Sunday, October 9, 2011

As much as I don't want to, I have to

I guess the fact that I've been delaying this post says so much about me: A lot of people who know me too well know how I dread coming into terms with things, especially with goodbyes. I could go on and write about the many farewells I encountered and made during my almost-four years of college, but that wouldn’t really add up my entire experience of utter sadness and sheer hopelessness—feelings that I, like most people, would normally associate goodbye with.

Last Tuesday, October 4th, our class held an exposition that featured creative and healthy ways on how to deal with grief. We had chocolates and pizza for comfort food, a freedom wall for self-expression, a darts wall for anger management, and a couple of beanbags with a giant teddy bear for relaxation. Our main goal was to present grief not as something to be completely sad about, but that there’s more to any grief experience than just the negative feelings. At the end of the day, I think we did pretty well, granted that we only had the weekend to prepare.

I was glad to see people dropping by the area that day. Most of them were at the peak of their hell week and saw our expo as a sort of break, especially from their worries. While I admit that some of them were only there for the freebies, I found a number of them who really found Good Grief! helpful:
  • There was this girl who spent 30 minutes sobbing while writing a letter to be posted on the freedom wall
  • Another was a guy who, although we were already cleaning up the place because the expo was over, insisted that he expresses himself by writing something for the wall
  • There was also this lady who hogged the darts area for 20 minutes or so because she was so troubled by the low grades she’s getting in a certain class
These observations really opened my eyes and made me realize that the Ateneo community somehow does need a class such as the one we are taking now. There aren’t much avenues provided for both students and teachers to deal with their loss appropriately. A required annual guidance interview is not enough assistance, if you ask me. Some students are just forced to go, not even opening up to the counsellors. We often fail to recognize the many hardships teenagers face at this stage in their lives. Perhaps all they really need is just a simple push so that these long-hidden frustrations can come out. However, they don’t have the knowledge on how to work their way through these problems.

Overall, I think our expo was a success not only because of the 155 attendees or the fact that all our supplies such as food and art materials were used up, but also that there were a lot of people who stopped by not for the chocolates but to question and listen intently on what our project really was for. And they weren’t exactly weirded out by it, as most of us would’ve when someone talks to us about a sad topic like grief and loss. In fact, majority of them agreed that Good Grief was a unique project and that it was useful for them. And of course, we were so happy to hear that.

* * *

I believe that, without a doubt, I deserve an A as a final grade for this class because I’ve worked relentlessly well on my papers and blog entries, studied hard for the midterm examinations (and pulled through!), organized and helped out in whatever way I can during the final project, and still able to raise my hand and recite in class almost all the time—all that, in spite of the hectic schedule senior year brings. Besides, although people assured me that such a class would be easy, my performance wasn’t marred with mediocrity and I didn’t do things “for the sake of doing them.” I personally found this class very helpful in dealing with my problems and would most definitely encourage others to take this elective as well.

Thank you for everything, Miss Cathy! See you around!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The calm before, the storm, and the year after

Perhaps this is going to be one of my last posts for this blog, since later we'll be holding our last class session and then after that, we're done. Quite frankly, I'm excited on how our event will go. I hope a lot of people can drop by and try out all our stations. Then there's dinner care of Miss Cathy! Today will be all kinds of awesome, I'm sure of it!

And I guess it's pretty timely. I am one for celebrating anniversaries, a lot of people know that. To be able to move on and to forget--both the hello and the goodbye: I must thank you.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

When the sun rises and sets with you

It's been such a long week, I can't begin to write about how it transpired. In the meantime, I'd like to share with you this music video that I've heard and seen weeks ago and every time I encounter it, it never fails to make me cry.

It was written and performed by one of my favorite artists, AJ Rafael, whose songs I've grown to love ever since I first heard them back in freshman year. This Filipino's a genius with words so I'd rather let him explain the real story behind the final product:
My Godfather, "Kuya" Frank, passed away last October after a 4-year long battle with cancer and it struck a familiar feeling in my gut. My Dad passed away when I was 10 and the reailty of losing another father figure really hit me hard.

I wrote this song not about a death or losing someone to an illness, but about wanting to be with someone so bad that you couldn't go another day without them--but this song spoke differently to my Kuya Frank's wife Ate Rhea. She told me that she listened to this song as if it was Kuya Frank singing to her, fighting for her, and wanting to be there for her through all of this. Thus, the original concept for this video was born and it stuck in my head--and I pray that this video helps you realize that you are not alone in your struggle, whether it is you or a loved one going through it.

Don't forget to let your loved ones know that you love them... We never know what tomorrow might bring.
More stories soon, I'm so tired from the two-hour midterm exams we had earlier. But all is well!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


It didn't come to me as a surprise either! It's been about two years since I took the longer version of this Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test and the results are still the same. Good to know that some things never change.

Click to enlarge!

In other news, exams went well. I guess. Or so I think. I hope I did okay.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Never forget who you are

Call me boring but I was never fond of action films. Growing up, the only movies I wanted to watch fall under the romantic comedy (or drama, sometimes) category—making suspense, horror, and action completely out of the picture. I was too safe a girl; even my movie choices were limited to those that have happy endings. So you wouldn’t imagine my reaction when we were asked to watch and write a reflection paper on Colombiana.

Because of my ignorant and na├»ve nature though, I didn’t even know what it was about. I was too busy with my other classes that I didn’t allot some time to take a glimpse at the movie trailer. I thought it was going to be yet another tear-jerker since those kinds would be (obviously) relevant to our class. But when a friend of mine who recently watched the movie in the cinema addressed the lead character as “killer,” my expectations were proven to be wrong. Although I wouldn’t want to see the film for myself, I had to and so I did.

It wasn’t that bad, to tell you the truth. But I believe it could’ve been better. I honestly wouldn’t want to watch this movie if it weren’t a requirement. I was predisposed to not like action films because they promote violence in a long span of an hour and thirty minutes to two hours. It just wasn’t my cup of tea. Anything that involves the police or the FBI only means a lot of complications a romantic comedy fan like me can’t exactly understand. If I had the chance to review it, I could’ve taken a huge amount of points off because of the excessive time allotment for gunshots and bombings. The plot and storyline was simple enough: a girl witnessed and so wants to avenge her parents’ death. I wished they left it at that.

But before I get ahead of myself, there were some points I would like to focus on. First would be the family dynamics in the film. At an early age of nine, Cataleya witnessed how her parents were killed by one of the men of her father’s boss. Cataleya’s dad, Fabio, decided to leave his life of drug smuggling but his boss Don Luis, despite giving him his blessing and wishing him well, wanted him killed. Fully aware of his coming demise, Fabio planned to flee and bring his family with him. As I’ve observed, Cataleya was trained well to survive in case something bad happens. She was equipped and knowledgeable on what to do next. Fortunately, she was able to escape the hands of her parents’ murderers. She travelled all the way from Columbia to US to live with her tiyo Emilio and her grandmother. They became her family from then on.

She was particularly close to her uncle; he brought her to school and then taught her to be a killer. She learned everything she could while living under their roof. In the same way as Cataleya’s parents died, her tiyo’s son was also killed. This event made him want to avenge his son—just like how, in years later, Cataleya too would try to avenge her parents. She worked as her uncle’s hitman and at the same time finding a way to avenge her parents’ death. To date she killed 23 people.

By the end of the movie, we see Cataleya getting on a bus for an unknown destination. The police weren’t able to catch her and since she has already gotten her revenge and killed the people involved in her parent’s death, I believe she might consider starting over. She might possibly stop being a killer. Besides, her “boyfriend” Danny, who doesn’t even know anything about her, claims that he loves her. At least she has something to look forward to in her “new life.”

Throughout the course of the film, what really struck me most was that Cataleya always had an escape plan. Even at an unguarded territory and in places she has never been to, she knows how to work her way through and around it. She has been taught well to be able to develop those skills. Unfortunately, this made me see the film as pure fiction because in reality, we don’t really have escape plans—or at least not all of us are fully aware of it. She was just lucky to have them.

Also, I know growing up without parents and without knowing what will happen to you as you travel across the world into the place where your dad said you’ll be safe in is pretty tough, but Cataleya didn’t show a hint of fear or sadness only until she was reunited with her tiyo. This inability to feel was further developed in her growing years and was evident in her acts of killing and murder.

Perhaps another lesson I got from the movie was that we should allow children to grieve and express themselves. Parents should be able to guide them through their emotions day-by-day, instead of just letting them do it by themselves. That way, hidden anger would be well understood. Tiyo didn’t know about Cataleya’s other agenda (killing people who took part in the death of her parents) until it was published on newspapers. This made him very angry and disappointed. Through this, I have seen that open communication is a must for every family and group. We’ll never know what’s going on in the minds of others unless we engage in conversations with them and try to address these problems.

And finally, for my last point, I have learned in the film that traumatic experiences from childhood really, for most people, stay and change the way they view life. Sometimes these events can even be the motive to do other things, evidently seen in Cataleya’s life. If not guided and taught appropriately, children will grow up not knowing right from wrong. I guess I’m very much thankful that despite the number of trails and challenges I’ve faced in my life, my family and friends have been very supportive and helped me cope with those undertakings. I know that I’ll have a good life in the future because I have been taught well while I was growing up.