Gifts: A Stress to Give, A Joy to Receive

Ah, the holidays. Full of happiness, traffic, parties, and stress. Can we even say Christmas is near if don’t get stuck in traffic on the road or in the mall? Can we even convince ourselves that we have the Christmas spirit in us if we don’t suffer from cashier/ gift wrapping lines as long as NLEX? I don’t think so.

While I do agree that the holidays are quite merry, people do tend to glamorise it so much that we forget the stress involved. The stress of gifts, traffic jams, parties, nosy relatives, and financial issues are quite a formidable force of nature. I’m glad to say though that most of us have developed our own ways of dealing with them over time. Time (and money) management, good music, and epic comebacks are some of the ways people have found to be effective.

Now, you know well as a student that you have to be a bit of a penny-pincher if you even want to think about giving gifts to friends. (I’m assuming you are not rich. If you are, you can actually focus on giving your friends the gifts they like.) What I would suggest is to give every gift a personal touch. Without it, you’d just be giving special giveaways. (Especially if you get them all the same thing!)
It really depends on your strengths. Since I got notebooks from Papemelroti for my close friends, I decided to write a personal letter inside each one. Everyone liked the letters, but one decided to write one back as a gesture of appreciation. I still read that letter up to this day.

On that note about gifts, I didn’t know there were some rules on gift-giving. Well, apparently, the general rules are: you’re not supposed to expect to get a gift back from the person you’re giving a gift to; but if you’re the one being given a gift, it’s usually polite to give one back. I suppose that’s why we re-gift unused gifts, too. Not only because we don’t like the gifts, but also because we can convince ourselves that we’re a good person by giving someone a gift we think they’ll enjoy.

One of my best friend’s friends decided to start the tradition of writing letters on every birthday gift, so I thought, “What if I write letters on gifts for Christmas?”. So I did. Personally, there’s just something really cool about getting a letter from a special friend, and I wanted to share that with people this Christmas season. Also, when someone gives you a letter as a friend, it’s like they’re willing to share a piece of themselves with you on paper for you to treasure. I know I do. (So does my name-sake in Message in a Bottle by Nicholas Sparks, but the letters were not read by the intended person, anyways. Whoops, that might have been a spoiler.)

There are some shops that are often visited by people with a low Christmas budget. One of them is Papemelroti, while another one is Miniso (depending on whether your local mall has one of its branches.) Both of them offer nice stuff for generally low prices. Think of Papemelroti as the anthropomorphic representation of the hipster side of Tumblr, and Miniso as the Japanese version of Divisoria. Papemelroti is generally well-known for its locally-sourced notebooks and jewelry, while Miniso is known for having almost everything at affordable prices.

While we can’t really say much on what to give people for Christmas, we do know when to draw the line when it comes to acceptable gifts. People follow different rules, and you might just have to find out on your own what yours are. Yes, you will find out by trial-and error sometimes. But, even if you give the wrong gift, at least your feelings won’t be hurt (much). We all have went to acting school at some point because of horrible gifts. (Because we all say thank you for the fact that the person thought of us enough to give us a gift, right?)

I’m either old or broke enough to know that Christmas can’t be defined by giving gifts. It can neither be defined by family gatherings nor the birth of Jesus Christ on its own. (Even if I’m a Christian, some non-believers do celebrate Christmas.) What I do know is that everyone may have their own reasons why they celebrate Christmas, but it doesn’t matter anyway, because everyone is focused on one thing that unites us: spreading joy. That’s what the holidays are all about.


Too Late

Hey guys! Garrett here. Sorry for not posting anything awhile, school’s terrible and awesome at the same time. So, to make up for it, I will write two poems. Free verse, I think. Anyhow, just a fair warning, even though the poems are quite dark, let me assure you I am perfectly fine with good friends around me. I just like angsty fics or poems.





Down, down, below

Into nothingness

As I feel these horrible things

Swimming around my mind

Is it just me,

Or am I falling from grace?

From greatness,

I have fallen into something  worthless.

People try to save me

But they can only do so much

As they try to reach for my hand

As I fall from my heaven into my hell.

The place where I deserve to be.

Tortured, for all eternity.

Much better than getting the love you didn’t deserve

Still, I think they will miss me, though

But then again, they can always move on.

Move on, have fun, and forget about me.

Isn’t that great?

As I come to meet my destiny, I hear voices.

Congratulating me, on the best decision I have ever made.

But amidst the victorious voices, I hear a small one

Mourning about how my family will ever react.

