Poetry

route

From north to south, I ride the lines
chasing the horizon
you’d think the trains move fast enough
but this is the only rocket I know

I feel the depths of every street crossed
each neighbourhood telling their story
a longevity reaching far before I have touched these grounds
you can hear the dust from years past whisper in the winds
There is more history that I will never know
and have yet to know

The streetlights flicker,
a sign for me to keep my eyes open
I remember to look up this time –
high rises looking down at me
apartment buildings glaring at me
foliage inviting me
This is all a subtle reminder of how we all make up this city

I continue to coast the lines as the breadth broadens wider than the edges of the Bluffs
eyes wide open, I feel the air around me sigh
a formal welcoming to whoever dares to pass each borderline

I am finally home

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Poetry

fluidity

flowing freely forgetting my destination
the places touched are checkpoints
no land mass has power
I wash it away, laughing
though I promise I’m pure
I unintentionally wreak havoc here
and there, so where next?

I sink deeply into you

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Poetry

t-eye-dal wave

Staring out at the stars
their eyes glisten back at me
reassurance of being guided
the right path leading me silent
a journey diving into my mind
I never realized my full potential

A climb of my mental staircase
I stared blankly into the doorway of my past
they whispered flashes of memories back at me
a humble reminder of where I come from
my feet have now been washed
a new set of toes will carry me home
eventually

Bright lights in the sky
a common sign
guiding those lost
especially those that have forgotten
either or
something is always missing
always searching for the next high
these altitudes have been played out
my senses need to heighten
I promise I won’t get lost in the clouds
Instead, I’ll carry them home with me
eventually

This energy seeps
spitting droplets of hope
replenishing rough grounds
I am comfortable
feet firmly planted
I have grown roots in my time here
leaving an imprint in the soil
a full cycle
multiplying its frequency
its energy never dies
its energy never lies
I give myself life once again
reviving my soul to its standard
yet always surpassing where I last was
I will keep growing
until it is time for me to go home

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thoughts

farewell?

It’s been months since my Lolo has passed, over a month since my Lola passed, and a few days since Mac Miller has passed.

Y’all probably reading that last name with a confused face, thinking, Mac Miller? She’s hit after his death?

Yeah, I’m fucking hit. I’m still hit. I cried AT work when I got messages in two group chats about him passing… He’s so young, so fucking brilliant. Only God knows where his career was going to take off (only God knows how heaven is rocking with him right now).

Death has heavily surrounded my life this year, (let alone these past two months) and I’m not too sure where my head is at, at the moment. I’m stuck between wanting to surround myself with my friends (and being completely content in our silence, as I more so want to sit in their presence) and completely isolating myself. You don’t even have to tell me because I already know that the latter is unfuckinghealthy. A few minutes or hours or even a day of solitude, fine, but not a habitual turned ritual state of complete isolation… Which is something I am trying to fight – and if it weren’t for work and its unruly hours, I wouldn’t have this problem. BUT STILL. (There are issues within these hours themselves but that’s for another chat)

Anyway.

I had spoken to one friend about how I felt after my Lola passed. I was numb, yes, but also in a space of already accepting her passing. After being flooded with messages of, “Are you okay?“, “Let me know if you need anything“, and similar consoling words, I was already feeling annoyed with having to repeat the same, I’m okay, I’ll be fine, I’m just riding the waves at this point to everybody, and I had told her that over dinner. I’m glad she understood where I was coming from because I just wanted to be left alone. However, I also understand where everyone is coming from. They were just doing what friends fucking do – provide love, support, and care. And I love them eternally for it. I do.

But now, after Mac’s passing [at such a young age], thoughts about my own death came in like a dam breaking. These thoughts first fruitfully came after my Lola passed. I was thinking about my passing. I started to think about the fact that my parents… I can’t even finish that sentence without freaking the fuck out. I was thinking about how I’d have to face what my mother once faced and what my father is now facing – losing a parent. I don’t know how my dad is taking it, but I remember a brief conversation with my mom the other day and she casually said that death was my dad’s biggest fear. This made me [somewhat] understand why he moves the way he does in terms of his caution and alertness – something that my sister and I tend to joke about. But now I get it.

I also get that no matter how cautious and prepared you may be, death always finds its way and wins.

I move like I’m so ready to die at any given moment because [I like to believe that] I’ve lived so much in so little time but I’m only twenty fucking three. I haven’t even scratched the surface of living. I’ve lived in my youth and I am now starting to live as a young adult. I’m confident enough to say that this shit I call living isn’t even living. Nobody prepared me for the struggles of adulthood, the loneliness of adulthood, let alone the strength that you have to constantly have just to push through adulthood. Oh, and then we die. Eventually. Ha.

I’m tired. I feel like I’ve psyched myself and thought my way into this white noise.

But really and truly, I am fucking scared. I’m really going to die in like 60+ years (if I’m lucky) and I am terrified as fuck. Life is moving too fast for me. 2018 is almost over like January wasn’t taking years to pass. We’re only getting older and time does not wait for anybody.

These are the thoughts that have been haunting me for the past month… And will still continue to haunt me.


There’s nothing well about a farewell – there’s always a fare involved in saying goodbye.

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Poetry

broken telephone

“Why didn’t you tell me earlier?”

I always find myself tracing calls back
although I’ve cut my line one too many times
I swear there are no strings attached
yet my phone is still in service
all its plugs further intact
I promise I have no complaints

this time.

Reception always commonplace,
our phones more common than I thought
until notifications became a regular memo
thoughts to self, I’d call them
since my ringtone stopped hollering
for me to answer
I just answered to myself

This connection never required to dial up
upgrading the probabilities
the ignition of the right spark
networks flying in every direction
leaving marks within this circuit
a clear switch incapable of prevention
misconstrued signals skipping switches
messages slipping through the cracks
we now face a disconnection

Sorry I was under the wrong impression.

But for the times received,
the sentiments initially intended
I believed the service peaked
always a hit, never a miss
the alluring hum of the dial tone
laughter as a filler for hold music
a consideration for options
this deal almost felt exclusive

I forgot about the fine print.

Now complaints start to pile as I
secretly tested the circuits with other lines
even tried an old one just one time
the attempts to find a comparable connection
led to the discovery of inconsistent reception
yet the results are consistent enough
I stayed because you are the only exception

Though contracts are temporary
your company will always be
my favourite

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Poetry

drive out

She is long gone from these ends
but I remember what she used to taste like
The way her hair flowed as she moved with the wind,
How her eyes lit up in the darkest of nights
you can feel her love when she walked in the room

Now I just feel her footsteps
the beat of each step fit a pattern that deafened me
each step filled with hunger
because she was always empty
her steps meant for something more
for something bigger than herself
her footsteps much bigger than herself
yet she was never going anywhere
just lost in the pattern continuously leading her to
familiarity

the song that never ends
the constant boom-tick of the drumline
beating against the record scratch
the needle stuck in the grooves
but you can find her if you read between the lines
or so she says
or so she says

or so she says

Follow me

I promise this is a new pattern

the trail that ever ends
and she continues to walk the line
unknowingly striding into darkness
hoping to one day chase the light she once saw in her eyes
but there is no looking back

her gaze [only] focused on the end
wherever that may take her.

I still remember what she used to taste like
the way her hair flowed when she moved with the wind
how her eyes shone in broad daylight
but the love is gone from her footsteps

She is long gone from these ends

 

 

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thoughts

Aloha, Anak

The Sariling Gawa Youth State Council is hosting its 38th Annual Youth State Conference. This year’s theme is “R.I.S.E. – Recognize, Involve, Strengthen, Empower”. It is a three-day, two-night event that ran from Friday, March 23rd through to Sunday, March 25th. It is annually held at the YMCA Camp Harold Erdman in Waialua, Oahu, Hawaii.

To be honest, I had no expectations of this event itself. There wasn’t much information on it online besides the theme and the organization’s philosophy for me to formulate some sort of opinion on the conference. However, I already had my fears and assumptions of this conference before stepping foot at its doors. Prior to attending the conference, the Toronto youth delegation had a briefing about our Filipino experiences as a whole (since we hadn’t bonded as of that moment – we literally all met at the airport) and had the opportunity to speak about why we wanted to attend in the first place.

