Advice to my younger self

Whenever I interview someone, I always ask them this question: What is your advice to your younger self?

The way they answer this questions says so much about themselves and how they had lived their life through the years.

And its amazing how your answer to this question varies from time to time and I would like to do one as well. In the future, I, myself, will look back and read this and remember what I value during this day.

• Continue doing your hobbies and follow your interests. Never mind what society tells you what you should do. You are better off and more alive when you choose to do something that you want and this is your life. You decide what to do.

• Just create. Not for the sake of the possible outcomes but for the joy of it. Like what Kurt Vonnegut said, just by doing something, you have experienced becoming and have made your soul grow. So just create.

• Do not reject yourself. Believe in yourself. Yes, you may be anxious, scared, or inexperienced but while you are feeling these things, continue to do. You will feel much much better in retrospect knowing that you have not constrained yourself inside the castle of excuses.

• Lastly, small things and steps do matter. You might feel overwhelmed about starting something so big but just start. You can do anything you set out to do. Also, have faith and be human.

What’s yours?

Use a compass instead of a map

In an episode of Workman (one of my favorite Korean variety shows), they went to a daycare and through that episode, I found out that they rearranged their education system for kindergarteners.

They adapted child-centered education wherein children are free to do and follow their curiosities in the daycare. They can play an instrument, play with toys available in the classroom, they could read a book, etc. Also, I don’t feel that “classroom” is even the right term for their space because it doesn’t look like a classroom at all.

This overall system promotes creativity as well as it builds up this confidence within the kid. In here, teachers do not say “sit still” or “behave”. Rather they encourage them to follow their desires and whatever they found interesting. They aren’t taught to score well during exams or be the best among the block. They promote communal activities (playing games with the whole class) and just being.

Honestly, even I think that kids as young as them should not take exams as soon as they have to go to school/daycare. They are too young to just sit still and I think the best thing that a school can instill in a child is to love learning. As they grow older and started taking exams, they will remember that how you do in a exam is not related to how much you learned.

I hope this could be applied to higher education as well. Personally, I am interested in psychology, biology, history, and journalism. I am currently in architecture program and I hope that there would be ways in which I could take up courses from other programs. Unfortunately, that does not exist yet lol

What I found interesting among a lot of master designers is that they integrates various subjects into their work. Some have took courses from other programs (ex. Steve Jobs), there are others who took up science programs but shifted to a design-related program, etc. Basically, they have knowledge on other subjects and that’s how they are able to design what they are designing right now.

In connection to everything I read, a few months ago this is what I started practicing: I used my hobbies, interests, and desires as my compass and disregarded the “map.” The map is pertaining to the pre-ordained life that society expects me to follow.

Since then, I never felt guilty of not following “the map”, I went my own path, following my inner soul. I read about psychology a lot, I read essays about creativity, I read novels, I read fiction and non-fiction, I write, etc. Anything that I found interesting or what I am curious in, I just follow it. And I never felt so happy and satisfied. Everyday I will learn something new. Gosh. If there is just any option to design my own curriculum, I would. And I would design it in a way that is filled with courses that I am interested in.

Srivinas Rao, author of The Art of Being Unmistakable, wrote about kindergartens and using a compass,

Kindergarten classrooms are utter chaos and true genius at the same time. The potential to discover a calling is available every single day. Then something happens. Somebody decided that you might stray too far off the beaten path, and gives you a map. They decide what is important for your future and these decisions become the destinations on the map.

….However, if I want to do interesting work, take risks, and see what I am really made of, I have to be willing to use a compass instead of a map.

Promoting self-learning and using a compass, allows each and everyone of us to just be ourselves. This is what I missed the most during summer breaks, it is when I just learn things without having to be graded for it.

And if you have been reading my previous posts, I mentioned this quote a few times now but it is amazing how each and every time I wrote this quote, I have something new to add. This is basically how curiosity starts, it starts as a small idea and over time as you search and search, you would have a lot of things related to it already and this is just basically it. This means that I am following my compasses very well.

