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Finding Beauty in the Broken: A Young Woman’s Reflections on Her Family’s Separation

I opted not to consult what the internet says about the percentage of broken families here in the Philippines. All I need to do is talk to my circle of friends and I’ll get more information than the figures that might show up in the search results.

Is “broken families” a difficult topic of conversation? Maybe. We’ve all heard the stories of our friends and our friends’ friends whose parents split up when they were young, or the stories about the gradation of dysfunctionality of one family in comparison to another. This topic is no stranger to us anymore. It is not something considered by many as sensitive.

However, it is also a topic not given the scrutiny it deserves. Although it is widely discussed, we fail to consider the granularity of it – the kids.

It must be hard for the kids, we always say. How hard is hard? I am no expert but my experience might qualify me for a lead role in a story like this. So, for the purpose of giving parents an idea on what goes on inside their kids’ minds when going through a separation, let me give you a glimpse of my experience growing up.

Beneath the surface, there are cracks.

There were times when I’d wish I didn’t have vivid recollection of Family Days at school or social gatherings where we’d have to come as a family. Being a kid, it’s hard to put on smile and know that what other kids have will never be same with yours. They may not show it with full admission but deep in their minds they know a complete attendance doesn’t really patch up that thing that’s breaking apart. They are kids but they don’t always kid around.

Other than their personal pain, they feel yours too.

They may actually be more affected with your pain than their own. Maybe because of the fact that they don’t have a full understanding of their pain, they focus more on how they feel about how their parents are feeling.

A friend once told me a story about her daughter. She suddenly caught herself sobbing in the shower because her kid was so naughty and wouldn’t stop crying. She was surprised how her 2 year old look at her and stopped crying. No words were needed to pacify the kid, all it took was for her to see her mother’s pain.

It still surprises me how kids can be the most selfless beings.

Even if you think they do or even if they think they do, they don’t understand.

Let’s sit down and talk about this. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve done this. Even if you see the receptiveness in them, no amount of words or bribery can ever make them understand.

Why?

It’s hard to break their concept of family.

You don’t have to be a mom to know how your kid’s first drawing will look like: a house, Mcdo birds, clouds, a sun with a distinct way of creating the rays, a fine day and… a happy family. They don’t understand why it has to happen. All their lives they were made to believe a family has to have a mom and a dad. Family is the epitome of their belongingness, their safety blanket, their rock.

Does this mean parents should play pretend? That would mean going back to the first item. Even if they already know it’s falling apart, there is no way of breaking it gently to them. All the more it’s difficult to make them accept that things will be different. Kids tend to look at the longevity of things. If their toy broke, they’d think they won’t have a toy forever.

Hard isn’t it? To take on the role of making sure everyone’s okay. Please know, mommah, that you can only do as much. It can take them forever to get to that level of understanding of things and you might not feel like what you’ve done is enough or it wasn’t your best card. But know that…

Deep in their hearts, they are grateful.

If there’s I’d spell out the color of blood that my heart pumps during those times, it would be HATE. I was so mad at my parents that a day or two would end without me uttering a word to them. I had so much hate in me before that I feel like talking about a totally different person right now. I still ponder if there was a conscious effort from myself to turn it all around. I wouldn’t say so.

Funny how I still feel a pinch in my heart as I write this. Maybe heartaches don’t ever really go away, you just get used to the feeling of it. Now that I’m way older, I can’t help but wonder how I’ve really grown from it. Or if I’ve ever really grown. Sometimes I feel like another life slipped in through the backdoor and that’s how I diverted my attention. But looking back, after taking the measure, I think despite the heartaches and bubus, life’s beauty is when we strive to give meaning to it every fighting day. And it took a while before I was able to connect the dots: from how I lived life before to how I see life now, from how I felt about my parents and the situation before to how I feel about it now.

It may not manifest right now. Their words and actions may appear otherwise. Kids will realize that not being able to make it work means that there wasn’t an effort to. And time will come when gratitude will surface over hatred in their hearts. For everything you did. For the love withstanding all those heartaches.

Please know that I am sharing this not to put burden on the shoulders of parents who are struggling with their marriage. If anything, this sharing is a way to clear the skies for you.

I write this not with an intent to appear like a cry baby nor with the intent to put stigma on people who have had similar experiences. Some people have the ability to rise above the occasion and turn out to be good or even better individuals considering their childhood stories. It is unfortunate that some find themselves beaten, defeated and overthrown by their nightmares and may need extended help, either internal or external, professional or not.

We’ve all had our sob stories and I believe the courageous route is to turn it all into a beautiful thing: to be able to find peace in war, belongingness in diversity, happiness in distress, love though undeserved, and forgiveness without reservations. It may take a while for others to find this, hence, this read. I hope people who are still living in their nightmares realize that the kind of family one has does not define a person, the kind of love given to them does. May they continue their way to finding the light in their darkness. Know that it is within. And outside? Is a beautiful life waiting.

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Embracing Womanhood, Flaws & All

With the advancement of technology and the ubiquity of social media, access to people’s lives is now easier than ever. The permission it gives people to post about almost anything is directly proportional to the freedom others have to make or break a person through their opinions. Hence the birth of body shaming.

Some moms make getting pregnant, giving birth, and raising kids (aka being a mom) may sound like it is as easy as going through a daily routine.

I don’t need to be a mom to know that IT IS NOT.

Whether it is doing the groceries, changing the diapers, dealing with morning sickness, experiencing mood swings, soothing the a baby’s cries, back pains, or waiting for everyone to fall asleep before you get a second of rest… nothing can really sum up the amount of effort every mom exerts in almost everything she does. Oh! And on top of this? Body shaming.

With the advancement of technology and the ubiquity of social media, access to people’s lives is now easier than ever. The permission it gives people to post about almost anything is directly proportional to the freedom others have to make or break a person through their opinions. Hence the birth of body shaming.

Body-shaming is a maze where no one can escape. It’s like fashion police but worse, because it is much more personal. Everybody gets some: those with flabs are compared to a pug’s face. Those who are skinny are either shamed for not taking care of their body or for not being skinnier. Even those with muscles and abs are shamed for looking too masculine. Nowadays, body-shaming is rampant and the worst thing about it is that people label the victims as fragile.

So how do we win over these things? We learn from the experts.

 

How to Get Away With Body Shaming 101

 

Lesson 1: Make your caption game strong.

Hello new thighs! You appeared out of nowhere but I am not mad at it!

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Lesson 2: Brush it off like a pro!

Bruises from bumping kitchen drawer handles for a week. Stretchies say hi!

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Lesson 3: Life’s a roller coaster. Learn how to ride with it.

 

Lesson 4: Be your own queen. That’s all you gotta be.. Yourself.

#nofilter 😁

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Lesson 5: Give them a lecture if needed!

Dear Instagram trolls, body shamers, and the men and woman who think it's ok to comment on my weight: I hope that you don't have children. And if you do, I hope you teach them about kindness and acceptance. I hope they learn that it isn't ok to make fun of people or call people names. I hope one day YOU learn what it takes to be a parent. A kind, selfless parent. A working parent. A parent that puts themselves in someone else's shoes. Maybe you can't get it through your thick fucking skull, but nursing a baby for a year (and pumping in a van between takes, in the dead of summer in Georgia) is a lot of work, determination, and scheduling. So before you decide to make a comment about my chest being "too large" or how "fat" I've become, just know that this little girl got the best start to life. I wouldn't have changed it for a second. I would've gladly continued to eat enough calories to produce milk for her little bones to grow. Also, grow the fuck up. Your mother should be ashamed for raising such a judgmental bully. I'm sure she knows how "courageous" you must be for trolling and hiding behind your Iphone and computers. P.s. I would LOVE to see any man or woman give birth to a baby, nurse the baby, and then work 17 hour days and NAIL their own stunts. P.s.s. Be kind to each other. We need it now more than ever. ❤️✌🏼️

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Lesson 6: Rub it in their faces!!

 

Lesson 7: Be proud and happy. The result is a mix of people hating and people showing you support. The latter matters but your attitude matters the most.

 

Lesson 8: Be an inspiration. Encourage others to rise above it all!

 

People who shame women for their scars or how their physical appearance has drastically changed must have never known a pregnant woman. It’s that or they are just born insensitive.

So mamas, as women who have sacrificed for your own flesh, feel empowered by the changes your body has been through. Do not let the opinions of others break you.

As Peter Dinklage would say it, wear your flaws as a badge of honour. 🙂

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The Book of Mommy Secrets

They say a woman’s heart is a deep ocean of secrets. Sure, the so called girl code is already an open book (although it is widely stamped as ambiguous). And women babble about almost everything – the oracle of manhood, the perks and detriments of becoming a woman in this modern world and the list goes on. So I can’t help but wonder: what do women, moms in particular, NOT dare talk about when they run out of breastfeeding-secrets-every-mom-should-know kind of topics? When you’re in a room full of creatures who think like you, talk like you, and most likely have the same can of worms as you do, what’s that one thing you couldn’t, wouldn’t, (and you think) shouldn’t talk about?

I have gathered stories from my mom friends who would, in the spirit of sharing, break their silence about the veracity of mommyhood:

Mommy Ninja moves 101 🙂

“I let her cry herself to sleep”

There, there mommy.. Quoting Sam Smith this time: “I know I’m not the only one.” 😉

Damn those mosquitoes! LOL

Listening to confessions of a young mom is, I’m sure, makes the seasoned moms say “been there, done that.” But that doesn’t mean they do not acknowledge the hardship and pain that you’re going through. We’re with you, mommy! You’re doing a great job.

Someone’s using her hall pass wisely 😉

No mom can ever refute the fact that motherhood is hard. You’re sleepless while they are tireless. They get to ask so many questions about things you don’t have the answers to but have to compose one that should make sense to them. You have to work your wonders by being in between allowing them to experience life on their own by playing it cool in the background and getting ready to catch them right when they are about to fall. The worst thing about it is that, it never came with a handbook. If anything, accept that kids aren’t the only ones who get to tumble and fall. Just like how you deal with any other life challenges that come your way, take a breathing and know you can do it all over again. Plus, there will always be someone to talk to. No need to keep secrets 😉 After all, there are no secrets that time does not reveal.

Bangkok: A Sky full of Stars

S̄wạs̄dī, my friend!

Compiling a few of our takeaways from our recent Bangkok trip with short chikas 🙂 Cholo, who planned for the whole adventure, booked the trip after deciding to purchase Coldplay tickets for their A Head Full of Dreams Tour Bangkok leg. You slayed it! Sarap maging prinsesa sa Bangkok hihi 

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The Weather

Summer kung summer! My Pinay balat tells me the heat is no different with how it is in the Philippines this time of the year but they definitely lack some airing over there! Make sure to pack breezy clothes when you visit during summer. Failure to bring Evian facial spray was really a big mistake.

 

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Good thing Buko Ice Cream are sold almost everywhere. Sarap!

The Hotel

We stayed at Novotel Hotel at Ploenchit Sukhumvit. Cholo got a great deal. I wasn’t able to take photos aside from what I posted in my Instagram stories but this 4-star hotel won’t disappoint. Great service. The hotel is near malls and BTS SkyTrain. Buffet breakfast in the morning offers various cuisines, fresh fruit smoothies and unlimited bacon! IKR?! 🙂

Located at 566 Ploenchit Road, Lumpini, Patumwan, Bangkok 10330 Bangkok.

 

Transportation

The usual – 15 Baht on top of your meter bill if you book Grab. We weren’t able to book one though. It’s not very hard to hail a cab in the city.

And of course there’s always tuktuk to add fun to your travel. They charge around 70 Baht for a ride. Not sure though if that’s forenjer price. Tutuks are way bigger than our tricycles and they are allowed to enter main roads.

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Cute, fancy and anti-baha tryk 🙂

Shopping Malls

We didn’t get to visit much but we were told their malls are kind of categorized 😛 They have malls specifically for your gadgets and another one for fashion. We went to Show DC to claim our concert tickets. It’s like a perfect leisure gateway for Asians — shops and food establishments are mostly Japanese and Korean. Pretty cool!

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*Photo from Google

They even have Star Avenue for Koryan fans 😛

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*Photo from Google

 

Khao San Road

Our first attempt to have a nice night cap was kind of a nonsuccess: we found ourselves strolling with empty stomach in an alley where Papis have their kind of FUN 😛 We were in Nana Road.

Thankfully, the next day we got it right! Good music, alcohol, street food, night market, tattoos, express Thai massage, free hugs and as for the crowd? A melting pot of colors 🙂 Oh so right!

 

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Jim Thompson

We have nothing planned out for our first day aside from claiming the tickets and visiting the Grand Palace which we easily took out from our list since the long line caused so much delay. We then decided to check on nearby places to visit and ended up visiting Jim Thompson House – one of the best decisions ever!

He was an American art enthusiast turned Architect and then served the army. The war brought him to Thailand where he found home. He became interested in trade while falling in love with its culture. As a result, he built a house on this piece of land by Klong Maha Nag and just across from the weaving village of Ban Krua. The house was a product of his architectural style influenced by traditional Thai houses beautified with his art and antique collection – truly his masterpiece.

Guests are not allowed to take photos of the house which I totally respect. You have to see for yourself and listen to this very interesting story of his life to really appreciate it.

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With his natural flair for design and color, and driven by his single-minded dedication to reviving the craft, Thompson soon gained worldwide recognition for his success in rebuilding the industry, for generating international demand for Thai silk and for contributing to the growth of the silk industry.

After the tour, you can cotton to a refreshing drink and meal at the cafe by the pond. So relaxing 🙂

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Authentic Pad Thai and Lemongrass drink. Life!!

The Temples

Days 2 and 3 mean tasting the real deal! Off to visiting the temples and ruins 🙂

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They say ringing the bells after praying will also bless those who can hear them 🙂

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Those designs hurt my eyes 😛

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Ang mayora. Charot!

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Our sweaty faces with the reclining buddha.

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I mean look at those deets!!

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Wall prints that tell stories..

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What I would do for doors like this!

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Even the cover up rental perfectly suits my pantone! uuughhh

Ayutthaya

And the ruins, I can’t even!!!!

It was really the boiling point of the day but who would want to miss out on taking a glimpse?

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Another reclining buddha – busy thinking about your karma!

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We opted not to ride the elephants. Witnessing their cuteness overload is more than enough ♥

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Coldplay: A Head Full of Dreams Tour

And of course, the highlight of our trip!

How I wish I could say good things about the fore and aft, but there’s nothing worth the effort. It was reported that 60,000 fans were expected to endure the scorching heat while patiently waiting in endless lines of sweaty, hungry, thirsty people of different colors but speaking one language – the one that only translates to Coldplay lyrics and music 🙂 I heard around 80,000 people came. Whew!

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It was all worth it! Hearing them play would really take you on cloud nine. Haaaaayyy, still on a high!

Floating Market

It’s like floating Greenhills but with more color and delicious food! 🙂

You can ride the boat for 150 baht. Be sure to get on your haggling skills! 🙂

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Our swag captain!

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Tustado 🙂

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Chris Martin photobombing! haha

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Thai Massage

Dead tired from all the walking and the heat will really drain out the energy in you so  we thought some pamper time wouldn’t hurt 🙂 We wouldn’t leave Bangkok without experiencing legit Thai massage!

I looove getting a massage – hard, pressure on points and a few stretches are my non-negotiables and legit Thai massage just nailed it!

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Thailand, you get me!

I think I might have been a local in my past life. The colors and patterns are all goals!!!

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Indeed, another short but sweet adventure for us. Thanks to my sky full of stars ♥

Lion: A Long Way Home

It was  a  couple of years ago when I started revisiting Indian movies after recalling this movie we watched back in first year high school for our English class: Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in IndiaI started checking out Aamir Khan’s (main character named Bhuvan in the Lagaan movie) movies and found a few worth remembering — Idiots, an entertaining story about friendship and Taare Zameen Paran inspiring story about an eight year old boy who was always seen as nothing but trouble until an extraordinary art teacher came to work his unusual ways in trying find out what lies beyond the young kid’s behavior only to find out that the boy was having trouble at home and that he was dyslexic.

Some time last year, Cholo found this movie titled The Lunchbox.

A mistaken delivery in Mumbai’s famously efficient lunchbox delivery system connects a young housewife to an older man in the dusk of his life as they build a fantasy world together through notes in the lunchbox.

For some reason, I seem to have a fetish for Indian culture. So after watching this film, I just couldn’t help but share it 🙂

 

 

 

Lion

A story about an Indian man who knew where he originally came from but claims to have been lost for 25 years now. The films tells how he ended up growing up with an Australian family and his journey home.

I don’t want to spoil you with further details but here are a few things about this beautiful film which I hope you’ll include in your list of movies to catch up on 🙂

 

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The film touches on so many subjects: poverty, family, roots, and the more importantly the rising almost-incurable problem of children missing in India.

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Young Saroo with his older brother Guddu coming home from a day’s work for 2 plastics of milk. How the very simple life of a typical, challenged family in India was very well narrated in the first part of the film. 

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The Brierley couple comforting their second adopted son, Mantosh, who was seemingly mentally disturbed.

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Rooney Mara and the subtlety of her role as Saroo’s partner. Her role does not portray a single and actual icon in the life of Saroo but rather an embodiment of all his lovers in one character. 

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Kamla, Saroo’s mother, played by Priyanka Bose. Priyanka visited Kamla in preparation for her role. She said, “My questions were basic and just by meeting her, I could tell how hard her life has been. I got down on my knees and hugged her and thanked her for her courage”. When meeting Munshi she was told that she was declared crazy by many villagers in the small town for years, as she never gave up hope that her son would return one day.

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Sue Brierley holding his son Saroo. Nicole Kidman was personally chosen by the real life Sue to portray her in the film. This is said to be her first on-screen role as a mother of an adopted child. In real life she’s the mother of two adopted children.

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This cute boy, Sunny Pawar, will sure win your heart. Chosen over 4,000 kids who auditioned for the role, the kid who never had experience with acting for a hollywood film was just the perfect fit. He doesn’t speak English and was said to have not been able to attend the US premiere because he was denied a visa.

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You will need a box of tissue for this last scene: The Reunion. I read it was the first scene shot which makes Dev an outstanding actor. Kudos to him for the 8-month preparation for the role which included changing it body built and facial features. He also visited the orphanage where Saroo stayed and brought a diary to jot down notes. 

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Young Saroo, on-screen Saroo and real life Saroo who wrote A Long Way Home where the film was based on. 

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In India, over 80,000 children go missing each year and there are over 11 million children living on the streets. For the release of this film, the foundation #LionHeart was launched in collaboration between the production companies of this film, See-Saw Films and The Weinstein Company (TWC) and The Charity Network. It will provide financial support to the over 11 million children who live on the streets of India.

 

 

All his life, Saroo mispronounced his name. His real name was Sheru which means LION.