Roller Coaster Ride, Extreme Hike

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A photo story about our Banaue, Ifugao-Buscalan, Kalinga trip on September 1-2, 2019

This is not just your ordinary road trip. Live with the locals and get exclusively tattooed in a traditional way by Apo Whang od. 


Going up, sliding down in split seconds, turning left and right alongside of the huge rocks and heights, round the cliffs, gold and green mountain valleys ahead–this is the kind of trip via Nueva Vizcaya- Ifugao-Mountain Province road. 

I’ve never known the word extreme road trip until we went to Banaue and Buscalan in Mountain Province.

On the first day of the ‘ber’ months, we hit the road in mid-night. My usual Sunday-Monday routine was given an unexpected twist experience with the upside down travel to the finest scenery of Mountain Province. 

It was originally a medical team trip composed of nurses and a doctor, but I was invited to join the adventure. We’re a total of fourteen pax plus our coordinator and organizer, Kuya Eddie and Ate Charm from Tara Let’s Explore event planner.


The trip went challenging yet exciting because of the twists and turns alongside of the Mountain province road. In the end, we were advised that it usually takes 15 hours but the driver was able to cut it down to 12. Our van driver from Taong Kalye 100 assured us it’s been like a playground for them, taking the same route four times a week.

Imagine our hearts pounding with thrill! It was purely an extreme ride! Eventually, we managed to overcome the ‘almost heart-attack stage’ to a fun-filled trip, setting aside dizziness and nausea, or I guess we’re just trying to forget it, otherwise we would end up smelling vomit. Overall, it was such a long trip we survived. 

Let the trek begin! Buscalan trail should only take 45 minutes but our team is composed of mostly beginners so we reached the top at an average pace of less than two-hour hike. For me, it was a tricky trail because of the concrete stairs in between a stiff altitude and rock slides.

Imagine our hearts pounding with thrill!

Meeting a 102-year old rockstar in the world of traditional tattoo, Apo Whang od is the oldest ‘mambabatok’ from the But-but tribe in Buscalan Village. I felt like I was star-strucked when I met her for the very first time because she’s so cool and she looks younger than her age. 

At first, it was awkward to approach her because she doesn’t speak Tagalog, only But-but dialect, but when it was my turn to take a photo with her– her smile is contagious! She has a ducane smile which I admire. I was truly tempted but I never get a tattoo. Sadly, not even Apo Whang od’s three-dot signature. 


Photo opp with Apo Whang Od at 102 years old

Apo Whang od had this naughty style of touching a male’s testicles when she’s in the mood. One of our co-traveler was actually sampled and it was a joyful scene and a precious moment with a local legend. 

Two days and one night stay in Buscalan was such a mix of experience. We traveled with our expectations and we end up overwhelmed with the overflowing warmth of the scenery in spite of the low temperature in Banaue. I love the wooden house where we shared sleeping beds and stories about knowing each other. A 12-hour-ride from Pampanga to Buscalan had put everyone into a goodnight sleep that quiet Sunday evening.


The locals were so accommodating and hospitable. I won’t forget the next morning when I wake up and I was greeted with a cold crisp wind and the view of the sky kissing the mountain while I sip a freshly brewed coffee. I had a chance to take a photo with a local lolo having his coffee, too. 

Morning coffee with the locals in Buscalan Village, Tinglayan, Kalinga
Courtesy shot by Xanthi


Our tour coordinators, Kuya Eddie and Ate Charm Asuncion are generous and friendly. They know when you can’t go on and give you a tap on your back to loosen up. I woke up in the evening for dinner and chatted with Kuya Eddie about my previous trek in Mt. Ulap. Ate Charm is such an experienced traveler as well, they both made it a meaningful trip for everyone. How can I forget the tastiest daeng na bangos that we ate for breakfast? Deliciously crunchy! 

When you travel, you encounter the most unexpected journey of your life. Came across different types of people whom you end up as comrades instead of just acquaintances. It is true that when you conquer a new destination, you become more humble and appreciative with what you have in life rather than complaining about the obstacles you can’t surpass.

Life is hard, but how you see it makes a lot more difference than just doing nothing about itTara Let’s Explore and Hang around!

You are a Mum, a Superhero in Disguise

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By Cecille De Guzman

‘It’s a privilege and a challenge at the same time.’

I can’t say this in general but rather personal thoughts that can be agreed by many. I’m writing this piece while thinking about a commercial on tv for a chocolate drink. It’s a scenario of a mum who gives all effort to let her son enjoy his childhood. She makes him carton aircraft, they ride a three wheeler together and fly like superman with the red cape she made with her bare hands. It was truly inspiring, relating and heartfelt!

For me, it’s a privilege and a challenge at the same time. I often say this, being a mum is a rewarding role. A reward you get for all efforts and unconditional love you give to your child.

Only my son can tell if I’ve done a great job but mums don’t expect rewards or praises or even special awards, she simply gives all her heart. When you’re a mum, it’s more than getting a perfect score or exceeding expectations. It is giving only the best. ‘Nothing more, nothing less, only the best that you can give.’

In the middle of deep thoughts like this, my son would distract me but it’s the sweetest distraction I ever get while he’s little. His tiny little fingers tickling on my arms or neck when he wants something. I cherish each day while he’s a little boy. His hugs and kisses never fail to fulfill my heart with so much joy. So much about being his mum, I wanted to be his superhero, too – to pamper him when he’s sick, to ease the pain when he’s hurt and to cheer him up if he feels bad. This is the best role I got in my entire life. A superhero who never gets tired because his laughter recharges my system after a long day at work.

