My Life in Black and White

Memories. Pain. Pleasure. All ME.

Why I Refuse to Give Up on My Dream

My dream is simple. I want to write books and screenplays endlessly, and I want people to enjoy them. As always, there are, however, complications in reaching it.

Today, I received a book from one Filipino author I look up to. She was the first writing mentor I had whom I actually met in person. The other two, I only had the opportunity to converse with through emails. And what she wrote on the title page (since I asked for her autograph) caught me motionless. Not that it was entirely personal, but it did cause a pinch. In a good way. Here’s what it said:

I wrote this to remind myself that we can be fabulous at any age — and also choose new things. Hope you are well!


In 2013, I had been published in the US. I celebrated it, as it was the first affirmation I got that my talent wasn’t put to waste. But that wasn’t the best year of my life. 2014 was.

For in 2014, I was at my peak, my God-given talent used at full speed. I was at the top of my game. I released yet three other books and met Director Jay Abello, who taught me the ropes of writing for the movie industry. He even brought me to Bacolod to watch him shoot RED for CinemaOne Originals.


Direk Jay, discussing the script to me. Photo was taken by one of the RED production staff.

But then, as it always did, life happened. I had bills to pay and a family to support (since my father left us more than eight years ago, and it wasn’t any different with my partner as he also did four years ago) and the next thing I knew I was parking my passion so I could actually earn from a prestigious job that paid well.

My job grew on me, no matter its complete disparity with what I loved doing. A graduate of AB English, minor in Theater Arts, proudly at the top of my class, you wouldn’t expect to find me holding a position in the retail industry. But I was, and I couldn’t say I regret a moment of it.


That’s me on the furthest right. My team (a third of it, since they were the only ones left for the closing shift) serenaded me on my last day at work.

So I ventured into photography as a hobby, a resort to keep my creative side intact, and hung out with people who knew people from different walks of life. I met mountaineers and journalists and simple everyday people who lived the life they chose for themselves. Since I couldn’t write, my mental energy used up when I get home, they were my way of clinging to my hopes of keeping the artist in me alive.


Fast forward to more than a couple of months ago, a personal situation had forced me to quit my job. I had to attend to matters and even with my leave credits (since I couldn’t use them most of the time), I simply couldn’t fit everything into place anymore. I had to let go of something that had helped me keep afloat.

Now, I am back to where I started, trying to connect dots, trying to get back the opportunities I have lost the past 2 years, and wishing I could do my 2014 success — and more — all over again. It’s exhausting, once you overthink about it. Then again, wouldn’t you say I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be?

Miss Mina Esguerra wrote two things that was unknown to her to be personal to me:

  1. That we can be fabulous at any age. I am at my 31st year (more on that when I finish my supposed birthday post), and to me that means books and movies, lined up along the shelves of my private library at my future house.
  2. That we could choose new things for ourselves. THAT MEANS LEARNING. And I choose to write and take photographs and learn other skills. For I do not know how long I’d still be living in this world.

I refuse to give up on my dreams because I have reached for them once. I intend to do it again. This time, fabulously and with new armors.

Thanks, Miss Mina, for reminding me.


Trip Number JUAN: San Juan, La Union

Though I have traveled to other places because of work and family gatherings, I still consider this trip to be the one that began it all – my thirst for life.

Before this trip, only a few people knew what I was going through. My marriage failed, and while I never really felt pain because of the fact, I struggled to accept that I had made one mistake that cost me half of my freedom and happiness. So when my (ex)husband finally agreed to let me go (in all essence of the word – even legally), I went soul-searching with a long-time friend.IMG20141121223445

Pinky and I first met in college at Tarlac State University, where we worked together for the school publication. Those were the years of my teenage life. We had fun writing together and traveling to different places to compete and – wouldn’t you know it – win. This time in our late twenties, we worked together for the government and we were officially traveling buddies.

The first of our planned trips was in San Juan, La Union. This was from November 21 to 23, 2014.

The travel from Tarlac City to San Juan was over four hours by bus. The trip was expectedly boring. We actually planned on sleeping through it, but ended up chatting about everything we missed. After all, before this, we had a huge fight that made us avoid each other for a few months.

