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FINALLY! Say hello to Bombastarr.com!

Yes, folks, after nine years and five months -- I finally have my own domain! Welcome to www.bombastarr.com!

A moment of complete screaming and hysteria in honor of this momentous occasion: AHHHHHH!!! WOOHOOOOOOOOOO!!!

That's for my 13-year-old self, who started a blog in 2005 and had a simple wish of having her own space in the Internet. She didn't know much about HTML, CSS, and CNAME redirects back then, but it was already clear to her that she wanted a dot-com one day.

First, a little history:

Let me bring you back to the days of Internet yore, the golden age of blogging: the early 2000s. In my case, 2003 to be exact. I remember spending my lazy summer days on my dad's old silver laptop sitting ever so gloriously atop the wooden table by our dining room, and the newly installed wireless internet that I so spiritedly abused. Blogging was such a new, hip concept for me - I only came across the term in one of the magazines lying around at home, and out of curiosity I decided it was something I wanted to try. It was equivalent to having your own address in the Cloud for your thoughts, feelings, and ideas - a place that isn't constricted by the form of a social media profile (aka, Friendster). It sounded so cool.

My first blog was in Blogger, under a different username. It wasn't very creative - after all, what is there for a 12-year-old to write about? But it was a great start. I found friends online, in different parts of Manila, who had the same motivation I did: we just wanted to write about our (actually uneventful) lives. No matter that we didn't have the coherence or the focus a proper writer should have. And it didn't mean much that we knew very little about actually designing a good layout. We were writing! About our lives! In our own blog! We had an audience! It was enough to keep us all entertained in our happy little bubbles. I was definitely ecstatic to have a place where I can write about periodic exams and lyrics to (the early, tattoo-less-and-still-single Adam Levine-fronted) Maroon 5, and have people say they like it.

Eventually I moved to Geocities (because it was cool to "move out" and have a place where you can have a splash page), where I grew to learn more about HTML and coding. Not that I got any good at it; my layouts were really, really terrible (hello, neon colors and blinkies!). But it was there that I started thinking about writing for an audience. And it was there that I realized how much I actually enjoyed just laying down my thoughts on paper-- or rather, on screen.

It was in 2005 when I created Bombastarr - this very blog. By then, my Geocities was the more "official" site I "advertised" for people to visit. I realized I could no longer blog there about certain feelings about certain people without stirring a bit of trouble. (At this point, let's zoom out for a bit: again, this is a high school freshman you're looking at. Consider the "Oh look at me, I'm interesting and super relevant!" mindset I was in, and be a little more kind or less judge-y to the teenager, haha. Okay, zoom back in.) So I contemplated on creating another online journal, this time back in Blogger again, for all my dramatic thoughts and rants.


Now here's the answer to the nine-year-old question, "Why Bombastarr?"

It began as a joke between me and a couple of friends during our freshman year. We were practicing for a field demonstration dance which involved the use of shawls, and being the crazy-always-trying-to-be-funny person that I was (or I always attempted to be) I started doing poses with the garment. Someone started taking my picture using my phone, and one shot looked like I was posing for those B-list movies (or should it be R-list, as in R-rated?) of the vegetable-nomenclature variety. #IKYWIM. Hence, the word, "Bombastarr." Yes, very cheeky, I know, but for a 13-year-old, it was quirky enough to figure as a username.

That, plus I was going through a phase where I wanted to be "emotional" and "dramatic" and everything a hormonal teenager is entitled to be. I claimed I wanted to be "honest with my emotions" and be "explosive." And so, Bombastarr was born. "Exploding" was what I called my online rants back then. How completely schmaltzy, I know, I know.

And yet, ridiculous at it sounded, it stuck. When I decided to permanently move to Bombastarr, I seriously considered blogging as a part of my identity. For the remainder of my high school life, I enjoyed having this separate outlet where I could not only tell something about my life but also know how other people wrote about theirs. Looking back, I really believe it was the affinity I had with blogging that launched my dreams of being a writer.

I wouldn't have seriously considered Creative Writing as a course if it wasn't for my blogging background. I had no legitimate experience in writing prior to that. I did join (and win) several essay-writing contests, and got good grades in English class, but that was about it. No school paper experience, no journalistic training. Save for my immense love for reading, I felt that I wasn't qualified enough to take CW as a major. But because of how much I've grown to love writing - albeit informally, and online - I realized it was something I was willing to dip my toes into. I was willing to learn more, and earnestly take it as a craft.

And here we are, many years later. A college graduate, a struggling law student - and still, someone who writes.


So why the need for the domain, and why now?

