To my 30-year-old self

I’m writing this days before our birthday weekend. I’ve actually tried to write this earlier, but something felt off. And the truth of the matter is, I think I was trying to write that letter too smug. We may have learned a lot in the past decade, but we’re still a work in progress. Some days, months or years may come better than others but we’ll still need to work on ourselves every day. Not necessarily to reach perfection, just to be a little bit better every day. Better on ourselves, other people, and the world. 

20s was a decade filled with memories for the ages. Exciting adventures at unfamiliar landscapes, heartbreaks, disappointments, achievements and new beginnings. You’ve shown up for yourself in ways that you never thought you needed to. You’ve grown to love yourself and actually like yourself, even if you do get snotty sometimes and may need some reassurance from time to time. You’ve accepted the freedom of being wrong and being wrong often (sometimes we still need to accept this more if we’re really being honest). You’ve started to have more faith and trust, even when times feel desolate and futile. You’ve allowed yourself to feel every crashing wave of emotion instead of holding your breath until it passes. And you’ve been humbled, and continue to be humbled, to know that you didn’t do any of this on your own. You’ve been gifted the strength to fight through circumstances, but nothing compares to the grace, love, joy, courage, wisdom, peace, and power that surrendering to Christ brings. He is your most trusted friend, heavenly father and faithful partner.

There’s so much to look forward to, even if they are unknown. Many more things to learn and unlearn. And even if sharing with your best friend, Tatay and Nanay, may not be physically possible, they’ll be here in mind, heart and sometimes with a little attitude to bring yours down back to Earth. It’s okay to miss them and wish they were here. That’s part of grieving and moving forward.

Lean into your discomfort. To access the deepest and undiscovered parts of you, you have to let yourself sink into the discomfort. Floating only keeps you on the surface, wandering and wondering – half in and half out. You and I know that staying on the superficial surface has never been our style. So sink. Forgotten shipwrecks remain dormant underneath the surface could still carry treasures. You found the one true refuge amidst a shipwreck, remember?

And one last thing before I leave, you’re going to hate this but I’m going to say it anyway, fall in love with someone else again. You know how to love unconditionally, that’s not what I’m saying. Fall in love again slowly, and let yourself be loved… I saw that eye roll. Do it for us and because we deserve to. 



P.S. Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10


Re: What makes you extraordinary? 3/3

Angelica & I’s photo together over the summer beautifully sums up the kind of sweet and caring individual that she is. Grateful for our conversations and friendship! Keep being amazing love! 🙂

I was careful about introducing this project because I realized early on that our loved ones come in many forms. It could be a friend, a family member or romantic significant other. So I asked a couple of my friends to think of someone extraordinary. They didn’t have to tell me who it was right away. I simply wanted them to think of that person first. Then I asked them what makes the person they are thinking of extraordinary?

Angelica’s response:

“I think that they’re the strongest and most resilient person I know.”

Who were you thinking of?



Vicky’s response:

“My sister is extraordinary because she cares about other people and their well-being to the point where she compromises herself sometimes. She is artistic and creative in ways I’ll never comprehend haha. And even though, she’s just 13, the way she deals with conflict and people in general is something I’m still learning.”


Granted, I am still a closet romantic so I asked a dear couple, married for 54 years the same question to cap off this project. Bruce responds by sending me a speech he had written 30-40 years ago. It starts, “As I think of how grateful I am for my wife, I realized that her love and companionship alone make me very rich…” Of course, I read this like the love letter it became all these years. Bruce talked about his appreciation for her support and the significant role she had played in his life as her husband, the father of their children and as a professional. He concludes by saying that, “my wife is truly an individual person. I find this quality most exciting. She fulfills a demanding church stewardship of her own and derives great personal satisfaction from her achievement. She is also involved in a number of activities of self-improvement…I find these too supportive to me because I am proud to be the companion to this beautiful and exciting person-my wife!”

This project started as a reminder for myself and for everyone around me that even when you don’t feel your best self, someone out there sees you for who you are and who you are striving to be. It was a privilege to get such awesome responses to equally amazing individuals. I can only hope that someone in cyber space was inspired even just a little bit.

You are extraordinary. Don’t forget that.




Re: What makes you extraordinary? 2/3

jemel-adrian copy
Follow the links below to view Jemel’s & Adrian’s work!

Now, I met Jemel and Adrian a little over 2 years or so ago (right?) They are probably one of the cheesiest couples I know and I love it! They put their amazing creative skills to work and shoot great photos together. Of course, they were a must-ask couple for me to reach out to for this kind of project. But you see, I didn’t realize that this was a difficult question until I realized that most people I asked initially got a little stumped when I first asked them. Nonetheless, here are Jemel and Adrian’s reponse:

What makes Jemel and Adrian extraordinary?