I make small things a huge celebration of fun and time well-spent in his childhood memories. I make toothbrush time like musical and dance play every night just to keep him entertained. I make him appreciate and enjoy the food he eats (of course it’s not always a win win situation here). He gets bored sometimes so I let him eat chocolate ice cream even he had colds. I let him play with water and run around. I let him play outside provided that the gate is closed. I let him get dirty hands, snotty nose and messy hair in the morning. Afternoon naps meant swaying him in my arms or his Dada’s rocking until he fall asleep. In the evening he would love to wear his pair of Mickey mouse pajamas and wear socks, too. I let him scroll magazines, books and picture albums. I let him hold pen and crayons but it ends up a bad move because the newly paint room turn into a rainbow horizon, vandalized by my own beloved son!
I let him eat on his own especially when I found out he love his mashed veggies and fruit popsicles in his mashblox. I love to see him being totally independent but there are times he wants to be fed like I used to do when he’s just months old.  He loves vitamins and doesn’t resist taking meds so it’s a win win spot for me. I let him decide where to put his toys but usually it’s just neatly scattered on the floor. Looking at my husband’s eyes like what the hell happened in this room? I would cover my mouth when I sneeze and he would pretend sneezing, too and we’ll laugh out loud like what’s so funny? I love these moments. Mum duties is such fulfilling in every little way. I decided to write about this because I know there are mums out there who can share the same sentiments. I know how hard it is to become a mum but we know better than complaining, right? It’s worth the pain. It’s worth celebrating and remembering every quiet moments of your life ( which means they’re busy playing or sleeping). My son would read it one day and felt that he was so much loved and be loved as long as I live.

Don’t be fooled by this sweet thoughts and words of mine. A mother is not always a cheerleader or a sweet angel. Sometimes, she can turn into a tiger, too. I personally admit that I am a disciplinarian rather than raising an unruly child. I raise my voice occasionally and I slap his palm when he’d done something unacceptable. Only my son understands when my eyeballs seem to get out because he’s being completely noisy and fussy in a solemn crowd. Only my son understand my little tight grip on his arm while wearing a calm face because he wants to move around and the event haven’t even started. Trust me, a mother can transform into a dragon letting out a fire when pushed to the limits but only her child understands how it happens. Before I even forgot that I am a mother and a superhero in my son’s eyes, I let out a deep sigh and say ‘Go get out and come back after I cool down!’ Yeah, Can you imagine, I still manage to talk to him in English even I’m out of my league? Then he would turn his back and take one more sight, smile and wave goodbye to me saying ‘Baa, baah’’ in a sweet little low voice. I’ll grab and hug him tight with tickles and kisses and feel sorry for myself because, there, I lose again.

I don’t get a writer’s block when I’m talking about my son. Pouring out my thoughts like a deep well with overflowing water – full of wishes, full of love and full of hopes and dreams and care. After all, being a mum is the most fulfilling role I ever had. There are times when I talk to him eye to eye when I say something very important and serious, teaching him what’s the right thing he could have done or telling him he can do it right next time. My son would listen and not even wink his eyes when I’m saying something. Moments I treasure a lot because it felt so good being an instrument to mold someone’s moral values while I’m learning a lot about parents’ life.

No one can judge you being good or bad but only your child.They know better than judging because they understand how hard you tried to keep them safe from harm or to raise them as a fine grown up one. Only your child can see all your efforts of sleeping late at night and waking up super early in the morning and play up and down slides on your knees.Sometimes, sleeping is just an imaginary thing when you are a parent.There are times you think, does sleeping parents really exist?Then you tell yourself It’s a joke!A really big joke for others! Only your child knows how you can prepare a delicious mashed pumpkin and spinach when it tastes nothing but bittersweet for others. Only your child appreciates the storytelling, drawing, singing and dancing together until you all lie down in bed and say goodnight but he remains awake because he pleases to turn the lights on. ‘Dear, just turn the lights on so we get down to rest and have some peace!’. Haha! ‘I win’. Said the little fellow lying beside you. ‘Go to sleep!!!’

Only in your child’s eyes show your hidden powers that no one ever realized.You are a mum, a superhero in disguise.

Best Place Called Home

(Raising a child with a speech delay)

Family bonding creates a huge impact to encourage a child to speak. This is what I found out over the last two years.

I’m a mum of a three year-old child with speech delay. And the only place I could take him, instead of going to expensive therapy clinics, is at the four corners of our home and into the church.

How to raise a child who is challenged to communicate? It’s never easy. But, it lead me to such a fulfilling journey of discovering my son’s strengths and challenges. I enjoy writing down and documenting his milestones every single day.

As a parent, I seek for the best therapist in town or the high-end medical facility that can help my child overcome this speech delay stage. But the truth is, we just can’t afford on-going therapy, evaluation, consultations and lots of doctors opinion that costs more than my monthly salary.

I have to read a lot, join groups of parents with speech delay child, and dig up research and findings about related case studies for children with developmental delays. I have to improvise and think of a tactic to let him express the words he wants to say. Just like a blog I wrote about a ‘Puppet Tactic” using the world’s number one self-feeding tool called Mashblox. 👇
https://mashblox.com/…/puppet-tactic-we-let-them-speak-mash…

It’s not a simple task for a busy working-mum like me. I used to feel guilty for having a lack of time to spend with him the whole day. But, I figured it out how to make it up when I’m home. I’ve researched some effective home therapy and the best app to help my son talk. Just like the updated version of ‘Talking Tom’. Tom repeats what my son is saying so it encourages him to talk more. I bought a wireless microphone to encourage him to sing.

I’ve discovered that the first best place to encourage a child to communicate is at home. It’s where they learn the basics. Honestly, this is the only thing I know and can afford so I have to enhance what I’ve learned from the experts with my background in Psychology.

Our day to day journey has been filled with huge challenges but we hold on tight to our faith that my son will pass this stage in God’s time.

