It’s Okay to Change Your Mind

We live in the age of information. With the plethora of information and sources out there, it’s almost inexcusable to not look into things deeper. Especially with the current political climate and election day roaming around the corner, people are becoming more aware of the importance of voting. Where does our tax dollars go? What are we funding? How can we make change? How can I do my part in this all?

But we all know how life goes, people get busy, we get caught up in work, and sometimes we don’t make the time to dig deeper and do research. We get to pick and choose who we follow and what kind of content we get to see. That’s a blessing and a curse all at once. We get to filter and sift through all the things we don’t want to see. On my Instagram feed I’ll never find someone or a company trying to profit off of my insecurities, I’ll never see Trump-supporting content, I’ll never read racist commentary, I’ll never see anti-gay, anti-fat, anti-feminist content, I’ll never see any of that. Because I’ve tailored my Instagram to show me things I believe in, and filtered out the things I don’t want to see.

But what if someone is on the wrong side of thinking? It used to be “agree to disagree” and “everyone has a different opinion,” but now with everything going on, I really feel like there’s no going back to those ignorant days. And I don’t want to be a “my opinion is the right opinion” kind of bitch, but when it comes down to what is taking place right now, with Trump in office and all the havoc and pain he’s caused this nation in just under 4 years, it does boil down to “right and wrong” opinions.

We all knew from the get what kind of guy Trump was before he was elected into office. But after all this, after almost 4 years of presidency, whoever is still “Trump 2020”-ing, all I have to say is what the fuck?! Like genuine confusion. But I have to realize that there really are people out there that think like him, hate like him, and want him for president again. And sometimes I stop and wonder if they’re actually all for him, or if they’re too embarrassed to say he is wrong. And in turn, that they were wrong in wanting him as president. That, or they’re too set in their ways of thinking to ever see past their own views.

When new information is presented on a topic, situation, person, and it proves your previous beliefs to be wrong, it is okay to change your mind! There’s nothing wrong about changing your mind. There’s nothing wrong with getting more information and facts. There’s nothing wrong about being proven wrong. It’s time we normalize changing our minds and learning more information. But most importantly, taking accountability and admitting that your actions and beliefs may have been damaging and hurtful to others.

If you refuse to open your mind to new information, you’re not learning or growing. You’re depriving yourself from making a decision for yourself. And ultimately, you just follow whatever you’re accustomed to. And that’s dangerous when it comes to passing down beliefs from generation to generation. That’s why we still have racists, homophobics, and cult religious people who don’t practice what they preach.

It’s honestly terrifying to see all these people that hide behind religion be the biggest Trump supporters. It makes no sense to me. These are the same kind of people that condemn George Floyd and his past. The same kid of people that say the media is turning Floyd into a “martyr” and we all shouldn’t mourn his death because of his track record. The same kind of people that are justifying an unjust murder. The same kind of people that will back up murderers to the grave before they admit that a black man was wrongfully killed. The same kind of people that care more about animal rights than human rights. The same kind of people that talk down on peaceful protesters and say they are “thugs” and disturbing the peace but they can’t even wear a mask at a grocery store. It’s people that think like this that will pass down their beliefs to their children.

And unfortunately, sometimes these people never see why their views and microagressions are harmful. They have that privilege to not have to do the research because the results don’t affect them directly. And that’s wrong. You can’t force people to care about the well-being of someone other than themselves. You can’t force someone to want to change their view. You can just hope that some realize their privilege and try to educate themselves.

Admitting that you didn’t have all the information and your views may have been one sided, is the ultimate redemption. Just acknowledging how your actions and beliefs were hurtful and making an active change to educate yourself, people like you, and those around you will make change.

Where people fall short in this is when they realize they are “wrong” but have too much pride to admit it. Some even go the extra mile and obnoxiously rep their wrong views even harder because they have the mentality of “well, no going back now.” Everyone just wants to be right, but it’s okay to say you were wrong, that you didn’t have all the information, that you educated yourself and came to a different conclusion.

It makes me think of all the statues that are being taken down by protesters. As they should be, since they are statues of racists. But all these people that are tripping out about these statues being taken down….. I genuinely sit here thinking “why?!” Like why are you so pressed? The removal of a statue of a person who owned slaves is bothering you because? ….. Because your history books told you otherwise? Because we’ve been taught a sugar-coated version of American history? Because you’re realizing that a great majority of those who have things and places named after them weren’t that great? Because you’re too set in your narrow-minded thinking that you can’t fathom the true facts to be real? Or because you refuse to look at the facts?

Normalize changing your opinion when presented with new facts and information. It doesn’t make you look bad or uneducated. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. Nobody comes out of the womb knowing everything and anything. We need to take accountability and educate ourselves. Be open to look and critique information on your own. Not just being force fed beliefs that you are accustomed to.

Father’s Day 2020

To this day, my parents still laugh and tell the stories of me in preschool. I was a half day kid, so I was only in preschool for a couple of hours. The preschool was in a center, and a lot of the parents, my dad included, would just chill on the sidelines near the exit and talk amongst each other until it was time to go home. I was 4, and I remember always taking glances to where the parents were because I always wanted to keep an eye out for my dad. I wanted to make sure he was always there, that I wasn’t alone. I could be having a lot of fun playing with friends or be distracted by toys, but the moment my dad wasn’t in view I would lose it.

My dad always describes the same events. How he would always see me trying to look for him. He remembers me always turning around to see if he was still there, and how I would cry when I couldn’t find him. One time he had to use the bathroom, so he went up to me and told me he’d be right back. He had to explain to me where he was going and for how long since every move he made I cried because I thought he was leaving. He told me over and over again that he was just going to the bathroom and he’d return shortly. According to my dad I agreed and went about playing.

“Not even one minute later,” my dad exaggerates, “I open the door, and you’re standing there crying!”

My parents tell the stories of me as a clingy preschool kid all the time. And how after preschool my dad would be holding my little sister in the carseat in one hand, and me clinging onto his leg on the other side as he dropped us off to my grandma’s house, “Mama’s House,” so he could go to work. These are vague memories that I remember, but for my dad, that time he was in the thick of being a dad to 3 young girls, 2 of which were under the age of 5.

Growing up my mom would always tell me and my sisters, “See! You should be grateful for your dad!” I didn’t really grasp that phrase completely until I grew up. Because as a kid, growing up with my dad, who off the bat, did everything and anything for our family, I thought nothing of it. It’s all we ever knew. But as I got older, I realized how good I actually have it. I realized that a lot of people don’t have a dad like mine.

In my family, we all have a short temper with each other. But at the end of the day we all got each other. That’s what my parents taught us, and my dad has shown us that time and time again. It doesn’t matter what happens or what was said, I know my dad would do anything for any of us in a heart beat. I think my dad’s one hell of a guy. And I’m not just saying that because he’s my dad.

He has been the example of what a man should be like. Not only as a man, but as a father as well. When I tell you my sisters and I are spoiled, I mean that shit and it’s high key embarrassing. Not in monetary value, but with acts of service. In my household, we don’t know how to be affectionate towards one another without making it a joke. It’s actually something we need to work on. But our love translates by how loyal we are when shit hits the fan, acts of service, and food. That’s how we show our love.

My mom always told us to choose the right guy, “like your dad.” Growing up we were like “EwWwWwW” because the thought of your significant other being like your parent is fuckin weird. But now, I look at my man and see the resemblance in his character. He reminds me of my dad. And that’s how I know I’m headed towards the right path. My dad has spoiled my sisters and I, that we have certain standards when looking for a partner. We’re not going to settle for a halfass kind of dude when our dad has set the bar of acts of service and loyalty to my mom and my sisters so high from the get. He’s always been by my mom’s side and has been there for our family through the good, the bad, and the ugly. Never budging, never running away from problems, never making excuses, but facing every problem head on. And being present for everything.

Growing up, my mom was the tough one and whatever she says goes. Period. But we would always sway our dad to try to change her mind. And if it was a hard “no,” from mom, it was most likely a “ugh. Ok ok” from dad. Whether that be “can we go to the mall?” “Can I change the channel?” “Can you drop me to my friends house?” “Can we get boba, I’ll pay!”

My dad is the most selfless, loyal, honest, and generous person I know. Even if he doesn’t have much for himself, he’ll still try to give to someone if he knows that they have it worse than him. When we would be waiting in the car for one of my sister’s at BART, he’ll literally get out of the car to give a homeless person some crackers. He’s just that kind of dude. He’s not rich, but he’ll give someone the last of his cash in his wallet.