Like I said, this is something I've always wanted to do. But back then, the original plan was to buy my own domain and leave behind this blog. That is, move out again and have a proper website, where I can put not only my blog, but I guess a portfolio of sorts as well. However, I never got the motivation to do so - primarily because of laziness, but also because of sentimentality. Moving out meant leaving behind years' worth of anecdotes and stories - not that they're such treasures in any way. But before this blog, I've never been able to successfully maintain any kind of journal, and to leave this all behind was something I couldn't bring myself to do. I wanted to lug around all the memories with me, but it was going to take a while to learn how to export from one host to another - nakakatamad. So out of convenience, I just kept on blogging here, and eventually found no need for moving out.

But, I don't know, you know how sometimes, you just want a change, even though everything is actually alright? Like a haircut, even without the broken heart?

Bombastarr has become many things for me in the last nine years - journal, portfolio, profile. What started out as just a diary ended up becoming a part of my growth, as a writer, and as a person. And while I hardly consider myself a "creative," I'm happy to say that it has become one significant outlet for different sides of me: the side that writes, reads, listens to music, explores art, and enjoys a variety of fields.

Despite the many other chances I've gotten to permanently move (to Multiply, Livejournal, Tumblr, Wordpress; to a bigger platform where I can earn or use the blog as a venue for commerce), I've come to realize that Bombastarr is something I can never truly leave behind. It is a place I've grown to appreciate and love because it is a place I can call my own. It's a venue for my rants, my views, my writing. It is home, and it is who I am.

Bombastarr is a glimpse of my life: the thoughts, ideas, and stories that shape it into what it is, and what it will still become. This journal has been with me for all my crazy, often embarrassing adventures -- which is why I found it fitting to finally give it the proper address that it deserves. It's been with me through so many ups and downs, I felt like it warranted something new for a change, after sticking out with me for nine years.

So I went ahead and used part of my first sweldo from my internship to pay for this domain. Granted, it's only a redirect, but I still got the best of both worlds: my own domain, without having to leave behind the blog. I guess this is me making my 13-year-old self very, very happy. There you go, teenage Karla, your adult self has finally done something right!

I'm glad and thankful for everything I've learned, gained, and become because of this blog. Call me corny and excessively sentimental, but I really am glad to have this thing for myself. It is something to be proud of, right? Right? (Sige na, pagbigyan niyo na!)




www.Bombastarr.com - finally. It feels so, so good.



Here's to more tales, explosive and otherwise!



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Deep breaths

In the last month, thanks to the prodding of my boss (and the discount coupons she sent me), I've started doing Bikram Yoga. In a nutshell: 26 poses. An hour and a half. 40-degree Celsius room. Yep, that's pretty much all there is to it.

Except it's not.

Because in the last month, so many things have happened - things left unwritten, or unsaid, or unacknowledged. And for the most part, those ninety-minute sessions (and the heavenly shower that comes after) have been used for a lot of thinking. And also for a lot of breathing, literally and metaphorically. I'm very grateful.

Allow me to illustrate.

*

A few weeks ago, a blockmate of ours passed away. It was one of those really unfortunate accidents: on his way home, he suddenly felt dizzy and fell down the flight of stairs in the MRT. He hit his head pretty badly and suffered severe hemorrhaging in his brain. He was in a coma for about a week before finally passing away, as a result also of his heart condition. To say that it was shocking would be an understatement. He was actually one of the brightest people in class. We weren't very close, but to have someone you always see everyday suddenly die so young - it's so, so shocking. The rest of his life was still ahead of him. He was 24; he was so loved by his family, friends, and girlfriend (of eight years). How can it happen to someone our age? It's truly heartbreaking.

I'm no stranger to such tragedies. My family has gone through similar circumstances with different family members. Just a year ago, my maternal grandmother, Wowa, fell down inside a restroom cubicle in Trinoma. She also hit her head, which resulted in blood clots inside her brain. And about two decades ago (before I was born), my father's brother, Tito Bobbie, had an accident with his gun, which he mistakenly fired. The bullet hit him in the head, and he ended up in coma for a while. Both of them are fine, alive, and perfectly normal. (Granted, half of my uncle's body is paralyzed, but he can walk and even travels more than I do.) But that doesn't disregard the complete devastation both of these incidents caused our families. The idea of possibly losing your loved one because of one quick, fatal hit or blow - how completely and utterly senseless. It's a thought that still scares me, really. One moment you're just talking to the person, and the next, she's lying in bed, unconscious and on the brink of death. It's scary.

All these accidents somehow point to a same set of facts: at some point, the brain lacked the oxygen it needed to function. The heart was too weak to bring it there; the body, too fragile to continue on its own.

*

Bikram requires a certain discipline: focus that holds together the form, form that extricates the breathing. The inhaling and exhaling is both the relief and the affliction - the heat and the exhaustion makes you want to breathe quickly, but too much dampens your composure. Short, quick breaths that allow for recovery does not allow your body to acclimate well to the stress.

