life is life

As you might have noticed, I haven’t been ok the past few weeks. Or maybe you haven’t, that’s fine too…better actually. But that’s it, I haven’t. And it started just when May ended and June rolled in. I went through hell and back. No it’s not because of some recent announcements that I’m actually genuinely happy about, so don’t start assuming there…But because of a personal trial that made me question how I viewed myself and the world. I was wrapped in such a dark bubble that I even hated the idea of interacting with people. And tonight I decided to put an end to that. Because I hate the idea of wasting my days, wallowing. So first off, I made an effort to seek help. I introduced myself to a person named Nathan. I came across Nathan in one of Belle Daza’s Instagram stories and she was very kind to send me his number. On his page I saw that he offered help to “access your infinite awareness.” Now, I didn’t even know what that meant…but I knew for sure I needed help from someone, anyone!!!…to get me out of this hole I dug myself into. And as much as I’d like to say he healed me or gave me magic words or opened a consciousness I wasn’t aware of before. He just sat across me and listened. And after I told him all the injustices that I felt and now saw, he replied with the best three words I’ve heard, strung together: LIFE IS LIFE. And I started tearing up. I am angry that I allowed myself to feel bad for 3 months when in fact that is the simple and most basic truth: LIFE IS LIFE. And however we decide to go about our own little worlds daily, the world won’t stop for us. So we get to make choices constantly. Choices that can lead to opening up a world of happiness for ourselves and the people around us. And starting tonight, I declare that I will always choose to be happy. ALWAYS. Because life is only and will always just be, life.

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my windows

I used to love my eyes. Despite it not being perfect. One seemingly more “lazy” when I’m sick or overworked. I loved them. Brown in the middle and green just around the edge. Not my mother’s nearly black or my father’s light blue eyes. Just my own weird shade of something. And I loved them for what they saw. Maybe because I always chose to direct my head towards beauty. Fields. Mountains. Beautiful cities. And my favourite- oceans from above and below the surface. I took delight in soaking everything in. I always tried to see the best. In sunrises and sunsets, in crowded places, even in situations but ultimately in people. Always the last to figure out if I was being fooled because of always seeing the best in everybody. And I loved that about myself. Over time, my eyes started forming lines in its corners. From laughing too much because my heart was always too full. And from smiling till my eyes become slits because I was always so overwhelmed by my love for the world. Always so grateful to witness beauty in different forms. I get to use my eyes for work too. Im always told that my eyes already act even before the rest of my body does. And I thank them for that. For always telling you what I thought and felt in the little and big screens. But recently I started hating my eyes. Always so sad. So heavy. No amount of make up could lift up the bags under them from realising how the world can be unfair and cruel. It’s bright brown and green, just dull now. From seeing the sun and trees, they now mostly choose to look down at whatever pair of sneakers are trying to keep my soul warm. I have truly lost my faith in colors. In peripherals. In music. I used to love to see what a song could do for my heart and fingertips. But now, I only tolerate words. Crisp, fast, words. I hate that my eyes now would rather stay closed all day if I weren’t at work. And that they’re sore from me rubbing them dry constantly. I hate that it always forms tears that I don’t allow to drop so it just sits at the base of my throat, choking me. I want to know…what is there now to see?

Won’t fit the mold.

Hello. Hello from New York, it’s been a while. I’ve gone through the worst and best days since Bangkok and I’m thankful for all of them equally. There was a breakthrough for me yesterday though that I wanted to share with you all… and hopefully if you can relate to what I say, I hope I give some sort of comfort to you. I have no hunger for anything at the moment. Which is me saying that there will still be bad days but it’s ok. But yes, no hunger. Not food, or sleep, or experiences. A pity. I’m in a city that I’ve always dreamed of going to and I have no will to go out there and feel the sun on my skin. (Yes it’s my first time here.) if my life was a balloon, I somehow thought that I could close the tear that this month has caused by sewing it up with needle and thread, only causing more holes. And now, I’m on the last stitch praying I don’t explode. Life tests you like that. But yesterday, Kim and I ran into our first ever acting teacher in star magic, Ms. Beverly Vergel. The start of the rest of our lives. For Kim 13 years ago, me 12. And I didn’t see her at first but I heard Kim happily catching up with her, so I took a better look and saw her there. And I remembered the 16 year old me. Fresh from graduating from a catholic school suddenly taking classes with her, the teacher who trained all the stars. Me suddenly learning things about myself that a 16 year old shouldn’t have known yet. I remembered all the auditions I failed at, the many times I was sure I wasn’t thick skinned enough for this and the times I felt like the most odd one out. I felt sad. It was a hard and long way. It still is. But I love what I do so much. She looked at me then. Gave me a slow smile. I approached and said hello. I said I missed her. She’s been based abroad for maybe a decade now. But I will never forget this woman who taught me the basics, which is all you need to know in acting to be honest. Everything else should be raw and real reactions. She taught me work ethic and professionalism. Reiterated how disgusting it was to be late for any job. And they’re all burned on my skull. I remember the cold rooms where she would teach us how to act from 7am to 10pm for a whole summer. I asked how she was. We took a selfie. She said “I’m proud of you.” I didn’t see why, she’s trained people who are higher up than me. Probably didn’t want to believe it either. She said “you did your own thing. You walked your own path, and you did it.” I laughed for the first time yesterday and answered with ” I had no choice ms. Bevs, I didn’t fit their mold.” And I still don’t. Haha. She looked at me more and said “when there was no space for you, you made your own.” (I was launched the year that the universe decided all the pretty people my age should try acting too. She told me several more things in this context that I am grateful for. It’s nice to know that someone who knew me at 16 is proud of the 28 year old me. And could feel my hard work, continents away. And I realised I really did have a hard time. It’s not as if I didn’t want the easy way, it’s not as if I didn’t want to be on the road everyone else was on. But I was told not to be on it. So read what I will say next carefully… there will always be more roads to get where you want to go. If there’s no land, swim if you have to. If you have to go through fire, run as fast as you can and hope you come out alive on the other side. When I was younger, there were many days that I wished I had dimples, or I could kiss up more or that I was beautiful too in a more conventional way. Or I wish I’d entered a reality show or was placed in a love team. But I didn’t have any of these provisions. So I wrote. Scripts, articles, stories and concepts. So I thought for myself. So I made sure I got better everyday. And look! I might not be where I want to be yet, but I’m inching forward. Always. I crawl if I need to on most days. Tired to the bone but happy. If you are reading this and think you don’t fit in somewhere or you can’t figure out what to do, I’ll tell you the same thing I answered ms. Bevs with. I never fit the mold. And if you don’t too, don’t be scared. Every time you wake up is a chance to make your own mold that hopefully someone else will fit into as well. Always think that you are lucky to be in the position to help rather than be the one asking for it. And making a new mold makes more options for the next generations ❤️ be brave. Cry, scream, laugh. But always be brave. And move forward. I hope to see you guys at the end of the line ❤️ now, I hope I snap out of whatever state I’m in so I can finally get myself some pretzels 🤦🏻‍♀️

…and the lack of it

I’m tired. To the bone. My soul too is tired. After only a few days. How do people who watch life waste away over and over take it?

I’ve done this before. Charmed the nurses in the ICU to let my granddad listen to Elvis and Englebert, only to see him wrapped in a white sheet just days after we planned which Chinese restaurant to eat in when he gets better. And then again a year after, on my birthday…when I was the only one watching over my grandmother and her doctor asked me to step out with him and say that she had stage 4 bone cancer and would like for me to relay to everyone else that he needed to know immediately what kind of pain management we’d choose for her. To be fair, she passed on with a very calm face, two weeks after that talk.

But now it’s only been two full days and I’m dead tired. To think, I’ve had my longest sleep for the whole year, here in Thailand. I don’t do much, don’t say much. He’s asleep most of the day or has been given something to sleep. His staggered, painful intakes of breath aren’t as alarming to me as when I first walked in. The rhythm, now almost comforting. The needles, tubes and wires in his body, not daunting anymore. They could have morphed as one and hugged me and I would’ve said thank you for helping my dad stay…alive.

As I write this in the back of the grab car I feel the pain. In my muscles, in my throat (berocca, you failed me this time), in my feet and in my cheeks from the constant effort to not cry. Ive been ignoring the tears that I’ve felt since I got the phone call in Manila, in the car to NAIA, in the airport as I watched people excited to go on holiday, on the plane (thank you to my chatty seatmate for distracting me), in the cab to my hotel, in the hospital when I first walked in his room and saw his eyes light up, every time a doctor has talked to me and my mind goes blank when they ask me if I have questions, when I buy snacks for the nurses and feel guilty for enjoying the sun for 5 minutes and when I just watch him struggle for air. My tears have been pushed down so many times that I don’t know if I’ll be able to cry properly for anything else.

We turn now into the driveway of my hotel and I am already wincing at the idea of standing up and walking up to my room. But I welcome the idea of a hot shower to melt away all the dirt and sadness of everyone else from that hospital.

I do hope to be numb though tomorrow when I board my flight back home. May my muscles rest tonight. My feet, release the steps we took to get here and my heart accept that I couldn’t physically do more. I return… Not having anything really answered. Not seeing him get better but worse.

I’ll return, tired, gasping for air, and the lack of it.

air

Twice or thrice had I loved thee,

Before I knew thy face or name;

So in a voice, so in a shapeless flame,

Angels affect us oft, and worshipped be.

An excerpt from something I came across online. Fittingly, I’ve been coming across and have been continuously interacting with very special people I can’t be with just yet with the help of my data provider and whatever WiFi router is near me.

And in many ways, as much as I hate being stuck on my phone, I’ve never loved it more than I have these last few weeks. And through something so mechanical, I have been taught over and over again to humbly appreciate how beautiful the world is outside four walls and my oversized windows. Funny how life does that.

And today, as I write this in a plane to see my dad. I wish for air. Not this condensed, over recycled, cabin pressurised air. Air for me and for someone I have been give the pleasure to know…who won’t waste his breath saying things he doesn’t mean. Air for you out there who feels stifled and needs an inhale to let everything in without hate and hurt and an exhale to release the weight and burden that the world decided you could take. Air for your voice to be loud and clearly heard. Air to make everything else work properly thus making you live like you once lived, but even better. And air. For you to take in selfishly never fearing the next intake and the pain it might bring. Air that is clean and will never keep you in again.

There are many parallels in my life today that I didn’t expect. And many stark contrasts. Of young and old, suffering from something so similar. Of short and long moments given, others taken for granted, others trying to be extended by 4 minutes maybe 5? And all this scares me.

I question where my fear is coming from. Where is the version of me who bravely went on day long flights to God knows where with no plans? Why do I feel like I’m the young kid sent to see my dad on the other side for the first time again, twice in the last four weeks? I need her today…the brave, carefree me. I need her so I won’t fear what I’m about to see and what I wasn’t able to, and wont fear being completely lost after.

As a firm believer though of everything falling into place, I will trust the origin and destination to pull through. I trust that the air that is carrying me back and forth won’t leave me, gasping. Won’t leave me, falling. But will keep me up where I am right now, watching, waiting.

It’s the cheeks and the smile.

In the last three days I’ve seen myself get younger and older. I’m currently writing on a train that left Collingham 22 minutes ago and will get to Nottingham in a bit. Across the aisle from me is my nephew Louis and behind him, his friend, Euan. Lou is my sister Ceri’s son. And Euan used to go to school with him. In Nottingham, we meet up with George, my sister Michelle’s son and we all take the train from there to Manchester together to visit Ceri’s daughter, Jessica, who works there.

It was Jessica who I saw first when I arrived. I arrived two days ago in a car right up their driveway and I saw Jess come out with her mom. Even without ever meeting her before, I zoomed in on Jess because I’ve actually spoken to her a few times on Instagram and also because I was shocked. I saw myself running towards me. 😂 She has the exact same face I had when I was her age. Her hair color is what mine would be if I stopped colouring my hair black for roles. And then I look over to the right and just a few steps behind her with a smile that could be mine, Jess’s or my dad’s is Ceri. And I’m shocked again. Fully aware that what Ceri looks like now is exactly what I will look like at her age. We are so alike that for a second I questioned if maybe I was lost somewhere and Ceri is actually my mum and not my sister. But I’m not. 😂 I look like my moms aunt, mama Eva, when I dye my hair dark. It’s all pretty amazing.

Till this morning I’d still catch myself staring at Ceri. She looks so much like my dad now. I’d love for my him to see what I see, really. They could be twins if he were younger. Just like Jess and I could be twins if I were younger. But more than what we look like, it’s how they move and think that really astounds me. I’m reeeeally seeing a younger and older version of me everyday. How Jess rolls her eyes and how Ceri tilts her head to the side when she smiles. How we all lose our eyes when we laugh, and how we’re all always right. And I’ve been told how Ceri gets mad (which like me, will take forever but will hit you hard when it arrives). And how Jess speaks so confidently but apparently only when she feels safe like I would.

I couldn’t be more at home than I am now. And I grateful for it. The fear I had coming over was really for nothing. And Louis! Reading Chuck Palahniuk beside me on the train! I couldn’t be any more proud. I’ve always been Chuck Palahniuk’s number one fan. I used to tweet him like a lovestruck teen every time he released a book. Lou also looks like all of us but he towers over us at 6’3. More than the high cheekbones that we all have, it’s his eyes that will draw you in. So deep and always watching. I feel like he’s watching me like I watch other people…And his sarcasm 🤦🏻‍♀️ He blurts out things I would if people weren’t so damn sensitive. I can’t wrap my head around it.

Ultimately, we always agree it’s the Sullivan cheeks and chin that connect all of us. Michelle says she has the huge cheeks too, but she doesn’t…she has perfect non-chubby cheeks…in my eyes she looks like a dead ringer for Meg Ryan when she did French Kiss or When A Man Loves A Woman (both in my top ten favorite films.) she doesn’t look much like us but her voice could be mine or Ceri’s. And there’s a warmth to her soul that I’ve been told many times that I have.

