life. You don’t need to feel better in an instant. I just want you to grab a notebook and write even just one thing that you are grateful for when you wake up. This doesn’t mean that you will be a ray of toxic positivity. You will just state one thing, not ten, not twenty, even just one. You’ll soon see that despite any challenge, there’s still something to be thankful for. It doesn’t have to be grand. It can be as simple as the air you breathe or your morning coffee. This attitude of gratitude builds momentum, and soon enough you’ll be able to reframe your thoughts. It might take days, or years, but just do it consistently and you’ll realize that even if there’s too much pressure, it somehow gets lighter as you acknowledge the good things in life.

4. Prayers
Disclaimer: I am not practicing any religion. But I am a firm believer that there is a bigger Being out there, that is too big to be even imagined by the human brain. I have this faith that God, The Universe, Being, Eternal Loving Presence, or whatever you want to call it is trying to manifest something, and that all of us has a part for this creation to come into fruiton. And so, I have made a conscious effort to pray that whatever I do is in alignment with my purpose. To be honest, I don’t even know clearly what that purpose is, but if you have faith, somehow the universe shows you the way. So pray that God shows you the way. Surrender and be willing to walk through the path that is for you. When you have this belief that, every experience is part of your purpose, it takes the pressure off, because it’s not just you who has to make things happen. You are co-creating with the universe.

5. Look for peace and it will come to you.
If you think about problems all the time, believe me there are a million ways to do that, in fact you just need to scroll on your newsfeed and be sucked into the youtube vortex and you’ll find millions of negative content that can feed your mind. These will catch your attention and make you an unproductive and anxious human being. But what if you decide to take the reigns and declare that peace is what you seek? What if you start unfollowing people and pages that make you feel like your efforts are not good enough, that no matter what you do, it won’t make a difference? Believe me, your life will change. Unfollow people or even friends that you tend to compare yourself to, that make you jealous, or afraid that you are missing out. Try focusing on your breath, on the task at hand, on the process. Just try doing things and appreciate them whether it’s good or bad. There is more peace within you and outside of you. Just don’t be lazy in looking for it. Make finding and generating peace a lifelong commitment and you’ll soon notice that when you are overwhelmed, you can always go back to that sacred place within you that hugs and tells you that everything is going to be okay.

You’ll be okay, love.

What is the best premed course?

One of my struggles when I was still in high school was choosing a course in university. Just like the usual sixteen year-old, I didn’t know what degree should I take. No one helped me make these big decisions and since I am a soon-to-be first generation doctor in the family, there was no one that I could ask. So I sought the help of Google, which at 2009, doesn’t have that much doctors talking about how to get into med school. So kids, you are so lucky because, you can now get the help you need online. I asked the opinions of awesome soon-to-be doctors who have different premed courses from me. I do hope you find the help that you need and if you still have questions, please feel free to put them down on the comments section.

BS MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY

PROS: The advantage of being a med tech student is you have months of exposure in the hospital and you will meet people who have been in this industry for a long time. You will have an overview of the ups and downs of working in healthcare. You will also learn about how things work in the laboratory, so let’s say you are interested in pathology, you will understand why some lab results can’t be processed immediately even if it’s a stat request. Another advantage is you will feel that you played a part in the diagnosis of the patient even though you aren’t technically the one handling them. Another plus is, the lab is air conditioned since the machines can’t overheat, hence, you still look fresh (lol). It’s also fun to culture bacteria because of the colors, and it’s interesting to see actual specimens in the microscope.

CONS: The disadvantage that I see is since almost everything is automated, it can get boring, and this might lead you into forgetting the principles behind the procedures, which is bad if you are planning to take up medicine. Also, since you are inside the lab, the only time that you get to face the patient is during blood extraction. It’s the nurse’s job to meet the patient face-to-face. Another thing is, urine and feces will be a part of your life so when you go to med, you won’t be disgusted with these specimens anymore.

Irene, RMT


PROS: Medtech students are proficient in using the microscope for histopath, hence it will be a big advantage since you’ll be using it for your histology and pathology subjects. You will also gain the very useful skill of blood extraction which will come in handy in medschool. You will learn the practical and theoretical side of lab diagnostics which is a must in being a medical doctor plus, you will have subjects that will be useful when you enter medschool such as hematology, immunology and serology, and analysis of urine and body fluids. It will be easier for you to understand the concepts because of your prior knowledge and experience in this field. In addition to this, during your undergrad internship and work, you will have hospital and patient exposure hence, all those nervousness around patients and doing procedures will be off of your list of fears.

CONS: For the disadvantage, even if you have all these knowledge and experience, there will still be tons of concepts and skills that you do not know and it can be really frustrating. However, that’s the point of going into medschool, you will need to learn and learn and learn.

– Ton, RMT


PROS: One of the major advantages of medtech as a premed course are the subjects. Clinical chemistry, microbiology, endocrinology and toxicology are very useful subjects that will help you understand and make clinical correlations especially in internal medicine. We also had pathology, and learned how to do slide preparation and be proficient in using the microscope. We were also given clinical cases weekly, and were trained to determine the laboratory approach needed for a certain case, interpretation of results, and final diagnosis. We also have basic knowledge in pharmacology and experience in doing quantitative research. Overall we have a good foundation in pathophysiology, basic pathology, laboratory work and diagnostics, and clinical correlations.

CONS: Since medtech is an undergrad course, the diseases are more focused on the criteria related to clinical aspects, and not much on the deeper concepts and specific treatment protocols. These things still need to be learned in medschool. We still have a lot to study such as doing physical examination, and calculating drug dosages. There are still so many things that we do not know but we learn as we go through with our medical education.

Josh, RMT

BS PHARMACY

PROS: Pharmacists have an edge in pharmacology. Learning about the mechanisms of drugs and their corresponding physiology is an advantage for us in medschool. And this is such an important knowledge base because basically doctors prescribe drugs. Pharmacology is said to be one of the monsters of pre-clinical years so this foundation will be put in good use not just in medschool but all the more in your practice. You will also have an idea about drugs and their administration which is an important aspect since there are tons of drugs that you have to learn. I guess pharmacy teaches you the skill to analyze a lot which is much needed in the field of medicine.

CONS: The disadvantage for me is pharmacy is such a beautiful and exciting field and it’s hard to let go of your love and passion for it. Somehow, it was easier for me to love pharmacy than medschool. Also there are limited subjects that we know about which are also in medschool unlike medical technology. I also think anatomy is not our strong suit or maybe it’s just me.

Andrea, RPh


PROS: Pharmacy is a good fallback because there are many job opportunities. You can work in public or private drugstores, in a hospital, in the pharmaceutical industry as a quality control officer, in the academe or in research. As a medical student, a big advantage is you will be familiar with the therapeutic category and mechanism of action of drugs, their generic and brand names. You will also know how to calculate the doses of medication, know what medicines, and what dose or stock keeping units (SKUs) are available in the market. You will also know how to counsel patients, and be familiar with drugs’ side effects and drug interactions. You can advise patients about what to avoid and expect when taking a particular medicine. You will also have knowledge about what alternative medicine can be given in case the specific medicine that a patient needs is not available. You will also have a good background in biochemistry, though I forgot a lot about it since that was a long time ago.

CONS: The disadvantage is the clinical skills are not yet there like handling and managing patients. Our background in histology is poor and we have litte knowledge in anatomy.

– Anonymous, RPh

BS BIOLOGY

PROS: Bio graduates are often coined as premeds who know a little bit of everything but is a master of none in terms of clinical skills. One advantage that I can think of is we are trained in doing scientific research. We also have a strong foundation about the cell. We had a taste of anatomy, physiology, histology, molecular biology, genetics, and microbiology, hence, some of the terms are not too jargon when we we studied medicine. We are trained to understand microscopic and macroscopic scientific phenomenon including connecting and correlating ideas. We also have good microscope skills and since we often present scientific papers, we also know how to teach. Above all this, the biggest advantage that being a biologist has is the innate curiosity, the inner scientist, that has helped me open one more page of a book, even when I don’t feel like studying. I get so happy by knowing and learning more and more everyday

CONS: The obvious disadvantages are more on hospital exposure and clinical skills. Being a medtech, pharmacist, or a nurse will expose you in the healthcare industry. I barely knew drugs, I don’t know the protocols for handling patients and I had zero clinical skills and poor knowledge about diseases. How I wish someone could have explained to me that Biology won’t help in these important clinical aspects but still I have no regrets because Biology was so much fun. It compensated for my fatigue in medschool.

