My Top 10 Dramas of 2016

I’m a big fan of the website Dramabeans, and I always anticipate its annual Year in Review. For 2016, the website’s writers crowned Signal as the winner in 3 major categories: Best Drama, Best Directing, and Best Writing. 

That sure piqued my interest for the drama, but I’ve decided to watch Signal only after I finish Lee Je-hoon’s upcoming drama with Shin Mina, Tomorrow With You.

Back to Dramabeans’ Year in Review: I realized that I watch more and more dramas every year; I finished 33 dramas in 2016, 25 of which are full-length ones (meaning, dramas that are 16- to 24-episode long).

And since I watch too many dramas, I thought, why not start naming the top 10 dramas of each year? And what better year to start it than with 2016, which gave us some of the better dramas in recent years.

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New beginnings

It was a mess back home a few hours before 2016 ended. Emotions ran high, crying ensued, and I kept saying in between sobs: “Are we really going to end 2016 this way?”

It could’ve ended that way. Each of us could’ve retreated to our own rooms, sulking and murmuring as the rest of the world celebrated the end of 2016 and the start of 2017. Our New Year’s Eve dinner could’ve gone cold, and we could’ve just slept the night away.

But it didn’t end that way. After everything was said and done, we found ourselves in our living room with our eyes shut and our hands clasped together, praying for the Lord to heal every hurt in our hearts and to use our family even more in 2017.

Suddenly, there was peace. And love, which has been there all along.

It was there when we tried to listen to each other, even though it’s always easier to walk away. It was there when we kept reminding each other that love “keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5), even though it’s always easier to find fault and to pass blame.

We could’ve hated each other’s guts; instead, we chose to love.

And that spelled the difference.

I praise God for new beginnings, and the many chances we’re given to try again.

Maybe we weren’t exactly the nicest person in 2016, and maybe we were mediocre in every aspect of our lives.

Maybe we could’ve done better, but didn’t, for fear of failure or rejection or change.

But you see, His mercies are new every morning. Every morning. Ponder on that. Let that sink in. Realize that only a good, good Father could be so gracious as to grant us the gift of new beginnings.

In Him, we can start over again, and this time, with more love to get us through messy fights and ugly crying.

My heart is full, because with Him in me, I can be sure of this: 2017 is going to be my year.


Photo c/o Allan Lazaro


When it no longer fits

I’ve done this a dozen of times for the past 3 years: go to school, line up – check in one hand, pen in another – burn thousands of hard-earned cash on education I was made to believe will be my saving grace in the quote-unquote real world.

But today is different. Today, making sure I get to attend classes for my last year in university is not top priority. 

Today, I have to see you. I need to see you.

I’m wearing my best clothes – new, in fact, with the smell of apparel that was washed once and only once. Checkered long sleeves – “Why did I wear this it’s summer for goodness sake” – and pants that fit to a tee. You’d laugh if you’ve seen the sweat in my forehead. You’d pull out a handkerchief – you know I don’t bring one around – and wipe it off, and a familiar smell would linger in the air – that smell of you I’ve grown accustomed to.

“Are you coming?” I ask in a text message. It took me longer than expected to come up with that 3-word question, but I had many other versions before that:

“I miss you. Am I seeing you today?”

“How are you? Do you want to eat lunch after enrollment?”

“What classes are you taking? Can we take the same classes again?”

I know I shouldn’t ask these questions anymore, so I didn’t. We’re no longer together, or whatever that set-up’s called. An item? Exclusively dating? A fling? 

I don’t know what it’s called, but what you and I had, it made sense. It felt right. It meant the world to me.

But it didn’t last long.

“Sorry, I’m not going there today,” you reply. It’s a common response to a common question, but every word felt heavy, laden with too much history, too many meanings.

I’m sorry, I won’t go out of my way anymore to see you. I’m sorry, we’re just friends now. I’m sorry, I don’t have time.

I’m sorry, I don’t have time for you. I won’t make time for you.

The checkered long sleeves still sits in my closet, a survivor of my household’s yearly purge of clothes that are old, tattered, and beyond redemption.

I wore it the other day, to check if all those days of running at midnight paid off. Left arm in, right arm next, my reflection in the full-length mirror showing a face hopeful that numbers on the weighing scale have become more forgiving this time.

I’ve buttoned it up, and it looks okay. I can go out wearing this, I told myself. It would be a bit harder to breathe, sure, and eating too much is not an option.

But something didn’t make sense. Something didn’t feel right. 

So I took it off, and didn’t bother folding it anymore. This goes with next year’s purge, I made a mental note, as I dumped it back in my closet and out of my sight.