About two years ago, I made a goal for myself to learn more about my cultural roots (hence my choice of placement). I had written a poetry book last year as my final project for my Midwifery elective. My original concept for it was to learn about the cultural practices of pregnancy and childbirth. My plan for this was to interview my mother and aunts about their experiences of pregnancy, childbirth, and thoughts on motherhood (which I still ended up doing). The research aspect of my project is what flipped my concept from learning about these cultural practices to an act of representation. In doing research for the essay portion of this project, I basically found no peer-reviewed articles pertaining to my subject matter – this is why I made my poetry book into an act of representation. I wanted my book to start/carry this conversation. In realizing this, I grew a stronger need to dig deeper into my cultural background as our knowledge has been erased and also taken from us.

It took me about 21 years for me to hit this point of self-discovery because I grew up dissociating myself from my Filipino identity. Of course, I knew the importance of food and family and understood Tagalog (my mom made sure that my sister and I can understand at least one language from the Philippines), but never wanted to delve into the actual substance of Filipino culture. After having gone through the writing process for my project, I soon realized the importance for me to be connected to my roots (“Rooted” is the title of my book). With all of this in mind, I also had to face the fact that I would be surrounded by those who are so confident and proud of their Filipino-ness (or, so I had assumed). I was nervous and definitely scared to be among other youth with such knowledge because I was afraid of having nothing to contribute in regard to my Filipino experience. This is because I only knew my culture within the boundaries of both my direct and extended family. However, prior to having this fear, I was slowly coming into terms with the validity of my own Filipino experience. I sometimes forget that I have my own narrative in the grander story of Filipino experiences. I am a part of the generation that lost touch with their culture, I am a part of the generation that is relearning their culture and learning to love it, I am a part of the generation that is reclaiming their culture.

I specifically stated: I’m here for the Filipinos that never identified as “Filipino” while growing up. I’m here for the Filipinos that don’t know what it means to be Filipino. I’m here for the Filipinos that are making an identity for themselves. I’m here for the Filipinos that were the token Asian friend. I’m here for the Filipinos that got lost along the way but are trying to find their way back home.

This trip is another substantial part in my journey of self-discovery and self-actualization. I hit a point where I had to ask myself, How much more can I grow without knowing about my roots?

I had many fears coming into this conference – meeting with the other Toronto youth being one of them. I didn’t personally know or meet any of the other Toronto youth prior to the trip. I had met one of them for a fundraising event we did beforehand, but it was only small talk. As I had previously mentioned, we literally met for the first time at the airport in Hawaii. I didn’t know what to expect from them other than what I had read from their bios for our gofundme page. I didn’t know what I expected from them, either. I just hoped that we would all get along for the sake of the larger project at hand – which is the Toronto camp for Filipino youth. We had bonded over the days before the conference, but I think what really hit us is when we had the short briefing prior to leaving for the conference. I had to take it up with myself and the other Toronto youth delegates to address my fears and assumptions. I admitted that I was initially scared to even attend the trip as a whole because I was so unfamiliar with being surrounded by a group of Filipino youth outside of my group of cousins. My context changes once I step out of familiarity – in this case, outside of my family. I also had to address the fact that I was already having thoughts about how the youth are like there in comparison to the Filipino youth in Toronto. After having had the conversation with our group, which included me addressing my thoughts and assumptions and unravelling the complexity of my Filipina identity and essentially telling a group of Toronto Filipino youth my story, we were able to deconstruct not only mine but our assumptions. We were able to deconstruct our stories to discover why we feel the way we do, think the way we do, and are the way we are. In knowing this, we were able to shift the way we think about ourselves and how we see ourselves within and among others of our culture. This alleviated my worries because I initially thought I wouldn’t be able to contribute to any conversation – forgetting that my experiences of my own culture are just as valid.