I’d like to think that that’s where I get my empathetic ways from. My dad. I’m always trying to put myself in someone else’s shoes. I’m always trying to fight for what’s right, to stand up for those who need help. He’s taught me to care. And not just care for the people I know. A lot of people are taught to just look out for themselves. But my dad is the opposite. He puts others before himself sometimes, all the while looking out for his family and those around him. But at the same time, teaching us to look between the lines and look past some people’s alternate motives.

Every Father’s Day we ask my dad what he wants for a gift. “Nothing.” Is his response every year my whole life. You know when someone says “nothing” but you know they’re lowkey expecting something? Yeah. That ain’t the case. When my dad says “nothing” he legit means don’t get him anything. But of course we still get him gifts.

To our driver, social justice warrior, unproblematic, Prince-loving-mother-trucker, “despacito” singing, “K” replying father – Happy Father’s Day! We appreciate and love you, and we can’t imagine this life without you! Cue in the ugly faces and “ya ya ya okkkkk” since we all can’t show proper affection πŸ₯΄πŸ’˜.

Why ‘All Lives Matter’ Is Insulting

“Educate yourself.” That’s one of the many ways you can help play your part during the social unrest currently taking place. So this is dedicated to all the folks plastering “All Lives Matter,” on social media, and defending the term in person. I have seen this hashtag and phrase on my feed posted by people I know personally. Some of these people, I know they truly mean no harm, and others, I know what side their beliefs are shifting towards and cover it behind this phrase. The fact of the matter is, when your response to black people losing their lives to the very people sworn in to protect society is to say “All Lives Matter,” it’s a slap in the face. It’s insulting, frustrating, and triggering.

Why? Because obviously we all know in the greater scheme of things that “All Lives Matter.” But obviously, the phrase “Black Lives Matter,” is very specific to bring awareness to an issue that has been going on for decades. “All Lives Matter,” as an independent statement is something mostly everyone can agree on. But the second the term is used in conjunction to “Black Lives Matter,” it’s offensive.

Clearly the phrase “Black Lives Matter” is specific. Its point is to make the public see that Black lives are in danger in this society. Some police officers who are sworn in to protect and serve the people are using deadly force and hiding behind their uniforms to kill Black and Brown people. This is the community’s way to say “we are here, we know you hear us, we know you see this injustice, I matter, my life matters, my life shouldn’t be any less important than yours because the color of my skin.”

I have seen so many memes and cartoons explaining why many are frustrated when they see and read “All Lives Matter.” The meme I saw used the concept of a burning house. If someone’s house is burning down, you’re going to call 9-1-1 and the fire department is going to come to your aid to put out that fire. They’re not going to spray down every single house because “everyone’s house matters.” They’re going to help the house that is in danger and on fucking fire. Nobody is going to be upset at the firefighters for not hosing down their houses, because obviously their house isn’t on fire. That’s the same concept for “All Lives Matter.” Yes, all lives matter, but Black lives are the ones in danger right now. It’s not okay for people to try to make it about everybody and anybody. Just because you aren’t included, doesn’t mean you make the cause about yourself and everybody else. What is this, oppression FOMO? This takes away from the main point.

That’s like if a group of people were to come to my grandmother’s funeral and demand that we all acknowledge every single one of their relatives and loved ones that passed on, and my family comforts them for their loss. Even though the funeral is for a specific person whose casket is right infront of your eyes. It would be equivalent to going to a fundraiser to raise money to find a cure for a specific disease / cancer, and then having people come in protesting and chanting that other cancers and diseases are worse and need your attention more.

It’s frustrating to see people cling onto “All Lives Matter” because it takes away from the main point. It derails the focus, whether that be intentional or not, and it makes a group of people feel ignored. It’s even more messed up because “Black Lives Matter” is the Black community’s way of feeling heard and being seen. “All Lives Matter” is basically down playing the Black community’s suffering. That’s why it’s a slap in the face. You’re going to take a phrase that they created to bring awareness, and then use that same phrase to dismiss their feelings. And what about “Black Lives Matter” bothers you? The word “black?” If you can sit here and say “All Lives Matter” but feel uncomfortable saying “Black Lives Matter,” that means black people were never included in your “all.”

And I hate a “I see no color” type of bitch. If you don’t see that the color of people’s skin dictates the opportunities they get in life, the treatment they recieve from law enforcement, and can essentially put them at a disadvantage since birth, it just means that you have the privilege to not face those realities. And it’s OKAY to realize that you are privileged in some aspects. But it’s not okay to think that your experience is a blanket experience for every single person out there, because a lot of people do not have the luxury to ignore these issues.Why can’t some people ever let the Black community have their moment? Why does another opposing hashtag have to be trending as well? Why does “Black Lives Matter” rub some people the wrong way?

Like I said before, if “Black Lives Matter” bothers you, it’s probably because Black Lives were never a part of your “All Lives Matter.” But let’s break it down. You can’t chant “All Lives Matter” but exclude certain people from that saying. You can’t say “All Lives Matter,” if the LGBTQ community, all cultures, and those that aren’t U.S. citizens don’t fall under that umbrella. If all lives matter, you can’t be biased.

I still know a lot of people using “All Lives Matter,” and they genuinely don’t see why it’s so offensive to others. We all know everyone’s life matters. No matter what race, religion, economic background, and sexuality you come from or identify as. You matter. But for some reason it’s so hard for society to see that BLACK LIVES MATTER. And they need to spell it out in plain English for some of y’all to get it. Don’t hit them with the, “why does everything have to be about race?” It has always been about race in America.

The phrase “All Lives Matter” tries to silence “Black Lives Matter.” It tries to deny a group of people’s suffering and downplay their pain. It tries to make people think that they shouldn’t single out just 1 race, because ‘everyone’ should be included. And that’s definitely not the case when Black lives are threatened everyday by the system.

Filipinx For Black Lives

Illustration by: Marielle Cabillo

In the last week and a half, my social media platforms have been flooded by opinions, video footage, and information about the BLM movement. Everyone is getting vocal. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone is posting non-stop. The problem is, everyone thinks their opinion is the right one. Some are willing to hear the opposing side, some are agreeing to disagree, some don’t want to hear it at all.

This whole week my group chats and messages have been blowing up. It seems like everyday, I’m hearing the story about another friend of mine confronting an undercover racist relative or friend on social media / text message. Everyone is fed up. People are done ignoring content on their timeline and just scrolling past because they don’t want to start beef. Nope, those days are gone. Silence has gotten us to this point. As a country, we’re realizing that staying silent isn’t the way. We’re realizing that ignoring undercover racists is doing a lot more damage than we think.

All these killings, protests, video evidence of police brutality are giving people the courage to finally speak up to those they call family or social media friend. I know it’s very tough, but the uncomfortable conversations need to take place. It starts in your household and those around you. That’s how we make change, by keeping the conversation going to educate ourselves, the people around us, who we raise, and who raised us.

I know confronting older family members or acquaintences you know on social media can be difficult for some. We all know that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, so I understand why some people feel on the fence about confronting someone so directly – whether that be commenting on their post, texting, calling, or in person. But the death of George Floyd has really forced everyone to look at the people around them and decide whether they want to tolerate and allow people with differing views to stay in their lives. It sounds a bit dramatic to cut someone off for having a different opinion, but when that opinion is about racism and in turn denies / undermines certain groups of people, we have to really evaluate who we choose to surround ourselves with. And in order to make that decision, the conversations needs to be had with friends and family.

Being from the Bay Area where the Filipino community is very big, it gives me a sense of pride when I see “Filipinx for Black Lives” signs at protests. And I know for a fact that a lot of Filipinx kids are trying to educate their elders and those around them on the Black Lives Matter movement. And this is not something that’s easily done, especially in the Filipino culture. There is a generational divide between first generation Filipinx Americans and their elders. Especially being born and raised in the Bay Area, we are fortunate enough to be surrounded by a diverse community, people from all backgrounds and cultures. We grew up in an environment that allowed us to think freely, accept people’s differences, grow up with friends of different cultures, and live completely different lives than our ancestors.

We literally come from two different worlds. Generally speaking, traditional Filipinx born and raised in the Philippines are pretty conservative. This is where the generations seem to clash. Speaking against a Filipinx elder is seen as complete disrespect. Especially if it isn’t your parents you’re disagreeing with. It casts a bad name on your parents and it takes “who raised you?” to another level. For that reason, many Filipinx children find it hard to oppose their elders and their views. So the cycle continues for Filipinx American children: fighting the urge to speak out, avoiding conflict by ignoring ignorant comments, minding their business because they’re not in the conversation even though they’re ear hustling. Because we know, either from experience or how we were raised, that you should always respect your elders, and sometimes that means never speaking out of turn.

“If you don’t agree with what they’re saying, or maybe what they’re saying is wrong, it’s okay. Just ignore.”

We’ve been taught to ignore. Ignore the ignorance. Ignore the racist views. Ignore out of pocket and unacceptable comments. And if you speak out, you are shamed and seen as disrespectful. It’s a toxic cycle, because it punishes Filipinx Americans for speaking up and having an opinion. We are taught to comply and if you disagree, disagree silently. We are taught that your age is the deciding factor on if your opinion is valid or not. And in turn, basically saying respect comes with age and not earned.

This is the dynamic in a lot of Filipino families. But people shouldn’t get a pass to be racist because they’re older. This closes the door for open conversation and for education to take place. Sometimes conversations aren’t even started because you get the sense that some of these elders are already set in their ways of thinking, and no amount of facts, stats, or common sense can change their minds. So instead, some stay silent because what’s the point of stirring the pot if nobody’s gonna eat it anyways?

The truth is, if you confront an elder Filipinx relative or friend for being racist, they will deny it with all of their being. They are completely oblivious to how their comments, views, and microagressions hurt other people. And when someone responds on the defensive when confronted, it’ll feel like the conversation is going in circles. You can’t force someone to hear you out. Successful conversations only take place when both parties are willing to be open minded. When confronting someone about being racist towards the black community, they may use the excuse that they aren’t racist because they don’t use the “N” word. But there are so many other ways where racism can take root.

And it all stems from self-hate and fear. And that self-hate and fear has been passed down through generations through microagressions. Some traditional conservative Filipinx elders will swear on their graves that they aren’t racist, but when some really stop to think what they were taught when they were younger, there’s no hiding the fact that a lot of what we learned is racist and damaging.

Who you choose as a partner is a big deal in the Filipino culture. I’m pretty sure it’s a big deal in every culture as well, but I can only speak from my own culture. We are taught to look for a successful partner, of the same race preferably so there are cultural similarities, but if not, you better make sure they’re light skinned and rich. Bringing home an African American partner is frowned upon, while bringing home a Caucasian partner is seen as a victory. If your African American partner is successful and making good money, they get less shade points, but you’ll still get the side eye and be the talk of the party behind your back. If you bring home a Caucasian partner, they will be more accepted, and you’ll get looks of approval. A silent “good job” head nod will go around from aunt to uncle. In fact, your relatives will start to awe and woo over your future light skinned children who will *fingers crossed* inherit the “good features” of being white. Also known as, they pray your kid won’t have a Filipino nose.

And that’s an ongoing theme in the Filipino culture. They are so blatantly ashamed of their dark complexion and Filipino features. They have adopted the notion that darker skin is ugly and unwanted, and everyone should strive to be lighter. Lightening soaps and other products are so heavily advertised around the Philippines. They have celebrities swearing by these products, they have doctors on commercials, they have little Filipinx brown kids hating their skin. We are taught from a young age that being dark is something to be ashamed of, it’s something that needs to be “fixed,” while being lighter is the “goal.” But it doesn’t stop at wanting lighter skin. No, this goes deeper than the outside appearance.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my people and I’m proud to be Filipino, don’t get it twisted. I just know that we as a community and as a people are not perfect. There are toxic behaviors and ideals that should not be circulating around anymore. It’s 2020. It’s time to do better, act better, and be better. That being said, a lot of the conservative Filipinx elders try to do just that, in terms of being a model citizen. We as a people work hard, we push ourselves, we try to abide by the rules. Some serve in the military, some go into the police force, some take the route of civil servant. And unfortunately, some believe that their time being served will get them the same perks and treatment as white people. They try their hardest to be model citizens and get the approval of the white man. But the truth is, as a Filipinx in America, you can try as hard as you want to adopt the American culture, try to get their features, act like them, lighten your skin, forget where you came from, but you will never have the same privilege as a white person. We will never be on the same playing field because we are a minority.

We have more in common with our Black and Brown brothers and sisters who are also fighting to be seen as equals. We are all on the same boat, even though some people don’t want to acknowledge it. Instead of tearing our brothers and sisters down, we should link up and put up a united front. Because we are all fighting the same battle. Some groups have it way worse than others, but it is up to us to stand up to the oppressors.

There are some people that genuinely believe that everyone has an equal chance of making it, and that the playing fields are even regardless of your economic background and race. The argument of “if they are not successful, it’s because they chose that life.” Which is somewhat true, but only to an extent. The playing fields are not even, and a lot of systems for people of color, especially black people, is set up so they can fail. And if you can’t see that through which neighborhoods get good school funding, what foods are offered to those who are on a budget, the stats of those incarcerated, I don’t know what to tell you.

Some will argue that this is more of a reason for minorities, especially black people, to work 10 times harder. But the point is, why should they have to work 10 times harder just to make the playing fields even? It shouldn’t be like that. Unfortunately, this is the reality for so many people. It is in our Filipinx privilege that we are not the main targets of oppression and police brutality. However, please don’t get blindsided and think that you are the exception to the rule. You are still a person of color.

I believe a lot of the Filipinx elders are opposed to the idea of standing with the BLM movement because they are misunderstanding what it stands for. So let me make this clear : standing for the BLM movement doesn’t mean you condone looting, it doesn’t mean all cops are bad, and it doesn’t mean that only black lives matter. The older Filpinx mindset is to believe that all the rioters and looters are a part of the protests. I’ve seen some referring to the protesters as “animals,” “barbaric,” and “thugs.” Please, please, please remember your history, and know that these are loaded terms. Never forget that Filipinos were showcased in Zoos for the amusement of others, to show and “prove” that we were barbaric and animalistic. How Americans view Filipinx people has changed and we have came a long way since the 1900’s. But it is time for us to stand in unison with our black brothers and sisters who are still having those labels attached to them to this day.

It is time for Filipinx people to stand and support black lives like they support black culture. For all the undercover racist Filipinx people who take part in these dance challenges to songs by black people, to those who cheer on black people but only when they’re winning your city a championship, to those who try to adopt the fashion, style, and slang, this is a message for you. You can’t love black culture only when it’s convenient for you. You can’t love what black people produce talent wise but leave them hanging when it comes to their rights and lives. You can’t chant “all lives matter” when you know you’re turning a blind eye to black people and their struggle.

Black people are dying every day from police brutality, and we are refusing to let this go on any further. The truth is, a lot of people are pressed about well known businesses burning down, churches, flags, etc. Things that are easily replaceable and essentially mean nothing. The fact that people care more about burning goods than black people’s lives is beyond me. You’re more pressed about people burning flags? Flags that were never meant for them, representing a nation that was never meant for them to be included in, a land they built for free and still get treated like second class citizens? But seeing black and brown people dying, being mistreated, arrested, maced, beaten, etc, is so common to you that you’re basically used to it? It’s truly a shame.

It’s time to have the uncomfortable conversations with family and internet friends. Silence is letting hate breed, especially if you have black people in your own family. Im proud of my Filipinx brothers and sisters who are speaking out against those closest to them, even if it’s difficult. Even if you’re seen as rude, disrespectful, abnoxious.

The generational gap is something we’ve struggled with. But times are different. Our generation are allies to the Black Lives Matter movement and the black community. We are no longer staying silent to appease those who can’t see the bigger picture. Try your best to educate those who are too set in their ways of thinking.

Filipinx for black lives. We stand with you, we see you, we understand your frustration, and we’re here to break the chain of racism you might’ve felt from our community. It’s truly beautiful to see so many people of different backgrounds get together to fight for what is long overdue. So many people are breaking the chain of ignorance, unlearning racist ideals that they grew up on, and educating those around them. But it all starts with breaking the silence.

No Justice, No Peace

Artwork by: Marielle Cabillo

The last week of May 2020 will definitely go down in history. The political climate of America is shifting. The inhumane death of George Floyd is what broke the camel’s back. Thanks to social media, videos of George Floyd pleading for his life while Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck until he suffocated to death, went viral and caught the eyes of many. People’s anger towards law enforcement, the people in power, and the justice system (or lack there of) is beginning to boil over. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that this is all long over due. People are angry, rightfully so, and are desperately fighting for change. How many more black lives will it take for some of you to open your eyes?

I remember I was in the 8th grade when Oscar Grant III, 22, was murdered in 2009. This incident stuck with me since it was so close to home, taking place in Oakland, California. I was so upset when I saw the videos on the news, taking place in the Fruitvale BART station on New Year’s Day. Why was it so hard for grown adults to see that this was murder? And that this was wrong and should’ve never happened? Why was it in plain sight to a 13 year old me – who at the time, didn’t know much about the justice system and in school we were just learning the surface of the injustices African American people have faced – that Oscar Grant’s death was a big deal?

At that age, my outspoken and blunt nature got me in a lot of trouble. I forgot what the conversation was, or how the topic even came about, but suddenly I got the urge to speak up in class. I don’t remember verbatim what I said, but it was along the lines of “Johannes Mehserle killed Oscar Grant, and he should be in jail.” My teacher snapped.

“You have no idea what its like to be a police officer, you don’t know what its like to be under that pressure.”

I tried to argue back, saying that yes, I have no idea what it’s like to be an officer. But I do know that he was mistreated because the color of his skin, and that the police used unnecessary force. If they felt their lives were in danger, wouldn’t you reach for your taser before a gun? And even then it didn’t make sense to reach for anything since Grant was unarmed and on the ground. I was in an argument with a teacher… It was then I realized that regardless if you have valid points, there will be some people out there that will always take law enforcement’s side. Probably because that’s what they were taught, or simply because they never had unjust encounters.

In the Filipino culture, it’s very common to be taught to let things go, or not take things too seriously when an elder has an opposing view. To avoid conflict with family / their elders, many ignore the racist views and comments. We are taught to keep our beliefs to ourselves, and if you disagree, fine, just don’t you dare try to argue it. This has created tension within families, not only in Filipino households, but more so a lot of first generation children. The “disagree but stay hush hush” is something first generation children deal with when it comes to conversations on race and equality.

Getting into journalism was no different. Except this time they called it “being unbiased.” In times of distress, journalists still need to remain neutral and unbiased. This is something I’ve struggled with. It bothered / still bothers me to know that if I were to cover a White supremicist rally, that I would have to remain “neutral” while writing or documenting my piece. And the only time opinions in journalism is “acceptable” is if its an opinion piece. In times of racial tension, staying neutral and silent is the last thing people should be doing.

There are some people out there that act as if racism doesn’t exist. And other times there are people that know racism still exists, but choose to not address it because they’re scared to stir the pot. But turning a blind eye to something so apparent and disgusting helps nobody. No change comes from being silent. This reminds me of first generation children and their age gap with their elders. They know its wrong, but don’t speak up. By avoiding these hard conversations, you give hate and racism space to grow.

And it sucks, because we live in a time where you have to conceal what you believe because it can effect your professional life. I’ve heard countless times in journalism classes that whatever we post can be held against us. If we are seen at a rally, a protest, a march, it can mean losing our job. If we are posting anti-Trump content, giving our opinion on our personal platforms, it can mean losing your credibility as a journalist. Some people have to conceal their identities at the Black Lives Matter rallies because if they are identified, they could be putting themselves in danger. This is part of the problem, that some people have to choose between their job or publically speaking out or showing out for racial inequality.

And then there are some people that act shocked to learn that African American people still get treated like this in 2020. There is a shock factor that we all initially go through when new video footage surfaces of an African American being wrongfully murdered. But to be so baffled about the structures of oppression, the unjust ways of the system, and racism in general, that’s your privilege showing. For those that “can’t believe it,” you are denying the reality of so many individuals. Oh, you can’t believe it? When there are so many black lives that have been taken by law enforcement that we can name multiple victims by name just from the top of our heads? Wake the fuck up. If you’re surprised by everything taking place, its because you’ve been turning a blind eye to your brothers and sisters in oppression.

Like I said, the last week of May 2020 will go down in history. We have all been Sheltering in Place for almost 3 months, and in those 3 months we are bombarded with video footage of more police killings, more black lives being lost, more evidence of people falsely accusing black people of crimes. All. On. Video. This is not hearsay. There are so many videos from this Shelter in Place alone that I couldn’t keep up with it all. Everyday it seems like there is something new, someone else being killed, another cop acting out of hate, another hashtag going around of the newly deceased. This isn’t right.

And being Sheltered in Place only showed everyone’s true colors. Being at home gave us all extra time to keep up with current events. This has been building up over decades, but Sheltering in Place shed light on the broken parts of the system. Everyone’s tired of this shit. When is enough enough? How many more people have to die for actual change to happen?

Covid-19 really put into perspective what’s important to America. When mostly white protesters went against Shelter in Place Orders to have their “freedom” back because they can’t stay inside for the sake of medical field workers to flatten the curve, Trump supported them. Describing them as “very good people” that are angry and want their lives back. But when people protest the murder of one of their own, they are “thugs.” Its all about how the media portrays different groups of people, and when the president is the one to spew out hate, it further divides us as a people. The truth is, George Floyd can never have his life back, because a man who’s duty is to supposedly “protect” decided to end his life.

Why is it when these Trump supporters protest and hold up their “Trump 2020” signs with no masks in the middle of a pandemic, they have a right to protest? But when all races come together to peacefully protest the murder of a black man, a curfew is set, people are being tear gassed, rubber bullets are being shot, and the military is getting involved? The anger has been building up for decades, and we are now just seeing the outcome of people’s wrath.

I saw this tweet going around that stated:

“…Looting is the ultimate strike against a system that deems mass-produced objects to be far more precious than life itself. It is humanity demanding to be recognized.”

I know a lot of people have different views on looting. But to me, under these circumstances, I’m not so easily for it or against it. And I’ll tell you why:

In general, I do not condone looting. I personally wouldn’t do it. I believe peaceful protests will make change, and fighting violence with violence will only give the oppressor the upper hand. I genuinely feel for all the small businesses that have been effected by looters. Covid-19 has already put some businesses in a shitty spot financially, and on top of that to have your businesses broken into or burned down, my heart goes out to them. I feel like small businesses should be excluded from vandalization because it’s not some corporate company with millions of dollars, you’re hurting someone in your neighborhood trying to make a living. And that’s where I definately don’t agree with the looters making small businesses owner’s lives hell, especially with the devastating effect Covid-19 has had on them already.

However, I do see why some people resort to looting big well known companies. People are upset. Years of feeling ignored, unsafe, and dehumanized will take people to that breaking point. I explain it to some people as “I don’t agree, but I understand.” At the end of the day, I’m not black. I don’t know first hand what its like for my people to be the main targets of society. And I recognize that that’s my privilege showing. That’s why who am I to judge how some people grieve? Its true, America values the dollar more than a life. And it shows. “Seeing a black man plead for his life won’t pull at your heart strings? Okay, loosing profit off of your products will though.” Its anger driven, but I understand. And I also understand that majority of these looters are not affiliated with the protests and are just using this situation as a cover up. And to them I say – fuck you, you’re not shedding light on anything and you’re there for the wrong reasons.

I saw the video of CNN reporter Omar Jimenez and his crew getting arrested on live TV with no explanation. Another reporter and her crew got rubber bullets shot at them. Journalists have a right to document and report on these issues. Its so disheartening to see things like this on the news and all over my feed. I’m seeing so many videos of peaceful protesters being sprayed and abused. All I have to say is: THE WORLD IS WATCHING. The true colors of some of these cops are being exposed. You can’t hide behind your uniform anymore, the world sees you, the real you.

It seems like the media focuses more on the violent parts of the protests, not the peaceful side. For the most part, the protests have been peaceful. There are even some videos out there of some officers walking with protesters. Videos of mass gatherings of people having a moment of silence, taking a knee, and human baracades to protect black and brown folks, makes me have hope in humanity.

We have hit the threshold, and now it’s time for change. Now is not the time to be silent. Its time for all races to stand up and fight alongside our black brothers and sisters. Enough is enough. Say it loud and say it unapologetically : BLACK LIVES MATTER πŸ—£

I Hope Your Flowers Bloom

How do you define success, and how will you know when you have it?

Growing up, we all invision what our future will be like. In our daydreams we always think of a happy scenario, the “dream” life, where we’re successful, happy, and probably rich. This prompt is a loaded question, and I thought about how my answer would differ at different stages of my life.

If I were to answer this in 2013, it would be completely different than my answer now. It would probably be along the lines of : stay in college, transfer to San Francisco State, earn my degree, save money. For the longest time, graduating college was the only goal that mattered. And when I finally achieved that goal, that’s when I fell into my post-grad blues.

Keeping my mind on one goal kept me motivated. I wanted it, and I wanted it bad. The thing was though, once I achieved it, I had nothing else to look forward to. What now? I’ve always kind’ve been like that though. I make one goal thee goal, the HBIC of goals at the moment. I do that because I know myself well enough to know that if I overwhelm myself with multiple big goals at a time, I’ll feel swamped with “to do’s.”

So, I do one goal at a time. Graduating college was how I would define success in 2013. And I did it! It is to date the greatest accomplishment I’ve achieved. And I tried to grasp that proud feeling for as long as I could. Because I knew, eventually, the feeling would fade away, and I would have to draft out my next move for success.

And that’s kind’ve where I’m at now. It’s 2020, and my answer to what success is is completely different. Being a college graduate and coming up with my next goal has me stuck. Before this, there always seemed to be a clear path on what to do next. You know, graduate high school, go to college, graduate. All my goals have always been education based. So when I was no longer in the school setting, I had to re-evaluate what my goals were going to be.

You guys have followed me through my post-grad depression journey, and I’m pretty unsure what road to take. There is no “clear” path anymore. The endless possibilities excite most, but to me, I’m overwhelmed. I’m an overthinker, a planner, a whole jumble of nerves and uncertainty.

But one thing that has never changed, it is the fact that I want to remain authentic and true to self. I bring this up to a lot of my close friends. In journalism, you have to work your way up the ladder. I’ve realized while applying to some entry level jobs, that the journalism jobs that are in my range have nothing to do with my end goal. And I apply to some jobs, and after rejection after rejection, 1 job reached out. I was so thrilled that finally something bit back.

After much thought, I didn’t follow through with the next step. Why? Because it had completely nothing to do with what I wanted to use my degree for. It was ironic that I desperately wanted a journalism writing job, but when a writing job came, I couldn’t follow through with it. I was totally capable of the job, it was writing, but more so for a company maintaining their brand. That’s not me. I want to write for a purpose. To inspire. To share stories with meaning.

I don’t ever want to be a sellout for a check. That’s just not me. And sometimes it frustrates me. Because I know I need to work my way up the journalism ladder, but there has to be another way… where I’m starting from the bottom, but still feel fufilled in my writing. That day will come. Hopefully soon.

As clichΓ© as this sounds, success to me nowadays is being happy. Genuinely happy. I want to be happy in life, in my job, in my decisions. Success to me is staying true to myself while being financially stable. Sucess to me is trying and taking chances on things that scare me, because I don’t want to think 20 years from now “what if.” Success to me is keeping up with the people I want to maintain a relationship with. Success to me nowadays isn’t anything material.

Of course, I dream of the day I have a car, own a house, and have a career I love that puts food on the table for my family. Who doesn’t want that? Not those things exactly, but stability and success in general. As I get older, the more I realize this : at the end of the day, as long as I’m happy with my decision, and I remain true to myself, it doesn’t really matter if others think I’m successful or not. Being happy and confident in my decisions is success.

How will I know when I achieve it? This is tough to answer. For me, I feel like I don’t simmer in my success for long. I achieve it, I get it done, and then I scramble onto the next task, the next goal, my next dream. I realized, while trying to answer this prompt, that I don’t celebrate my successes, because I’m too busy stressing over what comes after.

When I graduated, that was pretty easy to determine “when I had it.” I literally got my degree and was finally done with school. I walked those stages and milked my time on Oracle Park’s big screen TV. But its a little tricky to determine success on things that aren’t so black and white.

The thing is, our definition / goal of success is forever changing. My answer today may not be my same answer in 10 years. But I hope it is the same answer since happiness is very important. A part of success is realizing how far you’ve come, and simmering in the moment. That’s something I know I definitely need to work on. Being in the moment and celebrating little victories in life. I get so caught up in the bigger picture that I fear I’ll just keep pushing for the future without looking or realizing I’m knocking out mini goals along the way. I tend to miss the baby steps and just want to fast forward to the top.

But that’s not how it works. Even though that’s how I’ve been dealing with goals. I have the mentality of “well I’ll celebrate and slow down and be happy when everything I want is accomplished.” And I realized that that’s such a sad way of living. Because during all that time, I’m thinking that happiness and being proud of myself will come years down the road. Having “everything together” takes years, and to be honest the list never ends. And then what? I’ll never be happy and proud? bLAck pARty has a song entitled “Bloom,” for which this post is named.

“I hope your flowers bloom,” he repeats and repeats. “I hope you grow up to be everything you want to, I hope your flowers bloom…”

Like flowers, success and fulfilling goals just doesn’t grow over night. You spend days, weeks, months, years, planting your seeds and watering them, caring for them, until your flowers bloom. That’s the same for goals. You just don’t achieve great things over night. You have to work towards them, baby step by baby step. And we should acknowledge those baby steps.

As I grow older, I’m realizing that the most important thing is true happiness. Money don’t mean shit if you feel like shit inside. For me, the job that can pay me 6 figures ain’t shit if I feel like a corporate sellout and that I’m losing sense of my values and beliefs. I have a vision of what kind of writer I want to be. My success may come with struggle – oh, it’ll definitely come with struggle – but as long as I feel fulfilled in my work, and I feel like my purpose is being served, that’s all that really matters to me. Of course, we all want to be successful and make money. But not at the expense of my happiness.

These flowers have been blooming and growing in my backyard for as long as I can remember. Today, I went outside to take a picture of them for this blog. I asked my dad, “how long have these been here?!” For I haven’t really noticed them or remembered them being this vibrant and plentiful growing up.

“They’ve always been there!” My dad said, “You just probably never noticed because the bushes were always in the way.”

He cut down the bushes in our backyard during the Shelter in Place. He’s right. I knew the flowers were there, I just never really noticed or cared about them my 25 years of living in this house. But since my dad cut out the bushes, I noticed how abundant the flowers were. The flowers had more room to grow, to flourish, to bloom. Over the years, sometimes they bloomed, and sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes they weren’t getting water, sometimes the weather wasn’t agreeing (that happens in the very foggy Bay Area), but sometimes, everything aligns and these flowers bloomed.

The bushes my dad cut down blocked these growing flowers for the longest. Its all I ever saw from my bedroom window. Today, I stepped out into our backyard for the first time in a hot minute. I saw plants that were once so tiny, tower over my parents as they fried fish in the backyard. I saw everything that the bushes were covering all these years. All these plants and flowers blooming and growing this whole time. That’s how I feel about the mini baby goals we crush to achieve our main goal. They get overshadowed by the big main bitch – the bushes – and nobody really stops to look past and see that what was once a seed is now growing and flourishing.

I hope the same for not only myself, but for all my readers. I hope whatever goals you are planting and watering, working towards everyday, I hope you achieve it. And when you achieve it, I hope you celebrate how far you’ve come. I hope your flowers bloom. πŸ₯€πŸŒΈ

Teaching Preschoolers on Zoom!

My alarm goes off at 8 AM, I pick up my phone and slide the alarm off. I look at any notifications I may have, and scroll through social media. I might even Google something random that I think of. Had this been 3 months ago, I would not have the luxury to chill in bed and look through my phone at 8 AM. Around 8:20, I finally get out of bed and get ready to start my Zoom classes.

Yes, you read that right. My Zoom classes with my 2 year old students. I lazily make my bed, and walk up the stairs to brush my teeth. I’m usually greeted by my mom, who is also working from home. In fact, everyone in my family is home. I quickly eat something right before my class. I’m usually not a breakfast person, but once my Zoom classes are over, I try to go back to sleep until it’s time for lunch. Why? Because I can.