Jemel’s response:

“What makes Adrian extraordinary is his genuine care for others and his genuine care and passion for anything he sets his mind to. So if he has some type of goal he wants to reach, the moment he grasps on to it he ends up doing better than he expected and inspires others along the way!”

Adrian’s response:

“She’s lost…a handful of the times and I don’t mean that in a bad way. She’s always lost in her own world, trying to find herself doing these amazing things. Sometimes she’s lost with directions of names of places, and yes can be very indecisive, but she tends to wonder off well into thoughts and finds her lost in it. Sometimes I can’t picture what she’s thinking because she literally jumps from one thought to another. It can be bad but it can also be good because she doesn’t wait for something to happen. Most of the time it’s a good thing because she finds these thoughts within her.

When she is lost she expresses a lot of feelings. She’s scared, frustrated, or sometimes happy, but super excited when she eventually finds her way. An example could be when she’s stuck thinking then she finds a new creative idea. Or when she’s excited and you see her face, it’s like Christmas on a random given day. She sometimes doesn’t believe she can do amazing things because she doubts herself sometimes. But when she’s off lost in her own world and comes back with this ambition, like Humans of UofT or planning a memorable birthday party, she is definitely extraordinary.”

One more set of reponses to complete the rest of my series. Stay tuned! You’ll love it, I promise 🙂




P.S. These lovely people are also pretty awesome photographers! Here are the links to their portfolios just in case you’re interested 🙂 Thank you for your responses again!

Re: What makes you extraordinary? 1/3

From, Mayur Gala, 2014

Sometimes I have doubts. And sometimes those doubts are fed by my insecurities lurking beneath my inner thoughts just waiting for the next instance they can reemerge from the shadows. It’s easy to dismiss that we are far more than we give ourselves credit. It’s easy to forget that whom we see in the mirror is not the same as whom others see.

In the midst of the Valentine’s Day buzz, I wanted to write a post as a reminder of self love. Instead of me incessantly talking about the importance of having self love, I asked a few of my friends a single question about their loved ones. For some reason, it’s always easier to talk fondly about our loved ones more so than ourselves. Now, some don’t know that I asked their loved ones the same question I asked them. What’s the question, you may ask? What makes your loved one (insert name) extraordinary? Let’s see what they had to say, shall we?

What makes Adam and Tania extraordinary?

I met Adam and Tania separately in high school. Briefly reuniting with them at an alumni event, I had a hunch that they were together (aka Facebook told me). Of course, I couldn’t resist asking them the question separately.

Adam’s response:

“I thought that this was a very difficult question to answer. To try to capture all the little details and feelings that build my attraction towards Tania would make a lengthy response. So, instead I’ll try to highlight a handful of her foundational traits that make her an extraordinary person in my eyes, and without a doubt the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with.

Tania is a perfect example of a woman who embodies strength. She is an independent individual who flourishes on her own, but is still able to make me feel like I’m a critical component to her day-to-day life.

She has a big heart, she is a loving and caring individual who constantly searches the web to find a pup in need of a loving home so she can shower it with kisses and snuggles (she literally spends a minimum of 4 hours/day doing this). She’s also extremely considerate and is always making sure people are comfortable and content, never hesitating to make personal sacrifices to ensure that.

She has strong values. Tania has a strong set of fundamental values instilled in her by her parents. A lot of people nowadays lack core values, which is what makes Tania such a breath of fresh air.”

Pleasantly surprised with Adam’s detailed response, I couldn’t help but feel the thought he put in answering the question. Though I had to cut parts of his response, I think that it encapsulates an amazing woman. Now here’s what Tania said about Adam…

Tania’s response:

“That question isn’t as easy as it sounds haha. Okay let’s start with his curiosity. He’s the kind of guy who isn’t afraid to try new things and he’s always up for a challenge.

He’s self-assured. He’s confident (but not cocky!) and is willing to put himself out there. He’s not afraid to own who he is, even if he’s the underdog.

He communicates/is willing to admit when he is wrong. This is HUGE! Being able to admit fault isn’t always easy. But it shows that he’s always trying to improve and grow. He’s a listener. He doesn’t just hear what I say – he listens and remembers. He’s generous/helpful – If someone needs help he will always do what he can.

Lastly, he has really made he ask myself (and I mean this) “am I being the best person I can be?” and if someone can change the way you think and affect others (for the better), then I think that classifies them as pretty extraordinary.”

Overwhelmed by the positive feedback and responses I got from my friends about their loved ones, I decided to turn this post into a series. The next set of responses will be posted soon! 🙂




P.S. Thank you to Tania and Adam for their responses and support 🙂

P.P.S. Stick around for the ending, will you?