Now, fast forward to the conference after having these conversations, I was able to go into the conference with an open mind, ready for what the youth have to teach me (us). But this is easier said than done because I started to worry about what the youth would think of me. My worries led me to think of any possible assumptions they had of me, of us, as we’re coming from a completely different city and context.

Though we got a different experience from the rest of the youth delegates (who are all high school students), we were still able to interact with and be among the youth. Joining us were two university students from The Big Island and together, we were Barangay 8 aka Maganda Forever. We were in a separate group as we are all in post-secondary education. The purpose of this was to teach us a more advanced set of leadership and facilitation tools and frameworks to take back to our communities. The leaders felt it didn’t make sense for us to join the high school youth as we would just be shadowing the leaders there and not fully grasp the learning aspect behind the lessons. This was great for us because we had many fruitful discussions on practice on and off the field. This is where I intersected my Social Work learning to the lessons of this conference. Although AOP is heavily instilled into our learning, I had to remember that AOP is not prescribed medicine – it may not always work in every setting – so I took off my AOP hat and allowed for my environment to teach me.

It was during this activity in day 2 where we hit the pinnacle of the conference – all of us ended up in tears while articulating our individual stories. It was at this moment where we got our struggles off our shoulders and onto the table. This is where we realized, maybe we’re not as different as we thought. In doing this, we were also able to see how many obstacles we have to get through in order to reach our goals, or in order to make that step. In hearing out everyone’s experiences throughout this activity, I realized that our work starts with us. There is a lot of work to be done and many battles to fight, but now that we have uncovered our pain together, we now have each other for that support. But the work starts with us, in understanding our struggles and deconstructing them to see how we can fight against them, or work alongside them to move towards a better [collective] future.

There was another activity that same night where we had to make a skit of a value that is important to us. We had another discussion which led us to have less than 10 minutes to prepare for this bigger group activity and we ended up presenting on the topic of consent. To me, our skit wasn’t that impactful, it was our participation. But our skit wasn’t even my highlight because being there and sitting through everyone else’s skits was what really hit me. They touched upon topics of family, loss of culture, discrimination, trust. I was shook (for a lack of a better time). By the end of the skits, they leaders asked if anybody had any thoughts. I shot my hand up because I was truly amazed at what the youth put together. I remember saying something along the lines of noting the similarities between our struggles despite the difference of where we come from (me being from Canada, and them in Hawaii) and acknowledging them and thanking them because I didn’t feel alone.

I think that was one of the biggest pieces for me that I learned on this trip – the fact that I’m not alone, or, we’re not alone. Despite our geographic differences, we were able to see that what we experience is mirrored. With that being said, it made me think about how I view myself within the community in Toronto considering I didn’t even see myself as part of the community until this year. I’m still being introduced to many members of the community at this point in my life. I’m no longer embarrassed by it as I take it as part of my journey.

I get it now. There was a lot of talk within our group about why folks come back every year as VOLUNTEERS for this conference, and I think I get it now. There is something that was always brewing in the SG air and I even felt it when I got on that bus to get to the camp. It was like there was an overarching force field of warmth and welcome that protected us from negativity. There are very few spaces that I can walk into without feeling any type of judgement and this is one of them. I mean, yeah, perhaps we got a different experience because we were older but even in our interactions with the youth, we were included. It was like we have already been there and with them prior to the conference. Not only that, but the leaders ensured that the youth were engaged in a positive and comfortable light. So, I get it. It’s like one big family that’s been having a reunion for 38 and counting years. Even in hearing the youth delegates’ conversations, I noticed that a lot of them want to come back next year which makes me want to come back (The Universe needs to give me a [monetary] sign, if we’re being frank about this). There is something more that’s brewing there alongside instilling Filipino pride within the youth and educating them on a bit of cultural history. I left the conference feeling stronger about myself, feeling confident in another goal I want to achieve, and I left the conference with three new friends.

This conference has shown me that what I feel is bigger than me. What I feel is supposed to feed our purpose for tomorrow. There is so much work that needs to be done and it overwhelms me to think about it, but we now have a stronger network of likeminded folks that want to work at this together. It all starts with us.

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