Talukbong

Mga ngisi at bulong,
Habang nakatalukbong.
Sa kumot at unan,
Pagod ay naiibsan.
Umagang maambon,
Panandaliang hinahon.
Mamayang hapon ulit,
Sasabak, hahapit.

#sulitnapagibig
#2018monochrome

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Sad Holidays

I realized that it’s alright to have sad holidays. Christmas can’t always be merry and new year’s eve can’t always be happy. Sometimes the sadness is too much that you can’t put on a poker face to the world and dance to Mariah Carey’s all-time Christmas chart-topper.

Some people are in hospitals, with loved ones suffering before their eyes. Some people are at funerals, mourning over the loss of loved ones. Some relationships are at the brink of tipping over. Some hopeless romantics are afraid they will never find that relationship. Some families are apart. Some families are just broken.

Not everyone can have a picture-perfect new year spread, with the whole family smiling into the year that lies ahead.

And it’s alright. It’s alright to be sad. As long as we don’t lose hope.

I Don’t Hair

All jokes about my (lack of) haircutting skills aside, I would like to open up about our Sam’s haircut today.

I have been doing Sam’s haircuts for a while now. Yes, me. Not even BJ because Sam wouldn’t keep still. She fidgets less with me. Still does, but less.

Why that kind of haircut? In case I haven’t mentioned it enough yet for the past 8 years, my daughter has autism. Jared too. Now on Sam’s case, she abhors ponytails, hairclips, headbands, and pretty much whatever you put on her hair. She likes her hair free. And she doesn’t know how to comb, so most of the times it’s unruly.

During mealtimes, she dips it in ketchup, soup, soy sauce, or whatever liquid you put in a bowl beside her rice. In addition, she always chews on the tips of her hair.

So to those who ask why, I’m sorry that my daughter cannot conform to norms. If my daughter were a regular kid, I would have made sure to keep her hair ‘normal’, learned to braid it, and even bedazzle on occasion.

But my daughter is not regular. We have to be more logical and practical and unfortunately it is not by the universal standard of ‘normal’ and ‘beautiful’.

And whatever you see or standards you set, in my eyes and in my heart, my little lady will always be beautiful.

Dear 30-Year Old JD

I write to you from one year in the future.
This year, yes, we had a tree. Yes, we used different-sized nonlas, and we even threw in sakkats and sombreros. We hand painted them green and stacked them high like a Christmas tree. We adorned them with red and yellow Christmas “balls” made of burlap and twine, and topped it with a star made of bamboo. You said we should never lose our spirit. Well, it wasn’t as easy as we imagined it to be, but let me tell you this – it was indeed a standout!
This year, yes, we can travel again. And by that I mean that we CAN, but we choose not to. We have realized that there are things that can wait and the wait is worthwhile. You said we should never lose our passion and wanderlust. Well I believe it’s just a matter of time before our backpacks will be worn again. And in case you really need to know, we still adore streetfood. Hashtag streetfood is life.
This year, yes, we finally opened our restaurant. Yes, we used monobloc chairs like the hawkers in Malaysia. Yellow and black. Yes, we used stainless tables like Hanoi. We haven’t decided yet where to put the old burlap banner; but instead we wrote our story on the wall. We still use the same woks, and our little BPT family has now grown to a dozen. And surprisingly for both of us, BJ allowed me to adorn the walls with our old travel photos, chubby cheeks and all. You said we should never lose hope. Well honestly there were more than a dozen times that I wanted to give up. But I’m glad I held on.
This year, yes, the kids are doing better. Sam has matured a bit and has less meltdowns compared to previous years. Or maybe I was the one who matured a lot and stopped having meltdowns. Jared can say and spell more words, and can now converse in his own make-up dialect. You said we should never lose patience. Well this year the kids also learned to be patient with us.
This year, yes, BJ and I are still together. Nope, were not back to being single. Yet. We still fight over breakfast meals, argue over decoration ideas, and backseat-drive each other’s driving styles. But you said we should never never stop loving each other. Well we never never did.
I’m not saying that it’s already a happy ending at this point. You see – what’s that they say again? – we’ve only just begun. I still have a lot of questions like you did and I will never get answers unless 35-year old JD decides to write us back and tell us about Gaudi and the Sagrada Familia. We have to wait for 38-year old JD to confirm if we have already opened our humble hostel. We have to wait for 47-year old JD to tell us about Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. And only 75-year old JD can confirm if there is indeed a forever when he writes about our golden wedding anniversary.
Right now, I can only do what we have always done best: keep going. Time will answer the rest of our questions.
With much more hope from the future,
JD