My son is turning four soon. He’s no longer that little cuddle bear I used to rock late at night and feed at three in the morning. So much about the things that I missed when he was a tiny cheeky baby, I’m proudest of his speech improvement and milestones from a chirpy toddler to a little gentleman now. He’s growing up fast and I love how he has developed some of his father’s daily routine like combing his hair, wearing his big shoes and walking around the house like his ‘Dada’ does.

He was 9 months past two years old when I started bringing him to Children’s worship service (PNK). Soon, he’ll be officially included on the list of attendees every Sunday Morning. I’m just so excited as my son takes another milestone in his age.

As a former Children’s Worship Service (CWS) teacher who married a co-CWS teacher in 2014, I’d love to see my son possess good values and learn the right way of worship service at an early age. My husband and I both know the importance of teaching and nurturing a child with the gospel of truth to the kids. And most especially, it’s a vow that we dedicate for him to pass the stage of speech delay.

Our family bonding has turned into precious moments! It’s helping my child express his thoughts through singing, babbling, playing, laughing, and repeatedly talking every single time.

My son can sing high notes now while pretending to hold an improvised mic or a hymnal. It’s true when they say that the child imitates what he sees. One time, I was secretly laughing when I watch him in front of the mirror while pretending to shave his cheeks and chin– like father, like son. Of course, we don’t let him hold a razor but the scene has totally cracked me up.

There are times when I caught my son playing alone with the tiny cars and little bears piled up and he’s seriously making a ’broom-broom’ sound and a loud ‘ahhh’ when one bear is almost falling from the truck. He can express different emotions now, and I love it. He can show love and affection when I pretend to be crying. He could tease me when I’m serious and his giggles are just music to my ears. He can pretend to be crying when he wants our full attention. Then, I’d ease it up for him and cuddle him like I always do when he was little.

Our family has been challenged with my child’s speech delay but it doesn’t stop us right there. We have to create little happy memories to help him overcome this stage. We always encourage him to express his thoughts, anger, disappointment, sadness, and joyfulness. Let him deal with his feelings but help him understand difficulties by rubbing his back and giving him a kiss on his forehead and a big hug.

He can’t speak clearly but he leads the prayer before we go to sleep. (We still have to decode what he prayed for last night)😁

He can’t speak well but he listens carefully and behave inside the church. (Take note: he behaves better than the older kids)😉

He doesn’t say hi, hello, but he would greet a fellow with a big smile and say ‘bye-bye’ to the other kids and elders he met.

He doesn’t say it but express his thoughts wholeheartedly. His gestures are so expressive, and I don’t have any doubt he would be able to work out how to say it into words.

Our family bonding every night and on weekends turn to be precious little memories that can help him achieve milestones in his age. I know, he might need to attend a speech therapy someday, but we have to figure out how to help him out of love and creativity. We know our son better than anyone else. He has gone through levels of developments which we celebrate as God’s miracles to our little family.

As his parents, we both know that our efforts to teach him how to be a good servant of God, nurture and nourish him with love and care, and encourage him to be a better man as he grows old, will not only help him pass the delay stage but to be a better person.

We need to strongly hold on to our faith to be able to overcome challenges. As parents, we also need to do the tricks and magic of family bonding moments at a place we call HOME. And it’s the only affordable resources at the moment– family love.

Home is where we learn the basics about dealing and living life. Teaching the kids with the right foundation of faith and values is the key to get all our prayers–answered in time.

Earth: Let’s Face it!

What I stand for is what I stand on– Earth.

anonymous

“Leave nothing but footprints. Take nothing but pictures. Kill nothing but time…”

These are some of the basic rules when you climb up the mountain, when you go for a walk in the park, wandering at the beach, or simply enjoying the serenity and peace in nature.

Have you been a tourist, a voyager, a mountaineer, or a morning jogger? Probably, you might have witnessed a perfect sunrise, a dewy mist of a foggy morning, and a cold crisp air in the night. Do you see the falling leaves and how they pile up into a golden-brown pieces of dried mats? They go back to the face of the earth, leaving nothing but silhouettes of viens and stems. You might have seen a photo or two of such fascinating clutters on the ground, under the tree where they’re scaterred around.

On the other hand, have you ever imagined what happened to the plastic bottles and cups if not properly segregated as a trash or into a recycled craft? Chances are, they’re all lying lifeless at the park or on the sidewalks where no one cares about.

Take a deep breath and think before you buy your fav frappe, an icy bubble tea in a plastic cup, or a frozen smoothie. Where are you supposed to through the palstic cups aftermath? Choose to save the earth rather than help destroy it. Let’s face it! And keep it safe from the destructive hands of the people who think they make life convenient while leaving the earth a lifeless planet.

You think a clean-up drive is enough? But, where do you throw out the plastic bags, disposable cups? Back to the land you’ve cleaned up? Take actions and be responsible to take care of your habitat. After all, it’s where we all live. The earth is our shelter, hence we should take care of it more than anything else. When it cries, we suffer. When it dies, we can’t go anywhere.

Learn how to appreciate the beauty of nature by not littering a single trash wherever you go. We can help make the Earth a better place to live in, by planting more trees and promoting sustainable living. What could have been fun than living back to the basics? Definitely life changing! Try going out sometimes, and feel the rain on your skin, savour the sunshine that can take away the shiver of the evening. Try reaching out the peak of awareness where you solemnly promise to take care of the land that bears the food you eat out of your hand.

Let’s face it. The face of the earth is the face of the people living on it. What can we do to help lessen the burden of nature? Food scarcity, lack of potable water source, flooding, natural disasters and calamities, landslides, and tsunami are nightmares we don’t want to end up to.


Let’s face it– we only live once, and so is the Earth we live in.

Three Peaks, One Day: The Sea of Clouds

An inclined paradise

By Cecille V. De Guzman

Mt. Ulap (Ampucao-Sta. Fe Ridge) Itogon, Benguet

You won’t see the true beauty of nature just by taking pictures. Stop and stay for a while! And do something to promote eco-conservation and sustainable living. 

On the twelfth of May 2019 I was one of the 14 pax of beginners and pros who have conquered Mt. Ulap in spite of the unpredictable weather. I had the greatest experience of trekking the first mountain after several years past Junior camps, Mt. Isarog trail, Tigaon Hills and the Hibiscus Camp in Consocep. It was nothing but childhood memories but a lifestyle carried over my adult life–an advocacy and love for nature.


After a four-hour-travel from Dau, Mabalacat terminal to the jump-off trail in Ampucao, the whole trip never failed my expectations up to the glorious peaks of  Ambanao-Paoay (1788 masl), Gungal (1814masl) and lastly Mt. Ulap Summit (1846 masl). Yeah, three peaks in one day hike!

I was able to touch the clouds and taste it as I breathe in the cold crisp of humid air on top of the mountain. More than the panoramic view down below, I realized that going up there is not just a matter of physical activity but an advocacy running in my veins for years. We can do something to keep the fresh air, save the trees, and conserve natural resources in this shelter we called– Earth.  

A wrist band souvenir I got from the trip


Sixth Sense: See Yourself Glow

By Cecille V. De Guzman

Do you have a sixth sense? Not as creepy as it sounds, but your sense of ability to see yourself through other people’s point of view.

I’m a guinea pig of my own thoughts but not self-centered. I might have read about it somewhere, that in order to improve and figure out my purpose, I need to see myself through someone else’s eyes. What do people see in me? How do they see me? And at the end of the day, I also ask myself– how do I see myself? Am I goal oriented, self-determined, emotionally, spiritually, and socially balanced? Or, have I felt incapacitated, misunderstood, and feared?

It’s important to know, and eventually determine how and what you see in yourself that others don’t. So, the next time you receive prejudice and scrutiny, keep this in mind–you have the power to see yourself within and you know yourself better than these blind-folded critics. Some may see you as if they know you, but only those people you allow to see you inside will understand and appreciate you.

I’m writing my thoughts in a clear view of myself being assessed and gauged in terms of my capabilities and opportunities– from my own point of view to yours. I know myself well, but I need honest feedback and a trusted person’s advice to validate every angle of my decision. I’m confident with my work, but I need a colleague’s suggestion and a mentor’s opinion if I’m on the right path. I don’t think it’s lack of independence, but purely initiative to consult others and create an open atmosphere for communication.

I’ve never settled for anything ‘not proven and validated’, including my fears and doubts about something I need to take. I usually take time to visualize myself doing what I think is right and compare it to — what others think that might be better.

Don’t fear to break the norm, but take courage to consider common expectation. You are the commander of your own life, but the people around you can help you become a better person. Choose the right people to surround you, and avoid those with ‘negative signs’. However, you can’t avoid dealing with some of them, so you should highlight only the learning rather than the unbecoming. ‘Hashtag’ the positivity, not the negativity.

Many times, I asked– what am I up to? What can I offer to the world? Whoa, what a big word! But, have you ever thought about it before? What do other people say about you? What do close friends tell about you? (when you can’t hear them)

Does it matter to you? Do you even care about what other people say? Or, do you just want to listen to the voice inside you? It’s important to evaluate these things, otherwise, you’ll end up being ‘me-myself-and-I’ kind of person. ‘No person is an island’– it’s true.

Seriously, I’m not talking about what is good or bad, and what is right or wrong– let’s leave it to the preachers. I am talking about being just an ordinary person who does the day-to-day activity. Are you a friend, a colleague, a passenger, a driver,  a teacher, a family member? What kind of difference have you made so far? What sets you aside from being ordinary? What makes people value you, as a friend, as a colleague, and as a person? What makes you glow in the crowd of ordinary people? Have you got a sixth sense where you can see yourself through someone else’s eyes, and admire you for being who/what you are?

I am extraordinary, passionate, creative, appreciative, and straightforward; It’s how I see myself. Hence, I’m writing this daily insight to you– to encourage, affirm, and help you assess yourself, too. It’s my own way of making a difference.

It is nobody’s business to criticize others unless otherwise given permission to criticize one’s opinion, personality, and/or ability. Nobody knows better what you’re up to, but yourself alone. Yourself is your best friend, but be careful how you put yourself in a spotlight. Beware of seeing just ‘all the good things’ about you, instead, see yourself through someone else’s eyes where you can see your flaws and insecurities.

Not only your own perspective will help you determine your strength and weaknesses. Nothing is wrong about considering what other people say about you, just don’t indulge and get pressured about it too much. It’s just a matter of ‘thinking like them’ to help you analyze your failures, your attitude, and the opportunities you need for self-improvement.

If you seek advice, listen and weigh things properly. Why would you even ask for a friend’s advice and go on with what you think is acceptable? It doesn’t make any sense. When you ask for honest feedback, learn to accept and digest it. Don’t ask for something you would not even consider thinking about. It’s practically a waste of time for both of you.

Therefore, be confident about how you assess yourself with the help of the people you permit to criticize you, not from those who give unsolicited advice. You know who you are with your five senses. Learn the sixth sense– it’s seeing yourself through someone else’s eyes.

Finally, see yourself glow in the crowd of ordinary people.

~~

Take a Pause

By Cecille De Guzman

Is it okay to slow down sometimes?

In a world where everything is fast-paced, it is okay to slow down and take a pause. The last three decades of my life taught me how to put the reality in a series of scenarios where I can watch them play and pause if I need to. I have learned that it’s not necessary to be always ‘on the go’, but rather take a pause to realize what is going on.

