Restart

Time to start over again.
Like you were given a key to reset the button of your heart so it can beat normally again like how it used to.

They say you will meet three kinds of love in your life — your first love, second love and your third or the love that lasts forever.

If only I could, I would have wished my first love would be my last and forever love. That guy loved me so perfectly. I never thought I would ever experienced being loved by a man like that. We were somewhat young then — I was 19 and he was 21. But young as we were then, we were already sure of our feelings for each other. We even planned on getting married on the second year of our relationship. Yes, that was too early to be so sure of each other. But that’s how intense our love was. Sadly, we were not given the chance to forever in this lifetime because he died even before we were able to celebrate our second anniversary. Perhaps the love was too much that it consumed us both. We failed to see ourselves apart from each other. We forgot individuality. We even forgot about the other people who also love us because we were so focused with our love. Indeed, too much love could really kill.

Before I met my second love, I had the chance to experience an almost love. I met him in a foreign land at a time when I wasn’t really looking for someone to love. We were classmates in an English class and I didn’t even expect that we will really hit it off. Must be our love for the same type of music that really connected us to each other. Our almost relationship was a brief episode in my life but it took me a number of years to move on from it. Probably because there was no proper closure and we weren’t even able to actually profess our feelings for each other. However brief it was, that guy surely made me feel special. He would often drive me home and would even visit me on his days off from work. He would even accompany me at home whenever he knows my housemate wasn’t at home because he wanted to make sure that I’m safe at home. I’ve learned to appreciate playlists and mixtapes more because of him. He’s the first guy who ever offered to make me a playlist of the songs we both like to listen to. However sweet that episode was, it needed to end because we don’t share the same love for Jesus so I had to take a step back and let him go. It was an almost love that I still cherished because even if that guy didn’t say anything to me, he made me feel that I’m someone he won’t ever forget.

And then came my second love. I met him at a time when I’m already in the very ripe age to settle down. We are of the same age and we even share the same birth month. I thought that was cool since we can talk about our era together and there’ll be no generational gap. The only problem was we were living in a different time zones. We talked online for three months before we finally met and became officially a couple. I don’t really believe that long distance relationship doesn’t work because I think it totally depends on the couple. If both of them are committed to the relationship, then the distance won’t be an issue. Sadly, the man wasn’t fully committed to the relationship. I thought he was but it took me my instinct and my investigative skills to find out that he actually wasn’t. Maybe he really loved me but he just couldn’t let go of his “single” lifestyle yet.

Just like what they say about your second love, it is supposed to be the hard love — the one that teaches us lessons about who we are and how we often want or need to be loved. This is the kind of love that hurts, whether through lies, pain or manipulation. There were a lot of lies, betrayal of trusts in the three months of our relationship. I kept giving chances because I still believe the guy is capable to love truly and faithfully because he is a good person. But as everything has ending, the patience and endurance reached my limit. I had to end the relationship.

I don’t care even if I’m already old enough to find another love again. My peace of mind and my self-worth are way precious to me to just let a man take them both away. I would rather wait a little more for that love that truly deserves me and I deserve than settle for someone who doesn’t know how to love me right and doesn’t value my worth enough. Perhaps I’m too proud and too smart to settle for the kind of love he can afford to offer. I know I deserve more because I know that I can love more. I won’t easily be fooled by a love that can’t commit to only me.

When we broke up, there were no tears. I was hoping I could shed some for this episode in my life so that I could experience how it is to cry over a break-up. This is the very first time I’ve experienced a break up in my 30+ years of existence. But maybe, that’s just how I deal with pain — I tend to escape it by not thinking about it. Or maybe I have cried way too much when my first love died that I couldn’t cry anymore now. Or perhaps I don’t think he’s worthy enough for my tears? I don’t really know. Who knows? Maybe I will cry on some occasion when I miss him or what we used to do or the routines we used to have. But for now, I can’t feel anything. I just want to write and write my emotions and all that’s in my mind. Which is actually good about pain — it inspires me to write again.

I still think he is a good person but maybe, I’m just not yet his game changer. As what he said, he still needs to fix himself before he can fix our relationship. I don’t know what’s going to happen after this. I still care about him, though and I still wish him well. May he really let God enter his heart so He could change him completely. Only the Creator’s hand can fix a broken man.

So for my third love.. only God knows when he will come and who he will be. I just hope I won’t have to wait for too long anymore. But even so, I am pretty sure he is worth the wait. My second love thought me an important lesson never to settle for someone less than God’s best for you. I have learned that lesson the hard way. But thankfully, even before I became too consumed with the relationship again, God already pulled me out of it and made me start over again. Now, I’m restarting my heart. I am ready to wait for God’s perfect one for me– someone who really knows how to love me. Someone I truly deserve.

To My Northern Star

Before I met you, I was okay with my life. I couldn’t say that I’m completely contented but I’m getting by. I didn’t have to wait for anyone’s calls or messages. I didn’t have to rush home or arrange my schedule at night just so I could comfortably talk to you over the phone.

Before I met you, I was very idealist and dreamy about love. I’ve always imagined the kind of man I will fall in love with next. I have waited long enough so I wanted it to be the best that I deserve.

Before I met you, I have always thought I am already ready for love and to love again. I thought I’m emotionally mature enough to handle a new love and relationship. That whatever I did wrong in my previous relationship, I won’t do it again with the new one.

And then you came. You aren’t the exact package of how I want my next man to be. How we met wasn’t how I imagined my next relationship to start. You are far from the type of man I would fall for.

But you got me. With your sweet words. With the way you reason out with things. With the way you sensibly think most of the time. Perhaps one of the things that made me like you more was that you remind me of my dad. I don’t know which way or which part but I could see pieces of Papa in you.

I couldn’t admit it completely but I think I already love you. I couldn’t give it all because I’m afraid you will just hurt me eventually. Which you actually did when you lied to me about your previous relationship and when I caught you flirting with girls on chats.

I wanted to screw you. I wanted to really ruin you and take revenge on you and make you feel the pain you have caused my heart when I found out about your lies. I felt so foolish to fall for your sweet words. But then i realized, it wasn’t really my heart you bruised with your lies. It was my ego, my pride. Before I met you, I was so proud to say that I have never been cheated on or lied on by any man and that I’m the kind of girl who will really leave a mark on any man’s mind. Because that’s how my first love made me feel. And that’s how the guy who came after him made me believe as well.

But yours is a different case. Three months into our relationship and we had already been through a lot. Lies, betrayal of trusts and even invasion of privacy. I don’t feel secured of our relationship and I feel like anytime, you can just easily find a replacement for me. You are a player and I was hoping that I could be your game changer. But sadly, I don’t think I am that special to you to be your game changer.

You always make me feel paranoid and emotionally unstable. Everytime you will not chat me when you are online, I alwAys think that you are chatting with other girls.

I salute you, though. No man has ever made me feel that way. I have always been proud and confident of the kind of woman that I am and I have always believed that I have that something. But you took away that confidence. You replaced it with insecurities.

I always wonder why I couldn’t tell the people around me about you that much when in fact I have waited long enough for another love to come into my life. Maybe because i am not really sure about you. I am sure that I can love you but I am not sure if you can love me that much. I am not sure about you and your feelings for me.

Maybe you are just my northern star. My first love set the bar too high so I needed to meet someone who will lower my expectation so I won’t be unfair to the man that God has really prepared for me. Thank you for coming into my life, though. You helped me move on from my “almost” love and made me realize that love isn’t really as sweet as your first love. Thank you for making me realize that I should not settle for a so-so love because I deserve so much more.

I wish you well. I hope your next relationship will make you regret why you didn’t treasure me and treat me well enough.

Goodbye my northern star. You are definitely a broken road that will surely lead me to the man that truly deserves me.

Trust in God’s Timing

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Of late, I haven’t been able to sleep well. We didn’t have school yet because of the NCov outbreak in Vietnam so we were just asked to stay at home for two weeks after Tet Holiday. I usually sleep late after Netflixing. But then again, after only an hour or two, I will wake up again and couldn’t go back to sleep anymore.

I don’t know maybe I have been thinking subconsciously about my current situation. You see, I am in a dating relationship with this guy from another religious sect. He is a believer of Jesus but we don’t have the same religion and that’s what’s stressing me out. Every time my church friends will ask me about him, I always feel pressured to ask him to ”convert” to my religion.

Yeah, I know. Even the term that I used is inappropriate. I just felt pressured and stressed. I even asked God why would He let me meet this person and be in this complicated situation. From the world’s view, this isn’t a complex one. People might even say, just enjoy and when You get married, just marry twice so both of you can marry on both of your churches.

But that’s not how it goes for me. You see, I value my relationship with Jesus so much and I don’t want to compromise my faith and standards. I always say I want to marry a guy who has a relationship with God and who is responsible and a good provider.

Then one day, my sister told me that you didn’t put a specific quality there. She said I just put there a guy with a relationship with God and God answered that becuse this guy I’m dating has a relationship with God. He is even a devotee of Nazareno. He is a provider and very responsible especially when it comes to his work. So clearly, God answered my prayers for a man. Only that, I view it with complexities because he is not a “Christian.”

Before we started dating, I laid down all my standards to him and told him I will not have a relationship with someone who doesn’t share the same faith with me. With faith, I meant religion. He said he is willing. So when we met, he even attended the church service with me. Whenever I’m home, we would go to the church together.

But then the pressure to actually plugged him to the church comes whenever my friends would ask me about him. And I let these come to me. I even thought about ending it with him just because I don’t want to be pressured anymore.

So one saturday, I asked him what’s his plans are. If he is still willing to ”convert to my religion.” He said he stays true to what he told me before but I should not pressure or rush him. He said if I really believe in God, I should let God do His will and not manipulate the situation. I asked him if he thinks I’m doing it for myself. And his answer was a crisp ”yes.”

And it struck me.

All along I thought I’m concerned about his salvation, his relationship with Jesus. In his three-letter answer, I was rebuked and had a heart-check and I realized that I’m pressuring him to convert because I don’t wanna deal with the pressures around me anymore.

And it was life-changing.

Then the next day, God showed me the parable of the landowner.

“For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.‘‘ It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God‘‘s mercy” (Romans 9:15-16). In the matter of salvation, His grace and mercy are given to those whose self-righteous works could never obtain it. We are all sinful and “fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), but His grace is sufficient to redeem all who believe. Whether God calls someone early or late in life to partake of His grace, the glory and praise for our salvation is His and His alone and in no way amounts to unfairness. Just as the landowner has a right to do what he wishes with his own money, so does God have the right to have mercy on whom He will have mercy.

It is like God telling me to not stress myself with changing this man because it is by His grace that this man will be saved. All by His grace and His timing. I should not pressure myself with my own timeline but trust in the timeline of God.

I prayed and fasted for three days after that. And in all those days, that’s what God’s been telling me. His grace. His mercy. Not my own works. I should trust God more.

And today, my last day of prayer and fasting, God showed me this:

Numbers 20:12

Because you did not trust me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”

I cried after I read this and while talking to God. I thanked Him for rebuking me, for exposing my heart enough, for letting me hear Him. I was really in so much awe. Now, I have peace that He is in the works. I should just trust His timing.

Ending This Decade with….

Ending This Decade with….

A grateful heart.

The decade 2009- 2019 was a roller coaster one. It had its share of ups and definitely low points. Hills and valleys. But in all those seasons, I was assured and kept secured that God was with me. That alone is enough reason to be grateful.

This decade saw me mourn the deaths of my precious loved ones — that of my father, grandma, uncles. But it also saw me rejoice in the truth that they are home in the arms of Jesus and someday soon, we will be reunited again.

This decade saw me shifted careers. From working in a posh 5-star hotel as a public relations officer, I am now enjoying my job as a preschool teacher. It was a shift I never regretted, though. Everyday that I go to school and get to see and experience the funny antics of my students, it’s an everyday reminder that I am exactly where God wants me to be. I am also grateful that I am still able to continue my passion for my writing as I still get to write for certain projects every now and then.

This decade saw me grow my faith in God and flourished in my walk with Him. It’s true when they say that you can experience more of Jesus if you spend more time with Him. I’ve come to know Him more and not just as a God resting in Heaven. He is my personal God and Savior. Year 2019, specifically, was the year that I’ve experienced God as my protector and shield. I am blessed to be experiencing this unconditional love from Him everyday. I am not a good person but His love is making me want to be better everyday.

This decade saw me answer the call to go to the nations. A calling I didn’t know I am actually deserving to have, but God qualified me for it. I went on a short sojourn in Medan, Indonesia and is now enjoying my season in Vietnam. Apart from the Philippines, these nations hold a special place in my heart. I got to enjoy their beautiful culture and share the beauty of knowing Jesus at the same time.

This decade also saw me keep the friends I knew from way back then and gain new friends I now call my constants. There were some I lost along the way but nevertheless, I am glad to keep those worth keeping. There were hellos and goodbyes as there were healings and restorations.

This decade saw me opened my heart again. I lost my first love in 2004 and I thought my heart won’t be able to love again. This new love isn’t the same as the old one, but who would want a repeat of an old love? I’m thankful that this new love is something I could enjoy discovering the beauty each new day. I like that it isn’t predictable and I like that I feel more secured now. It wasn’t the usual “highschool kilig” feels when we met. Rather, I felt more at home with him. I felt home with him. Will this love be until the end? Only God knows. I have offered this new love to Jesus and anchored it to Him because I know that only Jesus could make it work. I want Him to not be a special guest in our relationship but a very essential part of it.

In a few hours from now, I will be saying goodbye to this decade. This decade that gave me a different look at life. I am just thankful that God didn’t let me end this decade with unanswered prayers. I am grateful for the gift of family and friends who never fail to make me feel loved and cared for. Most of all, I am forever thankful to Jesus for choosing me and for loving me unconditionally all the days of my life.

Year 2020. I am ready to create new memories on your blank pages.

Laos: Indochina’s Hidden Charm

Laos: Indochina’s Hidden Charm

I have lived in the IndoChina region for four years now and among all the countries in the region, Laos was the one I kept delaying going to. First off, the fare isn’t that cheap. There’s another way to go there by land but it’ll take so much time. Second of all, I’m a city girl and I’ve always loved huge malls and skyscrapers and I feel like there’s nothing much to see in Laos– that if I will go there, it should be because I’m called for the mission. Which brings me to my third reason: I’m quite anxious that if I go to this nation, I might have a feeling of never wanting to leave anymore–and which I’m not yet ready to. So there.

After letting three Tet holidays and a number of Christmas breaks pass, I finally decided to book a ticket going to Laos.

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How did my Laos trip begin?

Direct flights to Laos from Vietnam could be very expensive. It could go from 300-400 usd roundtrip. Hence, I opted for the cheaper option, which is to go to Bangkok first.

Here’s an overview of my fares (and some options for you to choose if ever you want to try overland) :

  • Ho Chi Minh to Bangkok (via Don Muang Airport) roundtrip – P6,000 + (NokAir)
  • Bangkok to Vientiane (via Don Muang Airport) one way – P2,500 + (AirAsia)
  1. from my hostel in Phrong Pong, Bangkok, I rode the BTS going to Mo Chit station. From Mo Chit station, I rode the bus A2 (or A1) going to Don Muang Airport. If ever you are flying from Suvarnabhumi airport, just take the Airport Link and get off at the airport station.
  2. Another option would be to take the train from Hua Lamphong station in Bangkok going to Nong Khai station. The sleeper train costs from 898 (upper berth) to 998 THB (lower berth) and around 500 THB for the seater. The train ride is approximately 10-11 hours and the train leaves the Hua Lamphong station every day at 6:30pm. Get off at Nong Khai station and ride a Tuktuk (around 30-50 THB) from the train station to the Thailand border. Do your visa processing at the Thai border and then ride the Friendship Bridge shuttle. This will take you to the Thai-Laos border, and once you clear immigration and cross into Laos you can take local transport (bus fare is 8,000 kip) to Vientiane.
  3. You can also opt to ride a direct VIP bus departing from Mo Chit Bangkok at 8pm and arriving at the Talat Sao bus station in Vientianne at 7am the next day. Bus fares range from 500-1000 THB per person. It isn’t as comfortable as the train but they do provide water and snacks onboard. There’s also a toilet inside the bus for your convenience.

Going back to Bangkok from Vientiane:

Thankfully, I have friends from Vientiane who taught me the way to go back to Bangkok the easy, budget-friendly, and convenient way, which is again, by train. Here’s another overview of the process:

  1. Ride the bus from the downtown area going to the border. Fare is 8,000 Kip. This bus will bring you to the Laos Immigration. Once you are done with your visa procedures, you can buy the shuttle ticket (4,000 Kip) on the left side of the immigration counter. This shuttle will take you through the Friendship Bridge going to the Thai Immigration in Nong Khai.
  2. Walk for about 5 minutes and you will see a number of Tuktuk drivers waiting outside the border gate. Hail a Tuktuk and ask the driver to bring you to Nong Khai train station. Fare could be between 30-50 THB.
  3. Buy your train ticket at the station. You can choose between sleeper train (First class ranges from 1300-1700 THB; Second class ranges from 898 THB for the upper berth and 998 THB for the lower berth), or the seater ones (ranging from 400-600 THB) You can also pre-book your ticket online. 
  4. The train will stop at the Hua Lamphong Station in Bangkok and from there, you can just ride the MRT (Hua Lamphong station) going to your destination or hail a taxi outside.

Make sure to check the train schedules to rid yourself of any hassle schedule hassles.

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Expectation versus Reality

Before I went to Laos, I have been carrying a picture of a very old-school, countryside images in my mind about this country. Friends who have been to this nation, particularly in the capital Vientiane, told me that it’s very laid-back in there. Hence, I expect a small town with fewer people and fewer cars and quiet roads. Imagine the picture I’m picturing in my mind?

Upon arrival at the Wattay International Airport in Vientiane, I was welcomed with a really nice and prime-looking airport. It was quiet and less traffic compared to other international airports but still, it was exceptional.

Yes, Vientiane was a quiet city compared to other major cities I have been to, but it did not give me an outmoded feel. This city was not as vibrant as the cities in its neighboring countries, but it definitely is not very old-school. Rather, this city welcomed me with a serene and calm atmosphere. And yes, my expectation was different from the reality that greeted me in Vientiane. There were not many skyscrapers and their malls were not as huge and posh as the others but I like that the people here were not in a rush and they have the time to stop and smile at you. It’s like you stepped into a familiar town and you won’t feel scared because you know there will always be people who are willing to help in case you need it. It’s very homey and relaxed.

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I am fond of coffee shops — not primarily of the coffee but more of the interiors and the ambiance — and I like that this city has a lot of cozy and chic cafes to offer. I specifically liked the Chao Anou road near the Mekong River as you can find a good number of cafes and restaurants there to suit your taste and budget. There’s actually a lot of Western restaurants and cafes you can try here if you are not very adventurous with food. One of my top favorites would be the Indigo Cafe  (I could still remember the taste of its Fried pork in Tamarind Sauce with its signature blue-colored rice and its delicious Mango Sticky Rice) and Bakery by Boris  for the dessert (the Snickers cake is definitely a must-try!). And of course, Joma Cafe  must not be left out with its heavenly signature cinnamon bun.

Experiencing Luang Prabang

Since I’m already in Laos, I might as well explore the other parts of this country aside from Vientiane. So my friend helped me book a bus ticket going to Luang Prabang. Sleeper bus costs 180,000 Kip one way. And it’s a really lying-down-on-a-bed-kind-of-bus so you better be prepared for whoever you are going to share the bed-bus with. You can either pay for the whole bed so you won’t be sharing it with a stranger or just pray that you’ll be fine or pray that you will share the space with the same sex.

The bus ride was bumpy since the roads in Laos are not as developed yet. We left the Northern bus station in Vientiane around 8:30pm and we arrived in Luang Prabang around 7:30am the next day (roughly 11 hours on the road). Upon arrival, I immediately booked a return ticket to Vientiane since I was afraid that there might be no schedule available anymore when I go back. I opted the VIP bus this time, not the sleeper one since I didn’t feel comfortable with the sleeper one. The fare costs 130,000 kip one way.

And oh, by the way, it was very cold in Luang Prabang. I was not used to checking the weather on the places where I will go so I wasn’t prepared with the cold weather of LPB. I didn’t bring any sweater or jacket or even shawl with me to help ease the cold. Good thing around noon, it wasn’t as cold anymore.

I’ve heard a lot of nice things about Luang Prabang. I also did some research about it before I came in (except the weather!) and I know that you can find one of the most beautiful falls in Laos in this city — the Kuang Si Waterfalls. You can also wake up early in the morning and climb up the Mount Phousi and catch the marvel at the beauty of the sunrise there. They said it’s one of the most awesome things you must do when in Luang Prabang.

And both of that, I didn’t do. I know, right!?

Instead, I went out for a walk around 3pm after I took a good rest in my hostel (Downtown Backpackers Hostel)– which by the way was a good choice since I only paid 51,000 Kip per night and it came with breakfast. After I had lunch at Indigo Cafe (yes, I was so fond of this restaurant!), I walked past the old street area and looked for Saffron Cafe — which I chanced upon while watching MarkAbroad‘s Youtube vlog about Luang Prabang. It was quite a walk from the downtown area to the cafe’s location but it was worth it. I super loved the relaxing vibe of this cafe. I ordered Iced Latte and their flourless chocolate brownie and opted to sit outside, facing the Mekong River. It was really the highlight of my LPB trip since I got to enjoy the serene view of the river while having a sip of my coffee and reading a book. It was really fresh from my this-is-what-I-imagined-my-chill-vacation-should-look-like box. Achievement unlocked!

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When it’s already getting dark and I had already finished my book and my coffee, I decided to go back to my hostel already and take a rest since I will be back to Vientiane already early morning the next day. I passed through the old town center and had some mango shake and Nutella crepe. The old town center reminded me of Calle Crisologo in Vigan Ilocos Sur in the Philippines — only that there were more backpackers areas in LPB. I also passed by the night market where they sell different kinds of Laos souvenirs.

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I only stayed one night in Luang Prabang since I still want to spend time with my friend who’s living in Vientiane before I go back to Bangkok. I just wanted to see and experience Luang Prabang even for a while. Plus, I think it would be nice to go there with friends so you can enjoy the activities more.

Laos: Simply Beautiful

Just like its tourism slogan, Laos is really simply beautiful. It was, in fact, a revelation to me. In my mind, I have a very humble image of this country. The people seemed to be content with the simplicity of life there and they’re happy about it. Simple joys, I would say. A part of me is wishing that when I come back to this nation again, there will a lot of changes when it comes to structures, roads, buildings, etc. However, a bigger part of me would want Laos to stay that way– simple and unpretentious. I know it’s selfish but if only I could keep this nation stay somewhat hidden so inconsiderate tourists could not ruin it.

This country is not something you will go back to for shopping or for grand amusement spots. But surely, you will go back here because your heart will cause you to. Once you step your foot in here, there’s already a part of you that would want to experience this nation again and again.

Special thanks to my good friend, Marianne, for adopting me and hosting me during this trip. I really appreciate the love and warmth I received even from the local friends there and some Filipino friends who went out of their way to assist me, making sure I am safe and welcomed me to their home. See you again, soon! 🙂

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God bless this nation.