Her name was Tere de Guzman. I call her Hachi.

We met through a common friend at a party last year. I remember her giving me a head-to-toe look when we were introduced. She got dead ass drunk that night that I had to literally carry her the next morning.

Several weeks later, I spent a night at her place for booze with her friends. More than 20 stories up, on a ledge she made me sit on despite my slight fear of heights, she said: “I’m tired. I just want to jump here and end it all.”

Last Saturday, she sent me this message: “What will be your last word to me if I die in a few days’ time?”

We had a lengthy conversation over the phone. I tried to talk her out of it. She sounded calm and normal even though she was talking about death. She insisted that her message wasn’t a cry for help; it was merely a chance to say goodbye. She said her mind was already made up and that nothing and no one could change it. She said she had been screaming for the past 14 years and no one was responding, and she just wanted to be free from everything at this point.

I asked: “give me a song to listen to.” She answered: “Forevermore.” It was the same song she requested I sing for her when we were up on the ledge.

She sent me a photo of a plate of food, captioned: “The best last meal.” She sent me a photo of her grocery basket — sugar-free cookies, Bread Stix, and Racumin.

Last Sunday, she was found dead at a hotel room in Baguio. With a rope around her neck.

I could be posting this on her Facebook wall. I could be addressing all these to her, because isn’t that what we usually do when someone dies? We flood their social media profile with messages of love, like they’d still be able to read it. But I won’t do that. She told me before, “The saddest part is people will come to me that day to tell me how much they love me. That day when I won’t hear them anymore.”

The last photo I have of us together was at Fully Booked in BGC. In between the rows of bookshelves, she told me she’d teach me how to live.

Fucking ironic.

*featured photo by Greg Willson on Unsplash


Post-hiatus anxiety.

Once upon a time, I was an aspiring handlettering artist.

It was four years ago. I signed up on Instagram to showcase my work, and for the next 12 months, my time revolved around the cycle of creating and posting. I admit, a huge part of what kept me at it were the likes/follows/comments I was receiving and also the occasional requests for commissioned work.

Of course, that kind of ‘motivation’ isn’t sustainable. When I hit the dreaded artist’s wall — that dip in momentum where you’re in a slump, feeling stuck and lazy and unmotivated — not even the purchase of new brush pens revived my excitement. Eventually, I ended up abandoning the craft.

Fast-forward to 2019. I want to get back to the creative path, but I feel like I’ve been gone for so long and couldn’t just pick up where I left off like nothing happened. Yes, I can be nitpicky like that. Then out of the blue, an opportunity presented itself through a friend who ‘accidentally’ became an organizer for a massive meetup for journaling enthusiasts. She asked me for samples of my work, and I knew there’s only one place I could direct her.

I recently revisited that Instagram account and realized two things:

  1. I threw away something good; and
  2. Now I want it back.

The universe seemed to agree because I found this gem of a tweet by Sean McCabe, one of my favorite artist/writer:

So there. This is not announcement, but an expression of intent. One day or day one: no one else is going to decide but me.

Starbucks Travel Organizer x Art Journaling

I didn’t buy any planner for 2019 as I finally accepted that I’d never be the type to write daily. So when Starbucks Philippines announced last year that they’d be releasing a travel organizer aside from their yearly planner, I knew right off which one I would get.

Eighteen iced coffees later, I got my hands on the orange sienna option, which I know for a fact I won’t be using specifically for travel. Instead, I decided that this would be my very first art journal — and I don’t have to wait for 2019 to start.

Personally, I find the organizer’s faux-leather finish to have a sturdy feel. The notebook that comes with it has dotted, grid and unlined pages. It also has the usual Starbucks discount vouchers at the back that you normally find in their planners.

The notebook pages are too thin for my taste; there’s too much bleeding even with a normal pen. Hence, I’m confined to doodling on one side instead of doing an entire spread.

Here are some of the pages I did for 2018:

I’m really hoping I can fill this notebook up before July. Fortunately, there is no shortage of inspiration from the art journaling community, my favorite of which is @jbecreate Instagram. Check it out , I promise you won’t be disappointed.

As for the rest of us, 2019 may just be the year when we all get off procrastination land and start getting things done. :)

Goodbye to some, hello to others.

I graduated with a degree in Journalism back in 2008. I never made a career out of writing though, and for the longest time I believed I took the wrong college course. But writing has always been my most comfortable method of expression, the one medium where I can coherently put my thoughts into words. So when the idea to go back to blogging came to me sometime while reading Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work, I knew that I had to do it.

I’m beginning again — ironically, on the last day of the year.

A page from Austin Kleon’s ‘Show Your Work’

2018 was unforgettable for reasons that are both happy and sad. I lost a lot but also gained a valuable few. I had to cut off friendships that don’t make me feel appreciated, but I found new and promising ones. I finally started an art journal, and I discovered that I’m happiest when I’ve just finished creating something. I signed up as a solo joiner for an island tour with a bunch of strangers. I spent half a day with people from the office I wouldn’t normally go out with.

I lost the love of my life, but I learned a few lessons through the process, including this: the human heart is a resilient thing.

To be honest, I’m not expecting anything big for 2019.

It’s not that I’ve become a pessimist; on the contrary, I am looking forward to how ’19 is going to turn out. But I want to focus my lens more on the little things, the small moments that make memories out of ordinary days. I don’t want to say that I’d lose 40 pounds and be disappointed when I fall short of the goal; instead I want to celebrate losing 10 and still being able to eat as much lechon as I wanted.

I don’t want to say that 2019 is the year when I’d finally be the blogger and artist I’ve always wanted to be. But I’d make sure to damn well try.

Hello again, and Happy New Year. ^_^

*featured photo from Unsplash.com