Here is the quote from Austin Kleon:

“The lives of great thinkers teach us that learning is the verb of life. The trick to lifelong learning is to exercise your curiousity as much as you can and to let it guide you where it wants to go. To pay attention to what you pay attention to. To not worry too much about where things are going to lead. To learn for learning’s sake, not because it’s going to get you something, necessarily, but because you have faith that the things that interest you will help you become who you need to be.

Your interest and your desire and your instincts are your compass. They show you the way.

It’s a hard things to internalize, but once you do, it’s one of the most powerful things. It sets you free.”

Killed By Aswang


Aswang is a human-eater, half-body character from the Philippine Mythology. In the morning, it looks completely like any human. But in the evening, it’s wings unleashes and goes on to haunt humans only with its upper body. Its lower body is completely hidden away. But again this is a myth. Then, why are there reports that people are being killed by Aswang?



Aswang is a character in the Philippine mythology that transforms into a human-eating monster in half-body with wings. 

Ate – is a word used by Filipinos to any woman older than them.


Cool breeze met my face as soon as I alighted from the tricycle. The sky is in a mix of blue and violet and it is cold- meaning the sun has not risen yet. But the sound of roosters and townspeople outside their houses sweeping means that it is already the beginning of their day.

I guess it’s the start of my research too. I came from the main city, and I have heard reports that there are appearances of an Aswang in this area. I want to find out what I can and write about it for our paper.

I began asking at the first house on my right. Here, houses have no setbacks. They all are wall-to-wall, but they are nice houses. All the houses here have second-floors. Hence, when I asked the lady of the first house about Aswang, women, who were previously sweeping, came into where we were talking. 

“Oh you should not ask here.” one woman said. I heard her voice at the back of my head, so I turned around and faced her. “Why not?” I asked.

“There are no people killed by an Aswang here. It’s always there at the end,” she said while pointing at the end of the street. “When you find a grass clearing on your left, turn right. That is where someone died a few weeks ago.” She continued. I thanked her for her information and went forward to where she pointed.

I sighed in exhaustion. No one in this street seems to want to talk to me about Aswang. They are afraid for their lives. I do not want to be skeptical but isn’t Aswang just a myth? However, I erased the thought in my head. I came here to know about Aswang and not to judge these people. 

I am in my sixth house, and I noticed that it’s the smallest house I have seen from this street. Compared to where I was in the morning, all houses in this street are smaller. They do not have second floors and their houses are not coated with paint. Some are makeshifts from galvanized iron sheets. The house in front of me looks like it’s only one room, and when the door opened, my hunch was right. A circular wooden table is in the center of the house. A few feet at the back lies the sink. Then a little on the right is a door, which I assume is the comfort room.

A woman in her 40s greeted me. Before I can even respond, the woman asked, “Are you here to ask about my son?”

I got ready to disagree when I looked at her completely. Restless eyes, big build, hair tied in a ponytail, and dark crescent shadow under her eyes- this is the woman in the news, the mother of the teenager who died from the Aswang. I knew from the news that she never gave an interview. She never claimed that her son died from Aswang. Her perspective will give light to my skeptical self.

If you want to read the full short story, you can read it for free on Wattpad. My account is clearclaire, I also have other short stories written hehe. It is written in English with a few Filipino words but I made sure to define them from the start.

This idea came right from when I first watched the documentary Aswang, it is generally about War on Drugs in the Philippines. A lot of people are killed and they do not deserve to die regardless if they are innocent or not. Killing people is just inhumane. Also, with the War on Drugs, prisons are more jam-packed than ever. They should have atleast provided people deprived of liberty with decent humane spaces . But they did not.

Also, its interesting how they used Aswang (a character from the Philippine Mythology) as a metaphor for people who are killing civillians. Hence, I decided to write a short story about that.

Learn. Educate yourself. And be with the people.

Rethinking Prisons

Imagine kids going to a school designed like a bunker: drab walls, bare concrete, metal bars everywhere. How can we expect children to learn and enjoy being in school in an environment that isn’t conducive to learning at all? Similarly,how can Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs) rehabilitate and improve their behavior if they live in a hostile environment?

According to the Section 2 of the Revised IRR of RA 10575 aka The Bureau of Corrections Act of 2013, “It is the policy of the State to promote the general welfare and safeguard the basic rights of every prisoner incarcerated in our national penitentiary by promoting and ensuring their reformation and social reintegration creating an environment conducive to rehabilitation and compliant with the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Treatment of Prisoners (UNSMRTP).”

