I promised my next blog post would be about love. While I write it, I decided to post this for you guys, a little cover I did of an Adele song…Hope you all like it =)
It’s a strange thing. People talk about it all the time. They tell you to be strong, that together we are strong, that if you are strong, you can get through anything.
What they don’t tell you, is that when you’re alone, it’s hard to be strong.
Being a human being is an amazing thing. We get to experience so many wonderful things that other creatures don’t. We get to fall in love, to feel heartache, to feel fear, pain, passion, excitement, anger, despair, depression, and a whole other cornucopia of colourful things. I’m not saying that to feel all of these things is GOOD, but to be able to FEEL anything, is such an IMPORTANT part of being human.
People do not realise how important it is to feel. To deal with emotion, for many, is a very difficult thing. Especially, when the situation causing the emotion is completely out of your control. A break-up, a fight, betrayal, death. How can you control your emotions, when there is nothing you can do, right?
In 2003, my parents separated. It was a few months before my 18th birthday, and I was at boarding school at the time, so the impact didn’t really hit me until I was back home after graduation. My Papa was gone. My family seemed empty. It felt to me, as though I was an outsider, a stranger to my own family, and I couldn’t find comfort anywhere.
So I went to pursue my dreams. I moved here. I had always loved it here as a child and I finally had a chance to live here. I was going to be a model, and help my family, and maybe, just maybe, if I stayed away, my parents would have more time for my brother and make sure he was ok. He was only 11 years old. I regret leaving him every day.
At the end of 2003, I was starting to model. I went to a casting one day, and I was super nervous. There were so many people, so many pretty girls and muscular guys, and I was so shy. There were two people who caught my eye. They were throwing around an American football, and talking with thick American accents. One of them, you might know as Rich Herrera. The other, was called Mark. Funnily enough, so is my brother.
Mark is one of those guys who has a certain energy about them that draws people to them. He was like, the head of a family of big kids (us) whose own families weren’t around, and he turned us into a mega-family. I’m serious. We did everything together. Birthdays, events, movie nights, dinners, fights, partying, you name it, we went through it together. Even deaths. These guys came to Batangas City with me to watch me give away my crown for Bb. Lungsod ng Batangas, and they stood in the crowd and cheered. Mark even wrote “I <3 Kat” on his chest during the MTV VJ hunt.
Any sign of trouble, these guys would be there. And we were a force to be reckoned with. We even lived next door to each other for a few years, and we turned the building into something resembling a college dorm, we were notorious. We would leave our doors unlocked and just walk into each other places as if they were our own. Our own messy, dysfunctional family, full of unconditional love.
That was the deal with Mark. He never judges, he never criticizes, he just tells you straight up. Once I was crying over an ex boyfriend, and he turned to me and said: “Are you where you want to be in your life yet?” And I said no. He said: “Do what you got to first. Then worry about all that other shit.” Straight up. And exactly what I needed to hear. Another time I fought with my best friends, and without me even having to tell him, he walked into my room, asked me if I was ok, and hugged me. Yun lang. Ganun lang ka-simple.
Everybody loves Mark. If he doesn’t text, you know you’re in the bad books and you get worried. And you CARE. People he would meet at the club (He was a promoter), loved him. Everyone knew who he was, women wanted to be with him, and men wanted to be him. I, and all of my crew, love him.
In 2009, on Sept. 15th, at 5:03 a.m., Mark was gunned down outside his apartment building in Makati. 9 times at point blank range with a .45. I was in his house at the time, with some friends, and we heard the gunshots. Then we were in the hospital with the others, watching him bleed to death.
Death is a funny thing. Especially, when it’s sudden. There are no answers for death. No explanations. One minute they’re there. The next, they’re just. Not.
The 7 days of his wake were hell. We stayed beside him everyday. Waiting for signs from him, watching over his body. Crying. Broken. Heartbroken. Someone had taken our strength. He made us strong, and now who was going to tell us how to be strong?
So I left. I went back to the UK. I was supposed to leave anyway, but Mark’s death was the final straw. I needed to get out. And I did.
I went back to my Mother and Brother. Big mistake. The problem with moving back in with family, is that, they only know you properly, from the time that they lived with you. In my mothers case, the last time I had lived with her, I was 16. So that is how she knew me. As a 16 year old, who didn’t know anything about the world. Moms, right?
After 10 months, I couldn’t handle it anymore. They have their own problems, and I, was a serious mess. We parted ways, and now we are estranged. Who could blame us, you can only handle what you can understand. And no one understood. No one ever does.
When people die, they say you go through signs of shock, or weird things happen to you. In my case, for the first week after Mark died, I couldn’t park my car. I’m serious. It sounds so stupid I know, but I could not do it to save my life. I would start reversing, and then blank out. I didn’t know what to do next. So strange what shock will do to your mind.