It's always a tug-of-war between the mind and the body: where the mind dictates what the body should do, it is the body that decides what it is capable of. The breathing tethers both.

In all those times I had to stare at the ceiling, or the floor, or in the mirror in front of me, I am forced to feel and hear my heart raring to break out of its cage. The body is tired, it says, and the mind is clouded. Time to rest.

But there is no stopping. When the mind sees the others, the body follows. And even when the heart says it can't, it will. The breathing will bring it to the next pose. Hands on the sky, feet on the ground, all muscles engaged. It's incredible, what the body can do when stressed and what the mind can bring it to. It is when I am most fatigued that I am most determined; when I am gasping for air that I feel most alive.

*

There is no room for regrets, or hesitation. So much about this summer was about catching my breath, and taking the time to give my heart and body the chance to recover - spending time with my family, having the best conversations with my friends, experiencing new things with my boyfriend, appreciating the law, reigniting the flame with literature. Rekindling my faith. Realizing how much there is to be thankful for, about life and love.

No reason to not welcome everything with anticipation; no reason to not be grateful. How beautiful to be reminded of this with each deep breath.

*

It is almost the end of July. This summer (and Bikram) winds down to this: Everything is illuminated with each breath, let each gasp be that of wonder.



To be alive, to be able to take breaths deep and slow to feel each tremor inside my chest.






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all the accidents that dot the maps of my life





"Accidents" by The One AM Radio

All of the mistakes I made,
All the ways that I fucked up the plans I laid,
All the times I showed up late,
All the places I left when i should have stayed,
I know.

Now I know.

All the chances I let by,
All the accidents that dot the maps of my life,
All of those long worthless nights,
All the times that i know I didn't get it right,
Now I know —

It brought me to you.

All the shit I went through,
Well, it brought me to you so I don't care what it took.
All the shit I went through, it brought me to you.
Yeah, it got kind of rough,
it seemed like hoping never mattered enough,

But then it ended with me falling in love,
because it brought me to you.



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Today, in the compliments department

July 8, 2014    |    0 Comments
Today, in one of the e-mail exchanges I was having with a client over some discrepancies I corrected and resolved in his records, I received the most interesting compliment:

"Karla,

You are doing great. [...] You seem to be analytical and detail-oriented. Perhaps you should have been an Engineer like me."


Possible responses:

(a) I'm also very bad at math, sir.
(b) Sir, our house has room for only one engineer: my papa.
(c) I'm not analytical and detail-oriented, sir. Wait 'til you see... everything about my life, basically.
(d) May you please repeat that to my mom? Can you please tell her you said these very kind words? See, mom! I'm detail-oriented! To some people! Just not at home and not when it comes to other details like remembering to unplug stuff or bringing my keys!
(e) Interesting you point that out, sir. Let me show you the history of my life in UP and the friends I've made in Melchor Hall.
(f) I did the next best thing, sir. I'm currently dating one ;)
(g) Hehehe, thanks p0hwz.
(h) All of the above.


Actual response:

*vertical cursor still blinking*



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Finding phrases for feelings that began more than a year ago

24
You're in a car with a beautiful boy, and he won't tell you that he loves you, but he loves you. And you feel like you've done something terrible, like robbed a liquor store, or swallowed pills, or shoveled yourself a grave in the dirt, and you're tired. You're in a car with a beautiful boy, and you're trying not to tell him that you love him, and you're trying to choke down the feeling, and you're trembling, but he reaches over and he touches you, like a prayer for which no words exist, and you feel your heart taking root in your body, like you've discovered something you don't even have a name for.

— from "You Are Jeff" by Richard Siken


when I am in your presence I feel life is strong
and will defeat all its enemies and all of mine
and all of yours and yours in you and mine in me
sick logic and feeble reasoning are cured
by the perfect symmetry of your arms and legs
spread out making an eternal circle together
creating a golden pillar beside the Atlantic
the faint line of hair dividing your torso
gives my mind rest and emotions their release
into the infinite air where since once we are
together we always will be in this life come what may

— from "When I am feeling depressed and sullen" by Frank O'Hara


Do you think of me
as often
as I think
of you?

"Please" by Richard Brautigan



*



They say
milestones are
just numbers, and
for once I actually believe it.
Definite dates no longer matter as much as
moments that evidenced feelings -- feelings of certainty defeating feelings of apprehension.
When did it actually begin? is no longer a question that needs to be asked, just as Does it 
matter, as long as it will never end? is an answer that needs no further emphasis. I think
the idea of being ready again revealed itself more than a year ago, that night you sliced
my steak and I let chemistry point its knives at my heart again. Maybe even before;
maybe it was that day you handed me the jar of deep purple, or that day I first
rode your car and it was raining. But in the calendar inside my chest, it does
not matter what day it was. What rings truer is that it's become clear how
much it just made sense then, how it still makes sense, and how sure I
am that it will continue to do so, for far, far longer than that graffiti
of drumsticks and smoke stamped across your heart ever will.