The first day was pretty much about the places where our feet could take us. Our guide – who was ironically a Canadian – had to go back to work. Firth let us off. We went to the famous Pagoda Hill, the viewing deck from the La Union Provincial Capitol and the flea market, all in San Fernando. Then we had Souvlaki Platter for dinner at Gefsies, a Greek Grill back in San Juan.

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Just after dinner, Firth met us for dessert at his mother’s house. I had real home-made yogurt then for the first time. And then slept soundly at Firth and his best friend Colleen’s place.

Second day was even more awesome. We met with one of Pinky’s friends – Reyn – and he took us around La Union. First stop, breakfast at Angel and Marie’s. Though I failed to take pictures of the food (since we were having fun chatting), I guarantee that they have the best-tasting omelettes.

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Second stop, La Union Botanical Garden plus Science Museum, where the traditional weaver showed us how to make traditional towels. Now to get to these places (located in Brgy. Cadaclan, San Fernando), we had to rent out a jeepney for Php500. The usual fare is only Php20 per head. But we wanted to go at our own schedule so we went right ahead and talked to one of the drivers.

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Next, we went to the famous Bahay na Bato (Stone House) in Luna, La Union. Luna is over an hour away from San Fernando by jeepney.

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Since we missed lunch, we went to have early dinner at Riverfarm Seafood, a floating restaurant in Bacnotan, La Union. Here, Reyn’s friend, Rhugs, met with us.

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Last stop for the night, back to San Juan’s Moonleaf for some dessert – cupcakes and milkteas.

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We woke up early for our last day so we could go surfing. San Juan is known as the surfing capital of the North and we wouldn’t pass up an opportunity to ride the waves. We were joined this time by Colleen and Mico, another one of Reyn’s friends.


Breakfast was still at Angel and Marie’s since we loved the omelettes so much. This time, I didn’t fail to take a picture. Below is also a picture of Reyn, Mico, Colleen, me and Pinky.

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The rest of the day was actually pretty much about food. Halo Halo de Iloko in San Fernando was one place to really dine in when in La Union. Here’s where we had late lunch. Food’s great. We had okoy (one with shrimp and one without, since Pinky’s allergic to seafood), squid, sinigang na isda in coconut, and palabok that’s topped with Ilocos longganisa. We didn’t order Halo Halo, though. Hmmmm. I wonder why.

Colleen and Firth were with us.

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We went back to the flea market right after our lunch and spent the whole afternoon shopping for almost nothing. You know that feeling of wanting everything you see and so you end up buying almost nothing? Well, that’s what happened. I was able to buy a plant for a friend, a scarf for another friend and a bracelet for myself.

Reyn, Mico and Rhugs are photographers and had agreed to help me shoot the sunset properly. After all, San Juan is also known to have the best view of sunset in the North.

I was supposed to meet Reyn and Mico at Flotsam and Jetsam Cafe at 5pm so we could chase after the setting sun. I ended up shooting it alone. I couldn’t recall what happened then exactly, but it turned out, Mico couldn’t make it and Reyn was at Seanymph, waiting.

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And we had dinner at Flotsam and Jetsam Cafe still. Nice cozy place, might I say. Bean bags for sitting, mattresses, mats over green grasses and overlooking the sea. Plus great food and drinks. You know that moment when you’re having too much fun and so you fail to take pictures? Well, this is one of them.

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At 1AM, Pinky and I took the bus back home to Tarlac City.

Overall, the experience was actually beyond what I had hoped for and imagined it to be. I couldn’t remember the last time I laughed as hard as I had then, just talking to the new friends I gained. Pinky and I? We never discussed the issue that came between us before this trip. Everything went as smoothly – and more – as we had prayed it to be.

Traveling to new places is a joy and I couldn’t believe it had taken me 28 years just to realize this. Meeting new people is an even greater adventure. For you’ll never know what you’ll learn and what you’ll miss while you’re out there, chasing sunsets and sharing thoughts. And you’ll never know what life is while you’re not out there living it.

A friend of mine once asked me if I had seen my country. I haven’t then. Maybe I haven’t still now. But I swear to myself: I sure damn will.

Keep dreaming with me.


My Light

St. Michael had always been my favorite of all the archangels. And it wasn’t only because he was God’s army’s commander.

