Cheering Them On

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Abdallah first met Gabriella on the SFSU cheer team. At first, Abdallah was interested in someone else who encouraged him to join the team. However, things kicked off for Abdallah and Gabriella 2 months later where they went to a cheerleading competition in LA and had to share a bed. On the car ride home, they sat next to each other and talked the whole way through. When they got back to San Francisco Abdallah asked if he could take her on an official date. The rest is pretty much history.

Abdallah is Filipino and Egyptian, so his father is strongly against him dating Gabriella because their religion. But Gabriella’s family is accepting of Abdallah. Her mom adores him.It was hard for Gabriella because she at least wanted his father to meet her first and then make judgement from there, but he is against the whole relationship.

While living at home, Abdallah was tired of having to be home by a certain time because of his parents’ strict rules. He told his father face to face that he was dating Gabriella, and his dad was not having it.
“So we were both taking about moving out, but not with one another,” Abdallah said. “By now we’ve been dating for a year or more. We both had our own group of people we were going to move in with but both our plans just started to fall out. Before we knew it we were the only 2 people and ended up moving in together.”

Telling his parents was not easy. His dad was furious that he was moving out, and on top of that with the girlfriend that did not share the same religion as them. His dad refused to talk to him or a few weeks, and Abdallah didn’t want to talk to him either because his dad wasn’t calm.

It has been a few months since he has moved out and his relationship with his dad has gotten better. His dad wants him to move back home, but Abdallah is on the fence because he wants to save money if he were to move back home, but the couple both feel like it would be a step back from all the progress they accomplished already.

Abdallah and Gabriella are both totally in love with each other. So whatever happens with the living situation, they are confident they will make it work.

When I asked Abdallah what he would do if his parents never accepts the relationship and are not supportive in the future if they want to get married he said, “If I want to marry her, I’m gonna marry her.”

Sac State

“We both worked at sprouts doing crap jobs while in school,” Laurelyn said when I asked  how her and Christian met.”Then we both quit…we started dating after being friends for a little. Christian really wanted to be a cop and get his bachelors but school stressed him out hella hard. I don’t want to sound like I’m giving myself too much credit but I am a super good student and I feel like it rubbed off on him. But mostly he just hella wanted to be a cop so he pushed through. And now we are going to Sac!”

Christian and Laurelyn have been together for almost 3 years. They first started dating when Laurelyn was 18 and Christian was 22. Since they’ve been together, both have been pushing themselves to transfer out of the Petaluma community college and into a 4 year college.

Finally that time has come. Fall 2016 Christian and Laurelyn will be moving to Sacramento to attend Sac State together. They’re excited to get a place together.

“Christian really wanted to go to sac for their criminal justice program and I’m just hitching along since I didn’t really care where I went,” Laurelyn said. “We’ve been dating for almost three years so I’m definitely ready to move out and have our own space. It’s definitely going to be weird though and it’s a big step. We will probably get in more fights…but in a good way of that makes sense. My parents are totally cool with it. They love Christian. Probably the only thing they aren’t thrilled with is that I’m tagging along and not going to one of the better colleges for my major. But honestly I don’t care I don’t want to do long distance period.”

Laurelyn’s parents love Christian but like she said, they aren’t thrilled that she didn’t pick a school based on her major but more so that she didn’t have to be away from Christian. His parents on the other hand would prefer that he be with Laurelyn. They are thrilled that he has made it to a 4 year college and has Laurelyn there for support. Christian’s family adores Laurelyn, she gets along with all his cousins and his aunts and uncles love her. She has really been his saving grace.

Laurelyn’s biggest fear is the grocery list. Christian has an appetite of about 3 grown men and will down any meal with no remorse. She joked (or maybe she’s serious) that they would have separate grocery lists and she would label which food is hers in the fridge. Other than that, They’re so excited to start this new chapter in their lives.

Christian took a while to pick a major and follow through with it, while balancing out school, work, and a social life. So now finally transferring to a 4 year college, he is ready to move out of the house. And he’s even happier that his roommate will be someone he loves and who has helped push him.

So what’s next after they graduate? Laurelyn said her parents are already asking Christian when they’re going to get married. Lol stay tuned for a possible part 2 blog post on these 2 lovers!

Mr. & Mrs. Cruz

Amberly and JT met and started dating when they were 16. The first time JT met Amberly he told his friend, “I’m gonna marry her.” Through many bumps in the road, they managed to stay together because their love for each other was stronger than the outside drama that was going on around them.

On their 8 year anniversary, JT popped the question, and in 2012, they officially became Mr. and Mrs. Cruz.

