A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: jc_pagdanganan

The Case of the Broken Person


I am a product of a broken family.

At a young age, I was made aware that my parents were heading to splitsville. I can barely recall any time that I was with both my mom and dad, aside from a photo of us at the airport before my dad left for the US. I remember nights when my mom and I would talk at night before going to sleep. I would ask her why my dad wasn't with us, and she would say that I would understand things better when I grew up. I probably asked that question so many times that indeed, I asked less questions eventually.

I didn't know exactly what happened. I would hear stories from different people, with no one painting either of my parents as bad. That was a weird thing, but I guess it was because everyone expected it. Another guess is that because my relatives were just graceful with each party, with no one seemingly mad at anyone. Honestly, as I grew up, I didn't seem to care, too.

A few years into grade school, my mom decided to work abroad and I was left in our house in Sampaloc. I didn’t really feel lonely because we had a big family. I lived with my grandparents, my aunts/ uncles, and lots of cousins. It was like anybody's normal childhood, living with many relatives. My cousins became my siblings. We would quarrel, we would bicker, but I knew we cared for each other. I was never alone. The only thing was that both my parents were not there.

I started to feel longing for my parents when I started doing well in school. I was just a regular kid at school by the time my mom left. Always in Section 1 but rarely in the top ten (well, I was Top 1 in Kinder, but that was it). When I transferred to a public school (a school where most of our family studied in) for the 4th Grade, I suddenly became smart. I was sent to Science/ History competitions in school and won them. From Section 6 in the 4th Grade, to Section 2 in the 5th Grade, I climbed up to Section 1 in the 6th Grade. Looking back, I was proud of my achievements. What stung was that every time I went on stage, it was either my lola or my aunt who would attend recognition days. It didn’t hurt as bad because for my graduation in grade school, my mom went home. That was the only time a parent was with me. And that was the last time any one of them did.

From there, I had accepted that my parents' presence wouldn’t be that frequent. My mom would go home every 3 years or so, my dad came once in high school; but by that time my half siblings were growing up. Spending a lot on plane tickets wasn't particularly economical. I built relationships with my parents through phone calls. Name a phone and I probably used it to talk to them: that big ass red phone, black rotary phones, touch tone phones, wireless phones, etc. I was already aware of US time zones because The MMK title of that part of my life could've been Telepono. Lol.

Because of my parents' absence, there were things that I had to learn on my own. Nobody taught me how to shave. Nobody taught me how to handle money. Nobody taught me how to court girls (ewth haha). Some things, I knew from my grandparents or my cousins. I had no constant teacher. I had to learn from observing people around me. I watched them cook, dress up, wash dishes, have boyfriends and girlfriends, go out, etc. It was this time that I developed a yearning for a little independence wherever I could exercise it.

In the next years to come, independence was all I had. I made decisions without consulting anyone. I left home to live on my own how many times. Even in my relationships, I ended up distancing myself from guys who showed any sign of weakness. I had to set standards for myself because all my life, I learned how to accept myself, I stood for myself, I celebrated myself, I comforted myself, I taught myself.

My family is broken, with me as the only part that stays afloat alone. I am broken, but pieces of me persist and grow further. Maybe someday these pieces would grow so big they'd drift so close to each other and make me whole again. One piece. Unbroken.

Posted by jc_pagdanganan 01:41 Archived in Philippines Comments (0)

The Case of the Letters to Juliet

Every time I feel like I'm at a crossroads in my life, I always unknowingly stumble upon Letters to Juliet. Letters is a romantic film headlined by Amanda Seyfried in 2010 about a group of ladies, the Secretaries of Juliet, who answer letters left by lovelorn women in Juliet's Verona courtyard. It is in this film that I got these lines: "What" and "if" are two words as nonthreatening as words can be. But put them together, side by side, and they have the power to haunt you for the rest of your life. What if? What if? What if?

I've had so many "what if's" in the past. Too many to mention, girl. So many regrets that may have led me to a different me today. Don't we all? I've never been the type who had a clear vision of what I wanted to be when I was younger. I wanted to be a lot of things, but didn't focus on just one thing. I had a high school classmate who wore a Magiging Doktor shirt, and that's exactly what she is right now. I never had that defining moment where I ultimately decided what I wanted to be. However, as I grow older, good lord I'm in my late 30's, what if's become more about the future and more looming than just a simple question.

What if I lived in the US?
In 2019, I had a taste of staying with my family in Georgia and California. I can say without trying to be offensive that I felt so much better having my family close by. Offensive because I don't want those I know here to feel invalidated. It's just that I waited for it all my life and no one else I know can understand or has the same experience. The thing is, how can I start over again? I'm almost 40. What jobs await me? Where will I live? I already have a house here. How can I bring my pets? Isn't it too late to start over again?

What if I changed careers?
Late. I hate that word. I hate late because sometimes I feel like my development is later than everyone else. My friends have families, my contemporaries have PhDs/MDs, etc. I know my journey is quite different from others, but sometimes I wonder what if I had been more proactive? Lately, I have been thinking of switching careers before it's too late. I'm getting sick, I'm missing out on things I want to do because of my schedule. I do everything at home. I have no one else to help me with errands. The more I stay on the night shift, the more effed up my schedule becomes. I've been presented with the opportunity to change that, to have more control over my schedule. Do I leave the industry that took care of me for almost two decades or do I risk stability for a job that gives me more freedom? I'm at that point where I don't want my time to be dependent on other people's decisions, where my team can change overnight without me knowing.

What if I settled down?
My first two what if's will definitely affect my third. I have never had a relationship that lasted long enough to really build a future. I can't do an Oprah with myself right now, but all i know is I am not good with relationships. But what if I were? I probably have someone coming with me to doctor's appointments, or have someone sharing expenses with me or have someone help take care of the doggos with me. Some people may ask, why don't you go back to your family home? I don't think I would. It's not a place where I can exercise complete freedom and authority, having to share and co-exist with several people. No offense meant, just the tea. But is there anyone I can settle down with? I don't know what needs to change. I'd like to think I'm a likable person. Or am I just supposed to give a "Jane, Wanda" speech in the end?

If I were asked which of these three I'm close to coming to terms with, it would be the second one. Maybe this year, maybe next year. Who knows, I'm really hoping things go well. I just don't want to look back 2-3 years from now and look at another "what if". I've had enough "what if's" haunting me. It's time I did something courageous and out of my comfort zone. What's your "what if"?

Posted by jc_pagdanganan 14:46 Archived in Philippines Comments (0)

poem vomit: desperate (20200503)


when he’s gone, will you want me?
what a fairy tale, for me, finally!

when he’s gone, will you seek me?
the way I did, for you, insanely?

when he’s gone, will you find me?
will I stand out amongst the many?

when he’s gone, I’ll be ready
as selfish as they may see me

when he’s gone, I pray, choose me
‘cause you never do, deftly

Posted by jc_pagdanganan 07:05 Archived in Philippines Tagged poem_vomit Comments (0)

subjunctive 20100506

wish I could tell you
that a part of me is with you
wherever you may go
whatever you may do

wish I could tell you
how my mind paints your picture
from blurred things without hue
to a surreal, beautiful disaster

wish I could tell you
about the stories I've created
of us being together
like souls reincarnated, fated

wish I could tell you
that I melt with just one gaze
that's love you'll only know
if you were in my place

Posted by jc_pagdanganan 12:09 Archived in Philippines Tagged poem_vomit Comments (0)

untitled (undated)

the crimson sky awaits the night
my bleeding heart still yearns for light
and as the suns and seas unite
my spirit drowns, not out of spite

if words could kill then treat me dead
you trample on where my heart bled
as I hold on to every line
wishing that his name was mine

all of this smoke has helped me hide
from looks of yours that can't decide
and when it clears, gaze at my eyes
you'll never see my timid cries

Posted by jc_pagdanganan 11:52 Archived in Philippines Tagged poem_vomit Comments (0)

the un-question 20101004

on that day, I saw you and my heart fluttered
I was a moth, looking at a lamp, enamored
I wanted to float around you in circles
'til I get consumed by the flame of your candle

but I quickly snapped back to reality
when I realized there's one uncertainty
and unless that mystery of yours unfolds
I'll keep my distance with my own warm hands to hold

I didn't know if I'd leave this to chance
or rather, risk cognitive dissonance
you're a caricature of what I want in the future
a living, breathing doppelganger

Posted by jc_pagdanganan 11:33 Archived in Philippines Tagged poem_vomit Comments (0)

end of the road 20100202

when I saw you, a part of me smiled
like I've never had, for a while
somehow, that "skip-a-beat" was missing
because now, for sure, there's no more yearning

as the taxi swiftly cruises the street
I recall memories so bittersweet
of the tug-of-war of emotions we created
for the three words, eight letters we evaded

I was stuck in crossroads I should've missed
waiting was like slowly slitting my wrist
but the bleeding has stopped, I've reached my dead end
as I alight, walk towards home, my woulds will mend

Posted by jc_pagdanganan 11:21 Archived in Philippines Comments (0)

stoplight 20101008

I stare at you
and every second I do
I twitch
I want to do more
I want to move forward
until you say "I am"
great conversations
lead to great expectations
I mean well
unlike others
say it, show it
waiting is aggravating
do one thing
go green

Posted by jc_pagdanganan 11:15 Archived in Philippines Tagged poem_vomit Comments (0)

closure (undated)

it's been quite a while since I last saw you
I must admit I've never been so blue
It's like the gloomy heavens feel what I do
as I hold back every tear, whenever I think of you

as seconds pass without you in my way
my heart keeps on crying where remnants of you lay
I wallow in loneliness, in despair, in vain
because in my mind you're a permanent stain

I tried to reach you, at least let you know I'm here
but you kept your distance like I'm something to fear
just when I thought I've finally found the one
it's then I realize, in my life, you'd rather you're gone

it's time for me to let you go without really having you
my lunacies have ended, my pains have reached their due
yet, on a lonely night, look at the skies, so dark so blue
and remember, I was like the vivid moon, just watching over you

Posted by jc_pagdanganan 11:00 Archived in Philippines Comments (0)

the blue pill 20101029

I made a choice, a hasty decision
I made it without contemplation

I had options between red or blue
the former, I took; the other was you

I thought that choice would bring me glee
but now, I reckon, I want to flee

I'd rather sing my heart out
than wallow in self doubt

I would've chosen blue
I would've chosen you

Posted by jc_pagdanganan 10:52 Archived in Philippines Comments (0)

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