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Nina ♥ ☁ ☼ ★ ♬
04 December 2028 @ 05:27 am

Let"s skip the embarrassment and talk about adding...Collapse )

To friends visiting: You can still leave comments even if you don't have an LJ. I'd love to hear from you.
Nina ♥ ☁ ☼ ★ ♬
03 December 2028 @ 02:09 am
Last Updated: May 26, 2015

At least 10 previously unwatched movies a month in 2010 2011 2012 2014 2015.
Feel free to recommend movies, I'd really love it. (No film school stuff though, got those pretty much down pat because I studied film at uni. No "The Ring"esque horror films too. Just, no.) Anything that struck a chord, in any language, and preferably well-made, do tell.

FILMSCollapse )

Also, Japanese dramas watched, in alphabetical order. I'd love recs too!

J-DRAMASCollapse )
Nina ♥ ☁ ☼ ★ ♬
17 August 2016 @ 11:01 pm
Every time I try to stay silent, I end up on the brink of wanting to explode.

That's my state for the past month. Yes, work has been good, I have been productive. I have tried not to talk more than I needed, tried to step away from things and people that I love, if I felt they were a source of distraction. I am interested in far too many things, but in reality have so little time to devote to most of them. Can't help but think it's also because of a lack of confidence, a heart that's too small to devote myself fully to any one thing. I am a melange of half-baked interests. I have too much to say, I feel like there are conversations I avoid because I will ooze out from underneath my words, bound to be misinterpreted, or worse, bound to say something that's purely buoyed by raw emotion and nothing else.

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Nina ♥ ☁ ☼ ★ ♬
25 July 2016 @ 02:18 pm

Frankly, it's scary how fast a week goes by these days.

I don't know if it's my age, my current situation. The working part of the week always whizzes past like a steamroller—a good or bad thing, depending on certain things. What I've learned to cherish the past year or so is the perfection of a week. I'm not sure I'll be able to articulate this accurately, but somehow, isn't seven days just perfect, just right on the mark? Six days feel rushed. Eight is an indulgence. Somehow, the seven-day weekly cycle is long enough for me to see how I can improve the next week without it feeling too far-off or too overwhelming. Seven is just right for benchmarking.

Work thoughts aka I warned youCollapse )
Nina ♥ ☁ ☼ ★ ♬
18 July 2016 @ 04:19 pm
I wake up drenched in milky sunlight, blanket unconsciously shoved aside some time during the night. It’s 6:30 in the morning. My body is used to being gently nudged into wakefulness by a susurrating, Steve Jobs-approved melody. Gone are the jangly alarm clocks of my childhood, the ones with glow-in-the-dark numbers. These days, I wake up with the whole of humanity shoved to my face, all on a handy screen.

Well, not this morning. It feels luxurious to ignore all the updates and notifications. There’s no need for them today. I lock the screen and get up to take a shower, the small window affording me a view of a pale sky. I try my best to work my vegan shampoo into a respectable lather—no good. Not this time, and maybe not ever. At least my hair smells like yuzu lemons, all citrusy without the cloying acridity. I will own this small pleasure, at least. This is one thing I can control.

When we meet up in the lobby, his countenance tells me that his day is ending. I smile, hoping that it communicates sympathy. He probably interprets it as a sort of shy sheepishness, something I wish I never convey so openly, especially to him. I watch his fair, veined hands curl around a cup of barako coffee. He hovers the cup in front of his mouth for a few breaths before he takes a small sip. I couldn’t meet his eyes, even though I made a conscious effort to try to do so. Somewhere along the way, I had begun to want him again. His silence tells me that he knows.

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Nina ♥ ☁ ☼ ★ ♬
23 May 2016 @ 02:53 pm

Beauty is brutal.

I sit here, on my office chair, heart quivering, strands of hair on my arm raised. Halfway through my plain chicken and pesto sandwich, I set it down. Here I am, on the 27th floor, overlooking Manila, coated in pallid greys today. It is both extraordinary and calming drudgery. All that matters is that, out of nowhere, I am assaulted by a purity of resonance that come far too rarely in a life. The French call the phsyiological effect frisson—a sensation close to a shiver, an overwhelming response to something that stirs us deeply. We search for discoveries that elicit responses that can change our perspectives in one fell swoop, but never find them when we expect to. They have to come to us, unbidden, and only when our souls are ripe for understanding. Frankly, the conditions and prerequisites are bleak. We continue searching, still.

I didn't know that when I woke up today that I would be in the mercy of such a discovery. How can a thoughtful caress by a bow on a cello, sure fingers on a piano, and a transcendent vibrato-less female vocal wrap me up so completely? I don’t know what to tell you, really, because by all counts, it’s a normal day. I have a job to do, words to write. I'm in a pair of pants that in some offices would count as pajamas. I haven’t even had my 3 P.M. coffee, which is usually the only thing I look forward to. But this, this is beauty. Captivation that hits you out of nowhere, unasked for. I feel faint, like my outlines are blurring into my surroundings. Anytime now, I feel like I will fade away within the rich notes.

I imagine a humble house, a trellis covering its walls. There is a peppering of Portuguese accents, a feeling that my ghost is walking amongst warm, open faces. In the house, there is a room, with old but beautifully lacquered instruments. They are held by veined, dexterous hands. The expressions on their faces are calm and expectant as a warm breeze flits in. There is a world before the first note is played, and a world after it. I float within every note. This is truth I can buy.

I take cover under this feeling, something to share in haste with a beloved. The skies and this music swathe me in everything I could hope to feel, in a moment I can never own and instead only observe in sadness and awe. How silly our existences are! How laughable that we can be brought down to our knees by a song, by a record!

But yes. There's nothing to do but to sit with the crippling knowledge that yes, there is more. There can be more.

I'm off to get that cup of coffee.
Nina ♥ ☁ ☼ ★ ♬
09 May 2016 @ 03:25 pm
Balance doesn't mean that the negative aspects of things disappear magically. It simply means that you learn to recognize the "now" for what it is: the only important thing, your breath filtering through your nose.

I'm alive! I feel joy. I feel pain. I have been carrying myself all through these years. I am alive. I am now. 
Nina ♥ ☁ ☼ ★ ♬
06 April 2016 @ 12:07 am
It’s overwhelming to get a peek into a person’s inner life—to see an emotional ecosystem propped up by personal fears, buffeted by small victories, and pockmarked with anxieties and barely articulated hopes. There’s a very thin line between talking with someone and suddenly finding yourself staring at who they are: a unique composition, in shades of light and dark. It’s like being entrusted with a secret that you never asked for.

I've found that people are a moment of transcendence and an ocean of linked tragedies. It moves me, to see people as they are. I’m not talking about inner beauty or realizations of their humane decencies. It’s not about the obscure and carefully preserved cultural frame of references they safe-keep for their identities either.

It’s about that elusive state when you’re perfectly equidistant to someone’s shame and joy. That eureka moment.

Everyone is a tapestry. Sometimes we’re lucky or unfortunate enough to see where the stitches are. Do we pick at those stitches? Run threads of our own through them—to bind, to suffocate, or to allow for lungs to expand, to feel the vigor of sharing lives? In our best moments, I believe we reach for each other. We say hello, without agenda. We are struck dumb by people, by their reasons. We stop in our tracks to ask someone “how did you become who you are” without saying it out loud, our existences hinging on their answer.

I find myself thinking this when I meet strangers, or people I feel like are about to be robbed away from me by circumstances: please stay still long enough for me to muster the courage to caress you and graze against the cracks you’ve accumulated. Give me a chance to run wild and rampant in you. Let me hold you close in your most anxious moments. Allow me in.

Living in a crowded city makes instense personal contact surreal, an abstraction that we get too self-conscious of once we realize it’s occuring. Terrible, because we all deserve connections that aren’t stage-managed by our insecurities. I walk these streets, wondering if people feel like I’m someone worth delving deeper for. There are so many walls. Small wonder that it’s so tempting to just hide away and never crash against the loneliness of seeking and not finding. But I won’t, and I can’t afford to anymore.

I want to wrest my chest open and hand something dripping and warm and grotesquely real to everyone who passes by. Here I am, spun in rather dark shades, trying to show you something of me. Because when I see you—whoever you are—as you, I find nothing but solace.
Nina ♥ ☁ ☼ ★ ♬
10 January 2016 @ 04:20 pm
As fans, how are we ever going to live up to you as an idol, J?

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gif by umii-masakii

Don't get me wrong, it's not like you expect us to, or even think of yourself as someone to "live up to". But your very existence begs the question. I just finished watching Blast in Miyagi. No, this will not be my usual post recounting my favorite moments, because there were too many of those. I will save you some time and just beg you to watch it, if you haven't yet. It is Arashi at their shining best, and I mean best. No concert of them could ever be said to be the definitive one, but even in its imperfections, Blast in Miyagi comes pretty darn close. Their idol superpowers are in full force in Miyagi: they make you want them, they are fully and every inch the fantasy. But more than that, they make you like them. Not that you didn't already. But they hammer in over and over again just why Arashi has been so finely woven into the emotional tapestry of your life, no matter how casual or dedicated a fan you are. You are seen and zeroed in on by them. They sing and dance their all, but they also came wearing their hearts of hearts emblazoned on their sleeves, a love that is hard to miss.

Watch it. I don't even want to justify it any further.

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Nina ♥ ☁ ☼ ★ ♬
08 January 2016 @ 09:34 pm
This year feels like it’s going to be amazingly different.

Let me preface that sentiment by saying 2015 was a good year. An unbelievably good one. It took me to many different places. Allow me to take you to some of them.

The year kicked off on a sleepless night. I don't know what we were thinking, but we set off some noisy fireworks just as the sun was rising. It was exhilarating, amidst all the people already sleeping on the first night of 2015, to be so inconsiderately noisy and alive. (Karma was swift, as it took fifty minutes for the restaurant we all headed to afterwards to serve our January 1 pancakes. It was a grumpy, hungover breakfast, to be sure.)

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The culprits/co-stars of my life since high school

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That one friend you can share an eggs benedict with while writing poetry. Yes, the one who eats carbs with you and weathers emotionial storms and riptides. I hope you can also claim to have that one friend, because I feel unbelievably lucky to have her.

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It was crazy how rainy it got on the day the Pope visited the Haiyan-stricken Tacloban. We flew over there because it's my mom's hometown. Needless to say, it was an emotional visit. There was mud everywhere, and the rain hit too close to home for us and for many Warays.

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We watched the waves crash against the entrance of what used to be my grandfather's Tacloban beachside resort. Everything was in ruins, including places that figured so hugely in our childhoods. It was bittersweet. The waves never stopped crashing against the cracked pavement.

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Tacloban delicacies. We miss "home", but 60% of that is probably because of the food, the memories associated with the taste, the craving for what was once pure and all you knew. One can only come so close. Thank god for the comfort of those dear ones who can remember.

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I've learned that there will always be blue skies against any kind of ruin, eventually.

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This year, I fell even more in love with myself. Make no mistake: it's a rough, "it's complicated" kind of love, but there it is, simmering and taking its time, acquiring unique flavor profiles of its own. It's like I've begun to see myself in clearer outlines. Honesty and hope. I hold on to those things.

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Who are we without work? How do we compromise passion with livelihood? Does my work define me? What does "work" give me? These are all questions I grappled with. I don't think I'll stop asking them.

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We were lying on the beach when this fisherman beckoned to us, selling us his fresh catch. The full cooler ate up most of the space in the car trunk. I grilled it a day later, back in Manila. It was glorious. Sometimes, impulse buys are the best decisions you can make. Especially if they're fresh fish.

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This was the second loveliest sunset I saw this year. But at that time, I didn't know that, and I was spellbound. We spent a weekend away in Batangas to itch the need of "getting away". A friend's heart was broken, and remained so even after that trip. Beauty is merely a balm, and can be wiped off. We can see the most beautiful things but remain unmoved inside. (That is, until there's space to be occupied once more, and that always takes time.)

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I feel so proud of this little one, for being among the top of his class and the one to deliver the graduation speech. When people ask me what his relationship is to me, I just say he's my little brother. Because it's complicated. And anyway, who needs blood for someone to count as family? This one is a treasure so, so close to my heart.

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...and so is this not-so-little one. Everyday, people keep on telling me that she takes after me. I don't know what to make of that, especially when I discovered that she graffiti-d "I am a sad person, but there are reasons :-(" in front of the journal I gave her. It makes me laugh, but it sure touches a sore spot as well. She is the little sister I never had, and man, does she have my heart in tangles. At ten years old, she is already beautiful and sweet and creative and complicated and thoughtful, and I hope I can give her the kind of confidence and self-assurance that I never had during my teenage years.

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The Philippines is so beautiful. There aren't enough islands to hold my feelings.

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On another Philippine island on a ridiculously gorgeous summer day, sipping my favorite shake in the whole wide world. (And yes, I will be selfish about it and not say a word!)

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A normal work day. Someday, will I miss this? The feeling of clawing your way to the top? Of trying your gosh-darn best to prove something? I think I will. But for now, it just feels like work. As it should.

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So many idiosyncrasies we try to bridge.

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Child-like wonder has a place in everything. At least, it should, for the sake of our sanity. This man didn't stop creating big bubbles for three hours. The kids, to the horror of their parents, didn't want to leave and wanted jugs of bubble juice for their own use. The softer ones caved. They went home that night with kids in sticky shirts, sleepy and dreaming of floating away in plush, soapy bubble to the horizon.

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From a distance, all seems fine.

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Gladiators in the modern world. Never thought I'd watch something like this live, but hey, it was fun. And on some days, that's all that needs to be said.

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Special, silly moments between people you love. We are all bridges without knowing, and what a wonderful thing to be a hapless link in a chain of connections.

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A friend and I threw peanut shells on the floor and reveled in our feminine charms (or lack thereof.) Basically, we got really drunk on really expensive alcohol and laughed about ourselves. We were feeling pretty special; we even wore fancy footwear that pinched our toes! Sometimes it's worth it.

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Looking outward in the same direction, or at least, convincingly enough for it to look pretty on Instagram. But really. Batanes is breathtaking. Some places are worth staging shots for.

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Sights that you don't often see! Wild horses running free. I mean, they write cheesy songs about moments like this, don't they?

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Kids know it all: sometimes, you just gotta indulge. And with pizza and wine in front of me, I would never say NEVER.

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Everything is digital, yes. But real connection bypasses that, more often than not.

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I ate pretty healthy in 2015. I love where my body is at right now. I love it because I stopped believing in deprivation. Oh the things I would tell my high school self if I could!

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How does one get over the fear of waves? How does one give in to the inevitability of being pummeled by something more enormous and enduring than you can ever be? I haven't found the answer. I shall continue to sit in the shade, for now. (Although, funnily enough, there weren't much waves that weekend we went.)

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Do you like wine? I like wine. I like it Chilean, drank with the best of friends or the newest of acquaintances. In 2015, I discovered that after all the drunken nights of my early 20s, it's the situation of drinking that I love and not the drinking itself. I mean, I won't say no to a beautifully crafted cocktail or a glass or two of wine. But I'd much prefer having one foot in sobriety and the other foot in other people's orbits. I drink to be with you in that space, to be present with you, now. I'd rather not have the hangover tomorrow.

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(I'm glad my friends like wine too and invite me to meals like this at their place. Wonderful little pockets of joy. And food, always food.)

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They get older too, you know. They feel like they'll be there forever by virtue of them bringing you into this world, but they won't. And that has been sinking in for me more and more as the years go by. I look into the lines in my parents' faces, ones that weren't there 5, 10 years ago, and feel my heart clench.

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I think I kinda did. Made it happen, I mean. The fruit of last year's labor led to a promotion at work, the news of which I received when I was in freaking Tokyo Disney Sea shivering to my bones as I ate curry popcorn. That's some kind of magic, I think. Some things just fall into place in such a corny, hilarious fashion.

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Have you ever visited a place and felt it call to your very bones? Like, hey you wanderer, what took you so long to come home? We've been waiting.

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...I think I kind of found it. Hello, quieter parts of Bali.

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I mean, yes, it's a great place to unwind and be BOSS.jpg

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...but it has a soul that just cries out to me. Especially Ubud. Wonderful, quaint, rice paddy-lined, lotus-drenched Ubud.

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They also have great coffee which is like kryptonite to me oh my gosh

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And food that my palate just immediately translated to as FUCK YES, a good indication if any

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Here's where I admit that I fell in love in Bali. I'm happy that I came with my best friend.

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This was after the night my friends and I watched a violinist play in a pitch black room in Intramuros, one that used to be a Spanish prison cell centuries ago. The piping hot dimsum filled our stomachs as we digested the wondrous tension of being so close to this precarious thing they call "music". We couldn't see her, but it didn't matter. Notes soared and curdled in the air. I couldn't sit still. It was unforgettable.

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Here's a subpar photo for my sister's beautiful belly. Some people want babies really bad and never get one. Needless to say, it's been a tough journey for my sister and husband. But finally, finally, with a little grace from the cosmos: a little girl who's already tenderly ensconced in all our hearts and furtive daydreams will arrive come March.

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Traveling with your bestfriends is always about discovering each other's inner landscapes than it is about the sights. I mean, yes, Japan is always stunning, but more than that, I was glad to see my friends in thrall of newness.

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This view will never get old. I don't know what I did in my past life to get the chance to watch Arashi not once, but twice. My first time in Sapporo last, last year was...well, it knocked the breath right off of me. The second time, last December at Fukuoka where this pic was illegally taken (and I will not apologize!), was just pure fun. Boisterous natural highs. What music and love can do!

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Now this was the best sunset of the year. Everything was painted perfectly, all anyone had to do was sit still.

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Last year I found a hobby (or more like expense, to be quite honest) that suits me to a T: fountain pens! In a year, I've acquired 6. Unhealthy? Perhaps. But I just keep telling myself that it's what I do anyway for a living (write? lol) and for fun. These things, when in my hands, make me feel like I have more words in me than I could fathom. I'm also addicted to the scratch of nib on fine paper, and nothing can ever make me turn back.

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The requisit family Christmas photo. I love them.

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The requisite "we got smashed again" at Christmas photo with friends. We will get old but we won't, not really.

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Yes, it was a good year, filled with growth and wonder and new sights.

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Here's to 2016. I don't wish to top my 2015. I just want it to be a year that means something, a year where I also tried my best to a better version of myself. That should be enough.