 Ship, me





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Lolo's girl



One of my fondest memories as a kid was reading the newspaper every night with my Dodo. I remember snuggling between him and my grandma while he reads the dailies before going to bed. He would point to a letter on the day's headlines, and I'd shout what it was. This was before I went to proper school: I was three years old, and not enrolled in nursery yet. But because my aunt was a teacher, and our fridge was filled with alphabet magnets, I knew my ABC's. It was our nightly ritual - him going over the headlines, me going over its letters. Over time, I would graduate to simple words like "oil" or "up" - words that didn't mean that much to me yet, but were almost always present in the front page.

We didn't stop there. When we would go out on weekends, he'd point to signs and words we'd see on the road when he's on the wheel. When we were stuck in traffic, he let me indulge in reading out sari-sari store names and bank branches. Roadtrips were never boring and heavy traffic never felt that long - for me, at least.

A lot of things have changed since - my lolo now reads his newspapers in the morning (because he's long been retired) and I've since graduated to reading novels and law books.

But I'm glad for the many things that still remained the way they were - how we'd both spend hours on the couch or on the bed, just reading until our eyes give up. I grew accustomed to the habit of keeping the bedside night lamp turned on, and falling asleep with the magazine or newspaper or book on my chest. Reading before bed became a habit; so did reading until dozing off.

Some people say it's bad for the eyes. But it's always been good for the mind - and the soul.

Thank you, Dodo, for teaching me how to read, and for teaching me to love it. It certainly changed my life in unfathomable ways - I'm glad it was you I first shared it with.


I don't think I've ever written about my lolo yet - so here goes. Happy Father's Day, Dodo! ♥ I love you!


__


And of course, happy father's day, Papa! :* Thank you for the great weekend - and all the other weekdays and weekends :)



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In re: Malcolm Hall feelings (aka My new law school anthem)



- Rather Be by Clean Bandit feat. Jesse Glynne


This shall be our new jam, Malcolm. You've given me so much heartache, but you've also brought me so much love. You've taken away a huge part of my self-esteem, sure  but you've also shown me what it truly means to be resilient and to be brave.

For the most part, my time with you has been difficult. But who am I to complain? I've never felt more vulnerable; but I've also never felt more loved. It was only until you came along that I realized how much I am appreciated by the people who matter: my friends, my sisses, and my family. (Hello, parents, I love you.) It's within your hallowed walls that I discovered what faith - and fate - actually meant. And it was a year into my stay when you brought me to the greatest love of my life. (Hi, L.)

You've been tough, but I'm tougher. At the end of the day, I can't imagine myself being anywhere else. So I guess it's still going to be you and me, buddy.

I'm ready for you. Again, and always.


__

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id est

June 9, 2014    |    0 Comments
they say you can love someone to the point of ruin;
i say i love you enough to make shadows believe they deserve to get lost in our light



__

Labels:




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Summer, so far: #LaBorawan

May 27, 2014    |    0 Comments



It was a bright, beautiful weekend that met my high school friends and I when our much-awaited summer getaway finally, FINALLY pushed through. Almost everything about the trip was uncertain until the day before; the only thing we were sure of was that we blocked the entire weekend for a trip with our plus-ones, but initial plans kept falling through until the last minute. We couldn't let the opportunity pass, though -- we were available, we were going with our plus-ones, we already had transpo. It had to take eleventh-hour decisions for the entire trip to come to fruition. But as it always happens when it comes to our group, things always turn out great in the end.

And great doesn't even begin to describe it.





We stayed at a cottage in Padre Burgos, Quezon, from where we were to take boat trips to three different islands around the area: Borawan, Dampalitan, and Puting Buhangin. The place is relatively unknown to regular folk, but research (aka Google) will yield you several articles and blog posts about this "must-visit" place. I was actually the one who suggested the place when we first started talking about our summer plans a few months ago, since my family and I went to Quezon over the Holy Week. My friends had other plans and resorts in mind, initially, but when we realized most famous destinations were already full, we had to look for something else both cheap yet still remarkable.

It was a 5-hour trip from Paranaque to Padre Burgos. But you know how when you're with your best friends, five hours never feels like an eternity? It felt like being on the bus again for a high school field trip, only this time we have other people as partners :)) It was our first time to go out-of-town with the Boyband (aka, our plus-ones) so you can understand why everyone was extra excited about the trip. It's nice that we can act normal and behave like 15-year-old convent girls again even in front of the boys.