My janky laptop, that I’ve had since 2013, only works when it’s plugged into the outlet. And even then, my poor shot dead battery reads, “Plugged in, not charging 0%.” This Shelter in Place made me realize how I need to stop lagging on getting a new laptop. My camera quality on this laptop is so pathetic, but I make do.I used to do my Zoom classes in the living room, but our WiFi is so bad there, that I had no choice but to do them from my room. I would literally freeze, or I’d have robot voice. The look of confusion on my students’ faces tell me that im probably frozen. The first week of Zoom classes, I did them upstairs in the livingroom. And without fail, after every class, my mom would come out of the room, pausing her work flow, just to mimic the songs I just sang with the kids. Haha! These are crazy times!

It’s been almost 3 months of Sheltering in Place in the Bay Area. In the beginning of this lockdown mid-March, I was relieved because this was the break I so desperately needed. Sleeping in was so nice, we didn’t start live Zoom classes until April. I had so much free time on my hands I didn’t know what to do. But as the Shelter in Place kept getting extended, I started to follow a routine. Zoom classes, go back to sleep, eat lunch, watch paranormal shows on TV, do 1 on 1 Zoom chats if I have someone signed up, go for a walk, shower, dinner, watch more TV, fall asleep on the couch, and make my way down to my room around 2 AM.

The Shelter in Place got extended twice, and here we are more than half of May done, not knowing if it will be extended once again. Its crazy to think that by the time everything opens up again, 2020 will be atleast halfway over. Its been so long, I can’t picture myself going back into my pre-COVID-19 routine. I’ve adjusted to this Shelter in Place gracefully. I’m already a homebody as it is. So when the Governor says “Stay at home unless you absolutely have to…” I’m like… say no more, sir.

Since this Shelter in Place, a lot of the parents from the school have expressed their gratitude to me and all the other teachers. Everyone knows that being a teacher is not an easy task. There are good days and bad days. Especially dealing with 12 kids 5 and younger, a lot of the times you find yourself with your hands full. Being Sheltered in Place with their child/children, has given some parents more insight on being an early childhood educator.When we decided on doing live Zoom classes, I will admit that I was a little skeptical. How was I going to capture the attention of 8 two year olds in each Circle Time class? Getting all of them to sit still and participate in person is challenging as it is, how much more through the computer?

“If anything,” I thought, “These daily Zoom classes will keep the structure that they know from school, while letting them see their friends and teachers faces.”

I had to switch up my teaching style to convert to the online world. Muting everyone is a must, raising hands and thumbs up and thumbs down are our new norms, me speaking in Dora the Explorer fashion (asking questions and pausing, reading their muted lips through the video screen) was kind’ve awkward at first. But we all had to adjust.Nobody expected the Shelter in Place to last this long. We are almost 3 months deep into social distancing.

Yes, that’s a long time for us adults, but for young children, this must be a lifetime to them. I imagine what it will be like once we go back to school. Almost 3 months of not being at the school will be like their first day of school all over again. So it’s nice that we get to see each other over Zoom.

We have also been writing letters back and forth with our pen pals. We divided up the school roster among the teachers, and have been keeping in touch with our penpals since April. Its so sweet to read what they want to share with their teacher, and what they look forward to.At the end of April, when we were hit with another Shelter in Place extension, we decided to switch it up. Our Zoom classes were going well, but we felt like we should add another component. That is when I suggested doing one on ones – having students sign up to talk to any teacher on Zoom to have a video call. By taking away the learning component, and just having a casual conversation between teacher and student (most of the time with a parent), we hoped that this would help our school community feel more connected. This proved to be a hit.

In one of my Zoom calls, my 4 year old student told me all the things she’s been doing since Shelter in Place. I was telling her how I’ve been spending my time, and how I miss her and all her friends. Since this was the first week of the Zoom 1 on 1 calls, I brought up how nice it was to talk to her 1 on 1.

“I like how I can talk to you and have a conversation with just me and you!” I told her.

“Yeah! And I like how both of our mics are turned on!” She replied eager and happy.

When she said that my heart melted. This is the new norm for my students. And since she is one of the older students, she is aware of the pandemic, why school isn’t in session, and why we have to learn through the computers. It made me sad when she said that, just because we are living in such a different time. Kids this age shouldn’t be refrained from talking and sharing their thoughts. But essentially that’s what we have to do when we mute the kids. We don’t do it for malicious reasons, but for the simple fact that sometimes there would be more than 15 kids attending a class, and the background noise just gets to be too much and too distracting. These memories and way of life will truly go down in our history books. She’ll grow up to tell her peers, “hey, remember in 2020 when we had to sign up for Zoom Circle Time classes when we were 4?”

Another student I had a 1 on 1 conversation with, is 5 years old. We can carry out a real conversation for maybe hours. But since these are scheduled chats, she knows she has a time limit. In the middle of showing me her toys, she cuts herself off…

“Marinelle, how many more minutes do I have left?” She said gently knowing that I would possibly have another meeting right after.

All these questions and responses pulling at my heart strings! I felt pretty sad that she even had to ask that question, that this is the current situation we’re in. Little did she know, I didn’t have anyone else scheduled, and was letting her take up as much time as she wanted.

Since I’m teaching the youngest of our preschoolers (2 and younger), they don’t understand what’s going on. Most of their side comments when they raise their hand for me to mute their mics are just little random sweet nothings. But I’m okay with that and its honestly the cutest thing. I will literally be in the middle of a lecture of whatever it is that I’m teaching, and someone will raise their hand. I unmute their mic and ask them what they would like to share with the class.

“Dinosaur! T-Rex! Roarrrrr!”

“Look at my lovey elephant!”

“I love pancakes!”

Everything totally irrelevant to the topic at hand, but oh soooo sweet! Kids really do say the darnest things. And if anything, I’m always left with a smile on my face or laughing out of cuteness or randomness.

Its been a challenge to keep my 2 year olds engaged. I have to think of new ways to spark their interest. I’ve found the reward system is really helpful. My kids love them some felt stories! I always tell them in the begining of the class what we have planned, and if we do very well during our learning component, we will get a very special felt story. Kids love the simple things. And it could seriously be the same felt story everyday, and they’ll still be interested. Its something to look at, something to sing along to, something familiar from school.When I see that they’re restless, I like to call on each of them at any given moment for them to answer a question. It keeps them on their toes, and they like the opportunity to be unmuted and share with all their friends. These are definitely some trying times – where my creativity as a teacher is being tested.

Two weeks ago I logged onto my first live Circle Time class. One student joined the class, and set up “Teachers plant the seed of knowledge that lasts a lifetime!” “PHK Teachers rock!” A second student joined in, excitedly telling me she drew me something- a green heart with “Thank you Teachers!” I was so confused and surprised. I thanked them and told them how much I loved their kind gestures. When I signed onto my second Circle Time, I was greeted with more love.

“Teaching is HEART work, thank you! We miss you!”

“Thank you Teachers!”

“Thank you!” With a beautiful flower

“Thank you! I miss you.”

” ‘Why do you love your teachers?’ ‘Because they give me lunch.’ ”

My heart! Seeing all these signs (literally all to the screen at the same time) gave me an overwhelming feeling of love and appreciation. I took pictures of my screen, but won’t share because it has my students’ faces in it. But I was so surprised that I wanted to cry. I didn’t even know that it was teacher appreciation day/week, but I definitely felt the love and gratitude through the screen. I told them (even though they’re 2) that I felt like it was a surprise party for me and I was so happy I wanted to cry. I – who by the way, am horrible at receiving surprises – said “wait…… I’m so confused, did y’all plan this or something 😭🀣.”

Teaching is not an easy job. There are some days where I feel defeated and wish I had more patience, or handled a situation differently. But at the end of the day, its moments like these that make me feel so fufilled as a teacher. Especially with Sheltering in Place, the parents have expressed their gratitude and appreciation more often. Its funny, before each vacation break we have, parents will always say goodbye with “you deserve this break. I don’t know how you guys do it.”

Being a teacher is hard work, but so rewarding. Especially at the age that I’m working with. They’re so funny, energetic, and hyped for everything. I made them a tooth project by hand and drew all the food, and they were so hyped for the different snacks I drew. I miss hearing “byeeee, love ya!” “I love you, Marinelle.” “You’re so funnyyy!” And all the random things I between.

During this Shelter in Place, several of my students have asked me to come over their house to play 🀣. “Maybe one day when Coronavirus is over, you can come to my house.” “Maybe my mom can set up a playdate so you can come to my house.” “Maybe you can come over one day so we can play this game!” I must be doing something right if I have multiple playdate offers. Hahahaahha.

