Monday, July 07, 2014

Why Women's RIghts?

*A free-writing piece on women's rights. Written for an activity at the Gender Leadership Program (my 3-minute elevator speech).

Why Women's RIghts?

Think of Juana, your mother... and Maria, your favorite teacher... and Flora, your wife. 

And then ask me... Why do we need to put women's rights at the heart of what we do?

I can tell you that it's because somewhere in the world, there is a Juana who silently endures the blows that her husband gives her because he got home drunk and wanting to have non-consensual sex.

I can also tell you that in Asia, there are a lot of girls like Maria, who would give anything to be in school and learn about science, and arts, and literature and music, and be with friends, both girls and boys her own age.

We need to put women's rights at the heart of what we do because in all countries in Asia, there is a Flora, who is a woman farmer. And like other women farmers, she has the double burden of providing food for their family, while taking care of their children and the whole household. 

Because all over the world, more women than men are area dying and suffering from medical conditions just because they do not have access to basic health services.

Most especially, because inequality is happening... It is growing... It is a reality... It is a sad reality. 

And unfortunately, it is Juana, Maria and Flora who are greatly affected by this inequality. 

But they all deserve to have equal rights, equal access, equal resources and benefits, and equal power. 

However, it's more than all that. 

You are now part of this organization. In your work, I encourage you to think of Maria, Juana and Flora. And think of ways on how they will truly feel the impact of our work. 

So again, I ask... why do we need to put women's rights at the heart of what we do?

I say because we should. 

And more importantly, we can.

June 27, 2014

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

My Words

I want my words to be...

Like the words from a poet's lips

Like the sweet music from a song  

Like a painter's masterpiece

So you would stop, take notice and be enthralled. 

May 27, 2014
Krung Thep 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Musings of a 25-year old... (With 15 years of experience)

Musings of a 40-year old

Living is not just about 'not dying'.

It's about smelling the flowers and dealing with sh*t.

It's about jumping right in and exploring the unknown.

But it's also about having the courage to shake your head, say 'No' and stand your ground. And sometimes, yes... Having the courage to walk away.

Living is about falling down, making mistakes, getting lost, having your heart broken into tiny pieces, your soul crushed and mangled until nothing's left but a mushy pulp. It's about enduring the pestle's painful grind.

But most importantly, it's about getting up, shaking off the dirt, picking up the pieces... or leaving them and moving on... and being able to tell yourself that it's ok, that you'll do better next time.

Living is being able to take on burns, bruises and scratches... while having a ready supply of bandages, medications and lots and lots of courage... and humor. It's about sharing to people who matter, your stories about medals and scars, and triumphs and frustrations.

Living is knowing that you can... while also accepting that you may not.

It is about laughing... and crying... and doing both at the same time... and laughing some more... with friends and family.

Living is about taking care of your own yard, and growing your own roses. Realize that all grass are green, it's just a matter of perspective.

It is about freedom... but also knowing your boundaries, responsibilities and accountabilities.

Living is knowing that one is just a miniscule speck in the entire universe... but we can make that tiny speck meaningful and important.

It is about having a mission... pursuing your passion... committing to a purpose and persevering for a cause.

Living is about the butterflies and the roses... and the thorns and the worms... but most of all, it's about the things you do, people you touch, experiences you get to live by. It's about how you influence and change the world, in however way you can.  It's all about how you dare to make a difference.

They say that life begins at 40. I would beg to disagree.

One doesn't have to wait. Live at this moment. Live now.

May 22, 2014

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


10:45pm, linggo... pagkatapos ubusin ang burger, fries at coke... gusto kong magsuka, at iluwa lahat ng kinain ko. kasi, na-realize ko, busog pala ako, hindi ko kailangang mag-midnight snack. akala ko lang gustom ako, pero hindi pala... hindi!

misan, ang pag-ibig, parang midnight snack... not good for you.


May 11, Sunday

Monday, May 12, 2014

Sa Ugoy Ng Duyan

for my thift-shopping, zumba-loving, marshmallow-addict, travel-seeking mommy dearest, Normita Mercado. thank you, mommy, for always taking care of us.
for the best sister ever (do i have a choice?), Divine Mercado-David. thank you for the 3 marias -- Summer, Red and Star.
for Nanay Ester, my lola. minsan, akala ko, nakita kitang tumatawid sa daan... sa Sri Lanka. i miss you. #lolasGirlAngPeg
for all the mothers in my family, thank you for the joy that my nephews, nieces and cousins bring.
and because birthing is not the same as mothering... thank you to all (women and men) who have mothered individuals. saludo ako sa inyo!
for my phenomenal friends... my dyosas... thank you for mothering me, your children, your nephews and nieces, and all those little souls.
para sa lahat ng mga mothers, mudra, mamu, mamita, mom, mommy, nanay, inay, mother, mudrakel na nasa buhay ko... hindi man ako lumabas sa vagina nyo, thank you for being a mother to me.
special thanks to ate Mawin Marilyn Hugo for being my SuperMawin, to Kiaw Green Angel for being my mom in Thailand, and to Kamanee Hapugalle , for your soft yet firm ways, which for me is the essence of being a mother.
i cannot tag all of you here in Facebook, but rest assured that you are tagged forever in my heart.
oh by the way, kiss all your mothers for me. please tell them, salamat, because my life is a lot more liveable because of you.
you all rock! astig kayong lahat!
Mother's Day, May 11, 2014

Sunday, July 28, 2013


Future's so bright. Gotta wear shades. #6words 28 July Sunday My Shoebox

Monday, July 15, 2013


Break the rules and color outside the lines.

8:25 July 15, Monday Gotham

Saturday, June 15, 2013


I'm a bitch, yes i am.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Taxi Conversations : A refugee of the genocide

* This is not a political piece. I just wanted to write about a cab driver's story, someone i met 3 years back, who has earned my respect and admiration.*
It was a rainy morning in Arlington in April 2010, and we decided to take a cab, instead of the Metro. It was a good 15 minutes walk from where we were to the nearest train station. We were just glad to have found a cab who was willing to take us to downtown DC for a very important meeting.
I was with an Indonesian colleague, and decided to strike up a conversation with the cab driver, who was more than willing to exchange a few stories. He said that traffic is manageable, but can get bad sometimes, and that it's a bit difficult to find a cab from where we were staying. Then he suddenly asked, "You are Asians?". It was actually more of a statement, than a question.
My Indonesian colleague said yes, and i tried to look into his eyes through the rearview mirror. He did not sound Asian, but he definitely had an accent, but i just cannot guess what country he was from. More conversations about our work (as development workers), and after around 15 minutes, we were in front of our office building. He gave us his business card, just in case we wanted a ride going to the airport. We said our goodbyes, and promised to call him the following day, as my Indonesian colleague was about to leave.
Unfortunately, we did not call him, as previous arrangements have been made for my colleague. But i made sure that the following day, the day of my flight back to Manila, that i call this cab driver so he can take me to the airport. I was curious as to where he was from, and wanted to know if his ethnicity is Asian.
On the day of my flight, he picked me up, and as soon as i got into his cab, he told me that Asians have a very different character -- that we honor our word, and we give respect to people. We promised to call him for his services, and we did. If it were other nationalities, he said, they would have just thrown out his business card, and ignored their agreement. This got me more curious. I said that it was nothing, and that for a Filipino like me, word of honor (i told him we call it "palabra de honor", which is actually spanish), is something that we value. His eyes suddenly lit up, and he looked at me, turning his head to actually look into my eyes. He said, "ah yes, i know that Filipinos use a lot of Spanish words, because you were colonized by the Spaniards".
I couldn't help myself anymore. I asked him if he was Asian, and if he has been to the Philippines. He said, "Yes, I am from Cambodia. I have been to Palawan when i became a refugee after the war. I love the Philippines and the Filipinos, because you treated us like human beings." I found out that he lost a lot of relatives and family members during the genocide in Cambodia, after the civil war. He said that only him and his sister survived. But he lost her, as she was transferred to a different refugee camp, while he was initially sent to Thailand. He became quiet for a moment, then said, "I had fun in Palawan, unlike in Thailand. The Filipinos treated me like a brother, like a family." He said that he would like to go back to Palawan. And i told him that he should.
We talked some more, and i found out that he met a US-born Cambodian woman when he arrived in America. They got married, and now they have 2 teen-age kids, a girl, and a boy. I asked him if he plans to go back to Cambodia soon, and his response was a firm, "No! I have no more family there, my family is here in America." He certainly doesn't have a Cambodian accent now, his was more of a Latino accent.
After about 45 minutes, we reached the Dulles International Airport. I got out of his cab, and he helped me with my luggage. As i was paying him, i asked if i could take his photo for souvenir. He smiled, and declined. But he reached out his hand and told me, "My name is George. Thank you for asking me things. My kids never dared to ask me about my past, and i am not sure if they are even interested to know." I was surprised with his words, and i saw deep sadness in his eyes. All i could manage was to say, "They will when they're ready." Then i said goodbye.
I felt sad for George (i wonder what his Cambodian name is), and hoped that he could somehow share his dark past with his children. And i promised to write a blog entry about him. But i couldn't find the perfect timing, and the perfect motivation, not until today.
I visited Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields in Phnom Penh a few months after. My heart felt so heavy, especially because i was thinking of George and the family that he lost. I kept on thinking whether his children would someday share his pain by knowing at least about what happened during the genocide.
The genocide museum and the killing fields are now tourist destinations in Cambodia, but i hope the tourists don't forget that there are still a lot of people like George.
Today, I had a sudden urge to write about my conversation with George. I guess it was because a few days back, i had a casual conversation with some high school friends about a play that we produced in high school. It was called "Takas" (to break free), about a Cambodian refugee in Palawan, who developed a deep friendship with a Filipino boy. I don't remember the character names, but i do remember George. And i just hope that he finds genuine peace of mind and stillness of the heart.
Photos of the Killing Fields:
Photos of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum:
May 04, 2013, Saturday, My Shoebox

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Kiss The Rain

We are under the same sky. #6wordPoetry
My song: Kiss the Rain
04 May 2013, 6:35pm
Saturday, My shoebox

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

My Valentine

"Pinabayaan mo ako, iniwanan at kinalimutan. Natapakan, nasaktan, at nagasgasan. Pero nandito pa rin ako, at di ka iniwan." -- my phone. (So glad I found it!!!)
10:50pm, 12 Feb 2013, Tues
My Shoebox

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Good night, Midge!