Fifteen Minutes

That’s all we get most of the time.
Fifteen good minutes of laughs and giggles;
Fifteen minutes of blankets and tickles.
Here I thought when I left that office desk,
That I can give you more of my best.
But I have never ever been more wrong.
Apparently most days are not that long.
We still stay at the office ’round the clock.
Except it’s now a kitchen, the desk a chopping block.
We still tiptoe through the wee hours,
While you two dream of seaweed and superpowers.
And you still wake up to us deep in slumber
Late again for school, about to surrender.
But we won’t, we’ll never.
Because you two are worth it. Always remember.
One day mom and dad will overcome limits.
Someday we’ll give more than fifteen minutes.

The 80/20


Some relationships are not just picture-perfect, some are actually perfect. Eighty percent of the time they are that couple that makes you hard press the like button, because they deserve that big heart emoji. Eighty percent of the time they are genuinely happy and in love and faithful and just plain amazing they could cure cancer, achieve world peace, and make you swoon and vomit in your mouth at the same time.

Yes, they fight. And the fights are cute. And it only happens two tenths of the time.

However others are not as fortunate. For some, when we lay out all the cards, there would be eighty fights out of a hundred moments. There would be eighty dissapointments. Eighty mistakes. Eighty long nights of mud-slinging and past-digging.

Mind you, their Instagram only shows their inspiring travel throwbacks, and it will make you think that they are couple number one. But what you see in all those social gatherings and dinners and 24-hour IG stories are just a mere twenty percent of what they actually go through. The truth is, eighty percent of the time they are sleeping with an extra large hotdog pillow between their backs.

Some might say that you should leave that kind of relationship because it’s toxic. Some say you should take some time off. Some say this, some say that. But the reality is there’s no same formula for everyone.

True, you may need to give yourself good riddance most especially if so much red flags has been raised. But there is no universal solution. Not everyone is a Popoy and Basha nor Betchay and Mike. Some relationships are worth another chance. And some even another another.

Because one day, you will find someone who is worth that eighty percent. Someone who is worth fighting a measly twenty percent for. Because at the end of the day, love is not 80/20 or 70/30 or 50/50. It’s 100%.

Sadness

The truth is, sometimes, we are sad.

We may fill the wall with the cheesiest love notes and open letters than can make you swoon and/or cringe. But in reality, love is not always enough. Screw The Eagles for making us believe that it can keep you alive.

We may write about how amazing autism is and how much we love our kids to bits, but there are times we wish they were regular, or did not exist at all. Sorry not sorry. They are a handful is an understatement. Parenting a child with autism is thankless, so just imagine having two.

We may proudly paint the ‘gram with photos of sumptuous and colorful dishes. But most days, we are sick of Southeast Asian food. And even if we cook for a living, we are oftentimes too drained to cook for ourselves and our kids, and we irresponsibly feed them with junk and drive thru.

The truth is, most of the time, we are sad.

That Facebook-perfect power couple that is BJ and JD, who is full of love and passion and determination, actually go through the loudest and longest fights, we probably can qualify for a world record. We are tired. And we’re sorry that we are not the same people you knew before we got together. We’re now one of those used-to-be-friends to our individual circles who got into a relationship and seemingly forgot about the rest of the gang.

We rarely join get-togethers and parties and most of you have stopped inviting us a long time ago. We understand. But it’s not because we are too busy in love. We are just tired. Too tired that even bathing and picking clothes for a gathering is hard labor. We’d rather sleep.

We don’t do birthday greetings even if you are a bestest best friend and the social media endlessly reminds us to ‘let you know we are thinking about you’ on your special day. We can’t join your kid’s birthday party too, because autism.

We have packed away our backpacks, inflatable U-pillows, and airline-approved toiletry bottles for good because we probably can no longer ride a plane and travel through the ends of the earth and be a free spirit anymore. Imagine the pain of a wanderlust who lost all hopes of travelling again. Because reality has already bitten off a mouthful from our hearts, and we bleed at the thought of not backpacking ever again, because we are only our true selves when we travel.

The truth is, we are sad.

We are not okay. But I also realize that it’s okay not to be.

We still hold on, much stronger than we ever did in eight years. And we hug or kids tighter and promise to never give up on them. And we keep going. You’d think we are crazy and we probably are, but no one is perfect. No couple is perfect. No family is perfect. And I know that we will get past this lingering sadness sooner or later.