flashback fridays – portland, maine.

Portland, Maine was a spontaneous trip. I am still not sure what convinced me to drive seven hours from New Jersey to Portland by myself and stay at an air bnb for five days.

It was March 2018. Travel season just ended and we were gearing up for the enrollment period (I am an admissions counselor for a small, private university). I was beginning to find my confidence and thinking more positively again. It felt like I was beginning to shed off the weight I have been carrying after going through a break up. I needed something, just anything different. So I went to Maine.

The air bnb was hosted by a couple, Jess and Chris. I never met Chris. Jess was the only one I communicated with. Regardless, they were great hosts. I definitely recommend staying at their humble abode on Preble St. in South Portland. It was a small studio on the third floor of an apartment building. The space was cozy, neat, interesting, and minimal. The first thing I noticed was the drapey tapestry separating the space in between the doorway and the main room. It had a cool pattern. Walking through it kind of gave me a feeling of leaving the outside world and entering a totally different space. A space where you can be yourself, where you can be comfortable, a place where you can rest. It might have been my second favorite detail about the studio. By far, the best thing about the studio was the balcony. The first thing I did after waking up on my first morning was walk out to the balcony. The cold air quickly hit me but the chill felt amazing. It was a calm morning. The only sound I focused on were the waves crashing onto the beach down the street from the studio. It was the only important thing at that moment.

Five days, alone, and in a new environment. This was a dream come true. I spent my days walking, visiting thrift stores, visiting interesting spaces, eating whatever I wanted, and gazing out onto the Atlantic Ocean from Maine’s beautiful coastline. The thrift stores in Portland were different from what I was used to. Two specifically stood out from the rest – Portland Trading Company and Portland Flea for All. Portland Trading Company was not actually a thrift store. It was a goods store owned by a tall, sharply dressed black male. He was an outgoing, interesting fellow. He seemed to have a story for everything. The space was in the basement level of a building, with a trendy retail store right above it. The merchandise was made from good quality materials. It was easy to tell these products were made with care and attention to detail. Clothes, books, journals, pens, shaving products, and many more items were for sale. I left with three journals and a sew on patch (I always try to support local, individually owned businesses). Portland Flea For All was a much bigger space. It literally had anything you could think of. Want a new, old couch? It was there. Need an obnoxiously big mirror? Buy one there. Need some fishing poles? There. Are you looking for a large, terrifying, crying baby mask? Yup you know where to go. The number of items in this place was almost overwhelming. I was amazed at the owner’s ability to shop for that many things. The idea that all of those items came from different people from different places and each had a different story of how it arrived there, was also something special. Side note, I specifically remember a sign on the window before I walked in. It read something like “the owner is the daughter of an immigrant”. Very cool sign. I walked away with a new, old dark olive green patagonia fleece jacket. I wonder who wore this before me? what was he/she like? what was his/her story?

The Maine coastline is indescribable. Specifically, Two Light State Park and Fort Williams Park. Looking out into the ocean felt like looking out into forever. The sound of the crashing waves was hypnotizing. I only felt calmness at this moment. The only thing on my mind was gratefulness for being given the opportunity to even enjoy a moment like this one. It helped me remember, there is more to this life than what I have at home.

I am not sure why but I walked away from this trip less broken than when I started. I was reminded that it is okay to be alone. I was reminded that it is a big world and I am not even close to seeing everything it has to offer. There is a whole world out there for me to explore. This was the beginning of a change in the tides. Nothing extraordinary actually happened during this trip but it will always hold a special place in my heart.


Yours Truly,


first post.

My story begins similar to many more before me. An immigrant from a third world country who was plucked from his birthplace. Taken to the United States of America by his parents for more opportunity, a brighter future, and a better life overall.

Life here is considerably better than what my life would have been if we stayed in the Philippines. My family and I are able to live comfortably and experience the brighter side of life. I have seen, smelled, touched, heard, and felt things that my cousins can only dream about. Do not get me wrong, my family is in no way considered “rich” here. We are simply middle class. The ordinary, hard-working middle class family.

However, maneuvering through this American lifestyle was a struggle for me. The word “struggle” can not even begin to describe this journey. I was stuck in the middle of two cultures. My old Filipino culture, which was still strictly followed by my family. Did you think that my parents would allow our family to drop our Filipino values to replace it with this new American value system? HA! If you did, it is okay. There are people who do not know or can not imagine what it feels like to almost live two different lives. At home, the Filipino values took over – always show respect to your parents, do not talk back to your parents, your parents are always correct, you owe your parents your life because you would not be here without them. There is also getting punished physically, always hearing about what the kids of their friends are doing with their lives, and always being held responsible for my little brothers. Then there’s the pressure to do well in school, only speaking when you are spoken to, and making sure you are being a good boy. Oh and there’s also taking off your shoes before you step foot inside the house (this one I did not mind so much). There is plenty more that I can not think of right now because my family has pretty much abandoned these values in the recent past years. Abandoned is probably the wrong word to use. I would say pushed down to the lower end of our value system. Like, we are aware of them but we may not always follow the Filipino way of doing it. Outside of the house, I was in a whole different environment. I entered the capitalistic, aggressive, courageous, stand up for what you belive in, outspoken American society. I was not aware of it then but it was clear that I was raised differently from my classmates. I was not raised to speak up for what I believe in, to let my personality shine, or to be outspoken. Most parents in the U.S. encourage their children to do the opposite (this probably explains my quiet nature). Anyway, do you see the problem here? A young boy, who barely knows anything, was forced to adjust from an old life to a new and terrifying life. I was barely eleven years old when we first moved to Toms River, New Jersey.

If you are thinking that I turned into this super weird, awkward, and antisocial kid, it would not be a bad guess. Luckily, I can say that you are wrong. I was (maybe still am) awkward, I had a quiet nature, and I had a number of other issues – but I turned out alright for the most part. I had the awkward situations with girls, the embarrassing moments with my parents, and the crazy fun times with friends. I would say, I have lived a pretty normal, average life. Wait what does even normal mean? What is considered a normal life nowadays? I do not know. What I mean is, I have lived an ordinary life. I have lived in the same house, driven around the same town, and seen the same places for about 15 years now. I have never thought about it like that before – that is insane to me.

Now, I have been out of college for about two years. I currently have a full-time job which is fulfilling enough to enjoy and it also pays the bills. I went through a discovering phase in the latter part of 2017, going into early 2018. There was a lot going on in my life, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I made it through the growing pains just in time for the summer of 2018. It actually ended just a few days ago. This past summer was easily the best summer of my life. I did not accomplish everything I wanted to but I did do one thing. I found a group of people, or a community, who I could consider true friends. Many of my negative thoughts about the world was reversed during my breakthrough. I changed to become less judgemental, more accepting, and more loving of myself. I also began working on my over thinking tendencies, my anxiousness, my value system, and my priorities. I was able to enjoy this summer with some of the best people I could ever meet. I can not stop saying it, it was the best summer of my life – mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

This blog came about when I began to feel like, I can do anything I put my mind into. I have cultivated a group of people who I look up to. Some are people I know but most are well-known. Regardless, this community I have built has encouraged me to open my mind and be brave. A photography phase came about. An interest in the arts and design was developed. A drive to read and learn new things began. I even started writing on paper. Right now, I think I am at 247 days out of 365 days for writing in my journals. I decided to start this blog when I seriously began believing, “A lot can happen in one year. Just do it and do it consistently”. So here I am, ready and excited for this new journey.


Yours Truly,