Now I’m doubting.

Was this really necessary?

Or was I too blind to see another solution?

It’s too late, anyway. I’ve hit the ground.

Intense pain circulates as I feel my bones crack.

Too much. Too much.

As I lose consciousness, I only hope he understands.


I was too late.

He jumped.

He wouldn’t listen to me.

That’s him, I guess. Reductive of his own worth.

How is his perception so distorted that he fails to see the good in him?

Right now, I can hear him telling me it’s fine. Like he always did.

How can he not see that this was not fine?

Is it because to say that you were fine and hide behind a mask

Is much easier than admitting you were not and showing your vulnerabilities?

How couldn’t he see that even if we’ll move on with our lives, he’ll always stay in our hearts, never to be forgotten?

Was it because I was too harsh on him? I’ll never know.

Now what do I do?

I’m not used to living a life without him forever.

I’m not even sure this life is worth living anymore.

I want to prove that I’m no better than he.

Even if he thinks I am.

Oh, the ambulance is here.

Will he survive?

‘Cause I ain’t pulling him off the plug.

He’s way too important for me to die.

I guess I’d better call his parents now.




Dear Andrew

I see so many posts about best friends. They all seemed cheesy to me, honestly. Like, yes, we get it, your best friend brings you food everyday, and he/she makes you smile, we get it. It’s not that I don’t believe in best friends. In fact, I do have one. It’s just that, well, I can’t seem to write a post about my best friend and express all I want to say about him without sounding cheesy. Oh well. That doesn’t qualify as an excuse for not trying, so I’ll give it my best shot.


Dear Joel Andrew Mallari,


First of all, thank you for being my best friend. Well, damn, it’s cheesy, what should I say? I need help telling you how much you mean to me, and how great you’ve impacted my life for the better, because to me, it’s like a mass noun. Well, what am I saying, of course it’s a mass noun, I can’t measure your kindness, your selflessness, and all your good qualities that you sadly fail to see. Thanks a lot.


What do I want to say to you? I’m not repeating all the things I’ve said on Messenger when you opened up to me about your feelings of self-hatred. Even if I keep on thanking you for being there when I had depression, it just doesn’t feel enough. What should I do, Andrew? What can I say to you here that will express all I’ve wanted to say to you?


Embarrassingly, I keep on having fantasies where either you or I am about to die, and that’s where I get to tell you all I’ve been meaning to tell you. We don’t need to go there, do we? What is it with the knowledge that death is coming soon that encourages people to tell all they’ve felt about a certain person to that person? Is it that when they die, that person will doubt forever about how much they meant to that dying person?


I’ve always wondered if it was possible to love someone not related to you without romantic feelings, just deep-seated love, admiration, and caring for that person. After being with you for a whole school year, I can definitely say yes. It was confusing at first, because I first thought that if you loved someone, you had to be interested in them and have romantic feelings for them. Maybe that’s why I’ve simply dismissed my feelings for you as something that will pass. But as time passed, I realized that maybe I actually loved you. More time passed before I realized that this love has been present ever since opening day. It has just developed over time. Of course, I’ve always let you tease me about my crush. Maybe those were only feelings of lust. You know our hormones. Always raging at the speed of light, but that doesn’t mean it’s gotta be tonight.


I like to think of myself as realistic. So when I had those realizations, I knew I couldn’t say it to you without sounding like I want to do the nasty to you. Yes, I’ve confessed it to you as well that I thought of doing the nasty to you, but that was me simply exploring whether it would work or not. Now that I’m sitting here, typing this, I am laughing at myself for entertaining those thoughts. So, don’t worry, I’m not interested in doing the nasty with you.


Now that I’m reading my thoughts, I realize what type of love I have for you. You’re like the brother I’ve never had. So, I guess it’s brotherly love. Bromance? Hmmm, will think about that later.


Oh well. That’s all I have to say to you (for now).


Thank you for being the eldest brother I’ve never had (I know, I’m older than you, but TBH, IDC.)



A. Garrett Lubag

Before I go to sleep, Depression talks to me

This story is basically my take at depressed self-loathing Caleb. I wrote it to try and show how it feels like when depression hits me. Take note that this is only one way depression affects people. Sometimes, it can also mean feeling empty. Here it goes. Trigger warning: implied self-harm, suicidal thoughts, depressing thoughts. Explicit.

Caleb just wanted to sleep and escape into nothingness.

Right now, it’s 12:20 a.m. He couldn’t sleep, and voices kept popping up in his head, which are quite abusive to him. He knows it was just one voice, since it always yells bad things about him. it just has the ability to morph into voices of other people. Mostly, it’s his voice, but it changes to others as well.

“Worthless. Liar. Skinny, as they all say, or fat, as you see? Hahaha, you can’t seem to agree with yourself of who you are, can you?”, whispers the voice in his head. He shudders.

“Such a piece of shit. I still wonder how on Earth Leo is still friends with you. After all, isn’t he right about the fact that you are, let’s list it down, rude, anorexic, depressed, suicidal, and, well, it’s too long to mention.”, the voice continued, snickering.

“Didn’t it feel so good when you dragged something sharp across your forearm and see the scratch? Why couldn’t you do it again? Oh wait, you’ll hurt everyone with what you do to yourself. , it seems as if it’s the only thing you can do: hurt everyone, hmm?”

Caleb was crying silently. He was thankful all his other roommates were asleep. The voice’s right, how could he still keep on living? Why was he still eating the food other poor hungry people need more than him? He tried to read a Johnlock fanfic where John comforts Sherlock during one of Sherlock’s depressive episodes. To him, reading fanfics about characters being helped mentally and emotionally by other characters comforts him. He gets the feeling of comfort that he isn’t alone. That others have the same problem as him.

“Oh how sweet. Sherlock at least has John to remind him he’s worthy of life. Don’t you wish Leo would be able to do the same to you?” the voice mocks. “To be the one who you could cry on his shoulder and be the one to hug you? Oh, in your dreams kid. You know he hates to touch an evil, twisted anomaly like you. Plus, why would he even remind you that?”

Caleb decided to have a conversation with the voice.

“Hello depression.”

“Hello Caleb.”

“Why are you still here?”

“I don’t know, you ask me, bitch.”

“Fine. I wish you were gone.”

“Well duh. Everyone’s asking you to do your best to make me go away. They don’t understand, though.”

“I know. It’s so hard for people to understand how I feel.”

“That’s why I’m here. I’m the one who understands you a lot. I can sympathise with all the pain you have inside.”

“Funny, how you say it like you are not the one who causes it.”

“Ever heard of the term ‘the ugly truth’, bitch?”, the voice asked sarcastically. “When you let it all out, I make sure you do what you think you deserve.”

“Why do you convince me that killing myself is the only way out?”

“Caleb, when you die, this pain you feel inside you will go away. You will never make anyone mad at you for doing bad stuff. Plus, you deserve this.”

“But, I’ll end up hurting people I love.”

“They’ll understand as they move on with their lives. They can sell your stuff for money. Your parents save money in the long term. Right? You can give your iPhone to Leo. He’ll have more fun with you phone than with you. Plus, why would they need you anyway?”

“I don’t know. Honestly, there are people who love me a lot, even if I don’t deserve it, so I should probably do them a favour and stay alive.”

“Fine, be that way. Just so you know, I’m always ready to help you achieve death if you think otherwise.”

“Should I even believe you? All those times I tried your suggestions, I failed, and you laughed at me told me I was too weak to do what had to be done.”

“Well, they are good ones. You’re just too weak to follow through.”

“Oh well. Good night.”

“Good night, Caleb. Enjoy your dreams of suicide.”

Short story: Caleb’s OTPs(?)

Caleb thought about school in his bed. Wait, scratch that, he thought about his OTPs (One True Pairing). Before you dismiss him as irresponsible, take note that he has pulled an all-nighter for the sake of studying for exams. Let’s continue.

Caleb sighed. As much as he wanted the ship to happen, Leo/Rita just wasn’t going to be a thing. Yes, Leo liked Rita, but there was absolutely no sign from Rita saying that she liked Leo. All Caleb saw was a sermon given by Rita to Leo for not being cooperative with the play. In fangirl terms, this was canon. Leo/Rose had more hope, but for some reason, Leo still denied the possibility of being friends with Rose. Plus, when they weren’t on good terms, they cursed at each other in Spanish and Italian, respectively. Humph, next!

Jerry/Cam? Oh hell no! Just by appearance and by behaviour, it was obvious it would never work out! Cam was petite, but very bitchy sometimes (especially during rehearsals for the play, but he understood), and Jerry was like the perverted version of the BFG. This was obviously not his OTP. Next!

Caleb/Mae? Nah, he already got over Mae because he found out she was “pabebe”, and anyway, his eyes seemed to be more attracted to Fianza (who is a boy, but he was ok with that). Caleb/Fianza? He wasn’t sure. He kept on telling Fianza he was handsome, cute, and other positive adjectives, but Fianza didn’t seem to listen. Plus, Fianza denied Caleb’s brownie (which was so good because Jerry’s mom baked it). As much as it hurt, he knew it wouldn’t work. Next!

Axel/Clarisse? Now this had a lot of hope. The two were the main characters in the play ran by the section itself, and they were supposed to act as lovers who tragically found out they were siblings. Plus, Axel posted pictures of his conversation with Clarisse. Fluff overload, he thought dreamily. Hmm, need to think about more later. Next!

Porkie/Narcissus? Ok, he was biased here, but he didn’t want this to happen. Narcissus was his annoying classmate that’s disruptive AF during class, and his personality screams “babaero”. Porkie was a cute sweet shy girl that likes Facebook and needs to control her laughter during recitation in Math. She certainly didn’t deserve Narcissus! Next!

Oh wait, that’s all. Oh well, I need to sleep anyway, Caleb sighed as he entered the world of dreams.



I suppose that having more time at home during summer has led me to renew my blog. Writing a post comes easy for me. There’s just one part of it that is so nerve-wracking: deciding what title I should use.

It is nerve-wracking and seemingly impossible to think of a great title for my posts. That title of my previous post was inspired by a Britney Spears song, and I couldn’t think of a better one back then. Often, I ask my mom what title it should be. She has two reactions:

a) She tells me I should think of one on my own,

b) She gives suggestions.

I always give my post a title when I’m done typing up the post. You start with an idea in your head, but that idea is not the title itself. That idea propels your writing, and when you’re done, gives you the job of giving that post a title. Really. Hard.

Now, as I think of the titles I put on my blog posts (I think it’s starting to get narcissistic and stuck-up), they are so varied. Some were inspired by a commercial tagline promoting the Philippines (More fun in the Philippines), one was inspired by a song (Oops… I did it again), some were my own ideas and some were Mom’s suggestions.

I write my title last. It has become a habit for me, because I believe that my content should define the title, and not the other way around. However, homework is an exception, when you are forced to write related stuff under a certain title. That method is slightly easier only if another person has imposed the title.

Now, what title should this be?

ADHD: Puberty, Different Worries and the Search for a Normal Life

I drafted this post on yellow pad paper, while I thought of what to write. My brain declared what I wrote.

I’m diagnosed with ADHD. I’m about to enter my puberty stage, where acne starts getting worse,  I need to take a shower at night because I stink. Friendship issues become more complicated (I wish someone would give advice on how to resolve friendship issues). How do I cope? Well, for me, I  become: the introvert, the guide counselor, the audience, the stand-up comedian, the news reporter, and the nerd. In our class, you have to adapt to the latest fads.

Anyway, here are the things I have to worry about:

I worry about talking too much, and finding social cues that will determine whether I will talk or keep quiet.

I worry about submitting requirements most of the time, which lowers my grades.

I worry about being able to focus on my studying, because I easily get distracted.

Enough of the worries, let me tell you what things I can do:

I can understand almost any topic in class.

I am a bookworm, which means words come to me easily.

I love Math with its numbers, letters, and operations.

Let me tell you something: A brain with ADHD craves a lot of stimuli, which is easily found in social media, and other favorite things. That stimuli distracts us from something b-o-r-i-n-g to something FUN.

I try my best to be normal, just like everyone else. Every day, though, I still have to take Concerta once. (I’ll wean off them soon). Which means: “You’re not everyone”, my mom said. Sometimes, life rears its ugly head, leaving me in tears. Still, it also shows its beautiful side, and I am filled with joy. Regardless of your condition, life has a lot of ups and downs for all of us. It’s up to ourselves to decide what to do with it.

My Faithful Green Notebook


My green notebook serves me

Faithfully and forever.

I don’t care if it’s old, just let it be,

But please don’t make a tear.


It contains all those little notes,

The ones I wrote in school

Some are good, some are okay,

The others, I want to throw away.


It’s one of those notebooks in my collection,

I kind of regret the rest, ’cause I rarely used them.

But seeing you beg for one more note,

I guess you’re my only one.


I might have a 3rd party in my notebooks,

The floral one in my cubby is kind of getting jealous.

If it had legs, it would walk home,

And slap me on the face.


Now that I wrote this, I kind of wonder,

All these words made from letters,

All those years spent on reading books,

Have finally paid off in writing.


Oh well, it’s over now,

My babysitter’s calling me.

