Some truth for Valentine’s Day

It’s been awhile. I can’t believe I wrote here only three times last year. I’ll talk about my reasons for my absence in another post (or maybe not if the past ten months are anything to go by).

What I will talk about is why I’m crawling out of my WordPress hibernation for.


Coincidentally, my reading for today fell on 1 Corinthians 13. For those of you who don’t know, this is where the famous “Love is patient, love is kind…” verse comes from. So when I opened my Bible and saw this, my first thought was that I am too single for this.

But then, as most things are with God, He surprises me by dropping some knowledge when I least expect it.

I used to think that this whole chapter is basically what the pastor/priest/chaplain/minister says in every wedding I’ve ever attended.


The first three verses of this chapter are just massive truth bombs. And with everything that’s been going on in the world right now, I genuinely believe that we are in desperate need to be reminded of this every day.

Whatever cause we are fighting for, we can always support or defend it with love and respect for our fellow human beings. Because in the end, no matter how witty or intelligent or amusing or impressive or catchy or persuasive or viral our words and actions are, if we do not have love, nothing happens.

For my little sister, Karen.

An hour ago, I saw you cry. You were sitting right in front of me as you cried because of me, because you cried for me.

You said it was so unfair that I’m unhappy where I am and that I couldn’t do anything about it because of reasons that will stay between just the two of us. You said I wasn’t being treated the way I’m supposed to be treated, that I deserve more than what I’m being given, and that I’m too damn nice to say anything about it.

So you cried. You were hurting for me. You were angry for me.

And then I hugged you, and you hugged me back.

I wanted to tell you this, but I couldn’t find the courage to do so. So I’m writing it here.

I’m sorry. I’m so incredibly sorry.

I’m sorry for choosing to accept the circumstances I’m in. I’m sorry for failing to be the sister who teaches you, by example, to go after your dreams and to fight for what you want.I’m sorry for making you fear the idea of becoming like me when your time to make a decision comes.

Someday, you’ll realize – no matter how much I don’t want you to – that all the fight and determination I’m not exerting now, I’m saving up for you.

Dad vs. Twin

Since my twin sister moved to California a little over two years ago, her relationship with my dad slowly but surely deteriorated. She’s chasing after her dream, but while she’s doing it, she’s leaving my dad with broken promises and forgotten duties. I don’t want to get into the specifics of their falling out because it really is just one whole complicated web of unspoken feelings and pent up frustrations.

But throughout these two years, I watched how my dad gradually stopped talking to her and how my sister subsequently stopped trying to talk to him, all the while feeling this weight on my shoulder getting heavier and heavier.

Before I visited my sister this past summer, my mom told me to talk to her and convince her to see things from my dad’s perspective. And I did that. I talked to her. But after that, she asked me if I could talk to my dad after I got home and help him see things from her perspective. My mom asked me to do the same thing also. And I did that too.

Last week, I was finally able to talk to him. This is exactly how it started.

Me: Dad, I want to talk to you about something.
Dad: What is it, sweetheart?
Me: You have to promise me that you won’t get mad.
Dad: I won’t get mad.
Me: Do you promise?
Dad: I promise.
Me: It’s about Ach.
Dad *rolls eyes and exhales loudly*
Me: You promised you won’t get mad.
Dad: I’m not mad. What about her?

He kept his promise. He didn’t get mad. But he broke my heart a bit when he kept on saying he didn’t care about what my sister did/is doing/will do with her life.

At the same time though, I understand where he’s coming from. He wants what’s best for his daughter, and I get that it’s frustrating that his daughter refuses his ideas and opinions. I know he doesn’t mean what he said and that his words came from a place of hurt.

And my sister, she’s had moments here and there that infuriated me, that made me think that maybe she’s completely forgotten that she’s still my parents’ daughter and our sister.

But I can’t hide the fact that she’s been doing amazingly well with planning and thinking ahead when it comes to her future. I’ve never seen her more responsible, independent and confident than the two months I spent with her a couple of months ago.

So what do I have? A father who is angry because he’s hurting, and a sister who’s slowly turning into a stranger because she’s making her dreams come true.