I could use another checkered long sleeves – another mental note. I’ve outgrown this.

I’ve outgrown you.

On trying out new things


Since coming back from a week-long vacation in August, I made it a point to start/try one new thing every month.

Last September, I started driving lessons. We have two drivers now in the family, and it won’t hurt to have a third, but since I live alone in Quezon City, I’ve barely practiced driving. Since September, I’ve only held the steering wheel thrice. The goal is to get my non-professional license before the student’s license expires in a year’s time. Hopefully, I’m as fast a learner as my brother is.

On the very first day of this month, I tried dancing. I’ve only been to a class once since my friend Marlo got injured on the day I joined her. Memories of that day are still so vivid – how, for two hours, I mockingly laughed at myself while trying to keep up with the real dancers. There I was, the newbie, flailing in front of professional and amateur dancers, trying to prove to no one but myself that I do not have two left feet. It made for a good workout, really. Also, walking out of that studio felt amazing; I did something so crazy and so…out there, I still can’t believe it. If the physical pain I’m going through lately subsides, I think I might head out for another class this week.

I’m already thinking of what to do for November. Right now, it’s a toss-up between learning football or sign language. Learning sign language has always been at the back of my head since I did that investigative story in junior year of college.

As for football, well, ask Kai. She knows why that’s on the table. :>

It’s been two months since I last blogged. Blame my lack of motivation, or the absence of wanting this enough – this, being life in general.

I’m at my worst when I’m lukewarm, really, and that has been my state of mind for the past few weeks. Today, however, the great CS Lewis served me a bucket full of ice with a 1943 essay titled Three Kinds of Men. 

May it kick you out of your sluggishness as it kicked me out of mine:

There are three kinds of people in the world.

The first class is of those who live simply for their own sake and pleasure, regarding Man and Nature as so much raw material to be cut up into whatever shape may serve them.

In the second class are those who acknowledge some other claim upon them—the will of God, the categorical imperative, or the good of society—and honestly try to pursue their own interests no further than this claim will allow. They try to surrender to the higher claim as much as it demands, like men paying a tax, but hope, like other taxpayers, that what is left over will be enough for them to live on. Their life is divided, like a soldier’s or a schoolboy’s life, into time “on parade” and “off parade,” “in school” and “out of school.”

But the third class is of those who can say like St Paul that for them “to live is Christ.” These people have got rid of the tiresome business of adjusting the rival claims of Self and God by the simple expedient of rejecting the claims of Self altogether. The old egoistic will has been turned round, reconditioned, and made into a new thing. The will of Christ no longer limits theirs; it is theirs. All their time, in belonging to Him, belongs also to them, for they are His.

And because there are three classes, any merely twofold division of the world into good and bad is disastrous. It overlooks the fact that the members of the second class (to which most of us belong) are always and necessarily unhappy. The tax which moral conscience levies on our desires does not in fact leave us enough to live on. As long as we are in this class we must either feel guilt because we have not paid the tax or penury because we have. The Christian doctrine that there is no “salvation” by works done to the moral law is a fact of daily experience. Back or on we must go. But there is no going on simply by our own efforts. If the new Self, the new Will, does not come at His own good pleasure to be born in us, we cannot produce Him synthetically.

The price of Christ is something, in a way, much easier than moral effort—it is to want Him. It is true that the wanting itself would be beyond our power but for one fact. The world is so built that, to help us desert our own satisfactions, they desert us. War and trouble and finally old age take from us one by one all those things that the natural Self hoped for at its setting out. Begging is our only wisdom, and want in the end makes it easier for us to be beggars. Even on those terms the Mercy will receive us.

Notice that I’ve lagged behind with my Smiles and Promises weekly blog. Again, blame it on my lack of motivation.

I’m not sure if I’d bring it back anytime soon, though. While I’m okay these days, I feel like that weekly blog should be the least of my concerns for now. I need to get back on track with many other things: my spiritual walk, my relationships, my work, my health.

But at the same time I want to practice photography again in preparation for my Korea trip next month. Maybe I should resume with that weekly blog after all.

Bahala na. 

Finding the magic in the mundane

Honestly, I’m tired of saying “same, same” whenever people ask me how I’ve been. Life is great, life is good, and it shouldn’t be “same, same” every.single.time.

I want to find the magic in the mundane, and I want to celebrate life again – every single thing about it, from the messy to the beautiful.

How do I get back that childlike wonder – the kind that is unassuming and leaves you vulnerable, lost even?

I want that thirst for new things, that drive to create, that desire to be. I’d do anything to be a woman who lives up to her name: joyful.

I really, really don’t want to settle. Not anymore.