I never thought I needed sisters in my life. Or more family members. Being the only child of my mom and dad and having only one older brother (my mom’s son) in the Philippines but 9 years older, making me grow up like an only child, was always fine by me. But knowing now that I have family across the globe who are so much like me makes me look forward to travelling even more now. I know I’ll be here every chance I get from now on too. I enjoy listening to their stories and hear about people I’ve never met but they had in their lives when I wasn’t around.

I’d like for all of you to meet them one day. They’re lovely. And I’ll wait for any of you to blurt out that it’s the cheeks and the chin. 🤗

the rumble before take off.

I’m staring at the monitor in front of me, I’m given two language choices to get my monitor to start working but I haven’t touched the remote at all since I departed Manila eight hours ago. This is new. I always watch movies as soon as I get on the plane. But not today. Today I’m staring into nothing, thinking.

My first actual memory of flying was when I was 7. I went to Malaysia with my mom, who needed to be there for a business trip, and I remember her bringing me to the salon to have my hair curled as a treat for being a good girl (which meant accompanying her to all the meetings, but waiting in the lobby instead of doing things that were fun and kid friendly). The next Monday when I returned to school, my hair was limp, frizzy and burnt, definitely not curled. But I had already been flying before that. I’d gone to my sisters in England the summer I turned 4, lived in Hong Kong, Bangkok and Malaysia for a little for my dad’s work, visited my moms sister in Germany and a lot of little side trips to go back and forth between parents. Of course, then, I didn’t know it wasn’t normal for the other parent to wait for you on the other side and not actually fly with you. My mom and I always had to go to DSWD for a form saying that both parents know I’m about to board a plane. But I enjoyed it. Flight attendants gave me puppets and colouring books, and I felt older somehow, making conversation with adults, seeing first time flyers, and figuring out how to fly on my own.

See, everything about flying makes me extremely happy…From choosing the perfect airport outfit (my mom and dad taught me to dress up for everything, specially travelling. Sandals and slippers on the plane were always a big no no for them.) to trusting that the belts bring my bags to the right plane, to getting through the obstacle courses… like the immigration windows (which somehow always feels daunting in any country you go to.) to collecting my bags and walking onto foreign soil for the first time. All of these excite me.

But my favorite part will always be the loud rumble of the plane right before you fly. It’s as if the plane knows you’re about to start an adventure and it’s preparing you for a great time. The low churn combined with my cheeks shaking from the plane’s exertion is always my signal to really get ready for the best time ever!

So now, I type this, still staring at the monitor, right after finishing my breakfast (scrambled eggs and black coffee) thousands of feet up in the air, on my way to the stop over which is Abu Dhabi, before I get to my final destination: London.

I booked this flight four days ago. Which is too short a time to plan a trip specially when you’re still working down to the last minute before your flight (I rushed home from shooting a few hours ago to pack, shower and go!) and this honestly wasn’t my first destination. I was going to America with friends originally, but life happens, so I’m now on a plane to London with no idea what to do and where to go.

And for the first time, I felt fear. It hit me two days ago, I think. I suddenly felt so little in this huge world, when I was thinking of this trip. I realized there’s so much more out there. Also maybe, seeing my sisters after 20 years and my niece and some of my nephews for the first time is freaking me out. I just really don’t know what to expect on the other side. Oh how I wish I could be 8 or 9, flying with nothing but excitement. But no. I’m the me I’m supposed to be. And I don’t know what to expect. So I decided to not expect anything. The last time I went there was more than twenty years ago. And I have mental images of what my family looks like. I feel like I’m not ready to see them older than I remember, and to feel guilt (that I know I will feel) of not seeing them get to this age because I never visited. I’m scared they won’t like who I grew up to be. We come from a small town outside London, and my job is not something normal and I don’t know if they like that or not. And I don’t know who they are anymore. It’s easy to always be happy on email when you’re only obligated to say hello on important days but my sisters have families of their own now and have been focused on that for a long time now. So yes, for the first time, I’m scared to be on a plane. Not because of the turbulence (I actually really love the feeling of my stomach dropping) or not because I don’t know what to do. But I’m scared to see a part of my life that I could have worked on but never did. Scared to see what the last 10 years would have been like if I flew over and studied near my sisters houses like my dad told me to do instead of working. I’m scared to feel bad that I made the wrong choice and fall in love with our little town and the groceries and little shops.

Ok. I stopped typing because I laughed at myself for being so emotional these last few days (see last blog post) maybe all of this is just from the exhaustion of working nearly everyday since January. Yup, I’ll take it as that. This fear has nothing to do with the destination but the process that built up to it. Time to stop wallowing and actually look forward to this.

Maybe…it’s also time to pick a language on screen and watch a movie.