No more cancer in my life

At one point, I realized my faith is being tested and giving up felt more convenient than fighting, but God is good to those who are patient in suffering.


Two days ago, I received the good news from my physicians at the Makati Medical Center that no cancer cells were detected from my second biopsy procedure. It was a great news, but more than that it was a milestone. According to a September 2017 Inquirer research, 11 new cancer cases are added in the Philippines everyday and 7 adults die of cancer every hour. The pulmonary mass that sprouted in the lower left lobe of my lungs could have been one of those cases. It could have ended my dreams and my life in an instant. But the mass was benign. This is a first step to my second life. An end to a year of drought in my career. A nod to my unfinished goals and impeded travels. Now I can continue where I started. The lump that greatly affected my life and caused me so much anxiety is gone. I can finally sleep better knowing that my condition isn’t life threatening anymore. Most importantly, I’m back on track with a more positive outlook and better appreciation of the value of my life.

The past one year and five months have taught me many lessons. For most of 2017, I spent my days going in and out of three different hospitals. I lost my Mom who died of heart attack last December. In the middle of my battle; I was mocked on social media by some friends whom I thought I could lean on. At one point, I realized my faith is being tested. There was a time when it felt more convenient to just give up but I knew I had to remain strong for the sake of those who were counting on me. When you’re in your 30s, it is painful to lose people you have long considered as friends but it was time to let them go. They say the best thing about the worst time of your life is that you get to see the true colors of everyone. I have accepted the fact that sometimes, the people we used to care so much about may not be part of the next chapters of our lives. People make choices and they did. I acknowledge their choices. And it’s a good thing —it means I will have more space for new relationships.

Sometimes, the real cancer in our lives are the people who just can’t be happy for us and our so-called friends who keep on discrediting our achievements and stabbing us in the back. It’s okay to let them go. Life is difficult enough to deal with toxic people. God is good to those who believe in His mercy and remain patient in suffering. I praise Him for the gift of life and for the people who never left me. Thanks to my family and friends who stopped at nothing to make sure that I’m alright. Special mention to my folks at work and my management who extended their consideration and allowed me to work from home while I recover. Thanks to Dra. Abby Zaraspe, Dr. Jackson Dy and their team of nurses at Makati Med for taking care of me. Thanks to those who prayed and wished me good health (you know who you are, local and overseas). Adversity teaches us to be humble, kind and forgiving and that exactly is the main takeaway from this experience. I will continue to be grateful for what I have and what I don’t because I know I am exactly where I’m supposed to be now —a place without cancer.


Shutting out the bullies and loving it

I’m not one to burn bridges but when it comes to toxic people, really I don’t mind.

I’m deleting people on social media.

I have often openly discussed how patient and understanding I am with people especially those who have been part of my small circle. However, I have come to learn that some people would really push you to your limits until you no longer have a choice but to shut them out of your life.

A few years ago, a certain group of people from my former circle has decided it was probably a good idea to make it their business to attack me verbally or in the form of memes on social media.

During the first few years of their bullying, I have tried to ignore them and remain silent. I figured if I didn’t give a fuck, they would get tired and eventually stop. But three years down the line, their tauntings and bashings have turned to hurtful insults that it has become incredibly difficult to ignore them.

Haters gonna hate

They bashed me for being a social climber. By definition, a social climber is someone who is eager to gain a higher social status either by pretending to be rich or anyone that becomes friends with someone else if they have something that they want which often involves people with money or power. For the most part, social climbers become friends with people who know people so that they can get what they want by using their connections. (Source: Urban Dictionary)

This is where their accusations get laughable because they are barking at the wrong tree. In fact, associating myself with powerful people is probably the very last thing in my mind. I despise pleasing powerful people because I grew up knowing my family was a victim of the oppression and bullying of our rich neighbors. Yes, we were bullied for being poor. And if I wanted a higher social status, I’d be rubbing elbows with rich friends instead of sticking to my simple and average (but awesome) life. That is why I have almost zero connections at work or in government. I hate kissing asses that is why it takes time for me to get the promotion that I want at work. I have accepted long ago that I suck at networking and I have been contented with just a small circle of people who are not only good friends to me but also accepts me despite of my relatively lowkey status in the society. So how on earth am I a social climber? What’s interesting is that, this feedback came from people whose friends almost always borrowed money from others just to show off and achieve their travel goals.

Second, they attacked me for posting stuffs on social media. They say I’m pretending to be rich. I’m not pretending to be rich. The stuff I post are stuff I bought or acquired with my own hard-earned money meaning I worked my ass off to get the things I want and these bitter people think I owe them an explanation. I did not borrow money from people to buy my own house and car. I saved and worked hard to pay it all. But people don’t deserve to hear an honest confession because they want to destroy me and discredit my achievements. Well, I am who I am and I worked hard to achieve whatever I have now so I will flaunt whatever it is that I own and I don’t give a fuck if it triggers all the insecurities in them. In Tagalog, anong pakialam mo nangungutang ba ako sayo?

Third, they bashed me for not walking the talk. Recently, I checked in to a community church and these people was quick to say I should be ashamed because I own a Twitter account that posts revealing pictures and yet I had the audacity to come to church. My Twitter account is a public account with a small amount of following and while I post topless photos, aren’t all millenials? What’s the connection of going to church to my Twitter account? Are they implying that I don’t deserve to believe in God because I am a sinner? Clearly they have a distorted view of spirituality but why should I expect anything good to come out from this bunch. The level of their stupidity is immeasurable. In Tagalog, kahit tumira ka pa nang mahabang panahon sa first world country, utak talangka ka pa rin.

This feedback came from someone who is so promiscuous he had warned me to not talk about the gay places he visit when he’s in the country to our friends. This feedback came from someone who acts straight but knows all the darkest and wildest places to have fun at. This feedback came from someone who tried to lure me to come with him to a gay bath house in Quezon City and keep it a secret. This feedback came from someone who uses Grindr app just as active as any gay guy would. The level of hypocrisy this guy possesses is tantamount to the perennial hate he personally harbors towards me when I never did anything wrong to him. In Tagalog, naiinggit ka ba? Bakit hindi mo gamitin ang milyones mo para iparetoke ang ugali mo?

Also, it is important to note that these people only assumed I was trying to go to church because I checked in to one but they didn’t know what I was actually doing there. What if I was just fetching someone? What if I was just delivering food or merchandise. They did not care about the details. They just wanted to attack me no matter how baseless their accusations appear to be. I would never reveal the reason why I went to church because it was personal to me and people like them do not have the right to know.

Fourth, they basically just troll what they see on my social media timelines in an attempt to annoy or taunt me to respond. It was clear that this bunch hated me so much and so I thought they would just unfriend me or something. Only they did not. And only recently did I realize that they will never unfriend me because then they would not see what I post and they would not have a source to their bullying.

For three years, I have tried to ignore their attacks and just went on with my life. I never retaliated or anything. They never heard a single bashing from me eventhough there were a lot of laughable things to poke fun of in their lives too. I just avoided the people who kept on bringing me down for as long as I could. I worked hard to improve my life without stepping on others. In fact, I have become fully independent in my attempt to prove to myself that I do not need other people to turn my life around.

But when they started bashing me for going to church, I have realized it was time to cut ties with them completely. When I did, I have discovered how easy and self-fulfilling decision it was to remove toxic people out of my life. For the first time, I was able to breathe smoothly and think more clearly. It was the best decision ever. In Tagalog, ang sarap sa pakiramdam na wala na kayo sa buhay ko. Bakit nga ba ngayon ko lang ginawa eh hindi naman talaga tayo naging magkakaibigan. Mga plastic!

It’s okay to cut ties with toxic people

When people that used to be so close to you start to ruin your life, it is better to shut them out rather than fixing the relationship. After all, if they truly care about you, they would never throw in unfair judgment just to intentionally hurt your feelings. They are vexations to your spirit. They do not deserve to be in your life. People will always find fault on you but never doubt the beauty of your own truth.

For as long as I work hard to get to where I want to be, I will never be afraid of bullies. They can judge and hate all they want but it’s them who have further to fall. Lastly, I will never hesitate to shut toxic people out of my life not because I cower but because I deserve to have a peace of mind and I am in control of who I let into my life and who I evict from it.

May the bridges I burn light the way

I figure I shall end with this popular quote. Sometimes, old friends are not necessarily good for you. Certain old habits sometimes bring us to the wrong directions. By shutting out these connections, you metaphorically break through from this situation and are able to achieve a powerful change in your life.

I am working super hard to become who I’m meant to be, and achieve all the things I want to achieve and if you have nothing good to add to my life or to give back to me in anyway just leave me the fuck alone. And if you dont, well I’m not one to burn bridges but when it comes to toxic people, really I don’t mind.

I’m 32 and this is what I’ve learned from life so far

I wrote this blog to address an old issue that has been bothering me: our “so-called” friends who just can’t be happy for us.

I wrote this blog because I often see articles on Facebook that seemed to suggest that millenials should save while they are young and invest in their future instead of traveling or living the life they want to live in the present. While I agree that saving for the future is important, I also believe that everyone has the right to spend and enjoy life while they are still young. By “right” I mean free from criticisms, stigma and judgment. I don’t particularly like it when these people (most of them networking rep or members of multilevel marketing companies) make it appear as if spending my hard earned money on things that I want is like the biggest sin ever. One guy, a former school mate and friend of mine who has been recruiting me to join him in his networking business even asked me how long I’ve been working in the corporate world and did I ever get sad when I look at my bank account and I was like, “LOL, dude no.” I mean, why are these people acting like they are some financial experts who can tell me what and what not to do with my hard-earned moolahs? Who gave these bastards the right to criticize me when I do the things that make me human? B*tch, y’all can post those sickening “travel now pulubi later” memes but b*tch it’s my money, I can do whatever I want with it so mind your own savings and don’t act like you’re my fucking accountant because really dear, you do not know a thing about the struggles I’ve been through to get to where I am now. Do not make pre-assumptions if you have never walked the very path that I’ve been through. Moreover, I wrote this blog to address an old issue that has been bothering me: our so-called friends who just can’t be happy for us.

1. You can spend your hard-earned money but don’t forget to live beyond your means.

In this generation where elite young social climbers who will do anything for the latest iPhone are quickly taking over our conservative society, we are repeatedly told to live beyond our means. For Filipino millenials, that basically means work now and save our money instead of spending it even on things we love to do such as traveling, buying gadgets, getting a car, or living in a beautiful place in the heart of the city. We are mocked when we buy coffee at Starbucks because we are not born rich and therefore do not deserve it. People raise their eyebrows when they see us traveling because they think it is luxury. Our relatives take it against us when they see us wearing branded clothes and shoes because they think we should just wear clothes bought out of Baclaran and Divisoria because that’s what we, the commoners do. Don’t get me wrong, I love to buy stuff from Baclaran and Divisoria but I also get annoying reactions from my relatives when I buy stuff from Uniqlo, F&H and Zara. They look at me from head to foot and kind of make it appear like it was a waste of money because I don’t look like the typical rich kid with Nivea fair complexions so the branded clothes won’t fit me. Hey, I’m proud of my moreno skin and I do not use Kojic whitening soap but saying branded clothes won’t fit me is just like saying all the moreno people cannot wear branded clothes. Seriously, this is the kind of society we belong to and it’s gross. I believe that as long as it’s your money, you can spend it in anyway you want. Just be responsible with the outcome.

2. If you are born poor, you can change your life by working hard.

The problem with the Filipino society is that we are so used to the poor lifestyle that we limit what we can achieve (or in this case, what we can afford) in life. We are so used to being called “a third world” country that we no longer want to move up or change it. We are so used to living a “simple” life of “isang kahig isang tuka” (paycheck to paycheck) that we quickly judge those who want to change the status quo. We believe that because we are born poor, we should just act like a poor person for the rest of our dear lives because acting otherwise is hypocrisy. We kind of entangled ourselves in our gross colonial mentalities that we don’t seem to realize that we are living in a free country now. We have the freedom to choose whether to get stuck in poverty or work harder to uplift our standard of living so that our kids and their kids will not be born poor like we once were.

3. Do not deprive yourself of the things that make you happy.

Why deprive yourself of all the enjoyment that this life can offer when you can have a great job and can afford the life? Yes, you are not born rich but with your newly-acquired college education and professional skills, you certainly have the power to change your life. You can do anything and be anything you want as long as you work hard for it. That being said, I think posting great photos of your travel adventures or your new car on social media is not “pretending” to be rich as what our insecure bashers say it is. For as long as you don’t borrow money from other people just to show off, you’re totally fine. I think sipping Starbucks while wearing Dr. Martens is fine as long as you still have enough budget for the next three months. I think traveling is fine as long as you have saved and planned enough for the entire trip the previous year. Not to mention, traveling is not as expensive as ignorant people in the Philippines think. There’s a lot of airline and hotel accomodation promos online if you are keen enough to find them. Just because you do not know those perks exist does not mean they don’t. Also, what’s the whole point in saving for the future if you are not happy in your present? Yes you have saved millions but you won’t enjoy it that much when you’re 60 years old. I would prefer to spend my money and go skydiving, snorkeling and traveling while I’m still so young and strong so that I will have stories to tell to my grandkids when my hair is grey. I don’t want to be a sad and empty old chap who has money but cannot do nothing with it anymore. So I’d say shutdown your relatives and friends who consistently tell you that you may be spending a lot. They do not have a frigging say on what you’re doing with your life because you’re working hard for all of it.

4. Do not listen to people who tell you what and what not to do with your money.

So what is wrong with people who question others who just want to enjoy the fruits of their labor? I will go anywhere I want to because I deserve to see the world. I will buy that high-end gadget because I spent the previous year working my ass up to get it. I will buy that cool Adidas or Nike because I’ve dreamed of wearing those brands eversince I was young and because I never had a new pair of shoes growing up. (A short story: when I was in elementary, my parents couldn’t afford even the cheapest shoes so I never had a pair. All of my shoes were either pre-loved or worn out pairs from our rich neighbors. You see where I am coming from now?)

People have different experiences growing up and those experiences contribute to how we make decisions today. I was deprived of many things while growing up and while I was thought not to be too materialistic, part of the normal kid in me dreamed of riding a bike, owning a new pair of shoes, having new toys that aren’t made from wood etc. so I told myself I’m gonna finish my studies and buy those things for myself. And I did.

5. It’s okay not to have a lot of savings.

Having a considerable amount of money in the bank is a wise thing to do and should be everyone’s main priority but if you grew up in the Philippines; chances are, you are burdened with many responsibilities from the moment you graduated from college to the time you landed your first job —from paying the bills at home to providing for your entire family. And while there are vlogs that tell us that it is not our obligation to support our family members, it is a completely different situation in this country. And it is harder to relinquish ourselves from these obligations especially since we grew up being told of what our roles should be. In the Philippines, we grew up in extended families with very strong family ties. We were raised to be compassionate and generous and caring and to never leave our family behind. In other words, we were raised to be “martyrs” who will do anything for the family. We grew up to be the “breadwinner,” the hero of the family, the one who will save the clan from poverty and whatnot. Saving money for ourselves then becomes a challenge because our earnings are generally pre-distributed to various needs even before we receive it. Again, it is very important that we save for our future but it is fine if you can’t save much. You know where the bulk of your money goes anyway and it is a choice you make whether you should start to teach your family how to fish or continue following the Filipino tradition and suffer the same dilemma. Still, I wouldn’t downplay the importance of having at least an emergency fund if you cannot save more. The whole point is, it is a choice you make. When it comes to your money, you reap the consequences of your actions. You are accountable to your own money and where it goes.

6. An insurance is a must.

While it is a challenge to save money as a breadwinner, you are definitely putting yourself and your whole family at risk if you do not have at least one insurance policy. An insurance policy is a must have for millenials like us with active lifestyles and fondness for extreme activities. An insurance is different from an emergency fund in a way that you can reap its benefits even if you have not fully paid it yet. An emergency fund depends on how much you have invested in it. If you have saved P80,000 in your emergency fund, that’s what you”ll get by the time you need it. An insurance policy entitles you to more benefits that you actually paid for. It takes care of the people you love when you can no longer do it for them. You need to at least make sure that when something happens to you, your entire family will not scramble in order to get you a decent funeral service. If you truly love your family, talk to a Financial Advisor now.

7. Crab mentality is the disease of the nation.

The problem with the Filipino society is that there are too many righteous people around us who make it their business to interfere in other people’s lives. We kind of like to shove our own beliefs on other people’s faces not knowing that they too have their own. It’s called respect; respect to the beliefs and personal principles of others and that’s what most Filipinos lack. Just because you cannot afford to travel doesn’t mean your friends or relatives should also stop traveling. Just because you like to wear things from Baclaran and Divisoria does not mean I should also wear them. Other people simply want to uplift their lives and you do not have the right to stop them. If I work in a corporate world and want to buy a car in the Philippines, chances are my “so-called friends” will raise a brow and brand me as a social climber not knowing what “social climber” actually means. In the Philippines, if I travel too many times and post my pictures on Facebook, people will criticize me and say I am a show off. If they see me doing well based on my social media posts, they will make up stories to discredit my attempt at having a great life eventhough I never interfered with theirs.

Crab mentality is a common Filipino trait that I do not understand and cannot tolerate especially if it comes from people who I expect more from like my “so called educated friends.” Having said that, I’d say the real problem is not the growing number of millenials who want to change their lives but the presence of conservative, judgmental, insecure, and envious people in our own circles. More often than not, these people also pretend to be our friends. They make you feel like they are happy for you and your achievements but secretly devicing a plot to put you down.

8. Our friends want to see us do good but never better than them.

When I started posting photos of a new car I recently bought, some people quickly concluded that I’m a social climber. Some of them even asked whose car it was because they thought I was just using someone else’s car as a prop to make it look like I own one. When the news about what some of my “so called friends” were talking about reached me, my first reaction was more of disappointed rather than angry. I was disappointed because I thought they were intellectual and highly-educated people. It turned out that they are as low as the gossipmongers in the slums of Manila. It seems to me that a person can achieve so much success in life, travel the world and meet new people but still remain grossly ignorant and narrowminded.

The truth is, your so-called friends want to see you doing well in life but never better than them. When they see you doing great, their immediate reaction is to discredit our achievement and make up stories to put us down. There are some people who are obviously doing so much better than you, having more money than you, travelled to more countries than you’ve ever been to, but for some inexplicable reason they are still envious of your little feat. I kind of shake my head when I see or hear about these people because I personally know some of them. I keep asking myself why these people, despite of their success still choose to gossip and belittle others. To me, it reflects how sad and miserable and pathetic these people are regardless of their money and status in life. You cannot expect some people to feel happy for you and your achievements. They are just not thrilled and they will never be because they see you as a threat. You however, do not owe these people an explanation. The less fuck you give, the better.

9. You’re strong enough to win without a war.

Time and time again, you’ll run into misunderstandings with friends or family members because of differences in opinion or just their plain stupidity and ignorance. You, being the rational one cannot stand their B.S. so you struggle to put up with it until you’ve had enough. There are times when the other party would try to taunt and capitalize in your silence because they see it as weakness but really it was you being nice to them because you knew that a confrontation is useless. You do not need to fight these people. They can bully and talk behind your back and you couldn’t care less for as long as they don’t physically confront or hurt you. I have my so-called friends who constantly try to taunt me either by posting annoying statuses on social media or by talking behind my back but I never fought back because I knew it would not change a thing. They are my enemies and they will never like me no matter what I do. So just stand your ground and don’t let any of these things stop you. Sometimes, the best wars are won by not fighting at all because you do not need anyone’s validation. You do not owe them trouble. Do not fall into their trap. It will make you one of them.

10. Social media isn’t everything.

You can block people you don’t want to see on social media if that would help you get a peace of mind. Not everyone has the strength to stand negative people and their shitty posts so do not hesitate to block them if you ever feel the need to. You can also remove people who are not necessarily negative but mostly because you don’t personally know them and you don’t have a common interest or real life interaction. These people do not deserve to see your life updates. Either they don’t give a fuck or they maliciously do. Reserve your social media to people who know you and who deserve to see your milestones.

In this era where social media likes and comments kind of affect how we live our daily lives, it is easy to get offended when we don’t get likes or comments to our posts. One thing I’ve learned is that the number of likes and comments in our posts do not define us. It certainly should not affect our self-esteem. I have stopped counting the likes and started looking for real people who I can have real and genuine conversation with instead.

11. It’s okay to let some people go.

One of the greatest quotes I’ve come across with goes something like this, “Do not be afraid to lose people. Be afraid to lose your true self by trying to please everyone.” And I couldn’t agree more because in life, you just cannot be with everyone forever. Time and time again, you will come across people with different point of views and no matter how you try to be nice to them, they will eventually irk you and ruin your day. You can avoid these type of people. You can say no to them. You don’t have to accept their fake friendship just so you wouldn’t hurt their fake feelings. Save yourself from the person that you might become if you keep joining these people. If some of your so-called friends are always trying to pull you down, making you the subject of their jokes in private chatrooms where you aren’t invited, cut your ties with them. Never be afraid to lose friends because the fact that you are contemplating whether to let them go or not is proof enough that you have to. Same thing goes with a failing relationship. If you feel like your partner is making it impossible for you to grow and be the kind of person you need to be, shut them out of your life. A person who loves you will never hinder your progress. They will support and love you the way you are. Otherwise, you’re with the wrong person.

12. Be yourself and be proud of who you are.

While you can be anything or anyone you want to be in life, please do not forget to be yourself. Please do not forget your roots and the people who have helped you get to where you are today. It is easy to get lost in all the beauty and glam of this world especially when they’re suddenly just within your reach but remember to never forget where you came from. For as long as you know yourself, you will stay true to it and work hard to be better than your past self. Remember, the only competition you are in is with your previous self. Do not be afraid to fight for the things that you believe in. Do not let the opinion of other people destroy your inner piece. You are original and there’s no one better.

13. Take care of your health.

Health is wealth. We often hear this from fitness enthusiasts or see this from Instagram hashtags. But what does it take to really care for one’s health? For someone who was diagnosed with a lump in his lungs, I’d say not much. Why? Because really, it is not that hard to take care of our health but we often ignore it either because we are busy making a living or we feel that we don’t need to because we’re okay. I am guilty of both and look at what happened to me. But sometimes, being okay or not seeing any symptoms does not mean our health is doing fine. There are many illness and diseases that don’t show any symptoms until it is too late. Other illnesses just don’t have symptoms at all. I used to avoid health checkups before. Oftentimes, I would even skip the free medical checkups provided at work. But after I got the lump inside my chest and was hospitalized for nearly a year, I have learned the importance of seeing my doctor every once in awhile to do a random health check or tests just to make sure everything in my body is really in good condition. Prevention is better than cure. If you are working and have a free health card, take advantage of it. Nobody would take care of your body and health if you don’t. And it would be depressing once you know it is too late to do so.

14. Live and let live.

As I grow older, I have learned the importance of respect and seeing the good in everything. I have stopped judging other people based on what they post on social media. I started feeling happy for other people for their achievements instead of being envious because I know that it’s okay not to have everything in this life. I started to celebrate my friends’ season and accept that maybe if I work hard enough I can also celebrate mine. I stopped gossiping about other people’s personal life because that is none of my business. I have started to shift my focus on my own career path and life goals. I have begun to choose the people who have chosen me and acknowledged those who never gave up befriending me. I have learned to be the bigger person in every situation when other people, in many occassions, won’t do the same for me. I started to live and let live because that’s the secret to a happy and contented life.

At the end of the day, you have absolute power on how your life will turn out because everything is a choice you make. Work hard, spend your money on things that make you happy, save if you can, live life to the fullest because that’s what you are here for. There is no turning back to the past or present once they’re gone. Why waste the right time to enjoy life when you are in your youth and has all the energy and strength to do anything and everything? Why save too much and wait until you are an old man before you see the world out there? What’s good in being a billionaire when you are 70 years old? What would be your best story if you have a lot of money but too old to travel or buy the modern gadget? What good it be to have so much wealth when you can no longer see clearly or hear effectively? Stop telling people to stop doing what makes them happy. Stop spreading lies about the future when nobody knows what it would be. Live in the present because that’s what we all have for now. And if you die tomorrow, at least you have experienced a lot and did a lot in your life. At least you have lived your life the way you wanted it.

Scott Tonges, one of my favorite writers, once said this in his piece called “5 things I wish I’d known in my 30s before owning a house and having kids,”

“You need to become critical of your life. Ask ‘why’, and ensure the answer aligns with your true self. After all, you’re the one living your life — not your parents, friends, bosses, co-workers, relatives or strangers.”

I will survive because you taught me how

I was crushed by people whom I thought I could lean on. I was belittled and mocked behind my back by a bunch of people whom I thought were my true friends.

It’s been a month since my mother passed away. She was alone in her house and was brought to the hospital by her neighbor four days before Christmas Day. She did not even reach the hospital. She died in the car on the way to the emergency. The medical staff who performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on her told us that she died of cardiac arrest and was dead on arrival. She was 66 years old.

I was at work when I received the call from my sister that our mom was brought to the hospital. It was around 10:00 PM. At first, I thought it was just one of those regular insulin rushes since my mom had been battling with diabetes for nine years. I thought that she would get injected the usual meds to stabilize her sugar levels and that she would be fine. At 1:30AM however, my sister called to deliver the sad news. I couldn’t accept it at one blow. My mom and I was texting around 9:00PM and she was happily recounting how her day went. I had to ask my sister to repeat eventhough she had said it clearly. “Mom has passed away.” I left work and ran to my car. I didn’t even know how I got to the hospital but when I did and saw my mom’s lifeless body lying on a stretcher inside a zipped bag, I knew I had to be strong. And as I walked near her, the pain fell on me like an avalance tearing up my heart and crushing every single bone in my body.

If you’d ask me how losing my mom must have felt, I cannot provide an answer. I can only tell you that it was unimaginable. It was like losing myself in the process or one hundred million times over. It was the most painful of all pains I have ever experienced in my entire life. My mother was my only best friend. She was the one who always accepted me for everything that I am and without inhibitions. She was the one who never left my side even when everyone in my life had left. Yes, there was a point in my life when I thought everyone had abandoned me including my close friends and tight circles. I was crushed by people whom I thought I could lean on. I was belittled and mocked behind my back by a bunch of people whom I thought were my true friends. She told me to forgive and move on but never forget. I could never explain the feeling of loss and emptiness now that my mother had left me for good because she showed me what true friendship means.

She was my confidante. She never gets tired of hearing my stories. And she always listened with utmost care and enthusiasm as if she was part of my struggles and successes. Indeed, she was. And it makes this piece all the more heartbreaking because my tears cannot help falling as I type every word.

I love my mom so much. She was the best mother in the world. She was the perfect best friend anyone could ask for. She always had the best advice and the kindest of words to live by. I owe so much of what I have become to her. And I owe her my life because she brought me into this beautiful world.

Growing up, I had so many ups and downs. I had been suffering from depression since I was eleven and my Mom did everything she could so that I didn’t succumb to the deadly condition. By the time I was in college, I had overpowered depression. I had totally conquered its influence in my brain. Nevertheless, my mom would constantly check me out even when I’m already living on my own.

Unlike some, my mother never made me feel that I was different. She never judged me for the things I did and instead encouraged me to remain kind and good to other people. She taught me that everyone will hurt me but it’s up to me to choose who among them are worth the pain. She would always joke around and tell me I was worth the pain. I know it was true.

I miss my mom so much now. My tears have subsided but the pain is still fresh. I don’t even know when this would be over but I guess it’s going to be around for awhile. Unlike my three older siblings, I am not married and have no kids of my own. I do not have a family and the thought of being totally alone scares me even more now that my mom is gone.

I thought I was living the good life. But I have realized that life is no good without a mother by your side. I wanna take back the days when I could freely hug and kiss her. I wanna take back the days when I’d come home to her big smile and loving embrace. Those days —where are they now? How do I get another chance?

Weeks after my mom passed away, I was a mess and I was crying everyday. I was alone in her house, standing on her porch and watching the same sunset that she had always watched alone when she was alive. How I wish I could watch the sunset with her now.

Inspite of everything, I had to come to terms with myself and pick up the pieces of my broken heart because I knew I should not let this tragedy destroy me. I still have a life to live. I still have dreams to chase. My mom was the reason I was always motivated to do better. She was the reason I fought for my life when I had lung disease last year. I have to continue her legacy.

You can say I’m living alone now. No more weekend visit to my mom’s house whenever I get the chance. Her house had since been opened for lease. And it was painful to see new faces move in. But just like me, the house had to go on as well. It is important to have people in it so it would be taken cared of.

I’m still scared at times. But the thoughts of my mom had kept me sane and positive. I have realized that I could use her death as my own motivation to live. I know that’s what she would have wanted me to do —to find the goodness in every bad, to be positive amidst all the negativities, to remain humble and kind towards people who wants to discredit my achievements.

I remember the long conversations I’ve had with my mom about friendship and why people seem to make it their business to put others down. She told me to remain silent eventhough I was hurting because those people would never feel pity or sympathy towards me. “They are not your person, they do not care about what you feel so just stay away from those people,” she said.

Life is difficult especially if you do not have a lot of friends. But I am thankful to those who stayed with me and those who never judged me. They are the people who truly know me to the core. They are the ones who would not believe in one-sided stories and stories made up by malicious people out of assumptions based on what I post on social media. My mom may no longer be here to listen to my sentiments about friendship but she always told me to ditch fake people in my life as early as I can because they will only hinder my growth as a person.

I think I have learned a lot of lessons from my mom to help me survive the coming years. I know I will survive this because she taught me to be a fighter. I know I will make it through anything because she taught me to never give up. I will survive because she taught me how.

Some people just don’t care about you and that’s okay

I don’t live for other people’s opinion. I live for my goals and the only person I am competing with is my previous self.

We always think that people would love us if we are kind, honest, loving, friendly, thoughtful and even generous to them. We think that the key to making everyone like us is to be downright nice to them but the truth is, no matter what we do some people just wouldn’t like us and that’s okay. Why the hell is that okay? Because it doesn’t make them bad people. It simply means they aren’t your people and they just don’t care about you.

But don’t think that because they don’t care, they will leave you alone. Based on my experiences, people who don’t care about you will actually keep watching you –following your every posts on social media and concocting their own judgmental conclusions to your every move without even knowing the whole truth. People who doesn’t like you is out there to find your flaws and weaknesses so that they can use it against you. They’re out there to find your vulnerabilities so they can hit you hard, talk about you in their private chatrooms that they established just for you. Don’t be surprised if the chatroom they have created for you is even labeled after your name or some funny code name complete with silly emojis designed to remind them how a piece of shit you are.

People who don’t like you find pleasure in mocking your pictures, belittling your achievements, and simply making fun of your whole damn life. The best time to see these people in action is minutes after you post something on social media. They will make a screenshot of your post and paste it in their secret chatroom and start talking about you. These people believe that you are a bluff and that you maybe fooling everyone but not them. The thing is, they do not even care whether any of your achievements are real, they just want to discredit you for something you have worked hard enough to get.

The people who don’t care about you don’t care even if they get caught doing what they are doing to you. Most of them possesses an incredible amount of bravado and are usually itching for a fight with you. Remember, they will do things to provoke you because they are hungry for your reaction. They want to know if their tauntings worked out and served their interest well. Do not let them bait you. I’m telling you the moment you react to their shit, they already won. They are well prepared to get on a fight or a war of words because they have been doing this to other innocent people too. Those people who thought they could trust this bunch. Those who are so good they don’t even realize that they are moving in a very dangerous circle. And the moment they are attacked by people whom they thought they’re friends with, they won’t even know what hit them.

Usually, the people who don’t like you are the first to like or comment on your posts posing as real friends and pretending to be updated about your life when all they want to do is phish information so they can get something to make fun of. They spend time talking behind your back even when they are at work, traveling or in the grocery section.

Their regular conversation usually starts with, “O, alam nyo na ba latest tsismis kay ano?” Or something like, “Uy nakita nyo na ba new post ni ano? Check nyo sa IG nya dali. Hahaha!”

(Their regular conversation usually starts with, “Hey, have you heard the latest gossip about…?” Or something like, “Hey guys have you seen his new post yet? Hurry, you better check his Instagram. Hahaha!”)

Those are just some of the scenarios I have experienced myself. And while there are many other scenarios that prove how backstabbing and bullying are happening among your circle of so called “friends,” I am not here to discuss all of that. I am here to tell you that all of it is okay.

Again, how the hell are backstabbing and bullying okay? Because as long as it doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger. It will help you spot who the real people in your life are and who deserves to be let go of. The moment you have found who the real ones are, you would not care a shit about what the rest would say. The only opinion that matters to you are the ones coming from your people.

Of course it would hurt at first. You may experience in denial phase where you are confused why these bunch of people don’t like you but you will get through it. You will get frustrated thinking of ways how you can save your friendship with these people or how you can please them to make things right but I am telling you there is nothing that would make things right. Why? Because these people just don’t care about you. They do not care about your feelings or the friendship (if any LOL) at all. They will be there to get into your nerve if you do not learn to stop being affected.

The key to moving on from these types of people is to remain kind and just let it go. You got to admit that it is practically useless to confront them because there is no friendship or any sort of good relationship to save or fight for. They just don’t like you and you have to accept that no matter what you do, nothing willl ever change. And believe it or not, it’s okay. Because the truth is, you’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea and that means you cannot expect everyone to treat you exactly the way you want to be treated.

So be yourself and continue reaching for your dreams. Do not let your detractors ruin your day or your life because the truth is, whatever judgment they have on you reflects their own personality and how they were raised and not yours. Besides, you do not have to explain how you live your life to them because chances are, they already judged you and will continue to do so regardless of the truth. Remember, what other people think of you is none of your business so stop worrying and enjoy your blessings.

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What doesn’t kill you makes you more resilient

What doesn’t kill you makes you resilient. 

Eversince I was diagnosed with a disease called acute and chronic inflammatory cell in an amorphous background (inflammation of cell tissues inside the walls of airways in the lungs), I have felt a great loss in my life. I’ve felt like everything I have ever worked hard for was taken away in an instant.

For two years, I’ve worked to gain enough weight because I have always been so skinny. I’ve tried so hard to achieve a decent shape for my age. And for a moment, I thought I had it. I did it. I’ve made it.

And then I started having a hard time breathing. It became worse to the point where I couldn’t finish a single sentence without literally choking or gasping. It was one of the weirdest and scariest situations I have ever experienced in my life. I began to consult a doctor and soon enough I was in and out of a hospital for a chronic pneumonia. I went on medical leave and was out of work for almost six months.

According to study, 80% of people being diagnosed with this kind of disease are eventually found to have some form of lung cancer. It was a very scary discovery. I wasn’t sure I can handle it but I was determined to try and cope with it should it leads to that. What can I say? I mean, sometimes life hits us hard and gives us only one option: to fight.

My weight dropped. The very small progress I’ve made in my body was taken away and I’m back to my old skinny self once again. Now, most skinny guys would agree that it is not easy for our body type to gain muscles. It requires extra hard work because our metabolism is very fast and more often, it’s impossible to connect with our appetite. I almost stopped eating due to anorexic complications of the disease. And so when I realized I was losing everything to this ailment, I was really devastated. All the money, the effort and hard work I’ve put out turned to ashes. Two years of consistently trying to achieve my dream body wasted. I woke up each day feeling depressed. How am I gonna get it back? Will I be able to work out again? Worse of all thoughts, am I going to die?

But God is still good. He has always been. After months of suffering, bronchoscopy and biopsy results show I don’t have any life-threatening condition at least for now. Now I’m in the process of healing. The inflammation is still there but my body is slowly absorbing the medical treatment.

I don’t know how long this would take or if there will be another test to my faith and character but right now I’m just picking up the pieces and rebuilding everything that I have lost. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to work out again but I’m slowly learning to let things be. Soon, I’ll get it back. Soon, I’ll be fit again.

Yes, positivity is a state of mind. But I also know that for some people like me, it is easier said than done when you have a life and dream shattering disease. But I’m trying. I’m fighting. I’m standing still. I’m running still.

What’s good about it is that I know what I have to do now; I’ll just have to keep the faith that at the end of the day, I’ll find reason and purpose to all of this and that the sun will shine again where it left me. #whatdoesntkillyou

My pulmonary masses are growing and are now blocking one of my airways

BREATHE! The procedure will give you that drowning feeling but you have to remain calm and trust the physicians and the procedure itself.

Last week I finally underwent bronchoscopy and biopsy procedures at the Philippine General Hospital – Department of Pulmonary Medicine and part of what was revealed was that I have two pulmonary masses inside what appears to be one of my bronchioles or air passageways in the lower left lobe of my lungs. What?

I mean, no I’m not surprised as this is just a confirmation of what they have found in my CT scan last month. The only thing that’s new is that now we were able to see in clear and colored picture what the pulmonary masses actually look like. So it’s real. And there are actually two of them. I just wanna scream right now.

Anyway, the two masses have grown bigger that they now appear to be entirely blocking that specific passageway which helps transport air in and out of my lungs and into my trachea thereby making it impossible for air to travel through that passage tube. My attending physician has not given advise yet (at least nothing final) but I am assuming this might be the primary cause of my frequent and heavy gasping for air especially when I’m talking.

A screen capture of what the pulmonary masses look like inside one of my air passageways. The dark or blackish buildup is confirmed to be one of the masses and the other one looks like a flesh buildup. Together, they block the entire passage way.

The bronchoscopy and biopsy procedures were done in one single session. Thanks to my pulmonary team at PGH because they know my pain. I am also glad that it was completely painless due to the local anesthesia that my pulmo had administered prior to the procedure. Moreover, it’s a relief that the anesthesia was administered as a liquid spray inside my nostrils and in my throat and not something that involves needles. You know what I mean. 

But the shocking revelation about the procedure is the fact that the pulmonary mass is now true and confirmed and there are two of them. Hell, I got two of them growing inside one of my air passageway. How crazy. 

I have always thought myself as a strong person but I have never proven it until that day. It took me a lot to swallow and accept the fact (without crying) that I actually have it and the next months of my life will be spent dealing with whatever impact it might have on my health and body and the treatment procedures that will be administered to try and cure it. Just the thought of it all makes me close my eyes and scream in my mind. What did I do? Why did it have to be me? Fuck, I’m fucked up.

My other air passageways pictured here appeared to be in normal condition. As you can you, they look like normal tubes that disappears into a dark alleyway unlike the one with the pulmonary mass which is completely closed.
 Like I said, the pulmo team that administered the bronchoscopy and biopsy procedures did not immediately provide an explanation to what was revealed on the bronchoscopy screen which clearly showed the appearance of the two pulmonary masses. That’s because they have to wait for the result of the laboratory tests. Waiting kills me. I have been waiting since July.

Liquid samples were taken from my lungs and placed in separate bottles. There were also glass-like panels which they call “slides” that bore my blood and labeled as samples as well.

The last and bloodiest part was the biopsy procedure where they had to get a sample tissue directly from one of the pulmonary masses. I am not sure if they took samples from both but what I know is that it caused internal bleeding for a minute or two but the physicians were experts in their field and were able to suction the blood from the inside and stop further bleeding. 

For me, the experience was like no other. And despite the painless procedure, it is something I would never want done on me ever again. To be clear though, I do not want to create a scare about bronchoscopy and biopsy procedures as these are safe and significant requirements in curing lung diseases. I just want to be honest and share my own experience here.

I’m tired of googling but this was taken from the video of my biopsy procedure and this is one of the tubes they inserted in my lungs to perform the biopsy on me.

Bronchoscopy uses a bronchoscope, which is a thin, lighted flexible tube that can be inserted into the mouth or nose (yes they inserted that tube in my nose and through my throat until it reached my lungs) and through the windpipe (trachea) into the bronchus (airway) of the lung. The bronchoscope has a very small camera at its end. Biopsy tools can be passed through the camera to reach the nodule or pulmonary mass. At least, they did not administer needle biopsy on me because that is more scary. 

So I wouldn’t say it was a traumatic experience given that like I said, it is a required process when treating pulmonary diseases but I do want to say that it was kind of scary at first. My advise to people who are undergoing this type of procedure is to prepare yourself for it mentally and physically. Condition your mind and brain before it happen. During the procedure, remain calm and think only positive thoughts. Do not worry because your doctors won’t do anything that would risk your life so trust them and cooperate. Follow every instruction, take a deep breath when they say so and cough when they say so. When the tube has penetrated your trachea, you will feel like you’re a bit drowning. I think it’s because of the saliva build up or sometimes, blood and pleghm combined that they are trying to clean or remove from your passage ways through bronchial washing. Again, don’t worry as they will suction the liquid from inside to avoid filling your trachea. If you feel like panicking because you cannot breathe, don’t try to open your mouth and talk. Instead, try to breathe from your nose or mouth whichever is more convenient. Right now, I am still waiting for the results and will provide an update once I get them. 

The truth is, I’m really scared and it is stressing me out so bad. Not to mention, I have been feeling very depressed these past few months. I am unable to work and unable to do stuff that I used to do such as working out or just about anything that ignites my passion. In other words, this disease is slowly paralyzing and immobilizing my life. 

I try to google causes of pulmonary masses and all I get is lung cancer. Who wouldn’t be terrified by that? Lung cancer, according to “is far too common, and is currently one of the leading causes of cancer deaths in men and women in the world. Lung cancer may occur even in people who have never smoke, and in fact, the majority (around 80 percent) of people who develop lung cancer in the United States do not smoke; they are either former smokers or never smoked.” Fuck it, I have never smoked.

This disease is really testing the toughness of my character. There are days when I just can’t comprehend why it is happening to me. I would question my lifestyle for the past ten years and find that I have always been health-conscious. I never drink or smoke in my life ever. I never engage in risky or physical activities that would jeopardize my body or whatnot. I have always been careful about what I eat or do. Yes, I have been choosy with the food I eat that sometimes I would skip meals but don’t we all sometimes? In addition, I didn’t think my eating habits would be that serious it could cause a lump or mass inside my lungs. But anything could happen. And it is happening to me.

Despite my faith, these are the times when it is easier to just think how unfair the world to me is. But what good is it to sulk in one corner and drown yourself in negativities? What good is it to regret everything or cry about it now? Right? Nothing. I’ll get nothing but sadness and that’s the last thing I want to be engulfed with. If anything, I want to stay calm and collected. I want to stay happy and find reasons to be grateful that I’m still alive and breathing. If anything, I want to be more inspired and amazed about life and believe that I have a purpose in this world and until I am able to fulfill that purpose, I won’t die. So let’s continue to hope that I do fulfill that purpose and live a little longer, okay? 😊