The second thing was, I couldn’t hear a siren without freezing up. Which is weird, because the night that he died, there were no sirens.
Those 10 months in the UK were a blur. I felt nothing. I was angry sometimes, and I didn’t understand why. I didn’t like people anymore, the way that i used to. Everyone I was close to, was another person that could make me feel more pain and I couldn’t take it. I was searching for him everywhere, in every person, in every thing, looking for signs, waiting to dream of him, waiting for him to visit me. And crying all the time.
I tried to talk to people about it. Even my Mom and Brother. Some of my closest friends tried to listen. But the thing with death, is that no one knows how to talk about it. They don’t KNOW what to say, and they feel uncomfortable, so you stop talking about it. And that is THE WORST thing you can do. It’s awful. To feel something so much, something that is so confusing, and not be able to explain it to anyone, to not have anyone who can tell you how to feel better…
A friend of mine recently lost his father. I tried to help him by telling him this.
When you go through a death, a part of you is changed forever. You will never be the same person ever again. There will always be that pain, that loss, that feeling that, God damn it. I fucking miss him. It only gets LESS painful with time, so the only thing I can tell you is to start getting to know yourself again.
The way you see things will change. You will question many things you thought you were so certain about before. Sometimes it’s because, the loss of someone has made you realize the value of things in your life, things that are worth your time, your opinion on certain things. But other times, it will be because you are angry. And you need to learn to be able to tell the difference.
Living, becomes difficult. Everyday, you are fighting the urge to fall apart, while trying to deal with this overwhelming emotional change inside of you. Your body is learning to cope. And it’s hard. The emotions come in waves. One minute, you’re happy, the next, you feel as though the world has come crashing down on you, and you want nothing more than to be consoled and to cry your heart out.
Let the waves come. You have to go with the waves, rather than stop them. It is better to deal with your emotions, rather than let them fester and manifest themselves in other parts of your life.
And Cry. Cry when you have to.
One day, peace will come. I know because I found it. If you deal with your emotions, and accept how you are feeling, you will learn how to live again. Peace will come.
On days when I miss him the most, I will talk to Mark. I will tell him everything and anything. Just like before. I tell him sometimes how angry I am that he is gone. I tell him, I wish I could be with him for a moment, just to make it all better. And trust me, when someone is gone, they always make their presence felt. Maybe we search for it, and maybe we don’t. But who cares. If it makes us feel them in our lives for a moment. Then let it be.
So strength. That’s how this whole thing started right? People talk about strength. But until you face yourself at your worst. You will never know your true strength. But always remember. You are stronger, than you fucking think.
This post is dedicated to my brother and friend, Edward ‘Mark’ Francisco. RIP. #33
I wonder how it is to fly
Like someone who is quite so high
Who marches to his drugged out beat
And trips upon his own two feet
His conscience may have let him live
But how much time will people give
For the social invalid
His vapid stare is set in place
His ego plastered on his face
His life forgotten,his pride disgraced
He barters not what he does well,he uses what he cannot sell
And we all know what comes in debt.
What cant be paid dies in regret.
Hey guys, as you know I am venturing on my musical endeavors and so I wanted to share a little something from my birthday jam the other week. This is by no means the final product or arrangement of this song, but it’s my original composition called “Thoughts”. We have Nitoy Adriano on Guitar, Fritz Barth on Drums, Rick Trinidad on Bass and Valerie Villanueva on Keys =) Please enjoy and feel free to let me know what you think =)
We all struggle with things. For me, I’ve had a hard time with my weight for a while. So, today I am starting a crew. The #fitnesscrew. If you follow me on twitter, you will have heard about it already. This means that we will be buddies, motivators and keep each other focused on our fitness goals. We will push each other to work out, eat healthy and be fit! Are you in?
That’s the first question anyone ever asks me when they hear that my dad is the Filipino. I always say, “Well, my mom thought so!” How can you ask someones daughter if they think their dad is gwapo?? Pero gwapo nga naman no, although I’ve always thought he looked like the Pinoy version of Lionel Richie. hehehe.
My papa and I didn’t always get along. In fact, we used to have a very distant relationship. Being the oldest, and a girl, my dad raised me kind of like a boy. I’m tough, independant, di maarte, I know how to buy food at the wet market, gut a fish (learning that was pretty gross) clean, and I’d love to see anyone try to have an argument with me. (Batanguena kasi, matapang masyado.) Pati, I have the same temper as my dad. So…medyo mahirap yun.
I have to give my dad props. As a very Filipino man, albeit a well travelled one, he really had to do some adjusting to get used to his fiery, multicultured, stubborn AND liberated daughter. (For a Pinoy father, I am probably like a cultural migraine.) He was hard on me, critical, he pushed me to always be better, to never be content with second best or mediocre and to always stand my ground. I spent a lot of my childhood trying to make him happy, as I know a lot of children tend to do in their younger years. Little did I know, and some people still dont know, is that trying to make your parents happy isn’t what you should aim to do.