When I was younger, I used to always dream about people running after me and how in each dream, I almost died. Some nightmares those were. My grandma told me to call on an angel if that happened again. So at one time, I called on to him and felt as if I was being lifted away from my “hunters”…until I woke up. And I barely had bad dreams since then. 

This iron lamp is from St. Michael’s Church in Camiling, Tarlac. I have taken interest in it because it signifies the very image St. Michael has for me. To me, he is a light, a guide, a protector. 

St. Michael's Church 

I So Love Japanese Food!

Izakaya Cowan

I visited Izakaya Cowan with two friends a few days ago and I must say I had never had that much fun eating. Everything about the place and the menu just feels and tastes so authentic!

Izakaya Cowan

Izakaya Cowan has been around since 2002, with Chef Nolan serving the best of what Japan has to offer our local taste. I had the pleasure to meet him and he shared some of his stories, being an expert of the cuisine for 17 years now. Here’s his salmon maki.

Salmon Maki Izakaya Cowan

To date, it stands as the only Japanese restaurant in the Province of Tarlac to originally be established by a true Tarlaqueño.

Off their menu are other Japanese dishes that sure are mouth-watering. I haven’t tasted everything yet, but I really plan to. The restaurant is really a great place to dine in. Of course, the price is not as low as those from other Japanese fastfood places, but it is definitely affordable. Besides, the taste actually compensates for the figures.

Izakaya Cowan

Notice how my friends are too camera-shy? LOL

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So we have Mykie, the Photographer, and Archie, the Basketball Player (non-pro. yet.).

And here’s the food-loving me, with Chef Nolan.

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Will be taking more pictures of the great food once I return. Which is soon, I hope. Been craving since I have too much stress lately. Hahahahaha



Twenty-Eight Years Now Passes Me By

I am no expert at how days should be spent to attest to a fulfilling life. But as I sit here in front of my laptop with one too many documents opened to finish everything I need and desire to, I wonder greatly if I have had enough trials to last me a lifetime of lessons and say ultimately that I have such.

I have always thought I’m blessed with many great things. Looking back, I cannot say I have been wrong about that, yet what I CAN say is that I am more endowed with moments I will remember for what remains of my days – good or bad. I have had my fair share of the world’s drama and I have had my greatest instants of laughter. And the best of it all, I guess, is the fact that my twenty-eight years, no matter the mistakes and the downfalls, can never be a waste.

For there have been times when I cried myself to sleep, yet there have been moments as well when I cried as I could not catch a breath to break my laugh. There have been moments in my life when I could run, but I chose to walk as it gave my journey an extra mile to cherish. There have been moments when regrets took over my will to look ahead. There have been moments when I did nothing in a day but wish for what-use-to-be’s and what-could-have-been’s. There have been many moments; each for a special purpose and each for a special memory. And I hold on to them as they are none but delicate pieces of who I am, who I have become and who I can still be.

Of the many lessons learned the past years, there is one which will hold that special place where my youth had been. And as I wish each passing day that others do not fall upon its traps, I crave so much for another chance to do it right.

People say love fades, and I guess everyone knows it. To stay within any relationship, you simply have to decide whether you can and will stand to be with each other for long, or whether there is something left to fight for and hold on to. Like, when lovemaking becomes a figment of your most cherished memories or kisses become nothing but greetings meant to make you smile. You get older or more matured, and you simply become accustomed to just talking about recollections and books and movies, or you travel to places you have never been to. And you argue about the silliest things you know and you laugh after that. And everything is fine because you are there and so is he… nothing else matters and nothing ever will.

Not many people know what’s running about my head, let alone what’s in my heart. But as I stand proud of what I have come to accomplish through another person’s eyes – a persona I wish the world to know and be inspired by – I tell myself that people wear masks and that I should wear mine well in order to keep moving. And that since I still believe that people choose the masks that fit them the most, I must choose one I believe my first name will so gallantly declare. For as I keep and rebuild what’s inside me, I know I can still bare my heart for it to heal and share my world for it to flourish.

Twenty-eight years now passes me by and I sit right here in front of my laptop, wondering if I have had enough lessons that will tell me I have a fulfilling life. Now, I know the answer is no, and perhaps it will always remain to be. For one can never learn enough and one can never stop trying to fulfil his destiny to say he has lived.

And I? I will remain to be in search of the life I have come to realize I desire… through the eyes of a man I never thought would suddenly pass my way.