However, according to the account of Marco Toral, a former inmate and former consultant for the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC), the prison he spent in is anything but conducive to rehabilitation. “I find it very frustrating na wala kang ginagawa. Day in and day out, nasa loob ka lang, nakaupo ka lang.” Marco Toral shared his thoughts during the 7 years that he spent inside a prison.



My article is published yey! Anyways, I had an idea for this article around July and I started working for this article mid-August and finished it last month. I almost reject this idea because I have no confidence in writing this article at all. (James Clear: Lack of confidence kills more dreams than lack of ability. Talent matters—especially at elite levels—but people talk themselves out of giving their best effort long before talent becomes the limiting factor. You’re capable of more than you know. Don’t be your own bottleneck.) Good thing I did not. I followed my inner soul even if its scary. It feels good to overcome something— to have done something I thought I cannot do.

This speaks so much to my future endeavors and ideas. This year, I followed my gut more and I had never felt more alive and joyful.

Also, I had read about human-centered prisons around April. And I have come to realize that the prisons we have in the Philippines barely even meet the basic human rights of prisoners. As an individual, I wonder how can I help? And this is something that I tried to answer on the article.

Just a reminder that prisons are built not to punish but to rehabilitate people deprive of liberty. How we treat an individual is how we treat all.

Life always works out.

I read a post from wholesome-suggestion on Tumblr:

“Life works out. I cannot stress this enough. It always turns out in your favor even if it doesnt go according to the original plan. You may be utterly confused and lost right now, it may feel like everything is falling apart and there is nothing you can do to salvage any of it. But believe me when I say that this is just a transition period. Things are constantly changing and evolving around you even if you can’t actively see that. Life is changing you to prepare you for what is to come. You are growing and as you grow, you are being built into the person that you are going to be. Because see, life always has this funny way of working out.”

There are a lot of moments this year wherein I felt ‘Ohmygosh. How am I gonna get through this? I can’t see the end!’

But today, here, I am like, “I made it.” Life really did work out. What I thought was impossible to do, I did and I passed by it.

And everyday, I continue to surprise myself. When I looked at the things I need to accomplish for the day, I will be like, “Omy. How am I gonna accomplish this?” But again, I reminded myself to just think about this hour or minute that I am right now and do my best to have some progress. I never know what may happen by the end of the day but what I’m gonna do right now is focus on the now. Somehow, I made it.

Today, I did something I thought was scary. Well, it is. But I’m just so glad that it was now done.

Tomorrow, I’ll be facing another one but that’s for tomorrow to worry about. Right now, I’ve got the present.

Its hard to go by everyday, hence, Neil Gaiman answered, when asked how do we get through these dark times?, “One day at a time. Sometimes a minute at a time.”

Dealing with this current minute I am in makes the whole thing bearable. The only responsibility that I have right now is the present and I’ll do my best to stay on it and live.

Do more of what brings you joy

I just finished The Lorien Legacies (7 books). For me, its one of those books that you can’t put down.

After reading the last book, I stopped and feel. I let myself feel the exhilaration knowing that a book is finished. I just finished reading their story. Now, I can put them down to rest.

You know what?

I’ve read The Lorien Legacies a few years ago but I just discontinued it because as much as I enjoy it so much, the reviews I read in Goodreads make me feel like I’m the most stupid person for reading the book. Hence, I stopped.

Fast forward to now, The Lorien Legacies crossed my mind when I’m thinking of what makes me happy.

I realized that I should not let other people’s opinions stop me from doing what I am interested in and what gives me joy. For every day in my life, I should choose to do the things that makes me happy. For then, I will truly be able to say, that I have lived well.

Doing things that give you joy makes you alive. Honestly, what the world needs right now are people who are alive.

Hence, I continued reading the books of The Lorien Legacies, starting from the beginning because I forgot all the details. And I have never been so joyful in my life. And I continue to live like this, just doing what I enjoy, letting my interests, curiousities, and desires lead the way.

