Have a happy birthday there in Heaven, Kuya Denz.

We’ll see you in our dreams.

There are many ways I could remember you, but those ways can never not bring me to tears even in the middle of the day, in a celebration, even I’m in the most wonderful of places. It was never the same and I don’t think it will be again.

I wasn’t special and still am not. Average, fortunately, but growing up I saw myself achieving some that would make me feel somehow special, and I saw it because you let me, you have believed and pushed me that I can, genuinely so.

I wasn’t a happy kid–I’m always being compared sometimes to my classmates, mostly to my cousins, neighbors alike, and anyone my age doing far better than I was. My mother, who I know perhaps loved me like any other mother could, wasn’t very fond of me not just like how any mother should. Growing up, it was such a heartache. It was difficult to deal with it and still is even if I’m already in my thirties being a mother myself. But, just like growing up, it has been less painful because you have always believed I can do things I want to do, even the things I don’t want to. You have always supported me even if it was a hassle and could be tiring for you. I couldn’t even remember a moment you said no, even if I bring myself to reminisce if there was one moment in my life you made me feel unimportant, just like how many others made me while growing up and as a grown-up in this time.

It has been what? Four years? Yet it has always felt like it was just yesterday. I always remember your birthdays even if sometimes it looks like I have failed to. Maybe pain made me show things less–my sorrows, my affection to others, maybe the neutral vibe and a giddy self helped cover things for me–it was easy, no justifications needed, case closed.

How do you celebrate your birthdays up there now? Do parties there have alcohol and karaoke, too? Is there a lechon in heaven? Is it fun up there? Pain-free? Sorrow-free? I wish we could have celebrated more birthdays but sometimes I think that maybe it is selfish to wish for it because I want to make peace, that whatever it is right now with you, you are better; and celebrating more birthdays like I usually hope will not be good for you anymore.

The sorrow I feel may be of selfishness–that I lost someone who genuinely believes I can do great things and without you, I cannot seem to fathom how I could achieve more and better. Maybe that’s just plain selfish. BUT within me I know, you deserve more life than it ever was for you because you touched people’s hearts without even trying, by being just you. There are just so many things others are thankful for you and your life lived. What I feel is perhaps just a portion of what Ate Che and the kids’ feel, but I’d like to also think I hold merit because growing up as a snobby little child, I have never once felt that I don’t deserve good things and good treatment for being me. Looking back as a kid, I did need understanding, and more than the Happy Meals and toys you have collected and have given me, I am most thankful for that understanding and compassion you have shown me.

I still cry whenever I think of you. It still makes me sad. Every year it gets sadder because I feel I am rather far away from yesterday than I could reminisce. Sometimes I stop reading and inserting information in my head with the fear that each file I stuff in my brain can replace the memories with you that I have in it because I don’t want to forget and I can’t. Maybe as a kid, I wasn’t destined to grow up like others, that difference put me through tough times, but now that I can duly understand, I really didn’t grow up like others because mine was a bit more special than theirs.

I wish you are happy wherever you are. I know that you guide all of us always. Happy birthday, Kuya Denz. We miss you.

We’ll see you in our dreams.

Year 2021 is a failure, but

I was sitting in the middle of a nice garden already thinking how it will change my life, then it didn’t.

It was late at night of composing essays and self-sell anecdotes thinking how it will change my life, then it didn’t.

It was like this back and forth throughout the year. Every time I say I give up, I tell myself ‘one more,’ on and on until I get tired, but then I don’t. Sound courageous for some, persistent maybe, but looks crazy to me.

Maybe the craziness can lead to better things in the future. Maybe. I don’t know. The world really has its way of real-talking you without actually or literally ‘talking.’

BUT I did great on other aspects. I probably knew myself better than the previous years and I probably mature a little bit compare to the years before – hopefully. 2021 was a year of failure – it is true. It was a year of constant reminding myself to hang on tight and believe you’ll get there where you want to be. Maybe we need these things to enjoy the victories we are yet to attain, to love the life we are living even in its simplicity, and to have fun in the solitude the world enforced us into.

I am very happy for all the people I know who consider this year as their year of victory. Maybe I get my turn, too, who knows when but I really do hope it happens. I hope all my hard work will pay off or maybe not, we’ll never be sure. This year I’m grateful for my and my family’s good health – it is a privilege to live, really; it was an honor to fight.

For now I rest and pause the battle. I hope soon enough I can look back to this year, remember how it made me feel, but be okay about it. I hope soon I find purpose of my downfalls and the scarcity of my success. Urgently I hope I find comfort with my wounds; I hope I find laughter in my pitfalls.

