Re: When you live life in gratitude

I was in the elevator on my way home from work when I felt a faint yet warm feeling of relief. Shoulders relaxed with a soft smile on my face, all I can think of was how thankful I am to be able to live the life that I do.

I’m not saying that to boast or to insinuate at all that I’m living life as comfortably as Nick Young’s family in Crazy Rich Asians. In fact, I’m far from that. Nonetheless, I still feel incredibly grateful to have a cozy home, food in the fridge, friends I can lean on and the spare change in my bank account after the rent money has been taken out.

You don’t have to live a perfect or lavish life to feel grateful.

Often we think of life as cruel because of the circumstances that life has dealt us. And absolutely, sometimes we go through a period of complete and utter despair. But the brilliant thing about being human is that even though life happens in all of its cruelties there will always be light when we choose to see it. Every hardship we go through comes with a lesson to learn, and more importantly, an element that makes us even more resilient.

When you live life in gratitude, it’s not about just looking at life through an optimistic lens. It’s seeing life for what it is – with all its messiness, stress, anger, uncertainty – and being okay with it. All of it. And doing so not because of complacency or passivity. But because you, as an individual part of a greater whole, are trying your best to be a better person, son/daughter, parent, friend, professional and so on anyway.

None of this is revolutionary. It’s just something that needs to be put out in the world more often.

Always have a grateful heart.

Always,

K

Re: Disappointing AncestryDNA results

If you remember my Balikbayan blog post from a few years ago, you may know that I am Filipino. Although my fellow countrymen may not think I am at first glance – they usually think Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or Vietnamese – I’ve always wondered which part of our family folklores was legitimate. Growing up my parents shared stories of my family as being partial Hispanic, Japanese and Chinese so I decided it’s time to put that to the test – literally! A few weeks ago, I took an AncestryDNA kit with the hope that it would be able to shed some light on my heritage. But to my disappointment, the result I received was – 100% Filipino.

Historically speaking, this is highly inaccurate. The indigenous communities in the Philippines do not just vary in location of residence, but also their biological characteristics because they reflect the migration of people around the Asia Pacific who have settled at different parts of the Philippines. A brief article from Culture Trip describes the indigenous communities found in the North and South, with pictures of some of the tribes. Not only that, the country has been colonized by the Spaniards for many generations (+300 years), the Japanese during World War II and the Americans. Even more, voyagers from Portugal and France were also documented to have landed in the Philippines. Considering all of these factors, how can this DNA test tell me that I am 100% Filipino when that in itself is quite ambiguous?

Before taking the test I knew that others of Asian descent didn’t find the results as useful. Or perhaps, I simply made the wrong decision of buying the wrong DNA kit? With so many popping up nowadays, it makes me wonder how accurate this type of DNA testing actually is. In contrast, the results reflect the forced assimilation generations of Filipinos went through. Their names changed. Beliefs ridiculed and forced into gentrification. Histories erased.

Ultimately, I have to ask myself the question – What does it mean to be Filipino to me?

Always,

K

P.S. Have you taken a similar DNA test? What was your experience with it?

Re: Why I stopped blogging for a year

It’s been well over a year since I published a full-length blog and I don’t feel guilty at all.

There were a few times when I’ve forced myself to sit down for an hour or two to write a blog post from the list of topics I’ve listed a long time ago or random topics I’ve thought of during my long commute from work. These times were the most excruciating writing sessions I’ve put myself through – for no damn reason! To make matters worse, I had a slew of excuses for why I couldn’t finish a blog post or why I had to stop writing. Eventually, I started to feel anxious about my skills as a writer. What if I just couldn’t write anymore? What if I lost my creative spark? What if my writing is not good enough?

I was psyching myself out of doing something I loved to do.

In retrospect, there were a few personal things I needed to reconcile with first over the past year or so. Blogging suddenly became such a laborious thing that I “had to do” on my free time after work. It just didn’t feel like something I enjoyed doing anymore. At first, I felt really bad. It felt like I was failing myself. So I took some time off to understand why I felt that way and figure out what I should do next to not feel like that anymore. Granted there are still a lot of things I need to work on, but I’m in a much better place now.

So, why am I blogging again?

Because I want to. Because I’m genuinely hungry to start writing again. I wholeheartedly want to continue sharing pieces of my life; lessons I’ve learned and my travel adventures to places I never thought I wanted to visit. I’m blogging again because it’s an expression of my authentic self – blogging has helped shape who I am and how I communicate. Though I won’t have a regular publishing schedule like I used to, I’m making an effort to continue writing and ultimately to continue expressing myself.

For those who have been there with me on my winding journey or those who are just stopping by for a quick read, thank you.

Always,

K

Dear London, U.K.

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You were not my first choice. In fact, you were not on my list of places to visit-ever! Frankly, I’ve heard many wonderful tales about you and your beauty but it has never enticed me to make the trip across the pond. So, it was as much of a surprise for me when I felt the sudden urge to visit you without reason. Looking back, I think I had to. I had to make up my own mind about you, based on my own experiences and not everybody else.

The fog blanketing the city streets brought a manageable melancholy that made the littlest joke funnier and my heart lighter. Amidst one of the busiest cities in the world, I walked in peace. Isn’t that ironic?

Surrounded by art, culture, and history, it was no surprise to bump into fellow visiting tourists in every corner. Wide-eyed and amazed by your vast beauty, this might seem all too romantic for you, because underneath lies, well, the Underground. Each station is a modern complement and convenience to and from ornate palaces, preserved houses and iconic landmarks. Perhaps, this great balance between history and modernity is what sprouted our love affair?

Or perhaps, it was walking along the cobble stone alley diverting from Marylebone Lane and finding a gem that served a delicious French Onion Soup. You thought I was going to say Fish and Chips, didn’t you?

Unexpectedly, I fell in love with you piece by piece. A gradual kind of love that left me wanting more as I board my flight home…

London, my unexpected love, I have to cut this letter short but rest assured that you’ve given me something I didn’t think I needed.

There’s no need for me to say that I’ll be back.

I will, in time.

Always,

K

P.S. Thank you for reminding me that, “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” –William Shakespeare