I dedicate this poem to those who inspire me to live my life in freedom and liberty.
I dedicate this poem to those who inspire me to live my life in freedom and liberty.
Now that the g-word has caught your attention…
Today, I’m 26.
This is the most personal message I will ever write in my life.
Vulnerable – that’s a state of being that I have vehemently prohibited myself from feeling.
For the most of my life, I felt like I was floating in the ocean with an open wound. Sharks circled around me – drawn to the smell of my blood – waiting to sink their sword-like teeth into my soul.
You have to watch your back, people will try to stab it. So many people are so unhappy with their own life that they will try and suck yours every time they get a chance. So many people are incapable of being happy, that they will drag you down in their misery.
They are unable to appreciate how perfect they already are, so they will desperately try to find your imperfections to justify theirs. They don’t know how beautiful they are, so they will try to mock and smear dirt on you.
I have learned to be a soldier. I have learned to surround myself with brute force. I have learned that life is cruel and it will crush you if you’re weak. So I became a warrior.
At my lowest of low, when I felt that the world has completely abandoned me, when I was a second to giving up on life, I heard a voice. It was an angry voice inside me.
“Fuck the world! Do what you want! You have nothing to lose.”
And so I did.
I asked myself what I really wanted to have in life. I cultivated, nurtured, and obsessed over a dream…
A dream that one day, I will soar. I will sprout wings. I will see the world. And no one can ever touch me.
I have built my life around that. Every step I took, I only took because I knew it will bring me closer to that.
NO ONE was allowed to stand in my way.
I wanted to be a force to be reckoned with. A force of nature…and so I was.
I was surrounded by naysayers.
I was surrounded by people who were too afraid to dream for themselves and so they cast doubt on mine.
And I was impatient. I wanted my dream so bad. I was so selfish and bullish and stubborn.
If you didn’t serve a purpose in my life, you are gone!
If you didn’t bring me closer to my dream, you are history!
If you make me doubt myself, you are dead to me!
Then the day came that I had the opportunity to finally leave my country for good.
I was ready to leave everything behind and never look back.
I was so ready to leave all the negativity around me.
You see, I never had a father figure or an older brother. I had a journey of self-discovery that no one guided me into.
As a kid, I was surrounded by adults who mockingly asked me, “Are you gay?”
It was not a question. It was an insult.
I was 8. I didn’t know what it meant.
But these unsympathetic adults, confined in their own ignorance, shackled by their own insecurity, imposed their beliefs on me.
How would you answer that as a kid?
How would you deal with that?
How would you, as a kid, engage in a dialogue with an adult who is mocking you of what your sexuality might be?
I became defensive, evasive, and confused.
You see in the Philippines, the word for a “man who likes other men” and “a woman trapped in a man’s body” is the same. We don’t have separate words for them in our vernacular. The semantics made it even more difficult for me to understand.
But as my story goes on, I left my country.
I went to Malaysia, a far more conservative country than Philippines.
But I came to work for a place where I was forced to confront my truths and my demons.
On my very first day, in front of everybody, I was asked if I was straight.
All eyes on me – strangers from so many corners of the world – in a place where I wanted to excel and be respected.
How should I proceed with this question that I have wrestled in my heart for so long?
I could only muster, “No, I’m not straight.”
And the following events changed my life, my heart, and my spirit.
Saying that out loud made me feel comfortable speaking my truth and my dream.
I started to say who I am and what I want.
I started to share my dream with people. And I was surrounded by people who had no doubt that I will be able to accomplish those dreams.
They were not surprised. They were not taken aback.
One of my dearest friend on this Earth even said this to me, “If there’s anyone I know who will be able to achieve their dream, it’s you.”
But how can I deeply understand what she meant when all my life, I was told it will be impossible?
I chose to believe her nonetheless, but on one condition: I will have to make it happen.
I will have to take things into my own hands, fight for my future, grab life by the horns, and ride it.
My dream is NOT going to be handed to me on a silver platter. I will have to fight for it.
I will have to fight for love, wealth, and freedom.
That was my belief.
And I repeat, NO ONE was allowed to stand in my way.
Two years have passed and I found myself walking in Stockholm (a dozen countries before that) – a dream I have conceived since I was a teenager.
I was overwhelmed with a sense of achievement. I made that happen for myself. I shaped the future that I wanted to have and I succeeded, or have I?
Something was off…way off.
Most of my actions were dictated by pride. I was so self-critical. I held a bar so high for myself, I could barely keep afloat.
Then I realized what it was: I was scared.
It took me so many sweat and tears to be able to get to where I am and I still have a long journey ahead of me.
Do I have the endurance for it? What if I fail? What if lose my way? What if I made a MISTAKE?
This fear was real and paralyzing. This fear was such a heavy burden that oftentimes, I would choose to lay in bed.
Who would rescue me should I fail? Who will I lean on? Who will heal me? Who will love me?
Isn’t that a fear that we all share? Isn’t that a darkness that follows us all? Isn’t that a ghost that haunts us at night?
Fear – what a strong crippling force.
It crippled me to accept who I really am. It crippled me to come to terms with what I want in life.
And many years later, it still cripples me. How can fear be this strong?
If you’re still reading, thank you. I wrote this, not as a coming out story, because I was never truly in the closet.
I wrote this because I want to share with you a realization, a transformative idea, a force that has always been in my life that I have learned to activate.
I have sought many ways to become stronger.
I wanted to feel less. I wanted to extinguish my fear. I wanted to be, as I said, untouchable.
But what I realized, what took me forever to realize, is what a dumbass I have been all my life.
As I write this, I am looking over the horizon in Cabo, San Lucas, Mexico.
And I asked myself, how did I get here?
Looking back, HOLY SHIT, there were so many little steps or ‘coincidences’ that have lead me to where I am.
From being heart broken and looking for a friend online who ended up inviting me to go on a trip to Malaysia…
To meeting a random person in Malaysia who introduced a brand new world to me…
To the people who took a chance on me, whether if it’s for work or for friendship…
And what I realized was that I was never discriminated against – being from the Philippines or being gay.
I was never made fun of for my sexuality…
And my family, whom I love so deeply, has made it so easy for me.
Their unconditional acceptance – whose acceptance is the one thing I require – is so liberating.
From my mother who has always believed in me, my sisters who always looked up to me, and my youngest brother whom I learn so much about happiness…
From the countless people from all over the world who forged an unbreakable friendship with me.
People who want me in their life for nothing but friendship and meaningful connection…
Even the hardships that came my way forcing me to make decisions I wasn’t comfortable to make…
My life has been full of little ‘coincidences’ that have lead me to where I am.
And where am I?
I am living the life that I have conceived for myself when I was 16.
I am traveling the world and having deep meaningful connections everywhere I go.
Whether it’s someone who grew with me at work and became best friends for life…
A straight macho guy who affectionately calls me ‘bestie’…
Whether it’s talking about life under a waterfall in Chiang Mai…
A random party in the metro in Paris…
People who appreciate me just after one conversation and became friends for life…
Or in Mexico and randomly find a person who shares so much of your pain and growth…
Where am I?
I am where I wanted to be.
Loved by people in so many corners of the world.
Appreciated for my honesty and weakness.
Sought-after for my brazen spirit and my intellect.
Adored for my capacity to love.
And the best thing is that I thought I had to fight for it.
I thought I had to be a warrior, when really I had to be myself…a LOVE WARRIOR.
A person who feels what other people feel…
A person who will speak his truth…
A person who gives his love so freely…
And most importantly, a person who is vulnerable.
I never had to fight for it.
Life lead the way, I just showed up.
I was present and genuine.
I was true to who I am.
There are no words to express my gratitude.
I expressed my desire and the universe made it happen for me.
It lead the way so gently. And when I was being stubborn, it whipped me into shape.
It taught me that fear cannot overcome love.
And I have so much love to give. So fear cannot stand a chance.
As long as I give my love freely, whether to myself, to the people around me, or to the things I do…
Everything will be as it should be.
In honesty, there is vulnerability.
In vulnerability, there is love.
And with love comes liberty.
I have been childish – selfish
Like I haven’t learned anything at all
Like I haven’t grown
Like a kid
And I’m sorry
I have often looked at the stars
Wondered if someone is looking back
It gave me a sense of comfort
What are the odds of us being alone?
What are the chances?
Looking at you is like looking into the stars
I see a piece of my soul – a fragment of my heart
And I no longer feel alone
But I have been selfish
It’s like wanting the moon for myself
But the moon is for none to keep
It comforts cold souls lost at night
For it was shaped in darkness
And in darkness it found its beauty
A beauty I have never seen before
It weeps, I know
It misses the light it once shared with the sun
A light it can never have back
But a light reflected forever
A lesson that will never be forgotten
And in that light, I found what I was looking for
A drink that will nourish my soul
My soul trapped in isolation
And in darkness I was able to see
Because of the light reflected in you
And I am forever changed, forever challenged
And every night, I will dance with the moon
Knowing it’s not mine to keep
But will always be there guiding me in the dark
Sharing a piece of its light reflected in eyes