Readings Update of 1/2 2021

As we indulge ourselves to more readings.

When we started the new year, I have a full list of the books that I will read this 2021 like what I always do every last of month of the year before we welcome another one.

The year 2020, when the pandemic broke out, indeed took a toll on my reading goals because of the occurrence of anxiety, keeping my businesses afloat, focusing on survival, and prioritizing health and safety, oh but of course. Needless to say from my original target of 25-30 books annually, I read only eight (8). Not that it’s a competition but it is a form of gaining new perspective and indulging myself to literary pieces; by which, helps me to relax and expand my vocabulary.

Half of the year has passed, I just finished my 7th book last night, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. There were a lot of good reads aligned this year because I have started reading the Bridgerton Series by Julia Quinn – it wasn’t supposed to be part of my list for 2021, but when I started – can’t stop, won’t stop! Indeed a good ice breaker from all the blunders of the world and extreme academic reading. Hehe

I’m also in post-graduate studies so I am (required) to read a lot of textbooks, array of research, journal articles, and the like – which, by the way, I also enjoy. It gets too technical at some point, but always always a great experience when you read works of others of intellect.

I read books even the ones that got me bored along the way. I try to power through because sometimes its end is better than how it started. In addition, it is also a good practice to read something that does not interest you much to gain deeper comprehension of matters that, sometimes, you don’t fully understand. It makes you more open-minded, more understanding in various aspects, if I may say.

I’ll find the time to share book reviews here as per usual – probably once or twice a month of those I have already read and hopefully real time of what the books I am to savor on. I like to document such because the new perspective I gained is sometimes worth more than of my travels (and I don’t like to travel much, plus given the current health crisis globally, it will take longer for us to board transport to different places again).

Any good reads you want to share?

4 years

I remember this day four years ago like it was yesterday. I might have used to the pain, perhaps it toughened me, or if not, it probably made me dense.

I’m still not used to the life living without him. I don’t talk about this pain to anybody anymore because there’s a lot of arising pain that must be dealt with, surpass, or hit to the curbside.

On this day, four years ago, I lost you, my greatest confidant; and it hasn’t been easy for me ever since. If I was able, I could have shared with you your pain and if we’re lucky, we could have survived it together.

Months ago, I transferred home again – moved back from that building where you helped transfer my things and send me off as I venture work and stay in Baguio and Boracay. It felt surreal, it felt painful yet hopeful at the same time, and even in the times that I’m alone, I also know I’m not. Maybe you’re somewhere, maybe you’re there.

The last four or five years weren’t easy – dreams are kind of shattered, I continue to pick it all together, power through, come through, and survive. How was I not able to find a true confidant in these trying times? – one who won’t budge, who won’t judge, and to whom you should not defend yourself to; one who can trust you, who has faith in you, and who will just support you with no questions asked.

I’ve been meaning to remember how it was like to be trusted, to be fully supported, and to feel home and safe. And every time I try, I remember how you are always there – no questions to ask, no doubt to manifest, just plain ecstatic on the things I will do without me having to defend myself; without you asking for anything in return, except probably for a burger after you fetch me somewhere or send me to the place where I should be. While I’m successful on many things, I also know that I’m a failure to some – men, for one. I probably can hear you saying, “okay lang yan! Ganyan talaga,” then will change the conversation about food, or about Derenz, or about something funny that happened in your office. Haha! I wish I could not be asked for more questions like you do; and yes, it really turned out ‘okay lang, ganyan talaga.’

I stopped looking forward to receiving birthday cakes because I know they will not be from you this time. I still have received some on my birthday – grateful for people who remembered, but deep inside I knew, it will still be different coming from you.

This life’s lighter and more fun if you are still here, but I’m also glad you didn’t experience the pandemic given all your underlying conditions. I know you are happier and safer wherever you are. We miss you, Kuya Denz.

New on this site

I am delighted to share with you a slightly innovated/renovated shainnehostalero [dot] com. After months of being occupied with a lot of other important stuff, I finally able to update this website and make it chunkier (more content to be uploaded soon especially on the work-related part as this also serves as my portfolio).

This site is powered by WordPress and already has a working and connected domain. Finally, I was able to fix the tech stuff of this blog and forward the purchased domain to this platform. I contemplated a lot as to whether I will push through to keeping this site as my center since that I am also managing and maintaining another website (check out happy-shift.com), but it wouldn’t hurt to beautify a comfort zone.

