Blogmas #25 // Merry Christmas

Hi everyone! I hope you are all having a peaceful and joyful holiday.

I cannot fathom the idea that I posted for 25 consecutive days. For a newbie like me, this accomplishment is quite the feet. Granted, some posts held more time and attention than others, but I still attempted and posted.

Congrats to everyone who participated in blogmas. And to all those who took the time to read, like and respond to my posts, thank you. I appreciate you.

The other day, I received a notification from WordPress that I received 1,000 likes and 150 followers. I don’t share this blog actively, so the idea of getting responses and support from people I’ve never met, warms and lights my heart, especially during this dark time.

Merry Christmas WordPress family.

Blogmas #22 // Giving Tuesday

About six years ago, I experienced my first giving Tuesday with YouTube Influencer and home chef Laura Vitale. I was selected from hundreds of applicants to join Laura on a virtual cooking event where we cooked and conversed together via google hangout. Obviously this was way before COVID, so a virtual event of this kind was very unique.

I bring this experience up because since then, I have donated to a cause, non- profit or organization/ person in need every season. Over the past few years I’ve donated to meals for children, ending sex traffic, local businesses, book launches, and more. This year I focused on PAWA- Philippine American Writers and Artists. I chose this non-profit this holiday season because they have offered me so much space and support as a budding writer.

To begin with, since the pandemic, I have attended at least a related PAWA virtual event once a month, if not more. I attend classes, panel discussions and have even participated in several readings as a special guest. PAWA is a community in which I belong in and a few years ago I didn’t think I could be in such regarded company. Since my involvement with PAWA I have met some amazing people and writers and have greatly benefited from their guidance and support. Many of them have encouraged me to take the next step with my stories, but I don’t think, even with their vote of confidence, that I am ready to share my writing with the world.

PAWA provides the necessary space for me to feel held, with no judgment, no pretense, no vex. The community is one that welcomes all writers and artists and encourages each person at their own pace and trajectory.

I know this is a season of giving, but this year is fiscally challenging for many. I know there are a lot of causes and organizations that need support, but if you can help PAWA in any way, I encourage you to do so. During this pandemic, if you have relied on books, art, movies, music or any form of creative expression made by a Filipino American, to provide escape, entertainment or enlightenment during this very dark time, then I encourage you to donate to PAWA. They support writers and artists to continue to do this work so that we can all benefit from these enriching experiences.

For more on PAWA.. click below…

Bloggers vs. Writers

On Sunday, August  30, I had the great privilege of taking a writing class with the People’s Poet Tony Robles. For those who don’t know, Tony Robles is a poet from San Francisco who is now the Carl Sandburg Home Writer in Residence & Resistance. On Sunday, he offered a virtual class titled “Writing out of Quarantine.”

I consider it a privilege to write and study with literary role models whose work I have admired and looked up to. In my short time as a budding writer, I have been fortunate to be in the company of writers such a Tony Robles, ZZ Packer, Kristen Valdez Quade, Patricia Powell, and so many brilliant, creative minds, that it is humbling to ponder on the luck and fortune that has shaped my writing trajectory. 

On Sunday, I was expecting Tony’s class to be an opportunity in which I honed my poetry skills, since poetry isn’t my strongest genre. I know that writing poetry inherently improves literary craft techniques such as imagery, rhyme, metaphor, simile, etc. My prose writing could benefit from this experience. Instead of learning lessons about poetry, I actually learned a more valuable lesson about writing. 

In the beginning of class, Tony asked us how the quarantine affected us. There were about a dozen people on the call and for the most part we all expressed the same feelings- we couldn’t write. We felt it took more time to accomplish tasks. There was an overall sentiment of despair. Many expressed grief- from the loss of a life to the loss of motivation of the things they once loved to do like paint, write, hug. It was sobering but empowering to relate to complete strangers.

When it was my turn to share, I expressed that I had felt the same sentiments and that I have had lingering feelings about the direction of my writing. Lately I have been investing more time and dedication to my blog, that I have neglected my other writing projects, specifically the short stories I have been writing for the last four years. But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been writing. In fact, on my blog, I’m writing 4-5 times a week, about 30 minutes to an one hour, sometimes more depending on the topic. While I’m not actively writing my short stories, I’m still actively writing- on my blog. Does this make me less of a writer? I know blog writing is not the same as literary writing, but it’s still writing. I still put in the time to craft sentences, phrases, and I’m particular about certain words and details. I apply the same craft elements as I would in literary fiction such as developing imagery, tone, theme and sometimes character and setting. And while I’m not publishing a book, I hit a little button 3-5 times a week that says “publish.” I share my work with others and sometimes, if I’m lucky, I’ll get encouraging phrases like a “like” or a comment. With all that is going on in the world, on my blog I try to write about the positive aspects in my life, and this is done intentionally because I need an escape from the pain and sorrow I’m feeling every day. This blog is saving me. 

I know one day I will return to my short stories. I haven’t abandoned them completely, but for now my blog is what I need. It’s a place that I can simply write and be proud to be in the company of bloggers, readers and writers. While some might argue and suggest that blogging is not writing, I will respectfully disagree and say writing is writing. Like breathing is breathing. Like walking is walking. Sure we all do it a little differently, but at the end of the day, we all exhale and inhale, take step by step, put words together, one by one, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, page by page. Am I a blogger? Am I a writer? Maybe I’m lucky — I’m both.  