I just… I’m not asking for advice or tips or whatever. I know it’s not my place, nor is it my responsibility, to try and fix their relationship.

It’s just that my sister’s coming home in less than 24 hours, and I don’t want her and my dad spending the Christmas season avoiding, ignoring or fighting each other.

I got stood up

I’m peeking out from my WordPress hibernation to tell everybody that I got ditched  last night. It wasn’t a date, thankfully, but then I’m not sure if the alternative could be considered a better scenario.

You see, three days ago a friend from high school invited me to have dinner with some of our old classmates. I was never really close to them, but I thought it’s Christmas season so now is as good a time as any to maybe change that and make new-ish friends. So I decided to go.

Now, I’m the type of person who doesn’t mind showing up first. I also normally don’t call or text my friends to ask whether or not they’re on their way or if they’re near because I’d rather wait for them to be the one to call me. And because I show up first and because most of my friends rarely show up on time, I usually have to wait about 15 to 30 minutes, which is fine. I don’t mind waiting, especially in the mall where there are so many things I could do to pass the time.

But last night, I got to the mall five minutes before 7 p.m. and decided to text her to ask where exactly we were meeting. I didn’t get a reply. I figured maybe she was driving and couldn’t get back to me right away so I didn’t mind it. After 30 minutes of walking around, I texted her again, and just like the first time there was no reply. I went inside a bookstore, read a couple of pages of the books there and before I knew it, an hour passed with no word from her.

At this point, I was pretty sure I’d already been ditched. But then part of me thought that maybe she’d show up eventually. So instead of going home, I hung around the bookstore some more.

By 9 o’clock, I’d accepted that I’d been officially stood up. Surprisingly though, the entire time I was waiting, I didn’t get annoyed at all. And when I was 100% sure that she wasn’t going to show up, I decided to just have dinner by myself – something I haven’t done in a long while.

I ate pasta and drank beer (because isn’t that the preferred beverage of people who get stood up?) while reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies ’til about 10 p.m.

It was good. The only thing that really bothered me was that she never responded to my texts. For a while there I was worried that maybe something might have happened to her. But towards the end I finally heard from her. She sent me a message saying that she totally forgot to tell me that she was out of town and wouldn’t be able to make it. She didn’t even say if our other friends pushed through with the dinner or not; I don’t have their numbers so I wasn’t able to ask them.

But anyway, I went home after that. And what’s funny is that I realize now that being ditched last night has probably been the highlight of my very busy and stressful week. I was able to read a few good books, eat good food and drink good beer. I also took the time earlier that evening to pretty myself up more than I usually do. So I spent the whole impromptu date with myself looking rather nice if I may say so.

At the end of the day, I could honestly say that I had a good time. And with the low points I’ve been having these past few weeks, I needed a good time.

So thank you, Life. You and your mysterious ways never fail to amuse me.

Two things and a lot of other things on a Friday night

First, I’ve never written as much as I’ve had these past few months. The only catch is I’ve been writing for other people. I’ve been writing for people who have whatever it takes – patience, hard work, a knack for photography, money and even HTML coding skills (because God knows I don’t have that) – to run a legitimate blog but don’t have the time or the words to write about whatever it is they want to blog about. If you go by the things I’ve written so far, these past months I’ve gone backpacking to Laos and I’ve traveled to Singapore and Hong Kong. During my travels, I’ve also tried local street food, as well as high-end restaurants to review their food. I’ve also lost 50 pounds, 20 pounds and 13 pounds through daily exercise, yoga and diet. On top of that, I’ve become an expert 24-year-old parent who wants to give other young parents tips on how to raise their children.

I’ve never pretended to be so busy with life until now. Because isn’t that what it is, pretending? A thought often comes to my mind whenever I’m supposedly writing from halfway across the world. Is this the fruition of my once upon a time dream to become a writer? Is this the writer’s equivalent to an aspiring musician who gets stuck singing at clubs and weddings? Or am I worse because I’m the aspiring musician who lets other people sing her songs at clubs and weddings?