They waited a little over a year after getting married to start trying for a baby. On Thanksgiving 2014 they announced to their families that they were expecting.

Devastating news hit Amberly and JT when the doctor informed them that their baby girl was developing a mass in her lungs. At that point Amberly was still pregnant and blaming herself. She was thinking it was because of her that the baby had a mass in her lungs, she thought maybe it was something she ate or her trip to the Philippines that caused it.

Aly was born June 2015, and February 2016 she got the surgery regarding the mass in her lungs. She is happy, healthy, and always smiling.

“It was amazing to see how the roles changed between us,” Amberly said. “We’ve been together for almost 13 years and I was always the “strong one”… Like I’d know what to do or say in a situation and usually be the one to keep JT at ease. But when I found out Aly had a mass in her lungs and will need surgery, I was a mess! I was (and still am) constantly worrying/ paranoid. JT was my rock throughout everything. He listened to me, consoled me, and even handled the paperwork for her surgery, usually I handle everything but it was too much for me.”

Having a baby brought the couple closer together, and when life tested them, they stood by each other and consoled one another. The birth of their daughter has brought so much joy to their lives.

“It was really comforting to see the change in JT,” Amberly said. “Usually he’s quiet and I have to be the one to ALWAYS be strong. It was nice to let my emotions flow and have my husband be my rock throughout everything. As corny as it sounds, we are a team and I’m really lucky to have such a strong support system.”

The Skateboard

Alex Bautista and Mark Navarro have been dating since the 8th grade! They have literally grown up with each other and hit milestones in life together.

Mark enjoys skating, and it has been his hobby for a while. He was even skating in the 8th grade when he met Alex. She really liked that he could skate and they hit it off from there.

Fast forward almost 6 years later and they both have grown so much since the first time they met each other, that they look back and reminisce on how skating really helped their relationship.

“We obviously didn’t drive back then, so he would skate to my house to come see me,” Alex said.

When she said that Mark laughed, “Yeah on that big hill!”

Without his skateboard Mark would have to travel great distances to make it to Alex’s house ( which by the way is in a gated community that sits on the steepest hill of all!). They attended different high schools and Alex remembers how Mark would skate to her house and be there by the time she got home. That’s pretty hard for a couple of teenagers that are trying t maintain a relationship with no means of transportation.

They both plan to move to San Jose together next fall where Alex will be attending SJSU and Mark will be attending a nearby community college. They are excited to finally get their own little place together and be more independent.

Mark works a lot now a days and doesn’t skate as often as he used to. But they like to look back at how far they have come along and it wouldn’t be possible without Mark’s skateboard.

 

The Workout

Chris Barous is a Skyline student that frequently works out at the gym. His love for fitness originated after the break up with his long time girlfriend.

After Chris’s deployment in the Army, he moved to the Bay Area to be with his girlfriend. He left everything he knew in Florida, the place where he grew up. Chris told me that he didn’t know anyone else in the Bay Area besides his girlfriend, who then turned into his ex girlfriend.

Chris thought the gym would be a great outlet to let out all of his stress and get his mind off of the break up. He thought the first step would be to work on his appearance, to build his self confidence again.

Working out not only makes him feel good health wise, but also on the outside. He stays and works out at the gym on average from 1-2 hours everyday.

One word of advice that Chris had to offer me was: “Don’t move anywhere for anyone. Make sure it’s for you and not just for the other person. Don’t make the same mistake I did.”

 

 

The Photograph

**Nancy, I know you said to focus on people that I don’t know, but I promise I will do that AFTER this post… this is a story I HAVE to tell.**

My dad’s mom died over 50 years ago in the Philippines while giving birth to her 8th child. Unfortunately my grandma and aunt both passed away. My grandpa was left with 7 kids, 2 of which were under the age of 7.

Decades passed and my grandpa was alone. He is now 92 years old, going on 93 this July. A little over 10 years ago he remarried. For so long he was alone and single, longing for companionship.

My family, aunts & uncles, & their kids that are free, go to my grandpa and step-grandma’s house every other Sunday. It’s a great way for the family to remain close and for my grandpa to see his kids, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

One Sunday my aunt brought old pictures. She showed me and my cousins our grandmother, who none of us ever got to meet. My aunt was saying how she thinks she looks so much like her mother and how her other 2 sisters also share some features. There are only a couple of photos I’ve seen of my grandma, so my first thought was to take a picture of the photo.

My grandpa wasn’t really paying attention, he’s 92, so he’s always just chillin’ minding his business. My sisters and I like to show our grandpa pictures on our phone of him from previous events or ones we take right in front of him. He thinks it’s so cool how technology has advanced and still can’t believe that we can take pictures of him on our phones. Every time we show him his picture he starts laughing surprised like “that’s me!”

Anyways, I took out my phone and pulled up the picture of my grandma. I showed it to him and his reaction made me happy and sad all at the same time. Seeing her picture made him eagerly grab my phone out of my hand.

Staring at her picture he said to me in Tagalog, “Where’d you get this? Do you know who this is? It’s grandma.”

Other than when he complains about his back hurting, my grandpa is usually just chill and observant at get togethers. So when he reacted so surprised to see the picture, it touched my heart, because I could only imagine all the memories that photo brought back.

I think that’s a whole other level of love. To lose someone so tragically, and to be alone for so long, to get remarried, but to be so excited to see an old photo made me really happy. I can only imagine what he felt when he saw that picture, but I know that’s exactly how I would want someone to look at an old photograph of me. 20141109_190624

The photo above is the exact photo I showed my grandpa.

Never Have I Ever…

It’s funny how the people you meet in life can lead you to the person you marry. This was true for my “Tita Lola” Rhonda Zulueta. She is on the left in the photo above. Rhonda is my dad’s cousin, so technically she’s my aunt, but we have that kind of relationship where we can basically joke around like cousins. Hence her name “Tita Lola,” which means “Auntie Grandma” in Tagalog. ( I wish I could insert 10 laughing emojis right here)

Rhonda and Jackie were friends for 4 years before they decided to pursue a relationship with each other. Jackie is actually Rhonda’s ex girlfriend’s cousin! Crazy! It all started when Rhonda was going to go to New Orleans with friends. She needed “practice” with drinking because she didn’t want her friends and sister to think she was weak. She drove to Stockton and played “Never Have I Ever” with Jackie, where she revealed her feelings for her.

After that incident, Jackie didn’t respond to Rhonda’s texts for 2 days! But only to find out that she wasn’t ignoring Tita Lola, but was hungover from the game. They decided to date a while after that.

“I knew she was the one when I asked her to be my girlfriend and when I saw how she interacted with Damian (her nephew),” Rhonda said. “My mom and sister liked her too. They never liked anyone else. She was always the one I ran to and I could trust.”

They lived together and dated for 4 years before they got married.  The day after Christmas Rhonda decided to propose. She left the ring box in the car and asked Jackie to get her lunchbox and meter out. Jackie was so fixed on finding the meter that she didn’t even notice the box!

“I had to grab it and show her the ring,” Rhonda said. “It took her a minute to realize what was happening.”

I remember when Rhonda messaged me on Facebook asking for my address so she could send us an invitation to her’s and Jackie’s wedding. I was so happy and low key honored that we were getting invited. We come from a huge family, my great grandparents had 10 children and those children had on average 7 children each. So inviting everyone in the family would be like having a guest list of 1 million.

It’s crazy how everything turned out. A failed relationship ended up giving Rhonda a wife. I’m so happy that Rhonda has found someone who makes her so happy. Rhonda is so selfless and family oriented, so it makes me glad to know that both their families approve and love them together.

Family Business

Most parents want what is best for their children. When you’re young and dating, your parents’ say can have a big impact on how the relationship goes. For instance, how late you can stay out, if they like your partner or not, or if they’ll even let you be with someone.

This is the struggle of my best friend April Padua. I basically grew up with April. We went to the same school from kindergarten to 8th grade, but became good friends from 4th grade to present day. Since I’ve known her for so long, it seems like we went through the same stages together. I know every major event that has happened in her life as she knows mine. Our parents make small talk with each other every now and then and our moms sometimes carpool together.

In high school April’s aunt made her tell her parents that she had lost her virginity to her now ex boyfriend. I was so scared for her, knowing how awkward that probably is, especially since her parents are very overprotective and won’t let her have freedom.

It’s that kind of relationship where “whatever I say goes because I’m your parent.” For instance, April isn’t going to school because her parents want her to pursue nursing or the police academy. So she feels like it’s pointless to go to school for something she doesn’t even want to do. She wants to go to school for Cosmetology, but her parents think it’s useless because that’s not “where the money is.”

When April told her parents, surprisingly they didn’t react the way we thought. I thought it was going to end in tears and possible disowning, but they were calm about it. They didn’t let her go out much with him though, but it was still more freedom than she expected. When things with her ex hit the fan, it was all bad. Her parents didn’t want her to see him anymore. Her ex was constantly texting her dad to let him see her, showing up at her door at all hours of the day to try to talk to her, and black mailing her.

At the end of the day, she respected her dad’s wishes and ended it for good. She’s now in a different relationship, and her parents are in the way of her having a “normal” life. She has to ask me and  her other friends to cover for her when she’s out with her new boyfriend because she feels like she can’t be open with her parents and tell them. Her and her boyfriend met at work and if me or her friends can’t cover for her, the only time she gets to spend with him is their lunch breaks at work. May I remind you all that she is 21. Her dad drops her off and picks her up from work to make sure she’s where she says she is.

This is causing problems in her new relationship. Her boyfriend feels like she isn’t making an effort to hangout with her. He knows she has parents that don’t let her have freedom, but he doesn’t know to what extent. He acts like it is easy for her to just lie and get away with it, but it really takes planning. It has to be a certain time, because Filipino parents tend to look out the window to see who is picking you up. She tries to go out when her dad’s at work and her mom’s asleep, if not, the opportunity is gone.

“I’m honestly so used to all of this that it doesn’t even bother me anymore,” April said. “But in my head I’m just like, ‘if my relationship is hidden like this and based on lies, is this even gonna be a relationship that’s gonna workout?’ He thinks I don’t try and I do. It’s really not easy. I’m trying to please him and be able to see him but I hate lying too. I’m torn. It sucks I’m 21 and my life’s still unfair, you know?”

I feel for my friend. We used to complain about not getting freedom when we were in high school. Luckily as I got older, my parents got more lenient. My mom is happy when I come home at midnight on a school night. For April, her parents still treat her like she’s in 6th grade.

She understands that her parents are just trying to look out for her. But it is not just for the fact that she’s in relationship and can’t go out. It’s much deeper than that. She feels like she has no control of her life. Her parents caused an atmosphere of resentment. I feel bad that she has to sneak around and put her life on hold because what she wants to do with her life isn’t getting the approval of her parents.

April feels like nobody gets her relationship with her parents. Her dad is so overprotective of her and her mom goes with whatever her dad says. But it’s true. As much as I want to say I know how she must feel, I really don’t. I can relate to some extent but I don’t know the pain she feels when she feels trapped. She learned to bite her tongue and doesn’t even bother to talk back or say her side when she’s getting lectured because she knows it won’t make a difference.

Just recently April’s aunt told her dad about her new boyfriend. Her dad didn’t confront her about it yet, and I’m hoping for good outcomes. She deserves to be happy, experience life while she’s still young, and make mistakes for herself.

To April: I know you’re reading this and feeling a little bummed out. I know one day it’ll get better for you. I know you feel like you’re stuck and sad that you’re 21st birthday is coming up soon and your parents still won’t let you do anything. I hope one day you get the courage to pursue Cosmetology because it’s your life and career. Okay I’ll text you back now. lol.

 

 

Live in the NOW

New love is  always exciting. You’re totally sprung and all about each other. But slow your roll, this is where people start to mess up. Don’t think too far ahead too soon.

That’s what gets people’s hopes up. You start to think of scenarios in the future when you’re still in the “getting to know you” phase. You know we all have that one friend, that claims to be in love with their new boo after just 2 weeks of knowing them.

Call me old-fashioned, but I feel like you should know a person for  an X amount of time before you even consider anything. That includes meeting my family, saying I love you, shoot, even knowing my wifi password.

It’s easier said than done, but in the earlier stages of a relationship, just enjoying the present is what’s best. We’re always thinking about the future and what it will bring, but totally miss what is happening now.

I’m not even one to talk because I’m always thinking about the future. Not only in regards to my relationship, but in general. “What am I going to eat later?” “Walk faster you’ll be late to work!” “I can’t wait to go to sleep tonight.” “I have to do homework laterrrr noooooooooo!!!!”

Thinking too far ahead too soon is what ends up letting people down. It’s better to not assume something will happen, than to be upset when the imaginary scenario you wish would happen in your head doesn’t actually pull through.

But hey, if both of you are on the same pace, plan on aheeeaddddd! This post is dedicated to you guys and gals already planning what flavor cake you’ll have at your wedding when its been a month and your boo hasn’t even told you their middle name. But dassss none of my biddddness doeee *sips tea*

“I guess I met you for a reason, only time can tell…” -J.Cole

I was always the type of person to believe that “everything happens for a reason.” What’s meant to be mine will always find its way to me, what was never meant for me would eventually find the next exit out of my life. I guess you can say I believe in fate.

You know those kind of stories girls tell of how they first met their partner? And it always seems like fate or that it was too good to be true? Chances are they’re adding a little spice to get you to envy their love story, or for all I know it could be 100% true… what I do know for sure is that my “how we met” story made me believe in fate a little more.

