35@35: Random Things About Me part 2 — Day 1

I conceptualized this project a few weeks ago when I was in UP with Marie. She was preparing for the UP Diliman university graduation, and it got me reminiscing about my time there. I think it’s appropriate that my 1st random thing is about my time there.

TLDR version: I paid for my thesis with drug money.

So before I get targeted by some riding-in-tandem duo and killed in the streets, let me make it very clear that I was neither a drug pusher or a drug user. I was simply teenager in my final year of university with very limited money. I hardly had any money to eat, so the idea that I would have to pay to edit, print, re-edit, and re-print my thesis multiple times over was very worrying.

One time, I was walking in the street on my way to school, I saw something on the ground that looked like rolled up paper with an elastic band keeping it together. When I opened the roll I freaked out. It was six 500 peso bills. 3000 pesos was a huge amount at that time. At first I was shocked, and then when it finally sunk it, I felt sad. Because it was huge amount of money, all I could think was that someone might have lost their family’s food allowance for the month, it might have been their rent money, and stuff like that.

I looked around to see if there was anyone who looked like they were looking for money they had dropped. There was no one around. I sat in the center island near the bus stop for almost 30 minutes just in case someone would come back for the money. No one came. I also contemplated asking people nearby if they had dropped any money, but figured that wouldn’t be very smart because hello, who would say no. After half an hour, I really needed to make my way to school or else I’d be late, so I left with the 3000 pesos.

I was feeling really guilty, so when I got to school I told my friends what I found. I remember Marie saying OMG you have to give the money to a church or something so that the money can be used for good. I seriously thought about doing that, but like I said, I really, really didn’t have much money, and the first edit of my thesis was due for submission. So I said a prayer, I said sorry, God, but I really need this money right now, and I just hoped that the karma wouldn’t be too bad.

Well, karma did come. I did manage to pay for most of what I needed to do for my thesis with the money, but I went through lots of sh*t during my defense because my thesis adviser was having a spat with one of the panelists (his ex-gf in college). I almost didn’t graduate on time, but after my Mom went to my thesis adviser and cried in front of him, he stopped being such an asshole and things got settled.
So how did I know that the rolled up money was drug money? A few months later when I was already working in a sales company, a colleague was telling me how one of her clients paid for a very expensive home defensive system in cash… using rolled up peso bills tied together in elastic bands. She thought it was a bit weird, so she asked the folks in that neighborhood about her client and it turns out that her client was a known drug lord. So though I technically don’t know if the roll of peso bills I found was drug money, I’m almost 90% certain it was. But thank God for that 3000 pesos otherwise I don’t know what I would have done to get the money I needed at the time.

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Entering a new 7-year cycle

I read somewhere before that every 7 years, we go through major changes. Whether it’s every 7 years in your age or every 7 years in a relationship, something changes. This year, my career turned 14, so I’m entering my career’s 3rd 7-year cycle. Next year, I’m turning 35, and since I started blogging in 2002, my life as a blogger is turning 14 too. That’s 3 different 7-year cycles. I’m not sure what’s going to happen, but whatever will happen, I’m excited.

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Bucket List

Random things I’d like to do (as of April 23, 2014):

1. Travel to at least 100 countries
2. Travel to all 81 provinces in the Philippines
3. Travel to all Cebu Pacific destinations
4. Buy/build a house in Lucena
5. Complete a master’s degree
6. Complete a PhD
7. Complete PADI Open Water certification

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World AIDS Day 2013

Today is World AIDS Day. For people like me, this is like New Year. Unlike last year though, I didn’t stay up until midnight to celebrate with my friends from the community. We do, however, have a celebration later at 4pm at the UP Sunken Garden. If you have time, please drop by and show your support.

Today is a day to remember. We remember history, all the struggles that we’ve had to go through to make life better for people living with HIV/AIDS, and things really are much better. Clinical trials have been going very well for drugs that prevent prevent HIV transmission, and more and more we hear stories in the news about people who have been cured through revolutionary treatments. We remember that even with all the HIV prevention education available out there, there are still too many people getting infected. As a volunteer at one of the HIV treatment hubs, RITM, weekly I meet new people who have just found out that they are HIV+, and sadly most of the time they find out late. We remember that life is short, and we should do a better job of taking care of ourselves. We should do a better job of loving ourselves and others enough to use protection always, whether or not we know our HIV status, and to get tested regularly for HIV and other STDs.

Finally, today is a day we remember the friends we have lost to HIV/AIDS — the people who unfortunately did not live to see all the progress we have made in the medical field and in how society deals with HIV. For them, I dedicate this song from Rent, a musical about people living with HIV and the issues they face.

This is for all the new angels in heaven who are watching over us.


Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, a year in the life?

How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Measure in love

Seasons of love
Seasons of love

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand journeys to plan
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?

In truths that she learned
Or in times that he cried
In bridges he burned
Or the way that she died

It’s time now, to sing out
Though the story never ends
Let’s celebrate
Remember a year in the life of friends

Remember the love
(Oh, you got to, you got to remember the love)
Remember the love
(You know that love is a gift from up above)
Remember the love
(Share love, give love, spread love)
Measure in love
(Measure, measure your life in love)

Seasons of love
Seasons of love
(Measure your life, measure you life in love)

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Happy 1st Anniversary

Today is the 1st anniversary of when my life completely changed. I can imagine that people might find it weird of me to celebrate this day, finding out what I did last year, but anyone in my situation would understand why I consider this my 2nd birthday. Last year, I was scared, sad, and I didn’t know how long I had to live. I was scared of losing my job, I didn’t know how to break the news to my friends and family, and most of all I was terrified of breaking my Mom’s heart. Today, I’m healthy, I haven’t had any alcohol in over a year, I don’t smoke, I generally eat well, and with the help of my meds my immune system has almost doubled in strength. Work couldn’t have been better, I have the best friends in the world, my family is super supportive, and my Mom and I are closer than ever. Last year I thought I was going to die, but in a way I was actually reborn. There’s a lot to be happy about. Happy 1st Anniversary to me.


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