We broke up

Today, I wrote one of the most difficult emails to write: I had to tell my writing group I was leaving our group.

For some, this may not seem like a daunting task. But for me, breaking up with a writing group is akin to breaking up with a very serious partner. I was with my writing group for almost a year: we weathered difficult seasons, rain or shine we met once a month at the SF Public Library, we wrote through tears and tough conversations; we wrote during the onset of sheltering in place, a global pandemic and social unrest. In a short time, we went through a lot. 

Just recently, my writing has taken a different direction. I’m not sure how to even describe it, and when i’m ready, i will share it on this blog. I just know that as I continue to write my way through new terrain, I’m at peace knowing that no one will read this raw, imperfect, unedited material but me. There’s so much freedom in that. Not to suggest that my writing group wasn’t a positive experience. It was! I learned so much from my partners and they pushed me to be a better writer. They offered their support with a gentle, kind hand, even when I knew they could be much harsher. Instead, they encouraged me through good, but even more important, through “bad” writing. But as I find my new voice in my new writing, I know I want to experience this undisturbed and really immerse myself in the process. I’m scared, but I think it will be good for me because I have never written “alone”. There was always a writing group I could count on to offer feedback. 

In time, I hope I will be ready to share and accept feedback. I hope it’ll be with the same group. I didn’t express this in my email because I have to accept the possibility that they might not be willing to work with me again. I hope that is not the case. But I understand if it is. 

I will miss reading my group’s stories and chatting about our life updates.  I’m saddened that it is my fault that we won’t be able to continue as a trio and have years, decades of meeting together once a month as I had originally envisioned. But I know this decision, although very difficult, is the best for me at this time.

My new work needs my full attention, and I am committed in providing that, however difficult and different.


This seems a little over the top, but based on my mood, i thought i’d accompany today’s post with some of my favorite break up songs:

Boys to Men “End of the Road”


Boys to Men “How do I Say Goodbye To Yesterday?”


Amy Winehouse “Back to Black”






My obsession with teeth

For some it’s the eyes. For others it’s the ass. For me –it’s teeth. This is the first thing I notice when I meet someone. I consider the following: are the teeth strong and round or sharp and jagged? Is it obvious that this person is a smoker, flosser, caffeine drinker? Do they whiten their teeth, wear braces, have a retainer? Are the gums strong? Do they have a full set of teeth? Do they have baby teeth, molars, veneers or any silver fillings? How often might this person floss, gargle, or brush their teeth? I know these questions risk the chance of me sounding pretentious and the reader being dismayed by my judgmental cavalierness. But full disclosure: I care very little about what the teeth actually look like. I care more about if the person takes the time to properly care for their teeth.
My obsession with teeth started at a young age and my visits to the dentist.
As a child and adult, I visited the dentist regularly. I went to the dentist every 6 months for my routine cleaning and check up. As a child, after the cleaning, I looked forward to receiving a sticker. As an adult, I look forward to the confirmation that I have no cavities. In my own simple way, getting encouraging news from the dentist is one of the rare places where I can look forward to getting good news about my health. My teeth — my oral hygiene — has always been something that I’m proud of. It’s the one thing about my condition about my body I can control. The other parts of my health I have less control.
For example, when I visit the optometrist, I’m told my vision gets worse every year. It doesn’t matter if I wear my daily contacts or glasses; at every yearly check up, I’ m given a stronger prescription to correct my vision. At my doctor visits, according to the BMI chart, I’m considered obese. I’ve gained weight, despite my running, practicing yoga, and eating a more plant based diet. At one point, I was even considered pre-diabetic. Then there’s the ringing in my ears, the popping in my left knee and the bloating around my waste line. As I’ve gotten older, my body is rapidly responding to my aging, and the disappointing part of this acceptance is that for the most part, most of these ailments are out in my control. Which is why, at the very least, I celebrate my teeth. I take pride in my routine: using a soft bristle brush, opening my mouth halfway to reach the back of my molars, brushing, twice a day, for at least two minutes, flossing with a thick dental floss, and applying a dime size amount of Sensodyne toothpaste. Occasionally, if I’m feeling adventurous, I’ll use at home teeth whitening kit. But I’m protective over my enamel, so this is a rare experience for me.

Now that the world is responding to COVID and viral transfers are still widely unknown, I’m unsure when I’ll see my dentist. I’m about four months over due from my routine check up, and my doctor has no plans of opening up his office anytime soon. I’m thankful that my dentist is putting the public’s health as a priority. And I know that seeing the dentist is not a pressing matter considered the deep unrest the world is experiencing at this moment. My desire to have a cleaning pales in comparison to those whose are fighting their lives.

Not visiting the dentist is just one of the things I have to adjust to in new COVID terrain. And in hindsight, I should care less about how people care for their teeth. In these current times, with people wearing mask and practicing physical distancing, teeth should be the least of people’s health concern. But like I said, my teeth is my signifying measure that I have done something right in terms of my health. There’s a large chance that I may not get the opportunity for my dentist to affirm this. But I can be comforted in knowing that the small decisions I make everyday to preserve my long standing healthy teeth are taken seriously by me, even in vain.

Here are some of my favorite teeth pictures from the last 8 months…