It was my 2nd semester at Skyline College. I found myself broke and bored. It was time to find a job. At the time, my major was Child Development. I have always been good with kids, you could call me the baby whisperer. I felt like all the jobs that were for child development needed prior experience or a least 12 units of ECE (Early Childhood Education) classes.

So then I started my search for work. I applied to maybe all the retail places at Serremonte Mall and Westlake Shopping Center. I got called in for interviews but never seemed to get the job. I would pass the first interview and was told that I would be meeting with someone higher up at a different set date. But I could never just get the job at the end of it all.

I was starting to feel really down in the dumps. What was wrong with me? People get first jobs all the time, why can’t I?! How can I have “experience” if you won’t hire me?!?! Frustrated is an understatement of how I felt. At that point I had gone through maybe 5 interviews. I thought finding a job would be easy… I started to give up.

I was maybe 2+ months deep in trying (not successfully) to find a job. I was sitting on the couch one school night when my friend, Cambria Cardona, called me. She said the gym was hiring for a daycare position and knew I was interested in a job working with kids.

I remember getting off the phone with her and thinking “It’s 7:30 pm… it’s dark, I’m tired, and me out of all people working at a gym? Yeah right!!!” Just the thought of me working at a gym made me want to laugh out loud. If retail places didn’t want to hire me, what more a gym where they’ll probably be looking for the most fit employees?

I was just about to act like Cam never called and continue to sit on the couch watching TV. But something in my head made me get up. I didn’t think I was going to get the job at all, but I went straight to the computer, printed out my resume, left in the same casual outfit I had went to school in, and found myself walking in the dark to go to the Daly City Bart station. “I’m not gonna get it, but I might as well try and say I didn’t get it,” was my train of thought.

I arrived at the gym. At the front desk a young man greeted me and took my resume. He made me fill out an application. I remembered that that afternoon in my ECE class I earned a certificate for knowing when to report child abuse because a guest speaker had spoken to my class. At the end of the class we had all received a certificate of completion. I took it out of my bag and said, “I don’t know if this will help…” He seemed to be impressed. He photocopied it, and I was on my way back home.

I didn’t expect to hear from them at all. Until a few days later on my way to school I had a missed call. When I called back, it was a personal trainer from the gym telling me that I got the job. “If you want it, it’s yours,” was her exact words to me. I was so surprised and excited, I got a job with no interview needed.

Fitting in at work wasn’t that hard. My co workers were as weird as me, and I couldn’t have asked for a chiller job. I took care of the kids while their parents worked out. It was a job I felt was fitting for me. I couldn’t picture myself in retail, or all the other jobs I was sad about not getting. This job was for me.

For a few months I would make small talk with this little girl’s mother, Jazzie Dela Cruz. Little by little we got closer and she asked if I could ask my manager if he needed another Kids Club employee. Long story short, I got her the job and she became my co worker. I thought nothing of it. Until everything else started to unfold.

When work was slow, me and my former co worker and good friend, Ulysses Pineda, would hang in the back office. It was one of those 2 sided mirrors, where we can see them but they can’t really see us. This guy and his friend walk up to the front desk and scanned themselves in, “that guy is cute in a weird way, that’s my MCM,” I told Ulysses. He made a witty joke and we continued with our conversation.

Winter Break was over. That marked almost 10 months of working at the gym. A co worker who I was very close to informed me that he was moving back to Idaho. I was so sad because we were like the night team crew. I was so salty to think of whoever was gonna replace him.

Until a few days later I walk into work and my “MCM” was wearing our gym’s uniform and filling out papers. I went to my co worker at the front desk, “Dude!!! That’s my MCM!!!!” My co worker laughed and said, “For real?! He’s gonna work here!”

Long story short, Jazzie played my fairy godmother and got me and my “MCM” together. It’s been over a year since all that has happened and I tell Christian, my MCE*, how it was fate that brought us together. He almost didn’t get the job because he was on a road trip when he was offered the job.

It’s trippy to think about. If I had gotten hired somewhere else, if Cam didn’t tell me about the job, if I didn’t make a sudden decision to turn in my resume that night, if I didn’t get hired, if I didn’t meet Jazzie, if Jazzie didn’t get hired, if Christian didn’t get hired, if one of these events were to not happen, I believe my life wouldn’t be the way it is now.

I believe that I was meant to meet Christian, and everyone I’ve met at the gym for that matter. I’m not saying that for sure 100% we’re gonna get married and ride off into the sunset on a white horse on the beach, but I really do believe we were meant to meet each other for a reason. It is up to us to find out that reason.