Confessions of a Former Mean Girl

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I have a confession to make: I used to be a mean girl. Quoting Katy Perry’s latest tweet, I was the epitome of “Regina George in a sheep’s clothing.” In my young mind, I wasn’t the mean one, but rather the victim. A victim of bullying at an early age (although not as bad as some of the cases I hear of today), I transformed myself into someone who could no longer be bullied – tough and with a quick mouth to show for. So what I was doing then was in defense of the years I’ve experienced on the other end of the stick.


To be clear, I have never done things that were outwardly mean such as physical altercations or even name-calling. I was a good student with good grades and often hid behind the premise of being the “good one”. Just like Regina George, I was more stealthily, often gossiping about people, pointing out their mistakes, and making sure that people knew I was the good by highlighting the faults of others. I am not proud of myself, however, at that time, I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong. It was a long process of introspection, painful truths from people who truly cared about me, and facing my own faults that led me to realize the mistakes of my past. It wasn’t an easy journey, but it is one that I am proud of.
It was through that journey that I have realized that the words we speak of others are often a reflection of what we feel about ourselves. Also, speaking ill of others did not put the other person in a bad light, but spoke greatly about my character.
Fast-forward to nearly ten years later and I have come to realize that even at 26, bullies exist. Just like the bullies of our younger years, adult bullies are still the same high school bullies they once were and still on the prowl to leech on energy from those they perceive are above them. Bullies to this day still try to yield their power around, in whatever form, shape, or size. Due to social media, bullies have a new way to “flaunt” their powers and surprisingly so, people are still magnetized to their sweet yet deceptive ways.
My new mindset refuses to let in any of this toxic drama to be let in in my life. I try, as much as possible, to surround myself with people who are kind, positive, and most importantly, real. There is no longer room in my life for people who gain power by tearing down another. And while it is a noble cause, dealings with bullies are still widely inevitable. When I was younger, I used to think that bullies got the best of me when they treated me badly but at 26 and by the wonderful grace of God, I have come to realize that their bad behavior only reflects upon themselves and how unhappy they truly are in life.
Morrie Schwartz once said that, “people are only mean when they are threatened.” Bullies, who snap at people for no reason, and point out others mistakes, have deeper issues that I truly pray they resolve in time. No normal, happy human being wakes up in the morning with a mission to destroy. No matter how one tries to hide it, inner demons come to play. I know this because I went through it.
It takes a lot of prayer, a lot of wise and truthful feedback from people who love you, and humility to accept our faults to truly overcome being a bully. In fact, we never truly get it right 100% of the time, but we have to always go after peace: peace in ourselves, peace in others, and peace in the life that we have been given.
My greatest realization was that my former mean girl ways were fueled by the fear that everyone else were getting more than I was in life and I didn’t like it. Moving away from this mentality and realizing that everyone deserves a good life and no one is getting “better” out of life than anyone allowed me to finally be kinder and actually be happy with another’s success.
The world and all of its 6 billion people are not out to get me, in fact, just like me they are making the most of what this world has to offer and the least I can do is to mince my words and offer a smile instead.

Monica Lewinsky and The Price of Shame: What We Can Learn from America’s Favorite Antagonist

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“We talk a lot about our right to freedom of expression, but we need to talk more about our responsibility to freedom of expression. We all want to be heard, but let’s acknowledge the difference between speaking up with intention and speaking up for attention. The Internet is the superhighway for the id, but online, showing empathy to others benefits us all and helps create a safer and better world. We need to communicate online with compassion, consume news with compassion, and click with compassion. Just imagine walking a mile in someone else’s headline.” – Monica Lewinsky

Monica Lewinsky has been in over forty rap songs. For almost two decades, she has also been the target of punchlines, puns, and comedy sketches in more ways than one individual can count. A lifetime has passed since the scandal that rocked the United States and in some ways, it’s evident to see that Bill Clinton has been forgiven, Monica however continues to wear the invisible scarlet letter that labels her as just one thing and nothing more.
I first learned about Monica Lewinsky in the fourth grade. And while I don’t recall as to how I came across her, I do remember how violently she was attacked. In my young, impressionable mind however, she was given the treatment because she deserved it.

Fast-forward to 2014 and Monica comes out of her “self imposed” decade of silence by speaking up to Vanity Fair. No longer 10 years old, my curiosity as a 26 year old couldn’t help but click on the link to see how she could have possibly survived a scandal that can’t seem to escape her. She thought her silence would be enough to wash everything away but that wasn’t the case.
So she decided to speak to give herself a chance to change her narrative and while reading through her article, I couldn’t help but think how many mistakes have we made that caused people to think of us differently?

As I read through her recollection of what happened in the past 17 years and how it has affected every facet of her life, I couldn’t help but be thankful over the fact that my life’s biggest mistakes were not broadcasted on a larger scale. How difficult it would be to introduce one’s self when a perception has already been made and how difficult it is to jumpstart on a life that has already been defined by others.

In a world where everything happens in a click, it’s no surprise to note that many ordinary people deal with what Monica dealt with a good seventeen years ago. There used to be a time when our mistakes could be hidden in the shadows, however now, with the rise of social media and overly efficient gadgets, mistakes are brought to larger scale. And instead of just dealing with our physical community, we are faced to also answer to a larger, anonymous one: the Internet.
This new culture of humiliation as penned by Monica is what made her come out of hiding. Imbibed with passion, Monica is determined to promote a culture of sympathy and empathy within the internet community and while it may seem like an impossibility, it is not improbable.
Most of us are still grappling with our understanding of the Internet. No other generation has been given such freedom and with this freedom comes many perks, the ability to work from home, the wonderful opportunity to connect with loved ones, and even the prospect of meeting the love of our lives online. However, attached with these perks is the abuse of it. How many stories have we heard of cyberbullying in the past three months alone? How many lives have we lost because children, who are not yet equipped to handle the mental and emotional distress of being humiliated, have chosen the easy way out too soon?
Our gadgets give us the chance to be in control, however, how control are we truly? The truth is there is no control. The moment something is uploaded on the internet, it stays there forever. So while it’s equally important to take care of ourselves and what we post, we must also apply the same caution to those around us. If we know that what we’re uploading or sharing will cause harm, do we continue to upload it for the sake of a few more likes? Or do we stop and wonder, what if this was me? My mom? A loved one? Will I humiliate them in this way?
Empathy is so difficult to find on the internet, but it really isn’t difficult to adhere to. All you have to think of is this, “If this was me, how would I feel?”
It takes us back to kindergarten, our earliest values, and yet sometimes, these are the values that we easily forget. It’s time to wake up and once and for all believe that bullying, especially cyberbullying, will finally come to an end.

The Social Media Shift

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How many times has this happened to us?

We walk into a restaurant, meet someone for the first time, exchange pleasantries, and at the back of our minds think, “I’ve stalked you several times on Instagram but let’s just pretend I haven’t shall we?” We therefore proceed to pretend that we haven’t stalked their glorious selfies for days while they share about what they do, the things they’re passionate about, and what they like to do, all of which you are already aware of because the person (surprise surprise) also has Twitter.
For people who aren’t on social media, the whole she bang might seem a bit odd but this is the reality that we live in today. We are the social media generation and what Friendster innocently started almost ten years ago has ballooned into the greatest phenomenon our social lives have seen in quite some time. Today, people who aren’t on social media are considered to be shady (Ay, walang Instagram si Kuya, kahit Facebook, siguro he has ten side chicks) and believe me when I say that many relationships (both romantic and platonic) have thrived and died because of social media.

In its most simplistic terms, social media is intended to make lives easier. With one click, we are able to share our lives through our photos, personal thoughts, and even our likes. Social media has opened up possibilities that were previously not possible before and for that, I am grateful.

For people who aren’t on social media, the whole she bang might seem a bit odd but this is the reality that we live in today. We are the social media generation and what Friendster innocently started almost ten years ago has ballooned into the greatest phenomenon our social lives have seen in quite some time. Today, people who aren’t on social media are considered to be shady (Ay, walang Instagram si Kuya, kahit Facebook, siguro he has ten side chicks) and believe me when I say that many relationships (both romantic and platonic) have thrived and died because of social media.
In its most simplistic terms, social media is intended to make lives easier. With one click, we are able to share our lives through our photos, personal thoughts, and even our likes. Social media has opened up possibilities that were previously not possible before and for that, I am grateful.
However, at the same time, it has also opened a Pandora’s Box of challenges. For one thing, it’s easier to be a predator these days and has become more difficult to be a teenager and a human being in general.
Many have argued that social media has encouraged people to live double lives, meaning that they try to make their lives appear perfect through the many filters and angles. Social media has also become an avenue of seeing which one of us have been living better lives. Aminin na natin, we sometimes use social media to prove to the people who used to be in our lives that we’re better off. And this is where the pressure begins.
Do we lead double lives because of it? Are we constantly on “image” mode because of the life we portray online?
I’d like to believe that social media has also shifted the way we date. If before we used to rely on phone calls and text messages to let us know that we’re liked, now our papansin has gone to entirely different levels. We should be following each other on Instagram with likes or comments or else you’re probably not serious with me. Come to think of it, medyo baliw lang diba? I’ve also heard stories about couples breaking up because of who one follows on social media (seryoso, what is your relationship built on?).
Have we really diminished ourselves and our self worth based on a few likes? Have we abused how we used social media? Do we do things out of the desire to have something to post?
Most importantly, are we being authentic? 

These are just a few things to ponder on and hopefully change the way we perceive things. Or better yet, is time to put down our phones and get to know someone in real time? That maybe we should let down the filters, the angles, and our guards, and just be our authentic selves because in truth that’s all the world needs anyway.

The Fascination with Cara Delevingne

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About a week ago, my social media timeline went abuzz when the trailer of John Green’s much anticipated Paper Towns hit the internet. And while the story of the movie is quite fascinating and will surely bring teens and non-teens alike to tears, what made it magical was the appearance of Cara Delevingne.
As a disclaimer, I have never been the kind of woman who adored models and not because I’m anti beautiful women, but simply because I never really connected with them in a way my other friends did. I just never seem to get it until I came across the ethereal Cara Delevingne.
Cara first hit international stardom when she was named model of the year at the British Fashion Awards that was soon followed by gigs for Chanel, Burberry, H&M, and Victoria’s Secret to name a few. Cara then landed on every single runway from New York to Paris but this was merely the tip of the iceberg for the 22 year old who also quickly became a social media sensation. As expected, Cara didn’t just take the fashion world by the storm but also engaged Hollywood through her many diverse talents that bring the term supermodel on an entirely different level.
As seen on her social media sites, Cara isn’t like any picture perfect supermodel. Very much unlike the supermodels before her, the former tomboy is quick-witted and isn’t afraid to have fun even at the expense of breaking rigorous rules imposed upon models. My fascination with Cara began early last year when she was linked with Michelle Rodriguez, for someone who has guiltily followed Entertainment Tonight and People Magazine all her life, seeing someone so successful be so upfront about her choices in life was well, both inspiring and encouraging. Also unlike models who hide their tattoos, Cara’s tastefully covered in them, another way she defies convention and sets out on her own.
Her raw honesty about who she is doesn’t stop projects from coming. In fact, more and more projects are coming her way because she is unabashedly who she is and for some reason, I can’t help but admire her for it.
And while some of her activities may be too wild for my taste, I can’t help but applaud her for being who she is. In a world where most people would hide their true identities to the point of being unrecognizable, Cara fearlessly shows the world that you can be different and still be successful. Cara taught me that you don’t have to be ashamed to be your own person because no matter what, someone out there will appreciate you for being that bold.
It’s refreshing to see a woman who stands up for what she believes in and authentically doesn’t care what other people think of her. For someone who’s been caged in her box for so long, it’s inspiring to know that I can make my choices, be firm about them, and still have the life I dream of having.
And most importantly, she unknowingly encouraged me to be the woman I desire to be regardless of what anyone around me says.

Questions, Answers, and Moments at Walkway

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It’s safe to say that Holy Week in the Philippines is an experience in itself. Touted as the biggest Christian nation in Southeast Asia, the Philippines treats Holy Week like no other. It’s a time where everything comes to screeching halt giving people more time to reflect and reassess their faith.
And while the country celebrates collectively, more and more people understand that faith is intimate, personal, and is not just subjected to rules and rituals. Having been raised in a Christian home and schooled in Catholic schools, I have had my own share of experiences with regards to the development of my personal faith. As a fan of churches, I have been to more than a few both big and small out of curiosity and there has never been one quite like Church Simplified.
I’ve heard of Church Simplified through friends from the South (where it really is a small world) and through posts on social media. For quite awhile now, Church Simplified has also been associated with Walkway, the interactive, modern Stations of the Cross housed in Bonifacio Global City every Holy Week.
I was given the chance to know more about Walkway and Church Simplified when one of my bosses, Divine Reyes, introduced me to lead pastor and founder, Bebo Bharwani.

For quite sometime now, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed listening to other people’s journey of faith and how they got to where they are simply because it helps reestablish and reinspire my own.
In fact, Church Simplified was born out of Bebo’s own personal journey of faith, “I actually grew up in church, but the short end of it is that I ended up being very cynical for a lot of reasons. One of them was that I didn’t always see the claims of life change to be real. And this mainly for my own life, but it seemed that the hype for the changed life was really what it was, mostly hype.”
He continues on to explain, “I think in the church world, there’s a temptation for us to celebrate a lot of external things, like when a person stops cussing or being able to kick of vices or jail house conversions. I found that when it came to things underneath, changes inside of me, was rather slow, so slow that sometimes you really doubted if change actually was taking place or if it was even possible. Issues like self-righteousness, pride, arrogance, greed, and lust, they plague all of us, whether you are a young believer or the old faithful.

Despite Bebo’s cynicism he couldn’t quite seem to shake Jesus off, “However cynical I got, no matter how Much I even came to points where I even disdained church, I just couldn’t bring my self to totally abandon the idea of who Jesus was.  There was something about him, you couldn’t write him off so easily. There’s something about the life he calls us to live, one hand it’s counter intuitive – to gain life you must lose it, on the other hand it feels like he makes so much sense, that it’s so crazy and so unexpected that it could be true. Plus also, I didn’t really see an alternative to him that made sense to me.”
He went on to say, “I kept crawling through my journey, and I feel like God has met me. Not in some “the earth shook or the sky opened way” but in a way where it’s made enough sense to get me to the point where I found a ledge from which I could take a leap of faith from.”
It was this need for an alternative that led to Church Simplified, “CS is predicated on the idea that everyone is on some kind of spiritual journey. This journey is made up and influenced by your context, your life experiences, your joys, your pains. In other words, and because they are so unique, there will be no other journey like yours.” He emphasizes that our relationship with Jesus is very personal and is authored by God, one that is based on a very deep and intimate relationship with him and the eventual outcome is that one would find life, a full and satisfying life.
But Bebo understands that one’s relationship with God is personal, God also designed us to lead you to people, “God rigs it in such a way where your personal unique journey with Him will eventually run into my journey, and when our journeys interface in such a way where we can begin to help each other move forward, and where we can begin to run, walk, and even crawl together, that is the essence of church.”
CS is about trying to identify form from essence, the mechanism from the heart of what it means to follow Jesus and what it means to be a community of seekers, “Everyone is welcomed in CS but I guess we tend to attract people who have the same baggage. Essentially it is a church for cynical people who aren’t brave enough to abandon faith. Seriously, it tends to be for people who can’t seem to shake people off.”

And there’s a need for a church like this in the city, “There’s a need for a place where seekers can come and poke around. There’s a place for people with little faith, whose faith is constantly hanging by a friend, that’s us, that’s Church Simplified.” In fact, its mission statement boldly says, “Helping each other take the next step (whatever that might look like for you in your life) in the journey of faith towards Jesus.”
I couldn’t help but ask what made CS different from other churches, Bebo was quick to stress that it takes all kinds of local churches to meet all kinds of people, “We see diversity as the outflow of the creativity of God and it’s just natural for people to seek communities and experiences that is compatible with their uniqueness, the uniqueness that God had authored. We’re beginning to acknowledge the reality that some people like or even need structure which gives so much value to liturgy. Some people like expressive acts of worship, mainly through music in the midst of a large congregation, some people, and this is becoming more true of me as I’ve gotten older, – we just need to get out into nature with close friends  and experience the beauty of God there. Some are extroverted and like to be surrounded by a lot of people, others have a large internal world and feel comfortable with just a few people. Like individuals who have distinct personalities, local churches as well, have dominant traits that will lend to specific people.  This liberating for all us, we can be who God has called us to be. There are a lot of great churches in the city both big and small who are really making a difference in the lives of their communities and each church is absolutely living out what they have been called to do.”
Bebo, along with Church Simplified, believes that Christianity is different for each person and this is exemplified through Walkway, an interactive stations of the cross in the heart of Bonifacio Global City that has been staged for six years now. Walkway has attracted people from all walks of life and different beliefs.
“We do hope that Walkway will be a catalyst for people to explore their faith further, maybe even inspire them to seek out a church, if they don’t already have one,” Bebo is also quick to say that while the Walkway aims for that important moment, “It’s an end to itself, we believe in the power of a moment, that sometimes a moment is all God needs to do His work in a person’s life. We’re just merely providing the space by which this connection can happen.”
Through feedback, they have heard of stories about those powerful moments at the Walkway, “It has revealed some powerful moments, powerful stories. People deciding to forgive others, themselves, and in some cases, even God. We just wanted to bless the community by creating the environment for their “aha moment” with God.”

The goal of Walkway is to be able to highlight one’s awareness of God and this is done through art, “The thing that is so powerful about art is that it has the potential to make us think, feel, and experience that which we know is already true about ourselves but can’t express. Art also has the ability to breathe new life into ideas we know are important but have forgotten why they’re important, like why it is relevant to daily life.”
Bebo uses the cross as an example, “It’s such a powerful symbol. It tells us so many things about what God is like. It tells us that God is committed, He doesn’t given up, He doesn’t take the easy road, that God fights for love, that He loves extravagantly. It also tells us about the broken condition of our hearts, the broken condition of the world, what we’ve made it to be – that it would take God to humble himself, to stoop down and experience the worse we had to offer – he did this so he could heal us. But because we’re so used to the image of the cross, because we see it everywhere, we have the tendency to become too familiar, the message of the cross flies over our heads. Art has a way of stopping us in our tracks and remind us why this matters.”

He then explains the convergence of art and belief at the Walkway, “That’s what Walkway is – it’s using art – in this case, installation art and music to help us get a fresh vision for what we’ve known and embraced to be true.”
This is what has attracted people from all kinds of faith at the Walkway every year, “But even if you didn’t believe in God or Jesus, it’s still such a great love story, at some level it will still ring true because deep inside everyone wants to be loved the way God claims to love us.  I think that’s why even non-christians are still attracted to Walkway.”
Of course, I couldn’t help but ask a pastor what he can say to those who have been cynical and skeptical about their faith and he was quick to say, “We feel you, in a lot of ways, we’re still cynics and skeptics ourselves, we’re just managing daily to take one more step in this journey of faith.”
He then debunks a myth about the church, The thing about church is, it’s made up of broken people. It’s the reality of whom Jesus came for. He didn’t come for righteous people – he came for those who were messed up. Although we agree, we could all do a better job at admitting we’re messed up. Sometimes we wonder why God would stake his reputation on us, we’re so prone to not representing him well.  But for whatever reason, God chooses to work through people.At the end of the day, we must resist the temptation to pin the responsibility of our own spiritual journey on what others have done or did not do. The responsibility to seek and pursue truth falls on all of us as individuals, it is our own responsibility to respond. This is your journey, we believe God is calling all of us to him. We have to make the choice to move toward him -and the catch is that, you’ll need people.”
And to end, I asked about what he thought Christianity was all about and he said, “Christianity is about one message. God is for us. God is for you!  He has always been pursuing us. Jesus is the proof of that pursuit. Everything that has happened to you, your context and life experience has been designed so that we would seek God and reach out for him and that we would find, that he had been seeking and reaching out for us all along.”

When Abuse isn’t Black and Blue

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Just like any other girl, she dreamt of meeting her prince when the time was right. So she waited and waited until the time finally came. She was 20 years old, a fresh graduate when she met him and from the get go, he seemed like everything she has prayed for when she was younger.


He wasn’t as handsome as she wanted him to be but his charm was more than enough to make up for it. He was also brilliant; graduating with top honors from a school abroad and came from a supposedly good family. Her family was excited, their baby girl who never dated looked like she hit the jackpot at her first try. He was sweet at the beginning and she constantly thanked God for the answered prayer until the story slowly unraveled.


It ended as soon as it began, with his eye traveling from one woman to another. She was going to have none of it but he had a way of coaxing her with words, but it was also these words that destroyed her. The girl, just like any other women, constantly worried that she wasn’t good looking enough. She grew up as the lesser sister and she always looked for ways to overachieve and be wanted. He maybe knew where to hit her so he began to destroy her.


It started out innocently, gentle reminders for her to lessen her food and go on a good exercise program. He said with her height, she’d look like a model if she just dropped a few. The reminders slowly ate her up, with her resorting to crash diets to be accepted by him. Once again, she felt like she was not good enough so she tried harder but he always made her feel she wasn’t hitting it.


She no longer liked how she was treated so she started entertaining other male suitors. That was when he reverted back to his sweet ways, trying to win her again but she wanted to stay away because of his inconsistency. He got back at her by telling everyone who asked that she was too fat for him and he was the one who rejected her. It even reached a point where he would call her “stupid” during meetings and compared her to women he defined as better than her.


The girl, who was 22 when the saga finally ended, walked away without realizing that she may have left him and the environment she was in but the words continued to ring in her ears.

For years, his words of her not being smart enough, beautiful enough or even skinny enough rang in her ears. And this caused her to build walls so high even the most gallant of princes could not climb. She felt she will just be replaced with another more beautiful than her and at 26, she is still recovering from the lies he spewed.
For the longest time, we have always associated abuse with the physical black and blue bruises. If the men we were with didn’t hit us physically, there will be no damage or even a residue of it. And while physical abuse is a grave matter no one should endure, there’s one with effects that no one sees simply because there’s no visible evidence.
Abuse is defined as the improper usage or treatment of an entity, often to unfairly or improperly gain benefit. Abuse in simplistic terms is when we hurt people to make us feel good about ourselves.
Abuse is almost always also coupled with manipulation as well. The abuser will always make you think you’re at fault, that the harsh words are for your own good, and that he’s doing this because you’re insecure but never him.
But truth is, only a human being with his own issues can destroy another. I used to blame him but then again, he may have been brought up in an environment that fostered verbal and emotional abuse. He may have been neglected or maybe he hasn’t found a deep sense of wholeness so he destroyed those who didn’t need him. Being needed made him feel like he won.
It has been four years since then and I would say that I am blessed with a family who taught me the power to be found in the grace of God. I am also fortunate to have a father who looks out for his daughter and constantly reminds me what I deserve. Because of how he raised me and how he treats my mother, I am reminded of my own worth and what I should and shouldn’t tolerate.
Because of this, I healed slowly and by fully discovering the truth of who Jesus is and how he makes everything turn out for good, I have also learned to forgive him. He simply didn’t know any better and I can only wish that he has already changed.
I am sharing this story to remind you beautiful woman reading this that you are not alone and that when a guy hurts you whether through his brute strength or his words, walk away. You were created to be loved and appreciated and believe me when I say that staying will not change him but even make the situation worse.
By loving yourself and being brave enough to walk away, you are stopping him from repeating the same behavior and at the same time, inspiring women everywhere that you don’t have to take what you don’t deserve. By taking the stand today, you at also making the world a better place for little girls to grow up in.
Love doesn’t have to hurt. read it, believe it and live it.

The Romanticizing of The Martial Law and The People Power Revolution

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I was born in 1988, a good two years after the People Power Revolution that ousted the dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his rather profligate family. I learned about martial law and its main characters the way I learned about heroes of centuries past: through the collective stories of teachers, family members, and the media. In my young mind the martial law was told like a fairy tale: there was an evil king named Marcos who wanted to control the country and spend all its money on shoes but evil was overcome by a petite woman, the united outcry of the nation, and oddly enough, the color yellow.
It was one of those things that you heard about but didn’t quite grasp simply because you weren’t there to experience its effects. At 26, I may experience its long standing effects but my mind couldn’t seem to comprehend what it’s like to have a curfew other than what my parents have set and as a writer, what it’s like to have your voice silenced.
A few months ago, the trends #NeverAgain and #NeverForget roamed in my social media timelines as a result of youngsters who never went through martial law crying for the government to reconsider it. In the mark of the 29th year of the People Power Revolution, I decided to go beyond what was taught in the classroom to take a full grasp of what really transpired.
Truth is, information about is readily available, a quick Google search will lead you to numerous articles, images, photos, and commentary not unlike this one. There’s an economic look at it that I rather enjoyed (read it here), a controversial one from humanitarian aid worker Caroline Kennedy (read it here), and of course, the ever reliable Wikipedia.
Numerous articles have discussed the violence that happened after dark and most importantly, the silencing of one’s freedom of speech. As I browsed through pages and pages of what transpired back then, it made me shiver. Coming from a generation who can’t help but post their “opinions” on their social media sites every hour of every day, the thought of being banned to do so can be quite alarming.
And while I initially wanted this to be an understanding of what went on during the dark days of the country, the real question echoes louder, how has the country changed since then? How has it changed the way we view things? Do charming leaders and their partners still easily sway us without really studying what they have to show for? Are we simply repeating history and passing today’s government as better simply because we’re not told to go home at a certain hour?
Have we romanticized martial law and its effects to the point of wanting to go back to it?
Have we made better choices in terms of our leaders or are we simply choosing the best thief amidst the candidates? Have we simply accepted graft and corruption as a way of life? Have we lost all hope? Have we stopped believing that change can happen?
And most importantly, do we still continue to blame past administrations for what is currently happening in the country or are we proactively acting towards positive change? We can continue to blame the Marcoses all we want and yes, our reasons are legit, but has our blaming stopped us from moving forward?
May we all think of these thoughts as we celebrate our 29th year of freedom and at the same time, ask ourselves, have we been using that freedom well?

The Tinderella Experiment

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When I was a child, I enjoyed watching fairytales. My romantic idealism was heavily influenced by three things: the young adult novels I devoured, the Disney movies my dad used to keep his ADD (short attention span) infused daughter entertained, and chick flicks starring but not limited to Freddie Prinze Jr., Drew Barrymore, Ryan Philippe, and Rachel Leigh Cook.   Naively, I hoped to have a meet-cute* story of my own to share. You know bumping into someone at the bookstore while you both reach for the same book (still my favorite imagined story to date), however, I am quick to remind myself that we are no longer in the early millennium and have now entered into what I dare say, The Tinder Age.  

Tinder, for most of you folks who don’t know (have you been living under a rock?), describes itself as “how people meet, its like real life, only better.” Wikipedia goes on to say that Tinder is a matchmaking mobile app that uses geolocation technology to find your match. So in simplistic terms, it’s an app just like your Facebook app but leads you to a database of people you can meet up with at any given time.   

Convenient right?   

Most people would be quick to argue that Tinder is for simply “meeting” people just like you would in bar while others say that it was created for the purposes of hooking up and everything else that happens after dark. 

To be fair, I first heard of Tinder in late 2012 when a friend of mine showed me his Grinder app (the Tinder for the LGBT community) and back then it was said to be an app for hooking up so you would understand my initial apprehension. However, as more and more countries adapt to it, even the more conservative ones in Southeast Asia, it has evolved into a bar on wheels and is perceived to be no different than going out and meeting people in clubs. It’s safe to say that the stigma of being branded as “thirsty” no longer applies.   I never really gave it much thought until friends of mine started using it and that’s when The Tinderella Experiment was born.   

The Tinderella Experiment (term coined by my good friend, Juliet) is the process of downloading the Tinder app and using it for research purposes only. After hearing so many stories about the app (there is a good mix of happy and terror stories), my friends and I decided to give it a go collectively using Juliet’s Facebook profile during one particularly boring lunch hour. The results were hilarious and while nobody received any indecent proposal yet as of this writing, there have been successful matches that we didn’t bother responding to. We simply wanted to see what the hype was about, check out the dating pool to see if we were missing out (turns out, we weren’t as far as our distances were concerned) and just like anything experimental, drop it.   

The Tinderella Experiment was thoroughly enjoyable simply because we weren’t in it to win it. The experiment brought my friends and I together through its hilarious profiles (no offense) and the crazy moments when actually see someone you know.   It did, however, make me rethink about today’s dating culture. Is Tinder a form of settling or just like anything else in life, a better, quicker way of doing things? Does it make me less of a person if I sign up for it or does it make me new age? These were the thoughts that simply couldn’t be answered by swiping left or right. 

It’s safe to say that the Philippines IS still generally a safe place to Tinder in. My friends who have tried it have said that Pinoy men are still cautious and not too straightforward (as of writing, at the very least) and nobody has been outrageous enough to simply want the deed. What saddens me though is seeing some of fully committed men (either through verbal agreement or legit vows) also snooping around to see if there’s someone better out there.  

And while I may be too conservative for my own sake, I do believe that people have the right to live life the way they want them to and for this reason, I freely give single people the chance to Tinder all they want (sige na nga, kahit yung nasa dating stages palang, hmph!). However, my old soul refuses to accept the fact that some thoroughly committed men (and possibly women) still Tinder to their heart’s delight.   As in anything in life, it’s not the app itself that’s a bad thing but in how we use it. If you’re single and not actively pursuing anyone, I can’t judge you for how you choose to find true love. But if you are married or committed as in committed, then I am judging you a bit. Why window-shop when you can’t buy? Most importantly, why commit if you still want to window shop? Have we really turned into an entitled generation that has proven that enough is never enough? Do we no longer take our words seriously and stuff like… uh… commitment? Are we always on the lookout for something better? And when we find better, do we leave people behind? Ang tanong ko lang talaga naman is this: bakit hanap ka pa ng hanap kung meron ka na sa tabi mo? Kung gusto mo mag enjoy (or explore), bakit hindi ka na lang makipag break?   

That frustration aside, I don’t find anything wrong with the app and while I personally would not choose it, I don’t look at those who do differently. I’ve always believed that there’s no one way of doing life but I just personally prefer to do mine the old fashioned way.   That being said, I do believe it all boils down to people wanting company and wanting to be wanted and I believe that everyone’s entitled to it no matter how they find it.