It’s time for lunch, you know,

And I really have to eat.

On Writing Posts

I’m clicking on my previous posts. When you have written so many posts, you have to remember to look back and see your previous ones. The posts just become more beautiful when you read them after a long time.

Seeing all my posts, my topics are too divergent to classify all of them, most of  the posts are under Personal Stuff. It’s not as if they’re really hard to organize into groups like the Factions in Divergent: Erudite, Dauntless, Abnegation, Amity, and Candor. Some of my posts are like Tris who is an Erudite and a Dauntless, so I put them under two categories. 

My moods don’t really affect my writing that much, I could write an angry post while I’m happy, a sad post while I’m angry, things like that. Another thing I notice is that I tend to write sparingly, often inconsistent. I could have a writing spree, and sometimes, it takes a year before I write another post. It’s not always because of writer’s block. I simply am too busy to write sometimes.

Some of my posts have the same topic as my mother’s blog on I don’t know if my blog is a child and my mother’s blog is a parent. You think blogs can have relations like that of family trees? I might believe so. My mom often suggests things to write, mostly about travels.

One thing I’ll say, however. The last thing I want to write is a diary entry. The only post that resembles a diary in this whole blog is my 1-week stay in Bulacan.

I can’t publish my posts on the iPad, the connection is broken, so I usually use the desktop or my mom’s laptop. The WordPress app on the tablet still shows failed posts that are already on my blog. What can I say, partiality is also present in technology. Ever tried to open a document and a message comes up, saying the software couldn’t open it? I have, and it’s frustrating.

I prefer writing posts on the tablet, I like typing a lot. You don’t have to copy a whole wannabe post from paper to the screen of the tablet. Everyone has their own writing preferences, and I’m showing mine.

I’ll admit, writing a post is sometimes boring, often considered a last resort to killing time while waiting. I often write when I feel the urge to. We all need motivation to continue through writing at times. Usually, what motivates me is the fact that I haven’t updated my blog for a long time.

Before I even start writing a post, I mentally recite what I will write on my blog. Writing is finding your own voice, and I take this literally, like Jessica Zafra. I have to hear myself reciting what I write, otherwise I get stuck. 

Once I’m done writing, I show it to my mom. She edits my work, shows my erroneous subject-verb agreement if I have, and shows alternative words for what I write to make it better. She tells me about the corrections, and I simply edit, following my mom’s instructions. Why not Dad? Often, he’s always somewhere in the Philippines.  Also, I ask him only when I have a hard time in Mathematics. There you go. Dad’s good in Math, Mom’s good in English. 

After I edit the post, I usually add the necessary Tags, organize in Categories, then, I click the Publish button. Finally, I view my finished post. If I see an error, I click the Edit button and do some editing, then I click the Update button.

My Twisted Idol

Jessica Zafra is a good writer. Her writing has that satirical, witty note that gives her column a unique zest. She is very unconventional, her writing is unlike any other columnist’s. However, her writing is not recommended for those readers who want pleasant things, as she is twisted. Her writing has a divergent range, unlike her emotions, which are limited.

Jessica Zafra’s hometown is Manila. She attended St. Theresa’s College in Quezon City, Philippine Science High School, and the University of the Philippines, where she majored in Comparative Literature. She is a three-time Palanca Award winner. She is a columnist for TODAY newspaper, but she is currently in a hospital, sick with a neurological disease.

In her columns, she rambles about any topic, but she likes writing about herself the best. Her subjects are wildly divergent. She says it’s postmodern.

My mom has two Twisted books of Jessica Zafra, Twisted and Twisted 7. Jessica Zafra has Twisted books from 1 to 10, and I would like to get them all.

I often fantasize about meeting Jessica Zafra in the hospital. Holding the two books I’d say ” Hi Jessica.” She’d say: ” Who you?” I’d say: ” Just a fan of your books, can you sign them?” She’d sign them afterward and ask: ” How old are you?” I’d say my age, and I know she wouldn’t mind, since she doesn’t believe in censorship (MTRCB) and Parental Advisory stickers.

I know one other Filipino writer, a comic-book writer and illustrator, named Jose Gamboa. We corresponded with each other thru e-mail. I lost one of the library books at my school, which was the work of Jose Gamboa, and we had to ask him for a copy to be delivered to the library. He gave me one copy, signed by him. He also gave me and the library a comic book on Manny Pacquiao.

Jessica Zafra, you are my idol in writing. I wish I could write like you. Please get well soon.