– Katey

BS CHEMISTRY

PROS: In Chemistry your edge is you really know and understand how things work in a molecular level, which is the basis of pharmacology. Understanding the pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics of drugs and their reactions would be easier. Your skill in being keen to details will be a great advantage in understanding complex concepts such as cardiac and renal physiology. Since we are also used to reading books filled with graphs instead of pictures, we can power through reading the most boring books (which are a lot) even in medicine. We are also trained in self-studying and analyzing complex problems, which is must-have skill in medicine because most of the time you will be learning on your own. I believe the greatest edge that a Chemistry student has is their attitude and discipline, and their training to be analytical and rational in every decision they make. They are extremely careful, for one tiny mistake can cause a catastrophic effect. They are agents of change and research that is not only important for changing the field of medicine but also in producing a five-star Filipino Scientist and Physician, whom not only accepts what is given but also questions what is presented. 

CONS: Our disadvantage is we lack anatomy, microbiology, pathology and other major subjects that other premed courses have. But you will be able to surpass this because chemists have that fire within them to learn and relearn. This is my edge overall, because as a future doctor by profession, to become one is indeed a lifelong journey of learning on its own. 

-Jessa Jhen, RCh

BS PSYCHOLOGY

PROS: Majoring in Psychology is one of the best decisions I have made in my life. As a psych graduate, you’ll have a better grasp of your mental wellness. Your extensive understanding of the self also allows you to recognize when you are becoming toxic, so you can step back and take a breather. You can manage your human interactions. The psych personality you develop will keep you out of most trouble and in good graces with most of your peers. You can provide some support to your classmates who are emotionally struggling. You also have a mastery of the art of questioning. You get to use it in your daily interactions as well as in history taking. You learn how to effectively extract information in a way that is less intimidating to the patient or the relatives. Your Basic Attending Skills and Psychological First Aid will come in handy in the emergency room, given that you don’t panic when you meet a hysterical patient or relative. You’re trained to detach yourself from your unconducive emotions. Psychology will train you how to be empathetic and detached at the same time. That way, you are able to let patients feel that you care, but you keep yourself at a distance so as to not become drowned in the negative emotions of all the people you encounter.

CONS: On the flip side, you don’t learn much about the medical side of health. You might have to do a lot more catching up than those from other courses. You don’t get many opportunities to practice your profession and you’ll learn of your classmates taking part-time jobs in labs or in pharmacies. If you do manage to get a side hustle, it contributes nothing to your academic performance. Nurses, pharmacists, and med techs get to refine their knowledge when they work. If you do manage to find a job as a Psych major, the knowledge you refine has nothing to do with the field of medicine. Being a Psych grad can also be exhausting. You will always have a classmate coming to you for help, and you want to help them, of course. But it can become too often, or they can come one after another, and you sometimes even set aside your own issues so you can deal with theirs.

BS NURSING

PROS: You will definitely have the biggest chunk of hospital experience among your classmates.You know and understand the inner workings in the healthcare industry hence you’ll have less adjustment time. You will also have clinical experience and a clinical eye way before med school. Nursing students are also proficient in history taking and physical exam which will be an advantage for you to excel in medschool. You will have good clinical skills such IV and catheter insertion, or maintaining tracheostomy. I think the biggest advantage is we have prior knowledge and have actually seen patients with the disease process, and also management. The sweetest part of nursing as a premed course is you are basically trained to understand and read every situation, every move and doctor’s order, and what the physician and the patients are saying. I guess one of the best things I learned in nursing is empathy, and the way of connecting to people. I became more emotionally sensitive compared to my past self, but of course patients are not allowed to see that. You also have a good perspective and focus on anatomy and physiology, bioethics and pharmacology, because you need to be able to explain this to the patient. Nursing is overall a good and holistic premed course.

CONS: For the disadvantages, being a nurse is exhausting but I guess you already know that. If before medicine, you experienced working in a hospital you know that this job can drain you as a human being. In terms of academics, somehow the nursing subjects overpowered the basic sciences needed in medicine such as biochemistry, because your main focus in nursing are the skills and theories. There are also things that happen inside the hospital that can break you. The smell of death, the worst feeling of having to tell the family that the patient is deteriorating, the way that the family gets angry, or humiliates the healthcare worker. I somehow think you’ll enter med as a broken person if you took nursing as premed. The good feelings overpower the bad, that’s why nurses are still here, and so we keep on going. But overall, you will be prepared for life inside the hospital because, you have already lived it.

-Lyris, RN



So have you chosen your premed course? I hope this article helped you gain more insight before you enter the world of medicine.