Ludwin and I stayed awake for the entire ride because we had to navigate and help out our driver. (Thanks, Google Maps!) Padre Burgos is on the edge of Quezon, so it's a bit difficult and tricky to get there. You can understand why not a lot of people visit the place because it's a bit far, and the bypass roads going there are still under construction. We passed by Sariaya, Lucena, and Pagbilao before reaching the town of Padre Burgos.




The great thing about the accommodation Trixie was able to arrange for us is that it included everything we needed for the weekend: (1) a cottage that had four rooms (great for all 14 of us, including our driver) which was by the sea, but not by the beach, (2) the boat rental to go to the three islands around the area, i.e. the relatively-more-known Borawan, Puting Buhangin, and Dampalitan, and (3) three meals: Saturday lunch and dinner plus Sunday breakfast. It was definitely sulit. (Shout-out to our contact, Ate Irma.)

When we arrived we had a feast of liempo and sinigang na isda (I forget which fish though). Originally, the plan was to spend the entire afternoon at the farthest island then spend the next morning at the nearer islands. However, because we arrived way past lunch, we just decided to spend the entire afternoon in the "middle" island and wake up early the next day for the other beaches.


Posing before riding the bangka going to the islands. This was in front of our house!


The boat ride to Borawan Island took us around 15-20 minutes. We passed by several smaller islands before reaching the place. The beach was named such because of its white sand and pristine blue seas, similar to both Boracay and Palawan. (YES, true story, haven't you figured it out yet?) Lots of tents and huts were pitched along the shore because it wasn't a big island - it can't accommodate buildings and hotels. Some people opt to stay overnight and rent tents (which we were originally supposed to do) but when we saw the gray clouds hovering above us soon after we left Padre Burgos for Borawan, we realized it was a good thing we decided to look for a house instead.


On the boat ride to Borawan Island

Taking advantage of Mikka and Jumar's monopod, mehehe


One thing I always hear and read about Borawan is that its waters are filled with jellyfish. You really can't go beyond the net they've pitched around a certain area, unless you want to do an Anne Curtis. As such, we spent more time taking pictures instead of actually swimming. :))

Another nice surprise about this trip is that we had Anizza come with us! Anizza is a friend from grade school and high school who left for the States after our first year. It's been nine years since we last saw her, but I swear it felt like nothing has changed! She just graduated college and is about to enter med school when she goes back to Florida, so it will be a long, looong while before we will see her again. It was definitely great timing that she was able to join us, even on short notice.


The love teams, plus our balikbayan, Anizza in the middle


You may have already noticed that almost all of us were paired up by "love team" :)) TABING ILOG / TGIS style! Grabe, pang-90's Saturday afternoon teenage show! Summer out-of-town episode!

As I've mentioned before, this is definitely a new "era" for our barkada. We've never had this many plus-ones all at the same time! As my mom would joke, "Mga dalaga na din kayo!" Haha! Which explains why we're always so thrilled to be planning stuff that include the Boyband.

It's funny because we were such good girls back in high school - most of us were honor students, student officers, and varsity athletes. We didn't really go outside our comfort zones to explore "grown-up" stuff like drinking and smoking. And even in college, we rarely did as well. I can count the number of times we went out to drink in college. We don't even go to malls to hang out, unless we're eating at a restaurant. WE ARE SO LAME :))

But that's the thing. We're content with just hanging out and making daldal at each other's houses. We have sleepovers and movie marathons. We get along so well with each other that we can entertain ourselves for hours (and hours and hours) on end by just talking and laughing at each other. It's been decades of being just us, so to have these new guys join the "fray" and actually gel really well with us -- that's quite a feat! Imagine, they can last hours with us without alcohol! That's pretty impressive! Haha!


"Tabing Dagat" :))


It's great that our boys get along with us and with each other pretty well, that it makes sense to bring them along to all our recent dinners and lakad. I've come to realize that it's important to get to know the people who love the people you love as well - because it's nice to see your friends being adored and cared for in a completely different light. And also, it's a way to show these boys how to treat us with the same level of love and respect that we give each other, if not more. Hello, we've been friends since our "Teacher, may I go to the CR?" days! Dapat lang they treat us like the queens that we are! :)

Thus leading me to my next point: I love these girls so, so much, that I really value their opinion on the people I date. And likewise, I'm glad they seek my thoughts too when it comes to their boys (or rather, men!) Which is why when people hurt the people I love, I get really disappointed - not because I'm a sucker for happy endings and rainbows and butterflies, but because I'm sad that there are people who fail to value the relationships they make with the girls I treat as my sisters. In the last year, we really went out of our way to get to know each other's boyfriends and bring them all together - which is something we've haven't done since ever. It was a big deal for all of us; it was like meeting the parents. To have gained our approval means we have trusted you with our friend. So to let her down meant letting all of us down too.

(Yeah, I'm talking about one person. It's unfortunate that he made a poor choice, and it was our friend who had to take the hit. Too bad, ayan tuloy, he wasn't able to join this trip! Haha. The Boyband can survive without him, thankyouverymuch. And so can our friend :P #endrant)




Obligatory cheesy couple pics. Competitive love team kami eh!


So, back to Borawan.

Since we couldn't let Anizza be the default photographer, since she's the balikbayan and had to be in most of the pictures, Hope was "bullied" into the role. She can't blame us, she brought with her an SLR! And she was the one who liked taking selfies.

You can measure how much we've missed each other by the amount of hirits we can make about Hope. :)) That's how much we love our girl. Look at her on top of a big-ass rock just to take a complete picture of all of us!



"Tara, iwan na natin si Hope!"


After a few hours (!) of walking around taking pictures, at around sunset, we decided to go back to our cottage. The rain started pouring on our boat ride back to Padre Burgos. It was a good call to go back early as we didn't want to be stuck out there on sea with the waves getting all high and dangerous.

Our trip was really koboy, in almost every sense of the word. For instance, in Padre Burgos there is currently an interruption on their water supply. They've not had a decent supply of water on their lines for two months now. So.. not a single drip in our comfort room. We had to make do with the very, very weak water stream from the faucet we found outside our house. Buhos and ipon ng tubig sa batya! It was fun, though. Na-skandalo ata yung mga pabo and manok na nakatambay sa labas ng bahay sa dami naming naligo. :))



The boat ride back from Borawan. 
LOOK. AT. THOSE. GRAY. CLOUDS.


Dinner was a generous serving of adobong manok and inihaw na tilapia. We had fun talking about each other's love stories - which is really cheesy and corny if you think about it. But in our defense, Anizza asked. After all it's the first time she's seeing all these couples, so she had every right to inquire :)) Then again, we realized we don't really know the exact stories behind each pair; it was fun having great laughs over everyone's silly beginnings.

Much to our surprise we all had "similar" first phases. It's cute hearing the boys tell the stories! Grabe, it really felt like an episode straight out of a baduy youth-oriented program! Medyo nababaduyan talaga ako while typing this. HAHAHA. But all in good fun and the spirit of camaraderie, I suppose. Game naman lahat eh. Maybe that's part of growing up too -- accepting that life is short, love is beautiful, why hide it? Baka nga #LoveAbangs talaga. (Ramon Bautista, preeeach!)


ANYWAY.

After the cheese-fest that was revisiting our histories, we negated the mushiness by playing a serious, and very manly tournament of: CARD GAMES. Lol! This was the continuation of our Bet On Your "Baby" play-offs we had last Christmas. (Ludwin and I are still the defending champs! Oh yeah! ...Ludwin and I are also the only ones who still care. Mehehe.) Pusoy, Pusoy Dos, and Bullshit (aka Bluff) became so intense because we did it by team, with the boys playing and the girls... cracking jokes and making unrelated side comments. We kept saying how worried we were that the boys might find us super lame and un-cool because we didn't have any other "fun" activities :)) But if there's anything we're good at, it's our talent of building up on each other's jokes. Sobrang witty lang eh. If we can't impress them with booze, we can at least make sure they know we're smart. It takes brilliance to be funny! :))

The group all went to bed before midnight because we wanted to start island-hopping early the next morning. We wanted to stay longer at the other islands, and since we were informed that the trip would take us about forty to an hour each, we had to make good use of our time.



The beautiful Puting Buhangin beach 


There are very few words that can suffice to depict the beauty that welcomed us as we reached the shores of Puting Buhangin. It took us about forty-five minutes to reach the island from our cottage, but it was so, so worth it. The sand was pristine white and the sea, a clear, gleaming blue. The beach looked like a stripped-down, younger cousin of Boracay. It wasn't too crowded when we arrived; we managed to find a hut big enough to accommodate us for our meal. Brunch consisted of daing, corned beef, and egg. It's the best breakfast I've had in a long while - and yes, it had everything to do with the place I was at and the people I was with.





Puting Buhangin is a little off the coast of Pagbilao. On our boat ride we passed by Pagbilao power plant, (a place my dad has gone to countless times, thanks to his job) and several other mini-islands along the way. Another scenic spot on the island of Puting Buhangin is a partly-hidden cave, the Kwebang Lampas. It's a cave that goes through the other side of the island, from where you'll see the rest of the calming, exquisite view of Tayabas Bay.

Exquisite is an understatement to describe that view, I'm telling you.

I'll go as far as saying that's Puting Buhangin is so much more scenic than Boracay. (And of course, Borawan, which is a bit more overrated compared to the other islands surrounding it.)  Because the crowd is so small and the island is without establishments, the place offers a more remarkable experience. It's peaceful and quiet; stripped bare of telcomm signals, celebrities, and party sounds.  It's a view that literally makes you pause and say, "Wow." It's beautiful in its simplicity.

In true Karla fashion, I savored every Little Mermaid moment I had on the beach. Little-known fact: I find serenity in swimming. It's the only sport I *know* and it's also the only sport I really find great comfort in. Being in the water is refreshing for me in so many ways; it's like hitting a recharge button and letting the waves carry away unnecessary baggage. I love being out there at sea, but I love being on a pool just the same. As long as I'm in the water, I should be fine. Which is why I don't mind the heat of the sun as long as the sea is as clear and as spectacular as this.



By the shore of the gorgeous Puting Buhangin
Kye, Tom, Joa, Tixie, Kassey, Armand, Hope, Anizza, Ludwin, Karla, Mikka, and Jumar


Being there, so far away from home, it made me appreciate many things, small things and big things, most of which go unnoticed. Sure, there are things to feel worried about. But I have friends, family, people who love me; I have the luxury of being surrounded by the warmth and support of people who know my worth. What is there to complain about? :)

I find great solace in the fact that our group has managed to nurture our friendship after many, many years. As I've said before, we've been through so much: individually and as a group. But there's still so much growing up to do. At 22, what do we know, right? Life has changed in many ways for all of us, but I'm sure it's only the beginning of a lot more. I guess I'm waxing poetic about all this because as my third year in law school approaches, I realize how much work I still have to do as regards my my career. I'm still adjusting to a lot of things, despite being settled and comfortable in other parts of my life. Sometimes, I wish I could just go back to my checkered-black-and-white-skirt-wearing and Paulinian-Hymn-singing past. But then again, I wouldn't trade this level of friendship right now for anything. We've become this close because of the kind of people we've become after high school. We've grown up together.

But being with them also affirms the fact that there are certain parts of myself I shouldn't let go. There are parts of me that are okay, that are loved, that ought to not change ever - wherever life leads me. These are people who have stuck with me since we were doe-eyed graders learning to write cursive for the first time. We all learned Algebra and dissected frogs together. And now we're being good girlfriends together! We've loved so many versions of each other - I'm sure there's always room to love all the future versions as well.




Even this version of me that's such a cheesy girlfriend. :)) It was great having Ludwin with me for this trip. Travel has always been on top of our list of to-do's, and to have had this chance was definitely one for the books. It's always nice experiencing new things with him, because he's always game for anything but he never forgets his responsibilities. He embraces spontaneity, but he makes sure he's still also a step ahead. And he's so, so funny! I've never known a guy who cracks me up the same way he does. We're super weird together -- like, sniffing-each-other's-kilikili-when-there's-a-chance weird -- but we found out that we're weirder when we're out of Manila, apparently. Arguing-about-whose-mouthwash-is-better, deciding-who-puts-on-sunblock-better weird! And at the end of the day, isn't that what we all want? Someone to argue about mouthwash with? :))


Last stop: Dampalitan Island


Our group didn't want to leave Puting Buhangin (ever), but after a few hours, we had to take the boat ride to the other side of Padre Burgos, for Dampalitan Island. The trip back took about forty-five minutes, I believe. I forgot how long exactly though, because I think we all fell asleep!





But that didn't mean we had no energy left for pictures. Dampalitan was pretty much the same as Borawan: it had jellyfish in its waters too, which meant only a certain portion was safe for swimming. But the beach itself was beautiful too, and it was almost empty. We were probably the only large group there. We didn't swim anymore however, since it was already almost two o'clock in the afternoon, and we wanted to get back to Manila early. We took the obligatory couple selfies, complete group pics (thanks to our driver, Kuya Arnold), and kunwari-nageemote-sa-dalampasigan poses before finally heading back to Padre Burgos.






"Last-minute plans are always the best," --  that should probably be our barkada's motto by now. We came home wanting to plan ahead already because we had so. much. fun. But knowing us, even if we plan three years ahead, we'd still end up finalizing everything just the night before :))

I really hope we get to do this again real soon. And complete this time! (Hi Tin, Nica, and Inna.) I don't know how that's going to work out next year, since my "summer" will be on June and July. But we'll figure it out. We always do.

If there's anything this friendship (and this trip) has taught me, it's probably trust - in the universe, in your friends, in your friends' ability to Google last-ditch resorts available. And to trust that while there are things we can never be sure of, there are also things that will always stay the same.

Like friends, and great adventures, and the idea of Hope being our favorite comic. :))


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(Photo credits: Hope Velasco and Mikka Valenzuela)

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Summer, so far: Law firm internship (aka Getting my Ally McBeal on)

May 23, 2014    |    0 Comments
Someone asked me on my question box how I'm spending my vacation, given the 4-month break thanks to the UP calendar shift. Our classes start in August this coming school year, so I still have until July to enjoy freedom and embrace it with open arms.

So far, I've spent most the last two months doing what any normal law student (I assume!) would do: bum around and savor this justified (and probably even much-deserved) laziness. I can be completely not productive and NOT FEEL BAD ABOUT IT. Or be productive with other stuff I actually enjoy, like read books for leisure or learning songs on the piano. Basta, guilt-free and totally acceptable. I've been sleeping and waking up to the feeling of stress and panic every day during the school year, so to have the luxury of doing absolutely nothing is just all kinds of glorious and wonderful.

But of course, to spend the entire four months on Bum Mode isn't exactly a great idea either - well, at least for me. I didn’t want to be too idle because then I might never want to go back to school again. Haha! So I decided to apply for an internship at a law firm, in hopes of making me feel like I'm still a law student despite the break. Or actually, it's more of, convincing myself that I am a competent enough law student to be thrown into the real setting.

And now here I am, working behind a desk, trying to draft pleadings, revising appeals, putting together formal offer of exhibits – actual legal work. The most frustrating thing for me about law school is that our professors only see us as case-readers, codal-absorbers, and exam-takers. Of course that is what legal education is about, and that is how we are supposed to be taught the foundations of the law. But that’s not all that the profession is about. Your performance in school may or may not necessarily be reflective of your worth as a student of a law. It shouldn't.

Sometimes, we forget that.

So here I am.

To work in a firm and to know that one is being trusted with actual legal work – the real deal – that’s definitely affirming. And while I’ve come to accept the fact that the “business” of a law school (i.e. the business of being mean, unkind, and not at all encouraging) is something I cannot escape, there’s hope that I still may be able to survive it after all. If I can hold my own in a law firm, drafting up pleadings and trying to come up with defenses for a hearing, then I’m sure as hell I can do just as well in school. I have to, and I will.

I’m glad and fortunate to be given substantial work in my office. Drafting pleadings makes me hit two birds with one stone: doing a lot of writing (which I miss), and learning much about the law as applied in practice. It truly is a great experience, and so far, I’m glad to have taken this opportunity to make myself feel better about where I’m at and where I’m heading.

So yes, friends, I am officially a working girl now (and in Makati, no less!) At least for the meantime.

Here’s to hoping I get my Ally McBeal on.

Cue theme song! I've been searching my soul tonight, I know there's so much more to life. Now I know I can shine a light, to find my way back home… oooh yeaaah…


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Summer, so far: Singapore

May 22, 2014    |    0 Comments
Last week, my mom, grandparents and I went MIA for a spontaneous week-long trip to Singapore. We've been planning to fly there for the longest time now, but I just couldn't find the time to squeeze it in given law school, my summer internship, and the then-undecided finality of the school calendar shift. A few weeks ago though, the cosmos aligned somehow and I managed to find a week-long respite - so of course, off we went! Also, my last Singapore trip was five years ago (can you believe 2009 was FIVE years ago?!), so I was "due" for a visit to my aunt, whom I terribly miss.


With our dear friend, Cookie Monster


Singapore has always been second-home to us. My mom's sister has worked as an architect in Singapore for most of the 90's and the latter part of the 00's (she was the over-all project manager of Universal Studios), so the Land of the Merlion has been our default go-to place for a vacation. Singapore is special because it's the first country I visited abroad (I was 2 years old when I first rode an airplane!), and it was the only other country I've been to for most of my childhood. Which is not to say I ever get tired of the place.


At the rooftop park of Vivo City, feeling like a 16-year-old fashion Tumblr blogger :))


It's refreshing visiting the place because there's always something new and exciting to look forward to every time I visit. Most people don't think that Singapore is a nice "summer getaway" destination because it's all city: completely urban, and no traces of nature. But that's what I really love about it too. I like being in the city - especially in a city as clean and as fascinating as Singapore. The transportation is efficient, the skyline is pristine, the famous spots are impressive (both in the technical and artistic fronts), and the people are great (because almost every other person there is Pinoy! Haha). Their culture fascinates me the most though, because Singapore is a melting pot of different races, with Chinese, South, and Southeast Asians residing the place.

In short, Singapore will always be special to me. And it was so great to be back there again, especially right now when I so badly needed a time to relax, unwind, and put things in perspective.


At the viewing deck of the Marina Bay Sands SkyPark


Can't wait to return next year in June, hopefully!


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P.S. Forgive the #OOTD pictures. Minsan lang naman, haha.

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