Sunday’s best

My best friend was just proposed to!!! And I kid you not, I felt like a momma bird watching one of her chicks jump off the nest. (I heard in an episode of Marie Kondo’s Netflix series though that chicks don’t actually do that because when they jump off they, more often than not, will die) but I’m basing this from all the cartoons I watched growing up. And this is very odd because even if I’m older than Dani, she’s always seemed like my ate. Always standing up for me and pushing me to be more assertive. But in my eyes today, she was as young as when I first met her. 19 years old, young and hopeful.

If all goes well, (which it will) I will take credit for this union because they met when I dragged dani to La Union in May 2017 haha! If (knock on wood) it doesn’t, I need to tell you all now that I was tipsy and didn’t know they were talking near the bar of the resort we were in. And though we vowed to stay single for at least a year (I’m going on three years now) Dani, found “the One” that day, only after being single for 8 or 9 months, I couldn’t be happier for her.

Last year, her boyfriend told me he was gonna propose. We had just come out of Bowery in the Fort and I didn’t know what to say. I might have looked like I had a stroke because he quickly said “but it’s not till late next year.”

(Hello, February!)

Jump to three weeks ago, I was added to a group chat on Viber called “secret group chat” and I saw all of Dani’s closest friends and dearest family members added one by one. And I knew it was happening.

Two and a half weeks ago, Dani texted me (RANTED) saying “he’s never proposing.” And I wanted to punch her face. Because we were all preparing for her already and she had just had to wait a little more.

Today, I was assigned to pick her up, more accurately, I blindly volunteered myself as tribute. We connived with our great friends from Cornerstone and Spring Films to “interview” Dani for the 10th anniversary of Spring. You guys should have seen Dani answer all the questions so seriously today! But, before getting there, I woke up to a text from Dani saying that she had a migraine. Again with the punching of her face. Because really, how can you not shake her and say “GET READY HE’S PROPOSIIIING!!!” I calmly told her they were doing a best friend angle on the interview and I needed her there so she could not skip it at all. And Dani is the most strong willed person in the world. No will always mean no. So I tried to contact her as little as possible the whole day and just show up in front of her house with three people at the back of my car carrying cameras…who were introduced to her as my new vlogging team (in my defense, they really are, and I will be working with them from now on) so Dani happily and unknowingly chatted away in my car with a lapel and three cameras taking everything in.

The rest you will be able to watch. I will wait for it too, because everything became a blur. The next thing I do remember is tearing up when the door opened and her mom and sisters walked in.

The weight on my shoulders from keeping a secret from my best friend for three weeks finally left me and I was able to step back and watch her at her happiest. And although I don’t know what she feels at the moment (right now I honestly believe I never will) I felt something today that I haven’t felt in a while. So beautiful and fragile that I begged off from the dinner to celebrate their engagement. Scared that the happiness will leave me. So I spent an hour stuck in EDSA driving myself and my vlog crew home to think about what happened today. The best I can say…is that I saw magic today. With no illusions and tricks. Just magic in her eyes, in his smile and thankfully shared to all of us there today in our hearts. Congratulations, Dani and Xavi! Always and forever! ❤️


finding my corner in a round planet.

this is my new goal. to find MY corner. my sanctuary. my home.

ill give you an idea of what my home is like at the moment. I’ve been living in this house for three years now. all its walls, i had painted: matte white. the walls in my room, i ended up painting myself when i started noticing the men, who were supposed to paint my house, were slowing down to maximise the “per hour” arrangement we had. (i should have paid in full for the whole job, tbh) this house is where one of my aunts and her family “grew.” i spent many days of my childhood here. sneaking in the kitchen with one of my cousins to secretly eat Mrs. Fields chocolate chip cookies and Push Pops before dinner. helping her finish her homework so we could go down and pretend we were mermaids in the pool. and always run to their fridge for cold oolong tea. and i loved it. i loved the halls, the pillars and the five bedrooms way before i knew i was going to eventually live here. and so, when my dad finally spoke to my mom to allow me to live independently three years ago, i ended up here. alone. the five huge rooms all have a new function, and i somehow turned into a home like my aunt did, years ago. the white walls now have black picture frames hung on them, keeping safe for me, memories that i hold dear to my heart. in the day, i fill the place up with music that comes from a record player i scored right after moving in. and in many corners, you will find books (and trinkets) i have accumulated over the years.

and yet, my soul is still yearning for something more. a home where i could cook, don’t get me wrong, the kitchen here is beautiful…and my assistant uses it everyday. but it is foreign to me. maybe its the profession i have while living in this house. and the weight i have to maintain while here, is stopping me from eating what i really want to. the fridge i have here is filled to the brim with gluten free, dairy free and happiness free food. when i do find my real home, ill probably have a different profession already, or maybe, be retired. and my fridge there might finally contain carbs. that thought is quite encouraging.