This blog is already 11 years old, originally from Blogger, before I migrated completely to this platform last year in the middle of the quarantine. This space is a reminder of how I started writing professionally and sharing thoughts (and some knowledge, I do hope so) online. It was always nice to look back where you started and see how far you have come and grown.

I wasn’t able to share some articles I have written during my graduate studies from 2015 to 2019, and I’m hoping to share it here, too; as well as other concluded works in my post-graduate stretch that probably can be of help to other communication scholars as well. My speeches from recent talks are to be posted herein too in the hopes that I can inspire one or two people. I look forward to a more fruitful year with this space and of course, with you!

Maiba naman

It was year 2015 or early 2016 (?), naglalakad ako sa UP after a workout (naks! Akala mo naman talaga.) It was a weekend – Saturday, I think. Gumising ako ng mga 5am tapos nagpunta ng UP, dating gawi, iikot sa oval – minsan dalawang ikot, minsan kalahati nga lang – depende sa mood. Minsan, depende sa pinagdadaanan din. Hehe

Naalala ko nun,pangalawang taon ko yata sa grad school. Mahirap kasi sabay-sabay. Trabaho, aral, binubuong negosyo, buhay in general. Mag-isa lang ako sa Manila. Never ako nakaranas ng lungkot kahit mag-isa, kahit matagal akong mag-isa. Nung umaga na yun sa UP iniisip ko kung nasaan ako after 4 to 5 years. Basta ang alam ko na gusto ko eh sana makagraduate ako, matayo ko yung negosyo, saka magkaroon ng time sa ~art~ haha, yun yung winoworkout ko. Pero after 5 years, nandito na ako sa 2020. Yung turnout ng taon hindi mo talaga masabi. Within that 5 years ang dami rin naman nangyari, mga life-changing moments. Looking back parang nag grow naman ako, ewan ko, hindi naman siguro ako yung makakapagsabi.

Masaya naman akong mag social distancing lalo na sa mga taong hindi ko gusto talaga hahaha pero ang dami rin inadjust. Madami rin sana akong gustong makita na hindi ko magawa physically nitong taon na ‘to. Ayoko mag expect sa 2021, masakit madisappoint. Ang sure ko lang eh, kung matapang ako nitong 2020, mas lalo sa 2021. Ganun ang buhay eh, hindi tayo nagpapaapi hehe

Ang dami din taong nawala, ‘yung iba because of death, ‘yung iba because of fate (pero buhay pa sila, sana). Mula sa umaga na yun sa UP hanggang sa araw ngayon, ang daming nangyari. Marami din sana ako gustong ibalik kaso hindi na pwede. Marami din akong gustong kalimutan, I’m on it. Mas masaya at payapa naman ako ngayon kumpara sa dati. Maraming salamat na din sa mga siraulong dumaan, naging kaibigan, naging kadamay, kung tayo tayo pa rin sa taong 2021, okay; pero kung hindi, salamat pa rin, ~salamat nalang sa lahat~ haha

Sana sa 2021, maiba naman. Nakakaiyak yung lipatan ng taon pero hindi naman titigil yung ikot ng mundo, pilitin nalang natin sabayan. Happy New Year!

The Year That Was and The Year That Will Be

The year 2020 is self-explanatory. It was one, if not the worst year of the decade, and it surely introduced us the new way to live (most of it I’m used to even before, at least this year I do not have to explain).

This year was also a breakthrough to help more people, to serve better, and to be strong for anyone who actually needs a shoulder to cry on, a wall to be of shield, or someone to depend on. It all happened this year. I do not want to spread toxic positivity and I duly acknowledge things that made this year difficult – how we fight for survival, how we turn our lives around, how worried we are for ourselves and for our loved ones because of the virus, and how majority of us lost our jobs and income due to the current health crisis. It wasn’t pretty. It was a hard hit.

My greatest achievement this year is I have survived and still am. My family is still intact, my friends are in a good place, and for that I’m blessed, lucky even. In exchange to the goodness of the universe, I echo these blessings and luck to those who need help. While I know we can only do so much, not stopping and continue being of assistance to those who are in dire need will still make a lot of difference. Yes, we can do something. Even the littlest of help can go a long way.

There were too many things that happened to me during this year. Highlighst are: On May of 2020, I submitted my Doctorate application and got in (yehey!). I have been completing all needed requirements since December of 2019. Even before I have finished my master’s thesis, I know going further is an option; and it won’t hurt to even try, I say so to myself. September of 2020, classes have already began and while schedule is hectic, I enjoy it so far. This month, December 2020, one semester has ended. Time flies and now here we are, entering the year 2021.

