Tuesday, December 30, 2014

YEAR 2014: TO ACCEPT AND LOVE!


It seems it was only yesterday when I blogged about looking back at 2013 and welcoming 2014. Now, I am looking back at 2014 and I am all set for 2015. I really couldn't slow down time. It's a race. It's uncontrollable. With one blink of the eye, everything changes. And the next day, as I open my eyes, it will be  another day to face or perhaps a year to conquer.

My 2014 is special. It is like one big plate of mixed dishes. There's a savory cuisine. There's a blunt one. There's a bit spicy that makes me cry. There's a sweet portion. And there's some dish that left me with a  bitter aftertaste. Despite the differences of the dishes on my plate, I finished and enjoyed the food. After all, the gastronomic delights gave me the energy to move on and face my everyday life.



This year started with so much excitement. An appetizer was served to my plate. In terms of research, participation of research respondents paved the way for the progress of my PhD. I interviewed people from different suburb in Victoria, Melbourne. On a personal level, Guy (*giggles*) came into my life. I met him on one hot summer day in Melbourne. Because we clicked, it was eventually followed by more catch ups over dinners and movie. Turned out, I fell in love with Guy. I fell in love with him because he's not only kind to me and a smart (cute!) man, but he's caring. One time, it was already late when I finished an interview of a research respondent and I was stuck somewhere in a far away suburb in Victoria. Surprisingly, Guy offered me a ride to get home despite the fact that he had an early meeting the next day.

As month of hearts ushered, I was spoilt for a sweet surprise. Guy and I went out on a simple Valentine's date. Yes, it was my first Valentine's date in my 31 years (before I turned 32) of existence or 31 years of single blessedness. During our date, I cooked a Filipino dish. Heard of Adobo? Yes, I cooked that for him. Apart from sharing stories about our personal lives, I also introduced Guy to Philippine culture by letting him taste a popular Filipino dish, the one I cooked for our first date, the Adobo. Given an inspiring time with Guy, I was motivated more to succeed in my PhD. Guy is a Lecturer on IT and he has a PhD. Apart from the fact that he knows what I'm going through or what I will go through, I look up to him. I really have high regard to academics! Actually, Guy has been very supportive of me in terms of my research.

March came and I was getting ready for my field work in Manila. For the first time, I had mixed feelings. It's as if I'm eating a dish which I couldn't figure out the taste. I couldn't identify its real flavor. Eventually, I realized that there was sadness and happiness in my heart. I was happy because I am going back to the Philippines to do my fieldwork and be reunited with my family and friends. But I was somehow sad because I will leave Guy in Melbourne. We've been together since January and the flame is just so burning. So the idea of separation was painful. But, just like how a spicy food kicked in and enliven a sleepy spirit, my emotions bounced back. I told myself that I need to fulfill my obligation as a PhD scholar and I should focus on my studies. I also told myself that it's a time to meet my family and friends for something bigger. Deep inside me, I was ready to confess. I'm tired of hiding. After all, everyone perhaps know. It's the elephant in the room that must be confronted.

Loki and I!
April came quick. I completed interviews with my research respondents in Melbourne and I also completed interviews overseas. I also moved in to a new place. Big thanks to my housemate and friend Loki for all the HUGE help and financial assistance. Without her, I might just end up stuck in my old place. Loki has only been my friend, but she has given me a place called home in our cute and very creative apartment!

By the end of April, I found myself in the airport of Melbourne. The feeling of sadness grew. It's like I don't want to move away from a cuisine that I've loved. But the decision was made. I left Guy and I went back to the Philippines. We promised each other that we will keep in perpetual contact via Skype and Whatsapp. As I'm doing research on transnational communication, somehow, deep inside me, technologies will compensate for my absence in Melbourne. I couldn't forget the day I left Melbourne and bid farewell to Guy. For the first time in my life, I felt that I left the other half of my heart in Melbourne. It was such a strong and unforgettable feeling.

In Brunei!
I had a few days of stop over in Brunei and met my friends. They're not only my friends, but my family.  I kept my promise to Guy. In fact, the first thing I checked back in Brunei is the Wi-Fi. There was this desire to keep in contact and to inform Guy that I landed safely in Brunei. After a few days in Brunei and talking to my friends with my lovelife as the hot topic (my PhD journey has become a taken-for-granted topic! lol), I flew to Manila. Deep within me, I know, I have to let it go! (sing!). Seriously, apart from the main purpose of conducting fieldwork in Manila, I conditioned my mind that I have to come out to my family. There's no turning back. Just like how you inquire the secret ingredient in a delicious food, I am ready to reveal my secret, the real me, that has always been the driving force in my achievements and unique personality.

The month of May was one of the warmest months in the Philippines.I had to endure the SAUNA kind of weather. I had to drink lots of water to keep myself hydrated. At some point in doing fieldwork, I faced different challenges. There was lots of thinking. I moved from one city to another. I checked on statistics. I even brought home with me a pile of journals to read and synthesize. I stayed most of the time in Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Fairview Terraces. Apart from being busy with research, I somehow managed to have time with my family and friends. As I had limited time in the Philippines, I scheduled everything. Meanwhile, I had some health issues as well such as headaches, tummy pains, and all sorts of possibly psychosomatic whatever. Despite the hot weather during the month of May and I was deprived of beaches and resorts, a cold breeze struck me. There, one day, I came out. And just like that, I confessed that I have a special someone from Australia and I am gay. I was on the hot seat. Just like a newly-bought ice cream from a convenience store on one summer day in the Philippines, my heart melted.

My communication with Guy was constant. Everyday, we exchanged messages. Every night, we Skyped. We managed our relationship. We surpassed distance. Yes, my first ever experience of long distance relationship. But take note, we're not yet partners then. We're exclusively dating. Although we're exclusively dating, we've already agreed that it's already a relationship. We're not fans of labels. So as the month of June, my birthday month, walked in, I was 90 percent finished in my data gathering. And with two weeks left in Manila, I finally completed my data gathering. All interviews were done. Transcriptions were made. Photos were collated and stored properly, So, I was blessed that I'd finally had the time to spend my last two weeks in the Philippines with family and friends.

Guy and I in Manila!
Prior to the last two weeks, I was chewing unfamiliar dishes in my home country. Despite the familiarity of eating with my family, thoughts were running in my mind. Have they accepted me? But I shrugged it off. Rather than dwelling  on the idea of my real identity, I focused my attention on succeeding in my goals, keeping my faith to God, and loving everyone whatever they think of me. It was in June when Guy shook my world. SURPRISINGLY, he went to the Philippines two days before my birthday. I was so happy! Yes, so, so, so happy! But at the back of my mind, I thought about Guy's security. Then again, I knew how to handle it. In the end, I enjoyed every moment with him. He met my family. He met my friends. He was in my home country, the Philippines. And just like that, the feeling is like eating my comfort food. I wouldn't want it to end. Soon, Guy flew back to Melbourne and I was left for a week in Manila. Yes, there was separation. There was pain. I told myself, there's a mission to accomplish in my beloved Philippines.

Send off from my family!
The last week of my stay in the Philippines was packed with meet-ups with friends. I met a few friends. There were some who came and some didn't make it because of conflict in schedule. And as days passed by, there was this heavy feeling in my heart. I was hoping, like a kid, to make a wish come true. I knew deep within me that it takes time especially with big moments such as acceptance. Eventually, I left Manila. I left my home country. I left it with so much accomplishment for my research. But on a more personal level, I was afloat, mixed feelings. But then again, at least, I have nothing to hide. On top of this, yes, I am already in a relationship with Guy.

It was winter when I arrived in Melbourne and I was welcomed with warm hugs from Guy. He picked me up in the airport as early as 6 in the morning. I felt so loved. It was one of those days that the sun shined so bright. And as he drove me home, love made me so happy that all I see were imagined green leaves and dancing flowers (giggles). July moved quick and I presented my research in Australia. I was so inspired. I was so happy. Not only that Guy motivates me but even his supportive and loving in family in Melbourne makes me feel at home in Melbourne.

"True love does not consist of exposing your weakness to others, but instead of being unafraid to show when you need help and rejoicing in finding that things are better than what others said." - Paolo Coehlo

Guy and I at the Tulip Farm!

At the colour run!

Visited the Les Miserables Exhibition (Watched the stage show too!)

I knew that it will take time for my some people to accept who am I. And this I'd always prayed to God. Every time I will go to church and attend mass, I always go to the chapel and offer a prayer. I know to myself that I didn't do anything bad, that I love my family, and I did not hurt anyone. There were times that tears will just fall. I couldn't help it. I was in pain. Yet, I never turned my back to God. God has blessed with me so many things in life and I owe him big time. So as the days passed by, things changed for the better.

I progressed well in my research and Guy supported me. It was in September when I presented another paper in my research and before this year ends I published one article. Things get better and better. And my faith in God has grown stronger. I know that he's always there to guide and love me.

At the conference in Australia!

This year has been full of tears and pains. Perhaps I am best in keeping all the pain to myself. I don't expose these in social media. This year, my friends Amor passed away. He died in a motorcycle accident. I was to meet him with my friend Elmi last May. It was also this year that Ate Karen, the sister of my bestfriend Lisa, passed away too. She had Cancer. And also this year, I have a friend who has been battling with breast cancer. These things make me realize how life is so fragile. And so I always pray to God to bless me, my family and my friends with good health. Meanwhile, this year our family is blessed with two angels. Baby Sylex and Baby Rocky are born.


Christening of Baby Sylex!
Baby Rocky's Christening!

There was bitter aftertaste with my experiences this year. I realized that we can't please anyone. There are some who judge you because of what they see in Facebook. They even talk behind your back, pinpointing that it's as if to love someone is a big mistake while their lives are so perfect with their "scholarly" and "intellectual" journey. And there was denial from others. But then again, time heals everything.

With one phone call, everything changed. Finally, there was acceptance. Tears just flowed. A smile blossomed. A heart was healed. I rose. I was embraced with love and care. The voice, the statement, a silent one, reverberated like a loud noise that signals a new beginning. I thank God for everything.

God has always been by my side. This year has been packed with anxieties and pains. He was there for me. He was there despite my financial struggles and medical issues (hello, stress!). And my family has been with me especially my father. My father has been very supportive with my needs. I am also so thankful to Guy and his family. Despite being away from home,I've found a family and home with Guy and his family. I feel so blessed to have them. And to my friends in Melbourne, thank you very much for the friendship! I am also thankful to have great supervisors who have been guiding me in my PhD journey.

Friends in Melbourne!
Soon, 2015 will walk in and I am looking forward to it. I will finish my PhD *cross fingers & toes*. I am also looking forward to get a job (teaching or any media related job) *cross fingers again!*. And I am ready to face all the challenges. I know that it will be a challenging year with research but I am keeping the faith to succeed. With the support of my family, friends and Guy, I will achieve my goals. Aja! For 2015, I wish good health for everyone. I also wish that I finish my PhD, get a job, a stronger relationship with Guy, and creative projects (Hello, Baking, Creative Writing, etc.)!


Thank you, God! Thank you to all my family and friends! Happy New Year! Mabuhay!


If there's anything that I've learned this year, that is about loving others. And so I am leaving you with a passage from Paolo Coehlo's Book,

To love abundantly is to live abundantly.
To love forever is to live forever. Eternal life is coupled with love.
Why do we want to live forever? Because  we want to live another day with this person by our side. Because we want to keep going with someone who deserves our love, and who knows how to love as we think we deserved to be loved.
Because living is loving.

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