Mother’s Day 2020

“You’re exactly like your mom.”

“You’re mom’s twin.”

“You act just like mom.”

Growing up I would retaliate with “noooo!” being that I wanted to be my own person. But now that I’m older, I realize now that I am definitely my mother’s child.

I’m proud to say that I’m the outspoken woman that I am because of my mom. Growing up, she always taught my sisters and I to stand up for ourselves, speak up, and never let anyone fuck with you. She hates to admit it, but our smart mouths and witty responses are all thanks to her. We just all turned out to be her mini me’s.

Mother’s Day 2020 looked really different this year. Usually, we flood our parents room in the morning with our gifts for our mom. Then we all get ready to make the 1 pm mass, and celebrate with a Mother’s Day lunch just us 5 after church. Around dinner time we would head to Tatay’s house where we would celebrate with all my cousins, aunts, and uncles. This has been a tradition for as long as I can remember. Due to the pandemic, we had to celebrate differently.

For starters, none of our Mother’s Day presents came in on time. The present I bought didn’t give me a tracking number for 2 weeks. I saw the ad on Instagram and should’ve read the comments first! All the comments claim that it’s a scam – no one recieved their product. I was so mad I found the real website and ordered it again. Neither came in time. And my sisters’ orders also have yet to arrive because of the pandemic back up.

None of us had gifts to give, church is closed, restaurants can’t be dined in, and we haven’t been to Tatay’s in over 2 months to protect his health – being that he’s 96. It sucked to think that Mother’s Day 2020 was going to be a flop, given that our mom deserves all that and the bag of chips.

We ended up having a takeout crab lunch at home – roasted crab, garlic noodles, chicken wings, prawns, and veggies. And of course our meals wouldn’t be complete without boba. Our mom was happy and most importantly she felt special on her day.

Its so easy to overlook the work a mother does on the daily. My mom has done her duty as a mother non-stop since my older sister was born. Her being a hardworking mom is all we know her to be, its so routine and second nature that sometimes we hardly notice how hard she works for our family.

When I was still a stressed out college student, there were many times where I wanted to just skip class and not care. My mom and dad were all I could think about. I know that all they ever wanted was for my sisters and I to get that degree. My parents have sacrificed so much for us, and that was my driving force to complete school. And honestly, everything. I dream of the day where I can pay it all back. Because they’ve always worked hard for us, never made excuses, always busted their asses.

Growing up my mom would always hit us with the infamous, “Bahala ka / Bahala ka sa buhoy mo” (Do you what you want / Do what you want with your life). This phrase is no stranger to Filipino children growing up. Its usually said in a petty, passive aggressive tone. It could have you in tears at the drop of a dime. When you hear that phrase, that’s how you know your parent is thoroughly over you 🀣. But as a mother, I know that she’ll always want what’s best for us. And hearing that phrase all my life has humbled me to choose the right path, use my head, and think of how my actions can effect my family. But also catching her bluff, knowing that my mom would never turn her back on us.

Another saying my mom would tell us growing up when we would be arguing – yes, it ain’t always rainbows and clouds over here – is the saying “You’ll know when you become a mother.” And as I grow older, I’m starting to understand more. Its true. I don’t really understand yet because I haven’t taken on the mother role and have kids of my own. But I do know that when I have kids and raise them how my parents raised me, I’ll definitely find myself repeating this phrase to them.

My mom is everything I aspire to be one day. And even though this Mother’s Day looked a little different this year due to COVID-19, it was still a celebration. We ate food, drank boba, and ended the day watching the new episode of 90 Day Fiance. In our family, we don’t share our feelings, we show it through action. My mom’s acts of service for the whole family, her selflessness, and the sacrifices she has made for her children to have a better life does not go unnoticed.

“You’re just like your mom,” is now a phrase I’ve learned to take pride in. My mom is hard working, loyal, and always putting our family first. Even though we’re all getting older, no one’s love will ever come close to a mother’s love for her 3 “prinsesas.” LOL.

To the woman that holds us all down, Happy Mother’s Day, Queen! Just like your presents – your post is late πŸ€ͺπŸ’˜

I Saw The Sign

Is going with the flow and letting things fall into place equivalent to doing nothing?

This is the question I have sat on this whole weekend.

To me, the quick and simple answer is no. Letting things naturally fall into place doesn’t mean you are being neglectful or careless. But, of course, going with the flow is easier said than done. This is something I find hard to do a lot of the time. Why?

Because I follow a plan. Not a strict one of course, but to some extent I’ve built out the skeleton of how I plan my life to be. And when things don’t go according to plan, I feel like I’m losing control and I feel lost and stuck. Is this way of thinking detrimental to my mental health? As you can see, answering these questions have only brought up more questions for me to answer.

Why is it that when someone does not have a plan, they are seen as irresponsible? While someone who does have a plan but gets thrown a curveball and freezes at the shock of things falling out of line is seen as unprepared? For both scenarios one thing remains true – you can never fully plan out or predict the outcomes of your life.

I’ve always been taught to have a plan, to not just do something for the sake of wanting to do it. I’ve also been taught to exhaust all possibilities – the good and the bad. And this is where I find myself stuck. Constantly outweighing the pros and the cons of every major situation/ life decision causes me to over-think, over-worry, over-analyze every possible detail and scenario, that I close myself off. And then I’m stuck. Stuck not knowing what to do, do you make a drastic change, or do you do “nothing” and let things go on the way they’ve always been? “Don’t try to fix what isn’t broken,” is the closest thing to my mentality.

But, that also means that there is no room for growth or improvement. Is staying where you’re most comfortable the best choice? I beg this question because I don’t know myself. Of course, it seems like the obvious answer is along the lines of: No! Without a little discomfort there is no growth!

But how do you know when it’s the right time to let go of your comfort zone? Does the right time even exist?

There are obvious answers, like the right time to buy a car. You have to make sure you have the consistent funds, the license, and the need for a vehicle. Most people don’t just decide they want a car and go pick it up. You have to do your research, see what your options are, and make sure you plan accordingly. Obviously, if you don’t have the funds, don’t have the license, or the urgent need for a car, it wouldn’t be “the right time” to purchase a vehicle.

I like to call this my “stalking,” phase. When I want something, usually that something will take out a great chunk out of my wallet, like a new phone, laptop, makeup, or clothing. I don’t usually spend my money on stuff (it’s mostly food when I hangout with friends and Uber), so when I do, I make sure its what I really want. If its an electronic item, I watch YouTube reviews, unboxings, reviews, and stalk the shit out of it for months. I make sure this is an item I really want, I take into consideration people’s pros and cons. Once I feel like I’ve stalked enough and I’m ready to buy it, I will save up the funds. All the while, keeping a close watch on possible sales, discounts, etc. That is true for me right now as I plan to buy a new laptop. The one I have right now is so beyond dead, only works when it’s plugged into the outlet, and heavy as rocks. I already have my eyes on a particular laptop, and when I get in the buying/stalking mood, I do my research. All of a sudden I know all the features and aspects as if I’m a computer wizard- which I’m totally fucking not.

That is the same for when I buy clothes or look at expensive makeup products to buy. About a month ago, I knew that the Rogue sale was coming up for Sephora. My sister is a Rogue member, meaning she gets 20% off of her purchases. This is a big deal, and these sales are usually when we stock up and figure out what we want. Being Sheltered in Place, I had all the time to stalk all the products I wanted. When I’m telling you I read maybe more than 150 pages of product reviews, I’m not kidding. What throws me off sometimes though, is when there’s a couple of 1 star reviews but the rest are 5. But anyways, I take into consideration all the information handed to me. Then, I look at reviews from different sites (sometimes they’ll just post the reviews from that brand’s actual website and I feel like I’m being played.) Not only will I go through multiple sites, I’ll ask friends if they’ve ever used it, then I’ll turn to YouTube videos. I guess its the journalist in me, to try to get all the information to make a decision for myself. I weigh out all the possible pros and cons and see if its worth my coin. But at the end of the day, regardless of the reviews, its up to me whether I want to buy it or not. And all those reviews can be completely useless if my skin reacts a different way.