One highlight of my every year is the books I’ve finished reading each year. While I do not blog all the books I’ve read, I sure take all the lessons and the ~feelings~ with me hehe. My annual goal is to read 30 to 35 books; I try my best to read as many books as I can, but sometimes I go through a single book twice or thrice if I really like it OR like this 2020, I have a lot of things in my mind that I wasn’t able to prioritize my book (or e-book) hauls. This year, I had anxiety attacks – there were a lot of reasons; one is the pandemic. It really is difficult. I also had to find my groove in doctoral studies and to concentrate on readings that are pertinent to my field of study, research, and future publications (cross fingers) hence the 10 books.

This year, I have only finished 10 books:

  1. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
  2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (I’ve seen the film years back before I actually read the book. The book was even better! Read it!)
  3. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han (I’ve seen the Netflix film of this one before reading it entirely. It didn’t disappoint. It feels like high school all over again.)
  4. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han (That’s right, Peter Kavinsky.)
  5. To All The Boys: Always and Forever by Jenny Han (I’m already Netflix-ready for the other two installment hehe)
  6. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (Very timely to read this during the quarantine period. The lockdown made me relate/identify with Anne Frank)
  7. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson (Anyone in the workforce can relate haha there are so many takeaways that can help you process your emotions)
  8. The Marriage Arrangement by Jennifer Probst (One word: HOT)
  9. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (I know this is a TV series on Hulu (?) I haven’t seen it yet though but the book is worth the read)
  10. Management Communication in the Global Era by Gloria S. Chan (This was a required reading in my doctorate and it was a nice read. It was published by the Ateneo De Manila University Press in 1994; its contents are still relevant up to today.)

This 2021, I have put 15 books in my list (I’m ready to begin as I already have them in the shelf and in my Kindle). I think this is realistic given the hectic schedule of juggling business, academe work, studies, and LIFE:

  1. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  2. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  3. Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking
  4. 1984 by George Orwell
  5. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  6. After Dark by Haruki Murakami
  7. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  8. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  9. Must I Go by Yiyun Li
  10. A Promised Land by Barack Obama
  11. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
  12. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  13. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  14. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
  15. Bared To You by Sylvia Day

I hope 2021 turns better for all us. This was not an easy fight but I wish we do not lose the courage to try and to move forward no matter how terrible things might be for all of us.

Also, have you also read books that changed your perspective or even your life at the most? Share it here!

What (Online) Teaching Has Taught Me

This 2020 is the year that we all try to figure it out how we can all work with little to nothing resources we have, to convert everything to online, and do everything with the use of the internet. Though the internet has been here with us for quite long already, still, face-to-face interactions are the best way to speed up things, or so we thought.

In the midst of this health crisis, we try to make amends with things that will help us survive, learn, and live despite of all the challenges that the pandemic has brought; and that includes teaching and learning in the new normal, and so they called.

Teaching is one but the most fulfilling work I ever did in my entire career. I used to be a guest lecturer for selected classes in some universities – paying it forward if my previous professors heed the call for me to share something from my little knowledge regarding lessons either in marketing, communication, business, or development. I used to do it face-to-face, interacting with students who I just met and eager to know, and crawling out of my introvert personality to connect and also learn. This 2020, I am bot a student and a teacher, in an online setup at that. I can comprehend and in a way, can understand the point of view of both dimension. Both’s hard, I could testify.

I was a lecturer for freshmen college students – whom should be in a college or university campus supposedly, getting to know the ins and outs of the school, awkwardly thriving to fit in a group, and getting immersed with the new environment of a college living. However, it couldn’t not for this year as we convert everything to online to lessen the contamination. Personally, I was quite apprehensive to take the role; but quite ecstatic because being quite an introverted, online could be a safe space for me.

I can’t say that online teaching is easy. I think it’s the other way around and indeed, I have a full respect to teacher who go out of their way to ensure that their students understand something and learn something new despite the new setting.

Here’s some of the things that online teaching has taught me:

  1. Compassion is the key

Online learning is not for everyone. I know that some of my students prefer going to school because they are not privilege enough to own a decent gadget, be connected to the internet, or even have a nice room that they can be in during class hours. Showing compassion is the key on how we can all survive in this gruesome year and the year ahead.

2. Trust your students

Some may also doubt if students are just making excuse not being able to submit the requirements needed from them. However, we are all indeed going through a difficult time, trust your students that they are doing the best that they can; if they are making something up, at least you have given them the fighting chance and that’s not on us anymore. Let’s trust that they will do good and let’s not give them something to doubt theirselves about.