also, id love to have more people in my real home. hopefully related to me. id like to have more discussions in my home and not just have them here, on my laptop, or only hear voices from conversations of actors in my kdramas and netflix series that i watch when i don’t have work. (i do invite friends over sometimes but i often wonder what it would be like to wake up and have people around.) i also wish my cat Sputnik would still be around when i finally find my home. the last ten years with him have been amazing. to be comforted by a cat when you’re going through the lowest of lows is something else. (i hope i do not come across as a crazy cat lady here.)

in short, i want to really live somewhere. and live. i want to be part of a community and be annoyed when someone rings my doorbell too early to bring me food that i will devour. and then return the pyrex containers (washed) the next day. i want to know the climate of where i live. to know when the flowers will bloom and if i end up living far, be able to predict when lakes and ponds will freeze and its ice, eventually… finally… crack. i want to grow old somewhere…where kids will have stories to tell of me. where they know that i bake well (this is something we will find out in time) and drive around aimlessly on Sundays (like i love to do now). i want to run into people and know their children’s names. i want to run so many mindless errands during the day and complain about needing to cook for everyone at night, i want to dance in the living room, using the same record player i have now and look up at the walls (which will most likely, also be matte white) and see the black frames i have now, multiplied by ten.

for now, ill live here. and dream of that house. and as far as this dream seems, and as impossible as it sounds…i really believe i will find my corner on our beautiful, round, planet.

go, fly a kite!

tonight, I finally saw “Mary Poppins Returns” after months of seeing the trailer for the first time and after days of it being released here in Manila. you see, I’ve watched the first version more than i should have between 1994 to the early 2000’s. my mom had a thing for collecting VHS tapes. we had the classics…Somewhere In Time, Steve Mcqueen films, Hanna-Barbera cartoons….but Disney…oh Disney movies were our favourites!

Sound Of Music, the Little Rascals and Mary Poppins were treated like treasure in our homes. (yes, we moved quite a lot, and where we went, the VHS tapes followed) and see, i didn’t grow up with my dad but the times i did see him, which was about once a year, he would always talk about loving Aladdin and Mary Poppins…(i realise now that these are the only topics you can have with your eight year old daughter about two decades ago, when iPads didn’t exist to take care of them.) but him telling me that and seeing my mom carefully pack these tapes and us rewinding them BEFORE they go back in the box made me revere them.

in my head, these stories of Arabian nights and bottomless bags and flying kites connected our broken family. i had finally found something both my parents (who i see as the smartest people on earth) could agree on. so when i learned of the remake, a small part of me feared that it wouldn’t feel the same.

and it didn’t. the movie somehow felt completely different but extremely familiar. first off, Emily Blunt is the only person who could’ve filled Julie Andrews’ shoes. and i closed my eyes the first time Lin-Manuel Miranda appeared on screen, because really… who else can equal Dick Van Dyke’s charm? but i slowly peeled them open and found myself swaying when he sang about the beautiful London sky!

there were so many moments throughout the movie when i just begged the universe for them to start singing the songs from the original film, but they filled my heart with new melodies (that i immediately looked for on Spotify) that gave the same lessons as the first ones! the adult me loved Meryl Streep’s scene and her gab and quick mention of Tolstoy. the costumes were divine. i loooved seeing the admiral again! and was happy that they stuck to the “feel” of the first movie by not going all out with our new technology. i mean, the fact that the animated parts looked like old school cartoons is something i hope the kids of today would appreciate when they go and watch…also, the parallels of the film also made me smile a lot. from “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” to “tripalittlelightfantastic”, from chimney sweepers who clean what we disregard deep in the night for us to “breathe freely” to leeries who literally and figuratively “light your way home.” and there is a beautiful lesson here of getting help from people you didn’t expect at all… which the first movie tried to teach too. i mean, set in an era of depression and/or “fog” as shown in the film, to be able to find colour (in the animated parts) and sing in rhymes to forget your problems for a few minutes would be such a joy. the choreography in “the dark” is so nostalgic, you won’t notice your tears. (again, good job, people behind both films!)

i think anybody who grew in a home where something was missing or had a space and gap to be filled, hoped to see the shadow of Mary Poppins descending towards their doorstep. i admit though, that in between me seeing the first version for the last time, and tonight…i watched “Saving Mr.Banks” on the plane a few years ago…in that film, they explained how the author of Mary Poppins was reluctant to share the real story of Mary to the world and was very upset with how their family was depicted in the Disney film. but if my words would mean anything at all to her, i’d like to thank her for sharing her nanny with the younger, and now, current me. for allowing me to believe that against all odds, children really can save the day and that a spoonful of sugar CAN let the medicine go down in the most delightful way. for a minute, her true and painful story made me doubt big parts of my childhood because i thought if Mr. Disney altered the Banks’ family’s story how much did he lie about Dumbo and his flying ears??? (this is a joke, i know elephants can’t fly) no but seriously, watching Saving Mr. Banks made me doubt a lot of what id believed growing up…but I’m very happy i gave Mary Poppins another chance to save not just Mr. Banks but me too.

i cried like a fool when she was about to leave again and they played a little bit of “lets go fly a kite.” i clapped alone when Dick Van Dyke showed up and tap danced on a table. and i saw the reference of the men at the fair wearing pink and black striped blazers to the first film. I’m really happy i went and saw back to back trailers of Dumbo, Aladdin and Lion King’s live action movies to be released this year. because now i will actually give them a chance to make me feel good again, years after!

if i had shied away from watching tonight, i would’ve missed the reminders that the film gave for the second time to me, two decades after i first learned them…and those reminders are:

love your life and the world you can and can’t see, like a child would.

anything is possible, even the impossible.

and ultimately, always…always believe in magic. because when all else fails…we can really just go and fly a kite 🙂

tell me who your friends are.

its 1:04 am. i wrote 4 days ago but only posted about it now. some might say the delay is a fear…a fear deep down inside me of you seeing how i really think and for you to realise that my thoughts are as scattered as my first blogpost. others might think I’m lazy for not capitalising the first letter of my sentences… but really who has time to hold shift when there are so many thoughts on my fingertips??? and then there will be a few grammar nazis correcting “realise” up there and will tweet me tomorrow saying “ate Bela it’s supposed to be “realize” not REALISING/REALIZING that my laptop is set on the british-english mode of spelling and not american-english so…Ha! we’re both right, you just felt the need to call me out on social media (yes. it hasn’t happened yet but I am anticipating it, sue me.) and i will admit to all of the options i mentioned above. i didn’t post my first “blog entry” because of what i thought you would think. and I’m sorry. this is me, not assuming that there will be an influx of people reading this but actually genuinely apologising for being an overthinkween coward. (see what i did there?) so anyway lets move on to “tell me who your friends are” because the week that just passed taught me so many important things that i wanna share with you. and i learned them from three very special friends: Ayrin, Aynur and Justin. let’s start with AYRIN.

Ayrin or Irene Emma Villamor was my director in the movies: Camp Sawi and Meet Me In St. Gallen. and will direct me very soon in a movie called “on Vodka, Beers and Regrets.” she’s also a very good friend of mine and i consider her to be one of my mentors in the industry we work in. and i saw her last night for dinner and she told me about a workshop she held for the staff of her new TV show. and this is quite rare. first time I’ve ever heard of it. when i hear “workshops” in showbiz, i think of acting/singing/dancing workshops for talents being groomed for “stardom.” but she created a workshop for the staff of her show before holding a workshop for her actors so that when they start taping they will all work as one atom. lovely. didn’t i reiterate enough that she’s awesome? if i didn’t, lets all have a moment to appreciate my amazing friend Irene who likes her name to be spelled “Ayrin.” and the workshop for her staff was for her to see the problems that happen daily on set but will never reach the people who should know and fix them because the staff quietly resolve them or “brush them under the rug” and pray that no one ever finds the proverbial rug. one example she gave me was the crowd control on set. to those who don’t know…there are a few people on set called “crowd control.” when we film heavy scenes and we have to stop in the middle of a breakdown because a tricycle zoomed by, trust that everybody will angrily shout “CROWD CONTROOOL!!!” because their job is to control the “crowd.” and “crowd” on a local film set pertains to: dogs, cats, vehicles, crying babies. karaoke sets. fiestas and actual crowds that might make noise during our scenes. and direk Ayrin told me that she explained to them that we don’t just scream “crowd control” because its noisy and is a hassle but because it will be hard for the technical teams to perfect the shot that they rehearsed again and might suffer and shoot a “defocused” scene and more importantly, it is extremely hard to motivate actors and let them believe they are “in the scene” when a tricycle decides to zoom by. and i appreciated her more because of this. because she is the FIRST PERSON i know who took the time to explain to people why their jobs are important to the creation of a TV Show or film. my take away: consideration and genuine care. in everything we do. next friend: JUSTIN.