When I first joined THE variety show, my papa was prouder of me than I’ve ever seen in my life. I was so happy, I couldn’t believe that finally I had made him proud, without there being a ‘BUT’ attached to it. Then I realised, I was lost. I had spent so much time trying to make him proud that when I actually did it, I didn’t know what to do, or what to work towards. Sad, I know, but when you’re young and you dont know any better, it takes growing up to show you what reality should really be. (Reality is, whatever you do (as long as its not illegal) as long as you do well at it, you’re stable and happy, they will be too.)
So, having achieved making him proud, I started TALKING to my dad. EMOTIONS? Grabe, iba na toh. My papa probably didn’t know what hit him. Suddenly I was opening up to him about life, about how I felt about things, about what was difficult in my life, about how I wanted my relationship with him to be better and more open, especially after my parents separated. It took a LONG time. We fought, we disagreed, we had a hard time trying to be ‘friends.’ It took me 6 years to finally be able to talk to my papa and for us to actually be able to discuss life. But it was worth every minute.
Nowadays, my Papa and I will talk for hours about everything and anything. (well, ALMOST everything. He’s still my dad after all, and a girls gotta have her secrets ;)) We talk about the universe, about God, about him and his life, about boyfriends, about work and my life. I call him when I’m crying and even though he used to have NO idea how to deal with me when I was a crying wreck except to tell me to ‘tahan na’, he is now a FANTASTIC listener, and has learned so beautifully how to show me he is there for me, even if there is nothing he can do to ail my broken heart. And that is all I need.
I never thought that we would be close. But we are. And i tell my friends who have daughters now, or friends who have broken families and dont see their kids, that the most important thing they can do for their daughters is love them unconditionally. To be a good role model, so that the men they choose in their lives will be exceptional and treat them the way they deserve. They dont have to understand everything, but to know that Dad is there to keep them safe, not just physically, but emotionally, is so important.
So, I write this to tell you, I know how difficult it can be trying to get through to your parents. But always remember, they love you. They are just people, raised by other people, learning things through experience just like us and doing the best with what they know, making mistakes and learning too. Sometimes, they make mistakes raising us. But always keep them in your heart. Because you will always be in theirs.
On a last note. I used to think my papa never liked anything I did. I thought I was terrible at everything. I was the lead in a school play at 14, and instead of encouraging me, on the nights of our performances, he criticized me, even after the last performance was done. I cried. I never wanted to perform again. The next day, my mom said, ‘What do you mean he didn’t like the play? He was standing in the back of the auditorium crying because he was so proud of you.’
I love you too Pa. Happy Father’s Day.
A lot of people ask me, ‘Where are you from?’
Recently, the simplest answer for me has been ‘Batangas City.’
Ok, so thats the shortened version of it. The long-winded version is that I was born in the UK, raised in Hong Kong, went back to school in the UK, then moved over here when I was 18. I’ve been independant (well, living alone) since I was about 16 years old. (maybe boarding school doesnt count, so let’s say, away from my parents since then.) Here are my parents.
I know, i know, I look a lot like my mom. And yes, I’m one of those kids whose DAD is the Filipino and mom is British. Thats why dad is actually Papa.
My parents raised me in Hong Kong, which I’m really grateful for because it gave me a very international surrounding to grow up in, to learn to understand other cultures, people and even my own. For some reason however, I always wanted to be here in the Philippines.
I tell people my soul belongs in Batangas, and crazy as it sounds, I am most at home when I’m there. One of the reasons for that is also this woman
Thats my cousins, my younger brother and my Lola. I love that woman more than life itself. It’s true that your grandma will always be the one who supports you. When I won BB. Lungsod ng Batangas in 2004, she cried and told me how much she had prayed for me to win. RIP Lola, I love you a whole bunch.
I’m rambling again. But there you have it. I love being a Filipina. I have all kinds of weird superstitions that my lola instilled in me (thanks a lot Lola, cant do anything without being paranoid), I have very Filipino morals, (although admittedly I am more liberal than my papa likes sometimes) and I LOVE this country. Which is why I always rant on about the injustices and all that. Its only cuz I care.
I suppose the reason I wrote this is because I want you all to know that I’m PROUD to be a Filipina. And I want you to be too. Dont let anyone tell you that because of the colour of your skin, or your financial status or the stereotyping people have of us that we are any less than amazing. We are the result of some insane genetic melting pot stuff, so how could we be any less than that? and PLEASE, teach the younger generation to be a PROUD race instead of one that is always trying to be something else. Sayang naman if the younger generations are all too insecure to reach their full potential.
oh, and support OPM. We are a musical race, yet we dont seem to support our local artists enough. Wala lang. Kung may K-pop, bat walang P-pop?
Realizms. Just sayin it like it is.