3. Listen and do it well

More often than not, as teachers, we are used to do the talking as we discuss lessons, do reminders, and give out advice in terms of lessons. There are just other magical things that happen when we listen. Students make a good point that sometimes we missed out because we do not listen enough. So, if you are unsure and do not know what to expect, try to listen to students – and whether you agree with them or not, there are so much insights you’d gain just by listening to them.

Making ammends

I am sure you can relate, there were high hopes when we welcome the new decade. I guess, most of us really did not expect how 2020 will go. It’s been months of community quarantine and everything seemed to have happened all at once. And here we are, ending August, still in an unprecedented time.

We heard all about the toxic positivity that this situation enthralled us with. Nothing seems to add up, people are battling to survive the virus, everyday life, and both. We are all in an obnoxious position right now. While we cope, I know that we all want a little destruction to what seems to be the new normal – celebrating small wins, acknowledging our feelings – most especially our anxiety, and spending time with our loved ones. However, these seem to be a privilege today. It pains me to know that there are people around me battling for one more day. Indeed, a little help can go a long way.

To be destructed and cave into my little world away from all the ramblings of the current nature of the planet we are in today, there are big and small wins I manage to get awarded. While I take care of myself, I also devote further winnings to helping people who are in need. While it is ideal, this effort constitutes to helping myself as well and develop my mind, skills, and abilities even times are hard.

Lately, I am busier. Which was good because I can take my mind off the paranoia that this pandemic has caused. This term, I have given a teaching load. There were too much on my plate already but a teaching load won’t hurt at the moment (or I just suppose? hehe). It isn’t my first time to teach a class, but it is my first time to do it ONLINE. I can also identify with students who are having a hard time dealing with their courses online, because it is true, it is not easy.

While we are at being busy, I also got admitted to post-grad or doctoral studies. My intent statement and University essay for admission were the ones I have been working on thirty days after I graduated from master’s last year. Not that it was a requirement to go on, the knowledge and experience I will earn, as well as the ultimate purpose of conducting independent researches are, by far, what excite me.

To get my mind off other things (anxiousness for one) and after liters of coffee, the ‘work’ kicked into my system, here’s what I shall accomplish before I start my classes:

Get organized. I’d like to believe that I am organized, but I am not, really. Maybe during January like most of us are hehe; but, if I start now for real, perhaps I can accomplish more. I am a serial workaholic, especially if I really love what I do. I always keep a planner (whether digital or trad) to keep the lists of all the things needed to be done. Or maybe I am organized? It is just that, maybe not too much?

I don’t know how many calendars I keep anymore because of work, teaching, studies, business, and personal stuff I need to track. Let’s just begin in our closet.

Read more. My goal for 2020 is to read 30 to 35 books. It is already August and I’m only on my 9th book. A lot of meditation has to made this year, hence reading wasn’t that prioritized.

Less social media. Yes, I get it. When you are running an enterprise and managing pages on Facebook, it is quite impossible to neglect social media. However, I think, this is the time to use it less for personal matters. Let’s cut the time we devour onto it a bit.

BEarthDay 2020

Yesterday, April 22, I celebrated my Quarantine Birthday. While we are in the middle of Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), it has been one, if not the most peaceful birthdays I have and I am exceptionally thankful for another year of life that I got to spend with my family and loved ones.

I am also grateful to everyone who took a minute or so from their day to greet me and send me well wishes. I am glad to know more friends this year and delighted to build better relationships with my existing ones.

I wished that this pandemic end soon so our lives will return to normal or craft a new normal then. I do not want us to lose another person to this virus; and, I wished that we came to realize a thing or two about our lives and how we live it during this period of uncertainty.

For this added year in my life, I’d like to spend it more with people who matter to me. I’d want to reach my dreams further in this life with my family and genuine friends. This year is a year of thrive – just like how my previous years went, but this time wiser and better.

I want this new year of my life a productive, prosperous, and fun one. I am ecstatic about the next page and how it will unfold – whether it be a challenge or a success, I’ll sure find the purpose of it for me.

At this age, I am glad to have put Happy Shift PH and create better product experience for my clients through products that are friendly to our environment. I am joyful to have aced graduate school, conferred with degrees, and start my post-graduate level with improved reasons and objectives. I am also happy to have worked and practiced my field in the academe, and be a mother.

I may not be big with material things not because I cannot afford or such, but I’d like to keep things that are just enough for me and my family. My current disposition is in content and happiness. Physical things will come and go, but what I have acquired so far in this life is something I can cherish forever.

Again, thank you for all the birthday greetings and love you all have sent for my birthday. I hope to see you in the next chapter.