Ask yourself now, ‘what is going on in my life’? I ask myself the same question when it seems like things are unmanageable. No one would ask me this question except myself. Yes, I slow down and take a pause because I need to realize why my ideas do not seem to work; why I don’t get expected results; why am I not able to make it; why did I fail after trying hard?

The answer is honest and simple. I would not know the answers to these questions if I keep on going. Should I keep on running even though it means missing a lot of things? Or, should I just walk to have clear thinking?

We all need to take a pause and slow down. Because weighing which is a better option can lead you to an ideal decision. When you take a pause on the things happening around you, you will notice this one thing. Lack of understanding of why things are happening in your life leads you to the path of nowhere. Where is your direction if you haven’t figured out your purpose anyway? Will you keep on running until you fall down because life must go on? Stop! You should take a pause.

I was once running fast in my early twenties, but I stumble and fall without learning why I was running after all. My life used to be a ‘work-eat-and-sleep’ process. It was the fastest way ‘I know and I can’. Because I thought life must go on, I didn’t stop until I stumble and fall in the wrong direction. I got tired without knowing why. I was lonely but I couldn’t cry. I failed many times without learning the lessons in life. I thought life must go on, so I didn’t take a pause to know the answers to the ‘whys’. I was wrong.

It’s okay to slow down sometimes. In a railroad crossing, there’s signage that says ‘STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN’. I used to wonder why it has been my favorite public safety warning, but now I know why. We all need to STOP because life can be so tiring and demanding at times; LOOK around because lessons in life are waiting to be uncovered; and lastly, LISTEN to what your experiences teach you because it’s where you can find your purpose and direction moving forward.

It’s okay. Take a pause sometimes.


Humility- The Secret of all Success Stories

You don’t need to act like you know it all when you don’t.

I believe in the old saying ‘little knowledge is dangerous’. In fact, it could mean a total destruction, such a really big mess.

Growing up, I always keep in mind that my knowledge isn’t sufficient enough. I always crave to learn more. Know more in details, bits and pieces of learning.

Because learning is an endless process, I’d been thirsty and hungry for knowledge. Beyond learning, it’s important to remain humble.

I once typed in my keyboard ‘I wanted to write something that all ages would read’.

In reality, I only have few hints about what topic to write about. Being caught in the middle of obligations and daily tasks as an ‘adult’, I decided I should read a lot. I wouldn’t call myself a bookworm but at least I’ve read more than a hundred books, newspapers, bulletin boards,flyers, newsletters, magazines, blogs,comic book series and even the old newspaper used for wrapping ‘tinapa’(smoked fish). I read a lot so I would learn a lot.

In spite of the praises and compliments I received from my colleagues, workmates, boss, loved ones and friends, I still feel like there’s a lot of areas for improvement waiting to be developed.

In my opinion, I do not believe in perfection and mastery. Everything needs to be honed, nurtured and innovated for a better outcome. I remain humble with the little knowledge I knew because I believe some people are just better than me.

I remember my English teacher, Mrs. Jane Sanao calling me ‘Savior of the Ship’ because I used to ‘bravely’ raise my hand when nobody seemed to try in the class. I didn’t know the answer either! I was shy to try but it’s the least thing I knew to speak out and humbly admit – how I perceived her question and ‘my answer is this’, regardless if it’s right or wrong.

Her questions about English literature were thought-provoking. She had to leave us, her advisory class, for a School Principal position outside the town. I was literally crying at the back of the class when she was telling us ‘she’s leaving’. On her last day, she wrote me a letter, a very inspiring letter.

I wrote about this on my book ‘A Hundred and Fifty Days – A High School Memoir’ (sadly got delayed for publishing but soon to be out in the book market).

Ma’am Jane wrote “to hone your writing skills and start by contributing to our school publication”. It was quite an average -length letter composed of about twenty uplifting sentences. She wrote it in a plain white bond paper.  I guess that was where it all officially started.

My writing journey blossomed from poems to short stories, from news report to featured news highlights, from insightful blogs to personal opinions, from website pages to books in progress. It all began from my old journal notebooks, colored black and gray.

I know it will all come down to reality. It’s just the latter part in process so I think that I’m almost there. Dearest people around me remind me to stay on a low ground. It’s very important, especially when you’re trying to build a profile of a ‘motivational writer and speaker be like’.

I have plenty things to prove to myself and my beloved readers. My only promise is to keep writing, learning and sharing it to you all. Probably, it may give you a ‘good point’. Somehow, it can make you ‘think’ and digest it in your own mind.

I’m not doing this just to be famous someday. What is fame if you have a negative image? I’m doing all of these because I want to share a delightful insight, I want to move your hearts, I want to encourage, I want to inspire young and old people. It’s not too late to learn. There is no age limit for determined dreamers, nor ‘late-bloomer’ for fresh ideas and ambitions.

Someday, ‘I want to write something that all ages would read’. Humility is one of the first important values I learned in life. I’m sharing these thoughts to the young ones because the world may confuse and overwhelm you in a hard way. I’m telling these things to the old ones because you might think ‘you know it all’ by experience or knowledge, but the truth reveals – you just knew few details of everything.

‘Don’t stop discovering and learning good things. It might help you become a better person than you think you are’.

Beyond all success stories I heard, it was all about humility I admire so much. It gives you the spotlight where you don’t really have to say a lot. Your attitude speaks a lot about yourself.

Honestly, I still struggle in English vocabulary. Tell you what, I still keep a dictionary or Mr. google every step of the way. Superheros need a backup. I’m not a ‘super dooper’ so definitely I need one. I understand that there’s a lot of things to learn, especially when I think about English writing field.

I still have few lists to try in terms of learning. I decided to take English online courses recently and probably getting a Bachelor’s degree in English major starting this year. (Hopefully, time and resources would agree).

Note that I I have aligned my priorities accordingly. I don’t just beat around the bush or say this and that. I need a sense of direction to achieve something.

While I take each steps carefully, I play a humble role of being someone who needs ‘more learning’, ‘more understanding’ how the world really works, and the people I meet everyday.

Once you think that you ‘know it all’ and stop learning, you’re beginning to sound like ‘the wisest idiot’ trying to convince others you know something, but yourself proclaims ‘you don’t need to act like you know it all’. Fair enough? Remind yourself about that the next time you feel like ‘you know everything!’. Try to keep your feet on the ground.

‘Be a humble learner, not a great pretender’.

Yours truly, Ces.


How To Be You?

By Cecille V. De Guzman

‘Don’t ask yourself to change to be like someone else. You’ll end up being an impostor inside your own body’

As much as I love telling stories, sharing my own experiences or other people I know who have fascinating journey, my favorite ‘topic’ to talk and write about is personality. It is so diverse but explicit enough to understand, appreciate and accept.

A dictionary says, one of the definitions of ‘personality’ is the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character.

Regardless how it is defined by google or Merriam-Webster, one thing I know is about individual differences. You’re distinctive character makes you the real ‘you’. What makes you cool? What makes up your insecurities? What causes your fear? What do you think you’re good at? What are your potentials? Your weakness and strength? How do you see yourself before you sleep or when you wake up in the morning? All questions can be asked to yourself, your own personality.

You are who you really are. Do you know yourself better or have you tried comparing yourself to others? Don’t even think about competition with other person’s ability or disability because everyone is completely different from one another.

Your at your best but others may be at their worst. You’re wearing a calm and proud face yet it doesn’t seem to rhyme inside because you’re full of insecurities and doubt on your own capabilities.

The first time I heard about ‘individual differences’ is during my college days. I took Psychology course for two years and had gone pretty absorbed with the wonders about behavioral science, anger management, goal orientation and  personality development. I love reading, too, so it kind compliment the fields that I took during college days. I was a news reporter and literary writer at ‘The Democrat’ (University’s official publication) since I was a freshman. I got few names in my head who taught me about complexity of one’s personality and the secret to ‘knowing yourself well’. My co-writers, mentors, advisers and counselors who helped me understand the questions I had about myself.

You can’t say that you know yourself so well if you’re too afraid to take a risk in your own decision. You can’t say ‘I can do it better next time’ if you’re still in doubt about yourself. You can’t win a fight if you don’t prepare yourself to lose. Your point of view describes the way you look things up. Your words mirror the kind of person hiding in the deepest darkest place of your safe-zone. Your thoughts reflect your actions. What kind of personality are you trying to build inside you right now? What influences you can be contagious to anyone get along. Be careful when you learn few steps because it may lead you astray without careful thinking, cautious analyzation of who you really are, what you really are – as a person. It is your personality, your perception, your views and opinion, your judgement and realization that makes you the real you.

There’s no such thing as ‘perfect personality’ but there can be ideal. We get inspiration from people who have vast experiences, positive values and thoughts about things. However, we are in-denial of our own imperfections sometimes. Too much longing to be somebody else when you can be someone like the ‘real you’. Before you think about ‘how to be someone else’ think about ‘how to be you’.

Learn to appreciate your lapses, accept your limitations and be subjective in making conclusion about yourself. It’s not a bad thing to deal with your incapability. It’s called fearlessness. You are brave enough to accept, appreciate and develop to overcome it along your way.

You can be influenced with positive vibes but never let yourself indulge in possessing one’s personality- it’s called a ‘copycat’.

Have your own unique way of dressing up, or talking, or walking and laughing. Authenticity is a trend. It never runs out of style. Being unique is different from being true to yourself. Knowing yourself means possessing the kind of personality that you’re comfortable with. You like rugged styles, you’re confident talking in public, you’re shy, you’re vocal, it’s okay, you’re fine. You can’t pretend to be someone else because it looks pretty cool.

You don’t need to accept the trend if it’s not really agreeable in your will. It’s like eating a cake but you really crave for a slice of pizza. You’ll end up longing for it’s savory taste. You’ll end up hungry because you’re not satisfied. The cake didn’t satiate your taste buds. It’s not what you’re craving for. It’s not what you really want.

It’s like filling your head with unknown thoughts, you won’t recognize somebody else’s beliefs, but you are fully aware where you stand. Your personality can be influenced but never it will change you to something ‘brand-new’.

One’s personality can be developed and cultivated but never fully-changed. It is healthy to admire an ideal personality but be authentic and unique in your own way. Don’t stumble and fall into comparison. Don’t ask yourself to change to be like someone else. You’ll end up being an impostor inside your own body. Before you ask ‘how to be you’ to somebody, ask yourself this question first.

How to be you?


Back Me Up, Dad!

By Cecille V. De Guzman

‘When mum is out, back me up Dad!’

I don’t want to take the limelight from Dads out there who are brave enough to take care of their little ones. They are man enough to show love and affection. They are good in changing diapers, sterilized feeding bottles, laundry warriors and superheros during fun, restless times.

In this modern set up where some women don’t need to stay at home to be called ‘mum’ and/or ‘wife’, I began to appreciate and look at my own household .

My husband takes care of our three-year old while I’m out in the office. He had to give up his little business and take in-charge in nurturing our child. There were opportunities along with furniture upholstery and carpentry where he assist my father-in-law without taking so much time away from our son. We both decided the importance of taking care of our son while he’s young. We know what’s best for him more than anyone else.

While I’m a working-mum, he feeds him in the morning with milk, oatmeal and crackers. I wouldn’t be this confident to leave my three-year old everyday if it’s not because of my husband. We both know what to teach him and we both know the ‘hows and whys’ and the ‘yes and nos’ when he wants something or when he laughs, when he cries.

He understands my son’s language when I seem not to figure it out. Dad seems to ‘know it all’ when he dives deeper than just doing necessary things versus taking time to learn so he can do it carefully and lovingly.

I believe that no one can nurture a child better than the child’s parents. A parent’s love is pure and balanced perfectly. There were carriers and guardians who can do this job properly but not equally and perfectly as mum and dad does.

There was a time when my son was nearly six months old when I left my job to take care of him while my husband was the one in-charged in our finances. I never regret every single moment I watched my son fall asleep and wake up in the morning wearing his toothless smile.

I gave all my heart and time when he was turning one. When it was time for me to step out, Dad back me up…

He’s expert in multitasking household chores and playing with our little one at the same time. He put in the clothes inside the dryer while there’s tiny little fingers wrapped around his neck. This kid is an orchid! He always want to be cuddled and carried by his dad.

There are times when I’m not in the mood to move around and our son turns to his dad. Mums do need to recharge sometimes. In times when I need to slow down, dad is there to keep things going. He makes piggyback-time more fun than the horses at the carousel. Dad can wash the dishes, clean the house, do the laundry, dust the room, chuck the woods, cook meals and rock our son to sleep on afternoon naps.

He still have time to make a perfect coffee in the morning and wake up as early as I am. I have notes posted on the wall or in the mirror if my son is taking meds. Before I left, there’s this never ending reminders about healthy meals, porridge is ideal, carrots are good, let him eat an apple a day or have him drink plenty of water. He seems to remember it all but end up forgetting one.

He’s the ultimate ‘time and mood saver’ when I get too tired to even put my son’s pajamas on or give his vitamins, he’s there to back me up all the time.

I couldn’t be more grateful to have such a supportive husband and dad to my son. It’s too much to say that he’s man enough to take his time, effort and pride to stay at home and watch our son grow up. He would tell me what our son did the whole day. It was like I’m around the whole time even when I’m out. He’s my eyes to watch over my son, when he stumble yet bravely stand without even a tear fall. He’s there when I need to have someone back me up when I blow up my mind because of the clatters and chaos of being in a state of hormonal imbalance.

‘When mum is out, Dad back me up!’

Our son knows our cues. Who’s in the mood for fun or who’s willing to sing him a lullaby. I know how time flies so fast and time isn’t enough to fill the gaps sometimes, but I am confident that I have a loving husband and my son’s dad to back me up when it’s time to teach him the ‘hows and whys’ while growing up.

Beyond understanding it is called sacrifice and unconditional love to take in-charge of a role that needs no experts but only pure and genuine love.

It is true that there’s nothing like ‘mama’s love’ but when dad step up, it’s more than anything that lasts.

Salute to all the back up Dads! You all rock!

In this modern set up where some women don’t need to stay at home to be called mum and/or wife, I began to appreciate and look at my own household .

My husband takes care of our three-year old while I’m out in the office. He had to give up his little business and take in-charge in nurturing our child. There were opportunities along with furniture upholstery and carpentry where he assist my father-in-law without taking so much time away from our son. We both decided the importance of taking care of our son while he’s young. We know what’s best for him more than anyone else.

While I’m a working-mum, he feeds him in the morning with milk, oatmeal and crackers. I wouldn’t be this confident to leave my three-year old everyday if it’s not because of my husband. We both know what to teach him and we both know the ‘hows and whys’ and the ‘yes and nos’ when he wants something or when he laughs, when he cries.

Dad understands my son’s language when I seem not to figure it out. Dad seems to ‘know it all’ when he dives deeper than just doing necessary things versus taking time to learn so he can do it carefully and lovingly.

I believe that no one can nurture a child better than the child’s parents. A parent’s love is pure and balanced perfectly. There were carriers and guardians who can do this job properly but not equally and perfectly as mum and dad does.

There was a time when my son was nearly six months old when I left my job to take care of him while my husband was the one in-charged in our finances. I never regret every single moment I watched my son fall asleep and wake up in the morning wearing his toothless smile.

I gave all my heart and time when he was turning one. When it was time for me to step out, Dad back me up…

He’s master in multitasking household chores and playing with our little one at the same time. He put in the clothes inside the dryer while there’s tiny little fingers wrapped around his neck. This kid is an orchid! He always want to be cuddled and carried by his dad.

There are times when I’m not in the mood to move around and our son turns to his dad. Mums do need to recharge sometimes. In times when I need to slow down, dad is there to keep things going. He makes piggyback-time more fun than the horses at the carousel. Dad can wash the dishes, clean the house, do the laundry, dust the room, chuck the woods, cook meals and rock our son to sleep on afternoon naps.

He still have time to make a perfect coffee in the morning and wake up as early as I am. I have notes posted on the wall or in the mirror if my son is taking meds. Before I left, there’s this never ending reminders about healthy meals, porridge is ideal, carrots are good, let him eat apples or have him drink plenty of water. He seems to remember it all but end up forgetting one.

He’s the ultimate ‘time and mood saver’ when I get too tired to even put my son’s pajamas on or give his vitamins, he’s there to back me up all the time.

I couldn’t be more grateful to have such a supportive husband and dad to my son. It’s too much to say that he’s man enough to take his time, effort and pride to stay at home and watch our son grow up. He would tell me what our son did the whole day. It was like I’m around the whole time even when I’m out. He’s my eyes to watch over my son, when he stumble yet bravely stand without even a tear fall. He’s there when I need to have someone back me up when I blow up my mind because of the clatters and chaos of being in a state of hormonal imbalance.

‘When mum is out, Dad back me up!’

Our son knows our cues. Who’s in the mood for fun or who’s willing to sing him a lullaby or might as well rock-a-bye. I know how time fly so fast and time isn’t enough to fill the gaps sometimes, but I am confident that I have a loving husband and my son’s dad to back me up when it’s time to teach him ‘hows and whys’ while growing up.

Beyond understanding it is called sacrifice and unconditional love to take in-charge of a role that needs no experts but only pure and genuine love.

It is true that there’s nothing like ‘mama’s love’ but when dad step up, it’s more than anything that lasts.

Salute to all the back up Dads! You all rock!

Pay Attention To Your Emotion

Have you ever tried to hide and ignore your emotion?

You show the world you look great wearing that smile but you are broke deep inside.

You say you are so blessed with these things you have but you suffer with your own insecurities and failed relationship to the people you love.

You tell the world ‘it’s me looking gorgeous on my hills or suit and tie but you’re so weak to stand with all the troubles in your life.

You say ‘hello’ but you need help deep inside.

I want you to think about it for a while. And maybe, just maybe I can help you talk about it instead of pretending or faking a smile.

People are crazy hungry with attention nowadays. Social media has made significant changes in our lives. It affects, not only our day-to-day routine but our emotion, impression, expression, and definition of emotions. How easily can we react on a post through these emoticons?

Attention seekers use social media to express what they feel, or just anything they want to say. Please don’t get me wrong when I say ‘attention seekers’, many will react angry face to me but let me put it this way: Why do you post on social media? Why you have to update this ‘My day’ thing?

My personal answer is that I want to get people’s attention, my friends specifically and tell them “hey this is what I feel today, this is my opinion, this is what I stand for, this is my taste on clothing, this is what I did last time, this is me expressing myself “.

And you get likes or different reactions, some will even share if you did a great job presenting an inspiring idea. It’s how I perceive it in social media. Attention.

Many people want to get attention. Period. Let’s live it to them- for better or for worse. It’s everyone’s responsibility to be cautious and sensitive in posting anything on social media. It tells a whole lot about yourself. So think about your intention before you post. Pay attention to your emotion, so it won’t drag you to the irony of unsolicited reactions, unnecessary comments, and sometimes misconception of the real story behind.

There are some who can fake what they really feel. Those who hide the ‘drama’ behind their outfit or the food they eat. Some people manifest to escape from reality through this kind of diversions in life, money, fame, abundant living, excellent talents, the places they’ve traveled where in fact, they’re stuck in the secret hideout of their emotions. It’s where they hide everything they feel bad about life – inside their mind and heart.

There’s no rule in Facebook saying ‘Don’t post your picture or video if you’re eating street food or you just saw a cockroach flying! There’s no silly things about your expression about something, only negative reactions from people who have negative perspectives in life. If you post ‘feeling unhappy’, you will get reactions mostly concerned why or how you feel, and a very concerned friend will send you a message or call you checking what happened.This is where I want to put the ‘attention seeker’ thing appropriately because you feel bad and you need to share it to your friends, it’s fine. You don’t look okay, go on, don’t give a damn. You pay attention to every detail of your emotion so you can properly assess it, and learn to accept that ‘you don’t have to look okay every day.

We pay attention to almost everything now. Regardless of our interest there’s something that will catch our attention when we check our phone, when we watch a movie, when we walk in the park or simply sit there and watch people come and go.

The problem is, you somehow try to hide your feelings and pretend to be okay even when you’re not. When was the last time you pay attention to your own feelings, to your frustration, to your guilt and to your disappointment? Are you afraid it might affect your daily activities if you bank into your emotion? Let that thoughts fade away. Give yourself a moment to pay attention to your emotion. How? Take a seat or have some time to be alone. You can call a friend or you can simply cry it out to the point that there’s no more tears left. If you don’t let it out for a moment, it will stay there until you have a compilation of your own library of frustrations,disappointments, and depression.

Why we end up being an actor and actress sometimes when we’re in trouble is that we somehow tend to express an image that ‘I am STRONG!’, ‘I CAN DO IT’, ‘I MOVED ON’, ‘I CAN HANDLE EVERYTHING’… Like, really? Did you just say you are Superman? or Superwoman? The truth is, you feel exactly different deep inside. You are ‘badtrip!’ as we usually call it. You feel incomplete because your age doesn’t compliment your achievements in life. Or you’re simply down because you fail many times, you feel everyday is a ritual, you hate the traffic, you wanted to break up with this feeling of emptiness, you are surrounded by your friends but you feel alone. You have money but why are you unhappy? You feel jealous to those who are succeeding in their chosen path, You still want more even though you had enough…

You’re sad, it’s fine! You’re broke it’s fine! You’re ashamed, it’s fine! You’re disappointed, it’s fine! You’re depressed without knowing the reason why, it’s fine! You keep all these feelings to yourself, NO it’s Not Fine! Cry it out! Pay attention to yourself, to your emotion.. so people will catch up what’s going on to your life. even though people have their own plates to handle, we tend to empathize to those who are in need., it’s our nature to help even though we need help as well. Just don’t hide those feelings. If you’re afraid it might ruin your day. Guess what? You are totally ruined inside yourself making all the effort to hide and deny it. Let your friends know your thoughts. SHOUT IT OUT!. Pay attention so they pay attention to you, too.

I would like to quote Band Perry’s song If I Die Young that goes like this…”so maybe then you’ll hear the words I’ve been singing, funny when you’re dead how people starts listening”…

Make people listen to what you say when you still have time and chance to do it. Pay attention and get attention when you feel down before it’s too late. Reach out and we’ll talk about it over a cup of coffee and a perfect view of sunset.