My point is, this behavior just doesn’t stop at shopping. This way of thinking applies to my actual life as well. When I have a goal, I do the same. I try to talk to people who have achieved that goal, have the same goal, or are in the same track as me. I want to know what actions they are taking and what their plan is/was, so we can bounce back ideas and I can kind’ve see what my path should look like. Once I’ve heard the stories of successful people in the industry, and know how my peers have gotten their foot in the door, I’m left to make a decision for myself. In other words, I get the “reviews” in real life. I’m interested in people’s stories – how’d you get to this point? Was this the path you’ve always wanted? How should I go about making moves in the right direction? How’d you overcome the hurdles? Any advice?

But, at the end of the day, its my life. Its my path. I can interview all the people I want and ask for their advice, but our circumstances are different, our journeys are different, our priorities are different, so our paths will be different. Knowing this information, I still ask for advice from those around me, those I trust, those who are going through the same thing. But deep down I know that my life decisions depend on me.

When I feel like I’m in a crossroad, I’m that friend that will vent about it until a decision is made. And sometimes, a decision isn’t made at all, and I choose to do “nothing.” But I feel like there’s a thin line between going with the flow and letting everything fall into place vs. not doing anything. How do you know when the time is right? How do you know when its time to act?

And I guess I just don’t trust my judgment. I’m so afraid to make the wrong move – career wise, decision wise, and life wise. I’m terrified to make a move in the wrong direction, that I end up not even making a move. How can things fall into place if I keep dodging them? Is “going with the flow” and “letting things naturally fall into place,” my excuse for being too afraid to make a confident decision for myself?

And my argument sometimes is : I’ll know the right time when I see it. And sometimes, I’ll even ask God/ the Universe for a sign to point me in the right direction. And if I don’t recieve those signs, was it just not meant to be?

If I see a butterfly, I’ll know that’s Mama coming to me telling me everything will be okay.

If I save X amount of money by this time in the year, it’s a sign that I’m financially ready to move out.

If I dream about XYZ that must mean its a sign to ____

If I don’t get a job offer by ___, that’s a sign that I should ____.

And the list goes on. Its like I’m playing a guessing game with myself. For the most part, I will say I do believe in signs when its so blatantly in front of your face. But what if there are no signs? What if you just have to make a decision without really knowing where either decision will take you? What if no sign is the sign? Or what if there’s no signs at all and I’m just looking into coincidences to justify decisions in my life? How will I know? When is the right time for anything?

If ya’ll are annoyed with my questions, just know that I’m even more annoyed with me, because these questions roam around in my head daily. But I will answer the first question in this blog post. In case you forgot what it was since I asked like 30 questions, let me refresh your brain:

Is going with the flow and letting things fall into place equivalent to doing nothing?

Like most of my answers, nothing is ever black or white with me. I don’t think going with the flow and letting things naturally fall into place is equivalent to doing nothing. But I do think that with time, hoping things fall into place and seeing that its not, and still choosing not to act is equivalent to doing nothing. Not saying its a bad thing, especially since a lot of people can relate. Not knowing the right move is scary. But I’ve learned that if you’re waiting for a sign and the right time to act on something, that sign may not ever come. And it all comes down to what you believe in and what you’re confident in. But if you yourself aren’t confident in the decision, then you’ll always be stuck waiting for that sign, waiting for things to fall into place. But how can things fall into place when you yourself won’t allow it? In this scenario, which came first, the chicken or the egg turns into : which came first, the sign or the action?

Not knowing where a decision will take you is scary. Thinking of all the possible cons that can go wrong is also terrifying. As I get older though, I’m stuck wondering which is scarier: making the wrong decision, or not making a decision at all?

Shelter in Place Diaries – Marinelle

Before this Shelter in Place, I complained about not having enough time to practice self-care, do hobbies, or have a moment to relax and just be. It seemed like there were never enough hours in the day. I found myself falling into routine, and I had to find ways to switch up my week. That included spontaneous taco truck trips with my girls, meeting up for dinner with friends I haven’t seen in a while, and some more meet ups with friends in a food setting. Sometimes though, the best plans were no plans at all. I’m such a homebody, and knowing I could go straight home and relax after work was something I got excited about. It seemed like that was becoming my life story – the girl who never had enough time.

And then COVID-19 happened. And all I can say is wow. I definitely did not see this coming. And now, the girl who craved to be at home with no plans, is literally at home with no plans. Its as if Mother Earth heard my silent pleas for a break. Yo, Mother Earth, thanks but no thanks, you did it in the most fucked up way, but here we are, and I have no choice but to accept it. And now, I have plenty of time to do some of the things my heart desires, from home that is.

When all of this was first going down, I thought of the Shelter in Place Diaries series immediately. I knew I wanted to show how some people were using their time during Shelter in Place. What we are living through right now with this pandemic will probably be in history books. I picture myself being a wise grandma talking about, “back in my day during the COVID-19 pandemic, I spent my time… blah blah.”

I tried my best to reach out to different types of people to get different view points of your everyday Californian. From a single young woman living alone in San Jose and working from home, a mother having to find different approaches to teaching her 3 year old son in SoCal, an aspring rapper and producer in the Bay Area, a fitness coach having to convert all of his in-person classes to Zoom sessions in Elk Grove, to me – a writer / professional overthinker doing Zoom meetings with 2 year olds in Daly City.

I not only wanted to share my story, but my struggles as well. If you’ve been following me or have been a reader of mine for a while, you will know that I stress the importance of being transparent and real. In the era of social media and faking it till we make it, I want to be that voice that speaks the truth, and let people know it’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to not be 100% all the time. It’s okay to be honest with yourself and not put up a front for others – whether that be on social media or real life. Not everyone has it together. And anyone that seems like they do, probably don’t. And for those reasons, I decided to document my Shelter in Place Diaries.

To be completely honest, I was on the fence about doing an episode on myself. There where times where I thought about deleting the videos I recorded, or just not doing it at all. But I knew that if I could ask someone to document about a week of their Shelter in Place for MY blog, that I should be able to do it as well. So, I decided to follow through and give you guys a glimpse into my Body Positive journey.

I find myself on my phone more, now that I have all this free time. Like I explained on my videos, sometimes roaming through social media can open up someone’s box of insecurities. And sometimes, you need to find a way to pull yourself out of that dark place before you’re stuck feeling like shit about yourself. I imagine that this Shelter in Place is tough for anyone who struggles / has struggled with body dysmorphia, eating disorders, or abusive self-talk.

I don’t take the “quarantine weight gain” jokes seriously or to heart, but I do understand that that can be a trigger for someone who is struggling with self-love. As a foodie, I’m out here chilling at home, ordering from UberEats and doing takeout to support local businesses, eating all my quarantine snack, and most likely gaining weight.

People turn to food for different reasons, whether that be for pleasure, to self-sooth, stress eating, emotional eating, or maybe even out of boredom. If you are overeating, it is okay. Its not the end of the world. If you’re gaining weight, it is okay, and your outward appearance does not define you. If you haven’t put on real clothes in weeks, that’s probably a sign that you’ve been complying with stay at home orders, and I applaud you! If you don’t like the person you’re becoming during Shelter in Place, find activities, TV shows, home workouts, or find small improvements that you can make to better your stay at home experience.

For me, that was drinking atleast 96 oz of water everyday, and going on an hour neighborhood walk. I was binge eating, and once I started recording what I ate on my food diary, I realized I was just eating because I had nothing else to do. I didn’t want to restrict myself from eating what I wanted, so instead, I would try to incorporate more fruit and water into my diet. Drinking a lot of water kept me from wanting to eat everything in sight, but also help keep my face clear.

I also practiced a lot of makeup looks, because for once I wasn’t on a time crunch. I cleaned my room, I did these projects for my blog, and I catched up on my Avatar books. But there were also days where I did absolutely nothing. And I appreciate those days as well because pre-COVID-19, I didn’t have the luxury to be chillin when I pleased. So I’m definitely trying to take advantage of my lazy days.

I made it a point to not put pressure on myself to create, to clean, to workout, to read, etc. My life before this was so routine-based. It feels good to do things on my time and when I feel like it. Originally, I thought this Shelter in Place was going to only last 3 weeks. But now knowing more information about COVID-19 and how it spreads it will most likely be a couple of months. I never would’ve thought that I would have this much time to create / work from home / be home. And I’ll probably never get this opportunity again. Its a good time to reflect, create when I want to, and map out future goals.

Thank you all so much for following my journey and supporting me! Truly means a lot! Here are my Shelter in Place Diaries: