Some people seem to be only nice when they’re sad and helpless, but rude and cruel when they’re happy.

And I can’t help but notice how some people seem to find joy, despite acting sympathetic towards others suffering. But once others are in a good disposition, they seem to be resentful and bitter about it.

I dislike this kind of energy.

On Selling

I’ve been an ESL trainer to Japanese professionals for almost two years now. One of the things I’ve learned from my training and interacting with them is the concept of Tatemae and Hon-ne. So, what is this?

Tatemae is showing good behavior in public, especially when we interact with strangers, colleagues, acquaintances, or neighbors. The behavior is the same as being polite and avoiding behaviors or verbal responses that may bother, inconvenience, or offend others. This concept is related to another concept called Wa, which means harmony. For the Japanese, they avoid disrupting the Wa to avoid chaos and preserve order. Disrupting the Wa may be impractical as chaos may be inefficient & ineffective at work. It may also disrupt communal peace. Because of this, when they deal with clients or business partners, they try to practice Tatemae until the other is comfortable showing their Hon-ne.

Hon-ne is a person’s true feelings. They only show this to people who are close to them like family and close friends. They may also show this to business partners but it may take some time.

Applying this concept to sales, a Tatemae may sound like, “This is a nice product but I’ll think about it.” This answer may mean “No”, or it could also mean they’re studying other options. So, we may proceed to get them to show their Hon-ne. To do this, we may try to approach them twice or thrice to see if their response may change. The second or third approach may be an accepted invitation to lunch, dinner, or meeting. This could mean that they’re truly interested, especially if they’ve agreed to meet with you for another time. This is because there needs to be a building of relationship before a client will show their Hon-ne. Come to think of it, it is quite similar to courtship during the Victorian times – to prove your genuine intention towards a maiden, you may need to get their trust. But that’s another topic. Anyway…

I’m bringing this up because I’ve recently joined the sales force as my side-hustle. I needed another source of income to cover my plans for further studies. Also, my plans on getting another HMO and life/accident insurance hasn’t been ticked off the list yet. This pandemic has made me realized a lot of things so, here I am doing something I never thought I’d do. I’m bringing with me what I learned from the beauty of the Japanese concept of Tatemae and Hon-ne. Just like adopting Western management tools to help us execute our work effectively and efficiently, we can also learn a thing or two from other culture’s concepts.

Sometimes, I’d meet a few with values very different from mine. It irks me when I hear that they’re trying to manipulate people into buying by engaging in insincere petty flattery. Sure, we can bring up their interest, hobby, guilt-trip them, and so on. But if we bring it up for mere apple-polishing or kissing up, it may come off insincere or fake. Worse, we may be seen as money-leaching demons.

I think that, if we bring up a topic that may lead to us introducing our products or services to them, it’s wise to avoid sounding like jerks picking up women: our sleazy pickup lines are conversations about their interests, hobbies, or even guilt-tripping, and convincing them to subscribe to our products and services is sex. I think that if we are sincere in building good relationships with clients, we shouldn’t treat them as just a number. If it is our mission to help, it isn’t wise to manipulate them into buying despite their capacity and need for it. It’s wiser to involve them in conversations that will give them value not only for their money but for their mental and emotional well-being, too.

This approach may not always apply to every prospect we meet. Other prospects prefer to get to know us as professionals and as a person. Other prospects, especially if someone close to them referred us, may treat our meeting as transactional and will try to get it over with by just buying the product or services. I’ve learned from Psychology that people are complex. There is no one absolute way to approach everyone. Thus, I think it’s only practical to apply the concept of Tatemae and Hon-ne when prospecting. It’s always better to build relationships. Who knows, a prospect that may appear cold could be a very good friend in the future. Therefore, a win-win!

How to not forget yourself

As you thread on through life, you’ll go through different struggles. It could shape you for the better or break you. Never mind how it could shape you for the better, I am here to talk about how to avoid breaking.

Breaking may strip away all the better things you’ve acquired.
Your resiliency.
Your patience.
Your objectivity or rationality.
Your understanding.
And the rest.
So, I want to tell you to keep your feet firmly on the ground.
Keep your roots firmly from being plucked from the ground that is your foundation.
Resist the storm that is trying to break you.
If anything, let the storm break the parts that won’t help you – the parts that will bring out the bad in you that may worsen you.

Allow yourself to experience pain. Take time to move on – grieve about it! Cry.
Scream.
Break things.

Just don’t hurt people.
Just don’t do anything illegal.
Just don’t harm yourself.
You’ll eventually get tired of feeling the pain. I’ve been there.

Then, do something to fight it back.

Write a poem or a story, or just write your feelings out.
Work-out – jog, run, go to the gym, enroll in kickboxing.
Do art – draw, paint, sculpt.
Start learning something new – study entrepreneurship or marketing. Study a new language.
Do whatever makes you feel good. Just do it.
Once you convert your negative energy into something positive, you’ll feel rebirthed and alive again.

Because in existence, both pain and joy are constant. One cannot exist without the other. The goal is to not chase happiness but to be content and at peace.

May the universe be in your favor.

Be Obliterated!

Misogyny

Distraughtly let you be

By conforming to gender roles

and expectations

Misogyny

Distraughtly let you be

Drained soul by raging against

and peace, prioritized

Misogyny

Distraughtly let you be

Made peace with the society

but never within me

Misogyny

Distraughtly let you be

Shielded me by pretense agreement of the conventional

cost me a life devoid of wholesome freedom

Misogyny

My sisters & myself will revolt to cease you

At the right time

eventually, be obliterated!

Red-tagging

There have been speculations of the admin red-tagging individual dissenters. Anyone that criticizes is being grouped into one, labeling them as an enemy, despite their real political beliefs. I have been vocal about my political beliefs early on. As I always said, I am progressive in my belief of it – democratic liberal to be exact. A quick search from Google and you will immediately get a basic understanding of what this is. 

However, some fanatical supporters of the admin go as far as labeling people like us as someone who belongs to dangerous groups in our country, known to also be against the admin. It is hard to reason with these fanatics as they only see the issue in black and white. They fail to see the grey area of it – that political beliefs are not only two opposites, that it is more like a spectrum (think rainbow). They fail to see that people in different political beliefs, despite a lot of their differences in principles and values, may also share the same sentiments about certain issues without necessarily sympathizing with all of the group advocacies. 

They go as far as labeling private citizens airing their dissents, as criminals (despite being a good citizen), rebels (usually communists groups who have bad reputations for looting, extorting, even exploiting malleable-minded people to recruit them), and so on. 

There have also been rumors about dissenters being harassed simply because of their political beliefs. I am not sure of the veracity of this. I have only read instances in social media, therefore, I am not sure if they are made up or not. However, still, if this is true, it is wrong on so many levels. It takes away the very essence of democracy. It may lead to abuse as it may be used to harm someone directly or indirectly out of spite. We are all aware of how fanatics think and behave. They can be irrational sometimes. 

It is disappointing to live in a world where evil often manifests itself. Despite the pandemic, people who are obsessed with power and influence still has the energy to make sure their self-vested interests are prioritized, despite hurting others along the way. I am not sure when all of these will cease. I used to think that all I’ll ever worry about growing up are mundane things in life – romantic drama, friendship drama, family drama, financial issues, dealing with kids, etc. I never thought that simply speaking up, as a private citizen with no affiliation to evils, will also be an issue.

Until then, I’ll tread on. 

(All I want is a cozy cottage near a beach, with a dog and a cat, a kid or two, and a husband. We’d run a bed and breakfast, then have a tiny restaurant that is a cafe during the day, and a drinking pub in the night. We’d rest on the weekends and go bathing or swimming, or nature tripping. But why are power-thirsty people, who manipulate malleable-minded people trying to take that away from me? I pay taxes. I follow rules. Never did anything that will get me in trouble with the authorities. This world is sick. I am born in the wrong place.)

Good night.

Supplemental readings on this matter: 

https://verafiles.org/articles/vera-files-fact-sheet-why-red-tagging-dangerous

https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/09/10/20/pnp-chief-says-red-tagging-not-a-police-policy

https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2020/09/09/2041204/government-defends-surge-budget-red-tagging-task-force

Gaslighting

Gaslighting. This word has been talked a lot about for the past few years. I even think it has become overrated. However, its overratedness surely cannot take away its damaging effects. It still happens. 

So, what is gaslighting? According to the Cambridge dictionary, gaslighting is “the action of tricking or controlling someone by making them believe things that are not true, especially by suggesting that they may be mentally ill”. This word originated from the 1940 film, “Gaslight” where the husband intentionally hides things and blames the wife for losing them although she does not remember doing so. The wife would also complain that she hears footsteps from the attic and the gaslights flickering for no reason. Her husband told her she is only imagining things. He then convinced her that she is going crazy. Creepy, right?

Gaslighting is considered as a form of psychological abuse. Despite this, gaslighting is pretty common and is viewed as something “normal” in a society. I have seen others do this and experienced the same. I’ve never known a term for it until I stumbled upon the word in my mid-20s. I have even probably used this to get away with something petty in the past. Let me give you examples similar to what I’ve witnessed:

A parent tells his child to get some vegetables from a nearby vacant lot despite a sign saying, “no trespassing”. When the child was caught and the owner confronted the parent, the father tells the owner that his child is just a kid and isn’t aware of what he is doing. When the child confronts his father about this privately, the father tells him that he hasn’t told him to steal the vegetables and that he might have misinterpreted it.

Another example: 

A new employee, Becky, was oriented by her immediate supervisor, Christine, about how their company’s digital work manual is always updated. What Becky does not know was the updates are sent via email to every employee and takes time for new updates to be included in the manual. In Becky’s first two weeks, she had failed to follow the new report protocols because it wasn’t included in the manual yet. She had not received the email update because it was sent before she started working. The department manager, Rebecca, reprimanded Christine about this as it affected the deadline of the whole department’s report. To save face, Christine fired Becky and claimed that she did not follow her advice. Christine claimed that she had reminded Becky to check with her teammates about updates on reports first, before referring to the manual. Becky was sure Christine hadn’t told her but it was too late. (By the way, this happened in real life.)

Some people may laugh with friends about misdeeds like this. Others may feel guilty as it indirectly hurt others. No matter which angle you look at it, gaslighting is wrong and abusive. It is never right to step on others along the way to save face.

We may not be able to avoid getting ourselves in situations like this. However, we can always protect ourselves by documenting our communications and other events. When we receive professional instructions, we can make sure we document it by sending an email and asking for the recipient’s reply confirmation. If it happens within the comforts of our homes, installing CCTV or audio is wise to record abuses.

Why am I writing about something as common as this? This is not known in my country and culture. We do not have a word for it. In our culture, respecting older people and those in authority, despite them being abusive, is still practiced. Usually, it is embarrassing for an elder or an authority to commit mistakes, especially serious ones, as they are expected to be wiser and know better. To save face, they would deny or gaslight people. Some victims may just shrug it off to avoid confrontation and being labeled disrespectful of elders. Fortunately, I am not one of them. I call out everyone’s BS. 

Thank you for reading, and remember to look out for deceit! 

Stay safe, too COVID19 is still around.

Untitled

Many times, society will pressure us to act and think the way it wants us to. It could be our parents, siblings, or our family as a whole. Sometimes, they have this particular perception of who we are, formed from our early childhood days. Sometimes, it could be our peers or other people who we regularly meet. They have this particular impression from us that they reject, so they would try to put us into “our place”.

Often, this is outside the scope of who we are. For some people, they become who society wants them to be. There is no problem with this if it helps us become good citizens. However, there are times when they want us to embody a set of rules that hurts ourselves and others indirectly. I am talking about principles and values.

For example, for one modern woman, her romantic and sex life should remain private. As long as she is responsible, things should be okay. More often, some people would try to intrude into this private world either by curiosity or out of spite. Now, let’s say a stranger is attracted to this young woman with an unhealthy obsession. He knows there is a high risk of being rejected. To feel powerful (even though this is a fake or temporary one) he resorted to stalking.

Now, let’s say this man has a particular perception of this woman. Now it turns out that through stalking, he found out things that he disliked about this woman. However, it felt conflicting because he is attracted to her at the same time. Because of his frustration, he turns to obsessive hating so he criticizes her.

Now, let’s go back to the fact that her romantic and sex life was supposed to be private. This is a sacred area in this modern woman’s life, so she is careful of who she lets in. However, a stranger with a very different mindset as her illicitly enters into her private space without her permission. Then, he harasses her because 1) she cannot get her 2) her fake sense of power lead him to discover that she does not fit into his idea of who he wants her to be. This is what we call disrespect.

I think most would agree that this man is to be blamed. However, this man has dangerous principles on how a person or a woman should be. He robbed the woman of her freedom to be who she wants to be in private. Now, he accuses her of being disrespectful. Going back to my topic about society, the man can represent the society in this example, and the woman, an individual.

There are 7 billion people in this world. Despite our differences in race, culture, and beliefs, we all have unique values and principles. As long as we do not directly disrespect and hurt others, everything should be fine. But there will always be people who would force us into becoming who they want us to be, and disrespect us if we don’t. What is important is to stay grounded and to never fall into their toxic trap of control.

Thanks for reading!

16 Recent Southeast Asian Films that I’ve been Watching on Netflix

It has been almost four months since the whole world grieved over this pandemic. I’m at the phase of looking ahead. As the Buddhist teaching says, we have to let go of our attachments. I chose not to spend my time on unbeneficial attitudes. Having food, shelter & entertainment is enough to get me by while I, along with the rest of the world, wait for this to be over.

One way that helps me get through this feeling of uncertainty is by watching some Asian films. I’ve been watching a couple of Thai and Korean films and series lately. My curiosity for something foreign and exotic led me to it. I had been watching some Asian movies since I was a teen. I have a couple of favorites from those times, but I’m going to write about recent Asian films instead. Below are the movies and series I watched, arranged from the oldest to the newest release.

Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories (Japanese, 2016)

This series is about a diner that opens from midnight to 7 in the morning. Each episode features a Japanese dish and a life story. Stories range from forgiveness between estranged family members, romance, to connecting with old flames or friends. The show also peeks into the modern Japanese city life.

First They Killed My Father (Cambodian/American?, 2017)

Produced by Angelina Jolie, and based on a book of the Cambodian civil war survivor, the story centers around a family becoming captives of the Khmer Rouge. It gives viewers a glimpse into what Khmer Rouge captives went through. 

Okja (South Korean, 2017)

The film is by Bong Joon-ho, the guy who created the “Parasite.” The story is about an orphan living with her grandfather. She visits the forest to play with a creature that looks like a crossbreed between an elephant and a dog. It’s set in what looks like a peaceful magical forest. It touches on capitalism and class struggle themes – a common theme in his movies. It also tackles animal abuse issues and ethics. The film is a bit cerebral, too. It could be a bit heavy for kids, in my opinion. The animal-abuse scenes were heartbreaking.

Bangkok Love Stories: Innocence (Thai, 2018)

If you are into campy, romantic comedies, this is for you. I like it because of its lighthearted themes. It also gives viewers a peek into the modern Bangkok life of ordinary citizens. Great series to watch after a stressful day. 

Dear Ex (Taiwanese, 2018)

An ex-wife insists on his ex-husband’s gay lover that the insurance claims be given to her and their son. His husband left their family for his gay lover who he met from his job as a theatrical director. The son, having difficulties over his relationship with his mother, yearning for his departed father’s love, lived with his father’s gay lover. It is a mix of drama and comedy, which makes its emotionally-heavy theme bearable for me. Like most Asian films and series I watch, it gives one a peek into the lives of ordinary modern-day Taiwanese citizens. I like themes like this.

Girl From Nowhere (Thai, 2018)

Karma took the form of a kick-ass cute girl named Nanno. She visits high schools and serves people the consequences of their ill-conceived actions. Trigger warning: This is a dark themed series that tackles difficult issues such as rape and bullying. You will never forget Nanno after watching this. If you enjoy revenge films, this is for you.

Love Destiny (Thai, 2018)

This story is about an Anthropology major who died in a car crash and reincarnated as a noblewoman of the 18th-century Thai Kingdom called Ayutthaya. It gives us a glimpse into the ancient day Thailand. It is romantic, historic, comedic and lighthearted, with feminist themes in it. If you enjoy learning about Southeast Asian culture while watching a fictional comedy soap opera, this is for you.

Giri/Haji (Japanese, 2019)

I honestly haven’t finished watching this series yet. But the show is about a police officer tasked to solve the death of another police officer, believed to be murdered by the Yakuza. The case seems to involve his long-missing brother, who was a member of another gang syndicate. It also tackles modern-day Japanese family relationships with some LGBTQ & feminist themes, too. It’s an action-packed film and if you enjoy one, check it out. 

Happy Old Year (Thai, 2019)

The story is about a girl who returned to her country after her overseas university studies. The family was grieving the loss of their father, which seems to represent the hoards of junk in their home. Eager to move on, she tried to get rid of it, which inadvertently lead her to remember about her past relationships. I can relate to the film as I discarded some junk two years ago when I was renovating my old room after coming back home. Unlike the main character, I kept some of my high school and college memorabilia. The film is about moving on and acknowledging painful experiences. Give it a watch. 

Parasite (South Korean, 2019)

Parasite is the film that made Bong Joon-ho famous, and the first Asian film to snatch a lot of American awards. It is about a family who pretended to not know each other but scammed their way into working for a rich family. The film is a cerebral one and has a lot of visual representations in relation to its theme on class struggle. There is a blend of drama and comedy on this one. It’s kind of dark, too. It gives you a glimpse into the realities of the lower-middle class in modern Korean society. 

The Naked Director (Japanese, 2019)

This is a Japanese film based on a porn director’s story of success and downfall. It is comedic but it also has some emotionally heavy scenes, and not to forget, it has a lot of NSFW scenes. I like the nostalgic feel of the film and how it tackles family issues and coming-of-age. 

Tootsies and a Fake (Thai, 2019)

The story focused on helping their friend solve a big problem, as it also pans into each of the LGBTQ friends’ life. One of the friends became the cause of a celebrity’s accident that left her temporarily disabled, with an ad contract left unfulfilled. Fearing of getting sued, the friends looked for a look-alike to take the celebrity’s place for the ad shooting. This caused a lot of comedic adventures and mayhem. It is campy, romantic, and full of toilet humor. 

Extracurricular (South Korean, 2020)

With his mother who passed away, an introverted, intelligent high school kid was left to fend for himself by his irresponsible dad. He created an app to hire women as escorts to pay for his rent, food, and school tuition. On top of that, he hired a personal guard for the girls who were always on the lookout to protect them in case they ended up with creeps. The boy then met a stubborn, spoiled rich girl from his class who wanted to break free from the pressures of her parents and that was where things spun out of control. It tackles issues on family relationships, coming-of-age, and feminism. I like this film because it is a nod to the countless articles I’ve read about how pressured high school kids in South Korea are. This is a really kick-ass film, you should check it out. It tackles issues on family relationships, coming-of-age, and feminism.

Itaewon Class (South Korean, 2020)

I honestly haven’t finished watching this series, too. The first part was kind of dragging, but if you love long pauses on drama and conversations, this is for you. They said this tackled issues on racism, feminism, and class struggles. I guess I have to start watching it again.

Time to Hunt (South Korean, 2020)

I’m a big fan of futuristic, dystopian films and this is one of those. After a young man served his time, he returned to society with dreams of escaping a fictional tyrannical South Korea ruled by violent gangs and oligarchs. To fulfill his dream, they robbed a casino place, only to be chased by its men. This is a bittersweet, philosophical film that incites existential feelings. It’s best to embrace the absurdity sometimes.

The Ghost Bride (Malaysian/Taiwanese, 2020)

This is a lighthearted action, drama, romance, and comedy in one. This takes place in the 18th-century Malaysian town known as Malacca. A young woman was offered to be a Ghost Bride – an ancient Chinese practice where a young girl weds a deceased man to bring his soul joy in the afterlife – in return for her father to pay their family debt. He met a heavenly guard and went on adventures in the afterlife to solve the murder of his to-be-ghost-husband. 

Have you been watching other Asian films, as well? I’d like to know about similar films, too. Drop by the comment section below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ways My Pre-Pandemic Life Prepared Me for the New Normal

Four years ago, I’ve decided to move from a big city to a medium-sized one because of my eagerness to climb the corporate ladder. I heard that the other company was offering a better opportunity. That meant the possibility of having a position that was a level and pay higher. So I prepared my CV, aced the test, and got accepted. However, there was a catch – they will be assigning me to a branch that is three kilometers away from the place where I was staying.

I love the place where I stayed. I work in its central business district so the area was controlled by a real estate company. In the Philippines, this means you get to enjoy the privilege of extra security and a well-maintained place. The company deploys private security 24/7, the green landscapes and parks were often clean & relaxing, and the public transformation was controlled so there is less pollution. In effect, this influences the behaviors and attitudes of the citizens working and living in the area. I found people to be more disciplined and extra civilized there. They seem to acknowledge and respect urban solitude. There seem to be fewer creeps leering at women – the latter can wear tank tops & shorts on a hot summer day, or jog in the park peacefully wearing tight-fitting gym clothes without getting catcalled. Men would only briefly grace their glances but look away immediately.

Despite living outside the CBD, it was still pretty safe. Most of the residents in the area have lived there since birth and inherited their predecessor’s property. Thus, most of the veteran residents are the landlords of apartments and dormitories in the area. I noticed that they tend to have a communal attitude where they look after each other. Thus, they also tend to look after you to protect their neighborhood. They practice a traditional Filipino value that I thought only existed in the suburbs and rural areas.

Most of my friends live within the city and are just a call away to hang out. The best shopping centers, restaurants, and bars are located in the area. Commuting was pretty easy since I was just a 15 to 20 minutes’ drive away sans-traffic. The longest traffic was 30 minutes, which was bearable as long as you have your smartphone and internet.

I was already comfortable and familiar with its twists and turns that I didn’t want to move out. However, if I won’t, I would risk the burden of having to deal with the traffic and the overcrowded situation when train-commuting during peak hours. It meant that I had to wake up early and go home really late. It was a dreadful thought as it was unhealthy.

I was given another option to move to a medium-sized city. The director said they were also looking for someone to fill in the same position. My sister lives there, so I grabbed the opportunity. It was worth the hassle since commuting during the peak hours was bearable. Also, the place was inviting because of its white sand and pristine topaz oceans. Tourists from all over the world frequent the city for this matter. So I thought I’d give it a try. I’m from a small, laid-back city. I was already imagining visiting beaches and falls on weekends. I was excited! I always had this curious attitude in me that I try new things. I’ve already had the opportunity to experience a challenging place. Now is the time to try living in a new one.

However, my positive expectations clouded the reality of living in this new city. It was the opposite of where I used to live. Although I still live near a mini-CBD owned by the same real estate company, the rents around the area were pretty expensive. Technically, they were about the same price and slightly spacious than my previous apartment in the bigger city. However, the maintenance was disappointing. The landlord was less accommodating of our needs. Their building was pretty unkempt. The building was infested with pests, there were plumbing issues, and there seemed to be a permanent septic-tank stench. The better-condition buildings were 4 to 5 kilometers away, which was not very convenient for me and my sister. The only pros were that we were conveniently located near the best shopping centers and restaurants.

The inconvenience didn’t end there. Different regions meant different behaviors and attitudes. When I raised our concern about our apartment, we were either ignored or scorned for feeling privileged. While the previous city I lived in value universalism and was more inner-directed, the new city was more particularistic and outer-directed. That meant, they won’t do anything about your complaints unless you are their friend and family, and that you have to adapt to the situation. This made me very disappointed and frustrated. Only after several tries of courting, wooing, and bargaining did they finally acted to fix our room. God, it was exhausting.

The inconvenience didn’t ended there, neither. Because my colleagues were all from the region and speak the same language and I did not, I struggled to build friendship with them (Fact: The Philippines have 170+ languages because of its diverse ethnic groups). I had no clue how to deal with them. I only remember often feeling frustrated and disappointed. Anything I do seem to be interpreted as something rude or haughty. While the previous city I used to live in value individualism and achievement, the latter valued communitarianism and ascription. Meaning, if you do not often socialize with them and if you are too focused on your job, they’d take it as rudeness and showing-off. They tend to socialize a lot in the office, sometimes to a point where it takes half of their whole working day. In the previous city where I used to live in, they respect your urban solitude and understand that some people do not mix office relationships with private life. However, in the new city, they tend to often hang out after work, even on weekends! They also tend to be way more affective and diffuse-oriented than their Northern counterparts. While Filipinos are generally known to be affective, if you go to the metro, you’d notice how people are more neutral and specific-oriented. All of this culture-shock took a toll on me that it affected how I do my job. My anxiety was often manifesting that I often have insomnia and become forgetful. So, I resigned from the post after just four months. I told my parents that I was fired for not passing the training so they won’t reprimand me. I applied to another job and consciously chose an associate job. It was a foreign company, so the pay was the same. However, I found myself in the same culture, therefore finding myself in the same situation all over again. I stood out in a weird way to them, probably. My actions and values were very opposite from theirs and this threatened them so they distrusted me. Due to my frustration, I distanced my self from my colleagues, resulting in them gangstalking me. I had another colleague who was from the metro and she experienced the same, too. They really go after people who are different from them, I realized. It was a really difficult experience. I realized I was not meant to be in that place. I’ve visited this same place a couple of times in the past with my boyfriend and had great experiences. I realized that it was good only for visiting as a tourist than being a resident.

I stayed in the place for the next two years. Since I don’t have friends there and my sister was busy with her job and went through some personal issues within the same year, sad to say, I didn’t get to visit the places I wanted to. I have fond memories of visiting other places, though. The restaurant and nightlife were great, and when my boyfriend came back from his overseas job, we get the chance to visit an island near the place, so it’s all good. I also worked for some online jobs briefly.

But for the most part, I spent my two years either at work or at home. It was really boring. I moved out again to try to look for a job in the metro where I used to live in, but it was unsuccessful. I was running out of cash and no one called me for employment so I opted to go back to my hometown. I started working from home since last year, and life has been pretty boring. I spent most of my days at home, and only go out twice or thrice a month to get some groceries. Most of my old friends are busy with their motherly duties and work life. Our schedules do not often match. We’d meet only once or twice a year.

I’ve been living in social distancing for two years now. All of what happened inadvertently lead me to a safer place. It would be difficult to deal with the pandemic if I had stayed in the metro. From the news, the first three months since the pandemic lockdown in the Philippines was difficult there. The medium-sized city where I moved to went through a challenging political turmoil and the city is now known to be the epicenter of the pandemic because of poor & tyrannical management of the officials.

While I am sad about the plight of my friends and family in these two cities, this pandemic also gave me a chance to reflect on my past. I’ve experienced a lot of stress these past two years to three years, only to be lead to safety. Things are a bit easier in my humble hometown. Because it is a small city, most people know one another. We know most of the government and police officials. The military camp of the region is located here and there is a foreign airbase as well, which usually helps us during hard times. Since this is a small city, the air is fresher and fruits and vegetables are easily available either in your yard or your neighbors. Family and friends help each other.

What did I learn from these experience? If you are not wise enough, you may not be able to adapt easily in a new place. I realized one should learn about another region’s attitudes and values before deciding to live there. Also, life has a weird way to leading us towards something better. I think the difficult experiences were all worth it. It made me stronger, tougher, wiser, and braver.

And with all these, I am sure that I can handle more challenges in the future.