Justin flew in from Hawaii two days ago. he’s from Switzerland and is my friend’s boyfriend’s brother. and she told me a month ago that he would swing by Manila for a day before exploring cebu, Siargao and Palawan for a month and they would all appreciate if i can sort of look after him. Justin, who comes from the french part of switzerland and therefore pronounces his name: Jhuz-tahn is about 23 or 24 years old, single and heading to Cebu next (girls keep an eye out for this one) and is wise beyond his years. he mingled with everybody in Poblacion street, effortlessly. he didn’t mind joining a group of super noisy girls (me and my friends including Aynur and Ayrin) for dinner and drinks, he patiently waited for people around him to switch from tagalog to english so he can join conversations. and brought cups of water to people outside toilets who were throwing up (these are stangers btw). Seriously, who does that?! but what i will keep forever from this new friend is a line he said when he was describing the oddities of the extremely rich kids he crossed paths with in the 23 or 24 years he’s been on our planet. (we were talking about the super rich swiss kids who buy bottles of alcohol for 10,000 swiss francs for fun but can’t hold a conversation for more than five minutes.) about this he said “they have nothing but money.” and thats when a tear fell. jk. no but seriously…the line was simple, almost a cliche but couldn’t be more true. my take away from Justin: 6 minute conversations and paper cups of water for strangers will make people wish you the best in life. and now AYNUR.

Aynur was our location manager in St. Gallen. she is brilliant at her job. she’s also a beautiful Turkish woman who grew up in Switzerland and is based in Zurich (sorry boys, she’s taken) and i got to know her last december while filming and also after filming when i extended my stay and kept in touch until our reunion in May when i visited her, and is now sleeping in my guest room, as I type…because she came to Asia to visit me and Ayrin. and the last five days with her around have been so much fun, i just wish i was able to take her around more. but i think she enjoyed our drive to Tagaytay today. and Aynur, is one of the kindest people you will ever meet. on earth. kind but no bullshit. this woman is the older sister I’m not related to by blood. you get it, i adore her as much as Ayrin. and before i started typing this, we had one last conversation at my dining table and she was telling me a funny story about this German actor she recently worked with, on a new movie, who was a total diva on set and gave everybody a hard time. and everybody on set hated his guts. somewhere along the story she said “we (the staff) take care of people we like.” and thats true, why would anybody want to do you a favour if you’re a pain in the ass?! its just not logical. it also isn’t a good example or precedent to people around you. my take away: BE GENUINELY KIND. even when you think your actions go unnoticed, even if no one will post about it, even when no one is watching… and even if you don’t feel its reward right now. and ultimately, do it for yourself. the stress of always manipulating people and thinking you’re better than everyone else must be soooo, so toxic. this is not just a life tip but also a beauty tip. so after reading this i hope you release whatever grudge is in there.

and so there. three lessons in life that aren’t necessarily new but will forever be useful…brought to me and now you, by three friends i have. one that is always close by, one that is new and one who is across the globe. bottom line really is kindness. let’s take it from three people who are loving life at the moment. may you start this week happily….and not judging the lack of my commas (and other important punctuation marks) in this blog post. May you be happy when you think of how your friends influence your life…because, when people say “tell me who your friends are and i’ll tell you who you are” to me…i will be happy with who i am. 🙂 good night!


its 1:44 am. and I’ve been loving the year so far. but its only been ten days so maybe i shouldn’t speak too soon? and as much as i have been loving the first ten precious days, i also feel like there’s something i need to do right away. maybe… because since i was about eight years old, i was told that the years ending with odd numbers seem more favourable to me than the even numbered ones. and so, unconsciously…I patterned my life after that thinking. (really strange for a person who grew up in a religious household to be told this extremely superstitious detail by the same person who taught her how to use the bible as a reference for anything in life, if i might say so myself) for example: 2018 was mellow for me (i gauge how favourable my year was through the amount of work i completed). in fact, i was able to go out of the country nine times, and i really enjoyed myself in those nine trips. in comparison, 2017 was the complete opposite. i worked everyday of that year. even on the holidays when the whole country was resting. so now. 2019. a conundrum. how do i start a year that already has expectations from me to maximise it (only because it ends with a 9) when i am completely clueless of what i should do? i mean, as much as people might think i do…i actually don’t plan my life. most things i do are just a beautifully drawn picture of colours falling perfectly into place. (which totally negates my concept of the odd and even years-you will find out later on in my other musings that will be posted here that my brain really is just a series of never ending contradictions) so how do I marry all of this together? how do i use the religious background in helping me calm down in a year that ends with an odd number, and therefore promises to be busy, while not planning anything at all? like i said: conundrum. and if you will keep reading after this…i guess we’ll find out together?