I don’t feel sad or bad though. To be honest, I actually feel good about it. Is that sad or bad? I like that I get to write, that I get paid to write and that they actually like what I write. I like imagining myself backpacking across Southeast Asia. I like thinking about how I’d be as a parent in my twenties, mostly because I don’t think I’ll ever be a parent in my twenties. As lame as it sounds, I like pretending to be this hip and cool blogger who gets invited to all these restaurants and who gets to try their food for free…

Even though in reality, I go to work Mondays to Fridays at 8 a.m. sometimes with a smile on my face, sometimes without. I teach until 3 p.m. and then tutor ’til 5 or 6 p.m. I go home, sometimes with a smile on my face, sometimes without. If I feel like it, I work out. If I don’t, I read a book (right now, it’s The Three Musketeers) while listening to some music (tonight, it’s Christmas songs because it’s never too early for Christmas songs). Then I write for other people to earn a few bucks on the side.

Except tonight, I don’t have to write for other people since I was able to finish them early, which brings me to my second thing for tonight.

The last time I watched Grey’s Anatomy was in high school. I stopped watching when I realized, to my dismay, that I was unknowingly craving for the drama I was seeing in these very fake shows to happen in my very real life. High school, you know?

But earlier, I came across a friend’s post about Grey’s Anatomy and I saw a photo of April Kepner and Jackson Avery. I thought to myself, hey they look cute together. And for some reason, that passing comment spiraled into me watching all their scenes on YouTube, and that spiraled into me falling in love with their make-believe relationship and their scripted life… only to find out that their current status is very flimsy. And now I’m unstable too because no one gets attached to fictional characters in less than 24 hours more than I do.

So I tell this to Karen because, well, it’s Karen, and she looks at me with her Karen face and says, “Seriously, you need a boyfriend.” And I whine, “But who would even want to date someone like me?” Because really, 24 hours ago I didn’t even know these fictional people and their fictional lives existed but here I am consumed with thoughts on how fictional Jackson and fictional April can fix their fictional marriage.

Seriously though, what is wrong with me?

But also, seriously, believe me when I say I am writing all this with a stupid grin on my face because as bizarre as I know this all is, I like this little glitch that I have.

And that just gave me an idea. I keep seeing all these lists of things people want in a boyfriend or girlfriend or like traits that would make you a perfect boyfriend or girlfriend. I haven’t seen any lists yet about faults and flaws your future special someone needs to know about you before trying to date you. That sounds fun. So maybe I can make a list about that.

Maybe. Next time I’m free to write for me.

Art on an airplane barf bag


On our flight back to California from Colombia, my cousin, Michael, took out the barf bag, borrowed my pencil and started doodling. I’ve known him since we were kids, but I never knew he draws and I never thought he did.

And then he shows me this!

I’ve always thought of him as someone who’s great at everything he does. And he is. It’s just that a lot of times, he doesn’t see it. Or maybe he does, but he’s just perfectly fine with not making the most out of it. Or maybe that’s the only time he felt he could share his talent with me.

Whatever his reason is, I will make sure to sit next to him the next time we get to travel together.

My twin sister is in love

She doesn’t know it yet. But I do.

Three days after I arrived here in California, Kat, my twin sister, brought me to her Bible study and introduced me to her group of friends. I went not knowing anything about any of them, and I left feeling something was brewing between Kat and one of the guys there named Adam.

It was the way their gaze always fell to the other when they talked. There was something in the way they looked at one another, like with a smile in their eyes.

Since then, I’ve seen Adam three more times and in those three times, I was left feeling more and more confident that these two not only like each other but also would be so insanely and unbelievably great for each other.

Initially, I resolved to keep my thoughts and observations to myself for a number of reasons. One, I didn’t want her to start feeling self-conscious whenever I’m with them. Two, Kat is the type of person who doesn’t talk about feelings and wouldn’t appreciate it if you force her to. And three, I wasn’t even sure if she herself knows she likes him.

Until five days ago.

She went go-karting with her Bible study group while I was at our cousins’ place. When we all met up for lunch the next day, we found out that she and Adam spent hours just talking at the parking lot of K1…until two in the freaking morning! According to her, they genuinely lost track of time. And we believe her, which is why the floodgates of unrelenting teasing and persistent questioning have been thrown wide open.

Yesterday, she finally admitted to liking him. “But just like,” she said. That I don’t believe.

She’s in love. I see it in the way she tries desperately to not talk about him, in the way she just lights up whenever she ends up talking about him anyway. I see it when they talk and she discovers they have another bizarre thing in common. I see it in the things that might be too little to be noticed by anyone else.

I can also see that she’s a bit terrified. I’m not sure what she’s more scared of – that he might not like her back or that he might actually do. And from what I’ve seen so far, I’m pretty sure it’s the latter. And not to brag or anything but I have correctly predicted my ex-boyfriend’s present girlfriend so I’ve proven that my gut feeling can be right.

I’m just genuinely excited for her. After years of focusing completely on her studies and career, she so deserves the butterflies in her stomach, the late night parking lot conversations and a chance at having a guy who is really good for her heart.

My aunt, uncle and I interrogating her. Seriously.

Cartagena, Colombia in photos

It’s been a week since my 7-day trip to Cartagena, but I can still vividly remember the sheer happiness I felt every single day I was there.

I loved the culture, so similar to my own but at the same time so different as well. I loved the food! Oh my goodness, the food! My cousins and I couldn’t get enough of the fish dishes, the arepas, the empanadas, the plantains and the limonadas. I loved the people – always smiling even though my Spanish was terrible.

But most of all, I was just totally captivated by its beauty. We spent most of our days walking around and beyond the Walled City, and even under the intense heat and humidity, it was impossible to ignore the charm of the city – from the colorful, colonial houses and the cobblestone streets to the old churches and historical plazas. Everything about the city transported us to a completely different world. It was, to put it simply, amazing.

For those who need to see to believe, here’s proof:

Cartagena street 1
I want to move in!
Cartagena street 2
Cartagena street 3 and me
Con mis chicas en una puerta en Cartagena
Cartagena street 4
Cartagena street 5
A local artist, so unbelievably talented
Cartagena street 6
A beautiful cafe and bookstore
A very charming local who serenaded us during dinner
Plaza Santo Domingo at one in the morning
Dolphins at Isla Del Rosario
Playa Blanca

Special note A: We enjoyed our stay at the Calamari Hostal Boutique. The staff was very hospitable and friendly. They knew little English which was fine with me since I got to actually use my Spanish. Their rooms are nicely decorated and spacious. And compared to the other places inside the Walled City, their prices are more affordable.

My cousins and I in front of Calamari Boutique

Special note B: My cousin and I paid a visit to Fundacion La Vecina, a non-profit that provides education to the kids of Cartagena who can’t afford to go to good schools. During our visit, we met some of the happiest and most polite kids we’ve ever met. To learn more about them, visit their website:

With the adorable and delightful kids of Fundacion La Vecina

Muchas gracias, Colombia. I love you immensely. I cannot wait to come back and explore the rest of your beautiful country. I have my sights set on Bogota and Medellin.



There’s nothing more complicated than family

For a number of reasons:

First, we don’t get to choose our family so the chances of us ending up with people we won’t get along with are high.

Second, we can meet literally hundreds and thousands of people throughout our life but it will never change the fact that we will never meet anyone more different from us than family members, whether it be a crazy uncle, a weird cousin or an annoying sibling.

Third, no matter how many reunions we skip, we can never truly escape from said crazy uncle, weird cousin and annoying sibling.

Fourth, we know blood is thicker than water but no one ever tells us what the guidelines are when it’s blood against blood.

Fifth, we love them while we hate them, and we don’t know which one to base our actions on first.

Sixth, no matter how much we hate them, at the end of the day we love them so much that we don’t want them to hate us, so we end up doing something we hate to keep them happy.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is this supposedly wonderful and exciting vacation of mine is turning out to be extremely complicated. And I just want to rent a car, drive to the Grand Canyon, take a breath and scream out all the frustrations I have with this family I love so damn much.