Yes, we have to let go sometimes. Good night, Midge!
(Inspired by NCIS)
8:35pm, Tuesday, January 29, my shoebox

Sunday, January 13, 2013


I really need to get my groove back. I need a motivation. But the motivation won't come unless i get my groove back. It's like a vicious circle. Sigh.

My Shoebox
09:35pm, Sunday, Jan 13 2013

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Bagong taon

Crossing my fingers. Waiting to exhale.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

When Love Arrives

“I knew exactly what love looked like. ..In seventh grade. Even though I hadn’t met love yet, if love had wandered into my home room, I would’ve recognized him at first glance. Love wore a hemp necklace. I would’ve recognized her at first glance. Love wore a tight french braid. Love played acoustic guitar, and knew all my favorite Beatle songs. Love wasn’t afraid to ride the bus with me. And I knew I just must be searching the wrong classrooms, just must be checking the wrong hallways. She was there. I was sure of it. If only I could find him.
But when love finally showed up, she had a bull cut. He wore the same clothes every day for a week. Love hated the bus. Love didn’t know anything about the Beatles. Instead, every time I tried to kiss love, our teeth got in the way. Love became the reason I lied to my parents. “I’m going to.. Ben’s house.” Love had terrible rhythmn on the dance floor, but made sure we never missed a slow song. Love waited by the phone because she knew if her father picked up, it would be ..”Hello? Hello? I guess they hung up.”
And love grew. Stretched like a trampoline. Love changed. Love disappeared. Slowly. Like baby teeth. Losing parts of me I thought I needed. Love vanished like an amateur magician. Everyone could see the trap door but me. Like a flat tire. There were other places I had planned on going, but my plans didn’t matter. Love stayed away for years. And when love finally reappeared, I barely recognized him.
Love smelled different now, had darker eyes, a broader back. Love came with freckles I didn’t recognize. New birth marks, a softer voice. Now there were new sleeping patterns. New favorite books. Love had songs that reminded him of someone else. Songs love didn’t like to listen to. So did I. But we found a park bench that fit us perfectly. We found jokes that make us laugh. And now, love makes me fresh home-made chocolate chip cookies. But love will probably finish most of them for a midnight snack. Love looks great in loungerie, but still likes to wear her retainer. Love is a terrible driver, but a great navigator. Love knows where she’s going, it just might take her two hours longer than she planned. Love is messier now. Not as simple. Love uses the word ‚boobs‘ in front of my parents. Love chews too loud. Love leaves the cap of the toothpaste. Love uses smiley-faces in her text messages. And it turns out, love shits. But love also cries.
And love will tell you you are beautiful. And mean it. Over and over again. You are beautiful when you first wake up. You are beautiful when you’ve just been crying. You are beautiful when you don’t wanna hear it. You are beautiful when you don’t believe it. You are beautiful when nobody else will tell you you are beautiful. Love still thinks.. you are beautiful.
But love is not perfect and will sometimes forget when you need to hear it most. You are beautiful. Do not forget this. Love is not who you were expecting. Love is not what you can predict. Maybe love is in New York City, already asleep. You are in California, Australia, wide awake. Maybe love is always in the wrong time zone. Maybe love is not ready for you. Maybe you are not ready for love. Maybe love just isn’t the marrying type. Maybe the next time you see love is twenty years after the divorce. Love looks older now, but just as beautiful as you remember. Maybe love is only there for a month. Maybe love is there for every firework, every birthday party, every hospital visit.
Maybe love stays. Maybe love can’t. Maybe love shouldn’t. Love arrives exactly when love is supposed to. And love leaves exactly when love must. When love arrives, say “Welcome! Make yourself comfortable!” If love leaves, ask her to leave the door open behind her. Turn off the music. Listen to the quiet. Whisper “Thank you for stopping by.”
(“When Love Arrives” - A poem by Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye)

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Is that the sign that i have been waiting for? #notTheUsual6words
November 25

Wednesday, November 07, 2012


Is it really you? Yes, you!
07 November 2012

Saturday, October 27, 2012


I'm ready! Yes sir, I am!
07:50pm, 27 October 2012, Saturday

Monday, October 08, 2012


Olly olly oxen free! Am ready! :)
(6-word blog)
10:07pm, October 08 2012, Monday, My Shoebox

Monday, October 01, 2012


"The only thing worse than forgetting is remembering the wrong things." - Conrad de Quiros 2:40pm, 01 October, Monday, Changi airport