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 ūü•īūüíė.

Shelter in Place Diaries – Serge : Positive High System

California is just a little over 4 weeks into Shelter in Place. Originally, the plan was to shutdown for 3 weeks and hopefully arrive back to work with our usual routines at the end of March / early April. As the days went on, America soon realized that things were definitely not going to be back to normal in 3 weeks time. Even after things open up again, we as a society will slowly ease back into life before COVID-19, but with plenty of restrictions. Its safe to say that COVID-19 will have permanent effects to how we maneuver on a daily basis.

The 3 week mandatory shutdown was tough on business owners, but especially small business owners. It was hard enough to close for 3 weeks, but the extended Shelter in Place Order is forcing a lot of business owners to change up how they do business. This is especially true for Serge and his fitness business.

Serge is the creator and owner of “Positive High System.” He’s a Fitness Coach, eager to help those who want to improve their way of life through food and movement. He believes his Positive High program could benefit anyone who wants more knowledge and guidance in the fitness world. Before COVID-19, Serge was doing in-person training / group training. That, of course, is not possible anymore with the social distancing and Shelter in Place Orders. His clientele dropped by over 50% since COVID-19. As a small business owner, Serge knew that he would have to switch it up if he wants Positive High System to ride this pandemic wave and make it out in the end.

It is understandable that many business owners are frazzled and anxious about their business and their means of making a living. The unknown is what gets the best of people. Surprisingly, Serge, with his upbeat yet chill attitude, has decided to look at the bright side of this pandemic. It was already in his plans to open up the virtual / online component of training for Positive High. Online sessions were going to be Serge’s next business move later on in the year. Even though the timing is different, Serge took this as a message from the universe to act on the idea now. He has no choice but to. Serge has converted all of his in-person training sessions to live personal training classes on Zoom.

“Life is good,” he said on his vlog as he ended a workday early.

Serge is looking on the bright side of this Shelter in Place Order. He loves the fact that he gets to spend more time with his girlfriend and son. He shares that before COVID-19, he would get home around 8 or 9 PM. But now, he ends his day around 7-7:30 PM, and gets to take breaks during the day to do activities with his son, Elijah. Serge is a very active father, and the Shelter in Place is bringing him and his family closer. He’s finding time to reconnect with family through gaming apps, still running his business, spending more time with family, and doing more hobbies and activities with no time crunch.

As if he wasn’t already making the most of his time, Serge puts his phone on “airplane mode” by 7:30 PM to be more present with his family. Instead of looking at what could go wrong, Serge is deciding to take the less traveled route – taking it day by day, adjusting if need be, and not worrying about the unknown.

Serge launched his new Positive High System app that helps it’s users log their food and beverage intake, exercise, goals, accomplishments, etc. What is unique about this app is Serge is just a message away if you need encouragement or help. There is also a video section of workouts you could do at home. Serge stresses that the point of logging food is not be obsessive, to calorie count, or make drastic changes – but to be aware of what you’re doing – eating wise and exercise wise. By being aware, you’re in a better position to see what it is that you can tweak to benefit your health if that is your goal. Saying Serge has gracefully transitioned during this pandemic is an understatement!

Check out “Shelter in Place Diaries – Serge : Positive High System” by clicking:

All For You

Lee Ann graduated from SFSU¬†with a Bachelors degree in Child Development in 2015. She has the most patients with children and has the biggest heart. All her former co workers could only tell me good things about her. She’s that kind of girl that nobody can ever speak ill about even if you tried. She has a heart of gold and a passion for learning.

She is now a pre school teacher and is working on getting her credentials. She is so relieved that all her hard work has paid off, saying that once you receive that diploma, everything you had to do to get to that point will be worth it. I congratulated her on all of her accomplishments and asked how her love life is and if there is someone special in her life.

Lee Ann told me that she didn’t have the normal “high school experience” like dating, going to parties, or being young and careless because she lost her father to ASL, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.¬†

“Losing my Dad really made me driven,” Lee Ann said. “I wanted to succeed for him. So I threw myself into school. And because of that I tried balancing work and school. It was also how I coped with grief. I somewhat pushed aside any kind of “social life”. The busier I was, the less I had to think. Education has always been so important to me. I’ve had a love for learning. The more I learned, the more experienced I felt. It gave me a sense of accomplishment.”

Education became Lee Ann’s main focus. It was her form of coping with the grief of losing her father. She told me how growing up she wasn’t involved in any sports or other activities. When I asked her why she told me that her father traveled a lot for work, but he would always come back home on the weekends. Her mom didn’t want to enroll Lee Ann in weekend activities because the weekend was a time for the family to be all together. She said she is happy that that’s how it was.

“The other reason I did that was so that I could focus on me,” Lee Ann said. “I was so unsure of myself and lacked confidence. If I wasn’t confident in myself how could I be supportive in a relationship? But now that school is done and I’ve reflected and grown a little bit of that confidence. There is one aspect that’s missing. I look forward to the future and¬†being there for someone. I can’t wait to be a Mom and watch someone grow. Teach them and watch the world through their eyes.”

Now Lee Ann has accomplished what she wanted to do and now has a career. Next she will fulfill her next dream: to fall in love and start a family.

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.”

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 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.

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.