And before I decided to just do it– to just do the things that I enjoy. Here is what I read, this post is from wyattwesleywriting on Tumblr:

When I was in fourth grade, I wanted to read Harry Potter. Someone in my class told me I couldn’t because it wasn’t in my level and I wouldn’t understand it. I read Harry Potter just to spite him. I’ve reread it a million times, it’s one of my favourites. I realised after reread and reread that I didn’t understand it in fourth grade.

When I was in sixth grade, I wanted to read the classics. I read the Bell Jar, Red Badge of Courage, Shakespeare, and as many as I could find. I couldn’t tell you what they said. But I looked like I could read at a higher level than I could. I read the same books and plays in high school. They made sense, I enjoyed them, I read them not to prove something but because I wanted to.

When I was in eighth grade, I only read murder mysteries and criminal books. That’s what more advanced readers read. I wanted to prove that I could read as well as someone twice, three times my age. I enjoyed them, but it was because I was proving something.

When I was in college I reread the series of unfortunate events. I loved every single book, every single line. I’d forgotten what it was like to read a book because I wanted to. I read young adult novels more than anything because I like them. I don’t care that they’re below my level, that they’re ‘too’ young for me. I don’t care that people see me reading them.

I realised something. I was taught to read because I needed to. Intelligent people read, that’s how people become smart. Reading isn’t a waste of time like television. I wasn’t taught to love to read. No one is. I found a love of reading by giving up the idea that people gave a shit if I read or not. I enjoy it more than I should. I realised that instead of instilling the idea of doing something because it’s expected or because someone should do something, instill the idea of doing something because you want to. Instill the idea that happiness comes from what we choose, not what others have chosen for us.

I realised that when I’m happiest, when I have the most joy, it’s when I do something for me. It’s when there are no expectations, no drive to prove someone wrong. I realised that my happiest when all inhibitions and perceptions are gone. Maybe that’s how we should enjoy our hobbies.

I can’t stress this enough: DO THINGS THAT BRINGS YOU JOY.

I read that from someone a long time ago but when I read that, it just felt weird. Like I know I’m supposed to do things that gives me joy but why am I not doing it?

I want christmas lights on my room all year long and not just during the holidays because for me, lights have something magical in them. So why am I not doing it?

I do not enjoy scrolling on socmed so much but why do I continue doing it?

When I started to become aware of these things, I started taking more proactive actions on doing more of the things I want and I enjoy doing.

For me, reading sci-fi and fantasy books are one of the things that makes me happy. Whenever I find a good read, I can stay in one place for a couple hours and just get lost in the character’s thoughts. For me, reading is similar to play.

Experts are now redesigning their office systems and spaces to make it more conducive to play. Play is any activity that gives you joy and has no result. The results are only intangible– it improves your overall well-being. Hence, since the result is not tangible, people denote it as unimportant. But play overall helps you to be present.

Most adult spend time worrying about their mistakes and responsibilities. But with play, you get to be here. In here, this moment right now. And that is exactly what reading does to me.

I know, most of us (if not all) are suffering. But may you continue to play, to do the things that you enjoy regardless of what people perceive of it. What is important is what you feel about it.

By choosing to do more play or to do more of the things you enjoy, I am not encouraging you to go on “toxic positivity” but its more of, taking a break from ruminating. And instead, be in the now. Focus on the now. Focus on this hour asking ‘What can I do for this hour that would give me joy?’ or ‘What is the most beautiful thing that I can make?’

Almost two years ago when I cried to my friend after sharing something with her, and I remember how she replied, “Ate, ang importante ginagawa mo kung ano ang nagpapasaya sa ‘yo. Siyempre hindi nila maiintindihan ‘yan kasi hindi naman sila ikaw eh. Ang importante masaya ka. (What is important is that you are doing what makes you happy. Of course, they might not understand because they are not you. At the end, what is important is that you are happy.)” Also, I do not remember why I was crying at that time but I clearly remember that I am crying because I felt like no one understands.

A few years back, my dad pushed me to Kumon. At first, I was okay with it. Believe me, I am able to understand Math pretty well because of Kumon but I just wasn’t happy doing it. My dad forced me to do complete Kumon but I just don’t want it. I do not enjoy doing it. I always go for reading.

