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Clarity

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I write this from the balcony of my hotel room overlooking a ridge whereupon bright city lights are sprawled as far as the eye could see, twinkling and substituting for the stars that have opted to go into hiding this rainy night. The breeze is the kind of cold that makes you long for a warm embrace or a fluffy hoodie (I have the latter), and ever so slightly smells of pine trees. Today was 11 hours of being on the road for ocular visits and meetings here in Cagayan de Oro, but I don’t feel tired at all.image

Let me tell you a secret—well, it’s not so secret actually. I can be quite stubborn when it comes to pursuing my passions. I graduated X years ago, but this is my first full-time job. I’ve always seen corporate work as very rigid and constricting, compared to working freelance where there are no dress codes, no time records, no company memos to adhere to. You get to do what you want, when you feel like doing it, where you want to do it and in whatever outfit you please. Never mind that there isn’t much economic stability and career sustainability—so long as you’re happy and following your heart, right?

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That was my mentality about pretty much everything else, not just career. So long as you follow your heart, everything else will fall in place. Inversely, if you do things you have to even when you don’t want to, your success won’t be as fulfilling. I saw it as a battle of the heart and the intellect, and I always wanted for the heart to win. But I’ve seen the glaring holes of this naive polarity in events of the past few years that it got me questioning. Does it really have to be one or the other? Can we not find a middle ground where we would be able to do the right thing as determined by the mind, and still be able to do the happy thing as determined by the heart? 

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As it turns out, of course we can. The confusion and frustration of not knowing which path to take, of waking up in the morning very unsure of our next step, of every uncertainty that comes with that familiar experience we all like to call quarter-life crisis… all of those things are not because we lack the skills, the knowledge, the experience or the clarity to find the answer to our questions. Chances are, the only thing we’ve been lacking all along is the willingness to listen to what that answer is. 

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My phone’s Viber just beeped: three messages. From my family’s group thread, my boss, and a friend, all asking about my day and telling me to rest well. The rain has mellowed down into a light drizzle. I can hear the drone of the TV in my room: Cesar Millan’s voice and the excited barking of small dogs. Except for these sounds and the humming of the airconditioning, everything is quiet on all fronts. How did it get from the noise and chaos of uncertainty to the peace and silence of clarity? I stopped being stubborn about always doing what I wanted, and tried this time to listen to my elders and do what I needed. I tried a path I never would’ve tried had events early this year not transpired.

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That choice led me to a job where I get to do everything that I’ve always known I wanted to do since I was five: write, tell stories, shoot pictures and videos, travel. There is a dress code, but the women of Suits have been teaching me how to dress up for work, and it’s been fun. It’s a nine-to-six job, but even when I’m not traveling like this week, my boss encourages me to get out of my desk every now and then and do whatever I need to get my creative juices flowing. “Less bureaucratic. I trust you,” I was told. The pay and perks are more than enough to enable me to pursue all my other passions and still have a lot saved for the future. Working for a company that values God, family and work in that order results in office people being nice and contagiously positive. Above all, I no longer wake up in the morning not knowing where I’m headed. “I can see clearly now, the rain is gone.” :) It amazes me and my loved ones each day how much things in my life have changed for the infinite better, and if there’s anything I’d wish on others, it’s this same gift of clarity.

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Look details: Philosophy top, Veva Deeluxe pencil skirt, Janylin peep-toe heels, Euphoria chain necklace and bracelets, SM Accessories ring, Nail It nails, Japanese Candy contact lenses. Hype on Lookbook here, vote on Chictopia here.

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Keep walking

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“Let it go, it’s not worth it.” The choice between revenge and forgiveness was the theme of last Sunday’s church readings. It’s a universal struggle that anyone, believer or not, can relate to: when we are wronged, the immediate and overwhelming impulse is to seek “justice.” To retaliate and show that we won’t take crap from anyone. Yesterday in particular, Luke describes how Jesus’ friends want so badly to punish the people of Samaria when they refuse to welcome and let him pass through their town to get to Jerusalem. “Want us to call down fire from heaven to burn them up?” James and John offer. Ever cool-headed, he simply tells them to walk away, and they quietly take a detour and move along without the drama.

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Of course, when you’re a peace-loving guy who advocates “Turn the other cheek,” conciliatory meekness is the clear choice. For the rest of us though, this often proves difficult. Retreating or giving in is tantamount to admitting defeat. Nobody wants to be a pushover, a coward, a loser. But the point isn’t that we be afraid and let people walk all over us, or that we be martyrs and let people mistreat us even when we have aces up our sleeves and bullets in our barrels that we can use to fight back. The point is that we choose our battles, fight only the ones worth winning and let others “win” the rest.

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The point is that we see the bigger picture: a year from now, will it matter? Is it a productive use of our time and effort? Will it make us any happier or less hurt? Betting from experience, the answer is a resounding no. It would simply never end, maybe even get worse. There are people and causes far more substantial and worth pursuing.

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Today, the first of July, marks two other firsts: first day on my new job as the media and communications executive of a private corporation, first time to take on work in the corporate world. It’s a perfect mix of what I love about freelance creative work (telling stories, advocating Filipino industries, being in control of my own time), and the perks of a full-time job (financial security, travel opportunities, employment benefits). Looks to be an exciting new chapter to look forward to.

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The first half of this year was a roller-coaster ride of uncertainties, realizations and wake-up calls—what precise timing that the second half should begin with things looking up and falling into place.

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As it happens, when we prudently walk away from a troubling past and never look back, we give ourselves the gift of a future filled with much, much better things. :)

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Photos by Don Michael De Leon of Happyfingers Photography. Outfit details: Essenxa ruffled top, Blanc et Noir paisley pencil skirt, Parisian shoes, SM Accessories. Hype this on Lookbook here, vote on Chictopia here.

Girl on “Suits”

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A Rachel Zane-inspired outfit. Memo button-down shirt, Miss Sixty skirt, Asian Vogue pumps, SM Accessories clutch bag, necklace and bangles. Hype this on Lookbook here and Chictopia here.

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I’ve loved “Suits” from the moment I watched the plug for its pilot episode. I’ve seen each episode at least eight times! Haha. I grew up with lawyers in the family, and I’ve been into law series for years but “Suits” is the first time I could relate to each character: their good side inspires me to do better, their bad side inspires me to learn from mistakes and do better. I’m especially enamored with the women on the show: not just because of the way they power-dress, but more because of their strength and beauty.

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I rarely do work wear as my jobs don’t require it, but lately I’ve been playing dress up with my little sister’s wardrobe, pretending I’m Rachel or any of those girls on “Suits.” Sure, they’re just TV characters, but I’d love to be like them (and okay, get to meet someone like Harvey Specter) in real life. How they constantly push themselves and strive to be the best in what they do, and how they display grace under pressure and maintain their sense of humor even under duress.

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And speaking of Suits, Mike Ross himself has taped a video greeting for my upcoming birthday, which is pretty awesome:
   

Many thanks to my dear friend Joanne Pecson for this!

Meeting Troian

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Urban Goddess top, Cotton On skirt, Asian Vogue loafer pumps, SM Accessories clutch and bangle, Wanderlust bracelets. Hype this on Lookbook here and Chictopia here.

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The day started with a migraine attack. Those who’ve seen me with one, know how bad it gets every time. All I see are blinding flashes of light for a half-hour, my limbs go numb, and unless I take meds, I throw up from the pain. Not a pretty sight, and definitely not a pleasant experience. Pretty traumatizing in fact that when I feel one coming on, I panic. But this time felt different—like nothing could stop me. I was excited to get to work!

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Work meant going to the press junket for actress Troian Bellisario who plays Spencer Hastings on “Pretty Little Liars.” She was in town with her boyfriend, Patrick J. Adams, who plays Mike Ross on “Suits.” While I don’t follow “PLL” as religiously as “Suits,” I watch it for Troian. I find her beautiful, smart, independent and whole, a kind of girl I strive to be. Ever since I knew about them individually and as a couple, I’ve wanted to meet them.

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So as soon as my vision returned, I drove as fast (and carefully) as I could from Pampanga to Quezon City, where my friend Abi joined me. She took over the wheel so I could do my makeup and try to fix my hair—in the end though, I just let it fall however it wanted. Haha.

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My nails have been craving for servicing, too. I’d been practicing on the ukulele and I thought a manicure would be counter-productive. Heh. Just hoped the skirt, clutch and bracelets made up for it.

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Thanks to a throbbing head and lack of prep, we arrived late at Marriott Hotel where the junket was being held. Now I admit, sometimes I can be a worrier and panic when things don’t go my way. But for some reason, the idea that I went through all that trouble and drove a hundred kilometers for nothing wasn’t bothering me one bit. Somehow, I felt like things were still going to be great.
     
And I was right. A few minutes later, I was taking Instagram photos with Troian and taking a video of Patrick saying hi to me.

Plus this awesome video of him greeting me on my birthday.
     

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