Category Archives: Musings

The Long Pause

He said he misses my stories. I rolled my eyes and almost immediately spat out the most insulting phrase ever, I Know, Right.

It was sarcastic, of course. As a blogger–sort of–I’m not really sure if people really care about what they read, especially when posts are overly dramatic and that there are more important issues in the world apart from my own thoughts.

Abandoning my blog for a few months isn’t exactly a deliberate step to get over the ‘adventurous life’ I left behind and stop regretting my decisions. For some reason, things have not been kind. Or that I am simply not kind enough to myself. Either way, it’s been tough. I stopped writing because–just like that–nothing inspires me anymore or at least, I haven’t been motivated to write. I’m the type of person who can write about dirt if I can make something out of it but not even my most interesting moments the past few months (definitely more intriguing than dirt) were able to make its way to me and be transformed into words. Logging in to my account is a struggle, let alone write something. Anything.

But here’s one anyway.

…Somehow the word about some makeup hobbyists from UPLB offering their hair and makeup services got out, and Ate Sheryl and I found ourselves reveling in an experience of a lifetime.

Two years ago, I pledged to myself that I would grow out my hair and upon reaching my waist, I would cut the whole chunk of it and donate it to an organization dedicated to creating medical wigs for cancer patients. But since my insecurities ate me up more than my pledge, I failed. I  bleached my hair to a shocking rusty blonde and it dried to the tips after a month. I guess it’s more rude to donate damaged hair than to back out on my word. When I cut the animal hair off my life in December, I was still in the middle of figuring out what I would do to compensate for my wrong decisions.

One day in January, my Mother–last semester’s executive producer of a local television show of their college–was telling me about her day and how her guests made an impression to her. She was telling me about this ‘group’ who get together every Valentine’s Day and ‘beautify’ themselves for the day. I was about to brush off the idea when she mentioned that they are, in fact, cancer patients.

I was moved. Not only because they are cancer patients and that I finally found a way to compensate for my botched hair donation but because I felt deep in my heart that our art can mean something for other people. Even for just a day.

Armed with our signature pink traincase, Ate Sheryl and I arrived at Madre de Amor Hospice Foundation on Friday the 13th of February (Ate Sheryl is engaged, so her Valentine’s Day was booked) at 8 AM and there we met the strongest people we have known. No, they are not just a group who get together for Valentine’s Day. They help cancer patients help each other during these trying times.

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They are some of the women from Madre De Amor Hospice Foundation in Los Baños, Laguna. They are called mobile cancer and dialysis patients who get together to build a support system with and for people who can relate to their own plight. They do fun activities together; share stories, progress, struggles, loss. They were no celebrities but the glow that radiated from their faces was priceless. I don’t think any amount of cosmetic surgery could give them that, it’s not even the makeup. Their spirits were warm, bright and alive because of the happiness knowing that there are people around to support them; the optimism that everything is going to be all right for them and their peers; and that strength, that strength that not even cancer can beat.
All That Glitters, Leandra Flor, Division K International Speech Contest 1st Runner-up, Toastmasters International

These women were my inspiration in writing a speech for Toastmasters International. Their strength is silent but profound. The day that Ate Sheryl and I spent at Madre de Amor became one of our most unforgettable walkabouts in our lives. Our makeup gig might not have been located in another province, or in another country–it wasn’t even with famous people. But they are all what we needed to see that life is beautiful. No matter what.

And I should remind myself of this. Every day.

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Sometimes, You Just Gotta Try

Photo by Ms Bestie :)

Photo by Ms Bestie 🙂

Speeches, writing one and delivering it, is one of my long list of weaknesses. As much as I appear that I can handle public speaking–I have a good amount of smiling and hair-flipping going on due to years of practice of faking-til-you-make-it–I choke at some point and then fumble with my words, babble and ramble until the time limit is up. A [wannabe] writer doesn’t necessarily equate to a good speaker, although in theory, it’s almost synonymous.

Public speaking, personally, more than content and delivery requires charisma, bearing and a certain je ne sais quoi that pulls an audience into persuasion, as if into deep slumber. Some people are built to speak, some are trained to speak and some, unfortunately, are meant to be listeners. But the good thing about a world of possibilities and a feisty personality to compensate for lacking that X-factor is you can always try.

A Brief History of Trying

The farthest I’ve gone to place in speech contests was 2nd place, back in high school. Usually, I don’t even make the Top 3 due to my tendency to freak out and get easily disoriented during delivery. That silver medal meant more to me than anything else that time. I joined an extemporaneous and impromptu speaking contest because nobody in our class was available to compete on that date. I had sore eyes that day but the sh0w must goes on and so should life. I was able to land 2nd place–out of 3 competitors HAH!

In college, a professor commented that I lacked ethos and that my speech wasn’t well-written at all. I didn’t cry, I didn’t go into a mild depression but I immediately moved to other ventures and hid behind the radio and accepted the fact that public speaking isn’t for me. No, not really. I love broadcasting; it wasn’t because I couldn’t handle hardcore public speaking but radio feels more like home than the stage. Somehow, I wasn’t bothered that I am more comfortable in a radio booth than facing a live audience.

BUT as fate would have it, I found myself in a speech club and preparing for a contest in Taguig City, getting up at 4 in the morning, doing my makeup in the dark because our power was cut off the night before.

Saturday, 27th September, I competed in a humorous speech contest. Let’s just say, it turned out as expected–I didn’t place. Watching the other contestants, I knew why they were there to begin with. They were comfortable, confident and above all, having fun. And as much as I’m a Regret-Queen, surprisingly, after the contest I didn’t wallow in what-ifs. I wouldn’t want to change a thing about my speech and how I delivered it. I was, in fact, proud of it. I lost for a multitude of reasons, yes, but it’s not because I was terrible or anything (or maybe I was LOL) but it was because the other contestants owned the stage and were truly impressive. They were it.

It was a memorable experience; I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. Being there was enough of an achievement for me seeing my hapless background in standing in front of an audience. It was enough to validate some things about myself: 1) I’m not funny LOL; 2) I need to learn more about public speaking than merely not fumbling; and 3) I look awesome in high heels.

I’d like to extend my deepest gratitude to the Los Baños Community Toastmasters Club for being the beacon of hope and supporting its members in sharpening their skills in public speaking and leadership, most especially to Sir Caling (Our President) and Ms. Betsie, DTM, our mother mentor, Theavy and Aids. Hope we, together with Sir Ian, did you proud 🙂

Keep calm and keep speaking up, after all, we’ll never know what’s going to happen until we try.

PLUS my paper got accepted in a national conference–this is my academic alter ego speaking–to be held the same week as the [contest] Finals. It’s another bout of public speaking but at least this time, I get to have notes *whew*!

Yes, everything happens for a reason.

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After You*

'colewalks' | BKK-VTE 2014

‘colewalks’ | BKK-VTE 2014

My friends are either getting married and/or having babies, not necessarily in that order.

I guess it’s that time in our lives–or maybe the year(?)–when everyone is hell-bent on moving towards their 30s with a partner or child in tow. That’s not really a bad thing; a lot of people would kill to have a life theirs. Not that I’m one of them.

Anyway I spent the last week with babies and happy couples in Bangkok and Vientiane, no less. It was my nephew’s christening in Bangkok. Our bouncy and chubby bundle of joy screamed bloody murder during the ceremony because he thought we were going to the mall but ended up at the Church. I wanted to cry for him and with him. Just kidding.

The Godparents and Jian's 'tears of joy' LOL

The Godparents and Jian’s ‘tears of joy’ LOL

I think my nephew and I are the perfect godson-godmother tandem. We both like malls, freaking out upon the sight of presents and WE ARE BOTH AWESOME (my brother, Jian’s Dad is currently rolling his eyes).

Matchmade in heaven

A match made in heaven

The very same day, we flew in to Vientiane, my second home. Or so I think.

And here I saw my very pregnant BFF. The last time I’ve seen her was during her wedding and now she’s four months pregnant; the happy couple isn’t wasting any moment.

BFFs | (L-R) The 2014 Pose, the Prego BFF, and afternoon foodtrips

BFFs | (L-R) The 2014 Pose, the Prego BFF, and afternoon foodtrips

I spent the whole week pretty much just eating and tagging along with Mina. I also ate like a pregnant woman during that week which explains the weight-gain. And I. Don’t Care.

(L-R) At Tummour, Lao Kitchen, Centre Point

(L-R) At Tummour, Lao Kitchen, Centre Point

I had a food-list for this week and it was accomplished successfully; hoarding makeup wasn’t on the list though.

(L-R) Khao piek at Dongpalan, Khop Chai Der Musts, Pho Zap

(L-R) Khao piek at Dongpalan, Khop Chai Deu Musts, Pho Zap

(L-R) Regrouping at VTE's and my personal Point Zero; Revisiting memories at Joma; Recover at After You in Bangkok

(L-R) Regrouping at VTE’s and my personal Point Zero; Revisiting memories at Joma; Recover at After You in Bangkok–one of the highlights of my trip

The week went by so fast it felt like a dream–crazy, vivid and emotional. But just like a dream, you can’t remember a thing about it. Or maybe, I just choose to forget.

 

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