When my dad saw it, that doing math worksheets just do not make me happy at all. And he saw how much I love reading, he just let it go. He probably saw that I am old enough to do the things that i wanted and I should learn how to follow my interests instead of forcing me to do what he wanted.

Do more of what you enjoy. I am rooting for you.

August-December 2020 Calendar Free Printables

A few years ago on Tumblr, I was amazed by how these amazing artists can do monthly printables and now, I knew how to make one.

My younger self who loves to print monthly printables, created for free by artists in the studyblr community on Tumblr, did not even imagine that, years later, she would be able to make one as well and share it with others.


Versions 1, 2 and 3 can be downloaded here:

We Rarely Worry When We Were Kids

On a video uploaded by odg, they invited three young women: an 8, 12, and 16 years old. They were asked certain questions about their likes, when do they feel happy, and their dreams.

They were each asked if they have worries about the future. Here are their answers:

8 year old: If I become an adult, I think it would be fun. I don’t have any worries!
12 year old: I worry sometimes. When it doesn’t turn out so well even when I worked hard, I worry about what should I do then.
16 year old: I think I worry mostly about my career. I keep wondering If I.. would be doing the same thing in the future and… whether I’m doing the right things or not…

Followed by another question, if they ever compare themselves to others:

8 year old: Compare myself? Nope.
12 year old: I have really high self-esteem, so I rarely compare myself to others.
16 year old: With friends who get good grades or with friends who are good at make up and dressing up…

Through this video, I felt like I was seeing myself grow. As a kid, I thought of becoming an astronaut, then a teacher, a businesswoman, etc. Back then, I can’t wait to be an adult because then, I’ll be able to achieve anything that I wanted. However, that energy gradually dropped as I reached my teenage years- I became anxious and an over-thinker. Achieving my dreams wasn’t as easy as portrayed in those Disney movies. I had gone through transitional phases in terms of my personality and behavior because back then, I do not have a sense of identity, and that had unpleasantly affected the people around me.

I previously mentioned above what my dream professions are as a kid, but during 10th grade, when we are tasked to create a dream board, I was damped by cold water, I do not have any dreams. I think during my transition from a kid to a teenager, I lost my sense of wonder. Since then, I strive to know more about the world and of myself.

The following year, I read the book The Alchemist and the lines have impacted so much that I even wrote it in front of my notebook so that I would not forget it:

“[Personal Legend] is what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their destiny is. At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their destiny…

It’s a force that appears to be negative, but actually shows you how to realize your destiny. It prepares your spirit and your will, because there is one great truth on this planet: whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on earth…

And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

The title of the video above is “If you could go back to when you were 16, will you go down the same path?” My answer to that question is yes.

I am aware that I have spent a lot of time holding a pity party for myself when I was 16 years old but I had an amazing time during those years because of the people who constantly supported and accepted who I am. I had lots of fun volunteering and being part of something larger than myself. It might have been a rough road but if all of those did not happen then I would not sharing this now. I would not have this kind of perspective and journey, to begin with.

Most things that we worry about are inconsequential. And once we recognize this, we are off to a journey of unlimited possibilities and unknown capabilities. The world works mostly in our favor.

I’m gonna take me seriously.

I’m gonna take me seriously…

These are words from designer Ruth Carter’s poem Seriously. She performed Seriously in her own episode on Abstract: The Art of Design Season 2.

I’m gonna take ME seriously.
I’ve taken school, parents, friends, poets seriously.
I’ve known the cracker to be seriously dangerous.
 I’ve taken daytime nighttime rhetoric seriously
and been wounded by lovers of slick black rapping.
I’m gonna look in a mirror each time I pass one
and smile at my image sayin’.
 “Yeah, sister, it ain’t easy,
but move on beautifully past it.
Keep holdin’ your head higher
‘cause your best is yet to come.”
I’m gonna take me seriously.
And study myself.
Get a PhD in Ruth Carter
and dare anyone to be an authority on me.
‘Cause I’ll be wounded with Ruth’s beauty, learning, love
and will be dangerous.
I’m gonna be serious about me and live.

Ruth Carter is the costume designer for the film Black Panther and many more films. She shared that she does not want the clothes that she designs to be labeled as ‘costumes’. Ruth wanted the clothes to look like something that those people would wear if it was in real life. She also addresses the prejudice that she designs costumes because she loves fashion or sewing. No. She wants to tell stories.

I love the fact that she gives utmost attention to every detail in each costume she design. In totality, the clothes that she designs for a character must show their personality and history. In Black Panther, the clothes of every character in the film have been greatly influenced by the clothing of earlier African tribes. Ruth Carter definitely does not only tell stories of culture and personality through her designs but also making sure that they are historically correct.

Her sensitivity and empathy are what make her work amazing. At one part of the episode in Abstract: Art of Design, Ruth Carter shared her answer when people ask her about her process in designing costumes for Black Panther, she was like, “Oh, yeah! I go home and cry in my pillow every night because I’m scared.”

That statement was on point. While I was creating an artwork, I was so stressed because it did not turn in a way that I imagined it to look like. The whole process made me question the multitude of research studies that conclude, “Art is therapy.” In retrospect, I did relax the next day after completing that artwork because I don’t have it bugging my mind anymore.

In connection with the poem, I felt this warmth while watching Ruth Carter performs it. The line

Yeah, sister, it ain’t easy, but move beautifully on past it. Keep holding your head higher, ’cause your best is yet to come.

hit me differently.

Creating art is not easy. That is a given. However, I have to do it because how will I ever get better at it if I ain’t gonna, do it?

I’m gonna take myself seriously and live.

Gap Year Stories: July– Second Month

I used to describe June, the first month of my gap year as ‘the calm before the storm’. Because July is where I will officially start my internship plus, I have two blogs that I need to regularly update. However, now that July is over, I never felt like it was a storm. Sure, there were moments wherein my stomach churns because I was nervous about the article that I wrote for my internship. But after two days of it being posted publicly, I did not worry about my article anymore, I was off to write another article for my blog.

Anyone can fight the battles of just one day. It is only when you and I add the battles of those two awful eternities, yesterday and tomorrow, that we break down. It is not the experience of today that drives us mad. It is the remorse or bitterness for something that happened yesterday or the dread of what tomorrow may bring. Let us, therefore, do our best to live but one day at a time. – Richmond Walker

For the month of July, I truly embodied the “living one day at a time”. Those were moments where I felt miserable but they are only moments, they do not last for the following weeks. The next day, they will be gone because it’s a whole new day, a new chance to live better.

Before July even started, I was nervous that I might not fulfill the projects that I committed myself to. Now, in retrospect, I realize that I underestimated what I can handle. I worried a lot about the hypothetical outcomes that I made up myself.

James Clear wrote,

Action forces prioritization.

If you’re stuck deciding between options, force yourself to act. You can only act on one thing at a time, which means you will have to make something the top priority.

Even if you pick wrong, you’ll learn something.

One of the things that improved this month is how I do. Usually, I spent a lot of time worrying before doing something. For example, I tend to overthink how long it will take to finish something instead of just starting. But I learned something from one of James Clear’s newsletters,

Stop worrying about how long it will take and get started. Time will pass either way.

Also, since I had more commitments last July (more than what I was used to), I relied so much on a system. I have days scheduled for writing, proofreading, and researching respectively. I finally but unconsciously established a routine that works for me this quarantine (this was a long trial-and-error process). My routine and system kept me afloat for the whole month without going crazy because of the things that I need to do,

In my Gap Year Stories: June- First Month blog post, I wrote that I’ll focus on researching design works that empathize with people (for my Empathy in Design blog and of course for educating myself as well) and I did accomplish that (my logbook says so).

The month of July has been an exploration plus a lot of time reflecting. It seems ironic that the month which was supposed to be hectic for me because of the responsibilities that I need to do turned out to be a month full of learning and self-reflection (I even posted more than 20 posts here in my website for July. A personal record!). I’ll credit my system for this feat.

Lastly, I think whatever happens self-reflection is what matters. Is what am I doing effective? If not, how could I iterate it? Why am I feeling like this? Am I doing things worth the time? Am I doing something that helps others whether in a tangible or intangible way?

This wonderful quote is from Marie Curie:

You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end, each of us must work for his own improvement, and at the same time share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful.